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Updated: Sep 13, 2023

D Day

He had been thinking about it for some time now. He couldn’t take it anymore. Far from home, he was just a teenager in a hostel filled with rote machines.

In pursuit of brilliance and awesomeness that others wished to see in him. After all, they had invested in him. Begged and borrowed money just for him.

But he was not like the others there.

They were driven and focussed. They had signed up to be products. Mass-produced in batches. In factories that filled one with just the right dose and blend of information.

He was, well, different. And that was a difficult position to be in.

The sly smiles, the hushed murmurs and looks of disdain after every test. They didn’t need words to bury him in a sea of shame. Those formulae on the board mocked him. Those alien words from the books mocked him. Those diagrams in the papers mocked him. They taunted him day and night. He was inferior. He was a failure.

He woke up from his fitful sleep. It was D-day. He would do it today. No more excuses. No more reconsideration. It would all end today. No matter what.

He had spent all his pocket money on the stuff he needed. He waited for everyone to go. He feigned illness and stayed back in his room. All alone. It was important. He didn’t want anyone to hear when he did it.

He packed his stuff and arranged it in a neat pile. Wore his crisp new shirt, trousers and shoes. He even had new underwear and socks. He gelled and combed his hair in the latest fashion. It was important to look perfect. It was a matter of his image, his self-esteem.

With trembling hands, he set the camera up to record his video.

It was uncomfortable. He loosened the collar of his white shirt. It was hot and they had removed the ceiling fans from their rooms.

‘There! It is done.’ he thought as he tapped his phone with a flourish to upload his video. He looked at the clock. It was time.

The rope he had bought was looking at him. Egging him on. With a decisive nod, he picked it up. He tied his bedding and bags with it, picked up his stuff and ran as fast as he could. Far far away from the hell hole. He had a train to catch.

“Ma! I am coming back. Check out my new song on YouTube.” He screamed into the phone.

He would not be a product he didn’t want to be.

“I am going to be a singer, Ma!”

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Updated: Jun 6, 2023

Spices in Indian Food
Romancing the Kitchen - Food vs. Cuisine

My relationship with my kitchen could, at best, be described as “complicated.” But that doesn’t imply that I’m a poor cook or don’t enjoy cooking – It only means that for me, like for crores of women entrusted with fulfilling the family’s gastronomical needs, cooking is like playing kabaddi in a designer saree. It is a unique talent that involves whipping up wholesome mouth-watering fare day after day. It is timed so precisely that rocket scientists could learn the countdown from us.

At the cost of looking like a witch hopping about with tons of ingredients in front of a cauldron of a strange fluid boiling away, one manages to exit the kitchen victorious. A war cry is often needed for the subjects to assemble for breakfast.

It is like a Cake Off or Master Chef on steroids; If you know what I mean. One competes with the mothers of the kids whose tiffin boxes are more interesting than yours. Or with your ancestors whose dishes have made it to the family lore. Or the neighbour who occasionally sends some serious homemade stuff you never knew could be made at home in the first place.

Nevertheless, one carries on with the grit and determination of a true warrior for the ultimate prize of words like ‘Yummy’ or ‘Wah’ or whatever else your food manages to elicit from the family (the judges). If the right words don’t come in, well, you can always force them out. It just takes the right expressions on your face or a suitable threat befitting the occasion. (That comes with experience, not expected to give the desired results right away)

Coming to the point, action in the kitchen has undergone an enormous transformation. No longer does the humble dal or sambhar simmer on the fire long enough for the ingredients to percolate and blend as they did earlier. No longer does one wait for the right kind of mangoes to make a pickle with the exact recipe your mother used. No longer are papads or snacks like chaklis dried on rooftops at home. No longer are masalas ground with an exact mix of spices for the unique taste and aroma that was the hallmark of the goddesses of the kitchen. Many traditional dishes that need patience and perseverance of yogic proportions are now reserved for special occasions. The lassi, buttermilk and nimbupani have transformed into exotic colourful stuff that seems it has teleported right off the chemistry lab.

Gone are the days when the lady of the house ruled her kitchen with an iron fist. Every ingredient, every recipe that she inherited, every detail of the cooking process and presentation of the food was meticulously followed and passed on to the next generation.

But having said that, in the reality of today’s world, marrying ‘wholesome’ and ‘awesome’ is the mantra. Recipes have been rewritten. Rewritten to suit the taste buds that recognize Ironman but don’t mind a daily dose of Shaktiman.

Turmeric milk
Romancing the Kitchen - Food Vs. cuisine

So, it has turned out that one deals with everything from dosa to pasta and everything in between with equal expertise. Herbs like basil are as staple as the humble coriander. Oregano and Jeera are discussed in the same breath and so are feta and paneer. Snacks have moved from bread pakoda to steamed sweet corn. One has help with ready batters and masala mixes to save time and effort while not compromising on taste and quality.

But everyday cooking is mostly the usual dal-chawal roti-subzy with a twist. In the daily soap of culinary delights, yellow pepper and broccoli are crazily in love with paneer while basil is lending its sublime subtext to coconut chutney’s story. Schezwan chutney is adding spice to idli’s life and roti has covertly become a wrap.

And in the true spirit of globalization, all this is happening and un-happening at great speed. What’s in one day is out of fashion the next. One is grappling with diet fads, ever-changing choices, peer pressure, the bottom line of ‘healthy and nutritious’ and the conundrum of time complicating it, making it quite a quest.

Meanwhile, my relationship with the kitchen remains complicated but steeped sufficiently in romance and discovery; enough to keep me interested in the game.

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Updated: Apr 12, 2023

How to transform into a successful professional -

In simple terms, life is what happens to you after you have left the safe threshold of college life. A large part of one’s youth is spent in zealous efforts to get ahead academically. The dream of every student is to achieve a score that will help propel him or her right into a glittering career path.

The depth of one’s knowledge and examination scores help one get a head-start as far as getting the first job goes. After that, however, every day is a challenge – a challenge that is enriching, exhausting, fascinating, mind-blowing, disheartening and exhilarating, all at the same time.

Here are a few bitter-sweet lessons that will help you stay on top of the game.

Learn from everyone

No knowledge is futile and no information is small. In today’s world information is worth its weight in gold. It helps one speak with authority and confidence. Having insights from multiple sources also improves decision making.

Don't fear Failure

Failure is never the end. One cannot expect a 100% success rate in life. There are numerous cases of failure spawning success but a couple of well-known cases deserve mention. It is a widely known fact that Elon Musk wanted to develop the first privately owned liquid-fuelled booster called Falcon 1. It failed four times (at great commercial cost) before being successfully launched. Similarly, J K Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected twelve times by publishers before she found success. And we know how successful both these initiatives turned out to be. It is best to treat every failure as a learning experience in life and move ahead. Prod on and you shall succeed.


In this ever-changing world, many of the traditional jobs are being automated. Many career options we see today will be defunct in the near future. This also means there will be a wide variety of newer skills that will become relevant. Upskilling with a futuristic view in one’s chosen field can be a make or break for you.

Have a practical rapport with numbers

Not everyone is comfortable with numbers. I am one of those who disliked mathematics in its classical form. But I did, ultimately, make a career out of analytics. That is because, in practice, numbers tell a story as nothing else can do. And they surely don’t lie! Practical and logical knowledge of numbers and analytics gives one a different perspective on situations. Hence, whether you are a researcher, an artist, a chartered accountant, a sales professional or even a writer, it helps to make friends with numbers.

Always see it through

Being dependable opens doors to opportunities. If you are seen as a person who completes a project against all odds, new initiatives drop into your lap. And that enriches your professional career and knowledge splendidly. We all know why Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni were called the Wall and Mr Dependable, don’t we?

Have a hobby

Not everyone is lucky enough to earn a living through an ideal work profile. To keep yourself motivated and find a purpose in life, it is essential to develop a skill or hobby that you enjoy. It gives one a creative outlet and who knows, can be monetized someday too. Going forward, professionals are likely to juggle multiple careers and developing your skill level can be highly G. It could range from music, baking, art, social work and philanthropy, blogging, photography, trekking etc. These can be turned into professions at any time in life. For instance, Vera Wang was a figure skater and journalist before entering the fashion industry aged 40 where she went on to become a top designer. Closer home, many people like Shobhaa De, Bhuvan Bam, Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathi and Falguni Nayar have made successful career switches out of their interests.

Be humble

As one goes up the professional ladder, one is tempted to take undue pride in the glory and respect the position brings. Many a time it can be a significant barrier to communication with the rest of the team. It can also isolate one socially. Most effective leaders are known to be humble. They are more approachable, get better support and performance from their teams and build better relationships with people.

Give it your 100%

No one is perfect but everyone can be the best version of themselves. Working hard plus working smart will always help you succeed. And don’t forget to celebrate every success, big or small.

Stay true to yourself

Getting ahead in the rat race at the cost of your own health, well-being and self-respect is not worth it at all. A genuine analysis of your strengths and following the path that interests you most is sure to help you achieve practical goals.

Now, armed with these mantras, go forth and conquer the world!

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