Guest Blog #2: One last look back at you!

The protagonist is not afraid to say, he is a flirt. He flirts, cause to him, flirting is a game, one he excels at. Words, have always come to him easily, when he lays eyes on a beautiful woman, ever more so. The charm and the smile does what words couldn’t if they ever failed him. Make no mistake though, a flirt he may be, but a romantic more so at heart. The protagonist wishes to relive and share some candid thoughts he had for a woman who made a mark in his life. Carl Jung once said, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”, and the protagonist is thankful to “the ex”, and wishes to pay homage for the transformation she helped bring about.

And thus, came the conclusion to that, with a mighty sob that tugged the strings in my heart just as your nonchalant smile did the first time I laid my eyes on you. I wished ever so much to console you, tell you things are going to be good; With a heavy heart I said goodbye, a mumble under the breath followed by acquiescence. Long distance, have left many victims in their wake. Won’t deny it, I cried myself to sleep that night and a few after that (Alpha male, what is that? Besides manliness is overrated, unless you are one of those guys). They say karma is a bitch (always wondered who they are, hold them by the scruff shout at them while I violently shake them “Why must you always be right, and who are you to prove me wrong?”), and I shall have my comeuppance for the agony you suffered. But today, today is not the day for it. Today I shall remember you, glorify you, and finally be able to say, sorry for your misery but thank you for making me a part of your life. Thank you for having shared your time with me, laughed and shared your insights with me. I shall never forget you for as long as I shall exist.

Knock knock, rings the notification tone in the background; The clickety clack of the keyboard gone, replaced by the lull of expectation. I purse my lips, a wry smile on the horizon as I reach out to check the text. The walks where I would call you, and hear your morning voice, fresh from your sleep,  those moments stay fresh in my mind. You taught me to enjoy food more (Beef Bourgogne, Indian cuisine? Yum yum), the look of relish and childlike happiness as you dip your roti in the curry and gently slip it into your mouth. You taught me to never be afraid of trying things (Avial (South Indian dish)) with bitter gourd, suffice to say, I am still scared from that one.) and most of all, I learnt to take things one day at a time.

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I respect you, and I have always had nothing but love for you. Gripes there were a few, you made me feel worthless at times with your sharp words, as if I was nothing but a fly on the wall. I should have opened out about our relationship to my parents and validated it, which I failed to do. I failed to placate the doubts which should have been uprooted at inception. Times aplenty when language would stop us from understanding each other, but I also learnt how a relationship need not be anything but fun. Hurting you was never something I wished, but you knew it right from the beginning when you started calling me a foetus, and foetus is what I eventually showed myself to be. Distance, I am afraid brought cracks in my belief of us. I should have stood up, earned our right to be part of each other’s lives. Naysayers there were aplenty, but see through this with a smile on my face I should have. Counterproductive, but one day, hopefully you shall look back at this, less bitter and disappointed in me, having moved on to someone more deserving your affection, have a wry smile on your face and finally think “I didn’t understand you back then, but I can finally forgive you”.

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Shruthi says:

I have known “The one who don’t want to be named” for a long long time now. I feel the best part of him is he can laugh until tummy hurts and cry like a baby when need be.To be able to go through something and feel emotion in truest sense is great, and I wish he does not change ever 🙂

Author’s inner monologue:

Three things that I fancy : food, travel and my ego. I spend my time thinking of the time I can get on the airport, nibbling away at the next  fancy meal, preferably with oysters and champagne, and the next time I can hear someone say I am amazing.
Put me in the company of people who want to experience new things and learn, and I will be happy. I write and read purely to express my superiority over others. Oh, and in case you haven’t figured, I am a narcissist. The joys of going anonymous
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Story told by the backyard

When we first arrived at this house and looked out of the windows we saw a piece of barren land. A large barren land. Few birds used to visit. But, that was mostly it. Much like us back then.

And one day a mayhem beckoned us to peak through the curtains and we saw a tractor ploughing the field. Birds were following the trail left by the tractor and coming in hordes. Oh, the smell of wet soil. It just felt like the freshness we felt in our life at that point.

Before we could even fathom it, tiny saplings were beginning to grow in shades of bright green. What was the crop we wondered; it could be anything, potatoes, corn, rice or even onions for that matter? We did not know for sure. Perhaps it was a bit like what were doing at that point; just going with the flow.

Turns out that it was just grass. Plain grass. What is the point of cultivating such a large field of grass? Fodder. It’s food for cattle. That is a noble cause to live for. Sometimes a plain boring life is not that bad. It has a purpose too. Rather, you don’t need a great purpose to live. You just do what you have to do.

The summer heat beat the life out of the grass. It becomes a pale yellow, the colour of hay. The birds flies in and out in flocks. But they are not around for long, it is just a pit stop for them. Perhaps, it is a reminder that our time here is slowly coming to an end. Not that we were not expecting it, but it is never easy.

The headlights shine through our window and we look outside into the night. We follow the lights of the tractor as it cut to and fro through the field. We can hardly figure out what’s happening out there. May be we should just take it as it comes and not worry about the future.

Morning comes. We see neat piles of grass rolled up into tight little packs, scattered here and there in the field. Are those memories or emotional baggages? Is it easy to just pick up your things and move on?

And, just when we think it is all over, the tractor comes again. This time the field is ploughed again. The tilled soil looks so fertile and ready. What will be the next crop? What is in store for us? We don’t have the slightest clue. May be it doesn’t matter. We should just make best out of whatever it is.

The grass will forever be green on this side.

The bird in our backyard

‘The bird in our backyard’-the title says it all.It is about the connection I felt with the birds in a new home in new city. I have never worked so long or hard on a blog piece, not that its great story material, but because I decided to click pics to go with the blog. Hope you enjoy the read and love the birdie as much as I do.

Well, it all started with moving to a new city and a new home. And, curiously enough I was not excited. More like relieved that I was finally here, and perhaps anxious that this is short-term, and wondering about what is in store for us in next few months.

This is the first home, we (me, he and baby T) moved into, and when I got a call from him asking what kind of home I wanted, I asked for one with a window. I wanted to keep it open for me and T to look outside. And, bam!! The wish was granted.

Here, I was in front of this big window, overlooking the backyard with greenest (even Hulk could get a complex) grass ever and trees in full bloom. And, she flew into my life. A black and white bird, the size of a crow.

The next day, I called mom and she asked about the neighbourhood. I told her, it is pretty lonely as most people stay indoors, but we had a friendly bird family in the tree nearby. And, like any grandmother, she said not to take T anywhere near the bird; what if it hurts him. I laughed (while rolling eyes) and said to her, it will probably be thinking that I am going to hurt her kids (at that point, I didn’t know that the birdies don’t have kids yet). My mom (probably rolled her eyes) said, “here goes the writer”. And, that is how it all began. My search for a story about the birdie(s).

After he leaves to work, it is pretty much me and T alone left to our antics. It did need some time for us to get used to the eerie silence in our block. There was Fred, the maintenance guy, who would wave at me while mowing the grass or the Nepali grandmother (don’t know her name, she does not speak English) who would smile while tending to her herb garden. And, there was the birdies (they never made appearances together, it was always one of them). Whenever it was around, I will point it to T and say, “Look at the birdie”, ” birdie is here”, “birdie got the wormie”. Such stuff. But these are things that all birds do. No story stuff. Sigh!

I didn’t know anything about it, other than it is a black and white bird. May be, it was time to do some background check and I typed ” black and white birds in the UK” in Google. It is a “Magpie”, I told T. He giggled at my Wikipedia knowledge about the birdies. Even he seemed to know that these are facts, not story material. More sigh!

Little did he know that birdies have become his mom’s obsession (second only to him). I thought I should up my game. May be if I follow it around, and click some pics on the go (for the blog), something or other will happen which will give me a thread for my story. In comes his DSLR (of course after, several failed attempts with mobile cam). And, that is how the agony started. Whenever I was free, the birdie was never to be seen. Whenever T was being fed or in a bad mood, it was seen quite nearby, but my hands were full, and there was no way I could take a picture. And, even if I managed to take the cam, it knew exactly when to fly away without getting into my frame. And, I swear it was the most annoying thing ever.

Now, don’t think I was totally jobless and doing nothing but wiling my time away looking at the birdie. Birdie was just in the background and there was so many other thoughts beating the crap out of my brain. Most of all, I was always wondering about “what next” and “what if”. I was resisting falling in love with this place (moreover, the persons that we are here) as I know the separation is not too far and I did not want to get hurt. But, this was unlike me. Until few months back I used to say that I wanted to move about; not stay in a place for long and get into a comfort zone. I wonder what happened to me that I am too scared to let go and be. Now, I am always yearning for security, certainty and balance. I feel adventure and excitement can wait; what I need is stability. I don’t know if this is maturity or just that I am getting old, either way, it feels like a part of me went missing. And, birdie was exactly what I needed at this point of time. If not anything else, it kept me busy.

With my camera (rather gadget) handicap, I struggled to get one decent picture of the bird. The bird taught me patience big time!. It also taught me that things don’t always happen when you chase it, but it does when the time comes. After lot of taunting and teasing, one day she finally walked into my frame. I managed to get her in one picture and I was so happy, I can’t explain. It taught me to focus on simple joys of life. It taught me to go about life as if nothing happened or will happen that will rock your world. Focus!!! Focus on catching the worm. Fly out, catch worm, fly in. Forget about the sparrows, woodpeckers, bees and butterflies. You are not in same league. Period!

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It also taught me that we are not a story, with a beginning or ending. That there should be some unpredictability even in certainty. And, this I learned after several weeks of observing the birdies. Because, today I saw them hunting for twigs, and I thought they are reinforcing their nest. Surprise!! They are moving to the nearby taller tree to the topmost branch. I had no clue they are moving ahead in their life (either family expansion or fed up of the paparazzi me) though I was so closely watching them. Perhaps they are teaching me that you don’t have to tell the world your every move; when time comes the world will know.

In the end, I still didn’t get a story. But, we finally have two friendly neighbours. And, may be more on the way 😉

P.S
I have never taken so long for a blog piece. It took me 2 hours to write this. But several weeks to take the not so great pics. Not all people with a DSLR is a photographer. I hope you appreciate the birdies as much as I do.

I choose to be happy

Every so often you think you are oblivious to certain things.  And, suddenly it hits someone close to you. It does affect you; but then you choose to get on with life, doing nothing about it, though you know it’s high time you do something about it.

For as long as I can remember I was on such a race. Running from one thing to another, ticking off things in my to-do list, never taking a break to appreciate things as it is. Until, it hit me-fatigue.

One day, I just wanted to sleep. Nothing less, nothing more. When I walked home from work, all I could think was I need to lie down.  I barely got through the door and plopped on bed. Slept forever.

Perhaps, it was a one-off incident. But, it scared me. I thought enough of running around like a headless chicken.

May be I should chase happiness and not goals.

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For days, I was thinking just one thing- read a book under a tree. It was like epicenter of everything I was doing was this tree. It was in my head and I even went searching for it. There is a property next to our office, a lush green space in middle of all concrete structures with a sprawling lawn and one big tree. Whenever I finished a deadline or did house work I visualized this tree.

Girl under tree with a book

It gave me peace, strength, focus and a goal which I was happy to chase.  And, the tedious deadlines became pleasurable. And, this visualization that pushed me forward did come true. Well, not totally, I settled for reading near a window with view of a neem tree.

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Now the distance between these two incidents is not as easy as you think. Forget, reassessing the priorities and the emotional drama part- where your brain says something and heart overrides it. But, the real part is putting thoughts into action- attempting to work out a fixed yet flexible schedule, planning a good diet, finding time for exercising and some fun time as well.

And, most importantly trying to figure out if I can still be fiercely ambitious as I was- should I be taking it slow?

I spend a good deal of our late night walks debating it with my husband on this and decided that I just cannot compromise on either. I won’t be happy either way if I have to choose between the two.

Next task was to think what made me happy and that was easy- thinking or speaking about my childhood days. What was so special about childhood? Perhaps, it was that I took one thing at a time and enjoyed everything I did.  I thought- what the heck, let me try that for a week and I have been hooked to it ever since.

Now, let’s be fair here. It’s not like I have been consistent. If my mom is here- she would say “ Arambha Shooratham” ( attempt at translating from Malayalam: Beginner’s over enthusiasm). There could be friends or colleagues who say “She is never satisfied”. But so far I have been trying, it has been working and I am happy.

All said and done- life is not an Indian movie to become an overnight success in one song. In my experience there is no such thing as a balance nor there possibility of ever achieving a goal. When target is always running ahead of you what is the point in chasing it. I would say everything is a give and take. The trick is never tally at end of the day; just mend things so that you are always better off.

Right now, I am better off 😉 And that is no illusion.

Chronic Nostalgia

Here I am, with few days to my wedding and feeling “Oh my God, I waited so long for this day to come”. And a meek voice inside me clears it throat and calls out “Was it that long really??”

The timeline in my Facebook profile (even I don’t really like it) shows my life chronologically segmented into so many chapters. It seems to say: “Hello, 25 years have passed”. I shake my head in disbelief. Almost all the happenings that mark my life and make it worthwhile seem to have happened yesterday. I swear, I can almost see it in my mind’s eye and feel it too.

I sit back and eye the packed suitcases, all set for the new beginning. At one point the voice of reason told: This is called the phases of life, we make a pit stop here and there, to move on and on. I do not know where it got this idea, may be subconscious mind got it, while I watching some soaps on the television. But I chose to ignore it and there is a reason why I did that also.

Who said that a new beginning is always the end of another?

I may be a mother, but I am a child too. I may be a teacher, but I am a student too. I may be a leader, but I am a follower too.

Perhaps we are training the mind to believe that there are phases of life and that at each phase there is an expected behaviour associated with it. If life were to be considered a river, then these phases of life concept would be like building dams on it to restrict the flow.

Yeah, I am 25 and am getting married. So it does not mean that I fall into the “Aunty League” and I cannot show child like enthusiasm at times. I need not shed the girlishness in me. Similarly, if a 10 year old can rise up and talk maturely enough, we need not chide them by saying “This talk is not for your age”. Let them express opinion, immaterial of whether they are right or wrong. Save the judging mentality for another day and encourage them to speak their mind, develop their thought process and face life head on.

Every other day we learn new things and it’s always a new beginning. But it is not the end of something at the same time. I like to call this feeling chronic nostalgia. The current is always reminiscent of past. It is like an avalanche of beginnings, all intertwined and forming a universal abode, which we call “Life”.

 Life is a continuum, it’s like pearls strung together to form a beautiful necklace. One pearl lost and it is not beautiful anymore. For us, the pearls are our memories, string it into a necklace, keep it close to heart and go in search for another pearl to make the ensemble all the more beautiful.

 

I too have a “friendship” story!

As long as I can trace back, I was chasing fairy tale stories of friendships that I read in books and trying to live it in a reality. Sad enough, Enid Blyton stories and the likes of which are works of fiction and it took a lot more than my teenage years to realize that. At the end of my school days, bidding good bye and moving on was not a problem for me, as I was already hooked into the prospect of making new friends at college.  Alas, at the end of college days, I was richer by friendship of one good soul and poorer by several futile attempts at making and maintaining friendships.

There I was standing envious of the all the people who have great friendships, gangs and what not, wondering who decided to celebrate friendship day to make the matters worse for poor souls like me, and then the twist in story happens. It’s not a talking frog or divine intervention, but I got the key to successful friendships from a veteran in the field with quite a few solid friends in his kitty. Once I knew about the key, the first thought that crossed my mind is “this is no rocket science, it is way too easy”. So the combination to the key is like this: Stop trying to make friends, be natural and do not fear friendships. With this mantra running in my head, I was all set, ready to conquer the world.

For the next few days, I did not worry sick over making friends, stopped trying and waited for the miracle to happen. Just as the hope was about to fade, a bulb blinked somewhere and somebody stepped into my life. I thought that this really could be the one great friend I have been waiting for ages and as usual went overboard in my attempt to appease the person, meanwhile forgetting the most important aspect of the key to friendship- Being natural. Before I knew, I was back to square one having blown the friendship and as I hit the rock bottom all over again, I had already made up my mind to stop the wild goose chase of having a friend for life.

I envisioned the next phase of my life as the independent cold woman types and even christened it as “Being on my own”, but again there is a twist in the story. This time, I did not give any heed to it, may be as I was not looking out for it. So I was there alone in a new city, trying to start from the scratch and two girls happen in my life. I say “happen”, because I did not know at the time, the impact these two would have in my life. I did not chase them, but they came into my life. I did not push them, but they poured their affection into my life. I did not cling to them, but they filled my life with their presence and sucked the void out of it. Before we know, we were a gang, but there was no fancy name. We did not tie friendship bands, but a unique bond developed between us.

I did not know it was friendship then, because I had not experienced it before. I realized this beautiful feeling of being there for each other, only when one of us had to leave for home town. For first time in life, saying goodbye became difficult, I got a lump in my throat, tears filled my eyes and it dawned on me, that I too have friends and good ones too, who may or may not be there with me forever. But, I am not worried as the days we were together were great and have given me the confidence that the bonds that are bound to last will last, no matter what happens.

Now that I have my own friendship story, I will give you my key to great friendship- we do not make friends, they just happen and when it does live the moment by forgetting about what future have in store for you or reliving the past as a means to sustain the present. I learned it the hard way, but the experience was worth the long wait and now that I know the value of it, I cherish it big time. Thank you, my friends for making this phase of life happening and I have decided to rename it as “Discovering me”, because you guys accentuated my self-worth 🙂 and as theysay it is better late than never.

If you’re not ready to die, then how can you live?

Last few days I was searching for an answer, not to one question, but several unconnected questions.

It all started with a discussion with my colleague on Steve Job’s renowned speech at Stanford University. With twinkle in eyes, my colleague read out Steve’s words,

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

And I asked myself, is it really possible to live every day as if it is the last? Would fear of death give meaning to our life and existence?

However much I thought, I couldn’t come up with any answer.

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Few days later, I was having lunch with friends and out of the blue, the talk turned towards what we would like to be born as in the next birth. Now you might be wondering if my second question is about rebirth. It is not about whether there is a rebirth or not, but what we want to be if there is a rebirth.

I was kind of surprised that most of us (including me) did not want to be born as humans and let alone be themselves, if given a choice to be reborn.

That left me with the next question. Are all humans dissatisfied with their life?

Are we not living our life to the fullest or perhaps on average do most of the humans fail to achieve goodness (Yeah, don’t you think greatness is little overrated? As Jim Collins said, even I believe that Good to Great is a long journey. )

By now I was trying to connect too many dots and at the end of it, as you guessed I still don’t have any answers. Leave the answer; I don’t even have a faint clue on what could possibly be the answer.

The more I thought, the more I got confused. (Am literally shaking my head, while typing this)

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I opened my inbox to find invite for the Chinese Business Culture training. Wow, Chinese that is exactly what I want, right now. This whole life seems like Greek and Latin to me. Would Chinese make any difference, let us see.

I say Ni hao (Hello) to the trainer and he does the brilliant job of compressing years and years of rich culture, moulded by thousands and thousands of human interactions into capsules for us to swallow.

I try, but choke at some Mandarin words: Guanxi, Mianzi, Ganbei and more.

Before I could come up with a question to add to the confusion, trainer calls me to do charades on a Chinese saying- Fortune does not come twice. Misfortune does not come alone.

Trainer tells us that this saying has its roots in the concept of Yin and Yang, the theory of polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces, which are entwined, yet dependent on each other and give rise to each other in turn. So for every misfortune that we come across, a fortune is awaiting its turn.

This time I tried to connect the dots, my thoughts forms a shape. But I still do not have any concrete answers to all the questions.

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Perhaps like Taoism says we need polar opposites to gain a balance in life. To live life at its best, we often need to be reminded of death. May be at the face of death, we would learn to appreciate life more. If we see Life and Death as a continuum, rather than as means to an end, maybe we could do justice to this birth and the very existence on earth.

May be yes, may be no. I still don’t have answers, but have finally decided to put a stop to these random musings.

I turn back to Steve Jobs for a solution and his words echoes: Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.

One thing I know for sure amidst all this uncertainties is that in this quest called Life, I will tumble on the answers. My journey doesn’t begin here, but it continues.

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