Tag Archives: Relationships

Being The Story

Yesterday I ran into a friend. The last time we met, this friend visited me at a new home I was building. I was also newly engaged. So obviously, that would be the starting point of our conversation, a picking up where the thread dropped off. I rolled my eyes wryly and said,

“So much has happened since then. I don’t live there anymore. I’m not engaged anymore.”

My friend’s immediate, almost urgent reply was,

“My good friend is close to him so I will not comment.”

I have navigated hundreds of such conversations in the past six years.

I had a (somewhat) public relationship. Given that I write about relationships and the fact that they form such an important part of my existence, I found it hard not to. Shutting up about that would essentially mean to quit blogging, which would be akin to losing a kidney, a limb and maybe a few other vital organs. But my partner was not an open individual (quite the opposite) and I felt I had to respect his privacy too. So I have never mentioned him by name and I have only sparingly offered details of our relationship, while trying to be honest and open about my own feelings and thoughts (these are mine and I’ve never felt the need to have anyone else’s permission to share them). This has been the trickiest juggling I’ve done in all my adventures with anonymity since I began in 2004.

I didn’t have a chance to think about how this would turn out, if we parted ways. And given how suddenly everything crashed, I barely made it out alive, let alone with enough stability to think clearly. The thing with sudden disasters is that you don’t get time to stop and collect your thoughts. The world hits you with life, even as you’re still lying on the ground with your heart ripped open, bleeding from wounds you didn’t even realise had opened up and were being systematically poisoned. You just learn to cope and hope to heal on the fly, as you get carried along on the rollercoaster ride called life.

In six years, I have run into, got back in touch with and in some way reconnected with possibly hundreds of people. Most people in my world have some connection to my narrative through my blogs, my work and having interacted with me on digital. I have tried to keep my narrative as true to myself but it has to be a filtered, edited one, for reasons of safety and respecting the privacy of other people connected with me. This includes exes, even the ones who have behaved in very, very bad ways.

Last year a friend screenshotted something my ex had put up and sent it to me. I wish she hadn’t. I was not even thinking about him and seeing this forced me to remember his existence in an unnecessarily immediate and close way. She said she thought it would make me feel better but it didn’t.

A few months ago, somebody else told me about someone who liked my ex. They said they were concerned about this person and that they were making a terrible choice. I get that concern. But I don’t get what I am supposed to do in this. This story has nothing to do with me.

Now…

“My good friend is close to him so I will not comment.”

I felt knocked for a loop by my friend’s statement. Because I was starting a conversation and their response was a very clear iron-curtain style wall. The last thing that was called that was part of something the world knew as Cold War. Why did my friend feel the need to rush in with that statement when I had not even asked for comment? Possibly they thought I was seeking validation, asking for them to join me in bashing my ex. I wasn’t. I was just telling my story.

But, in the very act of writing this down, I feel my balance restore itself to normal. I cannot fault my friend for not thinking this through. After all, they haven’t seen me in years. I can also see the good intentions behind the actions of the other friends. They were offering commiseration in their own awkward ways. They were also trusting that I would act with sanity rather than viciousness and while that is overwhelming, it is also inspiring. Maybe I can be that person if people think I can be. I write a narrative that is one that inspires me. And I can only write it if I live it. I am so glad to be a writer.

 

The difficulty in writing your own story is having to explain every word and every edit. But maybe that is also the best thing about it. Remembering the story, that’s all that’s important. The story of me.

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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.

 

Stage Fright And A Lily

I found gratitude in February. Here are all things that were life last month.

A conversation on safe spaces – One of Mumbai’s performance/art spaces and Shamir’s former employer hosted a discussion on safety in performing spaces. We shared experiences, fears, ideas and some hopes for this landscape that we are all committed to.

SXArena: The Third Wheel, UnValentined! and Digital Dil – We decided to try a new format that included poetry, conversations and some simple games to explore ideas of sexuality and gender. The topics of our day were polyamory, relationships outside the primary romantic one, love in the times of hookup and connections beyond the commerce.

The SXonomics Show: Touch Me Not – We were invited to conduct a gender sensitisation drive for The Habitat. We rolled this out as a series of 1 hour shows that combine comedy, satire, music, poetry and dramatic performance to address hard questions. Our first show addressed sexual harassment. It received a good response and this very encouraging review. We have since done one more show on gender (im)balance and have another four coming up (every alternate Monday at The Habitat, 7:30PM).

We, The XX Chromosome: Women’s Web and SheThePeople hosted a two day Women Writers’ Festival 2018 and invited us to do a show themed ‘We, The XX Chromosome’. Our 45 minute performance addressed gender stereotyping, the casting couch, rape culture, outdated fairytales and consent violation.

I started a new friendship and that person came to one of our events just as a show of support. Their presence and their ideas expanded our world view on gender, sexuality and love.

I wasn’t nearly as good at the old friendships. I think after 2017, I found it hard to remember that there were still people who liked me and wanted to spend some moments of their lives with me. But friendliness came knocking in gentle, sweet ways. I went to another old friend’s birthday party without a gift because I had just had no time to get one. But on the way, I stopped and picked up a lily because it reminded me of her. She thanked me so many times, I felt bad that I had categorised our friendship as needing the commercial validation of a store-bought gift. And yesterday she told me that the flower had continued to bloom and spread its fragrance all across her house. This is so lovely.

We were featured in the press several times (1, 2, 3, 4). Ironically right after I posted this poem:

Let me just say life is mischievous at times. 😋

There are days when I fear getting carried away and that this will all crash land. I do love how much I’m learning, though. After a recent show, a member of the audience told us that she had seen one of our early performances and we had come a long way from that. That just feels so, so, so very good.

Every now and then, Ishmeet says or does something on stage and I marvel at how a mind can work and how a gesture or a facial expression can be used to convey an idea. It’s like learning a new language and I’ve always enjoyed that.

I am still awkward in my transitions on and off stage. But stage fright does not cripple me as badly now. I’m learning to enjoy even the mistakes I make, laugh at the times I am clumsy. And that’s the same lesson as life itself, isn’t it? Look up at the stars but also find time to laugh when you trip over the stones. And always, make room for the flowers.

Here’s a handful of SXonomics laughs coming your way. This is our first video.

What does the future hold? Well, Aadhar card linkages and income tax returns. But also four new SXonomics shows, SX-on-Mics (our first community event on Women’s Day) and more videos. And a lily or two.

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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.

Gudby 4 lyf

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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.

Picnic Blanket

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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.

 

Relationships Redefined – A SEXONOMICS Workshop

SEXONOMICS grew me as a performer and as a shaper of ideas and thought.  Ishmeet and I found that by pooling together our ideas, we came up with things bigger and better than each of us could manage. For instance, our first realisation was that we had gone beyond our individual identities as poets and ventured into the realm of drama. We were also pushing the envelope on the usual feminist discourse in our worlds, with satire, roleplay and more. This allowed us to talk about heavy topics like patriarchy, social structures and toxic gender roles but also stay accessible to our audiences.

Audiences across our performances have laughed with us, quoted lines from our acts in casual conversations later and on the whole, told that they enjoyed watching us.

We think our next step is to bring our listeners into our story and make all of you active participants in it too. So our next venture is an audience-interactive/performance based workshop titled ‘Relationships Redefined‘. We are going to explore the nature of intimacy, relationship expectations and the pitfalls and adventures that we each go through in our quest for a romantic partner. If you’ve been following my/our journey so far, please come be part of this next SEXONOMICS adventure!

BeHiver presents Relationships Redefined – A SEXONOMICS Workshop

Date: Saturday, 16 June 2017
Time: 6PM – 8PM
Venue: QTube, Bandra West
Fee: Rs.500/-
Registration: You must be above 18 years of age. Please carry a proof of identity. Call Aniruddha Chatterjee at +91-9769118555 to register your seat.
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/581000048898732/

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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.

Thank You For The Ghosts

I spoke to her today. It wasn’t as unthinkable as I imagined, over a year ago. She told me the email I sent her a fortnight ago sounded like I did not want to hear from her. I said, that was probably true.

“When things happen, I deal with them in a certain way. I go into a shell. In time, I am ready to look. But not be looked that. That takes a little longer.”

She said she would need sometime to understand that. And that’s okay.

This would probably have happened in some way or the other. As it turns out, how it happened was that a common friend told that that I was being to her, how someone else is being to me at this moment. I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about ghosting and gaslighting. These are things that we do, while also universally acknowledging that they are horrible actions. But maybe we do these because we really can’t do anything else at that time.

Match this with our superegoistic belief that everything that happens to us is our fault (because we have to feel like we can control everything, right?) But this is not true. Sometimes people are not thinking about us when they treat us badly. Sometimes they are not even seeing us, blinded by their own lives. Maybe this is nothing more than a bus running over tiny creatures in its path, its riders not intending to hurt but not really seeing or even being able to care about the casualties of their journey.

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

Last month I spotted another ex friend who had ghosted me. After dozens of conversations about life, love, work and existential angst and wine, she didn’t bother to invite me to her wedding. I found out about it when a stranger contacted me asking if I was still in touch with her. I passed right by and sat down at the table next to her for half an hour before I noticed who was next to me. It was awkward for awhile but maybe that’s just me. Perhaps I am dead to her for reasons I will never know. Perhaps I never existed in her world. Maybe people can achieve complete erasures.

But I think that’s only possible when your mind is so crammed with so many things that you block out the view of what is right in front of you. Well, that’s okay too. I love airy, wide spaces but I live in a city that thrives on cramped quarters. Each to their own space. And mindspace.

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

I attended a funeral today. This was not someone that I was close to but they died of unnatural causes and very young. So I’ve had a chance to mull over a profound experience without being overrun by it. Maybe life is kind in ways we can’t quite see.

I’ve always abhorred the living’s reactions. Loud, emotional scenes scare me. They make pain and grief into larger-than-life monsters. I dealt with the first death in my adult life (my grandfather’s) by being efficient. I saw to visitors, I answered questions, I made people eat and drink water, I tended to the cleaning and putting away of things. I was punished over and over with accusations of being cold and uncaring by the very same people who I was helping. I stayed angry for a long time over it. The same people playing that wretched game of ‘My sad is sadder than yours’ do not live with the heavy burden of feeling like they haven’t done enough. I do. They have the luxury of theatrics, holding the world to ransom with their tears and shrieks because someone else is willing to pay the price – the price of holding the world together while they bash away against it.

I realised today that this is my way of coping just as the theatrics are some (weak, selfish) people’s way of coping. Being efficient makes me feel like I can control something. Death, no matter how distant, shakes our foundations and reminds us of how little we have control. What does this have to do in a post about ghosting? It is all about the sudden shock of distance, isn’t it? And what’s more shocking and distant than death?

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

Someone who discarded me two years ago is waving furtively to me with likes on social media. I am not ready to go there. Well, actually I don’t want to. But what if I don’t have a choice? If people will go away without my being able to control it, maybe I also have no control over people coming back. It’s a horrid thought that life at large, has no concept of consent. I hate that the future is not a clean, straight line but may involve zigging and zagging and backtracking and U-turns and what not.

I am feeling my age a lot these days. 38 sounds like a very large age to be. But another part of me is relieved that The Thirty Diaries are drawing to a close. I think I will not do a Forty Diaries, counting off the milestones when my life map is so chaotic.

Maybe all we all need is time. If nothing else, time allows runaway emotions and stray ideas to settle. Time lets us reflect and clean our minds if we so choose. And time gives us perspective and clarity. And then, it’s up to us to choose what to do with a brand new day – a new possibility or even one that we thought we lost awhile ago. I wish us all the stillness that comes after we’ve regained peaceful breaths.

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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.

Love As A Matter of Habit

UntitledA doctor friend defined love as ‘primarily a form of OCD’. I pondered over the idea for a week and indeed, it gave me a way out of the end-of-love situation I was facing at that time.

When I’m facing the inevitable disillusionment, discontent and general dissatisfaction that sets in after the dramatic highs of the sort of relationships I get into, I know this. I know I’ll get over it, eventually. I can even estimate how long it’s likely to take me. What I didn’t know until the doctor’s prescription, is how I would get to that place of ‘over it’. Do I know now? I suppose I do. If love is just another form of OCD, a habit, I can figure it out. I know about making and breaking habits. Goals work for me, organising is my strength. I just have to focus on what parts of the person or relationship constitute habit in my life and figure out ways to get out of those habits.

I need to stop eating that particular food for about six weeks so it doesn’t immediately pull up the memory of him cooking it for me. Because then when my body is processing the dopamine hit from the food, my brain connects it to his memory and to him. Break that pattern, learn a new one. I’m so Pavlovian.

I‘ve never been addicted to any of the common afflictions around. I’ve tried most of them and I still dabble as often and as much as I want. It’s not that I have stronger willpower than most people. It is that I know how to manage habit. I’m good at organising actions, thoughts and motivations into bite-sized pieces and feeding them to myself (or other people, if required) in a staggered out way. It requires a fine blend of deprivation in tiny quantities and rewards on a periodic basis. It’s not rocket science and I am good at it.

I am speaking often now to a former love. He’s going through some hard times right now. Off and on over the past few years, we’ve reconnected briefly. A lunch here, a movie there, coffee and some messages. Then we get into newer habits with other people and lose touch till the next time we reconnect. I think it suits us, not making a habit of each other.

I spoke to another ex today, who is married to a friend of mine. I set boundaries in this relationship by changing or insisting on certain times, places and conversations. We only ever meet outside homes. Only sit on opposite sides of a table. No hugs except at the end of a meeting. We discuss the past in detail but the present, only superficially. This relationship gets defined by the habits we both agree to. Periodically he breaks a habit and in response, I create a new one. We stay in balance.

And finally, this now explains my restlessness at the start of any relationship when nice things get done and said. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it. But I fear that it will turn into a habit that I become dependent on. And who knows better than I, how acutely messing up a schedule can hit you?

This works for me. The only trouble is, I draw people who are the exact opposite of me. People who enjoy the excuses and hiding places that chaos, the lack of habit/OCD affords them. Then again, I suppose you could say I enjoy solving puzzles and what are relationships like these but puzzles to be solved?

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

* 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.

People I’ve Unfriended On Facebook

  • Classmates I only accepted requests from because we got tagged in old photos. They weren’t nice to me in school, I don’t want them around.
  • People I met at some event with whom I haven’t interacted again. If we need to speak again, one of us will find the other sure enough.
  • Colleagues from zillion jobs ago. Go, LinkedIn!
  • Friends of exes. Yes, truly done suffering.
  • One time crushes or flames who are married. What’s the point? (yes, I am that cold)
  • People I just don’t like. Maybe I never did or maybe this is recent. I don’t have to explain.
  • Friends who are not anymore. How many of these there have been in the past year! Maybe I was long overdue a life spring-cleaning. Sigh.
  • Spouses, siblings and other associations via the above people. Keep it clean and brutal, make it good.

I’m reclaiming the word ‘Friend’. A friend is someone whose life is engaged with mine, not just connected via digital bytes. Friendship cannot get by on nostalgia or long redundant promises. It certainly is not worth dragging along relationships that have thrown up more than their fair share of resentment, anger and hurt.

I’ve decided it is also okay for me to hold up certain things as standards for people in my life. No lies, no backbiting, no cheating, no pettiness. I bend over backwards to avoid doing these and I have the right to expect it from other people. Lying is a big deal for me and it’s time I let it become the deal-breaker too.

There are new people in there, of course. These are people I see the possibility of really sharing life experiences, with. These may be people I know from work, common acquaintances or events I’ve been to. But there has been something in our last conversations that makes me think, there could be more. If someone has faded to being one of the numbers or I feel like I’ve faded similarly in their life, I’ve hit UNFRIEND.

Relationships matter to me as do words. A cluttered friends list means a diluted life for me. To give someone I don’t like much or who I feel doesn’t treat me well or to whom I’m indifferent, the same access to my life that I give the people who matter to me — this seems disrespectful of these important relationships. And they wear me down. So goodbye, everyone who has ceased to matter and thank you for having passed through my life in whatever way you did. Go in peace, fare well and don’t look back. I won’t.

Sept Shorts01: Everyone’s Got A Back-up Plan

I set myself a writing challenge of producing a short story a day, back in May. I didn’t manage to do them all but that exercise did result in 20 short stories, spanning different genres, collectively called the MayShortReads. It was an immensely exciting exercise and I propose to do that again. So here’s to the September Shorts. You can expect one every day (or night) this month. I’d love to hear your comments. And if you’d like to jump in, a fellow runner…errm, writer is always a fun companion to have on an exercise such as this. Now, on to the story…

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

Nyssa taps her mouse. She clicks her tongue, annoyed at the new email that comes slithering into her mailbox. Varun, walking down the corridor stops a few feet short of her cubicle and looks at the papers in his hand. Waiting, waiting.

Sure enough, Nyssa looks up a few seconds later. As he has calculated, she seems relieved for a chance to unburden her woes. Varun to the rescue, he whoops to himself as he walks up to what he hopes will be a welcoming smile.

It’s the Operations Manager this time. He’s refusing to release the orders. Varun swoops in to save the day. A phone call will set that right, he assures her. Nyssa smiles.

“Thanks, Varun! You’re awesome, buddy.” she trails away in a cloud of perfume and pre-date excitement, before he has a chance to propose dinner.

Varun signs out of work in the office register, over an hour later, the scowl writ large on his face. It has taken more than a phone call to set that mess right.  “I’m sick of being her bloody Plan B.” he mutters to himself. He yanks out his phone and taps out a message. He hits send and turns to the television screen mounted on the wall.

“What are you wearing right now? That’s all he wants to know. I haven’t heard from him in a week and now this. What am I wearing right now. He couldn’t even be bothered with calling.”

Meghna’s voice rises with each full stop but she doesn’t care. She has spent the last half an hour, carefully crafting messages that sound just the right balance of sexy, aloof, interested and sympathetic. All to no avail. She’s spending Friday night by herself.

“I’m just his fucking back-up plan, that’s all.” she sobs.

Tasneem sighs, “Don’t do that to yourself, Meghna. Don’t do it. Why don’t you come over? I’ve made some biryani. We’ll watch a movie together.”

Meghna sniffs, unhearing. “No, I don’t feel like getting out now. Back-up plan, that’s all I am. He couldn’t even be bothered to come over.” and she hangs up to luxuriate in her puddle of woe.

Tasneem puts her phone away thinking, “Neither can you.” She picks up the half-eaten plate of biryani and takes it to the kitchen. Twenty minutes later, she has scrubbed every utensil clean and wiped down the counter. There’s nothing on TV and it’s no fun watching a movie all by herself. She picks up the phone and looks at the time. It’s too late for a call, she tells herself. Shareen won’t like it. She taps out a message instead.

“Bhai, how are you?”

And she isn’t surprised when the phone rings in less than five minutes. At least her conscience is clear.

Shareen scowls at her husband’s back but straightens her face out immediately. There’s no telling what he’ll do if he catches that expression on her face. She is just too tired for another fight. He has left the movie hall now though so she brings out her phone. It feels like she’s just watching one screen after another, all by herself. The intermission arrives and he still hasn’t returned. She gets up to stretch her legs and walks out. He’s standing near the pillar, absorbed in conversation on the phone. And she thinks what she only lets herself think in the privacy of bathrooms. Her husband should have married that ‘muh-boli behen’ of his, instead of her. What is she after all, but a substitute life partner?

She looks at her phone, the abysmally small list of numbers permitted on it. And as usual, she dials the first one.

“Ammi, how are you? Were you sleeping?”

Of course not, she is assured. A few seconds of someone wanting to hear her voice is all that’s needed. Shareen takes a deep breath and answers, yes, everything is well, they’re watching a movie, no it’s okay, don’t rush for it, wait till it comes out on TV. And then, noticing the crowds retreating into the hall, she ends the conversation and says goodbye.

On another tiny screen, a picture of Shareen comes up as wallpaper as the phone call disconnects. Her mother looks at the picture, wishing she could hear Shareen more often and not just see her in this picture. It’s a picture taken at Shareen’s wedding, two years earlier. They haven’t seen her since then. She lies awake for a long time, thinking about the last two years.

In the morning, she has put her worries out of her head. There’s another daughter to be seen to, as well, after all. If only she didn’t insist on being so stubborn. By nine o’clock, breakfast is ready and so is the agenda for the weekend. It’s time to look for a bridegroom, no more messing around.

“You will also get up earlier every day now and learn to cook. Why can’t you be more like your sister?”

Nyssa turns away from her mother’s tirade. Her sister must have called last night, she surmises, as the fresh wave of parental zeal comes her way. She had hoped to talk to them about Ranjit over the weekend but clearly this is not the day. She sighs as her mother straightens the picture of Shareen on the dressing table.

What is she but the under-achieving daughter after all? The back-up child, that’s all.

Watch and Phone

Watch and Phone (Photo credit: █ Slices of Light █▀ ▀ ▀)

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