The value of a vote

May 2018 was special. I voted for the first time ever. Not for the lack of intent or initiative. I was just never around in my home city to get myself registered before elections or on the actual polling days. I had attempted to register on two occasions during non-election season, but it was not meant to be. For years I saw an acknowledgment slip tacked on the father’s notice board, alongside his tasks listed for the day. And I’m certain he looked at it numerous times a day.

Meanwhile, I got myself Aadhaared, renewed the passport, got a duplicate copy of my driving license but the voter ID eluded me. Until I moved cities, and my new city embraced me. Three years, rented accommodation and a new language later, the husband procured a new identity for me during a registration drive before the state went for elections. He returned twice to secure an acknowledgement slip, upon my insistence. But the officials had neither the time nor the inclination to hand one over. They just told him to visit a fortnight later.

He did, with more scepticism than hope. And he was in for a surprise! The ID was ready. It did have one tiny mistake though. But nothing that would stop me from exercising my right, more than a decade after turning 18. To say I was on cloud nine was an understatement.

I went to the polling booth all wide-eyed and curious. Another first. The closest I had gotten to this sight was in Newton. The stern officials had little time for niceties and the wide smile plastered on my face. They each had one job. And answering my doubts wasn’t that. But my noobness was apparent, and finally someone directed me.

I was a hodgepodge of feelings on the ride back home. Elation, ecstasy, gratitude, pride, I could have filled a thesaurus.





Built on words

She was only a name to me. But her words had buoyed me. There was something happy and upbeat about them. A strand of innocence that I had perhaps over time supressed within me. So when I happened to be visiting the city she lived in, I dropped her a little note, expressing interest for a face-to-face meet. I was one among her many social acquaintances on Facebook. It might have sounded like an odd request to her for sure. And because I was so keen to meet her I almost forgot that she was a new mother.

Surprised she might have been, but she graciously accepted my request and invited me for breakfast. It was only upon meeting her that I realised she was trying to keep things quiet for herself and her newborn, as is the custom in most Indian families, by being confined for about 40 days, right after delivery.

We spent the morning discussing many things. Our likes, dislikes, loves, pet peeves et al. The conversation flowed easy, transitioning from one subject to another. But there was so much that I wanted to say to her that all conversation felt inadequate. When I requested her to write more, it was more to save me than her. Because I had forgotten the joys of writing and she reacquainted me with them.

Two years on, we’ve both been heavily consumed in our own separate lives. And both of us haven’t written as much as we’d have liked to. But my mind wanders to that morning often. To savour and relive all over again the warmth, the camaraderie and spontaneity of a friendship strung primarily on words.

Tough edits and choices

The last week of 2016 found me sobbing on a pillow. I was desperate for some sort of change in my life. Nine months of freelancing from home had left me discontent and miserable. I had become a slob, and dessert seemed to be the highlight of most of my days. I felt like I had nothing to look forward to.

That night, the husband convinced me otherwise. He promised that 2017 would be special. That it would be kinder to us, that we’d find renewed meaning to our lives and that I’d find a fulltime job I likelove soon.

The last was the first to fall in place. For a large part of December, I was secretly stalking a new website. Multiple times a day. Only to check if they were hiring. The husband had nudged me towards it; a subscription-driven website for business journalism. And I wanted to be a part of it. Except when I had applied upon finally seeing a vacancy, I was disappointed because I wasn’t the right fit.

However, a stray tweet soliciting work caught someone’s attention there and we started chatting. To join the newsroom was one of the quickest decisions I made, and I was eager to start. I was beginning to like 2017.

Copy editing at The Ken was immensely fulfilling. It was close to home, I liked the work (I was mostly left alone with words all day) and I was able to put in those hours. I felt privileged. And I think I was good at what I did.

I missed the freedom and spontaneity of a freelancer’s life. But I loved the high of working with words and cleaning up the copy, readying it for publishing. It was fascinating to see a story evolve from an idea to its final copy. I had fun on most days. It was my first time at an early-age startup, and I experienced first-hand the ‘passion’ that most people wax eloquent about. Intense debates, fiery tempers and fragile egos, all formed part of my learning curve.

Did I ever whine and complain? Sure, I did, as with so many other things in life. I also spent very many nights awake, oscillating between self-doubt and feeling smug. The husband patiently watched all this from the sidelines, with amusement.

Leaving The Ken was a bitter pill. I had decided to do so in a snap but it took me a while to come to terms with it. It was a short stint (I was just beginning to feel at home) but one that pushed me to excel at my craft, in terms of time, skill and effort. I was leaving for a more rewarding phase of my life. I am extremely grateful for both; but it stung and smarted and irked that I wasn’t able to have it all. That somewhere along the way I had failed because I chose one life over another.

Today, a few months later, The Ken is a distant memory. Our subscriptions ended earlier this year, and we chose not to renew. I needed to let go. To be honest, we also don’t have the time. But every once in a while, on a rough day, I allow myself the luxury of dipping into their morning emails. To remind myself that this is what fired me up a year ago!

2017 was special, in more ways than one. And my time at The Ken was one of its high points.






Book Review | A Perfect New York Christmas

Title: A Perfect New York Christmas
Author: Sudesna Ghosh
Pages: 50
Price: INR 99

51lx9shli8lA Perfect New York Christmas by Sudesna Ghosh is a warm, fuzzy Christmas read on friendship, love and New York City. Aditi visits New York, a city she had left a decade ago, for a Christmas sojourn to meet her best friend and perhaps an old love. But more importantly, she craves the perfect New York Christmas. And this is a trifecta she cannot resist.

New York City is the hero of the tale. Times Square, Central Park, the cafes, Ghosh paints them all beautifully, and with a tinge of nostalgia. Not regret.

A Perfect New York Christmas is also a beautiful portrayal of friendships among women. A theme I also noticed in her previous book, My Singapore Fling.

However, the book left me wanting. There is excitement, anticipation and passion but I felt that everything happens just too smoothly and easily. No conflict, no self-doubt, no anxiety. I admire Aditi’s boldness but she felt a little too perfect and unreal. Perhaps, a little too sure of herself and what she seeks. It is partially refreshing because there is little drama and theatrics but it also reads a little bland in a few instances.

A Perfect New York Christmas is slightly different from Ghosh’s previous books but it showcases what she is most passionate about: pets, writing, make up accessories, friendships and lastly, New York.

It is the type of feel-good read that you want to curl up with on a cold afternoon under a quilt, while sipping some hot chocolate and munching on cookies.

Ghosh’s previous titles include:

Find A Perfect New York Christmas on Amazon.