p for paradox.

"I'M SIGNIFICANT!!!…screamed the dust speck."

cognizance at 30.

I turned 30 yesterday. Cannot deny that there is some subtle nameless feeling about not being able to say I am 20-something. Not necessarily a bad feeling OK. As they say – once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.

Why I decided to scribble these lines is primarily with the intention that I will someday feel like coming back to these. Just a reminder of where I was at this very moment – thoughtfully and emotionally. And then have some sort of a self amusement review! I haven’t for once thought of these as ‘lessons in life’ but I wouldn’t mind if they are treated that way! This is what has worked for me so far. Something to mark the 30 milestone, in no particular order….


  1. Restlessness is good. Reacting impatiently to that restlessness is not.  I have always been a restless soul. But what I am still learning is that patience is not about waiting while nothing is happening. Patience is about our behavior when nothing seems to happen. We think things are not moving but actually they very well might be.
  2. Know thy name J Understand the origin and meaning of your name. It is always a good conversation starter across cultural boundaries.  But remember that the World speaks different languages  – Have fun with people  as they annihilate the pronunciation of your name. It can be funny and it can be ironic. My name? Well, all I can say is that my parents had high hopes :/
  3. Read more. I wish I would read more. And more. In the last one year I have invested more time and money in books than any previous year(s). And I can feel my brain appreciating that J Just finished my 10th book of 2014 in the first quarter. Well on track for this year.
  4. Deal with difficult conversations when confronted. Be honest. Don’t run away.
  5. Do your own research when working with consultants. Question a lot.
  6. It is regret only if you decide not to learn anything from it. Your decisions make you. Take ownership for where you are, how you are and whom you are with. Taking risks is a decision. And I am not talking about jumping out of a plane in the Alps with a parachute. Well that too, but risks about living. About career. About life. About love. And about letting go. Bad decisions make interesting stories. But there is a moral in every story.
  7. Drink more water. You can drink more water than you can ever imagine.
  8. Have some values. Simple values to live by. These help in decision making at cross roads if you are strong enough to use them as deal breakers. It could be a heavy weight value such as integrity or a simple to sound (but tough to execute) trait such as happiness.  Because if you don’t stand for much, you’ll fall for anything.
  9. Being lonely is not the same as being alone is not the same as being single.
  10. Relationships matter. Find ‘your’ people. Those who help you grow, those who grow because of you. With whom conversations are a flow and being yourself around them is a default state of being. With whom even the arguments are worthy enough to be priority. Those people whom you can call up without calculating time zones. The people who really care will still care whether they agree with you or not.
  11. Money is important. It does, to a level, free you of the thoughts of uncertainty. It also plays an important role if you want to experience different things in life – be it travel or food or new technology. But as Maslow would have put it, only till the point of having a safe buffer. It won’t even get you close to the level of respect and esteem. I am thankful for being at a comfortable space. But it is not a panacea to my restlessness. I don’t think the love for money is wrong. I think love for ONLY money is extremely wrong. Save money. At least enough to take risks in life if you’d like to.
  12. Listening to your heart is SO underrated. Even if it brings a chaos in your life. The chaos is always temporary. Find that voice in the noise. For what its worth, no one knows you better than your inner voice. We think we know this but we always seem to look for external consolations and support.
  13. There will always be that white whale in everyone’s life. Deal with yours.
  14. The definition of success keeps changing as we keep achieving our goals. This brings me to the realization that being successful is different from winning. Its like completing an ultramarathon vs. running a sprint, respectively. When I started working 9 years back I had what I thought was a ‘plan’. Didn’t quite stick to it. This phenomenon, in hindsight, is what we call life.
  15. Being spiritual has helped me more than being religious. For one, I have started identifying the stark similarities in all religions.
  16. Pay for your parents’ vacations if you can – end to end. As many times as you can afford to. I swear it won’t even get you close to what they have invested in you.
  17. Smile at strangers.
  18. Live outside your home town for a long duration. If possible, your home country. Cook your own food. Howsoever many times you have heard this, this is one of my best learnings in the last 30 years, starting from the moment I completed XII.  Push yourself out in a way you feel encouraged and confident. It won’t always be fun. But the growth curve is so steep, no other experience comes close. Grateful.
  19. It is possible to make real friends for life at your workplace.
  20. Parking tickets hurt more than speeding tickets. In fact there have been ridiculously ‘expensive’ speeding tickets that have actually made me smile. I guess its because parking tickets was your fault for your stupidity. Speeding tickets was you having fun. Maybe stupid fun. Maybe its just me. Maybe I should delete this point. :/
  21. Acceptance is more than just tolerance. And respect is much much more than just acceptance. Respect other people’s beliefs. Understanding WHY they believe what they believe is more important than the notion itself. Just keep reminding yourself that the sheer geographical point of reference of our birth has defined most of who we are. But it is only upto us how we live the rest of it.
  22. Travel. Sometimes for an escape, but mostly for deliberate curiosity. Also, it is never too late to start. No matter how frequently we travel, we must realize there will always be some places left out. And that’s kind-of ok. But remember, wherever you go, there you are! And yes, when you are sleeping overnight at an airport, put a wake up note. People are generally kind to not let you miss your early morning flight. Ummm, why sleep at an airport in the first place, you ask? Just do it!
  23. Take time to enjoy your food.
  24. Play. I mean a sport. I learnt this a bit late in life, but hell yeah now I am writing about it. Pick a sport and go crazy over it. Get around people who push you to do better at that sport. Invest in training. It will influence all other aspects of your life. Anything will work – Team sport will make you better at your external relationships, Solo sports will define your relationship with yourself. There is no better way to handle your weaknesses. In the end, it is all a mind’s play. Dopamine rocks.
  25. Good music is good music. I wouldn’t care less for what genre it is stereotyped in. Good music becomes better music with awesome speakers. While driving.
  26. Trust people by default. Usually everybody is not out there to destroy you. Unless you have pissed them off big time of course, even then, at most they will just ignore you.  We are anything but the center of the universe. A mere speck. This is a pretty deep realization.
  27. Watch ted talks. Starting from the one on the Golden circle.
  28. Do crazy stuff. But without hurting anyone. If you are not young and wild, you wont be old and wise – my favorite birthday greeting. Who knows, you might just remain wild as you grow old. Good for you! Some of the best moments in life will be the ones you can’t rave about.
  29. Depression makes the heart go stronger.
  30. I watch less TV than ever before and I feel I have more than 24 hours a day for myself. You don’t realize that you really don’t like watching TV unless you stop doing that. Internet explosion comes with a right of choice. Read and watch at your own convenience.

Summing it all up is the most basic of the realization is that “I think…..” is not the same as “I feel……”. It is always calming to stay conscious about this difference. I am not trying hard to figure it all out anymore, but someday I might.

Because the journey of  ‘Being YOU’ always kicks the whim of ‘being perfect’s ass.



Despicable words.

1. idiosyncrasies

can make or break a relationship. Can make and break the same relationship. These are weaknesses which symbolize selfishness. Makes you realise your behaviour is your own baggage. Patience is such an external phenomenon. The turmoil that boils inside is what characterizes you.

2. priority

is such an illusion. A curse. Distorts everything. It’s like telling everybody, come mess with me. Because you build it up based on your past and rest it on the future.

3. compromise

is the nemesis of courage. There is a rather thin line between the two. Just like that thread between ‘Let it be’ and ‘Giving up’. If we don’t understand this, we can’t keep moving.

Over time, how you change yourself, is your decree. your truth, your triumph. How you change others, is your sin. There is nothing like a right or wrong, it all comes down to perspective. Maybe a level deeper, it all comes down to doubt. And that brings about restlessness – the trigger of all failures. And achievements. Yes, maybe at times it takes a lot of distance to get a third person’s view for your own self. And then it hits you that all those who wander are in fact lost. Wonderfully lost. And you know what, ironically, Pain is the most positive message among all these. Because it wakes us up in a way no alarm clock ever can.

#Learnings of the free shadow.

When it grows on you, it helps you grow.


duh, Music.

It’s funny when it doesn’t get dark even until eleven at night and your comrades are an online playlist and a magazine. Sometimes, insomnia can be literally, an eye-opener. And if you do keep your eyes (and ears) open, you can rediscover a song, its expression, its music, and in turn, yourself. Yes, you have met all of them before, and you thought you knew them all. But for the ability of the symphonies to prove you wrong.

Music is surprise. You can listen to that one song a million times and yet find a new beat every time. A drum beat, or a heart beat. It doesn’t really matter, it is all the same family.

I usually end up looking at the lyrics of a song if I like its music. Just to be sure that I understand it correctly. And of course there is always a line or two in every song that you just don’t get. I don’t get.

Music is a healer, better than time. Much better than indifference. There are times when I try to turn my back to despair and withdraw. But beautiful music can help you face it up so strongly. When the strings of the guitar strum their way through in harmony, there is an exclamation mark after every breath. The sigh changes to a giggle and the frown converts to insight.

Music is truth. If you can face the music, you can face it all.Yes, it’s not all happy-go-lucky all the time. Music, after all, is not a joker. There are songs that can rip you apart, force you into oblivion & doubt as your emotions explode. There are songs I know if I hear I am inviting mental blankness. But I still listen to them. They are part of my favorites. The point is, as these rhythms and the meanings grow on you, you know at a moment how exactly you want to feel. What exactly you want to hear.

I am sure you know what I mean. Or you will.

Music is motivation. I don’t wonder at the creation of good symphony. Small bands, big bands, boy bands, no bands, solo composers, what not! What I wonder about is how we are not inspired by such energy all around. It would be so unfortunate that we didn’t hear a touching composition just because no one told us about it! Maybe there is so much of it encompassing us that it becomes part of our background noise. If that happens, you need the silence of 4 am. Just you and zero distractions.

Music is a good listener. With such heavenly applications all around us today, it feels like a genie is sitting out there and asking you  intermittently -“So, what should I play next, master? What does your mood seem like?”  And there you go! A song that you think was composed keeping you in mind! Such a companion!

I am no musician. I don’t know any technicalities that go into weaving out the most beautiful of melodies. And It shouldn’t matter. Because music cannot be a science. It cannot be just about the beat, or about the lyrics, or about the voice. It is about all this coming together in unison and much much more. I can’t judge music. I just want to keep it on. If I don’t like one song, maybe I will give it another try or maybe I wont. But the playlist shouldn’t end.



i want to play the hug o’war

When we were kids,
we played dog & the bone
and tippy tippy tap
with the colorful cone
they told us about hopscotch
and the tug o’war
i wonder
why didn’t they tell us about
the hug o’war.

i want to play the hug o’war
so whenever i feel sad and sore
i don’t think
& hug the first person i see
and here! you just shared a glee!

& they would run & hug the next soul
hold him or her around as a whole!
the only rule,
it must be a bear hug not a shy embrace
wouldn’t the world be a happier place?

oh they say you are mad
it’s not discreet it’s really bad
people will shoo u away if you do this
keep you at bay and not even miss.

but am i the only one
who likes this game, or is there none?
will they flee
away from me and away from the hug
think i am crazy and treat me like a bug.

what if that man in the corner also needs a hug
but all he gets is a cold shrug
& that sad one
wouldnt she be thinking the same
about the time when wisdom came,

we lost the kid in us
became super pretentious
we grew smart
so we smile less and we cry more
all we need to do is play the hug o’war!




I have three motivations behind scribbling the lines above. The first one is of course the dire need of a hug. In times of a solitary lifestyle, this is a frequent visitor, But yes, it’s just a phase. The second is the beautiful piece by Shel Silverstein, a gem of a poem. If I would have read his poem ‘hug o’war’ when I was a kid, I would have been a different person altogether today, and am sure, for the better. Thirdly, the striking realisation that the writeups I personally enjoy most are (incidentally?) the ones that are the most simply worded. Wishing for the only war this world should have ever seen, the hug o’war.


strange bed-fellows

I visited Sunday Scribblings after a bit of a break, and must say, am glad I did! Beautiful prompt! While writing The Tempest, Shakespeare wouldn’t have thought that centuries later,an amateur like me will be writing about this term! 🙂


what is the strangest thing? he asked
when paradoxes become compatible, I said
like in a soft sunset
the sun and the sky in a duet
the blue wooing the yellow
yes, these are strange bed fellows


but is there something stranger?
well, yes there is
when beauty is killed by gun
when many run and others stay mum
when life is deep but death is shallow
the past and the future become strange bed fellows.

5 things I learned while backpacking with my Father.

1. You are never too old to try new things.

When we decided to start gathering stuff for the 2 week vacation across various corners of switzerland and paris and berlin, I must admit, I was quite frightened with the primary ideas my parents had regarding packing. A big suitcase?! Are you kidding me! We are not at one place for more than 3 nights. That means 5 different locations!!! There is no way I am portaging that humongous suitcase everywhere. And then, in a humorous attempt, I showed Dad my smaller backpack and told him to use that. In the funniest of scenarios, he would pick it up, spin around his hands in all its pockets, maybe even wear it for fun and then say ‘No, thank you very much. I think I am good with the strolley!’

But then, I had ignored a very hard fact. He is not the very usual of those Dads approaching sixty. For someone who thought till a year back that backpacks are just bigger school bags, and for someone who doesn’t have the best of muscle pull records,it was quite alarming when he said – and I remember it clearly. “Ya!!This is good! Perfect”

What, really?!

And as they say, the rest is history.

We are back from the holiday of our lifetime and he has been more successful in handling the backpack than me. He is a pro at it and I wont be surprised if he decides to take a backpack for his official trips now! It might be the sheer excitement or the fact that he did actually find it comfortable, I don’t know. But he for sure looked cool. But the diligent daughter in me was so concerned in the first few days of holiday that I actually suggested we buy a big suitcase with 4 wheels! But then he said, it is just my delusion. And he was right.


2. Take responsibility for your own stuff

Having a backpack (& obviously on your back), it becomes a part of you when you travel.  And quite literally. Unlike a bag or a strolley, you are not carrying an extra piece along which you have to take care of all the time. Like a pet. Yes, the protruding back can become around 20 kgs heavier, but then, we as humans are used to carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. 😉 As Dad would have it, the backpack goes to exactly the same places as you do, touches the same ground when you are on a break, sees the world from the same angle as you do! Well, and if you love your freedom, you have 2 free hands all the time! Buying tickets, checking timings on bustops, getting on trains with the luggage, or even shopping for souvenirs, no reason for no backpack till now!

3. Settle your things first before offering to help others

Our last night in Berlin before we get back to Amsterdam and Dad was the first one to start packing. We were back from the day long trip at the Concentration camps at Sachsenhausen, which is outside the main city. Looking at the mess, we were in dire need of hiring some consultancy firm to tell us what strategy to use for the packing. But he knew that. We had a lot of adjustments to make, and couldn’t really leave anything to luck because of our carrier’s real strict luggage policies. You cannot get leverage by just smiling and talking to them nicely. So as Mom and I are almost snoring in the cosy mattresses, he is packing his way through. I cannot believe that at the end of a 2 week holiday, and with a pretty decent shopping spree, he comes up with more free space in the backpack than he originally had! (when I had helped him pack). Unbelievable! And as Mom starts struggling with the zips of her bag, he comes to the rescue and added almost one-third of her stuff in his backpack. There is definitely something wrong I thought to myself. Maybe he has donated a few of his clothes? Or forgot some of his stuff at previous locations? What is it?!!!!

4. You don’t need to iron clothes on a holiday!
Well, I take credit for this one. I think a lot of people don’t like using backpacks because clothes get squashed in there. I am sorry, clearly, when I say we are going to Davos, we are not going to the World Economic Forum to address international media. Keep the steam iron where it belongs!

5. Be prepared for Surprises – even from the things you thought you knew in and out!
We are loitering around at the airport at duty-free when my dad comes up to me fiddling with the strings of the backpack. “Did you know there is a small pocket in here too?”, he said. I replied, “No its just a belt, to tie around your waist. Its ergonomics” and started giggling! And then we both looked closely.


It is of course a pocket. The pocket that was destined to be my Father’s find. Something I had not managed to explore since its inception! It was too late to be used for this trip, but it will surely be over utilised in the next!


As I sit back and think about the trip we had, I wonder how exciting it would have been if my Mother also joined in the gang. I don’t see that happening though, but I am not complaining. If being with my Dad gives us the license to go crazy and try untried things and make funny noises to annoy strangers, it is the Mom-effect that brings everything back to senses. You can joke around with her, but the dad-daughter duo will always know – got to listen to the woman!

death no danger

i keep saying its abstruse
like that chase of the wild goose
the over dramatic three act play
balancing things in a funny way…

makes you deal with everything
sometimes in line of fire, others as a king
and ruthless
all in one
but all inspiring
like the midnight sun…

what you take of it
is what makes or breaks you
what it demands is the toughest
to smile, even when feeling blue…

and when you had plans
but they topple like a domino
you have to know the truth of the twist
it’s an unending learning list.


rip, papaji. 23mei’12.

back to the familiar pillow

Thirteen days. And after a long while I feel I deserve this sleep. That moment when you realise the truth in Tolkien’s words – “Not all those who wander are lost.”
The feeling of learning about a new reality reminds me of an older me. I am talking about the fabulous concoction of cultures, the random stopovers at streets and the beautiful league of languages – all in those last thirteen days. Yes, culture is a generalized word. But not too overstated. It’s a way of living. It’s not about blind faith, it’s about living those strong beliefs. Whether its taking your new-born on hiking trips or just not seeing the need of breaking traffic rules. It’s all about culture.

When one moment you feel like a stranger with a map and the other moment you are chatting with that 90-year-old chap on why he decided to spend his life in this country. The feeling of being just a small speck in the bewilderment of the universe is not new to me. But when this feeling does not discourage you, but instead makes you yearn for more, see more, observe more, learn more – you know it’s worth a travel!

When we are open to this interpretation, our journey will take us to destinations that we did not mark in our map. Those mystic destinations. And a traveler will know, these destinations are everywhere. In every country, in every canton. But you can never plan them.

Starting off with Switzerland, 8 out 13 days. And I could stay for more. The only country I am extremely biased towards. 3 visits in only the last year and now technically having covered the entire geography and corners of this country, it has still not managed to bore me. And somewhere I know it’s full of those hidden moments of beauty. In the form of pure surprises tucked away in those mighty mountains. No, I am not that fan who is awed by the trains running at the perfect second and my personal authentic swiss knife, though they are surely in the love-list. It is something bigger. Respect for Nature. Mountains inspire me. Something goes crazy inside me when I am standing in front of those huge giants covered with sheets of wrinkled snow. The only place that comes close is Kashmir. I have given up on my debate with the inner voice on which place scores more. There is no need. But it’s that rise in entropy levels and that state of denial of the possibility of such beauty. But then, with the realisation that these natural skyscrapers have the most authentic history inscribed in them, I feel at peace. They make me feel humble, and it’s a big deal. Apart from this, it’s the definition of responsible freedom in this country. In very simple words, it could bring the world’s largest democracies to shame.

Paris, where I had a rather awkward time last year, was facing my brunt of hate till now. But I realised how wrong I was. I just had to give it another chance, and a little bit more time. This place is the perfect example of a balancing act. Fashion and design – not just in attire, but in architecture as well. As if the entire population knows there is some rather flexible force that can accommodate everything and everyone. Image

Last stop, Berlin, for the love of irony, this city is the epitome of abstract. And for that soul in me who had lost faith in abstract since long, this city has revived that love all over again.


Will be scribbling about my experiences in each of the cities soon. I have started scribbling about each country and city in detail here! For now, ghar ki adrak wali chai and that pillow needs to be given personal attention. Have rejuvenated respect for these things now!

these things.

Let’s waste time,

chasing profiles
and updates

and timelines
and pokes
around our heads.

back to (literally) wasting time. On FB :O.

Why I left anyways.

Get Outside!


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