with ups and downs and all…



This year in the month of April ‘The World Health Organization’ decided to celebrate ‘The World Health Day 2017’ with its theme as ‘Depression: Let’s Talk.’  And for having suffered.. NO…having fought depression myself last year I realized that I was not alone in my struggle against it. According to the data available on the WHO website there are a total of 350 million people worldwide who have been fighting depression. And if you’ve been following the newspapers you’d have realized that depression is on the rise like never before.

I remember when I sunk into depression last April; those were the worst three months of my life. From being someone who had always been unapologetically herself I became someone I did not recognise at all. From someone who was never afraid to do anything… I became someone who was afraid of life. Of things falling apart. I felt like a coward. A word I never thought I’d use for myself oneday. Because when you grow up worshipping the likes of Atticus Finch, Jean Valjean and Thorin Oakenshield.. You can’t ever feel like a coward. Because then it would be like letting them down, and a fangirl can’t do that, ever. But I did that. I let everyone down. I let my family down and I let myself down, all because I gave up hope. That’s what depression does to you. That’s what it did to me. It took away all my hopes and my dreams and my ability to see at the bright side of things. I lost sleep and I lost weight. I became weak in my body and mind. I stopped reading books and I indulged in self-pity. I spent nights crying myself to sleep. I could not see the road. You know, getting lost on the road is fine… but not seeing the road at all is scary. I had a crisis of faith and I suffered from low self-esteem. This was also the time when the National Eligibility Test’s results were out, and I’d cleared it and I remember it did not really affect me. I could not feel happy for any of my achievements. Engulfed by despair, I felt horribly lonely and I was scared of my life, or for my life? I don’t know which.

You know, sometimes we bank on a dream all our lives… and when that dream starts falling apart, things go haywire. No matter what we do, things keep falling apart… and sometimes there’s nothing we can do except sit back and see them fall apart. So having reached this point in my life I realized something. Coming to the title of the blog.  Plankton. For those of you who don’t know who these beautiful things are… They are these tiny microorganisms that live in the sea or rather float on the water. These pretty organisms are further divided into different groups most important of which are the ‘Phytoplankton’ and ‘Zooplankton’.  Phytoplankton are the primary producers in the sea, they produce their own food through photosynthesis and release oxygen during the process where as zooplankton are plankton that feed on phytoplankton and are food to larger marine organisms. If these were to go extinct in the sea, the entire marine food chain would break down and not only will the entire marine economy collapse but crisis of food shortage will escalate like never before and to make things worse the world will run short of oxygen. Who is to say the oxygen you just breathed in was not given out by a phytoplankton floating far away in the ocean? We’ll be doomed without them. So whenever someone asked me what would I have liked to be if I were not a human, I’d always say Plankter(which is a singular for the mass noun Plankton). Because they are so tiny and yet so important that an entire ecosystem depends on them. If I said, life on our planet depends on these tiny things, it would not be an exaggeration. For they are just as important to the planet as are the trees.

Coming back to the title of the blog. So when I was battling depression I realized that I was not a plankter for a reason. Because most of these organisms are incapable of horizontal movement. They float with the ocean currents. They can’t help themselves move but I could. I can. We as humans have this beautiful ability to help ourselves. So I decided to trust my life and I decided to help myself get out of depression. I even sought professional help and I’ve never been ashamed to admit that I underwent therapy and that it helped me. I decided to look for the road no matter how far it seemed. I decided not to give up on my dreams. I decided to hang on.

The journey back did not happen overnight. It took time, but I am glad it happened. I brought all these small changes in my life, I started yoga again, I started writing this blog, I got rid of all the things that were pulling me down including people. I lost my tolerance for all things shallow and fake. I stopped setting targets and started letting life happen to me day by day. Hour by hour. I stopped stressing on ‘why me?’ and embraced a ‘Well, well… this is what I am in and I have to get out of it as soon as possible.’ I became an ‘I sometimes read a newspaper to someone who panics on not finding The Hindu in my house. I became interested in History and International relations. I started reading about different cultures in India and around the world. I started having an informed opinion on issues that were important to the society, to the country. I started reading about other people’s struggles and I found inspiration in the most unlikeliest of places. Most importantly I found my road back. I have not reached my destination yet but I feel blessed to be on the road again.

When I look back I see how I was surrounded with an abundance of loving and caring people who wouldn’t give up on me no matter how hopeless things seemed. Thank you for standing by me. I love you. ❤

Oh, and this blog was supposed to be published on 7th of April i.e. on World Health Day but I’ve been crazy busy until this last week so here it is. I wrote this blog because I keep reading about depression cases every few days in the newspapers and I know how difficult it is to get out of it. So dear reader, I hope you don’t ever have to go through depression in your life but if ever you do, or if ever you see someone fighting it, always remember, ‘There is always a way out. Always.’ You just have to look for it yourself because your friends, family and therapist can do only so much…it is only you who can help yourself. There is no shame in admitting that you need help. . Sometimes all you need is someone to listen to your problems. Just listen. Plain listen. Talk to someone you trust. Someone who you think will understand. Half of your problems end there. And the rest, remember you are not a plankter, YOU CAN HELP YOURSELF. Give yourself a chance.

No, it’s not going to end without a proverb.

No matter how dark the night, the dawn will break. 🙂

~African Proverb~



Some days I open a newspaper and I am convinced that our world is going to the dogs.

We have,

  • A post-truth world.
  • Proxy wars that have caused millions to die.
  • Silly debates on nationalism that have shifted the focus from issues of actual national and international importance.
  • Anti-globalization movements.
  • Xenophobia that is on the rise.
  • Famine in Somalia that’s going to cause many to lose their lives.
  • Sexist rhetoric from people in power.
  • Moral and ethical degradation of people that drives them to commit heinous crimes.
  • Growing inequitable growth.
  • Poverty and hunger.
  • The ever growing environmental pollution and an increase in the number of environmental refugees, melting ice shelves, desertification and loss of biodiversity as many species go extinct every day.
  • Languages die and so do cultures.


That’s our world in a nutshell.

Nice, isn’t it?

By the time I reach the end of the newspaper I am filled with despair and a nagging feeling of helplessness. And everything I read in the newspaper in the mornings stays with me all day and at night when I say my prayers, sometimes I wonder..

What is the point of all this?

Of life?

Of this world?

What are we doing here?

What am I doing here anyway?

And I look at all the books in my room and there’s one particular book that smiles back at me. It’s called Gitanjali.

Yep. Tagore’s Gitanjali.

And so I read any one of his poems every time I am filled with despair and all my doubts disappear like magic.

So these days I try to understand the world through Tagore. Especially his thoughts on nationalism, freedom of thought and God. He simplifies the complexities of life in sweet short poems that I wish people who spew venom in the name of religion, race, God and nationalism could read, it would be a much better world if they could.

Here’s one of my favourite poems by Tagore which I hope many of you must have read at some point in your lives:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action-

Into that freedom of heaven, my father, let my country awake.

If he were alive today, he’d change the last line.

He’d say. Into that freedom of heaven, my father, let our world awake. 🙂












The Goal

Every year in the month of December I attend my younger sister’s annual day in her school. And schools, I swear, are one of the happiest places one can ever be in.


I don’t know. There’s something in them that makes your heart sing. Don’t you think?

There’s this vibe of hope and possibility in them. Of big dreams and warm friendships.  No, No, No. Not getting carried away. This blog is not about that. This blog is about something very true Bishop Thomas (who was the chief guest at the annual function) said today… Something that’s gonna stay with me and something I felt I should share with you guys.

He said, ‘I stood first in my class all my school life and I have realized that it is not what matters in the end. What matters is what you do for others in your life.’

He did not mean scoring good marks was not important. All he meant was what’s the point of your education if it’s not making you a better person? If you do not understand someone’s pain and suffering, then what does it matter what grades you get and what medals you win.

Wow. I mean isn’t this something we should all be asking ourselves too?

Is this making me a better person?

If it is not… then what is the point of it in my life?

Because ultimately the goal is to be a better human being.                                                      Kyunki acche logo ki hi toh kami hai duniya mein! We have too many doctors and engineers and architects and IAS officers today, but very few good people, nai? And if you look around you’d realize that it is the good people who really sustain the world. It is kindness and empathy that sustain the world. It is love that sustains the world (Does this sound like a sermon? Okay, bear with me even if it does.). And I think the beautiful thing about all this is that one need not even possess any form of social-economic-cultural capital to try and become a good person. One can just start from where one is and with what one has.

Do you remember when we were young and people asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up and we always had answers ready. I wish someone had told us, ‘yeh sab toh thik hai, par accha insaan banna jyada important hai. Wo nai bane toh baki sab bekaar hai.’ 🙂









All my school life I saw History as something I had to study because it was part of the school curriculum. So unlike college where History was an optional subject I could choose not to choose, school made it compulsory. And so for a very long time, my knowledge of history was limited to what I’d read back in school. Ancient Indian History was fascinating. Medieval was depressing. And Modern Indian history was sad. Reading about how the Portuguese, French, English and the Dutch brought about our ruin and subjected the native population to inhuman and unfair treatment? No thank you. And post modern? No, No. I don’t want to read about the one party rule or the Emergency. Or the many wars we fought with China or Pakistan. Who has time for history?

This was me until a few years back. Pretty stupid and naïve, nai?

But today, as a twenty-four year old adult when I go back to history and read about our struggle for freedom from the Raj, I derive a certain amount of strength from India’s struggle for Independence. From Indian history! It makes me believe that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. So now when I read about the lives and struggles of men and women who fought for our freedom, freedom that you and I did not have to sacrifice anything for, I feel blessed to have been born in India, not because India is a free country today but because the India I live in today is the result of the consistent toil and sweat of millions who fought the British so that you and I could breathe in a free country. A free India.

The entire struggle… Right from the socio-religious reformers standing up against their own people to the fight of every Indian against the British rule. All of this means that there will always be people to fight against all things unfair and cruel. That exploitation and servitude and inequality are not acceptable. Imagine when in South Africa, after being thrown out of the railway for having sat in the first class compartment reserved for the whites, Bapu had gone home, had tea and would have chosen to forget the entire thing as if it never happened. Accept the unfair and move on in life! Or say if Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule would have shut down the school for girls they’d started because the society ostracised them? If everyone just chose to accept the status-quo and stay silent? What then?   If there was no Narayan Guru in Kerala fighting for the Ezhava community or no Dr. Ambedkar fighting for the upliftment of Dalits?  Or if there was no Sardar Patel working for the consolidation of India post-independence trying to merge the 500 plus princely states into the Indian union we know today?  What then?

Today when I read about all the hard work and research that went into writing our constitution for over two years, eleven months and eighteen days, and when I see it as a living breathing document that guarantees you and me equality before law, justice, freedom of speech, thought, expression, movement, profession, freedom to practice any religion and the freedom to not practice any religion! (Especially today when people are being persecuted for their religious faith right in some of our neighbouring countries.) I am filled with awe.

Women in India did not have to fight for their right to vote. The constitution guaranteed a ‘Universal adult franchise,’ something women as well as some minorities in the west had to fight for, for a very long time. Women in Saudi Arabia got their voting rights only last year.

Talking of voting rights, I always wondered why voting was never made compulsory in India. I never understood that with the right to vote also comes the right to not vote. The right to say no! The state cannot compel me to vote because democracy and coercion do not go hand in hand. May be that’s why I feel a little sad about the Supreme Court’s ruling about playing the national anthem in Cinema halls before every movie screening. Respecting the national anthem and the national flag is a fundamental duty of every Indian citizen as mentioned in Part IVA of the constitution. But this along with other duties is non-justiciable in nature. And so for the Judiciary to make a fundamental duty compulsory to follow sounds like a case of ‘Judicial over-reach’. But I am glad that I live in a country where I can say so without being afraid of the consequences.

When I connect all the dots from history, I see a beautiful continuum that makes India a beautiful country we live in today. Having said all this, I do not, even for a moment mean that we are a perfect country. No country is for that matter. We’re a work in progress. We have a very poor ranking in the human development index, the global hunger index and many other such indices.  More than 1/5 of the world’s poor live in India today. There are slums and there’s widespread mass poverty. Corruption exists at almost all levels. Benefits meant for the poor do not actually reach them. Good policies are not being efficiently implemented. And there’s a lot to be done. But there’s also a lot we’ve already done. And that is why I am proud of India and its journey. We’ve come a very long way and it is important that we do not forget the efforts that went into building the nation.  From what we were in 1947 to what we are today and to what we will be in the years to come! ❤


You know, there’s this beautiful song by Kavi Pradeep (The same person who wrote ‘Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo’ after the  Indo-china war of 1962!  🙂 ) which goes something like this :

हम लाए हैं तूफ़ान से कश्ती निकाल के

इस देश को रखना मेरे बच्चों सम्भाल के..

मंज़िल तुम्हारी दूर है लम्बा है रास्ता,

भटका ना दे कोई तुम्हें धोखे में डाल के, इस देश को रखना मेरे बच्चों सम्भाल के ❤

I hope we live our lives cherishing our struggle for independence and strive for the India of our dreams, today and forever.




If only

Very often we find ourselves wishing for a second chance. If only I had another chance, I’d do it differently this time. I wish I hadn’t done that. If I had chosen option A instead of B, things wouldn’t be so bad today and now it’s too late to do anything. Some wrong choices we make leave behind scars and start dictating our lives.

I think of all the self-destructive emotions that we harbor, regret is the worst of all. It slowly creeps in and cripples us body and soul. It drains away all the joy and we stop living in the moment. We live in the past and it’s tragic because then we are compromising with both, our present and our future. And so sets in a feeling of helplessness and self-loathing and self-pity. All very powerful and destructive forces that take a toll on our well-being and leave us feeling defeated.

I think a lot of this is because we do not make any room for mistakes in our lives. Because we were taught that mistakes were bad and were to be avoided. So we grew up trying our best not to make any mistakes in life. Aspiring for perfection and an ideal life! A life that does not have any room for wrong choices, could haves and I wish or if onlys. So every day when we wake up, we are hell bent on not letting things go wrong. Because we know that if we do, we won’t be able to deal with it since we’ve had no practice. Because we are not ready for a not so perfect life and so we start being hard on ourselves to maintain the status-quo.

So one day after all of this trying hard and planning things we realize that no matter how hard we tried we couldn’t help but make some mistakes. Mistakes that have consequences we do not want to face. And so starts the cycle of regret and self-loathing.

My question is why are we so afraid of mistakes?

Why is it so hard for some of us to accept that it is only human to make mistakes and so what has happened, as my yoga teacher says, is buried in the past. It’s dead. Don’t let it affect your today.

I have learnt that if you let go of perfection, step down from your pedestal and accept yourself as a normal human capable of sometimes getting lost and sometimes making embarrassing blunders you’d find peace. Or rather you’d make peace with yourself. You then are no longer afraid of facing the consequences of your mistakes and wrong choices. You are not afraid to try and fix things. You no longer engage in self-pity. You then face things head-on. You break free from your cocoon and fly high. Only because you are no longer afraid of making mistakes and of falling down.

Yes, like every time there will be people to make things difficult for us this time too.

‘I did not expect this from you.’

‘Why did you choose A. B was better, you should have asked me.’

‘I’d told you not to go for that. Ab bhugto!

Oscar Wilde once said that ‘People are very fond of giving away what they need most themselves’. Fukat chi advice!

It is easier for people to judge and pass on advice because it isn’t their journey. They aren’t wearing your shoes. By the same logic it isn’t for them to understand your actions because it is not for them to understand. My friend Roma says, every idiot has an opinion these days. Screw them. And I think that is what we ought to do.

So let me tell you something before I go. It isn’t something new, you’ve probably heard it a thousand times before, but sometimes we all need to be reminded of things we already know, nai?

If you are willing to let go of your comfort zone and reach for something better, you are bound to take risks and hit lows in life. Plans will fail and things would go wrong. There’s a chance you will succeed, but there’s also a minute chance that you won’t. You’ll make some wrong decisions and mess it up at times. But that’s just how life unfolds sometimes. So stop being hard on yourself for all that you did wrong or all that you did not do. Remember you tried your very best so take a pause, find your strength back and move on without regret. You have to go on.

I know it’s easier for me to emphasize the “going on and on” but honestly, it is within ourselves that we need to find the courage to go on. Churchill once rightly said, ‘If you are going through hell, keep going.’ Not a big fan of his, par bande ne sahi kaha hai. 🙂


In my English class in school, we had this one exercise where the teacher gave us a quote by some renowned person and asked us to write our own interpretation of it. I loved that exercise because it gave me a chance to express something according to my perception. It was like trying to understand someone you’d never met. And your only guide to know that person and their story was through that one quote.

Some of my favorite quotes were as follows:

 ‘Tell me not, in mournful numbers

Life is but an empty dream.’

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~


‘To anyone who wishes to amend his life, there is no time like the present.’



What is this life full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?

~William Henry Davies~


“The crown and glory of life is character”



Do the work that is nearest, though it’s dull at whiles

Helping when we meet them, lame dogs over stiles.

~Charles Kingsley~


While trying to explain these quotes I’d write long passages putting my heart and soul into them. I’d give examples from the lives of great women and men (Wow, sounds so weird when you say women and men instead of men and women!). I’d sound so full of hope and optimism. I knew it for sure that there was nothing one could not do. The human spirit has to keep going on in spite of the adversities and blah blah blah.

Wow, I mean things are so much easier said than done. (Also, did I say I almost always topped English?)  I mean all of it seems like a big bad joke now. And the sad part is I wasn’t even bluffing when I wrote all those things. I believed all of it. I really did.

BUT the truth is,

You already know that where there is a will there is a way but that blessed blessed way is not so easy to find.


You already know you should be living in the moment but in reality, you either spend most of the time planning the future or dwelling on the past.


You already know life would be really boring if there were no difficulties and challenges and yet, some days you’d rather have a boring life than undergo trials.


You already know success is to rise each time you fall, yet you feel defeated and weak and lost… all because you failed.


When in an ethical dilemma you already know what you should choose but what if your courage fails you?


You know that however dark the night, the dawn will break. But what if you are not sure whether you will last the night?


The point I am trying to make here is that, things are never simple.  And they are always easier said than done. For instance let’s take that quote by Davies.

What is this life full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?

All of us know what this means. But, is it convenient or rather possible for us to take out that one hour of leisure for ourselves today?

Do we, on our priority list, have ourselves anywhere?

Do we make time for ourselves and for things we love, for people we love and most importantly for people who love us?

I don’t and I hate that.

So today, I, Ashwini.. decide to make some time for myself and for my family and friends and make myself a priority on my priority list. I knowwwww, it’s easier said than done BUT one can’t stop trying, right? That’s the whole point of it I guess. We shouldn’t stop trying. There the beauty of the human spirit lies.


I’ve been reading Macroeconomics since morning and I am supposed to finish it by tonight but then that book made my head heavy and I spent an hour and half writing this post. So I am not sure if I am gonna finish that book today, But then again some nice person said, where there’s a will, there’s a way.


Also here’s that poem by W.H. Davies



What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.


No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.


No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.


No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.


No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.


No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.


A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.


I hope you make some time for you and your loved ones, TODAY!



















A few months back we almost shifted to a new flat until everyone, especially me and my 12 year old sister realized one thing. What if the birds don’t find their way to our new place? What then?

Two years back my mother brought a bird-feeder that hung in our drawing room window for two long months before a little birdie showed up. For each one of those 60 days I was, in my heart, convinced that no birds would show up. You can’t see birds in the countryside these days, in Pune?  Ha-ha! Not happening. But it’s strange how wonderful things happen when you least expect them.


So, one early morning as I was studying for my test, I saw a sparrow come to the birdfeeder. She’d fly away every time I turned a page in my notebook. And she’d come back in a few seconds. This continued for some time until she flew away to come again the next morning. This was the summer of 2014.

And then came the rains. And with them they brought the spotted muniyas. I’d just come back to Pune from Jhansi one day and as I stepped into the drawing room and glanced at the window, there sat a small but fearless bird that did not quiver when I moved closer. That day I realized something. I realized that your courage is not dependent on your size and shape and colour. Your courage comes from what is it that you carry within.  You are courageous when you move ahead in spite of your fear and insecurities. That is what I learnt from the spotted muniyas. Every day when they come to my window I see them trying to rise above their fear and insecurities.



And then when I thought it couldn’t get any better something more wonderful happened. The Bible says God gives us more than we ask for. I never read the Bible but Ricardo kaka once quoted this and I believed him and I believed the quote. So one day as I was leaving for my college, I saw this.



A Rose-ringed parakeet! In my bedroom window. For real.

I vividly remember the first day I saw him (he-parrots have a black ring around their necks and the she-parrots are without one). And I thought, well, I did not think anything. I was mesmerized. I did not even move. I just watched him eat some millet and go away. I never thought he’d come again but, he did. And he brought the others as well. That’s how it works. Once birds find a place where there’s food they do not, unlike people, just keep it to themselves. They share, which is important. And as I write this, I see a pair of these Rose-ringed parakeets in my window making sweet small sounds. I wonder what they talk.


I like how all these birds have come to trust us. When we as humans can’t trust each other, these birds trust us. Which is a big deal considering what we have already done to their habitat.  I like it when the red-whiskered bulbul comes into our kitchen and acts like it’s her own territory. During summers she also takes a dip in the clay pot full of water for birds. She’s too beautiful and so is her song. I also like how when there’s no food in the birdfeeder the parrots make an angry screeching noise and hit the bird feeder with their beaks to bring it to our attention that there’s no food in it. Isn’t it beautiful that all living species have their own way of communicating with each other? That we need not always speak the same language to communicate with each other (I’ll stop here lest I put on my linguistics glasses and talk at lengths about stuff you’d find boring).

Today people in our neighbourhood apartments have bird-feeders too and I am happy that all these birds have many such places to go to. I think you should buy a bird-feeder too. I won’t tell you why you need to buy it because you already know the reason. We are all adults and if we know which party to vote for, we sure do know why we need to do this for our birds.

So don’t wait for summer. Just do it today. Hang a bird-feeder today. And I know it in my heart that the birds will find their way to you!  🙂




FC Road


To everyone who loves and feels spellbound every time they visit Fergusson College Road.

Do you remember the first time you set foot on FC Road?

Did you ever imagine for this place to become so dear to you?

Now, no matter where you are, lights, balloons, cafes, bubbles coming out of bubble wands, laughter and ice-cream still take you back to FC Road.

From old Grandpas to Grandkiddos. This place makes room for everyone. For the introvert and the extrovert. For the spirited and the timid. For you and for me. For all of us.


‘Meeting place? How about Wadeshwar’

Only because Savera is no more and we’re never ever getting over our loss, are we?


‘Coffee? How about the machine coffee at Cake and Cream Factory or at the IMDR canteen?’


‘Ice-cream? Californiaaaaaa!’ *unanimously*


‘Chai? Post Savera… mmm Wadeshwar Or Vaishali Or Niranjan or Trupti? Anything would do actually. (Except Joshi’s because tea in the Indian railways tastes something like one million times better than what these people serve.)


‘Stationery? Venus!!’ Sometimes I wonder whether I go to Venus because I need stationery or I need stationery because I get to go to Venus!?!


And the flower shops. Promising to buy each other those Chrysanthemums and Gerberas and Roses and Gladiolus’ on birthdays. Remember?  And also the occasional and very confident : I do not need anyone to buy me flowers, Thank you. I’ll buy them myself, birthday or no birthday.


From Broccoli to Bhakarwadi and from Thalipith to Momos.

FC Road is a synthesis of the old and the new, the East and the West. The North and the South.

Kurtis, yes. Summer dresses, yes!

Tribal art? Yes!

Modern Home décor? Yes again!

Makes me happy to see this mosaic of people and lifestyles.


Also, remember seeing those really happy men and women you sometimes come across clicking photos in front of the Fergusson College Main Gate at their yearly reunion? That’s us in a few decades by the way.  🙂


And, oh! The Balloons.  Or rather the smiling balloons!

You do nothing but just look at them and you already feel happy in your heart. Brings out the child in all of us. Sometimes you wonder if you’d look stupid if you bought all those smiling balloons. And a voice inside of you says, ‘Of course you Moron! Don’t buy them all. What are you, five?’

Sometimes you listen to that voice and sometimes when you don’t (and I like you more when you don’t!), You buy that balloon and carry it like you are Gollum and that Balloon is your precious. Oh, My Precious!


So full of life. So full of smiles. This place is a universe in itself. A happy place for all of us. Sometimes an escape and sometimes a deeper plunge into reality.  FC road, may you always be the same, today and forever.


And for my people reading this away from Pune,

Ice-cream at California when we meet next. ❤




Photos clicked by : Mukta Dhavalikar

Photos sent by : Smruti Deshpande

Thank you 🙂

























When I was doing my masters, every year in the months of January-February we had this International Conference on Language contact. I know, I don’t look like someone who attends conferences, let alone an international one anyway, but guess what, I did. For two years. And it was fun, and of all the people who’d attended the conference I remember this one woman from Karnataka in particular. She would wear dark zari sarees and put on jewellery too. She spoke English with a strong Kannada accent and talked about things in linguistics I rarely understood (Not because she spoke something strange and foreign but because I was not smart enough!). Some people talked about her dressing sense and said she had no dressing etiquette. She doesn’t understand she’s come to an international conference and not a wedding. And I said, ‘I like her. I like her because she doesn’t care. She doesn’t care what you or I think about her. And that makes her beautiful. The next year she came, she was the same. Same dark sarees and lots of jewellery.  Today I can’t help but smile every time I think about that woman who did not give a damn about what other people thought about her appearance.

Very few people can do that, you know?

As a society, both in the west and the east, we’ve equated beauty with physical appearance. Good body and good clothes, which of course, isn’t completely wrong. But there is more to beauty than just looks. I don’t wax my hands and get my eyebrows plucked. I rarely visit beauty salons. And I haven’t had a new haircut in ages. And there are many girls like me out there. Some of my best friends are just the same. We are perpetually on the *no grooming mode*

We have oil on our heads and our nails are never manicured. We still get confused between manicure and pedicure. And a facial and a clean-up. And you know what, we’re okay with it. Because, hey! That’s not what gets you into colleges and Universities, that’s not what they ask you at interviews and personality tests. But then enter : People.

These are the ones who make you feel like there’s something wrong with you. As if…if you are not well groomed, you’re not good enough. You do not belong here.

Few days back a friend of mine from junior college called and somehow the conversation shifted to how everyone’s changed post-college. And how people who were nerds in college and school.. today look all amazing and fabulous, you can hardly recognise them. She then added, ‘how come you are the same?’

‘In spite of being a city girl, in spite of studying in such good colleges, you still look like that girl from junior college from a small town.’

What did I say to that?

I said, ‘Well, that’s just the way it is and is always going to be, girl!’

Initially when I was young and naïve, I blamed myself for being the way I was. I was convinced it was my fault. But as I grew old and saw more of the world, I liked myself all the more for who I was. I think this liking comes with experience and age. When you are comfortable in your own skin and shoes, it no longer matters what people think about you. People can no longer make you feel less. You don’t give them that power over you. You no longer try to fit in. You accept yourself. You Love Yourself and that makes you beautiful and there’s more to it than Maybelline- lakme-Avon-Revlon-Chanel… (Ha-ha, I had to google the last two!)


I think you are beautiful when You stand up for yourself and for everything You believe.

You are beautiful when You do not give up when the road becomes hard.

You are beautiful when you are not afraid of failure.

You are beautiful when you look in the mirror and smile.

You are beautiful when you take tough decisions.

You are beautiful when you let go of something you once loved.

You are beautiful because you believe you are beautiful and do not need someone else to acknowledge your beauty.

You do realise, this can go on and on, right?  So to sum up, there’s more to your beauty than what the world says to you. And in case you ever  ever forget, You are beautiful! Inside-out!














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