Category Archives: Chronic Thinker

Trust. Friend. Forgiveness. Truth. And Some.

I haven’t written in over a month. And the first quarter of this year is almost over already. Well, it hasn’t actually been bad. Not if you refuse to think of “May you live in interesting times” as a curse.

One thing that I did this year was to stop trying to control everything and let myself trust more. The tricky bit of this is figuring out how much of it is trust in the universe and how much of it becomes laziness. As any control freak knows, there’s always a hidden lazy bum ready to slouch out and take over your life. But I’m learning.

I made a new friend. That is a big thing because my sociable personality and persona notwithstanding, there are very few people I actually feel a connection to. And this connection is exactly the same as falling in love. I fall in friendship. Talking to this person every day in a way that feels non-threatening to me helps me reflect on who I’m becoming. Know that feeling? No? It’s rare because people like me, we’re so busy falling into people and glorying in the sheer joy of it that we forget to stop and reflect on what an amazing process it is to dissolve and have another person dissolve with you.

Someone who hurt me came back. They always do. Especially the men. We are unfinished stories and people must come back to complete them, karmically speaking or otherwise. I don’t know if I am ready to forgive. I will probably need to, eventually. I’d forgotten, which struck me as a convenient way to get around this HARRRRD business of forgiveness. But life gets the better of me and send me back into the detention room of having to face what I don’t want to and forgive those who have sinned against me.

I don’t feel vindictive, though. The people who hurt me, are poisoning the pool around me, that pool of trust and joy and relating. They influence the space they inhabit, that contains me too. And if that is possible, it must be equally possible for me to influence the space back. And I choose positivity. I choose grace. I choose hope. I choose laughter. I am yet to learn gentleness and compassion. But I’m sure someone, somewhere else in these spaces will bring those to the pool and we will all benefit. For my part, I do my part and bring the best of me to my world.

I have actually been writing, though. Everyday almost. The YourQuote app may just be my flavour of the quarter (given that I’ve been on it for over a month). But I have been posting a short picture-poem every single day. I’ve been featured a few times as part of the best selections of the day. And once those overachiever milestones have been chalked up, I’m moving on to exploring the format, the medium. I like it. I’m doing pretty words but I am also telling the truth. Go, follow me. The truth gets easier to say if you stay in one place and just like the stage, this app has become an alternate safe space for my feeling-thoughts.

This post ends here and it’s messy and meandering. But every now and then it feels good to let this part of me slither out in between the pretty poetry bits and the hard-hitting declarations. This is me. Be well, you.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Aren’t You Glad I’m Not Carrie?

I tell people being an only child made me a reader because there was nothing much for a kid in 80s to do. I tell them I grew up in an environment surrounded by books so it was inevitable I’d become a reader. I say being a writer is a subset of being a reader and I’m even more voracious than I’m prolific. But the truth is, like the category of this post is called, my soulmate truly is a book. Books have appeared, like guardian angels or fairy godmothers (whichever mythical being you like better) in my life at opportune times with appropriate messages. People and situations now feel like illustrations of whatever the books I’m reading are trying to teach me.

A fortnight ago, Vivek Jejuja put out a call asking for people with whom to discuss Stephen King’s Carrie. I haven’t been a fan of Stephen King for a number of reasons I’ll explain later. But I have been dying for a book conversation and I have been wanting an inroad to get to know the magnificent Vivekisms (who is already a good friend, only he didn’t know it yet). So I bought the book.

In the same week, an old school classmate called to tell me about a high school reunion. These two events are significant but only if you know what the book is about. So if you haven’t read the book and plan to, here’s your SPOILER ALERT.

I was far from being the popular kid in school. By far I mean, the exact opposite. I know a lot of people now who lament that nobody knew them in school. That’s really not the worst thing to happen to a child. The worst thing to happen to a child is other children who know you but not as someone they want to be nice to.

I am not going to lament the tortures I suffered in classrooms. I know that children have no perspective on the future or morals. I know a lot of them grew up to be pretty decent adults. And like the characters in ‘Carrie’, many of them probably didn’t even realise what was happening and if they’d thought about it, they’d be as remorseful. The big problem with bullying and harassment is that they look disproportionately different depending on which side of the fence you’re standing on.

Last year I was added to a school Whatsapp group and I had a firsthand experience of why this is a groanworthy ordeal for us digi-nerds. My phone was pinging at all hours of the day and night with 768 notifications from people from all over the world, the messages ranging from “HELLO GM! Sooo great to see everyone here!” to selfies to “Who’s here? Oh him!” I bore well with it for 2 days, setting it on mute even as it annoyed me. I am one of those people who only relaxes when all notifications have been cleared, unread emails/messages read and responded to and so on. Then one more member was added and the string of “Hi!”, “What’s up with you?”s began before he asked the inevitable “Who else is already here?” (honestly, can 37 year olds not figure out how to go to the Members list on a Whatapp group?). I groaned at the slew of repeat introductions, repeat-repeats and interruptions that would follow. Someone said “Ramya’s here too.” To which he responded,

“What? Buck-teeth Ramya?”

I stayed on the group another hour, long enough to read people’s sniggers, someone else say, “Dude, she’s here and can read your message” and his “haha, just kidding” followed by awkward silence on a group that had been pinging nonstop for 2 days. I shouldn’t have wasted even that hour before I took myself off the group.

I have learnt that people have zero empathy. I have learnt that people like to play ‘My woes are worse than yours’ which is the death of that thing called empathy. And I can tell that that boy (if I think of him as a man, it will make thinking about the human race too sad) doesn’t even think he did anything wrong. Who is laughing at a joke about somebody’s bad teeth? Everybody. Because this is not about bad teeth, body shaming or any of those things. It’s about getting used to treating people one way and logic, empathy or even human fairness be damned. It’s about robbing a person of who they want to be and forcing them into an unpleasant role for your own entertainment.

I’ve been troubled ever since I received the invitation to the school reunion, not wanting to seem petulant, wanting to be that ‘good sport’. But I realised as I read Carrie, that this was never going to change. People who saw me a certain way as children, are never going to see me differently. They will react badly if I try to get them to do so. High school reunions are for those who were cool in school. But if their lives continue to be so wonderful, why do need to go back to their childhood/adolescent selves? And how are they going to behave in order to fulfil that need?

chool was possibly the worst time of my life and that’s counting abusive relationships, dirty politics at work, unemployment and people I know dying. I had agency in all those cases, even if only over how I could respond. I had none in those horrible years between 3 and 16. I have no desire to relive it.

I do not have Carrie’s powers and that’s a good thing for the world. It’s time life started being things that were good for me too. So on Saturday, I chose not to go to the school reunion and spent it reading Carrie instead. Thank you, Vivek, for two new friends – you and a book. 😊

Here’s my review of the book:

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CarrieCarrie by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been skeptical about Stephen King for over a decade now, mostly because I read ‘Misery’ at 20 during a breakup and just when I was working to be a writer. Years later, I read ‘Dreamcatcher’ which even King fans tell me is not one of his good ones. A friend asked me to read ‘Carrie’ so I could discuss it with him, so I decided to give King novels another chance. I’m glad I did.

Much has been made about the first period experience, which triggers off the plot of this story. Stephen King does a commendable job, as a male writer, of highlighting girl/women’s trauma. Parts of it still had me thinking, “No, that’s not what a period feels like. A man obviously wrote this.”

For me, the more interesting parts were the rabid religious beliefs and the effects of toxic/abusive upbringing on a child. What set this story apart for me is that it tells of such a child who did rebel and break out of it (even if, with disastrous results).

The bullying aspect also felt realistic, not painting the bullies as bad people but just people caught up in things that they don’t think about and regret later.

And finally, there was the semi-epistolary narrative (the story switches between excerpts of news reports and actual plot). It felt like a bit too much emphasis on Carrie, the WEIRD one. But perhaps the novel wouldn’t have been as impactful without it.

I can see why Stephen King is considered one of the best popular fiction writers of out times. And I definitely intend to check out his other books now.

View all my reviews

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

The Lone Runner On The Treadmill

I wish I knew more people like me. I mean single Indians who’ve made choices and made mistakes. People who have broken some rules inadvertently and others because it was the only way to survive. The single Indian bit is important and come to think of it, being female too. But most important of all, people my age who are all this.

I have a world full of great folks who are at least 5 years younger than I am. Technology and exponentially leaping progress have made this a generation gap. While I find most of my tribe in the generation after mine, the fact still remains that I’m a few steps ahead. I’m past the time of competing for things that I know now to not be important. Or fearing things I can imagine because I’ve survived worse surprises and I know your mind is nothing but a horror movie that’s scary but can be turned off. I know all this and sometimes it gets tiresome being the only one who knows.

Specifically this applies to my romantic and to a lesser degree my professional choices. It’s only someone very naive that would say,

“Why do you care what other people think? Live life your own way.”

My world is full of people mouthing such platitudes, truly believing they’re wise and strong. They have not yet realised the impact of that idea, having rarely experienced it in its true brave-brutal-hostility-face-crippling-fear-be-attacked way. This is a brutally difficult path to follow for your career and I’ve managed it. But it makes no sense to me to think of relationships this way since relationships are about caring about other people. I’m tired of the glamorisation of the single life, possibly by unhappily married people wishing they could have something that isn’t actually real.

Today I had a conversation with a friendly acquaintance, on adjacent treadmills to be sure, at gym. She’s a few years younger than I am, happily married. She charmed me at our first meeting when she said she had no intention of having children and why should be the world’s business? That’s grounds enough for a friendship, I decided. It is and yet it’s not close enough. In conversations about love lives and life choices, she said,

“But do you even want comittment? I would think you’re the kind of woman who doesn’t really want all that. You’re so independent.”

She is so young, is all I could think. And yet, I know now that most men who’ve known me, romantically or otherwise echo the same black-and-white sentiment. Why does my desire to drive things mean that I do not want companionship? Why is my unwillingness to settle for abuse, disrespect and subjugation seen as comittment aversion?

I do want comittment, but with the right person. I know firsthand what a nightmarish hell it is to be comitted to someone who does not like you, does not care for you and wishes you harm. A lot of people think that made me afraid of relationships. It didn’t. It gave me perspective. If my only choice were a bad relationship or singledom, today I know which is the better one and that’s the one I’ve chosen. But I didn’t choose singledom over a promising (since that’s as good as it realistically can be) relationship because there isn’t one on my horizon right now.

A lot of the people in my life are men. My experiences tell me that if a man is not attracted to me, he is not likely to pay anything more than superficial attention to me. He’s just not interested in my life because I’m not a goal. If he is attracted to me, even faintly, it narrows the way I can be and things I can speak about because an innate need to compete and then judge crop up. Men are such limited human beings, no thank you for the socialisation, India.

Women on the other hand, can be bright, brave creatures. I love how many 27-33 year old women I know now who are single, beautiful, brave, intelligent and confident in their lives. I was the only one I knew when I was all those ages, and surrounded by boyfriend stealers, frenemies, girls who played dumb before the boys, girls who manipulated and tore each other down. I love that there are more women I can relate to now. But, they still are younger. They’re dealing with some of the things I’m still dealing with (thanks again for the rape culture, India). But they’ve not yet had to think about the biological clock and about annual health checkups, to name just two things. They’re dealing with other things I did not have to then (“Are you a good enough feminist?”). They are not me yet. Maybe they won’t be and I hope the world will be a better place for them when they’re 37.

Where does that put me? Running on the treadmill, alone. I did not choose to be here. But in life, as in the gym, if you’re there, you have to keep moving.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

And Then There Was Music

I sang today.

Actually it’s the second time this week. Earlier this week, I met a friend visiting from out of town at what turned out to be a karaoke event. I sat through an hour of people rollicking in songs I did not recognize, trying hard not to feel outdated and irrelevant. And then my group picked out a nostalgia track that took me back to when singing was fun.

"Am I the only one? Am I sexual?" feat. @febwinsta and @abhishekaggy

A post shared by Ramya Pandyan (@ideasmithy) on

In case you’re wondering….the original:

Just before it was time to leave, something swung into place. A new year I realised, new resolutions, new promises and all that means the old burdens don’t exist any more or don’t have to matter anymore. The microphone is not new to me anymore and with karaoke, you don’t really expect anyone to be superlative in their mastery of the song or even memory of the lyrics. I chose this slightly (now) obscure song to pay tribute to the Angry Girl I started off as at seventeen. And it was good.

Today was Tuning Fork’s first challenge of the year. They had us write a piece in an hour to a prompt and just before going up on stage, they told us we’d have a predefined mood to render the performance. I started in fits & jerks, picking pieces of pretty lines and unfinished poetry from my stash. Then I decided to set those aside and go with a story that’s been lurking in the back of my lungs, waiting its turn while my voice, throat and mind got comfortable on stage.

This was the story I told. And the mood I picked was ‘Happy’ which felt like 2017 continues to be on my side and help me stay well, happy. I just listened to my performance and I’m so happy there’s still music inside me.

It feels like I’m seeing someone I’ve known all my life in a new light. Thank you for the music and the microphone. 2017, I thank you for your gifts.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

The Grand Villain And A Concrete Wall

Heartbreak. It’s hard work getting past it but hard work never scared me. It’s lack of hope that terrifies me. Yet, my automatic reaction has been to freeze up into a wall of silence, stoicism, concrete hardness. There is no hope beyond a wall of that nature.

I decided to start the year approaching this differently. Who could I be, if I was not that wall-builder? It felt difficult, so difficult. I told myself difficult never scared me. Coupled with that determination, comes an idea. What if wall-building is simply a habit, and not my most ‘natural’ reaction to things? It’s a thought, one that I am willing to hook onto. Habits, I can make or break.

So, what if all the heartache I feel is just that and not some indication of the horribleness of the world, society and men? What if it’s just that – feelings? I am not invalidating emotion. I live by my emotions. But they are just that, what I feel. They do not have to have anything to do with other people’s motivations. Realistically, most other people are just like me, bumbling along through life, accidentally knocking into each other, not having the ability to recognise their own emotions, let alone other people’s.

*Image via Erika Wittlieb on Pixabay

*Image via Erika Wittlieb on Pixabay

There is a large myth that it is easy for each of us to buy into of the Grand Villain. We turn old lovers, friends who’ve let us down, family members who have disappointed us, colleagues who have crossed us and pretty much everything that goes against what we want, into the Grand Villain. The Grand Villain must sit in his/her lair, doing  nothing but scheming about how to make our lives utterly miserable. Do you do that? Do you even spend that much time thinking about your own life, let alone someone else’s?

I guess it’s easier for us to believe in that than to stop and consider that stuff happens to us that is bad, unjust, scary and otherwise unpleasant. It means acknowledging that life is totally random. It means accepting that there’s no such thing as safety or security. It means taking responsibility to do what one can. It means letting go and trusting that things will be okay and if not, well, they won’t. It means saying, I can’t even tell how many more things that means. It’s really, really difficult.

But you know what? It carries hope, which is something my concrete wall doesn’t. The concrete wall keeps the Grand Villain inside with me. And frankly, I’m done with that guy. So goodbye and let’s open those gates and let some life in.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Tired Is Good

I haven’t written on my blog much this year. Writing was my go-to remedy in dealing with life’s stresses. But I think in the past few years, it became a contributing factor to many of those same stresses – the fallout of making it my profession and also part of my social life. The stage found me though and I find the same ease when I go up in front of a mic as I once used to, when faced by an open screen or blank page. It’s evolution and I’m glad for an alternate source of expression and insight.

I do however, want to start writing again, the way I used to be able to – sharing openly, blindly and as honestly as possible. It has always felt good to share.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

2016 has not been the terrible year for me that it appears to have been for others. 2012 was that year for me, the year my engagement ended and shattered life as I knew it. 2015 was dark though I didn’t know it when it began. I entered 2016 in such a daze I didn’t even realise how far down a rabbit hole I had plunged. I’ve been looking back at my posts from this time and they’re so empty of the passion, the hope, the searing emotions that characterises my writing of the past 11 years. It made me question my own identity, my sense of self.

There was thankfully, light at the end of the tunnel and yes, it really was as sudden and dramatic as that. I had started to believe that I might need medical help. What turned up though, surprised me in its mundanity – a thyroid deficiency. My first reaction was to feel grateful that a cause had at least been identified but it was a grim sort of gratitude. I have a memory of my mother crying all night after she was diagnosed with a thyroid deficiency and the doctors told her she’d have to take a pill for the rest of her life. But in the days that followed, I discovered a lot of people in my life, already on the same regimen. The turning point was when my mother explained that the pill was not medicine but something that would supplement what my body didn’t produce as well.

Why did this make me feel better? Because it was saying there was nothing wrong with me, no yawning darkness inside that had to be fought. It was a simple matter of a chemical deficiency that could be rectified. Last month my dosage was reduced. And even if it hadn’t been, the months since the diagnosis have been so much better.

The world hasn’t changed from outside. But I don’t get up in the morning, struggling to hold a single thought that can pick me out of bed and go through the motions of the day. I am not wildly happy all the time, not even happy that much. But there is enough to keep my days going well. The question of “Why bother?” doesn’t occur to me most of the time. This is a big change from when WHY BOTHER marked my every breath and action for more than a year, maybe longer. For this one reason 2016 for me has been reprieve, release, healing, a flight to freedom.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

I had an encounter with my ex a few months ago. It was strange. Not terrifying or disturbing like I had feared. Just strange. I didn’t recognise him at first. And then when I did, there was a split-second moment when I realised the person standing in front of me had absolutely nothing to do with the person in my memories. It’s very, very strange to realise you don’t recognise the person you thought you would spend the rest of your life with, donate an organ to if it were ever needed and care for in your old age. For awhile after that, I questioned what the meaning was of love, life and relationships if one drastic action and some years could take a relationship from the focal point of your life to unrecognisable. I think I only gave up because I became too tired to go down that line of thought.

Tired is good. Tired is what I felt when in 2012, someone from my past asked me, “Have you forgiven me?”. In that moment of extreme fatigue, I put down my worries and my baggage and I never looked back again. So, I’m glad to be tired.

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*Image via Antonina Bukowska on Unsplash

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

Well look at that, I started writing and I’ve come all the way down to the end of a page. Looks like writing is my bicycling then. I feel gratitude like it’s the quality of mercy described in The Merchant of Venicenot strained but dropping like the gentle rain.

There is literature. And clarity. And food and friends. And writing and this blog. 2016 has been the supplement that my life needed.

Nine Ways To Survive The Rs.500/1000 Demonitisation

I will refrain from commenting on the goodness/flaws of India’s demonitisation of Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes. I will however share some ideas that may get us through the next few weeks.

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* Image via carli jeen on Unsplash

  1. If you are reading this, you have an internet connection and probably a smart device. This means you have options. Use credit cards, debit cards, netbanking and mobile banking wherever possible.

  2. Delay non essential card purchases to save your credit limits for important things. It’s temporary. You can probably do without that new jacket or rare book or cool gadget for the next month.

  3. Avoid COD for ecommerce. Let the economy use Rs.100 notes for vital things that do not have other options.

  4. Reduce cash spends on commuting. Avoid buses and autos. Use trains and metros because these accept payment by card.

  5. Avoid thronging banks and ATMs. Let their cash reserves be used by people who don’t have digital/plastic options.

  6. Pay your service staff (watchmen, drivers, maids etc.) advance to help them get through this transition period without having to compromise on essentials like food.

  7. Pool cash purchases with neighbors so you can transact with the Rs.2000 notes and reduce the pressure on the Rs.100 bottleneck.

  8. Pay contributions to group activities by online transfer rather than cash. Netbanking has no lower limit so you can even transfer Rs.20.

  9. Be prudent with payments at metro stations, airports and utilities still able to accept old notes. These enterprises would also have certain upper limits so let their cash transactions happen with people who can’t pay by other ways.

This is temporary. Let’s try and get through it without panic-mongering. The experience might even benefit us all.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Welcome To Friendship Dial-In Services…

My phone is going to take the better part of a month to return (if it does). Till then, I’m using a substitute phone that lives up to its designation by degrading call quality within ten seconds and shutting down every couple of hours . I was unusually serene for the first five days, right through Diwali. Then I spent two days in the abject misery of frustration mixed with anxiety and stress. And now I’ve floated into a sad sort of peaceability.

Why sad? Because I just realised the reason for my first two moods in the week following my phone’s crash. ‘A break’ sounds good in theory to people but everyone else seems to be having real trouble with it. I didn’t, because I didn’t expect anybody to call. It was the Diwali weekend and I knew everyone I knew would be busy with their own lives.

Then came Monday and I was oddly relieved at not having to deal with the world’s calls (possibly why I procrastinated the service center visit). Tuesday is when the reality of other people’s demands and their irritation at my inavailability hit; it’s what pushed me out of serenity into stress. It only took a day for me to realise there was no one or nobody who cared about my problem being my problem. Everyone around me only cares if my problem becomes their problem.

It led me to realise that I’m not missing being unavailable on calls because people only ever call me when they want something. I’m not being a whiny complainer, I’m the same. With so much happening around us and the glut of low-involvement messaging options, a phone call is relegated to the status that a telegram once took. It’s the red light, the emergency bell, the pull-chain-to-stop-train signal. No wonder I experience a slight feeling of “Oh God, what new demand is the world making on me now?” when my phone rings.

A friend reported her irritation at the onslaught of forwarded Diwali greeting Whatsapp messages. This year she said, she responded to each one asking how the person was and what was happening in their lives. Not one person replied, she said.

After several unpleasant conversations, I’ve managed to shut down a friend who would keep badgering me on Whatsapp with “What’s up?”, “Why aren’t you replying?”, “I’m bored.”, “What are you doing?” I have been emailing him (and a few others) a long, personal email every month. I haven’t received any response from him on this.

We are so superficial in our communications and thus in our relationships. I think many of us aren’t really capable of meaningful interaction or even aware that this is necessary. But when life’s vagaries hit us, we hit our panic buttons except we do it with Last Dialed numbers. I have just been taken off the Panic Button lists for a month and I don’t even feel guilty saying it’s a relief.

After all, I realised, there’s nobody really responding to my Panic Buttons when I hit them. No, that’s not true, there are enough of people who do that. But let’s be clear. These are transactions of ‘I need them as much as they need me’. That’s neither relationship nor is it reliability. As it turned out (like it always does), relying on myself was the best thing to do. I sort things out best on my own and you know, I don’t really do too badly. The world causes so much chaos, ego, needless panic and violence that left to my own devices (heh, pun intended), I’m rather undramatic and matter-of-fact.

So, my dial-in services are temporarily unavailable and my customer service has been moved to email and messaging. And true to the tradition of great customer support, I’ll respond only when I feel like. Thank you and have a good day.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

 

A Stranger’s Houseparty

I haven’t written anything new through October. It wasn’t a bad month though. Far from it. The rains petered out and I think I dealt with my least favorite season a lot more gracefully than I usually do. I know it often seems like I’m endlessly complaining. But only I know, within me, there is less being shaken up and torn asunder by life’s events.

A couple of interesting things happened.

I went cycling, twice, both on events that I saw advertised on Facebook. This wasn’t fashionable, professional adventuring or even glossy tourism. It was quite simply, going around places I’ve known my whole life, on cycles. The first trip was in South Bombay, through Colaba, Marine Drive and Nariman Point. The next week took us through Bandra’s winding lanes and slopes – oh, slopes! I never realised Bandra is such an up-and-down suburb. It was quite lovely. I took to cycling the same way I took to swimming, even after years and in a way that I’ve never quite taken to gymming. I was thrilled at my own body memory, my fingers moderating speed, my body angling for turns before my mind even considered it. And finally, I realised, just like swimming, this is an activity that allows you to be completely alone even in a crowd. You can cycle through a road full of people who don’t think like you do. You can share a swimming pool with other human bodies that are violent, petty, angry, sad. And in the water (or on a pair of wheels), gravity treats you the same. You have your own tiny universe of one in the midst of these million others. This is my favorite revelation of 2016.

And finally this accidental click. I haven't cycled in about 20 years, save one time in Goa in the early 2000s. Cycling really is well, cycling. You never forget. I found myself skating along, my thumb pressing the bell at turns and my left hand gently nudging the brake, working with my feet to slow down rather than stopping violently. It is also such a wonderful way to see the city. We covered a lot more ground than on foot. In addition, while it's a group activity, you're also in your own little cocoon, your cycle and you. The closest I've come to this is swimming, my favorite physical activity. Maybe it's time I buy myself a bicycle. bike #ride #rideout #helmet #cycle #bikelife #streetbike #bicycle #bicycling #cruisin #cruising #cycling #cyclist #cyclists #citysights #mumbai #SoBo #southbombay #Bikeurious #travelmastergogo #latergram #oldbombay #oldbombaycharm

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The second thing to happen, was my phone conking out this past Friday, just before the big Diwali weekend. To my own surprise, I didn’t panic, get angry or really well, even think about it. Four days passed before I even thought to initiate repairs, find a replacement or tell people around. It was a kind of automatic silence vow that just happened on its own. Was it a coincidence that Diwali didn’t seem as loud and scary as it usually does? I had an allergy attack late Sunday night but I went to sleep and then it was all okay.

Something is definitely happening. I’m slowing down, calming down. It’s not that I don’t feel as intensely anymore. It’s just each time an emotion surges, another part of me seems to look on and say, “Hmm, okay. Too tiring. Not worth it. It’ll be gone in an hour or two.” Is that a good thing? I know it’s certainly more convenient to the world around. But you know something? I don’t think I care that much about the world around me anymore.

There are people I care about, of course. But somehow mixed into my caring, I can suddenly see boundaries. I can see their limitations, I can see how my caring is conditional. And it seems to make more sense to not do, say or express certain things because these would be attempts to change something that cannot be changed (like people’s innate nature).

I am lonesome. It’s not a gnawing, desperate hunger, though. It’s that sense of walking through a roomful of friendly strangers who are not it. I don’t even know what it is. Maybe it’s a person or a place. Maybe it’s several people. Maybe it’s a job. I know the situation I am in is not immediately hostile. It’s not threatening as much as it’s annoying occasionally. And even those annoyances don’t feel worth getting upset over. I’m in the wrong room but it’s not a horrible place to be. Yeah. That’s where I’m at now.

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Image via Jakob Owens/Unsplash

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