Of Pop Culture Books & Series

Has it ever happened to you that at some phase of life, you felt that your thoughts and actions were mirrored by the universe, manifested outwardly as a book or a TV Show, a song that takes on a real-deep meaning for you, or even a commercial blockbuster movie that strangely resonates so much with you!?

I found this happening to me often with the books that I read while growing up. I am a firm believer that you are what you read. If that is truly the case – I’m one part fantasy, one part crime, a little bit of romance, and some amount of adventure. I am however only fiction, thank you, but definitely have the ability to create non fiction.

Looking back to the correlation between life and books, on the days that I craved some adventure and friendship, there were Enid Blyton’s various books to turn to – whether it was The Secret Seven, Malory Towers, Famous Five, or Five Find-Outers, she really helped widen our imagination as kids and made us crave for the joyous freedom that her characters experienced.

It’s no surprise that JK Rowling’s Potter Saga appeals so much to the pre-teens – it’s got everything that a teen can relate to. Whether it’s about fitting in with the world, criticized for being different, finding and holding on to best friends at school or developing crushes, feeling rebellious, name the emotion and she had it all. I know some of us wished for a bit more romance to add to the sparks but our author knew just how much was too much. Is it weird that I’m counting days for more Potter Mania to resurface thanks to the Fantastic Beasts 2!?

For those of us who were lured by the mysterious and weird stuff, the Twilight Series was a Godsend. I now agree that reading it was utter Trash, but it set our hearts racing alright! I was always Team Edward but for some incidents that made me really sad for Team Jacob and I never looked at Twilight the same way again. Despite all those internal conflicts, I finished the series, even read the leaked chapters of Midnight Sun and I wanted more. That was the age for Drama.

After a while, I caught on to Grey’s Anatomy. My normal Engineering Life was so boring and yet at the same time so much happened that I often kept comparing life’s crappy quotient to the doctors’ drama unfolding on the TV. First, they killed George, then Danny, then Mc Steamy, the cute sister, and Arizona’s legs were chopped off. I still continued hoping that somewhere things would be alright. I gave up on Grey’s Anatomy after Christina Yang left and Mc Dreamy was killed and oh so brutally! Goddamit! Thinking about it still makes my blood boil.

I discovered a lot of Indian author books around this time – Preeti Shenoy, Durjoy Datta, Ravinder Singh, etc. While the quality of language didn’t impress me much, the stories were poignant, slice-of-life stuff that could happen to anyone. Perhaps that’s what made it endearing and abominable at the same time.

A chance reading of Ladies Coupe made me so sad for womanhood in India that I instantly started respecting women around me at least a little better.

There is one dog-eared copy of Mills & Boons that belonged to my Aunt, that I have preserved safely for it became the benchmark of love and respect for me. A story set on a cruise ship between a 22-year old smart and grounded  girl, who takes her first trip abroad and the stern yet reliable captain of 35 years taught me that it wasn’t about money, age, or physique, although those things definitely spice it up. Events in life have also taught me discreetly that a lot of what you think love is, is really nothing but the admiration and respect you feel for people. Sure, your potential friends could still be waltzing in and out of your life, confusing you and enticing you while you look for your Ms/Mr Right on matrimonial sites but I understand now how companionship can work – it’s about whether upon meeting, you both match the same intellectual frequency and have similar emotional needs or are you vying for bigger egos and has/has-nots!?

Coming back to pop culture influences  – it was only after I started my post graduation that I could, in the confines of my room, and with my first-ever laptop really watch FRIENDS and understand the emotions behind the characters and dialogues. You see, it was only there that I understood and appreciated the friends that I’d had and made for life.

There was also a phase where Sex And The City made the biggest impact on me. I just loved how much liberty these women enjoyed and what they really thought of relationships because you have got to admit it, things on the Indian dating scene are not as they were in our parents generation. Watching Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte make crappy decisions, break up with the baddies, and continue to wait for Mr Right, while all the time working on themselves and waltzing through professional life – that heady rush and motivation is just what you need sometimes!

Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, The Middle, SATC, The Mindy Project are just a few series that I can recall currently that made it a relatable treat to watch. For now, I’m taking a break from the popular stuff and bingeing on Sharp Objects / Strike / How To Get Away With Murder. I’m not planning a homicide, don’t get me wrong, I’m just waiting for a good breeze to blow my way, as it often does before I can pick up on something as good and understand the message behind. Until then, so long!

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Lonely Tunes

My bestie recently asked me what was the one thing that I absolutely hated about my life in Riyadh, for I lived there while growing up for ten odd years. For a while, this question took me by surprise…people always assumed that I loved it out there and ended up asking me what I missed about that desert city.

I took a moment to think while fleeting images went past me – a sea of people in black and white (literally, for Saudi men wear a white, free flowing white gown-like attire and women wear Abhayas – the black cloth that bundles them up, covering them completely.

I thought about being away from my grandparents and missing them.

I thought about Riyadh’s oppressive heat, and the boring school life I was subject to… And then it hit me hard.

‘Loneliness’, I replied.

Not having friends of my age in the society I lived in, being at a mentally stimulating age and not having someone to share conversations or games with, not being very rich so as to afford novels and books often, it tore me apart, little by little.

It’s not like I didn’t have friends – school was great when we had lunch hour or free period. But once the clock struck 1.30, that was goodbye to your friends, unless you wanted to chit chat over long calls (which again wasn’t very welcomed by the folks).

I had a few Kannadiga friends that I looked forward to meeting, but that was usually once or twice a month and fun while it lasted.

On a daily basis, I whiled away time with imaginary characters, played stupid and cute games with my baby brother, and kept wishing for some adventure. I was introduced to comics a little late, for I consider 3rd grade pretty late. I took to reading Tinkle comics, Champak I used to loathe, but reading anything felt like a good time pass.. I graduated to Archies, and thanks to my then best friend’s mother, who worked in our school, we got permission to borrow some books on a weekly basis. And then we ended up taking Noddy. What can I say, I missed the whole concept of libraries like hell.

Then I graduated to reading Women’s Era magazines because they would inevitably be at home and I just needed to read something, anything! To be honest, I read quite a few controversial things that made for a good laugh but loneliness – you can’t put a name or describe the feeling… these things persist.

I thought things would be great upon leaving Saudi, and returning to India… That I’d be able to meet and host friends who are quite like me and whose ideas would entice and encourage us to be great. Unfortunately for me, no such thing happened. Reality was that, I was seen as more of an outcast because of my earlier background and I didn’t belong to their groups…

It’s hard being lonely and it’s enough to push you into depression. I know that now but then, I tried to desperately fit in, dumb down, act bitchy and mean to be accepted, found one friend, who happened to be a guy, and you can imagine how that would turn out for a teen?

Ugh. Life sucked. In the end, I cared a damn and gave up on everyone that I was trying to befriend. I cut them out of my life the moment school ended and haven’t regretted my decision since.

I grew friends after that.. When I stopped trying, and I just was. I’m an introvert, so I still have a small circle but that’s completely fine with me. I do wish sometime that I’d be more outgoing and befriend more people.. I talk and meet people, but I think genuine connection is so rare.

But I cannot be more grateful to the people who are in my life.. I’m really happy to have friends who are smart, motivated, dedicated and wholly good people with a good heart. We question our friendship sometimes and then I realise, despite everything that that are, they’re mine.

That’s really all you sometimes need.

Cheers!

Photo Story – Mumbai Memories

My last post was a riot of negativity. I don’t really believe in deleting posts but perhaps sometime down the line, I may remove it. Today, let’s talk through pictures.

I have amassed quite a few gems that I haven’t shared on social media and I’d like to take you through the maze.

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Let us start with a picture of an all-time favorite. Indian mothers’ love-hate relationship with this brand will continue forever and yet the kids will continue to love it! Here’s my attempt to rid myself of the guilt of indulging in this bowl of goodness. I haven’t had Maggi for more than a month now because I’m home and home means wholesome meals!

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Continuing the trend of love-hate relationships is this girl – Baman who’s like the Salman Khan of my life. There are phases when I love her, phases when I want to throttle her, and there are moments of pure ignorance. Inspite of all these phases, she’s that rock solid support system – always there. Baman – you be my bro man! Two months will be up soon, so I hope you’re going to want to talk to me soon!

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If there were people in my previous organisation that I’d want to spend hours with – it would be the two of you – Meow and Woof! I can’t stop marveling over how you just click with some people and that gets carried on!

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This lady up here has energy level that can give serious competition to your childhood’s favorite toy – the Crazy Ball. Yep, she’s here, there, everywhere, and rocking at it. Didn’t think we’d become fast friends but man, here we are!

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Mandala colouring is an all-time hobby and I love doing this while watching something. I know this might mean that the series does not get 100 percent of my attention, but I’m okay with that.

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Swag kids getting ready to eat breakfast on a holiday. #NuffSaid

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Faking a wedding pic because Madam Bestie had lied to her friends about the real reason why she came to Mumbai, instead of going on a trip with the latter. (Bestie just missed me and wanted to shower some love!)

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Just casually trying to show off  a tonne of things out here. My mirror image aka the grumpy cat, the feisty nails, and the cute little bag gifted by Boo.

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A pretty reminder of nature – notice the symphony between the soil and the sky.

This was taken on my first trip to Haji Ali. It’s a soulful place and one that is immensely calming. I took some tough decisions out here, sitting on the steps and watching the waves go on till infinity.

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Haji Ali – In all its Friday splendour and glory.

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TBH I also did a double take when it came to this picture. It’s not the finger you imagined!

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Any season, any time, and with anyone (read no one) – Mumbai’s Marine Drive is a favorite and has seen me in different phases of life and emotions.

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Any takers for fluffy flowers!?

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Washroom selfie when you think you’re dressy? Check.

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To Harry Potter – for being the constant companion in life and to ever-growing friendships in life. Also, special thanks to Ashu – for initiating me into our cult, and for being my Padfoot, Always.

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To good hair days and colleagues-turned-friends.

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A pair of earrings that have been on the wish list for a while. In other words, Barielly ke jhumke abhi tak aaye nahi.

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The second time at Haji Ali. Before heading out to Noorani cafe for the best Chicken Tikka Biryani there can be.

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Of goodbyes to the city of dreams…

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To more bends in the road,

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To waking up to a morning full of limitless possibilities….

Adios Amigos. 🙂

 

#Pune

Bangalore is heart and Mumbai is mind, but the simplest mention of Pune, brings a smile to my face because of the special place it holds in my heart. 

As with a lot of things, I’ve noticed that my tryst with love usually begins with an abject hatred of something. First impression of Pune was that I had to run away from it and not come even inches close to it. This happened during the time when I was interviewing at Simc. I was disappointed that it was so much like an older Bangalore. I assured two of my friends that I would definitely not take it up because Pune wasn’t Mumbai and I then believed that I had needed the vibe of Mumbai. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong bout Pune. Having lived in Lavale for two blissful years, I think this city will always be home of a different kind. The kind of home that gave me hope in finding good in different  people and an acceptance of myself, thanks to my people.  

As I undertake this bus journey home, from Mumbai. I am fleetingly passing through the lanes of Pune city  and I’m nostalgic like hell. What stands out is our countless trips to FC road on broke days, with friends and not so good friends, celebrity spotting while on a ‘research’ project to study religious tourism and it’s effects, (I’m amazed a senior sent us knowing fully well that we couldn’t have access to Osho, no regrets though cause that was a beautiful day!), a full day Pune Darshan at the end of two years (now I can brag about places in Pune to everyone), of freshers nights that turned to the beginning of common crushes and friendships, of dosa and coffee trips with the  extended best girl gang that one could possibly have.. And of countless as bus rides, to the ‘city’ and back to the hostel, just because. ‘Let’s go through city’ was music to the ears! And yet, the amazing solitude our rooms offered. 

It’s  funny how you comfortable you get with your people. How you video call each other, even if it’s as rare as once in a few months. How connected you are, and how much it makes you feel happy.. Knowing that they’re there. Man. I miss you guys! 

And I  haven’t even talked about the campus fun. Shared secrets, embarrassments, gossip and stories about the people you detest? Sigh. 

I can only hope that meeting all of you in two months, is going to culminate in  an epic extravaganza. 

So long, beauties! 

New people. 

You know that feeling when you get so comfortable with your homies, you stop looking for friendship from the other people in the universe? Well, that’s a scary place to be.  But it’s also nice knowing that you don’t have to keep finding people all the time. I’m usually amazed at how some people just hit it off with everyone they meet. Everyone? How!? 

I wasn’t looking for new connections that would mean a lot in such a short span of time.. But I cannot imagine the past few days any differently. I just love how some positivity can change the way you feel about life..I’ve always wanted to go visit our neighboring countries since childhood.. It’s been a dream and my resolve has only becomee stronger now. Thanks ‘Shna,’Uja and’Aid for helping me break a few stereotypes in my mind. 

I also happened to meet one of the people who recruited me to this organization where I currently work at. I was trying to go upto him and speak from a long time but there never was an opportunity. When I finally spotted him talking to a friend, I went over to say  hi and it was a privilege to have him remember my name. He asked whether we were settling in well and if we liked everything. He even remembered my blog. I mean. Wow. People amaze me, they do. You’ve got the extremes everywhere but it’s really nice coming up on genuine nice gems. Goodnight, amigos! 

Transitions

Bidding adieu sucks but you’ve got to do it because transitions make you grow…

Hi readers,

I must admit that what I actually set out to do while writing the previous post was not to write it. Nah-uh, I actually wanted something to surpass the older posts and instead of coming up with something new, something non poetic, I ended up publishing a half-written draft in my sleep. 

Now that my royally loyal reader HashBrownie has asked me what I’m made of, I think it’s time to take a break from that bubble of procrastination and step out into the sunshine!

Here’s what’s been going on.

Two years of college are coming to an end. That’s bidding adieu to two of the best years of life.

I know it’s not easy to measure yardsticks when you talk of ‘best days’.

Think about having beautiful sunsets as the backdrop of your home, evenings that start off as hot and sultry but if you’re not careful, end up feeling frost bitingly cold.

Think about living in spacious rooms, (with balconies to sip tea in, mind you) with pleasant roomies who just let you be. (Warts, farts, darts et al).

Think about the cold coffee, hot coffee, ice cream sandwich, and the gulab jamuns at the mess.

Think of the people who you surround yourself with. Those who make you smile and laugh and cry at the same time.

Friends who instil a dependency on you that makes you realise you are important. Friends who you thought were loud and bossy but actually ended up loving and living with. Friends who you fell in love with, despite their stupidest idiosyncracies.

Yes. The hills were alive to all these sounds and intuitions. They’ve seen my sweat, my tears, and my joys. It’s honestly satisfying to see that you make a difference.

The belief that Sometimes, actually, most times, your integrity and work will suffice.

Anyway. As I step out of this beautiful place I called home for two years, I know I will always call it home. The home that grew on me and steadied me to a future I didn’t think I could have, I’ve only got the deepest sense of gratitude for this experience. To all the forces of the universe, who made it happen.

My peers are off on a spree of rants about how much they’ll miss this place. Interestingly, I finished this nostalgia in the third semester, with my besties around me. Everyday I’d look out and go ‘Daaamn, I’ve got to move on from this. How does one do that?’

I think I’ve found my answer. You get to transition from your phases in life when you have the hope to find better.

Every time you are down, remember, there’s something that’s been eluding you but it can be yours, with some dedication, effort and time.

Find your homes, not in the four walls of a building but find your homes in people. It’s people that make you want to believe in the best of you. It’s people, who will be there for you. and then you’ll know, goodbyes won’t be hard. They’ll just be something that you have got to do.

Find you home and then you’ll know. Goodbyes won’t be hard. They’ll just be something that you have got to do.

This is me bidding adieu to college life as I had known and loved. 

Here’s to newer and more enriching things in life to all of us.

Life Is Beautiful. Believe It. And You’ll Feel It.

It’s truly been the end of an era.

Adios, SIMC.

First Crush(ed)

Take a few minutes off to re-live those awkward teem memories?

I remember it as clearly as it happened. I had just finished the captain duties after school. It was a major rule in our institution that all the kids were to form a straight line (I know it’s redundant in itself but some Indianisms really get me pumped) as they exited their classrooms and walked down multiple corridors to the gate beyond. I loathed a lot of things about this  particular school and this rule often left me feeling caged. Come to think of it – the last bell of school heralds a promise of unspoken excitement and things are meant to get crazy with everyone jostling, trying to get out of the institution first. It is an indication that they survived another day with our education system after all! Although I hated them, at this point of life, I can sympathize with some of the rules – they were probably put in place to ensure that no stampedes occurred.

As I walked back to class, to wrap my bags and head to Abacus lessons (Yes, I’d chosen to enrich my brain with the mental prowess of Abacus) I met my friend  Zit (That’s the closest I can get to not revealing his name. It also helps that all girls find zits annoying. Pun intended). I must tell you beforehand that I’d studied my entire life (until 7th std) in a girls school and in this school, I had but a few guy friends.

Zit seemed to be in a perturbed mood. I thought I’d talk to him and figure out why was he so morose? Which girl had he fallen for so suddenly that he couldn’t smile and just be?

He refused to answer to my insistent queries and just smirked and sulked away. I packed my bags and went up to him, ‘Come on! You can tell me, you know? I’ll keep it a secret.’

‘Who’s the lucky one?’, I ventured. Feeling a little cheesy and trying to be the cool girl best friend they often show you in Hollywood movies.

Little did I expect the reply, ‘You!’.

I was momentarily stunned and laughed it out. ‘You can’t be serious. Come on now, take the suspense off.’

‘No, I’m serious. It’s you’, he persisted. Now the wind just knocked out of me. It’s one thing to pull your friends’ legs and another when you’re going to find yourself in a similar situation. I went to abacus class in a stony silence and my mind was in a tizzy. Was I to feel elated that someone thought me crush-worthy? Or was I to feel bad and angry that a ‘good friend’ had just made things super awkward?

All my teenage fancies and wishful thinking about the situation came to the right conclusion when after abacus Zit met me and said, ‘I’ve got a gift for you’ and he proceeded to take a wrapped item that looked ridiculously like a book. It was a weird feeling then, I was left wondering whether people began dating when gifts were exchanged? Was it just the girl who got the gift? How do things like these work really? I was tempted to take the book. (The surprise was killing me too. Would he just lend it to me so I could read it later on?)  I denied the book and told him I’d err really ike to go home for now.

Life has a way of giving you answers when you really need them and that’s what happened.

Any semblance of romance that I’d gathered in the last few moments went out of the door as soon as I walked out of school to see Zit’s friends hovering about; cycling, playing, kicking stones and basically just waiting to hear from the brave one.

‘Did she say yes, macha?’

And that was that!

 

Missings and musings.

I’ve always had good friends but life has always been characterized into phases and friendships also. Just like dysfunctional families, a term I really like, even my relation with my friends is dysfunctional.

Most are the heart warming, genuine, I’ll be there for you always kinda people. Some are the exes. Long forgotten, but they reside in the deeper throes of thr heart, cause they cannot be forgotten. I’ve realised that it’s harder to make friends as you grow older. My general observation is that people are less open to deep interactions, I find that a precursor to great relationships. Shared emotions, common enemies, childhood secrets, crushes, heart break, usually, one needs to open up deeply on a personal level to feel that connect with someone else. Not many are willing to do that in real life now and most prefer the convenience of virtual life to fester and foster in the old friendships.

I’m cleaning out my room and trying to set everything for the next one year. It’s going to be a crucial year, this. Both personally and professionally. And as I rummage through my folder, I find among other things, the promise of hope. An unsaid promise that cannot be broken simply because it was never meant to be one. I read it in the words and I know that a lot of what I believe in and know is going to change. It has to…nevertheless, some familiar comforts, some lights, will guide me home.

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Mind-less-ness Much?

It’s one of those days when your mind needs a holiday.

After a particularly relaxing weekend, you may wonder why you need the luxury of a holiday but what’s in the mind is at times far too intense than what’s outside, for real. But then, you could disagree with me. ‘Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?’ Okay, point taken. Everything is real, okay? Okay.

I feel a bit off  today. I think I finally realise, you can NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, force friendships. It shouldn’t have come across as a surprise to a skeptic like me, but when it comes to people, I surprise myself with the ideology of hope.

You can be nice to people but you still have a selected group of ‘your people’ and this is not even in the Meredith-Yang kind of way. You just have a close-knit group and you could not care less about the rest. I find this really disappointing.It infuriates me when people leave answers and decisions hanging. I asked a mate for some help and she excitedly agreed. I waited for a while, hoping she’d perhaps bring up the topic herself so that I don’t feel like I’m imposing, but it never comes. Why don’t you just be blatant from the very beginning and say No? I’d appreciate the frankness and respect the No. I know how hard it is to say No. How annoying is it to have your hopes quashed ever so often?

I go back to college in a month and I’ll be in the midst of such groups again but you won’t see me amid those huge, supposedly ‘fun’ peeps. I don’t get groups. I tried being a part of them and then my mind began shutting out people. I’ve got space for a few, perhaps just two. And I’m still not going to differentiate between your people and mine.

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Here’s an interesting picture.

My nomad friend says it has as many interpretations as you’d want it to have. I think I can sum it up in just one word – Life.

Care to discuss it? If yes, then comment. If not, then good day to you amigo.

Adios.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plans≠Life!

Here’s a trip down memory lane wherein I publish posts that were saved as drafts.

 

April 2015:

 

 

I’ve been working as a content writer at this really fun place for a while now. 7 and a half months to be precise. And it has been such an illuminating experience. A lot of people told me while I was still a struggling student (hey it’s not just models and actors okay, engineers struggle too ) that I just had to find a job after the four years spent between books, friends, and movies. They told me that the dynamics of work life was way more advanced than college life. That’s probably the best advice I heard about careers.
I passed out in the bleak monsoon of 2014. After having refused to sit for IT placements in college, life was pretty directionless. So I graduated as a Chemical Engineer, and I didn’t know what the hell to do in life. My life goes by the mantra, when in doubt, travel!

And that’s what I did. Though I wouldn’t exactly call it travel in its realest sense. I spent close to a month meeting and greeting relatives in the city of dreams. Mumbai enchanted me like never before. It spread its arms wide and embraced me into the fast-paced city life, keeping me awed and amazed, willing me to do more.
I was considering a masters degree in food technology. Don’t ask why. I just woke up with a dream one morning and felt so positive that I wanted to be a food technologist. How hard could it be? I loved food, didn’t I? And technology? Well I’ve been studying heat exchangers, flash drums, and process control units. Could it get any harder?

In hindsight, I’m really thankful that my epiphany was short lived. Just like the length of a Hollywood movie. Wait, it wasn’t that short. Let’s make it Bolywood, considering that I researched the best universities in the UK, argued with my parents, miserably failed to convince them of my designs, and due to the excitement of my brother’s threading ceremony, missed an important deadline to one of India’s best food tech college. I was so pumped about this exam and so confident of making it, I just kicked myself when I missed the date.

C’est la vie.

I happily accompanied an uncle to Mumbai, conveniently avoided meeting him again. (He spent two months at home and repeatedly narrated so many stories, that I debated lip syncing to those stories as a career option.)

Sad to leave Mumbai, I hauled my sorry behind back to Bangalore and delved into creating a ‘good resume’. I updated online job portals and declared myself an excellent chemical engineer and began the wait. That wait, was horrendous.

Just to satiate my alter ego, I created a second profile. That, which indicated my interest in content writing. This was one of the better ideas thatI had had in life. I finally began to be noticed by the portal! Guess that’s how aspiring actors feel when they get ‘noticed’.
After about 3 months of chilling, cribbing, procrastinating, watching endless movies, my stars aligned on a weird Wednesday and got me two interviews on the same day.

The immature side of me wanted to attend the interview of this company that was really far from home. I don’t know what I was thinking. After I spent forty-five min at the bus stop miserably awaiting my turn for the mighty transport that never showed up, I let it go.
That was a sign. A very blatant one. Drum told me to STFU and go attend the second interview. Most chilled out interview ever. Got the job and made some amazing friends.

 

 

February 2016:

 

I’m in the midst of another happening phase – college! The real deal, really! Just the way you pictured it thanks to the movies, except there’s plenty of work to be done and assignments to be submitted. The going has been great and here’s to a lot more planned decisions that get shelved and turn out to be haphazard, yet chaotically great!

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