"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." – L. M. Montgomery
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.
…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!
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)!
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.
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?
What is an often left unsaid, strange & tricky side of “adulting”?
MAKING NEW FRIENDS.
There, I said it. I don’t care if it makes me sound like a creepy little person who wants to make fraandship, but it’s really friendship (heck, I’d even take acquaintance-ship at this point) that I’m after.
When you’re a kid or a teenager, you go to school, college, etc. You are forced to meet people over and over. You’re kind of forced to have a seat partners, and designated seating areas, group projects & assignments, extra curricular activities – all fertile territory for healthy friend-making. At the least you land up with a nice little network of acquaintances that you can casually refer to as “my friend”. For example in a conversation about snacks, you are well within your right to refer to an acquaintance as a friend like so:
“Oh, yeah, a friend of mine is from Pune – he gets the best bhakarwadi ever!“
If you work in an office, yes, you have great opportunity there to meet a bunch of people with a similar background as yours. You might even manage to make a few friends, but lets be honest, they are mostly strictly “work friends”, and we all know what that means. You have a close set of people you like to bitch about your boss with, and the rest are polite conversation worthy at best. If you’re lucky, you might meet a kindred spirit or two, and if you are very lucky, they are not the “competitive types” as such (and I’m assuming, dear sweet reader that you are also not of that annoying variety), and you can genuinely be great friends – well in any case if you are both weirdly competitive and are still kindred spirits, it could still work. The verdict isn’t out on that one yet.
BUT. What happens when you work from home? Or you move jobs and there aren’t too many people in your office who are in a similar age group as yours? What then?
As you probably know, BlogOwner has been a full time work from home professional for more than 4 years now. FOUR YEARS of not having new people be introduced to her daily life and routine. It takes a toll, people. It does.
The “turn” perhaps happened in May of 2015 (about 6 months after going full independent with her job) when BO felt an urgent need to “make some friends”.
Since then, she has attended group fitness classes (too much of a pain to get to and get back from because she doesn’t drive), joining two different gyms etc. Although, she did meet a kindred spirit at her Crush Fitness class – it really was the funniest story. Both of them looked at each other in the first class and thought the other must be a teenager still in college (and obviously way younger and naive-er than themselves who was a working professional and also married). At the next class, they happened to walk out of the class together and they got chatting. The conversation went something like this (remember, this is something that happened 4 years back):
Her: So what do you do/ study?
Me: *airily with a hint of elderly superiority* Erm, I am a lawyer turned photographer. What about you? You’re in college?
Her: *looking shocked and amused* I am a journalist! I work, and I’m married.
Me: *looking even more surprised* Me too! I got married last year! Oh my God I totally thought you were in college.
Her: I thought the same about you!!
Me, not sure if I actually said this, but I thought it for sure: We should congratulate each other on looking so young!
After this little initial chat, we had gone on to chat about various things including my career transformation (which was and still is a topic of a lot of interest to working people, and me obviously, because I love talking about it :P), her dreams of starting her own fashion boutique (she wanted to be a journalist turned fashion designer, sweet readers, how talented is this lady!). Talking about hopes and dreams is something that I instantly connect with people over, though it seems like the last thing you’d want to talk to a practical stranger about. Well, I guess this is how you “make friends” as an adult!
Any way, the sad thing is that I stopped going to that class because it was seriously annoying having to Uber a cab in sweaty clothes outside the little alley in which the Gym was (thank you very much, Delhi).
Then, I actually did happen to make an adult friend (as I call her – which I’ve been told sounds super shady, but you know what I mean!! If it’s unclear, it means a new friend I made as an adult – there!) totally organically through one of my photography assignments. K and I just hit it off from our very first conversation, and we bonded over our deep seated, mutual love and respect for Anne of Green Gable and Lucy Maud Montgomery. I rarely ever meet people who are the kind of Anne fans that I am, and K and I bonded over how Gilbert spoilt boys for her, and Diana spoilt friends for me. Ever since our first chat, all our conversations have been stream of consciousness type of flows where the words simply tumble out without too much overthinking about what the other person might think of them.
We met a few times, and then did not for a year or two. sidenote: I guess when you get old (-er than teenage years), a year or two is not that long a time, you know?
Then we ended up meeting a lot in 2018 as we were both in a similar place of needing to make new adult friends (yes we talked about it – it’s normal!! If you don’t know what this feels like, you are quite blessed I must enviously admit), as she too worked from home and was an independent professional.
Then, she moved to Mumbai – I am so happy for this so many reasons. (a) I LOVE that K got a lovely new job that she wanted and moved to (b) The best city ever. She’s really cool, and into the arts but not in a pretentious or snobbish way, but in an intelligent, respectful and wise way – which makes it wonderful to bond with her about all things culture. So I’m happy she gets to express this side of hers in a city that is so accepting and loving.
BUT coming back to BO’s situation at hand – adult friends. One in proximity. Gone. To another city. Sure we text, but we all know it’s not the exact same thing. When you meet someone frequently you can tell them about silly and stupid things about your life like you ate a new kind of chips and you loved it (or hated it, or whatever) – which seems a bit too stupid and silly to say over text. Though I know there may be friends that you do share that kind of things with over text, but for me, it’s just not the same. At least Facetime.
Fast forward to 2019. BO has now felt the need to know her actual neighbours better. It felt rather absurd, in a belated shocked kind of way, that she did not really know any one her own age in this colony of over 500 inhabitants (rough estimate).
Enter the local Zumba class.
BO loves all things dance and fitness. So it really seemed like the perfect thing to do in the evenings. 6:30 – 7:30 pm? Why, that’s when I anyway do my workout! Perfect timing. Where is it you say? Hardly 100 metres from my place? Sign. me. up.
And sign up she did.
She has been going for about a week now and it has been refreshing to see new faces, and also to see the same new faces over and over. One lovely lady even distributed chocolates for her birthday! How sweet, and community minded is that? BO really felt like she was back in school – in the best possible way (don’t lie, free birthday chocolates were your favourite thing about school too :P)
On a slightly different topic, I am very excited about this book:
I had to read her book once I read her “advice” from this remarkable little book called “Life Lessons From Remarkable Women” by Stylist Magazine. I actually first heard about this on Tea & Tattle – a delightful podcast by Miranda Mills which I listen to while painting. Highly recommended.
The title of Nina’s essay is “Why 99% of Advice Can Be Ignored“. It really spoke to me, and I am one of those people who will listen pliantly to every person’s sage advice, nodding right along, but will go on to do exactly what she wants. Every time I have done this, it has served me very well. So I take it Nina is a bit of a kindred spirit in doling out the same “advice” (the irony is not lost on me). I hope I love her book!
As you see this is a Wednesday morning, and instead of doing my regularly scheduled work programming for Wednesdays (social media, social media, social media), I have been blogging! Back to work for now! Hoping to keep up my blogging, but on weekends, or after hours!! Wish me luck!
To people I’ve just met and have unsuccessfully tried to explain what I do for a living:
Netflix – Friends on repeat – laundry – eat – nap – work (may be?) – Facebook – enjoy the benefits of work-life-balance
(a.k.a. the dreamer’s conception of work-life-balance) (at which I usually gurgle and point out that life becomes work and work becomes life – interpret that as you will)
(sidenote: they are the ones who are most disappointed to learn that I have a normal routine like everybody else)
To most of family:
Free, in general. Might on occasion be indulging in some abstract notion of “work”, mostly just as a hobby or for fun.
(a.k.a. it’s ok to treat my weekdays like a weekend or public holiday) (I normally have to remind them that the operative part of “work from home” is the work bit)
(sidenote: completely unaware of the digital economy)
To my friends:
Whatsapp – work – Instagram – work – whatsapp – whatsapp – whatsapp
(sidenote: due to the alarming speed at which I read and respond to whatsapp messages) (this may be hotly contested by some, but true for most)
To my mom:
Work – not put enough thought into my meals – eat – work – work – work
Separately, not to be disturbed M-F 8 am – 5 pm (but I can call her whenever I want)
To my sister:
Soul sister and is painfully aware of what my day is actually like because of the unsolicited and unnecessary details I incessantly share with her (also, she is a work from home creative too – and so she’s clued in on this little world)
To my husband:
wake up – go back to sleep – wake up again – eat breakfast – laze – not change out of pajamas – emails – work – work – work – enquire about his ETA – be found in pajamas (does not notice if they are different from the morning pajamas)
(a.k.a. pajama + productivity central with a little bit of procrastination)
(sidenote 2: most days he refuses to believe that I change out of pajamas and into proper clothes, and change back into pajamas before he’s home) (which is the truth. most days) (ok, some days)