Tag Archives: Relationships

Twory: Equal Sins

Another writing exercise and this one I thought up myself! (Pat on the back…thank you, thank you). The challenge was to write a 140-word story about Twitter. Samir and I did this under a timer. And finished in close to 14 minutes. I call this a twory.


An 80s song went,

“The instant generation….Instant food, instant love.”

They didn’t know half of it, thought Sanjana. The Internet hadn’t even been around then. They didn’t have Twitter, that two-edged boon that make it permissible to follow somebody.

But was stalking allowed? Her eyes darted about before returning to her screen. Email hacking was passé. His Twitter account lay open to her. With only a moment’s hesitation, she clicked on ‘Direct Messages’. Even her suspicions hadn’t prepared her for what she saw. A screen full of naughty messages, bordering on risqué. That much she had expected, even if the numbers shocked her a bit.

She only didn’t expect to see a row of male faces.

She forced down a wave of nausea and logged out. A few clicks later, she finally took the drastic step as she hit UNFOLLOW.


* Also posted at Social Mantra.

Featured In Mail Today, South Delhi Plus: Confessions Of A Netaholic

Mail Today/ South Delhi Plus (I saw the online version on Mail Today but a friend told me he saw it in South Delhi Plus) did a story on Internet addiction yesterday. I’ve been quoted in the main piece and there’s a separate mini-piece with my views.

(Click to see full pages)

Net addiction 2

(Photograph courtesy Sumit Jagdale)

Net addiction 1

My muscle aches some months ago, leading to false alarms of arthritis and spondilitis, came as a wake-up call about my posture, lack of exercise and most importantly, my unhealthy computer use. Ten years ago, I quit television and found it opened up a lot of time for me. Now all this while later, I find I’ve just progressed to another kind of screen. Odd it is when I think my favorite tee-shirt shows the evolution of man with the last figure crouched low over a computer screen and a caption that reads,

Something somewhere went terribly wrong!

Over and above the physical repercussions of excessive computer usage, I’m more concerned (and intrigued) with what it is doing to our minds. The Internet isn’t the idiot box but perhaps its effects are deeper. It has changed the way we do everything, from work, to managing our daily chores, to keeping in touch, to amusement, keeping informed, to building and sustaining relationships.

The last is particularly interesting to me. It is ironical that this article should have come at this time because this is the theme that’s big on my mind these days. My entry for NovelRace has to do with modern-day relationships, in the wake of technology and its effects on the social fabric, behaviour patterns and our expectations of each other. I didn’t want to talk about it, this early but perhaps I should, considering that the Internet is a social medium and writing about it should automatically include other people. So yes, it’s quite possible that I’m thinking of you when I’m creating my characters and making things happen to them.

I’m going to end by saying perhaps it wasn’t such a bad thing, being a netoholic after all. Call it research for the book. 😉

Things It Never Occurred To Me To Wish For

I’ve already established that my life hasn’t gone according the gameplan. But there’s plenty that I never even accounted for in the plan, that did happen. So much that it never even occurred to me to think of or wish for, that actually happened to me along the way.


I met a girl in junior college. She was smart and beautiful. I thought she liked me too but I didn’t know why and I was never sure of it anyway. Then we had a fight and didn’t talk to each other for a long time. I got to know her again, the year I was preparing for the b-school entrances. Then as luck would have it, we fought again and parted ways. And quirky as ever (Lady luck, such a cat, such a dotty old bat) we ended up within a single point of each other in the thousands of people who’d taken the admission test. We went to the same college, we saw a lot more of each other, before I knew it we were bonding. At the end of those tumultous two years, she was the only one standing next to me, propping up my mortal remains. My best friend, my soul-sister, my prize for having endured all those other painful relationships. I am so blessed to have her in my life.


My earliest memory of writing is age 4,  penning (okay, pencilling at that age) a song about a bus, using an upright soap box for inspiration. I contributed to the college magazine, two years in a row, that brought me the sweet appreciation of a teacher whose classes I’d never attended, only because she was also the magazine editor. She gifted me ‘The Little Prince’, one of my most treasured possessions. My teenage years were marked with angsty, angry and secret writing that was abruptly snuffed and revived (my version of self-mutilation). And then there was the blog. And another. Comments. Links. Emails. Friendship. Blogger-meets. Group-blogs. Editorship. Media mentions. An audience. A space to call my own. A world of my own.


The relationship was the turning point in my life and I can clearly see my life as pre- and post- that experience. All along I had been fed the idea of independence, of liberatedness and of not needing a man to be happy. But it was only after going through that nightmare did I truly experience that understanding, in my very bones. For months afterward, I was jolted awake by a new emotion – immense, overwhelming gratitude. I couldn’t believe just how lucky I was, what a narrow escape I had had that I had not ended up married – or worse, pregnant – with him. I really felt like I had been granted a reprieve in life. And that feeling slowly evaporated, giving way to hardness, an unshakeable faith that I would rather be alone than go through that again. I remember reading Gone With The Wind, a gift from my favorite cousin, in which she had inscribed,

This is not a book about love or the war. It’s about never giving up.

It was my personal Tara moment, when I promised myself that I’d never cry over a man again.

I don’t know whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. It is a fact that I’ve never had a real, lasting relationship since then. I’ve also never been broken or defeated since then. I’ve lost the desire, the aching need to belong to someone and with it, I’ve also relinquished trust in men and caring about their opinions. Yes, I’ve been alone for over six years now (relationship status independent). I’d be lying if I said I was never lonely. Far from it, I’m lonely more often than I like but each time I am, I just have to think back to this time and I know I don’t regret my desicions.


My state of mind has spread to every other aspect of my life too. I used to be the girl who always wrote postcards on vacation, called up people and asked, “Why don’t you ever call me?”. In these past few years, I can’t remember the last conversation I’ve had to initiate, the last time I’ve chased after anyone for affection or friendship. I am not necessarily proud of it and I really admire the people in my life who are there solely on the basis of their effort and very little of mine, often forgetting that I used to be them a short few years back. But I’ve just gone too far into walking alone and the ability to reach out which comes from a need to bond with other people closely has just been burned right out of my being.

My career and everything else I do has changed too. I never thought of myself as an ambitious person; not me, the back-bencher, the almost-dropout. But in the past few years I’ve found myself with so much of time and energy and a desire to burn it away as fast as possible so I have no time to get into messes. It seems to be showing results. I’m doing well in everything that I’ve taken up since then, my work, my hobbies and my activities. I still can’t get used to it though. After having been branded a loser with no future, I seem to have grown a Midas touch. It’s scary.


I can’t change the fact that I am a passionate, fiery person. So all I’ve done is unconsciously divert all my energy from personal relationships into my activities. It can’t be all bad and it keeps me engaged and brings me a lot of attention and respect, something I never would have thought would be mine in such magnitude.

In sum, I had a vague idea that I’d be ‘happy’ in ten years time. I don’t have a straight answer to whether I am or not. But I also never thought to wish for independence, admiration and success and they seem to have fallen into my lap, quite inadvertently. Ah well…life, that crazy old bat, be careful if she invites you around to tea. There’s no telling what she’ll put into it.

Not According To Plan

I wasn’t a cool kid. I wasn’t a hip teenager. I was perpetually confused, secretly angsty and with no Lakshya. I had no life. But I had a plan. A decade later I look back and wonder, How ever did things turn out so differently?!

Here’s how.

I dropped out of college for a year so ended up graduating a year late. Still, I thought I’d make up for it with extra effort in that last year. I almost made it. I missed getting into the b-school of my choice by 2 points.

I also managed to get my heart broken and shattered to smirtheens (some of the shards have still not been recovered) by the person unlikeliest to hurt me – my best friend. The worst bit was that I had resisted him for years, knowing all along that it would ‘only end in tears’. It did and knowing that beforehand didn’t make it any easier to deal with.


I still had a plan and at that time I couldn’t think fast enough to change. So I decided to give it one more shot and just revise my schedules by a year or two. Everyone advised me to not spend that year sitting at home and studying. So I got a job. My first job changed my life in unimaginable ways.

First and foremost when I fixated on MBA, I decided that with my innate interest in human behaviour (I used to cut physics classes to sit in on the psychology courses or reading popular theories on human interactions)…human resources would be the place for me. In the seven months that I worked for a marketing agency, I realised that my interest and my skills lay quite elsewhere and thus came the first change in my gameplan. I switched my preference from H.R. to Marketing. It’s a change I’ve always been grateful for. I think I’d have been miserable as an HR professional.

Secondly I was working (still driven insanely by a desire to prove myself and leave the failed year far behind) and preparing for the entrance exams together. In that very fine balance, I somehow tipped over into work and at the end of the year I was even further from that prized college admission than I was a year back.

So I squared my shoulders and decided a change was in order. I reasoned that it did not make sense to spend more than 2 years preparing for a course that lasted 2 years (no matter how prized the degree/diploma may be). It was the first ever big desicion of my life and I remember it clicking into place practically overnight. I brooked no arguments from family and friends (all eager to see me follow in the footsteps of my high-achiever cousins) and (quite surprising to me) no one asked me to consider changing my mind. I had never thought of myself as a desicive person and it was odd, how right that felt.

So I started my post-graduate program at 22 instead of 20. I was still keen to stick to the plan.


I never anticipated the dot-com crash, the twin towers falling and the economy dipping so bad that there were no jobs available when I finally finished b-school at 24. I also did not think (not in my wildest dreams) that I, of all people, would fall into an abusive, destructive relationship. These two things are inextrobly linked in my mind as the causes of the most tumultous phase in the last decade of my life. At 24, I was drained out of every drop of my hopeful, cheerful, inspired energy.

On one hand, it was a stomach-twisting experience to scrounge for jobs (when I’d got my first one with practically zero effort) after an MBA (and I thought it would actually enhance my prospects) and when I did get offers, it was for half of what I had earned as a fresh graduate. On the other hand there was the acrid, heart-burning sense of humiliation during the relationship and the residual low self-esteem and hopelessness after it ended. I felt like every single positive emotion of love, joy, happiness and hope had been wrung out of me and stomped to death. All that was left was an empty shell of a human being with nothing at all to look forward to.


I finally got a job six months after the b-school graduation. It was an triumph and an angry triumph. Not a happy celebration but an ‘up-yours’ answer to the placement cell I had walked out of (on a matter of principle, such pride I had in my beliefs in those days), the classmates who’d borrowed my notes for two years and then refused to acknowledge me at the farewell meet because I didn’t have a job and everyone else who’d written me off as a failure.

I also found a man, not the love of my life, not a steady relationship but the love that healed me. The difference is the same as that between a nourishing, hot meal and a life-saving drug. He salvaged what was left of me, the real me, the one that could feel..and for that I will forever be grateful to him. But I did not fall in love with him or find that elusive soulmate connection in our relationship.

That experience blurred my definitions of love and relationships. Timing stopped being a part of it after that.


At the end of that year, I realised that it was a miserable job, one I hated and that drained me of whatever little joy I was managing to dredge up everyday. In the second no-two-ways-about-it desicion of my life, I quit my job and career, indefinitely. It was the biggest and best desicion of my life. My parents asked me when I was planning to go back to work and I replied,

Maybe never.

I’m sure that didn’t make them very happy but I was all out of the make-other-people happy ingredient. I’m proud to say that I continued to pay my own bills and didn’t even need to cut down on expenses in those paycheck-less months. I’m also happy at the memory of the next alumni meet I went to, where the same bunch of people who’d followed me through college, ignored me at farewell, sucked up to me again as soon as I got a good job, finally had no clue how to react. One of them said,

You’re on a break? Wow, lucky yaar. I wish I could do that.

I replied,

Why don’t you? Have you taken any loans? Are you married or supporting someone else? Haven’t you saved anything from the past two years?

Once again, that ‘up-yours’ feeling but laced with a little less bitterness. I don’t know if I was growing up but I think I was definitely starting to be a little less intense about other people’s reactions. Not forgiving of them, (oh not yet) but at least accepting that some people would be jerks and cowards and miserable louses.

I think I did put the 5 months to good use. I wrote a lot. I took long walks on the beach by myself. I fell in love once and let him go, with complete peace and not a leaf of anger or injury. I learnt to read the tarot and even wrote a blog about my spiritual experiments. I blogged and discovered that I had a captive audience.


Then I woke up one Thursday morning and said to my mother,

Today I’m going to get a job.

And it really was as simple as that. I drafted my resume and mailed it out. In less than 24 hours, I had a call lined up. I trekked across the city for a written test, stayed back for an interview and was offered a job before I even got home. By Tuesday next, I had accepted and was poised to start my new job in 10 days.

In those ten days, I finally actualised something I had dreamt of since I was 18. I got a tattoo (which went on to become my personal symbol and logo). On the same day, I watched the love of my life get engaged to someone else. That week, I severed the longest, most poignant (and poisonous) relationship of my life and walked away, vowing not to shed another tear for him.

I was 26.


So much has happened in the 3-odd years from that time. The only thing that’s been constant (apart from change, as the Gita would remind us) has been the company I work for. I’ve been promoted twice, had 3 bosses, changed office locations twice and made an internal transfer. I still don’t know if I’m ‘someone important in the workforce’ as I’d hoped but I can reasonably entertain such illusions.

I still love kids and continue to hold out for the dream that I’ll be a mother some day. Maybe I’ll adopt, maybe I’ll get a donor. Or maybe my plan will just shift by oh, about a decade. 🙂

Objects In The Rear-View Mirror May Be Closer Than They Appear

I wake up remembering that it is the last day of the year – and with rueful reluctance – a birthday. For a chilling moment, comes my horoscope for the day,

Someone you used to have strong feelings for comes back into your life today, either in the real world or via the digital one. They still have a hold over you, although you won’t know for certain if you are ready to reconnect and get things stirred up again. Wait until you know more about how you feel before responding to them. Getting back in tune with other people at this point in your life could turn out to be much more complicated than you thought.

I ended an awful 2007 with a ‘tomorrow-is-another-day‘ post, getting tagged by Arzan. 2008 has been so wonderful, especially after a disastrous, heart-breaking 2007. I didn’t get into any messes, any ’emotional atyachaar’. I even cleaned up the muck on the floor of my mind. And in the second half, life only got better. In every possible way. I am so thankful.

Which is why (oddly enough), I enter 2009 with some trepedition. When you’ve got nothing left to lose, the only way you can go is up. But when you have things and people who matter, there’s also the fear of losing – balance, control and them. The past clutches its cold, skeletal fingers around my throat briefly.

I have this photograph, a reminder of a special friendship and many, many special moments. And the first thought I had when I saw it, that ‘Objects in the rear-view mirror are closer than they appear’. But I’ll just redo the tag and just use this photograph to remind me to look on, upward and ahead. Happy 2009, everyone!


There is no fortress more secure than your past. No stronger prison, either.

Older And Wiser

Tell me what it’s like.

she says.

Does it get better with time?

I pause and wonder what to say.

Can I give her an honest answer?

That it won’t..in some ways.

That heartbreak hurts as much at 30 as it does at 20.

That you never quite get used to the pain of letting go, no matter how often you’ve done it….though you might learn the lesson of numbness.

That love and cheating and tenderness and passion will continue to turn up unanticipated…and unwelcome, no matter how clear your vision stays.

That eventually dreams will become the last survival tactic for those who don’t have God or Family or FairyTales anymore.

No, I decide, I can’t tell her all of that. I can’t paint the next decade in a pall of gloom before it’s even arrived.

So I take a deep breath and say instead…

What does change is all the things in your head.

With the pain, there will be the aspirin of reality,
a little snapshot of the last time that grows clearer with time,
the knowledge that you survived that and so this you will too.

With time, other people’s opinions
will start to matter less than your own
or at least you’ll be able to pick and choose what you want to believe.

And if you’re smart…and I know you are,
you’ll have a Plan B or at the very least…an exit route.

So I end without lies, telling her the truth…but perhaps not all of it.

And I wish there were some lessons one didn’t need to learn.


*Dedicated to a very young and wonderful friend who asked the question. I hope she’s reading…or perhaps I hope she isn’t.

All The Time In The World

Ah, the flush of new love!

And I was lost for words
In your arms
Attempting to make sense
Of my aching heart
If I could just be
Everything and everyone to you
This life would just be so easy

Not enough time for all
That I want for you

– INXS ‘Not enough time’

I remember it from a long time ago, a lifetime ago. I recognize it in the faces of strangers, in the anonymous words I read on my computer screen. In the poised-and-posed expressions on painted actors on screen, I read the yearning that was fed into a writer’s mind to create this.

After the pain has subsided, long after when you reach that place of not hurting anymore and past the cynicism, the despair and the feeling that you’ll never love again….what is there at the end of it? It is this…

The thought that love may never again be the raging forest fire that it once (or twice or more) was. But the burning defined you in a way that you’ll never again be the same. And the only thing that can come next is peace. Absolute peace. And there’s all the time in the world.

Love truly is a hue that taints us forever. And in the middle of a hot November afternoon, there’s a cool breeze blowing across my forehead.


is a two-way street
with a lot of potholes
and not enough speed-breakers.

If you do manage to make it down the street, it’ll likely not be in one piece.

Well, minus some expectations at least.


First Date

What makes a good first date?

  • Zero awkwardness
  • Lots of laughter
  • Meaningful conversations (even if they go across different time-zones!)
  • Smiling – sweet smiles, secret smiles, silly smiles, wicked smiles, shared smiles, smiley smiles

What makes a great first date?

Hoping there’ll be another.

I got it. 🙂

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