Thursday, August 10, 2017

The world of boxes

Was musing last night over why we feel lost sometimes. I encounter this question many times in my own life, “where in this world do I fit?”. Mostly with regard to profession, “Who am I?”, “Am I really a web developer? But I love to write”. Or, “am I a feminist?” I am all for equality of the genders but I can’t help feeling taken care of on occasion when the guy pays for the meal when we are out together.
It’s hard for me to tick the boxes I fit in, and I wonder if we could live in a box-less world. An attempt at poetry after REALLY long. (Maybe years). May not be as crisp as it used to be, but it had to be put it in this form:
Some people feel strongly about something,
they wear it with passion and pride.
But in this labelled world,
your eccentricities you have to hide.
Some things I like on some days,
And on other days I don’t.
And sometimes I don’t have an opinion,
No particular preference or want.
In the current world we live in,
we are defined by our voice.
With what we like or stand for,
but not why we find it nice.
Not with how we express that like,
or how it makes us feel,
but with what it is,
that’s the only thing held real.
You may like a butterfly,
for it is colourful and nice,
I may like it because of the way,
it flutters when it flies.
The world isn’t black and white,
sometimes we confuse it as so,
and with all the knowledge we have gained,
there is still so little that we know.
We feel lost because of the boxes,
that we put people in,
boxes based on what they like or do,
than what makes them sing.
It’s time we got rid of boxes along with labels,
For in the quest of finding a box of our own,
we will miss out on the truth of life itself.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Until next time, Neil..

I haven’t met anyone that was so passionate about life as Neil was. He spread energy and joy wherever he went. Be it a shop owner, a friend, the postman or just someone who lived in the vicinity, there is no one who hasn’t been impacted by his energy. Neil loved everyone and everything. The places he had been to, the food that he ate & liked.. Neil loved to explore new things, especially food and places. He loved being in the outdoors and almost everyone who had met him once remembered him fondly.

Neil and I met through our common friend Mona, who met him first on a social networking site known as hi5, that existed years ago, in 2004-2005. We exchanged messages on it, and were fascinated with how he described all of Parel in text, right from a small Aarey outlet, to the old buildings and hospitals, all upto Matunga where he went to school at Don Bosco. Such was his memory. Neil could tell you stories about every place. He could tell you where names of things came from, or where the patterns of grills or foothpath tiles came from. “It is all geometry”, he used to say. 
Slowly, he entered our lives and found a place almost immediately in our families. It was like we knew him for ages. Everyone in our building knew him, right from grandparents to grandkids. Such was Neil, made people feel welcome and comfortable, joked with both the young & old and never discriminated. He valued friendship immensely and loved making people feel special on their birthdays and anniversaries and well, every day.
Neil’s idea to surprise my parents with a cake on their anniversary!!

Neil and my mom fooling around at Mona’s wedding

In the local when Neil came to drop us home
Neil always brought either sweets (that he himself loved to gobble up with us :P) or snacks each time he came to visit, so I remember once in December 2016, when he came home and his health was deteriorating, he couldn’t even walk straight but was very apologetic instead that he wasn’t able to bring anything that time. That was him, always putting others before himself, even in pain.
When he got Pictionary at my place and got mom to play it too! :)

I confided in Neil with many of my own issues but often didn’t require to say much. Neil always spoke the right things, not just because he listened, but because he could feel. He wasn’t one to sympathise but empathise instead, a quality that very few possess in this time. The days I didn’t say much, even a phone call that comprised of mundane conversation uplifted me and filled me with energy enough to get through my pain. And that is what baffles me, that the energy he contained wasn’t enough for him to get through his own fight. But then again, I also feel that we should seek warmth and comfort in the knowledge that he may be finally in the right place now, for a heart like his couldn’t find a place here on earth.

Until next time, please rest in peace Neil. We are all always with you ❤

Monday, July 3, 2017

Tea Culture of the World: Chamomile and Kashmiri Kahwa

Those of you who know me or even follow me on social platforms are well acquainted with my love for tea and trying out different kinds of it. Though my personal favourite will always be the milky masala chai, I always like to experiment with exotic teas and savour them on days when I feel like soothing my nerves down and indulging myself at the same time :) Also, this monsoon calls out for hot beverages, and so this tea box from Tea Culture of the World arrived just in time :)

First of all, I was wowed with the box and the colours overall, the box also has a pleasant scent when you open it, I am guessing it is the wood. Anyway, I was having quite a rough day and so, I thought of trying out the Chamomile tea, aware of its stress relieving properties! 

I liked the feel of the tea bag too, silky tea bags look so classy! Also you can properly see the dried flower petals and other parts of the flower in this one, and so I could judge the quality of the tea from this.

As my guess was, once brewed, the tea turned out to be quite pure, it went down smoothly and left a sweet aftertaste, something I look for in most teas. I made a mistake of brewing it a bit too much though (5 minutes would have been enough), and it ended up slightly bitter. I will brew it as per the instructions given behind.

My excitement got the better of me that day and I skipped looking at the back of the packet!! Next time, I will know better. I also plan to try it with lemon grass next, for a variety in flavour :)

Next, I was in the mood for something desi, with spices and the like, and I carefully selected the Kashmiri Kahwa tea from this collection.

Like I guessed, the tea bag had a lot of fresh spices in it along with some black leaves, that I am guessing were Kahwa leaves.

I brewed it as per the instructions given at the back, and I am so glad I did that!!

The result was a wonderful brew of Kahwa with subtle sweetness of almonds. I was quite surprised with the almond taste as I couldn't spot almonds in the tea bag, nor was there any mention of it on the packet, but I am sure there was something! My mom said it was the taste of cinnamon that mixed with the other spices to give the palate that flavour. Anyway, I sure liked it and look forward to having it again. 

There are six more teas that I can't wait to try: Oolong, Darjeeling, Imperial White, Earl Grey, Rooibos and Sencha. I may have a mini tea party at home to try these, as it would be more fun that way! Shall share my experience soon!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Runaway Bride (Review)

I know it's not common to review a movie after nearly two decades of its release! But not a lot of movies make it to my 'favourites' list and it so happened that I watched it just recently. Though I end up liking / enjoying almost every movie I watch, there are some that I especially relate to, and "Runaway Bride" easily makes it to that list.

It aired on Romedy Now some time ago and honestly, when I checked the description, it seemed very cliche - "A reporter falls in love with a small town girl who is known as the Runaway Bride." My dad was watching it and the characters and dialogues kept me glued to it, despite the description. And I am glad I continued to watch.

The plot goes like this: A woman, Maggie (played by Julia Roberts), is infamous for leaving men at the altar, which earns her the title: the "Runaway Bride" in a little country side town in Maryland. She has left three men already and is about to marry a fourth one.

Ike (played by the very handsome Richard Gere) is a reporter in New York who wants to do a story on Maggie and chases the people she is friends with, chases all the men she has left at the altar and tries to find out more about her in the process. Eventually, after unsuccessfully trying to dampen all his attempts and efforts at this, Maggie decides to give in. She strikes a deal with Ike where she would help him with the story if he agrees to give her some money, buy a killer wedding dress for her upcoming wedding (to the fourth man) and help her have a grand wedding.

Such begins the story of Maggie and Ike, and many things unravel further as we see them fight, help each other out and slowly feel attracted to each other (though it's long before they realise that).

Other than just their chemistry in the movie (which I obviously adored), there were many subtle dialogues and scenes in the movie that I could relate to-

The part at the luau, where her friends and relatives (especially relatives and family friends) make jokes about her past "escapades" in their toasts, instead of saying something nice about her. Everyone of them has something to say about her tendency to leave men at weddings, and they decorate it in the form of jokes. Things like, "May the groom's heart be filled with hope...  and the bride's feet filled with lead." or "May the gifts be returnable" or "May the pitter-patter of little feet not be Maggie's."

Have noticed this about a lot of people, how they very creatively, and mostly in an unaware fashion, seem to pass remarks about people and their mistakes or habits that they judge as bad. And I have been the victim of many such remarks growing up. It's sad how people so comfortably dish out such "jokes".

Ike, undoubtedly, comes to her rescue with his toast that is intended to humiliate them for what they have said, but they very cleverly fill up the awkward silence that follows with dance and activity suggestions. Typical! And that's what I loved about the movie. They have shown a lot of scenes as they are, as they take place, in real life.

Then there are wonderful bits like these which I could relate to as well.. for one, the uncontrollable flirtations that Maggie projects at men, how many women have felt that they do this? We won't always admit it but haven't you ever found yourself losing control, not knowing why you're charming someone you don't even find attractive?

And then again, how many times have you not asked this question or thought this in  your head? I know I have!

So it's not just the realistic characters that make this movie likable. The dialogues, direction etc. are fantastic. Also, who doesn't love this grandma!! :D

There's also the part where Ike tries to make Maggie see how lost she is, how she believes that what the man in her life wants is also what she wants. In his interviews, there is a question that Ike asks each one of the men that she has left - what kind of eggs does Maggie like? And it turns out that she always orders what the man orders.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and it was so reassuring watching Maggie explore herself finally, trying to see who she is. I also loved all the tracks played throughout the movie, planning to download all of them though I am familiar with a few of them already. It was a perfect end to the movie for me when the credits were displayed and I heard Marc Anthony's voice after ages, pouring out his soul into "You Sang to Me".. :)

When I checked the ratings on IMDB later, I was really surprised not to see very high ratings but the reviews were also pretty strange considering the reviewers thought the movie was just like Pretty Woman, and most of the reviews were comparisons to Pretty Woman. I have seen Pretty Woman more than twice, and I must say, that other than the same lead characters (Richard Gere and Julia Roberts), and the fact that the movies have a common director (Gary Marshall), there is no commonality in the movies!! Both the movies are entirely different. You can't possibly compare. Also, I enjoyed this more than Pretty Woman. Would recommend watching this atleast once, especially women - I am sure you may find yourself in atleast one of the scenes, I had several "A ha" moments though!! :)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Life on the other side of 25

They rightly say that the mind goes through puberty in the twenties. Life is the most stressful I believe once you cross the age of 25. I have been struggling since then, trying to fit into old structures that worked for me (which obviously won't work now, but I am often unable to see that things are changing, and I don't know how to deal with the changes, so I keep going back to old methods).

 For instance, I love staying in Mumbai, in my home. It is the place where I can be most comfortable and relaxed but as I grow up, I realise that sometimes this routine just does not work for me. I can't drop everything at my convenience and go like, "The shower can wait. I need to write this down and get this out of my system." (Going through this at this very instant). Even if I do that, I can't shake myself off the guilt of not having showered before a certain time, not having woken up at so-and-so time, it just piles on and on. I like having a routine but often, I realise that my body demands that I go to bed early, it demands more sleep, it demands not eating a heavy meal at night. It can sometimes get difficult to meet these demands and form your own routine within a structure of a family. You may have to make certain compromises such as not sitting down for a meal together, and that just feels odd to me. And this is just one of the many compromises.

Society does not make living easy for you either. There are constant questions and advices, pointed at you or your parents, of the manner- "When are you getting married?", "Why isn't she getting married or even asking to meet guys?", "Take her to a psychiatrist.", "Why don't you just take up a fulltime job? It is more stable."

Sometimes I feel like it should be possible to get into the body of someone for a day and just live that person's life. We all wouldn't be so 'judgy' then. I do get the concerns of the generation before us. They come from a different time, have lived different lives, maybe they are even wise and are advising what may be right for us. But sometimes, I really wish they were better empathisers or listeners than just dropping advice or pointing at solutions. Not generalising or blaming, sometimes they too have their own insecurities but even so, take it from any 25+ year old, all we want is for someone to understand how we feel and try to feel the same things as we do, and then just point us to where we should look to live life better just for the next moment, not what we should see. We don't  need to know more than the next moment, and slowly we'll get there. We'll find our paths that way, they may or may not be different than yours. Now, I feel like the Guru-Shishya parampara in India back then was so valuable. Too bad we lost it, we're left now to find our paths by ourselves. And the worst part is that, more often than not, we don't even let ourselves do it. There is societal and peer pressure alright, but there is also some self inflicted pressure. Maybe we have picked that up in modern schooling and competitive environments, but it's something we really should unlearn for our own mental peace.

Work is also something I struggle with a lot. I don't struggle as much with doing the work than I do with exploring opportunities that are presented in front of me. I have realised that I can't always communicate freely with people that offer opportunities because of a certain corporate language or a formal manner of speaking which creates a wall between them and me. I never know how to communicate in such cases. I wish it weren't so difficult because I like working otherwise. I wish we didn't feel the need to put up a different personality / pretend when dealing with professional matters. It can be done with ease and naturalness, or as we say in Yoga, "sahajta".

These days I spend most of my time just managing my anxiety, trying to "be". The world around is constantly moving, demanding my attention 24/7. I juggle between meeting the demands of the society (which are also important for me in some sense i.e. earning money, attending certain events etc.), managing my emotions by way of Yoga / meditation, spending time with friends etc. Most of my energy is spent just in managing emotions, anxiety and fears. And then I spend more time ruminating over not being able to do things for my friends or people I care about, because of this anxiety and general feeling of being unwell. I also wish I had "free" time to explore my hobbies or other activities that I can put my heart into. By free time, I mean energy and mental space.

I think I am finally at least slowly letting go of holding on to old structures, trying to make way for new things and new methods, being okay with doing things differently. Yes I do, from time to time, get reminded that my life is not perfect, especially when I cannot answer questions put to me by my parents or society. On marriage, on stability. It reminds me of how screwed up my life is, but I also know that putting energy there won't help solve the problems. I need to be accepting of all that it is, in the way it is. I also need to stop "moving away" and start "moving towards". Though I know all this in theory now, putting it into practice is a matter of huge habit change. Sigh, one step at a time.

So that's how it's like being on the other side of 25 for me. That, and the fact that I am not so comfortable revealing my age here anymore.. afraid of being judged, afraid that I haven't accomplished as much as I should have. I don't know who decides these "shoulds" but until I unlearn everything, I don't think I will be fully comfortable with who I am.

I'm still on my way ( I hope!)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Checking In

So I never thought I would write in here again.

Whenever I think of writing a new post, I think about how it would link to all my old posts and how I would explain this gap!! But I don't think I should be looking for continuity anymore, should I?

Anywayyy, it doesn't feel like a whole 2 years have passed since I have blogged here.

A lot has happened since then but I somehow never found anything significant enough to document along the way.

Maybe it is because I have been struggling putting myself into moments completely. I get immersed into very few moments lately, and I want to change this.

Umm, so to briefly update, I lived in another city (Bangalore) for 4 months in 2016, didn't like it and moved back to Mumbai. Still experimenting with finding a career / something I love to work on and have also got back into practising basic Yoga on a regular basis.

Friendships have taken a different turn now. The circle has reduced but I like that there is more purity in it now. I used to find my identity in my college group, and had some trouble dealing with the separation of a few, but realised that some things have to change and some people need to be away if they have a tendency to make you feel bad about yourself to feed their own habits or desires.

Lastly, I discovered a new found interest in classical music, due to a band that I started listening to on YouTube called "Maati Baani". You should totally check them out!! They combine elements of Indian classical music with music from across the world, and the result is pure brilliance. I started listening to solo classical tracks by Nirali Kartik, the lead singer of the band on YouTube and fell in love with pure Indian classical music.

Other than that, life feels a bit stuck somehow. I hope I am moving, though it has been this way since over 2 years now.

For 2017, I want to fall in love, find something to do that sustains me long-term, gain the ability to find peace in every moment (learn to relax), be able to make clear decisions for a better / peaceful life and generally be healthy.

Don't know how often I'll write in here. But this was nice.. :)