Weird days and a bizarre coffee incident

16 Oct

The past few weeks have seen a series of bizarre happenings unfold. Seemingly insignificant, but strange all the same. The last straw on the camel’s back happened to be an unforeseen incident last evening, where I got blatantly hit on by a twenty-something kid. Took me a while to process what was actually happening, and only when he offered to pay for the coffee I was drinking, did I realise I was being propositioned. Not the every day kind of bizarre event, let me assure you.

It started with loads of emails going unanswered. Is it just me or are people just serially not responding to emails and keeping to their commitments? I know its not unnatural for the odd email to get lost in cyber-space or in the hoards of gigabytes of communication people receive, but for 8 out of 10 important work emails I’ve sent in the past few weeks to go unanswered strikes me as odd. Especially when I’m told “I’ll get back to you by tonight,” or “We need to get this done in the next 4 days,” only to faced with complete silence after that.

Wouldn’t you find it weird to emerge from a nights sleep, having woken up in a pool of your own sweat and be greeted by this?

Sunrise

My sticky neck and semi-drenched pillow tell a tale very different form this deceptive misty-mountain-top kind of picture outside my window. This is downright weird for this time of year. Drawing the curtains open makes it feel like I’m in the midst of a super cool hill station, with the clouds floating right through the lane in front of me. But the weather has been anything but cool. Muggy, hot, sweaty and just downright horrible.

By mid-day my eyes are burning and the days are getting shorter, night descending sooner. A few months ago I was marveling at the last streaks of dusk lingering on till about 7.30 pm, and these days it begins to set just past 6.15ish. And in typical October style, it puts up quite a show. Kind of like this.

Sunset

Totally in contrast to the dull and misty beginnings of the very same day. Weird, much?

A told me how he was overcome with a rage that just refused to pass, a few days ago. Despite having good reason, the inability to control or get over an extreme emotion has been happening to me too often this month. I first thought it was PMS, but that doesn’t last for over two weeks. I’ve been feeling overly emotional about the strangest things that I don’t usually stop to give too much thought to. I mentioned it briefly here, but I only realised it when I was talking to A. This over-sensitivity, the dwelling on something for much longer than I need to, and giving certain emotions more importance than is actually required, feeling touchy and sulky — this has been happening a lot. I dismissed it as a funk that would pass if I didn’t bother fighting it too hard, but it’s lingering on. I’ve been extremely anti social, withdrawing from people, unable and uninterested in sustaining conversations, been mostly off my phone, screening calls even! This is not me.

I have also had a bout of unexplained unusual clumsiness and forgetfulness. Small accidents around the house — I slipped down the stairs twice in one week, left my phone in my car for an entire day and diddn’t miss it, burnt my fingers making phulkas the other day, nearly walked out of my house without the key one day, and the next — and this one is the shocker — came back from dinner alone one night, unlocked the door, walked in and shut the door behind. Leaving the housekey int he keyhole. Outside the house. All night. This is very unlike me.

I’ve also experienced an absurdly high number of breakdowns around the house. We had all-day power cuts two days in a row, which botched up a day of mammoth orders and baking for me. I had four orders and was only able to deliver one. Last week, the power company decided to schedule their daily load-shedding at 9.30 pm — the most convenient and expected time of day to be without power, no? So one of those nights, sick of the heat and darkness I left home to go get dinner. When I returned, I came home to a cow standing in my backyard, happily, lazily chomping away at the overgrown grass and weeds. That should have been the last straw in the series of truly bizarre events happening to me.

I had the backyard cleaned up, and we have made a concerted effort to start keeping a a garden there. I thought I’d wished the weirdness away. Until yesterday.

I had an appointment last evening, in town and had a good one hour to kill between the appointment ending and my kickboxing class. I didn’t fancy driving all the way home only to come back to town in 4o-mins or so. So I picked a cafe I don’t usually go to, bought myself a hot coffee and sat under a tree reading.

Coffee

I was marveling at the fact that for a change someone at a cafe had got my instructions to make the coffee “really hot” right. I’m so used to asking for it and always being disappointed at the first sip, that I rushed to taste this cup and scalded my tongue pretty badly. I also got a barrage of text messages and nearly dropped my ipad all int he span of 10 seconds, when this twenty-something dude sneaks over and slips into the seat next to me.

He opens with, “I’m not here to creep you out.”

I try not to react, but everything about my face probably revealed that I was very creeped out.

I was speechless for what felt like forever, waiting for this dude to explain himself, especially since he sincerely told me he wasn’t out to creep me out. Then what exactly did he want to do?

I was running over a few kickboxing moves in my head, and trying to scan the nearest escape route, without actually looking around, when he said, “I’m having a business meeting over there,” pointing to a table of four men seated with laptops open etc, at the far end of the cafe, “and I have just been so distracted, I had to come over to say hi.”

He offers his hand, and it takes me a couple of seconds to realise I’m meant to do the same. But I’m suddenly not sure why I must reciprocate, orrrrr whattheeffisgoingon basically.

He introduced himself, quickly giving me his name, his work/business, told me he hangs out at said cafe a lot and even went on to tell me he hasn’t seen me around.

(What kind of men sit around waiting to notice women and classify them as regulars and those they don’t see around too often??)

Probably expecting me to return the favour and wondering why I’m not offering any information, the conversation was fast dying. With me fidgeting and wondering how to tell him to bugger off! I quickly blurt something about not hanging out there often and only stopping over because I’m about to rush off for another engagement.

Silence.

“Can I buy you this coffee?”

I don’t know if I should be aghast or offended, but I manage to tell him I’m perfectly capable and have bought myself the coffee already. At that point, he gave me a rushed, “Okay, it was nice talking to you. See you around,” followed it up with a repeat of the unconvincing “Didn’t mean to creep you out.” I might have believed him if he didn’t give it the crowning glory, “but I was just so distracted, I wanted to come talk to you.”

I came away with mixed feelings. Has it been so long since I have been so blatantly hit on, that I have forgotten what it looks like? Am I just that out of the loop? Is this normal? Tell me single peeps, is this what men do these days?

Should I feel mildly flattered that I don’t have the “married look” people often point out. Or should I be worried that I give off the vibe that I can be cornered into a conversation that opens with the blatant admission of non-creepiness?

My mind raced back to this one evening many, many moons ago. It was a typically rainy Bangalore day and U and I were at the Barista where Hard Rock Cafe Bangalore now stands. We sat sipping our hot chocolates, by big french windows that overlooked Koshys, when we spotted this total dish of a man lighting up a cigarette outside Koshys. At 17, totally reckless and stupid, and not thinking about most rational considerations, it took U under a minute to muster the confidence to hook her pointer finger and beckon him, with her come hither eyes. He looked up and right at us, and I waved a big fat cutesy wave at him. U and I ooked at each other, giggled profusely as we were known to, and when we looked back up he has stubbed his cigarette out, making his way across the street to come greet us with the biggest grin slapped across his face.It didn’t end there — we exchanged numbers and managed to meet him a couple of times when we’d sneaked out and gone partying, before we realised the creepiness of the whole situation.

I’ve been chatted up several times at bars and drinking places, whether I was with men, women, a group of friends or even just a one other person. But that was then. This is now. And even for me, this was just super weird.

Just when I was about to leave it up to a weird amalgamation and concentration of all things strange headed my way, I happened to realise we’re smack in the middle of the Mercury Retrograde.

So yeah, it’s not me. It’s the freaking planets.

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What you have is enough

13 Oct

It was a week that delicately straddled a lot and nothing at all, in a precarious balance. A lot, because I was busy for the first half, chasing a deadline. Chasing it, because I’m the eternal procrastinator. I don’t function unless I’m under pressure. And if the situation doesn’t present any packaged pressure, I’ve just proved to myself yet again, that I have the ability to work myself into a corner and press myself down with a self-made kind of pressure. The good thing is, it yields fabulous results. I’m happy with what I churned out after 3 days of playing hookey. After many slow weeks, it suddenly felt like I had a lot going on.

The long-drawn procrastination, sporadic frantic bursts of writing for the assignment and eventually the scramble to get it done and done well, and the general routine that surrounds it all, was punctuated with moments of nothing at all. Even though I cooked, I worked out, I read, I caught up on some long-pending errands (I’m getting my garden going, finally!) and got lots of odds and ends done, I’ve had far too many moments of empty contemplation than I cared to have. Hollow pondering — cloudy, unnecessary trails of thoughts. Travelling down paths I have left behind, but obviously not far enough to never turn around and backtrack a bit. Empty and completely unrequired because it’s like revisiting old fragments of myself that I have shed — incidents I tell myself I have forgotten, have grown out of and moved on from. But they lurk not far behind, ghostly reminders of a time that will never be the same again, situations that won’t ever be fixed, relationships that can’t be mended, decisions that I don’t want to undo, choices I have made that I sometimes question in a circular fashion. So it is futile. I don’t like to sit around in a cloud of gloom, in shallow contemplation, pondering over things that are not likely to do much more than bring me down. So in that sense, its empty time. And there was a lot of this, nothingness.

I’ve questioned the hows and whys of many aspects of my current life a little too much these past few weeks. I’ve over-analyzed and re-thought many twists and turns that have brought me to where I am. Work-wise, people-wise, choice-wise, I’ve wondered and wondered and thought and re-thought things much more than I should. And much more than I normally do. And then I read this in a post by a friend.

Learn to trust that what you have is enough

Written in a totally different context though it was, it made sense. It was just what I needed to see, right then. I’m not as zen as the words sound like they should be, but it’s good to have a simple reminder smack you in the face when you need it the most. And just like that, the army of little voices in my head, asking me a dozen questions per minute, died down a bit. The silence returned for a while. Just long enough to catch up on the music. And thankfully, there was a lot of good, new music last week.

Episode 3 of Coke Studio Pakistan, Season 3 had one gem which turned into a complete earworm for a couple of days. It’s a radically different track for Abida, this one. And she admits it with such unbridled joy if you watch the Behind The Scenes video.

I watched Haider during the week, right after the mad scramble to meet the deadline. As soon as I was ready to submit the story, I attached it to an email, hit send, shut my laptop and left. Thankfully, I made it two minutes before show-time, and it was well worth the dash. I enjoyed Haider. Enough to watch it a second time. I’m not going to pretend to over-analyze why I did, but I think the sound-design and music were definitely among the top reasons why the movie was enjoyable. I discovered this new rendition of a Mehdi Hasan classic.

8Tracks sometimes throws up some pleasant surprises. I never quite got hooked to the website/App for its obvious anti-ocd kinks. But S pointed me to a playlist that began with this track, which I then youtube-d and stuck to for a good long while. I am hugely tempted to use it in a foodeo now.

The radio played this track an obscene number of times this week. Makes me believe The Madden Brothers have done something right (wrong?) to suddenly be in the news again. But this song came on almost every time I got into my car, and its that kind of horribly sticky fun song that stays in your head and on your lips, even when you don’t want it to. I went around saying “done, done, done, done, done – we are done!” for a good part of the week. And then I watched this sweet video, and it changed the mood of the song completely.

Luckily, it was a fabulous week of music discovery. To fill the pauses that could linger into moments of futile contemplation. To make the cloud of gloom clear a bit and scatter the forgotten fragments, leaving them behind a little longer. Yep, I’m done now. Done overthinking and analyzing.

What I have is enough.

Things about VC that I never want to forget #15

9 Oct

Things about VC that I never want to forget #15
Pulling off pink with style

One of my earliest memories of the husband, from back when we first met, is one of him walking into work in a pink buttoned-down shirt, crisp grey pants, and being met with a loud sighs and collective swooning on the part of all the men in the room. It was an edit-meet of sorts, if I remember right. A room full of people and immediately VC was at the receiving end of several taunting winks, eyebrows raised in part-mockery part-curiosity, and all the manly-men feeling insecure on the part of men at large, that good lord, here was a man, dressed in pink!

***

To this day, his wardrobe is incomplete without a couple of shirts in shades of pink/magenta. Most recently, he bought a rather bright pink, even by his standards. An almost cotton-candy coloured shirt and even my eyes popped a little when he returned from his annual office-clothes-shopping-jaunt and pulled it out of his shopping bag.

***

Earlier this year, we attended a wedding and I went to one of the functions in a bright-as-heck pink churidar and matching dupatta. I love hot pink, but I don’t usually go very matchy-matchy with any of my clothes. Along with the jewelry, shoes, a little make up, I had transformed into something very far from my usual self. VC looked at me with a look of surprise and shock, not saying much. But the face said it all — this was a definite departure from the norm as he knows it.

***

A few days ago I opened up a new pack of toothbrushes. It was one of those twin-packs meant for couples/families. Predictably, one toothbrush was blue, another magenta *eyeroll*. I really didn’t care which one I’d end up with, even though I hate being lumped with the pink option in anything because of this kind of forced stereotyping. I held the pack out to VC distractedly, while simultaneously going about some chores. He picked one rather thoughtlessly and went away.

A while later, when I decided to actually look, I saw that I was left with the blue one.

It took me right back to that day in the office, when he walked into the room in a pink shirt like he owned it. The same indifference. The same irreverence and thoughtlessness towards what the men in the room thought.

pinkismyfavouritecolour

I don’t know if it is the sort of natural confidence that makes VC look like he can pull off almost any attire like he means it, or the fact that he can pull of most things that makes him confident. But what I remember distinctly from that day, is the nonchalance. The effortless dont-give-a-damn-what-any-of-you-think attitude that he carried.

I suspect it had little to do with the colour of his shirt.

****

This is part 15 of the series I like to call Things About VC I Never Want To Forget. And if you’re curious to see parts 1-14, there’s more where this came from.

Book case

6 Oct

I’ve barely bought any new books this year. It was one of my resolutions, to try and finish reading the books I’ve hoarded, that line my shelves and weigh down in my hard disk, before I indulge myself some more. At some point last year VC and I looked worriedly at the books we’ve accumulated, pouring out of the book case and decided we had to draw the line. It was really easy to stick to this resolution this year. Mainly because I’ve barely done any major reading. Large chunks of weeks and months passed by with such busy-ness that I didn’t even think about or miss opening a book. But I finally gave in and broke the promise a week ago. And then I broke it again. And again. Three times in one week.

When the cloud over my head didn’t look like it was going to clear, I needed a quick distraction that would consume me. Something to pick me out of it physically and transport me to a different time and place. It felt like the perfect weekend to curl up with nothing more than a book for company. VC has been out on work pretty much non-stop the past 10 days and in an impulsive moment I caved and bought a book. One that has come much recommended, several times over. For no particular reason, I had put buying it off for later, and when I finally hit purchase last weekend I couldn’t have picked a better time.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Rebecca Miller
S and R have really sold this book to me and had been on my list forever. R’s reccos usually suit me very well and I’ve noticed we rarely end up having very differing views on books, so when she mentioned it yet again, I thought the time had come, even though it wasn’t top on my list. The book quickly consumed me, with a mystery that unfolds early in the story, which then ties in beautifully with the story of a character who is at first painted to look like the perfect trophy wife for an all too perfect successful man. But much to my delight, and this is what made the book slightly unputdownable, Pippa’s is gently etched out to reveal the multi-faceted, colourful human being she was and somewhere deep down, still is.

If you’ve ever had the feeling like your personality has undergone so much change you sometimes cannot recognise the person you were a decade ago, or you go through the many versions of yourself that you once were to trace just how much you’ve changed, if you look back with a happy-sad sense of nostalgia about just how much your wild side has tamed itself, look at the stupid things you did with a sense of irony, and thank your stars for the way things turned out eventually, you’ll relate to the story. The incidents might vary, but the feelings fleshed out in the book were all too familiar. And while the story goes backwards and forwards it does so without being unwieldy like non-linear plots sometimes tend to be. The storytelling is gentle and takes you in very easily, which explains why I finished the book in under two days. Reading it late into the night, while waiting at the gym for class to begin, in the car at parking lots and pretty much everywhere I went. Kindle FTW, I say.

Wild, Cheryl Strayed
I really wanted to read this book for the simple premise it set: a journey from lost to found, since I’m a sucker for stories of triumph, of overcoming personal tragedies and emerging stronger not just mentally, but physically too. This seemed right up my alley. However, when I started reading, I was a little challenged by the unfamiliarity of the subject. Hiking itself, and the terrain in USA that the story is based in. I didn’t know very much about the Pacific Crest Trail she talked so much about, and the idea of a woman hiking cross country all alone itself was more than a little alien. The beginning reads a little indulgently, with the story going into excruciating details about the trauma in Cheryl’s life that leads to it completely falling apart. I realised later, why this was necessary because this story too goes backwards and forwards, narrating pieces from Cheryl’s backstory, along side her journey along the PCT.

I loved the book. For the story she tells, for the sheer willpower she portrays in embarking and completing this journey on her own — I really began to feel for her like I would a real person, and cheered her on every time I felt her morale fading. For the bravery and grit that goes into taking up a challenge like this — the book made me acutely aware of how I have never faced the kind of trauma Cheryl has, in my own life, so for her to be able to get through it all was commendable and kind of special. There are points where she endures such extreme physical hardships — face to face with bears, rattle snakes, foxes, ice, snow, sleet, stubbed toes, blistered soles, chafed hips — it took the weight of her journey up so many notches. For the vivid detail in which she unwraps her journey, it completely drew me in. I got so engrossed in the book I stopped doing much else for those two days. VC actually asked me if I planned to stop reading at all, at one point. The story traces a predictable path eventually finishing in triumph, but the journey itself tells a story of every incredible high and low, the terror, the pain, the immeasurable ecstasy, the pleasure of winning, the satisfaction of overcoming yourself. It was an absolute joy, this book. I’m glad I finished it in the nick of time, because the movie starring Reese Witherspoon comes out in December this year.

Have to stop to say that at the centre of both Pippa Lee and Wild, is the ghost of the mother-daughter relationship. And I think this is probably why I enjoyed them both even more. Both these books made me think of and miss my mother loads. I’ve had the up and down, wildly colourful growing up years both books portray, and inevitably that means coming to loggerheads with your mother. My mother was never the purist who expected us to do things the “right” way and looked down on the “wrong”. But as I’ve realised in the last decade of my life, no matter how liberal and outgoing an upbringing you have had, its hard to escape giving your mother the bad-cop label. The good part is, you realise this sooner or later and when you do, you rediscover an all new relationship with your mother. One of equals, of friends, of confidantes and you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!

Confessionally Yours, Jhoomur Bose
I picked this book without too much thought. It showed up on Amazon’s reccos based on what I was looking for, I assume, even though I don’t see any sameness, now that I have read (and not enjoyed) this book. The title itself left me asking, is confessionally a word? If so, should there be a comma after confessionally? If not, what does the title mean? Either I’m too stupid for the book, or the book was titled in a haphazard way, because even after finishing it, I still don’t have a clue about what was so confessional about the book. And I have no idea who the “you” in yours is. No idea. This is a plane-ride read, and I made the mistake of buying it on Amazon, right at the start of a weekend. But having done that, I didn’t want to abandon it. Since it was a fluffly, rather mindless read, it was easy to stick and finish it, but it really left me wondering what that was all about.

I could say I think it is about Polly Sharma’s sorry little life. At work — a media house where she is a junior journalist of some sort, being pushed around by one and all. At home — at the receiving end of a frigid, arranged marriage; and a pesky trouble-making mother in law. That should give you an indication of how rife with cliches the story is. But I am really not sure if this is all the book was about, because there are a lot of exaggerated side plots, the connection to the blogger Polly is investigating for a story, the house help and her abortion issues, the risque (and unreal) lifestyles of people at the media house, the husbands ex-lover — too much happened, and it didn’t lead to a logical end. I couldn’t be mad at myself either, because I picked the book without giving it much thought. Thankfully it was a breezy read, and I finished it in under a day and moved on to better things in life. Like Kitchen Confidential. Small mercies big, bad books sometimes present.

I’m now reading Kitchen Confidential which is a delight as it was the last time I read it. But just so much better. I realised I’ve forgotten so many fabulous bits of the book. possibly because I wasn’t big on food when I last read it. I probably just read it like I would any other memoir. But this time around, I find myself stopping to chuckle, to gasp at the names, the brands, the books, the instances he quotes. I seem to be getting through it a lot faster than the last time too. After the brainlessness of the last book, this is such a refreshingly real and entertaining read.

read

Turns out, fabulous things happen when I stay offline. Its been a week of limited screen time. I didn’t plan it that way. It’s just that work showed up, I decided to read, it was a peaceful week and I ended up staying offline a lot. For someone who reads very slowly, requiring hours of uninterrupted reading in order to finish anything, I finished these books in record time. I devoured them hungrily, purchasing the next one almost as soon as I’d shut the cover on the previous one. It helped that a large part of the week was spent alone. And a majority of it horizontally with iPad in hand. I want to say good things happen when I’m not looking at a screen, btu that would be a lie. Times like this, I love reading off a screen. The book/s reach you in seconds. You don’t have to worry about stashing/lugging them around. You can read in bed even under the covers and still turn pages easily. You can read in the dark, which is possibly the best thing to happen to me because one of my biggest peeves is getting out of bed to turn out the light when I’m done reading. Oh and also, you don’t need to think about making a new book case.

Okay, unintended sales pitch done.

Those elusive words

30 Sep

Some days it’s like grabbing at empty snatches of air. Grasping what I can, finding nothing when I unclench my fist. I’m looking, but I can’t find the words. They’re floating along, like shimmery sequins that I can only see when they catch the light. Alternating between blinding me and hiding from me.

Some days it feels like I’m furiously drawing circles in the emptiness in front of me. I persevere and the lines refuse to show. The indentations, disappearing almost as quickly as they appeared.The words, they escape me.

Some days, like today, I contemplate a story I need to write. I consider it long enough, so it unfurls in my minds eye. I open my laptop and begin to tap away. Key words. I string them like jasmine, knotting the stalks of two buds at a time, tangling the thread around, just tight enough to keep them together. But loose enough to let them breathe. To let them bloom. And speak.

Some days, though, I have to sit back, take a deep breath. And the words flow like a smooth exhalation. So smooth, I can almost not keep up. Wispy ringlets of of breath, words escape me, floating away before I can pin them down. Almost there, so near and yet so far. The moment has passed.

And suddenly, unexpectedly, while I’m bumbling along doing something totally unrelated, it comes back to me like a hint of a glistening fish, slithering away downstream. I drop whatever I’m doing. I reach out. A brief struggle ensues. The words, they don’t want to become mine. And I? All I want to do is catch them, slice them, spice them up and serve them up well done.

It rarely goes to plan. The best words, they elude me. Refusing to strike when I need them the most. Like when I’m making a list of deadlines, or I’m planning a story, or at least when I finally sit down to work.

They strike suddenly, at a time unbeknownst to me. And they leave an unmistakeable trail behind them. The white plumes of a jetplane that’s zipped through the sky, when I’m staring up open-mouthed. The hiss of flavours melding in the little kadhai, the remnants of a tadka that I just drizzled all over my dal. The jagged edges of a broken dream, when I shake myself awake. The flecks of stars beginning to rise on an indigo sky. The choicest words, they come to me when I’m not looking for them.

I’m thankful

29 Sep

For the most part, I am an optimist, a believer-in-good-things-can-happen, a hedonist of sorts. In the last couple of years I have seen my compulsively broody, moody self turn into a more uniformly cheerful, happy person. So much so that I don’t take very wrell to the odd gloomy situation that might blind sight me on an idle day. The last time I had a spell that drove me to a severe meltdown and positively into a hole I was unable to get out of, it was right before I quit my job in 2012.

The point of rambling on about how I haven’t felt sadness or dejection on the personal front is to say, it’s been so long, I didn’t recognise it when it hit me earlier this month, when I suddenly found myself contemplative, upset, a bit confused and slowly sliding into a hole. I’m putting it down to this situation of not having work on my hands, and the husband being busy and largely unavailable. Talking to him usually sorts my head out, sooner than later, but I’ve resorted to having monologues with myself, and if you know me at all, you’ll know that never helps.

To make things worse, all that waiting was not helpful at all. I’m still waiting but have a few things lined up, so at least I’ve moved form waiting for things to materialise, to waiting for them to be finalised. So it’s moving, but very slowly. There’s been a few other minor upheavals (for lack of a better word) on the personal front and I know I’m beginning to say this a lot, but for the first time in a long time, I spent a couple of days brooding and feeling like nothing was going right for me. My optimism has taken a bit of a beating, the ability to believe and hope has been stripped down a little. I may or may not have spent a day or two just staring out the window a little aimlessly.

This weekend, I got to wondering why I’ve let myself feel this way. Not that the feeling was completely unfounded. There is reason for a mild kind of turmoil, but nothing VC and I have not been able to get a grip on and begin figuring out. And sort it out we will, so it was really nothing that warranted said sadness. But I suppose this is the consequence of having it really swimmingly good for as long as I can remember. Since we moved to Goa and set up life from scratch, things have only moved up. Life has been exceedingly good. I cannot think of any difficulties we have faced which have been more severe than the odd sucky bouts of work gloom (which is the only time I can recall facing a dip in happiness levels), a few illnesses and technical glitches that drive us up the wall. This was clearly a loss of perspective that had caused me to feel like shifting gears, changing lanes had made my world come tumbling down.

Coincidentally, S tagged me on the Gratitude/Thankfulness Challenge that’s been doing the rounds on facebook. I’m usually not one for facebook memes. I scoff at verbose status messages, especially the superficial kind that usually present themselves on fb, but I was prompted to take this one up. It was a fairly simple challenge; list 3 things you’re thankful for, for 7 days. And this is what I had.

Day 1:
1. Thankful for the neighbour who bailed me out of having to cook when I in the throes of an allergy attack. Not only did she cook me Khau Suey for dinner (as per my farmaish) but dragged me over to eat leftovers for lunch today.
2. Thankful for VC who puts our seemingly big squabbles behind us quicker than I can say WTF.
3. Thankful for air-conditioning, today more than ever. It feels like the hottest day in a long time.

Day 2:
1. Thankful for the technology in my life. The ipad that lets me read in bed, whatsapp that makes the miles between family/friends and me seem so much shorter, Instagram for the riot of colour and life it is, my blogs for the space to write, unedited.
2. Thankful for Amma who is always just a phone call away, whether I want to quickly go over a recipe, rant about anything from unprofessionalism to power cuts to traffic or maid trouble, crib about the state of the country, have a hearty laugh or even just talk.
3. Thankful for having rediscovered the need for good health, the right kind of fitness, and the endorphins and happiness it adds to my life, N, my trainer turned friend.

Day 3:
Thankful for the many different kinds of friendship I have found, that make my life fuller, so varied and definitely so much more entertaining.
1. My family and friends in Goa, A, N, P, S with whom I share so much more in common than just the city we live in.
2. Friends from afar, like S, J, A and many many more, with whom I don’t always have to relentlessly communicate or feel the pressure to “stay in touch” and yet, when we do talk/meet, the madness picks up from where we left off.
3. My “internet FINDS” R, S, A, S who “get” me even though we may have met just a couple of times at best, and some never at all. Is it weird that I feel closer to them than some of my “real-life” friends?

Day 4:
1. Thankful for the mad thing that is the sister, my sharer of absurd/toilet sense of humor, my partner in crime, my kindred spirit, my anchor. The only one who calls my bluff and never shies away from telling it like it is; whether shes tasting an odd experimental cake, or reminding me how I never give her birthday gifts, or in telling me how much she misses me every time she goes back home from visiting me in Goa. Life just wouldn’t be the same without you!
2. Thankful for the food, drink, books, music, movies and all the other things I can afford to indulge myself in every now and then, without having to think twice.
3. Thankful that its Friday and the end of a largely unproductive week. Hopefully a drink and dinner with VC and a relaxed weekend will reboot my system before Monday strikes again.

Day 5:
1. Thankful for my house help who is cheerful, more energetic than I am on any given day and works tirelessly to keep my home clean, assists me in the kitchen and looks out for me, even when I don’t ask for it.
2. Thankful for the privilege that is being a freelancer who can work from home. It means I always have the option to work in my pajamas, in bed, at midnight or pretty much any way that my heart fancies, or whenever inspiration strikes. It also means I can do it all, while also doing at least 3-4 different, non-work related projects at any given time.
3. Thankful for the unflinching support that I get from VC in making 2 and 1 possible. There’s absolutely no shying away from the fact that I have the privilege and the luxury because I don’t have to work to feed myself. He makes it possible for me to work to scratch the various creative itches I get from time to time.

Day 6:
1. Thankful for the opportunity to live in green, beachy Goa. I curse the heat more often than not, but right now, at this point in life, I don’t know another place I could call home.
2. Thankful for the solitude, peace and being-happy-with-less that this life has forced upon us, and the consequent changes this has ushered into our lives.
3. Thankful for the convenience of living just a short trip away from home, so I can still scoot over whenever I am homesick or miss my folks.

Day 7:
1. Thankful for good health, the awareness, willingness and means to stay healthy, fit and happy.
2. Thankful for access to fresh food — healthy fruit and veggies, lots of local, organic options that are not just good for me, but my environment and eco-system too.
3. Thankful for the obsessive love for food, which makes me care about what I put in my system rather than make every day meals a mindless, unhealthy chore.

Today, my fb is filled with unprecedented NaMo love, some minor mentions of the protests in Hong Kong, even fewer still of the floods in Assam, and it seems like we have moved on from Israel and Syria altogether. Clearly it’s very easy to lose perspective, get our priorities mixed up and find ourselves swept away in a little bit if collective hysteria. As I keyed in the last bits of todays post and wrapped up the 7-day challenge, I mocked myself and the irony of having to undertake a task like this, to realise that I truly have a lot to be thankful for. With most of the basics under control, I have the luxury of being thankful for the extras, the privileges and the fringe benefits.

Mockery-aside, I think I needed to do this and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I realised that despite being a realist, a believer and an optimist, its entirely possible to lose my sense of perspective. And if it takes a silly facebook meme to re-align that once again, put my feet back in the ground and the focus back where it should be, so be it. Because a facebook meme made me realise that at the heart of it, I’m lucky to have all the things that really matter to me — family, health, friends and happiness — in abundance. Pretty much everything else is secondary.

Head vs heart, want vs need

26 Sep

For the first time in two whole years, I’m utterly jobless. And not just in a manner of speaking. I’m out of work, of the professional kind. It’s an odd place I haven’t been in a long, long time.

Can’t say I didn’t bring this upon myself, because it is the result of part-carefully-thought-out-decision, and part-decision-not-going-to-plan. I’m in a strange state of mind I haven’t been in possibly 4 years now.

Limbo, is one way to look at it, because I’m weighing the options I have, pursuing the ones I think will interest me, and help further my skill in the direction I want to take it. And until things really do move ahead, I feel like this in-between is going to gnaw at me for some time still.

For the first time in what feels like forever, I have empty time. My hands itching to do something, and there is no immediate project at hand. There is a lot of waiting happening, and it has made me very restless. This is a new feeling, this kind of quiet restlessness. I’m not used to being vela like this, and the antsy, somethings-bubbling kind of feeling that lurks not far behind, but never really catching up with me fully.

I find myself going over events in my head, over and over, wondering if I should have done something differently.
I find myself endlessly reading online, in search of an elusive opportunity that might pop up at me suddenly.
I find myself jumping at the sound of every incoming email that chimes in.
I find myself asking if its time for a complete change of streams entirely.
I find myself just waiting. Waiting and waiting for something to happen.
For those I have written to, to respond. For those who said they would let me know, to actually do it. For those who promised me more leads to write to, to send in the information. For something, anything worth my time and effort to come my way.

It’s ironic because when I was gainfully employed, I longed for the freedom this life of freelancing promised. After close to two years of freelancing my heart out, in the midst of a bunch of gigs, some part of me began to knock silently, asking for more. A project bubbling on the back burner forever now, demanded more time. And so after much thought, many weeks of hemming and hawing, I took the plunge and pulled back from all my work. Presumably to focus my energies elsewhere. Now, I am in that sweet spot. Of having nothing and nobody to devote my time to. Nothing, except the projects my heart desires. And some how, I’m running round in circles in my head, waiting and hoping for work to come my way again.

Today, the penny dropped. And I realised I need to step back and evaluate just what it is I am truly after. And why. My heart seems to be in one place, patiently waiting. While my head battles it out elsewhere. Pulling me backwards and forwards at the same time. And somehow, I’m stuck in between. Employment is the obvious answer. Something to occupy my hands, my head and my heart. Something to give meaning to what I’m doing. Work is what I want. But I’m not really sure the form in which I’m seeking it, is what I need.

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