7 ways a sabbatical will change your life:

Everyone talks about how a sabbatical will change your life.

So I took that sabbatical. It extended from 6 months to a year. And now

On the other side of that year, I find myself sitting at my computer about to tell you the same thing.

A sabbatical WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Take it!

  1. It will make you prioritize

Someone once asked me to pick between a 5 star and a tent, I said “both”. I always wanted it all, the luxuries and the hardcore experiences, the 5 star buffet and the local village meal, the drunk night out and the next morning adventure.

I was two very different people in one.

So often on sabbatical, you are faced with that moment when you have to pick. It’s not this AND that, it’s either or. Because there is only one real you. But luckily a sabbatical usually does make you stop for a moment, take a step back and actually figure out what you want to do, not what everyone wants to do. And then gives you the chance to do that.

P.S. I pick tent

  1. It’s a big world with a lot of different people

We often grow up and live and eventually die in our comfort zone, surrounded by people we have always known and loved. But what scares me is what about all the other people in the world, I’m never going to meet them, know their names and stories. But luckily I did meet tons. (never enough though)

You’ll meet all kinds of people. From strangers that change your life with one conversation, to strangers that stay strangers after a whole evening together. You’ll meet people that you’ll trust with all your heart, that will give your life new direction, help you without any reason. But you will also meet people who are nasty just because, people who will break your trust, who will not be what they say they are.

But the point is, the more you meet the less you didn’t meet.

  1. You will stop finding yourself. You’ll start making yourself.

I always wondered who I am, and I was always trying to figure out in my head, what box do I fit into? When one day I realized. If I stop thinking so hard about it and just start doing what comes naturally to me. I’ll start becoming myself. So I did.

On sabbatical you meet a lot of new people and are put in a lot of new situations. These might be out of your comfort zone, but that is exactly when you do something new, you don’t act out of habit. And every time you think for yourself, figure out the answer to a question you don’t already know the answer to, take a new decision, you are becoming more like yourself than you’ve ever been.

  1. You’ll get more confident.

I was just another South Bombay girl, with a decent career, a good set of friends and a lot of dreams. But so were a thousand others. And more than a thousand other girls were prettier, had better careers, cooler friends and even better dreams. How could I even compete?

But somewhere I stopped trying to compete with them, I started competing with the old me instead. And guess what, I won!

On sabbatical you get the chance to start living the life you always dreamed of and becoming the person you want to be. Day to day life won’t come in the way. The more you push yourself the more you’re going to start liking yourself. And when you like yourself, others find it hard not to.

  1. You will learn to let go of what you can’t control!

Why hasn’t he called me back? Why doesn’t he see me the way I see him? Why does she always talk to me like that? What if this was the best I was going to get? What if my flight gets delayed tomorrow?

These questions never had answers that made sense to me. So I stopped looking for them. Instead I started letting life ask the questions: ‘what can you make of this crappy situation? What to do this weekend? Where do you want to go? And enjoying the unexpected answers.

On sabbatical you are always meeting new people, travelling to new places, experiencing new things. Carrying old baggage around gets tiring.

It slows you down, it stops you form enjoying this moment, that you have now and you will not have even a minute later.

You will drag some of it along for a while, but at some point you will let it go. To hold on to something new, something better than what you had! To be free to live in the moment before it passes you by.

  1. You will say yes to more

The best things happened to me when I least expected them to. So often I wanted to say no, but I pushed myself to say yes. And the results were unbelievable. I found a place that stole my heart on my Cinque Terre trek, I understood my body more than I ever could, I got stung by a plant, I attended and sang along at a Dutch church mass, I saw a seahorse inches away from me. And to think, that I never wanted to say yes to any of these!

On sabbatical, you will have a plan or at least an opinion. And those will hold you back. Try to purposely go the other way, say yes to a plan that has nothing to do with your own, let someone else lead the way, do that thing that scares you. And just wait to be amazed!

  1. You will change your life

You will discover new role models, find new life mottos and fight society to hold on to them tight and live them!

these are mine:

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I left my heart in strange places

My feet were itching, my heart was aching, and my mental clock was ticking.

It was almost time! Time to get out of the city with my backpack on my back and my feet pointing way south.

It was Tamil Nadu time. It was kite surfing time.

I didn’t know what it was about the south, but every few months I always find myself right there with the biggest smile on my face.

Maybe it was the first real trip of my Sabbatical, the first taste of the life I had always wanted to live.

Where it wasn’t what people thought that determined our plans, but the wind and our own bloody damn hearts.

Moving from place to place, with no real plans, going where our feet take us, staying there as long as we feel like.

And then moving on.

Learning new things, getting over old fears, meeting interesting people, sharing a part of your soul with them, taking a chance, letting it work out, letting it not work out.

And moving on.

Letting other people be in charge, learning to listen instead of talk, actually enjoying it. Hating it. Seeing the good and bad side to it.

And moving on.

Being excited to learn kiting. Being super afraid to get hooked on to the big kite. Getting dragged. Losing things, including my original skin colour. Slowly understanding it, trying harder, falling some more, but definitely making progress.

And moving on.

Trying to make one song the trip song. Failing, Trying harder and succeeding. Trying to fit in to a group, being super unsure of myself but sticking to the original version of me. Slowly fitting in. Warming up to people I didn’t like in the beginning. Making memories. Inventing games. Saying goodbye to them.

And moving on.

Watching sunsets, counting shooting stars, waiting for sunrises, watching the sunset from my airplane window while saying goodbye to the south.

And again moving on.

Moving on.
Moving on.
Every time.

But leaving a piece of me behind every time too.

How can a trip make me feel so much?

Is it the sport, is it the place, is it the people, is it the moments?

I’m not sure.

But I’m sure of one thing. I have left so many pieces of my heart in these strange places. I have to keep going back. Hoping someday I’ll get it back.

Just to lose it to another place again.

The smartphone sabbatical

Hey, I’m lost. What do I do? Google maps to the rescue.

I’m in a place where I don’t know anybody – facebook it is!

I’m in a new city by myself – whatsapp whatsapp whatsapp!

I’m at a bar waiting for a friend – its time to go through old messages and delete some

I’m on a long ass train journey – plug in my earphones – bye – bye world

I lost my Iphone – oh shit!

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

I wish I could just call it, but how! I don’t have a phone. So then I have to go talk to another human and borrow their phone and call mine. Its switched off!

Double shit!

After the initial hour of panic, somewhere, somehow I managed to find some peace of mind (even though I couldn’t tweet about my lost phone). It was so quiet, no beep, no beep beep, no group chats that you don’t even really care about anyway. I looked about, talked to some people and learnt a thing or two.

Hmmm. Interesting. So there is a world out there. And it’s not too bad either. I mean of course you can’t compare it to an Iphone, but being broke it would have to do.

The world and a simple flip phone that basically did nothing. (except looked pretty damn cool and was the topic of conversation at quite a few parties)

After the initial wave of excitement died down, I hated my non-smart phone! But now I had gone and made such a big deal of it that I had to suck it up and use it!

I tried sneakily to use whatsapp on it, but the gods of technology were watching and my stupid phone was really stupid.

So I gave up. I was honestly borderline depressed. Honestly. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I kept flipping open my dumb flip phone, hoping there would be something on that screen to entertain me, give my life meaning. But nope. No such luck. All it said was – no schedule today. I had lost my best friend and I had to replace it, fill in the void. So I did.

With people, books, early morning runs, offline conversations and actual best friends.

I moved back to phone calls and text messages (non qwerty keypad without t9 dictionary – can you imagine that?). everyone cursed me, told me I’d gone mad, some even offered me their old phones. “What do you mean we cant whatsapp you? just get back to the normal world please!”

But I was starting to like this abnormal world. my phone bills dropped. My friendships increased. I rekindled my lost love for reading. An actual book. Lots of books. I started reading 2-3 books at a time.

Suddenly my dumb phone didn’t seem like such a dumb idea.

I actually started noticing the world around me (not the world wide web one) the trees, flowers, sunsets, birds and people! Yes even people!

I spent less time trying to be funny on a group chat and more time actually meeting people and having a conversation beyond, “hey, what’s up?” – “nm, you tell me.”

Making big plans that I still haven’t actioned (but hey, I’m one step closer), having long phone conversations that honestly were super awkward in the beginning and slightly less awkward in the middle but so easy after that.

I started spending more time with myself. When was the last time you were alone and didn’t feel the need to look down at your phone? To know what everyone else was doing. To tell people you were spending “me-time”.

When was the last time to you spend time wondering what in the world is wrong with all of us? when did we become so driven by society and social likability?

Where did individuality go (no not the kind you boast about on facebook).

Triple shit!

Are we forgetting who we really are? Because we are so busy trying to get the perfect picture, do the cool thing, tweet about the trending topic?

To be reassured that we did the right thing only after we reach a certain number of likes or comments?

What if I really don’t think the Iphone 6 looks good? And that facebook profile picture of yours that 232 people love, is actually stupid? That I met a friend for coffee and didn’t feel the need to take a selfie, post it on instagram and then share it on facebook?

What if for the first time in a very long time I actually realize that doing what I want to do, maybe not telling the world about it, being the only person who knows and likes it (in my mind). Is enough?

That even though I still love facebook and am using the world wide web to share this blog. I feel a little differently about it. Sure likes still make me feel good. But they don’t dictate my behaviour. Because you know what, even if you decide to not to do the cool, some people will think its cool and like it anyway.

But what’s better is that maybe I might get somebody to stop and think about it for a second, maybe like my post and then actually put down their smart phone for a bit.

That would make me feel pretty dam smart.

P.S I lost my flip phone too. Using my mother’s used smart phone and I hate it. Please stop whatsapping me.

stay in friday night, go out saturday morning.

Should I have that drink and be the fun girl or should I be a boring girl, leave the party, go home, sleep and wake up at an insanely hour to go sailing!

With the drink sitting in front of me, it seemed like a tough decision. But finally the wanderer in me won! I hailed a cab and left. Still wondering if I’d made the right decision, I guess like most of us, I suffer from serious FOMO (fear of missing out).

But missing out an opportunity to sail to Alibaug from Bombay, seemed scarier, than missing a fun night out.

Getting into bed wasn’t hard, waking up at 5 am was!

But I managed.

The excitement was building. I was going sailing! (I had no idea what it really meant). It looked fun, sounded cool and was my next unplanned adventure.

I got dressed, made a bunch of sandwiches, grabbed my sweatshirt, forgot the sandwiches and was on my way!

After all the rushing, I reached a bit too early.

I sat there, worrying if I was in the right place, was I too late, had they left me, why aren’t they answering the phone?

When crew member one – Anisha showed up and soon we were both worrying together. Where was Pranav, was he going to make it, were we going to miss the sunrise?

10 minutes or so later he pulled up in a cab too.

And then all the half an hour of waiting seemed like unimportant minutes.

We were ready to go!

As we waited at the edge of the docks a tiny, tiny boat pulled up.

Was that the sailboat? Where’s the sail?

Thankfully it wasn’t, it was just dinghy that would get us to the slightly larger sailboat.

As we got on, we were joined by our fourth companion: the most charismatic Tindal. Who was convinced that we were all babbling morons.

Step by step he instructed us, and we turned the tiny rickety boat into a sailboat that would hopefully not capsize. The sail went up, the rudder went down, the ropes were tied all right.

And off we went, catching the wind in our sails, gaining speed and some courage.

We were busy trying to learn everything sailing in one ride when nature decided to interrupt and get us to shut up!

The sun was coming up, and it was unbelievably gorgeous, it peeked out of the horizon and cast an orange reflection all across the ocean. Outlining our path. It got stronger and higher and painted the entire sky a riot of yellow and orange and wow.

And just when we thought “it doesn’t get better that this”

It did.

In the middle of the rhythmic sound of the waves and our boat cutting through them, we heard a splash, we looked about surprised. What was it?

And then we saw it! It was a dolphin! Not just one, but TWO!

I couldn’t believe it! I was in Bombay, sailing to Alibaug, the sky was a crazy shade of take your breath away wow and now there were dolphins casually swimming alongside our sailboat!

Right there, somewhere in between Bombay and Alibaug, I realized something and promised myself I would try not to forget.

Life is always giving us a choice.

Go out Friday night or stay in instead and going out Saturday morning.

Disconnect from social circles for a bit to connect with yourself.

Be the loser that says no to “fun” plans because you’re saving money for a trip.

Have the courage to sacrifice the things you think are big to figure what the big things really are.

Because living the someday life isn’t that hard, its not living the everyday life, that we feel so socially compelled to, that’s the hard part.

The problem

We are born into homes, where even before we are born our names are decided. We enter the world screaming, kicking, trying to find our way out, but have no option but to take the way the doctor wants us to, with our mothers pushing us to subdue.

We cry when we want to, we sleep when we want to, we even poop where and when we want to. But for how long? How long before we are trained, before we join the civilized race of humans. Well behaved humans.

Where “the correct” behaviour is rewarded and the other kind never left open to discover.

We go to schools that make our parents proud and our individuality shrink.

Our teachers prepare us to fit into society, to do the right things.

We get stars for good behaviour, we look up to the cool kids and strive everyday to be more like them.

We go to college, give it all another shot. Or do we?

We try instead to fulfill the desires we couldn’t in school. if we were the loser, we see college as an opportunity to be cooler. And get so unknowingly inducted into the next stage of social life. New friends, new ways to socialize and the hope of finding love.

We question what love is. But never question what love should be. That we know! All the movies we watched and stories we heard have taught us well.

We get into relationships, believing its true love and pretty soon after, get out of them, with a broken heart at one end and sometimes at both.

5 years of college later, we are ready to be real adults, like the ones who’ve always been telling us what the right thing to do is. Promising ourselves we’ll do it a little different.

But so easily, we fall into the same pattern they did. It’s so easy to. The path is smoother, with the right directions on every fork, with it’s share of ups and downs too, but only the familiar ones.

We get jobs, then we get better jobs. And before we know it we are exactly what we thought we would never be.

Earning money for a life we may never have the courage or time to live, looking for someone who fits into this life we’ve created with ease, who wants similar things and doesn’t pop this bubble we’ve been creating our whole life.

And sadly, most people find that someone.

But some are lucky enough to have their hearts broken, the bubble bursted, their life plans questioned.

They are the one’s who have to start again. From scratch.

And that is when magic can happen.

It’s like being woken from years of sleep walking.

You start questioning where you’re going, why you’re going.

And then try to answer the most important question. Where do you really want to go, how do you want to feel, what do you want to do?

You may never find the right answers to the questions, but you’ll know the wrong ones. And slowly get familiar with the righter ones. Occasionally you will glance back, wonder if you did the right thing, be sad about the things that didn’t work out. But the moments you spend looking ahead, putting one foot in front of the other and believing in the journey, will make it worth it.

But it comes at a cost, the cost of not living the ‘ideal life’. Society will frown upon you. Then question you and then finally decide oh “she’s a rebel”

Not the kind of rebel who runs around screaming in the streets, but just the kind who decides to choose what life should be for her.To not marry because it’s the right age to. To not stick at the right job. To find her own path, fall a lot, but walk happily.

To be more in love with her life than is allowed.

life in the deep south

Met new people. Lived with new people. Lived by the beach. Literally. Learnt how to ride the waves on a kayak. Tried to surf a wave. Fell down. Crashed the trainer kite. Did not crash the Trainer kite. Learnt how to loop it. Saw 2 new beaches. Got woken up by peacocks at bison house. Met more interesting people. Travelled 3 hours sharing one seat with another person. Adjusting Everytime 2nd gear was needed. Tried to pronounce the names of places we passed. Fell in love with manapad and it’s blue (apparently sting ray and shark infested) waters. Got hooked to my first big kite. Got dragged by it. Ripped my pants. Lost my cap to the sea and kite surfing. Learnt what a sudden drop in wind can do (scary). Realised the crabs and fish in the water are more scared of me then I am of them. Swam and walked through water and sand bars to see a giant dead turtle. Saw a tiny sea horse inches away from us. Discovered blueberry, raspberry and fruit beer soda and 1 rupee fryums in the middle of the village. Learnt how to wash my own clothes. watched them dry in an hour (so so hot). Got the funniest tan. Got extremely burnt. Felt like my legs were on fire. Realised my sunblock was probably fake. Mastered kite control. Got on the board. Fell down. Got on the board. Fell on my face. Fell on my back. Stood up! Rode. Swallowed way too much sea water. Piggy backed and did some body dragging. Let go by mistake. Watched Lydia fly into the air. And fall down. Watched Jehan jump over my head. Got amazing pictures. Had a drink sitting on an old boat on a dark beach. Ate a gigantic meal at our drivers house. Said goodbye to the prettiest town I have seen. Reached tuticorin. Met more fun people. Got terrified by the dogs. Got over my fear of the dogs. Ate on the beach. Stayed up till 4:00 am to watch the moonrise. Got woken up by the sun and ants. Saw the factory that started as a home business by a woman. Now a gigantic factory making decorations and potpourri for ikea! Tried and liked salt pepper prawns. Camped on the beach again. Saw glow in the dark water algae. Sang ridiculous songs all night. Slept in the car. Ate the yummiest brownies and pizza and pasta at aardvark cafe. Got back to mandapam. Cursed the winds for not picking up. Made the apartment feel like home. Lazed around. Met more people! Lost a snorkel. Got on a jet ski. Squealed like a little girl. Got on a fisherman’s boat. Fell off. Hurt my back. Cut my hand a bit. Played donkey in the middle in the middle of the sea. Ate a handful of sand thanks to all the mud fights with Daylon. Cursed the wind again. Went snorkeling. Realised corals are creepy. Kayaked around. Got scared watching Lydia stand up on a sup. got up on a sup. stood up on a sup. Played the stupidest games. Ate the yummiest chicken BBQd on a plot of land with no electricity and just 4 chairs. And a wild tarantula :-o. Answered natures call in nature. Stayed up all night. Saw 5 shooting stars. Watched the sun rise. Took a car – bus – auto to the airport. Realised I has misread my ticket. And missed my flight and connecting flight. Rebooked another flight. Spent 5 hours at chennai airport. Felt extremely hungover. Used the air sickness bag for the first time. Finally got home. Looked back. Realised what life should be like. already missed life in the Deep South.

Went to learn kite surfing. Learnt a whole lot more instead.


No, my parents like most Indian parents would never let their daughter go backpacking in Europe alone.

So, I found myself a travel companion. A family friend/ cousin (you know how that works) from London, who I’d met 3 times in my life.

But if it worked for my parents it worked for me!

I packed my backpack, and took off. From London to Amsterdam to Belgium to Rome.

My cousin was pumped to finally visit Rome, but what was I going to do there for 5 days, I’d already been a tourist there before!

I didn’t realize it then, but that was my chance to go solo!

After I managed to calm my unaccompanied, nervous nerves. I picked up my things and did what I actually wanted to do. Strolled around, stood and stared at a crazy floating baba.

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Got lost, found myself a map. Wasn’t sure if it was free, so sneakily pocketed it.

Found a nice spot overlooking the ruins of old Rome. Pulled out a book, plugged in my headphones and was suddenly the picture perfect traveller.


As the days passed, I stopped pulling out the book and put away the headphones. And instead started to be a small part of these magnificent streets and sights of Rome.

Walked in to a liqueur shop for some liqueur tasting. Got tipsy with the funniest couple, bid farewell to them, promised the salesman I would order some of that liqueur and walked away hungry.


I walked past way too may great restaurants completely confused. When finally I settled on one.

Got a table for just 1 and food for two.

My waiter was friendly, which took the edge off eating alone (I hate it). We chatted about places to see, great untouristy places to go to. And just as I was finishing my meal, he came back, this time with a weird smile on his face. And asked me if I would like to wait for a bit, since his shift would end soon and he would love to take me out.

Oh no! he was kinda old and balding and now creepy.

So I lied. I said I had to meet someone soon and paid my bill, left a big tip and took off.

Only slowing down as I reached Piazza Del Popolo. By myself.

As I thought to myself ‘Well that was strange’, Rome decided to show me what strange was.

A touristy looking guy walks up. Takes the empty seat next to me. We both sit in silence. Till he starts (in Spanish) trying to ask me something. All I get is photo! I instantly start playing the part of the helpful tourist and offer to take a photo for him, but he shakes his head and starts pointing at himself and me and keeps talking in Spanish.

I give up. I’m the helpful tourist, not the patient one.

But he’s very keen to have a conversation, he pulls out a thick book. And in the little English he knows, tells me he’s a poet. I smile politely (bad idea). He gets bolder, he opens the book and tries to convince me to read his poetry, which of course is in spanish!

Man! Me no understando spanisho!

He still doesn’t get it. But decides to go for the kill and continues with the Spanish, now pointing at my lips.

By this point I’ve had enough and I turn my back.

But our Spanish man isn’t going to give up that easily. He pulls out his phone and uses google translate to ask me, actually tell me “I want to kiss you”

Shocked. Amazed. Amused and a little scared. I walked away, managing to still be alone in Rome (thankfully).

As I walked along the cobble streets trying to look at my map and not trip on my kind of too long dress. I almost literally bumped into creep no.3. Except he was cute.

We like two happy strangers were crossing paths, he smiled, I smiled back. (I never learn)

And a second later he turned around and decided to walk by my side.

Luckily this one spoke English. Of course he started with the usual ‘lets talk to the tourist’ questions. What’s your name, where you from and hey. let me not ask you and just put my hand around your shoulder.

And me, with my great vocabulary managed a very loud NO!

He turned around as fast as he had earlier and walked away.


Finally on the Spanish steps (without the Spanish man) I spent an hour with me and a thought: ‘‘Maybe I had made a few mistakes, taken some bad decisions and put myself out there more than I should have, but I had also experienced, felt and learnt a lot more than I would have otherwise.’

So, was it worth it?

It just might have been.