Calvino, Drabble, Happy, I & more

It has been two months since I typed my personal blog. Not that dilemmas surrounding me have vanished or I have become immune to them but for a handful of reasons/excuses:

  1. My numb state of mind: So numb that I gave up on my only hobby i.e. reading. Though it could be to do with the fact that I picked up a few wrong books in my quest to read new genres and authors. After having googled for the quirkiest books ever written I picked up Italo Calvino’s “If on a winter’s night a traveler’ and I just couldn’t read it beyond the second chapter!
  2. Drabbling: After having patched up with my writer-editor friend (yet again!) I was introduced to ‘drabble’. Drabble is writing a short story of exact 100 words. Easier said than done. I have written 5 out of 50 drabbles till now of which the last 3 were considered by my esteemed writer-editor friend to be below the mark! I hope to improve every day though I am not happy with this drabbling business. Cutting down a story (as if making a story is easy!) to 100 words is not creative. There is no way you can try to fit in as much as you would like to tell in sharp 100 words. You miss out on the essence of the story. And with all that heavy-duty pruning, most of the story ends up being in your own head.
  3. Is this blog ‘worth’ it?: After writing for a year, I am asked (yet again by my editor-writer friend) what have I gained? I could have replied with a list of abstract/intangible/philosophical merits like discipline, acute awareness of my surrounding, honing of my skill etc etc but I knew what he was driving at. Did I gain more followers, more ‘likes’? Honestly, only a handful readers read what I write but that’s exactly what the intention was. I have been genuinely satisfied. This blog was always meant for me and my friends who enjoy reading. Of course I always feel good when a stranger reads and likes my blog. But to get even a 100 plus ‘likes’ of my writing would mean I take a thorough professional route and get an agent or a celebrity connection!

So I am back to blogging (and I hope to retrospect and write here on a weekly basis).

And what all happened in the last two months that I can recollect:

  1. Pop’s disease relapsed. We all are still trying to cope up and not give up in times like this. It is so easy to breakdown when in crisis but we get up every morning all fixed up to face another day. It is not possible putting yourself in the shoes of the patient as it is only him/her who is going through the suffering but I hope it all works out in the end and it would be just a nightmare that we would be woken up from. People and relatives who know him very well keep coming over to our place to meet him and for once I don’t mind uninvited guests. I see my father being happy at their sight. Happier than seeing me and my mum daily!

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2. Happy,our street dog, is back! Lovely, pretty, Happy returned after 2 weeks as mysteriously as she had vanished. (See my last blog: Remembering Happy/Julie/Goldy) If only she could speak and tell about her adventures. I realised that not only my daughter and I were happy with her reappearance but so many of our other neighbours too. They were calling up their loved ones too informing about Happy. It did take Happy a few days to get back to her routine. She looked little lost initially. She didn’t spend much time with her mate Perky. But all seems ok now.

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3. We have a trampoline. I am glad we purchased it on mum’s saying and she is setting a good example of practicing before preaching by using it daily. Hopefully my daughter and I will get inspired and follow her soon. We are too lazy to even jump on a springy surface! I always thought mum had an excuse for not resuming her half-an-hour walk ever since papa returned for good from the city where he was working but this seems like a great option too.

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4. Saying ‘Namaste’ – meet and greet the ‘Indian’ way: I re-learnt to fold my hands to greet people especially those who fold their hands too while greeting me. Our community park gardener, who must be an octogenarian (or even a nonagenarian) does that every time I pass by him in the park. He joins his hands and raises it to his head to greet ‘Ram Ram’ with a toothless smile. So one day as he did it while I jogged I thought of the last time when I had folded my hands to greet people. After all, it is in our culture to do so. I couldn’t recall. I don’t ever remember having taught my daughter (who is 11) to do this. Has she ever greeted anyone a ‘Namaste’ with her hands joined? I don’t think so.

And on this note, I better switch on to drabbling my 6th one, lest my temperamental writer-editor friend resumes behaving like a pansy! :p


pic courtesies: all except the last one clicked by me. last one is from: thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/indian-hand-greeting-posture-easy-to-edit-vector-illustration-namaste-floral-design-41901074.jpg

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My twig got stuck – comprehending depression at its nascent stage

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In the roller coaster ride of life, I have at this time hit the bottom (or is the trench even deeper?). I choose to be aloof, I choose to talk and meet a ‘chosen few’ and I choose to reflect on things that I would never otherwise. Reflection has never come naturally to me as I have always gone with the flow – where my life is like a twig that has fallen in the stream and it flows at the pace of the water current. It has been mostly a very smooth ride with only now and then some thing or somebody picking up the twig out of curiosity for a while and then throwing it back into the water body (much to my respite!). At this point the twig has been stuck to a tree by the stream. It can feel the current rush around it but nonetheless, it is stuck. I would call this point being stagnant. Others would call it boredom and depending on the state of mind and the length of stagnancy some may even call it being lonely and depressed.

I have understood loneliness and sadness, despite never consciously subjecting myself to the term ‘depression’, much better at this stage of life. No amount of reading about others mental state is helpful. No matter how many happy quotes you read, it is very difficult to bring yourself up and get going.

I have understood why depression is co-related to loneliness. Why it is difficult to ask for help when one is undergoing this phase in life? Here are my reasons pointed:

  1. Because you don’t have a sad club to join. You are on your own.If you are sensible you would know that whining before family and friends has a certain limitation. The more you whine the more agitated they will be with you at one point. If they cannot express their agitation they will be barely listening to you – not hearing you. People will tell you to meet friends more often, go out, join a book club or a riders club or take up zumba or even practise yoga. Do they help? I can’t vouch for any but most in my area from my experience of taking my daughter to these dance, art and yoga lessons have taught me that they are plain money-making machines. There is less or no learning. If the purpose is to make new friends and socialise, you begin to realise how fake people look around you. You hate to be around depressed souls so why should they be around you? You fake just as they when you join them!
  2. Because though people say never compare the story of your life with the others as you are on a different chapter than theirs but you just can’t help it. While I write this and struggle to increase my workflow, I have just heard my phone beep. Upon checking my notification from a recently downloaded no-nonsense news app is that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made 3.4 bn USD in an hour after positive second quarter earnings. Wow! Ok, he and his ilk are rich shots and they make insane money and no way my life chapters are ever reaching theirs (practically writing!) but then when you start to look around people nearby whose chapters could be possibly nearer yours, you can’t but help making comparisons. Suddenly their life looks glamorous. they are getting promoted, they are switching jobs, they are getting huge bonuses, some are bored with their world travels. So when you make an effort to get up, get out and visit them in order to cheer yourself up, you end up returning home more depressed.
  3. Because you do not want to get out of your comfort zone. It is connected to the first point. There may not be a sad club but joining a happy club is an effort. Your home is your comfort zone. Not realising that it has imprisoned you. That drive to push you out of the house is missing. You have become an unknown parasite feeding on the comforts provided by your loved ones. You begin to adapt to this environment. Everything is being provided for so what else could you want? You are all to yourself. You are not making friends. You are not making enemies. You are doing nothing.
  4. Because you do not want to break down. You want to look strong. You try hard to believe that all will be ok but when? You know good times follow the bad times but how long is the bad time to be? There are thousands of inspirational quotes on every cloud having a silver lining, light at the end of the tunnel and storm before the calm but nobody can tell how long the storm will last, how long the tunnel is and when will the silver lining of the cloud be displayed. Not everyone is as patient as the other. While some don’t breakdown, others just drift to another world. I have imagined just laying on the water on my back with my eyes closed and it is a beautiful feeling. i do not have the courage to go to another world on my own but I have realised that if someone decides to do this, one should not call them weak as nobody can take this course of action in a weak state of mind. Respect them. They must have gone through a lot.

So, how does one fight and get out of loneliness and sadness?

I will tell you when it happens! The tunnel can’t be that long after all! 🙂

 

img: me!

 

from oww to wow – conquering pain

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Many a time when a non-inked person looks at my tattoo-ed Koi on the back of my neck I know the questions that I would be asked and one of it is always: ‘ was it not painful?’ The truth is that it wasn’t. I was alright all through out. The tattoo artist, a Brazilian was very passionate from the start of drawing the sketch on a small piece of paper to the final stage of colouring the little koi on my skin. The question of pain has come up so many times that it has made me stop and reconstruct the day it happened six years ago and figure out my emotions. It has led to my coming up with varied answers: ‘yeah, a little bit!’, ‘it was just as if I was being scratched’. I even go onto justify some times why was it a little or no pain with the reason being: perhaps it was on my back which is a hard portion and it has less flesh etc etc. I am not claiming that there was no pain at all but it was like an any day when you get a cut, bite or a small wound. I would not go on making a deal about it. I see my men friends with a cut on their cheeks after a shave and it has never been an issue. Perhaps getting a tattoo or body piercing attracts more attention toward the pain as this is a conscious decision to get wounded. A decision considered foolish by many who are however okay with ears and nose piercing.

I am not waxing lyrical on tattoos here. It is about pain. The physical pain. One thing which we have in common with everyone in the world. The other abstracts like happiness, sorrow, jealousy can be hidden or denied but not pain. You see somebody or the other complaining about a type of pain invariably. How does one manage a pain without using the painkillers? Simple: 1) By working on the pain! 2) By getting used to the pain.

In a recent freak accident a friend of mine had his right shoulder dislocated (which he was able to put it back in the socket right away), and he spent the next four to five days in a zombie state. He took to sleeping pills besides other pain killers. His sleeping pattern and routine got awry. The doctor had to finally tell him to stop using the pills and learn to manage the pain. He was recommended a physiotherapist to work on his loose shoulder. He has got much better since.

I was impervious to the tattoo pain as compared to my recent strange pains (lets not get into the giddiness I felt after I got down from the ‘twirl-a-whirl’ ride which I accompanied my daughter last week!). My new pair of specs for one gave me a hard time for more than a month. I hadn’t thought that switching from plastic to metal would give me severe headaches. The sticks that go behind the ears crushed my temples. I felt worse as I had spent good money on my designer (yeah, I mean fragile and the high maintenance) glasses! Being prescription glasses (and even if it wasn’t!) there was no way I was going to get a replacement. The thought that it was so expensive and I couldn’t exchange them, stressed me more. I remember how the first time when I wore them on a short-haul flight it gave me a severe headache. However, as days rolled by and with more usage (I usually wear a pair of lenses when I go out and choose to have a hazy vision at home!) I felt finally ‘at home’ wearing them. The sticks fit behind my ears very smooth.

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And how can I forget the dental pain! Everyone who visits a dentist knows what the pain is like especially if an extraction is involved. I must say I was very bold when a few tooth extractions took place a decade ago. However what surprised me recently was when a ‘crown’ was being placed on one of my open tooth that had gone through a severe process of root canal. I felt as if my dentist was fixing a stone. I conveyed my feelings to him who then asked me to hold that little crown in my hand. It was so light. I did feel heavy in my mouth for a few days and was cursing myself for not having taken care of my teeth but all was back to normal after some time.

I had conquered the physical pain. Got used to it or managed it or both.

A small pain (a recent cat bite), and a slightly bigger than a small pain (when I fell down as I jogged : Interpreter of Falls with a thud) tell me many different things: to not to play with that silly stray cat; to not to dream as I jog but never to hate the pain. I have learnt to embrace it.

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It is just the mental fears that I think I will have to live with. I don’t think I can thinking of bungee jumping.

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Images:

  1. my little koi inked in 2006
  2. my new pair of glasses with my daughter at the back photo bombing – Feb 2016
  3. tooth image courtesy: https://drbase.s3.amazonaws.com/attachment/887ef998cc-99863/tooth%20extraction.jpg
  4. cat bite – May 2016
  5. Ginger, the cat who bit me – May 2016

Interpreter of Falls with a thud

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Three mornings ago I had a fall. Not the phrasal pride going for a fall or the falling in love (how I wish!).  The fall where we lose our physical balance and land on the surface with a thud. I remember my falling down in slow motion. I felt every second and helplessly thought how I could defy gravity. I looked around to hold onto something but to no avail. My hands were filled with my gizmos without which I am helpless while I jog. It was a great thud. I chafed the right dorsal and elbow and got minor bruises on my left knee. I got up. Looked around. Collected my pair of specs, iPod, iPhone and my senses before I walked back home. Barring my senses, everything was functioning fine and without a scratch , talk about they being fragile! There was nobody on the track then. It wasn’t such a big deal too considering the fact that I could get up and be back on my toes right away.

I don’t remember having any memories of falling down ever as an adult; even the childhood ones are bleak. This fall got me physical wounds but also reminded me of the times when people I knew closely fell down and how it had an impact on me. Those sublime learnings took a manifestation finally when I went heading down the bricky track! Here are my interpretations and all the learnings – some that I have conquered, some that I hopefully will and some that I doubt I ever will.

Pride: Your pride is at stake when you fall down. Not one, but two of my very good friends from two completely different groups asked me “did somebody see you fall?”  Of course it was all in jest. But that is one thing you notice. I did look around too. And was happy to see only I saw it happen. Why do we take it as a humiliation? I need to still find an answer to it. [TO BE CONQUERED]

Honour:  So a few years ago when my dad fell down as he tried to dribble a stray football in a park I was upset. Not as much as for that I couldn’t help him since I was just behind him (bad reflexes that I have!) but more so as I had never seen him lose his balance ever. He was perfect. Someone who had a gait of a lion. Who has ever seen a lion fall down?  It however taught me that daddy’s are humans too. Spiderman does lose his grip sometimes but he will always be Spiderman! [CONQUERED]

Fear/Phobia: I witnessed a friend’s foot getting tangled to a chain-barrier as she was crossing over it. She fell right on her face. Ever since that day, which happened nearly two decades ago, I have a fear of such chain-barriers.  No matter how low they are to the surface I would rather skip crossing over them. The very thought of it is making me nervous now. [CAN NEVER BE CONQUERED]

Health:  I remember my mother telling me a few months ago, based on facts that people tend to start falling down more as they age due to a deficiency of a vitamin – was it B-complex? Only, if I had heard it better then because once she starts talking science I just try to grasp the essence and skip the technicalities and I confess I can’t tell one vitamin from the other! Which now means that I will be asking her to repeat herself on this subject (which she would be happy too like always!) and I would listen carefully this time! My diet needs modifying. [TO BE CONQUERED]

Mental: I must be thinking something! That is what I do usually – live in my vicarious world and play situations in my head that will most likely never happen in the real world. Not the superstar ones where I am dancing on the stage and have a frenzied audience but the ones where I have smart answers to everything and smart reactions to every situation! Pretty realistic but still a dream! Time to shake off the thoughts and replace them with practical ones. I can’t see myself falling down over them! [TO BE CONQUERED]

Philosophical: The crux- I am catching up with age. Strangely, all my mirrors lie. But this is a sign that my reflexes are getting poorer – the shoes are the same, the jogging track is the same. Time to toy with the idea that got planted this morning by my brother who, unaware that  I had a fall (pity he is not on my Snapchat!), suggested that I should try dancing as it is the best form of exercise. I need to give this a thought. My chances of falling down with a thud are less in this exercise forma. I will skip ballet anyway – my body is too rigid for it! [NEARLY CONQUERED]

Astrological: I fell down on a Saturday and my mother, who balances her life between uber modernity and unbelievable superstitiousness, was not too pleased when I recounted my “great” fall over the phone to her. It could be a sheer coincidence that most of the time we, the family, have a great fall it usually happens on a Saturday. She fell off a cycle in a cycle shop  on a Saturday herself about 6 months ago as she unwillingly mounted a new cycle to choose for me simply because I couldn’t do it myself as I was wearing a skirt! My daughter, again on a Saturday, had a bad fall from a cycle 2-3 years ago. I did go to the temple that evening to appease Lord Saturn for something I don’t know what I had caused his fury about. [NO COMMENTS]

What all one fall can do! Talk about Newton! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Anti anti-ageing

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While scientists relentlessly look for anti-ageing formulae, the alchemy of modern times, I feel at peace without it. Of course, like any normal person, I wish to remain fit and healthy but when it comes to cosmetology I would like age to takes it normal course. I am happy with the wrinkles being added daily to my pushing-40 skin; I am happy with my necklines becoming deeper and I am in no hurry to apply a hair colour to mask my grey hair. No, I am not lazy or being miser, I have just realized something and it took me many years to come to this conclusion.

I would be for once and all taken seriously.

I would be (hopefully) not leched upon or at least the degree of leching would come down.

I would not be told by people especially of my own age on how to go about things just because I happen to ‘look’ younger.

Youth is beautiful undoubtedly but it comes with too many burdens, many of them expressed above. I have come past my youth biologically and really, I don’t miss anything about it. They were the most unproductive years of my life. Useless crushes (men who have now a pot-belly and are bald), stupid fights with sibling, parents and friends and being unfocused was what my youth was all about.

As I am pushing into my 40s, mentally I feel I have grown a lot stronger. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve and Mr. Darcy, I know is just there in the books. Although, a very dear friend of mine refused to let me cross a busy road on my own when I was visiting her place! And she is good nine years younger than I am! Or is it to do with my physical self? Besides being a shorty, the ageing process is taking its sweet time (blame my genes from my mum’s). So I may not be looking say in my 20’s but neither do I appear to be in the reaching-40s zone..yet!

I feel empowered when I am called, ‘aunty’ by my daughter’s friends. It is not awkward any longer. It puts my brain then in an autopilot ‘older’ mode. I do remember how one of my aunts hates being called ‘mataji’ despite being in her 50s! But then, to each his/her own!

So goodbye to all the creams and lotions with ‘anti-ageing’ properties!  I want to walk on the streets comfortably not having to look at my clothes and wonder what I wore wrong that is making these nothing-else-to-do men on the street stare at me. I want to do the telling and not be told( unless of course I am being told by my folks!). I want to relax.  Something that youth denies you.

(image courtesy:  http://www.toonpool.com/user/83616/files/beauty_salon_cartoon_1984055.jpg)

To go or not to go

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Visiting a doctor is a big no-no from where I come from. Basically, just a big no-no from my mum. Going to a doctor, as she says, is like inviting trouble. So, besides visiting the dentist once a year (which I have to) and the optician once in two years (which, again I have to), it is very rare to see us making a trip to the doctor’s sanctum sanctorum. Besides, you do have round-the-clock chemists or even an alternative therapy for the ailment that is causing you misery. Until a few months ago this doctor-visit-phobia was exclusive to my mum but recently it caught up with me too. So much so that my trip to the optician (after a year and a half!) yesterday was filled with extreme horror. I was full of nerves and was just waiting to be told that I would be losing my eyesight soon.

The root of all these awful thoughts got embedded a month ago when I got to know that one of my very good friends, who recently touched his mid-thirties, has a cataract in his left eye! Considering that his eyesight is 6/6! And there were no complaints from him before. And neither did he make a trip to the eye doctor! The eye doctor, in fact, made a trip to him! In the sense, it so happened that there was an eye-checkup camp at his office building a month ago. Just for the heck, he went there along with his colleagues. And it was then that the penny dropped!

So if you look at it, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  It would have been much severe later on.  But what if he had never been to the eye-checkup camp at all in the first place? He would have possibly been just like he was now? No? I know it is a contradictory state of mind that is right now hitting the keys.

After months of suffering from an ulcer in the tongue, my father finally decided to get up and visit the doctor. No gel or pill was helping him. And it turned out to be a terminal disease! Glad that he didn’t wait any longer to make that trip!

I still fear visiting any doc for any kind of pain that I suffer from (and mostly, it is in my head), sometimes it’s a lump here or there but it is about time that I start to see the positive side of making a trip to the doctor. And for all the other days, do like my mum says, follow moderation in life!  Life’s dilemmas…

(image courtesy: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/e2/bf/8e/e2bf8e4ceb45c2b6273e88d07e370e3c.jpg)

2015 – my year that was

2015 was a crazy year.

I returned from the UK once again! This was the third time (and the last – I think, no, I am sure). I do love the country and will continue to remain in its debt for all the things – little and big – that it taught me. And mostly for the support it lent me when I needed it the most – as a struggling single mum. I don’t remember struggling at all for anything in life prior to that and precisely that’s why I yearned to go back to where I always lived on my own terms – India. I don’t know if a life without struggle is a blessing or a curse for I continue to be in inertia all these years. I live a happily vicarious life and I don’t seem to be complaining.

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In retrospect, I now wonder if, like everything else in our universe, was my return also to serve a cosmic purpose? My father had an awful double whammy – a leg accident which made him temporarily immobile followed by the mother of all diseases – carcinoma! Carcinoma, you ask what is it? It is that miserable disease starting with C. No, I am not supposed to say THE word as mum considers it a taboo. I used the word many times initially as a matter of fact, however I was reprimanded by both her and my darling maternal aunt. As much as I would like to call a spade a spade I respect their wishes and will take it that you have worked it out what it means. The last quarter of the year was the toughest for all of us at home – especially for my father who went through the terrible 6 weeks of radiation therapy. My mum who usually is seen as mentally fragile shocked us all by being the strongest. She, who cries at the drop of a hat, was on her toes throughout this phase. Relatives and friends also stood by us. And I believe somewhere I was a good nurse. I was a good buffer for both of them and kept hold of sanity. Hence, my return was perhaps all destined.

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Well, that was the personal front. Professionally, I went back to square one. Travels, relocation and mostly, increase in my voice-over rates saw a drop in my clients. I however randomly did end up taking English tuitions of an office goer on a special request of a friend and realized that it was fun. It kept me disciplined and gave me that power kick. I felt good. It boosted my confidence. I hope to take up tutoring seriously this year and see how I can revive my voice-over work.

Vocationally, in my free time I wrote a children’s story early last year which my daughter loved reading. My long time mission of writing something for her got fulfilled. Hopefully, it will get published someday after my friend-cum-(very fussy) editor is satisfied (three drafts already!). And then I started this blog too last year where I pour my heart out and also hone my writing skills.

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So, what did I learn from last year?

  1. Healthy matters.
  2. If something has to happen, it will.
  3. You need to be strong throughout and as Rhonda Byrne says, count your blessings. I do …every single day.

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(image 1: on our flight from the UK to India in Apr last yr)

(image 2: my daughter with my father in Bhubaneshwar in June last yr)

(image 3: courtesy: http://www.contentcreatorz.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/story-book.jpg)

(image 4: courtesy: http://www.multipleblessings.com/bw/wp-content/media/blogger/MB_Count%2BYour%2BBlessings%2B14x6.jpg)