Thursday, March 30, 2017

Keep Calm : Take Up A 30 Day Challenge.




Sometimes our lives can get so caught up with the day to day mundanes... that we forget what it was like to have a simpler life. When at times, we have the time to sit back and think about it... we want to do all those small little simple things that are normally so easy to do but we never find the time for. I, over the last few days, came up with over 12 such simple activities that in isolation may not mean much but when done as a regime... can be quite life altering.

This is going to be the year of 30 day challenges... one challenge each month.

April: Water up 

Water is that magical liquid that can help us get our life on track...it suppresses appetite, aids in digestion, fights bloating, tones out muscles, flushes the toxins out of our systems, reduces cholesterol , helps liver function, and last but not the least stops us from confusing hunger with thirst.

May: No more Nail bites

I bite my nails. It's a habit that bothers me and is something I have wanted to stop doing all my life, I am going to make a change and phase this habit out of my life. They say anything you do for 30 days in a row... becomes habit formin... I pledge to quit nail biting for 30 days!

June: Get out and breathe in

Couch Potato, that I am ... I end up staying indoors most days. I find myself spending most of my days cooped up inside looking at a computer screen, some fresh air will definitely be more helpful, with this challenge I make it a point to get out every day and breathe in some fresh air. Walk for an hr every day, come hell or high water

July: ARK/Complement time

Putting a smile on someone else’s face is always a guaranteed way to put a smile on our faces too! I vow to take the next 30 days either completing one act of random kindness or giving a compliment to someone every single day and see if making others happy makes me happier too.

August: Create something beautiful every day. 

Too often we fail to make time for the things we most love to do. I promise to carve a few minutes out of my day for 30 days straight to spend on it.

Spending time doing things we love and working on our passions is a surefire way to be happier and feel more fulfilled!

September: This is the month to give up tea.

I am a huge tea addict (I’m guilty!), it will be challenging to see if I can go entire 30 days without consuming tea and replacing it with green tea.

Perhaps at the end of 30 days I will still want to have my usual morning tea, but maybe not and will be comfortable with green tea and can feel good about it.

October: Month long spring cleaning

I you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the amount of clutter and general stuff in my home lately, I decided to use this opportunity to ease into the process of decluttering and freeing up space. So I will be donating, tossing, or selling just one item a day for 30 days in a row.

November: Read a book

Can't remember the last time I read a book. Not because I had to, but just for the sake of enjoying a good book?

It can be difficult to carve time out of a day to cozy up with a good book and let myself get lost in it, but it always feels so amazing when we do that! It’s good to let our mind wander and just enjoy a good story or even learn something new. I will try reading one chapter of a book every night before bed for the next 30 days and see if it helps me feel more relaxed and maybe even inspire me.

December: Connect Outside Social Media

We are all so engrossed in FB/Instagram etc... that we have forgotten how to connect with our friends in real life. I take this opportunity to connect with one friend from Social media world, everyday for the next 30 days.

January: Cook or bake something new each day.

All those who know me know that I hate to cook/bake. SO I take it upon myself to prove them wrong. So this month I will cook/bake something new everyday. and document the recipe and the experience.

February: Watch a film a day

This is the month of love and romance... I will make it a point to watch one movie a day for the next 30 days, start watching it and finish it, and write one thing that I likes good about the movie I saw. One line of appreciation.

March: Spend 30 days being a vegetarian or vegan

I am a complete non vegetarian... so its time I keep an open mind about vegetarian. So here is my challenge keep and open mind and eat only veg food for 30 days.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fidelity: A state of the mind?



My friends are my window to the world. They are my constant source of information about the current dating scenario. I won't lie, I take immense interest in their lives, not only because I love them, but also because they never cease to amaze me about what it is like to date in your mid 30s- mid 40s, in this era or technology.

With the onset of online messengers, and dating apps, everyone is connected 24x7. A message at 11:53, as innocent as "Hey, I like your DP" from a long lost colleague or an ex is no longer public knowledge. Gone are those days that the only means of connect was a landline or a mobile phone... even the internet boom and plethora of online dating websites perhaps didn't change the dating demography as much as the advent of smartphones did.

Thus adultery, infidelity or extramarital affairs however you refer to them, is slowly becoming everyday occurrences. I read somewhere, that a person's tolerance towards infidelity is directly proportional to the extent their own moral compass would let them drift. To someone even casual flirting with a person of opposite sex is deception, while for some other, physical intimacy doesn't count as adultery if there is no emotional connect.

So, is that what it is all about? Is fidelity just a state of mind? Why do people seek? I refuse to use the word stray... as that has a negative connotation.

Are they really seeking pleasure outside of their current relationships? Or are they desperately trying to look for the person, that they were many moons back? That person who is now lost in the mundane routine of day to day existence? The constant search for what they were and escape from what they have become.

To be noted here is that I am not condoning infidelity, I am just playing a devil's advocate... trying to understand why people tend to look outwards in a relationship. May be it's never about the third person, maybe it's about rediscovering themselves. Maybe if a couple is evolving together, everyday and never lose that connect with who they were and what they are...  every time they'd look outwards, they'd only find each other. Adding dimensions to their lives, marriage, relationships, and as a result their own selves.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dear Daughter...

                                                     Pic courtesy: Google Image Search


Dear Daughter,

You are going to be 13 soon, a teenager. A young adult.

Soon you will leave home. (precisely 5 yrs time) I know its a scary thought. And I ain't going to sugar coat it. In the next 5 years you will have all the support you can from us. If you choose to study further. I will be burning the midnight oil with you. If you choose not to... you will HAVE to start to work. If that happens, then you will have to be independent. I am not that mom who will support all your whims and pay for your wants, thus driving home the point that there indeed are no free lunches in this world. Coz, my dear daughter, there aren't any. Sooner you learn that, that much easier this life will be for you. You have five years to decide...While you are at it... I think I will make your room into a studio for my art work :)

You are a wonderful and beautiful child, you always have been. I was not even remotely as good are you are now. (No wonder my mother wishes your were her daughter!). I’ve known you for almost 13 years, and you are way way more awesome than I could ever imagine my daughter to be... even when I kept praying for a girl child. Always remember, if someone doesn't understand that... then that's their problem... never yours.

Never ever, consider me as an idol/example. You and I are like chalk and cheese. You have a different personality, I have my own. We don't have to like/dislike the same things/people. I give you all the freedom to choose your own destiny, values and devils. However, the fallout of this is: You have to own all your decisions, the good, the bad and even the ugly ones. I take no responsibility whatsoever.

Whether you choose to become a high flying corporate woman, a bartender, a belly dancer, a struggling artist or just a stay home mother... I will never judge you. It's not in my place to interfere in any of your life choices.

Remember, it was our duty to bring you up as a good human being. It is not an investment towards our future. I don't expect you to take care of me and provide for my old age, similarly I don't expect you to shape your life hoping for an inheritance from us. What we earn is for our future, and to ensure that we don't burden you in your future.

Whatever path you choose for yourself, remember, I will always be your there for you 24x7. I will laugh with you and cry with you in your sorrow. I will be ready with my advise if you so seek, but never extend it uninvited. However, remember I will always have my own life and not be there to help you at the snap of your fingers. I don't have to, neither will I, sacrifice my personal space for every comfort of yours. I can. But don't HAVE to.

As you grow up you will realize that there is no formula for success or to avoid failure. You can't control every situation. You can do everything right and still have a crappy life while at the same time do all things wrong and still end up with a fairy-tale life. The only thing that you can control is being honest to yourself. Never lie to your own self. Learn to understand yourself. Your needs. Your happiness. Only when you are truly happy can you be happy for others.

Remember, ever action of yours will have a consequence. You will never be able to foresee them. But try and be prepared for every conceivable outcome that you can imagine. The more number of outcomes you can imagine that much more easier it will be for you to decide upon each course of action that you take.

I’ve enumerated 8 points that I consider as life hacks. But, as I said above, you are not me. Don’t compare yourself to me. Don’t think that our lives should or can correspond in every way. I have lived my life on my own terms, I would expect the one person I have brought into this world to do the same too. Go live your life on your own terms.

8a. Just don’t expect me to fix your mistakes.
8b. And never ignore my calls, how many ever times I call you in the day. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Conversations With Myself.



Sitting in my balcony alone, staring at the only constellation that I can see from my rocking chair. Ursa Minor, in Bengali we call it Saptarshi... the Seven Sages. Yeah, its the one with the Seven stars and shaped like a question mark. Right there in the summer sky looking down at us and challenging us to come up with answers to the questions life throws at us. It got me thinking about how I can keep sitting at the same place taking in the breeze... and the peace and quiet of an Air Force campus. Still not getting bored even for a second. Foundation of this lies in one word...

Satisfaction. 

Satisfaction with what you have and enjoying what you have in your life. It is not a sign of weakness it just shows that you are comfortable in your own skin.

I am almost 41, I have stayed in 11 different cities in 10 different states in this country. Growing up as a single child was not easy. You don't always have  a sibling to irritate the brains out of you or whose shoulders you can cry on. Single child can't always look for companionship in the form of hanging out with friends. Cause that would mean becoming a people pleaser, so they give you company. The day you become a people pleaser you lose track of your own existance. This I learnt really early on in my life. I learnt to amuse myself. I learnt to occupy myself with inane stuff.

God has been kind in giving me friends who will go to any lengths for me, and I for them. I thereby don't feel the need to be a people pleaser. I love being alone. Spending time with myself and my thoughts.

Boredom!

I have a very simple take on boredom. If you are bored in your own company... Wow! Imagine what people are going to go through then. We all have voids in our lives. I am happy with them. They give me time to understand myself better. Voids are the best thing that can happen to us. The desperate need to fill that void with random people is a sign of insecurity.

To be able to stand tall and say this is my belief and I stick to it... you like? Good for you! You don't? I couldn't care less.

Marriage- Spaces in Togetherness!

The prophet said "let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf."

Marriage is not the end of the road. Its is the beginning of our journey with our soulmate. Biggest mistakes most women make is thinking that the girl in them has to die to become a wife. Its not written anywhere that being a wife means we should kill the girl inside us. Keep the girl alive and the wife will glow.

Motherhood!

Taking time out to have a spa day... a weekend out with my girl friends in a quarter... makes me a bad mom? Most people think so. I have had ladies half my age come up to me and asking me to "spend some time at home" so I can be the textbook mommy.

You know what? Maybe you should switch off that TV and read a book to your child!

I go out... I have fun...I don't beat myself with guilt over it later on. I also stay up until 3 am doing my daughters project work. I know my daughter will grow up being spunky and not be a pushover. Coz what I do today my kid takes that to be sacrosanct! I am a woman first. Then a mom and wife...

I am me! 

Yes, I am me... I will question your every decision and mine too. I have been brought up that way. Reasoning out and rationalizing everything. I am a little off in the head. I talk to myself. My mom is my best friend. I am not unsocial. But I am not gonna be nice to you just so I can call you my friend. I have friends that bitch on my face. I have been slapped across my face by my friends. But never stabbed behind my back. I laugh at myself. I don't usually get offended with what you say... coz you are not that important.

I totally understand that it is not possible to be universally liked/loved etc, however if I. being the way I am, have been able to touch even one life, and have been able to positively influence it, I would feel I have succeeded. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Sounds of Silence.



When silence speaks it's the loudest noise that you can ever hear. And no, I am not talking about the silence at the dead of the night. I am talking about the silence in your head. The silence that comes not just after you stop talking but after your thoughts have also stopped talking as well. It's then that you can hear the silence in your head, in your mind.

What you hear then, is what your soul has to say.

Since the time I remember me, or anyone for that matter...my mentors, teachers, parents, neighbors all had only one complaint... "She is very talkative... She talks incessantly." I guess the reason for such verbal diarrhea,is my absolute hatred towards uncomfortable silence. All my life I have felt responsible to break the silence and keep the conversation flowing. I do it with elan too...

Which is also the reason why I always felt that silence is overrated. Until I reached the Vipasanna Meditation Center in Kolkata. My first thoughts were that I will die without talking... internet... and civilization.

Strangely though, I kept myself entertained with my myriad thoughts the first 3 days. However the 4th day all hell broke loose. I wanted to break all barriers and run away... I contemplated selling my watch for a phone from the neighborhood boys who I could see from the terrace. I contemplated stealing the volunteer's phone to call up my husband so as to just hear his voice.

By the time day 4 ended I was sure I will run away. And then came the 5th day... when my thoughts and all unrest in my head and mind died a slow painful death, and I started hearing the silence in my head. The silence that spoke a thousand words that I didn't hear as a gregarious talker.The words which were suppressed every time with my anecdotes and jokes and elaborate narratives... suddenly found a new lease of life.

I spent the next few days at the camp letting my silence have its own conversation with my thoughts. I went through a day or an afternoon of absolute forgiveness... wherein I admitted to myself to have wronged a number of people in my life. I think the biggest penance that one can do is accept ones own mistakes. That is always the first step. And a step in that direction is half the battle won.

The sounds of Silence that spoke to me in those 10 days at the camp might have moved me the most. Now that I am back to the reality. The noise of life may have suppressed the the voices of my soul... but somewhere inside my head I know that my soul is still alive and has the ability to wake up and tell me what I am doing wrong. I may and I know I will choose to ignore that feeble voice, but a day will come when I will have to pay attention to it. And act upon it. And then act I will! Until then... live in the moment.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Legacy.

Pic Courtesy: Google Image Search



Dislcaimer: This is a fictional piece written during a story telling workshop, any resemblance to any person or incident is purely coincidental. 

Sitting alone on my balcony with my 3rd single malt in hand, I am looking over the busy streets and the noise that makes Gurgaon  a millennium city. At 48, my life is complete. Love of my husband, success at my job. I have worked incessantly for 25 years of my life, to earn my space in this materialistic world. 

I wonder if I die today what will be my legacy? Will my kids remember me for my carelovewisdom? Will my husband remember me for my commitment and honestly. I want to think yes, but if I am entirely truthful I think my legacy will be my penthouse. 

How did I land here? Where is that optimistic passionate person who would fight against hypocrisysocietal norms and conventions and take the world head on? Today, as I think of true love, I think I still regret breaking up with my first boyfriend, just because he didn’t confirm to the so called group dynamics of my best friends

Was that first step towards losing my innocence? And beginning of my manipulative life. As insecurity crept into my mind, fear and jealousy took over my core values…and in my aggression towards success I started using my colleagues and friends as stepping stones towards the next promotion.

Suddenly my son breaks my chain of thought… the bell rings and I see him rushing out to take the pizza that the delivery boy has got in. I smile at his innocence and sheer happiness at being able to eat junk food for dinner.

This takes me back to the time when all us cousins would sit around the fire on a cold winter night playing antaskshari and my mom would come with a glass of haldi mixed doodh, a perfect shield for a menacingly cold winter night. I remember my Dadi’s pre independence stories, and how each story would end with the moral of appreciating inner beauty. Huddled together somehow these sessions always  made us feel safe.

All this nostalgia, tears me up. While I am respected and loved by most, I wonder if I still have the power to accept myself for who I have become. This conflict of instant gratification and my beliefs is never ending. Having completed ¾ of my life, do I have the power to renounce the toxic shell that I have built around myself and embrace the real me? In the process become a complete person, make my roots strong… spread my branches wide and high with leaves that are always green and healthy. Do I have it in me to leave a legacy for my children that they will always remember me by? The legacy of happy memories... of doodh haldi... of time spent... of huddled winter evenings with masala chai and pakora and ghost stories...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Shelf Lives and Expiration Dates




Walking through the FoodHall at DLF Promenade, I was amazed at the wide variety of food items. Each carefully categorized and marked, my mind couldn't stop wondering how simple life would be if everything came marked with its own expiry date.

Every relationship with its own shelf life, carefully stowed away and savored until it reaches its expiry date. Life would be simpler cause then it will be easier to move on.

No heartbreaks... no insecurities... no bad blood. Just a constant reminder that we need to make most of what is left in the relationship jar before it expires. While all the time carefully and consciously stocking up for the next set of relationship jars.

Relationships are also categorized in sets of consumer durables and perishables. The durable ones are the ones that we treat like most durables in our lives...very similar to the furniture in our house. As always paying more than required attention to the perishables.

Typical.

However it's the durable ones that pull us through every time the perishables expire.

Every relationship has its shelf life. Sometimes we outlive the shelf life... sometimes the shelf life outlives us...