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And now it’s time to meet my wonderful, beautiful, I-would-die-without-them classmates. Presenting Manu Vishwanath, aka the Smooth Talker.

People say he is a smooth talker.
I think he is plain weird. And when I have been knocked out of my senses, he is also:

a) the greatest and the best host ever
b) one of the most amazing cooks
c) hardworking and persevering
d) one of the funniest guys alive
e) endearingly obsessed with taking long walks and consuming green, leafy vegetables

Pfft! My senses are back to normal. And he is still weird.

Q1. A relationship that was a mistake, one you should not have got into?
Between the ages of 19 and 23, and I cannot be more specific than that, I fell deeply, madly, and selfishly in love. I was obsessed, I ate like a waif, I slept in the sunshine and stayed awake until 3 am writing long letters. What she received were little, polite and formal notes instead. And then one afternoon I was drunk by 4 and combined all my drafts into one long, mournful missive and sent it all to her. A week passed and there was silence. I skulked around corners grimacing at the grey sky and all the TV and the companionship and triumph in the world could not snap me out of that funk. But one morning I opened up my email to see a response and the moment I read it I ran down the stairs of my apartment into the street and all the way to the Lachine canal where I watched ducks swim by until they disappeared under the bridge. I met her at the bus stop when she returned from holiday a week later and we hugged and kissed. It was pure bliss for two months; we had the easy familiarity of an elderly couple that still makes love. But soon the storm clouds returned and it was all over within a season—an ungraceful fall. That relationship left me shattered and in an extremely dark place, but it also gave me a great platform on which to rebuild. There was nowhere to go but up. And I understand where she was coming from. I projected a grand idea of a kind of romance that I had only ever read about on to a person who wasn’t ready and able to have that kind of relationship, and for that, I have myself to blame.

Q2. Ever been obsessed with an idea that was not good for you, yet were unable to snap out of it?
Yes—the idea that somewhere out there is a better, truer, more capable version of myself. I tried everything: a maze of strategies and personal field notes filled notebooks and diaries which overflow hidden boxes in my closet; until finally a scarecrow of ideas and band-aids and props took shape—a precarious image of a self. I still haven’t completely solved the equation, but the idea is to stop looking, to slow down and accept and love yourself for who you truly are. I’ll keep you posted on when that happens…

Q3. Heaven would be…
Just past midnight when I turn off all the lights, slip on my headphones and just groove to my favorite songs. I feel like I’m flying.

Q4. How did improvisational theatre save you?
Improvisational theatre was a key part of helping me slow down and find self-acceptance. There is a moment on stage where the panic snaps you out of your head and straight into the scene, and words come out of your mouth but you’re not quite sure who’s saying them and characters are occupying the stage and you’re not quite sure where they’re coming from, but you’re creating a world together with your scene partner and you know it’s going to be absolutely and completely ok—that’s great improv. I started just over two years ago, and still feel like I’m an absolute novice. But I will always remember the moments that I have had on-stage; they were magic and they keep me going. There might be a strong connection between improv and dancing…

Q5. India, Singapore or Canada… where’s home?
You forgot the US. No worries, I often do as well. Tough question for a “third culture kid,” as we’re called (a term that I find slightly misleading because most third culture kids have identity issues and I am no exception—perhaps “no culture kid” is better… or worse?). Let’s say the idea is always in flux and ever-evolving, but home is where my family is. And I am extremely fortunate that I feel like I have more than one family. There are generous, brave, compassionate, and friendly people everywhere you go. You just have to find them.

Logo of brand, Five Question Series.

Author: AD

Born and raised in India, Anisha Dhiman moved to Toronto to study Publishing and then Lifestyle Media at Centennial College. Writer, social media strategist and content creator, Anisha is the founder of Five Question Series, where she profiles people… you guessed it, by asking five questions. In her free time, she enjoys reading and trolling people with puppy GIFs and memes. Her only phobia? Losing her sight, but staring at the screen all day long doesn’t help much.

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January 25, 2017

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