At the expense of wisdom.

I have a friend whose mom is suffering from breast cancer. I was quite shocked to hear the news and very saddened too. She seemed like such a calm, happy, and strong person.

My friend has been in the middle of moving to Bangalore city. Not because she has a job there but because she wants to. She’s planning to work out of one of those co-working spaces that a person rents per month or whatever. I guess she had that move mapped out and was quite excited about it. Then her mother’s health started roller coastering and she came to Bombay to spend time with her. Her mother is not out of the woods yet and it promises will be a slow fight.

In the middle of all this seriousness and despite her mom’s poor health, my friend decided to move to Bangalore anyways. It was a bit disturbing. Then she wrote a blog post about how she felt no regret about any of the things that had happened to her or any of the things she had done. She mentions, as case in point, that her mother was ailing in Mumbai, and she should have been with her mother and not this far away from her. She wrote further that some friends had been urging her to be with her mom because if something happened to her mom, she would regret it. And my friend wrote: And that for a fact, I know, I won’t.

For some reason, she put the link to that post as a Facebook update, thereby revealing her callousness to a larger audience. Obviously, people had things to say, and she responded to those things with ill-suppressed irritation, trying to justify it all. She then wrote a separate post on her blog, where she wrote about how even good intentions could feel toxic. (?!)

It does not matter how she justifies her thinking–to hear a child say that they would not regret not spending time with his or her parents during a life-threatening illness that’s probably cutting their life short is, according to me, damn unfeeling.

Maybe she was just writing to feel her thoughts out, but I found her words to be so cold. Like something had managed to cauterize that section of her mind where love and emotions were manufactured.

But it’s not about love or emotions really, is it? Sometimes, we are so into our own lives and so excited about the course we have charted for the short-term that we will not allow an obstacle to block our path, will not give in to a situation that is going to make us veer in a different direction. We don’t want to water down our ambition. We will not allow anything to interfere with our joy, especially it that something involves struggle. We do not want to put our lives on the back burner and extend ourselves to help someone else cope or give them a period of our lives in service. We do not want to take that trouble or allow it to break us down and reshape us. We want our life to go just as planned, especially if we are at the prime of success or are doing very well or are doing fun things. We are obstinate about it as though it were our right.

And yes, it is our right. To lead our lives in ways that maximise our satisfaction and sense of sufficiency is our right. And yes, we do have a right to pursue it like it were a lover we are besotted with. But somewhere in this pumped up, ambitious, high octane drive to live our best lives, we have to insert wisdom and kindness.

I find that most people are allergic to wisdom. Because Intelligence says, you have a right to live your life on your terms. Ambition says you can make it big, have a million followers on social media, become a star. Motivation says be happy now and stay away from toxicity and all will be fine. But Wisdom, oh that morose speaker of deep, uncomfortable truths, the advocate of adjustments and compromises for love, the deflater of happy pink bubbles, the demolisher of castles, that comparatively quiet mellow little thing that is surprisingly the most powerful of the lot on account of all the things it knows and is right about.

When wisdom enters the room everyone else sobers up. But sometimes, the rest have been binge drinking and are high and worked up from too much talking. They hear wisdom’s footfalls and together they rise as one and block it from entering the room. Mutiny. Of the stupidest kind.

I don’t even know whether my friend’s resistance to sacrifice and a loving response is lack of wisdom, obstinacy, self-centeredness, compassion fatigue, or some internal emotional issue. Whatever it is, in the face of a mother struggling with cancer, it is cold.


Hashimoto and Pre-Diabetic.

May has been a month of blood tests. I had been getting swelling on my feet and had been piling on the kilos at an alarming rate. I went to a local doc to get it checked out and that opened a Pandora’s box of ailments. So at the end of consultations with 2 docs–one a general local doctor and one a specialist–and 2 sets of blood tests, the final results are that I have Hashimoto’s Disease and I am pre-diabetic.

Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your thyroid gland with the intention of finishing it off because it sees the gland as an outsider. It is progressive and the only remedy is the consumption of synthetic thyroid, which your doctor prescribes at the right time. My levels are less than 10, so subclinical, which means I am not eligible for the thyroid meds just yet, which is sad. Thyroid meds would have taken care of at least some of the symptoms of my condition. I have no choice but to wait for the doctor to decide it’s time. We keep checking every 3 months to see how far we have progressed.

Another test revealed that I am also pre-diabetic…though just borderline. The pre-diabetic blood sugar range starts at 5.7, and I am 5.7. The doc believes that it is caused by my weight and, hence, has decided to concentrate on getting my weight down. In order to do this, he has cut down the amount of food I eat. See if this makes sense:

Breakfast : 2 eggs if I wanted, a cup of tea without sugar, no bread. I can have fruits and a glass of milk if I get hungry.

Lunch: 1 chapatti (flat bread), veggies, and fruits post lunch.

Evening Tea: Just that. Tea. No sandwiches, no halwa, no poha, no upma. Basically, no fun.

Dinner: 1 chapatti, veggies, and fruits. Milk if I get hungry at bed time. I haggled with him about dinner. I wanted 2 chapattis. He smiled and said: One and a half. It was settled.

I can have meat about 2-3 times a month. I can have any amount of fruits. I can consume as much milk as I want. I have to cut down oil, butter, and sugar. And of course no chips, no biscuits, pastries and most all processed foods. He has prescribed a very mild dose of tablets to control the blood sugar. After he handed the diet sheet to me, he said: Try to follow it as far as possible. I have to meet the man 3 weeks later to see if the restrictions translated into some change on the weighing scale.

Of course, the diet is not written in stone. It is so lenient and has so many gaps and loopholes that a hardcore foodie like me can glide through and exploit it to my advantage. However, I won’t. Self-preservation and wisdom tell me that this is going to help me with the diet change and discipline I have been struggling with. Initially, I was horrified at the cuts, and I seriously thought that migraines would beset my life. But no. If anything, I am getting used to the reduced intake. I have more fruits. And I am actually looking at salad recipes (savoury ones, of course.) If I can, I will replace snacks, maybe even lunch occasionally, with salads and soups. But never dinner. Dinner is a hallowed meal.

Let’s see how this thing pans out. If there are any pre-diabetic people or Hashimoto’s Disease sufferers reading this do let me know of any advice you may have. Or even experiences.

Thoughts, Worklife

Something good out of something silly.

A few days ago, I received a message from my boss about some content I had put up on social media. The company is in the process of revitalizing a brand, and they are reworking the website and rekindling the social media accounts. The marketing person got in touch with me and briefed me on the content and social media work that was required.

I got the blog started up, got the twitter page up and started posting, retweeting, commenting and other activities that go into growing engagement. I put up a post about a very good and respected graphic artist and tied that with a message that said that talent and passion together lead to success. It was accompanied by a youtube video to showcase his work. As a site that dealt with products for business, industrial, and commercial use, I thought to have a mix of posts that spoke about talented professionals, business etc. would align well with the TG.

My boss was not happy with that. He went into how they were spending a lot of money revitalizing the brand, and he did not want social media pages that turned people away. I didn’t get it at all. I explained to him about the artist and gave him what the general plan should be for social media content. He rubbished that. He wanted a page that featured our products, and occasionally, to break the monotony of predominantly just our products, add a few articles about connected procedures and industries. His vision was that our social media has to look like we are experts. I wanted to tell him, that’s what blogs are for. That is where you go deep and write about your industry experience, your expertise, your case studies. And then you share the links to them on your social media pages. That is how you come across as an expert, not by monotonously posting about your products. I even sent him a link to the 80/20 rule of social media–where about 80% of the content you post should ideally be something that your readers would be interested in and 20% should be about your products, till you have gained a good following and engagement. He turned that on its head and asked me to post about our products 80% of the times and 20% maybe product and industry -related trivia, information, articles etc.!! What he wanted to do went against social media marketing sense. It is a manufacturer’s approach, wherein the company decides to talk about itself most of the times on social media, rather than consider the likes dislikes of its consumers. I was not just pissed, I was distressed for the brand. How can he do something like this? I can’t watch where this will head. Why is he ignoring the social media articles I am sending him?And then the quiet question: whose brand and business is this?

Not mine. The truth is, no matter how deeply I feel about them, I do not own the brands I work on. They belong to my boss. If a decision he takes goes beautifully, I don’t get a fatter paycheck because of it. If a decision he takes adversely affects his brands, I am not going to suffer losses. It’s not my capital invested. It’s not my product. Why then am I stressing so much about someone else’s child? Let the parent worry about it.

As employees, we must do our jobs to the best of our ability, take ownership of a brand. When we are confronted with a wrong move being made, we must adopt a 2-stage approach.

Stage 1: Express disagreement. Explain why it would be a wrong move. Suggest alternatives that would be better than the action being taken. Push for it as best as you can. When no one listens, then it’s time for…

Stage 2: Stop making it your problem beyond this point, because it isn’t. After this, go with the flow and let the chips fall whichever way they have to. Keep your peace of mind and save your ideas in a book to use for another project or client. Believe me, it’s best for your sanity.

I think maybe it’s time to start something of my own–a brand, a label. Something I own. Just a thought, but just the thought of it had me feeling so excited!


Of Mice, Masons, Madness and Migraines.

The last 2 weeks were comprised of these. I had repairs to be done at home and, hence, masons are to be expected. All their mixing cement and slapping on tiles and filling in cracks and painting keeps them busy, but it’s ultra boring for the house owners. They are in your space. They are in your space all day. They are in your space all day for 6 days.
They are in your space all day for 6 days making loud cutting, drilling, mixing noises. No joyride.

The mice, disgusting creatures, had made Disneyland out of my house. I don’t know which part and room they had not visited. They had torn up paper and clothing and stuffed it inside my gas stove! They had chewed up plastic bowls and boxes. They sampled a small part of my pretty black dress and presumably didn’t like the dark taste of it, so left it like that–with a hole in it. Why? Why? Their droppings were everywhere, as were their fleas I think, cos I got badly bitten by them. There came a point when I was scratching this growing angry red rash on my skin all the time. On a trip to a store, I saw a dog walking slowly from under a plant with low hanging branches. Slackjawed, his eyes were half closed, he kept walking to and fro under the plant very very slowly as though in a trance. He was getting himself a good scratch out of the branches, but he looked extremely creepy, like some sort of a perv. All I could think was: Ooh that must feel so-o good! I replayed that sentence in my head and decided I needed a dermat. She prescribed antihistamines and some cream. I was scratching through that appointment, as I spoke to her and as she spoke to me. Like a mangy mongrel.

And the migraines. They have been regular through last year, and I had a 45% downtime because of them. On Monday though, I had one of the worst ones. It started at my shoulder, then traveled up the neck and sat as 3 pain spots near my left ear and eye. Then by evening, it started jumping around, sometimes it hurt at the neck, sometimes the left side of my head and sometimes the right. By night, however, it had stopped taking sides and was just everywhere from my neck up. I could not get any work done and I had some things to deliver. As I was apologizing to my colleague, I started feeling nauseous and a bit faint, which is something that happens only in the worst kind of migraines. I shut everything down and went to bed quietly because doing anything else would be futile. It was gone the next morning, but I need to sort this migraine issue out.

I was reading this rather useful article in my feed. One of the reasons for a migraine is hunger. But the physiological process behind it is what is important to know. When we feel hungry and do not have access to food immediately or within a reasonable period of time, our blood sugar levels drop and that is what causes a bad migraine to come on. Interesting. My mother was a nurse, and she always told us to carry hard candy with us. If we left home on an empty stomach and felt hungry and dizzy, then our blood sugar levels were likely low–it’s called hypoglycemia. At such times, she told us to pop in sugar boiled candy. The sugar would immediately rectify the low sugar levels and prevent fainting. I guess migraines are just another manifestation of low sugar levels then. I’m trying the sugar candy treatment. What flavour should I stock?

I am also planning on maintaining a migraine diary. This is for my mother’s neurologist, with whom I had once broached the issue of my headaches. He looked up pan-faced but interested and asked me: How often do you get them? I said: About once a month. He said: Come back to me when they have increased in frequency.

Docs are the most hardened people in the world. But he’s a good guy.

And that…is all the madness that has gone down in the very first month of the new year. I hope the rest of the year is better else I want my money back.


This Day.

It’s such a gorgeous day in Bombay city. It’s so cold and yet the sunshine is so crisp and pleasantly warm on the skin. For some reason, very good looking people have been passing by on the road in front of my house. There are 2 advertising agencies in my area but these are not advertising folks. These seem to be marketing or maybe even sales people, looking all dapper in their crisp shirts and slim fit trousers and their leather satchels. A hotel near my house must be having one of them conferences. Women look so good when they are not skinny! And guys look so good in beards!

I think it could also be my outlook this morning. I am brimming with enthusiasm. For the past 2 days I have been like a lifeless rag doll because I had been mulling over some things in order to take some decisions about stuff around the house and all my energy was tied in that. Taking decisions is a challenge for me. Indecisiveness is my nemesis unless I am very clear about the reasons I am doing something. Most of the times, however, things are not that clear. I can think of a variety of options and then a variety of pros and cons attached to each. That is when I start feeling cautious and inevitably start dragging my feet till I get clarity, that feeling of certainty that I am looking for. I keep going over the options over and over again till I start feeling anxious and even less clear than when I started out. I think they call it overthinking. I also think that maybe I can blame this on my mother (haha) who insisted that we must get the best for our money and nothing less. So ingrained is that in my psyche that I am scared of making a substandard move. But we do the best we can within our capacity and the knowledge available to us, right? Even after we choose something there is always the possibility that something better was out there, but should that really make a difference if what we have picked serves our purposes, makes us happy, satisfies us? All the sense in me tells me it does not, and I have started listening to that sense a little these days.

So my decisions have been made and I am feeling this release of energy. I can’t bring myself to work today and I have enough of it to keep me busy all day. I’ll think about it later. Right now, I must get outside and take in the sun.


I love you gym!

I went to the gym yesterday after a gap of 3 weeks. I didn’t miss it all the while that I was away, but when I stepped in, I felt like I was coming home! Familiarity came rushing at me, and I was so happy I wanted to hug the treadmill. Since my mornings will now be busy, I asked the trainer if I could put in just 10 mins of cardio and then hit the machines and do a more full cardio step workout at home later in the evening. It seems to be the only way to juggle everything optimally. I was ready for his objections, but he seemed quite fine with my plan. So the news is that you can split your cardio and strength training sessions to different times of the day.

I did my circuit all by myself, and I did everything correctly. I am sure the trainer would have loved to see heavier weights on the machines I was using but hey, I don’t care what the trainer thinks. My body is saying: go easy, let me get in slowly, and I will listen to it. I think left to our own devices we do go easy on ourselves, yes. But we also know at the back of our minds that we have to work harder to see the results we have in mind. So, while we are easing ourselves into working out, we are also kind of mentally and physically gearing up for a bigger challenge, and as we get comfortable, we do start trying out tougher things. I wish trainers would get that–that we are not undermotivated or slackers. After all, we are the people who paid money to accept pain in return for fitness. We are motivated, believe me. We, or rather our bodies, just need time to get accustomed to things. If trainers would get that, it would help them prevent people from paying 6 months gym membership but leaving after 15 days! When people feel like they are unequal to a task right at the start (and believe me beginners are when it comes to gyming) they lose motivation and just rather pull out early and avoid the whole situation where they feel they are failing. Maybe not all are like that, but I think many are if gym dropout rates are anything to go by. Maybe I am wrong, though.

Anyway, here is a helpful link for gym beginners:



I generally do not have any new year resolutions because they just add more anxiety to an already busy life. This year though, I have a few.

  1. Get Fit. This includes working out and weight loss but also includes eating for better overall health. I think eating right is really no magic show. It is just making sensible, temperate dietary choices and decisions. Don’t overdo oil, sugar, or salt–keep them moderate. Don’t overdo cheese, fried things, and sweet things–enjoy them in moderation, maybe over the weekend. Excess of anything or addiction to anything creates an imbalance and that is when things start getting crazy. Don’t overdo but don’t deprive either. It’s a simple mantra but somehow we forget all about it somehow. Avoid low-fat anything. These low fat chips and snacks, have you ever tasted them? They taste like cardboard. It’s essential we enjoy the food we eat because only then, as we say in Marathi “jevan angi lagel“, which means only then will the food truly show as health and well being. Also, we must accept the reality of age, that some things in our lifestyle just have to change as our physiognomy changes with age. Through it all though, exercise is the rock star. I used to always dodge working out, but then I had to join a gym on my doctor’s advice to lose weight, and I realized that it felt good. Damn good, in fact! Y’all must work out in some form. Eventually, my plan is to introduce Yoga to my life. But this year is dedicated to being a gym rat.
  2. Go Black. I love the colour black. It’s stylish. It’s noir. It’s edgy. When I was in college, I used to have a lot of black t-shirts primarily because we were into rock music. We used to attend quite a few rock shows back then, and we also had friends in bands. It’s a lifestyle, rock is. And your basic black tees are a part of it. Then I started working, in advertising at that. In ad agencies, all black clothing is almost the norm. Black monochromatic dressing stayed on as part of my personal fashion scene for the rest of my work life. For some time in between, and because we all tend to experiment with something different at some point, I bought all these “different” colours and clothing. But now, my heart is just ready to go back to black. Military green, khaki, deep rich colours, dark prints, and camo are welcome to come along. It’s going to be that kind of year.
  3. Draw. This is not going to be so much a skill that I will learn as much as a skill that I will polish, hone, and finetune. I am already good at drawing, have always been from my school days. I recall, in the 6th grade, I drew and painted a picnic scene for a friend of mine in Art class. She was hopeless at drawing or anything remotely artistic or crafty. She sucked at needlepoint too and always wore a distraught expression during that class. She was very good at giggling though, and if you saw her laugh, you would get into a good mood and join her. So anyways, she came upto me and since I had finished my drawing, asked me if I would do something for her to submit in class. I did. The Art teacher sent in some of our paintings to an art competition and that particular picnic picture I drew won. The trophy was lots of painting supplies. My friend was dazed when her name was called out as winner. She then came up to me during break time and offered me the paints and coloring things she had received, saying: It was your drawing, this actually belongs to you. I laughed and refused to take them. I had lots of them at home. My grandpapa used to draw and paint, and when he did, he gave us kids squares of paper and colours and made us do art time next to him. I want to get back to it.

For a change I am looking forward to working on my resolutions.



Happy New Year to all those who are conflicted and struggling with their circumstances. Life is not easy, but did they tell you it was never meant to be? If it were then what would you prevail against and what would you surmount and how would you experience the high of triumph? Stay in the fight.

Happy New Year to all who are discouraged and despondent. It will pass whatever it is. You will rise again from where you sit subdued. It seems impossible, and I seem like a profligate liar given to oversimplification, but I have seen it, the phoenix shaking the ashes off its wings. Just don’t give in to the blackness.

Happy New Year to the lost. You don’t know it, but the compass is in your heart. You just need to clear the fog and the noise to look at it. You have 365 new days to do it. Keep searching, you will find, and in doing so, you will be found.

Happy New Year to all who love–madly, strongly, fearlessly. The depth of your emotions is simultaneously your strength as well as your weakness. It fills you with euphoria, it exposes you to pain. But that’s love and there’s nothing you can do about it. Sorry, I wish I had some hack for you there; I don’t. But don’t forget to love yourself too, not a little but enough, so you know where to draw lines, when to walk away, when to stay, and when to fight the world. Love and nurture yourself, so you know how to, and can, love and nurture another.

And finally Happy New Year to all the poets and painters and artists and storytellers and musicians. The true alchemists turning the ordinary into gold. Keep doing what you are doing, you inspire us more than you know.

Happy New Year 2019!

Work vs Leave

So, my one week of leave started on 25th. Yay, I know! Yesterday went in a blur really. I did my best to dodge even the possibility of people dropping in at home. My mom was in a mother of a bad mood, and when she is like that, there is no telling what truths will slip out of her mouth. I am generally left with the unpleasant task of cleaning up the mess, soothing hurt egos, and undertaking some form of damage control. This time I was just in no mood for all that, so I went cake shopping…in case someone came with dishes. In India, it’s a tradition to send out dishes filled with treats to neighbours. Christians do it at Christmas, Hindus do it at Diwali.

Today was my second day of leave, and I was just unable to relax! I had thought that this one week of leave I will be lounging around on air, doing nothing but reading and talking on the phone. But that’s not how it’s shaping up. I may be on leave, but my lists are working, and they remind me of things that I have to take care of before the end of the year.

And man, I am missing work! I naturally gravitate towards my laptop through the day and have to remind myself that I am on leave–no mails, no social media work, no curating (but I still do it), no Slack, no workplace people…this is leave, get it? My mind gets it, but something deeper inside my head does not. Maybe because for the past 2 years, work has been my release in an all-shit family situation, the exhausting responsibility of running the house plus handling legal stuff single-handedly, and the general madness of living with a post-stroke patient. When all these were intersecting, it was work that kept me sane, and it was workplace interactions that were more relaxing than the ones I was having with family and lawyers. The thinking and the work I did on the brands I handled calmed me. So much so that I wanted to send tear-soaked thank you notes to my boss! Things are better now, but through connotations, work is a place I want to be at to experience balance. Does that make sense? Does anyone else feel this way?

It’s not a massive surprise though. Work has always been important to me. I may have opted out of the 9-to-5 rut, but it has never occurred to me to opt out of working. I think I will be working even when I hit my 90’s, though I really do not want to live that long.


Listlessness, Lists, and Listening to yourself.

These are such crazy lazy days. There is so much work to be tackled but my mind has just gone into some sort of IDC mode. Nothing seems to be able to jolt me into action. Usually, just seeing a to-do list used to do it for me. Now, I look at it and I think of….nothing. 

I am floating, unanchored by any inclination for anything other than chewing all the gum in a Candy Crush game. Unusual. So, I am going to list out all the possible reasons for this. 

  1. Gyming:  All that sweating like a hirsute demon must be robbing me of either energy or anxiety, which by the way, acts as a spark plug. 
  2. It could also be all this discipline that I am trying to impose upon myself. It’s just no fun, I tell you. I hate the way my day…and time…is getting processed through a schedule.
  3. I am staring at diet eating in the face. I can see cucumbers, tomatoes, carrot, and lettuce all looking at me as their next destination, and I resent it. I love lettuce though. The gym trainer, my sister, a colleague, my aunt have all told me that I must eat small meals at regular intervals. My question is: who has the time to keep eating every 2 hours?! And boring food like green salads at that? I went salad shopping the other day in a rare spell of enthusiasm for it. I bought avocados, chickpeas, lettuce, mushrooms, pomegranate, and cottage cheese. Then I sat and stared at them, completely at a loss for an idea of how I could make them all come together in an edible and enjoyable way.  They sat in the refrigerator for a few days before I dragged them out and tried a salad. The avocados had gone bad so I had to throw them away. I sauteed the cottage cheese with pepper in olive oil. Likewise the mushrooms. Steamed the chickpeas. Then in a bowl, I added chopped lettuce, added pomegranate, chickpeas, mushrooms, cottage cheese. To it, I added some leftover hummus, mixed and consumed. It lacked chicken and maybe some onion sauce. As you can see, it is just so MUCH work to put together a salad! And it needs so many things to make it tasty. Salads=misery. Consider a pizza on the other hand. Buy base, chop ingredients, coat base with sauce, shove chopped things onto base, add cheese, sprinkle herbs,  put into oven/microwave. Ping! Done. 
  4. Responsibility. Which basically translates into too much work, too many balls up in the air, too many things to pay attention to and keep track off, and lists.
  5. Training maids. So, I have a new maid. This one is going to handle all mom’s work plus handle chores around the house–do the laundry, chop veggies and effects, restock groceries, dust and clean the place. Great, but I have had to train her about how things need to be done. I hate training. My eyes glaze over and I feel like someone has made a large withdrawal from my energy deposits. 
  6. Instagram. I have had to work on the Instagram account I handle at work. Grappling and wrestling with things such as engagement, scheduling, commenting, liking, and those creatures called Instagram followers. There is some trouble on this account. It’s proving to be a challenge growing it. The girl who handled it before me told me that the account had potential but it was stuck for some reason. The job, then, is not that easy. It requires relooking strategy right from changes in macroenvironment that have affected our product and brand to examining our product itself.  This is the only thing that thrills me at this point in time. I recently started a discussion about this with a colleague at work, someone from marketing. It’s the only time I feel wide awake. Discussing it with someone with knowledge of marketing, who understands design, is just such a relief. I can speak with him about the brand, about the product, and about marketing, and I think he will understand. Working with the right people can be very invigorating. But back to Instagram, which let me tell you is turning into a creative bore as an app. There are very few accounts that actually stand out as different and interesting. Otherwise depressing stuff.   
  7. Dealing with service people. By that, I mean service centers, technicians, carpenters, electricians, and masons. What’s with these guys? Are they genetically incapable of delivering any work on time? I have dealt with more than a fair share of them and let me tell you they are infuriating. I have started out talking nicely with them and ended up in ultimatums. But work got done. I am ambivalent about this new ability. Does this mean I have become a nasty person? Or does this simply mean I have finally learned the right way of dealing with their kind? 

Can’t think of anything else. I think that salad is the culprit.