Love (and sex) in the times of bipolar disorder

An excerpt from a searing and candid memoir of life under cycles of mania and depression.

“The lies you tell when you are manic are rooted in delusions. When you’re inventing fantastic fictions for your audience, you almost forget what truth is. The worlds you conjure exist. You will them to. Speech becomes a ticket to authenticity, and because no fabrication can be impervious to reality, you find your inconsistencies irksome. The guilt, which amplifies itself when you are depressed, is altogether absent when you’re becoming someone you had always wanted to be, from an elsewhere you had always wished you inhabited. You lie because your world ought to have been better. The attention and belief of your listener fulfils your wish. Stories are of course undone by outlandish exaggerations, but a manic mind desperately wants to travel distances that have been impossible to cover in moments more prosaic.”

Three days after we had first met, Urvashi caught me intently inspecting my reflection in a cafe window when she came in. She was wearing a short skirt with black stockings. “This is what I wear to work,” she said, perhaps feeling compelled to clarify.

“But you aren’t flying today, are you?” My voice already sounded disappointed.

“No, but there’s still an office I show my face at sometimes,” she replied, looking pointedly at my earlobes. “Those are new. You didn’t have them the last time.” Bashfulness had suddenly taken the place of my bravado.

“I’d always wanted to get this done, and after that night of firsts, I think I found some strange courage.”

She smiled in a manner I could recognise from the other night. Picking up my pack of cigarettes from the table, she asked why I always flipped the last one.

“I find a new answer to that question each time. I can give you choices.”

She laughed and said, “I’d like you to invent a line you’ve never used.”

I must have blushed. “Because I hope someone will turn my world upside down by the time I count to twenty.” I remember fearing who I was becoming.

I didn’t tell Urvashi about the fire. Reality could puncture the lightness of an intimacy we were stitching somewhat briskly.

Aware that a Google search would rupture my careful fiction, I made only a few obtuse references to my life in Britain. We talked about how at times she’d feel bloated when she was in the air. I told her I felt bloated all the time.

She told me, “Beauty is not something I was given. It is something I create every day. It takes me an hour. You can time it.” I told her I was trying to survive without a watch. When she said she was tired of relationships that grew too serious too quickly, I took the hint. I sensed our togetherness was transitory, and though I knew the afternoon came with its limits, I couldn’t have felt more content.

“You slowed me down. Thank you for that,” I said, dropping her outside her door. I didn’t expect to be called inside, nor did I expect us to be alone. There was no guided tour. She held me by the hand and took me to her room. Before kissing my lips, all Urvashi said was, “I hope you’re counting to twenty.”

For the next hour, we had sex with an abandon that was novel. I again had the attention of my audience, but control was not a prerogative that fully belonged to either one of us. For a brief interlude, I even thought I was free of language. I wanted to communicate my gratitude to Urvashi. Pleasure had always been problematic for me. Surrender was relief. As I buttoned my shirt, she emptied her jewellery box on the bed. She found a silver earring and gave it to me. “When you take off those studs, put this on. I want to see you wear something that’s mine.”

Sadly, sex only interrupted my mania. She and I never met again.

Shreevatsa Nevatia
Shreevatsa Nevatia

The women I confessed an undying love for were all merely substitutes for one another.

I tailored a performance I was soon refining with practice. No bigger than a pocketbook, a collection of Franz Kafka’s aphorisms had become a manual for me in that summer of 2007. Three sentences by Kafka illustrated my quandary: “There are some who assume that next to the original deception, another smaller deception was practiced specifically for them. It’s as if when a romantic comedy is performed on stage, the actress, in addition to the lying smile for her beloved, keeps a further, particularly cunning smile for a certain spectator in row Z. That is going too far.” I was the actress, yes, smiling the cunning smile, but I was also the spectator. I was mistaking even the slightest bit of attention for adoration. I’d gone too far.

Pulling me out of his living room, an acquaintance advised, “Stop thinking you’re some kind of Krishna. You’re just a really bad actor botching up his once-in-a-lifetime part as Casanova.” I had gotten used to my interactions being bountiful, and was surprised by the ever-increasing possibility of hostility. My utterances had begun to anger those I had once considered my dearest friends. I’d often be irate when talking on the phone. I screamed so loudly when talking to Lucia once, she pleaded from Cornwall, “Will you please lower your voice? You’ll wake Turkey up.”

I berated cautious women for leading me up the garden path. Knowing I had become an object of gossip, the conversations I imagined people were having about me were more fact than supposition. When my friend arrived at her door, wanting me to leave that very minute, I assumed the neighbours must have complained. But my transgressions had become hard to dismiss as shenanigans.

Of all the belongings I left behind in my hurry to leave Delhi, I still miss most my library which I had carefully packed in three boxes. Having exhausted all the funds in my bank account and having spent all my favours, I sat in an autorickshaw with nowhere to go. An ex-colleague thankfully brought me some money to pay the hotel I had impulsively checked into. Love makes you think of affection as grace, and you then spend your time trying to match that beneficence. Kanti, my waiter, saw me type on my laptop and asked me how much it would cost to buy one for his teenage son. I made him take mine. To have absolutely nothing, I would have to make use of one last open ticket to Bombay. I left Delhi that night, thinking I was free of attachment.

My childhood friends who I met in Bombay were perturbed enough by my gradual metamorphosis to be more forgiving.

Waiting for one of them at the airport, I felt the need to test the limits of my new-found asceticism. I sat cross- legged and began meditating outside the terminal. With no luggage, the Bombay constable found it hard to believe I was a passenger. He shooed me away with his stick. ‘This is no place for bums,’ he said. My actions were becoming harder to fathom and my misconduct was becoming harder to apologize for. I was making scenes in bars and on the road. It was prudent on the part of my two closest friends to take me to see a psychiatrist. I was fidgety and impatient in the waiting room. The receptionist soon asked me to wait inside. She showed the way.

The room I was led into had three chairs and an examination table. Parvati was filling out forms when I sat down. Her forehead seemed to have locked itself into a frown. She kept removing the hair from her face as she ticked multiple boxes.

I apologised before asking, “What do they have you in for?”

Her concentration interrupted, she lifted her head and looked like a rabbit that had been caught in the headlights of my question. “They don’t know yet. I don’t even know if I should be here.”

I laughed and said that we were in the same boat.

“But looking at you, I think that boat might capsize,” said Parvati.

She was disarmingly attractive when she smiled. When she asked me for my name, I considered the possibilities for a few seconds and said, “Advaita Goswami.”

“But that’s a girl’s name, isn’t it?” she asked.

My lie had given me the chance to reinvent myself again, and I wanted to cross a threshold I had been too afraid to in the past. “Advaita literally means non-duality. More simply, it means not two. If I were a Vedanta scholar, I’d tell you there is no gender.”

She asked sheepishly, “Are you a Vedanta scholar?”

I burst out laughing. I told Parvati I was an orphan, that I had lost my parents in a car accident and that I was now living on an inheritance. I had a sister, but we, for some reason, didn’t talk much after our parents’ death. “I know I won’t have to worry about money, but I don’t know what to do with my freedom.”

She said there was only one way out for me. I needed to get up to mischief. “But the problem with mischief is that it lands you in trouble, no? I guess that’s why I am here.” Before she went back to her forms, I asked her if she’d like to meet for a drink. She tore a piece of paper and wrote down her number. Advaita Goswami was far smoother than Shreevatsa Nevatia could ever be. When the nurse came to get me, thankfully she didn’t call out my name.

As I sat across from a psychiatrist for the first time, I leant back and rested my arm on the chair. I was caught in the act. It did not take long.

Excerpted with permission from How To Travel Light: My Memories of Madness and Melancholia, Shreevatsa Nevatia, Penguin India.

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The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.


The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the marketing team and not by the editorial staff.