Every Weekend’s Story!

For someone who has always been nocturnal, the early morning exercise routine is almost no-no. And well, evenings are the harbinger of all joy and no pain, which means no exercise again! I am not proud of it, but when week days and nights go as hectic as they have been for the last couple of months for me, it becomes truly difficult to make time for the most important tool of our life – our body!

The light-hearted doodle strip is only to bring upon a smile, albeit a familiar one sprinkled with a little bit of guilt; but  also here’s to everyone who tries! To take out that little bit of time and spend it on the well-being of our body and mind.

May our weekends be less like the below. Cheers!

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Elevator Enlightenments

It is almost 12:30pm and I am finishing up an email in a hurry. I need to hop out to meet hubby for a quick lunch. This is Thursday afternoon, sun is out again and having a lunch date in the middle of a work day is never a bad idea. Our favourite joint has reopened after 2 months, with a new look & name and guess what, they are giving a 50% discount on all bills for the first week! Oh of course, we care more for the food there. And, I find myself not really typing much anymore; my thoughts have drifted to the delicious bowl of katsu curry…

My stomach growls so I finish the email, grab my jacket in style and sprint to the doors. I’m the only one in the elevator, so I think to myself this will be a quick ride down thankfully. I turn to the mirror behind me, adjust my glasses and glare at my hair. I quickly comb my hand through the sides and sigh looking at it. It is never in its place. The number of times I must have pursed my lips and cursed my hair is tending to infinity by now.

I hear the polite elevator lady come alive suddenly; it has stopped on a few floors below and two impeccably dressed ladies walk in . I know this is the Human Resources floor, they usually walk in and out in groups, incessantly chatting. We exchange customary smiles and I begin to stare at the floor. Not really, I am actually checking out their shoes, I have a fetish. Well, who doesn’t!

And I digress.

An elevator is a small area, so even if you are too polite you cannot help but overhear the conversations. Perhaps that’s why people fall back on complete silence, sometimes stop breathing even I feel. But not my two companions today! They are discussing how their arms aren’t getting any thinner, how their skin looks dull, and how envious one is of the other’s well-shaped glossy nails, among other such comparative compliments. It is the ground floor finally, I zip up my jacket and head out. The sunshine isn’t warm, the wind is strong and chilly. My hair begins to fly all over the place and I keep trying to pull it back together. Sighing all through. 

My thoughts slowly drift back to the conversation in the elevator. It is almost ingrained in us to find faults with our appearance, isn’t it? No matter which part of the world, women will never be at peace with their bodies. No wonder the skinny models and photoshopped posters have become benchmarks for perfection, and sadly so. I have disliked my hair from the time I have stored memories in my brain! And what if, I think to myself, hating my hair for all these years is actually what made it worse! What if I had sent some good, positive energy, some love towards it and maybe my hair would have listened and only got better with time?

It is just a theory. But it sure sounds like it will be worth a try. Doesn’t it boil down to loving and accepting ourselves for who we are, exactly the way we are? Loving our outward appearance is as important, probably more so in today’s times, so that we are not driven to madness by the judgmental world. So what her hair is curly, or my waist isn’t 28 inches anymore, so what your eyebrows aren’t done or her thighs are prominent. These quirks are what make each of us unique, and we should be accepting of us, as a whole.

I am approaching the other end of this long walk to hubby’s office, I spot him looking in my direction. Our eyes meet, and soon hands are in hands. He immediately compliments, “your hair looks nice, is shining in the sun”. I gape at him for a few seconds and then smile a thank you back! Of course, my hair looks good, I think to myself. Yes, it does.

And the slow long process of testing my theory with practicals just began.

Four Things I’m Still Old School About

Ask Google!” is possibly the most common piece of advice we get these days. It speaks volumes of how far technology has come to make our lives depend on a few click of a buttons. Sure, some things are easy to do now; some we didn’t imagine until a few decades back are now possible. The smartphones, iPads and tablets are like our personal secretaries, reminding us of birthdays, anniversaries, helping book appointments, saving articles, making reading on-the-go doable, play music whenever we want. And all that is great! Really, no sarcasm.

And no, this is not an essay here in support of  these advancements or even to question whether they are making us dumber and less social in the real world. For, I haven’t got an answer to such a complicated question! I wish I knew better though.

The reason I started to write this piece is because of a quiet thought that made its home in my mind the other evening. As I was walking back home from work, I started to make a mental list of things I still do the old-fashioned way. I mean, without using any form of smart-technology, whatsoever. Not many came through, but these are definitely the ones I am very particular about!

1. Post-Its & Notepads For Messages/Reminders/Lists

The habit of leaving notes behind goes back to my parents. They used to write cute ones for me, when leaving for a business tour in the wee hours or stepping out to the near-by pharmacy during my afternoon nap and so on! And it has now evolved to keeping them posted on the kitchen shelf, back of the main door sometimes, even on the pillow on special occasions! Some hang on the PC at work too, reminding me of deadlines or things-to-do. Grocery list is always made on a notepad that stays on the coffee-table. I cannot do without a small dose of writing dow my lists for the day!

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2. A Travel Journal Is An Absolute Necessity

No matter how many pictures you click, you need words to seal the memories in forever. won’t you agree? I always carry a small diary with me, it allows me to jot down thoughts, poems, emotions and memories that cross my mind. Notes in my iPhone never evoke the same, for me. Colloquial usages, names of local ingredients in food, fancy street names, of that fruit seller who gave you his bit of the history of the place – it helps to remember all of that, so much more clearly in the quiet of my home and makes for a better blog post too, you know!

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3. Books Should Be Made Of Paper, Only

I have never been a fan of downloading and storing bytes of e-books! While in college, I absolutely avoided studying from PDFs on my laptop. It’s no wonder how much time I spent in the library there. And might I say, it shouldn’t be very surprising to find out the first piece of furniture we bought together for our home is a beautiful tall bookcase! Kindle maybe be as good as holding a hundred books in your hands, but it can never attach the excitement the smell of a fresh book does!

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4. Shopping Is For All The Senses

I am surely the one to first feel the fabric, try it on next and feel good in it while looking into the mirror before finally deciding to make the purchase. Online shopping for clothes is a definite no-no for me. And, it sort of extends to other things as well. Other than the occasional ordering of a bouquet, I hardly find myself spending money online. I have to see it, touch it, feel it all. And who does not love carrying lovely shopping bags home!

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What are the things you are still old school about? Do any of these figure? Tell me about them!

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My Genes Theory!

I am writing this post for the ‘A Style Of My Own‘ campaign and blogger-contest by Women’s Web & Trishla’s eMart. To learn more about the contest and organizers, click on the links. Find Women’s Web on twitter to follow their work.

Decoding my sense of style will make my Amma rejoice with a ‘balle balle’ in her living room! For, she simply believes I have very little of it. In all these years, every time she put my pair(s) of jeans to wash, she would try to put my fashion-sense to shame. ‘Aiyo, ramachandra! Wear something else for a change, will you!’ or ‘I should have given you my genes instead of these Jeans I bought for your birthday!’ were some funny remarks that always circled my room, and were the trigger point for my younger brother to imitate Amma and tease me for my love for Jeans.

I have been in love with them ever since my 13th birthday! Short hair, a smart short-sleeved red shirt, blue canvas shoes that were my favourite and my first pair of new blue jeans – is how I went dressed to school on that birthday, with a big bag of eclairs to distribute in class. I felt confident and stylish, smart and savvy! Or at least, I must have as I think back to that time now. I used that pair and all others I owned thereafter until I grew enough to not fit into them any more. And so, Amma got to see a lot of these on me, around me!

I am 29 now, and I bought myself a pair of AEO Denim Jogger Jeans for my birthday two months back, and I have a big smile on my face as I write that! Amma’s reaction was a teasing ‘Again? One more? Aiyo… ‘ on the phone, with a subtle hint of a roll of her eyes while she said that am sure! My mother-in-law couldn’t figure they were a new pair because of the rugged look they carry and my husband burst into laughter watching me explain to her how soft, comfortable the fabric is, and how sporty it looks!

I am telling you in such painstaking detail about my love for Jeans because, this lovely piece of clothing is one of the reasons behind being able to realize what style is. For me! Having the confidence to carry my heart on my sleeve and carry it with elan, for, that’s who I am is what my sense of style is! And what better than a pair of jeans to philosophize that. They have all the colours (hues of my varying moods!), come in myriad looks (in rhythm with my heart!) and they are not shy to flaunt themselves one bit!

When I am happy, it’s a chirpy straight-cut blue jeans with a bright T or a short kurti; when down, the grey baggy come out of my wardrobe; when am feeling stylish, it’s time to bring out the curvy boot-y; when its time to be sporty, the skinny rugged ones! I am never let down by the lack of an option, and in turn, my clothes ensue I portray myself exactly the way I want to.

Of course, it just doesn’t end with having a good pair of jeans when decoding my sense of style here. Unknown to many, I take very good care of matching the right type with the right occasion, and put in a great deal of effort in ensuring I have the right tops/T-shirts/chic shirts/short & long kurtis/dupattas & stoles to go with them. Amma (and to an extent, my husband too) will now probably understand why I insist on piling my wardrobe with those silk kurtis, extra Ts, and just a few more shirts! Ha!

I also love to accessorize. A  LOT. There is a lot of detail in the way I put together an ensemble for my day. My jewelry is either all silver or all gold(en), sometimes all pearls. I have a huge fetish for finger rings, and have over 15 nail colours that I use regularly. So, its safe to say my hands get most of the attention while I am dressing up! I use no make-up but kohl / eyeliner is a must everyday so my eyes don’t hide behind the black glasses I wear! I love my wavy hair and like to keep it loose, as it’s short and manageable now, but when long, I like to experiment a little with locks and twists. I have about 8-9 pairs of shoes & boots, ToryBurch shoes and Monsoon boots are my current favourites!

I am fond of watches and can never have too many! Thankfully, my husband understands it really well and the two lovely ones I own have been gifts from him. I should also mention that as a rule, I take with me a scarf/stole given the unpredictable weather in London, and one can never go wrong with a light black cardigan, won’t you agree? Funky lean belts occupy a quiet corner in my wardrobe, although they are an important accessory. I always carry a hand-moisturizer, a lip-balm and a pocket mirror in my bag.

 

I have rocked a friend’s wedding in a pair of jeans coupled with a lovely Georgette orange long kurta! And danced away into that farewell night in B-school with my girl friends, wearing a smart pinstriped jacket on my neat black jeans, instead of the Saree. The best part about these and all such occasions is I never gave myself a second thought – either of being typecast or of trying too hard to be noticed. The clothes I wear are like second skin to me, and unless I am super comfortable in them I won’t be able to project my personality in the way I want to; and once I am able to, it is only a matter of time that people around me see me for who I am, and not for the clothes or the watches or the shoes I wear! And that, is a liberating sense of style.

Amma must be shaking her head, thinking to herself, ‘she is trying to convince everyone of her Jeans-theory now… will she never wear those Kanchipattu Sarees again…!’. She is partly right, of course. I am trying to showcase my sense of style, but it is incomplete without the genes-theory here. It is because of Amma that I have this incessant restlessness to follow my heart, in everything (every little thing!) I do. Needless to add, it has found its way into my fashion-sense too! So now, whether I call it the Jeans-theory or Genes-theory, does it really matter!

 

Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak ~ Rachel Zoe. She simply nailed it, for me!

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Do you have a theory too? What is your personal style like? I would love to know/read about yours!

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My Five Little Things of 2014

It only seems like yesterday that we packed our bags and with them our lives to move to London, which by the way was exactly a year ago! Life changed after that 9-hour flight. Settling into a new city, our new home, new jobs, newer (better!) lifestyle, and the totally unpredictable weather was not only challenging but also most remarkable, in every sense of the word.

And as we settled in, I began to appreciate life’s little things a little more, and with them have chanced upon some of life’s important truths too. Perhaps it was the distance from home and loved ones that made me think a lot more and these realizations slowly made their way into me /us.

Here are my top 5 things:

1. Sunshine

Living in the UK definitely makes you appreciate sunshine a lot more than you might have ever done in the past, especially if you have lived closer to the equator before. Longing for some golden rays into your bedroom as you wake up or in your living room as you sip your evening coffee, or even while you step out for a walk in Hyde Park – sunshine makes everything that bit sweeter.

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2. Homemade food

There is absolutely nothing better than a home-cooked meal. But it took me almost 4-5 months to realize this! I used to venture out everyday during lunch – from Habibi’s katsu curry, Whitecross farmers market’s stalls, Pilpel’s falafels to even the light-n-healthy soup-places like Pret and Eat. They sounded fancy, and tasted fancy too but all of them were lost on me in a few months. And eating out adversely affected my health too. Thankfully, Amma’s simple recipes came to my rescue and I began to carry packed lunch from home. Not only do I feel better after eating homemade meals but also have started to enjoy cooking in my kitchen, along with exploring the healthier options from time to time.

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3. Importance of exercise / discipline

I am still quite surprised how almost everyone here has at least one hour dedicated to exercising, every day! It does not come naturally to me at all. But, call it peer pressure or just a sense of inspiration from seeing people all around, I have managed to introduce exercise into my routine, albeit very slowly. I go to practice yoga at the sessions held near my home by www.ourparks.org.uk/ – If you live in London and love group exercise sessions, then you must sign up for these – the best part is they are free!

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4. Ties to our roots

Without sounding too melodramatic about it, I admit that it feels great to celebrate all our festivals no matter where we are. It reminds us of our traditions, our simple joys, our ways to get-together with family and friends and create more memories. Thankfully, London has all the avenues to help you celebrate any Indian festival that you want to. From Mehendis at parlours to Durga Puja pandals to firecrackers and colours of Holi, you name it!

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5. There is no greater support system than Family

I don’t think I need to elaborate much here. We thoroughly enjoyed the numerous skype and facetime sessions, the groups on whatsapp only added more colour to daily conversations and occasional long ones helped me steer away from any self-doubting traps. I cannot emphasize enough how satisfying it is to be close and in constant touch with one’s family and how happy it can make one feel!

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And I’d be lying I didn’t admit and add, that 2014 has only been about London! I constantly looked for newer experiences – whether it was in trying a new cuisine or discovering unusual cafes in the small alleys or the chic champagne bars of the city. More on all of that in a later post. Despite the grave requests from our friends and our own brave attempts, we could not manage to speak the accent (yet!) but we are so chuffed about the progress we’ve made to make our language sound a bit more colloquial! 😀

And with that thought, here’s hoping to an even better 2015!