Category Archives: Life, etc

Problems Of A Hoarder

I am a hoarder. My friends, family and room-mates will confirm this fact. As a lover of fashion and beauty, I obviously love collecting clothes, shoes, skin care products, bags, accessories and cosmetics. But, I am also a lover of many other things. And so I also love collecting pens, shopping bags, pans, containers, gift wrapper, books, painted pots, coffee mugs, plants, perfumes – the list goes on. Cute things, colorful things, some-day-it-will-be-handy things – I keep collecting.

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Every time I have moved houses and cities, my excessive stuff has caused me numerous problems, stress and depression the most prominent. Stress because of the volume and depression because of realization of how much money I have spent in all the extra, unnecessary possessions. Each time I vow to curtail my purchases but do I stay committed? You probably know the answer.

In the beginning of 2014, I did resolve to shop less (for clothes and accessories) and reuse – recycle what I already own. In my Fabrics Analysis class (Spring ’14 semester), we did an assignment on effects of textiles on environment and calculated our own environmental footprint. In that, too, I stated:

– I have way too many clothes (having been a compulsive buyer all my life). This is something I realized lately because I have no space to keep them. I don’t fit into half of the clothes, don’t even know what clothes exist in my wardrobe and just do not know what to do with many clothes – can’t keep them, can’t throw them. This year, I have resolved to NOT buy any clothes (except absolutely essential items that need to be replaced) and so far I am doing well.

– I will give away my old and unfit clothes to charity, orphanages or Salvation Army so that they can be put to good use.

..to which the instructor replied – Well said!

Recently, I noticed that the number of my eye pencils looked lesser than usual. I would stare at the holder for minutes trying to place why they looked reduced and which ones were missing. I couldn’t. I have so many that I don’t even remember which ones I own. Later, my husband admitted he had accidently knocked over the case and few had fallen behind the cabinet. I located four, put them back and when the holder again started toppling over with the weight of pencils, I felt things were back to normal.

That’s what I am used to. Excess. Overload. Stuff everywhere. Things overflowing. Cabinets bursting.

So that is problem number one. Overcrowding. Lack of space. The situation that I am in right now, I do not have place to keep even one extra t-shirt. Strictly no. Hangers are breaking. Drawers are so stuffed that things are falling off from behind. Clothes are so tightly stuffed they are getting deformed and are getting permanent creases. Don’t ask. Terrible.

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Just like it happened with eye pencils, I don’t even remember what clothes, shoes and accessories I own! My bags are in a big plastic storage container. I tend to use the ones on the top. The bags lying deep inside are forgotten. I may rediscover something months (or years) later only to find its surface peeling or stained. So many of my clothes and shoes got spoilt because they had been lying unused for years. I don’t get to use all of them regularly because there are so many. And because there are too many, I don’t remember which ones I own. See the paradox?

There are so many clothes I have grown out of. I still own 4-5 year old pieces. How in the world did I think I would retain my shape and size all these years? No way. I don’t fit into so many. If I do fit into them, they look like they would burst off me. You think its right to believe that someday I will lose weight and fit into them? Because that’s what I have been telling myself..

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I may very proudly say that I still have clothes from my school days that I can fit into and do wear regularly – at the risk of appearing outdated. Problem number four. I own so many clothes and bags that are in perfect condition but they are passé now. You no longer see them on the streets or in shops. But you will still find them in my closet. Good thing? Lousy thing? I can’t throw them because they look as good as new (obviously they will, because I must have used each just once or twice a year). Nor can I give them away. So they are stuck with me.

That gives people enough reason to say – why do you want to buy more clothes; you already have so many. Yes, I know, I know but..! Problem number five. All you girls who have to exercise high self restraint can understand what I am saying, right?

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Enough problems come with compulsive buying. You see the impact of it only after some time has passed. I have learnt it – again and again – the hard way. So now, after all these years of hoarding and overcrowding, I am NOT shopping more, I AM trying to lose weight, I AM trying to style my old clothes (that look brand new, some with tags still on) in ways that look trendy, I AM digging out hidden, forgotten clothes / shoes / bags / accessories and using them and I AM not repeating clothes so everything gets a chance.

But you know, it’s too much stress and work, doing all this. It is better to invest in classy, evergreen pieces from good brands rather than collecting a whole bunch of random stuff. Quality is a way better idea than quantity here.

What do you say?

spicysaturday

This post has been selected for Blogadda’s Spicy Saturday Picks. Thank you guys!

Good Things Have Happened

Moving countries can be difficult. Switching careers can be difficult. Leaving your comfort zone and walking into unknown can be difficult. Trying to establish yourself with all these constraints can be slow and frustrating. It requires lot of patience and perseverance.

This phase seems to be going on forever for me. I am always looking with a lot of remorse at what all I gave up. That said, I have seen so many new things, learnt so many new things and met different kinds of people who have widened my thinking horizon. This move has brought out my hidden wishes, desires and aspirations. I have done things I only imagined that I wanted to do but never did. And never thought I would ever be able to.

So today, on a very positive note, I list down all that I have gained from the Big
Move that happened 1.5 years back.

I learnt to bake

And cook. I have loved trying new dishes, searching for recipes and challenging myself. Ages ago, I had visualized myself as an expert cook but I had absolutely nil experience in the kitchen! This move brought out that side in me. I taught myself baking too! I have some signature cakes that I bake on friends’ birthdays and carry to gatherings as gift to the host. When I reached the stage when I was passing on recipes to others, I concluded I had reached my goal.

I dance every week

.. and became a fitness freak in the process. I was forever looking for Aerobics classes in gyms in India. Weights and machines have never appealed to me but dancing does. I always wanted to be very fit and have great stamina. I joined the nearest gym that has regular group classes like Yoga, Spinning, Zumba, Pilates, etc. Obviously, Zumba is my favourite. The group received me with welcoming hands and I feel a great sense of belonging there. I literally let my hair down and dance like I’m the only one dancing (I happen to be a good dancer. So it’s okay!). Once my stamina improved with Zumba and yoga, I moved on to other exercises and my own capacity amazes me. To enjoy the process more, I got myself some gorgeous workout clothes (again something I always wanted) that boost my morale even more.

I get to eat all kinds of food

I am a foodie. Apart from my huge appetite and weak willpower, I love eating different cuisines and types of food. America is food paradise. You name it and its here. I have indulged in Italian, Peruvian, Mexican, Pakistani, Thai, American, Persian, Cuban and Greek food eagerly and have loved every bit of the journey. There is a new variety at every corner and it is a wonderful opportunity for people who love to just eat.

I learnt to talk

I used to be an introvert. Put me in a group of people (even if they were known) and I didn’t have guts to open my mouth. I preferred hiding behind someone. Here, I learnt to open up. I learnt to get along with all kinds of people. I gained the confidence to face people and strike a conversation with them.

I got even more obsessed with music

I love music. The first thing I do in the morning is switch on music. I love different genres of music. Like, ghazals, 90’s Bollywood, dance, Sufi. Here, I was introduced to the world of world music. Now I listen to all kinds of music – Country, 70’s, Meditation, Middle Eastern, Soft Rock. FM Radio and Spotify changed my world. It is now way better than before in this aspect.

And there have been many more take-aways.

So… if I really count my blessings, I am indeed blessed.

Now to the outfit. Lately, I am loving printed pants (this is another one I have). Abstract to conversation print to floral. They can even be ethnic. You can go crazy with them. I got these ones from AND and have worn them for almost every outing for a month. They are comfortable and have a great fit. I also love their ethnic appeal.

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Pants: AND

Top: Yishion

Leather flats: Westside

Neckpiece: Gifted (Also posted here)

Bag: Really old!

Team Ranger

Have you ever had liking, attachment or obsession with fictional characters? Fell in love with any male fictional character? Well, I have always had this problem. When I read the Shopaholic series, it was Luke Brandon. Now it is Ranger from the Stephanie Plum series. I am hooked on to these novels because of this character.

Ranger is Cuban-American, hot, dangerous, mysterious, super-intelligent. And he is as unmarried as a man can get.

He is a bounty hunter and much more. He starts off helping Stephanie learn the tricks of this trade and goes on to become her friend and occasional lover.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as it looks. There is a third guy, vice cop Morelli, in the picture. Stephanie and Morelli go back all the way to childhood.

Trenton girl Stephanie shares an on-and-off relation with Morelli but considers Ranger her friend and mentor. She is also hugely attracted to this friend-mentor and he doesn’t stop making advances towards her either.

That’s where we Ranger fans are bothered. Stephanie can’t choose one (“Babe,” Ranger said, “you need to make some decisions.” “I made decisions. I’m just having a hard time sticking to them.)”. She oscillates between both of them – each hot and attractive in their own way.

This love triangle has gained so much popularity that Stephanie Plum readers are divided into two large groups – Team Morelli and Team Ranger. Team Cupcake and Team Babe.

Need I say which team I belong to?

I am Ranger Ranger all the way. Team Babe.

Suddenly, I am attracted to anything mysterious or dark. A grand SUV. A sleek, shiny black Merc. Tinted glass. A lonely parking lot. A Tesla. Dusk.

I am obsessed with this mysterious character. He is tall, muscular and superhot. The air around him is usually a few degrees higher. His skin is the color of mocha latte. He wears only black. He has a fleet of expensive black cars, their source unknown. He owns a building where he and his team reside and conduct their operations. His house is secretive, not listed anywhere on records. It is as neat and progressive like him – sleek, black, sophisticated with state of art equipment. He is one of the few people in the city who can carry a concealed weapon. There is no lock he cannot open. There is no door he cannot pass through. He does all he can to watch Stephanie’s back. He silently helps her, puts all his energy and resources into taking care of her and gives her more protection than she can ask for (or deserves) without expecting (and getting) anything in return. It’s easy falling in love with this fictional guy (Sad but true. He is fictional). Women, including me, are taking their obsessions to different levels. Someone starts using Bulgari Men’s Green Shower Gel. Someone starts wearing black. I am dying to get a Rangeman T-shirt.

And here are the reasons why Stephanie should choose Ranger –

– Ranger loves Stephanie for who she is. She is a disaster magnet. She is silly, selfish, muddled. He doesn’t have to do so much for her. He can do without getting shot and having his cars burnt. He never attempts to change her.

– He has saved her life million times. He is beside her as soon as she is in trouble, even without her calling him. He just knows. Ranger has his ways.

– He has given her a key to his house – The BatCave. She is free to come in, stay, use the facilities there any time. Ranger leads a secret, dangerous life because of the work he does. And he trusts her enough to give her a key.

– Ella, the housekeeper and the only woman who enters the premises, calls him a ‘nice handsome man’. She takes care of his food, house and personal belongings. She knows how he lives and what goes on in his house. And she still calls him nice. And that is because Ranger treats her (and his Merry Men) well and lives a clean lifestyle. His people respect him.

– Stephanie has dragged him to her parents’ house for dinners (occasionally as a replacement for Morelli when the latter skipped out). He tolerates them and their awkward questions patiently and politely. For her.

– He keeps giving cars to Stephanie. His Mercs and Porches. She blows them up, gets them stolen. And all he says is – I’ll be there / I’ll send someone / I can replace the Porsche. I can’t replace you. You need to be more careful. And I don’t see her showing any bit of remorse over the destruction she causes. All she thinks about is herself.

– He is an intelligent, powerful, resourceful person. He has multiple businesses. He is awfully busy. But he makes time to check on her at least once a day.

– Ranger is Wizard. God. Wind. Shadow. Magic. Superhero. Batman.

– He makes advances towards Stephanie because he loves her and is deeply attracted to her. But he knows where to draw the line. He won’t cross the line when she is officially in a relationship with Morelli.

– Steph often lives in Ranger’s house and does office work for him. Even when Steph flirts back with Ranger, he knows how to stay away from her bed (his bed, actually).

– Stephanie takes liberty to occupy his house at free will which Ranger doesn’t question and yet, he has to explain himself to her time and again (especially when she royally occupies his bed and she sees him coming into the room in the wee hours of morning. She has the guts to give him a look and ask whether he is going to get into the same bed – because she is so scared of getting physically involved with him lest she gets enchanted by his charms. Ranger – poor Ranger – goes on to explain how he has been working or driving or chasing bad guys all night and needs some sleep. Gosh. Why does he have to explain… in his own house, dammit!!??).

– Ranger jumped off the bridge for her. For god’s sake, he jumped into a river to save her! He was there at her side just as she was being dangled off the railing and jumped in a second after she took the plunge. No one does it just for sex.

– If Stephanie is going to stick around in this profession, she cannot survive without Ranger. She needs him for protection and rescue.

– Ranger can read Stephanie’s mind.

Daniel Sunjata is Ranger (in the movie)

And not to mention..

– I messed up my mid-terms because of my obsession with Ranger (and Daniel Sunjata).

– I am still on Book 2, but I know everything that happens between Ranger and Stephanie up till Book 20.

– I have read group discussions, quotes, analysis – everything on their relationship.

– My heart is breaking over the fact that Ranger is so considerate, generous and caring and Stephanie is just using him. It is so heart wrenching. I feel so hurt about a nonexisting, fictional character.

I also have a few questions / comments / thoughts / requests for the author:

– Are you just dangling Ranger in front of us helplessly-in-love ladies to keep us interested in the series? Because from what I read, the later books get really boring and Ranger is the only reason people keep reading.

– Please don’t project Ranger as a sex monster who raises Stephanie’s body temperature every now and then and walks away no-strings-attached. He is much more than that.

– Stephanie is using Ranger, manipulating him. It hurts! She unabashedly sleeps with both men without giving any thought. She accepts help from either one shamelessly. She started out as a naive, adorable character. What happened to her later?

– Ranger saves her throughout each book out of his love and care for her. Often, he and his men get shot in the process. But every book ends with Steph sleeping with Morelli. Why? Just.. why?

– Ranger could snag a smarter woman. And he should to teach Stephanie a lesson.

– Ranger smiles. He laughs. He worries. He has a heart. Bring that side out. He is not all guns, sex and killing bad guys.

– I am uncomfortable with the fact that in One For The Money, Ranger is chatty, smiles and laughs a lot like a normal person. But later, probably after you decided to create a love triangle, you made him quiet, unsmiling, ‘not normal’ and sexy. Is that because you needed a twist to be added and used Ranger for it?

– You have conducted polls and we have voted for Ranger. This is it. Just close the chapter this way and let everyone live peacefully.

I have a lot of things to say to Team Morelli but I am trying to contain myself.

All those who could use a good light read, try reading this series. It is chick-lit combined with detective combined with rom-com. But do not blame me if Ranger captures your heart and mind. I am a victim too.

Find My Way

(Play music while you read!)

At times, do you have a problem with the way you are? I do, with one particular trait of mine. I am an introvert. I can go on talking to people I know and am close with but otherwise, I talk less. Not just that, I think a lot in my mind but I won’t speak out my thoughts.

This trait posed a great deal of problems for me after I moved to the US. I was meeting so many new people and I started going to school. And I knew no one. So, I had to open my mouth and make friends. But I wouldn’t. Or, couldn’t. I was too nervous. Often, I would try. But I would speak in such a meek voice that the person sitting beside me would not hear. And that would create more embarrassment for me.

I was otherwise confident. I have been asking questions in class and actively participate. I have been doing well in this totally new subject. This has given me oodles of confidence and boosted my self-esteem but still, its going to be a while when I start feeling like I belong here.

It took me a year to accept and get comfortable to a particular friend circle. A year of meeting them twice a month brought out the comfort level.

I know, I am no different than others. Just because they have been living here for so long does not mean they are better in any way. It’s just my anxious mind that muddled up my basic concepts.

Around a couple of months after I came here, I was picked up to participate in a webcast on Huffington Post. There were 5 other women in the webcast. It was a disaster. For one, I was at school, sitting in a corridor during break trying to interact on the webcam on my tablet. I could not hear a thing. I am not one to butt in a conversation. I could not participate even when they asked me to speak – because they could not hear me. I felt so ashamed.

I consoled myself saying I think better than I speak. I write better than I interact in a group. And perhaps, it is completely okay.

When I went to India this time, I surprised myself by chatting with people I barely knew and actively participating in groups. Of course, one year in US has brought about changes in me. I am more open than ever. But I was more free in India because I still consider India my home; I still find comfort there.

Aaaanyway, I enjoy window shopping and shopping here as I enjoy roaming around my college campus, going to the cafeteria and library. I have got used to certain malls, stores and of course my college and actually feel at home there.

So I guess things are improving.

Coming to the outfit post. I wore this on Sunday. I went to a car mela, a temple to attend a function and a social visit. I got this beautiful woollen vest from Janpath at the cost of peanuts. It is in lovely tweed – brown with pink dots. It goes with just about everything. it gives a 90’s look, maybe, but I think it is an evergreen, classic, smart Indo-western look. I accessories with a big metal pendant, wood-n-metal drop earrings, oxidized nose-ring, leopard print flats and a jhola bag.

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woolen vest

2014. Here I Come

I am so excited about the New Year, that I am asking 2014 to welcome me, instead of welcoming it. I am raring for the New Year.

2013 has been BIG for me because of the changes, most of them surprising & unexpected, in my life. 2013 has also been a learning. A learning about new things. Learning about the extent of my own capabilities. So here are my resolutions – aiming at making 2014 a better year.

I spent most of 2013 in self-doubt. No wonder, I did so many things I had never done before – like, baking, cooking, hosting parties, home decoration, driving in a new country, stitching – and yet, the only communication I had with myself is I can’t do it. Sad enough. Because if I had little more faith in myself, I could have done much, much more. The biggest battle has been with stitching. By joining fashion school, I had to do a lot of stitching. I learnt it and am far from perfect. But practice makes the man perfect and if the man refuses to practice, he goes nowhere! I was so afraid of failing, I never tried it. Until a friend asked me to stitch a shirt for her school project and I did it completely on my own. That gave me mountains of confidence and now, I am no longer afraid to try. I know, I have a long journey to cover but at least the beginning is in sight.

Time management has always been an issue from the days when I was working in Corporate. I tend to leave things for the last minute, especially things I am not confident about. I end up fretting and worrying in the end and can’t do things right. In my studies, stitching is always the area I delay. I do well in all other projects but stitching projects lay hidden till the end. I really want to change this attitude this year. I want to attack my fears instead of avoiding them. I want to tackle the most difficult things first.

The last semester, I totally lacked focus. Indeed, the first 6 months in US were tough. I spent it acclimatizing with the surroundings, culture, new routine and new career. The summer break brought me up to date with many of these. I was more ready for the second semester. But I did waste lot of time doing simply nothing. Or, spending too much time on unnecessary activities. I kept myself in my comfort zone and did not venture into newer, challenging activities, mainly stitching and designing.  Time is running out. I must be very focused this year.

And like every year I resolve to avoid shopping for clothes, shoes and bags unless utmost necessary or available for less than 8 dollars. Oh yes, you search the clearance racks patiently and you get good stuff at very cheap rates. You just have to be patient and not be needy!

There. These were my resolutions. How about you?

The Big Year That 2013 Was

I came to live in the US a year ago. I spent a year in confusion, struggle and coping up with a completely new life. Before I know, a year is over. And this is the perfect time to review how my year went (that’s my past HR experience talking).

But seriously, big changes have happened in the last 1 year. I married and came to California. A new house, new routine, new responsibilities, new city, new weather conditions, new lingo and a new career (you guys know about my mid-life career change? Okay, I need to talk about it someday, then).

When I look back at myself – my attitude, fears and confidence, I see a sea change.

There were lot of difficulties I battled and not having a job was hardly it. There were tiny things that I never thought would matter.

The weather, to begin with. It is cold here from December to February. Not cold like New York or Chicago but cold as per Bombay or Baroda standards. I could not even stand 13 degrees minimum temperature of Baroda, what do you think I would do when the maximum day temperature is only 9 degrees? I spent the entire winter holed up in blankets or warmers, sweaters and bulky woollen scarves, if I stepped out, being lazy, looking miserable and feeling miserable inside out. I stopped doing habitual things like dressing up well, wearing my usual jewellery and make-up because I was so obsessed with hating the cold. I just waited for summer to come and bring joy into my life. This Fall, it is so much better. I face the cold like it doesn’t matter to me. I cook and work and dress up and go out and feel happy. It’s not that I enjoy the windy 7 degrees temperature; it’s just that I have other things in mind and don’t bother about cold.

Cooking has been a whole new activity for me. all I had ‘cooked’ before was coffee, maggi and eggs in the microwave. Yes, microwave. And the only things I could do on the stove were frying sausages and making grill sandwiches. These also happened to be my specialities. Now, I host lunches with girlfriends and dinners with the group. I cook good Indian food, have mastered many breakfast dishes and sometimes create my own stuff. I totally, totally enjoy cooking. Because I love eating too, I almost drool while cooking. Oh, and I bake too. I guess, I have come a long way.

Taking on a new career is more difficult than I thought. I chose to study Fashion Design, an old dream, after working in Corporate for 7+ years. So not only did I have to cope with a new environment, I had to change gears with respect to my career! What a contrast. HR to Fashion? I had numerous difficulties there. I had to do so many things I had never done (like, sewing) or stopped doing decades ago (like, sketching). I even had to brush up my factions addition / subtraction! Chaos. But I did start very enthusiastically and did well. Sewing is a skill that takes lot of time and practice and I am still learning. But otherwise, I was on track. Till the last 2 months of the first semester. Things got complicated, I had to sew more and I lost confidence and interest. I became complacent and just wanted the semester to be done with. This attitude was actually alarming. How can you be passionate about something for a decade, leave an established career for it and then lose interest in it! But this second semester has been much different. Not being a newcomer to the college and field made a big difference. I ended up being more dedicated, organized, curious and enthusiastic. Even when stress built up towards the end of the semester and I had little time to finish off work, I did not lose my energy. I did all that was needed and am raring for the next semester. That’s a very good sign!

And so many more issues.

So, I have struggled, I have failed, I have been anxious. I lost friends, independence and confidence. But in the midst of it all, I learnt new things. I met new people. I made some really good friends. I began to love this new city I live in.

Life may have been tough at times but never boring. Something has always occupied my mind – either anxiety or joy of triumph.

Would you believe it if I said I have already made resolutions for the next year? I am that excited about life in general.

Life In Pictures

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I got (actually, picked up for free) these books from a soon-to-be opened library in Santa Clara. They had 5 cabinets full of used books kept outside. One could donate books here and take some to read. Heavens know how much I love used books. So I picked these up.

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I had cream of asparagus soup in an Italian restaurant in downtown way back in May and I loved the taste and texture of asparagus. The idea of making it struck me recently. I rushed to the nearby Chinese department store and got myself a pack of extremelt healthy looking asparagus. I found a recipe but modified it to suit my taste. And it turned out to be lovely. I will share the recipe soon!

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I have been a regular at the gym since September. I thoroughly enjoy my yoga and zumba classes. And I come back starved. All my way back, I think about food. That hunger and despair leads to some exciting experiments. Here, having home-made cinnamon apple jam with steamed turkey slice, spicy fried egg with toast and feta cheese..

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A friend made brought some south Indian style tomato chutney for me and I decided to make some healthy uttapam to go with it. Oats Uttapam and this tangy tomato chutney turned out to be a perfect Saturday morning breakfast.

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It has become cold here. Clouds and cold winds greet me in the morning and stop me from getting out of bed with energy. The day remains dull and a bit grey. I feel lazy enough to go into the bath, I hate coming out of the hot shower. So this is how I lure myself – French vanilla coffee with cinnamon. Easy to make and extremely yummy.

And, Happy Thanksgiving, guys! Hope you have a great holiday.