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186: Little Conversations And Happy Vibes

6 Jul

It was yesterday while at school that it struck me how surrounded I am by different people. While my students put up what was perhaps the best assembly so far this year, I watched on like a proud class teacher would, and felt a connection with them for the first time I think. They picked the very apt, very relatable, very important topic “self-acceptance” and delivered a marvellous job which only spoke to hard work, effort, and a great connection with the subject. As the audience stood in rapt attention lapping up all they had to offer, my kids ladled praises that came their way. Much deserved and worthy of bragging, most definitely.

I’m not a very social person or a very open person. My walls are high, my boundaries very marked. I don’t cross lines and no one crosses mine; not beyond a point i.e. But I’ve been noticing this uncanny phenomenon which has been happening off late that can only be attributed to kids and their ability, to either lovingly or annoyingly, gnaw their way into a person’s heart. I’ve a varied bunch of kids from all walks of life – they’re all amazing in their own way, and equally challenging to handle.

They’ve slowly but surely started inching closer towards me, and I towards them. Professionally, of course. And somewhere in this entire process I’m reminded about just how many variant vibes I’m surrounded by – happy, jovial, youthful, energetic, humourous, beautiful vibes. I’ve been having conversations with myself, telling myself good things, even. Opening up to these youngsters all around me has helped me take these little conversations to another level; to open my eyes and see that there’s so much good energy all around me to sponge off from, to give to, to engage with.

People are strange.

But magic is stranger.

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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.

146: Getting Into The Skin Of Delhi

26 May

For decades, and even till late last evening, the idea of spending an obnoxiously hot summer afternoon outdoors was just never an option for consideration. Ever. I never lived in this part of the country for more than five years, all put together, and there was never a time when even during touristy summer visits, that we stepped out during loo-y, debilitating afternoons. Evenings were a lesson enough, whenever we did venture out i.e. But here was a chance I was getting to explore a hugely popular shopping market with a colleague after school hours. It was the beginning of the weekend and our summer break – a celebration of sorts was warranted after the mad day every single teacher had had. Therefore this was an opportunity on many counts – one of making new friends, seeing this city more, plus fabulous flea-market shopping which automatically adds +5000 points to the entire deal, no?

And so I went along with a colleague, and so we shopped till a point when all I wanted to do was get into my cab and flee from the market. I barely lasted 2.5 hours, but we did see quite a bit, and I did go crazy quite a bit too. From my explorations, here’s what I discovered about Sarojini Market in New Delhi:

They’ve got the best stuff ever.
They’ve got all the latest fashion trends hanging in every nook and cranny.
However, if there’s a fashion trend doing the rounds, it’s very difficult to find anything/something that doesn’t fit said trend.
They sell clothes at a steal. We picked up beautiful cotton shorts for the men in our families for 150 rupees apiece, tops ranging from 100-250 rupees apiece, and the softest cotton nightwear at not more than 250 bucks apiece.
I even chanced upon ceramics for a steal – where two beautiful mugs and a very pretty kettle cost me 250 in total.
Shopkeepers here do not bargain for some reason.
The ceramics stall guy did, though.
I prefer Lajpat Nagar for footwear and a greater refined collection of clothing and materials. Also, they bargain there.

However, all said and done, there’s no way I could’ve bought whatever I did, at the steal that I did, from anywhere other than Sarojini Market.

It indeed makes a shopper thrilled to find great collections and an even better price, without the pinch of spending the money that you do. I’ve never felt more satisfied after a shopping deal. Of course the last time I went to Sarojini Market was over a decade ago when I was a student and couldn’t exploit its offerings like I can now. But some things never change, and that’s just as comforting to anyone who wishes you venture into the streets and gullies of this market, where shops are as old as our grandparents but as up-to-date as the next tween is. Notwithstanding this weird habit (I’ve now come to realise; back then I was just another innocent alarmed Bangalorean) men have of fondling their crotches while talking to almost every customer; it’s a great place to spend many an evening at, because I’m certain every visit just allows us to explore just the tip of all that it has to offer. And having said that, I feel like a little more of me has gotten into this vibe that is New Delhi.

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. :)

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.

128: Wisdom

8 May

Sucking on this ice lolly rather whimsically, I can’t help but think of this prayer that I once used to begin my workday with back while working at a rehab.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

This Serenity Prayer was just another routine thing I mumbled back in the day; a formality, a must-do, a not so crucial thing that didn’t really make a difference to my life. I didn’t know, and I couldn’t have cared less. I was there to do my work, get the job done, and get my ass back home from that all-male rehab which wasn’t the most pleasant of settings I imagined spending my summers in. But it was the need of that hour, and it was to be done minus much preoccupation.

Today is a different time. It’s seven years later, a long enough period for a lot to have happened, even if one was inert, existentially or otherwise. This has been a recurring thought to me off-late – to let go, to let go, to let go in absolution. I haven’t inspected the fear of letting go in absolution; no I have not. Neither have I bothered looking over the cliff to see the view and/or the fall. Like many things universal, this cliche is definitely easier said than done. But I’m fighting hard to not just try. And each day for a while now, has been exactly that – a reminder to work towards jumping off this cliff.

Sucking on this rather comforting lolly, I wish to, by action, also tell the world to go suck it.

I’m taking what’s mine and I’m walking away – go suck it.

I’m drawing my lines and you nasty, line-encroacher you, can go suck it.

I’m not going to care, and you can go suck it.

Watch me make 50% become my new 100% while you, my dear universe, can yes, go suck it.


This has made me feel better, strangely. I felt like I’ve left what’s unnecessary and jumped off the cliff. Or maybe that’s the soothing comfort of the ice lolly speaking – the sheer blindness of denial. Whatever it is, I’m feeling better already – a little less of me is preoccupied with things that really don’t matter (which I thought really did), and a lot of me is urging to fight this battle as hard as I can.

I hope you had a more fruitful Monday. Have this ice lolly, and suck it. Trust me.

(PS, thank you for stomaching the rant. I owe you!)

115: The Ease Of Walking Halfway

25 Apr

It was till almost 11pm last night when I finally got up from my chair to head to bed. I knew what I wanted to do in class today, except I didn’t have the means to get it all done. It’s finally time to get into that part of my subject which I find both fascinatingly intriguing and painful to study as well. My mind only kept insisting that I begin this new chapter with either a reading from a book or by watching a movie based on the same book.

I rushed to my Kindle (what a blessing technology is) only to find the book unavailable, perhaps for controversial reasons. A visit to the bookstore was out of the question. Besides, venturing into this heat towards zero guarantees is a risk I wasn’t willing to take. However, some thinking and help later, I had the movie with me, ready for my students to watch today.

They came halfway too, today. Having sacrificed their break to watch this movie made it seem worth my while. I wish I could be there to see them through the end of the movie (I had another class, but they watched the entire thing in one sitting, letting it spill into their next hour). One needs support, answers, closure when you’re dealing with something so real, yet so unknown and new.

I am looking forward to opening them up to more experiences with my subject, but in time of course. However, these small joys of working, learning, exploring avenues and potentials of learning seal the deal completely.

114: Manic Monday

24 Apr

My posts are increasingly a review about the days that come and sometimes crash into me or days I mostly walk into with some sense of chaos. I hope to work on that and write more about meaningful things, except the only meaningful things that occupy my mind are that of school and class-related work. It’s something I’m working on.

Before reflecting on today, let me quickly reflect on the embarrassment that was yesterday’s RCB match. I’ll assume they have a menacingly dense grey cloud holding fort right above their heads, because there’s just no other explanation to that. I mean I actually have no words for the joke of a nightmare that experience was. But I’m an RCB girl, and I’ll just have to give my team the best vibes and thoughts I can. FOOLS.

Today was about learning, throwing myself out there a little more than I’m used to, and tackling fear by its horns. It turns out that rushing head-on into a fear sort of dismantles it instantly. I was left feeling victorious, empowered, and so silly for being afraid of something I’d obviously magnified in my mind over the weekend, and therefore consequently wasted so many brain noodles on this stress.

There’s a palpable joy in accountability, in watching someone, even if it is one person, turn to you and say thank you with genuineness. Sense of self and confidence intact, gratitude patches even the most fulfilled souls. Maybe this is what keeps teachers going despite the cruel hell their daily life can be, on an okay day. Maybe it is about being a little more than a forgotten speck whom the world walks past. I don’t know, and I’m not sure.

Meeting students fresh out of their board exams, students I’ve never met before, and students who looked at me as though my being there made a difference to them (even though talking about an exam is the last thing anyone wants immediately after a paper), was an eye-opener today.

Every single day is a new day, and every single day brings forth an opening leaf with fresh lines to read, learn, and cherish.

70: A (Not So) Sucky Saturday

11 Mar

There’s nothing worse than two things in the life of a working person:

a) being robbed of the joy of Friday in its entirety, and

b) being robbed of a Saturday, irrespective of how long or short the duration of one’s workday is.

Having said that, here are two things that made me feel better about a long weekend being snatched away from me (only because I’m trying to be thankful and grateful):

a) that I’m not the only one who works Saturdays, and that it’s just a minute fraction of our working population which gets a five day week, and

b) I got to spend time with this bunch again. I went a step ahead and asked them their names this time. My timekeeper was Garv, the handwriting one who had it all under control was Bhavika, the general attention monger was Tejas, and the first bencher with big specs came without them to his desk. There were also other characters that popped up on my invigilation radar, and what a cute bunch they are indeed. :)