Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The year in passing ~ its been a good 2014

Its the last day of the year and I have nothing but gratitude for this year. This post has been in my head and heart for almost two weeks and then as I made my coffee this morning I panicked that I wouldn't find the time to write before the year closed. So here I am, coffee cup in tow, trying to recall things from this year that I will come back to and fill my heart with when I need to. 

I dont really believe in resolutions that have to begin in the new year, infact my chosen day of the week to start something new is not monday, but tuesday. I think it is counterproductive to wait for a date or a fresh year to start something you really want to try or begin or go back to. If I feel strongly enough about something, a day, date or a week is not going to hold me back.

Such was the previous year, so tumultuous, that anything after that would have been cake walk. But for a couple of things, some very painful, this year has been all kinds of awesome. 

The year started well. Anything that would take away from my happy shiny disposition was discarded. I will remember January for the long beautiful morning walks with Sage and K and the pit stops for chai and some days samosas :). My best friend N was in India for an extended period of time and we spent some good time together. Sage was severely epileptic, K traveled quite a bit and I gave up my 'girls only' travel plans. 

The last day of January and the first week of February saw us take our annual family vacation to Goa. We needed the time off, we needed to be alone, to heal, to recover and to plan the year ahead. K spent a lot of time going back and forth to panjim because he threw his very expensive phone in the bathroom. It was catharsis in a way, because that phone was kind of like the last vestige of the previous year. But it was one of the most beautiful relaxing vacations we have had. I met my fellow food bloggers and explored the opportunity of doing a blogger meet later in the year. 

Once back in Hyderabad, I got myself a gas powered oven because my classes were in full swing and the power situation was so erratic. Most decisions in my life have been pondered over, stressed about and I think I am fully prepared and yet don't make the commitment, and BAM! something will happen that will shake things up so badly that I will have to react, respond and decide immediately. After months of saying yes I need to invest in an oven and I need to do a recce and all of that, a day before a very important class, unbathed I drove to the nearest kitchen appliance store and based my decision on which brand would deliver immediately. I bought myself a Glen 4 burner, oven gas range and I haven't looked back after that. I did have some post purchase dissonance, it took me a while to figure out the new functions, I had to send the fridge out of the kitchen to accommodate the new oven, but its been working beautifully and I love it. Best 24k spent ever!

The most significant part of March, was that the Escapades page hit 10K likes. It was a surreal moment for me as I sat in front of my computer refreshing the page, taking screen shots at 9999 and tearing up. For the journey of a few intense months, I couldn't believe what was happening to my venture. M my friend who IS (she made me edit this :P) my Entrepreneurial Partner hifived me virtually and we had a moment of silence to savour it. B came over and we played holi with the pooch. The heat was beginning to turn maddening and I was bracing myself for the summer months. 

April, with its heat brought the Indian General Elections into focus, no one, no matter how apolitical could escape the bombardment of campaigns, candidates and the general chaos. In a home that is mostly silent on issues, K and I could not help but have polarised opinions on everything :) We eventually could not vote because we didn't get our voters ID cards on time, but that hardly mattered to what was a watershed year for Indian politics. The state of Andhra Pradesh also was going through a traumatic phase with a split evident. I know that smaller states lead to better governance and all of that, but to be torn apart and live through the chaos till everyone finds their feet is very disturbing. The only thing that I spent all my effort on was my classes. I did a lot of them and felt good at the end of a super tiring day. Sage, even with his epilepsy, continued to be a darling and waited till I was hands free to have an episode even on days when I had 12 people to teach. Work-wise, I did a lot of reviews of restaurants and that meant a lot of food :D

I cannot remember anything that sets May apart, except for the mind boggling heat and towards the end of the month, again on a spur of the moment decision, I finalised a space to move my classes into. Escapades Culinary Studio was born, just like the first class I took. No planning and pondering, just a compelling force that pushed me. Amma was here, the house and family was trying to adjust to my schedules and the number of people that would come and go, but I felt it was unfair to ask them to adjust anymore. Meal times got delayed, Sage remained leashed for hours on end and the general demands on home and family proved to be too much. I remember the phone call with my now landlord, a flutter in my stomach and my heart pounding real hard as I negotiated my rent. I did all of this on my own, consulted no one, took no one's advice, just listened to my madly pounding heart.

The separate state of Telangana came about in June. The city was coloured a bright pink after the TRS which was the main party that campaigned for statehood. I was unable to decide if I was happy or sad. A tumultous couple of months would follow with no time to breathe. The meeting over a meal with food bloggers in Goa in february and the discussion over doing a blogger meet in August was taking shape. The studio was launched with a first class and I had to catch a moment to savour what I had created. I had a cup of coffee in solitude as I sent thanks for the energy and the courage to do what I was doing. We had a great first month and it was reassuring to have old students come back for more classes. I had a freak accident and tore a part of my ear off, got it stitched and didn't allow it to derail any of my plans. On the 30th of June we had Amma's cataract operation. Dr. Mandeep who has been her doctor for three years invested the time to study her case, reassure her and prepare her for the surgical procedure. MIL, K's mom was the pillar of support and courage for both me and amma. She spoke to amma, reassured her, encouraged her and even volunteered to take her for all her preliminary tests because I was tied down with Sage. Amma's operation showed me a side of her I always underestimate. She didn't rely on my help even on the day she was completely sightless. She managed her post operative time so well that it made me draw from her. She made a full recovery in a few weeks and can see much better now. 

I turned a year older in July, I spent the day with Amma and the doctor getting her check up done. In the evening, my friend B sent me a beautiful cake via my baker friend S. She replicated my life and studio on a cake, it warms my heart to be surrounded by friends and family who take the time out to tell me I am special. Planning the Indian Food Blogger Meet consumed most of this month. The painful brainstorming, treading on eggshells around people with egos more fragile than bonechina, and the determination to not allow my vision to be derailed consumed me. I spent every ounce of my energy to give direction and shape to something I had been dreaming of for a few years. I found a like minded collaborator, but working against the negative forces which were also part of this group tired me. On a personal note, I overcame a lot of personal demons, especially surprising myself with my ability to sell an idea to sponsors who eventually became collaborators. July was quite simply a crazy month for me. 

August 1-2 and was euphoric to say the least. All the hard work, planning, late nights, gripe and heart break was put on show. We had a fabulous meet even if I say so myself. I met many like minded, talented and simply amazing bloggers, a lot of who I admired from afar, some I call friends and a lot more I was meeting for the very first time. IFBM set a very high bar (no pun intended), engaging with the best from the blogging world, showing value to what had been just a hobby and more importantly not lowering our standards for anyone. Despite all the tiresome mind games and personality issues, the meet was a success. I didn't really bask too much in the glory of it's success, we had pretty good press coverage and yet, the vacuum that it created forced me to withdraw and introspect. The loss of energy was mind blowing, and for the rest of the month, I felt as limp as a balloon that lost its air, I withdrew socially and my classes and studio took a beating. I needed to disconnect from everyone and everything that I was forced to engage with. I needed time to restore my personal balance and center my energies. 3rd August also saw the death of a friend's mother under the most shocking circumstances. She died alone, sitting up and was found a few days later. It devastated the son, but affected me in a way I didn't think was possible. After the high of IFBM, this month and the next plunged me into depths I couldn't imagine existed.

September is always a difficult month, I lost my dad this month a decade ago and this year, I lived through the sudden illness and ultimately death of N's father. Uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and before our eyes, in three weeks he succumbed. I have been meaning to write about this and how I felt, but words fail me. I saw a man who faced death with grace and strength, who bore pain of a sort I cannot even imagine with the reassurance that his faith provided. I marvelled at his strength, I couldn't imagine a lesser person going through what he did. I saw him surrounded by his family and those who mattered the most. I couldn't help but relive my father's journey. The contrast could not have been greater. Uncle's death affected me in a very personal way, it gave me closure for my own bottled up decade old grief. I was drained, emotionally, physically and spiritually. For the first time, I was asked to speak at a funeral, I admit I choked up.

The only thing that kept me going was that I began baking commercially for a coffee shop. Walking to the studio, turning on the oven and getting to work really forced me to dip into all the strength I possessed and try and function normally. K made a long trip to China and Hong Kong on work. So for most part of the month I was left to myself. 

October saw my garden flourish for a brief while. I had an abundance of herbs, tomatoes and a few salad greens. We had a lovely diwali, first with K's family and later in the evening with J &B in their beautifully decked up home. I took my first festival hamper orders and it was nothing short of madness but I loved putting them together. On the personal baking front I discovered the joys of ready-made puff pastry. This was a month when I tried to get back on my feet and make sense of the last few intense months. 

November saw a flurry of activity around friends, meeting old ones and making some new ones. I did a fun fruit mixing event at a hotel and got a close brush with Page 3 folks of the city. Large scale baking orders kept me busy, along with the studio doing multiple classes. I made Kachi Biryani Hyderabadi style one afternoon and it restored my faith in my own cooking. My home kitchen was super busy with churning out packed lunches for K and I got a mild "The Lunchbox" feeling at times. K and I celebrated our 11th anniversary and like I always say, more better than worse

As the year closes and this day is almost over, I reflect upon this year. The year that I found and embraced myself. It has surely been a year of abundance. I took pride in all that I did, overcame my fears and set higher goals for myself. The many opportunities to do good work, challenged my skills and intelligence. The forced quietness made me appreciate all that I have ~ family, friends, Sage, my work and my independence. For the love and respect that comes to me when I least expect it. I want to savour this love and be worthy of the respect I have received. It inspires me to do a lot more than I have and makes me a better though quieter person. This road I have taken, this path I am walking on, feels scary at the same time that it fills me with exhilaration. Sometimes I hug myself, sometimes I look around for a familiar face or a hand to hold. I feel overwhelmed and challenged and loved and scared all at the same time. I am surrounded by people, places, ideas and thoughts that continuously inspire me and make me want to be a better version of myself.

For the year that lies ahead, I want to start with gratitude. And I most definitely want to move out of my comfort zone. And stay inspired

Thank you my dear readers for staying with me. Whichever way you choose to celebrate, may the year close on a blessed note. And the coming year should bring love, warmth and good health to you and your loved ones. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tis (almost) the season

It's like I don't want this year to end. I've tried and failed miserably to make it last longer by ignoring the days and dates. I looked at my phone calendar this morning and was shocked that it is already the 18th.

At the beginning of this month, I swore I would make the last month of the year really count. This meant that I would work hard and end the year on a high note. After the first week, all of that went down the drain and with it, I went into a downward spiral of lackluster energy.

I spent a whole week watching videos online, whole chunks of the day just went down the drain hole that is the internet. A few mismanaged days and a whole week was lost. I managed to pull myself out of the hole and attended to some family commitments on the next weekend and had the whole shebang over for a lunch which I enjoyed making, but didn't enjoy eating!

Classes at the studio have been slow. And today I told myself that mentally I had checked out for the whole year. I hope to do my customary year end post which serves as a reminder for all that I have done, what I missed and what I look forward to in the new year.

I've spent long days reading, sleeping, really giving my attention to my cooking, cleaning the house, watching over Sage and cuddling with him. To me this is enough and I am not going to shame myself with regret at having wasted a couple of weeks. As the festive season kicks in, I haven't even put up the Christmas tree yet, will remedy that tomorrow.

Amma was to spend christmas with me this year for a change, but she's had a bout of ill health that's left her drained and so she's decided not to come over. It will be just us for Christmas now as always. I'm hoping to make it small and meaningful. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Of this and that, but mostly K

Its been a while. Yes, far too many posts have been typed and left to die a slow death in the drafts folder. Far too many posts remain still in my head. I just popped in to say hello and that all is well.

The previously mentioned house help lasted all of 10 days and I was back to sweeping and swabbing. I got another lady to help in a few days and although she is as slow as a snail, she is sincere. That I can live with.

October with the exception of Diwali was a rather slow month for me in terms of my activity at the Studio. Classes happened, but not always with the energy that I like to infuse. I kept at it, because once I have people and they surround me and I am in my teacher's mode, something magical happens to me. I forget the bad mood, the aches and pains and tiredness, the angst with everyone in the universe and hunger even sometimes. I only want to give my all to that batch of eager beavers who are waiting for me to teach them.

On one of our long drives one night about a month ago, with Sage sitting in the backseat with the window open, K said something so different from what I am used to listening that I stopped in my tracks. He said, "you have something I envy. Diligence and a sense of responsibility and commitment which I don't have. Your passion is backed up by solid hard work. The money you earn comes because you work with your hands, each pie of it." In the 19 years that we have been together, this is the first time he has said something like this to me. When you have known someone for more than half your life, it is difficult I guess, to make observations which seem well thought out. One tends to generally go with the everyday flow of things, characteristics they have are slightly blurry from the near-ness. And mostly we focus on the niggling irritants much more than we need to. 

K also told me that if it were him, he would have thrown in the towel and said Fuck it after the third month. And here I was, years later still going at it. He told me that I put the work ahead of me and not my ego and that no matter what, I get up, get dressed and show up for work.

It is not that what he said sounded like praise to me and hence I liked what he spoke. If anything, I value K's opinion on most things, he does not offer a knee jerk reaction to anything.

So at a time when I was really pondering over the wisdom of the added burden of the studio, this came like a nice testament of what I was trying to do. I was energised and felt good again about my decisions.

Sometimes, it is nice to have a vote of confidence from people who's opinion counts. I have a lot of well wishers, those who regularly give me a few shots of confidence, who I call when I am down in the dumps, need to bitch with or just plain whine about my life. This was different.

When you spend so  many years together, there are almost no secrets. You are stripped naked, inside and out. One can second guess every move, every intent, call a bluff from 500 miles and press where it hurts the most. Most of the times, we use these secrets because there is nothing else to use. This day was different. I was grateful not just for the encouragement and praise, but for the fact that time had not dulled his perspective. He was still honest with me, only thing being I liked what spewed out of this honesty.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Changes are good....

... well almost.... It has been 8 days since I sacked my house help. Repeated disregard for my time, general ungratefulness and the last straw was to send an assistant to do my work for weeks on end without even consulting me. All because she found other work and didn't think the work she had at my house was important enough. So one day, when I had really questioned myself with why I was putting up with this level of disregard, I paid her her dues and asked her to leave. 

If she was shocked, she didn't show it. I think she knew it was coming and silently left the house (another testament of how little she valued her work with me currently). K asked me to give her a piece of my mind, but I didn't want to engage with a person so disrespectful. 

I had just suffered severe scalding on my right leg with boiled milk. I had blisters all over and it was very painful to say the least. In the middle of that, I agree it was not the wisest thing to do, sack your househelp. But when one is seriously pissed, logic hardly works. 

Anyway. It has been a week of hectic activity to say the least. I have continued my daily chores with the addition of sweeping, swabbing an apartment where lives a very hairy dog, and doing the dishes, sometimes three times a day. Its not that the work is a lot, it just needs a routine to get used to. The advantage for me is, thanks to Sage I am an early riser. So by 9 AM on most days, I am done for the day. I finish cooking because K needs his dabba, put the washing machine on as soon as I come back from my walk. Washing the dishes and the other little chores of cleaning up the kitchen were the only additions. It was how dependent I was on help that pissed me off. 

With each day, as I scrubbed the vessels, I would seethe with anger towards myself for allowing myself to be taken for granted. I obviously cannot play the boss very well.

So after stubbornly refusing to allow the situation get the better of me, with the burns and blisters healing ever so slowly and my thoughts turning from determination to despair in a flash of a few minutes, I pulled myself up.

I have had an extremely slow last couple of months. I have had full days and weeks and K has been terribly busy. He works more, travels more and we have less arguments. I pointed out to him the other week that we haven't had our customary monthly argument that comes like a period. And he smiled. He told me he had noticed but was too afraid to jinx it that he didn't mention it.

Yesterday I got some help at home. Can't say I was unhappy to give up sweeping and swabbing. At half the price of the previously ungrateful employee. I also had a terrifically productive day, caught up with friends and spent time with the extended family. So changes are good. Sometimes it is the wait that makes you anxious.... sometimes it is the uncertainty. But all in good time

Friday, October 3, 2014


K had a break up a couple of days ago. I told him it was a "friend break up" no different or less difficult than a romantic break up. He'd been uneasy about the frost that set upon his friendship with who he considered his intellectual peer and friend. There was a tragedy in the friend's life and then the frost set in, suddenly. The tragedy is something I still cannot acknowledge, this friend lost a parent who he was devoted to in a very very tragic way. Understandably there was shock and anger and perhaps a lot of guilt too. K rushed to his friend's side as soon as he found out and spent some time. After which, being someone who does not believe in rituals and symbolism, he checked in on his friend but didn't attend the ceremonies that followed. 

I thought they were similar in thought and mind. From where I see it (K's persepective ofcourse) they were friends for every reason and season. Heated debates over philosophy and politics, evenings spent discussing literature and their favourite authors, and staying up all night to watch movies they loved. For over a decade, this friendship was this way.

Life has a way of coming in between. There were weddings and domesticity, milestones, career changes, ups and tumultuous downs. But they never mattered, or so it seemed.  

A few weeks ago, K told me he noticed a listless silence from his friend. That a few attempts to connect after work or on the phone were being brushed aside. He paid a visit on my insistence one day only to be treated with utter coldness. We both put it down to the recent tragedy and that it was understandable that this friend was having a tough time dealing with. 

Then came the curveball. Odes of friendship and support written to the same people he claimed to despise started pouring out of this friend's social networking page. I kept telling K that his friend, despite saying he didn't care for K's absence at the funeral and ceremonies, was upset and that he should clear it out. A couple of texts and chats later, it was off. The deep friendship of over a decade, shared out of their mutual love for all things cerebral was stripped and buried. This friend made a few accusations that K was never available to him and wanted him selfishly, not realising that he was not speaking to him anymore. That it was a monologue since 4-5 years and not a dialogue. 

This has left K very puzzled. The same friend, a few months ago, claimed all forms of love and friendship, naming this friendship as the purest and most objective, whereas all the other people in his life have always wanted something - a contact, a favour or some other kind of help. 

To K I told him that he had always invested in the wrong people. That this particular friendship was more convenience (for the other guy) than anything else and the reason I am making this conclusion is that nothing else explains the yo yo-ing statements. 

This was a guy who was invested in as a friend. He was a part of our lives for over a decade. He ate in our house, stayed with us endlessly, romanced his girlfriend (now wife) in our house and all of this we did selflessly. Without asking for anything in return, because he was a friend, and because we loved him. 

There have been betrayals in the past. Maybe betrayal is too strong a word. Shall I say decisions made based on his convenience, favouring him and with no thought for K's well being. Each time I brought these up, K would simply brush them aside and say that I always doubted people and that this friend would never think that way. But it happened, again and again, until, a few years ago, when K was willing to give up his most successful venture to join hands with this friend to follow a dream. That's when I put my foot down for the first time and said no. I forced K to rethink and that pipe dream fell through. 

How convenient it is to live in a bubble where you are the victim. How nice when you insulate your existence with a blanket of lies. How perfectly suitable your talent for storytelling becomes to twist the tale where you are the martyr. I marvel at these instances. I get that K is not blameless. He is not a guy who will call you everyday to check if you are ok. But when you need him, he will be there. But to say the things that have been said to him, is pure calculation. 

He spent a day reminiscing their memories. We spoke late into the night and I knew he was trying to figure out where he went wrong, what he didn't do right, why he wasn't cautioned earlier. He hasn't done that for any other relationship. The next morning, he woke up and told me that he had buried it, it was over for him and that he would not be affected anymore. That he spoke about it only so that he could give it its due and then bury his memories. '

I smiled at him gently and said ok. I however took another couple of days to process this. I was angry at the lies and the tales of his now ex-friend, but I also realised that a weak man has nothing but stories to insulate and vindicate him, that these were the straws he was clutching at. One thing that I know about K is that he is a man without fear. He will call a spade a spade and be ready for the consequences of all his actions. It is surprising that the said friend, who is unafraid to speak on any topic has remained silent for all the years he felt the friendship had ceased to exist.

If indeed that was true, how did he manage to feign a freindship and affection for almost 4 years that he said he wasn't feeling the love or closeness? Did he not think that the two of them deserved to sort out these things rather than break up? It is baffling how people will turn around and accuse you of the things that have been contrary to what you have displayed. 

While K is going about his life like all of this never happened, I somehow am getting drawn back to the meetings and evening spent and conversations that happened and food that was shared. Either all of what is being said now is false, or what happened over the last decade is false. Or did a convenience just outlive itself and get misunderstood as friendship by K? Answers I may never find. But I guess people are like only has their own conscience to live with. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lessons from IFBM

It's been over a week. Its in the past and it has been accomplished. I quite felt like Jesus Christ last week when the IFBM was finally over and I landed squat in the middle of loudly talking people inside an egg (An egg shaped lounger by the pool). I looked up to the setting sun over Bangalore and silently told myself "It is finished".

For better or worse, the project that I took up with a few others had been done, completed and seen through to the final goodbyes.

IFBM meant many things to me personally and rabidly to me as a blogger. Personally it was a challenge and I had fast-track lessons in multi tasking, project management, people skills and selling. There were other lessons too, but those are not as significant as these ones. The meet could not have come at a more busy time in my life. I had just launched the studio and with it came the ginormous anxiety of scheduling, planning, managing and conducting classes. K told me in not so uncertain terms that I was making a huge mistake. That I was taking on a project that would yield me nothing (monetarily) and yet suck out every ounce of my time and energy.

He was not wrong. But I was sure of what I was doing. I knew his warnings meant "don't come whining to me" and I didn't, almost entirely. The minute I would utter IFBM, he would give me the eye roll and I would stfu.

Amma had her operation at the end of June, and her prep and recovery took a lot out of me as well. She stayed independent and I got a lot of help from my MIL, but the anxiety and the post operative care were squarely on me and that drained me more than I wanted to admit. Sage could not have chosen a worse time to take his epilepsy up a few notches and while I know the poor bugger had no say in the matter, it came like a cluster and stayed there with days and nights of no sleep and added anxiety.

Personally I wanted to push myself and see where it would take out of me. I have seen a surge of energy and enthusiasm in me when the going gets tough and I was relying purely on adrenalin to see me through what intelligence, hard work and planning couldn't supply. I have never been this driven to prove a point, or make something work. I have always been the person to do a recce and abandon a project if it seemed too much work. The last year and a half have made me mentally stronger if nothing else. And I was determined to listen to everyone who mattered and had an opinion, but only follow my heart and do what I felt was right.

I've always shied away from sales. And IFBM pushed the envelope for me. From talking about the concept and articulating it to the people who formed the team, getting bloggers to participate and most importantly get brands and sponsors on board. I had a few moments of feeling like an insecure housewife with no exposure to the corporate world, I felt I would be called out for being silly and worse still - stupid. But that didn't stop me. Talking to potential participants, vendors, partners, brands and team mates, no issues - Bring it on.

I had a few very uncomfortable conversations (more on that later, in another post) all through the run up and even post IFBM. I had conversations that had me clutching at my heart while I had them, but I had them. I didn't let my personal threshold for comfort come between what needed to be done. I discovered that if I am sincere and honest, I can speak my mind and not care about the repercussions.

As a blogger, IFBM was important to me for the sole reason that I had this vision to create a platform that would not be dwarfed by any single or a collective of individual bloggers. Having been a blogger for over 7 years now, I still see myself as an outsider to food blogging for several reasons. I don't have an agenda for my blog. After all these years, that still rings true. Design, photographs, stats and PR clout still don't bother me. The blog is something I love writing, but it will never have a frenzied agenda. It has led me to several things, the most life changing being my studio, but it will never take over my life. I acknowledge the many beautiful and successful blogs, the ones that have been monetized and those that have crossed over to being other successful things like writers and consultants.

So when we conceptualised IFBM, I wanted it to be a platform for bloggers of all kinds to come and make their own, small, big, old, new, regular and not so, famous and the unknown. The platform has now been created and it was heartening to see the bonding amongst bloggers from across the country. They met as old friends. I met several people I have known and admired through their blogs. Some felt like long lost friends and with some I know I will definitely keep in touch.

Several times during the course of this event, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Doing something with a set of like minded people who display enthusiasm and energy is one thing. Circumventing fragile egos and self appointed experts who only want the spotlight is something else. Twice I considered pulling out. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had. For one, I believe I am not a quitter, for the second, this was a dream I had nurtured for so long and that alone made me want to honour it and not give up.

Becoming a solutions seeker was another important lesson learnt. Not allowing any situation or person to bog me down. And never ever talking down to myself.

At times when there was complete lack of clarity, I just listened to my heart. Some very important decisions were made as a leap of faith and they totally reiterated that taking those leaps were the best things to do. Aloft the hotel was chosen by one such leap and I am a richer person to have partnered with them. They made me realise what passion, focus and humility to accept any kind of work would result in. They humbled me with the trust and belief they put in the event I represented and made me aim for much more especially at times when there wasn't much support coming through from any other source.

The sessions turned out to be value giving and I was happy for that. As a trainer and as a person with a very low threshold for failure and high personal standards, I know that the content needs to be worked on for the next time. While there were a few things which went awry, most of the event went very well and as per schedule. The ecstasy on the faces of the participants was testimony to how much they enjoyed it.

In the end, all those fears were put to rest and we pulled off a spectacular event. The press coverage has been kind and I have had to turn off the notifications on FB to stay sane after a couple of days!

I have a mile long list of things that need fixing. I didn't bask in the afterglow for very long because there was just so much physical and mental debris to clear out. After holding myself in high energy and alertness over 4 days, I had a sudden overwhelming wave of fatigue hit me. In one stroke, my body felt like lead and I advanced my ticket to return home. I could not have trudged through another day without burying my face in the fur of my puppy. As I boarded the flight back home, after an argument with the airline for excess baggage (20 kilos!) and stone cold idlis, I realised, for better or worse, I had done it. I had stayed the course and managed to put the result of something much larger than myself before me. It was finished…. I was free to go back home and play with my puppy and sleep and eat like a normal human.

I came back home with a raging fever that lasted 1 full day. I realised how much physical and mental bandwidth this event had taken out of me. But I was very pleased, that it didn't scare me, that it didn't get the better of me and the results were there for everyone to see.

If there is one very important lesson I learnt from IFBM, it was never ever to lower my standards for anything or anyone. To always stay focused on what is important. There will be many things that come as irritants, acknowledge them, but don't allow them to hijack what you set out to achieve.

In another time and day, I could have never done this. I was grateful for the support of R. For the voice of reason and non stop ear to my rants, we formed a formidable pair and it was nice to see that passion in another person. I drew from her strenght as I hope she was able to draw from me. Valuable lessons learnt, but importantly meaningful relationships strengthened.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The state of affairs

Waking up, going through the motions of the day and sleeping at the end of a relentlessly tiring day has been the new normal in my life for the past few months. 
There has always been a flurry of activity, some that happens, some self created which keeps me on my toes. I have always been the one day batsman. Try as I want, I can plan, but the doing mostly comes in the last minute. I have always been like that and I now accept that things will fall into place without a compromise on quality only on the last leg of anything. The acceptance has made me calmer and a better person. I do not remain in an agitated state and do not keep constantly comparing the current state of affairs with a supposed set of ideal timelines and accomplishments.

That doesn't mean I don't panic, I do. Sometimes the panic is because I have lost track of time and date (yes, happens all the time) or the panic is induced because someone else is panicking and this has happened several times over the last few weeks. 

The IFBM as we are calling it is a first ever Indian Food Bloggers Meet, which is happening in Bangalore on the 1-2 of August, could not have come at a time when I was busier! When we planned it in March, I thought it would be one of those soirees that will include a few other like minded people and it would be hectic, but pleasurable and I would come away from it, getting to know a few bloggers well. Turned out to be one circus, and it could not have come at any other time in my life!

I have been unable to sleep, because of a Damocles sword hanging over my head, I have woken up with heart palpitations because I imagined  we were already on a Friday when it was just a Tuesday. At other times, I have been unable to prep for my classes till the morning of the class because I have been busy with something to do with the IFBM or that Sage has had another seizure episode and I have spent all my time with him. 

When I embarked on this IFBM journey, the first naysayer was K. He told me it will completely take over my life and I cannot afford that because I have just started the studio. Either I put it down to his general naysayer nature, or I really didn't estimate the cluster chaos that  I was to encounter. If I am honest, it is the second one. 

Not one day did I think that this would take every ounce of my energy, my mental bandwidth and my spirit. This has been one of the most stressful projects that I have undertaken. Not just because of the nature of the work itself, which is demanding, but the people I am working with. Passive aggression is no good, it accomplishes nothing positive, but drains you physically, mentally and emotionally and that is just something I could have done without. 

There are lists and things to do and deadlines to meet. This whole event, which started as a meeting of a few like minded bloggers has snowballed into an event much larger than any of us expected. With the organic growth came the list of things to do for the sponsors and partners and participants came work and lots of it. Some of it got sorted, some of it didn't. I've tried as best as I possibly could to get stuff organised and done. Working from different cities has also meant that we need to rely completely on what everyone else is doing. Coordinating schedules, fitting in sessions, dealing with multiple sponsors and 

For my bit there are days when I feel exhausted with just the talking and somedays when I am so energized that I dont care if I haven't eaten, slept or bathed either. 

Things are falling into place slowly.While I've never doubted that I could pull this off, I didn't honestly think it would grow this big. I started off with the least clout and contacts in this group and I am happy that I didn't give up and pulled my weight and brains behind stuff that mattered. 

A few days ago, we had on hand what I can only term as a 'cluster#uck' some quick consultations with a partner later, I pulled off something that I have been too afraid to do - sell an idea to someone.

All my life I have been so afraid of sales. Many times in my career in a 'regular job' I shied away from any people facing work because I felt I didn't have the skill or the temperament to do it. Life is a full circle. I am realising that more and more. It comes back to tell you that nothing that is impossible is actually that and every belief you held close to heart like the gospel truth will be shattered.

Firstly in my training career and later as a teacher of cooking and baking, there are only people I meet everyday. And I figured that the success of my venture has been only because people are buying a part of me over and over again, which means I don't suck at sales!

With the IFBM, every ounce of my skill set is being used and I am glad it is getting aired out and sharpened. This has been as much a humbling exercise as it has been confidence building.

I have been writing this posts over a week. and each day it gets better and bigger. I currently just want friday to be here and see what's in store....

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The women in my family, and the lessons I learnt

I wrote an emotionally charged post a few days ago on Escapades. I wrote because I was overwhelmed with what was happening around me. I wrote because I was worried like never before about Amma's impending surgery for her eye. I wrote because sometimes I have no where else to go and no one else to talk to. I wrote because a lot of times, when I am quivering with fear or anxiety or uncertainty over a decision I have made, no one bothers to ask me if I am ok or need anything because it is assumed that I will handle things. 

The post is about Amma mostly and how I see her as a different person today. I wrote this post where I said I never thought of her as a professional and would always wonder why her students thought the world of her. She was not overtly ambitious (a trait I have inherited completely) but whatever ambition was there was thwarted by so many familial responsibilities that I doubt she had time to think of what she wanted in life. She went from day to day, executing her duties and trying to stay sane on tough days. 

Amma was the second daughter and one of four siblings. Her older sister and she were less than 2 years apart and almost like twins. They were chalk and cheese, but stuck together till my aunt passed away in 2002. Amma was the talkative, gregarious one. The one who would win any argument and fight for the sake of the fight. She was the only one of her siblings to move away from the family and study and subsequently work in a different state for many years. The friends she made in college are still her friends almost 55 years later. This woman, gave up a Ford foundation scholarship to study abroad because she had to come home and complete her familial responsibilities. This was perhaps one of the defining decisions of her life. That she would continuously and compulsively put the needs of others before her own. There are several instances of this through her journey.

My Aunt, mother's older sister was an unmarried lady. She lived with us. I could not make out as a child who my biological mother was. Parenting was shared. The house, chores and clothes split and even now, one large part of Amma is missing because of the loss of her sister. She was a librarian, she encouraged us to read, enforced table manners (no chewing with mouth open, no elbows on the table, and definitely no talking with a full mouth). She never married because she was the oldest of four siblings and had a huge financial debt to pay when her father passed away. She decided to sacrifice her life so that her two able siblings (the fourth sibling was blind) could marry and enjoy family life. The one she intended to marry remained her life long friend until his death.

I look around and realise that she is not alone. Being single was not uncommon in their family. On both her paternal and maternal side, there were/ are several ladies of the family who were single. Some never married because the one they wanted was not approved of by the family, some had responsibilities to fulfil, some reasons are unknown. What is remarkable is that no one ever made a big deal out of it. We were never sort of prepared to shed all of ourselves, our personalities, our families for the sole purpose of being someone's wife. I cannot remember a single utterance to me as a child or as a growing girl which implied - do this, else you will be useless for marriage.

The children in the family are encouraged to study. It doesn't matter what your gender is. Most of my grand aunts, aunts, cousins are all post graduates at least, if not more. The chosen professions were medicine or teaching. We are a whole family of women in the medical field, mostly as doctors and so many kinds of teachers, my own mother being a professor and yours truly is definitely a teacher of some sort. The emphasis on education begins early, but is not drilled into a competitive sort of place. Rather, we are very subtly told repeatedly that there is no question about being financially independent, which is where education will help.

The women have lived their lives on their terms. Made decisions that were bold and benefited either themselves and / or the family. In most cases, they have supported the men and women of the family. I have aunts who went abroad for higher studies in the 60's, adopted children without being married, changed cities, jobs, had companions they lived with who they never married, had non traditional families with extended families and sometimes friends being living companions and walked out of abusive marriages twice over. I have never once heard anyone in the family tell their children - male or female to stay in a relationship that was not respectful.

There is no dearth of women role models from within the family. Everywhere I look, there are strong independent fearless women I see. Women for whom, no job or responsibility came with a gender qualification. These are not bra burning feminists. These are quietly effective role models. These are people that an impressionable 6-8 year old would look at and know that unconventional life choices were fine as long as your self respect was not threatened. These were role models who lead by quiet example and showed everyone around, including their children, how one can be independent, strong and responsible, without being abrasive. I never once questioned my abilities or my self worth based on my gender. Infact, my paternal family which was diametrically opposite of my maternal, with most of the women being minimally educated and stay at home wives. At each interaction, at each instance, gender profiling was brought up. In my case, I was always told silly things which now I feel could have seriously dented my self esteem especially as a child. Stuff like I needed to grow my hair, talk less, wear feminine clothes, study less (where to find a groom that was more qualified than you?) so that I would be a suitable wife.

My mother ran her house and managed her family with what she thought was suitable to her and for the convenience of the family and never by what standards were set out by society. I am glad for such an upbringing. I am glad that we were taught by example and not lecture. We were never coerced into decisions, but rather everything was reasoned and then the decision was left to the individual  to make, and then the choice was respected.

So when I am tempted to play damsel in distress, these are the strengths that I draw from. I am putting down one more life defining part of my upbringing and giving gratitude for it. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A month of eventful things

Mostly good, some anxious, but by now I have realised "that's the way it rolls"

June 2014 will be memorable for many things. The most important being that I took a huge step and took off the safety net that is my house. For those of you that follow my shindigs on FB where I am hyperactive, you do know that I have an exclusive space to call my own. Escapades Culinary Studio as it is now known has moved from its protective home set up to an actual studio. My classes, were conceived and was born via my Cooking blog. I didn't think too deeply when I was looking for a name for my blog, neither did I give much thought to the URL. I just went with the flow and in less than 2 minutes, decided that my chocolate making classes would be an extension of the blog, since it started there. I just called it Culinary Escapades and was done with it. 

After a few fits and coughs, in August last year, the classes gathered steam. I was done treating it like a hobby. I was ready to invest more into it. Read all about my story and the journey here. Once I signed the lease for the space, it took a month to get things started at the Studio, purely because of my various niggling health issues. 

June began with the trepidation of having started something I am excited and nervous about all at once. It is one thing to follow your passion, it is another thing to stand beside your work with seriousness and invest more than just time in it. Suddenly the passion needs a name, an address, a scorecard, a performance report and a balance sheet. 

Yesterday I closed classes for the month at the studio. It has been an interesting time. So much to learn and so much to do better. I realise now how much I took having the convenience of operating from home for granted. Setting up and doing a class in the studio is fabulous. I do not worry about trampling upon my private living space, I don't have to worry about taking 30 minutes longer with students and encroaching meal times for family, but I also need to be super well planned and set up because there is no home pantry / supplies and cutlery to dip into :)

In between the classes, Amma decided to go back to Chennai. She is under the care of a very compassionate doctor in Hyderabad for her eyes. Being one eyed and that too partially sighted, we take very few chances with the state of her eyes. Just before she left, the doctor asked for a full check up and found that she had to undergo surgery at the earliest for her eye. It is a cataract, but given her age and her already damaged sight, it is very important that this is done with utmost care, precaution and precision. So tomorrow she will be operated and while we are all anxious, we are also very confident of the skill of the doctor. Amma has had a week to prepare herself and I cannot even begin to say how grateful I am for the support of K's parents. Especially my MIL has been a tower of strength and confidence, not just to me, but Amma as well. In fact for all the preliminary tests that had to be done, because I was stuck at home with Sage, MIL volunteered to take her and got everything done. Her quiet reassurance is something that I am eternally grateful for. 

Last sunday, in a freak accident at home, a part of my right earlobe got ripped off. I was lying down on the bed, talking to my mom and K's mom after a family lunch, and my earring got stuck in the band of my finger ring. Before I knew it, my ear lobe was hanging and it was all quite gory. I had the courage to simply unscrew the dangling earring, wrap a towel around my ear and jump into the car and drive myself to the casualty ward of the nearest hospital. After some shoddy first aid, I was sent back home. I went to another doctor to get it stitched up the next day. Blocking out the pain and not thinking of the gore has certainly helped. I had a class the very next day and I decided that nothing would stop me from finishing it as planned. 
One of the things I have learnt in the past year of taking my work to the next level is to persist and persevere and be committed even when the odds are against you. Nothing gives me more satisfaction or boosts my confidence as getting through a tough day with bonus points. 

As I look back on this month, which has not yet ended, I am happy with how it has panned out. There are so many more things to do and I am no longer worried or intimidated by any of it. 

And to end this, a picture of the boy who helps me keep it real and tells me to chill out.... he never takes me seriously and gives me sharp raps if I get heavy headed :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


When I have a moment, I want to sit back and just breathe....

the smell of still fresh paint  in my new studio and marvel at how things have happened in the last few weeks
the smell of the stale stifled air in my home office which tells me I haven't sat there and done anything productive for a while
the smell of fur around Sage's ears when he has just woken up from his sleep,  I dont know why, but only that spot, and only when he has been sleeping a while, reminds me of his puppy smell.
the crisp new sheets on my mother's bed which indicate she has changed them again from the last time I lay down there
the smell of the elaichis still lying in the carry bag from a two month old trip K made to Kerala when he bought them

breathe and be grateful for all that has happened
breathe and marvel at how resilient we all really are
breathe and rejoice that we are still in one piece

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Taking off the safety net

Early this year, I set myself a target. This is a departure from how I usually function. I have never been ambitious. That has been my virtue and my vice. Virtue because it allows me to do things and enjoy the moment with nothing else but the experience. My vice because I do not push harder, much to the chagrin of all of my superiors in any job that I have had. My feedback was always "Can do way better" and that used to break my heart. 

I felt sad for the girl who always took up a task wholeheartedly, not aggressively, with the utmost sincerity and yet no one seemed to notice. No one seemed to notice the honest effort or the earnestness or that the job was well done. All everyone saw was that it could have been better. I was always a work in progress. A person who's potential was not utilised. Every appraisal, I hoped my bosses would see my sincerity, every appraisal I was given a list of 4 names who had done better. 

My clients loved me, my trainees adored me, I always had feedback averaging at 9/10. But that was never a reflection of how my superiors saw me. 

I have attention span deficit. An activity does not hold my attention for longer than a few months and that has been my weakness. I have started several things and they fizzle out within a few months. Hobbies and interests are sacrificed at the altar of 'real work' or schedule or family. So when last August, I decided to give my cooking classes a fresh lease of life, I decided to focus on targets. This was to test if I really had it in me to run with an idea. To test if what I had in mind was viable, and above all to see if I had the sustenance to see it through. 

By the end of the year, I was to decide if I really wanted to continue with the cooking classes. I had them running for about 6 years. The breaks both big and small that I had taken were largely unnoticed by everyone except that I felt guilty that I was under performing as usual . I wanted to make a decision based on some numbers - and not on a (not so) baseless "I don't feel like doing this now"

December came and went. 2013 was a tumultuous year in every way and I drew a lot of strength and courage from teaching in my class. It lifted my spirit and gave me the confidence to face another day. So by December I knew, that I was capable of sticking with something as long as it was interesting. I told myself that it was upto me to make my classes interesting, I needed to evolve as much as I wanted my classes to.

For the next quarter, I set myself another target. I was to make a decision on moving the classes out of the house. This meant I had to set a target for enrollments and objectively look at recovering overheads and other costs. By the end of March, I was convinced this was the next step - to move out of the house.

Not just the scaling up, there were several personal reasons to make the move. My home was used as headquarters. While it has served me faithfully and well for all these years, the sheer logistics of managing all the material and groceries meant for the classes was boggling. Every inch of storage space was being used and as a result, material scattered over the house. The kitchen and pantry was the worst hit. No demarcation between supplies for home and supplies for my classes meant that my monthly grocery bills had skyrocketed and I am not that great at keeping accounts! The family was deeply affected. While they didn't mind it and were extremely supportive, the stress of class day was becoming taxing. K and Sage were under house arrest for the time that people were at home. Sometimes classes extend and students tend to hang around, lunch times would get inordinately delayed. Sage is epileptic and on strict medication for it. He needed to be leashed for the duration of the sessions and that would also induce stress in him. It took me an hour after the class wound up to pacify him on most days. I couldn't have more frequent classes because it was too much to ask of the family and home. I was uncomfortable with my very personal space was now open to strangers. For as long as I could think of it, I told myself that I would be better off with the classes at home.

After all the discomfort I mentioned, it also had manifold advantages. Since the home and workplace merged together, it was easy for me to monitor and take care of both. To be able to be at home and still work is a blessing that we seldom give thanks for. The fact that the kitchen doubled up as my back office meant that I could always dip into the supplies of the pantry or my stash of stuff for personal use whether it was a ribbon or sprinkles. I could work when I wanted or not at will. Managing the logistics of a home based enterprise is gentler tho in no way easier, one can set up for a session at 5 AM without even batting an eyelid (or brushing my teeth!) or work well into the night without the anxiety of reaching home safely or keeping an eye on a sleeping drugged epileptic dog.

I began looking for a space towards the end of April. I needed the place to be close enough for me to rush home in an emergency. I needed a large and airy space with a functional kitchen. I found an apartment a week later on my morning walks with Sage. It is close to where I live, in the adjacent lane. It took the owner a week to decide if he wanted to give it to me because I said I would use it for classes. We haggled over the rent a bit, convinced that I was desperate and because I wanted it for my classes, he charged me a rate higher than what he had earlier quoted.

Once I had the keys and my heart beat came back to normal, I realised that this was 'it'. The safety nets were off. The freebies had run dry and this  really was the time to put my faith where my heart and my skill is. For the first time, I felt elated and scared as hell.

I've spent an unproductive month, without being able to use the new space. Firstly because it was bare and had no furniture, secondly because I had sprained my back and Sage was ill and between everything else, I just found it easier to do the last few classes at home.

It took me about a month to get everything sorted. Carpenters, electricians, painters and the like to fix things and set them up. Through all the angst, I felt empowered. This has been my decision, my vision and its failure or success depends wholly and solely on me. Every decision has been a lesson in patience, planning and management. I drew again and again from my inner self. Talking to myself as I waded through. Not because I didn't have the unstinting support of my family. But simply because this is a journey I needed to make alone. I felt happy and peaceful and hopeful and all things good with each step that inched closer to getting the studio ready. I have always been confident, but I have been an approval seeker. I have always wanted my choices to be validated. Sometimes I seek it from people with no expertise in the matter, only because of the proximity of the relationship and then agonise over what they have said.

I don't know why, I didn't seek anyone's approval this time. I did my research, prepared myself and made decisions. When one thing failed, I looked for another solution. I didn't go running like a damsel in distress to anyone expecting them to fix it. I am feeling incredibly good about this.

Yesterday was the inaugural class at the new place. I cannot even begin to describe how I felt. I should write another post. There was one overwhelming moment when I suddenly felt "OMG, this is really happening"

So that's my big story. This is my big move. Here are some pictures of the new place. Wish me luck... I need all that I can get.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

On being a teacher

One of my strongest memories of people, is one I had as a teenager with Amma. We were at the famous All India Exhibition, a very public place with over 20000 stalls and lakhs of people visiting every day. In the midst of the chaos, I heard someone call out my mother's name and follow it up with "Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam"

We turned around and a lady with a teenage son, hurled herself at my mother and kissed her. They spoke animatedly for a couple of minutes. The lady then turned to me and gushed about how much she loved my mother and that she enjoyed her college life only because my mother was a very compassionate and friendly teacher. She said she vividly remembers certain things my mother has said in class and it went on and on for a bit.

This has obviously stayed with me. I told my mother then and now, I cannot think of her as a professional. She to me was always the tormentor of my youth, the no nonsense mother who wouldn't entertain tantrums, the mother who every child thinks is just out to be annoying. So when I saw unbridled love and admiration for a woman I mostly had complaints about, it made me think of what she meant to others in her life. 

I cannot think of a single teacher that I have had, who has left such a lasting impression on my life or who I have affection for. I have had teachers that I have liked. Teachers who have stayed in my memory and some of whom I talk about even today. But none of the "you changed my life" experiences. 

When life turns a full circle, sometimes it shuts you up, sometimes shocks you. After a few years spent in nondescript back-end work, I moved into a people facing role with training. Immediately I was made to understand, that though I was in that particular role because of my communication skills, I wouldn't make too much progress unless I quickly developed a few other skills I severely lacked. 

The first one is patience. I call it a skill and not a virtue. Simply because this is something that can be learnt, practiced and developed in all measures. I was not born with unlimited reserves of patience. People who know me in real life know that I am short ~ tempered and willed! So patience was the first skill that I realised I severely lacked and needed to develop on a war footing if I wanted to make any progress with my career choice. 

There are so many people one encounters. In a people facing role, this is magnified tremendously. for one, you are meeting with so many people on a daily basis. Each one comes with their abilities, inabilities and quirks. To understand them and cater to them is difficult. To make oneself approachable and gain their trust and respect is like climbing a hill in the middle of a horribly hot afternoon with shoe bites on your heels. Most people are guilty till proven innocent. And I learnt very quickly, that I had to be on their side.

No matter what one's skill or knowledge, one is judged within the first minute of an encounter and as a teacher, if you fail, you can almost never reverse the tables. So my temper, my angst, my anger and most importantly my pride, were all quickly swallowed. The more I realised it was not about me, the easier it got for me and the more effective I was in my work.

I learnt also to say without shame that I didn't have all the answers. I learnt that it was allright to say that I didn't know and would find out the right information instead of fumbling or worse still - fibbing. That didn't mean that I could be shoddy in my research and preparation. The days I thought I knew everything, or entered a training room with inadequate preparation, I would be acutely reminded of how I had messed up. I learnt that I had to be well prepared and informed and equipped and no matter how hard i worked, there would be that odd day that I didn't have all the answers

It has built my confidence to speak to strangers, to speak to an audience of any number. It has made me smile a lot more than I normally would have because otherwise I am accused of frowning too much. Teaching has also made me realise that I may not touch people the way my mother has, but I have had an impact on people's lives. I feel honoured to receive birthday and festival greetings after many years of meeting a participant. I feel happy to bump into people at public places and they recall our first meeting or what I had spoken in a session. I am humbled when someone emails to tell me they got a better job opportunity or their confidence has improved or their life has been enriched in some way because of a session they have attended.

I haven't had a "maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam" moment yet. But I enjoy being a teacher and reaching out when I can. It has been my most fulfilling role and I am thankful that teaching found me and made me a better person. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Encountering idiots on my morning walk and other updates

I've had quite a miserable week. My back sprain refuses to let up. The only time I have no pain is when I take a muscle relaxant. The fact that I do not like pumping myself with medication means I don't really take it and then wince in pain. Normal people would have seen a doctor by now. But I am not normal and I can't get two minutes of alone time in the loo so forget about seeing the doctor!

Sage had a seizure on tuesday right on cue. Now they are 15 days apart and it means that he is clingy for the next couple of days. I sit in a dark room with the air conditioning on and hope that my banging on the key board does not wake him out of his sedative induced sleep. Initially I enjoyed the respite, now I just am antsy that I cannot even step out to fetch water from the fridge. I feel like I am under house arrest.

My tryst with horrible, ill mannered, grumpy people in the morning continues. Apart from the lady vigilantes who asked me not to bring my dog near their gate, today I had a run in with an abusive, toothless, cigarette smoking octogenarian who used the choicest urdu gaalis on me and the dog. He was sitting and smoking on the footpath and my dog just looked at him while passing by, that was enough to trigger off the old fart. I am filled with anger now instead of amusement. Earlier I chuckled at their idiosyncrasies. Now I just get riled up. Who wakes up at 6 AM to wait for a stranger to fight with? Obviously the women who wait for me and Sage are so jobless that this is the most exciting part of their day. Earlier there was one, now four of them wait up for me. Today, the old man yelling at me really threw me off. I yelled back and told him to fuck off. I did remember that he was older than my mother and maybe was alone and sad. But what the hell, I couldn't tolerate his abusive language for more than 60 seconds.

What kind of people are these? and why am I the one to meet them first thing in the morning even before coffee?

My back catch has ensured that I have made very slow progress with the new place. So far I have srcubbed the kitchen tiles from all the gunk and grease, moved all the paper and non perishable items and yesterday I got the pest control guys to treat the place for cockroaches as a precaution.

Next week, I look forward to getting a wall painted and installing a few shelves. I also need to buy a fridge and move my ovens. The furniture will come next weekend. I am hoping that the place will be functional from next month. I am still contemplating about moving my office there. It is ambitious, but may be impractical. Stepping out to just check emails and stuff may be unrealistic. However on the suggestion of a good friend, I plan to set up an old laptop and printer there in case of emergencies.

Just writing about this new place has lifted my spirits today. I need to go out and finish prepping for my class today. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The truth about me

Sometimes, I cannot recognise myself. The unabashed approval seeker of a few decades ago. The life of the party. The person who wanted everyone to know, like and approve of her. The one who outwardly wanted all the attention and yet cringed and felt uncomfortable when the spotlight was on her.

I grew up wanting like every other teenager to be popular. I went out of my way to hide my insecurities. With a less than ideal family situation, I was eager to show people I was normal and likable and fun to be with. That made me more friendly than I actually felt and certainly less assertive. All my secrets were hidden away in the noise I produced.

When I entered my mid twenties, I had a small and secure group of friends. Some of them still remain in my life... Some I outgrew but have fond memories of.

When I got married, unlike every newly wed ( and I am making a very generalised sweeping statement), I did not get cocooned and fall out of touch with friends. Infact on the contrary, K and I went all out to be that young married couple who's door is always open. We had friends, friends of friends and then some. I enjoyed that phase too.... of his friends becoming mine, and mine becoming his and the lines blurring. We moved homes, went through a phase where we had to practice extreme financial discipline to get by and as a result, our friends list whittled down to those who would not mind the downgrade from noisy night club to quiet balcony.

I think around the time that I was entering my 30's having quit my job and in looking for meaningful things to do, I found that despite the fact that my general countenance is loud and aggressive, I am quite the social introvert. My friend N made this discovery and it must speak for the relationship we have, that she recognised and acknowledged this trait about me. I love having people over, as much as I need my quiet time.  After every couple of days of intense socializing and activities involving others, I need my down time. I need my silence and my space. I am territorial and get cranky when it is usurped and encroached upon. I have OCD and it shows even in how vessels need to be arranged inside the kitchen cabinets and it gets to my gut when even my Mom does it another way. 

Slowly but surely, the long hours and silence of being alone at home forced me to calm the fuck down, think and figure out a few things. I don't believe I have "arrived" at suitable answers to all my questions. But I have surely learnt that there are questions, and I will find answers...sometimes sooner than I think, sometimes later. I found that it is also ok to have unanswered questions, to be in doubt and yet go with instinct. Rarely have I been wrong when I have followed my gut. When I have forced myself to work / think / live according to someone else's logic, that's when I have fallen flat. 

So the truth is, I continue to protect myself fiercely. My thoughts, wants, needs, dreams. The difference is that I do not feel the need to make excuses for it anymore. I think this more than anything, has made me bolder and stronger. We all have imaginary conversations, of what we will say when asked this and that. I had most of mine this way. The difference is that now I say it out loud. Politely, but firmly. The truth is that the realisation that I need to nurture myself first, my family and those I love next has been very liberating. 

I love more freely now. Because my love is spent on the people I hold precious and not in the quest of being popular. I speak my mind more now and yet get into less arguments and fights. I am more confident in my decisions because I weigh the pros and cons I realise more than anything else, what I want for myself is as important as anything else that I do. That I cannot be a good person or fulfill any relationships unless I am at peace with myself. 

And this has been the most rewarding realisation for me.