Thursday, October 22, 2009

Do dreams have to vanish when you open your eyes?

As I settle back into reality, which hasn't been a piece of cake after two blissful weeks in the company of my true self, like-mindedness, dreams, peace, gourmet food, and words, my brain is teased with thoughts and unanswered questions. I spent the first few days, upon my return, in trance. The noise surrounding me was like the drums playing in the background - persistent yet rhythmic, but I was unfettered. But last night, after a long day at work, when I got into the subway, I felt my New York-nerves tighten around my neck. As I ran to get through the semi - open doors, survival instincts kicked. My patience and pleasantness became the subway-rodents' feast. The vulture in my eyes hunted for seats. I heard my conscience murmur, cautiously, to me: The “beeatch” is back.

In my defense, the philosopher in me was bludgeoned by a wailing child and an indignant vendor selling candy on the subway. But here is the thing: Fifteen days ago, the same behavior wouldn’t have bothered me as much. I secretly wouldn't have wanted to call the cops on “untraditional” commuters or roll my eyes at human cacophony. So, what was it? Can a change in place alter human responses to such an extreme degree? Or was it time for a reality check on what keeps me happy?

A friend, who is originally from Pittsburgh, said that NYC has made her mean. She can feel it. So, one day, she would like to get in touch with her true self but that would require relinquishing the hub nub of the Big Apple. Sadly, she knows that the move is a distant dream and might always remain one. I understand where she comes from. On the other hand, I know a few dear ones (Sending tons of best wishes their way. I am so proud of them!) who have decided to take the risk. They will take the plunge and follow their dream because we live just once. They are fortunate to have recognized their true desires and have the guts to abandon the monotony of “required-to-do.” I admire their attitude: If it all works out, great; if it doesn’t, they’ll go back to where they came from, metaphorically speaking.

In the end, does it help to know what works best for you even when you know that you probably can't follow through with it or does ignorance work better? What you don't know can't hurt, right? And if you do know what you want to do with the rest of your life (or at least give it a shot, temporarily) but pragmatism becomes your prison-anklet and doesn’t permit you to follow your dreams, can you ever live happily? Will the regret of knowing but never trying, whether your dreams would have worked, ever stop gnawing at you?

More until next time.

Copyright © 10.22.2009

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” Oscar Wilde

Thursday, October 15, 2009

All good things come to an end

Wise people say, when you are having fun, time flies by. That’s exactly what happened. Sigh! My two-week writer’s residency finishes today. It was like yesterday that I almost threw up my breakfast on an eight-seat propeller plane, thanks to fear-stricken fellow passengers, who continued to read the safety manuals loudly—in case our plane crashed into the water. Ironically, sometimes, death could be a better option than neurotic travelers. You can tell it’s time to be in New York; the cynic in me is back.

I was talking to a very dear friend of mine the other day, and she asked me why I hadn’t blogged about my stay in Martha’s Vineyard yet. I asked her if she was a masochist. Wasn’t My Facebook presence already inundating her life?J Jokes aside, I have some good news. I pitched the idea, of my experience in Martha’s Vineyard, to a publication. Guess what? Just a few days ago, they accepted my piece, and it will be published in the first quarter of 2010. Though I can’t, legally, write anything much about my experience on this beautiful island, but I will make a suggestion: Plan a trip to this place. Words don’t do justice to what Martha’s Vineyard has to offer. People here look content. If Martha’s Vineyard was its own country, and if a survey, to determine patriotism levels, was conducted, I am a hundred percent sure, this island would win by a landslide. Smitten, like a cult, is the term that comes to mind when you think of the Vineyarders.

It’s the only small town/island where I didn’t miss a big city. Maybe there is magic in the water. Who knows! Well, there is impressive amount of money here for sure. And legacies. And mansions. And a pot that brews creativity.

After today, as we all move on with our lives (I get into the Diwali-party mode), I wonder what we take back with us. I can’t speak for others, but I know the friendships, the memories, the recipes, the sharing, the caring, and the weight gain will remain me with forever. Hopefully, not the weight gain bit.:-)

So, stay tuned! I will post the link, of our video interview, on my blog once I have it. Attached are a copy of the write-up and event announcement in the local newspapers.

More when real life takes over as I reach New York City. Happy Diwali to those of you celebrating!


More until next time.


Copyright © 10.15.2009


“Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing” – Oscar Wilde


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reincarnation: Traveling with “Masala Chai” and “Maggi Noodles”

Some of you know that I got accepted, at a writers' residency program, in New England. I am going away for two weeks. My husband teases me every time we talk about the opportunity and calls it my "vacation." Hello, not worrying about work deadlines or cleaning for two weeks or guiltlessly drinking wine mid-week or writing endlessly doesn't qualify this defined period of time as “vacation.” Or maybe it does. We’ll find out!

I am looking forward to the residency. I have to say I was a little skeptical about taking two weeks off from work and life in NYC. But my husband very generously said, “You deserve this break more than anyone else I know.” For once, the planetary arrangements worked in my favor and I was able to make this commitment.

Anyways, he thinks by Sunday of this week I will be whining: “I want to go home.” I wouldn't be surprised if my dad and brother along with my husband have placed dibs on the Sweta-missing- home-deadline:-) Well, they all know me too well. Firstly, I loathe bucolic life. No kidding. The peace and quiet makes me nauseous. If you want to scare me, say “Hills.” I have never been able to appreciate houses, for more than a weekend, on five acres of land and no passer bys. Secondly, I am a homebody who is rather resistant to change. I need my family, friends, and wine, and I am all set.

And traveling has its own challenges. I spent last afternoon exchanging emails with my friends and asking them about travel essentials. See, I am flying to New England, which means I have to obey airline weight restrictions - twenty pounds (I believe). That's what I am allowed or at least that’s the weight my back can endure. As a kid, my brother lugged my luggage (I just opened a can of worms here. Let’s not even get into what all I would travel with as a child) and as an adult, my husband does the good deed. In fact, when we travel together, the forty pound weight limit is distributed rather intelligently: I use up 35 lbs and he happily makes do with 5 lbs. I know, “happily” is over-rated, but he’s smart enough to know that a “Happy wife” is the key to every successful marriage. :-)

I digress; back to packing. So, according to my friends, boots fall under "high-priority" essentials. I concur with them. Ask any woman. Okay, any woman with good (or even remote) fashion sense. Fine. Ask any of my girlfriends, and I swear they will tell you that life, for a woman, is barren without knee-length boots. The whole point of autumn is to bring out the hidden fashionista in you. Boots, scarves, good hair days etc. All in all, sweet! Sure, the winter lurking around the corners is not an attraction, but who cares when you can strut yourself in shoes that hug tightly around your calves and ankles and arm your hands with steaming cappuccino. The magic of autumn. So, last night, my boots found a home in those 20 lbs.

Now those wardrobe essentials are taken care of, onto food. Until a few years ago, I could eat every meal out. In fact, I would look forward to it, but with age, I have started appreciating home cooked meals. I still LOVE to eat out (I am a foodie!), but with the desire of trying out a new place or cuisine and not because there is no food at home. A confession: I need Asian food once a week, at least. Not Indian, anything Asian would do (especially Thai & Chinese). My palate goes into withdrawal-symptom-mode otherwise.

I don’t know much about the place I am traveling to—in terms of “grocery” availability, which would have been immaterial a few years ago. I would have happily gorged onto local goodies and eaten every meal at a restaurant. But when my friend asked last afternoon if I had packed any “soul food,” I got thinking. I totally bought her suggestion of carrying some comfort food with me – “Maggi noodles,” “Knorr desi soups,” and “Murku.” Funnily, these items will never be found in my pantry, but I bought them because I know they will make me less homesick. I have been a boarder majority of my life, and I know the magic items.

Growing up, I wondered about people who traveled with food. My husband and brother have constantly made fun of the “Food-travelers-with-dabbas.” But today, I am one of them. I’d never imagined turning into one, but I have. People change and age is a change enabler. With age, we all need things that soothe our soul. So, instead of getting my nails done after work and grabbing a nice meal with my husband at a restaurant last night, I bought chicken biryani for lunch (I am quite indifferent to lunch otherwise); drank “masala chai” at a very dear friend’s place after work; and, cooked a lavish dinner at home (tons of food for my husband when I am away).

So, please send me your good wishes and aashirwaad and love, so I can put these two weeks to good use along with the”Masala chai” sachets I am carrying with me. And I’ll remember to not snicker at the smell of “theplaas” at airports.

More until next time.


Copyright © 10.01.2009

"We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities" - Oscar Wilde