Potluck Picnic, An Odd Request and Other Stories

As you may know (or not), I have been on a mission to broaden my social circle.

Working for yourself, by yourself, in your own office at home – for years – can be isolating, while also providing innumerable benefits and rewards at the same time. And indeed it has been so.

So, this year, I joined Meetup, and found a couple of groups to join.

However, it wasn’t until this Saturday that I actually ended up attending a meetup event.

This was a small Potluck Picnic event at Lodhi Garden with a women’s only group. Food, followed by some games and tea. Sounded lovely, and I’m happy to report that it really was lovely.

One thing that struck me at the event was that people eat a lot of mirchi. Like, a LOT.

There used to be a time when I considered myself a Mirchi Champ. I could handle high levels of mirchi in my food, and in fact was quite addicted to it (and was secretly proud of it). But I’ve changed my ways, and found it’s much better for my system to restrict my mirchi intake, and stick to a pinch of Kashmiri chilli powder (the non-teekha one, which still has some heat; those of us who don’t eat much mirchi can very much taste the heat, thank you very much) at most while cooking.

Thing with mirchi is that, it’s a bit like coffee. The more you have it, the more of it you need for your hit. As a result, people with a mirchi-palate tend to over-mirchi their food, and those of us who any way don’t eat much (if any) mirchi, feel like our insides are on fire on consumption of said kind of food.

A couple of dishes in the potluck were of said over-mirchi variety.

Now, since we were handed out pre-determined quantities of some of these, I couldn’t even not eat it causing offence, so I diplomatically ate the chana pieces, and left the masala. With copious quantities of the delicious (and non-spicy!!!) raita which provided sweet and cold relief to my innards.

Separately, when I told my mother that I’d gone for this picnic, she of course enquired after it.

She also solemnly told me: “Never accept drinks from strangers.” 

I figured that everyone eats the same food at a potluck, so I’m fine if I wait until others are eating before starting, right? Not that any of this entered my mind before the event, I thought of this only after, when my mum had done her motherly duty of informing me of every potential risk involved with a daring activity such as joining a womens only social group where I knew no one.

After the success of the Potluck Picnic, I am now motivated to attend a meeting of the Book Club that I’ve joined (also on Meetup) (also women’s only) (Indian men can be literally the worst, so they’re best avoided unless absolutely necessary, right?). Have fortunately already read the book for this month – A Christmas Carol. Shall report back after attending.

I recently ordered this probiotic (and YUMMY) drink called Beetroot Kanji. It’s seriously yum. It’s my flavour of the month.

Also ordered a bunch of used books on bookchor.com. Got a fabulous deal with 8 books coming to just about 1000 bucks. Most of them are MC Beatons, and a couple other cozy mysteries, or Comfy Crime (as MC Beaton would like us to refer to them as).

However, I’d then been consumed with a bit of guilt, because authors don’t get paid on used book sales. Of course, I knew that, but it didn’t register, register. Being a creative myself, I am keenly aware of the importance of creatives getting paid WELL for their amazing work.

Was in a dilemma for a bit on this matter, but now I’ve resolved it in my head in this way: I will only buy used books by authors who have passed on (of course unless I can’t find a new copy, that is). That way, I get the odd deal once in a while, and don’t feel bad about authors not getting their due. And YES, I would any day rather be a person supporting authors than used book stores (no matter how small and noble they might be). YES.

A few days back, I received a most odd request – someone (could be described as a “youth” perhaps) wanted to watch me work and learn from my process. Errr… I’m afraid, I am not a museum! Since when has it become acceptable to ask a practical stranger if you can watch them at their workplace? Oh well, it takes all sorts.

You must meet my XYZ, who is also a Graphic Designer…!

Whenever I mention to someone (new to me) that I’m a Graphic Designer*, there is a 50% chance that they will have another Graphic Designer in their family whom they will want me to “talk to”.

I have no idea why.

It’s VERY strange.

This is how the conversation goes:

A: I work in the marketing department of XYZ Co. What about you?

Me: Nice! I’m a Graphic Designer, I license my designs.

A: Ohhh, my sister/ cousin/ best friend/ <insert relative type person> is also a Graphic Designer! You should talk to her! She just did XYZ project in New York/ London / <insert foreign city>.  She’s also totally into Graphic Design, please talk!!

Me: Err…

A: She just did some exhibition at (OR completed her degree at ABC) and is really doing excellent work!

Me: *in mind, to self* well… good for her?

A: Talk to her!!

Me: Er… actually I’m quite busy with my projects, my schedule is very packed… blah blah blah… (and I don’t exactly want to seek out and talk to the million Graphic Designers that are out there!!!)

This never happened to me when I was a lawyer. Back then, people made reasonable connects.

For example, if they knew someone from my college, they would bring it up. That made sense, because there is there a specific connect between the person they know and me (although no one ever asked me to TALK to those people).

Why are people under the impression that us Graphic Designers / creative professionals want to talk to every other creative professional out there?

We don’t.

Please.

Stop.

Asking.

Us.

To.

I know most people in traditional jobs find it very hipster to be a creative professional and therefore might think that we are part of a tiny, exclusive club, but sorry to burst your bubble, it’s not that uncommon.

There are many, MANY creative professionals out there.

And said creative professionals span wholly unrelated industries, who have NOTHING in common with each other, and don’t want to talk to other strangers who happen to also be a creative professional.**

* My job description also depends on the audience. If I start telling them what I actually do, most people here wouldn’t understand it. So I use the broad label of “Graphic Designer” but my peers in the industry will understand that’s not really “it”. I used to say “Illustrator” some times, but that led to more puzzled looks, so I just stick to Graphic Design. Oh well.

** Please note, I am not a grinch. No… just thought I should clarify 😉 Thing is, I love connecting with other people ORGANICALLY when we have something in common. I find people who are solopreneurs have more in common with me than someone like a Graphic Designer working at an agency or an artist who creates work for the art gallery industry. Also, I hate “networking”, and thankfully, I don’t need to for my work, so I don’t do it. I talk to people when it’s fun to do so, and when it happens organically. Thank you very much.

Round up of October and November

The main pro of writing about books I’ve read is that it has gotten me back to a blogging rhythm. I almost feel like reading  gives me “content” to write about. Ha!

On the other hand, once I’ve written said reading round up posts, I’m left with a sense of accomplishment, but also without further motivation to chronicle the minor things of daily life, which is what this blog is really supposed to be about.

So let’s do a round up of October and November, shall we?

  1. We went on our France holiday – which I am YET to blog properly about. I’ve gotten very content with just having edited the photos, but I do want to put down in writing the things we did and sights we saw and feelings that were felt, because it’s nice to read them back later.
  2. We have attended two weddings already this season. Weddings are great places to catch up with people who you haven’t met in a while. I always get asked about what I’m doing “these days”, and people expect me to have moved on to a different career already – I don’t blame them. This is my third job in 7 years. When I put it that way, it seems pretty standard, but also each job has been quite different from the other. But I’ve been in the creative digital goods area for a while now (3.5 years) – that’s really the longest I’ve been at any of my jobs. The shocking thing about both of these weddings that we didn’t do a choreographed Sangeet dance at either! I’ve been living life Sangeet to Sangeet for years now, and yes, this is something that I missed. May be people think you are not enthu about choreographed competitive Sangeets once you turn 30? (not true at all) At the second wedding, KK and I made note of all the songs the DJ played that we had done choreographed dances to and felt very pleased about the count – there were way so many!
  3. I turned 30! I think I was more panicked about turning 30 before I actually did. Turning 30 has made me more zen about things like “caring about what someone else thinks of my response to something / how someone will react to something I do or don’t do”. I feel a bit more free about my views and general stand on things now, and can legitimately blame it on age.
  4. A lot of pre-Diwali taash parties were attended – which were a lot of fun.
  5. A lot of post-Diwali depression happened on account of Airpocalypse. Like serious levels. Of both – pollution & accompanying depression and thoughts like “what am I doing here”. Scroll to see rant-y post earlier in the month. Actually said depression (and pollution) is still happening, which is greatly helped by reading fun & escapist books like Agatha Raisin (and exercise). I love being in Agatha’s world where there’s clean air and nature around you, cosy furnishings, lovely neighbours, good hearted people, and a bit of fun detection (nothing is ever too gory in these books).
  6. EAB Update – We now have AG in our EAB Programme and thanks to AG’s dedication, TCG and I have gotten back to our respective exercise schedules. I’ve been working out in the evening, which seems to be a more sure shot way of getting it in for me than morning. Separately, having to sign up for Dancebody Live workouts (which happen at a particular time and you have to log in that time and do it) has been keeping me accountable.
  7. It’s also been two days since I’ve gotten back to my 10 minute evening meditation routine. I don’t know why I stopped. Note to self: please keep doing it.
  8. I have cooked a few meals this month. As the help only knows a few dishes (like 10), it gets super boring. So I’ve been cooking a bit here and there. Dalma, Ghanta, Tomato Poda, Dal Pakhtuni, Matar Pulao, Rajma, Desi Chinese Style Nutrela + Veggies. That sort of thing.
  9. Y & I made a pact towards the end of October that in November, we would not order in food. We can eat outside food when we’re outside. But we will not be lazy and order in. Exceptions to this rule are when the help hasn’t made food for reasons out of our control. Happy to report that we have had good success with this plan! Y did not break the rule at all, and I broke it just once to order in a donut on a day when I was feeling very low about the pollution. And now, it’s Nov 30, and yeay! <insert Elle Woods gif> We did it!
  10. Plans for December include: continuing with good habits of November (hopefully) (good habits being exercise, meditation, cooking), lots of social commitments including a family wedding (Y’s cousin), U2 Concert in Mumbai, and hopefully some more fun social stuff!
  11. I am so ready for 2019 to end and 2020 to begin. Actually I’m so ready for 2020 to end and for 2021 to begin. 2021, just be here already!

Suffocated

Things I’ve had to tell myself in the past 8 years….

Don’t go out at night.

Don’t talk to any stranger.

Don’t make eye contact with any stranger.

Don’t go anywhere alone.

Don’t walk on the streets.

Don’t take an Uber without making sure someone else is tracking your ride through the Safety feature.

Don’t dream of taking a rick without haggling.

Don’t wear anything that is remotely tight fitting or sleeveless (unless travelling by own car).

Don’t use buses (particularly terrible when it comes to sexual harassment) (even in full uniform-esque attire).

Don’t look for friendliness from people you don’t know personally already.

Don’t get annoyed when people cut the line.

Don’t be upset because someone is rude.

Don’t be nice by default, act “stern & rude” otherwise you will get ripped off.

Don’t trust people.

Don’t wish for clean streets.

Don’t think of dust free homes.

Don’t dream of friendly neighbours.

Don’t wish to feel safe in your own home – gated communities with proper security, what’s that?

Don’t wish for elevators.

Don’t wish to see the stars at night.

Don’t wish to see beautiful sunsets (or sunrises).

Don’t wish for cool evening breeze to get lost in. It’s either hot loo or dust storms.

Don’t think of not switching on the AC 24*7 during summers (April – October).

Don’t think of not running the air purifiers and heaters during winter (November – March).

Don’t go out to parks (pollution and/or monkeys and/or dogs).

Don’t ride your bicycle. Ever. (The AQI is never good enough to ride outdoors).

Don’t go out at all during the months that constitute “Airpocalypse” (October – February).

What’s next? Don’t breathe??!!

Welcome to Life in Delhi – life in a dusty little cage.

Diwali

It was Diwali yesterday.

Since 2016, we have been escaping Delhi and running off to Goa for the 4-5 days around Diwali when Delhi is particularly enveloped in smog. It’s not a pretty (or comfortable) sight at all. Every year we’ve gone to Goa, and we’ve gone to Pousada by the Beach in Candolim.

Y and I LOVE being at Pousada. The food of course is lovely, but what is truly the reason that keeps pulling us back there is the atmosphere and the lovely owners who run the restaurant themselves. They are very chilled out people, they even have a few sunbeds laid out (under shade, because hello this is India and the sun is harsh here). I have memories of having taken blissful afternoon naps there, ha! At this point, Pousada genuinely feels like a home away from home.

But this year, I didn’t want to go on a vacation so soon after our return from France. It was a 2 week break after all, and I have some important projects to get on with at work!! It takes me at least a week to get back into the swing of work things after a long holiday, so I didn’t want to go off just when I had my momentum back (sadly this time it’s taken TWO weeks, and I’m just now getting back in to the thick of things) (my fellow self employed creative type people will understand).

Deep inside, I was also a little enthusiastic about lighting up diyas at home, and doing a #GharWaliDiwali after a long time. I love traditions (fun, non-imposing, and voluntary ones only please which I CHOOSE to do – just clarifying) and I have happy memories of Diwali day from our childhood* and also from my early years in Delhi. The first couple of years here when I was living in Safdarjung Enclave, I’d go to BA’s house for Diwali. We’d do rangoli at her place, light diyas, take photos (very important), eat a ton of yummy food and watch TV. It was fab.

I realised Y & I hadn’t really started our own homey home Diwali tradition, and I wanted to do it! Goa & Pousada were our Diwali traditions – I knew this intellectually but not emotionally – until yesterday.

We were going about our day doing regular things at home, when I really felt like we should be sitting at Pousada at this very instant! Well, that’s how traditions are formed, and you only realise something is truly an emotionally linked tradition when you don’t do it.

Not to say I wasn’t glad to be home – I was. We lit up the fairy lights on the bookshelf and created a cosy atmosphere. I’ve always wanted to string up fairy lights on bookshelves and have a cosy couch around where I’d curl up and read a book while sipping on a hot drink – and I did exactly this yesterday. It was everything I’d made it up to be in my head 🙂

I even got some genda phool from a local vendor (mainly because I wanted to give some business to said local vendor) and made a small – calling it an “arrangement” would be a stretch, so lets call it a – floral border for the diya, and of course we lit that diya up on the exterior. We didn’t have too many diyas at hand (I thought we did, but turns out I had given them all away at some point in the past), so we didn’t put diyas in the balcony – but no stress. It was still nice & cosy and perfectly Diwali-esque. We watched** SRK on David Letterman followed by IIFA awards. Classic.

Another touch was that I was bothered to make a little Diwali card of our own this year!

I was also relieved to note that people didn’t burst as many crackers as the previous year. This was confirmed by my help who said the same thing this morning.

AQI in our area is only in the “Very Unhealthy” range this morning, and not “Hazardous” as it had been the past few years. Now, lets pray to the rain gods for a nice wash down to clean up this mess and we’re sorted!

* This is how we’ve always celebrated festivals at home. Growing up, my mom was a full time working mom with a very busy job and didn’t have time to adhere to crazy levels of traditions. I’m very glad about that. But she always made time to facilitate small but wonderful things around festivals – like eating chandua up on the terrace while hiding from the moon on Kumar Purnima, lighting diyas on our balcony on Diwali (my sister and I did this, with me doing the grubbiest of jobs being the, ahem, younger sibling), worshipping our pens & writing Om with them on Saraswati Puja (and then not studying the whole day, ha! All my fellow odias will remember this as the best festival ever), and so on.

** “Watched” is a bit of a stretch because Y was mostly on his phone and I was reading. We did look up every once in a while when Ayushman & his brother cracked a good zoke.

Diwali 2019

A Normal Member of Society…

…would follow the normal calendar of the society they’re living in.

But this rarely happens if you have an online business which does not cater to your “immediate real life society”. And also when you work for yourself, and by yourself.

Diwali office party? What’s that?

4 day break for Diwali? “Diwali holidays are coming up!” *insert blank face*

I can, however, find myself getting excited for Christmas, and I also feel like taking a general break in August because everything slows down during those times of the year. Yes, yes, my business cycle is synced with the western world, and I’m starting to feel the effects of it in a very real way. This is my fourth year in this line of work and finally I can see a pattern emerging.

But, here in Delhi, people don’t really take breaks in August – its monsoon!

And Diwali is a time when things slow down in Delhi, but for me, this is pretty much go go go time because it’s right before Black Friday Sale & Christmas!

I’ve been caught in this conflict of go-go-go and naah-it’s-Diwali! all of this week, and now I’m just waiting for everyone to go back to their workplace once “Diwali break” is over so we can all focus on our work in peace!

Turning 30, Coworking Spaces & Coffee Shop Working, Chai Tea Latte & Diwali Vibes

Hello dear blog (and non existent Blog Readers, except me from the future), Hi!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update here.

Well, for starters, we had a lovely trip to France in the first two weeks of October. I turned 30 in Paris! It sounds very old when I put it down in writing, but I assure you that in my head, I am still 15. Yes, may be I feel I’m a bit wiser now, may be I know better how to read people, may be I feel that age is just a social construct, and AGEING IS A PRIVILEGE, but my way of thinking hasn’t really changed much. And I’m very glad about that.

I have been meaning to do a proper France recap post(s) with photos etc. for memory keeping, but just haven’t gotten around to it, because, well, life and laziness (mostly laziness).

It will happen soon though.

In other news, I have been consumed by coworking space hunting in Delhi for the last few weeks. I have been madly researching (online), and also visiting a few of the well known coworking spaces which are close-ish to Vasant Kunj. However, this process has been most frustrating. Nothing ticks all my boxes (literally – have got a checklist on Evernote), and leaves out some basic needs. For example, Wework’s Hotdesking area did not have ergonomic seating, and their Dedicated Desk room was dead silent, and I mean DEAD silent. Pin drop silent. I could hear my laptop going down with a loud thud when I simply (and very, very carefully) placed it on the table. That is NOT the vibe I’m looking for! Another place (Goworkin in Green Park) had a good vibe, but the toilet was horrendous. Read public loo levels of horrendous. Innov8 Saket was quite poorly designed, in that the space was very linear, and felt quite cramped.

Basically, nothing has worked out in the Coworking department. After a couple of weeks of this rubbish, I got fed up and went to a cafe to get some actual work done – and I did. I love working out of coffee shops! So I have decided that for now I will stick to coffee shop working.

You might ask, why did I simply not continue to do that? Well, the reason is that coffee shops don’t have mail & package handling so it has been quite stressful being at cafes while also expecting couriers. But from now on, I might have some of my mail delivered at Y’s office. The other thing is that coffee shops don’t have internet, or even if they do, it’s quite abysmal for my needs (I regularly upload and download 300 – 400 mb large files for work). But, I can continue with my workaround for that, that is, I just do the uploading & downloading of things from my home office. Requires me to be more organised but this is not really a pain. And I love the vibe at coffee shops.

SO, coffee shops it is for now.

On that note, today I went back to my favourite cafe working spot – Starbucks Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj. I loveee this place. The chairs are super ergonomic for my body (I actually find the setup there more comfy than that at my office), the vibe & atmosphere is just right, the AC level is perfect. Today I tried my first ever Chai Tea Latte. LOL. It reminded me of the pre-mixed tea that you get on Indigo flights and at movie halls. A lighter & sweeter version of that really.

Diwali is on 27th October (just 3 days away!), and the festive vibe is in the air! For starters, Starbucks did not have nearly as many “working” type people as usual.

Also, we have been attending fun diwali parties at friends’ houses. Delhi people celebrate Diwali by hosting and attending Taash Parties. You mostly play a betting game called Teen Patti, which is mostly a game of luck & bluffing skills. It’s quite fun once you get the hang of it. I still don’t remember the order of hands (I have a handy guide on my phone), but I have figured out which type of hand is likely to get you how far in which variation. For example, in a variation like 1947 Love Story (where all 1’s, 9’s, 4’s, 7’s and hearts are jokers) it’s a waste to keep playing unless you have an Ace Trail). I’m getting better at things like this. But of course, this also depends on the kind of people you play with, and you have to mark how they play.

I had been wanting to do a Diwali Party at home this year but we aren’t going to because of an annoying case of seepage attack in the bathroom and kitchen!!! It’s the same outer wall which gets seepage-ed out every alternate year. Quite a pain to deal with!

Any way, we have another Diwali Party tomorrow and then nothing until Diwali day itself. I’m thinking of making a small but cute Rangoli this year, since we are actually here!

I love simple family traditions and want to do our own! For example, when I was living in Safdarjung Enclave Extension, I used to visit BA (my aunt) for Diwali and we’d make rangoli at her house, light diyas and of course stuff our faces with food & sweets! Back at home, my sister and I always placed and lit diyas on our balcony railings and at our entrance of course. I want to do similar things here! Y is most unenthusiastic about things like this so it’s going to be a challenge to get him to participate.

I am also getting super excited about Christmas. Already. It’s just October!!! I LOVE all things Christmas. I keep saving recipes of Hot Chocolate. I have stocked up on two Christmas books this year and keep eyeing all the new holiday reads coming out! But I really must not buy any more books until I finish the ones in my TBR pile. I’m currently on Circe, and it’s strictly OK so far. I’ve contemplated ditching it once or twice, but I keep hoping that it’ll get better! Let’s hope it does, otherwise it’s getting a 2.5/5 from me (yes I’ve started rating books, next post will clarify)!

Updates on EAB Program, Dancebody, Shoe Peace (?!), and Vacay

A few weeks back (a month and 5 days back to be precise), I had announced a lovely little plan that TCG and I had undertaken. We have voluntarily become each other’s Exercise Accountability Buddy, which means we each exercise and motivate the other to do the same by checking in with each other every time we complete a workout.

It’s been 6 full weeks of this EAB program, and I’m happy to report that it is going rather well (and hope I haven’t jinxed it with this declaration). We have managed to work out 4 times per week on average, and we consider it a big step forward considering we hadn’t been consistently this active in the past few months (YEARS). I’ve had spates of a few weeks, usually about 3-4, when I get super active, and the enthusiasm fizzles down. It’s no show for 3-4 months, and then a month of intensity. I wanted to stick to a change which becomes a much sought after “lifestyle change”. So far so good!

6 weeks back I signed up for this AMAZING dance cardio workout program called Dancebody (online streaming). 2 Signature classes in, I felt that this is basically what I’ve been looking for for AGES. It’s got variety, great music, is actually challenging and not repetitive (unlike most dance cardio videos out there), and gets fresh content every month. I have been a pretty long time subscriber of Les Mills on Demand and Physique57 but they were just not cutting it for me. They weren’t “the perfect fit”. I’ve had spates of being obsessed with both, but I guess I just tired of their format after a while.

Coming back to Dancebody, I love it! If you love dancing and high energy cardio, you have to try it. It’s FUN and challenging. The perfect combo, right?!

I did however come across a small stumbling block in my indoctrination as Dancebody Fanatic.

Shoes.

Dancebody’s dance cardio sessions involve a LOT of bouncing around and plyometrics. You need highly cushioned shoes (the kind that runners wear) for it to be a comfortable workout that doesn’t wreck your knees/ leg muscles.

The instructors all swear by Asics (Gel Nimbus especially), so like a good devotee, I too tried out Asics. However, after a couple of sessions in the Asics Gel Cumulus and half a session in Gel Nimbus, I felt like my toes were being punished for a crime they committed in a past life. It did NOT feel good. No no no no no.

I returned the Gel Nimbus (they were from Amazon) (Amazon, I LOVE you and your free 30 day return policy). I was still stuck with the Gel Cumulus because I’d bought them from an actual store (rookie mistake). From then on ensued a 4 week process of obsessively researching highly cushioned running shoes, ordering them online, trying them on for a Dancebody Signature session (you really don’t know if a pair will work until you DANCE Dancebody style in them), returning them broken hearted and looking for more.

In the meanwhile, I got the Gel Cumulus to work for Sculpt sessions and also for shorter Signature classes. The problem with these was that the toebox in the left shoe was too tight, and my little toe would be hurting like CRAZY by the end of a class. To get that shoe to “open up” a bit, I followed this Youtube video by a nice teenage kid who showed how to use socks and heat from a hair dryer to achieve this result. I’m happy to report that that method worked and now my Gel Cumulus is comfortable during Sculpts and not too bad during full Signatures!

However, through all of this, my search for a GOOD shoe FOR MY FEET continued. I tried a couple of models and sizes in Asics, Saucony (two styles including the famed Triumph ISO), Puma, I even gave Power Mello Shoes a try (too unstable to do anything but walk in). I even tried a men’s shoe in Saucony for its width, but sadly it was not to be. Finally, I ordered Brooks Glycerin 16 which was available in my size on Amazon. These shoes do not stifle my toes, they have tons of cushiony cushoin (much like the Gel Nimbus), and are soft overall and are much better suited for lateral movement than the Gel Cumulus, which quite frankly feels really stiff in comparison.

So, yes, Brooks Glycerin are perfect for my Dancebody Signature classes!

Are Brooks Glycerin my holy grail Dancebody shoes?

Yes and no.

Yes because they are perfect for me! They fit my feet well, and have the cushion I need. No because I want to leave room in there for EVEN MORE CUSHION (yes, I am aware of Hoka One One, and really badly want to try the Bondi – sadly they are not available in India yet).

Will I stop trying out shoes and researching them?

Nope! Shoe research is kind of addictive, and now I really want to try Hoka One One Bondi. I also want to try out New Balance 1080v9 just for fun. I don’t actually think New Balance will be better than Brooks, but WHO KNOWS?!

Separately, I am going on vacation next week! This is a small trip to Bhubu to chill with my family back home. I’m trying to do this thing this year that I take some time off every second month. Breaks and recharging my batteries is essential for my creativity, but I never end up taking PLANNED breaks frequently enough. I read interviews by many artists who swear by taking frequent breaks away from their studio to come back refreshed.

Although, as of now, it’s also causing a bit of extra stress because as you might have experienced yourself, the week or the couple of weeks leading up to a break are quite jam packed and stressful because you’re desperately trying to meet a firm deadline. Also, I take about 2-3 days after a break to get back into the flow of things at work, so the week after a break also ends up being a bit stressful on account of lack of productivity (which makes me think, am I really benefiting from frequent breaks?). Though that’s also mostly on account of not having a firm plan on tasks to be done that first week back. Any way, we’ll see. This time I’ve prepared a firm list of tasks to be accomplished the minute I’m back in the studio/office, so that should help.

I’m also carrying another Maud Montgomery book with me for this trip – Pat of Silver Bush. Excited!!! I prevented myself from reading it in the past few weeks because I was saving it as a treat for vacay!

Will report back soon!

p.s.: Delhi has been DELIGHTFUL. The skies are gorgeously blue with puffy white clouds, tree tops sparkly clean & green, and evenings are nice and breezy up on the terrace. Is it humid? Yes. But I LOVE this version of Delhi weather, and will take the humidity any day for the lovely temps and clear air the rains bring!! Please can it stay this way?

Clean blue Delhi skies with puffy clouds. L from an Uber, R from my office window. NO FILTER!

“Perfect Happiness” and Imperfect Peace

A couple of hours ago I had finished reading Liz Rosenberg’s biography of the beloved L.M. Montgomery, titled “House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery. I finished it in pretty much a single sitting. Monday saw me deep dive into all things Prince Edward Island. Tuesday, I read (and re-read) numerous articles on Maud, and ordered this book on Amazon. Wednesday the book arrives. It’s Thursday afternoon now.

The last line in the book is a poignant sentence from her once private (now widely published and read (with her consent)) journals:

Perfect happiness I have never had – never will have… yet there have been, after all, many wonderful and exquisite hours in my life.”

Through out the biography, I kept wondering what it was that made Maud the way she was. The way she lived in two extremes – in her own mind. Why couldn’t she focus more on the splendid things in her life? Why did she find herself fixating on things that were beyond her control? Why did she never grow out of the anxiety caused by the pressure of living under a constant doom of “what will people think?” which was ingrained in her early childhood? Why did she not have much emotional growth personally?

Maud had faced early loss and abandonment in her life. She felt socially and emotionally stunted in her early years (until the age of 15 or so). However, she still had all of the material comforts any child of that time could have needed. She also went on to have a lovely sprint as a student, and then a teacher. She kept meeting with stiff resistance from her patriarchal grandfather, but she had some silent support from her grandmother. A lot of her decisions have baffled me, though. And I was also surprised to find so much focus on things she lacked – even when she did not really lack much. Through out each stage of her life, she had at least one close confidante and supporter, and often more. She was surrounded by friends and cousins. She had an active social life. She was fairly rewarded for her early short story writing career. She received instant success with her novels. When her grandmother died, she was a financially independent woman – something which was rare and unheard of in rural Canada of that time. She had many, MANY good things going for her.

It is also possible that just like her heroines, she romanticised pain and suffering. That could be one potential explanation for her fixation on melancholy. She also romanticised the idea of loss. Even though she promised to be a “messenger of optimism and sunshine” (which most certainly has been) to her audience, it seems she was not able to converse to her own self in that same vein. She also found the most depressing things to manically obsesses about – like the two World Wars. Of course, through all of this, she managed to escape into her literary worlds and spun tales of effortless joy and hope for her audience. But, dear Maud, why didn’t you create such worlds in your own daily life? Why didn’t you use your imagination create a sense of loveliness in your own actual life?

This biography has left me with more questions than answers. I must read her actual journals, and try to see if I can make any sense of it. Of course, I am fully prepared to not receive answers to my questions even then.

Just as I thought it was a good time to take a break from Maud (now that this book had come to an end), I watched a bit of Masterchef Australia over lunch. Then, I indulged in 10 minutes of Instagram scrolling, where I came across this news headline:

Saravana Bhawan founder Rajagopal, facing life term for murder, dies.” – 18th July 2019

Really? I know nothing about this person. But, I imagined the founder of a wildly successful food chain to have some peace in his life. And peaceful people don’t kill other people.

It seems like the Universe is sending a definite messages across.

Fame & fortune and happiness & peace are two different things. They are not mutually exclusive, but the former does not guarantee the latter.

Wholesome, Eternal Quotes

I was doing a little Facebook “clean up” involving tweaking privacy settings on a few things.*

The “quotes” sections on my profile caught my eye:

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”– Albert Einstein


“If you bake a bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.”– Kahlil Gibran (in The Prophet) (On ‘Labour with love”) 


“The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish.”– Hermann Hesse (in Siddhartha)

Carefully selected and reproduced years ago (at least 12 years back, when I joined Facebook) I am very happy to report that these are words that I continue to abide by.

There are many new dimensions to my beliefs, which have slowly crystallized over the the past decade. I might update this quotes section with some of those. In fact, I just went ahead and updated it with the quote which appears in the header of this blog:

I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” – Lucy Maud Montgomery

* – Last year I had changed my date of birth settings to be completely private. The bittersweet consequences of this little act of rebellion will need a post by itself. With my learnings from last year, and with the knowledge of the surprising (to me) fragility of my heart, this year I have changed the setting so as to hide the year of birth, but still show the date and month to Facebook “friends”.