I made it!

“Its been a long way, but we’re here.”

– Alan Shepard

A couple of weeks ago I was trying to find something on Youtube and stumbled across a short film called “Tamara”. I had no idea what I was about to watch, but it was the most beautiful and impactful four minutes I have witnessed in a long time.  Without giving the ending away, it is about a little girl, who loved to dance, who has a big dream and one big challenge. Follow the link to find out what happens.

How wonderful would it be to put on some music and dance our fears away? How magnificent would it feel to let go of your inhibitions and dance away?

Dance away

If you have followed my journey so far, or read some of my previous posts such as The Road to Recovery and Flab to Fab with a Dysfunctional Leg,  the one thing I always talk about is being able to get back to my one true love: Dancing.

After months of hesitation, something inside me told me it was time. It was time to test the hard work I had put in over the past couple of years and see where I was. My feet were in agreement. It was almost like they were saying “What took you so long?”

It felt like I never stopped. I was able to twirl, I was able to moonwalk, I was able to DANCE!

After moving to Europe, if you don’t have a car, you walk. You walk up the mountain, you walk down the slope. As a kid I would often used to tell my parents I want to go and live in the Alps like Heidi.  Once I got into Les Roches, Switzerland, I realized how powerful that vision had been. From 40 degrees Celsius , I was thrown into – 15 (three months of consistent snow) Talk about change.

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My biggest fear was not the excessive walking, but the cold. I knew what the cold could do to my knees and I was mentally preparing to be bound by my knee brace.

April 8th, 2018 marked the third year since I got my ACL and Meniscus reconstruction. My amazing mom, who never forgets significant dates was reminding me of the same. The funny thing is, I almost couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it because of how far I have come.

All my fears and inhibitions dissolved since I got to Europe. I am not sure if the clean environment and the weather in Switzerland can be entirely credited for this, but it has contributed in a large way. Contrary to what I was expecting, I can count the number of days that my legs hurt on my fingers. I just came back from my spring break to France, where my friends were kind enough to show me some of the most extraordinary places. Whether it was climbing the Calanques de Marseille or dragging my luggage across the whole of Monte Carlo, I was able to do it all. I will not deny that my knees gave up towards the end of the week, but it was seldom that I remembered something was ever wrong with it.

When I first started this blog, I was writing about constantly facing physical pain and how I overcame it. Over the course of one and a half years since I started the blog, there is so much I have gained. And I would like to share with everyone reading that no matter what, don’t give up! Your day is just around the corner. At some point in our lives, we are all faced with dilemmas, we have all been tempted to give up. But don’t let the latter seduce you. We are all capable of great things, and more often than not we need to be reminded of this. So here’s a reminder, (I would like to resort to my favorite author, since more credibility and all that 😉 )

“Kid, you’ll move mountains!”

-Dr.Seuss

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Bonjour from Bluche!

 “The beginning is always today.”

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

 

When you are in the middle of college applications, it feels like nothing can be as stressful as the tedious process of writing different SOP’s and getting those recommendation letters. But once you click submit is when the actual stress kicks in: The Wait! The wait for the results. You open your email a million times a day to check  if you your inbox is welcoming you with “You have been Accepted!”

Oh, the Anxiety!

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September 4th 2017: (The anxiety comes to an end!) 

You are in!
Accepted into Les Roches, Global Hospitality Education, Switzerland

And then the day comes! You read those beautiful words, and think to yourself ‘I have done it!’ But what now? Once you get accepted into your dream college, it almost feels like from the time of the acceptance till the time you get on campus you have no purpose in life. Well, you do, its called shopping (lots of it), and meeting as many people as you can before you relocate to another continent.

I took the time off to travel within India, meet everyone and eat all the food I wouldn’t be getting in a month’s time. I was lucky enough to spend time with family and friends and start my new journey on a beautiful note.

 

Will I make it?

 

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Goodbyes are always hard….

I have mentioned in my earlier posts that I love the airports, and as weird as it is, I find them very calming. So on 17th Jan I was set to leave for Geneva. The one time the airport was supposed to be my best friend it ended being my enemy. There was utter chaos at the Hyderabad airport that night and it seemed like every single person in the city had chosen that day to travel. I have never seen more frustrated passengers and it took me 3 and a half hours to complete everything and make it just in time for the flight.

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On the bright side however, I made a great friend at the airport! Pranay was traveling to LA and we both had a 9 hour layover at Abu Dhabi.

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Deep conversations over whisky 

I know what you are thinking, 9 hours , gosh! But that was the best part of the whole travel experience, because it was Abu Dhabi, making it very symbolic for me.  And also because we spent 6 hours at the lounge 😀

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The flight from Abu Dhabi to Geneva was peaceful with an empty seat next to me.

When I landed and got in line for the immigration I heard someone call out my name  and my heart skipped a beat. To my relief, it was Pooja, my dear friend from college (who will be featured heavily through the next few posts). Everything became instantly better because I found someone who was soon going to become family. 18th night we were all welcomed by a snowy Bluche! It was dark, slippery and I had luggage to carry  (I got by with help from Manos, Shiv and Bharath)

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Ze Superstars!

 

And thats how in one night, we had already formed a mini family. The situation forces you to meet people and do everything to have each other’s back.

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First meal at Market Place, Les Roches

The next one week was filled with meeting everyone, inductions, getting used to the new food and above all the annoying yet magical winter!

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We all try our best to concentrate on the studying 😉
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Ready for Master’s!

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It’s going to be a month at Bluche, and as overwhelming as its been, its also been equally extraordinary. I must admit, we are trying our best to stop pretending like we are not on a holiday and starting acting like we are here to study. I know the pictures will only tell you otherwise. It is such a blessing to be a part of something like this, and I cannot wait to share more with all of you as this journey progresses.

As far as my tryst with fitness is concerned, the walk from my dorm to campus seems like an exercise routine by itself. But the biggest challenge I am facing is the extreme change in diet (my college can’t seem to stop making excellent desserts)

Sometimes, I share!

However, I am finally figuring a way out and trying to incorporate what I used to do back in India. This is the third time I have moved since I started my fitness journey back in 2016, and every time there is something new I learn, and somehow an improved way to do it. It has taken me a month to figure it out, but today I finally woke up, ate a banana the first thing in the morning and worked out on my brand new yoga mat.

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To everyone who has been following my blog, if you have fallen off the fitness wagon because of a new place or a big change in your life, do not let it pull you down, because there is always a way to get back. You just need to keep at it. Do not be hard on yourself, its ok to take the time to figure it all out.

And before I go, here is a sneak peak into what I wake up to everyday….

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Always got your back!

“Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero!”

-Marc Brown

And have I been lucky to grow up with four of them!

A question that my cousins and I are often asked is “How come you are all so close? We are not this close to our cousins.” This always surprised me, I mean how can you not be? Throughout my life, they have been everything to me.

It took me a while to realize that there are a few reasons behind this:

  1. We lived in a joint family for half a decade
  2. I am the only child
  3. Whatever we do, we want the other to be there to witness it
  4. We developed a strong bond which was inspired by the one shared by our parents and their siblings.

Raksha Bandhan, or simply Rakhi is a Hindu festival, celebrated in many parts of the Indian subcontinent, notably India and Nepal. Raksha bandhan means “bond of protection”. It is observed on the full moon day of the Hindu luni-solar calendar month of Shravana, which typically falls in Gregorian calendar month of August. A day dedicated to celebrate the bond between a brother and sister!

Today, to mark this beautiful festival, I want to share why each of them is and will always make a significant difference in my life.

Vijay (Nickname: Viju) 

Superpower: Making Dreams come true 

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The eldest of the cousins, Vijay is the epitome of hard work. He taught me that no matter how big or small my dream, I have to chase it! And in the process I have to make sure to have the right balance of hard work and passion, and once success finds it way to me, being humble is what will help retain it. We haven’t had the chance to spend a lot of time together, but whatever we have spent has always been the most precious. Vijay is a senior chef and whenever he visits India, my only request to him is to cook me something special (I have been so ignorant of the fact that when he is on a holiday, thats one thing he probably doesn’t want to do). This one time, there were no ingredients in the house that he could use to make me the Pasta he had promised, and it was too late to go out and get some. Luckily, there was fusilli and being a top notch chef, he cooked up some white sauce and added some veggies, and by all his Juggad I had the best Pasta till date! He is the brother everyone deserves! Dear Viju, thank you for giving me so much to look up to!

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Vinay (Nickname: Vinu) 

Superpower: Staying Calm, and just making everything better! 

Where do I even begin? Of all the cousins, we have spent the maximum time together. Vinay, is the most kind and understanding soul you will ever come across. Why do I say this? When he was about 9 and I was 5, we lived 5 Kms apart in Pune. As soon as the weekend would approach I would start throwing tantrums that he has to come and stay over. So he would cycle every single weekend to come play with me. To make it worse I made him play with my Barbie dolls. Till date, Vinay has always been just a call away, he has been my confidant, my dance partner, my travel buddy and just everything a girl could ask for in a brother, and so much more. Dear Vinu, thank you for being my best friend! From hanging on to Monkey Bars to Hanging out at Monkey Bar, we have come such a long way, and I am glad that I got to share my childhood and continue to share Adulting with you.

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Pritish (Nickname: Gullu) 

Superpower: Know everything about every automobile in this world! 

Pritish and I have spent most summer vacations together either in Alibag or when he came to Pune and it would be world war 3 because Vinay and him would team up to pull my leg.

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But we have had some of the greatest memories trying to see who gets their hands on these:

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playing WWE cards and mandatory visits to the beach. The thing about Pritish that baffles us all is his immense knowledge about any damm automobile in the world. He has the ability to recognize which car is approaching from a mile away, and has never once been wrong. You will listen to him with envy, because you will want to be that knowledgable about something.

Just like any brother and sister, we have fought over silly things, only making our bond all the more stronger. Dear Pritish, thank you for teaching me how to puncture tyres, pull pranks and for always leaving the orange walla pepsi (popsicle) for me!

Adarsh (Nickname: Adu) 

Superpower: Do anything and everything with SWAG! 

The youngest one, so by default the naughtiest one, Adu in every sense is my best friend. Sometimes all the wisdom he imparts on me makes me wonder if I am the older one.

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Adu and I have spent a significant amount of our time deciding which movie to watch, where to eat and taking selfies. We have seen the Nanda Devi and Mont Blanc together, and every minute of our journey from the Himalayas to Alps has been one hell of a ride with countless memories. I am allowed to spam him at 3 am asking for some silly relationship advice (boys perspective and all you know) and he will reply sounding like the most qualified person to answer (they always make so much sense!)

 

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The idea of traveling without the other gets us more stressed than anything in life, because hello? making the other person jealous is too mainstream!

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Sir giving me important life advice on the streets of Sydney.
Dear Adu, thank you for putting up with my endless doubts and anxiety about trivial things, for always sharing yummy food, watching crappy movies and of course traveling the world with me!

A special thanks to my mom for capturing all of the above moments, we love you!

 

To my dear brothers, thank you for always having my back, for your unconditional love and affection, for standing by me, come what may and for making my life worthwhile! Cheers to you all! I love you!

Happy Rakhsha Bandhan! 

 

 

One Paper Roast Please….

“Food is memories.”

I wish I could recollect every moment that led me to fall in love with a particular dish. Luckily enough though, I know where the fondness for my top two favorite dishes originated.

  1. Pav Bhajji – In Pune there is a restaurant called Shiv Sagar which is a five minute walk from where we used to live. Celebration meant going to Shiv Sagar and relishing on their world class Pav Bhajji; this was during a much simpler time before westernization took over and our spending power was minimal. Last year, before moving to Abu Dhabi, I made a trip to Pune to eat Pav Bhajji from Shiv Sagar (its safe to say this might have been my only agenda) and even over a decade later, it still tasted the same. Over the years I have realized that no matter who makes the Pav Bhajji, it will never be the same as the one from there. This goes beyond the fact that they make it the best. Our entire family has created memories in that place. We have gone there as a family of 3 or a group of 20, and every single time we have ordered the Pav Bhajji!  No 5 – star hotel can replace the feeling of dining at Shiv Sagar and drowning your taste buds in this delicacy.

Pav Bhajji

2. Dosa 

Year 2005

Rachna: “Mohan Chittappa, inam evolo nerum? (how much more time?)” – anyone who has traveled with me, knows this is my most FAQ. 

Mohan Chittappa: “Don’t worry, I have a surprise for you on the way, you will enjoy it”*

*Of course I do not remember exactly how the conversation went, but it is to give you a better idea of what was about to unfold.

This was when I was traveling with my uncle from Kodaikanal to Coimbatore in an ambassador (the reason I was becoming Hangry) I read somewhere once that ‘be with the person who gives you the same feeling you get when your food arrives in the restaurant.’ But that day, satisfaction took over me the minute we got out of the car and rushed inside what was ‘Salaiyora unavagam’ (roadside eating).  It was actually a tiny hall packed with people enjoying their food (first indicator of it being a great place)

As my uncle and I settled down, we were approached by an elderly who would have easily been in his eighties. I think till date I haven’t seen anyone who is more active, enthusiastic and fast in serving people (second indicator) and I wish today more than anything that I had been thoughtful enough to take his picture. Anyway, since I never lived in Tamil Nadu, I obviously lacked some of the qualities that Tamilians possess – mainly – the slang for some dishes. So my uncle ordered “Paper Roast” for the both of us! I was so excited, I thought some exotic dish was going to turn up, and I was so overwhelmed that I was finally going to make my tummy happy that I did not even bother asking my uncle what it meant. To my disappointment, our food arrived and it was DOSA! Why Dosa? Couldn’t we have Wada? Or Puri ? We were on a holiday for God’s Sake!

I think I felt pretty betrayed, and that probably lasted for a whole of 5 seconds, because as soon as I took the first bite, I think I felt my mouth do a few somersaults in excitement of the flavors that had just entered. And that is the exact moment that I fell in love with Dosas. (I always liked them, but thats when I really started Loving them, so THANK YOU MOHAN CHITTAPPA!) But there was one more crucial moment that I was to leave with. Our bill after 3 dosas and one coffee was Rs.18. THAT.IS.IT.

Great food – check, Lighting Speed – Check , Light on the Pocket – Check

Inspired? – Check! Check! Check! 

Paper-Roast-dosa

Source: Google

I think my body might actually be 70% DOSA. And the fact that Rujuta Diwekar insists you eat Dosa, made me a very, very Happy person. So a major part of my diet consists of eating dosa.

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Duel Tawa = Increased Satisfaction

How is it best served?

With Milgai Podi, Coconut Chutney and Patti(grandma) and Amma(mom) ka Pyaar (love)!

So Dosa, where did you come from?

Even though Dosa is indigenous to South India, its exact origin is unknown. But according to food historia K.T. Achaya, dosa or dosai was already in use in ancient Tamil Nadu around the 1st century AD.

Making a Dosa –

Dosa batter is prepared with a mixture of rice and black grams (udad) that is soaked in water and allowed to ferment overnight. The proportion of rice to lentils is generally 4:1 or 5:1. Water is added to get the desired thickness. (I could just ask my grandmom, but I googled this)

Some of the best dosa recipes to try are Neer Dosa, Pesearattu , Ragi wheat Dosa, Onion Rava dosa, Mysore Masala Dosa or my Grandma’s Dosa! . The best part about dosa is that it can be eaten as breakfast, lunch or dinner and is a great source of carbohydrates yet low in calories!

Source: Google

The Magic Batter
If you are a fan of dosa, you would have tasted the different types, right from paper thin roast to the fluffy oothappam. But did you know that it all comes down to handling the batter? On the first day its usually bland, but when you store it for one more night it attains the properties needed to make a wafer thin dosa, on the third day you will notice it is best for making oothapam! So as the days go by, the dosa can take different forms. However, the pan – rather the “tawa or kalu (stone)” that is used to spread the batter and make the dosa is an essential tool in making the most delicious dosa! And you can truly do justice to your dosa only when you dip it in chutney and sambaar!

Alright, so to everyone who is worried about consuming those extra carbohydrates, Dosa should be your go to meal. And in case I haven’t mentioned earlier – eat what your Nani (grandmom) eats. Just remember to break your meal into portions, enjoy every bite and stop worrying about how many calories you are consuming – focus on the nutrients!

I also want to take the opportunity to talk about the importance of “Feeling Good“.

There is no set standard of how one is supposed to look. Every single one of us is beautiful in our own way and the key is to respect and listen to your body. Your body deserves immense love, so don’t deprive it by constantly being angry with what you see in the mirror. Take the time to tell yourself  “I love you, and I am proud of who you are”. Do not get caught up in  “I need to get that summer body”, No you do not! What you do need to do is feed yourself good wholesome food and start feeling the glow from within which in no time will start reflecting on your face. And you will see that you are carrying the most wonderful aura no matter where you go. (I do stumble too, I often forget these things, but the key is to remind yourself of how important you are; and if not – you can always come back here and I will tell you that you are and will always be incredible, just like a Dosa!)

P.S. I did want to pen down my diet chart here but I got too carried away by Dosas!

Until next time my lovelies!

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When in doubt, Dosa it out!

*If you wish to purchase dosa mix made of Millets, you can order it here.

A letter to my Father

Dearest Appa,

On this day, 52 years ago, you found yourself on a journey alone (when you were just 2), without realizing the chaos you were about to start back at home.

Its interesting; every year I like to hear Patti(grandma) tell me the story of how you ran away, and every single time I get goosebumps which is usually followed by me telling you “I now realize where all the traveling originated.”

Sometimes I think to myself, I wish you could have been there more often to see me grow up.

But today, to celebrate your return home 52 years back, I believe it is time to say “Thank You” and why my thoughts were all wrong.

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It has taken me years to realize that even though you might have enjoyed exploring new places and countries, it was one of the toughest things you had to do in your life; because at the end of the day all you really wanted to do was be home with Amma and me.

Amma often gets credited (and rightly so) for staying at home and looking after me. But little did I understand that the real sacrifice was actually made by you because you had to say goodbye when all you wanted to do was say hello. So thank you!

Remember the day you sat me down and made me listen to ‘Everything I do, I do it for you’ By Bryan Adams and stressed that I pay attention to that line? Thank you for showing me everyday what that means. Thank you for bringing me the world and not the other way round. And above all Thank You for being my everything.

Thank you Appa for all the times you had to give up on something so that I could have the life I do today. Thank you for giving me so much to dream about and supporting me every minute to achieve them.

Thank you for being patient with me when I do not understand a problem in Maths, Thank You for all those Barbie Dolls I did not deserve or require for that matter. Thank you for always putting some sense back into me when I lose track of where I am headed, Thank You for every single second you spend in dreaming with me about my future, Thank you for putting me above everything.

 THANK YOU for being my Appa!

P.S. Thank you for finding your way back home 52 years ago.

Love,

Always and Forever,

Thangam

Happily Desi

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

– Meister Eckhart

Jugaad!”

The first time I heard this word was in 2006, when my father used it while traveling from Delhi to Uttrakhand. Our car had broken down in the middle of nowhere and with a few phone calls to someone in a completely different city, we were able to arrange another car.

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Pictured: Jugaad Technology

Jugaad (Hack) has crept into all our lives, and in India especially, we indulge in Jugaad on a daily basis (from fixing clothes with safety pins to carrying fuel in water bottles), Juggad  is a talent that you are born with if you are Indian.

Which is exactly why it is always good to be back in India! Its the people. No matter where you go, you always have someone to look out for you.

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Once again, it was time for a Goodbye…..

The minute I stepped on the desi land, I was reminded of the hospitality that comes with returning to your country (I know, I know, I wasn’t even gone that long!)

Every decision has a driving force, and one of mine was Mr.Kala Satyanarayana (I will refer to him as uncle from here on). I must have done something right in my past to deserve him as my mentor. He is the most patient, kind and passionate person I have met. He has dedicated his life to helping others grow; he has such a significant impact on anyone who works with him, and all you really want to do is make him proud. I am one of those lucky people who gets to be on the receiving end of his ideals and work ethics and learn something new each day for which I am beyond grateful.

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Seen in picture: Uncle, my closest friend Sushmitha and the lovely Malathi aunty

The first time I met them was in 2006 when we had moved into the same apartments. Sushmitha and I have been thick as thieves since. But little did I know that someday I would be working with her dad. My very first day back in India started with uncle and aunty, because being the extremely benevolent people that they are, they had come to pick me up at the airport, got me to my home sweet home, followed by a feast that aunty had prepared for me! (You can see why my parents were so confident to send me back)

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Change in View

The next day was Independence day, so I had enough time to settle in, unpack and get ready before starting work (which obviously had to be used for catching up with my friends instead)

And just as expected my friends were checking up on me, and ensuring that there was no such thing as “lonely” when living alone.

I am not sure what amount of gratitude will be enough for this next one, but I am going to try to do justice to it.

If F.R.I.E.N.D.S did a version with families, we would fit right into it. This incredible family had moved in about a month before we left for Abu Dhabi, so we hardly got the chance to spend time together; but I think within a week we had made up for it. Preethi, Mohit, Ajji and Mitakshi(my Munchkin) live right across from me.

Preethi is the reason I know what its like to have a sister. She is such a beautiful and positive soul that you can’t even go a day without seeing her! (To this also add: Amazing chef and baker; Goodbye Diet Plans!) Every morning at 8 am Preethi would be at the doorstep with breakfast – because she can never come to terms with why someone would take all the effort to cook only for oneself!  She is my confidant, my partner in crime and my fellow TV show binge watcher, but above all I am so blessed that I have someone who goes out of their way to look out for me, always!

Mohit and Ajji instantly welcomed me into the family. I have honestly attended more of their family events than my own. Ajji would check up on me every couple of hours and she continues to do it even now. The icing on the cake is our little ball of sunshine: Munchkin. I can go on for days about her, but to sum it up – she truly, in every way possible lights up all of our lives.

And just like that within seconds all of them completely made me forget that I was going to be staying alone.

It was time for a big reality check though: Was I going to be able to prepare all of my 6-8 meals everyday and work out and make it on time for work? Well, I sure as hell was about to find out!

This post is dedicated to every single person who has played a role in my journey so far, I thank you for changing my life just by being such a precious part of it. A special thanks to my parents who spend every minute of their day believing in me and doing everything in their capacity to make my dreams come true. 

 

 

Escape to London…

Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions. 

-Peter Hoeg 

In my early teens, I used to watch these shows on the channel Travel and Living, solely because I was so fascinated by the fact that people were getting paid to travel and taste different cuisines, meet new people and check off everything on their bucket list.

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“If traveling were free, you would never see me again.”

Not only were these trips completely paid for , but this is what the hosts made a living out of (Who doesn’t want that?!).

But clearly, when time came, my choice of career was very different and right now I am caught wishing someone would magically stumble upon my talent of being a tour guide (self-claimed, of course) and offer me my own show!

However, coming back to reality, (alternatively choosing to spend my father’s money) I decided to make a trip to UK to visit my cousin, sister-in-law and my nephew instead of joining my parents to India in the month of May.

I know what you are thinking – she is constantly complaining about her leg pain, and now all of a sudden she wants to travel. But I guess a part of me knew that traveling (and cute guys with thick British accents) would be a great medicine. And I promise you – the tickets were very cheap!

So in between the above photographs, was my ride on Qatar Airways, and I am one of those people who gets excited at the idea of trying out new airlines. What I loved about it was the fact that they saw an opportunity in the way the safety instructions are conveyed to the passengers, which is otherwise ignored by all of us, no matter how much effort the air hostess puts in or how good she looks. But the Airline plays a video which takes place on the soccer field with real players and penalty cards! (Way to grab people’s attention!)

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I made it! (I was doubting this at the immigration)

Isn’t it exciting how one minute you are in the scorching heat of UAE and 9 hours later you are in the pleasant (not so gloomy yet) weather of UK. It was like going from an oven to a refrigerator.

My cousin Vijay had come to pick me up and getting from the airport to Croydon (South London) was a journey in itself, changing all those trains however gave me a teaser of the beautiful country.

The next two weeks were absolutely delightful! Vidya, Vijay and Vedant accompanied me for the majority part of my vacation showing me some of the most interesting and unique places in Londonand there were few places that I explored on my own. The latter was where the learning part came in. It is so important to be able to enjoy your own company. I recently read somewhere that ‘The Cure for too much TO DO is Solitude and Silence.‘ This process of self exploring was made easier by my sister-in law who gave me the inch by inch directions along with tube lines and buses that I would have to take.

So the first stop I made alone was traveling within Croydon itself. I went shopping, well window shopping because Dhirams to Pounds was no more comforting than Rupees to Pounds. But I did buy a butterfly shaped Gingerbread for Vedant, because it was going to be my first time picking him up from his Nursery, and I got a heads up that he likes to be received with treats. As soon as I entered, Vedant came running towards me, announcing that his aunt has come to his class (felt like I got to have my filmy moment!) We had a great ride back home, because I was in company of someone who could talk more than me!

And get this, it was also the day that Vedant learned about the life cycle of the butterfly at play school! (The universe was definitely with me!)

The following day, my destination was Wimbledon! There was a tram from Croydon to Wimbledon, making my journey extremely easy, until I got to Wimbledon and couldn’t find the bus stop I needed to board the bus from(there were like 20!) And of course, of all days the weather had chosen that particular day to betray me. It was extremely cold (please do keep in mind I was coming from UAE) and it had started to drizzle, my shoes were giving me a shoe bite, and to top it all, I literally  paced 20 times from the Tram Station to what I thought could possibly be my bus stop. I called Vidya up, and I failed miserably at explaining the crossroads I was stuck in. And this was all after seeking help from an elderly woman and google maps. I know, so much for wanting to be a tour guide! Finally, I saw a guard (who I swear should be in Hollywood) who took less than 10 seconds to guide me and Phew! I was on my way!

I was welcomed by the sweetest and most humorous guard – who asked me if I wanted a picture taken! (Hell yes I did). Now, let me stress on this a little more, in an era of selfies and DSLR’s, no matter how exciting it is, when you get to Wimbledon you need to take a picture of yourself against the Centre Court. Its a Prerequisite to show that you really did visit the place. The task is a little tricky when everyone has come in a group and are busy clicking pictures of their family and friends and you realize that so much solitude isn’t worth it after all!

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I was left with no choice but to ask a Wimbledon Employee to take this. It was also a reminder that I did play Tennis at some point, met Sania Mirza and could have actually made it here someday (One is allowed to dream)

The next few days I tried to get some office work done, I met a couple of friends from school who were living there, and spent a lot of time with family. My cousin is a senior chef in London, so my fitness goals and Rujuta Divekar’s voice went for a toss whenever I wanted to try something new (DO NOT, I repeat do not ever do that). The mind has a great way of playing tricks on you if you let it, so I convinced myself that the cold was making me hungrier and all the walking was balancing it. This is true to an extent, but what I was trying to achieve was a lifestyle change and not something temporary.

I just want to take a moment to talk about Sky Gardens, the view from the top is Mind Blowing and it should definitely be on your list of things to do if you are ever in London (It is free, but requires a reservation)

 

My very last day in London was the highlight. I found Benjamin, I saw the Tower Bridge open and the cherry on top was dining at Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen, thanks to my darling sister-in law.

So why am I mixing my travel diary and fitness journey?

  1. No matter where you are, and how hard it gets, try your best to stick to your goals. Yes there will be temptations, there will be distractions, but it ultimately comes down to what you want out of it and how far you are willing to go to make it happen.
  2. It is a lifestyle change! You deserve to treat yourself, you are allowed to have that delicious new dessert, just remember to earn it.
  3. Fall in love with taking care of yourself!

Throughout the trip everyone was constantly worried that I might encounter a lot of pain. However, it came as a surprise to all because it was very limited, I was able to walk everywhere and do everything I wanted to (not sky diving or Bungee Jumping though). The only question was will it be the same once I was back in Abu Dhabi, and if not, what was causing it.

P.S. If you are ever traveling alone, offer to take pictures of others so that you can have yours taken.

Until next time folks!

 

 

Abu Dhabi, here I come!

“I haven’t been everywhere,

but it is on my list.”

– Susan Sontag

My soul is perpetually consumed by wanderlust. Hence, there is nothing in this world that gets me as excited as new travel plans! As you would have already read in my previous post – my father had taken up a new project in Abu Dhabi, which for me meant one more country ticked off my bucket list. Even though I have been blessed to have already visited a few countries, the aspect of living in a new country was thrilling to me.

But good things don’t happen overnight, so to get to it – you indulge in better things!

During the time when my thatha was serious; in the midst of all that chaos, I got a call from Amazon regarding Artista’s products and If I would be willing to sell them on Amazon! (For Real!) I was slowly starting to live the quote ‘God always opens a New Door’.

So my mom and I spent a lot of time in choosing different categories of cards that we could sell and the products that she could put up on Amazon as well.

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Mother – Daughter out to conquer the World!

So we went to do a photoshoot for our products and it was incredible!  – (I was secretly hoping the photoshoot would involve my pictures too)

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Cards from my Adventure Awaits Collection

Me being me, I thought the cards would sell like hot cakes. But when you are out in the real world, it is essential to realize that everything takes time, and gaining recognition requires a whole lot of hard work and a little bit of luck! The cards got sold gradually, but I was prepared for uncertainties because we were going to move soon.

On December 31st I had a Skype call from my current employer (which was going to once again change my life). And that was my interview for the start up that I am currently working for – Vaagmii. Now you must be wondering – I knew I was going to move then what am I doing taking up a job in India? So, this was my second door opening – I had the option of working from home, and I could do it from Abu Dhabi. Exciting right?

So between December and March (when I actually moved to Abu Dhabi) two of the most significant things happened. Artista went live on Amazon and I got a new job.

Oh but wait a minute, how can I forget  – THE PAIN IN MY LEG(s). Double Trouble.

So my surgical leg would hurt now and then but my left leg had started to feel it too. Remember hop scotch with my left leg? Well, it was bound to have a reaction at some point.

So finally, coming to why I really started this blog. When I visited the doctors I was repeatedly told I had to lose weight. My immediate reaction was always anger which I would suppress with a Smile and “Yes” or some other excuse. But it was too late for that, the damage was done. Was there scope for prevention and betterment? There always is!

As you would have guessed, working out post surgery would be impossible for me post surgery, considering I couldn’t move an inch (All I did was add extra pounds). But like the cliched old saying – where there is a will there is a way!

It was my wake up call. The injury could have probably been prevented if I knew how to  listen to the signs my body was giving me, however I was meant to embark on this journey of self realization and tell you all that nothing is impossible. If you want it, go out there and get it (with the help from some cardio, greens and whatever else you need!)

Now Remember, when you set out on a transformational journey – it is important to surround yourself only and only with positive people who will support you. I have the greatest family and friends who were always my pillar and I have so many people to thank for the role they have played in my life. But then there are three people who I have to say a big thank you to – first is my mom who has put up with my tantrums and break downs over the past two years and always found a way to get me back on track, Aishna(who is my transformation buddy) and finally Siddhant – who in the past two years post my injury has never missed a day of asking me “How is your leg”  and always – KEPT ME GOING.

 

My mom has seen me go through every little change I have gone through, in person, and she would counter  all my negative comments with positive ones. She was my ultimate source of strength and accepted everything I needed to do to achieve my goals with grace and it was almost like she did it with me.

Everyone needs a source of inspiration, something that triggers them to START. I found mine in Aishna. She is my long distance transformation buddy, she motivates me by tiny acts such as a liking my goal of the day on MyfitnessPal. She is the reason I was able to reflect on where I was going wrong and what I needed to do to start looking after myself. She is my go to person when I am stumbling and she is the first to notice even the slightest bit of change in me and I am grateful for her.

Siddhant is the definition of  a gentleman and chivalry. During our exams, he would come every single day from another block just to wish me and ask me how my leg was, and two years later he continues to do it every single day. He always knows the right words to keep me motivated even if I have had a bad day or skipped a work out.

By the time we moved, I had decided not to eat outside food and really focus on my food intake. I failed miserably.

But, I had something big to look forward to. Moving to a new place meant a brand new beginning. It was my chance at doing something extraordinary and different for myself and the way I lived. Abu Dhabi was my shot at all kinds of possibilities, and trust me, it was exactly that.

On March 5th my dad came down to India and all three of us moved to Abu Dhabi.

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To New Beginnings…

Begin, Again

Time you Enjoy Wasting, Was not Wasted. 

– John Lenon 

Rachna Ramesh – BBA Honors Class of 2015 – Christ University, Bangalore.

I was a graduate! It was official. I had always considered myself to be someone who knew where she was headed. But for the first time in my life, I did not know what I was going to do.

We all often find ourselves wishing for a longer break, a longer holiday away from everything; but when this opportunity is really given to you, the monotony of it will break you. Once again, I was confined to my room, but since my physiotherapy was over, and I was able to move around and walk more comfortably, I started catching up with my friends  and often they would come home.

I also had a visit by my cute little sister – Vaishnavi. We went out (Walking Stick, Vaishnavi and me) and relished some good Mexican food. And much to my delight, following her visit was my best friend Prerana who was coming home from the US for the summer and the icing on the cake was when both my cousins – Adarsh and Vinay decided to surprise me!

By  June, I was allowed to travel, so I made trips with my family to Kotagiri and Coorg in June and July respectively.

P.S. If you are looking for a place to Holiday – the Villa on the left is an ideal destination – https://goo.gl/2Mpf3k (Sorry, the marketer in me couldn’t resist) 

Other significant happenings included – my Chaddi Buddy Sushmitha coming home from UK, attending a show by my favorite Stand Up comedian – Biswa Kalyan and Revamping my room!

Being back in Hyderabad meant facing reality. I was ready for it in full swing. My leg was much better, not fully recovered but I could move around a lot more now, so I decided to begin my Job hunt. It was a slow process and I had to be choosy to not take something that required a lot of traveling because of my leg. (And companies are choosy too, of course!) But having specialized in marketing, I had to beat the odds to find something that allowed me to sit at one place.

Finally, in September I got a job in a design automation company as a Marketing Executive.  I had to make cold calls, and generate leads. My time there was short – lived (something I am thankful about) but over the 5 months that I worked there I made three really great friends – Ankita, Naveen and Mani who were the reasons I would even turn up because every morning I would find an excuse to not go. (This wasn’t school, or college – this was a real job that paid – not in Monopoly money).

Now during this period my Thatha (aka my James Bond) unfortunately fell ill. My thatha  was a civil engineer and to me he was the epitome of Will Power and he could literally fix anything and everything! Everyday, after our lunch, he would cut a banana into two – one half for himself and the other for me – this was our thing, I used to be in awe of how much precision he followed even to cut a fruit.

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He would do anything for me – As you can see from the costume I forced him to put on! I miss him, deeply.

Thatha soon had to be admitted, and my entire family flew down and stayed with us for 2 months. These two months were the most life changing experience for every member of our family. My thatha was such an incredible human that even before his final days, he managed to bring us all to one place and helped us realize what “emotional support” every minute of the day can feel like. We lost him on 29th November 2015 and let me tell you my Patti (grandma) is the real Iron Lady of the house.

The year ended on a painful note, but in that too our family found the silver lining. We did not want to look back at it as bittersweet,  but instead wanted to celebrate the most wonderful and lively person in our lives, and that is what we did!

And as December came – dad took up a project in Abu Dhabi and thats where my real journey of transformation began. (Yes, finally I am going to talk about it! Or Maybe….)