F and G are for Friendship and Gratitude

While I wouldn’t call myself an out-and-out extrovert, I do like having good company. I like being around folks who are easy-going and unproblematic.

Perhaps one of the aspects of moving out that flooded me with dread was the scenario of not being able to find a reliable circle. At the time, pandemics did not feature in my list of worst-case scenarios. Yet, I opted for an expensive studio instead of a shared flat as the idea of living with a stranger in a new country made me anxious. Little did I know that I was about to meet a motley bunch of strangers at my university accommodation – who like me were in the process of figuring out their new lives – would become my friends for keeps.

The universe has been very kind to me. I keep repeating myself because these scenarios – getting settled fairly soon in a new city, having good coworkers and finding a lovely friend and flatmate – were mostly left to fate. I’d like to think of it as a combination of my privilege, good fortune, as well as the vibes I send out to the universe, sub-consciously. Back in 2019, these were wishful thoughts.

Despite the good stuff that has come my way throughout my life, there has always been a niggling thought – a faint voice – trying to convince me that I am, perhaps, not deserving of these things. I tend to downplay my struggles – three years of having been in limbo, in a job that didn’t completely satisfy me whilst dealing with poor mental health stemming from extreme indecisiveness about my future. I have been afraid of happiness even though I spent a long time chasing it.

Gratitude has become a fixture in my life ever since I moved to Auckland. To have someone who reminds me to carry my house-keys, phone and wallet before leaving the house maybe be a small but a meaningful gesture for which I am immensely thankful. Home isn’t just a place but a potpourri of such gestures that convey intimacy, comfort, warmth and ease.

I assumed I was destined to stay in my shoe-box studio for the entirety of my program until I met H. We have solaced each other since the beginning of our friendship, weathered homesickness and several lockdowns together; there were no doubts regarding sharing a home together.

As much as I wanted to limit interactions with my coworkers to our workspace, it turned out that we did make great buddies. I have learnt a new hobby – bouldering! – courtesy my awesome friend/coach/coworker A. I have had another lovely coworker-now-friend, stitch a Halloween costume for me from scratch. We’ve hung out together, confided in and comforted each other during rough times. I couldn’t have asked for more. I feel overwhelmed at times.

I tell myself that I deserve the good stuff. Cliched as it sounds, everything comes in waves – the great and the ugly – that you gotta ride.

E is for Exercise

It has taken me a while to accept this – I can be a sloth if the situation permits me.

My slothful tendencies were exacerbated by easy accessibility to public utilities and amenities in Pune. The advent of online food takeaway services – aka Swiggy and Zomato – led to my nearly ruinous entanglement with fast food. Running errands were a no-biggie. Out of tomatoes? Saunter to the sabzi mandi down the road and haggle with the vendor. Out of painkillers to treat a migraine? Run to the chemist next-door. Got a craving for Lays Magic Masala chips? Walk to the grocery store behind my apartment complex. But here’s the thing – I barely walked or ran. Good heavens no, I picked up my phone and ordered everything home. You see, unlike a white country, labour is hella inexpensive in India and hence the concept of delivery charges doesn’t exist unless you order takeaways. The charges for the latter are minimal and would hardly pinch your pocket.

So when I moved to Auckland, I wistfully realized that I had to abandon my Swiggy (substituted by Uber-Eats here) tendencies and rely on my culinary skills – that the pandemic (unsurprisingly) helped me hone – to assuage my food cravings. These days ordering takeaways is reserved for PMS bouts, period cramps, once-in-a-while forgetfulness to pack lunch, and an occasional craving that does nonetheless arise.

Not only takeaways but possibly most errands, especially grocery-shopping necessitate walking. Public transport in Auckland, unlike home, is neither convenient nor economical. Back home I would religiously choose Uber and Ola cabs over my own vehicle to commute to work, win several discounts and coupons in return which further fueled my indolence. Notwithstanding the lack of a specific exercise routine, physical activity is inescapable in a country like New Zealand. Run out of milk? Walk to the nearest convenience store. Run out of medicines? Walk to the nearest chemist shop. Run out of vegetables? Walk to Countdown, right up to the vegetable aisle. Craving a burger? Walk to your nearest Macca for a takeaway. In fact, I walk to the university as well. The undulating roads and streets of Auckland closely compete with inclined treadmills and stair-climbers in a fancy gym. Besides, walking makes me rely less on my inconsistent but impulsive ascetic tendency to jump onto workout challenges.

Believe it or not, this city has instilled the joy of walking in me. Headphones check. Playlist check. And I walk, and walk and walk.

D is for discovering a new city

Whilst I spent the first eight years of my life in Bombay, I spent the rest of it – until the age of twenty-six – in Pune. The latter saw me awkwardly transition from a preteen to an under-confident teenager but subsequently step out of it gracefully into my early-twenties. Before Auckland, it is safe to say that I had only known one city to a reasonable extent; reasonable since I only began exploring the city interiors as a graduate student. I am ashamed to confess that I would still require Google Maps to navigate through significant parts of Pune.

My therapist assured me that over time my homesickness would be replaced by appreciation towards Auckland, undoubtedly so as one of my reasons for moving here was the charm it held over me even when I was miles away in my room in Pune filling out doctoral application forms. And boy, she was right.

“this is how I’ll remember the end of my first week alone in a city that is slowly growing on me – the sea, a lovely evening breeze, a smile, my John Mayer tee, Shamoon Ismail and a playlist that seemed to have been made for this place, not to mention meeting a lovely stranger who offered to click my pictures. I feel good!

an excerpt from my caption on Instagram

In my first post, I fleetingly mentioned some of my favourite haunts such as the park with the friendly trees aka Cornwall Park and the Ferry Building. For today’s post, I’ll let my pictures do the talking.

These are a few pictures from an astronomical collection that continues to grow with each passing day.

Bombay watched me grow into a carefree child doted on by her grandparents.

Pune witnessed me brave adolescence – my first bout of period cramps, my first heartbreak, my first panic attack, the grief of losing my grandparents, the heartache associated with losing your loved ones to distance or/and irreconcilable differences – and my metamorphosis into an anxious young adult who found love by serendipity , a post-grad degree (in a course she truly enjoyed) and her first job unexpectedly. Pune watched me endure a flurry of disappointing circumstances coupled with the intense anxiety of having overstayed in one place for too long. Finally, she watched me arrive at a solution – the resolve to leave the comforts of a home life and carve a new one for myself.

Auckland observes me navigate adulthood, easing me into it with her quiet charm.

C: Cleaning and Cooking amidst Covid

I have always considered myself to be a person to whom statistically improbable but optimistic things happen. Like the time I absentmindedly dropped my college backpack – containing priced possessions such as my science journal and my newly made driving license – from my moped at the petrol pump, realized it too late yet managed to recover it by the end of the day, thanks to a good Samaritan. Or the time I almost forgot my fairly new smartphone in a Swiss train that was about to pull out of the station, but fortunately managed to retrieve it by signalling frantically to the guard who had the sagacity and generosity to let me into the coach. Or quite recently, when my flatmate and I forgot our house-keys and had the building staff unlock the door to our flat within which our foster cat – that had no business being there owing to strict building regulations – went unnoticed.

And so it came as a mild surprise to me when I realized that I had indeed escaped a pandemic – the phrase sounding tad unfamiliar as I mouthed them – since it can be safely concluded that this country has, in fact, done a commendable job of managing the first wave of Covid-19. Whilst we have had our fair share of lockdowns, the impact of the virus has been lessened by rigorous testing and aggressive contact-tracing methods employed by the government. I am grateful and I mean it sincerely, with every bone in my body.

Barely had I begun to get over my homesickness and explore the city when the first lockdown struck. Fortunately by then, I had found myself a small circle of friends within Unilodge (the university accommodation) and we stuck by each other through thick and thin. Besides sharing our meals and playing board games together, I spent the remainder of my time juggling work-from-home (nope and nope) and cleaning. Yes. I realized that I am indeed my father’s daughter and hence, a self-certified neat-freak. To top that, my favourite childhood game – kitchen-kitchen – began to acquire a real touch with each passing day as I began to sharpen my culinary skills.

My first tryst with deep-cleaning occurred when I realized in dismay that the minuscule freezer in my mini fridge was prone to heavy frosting. As a result, the fridge door wouldn’t shut and upon consulting the reception staff, I was advised to defrost the freezer. Now, I hadn’t prepared myself for the copious amount of icy water that is a by-product of the process. Don’t panic – I told myself and began to assiduously wipe off the water that had pooled in and around my fridge. I also owe to my old friend from Toronto, who gave me company through a video-call whilst I grumbled my way through the task.

My cleaning regime, quite naturally, also involves vacuuming carpets – an activity that makes me groan at first but immensely satisfies me with its results. The vacuum-cleaner at Unilodge was an annoyingly heavy entity that had to be lugged from another floor into my studio. But now we have a lighter and more convenient version of the same that makes me groan less.

Moving on to my experiments with food- I’ve become quite the meat consumer now as vegetarian cooking tends to be limited by a bleak but pricey selection of vegetables, especially in winters. Plus, there’s a thrill in exploring cuisines that had been denied to me back home due to kitchen restrictions. Perhaps, the most exciting thing that I learnt to cook first (meat-wise) was chicken curry, thanks to my enterprising coworker and friend (if you are reading this, here’s a shoutout!)

Chicken curry – first attempts

However, comfort food is not replaceable; for example, sambaar and curd rice, khichdi, roti-sabzi and dosas.

The first weeks of being alone in a new country may have been daunting but I always did keep faith in my ability to cook for survival. There were instances of impulsive shopping and food spoilage but over time I devised weekly meal plans and menus to prioritize ingredients as per needs instead of wants. Here’s how I began –

My food ordering habits have drastically reduced. I would call myself a lazy chef at times but a good one alright. The best part about cooking is sharing what you’ve cooked with your loved ones. Though I didn’t mind dining alone, my motivation to cook did waver. Ironically, the lockdown reversed this for me. It brought my current flatmate/friend and I closer, and we began to share our meals on a daily basis which in turn helped us to economize. My friend is a fantastic cook – lucky me! This mouth watering spread has been brought you be us –

B is for buying groceries

Now it may seem like I have been spoilt rotten by my parents or led a bougie lifestyle up until I moved here – this is partially true – but I found it overwhelming to aisle-shop or go to huge supermarkets or departmental stores on my own during my first week in Auckland.

Back home, the most economical way to shop for produce is to walk down to your nearest street-side vendors – sabzi mandis – with their huge carts displaying arrays of vegetables and fruits. “Bhaiya aadha kilo tamatar ka kitna hua?” which translates to “Brother, how much does half a kilogram of tomatoes cost? If you were good at bargaining, chances were you would come home with a good haul.

If you were lost in a supermarket back home or were unable to find an item of your choice, immediate help would be assured. You could ask a fellow shopper – “Excuse me, do you know where the paneer section is?” – and in all probability they would know. To top this, you would always have an over-eager shop assistant hovering over you at any store.

In my case, my parents have kept up with the times and transitioned to online shopping. My working mother orders almost everything, including perishables, from Big Basket – an online grocery shopping platform in India. To me this translated to lesser errands and greater screen time.

Fast-forward to my foray into adulthood where the mere thought of walking into Countdown, the local NZ supermarket, flooded me with anxiety. I had to forgo the comfort of mandis to further my research endeavour in a first-world country. In the months leading up to my departure, I had YouTubed tutorials for using self-checkout machines. My worst case scenarios featured shoppers in queue, impatiently watching me fumble with the options – I imagined there to be several – on these machines and flustered cashiers giving up on me as I struggled to swipe my card. Grocery shopping, in my head, appeared to be an intimidating activity. Whilst online shopping was an option, the overall cost including the delivery overheads would easily deplete a poor student of their savings over time.

Whilst my worst fears did not thankfully manifest, I did have a rough time navigating through the aisles. Common sense deserted me and instead of noticing the information displayed for each aisle, I ran around like a headless chicken, desperately looking for the items on my grocery list. Towards the end I was almost in tears as all that remained on my list were paneer and frozen peas. It seemed as though the staff had been swallowed by this gargantuan supermarket – it took me over twenty minutes to locate an assistant! The rest of my stint at Countdown went down without any further incident. I sensibly stayed away from the self-checkout machines, and tried to appear relaxed before the cashier who was quite friendly. Finally, I clumsily packed my purchases in a bag and raced out of the doors.

Fortunately, I had bounced back by the next round of grocery shopping. Armed with a more efficient list, I marched confidently through the aisles of Countdown – which seemed a tad familiar – keeping my eyes peeled for the ingredients I required. At the end of it, I casually walked over to the self-checkout machine and breezed through the whole process. It wasn’t as complicated as I thought it would be. The words that reassured me throughout this trip were – as Ford Prefect had put it – don’t panic.

A is for Auckland

Auckland. Five years ago, if you had told me that I’d be pursuing my doctoral studies in an island country that is conveniently neglected in world maps owing to its negligible land size, I would have scoffed at you. Laughed in disbelief if anything. But disbelief is what I felt when I first walked the streets of this city alone, after having wallowed in homesickness and the anxiety of having being left to fend for myself in a new city. The pandemic has been a cherry on the cake. That I have managed to live alone in this city – that seems more like home to me than home back in India – for over a year with a novel virus on a rampage seems surreal. These were dreams, wishful thoughts – not the virus of course – circa 2016. But the Universe is a wondrous entity. And you may laugh, but I seriously believe in it.

Since over a year, I have been gradually discovering and savoring the bittersweet joys of adulthood, something that has come to me quite late in life (as I’d like to think) as many things have in the past. I have taken my time to arrive here, and I don’t regret it. The transition from a comfortable home life to one that involves self-discipline and independence wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. During my last in-person session with my therapist, I recall voicing the fact that my mind was a blank slate with regards to moving to New Zealand. It had been too overwhelming to imagine and account for worst-case scenarios in a place where I couldn’t visualize my life yet. But it worked out for me eventually, bit by bit, like the pieces of a puzzle that fall into place, and for that I am infinitely grateful.

What I love about Auckland is its laid-back, cheery vibe. While it is harder – in general – to find friends here, I have been blessed with a sweet circle that has been a constant source of solace to me during these rough times. I had visited New Zealand back in 2018, during a family vacation, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how the place kept calling out to me. I remember visiting the University of Auckland – it is where I study I now – and being in awe of the place. Undulating roads, a chill breeze, a beautiful green park with blooms in season, students in chic winter-wear, and the smell of fresh caffeine pervading the air – these are my memories of that evening.

There is a park we visited back then, when my parents, sister and I clicked selfies under a beautiful tree next to a fountain. The April sun was kind to us whilst a chill breeze fanned our faces. Fast forward to last year, my lovely friend and now flatmate helped me find that park with the very same tree, courtesy Google Maps. We clicked pictures again and contrasted them with those clicked two years prior. I felt an absurd joy in recreating those moments.

One of my favourite haunts in the city is the waterfront near the Ferry Building. It was and continues to be my refuge on days I feel low, and my happy place on good days. I have always had a soft corner for the sea. As fortune would have it, as of December 2020, I have been living in an apartment rental that faces the peaceful waterfront. To sip on hot coffee while gazing out at the still waters dotted occasionally with yachts is a quiet joy in itself.

I could probably write endlessly about the joy and satisfaction I have experienced while exploring this city so far. The strongest emotion I have felt after having adjusted to my new home is that of contentment despite the chaos around me. The government works painstakingly to ensure normalcy in the country while a pandemic rages across the rest of the globe. Mentally, it has been years since I have felt as grounded in the present as I do when I walk the streets of Auckland city. I take time to observe the architecture, the lights, the sounds and the smells that make this city. I wake up each morning to be greeted by the majestic Sky Tower which is visible from my balcony.

I’ve come to realize that home is a feeling. New homes can be created again in new countries amidst new found company and friends who care. After having moved here, the constant feeling of incompetency has gradually vanished. I am confident. I like myself a lot. And to say that I’m proud of myself is an understatement.

The 2021 A to Z theme reveal

After much hemming and hawing I’ve decided to dive into the 2021 A to Z Blogging Challenge after 4 years. I had taken a long hiatus from blogging since 2019. Perhaps it was the lack of inspiration; but it was definitely due to facing and accepting the monumental changes that come your way when you decide to ditch the comforts of a home life and move to a new country for the first time.

My theme for this year will be “On living alone and discovering adulthood in the midst of a pandemic.”

My genre of writing will appeal to those who enjoy journaling, random musings and slice-of-life pieces. Given the nature of this challenge and the pressure to conceive and post written content daily, I will keep my posts short and hopefully aim to infuse some interest in my audience!


On the account of Women’s History Month, I wrote this as my entry to the Brown History Project but I am not sure if it will make to its Instagram page. I have edited some bits in this version.

After reading Aanchal Malhotra’s Remnants of a Separation, I was intrigued to know my maternal grandmother’s perspective on the partition of my country; a historical event drenched in communal bloodshed, violence and trauma with an aftermath that lasts to this day. However, I ended up learning a lot more than what I expected.

My grandmother (Nani) was born into a wealthy Tamil family in 1936 in Gopalapuram, Tamil Nadu. However, she spent most of her early years and after in Central India. In early 1947, along with her sisters and her aunt, she lived in Benaras/Varanasi, pursuing her school studies. Her parents and brothers were based in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh as her father owned an independent business. Granted that they were away from the country’s borders that had been heavily afflicted by communal violence, they were relatively unaffected by the partition. Their neighbours were friendly, and there were no instances of religious discrimination as such. Her aunt had been a great freedom fighter once upon a time, having worked with the likes of Sarojini Naidu. Nonetheless, when violence erupted, girls and women were asked to close doors tightly and not wander alone on the streets. Her father had to shut down his business because he anticipated danger and losses to it. Fortunately, he received a job offer in Nagpur and his entire family moved to the city. However, Nagpur’s weather affected his health, and he was struck by a paralytic attack in 1949. On their doctor’s advice, they moved back to Jabalpur. Since he couldn’t resume work, the family was plunged into a severe financial crisis. To make matters worse, one of his close associates swindled him pushing his family to the brink of poverty. According to Nani, one of her most vividly humiliating experiences involved being called out amidst an examination to be told that she couldn’t continue as she hadn’t paid her fees. Whilst her older siblings received a higher level education – by the time it was her chance – she couldn’t progress beyond matriculation. She was compelled to seek work to make ends meet. Back then, working women were a rarity and were subjected to ridicule and rampant misogyny. Yet, Nani was and has always been a resilient woman. At the age of 28, when marriage prospects – in those days – were grim, it was considered a miracle when she married my grandfather and went on to have two kids. She worked hard and fought her male counterparts to gain some credibility at work. Finally in her forties, she graduated with both BA and MA degrees.

Nani has seen terrible days but has emerged triumphant despite her trials and tribulations. She is the most iconic woman of my life.

Ode to a song (not really)


Ten years have elapsed since the release of this film.  It’s been ten years since I first heard Masakali and Rehna Tu on the radio whilst my exam preps were in full swing. Ten years since I wrote my board exams; ten years since I suffered my first panic attack and couldn’t make sense of it. I remember listening to Masakali and imagining myself dancing to its tune.  It reminded me of Delhi even though I had barely been to the city at the time. I remember Appa singing it loudly in the car. Sweet nostalgia.

It’s been ten years since I fell in love for the time first and had my heart broken too. Did I fall in love or was it just a teenage thing? I will never know. But it was sweet. It’s been ten years since I turned 16 and well, it wasn’t all that sweet. I wish I had loved myself more at the time. But, it’s been ten years since I took stock of my self-esteem and said goodbye to all the toxic influences from school.

It’s been ten years since I visited the States – my one and only trip to America. Ten years since I realized what strong ties of friendship actually meant. Yes, this year actually marks my tenth year of friendship with S. It’s been ten years since I first met P – it was the beginning of a long dramatic phase of my life.

It’s been ten years since I’ve had a year that stands out so clearly in my memories. Oh and ironically, I have never managed to catch this film in its entirety.

A change of thought

I’m sitting here in the computer lab, thinking about the school reunion slated this Sunday.  The distraction is real – I have actually minimized the dull terminal box with various scripts running on it. Fortunately,  I am seated away from my colleagues and I’m quite thankful that they won’t be able to steal surreptitious glances at my monitor.  Whew!

I feel guilty about wasting work hours over my blog that has been neglected for quite sometime now – possibly more than a year. But, the only solution for my mind-diarrhea is to excrete it here on this white space. Apologies for my graphic choice of words!

I don’t know what made me RSVP to the event. When I first saw the page on Facebook, I promptly scrolled past it, not bothering to read details. When it popped up again on my feed a few days later, I went ahead and clicked on it. A bunch of batch-mates I barely know had liked the only post displayed on the page.  I contemplated on ticking the box titled “Interested” on an event poll located below the post but then decided against it. It would make sense to first check with three of my friends who have stuck with me since school-days.

Pat came the reply on the WhatsApp group that we are a part of .

“Nope. I’d give this a miss,” said S.

I get her discomfort on attending social gatherings full of several unknown or barely-known faces. That I wanted to attend this reunion in spite of having been a nobody in school did seem unusual. When A declined my offer, I re-considered my decision. In fact, talks about the reunion triggered some unpleasant school memories. Clearly, this was a bad idea.

I had almost forgotten about it until I casually let the question slide into a conversation with another friend who happens to be my schoolmate. Her reaction was equally predictable, considering the uncanny similarities in our school experiences. Being awkward background characters, we had watched the popular kids bask in the glory of the limelight. Jeez, I sound bitter. I guess the onus had equally been on us to take charge of ourselves and participate in school events. A part of me would have definitely enjoyed the adulation of teachers and friends, had I not been crippled by self-doubt for the most part of my teenage. Our school did propagate a toxic competitive culture amongst us girls.  All in all, our discussion had me convinced that the reunion would unnecessarily engender distressing thoughts about the past.

Fast forward to last night, I stumbled upon that intrusive page on my feed again. This time I lingered. The list of attendees had markedly increased and it mainly comprised acquaintances and some unfamiliar names – those from the Boys’ Section, the ones I have no idea about to this date. The Boys’ Section has always been the Forbidden Forest of our school. There were strict rules to be followed and consequences that rule-breakers had to face. From what I recollect, a bunch of girls would stealthily hang out with members of this region in undisclosed locations. Back then, Facebook was the only portal into such meetings and parties which were rather fancy affairs.  These were the ways of the elite I suppose, as most of the partakers weren’t financially inconvenienced. Those were my days of being a novice at social media stalking or researching as I termed it. I would scroll through scores of pictures of my posh batch-mates in their cutesy dresses, tank tops and slim fit jeans, sipping juice, hand in hand with pubescent boys. A part of me desperately craved to suspend my middle-class values, orthodontic braces and bell-bottom jeans and embrace this hip lifestyle with cute boys, indulgent parents and copious monthly allowance.  My life seemed to follow the trajectory of a typical American teenage drama that would ultimately culminate in a big prom. No guesses for what would have happen there – I would meet the love of my life!  Little did I know that I would voluntarily skip the prom aka my tenth grade after-party, only to meet my love (an alumnus of the Boys’ Section) six years later at a party, albeit one that was low-key.

Naturally, given my expertise in social media groundwork,  I sneaked up on some profiles to familiarize myself with new faces. My boyfriend was quite unhelpful with divulging information about his school days because to him those held no significance whatsoever. My handsome K is very much like me in this aspect – he was a reticent kid.  In a way, this whole exercise did seem absurd and unfruitful. I don’t comprehend my ferreting tendencies and curiosity about individuals who were (and probably are) unaware of my existence. Anyway, after a quick mental debate I messaged Sa asking her to accompany me to the venue Sunday. She miraculously agreed and I finally had my way. For all my unsavory opinions on school, the hypocrite in me does want to be there to gauge how everyone has turned out to be. To see whether the bully is still a bully, whether the all-rounder is still ruling the roost.

Ever since I’ve impulsively RSVP’ed, my mind has been fraught with a flurry of anxious thoughts and questions, the first one being, why in the world am I so compelled to attend this reunion? K being a man of few words, puts it succinctly – it’s just a matter of one night that will be forgotten within a week. He is absolutely correct, but I’m never going to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he is right.

I have already begun to rummage through my cupboard to assemble an outfit that will suit the occasion which quite obviously reeks of sophistication. Maybe I’ll go with soft smoky eyes to complement my look. Heck, my make-up skills are quite good. This anxiety associated with choosing a chic attire is way too familiar. How many times had I questioned my sartorial choices during them school days?


Blast from the past : This was snapped right before my school farewell party

So why am I attending this reunion?

Sa echoes my sentiments – “Hahaha, curiosity and to rub our happiness in people’s faces.”

Do I really want to rub my happiness in people’s faces and be vindicated? There’s no discrete answer to this. My mother is of the opinion that my confidence waned after having joined this school. Back in Bombay, I was a carefree kid who studied in a simple co-educational environment. There had been no pressure to perfect my English speaking skills or to ogle at boys through rose-tinted glasses. I was good at art and music. I could wear anything and not feel shy about my lanky body. However, everything changed after we moved to Pune.

To make up for my lack of participation in cultural programs and debates, I would cook-up scenarios in my head. Usually, I would visualize myself to be quite popular, extremely smart, displaying my talent in music, dance, debate, you name it, before a huge audience. I imagined myself to be an ace guitarist. Teachers liked me and spoke highly of me to my parents. In this parallel world, I was a part of the elite group with friends from the forbidden part of the school.

Of course, the reality was anything but pleasant. I suffer from mild social anxiety, the roots of which trace back to high school. I was used to being overlooked by my own classmates, to being one of the last ones to be picked in the basketball team. My seniors in the school bus were bullies and had no shame in “taking my case”.  My grades dropped when I was in the tenth grade. I could have never imagined that I would start my own blog because I sucked at writing essays.  Heck, I doubt if my teachers remember me. Aye, I have gone ahead and thrown myself a pity party here. But some background is necessary to show you the absurdity of my decision to attend this party on Sunday.

The answer to my question is glaringly obvious. I’m dying to see where I stand amongst these girls and boys – now women and men. To prove to myself that I’m somebody and that I will be no longer intimidated by them.

It’s strange. I am, of course, in a much better place now as compared to where I was aged fifteen. I am grateful for the people in my life, the ones who know me in and out and take me the way I am. I know that I don’t need to prove a point to anybody.

You may think I’m being petty and counter-productive, as this may only fuel my insecurities further. There are bound to be people who are doing better than me. And not all my school-mates were terrible. I can still change my mind and cancel plans. Why go out of my way to prove a point to those who have no inkling whatsoever about my intentions?

Figuring myself out is so hard sometimes. But it’s okay, I’ll go with my impulses for once.

Curiosity may have killed the cat but I’m willing to risk it this time.


Circa 2016 : The lasting effects of puberty. It did me a good turn.