Leaves of Life - Lived and Filed Away

An Exercise in Self-Indulgence.


Sleepless Soliloquy
Me
exquisitely_moi
Food Markets, such as the Reading Terminal Market n Philadelphia, make me very happy indeed. This one reminds me of another favoured destination in London, the Borough Market, which is probably why I felt completely happy, even if I was on my own, wandering through the stalls of fresh produce, fresh seafood, butchers, fromageries, cafes and food stalls. I discovered what is now my favourite spice shop of all time - big jars of whole and ground spices from which the shop vendor weighs out the required amounts, racks full of varieties of teas and coffees, dried fruits and all varieties of chocolate in their raw and refined forms.

As I sit back these days, pondering over so many things, I muse on how wasteful the average MBA lifestyle is at this institution where I now study - socialising is so expensive and yet shallow that it almost feels like I am having to buy fleeting doses of friendships. I mull over the arrogance of youth and presumptions of our generation that consumes so relentlessly. I wonder at my own hectic pace of life, which over the year of 2012, led me to de-prioritise the important things in life such as time with loved ones and keeping in touch with old friends. I hope that the planned summer ahead of travel and relaxation teaches me a thing or two about taking a break, a deep breath and a dose of relaxation, lest I collapse in a few years out of sheer exhaustion, stress or burn-out.

I worry about the lack of exercise, the lack of sleep and the bouts of listlessness - I panic that it's nearly the end of the first month of 2013 with nary a significance to note in this past month except the shift in base. I look forward to heading back to London during my spring break, reconnecting with R, meeting classmates and friends and feeling like I belong again. I look at the pile of interesting books I brought along from London and stare at them disinterestedly and then opting for more passive forms of entertainment and media consumption such as online streaming - the stuff I would normally scoff at. I wonder why I do not listen to music at all and whether it would occupy my mind and amuse me more in these days of relative emptiness.

But I do rejoice at the academic experience here, given the variety of courses and subjects I am learning about under some very interesting and experienced faculty members. Another post will be coming up in a few days on the courses I am taking and the learning along the way. Until then, I must find a way to shut this laptop and make my way to bed to remedy the situation of merely 4 hours of sleep last night!

Stream of Consciousness
Me
exquisitely_moi
I am running on about 3 hours of sleep from last night, when I drifted in and out of an uneasy doze, frantically working on some deadlines I had left to the last minute. Today has been a strange day - it's minus 9 degrees out, I came home soon after my morning classes intending to take the much-needed nap and ended up doing this and that, and often finding myself in a patchy reverie, thinking of various disconnected thoughts without following them through to their logical conclusion - something I have been finding myself doing quite a lot in my 2 weeks of living alone. Perhaps, there is merit indeed in blogging and thinking more deeply through those thoughts but for now, while I sip on my wine to ensure I sleep well tonight, here are some random thoughts floating in my head.

I am grateful for family of all sorts - the dreaded long weekend was rescued by a far-flung relative of R who drove over from his place outside Philly to pick me up from and I was welcomed into their lives, never having met them before. I stayed the weekend, got fed, pampered and regaled with many interesting stories of their lives. Now, I truly truly appreciate the beauty of extended Indian families and why such ties are meant to be treasured, although I freely scoffed at them while growing up.

I wonder whether idealism is like virginity - once lost, never to be regained again. I have turned into such a cynic over the past couple of years - perhaps it's the MBA? Or being more action-biased than ever, that forces me to pass judgement on everything and anything indiscriminately and assuming the worst of people and motives? 

I now appreciate for not having what I wished I had. For various boring reasons, I applied only to my MBA in London and not this one at Wharton and felt that I had short-changed myself. Coming here on exchange has been a reassurance that I am indeed a great fit for my own MBA - I might have ended up miserable if I came here? Or maybe I would have turned into an even more cynical person and therefore fitted in very well here :)

I appreciate now that there are different kinds of long-distance relationships even between two people. Back when I did my exchange term away in undergrad, we were young and impetuous and in love but maybe, our feelings were shallower than they are now. Back when R did his MBA in the USA and I lived in London - for two whole years - we were comfortable enough to not be insecure but we were also still single in our identities. This 3rd stint is proving to be the hardest - we are now two halves of a single unit - who knew all this hullabaloo about weddings and marriage actually hange things between people? It was easy enough to think that we remain the same, except that the world sees us differently.

I can now adamantly confirm what I have always known about myself - I am incorrigibly a social animal, even if a cynical one off late. I hate living alone. I derive energy and inspiration from the people around me and the lack of a housemate is causing me to be rather listless and unproductive.

I am convinced now that moving to the USA would be a very tough choice to make, and only sensible if I plan to start up a company here. The feeling of disconnectedness and distance from the rest of the world is overwhelming and the self-obsession and insularity of the country a tad suffocating.

I realise now that it's time for me to finish drinking this California Riesling wine and eating this semi-soft Fontana cheese (and brush my teeth again!) so I get decent sleep before another long day tomorrow.

Good night.

On Solitude
Me
exquisitely_moi
I had nearly forgotten about this personal space which I once used as a repository for my few thoughts. Such is the nature of the lifestyle I chose to adopt over the past couple of years, while enrolled on the MBA. However, I do hope to be more reflective in the upcoming months when I am once again on an exchange program, again in Pennsylvania. For the first time ever in my life, I am living completely on my own - no flatmates, no friends down the dorm corridor or any such thing. Just a regular adult living in her own apartment and having to make plans or phone calls to meet people or have a conversation. I am not quite sure whether this state of being suits with my natural gregarious nature but one might say that this is too early to tell.

I suspect I will have much to say in the coming weeks on this experiment on solitude. I do hope to write more here, even if nobody reads it; for, to formulate one's thoughts into words and write here, is already an outlet for my little creative energy which I am dissipating in the form of negativity otherwise.
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Failure
Me
exquisitely_moi
Those who know me fairly well but not very closely would be surprised how poorly I deal with failure. Probably it's also a reflection of the fact that there are very few instances in which I have made a genuine effort with conviction in my own hard work and then ended up in failure.

I reckon that this realisation should make me feel lucky, rather than bitter, as I feel now about the competition where we represented our school to our best efforts only to say submissions of sub-par quality beat us, because of a poor combination of bad luck and bad planning on behalf of the organisers. Anywho, many updates are needed on this blog before any of this makes sense so I'll be back with more...at some point soon.
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Updates.
Me
exquisitely_moi
Where do I begin? Too much has happened in the past two years. So much of it so very good. I fear that talking about them in details might even jinx them, make it all go away. So let me just drop a few hints and words, will elaborate if and when I feel like it.

Bloomsbury, Launch48, ProtectedCC, The Kerala Standard, Standard Chartered, more money, more time, lots of theatre, lots of entrepreneurship, lots of interesting people, amazing food, fall hopelessly in love with London, TRAVEL A FUCK LOT, be happy (for real, like really), changed attitude towards money, learned to stop feeling guilty about making money, realised FINALLY that I'm not an ultra-leftist or an artist despite the pretence and that I do not need to apologise for being/wanting to be a capitalist, hate hypocrisy & people who use words like 'corporate wage slavery', laugh at the useless jobs people hold just to NOT be a banker/consultant/lawyer and to feel superior about it, house-hunting with Ritwik for our future together, become a home-owner in freakin' LONDON, remain conscious of health, fitness & diet for sustained periods of time & slowly turn into a bit of a fitness freak (best personal transformation yet), politics, voting for general elections in the UK, Ritwik's MBA graduation, surprised when Ritwik proposes, I accept, no more long distance (happy happy happy :D), set up home together, spend ages on handpicking every piece of furniture in the house, agonise over everything, buy, live like civilized human beings, COOK a lot, clean, be more organised, CHUCK stuff, socialize, host dinners, host parties, host awesome kick-ass impromptu gatherings, host overnight and long stay guests at home when they're in town, feel grown up, do my hair up, get massages, indulge in some vanity, manicure, pedicure, dressing up, ironing my hair, looking good and loving it, pass CFA2, near run in with law for silliness, trouble averted, slog for CFA3, take GMAT in 3.5days, apply for b school in 3 days, make it, get voted into the Board of Directors of a charity org, realise what they really mean by 'tough times' and how I can pitch in, do something truly meaningful, realise I'm more a strategy person than on-the-grounds volunteering type but continue to keep up stints of volunteering, wedding preparations, shopping, and even more SHOPPING, TONS of family time, making up for so many years of neglect, realise truly the importance of family (even extended), forced to acknowledge the casual nature of so many of my 'friendships' and learn to value friendships that last test of time and distance, learn with difficulty to say no (not good at it yet), juggle and multitask like never before, learn Spanish, learn to drop people from my life if they are energy-suckers, learn to stop being such a social pushover (not there yet), so many trips to India, spending 2 months in India now, getting to know Ritwik's family more, turning into more of a feminist but more interested in career opportunities and power broking for women in corporate world, QUITTING job in style, LOTS of LOVE in my life, LOTS of Ritwik too but not nearly enough ever, feeling lucky, feeling grateful, trying to not look back on years wasted on stupid ultra-leftist/hippie crap, trying to build up confidence for taking certain leaps of faith, still living like I am going to die at 30 but realising that if I do survive longer than that, I want to be in excellent health and not looking too bad either. Also want to maintain the many friends I do have, even if it seems like gargantuan amounts of effort. For now, just happy to have Ritwik in my life and have a life of great possibilities ahead. Touchwood, nazar na lage.

Details later. Maybe.

Bullshit
Me
exquisitely_moi
I needed to look up some long forgotten details of a university friend I'd lost touch with, and happened to come across some chatlogs from days of yore - some pointless discussion with some self-proclaimed ultra-leftist, angsty, "artsy", "anti-establishmentarian" friend. Of course, I'm being mean here, considering I belonged to this same camp of people who strove so hard to "be different". To wallow in self-pity and be self-destructive, in the name of "poetry" and "being real".

I lost precious years to feeling angry, remaining unhappy at some vague non-entity, because I foolishly believed this would lead me to some truth not revealed to those who stuck to the mainstream. Aka, I was so full of shit.

Looking through some of those incriminating, meandering chats, rehashing inanities and platitudes, interpreting non-events and non-meanings, I am glad I woke up and switched camps when I did, even at the risk of being accused of "selling out". Indeed, qutie a few of my abovementioned friends continue in their own versions of "personal hell".

Perhaps this is what is called growing up. To realise that "being different" or feeling superior alone does not bring about unique perspectives. Authenticity is about being true to oneself and one's own values, even if it means abandoning the "cooler choices" your bohemian friends might fully endorse. It is also about cutting out the bullshit; obfuscation leads to nothing useful.

Languid life
Me
exquisitely_moi
 Somewhere between an Indian summer and an Indian monsoon. The sultry air but moderate temperature of Mumbai.

Two leisurely months in India, a rare luxury. I normally would have packed my bags and headed to South America. Or Africa. Or even back to South-east Asia for a few cheap destinations I am yet to discover. But the wedding is coming up. And I have been exhausted from my fun but hectic months on end in London. I need to learn to relax, slow down and find an inner calm, even against my own resistance.

Marvelling at the joy of hot home-made chai at all odd hours of the day, sleeping in, hitting the gym regularly and working up a real sweat in the non-AC, swivelling floor fanned settings, shopping in India, relishing the breeze from ceiling fans, being driven around while I nurse a book in the back seat. Getting myself checked out any bodily ailments at the Army hospital and their outstanding specialists. Bonding with family and trying to make up for not being in touch enough while I am away.

I expect these two months in India to be restorative to the body and the spirit in times when my fast pace of life in London was starting to affect even me, who is used to a dangerously busy lifestyle. I am training myself to be a little bit lazy and live life at a more languid pace, just for this once.

Bloomsbury
Me
exquisitely_moi
So I figured that if I tried to tackle the monster that is the past 15months of my life in one post, I would be overwhelmed and unsatisfied with my output, because nothing could succinctly capture how tumultous things have been. Therefore, prepare for some isolated fragments of this and that, of here and there. And yet, may I disclaim, before I commence... nothing phenomenal has taken place, it's just that I have re-discovered happiness after trudging through what seemed like an endless gray... and so here are some of the pieces which helped me along the way.

To start from the beginning, if you may...things started looking up for me in London when I moved jobs and went from being underpaid-overworked to somewhat underworked-decently paid and simultaneously moved houses from the dump that Docklands was to Bloomsbury, the very heart of Central London. This decision to locate myself so centrally paid off handsomely for the rest of what came to be one of the best years of my life :) I still ponder upon what might have been if I had gone for the other tempting option - a place off Wardour Street in Soho, yes, SOHO, and I'm yet convinced I made a good choice when I did.

Bloomsbury - home to so many cultural icons in London's history, from Darwin to Dickens to Woolf, the neighbourhood lends its name to the Bloomsbury Publishing Group too. Being a neighbour to the British Museum, the British Library, LSE, UCL, Conway Hall and innumerable other places of interest was the best way for me to irrevocably fall in love with London. In my backyard, I had on offer delectable food, a proud history, an intellectual air of global repute, youthful energy and so many hidden parks to luxuriate in. Located between Russell Square and Kings Cross, I found myself able to walk in and out of home without ever having to worry about public transport options, for even a cab ride from central areas cost peanuts (by London standards, i.e.). THIS was all that I had moved to London for, and no wonder then, that my first year in this city was tinged with some disappointment, seeing as how I located myself so far from historical London.

I have always been deeply affected by the place I situate myself in and by everything that encompasses the nature of that location. Bloomsbury will always be my happy place, for inspiring a positive energy and goading me to expore, dream and extrapolate while putting me in touch with some of the most random and interesting characters in town. And for this reason, I attribute much of the events in my life over the past year and a bit to my location in Bloomsbury. And even so, consider it not a joyless existence now that I have moved away from my beloved Bloomsbury...and as for why, well, that would have to be a another post now, wouldn't it?

Bursting...
Me
exquisitely_moi
..at the seams with all that I want to tell, to write and to show. A lot, seriously, a lot has happened in the past 15months or so, in the most haphazard manner that my life is wont to assume, and yet I do not know where to start. So help me some, and pray tell, how have you been? :)
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Melancholy
Me
exquisitely_moi
This evening, I realised, that in the past couple of years, since graduation onwards actually, so more like three, I have grown up a little too quickly. I am more impatient with people, I don't remember the last time I properly celebrated Christmas/Easter/Holi/Diwali/Halloween/costume party. I get frustrated with myself and others for wasting precious time drinking/partying/having a good time... perhaps it is an over-compensation for my uni days when I just went with the flow all the time, had no tab on where time came and went, drifted in my own bubble of directionlessness. Lately, I have been constantly measuring the time in my life with the number of things I've ticked off the list, 'time is money' is the only mantra I have been living by.

This constant heady rush is a bit scary, looking at it from the outside. But I can't afford to sit around and luxuriate in such pointless melancholy. There are things to be done, stuff to be written, books to be studied thoroughly, people to be met, places to be visited and the world to be conquered.

Yes, some six months after my last post, despite several attempts at describing the giddy joy of my life in the past year, I finally come back here in my rare moment of melancholy.

Good to be back :)

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