A renewed fresh perspective

A fresh perspective

A wonderful thing happened to me last week. Two things actually. I got to meet / talk to some of my closest friends and it led to conversations which I was in dire need of. Secondly, I started reading a book that I had read as a teenager. And I see the world and myself in a new light, which used to shine within me when I was a young girl.

Since some time now I have felt like getting in touch with the people who knew me while I was growing up, in my teens and early 20s. And asking them one question. “Was I always such a worrier?”

I am much more confident now, I can be assertive on issues that matter to me, but I am so worried all the time. Worried about the company, the employee who has resigned, worried about the child, about someone dying, about hairloss, Modi-ji’s policies and everything under the sun. I want to know if this was how I used to be or is this something I have picked up along the way? Because as far as I remember, I used to be a fun person. Easy to break into spontaneous laughter and always ready to smile. Now I feel as if I am a tightly strung ball of wool with frayed edges and threads coming out which I am constantly trying to tuck in. The softness, the laughter is hard to come by now.

But not in this week that went by. Two of my best friends from school made me laugh so much that my sides hurt. The restaurant was almost about to throw us out because of the ruckus we were creating. We remembered how we would crackle on silly jokes in school and leap across the room to give a high-five and laugh uncontrollably. Both of them confided that they are as much worried now about everything as I am and perhaps its just this growing up business that sucks. One of them, the chirpiest girl I’ve known said that she hates talking now. Everything feels fake. But that night we talked. We convinced each other that this is a phase and it shall pass. We must keep reminding each other of who we were and of who we are deep within.

Another friend assured me on WhatsApp that I was always “optimistic and looked at the world amidst chaos like you always found the needle in the proverbial haystack”. These words were a balm to me. Chaos is everywhere, why had I forgotten to find my needle of peace?

A little bit of peace was found in Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist. I was 18 years old when the book came out and it stunned me. I had a purchased a pirated copy somewhere on the street shops of Mumbai, it was missing a few pages, but the message was alive. The words were magical. I dreamt of going to a dessert after reading it. I am reading that one again, from a fresh perspective. It’s a simple book which tells you to believe in chances, in the soul of the world. Of having faith in Maktub, ‘that what is written’. People believe in God, some believe in science, some others in holy men and women. I started believing in destiny. It’s all already written. So many things could have happened if something else had worked out or if something hadn’t worked out. We would be entirely different people if just one thing in life had changed tracks. But this is where we are, for better or worse, this is what is written for us. Now this doesn’t mean we stop working hard towards what we believe in, but its always “Karma kar, phal ki chinta na kar”. Dont worry about something that didn’t happen exactly as you thought it would, but what happened is the best for you. I also know it can get difficult to believe this in times of despair, but I assure you that once you are out of the tunnel, you will see the magic that went through you.

In this glitzy age, more things come to you than you can digest. Fancy places, ground breaking concepts and songs that you can’t make a word of.  It’s like spinning all the time and you can only see everything in a blur.

But I am slowly bringing back things which I cherished and savoured 10 years back. Arjun and I dance to the tune of ‘Chhaiyya chhaiyya’ and those wonderful 90s songs. I have made vow to meet and talk to my old friends more often now. To read my journals from that time and start believing again that “everything happens for the good”.

May you too hear the language of your soul.



The Paradox of Choice : Choosing the best one, or the good enough?



Yesterday morning I read a brilliant piece in The Atlantic about Choice Overload. A peculiar phenomenon of our times where we have too many options- optimising that choice and selecting the best one suited to us is nerve-wracking. I wish I had read it before, I would have been a happier person at Japur Literature Festival over the last weekend.

After 7 years of ‘I-wish-i-could-go-to-JLF’, I was finally there. For three days, attending about 6-7 sessions or panel discussions each day. It was all great, you must have seen a countless number of articles about JLF floating everywhere, I won’t go deeper into it. But my mind was constantly in a dilemma. I couldn’t sit still in any one session, couldnt concentrate on what was happening and as per the new terminology, I was always having FOMO (Fear of missing out, you guys!).

Two days before going to Jaipur, I sat down with a printed list of sessions, googled the authors-speakers and highlighted those I wanted to attend. Before going, I knew exactly what I was likely to attend. My first morning at JLF began with the ethereal Swanand Kirkire singing O ri Chiraiyaa, Baanwara Mann and I was moved to tears on a cold winter morning while sipping the kullad-wali chai. I felt at peace and ready for the next 3 days of literary delights. In the next session Gulzaar saab released his book ‘Suspected Poetry’ and read a few verses. Thats when it hit me for the first time. 20 minutes into the one hour session, I started fidgeting. If Gulzaar saab was only reading the poetry out loud, I could just buy the book and read it myself. I should have rather attended the panel discussion on ‘Understanding Indian Aesthetics’. There was no way to leave that packed lawn venue, neither could I sit back and relish Gulzar’s baritone, his urgency of words, the composition and the pauses. I was berating myself for not choosing wisely and not having gone to some other session to begin with.


The same feeling kept creeping back throughtout the entire day. No matter what Mridula Koshi was saying about volunteering and her community library Deepalaya in Delhi, or when Shubha Vilas was explaining the difference between ananda and sukh, or when Nassim Nicholas Taleb was talking about disruptions and the black swans currently in the society, I was  frantically checking my printed list of sessions to see if I should leave this one and sneak into another session, or which one to attend next and so on. I was supremely exhausted at the end of the day. I wonder if it was from listening to so many peope in a day or from trying to be in many places at the same time.


Next morning I accidentally landed up in Nandana Sen‘s interactive book release, because I was drawn towards her. Her persona, how beautifully and articulately she speaks and how gorgeous she looks. There were about 15 kids on the stage with her and she read out from her children’s illustrated book – Not Yet!. Watching all those kids and her on stage made me miss my baby boy back home so much, that I decided to get that book author-signed for him and read it out aloud just like Nandana was doing. Jumping like a monkey, crawing like a crow – all inane acts but they filled me with joy. I was sure missing Chandrahas Choudhary moderating a discussion on how the page is mightier than the screen, but so what?! Monkeys and giraffes and little kids are way more exciting.

After that I grabbed a bowl of steaming hot Maggi and sat on the steps watching multicolored paper fans put up near the entrance. I was constantly telling myself – ‘Relax, be at ease. This is not a competition to hear the most ideas. Take in a few and let it sink in.’ And saying so I ran to hear the author Rob Schmitz read from his book ‘The Secret of Eternal Happiness’. Left it mid-way and ran back to hear Amitabh Kant talk about Incredible India. Oh the pains of having too many interesting things to do all once.

I thought something was wrong with me. Days like these where you can indulge in yourself are rare once you have a baby. May be I was trying to pack it all in, really did not want to miss out on a single minute. I wished I did not have so many options to begin with, I wished there was only one auditorium/lawn venue that you could attend for that day and you had to sit through it. Without any other alternative. And thats excatly what I did for the third day.

There were two beautiful lawns at the Diggi palace and the weather was brilliant, so I picked the lawns over sitting cooped up in an auditorium. Simple. I attended 3 sessions in each lawn, got the best seats since I was already there and got to hear a wide variety of topics. Some even outside my comfort zone. From demonetisation to nutrition of the girl child to the art of writing a novel and creating fiction. I was composed, took a lot of notes and generally felt much better. Inspired and confident.


A rollercoaster 3-day ride, it was difficult to articluate what was happening. Until I read the article from Atlantic. I was trying to be a “maximizer” trying to find the best session for myself. Instead it’s so much better to be a “satisficer”, select a good enough session and enjoy whatever is in front of you.

Different things work for different people, but I know for sure that this one works for me. How about you? Do you thinks it is okay to be a satsficer or is it essential to be a maximiser? Or as my father-in-law always says : “Yes and No. Depends.”




Unconferenced and Electrified in Goa


Last weekend I was in a very different world. A world where a mildly shy and conservative girl like me spoke to almost 100 new people in two days, introduced myself as a writer and baker, spent the first night away from my 14 month old son , drank close to 4 pints of beer each day and met the original Made in India : Milind Soman. This might be a regular feature for everyone else at The Goa Project, but not for me – your run of the mill Chartered Accountant with a full time job and a small baby.

Arjun, my little monster weaned himself when he turned 12 months old. He wanted no more of momma’s milk. And it happened overnight. I was shocked and felt rejected. 365 days and nights spent feeding him had come to an end and he had fully transitioned to solid food. I needed a closure ceremony. A glass of wine was good, but I finally could go away for more than 4-5 hours. The Goa Project was perfect for this. It’s called an Unconference. A place where people from different walks of life come together to brainstorm ideas and get creative. People pitch in topics they want to talk about and those which get upvoted are finally presented in Goa. Over two days, I attended at story telling session by Deeptha , a spoken word poetry session by Rochelle, one on theatre by Danish Hussain, a workshop on Chindogu and how to publish a book by Tathagat, the 100 Saree pact story by my friend Monika, a dialogue about women entrepreneurs and related issues by Kavita a very interactive session by Avani on love (read sex) and glimpsed through several other sessions. The striking difference between this (un)conference and others was that you could move between talks, go and sit wherever you like and no one thought it was rude. The weather was jovial, free booze was flowing throughout and interesting conversations were happening at every corner. What was to not like about it?


I will be honest to you. Some of the discussions made me a little uncomfortable. I had sure read 50 Shades of Grey in the anonymity of my kindle, but I couldn’t sit through a talk on BDSM and all the Sub-dom terrains without cringing several times. When later someone asked a question that what if all money was to be replaced with sex, I was shocked and confused as to what would happily married people like me buy stuff with, I was promptly given an answer – ‘happily married doesn’t exist’. Well, I begged to differ, but never mind.

I had a good two days, talking to different people. Some of the most eye-opening insights were found in a place least expected. On the second day, I was talking to a DJ of a popular club and contrary to what I used to think, his is the most solitary job. A room full of people and yet no one you are with. And the terrible disadvantages of passive smoking and the guilt of encouraging people to get drunk so that the club makes profit. But he loved his job and thats what makes the world go round.

So many people are doing such out-of-the-box stuff – it’s hard to sit in an AC office and think of those things. Be it literature, theatre, poetry, conservation, renewable energy, love, sex, photography, documentaries – there is so much that can be explored and there are people out there doing that and getting funded for their innovations. It feels like the best time to be alive, alive in India. Albeit certain people might not think so, I firmly believe that.

The evenings there were especially beautiful with the cool breeze off Dona Paula and live music. I had a relaxing weekend and when I met my son once home, his raw emotions and happiness at seeing his mommy made him dance for a couple of minutes. And then he hugged me and planted his drool soaked kisses all over my cheek. That was the best best part. The husband took a video of it and I watch it a dozen times each day.

I like this place I am at. But if someone asks me, do you swipe right or left? I have no idea. I have been ‘ happily married’ for almost 5 years now and I guess all those Tinder phrases are lost on me. Well, I am getting too old for that shit anyway. The big 30 is approaching and it’s time to settle down.

See you next year at TGP 2017.

TGP snapshot

Photo by Nivas Ravichandran