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 ūüôā 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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Breaking News

They converted our feelings into ‘Breaking news.’

With Wing Commander Abhinandan’s bloodied nose, blindfolded interview and subsequent calmer interview- news channels and twitter was on overdrive this last week.

And that’s the thing- it happened during 26/11 as well. News channels did whatever it took to get TRPs even if it involved giving out sensitive information.

It happened again.

And it will keep happening.

We can keep criticising. But in a world driven by ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ and ‘re-tweets’ what news channels are doing is only what each selfie obsessed individual is- trying to get the most eyeballs!

It is times like these I miss the joy of knowing a secret, of having a meal that didn’t need to be photographed , of knowing that my exact whereabouts wasn’t traceable every minute of the day!

Today nothing is a secret. Everything and every one can be found. The world is smaller but also infinitely less interesting.

I enjoy going to countries where my photograph of my new favourite place is my photograph and not one that a few thousand people have already shared with filters, stickers and the likes.

I miss the days where wars were not front page news, but creating a new record was; where suicides were not relegated to small print and back pages- these pages had columns and opinions and interesting thoughts and debate starters.

I think we need to start being more mindful of what we share that will hurt or upset or even destroy people. I am definitely not a fan of censorship of speech but I think we need to have a certain amount of self censorship and responsibility towards the larger picture. In our joy of being liked, retweeted and shared- shouldn’t we be mindful of what we represent ?Shouldn’t we also support, share and like and retweet restraint, sensibility and applaud the responsible?

Wing Commander Abhinandan must come home today. The world is waiting and watching. But I’m hoping that his family gets to feel the joy of his return before we make it national news.

P.s. (Palat says)-: Today each of us has a voice. Let’s use our voice to help create the world we want to live in.

The Exhaustion of Being

justbreathe

 

So over a dinner with friends the other evening, it seemed like everyone was suffering the same malady… ‘I’m exhausted!’… ‘Done by 9!’….’Cant’t get out! Don’t even want to!’

The problem, we realised was not age… (despite the snickering yawns) or our jobs even…. it was just mental fatigue and the aversion to just do anything after the very long days we were all working.

A movie, a dinner, friends… were just more work… no fun!

When did ‘stress’ replace the word ‘life’?

When did ‘monday blues’ become ‘everyday woes’?

Between traveling in the city, impossible deadlines and the non-stop desire to keep moving life just became one long never ending day.

Stop. Sleep. Breathe. The world won’t fall off its axis without you.

I had a great night’s sleep last night and woke up to a perfectly brilliant morning where nothing was more or less stressful then the night before… The world hadn’t stop turning and life was a little easier thanks to the fact that I was in better humour!

 

 

To those who said I couldn’t

Remember when you told me I wouldn’t work again… I was scared of what you could do… but I kept trying and I kept working.

And you… you who told me that I’d never amount to much… Well to some people…I amount to their whole lives… so that’s a lot I think!

And to the ones who said I was hard hearted and would never be able to love… well you got it wrong… I am capable of more love than you can think. You were wrong for me… I was ok.

And to those who said I’d never walk again… I don’t walk. I run :)!

And those who said I won’t be able to….I did. I finished. I moved on. And I started all over again!

To those who said I can’t or I wouldn’t- I can and I did!

When you said I’d leave because it was too tough…I stayed . I learnt. I won.

When you kicked me…I got up and fought just a little bit harder.

When you hurt me…I didn’t waste time on tears… I moved on- stronger, harder and more determined.

And when I was laughed at… I laughed with you… and learnt how it felt and never did it to someone else.

For all those who called me back to tell me that they didn’t believe …I learnt to try and help you see… see the world thru my eyes.

To those who hated me- I tried to make you see me for who I am…. But if you still hate me… it’s your loss not mine. I’m a pretty awesome person (even if it’s just my husband and family who says so!)

I’ve lived. I’ve learnt. I’ve hurt. I’ve loved. I’ve fought. I’ve dreamt. I’ve had heart breaks and I’ve caused a few. But whenever a door shut… I found that if I took a moment there’d be another door wide open and waiting for me.

Thank you for teaching me that life is full of challenges….I look forward to spending the rest of mine jumping hurdles and winning the race…

You may never see me for who I am but you’ve allowed me to see how much strength , talent, love and beauty lies within me!

A Venetian Romance

You haven’t known what romance is unless you’ve been to Venezia….you’ll never truly understand beauty unless you go there. I fell in love in Venezia– it was love at first sight and it was an affair I’ll never forget!

You get out of the train station and Venice is like no other city I have ever seen.Water everywhere and water taxis and Vaporettos waiting to take you to your destination! It was amazing, overwhelming and quite literally magical. You dream about the canals of Venice. You have seen pictures of gondola rides but nothing prepares you for the beautiful energy of Venice, the magical sunlight, the singing boatmen and the energy in the air! There are two stations in Venice and the one that is easier to get to your hotel from is Santa Lucia as this is in the historic centre of Venice as opposed to Venezia Mestre which is in the heart of the mainland.

Our hotel was about 20 minutes by water taxi (which we hired for just the 2 of us…to make our arrival even more special!). There are several Vaporettos (water buses) however that can be easily taken at the station as well.

Our hotel deserves an entire paragraph. The Luna Baglioni , a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, was undoubtedly the BEST HOTEL we stayed at in Italy! I guess they quite literally saved the best for last! a minutes walk away from St. Marks Square (Piazza San Marco) the Luna Baglioni is on the waterfront. It is¬†right in the heart of Venice facing the San Marco Basin and the island of San Giorgio and was the perfect choice. Our room …oh my Goodness our room could inspire poets. With walk-in closets (yes more than one), a magnificent drawing room, a plush bedroom and 2 bathrooms ,we were ensconced in plush fabric and ultimate luxury . Then we saw our own private terrace. Over looking the water with some beautiful sun beds , this was easily the finest position to catch the most glorious of sunsets and suddenly I was sad because we were only in Venice for a night.

I will go back. I must go back and I would only stay at  The Luna Baglioni.

Venice for us was about winding down, relaxing and just staying in the moment and if there’s one place you can do that…it’s Venice. We wandered the cobbled pathways, stopped in numerous cafes and shopped for Murano glass jewelry to my hearts content. Now most hotels will offer you a free boat ride to the Murano glass factory but as that would taken a few hours what with going there and back and then seeing the factory, we both felt our time would be better spent just enjoying Venice at our own leisure. The jewelry was beautiful though and I picked up some necklaces which I absolutely love. I loved climbing the little bridges and walking through every lane and bylane. Exploring new corners of Venice… every time you turned , you could create another picture perfect moment!

Piazza San Marco is glorious. The Piazza is dominated by the Church of St. Marks and a glorious ,old clock tower! ¬†With lots of cafes, some of which have live artistic performances and with fabulous food- Venice is an explosion of your senses. There is beauty absolutely everywhere and inspiration in every step you take. I’d have loved to have visited the Doges Palace which stands so perfectly regal but we had no time and too mush to absorb! There’ll always be next time..that is one thing I’m sure of.

After a leisurely lunch and a warm cappuccino , we decided to enjoy a romantic gondola ride as the sun was setting. With a glass of champagne and a very musical boatman…we headed into the glorious canals of Venice. Hundreds of tourists , tens of gondolas and yet you felt like yours was the only story that mattered, the only ride that counted…Venice can do that to you. It can you feel special again and that’s what the gondola ride did… it made me feel special!

A beautiful sunset followed by a glorious sunrise, Venice is beautiful even when the world sleeps… I can see why realms of poetry and hundreds of sonnets has been written about this remarkable gem….

Here’s to another trip to Venice …

Best Times To Travel-:¬†¬†May through to October – it’s summer and it’s wonderful…but prices also peak at this time!

Price Factor-:  EXPENSIVE!!! $400- $700 per night for a 5 star hotel and expect to pay at least 30-50% more on food, cappuccinos etc as compared to any other Italian city

Grand Ol’ Naples

Courtesy -: Travel With Divya.com

We arrived to Naples via the 45 minute hydrofoil (thankfully on calm seas) on a glorious sunny afternoon and checked into the exquisite, beautiful and fabulously historic Grand Hotel Vesuvio!As a Leaders Club member we were shown up to our suite immediately! The suite with its luxurious living room, oversize King bed and views of the Bay of Naples from all its rooms was a real treat! Built in 1882 the grandeur of the hotel was visible in it’s beautiful staircases, charming lifts and wonderfully large suites. There are also some remarkable photographs of Humphrey Bogart and Grace Kelley, Woody Allen and Luciano Pavarotti to name a few that grace ¬†the walls of this charming hotel.The hotel is on the sea front as a no-car zone unless of course you are a guest and need to get dropped or picked up from the hotel. At all other times and most specially in the evenings the huge road in front of the hotel and in front of the bay is filled with children, balloons, bicycles and joggers. There are small cafes across from the hotel and they are frequented by young couples holding hands , gazing soulfully into each others eyes. But then again , living among such beauty it’s easy to fall in love again!

The reason why I am talking so fondly about this hotel because it really reaffirmed a membership that I had recently acquired. Aditya and I travel alot and we decided to spend on purchasing a Leaders Club Membership from the Leading Hotels of the World. Now for all those who travel, and enjoy pampering and luxury as much as I do- this is a membership you MUST GET! The hotels are each unique, as we have found but they all have the quiet luxury, the understated opulence and the ¬†finest service. Grand Hotel Vesuvio was once again a gem that we may have missed had we not been part of the Leader’s Program.

We checked in and as much as I wanted to just collapse and enjoy my fabulous room and all its wonderful amenities , it was off on the road again for the both of us. We had decided to drive to Sorrento and were both very excited!

We had been warned about bad driving in Naples but what we hadn’t been warned about was cobbled roads which made the ride a tad more bumpy than it should have been! Coming from India, we didn’t really feel the driving was that bad- maybe we just drive a lot worse! ūüôā

Driving the coastal roads to reach Sorrento is just beautiful. Relax, carry a duo of coffee and some munchies- stop on the way, photograph, take in Italy at its finest and enjoy the ride!It takes a little over an hour and it is one of the nicest drives ever! Once you reach Sorrento, look for parking! Parking is a major problem but there are parking structures hidden in the small lanes , so quickly find one and then enjoy this beautiful quaint town!

We did coffee and dessert in Sorrento. Lively, bright, full of life and even more full of tourists, Sorrento is filled with cafes and bookstores, shops and restaurants. Walk and get lost in the hustle and bustle of vacationing folk enjoying their vacation! Sorrento is a perfect break on your perfect Naples vacation!

Would I have spent more time in Sorrento?Well maybe lunch and the afternoon and then coffee and apertivo but would I spend the night there? Probably not. It was a lovely quaint town but it was easy to experience and to see in a few hours. If I had come to Italy just to relax , then sure I’d have spent a night but I came on a quest to see, experience and feel and i was able to take in the best of Sorrento in just a few hours and it was perfect- leaving me wanting just a bit more!

Before we knew it the sun was setting and it was time for more photographs and time to get back ‘home’ and luxuriate in our jacuzzi bath tub before our tour of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvious…!

More on that next week…!

Till then let me reminisce on the gorgeousness of Naples and the sunshine-smile of Sorrento!

Price Factor-: 250- 1000 Dollars a night …Naples has affordable luxury- but book smartly and book in advance!

Best times to travel-: End May-September.

Living, loving and breathing Milan!

COURTESY-: TravelwithDivya.com

Italy has always been on my MUST-VISIT list of destinations! I added it to my ‘Oprah-Visualisation Chart’ and romanticized it, dreamt of it, read about the hotels and the language and so when we finally decided to go to Italy- I was really, really excited! now I must confess, I always wanted to go to Rome and Venice ! They seemed glorious and romantic and that for me would’ve completed my Italian experience !Or so I thought! I was so wrong! I was able to schedule some work finally in Italy and schedule some meetings and theatre performances and this May was finally my chance to see Italy. Luckily my partner in crime, Aditya convinced me to see the whole country- from North to South …”Let’s really explore 1 country fully,” he said! And the excitement of doing the Multi city Euro Trip that I had longed to do since college but had never done took over and before we knew it we were off on ADITYA & DIVYA’S EURO TRIP 2012!!!! It was going to be fabulous!

And by God it was!

We arrived in Milan. We were staying at the glorious Grand Hotel et de Milan, a part of the Leading hotels of the World¬†in Montenapoleone –¬†the heart of the fashionable district ¬†of what is arguably the most fashionable city in the world and a stones throw away from the glorious Duomo. Now the Duomo is a Cathedral and you will see many in Italy though none as glorious as the one in Milan. We arrived late in the evening at 5 p.m. and it took us 45 mins or so from Malpensa Airport to our hotel. The scenery changed from stark, to more modern and then to glorious , old heritage buildings and I was delighted to see our hotel was one of these fabulous, fashionable structures!

The hotel was beautiful, preserved and luxurious. We were quickly shown up to our suites and in true-blue Euro Luxury Trip fashion, we washed up and headed off to explore this gorgeous , fashionable city!

The hotel is walking distance from the Duomo so we decided to bundle up( it was pretty chilly) and walk to the Duomo. To get to the Duomo from our hotel, you walk by the historical Teatro alla Scala which had people getting out of their cars to see the Opera. I couldn’t believe we were so close to such incredible history. And then we saw it…the magnificent¬†Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II a beautiful¬†double¬†arcade¬†in the¬†connecting¬†Piazza del Duomo¬†to Piazza della Scala. Piazzas are squares and the one in front of the Teatro alla Scala was naturally the Piazza della Scala. It joined the Duomo square. We walked through this magnificent, bustling arcade on a Sunday evening and witnessed sheer perfection- the Duomo! The square was being used to host a concert and people was sipping coffees and listening to beautiful music while basking in the splendor of the sun setting over the Duomo. This was my definition of the perfect life!

We ordered a pizza (I HAD TO!) and a cappuccino and relaxed in the glory of a beautiful, musical and mellow Milan.

It was off to Lake Como the next day and the train tickets had been booked!

The Milan train station is sensational. Milano Centrale , the central train station is a heritage building , has hundreds of trains coming in and thousands of passengers but also has shops like Armani Jeans, Zara, Guess, Berhka, Desigual…to name a few! Guess fashion starts in Milan as you arrive!!!We arrived a bit early to the train station as it was our first train of this trip and got so caught up with the shopping, we’re lucky we made it in time at all!

Lake Como is 33 minutes by train and can obviously be driven to as well, but being that we had just arrived we didn’t really want to start driving so soon! Lake Como is picturesque, calm and beautiful. It’s a wonderful place to grab lunch or coffee and just let life pass you by! You can walk to the lake from the train station and walk up to some lovely cafes by the edge of the lake and have a truly beautiful and memorable afternoon! The two hands installation was a photo op for every person who seemed to pass the wonderful park on the way to the lake!

But I needed to go back! I’d fallen in love with Milan and I wanted to explore! So off we went- back to explore and back to shop! I had a couple of meetings with actors and performers and some work with Creative directors and then it was back to walking the city !

The shopping is fabulous! I bought my first Giorgio Armani and I loved the Armani store and I loved the chic boutiques with fabulously coloured beautifully ,draped clothes! I shopped till my soles wore out and then bought new shoes! After that we did Apertivos at the uber stylish D&G Store.

Apertivo is something that happens thru all of Italy! Genrally Apertivo happens between 7 and 9 p.m. and roughly translated ‘Apertivo’ means a¬†pre-dinner drink, meant to ‚Äúopen‚ÄĚ the palate. It gives you a chance to relax, and nibble on some wonderful tapas as dinner is approaching. the tapas in each restaurant is different and you get a selection as you order a drink! And truly it is one of the most beautiful ways to unwind! We connected, talked, planned and laughed as the sun set on a busy yet thoroughly enjoyable day!

And the next day we opted for a walking tour of Italy. Walking from the Duomo, we listened to it;s history and sensed the excitement in our Guide’s voice as she talked about the impending Papal visit later this year. We walked down the Galleria to the Scala square where we posed in from the Leonardo da Vinci statue and listened to the guide wax eloquent about the operas at the Scala theatre. From there we walked to the Castlello Sforzeco which had children playing in the gardens, families walking and enjoying the history and tourists like us capturing some unforgettable images!

We also saw a poplar tree!

Now this is important because whenever I walked in Milan I’d see this white , cotton wooly substance floating in the air. at first I assumed it to be dandelions but when seeing this tree I was informed that the tree was the cause for this white billowy substance! Go to Milan , you’ll see what I’m talking about!

And then we walked to our final stop – to see the piece-de-resistance – The Last Supper painted by Leonardo da Vinci. Now, I had no idea what i was to expect.I assumed it to be small, preserved, protected and was sure I’d have to push thru crowds to barely get a glimpse of it. But I was wrong. The painting is 15¬†feet √ó 29¬†ft (so huge!!!) and covers an entire wall of the dining hall at the monastery of¬†Santa Maria delle Grazie. They only allow about 30 people into the room at a time and you can sit or stand any where…You just can’t miss it! It is spectacular!

I prayed fervently in the church and have a slight feeling God was right there listening…and then it was off via tram to Duomo square , some more incredible shopping and a quick change of outfit at our hotel! And then like a fashionable Milanese we strutted to the Bvlgari hotel for Apertivo and then topped off this delicious day with the most tasty sushi I have ever eaten at Nobu!

MUST DO’S

  • A coffee at one of the oldest cafes in Milan¬†The¬†Caff√® Cova –¬†a¬†wonderfully quaint¬†pasticcerie founded in 1817.
  • A walking tour of Milan…that truly is the best way to see the city!
  • See the painting of the Last Supper. See Leornado da Vinci’s masterpiece with all it’s secrets and stories and be mesmerized!
  • Splurge on shopping ! The Italian designers are more reasonable in Milan and the clothes don’t get cut better than here!
  • Do an Apertivo or do a few apertivos! Travel the city. Scour the tastiest tapas and the most beautiful restaurants and enjoy the evening like the Italians do!

Fabulous fashion, incredible beauty and truly delicious- Milan was easily the most glorious city I have ever been to! She is a beautiful lady – fun , flirty, feminine and delightful- not in any way the industrial , boring city it’s described to be. It was by far the perfect start to a legendary trip!

Price Factor-: Expensive ! 500-800  Dollars a night , make sure you get something close to the Duomo and the Fashion District! My recommendations are Grand Hotel et de Milan and the beautiful Bvlgari Hotel!

Best times to travel-: May-September but remember as holiday season hits abroad (May end) expect the city to be filled with tourists. We went in the second week of May and tho there were some tourists , it was still largely empty, local and a lot more fun!