Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Loss IV. The inevatable

Untimely loss isn't something one expects to face during one's life. For instance, I lost my then seven year old cousin to a rare genetic disease when I was in my late teens, my father- in my early twenties, a classmate soon after and my mentor in my mid thirties. 
Timely loss- however expected, one still doesn't look forward to. Loss of a grandparent is one such loss. I lost my paternal grandparents in 2012 and 2015. And my maternal grandfather last month. His impending death was something I expected ever since I was a child considering my grandmother kept reiterating this eventuality. My memory of how I knew that he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease is fuzzy. It was over a decade ago. We knew how it's all going to go down and though the doctors tried to make things as easy as possible for him, it's something that is difficult to control and especially at his age. That he fought through his condition and managed to do most tasks on his own till as recently as last year is a testament to his sheer fitness and resilience. I have seen others give up much sooner.
His condition had been deteriorating exponentially for a year and we knew what was to come. We made things comfortable for him but it was not easy seeing him confined to his bed, slowly slipping away further and further and there was nothing we could do about it. He finally passed peacefully one afternoon at the age of 90. Over the last six years, our lives had revolved around him- to make him comfortable, to assist him for any task, to make sure that he was never left alone and it was hardest on my grandmother who he had been with for the last 64 years. We had his body cremated after which his ashes were scattered around in the garden of his house. No fuss, no  ceremony. Just as he would have wanted.  

When my father died supposedly well before his time, I was happy in the knowledge that he lived to the fullest and without any regrets. I felt the absolute same for my grandfather.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Going Swimingly

Old sketch from the other blog. Yes I have a few.

Pools are back, baby! And I'm back in the pool. I've been swimming better than until two years ago. And marginally faster. I've built up my stamina over 20/21 and it has helped with swimming. Not just that, my freestyle stroke has improved. I used to cross my right arm over the line of my head earlier and was a habit I couldn't seem to shake it off! Who knew a two year break would be what I needed to get rid of it... (Swimming has marginally helped with my running too!) Another thing that this break did: Made me get used to swimming goggles. I never liked wearing swimming goggles as I thought they weren't always fully water tight and would fog up and even though my eyes are sensitive, I would brave the chlorine and go about my day with sore eyes and I was ok with it. But day two of me swimming in the pool I realised that my eyes were hurting just too much and was affecting my swim as I kept stopping to try to clear my eyes. Also, I was seeing halos around brightly lit things throughout the day because of the chlorine and alum. I was done... done with hating on swimming goggles. I had to go watch a movie in the theatre that evening (theatres are open baby!) but I made it a point to buy a pair of swimming goggles which weren't too expensive. I bought the cheapest pair of speedo goggles I could find. (I watched the movie with still slightly sore eyes) The next day I went swimming wearing those goggles. They fit snugly and let no water in and I could swim non stop! Now this was something. The next day I swam a km of freestyle at a stretch. 40 lengths... no mean feat for me! I've been swimming a kilometre regularly since. I decided to finally also join a gym for strength training too! I entered a gym after a good twenty years and it has been going well... (except for the various gym trainers who have at different times and with different levels of passive aggression told me that there's a lot of work I need to do to achieve the desired body composition and weight (Whatever that means... all I want is to be consistent at this and keep feeling better. sigh...)

While all this was happening, my boyfriend needed to go through a major surgery. It has been physically taxing on him but it went better than expected and I'm thankful that he went through it before it could become anything too serious. He is recovering well now. The last few weeks have been a lot with work and swimming, gym, hospital trips and stuff at home, and I couldn't have gone through everything without it affecting me mentally and physically had it not been for my  improved level of fitness. I'm finding less time to while away now a days (which isn't always a bad thing, I would say.)

Friday, September 24, 2021

New babies and what new bae calls me

New Bae

My colleague Pooja had a second baby in August and I have been busy with office work in her absence. It's been intense but also a lot of fun.  Not only did I think I could manage all the office work simultaneously, I also decided it was a good time to date someone new. This is someone I knew but wasn't sure if I wanted to date. Having not dated anyone in the same city for... lets just say a considerable amount of time enough to make one feel like an avid swimmer out of the dating pool and I wanted to dive back in (Makes sense?) The point is, I always juggle a lot of things when I am busier with work than when I am not. I have even updated my blog more times in the span of a couple of weeks than I have this year yet! I've done it all (not everything of course, but you know what I mean) I don't know how efficiently, but I'm focusing more on the tasks at hand and enjoying the process extremely. Yes. The twenty three year old me will not believe the thirty seven year old me. The increased workload is manageable because of the wonderful architects and interns working with us. But I really miss Pooja during client meetings. I have to speak twice as much and I'm parched all the time.

Of the many meetings over these last two months, I was on a zoom call with a client... Let call him Akshat Malkani. I addressed him as Mr. Malkani on emails and on the call as I wasn’t sure if he was okay being on first name basis with me from the start. He asked me to call him Akshat since (his words, not mine) “Mr. Malkani is my father.” It was funny and relatable, but this point hit home when the person I'm dating started calling me by my surname endearingly and all I could say was “sure call me that, but Kulkarni was my father.” I’ve never been called by my surname much and I don’t mind it, but whenever someone calls me “Kulkarni” I imagine my father because that’s what his colleagues and friends called him. It's a warm gooey feeling in my heart and brings a smile to my face. This came spontaneously and sincerely from the bottom of my heart and my client’s comment resonated wonderfully. These two moments have made me smile whenever I think about it... and I’ve thunk about it quite a lot lately!

Friday, August 27, 2021

All in half a day's work and the redundance of an overdue apology.

I wasn't feeling too well yesterday so I took half a day off to rest, recuperate and watch a movie between house chores. But then I had enough of that and went to work around 15:30 and had a rather productive three hours. I worked more efficiently than usual. Maybe I should spend less time at work in order to be more efficient and spend more time at home subsequently getting sick of it enough to leave and go to work. What a delightfully twisted pattern to get stuck into. (I have a sliver of social life left and I try to make the most of it in between this work-home pattern...)
Another twisted thing happened recently, though not delightful by any stretch of the imagination. A few weeks ago, I received an apology. If it wasn't bad enough that I received it seven years too late, it came in the form of an Instagram message. I somehow knew that this person was going to make contact. He had been liking my posts and a friend of his added me on Facebook etc. And he did. To apologise, not ask for forgiveness... (his words not mine.) Yes, he is an ex who (like most exes of mine) left me abruptly with a pittance of an excuse, can't even call it an explanation and never even bothered to ask me how I felt about it or checked up to see if I was fine (I wasn't.) People apologise after long periods of absence from your lives usually looking for catharsis. And mostly because they are moving into a different phase of their lives e.g.: having kids or moving to a new country. Or they're drug addicts and apologising to people from their past is part of their rehabilitation but who know which one it is for him. I have composed elaborate and eloquent speeches in my mind about my response to  such situations but even copious amount of preparation cannot guarantee the response one wants to give. Instead, at that moment I felt nothing. A big giant nothing. he asked me if I regretted it, if I felt sad. I told him as politely as I could that I didn't have any regrets and it all was probably for the best. He told me he was aware of how much he hurt me and was terrified of my reaction. If someone thinks apologizing to me after seven years will make me feel anything, they shouldn't. It is not cathartic for me, it is not life affirming or kind, it's nothing more than an empty gesture and I would rather we just moved on instead. Yes, it takes time for me to move on, but I would take that time and look ahead than at the past.

It's a rare occasion that I quote pop culture but this dialogue from Bojack horseman really resonated with me: "Closure is a made up thing by Steven Spielberg to sell movie tickets. It, like true love and the Munich Olympics, doesn't exist in the real world. The only thing to do now is just to keep living forward."

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The smell of heartbreak... and jackfruit.

It’s been a while since I’ve been through a heart break. Years... many years! But I went through another a few months ago, and I’m glad that I went through something leading me to the eventuality that is the beginning of the end of a relationship. I hadn't been in one for far too long. It was great, but long distance because- covid. But since I decided to break a few patterns I’m used to (namely, telling all my friends about it in real time instead of ages after it happens and wallowing in self pity for too long after) I saw myself handling the heartbreak much better this time around. And ready to move on. Who knew talking to people helps! Someone should have told me this fifteen years ago when I had my first real heartbreak But hindsight is 20/20... and I have to interrupt to say that this phrase has really taken a life of its own over the past year, hasn’t it?

So yea, it smells like heartbreak...

Jackfruits growing outside Auroville bakery cafe
And also jackfruit... someone gave me a jackfruit yesterday and if you’ve had a whole ripe one in your house, you know how strong and warm and lovely the smell is... but it’s not to everyone’s liking. Eg: my mum. So we’ve never even attempted cracking open a whole fruit at home. We always bought bulbs of jackfruit from the market, and just enough for me and my father. Its sweet, fleshy bulb is slimy and shiny and such a rich yellow and I love to sink my teeth into it. With this background, imagine a twenty two year old me buying a whole jackfruit just so I can cut it open. In an place I had just landed in a couple of days ago... In the warm and humid summer of Auroville, 2006. I had just arrived there for my internship, moved to a mint condition youth hostel... no kidding, I was the second  occupant after a Korean boy who was running around frantically chasing after his friend in nothing but shorts, yet stopped in his tracks to bow and say hi as he noticed me in the lobby. How bizarre?! (yet not too bizarre as my time in Auroville would eventually teach me.) And it was a Sunday so I rented a moped to visit Pondicherry, twenty kilometres away. This was a time before smartphones and google maps... or even Internet on phones, but at twenty two years old, one is - well... fearless. So armed with the memory of a four day college study trip to Auroville and Pondicherry in 2003, I ventured out to town, soaked in the sun, explored a few bakeries, bought some supplies, took a mandatory trip to the Ashram (I’m not religious or spiritual, but it has a peaceful vibe I like) and headed back to Auroville. My sense of direction was absolutely spot on, btw. So here I was, back on the streets of Auroville on my rented blue moped when I saw two local boys sitting by the road with five or six huge jackfruits to sell. I passed them by but had second thoughts and turned back. This was my chance! I had to try it out- cutting open a jackfruit. The brand new youth hostel had a well equipped brand new kitchen with brand new knifes. I found some oil, and on the stainless steel industrial kitchen bench and got to work. I thought the occupants of the hostel (three of us including the caretaker) could enjoy the jackfruit but I did such a shabby job that there wasn't much left for all of us.
I have never attempted to cut another jackfruit after that and always leave it to people far more skilled than me. As I enjoy these wonderful golden bulbs full of a warm sweet aroma I think of the smell of the warm, muggy late Sunday afternoon mixed with the mixed vegetation of the area, whiff of the red earth (can’t explain it, but it has a distinct smell) and ripe jackfruit from that day in 2006. That was my defining smell of Auroville.
And heartbreak... it's all too familiar, but that familiarity is also my coping mechanism now. Looking forward to the next one. Heartbreak and jackfruit both!

Thursday, December 17, 2020


From the time I started realising one can like and dislike things, I have known that running is one of the activities that does not fall in the like category. I cannot run to save my life. If a tiger were to chase me, I would just give up instantly because I'll run a few meters before it catches up with me eventually. And what is the point of running anyway? It's not good for the joints (or so I thoughts). Humans can't run fast so we developed gadgets like cycles and the automobile for efficient commuting. It's too much of an effort on your big muscles and diaphragm. I can swim and cycle for hours just don't make me run. This is also partly because I tried running regularly in 2014 for a week or so when my knees gave out and began to hurt badly. I decided that I was never going to run again.
But all that changed this week. A little background: The 2020 covid-19 lockdown and restrictions made me reevaluate my life and health choices and I started exercising slowly building up my stamina till I was comfortable with 15-20 kms cycling and a light 40 minute game of solo squash daily interspersed with long sessions of online Yoga. Surely, doesn't seem too much, but it did trim down my weight marginally, built up my stamina for sustained exercise and efficient breathing, and strengthened my big thigh and leg muscles. Sometimes when I walked for a while, I got a sudden urge to just hop into a little jog (which I naturally avoided, given my past experiences with running knowing I will have to stop quickly.) But this year has brought with it a lot of surprises and though I wasn't counting or looking back at it, it had one more surprise to spare... I could run?! And not just for a couple of hundred metres... A kilometre and even more! Who knew? I started running (skeptically at first) because I was a bit bored of the usual cycling, squash and Yoga routine. I wanted some change and I was a bit inspired to push myself to try to see if I could sustain running. I ran for as long as I could, then walked and then ran again. My breathing was fine and my knees were fine. In fact they barely felt extra pressure! My legs must build up more strength to sustain me for slightly longer distances and I think I will slowly get there. I've run twice this week already and I feel fine! So it's safe to say that I came into running slowly (though what I'm doing right now is marginally better than a glorified jog!)... well at least I'm not hating it anymore... Important milestone!

PS: I am not going to let this blog post jinx the activity.

Sunday, September 13, 2020


Picture of a pineapple becasue... why not.
A picture of a pretty pineapple because... why not.

So I had a strange- I want to say 'thought' today. It's a Sunday and it's not really going well for a couple of tiny reasons starting with a slightly messed up breakfast. Yesterday Pooja and I were talking about how the slowdown has affected our work (Not Covid-19, I really mean the slowdown...) but it might also be because the nature of our work which goes against what most people think they want/need and it's difficult to really put our finger on the problem. In the meanwhile we are holding out, with some contingency measures in place. As I have mentioned before in an earlier post, I have been focusing on me and my health during this lockdown, and I've been feeling quite positive despite this situation we are in. Even now. And I feel that's one reason why this thought crossed my mind. And not for the first time.

A little background: Back when I was a semi famous, moderate local celebrity camera DIY person, spending a lot of time playing, fixing, making and generally doing fun things with photography techniques, cameras, lenses and allied equipment, I had this kind of thought for the first time. I aspired to start a company to manufacture affordable and high quality photography equipment. Even had a cool name for it - 'DRACON' (IKR!) I would have wanted to start this venture sometime in mid 2013, but by the end of that year, M+P came into existence, and that was my primary career focus (In hindsight, it was a fantastic decision as new camera companies is the last thing that would have worked with mobile phone photography exploding the way it did... My venture would have collapsed even before it could take off... similar to so many startups that I am sceptical about and don't hear about it ever post the initial enthusiasm.) I love my work at M+P. Every single moment of it gives me absolute joy and satisfaction and I want to continue and grow it (albeit, at my own pace.) But today, I suddenly that at some point of time I want to get into manufacturing... something. If not camera/equipment, at least some form of it because I understand the fun of photography OR some architectural material manufacturing which is based on the principles of sustainable, sensible and sensitive architecture that I believe in. I don't want it just for myself either. I want my friends and their expertise to be a part of it too... And as any person fresh out of college, I have daydreams of this company being an ideal business practice. Sustainable in all respects, carbon neutral and fair to its people and consumers. All while existing in our wonderful corruption free country with it's pro-business laws, government(s) and bureaucracy and with the self awareness that I may not have an aptitude for business. Such idealism, such naïveté, such... stupidity. Yet, I'm not discarding this thought... just archiving it for the time being. There's a thin line between being brave and being stupid and I intend to walk it and find out eventually.

Someday... someday.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Day of rest, recuperation and relaxation...

... Is what I wanted when I decided to bunk work today. Well I didn't go to work, but worked a lot at home instead (and places other than office). I wanted to give my cycle for repairs and servicing but the technicians aren't available so it's just a bike ride for me in the evening... Maybe I'll explore a different route today. One of the old ones which I loved cycling on back in the day.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Bare it all.

In what is usually not a great look for me, I decided to wear my heart on my sleeve and put myself out there yesterday. The success rate for such things for me is 50% but that statistic isn’t saying much since I’ve only done it twice before with contrasting results. However, It feels slightly difference this time... while the previous two efforts (and I mean that word literally) were a result of the follows: quite a lot of calculated deliberation, exasperation, then tepid confidence, and finally what felt like a short but botched up actual response. Bleh. This time it was impulsive. Early. And I don’t feel stupid for feeling so vulnerable afterward. It may just be age (and the cynicism that comes with it) that’s not playing havoc with my sense of self and in reality making me feel far less embarrassed than I should. But here I am finding myself baring a part of my soul for someone to see, seemingly knowing what they would feel, yet deep down also knowing that maybe I don’t quite know what they feel? Am I tossing and turning in bed, waiting for a response? No. And am I skeptical? Yes. Am I ready for disappointment? Oh... much more than I used to be used to. Now If that ain’t growth, I don’t know what is.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Short hair, don't care.

I've had short hair since the year 1999. And by short, I mean shoulder length and shorter. Just that one time in 2007 that I grew it slightly lower than my shoulder and recently in mid 2019 when I was too lazy to get a haircut. But post lockdown four, I desperately wanted to get a haircut even though my hair wasn't falling below my shoulders. Salons were up and running with strict guidelines so I decided to get a haircut before another ten day lockdown was announced and salons would close again.
This is the shortest haircut I have ever gotten yet. And to be honest, the cutest I think! The hairdresser called Prince used all the tools he had: All kinds of scissors, blades and trimmers and he worked on it for an hour, to give me the most fabulous pixie cut and I think I'll keep this style for a while now that I have a neck and just a single chin!
Because its high humidity monsoon days and my hair are ever so slightly wavy, the longer ones are already twirling at the ends. But I like it! The older I get, the shorter I want my hair to be... but maybe not shorter than this. I think my hair today is the best it's been in the last ten years and that's saying a lot. Never thought I'd have hair updates here. Especially since I've had a complicated hair situation for a huge period of my life till now. That's a story for another post. For now, my neck if free, head considerably lighter and no need to carry ties for pony tails all the time!
Filed under: Feeling cute might delete later.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Loss III

The good kinds, for a change... Yes, I'm talking about weight, baby! Since the beginning of the year I have- through a reset in lifestyle, optimum eating and consistent exercise schedule, lost about twelve kilos of body weight. No small feat this...
And the best result of all the exercise, good food and (still mildly sporadic but better) sleep is that I'm feeling very optimistic these days despite the 2020 situation. Of course it's a terrible time for the world, and it's going to get worst, but hey... silver linings. The world has moved online and so have my  Yoga classes. I attended our teacher's fabulous sports yoga session today and I was sent a screenshot of my Zoom window as I was going into Urdhva Dhanurasan. The pose isn't perfect in this screen grab, but I love this photo. It radiates energy! Shared it with Revati and she said she didn't recognise me! We haven't met since much before the first Covid 19 lock-down after all. Feels like it happened during a different life completely but the last time I was this light was back in 2013, after I fell sick and lost weight drastically (then recovered and gained all that weight back... and some more.) The difference is that I felt and looked like a ghost then whereas now, I look like a happier version of me. (If you're wondering why the zoom window says Cam Guru, my Yoga teacher calls me that because I sometimes help him with camera and photography related things.)

On the personal front, my aim is to keep up this active lifestyle, perfect a few yoga poses and lose another 4-5 kilos till the end of this year. And things are looking up for me! As for the situation of the rest of the world... Well lets see, shall we?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020


What autocorrect corrects my name to. Still quite some time for AI to take over.