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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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