An Ode to my DIDA AND PUKI.

Change – it’s happens all the time all around us. I am that person who likes stability. Sameness routine coupled with moments of excited fun. But its inevitable.

I have lost a grandparent 2 days ago and I sit and go back to what my nani meant to me and it fills me with happiness.

My nani was not a favorite out of all my grandparents. She was a personality that took sometime to love and as a child I used to be scared of her. In fact she never showered me with the typical nani love. Her love was different, very practical and stoic. in the end i knew she loved me and had her ways to show it. In the last ten years I don’t remember having any kind of conversation with her. It felt like she had just given up. Every time I would visit her (in the past 10 years) she would stare blankly at me and towards the end she was not even able to recognize me. It broke my heart to see her living on her bed waiting for god to take her away, but selfishly somewhere deep down I still felt my nani was around. She was there and I was lucky that at 28 I still had a nani in my life.

When we got the news she passed my mom, maashi, mama were normal, they knew this news was coming because old age had eaten her up. She was suffering so much that a month back when I visited her I prayed to god to take her away. Yet it hit me. When she passed on Friday I was calm and then I was sad. I suddenly remembered the vacations to Delhi, the vikas kunj house, the food she made and the serials she watched. There was a time my nani watched each and every TV show balaji released and all I had to do was ask her what’s up with Tulsi and I got the entire story in 3 minutes.

My nana and nani were always around and a part of my life. Together they made a formidable couple. My nana was the sweetest cutest person to ever have in one’s life. He would take me as a kid to the nearby milk booth in Delhi and allow me to put the coin in the milk dispensing booth and see the joy on my face when the milk would gush out of a machine. Nana used to get me kismi toffee and as a habit every time he would step out of the house I would say “PUKI (I called him that.. started when i was 2) what chocolate are you going to get for me”

My nani was strong. A personality one would get scared from. Some of that scary persona about me comes from her I guess. Lol. she was a clear example of fighting the odds and making it work. she used to work at a time when women were not really working. she was a true fighter. my dida.

What they both signify to me every day is to see how well my mom, my maashi and my mama were brought up. At the end of the day every parent wants to see that their children are good human beings and they succeeded at that with flying colours.

As I bid a final farewell to my Nani and Nana (who passed a few years ago), I pray they are happy upstairs and always around guiding the family together.

the joy to see me arrive in my nana and nanis eyes.

the joy to see me arrive in my nana and nanis eyes.

Cheers to my puki and dida.

In memory of a dear friend

My first memories of Nishi was my first day at Contract advertising ten years ago. I was scared, nervous and sitting at an empty workstation when this pretty jovial looking girl came and sat at the workstation opposite to me. I gave her a tense look and she smiled. She said “hello you seem new.”

I said “hi I am the new intern here” and her reaction was “welcome, this is gonna be a fun internship for you”. Warmth is the first word I associated with her. During those 6 months at contract she was a very important part of my growth. She gave me tips on basics of advertising, told me how to deal with irate clients and shared her very delicious tiffin with me.

I left contract and finished college and 5 years later bumped into her again at JWT Mumbai. And again in my new office seeing a familiar face I jumped with joy that it was Nishita.

One day she came to me and said I love the way you wear your kajal. How do you apply it?

I have a very serious face and can come across as rude if people don’t really know me. This other time she came and said “nivi your serious demeanour in office is making people think you are unfriendly and think too much of yourself, but don’t worry I cleared the air and told all of them that you were the sweetest most funniest person around once you get to know her and that I know you since you were an advertising baby” and there it was, her caring attitude that paved the way to break the ice with all the other people in my new work place.

And then there were moments every other day when I would just go to her desk and gossip laugh or crib about something or the other.

We got closer when we all shifted to the other part of jwt, now we were all part of one team and all of us and our bonds grew stronger.

She was the first person who comforted me when I, always the hypochondriac thought I had a major health scare when it turned out to be nothing. She didn’t make fun of me but infact hugged me and told me everything will be alright. When I was admitted to the hospital for typhoid she called me in the middle of her transfusion sessions to check on me.

That was Nishi, always strong in the face of every big challenge god threw at her. Her smile and laughter during her illness always made me feel that I need to be exactly like her.

Of all the fun times at JWT a few instances always bring a smile to my face. One being the bubble wrap craze we all went through. A big sheet of bubble wrap was placed behind her desk and everyone in their stressful moments was allowed to come burst them and talk about what was bothering them.

She always loved my shoes and called me shoe crazy, which I am. Every heel I ever wore she would insist on trying them on and look so good in them and I would always try to convince her to buy a pair and wear it. I think she did listen to me once.🙂

Her cakes and cookies were legendary, so legendary was her dense chocolate cake that I got two cakes commissioned for two birthdays and when I took them for the birthdays everyone I knew wanted to order one too. She inspired me to want to start baking and I will some day soon.

When she quit JWT we threw her a good bye Nishi party. I am selfish and very rarely buy anyone any gifts. And the few people I do are genuinely the people I love and she came in that list. I went and spent an entire Sunday buying things for her that I knew she liked. She loves stationary and I went and got all the types of fun stationary for her cause  I knew she loved it. And I was right. She did love it.

When someone so close to you and someone who you never think anything can happen to suddenly goes away it leaves a void. I got the news early Monday morning and for the first 15 mins I had no reaction. I was waiting for tears but none came. All that came to my mind was a flashback a flashback of all the conversations all the episodes that featured her in my life and I realised there were so many that I sat and let my mind go back. I got ready for work and sat in the cab put on my earphones and played a song….and that’s when the tears arrived. My memories flashback had come to an end and that is when I realised I would never see her again. I had been saving to make a trip to Bangkok in 2015 with another friend of ours and had only last week considered Singapore instead of Bangkok just cause nishi was there..i was to tell my friend of this change in plan but forgot due to the mundane stresses of life.

Why am I writing all this? I am writing cause I have spent all day thinking of these episodes and since I now work in a new office I have no one who understands my pain or the fact that I want to talk about a friend who meant a lot to me

I want to pour out my feelings and being a somewhat writer I realised putting my thoughts to words will help me make it real.

Nishi was that person, that person who even for the most stoic and serious person she would bring out a smile. For me she was special and she will always be special forever. Here’s looking up, at you and waving a final goodbye!!

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The endless wait

All our lives from the time we were born we have always been waiting for something.

As I was in the car with a good friend of mine, she suddenly said “aah nivi, I m so tired of waiting. Waiting for the next thing to come to make things better”

This comment made me start thinking of the number of things I have waited for to happen in my past 26 years.

During my school years I waited. I waited for the teacher to notice me. I was the average student. I was not the girl who came first in class or the girl who flunked. And being average never got me noticed. I waited for the day the teacher would call out my name and select me for some event or some badge.

My earliest memory of waiting goes back to class 5. I had entered my name in an art competition like all the other kids in my class. I sat in the bus to go to the drawing competition venue with the 30 other kids. When we landed at the venue and saw the list of kids from my school, everyone’s name was there but mine.

They said technical error and I was made to sit in a corner and told to wait. I was told to wait till my teacher was having a shouting match with the organizer about the goof up. I waited and waited but the all India competition couldn’t accept my entry and I did not end up drawing. I came home and cried and for the first time in my life felt left out. My parents told me it’s a one off goof up and made me draw at home and framed and put up the picture.

The next time I distinctly remember where I waited and prayed for something to happen was in my 9th grade. I wanted to be a badge holder. I thought everyone who had that badge wielded some sort of power in school. In 9th grade we were only selected to be lowest in the badge holding chain – house representative. But at that time I wanted it so bad.

I would pray and try to be part of activities so that I got noticed. During the selection process, 4 students from my class were selected and as my luck would have it, I wasn’t.  My 9th grade teacher who knew how much I wanted the badge came and told me… “So what if you don’t get this badge, wait for grade 11 when you will become the head girl. That is the real badge”.

Thus began my wait to for the next 2 years to get that coveted badge.  Since my parents had a transferable job I had shifted and moved to another school. But somehow the hope of that badge never left me. I waited for the day my new school had the selection for the most coveted badges and made sure I put my name in the list. After a few days the interviews happened and I was my confident self. I walked out of the interview with a positive feeling and hoped even if I don’t get the head girl, becoming the deputy head girl would also be awesome.

A week later and I still didn’t know the final list. Everything around me was hush hush. One day during my chemistry class, a notice informing us about the investiture ceremony for the new badge holders was to happen 2 days later, In front of the whole school.  

That’s when I realized the people who had made it had been informed quietly and were practicing for the ceremony separately. I was the fool who was waiting to hear her name to be selected. That’s when I realized I would never be a badge holder ever. All the waiting was pointless.

The day before the ceremony, during my practical class a senior teacher walked in asking for me. She told me that I had very little time to practice but the girl originally selected to be the sports captain dropped out and they decided on me. I was the substitute sports captain. J

TURNS OUT THE MOMENT I STOPPED WAITING FOR IT TO HAPPEN IT HAPPENED. I was the sports captain and a badge holder for my school.

As I struggled with science in grade 12th I secretly dreamed of studying in Mumbai in my dream college. I started nursing this dream and researching courses that I could do in that college.

All the while my parents were filling entrance exam forms for medicine and dental colleges. I filled the form for the advertising course and convinced my parents to allow me to compete in that entrance. Being an average student my parents never did think I could make it in my dream college where 1000 kids were competing for 60 seats. To an extent they were correct. I didn’t make it. I was put in the waiting list for the course and informed by the head to keep waiting for a few weeks and if no one leaves the course, to apply the next year again.

So again, I was waiting. Waiting and praying every day. Along with the waiting and praying I never did make it to any of the medical colleges or dental colleges either. So I was enrolled in a local college for a course in history and political science. Every morning I would wake up praying and hoping the wait list would magically lead me to my dream college.

One month passed by. I was travelling to the local college and not understanding anything I was studying in history and behaving like a wreck. My parents sat me down and told me to stop waiting and wake up to the reality. This was my future and next year if I was ready I would try again at making it to that college and starting a year late.

So I cried myself to sleep and stopped waiting. I stopped praying and stopped dreaming. 15 days after I stopped waiting, one day I reached home from another boring day in college. My parents were sitting on the dining table and staring at me with an expression I didn’t understand. And then my dad said “Pack your bags, you are heading to Mumbai”. Everything after that sentence was a blur. Within 2 hours I was packed and in  a bus with my dad heading to my dream college for the course I was on the wait list. Turns out only that year the government decided to increase 20 seats in my course. I was on the wait list of that magical year when it happened. And the next day I was sitting in class with new faces, of the college I dreamed off and studying what I wanted to really study. TURNS OUT I STOPPED WAITING AND THINGS JUST FELL INTO PLACE.

Every step off the way, we have to wait for things to fall in place. But it’s the time period where we are waiting which makes the thing we waiting for bigger than it’s supposed to be.

And when that happens, all that waiting becomes useless because we have created a dream sequence in our heads that’s bigger than what it was supposed to be. And it disappoints us.

Every now and then when I am waiting for something to happen I have to remind me of what the reality is and what I am creating in my mind. So, that I am not disappointed at the end.

Currently along with me, my family is waiting. Waiting, for me to find that perfect man who will be my partner for life. And in this case I have created a dream perfect soul mate in my mind. (nopes, I couldn’t stop myself).  I GUESS THE DAY I STOP WAITING HERE I L FIND THAT SOULMATE.  ;)

It’s like finding that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

 

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Before you decide to marry a Bengali woman.

After years of meeting men with preconcieved notions about bengali women i decided to create a small guide about us. they might all be true or may not be true, but this is my inference of being a true Bengali woman.

This is a guide to all men looking to marry/date a Bengali woman –

1) Please know that we are mostly independent and have a mind of our own.

2) We will mostly not be coy and shy and bat our eyelashes and be a damsel in distress who needs to be rescued. On the contrary we will be the woman who wouldn’t mind rescuing the guy once in a while.

3) We have always come from families where a woman is considered of the same potential and calibre as a man. And we have never seen discrimination based on our gender in  our families.

4) No we are NOT into BLACK MAGIC. We just love wearing a lot of kajal.

5) We are unapologetic of being able to enjoy our lives by going out dancing partying and drinking. That does not make us loose characters or wild women with no boundaries (this applies for all women in general)

6) Yes we love our food. Be it fish, chicken, mutton, eggs or anything thats sweet. We will mostly be physically on the healthier side and love our curves.

7) We dont mind admitting we have feelings or are emotional about someone and dont work on hints. We will mostly say what we feel and expect the same from the opposite sex.

8)We are extremely traditional during the one time of the year – DURGA PUJA. We will be excited and take leave to be with family and wear sarees with bindis and enjoy the Bengali food.

9) We hate men who cant stand up for themselves or are insecure about a woman’s growth in her career compared to theirs.

10) We are beautiful, strong willed, respectful and have the capability to be modern career oriented yet maintain a personal life at home.

maa_durgaand I rest my case.  :)

10 things i have learnt in my 7 years in Mumbai

 Believe in Destiny, cause it actually leads you to what is meant to be – this will be reaffirmed with my making it to this city when I was 17. I was only to come to Mumbai if I made it to the BMM course in Xavier’s, my mom had said. This wasn’t an easy task, as BMM in Xavier’s was one of the most sought after courses in this city and for 60 seats there were 1000 applications. I am sure deep down my parents knew I would never make the cut in the entrance. And they were kind of correct, cause after the results were declared I was number 1 on the wait list and was promptly told by the college people that no one leaves this course, so better luck next time. A devastated me came back to pune and joined Fergusson College. I cried and cried every day, cause I felt that Xavier’s was my final destination. One day a month later I come back home from a boring day at college and my mom dad are sitting on the dining table telling me “pack your bags baby you are going to Xavier’s”. Yes that was the only year the Mumbai University decided to increase 20 seats in all colleges and since I was number 1 on the wait list I was given the first call.  Hence it’s called DESTINY and I believed in it only after this incident.

2)      Love is all around me so the feeling grows – I was basically that kid in school who was mostly fighting with the boys, setting up her guy friends with the pretty gals and nursing quiet crushes which were always crushed. So when I joined Xavier’s I told myself, “enough of being the best friend to everyone and being the gal whose never been kissed, I want to fall in love”. And the coming week in my first day at the college fest Malhar I met the most amazing guy. We talked and talked and slowly and steadily we fell in love. He was this rock star boyfriend and we were the couple all my friends called the cutest. We dated all three years of college and my college years were a smooth ride, the happiest and all that I imagined it would be. J

3)      If u really dream it, it will surely happen – the main reason I wanted to do the mass media course in Mumbai was NDTV, Srinivasan Jain and Barkha Dutt . I came to Mumbai to be a journalist and that too with NDTV. I had no other dream. I used to watch the channel, say the line “this is nivedita Lahiri for NDTV” in my sleep. So it was no surprise when my friends found out journalists from NDTV were in college doing a story, to come and tell me about it first. I ran down and met her and just told her what a crazy crazy fan I was about the channel and how badly I wanted to be a journalist. She said “mail your CV to Vasu@ndtv.com . Next hour I had mailed it and prayed and prayed every day. One week later I got the call and was told Vasu would like to meet me.Vasu turned out to be Srinivasan Jain himself and I was offered a 4 month internship with the channel where I did 15 stories which aired on the channel with the byline that said “this is nivedita lahiri for NDTV” J

4)      Make friends, make best friends and make true friends– While in college I lived in a PG with 18 girls. It was the best time and the most trying time of my life. I had a lot of roommates and lots of pg mates, but out of all 2 people stood out the maximum. My dearest roomie and mommy Bhavini and my second roomie and dearest friend Divya. I feel blessed that they were there cause they were older than me and helped me understand the nitty grittys of living alone. At the same time I met my soul mate and best friend wesleyanne in college. I made so many friends and they are all after 4 years of leaving college just a phone call away. (Manavi, Ryan, Tejas, Shawn and the list continues)

5)      Try everything and take all the opportunities this city throws at you – In 7 years I would have done so many different things it is difficult to keep tabs. From launching a newspaper to working with the best channel to working in ad agencies to working in a post production house and also being an usher at corporate events to standing behind a counter and trying to sell cigars to modeling and going for auditions for Hindi serials. It has all been fun and a complete crazy learning experience.

6)      Don’t take people for granted who actually love you and care about you – This cannot be explained but I think the point makes it clear. I have taken a few people for granted and realized that when someone loves you and is there for you it gets too easy and we want see what’s there that is tougher, and that makes us forget that maybe what we have in the first place is the best we could ever get.

7)      When living alone, your family matters so much more – 7 years ago, I never realized the value of my mom dad and sister. I used to always be irritated and pray every day when I could just get out. I guess it was the rebellious phase of my life. And now after all this while, I cannot think of one reason I would be angry at all three of them ever. My bond with my sister is tight, my mom is my closest buddy and my dad is always so proud of me. I want run away to my family every weekend and nothing makes me happier then to be with them and just relax.

8)      Your physical appearance can be a lot of pressure – being fat being thin being fat being thin, this city has certain definitions of looking good. And there was a point in my life where it bothered me every day. I couldn’t bear to look at myself in the mirror and always stepped out feeling under confident and stupid. But as I slowly realized, it’s just my head playing games with me. And moment I understood that I started taking care of myself and my body and feel healthy confident and beautiful J

9)      People will hurt you, talk bad about and make you feel like crap – this city can be ruthless. People will talk about you, whatever you do. You will always find someone in your regular haunt making nasty comments about you. And this bothered me a lot. I always wanted to clear the air, please people and make them realize I am not that gal they think I am. It’s taken its time, but now I have realized you can shut some people and as long as your conscience is clear LIFE IS GOOD

10)   You learn to enjoy your own company – I hated being alone or left alone. I always wanted a roommate or someone around me all the time. I hated being alone and sleeping on my own if my roommate decided to visit her parents. I could never go to a coffee shop and sip a coffee alone or eat food alone. But this city puts you in situations where you suddenly realize you are on your own. Hence I decided to love myself and enjoy my own company. Hence I started this blog. And it’s been TOTALLY WORTH IT. J

Soul mate?

Do you believe in soul mates? Do you believe that there is one person in this world who is the right fit to the puzzle? Dictionary.com describes a soul mate as someone with whom one has a strong affinity.

Nowhere does it say it’s the man who you will fall in love with or marry and that he is the one who will be your soul mate.

In a city like Mumbai, where so many people come to make something out of their lives, discover themselves, earn a living and fall in love, the chances of bumping into a soul mate is one in a million.

But what all of us have is that one friend who knows us, can understand us and is always there to hold our hands when we need them the most.

What if our best friend is our actual soul mate and men can just be awesome people who we have fun with?

This thought when put into action, makes us single women feel so much better. The pressure automatically reduces. In my 7 years in Mumbai, I have had the constant love and support of my best friend, who has been there for me through every breakup, every crappy job and every time I have been unwell. But in the end she becomes a best friend and the next guy I fall in love with is in the contention of a soul mate.

 

The ex-factor

How close should one be with an ex after you have amicably parted ways?

“Puhlezee, xyz is gone from my life, he is gone. I don’t want to be friends with him” says Ayesha (name changed to protect privacy😉), my friend who dated her boyfriend XYZ for a good 3 years and then parted ways. She says it’s impossible to remain friends with an ex even if the parting has been on good terms.

But then there is Shweta(name not changed to not protect any privacy), who is best friends with her ex after dating him for 3 years and then splitting up cause it was not gonna work out. She feels that once when you have been madly in love with a man, you cannot wake up one day and cut off that person and never talk to him again.

Personally I totally believe the proximity to an ex is directly proportional to the way the relationship began. Shweta and her ex had started of working in the same company. They started of being friends. Good friends. They had a relationship prior to them falling in love. A relationship based on respect, admiration and friendship. After a while they realized they wanted more than that and embarked on a committed relationship. When the committed relationship was not working out, it was easier to remove that aspect and continue from where it started off. More than a break up, it was two old friends getting back together.

Whereas, in Ayesha’s case, the relationship started off as attraction. Xyz used to always say, when Ayesha walked into class the first day, he fell in love with her, pursued her for 3 months till finally she gave in. So after the relationship ended, there wasn’t much getting back to.

A lot of people feel that being cordial with an Ex gets tough and it all depends on who gets into a new relationship faster. Ragini(name changed to protect privacy) tried really hard to be friends with her Ex. She would always say, I will never let him go or cut him off from my life. Then one fine day she bumped into her Ex and his new younger, thinner and hotter girlfriend. Within 3 months of their break up. Let’s just say, Ragini now doesn’t believe in being friends with the Ex.🙂

After hearing my friend’s experiences with their respective Exes I have come up with a 5 step rule that one should totally follow

1)      Dump the Ex completely if he has gone and found himself a hotter scandalous skanky GF within 6 months of the break up. ( he is just being an ass)

2)      Dump the Ex if he has gone and gained like a 100 pounds post your break up. (he is emotionally unstable)

3)      Dump the Ex if he cries in the night and tells you he still misses you and wants to be with you. ( this is only if you have no chances of ever getting back to him)

4)      Dump the Ex if he gets jealous of the new guys you have been hanging out with. (dude, the relationship is over and he is your friend. So he should mind his own business)

5)      Dump the Ex if he still calls you 4 times a day asking what you are up to and where will you be going? (He might be your friend on paper, but he is still your boyfriend in his mind.)