What Blogging Means To Me

When I look at my older posts, I feel seriously embarrassed. I mean, what was I thinking when I wrote them? They seem so childish and immature! And often, forced. Lately, I have been thinking of the way my attitude towards blogging and the kinds of posts I write have evolved. There has been a change. I started off with writing things people wrote. I followed blogs that got lot of votes or comments even though I didn’t like what and how they wrote. I commented on posts I didn’t relate to. I read about how to get more traffic and earn money with blogging.

Soon, the blogs I read got narrowed down. I did not comment just for the heck of it. I wrote as and when I felt like; whenever there were some real thoughts to dispose off.

I found my own blog space.

I shut down my food blog, where I used to write restaurant reviews. I shut down my old fashion blog that was on Blogger and made another one on WordPress (this one has also evolved hugely in the last 1.5 years).

I am the happiest with my travel blog. It has been most active and popular. I developed a proper niche for myself by writing about places, restaurants in and around Baroda, exhibitions and events – something no one else had been / is doing.

As for this personal blog, yes, this one transformed too. I no longer write for popularity. I write for myself. This blog has become my public diary. I do not aspire to be a famous blogger who writes great things about politics, art or the like. I just want to share my thoughts and little things about my life, hoping someone out there is listening. It is wonderful writing about challenges, dilemmas of life and have unknown people drop in concern, good luck and advice.

I can conclude one thing. One cannot seek, aim for popularity. Any amount of networking will not help. The only thing that will is passion. My travel blog is a live example. I wrote about Gujarat because I love that state. It is my home state and I love everything about it. I started showcasing Gujjuland to the rest of the world. I spent energy, time and efforts in learning photography on my own, visiting places and writing about them. The effort, genuineness and passion shows in the blog. My pictures speak.

Passion, my friends, dedication and desire to be better are the only things that pay – in any aspect of life – job, relationship or hobby.

Blogging is more than just a hobby (at least for me). It is a job. An important aspect of life. A great way to learn and make friends. A great way to widen horizons.

During my last week in Baroda, I went to a handicrafts exhibition where I was moving around clicking snaps (with the intention of writing about the event and the organizing body) and one of the organizers asked me who I was. I held my head high and said, I am a Blogger. And what do you think happened then? I was given VIP treatment! I was invited to their workshop, told more about their activities and given lot of attention!

Serious, sincere blogging pays in different ways.

 

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Shifting Gears Again

This year has brought (or rather, is bringing) a big, BIG change in my life. I am shifting gears. I am making an unimaginable shift. After spending close to 7+ years in Human Resources and industrial products manufacturing companies, I am switching to Apparel and Fashion Designing! Didn’t I make many jaws drop and eyebrows shoot up? Impossible! Crazy move! But this is the plain fact. I am finally making my dream come true (much of the credit goes to At for encouraging me, leading me into this). I start classes from Monday. After studying Management fundas that were mostly full of air and not much substance, I am coming down to pure skill building. Working in a lab with mannequins, cloth, thread, needles and sewing machines. After attending the department’s orientation session last evening, I realized fashion designing is far from glamorous. No, I cannot dress up and wear good shoes to college because I will be running around and working in that scary looking lab. I cannot think beyond sneakers there.

The session also made me realize that my easy days are over. Till now, even though I was at home all the time, I just whiled away my time browsing the internet, listening to music, chatting endlessly with some selected few friends in US. I did no or little work, sparing some mediocre cooking that I did if and when I felt like. I am sure when I am neck deep into assignments and struggling with the sewing machine (which is something I haven’t touched till date) I will want to be an idle dependant housewife again.

To make the most of the remaining 4 days, that I have before my classes start, I have listed down on a few things that I MUST do without wasting more time. Here they are:

1. Cook something different every day. My cooking went from bad to worse lately and I concluded I can never be a good cook. But still, I want to keep going while I have time, energy and inclination.

2. Practice walking in heels. Yes! I have ended up buying some 4 pairs of high heels and if I have to wear them outside, I need to practice right now at home!

3. Learn the manual focus function of my SLR. Take few pictures (the ones I have been thinking about since ages) to practice the same.

4. Touch base with all friends and family members I have totally lost touch with due to my laziness. Anyway, after yesterday’s session, I am quite clueless about my future state. I better contact everyone now itself!

Enough work for 4 days, I guess!

After Monday, I will have new stories to tell. Stories from a world unfamiliar to most of us.

Coming Out Of Shell

It gets very lonely here sometimes – a cousin in another city of US told me once. Hang on to whatever friends you have or can get.

US is another world. In order to be happy here, I need to unlearn what I knew and was in my past life and pick up things here. That’s the only way one can enjoy this life. So if I go to a New Year party and don’t drink or dance, I will be labelled mad (this actually happened with me). I need to sit with a drink in hand at gatherings. I need to shop and eat out keeping in mind deals and discounts. I need to be more social, open and extrovert; being the introvert that I am will not help.

The initial few days were very difficult here for an extreme independent, self centred person like me. Of course, girls would want to have a husband who does most work, takes big-small decisions and drives her around for shopping but that didn’t make me happy. It was difficult for me to be a prolonged guest. It pricked to be sitting around doing nothing – in someone else’s house – while he did everything. I kept questioning myself – What is your contribution? What is your worth?

While elders advised me to ‘build my own home’ and focus on new relationship, transform from Me to Us, I am struggling to make my identity in this new country full of strangers. Who am I here now? An insignificant nothing? How can Us be complete if one I is incomplete? And I will feel complete when I feel well achieved. When I feel something.

In the last few days, I experimented with cooking. No world cuisines or delicacies. Simple ghar ka khana. Some were ok, some were inadequate. But I felt happy for achieving something. I gave myself a challenge and fulfilled it. The next target is to be better at it. This new challenge has been driving my days. Every day I look forward to cooking a new sabzi.

The other day, I ventured out into the neighbourhood on my own. That was a big step. I don’t know what was stopping me from walking out and getting lost? Isn’t that the only way of discovering?

Of course, there is the marriage. With a person who is on a totally different plane than me. That does take away half of my energy. Still, to feel content, I try to make the most of my me-time. I talk to old friends, try connecting with new friends, try cooking, read and write.

Between all the keeping-busy, there are moments of nothingness. That’s when I realize life is lonely. When I am wide awake during the day, every one else in India is fast asleep. I have been used to having people around me all the time – colleagues, neighbours, friends, family. Suddenly, there is no one.

It does get lonely here.

Sometimes I wonder if I should even think of my past life. Yeah, I have begun to call it past life. There is no point mixing it up with new life. The two can’t merge. The components of my past life need not find their way in here. This world is different from the other. And to be happy here, I need to forget the other one.

* * * *

New Chapter Begins

I woke up the first morning in this new country and realized I did not have my usual microwave utensils – the ones that were my lifeline, actually. The ones I used the most in the kitchen. The ones I used to begin my day. And I panicked. Kitchen is an area I am usually clueless about. Unless it is the microwave and my favourite microwave equipment.

So here it was. My first moment of panic. The first time I felt lost in a new country, a new house. The first time I wanted to be back in my shabby rented Baroda house.

It’s been around 2 days in U S of A – my new base and though it felt like an illusion for some time, the cloud seems to be clearing now. While on the surface, I liked the new surroundings, the new way of living, a tiny voice prompted me from somewhere at different points of time, reminding me that everything is new. Different. Something I am not used to. Something not my own.

The first weekend here has been spent in getting up late, sleeping with no time in mind, eating with no time in mind and basically lazing around. The cold weather helps the cause. Though I would want to be on my feet all the time, working hard and keeping myself busy, I can’t help but go with the flow. Maybe I should just enjoy the ‘doing nothing’ part for some time (especially when At has liberally offered to treat me like a guest for a week). Is this what is called wedded bliss?

Wedded bliss began immediately after marriage. All I did was be a guest in different houses, get pampered, have money spent on and eat. A LOT. Women I know said I should enjoy this phase as it would never come back. Sometimes I did. Sometimes I just felt burdened.

There is anyway nothing much I can do right now, except tagging along and silently watching. With no phone of my own, no car, no familiarity with the house and city, no routine of my own, I feel handicapped. And helpless. Being dependant…. pricks. Although At is quite caring and understanding, I do not like this me.

At this point of time, I feel clueless – about what I am and what I will be. How things will move. If I could transform from a fierce, independent, fearless woman to a docile, submissive, confused one, I really don’t know what to expect from future.

So. What next?

I find blank pages magnetic. When I look at blank paper, either lying carelessly or stacked beautifully, I get a feeling they ar waiting to be written upon. Waiting to hear new stories, deepest thoughts and hidden fears. Waiting to provide solace or solutions.

In the chaos of last 10 days, a blank half torn notepad called me on. I have been tagging along with my in-laws (testing my patience and maturity) and that one look at the notepad let free a flow of clogged thoughts. When there is so much happening with you, you don’t know from where to begin because everything seems significant.

After crying from rooftops that I am not happy about the Big Change, I’d be a hypocrite to say that marriage isn’t that bad (so far, atleast) for many reasons. A great new family. A down to earth, understanding husband. Lot of pampering.

Since the wedding, I have only been driven around from restaurants to malls to clubs. I get to eat what I want. I get to decide where to go. Of course there are lots of inner battles to fight. But overall, a girl would give anything to be in my place today. In which house are you showered with sudden gifts every other day? In which house does one get to stay like a real guest – wake up late and eat an already made huge breakfast spread? Which MIL makes it clear to her sons that things will happen as per the new entrant as it is ‘her time’? Which man does all he can to keep his new wife out of all chaos and drama? Though the road seems to be a bit bumpy right now, I can see wide smooth road ahead. The journey is likely to be good.

The dread that I was harbouring before wedding dissolved quickly – even before the wedding day. And I started enjoying the wedding prep. The bride-to-be is enjoys the wedding preparations in a different way. She gets too much attention, pampering and is expected to do nothing but rest for the big day. So, that’s exactly what I did. I sat back, watched everyone working, having fun, chatting and meeting up with friends and relatives.

Getting emotional was not the solution at this stage. There were too many emotions – mine and others’ – to handle. Dealing with my own emotions isn’t difficult; its others’ that I can’t handle. Because I was too helpless here. I just decided to take care of my own and let others handle theirs.

When the moment finally came, when I had to go away, I was surprisingly cool. Cool to the extent of being emotionless. I dealt with the rituals, however ridiculous I found them to be, with discipline and seriousness. They had to be done. Part of the big game. The big story.

I had conditioned myself too much. I did not let homesickness come in. I didn’t notice my family wasn’t around me. I didn’t realize how much stress I was going through by patiently dealing with a new home full of strangers. Did I cry? Did I feel sad? No. How could I? There is so much to cope up with. There was no time for anything else.

I am stuck between 2 worlds. 2 lives. 2 chapters. I belonged to one but am expected to suddenly adopt the other – which I am diligently, speedily trying to do. I am dedicating myself too much to it, not thinking of anything else. But in the process, I belong to neither world.

Every day holds new discoveries – of the family’s dynamics. Of your own hidden fears and strengths. Of changes and realizations. Of the new family’s secrets, weaknesses and issues.

Looks like, for a long long time, I will be going on an unplanned adventure trip.

And, time’s up

Every morning I wake up and see my mother towering over my bed throwing questions – Have you selected the songs for Sangeet? Have you booked the parlour? Have you compiled the bangles? What about the song that you are going to sing? My father follows – You haven’t packed cards for your friends yet. You haven’t given me their travel schedule. And have you spoken to the event management guys?

I try to shake away the feeling of dread along with the duvet and spring up, ready for day’s action.

Whoever said the bride-to-be is pampered and expected to rest like a queen has been misleading unsuspecting girls to believing that their wedding is going to be a glamorous sort of an event. Because it is actually far from it.

Wedding preparations involve running from pillar to post getting dresses made, finalizing events, co-ordinating guests’ visits, distributing cards, fighting over little things and basically going crazy.

That’s how I am now – hyper, crazy, confused and lost.

Despite the wedding jitters and the whole walking into unknown thing, I mechanically throw myself into preparations. The past 10 days have been super-busy. I cleared my study table, set my laptop and phone on it and have been diligently working from 10 to 5. I have not had time to eat and chat with friends. Visiting saloons for beautification is out of question. (Now I know why brides manage to look beautiful. It’s just modern make-up deceiving eyes). I’d rather settle with a book and a blanket.

And there are those moments when there is no work to occupy my mind. That’s when uneasiness makes its smug entrance and decides to create some chaos. Since the last couple of days, I have barely been eating. 4 days, I counted, left for the wedding functions to begin. Of course, I try and put up the best show I can. After all, I am the bride-to-be. And a wedding is all about show.

When I was younger, I used to be in awe of brides and bride-to-be’s. I thought they were made of another material altogether. They always looked beautiful to me. And happy. And grown up and serene. I don’t feel any of it. I don’t even feel like a bride-to-be. I’d rather be an ordinary company employee that I used to be.

Tired of thinking and over-thinking, I just wait for nightfall so that I can go off to sleep and not think for a while. Little do I realize that as nights pass, days fly too.

Sunday Special–The Nineties

IMG_1942

While the above will come across as out-dated and cheesy to most, I have lot of nostalgia attached to it. This represents the nineties era – the era I grew up in. And since I am so obsessed with movies and music, what reminds me of my childhood better than nineties Bollywood?!

I spent several lazy summers of Nineties crammed in the only air conditioned room of the house – living room – with my mother and baby sister, lying on the carpet watching Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander or 100 Days or the like; movies that the cable guy would play every afternoon. Movies that were full of gaudy maroon lipstick, puffy bold flower print skirts, voluminous coarse hair, shiny eye lids and rebellious love stories actually got me addicted and, worse, inspired. I wanted to be in the movie. I wanted to be like those actresses. I wanted my future life to be that movie.

I know. Childish fascinations.

I adored Madhuri dixit (still do) and after I stopped infatuating over Anil Kapoor, it was Salman Khan. I still adore him.

Nineties songs are peppy and melodious – very hummable and foot tapping. Every time I cannot decide what genre to listen to, I tune in to Nineties. If I start listing down my favourite music from that era, I would be writing for the next 3 months.

A slim Madhuri danced in heavy winds and dreamt of her Prince Charming in Humko aaj kal hai.

A snobbish Pooja Bhatt and sulky Aamir Khan fought over a watermelon and place to sleep while battling their inner desires in Dil hai ki maanta nahi.

A love struck Salman Khan tried to woo a haughty, purple sari-clad Madhuri in Didi tera dewar deewana.

A young SRK came as a knight in shining armour to save his damsel in distress in Tujhe dekha.

Battle of the sexes – Akshay Kumar and Deepak Tijori challenged Ayesha Jhulka and Sabeeha in Khud ko kya samajhti hai.

A goofy looking Ajay Devgan boldly announced (sang from rooftops, literally) his love for Madhoo, fearlessly, in Maine pyar tumhi se (a favourite Antakshari song).

Tu cheez badi hai mast mast was almost a National song for half a year.

There are endless Govinda-Raveena foot tapping numbers and Akshay-Raveena animated ones.

There are also touchy Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayi songs & lovable and memorable Dil Toh Pagal Hai ones.

Evergreen pairs: Salman Khan-Madhuri. Sridevi-Anil Kapoor. SRK-Kajol. Aamir Khan-Juhi Chawla. Govinda-Raveena. Akshay-Shilpa. It was never boring to watch them do the same antics again and again.

This era makes me smile. It is quite difficult to watch the movies today; cinema has surely moved on. Moreover, who can stand those gory outfits and make-up? Nevertheless, movies like DTPH, DHKMN, DDLJ and HAHK have the capability of warming our heart. They hold meaning. They are real, deep love stories – tragic or happy. There are real friendships, real family issues.

I am proud to say – I am a Nineties Gal!

Nineties

A tribute to my favourite era. Some images that are imprinted on our minds permanently.