9 Magical Nights of Gujju Land!

Exactly 9 days earlier, I woke up in the morning and went to the gym, blurry-eyed and sleepy. I prepped myself for the aerobics, expecting the usual gym music to start. But that day was different. Dholida, Chhogada and Sanedo started blaring out of the speakers. I looked around trying to figure out what was going on.

We will be doing our cardio on garbas for the next 9 days’, told our group class trainer, already tapping his feet. The Gujju in me smiled, ‘Of course’, I thought. ‘How can I forget? It is that time of the year!’ 😀

I came home and habitually said, ‘Good morning Alexa’. She replied with 10 times her usual energy (which is a LOT), ‘Good morning!! Today is the first day of the 9 magical days! Sing, dance and say – Bhaaii Bhaaii!

’Hahaha Alexa, you too?!’, I laughed.

Sorry. I don’t know that one.

Everyone in the house was operating at a different excitement frequency that day. There were garba songs playing on our radio, and on the neighbors’ radios. I smiled widely, totally loving how the day had started! I wanted the next 9 days to crawl, not wanting them to pass away. As cliché as it might sound, it was the time of the BEST festival of Gujju land, NAVRATRI!!

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Throwback to the best Navratri days 🙂

Navratri, which translates to ‘9 Nights’, is the festivity of victory over evil; something I believe deserves a celebration today more than ever. This victory is celebrated differently in diverse parts of India. Gujarat, though, is famously known to enjoy Navratri by dancing on garbas (the Gujaratri dance form) around Maa Durga on all 9 nights.

We LOVE (all CAPS still makes it an understatement) our garbas and we live up to the stereotype shamelessly :D. A gujju is known to be well-versed with dancing on garbas even before he/she is born :D. We do not need a festival to dance on garbas. We can dance to the favorite garba beats in wedding baarats and sangeet, after cricket victories, in any happy family occasion, and *proudly saying* even in college fresher’s and farewell discotheque parties (something to make up for Gujarat being a dry state, I guess :P)!

A month before Navratri, you can see the welcome already. Garba classes make up for the best cardio and they earn bucketfuls. The aunty who apparently cannot go to the gym because of impending arthritis can totally jump and dance and sweat for an hour in Garba classes and go again the next day 😀 ! We get an unknown source of energy as soon as we hear the Garba beats. One would have difficulty remembering Math formulas but can rock 4 steps, 6 steps, 8 steps, 16 steps, 32 steps, 64 steps…. of garba!

1st rule of the cool Navratri club – you CANNOT repeat your chaniya cholis, the colorful and blingy lehengas, in the same season. So you need to own/rent greater than or equal to 9 chaniya cholis of the latest trends. You can see ‘Chaniya Cholis on rent’ signs in every other lane with every color lehengas on display! People go all out to buy expensive designer cholis and jewelry.

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Gujju spotted!

As the festival gets closer, wooden dance stages with idols of Durga Maa in the centre gets built in every street crossing. There are lights and divas everywhere! All open grounds of the city get transformed into Navratri night events. You can buy daily or season passes to enter those and dance the night off. There are amazing singers singing live garbas with extended bands and the loudest speakers.

Early plans are made with friends to buy passes and go dancing on all 9 nights. Surprisingly, Gujarati parents lift the home-at-10PM rule during Navratris! So this is the most awesome time to stay out late with friends, dance till you drop, have ice creams and then come home on your time. For some ‘opportunistic’ young people, Navratri is the best time to ‘mingle’ and make ‘friends’! You get to dance with a lot of people and nothing is considered suspicious :P. It is said that if you are single even on the 9th day of Navratri, you have sincerely danced on garba. 😀

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Pure candid. Promise.

All these latest trends are fun, but school days waali Navratri occupies a special place in my heart! Those 9 days every year were full of innocent excitement and true friendships. Our highly disciplined Convent school, which used to call even a speck on the shoe a disciplinary rule break, used to allow us dry hair and mehendi for these 9 days!! That shouted another level of freedom for us; I cannot even begin to explainJ. Everyone would be seen tired and sleepy in the class because of late nights, but who cared?

My housing society, like most others then, used to arrange its own little Garba night in the society grounds. A month before Navratri, all kids of the society used to be divided into A, B, C, D groups by age. Every evening used to be dedicated to practicing garbas or Gujarati folk songs that we were going to perform during the 9 Navratri nights. We used to rush home after school, gulp down lunch, somehow finish homework and then run to the society ground at 6PM for the practice.

 

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Let’s not talk about our cool style back then 😛 Can my sister get any cuter though?

Those practices and the stage meant the world to us! I used to absolutely love dancing to the garbas that we had been singing/listening to every Navratri since we were small. The familiarity of the garba beats and the simplicity of the steps make one addicted to this folk dance.

When Navratri finally used to dawn on us, there used to be this never-diminishing excitement in the air! Every evening, moms would keep a new pair of chaniya choli ready to be worn that night. All the kids used to have early dinners and then get started on the best part – getting all decked up for the night! I remember my mom going mad while getting me and my sister ready. Dupattas, colorful cholis, hardly-matching lipstick, dark pink blush, long braid, mandatory chaniya choli photographs, a quick revision of that night’s garba steps – and we were ready to rock and roll!

Performing on that makeshift wooden stage in front of aunties and uncles of the society was SUCH a big deal for us! 😀  I remember getting performance anxieties when it was our group’s turn to go on the stage. But then we used to look at each other, give an encouraging smile and get on the stage to perform on ‘Tara Vina Shyam’ and other amazing garbas. At the end of the night, the proud performers used to receive lunch boxes and pencils and ice creams and chocolates and we used to happily go home, sleep and get ready for the next night…. sigh! What days were those!

On the last night, we used to have a talent show for which all kids used to practice for months together. After all, every mom wanted their child to be an example of ‘Sharma ji ka beta kya sahi dance karta hai’!

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Shakti. Strength.

Navratri is not a festival. It is an emotion.

So many Navratri traditions might have changed over years, but some things like the evening Jai Aadhya Shakti aarti and garbas sung every year by mom and dadi, and our prayers to Maa Durga for blessing us with strength to fight against evil remain the same. As this year’s Navratri nears to an end, let us join hands and pray for shakti! Happy Navratri you all and enjoy the garba. 🙂

More to say, laters! 🙂

 

 

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Flash Mob – Check!

Imagine a huge crowd of people. You are a part of the crowd. You are common, invisible, normal.

And then something happens. You are no more a part of the crowd. You are uncommon, visible, alive! And then in a flash, you are again a part of the mob, the running life! 😊

Isn’t this idea the most fascinating ever?! FLASH MOBS! Every time I admired this movie Step Up Revolution, I thought I would never be able to do this. It requires so much guts! But until now…

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Who knew?!

This group of ours in office always thought of trying to do a Flash Mob, because when the office is so cool, why not? So, we sat down and made a list of the upcoming celebrations. Independence Day?! Hmm, when we all gather to sing the national anthem as per tradition, why not we suddenly start a flash mob dance? The idea sounded cool, but it would require a lot of secret P&O! We needed people who would be interested to dance and take this risk. This could go either way.

We, the original-idea-thinkers secretly started asking people. ‘Umm, do you dance?’. We mostly got the answer, ‘Like… in a club?’. Rolling my eyes, I would move on to another suspect. After days of weird questioning, we listed down about 20 odd people who could potentially be a part of this flash mob.

Now was the time to have our first secret meeting! A meeting invite was sent to these people in the list, people who had no idea what they were going to be subjected to.

They came with curiosity, with absolutely no clue that they were going to be a part of an office dance and surprise/shock everyone. Despite a few ‘Lol, what?!’ and ‘Dancing in office, like when we are sober?!’ and ‘Where would we practice?’ reactions, we could see that people liked this idea and that if planned this well and in secret, it will be a hit! Yayy!

A Whatsapp group called Shhhh..’ was made with all the mission members and the preparation kickstarted. We decided to dance on the very peppy Rang De Basanti to start with, followed by the energetic Jai Ho, after which came the perky Bolywood number India waale and the unmissable patriotic song Maa Tujhe Salam to end the performance.

The week of celebration began! The event was planned for Thursday and we had just 3 days to assemble everyone and prepare the dances, formations, props, etc. That Monday lost its blues for once because we were going to meet and start practicing!

But wait, how were 20 people going to prepare the dance on loud, Bollywood songs while in office, and howww were we going to keep it a secret? The original-idea-thinkers thought a lot. Meeting room? Naah, too loud, everyone will know. Balcony? We will be caught by coffee-break-takers. Argghh, there should be sommee secret place in the building for sure? And click, there came the best idea. The terrace of this tower!

We took permission from the building authorities for practicing by the hour and sent out subject-less meeting invites blocking Shhh’s lunch time. All of us quickly gobbled down the lunch and signaled each other to meet on the terrace. I could see everyone make weird excuses to their lunch group to leave so early, like ‘Umm, I have a lot of work and will have to skip the lunch break.’, ‘Hey, I am not feeling so well.’ 😛

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The secret terrace practices began!

After all the lying, we all secretly met at the terrace. And wowww! It was the most beautiful place to be! Imagine the top of a tower in the middle of the city, with the black, cloudy sky towering ominously; and the cool breeze warning us all that I will rain any moment! I couldn’t stop clicking pictures of the view, so beautiful, so natural!

We started learning the steps for Jai Ho. The guys in the dance kept us all very entertained with their funny steps and jokes. We all practiced the steps and performed the song over and over. Yayy! Such a great start it was. In no time, we had to rush back to work, all of us sweating and tired by the dance. Our project members looked weirdly at us, ‘Have you been running?’ ‘Sort of.’

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How beautiful could it get?!

These secret terrace sessions continued for the next 2 days. We all went home and kept practicing. After all, learning 4 dances in just three days and with all the steps and formations was not easy. Flash mob is all about the synchronization, and we had to get that perfectly! By Wednesday evening, we were able to dance on the entire song and were ready for the performance!

The group buzzed continuously that evening, ‘How are we going to start?’, ‘What if there are people standing on way?’, ‘How will everyone react?’, ‘Will we be laughed at?’, ‘Who will take the video?’ – the questions were limitless, the excitement was at its peak!

And lo, it was Thursday! The day of the Flash Mob! The day when we were finally going to dance suddenly and surprise everybody. The plan was that everyone was going to assemble at 12PM in the common area to sing national anthem. As soon as that ended, the ting ding ding of Rang De Basanti was to start loudly and gradually we were all going to start dancing from among the crowd, come in the center as per the decided formation and start the performance.

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The last pracice. Go Shhh!!

We met in the morning to go through the steps. This was the last terrace practice session and that made us sad. We had so much fun here in the past few days! Even the neighboring building guys knew the steps by heart and cheered for us. 😛

It was 12PM. All of us gathered. Wow, suddenly felt like a LOT of people in the office! We eyed each other all the best as we sang Jana Gana Mana. By the time we reached Jai hai.. Jai hai, we were hardly paying attention to the singing. Our dance was to start in 5 seconds. Oh My God, soooo much nervousness! We had not felt so nervous even before important client calls.

And there goes the Ting Ding Ding…. 5 people enter the area dancing. Everyone is shell shocked. 10 more people join them. Everyone is still trying to figure it out. What is happening? Why are people dancing suddenly? The last 5 join them and we start with our energetic steps. Everyone finally understood that it was a Flash Mob!

As we danced with all our heart on ‘Mohe mohe tu rang de basanti’ and ‘Jai Ho’, everyone cheered loudly for us and started filming the dance. ‘India Waale’ got even more cheers. And before we could even realize, we were on to our last song ‘Ma Tujhe Salam’ and were saluting our flag.

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Maa Tujhe Salam!

It was over. Over? Did we really pull off a flash mob? Did these 20 Business Intelligence and Analytics consultant actually perform a Flash Mob?!!

Everyone cheered for us and came to us saying how awesome it was and how and where did we practice so well and since how many weeks were we doing this and how did we get such an awesome idea?! We were all on the top of the world. It felt like this was real independence, the freedom to be the mob or to be individuals whenever we wished!!

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Shhh! – The best secret group ever 🙂

The ‘Shhh’ whatsapp group was the happiest that day. We will all miss those secret meetings and terrace practices and dances and all the fun that we had during this journey 😊. Happy Independence Day to all of you! May you all have the freedom to wish for and achieve what you desire!

Jai Hind.

DO NOT MISS OUT OUR AWESOME DANCE VIDEO HERE!!

 

 

 

 

The Uber Share

‘I will be down in just a min, bhaiya! Yes, I know the Uber pool ride waits for only 2 min. But I had sort of…an emergency’, I lied blatantly, while throwing in my office laptop, glasses, lipstick, pepper spray, novel and earphones in my handbag. ‘Haan, I know that the person sharing the cab would be in a hurry, but I will personally apologize to him. Tell him or her I will be down in just a min. Please?!’

Why do I get late every single day, I scolded myself an umpteenth time. I zip closed the bag and grabbed my phone. I checked myself one last time in the mirror, ruffled my curly, mind-of-their-own hair, took a deep breath and rushed down. There starts another busy day. Oh, what is the car number? I opened the Uber app and took a mental note of the number. You’ve been matched with Arjun, the app said. Arjun? Wow! Just a perfect day for this! I rolled my eyes, my sarcasm laughing at me. Chill Nyra, it is a common guy name.

I literally ran towards the cab parked outside my building. Brace yourself for angry reactions from driver and umm..the other person. I got in the cab repeating ‘Very sorry for being late’ on loop. The driver gave me a glare and started driving.

Excuse me? I got so late for an important meeting because of…’, said a male voice beside me angrily. I turned to look at him, ready to genuinely apologize. But then something happened… The frustration on his face quickly got replaced by surprise, and then softness.

Arjun?!’, I blurted.

My ever-existing sarcasm vanished away and got replaced by bittersweet nostalgia. How could I forget this person, even if I told myself that I had?! Arjun. My best(est) friend for 10 years at school, my neighbor and my secret keeper. And, Arjun, my carpool companion. Well, add an ‘ex’ to all of the above. Our dads used to take turns to drive us to school with the purpose of saving fuel and sharing responsibilities. Through this sharing, we had become the best of friends. I could imagine all those 10 years at that moment. The same back seat of the car. The same Arjun now. The unmistakable face, those kind familiar eyes, that mischievous smile.

I was speechless. And shocked. And he, more of all this than I am. He tried to speak multiple times, and finally managed to say ‘Hi. Nyra! You? Here?’

‘Yeah, I..uh..I got a job here in Mumbai. Shifted just a couple of months back.’

He nodded, a little too vigorously, looked away, then looked back at me. I have to break this awkwardness, I desperately thought. ‘Well, it’s surprising to see the most famous boy of St. John’s school get speechless.’

He didn’t know how to react to this. Same old Arjun. I suppressed a smile and then we both gave up, breaking into relieved laughter. I just could not believe we met in a random share cab ride. I mean, what are the odds?

‘You look good.’, Arjun said, giving one of his award-winning smiles and finally seeming to get back his sanity. ‘How have you been?’

‘Not too bad’, I said, pretending to make it sound cool. ‘I got good grades in 12th and then admission to a college I had wished for, made some life-long friends, got placed in Amazon where I love working, and now I am here in Mumbai. What about you?’

‘Well, I left our small little town, came to Mumbai, studied management in finance, something I always wanted to do, and now I am working in Goldman Sachs. I get to travel around the country and outside. It’s a great life, so happening and eventful!

Wow. Good for you.’, I said, giving a forced smile. He sounded so changed, not the Arjun I knew. But then, was I really like I had projected my life? Carefree, happy, gullible, innocent; the Nyra I knew? Did I tell him the story behind all the ‘good’ and ‘great’ parts?

‘Oh, so you are still Nerdy Nyra, huh?’, he laughed, pointing to the novel on my lap. I rolled my eyes, but felt extremely delighted. And shy for some reason. Nerdy Nyra, the name had always been super special! I immediately started loosening up a bit. Loosening in those wonderful memories!

‘How much you used to hate that name. And how much I loved teasing you by calling that in the middle of the class!’

‘That wasn’t funny, Arjun. Remember half of our fights used to be because of that?! Hehe. Silly us! And then I would refuse to talk to you in the car trips. You would behave normally for one day. And then from the next day, your same irritating self would be back; snatching my novel and threatening to throw it out of the window, and me shouting and crying to give the book.

‘And madam. You have taken all your revenge.’, Arjun piped in. ‘Remember how you would pull out your innocent goody girl image, go to mom, and complain about things I wouldn’t even have done? And then I would be grounded for days together?’

‘Oh, is it? I don’t remember anything like that!’, I said, thoroughly enjoying the memory and smiling mischievously. ‘Hey, but then I used to make up for it too. I used to complete your homework a LOT of times in the car while going to school.

Arjun nodded, ‘Can’t deny that. You were my savior, dude! From the 1st grade to the 10th, I would have flunked in all exams if not for you. I used to irritate you till you would agree to explain all the important questions while going for the tests.

I smiled. ‘Wow. Mumbai has changed you, Mr. Arjun. You have never told anything good about me before. Oh, or is there someone special in your life who made you like this?, I teased. I always used to tease him with so many girls, not that he needed any of my effort anyway. He was the most famous, most charming and the smartest guy of the school. Well, not to me. He always was the stupid, irritating, hopeless Arjun to me. I used to be his wingwoman. I used to introduce him to all my girlfriends so that the cool dude can step in and work his magic. In turn, he used to be my bodyguard, protecting me from creepy and irritating guys. He once had gone into a physical fight with a boy in the 7th grade, who used to follow me in lunch breaks.

‘We were very different in many ways. You wanted to read romantic fictions all the time while I wanted to discuss football matches all day long. We used to fight every other hour even after we became mature adults. But in the end, we had the most special and deepest friendship! Sigh! I miss those car gossip sessions. And I miss those singing sessions with the car music. And the crazy talks. I missed…you.’, Arjun said, speaking out the line I was avoiding since I first saw him in the car.

I didn’t want to reply to this. He understood and looked away. Suddenly, we had nothing to talk about. The awkwardness had crept back in. I stared down at my novel, debating whether to start reading, or just look out of the window, or think about something else I could talk about. My mind drifted to some stark opposite times. ‘God, can you both please stop talking for some time?’, Dad once shouted from the driver seat on a particularly hot Monday morning. ‘How do you always have things to talk and fight and shout about? No one speaks for the next 5 min. Okay?’ Arjun and I got serious and scooted over to the respective windows. It hadn’t even been 2 minutes when Arjun pipes up, ‘Nyra, do you know what happened in computer lab today?’ I totally forget papa’s scolding and get excited. ‘What, what? Did you get punished again?’ Dad sighed loudly, knowing that we couldn’t be kept quiet, especially in these car journeys.

I smiled and cringed at the same time, remembering those moments. I wished I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop. And before I realized, I got teary. Too teary to not sniff loudly. I got so angry on myself for reacting like this. But it was out of my control. I suddenly seemed to realize how precious the friendship was, and how it just finished. Right now, in the back seat of the car, we didn’t have anything to speak to each other!

‘Nyra’, said a soft voice. Now this was my best friend Arjun’s voice. ‘I am sorry, Nyra. I am very sorry.’ His voice trembled and reeked of regret. He had been thinking about the past too. ‘I spoiled everything. I let go of our deep friendship because of stupid misunderstandings. And ego. And immaturity. I don’t know what exactly happened. I don’t know how to explain and where to start from. At some point after 10th standard, I started feeling that I was too cool for the small town, small school and same set of friends. I managed to convince dad to send me to aunt’s place here in Mumbai to study and enjoy the big city life. He had to give in and I happily left for my new, exciting life. I got so lost in the new city life, the cool culture and the modern people, that I started forgetting my old life. And…you.’

‘Only after some time did I realize how worthless all of this is when you don’t have that one close friend to share every single thing with. That one person who you can blindly trust. I missed you, Nyra. I cried a lot in realization. But I couldn’t pick up the phone after all this and call you. Remember all the ugly fights we had when I left? We had told each other things we should have never said. I wished every day that those moments would just be wiped out of history and I could just come back and tell you sorry. But I couldn’t. I didn’t want to see you broken and alone.’

‘6.5 years, Arjun. Not a call. Not a text. Not one. Not one, Arjun?!’, spoke the anger in me, openly and loudly. The tears were threatening me now, and finally rolled on my face. Freely. The anger and disappointment, collected and pressed in for 6.5 years, came out. The driver got startled and looked back. ‘All okay, madam?’ How would he expect long lost friends to meet in his share cab? I nodded and looked back at Arjun, still wanting to shout a lot, but not knowing how to tell him how much I missed him. How much I hammered my mind every single day wondering what did I do wrong. How much I hated him every day for going away.

‘Hey Nyra’, he said, wiping off my tears. ‘How about we start again? In this back seat of the car today, I apologize to you sincerely. I was carried away and didn’t realize what I was losing. Will you be my best friend again, Nerdy Nyra?

I will think’, I managed to say, though in my mind, I was flipping with happiness.

The car stopped and we both looked around startled. ‘It’s your stop, sir’, said the driver. In the midst of all this, we had totally forgotten that we were in a Uber share. ‘You will have to get down now, the cab is blocking other vehicles’, he repeated, losing patience.

Arjun took his bag and got out of the cab. And the man with ego disappears once again, I sighed.

He looked back at me, ready to bid adieu. Then something changed his mind and he got back in with a smile. ‘I have learnt from my mistakes. This time I am not going anywhere.’

I could not believe I was smiling widely despite the tears. Years later, we were back together in the backseat of a car with our destination unknown!

The cab moved ahead. Had I got my best friend back in an Uber share ride? Well, I had literally been ‘matched with Arjun’.

 

 

P.C. https://www.autocar.co.uk/sites/autocar.co.uk/files/styles/gallery_slide/public/images/car-reviews/first-drives/legacy/india-kwid-2016-080.jpg?itok=3ZMvOJ9y

Life’s a Beach!

Drogon”, screamed Daenerys boldly. “See those red and golden flags? We need to land there!” The mammoth black dragon flapped its deep red wings in response, breathed out fire and lunged over the sea. But suddenly, the coast where the Lannisters were supposed to be, turned into a beautiful beach. Wait, was that ‘Pondicherry’ written with big red letters, like the one in the theme song? Sigh, a beach!! And sand. And coconut trees. Wide smile! 🙂

“Whaaammm! Screeecchh!”

I sat bolt upright in my semi-comfortable sleeper bus. Are we not in Pondi yet? Oh, that was a dream, I murmur, rubbing my eyes. Blame the HBO hackers for that GoT episode. And wait, what was that horrible jerk and sound?!

I peep through the curtains. Woahh! Our bus driver had collided with a bus standing on the road side. Green glass pieces shattered everywhere. People cornering our bus and shouting in Tamil. Wow! An accident to start the tour. So much for a safe trip promise to mom!

I suddenly hear giggles in the other compartment and rush to discuss this with the other 5, just like a hot piece of gossip on our lunch table. We were 6 girls, 60 km away from Pondicherry at 6 am in the morning, stranded in a broken bus, surrounded by an angry mob, and we were laughing and shooting videos of the moment. This girls trip is going to be one memorable one, I smiled! 🙂

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How we managed to reach Pondi is another story, but when we finally got down at the paradise city, we couldn’t stop ‘wow’ing at everything around us. The auto drove us through tiny, squeaky clean streets, lined up with countless beautiful coconut trees (what is with me and coconut trees?!) and surrounded by quaint, colorful houses of bright colors. The town seemed to be painted all over by a primary school kid, there were the brightest yellows and the prettiest teal blues, the lushest greens and the deepest pinks!

And while I could try and take this flush of cuteness in, I spotted that unmistakable sparkle of the sun, the gorgeous sight with the promising salty whiff of welcome, I HAD FINALLY SPOTTED THE BEACH! ❤

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We were driving on the beach road and I couldn’t take my eyes off the blue stretch of sparkle. How could a sight be this soothing? And suddenly I felt the auto stop. I reluctantly tore my eyes away from the beach and looked around. ‘Villa Bayoud’, a wooden board read. Our villa was ON the beach? Whaatt?!! *Mental Blogging starts*

All 6 of us went crazy with excitement. I kept on looking at the villa entrance and then the beach, not able to believe our choice of the hotel. We were finally (add more ‘lll’s to enunciate!) in Pondicherry after multiple weeks of lunch table planning, series of Whatsapp group conversations and several beach-shopping trips to Commercial street. We had literally announced in the entire office (and the company’s Facebook page) about our girls’ trip and we were all set to boast as much as we could. It was a trip planned all by ourselves, a trip where we had to spread out the maps and decide where and how to go, and a trip where we were in the company of people who wouldn’t judge you for your craziness and join you in the silliest talks.

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The trip gang!

The start had been too adventurous and exciting to handle, and now we were starving. So, we left to search for a breakfast place. And Oh My God! White town, the French colony where we were staying, was filled to the rim with cafes as cute as buttons; Le Café, Café des Arts, Gelato café, Carte Blanche, Café Artika, and a trillion-other small, beautiful cafe everywhere. We just couldn’t get over these extremely pretty places set in French décor and painted in lovely pastels. We must have taken a billion pictures here, stocking up for profile pictures of the year. Food was the second-best thing in Pondicherry (First? Beaches, duh!). Both the days, we gorged on finger-licking Nutella crepes, fancy croissants, strong coffee, fresh juices, unforgettable gelatos and cheesy pizza slices, while discussing every topic under the sun.

 

What made our trip so much fun were the bikes we had rented since the moment we arrived in Pondi. Driving those bright red, yellow and blue bikes all around the town, we felt like Powerpuff girls, independent and fun. I miss those long drives on beach road and through lush forests, those moments of getting lost in random places, those memories of following Google maps and still directing to a wrong turn (Trip group, you know who I mean here 😉 ), that glee on reaching destinations, the journeys spent while singing songs (the Lipishtick song ahem), those irritating catcalls and the feeling of being adults! When I reluctantly gave back the key to my bike while leaving, I soo wanted to tell the owner, ‘Take care of the yellow buddy for me!

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The Powerpuff girls!

And beaches?! They definitely possess magical powers. We excitedly got dressed in our shorts and shirts and drove to Paradise beach. The satisfying sound of waves, the extreme happiness when the sea touches your feet, the sand and the sun, the surprise splashes now and then, the soothing thoughts in mind, how I wish I could keep this feeling captured in a box. Even now when I close my eyes, I can picture the clean blue sparkling water, the fine brown sand, the salty air, the cloudy blue sky, the tall coconut trees, the cute beach shacks and the boat rides.

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Villa to the beach!

The Rocky beach outside our villa was another experience! We would get out of the villa and run to sit on the rocks, not missing any moment while we could. Those 11 pm nights with the gushing ocean and the full moon, and the 6 am sunrise with the sun peeking out of the sea and long walks with cool breeze, are memoirs I would never want to forget. Sometimes you just need a break. In a beautiful place. Alone. To figure everything out! Sitting and looking at those waves beating the rocks and the water splashing up in the air, the deep thoughts in mind and the future contemplation; I was writing a mental blog for life!

Cliché but true, 2 days were over before I could realize. I sat in the night bus, looked out of the window, felt the Pondicherry wind go by and smiled at all the amazing memories! I had a lot of photos, videos, journal entries and sunburns to take back with me, but maybe it wasn’t just enough. Take me back, oh, take me to the ocean!

Lots to say, laters! 🙂

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Grandparents’ Tales : Adventures of Nagaland – Part 2

If you haven’t read it already :  Part 1 🙂

Intelligence Bureau. Nagaland. Just married. 9 days of journey. Dangerous/helpful tribals. Sign language. Wooden floors. Firing. Food. Dada out on tours. Dadi alone. Granparents. Respect. Honnkk Honnkkk! Smile. So proud of them. Honnkk! Mild irritation. Madam?! Honkkk!

Pop, bursts my bubble! Why am I on a road? Oh right, medicines. Hospital. Scooter. Red light. Green light?! God, me and my day dreaming. I must have turned all pink with embarrassment. *Facepalm*

Sorry sorry, bhaii!’, I gujju-apologized to the angry man on scooter behind me, and to multiple people behind him, and sped on as fast as I could.

I am back!’, I announced to no one in particular. No one looked up. Dada dadi were in the midst of a very intense discussion. ‘How would S.K.B. Singh and his wife be now?’ ‘They had called last week. They were so happy to remember everything.’ ‘Hmm.’ ‘And Ung Fung Pete and HK Rota? Dr. and Mrs. Deb?’ ‘We should call them.’ ‘Hmm.’ ‘Where are all our Nagaland photos?’ ‘I will check later and tell you. I am not going to get up now.’ ‘Hmm.’

Dada daddii whatsup?’, realizing that it was time to jump in. ‘Storryy!’, I shouted, sitting on the swing and opening my little blog book.

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Grandchildren huddled around dada!

‘Hahaa, dikra’, laughed dada. The happy, eager laughter. ‘Where were we?’

‘You forgot? Raju’s birth!’. The unmistakable excitement in dadi’s voice.

‘Right’, dada started. ‘So, Dr. Deb, the medical officer there, told us that dadi had to stay there all 9 months. He wrote an authoritative letter to my father informing him that he cannot send dadi to Gujarat in any circumstances. She cannot travel from Nagaland, it’s very risky. Even airplane travels have heavy turbulence in that region, so the last option was cancelled too.’

‘And there was hardly any nutritional veg food, no maternity homes and no daily help. I would feel so weak.’, dadi exclaimed. ‘Maa came to Nagaland then so it was better. Fast forward to August 25, Raju was born in an extremely cold night. And he wouldn’t cry! We were all very tensed. That night was the worst. He had turned blue and cold.’

‘And then by morning, Raju was fine!’, dada said, eager to reach to the happy ending. ‘The tribals around us were extremely happy. Nupa, Nupa, they shouted, and came to see your papa and touch his nose. Long noses are exotic for them. Mrs. Deb explained later that Nupa is a boy and Nupi is a girl in tribal language.’

Wow, my papa was born in Nagaland! Sounds out of the world.

‘Your papa was the favorite of all’, dadi said laughingly. ‘When he walked down to the only school there as a child, tribal girls used to wait at the hill every day to see him and play with him.’ (Haha! Funny. I added a point in my mental checklist to tease papa about this 😛 ) ‘To spend my days, I used to teach Hindi to the tribal girls. I also used to show them the map of India and give them knowledge about different states. They didn’t know anything apart from the sister states!’

‘And Trupti fai?’, I asked? Could I forget my dear aunt?

‘I was able to come to Gujarat when Trupti was born.’, dadi answered. ‘So that was less of a struggle.’

‘I had gone to bring them back when Trupti was a few months old.’, dada told. (‘You hadn’t come, we had come back alone.’, added dadi tauntingly :P) ‘Everyone loved Raju and Trupti there. When Raju was 3 and Trupti was 1, they organized a grand function for them, brought biscuit packets from Bengal and gave us so much respect!’

Both the children grew up in midst of flying snakes, leech and…what do you call veechi in English, beta?’, dadi enquired.

‘Scorpion, dadi. You had snakes and scorpions there?!’

‘Oh yes. I couldn’t leave the kids alone even for a second. Families of government officers had the fear of getting kidnapped.’

Really?! I wondered if I had any shock-quota left for the day.

 ‘Dada, I am realllyy curious to know. What was your work exactly?’

‘Even if I am retired, I can tell you just some things, beta. It was all very secretive, all for country’s security.’ (Salute to his loyalty!) We had to try and get information on the border underground activities and report it to the central police department. We had spies who brought information from sensitive areas and we had to take steps to see that the enemies’ plans didn’t execute.’, he said, choosing his words carefully.

‘The Burma border called Bihang, 60 km from Churachandpur, was where I worked. I was the first one to be posted there. We used to take rum bottles and food for the Naga tribes on the border to keep them on government’s side. They used to tell me stories about how Subhash Chandra Bose had once come to the border to submit weapons and ammunitions left by Britishers.’

‘That sounds scary and dangerous, dada! Were you safe there?’

‘Not always. Once I was sitting in my office and I got a document from across the border, brought by one of the spies. It was a list of targeted people. First in that list was my name in capitals, because of all my work on the border. P.P.MARU, it said. Under my name was written in small clear words: ‘He is NOT to be killed. Bring him alive, he will have information.’ (I gasped audibly.) I submitted the document to government. I was presented Rs. 5000 cash prize and Nagaland Special Duty Police Medal for my bravery.’

My jaw dropped. He said it so casually, as if this happened very often. There were people appointed to harm my dada?!

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The story listener always!

‘Arre tell Bhashu about that story’, dadi joined. They were completing each other’s lines and I smiled. Companion goals, I thought. 🙂

‘Dada was once going on a tour’, she said, telling the story herself. ‘And his jeep reached a wooden bridge. Suddenly he asked the driver to stop. He got a feeling that something was not right.’

‘Let me tell now’, dada exclaimed. ‘So, I asked the driver to check the bridge before driving. He went near the bridge, sensed something and dropped a leaf to confirm. And his doubt was right. The leaf burned to ashes and fell in the valley below. The bridge had been strategically set on fire and covered in a way to disguise the fire. The jeep would have gone down the valley too!’

I couldn’t even blink my eye. I suddenly noticed that I had been gripping my blog book so tightly. I was speechless.

‘During my 5 and a half years, I recovered loads of arms, ammunition, revolvers, rifles, binoculars, typewriters, etc. from the enemies. I got many medals for my work there. Write in your diary.’

‘Of course, dada. This goes in my blog’, I smiled.

‘Your dadi and I were the only Gujaratis in Nagaland. I was the only one from the state to get the respectable Indian Police Medal and President’s Police medal for distinguished services, later in 1992.’

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President’s Police Medal

I could see his chest swelling with pride.

He looked at dadi. I sensed it was the end of the story. ‘We went there as 2 in 1962, came back as 4 in 1968. Those were the best years of my career. There was struggle but there were precious memories. Nothing would have been possible without your dadi’s support. She struggled with me and kept us all together as a family. (Awww! I got almost teary.) They say that in Nagaland ONE NIGHT IS ONE LIFE. And we survived multiple nights. God is great!’


One word for them. Respect. I had plethora of questions for myself then. Do I value my peaceful, ultra-comfortable life as much as I should do? Do I do anything for my country? Do I have the strength to struggle so much if put in such conditions? Maybe their inspiration will give me answers to these questions. 🙂

Besides sharing their adventures and glory, I had one more message for everyone. Not all grandparents would have stayed among flying snakes and firing. But all of them have struggled in some or the other way to bring us all up. Do we sit down with them and hear their stories? They probably have a lot more wisdom to give to us than any philosopher. Do we spare some time from our busy lives for them? Try that, they will love it. I have seen the twinkle in their eyes, the feeling of being listened to, the feeling of being loved, the feeling of being valued. 😀

Lots to write, laters 🙂

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The verandah, the swing. Few years back 🙂

Grandparents’ tales: Adventures of Nagaland – Part 1

Dadaa dadiii’, I shouted lovingly to my paternal grandparents just last week when I went home, one evening when they were sitting in the verandah.

‘Bolo beta’, dadi said invitingly, ‘Come sit with us.’

We have heard Akbar Birbal, Panchatantra, Vikram Betaal stories from you while growing up. I want to hear your life stories now! I always see that photo of yours dada, the one where you are getting Presidents’ Police medal. I want to know how you got it! And dadi, I want to know how you survived at the border all alone at a young age! Can you tell me your Nagaland stories today, please?!’ I said, pleadingly.

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Dada dadi looked at each other, as if remembering it all, and dada began narrating their adventure.

‘Beta, so I was in my 20s when I got recruited to the Intelligence Bureau of India, one of the most secretive union offices in the country, as an Inspector. It is called the Khufiya Vibhaag. We basically worked to protect the country against spies, terrorism, etc. I wasn’t allowed to talk to absolutely anyone about my work and could only say that I worked in Central Police Home Ministry!’

I could sense the pride in his voice. Working for the country would have been soo great! My profile as a Business Intelligence consultant suddenly seemed so insipid to me.

‘As part of the initial drill, we had to spend a couple of years in border security training and get posted on one of the 7 borders that surround India.’, he continued. ‘The problem was that I had just got married to your dadi and had to go with her to the border! No one ever brought their family. Dadi was just 22 years old then. (‘Arre, I was 21 years then’, dadi corrected dada.) ‘But we considered all options, convinced our parents and relatives and decided to move to Nagaland! That was the start of our 5 and a half years of adventure.’

And I thought moving to Bangalore was an achievement? Duh! His strong, determined voice emanated confidence, one which would have come from his experiences. I could picture him as a patriotic and strong youth, ready to do anything to protect the border. 

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Dadi chimed in, her usual excited-self making the story more interesting. ‘You know what? In those days, it used to take us 9 entire days to just reach Nagaland! We had to change multiple trains and even take a boat to cross the raging Brahmaputra. We had reached Dimapur at 3:30 AM. The sun had fully risen and by 4 AM, it seemed like peak morning! From there, we had to travel to Kohima, accompanied by a convoy of so many army jeeps. ‘

‘Armyy convoys?!’, I exclaimed, clearly realizing then that dada was in a big shot post! I was already writing in mind an entry for my blog…

‘Yess!’, she continued. ‘We lived in a garage for the first few days. And food! Bhashu, there is no vegetarian food there! They put fish in everything like we put coriander. We had to eat only rice and salt for dinner for days. Sometimes your dada would go out to get some food and could only find a banana. That was our meal.’

Wow! I decided to respect even bottle and bitter guards from now on. 😛

Dada started saying, ‘We then had to move to Churachandpur, where we got a small government quarter. Our luggage finally reached to us from Gujarat after 3 months, though in an unrecognizable state. We set up our small house, surrounded by tribal families and stunning beauty of the untouched nature. Living with the tribal people was some experience! They spoke 16 different languages, none of which was remotely close to what we speak. They are very kind and helpful if you are good to them, but they are people whose enemy you never ever want to become.’

‘Tell her that Mumbai wala’s story’, dadi said immediately.

’Oh yes’, dada said. ‘We were introduced to a young inspector from Mumbai who had recently come to Nagaland. After a few weeks, no one had any news of him. Later, we got to know that he had annoyed some of the tribals and they had killed him!’

‘WHATT?!!’, I shouted, wide-eyed! I felt like I was listening to a movie story. ‘You lived among such people?’

Dadi told dada, ‘And you would go away on tours for days together. I would be all alone. Till you would come back, I would have no one to speak to. Just sign language with neighbors, remember that tribal family?’ Dada nods with a gentle smile, pride showing on face for his then newly-wed better-half.

Turning to me, she continued,’Dada had to maintain so much secrecy in his work that sometimes I wouldn’t even know about his whereabouts. Also, at that time the Chinese Aggression was going on. There was illegal trade of weapons from Burma border happening so dada had to attend to that. There could be firing at any time of the day. I had to lie down on the wooden floors in nail biting cold till the firing stopped.’

I looked at dada and dadi, a new respect for them. Blog and diary long forgotten, I urged them to tell me more. ‘THEN?!!’, I shouted.

‘After some time there, we found out that dadi was pregnant.’, dada softened, surprising me. ‘Yess! Noww papa comes into the picture!’, I exclaimed.


‘Bhashaa!’, mom shouts from the window above. ‘You have to go get medicines for dada from that hospital before it closes.’

It snapped me out from the imaginary life of Nagaland that I had made in my mind and I came back to reality. I wanted to hear more stories. But then it was medicines for dada, my dada for whom I can do only so much.

‘Dikra, go. We will tell you about your papa’s birth and childhood after you come’, dadi reassured me.

‘Dada, I want to know about your tales of the border also and about your experience with the enemies. Okay?’

‘I will, after you come back’, dada smiled and promised. ‘Till then, I will complete reading my newspaper.’

I smiled at both and left…

Part 2…more to write, soon 🙂 Stay tuned!

Bounded by wires?

I lost my phone today.

Well, almost. I had gone for grocery shopping on a relaxed Sunday morning. I come back home and look around for my mobile, humming some tune, to check Whatsapp messages. And my heart stops.

Where is my phone?? I look everywhere in the house. In the kitchen, on the bean bag, in the fridge(!), but it isn’t anywhere. I run to the grocery shop, shouting to the owner in urgency if he had seen a phone anywhere. ‘Ille, ille’, he says. My mind took no time in skipping the language boundary and realizing that I had lost my precious phone!

I come home, feeling dejected and sweaty. I hadn’t freaked out so much even during my board exams or my placement interviews. Shamelessly, I cry, what will I do without my phonnee? 😦

I sit down on my bed because of the trembling. And my hand suddenly falls on something under the bedsheet. What?! I pull aside the bedsheet and find my phone smirking at me, as if almost saying, ‘Gotcha!’ 😛  While spreading a clean bedsheet some time back, I wouldn’t have noticed the phone on bed. Phew!! So much happiness! Such a huge, wide smile 😀

And I suddenly realized. How attached am I to my phone that I had my heart in my hand? How attached am I to all my gadgets! Okay, look around yourself for a second. How many wires do you see? Wish I could hear your counts but I bet I am in the competition. 2 phone chargers, 2 laptop chargers, 1 USB cable, 1 kindle charger and 1 earphones! Hahh!

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This brings us to a question: Are we bound by these wires? Have we become so attached to these screened devices that we can’t live without them, literally? Me: Guilty as charged!

We have made our whole life around these wires and gadgets. Binge watching TV series has become our version of entertainment. Reading books on Kindle is the new cool thing. Our parents may/may not know of our whereabouts and who we are with, but our Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook sure do!

Phones top the list of things we can’t leave the house without. Power banks have become yet another wired necessity, when you love your phone like I do. I remember my anxiety, while on a trip last month, when my phone warned ‘15% battery’ and I frantically searched for charging points everywhere.

I can’t deny how wonderfully helpful these devices are though. Phone and social media seems to be the only ways to stay connected to closed ones and friends. And how can one miss the uber-interesting plots and undeniable humor of those TV series.

But then there’s one more question that comes to my mind. Do we have anything else, apart from our phones, laptops and Kindles, that helps us relax and destress and be happy? Something that makes us feel that utter peace, that absolute solitude, that transfers us to our own bubble and absolutely nothing or no one can upset us?

I recently discovered how important this is. During every weekend, I shut down my laptop, tie up my shoe laces and go for a relaxing evening walk in the nearby garden. And at that time, I realize how absolutely amazing this experience is, so different from our world of gadgets. I breath in the cold, whipping air of freedom, as I walk around, and it feels as if it unwinds every bond. The chirping of birds, the squirrels, the nature, I take in everything as I sit on the bench. Ahh! So beautiful, so peaceful. 🙂

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I feel the same effect while having a steaming cup of coffee in the morning, sitting in the balcony and reading newspaper. Or watching the moon from the window as it rises and shines above. Or writing a diary entry and emptying the mind’s feelings, like Dumbledore does in his pensieve.

What helps a person unwind and destress may be totally different than someone else’s. Ask yourself if you don’t already know it. Does cooking make you happy? Or playing a musical instrument and singing to the tune? Or is it painting? Probably reading? Trust me, when you find that one thing, it will become your thing, your key to relaxation, and you will realize that you don’t need a phone to cheer you up.

We are already enslaved by machines. Let’s teach ourselves to do something that would just involve us and what we love doing. Let not these wires bind you. Let’s live life a little, shall we?

Lots to say, laters! 🙂

 

Tr * Tr * Travel…

Once while we 3 flat mates were making dinner after a routine, busy day at office, one of us spoke up, ‘Don’t you guys think we need a break? Let’s plan a trip!’. And we couldn’t agree to it more. As the two of us were from Gujarat and the third had never been there, we decided to fulfill our recent travel inspirations by taking baby steps; we took 2 weeks off from office and planned a long trip to my home state!

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Hopping through cities…

Trips have always been the most favorite part of my year. Those exhausting but exhilarating trips to all corners of the country with mom, dad and my sister every year since we were little have made for some amazing memories. But this time, it was different. It was the trip that we were going to plan completely and pay for everything ourselves, and that made it even more exciting. We three used to have lunch quickly at the office and then spend the rest of the break planning everything and booking all the tickets and hotels. I used to start talking about our trip plan to everyone who was ready to listen. 😛

And after extensive planning and packing, our trip finally started. Our first stop was Kakrapar near Surat, where we could reach by traveling in almost all modes of transport: A flight to Mumbai, a night train to Surat and then a bus to Kakrapar. We were welcomed to our friend’s huge, beautiful house in the peaceful township. The small world away from the bustling Bangalore life was just so needed. We visited the sprawling nuclear power plant there and the experience was amazing. 2 days completed in a snap and it was time for us to hop to another destination.

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A trip so rejuvenating!

An early morning train from Surat transported us to my most favorite place, Ahmedabad!! We had 3 hectically planned days here. Sleepily we reached the hotel we had booked, expecting just a decent room to sleep. We enter the room, switch on the lights and see a huge, royal room. And a few seconds later, the receptionist comes up running, ‘Everything all right, ma’am? We heard a scream.’ Embarrassingly, we said sorry and made him go and then started jumping on the beds and sofas again :P.

Stay at the Heritage city was just amazing. We would pull ourselves from the most comfortable bed early every morning, get ready, grab some breakfast and leave for places as per our busy plan. The ‘Heritage Walk’ through the famous pols and intricately carved structures (and convincing the guide and others in group that we weren’t architecture college students), the chatty auto walas, the unbeatable midnight dinners at Manek Chowk, the mind-blowing street shopping (and bargaining) at Law garden, the lavish dinner at Patang – the revolving restaurant where we couldn’t stop admiring the amazing 360-deg city view (and also shamelessly spending most of our 2-hours table reservation debating whether the singer there was Kenny Sebastian or just his look-alike 😛 ), the late evenings in river fronts where we would sit on benches overlooking the gorgeous Sabarmati river and become all philosophical, discussing about life and future 😛 …each of these experiences were just so special.

Our trio then left for the very famous White Rann of Kachchh in night bus because apparently, ‘Kutch nai dekha toh kuch nai dekha!’ Morning found us in the cold, small, traditional city of Bhuj. We just had a day to see everything around. I literally felt like a nomad that day, because in the next 12 hours before we caught our bus to Rajkot, we travelled around with sunglasses, bag pack, discharged phones and a water bottle, seeing the beautiful palaces, climbing the ‘Kala Dungar’ on a camel, peering through binocular to find the India-Pak border and then rushing to the white desert in a horse cart to see the sunset. The Rannotsav time made the place even more vibrant.

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The amazing White Rann of Kachchh

And the next few hours in the white desert are indelible memories. I step on the white land covered with sea salt granules and turn around to see pure whiteness extending to infinity and beyond, then I silently watch the deep orange semi circle disappearing somewhere into the same infinite white, and I smile to myself wondering how did I get so lucky?! 🙂

We reached Rajkot at 3:30 am! By this time, we had got used to our permanent zombie, sleep-deprived modes. It was my turn to be the host now. The next two days were uber- fun. We went around the city, bird-watching early in the morning, eating at beautiful places and shopping (of course).

A typical girly trip was just what I needed. We would spend so much time voting for outfits, as if it was the most important topic in the world, fight for the mirror, get ready and then run out. We would be silently sitting in the auto, and one among us would suddenly shout dibs on the favorite side of bed or for the washroom. We took photos in almost every corner of every city we visited. We had to take short video clips for our video montage wherever we go; in trains, buses, museums, desert, restaurants and where not. People gave us looks as we became three giggling girls speaking to the phone attached to the selfie stick. 😀

The trip managed to rejuvenate me just perfectly. Although we travelled crazily sometimes, hopping through cities overnight, roaming from early mornings to late nights and sleeping for hours we could count on fingertips…these 10 days were enough to make me want to go back to the daily routine. The feeling of waking up to a new city most days was just beautiful.

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A trip to remember…

I have a few hours here at home before I leave for Bangalore, back to pavilion. Lots of unread emails, incomplete codes, unpaid bills and unwashed clothes wait for me, but these doesn’t matter if there are trips like such waiting to give a beautiful, memorable break!

Lots to say, laters! 🙂

16 days 0f 2016 : From the diary…

2k16 is over. I was sitting today with this year’s diary, flipping through pages, reading the entries. And I suddenly realized, so many awesome things have happened this year. These are 16 notable days of my year from the diary that new-girl would love to share! There are more days, but those are just between me and my journal. Welcome 2017, and 8th personal diary  🙂

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Opening the gate to 2017 🙂

1. January 6 : 5:07 pm, Seat no. 3, A’bad-Rajkot bus

Today I felt the parting. And that it all ends now. I shifted from Ahmedabad today. Can hardly write right now. These stubborn tears just don’t listen to me. I can see the 4 years in front of me. Random visions. Happy memories. Sad times. Sigh! When I signed my internship agreement today, I should have felt extremely joyful. But I guess the sorrow of leaving this beautiful place is way more than anything else right now. You have given me a lot Ahmedabad, until next time!

2. January 17 : 10:45 pm, Terminal 1, Mumbai Domestic airport

Diaryy, it has begun! Left for Bangalore, the new life, the new city. It was so difficult to say bye to dada, dadi and Pranj. But I had to stay strong. My being emotional would double up their tension. Will get to stay with mum and papa until we reach there. We reached A’bad airport at the last minute. 55 kgs, the weighing machine at check-in counter displayed! That’s everything I own right now. It’s the first day of college…oops, office tomorrow. Feels so weird. I am so excited I can hardly wait now. An intern, and later an employee at Thorogood Associates. Let’s see what the new life has in store for me. There’s our call for the B’lore flight. See you, diary!

3. January 28 : 10:23 pm, PG room

Today is one of the most special days in my life. I GOT MY FIRST STIPEND!!! My first ever self-earned money! I feel so rich and happy and high on life :D. And I HAD to reward myself for this. So I went to ‘Forever 21’ and proudly picked up that gorgeous black sling bag I had been eyeing since I came here for the interview. I think I am going to hug the bag and sleep tonight.

4. February 6 : 6 pm , PG terrace

Diaryy! You just can’t believe what happened today. So I was out to get some food supplies and I was passing by this fancy salon BBLUNT, wondering when will I be able to afford a haircut here. And then out of the blue, a girl comes out from the salon and tells me, ‘Hi, I have a haircut test now and my model met with an accident. Can you please be my model? I will get you a haircut of your choice for free.’ And I was speechless. BBLUNT! Free haircut! What are the odds. And then for the next 2 hours, I was constantly smiling while I got a fancy haircut in the fancy dreamy salon 😀

5. March 24 : 3 pm , 201 unit, office

Yayyy! I got booked into a project. FINALLY! And one with a cool name and good team members. I was getting so bored today with so less people in office because of Holi holiday. And then my PM pinged me, ‘Bhasha, come in unit 201. You are starting on our project.’ And I just ran to the unit. It will be so much fun to work on a live project!

6. April 29 : 11 pm, PG room

Diarryyy! My birthday was soo amazing! It stated from yesterday night’s celebration at PG and then 4 cake cutting in office, so many gifts, messages and surprises. I felt so overwhelmed and lucky the entire day. ‘I don’t know about you, but I am feeling 22….!’

7. May 23 : 1 am, Ahmedabad, relatives’ place

Just got home. We had our farewell party today. Wasn’t our freshers just some time back? 4 years passed and we are already out of college. The party was so much fun but had a very emotional ending. Juniors played ‘Yaaron Dosti’ in the end and all of us were swaying to the song, singing it loudly. I could hardly control my tears. I know I will never meet more than half of the people here again. I just wanted the moment to stop forever. Chaiits and I are standing in the balcony now, reminiscing our 4 years. I will miss everything a lot.

8. June 8 : 10 pm, PG room

Office was super busy today. Had so many meetings and work. My calendar was almost full. It was so much fun to work with my team members and solving issues. I feel so nice that I am now able to give my opinions on any topic. My PM had given me complicated query to write and after a lot of trials, I could finally get the desired output, and she said ‘brilliant’ 🙂

9. June 30 : 11 pm, PG room

I have bags and clothes and stuff all around. I am packing everything and leaving the PG. Internship is over and my 1-month pre-employment break starts! I will miss office and this city but need to go back home now. See you, diarryy!

10. August 7 : 12 pm, NEW HOUSSEEE!

Diaryyy, we finaaalllyyy shifted to our new flat after a month of house hunting. And it is so beautiful. We will soon convert it into a home. I lovvee the balcony view. So happy and proud!

11. August 29 : 7 pm, flat room

Bake Sale daayy! Finally, the baking competition day at office arrived. We had baked the cookies and cake yesterday itself. The sale was expected to be very exciting. And it was much more. We had so much fun working with the team, dividing the work and collecting a lot of money for charity. Everyone relished our bread pizzas, jhalmuri, cookies, cake and mojito! Never knew I could be a chef 😛

12. September 12 : 10 pm, Delhi

Diaryyy! Guess who I am with? Chaiittss!! I have come to Delhi to meet her for her birthday. We roamed in the city the entire day and it was just like old times. Who says you lose your friends when you settle in different cities? I love you, best friend 🙂

13. October 21 : 11:58 pm, Ahmedabad

I am officially an engineer now! Got graduated today 🙂 It was such an amazing feeling to wear the robe and hold a degree in hand. Mom had come to attend the function and she looked so proud! Yay.

14. November 27 : 6 pm, garden behind our flat

I am sitting on a bench in the garden behind our flat. Have come here for weekend walking. I am loving this solitude. The fast walking, loud music and peace just makes for a perfect weekend! Feel like I can sit here forever. Just me and this solitude.

15. December 21 : 11 pm, flat room

Diarryyy! We decorated our drawing room wall with our photos and fairly lights around them. And it looks absolutely stunning 😀 So excited and happy. Since last 3 hours, I have gone to the drawing room atleast 10 times, switching on the fairy lights, gazing at it and then coming back to the bedroom. Dream come true!

16. December 31 : 11:58 pm, flat room

2016 is getting over, diary! In next 2 minutes. And it is perfect that I am entering the new year doing something I love the most: writing! This year has been so amazing. I can safely say it was the best year until now. I was/am a new-girl-in-the-city and the experience has been so good, losing myself in the places and faces of Bangalore. Even writing was so much better. I have realized that writing is so much alive, it has a soul which needs to be met and befriended. Working for myself and being so independent was one of the best feelings. May 2k17 be more exciting and perfect. Happy new year everyone 😀

More to say, laters!