I don’t pen down my thoughts every year but this year has been ‘different’. Well different is an understatement, more like epic with all the trimmings 😉 . 2018 has been surreal, painful at times but its been a year of immense learning. This year started off spending some quality time with my parents and seeing one of my best friends at his brother’s engagement. Unfortunately for me most of my close friends do not live in the same city or even the same country. So I cherish any time I get to spend with them.
After a long wait of 2.5 years I was informed that my book was going to be published. The back story – In 2014 at The Goa Project I gave a short talk on living life as a Celiac. To my surprise Sathya Saran (author/consulting editor/former editor – Femina) one of the Keynote Speakers happened to be among the audience. Few months after the conference she got in touch to ask me whether I would be interested in writing a book about My Story and all about the Gluten Free Lifestyle. I guess anyone would jump at the offer and say ‘yes’ but I took my time. I was not sure if I wanted to share personal details of my life and was worried if a book on my story would ‘glorify’ me and also thoughts on how it would be received..bothered me. Finally I resorted to what I generally do I prayed about it and asked my family their opinion and when I when I was at peace with the idea I said ‘yes’. Harper Collins Publishers India said yes to my synopsis and thanks to Sathya Saran assigned me a co author, Sheila Kumar (journalist and author of Kith and Kin and No Strings Attached) to help me with my book as the topic needed an established writer to see through the process. A year and half later of our happy collaboration, after a bout of dengue and other health issues I made the deadline. I did have to wait for 2.5 years to get the my hands on the book.
In March 2018, the long wait came to an end and I finally saw my author copy in my hand. It was such a surreal moment, I had all these mixed emotions, it was a labour of love and discipline. Writing a ‘A Gluten Free Life, My Celiac Story’ was a tough task for me, I had to revisit memories I chose to forget but when I saw the book in my hand, I was elated but I didn’t do any happy dance, I was just grateful. Many people I know were actually surprised to see my reaction.
April came along and I had to go to Kuwait, which was a trip planned earlier even before I knew the book would be out. So I made a quick trip to see my parents in Kuwait, happy to share the book with them. Got to see close friends and family, nothing like celebrating with people you really care about. I also celebrated my 9th wedding anniversary and got to take part in the Kuwait Engineer’s Forum Inter Alumni Quiz competition. We were close to winning but the opportunity to quiz again just made me happy. I was glad my husband could make it with me because we’ve had a tough journey with my health condition and his at times that surviving 9 years is a milestone. Everyone says marriage is all about ups and downs but we experienced our struggle as early as 4 months into our marriage with our various health conditions. More about this is there in the book. 2016 was a horrible year for me and while I don’t want to get into the details…all I can say is thanks to Deepak, my immediate family and God’s grace I survived.
We both fell sick on our way back from Kuwait. We both had a bad bout of flu and in spite of all the medication my symptoms just persisted. During all this I was busy with getting my Book Launch organised. One fine day I just got dehydrated and couldn’t stand. I was wheeled into Emergency and then was in the ICU for a couple of days until all my vital stats became normal. Not the best time to be plugged to machines and since I had to take rest I had to postpone my Book Launch. I was unhappy about the postponement because these things happen very often with me. I held on to this
Isaiah 40:31 New International Version
“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
I finally got well and focussed on getting the book launched. Even though there were struggles getting things going the final day of the launch was better than I expected it to be. I wish I could take more pictures with all the lovely people who were in attendance. I had so much fun being interviewed by Sheila Kumar, I am very comfortable with the mic if I know my stuff. I was so happy that Shradha Sharma, Founder YourStory agreed to be the Guest of Honour. I wish someone recorded what she said but I had tears in my eyes when she said ‘ You can be a victim or heroine of your own story and you should be proud you’re the latter’ I am paraphrasing but after a weeks of battling ill health it was a great reminder that ‘all is well’ .
The book has got some good reviews and also has topped the list of Times of India’s list of best books on diet and wellness, Yay!. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/books/photo-stories/10-most-dependable-books-on-diet-and-weight-loss-published-in-2018/photostory/67205224.cms
Of all the the feedback I have got on the book its when people who don’t know anything about Celiac Disease say how they liked it and how much they could relate to many of the anecdotes from my life. I hope the book is achieving its purpose and I am glad that I was given the opportunity to write and I am so humbled to know its the first book in India to be published about Celiac Disease from a patients’ perspective.
Another surprise in May was when Zee Tv got in touch with me regarding a program they wanted to feature me on. I thought it would be a 10 minute short program. Lo and Behold, they wanted to shoot an entire episode on me. I spent numerous hours with the crew on the phone. Finally we shot the episode in June in Mumbai. It was totally a new experience for me shooting for a show, getting my hair and make up done and spending time with the very talented and gracious Renuka Shahane. I grew up watching her on Surabhi, when I met her on the sets she was just like her on screen persona. Down to earth, bubbly and it felt like I was talking to my long lost friend. My biggest worry was my Hindi. I was told to speak as far as possible in Hindi as it was a Zee TV show titled Maggi Kitchen Journey’s . Hindi is not my mother tongue and my knowledge of Hindi is what I learnt in school and college. Learning and knowing a language is one thing but conversing in it for more than an hour is a different ball game. I fared okay I was told. The crew also visited Bangalore and shot for a day in my home and took footage of all my activities. The amount of preparation and editing that goes into making an episode is amazing. The real people who make the show happen are the crew.
July and August flew past with activities surrounding the book and planning for our family meet. It was such a joy to see and spend time with my immediate family and later on extended family. It was also one the toughest times for Kerala, the state I hail from. To see people from Kerala suffer from the floods was so disappointing but what was heart warming was how the government, celebrities, fisherfolk, bureaucrats, defence forces and common man came together to help the state. The BBC happened to pick my tweet too in their article on the floods!
In September we were hosted by the Book Bound Club and had a full house for our book reading. It was a lovely evening with an attentive audience who had never heard of a condition like Celiac Disease. Nothing like a room full of curious people, thanks to Dr. Marianne Furtado de Nazareth who moderated it.
September was also the month my episode on Maggi Kitchen Journey’s was aired. As I look back I am so humbled and honoured to know I was one among the twelve women to be featured. What was even more humbling was to know that the ZEE TV crew wanted me to be on the show because they felt it was necessary in today’s time people know about conditions like Celiac Disease.
Every day in 2018 was a day of learning. I learnt about myself, about society and read a lot. I also decided that I want to sing in the Church choir for Christmas so I made sure I made it to practise every Saturday. I had the opportunity to visit Boston and New York in October and it was a nice holiday after the busy months I had. I was amazed at the warmth of the Bostonians. I pigged out on amazing gluten free food and just had fun doing all sort of touristy and non touristy things at times.
The special part of this year has also been meeting strangers, I have been so blessed to have some amazing conversations with like minded people. Other than good food, music,quizzing something I really enjoy is engaging conversations. I wish we had good quality debates on Indian news channel but I guess that’s something I hope will change in the new year. I detest the circus which the news has become now. I have stayed away from sharing my opinions on social media for many reasons and I think it will stay that way in the coming year too. It’s made my year peaceful and to my utter dismay the comment section on most articles on online platforms is just people spewing venom. There is one thing I’d like to tell Keyboard warriors, before you comment find out the facts, know that every job is tough if done well even if it is acting and always put yourself in other’s shoes. Then, just then will you probably think before you type out something vile.
Coming back to my year I got to sing to my heart’s content this year, which also meant my stamina was tested. I baked a lot for the Church’s Christmas bazaar and I must tell you it is not easy for someone like me if I don’t have any help. Unfortunately I always end up in situations where promised help doesn’t turn up and I am left all alone to do what I had committed to. Living with an autoimmune condition is not easy. I have got these looks from people thinking why is she tired, to understand exactly how I feel you need to live with what I live with then only then it will make sense .
I also trekked a steep path to Chembra Peak and I only did that out of sheer will power. I had a different Christmas too spend it with people who I don’t usually get to meet. It was hectic but worth meeting all the people who I get to meet only once in a while. On the last of day of 2018 my heart is filled with gratitude as I look back. Thank you to all who have helped and supported me through this year. To all those who I have directly or indirectly hurt, I ask your forgiveness. It was a year where years of waiting finally came to an end. I don’t know what 2019 will be like but I know it’s a year where I will have to make a lot of decisions and all I pray is for wisdom to do the right thing. I wish you peace, joy and good health for the next year and always.
I know what I need to focus on this coming year and I hope I don’t get distracted. Above all I know I am blessed and will be able to deal with anything which comes my way because I rest in this –
Romans 8: 38 -39
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[ neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. “
Philipians 4:13 – ” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
Happy New Year and God Bless!