How to feel good in under 5 minutes

The mirror always lies. It shows you what you want to see. Some days you’re beautiful. Some days, you are intense. Some days you have a good hair day and some days its just bad.

Some days you congratulate yourself for all the weight you’ve lost. Some days you chide yourself for the weight you’ve gained. Some days your curves make you smile. Some days your curves depress you beyond control.

But if the mirror is lying, who do you trust to show you how you look? Who will tell you if you look pretty or obnoxious or pretty obnoxious?

Friends? Family? Lovers? Children?

Why do we need someone else to tell us what we look like? Its all in the head. At the cost of sounding like a beauty pageant contestant, i’d say if you feel good you look good.

Its foolproof. I have tried and tested it. On days that I feel miserable and days that I look gorgeous, nothing much changes. My facial features are the same, the hair isn’t drastically different and most often the clothes are also the same. What changes, is the way I’m feeling.

And while I cannot feel good about myself every single day, I realise that I can do one thing every single day that could make me feel good. The list is long, but it works for me. Try it?

1. Roll-up the windows, play your favorite song, sing and dance while you drive: There’s something liberating about exercising your vocal chords in public without giving a damn! My song list: soak up the sun, lemon tree, dancing queen, radio GaGa and almost any Disney, Michael Jackson or Beatles song.

1. Eat something sinful: this is a tricky one. When on a diet, this could boomerang very badly. So make sure you don’t overdo it. Get that pastry, cookie or whatever it is that you’ve been avoiding. Look at it for a full minute. Yes, one full minute. Close your eyes and take in the smell. Feel the aroma. Now, take a bite. Feel your teeth sink in, let your tongue roll, let the flavours dance a merry salsa in your mouth. And then swallow. Rinse, repeat. The joy of eating can fix anything. Trust me!

1. Give a compliment: Making someone smile is highly underrated. If you’ve walked in NYC, you’d notice random strangers come up and compliment you. Notice how you feel? Elated! And in that happiness you send happy thoughts to the compliment-giver. Be generous. Tell someone you love their earrings or tell your cubicle mate how you love their new bag. But make sure you give a genuine compliment. I guarantee you, You will smile!

1. Call up an old friend: in the world of BBM, Facebook, twitter and whatsapp, its nice to call and talk just like that. Pick the friends wisely though. I always tinker up my special girls for a few minutes on a bad day. They don’t even know it, but talking randomly to them lifts my spirits three flights up!

1. Play with a puppy or a kitten: if you like animals, This is the.best.thing.ever. and no, I’m not even explaining why!

1. Dream: yeah, sit at your desk and daydream. You can dream about your dream vacation, your dream home, your dream boy/girl, dream dessert. But don’t do it all at the same time. You don’t want to get fired, do you? For 5 minutes dream, imagine and you’ll be in your happy place. Naturally, you will smile!

So those would be my favourite things to chase away the blues, feel good and therefore look great! What are your feel-good actions. Share na?

Judaai Is Not The End of Pyaar

My dad’s friends’ love stories always amuse me. Some of them started dating whilst in college and stuck to their relationship even as they travelled to different cities to pursue their careers, post grad degrees and all that. ‘They didn’t even have telephones back then, letters were their only hope,’ says Dad. ‘Besides, breaking up was not an option for them. They had decided already that this person was their life partner. They did what they had to and made it work!’ And mind you. There were no mobile phones, no pagers, and no email back in their day. ‘People didn’t even have telephones, you had to go to the neighbours’ if you wanted to make a call’ Dad tells me.

Next morning my phone goes frantic. SOS messages. ‘I think I am getting dumped,’ one message says.
‘She’s moving to UK, I am breaking up!’ another message says. Wow! Last night’s gyaan is totally out of date, I tell myself as I get out of bed. Most of my friends, me included, strongly believe that long distance relationships are just not worth the effort.

‘My girlfriend went to Singapore for her masters and within 3 months all I had left was astronomical phone bills, crazy amount of time wasted on the computer, cartloads of angst and a dysfunctional relationship,’ says Mr. J. Add to it, facebook made it prominent that his girl was busy but with parties and fun outings. ‘If a guy flirted with my girl when she was here in Mumbai, I wouldn’t give a damn but a picture with a guy randomly putting his arm around her on facebook pisses me off now that she’s so far away!’ he adds. They finally broke it off because their relationship started becoming a liability.

‘There’s no point of being in it if everything about your relationship bothers you. Not having your guy around to hug you, to tell you it’ll be alright is just not cool. I miss him, but I don’t miss the online fights. I’m glad it’s over,’ says Mr. J’s girlfriend.

Kinda paints a bleak picture about long distance, doesn’t it? As Ashish Chand accurately puts it, for many people a long distance relationship is the kiss of death. Ashish firmly believes that they can work, however, this is conditional. ‘If you’ve just met someone and the relationship goes long distance, it’s going to fail. At this stage you crave for each other. You want to be physically close. But if you’ve gotten over the clingy phase, there is hope in spite of the distance,’ he explains.

Poo, a self-confessed commitment phobic agrees with Ashish and thinks that long distance relationships just get a lot of bad PR, ‘Long distance isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be. If you are someone who values your space, it can be a boon.’

Of course, Poo firmly believes that in addition to constantly reassuring your partner of your love, you have to have mutual trust and the ability to be very open with your partner (which is where the Js failed) ‘With email, chat, skype and other such tech innovations, long distance is definitely possible!’

But what happens when you’ve had a bad day and all you want is a hug from your partner or when you miss them so bad, you can’t take it?

‘It takes a lot of time and patience,’ says RV who believes that one has to invest a lot of time and emotion to make up for time apart. Much like V had to.

‘Knowing that the long distance was only for a couple of months, made it easy. I missed him like crazy at times. Sometimes, it got so bad I almost thought of ending it, but then I’d remind myself of the big picture. You love this person enough to want to be with them? Then the long distance is just a hurdle you have to cross…’ says V. She is now married to the guy, so yeah, she crossed the hurdle.

If your partner is in the same country as you at least you are in the same time zone. Honey had to battle a transatlantic time-zone war to keep her relationship going. This essentially meant that when she slept, her guy was awake and vice-versa. ‘We both were sure we wanted it to work. Ending it was not an option.  We web-cammed, shared filmy music, shayari and photographs to reassure each other. If you want to make it work, you can,’ she explains. She also thinks that observing her parents, who shared a LDR for a while, has taught her that the distance can actually work in the favour of the relationship. It can make you independent, strong and it can teach you the value of the much spoken about ‘space’ between couples. ‘It is not for the weak hearted, though. You will spend a lot of time away from your partner and that takes strength,’ she warns.

In conclusion, if you really love this person and the idea of long distance is bogging you down, think again. Give it a shot, it’s worth it. And finally, based on the yapping I did on twitter, here are three things you should focus on.

1.    Be strong. Remind yourself of the big picture and be ready to do what it takes to make it work.

2.    Keep communication channels open. This will reduce misunderstandings and reassure your partner of your sincerity

3.    Use technology. Skype, email, IM etc are free. They will reduce your phone bills!
And yeah, good luck, I say!

PS: SMSers I hope you guys give it a shot. This one’s for you

Rain On The Beach Isnt Such A Bitch

Day 10, Monday 28th September, 2009

My plans to wake up early and go walk on the beach were massive failures! I didn’t get out of bed until about 8.30 am. It was nice to wake up late, but Nani’s word from the day before rang in my head. “It’s recently gained weight, it’ll go off,”

What the hell? Why can’t I be one of those people who can eat what they want and still have a body to die for? I have asked myself that question a lot of times and it frustrates me. But gratitude is a better thing to feel. I feel glad to have lost all the weight that I have lost. With that thought I got out of bed and wondered what I wanted to eat for breakfast. Wow, some mood swings I have. Well that’s me!

Eggs sunny side up, toast and chai. Time for some chinwag. “I saw a whack dream! But it was so damn positive.” Nani announced. We haven’t spoken about this, but it is our unconscious ritual to share dreams. Back at home, Nani would seat herself at the corner seat on the dining table (I call it her throne) and I would be scurrying around in the kitchen for food (what’s new? Yeah I’m a hog, are you going to kill me?) And she will tell me what a weird dream she had or I will tell her about the filmy dream I saw. We’ll probably analyse why we’d have seen the dream in the first place and get on with one something in the paper or random stuff about our plans for the rest of the day.

So, in her Miami home (I like how it sounds like ‘Jennifer Aniston’s Miami mansion’) when she shared her dream with me, I felt like she had finally settled in. I loved her dream, just as much as it was about her it was about me. There were old dreams revisited and then we got on with the day.

Loading the dishwasher, getting the laundry done, cooking and in the middle of it all, I was chatting with my friends back home. We finished our writing, in addition to the chores and got out for a walk on the beach. It had just rained and the sun was out. But guess what, right in the middle of the beach, we saw approaching rain. I kid you not. We ran from it. It was like the rain was chasing after us. An empty shack, the two of us, and the rain.

“I should’ve brought an umbrella yaa!” Nani chuckled. We stayed in for almost half hour as the rain played hide n seek. Eventually, the sea, the weather and the girl dancing in the sea while swimming in the rain, stopped amusing us. We made a run for Starbucks in the slight drizzle. How we forget the magic that a cup of hot chocolate spins on a rainy day. As the warmth of the chocolate engulfs you in a tight hug, you don’t mind that it rained on your parade, now do you?
America is making me see the glass half full and that’s not such a bad thing, now is it? Speaking of glasses, my cup was empty, but I held it up and emptied the last drop in my mouth. I love doing that. And the sun was out. We went back on the sea and walked to our spot yet again. This time we perched ourselves up above the rocks and chit-chatted while the waves lapped up the sand on the clean shore.

I loved sitting right there and talking to my little sister. And how I loved gushing, ‘Yeh jo time hai na, yeh bahut acha time hai!’ a la Geet from Jab We Met. But it truly is. Someday, me and nani will be 60 and 64 respectively and we’ll sit on our armchairs and smile when we think of all the times we spent together. But I am sure there will be many more opportunities for us to create more memories. But until then, I’m giving this trip my 100 percent. It is special for Nani and it is special for me.

Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hai!

Day 4:

I like waking up when it’s bright and sunny, stretch a little and have a luxurious minute hugging myself and relishing my dreams before panic hits and I start rushing. One would be a fool to want to rush around on a holiday, even if the holiday was meant to be more of a sister comforter trip. But even so, lying wide awake in an alien hotel bed, listening to the silence on a well-lit street while making a sincere attempt to go back to sleep is NOT fun. My super-fertile brain works best in above mentioned circumstances. Panic over unanswered emails and feeling anxious about the future and over analysing situations come with the territory. Of course, tweeting is an option but the thoughts easily get louder than my tweets.

We had seen 3 apartments, 3 more remained to be seen. And we had only liked one of them. We had the hotel room until Friday and then… ‘I don’t know’. When I’m in charge, I hate hearing those three words come out of my mouth (or mind in this case). What if we didn’t like anything, what if what if what if! I shut the negativity out and tried sleeping. Nope, no sleep. Happy thoughts. New York, meeting Raj n Pratibha n Tara, seeing NewYorker, meeting Moodie! Shopping! Wheeee! Ok, too much happiness, can’t sleep. So I got out of bed, showered and woke nano up for breakfast.

‘This chick, Georgie, her apartment is good. It’s much cheaper, it’s 13th and Michigan ave and it totally might be it,’ Nano announced. Meanwhile, another friend called and announced that the swankiest high rise in the area, Flamingo, had a room available for $500. The elder sister in me did a jig. Flamingo was safe, neat and 4 blocks from Nani’s school. I’m telling u, I have never ever tried to apply the law of attraction the way I did that day. We hunted Georgie out. And when the door opened, a merry little man in his late 40s greeted us. I avoided looking at Nano, I knew I’d burst out laughing.

The room was nice, the neighbourhood awesome but hello, sharing the apartment with a man, no way! The sweet man did show us around and all, and with a heavy heart we turned it down. Sigh, I wanted Flamingo to work out. Hell yeah! Meanwhile, we decided to eat at McDonald’s. Junkfood was needed. Nothing pacifies my stressed mind like fried greasy food, carbs and meat. Post lunch, another apartment. This time the girl didn’t even show us the room. ‘If she called us to show the room, then she had better made sure the roommate was ok with showing the room!’ I fumed. My attitude and the weirdass stink in that apartment led Nanuli to put a cross against the name.

Flamingo Flamingo Flamingo (total sarkar style!). A pacifying conversation with the parents and a tete-a-tete with NewYorker later, I was ready. ‘If you like the apartment, don’t think too much. Take it!’ NewYorker’s words rang in my head. We entered the heavily guarded gates of Flamingo and stood by watching BMWs and Ferraris zip in and out. Hopes crash, and how. The building was too posh to be the cheapest we had yet seen. And the 40 yr old south American woman who was going to show us the house stared at us in bewilderment (we look like carbon copies apparently) before telling us her ‘kondeeshaans’. I heard her say the rent was $1200 a month and I was like, what! Nano merrily took the tour with her. We went to the pool, the jacuzzi and what not. This was like super luxury. When she took us to the apartment on the 15th floor, neatly done up in white and red, we couldn’t resist a gasp. The view was fantabulous. The bay, the skyline. Hmmm. Too posh too posh, get out now. The guided tour went on. The lady was chaloo. Even with all the luxury, $1200 seemed to be an unreal amount.

We got out and Nani chuckled, ‘Chal at least we saw how Flamingo is. Baap ke paise pe I won’t stay so posh. Khud kamaungi toh sochungi,’ she announced. I have never been so proud of my sister. It was easy to covet that luxurious apartment, it was easy to whine and say ‘I wish I could afford it’ but Nani has her head in the right place. She aspired for it but on her own merit. An elder sister can only stop a moment and give the younger sister a ‘mujhe tumpe naaz hai’ look and hope and pray that destiny gives her the opportunities to work hard and get exactly what she wants.

And she will. Tomorrow, she’ll have an apartment. We will find a home for her, in Miami. I go to bed with that promise to myself.

Metaphor For A Metaphor

Metaphor: it has defined much in life. It has complicated things and yet simplified so much. Metaphor is what I hide behind when im too cowardly to be in your face and one such night, I tweeted about my love for Metaphor.
Metaphor became the soul of conversation that night. Metaphor was the flavour of that night and metaphor came screaming back to me. He made me choke up with emotion and made me poetic. And here is a poem I ended up tweeting:

Metaphor is an empty perfume bottle I remember you by,
Metaphor is a supressed old flame…
Metaphor is an old T-shirt I hold dear,
Metaphor is the warmth when Ur here.
Metaphor: that’s all I have…

Metaphor is that teardrop that fell,
Telling my heart to bid you farewell.
Metaphor is that batting eyelid,
It captures the memory before it spills…

And then, magically, the poem became interactive.

@ashumhatre: Metaphor is that stain on the old shirt, metaphor is our relationship and its dust. Metaphors : That’s all we had! 😉

And the sweetest  replies came from @baxiabhishek:
I’ll be the jeans to that tee, i’ll be there where calls thee. 🙂
I’ll be the tissue to wipe the tear, you called me, so i’m here.

This entire metaphor talk made me think. We don’t hide behind metaphors. We use them to enhance what we have to say. Being obvious isn’t very charming, now is it?
Metaphor gives us the license to beat around the bush and it connects two things perfectly well. There’s nothing clever about metaphor. Metaphor is just natural…

And while I’m on metaphor:
Metaphor is a friend that tells,
All, in due time, will be well.
Metaphor is a friend, who understands,
What is hidden behind your metaphors so grand.
Metaphor is a friend who knows,
Exactly how a metaphor grows…

This one’s for all you metaphor tweeters: @baxiabhishek @ashumhatre @unitechy @mriganayanika @fossiloflife @menonhari @archisM @avgs @ideasmithy @simplymalyalee @aalaap (who’s too straight-froward to use metaphor, we understand!)

Dear Santu

It’s a bond stronger than the first friendship or a memory sweeter than your first relationship. What you share with your first car, is always special, memorable and etched in your heart forever. And you know what’s funny? You don’t realise all this until it is time to say goodbye.

There was talk of buying me a new car, but then suddenly the father announced that there was a buyer for the Santro and that he wanted it ASAP. That hit me right in the stomach. Sell the santro?

The Santro was a gift on my 18th birthday from my grandfather. He knew I didn’t dream of diamonds or gold. I only wanted to drive and my dream was to be able to go to college driving my own car with music to keep me company. Santro was every bit a part of that dream. She and I made so many fun trips, to so many places.

Dear Santu,
This is not a parting letter. It is just a revision of memories, so we always remember what we shared.
Do you remember, Santu?
Do you remember missing the rights and lefts cause we were in the wrong lane? Do you remember me being too proud to ask for directions and getting lost in the bylanes of Malad? Do you remember our first accident and do you remember that night when K confessed his love to me? Do you remember when K and I parted ways? Do you remember the trip with the girls to Pune? And do you remember that 7 hour drive to Alibaug? And of course you must remember swimming through the roads on 26/11 and you must remember the time we drove Nimmai and Anna around town, making them proud of you and me. You might remember that time when we stayed out all night? And do you remember hitting all the bumps on the road, just to annoy Pannu? Oh what fun it was singing besura as we went to college! You remember the time when…. I am running out of words.
There are too many memories, Santu. And I lived my teenage years with you. A new car just can’t excite me as much as the thought of parting with you bums me out.

Those memories, that bond, it symbolises who I was. Letting go of you symbolises the end of an era. Which is why, me and Pannu hugged you and tears welled up. You will always be my Dhanno, Santu.
Yours,
Basanti

Dream

You are mine,
You’ve always been.
Every night
A different scene…

You keep me going
Never let me stop
You give me hope
You give me props…

I was afraid,
Of who n what you are
But in all your vagueness
I saw sense and I saw a path

But it’s getting tiring,
My legs feel the pain.
Every night you tell me
Tomorrow will be that day

I stare at the phone,
I refresh my inbox,
‘No news is good news’,
Seems like a paradox…