The Girl Who Moved Mountains

Chapter 1: The Reconstruction

8th April 2015

“Nurse! Nurse! Can you please help?”

“Nurse! Nurseee!”

The panting and screaming continued. Rachna had been woken up by the patient lying next to her who was crying out in desperation for a few sips of water. Thirty minutes, and still no signs of help!

Rachna had woken up with a startle because of the unbearable voices around her coupled with an excruciating pain in her leg. She couldn’t tell anymore if it was reality or a bad dream that was playing in loop. The last thing she remembered was asking a rather charming doctor “Is this the magic potion that will put me to sleep?” And there she was eight hours later, in an “Observation Ward”, an apparently conducive environment for patients. To Rachna, and presumably all the other patients, it felt like anything but that.

What was Rachna, a girl of 20, fresh of college doing in the observation ward of Apollo Hospital?

Back in High School, Rachna had been quite popular for dancing. With multiple choreographies under her belt, it was rather surprising that she had never performed a number in college. On 12th March 2015, Rachna and her entire class of BBA from the prestigious Christ University, Bangalore had decided to take a class trip to a resort called Mango Mist on the outskirts of the city. Their final adventure together had to be a memorable one! She wanted to be remembered as a great dancer, and thought why not perform for the first and last time for the class. Little did she know that the latter would be true in more than one sense.

Rachna’s mom would often tell her the story of how she started to walk when she was just 8 months. She was so quick, that it almost seemed like she learnt how to dance before she learnt how to walk. 20 years later, Rachna, in the middle of the circle formed by her classmates, was dancing to the hit “Dance Basanthi.” Have you heard the song “Pop goes my Heart!” from Music and Lyrics, that Hugh Grant ensures lingers in your mind for weeks to come? Well, with Rachna, something similar happened, only it wasn’t her heart but her leg. While performing one of her favorite moves, Rachna felt a sudden ‘POP’ in her knee, and collapsed.

In her mind she kept thinking ‘Who could have possibly hit me so hard with a cricket bat?’ ‘Was it a cricket bat or a soccer ball?’ ‘Oh my goodness, I can’t feel my leg!’ ‘Why isn’t anyone apologizing?’


Chapter 2: The Rise of a Badass Unicorn

15th September 2015

“Amma, nothing fits anymore! I don’t even like looking at myself in the mirror! This surgery has made me gain so much weight! Why did I have to be all adventurous!” exclaimed a furious Rachna

“Kannamma, if only you saw yourself the way I do, you will see that you are beautiful inside out!” chimed in her doting mother.

Rachna’s mom was her best friend. Rachna didn’t need a knight in shining armor, because her mom could rescue her from any situation! When Rachna was about five, her mother often read to her stories of Snow White, The Princess and the Frog and Rapunzel. Even after Rachna was able to read on her own, she would still insist that her mother read to her because she would enact it and make the characters come to life. Rapunzel was Rachna’s favourite. Having always been a fan of long hair, the fact that someone could use it to practically do anything always fascinated her. But coming back to the present day, Rachna like Rapunzel was confined to her own tower (her bedroom plus WiFi) because she was recovering from an Anterior Cruciate Ligament and Meniscus Reconstruction. Undergoing rehabilitation, Rachna was unable to walk without the help of a walking aid. And like Stitch said, she had her ‘Ohana’ (family) with her, who went to great ends to be her support system. One day, Rachna decided to watch Tangled, which was the Disney adaptation of Rapunzel and asked her mother to join. It warmed her heart to see how much her mother enjoyed it. She saw her childhood come back to life and wanted to hold on to the dear moment for years to come. But the real reason the movie moved her was Rapunzel’s sheer determination to change her situation.

“No, I won’t stop, for every minute of the rest of my life, I will fight.”

-Rapunzel

Rachna knew that the operation on her leg would mean her battle had just begun, but instead of dwelling on it, Rachna had to fight it. She knew that to make her leg heal faster and to be able to dance again, she first had to lose weight. And thanks to Rapunzel, she had just found a little faith, trust and Pixie Dust.

8th April 2016

1 Year post ACL Reconstruction and 4 months after she embarked on her fitness journey…

‘Don’t lose your mind, lose your weight’ by Rujuta Divekar had been lying in her bookshelf for the longest time. It took two ligament tears and one major surgery for Rachna to go and pick it up. And Thank God she did! She would wake up at 5 am, eat her banana, do that knee friendly work out for two hours and then plan and cook the rest of the meals for the day. She showed consistency not only in her fitness regime but made sure that she was self-driven in all the freelance work she was doing. Every project reflected her passion and zeal to learn new things. And just like Rapunzel, each day, she pushed herself a little harder. Day one was one abdominal crunch, day twenty was fifty. There was nothing that could stop her now because she realized the magic of using your mind to make things happen.


Chapter 3: 20 Pounds and 2 Companies

 

14th October 2017

 Rachna had just been awarded the “Superhost” status on Airbnb for the 5th time in a row. Airbnb (the disruptor of the travel industry) evaluates its hosts on a quarterly basis and provides a five – star rating to those hosts who excel in every aspect of enhancing a guest experience. Rachna was out doing herself each time in order to personalize the stay of every guest who stayed at her property. In June 2016, Rachna converted a villa that they had on the Nilgiris into a Bed and Breakfast and began hosting on Airbnb. To her surprise, the response was quite phenomenal. Being a business student, capitalizing on the opportunity came to her naturally.

Along with being a host, Rachna was doing a full – time job at a start-up based out of Hyderabad, India. During her time there, she was pushed out of her comfort zone to learn coding for websites, tools such as Bootstrap Studio (basically everything she had never heard the name of) and was able to follow her passion of creating content for the application that her team and her were working on. But not a day went when she gave up on her fitness. Nearly two years after she started it, Rachna was still cooking all her meals, working out and then walking to work. In her spare time, she was selling personalized greeting cards on Amazon.in.

To add to all the gratifying opportunities, the most significant one came from teaching children at government schools. Rachna was a volunteer for India Literacy Project and she would teach her beloved and enthusiastic students whatever she knew about art and craft. This made her realize, that Snow White was right, you really are the one who can fill the world with sunshine!

After recovering from her surgery, Rachna had promised herself that each day she would learn something new. And to everyone’s surprise, herself included, Rachna tried to make the best of everything she had, and today not only is she the proud owner of two companies, but she lost 20 pounds with a dysfunctional leg got into one of the top colleges for Hospitality in Switzerland. How did she do it you may ask?

Because “All dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”

-Walt Disney

And that’s how she became the girl who moved mountains (quite literally, from the Nilgiris to the Alps).


About the Author:

Rachna Ramesh currently resides in Bluche, Switzerland where she is pursuing her Master’s in Hospitality from Les Roches, Global Hospitality Education. Besides working on her dissertation, she loves to travel and wishes to do 25 countries before she turns 25. Her favorite past time is updating her fitness blog: https://artista2610blog.wordpress.com/, meeting new people, eating Dosas and finding ways to hunt down Indian Food in Europe. She truly believes that we can change the world one smile at a time. IMG_4684

 

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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Black Collage Father Dad Appreciation Instagram Post

Marketing Do's And Don'ts Infographic

 

 

Guest Post: Yesterday you said Tomorrow

“What you resist, persists.” -Carl Jung

Cibophobia is the fear of food, sufferers may feel anxious when they eat as they may worry that a certain food could poison them. If you aren’t suffering from this then you’re probably alive and you enjoy eating. It’s one of the top three survival essentials yet we harbor a love-hate relationship with food. You reach out to it to comfort yourself on a lonely night and then shit all over it the next day (pun intended) like it was a rebound fling. So you let yourself off the hook for a while, maybe it was a vacation, a stressful period, or you just flung the table across the room one day screaming…

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You ate anything and everything in your way and you made your peace with it because you consoled yourself that this would last a short time and you would start your so-called “diet” again very soon. Day on end you stuff your face comforted that you got this, that this is a phase and you’ll get over it.

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You will be good from tomorrow, from Monday, from Jan 1, from fill-in-the-blank because there’s a will-power meter that refills it’s juice on these holy days. You wake up, today is the tomorrow you were going to be good, you do your daily grind, have a really healthy breakfast. You’re on your way to work busting them hip hop songs like a boss, you’re on a will-power high and you can feel it burning.. YOU’RE ON FIRE!!

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Then you go to work and see a bunch of mouth-watering cupcakes lying on the kitchen counter… a part of you DIES. You’re cursing everyone even the poor old janitor because why o why weren’t these cupcakes out yesterday when you hadn’t started your diet. Oh and thanks to your partner in crime who magically shows up to drain your will power right when you need it the most. “One cupcake never hurt nobody”, yeah thanks Jon Snow. Your brain says no, your heart says stuff your face in them cupcakes coz you deserve a cream facial. Nai, nai, nai, nai, dang you just had 2. Now that you’ve had 2, might as well continue eating crap all day because your diet isn’t perfect anymore and it can’t be so what’s the point.

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So that holy day ‘tomorrow’ flew by and you beat yourself about it but pick yourself up again because hey, there’s another tomorrow, another Monday right around the corner. And it goes on and on. You’re a 1 or a 0, there’s no shades of grey. Also, this isn’t the first time that this has happened, you were here before, right in the same symmetrical beauty of square 1 and your tomorrow came some day and you behaved yourself for a while until this happened again. Been there, done that. Welcome to the vicious cycle of the Game of tomorrows.

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One year later, 20 pounds heavier, you’re lying in bed wondering when this all started. Will I ever be fit? Am I really that weak that I can’t fight food, poor thing doesn’t even have limbs or a mouth (hey, words hurt more). Nobody’s shoveling it down my throat either, it’s all on me. You start to realize that there’s a pattern here, one step forward one hundred steps back. No matter how many articles you read and fad diets you try, you always end up falling off the wagon.

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Don’t even get me started on the self-inflicted wounds, treating yourself badly and blaming yourself for being weak. Round and round we go on this carousel, chasing after our dreams. And then you die. Okay that escalated, but have you ever stopped to wonder if you’ve been trying to read the book upside down. If what you’re after doesn’t have that one narrow-minded solution that you can see has been failing time and again for you. How come some people get there and you don’t, is there a magic weight loss potion that only a few worthy souls can get their hands on? I think not.

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It’s time to try something new. Here’s a 2 week diet that guarantees you a 20 pound weight-loss along with social life-loss, happiness-loss and of course, hair-loss. NO! That ain’t what I’m talking about. What if I told you there’s a way to lose weight, get fit, be happy and enjoy a social life without counting every single calorie and losing your cool. Stay tuned for some mind blowing in the next post, meanwhile.. eat less sugar, you’re sweet already! 😉

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About the Author:

 meAishna Agrawal is my role model. I do not look at celebrity photos for motivation. I just need to look at her and talk to her. Aishna and I first met in High School back in 2010. Over the past two years, Aishna has fought flawlessly against whatever health problems that were thrown at her. There are certain things she is able to explain better than doctors because she has been a victim of disorders no one seems to have answers for. This is the reason she inspires me. There was a time when she would enter the battlefield not knowing which food type would be the new enemy. Never once has she given up. And today she begins to share her story with the world. Believe me, she has tried and tested every diet out there and even invented many of her own. You are going to want to keep listening to her. She is going to crack you up with her humor and encourage you in whatever journey you are about to embark on! I am so excited to be collaborating with her and sharing what fitness means to us and how we are trying to work on the concept for ourselves.

 

 

 

 

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! 

 

 

Everyday I am Hustlin’

“You are only one Work – Out Away from a Good Mood”

Aren’t we all guilty of thinking or feeling the “I am in no mood to workout blues”.

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So how do you stay motivated, or like theAwkwardYeti, how does one remember to workout?

I think it boils down to one thing: What is the one workout you absolutely love?

I would like to trace back to how I went from aversion to working out to being in love with it!

Before I was off to college, a group of friends and I would play Basketball, every single day. The court was like our second home. So even if I did not religiously focus on what I ate, I still had a decent level of fitness.

But college changed everything. Just like the comic , I had forgotten what it was like to have activity in my life – I did occasionally go for a jog in Lal Bagh on my aunt’s insistence, but my standard excuse was – we walk so much in college, the campus is so big!

Through the three years – my diet went for an absolute toss, and exercise out of the window. I even gave up on dancing! The one time I danced in front of my classmates – and bam – ligament tear! I feel like that was my body’s way of punishing me for my ignorance.

Fast forward to 2016 – if there was one work out I genuinely enjoyed it was DANCE! Since I couldn’t risk doing that, I had to find an alternate love.

Now this took a lot of research (endless browsing through Youtube Videos):

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(You can find the links for the workouts at the end of this post)

The great part about doing workout videos is the feeling of working out with someone else, and with fitness trainers like Jessica Smith and Casey Ho – they manage to put you at ease and keep you motivated, you start to believe that they want the best for you! They remind you to do it for well – being and not merely for looks.

How to stick to a work out regime and get past missing it ?

  1. Set a Goal

Whether it is losing weight or maintaining it, or getting that 6 – pack ab – trust me, its not impossible.

2. Your mind will not trick you, until you let it

Only you have the power to convince yourself what is important. No one can do it for you. If you are able to convince yourself you don’t need to work out, why can’t you do the opposite?

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3. Remind yourself why you started in the first place

   I have mentioned this earlier too, have doodles, charts whatever you need and hang        them in your room to keep you going.

4. Be Grateful

     Be grateful that you have a well functioning body. Remind yourself that its the only one you can live in. So treasure it, and look after it.

5. Don’t compromise, you deserve better than what you are settling for:

    As easily as you select your favorite flavor of ice cream or pizza, apply the same to your work out. Pick the one thats best for you, and don’t stop.

And 3 months from now you will thank yourself for how far you have come!

The physical changes you observe will always be a plus, but its the change in your mental health thats the real deal. You will feel energetic throughout the day and mindfulness will surround you like a cloak. You will notice how happy and in control you are.

Try it, and see for yourself!

Links for different channels:

  1. Jessica Smith – https://www.youtube.com/user/jessicasmithtv
  2. Casey Ho – https://www.youtube.com/user/blogilates
  3. Spark People – https://www.youtube.com/user/sparkpeople
  4. Fitness Blender – https://www.youtube.com/user/FitnessBlender

 

 

If it burns , you are getting closer!

Live Well, Laugh Often!

“And will you succeed? Yes you will indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)”

-Dr.Seuss

Before leaving for India, my parents got me the most thoughtful gift ever.

“500 ways to live in the moment” – Even if we all could just do one of them each day, we would start feeling the ripple effect of positivity in our lives.

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First day in office.

I was off to a great start – Kala uncle being my neighbour , suggested we go together and I was looking forward to finally meeting everyone as my communication with all had been restricted to Skype over the past few months.

Also: I packed my Dabba(s)!

 

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Hopefully soon, I will get to a point where you are interested in my recipes! 😉

Isn’t it wonderful how the minute you are surrounded by some great people, good things follow ? I’m thanking my stars because I get to work with such great people everyday!

Whats amazing about working for a start up that’s run by incredible human beings who do everything to push their employees is the room they create for the growth of every individual. When you start working with them, you realize how far passion and hard work can take you.

Venkat sir, who currently resides in the US, believed in me and hired me based on a Skype call. Thanks to him, I rang in the new year (2016) with a job in hand! I had the chance of meeting him quite recently myself, and it’s an honor to work with someone who is the mind behind our application and so extremely down – to – earth.

A lot of us have the chance to witness a significant impact of a person in our lives, and they make you realize what your true potential is even when you are not aware of it yourself. Manmohan sir has come to be this person in my life. Its amazing how throughout his busy day, he always manages to find time to talk to me, listen to my chattering, and makes sure I leave the room only when I have learnt something new (its subtle, but impactful). A special thanks to him for believing in me and pushing me to do better each day!

An important message I want to convey from the above is ‘go out there and find this person.’ A lot of us move away from our homes to build something; to create an identity for ourselves. This journey can often be overwhelming and challenging, hence making it crucial to find people who can influence your life positively. Constantly seek for a mentor – someone who you can confide in and someone whose happiness comes from seeing you grow, someone who encourages and supports you, and most importantly guides you when you stumble.

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Just a gentle reminder…

The weeks that followed were equivalent to my ride on Formula Rossa. The days were going by too fast, and I wasn’t sure my pace of doing things were at par. But its essential to stop, breath and appreciate yourself once in a while. You are doing the best you can and you are only getting better at it.

Each day, I was making room for new learnings. Hyderabad was giving me so much to look forward to, I had a job I loved, I was a host on Airbnb, Artista was picking up its roots again. I even did a little something for my Munchkin’s first birthday! I cooked my own food, attended a wedding in Bangalore in the midst of it all, and really started to “Live in the Moment”

 

Until Of Course……

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. 

 

 

Ferrari World and all that Jazz….

 

“But each time I seemed to be climbing into a roller coaster and finding myself coming through the downhill run with that sort of dazed feeling that we all know.”

-Enzo Ferrari 

My friend Cynthia and I had a number of pacts over the course of two years that we were roommates; our bucket list was so big that the only way to complete it would be living together again or at least in the same city.

Little did we know, that my move to Abu Dhabi would happen within such a short span after our graduation. Having been born and brought up there, she always had immense love for the city and a ton of things she wanted to explore with me; but one particular topped it all for both of us: FERRARI WORLD!

How excited we get when we are making our bucket list! And who wouldn’t want to know whats inside this? (Also, wish I could say I took this picture but, Thank you Google!) 

Now before I get into the details of how Ferrari World is what I consider the ultimate Paradise, let me talk a little more about bucket lists and its importance, especially before my “Big Move”.

My mom and I had moved to Abu Dhabi a month before summer started. Our sightseeing was limited to malls and Corniche. We had a beautiful beach just outside our house, and the thought that “We have more than enough time, we can visit places once summer is over” prevented us from doing all the touristy stuff.

So when it was time for me to move, there were two things I wanted to do (and my leg would allow me to) and that was go on the fastest roller coaster in the world and experience the view from the top of Burj Khalifa(it would be a shame if I didn’t do these!)

This is where I want to stress about Bucket Lists. MAKE THEM! And do everything that is in your capacity to fulfill them! Why? Because this life is meant to be lived, this life was given to you to create memories so you will have a lifetime of fond stories to look back on and even brag about! And as clichéd as it all sounds, I don’t think there is anything more truer and relatable than that. And the more you visualize, the more that list starts to unfold (more on this later).

So finally I became a tourist in UAE. We went to Dubai to stay for a weekend so I could do whatever it is that I wanted, (and to all who have been there, my list was altered according to the needs of my leg, so no matter how appealing Palm Jumeriah and Atlantis sounded, I had to keep my expectations real, also 48 degrees centigrade 😛 )

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You would think being the tallest building in the world, you can spot it from miles away, but it takes time, and every few minutes I kept asking my dad, will it come now?

If you like me, constantly seek magic in everything, well The Dubai Fountain show is just for you! I absolutely loved the view from the 124th floor and the fastest elevator to get to it; however, experiencing the water dancing against the Burj Khalifa and its ability to light up your life within seconds is a true marvel to watch. I feel it goes beyond a spectacle to admire from a distance, it really touches you. It takes every bit of your concentration to switch between the dancing fountain and the laser show on the Burj Khalifa because you do not want to miss a single thing.  It shone Bright, Bright like a Diamond, in all its glory, and I took my time to let it all sink in, to do justice to what I had witnessed, it was overwhelming. And as much as I am a believer of nature and all of God’s gifts, kudos to this man made wonder!

That day, I felt complete. Like everything is this world was just right.

We spent the next day with close family friends who showed us their version of Dubai and I could feel traces of sorrow taking over me.

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, I told him, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”
– Azar Nafisi

I don’t think there is a more fitting quote to describe what I was feeling that day. It was time to say goodbye to Dubai, which meant bidding farewell to UAE was around the corner. As excited as I was to be moving back to India to focus on my career, I had fallen in love with Abu Dhabi. I wanted to cherish every second, I wanted to preserve it all in a box, so that I can live off it for a lifetime. Because no matter how many opportunities I get to go back, it will never be the same.

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And the thought of not waking up to this view every morning, was heart breaking.

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You will feel every single emotion that you possibly can, on this ride.

Finally, after all that planning, Cynthia and I found ourselves at Ferrari World, ogling at every single inch of “extraordinary.” We had been transported into the parallel universe that we often talked about when we had to be studying instead.

Ferrari World was everything we thought it would be, and much much more. Imagine if all you expect is a cookie but instead get a room full of every single dessert from across the world (I am trying my best to not make you feel like I am exaggerating).

We also met this amazing human – Shiva who was in charge of Formula Rossa that day, he is so full of life and pulls pranks on you to see if you can handle the 239km/hr!

We do wish we had better planning though, because we did not get to ride the “Flying Aces” (I did make up for it a few months later). I suggest you get in as early as possible in the morning so that you have sufficient time to cover all the rides (for Go Carting, make an advance booking!)

To anyone who is planning a trip to UAE, please do make sure Ferrari World is on your list (which I am sure it is), and besides trying out all the incredible rides, I would highly recommend the “RED Show” that takes place at the park. Trust me, it will make your time there all the more worthwhile.

I had one more week left in Abu Dhabi, and all I wanted to do was sit in my balcony and enjoy the view, so I could replay it in my head for the rest of my life (besides flooding my phone with its pictures).

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Al Reem Island, you are missed!

Brave Up!

“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.”

-Michelle Obama

England was good to me. Being back in Abu Dhabi meant it was time for a reality check and June and July turned out to be rather significant in evaluating my career and fitness goals.

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The Neighborhood

I was all geared to lose the English Breakfast and Nando’s feast that I had piled up on without any concern about the consequences; and like I said earlier – by all means go on a holiday but it can never be a holiday for healthy living. It is a permanent choice.

I felt like I had to start over, but this time I was more aware, more determined to achieve my goals. The key is to keep challenging yourself. If you can do 10 push-ups today, try 15 in the next couple of days. Remember: you are not competing with anyone but yourself. The entire journey should purely revolve around: YOU!  And since we are on it, make sure the target goes beyond just “Looking good”. We were all born extremely cute and we all grow up to be beautiful, pretty, handsome and all the uplifting adjectives. The focus should be on feeling fit and healthy, because then you feel great from within, and once that happens you automatically love everything about yourself. So I urge you to do things that make you happy and feel good (This wisdom did not come to me instantly, it took a lot of consoling from my parents and friends and understanding myself; so its ok to take that time, but trust me – it will be worth it once you realize the bigger picture of it)

Create your own happiness: 

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Make a vision board – or just anything with quotes that keep you motivated and help stay on track!
Run, Dance, sleep(as the T-shirt reads) or catch up with friends who support your journey

Or…. 

Eat some great wholesome food(I have my doubts about the last one)
 Just take your pick!

The Third Miracle:

I was in line with my goals, I did my work outs, I ate the right kind of food – the leg pain had reduced, but it did have its ways of showing up and when it did, it was the absolute worst. Whenever my leg was exposed to Air Conditioners it would aggravate. If you have ever visited UAE , you would know that the exposure to Sun is so minimal because right from your bathroom to the bus stand everything has centralized air conditioning. So all that artificial cold found its way to trouble my legs(torture would be more appropriate).

UK had been extremely cold too (for my standards) but I could layer up there and so did everyone else. To step out in 50 degrees Celsius, in Abu Dhabi with thermals on was not exactly pleasing. So I resorted to socks and shoes. Even at home, you would find me with leg warmers – all the time! (I wouldn’t deprive my parents of the AC obviously)

Finally, to an extent we had addressed my problem. And my left leg and right leg were competing  with each other to see who can hurt the most, so really there was only so much I could do (or so I thought to myself).

In times like these, its best to divert yourself to better and greater things. When we were in India, we had a vague plan of putting up our property on Airbnb. And  June 2016 saw the light of it. We managed to complete all the requirements of the travel portal and got a heads up to let out our home to travelers!

Being fond of traveling myself, it came as no surprise that getting the opportunity to host people and helping them create memories made me extremely happy.  I was in a way about to live my “tour guide” dream. And when I saw my phone screen flashing with a notification from Airbnb with the very first enquiry, I jumped (out of my bed, since I couldn’t actually jump) and rushed to tell my parents who joined in my burst of excitement.

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            kotagiri

“The Mountains are calling and I must go”

-John Muir

If you are planning a holiday and are looking for a place, I would love to be your host!

Just log on to: https://goo.gl/2Mpf3k (You can also use the following link to earn yourself some travel credit – https://www.airbnb.co.in/c/rachnar13)

My experience of being a host so far has been nothing short of extraordinary. To see a place so familiar through someone else’s eye has its own charm. I am filled with a lot of gratitude above everything, to be able to share this space with fellow travelers and create something that fills their life with magic.

Putting the property on Airbnb has a greater significance. My grandfather was a civil engineer and working on this property was his last project. He has left behind bits of his legacy in every corner of the house, and as a tribute to him, we only think its fair for everyone to get a chance to encounter the marvel that is the Nilgiris.

The Fourth Miracle:

Do you remember how I wanted to find a job once I got to Abu Dhabi? Well, I loved working for my current company so much, that thinking of working anywhere else made no sense to me. I am blessed to be working with some of the top minds in my field and there is just so much to learn each and every single day. Hence, I decided it was time to move back to India.

I will see you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

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!