Mantri to Manhattan

Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Claus. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don’t, who will?
– Jon Bon Jovi 

I remember the first time I watched Bon Jovi’s song ‘It’s my life’ on the television. I was about 6 years old, and I had no clue about what the lyrics meant or why the guy was shouting out random words. But what I did know was there was a guy who wanted to be some place that really mattered to him, and come what may he was going to get there.  I wanted to be that guy; running, climbing over fences, being bold enough to face ten dogs, crossing every hurdle that came my way to reach a destination so worthwhile (Reminder: this post is about dreams, so do not question my ability to over imagine at six)

Here’s a link to reminisce the beauty that is Bon Jovi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vx2u5uUu3DE

When the song came out, we used to live in a place called Mantri Housing in Pune, India. This house has quite a lot of significance, but here are the top three reasons:

  1. It was the first house that was purchased by my father and his brother
  2. My mother was married into this house
  3. I was born here

Living as a joint family, this home thrived on unconditional love, abundance of laughter, and the freedom to dream big! 

No matter how eccentric or impossible my dreams sounded, my parents would react with the most enthusiastic ‘Can do it!’ attitude. Whether it was getting the barbie doll from Crossword or landing on the moon, my parents never differentiated between which of the two could be achieved, because they both had the same probability. If it weren’t for their immense belief in me and my dreams, I wouldn’t be here typing about how I achieved my biggest one yet.

Let’s fast forward to 2014, when I was pursuing a Bachelor’s in Bangalore. My friends and I used to live in a hostel in an area called Kormangala.  The balcony of our room had quite the view of the city, but also the tip of a building called UB City which is a famous spot for indulging in luxury.

UB City

I am not sure if you see the very acute resemblance that I do, but every time I would see UB City from the comfort of my balcony, I would tell myself that one day, I will be looking at the Empire State.  And ladies and gentlemen, the very same year, this happened:

I was right there, next to this beautiful beast that deserves all the attention that it gets on a daily basis. A lot of people had a role to play in making this possible. My parents, my best friend Sneha and her family, and the Immigration officer. I was here, in the City of Dreams, seeing every rom com come to life, walking in between hustlers and dreamers. I had gotten a taste of New York. It was no more a city for me, it was an emotion. Having explored the city with two of my best friends Sneha and Prerana, my love for the city grew by the minute. If there was one thing I knew by the end of the trip, it was that I would come back for this city, and I would come back to live and not just stay, because the latter would never be enough.

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Cheers to the Dreamers, Doer’s and Believers. This world is yours to conquer!

After I returned to India, anywhere I lived would always have a piece of New York in it. I would place it in such a way that it would be the first thing I saw when I woke up. Everyone who knows me, knew about my unhealthy obsession with the city. So in 2017, when it was time to apply to colleges for my masters, NYU was on the top of my list. I had believed in it so strongly, for so long that I just knew there was nothing that could stop me.

Except: NYU never processing my application because I had only 15 years of education as opposed to the 16 that I needed. I had been so confident about getting in, that I never realized what the alternative would feel like. There was a lot more to this story, but to give you an idea, it felt like I would never be able to fulfill the dream. As always, my mom came into my room with all her wisdom and said, “you just wait and watch, you won’t be studying there, but you will work there.” I brushed it off thinking ‘Mom, not with the current political situations.’

In November 2018, I had the opportunity to interview with a Boutique Hotel in New York. My close friend from Les Roches had been working there for 6 months already. She is someone that gave me so much to look up to, and the thought of getting a chance to work with her meant a bonus to my big dream!

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Héléne was my Pin Buddy at Les Roches (kind of like a mentor) and she has stuck by it ever since she handed me down her pin, guiding me and protecting me!

When I finally interviewed at the Roger Smith Hotel, Helene was more thrilled than I was. She was constantly giving me updates about what was happening and whether I stood a chance, she also played a crucial role in moving my application ahead. Her energy was a major boost for me and I started to believe in my dream again. New York, would it really be possible? So soon? Manifestation works?

But I didn’t want to get too excited about in the fear of jinxing it. But then on December 1st, I was with my Les Roches friends devouring some fondue, when I got the email saying I had been accepted as a Management Trainee at the Roger Smith, the little New York Hotel!

What? 

Was this real? 

Till the time I sat on the fight to New York, I refused to believe that it was truly happening. That I was going to be fulfilling my biggest dream.

22nd February 2019, I was welcomed by my new family, full of warmth and happiness (and maybe some tequila) in New York City.

As a group of seven trainees from different parts of the world, we have the opportunity of training at the Roger Smith Hotel for a year, where we learn from industry experts while rotating across different departments to understand the nuances of working in a hotel.

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Mantri to Manhattan, First day of School V. First day of Work. Bag Upgrades, Consistent with the shoes.

Here’s to dreaming, believing and doing!

(And listening to your mom!)

 

 

 

 

 

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2018: The Year of Endless Possibilities

“Find out who you are, and do it on purpose”

– Dolly Parton

For some of you reading this, you have already entered 2019. With less than 10 hours to go, from the part of the world that I am writing from, I find it hard to pen down words to bid goodbye to this phenomenal year.

And so before I say goodbye, I thought why not make the best of it, one last time?

2018 has been that additional best friend that I did not know I needed. I have so much to share about this best friend that I do not know where or how to begin. But let me start with the highlights of 2018!

Set out to get a Master’s 

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 A decision that changed my life, helped me grow each day, made me understand myself, and also taught me that a year can make a world of a difference.

Found a family away from home

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These phenomenal people! PLEASE TAKE A BOW!

Each one of them, in their own unique way taught me things about life that I will be lucky to hold on to!

EXPLORED THE WORLD (Thanks for the credit card, Dad!)

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8 Countries. 3 Continents. 20 + Flights. 50 + trains. A few Buses. Endless Ubers

 

Explored the world of Dating 

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Only to realize…

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(Found a better way to say, ‘I am still single!’)

 

Went home to my other family

 

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I tried to do my dissertation….

 

SWISS CHALET LIFE

 

 

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Taking a moment to appreciate that we could take a drone shot)

Made Mom and Dad Proud (Valedictorian + Academic Topper! WHAT?!)

 

Growing up, my dad would always ask me, “So who topped?” I would have a list of answers prepared before hand, “I think she has a better tutor”, “You know I was sick during that exam, so my percentage went down”, “But dad, its math!” My father never asked me why I did not top, I always felt the reason to justify why someone else did. Considering this is probably the last time I will study, I wasn’t aware that this time I wouldn’t have to prepare an answer.

And like Dolly Parton said, I have been blessed to have a year filled with self discovery. A year of forming new relations to last a lifetime. The opportunity to travel the world and meet new people, explore new cultures. A chance to study in a different country and realize my true self. It has been a year of endless possibilities.

My quirky highlights of the year:

  1. Having Vada Pav with my uncle during my transit from Mumbai to Geneva
  2. Spending 9 hours in the lounge at Abu Dhabi
  3. Making drone movies
  4. Completing a 23,000 word dissertation
  5. Going to Winter Wonderland in London
  6. Being Broke in Monaco
  7. Having Dosa in Paris
  8. Trying every possible flavor of Fondue
  9. Making snow angels (I lasted for 5 seconds)
  10. Trying to walk on ice without skidding
  11. Falling asleep during the first half of the movie Venom (Thank you $20 recliner seats!)
  12. Witnessed a Live Game of Thrones Concert in Chicago
  13. Stayed at Grand Kempinski, Geneva because my flight got cancelled (without having to pay a penny)
  14. Went from Switzerland to France in 33 Minutes.

2018: What I learnt:

  1. If you are taking a train in Europe, don’t just check the train number and platform, but also which compartment you need to be on!
  2. Les Roches: you were everything I wanted and so much more (despite the fact that you are situated on another planet)
  3. Switzerland is more expensive than you anticipate (travelers, please note)
  4. There is abundance of unconditional love, laughter and support to go around
  5. You are so much more than you give yourself credit for!
  6. Do what makes your heart swell!
  7. There is no greater satisfaction than seeing your parents smile endlessly because of you.
  8. Fondue is the food coma you need in your life.
  9. You can never have too much Hot Wine
  10. Don’t be afraid to try new things! 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– Mark Twain

HAPPY 2019 TO EVERYONE! YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY LOVELY, PHENOMENAL AND EXTRAORDINARY! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Flab to Fab with a Dysfunctional Leg

“I don’t know what lies ahead, but I want to keep going forever…”
Fuyumi Soryo

A few days ago, I was watching Denzel Washington’s Acceptance Speech at the NAACP Image Awards 2017. It was so beautifully put, I am sure he managed to connect with everyone in the room and millions across the globe: “So never give up. Without commitment, you’ll never start, or more importantly, without consistency, you’ll never finish………………Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship”

It is so important to maintain consistency when trying to achieve a goal. I remember, before moving to Abu Dhabi, I had multiple failed attempts on “eating right”. I would occasionally have Green Tea instead of Coffee and imagine the former doing its magic and detoxifying my body, and continue to eat what I wanted, completely ignoring the fact that diet accounts for 80% of the goal I was trying to achieve (I did not know this until much later).

Weight loss like any other goal requires immense perseverance, determination and CONSISTENCY. Why am I stressing on this so many times?

Because:

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January 2016                             January 2017

So how did I go from that to that?

No, it was not easy. But was it worth it? Every bit of it.

There are some extremely crucial points I would like to bring out here:

  1. Begin somewhere already! 

        It does not matter if you can’t do a 100 push ups on day one. What matters is that you make a decision to change your life. You make the decision to start leading a healthier life, no matter how small the change, start doing it. And if that means you are going to start going to bed early and wake up early, then be it. Whats beautiful about these small changes is that they are all interconnected. When you start sleeping early, you will automatically start eating your dinner early (recommended: two hours before you sleep), and as soon as you wake up: EAT! Have that banana or that slurrrpyyyy Mango! When you consistently do this for a week, your body will start feeling good, and to keep that alive, you will want to eat only good food and look after yourself. Try it! If it doesn’t work – you can always drop me a message!

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2. Celebrate the little things

   You woke up at 6 am everyday for a week and went for a walk? Pat yourself on the back! When I first started on my journey, I made a list of things that I would reward myself with.

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We as humans tend to perform better the minute there is some reward attached to it. And that is exactly what I did! I celebrated each milestone because I knew I worked for it. (Feel free to put in anything, try and avoid writing Brownie or Pizza 😛 )

3. Maintain a Journal! 

  This is absolutely essential. At the end of everyday, write down what/how much you ate, how many hours of sleep you got, your work out, basically everything that affects your health. I started using the app My Fitness Pal  which is a great way to track your food intake (please focus on the nutrients and not the calories) and Under Armour for my work outs. The two applications can be synced, and this helps calculate your calorie deficit. As much as I love using both of them, nothing gives me the satisfaction of actually writing these things down.

Besides writing down all the right things you did, its important to note down your deviations, that way you will prevent yourself from doing it again. Its ok to fall off the grid at times, but like I said, consistency is what will help you get there.

4. There will be Good days, there will be Great days and sometimes there will be “I don’t want to do any of this” days. 

Lets focus on the last one, we all are human beings and not machines. Its ok to take the day off when you are not feeling too well. Its ok to not exert yourself when you are genuinely tired. Its ok to eat that ice cream occasionally. But this is not your ticket to discontinue the journey of healthy living, it just means you needed a short break! (Like the one’s we had in school – your recess and then lunch). Think of it as your recess, the minute you think it is your lunch break, you are entering the danger zone.

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5. Set yourself some realistic goals. 

When you are starting out, don’t be overly ambitious. Give yourself and more importantly your body the time to accept change. Change is hard to deal with. So take it one step at a time. Always start with baby steps and the bigger picture will follow.

Make Charts! Put up motivational quotes in your room! Constantly visualize achieving those goals!

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6. This is a lifestyle change and not a short – term goal

“I lost 20 pounds! I can go back to eating whatever I want!”

No, that would be a crime on your body. I honestly have not reached my goal weight yet, but maintaining what I have already lost is a challenge in itself. Do not forget that this is a choice you are making for a lifetime, a choice that guarantees to keep you healthy and happy! And who doesn’t want to feel good about themselves?

7. Do your homework

Before you start on this journey, consult people. Get a nutritionist, see what your body requires. Get a physical check up too if needed so you know the activities you take upon do not cause damage. Do not take this lightly, the kind of work outs I do are extremely restricted because of my leg. So if you need to do some light exercises rather than HIIT, then do that.

Here are some links for seated cardio workouts:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xC9khisFPA&t=477s&index=1&list=PLr1nGBfj5ne5EFFroGllXMbNZV6Dr2AUs
  2. https://youtu.be/videoseries
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAeZZbpi8Ow&list=PLr1nGBfj5ne5EFFroGllXMbNZV6Dr2AUs&index=12
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AuLqYh4irI&index=8&list=PLr1nGBfj5ne5EFFroGllXMbNZV6Dr2AUs

I have also been following Casey Ho  who started Blogilates  and I absolutely love her work outs! (Mainly for strengthening)

8. And my last and favorite one: Surround yourself with people who support you! 

 I think since the inception of my blog, I have constantly stressed on this. The reason is very obvious, the minute you have people who admire and appreciate what you are doing, you are bound to keep at it. They will understand what you are doing and how important it is to you, so they will only help you. And if they are also on a fitness journey already or plan to start with you, then double bonanza!!!

I often get annoyed that I can’t do those intense work outs, or dance my heart out. But the key is to make the best of what you have with you. We can always find excuses to not do something, but it takes a lot to find reasons and motivation to keep at something.

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So my Dear Warrior, just keep swimming, because great things are coming your way!