Like every year, this year too began with a plan. The plan was this – I’d perfect my home, body, diet, sleeping patterns, relationships and pursue with perfection all the gazillion hobbies I could never get to while I worked. Looking back, the year couldn’t have been more imperfect. I’ve had a lot of fun this year and it’s been a tremendous privilege to enjoy my days while my husband brings home the bacon but perfect isn’t a word I’d use to describe the year. I’ve had my share of low moments, questioned my decisions and wondered if I’d make it through this little life experiment in one piece with my confidence and ambition intact. I am amused when I look back that it took me 11 months to get to a place of clarity where I finally decided that I wasn’t going to hold myself to any standards anymore. Better late than never I guess!
I will admit that most of October was spent binge watching Gilmore Girls and unsuccessfully trying to read a book that I could not bring myself to finish or give up. It all changed one afternoon after a power lunch with C, one of my favorite people from work who I hadn’t met all year. I confessed to C that while I was having a great time, I was also way off from my plan and expectations from the year. Admitting this to most people would have caused me to get sucked into my shame spiral but C’s empathy and warmth made it easy for me to say it out loud. And I guess that’s all it took – I walked home that afternoon feeling recharged, finally able to speak my mind and I wrote this post.
What I Read
I started off the month reading “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” by Lynne Truss. The book is basically a book on grammar written in a funny and witty style by a self- proclaimed “stickler” for grammar. It’s not a bad book – I just don’t think I want to spend my time reading a sarcastic book about grammar right about now. I set the book aside after about going halfway.
After that I picked up Oprah Winfrey’s “What I know for sure” without knowing that this was basically a collection of essays she has written over time for her magazine. The essays were good and the overall messages were inspiring but truth be told, nothing really stands out when I think about the book. There are times I love Oprah (every episode of Super Soul Sunday) and then there are times you realize what a huge brand she is – this book seemed to be produced by brand Oprah and not the seeker you see on Super Soul Sunday.
The last book I had the chance to read is a special one. I first heard about Marina Keegan on Katie Couric’s show. Her parents spoke about their gifted and precocious daughter who passed away in a car accident and something clicked when I watched the show – I lost my cousin at age 14 and I know what a blow that loss has been to our family. When you read her one and only book, “The Opposite of Loneliness” you know this girl was special. The non-fiction section of the book especially is so real and reading it you feel like you know Marina and the people she writes about. My favorite stories from the book were “I kill for money” (a profile of an exterminator), “Even artichokes have doubts” (a story on how the consulting industry seems to be lapping up talent that can be out there improving the world) and “Song for the special” (Marina wondering about what her contribution to the world would be – This one had me choking up). This book won the Goodreads 2014 Choice award for nonfiction – Somewhere Marina must be proud.
Dancing to an old tune
In October I took a small step towards fulfilling a long-held desire – I started Bharatnatyam lessons right here in the city. Bharatnatyam is a classical Indian dance form that is taught over many years typically through one’s childhood. The art form requires form, discipline and oodles of grace. Every time I watched a performance on TV or in a movie I’d always be jealous and wish I could be a student of this art form once again. (I quit lessons as a child for reasons I do not recall) We wrapped up classes before Thanksgiving and I can’t wait to be back. I secretly dream of a day when I will be able to perform at my “arangetram” (first public performance) but for now I am ecstatic that I am getting a second chance to dance.
My very own new traditions
Ever since I moved to the US, I’ve always been guilty of letting go of many cherished traditions that formed the basis for many of my childhood memories. Diwali was one such festival that evokes such powerful memories that I couldn’t help but feel a bit depressed that every year on this day I found myself in a hotel (traveling for work) eating the same old takeout food.
Reading this post on my friend R’s blog got the wheels turning and I decided right then to go ahead and create a new memory for this special festival. I surprised PK (weary from travel and a hectic week) on that Thursday with a special menu (Paneer Tikka, Alu Mutter, Parathas and an Apple cake) and my humble attempts at Diwali decorations. I won’t forget how overwhelmed and happy PK was to see this – Diwali has a special place in his mind too and he was so relieved to replace our typical sad, old Diwali memory with a fresh, new one!