Home.

I want to go home, back to my safe space, back to my comfort zone.
But what is home? Where is home?

Is it the place that has all your things, where you spend all your evenings, gazing at the sunset or the television screen, in silence and in noise, where you are the most creative and efficient, but also the loneliest and the most scared, the place which has seen you at your best and the worst, the place which embraces you in deep slumber every night.

Is it the place where your lover lives, where lie all the hugs and the kisses, all the love and affection, a safety net, where you spend many nights cuddled and muddled, where you find wine and often fine dine, where there are often fights, cries and sighs, but tickling, laughter and unbreakable ties.

Is is the place where your parents live, where you spent your entire childhood, with countless memories, worn out walls, old equipments and blankets, where the aroma of your favorite food is omnipresent, where insomnia gets cured, where hair is oiled, where laundry is done, where you roll around in laziness, with cups of tea and some gossip about family, cards and rituals, fighting with no consequence, loving with all that you’ve got.

Is it in your heart, because it is he who is not at peace, who wanders around, even though it is stationary, but still at million different places, with million different emotions, wavering, wondering, beating, existing, sometimes just merely existing, wanting and rejecting, never accepting.

I really do want to go home. I just don’t know where home is yet.

My father and mother.

My father moved away for work many years back. Mere 21 years old, with no experience of the world, nobody in the family to guide him, he worked hard to get a job to sustain his family. Traveling all the way to Srinagar from Gwalior, going the farthest from home he had ever been, to the only place in the country under trouble, he did what he had to do. With just an address on a piece of paper, he travelled to the new part of the country, all alone, carrying all his luggage alone, and looking for the office to start his job. There were hardly any phones at that time, let alone mobile phones, so it was all the more difficult for him to contact his family, ask them about their whereabouts, tell him about his woes. But he did all of that happily, with all the courage and determination he could muster.

My mom had to leave her family behind after her marriage, all the siblings she so selflessly took care of, a loving father who was most attached to her, a mother she dutifully helped out everyday. She moved away, to a new city, with a man she barely knew, to start a new life. It was not easy, but she would do it all with a smile on her face. She would swallow all the pain she would get, but never fail on her duties to her home.

At the age of 55, after living peacefully with his family for so many years, my father had to shift to a different city for work for few years. He tried shifting his entire family with him but it didn’t go as per plan. So he had to spend almost 2 years in a different city, all alone. He would cook, do all his chores, commute to office, work and all this while, never let his family feel that he was lonely or tired, but he definitely was. And how he would achieve all of this, given he never used to do anything at home, still beats me.

My mother had to shelter all her kids, at the age of 55, when kids usually move out, but she very cheerfully did that, because such are mothers. She would cook everyone’s favorite meal, at the age when her children should be asking her to rest and cooking her favorite dishes. She would hear them complain about how things were not good enough, how there was such less space, and with pleasure clear her cupboards to make space for them. She would toll day and night, working around everyone’s schedules, schools, colleges and offices.

I have lived away from my family for many years, first for college, then for job. I used to hardly miss them. I was strong, I was young and just wanted to explore. I used to have fun with my friends, barely having time to talk to my parents everyday. I was just a 2 hour flight away from them, which made me content, but I used to visit hardly 2-3 times a year.

I lived with them for 2 years because of Covid, and wasn’t happy either. I needed space, I needed my independence.

Here I am, moved continents away, seeking my independence and growth. But I am not as courageous and strong as the people who birthed me. I miss them every day, knowing I cannot be near them. Video calls do not fill the ache, they just hurt me more. I burst out crying just looking at their pictures. And thinking about the kind of things they were achieving in my age, and are still achieving, I feel even more stabs of pain in my chest, realizing how awesome they are, and wonder what force of earth made me decide to move away from them.

I try to convince myself that these are the things that will help me grow, make me stronger, prepare me for the life that I have to live, but I just don’t know how to do it, not yet. But maybe some day. Maybe some day I will be strong, as strong as my father and mother.

I want to.

I want to fail, to drown, to accept failure, and still learn to live my life

I want to not win the race, slow down, take a nap in between, and maybe go a different way

I want to stop comparing, stop accessing, stop treating everyone like an arch rival

I want to stop believing that I have to be the best at everything, and rejoice in my mediocrity

I want to be comfortable as I am, and stop thinking for a moment who I should be

I want to stop feeling guilty for making mistakes, stop the regrets for the wrong decisions

I want to stop living in “what ifs” and start loving the “this is it”

I want to stop asking “how much more” and start celebrating “look how far”.

Dreaming

Have you ever thought about achieving something, fantasised yourself in a happy, successful place, just secretly envisioned yourself getting all that you wanted, but then something in your head tells you that this is all way too difficult, you are not that lucky or talented, it is too good to come true, and your dial all your expectations down a notch, think of something achievable, realistic, and limit yourself to that?

I have always been like this. Telling myself that I don’t want to give myself false hopes, so I will always think of a believable scenario, believable enough for my own self, and I will work towards it. That way, I wouldn’t have to face the downfall of not achieving that ultimate goal that was secretly brewing in my heart. And this has always happened, as a kid, teenager, adult. With this fail safe approach, with limited vision, I never really failed, because I never really let myself start something difficult to begin with.

But did this make me happy? Make me sad? No none of it. I never experienced that true longing that drives people to do the impossible, and neither did I experience the ecstasy of meeting your goals after so many efforts and hardwork. But I am beginning to think that I need to change my outlook.

I bought a book recently, called Manifest. I have just read the first chapter of that book, but it was enough to tell me how my approach in life had a problem from the word go. If I am never gonna dream, never let myself fully embrace what I want in life, who I want to become, how am I ever going to achieve it? Let alone the achievement, how am I ever going to be myself truly if I do not speak my truth completely, even to myself? Not doing this is just going to make me wallow in my sadness, make me irritable, while not even knowing why.

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask "What if I fall?"
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”

Source

So here’s hoping that we all let our hearts open and dare to dream, without worrying about falling or flying.

Learning.

Learning never stops, never goes out of fashion, no matter how old you are. We learn from our success and failure, we learn good and bad things, we learn explicitly or implicitly, but we are always learning something.

I often make elaborate plans when I want to gain a new skill. Sometimes there is an entire vision board, stating that I am supposed to reach a certain level in X days, sometimes it is as small as learning all the steps in a dance video. There are always different ranges of goals and problems, but one step has always remained the same, my impatience, and it always goes one of the two ways.

I either get too excited about the long journey ahead, make plans, have sleepless nights imagining my amazing life where I have nailed this skill, have few initial days filled with consistency and hardwork. And then eventually, the excitement passes, and comes a lull in my efforts. I stop putting in that hardwork one day, two day, and it changes into weeks and months, and I forget I even had that certain goal that I wanted to accomplish.

And if not this excitement, I just get overwhelmed by all the pressure and the plethora of work in front of me, and I just give up from the beginning. I accept defeat without even trying. Sometimes I am just too scared to jump into that unknown, scared that I will not be able to learn this new task.

And I always thought this was it, this is how I learn. I plan and plan and then stop out of fear or bored after too much excitement. But I realised that it cannot be all. I have definitely grown as a person, and must have definitely learnt something. So I looked back. And I realised that most of my learning has happened when I was just thrown into a situation headfirst, and I had no option but to swim, and thus, I ended up learning things.

I had given driving many chances but I used to be scared to drive a car. And I eventually stopped trying, I was fine with a two wheeler. But then one day, after a lot of push and motivation, I bought a car. And since I bought it, I had to use it otherwise it was lakhs of money thrown down the drain. So I started taking baby steps, making multiple mistakes, embarrassing myself, but eventually I was there. The only difference is, I never had a chance to plan out my learning journey, so never bucketised it into “too excited” or “too overwhelmed”. I just went ahead and did it. And today I look back at the last two years, and I have no idea when I learnt how to drive, when exactly I fought my fears, I just did at some point. Same thing about how I used to feel about how I was at my job. I was too under-confident, over-analyzing everything I used to do, and suddenly I am in a state where I am comfortable with what I do, what I know.

So, what is the moral of this entire lecture Aishwarya? You have been rambling on for a long time, but get to the point. Well, the point is, it is not easy. It will get boring and overwhelming and scary, and I know we always remember the times when we gave up, and so we believe that we can never get certain things done. But I want us to remember all the times when we did not give up, when we succeeded, and marvel at our capability, and always keep in mind that it is all possible ! 🙂

Romantic Cliches.

I am a big fan of stories. Be it visual, written or told, I am sold. Stories have characters and plots and reality and fiction and everything under the sun. They teach us a lot of things, about the kind of flaws people have, how people deal with them, and somehow help us too. But they also teach us things which we might not know right away, they instil so many cliches into us, so many expectations, and that’s not how it always plays out.

Story ensues
Boy meets girl,
Sparks fly
They dance and twirl
Misunderstandings happen
They fight
Staying apart makes them
See the light
Chasing on the airport
Apologies and hugs
Two years later
They are out buying rugs!


I know this doesn’t sum up every story in the world, but this is the general theme. And if not this, there are so many instances of some very specific couples that work out together. Angry, stuck up or an introvert guy meets the most carefree and bubbly girl and she makes him open up, makes him do crazy shit and he falls for her. A scared, under-confident girl meets the most intimidating guy who literally sweeps her off her feet in the first meeting and their intensity is off the charts. Two egoistic people meet, start fighting right away, and eventually stop and listen to each other and realise they are in love.

But is this it? Are we supposed to fit into one of these patterns and is that the only thing that will ensure that our love story is going to work out? Can two introvert people, who may not always have something crazy to say or do, not work out? If a “meet cute” does not take place, can people not develop feelings for each other? I know opposite attracts and many specific personas shown as couple usually have the traits that complete each other. But is that necessary? How about two people connecting over their flaws and figuring out how to grow in them together, motivating each other, because nobody else understands them the way the person with the same problem would do. Why is this angle not so famous in stories?

I write all of this because I know somewhere deep down I fear that I also feel that the “right person” will feel that way right from the beginning because we will fit into these cliches. But what if that’s not the case? What if the “right person” isn’t supposed to give you a banging chemistry right from the start, not supposed to keep you on your toes all the time but you just get peacefully comfortable around them over time? What if while trying to look for cliches in a relationship, we forget to look at what is actually real and special about it? What if these sparks that fly just signify that you have made up your mind about someone and not some ulterior cosmic connection?

I just hope we don’t end up rejecting the right one for these cliches and create our own signs instead of following the masses!

Disclaimer: I know there are many many good stories that don’t necessarily follow the pattern but this thought has been there in my head from some days and the current book I am reading literally fell into one of the categories and so I just had to write about it.

The joy of living alone.

Straight out of college, I moved to a new city to work. I had a lot of college friends living with me and some in different apartments in the same building. I also quickly made new friends in office. So my days used to be filled with a lot of partying around. And when not partying, I used to waste my time binging stuff on the newly bought Netflix subscription. Living in India, we are privileged to afford maids and cooks, hence I did not have to do anything for myself. Buying groceries is a click away. The only time I used to enter a supermarket was to buy junk food to aid with the binge watching. I was good with rents and bills, okayish with my laundry, but could not take care of anything else in my home.

I was just starting to grow up, to improve myself, when covid hit. I learnt to cook a few things, learnt how to buy groceries myself, bit by bit during that time. But then I moved back home to my parent’s place, to avoid giving a huge amount of rent in a different city when we were not even going to the office. Initially I used to help out my mom in few things, somehow also managing work in parallel, but I gradually started taking a back seat. No more cooking, no more groceries, even doing my own laundry stopped.

It sounds amazing to be living a life without any responsibilities, but it actually gets pretty frustrating. “Get up and start doing things then” you would say, but it ain’t that simple. I do not take all decisions under my parents’ roof and I cannot just do what I want to do. I will have to learn to operate in their setting, learn to distinguish my chores completely. If I am cooking, it will be for the entire household. So it was easier to just not do anything.

But I recently took a trip with a friend, a workation actually. We rented a flat for 10 days (Thank you AirBnb), and we did not keep any maid or cook (OMG). Apart from all the personal reasons of that trip, it was actually rejuvenating to do so much work (yes it sounds funny that working more made me relax more). Suddenly, I was responsible for so many things. I could go out to buy grocery right outside my building and I used to do that sometimes just to take a break from my office work. We used to cook together, dividing responsibilities, but in two people, you are fairly responsible for a lot. And I used to really love managing cooking 2 meals a day along with my office work. Taking out time in between meetings, not for scrolling Instagram, but for something meaningful, and I respected myself more. My sleep cycle started improving. Even though working out wasn’t easy, moving around so much during the day used to keep my body functional.

My point is, we, human beings, are conditioned to work, to move around, to not sit still. Doing something, for yourself or others, gives a different kind of peace and satisfaction. And somehow, when burdened with these responsibilities, we become more efficient in everything that we do. We learn how to do our work faster because we know we cannot waste time. We start enjoying the stillness more because they are so rarely found. I cannot wait to do this again, or just move out of the house, and just find myself again. I know I don’t need mountains or beaches to do that, but just taking care of myself is enough.

Picture Imperfect.

Not everyone can click beautiful pictures. They look good if the subject is picturesque, has a meaning. The lighting has to be flawless. And the frame has to be on point. It is an art to determine the exact things to include and exclude.

But the reality is not as surreal. There are imperfections that we just choose to cut out of the photo because they don’t add value, they are not good to look at, people will not appreciate them.

We create an illusion, half a truth, just to make us feel secure, make us feel that we live in an ideal world.

And so is the life that we paint for ourselves. We pretend things are all up to the mark, ignore the things that bother us, that do not fit into our quintessential lives. We slightly align our lens as per our will and just look at the pleasant things, show others the same, lock everything else away and dream on.

But not today. Today I want to make a collage of all the imperfections and flaws in my life, and hang it over my bed. I want to look at it and face it everyday, admire it, and tell myself that life is just as amazing with these not so happy memories and qualities. Today I accept my messy life, today I make the perfect picture imperfect.

Traditions

I read about traditions in many families, see them on the television. People have traditions for holidays, for birthdays, where family gets together and does the same thing every year. Some cook a certain meal, some watch a certain film, some play a certain game or just sing a certain song.

During every festive season, I watch my family, having small arguments, always being a mess and not figuring it out, someone crying, people fighting with each other and wonder if we are broken and try to figure out why don’t we have any traditions. Am I missing out on a lot of happiness?

My dad teases my sister when she is making rangoli and she always gets mad. Me and my dad go on a shopping run at the last minute and have some snacks while buying sweets, and get so full that we are never able to have the lunch that mom cooked at home. During the pooja, my brother, I and my mom always start laughing uncontrollably and get scolded by dad. Somebody is always dying for the pooja to get over soon so they can go downstairs to their friends.

It all appeared broken to me at first, but now I’ve started to wonder, there’s a pattern in this chaos, there’s some playfulness in the things that seem a bit unhappy. And maybe that’s our tradition.

Winters.

The cool winter breeze has started knocking on my door. Sudden chills run down my spine every now and then. I get goosebumps without getting scared. The season I hate the most and yet enjoy the most is almost here.

As if I was not lazy enough, winters make me 10 times more lazy. Stuffed inside hundreds of clothes, my range of motion is limited and my will power is almost non existent. I want to stay buried inside my blanket, or a fortress of blankets and pillows, all day long. Hibernation should not be limited to just animals.

Even though I don’t exactly celebrate Christmas as I follow a different religion, Christmas feels are all around. My playlist slowly shifts focus from random songs to requesting Santa for a light blue convertible, or convincing my sister to build a snowman.

Warm, chocolaty drinks, come into my dreams and eventually in my hands. I am transported to all those winters that I really enjoyed with my friends and families. Lying in my bed, I begin to wonder how did I used to go to school or college in such a weather, how did I used to study. Work seems impossible to get to.

I have my favourite sweaters, that I cannot part ways with even though they surprise me with shredded threads. They smell different, of a different place & time, of a different me. Only they are able to satiate the chills that I feel, and without them I am lost.

I dread how I will survive the coming months, yet I always find myself longing for more winter clothes. I have to ask my sister and friends to not let me buy another sweater and yet my heart just keeps leaping out of my body every time I lay eyes on one. I look a lot fatter than I am because of so many layers and yet I feel the smartest in winter clothes. What kind of game is that?

I am gonna complain every minute of every day for the entire season and yet miss this cozy season a little when it’s all over.