Fringe friendships

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Everytime I move cities, some friends fall to the fringes and others come into focus. This time am moving to a city where I don’t have any friends so it will be quite lonely. I wish I could say I will make new friends. But the last closest friendship that I could rely on was formed at B school. Since then, all the friendships formed haven’t survived the years and the distance. Let me clarify that I don’t mean friends in general. I wouldn’t want to offend anyone but a friendship which feels comfortable. A friendship which hasn’t been impacted by distance, career changes, marriage (would mention kids but I have a hard time not judging people with kids), difference in economic status (you are in denial if you think this doesn’t impact relationships) etc etc. A friendship where I am going to remember their birthday every year, without social media. Where I am going to be available whenever and wherever am required. Where I am going to travel to Bangalore or Jabalpur (an example) for our annual meetup. Where I am not worried about being judged. Where I know the person will be upfront with me about everything. Where I trust and love blindly.

I can’t do that anymore with new people. Most relationships today are transactional. I will walk as many steps towards as you are willing to towards me. There is a middle line and I want you to meet me there.

Even when I meet people from the past I had disagreements with, there is a special comfort level. There is a certain kinship and bonding which is missing with people who came into my life later. Do time and shared experiences matter so much? Is spare time during college, missing these days in life, matter so much for strong friendships?

Like, I didn’t speak to a close friend for a year. I didn’t want to talk about the disastrous year I was having and kept a distance. Our conversations are too intense for me to be able to pretend like life is perfect. I distanced myself without explanation. But it only took a few messages to get back to where we were.

On the other hand, a friend and I were in touch daily because we were in the same boat and going through similar things in life. Our situations have changed and our messaging has reduced. At one point, it may stop entirely.

Does this mean, this is it? The friends I made (thank heavens for those) are the only ones am going to have and there is no point in even trying for more?

Or are these walls constructed by me force fitting everyone into separate boxes and it is my doing entirely?

Is putting yourself out there even worth it?


Tales from sales

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People will tell you sales is about selling products. They are so wrong. Sales is about people. Period. You manage people, talk to people, talk about people… All day, everyday. You are their HR, finance, supply chain, admin – everything. You can plan for hours, make complicated excel sheets but never get results from your people. And you can shut the laptop, bring people together and create magic.

I have dealt with a depressed person threatening to commit suicide.

I have counselled someone on his marital problems because he wanted to quit and move abroad to make his wife happy. I didn’t want to lose him from my team, marital problems be damned.

I have spoken for an hour everyday with a newbie on the phone to smoothen his transition into a new role.

I have coached people through mock interviews and on presentation skills so they could clear the process for promotion. At the very least, leave a good impression.

I have negotiated hard at a high end hotel so my team member could stay in a better hotel instead of a hell hole.

These are just a few instances of my job requirements for which am not paid. And these are just everyday things for all of us. These are situations I would escape from in real life. Sure, I could conveniently avoid them at work too but these are the little things that we remember.

These are the small moments which made me go “GT (General Trade) karna hai, yaar. I want GT”. KC didn’t want to hear it one more time and even when the opportunity was in Kolkata, said to me “Karlo GT. Jee lo apni zindagi. I can’t hear you say it one more time”.

So here I am. In Kolkata. Back in the role I have wanted to be in for 1.5 years.


Which one are you?

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Are you:

  1. A selfless person who cares about everyone around and is sensitive to every little feeling. Someone who tries to be available for those she cares about. Is trying to be the glue who brings a family together. For better or for worse.

Or

  1. A selfish person who can’t put anyone before her needs. Someone who will avoid conflicts and escape unpleasant situations. Comes across as a cold person with no feelings and doesn’t have an affectionate bone in her body.

What are the consequences that each of them face :

  1. Absorbs all the negative energy affecting her mental health and quality of life. Gets manipulated easily and can’t judge people’s real motives. Is in everyone’s good books but is always privy to every conflict.

  2. Is able to distance herself from conflicts and preserve her mental health. Everyone hates her but she can see through the bullshit and manipulation. Alone but at peace.

Which one are you?

Which one would you rather be?


Threads of yarn

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I went for a run yesterday to Hanging Gardens. The plan was to run a few (1 or 2, depending on fitness levels) repeats on the slope (3-4 km), have breakfast and head home. Something truly magical happened. I couldn’t stop and it was a 10 km slope run through Walkeshwar and Peddar road. At one point at a signal I asked a septuagenarian for directions to Hanging Gardens through Peddar road.

Him – Take a left and then a sharp left. But beta, it is quite steep

Me – Haanji, Uncleji. It is hill repeats day today.

When I approached L in May, my red flags were that I couldn’t get out of bed for a run and couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for blogging and the gym. Something was truly wrong. Was I bored of running? Is it because I stopped running half marathons and there was nothing to train for anymore?

Like a friend said – Your life has turned around for the better

Me – Has it? How do I know it is for the better and not for worse? Most days I don’t even know what am doing. What if counting your blessings jinxes it?

Thoughts in my head are like tangled threads of yarn. I need to look for a free end, pick it up, start wrapping it around my hand neatly till I get to the last end. Then store it aside in a box with all the other untangled balls.

Why did I stop running? And why was it effortless now? Running keeps me sane and I rely on it to get me through shit in my life. But if I can’t run at the low points, how do I survive? If the drugs that are supposed to help are not to be taken when you are low, how do you get better?

My theory is that I need to be at a certain minimum threshold of mental health to push me out of bed for a run. As long as am above it, running is the only therapy I need. But when it falls below that, it is a red flag and I need help.


Imagine

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What if you could glimpse into the future?

And you realized nothing that you worked for exists when you turn 70. Instead, you are alone and unbearably lonely. You are just waiting for death to relieve you from alife with nothing to offer.

Imagine knowing that and still hoping and working towards a good life. Imagine trying to be positive about everyday and trying to do your best.

Imagine trying to form relationships even though none of them are going to last.

Just imagine getting through every moment knowing what you know.


A love story

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You know how it starts. You either meet someone and hit it off right away. An all night conversation followed by another all night conversation replaces caffeine to get you through the days on zero sleep. Or you have known each other for a while but one conversation changes the relationship. A new spark is added to the equation. You are high on chemistry.

Over time and with enough conversations, the relationship becomes deeper. You want to say “I love you” but love operates on a different plane from friendship. Love is boring. Love is comfort. Love is sharing silences instead of conversations. Love is consistency. Love is reliable. Love is forever. Can she commit to forever? Can I commit to forever with her?

Everything is perfect. For a while. And then you notice the disparities between your impression of her, which is based on what she tells you, and her actions. Her actions aren’t even consistent with what she tells you about herself. “Who is she? Do I really know her at all?”

You get jerked around. Calls are unanswered. WhatsApp messages are read but not replied to for hours. You have been ditched at the last minute so many times that it becomes predictable. But when she needs you, you are expected to be there. You make excuses for her behavior, maybe you are expecting too much. Then you remember every guy who made you feel like you are expecting too much and how it is a textbook manipulation technique. You know this is a deal breaker but you have hope. So, you become a doormat. Available at her convenience. Trying to be a good friend on her terms.

But it isn’t enough. The less you expect, the less you get in return. Even shreds of courtesy aren’t thrown your way. That is when you decide to stop hurting. You need to sew your broken heart. It is too precious to be trampled upon.

She doesn’t deserve a clean break, you decide. What can be worse? Being friendly without being friends. Being approachable without being accessible.

Two can play this game.


Just checking in

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Hello. I have been on the verge of shutting down this blog and maybe starting a new one. But that is a hell lot of work and my chilled out break is over. All that time was spent between the gym, Netflix/Prime, books and coffee shops. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. It is a period of my life I will remember forever and ever.

There is so much to do, so many logistics to manage. I oscillate between confidence that another move will be managed with a flick of my wand and the fear of all the logistics that need to be managed. One day at a time. One challenge at a time. And yet, the big picture is so important. So, need to chalk out time for making objectives, painting the big picture, making a 30-60-90 days plan. This last point was great advice by someone I reported to.

This movement is as comfortable as it can ever get. I will never have such winning cards in my hand ever again. I always complain that am the unluckiest person in the world but took time to recognise it when good luck came my way. Human beings are so fickle. Do we have any standards at all? Any loyalties? Limitations? Boundaries? Or do we cave into every temptation and jump into every pitfall face forward?

While am looking forward to living like a bachelor (for the next few months), the lonely, insomniac nights aren’t going to be a lot of fun. Hello, late nights at the gym and long runs on the weekend. The first step is to find a good gym house and then everything will slowly fall into place.

Ciao. You will see more of me on this blog because I can write only when am alone.

Stay for a bit and help me get through this.


Things I learned today

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  1. I never ever want to reproduce and bring to this planet a progeny with my family’s genes. There is nothing good that will come out of it.
  2. I am not obsessed with reproduction because I don’t think am anyone special and hence, don’t expect to give birth to Einstein or a Nobel peace prize winner. At best, he/she will end up being a corporate rat and we can all agree there are too many of those already. I mean, if I could give birth to a dog or dolphin or tiger or something, I would do that. We need more animals over humans on this planet.
  3. You can know someone for years and years through work and not make a real connection. Till one day, you both end at the same workplace and living in the same building and realise how much you have in common.
  4. Nothing warms my heart than meeting another woman who does not give a fuck. Very few of those exist.
  5. “You are not going to desert me in the family WhatsApp group. Remember how all the mistakes I made in my life have made you the person you are today. You owe this to me. Nobody is leaving the family WhatsApp group. Not under my watch (admin)”; the new age emotional blackmail.
  6. I saw my sister getting bullied and manipulated by family members all her life. She was always softer, nicer and the compassionate one; like all elder siblings. That made me determined to never ever let anyone bully or manipulate me. No matter what. It taught me to put myself first over anyone else. Friends, parents, siblings, hubby, everyone. It protected me from hurt and pain, at home, in relationships and at work. But it has also made me selfish, unapproachable and impatient with bullshit.
  7. Today was a good day. Good food, good conversations, plans of more conversations, good run, good weather.
  8. My biggest support system are people I know through work. People who call me to rant on a bad workday. And people I call to rant about my workday. Right connections happen in the right situations. Timing is everything.
  9. Right now, I don’t regret any decisions I made in the recent past. I don’t think I would turn back time and change a bloody thing. That feeling is everything.
  10. Good music makes everything better. I should tell myself this everyday.

Tashkent Files

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Tashkent Files is a movie that was tanked by most critics but is still playing in some theatres in its 6th week. Quite an achievement. So when KC suggested we watch the movie in the theatre, I didn’t hesitate. The movie started with the credits and it has been directed and produced by Vivek Agnihotri, a rabid Right Wing Troll on Twitter who is also a filmmaker. Uh oh.

“Maybe, am biased. Maybe, I should watch it with an open mind. After all, Congress and BJP are two sides of the same coin. Ok, ok, that is not right. BJP is vile through and through and there is nothing good or right or positive about it.”

The movie is about India’s 2nd PM, Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death in mysterious circumstances. He is supposed to have died of a heart attack in Tashkent, the day after the war with Pakistan formally ended. Not everyone is convinced that the death was by heart attack since there are many unresolved questions surrounding it.

A very interesting topic and one which hasn’t been explored before. “The movie has to be good, after all the material is so good”, I naively thought.

The movie starts with a journalist, Raagini (Shweta Basu Prasad) who does not believe in ethics and is on thin ice with the editor for her article which turned out to be fake news. She has less than 10 days to come up with a scoop. An unknown caller gives her an insight into Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death and she decides to pursue the story. The news is big enough to make the current Home Minister (Naseeruddin Shah) insecure when his opposition (Mithun) declares a fast till LBS’s death is not investigated. A committee is formed whose members are a historian (Pallavi Joshi), a social worker (Mandira Bedi), an ex RAW agent (Prakash Belawadi), a retired judge, a youth politician, a few others (Pankaj Tripathi) and the journalist Raagini.

As all government formed committees go, this is a farce too except Raagini takes it seriously. Her perfectly straightened hair, nice dressing sense, perfectly kohl lined eyes take a beating as she delves deeper and deeper into the mystery. By the end of the movie, she has stopped combing her hair, her clothes haven’t been washed in weeks and there isn’t a speck of makeup on her. How do they let her move around in Delhi without any makeup on? Ugh, these Mumbaikers!!! They come to our city and refuse to follow the rules like hippies. No chappals in Khan Market, bright fuschia/deep red lipstick in all malls, hair that takes an hour to blow dry and clothes that are either from Sarojini or a high end mall, most times the former looking more fashionable than the latter. How difficult is it!!!

She also does this weird jogging across Rashtrapati Bhavan. Morning runners either run towards or away from RB, I haven’t seen anyone crossing it from left to right and nobody runs on the grass at India Gate. Mumbaikers!!!

Anyway, Raagini suddenly cares about LBS and his death and can’t believe nobody else seems to give a shit about another PM who died when in power. (I mean, the ones who really deserve to die are electioneering for a 2nd term. How unfair!!!) The last scene is when Vivek’s Right Wing conspiracy theory is all out and he isn’t even subtle about it. Congress got LBS killed because they wanted to come to power. There is no proof because all the characters in the movie are straight out of Twitter. He probably took his entire Twitter/fb timeline, the rabid comments from both sides of the debate and just pasted them here. No dialogue writer needed. After all, if Buzzfeed can do it, why can’t Vivek.

I left the theatre with tears rolling out of my eyes. I couldn’t stop laughing all the way home in the cab. I thanked KC for picking this comedy movie over the play I was suggesting. It has been a while since I laughed like a hyena. All thanks to a Right Wing Troll. I should start following some of them on Twitter too.

Please go watch it if you are having a bad day. Then take note of all the people sitting around you because this is what Right Wingers without a brain cell look like.