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.

Rita

I stumbled upon a random Danish show recently, while scrolling through Netflix. One online review had compared the show to Fleabag, and since that was such a delight to watch, I decided to give it a go. Sharing all the things that I loved about the show and why I would recommend it to others.

  1. Danish Culture!
    It was a breath of fresh air, to get to know about a new culture from a show. People are super helpful over there, and well one of the most happy people as well. I was looking for some references of Hygge, the secret Danish recipe of happy life, but I am sure I will be able to draw some parallels from that book once I read it.
    Their language was a delight to the ears. I ended up signing up for Danish lessons on Duolingo. Pronouncing the mighty soft d is a little difficult but someday maybe.
  2. Schooling.
    This show has touched upon so many matters but proper education being one of the most important ones. Everyone talks about having diversity in their schools or companies, everyone talks about creating an inclusive environment but very rarely people actually stand up for it, and do something real which makes a difference. Every kid comes from a different background, with some secrets of their own, with different situations at home, that affect them. It is upto the adults to understand their problems and help them in overcoming them. How teachers are supposed to be a safe haven is presented very well in the show. Even our main protagonist says that she became a teacher to protect children from their parents when needed and that sends out a very strong message.
  3. Friendships
    It is important to support your friends in their problems, be happy in their happiness, sometimes be present for them silently, even when they say they don’t need you, and always show up. These are all expected from any friend, but sometimes a friend needs to shout at you to bring you back to reality, to jerk open your eyes, to help you in facing the reality and being strong. Because that’s what matters in the end and that’s how you will move on. Hjørdis, one of the colleagues of Rita, who had not seemed like such an important and sensible character in the beginning, turned out to be the truest friend there ever could be.
  4. Rita
    Rita. Unapologetically herself. Reckless. Irresponsible. Makes millions mistakes. And yet holds her head up high and forgives herself for everything that she is guilty about over and over again. She fights for what she believes in, and the most important being her students. She is a little insensitive to her own children’s feelings initially but gets so much better at everything as the time progresses. She is sad when she is living alone, but too proud to tell anyone about it. I would just say she is one of the most honest and real characters I have seen. She is just like all of us, imperfect.

The show is not about showing happy endings, not about how everything works out for everyone in the end, and definitely not about girl meets boy and gets married. There are problems now, and will be in future, but it just makes you believe that you will figure it out at the end of the day. And whatever you do, just be true to yourself, because that’s the beginning of everything.

Moving Away

I am considering moving away, bringing in some big change in my life and starting over somewhere. Do I need to? Maybe no. But do I want to? Yes. I want to. I want to get out of the house and do something. And the place where I live is limiting in that regard. I cannot simply go out and do something. I cannot go out and roam around, I cannot go out and travel alone. I am just so dependent on others, my friends and family. But I want freedom. I want to feel in charge of where my life is heading, and sleeping in my parents’ apartment, handed food in my hand in my room by my mom, is not the way to go. It is not bad in my country to live with your parents but I think there is a reason why west came up with the term of moving out. Because the process of moving out and fending for yourself is what gives you ultimate power, what makes you responsible. It is scary, yes. Will I feel lonely? Will I feel afraid? Will I get tired of doing so much work for my livelihood? Yes I guess so. But don’t I feel lonely already even when I am with friends and family, when sometimes I am not able to completely express myself? Don’t I still feel afraid when I feel my life is going nowhere, that I am a loser? Don’t I feel bad that my mom has to do manual work on my behalf because I live under her roof? So it makes sense to start over, right? Hopefully it will transform my life, or atleast me as a person, in a good way. Is this post a way to seek validation and assurance from others on my decision? Yes it is. But despite how much validation we may seek from others, we kind of always know internally what we really want to do. And this time I feel like I really want this.

Am I evil?

You talk about heroes, the ones who defended their countries, fought for the right cause. You praise them, honour them, call them martyrs.

But me? I am just a villain for you. I am the one that they fought. You rejoice if someone like me dies. I am cursed, I am called a killer, a monster.

But I was not always a killer. I was a boy once, just like your heroes. I dreamed about serving my country, serving my people, bringing honour to my parents. I just wanted to do good by the people that I knew. What it my fault that I was never shown the other side of the coin? That I was always taught that we are to kill the weak and reign over them? That I was told I will be called a martyr too if I gave my life for the cause, but never knew that I could question that cause itself?

I had doubts when they told me it was okay to kill the innocent as they are collateral damage. I wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to do. But when I tried to look into the eyes of other soldiers in training with me, I saw that they were just looking ahead at the goal, so I swallowed my inhibitions and decided to move forward as well, because weak hearted people cannot be a part of this cause.

I was scared when I held a gun for the first time, when I uttered a killing spell for the first time. My hands were shaking, my eyes were watery. I still questioned myself and the cause. But when I looked around, they were killing my people too, in revolt. Or atleast that is what I was shown. And hence I wiped my tears and fired that gun, let that spell kill the innocent.

Even though I only followed orders like a machine, having blood of the innocent on my hands gives me nightmares. But I am too deep in this maze and I cannot get out. I am too scared to get out. I am not sure if I know any better. I wish I could turn back time and ask them if what we were doing was right. But I am slowly turning into a heartless person as that is the only way I can survive not letting others survive.

If I die, you’ll not call me a martyr. You’ll say I had a choice. But don’t undermine my circumstances that led me to this. I am truly sorry, and I wish I could have taken a different route. Maybe in another lifetime I’ll truly be a martyr.

From
A soldier fighting from the evil’s side

Does she have it all sorted?

I often lay awake at night and wonder, do people look at me, and think that she has it all sorted?

Because in my head, I am clearly doing it all wrong. I look at various other people, and just pick some aspects of their lives which appeal to me and conclude that they are living the best life there is to live.

Some have an amazing partner, and they never had to go through multiple break ups to find them. It’s almost as if they are reaping the benefits of some good karma in another lifetime.

While others have a successful career, they are living in a better country, earning more money and getting far more opportunities to grow.

Others are just happy in what they have, be it less or more. They have some passion that brings them joy, be it travelling, writing, making reels, anything. But they enjoy it so much that they hardly have time to worry about what others are doing, what they themselves are lacking.

And here I am, wondering why I am doing things so wrong that I am not satisfied at all. There is no lack of opportunity for me to achieve any of the above. It’s the courage and the determination where I lag behind. And sometimes, the culprit is not knowing what I really want and the will to go after it.

I feel that many unsaid standards have been set by the world on the quality of life and we are always comparing ourselves against them. The worst part is, these standards keeps on changing, so even if we achieve one thing, tomorrow there would be a new goal in town and our achievement would get obsolete. And because of just following the herd, we often miss out on finding what we really want while trying to keep up with the world.

Also, I am not blind or immature. I know about the truth of social media and what people slow in their stories is far from reality. I know that the lives of others look more rosy from the outside and in their normal every day lives, they are struggling too.

I hope that even my life looks better from the outside and all my inner turmoils aren’t visible.

And so I wonder, do people look at me, and think that she has it all sorted?