Thursday, December 24, 2015


Christmas is a lot of things for a lot of people. It's the most happy time of year with rum cakes, free flowing wines & Christmas cheer everywhere. For me, Christmas has always been a time when Santa never came home. I would deck up my Christmas tree every year & sit next to it for hours into the night on Christmas Eve & on Christmas Day waiting for Santa to drop a big shiny box with a red bow tied to it.

My parents would laugh & say "Santa doesn't exist Gayu. Go to sleep."; which would make my resolve even stronger to stay up all night & wait for him. Years went by & I still clung on to the hope of meeting Santa.

Zoom forward to Christmas of 2011, the entire family reunited at Trivandrum. My cousin was preggers & the baby was due, end of December. Being a pregnant woman is not an easy task. I still remember the helpless look on her face when we would all sit around her, crack jokes, laugh like hyenas & plan what to eat for our next meal, while she was stuck motionless & big bellied in her designated hospital room.

The doctor finally announced that the baby may arrive on 01-01-'11. Although we had all planned our Christmas holidays for the baby that year, the focus slowly but steadily, shifted from the child to food (It's a family problem. Food is our biggest distractor. Show us a plate of mutton biryani or beef chilli from Azad in the midst of a war with bloodshed & gun fights, we would without a moment of hesitation if I may add, choose the biryani & the beef)

We decided to go to the Leela in Kovalam for a breakfast buffet. We all woke up the next morning by 5AM to pay our respect to the food Gods. We drove all the way from our home in Kumarapuram to Kovalam, for close to 20 kms, in the freezing 6AM Trivandrum breeze. The wait, the sleep deprivation & the long drive was absolutely worth it, because the Leela property was stunning. Surrounded by cliffs & the Kovalam beach on all sides, the view was breath-taking. We were guided by the hotel staff to an outdoor, pool-facing restaurant with the view of a gorgeous beachy Trivandrum.

What followed next, was one of the seven deadly sins as listed by the Bible - shameless gluttony. We ate like we'd never seen food & over-stuffed our faces with every last dish on the buffet. "Eat Gayu, eat. We are counting on you to make this experience paisa vasool", goaded my brothers.

We stumbled out of the restaurant after an hour, in a deep food coma & with the news that the baby had finally arrived. We all rushed to the hospital to meet the bundle. My first glimpse of her was in my mother's hands. She was covered in white & was sleeping peacefully. Our baby! The first baby from the next generation! I was an aunt!

"Gayu, you came here as a little girl & now you're leaving as an old lady, an aunty.", teased my uncle. I realised then that maybe this is what Christmas cheer is all about. Babies, food OD & a crazy, happy, loud family. Santa can keep dilly-dallying his visit to me. I've made my peace with his ditching ways.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Of Samosas, College Nostalgia & Work OD

Post a nightmarish day of work, the bestie pings me on Whatsapp.

Bestie : Hello, do you remember me? Full off grid you are. Job & husband is all you know
Me : Guilt tripping bandh kar tu nautanki
Bestie : Once a month baat karne se aap chote nahi hojaogi madam

And we chat like that for close to 3 hours, until I finally reach home at 10pm. Yes, I suck at keeping in touch with people. I've been accused of this many times over by close friends & family.

She pings me again this evening (like a typical PR person, who follows up endlessly with clients & journalists) :

Bestie : So you stay alone when Raj is not in town? :-O
Me : I want a samosa. I've been dreaming of one ever since I left work at 7pm & all the way back home in the cab. I've called all the farsans near home, they've all stopped frying for the day :'(
Bestie : Do you remember Shirdi? 

Shirdi. Our favourite haunt back in the days, where we spent countless hours post college & even during college hours, to bunk lectures & hide from the prying eyes of nosey classmates & perenially pissed off nuns (I went to an all girls Christian/Catholic college)

Shirdi. A pokey hole in the wall, almost tapri-like place, inside a run-down building adjacent to college. The food was not great. But the laughs & the countless hours spent, over piping hot samosas & kachoris were priceless.

I'd do anything to go back to those carefree days, when our biggest problems were end-semester exams & pain in the ass bitchy classmates. (Life in an all girl's college is not hunky-dory. The cat fights are real! And the melodrama is always OTT.) 

To answer your concern (bestie), I haven't changed. I haven't forgotten you either. My 15 hour work day & 60km cab ride everyday have just made me fuzzy. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Confessions Of A Workaholic PR Professional

Back to work after a 2 month hiatus – a little less than 2 months actually. From vegetating at home, lazy dips everyday in our apartment's pool to writing about things I care about, I had almost forgotten what it was like to be a work driven machine.

My first week of work hit me like a whirlwind, by the second week I almost felt like my machine self again.

New office colleague to me: I need an ambiance to write you know, I just can't write out of the blue.
Me to her: Leave the writing to me. I don’t need an ambience, I can even write from the gutter, if required.

And that’s when it hit me. I’d been selling my soul to the corporate machines for the past 5 years. I’d forgotten how to write from the heart, I wrote for the sake of writing. I wrote to pacify my clients, I wrote to sell their stories to the media.

I get slapped around 25,000 times a day from various audiences (& for the pettiest of reasons) – all those in the client servicing world & especially from the PR industry can feel my pain even as I type this sentence. I'm sure some of you are vigorously nodding along with me. We all have our own horror stories to share with each other - which makes this ride a little less painful. We always try & look at the bright side of things & try to find the humour in the worst situations. 

Hats off to all my bosses & to the veterans from the industry. I’m feeling fried after a mere 5 years. I don’t know how you do, what you do. Cheers to you, cheers to us & cheers to the PR world! We truly are firefighters, in every sense of the word.