Forgiveness

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Who came up with the term “forgive and forget”? Forgiveness, I understand as a hypothetical concept. But how do you forget? That is how history repeats itself. Over and over again. But hey, someone warned against that as well. Maybe it was the same person. But if he did forget, how did he know history is repeating itself?

Ok. Ok. That isn’t what the post is about.

When someone hurts us deeply, the fantasy is that they will realize what assholes they have been and apologize. Though, I have never apologized to anyone. Made up with them years later and tried to be a better human being with them? Sure. Apologized? No. That happens only in movies, I assumed. Until someone whose apology I had fantasized about actually said “Sorry”. Not in the way men usually do. Most men know that “Sorry” works beautifully with women. Most married men have learned this secret and they say “Sorry” at the drop of a hat. Not that kind of fake and pretend “Sorry”. But a genuine one. Out of the blue. I didn’t ask for it. I wasn’t being mean and nasty about how things had ended. I was at a stage where I barely remembered and nothing in my life or personality was affected by incidents that happened when I was 17+ years of age.

Instead of being gracious, my reaction was “this is too little, a little too late”. It isn’t a reaction am proud of. Very few humans are self aware and know or care when they’ve hurt someone. Let’s face it. At the core of it, we are all terrible people. We are opportunists who will hurt whoever we can to get what we want. Period. So, when someone wants to make amends for their shitty behavior, the least one can do is be polite about it. I wasn’t. Because there was nothing to forgive anymore. It didn’t matter. It would have meant more, so much more if the apology had come when I was hurting. Any scraps of kindness thrown my way would have been appreciated and made me feel better.

What is the point when that part of life feels like a distant dream? But usually fantasies come true when we stop caring about them.

That’s life.


Lost my tooth, not the wisdom

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It was 1st Jan and like an irresponsible child I mentioned to my parents the need to see a dentist. One day before my flight. One whole day after I arrived. There was a debate on whose dentist is better, Dad or Mom’s. Mom pushed hard for her guy while Dad stayed quiet. I had enough of bad dentists in Mumbai and wanted to see a good one. The appointment was taken for 5 pm. At 4:45 pm, Dad called from downstairs.

Yes, people. In small towns, one lives in big houses which have an upstairs and downstairs and those are connected by actual phones. The ground floor is Dad’s hospital. Not a clinic. An actual, fully equipped hospital. The 1st floor has more hospital rooms and an empty section has been rented (sold?) out to another doctor for his HOSPITAL (not clinic). The 2nd floor is where the house begins. The 3rd floor is the terrace converted into 3 rooms when marriage was on the cards for my sister and the 4th floor is the terrace. I am not boasting. As someone who has spent a considerable amount of her independent life in a 1bhk and the current 1900 sq feet flat seems really, really huge in comparison; am in awe that people can still live this lavishly

I use my phone’s hotspot to connect to Netflix on the TV. My parents are the last, loyal customers of BSNL. Even BSNL is now begging them to switch but dad refuses to give up. Hopefully, my constant praises of Airtel broadband means this is the last month for BSNL in that house.

Airtel, I demand an influencer fee

I turn on Soorma for Mom to watch, change out of my old Zara shrug and put on a newer (=worn less but bought around the same time) Zara cardigan because Mom criticised it. This is a habit that has been inherited. I critic KC’s clothes and make sure he is well dressed at all times. And when he is not, point it out to him. So, no shorts to a mall in Gurgaon unless they are classy and stylish. Though in Mumbai, he could wear whatever he wants because the standards are so low. Every time I have to remind him “Pretend like we will be going back to Gurgaon and keep your dressing standards high. Even in Mumbai”. Kolkata is a stylish city so we are trying to up our dressing game after a year of dressing shabbily.

Dad drives me to the dentist, like he drove me to the stadium for a morning run AND waited for me to finish my run. I am escorted everywhere like a spoiled child. My whole life I have craved for independence but in my mid 30s, this treatment makes me feel special. If any other man insisted on doing this for me, it would be very, very irritating and annoying.

The hospital is a Father-son duo practice with 2 other dentists joining them. I had seen the dentist at Raheja hospital in Mahim a few months after my issue started. She didn’t charge me, did some cleaning and gave kindergarten level advice. A month later, I was back and begged her to take money and give me some REAL advice and treatment. But she just smiled and sent me on my way.

This dentist didn’t pull any punches and said “You should get that wisdom tooth extracted”

Me : Ok. I have a flight at 4 pm but can I come early morning tomorrow?

Him : Sure

Dad : Why tomorrow? Get it done now.

Me : Wait. Hold on. I don’t even have my phone with me. (Priorities!!!)

Dad : You will board a flight few hours after a surgery tomorrow. Better to get it done now and have a whole night to recuperate. Or are your afraid?

(Nobody can manipulate you like your parents. Sometimes, knowingly. In this case, unknowingly).

Me : Of course, am not afraid. Bring on the needles. Right into my mouth. We are doing this. Right now. Who needs a few hours to mentally prepare? Not me, for sure.

The father called his son and within 15 mins, I was surrounded by 4 people peering into my mouth. I wondered what it would have been like to become a dentist. Dad’s hospital could have been converted into my practice. There would be no taxes to pay. A small town with a metro town 75 km away and a lavish lifestyle. I mean, 1.5 hours travel one way in a city like Mumbai is a daily hustle without 1/10th of the perks. This was one of the paths I could have gone down. Because admission into dental with my 12th marks was a real possibility. In fact, admission into medical was a real possibility if I didn’t have principles like not taking admission on donation. Every educated member of my family (less than 5 people) tried to convince me pursue a career in dental. But I had my heart set on journalism. I wanted to study literature and write and be a pauper sharing a flat with 10 other people in a rundown, unsafe building. Was the current life and career better than either of these paths? Is a career more fulfilling looking at unhygienic mouths vs licking dirty asses? There are no clear winners (or losers) in this comparative study.

45 mins later they were done and my wisdom tooth emerged victorious. I saw it lying on the dentist’s tray, all bloody and twisted. Dad was sitting patiently behind. He offered to pay the Father dentist but the money was turned down.

Dad : Please let me pay

Him : No. No. We won’t charge you for the skill. Do you charge for skill when we visit your hospital?

My father is a paediatrician and while he is very good, the amount of effort required for diagnosing and treating a kid doesn’t match up to how much effort the dentist put into the surgery. But he didn’t let my dad pay. And I didn’t want to offer to pay dad back because there is no way he would have let me. He would have laughed instead. “Look at this child of mine, trying to me pay me back peanuts”.

But that is how small towns work. Connections and socialising translates into a barter system which does not involve money. Dad’s free treatment to people of some social standing, relatives, acquaintances translates into my never having to stand in a queue in any government office. We get escorted to the front of the queue during voting, we sit in the AC office of the RTO guy while my driving license gets renewed etc etc. Money isn’t everything here. Our caste, religion, education, connections, social standing along with wealth is our identity. Sure, my Dad was the one who started from scratch (mostly) but his caste and religion are inherited. All of his and my mom’s efforts make our lives easier in that state. We could have done what many others do, stayed in this orbit and propelled ourselves forward. But all of us chose to leave and start new, independent lives mostly based on merit, out of reach of our parents’ influence.

On some days, it seems like the stupidest thing we have done.

On other days, not so much.


Bucket list for 2020

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I can’t enter the New Year without a to do list, so here it is:

  1. Read good books. Quality over quantity. Read 50 books I can rate 4+ out of 5 on Goodreads.
  2. Read authors of various nationalities. Get introduced to books by more authors.
  3. Try and write everyday – either in a journal or on this blog.
  4. Go on a trek this year
  5. Take a solo trip
  6. Explore all the great places in the Eastern part of the country. Make a monthly trip plan.
  7. Get back to the earlier fitness levels.
  8. Get to full form full range push ups
  9. Run 700 km this year without half marathons
  10. Run in 10 different and new cities/towns this year
  11. Bake a new recipe every month
  12. Avoid conflict with family as much as possible.
  13. Donate to a charity
  14. Stop shopping for clothes and shoes. Get to zero impulse shopping this year.
  15. Maintain a strict work life balance. Remind myself everyday that as much as I’d like it, the organization will not fall apart if I leave work on time.
  16. Take lesser bullshit from men this year. There is always scope for improvement on this front because men continue to be shitty.
  17. Avoid liqour, late nights, boring conversations and anything that takes me away from my hobbies and goals.
  18. Continue to de-clutter people from my life without guilt
  19. Network more. Network better. But with the right people.
  20. Get a dog. Top priority.

That’s it. Good night.

 

 


New year, new me. Same old bullshit

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If you are here to read about how much I have “learned” this year, then you are at the wrong blog. Not that blogs even exist now. The decade is ending, I should move on but am not ready yet. Unless you want to offer your technological expertise and help shift all the posts from the last 13 years to somewhere safe, am staying right here.

It was shitty year and I should talk about the positives or about the fact that things turned out ok. But life is about one shit replacing the last one. Only our memories are short so we forget. Not going to be this generous with 2019.

But tonight, am going to make my resolutions for 2020. It will be usual bullshit – run more, read more, workout more, write more, blah blah blah. Nothing new. Drop in if your NYE sucks.

Anyway, ciao. I would like to finish reading the last book of 2019 and get one goal ticked off.


Heroes don’t exist

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I like to figure people out. Those who seem like a puzzle holding onto their deepest, darkest secrets like it is the last piece of chocolate make me uncomfortable. When their words don’t match their actions and they aren’t consistent, I don’t trust them. No matter how genuine they may seem on the surface. However trustworthy.

But this post isn’t about them. It is about people I have known and liked for a very long time. But after years of seeing only the best about them, I can see the chinks in their armour and get a glimpse into their core. And it is not good. Hell, it is ugly. Worse, the stereotypes are bang on. What do I do now? It is so ugly it makes me want to cry. I want to shake them hard and scream “You too? Really?”

  • Put the peeled layers back and pretend like I saw nothing? That isn’t hard, you know

  • Cut myself off but pretend like everything is ok till it is convenient for me?

  • Avoid all situations which demand proximity? After all, it is a busy life and avoiding someone isn’t that hard.

It is sad when heroes and mentors fall from their pedestal. When adulthood means being let down one more time.


Not hating my body so much anymore

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This post is getting typed while am half asleep so please ignore any typos. I guess most of the posts are going to mention sleep since it is such an important part of life. Atleast the sleep at night. Am not a fan of daytime naps.

This was the only week I didn’t spend hating on my body in the entire year. I hate what I have done to it because of stress, lack of proper nutrition and workouts. It has been hard being consistent despite the lack of fast progress. The difference between earlier period and now is that, earlier I had zero expectations. I had no idea how far I could go or what kind of progress I could see. Any small change was good enough. But now there is a milestone and once I reach there, there will be more.

This post is about where am today. Today, am happy with what my body looks like. My hips look taut and round (thanks to lots and lots of squats), the shoulders are rounded, the double chin has reduced, clothes fit and look better, collar bones are visible. The only con is losing inches on my boobs but some of my favourite dresses fit better and my chest doesn’t feel suffocated. It has taken weeks of workouts, tracking macros, eating 2-4 eggs and whey protein, counting every calorie and planning each meal. Am looking forward to the next phase. But today feels good. Today am proud of where I am and can see the significant progress that has been made.

PS : This post has been written after bingeing on fried rice, momos and a piece of plum cake with hot chocolate. But tomorrow is a new day with the opportunity to start afresh.

Good night.


Guilty

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It is way past my bedtime and am sorely going to regret being up this late when the morning run will be skipped. But, the guilt of not writing anything for one more night would have weighed heavily on my mind.

The weeks prior to this one were hectic with work and socialising. I decided to put a hard stop to work this week every evening, no matter what. Not just because I wanted to hit the gym and eat home cooked dinner every night but because I set the culture for my team. Sure, am new in the role, enthusiastic and want to do 100 things in the shortest time possible. But that is unfair to the people around me. Unlike me, they have friends and families to go back to. My working late puts the pressure on the others to stay back late in office. Most of my responsibilities are dependent on other people and not done individually. As hard as it is to come to terms with, the organisation is not going to fall apart if I end work on time. But my life, hobbies, goals, dreams and relationships surely will.

It has been a good week when there was sufficient time to workout, eat home cooked meals, read and Netflix. The only thing left out was blogging/writing. I wish I could write everyday. No matter what. Just 15 mins. That is it. Why is it so hard? Why does the thought of putting words on paper or typing them out exhaust me? Isn’t writing supposed to be rejuvenating? Or is it about taking the first step and everything else will follow? Just open the journal and stare at it for 5 mins. Everyday. Or open the webpage everyday? Let me try that.

People think spending time on social media is a waste of time and takes you away from more productive things. Social media makes me feel less lonely. I don’t feel the urge to resort to drinking or binge eating or calling random on my phone book. I guess, to each his/her own.

Ciao.


Exhaustion…. Anxiety… Or… Something else

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Last week was quite bad. I was working late hours to strike off everything on my “to do” list and my meals weren’t planned. But the worst part was not being able to get a workout in. I carried my gym bag to work everyday. All that had to be done was climb a few steps to the next floor and workout. Simple. But it didn’t happen because of exhaustion. It took hours of lounging around to push myself out of bed in the mornings. I was sore and weak. Low energy is the scariest thing in my life. Because am usually a very high energy person. What the hell was happening? Was I stressed? Do I need to slow down? Is it anxiety?

The questions were answered today when I started menstruating. It has been more than 20 years of hitting puberty and yet, every month the signs of PMS are different. Some months, the signs are emotional rather than physical. Why can’t they just be predictable? Thanks universe  for making it more difficult than it has to be.

I finished reading the book “She Said” by Jodi  Kantor and Megan Twohey. They are the journalists who investigated the charges of rape and sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein. They are credited with starting the “Me Too” movement. The book uncovers how a man with power, influence and money used it to harass women from all walks of life. Even actresses. The women kept shut because they were offered money for silence. If you can’t bring down the man on your own, there is no other option. The men around him brushed his behavior under the carpet. Men always, always band together and rarely step in.

There is so much I want to say about this issue but is there any point? Haven’t I raged and ranted enough?

Ciao.

 


Men explain things to me

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I was reading this book of essays by Rebecca Solnit when the news was filled with the latest Hyderabad gang rape. For once, I didn’t rant on social media. What is the point? It is exhausting. Year after year after year it is the same. The angrier we are, the less things seem to change. Many people would like to argue that rapes of Dalit or women from less privileged backgrounds don’t get half as much attention. I agree. But if a privileged women in a metro city running an errand at a decent hour, who called her sister and reached out for help can get raped and killed so easily; what hope is there for anyone else?

Rape is an extreme point of the problem. Rape isn’t the issue. Rape is the symptom of the problem. The problem is misogyny. The problem is patriarchy. And even the smallest form of patriarchy is part of the problem. And it is everywhere. Once you start identifying patriarchy, you can see it everywhere around you. And it is impossible to close your eyes to it. I fought with 2 brokers (mine and the owner’s) in Kolkata to remove Mrs in front of my name, write my name before KC’s on the rent agreement and replace “wife of” with “daughter of”. Why should his father’s name be on the agreement and not mine? I wish I could have fought to have my mother’s name included instead of father’s but that battle is a long way off. Every battle matters no matter how trivial it seems.

I thought I had read every thought on the topic of feminism. That nothing could surprise me but this book did.

  • The book talks about tracing the pattern of violence against women. Today, it is under categories- rape, marital rape, domestic violence, bride burning, dowry deaths etc etc. These are all part of the same problem. They are violence against women. More women have died due this compared to deaths in riots or The Holocaust. There are systems in place to prevent women from being treated like human beings. This isn’t a coincidence but by design.
  • The problem aren’t women. The problem are men. Our discourse continues to be about women as victims of violence instead of men who are violent. The problem isn’t the rape but the rapist. We need to start talking about men who rape instead of women who get raped. The % of women who are violent is far, far, far lower than the % of men of who are violent. Why aren’t we doing something about that? Why aren’t we inventing a vaccine or a drug to reduce the violent tendencies in men? Why isn’t there research to find out why men are so violent? Are they born violent or are they brought up to become violent?
  • Same sex partnerships have helped bring equality to heterosexual unions. This was a new of looking at homosexuality. Same sex marriages don’t have a gender imbalance. There is no power play due to gender. So, women in heterosexual relationships have realised that marriage can be between equals. It does not require sacrifice from someone due to their gender.

I don’t know about you but am tired of never leaving my balcony door open because am worried someone will climb 4 floors and try to rape me.

I am tired of being aware when I open my house door so nobody is lurking and tries to force their way in.

I am tired of requesting the househelp and cook to stick around till the male cleaner who washes the bathrooms leaves.

I am tired of being on my guard outside and inside my house at all times.

I am tired of knowing this isn’t going to change in my lifetime, atleast.

And I am tired of women who won’t use their privilege to fight against everything that is wrong with the world, in whatever way possible.

Posting the meme of “India’s daughter” amongst your chutiyaap IG stories isn’t raising your voice in solidarity for women. Ok? OK.


The MOST annoying things about me

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If you have the misfortune of spending long hours with me or worse, actually living with me, these are the most annoying things that could (and probably) drive you mad:

  • I am sensitive to the AC. To put it bluntly, I HATE the AC and am never comfortable with the vent overhead or pointing towards me. When I would travel to Mumbai from Gurgaon for work, I would book a hotel instead of staying over at a friend’s place after hanging out with her at her home because her AC was always on high and I couldn’t sleep. Every morning and evening when I step into the Uber, my first sentence is “Please reduce the AC”, and the cab driver’s answer is “Madam, AC is at the lowest temperature”. KC wonders why I take an Uber instead of the regular cab. In a restaurant, I always, always check where the AC is and pick a seat accordingly.
  • Hanger is a real emotion. Hanger = hunger+anger. When am hungry, I get angry. Eating meals on time is my basic, human, uncompromising requirement. Lunch at 1 pm. Dinner by 9 pm.
  • I’d rather wear shorts and stay warm in a blanket rather than cover up my legs. Except in the extreme Delhi winters. Milder winter days/nights call for shorts next to a heater.
  • Being in bed by 10 pm is a biological need beyond my control. I have to be the most boring person on weekend nights but well, it is what it is.
  • I will never be up for drinking, pub hopping, partying my life away. EVER. For anyone. It is akin to a dementor’s kiss for my soul.
  • I need alone time everyday. It could be reading or writing or just lazing around in bed. Nobody talk to me for 30-60 mins and we can stay friends.
  • Bath times are meditation time. Don’t nag me for being in the shower for 20 mins+.
  • I will always have an extra toothbrush, enough shower gel to last 10 humans for a whole year and a lip balm in every room. Don’t question my feminine aura.
  • 6/7 am is too early for a conversation. Let’s not talk till I have returned from my morning run.
  • My wardrobe, side of the bed and my stuff have a Lakshman rekha around it. Nobody gets to cross it. I don’t like sharing my space.
  • My phone is off limits and I respect another person’s privacy. Have never snooped into anyone’s phone and never will. Basic human right.
  • Morning run >>>> morning sex
  • I can eat the same meal every day for a whole month. Feed me dalia khichdi for lunch everyday and I won’t get bored.
  • I can’t stand loud music in the house. Splurge on the expensive headphones and use them. Bad music is irritating.
  • I hate entertaining people at home. A home is where I chill and not a place where am worried about other people’s comfort. Inviting people over is a cause for stress.

Is that enough stuff to sympathise with the person stuck with me in a house?