August Angst

1 Sep

Every year, as August rolls along, this quiet but very apparent angst sets in. A restlessness that I can’t quite put a finger on, so many questions, way too many ideas, no clue where to begin or how to proceed. Behind it all is a voice, soft, but persistent. Asking questions direct and sharp. The answers to which are unformed. Mushy, nebulous. And they evade me most times.

And as always, it happens in August. Something about the eighth month of the year suddenly creeping up on me, maybe? I was never very good at managing time and the sheer race of keeping up and doing so much in so little (one can never have enough time no?) is a well-established refrain in my life. I have come to accept that the number of things I want to do or am in the process of doing will always be disproportionately larger than the number of things I have done satisfactorily well. That feeling of looking back on a task well done, with that smug, satisfied grin, dusting hands off in glee – that feeling is something I have never known.

This year though, the knocks have been louder; and the questions have come thumping, banging down the door rather than knocking gently in the background. They resound in my head, refuse to leave, circle around relentlessly — “have you sold as many cakes as you possibly could?” and “have you written as many different blog posts as you wanted to?” or “have you sketched out the food project you promised yourself you would?” and “have you contacted Mr. XYZ and Ms. ABC with the proposal you had in mind?” or “Have you pimped your cakes enough?”  — I immediately shudder, because at the root of it the answer screaming out at me is “Have you sold yourself enough?”

This year the angst has been multiplied by the burgeoning activity I have suddenly experienced on facebook. But this year though, it’s been quickly followed up by a peaceful understanding, and acknowledgement of what is, what will be and what will never be. For the most part I watch from the sidelines, agog, as my newsfeed is tantalisingly full of food, now more than ever before. The floodgates opened after IFBM and there’s no looking back now. People engaging in link-swaps, page shares, pimping classes, props, photography, ingredients and all kinds of other goodies all the time. In the midst of the cacophony my Hungry & Excited cakes cry out feebly too.

I’ve never been able to make peace with what the H&E page does for me. I bumble along because people tell me it is the way to go. I do it, but I can’t say I’m at peace with it. I have never been very good at pimping myself. I am the person who is perennially looking back on opportunities and wishing I had it in me to dive in and sell myself at the time. It’s a skill one must either have, or be willing to acquire, I have realized. Right now though, I have neither the natural ability to self-promote, nor the willingness to learn it because something about the whole act itself doesn’t come naturally and just doesn’t sit right with me. When I try, I am reminded of the one time I went all out, got out of the comfort zone and do something that didn’t come naturally but I got forced into egged on by a very head-strong and cut throat entrepreneur friend. The incident involved a stack of business cards that sat by a basket of H&E muffins, with one shoved into the hand of every hapless person to pick up a muffin for some Christmas cheer. It yielded several calls of appreciation, and one of them converted into an order. But several other things happened as a result, and the relationship with my friend (the entrepreneur has been strained ever since) and it has been one of the biggest lessons in listening to myself; and only doing something if my gut says its right.

So I hang around on facebook, mostly just posting instagrammed pictures of everything I eat, everything I cook, everything I want to eat, everything I plan to cook – and many things in between. Ever since the frequency of posting a recipe has reduced, there has been even lesser action in terms of populating recipes and links on facebook. When I think about it, I feel incredibly lame cross-posting instagram pictures, because I already have instagram for it. And because I’ve a private instagram account and am an unabashed junkie, that really ought to work for me. I know I ought to be doing more on facebook, but I just cannot get myself to push through the clutter, I cannot find it in me to hit that “boost post” button, I don’t have the willingness to post every pictures, recipe link on a gazillion recipe groups, I cannot engage in comments and likes the way I see most people do. And the way they do it, I also see how fb works for them. I know its possible, but I have realised there are some things I will probably never be okay doing. I might do them in future, but never with a straight face and a comfortable stance.

This is where I miss the perks of a day job. Full time employment means you don’t have to constantly sell yourself or prove yourself with every task. You’re hired for a set of skills that you’re believed to possess, and known to perform well. So the going can be as good or as great as you make it, but for the most part you just have to sit around and do what comes your way. Singularly. The responsibility of finding work, the selling work lay squarely in the lap of project managers – many of whom I worked with did the job with such astounding lack of ability, that it ought to have taught me to step in and learn a bit of it for myself. But no. I’ve said before, I’m a doer. A follower. A worker bee. And this ability to take charge, sell a product, skill or even myself, doesn’t come naturally. When I found myself doing it for IFBM, I shocked myself. Every instance of talking to a potential sponsor or a vendor and pimping the event and our desperate need to keep costs low, made me feel like I was having an out of body experience. At the end of every instance, I had to pinch myself to check if it all really happened. I surprised myself several times, sometimes pleasantly so. And it showed me that deep down, I do have the ability, I must harness it and finetune it to use it well.

I remind myself that every cake I have sold this past year has happened organically, on its own without too much noise. Mostly through word-of-mouth, either in real life or online. I am yet to put an advertisement out there, or pimp an offer a discount or a scheme. It has worked so far, the question stalks me all the time — wouldn’t all this be that much higher, better, louder if I actually actively sold myself a little?

The answer is yes. Of course it’s a yes. There was never a doubt about that. But my state of perennial fb-angst and observing everything I see going on fb, in these days of social proof, salability and viral quotient, makes me realize that I am old-school in this respect. When I come across articles about social media marketing, tips on how to get your blog stats to soar, how to float a business completely on facebook etc, I find myself rolling my eyes quicker than I can get through the entire piece. I have however moved from mocking it all, to watching with wonder. I realize now that there are many who make it work, and work well. I also realize why I cannot make it work. A lot of it may have to do with my stubbornness and unwillingness to self promote. But at the heart of it is a personality type. And that is something that isn’t going to change very easily, no matter how many cakes go between me and several happy clients. I’m willing to wait it out, without rushing the process by hitting “boost post”. I’m willing to wait for organic reach, even off fb. And perhaps this has everything to do with the fact that I do not depend on selling cakes to feed myself, but still. I’m willing to wait, because I believe that I may not reach out to 100 people, and sell 50 cakes a month. I may do about a tenth of that number, but the ten cakes that I deliver will be cakes I didn’t mindlessly churn out because some boosting action drove my fb stats and order scheds through the roof. They will be ten cakes going to ten people who understand the difference between fancy cake and everyday teacake. And if enough people get the taste of that, the numbers will grow and eventually, the money will follow.

I call it old-school because this is what I have seen my parents believe in, and made it work. I have realized that when they told me to “find my passion and follow it uncompromisingly”, the statement unwrapped itself into a whole bunch of lifestyle choices – choices I would have to learn to slowly make. Choices that are still coming to me, slowly. Painfully. I have learned slowly but surely that it often means being happy with less and not constantly aspiring for what can be. Not letting the pursuit of money become the centre of my being and life. It means worrying less about what other people think should be my path to “success” and defining success by parameters that work for me. It often means being grateful for the little things. It means focusing on my craft, without worrying about the numbers.

It’s why I struggle to call myself A Writer. I’m constantly prefixing it with trying-to-be or finding polite ways to define my niche. I don’t dare call myself a “chef” on my blog, because really WHO ARE WE KIDDING?! And I roll my eyes and chuckle every time I see something to the effect of foodie-turned-specialist on one of the million food blogs that now surround us. Every time I hear of a blogger turned author, and then read the tripe doled out in the form of a book, I resist the urge to drive a nail through my brain. It is often passed off as unnecessary modesty when I pick a veil and hide behind it, but come August every year the sinister question raises its head again – have you sold yourself enough?

This year though, a quiet acceptance has turned up, in place of the restless angst that used to come with it.

Have I sold myself enough? No, I haven’t sold myself at all, actually. I had grand plans to pimp a personal project at IFBM, because “it was the thing to do” and anything less would be “a waste”, I tried to do it, and the mosre unnatural it felt, the farther I felt myself moving from the project I was so supposedly so invested in. Eventually, I dropped it, and told myself things will happen, if they’re meant to. Even if it takes five years longer than if I self-promoted NOW.

Recently, I read this piece of the thoughts of Werner Herzog on making a living of doing what you love, and it echoed so much of what I have seen growing up, experienced in some part, and now know is an indelible part of who I am.

If your project has real substance, ultimately the money will follow you like a common cur in the street with its tail between its legs. — Werner Herzog

My grandfather was a prolific musician who silently made some of the most brilliant music for over 8 decades. He lived off meager earnings, and yet supported his wife and three children on it, and from what I hear my mother and her brothers tell us it was a fabulous childhood, that rarely allowed them to feel the pinch of what might have been missing. He won national acclaim in the form of a Sangeet Natak Akademi award when he was well past 70, but over the years won millions of hearts through his heart-rending music, passed on his thoughts about music and life to scores of students, and created a living parampara of his kind of music that will live on for hundreds of years to come.

I feel humbled and grateful that I have had my grandparents and parents who have lived by this, so I don’t have to go through the hardships that they did, before I learn this way of life. They did most of the grunt work, weeded out the crap and passed on some of the best things to us – teaching us not in dogmatic, academic ways but through actions and the best example that is their own lives.

Of course where I talk of baking, I could just as well replace the word “cake” with “writing” and the logic still works. What I call old-school, some may call unrealistic, idealistic. Some might even say its downright foolish. But it’s the only way I know.

I haven’t done nearly as many things as I imagined I would at the start of the year, but I feel satisfied in knowing that what I did, I did without the worry of money, stats, success or adulation. The stats on my blog, the likes on the fb page, they’re just numbers. I bake because I love it. I write because I love it. And that’s pretty much all there is to it. Because like Bette Davis said, If everybody likes you, you’re pretty dull.

*****

Related (if you manage to see the connection) is this song my sister was obsessive over, the whole month of August that she was with me. Look up the lyric, read between the lines and if you’re feeling any of the August Angst, maybe you’ll agree :)

About these ads

Moments

10 Aug

Tenderness is a fleeting spot of time, sandwiched somewhere between waking and drifting back to sleep. I open my eyes just so, and I see VC bug-eyed-glasses on his face, windcheater zipped up, and helmet strapped on. The sun is not even out and he’s off for his morning cycle ride. But not without stopping to kiss me good-morning and goodbye. I’m not awake to register it all, but I take it in, in spurts. Like tenderness. Sandwiched between waking and drifting back to sleep.

I turn over and slip away. Comfort is that blanket of repose that spreads over me, as the seconds tick down one at a time, and I get drowsier, giving in to deep slumber that hits me like a flat-line. The pillow just right, cupping my head full of unruly hair, a light sheet jammed between my knees so they don’t touch, my palms sandwiched between my chin and chest. And its easy to let go and drift away into the white noise.

I wake up some time later. I’m not sure how long. The din of falling rain as it slams the parapet above my bedroom window. Strong, persistent and showing no signs of ceasing. I peek out, and the sun is struggling to shine, creeping up from behind the grey clouds looming large. The balcony doors have swung open on their own. I walk out and feel the rain come in. Peace is that bristly, feathery sprinkling of rain on my face. I’m awake now. Arms outstretched over the balcony, I reach out to touch the rain, which is now coming down in big bullets. The street is quiet, nothing moving except the coconut trees swaying, and holding fort in the face of the anything-but-gentle breeze.

Suddenly I hear a pair of wheels turn the corner. Making contact as they crunch the wet gravel and head back home. Pedals circle wildly, and on it a grinning VC. Joy is all-encompassing, like the downpour that drenches an obsessive newbie cyclist to the bone, bug-eyed glasses, helmet, windcheater and all. I see him. I smile. And then I’m really awake.

Now that IFBM is done and dusted

9 Aug

The perpetual state of busy-ness that has been the last few months (specially the last 3-4 weeks) was frankly just terrifying at one point. I realised the limits of involvement one tends to push oneself to, when the outcome at stake is so close to ones heart. Terrifying, because it digs out levels of energy you didn’t think or know you had. It brings out skills you were convinced you didn’t have. And it shows you sides of yourself you were shocked to see. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined I could manage a project of this scale and magnitude, from scratch. Approaching brands for sponsorship, selling ideas, spur of the moment twists and turns to pimp our platform to make it viable for them, pretending like I’m wrapping my tiny little math-confused brain around the big numbers they threw at me, being a patient and understanding face of the brand I represent, remembering to bite my tongue and learning valuable lessons in client management.

Thinking on my feet has taken an all new meaning now. Of course, I can say all this with a big grin on my face, now that I have the luxury of retrospection. Its been a week and the flurry of updates, little displays of gratitude, waves of budding new friendships, incessant notifications on facebook and twitter and while personally the afterglow faded in a little over a day (because fatigue swooped in full swing), I’ve been watching the activity on facebook, with a sense of pride. It’s like growing a garden and watching things spark to life — this largely virtual community, with connections real and on-screen has suddenly sprung to life as one.

While I have been blogging here on HaathiTime for aeons now, the foodblogging stint is a more recent one for me. I usually go out of my way to stay unnoticed and have shied away from getting to know too many other food bloggers — quite a contrast to the number of friends I have made through this blog. The reasons are many, but when I started selling my baked goodies through Hungry and Excited, I had to change this. I did, only in some measure, but only when I decided to jump into organising IFBM with Aparna, Arundati and Nandita did I pull almost all the stops off. The exhilaration of putting together this thing we had only imagined and talked about for months, suddenly kicked in, the reality loomed large and kept me going. There were glitches galore, and twists and turns every step of the way, fresh googlies we didn’t plan for and never saw coming, but somehow after the initial panic, some calm brainstorming and a few measured moves later, help always seemed to come our way. Things fell into place at an alarming frequency.

I was the first one amongst the four of us to check out the venue, the stunning new Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park and within ten minutes of interacting with the team we had only so far exchanged emails with, I knew we couldn’t have picked a better venue. The experience at Aloft deserves a separate post.

If you’ve read the last few posts from July, you’ll know I was overworked, stressed and irritable for a large part of the time. Most of it was my own doing — absurdly high expectations and standards and trying to do it all never really works, I’ve realised. I’d drift on to autopilot and just plod on like a machine, while some days I’d rave, rant and wish I had done things better. This was most evident on the night before the event as Aparna, Arundati and I sat in the hotel room, with cartons of goodies and bags strewn all over us, not a square inch left for us to walk around to even have the space to think. We somehow sorted through it, wading through the tons of gifts and goodies we had so excitedly talked about in the weeks before. In that moment, more than ever before, I told myself there was SO MUCH I had already learned form planning this event, and yet SO MUCH remained yet to be learned. Eventually though, it has all paid off. And the first ever Indian Food Bloggers Meet was nothing short of a smashing success. That feeling of satisfaction hit home the moment Arundati took the stage to begin with a round of introductions and opened session 1 on day 1.

I’m still recovering form the overwhelming success that the event was. Personally, the planning and bringing together of the event taught me more than any of the sessions did because I was too busy running around even through the two days, to sit down and take in anything that was being talked about. But when we took a bow, the four of us, standing in front of 50 grinning faces, clearly euphoric over what they had experienced over the two days it hit home — IFBM turned out to be far bigger and better than I had imagined it could be.

At the very end

It all sinks in at the very end. Sharing the stage with Arundati, Aparna and Nandita — couldn’t have done it without them.

It was nothing short of exhilarating to meet so many faces I have only known through their blogs. Discovering the people behind the words. The brains behind the pictures. The food-obsessed people I have known to love, respect and adore.

Black and yellow brigade

Me (excuse this donkey for putting herself first), Monika, Chinmayie, Archana and Arundati — the black and yellow brigade.

Eventually, I had to leave many of the goodies behind because my bag was already stuffed to the brim with things I had carried to Bangalore for the meet. I didn’t come back laden with IFBM wares like many of the pictures on facebook now reveal, but I did come back richer with lessons in
– What happens when you manage a relationship regardless of what comes out of it
– Humility and honesty in planning something that is true to a common goal
– The importance of integrity in teamwork
– The potential of putting individuals aside and focusing on something bigger than the sum of every individual part
– The power of having a clear intention and a clean heart, and what happens in the absence of it
– Believing in an idea enough to run with it, allow it to pick up enough mementum to attract likeminded people, take over your life, garner support, love and affection and and bring together so much positive energy

OOH, IFBM2014 taught me one other thing: the art of perfecting a selfie. I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know how selfies are taken, until I was shown only approximately 50 times over the 2 day event. Excuse me while I plug in a few moments. There are far too many to choose from, and this selection is completely random. For (wayy too many) more pictures, look on the IFBM page.

With Deeba and Arundati

With Deeba and Arundati

With Chinmayie -- my "banana buddy" as I so UNgracefully called it. those who read the food blog will know why.

With Chinmayie — my “banana buddy” as I so UNgracefully called our friendship. Those who read the food blog will know why.

With Monika -- with whom I have never interacted with. And yet felt like we had known each other forever.

With Monika — with whom I have never interacted with. And yet felt like we had known each other forever.

With Archana. Who came close to hiring me to write for her. I don't think she knows/remembers this!

With Archana. Who came close to hiring me to write for her. I don’t think she knows/remembers this!

Before 1st August, the blogging community was a string of faces strewn across cyberspace. At the end of 2nd August, I came away feeling like I am a part of a community that is capable of many big things. A bunch of people that can become quite the force to contend with.

With Arundati -- my IFBM partner in crime, shoulder to rave and rant, sounding board, chief coordinator and idea bouncer all wrapped in one.

With Arundati — my IFBM partner in crime, shoulder to rave and rant, sounding board, chief coordinator and idea bouncer all wrapped in one.

Keep calm and eat the chocolate

23 Jul

I woke up earlier than usual today. After weeks of trying, I actually decided to rise (and not shine, because who can shine so frikking early in the morning) when the alarm went off today. It was dark outside, and I went about doing stuff in auto pilot. In no time, I was at my computer, typing away mechanically. The list of things to do? It’s not done yet, and I am powering through to get it ticked off. So there I was sitting in the dark, tapping away on my laptop, when I looked out the balcony doors. It was still dark outside, with a hint of the rising sun creeping up beyond the valley. And I had a moment. A this-is-insane moment. And in that moment, I reminded myself this morning that what we have pulled off, is nothing less than a feat, given how we began to talk about it so many months ago. We imagined it wouldn’t be anything more than a pajama party of sorts for a few over enthusiastic food bloggers we knew. And we didn’t think more than a handful of people would actually put pen to paper and actually make it. Given the reactions, the attention, the eyeballs, and the sheer excitement that I have seen brewing, it’s safe to say we had no clue what we were getting into, back then.

So if crazy is how its meant to be, so be it. Crazy is how it will be. I’m now resigned to it, which has made things a tad better. At least I’m not fretting over the complete absence of control over the multiple variables that are flying around. I am being a part of the organised chaos and letting things happen, rather than fighting to make them happen. Maybe I should have done this a few weeks ago. Actually scratch that. I know I should have done this a month ago. Because then I wouldn’t feel this way today.

Many people read the last few posts and wrote in, messaged and checked in to ask why I’m feeling and sounding so overworked. I have to correct the impression my post might have given. It has been crazy and I am exhausted, but I have enjoyed the high for the most part. It’s not the work that’s getting to me. It’s the fact that I mismanaged my time, that is really driving me crazy now that we are down to the countdown.

On Saturday last week, I realised I have a long way to go in selfishly putting myself above everything else happening around me. We are so used to being told not to be selfish, that we forget that sometimes, it can be a good thing. And it is definitely a tact I want to learn in some measure. Maybe then my own personal goals won’t suffer all the time. I’ve spent all of this week cribbing. And I am finally sick of myself. Sick of hearing my own whining, listening to whining, and complaining about how things are out of control.

And just then, it happened. The power went off. WiFi dies when that happens. Ten minutes later, my house help called to say she won’t be coming in. There was a storm brewing outside. Clashing, sharp, heavy big drops of rain that came down like knives. Mad wind, the kind that flung open locked windows and doors, that I struggled to pull back and close.

I went into the kitchen and looked at the sink full of dishes and the bucket full of dirty laundry waiting to be loaded in to the machine, and I knew at once what kind of day it was going to be. But I had had enough of cribbing. So I got to it. When I was done with the dishes, I decided I needed a serious upper if I had to get through the day without anymore complaints. I was just in time for the Zumba lessons I have given up this month. I pulled on my work out clothes and rushed off. An hour of dancing later, I felt like I could take on the day. It’s confirmed. I have turned into the person that needs a daily fix of endorphin to get going. Sometimes its all I need to put a smile back on my face. And I’m so glad it’s at close reach, and works every time.

When I returned, the power hadn’t come back. My laptop had drained, rendering it useless. All plans to get that extensive list of to-dos knocked off flew out the window. Additionally, the water was running low and without power, I couldn’t pump any more either. I took a deep breath, had a hot shower and made myself lunch, instead of taking myself out as earlier planned. If we’re talking about mood uppers, cooking a warm simple meal, comes next in line after working out. I was feeling much better. After eating lunch I had cooked, I felt fabulous.

Feeling restless with the inability to work, and sitting in a dark room with stormy weather outdoors, I decided there was no point staying cooped up. So I took off. Went and had two cups of coffee I could have done without. Read a book. Went to the salon for some much needed pampering that Iw as saving for the end of the week. But when life throws such opportunities at me, who am I to pass them up?

A back and shoulder rub later, I’m feeling ridiculously Zen. I’m sure the shit is going to hit the fan any moment now and burst this bubble, but I’ll wait for it to happen rather than invite it sooner than karma has planned.

At the start of today, I told myself through gritted teeth that the last thing I needed was another day gone by without finishing my work. And yet somehow it feels like that’s just what I needed. Here I am now. Half an hour away from my scheduled workout for the day. Of course I’m going. Again. It will give me the dose of energy I need at the end of the day. This is how I get through most days, these days.

10475020_340234196128236_48120707_n

Its either that, or 70% cocoa.

Protected: Confessions of a procrastinator

21 Jul

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Sunday swing

20 Jul

Sunday

The news has depressed the daylights out of me this past week. Wherever I look, there’s a new atrocity. This week we’ve seen it all from violence against women, crimes against children, a plane crash, war, idiotic Indian politicians who never seem to take a break from doing asinine things, a natural calamity and its all over facebook and twitter. I try to get online, finish my work and get offline, but inevitably I let myself get into a discussion, evesdrop over a raging debate, or just keep reading — before I know it the day is done and I’m to my gills in bad news.

I shut the laptop, grumbling about another day gone by without working as much as I planned to. I take myself to the gym, the only place that has become a non-negotiable in my daily routine. I work my buns off, sweat out the sadness. It’s usually past 8.30 pm, and I tread slowly, dragging my feet back to my car and that familiar feeling returns — the fear that I cradle inside of me, the fear that is always bubbling beneath the surface, but I push away time and again. I’m out, alone, in the dark — what if something happens? The irony is I have just walked out of a kick boxing class — I come out feeling stronger physically, but wonder if something were to happen, would I be able to handle it mentally?

It doesn’t help that I have been homealone for the most of the week gone by. The husbands work trips are getting longer every time. Indoors too, I’m alone. But I brush the fears aside, just as long as I rush home and find myself indoors again. Safe. From everything outside of it. The rain, the dark, the people.

It seems like no place is safe anymore. Not this country, not the places we frequent, not even the schools we send our children to. Where is one to go if the only place I really feel safe is my own home?

*****

It’s a good kind of Sunday when the husband is home from a business trip. Its like temporarily putting a blanket over the fears that linger around. I have some music playing loud, as we rustle up idlies, sambar, chutney and mini vadas for brunch. Outside, it’s coming down in buckets, and it feels just so wet you want to stay indoors. Its safer indoors.

There’s nothing like a coastal monsoon to experience what wetness sounds like. Squelchy, pouring rain has a sound. And that sound, it feels wet. The grey skies hold back as long as they can — dark, looming large and heavy. And then when you’re least expecting it, tears apart, making way for a downpour. You’re indoors, and yet you feel just how wet it is outside.

Suddenly I feel glad to be indoors. In a neighbourhood that rarely has a crime reported. In a city that has so far been very, very kind to me. Where I can walk around after dark, in my gym clothes and not be leered at. Where wearing shorts doesn’t mean putting myself on display. Where I have never been groped. As yet. Where I can mostly be myself without having to cover up, think twice or need a chaperone. I’m glad I’m in a country that’s not at war. Yes, there are a lot of stupid people in influential positions making a lot of questionable decisions, but really, I feel safer here right now. And my heart goes out to those that have been in the news for all the wrong reasons this week.

Yes, it’s a good kind of Sunday. And I feel grateful. I feel glad. Even if just for a bit.

Incidentally, I just realised the playlist is a woman-strong one. So I’m sharing some favourites.

An old favourite, I suddenly caught it on the radio the other day. Amy’s voice is like mulled wine. Warm, spicy, dark and comforting. And this is one of my most loved Amy tracks. Perfect for a rainy day.

What is it about this woman! She’s so unusually appealing. I cannot quite put a finger on it. The music is pleasantly different, her hair, clothes, make up — just so unusual. The words, the unravel slowly and you realise what shes really talking about. I jumped on this train a little late, but I’m in love with Lorde.

Nina Simone is something I associate with the movies. Not the music I grew up listening to. The occasional track I remember is usually because it played in a movie, is all I know. But this track came to me in an 800 mb collection that was we-transferred to me across cities (yeah some of us do that for music). It’s grown on me. And how.

So listen, just stay happy, yeah? Stay safe and have a good Sunday, folks.

Stretched

18 Jul

It’s been a week of setting my alarm to 5.50 am (taking into account 1 snooze of 9 mins so I can get out of bed by 6), but actually only waking up closer to 6.30-7. It’s been a week of waking up groggy, with a daunting to-do list spinning in my head. It’s getting tiring just keeping up because unlike the way it is with most people — listing things brings order and control, or at least some sense of it — making that list has been my complete undoing. At this point, that list owns me. The list is fucking with me, playing nasty games. I tick one thing off, and three things get added in, I tick another two off, and a few more things fly in. All that’s missing is the voice that says “lets see how you’ll keep up with me, now” every time the scores change.

At this point its To-do List – 10, Revati – 1.5

The more I simplify, the more things get complicated. The more I step back, the more I encounter. The more I off-load, the heavier things feel. Is that even possible? Sure feels like it to me these days. The last two months have been nothing short of crazy and doing fewer things so I can do them well seemed like the only way to go. So I pared down the frenetic days of my life. But somehow, and as always, that too gets the better of me. Because with the things I have on hand, I have this tendency to get so involved, it consumes me whole. I’ve been called an energiser bunny on acid way too many times in the last couple of weeks and I’m beginning to think there is some truth to it.

Except, the energiser bunny is supposed to go on and on and on. I know, to some it might seem like I can do the same, but I am tired. Officially tired. In the summer this year, I stripped my professional engagements down to nil, for primarily for two reasons. There are two projects on hand that need my time and undivided attention and I wanted to be able to give them that. So I stepped back, offloaded what I thought I could easily do without and focused on tasks at hand. Seems like the answer to managing time better no? Yet, the balance is skewed. The damned list just never diminishes. Old things are just replaced with new things. And I have felt the brunt of it over the last three weeks more than ever before.

I’ve realised I’m a do-er. If there is something to be done, I’m all in to step up and do it. Especially if there are other people and a common goal involved. I am not the sort of person that likes to be told something ten times before I get to it. If I am assigned a task, I want to have it done before anyone has to remind me about it. If I see someone else not pulling their weight, I will step in and take over without asking for permission. So there you have it — I suddenly realised why no matter how much I simplify my work, it somehow it gets complicated again. I pare it down, and pretty soon its a big messy pile again. I de-clutter, only to find myself in the midst of the chaos all over again.

I have a mug that sits on my desk even today. It holds my pens and pencils and it reads “Why sacrifice yourself when you have a whole team to choose from?” It was a gift from my friends at EY and was their way of mocking me for always being the bakra to step forward and take responsibility to do things — no matter that it meant stretching myself beyond work hours and reasonable expectations of someone at my level on the corporate food chain even. I rarely reaped the benefits of that extra time spent, but somehow it didn’t matter because I didn’t always have my eyes on the perks. It was first professional experience that had consumed me in a way that made me lose track of time. For the first time in years I had found my feet, my flow and even when I was swimming at the deep end of the pool, struggling to keep my head above the water for the most part, I was drowning with water gushing over my head, the moments that I came up to get a mouthful of air, I felt a rush so deep that I didn’t want to stop.

The only other times I have had this happen to me, when I have been happy to be in the deluge, drowned in work, struggling to finish it but thriving on the high of working towards a finish line was for a short while in my job here in Goa. And now, IFBM. It has consumed me to the point of fatigue. I go to sleep ticking tasks in my head, I wake up with a freshly grown list of things to do, and I scramble to put them down before they fly out of my head. I set aside an hour a day to answer emails, post updates on the facebook page, write a blog posts or two and promise myself I’ll be done with it. I mean to spend the rest of my day working, but somehow I get consumed in answering emails, following up with sponsors, chasing after goodie bag contributors, helping participants register, yada yada — add to an uncompromising obsession with fitting in gym, the sometimes unreasonable insistence of cooking all meals AND also fitting in the odd social obligation and an outing for fun here and there, and Before I know it, its the end of another day that I have done no work for myself. I have failed abysmally in dividing my time and attention between the only two things I have on hand. One needs it more than the other, but things never turn out as they should, do they? So I have given in to the flow of things and let one consume me, and elbow the other out. Even though it should be the other way around. I have never been very good at being selfish with my own work. I see so many others around me pull it off with style and I recognise it. Yet I am unable to learn and adopt it into my own life.

I have so much to learn as far as prioritizing my work goes. Isn’t it always that way? Things that don’t have a deadline looking large over your head, or have a client hounding you for a tangible deliverable, or don’t have an do-by date always, always get pushed back, while things that have a more real outcome come to the fore.

But I am feeling stretched right now. I have three email ids configured on my phone. I am managing two facebook pages, and four blogs now. Networking for the meet has also opened the floodgates to my otherwise locked out facebook id. People have crawled out of the woodworks to add me. I have been outed. I realise at this point I cannot creep back into my hole, so I am going with it. But the result is I am networked to my frikking eyeballs. I am feeling so stretched and spread so thin. Any any thinner, and I might snap.

I want to just hit pause, sit with this massive pile of stuff to do, sort it out one thing at a time and call it a day. I want to put everything aside, and focus on the one thing I have wanted to do, but is getting compulsively ignored. I want to just breathe a bit. I want to shed this compulsive need to keep all the balls in the air, all the time. Because it is finally getting to me. I want to put the list away, once and for all. I want to stop being a slave to ticking things off. I want to stop being a do-er, just for a bit.

That mug stares me in the face every time I look up from my computer. Why sacrifice yourself when you have a whole team to choose from?

Why?

Because sometimes you just have to, no?

And even as I have spent the last fifteen minutes banging this post out, the scores have changed.

To-do List – 15, Revati – 1.5

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 731 other followers