I’m not anti-social. I’m just not social

Many of you don’t know this about me.

I didn’t know this about me.

In fact, I didn’t realise there’s a term for the uneasiness I feel when I step out my door, or even when you step into my life.

Social anxiety.

A friend once hid behind a car when she recognized someone on the road. She had nothing against him; she just wasn’t prepared to run into anyone she knew. I heard this story when a bunch of folks were laughing about it. I couldn’t, because I knew exactly how she felt.
When I tried explaining my uneasiness, I thought, ‘We all go through the same thing’.

Apparently, social anxiety isn’t normal.

What makes it deceptively worse is that I’ve successfully acted in theater, moderated CIO panel discussions and even spoken at events. It seems that no trace of fear is visible.
It’s laughable- yes. But it isn’t silly. Let me tell you how it works. When you introduce me to someone and say, “She’s a biker,” my palms start sweating like it has guilty blood.

All I want to say in response is:

“Oh boy… Why are you still looking at me?”

Instead, I blink four times.

Then I nod.

And then, just to be polite, I say, “Yeah I ride a bike. This salad is awesome!”

If you want to be kind to me, please pretend I don’t exist. I’m a great listener and I’m happiest being in the background.

And do NOT compliment me when there’s a third person – that’s the worst. Just yesterday, a cousin commented on a Facebook snap saying, “Whoa, how cool are you!”. To make things worse, my sister replied to it: “She’s the coolest-that-ever-lived.”

It took me 18 hours to figure out how to respond. I know you guys love me, but you have no idea what you did to me.

Yes, I realise how ridiculous it sounds and my anxiety tends to confuse people around me. My husband took a while to figure out how I can be super-confident while on work calls, and flip to the other side when I order in. He obviously doesn’t realise how intense the pressure is!

This is how it plays in my mind:

Me: “Hi, I’d like to order a large Veggie Delight for home delivery.”

Random Pizza Guy: “We’re out of Veggie Delight. Would you like to order something else instead?”

Uhm… Vegetables… I need a pizza. He said no. Now what? What’s the right response? There’s too little time to check up on Google.  What has vegetables in it and is a pizza? Oh crap. It’s already been 5 seconds. Now the pizza guy will think I’m an idiot. Quick! Say Something! Anything! What’s next on the menu below Veggie Delight?

Me: “Well, do you have the Pepperoni pizza”

Crap. I wanted veggies today. Olives! I’ll miss those olives. And mushrooms. Now it’s too late to change the order. If I change my mind, he’ll think I’m dumb. Don’t sound dumb.

Random Pizza Guy: “Yes, we do”

Daaaamn! They have it. Olives vs sounding intelligent. This is a pickle!

Me: “Well, in that case, I’ll have large a Pepperoni pizza. Thank you.”

I get a feeling that my husband asks me to order home deliveries just to watch me and amuse himself. Thank god for apps!

So, in case you find me taking long to respond to something you just said, please understand – it’s not me being arrogant or lost, it’s you. Because, well… you exist in my life.

And if you have any tips for people like me to feel better, do share! Do not include ‘Hide’, ‘Pretend’ or ‘Meditate’ because none of these work.


Hold on

Avery wondered why everyone but her thought her Mark was a dick.

Mark was hers. Once.

“He was a moron”.

“Mark’s a different person now”.

“Then what made you stop loving him?”

He always lived one step behind – he had a way of always reminiscing about the past. It wasn’t melancholy, but a refusal to live the moment. There was no moment when he felt content, and that’s a sad thought.

For her, it was all about feeling alive – watching img_20161012_182757998the leaves of a tree rustle and play with sunlight, gazing at curtains swinging with the breeze, observing the phases of the moon, listening to his heart beat while she laid on his chest.

One afternoon, he was fast asleep and she was lost in a mindless state between sleep and lucidness. He pulled her closer, still asleep, and called her ‘Nina’. That’s a routine – the woman in his life always took a back seat.

When they met first, he was dating Nina., who numbed his old wounds. Little did they know it would never heal. Nina went away and in came Avery, to nurse the newly scathed soul. To be happy with him meant sharing him with his past.

She didn’t like the back seat. They parted with promises of remaining friends. And he missed his past, as he obviously would.

No one else saw what it meant. Now that she was no longer the woman in his life, she had all she craved for from him – attention, respect and deep, flirty conversation. While he courted other women.

Stepping out was the only way she could stay healthy, stay a part of his life, and keep the butterflies in her stomach.

But stop loving him? Hah.



It’s Father’s Day, not ‘Single Moms’ Day

All day long, I’ve been seeing Father’s day updates and wishes on Facebook addressed to single mothers. The Raymond ad almost brought tears to my eyes. Almost.

But something didn’t fit right.

Then it struck me- it is father’s day.


Not single mother’s day.

Yes, there’s a day for that too. 21 March. It’s called ‘single parent’ day.

It took decades after inventing a Mother’s day in 1914 until someone officially declared a Father’s day in either 1966 or 1972. It took people over 50 years to realise that if you reserve a day for mothers, it’s only fair that you credit fathers too.

There’s one day in a year reserved for dads and we snatch it away from them.

Do not misunderstand the point I’m making. Some of my friends are single moms I admire them for bringing up their children beautifully. It’s a tough job and they deserve to be honored too, but today just isn’t their day!

By doing this, you’re hijacking another superdad’s thunder. My dad is a superdad and you’re taking credit away from men like him. It’s almost as if you’re saying, “I know it’s your birthday but Sarah had a bad day. So, let Sarah cut the cake and keep all your gifts.”

But Sarah’s birthday is on 21 March!

Get the point?

And what about single dads? Why are we pretending like they don’t exist? I know such amazing single fathers out there who also take a double extra large effort to ensure their child grows into a good human being. Why aren’t we honoring them on Father’s day?

The concept of Father’s Day came about because of a single dad who raised his six kids alone after his wife died in 1910. By wishing mothers, aren’t we devaluing such fathers instead of celebrating them and making them feel appreciated?

Fathers are fathers, and mothers are mothers

(Ouch! This one is controversial.)

No one can explain this bitter truth better than a single parent. Find out how different the roles are from a single parent. They are amazingly strong Wonder Moms or a Super Dads and they support their kids in every way they can. But most often, they can’t fill up the other parent’s role.

Let’s be mature and recognise that each one plays a different, beautiful, unique role. (I am not talking about abusive fathers here.) Many of you may not agree with me on this one, but try speaking to a single parent and I’d love to hear your opinion.

Here’s the thing. A single parent has one of the hardest jobs on earth and struggles to provide the best for their child’s welfare. But let’s not undercut the fathers on their special day. Let’s celebrate the deserving dads of the world.

Happy Father’s Day.

Also, let’s keep aside the notion that these occasions may just be business gimmicks. Let’s save it for National Argument Day. (No, I’m not making it up.)

Here’s a little something for daddies I found on Youtube.


Blowing Away the Birthday Blues

I woke up thinking it’s just any other day- another day when I turn a year older.


Birthday. Big deal.

I wish I could hide under the sheets and wake up tomorrow, but there are people waiting to celebrate the day. Must not disappoint them.

So I wake up, freshen up, act surprised yet pleased when someone brings a cake, hang out with friends/ family, and then I thank god because it’s over. There are moments I steal to myself with either a book, gelato, a walk – not really an acceptable way of celebrating a birthday. That’s how I survived eight birthdays.

Apparently, there’s a socially accepted term for this – birthday anxiety. It’s simple: we get sad, scared or anxious because it’s our birthday. It could be due to various reasons – a clown who scared us on your third birthday, someone’s idea of a surprise, measuring accomplishments, all that attention, or just a simple desire to have a perfect day. Ask anyone with birthday anxiety how they feel about a party and they’ll disappear for a month!

I thought I was doing a good job accepting my anxiety by hiding it away.

And then one day, I got a Facebook notification that a friend turned thirty. Only, he isn’t here anymore. We lost him to cancer a few years ago. If he could come back for a day, imagine how his family and friends would have pampered him. Imagine how he would celebrate. A privilege denied to him.

And here I am.

Lucky to be alive. Lucky to have a beautiful family and friends who love me.

Here I am.

Denying myself all their love. Taking life for granted. Letting a trivial event from ages ago affect me like my life is ruined forever.

This year, I surrendered. I told my husband, Sam, exactly what I wanted to do- swim, wear a dress, apply pink nail paint, have good food, chill at home and spend the evening outdoors. As trivial as it sounds, it’s one of the best birthdays I had!

I got over my fear. The party is saved for next year (baby steps, baby!).

Who’s the fieriest of them all: Bhut Jolokia

A treasure made it all the way from Shillong to my kitchen in Bangalore.

Bhut jolokia, Naga Chilies

Bhut jolokia, Naga Chilies

It’s almost romantic how ingredients are grown in an extreme end of the country and find its way into your kitchen- only because someone who loves you understands deep your love for food.

The aroma of this fruit (yes, chili is a fruit) takes me back to the streets of Broadway, Cochin. Spices are displayed in huge white sacks.

A walk down the street is a bouquet of aromas – cinnamon, star anise, cloves, black pepper, cardamom. It takes you back to history.

The aroma isn’t shy and mild; they’re loud, strong, robust. It seduces me each time. Do you know that feeling?
IMG_20151028_172447It’s no wonder that the quest for spices made people fight wars,  and write poetry. That’s probably why ingredients make the best gifts.

This time, the touring sound engineer got me Naga chillies, or Bhut Jolokia – it literally translates to ‘Ghost Pepper’. It’s probably named so because of what its heat turns people into.

Years ago, a friend from Manipur got me a chili. I popped a piece in- like a pill.

Tears. Sweat. Fire. Shivers – this was serious shit. I couldn’t feel my face. No amount of milk, cheese and sugar helped. I had swallowed a fireball.

A raw Naga chili – never ever. Ever again. I have evolved. This time, I bottled up my fiery little fruits for another day of adventure.

IMG_20151028_172925 IMG_20151028_174110IMG_20151028_173742

Chillies from the hills of Shillong


The bird’s eye chili, also known as ThaiChili are actually Mexican in origin. Chillies were brought to this side of the world by Spanish and Portuguese traders (and invaders) in the 16th-17th century.

In India, it can be found in regions like Meghalaya, Assam and Kerala.

And yes, I’ve been reading up on chilies all day.

Somewhere beyond my reach


Somewhere in a desert
stretched out like a yawn.
A desert so dry,
soaked up my thoughts.
The desert so content
Empty yet aware.
Somewhere in the desert
there was a calling.

2-Up Travelogue on a 13,000 km trip

Last year, Sam and I went on a journey that took us one and a half months, covering 13,000 km. We rode pillion on a motorcycle through Bangalore – Jhansi –Delhi – Pangi Valley – Ladakh – Spiti Valley – Dehradun – Varanasi – Bodh Gaya – Jamshedpur – Puri – Vizag – Chennai – Kanyakumari – Bangalore at one shot.

Sam and I recently had a lovely opportunity to recently address Flipkart’s employees at their event Blue Sky, where we spoke about our exciting bike trip, why we travel and how to prepare for such journeys. It’s a mini-travelogue along with travel tips in the end.

Here’s the video. Hope you enjoy it!

How To Ruin Your Life (Without Even Noticing That You Are)

This lovely write-up is in tune with how I feel today.

Thought Catalog

Erin KellyErin Kelly

Understand that life is not a straight line. Life is not a set timeline of milestones. It is okay if you don’t finish school, get married, find a job that supports you, have a family, make money, and live comfortably all by this age, or that age. It’s okay if you do, as long as you understand that if you’re not married by 25, or a Vice President by 30 — or even happy, for that matter — the world isn’t going to condemn you. You are allowed to backtrack. You are allowed to figure out what inspires you. You are allowed time, and I think we often forget that. We choose a program right out of high school because the proper thing to do is to go straight to University. We choose a job right out of University, even if we didn’t love our program, because we…

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