Monday, December 31, 2012

Moving Links! De-lurk alert

Its been 5 years at this link, and while I love it, it's time for a change. I've also accumulated over the years, a bunch of people who know me and read this blog - an unintended [ and undesired ] consequence. No offence to the people who know at all - it's just that I always wanted to blog under the premise of not feeling the pressure to write socially acceptable / justifiable things just because I know who's reading me.

However, I remember how I felt when some of my favorite blogs moved links and I had no way to find them again. Not that I expect any regular readers with my sporadic writing, but just in case there's anyone out there who would like to know where Serendipity's migrated to, leave me a comment with your email or mail me at 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Magic Magic Magic

Last night, at A's sangeet, we were together again - 7 friends separated by distance and time - at the same place, same time after 11 years. Shortly after graduation, 3 of the boys moved to the US for undergrad, Sh and Ni got married [ at 21!!!] and J, me and Aps continued studying. It's been 11 YEARS - J is now married with a son, Shilps has 2 kids, Nis just had his daughter on Dec 2nd [ exactly 4 hours before I was born!!], we attended Abhi's wedding. So of our group of 7, 4 are married with kids, and 3 are single.

It felt surreal. Seeing these folks who with I have only two years of memories [ 11/12th grade] but for some reason a bond of love that transcends not having met them for years together, of having move countries, new people in our lives, ups and downs.

My favorite moment last night had to be when we were on the dance floor and Nis and I were just dancing with each other for a few minutes and hugged - I was about to tell him in his year that I missed him, and that EXACT second he said to me 'I miss us'. I obviously teared up. obviously. Nis and I used to be BEST friends. The complete each others sentences, communicate with eye gestures best friends. And then he got married to a jealous girlfriend. We lost touch. I let go, but held on. I held on to alll those memories which no one can ever take away from me - those hour long phone conversations talking complete nonsense, those bursts of laughter instigated by absolutely nothing, that silly handshake which we wouldn't allow anyone else to do. When he told me yesterday that he missed us, I knew he had held on too.

I finally met Sh's husband too. She married when she was 21, we were angry with her at the time at the way we were invited and a few other things which seem trivial now and didn't go to her wedding. It was a palatial wedding in Jaipur, and soon after she moved countries. With all of us moving around the world too, we never really got a chance to meet Vin, her husband, as a result of which we never felt close or connected to her - but last night, that changed. I feel sorry that I couldn't be the bigger person 8 years ago and go to her wedding knowing I'll regret it later. Sh feels like she missed out on being young and silly because she got married and asked me all the fun things I'm doing with my life - It felt great being able to tell her about me and ask about her and really feel like we were connecting.

It's a fantastic feeling, being able to start a sentence with " I know this person since 13 years and she has/hasnt changed" or "Have I told you this ridiculous story from 2001?"

I'm happy. A warm fuzzy kind of happy.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The curious case of words > actions

It's one of those life stories I'm going to look back at and wonder about. What if?

I wrote about P, a few blog posts ago - starting from how I was afraid to fall for him, and wasn't sure if I should. About how I was loving letting go and how he was a lot of firsts, about how he was moving cities and taking a part of my heart with him. Well, it all happened - I fell, he moved, we broke up, I (thought I) moved on.


I found myself a few weeks ago at the same place I was 6 months ago. Hurting and longing for more. After 'being friends' a.k.a talking on the phone everyday, being as normal as two people with an intimate past can be, P surprised me for my birthday. He flew down from SF on a sunday night, took monday off, bought me an ipod touch, took me to dinner and flew out on Tuesday morning. He did these things (obviously) because we were 'friends' and he wanted to make my day special. In the few months that we were just chatting, I dated other boys, mindless dinners and outings which were fun anyway, but far from the intense conversations and butterfly inducing romance that I love. Keeping this in mind, I thought I had truly moved on.. I was wrong.

Seeing P felt like a wave of nostalgia washing over the last 6 months, overwriting any negative thoughts I built up against him, replacing it with a familiar feeling - that same perfume, those warm big hands, that all-encompassing hug, those lips that say those words, that taste which sends goosebumps to every part of me .. I watched as every self defense I had built up against him crashed and burned into nothingness. I watched as I became the me 6 months ago, and realized I still wanted him to be mine, something I havent felt about anyone in years.

For that one day we settled into a warm cozy semi-coupled state, he made me tea, I pretended I loved it. We interchanged being the little and big spoon - just the way we both like it. [ for reference - he is 6.5"]
We held hands the ENTIRE day, sat less than an inch away at lunch and dinner. He fixed my broken earrings and made me realize how having a man around the house feels so good.

And then he left. A long, entangled, hug later he left for his 5 am flight. Whats more hurtful than the absence of a person, is the presence of their absence. He left behind the contour of his body warm on the mattress, two sweaters that smelled just like him, a couple of chargers. Not just that, he took back the part of my heart I had reclaimed over the last few months, arrogantly defying my feelings for him.

I realized that we're not 'just friends' and that I was fooling myself. and decided to write him this.

"I'm not sure how I land up at the same place every few months. This is a tough email to write - and has been, before too. First of all, I hate being a coward and writing emails. But I'm almost certain I wont have the courage to say it to you F2F.

Long story short, I'm at a place where I feel like I've had to (try to) get over you twice before, and now I have to do it all over again.I think its safe to say after my birthday weekend that we aren't "just friends" like we claimed to be. It's hard to have you in my life, know that we have what we have and pretend I dont want more. I fooled myself for a little while, but seeing you last week made me realize I'm going to hurt myself in the short/long run, because having you in my life is so comforting, and knowing how I feel when I'm with you, I'll use that for a benchmark for every boy I meet. i.e. barely give anyone a chance.

Just going on this way - speaking to each other every day, the honey sweety miss u babe muah's - is like being in a relationship, BUT one that has no strings- IDEAL for most men. Not what I want from my life at this point.. we can go on with this endlessly - If I never bring up / confront this. I'm at a place now where I want to find someone to come home to everyday, cuddle up to when its been a rough day, belong to someone and have him belong to me..and commitment is a key part of that. I want someone to take a chance with me, together. I definitely hope to marry in the short term, and have a family when I'm physically at my peak.  

You mean a LOT to me. I love how I feel when I'm around you, and how you have a lot of qualities I've been looking for in a man, but I know I can't go on pretending you're just "my friend". Having said that, I'm not asking you for anything this time. I've done it before and it hurt like hell to wait on your email / phone call / flight to land from Ireland. I'm just saying I need time to get over you, so maybe in the future we can be friends.  This is, of course assuming you dont love me [in that way] and wouldn't want to give a relationship a shot. If you are/want to, you need to think about it, and figure out if you want to do something/nothing about it. Don't involve me in the decision making process, and definitely don't reach out to me with a "maybe". we've known each other for a long time now, its enough information to make a definitive decision. 

Thanks for my birthday surprise, it was really memorable - all the time we spent together is. Even as I write this, I have no doubt in my mind that I mean a lot to you and that you care for me a lot. 

I just need to do this for myself - and I know its going to hurt like hell again, but I'm tired of being in a relationship with you - except that we're not.

I'm sorry if this puts a damper on your weekend - there is clearly no good time for this. I know you're going to do great in life - whatever you do, specially with your new found Blindian* [black-Indian] community and recently acquired Gujarati*skills. [ *inside joke]

-Signing off,

So that's that - that's me closing this chapter AGAIN. This time, cold turkey. 

Home is where the heart is?

I'm back home for the 2nd time in 3 years that I've been away. This is a short stay, mainly to get some paperwork done and to attend the weddings of all my remaining single friends.

It's been 3 days and already reminiscent of my last trip, I have such conflicting thoughts about being back. I think my earlier rose tinted love affair with Mumbai which I documented over the last 5 years in my blog has certainly been under strain. For my city that once felt determined, purposeful and had the never-say-die attitude, it now feels like its shouting a quiet cry for help. In the one year since I visited last, there are newer buildings and mall-extensions, more dug up roads and in-progress construction than ever before. Mumbai is creaking under the burden of its people, infrastructure, pollution and chaos.

It boggles my mind, how a beautiful, city bejeweled with a sea coast so magically calming could fall prey to corrupt politics and short sighted profit driven planning. Mumbai is growing taller by the day, with building after building engulfing each other in height, but where is the on-ground infrastructure to support it? We've become desensitized to bad roads, sloppy construction, slums, trash cans - what's left? Is there a cause we're dedicated enough to work towards?

Last evening as I took a cab home from Bandra, I was in the 'opposite' direction of traffic - i.e. headed against the office traffic, south bound. YET, I felt paralyzed by all my senses being overwhelmed by the simultaneous assault of the noise, pollution, humidity, people. I realized I was behaving like one of 'those' people, the kind I swore I would never become. The one's who live away for a short while and suddenly become too good for their own city. The ones who talk and look different and pooh-pooh on the city they grew up in. Sitting in that cab, holding a handkerchief to my nose, waiting with bated breath to just reach the calm of home, I knew something inside me had changed. I saw a different life, in another country, and it gave me perspective. On what life can be. on what it should be, or could be. And that saddens me.. knowing my country and my city are on the fast track to both, immense progress but also self destruction.

Something is going to, and will boil over. The people or the infrastructure. One of the two will give way, at some point. One of the two will give up on Mumbai, and trying to make it a better place. I don't know where life will take me and where I will be, but I already know in my heart of hearts that the Mumbai I hold close to my heart is in the past, I love the city I knew growing up and not the city it is now. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Damn the green grass

You know all those quotes all of us keep reposting & retweeting? The one's written by wise old men who knew better? Like 'The grass is greener on the other side' or 'What doesnt kill you makes you stronger' and such? Well turns out that everytime I question the authenticity of applying something someone else said in a context that no one knows, to my life, I have to eat my words. 

The biggest one staring me in the face this very point in time is 'The grass is greener on the other side'. All my married friends envy my oh-so-happening life. I have friends on facebook messaging me saying "I was going to ask how you were but clearly you're doing great!" [ this looking at tagged party/going out pictures] I hate that facebook has become a credible source of life accounts. I have numerous problems with this. First of all, I'm not going to post this picture of me curled up under my comforter writing this blogpost, alone at home, listening to coldplay and drinking a beer and caption it "feeling shitty today" right? Second of all, facebook is where I go to be a smartass - Its my vehicle to say ridiculous funny things and be fun me with 800 of my closest friends what?. Really, if you want to know how I am, ASK. 

Thirdly. Yes - If I take an outside-in view of my life, it looks pretty great. And dont get me wrong, I'm loving it. It's just that there is so much more to it than appears. There always is.

I've been going out A LOT. I spend weekdays going to swing dance classes on tuesdays, wednesdays going to some professional networking events or the other, thursday is usually either hang at home or catch up with someone over dinner day.The weekends go by in a flurry of having friends stay over and cook and clean. I have a google calendar to schedule my personal events. This all sounds hot and happening but whats easy to miss is I make sure I'm so occupied because I don't want to be alone and lonely. I don't want to get to a place where I NEED a relationship. People make bad decisions when they're desperate and I don't want to get there. I want to make the best use of this time and age and look back at happy, full days and not days accompanied by the 4 corners of my apartment and music to cheer me up. 

People also have this crazy misconception that they needn't worry about me and that I'll find someone. well, I'm soon to be 29 and single, want to fall in love but scared as hell to actually do it because when I do, I end up writing a blog post of what I should do differently the next time around. I almost feel like I've had a broken heart so many times that it's ground into paste by now. I don't know where to draw the line between being too strong and too vulnerable so I always choose the safes 'too strong' option which most men can't handle anyway. I always have a bunch of boys interested in me and courting me at any given time - which my friends acknowledge as a good sign - What's the point I think, when they're all wrong? We all need just the one, right? 

One of my bestest married friends really upset me the other day when she spent 15 mins telling me how awesome my life is that I'm single. 'Travel! she said' you're so carefree - travel! Learn an instrument, take cooking classes. I wish we could trade lives.' I love my life, yes. But, after all these fun parties and dance classes, I'm getting into bed alone. waking up to no one. No one to fix my car flat. or help with my taxes. I have to have my big girl face on all the time. I love being independent and figuring life out on my own but .. 

Man I really didn't think growing up was gonna be this hard. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Meet or Beat

Is my company's guidance for this quarter - we have to Meet or Beat our revenue guidance which as it stands, is to remain flat over Q3. Im almost wondering if we're hopecasting - Setting ourselves up for failure.. but that remains to be seen.

Layoffs finally happened last week - on Thursday. It was one of the most emotionally turbulent days I've had in a while. Despite the fact that my building wasn't hit as hard since all the C-Level execs / Worldwide Business Management and Finance folks sit in this bldg, I had a hard time putting on my big girl face.

We lost 4 people from my team of 25 - of which one person was someone I was very close to. I am meeting him for lunch tomorrow so I'm feeling better already, but it was tough to know he had been laid off. He was a senior manager, and we dint work together, but interacted a lot over team lunches and book discussions.
The atmosphere at work on layoff day is like someone has died - the air is thick with grief almost, the silence is sickening, the presence of additional security is unnerving and seeing empty cubicles where people used to sit a few hours ago is eerie. I went out the entire weekend - to drinks with J, C, and B on Friday, shopping at the Outlet mall on saturday, dinner with MBA peeps on sat night, brunch with a meetup crew on Sunday and finally dinner at home sunday night - JUST to get my mind off things. 

Life in corporate America is a far cry from working back home. Here, everyone is an individual contributor - the culture is individualistic vs the more collectivist culture back home. It takes some getting used to - but I can see how being accountable and having to stick up for every number /slide /word that you put out / say / present makes you work smarter, harder, and clean up your own mess as opposed to knowing there's a team behind you as a fall back option.

Life is also stressful in that layoffs in America are so commonplace that sooner or later you ought to expect the axe to fall on you. The last few weeks were unsettling, uneasy and restless for me - knowing there will be layoffs, not knowing when they will be or who they will affect. I had been given enough feelers by my director that he valued my skills to know that it was unlikely that I would lose my job, BUT STILL. I am the kind of person who believes actions > words, so until something doesn't ACTUALLY happen, you can say something to me a bazillion times and I won't believe you. It serves me well, in professional and personal settings, to have low expectations and not to have my hopes riding on people's words. 

I'm glad we're past the bloodbath - we're not in another state of turmoil - of 'reorg' and 'realignment' and skill set mapping and what not - but at least we're past the major cuts. I can breathe easy for a while..

My director keeps telling me that I'm gonna be a corporate warrior once I've advanced in my career - that because I've gone through so much stuff so early on in my career I'll develop a thick skin.. For my sake, I hope he's right.. It was hard being so upset all last week, there was almost nothing I could say or do to make myself feel better or stronger. I know this is probably being naive, but I'd love to never have to go through a layoff again, in any capacity... 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The HOLY CRAP I'm going to be 30 soon moment

In a year. Yes, as I actually turn 29 this year, I'm focusing all my energy (as any normal person would do) on wheezing about the fact that next year I'm turning the big 30. When I was a kid, I always assumed life was downhill after 25 and although the last 3 years have easily been the best three of my life yet, I still harbor the notion of 30 = olydmoldy. I think what really bothers me about turning older, is the fact that age is a milestone that reminds you about how far you've come [ or not ]. 30 specially, is significant because it seems old and when you're younger, in school and college - 30 was monumentally old. It's that age when everyone has a family and kids and are discussing PTA meetings and what not. To be fair, almost all my friends are doing that currently. While I wouldn't exchange lives for the world, it does remind me that I had wanted the same thing most Indian girls want - a nice husband and a baby before 30 :) How funny it seems to even admit it now.

So, in order to not sit around lamenting the impending age - in usual Serendipity get up and go achieve stuff style, here is a WIP [ work in progress ] bucket list.

Things to do before I turn 30 [ ~Dec 2013], in no order of priority.

  • Learn Spanish
  • Bungee jump [ off a cliff / bridge - preferably not a mechanical structure but this isn't a dealbreaker ]
  • Learn Swing dance [ Status : classes in motion right now :) ]
  • Get a fun, short hair cut for old times sake. [ Most likely in Jan, after attending a slew of weddings in India]
  • Read the entire Mahabharata [ Status : reading it currently ]
  • Visit one new country / continent
  • Send Mom, Dad and bro to one fully paid, International trip.
  • Swim with the Dolphins
  • Go to a Formula 1 race [ Status : Nov 17/18 in Austin - tickets bought! ]
  • Do the superman ride at Six flags.
  • Weigh under 60 kilos [ Current status : 63 kgs ]
That's what I have right now, I'll update this list periodically as and when things occur to me. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

This week has been such a whirlwind of activity, a flurry of ups and downs. I'm glad I was busy enough to not drown in being overwhelmed, and stayed afloat amidst all the happenings.

Our company announced layoffs this week - our revenue is down 10% QOQ and overall, the industry and all players are in a slump. While this isn't new news, work has been stressful in that waking up everyday my first thought usually is "ugh, do I have to go?". What makes me go are the people I meet, and my paycheck, but it pains me to confess that while I like what I do, I don't "love" it. The writing's been on the wall since a while now, we all knew the company numbers were headed south - but its a different feeling when its announced and there is certainty around the fact that there are faces you wont see soon.

The anticipation is what gets to me. I'm in a place right now where I JUST WANT TO BE ON THE OTHER SIDE! One way or the other, I just want the layoffs to be done with so we can all move on with our lives as opposed to waking up everyday and thinking "Could this be the day?" I see nervousness in my colleagues, specially the old timers, who know they've done their time and are an expensive resource for the work they do, when someone young, fresh and less expensive could easily do what they do. Everyone's in cruise mode : just doing enough to sustain 8 hours a day. For a on-the-go, lets get stuff done person like me, its a painful, (far too) laid back situation to be in. Since the layoffs dint happen this week, I guess we're entering one more week of over speculation and feeling blah. :(

So why am I here, one may ask. In short, I sold out. I took the easy way out - I took the first job that was offered to me, in the company I had already interned at - which gave me a great signing starting figure with a sizable signing bonus for the industry I'm in. This is by no stretch my dream job and its apparent everyday when I need reasons to wake up and go to work. However, knowing what I do and having admitted it at this point for me is meaningless because I am trapped in the visa tangle. So, this being one of those life decisions I have no control over, I suck it up and be a grown up about it. I hope one day, I can find my way to a passion. One day, someday ..

Now,  the good : I went out every single night this week. It was totally intentional because everyone was saying this week the layoffs were bound to happen [ they din't] and if that was the case, I wanted to keep myself occupied so that my nerves dint get the better of me. I went swing dancing on tuesday, to dinner at an awesome restaurant downtown which is owned by Sandra Bullock on wednesday with my girls C and Jo, on a grouper to a new Vintage bar downtown on thursday, and to dinner at a Thai restaurant on thursday. Each night was super fun, and a great way to look forward to each day.

The swing dance evening stood out as the most fun : We were 2 leads short, so the instructor would fill in and dance with the woman who was single [ we rotate leads, so no couple dances together all the time, and no single lead/follower is alone ]. So one critique he gave me was that I would keep looking at the floor - I should look up, and at my lead preferably. I tried doing that, and looked at him while we danced, and broke into a HUGE BLUSH. He grinned at me when that happened and asked if I'm just shy in life. Now anyone who knows me in real life, knows thats FAR FROM THE TRUTH!! Its the proximity of another man, one whose not my boyfriend, I suppose that makes me blush. I spent that entire evening blushing, looking at my feet WAY more than normal, and altogether embarrassed. I'm glad that somewhere, that shy girl still exists under this tough exterior.. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Once upon a long time ago

My mom is turning 60 in Jan'13 - and is the single most source of inspiration in my life. Having grown up in a small town in India, her transition into a modern thinking and free spirited modern woman is truly inspiring. She says and does things that I strive to emulate, and is my biggest strength, confidante and rock. It amazes me that I have seen more of the world than she has [ traveled to a few more countries, lived alone for a few years etc ] yet, with her minimal exposure she embodies a perfect harmony of the dichotomy of a traditional, loving Indian housewife, with the modern thinking, idealist unbound societal being. There are innumerable times when I have a conversation with her where she says things which just astound me into speechlessness and open up a whole new world of a stream of thought where my mind probably wouldn't venture.

Last evening, case in point. Kamal, was a maid who lived with us for 23 years. She came to us as an orphan when she was 18, illiterate, thin, overworked and jaded with life. My parents took her in and she grew to be a part of the family - someone who ate what we did, traveled with us on vacations, did our Diwali Pujas with us.. Time again, past a certain age my parents asked if she wanted to be married, sent back to the village, and she said no, she couldn't bear the thought of leaving us : her real family, or the comfort of our home and hearts. We used to put away all her money, bought her gold bangles and earrings from her savings and did everything that was our duty.

Until one fine day, she disappeared. She was supposed to go to the grocery store a minute away from the house and be back in 10 mins, but never returned. I will never EVER forget that day. As time drew on, we called the neighbours, watchmen, liftmen, we circled the entire community and our mood went from mild anger ['why is she late'] to concern ['could something have happened?' to outright frantic hysteria ['something has definitely happened - its been 3 hours, she's a woman, she's illiterate how will she help herself if she's ina bad situation??]. We didn't eat dinner that night, neither did we sleep for the next week. The next day, it was cold and rainy and my dad circled the periphery of the area she knew how to travel to, to no avail. 

We couldn't write a police complaint because if you're above 18, it has to be >24 hours to file a missing complaint. My mom and I were inconsolable. We were certain she was being held against her will, and something terrible had happened. I remember being awake and watching TV on mute in the living room because I couldn't bear the thought of where she might be while im in my comfortable bed. Days and months went by in uncertainty and no news. We didn't celebrate Diwali that year as we thought we were responsible for a person :illiterate and orphaned who we were supposed to protect and failed. 

The thought that she could have run away and gotten married NEVER crossed our mind - 1) My parents had time and again asked her if she wanted to and that they will get her married and she said no. 2) Having lived with us 23 years we just didn't think it possible for someone to betray us like that and put us through that much misery...

A year later, we found out she was married and had run away, A year spent being guilty, miserable and disrupted we found out she had done what we least expected her to. 

Fast forward to today - she recently got in touch with my mother, in dire straits imploring to be taken back.She left her physically abusive husband and baby, works in a house for two men who mistreat her, and has had a rough life. Its been more than 8 years since the incident where she left us but for me, the wounds are still fresh. My mother heard her story and her heart melted, and is considering taking her back - this is the conversation which made me hang up, thank god for a mother like mine, and promise myself to strive to be like her as mush as I can.

My point of view : For me, the wounds are still fresh, I still hold Kamal responsible for hurting me and my family beyond belief for something she could have avoided completely with a simple conversation. We grieved for her, and prayed for her all the days we thought something terrible had happened to her. Our lives came to a standstill for a long time - My mom kept falling ill with the stress, I left my job for a few months to just be home, manage things study for the CAT {which I did a bad job of doing} and we all had to deal with a sudden pivot in our daily routine. My little brother [8 years old at the time] couldn't understand why a pall of gloom had descended over the house. All in all, from my eyes, what she did to us was unforgivable and If the decision were mine, I wouldn't have a heart big enough to forgive.

My mother: She said just a few things, in her usual contained style - and those hit home. "She gave us her youth S, She was loyal to us for 23 years, dont forget that for the one grave mistake she made. She gave us the best years of her life, and today when she's worn out and jaded, we owe it to her. She has no one, no family, and has been burnt once.. she's made her mistake and learned from it. After all, if my son or daughter were to run away from my house and resurface a year later, I'd have no choice but to forgive, forget and re-love, right? We all have one, giant, regret in our lives and this is hers - we are no one to punish her for it forever. For the people who judge me, for taking her back into my home after such a betrayal - well, those people aren't going to give me my medicines when I'm sick, neither are they going to help me keep my house clean when I'm no longer able to do it myself - I'll live with their judgement and my peace of mind."

As I write this, I am overwhelmed with love, tears and respect for this person who gave birth to me. My mother, who continually shows me that life isn't about holding grudges and hard and fast rules, but about fluid, dynamic interchangeable emotions, about evolving through your experiences, about becoming the most forgiving person you can be, how its not about remembering how someone wronged you, but about how much of your life that person partook of, about how much love people give and take from you. Life is about growing up, and not old, looking ahead not back and carrying with you only those experiences and memories that are woven into the fabric of your being, and leaving behind scars and unpleasant moments like shedding dead skin.... 

Life Update

The hardest thing to do, after a long absence here is to actually start a blog post. Life, after all, throws so much at you all the time that its hard to figure out where to start. 

Things did not work out with me and P. He flew here, to make things work, but they didn't. I had built up that weekend in my head so much that maybe it was inevitable? I've come to firmly NOT be over enthusiastic about any upcoming events in my life, fearing that they will be less fantastic than anticipated - trips, events : I try not to think about them and live them before they happen to make sure they don't disappoint. And then, usually when they go of well, its a pleasant surprise. 

So what went wrong? Many many things - first of all, I think I moved on a little bit, and he didn't. I think when we dated right before graduation, I was so intoxicated by being vulnerable to someone again, by being swept of my feet and doing things I'd never done before that I glossed over all his flaws and deal breakers. I missed all the signals then because I was enjoying being a fool in love. He was taller [wayy taller ], older, wiser and I LOVED being a little girl around him. I loved being the one who didn't have to know how to solve each problem and how to handle both people's emotions. In all my past relationships, me with my ultra large boisterous personality have managed to overtake the man's role in the relationship and oftentimes, be the man. Here, I didn't - I was wined and dined and dressed up and looked forward to feeling pretty. 

So what changed? He came in that weekend prepared to talk about the logistics of long distance.. BUT wasn't sure when/if he wants to settle down. He is also one of those men who will avoid confrontation / conversations regarding ANYTHING serious like his life depends on it. I remember many an evening when I just wanted to talk about a bad day at work or something upsetting me in general, and he wouldn't know how to handle that : major deal breaker.

So here I am - single again, and loving it* [*Terms and conditions apply].

In lieu of the impending 29th birthday and my new years resolution this year, I've decided that these two months have to be the most fun by far. My new years resolution this year was to reduce my "Never have I ever's"and by Joe, I've done new and different things. Went on a grouper , went on my first date ever with a boy who wasnt a friend / friends friend [ was a lottt of fun!], Joined swing dance class, Joined a bunch of like minded people groups on Meetup, Traveled to Turkey, New York. Boston, Niagara Falls, Chicago, Houston - going to Florida Keys over thanksgiving with two friends and home to Mumbai in December. All in all, cant complain. Life, after all, is what you make of it, and I'm trying to make it large! 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to another square

I dont know whether its the 4 hours of sex and the city I just watched with Christine, or that its raining outside and it makes me want to drive alongside Marine drive in my Mumbai but I cant because Im millions of miles away.. I don't know whether these things are making me blog or I actually have something to say.

TV and movies make us want things we probably wouldnt have all by ourselves. Would I associate kisses in the pouring rain soaked to the core with romantic had movies not added a soundtrack to it? Would I know what 'emotionally unavailable was' and / or big pretty grand gestures of love and affection? Today as C and I watched SATC we both sighed and cried our way through Carrie's breakup with Big, her proposal from Aidan, Charlottes belief in Prince Charming.. I realized that one day I'll look back at these days and laugh.

Whether it will be a sigh, a melancholy hollow laugh at what I left behind or a happy lingering voluminous laugh at how silly I was will depend on who I end up with and how I grow. Whether who I end up with nurtures every facet of me - the girl inside who wants her prince charming or the ambitious woman who wants to make a name for herself.. whether he has a kid inside him too and a man too. Often I find men have one or the other..

Today I find myself at a crossroad. The Boy I wrote about, the one who was moving away and was taking my heart with him is going to be in town 2 weeks from now. Picking up from where I had left off, We eventually broke up because he couldnt 'commit' and did not want to do long distance, but he kept reaching out to me and keeping in contact. I asked him to rethink his decision about breaking up to which he took a MONTH and did not respond [ while still talking to me about everything else] I finally reached a breaking point where I felt like he was being non confrontational and I was getting hurt so I 'closed that chapter' and asked him to let me go.

Now I'm fantastic at being strong - guess Im so jaded that I expect most things to fall apart - which is why this guy was different, because with him I let go, I stopped trying to control everything I said and did, I stopped playing games and trying to keep the ball in my court.. which is why I fell.. hard. I enjoyed that delicious feeling of excitement and nervousness, and in hindsight even that of heartbreak and that dull ache of having to let go. 

When he couldn't make up his mind [twice] I shut him out - of my mind and heart. And since the last month he's been doing his best to get back in - bought me and my friends champagne as a surprise when I was out for dinner with 2 of my girls [ he called the restaurant ahead of time ], mailed me a box of chocolates, calls me everyday and has been very vocal about missing me, wanting to make things work and what not. He's flying down in 2 weeks for 3 days just to see me and have a conversation about us.

Now this is the ideal scenario, right? Realizing what you've lost and coming back to get it? I should be thrilled, correct? I'm happy that he likes me so much and that our memories and what I felt wasn't a lie - BUT. But, like I said, I withdrew from him. I crawled back into my strong girl shell and now I'm afraid. I'm afraid he wants me because he lost me and because I let him go. I'm afraid he'll change his mind about me by which time I'll have fallen for him all over again. I'm afraid of letting down my guard again, I did it once and I know how awful I felt. I'd rather be a girl in control than be a girl crying in the bathroom, right?

SO, the roles have reversed. When we talk now, he's the one 'trying' and saying sweet things and I'm the one making awkward jokes and 'deflecting'. I'm the one who's skeptical, wary and questioning. He's the one wanting to give us a chance. I'm the one not committing. He needs to make a grand gesture to win me back, that I know. These little things mean a lot, but I need more to know he's serious about this. Like I said before, if he's the one, he'd be happy to jump through some hurdles for me, right?

Thursday, August 16, 2012


My (temp) roommate and really close friend from school recently broke up with a guy she'd been dating 1.5 months. In which time she fell head over heels in love/infatuation with him. She recently wrote a blogpost about pain and how she thinks she attracts it because shes an artist and asked me to respond.

While this blogpost is not a response to her column, I do have things to say. In conversation with my single girlfriends I realize that regardless of how smart, successful and confident women are in all walks of life, when it comes to men, women of all kinds need the ultimate affirmation from men. Take the people around me for example - we're all recent MBA graduates from a great school - all of a similar profile - we're A type, ambitious, confident people who were admitted into school for a reason. That said, I look around me and see beautiful, smart intelligent women fall apart at the mercy of one boy / breakup. This really annoys me.

Why do women inherently seek extrinsic affirmation? Why does the attention of the opposite sex have the ability to cloud our mind and judgement? Why do we feel confident in our skin only when our opinion is mirrored by the guy? My roomate did the right thing - had an honest conversation with the guy, realized he was just playing the fool and not being serious and broke up with him. The next day she arrived at the conclusion that its her fault that they broke up and she's probably not good enough for him to want to commit. %^&*$@#@#%&* REALLY? I mean, the guy clearly had issues committing, wasnt ready whatever - that's OK in my opion. I've been in plenty situations where I'm not in a relationship place and the guy was and thats FINE! BUT, why should she blame herself? Why does one man not wanting to be in a relationship make women question their entire self worth?

I have my own way of dealing with things. I refuse to let a man have the satisfaction of knowing he got to me, and therefore I'll nurse my broken heart, but within myself. In front of him, I'll be sassy and cocky and not upset at all [ I could, and most probably am ] dying inside, but that's not for him to know. It's the other extreme though, so I'm not proud of it. 

My mom taught me very early on to find motivation within myself for everything - want to lose weight? do it for yourself. She always maintained that women who give and do too much for men lose themselves in the bargain. She's right - in a month and a half of dating and having broken up, C is completely lost. She's forgotten what life was like a month and a half ago. She wakes up dazed, cant sleep, barely eats. 

I know everyone deals with things differently, and I dont judge her or anyone else for being that intensely into someone. I do, however have a problem knowing that 1.5 months ago she was a determined, aggresive entreprenuer whose suddenly lost steam because of ONE GUY! Im also positive that this guy on the other hand must be dealing with his emotions better - i.e. going out for drinks, work and not disrupting this routine. 

I'm just angry that I cant shake her out of this tizzy and it boils down to ONE GUY! Aren't our hopes and aspirations larger than a 1.5 month date? Shouldn't they be inspite of and not because of someone special in our lives? 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Phase # 3: Working professional

This is it : my final entry into the professional world. When I graduated from engineering, my first job was an experiment, the second a stroke of good luck. This is my third job and has more finality around it, not because I anticipate myself doing this forever, but because there seems to be no further break. I always knew I wanted a masters degree which is why the previous jobs felt like a means to that end. This job will feed into my life – my mission, purpose to exist, my ginormous student loan, my professional value proposition .. all that.

Along with the aforementioned, it also brings with it so many changes to life. I’m no longer a student, I’m no longer my parents liability, I no longer live with a roommate. I moved into my own apartment a month ago, and it is a 1BHK. Currently I have a broke filmmaker friend living with me so it feels cosy and fun, but soon she’ll move and I’ll have just me. She’s away this week and I got a flavor of living alone. Although I’ve done it before (3 months over the summer during the internship) that felt more like a stop gap and this feels more real – there is no end to how long this tenure could be.

Which leads me to how my last few days have been. I’ve fallen into this routine of getting home, trying to put things away in their place, make myself some chai, have it in my patio overlooking the woods and then eat a light dinner streaming an episode of Masterchef or such.  I’ve begun reading too, which is a welcome relief from having lost out on that habit for the 2 years of the MBA.

Do I like it? Nope. Not one bit.

Not only am I not motivated to cook for just one person, the energy of the house of just me in it seems withdrawn. I’m a people person – Im always always surrounding myself with friends, and they energize me the most. When I have friends over, I go out of my way to cook, serve, clean and do things I cant bring myself to do for me. I may crave a pancake which I wont make for one person, or another cup of chai which takes too much effort.

More than the effort of doing things and cooking, is the fact that I tend to ruminate in my thoughts much more, bouncing my thoughts off the walls, switching to Sinatra and the blues and wallowing a little more.. So many people around me have babies and their own lives that I want to NOT be the single friend whose intruding all the time. While I enjoy solitude at times, its loneliness that Im afraid of. Im not there – YET. And I don’t want to be.

Coming home to nothing, and no one without the anticipation of another person’s energy feels dull – Sometimes even the rustling and breathing of someone else in another room is enough to make one feel warm and secure. I miss walking into my parents room and quietly reading as my mom did something else – her quiet calm aura was comforting to be within.

I look around at some of my peers who are also living alone: one cant bear to be alone to the extent that she sends blast text msgs to a bunch of nearly every few mins of the day. Another speculates where her ex boyfriend was when he ‘liked’ her fb status at 3 am that morning. I want to exhibit neither of these traits – I want to learn to be at peace with myself, with being alone. Right now I feel that while I enjoy my own company and am comfortable ensconced in my thoughts, it’s the being alone I have to come to terms with.

Any life advice?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


There is a certain truth to young love being naive, foolish and spontaneous. There is also a great deal of good reason  in our parents wanting us to settle down early with the right person, its easier to give your heart away when you've haven't spent a long time collecting life experiences and along with it, baggage.

Today I look around me, at the friends I have and the ecosystem I live in, and the common recurrent theme is that everyone is so jaded, so scarred by some past life experiences that they're holding on tight, to something inside, to themselves lest they let go, that they're passing up on these fantastic people and opportunities that they're being granted.

What happened to the boy I wrote about a few blog posts ago, you may ask. I wrote an email a few days ago, closing that chapter. He went away and kept me sufficiently 'hooked' so that I'd feel adequately special, but not committed. Occasional 'I miss u babe' sms's and pictures etc denoted interest, but not a promise. I closed that loop recently - I cant be the girl who holds on because I cant let go. I also think that if a guy likes me enough, he should be able to overcome his fears (or well do it together) and vice versa.

I met someone else who unexpectedly took my breath away, for a few days before he put a screeching halt to even getting to know each other because he's had a bad past experience. I'm a fantastic girl, he said - exactly the kind he wants to put a ring around.. BUT he's too scarred, too afraid to give his heart away again.

I'm SO tired of being exactly the kind of girl every guy wants, or that fantastic girl that EVERYONE lets get away. I'm tired of hearing the 'It's not you, its me' story. I'm tired of meeting spineless boys who wont take that chance on me. I'm tired of sharing myself, and tired of learning to get over moments.

This guy is perfect: he is a gentleman, chivalrous, opens doors, is ambitious, driven, smart, loving - EVERYTHING. yet, he was dating someone I knew who dumped him (badly). When i hear that girl talk about what she wants, it sounds like a guy exactly like him, yet when she had him, she let him go.

Do we all do this I wonder? Do we let go of things sitting right under our noses? When I think of all the boys I've turned down for one reason or the other, I wonder how unhappy I would have truly been had I ended up saying yes to any of them.. I suspect not very .. guess I was just chasing a fairy tale, wanting to fill in a missing space, or add another note to the rhythm.. think what I'm looking for may not exist. So let me restate, and re-evaluate and see if its asking for too much.

A MAN [ not boy ] who is ambitious and passionate about life and other things, who will love me and my flaws as I will his, a man who can be a boy and ride rollercoasters with me and be a child with me, a man who will know what to do when Im falling apart and whose arms I feel safe in. A man who is respected by others and who respects others.. A man who can talk about life and love and the economy and business, someone I will look upto. A man with a bucket list, a man with love to give and a life to share.

Too much?

Graduation Toast..

I was nominated to give my class toast at our graduation banquet... it was a memorable event, and Im glad I got to speak on behalf of my 262 classmates.. here is my toast for posterity and a picture..

Toast for Graduation
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We did it! Survived Accounting, Finance and Statistics just like Tina said we would [After my midterm grades I was fairly certain I’d be stuck in the first semester forever ] BUT, its over. All too soon, I’d say.
This is a great moment, we’re finally all set to do what EVERY professor has been gearing us up to do -leverage our synergies with corporate long term strategies. J Its also a sad moment, we’re all probably feeling the pressure to be responsible adults now. Fingers crossed that that actually happens.
Two years ago, at orientation, Dean Hirst had said that he wants us to have a couch to crash at wherever in the world we go. Looking around me and all my classmates travels over this time I can safely say we’ve all heeded that advice. Dean Hirst and Tina both also reached out to all of us asking us to mingle with people representing 33 countries  from all over the world and not just stay confined to familiar faces. I can safely say, on behalf of all the international students that we’ve had a wonderful time being a part of this community; we’ve felt welcomed and loved.  Whether it was international night, or the Uno international dinner series, it was great having an opportunity to showcase our cultures to such a wonderfully embracing set of people.
Looking back at these two years, we’ve been through a lot together. I’m thankful for being a part of the best cohort [ UNOS ] and for having had the most memorable two years of my life.  
We all have someone to thank for being here today, parents or spouses who’ve made sacrifices to support us one way or the other. My parents are here today, without whom I know I would be nothing. Thank u mom and dad…
Here’s to our wonderful family, friends, classmates, faculty, school. Here’s to a new beginning.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Finding that something

Today was the second last day of my MBA. I honestly have NO idea how and where my two years have gone. This ending is turning out to be more bittersweet, turbulent and emotional than I thought it would be. After all, I'm 28 and "all grown up" now, right? I should be SO excited to start my life, get paid, have a normal life? Au contraire, I sit by my bed with a glass of wine, with a coldplay playlist on spotify, desperately trying to convince myself to write this paper when all I can do is think of everything that's fallen behind me and how much I dont want to move past this crossroad. A lot of people I care about will leave Austin and move to other places in the US for their jobs, I'll move into my new house- my first (long term) live-by-myself experience.

It's amazing that these melancholic feelings are clouding the excitement that my parents are coming here in 2 days AND the fact that I just booked my tickets for a Chicago-Boston-Bufalo-New York trip in June.

In my High Tech Marketing class our Professor left us with a lot of things to think about. I spent all day going back to his words, letting them swirl in my mind.

"Give your life to something you're passionate about : No one ever went to their grave thinking 'DAMN, I should've spent more time at the office"

"When you begin work, save up enough money to build a "FUCK YOU" fund. A years worth of pay. So that if ever, in your working life someone asks you to compromise on your principles, or go against your ethics you are not bound by the argument of 'I have a wife and Kids, I don't have a choice". We sent a lot of students from this institution, good people just like y'all to place called Enron. Today, they're all unemployable." 

"Find that one thing that makes you want to wake up everyday, and the one thing that makes you want to go home each night" 

"When you were undergrads, it was your employers responsibility to hone your skills. You're now at the very tip of the iceberg, the top 2% of the world which gets a top masters degree from a top school. What's your value proposition? Find one."

He showed us a picture of his family, a very lovely one and said those are his three reasons to go home each night, and thanked us for being the reason he wakes up each day. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's not always rainbows and butterflies..

The one thing I've been trying to understand - about life, and myself is how to break down a feeling and understand where its coming from, or whether it makes sense. For the rational, in control, determined to be in charge of her feelings and not be a basket case woman inside me, I always seek to rationalize my feelings, ration them out in quantities that dont exceed a quota, and justify them in my head so I know I'm not doing anything I'll regret. Now we all know that's just a desperate attempt to not let the other person have the upper hand and know that I'm vulnerable enough to be hurt. It's like Meredith Gray said 'Intimacy is an 8 letter word for 'here, take my heart and grind it into hamburger paste''.

Where am i coming from, or going with all this? I think I'm so jaded with my past experiences that today I see myself as a cynical, realist, controlling woman. This guy has been spending most of his awake time with me, and has made me feel nothing short of beautiful and YET, I find it hard to let go, to say what I want to OR to believe fully that this could be a big deal for him.

In my own right, I need to know whether I'm just getting carried away by the prettiness of the last month - the newness of the feeling, the butterflies in my tummy which I didnt think existed, the headrush and giddiness of some soft, lingering moments, the intimacy of some dinners - things which for the past few years had just faded into distant memories for me. Things I thought I had locked away the capability of feeling with my broken heart. I dont know I'm just engulfed in a tornado of adrenaline or whether this guy is carving a niche for himself. I dont know whether I'm falling in love with the moment, or with him, with the feeling I feel around him, or him.
Or are the moments and the feelings BECAUSE, and not inspite of him?

If I am beginning to fall for him, should I be longing to speak to him all the time, and love how he treats me or how he looks or how he speaks or how he does something nonchalantly when no ones looking? Am I wrong or is this confusing? How do you know? I NEED TO - before I make the mistake of thinking I'm in love with someone or something, and it turns out to be a mirage.

I also tend to throw around the word LOVE a lot. I tend to be deeply passionate about my feelings - a see-saw of great and bad, and there are rarely moments when I am non commital about my opinion. Therefore there's a lot of love and hate, and rarely 'like' when Im concerned. Is that another mistake? Could I just be in 'like' with him? or just infatuation?

The greatest part of this story is, when Im around him, Im this great confident ' I have options other than you big fella' type hard to get attitude around him - a signature trademark of mine. I have met my match. Till date, Ive always met boys who've been unabashed about being crazy about me, and its easier to have the upper hand. This one, ah this one knows how to keep himself at bay. We play the 'Im going to keep the ball in my court' game a lot - and we're both determined to not be the first / only one putting himself/herself out there. gah!

Why put myself out there when I can just do it here?! :-/  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I've had a great last few months - Turkey, a lot of fun and partying, meeting new people.. so I guess its only fair to go through a bad phase. Its the law of averages .. Since the past two days in my usual style of pretending I'm stronger than I actually am, I've been ignoring how bad I'm actually feeling about a few things.

My parents may not make it to graduation. 3 weeks away from the day they should be arriving, it looks like they cant make it. I'm trying to be practical and sensible and acknowledge that there are far greater, important reasons why they cant make it - and I know and understand that. BUT when I play the moment of receiving my degree and looking out to the crowd, knowing there'll be no one looking back at me whose my person feels awful. Graduation here is a big deal, and everyone will have family and friends visiting. I have no family in the US and my two best friends in the US recently had babies and both will be unable to come too.. I have to put up a brave front to my parents and everyone else whose been asking me 15 times a day because I hate being weak. There are soo many people here, friends and professors who've been asking to meet my parents, and everyday going through the 'I dont think they're coming' routine met with the sympathetic 'WHY?!' and proposing solutions to problems they know nothing about is wearing me out.

I also feel like someone knocked the wind out of me with this other thing. You know when you meet someone and spend time with them without realizing how much they're growing on you. I dont think I realized how much I was beginning to like him until now. He leaves Austin for almost 2 months starting the next 2 weeks, and then moves to California. for good. This would've been ok had it been the earlier dissociated me - but something happened. I think I let myself fall - i think i opened up and let go of thinking and just spent the last month being swept off my feet - wined and dined and date to the prom this Saturday. It's been MAGIC. real butterfly in stomach inducing.. because for ONCE In my life I wasn't trying to control the situation, or my feelings or holding back. There were SO MANY 'firsts' in this equation - I wont call it a relationship, because it isnt. There  were pretty pretty moments I had reconciled in my head aren't real, there were so many moments that were perfect.

I just found out he leaves for such a long tme. Its also my fault, I didnt ask. Maybe I dint want to know? Either way, he's leaving. And that's breaking my heart. I won't ask him and I won't say. I think if he wants me to wait, or doesnt want to let me go, he needs to have the courage and tell me, and not let go like others have. I want this to be different, I want this to be the one that makes it through all odds, and I wont be the one putting myself out there first. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Complete Awe.

Today I touched a stone dated the 2nd century B.C at the Ephesus - in Izmir. I am in complete awe of the architecture and the stone carvings we saw today - although these were ancient ruins, it isn't hard to imagine the grandeur of the city that once existed. This is by far the oldest civilization ruins i've been to, and had a completely phenomenal day today. As I ran my hands over the icy cold jagged marble I felt a chill go through my body knowing that THOUSANDS of years ago this was a city where people like me lived in surroundings and a lifestyle completely alien to me. I loved the amphitheater and the seating - the library which housed 12,000 scrolls and the columns which depicted gods in their chariots and soldiers. It was almost like a fairy tale.

What i also loved about today was the drive through the Turkish countryside. You really get a feel of the city when you see its different facets and not just the commercial touristy facade. Away from the humdrum of the bustling city of Istanbul, lies a Turkey which is beautiful and serene, a collection of smaller, well developed, cosmopolitan cities. I am in Izmir, where my friend G belongs, in her PALACE of a house. Im not even kidding, we have an atrium and 3 floors - and we're each living in one room on different floors!  Today we drove for close to 5 hours from Izmir to Ephesus and then Ephesus to Pamukkale. I loved the rustic countryside - its fantastic how little things change - the attire of the people, the food, the houses.. I was enchanted. Turkey really has fascinated me and I am leaving behind a little bit of my heart here, with G&A, and their wonderful hospitality, and their parents who opened their homes and hearts to us.

Pamukkale was a bit of an anticlimax since I was expecting something to blow my mind. From google pictures I was expecting something completely breathtaking, and although it was beautiful, there wasn't much water in the pools since they closed it due to the winter. The BITING cold dint help either.

I'm doing a terrible job of documenting a trip i wish i could store each minute of, but given the fact that I've slept 4 hours since 2 days AND theres turkish tea waiting for me and a photo go through session (we took 2300 photos on this trip with 2 days to go.), Im going to go :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


In the last week, I've picked up a fair amount of Turkish. A standing joke is when I say 'welcome'.
I asked G how to say welcome in Turkish and it translates into 'Hosgeldiniz' (which literally means welcome to my country/home/city etc NOT the welcome you say after someone thanks you) G didn't know that at the time and gave me this translation. So basically, for close to 5 days, J and i went around town saying 'Hosgeldiniz' WHENEVER someone said 'Tesserkuler' which is Thank you. basically we've welcomed them somewhere when they've thanked us. NO WONDER we got these confused looks.

Anyway as my trip draws to a close I look back and wish i had blogged each day. Instead in my usual last minute fashion I will try to encapsulate as much of my trip as possible. Starting with today - when we did the turkish bath. The 'Hamam' or the Turkish bath is this centuries old tradition in which people are 'bathed' (literally by other people) in a public place (as in there are other people, but it is enclosed, private). We went to an extremely traditional and old bath - the historical cagaloglu . There is a part of me thats a bit traumatized by being almost naked with about 8 other women with an old Turkish woman scrubbing me down. and i mean and then soaping and scrubbing and massaging. If it dint feel bloody fantastic, I'd be having nightmares. Apparently there is a tradition that before the bride gets married, her mother in law organizes a hamam for her and all the women bathe together and dance? getting naked in front of your mother in law seems a reasonable enough celebration.

I love how Istanbul is a juxtaposition of ancient vs. modern - almost everyday we drive past the Dolmabache palace and go to the Tram station - which for me is absolutely fantastic.
Think i need to document this trip a little more when i am less sleepy. watch this space. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012


My last spring break ever. The next few blog posts in the coming months will probably feature a lot of lasts, as I approach my graduation date for the last degree of my life. I decided to do something memorable these two weeks that i had and decided to fly to Istanbul. This wasn't as spontaneous as it sounds, as it was a plan that was conceived in my head since a while - there were two Turkish exchange students in my program over the fall semester with whom I had become really close, and when they were leaving to come back home to Turkey, we couldn't bear the thought of not seeing each other infinitely so I said ill come during the spring break. Little did I know, I'd actually do it. 

I asked a friend who I know loves to travel if she wanted to go with me. She put her apprehensions of not knowing these two friends of mine well and we booked our tickets over the christmas break. 

Having spent 26 years of my life living with my parents and subsequently having moved to the US for my MBA, making trips like this makes me feel alive, energized and keeps me going. I've traveled a LOT in these last 1.5 years on my student budget, but this was by far my most memorable trip so far. 

First of all, theres something to be said about Turkish Hospitality. G, my friend whose house we're staying at drove about an hour, picked us from the airport and has been exceptionally wonderful even though we're staying at her house for 2 weeks. its a lot of time to have guests stay over. Her brother who lives with her over the weekends has moved to her cousins house for these two weekends so we girls can have the house to ourselves. I feel so bad, but at the same time they're such wonderful people that they make it seem as though they're doing whats right, and this shows how truly warm, caring and generous they really are. 
A, my other Turkish friend actually studies in Stockholm - but flew down for these two weeks to hang out with us. Another thing I'll always feel wonderful about - he didn't have to, and as a student, with budget and time constraints, he fit us in. 

Everything is PERFECT, except one teeny meeny thing and I guess tis bothering me so much that although I wanted to document my first week here I constantly find myself reverting to the same thoughts. Two days ago, the friend I am here with, J - one my of really good friends from school had a giant outburst. She was switched off from the previous night and was snapping at my all evening and woke me up the next day saying she's going to make me breakfast as she wanted to talk to me. I woke up immediately as I dint know what was wrong and tried talking to her as she made coffee with no response. I should probably back up here and say J has had similar outbursts with me before and they've centered around her insecurities, her negative self perceptions, weight issues etc, I've spent a fair amount of time over the last year awake all night listening to her talk about this, and most of the time she projects this onto me by not talking to me for  a while, or just snapping at me randomly. I tend to always compensate for this by saying its a phase and I've never held it against her, but now I feel as though I've crossed my threshold... considering I'm a very relaxed person, even reaching my threshold is hard enough let done crossing it.

So this outburst was triggered by being in a bag shop the previous night. we were surrounded by enpensive branded bags and its a weakness of mine. although i went into the store with no intention of even looking around [ g wanted to buy a bag for her mom ] I ended up asking for wallets in the first few minutes that i entered. this basically meant the 3 store owners showered me with prada and gucci wallets and apple tea and small conversation about where I'm from and how pretty my hair is. Apparently, no one showed J any bags at the time [ she dint ask for any ] and this upset her. I had NO clue. I spent a few minutes fawning over the $1500 wallets decided I'd rather pay my rent and once the store keepers decided i was a lost sale turned ALL their attention to J, who bought 4 bags. She was upset that wherever we go, people gravitate to me, that we were staying in Istanbul in my friends house, that A's mom loved me, that I am very popular and she feels like my shadow and doesn't know how to be more like me and she tries so hard. this was the gist of the conversation that went on for 3 hours with about 2/3rd of it spent crying on J's part.

This has angered and upset me for more reasons than one. Firstly, i would assume that a 28 yr old rational thinking person would know that salespeople in a store are not interested in how nice you are, and only in how much they think you can spend. I clearly come across as a lovestruck fool when surrounded by Prada and Ferragamo and look like a easy prey. It was a terrible feeling to hear one of my best friends in the MBA say 'Everyone just automatically loves you, i don't know how you do it  and i hate it' - I hated hearing her say that as though I follow an algorithm that makes people like me. i felt even worse knowing that someone I love so much harbors such negative feelings towards me.
Secondly, all this boils down to insecurity - I've reached a point where Im tired of having her negative self impression projected onto me as thought its my fault. I've been there for her on many many occasions listening to her talk about how she feels and now I've reached a breaking point.
if she has such a low self esteem, she needs to do something about it. she has major weight issues and keeps talking to me about how fat she feels - I've offered to go to gym with her, diet with her, be her calorie counter - whatever support she needs, but she hasn't taken me up on anything. Theres a part of me that truly believes that if she were to lose weight, and find a boy who adores her, she would feel differently about herself. I have run out of sympathy for someone who has correctly diagnosed what her problems are and refuses to do anything about it.

The thing is, having outbursts like the one she did two days ago is a vicious cycle. By saying all these things about how she feels about herself and me, G and I spent time trying to validate what a great person she is. BUT this doesn't help. because its a temporary bandage - its a cry for attention and then when that need is fulfilled by people saying how awesome she is, she no longer feels the need to work at anything until its been a month and she suddenly feels like she needs more attention.

I know if I re-read what I've written there are parts of me that are being brutally nasty right now, but I stand by what i think. I am truly tired of feeling bad about her having to deal with these problems, but at the same time, Im sick of putting myself out there so much as well. I can't not be who i am, and I am a loud, talkative person who loves making conversation with people and if that endears me to them, I don't see a reason why I should feel guilty about it. I have been being awkward and conscious around her since the last few days and i DONT want this to ruin my trip. I almost feel like a terrible friend, but she's talking about planing a trip to Europe next and I know for CERTAIN - I won't be on it with her. 

A few blog posts ago I wrote about how we need to be our own advocates, how it is so important to love and respect the person you are and to comfortable in your own skin and now more and moore I think I am thankful to my upbringing and my life experiences that have made me who i am. You need to believe in your accomplishments and your character and know that you're the best you can be - if not, work towards it. I believe a life without self actualization, without a constant quest to be better and do better, without a feeling of reaffirmation from within is an empty life. i also think that your self perception should be driven by what YOU think about yourself, not what someone else thinks about you. too many people spend too much time trying to get a group of people to like them by doing things out of character, superficial gestures.. when that time is better spent just being you, just letting go of 'Trying' and just 'Being'. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

The New World Order

I am currently enrolled in a class called International Business Fellows. This class has a mix of MBA's, students from the law school, the school of public affairs, middle eastern studies and foreign policy. Each week we discuss current international affairs topics and we have super renowed speakers, ex militia, [ 2 weeks ago, the head of the national security and advisor to the President of the United States, a retd Admiral spoke to us. ] I love this class even though it goes 3 hours. One of our assignments is to write a 4 page paper each week on the topics we discussed. I love this class and find that I am learning so much that I will occasionally put up my papers [ condensed, removing speaker references and external opinions and just leaving mine ] for posterity and for me to come back to years from now. The topic of this paper was to critique the theories of International politics and come up with a world order, if possible. I got an A for this paper :) 

"This week the topic under consideration is the new world order and how the international community should interact and also how the US should feature in the new scheme of things.
I found this class particularly interesting – firstly because it taught me many new concepts and made me think about things I would usually not consider. I will briefly touch upon topics like ‘Wilsonianism’ and ‘Global Zero’ which are concepts I spent time understanding even after the class was over.

In thinking of the new world and how dynamics of international policy will, or should evolve in this century, it is important to first consider the unit of importance and Prof. touched on this as well- Is it the country that matters? Civilizations? Non-public actors? Geographical boundaries? Who and what should be accountable to whom? Determining this ‘hierarchy’ in the system would enable us to find a starting point in International politics, since it is the ‘system’ that provides incentives for human economic and political behavior. I think I would uphold countries as the sovereign entity as a ‘unit’ in the system – only because it would make the most sense in a political, social and economic context.

The readings speak of different theories of world dynamics. While I agree with some aspects of all of them, I could not bring myself to wholly commit to any one school of thought. For instance, while I do believe that world politics is driven by competitive self-interest which is a part of the theory of realists, I also think that in today’s converging economic and political situation we would evolve a better world if nations behaved not only in their own, but also in global interest. In short, realists believe that mankind’s basic nature is not to behave in an ethical and benevolent manner always, but is rather driven by an aggressive, competitive spirit.  I agree in part, but at the same time, there is a part of me who is an idealist who believes that man can be trusted to be good, and do good, unless provoked otherwise.

This is where the ‘security dilemma’ that the Prof. speaks of comes into play. The perception of power (actual or perceived) can upset political and trade balance between countries.  Breaking this example down into easy to understand terms I believe idealism will work until there is a perception of balance of power and the existence of an ethical and fair playing ground. So long as everyone trusts everyone else and is given no reason to think otherwise, free trade, market liberalization, political goodwill will exist, which will breakdown the minute there is a disruption in the balance of power. Therefore, I am wary of both theories, but probably argue that components of both would work in different circumstances.

In todays converging world of increasing global context where countries are wound together economically, politically, where no one part of the world can be buffered by goings’on in another part of the world, I think liberalism is definitely imperative to further impetus to world growth. I agree with three main policies of liberalism – the support of democracy to emerge globally, free trade, liberal economies and politics. Democracy is inherently a people’s system – and therefore probably more peace promoting than other political system. I have mixed feelings about the interventionist policy that liberalism promotes – of more powerful sovereign states interfering in the domestic affairs of other smaller sovereign states in order to pursue liberalist objectives.

On the same lines, thinking about China’s foreign policy as stated in the readings which says that Beijing argued that national governments should be the sole legitimate users of force within their boundaries. Even to this day, if we look at Chinese investments in politically and economicaly unstable Africa, they’re solely driven by energy and other economically driven objectives. China does not expect to exert any political will on Africa, nor does it hold Africa to any standards of imposing political stability in its own country. In other words, it’s not being the moral policeman that the west would try to be with developing countries. A few years ago when the US was not reeling in economic debt, and had the option to, it opted out of investing in Africa citing stability as an issue. China had no such moral concerns, and it continues wide scale investment as well as deeper penetration and (in my opinion) exploitation of Africa.

Which segways nicely into the new emerging world order – the rise of the east. I recently read both Friedman books – The world is flat, as well as ‘The way we used to be’ and I firmly believe that both capture in essence, what’s happening today, and why.

The end of the cold war freed up 2 billion new consumers for America – but on the flip side, it created new competitors. New countries which saw the American life, and with their new open markets and technological exchange learned to make things better and faster and cheaper while America was playing the part of ‘Too big to fail’. The reading where we exploit the myth of American exceptionalism was extremely accurate in my opinion, where one of the biggest mistakes America has made is thinking it does not have to work as hard as other countries to stay competitive stay innovative and that its power is permanent. Complacency has been the downfall of the west – with emerging markets fighting hard to stimulate their economy and evolve into serious competitors.

Today we live in a world where nothing and no country is too big to fail. We’re inheriting a world of debt and crisis and it is truly the survival of the fittest. Look at the Eurozone – once hailed a brilliant master move to promote free trade and create a new superpower almost, we see how just bringing currencies into one euro has led to the breakdown of this new system. The imbalance in debt and economic policies between member countries has led to the disintegration of all things good about this system in the first place.

A few decades ago, jobs all moved east – to China, India. Now we see jobs moving centrally – to Africa – at some point in this century or the next, we will be saturated – no country will have competitive advantage over the other in terms of manufacturing with the scarcity of resources making things equally expensive. I believe we will reach a point in time where most of the population of the world’s poor will move into the middle class, and no country will have competitive advantage of having a burgeoning middle class to offer as consumers to woo bigger companies to invest in FDI’s. At that point, I think the world order and the balance of power will lie with the countries willing to be tough, aggressive, inflective, competitive, and innovative. It will lie with the countries willing to continuously strive to be better than itself and not believe in its established credentials.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

No matter what I do

I wore my knee high boots for almost 6 hours today. What a joyous day it was, strutting around in shoes I KNOW people were checking out. Hellyeh! It was great to wear them to school since the moment I was reaching a point of excruciating pain, I had a class and was seated 1.5 hours to balance out the ache. By the time class got done my feet could take another 10-15 mins of walking.

On other note, tomorrow is Valentines day. Every single persons nightmare? No, really. My facebook wall is full of all the single people poking fun of valentines, how ridiculous it is, how everyone's getting married and they're getting awesome and all that jazz. We learnt a lesson very early in life - sour grapes. Its easy to pretend to not want something when you dont have it already but most of your friend list does. It's in bad humor to belittle their day. Really? do you really NOT want a guy / girl to surprise you with something absolutely fantastic and shower you with love and affection?! You say yes, and Im King Kong.

I got home to a package on my front door and a few seconds of gushing who it could be and what not I realized it was for my roommate - she's married. I thought it was absolutely adorable of her husband [ long distance ] we had a brief conversation about that and she was all happy and said 'he shouldnt have' to which i said 'of course he SHOULD'VE!' Social cliches aside, like it or lump it, you cannot ignore this day. I'm irritated with people on my facebook being frumpy and groaning about how it is a media gimmick, sales pitch and what not.

It is! I agree! But maybe, MAYBE, a congregation of women got together in the 1700's and realized that men are such fools that they need to create a day to impose societal pressure on men to acknowledge and appreciate women. If not, men would'nt ever feel the need to! This is a great thing! and social cliches are fantastic. they're every unimaginative man's best answer.

Think of your boyfriend being madly in love with you, but just being a complete NUMBNUT when it comes to expressing himself. If he were to choose a complete romantic cliche and propose in a basketball game, or with letters flying across a plane or hide a ring in your wine glass, it wouldn't be the worst, would it? I'd go so far as to say that men need to collude and make an encyclopedia of 'how to's' to refer in dire straits.

I love valentines day. I love having a day where you can unabashedly receive flowers at your workplace and walk around dreamy have a date in the evening or receive a gift in the mail... not that any of these things has happened to me BUT i like them nonetheless.
How am I celebrating it you ask? I'm going to my girl Anne's house and we're hanging out - 25 of us single folks who have 'plans' for the evening of feb 14th - lest anyone ask. We'll have wine and cheese and desert, and mostly, good company. Sounds perfect to me!

And oh, shout out to my boy Nelly and my all time favorite song he ever sang - Dilemma.