31 Dec 2015

A Year of Firsts

A year where I was stuck in a dead-end job with a selfish boss.
A year where I faced death of loved ones for the first time in my life - twice.
A year where I took the decision of breaking away from an emotionally abusive relationship.
A year where I took a stance, applied (and got!) a new job.
A year where I re-discovered butterflies in my tummy.
A year where I took a chance on a crush.
A year where I was proposed to.
A year where I discovered that 'I just knew' is not just a cliched phrase that people say - it exists.
A year where I said yes instantly - I just knew.

2015 started off as a year I would have possibly hated, but impossibly ended as chapter in my book - the one that promises to remain open for the rest of my extraordinarily ordinary life.

1 Dec 2015

Baby, just say yes.

Once in a lifetime questions are answered with a resounding 'YES!'

what scared me is that nothing scared me. 

26 Sep 2015

Now a Europe Veteran...no, not really.

I wanted to put up deep, profound thoughts about my trip to Paris. But honestly, I didn't think deep thoughts there. What I thought instead was:

  • Why is there only bread for breakfast, lunch AND dinner? 
  • Do people ever look under-dressed here?
  • I can't walk anymore.
  • How do people eat a long bread, put nothing inside it and call it a baguette?
  • This is beautiful
The last one was the most profound really. With all the walking around and bread clogging me up, let's just say a Parisian day was the best antidote to thinking. I was walking, walking, walking and just walking. Taking a cab is a supreme waste of money and there simply aren't subway stations everywhere. In a day, I walked 11 hours, on one, 14 hours. Needless to say, my feet weren't impressed with me. I did drop a few kilos though, for whoever is noticing. Oh and I'm SO not a museum person.

After I resolved not to see everything and just do what I want to do, things slowed down. The walking pace became leisurely and everything stunning came into sharp focus. Of course, I was out of Paris by then and well into Amsterdam, but who cares. After two concerts, a brownie and several canals later, I was a big fan of the hipster lifestyle. I also came back to the hotel everyday by 9 pm because it was too cold to stay out longer (*cue: hippy electronic song*)

I didn't want to write a travelogue, I'm sure there are several of those lying around. My notes were never really followed, I ended up doing what was currently on my mind then anyway. It was completely random, just like I am. Kinda like a jellybean-sprinkles icecream with nuts because you wanted it but weren't sure which ones to pick. 

What I did want to write though was how fun travelling solo has been. I've always loved my own company, but it is nice to see it reinforced when I didn't have a single book (electronic or hardback) or digital device or any entertainment in my bag. What I had was my thoughts and the sights in front of me. It felt great to be able to take the clutter out of my mind and focus on the art and laugh because the hideous shape in front of me was supposed to be a buffalo. 

Souvenirs that I collected were small, but meaningful as were the memories. 

The tulips were grand. 

12 Jul 2015

Daydreaming is an art

I've an upcoming trip and I tried to search for my long-forgotten camera in the nooks and crannies of my house where I keep things I don't regularly use.

My Camera lies forgotten
I managed to find it after considerable time and pulled it out of the shelf with dust, motley and lint clinging to every last forgotten inch of the cover, not to mention, the malfunctioning buttons of the camera itself.

Needless to say, I'm not going to be taking any pics from this camera anytime soon. That is really sad because this camera has lasted me nearly 7 years through my Langkawi, Bhutan, Goa, Pondy, Mahabs, Pune and other smaller trips.

I hardly ever take photos. My phone camera has a grand total of 17 pics, most of which someone else has taken. Sifting through my solo-travels in Malaysia, I seem to have taken only 34 photos over a week. This is far from the norm - I seem to have taken 2 photos in Kuala Lumpur, one of which was at the airport Dunkin Doughnuts and only because I was excited to eat the cinnamon toasted ones. The rest were taken at Langkawi, my first international solo trip, few shaky ones and most of them of things I caught fancy to at that time and cannot remember why!

If you ask me, however, about the beaches there or the old man at the duty-free shop who gave me a 7RM worth flip-flop for 3RM because mine were broken, I would tell you stories with generous adjectives. The shutterbug seems to have eluded me, somehow.

The first complaint I've ever gotten from my class teacher on my report card was "She daydreams a lot. Discipline needed." I've saved this report card to always remember to daydream, then realized I don't need reminders. I'm hardwired to drift off and my imagination takes me to places and situations, rife with people, imagery and details. I'm never short of these at any given point in time. It is not hard to imagine why I don't take photos - I quite literally, am lost in the moment. I gaze off into space and conjure up what a photo/video can't. This makes for bad photo-time with family, but great anecdote-time.

For my upcoming trip, my sister (who's a camera freak and would pose everywhere), has inspired me to make an effort to take more pictures. Which I will (I think).

But for all the dollars and pounds in this world, wouldn't trade my idyllic daydreaming. All of my English teachers were right on the money with that - I sure can weave a story! 

16 Jun 2015

Latest in my Korean Obsession

Last night, I was searching drama lists to watch some new shows. My weekly fixes of Grey's Anatomy, Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory was lacking and Orphan Black alone couldn't sustain my binge-watching sprees. Orphan Black y'all - if you haven't discovered it already, GO WATCH! On its third season, it is as captivating as it is jump-out-of-your-seats thrilling.

So. Drama Lists.

I hit upon this blog which listed 27 Must-Watch Korean Dramas (if you're a newcomer, curious about the Korean culture and the Hallyu wave or just want to know what the fuss is about, check out that list.) Of course, I'd already seen the Top 5. What I didn't expect was to scroll down and realize that I've seen the Top 10 and keep scrolling to know that I'd actually managed 19 shows on that list! Here I thought I'd seen a "few". It is no wonder that for basic Hangul sentences, I don't need to actively watch the subtitles now. At my 20th show, I scroll through my playlist and find a mix of Korean songs in there with other songs.

Crushing on Lee Min Ho meant I HAD to watch his debut movie - Gangnam Blues. Watching him in dramas, where he plays the romantic lead and doesn't kiss with his mouth open was different from this movie (really. It is ridiculous. None of them kiss with their mouths open - it simply isn't believable as a passionate kiss). In this gritty, violent and dark movie set in the time when Gangnam was slotted to rise at its real estate peak and land-grabbing was the norm, LMH plays a small-time gangster who is trying to get into the real estate action by colluding with corrupt politicians. The movie has highly sexualized content and I was surprised, if not taken aback while watching it. After rolling my eyes at the pecks in dramas, the realism was a refreshing shock.

I seem to like these far-away gazes pics a lot!
He's in a band and has a voice of an angel
My new cuteness is this guy right here - Kim Hyun Joong. I know, I know, he has had some recent scandals, he has left for his mandatory military service and will be MIA from the industry for the next two years, but having been overshadowed by my love for LMH, I didn't notice him at first in Boys over Flowers. I discovered him in another show, much much later. Leader of the band SS501, he has an amazing voice and his acting becomes better and better in his dramas.

I seem to be harboring some serious crushes on Korean stars right now. South Korea has moved to the top of my travel list.

Go on, have a trailer watch, it won't hurt!

24 May 2015

When Cute becomes FAT!

I was resisting writing this for a long time. Actually, I thought I'd never write it. Writing things down makes it way too real for me and call it escapist, but this topic has been on the 'best-avoided' list. Except now, it is staring back at me in the doctor's report in bold numeric (which means it is way above normal) - Cholesterol.

I haven't consciously done anything about myself, exercise has been a fickle fling and I have one-night stands with my diet. It is little wonder that my annual health check-up decided to dump me altogether and show me a big fat middle finger.

I twisted my knee, dancing and tore my ACL completely, which means no sports for me (not like I played sports anyway). Living with no ACL, with a ton of restrictions on movement, not to mention a knee brace for doing everyday activities like walking and now this borderline sugar, above normal cholesterol and a host of hormone-related stuff. It is scary and I'm looking up a miracle pill (if only there were such a thing, ha)!

I'm usually low on will-power when it comes to lifestyle-altering decisions and I'm awful at follow-through. Here's hoping a small piece on this blog will remind me that I'm still me and I'll remain so, I just need to make some changes.

20 May 2015

I'd rather work through a break-up than your passing.
I'd rather call you and hang up than listening to the rude lady on the other end telling me your number doesn't exist.
I'd rather start a new conversation with you than cry over old chats.
I'd rather listen to Aly & AJ than Evanescence.
I'd rather know that someday, sometime, I'll meet you in passing and we'll acknowledge each other like the memories we know we've become...

...than realize over and over again nothing wouldn't bring you back.

22 Apr 2015

The Date

"I haven't been this happy in a long time", he said, looking deep into her eyes in the car. 
The prelude to this date were the few conversations they had. Light, breezy, easy. But then, she had always been an easy conversationalist. 

The phone calls became frequent. She could almost hear the clicks on the other end, the reluctant tone when they had to hang up the phone, the quick sigh when the date wouldn't arrive soon enough; but arrive, it did. All too soon, she thought. 

As she stepped on the foyer of the popular coffee shop, she clutched her stomach lightly. No butterflies, she mused. "The date was pre-arranged, we spoke earlier to match wavelengths, the butterflies will come", justified a small rational voice she hadn't heard in a while. He came in, all smiles and charm and gave her a once-over. She looked at his crooked smile, freshly shaved face and gave a small smile back. The awkwardness lasted for a few minutes, giving way to the same easy conversation, breezy flirtation and chuckling at the brazen suggestiveness. He was a gentleman with undertones of naughtiness, a combination she loved. What was better was the gift that he gave - thoughtful and represented her in every way. "How many times I've dreamt someone would give me something like this" she thought, accepting the hand-made box it came in. "To think he took the time out to make this for me!" She clutched her stomach again, waiting for the butterflies that still wouldn't come. 

Coffee ran over to dinner and the conversation continued. He couldn't take his eyes off her, his glances more appreciative with each passing minute. She had to look away from the intensity in his gaze, it bothered her. His protectiveness was sweet, his "accidental brushes" were tentative, the mile long walk back to the car after dinner, planned. He took her hand like it was the most natural thing to do and she let him. Holding hands, they walked along the road. The night was obliging, breezy, without too many people out. Even the moon was supportive - a bright orange ball, peeking out of the inky clouds, washing them in its light. 

"Can we talk for a while?" He asked hesitantly. She shrugged, "Sure." He raised his hands, almost like waving a wand and brushed the stray hair out of her forehead. She shivered. 

In the car, he switched on the music and Billy Joel serenaded them. He sat there, humming along with Billy, his voice in perfect synchronization. He launched into some of his favorite songs, his voice washing over her. "I haven't been this happy in a long time", he said, looking deep into her eyes. She looked away. 

He caressed her arms and she looked down at the tiny flecks of hair on her hand, lying flat. 

"We should write a poem. You write one line, I'll write the next", he said, his eyes shining with sudden enthusiasm. "...although I can't match your language" he chuckled and stopped abruptly. He saw something on her face. She didn't know what the expression on her face was, she was busy trying to drown out the ringing in her ears with words she didn't want to remember. 

"What is this?" she asked, grinning. She knew exactly what it was and she couldn't wait to start. 

"It's a line." he said. "Just a line?" she grinned, wider now. "If you wrote the next line and this continued, I would have a beautiful poem to give you during lunch. Aside from my awesome humor" he said, wryly. "Let's get started then." They wrote furiously, line after line, like a dance building into a crecendo. When the end loomed, she bit her lip in concentration, piecing their minds as one. As promised, he brought it along with him. Oh, and his humor. 

Thrown back into the car, she continued gazing blankly. "We don't have to write anything, it was just a suggestion, we could write it later..." he trailed off apologetically. "Yea...later..." she mumbled.

He took her hand again, making small circles with the pad of his thumb on her fingers. She spoke quicker now, withdrawing her hands. He leaned in a little to test waters and she waited, frozen. Chopin was playing in the background, his piano sounds suddenly too loud for the car. She looked on, willing herself to close her eyes. She looked at his soft, pink lips and imagined him kissing her. She clutched her stomach harder. 

"It's late, I should go." she said. The moment was lost. She sighed quickly and got out of the car. Just as she closed the gate and watched him wave cheerily, she realized the sigh was that of relief.

She rushed to the mirror and replayed the moment and watched her expression carefully. She looked wilted, aged. The light in her eyes disappeared like a switch. As it was before, the drop in her stomach was that of lead falling through, tearing her insides. 

She stared at her hand, the absence of goosebumps more apparent now. She let go of waiting for the butterflies that never came. She stared at the tissue paper that he had twisted into a swan at the coffee shop, her namesake, turning it in her hand in wonder and crushed it in her palm in one, swift motion. A ringtone played, signalling a received message . 

"It was one of the most special times of my life. You are beautiful and I miss you already" it read. On autopilot, she closed the phone in her purse and zipped it shut. 

A paper fluttered at the corner of her mind, peeking, looking for a way out to prominence in her scattered thoughts. She quickly looked around and found what she wanted. As she poured the contents of the cough syrup on a teaspoon, her phone rang again. "I can't sleep, I can't stop thinking about you." the message read. 

"Baby, I don't want to keep the phone" 
"I don't want to either" 

She drowned out her thoughts, downed the syrup and took a long sip of water. She willed her mind blank and looked at the ticking clock, knowing she had 10 minutes before the syrup took effect. She saw the minute hand crawl and exactly ten minutes later, she fell into a deep sleep.

Postscript: This is one of my older posts, re-posting it because these are my memories of R.

1 Apr 2015

Moving Forward

I read a friend's post this morning about Why Moving Back Home was the best decision she ever made. It hit me then, I'm clocking 9 years away from home now. Nearly a decade and I'm nowhere close to wanting to go back.

I thought it could be because I'm fiercely independent, maybe I'm unwilling to change my ways or simply because there are many restrictions back at home - but really, it is because I'm always looking ahead. 'Moving back' as a term itself is redundant to me.

Whenever I've yearned for things I've left behind, it is usually built up in my head. When I actually get it, I realize I don't yearn for it anymore. Repetition of this behavior has made me a self-aware enough to know that while the idea of a home-cooked meal, familiarity of faces and laundry being magically done is tempting, the reality is that I rely on myself to do my own stuff. Even while vacationing at home, when a hot cuppa' is brought to my sister every morning, I'm in the kitchen fixing my own cup despite mom's protests.

There are several things I look forward to, but going back is not one of them. Going forward certainly is. 

22 Mar 2015

10 things that make me insanely happy

This International Day of Happiness, let’s be thankful to all the things that make us happy. My list is a special bunch of things that matters to me. What’s on yours?

1) Stories through verses: I've long since dabbled in poetry. As a young girl, I've written childish poetry, often varying from nature to poetry with comparisons to everyday life. I've loved the way the words melted and twirled in my tongue when I spoke them. I believe in the perfection in poetry, the symmetry, the rhythmic style; written in a continuous stream of single thought that magnifies the verses and weaves them into a story.

2) The company of few good people: if you are a fellow introvert, you’d know just how precious those few people are. In my life, there are a handful of people that I cherish.

3) A well-written book: a kindle story, a pdf doc or a paperback – doesn't matter what the package is;  a good read is a decadent craving fulfilled.

4) A hot cuppa: anyone who has met me would know it isn't blood that runs through my veins, it is
coffee. A good cup of coffee is guaranteed to cheer me up anytime. ‘Nuff said.

5) Writing: I sometimes wish that I could be transported to the 1800s so I can feel the crisp air through a castle window, pick up a quill, dip it in the ink kept on the ornate desk and become a creator in the Romantic era.

6) Spring: I don't like too much cold, but the snuggle-weather of spring is good. It is the only time I actually don't mind going for walks. My face clears up and my skin glows like clockwork every spring.

7) The big picture: Circumstances weave around you and you weave out of them. Not the other way around. Everyone's approval is not paramount; neither do you have to please everyone.

8) Being selfish: Indulgence is not always bad!

9) Dreams: not the metaphorical ones (though those are important as well), but the actual ones that reveal a whole lot what my subconscious has registered that I missed. It is a look into my ‘sixth sense’. Interpreting your dreams doesn’t involve a fat Freud book and looking up meanings of clouds or chasing or whatever. It means listening to what you might've missed consciously. Your brain is a sponge of information – picking up the signals it sends me from my dreams is something that gives me the pleasure of a job well done.

10) Acceptance: something that I struggle with, but when I finally reach that state, I’m giddy with joy. To each, their own and acceptance beyond question has been my constant strive to achieve when I'm dealing with people of any kind.

Coke’s tagline ‘Open Happiness’ has a lot of great ads in the series for International Day of Happiness. Check out their latest one:

Optimism is a way of life

I've been in the company of cynics lately. The ones at work at particularly disheartening, not just because they don’t have a single good word about anyone, but also because their outlook is gloomy and bleak. It crushes my optimism. I fervently believe in the good in people and being around THAT much toxicity bugs me to no end.

My constant search for a blend of what I love and ambitiousness spurs me into all the things that I try. I can deal with cynics usually, meet raised eyebrows with one of my own. It’s the pessimists I’m baffled by. Their negativity is not only palpable; it is a quality I’d rather not stay too close to. These are the ones that believe that “settling” is a way of life. Settling for mediocrity and compromise has been my fear ever since I learnt to say a resolute ‘no’ when my parents wanted me to do engineering. It astonishes me how many people want to settle for something less, for something ‘okay’ and for something that they don’t even care about.

The question you ask yourself is “What's more advantageous to you – a 9 to 5 job that makes you crawl into your bed every night, wishing you were doing something worthwhile, or the satisfaction that you get by doing something that you love – every single day?”

It saddens me each time I meet a pessimist. The grey comes off from them in waves. Distinct and intimidating. It makes me want to stand up and tell them that there’s a reason successful people are how they are. It is not because they kissed their boss’ ass, were ‘politically correct’ or wrapped themselves in a pretty package and sold themselves to hierarchy. It’s because they never stopped believing in themselves and their abilities. They never stopped dreaming about the next thing that they want once they had achieved something. The successful do not have a magic personality. They are good at what they do because they love doing it. Their dreams follow because they wouldn't allow it any other way.

At times like these, I go back and remember the 2005 graduation commencement speech by Steve Jobs that my professor had shown us on the last day of his class. It has everything a conventional “inspirational” speech had – life experiences, rags to riches stories, the never say die attitude. It helps me look past the cynics and negativity around me. Steve speaks of doing what you love and being good at what you do because you love it and not because it’s your “job”. Inspiring stuff, that.
We start at the same level. We get the same education – some formally, some from the surroundings and few, not at all. Yet, the thing that holds a person together is not how intelligent they are or how creative they are. It is what they do with it. Whether if what your dream is to cure cancer or if it is to come back home early to your kid to play lego with them every evening. Visit Housing.com if you need some optimistic inspiration in the murky world of real estate. 

If someone were to ask me at my bleakest moment, what my outlook looks like, I manage a smile and say “It’s all going to work out.” I’m sunshine and rainbows and colors and everything in between and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

15 Mar 2015

Burnt dinners are the best!

Valentine’s day is overrated.

These are the words you sometimes tell yourself when you’re lonely. On one such Valentine’s Day, I sought out the two girls who make the duller days of work fun. One had no plans and the other had a dinner at home with her husband. The two of us waved away our married friend and decided to go for a nice dinner. While we were driving out of office, the car felt weirdly empty without our friend and we called her to ask how dinner was going. Her husband answered the phone and proudly declared that he was making chicken biryani for the two of them. Now, this was a feat because he can barely boil eggs. Taking the phone from him and chortling with laughter, our friend said that it is giant mess in the kitchen and he completely miscalculated the amount of rice needed and that there was enough for 8 people! Howling with laughter now, we asked her to save some for us for lunch the next day.

Her husband came back on the line and said “Why don’t you join us?” Our friend joined in and yelled in affirmative. We made a split second decision to head to their place. We entered a chaotic living room and a half-burning kitchen. As I sat down on the bean bag, with a chilled Bailey’s Irish, the other one rolled up her sleeves and went to help in the kitchen. We managed to salvage the dish to an extent and settled down to eat it from one big plate in the living room. It tasted a little off, probably missing some spices, maybe the chicken was overcooked, but to us, it was the best goddamn biryani we ever tasted.

Sitting in the living room in a messy sofa, we sipped the cool and crisp drinks by our side and breathed in the slightly burned air. We played Nintendo WII after dinner, dancing to retro (corny) 90’s songs and singing Karaoke at the top of our lungs. We sat with ‘Poo’ – a card game where the players are monkeys and can fling poo at each other – no really. Poo! We giggled for no reason at all and hooted at our own dance moves.

Our friend and her husband confided that dinner seemed like a boring way to spend the evening and they realized that company could be just the thing they needed to make their time memorable. Whoever said that Valentine’s Day is just celebrating love in clich├ęd ways like a candlelight dinner in a posh little restaurant? It can be just as fun in a messy house, burnt dinner and dancing to have a good time. Speaking of, visit Housing.com to lookup the perfect one that you can have fun times in. 

The dishes lay forgotten amidst banter, to be returned to when the remnants of the evening will linger only as an aftertaste. In the cutthroat instances of peer rivalry, petty politics and momentary alliances, the three of us found what few people really do – trust and friendship. 

10 Mar 2015

Why Lookup is the 'Now'

After nearly a decade of living away from home, adaptability has become my middle name. It didn’t start out that way though. As a determined, fresh-faced 20 year old, barely a month out of college, I fought my first fight for my dream – to join a company that inspired me and to experience another city on my own. Both these statements were live-wire declarations to my parents, who opposed it firmly. I stubbornly, yet quietly, gave them reasons why I should be allowed to go.

It wasn’t an easy fight. Emotional battles seldom are. The one thing that kept me going was the absolute belief that I wasn’t going to find my way through the world living a sheltered life with my parents. Belief that made me apply for jobs that weren’t in my home city and that led me to
find the one that I prized. With a tangible offer letter, my parents finally saw that it wasn’t a pipe dream, but a real one – the one I was trying to build on my own, stumbling over the first blocks.

Hyderabad, the city of Nawabs, was the first city I moved to. My training wheels were finally off. With two suitcases full of my stuff and temporary living accommodations for a month, I was firm about two things – finding the ideal flatmate and finding a great living space I can call home. I learnt quickly that compatible flatmates are the exceptions, not the norm and pictures from newspaper ads were a big letdown! ‘Cozy’ was synonymous with a space resembling a dungeon, ‘established’ with an old, rotting house with moldy walls and don’t even get me started about specifications that come with being a single girl looking for a house (one landlady asked me not to hang my bras in the balcony because she had grown sons!)

Suddenly, a month seemed like no time at all to find a house! I was scrounging newspapers for classifieds, putting ads in company’s intranet site and proceeded to carry out the time-honored tradition of going from one building to another, asking the security guards if there were any apartments to-let. The sites online were mostly filled with ads by brokers, who demanded unreasonable commissions and I was left wanting something that allowed me a transparent transaction – an impossibility at the time.

Three cities and six houses later, I’m now much better at scoping for locations, cutting through landlord claims and looking for houses without too much of a hassle. I always appreciate developments in the impersonal world of real estate, especially the ones focused on transparency. As a result, while looking for potential properties to invest in, I came across Housing.com, a site that was a fresh and different from all the other real estate sites I’ve seen so far.

I was admiring of their clean digital interface, ease of search and the realistic photographs of the houses (unlike stock imagery). I love their maps feature which shows me the neighborhood of where I’m searching for and the exact location of the houses/apartments and the mobile app that
alerts me when there are new properties in the location I’m interested in. Sure, there are several real-estate specific sites, but this one stood out for its impressive execution that focuses on the user. 

Watch their ‘Meet the new Housing’ video to know what I’m talking about. 

Happy house-hunting!

4 Jan 2015

To the boy I loved

Since 2007, this blog has undergone several changes. Some deletions, some fresh new posts and some randomness. One thing that had remained constant was the presence of 'R' in my posts. Some were mere mentions. Some were all about him. This space was a reminder of everything we've shared. 
This post oscillates between the past and the present. 

Barista: What you like to order ma'am?
R: She would like a hot mocha and a strawberry muffin.
Me: How do you know my order?
R: I just do. Now, would you like to have that mocha with me?

R had always been forthright to the point of being obnoxious. I don't quite remember when I found that charming as opposed to annoying, but that must be around the time I thought of the possibility of 'us'. His brutal honesty bugged me, he never sugar-coated his words, but his sincerity soothed me. Our relationship had always been bipolar - a study in contradictions.

Did you hear the news? I'm so sorry I'm the one to break this to you. 

Me: Why didn't we go party this new year?
R: Because the best way to start this new year is to cuddle with you.

We weren't the one for observing traditional holidays. He made me feel special and cherished on a Wednesday. And on my birthday. Especially on my birthday, when I insisted I be treated like a princess. And whenever I was sick. Especially when I was sick, when I insisted I be treated like a princess. 

Blog quote: R and I spent the day making snowflakes. We promised; no, not undying love for each other, just to finish the lego-truck that we started building. Its yellow. And bright. It was the best Valentine's day I ever had in my life.  

I don't know any details. I don't know who to speak to. I'm hoping this is a mistake. I haven't heard anything about it yet. Let me try Shubh's number again. 

R: Baby, you should try the Guntur chilli chicken. It is awesome!
Me: Thanks. I don't want diarrhea.
R: But baby! They're worth a measly diarrhea. 

For as long as I've known him, he'd been a foodie. He loved experimenting with different cuisines. He enjoyed the meals I made for him as much as he loved going out. His single greatest pleasure was a well-made dish. Hyderabad is littered with restaurants - small and big, which we'd visited.

Blog quote: In my little story, R made his way into my heart through my stomach!

I'm booked on the 5:30 am flight...earliest I could get. I'll reach Hyd by 6:45 am and come straight to your place. 

R: let's go on a trip to the mountains! Nepal or Bhutan.
Me: I've heard it is a beaut! let's goooo.

R and I have traveled to many places, but Bhutan has by far been the most exciting, adventurous and memorable one. 11 days of unadulterated mountains, exploring the villages, seeing snow for the first time (him), climbing treacherous trails to monasteries and snuggling in front of the heater at night. It was one of our best trips together. 

Blog quote: Nighttime is a volley of noises in Paro. Still, in this town where everyone knows everyone, I snuggled up to R and slept late.

His girlfriend is handling everything. She's being strong, holding everyone up, insisting they eat. It isn't easy, but she's taking charge. I'm glad they have her. 

R: Let's get a kitten
Me: But I don't know anything about cats. I'm a dog person
R: I'll teach you. Trust me.

R and my baby - Ginger, our adopted kitten. She changed my outlook on things. I was more patient, maternal and willing to clean vomit & poop when I was around her than at any other time. He was right - I did become a cat person very quickly. Each time I saw them together, I felt he'd be the greatest dad. He was one of the rare males who was born to be a father. 

Blog quote: The idea to adopt a kitten was R's. I declared that I was taking both kittens home. I saw a glimmer in his eyes.

They are asking for an identification mark - a birthmark or a mole. She didn't remember, so she reluctantly looked at me...I couldn't remember either. It was a terse moment. 

R: Congratulations baby. I knew you'd get through.
Me: You believed it more than I ever did.
R: Because I always knew.

R believed in everything I hoped to achieve. He was my biggest cheerleader. He'd criticize me from time to time, took me out to celebrate little things like when I came in third in the Karaoke contest, nothing was insignificant. I'd gratefully look at him when I messed up - he'd be right there to take my hand and suggest a Guntur chilli chicken. 

Blog quote: My time with R. Every moment magnifies and stretches itself, preserving it. His  presence makes everything else inconsequential. The rest will come, I suppose. Soon enough.

He got a new house and a new red car. His mom loves houses with big balconies and the color red. They moved in a month ago. He was planning to start a family there.

Colleague: Why don't you write poems anymore?

Blog quote: I don’t write about togetherness because I'm living in it. I don’t write about the smell of the breeze on the beach during twilight walks because I’m walking in it. 
When you live, the poetry is that much farther apart. Sometimes, when the night ends, you pick up the pen and try to capture everything that the walks on the beach or the giggling on the road represented. But you just write ‘I Love You.’ Because it is appropriate. It fits. And its much more than imaginative poetry. Its real life prose. 

Our relationship didn't last, but R was the first person to love me like I'd wished someone would. We cherished each other a lot and never missed an opportunity to express how we felt about each other. 

I approached his girlfriend, hugged her and said "I dated RC, the boy. You dated Rajesh, the man. Our love was young, carefree and in wild abandon. Yours took roots, made him want a family. I'm glad he experienced fatherhood with your daughter. I can see why he chose you. 

She looked at me through teary eyes, hugged me back and said "He saved everything you ever wrote, gave or doodled for him. I'll send them to you. 


I understood what legs turning into lead meant. He was a few feet away from me, but I couldn't move a little further to get a look at him. I stood there, hot tears burning my throat, unable to breathe. He was covered in a white shroud...only his face visible. Familiar shaggy eyebrows, squashed-in nose and full lips. 

A fly kept hovering around his face. The embalming fluid smell was cloying the air.

"You should be doing this for me" his father wailed. 

I kept the yellow flowers on his feet and approached closer. I knelt softly beside his face and whispered the endearment, that in another time used to be shouted in glee, said in exasperation, whispered in passion and bound us in love - "Shona". 

I stopped breathing in the embalming liquid smell, closed my eyes and imagined him lying on my lap, sleeping. I kept my palm on his cold forehead and looked at R for a last time.