This is why I choose to be selfish

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

My day begins at 9:00 AM in the morning with me doing nothing substantial post waking up. I am not one of those super-enthu-cutlets who jumps out of the bed and begins with the day with indefinite amounts of horse-power.

I like tossing in the bed for a couple of minutes after I have woken up.

I do that primarily to prepare myself for the work-day that lies ahead of me. Maybe also so that I can test my abilities to scale new heights of shamelessness – the kind of heights that only a person who chooses to laze around even when she is running late can reach.

I fold my blanket and put that in place along with the pillows. I think I do that because at some point I was convinced by an article that spoke about how making your bed first thing in the morning sets you up for increased productivity throughout the day. Not sure how much of that matters, but I do it anyway.

I then go to work, I’m back home by 11:00 PM and I spend the rest of my time mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and stuffing my face with chips and/or roasted peanuts till I start feeling sick. That has been my schedule for the last 4 years i.e. since I started working full-time. Not much has changed in all this time, really.

I’ve never wanted to be famous, or rich, or powerful; I’ve always wanted to be happy. I’ve wanted to feel genuine gratitude for everything that there is and isn’t in my life. How hard could that be?

Have I been able to achieve that? Yes, and no. But the answer also largely depends on how I define happiness, no? My definition of happy has evolved over the years – it has gone from ‘I want my parents to feel proud of me’ to ‘I want to feel proud of myself’. Sounds selfish? It is.

Selfishness has grown up with a bad reputation and I don’t understand why.

The one quality that is constantly expected out of all of us is selflessness – be it through the ever-so-obedient daughter-in-law from mediocre TV series, or the Bollywood protagonist who leaves his wealthy family to obey his father (high five to those who got the Sooryavansham reference!). They want us to give more than you can and expect nothing in return. Why, because that makes one a better person.

Well, fine, it sounds like a good philosophy but is it healthy to keep giving all of you all the time?

I’ve grown to believe that it’s essential for one to be selfish. The “good” kind of selfishness is quite an esoteric idea and I know that most of you, by now, are already starting to dislike me for saying what I just said. So I’m chugging a cup of adrak wali chai before I proceed.

Selfishness has bad connotations attached to it. There are two types of selfishness –

  1. The “I’m going to say that I’m not hungry but I’ll eat 4 bites each from everyone’s plates” type,
  2. The “I’ll have my dinner with everyone, but save my gulab jamun and have it when everyone has left” type

You don’t want to be no. 1, you want to be no. 2! (even no. 2 has bad connotations attached to it. Hehe.)

Pardon the analogies AND the sad toilet joke.

But the point that I’m trying to make is that being selfish should not be about benefiting yourself at the cost of someone else’s happiness. It is about maintaining the right balance between making others happy as well as your own self.

Choosing to stay indoors over meeting your friends on a weekend because you want to be by yourself is selfish.

Treating yourself with a cheat meal after a month of restricting yourself to “healthy food” is selfish.

Cutting off toxic people to protect your sanity is selfish.

Do these things sound wrong to you? No, right? So you see what I mean – we have been blessed with this beautiful gift, that is life.

We’ve only got so much time and it’s imperative that we make the most of it. You can’t be enjoying your life if you keep deprioritizing yourself.

I am 25, and I’m still not a millionaire! But in hindsight, I realize that ever since I started doing things that made me happy, I’ve truly been in a better headspace, even without the moolah!

Putting myself above everyone else has prevented me from living my life on autopilot. I do things that are not always expected of me, but I do them anyway because they are harmless and they make me happy. Imagine how boring our world would’ve been had all the great scientists, and philosophers, and artists, and writers, who walked this earth, wouldn’t have done what they once wanted to do with all their heart and soul!

I treat myself because I want to, I say yes because I want to, I say no because I want to, and I say goodbyes…well not because I (always) want to but because I know that some sights are prettier when viewed from a distance.

I think I’ve made my point. It’s time to make my bed now, and I will make it. Not “because I want to”, but because it gives mom one less reason to scold me. Being selfish doesn’t always work; sometimes you have to be wise (especially with mothers).


Cold and Comfortable


Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

It’s starting to get colder.

I’ve always been one of those who will carry a jacket in her bag while going to a cinema hall. For some unknown reason, those people at the cinemas know no temperature that does not meet the Arctic standards.

My palms are bearing the brunt of the cold. My fingers, they are starting to get numb. I feel a chill run down my spine followed by a ghastly sense of loss.

It’s not the temperature; it can’t be.

Am I the only one who is cold? Everyone else seems to be unaffected by it. They look like bright and shiny people, totally slaying their day. “Hustle”, that’s what they call it these days.

Working around the clock to make more money so that you can spend more money is supposed to be the “cool” thing to do these days.

Anyone achieving less than the standard expectation is slapped with a label of mediocrity. But is being mediocre really a bad thing? Isn’t greatness a choice? Why is the opposite of that looked down upon then?

When everyone else seems to be moving at the speed of light, why am I still stuck? Or could it be that everyone else is trying their best to drag themselves too and what seems to be a great speed is just an illusion? Just like the trees that speed crazily past us while we’re seated inside the train, unmoved from our seat.

Should I make a phone call? Nope; bad idea. What if they don’t answer? Or worse, what if they think that my concern is not even a legit concern in the first place? I’m not making any phone calls! There’s nothing worse than having your feelings invalidated by those whom you count on. I know that feeling. When was the last time that happened?

Was it when you said that my questions weren’t important for you and that you didn’t owe me any answers?

Nevermind. No calling.

It’s getting colder. I’m starting to feel cold on the inside now. What is this nonsense? Which 24-year old gets stuck in a rut so bad that that place starts to feel strangely comfortable; like a home?

My life is a joke!

Since when did comfort zones start feeling cold? Weren’t they supposed to be warm and cosy places?

But I think that I have made some progress, or at least I’d like to believe that I have. I’ve come a long way from digging deeper into the good memories and mourning their death, to focussing on the unpleasant ones and declaring to myself that what has happened to me is for the best.

Optimism has never been my friend, so this is how I cope.

There’s a cuckoo singing outside. She does have a sweet voice. She’s been singing for too long for me to find her song melodious. It’s really starting to get annoying now. She’s definitely singing it for someone specific, probably calling out to someone she held very close to her heart? Oh god, someone please ask her to stop! Whoever that one is, he’s not coming back! Do you hear it, annoying cuckoo? He’s not coming back!

If he wanted to, he would have done so already.

I shut the window to block her cries out completely.

In case she does manage to reunite with whoever it is that she has lost, I don’t want to see it.

I don’t want to sink another two feet deeper into my rut knowing that it’s just me who is always going to have to live with the loss.

I think I should just wear the damn jacket. The cold doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon, so I may as well make my peace with it.

Postcards from McLeodganj


Life has always surprised me with nuclear bombs when I was praying for some pretty fireworks.

I have always thought of myself as a “mountain-person” due to my tendency of getting bored of the beaches too soon and too easily. Ever since I discovered McLeodganj through Instagram, I have waited impatiently to gather the best company that I could and head over to the land that’s fondly called the ‘Little Lhasa of India’.  

Now McLeodganj is a good 10 hours away from Delhi if you’re taking the road. Add to it another 2 hours in the flight and 2 hours of waiting at the airport.

Now imagine doing all this on the second day of your period.

That’s right – just the day before my flight, aunt flo decided to pay a visit.

Last-minute disappointments in my life are just as regular as corporate slaves stabbing their keyboards in a Starbucks outlet.

Periods make me emotional with my hormones doing their own crazy dance and I didn’t want to be sullen and peevish while I was finally taking the trip that I’d been looking forward to for years now. After accepting the fact that there was nothing I could do about the situation, I prepped myself mentally and packed a good 30% of my luggage case with sanitary napkins.

Thankfully, the bus ride was extremely comfortable and things stayed in place without making me “go red” in shame (or horror).

I caught my first glimpse of the mountains at around 6:30 AM when a sharp turn of our bus woke me up while we were a couple minutes away from our destination. The snow-clad Himalayas seemed to have worn a golden hat with the sun slowly making is way above them.

Before this moment, I hadn’t been able to imagine what people exactly meant when they described an experience as ‘breathtaking’.

The sheer calm and simplicity of the place put me at ease in such a way that not even a single cramp could bother me. I, along with 3 other friends of mine, did quite a long but an easy trek all the way up to the Bhagsunag Waterfall, and then another one in Dainkund, Dalhousie two days later.

Stomach cramps after all that trekking? Nope. Much to my surprise, it was, in fact, a happy period!

When I was preparing for this trip, I did quite a lot of reading about the place’s culture and history. I’m geeky like that. I was looking forward to seeing monks strolling casually on the streets, visit beautiful monasteries, walk along the streets lined by the Deodar trees on both sides and hog on all the local delicacies that the place had to offer. Oh, and I wanted to collect pinecones, lots of them!


I did all of that and much more.

I’ve always found it difficult to reach out to people; even my own friends. I’m always afraid of “bothering others” with my “concerns”. What if people don’t get what I’m trying to say? Or worse, what if people think that my worries are pointless?

The thought of getting my fears and doubts invalidated by those I count on makes me feel like I’ve been kicked hard in my gut.

Hence, I always refrain from initiating conversations; the burden of keeping the conversation alive feels a bit too heavy to me.

Vicky, our cab driver who was introduced to us by our Airbnb host, turned out to be an easy-going and a very pleasant chap. I thought it would be rude to sit in the passenger’s seat with my earphones plugged in, so I sat there hoping that he doesn’t try to force any conversations.

He would occasionally point at a temple or an important building to tell us about its significance as briefly as he could. I liked how perfect the length of our conversations was.

It was as if we had some sort of a mutual agreement between us to give each other company without getting into each other’s space.

On our way back, we had to get down at a café which was a good 30-minute walk away from our Airbnb. The plan was to end our cab ride and get down at the café, and eventually walk our way back to our accommodation. Vicky being the sweet soul that he was told us that he had no trouble waiting for us.

Aap log akele andhere mein chalkar jaane se behtar hai ki mein ruk jaaun. Aadhe ghante ke liye toh ruk hi sakta hun” (I’d rather wait for you to come back than let you girls walk back in the dark. I can surely wait for half an hour.)

Was it normal for cab drivers to be this concerned?

My first thought was to find out what his motive for being so considerate was, but he had none.

When we booked another cab ride on our own, our Airbnb host went out of her way to ensure that the cab driver was a reliable person. Whether she did so out of genuine concern or as a precaution to avoid any possible trouble for her own sake is another topic altogether, but she did what she did and it made me realize that it’s possible for people to care for you irrespective of the duration of time that they’ve known you for. I’d been sceptical about her since the beginning, thanks to my never-trust-anyone policy. But unexpectedly, she turned out to be yet another pleasant acquaintance on the trip.

Wow! I’d never thought that it could be so easy to forge connections with strangers.


People here in McLeodganj seemed to trust each other a little too much. A tea-stall owner would leave his stall unattended without the fear of having people leave without paying; cab drivers would gladly let their fellow drivers take passengers instead of cutting each other’s throats for the sake of making as many bucks as they could; people were not worried about pick-pocketers even when the streets were at their busiest in the evenings; monks as young as 5 and 6 years old would walk on the streets without the fear of strangers bothering them.

We also saw a monk who walked in sports shoes, clicked tonnes of pictures using his smart-phone, and posed readily when I requested to click his picture.


What even was this place? Is it even safe to trust each other to this extent? Are people everywhere so easy-going?

People here lived from hand to mouth. They woke up, went out to earn their daily bread, came back to their families and took a good night’s rest before they could wake up and take on another day. People here worked hard, even those whose backs were bent from the burden of age. They would either play a musical instrument in a corner of the street or prepare a small quantity of eatables to sell.

People here refused to beg. No matter how tiny the earnings were, they would make sure that it came in exchange of hard work.


How did a tiny town of barely educated people understand the rules of life better than the “highly educated” metropolitan lot? This goes to show that ethics and education clearly are independent concepts.

This place had slowly started to feel like home. By the end of our trip, I realised that a sense of familiarity would accompany me whenever I walked on the streets.

I would smile at random strangers and they would smile back!

This was strange because hey, I’m not supposed to trust strangers and unfamiliar places right? I learnt that as a child and grew up practising that. Was it possible for connections to grow so deep so quickly?

As clichéd as it sounds, this trip turned out to be way more than what we’d expected it to be. It taught me how gorgeous people can be if I just let myself see them for what they are without constantly judging them in my head.

It taught me how beautiful our own kind is.

McLeodganj, you definitely have my heart!

‘twas Nice to Meet You!

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

If morning moods could be classified into types, I would fall under the ‘grumpy riser’ group.

Out of all the things that I am, I am not a morning person. I hate the pressure that the world puts on you which demands you to be all fresh, energetic and gay as soon as your eyes catch the morning light.

My morning theme song, undoubtedly, is Bittersweet Symphony.

Goes without saying, this morning melancholy reaches new heights on Mondays. If Monday was a person, it would have been dead by now.

On one particular gloomy Monday morning, my brain decided that it was finally time to get out of slumber mode at 11 AM. 11-effing-AM! No points to guess what happened next –

I went back to sleep for 5 more minutes.

Yes, I can get quite shameless when I want to.

When mummy refused to end her very sarcastic “Why did you sleep at 3 AM last night? You should’ve stayed up for a bit longer na” lecture, I had no option but to get out of bed and hurry through my morning routine.

After a lot of contemplation, I finally decided to take a bath. Usually, that’s the first thing I skip when I’m running late for work. Or just running late for anything in general.

I don’t particularly enjoy taking a bath because unlike most people, I feel extremely sleepy after a shower instead of feeling as fresh as the girls from those sanitary napkin advertisements.

Me taking a bath may have made my mother a little happy, but to me, it just further delayed the rest of my schedule.

Knowing how bad my luck usually is, I was prepared for the worst, and worst is what life gave me. It hadn’t even been 2 minutes since I stepped out of the house when it started raining. 


Do you know what’s the worst part about taking the local bus? It’s watching people who came after you, leave before you. And I had to watch that for a good 20 minutes.

Can this life be any more unfair?

My daily commute to work involves me taking 2 buses. The first bus drops me at the highway, and the second one takes me further from there. If I’m feeling rich enough to spend 10 bucks more than what the bus ticket would cost me, I take one of those shared cabs.

Since I was already running super-late, I took the first option that I got. A kaali-peeli slowed down as soon as it got closer to the bus stop in the hopes of luring passengers to spend those extra 10 bucks. The driver was a middle-aged man with rugged skin which seemed to hide a lot of young hopes in its cracks, he sported a long beard and a white skull cap. There was another guy sitting in the passenger seat. I asked the driver whether he would take me to my destination. He agreed; so I got in.

The other guy got down just 2 minutes later and the driver politely asked me to sit ahead in the passenger seat which was now vacant.

I gave a surprised look and all the lessons I’d learnt by watching Crime Patrol instantly surfaced in my mind. But I’ve always loved passenger seats, mainly because I’ve grown to believe that I can never drive. Hence, sitting next to the driver was the closest I could get to driving. Without thinking much, I got out and took the seat. I continued to get grumpier with each time the driver stopped at the bus stops on the way to get more passengers. This guy was definitely not helping me with my whole running-late-scenario.

After 5 minutes of total silence, the driver decided to strike a conversation.

Now, I’ve always been a people-hater, and moreover, a people-who-force-me-to-talk-hater. I enjoy silence and I love not being disturbed more than anything else. I wasn’t reading or even listening to music while I was in the cab, which is why I thought it would be rude to end the conversation as soon as it started.

“Do you work or are you still studying?”

I work.


“My niece graduated this year and bagged a job at a bank two months ago. She got me a gift for Eid with her own money. I’m so proud of her!”

That’s nice.


“These days, it’s become so difficult even for educated people to find good jobs. These computers are replacing human beings which is why even educated people with degrees are running around in the search of jobs. God knows how tough is it going to be for our grandkids!”

That’s true.


“Do you take the cab regularly?”

Okay. Don’t answer that question. He could possibly be a kidnapper and is trying to wring information from me. But why would he want to kidnap me of all people? Do I look like a rich person when I take a bath?


“Umm…do you take the cab regularly?”

Not regularly; only sometimes.


“Be careful when you get into a cab. People can be dangerous; sometimes even passengers. Drivers, especially, are not always vigilant while driving. I watched a video on WhatsApp of an Ola cab ramming into the divider, the bonnet being torn into two halves.”

I was taken aback; pleasantly surprised actually. I was starting to sense safety in this guy’s words.

That’s horrible! I have always been terrified of driving. My father keeps telling me that I should get a bike, but I keep dismissing the idea. I think I can never feel confident enough to drive.


“Confidence comes with practise and experience. Also, one’s attitude while driving matters a lot. I have been driving this cab for 28 years now, but I still tell myself that I don’t know everything yet. This thought keeps me from getting too comfortable on the road and that’s why I’m always careful. When you get overconfident, you tend to get less cautious.”

That’s absolutely correct.


“Ask your father to buy you a car instead of a bike. That’s a safer option.”


I chuckled and asked him to pull up a few metres away as it was time for me to get down, and so he did. As I was just about to leave, he called out to me and said “I’m sorry I asked you to sit in the passenger seat. I only did so because I didn’t want you to get uncomfortable if any male passenger(s) boarded the cab. Have a nice day!”

With that kind statement and a smile, he left to take care of the rest of his day.

I have always used public transport all my life, I take myself to movies and sit alone in a café every once in a while. But I’m never open to encouraging conversations from strangers. I used to be a very talkative child, that’s what my parents tell me. I don’t know when and why did I stop being an active participant in conversations.

I wonder how many memories I must have stopped from happening only because I was building these high walls around me.

Most people are kind, they’re gorgeous. It’s amazing to see how much our kind is like us.

I didn’t ask the cab driver what his name was, but it did not matter. I had a great Monday and he definitely had a part to play in it.

24 Things I Learned in 24 Years


It’s been a little less than a week since I turned 24 and I thought what better way could there be of celebrating a birthday than sharing all the lessons I’ve learnt! So here’s a list of 24 really important lessons that I have gathered over these years – 

1. Pursue a hobby

That’s what keeps us sane when movies, TV series, alcohol and sleep fail to fix us. Find what you enjoy doing and make time for it at least once in a week. I sometimes make a quick 15-minute doodle before leaving for work. Therefore, “I’m too busy” cannot be an excuse for anyone to be lazy about it. If a potato like me can do it, so can you.


2. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and Maggi are the best inventions ever!

I would binge-watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S. when I would get stuck in a dull phase, when I would want to take a break in between reading intense books, when I would PMS, etc. Likewise, Maggi has been a saviour during trips as well as on days when there was tendli ki sabzi for dinner at home. Mark my words – these two things have the power to help us sail through an apocalypse!


3. Learn to cook basic food

Messing up chai, plain steamed rice, and omelettes are unacceptable once you’ve reached an age where you are capable of making babies.

Each one of us, regardless of our gender, MUST know how to cook basic food; and Maggi is NOT an alternative to food. Also, I do know that Indo-Chinese food is delicious and I love ordering in from time to time, but it’s highly unhealthy and no amount of added vegetables can make up for all that oil.


4. Reread books and rewatch movies

Revisiting stories – be it books or movies, can surprisingly give you a whole new perspective on it. With age, we tend to feel things deeply and differently. Besides, knowing how a particular story is going to end brings a sense of relief that we otherwise don’t get to experience very often in life.


5. Say exactly what you mean

“Oh, but I didn’t mean it that way!”

Don’t fall for this. Also, never resort to this behaviour. Be clear about how you feel, what you think, what your intention is, what you want, and most importantly, what you do not want. Leave no space for ambiguity. Say exactly what’s on your mind and own your words.


6. Introversion is not a disease

Our extroverted peers force us into believing that if you’re not going bar-hopping on a weekend, you’re a loner and that you need to get out. Don’t believe them. Introverts need their space, they are hypersensitive and are extremely choosy about what they want to do and who they want to spend their time with. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Do not let anybody tell you that you have a problem.


7. Travel with a purpose

Too many of us, myself included, are planning trips to see new places and new cultures, but are walking away without gaining much. You went backpacking to Europe, stayed in a hostel for a few weeks, so what? How did you grow by visiting this new place? What did you learn? As clichéd as this is, at the end of a trip, I ask myself – did I travel or did I take a vacation?


8. Wait for a month before making a big purchase

Retail therapy is a sad excuse for experiencing instant gratification. Over time, I’ve cultivated a habit of letting an entire month go by between the time I “think” I want a particular item, and actually buying it. Only if I feel strongly about owning that item by the end of the month do I go ahead and place the order.


9. Karma is a legit concept

We all know how it works. It’s one teacher that practices fairness the way it should be practised – man or woman, rich or poor, smart or dumb; it spares no one. You get what you deserve and that’s just how it should be.


10. Life will suck

Biryani chaahe kitni bhi badhiya ho, ek ilaichi zaroor hogi jo muh ka pura swaad bighaad degi!

The impermanence of good and bad times is inevitable. So, it doesn’t make sense to crib about your problems when they arrive. Everyone is dealing with their own struggles; acknowledge this fact, respect it, and try not to be an asshole while everyone is trying their best to find their bit of happiness.


11. It’s ok to not be ok

Positivity is overrated. We’ve been tricked into believing that we need to be happy all the time; that we need to find the good in every situation. I’m not saying that that’s not right, but sometimes, you just need to see the situation for what it is, feel what it makes you feel and then get over it. It’s okay to feel broken and as if you’re going to puke if you don’t scream. It’s okay to ditch your friends if staying in makes you feel better, it’s okay to call in sick and cry your heart out in your bed. 


12. Others’ problems must not make you feel better

You can’t assess someone’s happiness based on how happy or sad other people in this world are. So, don’t try to make your friend feel good by making them see other people’s miseries. That’s plain sadistic and it’s not going to make anyone feel better because every person is dealing with a different problem.


13. No family is perfect

Families are twisted because we, as humans, are like that. Every family has one person who brings disappointment, one person who brings shame, one secret that must not be revealed and one issue that’s always swept under the rug instead of tackling it head-on. No matter how happy it may look from the outside, every family is internally screwed up in its own way. Embrace your family’s flaws.


14. Our minds are capable of reconditioning

We often tend to start identifying ourselves and get influenced by the religion that we were born in, the family values and practices that we’ve seen our elders follow, the ideologies that our community has stuck to and even the political views that our family members hold. It’s not right to grow up and say “…but I have always been taught to believe this”. 

We can always unlearn and relearn things.

Be open to that.


15. Learn to listen

There’s a difference between ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’; the latter is a fairly difficult task. To listen is to be attentive, to let the other person know that you are interested in what they’re saying, that you respect them enough to let them finish before you respond and that you recognize the other person’s right to be heard. Also, there’s a lot one can learn just by paying attention to what others are talking about.


16. Learn to see

Our current society has trended towards overstimulation and it leaves little time for us to be alone with our thoughts. Every idle moment is overstuffed with social media. Put your phone down and look around. Watch people. I, personally, love watching kids in public places because when they’re not crying, puking or pooping, they are being mesmerized watching the aircrafts fly, speeding cars, elevators go up and down, etc. It’s easy to take the miracles around us for granted. We should be taking out small moments to realize how incredible the world is around us.


17. There will always be haters

No matter how patient and accommodating you are, there will always be someone who’ll tell you that you are not enough. Jealousy is a human emotion and when it exceeds the safety mark, it gets the best of us. Make peace with those who always pick your faults; if nothing else, they’re at least teaching you what you shouldn’t be doing.


18. If it feels wrong, then there is something wrong

Intuition is real. Vibes are real. Energy doesn’t lie. So, tune in and listen. If you get a bad feeling about a particular person, be careful and draw your boundaries. If you feel your friend doesn’t seem okay even when they’re wearing a smile on their face, go and talk to them.


19. Befriend people who are older than you

To have friends who are older than you is a blessing. There’s always something that you can learn from them – be it about making career choices, dealing with difficult colleagues, making investments, discovering old music, dealing with problems, making the best cocktails, etc., they will always know something more than you do.


20. You lose nothing by helping others

If there’s something you can do that will solve someone else’s problem, then go ahead and do that. It won’t take away anything from you.

All your education and experience is insignificant if it can’t help alleviate someone else’s predicament.

I believe that’s the exact reason why the human race is running its course – there’s so much knowledge that remains to be passed on. We must help each other out and make our journeys a bit easier.


21. Actions aren’t everything

It’s often believed that one must watch what one does to understand how much they love you and care about you. But sometimes, you need to verbalise your emotions and intentions. You need to tell your friend – “You’re a piece of shit, but I really appreciate your presence in my life”. Hearing beautiful things can really have a long-lasting impact on people.


22. Trust the wait

We’re all always in a hurry – we want our answers right now, we want people to reply to our texts ASAP – we want to have it all at once. But, waiting is beautiful. It delays the feeling of gratification but it also makes you realize the importance of what it is that you’re waiting for. Not knowing the outcome of a particular decision is okay.

When nothing is certain, anything is possible.

So learn to wait.


23. Life is happening right now

We often dwell on our past – the mistakes we made, the things we should or shouldn’t have said, the people we trusted, etc. If not that, then we live in a constant worry about our future, wondering if and when will our life present itself in its greatest form to us. What we tend to forget is that life is happening right now, right now while you’re reading this. Be mindful of the present moment. Smile at the things that are going really well and also at those that you can do nothing about. Show life who’s the boss!


24. The best is yet to come

Life is short; it can end at any moment. But that’s just one possibility, right? What if it’s long? What if we live to see our great-grandkids? And aliens when they descend on Earth? Okay, I may have taken it a little too far. But the bottom-line is, as long as we’re alive, we must hope. We must hope that our problems will come to an end and that we will be okay. We must hope that the best is yet to come; and that it will.


I would like to end this by saying that everything that’s mentioned above is purely my understanding of life and it’s way of working. I DO NOT wish to enforce my views on anyone. These are just a bunch of things that I picked up on my way over the last 24 years and I hope that you are able to let go of parts that you don’t concur with.

Tram-ed in Amsterdam!



On the night before my flight, the nerves kicked in hard enough for me to question my decision. The conference was over and I was supposed to head to Amsterdam with Pearl on the next morning.

Was I ready to take this trip without having my parents around? I am not particularly the kind of person who scares easy; or so I told myself until this trip.

Who plans a trip to Europe one day before the flight is scheduled to leave?

Knowing that I at least have a friend who’ll be my company for the next 3 days helped a lot.

I woke up early on the big day, made sure I’d not left anything behind in the hotel room, had the last breakfast with my office folks, and got into the cab which would take us to the Frankfurt airport. We were to take a train ride to Amsterdam because we were running on a tight budget due to the trip being a total last moment plan. I should also mention that we had to choose the option of changing 5 trains along the course of a 6-hour long journey. Although the option of taking a direct 3-hour long train journey was available, we decided against it because of a bunch of reasons.

Talk about cost saving!

But then travelling by the Eurail is an experience in itself, and I grabbed it option with both my hands.

I still had three hours until we took our first train and the thoughts in my head were not being my friend. Unlike a lot of people I know, I hadn’t travelled much as a kid with my family. My folks are not much into exploring new places and all that jazz. So this trip was overwhelming for me. I was getting to a point where I started calculating how much a last-minute flight back to Bombay would cost me.

Shuddering at the frightening cost, I decided to stop thinking. 

I tend to overthink a lot, and honestly, all that overthinking hasn’t really turned me into the best decision-maker yet. So why bother, I thought to myself.

On reaching the airport, we discovered that we were at the wrong place.

Our first train was supposed to leave from Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof and due to some confusion, we reached the Frankfurt Airport instead. That was, luckily, only a 15-minute train ride away. We took around 30 minutes or so to figure how to buy a train ticket before we finally got onto the train.

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I’ve always been one of those people who stay composed when uncertainty strikes. But being lost at a crazy, crowded airport in an unknown country made me lose my control and panic.

We finally managed to reach Frankfurt (Main) Hbf. But that was still not the beginning of our train-ride-saga.

We’ve checked the indicator, our train is in our sight, we’re getting our tickets out of our bags, and we realize we don’t have our train tickets with us.


So here’s what happened – we printed a copy of the document we got on email on booking our tickets, which, unfortunately, was not the actual ticket; it was just a confirmation. The attachment that came along with that email was the real deal. Now, the email clearly mentioned that carrying a hard copy of the ticket was mandatory. Both Pearl and I freaked out. For some reason, Pearl thought that she should go around and look around the station for a place from where we could get a printout.

I really couldn’t understand why would she think of doing that. Did she assume that Frankfurt (Main) Hbf was like Andheri station with print and photocopy centres lining the streets around it?

But I stopped myself from stopping her because she was genuinely trying while I had almost given up in my head. After exploring the very few options that we had, we did not manage to find any solution.

I was considering faking an illness if in case the TC came asking for our ticket copy; because pulling an Aishwarya-Ajay Devgan from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam would be too weird for two girls, nahi?

An old and a very polite German couple helped us with some basic knowledge about travelling by Eurail. The kind man told us that they had been to India a few years ago and that he’d learnt the only single Hindi sentence he knows in Agra, which he shared with me and Pearl as a piece of advice.

The train journey was one hell of a ride! We had to run from one platform to the other, at times in as short as a 3-minute period, with one bag on our shoulders, and one dragging along behind us. 

I have always had trouble asking for help. I believe that I can do whatever it is that I need to do if I manage to give it an extra try after I have reached my breaking point. So, I refused to ask for help when I was carrying a suitcase that weighed 22 kilos up along the stairs to get onto the platform.

It so turned out that people there, and these were strangers mind you, were always willing to help even if I didn’t ask for it.

Just like everyone else, I too was conditioned to believe that white people, by default, feel prejudice towards brown-skinned people. Surprisingly, I was amazed to see how nobody really cared about that!

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This very eventful, yet a very tiring train journey, ended with us calling it a night after hogging on a defrosted and reheated pizza, and a (really bad) glass of rum at our hostel. Our very friendly receptionist, Simon – an ex-casino worker from Paris turned into a receptionist in Amsterdam, made sure that we were comfortable in the hostel, gave us a free box of Pringles when no one was looking, and some free advice on sightseeing in Amsterdam; all thanks to Pearl’s socializing skills!


We began our first morning in Amsterdam with a bang. Literally.

The bang came on the left side of my forehead, from a moving tram.

I’m too used to Mumbai locals announcing their arrival at the platform with a deafening noise. As opposed to that, this tram was so silent that I did not realize that it was approaching the platform while I casually stepped RIGHT. ON. THE. TRACK.

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The last thing I remember before getting hit on my head and falling back on the platform was Pearl’s cry – ‘NEHAAAAA’, which sounded very similar to how Tulsi Virani screamed ‘MIHIIIIIRRRRR’ on seeing his dead body (during his first death).

The tram driver yelled at me for not being attentive while the thud was still ringing loud and clear in my ears, recovering from the trauma, attempting to stand up, and trying really hard to not laugh. He said he was going to take me to the hospital and only agreed to let me go when I pleaded in front of him to leave me alone.

I don’t think I could’ve given Pearl a better start to the trip!

The rest of the trip was a splendid example of teamwork.

I went to the Heineken brewery with Pearl because she really wanted to see that place.

Pearl accompanied me to the Van Gogh museum, even though she had no clue about who this person was, only because I was dying to go there. It’s a different story that Pearl coolly waited in the lobby and made her credit card payments while I got too emotional and sobbed silently after I’d gone through Van Gogh’s entire life put on display there.

I agreed to walk inside one of those “coffee shops” to ask for “stuff” (which we eventually didn’t try because we didn’t know how to ask for it) only because Pearl said, “Chal, let’s do this!”.

And Pearl agreed to have a Butter Chicken meal in Amsterdam (#sorrynotsorry) only because I was craving for Indian food after an entire week of eating bland European steaks. Yes, I’m very Indian that way!

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This trip was crazy – that’s the long and short of it.

I had a very petite girl help me with carrying my bag up along the stairs.

I had an old gentleman help me get my humongous bag inside the train after watching me struggle when the train was just about to leave.

I received genuine smiles from strangers at the metro and railway stations.

We got picked to be photographed from a crowd of at least a 100 people waiting in the queue right outside the Heineken brewery.

We shared our room with 3 unknown people and got along well enough to click a selfie and appreciate the moment.

The Westerners are very helpful and considerate, unlike what we’re taught to believe by the “cultured” gurus and demigods in India.

We both managed to successfully complete this trip without letting any of those mishaps ruin our moods. No matter how hungry we got, we would gladly survive on hot dogs and burgers without complaining, because…well…budget!

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Oh, did I mention that I also managed to faint on our flight back home? And that the air hostess thought that I was sleeping while I was in fact, unconscious the whole time? 

Yep. I did manage to end the trip with a bang as well.

This trip was a learning experience in so many ways! We learnt how to ask for help, how to navigate in an unknown land, how to look after your travel companion and make adjustments for them.


But the lesson that has stayed with me was the one that that old German gentleman had shared with us on the train –

Shaadi mat karna

Word! Haha.

…and we’re ready for the take-off!


8 out of every 10 middle-class people dream of taking at least one trip to Europe in their life either because:

  1. They are DDLJ fans, or
  2. That’s one of the three foreign places they know of (the other two being US and Canada, of course)

I’ve never watched DDLJ and neither am I geographically challenged that way, but as my luck would have it, a Europe trip happened to me in 2017.

It’d only been a few minutes since the flight took off and I was trying a little too hard to exhale with my nose and mouth closed, in my attempts to relieve my blocked ears. An entire week was lying ahead of me before I could sleep in my own bed and enjoy a shameless number of servings of ghar ka khaana (home-cooked food). I was already feeling homesick when I suddenly heard the clinking of steel tiffins followed by the smell of thepla!

It doesn’t matter whether we’re sitting inside a tin box that has wings, flying hundreds of feet above ground-level, and are heading ~7000 km away from India; it’s absolutely normal for any middle-class Indian to carry their own dabba (tiffin) wherever they go, all right?

Since this was a work trip, I never really got any time to absorb the fact that I was being sent to Germany for a conference. There was no time to rave about it in front of my friends amidst the neverending number of tasks that needed to be taken care of before I left. Fortunately enough, I had an enthusiastic (then) colleague (and now a close friend), Pearl, to get me to extend this trip by a few days after the conference was over, and proceed to explore Amsterdam. I think I agreed to her plan without thinking even for a second, and this happened to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

The night before the big day was a mess.

I think I’m a good packer in a way that I never forget to carry any of my essentials. The only drawback is that I’m one of the heaviest packers in the history of packers!

I have a different kind of FOMO – the fear of missing out on carrying things that others may need and I may not be able to help them with when that happens.

So I packed, and repacked, and then packed some more items.

I’m not very used to having my parents help me out with stuff that I can manage by myself. I am quite self-reliant that way, or at least, I’d like to think that I am. So, it was a bit awkward as well as cute when my family decided to drop me off at the airport. Their faces looked more excited than mine did.

I knew that if they stayed for too long, I’d start feeling homesick even before I left. So I decided that I’d rather miss them in the airport lobby after they’re gone than miss them in their presence. Even though I had a good amount of extra time, I waved a goodbye and entered the airport a little too early.

A lot of our flight experience begins right from the time we enter the airport. Talk to one rude check-in/immigration exec, and your experience is already ruined by half.

Queues, for example, are a great place to judge character, I believe.

You find all kinds of people here – the lazy ones who move at the speed of a snail; the over-enthusiastic ones who want to document their time standing in a security check-in queue by clicking a thousand selfies; and the anxious ones who think they have to hurry even though boarding is still 3 hours away.

Then there’s this special kind which comprises of aunties with razor-sharp elbows who believe that it’s absolutely fine to enter a queue from wherever they please or lie to the security exec saying that their flight is about to take off. All this only so that they get done with the formalities before everyone else does.

After yet another failed attempt at trying to wring a smile from a security exec who scans people’s butts in a curtained area for a living, and trying to not to feel drowsy looking at all the sleepy faces in the waiting area, I finally decided to give up on trying to make this journey seem pleasant.

Since this was going to be my first plane ride, my mind was juggling between excitement, nervousness, fear and prayers.

Excitement, because I had not set any expectations about how I wanted this trip to unfold.

Nervousness, because what if I left an important item back at home that I may not be able to do without in a foreign country?

Fear, because nobody wants a screaming kid in a 3-meter radius around their seat. And given how much I “love” kids, there’s a good chance that there will be an irritated and chatty a.k.a., a monster of a toddler right behind my seat!

And lastly, prayers, because what if the plane crashes and the last thought I had before dying was ‘where does all the poop collected in aircraft toilets go?’

Surprisingly, I did fine when the plane took off. I wasn’t terrified of the experience at all. All those years of hanging by the train doors had done their fair bit in preparing me for this.

The one thing that I was looking forward to on this flight journey was the food. I’d heard a lot about how boring and tasteless flight food is. The food served to us was okay-ish and was too cold to be savoured. But for some weird reason, I enjoyed it just like I would enjoy an obesity-inducing cheap Indo-Chinese meal on any normal day.

Call me crazy, but the idea of eating proper food, or nibbling in case of certain airlines, hundreds of feet above the ground, seems revolutionary to me. I mean, did we (read: humans) actually achieve this? Who would’ve thunk!

We had two stopovers – the first one at Doha, and an unexpected second one at Kuwait. Although we were sleep-depeived and tired of sitting in the same position for all that time, all those empty hours spent waiting at the Doha airport in the wee hours of the night were suddenly filled with a lot of conversations. This was the first time I was sharing a huge chunk of my thoughts locked away in the ‘Personal’ folder of my brain, with a person I’d barely interacted with at work; and I didn’t regret it.

Our first stopover confirmed that the upcoming week was going to be a good one. Even if it wasn’t, we were certain that we would manage it somehow.

6 Morning Habits of Moderately Successful People


Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash


Every morning, we all get the same old –

“Wake up! It’s 9 AM, and you’re still sleeping like a log! When I was your age, I would…”.

Or if you’re a girl, you most likely get –

“Wake up! It’s 9 AM, and you’re still sleeping like a log! When we get you married, your in-laws are going to laugh at me and say that your mother hasn’t taught you well”.

Our morning routine is said to be a stepping stone to the overall success we can possibly achieve throughout the day. And, our mothers just want to ensure that all the unexplainable agony that they’ve gone through to birth sloth-like humans like ourselves does not go to waste by us wasting 50% of our time away in a state of slumber.

Now we can’t turn ourselves into perfectly disciplined individuals overnight, but we can definitely do what’s within our capacity to be (at least) moderately successful. So here are 6 morning habits of people like you and me, that make us what we are (read: hopeless)


Every morning essentially begins on the preceding night. Have copious amounts of alcohol on that night in the hope of washing away your boredom and frustration. This ensures that there’s no way that you’re going to be able to wake up in time to reach work on time, on the next morning.



Even though you know that you probably have hideous amounts of alcohol flowing in your veins, you’re still sane enough to realize that a single alarm is not going to be enough to convince you that it’s time to wake up. Hence, set multiple alarms, I’d suggest 5 (at least), that ring at equal intervals of time. This will allow you the freedom as well as the satisfaction to snooze away your grogginess.



Laughing is known to increase infection-fighting antibodies, thereby increasing our immunity and resistance to diseases. It also releases endorphins A.K.A. the feel-good hormones which make you feel happy from within.

So, laugh at yourself, your job, your salary, your bank balance, your receding hairline, your increasing waistline, and the general lack of everything in your life. Let’s see if those endorphins can make you happy after all that.



Asking questions is always productive. It can either give you the answers that you have been struggling to find, or it can leave you utterly confused and disoriented. The two most important questions that can truly change your outlook towards life are:

  1. What am I grateful for today?
  2. What am I looking forward to today?

If the answer to both these questions is “nothing”, then congratulations, my friend – you know you’re adulting!



You’ve snoozed the alarm 5 times before waking up, you’ve had a good laugh at how hopeless your life is, and you’ve looked within to gain some life-changing insight and perspective. While doing all that, your sleep-deprived brain has forgotten to remind you that unlike the unemployed lot, you have a job and you can’t afford to lose that at the cost of your sleep. So, get the hell out of your bed and head to work!



To err is human, and to forgive…is also human, actually. It’s okay if you are pathetically late to work today. Promise yourself that starting today, you will sleep on time, wake up on time the next day, save the question-answer session for the weekends, not make tea/coffee the first thing that enters your digestive tract, hit the gym for at least an hour, get to work on time and make your mother believe that there’s still some hope. We can always be good tomorrow, right?


P.S.: Adopt this routine at your own risk.

P.P.S.: Don’t tell your mom that I taught you all this (please!).

“Save it for The Weekend!”


The universe is broadly divided into 3 types of people:

  1. Those who work from Monday to Friday
  2. Those who work from Monday to Saturday
  3. Those who are paying for the sins committed in their past lives by getting their weekly off(s) on weekdays

No matter which one of these types one belongs to, any added holiday closer to the weekend reaffirms our faith in the secret power of wishful thinking. Now since India is such a salad bowl of cultures and religions, there’s never a scarcity of festivals A.K.A., public holidays. For everyone who belongs to the bored working class category, every festival means just one thing – a holiday!

We don’t care if Ram and Sita returned home after 14 long years of vanvaas and an adventurous Sri Lanka tour, we don’t care if Mahishasura was killed by Kali after a 9-day long gory duel, we really don’t give two hoots about our country celebrating its 70th year of being free from the British rule – just give us the damn holiday already!

Our generation is so hopeless that no matter how well-paying or interesting our jobs are, we will still pine for the days when we are away from our work desks.

“I’m planning to start reading this book over the weekend.”

“I think I’ll wake up a little early and go for a run on the weekend.”

“Oh, this one’s going to be a long weekend right? I think I’ll finally take my bicycle out for a ride.”

We know very well that activities such as reading a book, running and cycling are not banned on weekdays and that it’s absolutely possible to easily squeeze these into our daily routine. But we being the cranky, cribbing and lethargic souls that we are, we will always find an excuse to slyly slide things over to the weekend. 

Our generation knows nothing about celebrating the monotony of our routine; we only live for the weekends.

As a kid, I learnt quite a lot about the significance of a majority of Indian festivals through my school teachers. A lot of our post-holiday essays would revolve around learning about and writing the story that marked the importance of a certain festival for which we were getting an extra leave.

Why did we forget these stories?

Why were we so ecstatic about celebrating 1000 weeks of DDLJ (which by the way, I find to be ultra-long-maxi-level shitty) and were we not so bothered about celebrating 121 years of our victory at the Battle of Saragarhi? (Please go and read about this battle if you’re hearing about it for the first time!)

All our long weekends in the summer are reserved for trips to the hill stations, those in the monsoons are reserved for treks, and the ones in the winters are reserved for Goa. If nothing else works, there’s always the option of driving to Lonavala!

The travel industry is booming left, right, and centre – thanks to the ever-increasing number of “nomads” who always claim to bitten by the (hashtag) travel bug and smitten by (hashtag) wanderlust. This lot is completely diluting the essence of festive holidays. E-magazines have started fueling this show by publishing a list of all the long weekends panning across the year well in advance, with pre-planned mini-itineraries.

We may not know which day of the week will our birthday be falling on in 2018 but we know the order and the count of all the long weekends in 2018 by heart! (there are 16 this year, by the way.)

I may be sounding like a grandma right now but I really do think that we need to look beyond this self-created hullabaloo (and eventual disappointment) around holidays, and maybe spend at least a third of our time and energy on getting to know about the reason that made a certain day a public holiday.

It’s fun to get bhaang-ed at Holi parties and dance your heart out to ‘Do me a favour let’s play Holaaay‘ (God save us from the calamity that Anu Malik’s voice is!) with all that dirty colour on the face, which by the way, still makes us look at least three times prettier than how we look after getting off the Virar local on a weekday.

It’s also nice to get out of the city to unwind and get a dose of nature, God knows we all need it AND deserve it after all those long hours of commuting to work and back, and chasing deadlines like a cat chases a mouse.

I do understand that planning trips with just a handful of leaves available for the whole year is not an easy business, so weekends are our only hope. I also get that not all of us want to know or care about knowing what our festivals stand for. But I also think that it’s essential for us to be aware of and also respect the importance of noteworthy events from the past that still stand tall and strong in the history. Maybe Ram, Sita, Kali, Narasimha, and the likes were fictional characters, so I guess it’s okay for one to not believe in their stories. But why should that stop us from reading the story anyway and simply carry the essence of it with us? All these stories teach us lessons in some way or the other, after all.

I sometimes worry about the generations that will follow ours – how shallow and muddled is their recollection of our cultural and historic events going to be?

Will they ever know the joy of bathing before sunrise on the first day of Diwali?

Will they ever express gratitude and gather with their beloved to break bread on Thanksgiving? And will they do that because they genuinely understand the importance of doing this or only because Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Joey and Chandler did so in F.R.I.E.N.D.S.? (For that matter, will they even watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S.?)

Will they ever stand in the never-ending queues for the bhog at the temples?

I really hope that the answer to all these questions is a good and a strong ‘yes’.