Birthday stresses (and no it’s not about just getting old!)

So the birthday rolled around and this one was unlike any other! I’m the quintessential Gemini about birthdays even though I’m a Taurus-Gemini cusp! I plan for the next birthday the evening of the previous one- so I’m that kinda psycho birthday maniac,

But this birthday I was a bit more introspective and stressed out- had this year counted for anything? Had anything changed ? Did my life thus far mean anything to anyone? Yup I was being a bit more fatalistic than usual. What had I acheived?

And so this time I stressed out before the birthday! And started (like the OCD maniac I am) listing down any positive learnings I have had or impacts I had made. Here’s what I found!

  1. I have become closer to family now than I ever was and that’s a win!
  2. I have more friends now and they accept me -flaws and all! I’ve reconnected with a few who knew me and they seem prouder of who I am today -so there must be growth and that’s awesome!
  3. More importantly I accept me- flaws and all and now can be honest with who I am , especially to me!
  4. I have taught people and they remember that fondly and I continue to teach the people who work with me and that’s amazing.
  5. I have started learning all over again! Online learning allows me to find knowledge in areas that I’ve always wanted to discover and that’s hugely positive for me.
  6. I’ve traveled and I’ve seen and learned more about cultures and places and put into perspective how magnificent the world is and how much more we can do and then gone ahead and tried to imbibe all that I have seen into making a positive impact.
  7. I have cared for animals and loved and looked after so many and got so much love in return.
  8. I have become kinder, more compassionate and learned to love more! I have become more grateful to the God, the Universe and to people.
  9. I have learned that the more positive you are , the more positivity comes your way!

And the list went on and I realised that not only had the years rolled on, the learnings had added up to and just the fact that I had so many blessings in my life, was definitely worth candles on the cake – even if there were more candles now, than cake !

P.s. (Palat says)-: Whenever you are down, look around you and make a list- when you see how much you have and how many love you; you’ll realise that the stress just disappears! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

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I’m never gonna be who I thought I would

All through our lives we’ve been taught to make a difference, do more, be more!

And then it gets to a point- and here may be it’s the impending Birthday Me talking, where you worry- have I actually achieved what I was supposed to have… or was it all just castles in the sky created by my indulgent, loving parents (who btw are throwing a birthday dinner for me tonight- so yay!)… so I decided to take stock!

Well I started out right, topped school, went to Stanford and then I left Stanford prematurely to start acting. Interesting choice!

I started doing films, and started a Production house. One film became seven; the production house put on some truly memorable plays. Each play made me learn to give back to society and be really grateful as to where I was.

I got sick, got Multiple Sclerosis, was told I wouldn’t move but Docs ain’t got nothin on my stubbornness! So up I was and back at work!

I wrote and here I shall boast a bit (allow me, it’s my blog) a truly exceptional play where we toured the world, won numerous World Awards and gave lots of money to a cause I truly supported.

I found a tumour in the pituitary in my brain- didn’t waste a second ,started another company and an Not for profit charity, moved offices.

I have directed TV, commercials, digital, short films and anything that has a story- I have learnt to tell.

I have loved one dog with all my soul and another takes up my heart.

I see my family regularly and it’s still not enough; spend every waking moment I can stalking my husband, who annoys me , infuriates me, challenges me, engages me and loves me.

I’ve not done anything I planned to do when I was a child- but I’ve done so much more than I dreamed of. I’ve lived a life that I couldn’t have imagined because you can’t write lives like mine…

I may not be who I was but I am so excited to see who I will become…so as I countdown the days to my birthday…I’m going to celebrate who I have become with all those who’ve made me who I am on this crazy journey we call life.

P.s. (Palat says)-: You may not be where you think you want to be; but you are exactly where you are supposed to be right now!

When It Pains…

So not much is told to anyone suffering from Multiple Sclerosis… you seem to be part of a secret society where the rules are different for each one of us. But unlike a secret society, we don’t meet at exotic, interesting locations… we usually end up in a hospital- easily one of the most boring, depressing places on earth!

So yesterday was an MS night which means more than anything, I’m in tons of pain, I’m cranky as heck and the majority of my conversations have me doubling up in pain…

Hospital was not an option for me yesterday; so we worked on changing my mood…And I think that just really is the ultimate lesson.

A day is what you want it to be. A day is what you focus on. A day will be filled with multiple distractions- for me it was pain… but you can choose what you want your day to be about… For me it was about laughing with my family, re- decorating a room, getting pampered by my husband and puppy and watching a fun episode of ‘Bull.’

I had fun evening, a relaxed night and thanks to all the love- I woke up stronger to take on today…

Pain – Be Damned. With my team, you’ve got nothin on me!

P.s. (Palat says)-: Find your team, and hold them close… they’re better than the best medication! Also 4 months to the birthday! So HAPPY BIRTHDAY ME!

Happy Birthday Aditya! Thank you for being mine :)

divya aditya-pangkor laut

Happy Birthday to my my husband, my life partner and most importantly to my best friend!

Aditya and I met years ago (he remembers the exact date) during the only Malhar Festival I participated in… He can tell you what I wore and where we were standing…I can only tell you that he was gorgeous then and even more handsome now! Aditya is everything I’m not- he’s polite, balanced, relatively calm and composed and well just all ’round a really nice guy!

Over our years of friendship and now marriage, I have met so many people who have known him from school, college or football and the one thing they all seem to have in common…is that they like him very much and respect him.

I love that. It’s wonderful to think that you have an amazing man by your side….but when so many others say the same… it just makes me beam with pride.

Everyone who knows us knows that Aditya proposed to me when I was in hospital, just diagnosed with ADEM. With left side paralysis, an incurable disease and on steroids – I was the last person you’d expect to be making marriage plans with. But Aditya saw what I didn’t see….he saw promise, he saw hope, he saw me and with his eyes I learnt to see me the way he did! He’s the best person in a crisis, the calmest person in the hospital and an absolute pillar of strength during any ill health (tho like my friend Michael says…”With you and your health, he has no option but to be calm!”)

Thank you Aditya. You are my favourite person to talk to, fight with, argue with,chat with, watch movies with, gossip with,watch TV show marathons with and do plays with!

You’re still the person who chooses my favourite pair of shoes; who fixes my belt on my jeans (yes Gaurav I’ve put that in…cos he does ;)), who loves me exactly the way I am- loud, a touch too honest,highly emotional and always stressed. You never asked me to change and seem to enjoy my erratic craziness.

You’ve taught me the value of a great friendship, the fun in a good debate and that we don’t need a million people around us to have the best time- we just need each other (and Cookie :))!

Sorry for all the times you were right… but you let me win any way… because I am NEVER WRONG :)!  (Since this apology only comes once a year…on the birthday…you might as well take it!)!

Thank you for being the best thing in my life ( yup you are better then a cup of coffee for me (for those who know me…that’s a very high compliment)).

I love you.

Aditya Hitkari. Express photo by Prashant Nadkar, Mumbai. 05/07/2006

p.s.- had to include you with pictures of your 2 girls… cos well both of us (cookie included) wanted to be a part of your birthday post 🙂

Happy Birthday to ME!

It’s that time of year again when I reminisce on the days gone by….on the months and years gone by…. and try and decide whether I did it right…. It’s BIRTH DAY time and the one time year where I take a few moments to think about where I am and where I wanted to be.

So this last year has been interesting…

I’ve had health issues and pain; but I’ve learnt to become stronger and tolerate more pain and fight more illness…

I’ve taken on more work and that’s made me exhausted but that’s also taught me to value my time with family and friends more…

I’ve learnt to trust more and that’s made me happier on show days and allowed people to surprise me instead of me trying to control the outcome always!

I’ve learnt to say ‘yes’ more and done more than I should but have been happier then if I’d said ‘no’ and played it safe!

Am I exactly where i wanted to be in life?

Well, I’d like to believe I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I learnt a long time ago that life doesn’t play by your rules… and you’re going to have to keep improvising if you’d like the song to keep playing… I’ve had a few off keys, been pitchy at a few points… but I’ve found a beat and I’m still playing- learning new instruments along the way but still playing and fine tuning my own original tune!

Thank you Lord for yet another birth day. Thank you for bringing me a life full of experience. Thank you for all the people- the cheats, the friends, the enemies and the lovers- they have each taught me so much. Thank you for the Drama. Thank you for the Love!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

HongKong-ing to some fun sights!

It had been a while since my last trip (when I was a teenager) to Hong Kong. Aditya had visited HongKong last on July 1 , 1997 (his birthday )- the day where the hand over happened of HongKong from the UK to China. We had both had incredibly wonderful and memorable trips to Hong Kong (his more than mine :)) but we had never gone together! It was yet another birthday and we wanted to do HongKong and Macau so off we went on another adventure!

We arrived to the airport and took a train in to the city! They have a wonderful transport system and it was easy to take a quick and comfortable train to the city and then a quick cab ride later we were at the J.W. Marriott! The J.W. Marriott is a wonderful hotel. Calm, statuesque, luxurious and with one of the best Executive Clubs we have ever seen! Incredible views, fabulous food and impeccable service, the gloomy Hong Kong morning had a ray of sunshine for us as we checked in!

The one difference in the Hong Kong that we felt immediately was that Chinese was definitely more spoken and English was a little harder now among the smaller shop workers and in the bazaars. We were given Chinese addresses, for taxi drivers when we did travel and though there was definitely a basic understanding of English- we both felt that the last time we’d traveled to Hong Kong the knowledge of English just seemed a bit more widespread!

I am a Theme-Park junkie and so it was off to Disneyland straight away! The Disneyland though wonderfully colourful and alive is definitely quieter, smaller and milder than Disneylands the world over! There are fewer rides , smaller crowds and more restrained excitement! Not at all comparable to the adrenalin rush you get in California! Still I loved the few roller coasters and made it a point to enjoy every minute of the half day I had allocated for it!

Now if you think I was going to just do a half day theme park and be content- you don’t know me at all. I had people talk about some very scary roller coasters at Ocean Park and so that was where we decided to spend the second half of our day! The roller coasters were definitely more challenging and scary at Ocean Park but the atmosphere less festive and fun! But a mix of the colour of Disney and the adrenalin of Ocean Park made for a fun theme park day!

They should join the two and give us theme-park junkies one unforgettable day!

The next day it was on to the Peak Tram and a trip to the Peak. A misty morning made for a romantic tram ride  and a journey back in time in a wonderfully restored , beautifully kept tram to a cloud-kissed peak! Incredible photographs , warm cups of coffee and a view of a bustling city from an Eagle’s eye view made for a memory of Hong Kong that many do not see… From the top of the world, the frenetic activity melds away and all you see is a beautiful city with an incredible history!

More on Hong Kong (a musical experience,cable cars,restauranting and shopping!) and Macau next week… but now off to a flight (in 2 hours) and to more incredible adventures!

Best Times to Travel-: March- April and October- December- the weather is pleasant and warm though November and December will have a slight nip in the air by the evenings !

Cost-:$500-$600 and the choice is to stay in Hong Kong Island or Kowloon… The difference? Well log on next week and here my thoughts on both!

Koh samuing!

 

As you know (if you’ve read any of these blogs or any of my personal blogs at my website…BIRTHDAYS ARE A BIG DEAL!

I seem to be planning from one birthday to the next and over the years , the planning has become more focussed towards experiences and travels as opposed to gifts and cake- a much more expensive albeit satisfying change!

So last year, the husband decided to surprise me. I am almost impossible to surprise especially over birthdays because my birthday antenna quickly notices any whispering, hush-hush planning or slight change in schedules but Aditya had convinced me that we were going to have a quiet, family birthday and later there’d be a surprise. Now I have to say I think my antenna was slightly less active because he had mentioned key words like ‘birthday’ and ‘surprise’ so I knew there was something planned and I expected it later…by then I was sure I’d know what it was!

Imagine my surprise when 2 days before my birthday I was told at lunch that we’d have to hurry back to pack. We were leaving tonight to THAILAND and to Koh Samui!To get Koh samui we took a flight to Bangkok and then connected to the island. I have to say , now after flying Thai Airways on multiple occasions- whereas the flights to an from India (Business Class) are rather old and quite uncomfortable; the short flight to Koh samui had fully reclinable seats, fabulous movie options and delicious food. I have now stopped flying Thai (unless ofcourse I’m visiting an island!)!

So in less then 24 hours of my knowing about the surprise, bright and early the following morning I was in Koh Samui. We were staying at the W Retreat, part of the Starwood Group of Hotels and a Category 6 on the SPG Scale! This is one of the highest categories of SPG Hotels and it was supposed to be indulgent luxury. Young, fun and decadent, this hotel was the perfect choice for this quick getaway.

The hotel was a 10 minute drive from the small airport and we entered the hotel excitedly. Though most hotels have wonderful web pages with photographs photoshopped to perfection- nothing can beat this magnificent lobby with it’s gorgeous water body claiming pride of place welcoming you to serenity, luxury and calm! With such a wonderful welcome , I couldn’t wait to see the rooms. Our suite was huge(yes I love my pampering) with a magnificent bathroom, jacuzzi tub et all!We also had a beautiful pool attached which was much, much larger than the usual plunge pools. All this and a private sit out , actually sleep out and we had our own private entrance to the beach!

The rooms were perfect and after an overnight flight, we collapsed on to our day beds for a quick power nap so we’d be ready to bring in the birthday with a renewed energy!

The W is fabulous. Once we woke up and made ourselves a nespresso cappucino (my favourite! and in our room!), we wandered for a walk. The staff then pointed us to the just refilled snack freezer which apparently all W hotels have. They’d just filled in some chocolate ice cream and told us it was fabulous! This is how we discovered the W treat freezer. With cokes and ice creams, there are treat freezers , every few rooms for guests to snack on free of charge any time, all the time- another fun W tradition!

And it was time to enjoy some quick Tapas and drinks at sip and take a quick, much needed plunge in the sea!

A short break later, we dressed up for birthday eve and headed to the W lounge where you are ensconced in tables in between the beautiful lobby pool that we saw earlier. Hidden away in between water and the night, this perfect setting was the most beautiful way to bring in my birthday. Cocktails done we headed to the Kitchen Table for some food. The W only has two dining options but 3 bars…so the focus is more on light eats and tapas and some very heady cocktails!

Exhausted we headed back to the room where a cake was waiting to be cut…. Singing and champagne later we settled in for a very restful night after all the heady travel excitement!

The next day we woke up refreshed and charged.We were only here for the birthday and so we decided to enjoy the calm and luxury of the hotel! I would have loved to have visited the Big Buddha but with such a short trip, we decided to spend our time snorkeling,  If you do visit the Big Buddha, you must also go to Wat Plai Laem another active temple surrounded by a lake which is apparently teeming with fish. If you make a donation, you get a bag of food to feed the fish!

Dress conservatively if you wish to visit a temple to not offend tradition and religious customs!

Else step out of your hotel and there are bars and pubs every step of the way… for a night of partying and revelry- nothing beats an island!

For us however it was spa-ing, pampering and a feast of contemporary Japanese at the elegant Namu. With a private dining hall just for us and a specially created menu by the chef and my husband we had a warm , relaxed evening- the perfect start to an incredibly fulfilling year!

Price Factor-: Rooms are between $200- $300! But choose well…remember to get beach front hotels and my sincere recommendation is to try the W!

Best Times To Travel-: March to August. Then remember to take your diving gear along. Koh samui has some incredible diving sites….if you’re not a diver….maybe Koh Samui is a good place to learn! 🙂