Wednesday, April 28, 2010


My worst one was when I was leaving Bombay to come to Singapore. This was over a decade ago but I still remember it vividly. The one specific moment when my friends were discussing plans for the next weekend and I blurted out “But I won’t be there!” And they gave me the look “err yes, you kinda won’t be in the country?” It’s right then that it struck me! Life would go one without me. My friends and cousins would still make plans, go out for movies, meet for drinks, do brunches and generally hang out- only I won’t be there!

It felt awful! I detest Goodbyes (‘detest’ has a more forceful ring to it than ‘hate’)

When I moved to Singapore, I found out that the good-byes never end. Even if you stay put- as I have for 12 years out of which 8 years have been in Tanjong Rhu- others do move. And it does not matter that you are not leaving, you still need to say good-bye.

Last night I had to say another Good-bye- it was one of the toughest ones in Singapore. As I was saying good-bye to not only a fab friend, but a lovely person too. And she has grown to be much more than a friend to not only me, but also to Sanil.

I once read somewhere that God sends people in our life for a SEASON or a REASON. And once that season is over, or that reason is completed, they leave. As their work is now done.

Archana came into my life as both. A season of spring- as I met her right after I had passed through one of the worst and darkest winters of my life. And for a reason- to show me the frivolous and positive side of life again.

Now when I look back, I realize I don’t have to look back too long. I’ve known her only for a year and half. That’s all! But it seems like a lifetime of memories.

Last night when we walked back from a Stadium Waterfront- a walk that we have taken umpteenth times before- its felt just the same. But when it ended and we parted ways, I had to accept. It’s NOT the same! It was our last walk together and we won’t be seeing each other anytime soon.

My eyes welled up and heart was heavy. A person that you are used to seeing at least once a week if not every other day, and you know that you won’t be seeing them for at least many months to come- it hits rather hard! And I had to say it-as much as I detested it- good-bye.

I wish her all the very best. Would I be happier if she were not moving? Yes of course! But I am happy for her? Yes of course too! Archana may you receive all that you seek and happiness be yours now and forever. I shall miss you tons!

A walk down the proverbial memory lane of our good times:

- Watching “Oye Lucky” and being the 2 people who laughed the loudest in the cinema

- Sending back ‘sherbet-like’ cocktails

- But drinking all of the potent ones

- Wine evenings (is this getting too alcohol skewed? Have to list down some others too)

- Chatting about everything from kids to Indian economy, Hinduism to Hindi movies, Kashmir issue to Kareena movies

- The evening walks by the Tanjong Rhu Bay

- The Tuesdays visits to the ‘magic temple’

- The “high” notes followed by jumping in the pool (with clothes on)

- The cake fight

- The Clarke Quay surreal night ;)

- The birthdays, Christmas, Halloween and various other parties in between

I feel blessed to have had you in my life. You ground me, while letting me fly. You let me dream but with a reality check (though I still believe that Farhan Akhtar is perfect for me). And you make it all seem effortless.

Simply put it- You just make life MORE FUNNER!

And not to mention that Sanil has full faith in you protecting me from any “bad guys” out there. Guess I need a new bodyguard now ;)

As I mentioned innumerable times in this post, I hate Good-byes. So I won’t say it. Will say ‘Au Revoir’ instead. Always loved the French term for Good-bye- Au Revoir - which translates as “Until I see you again”.

Love See(mahi)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lost times

Today I found some things. Calling them bunch of old cards and letters would be really undermining their importance. They must be important as I had saved them for over a decade.

They were memories from my first ever job at Ambience Advertising, Worli, Bombay, India.

Silly notes, letters, Garfield cartoon strips, poems, cards, all kept neatly in a file, faded into a yellow colour, forgotten by time...and found by me.

I picked up and read each and every piece there. It bought back a flood of memories. Yes they were memories of old friends, long forgotten ex-colleagues, the fun times during internship days. But what they symbolised to me were the promises that they all once held.

At that time the world holds promise for you- a promise of adventure, a promise of progress, a promise of excitement. You are eager with anticipation. You know your goals. You can taste that success and you know, you simply know, you can have it all. It’s all there waiting for you- the proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow.

And then life happens.

Reality smacks you in the face and you are never the same again.

You get stuck in the routine. The 8.10 am local then, or the 8.55 am shuttle bus now. (Technically I never really caught a ‘local’- it’s just there for effect. I used to get a ride in my friend Sonul’s dad’s car- yes it’s Sonal with a ‘u’).

Coming back...we get caught in the trivial. Trapped in the inconsequential. And forget why we were really there in the first place.

When at work, we forget that it’s not supposed to be that hard. We get driven by results rather than passions. We use more of our heads and not enough of our hearts.

And soon it becomes a job. Not the dream we had once envisioned. Not the passion we had once protected, but a job.

I have been extremely lucky, except for probably once in life when I held a ‘job’ and went to work, on all other occasions I did it for the sheer fun! Yes the career advancements, increments, fancy job titles, all came about- but it was all at the back of doing what I simply loved doing.

And for that I have my Ambience days to thank. That one year I spent there taught me everything a job must have- fun, friends, excitement, passionate people, and bosses who will give you a ride home so you don’t have to take public transport. (Ok, the last one is not really critical, but it was one of the perks of Ambience).

My Ambience Top 10:

1) My fellow MTs (Management Trainees for the uninformed) and the absolutely, undoubtedly, most amazing 3 months “internship programme” ;)

2) Shubha’s 10.00 am and 5 pm cup of coffee- delivered to my desk (actually it used to be delivered on everyones desk, but emphasising ‘my desk’ seems nicer)

3) The terrace where we shared lunches and gossips (more of the latter)

4) Learning the ropes of advertising- yes I did learn many things, it was not all fun and games. Most important lesson- “The best creative work never sees light of day”. I was appalled and saddened, but over the years have realised how true that statement was. But how still creative teams I always worked with, keep on creating fabulous work. Kudos guys!

5) The crazy, silly and utterly pointless pranks

6) The passion that drove all the people who worked there

7) My first initiation into the serious Hindi swear words. “Chutni” which I was sweetly informed by a senior suit is used to describe female clients who were a cross between a “ch$%^” and a “bhutani”. It’s brilliant! I still use it when I am really, really angry

8) The car rides to and from work with the music

9) The bosses who cared

10) The 3 friends I made for life- Divya, Sonul and Monisha. I love you tons!

I wish no matter how old I grow, I never forget what drives me and always find a place to work, where work just does not seem like work.

But few times beat those Ambience days...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

To Singapore

In the last few days I found myself in different conversations where different friends were criticizing Singapore (the usual Indian expat pain points- boring, small, constricted, boring again, ‘nothing to do’, hot, humid, boring once again) and I found my mouth opening to say something when I quickly snapped it shut and bit by tongue for added measure.

OMG!!! I was actually going to defend Singapore!!! When did that happen?? How did it happen?? And for heaven’s sake why?? The only city I ever defend is Bombay- say anything bad about Bombay and do it at the risk of brutal physical harm. So why on earth was I now going stand up for Singapore?!!

I have lived in Singapore for more than a decade now. (And no, it’s still not home. The only city that will ever have the home title will be amchi Mumbai). Every time when there is a Singapore bashing session I effortlessly chime in with the same sound bites- boring, small, blah, blah.

I did not defend Singapore on any of those occasions in the last few days, but I felt a twinge of guilt later. Because to be completely honest this city (country? Island-state?) has given me much more than I have ever given it. Phew! I didn’t think I would ever admit that to myself- let alone publicly.

Singapore has been far kinder to me, than I have ever been to it.

It accepted me from day one when I pushed back.

It welcomed me with open arms, when I only dreamt of running away.

It smiled. I frowned.

It laughed for me (and not at me). And I cried.

It tendered to my wounds. I did not let them heal.

It cared. I simply couldn’t give a shit.

So today I would like to say my thanks to Singapore. Thanks most for all for your patience. For the calm. For the peace. For the courage.

Thanks for giving me the chance to meet people who I would have never met had I been in Bombay. Thanks for making some of these people my closest (and most wonderful) friends.

Thanks for making it so easy for me to have all the things I love so close to me. (For the uninformed, my rule of a good to city to live in is simple- idli-dosa and Hindi movies have to available within a 10 minute cab distance and should not cost a small fortune).

So thank you Singapore! And I will try and be a better friend to you. (I still cannot cause bodily harm to people who criticize you. There would just be way too many of them!) But I will try to show them what you are all about.

Having said that, people define cities by their own experiences in it. So Singapore, I can’t change people’s experiences about you. I can only say that my experiences have been nothing short of delightful. And I can hope you will give others who come here such lovely experiences too. And the people who leave, beautiful memories to remember you by.

If Bombay is the city that loves, Singapore is a city that accepts. And at this time, I need unconditional acceptance more than anything else. So thank you Singapore!

And here are my favorite places in Singapore:

• Favorite place (by far)- Tanjong Rhu Bay

• South Indian food- Murugans (idli, butter dosa and filter coffee are to die for)

• North Indian ‘Moghlai’ food- Shahi Maharani, Raffles City

• Mall- Takashimaya, Raffles City, Vivo City

• Coffee place- Spinellis, Heeren

• Brunch- P.S. Café Dempsey

• Drinks- Tapas Tree, Clarke Quay

• Desserts- P.S. Café again

• Bread- Cedele

Shit! These are all eating places. There really are limited things to do in Singapore! Or its just me, as the foodie that I am, my fav places in Bombay would be eating/drinking ones too. Moving on….

• Outdoor place- East Coast Park (where there is NO MacDonalds or KFC)

• Just for walks- Tanjong Rhu Bay (again) and Orchard Road (for retail therapy)

• Saving the best for the last: My balcony

So here’s signing off and wishing my very best to Singapore (I hope the IRs work out for you. Pls consider removing the S$100 casino entry fee for PRs)

1 April 2010

(Not an April Fools Day Joke)