“If it feels like home, then follow its path.”
Those that know me well will know that there’s nothing I love more than my birthday, and everything that comes with it. The VIP treatment, the birthday love, the bottles of champagne and the unavoidable, next-day introspection. Two weeks ago, I turned 24. I had the time of my life, surrounded by positive, beautiful people. As always, the elation was followed by contemplation, and this is what came out of it: a list of things that I absolutely, definitely know for sure.
01. Committing yourself to healthy living, even in the smallest of ways, is the best gift that you can give your body and your mind. My exercise routine has completely transformed my life.
02. The human mind is incredibly strong. In fact, it’s stronger than you give it credit for, and it can push through the worst of times. Nurture and nourish your mind; it is one of your greatest assets.
03. Self-love and the romantic type of love are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they complement each other. I’ve come to realise that without being comfortable and confident in your own skin, you will never be able to open yourself up to love from someone else.
04. If the opportunity to travel presents itself, cease it! I’m fortunate that my work has given me the opportunity to travel, within India and outside of it. While I do detest the rush of short, two-day business trips, I am ever grateful for the chance to explore a new country and to meet new people.
05. In the same line of thinking, I’ve come to fiercely believe that money spent on travelling is never wasted, only invested. Last year, I visited Japan and Dubai. This year, I’m travelling to Germany, Italy and Spain. Slowly, but surely, I’m ticking beautiful places off my bucket list.
06. You could work bloody hard, and you could still fail. Sh*t happens. Make yourself a strong drink, play some upbeat music and put yourself together. Tomorrow is another chance to get it right.
07. Reading is one of the best habits that you could ever have. If you have it, never let it go. If you don’t have it, start now. I’m incredibly lucky that my father and grandfather were voracious readers, and that they were able to instil this passion in me, too. Last year, there was a six-month period where I didn’t read a single book. I remember feeling hollow, dull and uninspired. Luckily, that phase is over now. In fact, I currently have three books on my nightstand: Barefoot In Baghdad, A Little Life and Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking.
08. Say ‘thank you’ to your taxi driver, to your cashier, to your intern. Gratitude is the name of the game.
09. You never really know where life will take you, and chances are, it won’t be where you thought. While it’s totally okay to go with the flow (we’re all winging it, anyway), it’s not okay to not have game plan. And that should always include your Plan B.
10. People can change, and often, they do. While first impressions speak volumes, never doubt the ability of someone to turn themselves around. If only you gave them a chance to show you.
11. Birthday cookies > birthday cakes.
12. Surround yourself with people who push you to better yourself, every single day. If your circle is full of people who you admire and respect, you will automatically want to better yourself, and the inspiration will be right there for you to soak up.
13. The joy of building things is incomparable. As a child, I thoroughly enjoyed craft. I would make my own jewellery, alter my own clothes with studs and sequins, and create clay bowls for my mother. Somewhere over the years, I stopped using my hands. Recently, I walked into my favourite craft store and felt like I had stepped into Disneyland. I picked up a lot of bits and bobs, and my first project was to create my very own Decoden-inspired phone case.
14. Sometimes, a good night of sleep is exactly what you need.
15. As you grow older, you will meet and reconnect with people from your past. Your relationship with some of these people may have turned sour. With others, perhaps, it simply faded away. Regardless, when you do meet them, you will enjoy conversing and getting to know them again, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
16. If you think of a brilliant idea, act on it, pronto. I mean, right now. Because if you don’t, someone else will. And before you know it, you’ll be reading their success story in the newspaper.
17. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with breaking the mould. In fact, you should do it, over and over again. However, there’s a certain comfort in convention, too. The trick is to find your sweet spot; your very own, personal, perfect balance.
18. No matter how hard you try, you cannot change people. It’s pointless to try. Spend your energy somewhere else.
You have the one year diary, the five year plans, the ten year goals. You have the big dreams, the bright eyes and the beautiful boldness that it takes to reach where you want/need to be. You have the fire in your veins and constant itch to do more, to be more, to see more. You have the means and the brains to make it. So, darling, why do you feel so lost?
Sometimes, I feel like I am in a constant state of freaking out and fretting, of wondering and worrying. I mean, nothing screams ‘early twenties’ like a good old panic attack about your life choices and the fact that everything you do today will impact the rest of your life, right? Right. But I’ve also come to realize that your biggest achievements and your most profound experiences will arise out of this very panic. Some of the best things I have ever done have arisen from a place of complete disorientation and restlessness. So, breathe. Let it happen. Embrace the uncertainty. Buy that ticket. Pack your bags. Come home after three months. Sometimes, running away is the only way to return.
But promise me one thing – that you will use ‘the drift’ to reconnect with your big dreams. Can you remember what you were incredibly passionate about before you lost your way? What made you tick? Today – this state of feeling utterly confused and directionless – is the best damn time to fall in love with that dream all over again. More often that not, though, when you get down to thinking, you will realize that you have changed fundamentally. Your dreams have changed too. And hey, that is A-okay. Articulate your new dreams. Write them up in big, bold letters and stare at them everyday. Pull out that diary and strategize. Draw up your game plan. This is your resurrection.
Don’t you see? Losing your path was the best thing that could happen to you. How else would you have received one more chance to find yourself? Don’t be afraid to admit that you are lost. The person who comes out of this disorientation might knock your socks off, in the best way possible.
At the beginning of last year, I made many promises to myself – some of which I managed to keep and others which did not cross my mind after the first week of January. The latter occurred because I didn’t hold myself accountable for making good on these personal promises, because I didn’t document them as I usually do and because words like “promise” are rather lofty and intimidating in my mind (if you don’t keep up to it, you have disappointed the key party involved – typically, yourself). Most of my promises were also framed in a way that implied removing something from my life (e.g. I will quit sugar for one year) or implementing constraints on myself (e.g. I will limit myself to one shopping trip per month), and I’ve now realised that statements with negative connotations simply don’t work for me. In fact, the promises where I intended to do more of something were the ones I honoured (e.g. I will travel more.)
So rather than making promises that I may or may not keep, resolutions that I most certainly won’t and restrictions that turn me off, the only thing I want to do is more of everything that makes me happy – five key things in particular!
I’ve always been a voracious reader but last year was a very disappointing year on the literary front. I scarcely managed to finish a book a month with my interest flitting from here to there and my mind never in one place. From whatever I did complete, not one book managed to make it to my all-time favourites. Not one! 2016 is the year of rekindling my love for new words and the smell of old books. My first book of the year is Past Continuous by Neel Mukherjee, an author who has been compared to Amitav Ghosh. I’d like to complete the book before I comment on that comparison, but I will say that it is piquing my interest with every page I turn.
Last year, I stopped writing. Actually, I chugged along for a short while, with jerks and shudders, and then stopped altogether, like a broken toy train. This year, I want to make more time for writing – my first and forever love. I plan to start with free writing, because I know that jumping head first into full-fledged creative writing is no easy feat, especially for a rusty writer. It is also important for me to keep soaking up inspiration, and I hope that my emphasis on reading will allow me to do that. I also plan to restart an old ritual of mine: learning a new word every day, and then reviewing my list of seven at the end of each week. Here’s to writing more and writing bold!
Those of you who have known me for a long time will know that I have incredibly moody skin. As a result, I’ve never been head-over-heels into makeup, but towards the end of last year, I started developing an interest in skincare and I have seen – first hand – that a little bit of TLC for your epidermis can go a long way. This year, I want to find my ultimate skincare routine and make it a point to pamper my skin with lots of water, lots of fruit, weekly mud packs and regular facials.
Health and Fitness
Like skincare, I restarted my health and fitness journey in the second half of last year – only to fall off the bandwagon when December rolled around. I knew that fighting against it was pointless, so I allowed myself the downtime, and jumped back onto the train in January. Last year, I experimented a lot with my diet and various exercise routines, and I learned that extremities do not work for me. I simply cannot keep them going for more than two months, so I need to find a diet and exercise routine that I can incorporate into my lifestyle without it seeming like too much of an effort or constraint. I also learned that I get bored of exercise routines very quickly, so I need to keep alternating my workouts to keep it interesting. This year, I want to make health and fitness a indisputable part of my lifestyle, rather than something I occasionally partake in. Healthy body, healthy mind.
The most important thing that I want to do this year is to declutter my life of wasteful material possessions that I do not need, do not like or do not use. My method may not be as extreme as Marie Kondo’s prescription in The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, but I plan to incorporate tidbits of advice from her method wherever possible. I am starting with my wardrobe. Last night, I went through my extensive dress collection and pulled out almost twenty items that I have not worn in over a year. I tossed them into a bag, and put up a listing on a website that allows you to sell your gently used clothing. Slowly but surely, I plan to go through everything I own and remove the things that I don’t need. I’m already feeling better.
What do you want to make more time for in 2016? I’d love to know.
Hoping that you achieve everything you set your mind to this year,
2015 has been a whirlwind year in the best way possible. The twelve months that have passed have been marked by many changes, many adventures and many nights of love and laughter. I started the year with a new job at a global brand consultancy and met some ah-mazing people who turned into close friends. I worked with many leading brands, moving up my learning curve with every project. I decided to push my application to business school by one year, so that I could learn more and do more. I turned 23 and spent the day at Disneyland. I took 23 flights, across the country and across the globe. I visited one of my favourite cities and fell in love with its beat all over again. I had a Bloody Mary on the 123rd floor of the tallest building in the world. I was reminded, yet again, of the importance of looking after my body, and jumped back onto the fitness bandwagon. I experimented with eyelash extensions and felt like a shiny, new person. I spent many nights wondering what the world had in store for me and I learned to let it be; to let it unwind as it will.
I think the most profound lesson I learned this year, however, was this: happiness will not come knocking at your door; you have to actively run towards it, every single day. It requires you to be proactive; to actively seek out the people, the places and the activities that bring a smile to your face – and to make more time for them. And that’s exactly what I plan to do in 2016. An important part of my “happy list” is writing – regretfully, something that I have not made much time for in 2015 – so it is imperative that I give this space the attention it deserves this year. I hope that you will forgive me for my absence and join me as I restart this journey.
Hoping that 2016 brings you nothing but the best,
Although it has been over a month since my trip to the Land of The Rising Sun, I still think about those magical two weeks everyday. I firmly believe that the best stories are found between the pages of a passport and this trip was a testament to the truth in that statement. To chronicle every minute of every day on this platform is quite the challenge so I have decide to make things simpler with an express narrative of my holiday.
Without further ado, I present the highlights of our time in Tokyo!
If you love the “big city, bright lights” life as much as I do, this district is right up your alley. The best part about Shinjuku, apart from the fact that it is centrally located, is the constant energy that fills the place. It houses a plethora of izakayas (traditional Japanese bars with amazing food and ridiculously cheap beer) and retail outlets, as well as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which is great for a bird’s eye view of the city. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay!
A trip to Tokyo is incomplete without a visit to Harajuku, especially Takeshita Dori. Harajuku is a world of it’s own and home to the quirkiest street style that I have ever laid eyes on. In fact, I loved the vibe so much that I ended up visiting the area twice to soak it all in. We also discovered Chiles Mexican Grill in a small by-lane off Takeshita Dori – they make the most amazing fajitas and their Cholula hot sauce is everything.
Words cannot do justice to how beautiful Meiji Shrine is. Although it lies in the heart of the city, it is removed from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Meiji Shrine is quiet and ethereal. Like most shrines in Tokyo, Meiji Shrine allowed visitors to write their prayers onto wooden plaques that are eventually hung on a tree. I remember reading some of those prayers and feeling moved within the core of my being. If you are looking for a haven within Tokyo, this is it.
We were lucky enough to be in Tokyo during the semi-finals of an important sumo-wrestling tournament and watch some of the best wrestlers take each other on. Although the commentary was entirely in Japanese, we slowly managed to understand the rules of the sport and by the end of the day; we had chosen our favourite wrestlers. The spirit that filled the stadium was absolutely infectious!
Cruise from Asakusa to Odaiba
Odaiba is a beautiful artificial island with the vibes of a modern day beach town. To reach Odaiba, we boarded a stunning cruise ship that looked more like a space vehicle than a water vessel. Covered from glass on all sides, the ship gives you an amazing view of the Tokyo skyline as you cruise down the Sumida River with a glass of chilled beer in hand. We definitely had a few Titanic moments on the upper deck, too. Absolutely amazing!
The minute I started researching all that Tokyo had to offer, I knew that I was not leaving the city without visiting this restaurant. How can you resist an entrance that resembles a dungeon (with a drawbridge to boot!), waiters enacting ninjas, drool-worthy sushi and a private magic show that knocks your socks off? This night is one of my favourite memories from our time in Tokyo!
Nothing matches up to karaoke in Tokyo. You get to rent out a private room with your friends where you can eat, drink and sing to your heart’s content without the fear of sounding like a fool. Unfortunately, there are no photographs or videos of us belting it out to Drake but I can guarantee that my rap game was definitely on point.
I know many people who detest museums, galleries and things of the sort, but I really love to understand the city that I am in and visiting a museum is a great way to do that. The Edo-Tokyo Museum is a wonderful place to get a sense of how the capital has evolved over the years and I am really glad that we managed to check it off our list. Be sure to take a guided tour when you visit – the tour guides are volunteers with a passion for the subject and their enthusiasm is contagious.
A day trip to Disneyland made for a smashing start to my 23rd birthday. What can I say? It really is the happiest place on earth.
Imagine a street that is lined with nothing but bookstores. For an avid reader like myself, Jimbocho is a slice of paradise. In fact, I was so enthralled that I forget to take a photograph of it (dammit!) Japanese, English, new, old, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, stories…whatever you like to read, you will find it here. Wherever you look, you will see bookstore after bookstore. Take me back, please!
Many people were surprised when we told them that we were holidaying in Japan and surprised yet again when they heard about how ah-mazing our trip was. I cannot justify why you should visit Japan through words and photographs because nothing I can say or show you will ever do it justice. All I can say is this: if you are on the hunt for a place that is firmly rooted in its tradition, yet equally metropolitan, the Land of the Rising Sun is the place for you. And yes, the sun actually rises at 4:00am. It truly is the best of both worlds and I cannot wait to visit again.
Keep your eyes peeled for my next post, in which I will unveil the highlights from our time in Kyoto!
Forever a wanderlust,
P.S. Lots and lots of photo credit to D!
Those of you with a passion for all things digital must have jumped on the live streaming bandwagon by now. This post was initially meant to be about Meerkat, the application that made waves at SXSW; however, given their recent tussle with Periscope and subsequent decline, I have readjusted my lens to look at the rise of live streaming applications as a whole.
The hype began about a month ago, when a clever little application called Meerkat took SXSW by a storm, allowing participants to live stream the event to all of their Twitter followers. Meerkat was not the first application with this functionality, but it was definitely the neatest that the world had seen. What I really like about the tool is that it sits neatly on top of your Twitter account; no need to maintain another account or try to scout for followers yet again. Twitter quickly removed this smooth functionality in anticipation of the launch of their version, Periscope. And by the looks of it, the application has stomped all over Meerkat, which fell to #523 on the US iPhone download chart within three days of Periscope hitting the market. Whilst Meerkat investors are definitely regretting their decision, the launch of Periscope exemplifies the benefits of having a new application seamlessly ride upon an existing one.
Technicalities aside, live streaming applications represent a concrete move towards bridging distances and connecting people. The content is accessible to anyone who can read your Tweets, allowing the user to reach out to a wide audience with the click of a button. The next time I am living it up at a concert, all of my Twitter followers can join the party. When I’m at a meeting in Mumbai, partners across the world can tune in. Another feature that I truly appreciate is the fact that exclusivity has been maintained – once the live stream is over, viewers cannot re-watch the content unless it is uploaded to YouTube or the likes. The fleeting nature of the content, like that produced with Snapchat, is definitely part of the charm.
What really blows my mind, however, is the sheer opportunity that marketers have to create live and exclusive content using applications like Meerkat. If I were a digital marketer, I would be running towards this opportunity at breakneck speed! I can already foresee brands using this to offer behind-the-scenes footage, invite consumers across the world to product launches, educate viewers with product demonstrations, conduct interviews with brand advocates and use this tool to drive brand storytelling in a way that has never been explored before. When I think of live streaming applications, I see an enormous opportunity to create an experience that is really different from the norm and truly engaging.
So, what is the downside, you ask? As an individual, the biggest downside is that you have no control over who is watching your content; especially if you Twitter account is not private. But then again, live streaming is really not about delivering specific content to specific people. I mean, if your content is personal in nature, you shouldn’t really be live streaming it, should you? Use Snapchat for that, please.
How personal is too personal, you ask? I say that we let the users decide that for themselves. When it comes to personal use, I strongly believe that applications like Meerkat are a great way to empower the millennial generation. Like it or not, millennials like to share their experiences online because it allows them to feel connected to the world around them. What better way to do so than to live stream your life from your phone? Love, love, LOVE it.
Like many digital trends, I do not hesitate to say that this could be a bubble. In fact, Ben Rubin, founder of Meerkat, said that, “People get excited by the novelty of live streaming, but it wears off.” I suppose that only time will tell.
As for me? I will be “Meerkat-ing” from D’s phone until they make a version for Android.
Live streaming from a location near you,
PS. I’m baaaack and I promise to never disappear like that again!
I might be an old soul who prefers pen and paper to a keyboard, but I will never say no to a retail concept that brings digitalia to the brick and mortar store. When a colleague told me about Rebecca Minkoff’s revolutionary store in New York earlier today (yes, I am late to the party), I jumped for joy.
To my mind, the future is all about blurring the lines between physical and digital. Subscription e-commerce blockbuster Birchbox, opened up its first store in Soho last year. Every traditional retailer is jumping on the e-train. The time for pure play is over.
For a while now, we have seen several brands like Burberry dip their toes into the digital world, but Rebecca Minkoff completely immersed herself in it, yielding a retail strategy that is both magical and modern.
Is this a dream? With touch screen mirrors that allow you to select and have garments delivered to your dressing room (as well as a glass of bubbly to add to the experience), order a different size from the comfort of your cubicle and have your stylist drop it off to you with an experience that rivals that of Uber, this retail model is everything that the millennial woman has been looking for and more.
What most people miss is that Rebecca Minkoff, in partnership with eBay, has built this model with a very simple strategy: identify the pain points of the new age shopper and doing something about them. I mean, you don’t even have to stand in a queue to pay – you can cash in your goodies from anywhere in the store with the help of an iPad-bearing sales rep.
Benefits to the consumer aside, can you even begin to imagine the sheer amount of data that the brand is racking up? This data can be used to derive valuable insights about purchase behaviour, manage stock levels by predicting demand for hot-selling items and build intimate relationships with each consumer by knowing them better than the competitor does.
Love, love, LOVE it.
February has flown by really quickly. To be honest, I have not had the time to stop, reflect and think. I feel like I have been in action mode throughout – go, go, go! – and for once, I do not even mind it. In the midst of the whirlwind, these tidbits made me a happy, happy girl.
Breakfast sliders at The Nutcracker; the amazing people at my amazing job; cocktails infused with lavender; perfecting my backhand; feeling inspired everyday; learning the art of naming; the words of Mary Gaitskill; a super-cool new writing client; me-time; devoting more time to reading; adding timeless staples to my wardrobe; choosing green tea over coffee (most of the time); the 30 day squat challenge; tennis evenings with D; pre-holiday excitement; feeling like I belong; doing up my new room; family time and laughs; Firestone by Kygo; taking my money matters into my own hands; doing what I love and loving what I do (finally!); exaggerated poufs; planning my next getaway; Chinese lunches in the office; this beautiful concrete jungle; making jewellery again; Paris-Bombay; heart shaped watermelon pieces; hydrating; the onslaught of summer; bright red miniskirts.
Love, love, love,
This is a continuation of my previous post titled 100 Ways To Find Creative Inspiration (Part 1).
50. Watch a film in a foreign language.
51. Feast your eyes on Artsy and let it inspire you.
52. Collaborate with a fellow creative or friend.
53. Use a mind map to visually plot your problem and the possible solutions.
54. Start maintaing a dream diary.
55. Educate yourself on a new line of creativity. If you are a writer, learn more about design. If you are a photographer, explore the world of architecture. Inspiration and learning go hand in hand.
56. Create a new word and use it unabashedly.
57. Solve a jigsaw puzzle with one hundred pieces or more.
58. Eat breakfast for dinner.
59. Try your hand at a game of word association. To spark new ideas, play it with other people – family, friends, strangers on the subway.
60. Fresh juice.
61. Write with your weaker hand. If you are ambidextrous, move on to the next one.
62. Develop a creative ritual. At present, mine involves a cup of green tea, Kygo on my headphones and tying my hair up. I simply cannot write with my hair left down. Weird, I know.
63. Go offline for 24 hours.
64. Think about combining things to create something new – words, pictures, thoughts, ideas, eras, painting styles, schools of design, anything and everything.
65. Turn to toys. I love messing around with Leggo and Play-Doh.
66. Watch a TED talk.
68. Read a poem or two out loud.
69. Break your creative problem down into its most basic components. What is the real issue here? More often than not, it is not what you think it is.
70. Candle magic. Hey, I’ve heard it works! Apparently, orange candles are great for boosting creativity.
71. Get on the floor. 100 crunches. Now.
72. Document your process of finding creative inspiration in a video.
74. Take yourself out for a long drive.
75. Write everything down. No matter how stupid, inconsequential or farfetched it may seem, put pen to paper. Only begin the process of elimination once you have more than 100 options.
76. Practise deep breathing.
77. Write postcards to your friends across the world. I said postcards, not Facebook messages!
79. Crack open a fortune cookie and write a story about a character who meets with the fortune in question.
80. Rejuvenate your workspace. This summer, I plan to add a bunch of potted plants to mine.
81. Write your personal mission statement. What is your raison d’être? What makes you tick? Why are you here?
82. Dress up like someone else. Wear a fake moustache if you must.
83. Reach out to your role models, even if the chances of them responding are remote. Today, this is easier to do than it has ever been.
84. Browse through that dusty stack of old magazines in the corner of your bedroom.
85. How many different ways can you say “hello”? After trying this one night, I wrote an entire brand narrative in five minutes. I had been trying to write it the whole day.
86. Learn a new language.
87. Treat yourself to a cheese board.
88. Play a game of scrabble.
89. Pick your favourite consumer brand. If you had the power and the necessary design skill, how would you redesign its logo?
90. Bake a loaf of banana cake. Delish!
91. Paint with your hands.
92. Read about a famous historical epoch.
93. Burn incense sticks.
94. Visit a store that sells craft supplies and loose yourself in the wonderland.
95. How many words can you make from the letters in the world’s longest word?
96. Visit a local flea market – they are always a riot of colours, products and people.
97. Stay receptive and open to receiving inspiration. How do you expect to be inspired if you are mentally closed off to it?
98. Read some Kurt Vonnegut.
99. Talk to strangers.
100. Have a glass of wine. You need it.