I saw this on Twitter and decided to ask Instagram because my peeps there are more responsive.
Even so, I was surprised by the questions that came in. And really touched that I was asked. Thinking about my answers helped me pry loose the heaviness that has lain on my mind and consequently, my writing in the past year or so.
I’m just reposting what I shared there, slightly paraphrasing the questions asked.
Top 3 Red Lipsticks!
- Maybelline SuperStay DANCER
- Faces Canada Ultime Pro REBEL RED
- NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream AMSTERDAM
- When I performed to a crowd of 200+ people minutes after running into my violent ex (who constantly made me feel stupid) — and the crowd demanded an encore.
- When a client told me they turned the work I’d done into a book and handed me a copy. It’s for internal circulation only but that’s for an organisation of thousands. And it made me a bona fide author.
- When I thought I was getting fired for a messy project but my boss said my writing skills were on par with people two levels above and that I’d been promoted.
- Wash & moisturise face every time I go out & on return. Feeling clean is a big beauty boost.
- Smile like I used to as a kid before I got conscious. It makes me feel good & I think it shows.
- Exercise daily, even if just a walk & 10 minutes of breathing exercises. Stress weighs my face down visibly on days I don’t.
Top 3 speakers I consider my inspiration
- Performance poets who can carry a crowd without ranting or gimmicks — Asia Samson (90s Love), Denice Frohman (Accents), Sonia Renee (The Body is Not An Apology)
- Speakers who can share a powerful idea in a way that changes how you see the world, in just a few minutes — Thulsiraj Ravilla (How low-cost eye care can be world-class), Taylor Malli (What Teachers Make)
- Speakers who don’t need traditional crutches (like presentations or even words) to bring forth their message — Marina Abramovic (The Artist in In), Salim Khan (speaking at Whistling Woods on storytelling)
Top 3 times when I hit rock bottom
- Mid 2000: I got dumped by my best friend/love-of-my-life right in the middle of board exams. I felt like a planet that had got knocked out of its galaxy. Finding my first job gave me purpose. It taught me to find identity in work, not love.
- 2002–2003: Boyfriend assaulted me. Told me I was ugly because I was a ‘kaali’. Said the only reason a guy would be with me was because I looked desperate. That I would always be the beautiful girl’s ugly best friend. It taught me never to care what anybody, especially a man, said about my appearance.
- All 2012: My live-in partner took his ongoing emotional & verbal abuse into physical. Announced a very public engagement. Wanted my family to pay for a multi-city extravaganza. When I called it dowry, threw me out of the house. I was told I should have tried to work it out somehow. Friends told me I should be ‘dignified’, not talk about it and that I should ‘appreciate his talent’. Men said I deserved to be beaten up, that I must have not cared since I looked okay.
How I managed to get back up when life pushed me down
- Writing always saved me. When nobody listened to me, the pages did. Later, the internet. And even later, the audience. When I write, I’m able to remember that there is a bigger world than the people who attack me, the situations that exploit me. It’s the biggest relationship in my life now — my words & me.
- Finding a different context helps. I get a new job, find a new hobby, reach out to people I don’t talk to much. It gives me perspective, which is the only thing I lose when I’m down. If these aren’t possible, a swim, a bath or even washing dishes keeps me going till I can find something more permanent. Anything with water.
- This is the newest lesson of all. I ask for help and I trust that it will be given. I tell myself that it’s okay to shatter and that I will be supported in rebuilding. People have been kind.
Top 3 times when I failed (because success stories motivate but failure story gives lessons)
- Not getting into IIM-Bangalore in 2000. I may never ave tried the other things I did (including writing & stage) if I’d been set on that fast track. Hurt like hell then but now I have no regrets.
- My biggest relationship ended in the most humiliating way possible. It feels like a failure because I learnt early to take responsibility for everything. It may have been the reason I stayed so long. Such a devastating failure, such a hard lesson. I’m still learning.
- 2002-Froze on stage at college personality contest. Next round, judge made fun of me. 2007-Last day of London conference. Luggage already at airport. Entered hall to find everyone in suits. Ended up presenting to VP of an MNC, wearing bright orange top & jeans. They were nice about it. 2018-Got attacked for feminist poetry. Went on stage and stood silent for 2min. Audience clapped. Ridicule will not silence me now.
- Maya Angelou.
- Anais Nin
- Milan Kundera
I know they’re not conventionally considered poets.But I don’t think poetry needs to be conventional. I learnt much about writing & life from their words. Isn’t that the best poetry?
Top 3 self-motivational hacks when you’re feeling low
- “This too, shall pass.” — Persian adage
- Read ‘Illusions’ by Richard Bach
- Listen to ‘Here comes the sun’ by The Beatles
3 most amazing books I’ve read to date
- ‘Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah’ — Richard Bach
- The Sandman series — Neil Gaiman
- ‘The Little Prince’ — Antonie St.Exupery
- Help will arrive when I’ve given up all hope. It’ll arrive with friendship, support, respect. And it will come from unexpected sources. Every darn time.
- The more you trust the stage, the kinder the audience will be.
- Men are my learning opportunities, not my teachers.
My life is dramatic AF.
Songs in my playlist
These are at the top of my ‘Most Played’
- ‘How do you do’ — Roxette
- ‘Aap jaisa koi mere zindagi mein aaye’ (a capella version) — American Desi
- ‘Brand New Day’ — Sting
Top 3 novels that I love
- ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ — Marian Keyes
- ‘Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince’ — JK Rowling
- ‘The Kalahari Typing School for Men’ — Alexander McCall-Smith
- Galactic — NYX Cosmic Metals
- Read My Lips — Faces Canada Ultime Pro
- Oh Put It On! — NYX Liquid Suede
I’ve already done two book-related lists on this series so I’m narrowing this to my top 3 books by women in 2019:
- ‘Lois Lane: Fallout’ — Gwenda Bond
- ‘The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society’ — Mary Ann Shaffer
- ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’ — Elif Shafak
Recommended self-healing books
More books? Okay, one can never have too many. 😊
- Any one from the Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall-Smith
- S.E.C.R.E.T. — Marie L Adeline (especially if you’re female & healing from sex-related traumas)
- Anybody Out There? — Marian Keyes