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153: The Thrill In The Uexpected

2 Jun

Ever since I got here, I’ve experienced a series of unexpected joys. As I was very matter-of-factly walking towards the bus shuttle after exiting the airport, I chanced upon the first bus in line, which was relatively empty, that I decided to get home by. On approaching the bus, there she was sitting right in the front seat in direct sight – my first ever psychology teacher from back in the day. One really finds it difficult to sum up all the feelings that bubble and gurgle within you…a fine blend of shock, excitement, confusion, joy, thrill, all woven into a fabric of beautiful memories put together. We couldn’t believe our chance meeting – on a bus out of so many buses, at an airport of all places; and after what’s soon going to be 15 years. Of course this count was meant to highlight just how long it’s been, except it also reminds me just how long ago I finished my 10th board exams. It goes without saying that we spent the rest of the bus ride seated next to each other, sharing titbits from our life and experiences, and how the journey has been so far. To say that the ride was too short would fall short of how I felt; where’s that traffic jam when you really need it?!

In-keeping with this, and as if I hadn’t walked back in time enough, I passed my school during functional school hours yesterday for the first time since I’d left it. As I drove past it, I couldn’t resist the urge to get off the car and walk right in, to just perhaps see if I could meet the teachers I’d once spent every single day of my life with. And I did. I still cannot describe the feeling; perhaps the connections run so deep that they’ve remained embedded somewhere within me in a place that’s hard to access. Time really isn’t enough when you’re walking down memory lane. Sometimes words aren’t, either.

It’s a strange feeling, this. There’s always been an indefinable friction within me to go back to where I came from. Notwithstanding the trying times that they were, and not discounting the amazing things that were also happening back then, it really isn’t a road I like to walk down. Things change, people change, everything changes. Apart from this insecurity of not being remembered or being acknowledged like you perhaps once were, it’s this strange tug of war stepping back in time versus watching your memories from the safety of disconnected distance. As I walked away from these two episodes, it only reminded me that as the years pile up, so do our own thoughts and perceptions of the whats and hows. To say I didn’t take away so much from these experiences and in turn give so much to these experiences as well, would negate the actual power of reminiscence, time, and life itself.

151: Magical May

31 May

Here’s what it’s been like in pictures. 

Hot. 

Relaxing. 

Experimental. 

Filled with debauchery. 


And just plain amazing!

150: Zero Going On 150

30 May

I remember when I hit 50 posts; it was sometime in February. It felt surreal, almost like I had achieved the impossible; so low are my expectations from myself. But to be honest, those 50 didn’t come easily – there was a heady mix of struggle, doubt, creative inertia, blankness, and a lack of inspiration that I had to tackle with on a regular basis. That apart, and because blogging somewhere also boils down to the number game no matter how much a blogger denies its importance to them, my numbers were (and still are) not up to the mark – basically my content and blogger behaviour was just not attracting the readership that I desired. (It still isn’t, but that for later). However, (and I also mentioned this somewhere), there were many a time when I needed to show myself the mirror and remind myself of the purpose of this journey and who I was really embarking on it for. Shifting perspectives did help, because here I am, low numbers and all, at 150 posts today.

There are so many takeaways that I have from this experience already. Apart from the ones I have written about here already; where I celebrated one month, introspected a little at 90 days, looked back at a 100 days, and also fell into the pit of self-doubt regarding this concept of overfeeding, today makes me feel all this and more. For example:

I am grateful for me, for the time I have taken out to invest in this, for showing up, and just motoring on irrespective of everything else that tried dissuading me from going further. During this journey, I have realised the importance of genuine and conscious self-gratitude. Somehow this has become invisible, something that was kept on the back-burner for later which was then conveniently forgotten. Being thankful to everyone, everything, and one’s own self is mandatory because we are, ultimately, a part of this scheme of things, works, and circle too. This act of a simple thank you, minus any frills or falsities has made me realise the significance of genuine, ego-less thanks and the necessity for self-love for self-growth to take place. It, I think, stemmed from one of these marriage memes I saw on FB somewhere; something on the lines of “a marriage requires filling before it can be fulfilling”, which I analogised to this for myself “you cannot give if your cup is empty.”

The other thing I have learnt is that narrowing down my focus to a day at a time really helps in the long run. It has helped me get less overwhelmed by the large and looming fear of a three-digit number when I focus on just one. I hope I can imbibe this in the rest of my endeavours too.

On looking back, the road seems seamless, faultless, and just so smooth. Of course it doesn’t take a fool to realise that this wasn’t, in fact, my reality. But what I am going to take away from this is that no journey is hard if you show up and decide to take it forward; that roadblocks were made to make you slow down either to take in the view better, or to bring you back to humility that we might have not seen flying out the window.

I have become more observant, more fluent in my channels of expression, more comfortable with the way I express myself, less perturbed by comparisons and numbers, more confident in my own capabilities, and definitely more patient with my faculties. If it wasn’t for this, I wouldn’t have come this far. Now if only I can keep this drive and focus going.

Lastly, it has made me feel more secure about myself. When I bring the mirror to me, I am reminded that this is something I am doing for my own self – irrespective of the numbers it may or may not garner as per my desires. This has reflected in the smallest of things which have brought me joy – that my readership is stronger than a promotional hit on a social media platform, that I have a dedicated bunch of faithful readers (with my mom taking the cake for this), and that I feel purposeful, almost humble as a writer/blogger for being able to achieve this. Quality over quantity, I remind myself. And that is exactly what we have given each other, dear reader. I wouldn’t have come this far if it wasn’t for this collective effort. For that, I do thank you, most genuinely and consciously, too. :)

149: A Day In The Lives Of Most Of Us

29 May

I woke up very early for a Sunday. Given that I had to go in to work as well, it felt oddly fine to get out of bed before 7am; after all, there’d just be more time to do the things I’d wanted to do. Sunday mornings, according to me, ought to be spent savouring the best the weekend has to offer – it’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it’s pleasant, it’s the calm you need before the rush of yet another week begins. Therefore, in order for my Sunday to be perfect, it needs to be hearty in a subtle, non-overpowering way. For that, I have always imagined either sipping my tea whilst inhaling the aromas of a freshly baked cake rising in the oven or while digging into said warm cake as I have my tea. There’d also be the ambient sounds of chirping birds, the rustle of a newspaper, the crack of a biscuit or two (though they don’t really feature in this act when there’s cake around), minimal conversation, and perhaps the subtle seduction of a guitar playing in the background as well. I achieved some of this yesterday; except there wasn’t any cake fluffing up in the oven because I’d run out of baking powder and hadn’t bothered remembering to get a new bottle. I sought the company of my blog instead, when I still had tea to drink and was done with my papers.

Today was a different set-up. It did involve the appropriation of my Sunday morning fantasies, except, it looked and felt a little like this; something that may be all too familiar to you as well.

Please note that this is the dream I was trying to achieve – sipping on my cup of tea with A, while reading the newspaper in the ambience of chirping birds and the aroma of a cake.

I woke up and by default put on some water to boil for tea. In the meantime, I got the ingredients for my cake ready, and was just about to start on this process when; and I will use the now atrociously common phrase “but first let me…” (not take a selfie, but…)

…add milk to this boiling water for my tea.
…scoop this cream that’s collected on top of this bowl of milk and keep it aside.
…gather all the cream I’ve been collecting and make some ghee (clarified butter) out of it, since I already have the cream at hand.
…turn the tea off (it was done by then and was listlessly boiling away and becoming too strong for our liking)
…get the process of ghee-making started
…put my cake batter together
…oil my hair so I can let it rest while I have my tea, leaving me with enough time to wash it once tea is done.
…turn the tea back on (it had cooled down by now)
…wake A up, because I’ve become his alarm clock now.
…get our tea and biscuits on the table (the cake was in the oven)
…say hello to my plants which are now outside my house (as A opened the door to get the newspaper)
…read while I have my tea
…but wait, let me Instagram this perfect moment
…skim the ghee off the kadhai (wok)
…enjoy my tea-time. Babska, enjoy the present moment, always.

This is endless. This happens to each of us. This has become a regular feature of my life which, if given precedence over everything else, takes over my ability to do one thing at a time (is that necessarily a bad thing?!, you’d ask), or anything else that I might wish to do (like sleep, for example).

Some may call it the ants-in-my-pants syndrome; I just call it the this-domestication-gives-two-fucks-about-living-life-in-the-moment. Sigh.

Having said that, I did end up having my (still) hot tea with biscuits, as I instagrammed a photograph and then proceeded on to read, while enjoying the ambience of birds, the rustle of trees, the shuffle of the newspaper, and the smell of freshly baked cake and homemade ghee that was bubbling away, all in the company of A. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead, and a great Monday today. :)

145: We’re All About A Story

25 May

Yesterday‘s post still hasn’t gone past me completely. Today I found myself sharing Cory Richard’s story in class because it had some connection and relevance to what I’ve been teaching them the past fortnight. And needless to say, everyone sat in rapt attention, heat waves billowing through the windows and all. It reinforced my belief which took root in me the moment I held a camera for the first time – that we’re all about a story; each and every one of us. Of course I’d sound cheap if I said that I’ve always dreamed of doing what today is popularly called HONY. You’d most likely turn around and say, well why didn’t you do it, stupid? or you’d perhaps just laugh in my face and look at me funny, if you were more the blunt types. Perhaps one day when we need a break, I will have something substantial to offer. Someday. 

We’re all a bunch of experiences that make a marvellous story irrespective of how ornately we present it. For once words, fancy gadgets, apertures, camera angles, and privileges don’t matter – just who we are, what we do, and what we’re made up of that counts. It boils down to our innate need to feed our curiosities, our voyeuristic tendencies sometimes, and even just our plain love for stories. Some of us lap it up in the form of books, poems, movies, tv shows, novellas, even photographs and songs, and more. I guess it’s one thing that will always sell because we always want to know, even when we don’t want to know.

This was from one of my favourite visits, somewhere in a town steeped in history, mythology, and a stopped clock.

On our visit to commemorate my grandmother-in-law last year, we stopped by to feed a small settlement that had made its home around my mother-in-law’s generational family temple. And this, by far, was my most prized privilege – having this child speak to me with nothing more than a mouth stuffed with puris and halwa, his eyes, and his smile.

With every street in this mythical town lined with sweetmeat shops, because this is the land of Lord Krishna, the lover of all things milk and sweet, I chanced upon this vendor during a cool summer evening walk as I explored the gullies less travelled. He didn’t have much, and neither did his shop have the sheen of the religious wealth this town boasts of. But he smiled, allowed me to click him, and wished me as I went along. Again, a lot said, with not many words.

My favourite, after meeting the child, was stopping midway and running across wheat fields to this. The irony is that we come from the same land, the same lingual roots, but couldn’t communicate with language as I was so confident we would. But then, on she went, in her own striped shirt with her bundle on her head, off with a smile that just the two of us shared with each other.

I’ve come to believe that we really are a bundle of stories, each with a different fingerprint, and a legacy that is ours and ours alone. And we all do fall asleep to these stories, unaware that grandma’s tales are yours and mine and each other’s equally.

For more pictures from this trip, please visit my post here.

144: Inspiring, Everyday People

24 May

I woke up with an unexpected sense of inspiration this morning; once I could muster getting myself out of bed i.e. As I waited for A to get ready, I logged onto Instagram where the source of my inspiration grew deeper and richer. As is with most things social media, a trail sketched itself across the profiles I flitted past till I found what made me stay, and feel like it was a good morning to wake up to indeed. For those of you who have been reading my posts, and for those of you who haven’t, here’s something that has really found a nook in me and settled down very comfortably in the momentum of my thoughts and curiosity – the entire experience that is the Himalayan expedition. I’ve written about it here, here, and here when I got hold of Jon Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air” after obsessively watching the movie Everest, which, upon further investigation, I found him trashing completely. But I’m thankful for the trail nonetheless. It was serendipitous then, and still is, today, when I clicked on the Instagram radio button and found the magnetism of the Himalayas drawing me to them, yet again.

It’s already been a while since Himalayan expeditions began for the year 2017, with many attempting a successful summit experience during this spring-summer window. Now when I find people talking about this, I feel more (theoretically) knowledgeable and aware. In fact, when BBC confirmed the collapse of the famed Hillary Step the other day, I felt oddly zapped by the new monumental hurdles alpinists would now face; not that hurdles defeat them, and not that the Hillary Step and the peak itself were not enough. Of course it also made me frown in the face of this global-warming destruction we’ve brought upon ourselves, but it seriously seems like we need something more drastic and severe to wake up. Anyway, and moving on, today I found myself following two people who are right there as we speak; and one of whom I found fascinating because of how profoundly beautifully and simply he expressed his thoughts and emotions coupled with the most breathtaking photographs.

Cory Richards; photojournalist at Nat Geo, swirled me into his world of words and expressions in an instant and so effortlessly as well. If my fascination and borderline obsession with the Himalayas wasn’t enough, along came this person who gave my perceptions, beliefs, thoughts, and curiosities a space to free-flow and merge into what was that ray of same inspiration I felt brightening up my morning today. Here are his words that made me feel heard, understood, capable, and not alone.

“Surrender is a funny thing. We do it constantly without thinking…when we board planes, get in our cars, or cross the street. We surrender to each other blindly all the time. Surrender in the mountains however has a unique texture. We stare up, calculate the risk, and surrender to the potential consequence. A decision is made to engage with fear and move with it. Fear is rooted in the future…an idea of something that could occur. In that sense, that which we fear isn’t real. The goal then, is to surrender to both the potential consequences and the sensation of fear. Only when I embrace it rather than fight it, am I able to move through it.”

If there was any fear holding me back, it felt more loose and less destructive. And that’s maddeningly insane coming from a normal, everyday guy, sitting somewhere in the Himalayas sending vibes to thousands of people scattered across this planet of ours. No?

Here’s his most inspirational and true (to him) story on Nat Geo as well, in case you’re interested. Enjoy. :)

143: The Twists and Turns of Adulthood

23 May

Today just wasn’t the day for me to catch a few winks in the afternoon. The internet guys called me a couple of times even when I’d asked them to kindly call and visit my sick internet connection only in the evening. Then the security guard rang my doorbell to tell me to remove my plants from my balcony, which I already had, and which I pointed out to him as he spoke to me. The painting labourers who are giving our building a facelift then decided to knock on my door with empty plastic bottles, to tell me that two balcony chairs needed moving. And then the maid arrived. So there really were just about a handful of minutes that I could dream during, post which I remained in bed slurping a creamy kulfi and a TedX talk by Shah Rukh Khan sent to me by S. Happy belated birthday, S! I figured she sent me this link because I dig the guy at some level. He really is a witty genius, okay! Anyhoo, I savoured what was left of my afternoon, in the self-obsessed but also tasteful compilation of experiences that were SRK’s.

The one thing in his speech that did catch my attention is something I’ve been becoming aware of off late too. And it is this concept of autonomy in drawing our own definitions of our experiences. It was just yesterday while in conversation with P that I mentioned the exact same thing –  that we’re so habituated to this “unchangeable” and “rigid” concept of authority without realising that we’re now at a place of authority too. Perhaps we always had the right to our own authority, but it remained unrealised and therefore untouched. It’s in the small things, and consequently in the big things; the latent ways in which we accept definitions of right and wrong formulated by others, and make them our own.

We’re at a place where if we don’t respect our own selves, no one else will, is what I said to P last night. It’s a new baton that I’ve come face-to-face with and am intrigued by. I truly believe that you and I are here, because we’re worthy by our own merit and judgement to be here; and that we have an equal hand in setting boundaries and making rules that work for and with us. Gone are the days when I remember standing in school or college, just waiting to get out and take control of my life. But somewhere down the line, and thanks to this humongous baggage of “no questions asked”, it started to feel like I was living by others’ ways and rules. I find this platform especially relevant today when I have so many looking up to me, hoping that I have answers, control, and some semblance of stability. Moreover, I find it an intriguing path to walk down, dotted with sharp turns and ridges that are waiting for me to trip and fall, or to trip and fly.

This is really the best time to be alive because there’s no telling time than this, that what you do is yours and yours alone, in all your selfish and self-obsessed glory and necessities. It’s a struggle, but it’s most real too.

133: Friday Feels and Saturday Spiels

13 May

I didn’t, or couldn’t write much at all yesterday because I had a dinner party to huff about even though it was clear that there was no cooking on my part to do. Barring throwing some fries into the fryer, ensuring we had enough ice to soothe six summer parched party souls on a Friday night, keeping the beers in our fridge chilled the way my family likes it (though that was A’s job to take care of), and figuring out where we wanted to order from, there wasn’t anything else I had to do really. Except, I still was flitting around in those feels (also why I posted the picture I did, yesterday).

And that’s because the host in me, and more importantly, the dessert-maker in me couldn’t digest the fact that I hadn’t got anything to offer my family who was spending dinner with us yesterday. It’s a blasphemous thought, especially when I’m everywhere on social media when I bake, and nowhere when I have guests over. So in went a stack of mousses that I’d infused with coffee and layered with toffee cake crumble, ready to set for when it’d be time for dessert.

Except they hadn’t set or weren’t even close to setting. To be fair, it wasn’t a dessert to be made on short notice, and expect to set especially quickly under the summer circumstances that we currently are in. 45 degrees is no joke. Anyhoo, a prompt banana sponge was baked which not just added some literal cushioning to my semi-solid but beautiful mousse, but also made my house smell like it was the place to be on a Friday evening. I promise there isn’t a more inviting smell than that of freshly made food.

I’ve no idea where the evening went – before I knew it, it was past midnight and we’d packed my tipsy happy family in their car back home. We have leftovers to party with today, so there will be no cooking whatsoever; just shameless after-party binging of butter chicken, butter naan, chilled sirke waale pyaaz (pickled onions in vinegar), and of course some beer and tv to go along with it.

I reckon this is how some weekends ought to be. With exercise, which A and I seem to be avoiding like the plague. What a killjoy that was.

131: Glorifying Busyness

11 May

has been one of those ideas my mind has toyed with for a long time now…you know, the kind of busyness that seldom allows room for anything else to show face even? that kind of preoccupation where there’s no scope for anything else. It was something I’d wished desperately for especially last year when I needed an anchor for myself and the straying frays of my mind. I have that today, thankfully. Except I’m left with time to really.do.nothing.else. when I’m in the throes of this busyness I so wanted. Not even the time to breathe, forget sit or drink water or even grab a bite.

Which sucks to be honest. There’s nothing more uncool than this feeling of running against time no matter how smartly you’ve tried to schedule your work.

I’ve been on this self-preservation drive for a while now. Nothing can or should or will come before those things in my life which need to take precedence over everything else – my health; my mental, emotional, and physical stability; my time; my relationships; my peace. It’s coming at a cost unfortunately; sometimes in the form of either staying back to tide my plate over or just losing some chunk of work or money, or both. It’s always about weighing those options against what you can and are willing to compromise and compensate with. Each of us have our own circumstances, our own journeys, our own experiences to help us draw these boundaries the way we do.

Back then I remember wanting this because the combined force of leaving home, adjusting to a new life and a new place, apart from the various hoard of responsibilities that came rushing my way, made me want to seek cover, an escape, something to find refuge in. Work has helped me find that solace. And now that I have it, it’s a balancing act of propelling this busyness with glorifying the simpler and more important things in life as well – in groundedness, in stillness, in quietude, in being able to clear my mind when I want to, in being able to live in the moment, in finding my zen and thriving in it, and allowing absolutely nobody else to encroach into my zone of zen.

It’s my own creation, my own discovery, my own salvation to attain in this glorification of busyness that’s gotten us all spinning past scooting days on a calendar, completely unaware of time, space, or even ourselves.

This is an effort, and one I’m working hard at. Or that’s what I’ve promised myself and the dark circles I’ve brought upon myself, among other things.

*clinks her glass full of iced tang at the one you’re sharing with her*

Here’s some music therapy along with some iced tang therapy for dark-circled men and women who need a minute to be still.

 

 

Peace and namaste to you.

130: Girlfriend Time

10 May

There’s no denying the balms that are mom-time and girlfriend-time. I’m a sucker for both, and a hardcore fan of both, too. It was yesterday while tinkering around the laptop waiting for A to come back home from a super late work-day, that P from the states buzzed me. It’d been a while and given that she’s a new mommy trumps everything else. But she calls whenever she can, and we speak. The last time that happened, she asked me if all was well and said that I needn’t let the world or its stresses affect me, almost automatically once we said hello to each other. Yesterday, she needed to hear the things that I was telling her, or that’s what she told me as I went on yapping away like I always do. I even FaceTimed with her baby daughter, who looks just like her father, which P and I almost telepathically grimaced about for a fleeting second. It’s one of those we carry you for nine months (and a lifetime) and you still turned out like your dad harmless and non-regretful funda that gets a lot of us women, you know?

Today has also been an off which I spent a lot of propped up on my elbows texting my girlfriends, who are, by the laws of nature, in different parts of the world. But you take that and suck it, universe, because we still can be with each other whenever we like. Random small talk and rants spiralled into full-blown ventilation sessions and conversations that did naturally revolve around life, the men in our life, the domesticities in our life, the work-life imbalance in our life, and of course, the necessity to stand strong in life. It’s funny how different perspectives in the same conversation take shape and make you see various mirrors that you probably never show yourself, or know exist. My mother and my girlfriends are those mirrors. Not to be sexist, because my brothers and my husband are my main mirrors too, but I’m sticking to title specifications right now.

Anyway the conversations made me think about my life and my journey and assess where I stand in all of it. It’s all easier said than done, because each of us has our own contributory factors that make our experiences our own. It’s as simple and point-blank as this forward that my aunt sent us the other day – if we were all to sit at a table and present our problems for someone else to take, we’d all leave the table taking along with us our own problems and no one else’s. It sort of made absolute sense irrespective of just how much one might crib or feel troubled.

But having said that, there’s no better mirror to look into than a good, hearty, honest conversation with your support system, whoever they may be. Mine are my family and my friends; all with different curvatures for the view they need to show me whenever I turn to them.