Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: Challenge Accepted!

This story began in December 2006. I had been doing a revision of the year gone by and decided that 2006 was the year to beat as far as being a landmark year of my life was concerned. I believe that 2011 was sitting in a corner, looking dapper in a grey suit with a maroon tie, and said in a Barney Stinson voice, “Challenge accepted”.

I’m scared of calling this the year the one to beat and hope there is not one more year that decides to take up the challenge. Although, I do wish that there is a year sitting in the calendar room, looking down at me and thinking, “Ah! The poor girl has gone through enough to last a lifetime. I’ll reward her when my time comes.”

One year ago, if you came to me and told me that in a year’s time I would have a permanent tattoo on my back and would have pierced my nose and also given up on the idea of a nose pin, I wouldn’t have believed you. Chances are high, I would have just about waited for you to turn your back before rolling my eyes and mouthing the word, ‘idiot!’ Someone would have to be an absolute idiot to suggest that I would be brave enough to go through both of these extremely painful processes. But if you think that 2011 was painful because of the tattoo and the piercing, boy you are wrong.

The year started on a grim note. None of the five odd doctors we had visited could understand why mom was losing weight. Finally, in the last week of February, after a tormenting visit to the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital and a series of tests over a period of four days, we found out that she had ovarian cancer stage three. Rushed decisions were made and mom and I went to Jaipur where mama and mami opened their hearts and house to take care of mom. It was decided that I would shuttle between Delhi and Jaipur. I’ve already written about this at length so will not repeat myself. In short cancer shook me up in a way I never want to be shaken again. Ever.

On the positive, my life values went on to be defined in a better manner. Suddenly, I started seeing only good in all the people around me. There was a duration of around 3 odd months when I was almost defending other people’s bad choices as well. Trust me, this is not the best way to be. In time, this year also taught me what having a balanced approach to life and people means. Hopefully, I’m now wiser to the ways of life and can see people for what they really are.

One of my best friends shared the awesome news of her pregnancy and I realised I miss her now more than ever. I wish I could be near her and see her evolve in this role. Fortunately, technology ensures that we exchange all the important details of our lives from time to time. Of course given a choice things would be different and I would be with her to share her journey of becoming a mom but choice is not affordable at the moment.

Things improved as the year progressed. I got a promotion at work and outside of office some things fell into place in such a manner that I can now call myself a published author/contributor. One of my stories was published in the Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul: On Friendship. Receiving the first copy of the book was a moment I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. It was what Oprah calls a ‘full-life circle moments’. My mother and I relied heavily on the Chicken Soup for the Soul series after my father’s death. A decade and some years later, it was nice to know that my story might bring a smile on someone’s face in their moment of need.

Another important event was the crossover from being a Blackberry Boy to an Android Girl. Totally in love with my new Korean companion, I love discovering new things about it daily. The world of apps has engaged me almost as much as SRK and his smile have for so many years.

An employee of MidDay was kind enough to blatantly use a photograph I had clicked and posted on my blog, Delhi Photo Diary, and call it a file photo. Obviously, I was mad and after an online toing and froing of mails and tweets, the editor-in-chief was gracious enough to accept the mistake and compensated me a sum of 5K. That was a pleasant and welcome windfall.

Like I mentioned earlier, I got a beautiful tattoo of a daffodil on my back to stamp my narcissism. I also decided to pierce my nose. Impatience is my middle name when it comes to vanity and soon I wanted to wear a better design. Apparently, none of the holy texts grant rewards to the impatient. And one day the nose pin fell off while I was sleeping and I was not brave enough to put it back in. So now the hole is there but the jewel is missing. But now that I have realized that my threshold for pain is high I might go for it again in 2012.

The travel bug bit me as the year neared the end and I decided to force Parul into coming with me to Bharatpur for a weekend. I decided to drive myself. We had a wonderful time. Birds posed for my camera and the hotel we stayed in was beautiful. As soon as I was happy with the way life was settling back to normal, a drunk truck driver changed his lane and hit my car on the highway while we were returning. Fortunately, Parul, other people on the road and I were not hurt. But my car was really badly damaged. We also had the good fortune of being helped by really good and helpful police officers. Both of us reached with gratitude in our hearts for our saved lives. The bonus was a good set of photographs in my camera.

The year thank god did not end at that note. Better things were waiting in the side wings. Mom got a promotion just two days before the year ended. It was a much awaited good news. Good things come to people who wait it seems. So this will also be one of the mantras to survive 2012.

I’m about to lift my bags and leave for a holiday. And I plan to be in a mood where I revise the year gone by while the train chugs across the states of India. I already know that by the end of the journey, though I have had high jumps and then fallen really low, I’ll get up brush the dust off my ass, give my brightest smile and say, “Dear 2012! Bring it on baby!”

Monday, November 14, 2011

त्रिवेणी: बहाने

कल फिर कुछ कहूँगी मैं,
तुम फिर सुनने का नाटक करना |
इसी बहाने, परसों मिलने की आस रहेगी ||

Sunday, November 06, 2011

त्रिवेणी: वक़्त

तुम सुलगते रहे,
मैं पिघलती रही,
और वक़्त गुज़र गया|

Monday, October 31, 2011

Us and Our

Once again, we meet at the crossroad
Both of us go our own way
To meet again at another intersection.

Connect the dots, one by one
Straight or crooked lines will form
Try, you might be able to read our future.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Triveni: सोना

बहुत नामों से तुम मुझे बुलाओगे
कई नाम मैं भी दूँगी तौफे मैं तुम्हें

पर सुनो, 'सोना' मत कहना मुझे!

त्रिवेणी (Triveni) is a form of poetry introduced by Gulzar. My first attempt in the genre. You can read about it here.

Friday, October 07, 2011


दोस्त का लिबास पहन के आया था वो
इसलिए अपना 'गुब्बार' छिपा ना सकी
कल पता चला की अपने दोस्त की पैरवी करने आया था
खुशनसीब है कुछ लोग की उनके दोस्त बहुत अच्छे हैं

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

#3 How She Met Him: The Wait

Delhi was still reeling under the evil spell of summer. The evening sun was bright and orange, akin to the last flicker of the candle flame before it nears its demise. The whiff of the earth from the plants watered by the gardener engulfed the gigantic red brick structure. The long green plants swayed to the soothing tunes playing in her head, while white marble statues that adorned the corridor seemed to wait for something to happen. She sat smiling, playing with her red chhuni, and enjoying the cool breeze that caressed her as she waited for him.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I don’t want to be strong any more

I’ve become strong enough to continue living

While someone I once knew is dead

I’ve become strong enough to laugh

While someone I love has lost all reason to even smile

I’ve become strong enough to enjoy

While someone I like cannot even spare a moment to rest

I’ve become strong enough to imagine a future

While someone I know is struggling to deal with the past


I don’t want to be strong any more

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Why She Cries

Her smile is lovely she is told by many but it is her tears that she is known for. She has a full, throaty laugh that resonates through any room that is fortunate enough to hear it. Her sobs are soft and sometimes threaten to choke her. Her laughter attracts even strangers and her tears have on several occasions even alienated her near and dear ones. Her laughter never reaches her eyes. Her tears sometimes even cloud her happiness. She laughs to forget her sorrows. She cries as this the only way she knows to express her loneliness.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

I'm not sure

I’m not sure which is my favourite shoulder. Now, you would think that no one will ever ask this question and no one needs to know this vital piece of information. I’m sure even stars like SRK haven’t been asked this question. Surprise, surprise! I was asked this very question recently by my dear senior Anuradha. While shaking like a leaf minutes before the tattoo artist, Teji, needled me, I was in a fix over which shoulder I should get my tattoo on. Anuradha in all her worldly wisdom asked me, “Which is your favourite shoulder?” When I gave her, what I am sure was an incredulous expression, along with an exasperated, “Who has a favourite shoulder?” She very matter-of-factly said, “I loveeeeeeeee my left shoulder, in fact I really like the left side of my body.” In retrospect, I think I did not cry, in fact hardly felt any pain, while getting my tattoo done because I was concentrating hard to comprehend what she meant by that statement. I think I was also unaware of the needle designing a beautiful daffodil shaped wound on my skin because I was debating whether I was sure that I liked my right shoulder enough to get it decorated. It still troubles me a bit that one day I’ll realize that my left shoulder is like a child to me and I have unintentionally given it a step-motherly treatment.

This query by Anuradha led me spiralling down to the world of things I’m not sure of. I realized that even after being me for 27 years and 14 months, I am not sure what the colour of my eyes is. Not that I’m asked this question often. But the thought of being at loss of words, in case someone asks me, does make me shiver to my bones. This level of unawareness about oneself is unnatural according to one of my extra-critical friends. Nice as the friend is, he refused to look into my eyes and just give me an answer. Said it is too much of a hassle and he rather not take the risk. Much later, he confessed that he believed that he falls in love with the women in whose eyes he stares and he just did not want to take that risk with me. Such is life!

I’m yet to discover the food item for which I would be ready to kill. This one troubles me a lot as I am surrounded by people, who would be worthy contenders for the Noble Prize for Foodies if the Swedish, Danish and the Norwegian governments decide to introduce the category in the near future. I know what I don’t like, but I’m yet to know for sure, just a morsel of what will take me to heaven.

It is very embarrassing to admit that a colourful personality, like myself, is not sure what her favourite colour is. I love bright colours but if someone asks me what my favourite colour is, I draw a blank and reply alternately with white or black. Like everything I do in life (not really, just saying this to sound smart) there is a scientific reason behind these alternating answersI remember reading in science class that white light breaks into colour when passed through a prism and was told in art class that all colours combine together to form black. I digress, but I think it is vital to the US economy’s recovery that I tell you that this ‘colour scheme’ taught to me in science and art classes kept me up several nights.

This exercise of the brain over things I like made me conclude that I am very sure of what I don’t like but I have no idea about what I like. As far as I can remember, the first question I have asked after listening to any love story is, “How did you know that he/she was the one?” Unfortunately, everyone has given me just one answer, “You just know.” This reply makes me go hmmmmmmmmmmm. In fact it has become quite a rehearsed reply over the years. First I say hmmmmmmmmmmm, then I nod my head as if I understand completely. Masking my confusion with a sigh, I turn around and get back to work or at least pretend to get back to work while trying to make sense of myriad questions doing a slide show in my head. Confusion prevails. I’m not sure!

Friday, August 05, 2011

A Letter to My 16-Year-Old Self

Dear Clueless Priyanka,

You think there is nothing sweet about turning 16 and I think you are right. Trust me 28 is much better but 2325 is when life will bestow all its beauty on you. You will be fat but oh so cute! So don’t worry too much.

In the next decade three people will tell you earnestly that you live up to your name. The first time you hear this you’ll smile politely and make a mental note to find out the meaning of your name. You’ll forget all about it for 3 years and then a friend will say the same thing. This time you’ll miss-call your mom, using your mobile phone (yes, you’ll have a phone of your own and incoming calls will be free!). When she’ll call back, you’ll ask her the meaning and then in your trade mark style shed a tear and hug your friend, slyly wiping your tears on Rahul’s shirt. The third time, you’ll just feel a strong pang of humility. Not many would understand why you are the way you are. Some will make fun of you and even take advantage; you’ll be bull-headed and continue to be nice. You will be the most loved one.

The next time a guy comes to you to tell you that he likes you, you’ll smile as if a hanger is stuck in your mouth instead of choking on your sobs. Remember, if a guy tells you he likes you, you don’t have to marry him or worry about from where the money to support the family will come. Rest assured, just because Mukul said he liked you does not mean you have to marry him. Please don’t cry for a month over it. Trust me, you’ll remember his awkward approach and your reaction and laugh clutching your stomach a few years from now. Plus, people will soon forget the stupid nickname, ladybird, that he gave you. You’ll be the only one who’ll remember it and smile.

Your love for books and words will never die. It will haunt you day and night. Richard Bach will guide you to wisdom, till you discover Voltaire. You’ll discover Hindi literature and slowly progress to find the magic of Gulzar. Films will soon become life. No one will be able to take the place of Rhett Butler as your true love. Spices will spice up your life. You’ll cook. You’ll be good in the kitchen. You’ll own a car in your twenties and dance to the one person concerts in your car on your way to work. You’ll always love dancing. You’ll continue to sing despite everyone and I mean everyone you know discouraging you to even hum. Don’t mind them as long as it sounds good in your head!

Remember Dada was so excited about internet a few months before he died. You did not pay much attention to his ramblings pretending to be rebellious. Well, internet will change your life in more ways than one. You will fall in love thanks to the internet. You’ll realise that you are in love with Delhi. This love will lead you to boast about your city on your blogs and suddenly, you’ll interact with a lot of people from across the world. You’ll write and some people will appreciate what you churn out. In fact, by the time you turn 28, you will find your name and articles in the supplement of India Today twice and a few newspaper magazines will have interviewed you on some or the other occasion for your blogging.

You’ll travel for work and pleasure. You’ll begin the process of finding yourself while working on a documentary film in the jungles of Chhatisgarh (this will be a new state carved out of Madhya Pradesh), forests and villages of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. You’ll start believing in the essential goodness of people. Though your dream of becoming a filmmaker will not materialize, you’ll discover another love, photography. You’ll be very happy with your clicks most of the times. You’ll discover yourself every time you’ll try to control the light.

I know that since Dada died everyone has been telling you that you have to be strong. They will be surprised at your reserve of strength in a few years. You’ll be surprised as well. Mom will be diagnosed with cancer. But as strong as she is, she will come out of it with flying colours. You will love her even more and the hero worshipping will scale new heights.

You will lose your ‘attitude of a fighter’ and make friends. Friends who will stick by your side even when they get married and move to another state and even other countries. You’ll make friends everywhere you go. You’ll make real friends thanks to the virtual world. You’ll make friends in villages and in cities. The best thing is you’ll understand that valuing people is important. More important than anything else. You'll learn that the best gift you can gift anyone is time but you'll continue to gift other things as well. And don't worry you'll receive plenty of gifts as well. You’ll try real hard but will never understand why people love you. Word of advice, don’t try hard, it is one of the mysteries that make life interesting.

You will donate blood. You’ll be proud of yourself. You’ll be obsessed with everything to do with Shah Rukh Khan. You’ll be proud of yourself. American TV will mould your life values soon. You’ll seriously contemplate moving to the US, just to have a life of the characters of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Sanity will prevail and so shall the dream. You’ll be proud of yourself. You’ll work in all possible fields of mass communication before finding your planet. You’ll be proud of yourself. You’ll be impulsive. You’ll make friends, take risks, travel to unknown places and become a narcissist. You’ll get a tattoo to stamp your narcissism on your body for life. You’ll be proud of yourself!

You’ll not be embarrassed when your mom or anyone else for that matter will call you by your nicknames in public. Soon you’ll know that nicknames are given to only those people whom we love and want to give an identity that has our own stamp. You’ll be blessed to have at least 50 nicknames by the time you turn 28.

Like I said, you will be the most loved one. Most importantly, you’ll learn to love yourself and your life.

Loads of love,


(who thinks she has figured it all out but kindness of people around her still baffles her)

The idea for this post came from So many inspiring letters on this post. Do read and take