Friday, March 16, 2018


[2017 reflections] # I got a new manager at work. I resisted working with him (an Indian male) when I first heard about him. But I am thankful for his influence on my mind.


He introduced himself on the phone as a problem solver. A year later it seems like an obvious fact to me and surely many others who worked with him or even existed around him. But during that call I wondered why he said that. Why he was elevator-pitching at me. Sure, he was set to be my next manager, but I didn’t have any problems I wanted him to solve.

I was so wrong. He is leaving soon and I am wishing he’d stay. However, it’s good he’s leaving or I would have made him my crutch. Part of me wishes he’d stay because he’s the only person like himself.


I first met him in January 2017. My very first impression of him (beyond what was built up based on conversations about him) was that he looks like a wise, old man. The big eyes were filled with deep experience. I then thought he tried hard to get along and be liked by everyone. Just like the uncle who would always bring something for everyone every time he visited. Except that this guy wasn’t pleasing people with regular presents; he was unwrapping valuable gifts in the form of work solutions that colleagues needed. And they weren’t uniform gifts. He had solutions that ranged from product roadmaps to sales strategies to a how-to on dealing with difficult colleagues. Sometimes people didn’t know they needed a solution at all. He would just glide in, write a problem on the board making people believe in it, and then give them a solution for it as well. Most often, people left feeling thankful.


My conversations with him have ranged from deeply uncomfortable to highly inspirational. I have only known one other person whose practical application of their knowledge has been as precise and thoughtful as his. The only difference between the two has been their approach to how they interact with people around them. N, very consciously, has treated everyone as a peer, opening a channel that can only be productive in a professional interaction. I think it is safe to say that he is the type of person who takes people along with them. A year ago, I could not have imagined having a direct and open conversation with him or any other senior colleague without an unfounded fear established by hierarchy. Of course, there are still some people with whom I cannot be as open as I’d like, but I feel like I am now at a point where I don’t consider that as a shortcoming at my end.

He has left me in tears on occasion – not because he managed to offend me but because he helped me unravel perspectives (and sometimes facts) that I never considered with sufficient clarity or thought. I winced when he asked me to read a book on self-awareness. And I never read that book, but I now know why he asked me to read it.

I have also laughed at his absurdity and our disagreements alike. And I appreciate how he never made a bone about any of it.

He recently introduced me to the idea of an idea independent of the self. We agreed that I am a few steps away from being successful at not being attached to my ideas, but it certainly provoked a thought that I am glad has stuck with me.


His own defence mechanism is quite evident. As most things N, most of it is deliberate, and some of it natural. He has always come across as confident and in control, and I am not the one to get personal with anyone at work. But based on what I have sensed, I hope he does okay and gets all that he needs. I, for one, will always be wishing well.  


Friday, January 26, 2018


I have been a non-resident Indian (NRI) for four years. And that has defined a vast majority of my circumstances and actions throughout this time. Everything from my ability to vote for the British parliament to being at the receiving end of puzzled looks for pronouncing words differently from how they’re said outside India – it has all been about me being an Indian in a context outside of its boundaries, physical or otherwise.

I have consciously avoided discussing this position on social media and with most people outside my immediate circle because often instant judgments and opinions are passed at the mention of a fancy-sounding city. So, I neither post photos of the Big Ben, nor do I comment on India’s politics on Facebook. Because I fear all of it gets perceived through this first filter of a non-resident voice which leaves me a little more than uncomfortable. 

Some of these perceptions are grounded in fair assessment. If one is 5,000 miles away from the country, it is so convenient to make commentary about issues – political or civic – because undeniably, none of them affect us on a daily basis. 

I am also guilty of subscribing to the stereotype about NRIs loving to stroke their nostalgia about how great things are – or at least ought to be – back home. I left the country in 2014, before the last general elections, and that is my locus for how things are in India. #BMKJ is hard to digest because I don’t know whom to believe and with whom to argue. I don’t live there, so my alternative truth is all the more convoluted than those two people’s whose ideologies might differ but for whom at least the physical context is the same. 

But I still have a problem. 

NRIs are not just armchair activists or commentators, Karan Johar-loving desh bhakts who cry every time Rehman’s Swades shehnai echoes in their ears. They don’t all donate money to Modi even if a mind-boggling number of them are from Gujarat. And they aren’t all awestruck by the idea of India buying more Burberry bags than some other international markets. 

The privilege of an opportunity outside India goes away as soon as that plane leaves India’s boundaries. An NRI often begins as a mess in their host country because he/she doesn’t understand the words, the smells, the styles or the motivations of the people who surround them. 

They struggle to understand cultures. They struggle to adjust and be accepted. They struggle to make friends. They get hurt and learn lessons the hard way at work because they don’t know the ways of the new people. Their learning curves are steep and that is often on the back of having to start from scratch. 

If they make friends with only Indians – “oh what’s the point of being there then!” 

If they marry someone who’s not Indian – “oh my god this person is gone forever now!”

NRIs work on Republic Day, Holi, Independence Day, Rakhi, Diwali, you name it! Maybe Eid will be off. Christmas most likely will be off. They miss the weddings back home. And they miss the reunions too. Sometimes they choose to, but often they are forced to. It is heartbreakingly painful to come to terms with a grey, rainy, Diwali day, topped with a difficult day at work. There’s no luxury to pause for a day because it is the most special one of the year. And there is often no family to share a meal with either.  

And then they get judged for being brown. Sometimes they get attacked for being brown. The second-generation Indians judge them too. 

Amrish Puri’s dhobi ka kutta, na ghar ka, na ghaat ka rings true at some level. But what do you know, we still love DDLJ and all the current-day opulence. 

To be fair, many like me do live a good life despite these challenges. Same as being in Mumbai or Delhi, right? It is a good life even if sewers are over-flowing and auto guys continue to be a pain. I make a like-for-like comparison here. This is not about those Indians who go straight from a village in Punjab to Toronto or London, having completely skipped a big Indian city. Nor is this about an average middle-class person in Delhi or Mumbai who only goes to a mall or metro station for air conditioning. Like for like.  

The opportunity cost of an international opportunity is quite big, and often easily overlooked. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Meryl Streep

I watched The Post last weekend. There are two things that I took away from that afternoon. 

1. The movie began on an ordinary note and picked up at some point at the one-hour mark. And it only went up from there.

2. Meryl Streep blew my mind with her performance. I know there’s nothing that hasn’t already been said and established about her and her skills, but oh-my-god she brought out the core of her character, built over several decades, in just over an hour. Her body language and gestures and voice and expressions, packaged with great dialogues and Steven Spielberg’s direction left me with a massive lump in my throat. And it wasn’t a linear emotion of sadness. Her acting was so fantastically nuanced that I think I experienced empathy for a distraught woman, along with pride and joy for her and her decisions all at the same time. She subtly brought to life the journey and transformation of a woman who always founded her identity in family to someone who owned a room (and the screen) full of middle-aged white men ready to walk all over her.

What a scene! 

How can one be so brilliant! SO MUCH RESPECT!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

That Struggle

For a while now I have felt the pressure of ‘showing up’ and ‘being visible’ or ‘being heard’ in professional and social settings. Some of this pressure comes from the people around me – those who are in a position to judge or offer advice – and some of it is self-imposed. 

Over the years, I have read a lot about personality types, introversion and people having different sources of energy or different motivations to behave in the manner that they choose. But I have not yet succeeded in identifying and (therefore) being comfortable in a space that I can call my own. 

There are times when I agree with this advice I receive and work on exactly what people say – being visible and heard. I make an effort to voice my points of view or make space for myself in group settings. Then there are times where my lack of interest in a topic supersedes the said effort. You know, where I just cannot be bothered. The action could be directly related to the topic, or to the people associated with it and their behaviour, or simply a lack of energy that I often experience for a reason not apparent to me. 

Then there are times when my mind refuses to ‘adapt’ and wishes for others to adapt to my style. Maybe sometimes some people do adapt. But it feels inadequate quite often. It feels as though others are continuing with their high-pitch, high energy world and I am getting behind, with only my stillness for company. 

And then there are times when I genuinely experience big spurts of energy which make me want to lead from the front, be in the centre of the universe, even compete with others for that single spot under the light. 

I don’t know how to bring this all together. There are a few thoughts and actions in progress, but I still don’t have a view of the string that ties it all together.

Firstly, I have taken that professional advice seriously and signed up for professional coaching that can help me be visible and advance in my career. Part of me hates it and another part of me loves how empowering it feels. 

Secondly, the arrogance voice in my head that works on improving my confidence tells me that I don’t have to bend over backwards to be able to fit in or move along with the rest of the world. That voice has influenced an idea to start something where I can bring people like myself together and start a commercial venture that operates outside of the traditional, type A, exhausting model. Something that genuinely draws on the strength of people like myself, not do lip-service in the name of diversity. I shared this idea with another person like myself who was very pleased to learn about it. That confirmed I am not the only one wishing for something like it. I just don’t know yet what it is that this venture could monetise. 

The challenge is that I want everything. I want success as measured in the world that I don’t see myself fitting into. And I want to stop oppressing parts of my mind that feel out of sync with the rest of the world. And then, I need to address the gap that exists in my mind about my ability to excel at anything specific. ASIDE: as a child, I wondered if there was a profession for cutting paper with scissors because I enjoyed the process too much. I still do. So, if there does exist such a profession, please do inform me about it.

I’d agree with you if after reading this you think that being honest with myself and introducing some discipline in my life could be good starting points. But I struggle with the latter. I have tried many different approaches. But I struggle.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Another year down!

The uninteresting thing about this past year is that it was part-success and part-failure. What is notable though is that I was acutely aware of the shortcomings that led to what I believe were failures, and I tussled with my mind through every moment I spent with myself to overcome what that awareness was doing to my mind.

My conversations with myself have reduced considerably over the past few years, but I remember reassuring and reminding myself of the good things on many-a-walks to and from the tube this year. It is safe to say that 2017 has been about resurrecting, protecting and boosting my confidence across every aspect of life.

It was a somewhat slow year though, with no events and milestones comparable to the past few years’. But maybe that is what I needed to be able to reflect, work on the confidence and think about the future. I had given up on future-planning in 2007. And again in 2010. And again in 2014. Let’s see if 2018 can be different. But we’ll come back to that another time. Let’s first drive through 2017 and tell me if you see a trend through it.

It is hard to remember the highlights given the poor performance of this journal this year. But here’s what we have…

# In January, I returned from a holiday in India to my first maternity photo shoot on a biting cold day. It was fun and resulted in another assignment within weeks, which was already an improvement over the previous one.

# I also did a baby shoot and enjoyed myself more than I expected to.

# I missed a wedding in Goa that I’d have liked to attend, not least for the fact that the teetotaller C had champagne there and I would have liked to enjoy his company in that light-headed state too.

# I gave running a serious go for the first time. I prepared for and ran a 10k in the spring. It was hard work. I didn’t credit myself enough for it knowing that I could have done a lot better and that there are much bigger milestones to achieve in that space. I did realise the value of it immediately (less fat and better health) but it was much later (when I tried to resume running after a few months) that I realised what I had managed was also considerable. I closed the year with a 5k on yet another crazily cold day before I went off for a final holiday with the family in India.

# C was the biggest support through this business of running. I don’t know if I would have been able to do what he did, or if I had even been able to do what I did, without him.

# I started the process of getting a driver’s license AGAIN. If I hit my death bed before getting this document, I might just classify it as the biggest bummer of my life.

# We travelled differently this year. Instead of many small trips, we did two long ones (Greece and Italy) and a few domestic ones.

# Greece was special because there I trekked 16 kilometres through one of Europe’s longest gorges, Samaria. #personalbest and all that. And it had lovely beaches. And some amazing drives. Plus good food with feta cheese in everything. And the world’s best oranges.

# My tablet got stolen in that country too!

# But what do you know, my new phone got stolen in London!

# We bought a used car, a Mini, and made a few special trips to the English countryside - New Forest, Bath, Castle Comb, Epping Forest and Wotton.

# We also realised that we got conned with that car and so we sold it after several painful and costly attempts at its upkeep.

# I personally don’t regret it because not only did it teach us a thing or two about cars, but I got to explore and experience places in a manner that was otherwise impossible.

# I discovered rapeseed fields in the UK which are exactly like our sarson ke khet!

# I drove past sarson ke khet in Rajasthan!

# I hope you realise sarson ke khet is an I-love-DDLJ-and-am-a-romantic special!

# I bought my first bikini.

# And I bought a pair of boots that I had been looking for, for three years – black, leather (not suede), knee-length, flat and comfortable.

# I bought more Batman memorabilia – from cufflinks to doormat – for the mister.

# I experienced heavy snowfall for the first time during one of many work trips to Oslo.

# I had a massive fall in the snow. It was effing painful but hilarious given that I was walking with a funny bunch of colleagues who laughed at me like teenagers do in such situations.

# One of the Norway work trips had an overnight meeting in a cabin in the mountains three hours from Oslo. That venue may just top my list of take-aways from this job.

# I had a mini crush on a dashing and absurdly handsome colleague. It was several months ago but I still cannot believe my eyes every time I see him. Maybe I am still crushing.

# I received the most articulate and pointedly negative criticism of my career. This was followed up by a rather embellished appreciation by the same man the morning after. And then a large bottle of alcohol for good work a few weeks later. Corporate joys.

# Birthday was a surprise trip to the mountains in Scotland! This included C writing to my manager and getting a holiday approved without my knowledge. Thank goodness it went well.

# Priyam sent me a hand-written card.

# The mom-dad duo visited London!

# During that trip, I discovered some new things about my dad and my relationship with him.

# Mom could not get over the floral delight of London’s fake summer and I am so glad she could experience it.

# I did another trek – between two coastal villages in Cinque Terre, Italy – on a day so hot that C took his shirt off during the trek. The views were spectacular but I wasn’t wearing the right shoes.

# Tuscany was a dream and I cannot believe I used to judge people who picked Italy when given a choice to travel to one country in Europe from India.

# I visited limestone caves and saw stalactites and stalagmites 15 years after I first learned about them in Chemistry class.

# C also tried a local wine in Tuscany which he loved so much that we went fine-dining to the only restaurant in London that served it and later ordered an entire case of that red for home!

# Went on board the London Eye.

# Awkwardly accessed free food and drinks at an airline lounge for the first time.

# Too many people announced pregnancies while I still interrogate the purpose of having a child.

# I took my first staycation and I think should plan more of those for the next year.

# Sahil and I met after over three years.

# I tried resuming Zumba but I just cannot seem to find the right instructor and class. The one in Abu Dhabi has been hard to match.

# Ruhi moved to London!

# Avan came to spend a night with me and we spoke all night! It felt as though a year’s worth of burden came off my mind.

# I saw a gorgeous sunset in Udaipur.

# I started taking 1:1 coaching for professional development.

# I watched the goddess, Abida Parveen live! Sigh, the goosebumps!

# I also watched Aditi Mittal live (ahem) and admitted to being a connoisseur of toilet humour.

# I got excessively bothered by the actions and existence of someone I dislike.

# Suvvir finally seemed to start thinking beyond cars.

# And I luckily managed to make it to his 5th birthday party.

# I got gifted a tiger ornament from someone at work who believes that it is my spirit animal. It is hard to describe the feeling it gave to my battered heart.

# I took a trip with family to Jaipur. The last time we all travelled together was in 2013.

# I was diagnosed with restless legs syndrome. Meh.

# I had another root canal.

# I thought about starting something of my own.

# I let the mane grow to its longest length yet, and the recent haircut was the cheapest of the last five years (because it was boring). It is ironic that fashionable London has made my hair boring – all thanks to its humidity!

# My sugar addiction got worse. I’m open to help you might have to offer.

# I got a new manager at work. I resisted working with him (an Indian male) when I first heard about him. But I am thankful for his influence on my mind.

# I had to give up on yet another relationship. I can’t believe this keeps happening every year. Now waiting for a damn steady state.

# 31 is a very boring number.

# I have decided to learn python in the new year.

# I met one of the super-bosses from the past and was surprised by how warm and forthcoming he was!

# I spoke with one of the other bosses I used to admire, and was disappointed by his manner.

# I went to the Suraj Kund Mela for the first time. What an over-hyped and underwhelming carnival!

# 2.5 years down, and I am still struggling to withdraw my provident fund!

# New Year’s Eve was quiet last year, and I have a feeling it will be even quieter this year. 

Friday, November 24, 2017


What is the ideal distance between reality and imagination? If we consider a basic two-dimensional axis, with reality plotted at 0, how far out can we stretch in either direction before losing sight of the 0?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Stating the obvious

Do you ever experience that feeling where most things you hear seem obvious, and most things you (want to) say also seem obvious? Obviously, that leaves a lot of room for silence, but silence isn’t easy to deal with for most people. Whether it’s the professional world or personal spaces, many individuals tend to fill up space and time with obvious words, leaving you bored and jaded.

Aside: I know some of you can sense the paradox here.

But then there are things that blow your mind – facts you weren’t familiar with, stories that are well-told, opinions that you value, and so on. But those facts may be obvious to someone else, that story might not be compelling for another person, and as is the case often enough, opinions aren’t appreciated by many.

Does that mean those words shouldn’t be shared? Or does it mean people should be credited for their ability to discern and select what they genuinely find stimulating? The latter, obviously?

I personally struggle to retain interest in anything or anyone for long. That directly impacts my motivation levels and as a result, the outcomes of anything I might desire. I can’t keep a hobby, I can’t keep to a fitness regime, I can’t even commit to foods I like because I get bored easily. It is a difficult place to be in because this behaviour compromises my ability to achieve the superlative in any space, leaving a sense of resentment that is hard to negotiate.

The other extreme that I experience is obsession. It doesn’t take much for me to get obsessive about things. These range from relationships (ie, why didn’t they reply to my message) to codes that I spend hours trying to fix despite being acutely aware that my knowledge of the language that is a prerequisite for that solve is abysmally low.

I oscillate between feelings of envy and respect for people who channel their obsessions productively towards a goal that matters to them. Meanwhile I blankly spiral in my maze of unfinished thoughts, words and businesses.  

Thursday, September 28, 2017


A wound brings out the tiger in me, not the puppy. 

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Why I love my friends of 10 years ago, feel a hesitant affection for the new ones, but there’s largely a non-emotion for most of those I hang out with today

For me, love has always had a direct correlation with vulnerability. People who feel comfortable enough to expose their vulnerability to me and those whom I can trust with mine have probably been the most special. Of course, it works the other way around too. If I lose trust in someone for some reason, the first thing that will lead to a receding feeling of love is my unwillingness (or inability, really) to be open and vulnerable with them.

Ten or more years ago, Swami me and friends were basically a big group of hormones and emotions on steroids. Even if we wanted and tried, vulnerability was hard to disguise. Personally, I would take that over polished conversations about politics any day. The only thing I’d perhaps change is the number of people whose drama (obviously associated with it) I’d embrace. The threshold for that has gone down. And my unverified sense is that this continuously declining threshold (which later converts into one for own babies) also has a big role to play in people ‘growing up’. And of course, it happens across entire networks of friends.

I must admit though that being a grown up is boring. The process of getting here has sucked out a lot of emotion and energy. Or as some people might want to put it, it has made them more ‘put together’ and ‘in control’. Right, like you can ever control life!

Coming back to people. The thing about those old emotionally charged times is that in most cases they see you and relationships through many years that follow. I may have not seen some people I consider my closest friends in over three years, but when I do, not for a moment will I think that I can’t discuss the colour of my poop or the shape of my heart with them. We built our floats together when we had all that unaccounted-for time. Most of those floats are in good shape.

Before you start questioning all this through the marital lens, yes, that does change things a little. But it doesn’t have to call for a "you are a different person now that you’re married" monologue. Of course, we are all different from what we used to be! Many come in a pack of two and that changes the dimension (ha!) of conversations at times. Some more significantly than others. But the core doesn’t change.

This is not how new friendships operate.

There are some people who are of the open and outgoing variety, willing to have a conversation about what’s on their minds. In my experience, they have been the easiest to forge a connection with. Mind you, they aren’t necessarily the centre-of-the-class attention grabbers. They often are, but the qualifier really is that they haven’t fully subscribed to the notion of being perfect when in public. And that’s enough to work with. 

But a conversation about the weather, the parks, food or the movies, politics or M&As, one lovely vacation versus another, or even cats and maids doesn’t do it for me. It is utterly sad but it is true. I am guilty of indulging in this. And you know how peer pressure shows up at 30? If they don’t seem to fall or fail, how can they know that I do!

Monday, December 19, 2016

10 Years of Fuchsia

Fuchsia completes ten years this month. It has been a special companion over the years. It has given me memorable moments and unique friendships and been the best mirror I could have to reflect and right-size my perspective on various things. 

A decade is a long time if, like me, you enjoy reflecting on the past. I am so embarrassed by the things that I wrote about in 2007 that I almost want to make it all private. And yet, knowing that I was awfully invested in most of what I wrote I’d rather let it all sit as one long, unedited story because that is what it really is. So, as I judge 20-year-olds today for their immaturity, misplaced priorities and unexplainable sense of self, Fuchsia does the painful job of humbling me because that’s how I could define the 20-year-old me as well. My sense of self may still be questionable but then that will remain true even when I turn 50. 

I reached out to almost everyone who I know reads or used to read this space, to get a view of what they made of it. Most of these folks are very dear friends anyway but their words have all been extremely kind – in part pleasantly surprising and mostly heart-warming. There was an obvious trend in terms of things that are popular: the year-end reviews top that list, followed by the travelogues, people posts and the fact that most people struggle with the name’s spelling. 

I promised these people (you) that I will publish their inputs on the blog but I am feeling torn about it because so many of those words have been given a lot of thought and feeling and I have connected with them in a very personal way. When I first made the request, the intent was to simply find a meaningful way of celebrating this milestone for the blog. But I guess I didn’t think through the fact that the blog and I are interchangeable given the nature of the content here. Long story short – I am feeling shy about it all. But to keep my word and for posterity, I am copying below all the responses, along with a few words on my relationship with respective authors. 

AB - the deep thinking, thoughtful and quiet person who has been around since 2008.

"1. - because people mock me for the first few adjectives till this day and I go back to the post when I feel low sometimes.
2. - because this is true each time reality hits you in the face from a friendship/relationship gone wrong
3. - because I missed it and this made me live it
4. - because you need no reason not to like it"

SS - the college junior who is uncannily similar and yet so different from me. We have hardly ever exchanged a word outside the virtual world, but there have been one too many exchanges about broken hearts and we have had a strangely parallel life story.

"Ok, so this isn't one particular post, but I absolutely loved going through your annual roundup at the end of every year....and the fact that you seem to share my love for bullet points :D

Over the years, your blog has been a mirror of my life, a friend in need (and once an actual friend with flowers on a bad day!).

And at any point, it seems to have more direction than mine!! 

Tell me something new!!!"

SP - a blogger friend from when the idea of a blog was new and Blogger wasn't a Google product. We have come a long way since those very different times of online banter which also led to real friendships. 

"Happy Birthday to Fuchsiafunny! Can't believe it's ten years already! Over the course of these ten years, how things have changed! There was a time, we were writing blogs thrice a week, and playing "Me Firsts" over who would comment first. Then there were those tag posts. 

For some of us, the habit of writing blogs came down to once a week, then once a month, and then ... just blank. Glad you are still up to it. I promise I will visit more often."

RA - the friend whose name brings a smile to the face and whose words are music for the ears. I hope he seriously considers writing for the world, and I sincerely hope he gets all that he deserves in life.

"I cannot begin to tell you how happy it makes me that Fuchsia is 10. Even though I still can't spell it correctly (despite Priyam's best attempts), your blog means a lot more than I will ever be able to explain in words. The closest I can describe it is that one warm comfortable place we all have in our heads when we need a place to rest and just be. You and your blog have always been that to me and will always be. With the right words, at the right time with just the right amount of weight needed. No matter the time or the distance, every post has always felt like an on-going conversation we can pick up when we need to.

My happiest memories from your blog are two-fold - travel and friends. I still maintain that you are the best when it comes to planning travel. Dates, routes, plans, people, you have it all. And more than anything else, you have the drive to make it happen even with everyone else around you might flake (guilty always). Each of your travel posts is rich not just for the meticulous plans but for the human aspects of it. I can tell by the words the Excel sheet that must have been made, hear the conversations before decisions taken, and sense the palpable excitement the night before. The fact that it comes out so clearly and well researched is testimony to your will to make things happen. I can never match that and it is something that I will always admire you for. 

Posts about your friends are my other favourite. I know some, I don't know the others but there is a warmth in the way they are described which must make them pretty darn special. Your inner circle is made up of wonderful people and posts about them are a joy to read because you can tell exactly why they are so special to you. It is one thing to reach out and write about someone, it is something else to do with all your heart. You always manage the latter. I hope you never lose this quality of going beyond just the person and their circumstances but really look into who they are and what makes them special to you. I know each one of them are glad to call you a friend for it. 

I know that the words don't come as easily anymore (I have waited for them none the less), nor does the will to post with the rigour you used to earlier but it is all part of a process I feel is good for you. They will come when they must, just like everything else in life. I have long realised that to fight it and attempt things that are not ready for their time is futile and heartbreaking. 

Fuchsia is and will always be a celebration of your life. And the people and things that make it what it is, new and old. I am just glad to be part of the ride." 

KR - I found him in a corner of the Internet, writing about life at the college I was considering joining. Join I did but again, we hardly ever exchanged a word on campus. I'm glad though that there were other meaningful words over the years, even if limited in number.

"For me, the one thing that always stood out was your thoughts on family and family members. Rather than soppy love letters to people we love, they drew out family members as characters for me, adding details over time. The other thing was your travelogues- they were long and winding (sometimes) but they gave more than we went here and did that. And the photologues were always a treat!

Please start writing again."

CG - Brevity in words and vastness in emotion (often for the self, as reflected here). He has supported and encouraged me like I would have never expected anyone to. 

"You write well.

Keep writing.

I really like your travel blogs chronicling your trips. It would be ideal if you can post them sooner after your trips rather than a year.

Also I like your husband character…."

PC - The friend with a big heart and romantic dreams. Always there for everyone around her, including those who don't see her. 

"Congratulations once again on Fuchsia’s special birthday! 

Until 2008, fuchsia was just a colour. But then everything changed. 

I cannot remember the exact circumstances in which I was introduced to fuchsiafunny (I still wonder why you named it so) – but I recall it being a routine to check it several times a week for new content. You were called Aarbee and I was massively impressed. 

Fuchsia and you introduced me to blogging. To be able to chronicle moments and feelings in a way that was private and exclusive to people whom I shared it with. I still remember the day you came down to my hostel room and helped me created my own blog – which has been ignored this past year, but still dear to me. I cannot thank you enough! 

I’ve always loved reading your year-in-review posts – like this one – and have shamelessly adapted it into a style of mine. Also, I was often inspired by how you chronicled trips, never concentrating on the best photograph – but the best moment. 

However, my particular favourites have been the little profile posts you did on people. It felt like those were things you would never say – but could express with so much ease. Obviously the one that touched my heart was a little line you once wrote for me in this post – I don’t think I’ve been described better. Thank you.

Also, thank you – 
for introducing me to blogs 
for always reading mine, and taking it seriously
for never giving up on writing

Here’s to another awesome decade for Fuchsia! <3"

NS - Funnily, in this short list of people, she is the third with whom I only barely exchanged smiles in the hostel and maybe never spoke for real. We've had a quiet equation through our blogs but it has been very special, nonetheless. 

"...Knowing you has been a unique experience. True to the laws of the physical world—I saw you first and then heard you through Fuschsia! And this journey has been incredibly inspirational, beautiful and comforting.

Inspirational: Because it made me want to write and express. Made me realize how empowering and therapeutic a blog can be. I had a blog when I first read Fushsia but I made it me and mine only later.

Confession: Sometimes before I got down to writing my own post, I would often visit Fuschsia to warm up to the melody of words, moments and emotions.

Beautiful: Because the journey has been so! We have not met since I started reading Fuchsia but I feel I know you—not in terms of your favorite food, movie etc. But in the sense of being comfortable and confident buying a birthday present for you :)

Comforting: Because you make vulnerability cool! As a writer, I have always been conflicted and cautious of what I write but reading you helped me understand where I wanted to settle. That sweet spot of honesty, realization and acceptance. I truly admire the way you travel and report from the spaces of heart and mind!

Fuchsia has helped me in my journey as a person and as a writer! Thank you for creating and nurturing it! It has been a pleasure knowing you :)"

AK - Mad friend, with whom I first interacted at a random group discussion ten years ago too. Our next interaction was several months later in a completely different setting. It's sisterly love now. 

"Fuschia Funny is my window into one of my bestest friend’s heart. Every few weeks I find myself typing “F….u….s….c…h….” – you get it – into Google to find out what’s happening with “RB’s” life. 

I always tell you - that it doesn’t matter how close we are, you’re one person whose feelings I can never predict. I find it amusing that I get so unexpectedly surprised or moved by some of the things you say on the blog. Like half the things you say there – I never see them coming! As much as that might reflect badly on me from an outsider’s perspective, that’s precisely what makes your blog so precious to me. It’s my way of truly knowing you as well as I possibly can. 

The other thing that makes it precious is that it always makes me feel connected to your life. Save a camping trip to Rishikesh aeons ago, we never got around to planning a vacay together after that, now the continents keep us apart, and the last 5 times we met, felt like a 30 minute summary of the months gone by. So the blog is my friend here and I don’t feel like you live a thousand miles away from me, whenever I’m reading it.

My favourite blog posts were all the ones that had me mentioned in them. Ok, kidding, kidding.

My hands-down all-time favourite posts are your ‘year in reviews’! And just as I started writing this, I went to your blog once and realized that the one for 2016 is already up! Big, Fat, Yay! They’re honest and motivational and funny and such a great testimony to how self-aware you are. They force me to think about how my own year was and help me feel grateful about the good things and learn from the bad things that went down that year. Everyone in the world should I have year-in -review, like you do! It is the bestest post and I look forward to it every year  ☺

I wanna end this by raising a huge toast to ten years of your honest and heartwarming writing. And know that no matter how little or how much you write or no matter where you are in the world, you’ll always have a reader who feels almost child-like excitement, at the thought of a new post on Fuschia Funny."

I am grateful for the time each of you take to read and respond to my words. Your words now and always (either as comments or personal notes and phone calls) complete the feelings that I feel. As much as writing in itself is a healing process, your words have saved me on my worst days. And as much as the blog gives me a listener for an endless rant, your responses tell me I can continue to do what I like without being classified as mad.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Long Read

2016. The year of Brexit. The year of Trump. The year of proxy wars. The year of ugly politics the world over. Another year of irreparable damage to nature. The generations to come will have a lot to study about this year. Whatever form our species takes in the coming centuries will also have much to understand how we go extinct. 

In the past, friends from India and I have dwelled over how we form and represent a small, perhaps one per cent of India’s population. It is widely understood that India is a complex beast but we often lose ourselves in our little bubbles and get frustrated with the things that happen (or not) in the country. 

The events of this year have reinforced just how disconnected our bubble really is from reality. To vote for the UK to stay in Europe and be shocked at the results was a rude shock for many like me living in major cities in the country. But what it did do was readjust my compass to make an effort to understand how most people are thinking. 

Trump kept shocking and entertaining us through most of the year but after Brexit, I did not rule out the possibility of him winning the election. The shock when he won was at the people who could not believe it. The heartbreak and emotional turmoil that it caused was also interesting for me to observe. Obviously, it was more visible among American friends and colleagues but I have never before witnessed that kind of response to a political event. Obama’s 2008 victory came with such positivism that I didn’t make much of it then. Of course, in 2008, I was more consumed by being on that hill top, submitting assignments, crushing on nature, attempting to make a long distance relationship work, picking up on the world of the questionably wise, old monk that I probably did not even register much beyond the fact that the US had a new president. 

These memories of 2008 are making me shake my head and smile as I sit here on a disputed window seat of a Dreamliner on a long haul flight to my old home, Abu Dhabi. A young desi family in true desi style just sat on my seat and expected me to take their seat elsewhere in the cabin when I arrived. Of course, I did not choose seat number 79 to give up on my window. And so I refused and made a kid get up. I felt a little cheap but only a little. 

Being on an Etihad aircraft to Abu Dhabi also brings back memories. It is already two years since that as well. A lot of that time was bitter and negative but I often remember the good times spent in my breezy studio by the beach. And so I am glad to be hitting AD even if for an hour at the airport before I reach Delhi on a holiday! I have made several work trips home this year but most of them have been hectic and stressful. And this one is tad special as I will go to my parents’ home straight from the airport after more than a year. And with all that, I justify dancing in my seat to dhinchak Bollywood numbers. I have a feeling these headphones aren’t the greatest and so people around me can not only see my bobbing head but also clearly know what’s making me do it. But who cares!

2016. A new job. More travel. A new house. A lot of negotiations. New relationships. New culture. A learning curve in relationships. Weight gain. Same old pattern of health issues. Some clingy fragments of the past. A few anxieties about the future…..shall we dive deeper? 

Let’s go.

# The new year began with an active chase for a job which finally worked

# I continued to engage with the last employers but these latest interactions with the local office were also a darn shit show and I finally figured people are the same world over and got over the awe I was in with that company!

# I do owe my current job in part to some fine people from that last job and I am thankful for it

# I visited Sicily which was heavenly for the sun it gave my eyes and my body when I was beginning to die of London’s endless winter, for the brilliant food it offered in veggie form, and for the bloody brilliant time those three days were!

# I also visited Amsterdam and experienced its canals, space cakes, tulips, windmills and the different air even if the city was busier than I had imagined or would have liked

# C trained for and ran a half marathon in record time. I went and cheered at Wembley stadium. I experienced the easy feeling of pride and I also experienced the much harder feeling of inspiration and motivation

# Nine months later I finally acted on that inspiration (still in part) and signed up for a run myself – a 10k to begin with. I hope and pray I can prepare for it in a good way

# We didn’t make a trip we wanted to because it involved trekking for 16 kms through a gorge and C didn’t want to have me risk going for it unprepared. We have now booked that trip for May of 2017.

# I consumed a lot of sugar and have a worrisome extra five kilos on me

# I tested for diabetes, thought one of my biscuits was my last sugary treat, but the test was negative and I continue on 

# Pragya visited a couple of times and we managed to add an interesting layer to the friendship

# I witnessed completely juvenile Whatsapp politics and wished maturity for some people

# I travelled a bit too much for work, but then I also earned the bronze tier on British Airways because of it. An early check in and avoiding queues is a good enough benefit for now.

# We went to Gran Canaria for our first anniversary and I cannot begin to describe what the sun there did for my body and mind. Whatever it did for our relationship was incidental. Maybe I will someday log that travel, but for now, know that it is a gorgeous place, it stays warm throughout the year, Brits love it, and I totally know why!

# Got involved in a high profile work event with the biggest global CEOs. It was a tiring but interesting experience that involved lunching on a fancy boat on the Thames and dinners at the Globe and Cutty Sark

# Mom and dad moved homes in Delhi and with that I partially lost a home in my home city. The one I got married from was home for 19 years

# Some more friends had babies and I will soon stop telling my mother about these developments just as I had stopped telling her of people’s weddings a few years ago

# I celebrated a very colourful Holi at work

# And I had some awkward conversations about India’s independence with a few British colleagues

# There were a few weddings in the UK – an Indian-German one, an Indian-British one and a Indian-Polish one. I loved how personalised the experience was for guests. 

# I also attended a Hungarian wedding in Budapest and amusingly was one of the few ‘foreigners’ who were treated special by the hosts and their families. This also included a high energy series of dances with the groom’s 70-year-old father

# In Budapest, we rode on a tram route (over)rated on the list of top 10 scenic rides in the world. That said, Budapest is a gorgeous and lovely city!

# And then there were weddings I missed

# I was mandated to join a session of improv comedy. I was so worried that my lack of spontaneity will let me down that I had a couple of drinks before going in for it. But it turned out to be one of the fun-est things I have ever done!

# I also went for a murder mystery game and did quite poorly at it

# There was recognition at work – of my successes and weaknesses alike, with a lot of help to address the weaknesses

# I kept the tradition of going to the ER (twice) and experienced first-hand the mess that the UK’s healthcare is!

# There were several house parties – some fun, some random

# Diwali was in London

# I turned 30. I am still not comfortable saying this number out loud, but lately I have been thinking of the many experiences of the past 10-15 years that I feel it has been a memorable enough journey to this number and I should embrace it warmly

# Tried again with Avan’s help to complete my wedding video. Hopefully I will get it before the end of the year

# I had this dream for my 30th birthday. I never learned how to ride a bike because I was busy hopping countries. So I thought of going for a trek in snowy mountains for the birthday instead. I have anyway been longing to go back to the mountains for a while now. But snow in Europe in September is hard to reach. A trip in remote Switzerland would have been ideal, but I was frustrated and upset with how logistically hard and expensive it was turning out to be! And I clearly never did it.

# Instead, Chetak kindly helped plan Snowdonia as a funny ‘snow’ trek even though there would not have been any snow then. That trek didn’t happen either because the weather wasn’t on our side. And being in the countryside meant no phone network and therefore hardly any phone calls and wishes. If you haven’t figured yet, I am still bummed about all the things that did not work out even though it was a lovely trip in itself. 

# I did get a nice surprise party for the birthday which made up for all that wasn’t.

# We also went dancing and experienced mundeyan to bach ke rahi on the dance floor during the Notting Hill carnival

# A separate trip to the city of bells, Brugge was one of the biggest highlights of the year. The place was musical, scenic, quiet and very refreshing! These away-from-the-city breaks are hard to match.

# C gifted me a watch with my initials on it 

# Watched Vir Das live in London

# Watched Zakir Hussain live again 

# Visited a remote Swedish town for work and ticked off the bucket list item of seeing windmills in water 

# C got his UK driving license and we went for our first road trip with dear boys in a red Jeep :D

# I made an effort to connect with people from past life in the current city and balance my being in this foreign land beyond C and his friends

# An important relationship finally came up for air after nearly two years. It will never be the same again but I am glad the negativity is behind us.

# In my true retrospective, reflecting self, I kept sharing Facebook ‘memories’ with friends. It doesn’t help that I and many of them are spread out across the world. 

# Demonitisation happened

# Samsung gave new life to my phone with a complete overhaul over the summer

# Bought a new Canon

# I was gifted a tablet to read but I failed to read

# I started using a credit card. I know I said I started doing it when I moved to Abu Dhabi, but I now use it for 20p transactions as well. I still think it is stupid to buy on credit and then pay a bill at the end of the month when you can buy directly with a debit card. But things you do for points, offers and miles!

# This one comes low in this list just so I could reflect hard and remember the finer details of the year – we bought a flat of our own!

# We bought 200 kilos worth of furniture from Ikea and I discovered I enjoy DIY.

# C and I had a similar amount’s worth of arguments as well

# I told C that we will go easy with setting up the new home, enjoying the process instead of making a burden of it. Instead, I single-mindedly spent several evenings either buying stuff for home or just unpacking, setting up, hammering nails, et al. I could still go back and spend a dedicated week on it. We are, after all, still a few months away from completing the set-up.

# Close friends helped a great deal with the packing, moving and settling in

# Leaving my first house in the city was nothing short of an end of an era

# A fortnight still to go and I figure this has become a very long read