Thursday, December 23, 2010

As I celebrate my one-year anniversary of freedom

It’s that time of the year when majority of people party and pause in the same breath. They take out a notepad (mental or literal) and make a list of New Year resolutions. And few even tally if they truly followed up with last year’s determination. It’s that feeling of control. That adrenaline rush that comes from the hope: The ability to change the upcoming year. To have learnt from the mistakes of the past year. To make your life better.

I, for one, take my list of resolutions very seriously. Maybe because I am a planner. I am an artist at heart but a professional at mind. I need structure. I work better if I have goals laid out for me, both personal and professional. I like to hold myself accountable for my efforts. Some don’t get why I thrive the way I do because unlike them, my dreams and desires aren’t borrowed. I make the effort to find my own world, not live in someone else’s shadow.

Who does that you wonder? We all know women who get their husbands to buy them nice cars, handbags, diamonds, and houses ONLY because someone in their universe got it. We all have met men who chastise successful women just because their wives are incompetent or not driven. I feel sadness, not anger, towards such people. Often times, people with bigger wallets have smaller minds and even tinier hearts to accommodate anything that’s against their grain of familiarity.

Anyway, about a year ago, close to this time, I had made the decision to quit my traditional, day job in marketing to pursue my dream of becoming a full-time writer. It’s not a decision that I made overnight. It was one of the items on my list of New Year resolutions, which I shared with only a handful of people. Call it self-preservation. This way, if it happened, you saw it; if it did not, well, I could avoid the questions.

In this year, I have discovered myself both as a writer and a human being. Writing makes you very aware of your surroundings. And you might not always like what you find out. But along with the hypocrisy, inadequacy, and delinquency of my world, I have seen the value of true friendships and relationships.

God and many people have been kind. I feel humbled by whatever each one of them has done for me. Though quite a few chose to be around when the glamorized aspect of being a writer was on display; many of them were there through thick and thin. Those days when I was unsure of my future, these bunch of folks put their lives on hold to just hear me. And sometimes, all we want is for someone to lend us an ear. A special shout out to all of those generous humans in my life. You know who you are.

Time and commitments have taught me, like other writers and artists, to look past comments like “So, what do you do when you don’t write? Like your real job.” A couple of days ago a high-level professional said to me, “But I thought writers write anytime they feel like.” The old me would have reacted and perhaps justified my choices; the new me used the comment as an anecdote in this blog post. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn ya. J

Every one seems to have a suggestion on how a writer should lead their life. The number of hours they should spend. The content. The list is endless. I don’t need others to tell me how to handle my work. Writing is my full-time job. If I have had three book releases this year, several articles, essays, and poems published, and have two books coming out in the next 4-5 months, I must have done something right! Is it a surprise that the creative types are bit of a recluse? If your every move is speculated and judged, would you really want to share what you are dealing with? You live inside a cocoon with a select group.

I gave every single day of 2010 my sweat and blood. I dealt with my share of rejections and personal interjections. I said to a friend the other day that most folks see the finished product or your name on a piece and exclaim, “You are so lucky. How many books in one year.” Just because I don’t whine doesn’t mean I don’t face my own share of troubles and challenges. But I look at it pragmatically: I have twenty-four hours in a day. I could either waste it on people who blabber or use that time to write. I choose the latter. But I have an elephant’s memory, and I don’t forget.

I have come to an understanding that someone who doesn’t have their own dream can rarely appreciate anyone else’s. At the end of this year, I choose to spend my energy on people who haven’t perturbed my night’s sleep. I refuse to waste my breath on the others because “I have miles to go before I sleep.”

More until next time,


Copyright © 12.23.2010

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” 
Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Honey, I am home...

So, the Srivastava-Vikram household is a buzz with holiday festivities. Yes, yes, yes, we are back in town from Dubai, India, and Singapore. And I never want to leave home again. Okay, I kid. Not!

Four weeks is a bloody long time to leave your own place even if you spent the entire time working and meeting family/friends. Even when most people are outrageously hospitable, a big part of you yearns for “home.” And home is where your heart is. Or where your butt is comfortably stationed.:-)

I reached NYC on the morning of our wedding anniversary. When my parents called to wish us, my Mom asked what I was doing. I responded, “Hugging every piece of furniture and gadget in my house.” She laughed aloud and said, “I can understand.” I didn’t step out of our apartment for two whole days. My heart wanted to soak in “home.”

My husband reached NYC a week before I did. He called me, “Never again are we doing a trip for longer than two weeks!” Funny, he isn’t the only one who’s said that to me. Over the years, all of our friends and family members (from our generation) have shared the same emotion. Maybe because my husband and I never really had the opportunity to stay away from home for longer than 12 days, we, perhaps, didn’t understand the vulnerability of those words. Believe me, now we do.

The emotions aren’t necessarily a reflection on the experiences of the trip. At least not in our case. In those four weeks, I spent time with most people from my personal universe. Family members and friends went out of their way to shower generosity. They took care of the minutest of things. And we so love them for that. I have come back with irreplaceable memories and resolute decisions.

Even on a professional level, this trip was more gratifying than any other. Despite all that, my husband and I missed home once the two-week mark approached. Something felt strange.

While in Singapore, I saw my two nieces, Diya and Sana, involved with their parents (My brother and sis-in-law) during their winter break. It was so fulfilling to watch them do activities both with my brother and sister-in-law. Sana cooked us breakfast one morning with the help of my brother. Diya wrote the introductory speech for my reading with a few insights from my brother. My sister-in-law made sure the girls finished their assignment or baked with her etc. My sister-in-law’s sister (Deepa) and brother-in-law (Paul) too live in Singapore. I saw the same equation in their house. While Paul made ice cream for the children, Deepa took them to activity classes.

The experiences in Singapore made me realize that my generation is so much more fortunate than my parents in some respects. Most women from our parents’ generation were told to pack their bags and children every summer for three months. They were asked to spend that time with either set of the grandparents. No one asked the woman what she wanted. Or the man if he was okay with not being around his children for an extended period. Needless to say, nobody once considered the children might miss their father. The ritual was followed. Perhaps, it never occurred to anyone that the grandparents too could travel and this way the entire family could still be together. And no one party had to be without their “home” for a long time.

I asked my mother, “How did you spend those many months away from your own home?” She responded, “We didn’t have a choice.” My mother-in-law shared similar stories with me when I was in Bombay, and I felt bad for her. How can anyone own such a significant amount of your time without asking what you desire?

Thank God in today’s world we have that choice to quite an extent. And maybe that’s the reason relationships these days are based on friendships and not a blob of compulsion shoved down your throat. You don’t have to be related by blood to love someone and vice-versa. And end of the day, you have the warmth of your own home keeping you safe.

More until next time,


Copyright © 12.16.2010

Home is a shelter from storms - all sorts of storms. ~William J. Bennett