Tag Archives: Family

Survival Blinkers

October has come and gone like a hurricane. This is the month that leaves me with no doubt that 2017 is a year of reckoning, a time of forces greater than myself imposing lessons that I must learn. The events of this year have been incongruously challenging and disproportionately trying. This makes me think that there must be a reason. When science and facts fail to prove causality, one must turn to belief. Maybe there is no such thing as causality but it helps one cope with the randomness of life and how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things.

This year, I’ve been bullied and harassed out of the performance spaces. I’ve been gaslighted and called mentally ill by someone I loved and considered almost a best friend. And I’ve been attacked and left cold in my difficulties, by the other best friend. I’ve tried letting go of Flinching. I’ve been in love and watched it ebb, slowly and meaninglessly. This is done and over with, in the first half of the year alone.

The second half was better because I realised life was on crisis setting. This is not the first time I’ve been here so I think I was able to switch to my buckle-down-and-get-through mode. Ishmeet called it a ‘high functioning depressive’ state once. I don’t know if that is true and if it is, I don’t know if there is a better alternative. All I know is that being task-focussed has allowed me to survive situations that were hostile, explosive and even dangerous in unpredictable ways. It also allowed me to do so with minimal impact on my surroundings or on other people in the form of lingering negativity, incomplete conversations or undone work. Of course it always resulted in things that the world called ‘achievements’. I’ve gone on long enough to see the connection between the two and try and keep my sense of self above this. I do not want to become addicted to crises and unhealthy survival responses because of the temporary high of the end achievement.

Last week my mother took a fall while serving dinner. She sustained a fracture and had to have surgery. She was in the hospital for a week and having been discharged, must be mostly immobile and highly dependent on us for some time. A lot of people’s first reaction has been,

“How things can change in an instant!”

Two other people in my colony have faced serious health issues and there is talk among my neighbours of doing a puja to banish the negative energy. After all, health crises touch our core fear instincts. They remind us of our mortality, even when these crises are happening to someone else. And it’s easy to let that fog cloud one’s thinking. From last week’s experience, I know just how crucial empathy and reassurance are (something hospitals and indeed, the medical fraternity fall very short on). So I can’t bring myself to laugh at my neighbours’ fears.

Me, when pushed, I find my mind reaching for the good things that did happen in this situation. We were in Mumbai (we had been travelling the week before that), among other people who helped and at a time when it was possible to get instant help. The doctors have also confirmed that it could have been much worse had the crack gone in other ways or happened in other places. I’m not sure a depressive could bring themselves to see the positives of a situation.

That said, I know my reasons for seeing the positive are quite clinical. Dwelling on fear, angst or other such negatives will only slow me down. I cannot afford to slow down right now or crumble, given how much my family, my life and I myself need me to be functioning. Keeping my eyes on the positives helps me manage my motivation to stay on track. And finally, it gives me purpose and a tangible path. If I can see a path, I can remember that there is always a way out. If that’s emotionally detached (the way high-functioning depressives are supposed to be), that’s the way it is.

This situation works as a kind of emotional peg, rooting me to this state of being. It allows me to carry the same detached calmness (I don’t want to call it serenity since serene is also wise and I don’t feel wise) to other parts of my life. The ex who is calling me toxic and spreading evil lies. The former friend who lashes out after ghosting me. The poetry circles that continue to politick. The books that disappoint. The employers who exploit. The drivers who honk. The rains that destroy. It will pass, it will all pass. And if it doesn’t, I will pass through each one of them and come out alive.

There are still two months to go this year. I am not going to predict anything even so far as hoping (hope is its own form of future-changing energy). I will just try and keep my head while all about me are losing theirs and blaming it on me. I will try and keep walking, that’s all. 2017, you’re not done yet and neither am I. Let’s walk together.

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One Day Past Thirty-Five

I wanted to write a post today but I’ve only gotten to it now and it’s past 2 a.m. which means it’s technically tomorrow but I’m still awake so I call it today. It’s Day 1 of being 35. I’m just past the mid-way mark of The Thirty Diaries. And 35 is the next landmark age after 30, so it feels like I should make a big deal out of it.

Celebrations. I’ve decided I’m going to have them as often and as self-indulgently as possible. Really. I now see the self-defeatingness of waiting around for other people to do something nice for me. And to hell with modesty. In fact, fuck modesty, I say. Modesty doesn’t wait around to cheer you up when you’re moping indoors, watching the grey rain outside your window (it’s always depressing weather on the birthday of a July person) and reading the one gift you got. This happened to me one year and I spent it reading a book that predicted my mood accurately – Misery. Modesty doesn’t rescue you from a broken heart and the pain of knowing that they were so petty, they couldn’t even bother to wish you a happy birthday. Two different years, neither man worth it (which petty person ever is?). Modesty doesn’t act as a shield from an insecure enemy hitting out unprovoked at you, stealing your work, cheating with your boyfriend and turning your friends on you. One year only and that was enough. I went underground all these times. I hid, I cried then I wiped my tears and went out like nothing happened. Like the fact that it was my birthday didn’t matter. Like the one ritual I was allowed to have to celebrate myself was taken away and it was okay. Never again. So, I say, fuck modesty.

This year I announced it to all and sundry. This year I threw myself a party. Actually, last year as well. And this year was a different one. Now, let’s see I’ve had a different thing every one of my Thirty Diary years.

30 was Pune, a love affair with a new city, dating for the fun of it and drinking beer like it might be worth drinking it.
31 was a home get-together with two friends and one interesting stranger. We began dating three days later.
32 was the confused cocktail of marriage talks, a trip to Kolkata and a surprise party thrown by him, a guy who hated parties.
33 was lying on the sofa, unwashed, hungry, tired, depressed, watching reruns of reality TV the whole day, with the phone switched off.
34 was dancing and drinking and cake and laughter with a new circle of friends and lovers.

And this weekend, 35 was a home get-together with good friends, brunch with the family, an evening out with my writers. All of them, my people, my world. My world revolves around me and I lead how people behave towards me in here. I must celebrate me and then the world will celebrate too – me and itself.

Adi grabbed me into a bear hug the minute it struck 12. Unfortunately I was wearing a spiked headband and it cut him on the chin, just as he hugged me. But he laughed and held up a bloodied finger and said, “Now I can say, I’ve truly shed blood for you!”

I also got birthday bumped for the very first time in my life. Hmph. I knew 35 would bring a lot of new experiences. I didn’t expect the first to be quite so, umm, undignified.

Netra gifted me a pretty dress. It’s lovely, I told her, but I don’t wear backless. You should, she said, when I saw this dress, I said it’s so you! I held it up, soft fabric caressing my face and I let myself sink into my NO. Many, many years ago an insecure man told me that I was ugly, that the heat rash on my back made me unattractive. And I never wore backless after that day. I had forgotten about that memory; it had lain in a corner, missed when I swept away all the other evil nonsense that he fed me, which had limited my life. And with that, I decided to let it go.

I wore the dress on my birthday, my back open to the world, literally and metaphorically. The only thing close to bad that happened, was when I was waiting for a friend at the National College crossing in Bandra. A strange man drove up, parked next to the pavement, rolled down his window and stared at me. I stared back at him till he stopped. But a few minutes later he resumed staring. I took a picture of him (with his license plate) and tweeted it. And then I forgot about it. Later, when I checked Twitter, I found RTs and someone offering to take legal recourse against the offender. So I took that action and then it passed out of my conscious thinking, without spoiling my evening.

My friends and I ate leftover cake. We walked around Bandra in the rain, mock-debating the merits of raincoats over umbrellas. We had chai and played ‘Whose line is it anyway’. We had pizza. And nobody told me I was ugly or attacked me. Instead, I got an otherwise reticent friend telling me it was ‘delicious’. 😀 After today, I can wear my back with pride and more newly – with freedom.

The wonderful thing about celebrations of this sort are that the hangover lasts a few days. It’s carrying me wonderfully over self-defeating messages about the supposed stability and sobriety and maturity that 35 is supposed to be. I’m 35, not dead!! I’m still twinkling and sparkling with all the jokes, the affection, the unexpected wishes, the messages that people sent my way. I feel loved and inspired. What better way to start a new year?

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Thirty-five, welcome in! Who’s coming with me?

C is for City

CI had an idea for a non-fiction piece when I realised today’s A2ZChallenge prompt ‘C’ would carry a story version well, if I said it stood for City. Tell me what you think.

~O~O~O~O~O~

C is for City

It was hot even at that hour. Summer was here. Rhea stared at the dial and patted her forehead. The girl who was supposed to keep the place clean had skipped the timepiece. Rhea had overlooked her misdemeanors once too often. It was time to let her go, she decided, waddling back. She slowed down her step as she passed a door. She didn’t want to wake her husband. Arrian was a light sleeper and he was going to wake up very irritable, after all the drinking he had done the previous night. Rhea didn’t want a tongue-lashing or something worse, the first thing in the morning.

Her daughter Alia came in carrying a bunch of roses. She stopped when she saw Rhea and the hand cradling the bouquet dropped to one side. Her slim form was draped in a low necked white dress. The fabric clung to her hips and its hemline was a little higher than decent. Rhea pursed her lips, trying to decide what to pick on first. The dress, she chose.

“What is that you’re wearing? And where do you think you’re going dressed like that?”

“Mama, I was just going into the garden.”

“For what? To plant those flowers?”

“No, I…I just cut them. I thought they would look nice. I was going to put them near your bed.”

Alia took a step to her right. Rhea started.

“Don’t go in there! Your father is sleeping. You know how tired he gets after his late nights.”

“Tell him not to drink so much then.”

“Go back inside! And stay there until you learn to behave like a well-brought up young lady. And put on some clothes!”

Alia pouted but didn’t budge. Rhea gave her a little shove. And when Alia didn’t move, she grabbed her long hair and gave it a yank. That would teach her to talk back to her mother. Pulling her all the way, Rhea continued scolding her in whispers.

“You’re not going anywhere without a palla. And today, you’re not going anywhere. Go to the kitchen. You’re going to learn to cook!”

Alia mumbled something inaudible but since she was moving, Rhea took no notice. She continued scolding her and as they passed the long hall, she resumed her normal volume.

“Where did those flowers come from? Tell me now!”

Alia yelped and there was a thudding sound. This was followed by various knocks and bumps. A few minutes later, Rhea stepped out and bolted the door. Daughters needed disciplining. Thank God Arrian had not been awake!

The little minx probably knew he wasn’t and that’s why she was acting up. And the flowers – Rhea hoped they weren’t from the gardener’s boy. One word to Sabeen and he would never walk straight again. Sabeen didn’t permit anyone to look at his sister. And as a lowborn, the boy had no right to even raise his eyes to look at Alia. Rhea poured herself a glass of wine and downed it in a single gulp. Arrian wouldn’t notice today anyway.

She heard the door opened and she turned, startled. It was Sabeen, his clothes disheveled and hair unruly. He reeked of alcohol too.

“Were you out all night, you wayward boy?”

Sabeen waved her off and slumped onto the mattress. Rhea rolled her eyes. As soon as she had one child disciplined, the other one turned shenanigans. Boys were so much harder to manage too. She thundered over to him, before she remembered that she was supposed to be quiet. Tugging his arm, she began frantically whispering,

“Get up and go inside, quickly! If your father wakes up and sees you in this condition…go in quickly. I’ll send in some food. Just go!”

But too late, she heard the door open behind her. Arrian was standing in the doorway, his eyes red, one hand on his portly stomach. Sabeen sat up in a flash. To their surprise, Arrian padded heavily past both of them and plonked himself down at the table.

Rhea hurried up to the table, wishing Sabeen would have the good sense to vanish. He was still rubbing his eyes.

“Shall I bring you some breakfast?”

Arrian waved her off impatiently. Then he gestured for her to wait.

“We have to start packing today.”

“Packing?”

“Yes. Tell the servants. No, don’t tell them. They will need to stay.”

“Servants? Stay?”

Arrian growled at Rhea in irritation.

“Woman, shut your mouth and listen!”

“Where are you going?”

Sabeen’s drawl sounded behind Rhea’s ample back.

“We are all going. You will go and start packing also.”

Arrian paused, scratching his chest hard. Then he let out a loud burp. And his humour returned.

“Master is coming. I received a message yesterday. They want to move back here. And they want me to manage their business affairs.”

Rhea gaped, trying to take it all in. Arrian smiled at her affectionately. Women were so simple-minded. She was probably thinking of her gardens.

“Don’t worry, you will have a garden there also. It will be smaller but that’s okay. You’ll be able to go shopping there. You’ll meet all the high society ladies. It’s the capital, after all. We’ll go watch the horse races at the Circle. I’ll even take you to The Circus.”

Rhea bowed her head. She was just wondering how long they had. But she didn’t dare ask. Sabeen did, however. He couldn’t wait to get going. No doubt, he’d be out chasing every girl around, the minute they set foot in the city. If he was this bad, here on the farm estate, there was no telling what he’d get upto with the crowd there.

“You will come to work with me every day. The master has agreed to let you be my assistant.”

And with that, Arrian put an end to any grand plans Sabeen had had a chance to make. Somewhat mollified, Rhea shuffled off to talk to the servants. She wasn’t sure what to think about Alia though. On one had it was a good thing they’d be getting away from the gardener’s boy. On the other hand, just like Sabeen, Alia would also be in bad company once they got there. It would be a lot harder to restrain the girl in city. Besides, Rhea had seen how the girls there dressed. Sabeen would end up killing somebody or Arrian would die of rage.

She sighed, sitting down on her bed. She didn’t really like the loud noises and flashy people in the city. She knew Arrian had wanted a lady who could impress the others in his circle but she had failed. She wished she was more beautiful or charming. She never knew what to say at big parties. She was a very good cook, and that’s what had made Arrian fall in love with her. He had been a lean, young man then and look at him now! But she hadn’t been able to spend her married days closeted away in the kitchen. Ladies of her station didn’t do that, he told her firmly. Servants did.

It had been a relief to both of them when they were able to move here, managing the farm estates. She liked it here. It was peaceful and beautiful. But she was a good wife. She knew her duty was to follow her husband wherever he went and try as hard as she could to make him happy.

She stood up and waddled slowly to her daughter’s room.

“Get up, Alia. We are moving to Rome.”

Alia jumped up, clapping her hands, the slaps forgotten.

“Yippee! Can I have a new toga, mama? And my own chariot?”

~O~O~O~O~O~

C is for City

*Image courtesy potowizard on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ideamarked! December 2010: Internet Delights, Online Wars, Schooltime Nostalgia, Curd Rice, Romance, Art & Writing

I’ve had a busy December, what with friends from out-of town, the big relationship questions, getting started on the Yahoo! Real Beauty arrangement and a month-long writing exercise (you’ll have to read further to know what!). But I still managed to keep an eye on things of mutual interest, dear reader. *Pause for applause* 😀 I’m feeling upbeat and high-spirited this month. So be nice and leave a comment or two telling me what you think and what else you’d like to see.

  • This would have been par de course in an 80s Bollywood flick dhak-dhak style! (via AwkwardFamilyPhotos)
  • Getting ready for the Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2011.
  • This really appeals to the Ideartist in me! (via PS-IMadeThis)
  • A month-long writing exercise with a daily prompt (via Reverb10) Hat-tipped by Lakshmi Jagad. Also see my posts on this, here.
  • I first heard this song featured on the soundtrack of ’13 Going On 30′ and then fell in love with it. It was the theme song of my journey to the big Three-O and beyond. (Billy Joel’s Vienna Waits For You via YouTube)
  • Two drifters off to see the world, there’s so much of world to see. A classic. (Breakfast in Tiffany’s Moon River via YouTube)
  • Stoopid copywriters, funny fails! (via Failblog)
  • An interesting concept: Turning off your phone as a technological gesture of affection. (via Arzan Wadia)
  • Some of us miss the forest for the trees. And then there are those who remind us to stop and pick a fruit and savour it before burning the forest down. (Ashwini Mishra on the small things)
  • I came upon this blog from a reader response. It took me back to my early days of blogging when blogs were personal journals (not blossoming ebusiness ideas) and bloggers were ordinary human beings (not the next big Internet celebrity). I particularly liked the idea of this tag (yes, another throwback to those days of yore) and his answers. (via Yuva Anandan)
  • I ran into an online war with Bombay Elektrik Projekt after I tweeted that I was disappointed with their Monday Night Slam event. They slammed me on their Facebook page and on Twitter. An account of the event is here.
  • I didn’t send this one in but it instantly reminded me of my Best Friend. (via PostSecret)
  • An ode to that humble king of South Indian cuisine – thayir sadam (curd rice to you philistines). The article has liberal local references so you’re advised to carry a Tamil-English dictionary. But it is worth a read. Damn, my stomach’s growling. And this after having had a sumptous dinner of the aforementioned thayir sadam!! (via HawkEyeView)
  • Remember the teenage sleuthing trio of Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews? My early adolescence was checkered with the adventures of The Three Investigators. Here’s remembering.
  • Horsing around (via AwkwardSchoolPictures)
  • Things you would never know without the movies (via TheTopSpace)
  • “Not email but Facebook may launch its own country by Monday!” (via FakingNews).
  • Hardware meets software? The clash of the giants. A good read, even for the techno-greeks. “Apple versus Google” (via IntelligentLife)
  • From the idea-archives: My article on learning to cook from the internet, which featured in JetLite’s in-flight magazine in October 2010. Cooking wannabes and seasoned chefs, do take note! (on The Idea-smithy)

If you see yourself (or your site featured here, if you’d like to be or if you’re just intrigued by the Ideamarked posts, do drop into The Idea-smithy Facebook Page and tell me about it. I love company!

Reverb 10.18: A New Dream

Short and possibly repetitive, it looks like the rest of Reverb10 is going to be. After all, I guess how many introspective questions can there be for an aspiring writer?

December 18 – Try.

What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

(Author: Kaileen Elise)

I’ve wanted to live in my own place for years now. I first tried it five years back, a little after I had finished my education and started working. My office was clean across town, took about 90 minutes to commute to and another 90 back home at the end of the day. Most of my colleagues were from out of town and rented flats close to office. I figured out an arrangement with a colleague who I got along with. We even went looking for places together and found a few we liked. And then I broke the news to my family. It was a mess.

In sum, it didn’t work out and resulted in my spending more and more time in commuting and m office hours getting extended too which meant I had practically no time or energy left to do anything else. I didn’t really spend much time in the house either and I hated feeling like a prisoner trapped between four walls, only exchanging one controlled environment for another at the start and then the end of each day.

Five years later, things have changed in more ways than one. The financial implications of moving out are scary. On the other hand, it looks a lot more possible now than it ever was. I’ve crossed the magical 30 mark and hopefully laid to rest notions of my whole life being within the largely male-dominated control of other people.

I am a neat person though I don’t know how tidy I’ll be able to keep my own house. I’m generally well-organized, reasonably independent but I don’t know how self-sufficient I’ll be in reality. I’d love to find out. Maybe next year will be it.

Reverb 10.11: What I Don’t Need In 2011 (And How I’m Avoiding Them)

A list! I love lists! And that’s only the first reason why this Reverb 10 prompt has me singing.

December 11: 11 Things

What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

(Author: Sam Davidson)

Fooo…..yes, I was all enthusiastic and eager and ecstatic (and other good-sounding ‘E’ words) at the thought of a list. But having discovered the list is (again!) about things that one has to bid goodbye to, my E stuff feels D’ed (dampened, defeated, disgusted, demeaned, disillusioned, devastated…).

11 Things My Life Does Not Need in 2011 (why not and how I plan to get rid of them):

1. Writer’s block:

I’ve faced this enough of times in the past year and can testify to it being the vilest, most horrible, uncomfortable, lonely, sickening feeling ever. It’s like being constipated for days on end and watching everyone else eat sumptuous tasty meals. It’s like being pregnant for eighteen months, watching your belly bloat to alarming proportions and wondering if the only way out will be for you to burst. *Shudder* Never, ever again, please.

I don’t really have a plan to get rid of the possibility of this but I guess I can keep my proverbial medical kit handy. Good friends, other career options and enough of distractions to tide me over till it passes.

2. Financial worries:

I’ve never been poor. But there have been times when money has felt a little stretched. Add a generous dose of good South-Indian girl guilt to that. That’s when if the outgoing includes items that are not mind-enhancing and matrimonial-prospect-inducing, they’re considered wasteful. Incoming has got to be a steady, predictable flow, no windfalls-followed-by-empty-periods for this one.

Considering I’ve chucked up a sensible, respectable career for a newfangled, alien venture like writing, am well past my sell-by (as prescribed by the Southern powers-that-be) date and show no signs of making up for it, pressure is high. Much of this of course, is self-induced which is the beauty of any childhood-implanted guilt. The recording plays on inside your head, long after the originators of the voices have fallen silent. Anyway, I really do not need the cringing self-doubt of dwindling savings with no albeit tiny-but-definitely-incoming money flow in sight. I don’t believe I have the nerve to go through with being footloose and income-free for very long. Which just means, I’ll run back to the safety and uninspiring boredom of a respectable job, again. And that’s the end of my writing career, my dreams and my self-worth.

How I plan to keep this wolf at bay is by thinking ahead and keeping open to income-generating options. Naturally, I have my pride and conscience and I don’t intend to resort to get-rich quick schemes. But I have chalked up a number of things that I can do and do well. There’s writing of course (all kinds) and also number-crunching, business analysis and a number of other things I’m still discovering. It’s still a tricky thing for me, marketing them in a way that doesn’t sound like I’m full of myself. But very simply, these are retailable skills. Money earned for work done is a simple enough mantra. And fingers crossed that there will be enough of takers for what I’m selling.

3. Emotional distance

One of the first things that I decided I wanted to do, when I quit last year, was to go back to being the person I was a decade ago. Starry-eyed, idealistic, passionate, uncontrollably alive. Also unfashionable, socially outcast and totally uncool. But I wanted that and I wanted it all, no exclusions.

A big revelation happened over the course of the year (through the novel and many wine-soaked conversations with E Vestigio and long distance phone calls with P, L and others). I cut out sarcasm. Then I whittled away at cynicism. I chipped off bitterness. And I’m gnawing away at polite behaviour.

The results are that I’m exploding more than once. I’m often caught at a loss for words or saying the most horribly inappropriate things at the wrong times. But I feel so very alive! The sense of being weighed down is going. Even though I’m actually a few kilos heavier than when I had a rigourous daily schedule, I feel lighter.

I’m not completely there yet but I intend to keep at it. Emotional distance from people and experiences is what I thought kept me sane. But it also kept me stifled, tiny and mostly dead. I’m letting go. Be warned, much madness up ahead but it’ll all be authentic, 100% me.

4. Poor health

Rheumatism. Spondilitis. Diabetes. All things that doctors have been threatening, are creeping up on me.

Malaria. Gastroentitis. Low blood pressure. Vitamin D deficiency. Weak bones. All things that have already made their presence felt in my life.

I was always a skinny kid but also a bundle of energy and I recuperated quickly. The most ironic thing about my health in the past decade was discovering that I was overstressed and vitamin-D deficient. On asking what I could do to get better, I was told to work less and play more!

That seems like wonderful advice to follow (even doctors say nice things sometimes). So I intend to worry less, laugh a lot more, eat well, run around like crazy in the sun – and hopefully live not just longer but better.

5. Unhealthy weight gain

As mentioned above, I was a skinny kid and I grew up into a lean adult. But shortly after I quit my job, I discovered that I was alarmingly fleshy for my snugfit jeans. I ended up getting a new wardrobe (of dresses and skirts) but that niggling belief that I was bloating hasn’t left. Of course I’m duly grateful that it’s only a little weight, that actually does look good on me. But I’m alarmed by the idea that it could just inflate (pun intended) out of control. What’s more, I really don’t want to add cholesterol, heart disease and other things to the repertoire I’ve listed above.

What I plan to do about this, has actually already been set in action. I signed up for yoga six months ago and did follow the regime for a good while. But the schedule didn’t suit me and I fell off the bandwagon. Mercifully for me, I also started swimming, an activity that brings me even more pleasure than health benefits. The weather has gotten a little too chilly to enjoy the swim much but I still managed to get into the pool 4 days last week and complete around 15 or more laps before shivering my way back to the changing room. Maybe I’ll sign up for a dance class too.

Persistence and patience are my friends and I don’t intend to let those sneaky kilos get the better of me.

6. Boredom

The killer of all things creative, happy and joyful, who would be scareder of boredom, than a storyteller (an entertainer)? Thankfully for me, the world is a treasure trove of interesting things and people and experiences.

I’m not going to deaden this by putting a schedule on it. Suffice to say that when something occurs to me, I explore it. A new hobby? An interesting person? A novel idea? I’m a sleuth for interesting experiences and each one I pick up only leads to bigger and greater delights.

7. Control

This is the other card in the evil side’s deck, supporting the first card of boredom. Control by family, by employers, by social norms, by stereotypes. It kills the spirit, it kills my soul and it damages my creativity.

I don’t have a plan to avoid every instance of being controlled by another person or entity. But when I do face one of them, I intend to stand my ground and not cave. Enough died, already.

8. Other people’s problems

Egos. Insecurities. Complexes. Weaknesses. Negative sentiments. I’ve had a strange affinity for all of these from other people. That, coupled with the ability to absorb and expand on all, I feel like I’ve been quite a bundle of other people’s nerves.

It’s rather tricky detaching oneself from these things without imposing emotional distance from them. I don’t get it most of the time. What’s more, standing up for myself has never come easy (no matter what the image may dictate).

No plan on this one either. Just the will to oppose it and hope that practice will make perfect.

9. High bills on clothes, makeup and socializing

This I really, really don’t need. I am no shopaholic but after a decade of denial, I decided to indulge. Now I think, enough of self-pampering and now for some balanced restraint.

This is the other aspect of keeping away financial worries – curbing the unnecessary outgoing along with building the possible incoming. I don’t really have to have expensive shoes that only last a month. Mumbai roads make dust of everything and none of the big shops guarantee any quality on this terrain. High-voltage partying has never been my scene and mercifully the social circle I move around in, doesn’t really cotton to it either. Mostly I am now okay with saying that I can’t afford it and so I won’t. Out with the fabulous lifestyle, in with some peace of mind.

10. Goodbyes to people I’m close to

This is more a fearful wish than an intelligent item on the planning list. Six months of 2010 were spent in trying to cope with saying goodbye to good friends, to notions of loyalty, to dreams of greatness. I know I learn from each of these experiences. But I’ve had a rough, really rough enough ride of it. I’m not sure I’m ready for another dose, just yet.

I can’t think of anything to put under 11 so this is going to be a list of 10. That’s my bit for letting go of control (even my own OCDness)!

Tiny Tales: Emderatology

Close to midnight on Saturday, the coffee server on duty reported two dead people in the shop. The couple had been seated in the back booth of the cafe for over three hours, he recalled. When asked why she didn’t report it earlier, she said that she only noticed when he went over to tell them that it was closing time.

Inspector Clue-so deduced that the death must have happened a few minutes prior, when the couple was presented with the bill, since the bodies had not started ‘to steenk up the place and were probably ‘fresh’. This theory however, was dropped when the young server pointed out that both bodies were freezing cold and rigor mortis had set in. The lady, who admits to being a investigor in her sparetime (which she says is more than the time the job takes), was quoted as saying

“They were just sitting there staring at each other. For all I know, they had died ages ago but I just thought they were in love.”

Investigating experts were confounded by the abnormally red colour on the cheeks of the deceased. It was surmised that the excess rush of blood to the face caused the brain to stop functioning. Two slimy, fist-sized objects were also found fallen between the table and the wall, which were later identified as human hearts. Speaking to this publication, the coroner said,

“I must admit I was surprised to see two bodies without hearts inside them. How they came to remove their hearts I will never be able to tell. No wonder they died. Poor things.”

It wasn’t until the police began interviewing the friends of the couple that the truth emerged. The first to come under suspicion was Mr.McMohan, a close pal of the male victim, aided by the fact that his first reference to the victim was that he was staying at his place but was in the toilet at that moment. This charge was however dropped when it was revealed that the victim often used this as an alibi to explain his social activities to his family. On hearing the charge, he confessed that he himself had been in Pune all weekend (even at the time of the call) and could present an alibi but which he requested not be revealed to his family.

Following this train of thought, Inspector Clue-so next went to the best friend of the deceased lady. This was the turning point of the case (and also what salvaged the good Inspector’s career from the wreck of the first hypothesis). The best friend (name withheld on request) explained the history of the two dead people.

“I didn’t even realize that they were still in touch but it must be recent. They haven’t met since they broke up ten years ago. After all the drama is over, you really don’t want to face the person you shared your first awkward kiss with. It’s dreadfully embarrassing meeting that one particular ex-, you know.”

Wrapping up the case, Inspector Clue-so was quoted as saying,

“And ze key to ze mystery was found zere. You see, ze two people entered ze shop separately but it was very crowded. Zen ze spotted each other and thinking eet rude to do ozzerwize, decided to share a table. Zat is why our esteemed young friend behind ze counter does not remember zem coming in together. Ze got to ze table and discussed ze weather and how heeedeeous zis year’s fashion week was.”

The reporter interrupted this account to ask how he arrived at this conclusion and was rewarded with the following explanation.

“Because of zis.”

said Inspector Clue-so holding up a promotional leaflet whose copies were on all the tables of the shop. The image showed a boy and girl both wearing jeans. Both characters bore penmarks on them, depicting a different set of clothing.

“Obviously zey had good taste.”

said the Inspector with a distinct sniff.

“After zat, zey must have run out of topics. Ze young man had just broken up with his girlfriend, as was told to us by his friend in Pune. Ze young lady in turn was considering breaking up with her boyfriend. Zen zey found each other. Eet was like fate! But memories prevailed. Ze embarrassment of zere last encounter and all ze memories of the years after zat. Ze emotions must have been overwhelming. Hysteria built up inside both of zem till zey could take it no more! Both of zem blushed and blushed till zere hearts could take it no more and then zere hearts jumped out of zere mouths at the same time! And zey died of extreme embarrassment!”

As a reward for her help, the young coffee server has been deputed to be a trainee under the brilliant Inspector, starting next Monday.

————————————————————————

Note: The science of embarrassment is called emderatology.

BlogAdda 3: Protecting Your Privacy

My third post is up on BlogAdda. Last week I talked about how to build accessibility for a blog through feeds and link-sharing mechanisms. This week I take a look at the exact opposite.

While the internet opens you up to a broad range of people and experiences, it also leaves you open to a number of undesirable elements. Fortunately, filtering mechanisms are available that can help you tailor your online presence with the level of accessibility and privacy that suits you the best. Privacy is as relevant an issue as accessibility and I felt that after talking about how to make one’s blog visible, it was vital to know how to also protect oneself online.

(Click here to read the post)

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A Laundered Life

I feel like my life is being scrubbed with a very hard brush and industrial-strength detergent.

It’s almost mid-way through 2010 and I’m hoping the rest of this year speeds by quickly. It really hasn’t been a good time at all. I feel like everything around me is dropping away, one by one. The job is over and the longer I stay home, the more distanced I feel from that ambitious, aggressive person I was at work. Some days I feel like all those things were done by another person. I can’t imagine standing up and talking to a crowd of people, of taking charge of a team, of coping with a death and supporting a whole group of other people. Was that really me?

I feel like people and relationships are just slipping away from me. The best friend moved to another continent. She and I are just the same and yet, she feels so far away, so disconnected.

Astra, my lovely witch, and I parted ways. I miss her often but I know I can’t go back to her. If it makes sense and if I anticipated it and I know it can’t change, why does it hurt so much?

My fascinating muse has left. I find myself thinking about him often but again, I think of our last conversation and I know I’m never going to reach out to him. You were wrong, we so didn’t get past this.

I’ve been going through dates in a crazy way. None of them have hurt at all. I decided to call it off  and when I went to meet him, the first thing he said is that we should stop dating. It didn’t even hurt my ego, let alone my heart. Nothing touches me anymore.

A distant cousin was in Mumbai this morning and he mentioned a yahoogroup I had set up ages ago of my cousins. I had forgotten about it so I went to look it up. I found a whole list of groups of people who used to matter in various ways. I set up most of those groups. I was a born social networker, long before it became a marketable skill.

Notably, I rediscovered the college group. There were lots of photographs in one, an albumful that I’d uploaded. It appalled me that I couldn’t remember the names of many of the people in those pictures.

Remember the Bihari boy from Delhi? Quiet and gentle and soft-spoken. He once told me about his family in Ranchi and his hardships, being an unpopular minority citizen. I remember he was one of the few people who actively tried to keep in touch after college and was very kind to me when he learnt about the break-up. I remember him telling me that I was sinking, cutting off the world and I should make an effort to reach out and come back to life. I still can’t place his name and it’s driving me nuts.

I remembered the one other person apart from Best Friend that I was in touch with and I called him. I asked if we could catch up tomorrow since I’d be in his part of town. I last met him a few months back, after I took my break. Our meetings have always been this way – I call him when I’m in his area or think of him. But he’s never once called. He told me he was busy but if he wasn’t travelling and if he didn’t have meetings and if he managed to finish work, he’d stop by. I don’t know why this particular time should have hit me but it did. I told him I didn’t like that I kept calling and he never called. It snowballed into a fight where he kept saying things like “I never call anybody”, “Tum log sab mujhe phone karke aise nahin bol sakte ho”. I ended up hanging up really, really angry and hurt. I deleted his number. And I feel like shit.

I just had a thought as I was typing this out. It feels like I’m facing some kind of karmic retribution for running after all the wrong people and ignoring the ones who really cared. What do I do now? How do I break out of this? And what could I have done back then? I didn’t know, I so didn’t know.

God, but it isn’t the same thing typing all this out in an email or a post. What’s the point in a long list of Facebook Friend acquaintances when the only person you really have left to talk to, is a blog?

I miss people, the real people. My people.

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