A bowl of hot clam chowder with a certain Ms.Brown

The pale crescent moon hung on the ash laden sky, even the usually tranquil night was brimming with the prospect of idiosyncratic souls sparking a genesis. All great stories of acquaintances usually begin with boy meets girl but this one is about two women meeting and their journey, trust me this one is way off the charts. 

The black leather seats on The Beast were heated and sunk right into the road; it embraced the highway and glided with the speed of wind. She drove that vintage Mercedes fiercely like she was a part of the mechanics. The chilly wind outside rushed to touch us but broke down on the clear glass windows, misting my view of the outside, not that there was much to see on that small dark highway. The incoming traffic from the other side flashed a light on the massive diamond on her petite finger and refracted the light in my eye. It was beautiful and went well with her completely black attire for the day, matching the time outside. 

We pulled into the parking, cracked a couple of gravels against the vintage tires and stopped only centimeters away from the small wooden board announcing the name of the place, ‘Lenny’s’ as they fondly referred to it. As I stepped out in the sharp December air of New Haven, I could feel the blood draining out of my face, it was cold! We stood in front of a massive double door and asked for a place to sit. The rather unamused hostess showed us into our cozy wooden booth. I slid inside waiting for the conversation to begin. The car ride had been oddly quite.

The waiter interrupted and asked for our order. Carole smiled at me and asked me if I have a preference, I indicated none. So she ordered two bowls of Clam Chowder and some crab cakes. On went our conversation. Carole asked me where I got the bravado to fly solo across the pond to be there, she was partly amused with me. I was 24 and talkative, it was a long night of knowing each other. Me twenty four and she some six decades older to me, it was one of those one in a million strangers from two different continents meeting stories. It was extraordinary.

I can describe Carole in two words- Vintage Jazz. Yes, I can picture her and still don’t have words, which is extremely rare. Some people have a very harmonious but impactful existence, she has that gift, those symphonies just working together like a Nat King Cole song. The way of life for older generation in India is majorly only passing time after their retirement, she was a refreshing change. Carole was living the life back then and even today.

She plays golf and wins championships, attends lectures in Yale University, extensively carries out philanthropy in the third world countries and the USA, goes dancing in galas, drives like the speed of wind, a concerned patriotic person in these times and above all she is a mother of three amazing daughters. I learned a lot about how to live life, every step of the way. She was always so down to earth and loved me dearly that it left a lasting impression on my mind. The kind of affection I was unused to and I felt eased in even in that very new house and environment.

In Branford, Connecticut, I walked into the most beautiful home I had ever seen. The house was right on the water and you know how obsessed I am with beaches, it was heavenly. Carole showed the way to my room with a little balcony which embraced the ocean outside. My stay with her was of four days and some of the most peaceful ones. We sat down on the kitchen counter with coffee or wine depending upon the time of the day to talk about the changing culture, intentions, religion and politics in the world, it opened the door wide open for my brain to learn and be sensitive to so many alien elements, it made me a little astute to other sensibilities. 

I would deem a visit to Connecticut fruitless without n number of trips to New York to see the wonder that the city is, really. So one fine morning, we dressed up (Carole in her usual black) and off we went to New York to see a broadway play, she was an avid investor in broadway shows and wanted me to experience the enchantment and power of those shows. The Phantom of the Opera was in its usual Majestic Theater on the W 44th street in New York. It blew my little mind; the quality of production, the song, the actors and the sets, I loved every bit of it and it was a big tick on things to do before dying! 

I was introduced to her grand daughter Grace who is my age and such a wonderful soul. We spent the New Years’ at the Quinnipiack Club for a tranquil dinner and an elaborate breakfast at another seaside club in Connecticut where I brought together all the people I had come to visit. Alan, Mary, Carole, James and Jenny, all of them under one roof, I can never forget that day, it was a spectacle!

I left her house with an oddly unsettling feeling. When the distance is as huge as New Delhi and Connecticut, you don’t know when you will see the person again or if you will ever see them again, quick secret, I did.

Through the years, the love and fondness between us grew. We wrote to each other and talked over video and phone. When I decided to get married, I knew I wanted her to come but it seemed like a daunting task and a distance too big to travel for her. I had made a friend in Grace and she decided to represent her grandmother at my wedding. Boy, was it fun, I can’t speak on her behalf but we did try to make her do every Indian tradition possible including performing on stage to a Bollywood number. So much joy and love.

After missing each other even after being in the same country repeatedly, we finally met again last year when I decided to make, my now grandmother, Carole meet my husband at her summer house. The car ride from Orlando to John’s Island in Florida is beautiful and we enjoyed the scenic route to reach a rather Spanish residence with white walls and wooden windows. The sound of our car announced our arrival and I stepped out to see a beaming grandmother with arms wide open to welcome us. It was so wonderful!

Anuj (my husband) and Carole bonded over the diversity of their backgrounds. His take on things interested and puzzled her.  I took a glass of wine and sat in the corner to watch the two of them talk. How I had been planning it for years now! While we gossiped over things lost, a rather enormous puzzle kept Anuj busy throughout the night.

We all have had some or the other kind of profound experiences in life. They were never lived alone unless it was something spiritual. A greater part of all of us are fragments of other people’s lives and their impression on us. A shooting star can only do so much if you don’t ask for the right thing in life and that’s also true for every person you meet. Our mind more often than not isolates us like an island. We feel we are trapped by uncertainty in the form of black ocean on all sides and there is no coming out of it unless there is a metaphorical ship which decides to inhibit us. That ship is the memories and relationships we cultivate. It is not only imperative that we let that ship dock but also let it be a permanent resident. 

I was attending a wedding in a small village in Kerala back in 2013 with Alan. It was a day wedding of one of the FFA’s beneficiary’s daughter. The whole atmosphere was thick with excitement and happiness, everyone was scattered around under the glimmering strings of silver making a roof outside in the bright pitiless sun. The family was in tears thanking Alan for the financial help to make that wedding even possible. A deep sense of indebtedness and gratitude flooded their face. All they didn’t understand was that the sponsor was sitting thousands of miles away in her home not knowing the magnitude of impact she had on their lives. This was one of the countless examples of how one by one Carole helped and changed lives in my home country without an ounce of selfish rationale.

As I sit and write this, I ponder over the decisions I took in life. The outlook for each decision as simple as the last, to invest in ‘living’ life than owning ‘things’ to leave behind a priceless legacy. My relationship with a woman who lives half her time in Branford and the other in Florida is inexplicable and yet it exists. It not only exists, it thrives on love and respect. 

At this point, you must be wondering how I really know Ms.Brown! My meeting her was in the stars hence it was partly written by the astrologer in my life, Alan. I can not thank him enough for this like so many other things. I lost my grandmother when my dad was a young kid, so its safe to say I never really got to know the unconditional love of a grandmother. Carole filled that void by telling me one day that she is like my grandmother and there I had it, the most beautiful relationship that I had missed out all my life.

Today, when I find something randomly just lying on the floor in my house, it reminds me how she puts her phone and cigarettes literally anywhere on the floor or the stairs so that she doesn’t have to ‘remember’ but only ‘stumble’ upon them. Its crazy if you think about it but it makes complete sense in our lives. 

And it all started with a hot bowl of Clam Chowder on a frosty December night……..

Aaye, Thehre,
Aur Ravaana Ho gaye
Zindagi kya hai,
Safar ki bat hai

The Serendipitous Rendezvous with an FBI Agent

A pair of Nike trainers heaved a tiny dust storm as they stepped into the boorish heatwave of Kochi, Kerala. My eyes were immediately drawn to the signature roofs of Southern India and the smile of a distinctly local guy shouted that I had finally arrived in God’s own country. I was nervous, no nervous does not even come close to what I was feeling at that time; I was in a daze, alone and merely 20 years old. 

I dragged my luggage trolley out of the airport to see my name on a sloppily held board and the most beaming set of eyes that I can ever recall on a woman clad in mustard saree, impatient to give me a bear hug. I was crushed under her weight of love and what I remember was some very strong perfume. Sister Daphne was the head of our office in Alleppey and one of the most social and amiable woman that I know. I mean everyone loved her. When we sat in the car for our two-hour journey to Alleppey, she pointed towards the back of the car with a big smile. I was surprised to see more than ten coconuts all kept to quench my thirst and love for coconut water. Someone had obviously slipped in some information about me. 

As a person from Delhi, I can tell you one thing, we are obsessed with the beach. When a very young me saw us pulling into a mid-century black metal gate right on the beach, my heart skipped a beat with joy. I was staying at the ground floor of the guest house of Alleppey’s then Bishop Stephen. The whole compound had three buildings all nestled amongst tall coconut trees which made for a harmonious background score against the crashing waves of the sea.

It was late evening, I was exhausted from traveling and my whirring emotions of anticipation for the next day. Ten years down the line when I think of it, it still makes me skittish. I don’t remember when I dozed off. 

Sister Daphne knocked on my door the next morning to escort me to breakfast with the bishop and everyone else who were permanent residents of the compound. Those mornings were special and always challenged my beliefs. 

“Alan has arrived and is in his room now. We will meet him in 15 minutes”, Sister Daphne announced. That was it, after months of emailing and talking over the phone, the moment had arrived. My first interaction with what was then a business arrangement. 

Charity Spring was a small start up which was co-founded by James M Schaffer and me. We worked with small to medium sized nonprofits and the Franciscan Family Apostolate (started by Alan J Ouimet) was one of our clients based in India. My role was to write grant proposals, do marketing and other small support functions. Alan was flying from Connecticut on his annual visit and had shown interest in meeting me since we were in the same country. So dutifully I flew down from Delhi to Kochi. 

Sister Daphne escorted me to the first floor of the guest house where a man of a rather large build had his back on us while talking to an old woman who was speaking Malayalam. It was gibberish to me as it was to him, he was trying very hard to understand this poor woman’s concern but in vain. Sister Daphne was quick to intervene and let that woman go. 

Alan flashed his signature smile and said hello. I shook his hands and looked at him properly for the first time. His appearance reeked of a proper American man. A crisp white t-shirt hooded with a checked shirt and khaki shorts with a pair of sandals. Yes, I still remember a rather curious baseball cap with a dog on it. I found it amusing. That maiden moment was over and I could sense my body relaxing.

“We should talk in the evening after our visits to the families planned for today’’, said Alan. I nodded and boy was I flustered. In the evening on that very airy verandah surrounded by coconut trees, we sat down to talk. He started quizzing me non stop on why I want to work with them, why I think some things need to change, why marketing is important and on and on he went. He grilled me for over an hour and interrogated the hell out of my personal life. I had to think hard to answer some of the details which I considered irrelevant until that moment. It was intimidating and I guess that’s how they all are, yes, Alan was an FBI agent. 

I got a taste of something I had only seen on television. It was all coming to life for me.  But guess what? I passed! Haha, it all seems rather silly almost a decade later. We visited several beneficiary families of FFA during our visit and I noticed how he was almost worshipped everywhere. The tenacity he had at that age to walk through dilapidated bridges in villages which could only bear weight of one person at a time (it was scary for me) to sitting down inside crummy huts to talk to our beneficiaries without a hint of flinch on his forehead, it was extraordinary.

I can never forget the day when we took the staff out to buy sarees that year, I was standing in the corner feeling out of place, he walked up to me and scanned me up and down in my lose fitting t-shirt and jeans said,

“You dress up like a truck driver. There is nothing more elegant than the saree”, Yup, Alan said that with a heavy sarcasm and I was flushed but even then when I was a stupid 20 year old, I didn’t take offense. It was never meant in the most obvious way, nothing was actually.

After those really long days of traveling from one village to another, we spent our evenings at a small nice hideout cafe on the beach with Patricia who also accompanied him on the trip and was our treasurer at that time. Alan ordered all kinds of things which were considered ‘exotic’ in that part of India like Bolognese pasta, stakes and remarked on how ‘Indian’ we have made Italian and American food. Between some very questionable wine and food, he took us through those glorious days of his travels, FBI arrests and we stayed at that cafe for hours intrigued with stories and life!

On the last day of our trip, we went for a houseboat ride with the staff. In the evening, we left for our respective homes. Alan went to Connecticut and I returned to Delhi to complete my engineering degree. We kept in touch through emails and Skype. Turned out, Alan was also an astrologer apart from being a badass spy detective. He could read things that you didn’t already confess, which made him curious about my horoscope and so we did mine. Nope, not discussing it here but let’s leave it at, it was all true. Yeah, an FBI agent who can read your horoscope? I mean, C’mon!

Fast forward five years from that time to when I had completed my masters and was working with KPMG, I decided to take a little trip to meet Alan, Jim, and Carole (the latter two also consume a big part of my heart). I decided to take a solo trip to New York and CT. When I think about it now, it was a pretty gallant move. I called my mom from Varanasi where I was stationed for a project and told her that Christmas this year will be in the United States. She was very neutral. Four months later, I flew to the city that never sleeps.

New York was like a dream. I did my summer school in London so it was not my first time abroad but Manhattan was like a giant hug. I scanned buildings from their base right to the top and my eyes got tired absorbing their sheer size. I was blown, New York was nothing like London and after a quick hot chocolate at The Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, I felt like I had arrived. It was Christmas time and I was enamored by the warmth on my first of subsequently many trips to the States.

Guilford in CT is a town usually printed on pretty postcards. It is magical, especially during Christmas with its history, and the town green with beautiful little shop windows. Alan picked me up on Christmas day from Jim’s house for an afternoon with his family of around 16 members. He has two sons and two daughters followed by his grandchildren of all ages. When I walked into the house, it smelled of cake and wine and a burst of chatter. It somehow didn’t feel strange being in a house full of people I didn’t know at all. It felt good, it felt like I belonged and of course, it was because everyone was so kind to me. 

Beside the pristine Christmas tree with gifts under it, all of us sat and tuned into the many narratives that Alan always has but this was special. He narrated the story of how he proposed to Mary near a fountain some fifty odd years ago and it was just wonderful. I came to stay with them a couple of days later. 

Mary, Alan’s wife, was quite unknown to me but she seemed to be a sharp & intelligent woman on Christmas day when I first met her. She was a school teacher and shared my love of books. Alan & Mary took me to the ‘cultural’ side of States. Old mansions in Newport, lunch at vintage hotels, pizza from an old small outlet and wine & cheese beside the fireplace in the living room and so many priceless moments. We went to catch the Christmas Spectacular at The Radio City Music Hall in New York where Alan used to usher guests as a teenager. Yes a lot of history coupled with the fact that he dated one of the Rockettes (Dancers at the show). When the show ended, we came outside and Alan stood at the hand rail and shouted just like the old days, ushering people left and right. Everyone stared at us and it was just so Alan that Mary and I stood and enjoyed the show immensely. I took my husband to the same show a couple of years later just to keep a tradition alive. 

Alan slowly turned from being a business client to being my father figure. He looked out for me even when I probably didn’t realize. He showed and introduced me to a part of culture and world which was very alien to me. My taste for coffee and wine is strangely inherited from him. He spoke at length about a good wine versus a bad wine and very interesting wine stories while drinking wine. Such simple pleasures of life! Mary of course was a bigger coffee jock and I just picked it up and now if you look into my coffee drawer or my wine collection? You will not understand most of it, yes coffee and wine snobs, totally. 

We discuss TV shows all the time and one of our favorites is Homeland. I loved what he said about the eight season, “Carrie Mathison’s arrest? It was absolute bullshit. The FBI is shown as some side party in front of the CIA, that’s a load of crap. We would never arrest a suspect like that” and we both laughed so hard after that. He mostly gives me a hard time about books that I still haven’t read, I have a list, yes. I learn so much everyday.

Forty eight years ago when Mary had cancer, Alan prayed and made a deal with God, if Mary recovers, he will go to India and help the less fortunate. Neither of us at this point I think will find it a surprise that Alan did do that. As a white FBI agent, he set up the FFA under a very communist raj in Kerala back in the 70s. He risked his life and he did it. After almost five decades he is still doing what he does best, help others. How many of us make such promises to God and never fulfill them? I don’t know anybody else who not only honored such a promise but is still going from strength to strength uplifting hundreds of thousands of people in a country he doesn’t even belong to. 

Very few people can say that they are content and even fewer can say their conscience is clear. Life is so weirdly capricious and yet we fail to see the things that actually matter. The experiences and the people in our life mean so much more than we know. It was a rare coincidence in my life to meet Alan. Yet, I peculiarly met this Ex FBI agent cum astrologer cum philanthropist cum I don’t know what else I am yet to know honestly. But I always think if I hadn’t taken that trip to Kerala on a hunch, I would have been deprived of cultivating and growing in one of the most valuable relationships of my life. He I believe is my guardian angel and it will always be like this till the end of time. 

And when I set up an 8 feet Christmas tree in my house a month before Christmas to hang all the ornaments I collected through these years of my travels in a very Hindu household, people will ask me why I do what I do. I will hang the last gold star on the highest branch and think of those brisk winter mornings spent decorating trees with families on the other side of the world to keep my heart warm. 

PS: It’s totally okay to have your wine in a tea cup

Ah! The Good Old Days

As I peep outside through the small gap of the hefty parched curtains of my window, I see an expansive forest green hill embracing the gloomy grey sky struggling to not pour over its left over deluge. The air though pregnant with the cloudy tears, thickens the atmosphere with a slight rawness of a crisp winter air. I am wearing a pair of grey striped socks to match the mood of the day. The dust has settled in on the glass window from last night’s downpour and it just dulls the mood of the room which needs light and only gets a dab. The city today could easily be a small town in England, all gloomy and chilly minus the dirt and millions of people.

I have my phone on the left side of my writing desk and an old mythological book on the right while I type (and not write) this out. I sway between the ultra modern lifestyle trends going in the west which seem aspirational and a simpler time of having nothing but knowledge and a vital survival kit of sleeping mat, hut and food. While my phone takes up a big portion of my attention and life, how I wish I could go back in time like I am sure we all do. Just an era before mobile phones and internet. I am always enamored by the huge mansions, the fancy dresses, the large sunglasses, the music, the kind of books people wrote, the feeling of community and just a slowed down life. Shall we go then? Wait, let me grab my coat, why you ask? Just in case!

[SCUFFLING] I am now in the middle of what seems to be an important terminal of the city. There are very few but very long bulky cars emitting a lot of smoke, a hoard of buses and rickshaws and howling vendors of street food. There are fewer people than what I am used to at any given point in India and further examination reveals I am in Delhi, which era? I can hardly tell!

I start walking towards the railway station which announced it is Delhi. I hear a loud hoot of the ash laden belching steam engine with poorly constructed carriages being dragged on the rails towards the platform. As I stand on the bridge, I am looking around to realize that although old and less people, the city looks a tad more humble than what I had imagined it to be and a lot more polluted with smoke being emitted from every motorized vehicle on the road even though they are scant. People on the road are relatively poor which did not match the innumerable scenes depicted in the movies from the lost era. All I ever saw were colorful clothes, rich culture and everything ducky.

I walk for a good 30 minutes to reach to the heart of Connaught Place and it seems radically different from what it is today and a weird different. People seem tense and almost everyone is clutching a newspaper in hand. I head over to a young boy who didn’t look a day older than 10, selling newspapers. I obviously don’t have the right currency to pay him so I hover around and read the headlines. It says India is in war with one of our neighboring countries, political unrest in other areas of India and the atmosphere thus is thick with tension. I see broad sunglasses, some regal outfits but mostly it doesn’t seem to fit in the description of what I had always fancied the old days to be and frankly it’s upsetting to see even fewer women almost everywhere. I think I have seen enough.

[2019] We get stuck with all kinds of negative bias in our lives. One which makes you see more of what is wrong in the current time than what is good. We love glamorizing the past so much that we might give up a maybe decently comfortable life of the present to find happiness amidst a hoard of uncertainties and pandemonium that every country had back in the day due to wars, crime (maybe more evident than today) and other problems which are huge like inequality, omitted democracy, not enough freedom for women and a ruling class which dictates the society and keeps the best for itself.

amplifier-artist-audio-114820.jpgWe fantasize those well dressed people in bell bottoms and polka dot dresses with ribbons and a go go atmosphere with disco music blaring in the discotheques. We think of those large bulky cars with swoon worthy long bonnets and the gaudy colors and decor of houses. We imagine a humble cup of tea and a Parle G making the cut for that day. A big house with a mango tree in the backyard, we say, “Oh the days of having an ‘aangan’ where we sat with our grandmothers”. An excessively romanticized past portrayed by movies and TV which does not really exist, well, in parts it does but with it there were issues much bigger than what we can imagine in this digital age.

We yearn to write letters and that feeling of waiting for a reply to that letter, not even knowing if that person will really receive it or not. We miss going to the post office and posting cards for birthdays because whatsapp has ruined it for everybody and has made things very easy. We look at a child with a tablet or phone and think how our childhood was so much more than pointlessly staring at a screen. We pine for a slower and simple life. We want so much right?

Now think about this. Who is stopping you from writing letters? Why don’t you write letters,? I don’t think it is a lost art. You chose convenience of digital messages over writing letters and not waiting for days to convey your feeling. Why have you stopped sending out cards on birthdays and anniversaries but secretly love it when somebody gives you one? I still send out cards to people I love.

If we really analyze our lives and compare it with what people had ‘back in the days’, here’s what we do have: Freedom: we have more freedom to choose for ourselves, the life, education and the endless choices we make everyday, maybe a smaller house but an independent one where you don’t have to wait for the end of the day to get peace; Resources: studies have shown that today an average individual has way more than what our ancestors had and it includes literally everything right from medicines to food to entertainment and a decent place to stay with almost negligible chances of a war which took toll of lives of millions of soldiers through history of demented and brutal empire expansions; Hence we have more peace and lesser worry of breaking into a delirious war to conquer more territories; Women: things we take for granted like equality in workplace, personal life, voting rights and an overall elevated status in the society is not very old and has been recently grown into a full fledged monster for the patriarchal society.

I agree our lives have become hectic and there is a constant race to achieve the next big thing. I also believe that more often than not those wounds are self inflicted and last a lifetime. We become used to a certain kind of life or see others and want their life but work for something which doesn’t match our expectations. We are stuck in a vicious cycle and guess what? We know it! Why don’t we speak up in our work place when something is wrong? Why don’t we say no to a dominating malicious partner at home? Why do we suffer and accept the misconduct of other people in general? Why are majority of people today just suffering in silence in day to day life?

Sometimes people tell me that we are hardwired and conditioned to be slaves and ruled by somebody. Hundreds of generations before us have accepted that rule and it is kind of an unsaid personality trait that comes to us naturally. I don’t look at it that way, I think we can be what we want to be and self pity is fine only for a day and in the long run there are no free lunches. 

alhambra-ancient-arch-2431436Guess what? Next time you see an old movie or a sitcom romanticizing the past, picture this; you wouldn’t be able to take those numerous casual strolls in the royal corridors or experience the superfluous opulence of those days that you do today by just buying a ticket because you’d be standing on the other side of the wall like the rest of the reserved mass. Even if you don’t mind this atrocity and maybe you were to get that life, it takes away everything you have today, like equality irrespective of your caste or religion, simple things like traveling on an airplane or a car, getting quality education to do whatever you want and that one thing which is very important and personal to you, will you still give everything you have Now for a ‘simple’ life?

So you are staying with me here in 2019? Shall I brew some coffee? I have cookies too!

Chapter 1:The woman in Green Saree

It was black. It always was black. But somehow it looked like a shade darker than usual engulfing the air in the vicinity. A quick scan around showed nothing but the never ending darkness of that day. Stillness kills change and things needed to change or at least the inertia needed to be broken in that moment. It was late.

Pain is subjective. Pain is different for different people. Sometimes it is a series of mind numbing incidents where all you can feel is a gut wrenching pain at every point of your body which makes you long for it to stop or separate the soul from the body and beg for death. The trick is to fool the mind. Life had always been a struggle for her and she knew the dark tunnel which was her life had no light in the end. She didn’t know what it was to wake up to the ‘light’ of the day.

Distant barking of a stray meant the bulb was out and the usual of the day was slowly pacing. An arm on the cool cement floor and other on her rib protruding stomach, Megha stood up and instantly felt the heat rising up from her legs. The brutal burning had melted away the primary hairy cover of those slender legs. It was yet another night when her husband, Sanjeev had come home drunk after losing all his money to cards. She was somehow more determined now to save the little money from her husband which she had earned from working day and night mopping houses of the posh neighborhood. She couldn’t let her two children cry for food. It broke her heart. So she braced herself and said No to Sanjeev. No to losing her hard earned money on alcohol and gambling yet another night.

The result was not something she had foreseen or even imagined in her life. She had been through unrelenting beating and getting thrown out of her own house to sleep on pebbly hard roads while he beat their kids up in frustration. Tonight, to her horror, his aggression had reached another degree of wrath and madness. He pulled out the chain from his cycle and started heating it on the stove. Megha grabbed her kids and sat in the corner of the house with terror in her eyes. She could feel her heartbeat rising to her mouth. Her wailing kids made Sanjeev even more agitated.

The kids watched in abomination as their father wrapped the chain around her mother in a tight circle as she screamed in pain and begged for mercy. It was the first time she wished death came to her sooner than reaching the crest of agony. The sensation from burning was taking over her entire body. She could feel the heat rising up from her ankle to the top of her head. In revulsion she first saw blood then slowly her skin coming out from the sides of the strangled chain. Her legs had deep embedded chain molds on her flesh. She howled in pain as the neighbors came running to the hut. She saw her friend in tears as she barged into the hut along with some other ladies of the hood. That was the last that Megha saw of that night as she passed out on the floor.


It was times like these when Megha wanted to run away from this life. To run away from her husband and her house to a place where she could eat two meals and sleep in peace. Our society has built itself in such a way in the past few centuries that it acts more like a wall of destruction than protection for its people.

A poor uneducated woman only has her husband to define her identity in this unbelievably doctrinal society. What is Megha without the identity handed to her from her husband? The assessment here is at fault but merely thinking about such questions and thinking that she will live on her own terms also seemed wrong to her as her conditioning was amiss. So she continued to drag her life like a half dead snail.

Megha screamed in pain when her friend came rushing to the hut to help her. Sahiba was not only Megha’s friend but her sister in law as well. She pitied and cried with Megha as she suffered silently and ‘healed’ her from those wounds from time to time. But this time it was different, it was beyond repair for her.

Sanjeev’s bloodshot eyes and monster aggression scared her. She froze in her spot when she saw the scenario painted in front of her. Sanjeev threatened, “You either walk out of this door right this moment or I will kill her. I swear I will kill what’s remaining of this ungrateful bitch. Now get out!!!!!”

Sahiba fell asleep outside in the bushes while hiding from Sanjeev and waiting for him to leave. She rushed to get help when she heard Megha scream. She felt guilty and glum thinking about the moment when she fell asleep and let her friend suffer. The next door rickshaw puller dragged his rickshaw to the front door and carried Megha on his shoulder to take her to the nearby government hospital. They couldn’t just let her die with Manoj nowhere in sight. The sun was up and the sweltering heat slowed down the rickshaw, after all a manually pulled rickshaw could only speed up so much with four people hanging on it.

Megha’s breathing had become shallow and she was reaching her last breath when the doctor attended her. Her kids later joined in with other people who lived around their hut. The kids had run out to their friend Raju’s hut at night before their father could have a chance to kill them in that moment of delirium. They waited in anticipation as the doctor tended her.

They say human beings show utmost compassion when the other is in need while it might not hold true for every one of us, the destitute truly value that human connection. 

The doctor stepped out in the dimly light hallway in a flickering bulb light almost making it impossible for others to make sense of how he actually looked. Dr. Salim’s silhouette on the wall opposite the operation room announced that he was a slender 6 feet tall man with little hair on his head. He walked towards them all talking in hushed voices in fear of getting thrown out of the hospital; a treatment they were used to now. They knew they will not be treated equally. 

Reminiscing you tonight…..

Do you recall the time when I came home crying because I flunked an exam?
I was consoled and hugged dearly; by you ma!
The time when I was unsure about life and gave up on myself?
I was told I am one in a million; by you ma!
The unreasonable demand for things I (didn’t) need,
You couldn’t buy me the world, but it was all compensated for; by you ma!

I was a fleeting reflection on the long mirror in your saree,
I was a spitting image of you; ma!
Those midnight scolding sessions ‘cause you caught me reading books in the dimly lit room,
I am a kooky bibliophile, because of you; ma!

My chubby frostbite fingers in the slightest winter,
My colossal eyes without the kohl,
The twilight like color of my skin,
Everything in me is only a part of you; ma!

You are my subliminal thought when I am somber,
Because only you reside even in the darkest corners of my heart; ma!
You were the proudest in the crowd through all my eccentricities,
You didn’t bat an eyelid when I failed,
You are my wall, my esprit; ma!

Time walks in a paradoxical path,
I could see the lines; ma!
You wanted things to slow down just a little bit,
I could feel the intensity flickering but you still looked as glorious; ma!
Time is running like a beautifully written cursive fable,
And ours will always be the abstruse saga; ma!

Don’t you worry; ma!
We have more to savor,
Countless tales to live,
And although you are miles apart now,
Every time I look at the moon,
Your bed time stories come rushing back,
And when the breeze brushes my hair aside,
I know it’s you; ma! miles apart yet so close.


astronomy cloud clouds cosmos

There is No Hiding Anymore!

The door slammed behind me as the gushing mountain winds made it very clear that they are going to decide the course of things for me this morning. I walked down three floors very carefully to save myself from another mishap of tumbling down the entire flight of stairs in one go. I pushed myself into the car and started my Uber ride like all the other mornings. I saw a bunch of strays right outside my society trying to enter the posh society where the ‘food’ is and the poor security guards shooing them away. I see it as a classic example of how our society operates.

We all talk about poverty, we all know it is real, we know where the real problem lies and its not in one place, its all around us. We have our own definition of ‘Poor’ and what should be done about it. While some of us make a move and make a small change every now and then; in India I see it as a TV time discussion when something crops up about the poor state of our country or corruption even in this area or a talk show host going gaga about something a single person has achieved surviving against all odds involved due to politics.


Indians comprise of 17% of the world population and have more than 20% of the world’s poor, what does it say about the country? If you are like me, if you are like so many others who have the best of education options, house, food and take an Uber to ‘glide’ from one place to other, you see abjection, in your face, literally everywhere! There is no hiding anymore. When I stop at a traffic light in the heart of Connaught Place in Delhi, I see huts on the sidewalks. I see babies crawling on the footpath beneath the baking sun. As much as it pains me, you and I can not even start to fathom the magnitude of the sad state of affairs.

The rift between the rich and poor has distended so much due to our own ignorance that its becoming harder each day for the small section of the society that cares to make a difference. We have made education, when I say education, I mean proper education in a classroom with books and teachers, extremely expensive and out of the reach of the less fortunate. The free education provided by the Government has been reduced to crippled school buildings sans any furniture or a proper teacher to educate the young minds. Price of basic food supplies have sky rocketed in the past ten years which is worsening the dire situation. We are unconsciously ripping away the basic rights that the destinies deserve.


The political gurus will talk about statistics and boast about how the poverty rate is decreasing but is that rosy picture true? Its not complete at least. Studies show that the number of people under Government’s welfare plans have almost tripled who majorly formed the BPL category earlier. They do not come under the BPL (below poverty line) category by the virtue of such programs. The question here remains unanswered then; are we really improving or giving temporary crutches to these people without any solid intention to uplift them permanently from this dark void that we have created ourselves for them?

My cousin recently met with an accident and he was transferred to the nearby government hospital with his wife who was bleeding profusely. Nobody attended them for 6 hours! Can you imagine what the scenario must be everyday when the less fortunate people of the society who can not afford private hospitals turn up at these hospitals? Brings tears to my eyes.


There is no perfect solution to this multi facet problem that is glaring at us. But we not even as responsible citizens but as humans for other estranged humans, should share a little of what we have. Money, time, efforts, anything at all which is under our control. When I go to the huts and dilapidated houses of the beneficiaries of my humble nonprofit, I see pure happiness and a will to work through adversities to make ends meet. I see conviction and twinkle in the eyes of those young faces to make something of their lives and to change their sad state. I love how excited they sound when we talk about future and what endless possibilities it holds for them.

Though in a small way, we focus on each dimension of the well being of these people and uplift them. We are not champions but not docile either, we take a stand when a small highly superstitious group of adults try to stop development from happening in their community. We fight, we strive, we advocate change to uplift and transform.


Do we do enough? No. Can we do more? Yes! Do we get the support we need? Sometimes. We draw our strength from each and every member of the apostolate who joins us in our journey and makes it special in their own little ways. We get great advice, we get special funds for special causes, we get volunteers and most of all, the support of our Founder who relentlessly runs this program and his spirits keeps us all motivated.

I get aggrieved, saddened and very disheartened when I see the state of things in India right now, but I also see people getting immune to scenes of a small baby on the verge of dying on the road side or an old man struggling to walk but begging; in the name of not being capable or big enough a force to stop it everywhere in the country, you can’t hide. The cost of life in this country has stooped down even more. Every life is important and there is no way or reason to emphasize it to anybody. Our nonprofit struggles with politics and corruption to get some money for the right causes which fills me with despondency. 

Can’t we at least let the poor live with dignity? What good will bribe money do to someone which has been snatched away from a poor man and his right to eat or live. Don’t settle in and get comfortable in the luxury of your life, do your bit and raise consciousness around you. If you can’t, give me a call, I will be happy to talk to people who are interested in making a small but a a strong impactful change in this world. Yes, we have to stand united. There is no hiding anymore………….


‘Hazaaron khwaahishen aisi,
Ki har khwaaish pe dam nikle,
Bahut Nikle mere armaan,
Par fir bhi kam nikle’

You can find out about our work here: http://franciscanfamilyapostolate.org/

A feminine hue in a world ruled by patriarchy

Through dusk and through million other nights when we look above to the limitless horizon defining the ground beneath us, we see the same dancing lights but each a different fate, a different silhouette. Your story was written in the past similar to the millions of souls who walked on the same magical dust which bears the green of this world, cycle after cycle, year after year. But is this the story you want for yourself or do you want the power to shape it and change it completely?


We have evolved from being the hard hitting philosophers who thought we inhibit a flat planet to an absolutely unbelievable amount of acceptance of almost everything in life including same sex marriages. Our psyche transformed through the years and conceded us to see things in a new light. We opened up to new possibilities in all lengths and breadths of life.

Our belief system is somehow rooted in our upbringing. It is in the stories told to us while we slept in our mother’s lap. Those stories stayed with us. Those fairytales and heroes added a little to what we are today and how we imagined this world would be for us. My allegories had the universe in them, the cage breaking bird, the talking doll, the monsters invading the earth, the princess falling in love with the beautiful handsome prince and most importantly the damsel in distress.

Yes, the focal point of almost all stories had a damsel in distress. The shades of a woman’s character peaked from the strongest point of the story to being dragged down as the weakest link which needed help. One cannot say it is the Indian society and its narrow mindedness which spun these tales. The ancient Greek mythology essentially talks about women in context of sex and bearing off springs to take the family forward. The powerful men ruled the kingdoms while the women even though possessing powers were seen as subjects of gratification for the mindless war fighting men.


The middle ages saw Christianity in full swing against women who had the extraordinary knowledge and power to transform things and have a profound effect on people. These women were labeled ‘witches’ because they were overstepping the power of the church. The male chauvinistic society could not the bear the pain of women taking over a world which was dictated by them. One cannot justify burning these women alive and torturing them with any number of theories or explanations.

The Hindu mythology worships women and then turns around and makes her an object of pleasure. It keep us right on top of the ladder and then disgraces the same woman by questioning her character and punishing her for sins committed by their counterparts. When Goddess Sita married Lord Ram, she was 16. At that age she had the choice of staying back in the palace to lead her life peacefully or live a primitive life in the forest. She chose the latter because this is the first ‘dharam’ of a wife. The same wife was abducted and 14 years later her sanctity was questioned. She stepped through the blazing fire to prove that she was ‘pure’. But gossip didn’t die. She was with a man who was not her husband for 14 years, could she be forgiven? Could she be pardoned for a ‘crime’ which she didn’t even commit? No. So a pregnant Goddess Sita was sent to the jungle yet again. Lord Ram was ready to accept her back when he saw his two sons but she was questioned and asked to prove her fidelity yet again.


Draupadi was ‘lost’ in a game of dice by her husband. She was married to the five Pandavas against her wish because Arjuna’s mother asked him to ‘share’ what he had won in an archery clash. As absurd as all this sounds, everything has one thing in common; an immensely understanding and forlorn woman who sacrificed everything for her husband/brother/father for their motive of pleasure, property and wealth of the world.

Do these women deserve a better ending? Did you get a chance to change your story? Are women only entitled to these sufferings even though she is the only chance for this humanity to grow and develop into something absolutely beautiful?

We are born the same way beneath the same blue sky. We are entitled to the same upbringing as our brother/friend and we get all that in some cases but we majorly fail as a society to provide that basic respect to a girl. As we age, the gender gap widens even further. Our education is stopped beyond a point, our clothes become conservative some more, our thoughts are regulated, the boundary of what we can do increases some more and the expectation from us escalates even more promptly.


While I strongly believe that men and women are not equal in many dimensions, I demand equality in areas which should be the basic hygiene factors for a happy life. A woman is more patient, emotionally mature and the has the ability to withstand changes for her loved ones in a way most men can’t, so, a woman is stronger. I don’t think a woman can be physically stronger than a man in most cases because God made us a little more feminine and gentle. We are moulded to give birth to a new life, we have our own supernatural and super awesome powers. Why compete with men?

Our society was and is still struggling under the weight of the tales spun thousands of years ago where women served men. Where men were superior. It distresses me to witness such incidents and people, who think women should not be educated or should not work because they can do nothing better than cook or take care of the family. When somebody like Gandhi Ji lied naked in a bed with his grand daughter to test his patience, it shakes me from inside.

It clearly indicates that education alone is incapable of changing our psyche. It will take more than just a good college education to change the rigid mental picture of roles of men and women in this society. It starts with our family upbringing and the way we narrate our fables. We have to change the role of women from being the off spring bearing machine to being the flag bearers of something much more important like shaping the future of our world because who you are today is a strong impression of what your mother/grand mother and countless other women left on you.


We are both part of the same cosmic universe. We are both atoms of the same kind. We feel the same happiness when the season’s first rain impinges against our skin. We feel the same hunger pangs when we are too busy in our commitments. We see the same beautiful night sky to find among the million stars the one which is ours. We both have the same insecurities and love with all our heart. When i put in the same hours in office as you, why do people see that as handwork and my being a woman is seen as a reason for promotion? We walk the same path but what we get out of it is so different, why?

I don’t think we are the same. But I think we both deserve similar respect and opportunities. Me not by virtue of just being a woman, but the by the work I do and how I conduct myself. You and I should be under the same radar. When you are weak I support you and where I fall short, you be my hero. We are all a part of some or the other struggles and we can make it easy by being the stronger one when the other soul needs nurturing. Atoms of the same soul, atoms of the same universe.


Aaina dekh kar tasalli hui,
Hum ko is ghar mein janta hai koi……..

A dole of broken serendipity


The rustic leaves on either sides paved a way and led towards the hurtling stream which jumped over the green moss stricken pebbles strewn all over the place. It was a beautiful spot with orange and pink leaves, the water was clear and the sound of the gushing stream was so pure and so serene that floating on the water made so much sense. The first feet went in the water and a sudden rush gushed in the entire body like a volt of current. The second feet came in a second later as the whole body slipped inside the icy cold water. The soul felt calm and just when it was starting to feel ethereal, a sudden fear gripped the body and it started to drown. You can’t float on water after all, the mind thought.

Jhanvi woke up with a start. She opened her eyes in fear to a room full of colored boxes and glittery paper all around. The dream depicted her current state of life. She felt her heart drop once more when she realized where she was and what day it was. A 13 year old by virtue may only look forward to some pancakes or meeting her friends on a sunday morning one would think but the bondages of human society transform a plain simplistic picture of life into a mosaic.

13 years ago her parents weren’t happy to see a girl being born in the family. A girl came with responsibilities, a girl came with a cost and above all a girl wouldn’t carry their family name forward. Her mother got busy trying to conceive another baby, a boy, and bore her second child when Jhanvi turned 1. The whole family was ecstatic on the arrival of the family heir. The little child of hardly 13 months was neglected as though she didn’t exist. The love of a mother could be questioned but not changed which prevailed only for her son. All eyes, all hands and everything was for the son.

Jhanvi reminded them of the cost her marriage would bring to them. The sooner she is married off, the better, her father always thought. A small child of age 5 or 6 didn’t know love because it never touched her. She always watched from the corner of the room when her brother lay between her mother and father while she stood in a corner abandoned. It pierced her heart but she only shed silent tears. Her grandmother was the only one who loved her. She spent nights listening to fairytales and slept beside her with a face saturated with dried up tears.

Jhanvi was 13 when her father’s cousin from the other town suggested that its the right age for her to get married to his friend’s son who was 20 and a plumber. Jhanvi’s mother was apprehensive only for a while and gave in to the idea after a little persuasion from her husband. After all, the wedding jewelry was ready and the sooner Jhanvi was married off, the sooner life became free of any burden for them.

Destiny conveniently chose the worst for Jhanvi and her hand was given in marriage to Pushkar.  She was reading Tagore’s ‘Where the mind is without fear’ which was ironic to the situation in her life when her father walked in and announced that she is getting married. Each word stabbed her right in her heart. She protested but in vain. She knew her father’s decision was final and nobody could ever reverse it.


She stopped going to school from the very next day, why pay the fee when there was no need of education now? Her parents calculated everything and education didn’t fall in their list of priorities when the preparations were in full swing. Jhanvi sat in a corner and cried. Her grandmother tried to relate Jhanvi’s life to her own life and made her understand the sacrifices a girl has to make during her lifetime.

The present day was a horror movie in action. She had seen a small photo of Pushkar and he looked old enough to be her uncle. She was terrified of the very thought of living in the same house as his and yet here she was on her wedding day with no way out of the mess she was in. She could run away but go where? A 13 year old’s vision of the world is limited and her options, zilch.

Her mother forced her out of bed and into the shower. She was immersed in sandal paste and all sorts of things which were yellow and smelled nice to Jhanvi. Her life was a haze right now and she wanted nothing else but a day to comprehend what was happening and what lied ahead of all this drama that was taking place without her consent but unfortunately she was granted nor the day nor the choice to have the final word in anything.

Her henna painted hands were adorned with glass bangles, her head was covered in veil and the blazing red bridal outfit which was bought a fortnight back was put on her. Jhanvi still looked as young as she was, no amount of make up or heavy embellished clothes could hide her innocence or age. The walk from her bedroom to the mandap was a torture and she controlled her tears as a punishment to herself.

Hours later she sat on a bed of a house she had not seen before, a place she didn’t know and a feeling so alien she questioned why she was even alive to do what was about to happened. Pushkar walked into the room and bolted the room. Jhanvi clenched the bedsheets tightly awaiting the horror to unfold. Pushkar came closer to her and forced himself on her. With everything that was left inside her, she gave in. She gave in to a man she hadn’t even seen properly before, she gave in to a pain which made her want to scream her lungs out and she gave up on her life that night.

The murky sunlight filtered through the old frail curtains in the room and hit Jhanvi’s eyes. The events of yesterday had taken a toll on the little girl and although her body still screamed for more sleep, her brain had recalled everything that happened last night and the room came into focus. She saw Pushkar sleeping peacefully next to her. His sight irked her soul. She wanted to run out of the room and out of this life her parents had pegged for her.


There was nothing to do but to get dressed and greet the hoard of family members waiting for her she thought. A small session on how to wear a saree was certainly not helpful as she struggled to drape it around her slender waist. Jhanvi met some good and some not so pleasant people of a house which was now her family. It seemed that there was an awful number of men in the family and very few ladies. On inquiring she was told that she was the only girl in her house and now she was responsible for all the household chores which was short for a maid.

A week passed and the festivities ended. Pushkar didn’t care much about Jhanvi unless he wanted some pleasure during the nights. Jhanvi cooked and cleaned, took care of the family in her own clumsy ways and braved taunts on being a useless ‘woman’ which she was not; she was merely a girl who used to attend the 6th grade a month back and now she was suddenly in charge of some middle aged men she didn’t even know properly.

Jhanvi was 3 weeks pregnant when she found out about it. Her instant reaction was to go kill herself in the nearby pond but the entire family was ecstatic and it was the most happy they had been since she moved in. The whole atmosphere of the house changed except that her pregnancy reminded her of the multiple rapes that she had endured. The child will not bear a single ounce of love but my endless sacrifices she thought. But the child had become a part of her existence and she had to choose between love and hatred. The innate tendency of human beings is to find a soul just like theirs to confide the greatest, deepest and darkest secrets that they have and when they don’t find that soul, they cave in and become dangerous. Jhanvi had that choice of choosing love over hatred, a choice of redeeming her life and living it with a purpose.

Her struggles were as real as her pregnancy. Her family extended no support, she went through the same cycle of torture each day and Pushkar’s desires couldn’t wait for the baby to come. Some of the days the pain and agony of suffering was so much that Jhanvi considered suicide as the prime choice to end everything but her grandmother’s last words rang in her ears. She always seemed to stop herself.

After months of illness and torment, Jhanvi gave birth to a fragile looking baby girl. The hospital was shocked to see such a young mother and vehemently opposed such a practice. The kind female doctor gave the infant in Jhanvi’s arms and shed a tear. She could read Jhanvi’s struggle on her face and felt a sense of guilt engulfing her soul for not handling them off to the police.

Jhanvi looked into her daughter’s eyes and felt a blanket of happiness enveloping her. She promised herself that her fate wont be intertwined in hers, that her daughter wont go through the agony of a life lent to her by others. Just when the infant started crying, Jhanvi vomited blood and gave the baby to the nurse. The doctor tended to her but the bleeding didn’t stop. In horror Jhanvi saw the bed smeared with her blood, her mouth was not the only source of blood coming out of her body. Slowly the room became a blur and she passed out.

Jhanvi didn’t live to see the baby live to even the second day of her life. Her in laws dumped her baby at her parents’ house and asked them to take care of the liability they were not ready to take since their daughter didn’t live to nurse the baby. Jhanvi’s parents were in a state of shock but more worried about the baby which was now in their charge.


Jhanvi lay peacefully on the ground. She had a little smile on her face. The smile of finally getting relieved of all the pain that she went through in her small life span on the planet. The smile was for the freedom from the struggles that were yet to begin because she gave birth to a daughter. Jhanvi was free at last and on that unfortunate night; love and kindness died a million deaths.

{The latest Census report on the decadal headcount in 2011 reveals that child marriage is rampant, with almost one in every three married woman having been wed while she was still under the age of 18 years in India.

What is worse is a whopping 78.5 lakh girls (2.3% of all women or girls who were ever married or were married in 2011) were married while they were not yet 10 years of age. The Census data also show that 91% of all married women were married by the age of 25 years.

The legal age for marriage is 18 for women and 21 for men. But an alarming 30.2% of all married women, or 10.3 crore girls, were married before they had turned 18, as per Census 2011 data released on Friday. In a silver lining of sorts, however, the trend seems to be on the decline. As per Census 2001 data, 43.5% of all married women had been married while they were under the age of 18 years.}

The forfeited stars

They were born out of different pixie dusts; Love, religion and lust,

The skies were painted red; An army of thoughts and dreams were led,

Across those deep oceans; Complacent on surface but knows only commotion.


Love is blind they say; Is it truly?

Love is patient they say; I tell you those are stories they make;

Love is strong they say; I’d tell you its fragile like clay,

Love is forever they say; In those rusty old caskets are the truths laid,

Of innumerable suffering, did they say? To paint a picture for you to take,

To make the heart suffer; Remembering the stories which made the heart flutter.

Love is miscalculated; All the other notions are dated,

Love is kind; Heart always over mind,

But love is also weighted; Bows down to chronicles undated.

Love is not a fairytale; Each of them have their own tales,

of their own world; Of their homes and chambers hated,

Hated and hidden deep down; Awaited by the two,

To either embrace it; With grace,

Or to shatter; Because the society matters.


But the faults of that casket they accept; To make the society inept.

Before the sands of time blow; They leave tip toe,

To arrest what they have; The love, happiness and lies,

Enough to make the souls survive; Enough for two to thrive,

The world fails again; to discern; To let some adulation flow,

Loses itself to inutile chapters and verses; Long told; inept to change its mold.

They have their own battles to fight; To choose between wrong and right,

A tear escapes her eyes; She is tired of all the fights,

But this is not the end he says; There will be better days and night,

They close their eyes to the million stars above; Much above our battle of religion, lust & love!

Golden sickles & a broken pen

The muddled heart wasn’t ready, the scars were still fresh and the mind was worried about the little crease in the ivory shirt that flashed in the somewhat spotty mirror. There was a definite lack of synchronization today. Life never follows the path you want to fly on and it rather drags you along on that sloppy muddy trail left behind by millions of others unless you are somewhat close to being batman or something.

The pumps pinched a little, made me a little higher as I checked myself in the mirror for the nth time. Yes, I was the spitting image of my mother only modern. I shot a look at my new gleaming bag which was supposed to bring good luck and grabbed it to head out for the first day of the utterly sophisticated world of consulting.

I was a mere 6 days old MBA graduate. A 25 year old sailing on 18 with a pair of shorts and t-shirt on the exact same day a second back it seemed and everything was wavering now from one extreme to the other. I was hysterical to be honest more than anything. Yes I had the dream job, good city and what not, but the mind and its anxiety are like hindi movies and overdramatic mothers, made for each other material, truly.


The first day was of course all confusion and more confusion, trying to open doors which wont open without a card which i didn’t have and so on. The clank clank of the heels, the fake laughter and those crisp business suits. Everything was new and exciting. People call you the ‘chosen one’ when you get your first assignment within the first two days of joining. Hell yeah I felt like Harry Potter until they told me that they were flying me to Varanasi, the land of bhang and everything else that you haven’t seen in life.

When I stepped out of the crisp aircraft environment into the warm breeze of Varanasi, I saw a small yellow building with a tilted board announcing I had finally arrived. The journey from the airport to the client site was amazingly disturbing for some one who had just commenced a new chapter in life with a long list of plans to visit all the pubs and weekend getaways, those dreams were now taking the shape of temples and severely damaged roads which transformed into a river as soon as it rained.

After the initial shock I was finally adjusting to a whole new world yet again, like they say, only change is permanent, well, that is the only permanent in my life these days. The town was new, the culture; quite old and an atmosphere where everyone was so laid back that it induced a sort of laziness in me and all my team mates. The rickshaw pullers slept on their rickshaws, the auto guys would rather sip tea than take you anywhere and the waiter would spend a good five minutes understanding something as simple as getting a straw to test your patience and I could go on and on.

I am a part of Financial Services consulting, I loathed finance back then and maybe even now. Suddenly I had to become a core banking solution person. I had to know how a bank works and how the whole system works. I had to make killer presentations to look intellectual, I tried to learn everything very fast similar to drinking a scalding tea so quick that it burns the very inside of your stomach and throat, such is the humor of life. I was a marketing person all my life and God conveniently picked me up from the world of philanthropy and pinned me to this giant stodgy finance monster.

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That also changed after a few months, I was sent back to where I belonged, well thats what I think at least- Delhi. My Gurgaon office is sprawled with pubs and night clubs on both sides, it stands tall and handsome. I like it here other than the fact that its a long travel for me each day, but what is perfect? I see my life as this emotional dramatic movie, people call me a drama queen,well thank god I am not boring! 

I have learned this, when we are in college we think the life after this is going to be awesome, we are wrong. We think this lesson on blah is boring and practically it doesn’t get used, well, we are wrong again. I invite you to spend a day with me and see how people talk about blue ocean strategy and product mix strategy all the time. I wish some one told me that!

When life gives you the best of everything, it also takes away a little from you. When you crib about the present and reminiscence the past, remember this should be the day you cherish so that you have difficulty picking out the best one. My job maybe perfect to some but it has its own very real struggles which not many would even want to face but to them my life is perfect. You know why? I choose to show the best of it and that should be all of us. We should be an epitome of life well lived rather than a life well slogged and made blotchy with tears of complaints all the effing time.