Tag Archives: Indianblog

To Love And be Loved. (part 1)

A cool sea breeze blew into Nirvana Kurien’s musty apartment, the salty smell of the Bombay sea line and stale cigarettes  coaxing her awake. Nirvana savored the first few tranquil minutes of dawn soon after she awoke, spent entwined in her sheets neither asleep nor fully conscious. Those few minutes of oblivion allowed her to momentarily forget the enormity of her completely unremarkable life. That was until the incessant beeping of her alarm clock interrupted her brief rendezvous with serenity.

A quick cup of coffee and some toast were all she had time for before embarking on a long and sweaty journey to work sandwiched between a loud Marwadi man and the bosom of a kind Gujrati middle aged woman, who began to passionately describe the trials of her home bound life, and a difficult relationship with her vengeful mother-in-law. Nirvana didn’t mind; interesting conversation was one of the limited comforts the Bombay local service had to offer.

The train wheezed to a sudden halt at churchgate station sending the chatty marwadi and the impatient commuters behind him crashing into Nirvana, violently pushing her towards the paan stained exit and onto the bustling platform. She made her way out of the station, the cacophony of the streets drawing her in. She knew this city like the back of her hand. The streets intertwined and diverged like veins on a wrist, and Nirvana had traveled them all. She took the all too familiar route to the art gallery she had devoted the last five years of her life to build. She worked three very average jobs for five torturous years and could now only just about meet the rent charges of the small but cozy gallery near marine drive. Business was slow for the first few years, but recently began to look up. The suburban art enthusiasts, with their oxidized silver, expensive espressos and cuban cigars had just begun to show interest in the local artists Nirvana promoted.

The furniture had seen better days and there was a suspicious damp blotch on the roof of her gallery, but this was her dream. She was surrounded by what she loved. Art.

She set up for the day and lit a cigarette, this was one of the reasons she loved what she did. There were no rules, there were no ‘no smoking indoors’ signs, nobody asked you to “keep it down,” in Nirvanas gallery, everything was art. The smoke from her cigarette added a certain sense of mystery and grace, the loud whisper of conversation was a comfort.

A woman walked in, her heels clicking against the rough finish of the flooring.

“Namrata Shah,” she held out a perfectly manicured hand which Nirvana accepted and gingerly shook.

“How can I help you?” Nirvana was no stranger to the rich. They often frequented her modest gallery hoping to find a piece that would earn them brownie points for novelty. Nirvana knew they didn’t quite understand the story and emotion behind the paintings she sold them, and they were bought simply because they knew nobody else would own them. She knew what they wanted and understood how their minds worked.

She had once been a part of this elite niche of society, born with a metaphorical silver spoon in her mouth and a sense of entitlement to match. Her parents, renowned psychiatrists known for their proficiency and the  outrageous parties they threw every other weekend, ensured that she went to the best schools, made friends with the right people, associated herself with the right initiatives. She was smothered by her parents for the first eighteen years of her life after which she decided she had had quite enough. At the break of dawn, while the rest of the Kurien household was fast asleep, Nirvana walked out, her head held high, with just a bottle of old monk and the clothes on her back to call her own.

Young Miss Shah with her designer handbag held delicately on the crook of he elbow, and her immaculately done up face, reminded Nirvana of what life could have been like had she chosen not to sever all ties with her family. She regretted nothing, but still felt a melancholic pang now and then and questioned whether she had acted rashly.

“It has been almost impossible to trace you,” Namrata Shah sounded almost accusatory.

Nirvana didn’t quite know how to respond to that, while her work had been receiving more attention off late, it certainly wasn’t being featured in any magazines as yet. Something about the urgency in her strange customers voice suggested that she wasn’t here to purchase a painting.

“Your father is dead.”

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Now that you’re 18

As adulthood stares me right in the eye, I look back at the many, MANY irrational, unreasonable and downright moronic decisions I have made in the past and wonder….WHAT THE  F*CK WAS I THINKING?

All the times I pretended to be someone I wasn’t just to be accepted; all the times I acted rashly, thinking I was doing the right thing; all the times I played to the gallery’s and chased the impossible ideal of “fitting in” rather than embracing my inherent weirdness that later helped me meet some of the best people I know; all the times I hurled myself at boys who showed the least bit of interest in me just because I was in love with the idea of being in love; blindly following fads that went against the sanctity of fashion (the “kareena” dress I forced my mother to buy me for my ninth birthday); all the tears shed over my B cups when most of my friends sported 34 C’s; the fights, the tantrums; I look back at all the things I thought were so phenomenally important when they happened, and now rarely cross my mind and I feel an odd sense of accomplishment. Accomplishment suffused with huge amounts of embarrassment of course, but accomplishment all the same.

I messed up, but I also dealt with my mistakes, and moved on with life. As i grew older I learned how to accept myself, flaws and all. I became a better judge of character, a better friend, a better daughter. I know I’m not the best I can be, but I’m proud of who I am, who I’ve become. I know my eighteenth birthday will just be another candle on my cake, I don’t expect some crazy transformation and maturity to come with it, but I hope that as I grow older, I get to know myself better, and love and respect myself for who I am and not for who I feel I should be. Instead of regretting the many mistakes I’v made, I hope I begin to look at them as opportunities to grow.

As I stand on the cusp of adulthood, I hope I stay true to who I am.

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Taking chances

Myra Varghese was fiercely ambitious, wildly competitive and relentlessly driven. She was your quintessential, turn of the century, modern Indian woman with a life sized personality and charisma to match. A degree in economics from SRCC, an MBA from Harvard, and her easy charm made her hot property in the corporate world. But five years, a CV that would make any seasoned banker feel inadequate, and a closet full of designer shoes later, Myra was bored. She had nothing to work for anymore.

Initially, everything was exciting and new. She would walk by the company Vice Presidents office every single day and discretely glance through the taintless glass at the mahogany desk and plush carpeting, mentally rearranging furniture and planning out her business cards for when that office would be hers. She worked harder than any employee the company had ever seen.

Myra Varghese was an absolute star. In barely any time at all, Myra was there. The office was hers, the gaudy carpeting was replaced, and the business cards were printed. She had made it in the big bad corporate world of pencil skirts and board meetings and she didn’t know how to feel about it.

A few months into her sudden existential crisis, Myra decided it was time for her to take a break and meet people who weren’t colleagues or investors. She remembered the invitation an old friend from college had sent her. An opening party for his new art gallery in hauzkhas, Myra decided she had to go. Meeting friends would do her good.

As she slipped into a cotton kurti and smeared a generous amount of kajal on the contours of her eyes, she wondered why she suddenly felt so…..empty. She led a life most young professionals in India only dreamt of, but somehow it felt irrelevant. All her job ever gave her was a heavy paycheck and a cigarette addiction.
keep it together Myra.
She pushed those depressing thoughts to the back of her mind, where she vowed they would remain, at least for the rest of the evening and drove to the party.

Once upon a time, Myra was a calm, composed social butterfly, she wondered whether her friends would even recognize the frazzled, fidgety corporate slave she was now. She took a few deep breaths and pushed open the door.

Expensive perfume, champagne and meaningless chatter enveloped her as she walked in and looked around.

“Myra! Babe! Glad you could make it,” Sidharth, her college friend, and host hugged her and ordered a scared looking waiter to get her a drink. She was glad. She really needed one.

Half an hour into the party and Myra felt herself loosening up. She didn’t know whether it was the champagne or the company, but she was having fun.

She met friends from college who she hadn’t spoken to in years. Myra suddenly regretted not keeping in touch with these people. They were all just the same. A lot more mature, some of them had even popped out a few babies, but they were essentially the same people.

“Myra. You will not believe who just walked in. NO! Don’t turn around,” ranjani her old room mate said, and spun Myra around before she could look.
But it was too late, Myra had already caught a glance of that all too familiar tall, lean, broad shouldered frame, encased in its signature white shirt and weathered Levi’s. She suddenly felt sick.
No. No. No.
“Myra?” Nirvaan Grover walked towards Myra as she desperately tried to hide her buckling knees. Running into her college boyfriend at a party wasn’t exactly on her bucket list.
“Hi nirvaan,” Myra said, trying to sound as nonchalant and unaffected as she possibly could. He bent down to hug her.

The last time they saw each other was at Anamikas graduation party when Myra called things off. The next thing she knew, she was shipped off to Harvard and Nirvaan left for IIM, Ahemadabad.

She routinely looked up his linkdin profile, which is how she knew he’d quit his job with Mckinseys and had started his own ad agency five years ago. Nirvaan was always taking risks. While Myra played it safe, Nirvaan took chances. He wasn’t worried about how it would work out for him, he just didn’t want to regret missed opportunities. Myra felt he lacked drive, she thought he was too lax and easygoing, which is why she called things off. He didn’t take himself seriously, how would he handle a relationship.

“You look great,”
“Yeah, you too,”
“How have you been?”
“Great. You?”
“Great.”
“You’re doing very well for yourself. Congratulations,” Nirvaan said, a hint of a smirk playing at his lips.
“Excuse me? What is that supposed to mean?” Myra was suddenly defensive, Nirvaan could be very condescending when he wanted to be.
“Exactly what you think it means. You’re very successful. I’m happy for you.”
“You are so patronizing sometimes Nirvaan,” Myra had had enough, but she wasn’t going to stomp off like an antsy teenager. She was better than that, she wasn’t going to let Nirvaan Grover enjoy the satisfaction of knowing he’d won.
“What did I say?” Nirvaan knew exactly what he had said. Even when they were in college, everything he said would have an underlying elucidation that you wouldn’t catch unless you paid enough attention. Myra had dealt with him for long enough to know what he was doing.
“Forget it. I heard about your company. How is that going?”
“Really well. The work is great, the hours are flexible, and I get to travel. So, it’s quite ideal,”
what a showoff.
“Why leave your job with Mckinseys?” Myra realized what a stalker she sounded like and quickly backtracked, “It was Mckinseys, wasn’t it?”
“yes, Mckinseys,” Nirvaan grinned knowingly, “don’t pretend you haven’t googled me in the past Myrs, you know you have.”
“You haven’t answered my question,”
self obsessed snob.
That made him smile even more. “That job was okay. The money was great. But I wanted more. I was sitting in my office one day, I realized I wasn’t happy. I quit a day later and bought a one way ticket to Turkey. I spent about a month and a half there and I realized this wasn’t real life. I needed a job, but I also needed to be happy. Advertising seemed perfect. There was room for creativity and I really needed that. So I flew back, found investors and started the firm.” He said this casually, like it was no big deal. Myra couldn’t get her head around how anyone could just suddenly decide to quit their job. Of course being happy was important, but so was the security of a stable career.
“You started a company on your own?” The thought of it terrified Myra.
“Yeah, it was difficult in the beginning, money was tight for a while. We made it through in the end.” Nirvaan always managed to make the hardest things seem easy, Myra loved that about him.
“I hate my job,” where did that come from? Myra didn’t know what she was saying. She hadn’t actually thought about it. Maybe she did hate her job.
“Why are you still doing it then,” Nirvaan ran a hand through his hair.
God, he has great hair.
“It isn’t that easy,”
“Ofcourse it is. Try something new,”
Myra thought about it. All the years of hardwork she put in to get to where she was now. It would be for nothing if she quit.
“You’ve always been so scared of the unknown Myra,” Nirvaan looked at her earnestly, “if you’re not happy doing what you’re doing, then it’s time to try something new,”
“I’m not unhappy,”
“But are you happy?”
She didn’t know.
“Myra, you need to stop thinking about tomorrow, and live for today. Sure, the money is great, but is that enough,”
It wasn’t. She knew he was right. She had planned it all out, school, college, work, everything, but now she found herself rethinking it all. She wasn’t happy, she tried to convince herself she was, but she had to stop lying to herself.
“I remember how ambitious you were, even when we were in college. It was scary. You had everything figured out, but life doesn’t work like that. You never listened to me,” why did he have to bring up college, Myra didn’t want to remember how great they were then and how she messed things up.
“Oh please, there is nothing wrong with having a plan. It worked out well, I just didn’t realize how quickly I’d have to make my next plan,” from the corner of her eye, she caught Anamika glaring at them like they were performing a pagan sacrifice. Myra couldn’t help but laugh, Nirvaan turned to see the source of her amusement and snorted.
“She was always jealous. She threatened to kill me back when I asked you out,” Myra was laughing so hard, she had to sit down. Nirvaan laughed his full, loud, wonderful laugh and she felt her knees go weak.
“What a weirdo. But, I don’t think you noticed how every single male in the room looks like they’re ready to kill me because I’m here talking to the prettiest girl in college and they’re stuck with psycho Anamika and the others,”
“Smooth,” Myra hoped he didn’t notice her crimson cheeks.
“It’s true, they hated me in college because I got to date Myra Verghese. Almost every boy in college was obsessed with you. Even Mohan, the tea boy,”
“That’s bullshit Nirvaan, Mohan the tea boy was like a little brother,” Myra hadn’t laughed like this in a very long time.
“No it’s not. I swear it’s true. You were the prettiest, smartest girl on campus,” he looked down at his rum and coke, like he was looking for a fly. Was Nirvaan Grover acting coy? That hardly ever happened. “You were so intimidating. It was sexy.” He looked up at her, and it was her turn to look away. This was all too much.
“So have you worked on any ads I would know of,” wow. Really cool Myra. Really cool.
“You’re terrible at changing the subject. But if we have to, let’s talk about the fact that you hate your job,”
“There’s nothing to talk about,”
“Yes there is. Myra. Why can’t you just quit and do something else,”
“Because, that would be ridiculous. I worked hard for this job,”
“If you love what you do, it won’t even feel like work. Trust me, I know,” that was outrageous, work was work for a reason, Myra thought. But. What about photographers or artists. They turned hobbies into professions. Maybe they didn’t earn much to start with, but they were probably happier than she was. But what would she do once she quit. She had always wanted to write a book. She could do that. Or she could start her own publishing house, that was always a dream of hers.
“You could write, Myrs. I loved your stories. You would write them and give them to me to critique. They were incredible. I kept telling you, but you never believed me,” Nirvaan hesitated, ” this might sound really creepy, but I saved them up. I still read them sometimes,”
Myra was overwhelmed. She had forgotten all about those stories. She remembered how happy it made her to actually write them.
That’s it. She had made her decision.
She grabbed a napkin from the scared waiters overflowing tray of hor d’oeuvres and a pen from Nirvaans pocket, and scribbled down her number.
She handed Nirvaan the mauled napkin, and kissed him. A tidal wave of feelings and memories and love came over her as she felt a rather shocked Nirvaan wrap his arm around her waist. But there was no time for that now.
She pulled away.
“Later. I promise. And thank you so much. Call me when you can, maybe we could go get coffee and you could show me those stories,” she winked at him.
She practically sprinted to the door, leaving a flushed and flustered Nirvaan behind.
She had phone calls to make.

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Wanderlust.

                                                 travel gif2

I crave a life of wandering.
A life of cobble stone streets and weathered rucksacks.
Of passports with bursting seams, silently divulging the secrets of my travels. Of waking up to new cities gleaming with new possibilities.

Backpacking across Europe has always been a dream of mine. The thought of mapping the continent on a shoe string budget both excites and intimidates me. The prospect of finding my way around an alien land, meeting new people, discovering, seeing, feeling; the uncertainty of it all is what makes me tick.

My family and I traveled extensively in Europe when I was fourteen, but unfortunately, It was only after we came back home and our suitcases were sent to the far corners of our garage that I realized how unappreciative I had been of an experience that could have potentially changed the way I looked at the world forever.

It was then that I promised myself I would return to Europe when i was a little older and presumably a lot wiser and soak in the sites and culture I had previously brushed off as tedious elements of another family holiday. I owed Europe that much.

I want to close my eyes, trace my fingers along the lengths of a map and buy a one way ticket to a new life.

                                                     travel gif

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An open letter to me in ten years.

Hello sexy,

You’re 27…..well, physically.
Mentally, you’re probably about 12 by now, so congratulations.
I’m hoping you’re either writing for a magazine or you’ve authored your own book, maybe you’ve been working in production or advertising. Whatever you’re doing, I’m hoping you’re happy. If you’re not, stop immediately and take time off. Travel, shop, do what you love and try and figure out what makes you happy, then turn that into a career and you’re set.

Take a stand.
If you believe in something with all your heart, listen to what everyone else has to say and then do what it takes to get your point across. Have an opinion on everything. Whoever said being opinionated was a bad thing, hasn’t ever felt the satisfaction of winning an argument.

Listen. Actually listen to what other people have to say, even if you don’t agree with them. Be sensitive to their beliefs even if they’re leagues away from your own. Listening builds trust. Trust builds character. Be a shoulder to cry on, somebody’s go to person, a great best friend, a wonderful daughter.

Be kind. Talk to the kid incessantly knocking on your car window, begging for spare change when you’re stuck in traffic. Realize he’s only a victim of circumstance. Smile a lot. regardless of how creepy smiling at strangers may seem, you know from personal experience how reassuring and wonderful a smile can be.

Be grateful. I hope you realize how truly blessed you are. You have so much going for you, a great family, brilliant friends, hopefully a reasonably satisfying work life. Be thankful for all the wonderful people in your life, and try not to take them for granted.

Love. don’t shy away from commitment like you have in the past. I’m hoping you dropped that habit and magically manifested into this suave, passionate love guru the second you turned eighteen, but even if you haven’t, work on it now.

DONT SETTLE. whether it’s your career, your love life, or the Céline handbag you’ve always wanted, don’t settle for anything but the best. If it’s your career, give it everything you have. If its the bag, work your butt off till you can get your hands on that beautiful baby. If it’s love, remember to trust your gut.
It’s okay to be picky. Look for a man who shares the same values, believes in the same things, is responsible and mature when he has to be and makes you laugh when all you want to do is cry. It might take you years to find him but don’t give up, he’s out there.

(Ew this is starting to get lame.)

love yourself. You need to accept yourself for who you are. You’re not perfect. Who is? There are people out there who are prettier than you, more competent than you, funnier than you, but there’s just one you. Nobody can do a better job at being you than you.

Take chances, be outspoken, be brave.

Stay cool.

Love always,
You.

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Oh great, it’s the gender police.

I was wiling away time, as one does, on a popular social networking site the other day when I realized three things.

1) with anonymity comes power.

2) our concept, as a society of gender roles and feminism needed a major update and,

3) I really needed a hobby.

awkwaaardgif

I was introduced to ask.fm about a year ago, when a friend and I decided to start an account for a laugh. Joining ask, I assure you is no easy feat, it requires courage and reasonably fast internet speed. Regardless of how “popular” or “cool” you may claim to be, there are a few standard thoughts that cross your mind;

what if everyone sends me hate?

or worse still,

what if i get no questions at all?

I struggled with these doubts and insecurities for nearly four months, until one day, armed with my wit and laptop, I decided to  dive headfirst into the murky, virtual depths of ask.fm. At first, the only questions I received were from close friends, who I bribed or emotionally blackmailed so as to protect the little shred of self respect I had left, but as the weeks rolled by, I started getting questions from people I didn’t know. these questions ranged from being incredibly flattering to extremely demeaning.

while I got my fair share of- you’re so pretty’s and i like you’s ( i didnt send them to myself, i swear) I also had people calling me a “slut” or asking me for sexual favors. Now the fact that i have the sexual experience of a rock and the only serious relationship I’v ever had has been with my refrigerator, is besides the point. What really bothered me was that these people thought it was okay to slander reputations anonymously. They of course, were safe and protected behind the virtual wall of the internet, while I was left to deal with the trail of destruction they left behind.

I would be lying if I said the questions didnt phase me. they did. But if you know me, you would know i dont take things lying down. I typed my heart out in response to those offensive and ignorant claims. Their choice of words, made me wonder whether feminism was a dead ideal.

The oxford dictionary defines the word slut as a woman “with many casual sexual partners.”

If a woman decides to have consensual sex with more than one man, its her decision, not society’s. Its her body, not society’s. Unless she’s forcing herself on a man, you and I have no right to pass unnecessary judgement.

This also raises the issue of hypocrisy within society, a man who sleeps with multiple women is idolized and glorified, while a woman who engages in intercourse with more than one man is somehow a “whore.” As women, we have been brought up to suppress our sexuality, to hide it beneath a film of poise and composure. We are restrained by a grid of rules, created and patented by society.

Being a woman is hard. Being a teenage girl is even harder. You’re already dealing with feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty, that come with puberty,  and then once a month, just to make things a little more interesting, BAM! your hormones surge and you have blood gushing out of your privates. What fun.

All of this coupled with social expectations, and you’re probably wondering how we don’t just spontaneously combust under pressure. We don’t because we can’t. But once in a while, it gets too much;

The fact that I don’t sit with my legs crossed isn’t an invitation for your opinion,

The fact that I’m wearing a short skirt isn’t an invitation for your dirty stares,

The fact that I have a boyfriend isn’t an invitation for rape.

Being a man, comes with its own hardships, its own share of expectations. A man should be strong. A man should be able to support his family. A man can’t cry. These unfair and ridiculous presumptions are smothering a man’s ability to freely express and be himself.

We are all products of the culture we have been brought up in. Our ideas of what is right and wrong, of what we are meant to be or meant to do, are all shaped by our community’s supposed beliefs, when in fact, we should be shaping our culture and the world we live in.

so cry if you want to,

wear that skirt,

become a writer even though you might not be able to “support your wife and kids”

because it’s your life not anyone else’s and the rest of us just have to deal with it.

Driving_like_a_boss

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