Virtual versus Real

Before CAL

After eight years of fighting for survival, hunting for a job at my age and then actually working full time kept me busy with not much free time to explore any other dimension both professionally and personally. Suddenly my job as marketing executive ended when I finished the marketing assignment for Ripples mall. I was without a job and not actually interested to do a job in future. I am a born teacher and my love for all things pretty and nice gave birth to the concept of a grooming school. Not that I am an authority on it but I sure like to think I can guide the young girls of today caught up in the rat race. I did some research about the practicality of the venture and got very encouraging response that Vijayawada actually needs something like this and all the young girls need to be taught how to be a lady. The only real elegance is in the mind; if you’ve got that, the rest falls into place automatically. Simplicity, good taste and grooming are the three fundamentals of good dressing and these do not cost money. Grooming is the secret of real elegance. The best clothes, the most wonderful jewels, the most glamorous beauty don’t count without good grooming. Thus began my pet business enterprise – “Élan, the style statement”. I worked singlehandedly on this not knowing where to start or what to do. I went to Hyderabad and Mumbai to check out the infrastructure in institutes that were already established. After visiting Frankfinn in Mumbai and Panache in Hyderabad I realized that my visualization was quite compatible or even better than them. I roped in two of my friends who were equally enthusiastic about the project but then due to some reasons they opted out. Again I was floundering but still I wanted to see my baby come alive. Along with the décor and setting up the institute, I worked nights to compile the syllabus. I believe in the dictum that if u tell me I will forget, if you show me I may try to remember but if you involve me I will never forget! This led to the thought that I should have all my theory on PPT. I had no clue of how to prepare one and by trial and error I learned how to make a presentation! The next milestones were the launch and the publicity of Elan. I felt like giving up at one point as it was getting too much to handle alone. But then I wasn’t going to wallow in self pity and give up. The menu was set- Badam milk, wafer thin sandwiches, aloo tikkis and ice-cream; the invitations were out, the Guest of Honor was invited and finally the day of launch had arrived. I had butterflies in my stomach but all went off really well. Finally my baby Élan was born. Silly me to think that my baby would grow fast and start taking long strides soon; maybe I was expecting too much too soon. I counted on my wide circle of friends to at least spread the word but in vain. I think expectation is the key to disappointment and where there is no expectation there will no disappointment either. Here I was after a month of launch and no students to talk of. It was time to use some of the marketing tools and I got banners and fliers of Elan. Imagine there is not a single publicity company in the city on which you can entrust your whole advertising campaign. I struggled to find someone to distribute the fliers and to put up the banners. I myself went around checking out the flier distribution and handed out a few myself. I have never been out till late in the night but I went around the city to have the banners put up all night following the workers on the rickshaw. I came home at almost 4 in the morning. I gave ads in the paper and at the end of all this I just got a few inquiries which did not culminate into actual registration. Sigh!!I was clueless as to what I was doing wrong. I had lots of time on my hands now and I started blogging a bit and doing some freelance writing and translations. I was wallowing in the doldrums of inactivity and failures not knowing how to keep my hyper active mind occupied.I barely go out and I don’t have much to do at home. I used to be hands on mom and homemaker; Churning out all sorts of goodies and experimenting in the kitchen to satisfy the husband a total foodie and my son who took after him was my pet passion. Now I didn’t have even all that to fall back on.

Post CAL Effect

Esha, my daughter has just started taking an interest in cooking since she has left home. Her dad never let her come into the kitchen and she loved that. My son Pratik, is an accomplished cook as he used to hang on to my apron strings since he was a kid and watch me in the kitchen. He used to bombard me with questions, not only to do with food but also Haley’s comet!! One day my daughter suddenly suggested a food group- Chef at large. I thought it would be just another food group and joined it with much trepidation. Thank you Esha for introducing me to CAL. CAL gave food and life a new meaning. Sid Khullar, who started the group is really passionate about food and proved that “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all”- Harriet Van Horne and CAL is his labour of love. CAL suddenly became my world. I am logged on to it all the time and I reach out and find a ready and willing response whenever I do. I felt so at home and made some wonderful friends in no time. They have become my saviors though they do not know this. I learnt that he who eats alone chokes alone. I used to avoid my mealtimes as I hate eating alone and cooking for myself. I used to make do with some murmura or  bread and black tea. But CAL gave me the much needed motivation to not only cook but also share what I cooked and the appreciation from them is an added incentive. Nobody ever asks me if i have had anything to eat. One Sunday, I had no plans of making roti for myself and just then Mona, asked me what i was having for lunch. It felt so good to hear that and I got up, made roti with the banana sabzi, cut some cucumber and there I was having a wholesome meal. I started believing that one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well  and now I feast my eyes on the food on CAL and motivate myself to rustle up something that I can share on CAL and something that I would relish too. After always cooking for others, cooking for myself seems to be a new but not a bad thing after all. My humble cooking is no way a match for the gourmet cooking dished out by all the gourmands on CAL but I have never been made to felt in any way inferior. It has always been dinned into my head that the virtual can never equal the real world. But I am going to totally disagree. I have been going through pretty low periods these past few months and was losing heart and my confidence. Wallowing in self pity coz of my solitude and I took solace in CAL and my friends there. If women can be worst enemies then they can make awesome friends too. Here i would like to mention that a few other virtual friends too have been a significant part of my life although I am a bit too scared to befriend total strangers. When I was bordering on the negative aspects around me and riding a merry-go-round of issues, it was these virtual friends who pulled me out of my desolate existence and brought me on track on the path of normal life. I hope I don’t leave out any names here…if I do then forgive me coz it isn’t voluntary.Harpreet, Kaajal and Sonal gave me a warm welcome and my posts were valued by them and others followed suit too. All these lovely ladies are on my must visit list on my next trip to Delhi. Kapil Bahl is a warm, honest and very sincere friend whom I connected with very fast (I do love to pull his leg at any given opportunity though) and he is such a sport.Mona and Kapil, made a big ado about the simple pickles I sent them and I really felt cared for. Prachi sent me a friend request and I accepted readily and then followed the others. Mona, who is an absolute darling and all these friends who are all younger to me I still feel am on a  real good comfort level with all of them. I was out to turn Mona the tomboy into Mona, the pretty lady but now that I know her, she in turn has taught me a thing or two about life. Sonal, is a real sweetheart always making me feel so good about my posts on Elan (you are a good boost for my ego Sonal). Gauri, the strong runner has taught me thing or two about resilience. Bhavna is like a daughter and a mom rolled into one. At such a young age she has the knowledge of a grandmother and I adhere to her sage advice. She always pulls me back from my negative mode and has even given me productive things to do. This girl really amazes me with her wisdom, her outlook on life and her sheer hardworking nature. Rhea is a happy go lucky food lover and her mug and pork fetish is endearing. Michaela and Dana are a real inspiration as they have settled in India against tremendous odds and have carved a niche for themselves in all our hearts. Anshie is the vociferous voice from across the globe and she is a real riot of fun and laughter.Lakshmi is the sweetest who likes  everybodys’ posts  and she surprisingly has taught me how to take a stand and not take things lying down. Aparna is just as old as my daughter and its fun when she is around. Harleen, I still need to befriend but seems a bindaas babe. CAL is a platform where I connect with Esha and Pratik too and now it seems like home. Maybe someday soon I will be friends with Antara, Ipshita, Anamika and my CAL family will grow. I am going to visit Esha soon and am looking forward to meeting my Virtual friends for Real; they have brought me out from the depths of despair to the world of living (FOOD) :p (Will have the pic with all of them here ) Where have all my so called REAL friends gone??  They do not like my posts, or comment or appreciate anything that am doing. They are clueless about whats going on in my life. My Virtual friends are the ones who are encouraging me not only on CAL but also on Elan. How can I thank you enough?? Love you all and God bless you. Emotions here on CAL are very much that-REAL and are not like a computer that makes it Virtual. Maybe someday even I would learn to bake fluffy cakes and dishes that tickle the senses before they touch the palate. There is no love sincerer than the love of food said G.B.Shaw.

PS: I guess I just jumped the gun and now the cracks are showing on CAL too. Well nobody is perfect neither am I!!

Life goes on and am waiting to see what else it has in store for me….. 🙂


20 Comments Add yours

  1. Bhavna says:

    Thank you so much for your kind words Harjeet. It is good to see you go on without any support and find your own inner strength. Life gets better when we make peace with the resources we have and give it our best. Love and Hugs


    1. No Bhavna, I havent been kind at all..infact you with your young mind and wisdom have shown me another perspective of life….stay blessed sweety….Love and hugs to u too


  2. Kapil Bahl says:

    I wish you all the best in life, this is truly amazing. We look forward to meet ya in Aamchi Mumbai…:)


    1. Thanq Kapil…amazing are all of u who have kept me going 🙂 cant thank you all enough.


  3. Kaajal Pradhan lamba says:

    Those are such beautiful words 🙂 and we all love you Harjeet 🙂 like I said once you are the Godmother of CaL :))


    1. Bless u all Kaajal for bringing some sunshine into my dark life 🙂


  4. Laksthegr8 says:

    Hi Harjeet, ur “anecdote” reels of your emotions for CAL. You were willing to experiment and CAL turned out to be this medium of “the transformation” for you. So, hats off to YOU for being OPEN MINDED and CAL 🙂


    1. Hi…thank you for going through my blog and commenting.May I know who this is plzz?


      1. Laksthegr8 says:

        LAKSTHEGR8 🙂 .
        Let’s c , someone related to “I was out to turn Mona the tomboy into Mona”


      2. Aha….so its Lakshmi 🙂


      3. Laksthegr8 says:

        yup 🙂


  5. Ansh says:

    Oh! How beautiful is this post! You are a strong, kind and wonderful person. I am honored to have known you and have you as a friend.


    1. The feeling is absolutely mutual Anshie 🙂


  6. Oh Wow..What a warming inspiring story. I am smiling 🙂


    1. Thanq Sangeeta …u keep me smiling too….ur recipes r an inspiration 🙂


  7. Love you..there’s so much warmth in what you’ve written and I guess all of us feel the same. Thank you for bringing a smile on all our face, yet again. ❤


    1. Hey Aparna, thanks for u all for the smile on my face ….Love u


  8. Yujana says:

    Hai Harjeetji. …this is yujana….went through ur blog….liked it very much….your story is very motivating …learnt a lot from it…you r very strong and kind person….your tips on personal grooming were very good… to learn somemore….very useful…very fortunate to know a person like you….☺


    1. Hi Yujana…thank u so much for the wonderful words of appreciation but I do not think I am worth it.I am just an ordinary woman but had to go through extraordinary circumstances. It is my good fortune that I am in the midst of u all. God has been very kind and I am always grateful to Him for all that I have.


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