“Unfinished” – no more ‘just’ a word…

There’s something about the prefix ‘Un‘ when attached to a word.

It takes a simple word and reverses it – making it sound so much cooler. ‘Unfinished’ – there couldn’t have been a better word to describe her, she is indeed far from finished. She – Priyanka Chopra Jonas (as it says on the cover of the book) but to us Indians, she’ll always be PeeCee.

I cannot express how happy I was to be holding a copy of ‘Unfinished’A Memoir by Priyanka Chopra Jonas in my hands. I’ve always admired PeeCee as an Individual, as an Indian and most importantly as a role model to so many youth in our country to start with, if not people around the world too. And the best part – She’s INDIAN, she’s one of US.

"I am a product of traditional India and its ancient wisdom, and modern India and its urban bustle. My upbringing was always an amalgamation of the two Indias, and, just as much, of East and West," the 38-year-old actor said in a statement.(Amazon)
Look at her people – Look at those eyes!

I’ve always believed, when you read someone’s story, it needs to talk to you in a way, that makes you feel connected to the book, the story, and most importantly, the person BEHIND the book. This book had it all.

Priyanka prefers to call it a memoir, which is more a select few stories from her life thus far, to be fair, I wouldn’t want all the gory details – a memoir sounded just enough of information I needed to know, besides Priyanka’s journey is far from over, like I mentioned at the beginning – as the title of the book suggests – “Unfinished”

After having purchased the book, I downloaded the e-Book version – which made it feel (listening to it) as if she was reading her story out especially for me, only to have waited a few more weeks and have Oprah interview Priyanka Chopra. That was, in more ways than one – the icing with the cherry on top, if not the already plenty of interviews available online on Youtube wasn’t enough that I have watched, re-watched and shown to my students as well, have had me almost mouthing what Priyanka would say next.

Can I have enough of Priyanka? That would be a simple NO.

The grace, confidence, language and to top it all: A killer attitude – what’s to have enough of her?

If you’re wondering, why I keep typing out ‘Priyanka’ instead of her full name Priyanka Chopra Jonas? – well, we’re on First-Name-Basis. Can you imagine Priyanka calling me ‘Mr Paes’ when we meet, instead of Savio? I’ve decided we’d keep it totally casual.

If you’ve been a fan or even remotely interested in following Priyanka Chopra’s journey through life, you’d know there are plenty of lessons that you would take along the way – Plenty! I need not pen them down, it might make this post very preachy, but that said – one of the BIGGEST lessons one could take from her book, “Unfinished” – are the words of advice her dad constantly gave her, the constant support of her parents that she mentions all along her book, her admiration towards them and her full family in general, every step of the way – whether it was during her years of schooling, winning the Miss India crown or marrying the love of her life.

She always had that spark – and look where its got her.

Priyanka and Me – only 6 months and 9 days separate our date births #JustSaying. We’re the same age 🙂

I want to leave you all with profound words found in “Unfinished”

“It’s OK to pick up, walk away, leave thing unfinished, and move on to what’s next”

“We all have a different story”

“There’s only one you. Understand who you are , your uniqueness.”

and the best of all:

“I am very much #Unfinished”

something that we all need to say everyday when we wake up first thing in the morning.


WORK FROM HOME – A LUXURY OR AN AUSTERITY?

Ever since the lockdown began, things seemed a little upsetting. For me, it was just a complete stop to the new beginning of my office going. as I was just getting used to the environment at work almost after 10years of being at home. But again work was normal to me as I have been freelancing for a while but going to the office and being with my colleagues was a fun time. Thanks to the lord that i am always surrounded by happy people who keep me at joy.

But again, Everything is a blessing in disguise.

Lockdown and back to work from home did have lots of pros for me as a mom, and a woman as such. There were those times when I hardly took care of myself and every day was a marathon for me. And indeed the new job thing was also taking up my time with my kids, family and my besties. Now with my travel time saved, I kind of profited extra time which I surely get to use in plenty.

I also started working out much more and also took time to be with my kids. Things never seemed to be complex amidst work and life balance for me. Even though at times I do feel exhausted and lost (obvious mood swings), I still feel this is PERFECT!!.

I started to focus on my writing and even reading too. I helped my children to get to read more and also enjoyed my “Me-time” as well as my “buddy-time” which was almost negligible then.

There are also things which are not in our control like work-wise the expectations lay more specific as we have no excuses to make or run away from work. But again, here I feel blessed as my work is my passion, hence it never took my mind off.

Everything seemed to change, but some things never changed, like;

  • everyone around me asking for one more dosa, when I am in a hurry to finish my kitchen work and get to work,
  • asking for attention, when I am lost in work…
  • asking for specials to cook, when I am exhausted…
  • asking for an extra walk, when my legs are aching to take a break…
  • asking for the long story at bedtime, when I am in love with the bed, who is cozily rolling me into sleep.
  • the alarm that goes beeping, when these winter nights are for sleeping.
  • the morning rush, even when I am on a holiday, as others are not…

I know these things will never change, even if its work from home or not. All I need to change is my attitude towards it.

And all will look PERFECT as I wished for.

NEW NORMAL, GO AWAY!

‘Lockdown for 21 days’- many generations witnessed it for the first time in their lives, perplexed and scared, we all waited, unaware of what was going to happen next.  As COVID started spreading its tentacles, lockdown increased. We felt blessed to be at home, safe and together with family and started to spend the time by playing games, making video calls, finish the pending movies and series on our watchlist and experimenting with many new recipes.

As we were adapting to the new changes in our routine, work from home was declared for majority and online classes were started too. Offices and schools were managed and executed from the very comfort of our homes. Initially, we all were happy that work and learning would continue, but for this long, we never thought or imagined. Every month we kept on expecting a miracle for COVID to get vanish, but the cases increased.

I am sure many homemakers, like me, must be dead tired by now. In the pre-covid times, we used to have our ‘me time’, but not anymore. After my husband left for work and kids went to school, I had a lot of free time, but now I crave to get 15 minutes during the day. With offices and schools entering our homes, the meaning of ‘home’ seems to get faded somewhere. Earlier after coming back to home, we used to relax, but now we want to get out of the house. Sanitizing the groceries, managing online classes, the skewed meal times due to anytime office calls, the hushing up of kids during meetings, looking for a new game for kids every other day, etc., etc. We homemakers are really frustrated right now, at least, I am!    

I really had enough now and I don’t like this ‘new normal’ anymore. I long for the pre-covid times when everyone could walk out of the house without any worry. My kids also want to go to their school and meet their friends. We want to travel places, but not with our masks on and botheration to sanitize everything around us.

The ‘new normal’ taught us many things like proper utilization of resources, restricting impulsive buying, enjoying in tough times and a lot more. We have learnt our lesson and hope the ‘old normal’ returns soon!

A MENU OF UNCERTAINTY, CHANGE AND GROWTH: ARE WE READY FOR IT!

Hello stranger!  I am not You! You are Not Me! A normal thing to follow a certain lifestyle pattern decked in one’s comfort zone when you walk right into my close guarded space. It’s another tale that I let you in, and oblivious about drastic changes to take place. I am a happy go lucky guy. I not only resist but loathe changes happening in my life. Wanna bet! Ask me to be your 4 a.m soul friend and every chance I will gun you down. Chill! I am kidding.

We live in the age of social media where we have countless strangers on our Friend list which we add and remove as fast as changing partners. It’s our sexless and multiple hookups permeating every single breathe taken. One stranger among many will sashay into our lives like a sprinkle of sweet and sour, chosen by the universe and the divine.  Resistance doesn’t really work and we need to trust that person as a critic who wouldn’t think twice in pushing us beyond limits to heal and offer a perspective that we often blithely ignore.

I call it baby steps where we need to swim against the person tide to remove the stiffness and see things with an open eye. Are we willing to make changes?

A soulmate, a friend or a partner often step in to push us beyond our acceptable limits. In the start, it may hurt and a tough call to walk on a tight rope. It can be any small thing, be it de-cluttering the personal space or making a personal change to a varied lifestyle, from eating healthy to devoting daily 5 minutes meditation and slowly kicking the butt.

There is never a Right time for a change and will probably Never be. We just need to trust this Stranger Friend with whom we connect on a deeper level and small adjustments can trigger a meaningful overhaul.  For a someone getting hitched or getting in a relationship, raw nerves may tick for he or she has to share the personal bed with someone new for the days of splaying all over is no longer a luxury. Next, in line, arrange the wardrobe and don’t just throw the towel on the floor or washroom.  The question is, how many among us are well adjusted psychologically for the life-altering changes? The truth is we are never ready and keep resisting means we will remain stuck in a rut. 

It has always been a tough call on a personal level to make changes. I prefer resisting in most of the case.  But, the honest truth is clinging on to the old means an unwillingness to grow and discarding old things to embrace the new means we are stuck in an immovable past that can often carry the perfect recipe for disaster or a huge burden to carry.

Do we eat Right or indulge in the frills of monotonous sex? Think over it! Add some zing and color to our personal canvas to remove the drab hinging into our existence. Changes need not be drastic. Every single time, add something new to the routine. For instance, sprinkling less salt in the food to cut the body fat.

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WHEN MY HEALTH SIGNALLED ME TO CHANGE LIFESTYLE

Few months after the birth of my first child,  I started having mild pain in the lower back. Thinking that the pain was one of the features of the post-pregnancy and post-delivery life of a mom,  I ignored it initially. “Of course”, I thought, “it’s due to the humongous changes that took place in my body”.

The pain worsened and before could schedule a visit to the doctor,  my back muscles were locked into the ‘catch’ position. Besides not being able to bend,  I wasn’t even able to walk, sit straight or turn on my side while in bed. When I was taken to the physiotherapist,  she immediately said, “It’s because of your sedentary lifestyle. Now, after childbirth, you must be doing so much work than you did earlier,  and since your body isn’t accustomed to take so much pressure, your back is locked.”

I was shocked and afraid at the same time. She said if 3 – 4 times more I face a similar situation,  then I might develop a slip disc. 

I did exercises session with my physiotherapist for a month who helped to strengthen my back. Meanwhile,  my husband got a project in Shanghai and we had to move. I was kind of reluctant to go because of the fear of getting into the similar situation in a foreign country,  where our moms couldn’t visit us easily. My physiotherapist, however, assured me that if I continued with my exercise regimen, nothing will happen. Feeling assured, I moved to Shanghai and yes,  my back did suffer from spasm, as I stopped months after I got better, but then resumed my exercise routine. If I used to get bored with the exercises, I took to dancing with my little one and also taking him in stroller for long walks. 

A couple of years later, when we returned,  my son started his preschool and so my physical activities also increased as I used to play with him. Sometimes I used to take him for nature walks in the morning or race with him in climbing up the stairs, which was great fun.

My job as a homemaker became more demanding after the birth of my second son. With the support of my in-laws, who took care of the children at home, I started working a pre-primary teacher, which in itself requires a lot of physical activities. However,  I had to quit as my husband got a job in a different city. 

Currently, I am back to my full-time job as a homemaker as my younger one has started his preschool. Until I resume my teaching job,  I am keeping myself physically active by doing all the chores myself. I didn’t hire any maid for cleaning the house or washing dishes because I feel that’s the best way I can keep myself healthy and the house immaculate!

CHOOSE A LIFESTYLE YOU WANT – NOT OTHERS

Lifestyle and I had conflicts ever since I was born.

Ever since my childhood being little introspective and determined in a variable way, I ensured to be little more intentional in my every step ahead. My lifestyle choices have always amused me, surprised me, shocked me, bored me as well as condemned me as well as other people in my life in many ways.

Being brought up in a typical Keralite family, I was kind of bound to be more like a Keralite had followed most of the things from my mothers’ footsteps. I had to be invariably the same after a couple of mistakes and challenges I took up to blend in various other lifestyles.

My Conflicts with the Girl inside me

I always wanted to be boyish, but again my features never did justice to my thoughts. My thoughts just remained in my deeds but not in my appearance. To some extent, I believed that being a boy was far better because they had the best reward in life – FREEDOM. I used to hate wearing typical girl shoes and pink dresses. It did not give me the comfort to be more girlish in some way.

Again in the coming years, I realised being a girl was a blessing indeed. It is not about the Freedom, but being a Girl mattered me. (I kind of turned semi-Feminist).

My Conflicts in adapting to dressing style

Any time of the day, all I wanted to wear is a Tshirt and pants, but again here my consciousness being little heavy built failed me here. My dressing style was never acceptable to anyone in the family. When they want me to be a typical Kerala style -Salwar-Clad girl, I wanted to escape from all these barriers.

My Conflicts with my routines

Like every other youngster, I too had a lousy lifestyle- sometimes oversleeping, sometimes overworking and much more. And after numerous trials and errors, the curtain fell over it, when motherhood took over my life. I changed myself to craft a beautiful and convenient lifestyle for my children. Something to blend in the lives around me. It actually worked out giving me sufficient time to manage my own things too, which I felt was a better way to live happily.

As I went abroad too, my customized style never left me. It had become a kind of sheath I used to cover my insecurities. My Lifestyle became a burden to my mind gradually.

My Conflicts led me to be a target at every instance, as it had become a vulnerability in me. The more I had disputes in me the challenges just doubled.

It wasn’t easy to fix a lifestyle that suited me. Off and on  I get so motivated and carried away – and all I do is try to blend in. It never worked in my favour.

Until when I realised. It was better to be Just ME.

The Road to No Regrets

Living by persuasion, without being approved is quite hard. It came in as a late realisation that it is easy to choose what actually suits me and which actually befits me. When I realised, it all came perfectly well to me.

I realised that whatever outside influence comes to my mind, it should never bother me. All I have to do is just be who I am, rather than stop becoming what others want me to be.

ACCEPT YOUR INDIVIDUALITY

I grew up watching my cousins wearing beautiful dresses and spending lavishly. I couldn’t do so as my parents didn’t have enough to allow me to spend beyond the genuine needs. All I could do was look at my cousins and take a sigh. I knew the financial condition of my parents and, therefore, I didn’t ask for more. But I always wanted to have what my cousins and my friends owned. I wanted those pretty sandals, dresses, and what not! 

As an ordinary girl, I too used to get fascinated by the lifestyle of the celebrities. I followed some of them to an extent my pocket could allow. I used to see how those celebrities followed a lifestyle to look elegant and presentable and it did influence me. I used to follow their eating and speaking style so that I too could look elegant. Gradually, I felt like being choked up. The influence of someone’s lifestyle was choking me. Maybe because for me, their lifestyle was hard to accept. For a moment, it did feel like fascinating but eventually, I decided to give up and follow my own lifestyle.

Leave about celebrities, even when I went to my village I saw girls of my age and younger to me wearing salwar-kameez. Honestly, I consider this to be one of the most-beautiful attire a girl can ever have. Influenced by those girls, I decided to quit my trousers and tees. Trust me, I couldn’t take the salwar-kameez for a long time. It was all about a week or two. I guess this happened because I personally never felt the urge to wear salwar-kameez all the time. I started to feel as if I am locked up in a dark room. I guess this happened because I was never used to living like them.

It is not only about clothes. When you follow a lifestyle, many things count in it. The food you eat, your sleeping schedule, your way of speaking, weekend plans, and much more. And it is completely okay if you are having a different lifestyle. Most of my friends go on a trip or go to some pubs on weekends. I, on the other end, love spending time with my books, answering Quora questions, and reading blogs. For me, going to parties and shopping seems way too boring and time-consuming. This amazes my friends and they wonder if I ever enjoy? Trust me, I enjoy a lot because I have my own life and a way of living. And I love it. It is not necessary that everyone will have a similar lifestyle.

Unless our soul is not convinced to follow a lifestyle, not just for the sake of following but because we love it, we can’t go a long way with that lifestyle. Lifestyle is not just a matter of a day or two. It is all about our comfort, upbringing, and the environment we live in. Today, I earn on my own but not as much as my friends do. With the money I get, I can buy whatever clothes I want or eat whatever I want but I can’t. I am more influenced by my lifestyle I have been following so far. But if you think the other person is having a better lifestyle then you must know it is not easy to step into one’s shoes. The best thing is to accept your individuality and live accordingly.