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Adrenaline surges, your muscles feel weak yet poised to bolt. You feel every moment of contraction in your heart as if it was the first time you heard it beat. Cool sweat erupts from your pores, glistening your skin. Your throat closes half suffocating you. Maybe your fingers or your lower lip trembles. For moments, seconds, minutes and what seems like hours, this is your whole existence: you are overcome by it.

But this isn’t the caveman era, and you are not running from a giant bear (most of you anyways). You are perhaps sitting in your office cubicle, or in a room full of people at a social get together, and chances are that nobody is interested in eating you for dinner or taking your turf. You are just having a panic attack, and let me tell you, you feel pretty dumb about freaking out about what other humans, or just life, may or may not do to you.

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The Road to Nong Khiaw

IMG_9425  On the morning of my trip from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw, I am running late, and in my haste to order breakfast, I do not think to specify that I want my egg hardboiled instead of soft.

I do not think to question why the server hands me a tiny spoon, or why my breakfast arrives in eggcups, if anything, thinking it a tad bit quaint. By the time I realize the truth it is too late, and the shell is peeled in a way that renders it impossible to eat without making a giant sticky mess. Continue Reading »

Finding Freedom in Laos

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Although I’m told that Laos is an “off the beaten path” destination, flight QV 634 from Bangkok to Luang Prabang, features a disproportionate number and variety of foreigners from young backpackers and couples to retired seniors.

I have no idea what to expect. I have come off a hectic work schedule, don’t speak a word of the language, and have no idea what I should even be looking to experience from Laos, with the exception of the yoga retreat that I will be attending in Nong Khiaw the next day.  Continue Reading »

photo-1As I leave my last Jaipur Literature Festival event, I get a frantic phone call from my friend Shampa. We had come to the city together, along with her family and had split for the morning to pursue our respective interests. She tells me they are stuck in traffic and cannot come get me on the way back to Delhi.  Continue Reading »

Papa

1929258_533901195915_4291_nLast week, I made half my staff cry with this story (unintentionally of course) – an adaptation of something I wrote 6 years ago when my grandfather passed away. I guess some emotions stay buried, but as it is the 6th anniversary of his passing, I figured I would share it on here:

In April 1984, when we returned to India from Canada, we moved into my grandparent’s home in Vasant Vihar. My earliest memories of the 90 year-old phenomenon that was Papa (otherwise known as Triloki Nath Saraf) are blurred, few and far between.

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Wanting It All

Now and then I pace my place
I can’t retrace how I got here
I cheat the light to check my face
It’s slightly harder than last year
And all at once it gets hard to take
It gets hard to fake what I won’t be
Cause one of these days I’ll be born and raised
And it’s such a waste to grow up lonely
– John Mayer, from Born and Raised

The “Science for Arts Students” program at McGill University was a series of classes completely lacking in any sort of academic rigor or credibility as a learning experience. Instead of being insulted by the low value the science department placed on the left hemispheres of our brains, we rejoiced in the opportunity to add a few empty credits on to a reading/paper saturated courseload.  Continue Reading »

Memories of the Big Move

IMG_4759Exactly a year ago today, I was up till 4am Eastern Standard Time, battling two bursting suitcases. I was yanking out random clothing and possessions, discarding a few items at random and re-stuffing the baggage, till finally both weighed less than 23 kilograms. I collapsed into an exhausted sleep, dreams of logistics, unsold furniture, pending accounts, and unreturned cable boxes haunting my dreams.

The next morning was a strange one – I did things I’d normally do on a day off: brunch, Shoppers Drugmart (I weep for all my unused Optimum points) and some last minute banking stuff. But by early afternoon I arrived at Toronto Pearson with exactly 46 kilograms of checked baggage, the maximum carryon allowance, and one very unhappy cat.
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