some thoughts ..

I wrote this post a month back during my last week in the US of A. Publishing it here because I just wanted to maintain a record of my thoughts during that time 🙂
As I am on the brink of moving back to India after almost a decade, as I sit in my favorite rocking chair, waiting for the movers to arrive to pick up our boxes for shipping, I look outside and see the leaves falling. Its fall. After a fabulous summer, today is the first day it actually feels like fall. Which also happens to be my favorite season. My mind wanders away from the code I am supposed to be writing, before I wrap up work related stuff. And I feel tears in my eyes. I am not a person who cries easily, but in the past few days, this
has happened multiple times. By myself, in front of husband, in front of my dear dear friends and in front of our puzzled 2 year old, wondering why mommy is crying for no apparent reason.

It is an understatement that I will miss the US. The fact that I absolutely loved staying here, is making the (well thought of, apparently) move very difficult. I think there is one thing I am going to miss the most (among so many other things/people):
US gave me a free, clutter-free environment to grow. I am going to miss that. Growing up in India was very “busy”. Very overwhelming. Especially the years leading up to my moving from India to US for my higher studies were super chaotic and personally very difficult. Always something happening, innumerable people to talk to, listen to, things to do, small everyday things causing problems, sucking up all your energy and time and at the end of the day I remember having no bandwidth to think about anything. But to just crash in bed. I remember during those years, the need to escape, the need for a change in environment.

I think the ease of doing everyday things in US cleared up so much of my time, decluttered so much of my mind, that after many years I actually started thinking about life, introspecting about the type of person I was, the type of person I wanted to be, the type of relationships I wanted to build, the meaning of happiness. On a regular basis. Also, I was able to detach myself from the problems I was having in life at that time. The change in country definitely helped with that. And I think all this has made me a much calmer and “at peace with myself” person. I think detaching myself from the
chaos greatly helped me. And for this, I will be always greatful to my years in the US. The thing I am most worried about is getting sucked in the everyday mundane-ness and the “one thing after the other” kind of life. I hope
whatever I learnt in the past decade here, the way of living life, I can apply it in India. I wish I can keep myself calm, “at peace” amidst the chaos. I wish I can feel the quiet I am feeling now, in India as well.

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Break ke baad…

I am currently busy being overwhelmed by the happenings in life and hence unable to write. This blog will continue after a short break, when I am able to catch my breath. 🙂

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Mish-mashed thoughts

These days many random things go about in my mind and before I can form a post out of one random thing, another one pops up. And hence these days making lists of random things makes more sense. Plus, it takes less time!

Something as simple as warm rye toast topped with sliced avocado and sprinkled with some S&P and lime juice can taste so heavenly is difficult to believe. But it really is. It is like a taste explosion in the mouth. I think I can eat it every day for every meal for the rest of my life. That good.

Back in college I was rarely hit upon by guys. Not that I minded it, because the few times I did get that attention, it made me nervous! I found out many years later from those same guys (who are now my close buddies) that they used to be scared to flirt with me and used to always get the impression that I would scoff at them or turn their attention down! It was an interesting piece of information!

In continuation with the above point, after what seemed like ages, I dressed up (which rarely happens) and went clubbing with few girl friends in SF. And in that span of 2 hours I got hit upon innumerable times! Now, I am not sure if this is common in clubs because I am not really a party animal. But it did feel kind of nice (and weird) to get all the attention from guys who were all so charming and pretty hot! In any case I had a fabulous time just dancing away to good music. I also ended up whistling at a desi guy who was dancing with us (he was dancing so well!) and he got so flattered that he twirled me around and taught me some nice steps! heh :D. Overall, it was a weekend well spent, doing stuff which I generally do not do – mani-pedis, shopping, clubbing and whistling at guys. I did miss the husband but knowing that he was having fun with his friends, made me feel better.

There are certain qualities that turn me off and make me repel people having those qualities as their primary one. But I have realized that it is equally important to spend time with such people as well. It kind of serves as a reminder to why I dislike those qualities and makes it that much improbable for me to have them.

Last night I again had a bad dream, which I do not remember. But I woke up yelling and crying in my sleep (and in the process shocking poor S) and S had to nudge me and pat me to put me back to sleep. I am finding all this dreams business highly frustrating and I wish I can root cause the reason why get these nightmares.

There is lot of pain and injustice in the world. And all of us, need to share it. That is what I like to think of when something unfortunate happens to me. But sometimes I cannot help wonder, why cannot this sharing of the bad be equal. I see so many good people around me dealt with crappy cards and shitty situations and the obvious cruel/mean people just living in their glass palaces, untouched by anything bad happening around them. I know there are things beyond good, bad, fair, unfair..but sometimes I wish that things should just fall in place for some of the good people that I know. I breaks me every time I think of the injustice they have to face. And there is nothing much I can do to change that.

What is with people putting up their babies on facebook contest where the baby with maximum likes gets voted the “cutest baby”! It is bad enough that schools and society in general teach you to be competitive from an early age, putting pressure on kids to be the best at everything. But seriously putting up babies in cute-ness competition?! It is so not cute.


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Scattered thoughts

  • Adapting to change should come naturally to humans, no? Considering that we survived over so many other species because we adapted to our surroundings. Shouldn’t it be like second nature to us? But in day to day life, why is it so hard to accept change? To be comfortable with whatever changes that are going on in your life, or will go on in the near future? Especially if this change is something that is out of your comfort zone? A change like you have never witnessed before? For me, if a change means shifting to a new city, a new country or even a new job, that would be something exciting to me. Because even though it is a change, it is something I have been through before. And enjoyed it. But what about a change I have not been through before?! Howmuchever excited I might be about this change, there is this tugging at the back of my mind. What if? What if it does not go the way I imagined it to go? What if I can no longer do the things I like. S reckons I will always find a way to do the things I really like. That is true. To some extent. But it might not always be easy. He also reckoned that I might not know whether I like this change or not, unless I actually witness it. Which is also true. But still…
  • I was telling S the other day about a very bad dream I had and I woke him up in the middle of the night, scared and shivering. Very rarely I remember the dreams I have. And except for the one time (long time back when I was a kid), all the dreams are scary or unhappy dreams. This kind of freaks me out and makes me a little sad. Because, I am not an unhappy person, by nature. My mind is restless constantly, for sure. But definitely not sad. And it troubles me that I do not get any happy dreams. (I might be getting a few, but I never remember them!). And the thing is, I don’t mind having a restless mind. I actually like having multiple threads going on in my mind, analyzing things, situations, life. It is necessary for me to think (and sometimes over-think) to remain sane. And this thinking makes my mind restless, when ironically all I am trying to do is understand things. Simplify them. I was reading online that a mind not at rest get these extreme dreams. But for a change, one extreme happy dream? Pretty please?
  • Among other news, there are 2 upcoming weddings in the next few months, featuring 4 of my close friends from grad school. Both these couples fought a long (of 5+ years) and hard battle to get their families to agree and now they are finally getting married! This makes me so happy, seeing people sticking with each other through the hard times. It is never easy, waging this battle with parents to be with the person you love. Such cases kind of make me believe in love even more. And even though I will be missing their weddings, I just feel so involved in their weddings because we all meet up so often to discuss it (we stay minutes apart from each other!) and I cannot be more excited for them 🙂
  • Sometime back, I was watching Michael Palin’s travel documentary on the Himalayas. And I was struck by a major wanderlust. For days I was dreaming about going and hibernating in the mountains. It is no secret that I LOVE nature. Absolutely love the mountains. That is my favorite way to spend time – outdoors. And I wish travelling and hiking is something I am able to do throughout my life. I hope I am physically and financially able to do these two things.

And, the thoughts remain scattered…

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me and her

Sometimes, it gets so tiring to live in the first person. There are numerous times, when I am actually living in the third person. Where I am just the observer. And I am observing myself (the myself who is living in first person) and the world in general. We always talk about a person having multiple facets, multiple personalities. And for me, I think the two major personalities are me as a first person and me as the third person. At any given time, one of these two will be on the forefront. There are times, I feel ‘totally’ cut off from my surroundings. And where the primary me, the more involved me, is the observer. I am doing nothing but observing myself, the other myself who is actually living life. I have found these times to be unsettling and calming at the same time. Unsettling, because I am observing myself as a third person (as a stranger) and calming, because I am not living in the first person. Yesterday, I ‘wanted’ to be involved in the situation. I wanted to actually ‘feel’, but I was adamant to be the observer. I am not saying that is bad, but it is just amusing to me that I was so adamant that I didn’t even listen to myself. The ‘other’ myself.


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On marriage..

It is amazing how many different paths life can take. How many different sets of people one can meet on any of these paths. And I will always be glad and thankful that I chose my grad-school as my grad school, after being so close to choosing another school. And I am equally glad S chose the same school after listening to his adviser who was pressurizing him to come to the US. And I am so glad our paths crossed. 3 years back, on this exact day, we sat at the dining table at S’s home in Kolkata and signed some paper that bound us legally.
I was not sure whether to even write about this on the blog. Our marriage anniversary is used mostly just as another excuse to celebrate. Before we got married, I was a bit skeptical about this whole marriage concept. The act of signing some papers and being legally bound somehow felt unnecessary to me (and I think to S as well). I always feel that if I didn’t have my near and dear ones to answer to, I would have preferred a live in relationship (And even though my mom agrees to my logic behind live in relationships, I am pretty sure she would not have been comfortable with that arrangement). It somehow seems more sincere to me. You stay with each other just because you want to stay with each other. There is no added legal bond binding two people together. That does not, in any way mean being married is insincere. But I feel marriage is meant more for the sake of the society and the acceptance of your relationship by the society. But then, how much is this societal acceptance even necessary? I wonder and I am yet to find an answer to this! Anyway, celebrating the marriage day, a day meant mostly as an assurance for the society seems strange to me. But then, if it had not been for this marriage, it would have been difficult for both of us to be together. We might have even stayed together without getting married, but then in today’s society being married is a lot easier than being in a live in relationship, howmuchever sincere and strong your relationship might be.

Marriage or no marriage, I am just glad S is a part of my life. With that, I raise my glass to toast – May our silliness and the laughs never end, may our arguments never end, may we finally fill the empty photo-frames in the living room with our photos (because it is driving me nuts to see them empty for 3 years!!), may the companionship and friendship last forever and may both of us continue growing as individuals, together. cheers!

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Why are starts so hyped? I mean, why do we have to start a good thing on something like say new years? Why wait for that particular day? I was amused yesterday when I went to my company gym (for the first time this year) and saw so many new faces. There were of course, the regulars too, but I was just amazed to see the gym packed full. Though this is not surprising, we do see a lot of people make many resolutions and some stick to it and most of them let go of them. But I am pretty sure, whoever stick to it, would have stuck to it even if they had taken those resolutions at a time say earlier than Jan 1st. I almost never do new year resolutions. Mainly because they overwhelm me, and I do not like getting overwhelmed. I rarely like to challenge myself in the areas I don’t feel deserve that much attention. I value my carefree way of living a lot and though I am told I need a little bit more self discipline, personally I feel I do pretty well with whatever discipline I have! And also, I do make resolutions at random times and stick to them most often than not. And the basis I make resolutions at random times is because at those times, something goes off in my mind which makes me feel that I should be doing that particular thing. Now, chances are less that I would be getting many such triggers on new years eve to do many such things, hence, staying away from new year resolutions. But I do wish to list some of the things that I decided upon and have stuck to it for many years now.

1) Like stated in this post, getting over my anger. One of my proudest and most important achievements.

2) Being more content and reducing the “wants” in life. Again, one of the major contributors to my peace. I am not sure the exact time when I decided I wanted to do this, but it was more of a gradual process in reducing my wants. But definitely a conscious one.

3) Photography. This is a hobby that I took up out of sheer desperation, when I realized that I had no sustained hobby. I don’t think “reading” counts as a hobby, because everyone must read!! Food for the brain. And even though I enjoy photography immensely, it takes quite some effort to actively pursue it, improve upon it and practice it. When I was in school/college, I used to paint and I let go of that “liking” out of sheer laziness.

4) Cooking often at home. This “resolution” has not been voluntary to start with and stemmed from the fact that my mom made me promise that I would create interest in cooking. And what started off as a threat by mom, has turned into a habit now. S and I cook at home for most of the days and the benefits of eating at home are countless, if you ask me. And though I don’t “like” to cook per se, I no longer dread it. And sometimes even enjoy cooking a particular recipe!

5) Be more sincere. In whatever I say, do, hear. I guess I was always pretty sincere in my acts (as in, I rarely tried to fit in anywhere, rarely said things I did not mean etc), but these days, that need has intensified. I almost never say things I don’t mean. This means, I have become a lot quieter than my hay-days, because you gotta keep quiet to avoid speaking something that you might later regret. These days, I no longer feel the need to prove myself right or to prove a particular point. Someone who has known me for a long time has told me that I have become very detached from things around me. Which is true, in a way. Things around me interest me, make me think and talk about them, but I do not feel “involved” in them.

6) Keep health as one of the priorities at ALL times. Whether in happiness, depression, however busy life gets, one can ALWAYS make healthy choices.

PS: I have another post in the drafts which deals with many “ends”. The ending of so many lives in the Newtown shooting and the tragic end of life of the brave Delhi girl. I wrote about it, but I just did not have the heart to post it. All I can say is that their near and dear ones find the courage to deal with the loss. And that India becomes safe for women. (more on this in another post)

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The journey towards home

I have always thought of myself as someone who lives mostly in the past. By that I mean, I think of my past a lot. And by think, I mean in an analyzing sort of way and not why-did-that-happen-to-me sort of way. More than necessary, maybe. I love talking about the past, drawing inspiration from the past, thinking about how I behaved in the past and analyzing it. I rarely think about the future. It sometimes scares me that I literally have no idea where I want to be in life few years from now, or few days from now. Needless to say, nostalgia is a big thing in my life.
And for this reason, trips to India, to home, are even more special. Apart from meeting some of the most dear people, I feel I always find more about myself when I visit places which were a big part of me (in a more active way) many years back. And this time, the trip started amazingly the moment I came out of the Mumbai airport. In spite of me telling my mom not to exert herself and come to the airport, there she was, standing in the crowd, wearing a familiar salwar-kameez and with her trademark shock-white hair (which I was sad to note had become even whiter in the past year). I literally ran to her, we hugged each other and as usual she remarked how thin and underfed I looked. (She always says this, even though I go back with extra pounds!)
We boarded the service/travels which ferries travelers from Mumbai to Pune along with 4 other people. I made myself comfortable and opened the dabba which mom had got for me (again, something she does every time!), which had my favorite faral items. This was the first time I was going home during diwali in 6 years and needless to say, it was bliss eating all that amazing stuff after what seemed like an eternity.
Anyway, we got talking with one other traveler in the car, an uncle who stayed in the same locality we used to stay many years back. My mom and he both remarked that how they think their faces look familiar, when after some time we realized that he is the same uncle who used to own and run an ice cream shop (Dinshaw’s brand) right around the corner of my childhood home. And we used to frequent the shop often. I remember the shop fondly (though I was very young to recollect the face of the uncle who ran the shop), I also remember the name of the ice cream sundae I used to always take. It was called “jumble double” and consisted of two scoops of ice cream in the flavor of your choice, topped with chocolate and caramel syrups and some nuts. This was long back, almost 20 years back and that uncle was amazed that I remembered what I used to order. But then a lot of people are amazed when I tell them I remember very small details (probably insignificant, now) from my childhood. Things like parts of conversation with people or what I had exactly thought on a particular day at a particular moment or what I had eaten on a particular day many years back. Anyway, the uncle said that the shop no longer exists and he retired some years ago. It was such fun talking about all the familiar places around our old locality.
The moment we got out of Mumbai and hit the expressway, the driver of our car put some songs on his CD player and I was delighted to hear all the familiar Sandeep Khare’s poems and songs. Khare is one of my favorite marathi poets. Our conversation slowly dissolved in the songs as we savored the melodies. I think the ride from Mumbai to pune was one of the highlights of the trip. The setting was perfect. It was dawn (around 4.30 am) and the sun had just started to rise, a cool breeze on an unusually empty expressway, amazing melodies emanating from the player, my mom by my side and me munching on home cooked snacks and thinking about all the good things in life. Also, I saw one of the best sunrises I have ever seen, that morning. When we entered a still-sleepy Pune, we crossed a bridge and I saw this silhouette of a rower with his boat in the river, and the orange-yellow soft sunlight beautifully lighting up the entire river which was partially covered by fog. It almost killed me a little bit that I could not get the car to stop so that I could capture that amazing setting on my camera. I sighed and savored that setting with my eyes, and dreamed about home.

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A comeback…sort of!

I am not sure what exactly I am about to write, because I don’t really have a particular point in my mind. Happens a lot these days. Not having a particular point and lots of random thoughts in mind trying to figure out if at all there is a point. In my mind. Or to anything. I generally attribute this state of being to being lost. So these past few weeks, there has been a background thread running in my mind as to what really defines me. Is there anything that is really “me”? In its pure unadulterated form? Whatever I like or dislike, whatever I do/don’t do, whatever I am or not am…that is a result of the happenings and influences around me. So, if the influences had been different, the environment different, would it have resulted in a different “me”? I always hear people saying “be yourself. Do what you like”, but even this, I have never really understood. What does being yourself really mean? At a very superficial level I guess it means not to be influenced by other peoples’ perception of you and doing what you like. But then, you liking a particular thing is in itself influenced by so many people and happenings around you. Your surroundings. And I sometimes wonder – Just because you are doing what you really like to do, are you being yourself? (whatever that even means). Anyway, this thought that whatever “me” I know myself as, is variable, was bothering me no end. And I had a lengthy intense discussion with the husband about this. Anyway, bottom line is life is a journey where you find yourself. By looking inside you, questioning you, and by making sure the known and the knower are the same.

Among other interesting things,
Met up with fellow blogger and college batch-mate yamini over coffee and chocolate cake. We spoke, ate, walked and chilled out on a lazy sunday afternoon by the lake. iLike 🙂

Went camping with grad school gang and had awesome time. There were many “firsts” on this trip and they turned out to be interesting experiences. 😉

Another camping weekend happened with some friends and was fun as always. I am realizing that camping can get highly addictive. Who needs hot showers, soft comfy beds when you get to wake up to chirping birds and stove side maggi.

I have been questioning myself on whether I should stop blogging because these days I am not really finding anything in it. But then, few days back, in a particular weird state of mind, I read one of my old posts and got some comfort! 😀 So I guess, blogging is still on, for now.

I recently realized that one of my common lines to the husband these days is “mujhe bohot ajeeb feel ho raha hai” (I am feeling very weird!). This always precedes the conversations I mentioned above.

Another short trip is happening and that is a hiking+camping trip in Utah. But for that, I really need to buckle up and spend the next few remaining days in the gym preparing myself to keep up with the other expert hikers in the group 🙂

Oh, and yes..Fall is here! My favorite time of the year. I love the slight chill, falling leaves, orange, pumpkins and squashes in the farmers’, scarves and chunky sweaters, hot starbucks and cozying under the blanket for some extra time in the morning.

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The day I took the plunge!!

There are certain things people keep doing and which are talked about a great deal. Things like falling in love, experiencing the thrill of living by yourself for the first time or engaging in adventure sports like bungee jumping, skydiving and WW rafting. All these things are talked about in such a great deal of detail that all of them have become clichéd. And yet, when you yourself experience one of these things for the first time, howmuchever clichéd they might be, the thrill is tremendous. For me, I have always wanted to do all the dare-devil sports. And I kept thinking about doing all of them in my head for many years, so much so that I kind of got tired thinking about them and waiting for the right time to do them!! (things like lack of money, lack of time and lack of other resources always got in the way!!).

And just like that, during dinner with some of my friends, we were talking about the psychological effects of turning 30, and whether one looks at life differently. One of my friends was turning 30 in a few days from the said dinner. And I mentioned how I am turning more scared of things in general as I am growing older. And how I am not liking it. And I mentioned that I really wanted to do skydiving before I got so scared that I changed my mind! And just like that, it was decided that all of us would go skydiving the weekend after my friend’s 30th birthday! Reservations were made, videos were watched, deep breathing exercises were practised and much anticipation was built in those couple of weeks leading up to the D-day! For many days I was battling myself on whether to tell my mom about this whole thing. At first, I was not going to tell her, and had planned on writing a letter and keeping it, just in case anything happened! But then, I scrapped the plan and went ahead and told them everything! I had a whole speech prepared because I was so sure mom would object, but to my utter surprise, the moment I told her, she squealed with delight and said that finally I am going ahead and doing it! And that even she wants to do it some day! (there went my speech). There are so many such times when my mom really surprises the heck out of me!!

Anyway, so a big burden off my chest, I was happier that I was going to do it with my parents fully aware of what I was up to. When the said day arrived, we reached the place an hour late after battling horrible traffic and were sure that we had missed our appointment. But they did accommodate us in the next few slots, and in the meantime we were told to sign some papers. Things like we realised the risks and that this might lead to our death. Once the formalities were taken care of, the husband and I went to the watching area to watch two of our friends take the jump first. Once their jump was over, we were tucked into our jump-suits and were scooted off to the waiting aeroplane. They did ask us if we wanted to say anything for our friends and family before we went. S said something along the lines of “go skydiving” and I said “I do hope I survive this jump to actually tell the tale” :D. Once our statements were captured on the video, the plane started, and with that so did the acceleration of my heartbeat. I knew I wasn’t scared per se, but my heart rate was definitely up! Once we reached 14,000ft (which is the highest height they were offering), S who was seated next to the door, got ready for his jump first. The moment the door was opened, that was the first time I actually realised the height and the amount of wind outside! And just like that, in the blink of an eye, S and his instructor disappeared. I think that was the first scariest moment for me, and I, very dramatically shouted S’s name!! Next was my turn, and we scooted closer to the door. I guess in the entire skydiving experience, for me the scariest moment was the point when I was dangling from the plane, ready to jump. Scary and exciting at the same time. Because once I jumped, the wind was so strong that I couldn’t really think about anything much!! The first 50 seconds before the parachute opens is the free fall, where you are falling rapidly down (The speed was scary, based of the amount of upward wind thrust that was hitting my face!). In the pictures and the video it seems as if you are floating in the air like a bird, but in reality gravity if doing one heck of a job!!

The birds in the sky!

After about 50 seconds of free fall, the parachute opened and the instructor gave me the steering of the parachute so that I could operate it. I was extremely thrilled to be given such a big responsibility 😉 and grabbed the steering. We then did some sharp turns and somersaults and then glided around for a bit. The views were amazing, we could see the Santa Cruz beach, the fog covered hills and the highway. S, who had jumped before me had already landed and I could see his parachute touch ground below me. During the time of my landing, the wind was a bit eccentric and the instructor told me that we wound be doing a horizontal landing, where I might land on my bum. And that is what happened. I touched back down, on the earth, safe and sound. I thanked the instructor and babbled something about how awesome I was feeling to be alive. I ran and hugged S, then my friends and my instructor.

The entire way back, I was reliving the jump and smiling to myself at the amazing thing I had experienced. I think it will be a while before I forget the feeling.

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