Goodbye Serendipity

There was a time I would walk into a store and casually look at things, and buy something that I swear I would never have thought of buying in the first place.

And, I would listen to music that is not my cup of tea, because I stumbled upon it, and end up actually liking it.

I would go to a book store looking for something, then forget why I was there in the first place and explore the cover of books from different genres.

Now, it is so hard to break out and do something random even if I want to. I will tell you why.

YouTube has got my mix of songs. Even if I choose a song that is different from my usual style by taking some effort, it reverts to my usual list of songs.

If I ever look at something to buy in Amazon or any e-commerce site, the ads keep popping up everywhere I turn. Stop following me Google and Facebook!

Worse is the suggestions; people who bought this, also looked at these two things. And, I am like okay, go on, typecast us. Then, Facebook and LinkedIn think that I should connect to some people because we share similar interests.

And, if I accidentally I have my location on; Google says I have to click some pictures as apparently it is a popular place to do so and tag ourselves in.

The other day, I had a mini heart attack. I saw a private photo of mine in Facebook that they took the liberty of posting themselves, and I was hyperventilating for two minutes, because I did not see the disclaimer that only I can see this.

I miss doing something because I want to, and not because I need to. I want surprises, not suggestions.

I want to discover something new, not because it is trending.

I miss serendipitous encounters.

Apparently, someone said “Life is not merely a series of meaningless accidents or coincidences, but rather it is a tapestry of acts that culminate in an exquisite, sublime plan”

But right now, I feel life has become painful stalking from all sides

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Reminiscing the past

Recently, I went to this resort for a friend’s wedding. I had gone there several times before when I was a little kid, with my parents and brother. I remember sitting in the balcony overlooking the river and having hot cutlets with ketchup. And, several years later when I stepped into the same place, it never felt the same; not the place, not the river, not the taste, or the excitement.

***

Why does somethings feel so much better in our memory? And, however much we try to recreate it; it is never ever the same.

There are people that I think of with such fondness, the warmth of them in my thoughts is no longer there today.

There are places that create totally opposite and often conflicting feelings now than before.

But worst of all, when I look back, there is a different me that I see. And, I am not sure if that person is better than what I am now- but we sure are different.

I try to reach out to her, but she seems to walk away from me.

***

The other day my husband (may be out of his own nostalgia) bought this soap (Chandrika- a South Indian Brand), and he seemed very excited. I also could not contain my excitement (yes, I find happiness in little things). I remember that back in Palakkad, I used to walk into the bathroom that smells heavenly of this soap after coming home from school or playing. The smell of rain, wet soil and soap!

It was raining that day as well. I tried to teleport myself to those times. But it was never the same.

And, from a distance, a song seeped into my head from depths of my soul.

The poignant lines by eminent Malayalam poet O.N.V Kurup

ഓർമമകൾക്ക് എന്ത്  സുഗന്ധം, എൻ ആത്മാവിൻ നഷ്ട സുഗന്ധം

“Ormakalkkenthu Sugandham, En Aathmaavin Nashta Sugandham”, loosely translated (failing miserably ) as “The fragrance of memories, the lost fragrance of my soul”

And, I have the song stuck in my head ever since.

P.S

For those of you who want to listen to the song, here is the link . Forget the video and language, may be you will be able to relate to the feel. May be you will not. And, that is precisely my point!

Time to talk, with or without a phone

I left behind my mobile phone at home. I realized it on the way to office when I tried to pull it out to check time. I could have gone back, and picked it up as we were only few meters away from the house. But I let it be. It is just a day without phone, what can happen at the max.

But, on second thoughts a lot could happen and the panic set in. What if someone wants to contact me for a legit reason? So, I left my visiting card at my son’s preschool; it had my office phone in case they wanted to reach me. Once at office, I quickly called up my husband and mother, the only two people who may probably worry about me.

But it felt weird, like I had lost a part of my left arm. And, for first few hours my hands kept trying to pull out an imaginary phone; a muscle memory of sorts. A constant reminder that probably I am too attached to my phone than I probably like to admit.

I recalled from a recent talk show I watched: Ed Sheeran does not have a mobile phone. He uses email to communicate, or people can reach him on a fixed line. If he can, I can too. A flip second later, I realise I am no Ed Sheeran. Why did I even think of it in the first place? Too lame an analogy

Probably, because I started to worry that I had not checked out the cart in my online grocery app or when I was trying to transfer fund, I needed my phone for an OTP. And, let us not even get started on how I will be able to book an Uber back home (?). I and husband had a strategy meeting around this one already.

Leaving behind a phone had far more implications than I initially thought. This simply was not working and I decide to rest the case. And mind you all this happened by 11 AM

May be, I was going to be more productive with my work or perhaps spend a little extra time socializing rather interacting with my colleagues/friends at work. Because, that is what spending less time on phone should ideally bring about.

But it did not happen. I had to email to communicate instead of just calling and it was complicated. So, in the end there was no rise in productivity. And, as to people at work, I found out I don’t talk to a lot of people anymore. I actually talk to only three people and rest I  communicate through phone or the office messenger and a lot of them who I used to speak to have left the organisation and moved on. So it was very weird to think that I will strike up a conversation with someone just because I forgot to take my phone. As for the three guys that I hang out with in office, I would anyway spend time with them, irrespective of phone being there or not.

So, during the course of day I hardly missed receiving any texts from the people in my life. Being a textovert, I hardly call people and I prefer people to text me than call (you can take it as a cue); so if I miss calls I know it is always an important one. But, I wondered how many messages will be waiting for me when I do get hands on my phone

As you and even I anticipated, when I reached home, I did not immediately run for my phone. I was already a bit detached, which was slightly weird. I took my sweet time to hand my son a bottle of milk, settled him into bed and grabbed my phone. There were a lot of notifications, and 90% were random updates, stupid promotional stuff and I did have few WhatsApp messages. I eagerly opened my WhatsApp inbox to find a lot of group messages, forwards and few personal ones-nothing that requires immediate attention. I am generally a well-connected person and have a 1 hour rule for any message/communication to me, I always reply to the text or return calls in an hour’s time. However, no one had even noticed that I was not responding

So, I reply to someone who had texted while I was gone and conversation goes like this

I: I left my phone behind and hence could not reply

Friend: How did you manage? I would have died

I: Really? You are more connected than I am, always updating status and all that. Did anyone miss you the other day you were in hospital and fell off the radar. Any text or call asking if you are okay?

F: None

I: See, you would not have died

Then, the next day, I walk out of home and make sure the phone was with me. I walk into office and realise the three guys I hang out with are not in office. One is on leave because traffic diversion caused his Uber to not provide any rides in his area. One is away on a vacation in the US and is available only on WhatsApp. And, one is sitting in another floor and the office messenger indicates she’s away from her desk currently.

So, at times I look at my mobile phone. There are few messages from my mom, some texts from my bank and lot of random stuff. But, more importantly, in a muscle memory of sorts I shout across to my friend (the guy who didn’t come to work because there was no Uber) and I swallow the words in my throat. I look up at the messenger to see if my friend in the other floor has returned to her desk and is available for a quick cup of coffee. And, in between I drop some texts to the one in the US disregarding the time zone issues. I send quick updates to my husband and mom; do my check-in at the school. I also send a lot of messages to other people in my network, like few feeds, tweet a bit, and adhere to my one hour reply rule.

So, in the end I realise phone has nothing to do with conversations; I mean real conversation. These are actually mutually exclusive things in my experience. I do not talk to people because I spend extra time on phone or anything else for that matter. It is because I don’t want to or sometimes they don’t want to. May be we are busy, but if we want to, we always get back and don’t use it as an excuse. Otherwise it is an issue of prioritization.

Going back to the conversation with my friend from the other day

I:  One does not spend time, because they don’t have time. It’s because they don’t make time!

F: True that

Not generalizing things here. But I guess I am just pacifying myself that phone or no phone, real or virtual I simply don’t have many people to actually speak to, talk to, and reach out to.

Now, did I really need a forgotten phone to understand this or did I know it all along, I will never be able to tell

P.S

Talking mentioned above is general, we are not discussing emotional availability, needs, wants, fancies and expectations from a real meaningful conversation. Now, that is a different subject altogether and I had rather not go there. Too hard and too complicated! Also excluded are people addicted to phones and social recluses. We are talking the middle of normal curve and not the tail ends.

Captive Minds

It is not really crazy how things change over time, it is just meant to be

The things once enjoyed become drudgery, like say a weekend, only chores to be done

Shuddering at the thought of living in places that are remembered with fondness, even for few days

No longer in touch with people to whom everything was shared a while back

And, the helplessness to share real feelings with those that matter, for fear of rejection

What if they also leave; what if it also ends; what if it all comes crashing down

Reeling at the thought of it; worries playing at the back of mind in shuffle mode

 

On the outward, it is all calm; No one sees the undercurrents

People call it whatever that pleases them-indifference, silence, mature, arrogant

Some say take it easy, this is nothing and dismiss the notion that it ever existed

Some dismisses you; say nothing can be done about it

An Imprisoned Mind by Stein T Skavaas

And, it all hides behind the extensive to do list that are made every day

Bathroom floors and kitchen slabs that are scrubbed repeatedly

Cupboards that are pulled out, organised, put back and re-organised

Checklists of which tasks are crossed and filled in again

 

It all hides behind the daily routine that is built to justify living

The same cycle every day, to the point of developing a OCD

Where, even for good, a change in pattern makes us insecure

A kind of Stockholm syndrome, where we love being our own hostage

 

We are the captive

But we are also the captor

And admittedly, we love being both

Broken Promises

There is a lot of hype about heart break. But, it is often wrongly portrayed as this one instance when the whole thing crumples down- an apocalypse of sort, for some relationships mean the world to you (at least at that particular point of time).

It is not. It is when small cracks appear, and it starts bleeding, and you patch things up to keep going despite all the pain. And, one day it becomes too hard to take anymore and it just stops ticking for things you believe in. That’s real heart break!

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Heart broke a little every time when;

I was told I can grow up to be anything, but realised all everyone wanted from me was fit into their mind frame

The pinkie swear with this girl in ponytail to be best friends forever did not stand the test of time

The assurance of “Always and Forever” wilted a few years after the first flowers were exchanged

Farewell mails vowing to stay in touch are as hollow as it sounds

And many other countless times..

It breaks a little more now, when I look into your tiny eyes and keep saying I will always be there for you, knowing exactly that I won’t be around forever

A pile of broken promises and spoken words that weighs heavily sits now where the heart used to

 

Guest Blog #1: Tomorrow!

This blog is part of my guest blog series where I let fellow writers contribute to the blog- if and only if it is in-line with spirit of my blog

I want to see Paris again, walking down the Siene hand in hand with a lover.

I want to swim in Flic beach, watch the sea stretch to infinity, and feel overwhelmed by the beauty that lies in my insignificance.

I want to eat another burger at Jeanno’s and wash it down with a cold beer. I want to drink 21 year old Bushmills and read Hemingway in the middle of nowhere.

Cobbled alley, downtown ParisI want to make love to a woman who truly loves me, in the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday and hold her close as we watch the sunset.

I want to feel the adrenaline course through my body as I fly 40,000 feet in the air to visit new lands, walking in the footsteps of kings and emperors that came before.

Most of all, I want to sleep, like I used to when I was a boy

Unencumbered by the burden of knowledge and the fear of tomorrow.

***

P.S

Shruthi says: Being a Cancerian, I am very territorial about my space, and it applies to my blog too. But, here I am letting another Cancerian, Tanvir guest blog. What interests me about Tanvir as a person is:  how he has a strong view about anything and everything. What interests me about Tanvir as a writer is: how he effortlessly pulls us into his monologue and keeps us wanting for more, even when at times we have no clue what he is talking about.

Tanvir’s inner monologue:

I am a mindless drone in the corporate machine. I am proud of my fancy masters degree and ascerbic wit. I spend my days looking for love, imported kit kat and bushmills whiskey, not necessarily in that order. I write mainly to sooth my soul, and impress women.

 

 

 

 

Secret Wish List of Moms

Motherhood is hands down a wonderful and very satisfying experience. But all is not always hunky dory, as often perceived or sometimes portrayed. As a mom there are things I go through and I feel, is it just me? Then, it moved on to what if there are other moms out there who are going through similar things, but are feeling alone or sometimes a bit lost.

And, ta da! I kicked off “Secret wish list of moms”. For once I didn’t have to do anything but ask around young moms and mom-to-be’s to send in their feelings. Let’s take a look at what moms (includes me) have to say!

Motherhood is hands down a wonderful and very satisfying experience. But all is not always hunky dory, as often perceived or sometimes portrayed. As a mom there are things I go through and I feel, is it just me? Then, it moved on to what if there are other moms out there who are going through similar things, but are feeling alone or sometimes a bit lost.

And, ta da! I kicked off “Secret wish list of moms”. For once I didn’t have to do anything but ask around young moms and mom-to-be’s to send in their feelings. Let’s take a look at what moms (includes me) have to say!

***

Perfect mom of her son says “I left my career for a short while to take care of him because I am reluctant to give my son to others’ hand (it is a kind of fear and depression that I don’t want to share him). I like to think that I can leave him somewhere when he gets a bit bigger and with this hope I keep up job searching (not vigorously). Some will think I am not ambitious but that is not the truth. I am just believing my instinct and setting out my own priorities. As my son is 2.5 now, I feel this is the right time to step out, but I am not sure whether opportunity will knock my door too. My secret wish is to live back the life of ‘no responsibility’- just what we enjoy at my own home: nice food, good sleep and no tension. But I know that those days are gone, now I am a mom, wife, career woman etc.

***

Working mom who wishes to spend more time with kid says “I want to spend more time with my kid, but sometimes I shout and beat my kid when she does some naughty things, especially when I am really stressed at work. I keep thinking that I should not turn my tensions into anger towards all, but sometimes I cannot help it. I secretly wish to take some time off and go to some really cool places with my husband and baby.

***

An anxious mom-to-be says “I never thought the red line in the kit that marked the confirmation that I will be mom will bring so much of self-realization and individuality in me. I thought I will be taking this pregnancy along with my husband as a couple together. But things turned otherwise that I was left alone. Of course, I have my parents but no daughter can celebrate the ownership of her parents post marriage, worst case is if you have chosen your own partner. I was staying with my parents after 12 odd years and things were no longer like it was before marriage. Maybe they didn’t realize that I am all alone with no support either from husband or anybody from his family. Then, I voluntarily went to my husband’s place but I was soon sent back again to my parents place citing ill health. There started this journey of self-realization. Four months of introspection and interaction with like-minded friends boosted my confidence and strengthened my valor. Initially I was trying to pull my partner to get him to understand what I am going through. Unfortunately that resulted in pain and fatal arguments between both of us. I felt he was busy concentrating on his own career and his acquaintances. It became worse when we stopped talking for quite some time which has never happened in the 4 years we were together. I was slowly able to overcome all of it and I stopped seeking his attention and time. It was around this time that I was diagnosed with severe anemia and depression. I realized the seriousness of where I need to be. I took some time off, read lot of books, spoke to lot of people, rejuvenated my lost acquaintances and started to surround me with positive people. I slowly built the lost confidence. I have now reached the stage that nothing can demean me and my baby. Even if I am the last human being left on earth I will take care of baby and I will be the best mother to her. I wish and feel pregnancy as a journey should be traveled by both the partners. If it is a single lane it will turn difficult for both of them as they are laying roads in opposite directions. However situations, customs and culture differ and some of the women are left alone at least during their first pregnancy which can be avoided with slightest effort from both the partners. My wish to other moms is to stay fit and to stay strong.

***

A nearly perfect mommy says “I am always worried: that my daughter could be still hungry? How frequently should I change her diaper? Is she meeting her growth milestones perfectly? How can I keep her engaged all day?

I keep worrying almost for everything, while secretly wishing for the day I can start having my road side panipuri (Indian savory snack)!!

***

Full time mom with a full time job says “I guess you are wondering how is that possible being a working mom; but let me tell you that I am a 100% present mom when I am with my son. I get judged a lot because my son goes to a crèche from 10 to 5. It is as though I am a lesser mom and at first it used to bog me down a lot. Trust me, that it is not the easiest thing to give your kid to someone else. There were days I used to wake up and think I wish I don’t have to work or earn a living; but I know it is not for money that I work, but because I truly love to have a career. And, that does not make me a selfish person. Right now we are in a good place and my son adores me, we spend all non-working hours together and I feel this way I am more appreciative of every second that I spent with him. I know for sure that he will find a role model in me and I will have more experiences to share with him as we grow up together. I secretly wish sometimes to have some time to myself- read a book, binge watch shows, paint my toes, go to spa or have some time with my husband. Yes, we do spend a lot of time together as family, but I secretly miss his companionship and wish there is something we can do about it. I also wish that people randomly don’t keep advising and scaring me, but encourage me for the positive things that I do, as some reassurance and validation is what I badly need now.

***

Happy mom with twin interests says “Working out-of-home, I am glad I can spend as much time I want with my two kids, but I miss the ‘me time’ so much. I have once fantasized going on a break for a weekend or so with a best pal or a long lost crush, to spice it up a bit, so that I am away from the monotony.  Preferably a beach, as it relaxes me.  And I come back rejuvenated. Yes! I do secretly wish that my husband notices me romantically. I stocked up a pile of sexy lingerie, but then I realized lingerie doesn’t matter at all 🙂 you know what I mean?

***

New mom of a 2 month girl says “I quit my job to take care of my baby as all that I keep thinking wherever I go is about her. I am not comfortable leaving her with anyone, even my partner. I am always anxious if I am feeding her well or is she growing as per what is mentioned in the baby books and online media. Though, quitting the job was my decision, I am always worried if I will get a good one or if I will be underpaid or if my ex-colleagues and friends will go far ahead of me in this so-called corporate race. All those who suggested that I quit my work, now keep on nagging why I quit and that I shall regret this in future and blah. I feel like staying away from everyone and their stupid suggestions. When I see myself in the mirror, I see that change, a big one indeed. I don’t receive any compliments anymore, no one admires me and I am worried that spending so much time with baby will create a distance between me and my husband. Though he was very supportive all this while, he cannot do much when it comes to the baby. I get anxious and I keep thinking if he was ready to welcome our baby. I know he was, but still these thoughts haunt me. I secretly wish about holidaying with my husband and that is something I have been longing since I was pregnant. Sometimes, I want to do seemingly mundane things like gulping down a glass of beer or wine, or pampering myself at the parlor. But, the most important thing is getting back to office as it keeps me active throughout the day. I am a very happy mom and I feel proud that I created an individual, but somewhere I am worried if I will lose my individuality raising her.

***

A complete woman says – Days and months have paved way to where I am now – an year into my new job after maternity break, going back home to my naughty 2 year old daughter, husband and wonderful in-laws. Beating the blues of the first few months: is she sleeping enough, is she fed enough yada yada; I successfully navigated to the next stage where I could sit back without worries and wholeheartedly enjoy being a mother to my beautiful little daughter who was few months short of year then. A group on a social networking website guided me through the abundant sources of information on the internet and more importantly, made me feel that if it is a difficult day, week or month as a mother – “This too shall pass!”. Sometimes that phrase, as much as it helped me deal with the issue on hand, made me sad too – my lil one will grow up soon.
All through these 2 years (and 9 months), I’ve been wishing that I could walk into my home back in my place, sleep till I want to, eat the food that I ate as a child, enjoy a relaxing spa while my crush texts me with a flirty message, after which I walk into a cafe to meet him – no kiss, no intimacy and definitely no strings attached, enjoy the raw romance and get back to my home – sleep. Wake up to a Monday morning – all refreshed and ready to head back to work – with good health and a sound mind. All through these 6 years, I’ve been wishing that I could go back in time to MY days.
As much as I love my daughter, I have realized and made peace with the fact that I hate my life!
And, by the way, I am a complete woman because I feel so, not indicating only motherhood and career completes a woman. I feel complete because I have all the aspects of my life that I wanted and need.
***

These are women from different walks of life, but I feel they all share one thing in common- strength of their character- the courage and resolve in doing what they ought to do, despite being judged or facing loneliness (not alone) or putting their dreams on the back burner.

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And, at the risk of sounding preachy, I also need to share a snippet. I was telling a guy-friend of mine (who had a baby around same time as me) that I wanted his wife’s inputs for this blog. He disappointed me by telling why I would want his wife to make a list of his shortcomings. I felt he like many men (/people) out there totally miss the point. Whenever a woman seeks help she is either a nag or is pointing fingers at a guy. Most often, we are asking you to be there for us while we figure it out ourselves. To be fair, it probably could be because the way a woman reaches out makes it look like we are complaining all the time. But, sometimes a little support can go a long way. And, as partners we need to do it together and not both of us, separately- that is just not the same.

Finally, a big shout-out to all the moms who put their feelings into words for me (you know who you are ;). Sometimes just putting it out there will help release some steam and get you going. All I have to say is you are not alone! You go girl!

Lastly, when I started this project I was thinking that I am going to help some moms out there. But, now I realize it is the other way round. This whole experience was very humbling and it has helped me in ways I never imagined. I am convinced without an iota of doubt that I need to keep doing things that I believe in, even if that ruffles few feathers and rattles some cages.

P.S

If you are/know a mom and like to share your story, please feel to post it in the comment box below. No pressure!