Kill Cruella!

I have always been rather self destructive. My parents remember this well, when I got myself in trouble when they were in the midst of shouting at my sister for something she had done and I would suddenly point out something I had done which was worse.

But cute as that seemed as I grew older, I got even more destructive. The critical little voice in my head was almost a shout and I was never good enough, pretty enough, smart enough or worthy enough. And so I hurt myself, I had terrible bouts of anxiety and stress. I was depressed at times and was easily swayed into believing that I was lucky to get anything because I obviously didn’t deserve it.

And when I got sick (multiple sclerosis), this became even worse. Now I was living proof of someone who may never be pretty enough, smart enough or worthy of anything- but something switched inside me. I was stuck so long listening to this evil shouting voice, I never took the time to hear the softer, more encouraging voice in my head. And when I did take the time, and since in the hospital ,I did have just time- I started hearing the voice that told me to believe.

It’s the voice that tells you that ‘you can be more, you can do more and that you are better than you think you are.’ It’s the voice that tells you to believe in yourself and that you are ready for the meeting, for the interview and even to take over the world! It’s the voice that tells you that your body- in pain, fit or unfit- is amazing because it’s yours. It’s the voice that tells you every day can be amazing because you are part of it.

And once you listen to this voice , the evil one becomes softer and slowly becomes non existent, if you work hard enough.

Initially and even sometimes now, when I hear Cruella (yup she has a name) popping up with her fears and doubts in me… I loudly proclaim how sure , how positive and how amazing I am so that Miss D (yup she has a name too) gets the strength to go louder than ever!

P.s.(Palat says)-: How successful you are will often be a direct relation to how much you believe in you. Don’t look for the applause from outside. Be proud to be your biggest cheerleader.

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i FEAR!

Fear.

We sell fear. We buy fear. We live in fear.

We wake up in the mornings and the newspapers scare us. Where we live is unsafe, what we’re eating is wrong, what we’re doing will destroy us…we wake up to fear.

We then go to work, fearing the repercussions of a boss who may one day fire us, a client who may one day not need us, a job where one day we’ll prove we’re replaceable by someone younger, smarter and more ambitious. We work in fear.

We come home trying got do everything the same way we have always done, faring change; lest the wife leaves us, the children hate us, the neighbour bitches about us, the friends prefer other people to spend time with. We come home in fear.

And then we exercise for fear we’ll get diabetes or a heart attack or die. We eat what the newspapers say is good for us till another study prints that all that we thought was good is now bad and we may die any way and then the fears just grow and grow and grow!

Fear starts when we’re young and our parents tell us if we don’t go to sleep ‘the Boogie man will come for us’ and then as we grow older the Boogie man becomes our jobs, our marriages, our life choices …even our food!

We fear the newspapers…we don’t celebrate the victories- big or small.

We fear our jobs- we stop enjoying them

We fear our marriages- love goes out of the window

We fear our health- an the fear causes stress and a whole new set of illnesses.

We live in fear and stress and then the fear and stress finally kills us.

I don’t know how this will work… but this week’s resolution (and I say this week…. because it’s going to be tough to retrain a system which has only been taught stress and fear)- is to HAVE NO FEAR…. I mean… think of the incredible things that I could achieve just with hard work…not worrying about a negative consequence… the possibilities are truly limitless!

Try it with me? And let’s check back on how this felt!

stop hating. start loving.

Last week was important for 2 reasons. Last week was Valentine’s Day – and the one week I didn’t write!

In my Valentine’s Day- I see hearts, and heart shaped chocolates. I see flowers and balloons and gifts and romantic declarations…. and tho you will have the few who ‘do not believe in Valentines day’ ( huh!?) this year the numbers of those hating this day had increased a heck of a lot. Declarations of Anti-Valentines Day/ Wear Black against V-Day were being posted on Facebook and followers had increased. The number of people posting positive , love-filled messages were few and when a girl-friend of mine called me trying to discuss her valentines Day plans , she seemed so very grateful that I still enjoyed celebrating love! She’d called a friend to ask what they were doing for Valentines Day only to be told ‘who does that anymore?’

Who does that any more? Well….I do and it makes me happy!

What was I doing? I was Valentine-ing! I say this without shame and without fear that you will mock my silly rom-com life! I will celebrate love- loudly, unabashedly and I will love it! How is it silly to celebrate love? Most people spend a life time searching for it and when you do…you take it for granted and move on! I hate the people who self assuredly say ‘well, every day is a celebration of love, why should I restrict it to one!’ That’s just a cheap way of not buying gifts, flowers or taking your beautiful wife for dinner! And surely every day you should celebrate the fact that you have life and you were born but you probably still expect a special celebration on your birthday… though every day in fact should be a celebration of life!

To all the haters… take a day off! Celebrate love… celebrate the fact that you are still looking/ have found someone/ are in a new relationship/ single! Celebrate love. Gift yourself something special. Make a list of those you love in your life…. Make a list of qualities you’d like to find in the man / woman you want to meet! Be happy. Happy thoughts attract happy people. Love attracts love! Every day is filled with so many stresses, worries, petty fights, silly jealousies- for one day just go out, dress up and be happy that you CAN LOVE SOMEONE! You CAN fall in LOVE.

And if you are in love or have found someone special…the honeymoon period only ends when you let it end… so smile, dress up and fall in love all over again! Work can make our home go ’round but love makes our life go ’round and sure you may tell your better half you love them every day of the year , many, many times- but for one day- just pull out all the stops and bask in warmth of love!

Why didn’t I write ? Because I was on a journey to my roots with my handsome husband. We decided to combine our passion for exploring with Valentines Day… so it was travel, see, explore and Valentine…!I would document this later. Right then, I was too busy just living– and it was amazing!

Don’t waste hating love or Valentines Day- it doesn’t make you cool…. it just makes you lonely and sad. I celebrated Valentines Day when I was single too… and loved it! The one day you can buy heart holding teddy bears and ridiculously cute cards…!

Love is cool.

Being in love is very cool!

Stop hating. Start loving!

Keep the Faith

The last week we were having a discussion with friends… a friend of mine proudly said that she was supposed to get very lucky this week…astrologically! She was supposed to ‘win a huge amount of money in a lottery!’ That sounded just perfect to her husband except he said … well she was going to have to BUY the lottery ticket to even have a chance of winning! That would be at least half the battle, if of course, she chose to believe her ‘psychic!’

That got me to thinking… he was right! To win the lottery..you’ve got to buy the ticket! To fall in love… you have to meet someone/ go out on a date/ make a new friend/ find a new hobby/ trust someone new! Any thing that involves any sort of achievement needs a LEAP OF FAITH! From making a friend, to starting a new business, to falling in love, to marriage… any thing that’s worth it -requires you to make the first step! It requires you to TRY! It requires you to BELIEVE.It requires you to PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE and make the ATTEMPT!

You may fall flat on your face- once , twice…. even more! But to achieve greatness, to achieve love, to achieve friendship, to achieve happiness, to win the lottery even ;)- you gotta have faith!

Faith is a tricky thing. We’d bet money on horses, put money on cards …even put money in the fourth cousin’s business idea but we seldom put faith in ourselves. We seem so normal, so usual, so unexciting- we can’t be poised for greatness……… BUT WE ARE! We are each poised for something great. We are each capable of brilliance. We are each capable of crossing boundaries, shattering myths, creating new ideas and touching the sky- if only we had FAITH.

Try, try and try again but keep the faith while trying!

They say you never know it;s going to be the worst day of your life…but then again you never know it’s going to be the BEST DAY EITHER!

So keep the faith , cross your fingers and enjoy every moment- TODAY MAY BE THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE!

A day in Amsterdam…!

Amsterdam was the last stop on our best Euro trip ever and we were exhausted! Traveling had been incredible and exciting but we knew Amsterdam would give us the much needed down time that one often feels one needs AFTER a holiday…like the holiday from the holiday!

We were right!

Both Aditya and I had visited Amsterdam before… but when we were kids. This was our first time here as a couple and we were excited!

From Paris to Amsterdam we took the Thallys. Fun, fast, fabulous and modern- this train was a dream! With fast speed internet connection on board, comfortable seats this bright and cheerful train put all of our other train journeys to shame! Travel in Europe- Use Thallys!

After a fabulous, invigorating morning because of a super train ride passing through some fabulous places that I made note of to visit we arrived in Amsterdam! The hotel we stayed at was a Starwood property – part of their Luxury Collection- Hotel Pulitzer.

The hotel comprises of 25 restored canal houses which makes it so incredibly unique with no two guest rooms being the same. Each has their own character and a distinctive and personal. The rooms are small and cosy. Our suite overlooked the canal and was very special because of the large windows which allowed us the luxury of sitting indoors in the rainy weather and watching the beautiful city glisten and glimmer as it bathed in the quick shower! It rains in Amsterdam – it rained all 3 days while we were there. The rains are usually quick and windy but if you’re outside you can feel quite bitterly cold!

Amsterdam is a glorious city. Walk it and you can stop in the many small pathways and find the most amazing shops, the most vibrant of cafes and the most interesting of boutiques. The first morning was spent walking over bridges and stopping at cafes and finding this small , incredible cafe with the best fries ever and lingering over cups of coffee- the perfect unwind!

The mode of transportation is trams or in the smaller roads- bicycles or walking. But know that riding a bicycle in Amsterdam has lots of rules attached and bicycle riders are quite fierce and fast and can give you quite a scare making walking an often safer mode of transportation!

Later in the afternoon it was off to the centre of the city and for a shopping experience like none other. Small boutiques bordered large expensive stores and local cafes stood side by side to fast food chains. Something for everyone and colours everywhere!

The Coffeeshops in Amsterdam are easy to spot… In its spelling itself there is no space between coffee and shop and it is not called a cafe. They serve cannabis and hash brownies among usual coffees and soft drinks and snacks that you’d get at another cafe. I wandered into these more for curiosity’s sake and was pleasantly surprised to see the owner cum server totally knowledgeable and very cautious about what he was selling and even more so how much he was selling. He enquired carefully whether it was your first time and talked you through the entire range of products he had and didn’t push any when I chickened out and ordered a coke and chips instead and focussed on what seemed like a very stoned dog sitting with his master in the coffeeshop!

Anne Frank’s Home is an absolute MUST DO! I was never an ardent fan of the book. I had read it, enjoyed it, but never been really been overly interested in her life. I guess, being born in a different era made what happened seem so unreal, so frightening and a bit unreal to me. Our hotel was a building away from the Anne Frank Home and I decided I wanted to see it. Book tickets online as they only allow a few at a time and the lines outside the house otherwise are very long and to shiver in the rains is not appealing at all! We booked tickets and went in. Suddenly we were transported to an era gone by. With black and white videos, handwritten diary pages and even walls with height marks as to how tall she’d grown- suddenly her life became all to real. Her story told so perfectly and simply through simple diary entries came alive in the small , cramped rooms and the creaky flooring where she’d spent her life hidden in fear. We read about her arrest, saw the records , heard her father speak about her and I wept. Like the tens of others who had walked in with us, this experience became personal, became real and it stopped being about a book. It became about a life- a life lost too early. This was undoubtedly the most beautiful and touching experience that this trip offered me and I was glad I made time to do something that would offer me such a personal experience.

After all the tears I went back to our room for a nice hot cappuccino and we ended up at a fabulous local restaurant which was filled to the brim. With tapas and wine this became the perfect end to a perfect day!

Best Times To Travel-:  June through to October ! But it does get chilly at night and be prepared for rain!

Price Factor-:  $300- $500 a night and do try the Canal House Hotels . They are definitely an experience!

WILL GO BACK…STAY LONGER…SOON!

Parisian Adventures Day 1

Courtesy -: TravelWithDivya.com

And it was off on a Eurail journey again….and my first overnight train from Venice to Paris. Much has been written about this train-the luxury of first class, the food , the convenience.

These are all lies. The train is filthy, cramped, and a totally awful way to cross from one country to another especially from 2 cities as glamorous as Venice and Paris are. The food cart runs out of food minutes after you leave. The waiters are rude, uncaring and probably poorly paid. The rooms have almost no space to sit let alone sleep and most importantly you must not only lock your room at night when you attempt to sleep you must also barricade the door with luggage. Two separate families lost passports, money and handbags on the awful overnight disaster! Since this train makes several stops through the night and since you often only discover your loss in the morning, the perpetrator is usually long gone and there were several exhausted, woebegone faces at breakfast in the morning.

The morning on the train isn’t much better. The coffee is runny and weak, the croissant is hard and unpalatable and there’s no point even discussing the sham of a hole that masqueraded as the bathroom.

This train is NOT WORTH IT! TAKE A FLIGHT- ANY FLIGHT INSTEAD!

Thanks to this awful journey, I arrived very exhausted in to Paris. Now this was our second to Paris as a couple. We decided we wanted to do this trip because the first time we visited Paris we were on our honeymoon! A tour every few hours , staying in a small hotel ( that was all we could afford) and running between one tour and the next trying to cram all of Paris’ sights into a 3 night stay and also relax and enjoy our honeymoon proved to be an impossible holiday. Most of the trip was fraught with arguments and tears because we were so exhausted after doing sooo much! But even in between all the running and madness we fell in love with this beautiful , romantic city. We promised that we’d visit again-with out the tours and the schedules and that’s what this trip was for.

We had taken an apartment at the beautiful Fraser Suites on Champs Elysees. This was because one of the things we learnt about Paris was hotel rooms are terribly tiny. We’d stayed in Fraser Suites in Malaysia and the large bedrooms, huge living room and a wonderfully compact kitchenette! We wanted to stay centrally in Paris and this 5 star part-hotel seemed ideal- even more son once I saw some of the world’s best tennis players staying there with us as they were playing the very exciting Rolland Garros French Open!

We were upgraded to a suite on our arrival. The newer rooms were plush, with new furnishing, facing Champs Elysees and the Arc di Triumph and were large and spacious. Two televisions(not that we got time to watch tv), a large living room with a dining table, a bedroom, 2 super sized bathrooms, a stocked kitchenette and a massive bed and I found a new home in the heart of Paris. This trip was going to be different so Day 1 started with no plan at all and it was wonderful.

The last time we came to Paris , we arrived (like we did this time) on a Sunday and everything was shut! That was six years ago. This  time Paris was bustling on a Sunday- everything was open, everything was crowded, everything was buzzing and alive and it was amazing! We stopped to pick up some croque monsieurs on our way at Champs Elysees and decided to take the underground to the Latin Quarter.

Briefly glossed over during tours , the Latin Quarter with its frenetic activity, quirky shops, arty bars and cafes is a wonderful, bohemian vision of Paris. Each bylane has lots to explore, each cafe has new , exciting food smells and each shop has interesting , quirky things to take away, buy and keep! This area is very filled with students and young couples and is so diverse in culture and colour it was absolutely magnificent walking through the Latin Quarter.

Paris is exciting every time you visit but I believe the more you walk through Paris , the more layers you uncover. Like an onion, you can keep peeling and peeling and discover new and exciting places, people and sites within the city and still realise you have more to see.

Paris is more than the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame–those are exciting and pieces of history that you must see…but walk through Paris,see the architecture, meet the people, sip the cappuccinos….the romance of Paris is all around for you to discover…

We came to Paris first on our honeymoon…but we really fell in love with Paris this time ’round.

More on our Parisian adventures and a special trip to Versailles…next week!

Best Times To Travel-:  June through to October – but expect crowds and tourists! So remember Paris is beautiful but make your own memories….different from the brochure memories that are sold to you! 🙂

Price Factor-:  EXPENSIVE!!! $600- $1000 per night for a 5 star hotel but you must know that you should stay in the centre of Paris for sure (Champs Elysees, Concorde  is great or opt for something more arty like Opera)…then everything is walking distance and everything- amazing!

1000 Facebook Friends doesn’t mean you have friends

Today I take a break from the news and the politics and even the decline of the rupee to focus on something much more personal. Today I take the time to talk about relationships. Today, is a world where you have over 1000 Facebook friends and even more Twitter followers / friends. But even in a world of so many thousands of ‘friendships’ we have almost no relationships.

Why?

In a world of instant noodles and  where between 2-8 milliseconds might be too long for a web page to open, we wrongly assume the same of our relationships. We assume that they are right for us instantly, that it will be wonderful and that there will be no extra work required, and if not , well what’s the problem- let’s just un-friend them, or in a marriage head for a quickie divorce? This is not true. Friendships are hard and relationships even harder. Time must be spent on making them perfect- and remember nothing is perfect. It just must be perfect for you.

And why so much talk on relationships? Well, this weekend I celebrated one of the most important people in my life- my very handsome husband Aditya. Aditya and I have been best friends for sixteen years and married for almost seven. He is my strongest supporter and my kindest critic. He is caring, loving and generous. He is the perfect foil to my outspokenness, my cynicism and my mistrust. He is not perfect. But he is perfect for me.

There are many jokes made about us both being joined at the hip and never apart from each other. But what most don’t know is that we fight, we yell, we argue- but we work! We both are completely headstrong, stubborn individuals with completely different tastes and likes and it has taken time and effort to make it seem perfect. It didn’t just start off that way. We still have yelling matches. Our first bathroom lighting fixture took us 3 months to agree on and in our home we didn’t have a dining table for a year after we moved in cause we couldn’t agree…and that’s okay. Relationships are not about being with someone who agrees with everything you say. It’s about being with someone who challenges you, who makes you think, who makes you feel alive!

So cut out the ego boost and the 1000+ friends you’ve never met and the other hundreds who don’t really care for you and reach out to someone- the one person who make every day count. That’s a great friendship and wonderful relationship and the real reason to be alive!

Happy Birthday to my reason to be alive- my amazingly talented, super handsome husband- Aditya Hitkari. You make life worth fighting for!

I love you.

P.s (Palat says)-: Good things come to those who wait and work for it. So don’t give up on your relationship just yet…sometimes a good fight just increases mutual respect. And what’s  the use of a relationship without respect?