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We are

Strength – inner or outer is like energy flow. We can harness it, learn to harness it, or conserve it wisely. However, none of us is born with a well of courage and questions. No one is forever strong or weak.

Ever met a lone guy with an enviable past but a miserable present? Ever been angry at a go-getter, who wants nothing anymore? Ever seen your own hopelessness in someone else’s eyes? Well, then I’m sad to say that you have wronged them.

When we make acquaintances, friends and close relationships, we exchange a part of ourselves with others. It’s important – what we exchange. Because most often we trade skills, talents and personal qualities – It’s easy. What we forget is context and life experience; what we ignore is the journey that made a person; what we keep guarded are the fears – their’s and our’s.

Let’s open up. Let’s hear, learn and understand lives. There will be surprises along the way, because we’ll find out that we are all the same. The difference is in the situations, opportunities and luck. To beat these odds, we need to first acknowledge them, listen to each others’ stories, read through the struggles and hold hands all along.

I wish we lived in more collaborative, self-aware communities – even if it was for a brief period. But I wish, therefore I believe that we can help each other evolve into that tomorrow.


This week marked the start of an experiment to find myself, again.

18 months have been a roller coaster ride of unbelievable joys and deep cuts in the heart; but through all of this something else completely faded away – a sense of space from where creativity used to emerge in the form of sparks, and anything it touched would glow in its own way. That space, which I had parked in the corner of my heart, with a few guards around it, had been taken over. I hoped that it would emerge, only to realize that even if it did, I’ll pay a heavy price.

I tried several ways to cope. I created plans, laid out over weeks and months, to find a new rhythm. Each plan showed its goodness but nothing stuck around. I just got used to the recurrent disappointment.

Finally, over the months of September and October, I broke down – sometimes with unexplained yet severe outbursts, sometimes with petty quarrels and most of the times with a deep sense of resentment towards everyone around me who got by.

My partner intervened and acknowledged that I need help and support. However, to let other people help me, I had to accept it their way.

So I have been set free from all things family. It’s painful to lose the only sense of self you have held on to for 1.5 years; but the goodness of it has already surfaced.

Stay tuned, there’s stuff to come over the next few months.




You should’ve asked


Here is the english version of my now famous “Fallait demander” !

Thanks Una from for the translation 🙂

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The Baby is asleep

I became a mother, more than half-a-year ago. And that must explain the long silence on the writing pad.

There was another reason, however, why I neither wrote much nor did I think enough.

Actually, I wrote, a lot – on social media. Technically, this blog qualifies as social media too. However, the regulated, clutter-free communication here is nothing like the madness of Facebook.

Last week, I went through a turmoil that was neither new nor unbeatable. But there were other factors such as new project and an increased sense of commitment towards my career. Mid-week I almost broke down for the nth time since my parenthood began. But I was aware that this time if I just let it pass, I’ll begin to get comfortable with ‘things that happen’. It was my chance to see the breakthrough.

My partner suggested I go for a therapeutic massage, and he bought me an appointment. It worked wonders. For about 60 minutes, I felt it was just me, my system, my heart and my exhausted body. I was there, with myself.

I walked back from the spa, and as I was on the way, many thoughts came back as long-lost friends. It’s true that I have no flow of time anymore to work on my ideas. 70% of the day is spent with the delightful baby, mostly with satisfaction but when it gets tough, it’s the toughest challenge always. However, the thoughts about the rest of the time is what gripped me.

“What do you do when not with your child?” 

The voice in my head got louder.

“Sometimes I try to cook, but most other times…”

“Yeah, you are on Facebook, Twitter, even when you are not looking at a screen.”

I had learned to console myself in the last few months. “Go easy on yourself; waste your life a bit. It’s okay.” But then I had always been active on Social Media, and I followed a 3-point guideline for all my stories :

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it necessary?
  3. Is it kind?

I am not sure when and where I came across this, but Google just told me that it was said by Buddha – Thank you.

These 3 points have helped me be a useful communicator, the kind that I can sustain, build upon and spread inspiration with. I began to filter out a lot of ‘just happened and so I share’ updates; started to add meaning to everyday events and observations and trimmed judgment to be inclusive in my ideas and to expand my understanding. I must say I have had a good time being active on these wildly public channels, especially with this 3-pointer to guide me.

And today, as I post a few passive aggressive tweets and some attention seeking pictures on FB, I realize that I have lost my mentor, my light.

The search for a new one has begun and it might be a while before I find it.

It started with an empty wine glass

It was a Saturday, 2 years ago. I received a box of 12 wine glasses from Amazon. G&I were to build a Glass Harp with them, as our mini-project for the weekend. We needed the glasses, water and a couple of spoons. G initially wanted to write a tuner software but realized that my trained ears were enough.

I picked a theory for reference; and sat down with water and the glasses. I had a spoon to test the sounds.


Like how most theories go, this one was a practical failure. I struggled to find my pitches; had to try different levels of water; had to test each glass and after half-a-day of sound search, I settled for a ‘wine bottle’and 7 glasses. The pitches were still imperfect!

I held 2 steel spoons and the harp arrangement to play a song for a friend.

If you are a traditional musician or anyone with humble ears, you will find at least 3 pitches off-accuracy. However, I was way too happy to worry about precision, perfection and purity of pitches. There was something unusual about the entire process that made me feel accomplished.

I shared the work on social media and sent it to a few friends who participate in my life journey and/or enjoy related updates. One evening, I sent an email to my then piano teacher, with a request for a class credit and with the link to this video in the end.

Who would have thought that an aimless communication would add more purpose to my life?

I received a response from my teacher with information on a show of unusual music ensembles, deep listening and invented instruments. It made me curious, if not immediately interested.

G&I left one evening for a similar show in Berkeley. We walked from the station to the theater and as we entered, we found ourselves amidst the most random arrangement of audience. People, performers included, were dispersed in stairways and over the edge of the walls on different floors. There were wine glasses, mirrors and some eastern-looking instruments laid out in different parts of the space.

There was Pauline Oliveros in the now-identified center of the stage; she performed with an ensemble of artists. However, I felt like I had a role to play in the show, and so did every element around me – the walls, the objects and even the silence. As I observed, many questions fired up in my little brain:

What were the mirrors for? What was that guitar in the middle for? Why didn’t the performing artist have any instrument with her? What exactly constituted music – sounds or variations in silence? What am I – a listener, observer or a participant? What, what was going on?

The difference between a music concert and curiosity is that the latter plays after the show, as your own song of questions.  I reserved them all and asked my piano teacher to reach out if the organization that was involved in the performance, needed any volunteer help. A month later, I discovered Thingamajigs.

In the time that followed, where I spoke to the artists more and organized Aeolian Day, I found many answers; along with more questions.

I understood that the thickness of the glass material, the size and the manufacturing defects, were various reasons that the Glass Harp was wildly off the standards. So, there it was, the answer. However, what standards were these? The one set by the song? What if I created a song with the off-standard pitches? Will that be music too?

At this point, I remembered the ‘Grey Card’ that I used in a B&W film photography class. To distinguish between Grey, Grey1 & Grey2, I had to put all of them next to each other. And viola! there were different shades of grey or as they call it in the world of colors – Gray-scale.

Maybe that’s how a musical scale is?

Creativity is fascinating! At one end, it seems like beauty within boundaries; and on the other, it sets us free from all limitations. Music isn’t limited to the standard octave and pitch levels. If there’s a song in C Major, there’s probably another in c4/3 minor. But what is C4/3? 

Well, I don’t know but I imagine that if we create a pattern with say : C-D-E-F & another with C4/3-D-E-F; I will find C4/3 and eventually make a song in C4/3 minor. Maybe?

I am grateful to the academicians of music, who provided us a simple reference to create music with. They probably didn’t expect these baselines to be violated; but that’s what makes the journey of ‘looking for music’ so interesting.

In my life, inventions and discoveries have switched orders. I step deeper into Thingamajigs, and I see that I can invent music first and discover notes that I never before made a note of!

My wish, her song

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

  • Joan Baez

Through music as a life practice

I want to build a home.

The one I can get away from,

to explore and search for notes

hidden in the corners of human mind

or my heart – depends on what rules.


I want to grow that place of comfort,

with a garden I can throw in fresh seeds

of musical ideas, to nurture into songs.

add space, add wonder, add emptiness;

and then fill it, tune by tune, with love.


When I am lost, exhausted

burnt out of life’s demands

I’ll find refuge amidst those walls

built on the foundation of lessons,

which even if I lost all my memory,

will not be forgotten.


I see magic in their eyes, the world in their weirdness and freedom in their movement. The person behind that costume made a choice – to make a living being laughed at; and that empowers me. They tour the towns, cities and countryside and stand for hours in front of an otherwise bored world. It’s a thankless job, pays so little and takes every drop of emotional energy out of a human being. Yet, they do it.

You, the person on the other side of the circus ring, think that they get to hide who they are. But wait a second, isn’t it what you do too? Sure, you don’t wear a costume.

Hey, go back and look at your life, you have grown a skin to live under. It’s called a doctor, an engineer, a CEO, a chef, a parent, a driver. You have become good at what you do, to shy away from the world when you aren’t good enough. When life throws its challenges and makes you ride a rocky boat, this skin masks you from the world’s judgement. It lets you be.

And that’s what a clown lives for too – to be. Their skin is the one that makes you laugh, lighten up and vent out your frustration; while it hides their own misery and pain.

Clowns. I think about them and feel at home. Where’s my furry costume now?




An unfair year I’m thankful for

“Please don’t ask me to take another flight for the next 6 months.” I said.
“Oh, there’s a company trip in the Caribbean Islands, end of this month? But, we can cancel.”

In Jan 2015, I returned from about a month-long trip in India. I had taken over 7 flights in less than 15 days between USA, India, Sri Lanka, and within India. When I returned home, I was met with a strange situation. Who would have missed an all-expense-paid trip to the most sought after islands in the world?!

Despite the travel fatigue, January ended on a high note – at St Kitts & Nevis.

While in the Caribbean, G&I sorted our travel calendar for the year. We decided on just one more trip to India, to assist his sister for her baby’s delivery.

2015 Training Guide Program – Welcome!

I had applied for a volunteer position as a City Guide towards the end of 2014, and had forgotten about it. In Jan 2015, I received an email to appear for an interview, which I cleared based on my skill-set/interest. If I signed up, I was to enter a 3-month training program.

The calendar for the training sessions conflicted with my mid-year India trip. I either had to let go of the training and apply the next year; or needed to re-plan the trip. My sister-in-law’s baby was her first baby and I wouldn’t have had a second chance at being there. The training? Yes, I could take it in 2016.

In dilemma, I signed up for the training; and decided to attend to my family duties on a 10-day trip to India between two training sessions.

The program began on Feb 28 and I graduated on May 9.

Celebrate the Sound of the Wind

2015 brought saucy titles to my life, along with warnings that I continued to ignore.

There waited an opportunity for me to help yet another non-profit organization – Thingamajigs (they explore alternate sound systems). The people approached me to coordinate a festival called Aeolian Day. A number of artists, designers, engineers and even scientists were to exhibit their sound sculptures – each played by the wind. Just like SF City Guides, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

In fact, it was even better. Because for the first time, I could combine all my abilities/talents – music, writing, marketing, process development, creativity and science.

The dilemma? I had to do it on my own. Yet again, I signed up.

First Piano Concert

“Please welcome our next Pianist…” – March 8, 2015

Amidst the commitments towards a 3-month training and a 3-month event coordination work, I practiced every day and played the piano for an audience for the first time. I think my year wouldn’t have been the same without it. In hindsight, that performance seems to be the greatest pay-off, for the struggles that followed.

This was probably the only activity of the year I was sure about.

Mom’s Art Of Giving

My sister and I put together a campaign to feed children in India on the occasion of my mom’s retirement and her birthday. The idea just knocked on my head and by the time we completed the campaign, we had fed over 120 children in 2 non-profit set ups in Delhi.

We started the campaign on Feb 28 and officially ended the fundraiser on March 30, 2015.

Here, the cloud of dilemmas had begun to turn into smoke.


The ‘only’ trip to India began in the second half of April. I carried many self-defined commitments and an instrument called Zither or Autoharp, through 4 flights (SF-Dubai-Trivandrum-Coimbatore). It took over 24 hours of air travel to get there – my parent’s winter home. I wanted to give mother and father a head-start to an annual stay in that house; through a plan to help them assess the challenges of a new life in a new place.

4 beautiful days were spent in the tropical weather of South India. I wrote, spoke, sang and woke up to musical mornings. The Zither’s sound echoed in the house and made my writing fun, even hours after it stopped.

In the next 3 days, we traveled to Bangalore and attended a wedding. This also included a surprise birthday party for me (by my sister). On the 3rd day, over a coffee meet up, I was introduced to my sister’s future husband.

From Bangalore, I took off for Kerala to be with my mother-in-law and with my hugely pregnant sister-in-law. Unexpected as it was, our time was filled with conversations and music, under the peace of the coastal weather of the place. It was, as I think about it now, magic!

“We wish you could be here with us longer.” My Mother-in-law, who usually found it hard to express her emotions, looked at me with great love.

“Yes Chechi, it was so nice. We…we will miss you.” I didn’t feel responsible about being a sister-in-law, but was overwhelmed with a sense of closeness to my extended family.

Ironically, I was sad. On the flight, I confronted that sadness.

“Family v/s Self-preservation? You shouldn’t have this conflict. You don’t have to do a regular job that other people’s lives are limited by. Oh wait, you ARE limited, by your own commitments! And for what? Only to interfere with your wishes & desires? People blame life when they don’t have the time to do whatever they want to. You are the ungrateful, lucky one; running away from a freedom, that’s served in a platter.”

As the thoughts haunted, an old man coughed next to me; for 16 hours. By the time I reached home, I had his flu but no resolutions.

The Six-day War

I was sick and it got worse with every moment I spent alone. There was no G to take care of me, and on the other hand, I had two SF City Guide mock tours to take care of. The unresolved internal conflicts combined with a physical breakdown, responsibilities to attend to and no one to watch over, made the few days at home catastrophic.

I had been alone before, in India. But there was this sense of well-being that would keep me comfortable. Maybe it was the streets, the trees, air or water; but even strangers felt like they watched out for me.

Why didn’t I feel that way? I had everything – a comfortable house, mobility, a loving partner, thoughtful friends and a calendar filled with things-to-do.  Why then, was it so cold?

It took me 6 chastising days of introspection to understand that the nourishment and the nurture of a crowded society/world/environment, can be challenged in a place like SF where ‘casual interaction’ requires effort, every time.

Communication generates understanding, which in turn provides warmth. However, when we are sick or when we go through a personal loss/crisis, we need warmth to flow effortlessly. It’s hard to rationalize but the closeness of various environmental components in India, creates a cozy atmosphere. That comfort makes it quick and easy to heal.

I was far too deep in pain and despite the realization, I sank further.

Life goes on

In the next week or so, I presented 2 mock-tours and graduated as a city guide. End of the month, I successfully launched and conducted Aeolian Day. And on May 31, I felt, through my body, the last drop of strength burn off.

That cloud of smoke was now in front of me, as a huge wall of ash.

To ignore, I needed a drink.

No alcohol

In the months I spent all of me in, I tried to squeeze some words into my novel every day. Due to lack of any warm-up time, I drank a glass of wine for every 1-hour of writing. It became a regular occurrence, and when I noticed it, I planned to fix it. I read a few books to see how other writers coped, and to my surprise I found very few sober yet established authors. So, I had to work on myself, by myself. I took a break from alcohol.

I was undecided on how long I wanted this break to be, but aimed to get to a point where I could get over the habit i.e., the need to drink to write. Unfortunately, this coincided with a period when I was severely exhausted. The ill-timed lent began on June 1.

Alcohol, even in small doses slowed me down and gave my brain some rest. In its absence, I had to experiment with other ways to relax. G suggested that I wiped my to-do list clean, every day. And so I did. I tried to watch numerous films, took walks, browsed the internet, cooked several meals. Weeks passed and I didn’t heal. I was mentally and creatively exhausted but that didn’t me to sleep.

The Burnout

As a strategy to cope, I tried to be with new people. I had the will, but no inspiration or happiness, that would convert strangers into friends.

End of June, my sister came down to prepare for an exam and to be with me for almost 2 months. I wanted to take care of her, so she could focus better on her studies. Once again, I had the intention but no energy to take care of anyone. I tried my best but it was during this period that my exhaustion turned into severe depression.

My sister is the coolest person I know. She stood by me with her glorious smile and love; even as she worked hard towards a monstrous goal. Despite a crunched preparation time for the exam, she agreed to help me in whatever way she could.

I thought if I saw people have fun around me and fill my space with their energy/laughter, I might be able to look away from my hollowed insides. In mid-July, we threw ‘The Hot Sauce Party’ in our house, where everyone was supposed to bring different kinds of hot sauces. Everyone had fun, except me. I failed to enjoy the party I threw.

The dam had broken, and the demons flooded my soul.

The Road Trip

My sister’s exams ended and we had about 2 weeks to celebrate. I was in no mood but saw the opportunity to escape. I could getaway and bury the monsters of depression in the sands of time.

I hired a car and drove along the Pacific Coast with my sister. We hiked in the landscapes of Big Sur, wound down in the white beach of Carmel-by-the-sea, relaxed in a house in Monterey and swam in a resort in Big Sur.

I liked being in the driver’s seat, loved the forward movement and felt my brain work as I mapped our routes. In all its glory, I witnessed some of the pain disappear.

An honest smile reappeared on my face.


And then, it got cold, all over again.

Mid-august, my sister left. I looked ahead at the calendar and saw 2 trips. Was I ready for any of it?

We went on a weekend trip to Yosemite with our friends. It began well but as a day passed, I felt a strange discomfort – the one where I was shy of other people. The apprehension turned into irritation, and then anger. I tried to distract myself with some activities. But I returned home from the trip all coiled up and closed towards any new experiences.

The weekend after that, we had to leave for Iceland. It was a trip planned over 3 months with friends from India. In the absence my usual enthusiasm, I had contributed very little to the preparations and plans. I was however grateful to my friends who took charge.

“No! You don’t want to do this!” My head screamed of doubt and unwillingness for an entire month before the trip began. Instead of the promise of good company, fascinating volcanoes and unpredictable experiences, I saw discomfort ahead of me.

Nevertheless, I went. After all, I was Kavi. Or was I?

We traveled for 6 days in Iceland. It was a road trip that turned out to be far simpler than I thought. We saw several waterfalls, black beaches and hiked on glaciers. On one of the nights, we also caught a faint glimpse of a hard-to-see solar wind (northern lights). There were a few good conversations and some fun dinner sessions too.

However despite these nice parts, I continued to feel uncomfortable in my skin. I felt displaced from my life and unready for experiences.

In a strange contrast, after we had sent-off our friends and when G&I were in Denmark for 4 days, I opened up. All of a sudden, I could walk around, do things and talk to people. Even though Copenhagen was a less interesting idea compared to Iceland, I gathered more time, energy and experience.

It turned out to be a matter of anonymity. I introspected and understood that the moments that hurt me the most were where I had to share my thoughts and observations with familiar people. In those circumstances, I had to wake up a sense of self, an ego and an identity. But.

I wasn’t there.

The Family Plan

2015 was like a grand plan – first concert, first tour, first art event; and then a plan to make our first child.

I was worried about my perpetual sadness but told myself that I had to keep up with certain life plans. We officially confirmed my pregnancy during the Iceland trip. The joy of that news stood above all my agonies, and I slowly began to crawl out of my downtime.

When we told our immediate families, the news became a part of an overdose of exciting things – My sister decided to get married around the same time.

Wedding Preparations

Gopal & I went to the beach one day, with his camera. I scribbled the couple’s names on the sand and he took various pictures. We came home and over a weekend, I created my sister’s wedding invite – the finesse of which surprised me. (I learnt and used Inkscape – an illustrator app for linux)

I interviewed at least 3 wedding photographers over Skype. The exercise was quite a lot of fun and eventually, I signed up someone who best suited our requirements and budget.

Mid-November, I prepared to go on an unforeseen trip to India.


“If you want, you can stay in a hotel.” My mother’s face sank, even as she said these words to offer me some comfort. I was in my parents’ house in Gurgaon when in the middle of the night, I sneezed. I sprang out at ninety degrees to the bed, and screamed my heart out. It was day 2 of my one month trip.

My lungs were chocked, I had a running nose and my eyes itched throughout my time in India in Nov-Dec. North India is dangerously polluted now and my 2-year west-coast life had killed the adaptation of decades. My sister and I tried to manage the situation with a 6-hour professional cleaning session and also got a purifier installed for my parents’ safety.

During the one month I spent in India, I took a 3-day trip to Kerala, a week-long trip to Goa and a 2-day trip to Gujarat. The frequent change in the weather and environment took a toll on my physical well-being.

However, it all felt worth it because The wedding was a lot of fun.

In retrospection, the physical pain might have distracted me from the emotional stress that I had become so prone to.

What were the highlights of 2015?

Hidden in that question which I asked several people, was a quest for an answer for myself. As I dug through the darkness of the year, the clock switched.

It was January 1, 2016 and there, in my mailbox, was my evaluation report as an SF City Guide. I read and in that moment I understood :

If you keep your heart open, gratitude will find its way, even through unfair times.


The End of a Start

Screenshot - 01142016 - 11:01:10 AM

To write 250 words a day, every day might sound like a plan. But it’s a hard one to keep. I finished the first draft of my first novel a few days ago. I am at least 2 years away from it being a good read but my start has ended!

The process involved 2 workshops and a training that was part of the research for the story I wanted/want to tell. The 19-month period also comprised a 7-month burnout, when I found it hard to write and the only way out was to write. Irony?

I am glad that time healed me and helped me get to where I am today.