On your mark, get set, NOT

Airport Diaries – Part 2 

My airport diary is much like the time loop in the movie, Ground Hog’s Day. The tragic story repeats itself every time – late departures, cancelled flights and the worst – flights that turn around mid-way after fooling me with initial euphoria of having beaten the curse. As I (yet again) wait at a transit airport after being deplaned in Los Angeles while en route to Cabo,  I can’t help but wonder whether this is God’s grand scheme to force me on a path to self-improvement. Bill Murray’s time loop only breaks after he closely examines his life and makes a better man of himself. So I’m going to consider this a showing of the mirror, and start my own path to actualization –  instead of venting and complaining to my husband (who at this point believes my venting is a larger disaster in his life than a faulty plane and delayed vacation), I’m going to react in a few different ways than I usually do to airport disasters:

1) Write instead of vent: one could argue that this is another way to vent to an even larger audience than my husband, who in all fairness did sign up for a lifetime of this. But one will not argue that.  I’m just positively channeling my energy towards my new year resolution for 2015 – writing more.  T -2 months before we hit 2016, hallelujah!

2)  Start my vacation right here, right now: vacations are a state of mind. And from what I hear, Cabo, especially is. So I will kickstart that holiday state of mind, with what usually gets me there – a chilled glass of beer. Make that a mug. With the first sip, I wonder, does it matter that instead of blue water and white sand, I’m facing a fleet of planes none of which are assigned to me yet? Nope. What matters is that the splash of yellow this wheat ale brings to my life right now feels as vibrant as the sunset I’m missing in Cabo.  Net-net, we’re good.

3) Not think about the time-suck this has been: vacation time is precious and I’ve spent a full day on traveling to a place 3 hours away.  But I’m not thinking about that. I’m think about the silver lining. Vacations are departures from daily life and everyone gets the upside to this. But the downside to a vacation  is that you eventually return to reality (more widely experienced as vacation hangover). The spikes from vacation highs and lows from post-vacation reality checks fundamentally go against what “gurus” propound to be healthy for a balanced state of mind. Meditation enthusiasts believe that lesser the emotional spikes, even if it’s happy spikes, the steadier the mind is and straighter the line of balance. It’s another thing that this analogy always reminds me of a peculiar straight line accompanied by a peculiar sound on a monitor in a distinct place and state neither of us aspire to reach anytime soon…

So in a way, vacation tragedies are the most meditative way to unwind, yet stay attuned to the ultimate truth that life is a never-ending slow-mo tragedy that unfolds across the number of years you are strong enough to withstand…and for me a lot of that unfolds at airports. But if you fight the good fight to find humor in tragedies, then it accounts for more long-term happiness, the guru way.

On that note, I sign out. Having successfully preoccupied myself for a few hours as my flight gets ready to take off…maybe, maybe not. But if not, then worry not. Adios!


My New Year Fuck-its

There’s a new framework in town for the notorious new-year resolutions – the new year fuck-its.

Just stumbled upon an inspired blogpost that inverses the concept of resolutions from serious things that I will do to serious things I won’t do. Doesn’t that instantly ease the pressure off? Instead of abandoning resolutions altogether, why not explore a more positive concept (namely, fuck-it) and make it work for you. Always enthusiastic about such psychological trials, I’ve decided to give it a shot. So here goes:

My New Year Fuck-its:

1) I will not care about doing everything right, as long as I can do some things right. I heard of this phenomenon all my life; yet fell straight into the trap of classic adult-woman expecting to be awesome at everything – keeping that body, excelling at work and homemaking, etcetera. 2013 from that perspective had me looking like the duck that keeps bobbing up and down to keep afloat. And I say, having it all is not all that it’s quacked up to be. I’ve now decided women who say they have it all are lying. What they do have is the ability to choose and make peace with their choices. So I choose to fuck having it all

2) F* long-term goals: Goals are meant to be realistic and long-term is not realistic. So I’ve decided to set short-term goals, like weekly. If they’re visible, they’re probably doable. So if I can exercise for one week and reset the goal after that for another week or defer it for a week because of other commitments and so on, I will have met my one New Year fuck-it.

3) I will not always be mature: maturity by definition means full development. Is everything ever fully developed? In 2014, I will not waste my energy in pretending to be mature in emotions or actions, when it isn’t possible. Maturity is overrated, boring…and ineffective. General consensus is that we were happier as kids and there was nothing mature about us then. So this year I plan to use all that energy that goes into the trial and fail exercise of maturity into something more meaningful – like beating friends at Taboo and being competitive about it (by embracing immaturity, I embrace that winning IS the most important part of playing :P)

4) F* Moping: I can safely say that after 29 years of being a moper (albeit, a silent one), I have learnt that it leads to nothing. Moping about having too much to do, about annoying patterns of life or not holidaying enough, is a colossal waste of physical and mental energy. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not an outlet and only lends fuel to the cyclical nature of moping.

5) I won’t necessarily do things perfectly. F* perfection. It only makes you procrastinate. I’ve waited long enough for the perfect comeback post for blogging (and clearly this isn’t it) or perfect idea for a new venture. But as they say, perfection is the child of time…and time is the child of wind (okay no one says that)…there’s no point in chasing it. So, I choose that 2014 be imperfect, yet awesome.

Cheers to that! Happy New Year y’all 😀

(p.s: Those interested in the inspiration for this post, please read: https://medium.com/life-tips/494224e0f983)

New Endings…before new beginnings

That’s always been the paradigm for me.  Before I get excited about the new beginning part, I get overwhelmed with the new ending that precedes it.New beginnings signal that life as we know it is going to come to an end.  In tough times, that’s a relief; but often, life as we know it, is life as we love it.

And when change knocks on that door, it comes with a bag of mixed feelings. Nostalgia, fear, nervous excitement…

Nostalgia has always been a tough cookie for me. Safe to say, I have no idea how to deal with this emotion. It hits me the minute I have to make a big change, and I’m left wondering, should I look back at happy memories and feel good… or sad that they’re over?  If I miss the past or about to be past so much, then do I want to go back to it or make time standstill, or make progress and move on?

My personal record has been to move on but not without the memories in tow – souvenirs, mementos, I carry my entire life till-date with me that makes every commute a bitch and settling a bigger bitch. Letting go doesn’t come naturally and logically to me, as a result of which, my past lands up becoming present perfect. It is perfect in the present because that’s how it always is. In hindsight, everything was always possible and perfect. Isn’t it always just in the present that perfection evades us?

Memories overwhelm me, good and bad. A heavy heart always limits that skip in the step towards the new and I’m thinking about all of this suddenly because I find myself doing the same thing all over again. In about 20 days, I’m going to have to change cities again, get back to studying after 3 years of working, and that brings its attendant responsibilities: making new friends, discovering new places, etc.  With that, the apprehension that will today’s present, the one that I love, ever return?

But that’s the thing.  I don’t think it’s meant to return. Life is full of new endings and new beginnings. The only sense I can make of it then, is that nostalgia is a pre-programmed emotion within us to be able to process this continuous change. Because it’s not always possible to just get up and leave without looking back. Because what has passed is the anchor that hosts what will happen.

Over the years, every move and change has helped me grow. I’ve been influenced by every city I’ve lived in. For instance, growing up in Mumbai, above all things, taught me about ambition. The restlessness, money, crowds, melting pots of people and down to earth glamor taught me to aspire for the best, yet stay grounded.

In Boston during my M.A. , I discovered another important thing about myself – that I operate best when I’m in discomfort. It taught me about hard work and survival – from managing a personal budget to compromising the small pleasures for the big goals.

Delhi, and this is highly grudgingly accepted, as I get ready to bid goodbye to it, also taught me something. For those of you who don’t know the city, it is known (notorious) for its flashy loud culture that is founded in blatant acquisition and display of the big brands and names. While Mumbai remains the fashion capital of India, the real fashion haven is in Delhi. Not a fan of the city when I moved here 3 years back, I have now realized that somewhere along the way, in an invisible, yet highly resisted process, I picked up on this flashiness, not as a way of life, but as a way of self-motivation.  Delhi taught me how to reward personal successes with frivolous, yet meaningful acquisitions that can sustain aspirations. Being the place where I got my first job, first promotion, first pay hike, it taught me that nothing succeeds like success and what’s a little success without a little reward like the first LV bag, or Armani sunglasses?

As I gear up to make my next move (third in 6 years), I know I will have to first get past this nostalgia phase again to finally arrive at the nervous excitement for the future. And so this time, I’m prepared for it. But once it does pass and I’ve consolidated what has passed here, the new-ness will bring hope that all new beginnings do, the fear of the unknown that brings spice to life, but most of all, the smug smile over the fact that fear of change and another ending did not stop me from moving on, from making progress…

That life as we know it, became life as we knew it, right when that second passed. You never know what happens next – but at least we have nostalgia to process the constant churn.

To new endings…


Cheers and Clinks! (2007, the Last Night at Boston)

Cheers and Clinks! (2007, the Last Night at Boston)


Life Without Carbs – Big McDull

Food and I

I have been on a low-carb diet for 3 whole days, and I think I’ve lost more of my sense of humor than weight. 

Gaucomole n Carbs

Gaucomole n Carbs

Procrastination takes a new meaning when you put away exercising for so long, leaving it for the last 5 days before the event that you’re trying to lose weight for and then you know no matter how much you exercise, you’re not going to lose anything but your mind, praying and willing for inches to fall off.

I have severely exceeded my feed limit in the past few weeks, and so I am forced to go off the  item I love most in the food universe – carbohydrates.  Yes, I crave bread like normal people would crave chocolate,   or wine, or cheese.  Today, I went to a café (rookie mistake, why would I go to a café when I can’t eat bread?).  I ordered some wine (some would argue I should be off-wine and not carbs, but I dismiss that on the grounds that wine makes me laugh and laughing is exercise). And then I ordered, ahem, a salad. To avoid seeing other people relish the joy of bread-ing, I selected the scantily populated outdoor seating. That, however, was not enough to keep the occasional whiff of fresh oven-baked bread heaven air from hitting me time and again. Three times of that and there – goodbye happiness.  Life without carbs has been dull, but it’s not just that, I also noticed I’m a lot crankier, slower to catch or throw humor, and disoriented. Essentially then, for me, it seems, food is happiness.  



Anyway, last few days have left me in a hungry daze – intelligent hungry daze because I seem to be intellectualizing everything from self-control to happiness to anxiety (you can see the disorientation). The thing is, in the past few weeks, I’ve been content and happy.  Not that I’m not that usually, but there are certain points in life, when an invisible contentment takes over, hitting you randomly in a car ride, or in the shower or while watering plants.  That slow simmering equilibrium that you notice even more after emerging from some form of unrest or uncertainty. This balance is blissful in that I have worked hard for it, earned it and most importantly,  know how to sustain it to some degree. Don’t worry, there has been no catastrophe, I’m a drama queen more than anything else. But past few months have certainly  tested patience, resilience and the efficacy of personal survival toolkit.  I’m reminded of this today because I read a fellow blogger’s post on how everything eventually passes and becomes okay. Sometimes it takes longer than it should, but then nothing and no one is punctual these days, are they?

The Tom-Yum Day

The Tom-Yum Day

This relates to food, because in the past year I’ve discovered, that food is an important part of my glamorized survival toolkit. Whoever coined the term comfort food knew what (s)he was talking about. No matter what the situation, as long as one is blessed with penny in the pockets and the strong personal characteristic of being a foodie, one has at his or her disposable the most consistent companion of chow.  A hot yummy fresh meal, served right off the oven, boasts of warmth and health for me. Sometimes also of new beginnings, hopes and even memories. I’ve thought plenty of old times, good and bad, while eating familiar meals. But every time I ate and remembered, I smiled at the memory that may have otherwise caused some cringing. When I dig into my steaming hot tom yum noodle soup,  I sense the anxiety of impending elephant tasks, slowly slipping away.  Think about it, when we travel to a new place, its food that first connects us to it, taking away the discomfort of an unknown territory. Maybe that’s why the basics of food, clothing, shelter are designated as basics. As we grow up, we aspire, we desire, and  then perspire to achieve all that (apologies for the limerick, couldn’t stifle it), but as adults, we often forget that all our infant selves needed, was a well-fed tummy to retain those gleeful toothy grins.

Friendly Lobster from Maine

Friendly Lobster from Maine

And so, as I temporarily abstain from carbs, and try to wishfully shrink my waist, I’m happy to make note that as I grow older, make more mistakes, harbor more of  reasonable and some unreasonable fears, step into predictable pitfalls and all that natural wonderful stuff, I am lucky enough to rely on my love for food and  as I like to believe, its love for me, to get me by.  Let food and I continue to be on our honeymoon, and let temporary abstinence only make us fonder and stronger.


No Strings Attached – Falling in Lust or Falling in Love?

I recently watched “No Strings Attached” – the Natalie Portman – Ashton Kutcher starrer-romantic comedy.

This is one of the best sappy movies to be released around Valentine’s Day. For one, it’s good on the eyes – at the cost of being controversial, I’m referring more to Natalie Portman than Ashton Kutcher.  The chemistry between Natalie and Ashton was refreshing, explosive and warm – a good change from the forced cutesy stuff seen in most romantic comedies these days.  The story line was kind of standard – A guy and girl try to keep their relationship strictly physical, but it’s not long before they learn that they want something more.

Standard movie with outstanding performances and an engaging script made it a great V-day weekend watch.

Later, I got to thinking about relationships – – you can guess from the absence of its presence on this blog, that’s my favorite topic 🙂

I wonder…can it really ever be no strings attached? Has the biology of men and women wired them in such a way that falling in lust eventually leads to falling in love? {never mind the times we can’t tell one from the other}

The couple in the movie has great fun till one of them mentions the word love, almost immediately bringing the feelings of fear, restlessness and complication into the mix.

Of course these complications are a new-age phenomena. Today, being in love is not just the wonderful happenstance of the two concerned people falling into it.

After Cupid waves his wand, it takes a few more mini-miracles these days for the magic to work – first, the two people must hopefully be in love with each other and not some third hero/heroine of the story. Second, they have to be in love, with each other, at the same time, not one after or before the other in some string of comedy of errors.  Third, not only do they have to be in love, with each other, at the same time, but also be in the know of the existence of their love concurrently. There are movies made on this long gestation period of realization or epiphanies, not all with happy endings. Fourth, and the most popular one these days, they have to be in love, with each other, at the same time, concurrently, AND be “ready” for a relationship.

The readiness can be defined in various ways – it means one has miraculously gotten rid of old hurts, let go of previous loves, dropped any emotional baggage, and is open and willing to risk all of that stuff all over again. Hence, the current popularity of that rid-let go-drop-willing readiness stage. Too many verbs to work with.

This particular mental state has gained so much institutionalized ground that even Facebook has offered a thoughtful status of  “it’s complicated” for its dear members.

So as the movie attests, it is of no concern whether love comes first or lust. It all really boils down to this readiness. Let me not spoil it for those of you yet to watch it. Let’s just say because of the non-readiness of one of the involved parties, it takes a while for the happily ever after to come around.

It seems then that what our previous generations had and we don’t is an open and clear state of mind and sense of self, not plagued with today’s frustrations, stress, and most of all, choices.

And if that is so, then I’m reminded of something that struck me from the finale episode of Sex and the City – a show that  chronicled the success and failures of love for six years. The last line of the show went something like this, “Relationships can be new and exotic, or ones that are old and familiar…those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”

To the fabulous singles, and the fabulous doubles,  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Dolce Far Niente – Langkawi, Malaysia, January 2011

The Beauty of doing Nothing. They say successful people have two qualities: first, to achieve all that they desire, and the second, to actually enjoy it. Needless to say, very few achieve the second.

Rebal Island, Langkawi

Rebak Island, Langkawi

Similarly difficult is the art of doing nothing. When at work, I often find myself wriggling in my chair, mentally pleading for the time to do nothing. But when I do get that time, after say the first 30 minutes or so, I find myself wriggling again…except this time with restlessness, wondering what to do with myself.

But I think Langkawi has cured me of this schizophrenic behavior – from the minute I landed at the airport, the Langkawi-special –nothingness pheromones engulfed me, drawing out an instant beatific silly smile from me. Suddenly, I wasn’t even worried (and I had been worrying about this the entire flight) that I had arrived at a beach destination with no swimwear.  Who cares, I thought.

The Jetty – Personal Yachts are plenty here

And three days hence, that thought has suddenly become applicable to everything – I don’t really care that the humidity is making my hair levitate and is likely to confuse bees any minute. I’m tanned as hell – and that often does not mean good things for the darker Asian skin, but who cares!

Not caring started at the airport with the delightfully non-existent security checks. So refreshing in this day and age.  All of us would just revel in the joy of getting out of an aircraft and breezily walking into the terminal (if you can call it that) no buses, or ground staff to direct you (bother you). People started taking pictures right there, practically on the runway!

Nothingness runs in the geography of Langkawi – an archipelago of 99 islands, and when I think island I think of peace floating around, isolated from the world’s madness.  I am on Rebak Island at a beautiful resort at the foot of a tropical rainforest (details and trip advisory later).

The turquoise sea and the most vibrant green field and rain forest hills I’ve ever seen surround this island. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not like there isn’t much to do here, because there is plenty.  Island hopping, water sports, duty-free shopping, etc., etc. But that’s not what’s got me wired up to write. I’m excited because this place has actually managed to make me sit still in leisure. My itinerary:

  • AM: Breakfast – gotta stack up for the hectic day ahead!
  • Noon: Time for Vitamin D
    • Beach Chair, Sunscreen, Book, Ipod.
    • Sunscreen, Swimming Pool, Pina Colada
    • Pina Colada, Sunscreen, Beach, Mimosa
  • Afternoon: Lunch. Around 3-4 pm, you’ve run out of reinforcements to sustain that hell of a day. One needs energy to spend all that time lounging around with thoughts. Thinking (or in my case, lying still with one thought – is the beach better or the pool?) needs a healthy mind and healthy mind needs some gastronomical delights. And turns out, Langkawi is perfect for that. My tummy has a separate smile running parallel to my face, what with all the delightful curry treats, and seafood. Ofcourse, this is followed by a nap in the sun.
  • PM: This is “recreation time”. I alternate between cycling, fish feeding
    Cycling Me

    Cycling Me

    and long walks. There is also the option of feeding Monitor Lizards, but I think that messes with my comfortably ensconced thoughts of how beautiful the world is (for me lizards lie outside the bounds of nature, that’s just the way it is). This is one of my favorite times of the day. In normal life, evenings are usually when I begin to get restless. I need to be busily engaged with some hobby, or friends or work. But here, I’m relishing the joy of feeding fishes and watching them fight over the limited breadcrumbs (of course, I overfeed them), or how joyous biking is especially amidst a rainforest on one side and blue beach water on the other. And I can walk endlessly here. The resort keeps offering its electric buggies for transportation, but I don’t want them (except when I’m down over 4 glass of wine and I have the opportunity of sitting on the reverse backseat with outstretched legs, going wheeeeee)

  • Night Time: Light dinner. At this point, my tummy has been rendered exhausted with the initial excitement and wants something light for the night. Soupy noodles preceded with a bottle of wine are perfect. Then I retire to my room, with a book and am asleep before I get past the first ten lines.

Please note: No TV, no Telephone, no Internet (except to upload this post), no schedule. But such utter pointless fun!

This is Dolce Far Niente – The beauty of doing nothing or pleasant idleness.

For a person like me, who always wants to do, do, do, this idleness has been a mini personal adventure. I’ve seldom, even on holidays, stopped to just be and derive small joys from not doing much at all.  Pure leisure is something we have perhaps been trained to “deserve” rather than just enjoy. In fact, humans will seldom be able to enjoy leisure for long if we haven’t in some form truly deserved it.

I don’t know whether I’ve deserved it or not, but so far this personal experiment has been successful and has deserved me some more leisure time. I’ve previously discussed the sacred space that Joseph Campbell feels we all must indulge in (Travel-ism or Tourism?). He says something creative happens when you sit still. So I’m waiting. But the wide halo of ease upon myself is probably a start. It’s nothing short of a miracle that my camera has gone dead in the middle of my vacation and I am not panicking.

So till something does happen, I’m indulging my sacred space. For the next couple of days, some more niente for me.

2010 in review

In the age of transparency, voluntary or forced/coerced (read WikiLeaks), I thought I’d share my blog’s health in 2010 too. Resolution 2011 – update the blog with more discipline, give a facelift to the look and content – both coming soon, Amen

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

The busiest day of the year was August 2nd with 67 views. The most popular post that day was Travel-ism or Tourism?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, linkedin.com, cordless-homephone.info, homemaketingbusiness.blogspot.com, and en.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for sensesensibilityandprejudice.wordpress, eat pray love book, eat pray love quotes, sense sensibility prejudice wordpress, and dikshakuhar.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Travel-ism or Tourism? August 2010


About Me and the Title July 2010


Eat Pray Love – if books could be soul mates July 2010


Vitamin T: Your Pill for Transport Back in Time..or into the Future September 2010


New York, New York – The Business of Life August 2010

Taking Flight – Airport Diaries, Entry One


Sleepy, at Hong Kong airport

Post Dated

Ok so I thought I would be blogging about something cheerful, but fate has it that I am waiting endlessly at an airport and there is nothing cheerful about it, apart from free wireless. I’ve been here for the past 3 hours waiting for the aircraft to grace us with its presence. The airline is offering us a pittance of a complimentary “meal” comprising of a squishy Chicken Puff, a desperate looking cookie that’s neither chocolate chip, nor oat, honey or any other known cookie… material.

But there are two upsides to this situation:

1) A little budget airline that does not even offer food in the flight is making an effort to do some service recovery by providing this snack

2) I am technically now “traveling”. It’s a lot more romantic to be writing from an airport, even if it is the New Delhi airport.

I’ve been looking forward to this 4-day respite even though traveling to attend weddings typically deviates from my preferred travel schedule of no schedule. However, before that begins, it seems I’m stuck at the airport for an endless wait – but if you think about it, being stranded at an airport is in fact an important part of travel.

There is nothing pretty about an airport. As Douglas Adams once said, “It’s no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase ‘As pretty as an airport” appear’”. But still, a true traveler can find some beauty in them , if for nothing else then just because of the time spent there when en route. I think there must be something called The Airport Memoirs. Think about it – they’re such tangible representations of departure and arrival, movement and transition. Whenever I arrive at an airport, I feel like something important is going to happen. And so I tend to get all nostalgic and reflective; often not really discovering anything except that I’ve forgotten to pack an important item 😐

I have a habit of arriving  at airports late…for various reasons. I’ve been late because I had to eat my last Pau Bhaji at Mumbai airport, or because I wrongly booked flights and had to board the plane straight from the venue of a friends wedding, resembling a runaway bride myself. My arrivals on the other hand are fairly slow and measured, wondering what to do next. I wonder if this has a deeper meaning into my personality – I take flight haphazardly, impulsively, hurriedly, but take a while to arrive…? That’s probably best unexplored

Over the years, airports have become little worlds in themselves – what with the shopping gallerias and food spreads. But still, my favorite thing to do at an airport remains people watching. I enjoy people watching in general, but the airport is a particularly good environment for this activity. It’s a microcosm of the different personalities in the world…the irritable mothers with noisy kids or happy mothers with well-behaved ones, business travelers, chatty teenagers, grandpas and grandmas intimidated by the escalators. So much energy in one spot – traveling during festivals makes it even more contagious with exuberant conversations, skippy steps, and relaxed napping passengers.

I also enjoy chatting up with complete strangers sometimes. Like the girl from Harvard Law School at the San Francisco airport who introduced me to my first “green beer” as we traveled together on St. Patrick’s day (Irish day, hence the green). She explained that the green beer had no genesis in Ireland and nothing to do with Irish Day, but completely founded by Americans who decided to make the day just another excuse to drink…and so I fell in love with the homegrown world-famous-in-America traditions all over again.

And then there was the time when I met an Indian, who was, for the lack of a better term, everything-phobic. My judgment went wrong on interesting looking strangers – he was interesting in that he did not really enjoy travel, did not like sleeping in hotels, did not enjoy sleeping in a bed that wasn’t his, did not like take-out food, could-not holiday for over a week…you get the picture. But it’s always enlightening to meet different kinds of people and the airport is the perfect place for diversity in one spot.

 Then there are the quiet flights too when you have unadulterated time to yourself like today. A sobering sense of belonging and flight at the same time…it’s probably why so many movies have been made with airport plots – The Terminal, Up In the Air, etc. Also why dramatic sequences tend to be shot at airports. Taking flight is not a phrase for no reason…flying to places is sometimes like that, when the airplane is just a funnel through which you arrive on the other side and cross over…the airport in that sense is preparation of the flight. Sometimes chaotic, maybe reflective, exciting…often acting as nesting places for complicated emotions such as sorrow and pain if you’re separating from someone or leaving important things behind; or as hosts of excitement, thrill and positivity expected from the destination of the next flight…

Options>>Delete Cookies – in real life?

All I’ve read recently are my own B-School essays.  As much because of lack of time, as because of a chain of uninspiring reads. I haven’t had much time to travel or watch movies either, and hence the virtual absence since October. I promise to catch up though; I’m working on the top 100 books of all times and evading my own book purchase decisions for a bit by relying on friends’ recommendations (currently reading – Secret Garden by Frances Burnett).

Delete Cookies

That was a mini-defense for preparing to deviate from the theme of this blog; but I really do want to write about my current reads – my application essays. Maybe I’ll post them here once I’m done and lose my entire readership and people will understand what I meant by my initial warning of having a “monkey mind”. But there is a point to this, I promise.  The process for writing these works of art really did get my ruminative juices flowing.  Yes, business school essays got me ruminating.

Have you ever considered the amount of interesting introspection that goes in these applications? I say introspective because questions on your background, choices, accomplishments, strengths/weaknesses etc really make you think hard…and interesting – because this thinking is not for reminiscing, or reflecting or discovering yourself, but for selling yourself.

 Now that changes perspective entirely – all of a sudden you’re not only introspective, you’re retrospective. If I had chosen Math as a joint major, it would make it easier to discuss why I really want to go with microfinance after I graduate. I can and will contribute to the diversity of Class of 2012 given my rich educational record of study in International Relations, but shouldn’t I have then done IR in say, Denmark instead of plain old Boston, USA?

 You get the picture. In all this retrospection, I realized I was constantly looking for a fresh perspective and angles to sell my experience. Unfortunately, once you go through an incoherent first draft, it’s kind of hard to shake out of the incoherence of it and look at the last draft afresh…similar, I would say, to many things in life.

 It makes you wonder, this retrospection thing – wouldn’t it be great if we could just not want to change a thing in retrospect? What is in retrospect anyway, who created this? I think retrospection makes us futureskeptical – skeptical about the future, given how awfully awry some of our choices have finally landed up being. It mars our thinking going forward because no more are choices about the here and now, but about what was and has been that we affectionately term experience.

 Experience is all very good when it augments our future decisions, but it also has a tendency to become a baggage many times in daily life. Can’t we perhaps delete cookies when we want? For instance, I would definitely delete cookies with my first driving experience, which was comedic and horrifying at the same time. I have since never been able to conquer what has now become a monster task for me. I would like to delete that first experience and start over. This is top of mind recall because in a city like Delhi, you absolutely must know driving to get around.

 Let’s see…I severely need deleting cookies at work too. A consistent feedback on my essays – the tone of the content was all business speak, where is the personal, aspirational touch.  To quote one of my wise friends, “Adding value is an ugly industrial term. Do you want to be a faceless value-adding cog in the wheel!”  Somewhere in the midst of “adding value” at work and “communicating impact fully” in sales meetings and “forging mutually beneficial” partnerships, I lost touch with my personal conversational style. Certainly could do with fresh perspective at work.

 But what would life really be without growth from the past? In love, deleting cookies probably means going back to our first relationship – most of us would probably delete the word relationships from our vocabularies if we had to go through that again! If you don’t feel this way, then, you may not enjoy this post. If you do, then think of this as a microcosm representative of deleting cookies in other spheres of life. 

 The truth is deleting cookies is not so attractive when actually applied to life. Think about it, even B-schools rephrase their questions to get to the bottom of your “biggest mistake”, “why a personal goal could not be met”, “what is the one thing you would want to change from your past choices”.  B-school people are busy people. Busy people don’t waste time on questions that don’t mean anything; it seems to be an institutionalized fact that imperfections create stars.

 And of course, retrospection is almost always accompanied by its half-sister – regret. But there is no end to the “what if” cycle of our minds. As someone rightly said “There is no end to regret. You cannot find the beginning of the chain that brought us from there to here. Should u regret the whole chain, and the air in between, or each link separately as if you could uncouple them? Do you regret the beginning which ended so badly or just the ending itself?”

 And so as I thought about it more, I kind of started buying into the whole spiritual idea of keeping the experiences, but letting go of the negativity. Don’t worry, I’m not a fan of Buddha, or rather Buddha is not a fan of me.  I can think about something upsetting that happened years back and still get all red, angry and dramatic about it. But I like to think I’m getting better at deleting cookies in real life.  Not with computerized clicks but with the awesome can-be done-yourself toolkits only humans can boast of: sleep, humor, friends, wine, food…and giant chocolate chip cookies the size of my head.

 **Coming up next, Christmas and New Years specials

Your Wish is Your Command

It’s been an exhausting day…well, exhausting week, month… A huge marketing event around the corner, GMAT in 3 weeks, pending B school applications…and of course, I’m doing what I do best when there is lots to do…nothing (this seems to have become a specialty).

Positive Thinking, Ya!

Positive Thinking, Ya!

But I haven’t posted in a while; so I convinced myself that I’m really not doing nothing, but in fact relentlessly participating in the pursuit of a personal goal I set for myself 3 months back – starting and sustaining a blog.

What’s really provoking me to write this time is not a particular read or movie or place, but a thought that’s been developing as a red thread in everything around me these days. With so many approaching deadlines, my exclusive, almost patented, works-best-under-pressure Murphy’s Law has of course kicked in. And as all that could go wrong is going wrong…people around tell me to “Think Positive”.

Now if you have ever experienced Murphy’s law as described above…or scratch that, ever experienced an uncontrollable chain, not cute enough to be called comedy, of errors and mishaps, you would know the chemical reaction a statement such as “Think Positive” would release in the body. A crisis is almost not a crisis anymore till someone repeats the blessed phrase.

But let me diffuse some of those combustible chemicals for now and keep them aside to focus on this post. What is it about positive thinking that has the entire world unanimously in agreement with it? So that I don’t go all over the place with this (if you’ve read my other posts, you would know that this is another specialty of mine) let me give this discussion a structural signpost by discussing a book that lends most direct food for thought on this topic.

The Secret by Rhonda Bryne. Disclaimer:  I am neither in the camp of people who despise the book and view it as a double shot of advanced self-help, nor am I a part of the clan that’s jumping up and down with joy at having discovered the Secret and bordering on delusional while practicing it (if I had to choose, I would go with the former, but you should know, I have no bias against self-help books either, I applaud Robert Schuller for Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do!).

For those of you, who seemed to have missed The Secret revolution as it hit the world, this book is based on the idea that the universe will always conspire to bring you what you want if you ask for it the right way; that positive thinking attracts positive events and negative thinking attracts negative events. We already knew this – but the book states that this is apparently a law, one that is backed by scientific evidence that our thoughts have frequencies, which are consistently attracting the positive to the positive and negative to the negative. It works like the law of attraction, or gravity. An impersonal law that is not governed by right or wrong, but only attracts what you think and in that sense makes your wish your own command.

Let me first address the aspects of the book that made me invariably put it down multiple times until I finally decided to get it over with.  Perhaps the part I did not enjoy was the big build-up around the theory that “The Secret” has been hidden from the masses by the classes for centuries to keep the “power” concentrated in a few hands. Or the fact that it introduces the scientific law only at a 30,000 feet level, and leaves it at that without discussing any of the supposed evidence. Further, it fails to address and explain the aspects of karma and fate. How does destiny intertwine with thoughts and actions to make events happen the way they do? Or do we really bring on a natural disaster or accident upon ourselves with our thoughts?

But what I do agree with is its general premise: our thoughts do become events to a large extent. When I first read this confirmation, I felt a flurry of panic. What about monkey-minded people such as myself, whose thoughts habitually swing from one to the other within milliseconds? I shudder to think of what I may be bringing unto myself! (Although some events of my life ARE in fact perfectly explained with this theory).  But surely, there are many days that start off badly and end the same way, probably shaped by our under-the-breath muttering that kick-started the day. And certainly, there are events such as miraculous recoveries from fatal illnesses that can only be explained by positive thinking and will power.  But before I get all Chicken Soup for the Soul about this, this theory, more than anything else, reasons with my senses on a scientific level.

Because the book did not explain the science part of it, I approached Google and found a video of Dan Gilbert, best known for his book, Stumbling on Happiness (http://sourcesofinsight.com/2009/03/05/synthetic-happiness/). Here, Dan speaks about how we can manufacture our own happiness and apparently be as happy when we don’t get what we want as we are when we do get it. This is called Synthetic Happiness. Dan’s books and papers weave together facts and theories from psychology, biology and behavioral economics to prove that synthetic happiness is as real as natural happiness. Human brain can imagine its own future, and predict which path may bring it the most happiness tomorrow. But if the chosen path turns out to be wrong, then the mental stimulator can also adjust itself and synthesize happiness. The difference between winning or losing a game, gaining or losing a romantic partner, getting or not getting a promotion is lesser in impact than we expect it to be.

In this sense then, if real and synthetic happiness scientifically have the same impact, and our brain has the capacity, when channeled in the right manner, to synthesize happiness, then positive thinking does lead to a happier state of mind. Whether the Universe really conspires to bring us what we want, moves places, people, time to make space for our needs and desires and whether this is truly a law as perfect as that of gravity, is still open to interpretation, experience and belief in fate. But what stands true is the premise of the book: Positive thinking does attract positivity, which converts into action and eventually leads to actual events. In that sense then, we can truly shape our future.

This hybrid theory does help me to understand the brouhaha over positive thinking. It also seeks to explain what we have heard for generations in different clichéd ways:  make the best of a given situation, live life with no regrets, events are not as important as our reactions towards them, what happens does happen for the best, etc.

In the meanwhile, as the sequel to The Secret is selling a million copies worldwide, I shall hope to find better answers for my questions in that one and practice it for my very own Volkswagen Beetle…it did say the law is impersonal with no judgments passed on the materialistic value of the needs and desires…

These are personal comments and thoughts on the book, The Secret. For a formal review, please visit http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Rhonda-Byrne/dp/1582701709

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