While cleaning up around here, I realized that my Mighty List is pretty repetitive and needs to be updated.
Cook a meal for my friends
One of the joys of work is that I sit next to Jaison, whom I have known since 1993 when I moved to India. We talk about food, we compare lunches, we walk to Crawford to procure ingredients and sometimes cook together. While I still haven’t cooked a grand meal for my favorite people, I have made a few memorable dishes.
Set foot in every continent
Feburary 2010. Crossed the Sinai to Africa. Approaching a continent by road makes more of an impact than air, I think. The endless Sinai peninsula especially, stark, dry and imposing brings you to your knees. Three hours into the mini bus ride, I started picking whom we would eat first in case of breakdown.
Crawford market. Guacamole. So-so.
Feel strong and fit
One of the wisest investments we made last year were in our healths. With Tushar in hospital twice at the end of 2009, laziness would no longer make us her bitch. We swam in summer, doing a kilometer every day by the time we quit. A yoga guru comes home twice a week and we’ve rarely cancelled a session in the past 10 months. Though I haven’t lost any weight, the improvement in strength and stamina is noticeable. I plan to keep at it till I can touch my forehead to my knees, do a backbend and a headstand. That is the level of fitness I would like to maintain for the rest of my life.
Be a good mentor
I work best alone and am especially undesirable in positions of authority. It’s an effort to be patient, nurturing and supportive. I don’t think I’m on top of my dismissiveness, but a colleague messaged me on Teacher’s Day thanking me for helping her write better. And all I did was bully her.
Roadtrip with Boo and TB
2008. Konkan-Mahabaleshwar. Don’t drink the water in Mahabaleshwar. Boo slipped into the lake for a swim.
Parasail over a valley
2007. Himachal Pradesh. Jaison, merlin and me. That was a good trip.
Give a dance recital as an adult
I joined Flamenco classes last year which culminated in a stage show. This reminded me how horrific stage make-up is, how hard my heart thumps before I go on stage (I collapse into a coughing fit after I get off) and how important it is to surrender to your teacher. Doing this as an adult gave me the chance to channelize some hard-earned wisdom. Less talk, more practise. Pee when you get the chance.
Meet Devdutt Pattanaik for coffee
When I was writing this list, I imagined myself daydreaming at a cafe while a cup of coffee steamed on the table. Mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik, sitting at a table nearby, is captivated by my face. Able to hold it no longer, he comes over and introduces himself and we have a long, insightful chat.
Doing what I do for a living, I realized this could be more easily arranged. He was coming out with a new book, I suggested we interview him and now I have his email and phone number and shamelessly call up whenever I am researching something. Someday, I’ll meet him for coffee.
He is much more articulate in person and I’m looking for an excuse to listen to him for longer.
What I learned most from my interaction with him that my ambition is not to be a writer, or travel journalist, or dog-trainer, or world famous thrift shopper. What I want most is to be able to make a me-shaped place in the universe.
Be rid of financial insecurity
My financial strategy, like my weight loss strategy, primarily involved high investment, low interest worrying. Instead of investment dumps at the end of the financial year, I have engineered small and large investment strategies through the year. I would largely file it away as the ‘NO, YOU HAVE NO MONEY’ approach.
a. 10 per cent of my raise goes into monthly investment scheme for gold. I started the Tanishq Anuttara scheme just before Diwali so that I can buy something nice on Dhanteras.
b We bought a car last year and put away Rs 500 to pay for its annual insurance.
c Life insurance, medical insurance and postal savings, which I have been making since I started working. But instead of waiting every five years for the recurring postal deposit to mature, I plan to start a new account every year with 10 per cent of my annual raise. In a few years, I’ll have a lump-sum every year to put into more tax saving funds.
d All money from guest writing, garage sales, personal shopping and the Etsy store goes into the travel fund. This is put away into a fixed deposit which I can dig into for buying stocks, covering unexpected expenses and making health investments like an annual swimming membership.
e I no longer have any credit card debt.
f All five rupee coins go into a piggy bank.
g Annual TVP goes into Tax saving funds.
h With a pension, provident fund and gratuity, I think I will do okay if machines take over my job.
Live on a kibbutz
Hello! Haven’t you heard? Achieving a dream when you are cowering at the bottom of the well in the waters of cynicism and self-loathing is like carrying a rare gem in your pocket. You feel its shape in a meaningless meeting, sense its weight on a long commute, take it out to marvel at its colour when you have the time, and smile to yourself. There is this perfect gem. No Koh-I-Noor. Not priceless or coveted. But it is yours. It is hope.
Do you remember that scene in Om Shanti Om when OK turns over a new leaf and approaches his work with professionalism? He’s shooting for a movie and insists on a re-take because he feels he can do the scene better. Sitting on a wheelchair, with non-functioning limbs, he grabs a flower with his mouth and spits it out at his beloved who is taking the pheras.
Sometimes work is like that.
But sometimes we have these glorious moments. Everybody is racist, we crack political incorrect jokes, you get to do that one story, we stamp out innocence to make the world a better place and it’s a beautiful day.
I love being a journalist. I love getting to experience all kinds of lives and meet all sorts of people. I’m addicted to the 8 pm adrenalin rush. I love being recognized. I love talking about my job. I love it that people are impressed when I tell them what I do. I love that no two days are alike. I love the firsthand celebrity gossip. I love that sometimes I do make a difference and for most part, I work for a very activist paper.
But there is more to do and being here is giving me the visibility to branch out on my own. It’s still work in progress but with personal shopping, I’m pointed in the right direction.