Wednesday, December 20

Pause, Make it Large

I've been ambushed by wisdom in a bid to propel me towards positivity and peace.

Maybe God decided that he had to take things in his own hands, since I was not taking the hint from you'all regarding how dank and low I was sounding.

One lasting truth, that it's all temporary. Friendships, love, sorrow and loss. Come a bright new day, there will be new reasons to live and smile. No matter how much you weep into your pillow at night (or on a companion's shoulder if you're lucky), you will wake up the next morning with a flush of energy and a reason to go on. All you need to do, is remain in the present. Yesterday and tomorrow only bring pain and anxiety.

Isn't that why folks low in IQ tend to be happier? Coz they ruminate less. Enjoy the here and now. Quite a curse for us thinking lot, who attempt to understand the world and it's people, categorise and organise all that comes with it, before and later.

Maybe wisdom implies knowing when to switch off the thought process and just live the moment, without fear of judgement and burden of responsibility. You're doomed if you're conscientious and consider yourself answerable. The blissful lot throw caution to the winds, and give all they got to the people and situation in front of them. Prices could be paid later, but who cares?!

I thought I had my life all chalked out and ready, and I was well on my way to achieving all the milestones that resonate with a life well led and a path well tread. Turns out, everything is China ka maal, nothing comes with a warranty. You may get hitched and pop a kid all under 30, but no saying when your partner will decide he wants to be a bachelor again, leaving you behind to take care of yourself - emotionally, physically, financially - with a toddler in tow! Can't, for the life of me, imagine the trauma of single moms without family and financial support.

A belief that gives me tremendous strength is that everything is destined. Your wins, your losses, your joys and your sorrows. This can also put you down at times, coz it implies you're helpless. Yet, having tried to fight destiny, I can only say it's true and inescapable.

People who came and left, they were supposed to stay only a while, don't expect them to be there for you forever. Strangers become best friends, spouses become strangers. They were here to teach you something, to make you strong, to help you explore how good (or bad) you are capable of being. Allow them to teach you, and go. You move on, as well, to a better life with more calculated actions and consequences. Born alone, die alone, why fret over who did not (or did) stay a while? Paths cross, roads diverge, move on. You need no one to survive. Especially not baggage.

Everyone's journey is different. Some people are meant to be great, others are destined to be alone. Change what you don't like, if you cannot change it then accept it. Don't settle when something is not appropriate, don't compromise when someone is taking you for granted. You were not born to suffer for someone else's jubilation. 

Don't live up to someone else's expectations from you. Nobody will applaud you anyway. Few will stand by you, despite all odds. Don't go looking for the right one. They will come along when the time comes. If they are supposed to. And if they leave, so be it.  

Brands across the world want to sell you happiness. Buy Starbucks and feel like a queen, ride a Harley and feel like god. Buy at the mall and spend at the casino, party at the best clubs and travel to soothe your heart. It's all a ploy. Your happiness is within you. Everything else is temporary. Too often to hurt the people close to you for the sake of those that won't give you a second look once your objective in their life is met. Chill with a cuppa at home alone, or with the dog, or on the treadmill, or the kid, without bothering to look at the clock or WhatsApp.

Amitabh Bacchan often quotes his dad, and I think it is one very useful piece of advice: Life is a struggle every day, and as long as there is life, there will be struggle. Don't fight it, accept it as a challenge and emerge stronger. Also, if things go your way, good. If they don't, it's better, coz then it is going as per the Almighty's desire. 

Keep being, keep doing, keep feeling. You're stronger than you think you are.

You can deal with it all. You got no choice.

You should not cling to expectations, promises, people or situations.

Do not complain, do not demand. Just be. Accept. Not everything will go your way.

Not everything will go against you either.

Life, in the long run, is fair. You get what you deserve.

If you've done something wrong, apologize and set it right.

If something is weighing you down, say it out loud and be done with it.

If there is something that you can do, do it. For your own sake.

Coz you deserve to be happy.

Change is the only constant. And a relief. Move on.

A better life awaits, just stop looking at that darned close door.

Stop feeling like a victim. It's all meant to be. Misery. Ecstasy. Love. Conflict. Peace.

So said the Bhagavad Gita. And so many other philosophers.

Tuch aahes tujhya jivanacha shilpkar - Wamanrao Pai


Make it large!

Love,
Anuja

Wednesday, December 13

Power Games

Knowledge is power. 

Not knowing, sometimes, is power. 

(Ignorance is bliss, right?) 

Experience and strong roots are power. 

Being new and past-less is power. 

(Sometimes fresh devils are welcome in place of known ones.)

Having support and strong relationships is power. 

Being detached is power. 

(Nobody to hold you back or push you down.)

Money is power. 

Being penniless is liberating. 

(Nothing to lose, people don't fake liking you.)

Power in numbers. And yet, one ought to be unique. 

Stability is power. Ambition is power. 

Control is power. Freedom, too.

(Which would you choose?)

Being someone's rock is power. 

Needing no one is power.  

Chasing dreams gives strength to some. 

For others, evading fears does the trick.  

So many power games in play around us. 

A man, soft and dependable at work, compels his wife behind closed doors to be submissive and accommodating, no matter what. 

Manipulation by acceding, or crying, coz it proves the other person a jerk. 

Curtains down, justice denied. 

Oh the ironies and vagaries of life!

Caught in the midst of all the hues of universe. 

Running through the fire, come hell or high water. 

In the end, stripped down and naked, you realise all those powers mean nothing.

It's a mirage. A facade. To make some and break some. 

We all suffer anyway. Some early on, some later. 

No matter where you started, no matter what you end with. 

Life's levels us all in the end. 


Who is John Galt?


Peace and power to you.

Cheers!
Princess

Monday, November 13

Explore and Be YOU!

I turned 32 this July. Makes me closer to 40, than 20. 

(No, there's no shame in asking a woman her age or a woman divulging it herself. Enough with these sweeping generalizations! So passe, and derogatory to women AND men of the new world ...)

While some would consider aging disheartening, I believe it's wonderful to be in your 30s - you're more sure about yourself and life in so many ways. People can only judge you now, they can't change you (for better or worse) and you know yourself and your goals with more clarity and honesty. Your childhood ambitions of being a celebrity have either been realised or not, by this time, and you have a fair idea of whether you will make it at all, thereby leading you to consider options more within your reach. For all you know, the old goal might not resonate with you anymore, and you find peace and passion in something alternative that you never imagined would be your calling.

When I look back now at my life, I see myself as a product of so many institutions and experiences. Unique, yet common. I was born and raised in Pune, like million other kids. Bullied like a few hundred. Teacher's pet, and the only one called Anuja Rathi. I went to Abhinava Vidyalaya and then Fergusson College, like thousand other folks. But I was among the few who scored a rank in merit, something that meant the world to me and my family then, but hardly matters now. Onward to a masters in Psychology and a career in training like hundreds of kin, where I am recognised as a model in my area of profession and social circle.

What's your USP?

What makes you unique? 

I don't obviously mean one in 7.6 billion (check this crazy clock!) or even one in 1.34 billion (that's India's count of today) - but at least one among many. What makes you YOU?

This couldn't possibly come out of your education or career, since there would be innumerable others that join the same institutions. It could not be hobbies either, unless there are some solid level achievements. For instance, Himanshu Agrawal from Mumbai made the largest origami giraffe in 2009, and set a world record. What remains unsaid, is that incidentally there were 9 others who helped him with this triumph, and did not get a mention despite being at it for 12 hours... 

So well, what's your selling proposition? 

If you don't know yet, it's time to find out. Explore yourself, ask what you have done that makes you proud and worthy. What do you carry within you that makes you someone to cherish? Or despise. Your wickedness is a USP, too, if you do it well enough. Depends on you whether you want to make it known and market it. There's always takers. For everyone. And everything. The price needs to be right, and the market needs to be discovered or created. 

Let me help you get some perspective. The typical hiring question posed my interviewers, "Why should we hire you?" What answer can you give that will get you a spot on the payroll or board of whatever?

There's bound to be at least one thing that makes you feel good about yourself. There could be many as well. Find them out, each one of them. That is your key to success.

Don't go by what others say about you, don't even start with "others call me/say I am ...." cos others don't know you really. Your inner voice will give you a true response. Others may know me as strong and certain, but I know how weak and lost I am inside. Who do I resonate with? Who feels more me? I am an ambivert, but a lot of people would tag me otherwise given my expressed personality and choice of profession. 

There's an interesting model called Johari window, where you (and others) learn about yourself and maximise the Open Arena. That could be a starting point. But I'm guessing that by this time, if you're still reading, you have already zeroed down to a few adjectives about yourself that are real, even if not acceptable to society or self. You may not want to reveal it, but by now, you do know it... What is it that sets you apart in your team/org/circle. Not merely describes you, but defines you. Figure out.

Your looks? What you wear? Whether you dance well or not? What are your vital stats? All temporary. Your confidence, now that's what stays. While many believe that women dress ti impress men, it's a long guarded secret that women want to look pretty first for themselves, and then for other WOMEN. Men be darned. 

Compliments and insults only hit, when you are insecure or assured about something, else they miss.

So, what is it that you bring to the table, partner?

Don't be afraid to be yourself. That's the best and only person you can be. There are too many others anyway....

Chin Up!
Anuja
    

Thursday, November 2

Search for the Elusive

All that glitters is not gold. Yet, each black cloud has a silver lining. 
Although, birds of a feather flock together, familiarity breed contempt. 

Life is full of these dichotomies. Contradictions galore. 
In life, in values, in people and in choices.

Lately, I've become more intolerant with people because I can see through their untruthfulness and I cannot stand it. While I am no Satyawaadi Harishchandra myself, I do make an honest attempt to do the right thing and tell the truth, no matter how bitter and the resulting consequences. I agree life is full of greys, but that statement applies to some situations, and not all, as conveniently exploited by those up to good. 

They say patience with family is love, and patience with others is respect. 

I find it hard to respect people who are not being genuine or generous. Those who pretend and those who are self-centred. No wonder then I am known for being the devil's advocate and calling a spade a spade at work and home. I'm liked and despised in equal measure, yet I quite like this quality where I make no bones about it. Makes me respect myself, else I'd be just like one of those lying buggers teeming out there. 

Diplomacy is a good alternative, I have heard. The unfortunate bit is most people do not understand sarcasm or tact, and go about doing what they're doing anyway, with zero regard to other folks and the impact of their actions.

The elusive gentleman and lady. Why art thou so rare?!!

Someone who is abusive at home is popular as kind and liberal by colleagues. Someone who is outwardly pleasant but vicious inside is lauded as sweet and nice. Even Rama who was the Purush-ottam (the perfect man) did injustice by Sita when he chose to be a worthy king first rather than a good husband. What did Sita get in return for all her hardship, loyalty, love and faith? She was cast away in the woods, pregnant and sorrowful. Our fates are anyday better than that godwoman, despite our intents and acts being worse.

As I learnt about Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott, so many epiphanies surfaced - that there are "mokitas" where people do not openly talk about issues, that relationships die when honest conversations stop, and that we need to approach Coaching and Confrontation very differently than we usually do. Unfortunately, our culture inhibits us from being "Fierce". Meekness is taught and valued, flattery and gossip gets you places. Good leaders and true friends are hard to find, and competence and transparency can only get you so far. People are nice to each other only for a time and purpose, and relationships are forgotten the moment the tangible outcomes wane. 

They say it takes a strong man to deal with a strong woman, and I completely agree. As I see some of my female friends and colleagues hunt for a decent match, the narrow-mindedness of most men appals us, whereas it's a relief to know about it sooner than suffer later. Is it any surprise then that most individuals either remain single all their lives, waiting for someone compatible and real, and many couples either separate or cheat? 

It's Kal-Yug. The dark age. The darkness is more real now than anytime else. My patience is weaker, endlessly subjected to all that is not authentic, capable, human. The suggestion online and offline is meditation, but that's a long, lonely road my mind is not prepared to take. Choose your battles, they say - sometimes peace is more important than being right. 

As I count my blessings, I pray for honesty - in our lives, relationships, careers and society. 

Love and Luck to all of ye,
Princess
           

Tuesday, October 31

Burst of Happiness

... and yet again, the voice of the customer (VoC) tells me that my writing has become dark and gloomy, and that does resound with my (more or less consistent) current state. Totally unpleasant, I assure you. Not nice to read, but harder to endure and experience. 

Life's not all that bad though, despite my "why me" rants. I know people going through much more agonising shit and I applaud them for their tenacity and cheerfulness. Thank the Lord for good jobs, generous family and great friends - I'm blessed and often ungrateful. 

My days are made up of traveling to/from office, marveling at the antics of my growing superstar Aarush (he turns 3 soon!), creating content and sending loads of L&D communication at work, checking out videos and acquaintance updates on social networking, an episode or two of Game of Thrones (I'm on season 5 at the moment - loving Aria Stark and Olenna Tyrell and Tyrion Lannister, hating Cersei and Peter Baelish and can't quite make up my mind about Lord Varys and Jamie Lannister) and the weekly dose of Splitsvilla Season 10 (rooting for nobody in particular, but definitely hating Haneet and Alisha). Reading and writing has taken a complete backseat owing to my video obsession, a quick albeit brainless fix for boredom and laziness. 

Diwali was great - here, in Pune as well as in Bombay. We burst crackers (possibly more than we did last year, since Aarush is grown up and excited with fireworks left over from last time) Also had a good time with fam in Mumbai where I and Aaru traveled in Ola cabs and had a safe, economical, repeatable experience.

I watched Secret Superstar last week, a slow and emotional movie that feel short of the Aamir Khan brand but entertaining nevertheless. The song "Nachdi Phira" by Meghana Mishra is an absolute delight and never fails to make me cry. The state of Lavasa city also made me cry, because it is now a dilapidated ruin compared to what it was publicised earlier. How times change! Looking forward to Ittefaq this week and maybe some travel (pleasure/business) in the upcoming months.    

Aarush is a breeze of fresh air : we're reading about dinosaurs and his enunciation is way better than even mine! He makes me so proud, with his (often) well behaved and (over) communicative, handsome personality - nobody can keep their hands and eyes off the cheeky li'l pixie! He's the heart throb at home and outside, and his memory and maturity is second to none. I know a mom can be prejudiced, but you would know this is true if you've met him... He adores anything scary (just like mommy!) and relishes junk (again like mommy!) Be it painting or Tabata with me, or running around at daycare, bossing around with the grandparents or loving outdoor play - this child has a million hobbies and one. Just hoping that I live up to being a good mom to this amazing human. 

I've come across someone called Murali Sundaram - a happiness coach, as he calls himself. Subscribing to his daily digest has made me ponder on some simple aspects of life that we generally do not to introspect or notice. Some of his tips, that might benefit you as well, are shared below: 

* To stop brooding over painful memories, stop replaying the incident in your head, take deep breaths and remind yourself of a happy experience. Control your imagination and choose bliss rather than negativity (which as we know, is more powerful and permanent than the positives, hence needs more and mindful effort)

* Find fault if you wish to increase happiness; not fault in others, but fault in self. Take responsibility of your behavior and thought. 

* Change your attitude from WHY to WHAT. Rather than saying "Why did it happen to me?" (which is my top favorite currently) - ask "What have I learnt from this? What do I need to do now?" - focus on the future, not the past and dwell on action than blame. 

* Planning and preparation coupled with meditation are the most effective tools to make your life productive, successful and happy. It's tougher than it sounds, and you will fail - but don't give up. Just like life does not give up on you.

... and there is lots more, feel free to browse should it interest you. 

See you another day!

Cheers, 
Anuja   

Sunday, October 8

Weird Things

Weird thing that I'm writing in so late... (It's almost 01.30 IST now) 

Weird thing that I've titled this post weird thing, too.

Weird thing that I've (finally) started watching GoT (Game of Thrones) after all these years despite people getting trolled and myself sniggering at it... I'm now at 402. Loving Aria and Tyrion, hating but admiring Cersei, Tywin and the Hound, sorry for the Starks and Jon Snow.

Weird thing that I did not want to write for so long since what came down on paper (web, in this context) was only depressing and negative. Did not want to come across as a crybaby or cribster or pitiable to you folks. Nobody likes a whiner. 

Weird thing that I'm finally writing now. At this time. Dead of night. 

Weird thing that some psychos are trying to hack into my gmail for ages now from West Bengal, Jakarta, Bali and Pune. Like, what in Christ's name are hoping to find in my email? 

Weird thing that I gave up a chance to go to the US. My (benevolent) company offered to send me on a year long (rare) assignment to Amrika and I said nope coz there were other pressing matters at hand. 

Weird thing that fixed deposits in India earn you less than 7% but you pay 10% interest on loans and 18% GST on the food that you eat in hotels. 

Weird thing that I can't seem to make up my mind about certain important decisions in my life that are causing me agony and my family inconvenience. 

Weird thing that people are dying of cancer all the friggin time - they eat healthy and they die of wax on fruit peels, they exercise regularly and they die of some other cancer, they don't have any (regular) fun in life, and they still die of cancer. I've never heard of a smoker or junkie dying of cancer, and that's weird, right? I mean, where's the motivation to act and stay healthy? You die regardless, and of cancer. Where's this coming from? The air that we breathe, the lifestyle we follow, the food that we eat and the genes that we inherit. No saying who will get what. So you know what, do the hell what you please, and live your life to the fullest, coz no one can answer why when you're gone. Might as well make the most of it.

Weird thing that some people are only born to drink while others are only born to serve others. Weird that they don't accept it, or care to do nothing about it. 

Weird that I think I'm a writer, but haven't been able to finish 50k words in my book in the last 2 years. 

Life is weird. People are weirder. 

And that makes life interesting. A straightforward story would be as boring as a math formula. 

(Which I certainly enjoy, appreciate and welcome.)

(No wonder I am weird.)

Cheerio!
Anuja

Monday, August 21

Why Me?!!

I know this is a ridiculous and foolhardy question, especially when thousands are battling for their health and existence worldwide. But you tend to compare yourself with those up the ladder, and not below. Human nature, what you got is never enough and the grass is always greener on the other side...

The normal reactions of dealing with any change (as I learnt in my own Change Management class) are Shock, Anger, Resistance, Acceptance, Action and Monitor Progress. I seem to have gone through the entire cycle - but the loop keeps bringing me back to Anger after Action.

I was told by my friends and social circle that I'm a model for others, that I seem to have my act together, and I inspire others. Time for me to reveal just how fragile and vulnerable I am. Day after day. Slogging on. Hoping for a better tomorrow. Praying things work out okay and I manage to be happy. At peace. I fail. Every single (or alternate) day.

I wasn't born into an affluent family, though I did not have to make any major sacrifices or strive tremendously hard for anything. Yet, at the back of my mind, I always knew money was scarce, and I had to be careful about my future and expenses. I was bullied at school by my classmates for being dark complexioned and at home by my brother coz I was the ideal kid for my parents. My life was focused around making my family proud of me, and getting off their back as soon as possible to relieve them of duty and stress. Made me an immensely adaptive child in Transactional Analysis terms, even as I maintained my Free Child spirit. I was inwardly introvert and scared, though confident and carefree externally. I hated my childhood and could not wait to grow up.

I started doing odd jobs in college to earn pocket money, this included doing day jobs in marketing promotions and writing the odd article/poem in local newspapers to earn fame and finance support. I was excellent at academics, and ironically everything I worked hard for, I could not achieve - the scholarships in school and college, important job interviews, study abroad opportunities and relationships, whether friendly or romantic. Nothing lasted. I always felt incomplete, unaccomplished. Nothing really mattered. Nothing really gave pleasure. Not those silly parties that others boasted off, endless clubbing that makes teens feel liberated, and I did not possess the selfless streak to engage in social service and stuff.

I got married for love. I was elated that I'd finally nailed it. Made something of my life that would bring me happiness and complete me. Karma wasn't done testing me or maybe my sins were not repaid yet. I fought society and my parents to marry my spouse and his family. My husband abandoned me, sometimes for his colleagues and other times for his family. I couldn't wrap my head around it - how could somebody that was my world, be so uncaring towards me and not be concerned or responsible for how I felt and what I wanted? How could I be ignored and abused all the time? The few moments of joy that I was blessed with, made me feel it was all worth it, that the strife and conflicts were normal and happened in all relationships. That marriages survived, and spouses were meant to be for life.

Unloved. Unwanted. Fighting and demanding things. From my own husband who treated me like I did not matter. That I did not belong. I remained incomplete.

Educated and intelligent - I think I am extremely unworthy of these tags. If I was, I probably would not have to go through all that I have. I thought illiterate, helpless women in slums were abused and exploited, and made stupid decisions. I chose to have a baby when things were already fragile between me and my husband. I should have quit right then, rather than spoiling my life plus one. I knew my in laws were hopeless, manipulative creeps and I chose to bring another being under their sick influence. I got to get an award for being so dumb. I got a son, a beautiful and amazing creature, a gift from the gods to make my life worth living and loving.

I have given up trying to explain myself to anyone, but it hurts you know. It hurts to be so misunderstood and disliked for being genuine. I return kindness a 100 fold and try to be a forgiving, optimistic person. I fail on most days, like today. But I go on, hope creeps in, in one form or the other and gives me strength to survive another day.

I admire people who have been dealt the worst in life, and they still take in their stride and trudge on with a smile on their face.

Thankfully, there are some people who understand and appreciate me for who I am, but the majority cannot deal with it, and it's okay.

What is not okay is that my misery seems endless.

I know joy and sorrow are two sides of the same coin, and one follows the other, neither stays forever. I'm praying that happy days arrive soon, and stay awhile, helping me gather strength for any more difficulties that lie ahead.

Coz we're all equal, and have our own troubles, and God stands by our side through thick and thin.

We shall get through this :-)

And I did! The best way to mend your mood is to do something for someone else.

After a long time, I did Tarot reading sessions for some of my acquaintances and helping them instantly raised my spirit. I can't help solve your problems, but I can help you find hope and be prepared for what lies ahead. And sometimes, that's enough.

Stay strong!

Cheers,
Anuja

Wednesday, August 16

Vent Wagon

Need a vent joint early in the morning, and I'm going to do this right here....

FLUSHHHH!!!

Note: No names are mentioned in this post, but all characters are real and tend to be very very irritating.

Perfection is impossible in the world, incompetence is common, arrogance abundant!

Behaviours that have been triggering me for the last decade...

Lack of ownership, responsibility and gratitude - People want things done for them, but cannot be bothered to do even a teeny bit for others. Everything they get is their prerogative, and the meagre bit that they do for others is a generous favour. Even if they do something upon your (repeat) request will be done halfheartedly and it shows in the poor quality of work, until you finally shrug and I say "Never mind, I'll just do it myself. Why did I even tell you!" What's worse is some people applaud them for doing nothing, and they scarcely even realise what they're doing wrong or not doing at all! Expect and demand from others, not return anything in cash or kind, and no gratitude as well - that's the cherry on top! Get them Sarahah accounts now, will you... 

Misplaced priorities - How the hell can anyone not have basic sense about what matters in life? Work seems to be more important than family, and even in family, spouses get ignored due to the inconsiderate requirements of parents or vice versa. Some folks I know tend to compartmentalise - I've been told "weekdays are only for office and colleagues, I will spend weekends with my wife and kids" - check the cheek! How about only breathing all week and then only eating over the weekends? Life is all about balance. And then they expect you to be okay with their choices and their decisions, in which obviously you have no say coz that's an encroachment on their privacy and freedom. Duh! Like, really?! I never believed in personal space, though I do value it's significance. However, when you carve out personal space time from the 10% time you give someone, then that's pushing it too far. Time and tide, and most importantly people, do not wait for anyone. If you let someone be alone too long, they will walk off sooner or later - either to someone that values them more, or they will find themselves so complete that they do not need anyone at all, not even you. And that can pinch. A little effort goes a long way. 

Possessiveness and insecurity - About relationships, understandable. About work? Why? It's not like someone can take your knowledge and expertise away from you! Even if you share everything you got, people will only be able to take as much as they comprehend, and that is where your exclusivity lies. And if they make it better, then that's something for you to learn! Insecurity and secrecy, especially at the workplace can do more harm than good, for your career and reputation. Besides, teaching once is learning twice (which is exactly what I do as a trainer and coach).

That there can be many behaviors more upsetting than the above is probable. Having said that, the only person we can change is ourself and the only thing we can change is our response to circumstances.

Learn on!

Cheers,
Anuja

Monday, August 14

The Fake Life

I could have written sooner, I wanted to. That my (ex) husband was stalking my blog made me hold back from sharing what I had in my life and heart.

It's been a month, a very engaging one, a very happy one at that. I had a fab birthday, with lots of love and fun pouring in from all quarters. I've watched many movies, some good ones (Lipstick Under my Burkha) and others that missed making a mark (Jab Harry met Sejal, Despicable Me 3). Toilet has mixed reviews, and hence off my watch list for now. I did enjoy my experience at the Mystery Room though - an exciting team building activity with my colleagues. We played Hurt Locker and emerged victorious, gold metal et al. Bounty was a letdown, though, as was Classic Rock Baner. Easy to open a joint, tough to maintain it and provide consistent service and memories, each time. So true for relationships as well. Easy to commence, tough to uphold and deliver, time after time.

What's the brouhaha about Sarahah anyway? All I know is that it is a platform to send and receive anonymous feedback. Duh?!! Since when have we really sought and appreciated genuine feedback? People are scared to say what they've got in their head and hearts, and being fake is the norm whether at home or work. People like me who carry their heart on their sleeve and vent out all that's on their radar get judged and criticised, and then comes this app which allows people to do the same thing behind curtains. How authentic is their reaction? How willingly does one accept it? Everyone I know if posting their Sarahah ID's and sharing their messages on Facebook. Someone I know got a "you need to work on your social skills" that she readily dismissed, whereas someone got "I've had a crush on you forever" that was applauded. 

Millenials, I tell you. A confident, confused lot - the bunch of them. Immensely talented, yet most of them clueless or passionless. Want quick pleasures, yet superficial when it comes to friendships and relationships. No wonder we're got tons of research on them, right from Simon Sinek to random comedians. I've been working with fresh grads for over 2 years now at Hitachi Consulting. I'm a millenial too, BTW, so no offence to anyone in particular. Just that apps like Sarahah are popular despite the negative response on so many levels. 

Work has been hectic and fulfilling, as has my personal life. Friendship Day and Rakhi, Janmashtami and Independence Day - Aarush has brought a lot of homework and variety in my life as well, what with his school and extra curricular activities. I'll be traveling to Hyderabad soon, for work obviously. Until then, its running around the clock, tick tock tick tock.

Hope you're afloat and making merry. Everything is for the best, even though it doesn't seem so right now. Keep the faith. Love yourself. Someone does too, even though your being together is disastrous. And you'll find another, much better one, if you haven't already. 

Cheers!
Anuja


   

Friday, July 14

End of the World

It was predicted that the world would end in 2012. 

It didn't. 

I got married that year. Probably the end of my days of peace and fulfilment.

There are so many events that spell doom for us, and we think if such and such thing happens, then my life is over. 

When I was in school, one of my umpteen teen secrets was that I couldn't for the life of me, memorize the multiplication table of 17. I was so sure that everyone else but me knew all tables by rote that it distressed me no end. Now when I look back, I barely recall having used the table in all my growing up years. But back then, it was something that appeared a major obstacle in my education, career and reputation. (Little did I know that my peers and elders did not know the math tables of 13, 14, 15 and 16 either, and anyway what are calculators for?!!) 

That's just a tiny example, one of many that would spring to your mind as well, when something seemed unsurpassable and daunting.  

Right now, as my son displays all wonders and disasters of toddlerhood, there are so many things that stand out as "can do" and "cannot do", and become benchmarks for moms who enjoy (or can't help) comparing their kids with others. I've never been one of those moms, I knew my child would cross his milestones as and when he was ready, and sooner or later, all kids are able to do everything that is required of them. (All of us grew up just fine, didn't we, no matter what our scores in school, no matter what our experiences in life.) Some of us did better than the others in certain fields, and the others are happier though they may not have done anything that seems extraordinary to the rest. I know my classmates who flunked in school while I scored near perfect marks, and now they're settled in all parts of the globe, earning probably way more than I do, and ticking off items in their wishlists and their lucky spouses' too! Life's fair, everything balances out in the long run. 

Coming out of the closet and divulging the truth about yourself to society is a fate worse than death to our earlier generations. Everything was swept under the rug, and people pretended everything was fine, just so that society did not look at them funny or criticise them. Fortunately, our generation is more honest and upfront about confessing our realities - be it our sexual orientation, marital status, career preference, life goals, etc. Our parents may not approve, but most of them do support us and allow us that blessed chance to do what our hearts say. Society, that comprises folks like our parents, thus follows suit and while they still whisper behind closed doors, stories are forgotten and new ones take their place. 

I had an inter-caste marriage, much to the agony of my family: blood as well as in-laws, for various reasons. But since many youngsters then chose partners across religions, I did not ruffle too many feathers. I thought it was the start of my happily ever after. It was cursed even before it started, and over the years, I realised that I would regret this union, though I'd skipped the regret of not having taken a chance (which is a lot more common). 

For 3 years I tried to make it work, sometimes alone, sometimes with the help of the "wonderful" (ex) husband (who objects to being mentioned on this blog, though he religiously stalks me here since I've blocked him on Facebook and WhatsApp and my real life, and threatens to sue me for defamation, for citing things that I've experienced in real. Bollocks! All he wants is to avoid paying maintenance for the kid, just like he avoided all duties and responsibilities of husband-hood and fatherhood. Which I'm okay with! Good riddance to bad shit, even at the cost of an arm and a leg.) 

My marriage was not meant to be. I should have quit many years ago, but hope and the shame of divorce kept me going. I felt that a love marriage (or any marriage, for that matter) should never end. It was a promise for life. End of a marriage, meant end of the world (yet again). 

Had I been sensible and known that I'd have to change my opinion, I'd have changed it sooner and saved a beautiful creature from being impacted. But well, this angel being there is a blessing to me as well. Plus the knowledge of how tolerant, how wicked and how loving I can be, which was an eye opener for me as well.  

Oddly, they talk about mutual consent divorce. How can divorce be mutual consent, why does it need to be? If one person lets go off the handshake, there is no handshake - it does not depend on the other person withdrawing his hand or not. Marriage needs to be mutual consent, not divorce. And divorce is not the end of the world like I thought it was. It is the end of my sacrifices and suffering, and I have come to terms with it. My dear husband probably hasn't, since he doesn't want to let me go free, though he's the one desirous of freedom and no-strings-attached-relationships.

So separation - better late than never. I'm not the only one, and I am definitely one of the luckier ones, who at least have a choice, and means, reasons and ways to survive. Better than those couples who stay together due to limitations and helplessness, and certainly better than couples who pretend to be together but are more distant than strangers. "Choosing to be miserable together than happier alone", as I read on Scoopwhoop, and exactly my condition up until last year...  

We all have our reasons. We all have our methods. We all choose to sanction some things, and we detest some others. We are all right. We are all wrong. And we all co-exist. Our perspectives change, our wisdom rises above the petty and prejudices.

And the world only ends when we stay stuck, refusing to move on. Find your miracle, be your saviour. Uncover your strengths and reveal your dreams. Nothing can hold you back, if you really want to be happy. The world only ends when you lose faith.  

The world ends. For you.

Reality? It is always alive. Never dies. Never will. No matter what. Even if you cease to exist, the world shall still go on. So don't take yourself too seriously, don't beat yourself up over your mistakes and bad decisions. It was all meant to happen. You were supposed to learn those lessons and experience that anxiety and pain, all so that you could be who you are today, better than yesterday, ready for tomorrow. 

Smile and say hello, it's a beautiful world. And it's immortal. 

(You're not . So make every day count, and enjoy each moment.) 

Cheers!
Anuja


Sunday, July 9

A Decade of Blogging

Hi there, 

I've been on Blogger.com for a decade! Hurray!

That I have not written frequently enough is another tale altogether, but I am delighted that people across the globe visit, stay and return to  550+ posts on "Life..."

I cannot thank you enough, and I do hope I bring you pleasure and reflection in your good and not so good times. Blogging is catharsis to me, and a responsibility as well, especially when someone tells me that they read a post or remind me that I haven't expressed in a while. Heartfelt gratitude. You are my motivation to write, despite my long absences. To each one of you, thank you!

Albeit a cliche, life's a roller coaster, in so many ways more than one, and we meet some amazing and not so amazing people on the way. I look back at all that's happened and all that I have done in my 3 decades of life, and it's been crazy! So much learning, so much heartache, so many joys and so much to be grateful for. But I'm not going to make this a boring, philosophical post. I'm going to tell you what I've been up to this past month. 

(Yes, it's been 4 weeks. Sorry.)

To take my adrenaline rush up a notch and tick another item in the deep bucket list I got, I went to Andaman and experienced scuba diving. Remember Hrithik and Kareena in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara? That's exactly what I did, and I felt exactly as petrified as Hrithik underwater. I had a wonderful instructor, goes by the name Steve, and is from Bangalore, though he spends more than 11 months in a year on the archipelago away from civilization, blissful among the flora and fauna under the sea. He kept me alive and gave me strength as I cruised below the surface of the water, worried about my next breath, trying to enjoy the sight of fish, octopus, anemones and other creatures. It was beautiful, but I'm never doing it again! Scary as hell, even if you know swimming, which you don't need to know. Throw me off a plane a 100 times and I'll be excited, but I'm never going underwater again. You can't open your mouth to talk or scream, and that's not my idea of a great place to be! I'm a trainer after all, and I need to have full use of my mouth, no matter where I am! Only breathing through my mouth - no, not good enough. 

Apart from that, I had fun under the sun with my son on the beach amidst the sand, making castles and enjoying the waves. We're baked brown and happy for this break, which I desperately needed for my sanity and peace. I've been working and fighting some personal battles for more than a long time, and this vacation helped me rejuvenate, re-energize and renew myself. Thank god (again) for such opportunities and possibilities. 

Review of the Andaman islands - It's a gorgeous destination, just as pretty and more economical than other phoren locations which they show on TV and advertise in movies. Havelock beaches are a must visit, and we also stayed at a wonderful resort called Summer Sands at Neil island. We also visited Mangrove and Lighthouse beaches (since Elephant beach is closed almost all year). The blue, green waters and clean beaches - you can see multicoloured fish with the naked eye right at the surface of the water! Apart from multiple beaches with water sports, you got the Cellular Jail with a very painful story and an okay-ish light and sound show, some aquariums and museums in Port Blair. Food can be a problem for pure vegetarians, and the hotels though 3 and 4 star, have limited facilities owing to transport and connectivity challenges. I would definitely recommend Andaman and Nicobar to beach lovers.

Now it's back to work and life, where a difficult battle awaits since my marriage is on the rocks and my soon to be ex husband is harassing me and refusing to sign the mutual consent papers in court. I've suffered for 3 years, been in depression and taken care single-handedly of my son along with a full time job, but that suffering apparently is not enough according to my amazing spouse and he'd like to teach me a lesson. Looks like all his adultery, desertion and abandonment, physical and verbal abuse, dowry and in-law harassment doesn't qualify as adequate torture. I wanted to keep it clean despite all this and not press charges, but he is determined to not let me go "easy". All those times I cared and pampered him were insufficient, cos he wanted to go on secret holidays with his girlfriends from work, leaving the ill kid alone at home with me for days and abuse me for his failures and incompetence in every area of life. Bring  it on partner. I've got God, my parents and my son on my side. I'm sure this will end well for me and I hope it keeps you afloat, if not buried 6 feet under. Karma shall play its cards in time.

Must have come as a shock to many of you, since I always have a smile on my face and a spring in my step. But it's been hard. And now I'm ready for all that life throws my way. I know I deserve someone much better, more cultured, loving and wise. Akhilesh was my mistake - I was warned by everyone I knew. I'm paying the price for this, but my biggest regret is that Aarush has to suffer as well. Nobody can make up for a father's place in life, no matter how much love and values are provided by the mother and grandparents. Guess that's his destiny too, and it's all for the best. Being a divorced, single mom caused me much worry and panic earlier, but it's been 3 months since I've accepted it and built a new life. The heavens up above are merciful, and I know it is going to get better.    

Reading and writing, everything obviously has taken a backseat at this point in time. With so many restaurants and joints mushrooming everywhere in the city, I've had a chance to visit Urban Foundry/Terttulia in Baner (just like any other, to be honest) and Raasta Cafe (which had a better ambience and spread). Despicable Me 3 was a letdown after the first two laugh riots, and that sums up my recreational activities. I do watch Roadies Rising and Sarabhai Take 2 now and then, but my days are full of work and Aarush on loop.  

Each one of us has his/her own troubles, some more difficult than the rest. I know you will get through them, be strong. Keep the faith, like God told Joshua in the Bible. You may not see the progress, you may think nothing is happening behind those walls. But trust me, at the end of it, God will set it right. You will be happy. 

And so will I.

Lots of love,
Anuja

Wednesday, June 14

Being Alive

Call it destiny or call it timing, I last wrote to you about all the jazzy pubs and resto's I'd been to, and as it happens, most of them are now going sober due to the rule which states no alcohol selling/consumption close to highways. 

(I'm sure that's not stopping the "dedicated" boozers and sellers. Where there is one rule, there are ten ways to flout it. Human mentality!)

I'm writing to you after quite a hiatus. Been busy (yet again) with work, travel (Bangalore pub-hopping and staff connects) and home. The kid is in his troublesome two's and it's a pain even to survive, forget blog and do something fun. However, I seem to be managing pretty okay with mt work-life balance. I recently went paragliding with some colleagues to Kamshet, and was it an otherworldly experience! Truly thrilling and adrenaline-racing! Right from the fun local train ride to the trek uphill to the flying platform and back home by auto. 

I enjoyed my aerosport experience with Indus paragliding and you can locate them online. They charge about 3000 bucks as do most others in the vicinity, and it's called tandem paragliding, which means a trained pilot flies with you steering and manoeuvring while you only sit and drink in the sights and excitement. I was lucky to find a Nepali pilot who did everything imaginable on the flight, including somersaults and swinging to and fro, and going to heights and dips. I guess I should also thank my weight, because my poor colleague was almost denied a ride as she was underweight and hence a risk to take off and land owing to the breeze. The ideal weight, I believe is 60-80 kgs so here's a reason to celebrate your kilos!

I realised many things on the trip and during the flight, and I'm going to share them with you just in case they change something in you or resonate within you. Life is too short to keep complaining about what's happening and what's not, who did what to you, and why things did not work out. There is no point in waiting for that one single person to fulfil your dreams and imagination. Be your own hero, take charge of your life. Find the time to do things that you love. Everything else will fall in place. There are many new friends waiting for you to take the first step and plan something that you've always wanted to do but never managed to tick off your bucket list. Just take the plunge. It might fail, but it might succeed too. And once it does, it will be a memory for life and maybe friends for a lifetime.

I found out that what makes me feel alive is not just random peregrinating, but a bloodrush when I engage in something thrilling. 

Paragliding was one, and I topped it with Nitro and Scream at the Imagica theme park in Khopoli. The tickets are expensive, so try to visit on  weekday, especially as groups/students so that you get some discounts. In any case, my paisa vasool moment was when I was lifted in the air and plunged to the ground face first on the 360 spiral of the Nitro rollercoaster. Ditto on the Scream which swings and rotates like a massive pendulum making your hair sway and your heart dance. While I skipped most rides since Aarush could not join (he was short of 3 inches and entered free as he's not yet 3), the day sure was refreshing. I also went to the kiddy rides - TeaCup ride and Magic Carousel, Rajasaurus (slow documentary boatride with crazy, wet climax!) and Wild West (okayish after Nitro). I would like to go back for sure and check all the other rides and the Aqua water park next door. Oh and FYI - the restaurant is pretty decent since you are forbidden to carry any outside eatables, and you don't really need an Express pass which is even costlier than the regular ticket. Must visit, so much better than Esselworld and truly a world class destination!

Planning some underwater adventure soon... Won't tell you where and how. But you know I will stop by again, soon. 

Oh and for the record, I watched the spooky Dobara (inspired by Occulus) and visited Bannerghata National Park (amazing safari!) in Bangalore replete with white and Indian tigers, elephants, lions and bears. I finished reading Grown Up by Gillian Flynn (writer of Gone Girl) and it's a great short story, with my entire theme of thrill and chill. 

Be happy, enjoy the rains. See you when I see you :-) 

Love,
Anuja    


Friday, March 24

Reads and feeds

Hola!

9 years and 9 months old, phew. Been here almost a decade. Thanks for allowing me to thrive and survive, bask in your love and appreciation, dear readers! Love you all. 

I've been reading and I've been out hanging about. So this post brings you some reviews from my latest experiences.

But before that, let me tell you, I watched Logan and absolutely loved it. Brilliant movie, though I'm not an X Men fan, and I'm the types that sleeps through Martian and Expendable like films. While some folks were sniggering about it being a copy of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, I totally adored the father-daughter chemistry. To confess, I actually identified with Laura, what with her quick temper and ability to scar and scratch! I'm a difficult person to be around, and then probably yak the way she does later in the movie. Ha ha. Worth a watch, ya'all.

I've halfway through the third book in the Divergent series. Veronica Roth has kept me glued through Divergent, Insurgent and now Allegiant. While I find my head wandering at some detailed, methodical, fictional descriptions, I find the book has overall appeal for both young adults and oldies alike. I am in love with Four, which isn't a secret really. And I find Tris quite like me, Divergent in so many ways, messed up yet sorted in her own unique manner. By the by, I think I'm equal 30% Candor and Erudite, 25% Dauntless and 15% Amity. Not Abegnation at all. My co-reading friend agrees. He's out and out Amity, so well, we manage to trudge along together, especially as we hang out in the joints that I'm about to describe below. 

Teddy Boy in Baner - amazing ambience, good spread, decent service, wonderful music, amazing crowd. Checks all the boxes as a must visit joint with friends. They have a huge screen as well where you can enjoy a match and a show. 

Cafe 1730 in Koregaon Park - Went there a while ago after many folks insisted it was an awesome place. I found it just satisfactory, nothing extraordinary. Ok food, service and drinks.

Raaste Cafe near Station / Camp - Now this was so much better than 1730. They serve shisha / sheesha / hookah in some pretty stunning flavors and they also have some mindblowing cocktails and desserts. Good crowd, but an expensive place. Considering it still is a part of the old Shaantai hotel. Definite place to visit on your afternoon venue list.

Classic Rock Coffee in Kalyani Nagar - Have been here before, liked it then and loved it now. It's obviously much better in the evenings with exciting crowd, music, food and happy hours. Doesn't have a great variety of soups, though. Why soups? Just thought I'd let you know.

Sin Envy Pride in Mundhwa - Rooftop Lounge and Club. Good food and crowd and music. Expensive, but memorable. 

Elephant and Co and Little Next Door  - Both in Kalyani Nagar - Ok joints both, nothing worth a thunderous applause. Want a change, could make a pit stop. 

Bar Bar, Phoenix Mall - Good one. They have a unique concept of happy hours, where the more you drink, the less you pay per drink. So nothing that ties you down to the time of the day. Interesting spread of starters and satisfactory service and crowd, too.  

Rude Lounge near Phoenix Mall - Had been wanting to go here for a long time, but never managed to for many reasons. When I finally went, I saw that they were an okay place for family as well as friends, and okay in terms of food and drinks as well. The rooftop certainly is a crowd puller as is the location and music. Not bad at all. 

Spice Factory on Nagar Bypass Road - They've renovated a few months ago, and this time round, this place is wonderful. I thoroughly enjoy their menu right from appetizers to mains and desserts.  Their concept of pitcher is a tad warped, it only means a small jug which holds about 2 glasses of beer. But they do have happy hours and theme days, with nice crowd and music so it's a hit for me.

Texas Bar and Grill in Kharadi -  Happy hours until much later in the day, that's what takes the cake first and foremost. Apart from that, their ambience, proximity to my home, music and crowd is all fine. 

There are some old and new pubs and lounges in Seasons Mall and Amanora, which I am not sure if I have mentioned or not, but just to name a few that I have been to that worked (TGIF, TJ Brew works, Agent Jacks, Sigree, Hoppipola, Cuba Libre, Fly High) and haven't been to (Bottle Street and Altitude, heard it's too dear to go just yet without occasion).

So well, all in all, that's my take on the places you can add or strike off your hangout list. Not too many details, I know, but there's got to be some novelty and discovery even in predictability! 

Got some new destinations up your sleeve? Let me know, or better still, take me!

Party on :-) 


Cheerio!
Princess  

Monday, March 20

Generational Gap

So Simon Sinek has spoken about millenials and that's got me thinking. 
(Watch video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hER0Qp6QJNU) 

Since I'm born in the mid-1980s, I am a millenial by definition and I do find myself identifying with some (not all) of the things mentioned in the video. I do, however, see how it applies to folks (kids!) born in the 1990s and later. For example, instant gratification, which is truly evidenced by the presence of social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tinder. Millenials do not want to cultivate lasting, trustworthy relationships. Instead, what gets them excited and motivated is the prospect of likes and speed dates. How well you can sell yourselves to strangers and almost-strangers is more critical than having that one friend for life, that you can turn to come rain or storm. No wonder then, that they feel lonely and burned out, depressed and stressed more and sooner than folks from the previous generations. 

My parents are Baby Boomers (1946-64) and my elder brother is Gen X (1960-80) while my husband is a millenial (1981-2000) so we have a fair mix of all thoughts and perspectives in the fam. 

I see how failure impacts us millenials far worse than it does the other generations. We often leave the company or the relation because we cannot deal with or accept the lesson that comes with it, making us resilient and far more effective and tolerant. No, so much easier to give up and start again in a fresh place rather than undo and re-do some of the bits that need mending to make life smoother in the long run. Everywhere around us are people who change jobs and partners every 6 months, so much so, that when someone mentions a 5-yr old tenure at work or with a partner, it receives applause and even a snide comment about complacency!  

We want our drinks and showers fast, we want to be told that nothing is impossible, and that nothing is too tough. Anything that we aspire is ours, without trying too hard, since we're worth it and more. 

It makes me sad, this thought that we're setting millenials up for failure - the pressure on them is immense and their heads are so messed up, it brings a sense of foreboding. I know some of them out there, wiser even than the rest. But, overall this simple categorization brings with it a lot of scope for introspection and improvement. 

And opportunity for training in organizations, which is how this actually struck me in the first place.  

So, the next time you pause to either reprimand or recommend someone, do keep this idea in mind - the concept of generational differences. It does explain quite a bit about our differing reactions and thought processing. 

Cheerio!
Princess


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