Let it go…

…even though the cold bothers me terribly.

Bad joke, moving on.

2017 comes to an end as well. With it the realisation that I’ve been out of school for a decade now, but somehow, I don’t seem to have learnt much since. Meh.

So, I do these year-end notes fairly often, where I do a round-up of everything I have learned/been forced to learn that year, and then basically have it as a testimony of all the growing up I did. But this year, I am shaking things up a bit. Why? Because I can.

Here goes nothing…

One of the toughest parts about growing up that everyone warns you about, yet you never believe it (or think it won’t happen to you) is letting go. Letting go of dreams, of beliefs, of your values, your unshakeable faith that you’ll be the exception to the rule. Just about everything.

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This past year, for the first time in a long while, I didn’t read as many books as I planned to. Well, boo-hoo you might say; but that’s actually a very big departure for me. And frankly, I didn’t care too much about it. And that’s what bothers me the most. I read one series in its entirety this year, and probably 40 more books by themselves. While that does seem a lot, my average for the last 3 years is 56 books. In the previous years, by September, I’d be making up a list of everything I read and then flaunt it in everyone’s faces. This year, I couldn’t care less.

***

My resolution for this year was to upskill – learn to ride a bicycle, learn to drive a car, learn to swim, and learn to bake. Guess how many I learnt? None. And that’s not due to lack of trying, it’s plain and simple not having the will/motivation to do so. Yet all of my resolutions from the last few years? All perfectly done.

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We moved houses this year. Our childhood home of over 23 years was sold-off and we upgraded to a new and improved bigger house. Thankfully, I wasn’t around for the day of the switch. It was extremely overwhelming to not see the same walls the first weekend  back home after the move. But I guess, we just have to make new memories now. I’ll miss the walls that Nishu and I wrote on though, afterall, they bore testimony to our growing years and changing handwriting. 😛

However, all was not lost this year. This year (technically from the last quarter of 2016) I moved out and lived with a flatmate. It was a struggle – financially and emotionally. Yet, when the lease ended two weeks back, it was very difficult to let go of the house. That house, and my flatmate were good to me. In fact, when the going got tough, having my own space got me through a lot of shit that would’ve otherwise been one more issue left to be dealt by a therapist.

That was my first try at adulting, and though I didn’t crack it perfectly (at a given time I can do only two out of cook, clean, and work), I do think that cooking breakfast for myself every single morning did bring about an unexpected change in my schedule. Letting go of my freedom, my space, and the massive weight of taking all my decisions was perhaps one of the tougher things I did this year. Not the toughest though.

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Which brings me to the tougher change of this year. I quit sugar. While health has been a struggle, bringing in some form of physical activity into the mix helped me massively. Up until October, I stopped eating sugar after 5pm. And post Diwali, I basically quit on all artificial sugar in general. I do occasionally enjoy the one-off iced tea or a bite of a chocolate, but my sweet cravings are gone. Completely. I’ve lost weight and fit into old jeans (yay me!), I’ve been more active than I ever was, and most importantly, my blood sugar levels are optimal. Plus I found a diet that 100% works for me. So that’s a win.

***

My politics has changed and so have my opinions, and yet that’s not what has caused this change. For a while now, I’ve struggled with movie-watching. For all practical purposes, I think, I am done being a theatre-goer. I always found the experience of sitting in a dark room, and watching movies with a hall full of people in their own bubbles, very isolating. And I am nothing if not a peoples’ person. (It’s true!) In fact, one reason my movie watching experience was warped towards the ones seen on the big screen was because of the tumultuous emotions I went through in a dark space. After all, emotions have to be felt acutely in a movie-hall – that’s the point! Therefore, if you went movie watching with me, there was a 9/10 chance I’d cry. Sometimes bawl my eyes out, and at most times, simply be overcome by this vast sense of sadness. Thanks to Prime, Netflix, and probably Vodafone Play, I am just letting go of the immersive experience. Maybe someday, I find my way back.

***

The toughest thing I did this year though, was coming to the realisation that I have to have my back. Literally, and figuratively. Your family, friends, and mentors can do only so much for you. In the end, it’s your dream, your life, and so it’s not going to matter to anyone, as much as it will to you. It’s easier once time passes, and you get used to it, but when you’ve been dependent for a very long time and then are forced head first into reality – the sting takes a while getting used to. Everything that I’ve let go of this year, has forced me to learn something new about myself. And in turn challenged notions I had about myself. I thought I had thresholds, but they were pushed. And how! In the end, there’s no choice but to deal with whatever is dished at you. I wish there was a choice though… how I terribly miss having a choice.

***

Hopefully, I never have to let go of this blog.

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PS. I got my first (and second) tattoo this year. Some very serious, long-term commitments have been made.

PPS. This is a rather drab to end the year on/begin a new one on. And so I must add something that I am truly thankful and privileged to have had this year – my travels. This one’s from Kinderdijk, arguably the best day this year was spent under these windmills.

Kinderdijk

Hope you have a happy new year!

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Red… For Hadia

SO we enter the abstract domain. Hadia, the inspiration behind this activity has herself asked me to write on “Red”.  This is what I feared. For me, anything that isn’t particular to the tee becomes nauseatingly close to psychoanalysis. And that scares me to pieces.

Yet, these are some disjointed thoughts that I associate the colour to.

*****

Mohabbatein was an all-round snooze fest. And as in every desert there blooms a cactus, yours truly took away a key message from the movie. Red Flower = Love, and Yellow Flower = Friendship. This of course was a part of the ever elusive Rose Day celebration in the cool college. And then the college I studied in had its own Rose Day celebrations. The only red roses I received that year were in a bouquet from a girl *cue confusion*. To her I remain eternally grateful for opening my eyes.

On a side note, I justified to myself that one offers red hibiscus to Ganesh idols because it’s “love”.

*****

I owned a red salwar kameez once which was just as gaudy as it was loud. It was bought for a school annual day event where the women were all “wives”. Of course the red was to be synonymous with married women. And that dress I wore whenever I felt like dressing up as Indian. I did the whole shebang with a bindi, and earrings etc. This phase went on till I realised the dress was suitable only in the context of “Ye Desh Hain Veer Jawaano Ka.” The only red I’ve worn since are a sporadic kurta here and there. Associations with choodha-wearing brides make me too conscious.

*****

I had an allergic reaction last year to who knows what. My face was swollen and was the shade of tomatoes. I ended up in the Emergency Room and then the ICU. But when I looked myself in the mirror, I realised this is what it must look like when an author says “he/she turned a brighter shade of red with embarrassment.” For me embarrassment is felt in the stomach, seldom shows up on my face.

*****

I remember my mother crying when I first started my period. I was 10, maybe 11. And she cried when she shared the “news” with her mother, then with her best friend and finally just cried every time she mentioned it to anyone. I didn’t get it then as to why she was crying if specks of blood showing up every month were normal, as she explained. A year later, the cramps began. Now, I cry every month yearning for the first decade of my life when I wasn’t bending double over my stomach.

*****

Marilyn Monroe looked like she had it all when she wore red lipstick. I think it was one of the late-night movies I sneaked a glance at oblivious to my parents. And then I noticed almost all of the “English film women” wore red lipsticks. At a discussion with peers (fellow preteens), I think one friend said it looked better on screen while another said it looked better on their skin tone than Indian actresses’. I bought my first red lipstick last year after a hijra woman I was interpreting for told me it would make my eyes stand out. Boy was she right.

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Priya Wal looked so damn cool in her red highlights in Remix, that Anwesha was my ultimate idol when I was in school. I wanted flaming red hair. Till I discovered naturally red hair. I realised I could never have those, or carry it off as confidently. The last time I was envious of the same was when I saw a senior colleague who carries off the red curls with better panache than Katrina Kaif in Fitoor. In my head, whenever I rebel, I have red highlights.

Non-Monogamy or somewhere in the ball park area…For Sneha

I’d really appreciate it if you, as a reader, would decide for yourself if this is a topic you’d like to read. Skip to the next post if you’re not comfortable. Anyway, these are musings. There’s no point to it.

One of the things about being in the unmarried minority of 26-year -olds is ruminating on relationship dynamics all the time.

Non-monogamy isn’t new to these ruminations.

*****

As a curious, 10-year-old voracious reader, I came across the very scandalous idea that all of mankind was sired (umm, what’s the female equivalent?)  by 7 women. 

While my understanding of sexuality and sex was minimal (nil), it seemed strange that each woman would have SO many children. I had barely understood this concept, when I came across another scandalous article. A woman who talked about how she lived with her husband and girlfriend in the same house.

It took me another decade to grasp the concept of non – monogamous, polyamourous, or even non – heterosexual relationships. Yes, that long.

*****

My most favourite movie as a child was Kuch Kuch Hota Hain. Big surprise. If you grew up in the 90s, the eternally college going SRK was as irresistible as the basket ball-playing, summer camp-going Kajol. Rani Mukherjee was a by the way person in their love story.

And that was my point of reference for relationships for the longest time- soul mates meant to be together even if there are many people who matter to you much walking in and out of your life.

So you wait and you wait, till a person you’re meant to be with walks into your life. Or dances in. Or plays rugby. Or your mom spots one in a wedding.

Here’s the thing though, do you realise how much pressure that is on one person?

Ek ladka aur ladki kabhi dost nahi reh sakte. By which logic I should’ve had no trouble in being married by now. Multiple times. I could have a husband for everyday of the month, and then some.

And yet, it’s the expectation of being everything. The be all for one person for the rest of your life, for all your needs, that’s cumbersome.

*****

A worldly-wise friend of mine once said to me that you’ve not really been in a relationship till the time there are constraints on your life. While that’s not globally true, it’s a big disappointment for most people when their significant other is not jealous. Jealous = Invested in the relationship.

But then, heterosexual monogamy is the norm. I see friends give in to the pressure of relationships and align themselves to expected/accepted behaviour all the time. And  that’s because one is supposed to be in a long-term successful relationship.

I’ve seen many a person ruined by the pressure to conform. To be normal. Yet I find this elusive concept of a normal, everyday relationship slipping from my grasps. And that’s a struggle.

*****

I live in two houses now, one with the family and one with a flatmate. The latter is closer to work. I own two backpacks. One for work and one for travel. I have a bunch of friends to watch movies with, and another to discuss life with. I even own two phones, one for regular use and one back up.

Do you get the drift?