Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Week Three of Old and New Friends

Week three of my India trip has been a blend of meeting old and new friends! 

This week I decided to spend some more time with my parents and hence kept my outside meetings to a minimum. And yet, I met so may people!

I first met Amruta and her talkative daughter Avanee. Amruta and me were in the same school, but we never really spoke that much then or were close. Recently she gave me pat on the back on my 52 weeks of adventure stint and since then we have been chatting. I also took her advice on my tattoo and she was one of those who assured me that it doesn't pain. Thanks to that, I finally did my first tattoo.

Our talk during our meet was more centred to school days and how I wasted those days doing nothing but studying! How naive we were then and how different today's kids are! Avanee sat super awesome for the entire time, talking about her favorite movies and songs. She is a good kid with a fine taste in cinema, I must say! Here is to new bonds - 

My first pout ever!!!
The next meeting was with a fellow Toastmaster Yogiraj. Again, same school but no talk then. I started following Yogiraj's posts after seeing his TM photos. He is a Competent Communicator today and working on his next level. Can you believe - he has always won the Best Speaker award for all his speeches till now? That is a big feat and I respect him for that! He is even competing at the District level - International Speech Contest. My best wishes with him :)

Our talks mainly revolved around TM, some philosophy with choosing a word for the ear concept, blogging and his life when he is sailing (he is in the merchant navy). Unending stories unravel when one Toastmaster meets another Toastmaster!

All smiles!
The next meet is a special one! Meeting my MBA best buddy Devayani. We were three very close friends - Devayani, Rohini and me. It has been 10 years now and we are still very close. The best part of our friendship is each one of us has been a part of all the ups and downs in each others' life. We may be apart by distance, but we are close via our hearts. It may sound cliched, but it is true. Rohini is in Bangalore and we are waiting for her to fly down to Pune.

Meanwhile I met Devayani who is in Pune. It was my special request to her to get her daughter and oh my god.... Mukta is a junior Devayani with all the incessant talks. When Devayani used to talk with me, Mukta very innocently used to say, "Aai mala pan sang".....subtly hinting ti include her in the talks too. She is adorable and her sweet babble just made my day!

When we were leaving, Devayani asked Mukta to give me a flying kiss. She did that reluctantly. However after going a little ahead, she looked back blew the sweetest of kisses towards me. That image of hers will always be etched on my mind!

Friends Forever!

Working with Stylewhack is always exciting. Ever since I have come to India, we are grabbing every opportunity to sit and strategize. One of the things I am enjoying being here now is the events I get to attend due to Stylewhack. One such event was watching the Marathi play Don't Worry Be Happy and meeting the stupendous duo Spruha Joshi and Umesh Kamat. I loved sitting in the first row and watching this enthralling play. Tune in to Stylewhack to get a review of this play. 

The awesome duo!
I also met Shradha, my MBA friend. Again, we weren't close then but we bonded over Game of Thrones and have been having some common interests. I hogged on Pav Bhaji with her and in that food coma forgot to click a picture. It was nice chatting with her on all topics right from who is doing what after MBA. We spoke about our favorite books and my writing. It was so nice to catch up with her after 10 years!

This week was full of stories! I am in Mumbai now with Shweta and it is going to be one fundoo trip. We already have stories of our day 1 here. Wait for next week for some Mumbai diaries!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Week Two of Memory Collection

I am in second week of collecting memories. The week one was exhilarating! And week two had its own charm. Let's see what all I did this week.

The week started with meeting an old friend. 10 years ago we started our MBA together and here we are now, 2 very different people than what we were 10 years ago. Siddharth at that time was a completely gutsy fellow, not afraid to talk his mind and also to give a piece of his mind to people who needed it ;)
I met him this week and he is a transformed man. A doting father and an extremely mature human being. His rudeness has vanished and what I saw was a down to earth, calm and mature Siddharth. I hated his audacity in college, but today I think his audacity has rubbed off on me and I would not care a damn for anyone who is here to bring me down. I will not sit quiet if injustice is happening in front of me. I will not just sit and brood that things are this way and cannot be changed. I am a gutsy woman today!

This one is for Sid and his audacity :)

To our friendship!
I am waiting for our entire MBA gang to get together now, which will happen sometime in April when Rohini comes from Bangalore and we catch up.

In the course of my writing, I meet many new people sometimes via the internet and sometimes in person. Another such connection which I made through my friend Rohini is the super friendly couple Priyanka and Abhijeet. I have been doing some small writing assignments for Abhijeet and thought of meeting them during my current trip. The highlight of this meet was super yummy butter chicken and manchow soup! Ha! This happens when you come to India after 2 years, food does become a highlight of meetings! ;)

This was before the food came! Post food we were numb with foodgasm :)
I was meeting them for the first time. But I did not have the anxiety of being on my best behaviour or thinking how should I be in front of them. I think I have come a long way today where I do not have to pretend to impress anyone or be super conscious about what others perceive about me. To be frank, Abhijeet and Priyanka made me so comfortable that I forgot that I am meeting them for the first time :)

Having said that - I had an experience where I thought there were 11 judging pair of eyes on me and to be really honest, I was a little scared. Yes, this was the kitty party of my MIL's friends which took place at our home. I carried watermelon juice in a tray and served everyone, trying to gauge if those eyes out there were judging me or assessing me (I never had any groom seeing sessions, so you can understand how this felt!). But then I realized, these women are here just to get together and laugh their heart out with their friends. Slowly my anxiety dissipated and I was my normal self chatting with them.

I had baked a cake for one of the Aunty's birthday celebration. It was my first attempt at baking in a pressure cooker and I wasn't sure how good the cake will turn out. But everyone around liked the cake and that made me really happy. 

I baked that! :)
 What can I say of this group which filled the house with laughter and noise. Coming from US, it was a little difficult for me to digest so much of noise but I liked the energy and camaraderie flowing in the room. These women were pulling each other's legs, making fun of each other and the most important fact of all - 'enjoying life'. All of it made me believe - 'Age is just a number'. When they left, they left a part of their energy back with me.

The noisy gang!
So this was my super fun week two. I am at my mom's place now hogging on all kinds of fish. There can be no home as cozy as your mom's for sure. 

My week three has some exciting plans. Keep an eye for some good times coming next week :)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Coming Home :)

You know you will be home soon when you search the entire internet for a flight ticket which makes you reach Mumbai Airport at 2 pm, so that you can commute alone to Pune and yet your mom-dad, your in laws and your sister and brother in law ask till the very last moment if they can come to pick you up at the Mumbai airport! 'Welcome Home' rings in my mind :)

Finally we got our visa extended and booked our tickets to home just a day after the visa approval! Beat that! We were so desperate to be home! It has been a week now that I am home and I have done so much already :)

What hasn't changed is the overflowing love of my family around me. The day I landed, my in laws had a cake cutting for me. My sister and brother in law came in to wake me up from my sleep. My pug Bosky didn't leave me alone even for a minute. She kept on wagging her tail and was beside me all the time.

She doesn't leave me at all!!

I recently wrote a piece on leaving the nest syndrome where I mentioned how much I miss my home and how the place where I stay right now can never be my nest. And when I am home now, I realize how much I have missed being here amidst my near and dear ones. My spot on the sofa is untouched, my books are still there neatly stacked in the cupboard and 'my people' are here.

In a week I did so many things and met so many people. Apart from being with family, I finally met my boss with whom I have been talking almost everyday! We gave a tight hug for all the pending hugs till date and it never seemed as if we are meeting for the first time. We sat in a chic cafe on one of the happening streets in Pune and went on and on and on. It was such a constructive meet with some strategy discussion along with some completely off topic bad ass talk! A perfect blend of fun and work. It has been a week now and we talk like 2-3 times a day presently making my mom doubt my noble intentions ;)

The smiles say it all!

I also met my friends with whom I spent most of my childhood as we stayed in the same apartments long long back. With Facebook, it becomes so easy to connect with long lost friends and the same happened with us. Another of my friend was also visiting Pune from US and we thought we should catch up. We met after 16 entire years and on the surface it seemed so much had changed but deep within all of us still are those kids which we were long long back. It was great to hear to the respective love stories, marriage gossips and of course asking about whereabouts of the rest of the gang. I still cannot believe that we met after 16 years!!!

16 years and still the same!

I also had my first taste of fame as I attended a movie premiere of a regional movie for which Stylewhack was a media partner. It was a BIG day for us to see our logo on the big screen. I had a selfie rampage and kept on thinking, life has changed so much since the last time I visited from US. Here I am today, talking strategy, a part of a promising start up, big dreams in eyes and of course meeting new people and widening my horizons. Isn't this what life is all about? Dreaming and trying our level best to make the dreams come true?

Selfie, it is!
My post cannot be complete without the mention of food! Ha! Food has been exemplary. Do I have to even mention that? I have already had the famous vada pav and I have been craving for Indo Chinese which I hogged on last week. It is so good not to worry about what to cook for the day or tomorrow or day after or for 2 months now :P Making my best to eat everything on our 'to eat' list (we also have a 'to buy' and 'to do' list in India).

Scrumptious Vada pav

My days are numbered here and I am trying my level best to cramp up as many activities and meetings as possible in this duration. I am waiting for Sujoy now. It has been 4 years now that we haven't stayed together in Pune at a stretch of more than 2 weeks. I am excited to be with family along with him. Till then I am continuing my eating and meeting spree sans him, learning new things and exploring new places :)

All said and done, my favorite moment of this week is my sister's birthday celebrations where we took some rare pictures with the family.

And this is my most cherished moment -

I am here making each moment count and trying to gather every single memory and make it immortal in my mind and heart! :)

Stay tuned for my upcoming India adventures :)