The Imperfect Fit

I was never part of any clique (group)- popular or unpopular – I just didn’t belong.

I’ve never been the perfect fit anywhere I think. I’ve always been the one who is a bit too loud, a bit too ambitious, a bit ott romantic. I produced theatre for 18 years but was never arty enough. I won awards globally but then I was far too artsy. I topped school but wasn’t nerdy enough. I did ads but was never a model, acted in films but was never a film actor, never a girly girl or a tomboy. I just didn’t fit in.

And on most days, I’ve been okay about standing out… even proclaimed (bravely) that I relished being a loner… but this was one of the days where I just felt like a school girl who nobody wanted to sit with. It wasn’t even a major deal but in the company of my husband – a popular kid and a former head boy and just a person who fits perfectly everywhere and my puppy- another absolutely stellar creature who makes friends in seconds and is an absolute must at any social event 🙂 I felt like the broken training wheel of a perfect bicycle.

And so sadly I went up to my (much) better half (yes, I was in one of those self sacrificing, sad moods) and asked him how we worked; he seemed bewildered by the question. In his eyes, I am the ‘don’t care a damn’ fighter chick, who’ll take on any person/challenge head on and win! I’m the person who loves with all my heart, will fight with all my soul and will never shy away from any thing or any one. In his eyes, where everyone works so hard at trying to fit in, to be loved , to be heard– he loved that I was an honest perfect fit. “With you,” he said “everyone knows who they’ve got! There’s no pretence just truth” He also , and I say this knowing he’ll read my blog and go the perfect shade of tomato; said, he wanted to be more like me sometimes!

That got me thinking, were we all worried we didn’t fit in perfectly, and was fit that important? I mean just because we didn’t fit within our own idea of what the perfect fit was… did that really make a difference? I mean in my oddball, weird way, I seem to fit perfectly with my more popular family members. In fact I was more often than not the head of this enviable clique! And wasn’t that the point of cliques anyway- to find a place for you to belong? And if I do belong with my peeps… did I really need more cliques?

Satisfied that I was indeed with the best group created ever, I looked around. We’re all trying to fit in and find place for ourselves in this crazy, mad, over filled world. But if we just stop for a moment and ensure that who we are fits perfectly with how we feel and what we believe and then find people who like us for our honest selves- then we’ve actually beat the system and we’ve actually found our perfect ‘fits.’

P.s. (Palat says)-: Look for the work or friend groups that let you be exactly who you are ;that way you’ll never be out of fit or out of style!

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Taking back my strength

The Jury Ad HT Mon 27

It’s play time again for me with The Jury launching this Friday and whereas the word ‘play’ is rather misleading – this is probably the time of maximum stress for me, least fun and no time! Theatre is however an absolute addiction for me… else there would be no possible reason for me to almost cause ulcers every single year!

However this year I learnt something very important- if I allow your worries and your inadequacies or stresses to become my own, then  I lost my strength. The greatest strength each one of us has is self-belief and that self belief comes easier to some than others. However when you are weaker, more tired and more stressed ; it is then the vultures can get to you- the ones that make you weaker, sadder,smaller and less believing in yourself. It’s then when the real ulcers get to grow, when sleep fades and when happiness seems but a very distant memory.

So stop!

Remember when you are tired, you will be stressed. When you are stressed, other people’s fears can take over and become yours.

Don’t.

You are strong. And once you get a good night’s sleep – you will be strong again. Work out the stress. Is it your worry or is somebody dumping their worries on you?

And when you take two minutes to just look after you… you’ll get a great sleep finally.

I did.

Good morning!

This is the week my fabulous show- The Jury  launches! Buy tickets now at Bookmyshow and come back stage and say hi!

I’m not a survivor.

Yes- I have Multiple Sclerosis. Yes- I have a Pituitary Tumour. Yes- I have a tremendous amount of pain every single day… but I’m not a survivor… I’m a WINNER :)!

I learnt a while ago that there are 2 ways to approach anything this serious – 1. Let it control you. 2. Don’t !

I choose to not let fear nor pain nor the fear of pain rule my life. I am incredible and I am all that I am because of the M.S.

How ? You ask?

Well sure.. when we were first told about the disease I was shattered… I didn’t understand it… no one did and it left me fearful. I was left side paralysed and I couldn’t speak… For an actor and especially a person as talkative as me… the not speaking thing was harder than the paralysis…! I could think it …it was just too hard to say so many words…!

And then I tried. I failed. I tried some more. I failed some more. And then I started from scratch. I got to re-learn as an adult how to be Divya and what fun that was!! My Dad and sister would read me the gossip columns of my favourite newspapers…My Mom would watch Oprah with me and Aditya would watch all my favourite rom-coms and comedies with me… and I got to spend all that amazing time with my family who made me realise how cool I was because they were so cool! My Doctor played catch with me and though I pretty much always failed in that…we got some good laughs every evening and I looked forward to the new day with childlike enthusiasm…enthusiasm that I had lost a while before that when work became WORK and family became FAMILY- the 2 things you were committed to but didn’t love the way you should!

And work? Well I decided to focus on MY COMPANY- BALANCING ACT PRODUCTIONS… and when I got up…I put heart and soul in to theatre and the company and it gave me purpose. i was proud to get up every morning because I was the coolest boss to work for! I had no fixed timings…I did short film direction, taught theatre, produced plays, directed videos, directed television shows, wrote television shows, wrote films, created tv properties for clients, ideated, acted,directed, produced and even sang! If I thought it…I did it!

From waiting hours for a shot, and waiting endlessly for the phone to ring I now had no empty minutes…and the phone rang off the hook!And I had to start saying no to work…so I could try something even more new and incredible !

And the travel… Aditya and I traveled every where and we’d pick a country and devour it! Days of research, months of planning and every trip was more exciting, more unforgettable and with more moments than I’d ever imagined possible…

And then last but definitely not least…I married the man of my dreams…someone I’d have only married 2/3 years post 2006 had the illness not happened and all that would have done would have made me miss out on living with my best friend, my partner in crime and my better half (in every way)!

So I didn’t survive… I live, I thrive and I win… and I wouldn’t change my life with all it’s ups and downs because it’s made me me…. and I’m pretty darn awesome!

 

The Edinburgh Fringe

Edinburgh is a delightful place to visit but was never on my map of MUST-SEE , MUST-DO places…that was before I discovered the EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL.

Edinburgh plays host in August to the Largest Arts Festival in the world with almost 50,000 shows every year. The entire city welcomes the artistes and audiences during August with an array of colors and tons of warmth! To spend August or even a bit of August in Edinburgh is an experience like none other!

The Royal Mile is the place to be and with thousands of shows happening every 15 minutes choices are aplenty! You are sure to catch some future comic geniuses and a couple of Hollywood superstars who use this festival to help them re-connect with the joys of live performance!

Our play ‘A PERSONAL WAR- STORIES OF THE MUMBAI TERROR ATTACKS,’ premiered at this festival. This was our stepping stone to international acclaim and it was the passion for the arts and the pure love of theatre this city has that spurred us on to receive all the numerous accolades that were so kindly bestowed on this tiny play!

The city is a melting pot for artists. You will find people who understand your madness, your passion and your insanity. With the vibrance and creativity this city has, your own creative soul quite literally sings!

My Must-Do’s in Edinburgh…next week…

I’m a bit under the weather today and dreaming of an incredible trip is only making me feel more nostalgic and a bit sad- MUST TRAVEL NOW!

A date with History- Pompeii and Vesuvius

Courtesy -: TravelwithDivya.com

Pompeii and Vesuvius are MUST -DO Trips from Naples. They’re not very far – Vesuvius is about 9 km from Naples and Pompeii 8 odd kms from it. The tour we booked was a small group tour on Viator and we found that Viator for the most part, gave us great deals and interesting tours! The tour started post a fabulous, filling breakfast at our beautiful hotel and soon we were on our way. We had barely 8 people on the tour and it was a small, quick bus ride to Pompeii.

I have never been particularly interested in history but had wanted to go to Pompeii and am so glad I did. The few hours that we spent in Pompeii took me to another time. The ruins are so well preserved and the city so incredibly planned , it takes almost no imagination to transport yourself to a forgotten time and to the 7th- 6th Century BC where this city flourished and thrived! Well laid out roads , perfect shop fronts with little houses on top, schools, gladiator training areas and theatres; the planning then was infinitely better than in some of our modern cities even now! Our guide was knowledgeable and interesting and I could imagine the life of a Roman man as he came to work in the city of Pompeii. I stared in awe at the amphitheater and marveled at the Roman spa. I saw holes in the footpath where horses could be tied to ‘park’ them. The vision and foresight was incredible ! I was amazed that a pizza oven even back then looks so similar to a pizza oven now. I also loved how the roads were tilted so that water and dirt could be swept downwards. Should you need to pass there were three rocks at regular intervals for you to walk across. Shopkeepers had a store front facing the road and most lived just above their store. Traders and visitors would come early in the day for trade into Pompeii and after trading through the day , eat lunch in the city. Then it was time for the spa and based on your status in society you’d move to the spa meant for you. Steam rooms and sauna rooms were still preserved and because the day we traveled was a particularly sunny day- I suddenly wished to have a quick plunge myself! They also had mosaic tiles which were still there.Bright and colorful- you could see that Romans really lived life King size!

Then there were also the brothels where in case you didn’t understand the language images were painted on the walls and you could choose what you’d like to do with the prostitute of your choice! An incredibly interesting time and an even more eye-opening experience for me!

What was also really fun were the drinking water taps all carved with Gods and Goddesses with the taps becoming the mouths- they also served as road names and helped in directions for the city. it was also interesting to see the water wells had a small indent for the left hand allowing you to drink with your right.It’salso interesting to note that the water can still be drunk and is drinkable even today!

Molds of people who died during the eruption can also be seeing which gives you an idea of how truly horrible that explosion was!

We saw temples and Piazzas(squares),remnants of a time once forgotten but so ahead of it’s time in planning and in structure, you couldn’t help but imagine what if? What if Vesuvius hadn’t erupted? What if the city hadn’t been lost? A tragic loss.I was privileged to have been able to gain just a little bit of insight into history. This is an absolute MUST DO on any trip to Naples!

And then after a quick pizza it was off to Mount Vesuvius. Here the tour got a little less interactive. You were now advised to trek on your own and meet back in an hour. Vesuvius is an active volcano and is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years. The climb is steep and the black volcanic mud makes climbing tricky. They offer sticks to help climb- take them! Even if you think you can do without them – they help you keep your footing firm. I didn’t take them- I regretted it! The climb is long with very few (almost none) stops to catch a breath. It gets hot. So wear comfortable clothes and very comfortable shoes. The walk down is also tricky because the black sand slips and moves quite a bit. You can also see a black river of ash from Vesuvius which gives you an idea of how the ash and steam moved down from the volcano! Truly terrifying!

An active volcano, a lost city, a dramatic past- history came to life for me that day!

Price Factor-: About $120 for the day trip! Absolutely worth it!

Dress-: Comfortably with very , very comfortable shoes and carry lots of water.

Best times to travel-: August to October.

I’m Divya and I’m NOT an Alcoholic

Courtesy Times of India- Divya Palat’s Celebrity Blog

Mumbai was always the city that never slept! We were the entertainment capital of India where art and artists were appreciated, lauded and encouraged. We had the Indian film industry and some of the world’s finest musical and theatrical talents. If you wanted to achieve anything artistic you came to Mumbai. That was the dream.

And then slowly taxation went too high and it was more profitable for international artists to play in other cities and Mumbai missed seeing Internationally acclaimed live performances and artists because it didn’t make commercial sense to perform here.

Then we stopped allowing music to be played after 10 p.m. at night in stadiums and lawns. It disturbed the rest, they said. Even if the stadiums were no where near residential homes, the music had to stay off. And we obeyed despite the fact that most of us don’t return home till 8:30 p.m. at night after work and a live performance outside in a stadium would have been a wonderful treat for us.

And then the bars and nightclubs started shutting- first at 2 am, then earlier and now some shut at midnight or just before. This is because of our ‘rampant use of drugs and alcohol.’ The youth, it is said, is maligning Indian culture and it must be stopped. Raids are being conducted post 1 am in people’s houses now just to keep the youth in check.

I am the youth. I am one of those people you say maligns Indian culture. I do not drink. I do not do drugs. And I would like my entertainment back.

Music is one of the few things that erases boundaries- casts, hatreds, prejudices all disappear. Music satisfies the soul and though ‘Rave music’ to you maybe the devil’s own song, to some it may be just a form of music.

I agree that alcohol and drugs must be kept in check and the harshest of penalties must be imposed on those who drive under the influence or those who deal or do drugs but I cannot understand why the rest of us must be held guilty despite us being innocent.

I miss watching concerts in Mumbai. I miss dancing till dawn. I miss arguing over movies and scripts while eating a kebab roll late at night. I miss singing with my friends with just a guitar in Marine Drive.

All the madness, the insanity, the freedom to find our own expression- that was what Mumbai was about. That’s how Mumbai created artistic genius.

Give us back the music. Give us back our art. Give us back our freedom. Give us back Mumbai- the real city of Dreams.

‘When the creative impulse cannot flourish, when it cannot freely select its methods and objects, when it is deprived of spontaneity, then society severs the root of art.’ John F Kennedy

P.s.(Palat says)-: Engrossed in rehearsals of a new Comedy for later this month and scripting for a new TV show…and loving the first rains!

Play On ( dedicated to all those I’ve ever worked with on stage and all those who love theatre!)

 

I have been doing professional theatre ever since I was 14 years old. Theatre has given me a home, given me a voice, given me confidence and even found me a husband!

‘Sound of Music,’ taught me to sing and I have been singing ever since. My taste in music is questionable…but nonetheless I’ll sing it for you!

The Verdict,’ is the first play Aditya and I produced. I remember booking all the halls for ‘The Verdict’ without having a single sponsor and then 4 days before we opened; Sponsors came pouring inand suddenly despite us having booked halls for 10 shows we were both suddenly on the phone 24×7 trying to find more free dates at halls! Theatre gave me the confidence to dream!

When we produced ‘The Graduate,’ I learnt I could teach new actors.All my theatre experience could help others and I loved it! Theatre gave me a sense of pride!

When I started ‘Imps’ no one in India had ever heard of Improvisational theatre. I made people realise that theatre was fun and most of the audiences we had had never been to a theatrebefore! Most of the actors hadn’t either! Theatre helped me meet new people!

With ‘My Way,’ I taught new writers how to write and helped new directors put up their first show! Some of them have become very talented directors today and I am proud!

In the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ with my pet puppy Cookie on stage to hold on to ,I learnt to believe in myself again! After my single attack of Multiple Sclerosis (ADEM), I was a little under confident in the spotlight. ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ had that spot light shining on me for hours. I faced my illness head on and won!

‘Starring You and Me!’ helped realise a cherished dream of acting opposite Aditya, my husband, rather than just directing him! I still remember the premiere night’s standing ovation! After all these years on stage…I still wept!

‘A Personal War- Stories of the Mumbai Terror Attacks,’ has won me awards the world over! I won ‘Best Fringe Show’ for a Free Showperformed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; ‘Best Director’ at the New York International Fringe Festival and ‘ Best Producer,’ ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Writer’ and ‘Best Performer’ most recently at the Sydney Fringe Festival. But here I learnt that I am the most thorough trip planner, the worst navigator and one of the best producers’ a team could hope for. We exhausted ourselves in performance but as a team we’re family! I made that happen!

With ‘Love Bytes,’ I learnt that underneath my tough exterior , I have a funny side. I loved making fun of myself and others and the audience seemed to love it too!

And with the new show ‘FourPlay’ I have enjoyed the comedy even more. I am taking risks on actors. I am enjoying myself more directing. This is a show I have written and over all these years with my new found confidence as a writer, comic and a director -I am pulling out all the stops!

I love theatre because every time I think I know myself and all that I am capable of; a new show reveals a side of me that I never knew I had.

Theatre has taught me that I am obsessive compulsive, thoughtful, irritable, unpredictable, stubborn, childish, mature and young! It has shown me that even during my best scripted plays that sometimes the best show isn’t the premiere show; it’s what you do every day at rehearsal!