The Five Polaroids of Winter is a short story I wrote sometime in early-2022 after meeting real life twins of Moroccan descent at a covid testing site.
They were from Italy and worked as security at a Covid testing site where I was working part-time as a testing assistant. We only spoke about the usual hows and whys, discussed the weather and what brought us to this cold country. But, unlike so many people I meet everyday, I was engrossed in them. Why? (I am still trying to understand) I observed them closely and the way they spoke of each other, of the weather, of their passions, of their temporary jobs, of their family. I watched, understood, and registered their reactions in my head. It was like a switch had gone off and the Gods of Writing told me to make note of all their movements and expressions. I did as told.
Mundane and realistic, their nonchalance was fascinating. I knew I had to write them. I’m not even sure if they were all this or if it was just something my inspiration-seeking brain made up. One unique experience of meeting the first Moroccans I had ever met, who were also twins with all their similarities and differences, was good enough to light the fire in me to write something, anything. Or maybe it was because I was on a really dull shift on a beautiful autumn day and making up these characters to keep myself entertained was fodder, like everything is. I will never know. You will never know. Anyhow, this the story I wrote after I got back home. I could say more but it is an experience more than a story and it is best to dig in without knowing what to expect. Enjoy.
PS.: I was under a heavy spell of Mariana Enriquez’s work at this time. The Intoxicated Years was the first one I read and loved.
*10.04 am* have you noticed how this isn’t a weekly Wednesday blog anymore but mostly a write-whenever-i-am-in-the-mood thing? No? Just me? Ok.
I am going to propose an idea today. A friend shared an instagram page with me this morning, about a girl who documents her everyday life, just basic chores and it’s nice to watch, I’m all for documenting life. As soon as I buy a new phone, I’m doing it. Old phone screen was cracked six months ago when I dropped it face down on a sort-of a drunk night. Sorry mom, these things happen when you do 22-year old sh*t at 27.
I want to write a short story but I’m waiting for an idea to spark, a voice to emerge, so urgent and desperate, that it demands to be written.
Can I let this blog update be a random collation of things I want to do and things that I wish happen to me? Yes.
I have taken upon a ‘word of the day’ challenge. Any one person is allowed to tell me a word everyday and I write 100 words around it. I share the first two here because it’s a real thing I’m doing and I want to show it.
#1 Blossom you say, I need clarity so I ask what you mean by it. Can be anything, like the blossoming of a flower, you say. I don’t like how basic an idea that is. Ok, then do something with it, it’s up to you, you say. I nod and type something about cherry blossoms and spring, secretly wishing you never get to read it or you will know that I am, in fact, basic. A single yellow light from the lamp on my desk. You strum the ukulele to Tum jab pass aati ho by Prateek Kuhad. Thanks for setting up a nice writing mood, I say. You smile and f#ck up the lyrics. At least the tune’s right, I say. You get fake annoyed. Shut up, you say. I laugh. I blossom.
#2 Embrace is pure serotonin when you wrap your arms around me// your eyes do it before you, every time you see me// mother’s tight welcome after another year away from her// grandmother follows it with a kiss on the eyes// dad taps on the head, says take care with a heavy voice, he is bad at goodbyes// her eyes fill up with tears, that childhood friend of mine, oh how difficult friendships are, that have lasted a while// the cat tries to escape as I squish her in mine// I embrace myself as I sleep tonight.
You buy three novels for a pound apiece from a charity shop and decide to read it at the all-￼night café, a place that owls like you frequent. All congregating in the hopes of finding a companion, only for the long night ahead. You take a seat on an empty couch near the wall as your silk coat slips under your thigh.
You are only halfway through the first page when a man shows up and asks if he can sit beside you. You take a long look. Dishevelled grey hair, beard a spread of snowflakes. His clothes are two sizes too big for him, a dull grey hoodie and sweatpants. His feet tightly wrapped in a pair of worn-out sneakers. You nod and he sits down with a cup in his hand. You go back to your book, all the while waiting for him to make a move. In the whole of next hour he doesn’t do much except crossing his legs in intervals, sipping on his tea and looking at nothing in particular.
You get restless and tired so you lean on his shoulder. He doesn’t flinch. You tell him about your birth name and how your father who gave you the name, left when you were five, because he found true love with another man. When the man smiles you notice a net of wrinkles around his eyes like an all-knowing saint. He mentions that he likes spending his long nights at the bar because he enjoys reading people when they’re drunk. Gets them talking, he says. It’s like a superpower, to be able to listen. Everyone loves that shit. The night-people, he says, have peculiar experiences, extraordinary tales and hilarious adventures that the day-people won’t ever know.
You agree so you tell him about the night you found solace in two old women who sang karaoke in a bar. How the highs and lows of their voices made you hate the original song, how their hips swayed in their leather skirts and how you couldn’t take your eyes off of them. You tell him then about the man who promised you a job telling tourists about local wine. How it seemed like a good idea at the time, but how he turned out to be a psychopath and about the elaborate escape plan you had to make to get away from him.
You tell him more about the boy you loved. The man listens intently like you are just one of those night-people with intriguing stories. You revel in that image of yourself. You go to lengths to describe the affair. How you gave your mother’s wedding ring to your lover and how big of a fool you were to not take it back when he was being sent back to the country he came from. The man says it is a matter of mystical fate. You nod and ask the man if he wants to sleep with you. He shakes his head.
You lift your head from his shoulder and rest it on the armrest on the other side. You pull your feet up and they brush the man’s thighs. You see him, still sitting there, looking at you like he knows you. You wonder if this is what your father would look like.
The first faint light of dawn seeps in through the window. You wake up from your nap and through your barely open eyelids, you watch the man stand up, adjust his hoodie and walk towards the door. The day-people have started coming in.
Inspired by a flash fiction piece in KM Elkes’ All That Is Between Us, Night People tries to capture the poignancy of the characters in the world that Elkes has created in You Wonder How They Sleep. The plot of the story remains unchanged but the perspective shifts from that of Elkes’ primary character to secondary.
I got you with that title, didn’t I? Thanks for coming here anyway. You’re rare!
This is an overdue life update
who asked for it?
I spoke to a guy I matched on a matrimony website
wait, what!? who?
*side eye* some dude, seemed nice, but I don’t know if I want to get married yet
yes, of course not, you’re so young, but wait! what happened with some dude?
Oh! Just small talk, introductions etcetera. He seemed smart and kind and looked okay too
you seem smitten, why didn’t you go ahead?
*a nod back* No, I am only impressed. Some dude already knows what he wants. I could marry him, but could he marry me? I don’t know what I want
Not my problem *shrug*
It’s the lies in my profile, only those that are stupid to believe it, say hi. I should be honest about myself, quote Ann Quin like
read for pleasure consider myself informed sense of humour is important enjoy discussing ideas my best work is done when I’m not working I am dominant relationship with my family is fucked up I am sophisticated considered attractive interested in marriage liberal regarding sex more of a dove than a hawk my date should be psychologically weaker I am optimistic Pot and pop-pills are morally right I drink regularly Tripticks
this. It will be a filter; direct, uncultured but necessary. Mother would never approve.
you think THIS will get you some other dude? Two words; grow up
yeah, hide your nose in the books
Maybe I’ll learn to love the solitude
*excessive laughing and coughing* sure.
Tripticks is Ann Quin’s fourth and final novel. When I read it, I was immersed in her thoughts and lyrical prose. Even though I am many generations and many miles away, her writing made me feel like I was mulling on my own thoughts. Tripticks new edition is out tomorrow and you can get it here: https://www.andotherstories.org/tripticks/
Susie says: You have to imagine Susie as a young person of seventeen. Susie prefers no pronouns, so Susie will always be addressed as Susie, please remember that. Susie can be imagined wearing grey overalls lying in bed in some existential dread, indulging in Ann Quinn’s drugged version of life over the drugged version of mine.Susie also wants you to remember that this is a private diary extract from Susie’s diary which means it’s personal and not liable to your judgements whatsoever. Begin.
A year ago when I meet the Man, he is a thin man with shiny black hair in a bun. Screaming for attention. I remember thinking nothing of him but why wasn’t he ogling at me like all the others? A week or so before I saw him again at the famous dance nightintown. But nothing of notice, the Man next door. For twelve evenings a common friend gets us together and we are all like oh! let me get to know you now because we’re in close quarters, sixteen point seven square meters to be precise, and of course lets put our best foot forward to impress but carefully, limitedly, and most importantly, not stop boasting about all the things we are not. How he wanted to throw a party for the building and how I ran behind him like a twelve year old is a mystery deeper than the mysteries in all the self-help books. I was entertained, the child not only encouraged but joined in. I thrived like I thrive when I am being taken care of. I gave myself more reasons, later, when I was doing what I did.
Two reasons I thought were enough when it began. I had a backstory and whatever I did should be, hence, justified. Story is of where I come from; a well-read, well-looking actor-in-making, you’ll want to take care of me. Something not known had made me melancholic, a dumped damsel in distress on a mission to find one true love in the land of the new. A flock of hundred. A flock I say because I hear them grunt their ballads like mehhh- you won’t find anyone like me-meh-no one will love you like me-meh-I’ll always wait around coz no one wants me-meh-its not you, could be me-mehhh.
I should get back at the world, no? Crush some balloon hearts under my pointy golden stiletto. But the Man was different, he saw through me, not at me. A couple more nights of get-to-know-yous, touch no more alien. The comfort of habit and the rise of conflict. mind1 and mind2, angel and devil, right and wrong, to do or not to do. I do. The beginning of the end. End.
A year of upheavals later, the Man rings me. On the screen, I see him sitting by the piano eager to recite the new lines he has written to an old tune. Shiny black hair now ending an inch above the ear. Ballad of a thin man ensues while I wonder what is the process for CTRL+Z in life?
I haven’t been feeling well since this morning. Got a minor throat infection (thanks to the UK weather) and mild fever. It was a rest day after many weeks of exhausting work shifts and a wonderful Scarborough trip. Basically I’m not sleepy and kinda bored of tossing and turning in bed so I’ve decided to write a random life update instead. Bear with me.
It has been close to four months since I started applying for jobs with no success (yet) and it took a huge toll on me. I was in this constant state of being stuck, a helpless low and I kept questioning my worth every other day. It was tiring. Over the last two weeks though, I’ve consciously worked on not stressing out too much and find solutions instead. I’m not sure how long it is going to last, but at least I have some clarity now. I’ve figured out what I want (if only partly) and what are the practical things I can control. It is working out, bit by bit. But it has been a long, lengthy and frustrating process.
In the last few months I’ve also grown up a lot, all of a sudden. It is not only because of my personal experiences but also because of the role I’m playing in the lives of the people around me. I’ve been so involved in so many people’s stories, sometimes by just giving them an ear to vent out and other times offering words of advise. All in all, it’s been a struggle. I’ve not been writing at all. But more recently I’ve made it a point to read regularly. I’ve picked up The Outsider by Stephen King – it’s thrilling! If you’re not into “extremely weird” and nail biting who-dun-it, then look the other way, this one’s not for you.
I have so many things on my mind right now, so many feelings, so many decisions to make, so much to plan ahead that my INFJ indecisive mind is muddled. Everything is a chaos but I feel hopeful. I guess I just figured out why sleep eludes me tonight.
*2.55 pm* sipping on a cappuccino, overlooking the sunlit Peace Gardens in the city centre. There’s a faint, continuous sound of water running through the water fountains and a gentle spring breeze blows the hem of my blue dress. It is a beautiful, beautiful day in Sheffield.
White and pink magnolias are in their full bloom, they border the water fountain on the right side of the garden beside the iconic Sheffield Town Hall. Everyone is outside, soaking the warmth and light of the sun. Young mothers and fathers walking around with their babies in pushchairs and prams, lovesick couples dressed in bright t-shirts and picnic shorts, no longer holding hands for warmth, but revelling on their own. Elderly men and women sitting on the benches, watching their grandkids run around in the grass. There is an overload of goggles and bright colours. Heavy jackets are no longer hanging on the hook by the door, they are folded, packed and placed carefully at the back of the closets. Everyone is outside, smiling. Spring brings out the best in people I suppose.
The winter blues are a real thing. I had only heard of seasonal depression until now because winters back home are/ were the most pleasant of all the seasons, my favourite, in fact. Monsoons and summers weren’t such a problem either, they just happened and you worked around them. But the winters in this country, in Sheffield, were some of the most depressing months I’ve ever lived through. I’ve struggled to wake up in the mornings and sleep without crying at nights and I don’t even know why!?
Now it has been a whole year around the sun since I’ve been in Sheffield. My first time in a new continent, with people I’ve never met before, and surroundings so unfamiliar. There have been a bunch of first times and I remember how special each of them felt; the first time I stepped out on the city streets, ate at a corner table at Nando’s, met some skaters on my way back and stuck around with them watching them do their tricks. I remember the first time I visited every park in the city, the trip I made to city hall, cathedral and the cemetery. I had a sudden realisation that there aren’t going to be any first times of anything in this city (or country) anymore. Yesterday, when I was sitting outside the Chakra Lounge, a quaint Indian cafe, basking in the afternoon sun with Women in Love accompanying my solitude, I saw a middle-aged man with a brown hat and a backpack clicking photos of the city on his phone. He turned towards my direction and from a distance clicked a photo of the cafe I was at and the building behind it. I’m not sure but I think I made it to his photograph, a small part of his experience of the city. I remember being in his position a year ago, walking around and clicking photos of every thing I saw and sharing it with my parents. Yesterday, I becamea part of the city, a part of his first impressions of it. I was a part of what the man will take home as his memories of Sheffield. And it dawned on me how I’ve gone from being a foreigner to a dweller over the last year. It was a full-circle moment and I’ve had one after a long time!
So, I am back here because it a milestone; being by myself and away from home for a year. I wanted to note it down, look back and have something to smile about when times get hard. I also love to chirp about British summers every chance I get. That’s all, ladies. See you next time.
*02.46 pm* Lata Mangeshkar sings जीवनातहीघडीअशीचराहुदे, प्रीतिच्याफुलावरीवसंतनाचुदे, जीवनातहीघडीअशीचराहुदे in my earphones. I don’t even know how my playlist shuffled to it, but it works.
The streets are wet and greasy from the drizzle that hasn’t stopped since morning. An old white lady walks towards the bus station in full trekking gear while I sit indoors at Adsetts Library in Sheffield looking at her through the window and writing.
I didn’t even realise that three months have gone by. I moved to the UK in the first week of March and Sheffield already feels like home. There is some familiarity, something similar to Pune here that I forget I am in a whole different part of the world. I’ve got some write ups published, have been working on my novel as well as reading more stuff than I have in the last few years. Things are super and I miss my mau.
The year in the pandemic has taught me a lot. It has, especially, taught me to be grateful, to realise the value of people who genuinely, unabashedly love and care for you. One of them is my best friend, Sam. This is the longest we have gone without seeing each other, especially with her being married now and me being away. But this gem of a person doesn’t care about all of that. She visited her parents after more than three months of moving with her husband and during her visit, she made it a point to meet MY parents one evening. I mean, I am here, there was no need for her to do this, but she did, she cares and she gets it that they would be missing me and just wanted to make them happy. Gem! Never losing her.
I don’t know what it is if not sheer luck to find the most caring, compassionate and supportive folks in life. Sheffield feels so comfortable to me already because of all the people I’ve met here. They’ve become my home away from home, a support bubble, a bunch that I know will be around for a long time. It is Carlyn’s encouragement every time I am in a writing slump, her humour helping me get through the lonely writing bouts or Meilany’s company for every time I want to go out. She is the one person I’ve spent most my time with here. We live on different planets. She introduced me to Indonesian food and history, exposed me to anime and some cool cool Japanese shows, I made her listen to old Marathi songs, she loved it. We have had beers on the canal and walked around in rain to all the nearby parks. Our worlds are as different from each other as possible and yet, she is the closest friend I’ve made in Sheffield. Grace, my flatmate, loves to take photos. A strong force of positivity. Tell her I’m having a bad day and need to feel better, she will be ready in ten minutes to take me out, whatever I need. Biggest hype-woman. We hold contrasting opinions about politics and other things, she is still the one I go to, for every little thing. Nancy, my other flatmate is what you’d call a small packet energy. We have used up all sunny days to walk in the parks. Or more like I laze around in the grass while she joins some boys for football. She is beautiful, I love clicking her pictures. Friends from different parts of the world, sailing the same boat.
I’ve made friends with a bunch of guys from India. We have had some great evenings together.
I will be starting my part-time work soon at a steakhouse. The people seem sweet and welcoming, I am excited. I’ve also picked up stuff about steak, wine pairing and serving now. There were times when I was in Mumbai, when I felt like that was my whole life. I had never, in my wildest imagination, thought I’d be here, adapting to a completely different life and culture, meeting so many new people and experiencing life in new ways.
In this grey country, life is colourful. Looking forward to enjoy two more months of summer.
PS. all the places I’ve visited in Sheffield deserve a separate post. Coming soon 🙂
Back in December 2020, when I was still in Mumbai, Komal and I would enact this famous exchange from K3G in a British accent and have a good laugh! Two months and two flight cancellations later (thx to CORONA), I AM here, in England, in my cute little room. Finallyyyy, Lovelyyyyyy!
12 hours of flight and 2 hours of road journey later, I reached the cold and rainy Sheffield only to meet some of the warmest and most welcoming folks. From the friendly Pakistani cab driver, who told me he has been living in Manchester since ‘85 driving me through serene towns and countryside, telling names and norms of the places. To the God-sent Nan, a student from Thailand helping me carry my three heavy bags, or my classmates, Carlyn and Meilany who I’ve only virtually met until now, dropping off groceries because I’m in quarantine. It’s all good.
Jan & Feb, when I was still in Pune, I had the most chaotic, fun time. My course began on zoom and I started living from novel to novel, writing and reading every single day.
There was a weekend trip to Bhima. On another week mom and dad tested positive for Covid and recovered. All this while, Apmg and I roamed around making new friends and having some fun evenings out.
Then I took a trip to dance at the grand wedding of my best friend, Sam. What a memorable time! Some snaps from all of that –
Nothing more to say this week. Can’t wait to explore Sheffield on foot as soon as my stupid quarantine is over. Also hoping to get back to blogging here regularly. Ciao!
*11.38 am* cloudy & gloomy; Current Month – January, Feels like – June.
I remember, as a child when I was put in daycare, this old aunty would teach us many prayers and shlokas. One prayer had a line that said, ‘dear god, help us grow upfast’ (the Marathi translation sounds better). I never understood why exactly were we praying to grow up, wasn’t it going to happen naturally? I still did it, I prayed. I mean who’d dare disobey the strict aunty, right? But here I am, somewhat grown up, realising that the adult world is utter bullshit. It is boring, let me warn you, and exhausting, than what I had imagined it to be. As an adult you constantly have to fulfill someone’s expectations of you and also try to do what you wish. How do you tread those waters without disappointing one or the other you tell me. End rant.
I celebrated the New Year’s Eve lying in my bed, almost asleep. I cut my mandatory birthday cake at midnight and went back to bed. And to everyone who gets excited when I tell my birthday is on 1st of January, umm, shut up! Nobody likes combined celebrations, okay? Some even forget its my birthday and wish me Happy New Year first. That’s just unfair.
On 1st, I had a long lunch with my best one, who I disagree with on most things. Sam and I are heading in different directions in our lives. She, marriage and I, well I’ll tell you shortly. Here are some good pictures from our time together.
The day ended with a nice dinner with my parents.
It wasn’t as exciting a day as I would have wanted it to be but it wasn’t bad either. I guess birthdays aren’t as fun when you grow up. I am grateful.
As soon as the birthday melancholy was over, I had to start shopping and packing my bags. I am moving to the UK to finally pursue a course in writing.
I think that explains my absence from blog writing for the last two months. I spent an overwhelming and amazing month in Mumbai, resigned from my job and with teary eyes, bid goodbye to the city and the people that housed me for the last three years. It will always remain extremely special for countless reasons.
That concludes today’s blog. I don’t know when I’ll be able to update again. It might come from the other side of the world as I begin a new phase of experiences in England, or something before I set off, talking about all the nerves.
Until then, wish you a Happy New Year 2021. Hope we get through the awful virus crisis soon.
Here’s a collection of some special moments from Nov-Dec 2020
A loud cacophony of crows wakes me up at seven in the morning. The crows are adamant. They want to do their morning assembly outside my window every day. My usual routine commences at my tiny apartment in Four Bungalows, Mumbai.
I rub my eyes and pick up the toothbrush from the shelf above the sink, pinch a perfect nurdle of toothpaste on it and stare at the tiled wall in front. Every day I notice the absence of a mirror and every day I forget to buy one. There are a few rusty nails hammered in the wall probably from the earlier tenants’ mirror. I brush, foam is formed, rinsed and washed away. Cold water on my dry skin. It makes me think of last night’s storm and the wet winds it brought along. It’s given me a sore throat.
My new pet, a crow I decided to call Peter is waiting at the kitchen window, caw-cawing loudly. Its time for his daily slice of bread and a fresh bowl of water. He dips the bread in the water and swallows the soft bites. It is fascinating to watch him everyday while I cook. A cat is wallowing somewhere in the parking lot. I try to look for it from the window. I spot a tawny one yelling at the one with black and white spots. They seem to be in a brawl of some sort. Three more cats are sitting at a distance, curiously looking at the fight that’s about to break. The winner will rule the area. They can’t wait to find out, neither can I. An undeterred Peter is still at my window, waiting. He has stopped being scared of my presence and flying away so I guess that’s good? We’re developing a friendship.
I boil a cup of water and when the temperature is just warm enough I pour some of it to drink as a cure for my sore throat. I let the remaining water boil some more for coffee.
After working for what seem like two hours, I slide the desk away and get off my seat to go back in the kitchen, looking for a snack. I find a Kitkat chocolate, tear it open and take a bite while gazing outside the window. There is no sign of Peter but there are breadcrumbs on the wooden plank where a bread slice was kept in the morning. On the street, the cats seem to have settled beside a fisherwoman who looks like she is having a busy day. Three customers have lined up, waiting for their parcel of fish and prawns. She packs it in a black plastic bag. I wonder why meat and seafood is always packed in a black polythene bag. Is it an Indian thing? Do they do that in other parts of the world? I plan to look it up.
A cuckoo sings from the Gulmohar tree on my right. I remember my grandmother telling me how it signifies luck, many years ago, as we sat in the backyard of her house in the village, hearing another cuckoo sing a similar song. It symbolizes the incoming of something new in life, she had said. I smile at the hopeful thought of something new coming in life after 6 months of being homebound due to the pandemic. A slightly warm and wet wind blows and the Coconut tree leaves sway with it.
I go back to my desk and press the Enter key on my keyboard to wake my laptop from its short nap. It feels like a great day to write about all of it. A breezy afternoon, some old songs I’ve been playing on the Amazon Alexa and the melodious koohooo of the Cuckoo is a perfect setting for a writer to break out of the block. I get back to my desk.
I hear the ring of a bicycle. I peep out of the window to see who has arrived with what to sell. A bunch of potted plants are tied up on the carrier of the bicycle, a timid guy stands beside it. I spot a Mogra, I’ve been wanting to get it. I put on a mask, grab my wallet and keys and rush down.
The plant with five white flowers sits happily in the kitchen window beside two Aloe Vera pots. Peter is sitting on the branch of the coconut tree in front of the window. He is looking at me as I arrange the plants in a single line. A money-plant or golden pothos is planted inside a glass bottle, probably an old Rum bottle. I am not sure. Peter has now come at the window. I tell him about my new Mogra. He caws. I ask him if he is hungry again. He caws. I tell him about the bargain I made with the timid guy for the plant. He caws. I ask him if he knows where the cats have gone? He caws. I keep another slice of bread for him on the wooden plank. It is his lucky day, I am in a mood.
I go back to my desk, re-wake my sleeping laptop. The excel sheet I’ve been working on, stares at me, waiting to get done so it can go back to its home folder and sleep peacefully. What if the files and folders on the computer had feelings? I like humanising inanimate objects. I plan to write a story about it someday. My phone beeps with a reminder I’ve set to take a water-break. I walk into the kitchen again and take out the juice box, pour some in a glass and sip it while looking out of the window. A grey bob-cat is jumping from the compound wall on to the road. Some crows are chasing it, flying very close to its face. The cat, true to its attitude, walks away without looking up. I wonder what the crows were bothering it about. Suddenly, I remember I need to get some work done.
I come back to my desk. The laptop is awake. I enter a concatenate formula in a column and drag down the values. Muscle memory.
*7.30 pm* Had a stressful day today with too many things to do and very little time.
So I picked up a pen and began writing in my diary about everything on my mind. That’s when I thought of going back and reading about some Septembers from the past. I wondered what I was doing 1 year, 2-years or 3-years ago. Turns out, there’s nothing. Even on my blog site, barring last year’s sad update I haven’t written anything in September. I was intrigued. So I searched my Google photos to look at any pictures I might’ve taken in September, or any event I might’ve attended. Nada! I have literally no memories of September. Probably because nothing ever really happens in September. The weather isn’t hot enough to go to the beaches, nor is it cold enough to go to the hills for a trip. I think the only way to describe September is the leftover showers it brings from July and August. It is an uneventful, dull month and if it isn’t obvious already, I don’t like it very much. But here I am, breaking the no-writing spree of September and putting out something today.
I am like any average person. I complain and stress myself out for having too many things to do but I also thrive in such situations. The rush before deadlines, or the sigh of satisfaction while marking a task complete gives me a crazy high. That’s the sort of a day I’ve just had. The weekend, however, was extra-ordinarily amazing.
I went for a long drive with my friends, Sam & Apmg (or as Alexa says Apmm) in the outskirts of Pune. We walked around farms and grazing pastures trying to shoot a cool video. This is the first time the three of us created something together and the process was extremely exciting. I couldn’t believe how smoothly we all played our parts and brought our little vision of a video to life.
Despite the receding monsoon season that brings sudden rains, we were lucky to have a pleasant weather & good lighting throughout the day. The sun wasn’t too harsh and it hardly rained. It was a beautiful day to walk through Sugarcane fields and Chrysanthemums beds. We also found a random off-road secret spot. A huge rock under a tree that cast its massive branches like the tentacles of an octopus hovering above, overlooking a pond.
Enjoy a little glimpse of my weekend.
Heading out to meet those two goofs again for a little tea party. See ya next week. Ting!
*3.29 pm* a dull Wednesday afternoon, runny nose and six tasks with today’s deadline
Monsoon is my least favorite season (but also the most favorite one because nature is at its best). Every year, as soon as the wet monsoon breeze flows in, all my allergies wake up from their hibernation and enjoy full 3 months of vacation, blossoming in my nose and throat. The continuous sneezing sucks out all my energy and makes me feel tired and restless. My day is divided on the number of steams I have to take, medicines that are needed every 3 hours and of course, lots and lots of wet handkerchiefs from all the snot. Between all of this, I find little time to get some work done. In fact, I might be writing this in a dizzy state too, after a long sneeze session.
Before the onset of my sardi, I had been feeling anxious, bored and frustrated with the lockdown. It was like life had become stagnant and the constant pressure to do something creative or productive all the time was maddening.
I vented about this to my dear friend Sam and she introduced me to Kensho Factor. A kind little initiative by two lovely girls Shivangi and Dinima who, surprisingly, have never met. They started a week-long online workshop where you just join a Zoom call or a Google meet for one hour every evening to talk about your feelings or not, no pressure. You get to listen and learn some easy and effective tools to process your thoughts. Some of the things you might already know, but these fine people do a great job of reminding you what you’ve been forgetting.
Both Shivangi and Dinima walk you through simple techniques of how you can convert your negatives “I don’t want to be sad; I don’t want to be scared; I don’t want to feel like shit” into positives “I want to feel happy; I want to be fearless; I want to feel amazing about myself” & eventually into “I am happy; I am fearless; I am amazing”. You see how the narrative changed? How you think and what you put out in the universe is what you get back. One of my favorite quotes “You reap what you sow” thus, stands true. If you can train your mind to think and react with positive words and positive emotions, a lot can change, speaking from experience. This was one of the many things I learnt during the workshop. There was also an insightful session on Self Love and how it is far from self obsession or selfishness. I think it is an important difference each of us needs to understand.
I made some new friends, started writing a gratitude journal, learnt that forgiveness is more about me than about the person I’m forgiving and reconnected with my 5-year self, all within a week. Every evening was an emotional roller-coaster but I ended up feeling lighter and happier with each passing day.
Apart from the workshop, I invested a bit in art therapy. I used to love drawing, coloring and painting when I was in school but had lost touch. I decided to rework on my skills so I bought a coloring book and some color pens from Amazon. The joy and satisfaction of filling the design blocks in this book with bright colors has been the most calming exercise for me. It has become my fortnitely ritual – on nights when I am too bored to read or watch Netflix, I grab my new color pens by Faber Castle and start coloring.
Since I am writing about my week of healing, how can I forget my good old friends – books!
After a whole week of healing, I won’t say that I am 100% alright. Healing is a process. It requires you to realise a negative thought and correct it. Best way to do that is to use some mood-shifters like coloring or playing with your pet, talking to a friend or any other small activity that helps you feel better. It is a process that takes continuous, conscious work. I’m glad I have started it. Hopefully, you will too.
Last Sunday, I stepped out of my house after two months. My parents and I planned to visit some old family friends who had lost a loved one recently. Unexpectedly, it turned out to be a much-needed getaway after months of digital screen time. So, post a light lunch, we wore our masks, sanitized our hands and got in the car. Our destination was Kadus – a village where both Mom and Dad were born and raised.
We drove on a fairly empty highway that had luscious green carpets on either side of the road. The sky was filled with various patterns of clouds and the sun rays peeked from the crevices. Every year I make it a point to go on at least one road trip in the monsoon season. It couldn’t happen this year, but this unplanned visit to my village was close enough to be considered my annual monsoon getaway.
Once we reached the village and met with the family we were visiting, Dad and I took off to pay respects to the local deity that he has been worshiping since his childhood. At the temple, he surprisingly met two of his school teachers. He had last seen them in 1980; he was overjoyed. They were equally delighted to see him as he was. As he spoke to his teachers, I saw my father become a 15-year old school boy again. He stood before them with a smile that stretched ear to ear, his hands automatically folded behind the back as he addressed them ‘Sir’. In that fleeting moment, Dad had transported back to his childhood and it opened the floodgates to nostalgia. For the next two hours, I just listened as he shared countless anecdotes from his younger days with a childlike glee on his face.
Later, we went to the dam and walked on the wall that stood between the clean blue water on one side and the vast green fields on the other. It was a beautiful view made even better with Dad’s stories. He told me how he and his friends would drop their school bags in the classroom and run to their farm, roam around bare feet in the sun or take a nap under the trees. He told me how they would climb atop the hill, face the strong gusts of wind and have the best time of their lives. He also told me how they would camp near the dam, cook their own dinner and even try some beer. I couldn’t stop wondering how fun Dad’s childhood must’ve been, and how much he had changed on the outside now. I could sense that he wanted to be a mischievous little village boy, run atop the hill and face the winds once again.
Dad has always been a good storyteller. He always has the most detailed descriptions of his adventures. I also know that he used to write a diary in his younger days and that makes me wonder if I got the story-telling gene from him. After our fun day-out, I urged him to take up writing again. I asked him to pen down one page, a single memory of whatever he remembers, every day. He seemed quite interested in the idea, I hope he does it. What a fascinating memoir it would make!
Our last stop was my mother’s childhood home which is currently under reconstruction. We are hoping it will be ready soon so we could visit our quiet little village more often. Until then, here are some pictures from the unplanned Sunday visit to my village.
The lockdown was a much-needed relief when it first began but its unprecedented extension has been nerve-wracking. Anxiety, frustration and hopelessness have come as a package!
I took the last 6-7 weeks to argue, sob and sulk in order to cope up with the helplessness I was feeling. While my parents resumed their work from office, I felt like a lonely, left-behind, good for nothing loser, trying to work from home. I didn’t want to agree when my Dad said “we have to live with Corona”. I wasn’t ready to accept “this is the new Normal”. The situation is out of our hands, and with an increasing number of cases, it still doesn’t feel hopeful. So what changed? What made me get back and write this blog?
Nothing deep. It was boredom. You see, I was bored of feeling sorry for myself. I was bored of crying to bed every night, bored of arguments with my loved ones and bored of self-pity. One random night, as I was watching Conspiracy on Netflix I had an epiphany. I realized that if I just change the way I look at things, I can be unbored. I decided not to wait for the situation to get better but to take control of it and do something meaningful in the present.
I took up reading again, starting with ‘The Undomestic Goddess’ by Sophie Kinsella – a simple, light-hearted fiction to indulge in, on a lazy Sunday. It was followed by some insightful reads like Rana Ayub’s Gujarat Files – Anatomy of a Cover Up & Shashi Tharoor’s Why I am A Hindu – the later one had been on my bucket list for a long time and it didn’t disappoint. It answered a ton of questions I had about my identity as a Hindu in the current political climate. It talked about Hinduism’s beliefs that are rooted in history, its various interpretations and how they have shaped our present. It provides details on the culture, the heritage and more importantly clears the bias of ‘Why am I a Hindu?’ and provides an affirmation on ‘Why I am a Hindu?’
Ayub’s book was a revelation. Her eight month long undercover operation during Gujarat riots brought too many hidden and hushed stories to light. I would recommend every Indian to read this one and with an unbiased mind to understand, possibly realign their political affiliations. A shocking, stunning read!
Currently, I’ve been reading ‘Jasmine Days’ by Benyamin – a fictional story about South East Asians settled in a Middle Eastern city and how their life changes after a revolution. I have been enjoying it so far, can’t say more until I finish.
Apart from reading, I have been spending my free time in upgrading my knowledge and skills on Linkedin Learning. I had first installed the app in December last year but never got the time to enroll for a course. Four weeks ago, I finally opened this dormant app on my phone and completed a quick course on writing. I am on my second one now and it has been fun so far as it hardly takes 3 to 5 minutes per video.
Back in May, I had attended an informative online session by Satyanshu Singh of the Cinemese Twins on how to write the Beginning, Middle and End of a story. It had helped me gain much-needed guidance on some critical aspects of story/script writing. In continuation of that, I signed up for a month-long course on Coursera – ‘The Craft of Plot’ by Brando Skyhorse. I’ve written three assignments that have garnered pretty good reviews from my peers and I’m looking forward to complete the fourth assignment this weekend, and eventually reaching to the Capstone!
I have become better at organizing my thoughts on paper. I have learnt about some basic dos and don’ts, learnt about the technical details of a script, got some handy tips and pointers on how to write a character, a scene and a setting. I am now in the process of working on a story that I had started last year, and I hope I don’t give up this time. I want to see this story written, it is a special one.
The lock down also gave me an opportunity to reconnect with my parents. We celebrated 28 years of their marriage last month. On some days we watched movies together, ordered in meals from our favorite restaurants, and saw many breathtaking sunsets from our balcony. But watching our little home garden bloom to life has been one of the most pleasureful experiences. I’ve got some amazing photos of the dramatic evening skies and the vibrant, colorful flowers.
I am as average as a person can be, so when I write about how productive I’ve been or how I changed my perspective, let me tell you, it didn’t come easy.
Despite being surrounded by loving parents, and being connected to cousins and friends over calls or messages, I’ve struggled with feelings of loneliness, restlessness, hopelessness and anger (so much anger!). Add to it the monthly turmoil of hormonal mood swings and you have a complete recipe of a mess. It has taken a lot of effort for me to get up and redirect my energy towards better things. Every day is a small step and I am working through it, hoping for a better tomorrow.
What do I write about Covid-19 & the lock-down that hasn’t already been written? It is scary, governments suck, the World is shut, nature is breathing, the ozone is healing, work from home is draining, sleep cycles are messed up, mental health issues are rising, there’s no motivation, economy is bad, pay-cuts & unemployment. Hmph! A lot, lot has happened. The year started off on a rather boring note for me too, personally. At the risk of sounding self-centered (but also wanting to write something different) I am going to make this blog all about MY lock-down experience.
I believe that the first day of anything – say a new job, a new year, or your mood in the first few moments of your day lays out a premise of how the rest of it is going to pan out. Especially, in my case, the 1st of January decides how my year is going to be. It is also my birthday so I just give it too much importance.
This year, unlike any other ones before, I was not very keen on celebrating either the birthday or the New Year. I hesitantly cut a cake at midnight in the presence of some family friends and slept off with a sad & disappointed feeling (I don’t remember why) only to wake up to attend a family function. I did sneak out for a drink with my friends later, but ended up having a blue non-alcoholic drink because I was too dumb to realise that it didn’t have alcohol until it was almost over. I should have foreseen this whole mess of a year right then.
The first lockdown, which back then we all thought was going to be the only lockdown, was announced in mid-March. 21 days of not stepping out seemed like the most horrifying thing at the moment. It was announced without any warning & that left me no time to run home to my parents’ place. I decided to stay put but it was really difficult to work from home considering I had bad internet. So, after much deliberation, I decided to move where my flatmate was temporarily staying and work with stable Wi-Fi.
We tried to make it work for 15 days, but the news that the lock-down might be extended further started bothering me. I started slacking off at work and losing sleep. I moved back to my apartment (which is just 2 kms away so I didn’t break any rule, okay? :P). Staying alone worked better for me.
The change of surrounding marked phase 2 of the lock-down for me. Of course, the overall situation was sad & the internet was bad but it seemed manageable. I started cooking for myself, did my dishes, washed my clothes and even managed a 7 to 8-hour work day. I read books, watched movies and to my Dad’s surprise, I even started working out (he claims that I am the most anti-exercise person he has ever seen). With all the time in my hand, I even started playing mobile games – a PUBG hater turned into an addict. I didn’t have any time to feel bad/ sad about the pandemic or lonely. I was in-fact enjoying this lifestyle of doing things as I pleased. For the first time ever, I enjoyed living by myself without getting bored. I reveled in my own company. I started eating healthy, took a lot of tiny breaks for fruits & juices, made cold coffee, buttermilk & what not. I felt content to have become so independent. I would send all photos of the meals I cooked to my parents and they would be super proud. Guess I was learning how to adult pretty well!?
This routine lasted for approx. 40 days then phase 3 of my lock-down began. I found out that an old friend from school was arranging travel for people who were stranded in cities away from their families. Well, I wouldn’t call myself stranded, but it was the longest I had gone without seeing Mom and Dad. They had been missing me too & had tried to come get me, but the curfew was strict & their plans had turned blue. So I decided to surprise them. I got a travel pass and with the help of a friend who arranged a car, I arrived on a Tuesday afternoon to a shocked, astonished and overjoyed Dad. His reaction video is gold. Mom was at work, so we video called her and for the longest time she wasn’t ready to believe that I had really come home. She thought Dad and I were fooling her with some app or a pre-recorded video. I don’t even know how that is possible. Her imagination is beyond me. Haha!
So, being home has been extremely relaxing. For the first two nights, I slept for 11 hours straight, plus afternoon naps. Although I had enjoyed cooking my own meals, devouring mom-made food is special and comforting. My self-sufficient routine has nicely gone for a toss. I have started waking up late, hogging on a lot of food (including the delicious aamras) and cuddling with my pet cat Mau every chance I get. But thanks to my fitness-freak, workaholic parents (who have been working 10 hours or more every day, and exercising regularly) I have stayed motivated to work and work out.
Being home is great and all but I also miss my time living alone and I am certain that when I get back to Mumbai and resume my daily routine, I am going to miss being home with my family too. I mean, I can’t wait for everything to fall back to normal and return to my apartment, but I don’t want to leave here either. Kinda complicated and confused, so imma just leave it at that.
I have never been too keen on celebrating Special Days on Social Media. The out pour of love for families and friends seen on Instagram & Facebook often feels fake and misplaced. But so does writing a blog about it. So who am I to judge? Here it goes..
My purpose of writing this today is more personal. After having a heavy lunch that Mom and I prepared together, we were lying on the bed, about to doze off in our afternoon nap. She was scrolling on her phone and I was watching a movie. While going through social media posts flooded with Mother’s Day wishes, my Mom read out a small poem to me. I didn’t pay much attention, obviously I was more interested in the movie. Then she said “It is so nice to have a mother, no?” and in that moment, I didn’t see my mother who I needed to thank or express love for on Mother’s day, but I saw a little girl, a daughter just like me who missed her late mother.
So I decided to ditch the nap & go back to old photo albums to help her reminisce all the good times. We went over photos from Mom’s college days, her wedding, my birth and so on.. and I kept looking for aaji (grandmother) in all those events. We even laughed over some weird photographs captured and on everyone’s dressing sense in the olden days. It was a happy afternoon.
Unfortunately, I knew my grandmother only for 13 years, but I’ve heard praises about her from everyone who had known her. She was full of love they tell me. She would never let anyone leave her house empty stomach. I remember what a great cook she was, her ‘suralichi vadi’ & ‘chirothe’ are still missed by all my relatives.
Mother tells me that their relationship much like ours was a bittersweet one. They often quarreled over their difference of opinions but today, she would give anything to have her back in her life. Unfortunately, we only have her photos & memories to hold on to and I guess that is enough for us to have a Happy Mother’s Day.
I rented and moved in to a new apartment a week ago. Its been a smooth transition. Also, I might be understating how frickin’ excited I am about living here. Haha! I am over the moon. I love my new house. Have been browsing Pinterest for a over month to decide the decor. Best part of the house – there is a full kitchen – have taken up the ladle and started making my own dinner everyday. I have failed, won’t deny but I am finally doing it.
After I moved in & began organising stuff, I realized that I am more similar to my parents than I thought. Just like them, I am an obsessive cleaner and organiser. I don’t stop unless the surface I’m cleaning is utterly spotless. I usually wouldn’t give this a second thought but today, I was at work and all I kept thinking about was some unorganised & unclean things at home like that jar of water sitting in the sink and not on its usual spot or the gas pipe with a thin layer of dirt that requires a quick dusting. Yes, I am obsessed with wanting things to be clean, neat and organized (and proud of it!). I thought of reading up about a possible deep psychological reason behind it, turns out there is.
A certain 2015 CNN report by Allyssia Alleyne suggests that organization tends to create a more peaceful, serene and calm environment for many people. Those who are thought of as ‘neat freaks’ apparently find it somewhat therapeutic to organize because doing so brings a sense of peace and serenity.
I couldn’t agree more.
The opposite of organization is chaos and although ‘Chaos is a ladder’ (lol) I believe that chaos leads to non-productivity & I don’t really relate with that. I prefer knowing my surroundings all the time rather than the surroundings constantly changing on me. It is important for me to be aware and in control of things rather than letting things come as a surprise or a shock. So, if there is any kind of psychology behind being clean, neat and organized, it has to do with avoiding the chaos to gain peaceful serenity. Well, I can live with that.
Happy to have learnt something new about myself today. Should do it more often.
Do you like cleaning and organizing too? Or know any fun trivia about psychology behind the need to be organized? Let me know in the comments.
P.S. Back at my blog after 12-weeks. I don’t know why I had stopped writing. I was just going through a writer’s block maybe. Today I just felt like typing away some thoughts so here we are.
*12.43 pm* I love Decembers. The cold winds, cozy sleep under the blanket, the warmth of hoodies, holidays and the party mood, hot chocolate at any time of the day and conclusions. December has it all.
For the last two weeks I was occupied with a lot of work. On the first weekend of December, I attended the Comic Con event in Mumbai where the company I work for also had a fun stall selling Superhero merch.
Next week, it was the usual 10-7 routine, but then on Friday night I attended my office’s annual party. It was the craziest night in months! A karaoke-slash-dance party where everyone was sloshed and how. I got home late at night and just after two hours of sleep, I had to wake up and go on a road trip with my friends.
The weekend road trip was a much needed detox from the routine I’ve been stuck in. We hopped on the train from Mumbai to Mangoan, a small village near the Kokan sea shore. Next, an ST bus ride on the undone rural rode from Mangoan to Mhasala, and two tum-tums (six-seat autos) from Mhasala to Borli to Diveagar beach were as tiresome as they sound, especially after the exhausting party the night before.
Despite the long journey, the country roads and the clean, fresh air made it extremely pleasant.
Once we reached our abode, everything seemed worth it. We walked down to a little Konkani place to have the most authentic and wholesome seafood meal and then headed over to the beach to see the most beautiful sunset over the sea. The sky was painted in vivid shades of white and blue to yellow, orange and red. We were stunned, sitting on the wet sand by the sea, wondering at the spotless beauty of nature!
Post a scrumptious dinner of fried masala prawns we walked back to the beach at night and the sky surprised us even more. It was the peak night of the Geminid meteor shower and we spot a couple of shooting stars while the sea waves gushed back and forth near our feet.
It was a calm, fun and tiring weekend that charged me up for the upcoming week where I have tons of things to do before I leave for my year-end vacation to Kerala to attend the wedding of my favourite couple.
*03.18 pm* engrossed & amazed by ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari
Last week was tiresome as I had been thinking or rather overthinking about my career situation. I have been ranting about it on my blog for far too long, I know. But it is one of the most important things in life right now. I often question myself and the web – Why is it so stressful?
To seek answers, I have often found myself turning to The Book of Life and it has helped me put a lot of things in to perspective. I realized that we all, at some point, have grown up with a notion that we’re meant to do something great when we’re older, be someone notable and make a difference in the world. It is a beautiful dream to grow up with, no doubt. However, the fact is, when we are at the peak of our adult life (say ages 24 – 26) we realize that we haven’t really achieved anything noteworthy. The stream we wanted to excel in, the financial stability we thought we’d have or the cool job in another country we‘d be working, is all a distant dream. We are, in reality, working a 9 hour job near our house, have messed up sleep patterns due to an addiction to OTTs and no time or will to enjoy the earnings.
There is little that meets our expectations. While this isn’t true for every one & some people do achieve what they wanted, or even more than what they expected, most of us are just settling down in our schedules and being unhappy over the fact that we’re, after all, just average.
I really miss the time I was carefree. Back in school & college, I’d happily spend my days travelling, partying and living in the moment with a hopeful dream that one day I’ll grow up and be amazing. I am an adult now & nothing is as I thought it would be. There’s hardly any amazing. So naturally, self doubt, sadness, disappointment show up & the myth I grew up believing in, is still a myth.
It takes time (more for some than others) to accept that we are average, just like our parents, just like most folks all around us & it is okay. It is okay to be an average person and still strive to do better. This does not mean you settle or stop having hopes & dreams for your future. It absolutely doesn’t mean that you stop working for things you wanted when you grew up. It only means that you accept your present reality & work towards making it better, one day at a time. Accepting it will ensure that the way ahead is a happy ride, no matter how mediocre it is.
Also, I know I am pretty late to the party but Sapiens is such a wonderful book. If you haven’t already read it, please do. Highly recommend it. Being a Geology student, I am aware of theories of evolution of Earth & how different elements of physics, chemistry and biology got us to where we are today. But Mr Yuval Noah Harari has weaved all the theories so well together & in such a simple manner that even a layman can understand it.
I’m fascinated by reading about our ancestry & to imagine an alternate reality that could have existed, makes me wonder at the vastness & the hollowness of the universe & our existence. Blown away!
*4.50 pm* Maine tere liye hi saat rang ke sapne chune… sapne, surile sapne…
My office is in a campus full of warehouses & workshops. It doesn’t feel like 2019 when you walk-in here.
It transports me to a quiet afternoon on a work day from late 90s when I would miss school for being sick & Dad would take me to his office in MIDC. I remember it being a sunny, breezy day with the sun and the leaves making shadow patterns on the empty road. Machines rambling in the background, sparks flying from a nearby welding work and the smell of molten metal. Smell. Oh! such a strong trigger to evoke memories.
I stepped outside my office today to take a break and I heard a soft tune of an old hindi song coming from the next-door workshop. Two men were welding some metal and that smell arose nostalgia. I stood there, leaning on a bike, sipping coffee as a whiff of wind blew all over. In that moment I wished I was a little kid again, accompanying Dad to work.
Last week, I had decided to take things slow and not work myself up. Progress so far? Zilch. I read half a book out of two, I did not go mid-night cycling and I am waiting for my salary to be credited so I can sign up for the dance workshop. I didn’t even take that random leave from work to do nothing. Work, in fact, has doubled up, you see. But that’s cool. Nothing is supposed to go as per the plan. It is a continuous process & I’ll keep trying. Plus, things might get better this week with some ₹ coming in.
That’s all for my random mid-week update, guys. Have a happy week!!!
*5.07 pm* Back to work after a long and happy Diwali weekend.
Breaks are so damn necessary. I recently came across a video explaining how we tend to over work in order to achieve our goals & forget to pause & breathe. It made me realise that I often beat myself up over not doing enough & it ends up taking a huge toll on my health, both physical and mental. Of course, the highly competitive world we live in & the fear of lagging behind is the root cause of it. But it is also a choice that we consciously, repeatedly make.
No matter what field you are in, the stress and hustle is the same. We’re surrounded by technology that is moving faster than ever. It feels like life is just passing by and you are not doing enough to get on board the train. So you run too, to get there & you can’t stop, not now, not when everyone is running. You are simply going to miss out or worse, lose. It is maddening. A vicious cycle!
My parents tell me I am “over-ambitious” & I need to look after my health once in a while. And I agree. I am quite hard on myself when it comes to my career. But the need to be independent, to have a career of my choice and do equally (if not more) than what everyone around me is doing, is difficult to control. However, it ends up blurring the line between working to live & living to work. Read that again!
I had this moment of self-reflection a couple of days ago and the Diwali break couldn’t have come at a better time.
Spending time with my family last weekend made me realize that I needed to slow down. The stress of not doing enough was making me highly unhappy and I had become an emotional wreck. It was affecting all my relationships. I was angry all the time, had unreasonable mood swings, arguments & a whole lot of negativity leading to a continuous gloomy and dull mood.
During the 4-day Diwali break I completely forgot about work, about deadlines & what should be the next career move. I spent one whole day shopping, went for a day trip with some cousins on another and spent a spiritual evening praying with Mom – Dad on the evening of Diwali puja. I felt so peaceful & content after months.
I told myself that if I take out some time from my day to do what I love, or do nothing at all, I will not be missing out on anything. I will not lose. I might get there later than everyone else, but I will be happy when I do. I needed to de-stress & do it immediately.
So, I have a beautiful week planned ahead for myself. I will be reading two new books that I recently bought, go midnight cycling on the weekend and maybe even attend a dance workshop. Or you know what, I might just take a day-off & stay at home doing nothing, taking a breather.
It feels so good just writing about it. Can’t wait to update you all on how it goes.
I remember when I started this blog two and a half years back, I was unsure if I would be able to continue it. In fact, I was unsure of what to do in life itself. While the later one hasn’t changed, I still took the plunge. I lived life as it came and have continued writing. I mean, I am here writing this one, so yay me! But I did give up on it a lot of times, took breaks, some longer than others but I always came back and that’s what today’s post is about – sticking to what you love!
Writing has helped me get through a lot of tough times. Writing has continued to be my escape and my personal guide to life. By writing down what I feel, I have helped myself in more ways than anyone else ever has. So yay! Kudos to me!
Someone recently described my posts as ‘dreamy’. And I won’t deny it. I did write about all the fun, dreamy stuff when I first moved out of my parents’. I was a new girl in the city of dreams, alone and independent, making new friends and exploring the by-lanes of Mumbai. My own words let helped me believe that I was okay and see the silver lining in every situation.
I am glad that I stuck to it & recorded the journey. Gives me so much to reflect upon and be a better person everyday. Frankly, I am impressed at myself.
Nikita from 2017 who called her first blog ‘A work in progress’ would be so proud today.
Anyway, like I said, writing is therapeutic for me but sometimes, I miss the appointment. Some situations and thoughts make it quite overwhelming & impossible to write. Then there is the big p-word Procrastination. So hard to kick that one!
That brings to the most interesting part of this blog. I got the opportunity to meet an amazing, inspiring, legendary writer named Kamna Chandra last week at the India Film Project fest. It was the ninth season of this content festival, and it was hosted at the Mehboob Studio in Bandra. For me, it was a first. I witnessed a gathering of so many creative people, sharing their thoughts, ideas, networking, listening to the ones who had made it big, and getting inspired. It was an encouraging environment and refreshing to see the amount of creative energy floating across.
Kamna Chandra was the guest of a session I attended. If you’re not aware, she is the legendary writer of Hindi films like Prem Rog (1982), Chandni (1989), 1942 A Love Story (1994) and the recent (at the age of 70+) Qarib Qarib Single (2017) to name a few. At this event, she spoke about her experience, told us how she pitched her story to the infamous Raj Kapoor, how it got made into the super-hit film Prem Rog, what drove her to writing for the radio before all of it and how, years later she inculcated those values in her kids, all three of whom are creative geniuses in their own way. Take Anupama Chopra for example, who is a well known film critic in the Indian film industry, or Tanuja Chandra, creator of many powerful, off-beat films and not to miss, her son, Vikram Chandra the author of many wonderful books including Sacred Games. Both her daughters had accompanied her at this event and it was a treat to listen to these three ladies talk about their respective writing careers. Their happiness was infectious. I remember being totally star struck and grinning the whole time.
While the entire session was beautiful, what stuck with me was one thing that Kamna ma’am said at the end of the session. It felt as if all the questions I have had about life, my purpose, career, writing, and how it all fits into the confusion were answered by this one line. It almost brought me to tears. It wasn’t something I didn’t already know, but I guess I just needed to hear it. Also, coming from someone of her stature brought a lot of credibility to it. It was a sign.
She said “If you like writing, just keep writing. Don’t ever give up, don’t quit. Hope is the strongest thing in the world. No matter what you write, believe that it is going to be picked up someday. Nothing you write goes to waste, somewhere someone will read your thoughts and it will make them feel good. That’s when you’ve done your job, even if you know it or not. Don’t wait for it to become anything huge. Just keep writing and creating as long as you can.”
*1.50 pm* Squeezing in some time while having lunch at my desk to write this one.
Yesterday, I read an extremely insightful blog by Laura Barakeris on Brevity about writing and solitude. I realized how I always complain about not getting enough time to write given my busy schedule but, to quote Laura “if I look closely, I do have time, but I hesitate, and then weeks go by and I haven’t written.” Exactly my situation these days.
Like most professionals, my days are all about replying to emails, communicating, coordinating, meetings or checking my to-do list. In the free time I have, I am (quite obviously) mindlessly scrolling on social media or watching a new web series. So, it IS hard to find a spot of solitude, turn inwards and write down my thoughts. It requires discipline. A film writer I recently met told me how the real struggle is to get the story-lines from here (pointing at his head) to here (pointing at the paper in his hand). It is true!
“Solitude for the writer is hard and glorious and essential. It’s like a good marriage: The more you commit to it, never giving up no matter how difficult things get, the more grace and mystery is revealed to you,” said Ann Tashi Slater, in her HuffPost article, “Writing and Solitude.”
Like Laura says, this “grace & mystery” is about having a space to think, a stillness and quiet where nothing is fighting for your attention. Neither the notifications buzzing on your mobile nor the background noise of the TV. “It is the ability to hear the stories in your mind and to listen to what your imagination is telling you. A break from the chaos.”
I have often found my breaks of solitude at night, when the world around me falls asleep. It has inspired many stories out of me. But lately, I haven’t been able to discipline my mind and body to make that time and find inner solitude. I haven’t been able to write solutions to all the incomplete story-lines that keep running through my mind. There’s a lot of pressure with respect to work, living alone, managing groceries, bills and what not.
However, Joe Fassler in “What Great Artists Need: Solitude,” published in The Atlantic attacks this exact problem. He says, “Artistic solitude is a decision to turn and face these feelings, to sit with them for long periods of time.”
So I’ve decided to make time. When I think about it, I do have empty Sundays twice a month where I can make time to write for a few hours or even a couple of hours before going to bed every day.
I need to cultivate the discipline.
Or maybe, just like Laura, I need a 24-hour solo trip in the woods.
*3.01 pm* Celebrating Independence Day with some rescued cats at the Cat Cafe Studioas ‘Willow’ sits on my laptop and demands cuddles.
I have been extremely busy at work but last weekend was fun. I hung out with a lot of friends, had a sleep-out in my car after watching Scary Stories by Guillermo del Toro with Apoorva and also had a farewell lunch for my cousin, Sanika, who is moving to the US for her higher studies. I have also been working on a script but with so much going on at work I haven’t been able to give it time. Hence, escaped today to my favorite cafe to sit among the cats and write for hours! Mid-week day-off plans looking good so far.
*6.28 pm* sneaking in a few minutes to write about an average week.
Last few weeks have been about working 9 hours a day, sleeping for 9 hours at night, only to wake up and head back to work again. Cyclic. Plus, coffee consumption has increased a lot. Its been really bland past few days. Oddly, I am liking it.
On the previous weekend, my parents finally came to visit me (after more than a year of my moving out) at my Mumbai apartment. It was their 27th marriage anniversary so I took them to a nice diner, spent some time on the beach and then headed on to meet some relatives before they went back. It was a fun little weekend before I got back to the work-sleep cycle.
Last weekend, I went back home and spent three whole days cuddling and playing with my mau (my cat). She’s the most adorable thing ever.
I also attended a family function where I met my cousins and relatives after months. I laughed till my cheeks hurt. Embarrassed myself with my cousins by publicly dancing to an old Hindi song. It was one of the happiest evenings after months.
Nothing more to talk about today other than how I am working my a$$ off everyday and crash in bed as soon as am home. It is exhausting but also extremely satisfying when I tick that “mark complete” button on my tasks for the day. I sleep peacefully after a productive day and that’s all that matters currently.
Next weekend, I might go for a picnic with some friends so that’s something to look forward to. That’s it for today. Ti-Ding!
*11.30* in the middle of an extremely busy and productive work week.
Jack of all trades, master of none.
This proverb has never made sense to me. I have always found it boring to be a master of one when you can be a jack of all. I have been a jack of all trades since school. I used to participate in everything from dance and drama to yoga, from Olympiad and scholarship tests to rifle shooting and lathi fights – you could find me in every team, every group. And of course, Samadnya – my soul sister. We’d be together in anything, EVERYTHING and win. Most of it was to avoid sitting for lectures, but guess what? We would still be teacher’s pets (Samadnya being the Principal’s daughter was not the reason, or so I want to believe).
I loved being part of the competition. I loved the preparation, the hustle and the effort, especially when we’d perform and give it everything we had. I don’t want to boast (or maybe I do, for a bit) but I was also the Best Student of my class for two or three years and the head of my scout-guide group (not a big deal that one, but since I’m mentioning everything..) and then there were couple of times when I topped the class in the end semester exams. My school days were the best, I was an all-rounder who loved herself, and always wanted to do everything.
I loved to do all my homework in time, so much that my parents would force me to stop studying. But I would also play for hours without a care. Life was simple, I was carefree and happy. Eventually, school days were over and I moved on to college, one after the other, and then into the professional world. All this while, I had left behind the little girl in me who’d always be happy and cheerful. The girl who would enjoy studying the American and Russian Revolution or solve Algebra and Geometry for hours, who would play kho-kho with such conviction as if it was the Olympics, who would go train as a commando, or go camping at a remote village for months, who would swim in a pond with frogs, play King Lear’s daughter in the Drama competition and also win every dance contest in town.
I lost her. And damn! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I missed her. It only took a couple of people over a few years to pull me down on my self-esteem bar. I felt unambitious, inferior and self-conscious of who I was and where I came from for the longest time. I had loved every bit of my childhood and yet, I had grown up to hate it for most part of my teenage- why? Well, for one, I didn’t feel confident in the new world outside of school and second was influence. Influence works wonders if you’re an unsure teenager exploring newer things. But that’s a topic for another blog. However, it took a long time for me to accept myself and fall in love with me, again. It took a lot of self-convincing and assurance that the place I came from was beautiful with the most loving, and genuine people. It took a lot of effort to go back to my childhood and cherish those memories instead of looking down upon them as something to be ashamed of.
I’m writing about all of this today because I had a fulfilling day at work. I felt like the child in me was back – a child who would be excited to go for one dance practise after another and participate in literally, everything. Today, I reconnected with what I have always been on the inside – a jack of all trades, an aspiring master of all and proud. So I am just going to make this blog about telling myself “I missed you. Welcome back. The world is ready for us to conquer.”
Last week I bought my domain (finally!), now I just have to figure out the hosting, transfer, etc. Basically, the tech stuff which I’m clueless about and don’t want to end up spending more than I should. So here’s a public announcement – Developers Wanted(preferable if genuinely smart, thanx)
After spending an hour at the Cat Cafe Studio last Wednesday, I missed my mau way too much and decided to go home to see her. The moment I reached home, I smothered her with my hugs and kisses. Surprisingly, she didn’t even resist like she usually does with her scratching and biting. In fact she just stood still and let me cuddle her for five whole minutes, then she just jumped off of me. Mau will be three soon and she has grown into an even more adorable and beautiful cat. Urgh! I hate to live without her in Mumbai.
Next morning, Sanika (my bitchy, favourite little cousin) and I had the laziest day. We had a late breakfast (why don’t we just get fancy and call it a brunch?) and had long pending gossip session. I think I have never truly appreciated Sanika’s existence in my life. She is the closest thing I have to a sister and a childhood best friend. We know every embarrassing secret of each other. Despite that, she always turns to me for fashion advice (yes, me) and for dating advice (unhuh!) and many other things. We share a beautiful bond and I wonder what I’m going to do without having her to meet with every two or three months, as she heads to the US for her masters. I don’t want her to see me get all emotional, and because she rarely (or never) reads my blog, let me put it out here. I am going to miss you, Sanika. I hate that you’re going so far. I will always wait for your text from the trial room about the dress you’re trying on or how the guy you went on a date with, was.
Aarhh! Goodbyes are so hard. Two of my close friends, Rishabh and Apoorva are also about to leave for Europe for their respective courses, and I’m going to cry! WHY IS EVERYONE LEAVING?
Moving on (and also dramatically wiping my tears), let me tell you about my weekend. Saturday night I attended the wedding reception of one of my friends. On Sunday, I had a really lavish lunch with mom-dad and I could see the pride in their eyes and smiles when I paid for it. I am amazed at how these small moments have the power to give the most important, valuable bits of happiness.
Sunday ended with a late night coffee while catching up on a lot of chatter with a friend.
I got back to work on Monday and got done with many tasks. I felt super puffed and productive. Yet, I have a constant urge, a restlessness that is making me want to get out of here, out of the 10 to 7 corporate life where I’m facing the laptop screen the whole day. I mean, the work place, my new colleagues, everything is great. Even the boss is pretty chill. I am managing it all but I seem to have forgotten the main reason I moved out to this city; to do what I love and that is, write stories! After almost a year of adjusting in a corporate job, and now joining another one, I feel I have lost my main purpose, the main reason of changing cities. I desperately want to work in a creative role and not handle corporate communications, write technical content and feel creatively unsatisfied at the end of the day. I want it so badly that even writing this pointless blabber feels more satisfying than the whole day’s work on excel sheets. Why do I even do that, honestly? I need to work on all of this asap! I just don’t know how, yet.
Anyway, have to meet some friends from my ex-office in an hour and it is about to rain heavily, so rushing out Bye!
*5.43 pm* Truly delighted and proud of my cooking skills. Its hereditary, guys – I make awesome food.
It is quite difficult to write after a gap (of even 15 days). It is difficult to remember all the events that could be worth mentioning in my blog. My mind categorically forgets the occurrence and the sequence of everything I’ve done when I actually sit down to write about it. This needed to be fixed so I started maintaining a diary (back at it after 7 years) and every night, a new page (or four) were scribbled on. I wrote about my day, my raw and unfiltered thoughts, about anything new I must’ve learnt, my experiences and feelings about certain incidents etc. and it helped me gather a lot of unexplained emotion in one place rather than spilling it all out on this blog. I mean, it is fair to put it out here but now that I don’t write anonymously I’ve noticed that people judge me from what I write. So, I am just going to keep it clean.
The last fifteen days went from a fun weekend with my old friends, to being sick due to fever, cough and cold; from an overnight train journey to Kerala to attend a cousin’s engagement to coming back to work next day with deadlines looming over the head. A lot happened but thanks to my diary, I have a record of all of it and nothing will be missed. So, here it goes.
The weekend after my last blog post, my friend Apoorva (but let’s call her Ghar) came over and we met with the others- Adil, Grams and Aditya and went out for a game of pool. We also went tothe famous Prithvi cafe for dinner and spent an hour at the beach in Versova. This was perhaps the most relaxing weekend I had had in a long time. We talked and laughed endlessly about everything and anything. In fact, the fully packed Prithvi cafe went empty with chairs planked up on tables and lights shut by the time we got up to leave. That’s the thing with old friends, I guess. You could be covered in five blankets at minus thirteen degrees and they’ll just be there- talking and laughing with you, sharing a warmth that will be enough to keep you going (ngl, that really happened). No matter what place you’re at, and no matter how late it is, they will always have a way to make you feel at home. I’m so glad for old friends and laughter.
The following week, I missed work for a few days because of my cold and cough which shot up to an uncontrollable level- so much that Mom had to courier me the medicines asap. It got better eventually and I was ready to hop on the train to Kerala two days later to attend the engagement ceremony of the cutest couple ever – Saurabh dada & Karthika.
This was my first time to Kerala. But I remember making plans to travel here in the first year of college when I had a friendwho was from Kerala. Little did I know that 7 years later, I’d actually be there – at Ernakulum – a town I had once thought I was going to be a part of (the Universe definitely has a funny way ofgranting your wishes). I celebrated the union of two beautiful people and their families. Met some of the most lovely and warm folks with whom I danced and laughed. Everyone present had wide smiles across their faces, especially the new bride. Her laughter was so infectious, it made this short trip worth everything.
I had an image in my head about Kerala- wide rivers, yards full of coconut trees, small cozy houses with an organic farm in the garden with a cowshed and a tiny dug well, roads covered in beach sand and men in their lungis and meals full of delicious mix of flavors served on a coconut leaf. Kerala was exactly that and so much more! While I didn’t get the chance to roam around much, my short cab ride to the airport with folk music playing in the car (making for a perfect background score), wide stretches of greens and a little bit of rain to add to it made for a good glimpse of what Kerala has to offer. Yet, there is so much more to it and I am looking forward to explore this God’s own country very very soon.
Next day, I got back to work and it has been going all too well- except the fact that I haven’t had much money coming in for the last two month since I was unemployed. I have exhausted my savings too (which were hardly anything anyway). I just can’t wait for my first salary from my new workplace to get credited so I can buy all the books I’ve added to my Amazon cart.
On a side note, I started this blog on WordPress in June 2017 after two failed attempts on Blogspot and Campus Diaries. I really wasn’t into it back then. But I knew I wanted to write so I created this one and today, my blog is two years and almost 50 posts old, so yay me! Here’s to writing more and loving every bit of it.
It was a hot Summer day. She had just gotten home after a nasty fight with her bench-partner at school. Her little finger was bleeding from a small cut and the black satin ribbon from her ponytail was untangled, messing up her hair. She was angry, and sweating. So she dumped her bag on the couch and walked in to the bathroom. After her bath, she went to the balcony to hang the wet towel. That’s when she saw him, sitting on the edge of the balcony of the apartment on the ground floor. He looked up, towards the third floor where she was standing. Their eyes met and in that moment, everything had changed. Both of them knew it was more than just a gaze.
Evening, she came down to play a game of hide & seek with the neighboring kids. In the middle of the game, she walked up towards the balcony of the apartment on the ground floor as he stood there, stunned by her sight. It was a long moment. They couldn’t take their eyes off of each other. The world around them froze. He could see mermaids dancing behind her and hear a piano in the background. But she walked away, smiling slyly at his confused face. This was a first for him. The attraction was real but he didn’t know what he was supposed to do. He was only seventeen, too young to understand the complexities of whatever this was.
Next morning at school, she was anxious. She couldn’t wait for the bell to ring so she could rush home and look at him from the balcony. She didn’t wait for the extra math class, even though she needed help with the subject. That day, she ran. She had finally found someone she could have. Her grandmother was going to be happy and proud of her after all.
She walked in to her house, dumped the school bag on the couch and hurried to the balcony. There, he was already waiting, looking up towards her balcony. Upon seeing her, he smiled and that took her heart. How could she do this to him, she thought, but to prove her self to her grandparents, he was supposed to take the fall. She smiled back for a moment when her grandfather called.
“Yes, Apa?” she walked inside. “What are you doing in the balcony? Go start your practice” he yelled, walking towards his bed.
That night, she told her grandmother about him. While serving the cold red pudding, Grandma smiled like she was pleased with her. She asked her if she could spare him, for his smile was the most mesmerizing one she’d ever seen. Grandmother’s eyes had grown furious but calm “you will never find anyone if you keep giving excuses, dear” she’d said, “there’s always a first, and then you qualify.”
Three days of balcony meets later, she was sure he was going to ask her to meet in person. At least that was what the scripts said. The mermaids and piano had done their job. Today, today was the d-day. “I won’t repeat my mother’s mistake” she’d always promised her grandparents, but this one time, she was hoping he wouldn’t follow her call. She wanted to keep seeing that charming smile everyday. But he sent a note through a kid, asking her to meet and she sighed. She had to do it. He had fallen into the trap after all.
A day later, he was found dead in the balcony, bleeding all over the floor, his heart missing.
“How’s the pudding, dear? Look I even made a smiley on it. Is it as nice as his?” Grandma said, her white fangs showing. She sobbed a little while gulping down the red blood pudding. It hadn’t brought her the joy she was promised. “His heart will always be with you now” Apa said while holding up the bowl with his claws, savoring the insides of the first guy she had ever killed, the guy with the most wonderful smile.
*3.20 pm* Sneaked 10 minutes off of work (from my NEW office!) after two whirlwind kind of weeks, because I had to write this. And oh! I’ve started cooking.
I was quite excited about joining my new workplace when I wrote my last blog. It has been 15 days since and I wonder where time has gone by. I have been swamped with work since day 1 here. With the price I get paid, this should be expected, right?
Over the last two weeks, I did not get enough time to write but I have had many thoughts. So let’s rewind a bit.
I attended a comedy gig of one of my favorite stand-up comedians (also my crush since three years) Rohan Joshi. My cheeks were red the entire time (I don’t remember being so starstruck, ever) and they hurt from all the laughing. It was a great evening. Next morning was my first day at the new workplace. Everyone seemed sweet (unexpected after what I’ve experienced in the last one year) and I started off with a couple of tasks. But, the workload increased drastically and it was just yesterday that I finally finished some of the tasks I had been given on day one. I am learning the ropes, so I think I’m going to like it here. Plus life is much more easier now because home to work is just a 10-minute commute. I have been getting back home before sunset and getting ample time to cook my dinner everyday. That’s growth. I not only get enough time to relax and watch a serial or movie, but I also get a more than 7 hours of sleep. This is ideal.
I also went home on the weekend and had a fun time with mau and my friends, Samadnya, Apoorva and Rishabh (Thank you for existing guys!)
It was Mother’s Day last Sunday and I didn’t wish my mom in spite of being home with her the entire day. In fact, we fought the moment I woke up because we just annoy each other beyond anything. I think my mother and I have a very passive-aggressive relationship. There’s love, lots of it but we don’t express it as much. We argue over every little thing and yet, I call her every evening to ask her how many onions to add in the curry or something. I know it is not particularly healthy for either of us to be arguing so much (trust me, Dad has completely given up trying to maintain the calm between us) but it isn’t all that bad either. I love how our relationship is, and I don’t wish to work on making it better. No matter what happens, I know I have her back and she knows she can talk to me for hours about every topic in the world (except my boyfriends, of course – she has her reasons though). As if it is an unsaid rule, or maybe she just knows me well, she didn’t care if I wished her a Happy Mother’s Day or not. She is my most important person, no matter how badly we’ve fought and she is always the first number I dial in any situation. Here’s a virtual hug to my mother, (I’m too proud to give one in real, so you know, this should work).
*1.30 pm* It’s Labor Day, so most of the working population of the country is on leave (unlike me who’s been on leave for a month now). But I start my new job tomorrow, so yay!
Last week has been pretty weird for me. I spent most of my time counselling two of my cousin sisters about dating and relationships (am I even eligible?) One has fallen (and how!) for a sort-of a brother, someone she shouldn’t (obviously!) and the other is on a crazy dating spree after her on & off serious relationship (she says she wants to get drunk and hook up! Whaat!?) I have never felt so furious (is this how elder sisters feel?) at these two. I don’t understand why both of them are so eager to get their lives ruined? I know its the “stupid teenage hormones” (I wonder what I’d do if I have a teenage kid one day) but isn’t it getting really bad? Also, who am I to judge them? I’ve done my share of stupid things in my time. So I tried to sound all cool while talking to them and made sure that they know they can come to me for anything. Doesn’t change the fact that I’m really mad at them. Teenagers are dumb and they don’t really want to listen to your advice (now I know what mom must’ve gone through during all those years!) I just hope I haven’t scared them off by sharing their secrets here publicly because I’d still want them to come to me for advice. (Secretly hoping they don’t read this)
I also watched quite a lot of movies this week- some old classics and some recent ones out of which, The Tashkent Files was a highlight. I feel guilty and ashamed about how unaware and uninterested I have been in Indian politics and its history. This movie struck the right chord.
For someone who did not cast her vote in the recent LokSabha Elections because she just didn’t have an opinion (which I know should not be an excuse), I realized what a grave mistake I had done.
This movie got me curious about a number of things so I looked up and read a lot of articles and records about political issues, had a lengthy discussion with a friend and all of it made me realize the importance of every individual’s opinion. We really are responsible in shaping our country. Being ignorant towards politics only make us unfair to our selves and our country’s growth.
I decided to be a responsible citizen and take interest in whatever goes around in our nation. Most importantly, have an opinion. I decided that from now on I will actively exercise every right I have as an Indian.
While speaking about this to Apoorva, she said something apt and I quote “being woke on individual level in enough, if everyone does it’.
That sums it up!
I couldn’t be more ashamed of not having had this clarity before- ashamed of not having cast my vote, at least for NOTA (like I had done last time). This is my awakening. I am catching up and I’m going to keep up. Better late than never, right?
I am a girl in her mid-twenties, Indian (with all due sanskars) and an only child to a financially sound couple ($$$) which most would consider a luxury- and who am I kidding, it is. I’ve never had to live in the conditions that my parents have grown up in, nor do I have to struggle to buy things I want (which are usually books, bags or shoes, just saying). I also hold a masters degree in Geology – currently useless (don’t get me wrong, I love the subject I just don’t use it anymore) but I am earning pretty well by writing stuff- so boom, there’s that! Also, both mum and dad’s families have played their part so bless the gene-pool, I have occasionally been complimented for my looks. Basically, I’m a good catch. A package, if you may.
Perfectly ready to be married off!
Like a freshly baked bread.
But I don’t understand the compulsive need of my relatives to get me married. What satisfaction are they going to get by making sure I’m settled with a Man? How will it make them happy if I get locked down and go through near-death pregnancies? (to make kids who will be equally arrogant btw, I mean look at the mother they’re getting)
They tell me that if I give it a try, I will get all I need- a guy who is respectful and kind, has a decent sense of humour, money and some average values that align with mine? A guy who can keep me happy (now define happy, will you?) and also make my parents happy. Well, I am sure such a guy exists, but as opposed to what I need, that is not what I want.
Why do all the relatives pile up their opinions about marriage when a girl is in her 20s? (Is this a mid-life crisis sort of a thing?)
They ask me for the kind of guy I’d like (as if its a dish I’ll be served). Tall, dark and handsome definitely doesn’t make the cut- they want the deets.
So now that they’ve bugged me with this, I would like to tell them that I want someone who doesn’t just send a “take care” message when I’m unwell, but gets medicines delivered to me to really make me better. I want someone who’d travel four hours just to be with me for one. Someone who’d always push me to be better in whatever I’m doing, makes realize my worth if I were to forget it on some days. Someone who can sit by me when I am crying on the bathroom floor. Someone I can pop pimples with, or stay up the entire night talking about serial killers. Someone to go around the world with, someone dad can play cricket with and mom cracks up with. Someone who would make an effort, always, because they know I do too. I desire a passionate love which is beyond the societal norms of what a marriage should be like. Get me a friend and a companion who is down to go through everything with me but also leave me be. A love that knows it has a feeble chance of survival and still wants to take that chance, every time. I desire a marriage of that sort. That’s my list. Please find a suitable groom, thank you.
P.s. This post turned out to be quite different than what I had thought it would be. I am not sure if it even makes sense. Its the hormones guys, PMS is a b*tch! G’night.
*1.50 pm* typing away some blabber whilst sitting at the dining table. Mau is not very happy about my presence, she keeps giving me cold stares.
Last night I had a conversation with a friend about how laziness attracts negativity and that inspired to finally get my ass off the bed and write. For the last 3 weeks I have been home- jobless and lazy. I go to bed at 3 am and wake up by noon and whenever I’m awake, I’m still in bed watching some movie or serial. Bottom line is I have spent the entire month doing nothing productive. Since the last one year I had been looking forward to this break but now that I have it, I hate it. I hate how non-productive and useless my days are, and that has made me really sad and frustrated. I guess I miss the daily hustle in Bombay. I miss getting up early and rushing to work, doing something productive, being tired by the end of the day and dozing off. Isn’t it strange how we miss the sun when it starts to snow, but miss the snow when it is sunny. It’s damn weird how humans function- we’re never happy or satisfied completely- we just want more or maybe we want a little of everything. Point is, I’m sad despite of wanting this month-long break so badly but things are going to change soon. I start my new job next month (yeah, that’s my big news!) so there’s that silver lining.
On the writing front, I am falling way behind. I did not start the screenplay draft that I had the planned to do this month. Nor did I read as many books as I had decided to. I have basically f*ked up this whole month by doing nothing but being mad at everyone around me for no reason at all.
I met a lot of relatives and cousins (mom just loves to host get-togethers every weekend) and attended about five funerals (yeah, death is at peak this month). I also celebrated my mother’s 47th birthday and didn’t get her any gift. I probably should have bought her the sling bag she wanted. You’re right, I should be looking it up online right now. On it!
I visited Leh-Ladakh in July 2017 – a trip that has been etched in my memory permanently for various reasons. I had planned to write this post right after the trip, and it has been two years (almost) I have procrastinated to put it down. But the memories are still so vivid that I can remember each day like it happened yesterday.
It is quite impossible to put down the Leh experience into words. The beauty and serenity of Leh just cannot be frozen into mere adjectives and photographs. The real depth and magnificence can be (and should be) experienced only with the naked eye.
I had been planning to visit this quaint little town located amidst the Himalayas for quite some time. So, when my friends and I boarded an early morning flight here, I couldn’t be more excited. It was heavenly to watch the golden rays of the rising sun bounce off of the snow-clad peaks of Himalayas.
Looking at such exquisite landscapes even before reaching Leh, was purely a divine feeling. As our flight receded down, we circled around the magnanimous Himalayas and the excitement doubled.
We landed in front of a tiny airport and were taken to Hotel Shambhala for accommodation.
We dropped our bags and couldn’t help but adore the artsy decor of our cozy wooden rooms. When we asked the significance of all the art in this place, the hotel staff informed us that it symbolized myths and stories from the Tibetan culture. The ambience of Shambhala was pure and fascinating. It was so much more than just comfortable rooms. It felt like I was at home, a home that had been waiting for our arrival.
After we freshened up, we were welcomed to the town in the true-Ladakhi style by the locals as they performed a beautiful song and dance. Not only did we enjoy their performance to the folk songs but even shook a leg with them. “Julley!” – the local word for Hello became the only way greeted each other thereon.
Then, we left for an acclimatization hike to Shanti Stupa. As the name suggests, it was an extremely peaceful place located on top of a hill and was frequented by monks for meditation. Our hike here wasn’t about meditation though. We simply wanted our bodies to get adjusted to the altitude of 11500 feet and the clean, pollution free air.
When we reached the top, it was almost sunset and in the golden hour, we saw the bird’s eye view of the entire town flushed in green, nestled in the valley created by the mighty, barren mountains.
We strolled around the Shanti Stupa for a while, inhaling the clean air and absorbing the purity. It was a peaceful day one.
Next up on our journey at Leh was Indus-Zanskar Rafting. On Day two, we left for White water rafting from Scorpoche to Nimu Sangam – a stretch of about 16 kms. Over the last few years, I have had the opportunity to do rafting on the Ganges many times. It is probably the only river in India with the highest grade of rapids. But the Zanskar has a charm of its own. Its fresh and white like ice just melted (it literally is a glacier) so we were asked to wear bodysuits and they were umm.. well, here it is..
Rafting is probably one of my favorite adventure activities. It is both thrilling and calm. I have some really special memories attached to the sport. One of them being the Zanskar experience.
Post rafting, we visited the Thicksey Monastery and saw the Future Buddha- a tall and really huge structure of the Buddha.
Next day, left for the Pangong Lake. A six-hour road trip through the gorgeous Himalayan valleys and plains was worth it all. On the way, we took a stop at the Changla Pass (altitude 17688 ft) and at Khardongla Pass (18380 ft) where we also experienced our first snow fall. Our roadtrip also included multiple dance sessions whenever we took a break. It was a crazy fun time. Beautiful beyond expression. I’m just going to let the pictures speak for themselves here on.
It was almost dinner time when we reached our campsite beside the Pnagong, we were at the highest altitude ever and freezing beside a lake. We had a little dance party at the campsite and then a chilly night followed. Next morning, when we woke up to the sight of the blue spread of water on the backdrop of dull mountains and a bright blue sky, we were spellbound. No matter how I describe this place, it will be an understatement.
(…to be continued)
photos by me and my friends Apoorva, Rishabh, Sammy