Photographs

Who doesn’t love photographs? Some like clicking it, some like posing for it, some just like to post them, and some waste hours just watching what others have posted. They are all around us, created to hold on to memories a little bit longer, to live in some old moment again and again, to give a visual form to old thoughts, to honor our closed ones by adding their pictures around the house or in an album, to keep the picture of someone special hidden away in the corner of the wallet, to feel something more than mere thoughts could have allowed.

But photographs were just meant to let us hold on to the memories a bit longer. When did photographs become the memories itself?

Cameras and reels used to be costly and hence we only spent them on the choicest of events. Now that phones make every click free, everyone goes clicking away 100 times every hour in a day. They are not memories anymore because we fail to create any memories as we are so often busy in capturing the said memory. I’ve been part of numerous occasions when the outing was only centred around taking pictures, and there is no conversation, no event from that day that I remember, other than the fact that we clicked pictures.

We visit great picturesque locations but instead of marveling at its beauty, everyone is busy in taking the perfect picture of that place. We attend concerts and instead of enjoying the music with closed eyes, our heart entwined with someone we love, swaying at the beats, we are just looking at the concert through the screens, and the entire focus is on keeping the hand still to get the best shot. We meet a friend after years and all we want to do is click a picture and add a story with the hashtag #feelsLikeYesterday, but are we really feeling anything?

Is it just me or have we taken this picture taking business a tad bit too far? I get it why professional photographers spend time on it or someone who has a hobby. But why is every other person so obsessed with taking pictures of every moment, every day, and not even going back to look at them because the gallery is so cluttered.

We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves

These were some great words said by Ed Sheeran, let’s please not change the meaning of them please !

Next time you meet a friend, you go somewhere, please think for a while about that very moment first, stay in that moment & enjoy it, and then maybe later consider documenting it and showing off (or maybe just skip the latter).

Minimalism

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix about minimalism, how leading a minimalistic life, i.e. living only with the things that give us happiness or something that we truly need to function, can help us in living a happy and successful life. It talked about how we often buy things just because we have this false need of validation that owning that particular thing will make us happy, or sometimes it’s just because we compare the things that we own with others, thus always trying to fill a void with useless garbage, but not realising that the void is always going to keep asking for more (it’s a black hole :|). It was very motivating and inspiring, and I ended up cleaning out some old stuffed toys from my parent’s showcase, that I had received as birthday gifts when I was a teenager. But this post is not about how to clean up your house or your closet. It is about cleaning up your mind.

Agreed that living with minimal things is satisfactory. But what about all the extra noise that we keep hoarding up in our minds? Signing up ourselves for infinite activities and bearing the burden of not being able to do them? Along with materialistic things, also craving for all the experiences that others are experiencing and feeling that doing that would make us happy?

I see a new book, I put it in my TBR list. That list keeps on getting bigger and I know I am never going to read them all, and yet I don’t stop. Watching that list only gives me anxiety and I have actually lost the names of the books I actually want to read in that junk. Same goes for trying to watch all the movies and shows, that I have been told are the most amazing piece of content ever created. I am sure they are. But do I want to watch everything, or can I even? The same way where we keep buying useless things to impress others, we keep on reading or watching things we don’t want to just to impress others or to get some sense of achievement, but the list never ends.

If that wasn’t enough, there comes travel. This earth is never going to fall short of the places where one can go to blow off some steam. And someone or the other is always going to go to places that you have not been to, and you will always keep craving for that, for more. More often than not, this craving is just out of FOMO and not because you actually want to see so and so place.

Along with that, there’s a crazy need for trying to excel in so many things, trying this out, trying that out, burning ourselves out. It’s good to be ambitious but it’s also good to know when to stop. And it’s best to realise which things actually make you happy, and not go crazy while juggling between activities because if you keep your foot on many boats, you are just going to fall down.

Minimalism goes a long way. I am not sure how ready I am to throw away many things that I own yet, but maybe I can throw away some items from my To-do list and get some peace!

Hyderabad, I miss you. And I miss myself along with you.

Living alone was one of the dreams that I never knew I had. Living with friends, F.R.I.E.N.D.S taught me, was an even better dream to have. This living alone time came and flew away so quickly, I hardly got time to grasp it all. And here I am, thinking back and wondering if it’s ever going to happen again.

I am about to complete one year since the time I came to visit home for 2 months, and I mentioned this to every person who asked me because I needed a constant reminder that I am not done with Hyderabad yet, that I’m gonna go back. 2 months turned to 3 to 4 and then reality struck that going back is not happening so soon. I left that city for good, while not even getting a chance to go back and say goodbye.

This city, perfectly balanced between happening and laid back, safe enough to never let me feel I cannot go somewhere because I am a girl, and empowering me in the process, will always remain special in my heart. Letting me make new friends, and helping in re-kindling old faded friendships, teaching to stay alone even in a crowd and also somehow making me feel whole when I used to be alone, this city has given me all kinds of days; good, bad, happy and sad.

From a timid college fresher, always second guessing herself and asking for reassurances, to a grown up, helping others fight the same battle; looking from this other end of the spectrum reminds me of the innocent and scared person I used to be. But I cannot separate that person from this city because that’s where that person used to live. I am afraid that going back is never going to be the same (if it happens), because people, relationships, situations, and even I would have changed. I do look forward to more challenges that are gonna come in front of me, and I know I am a more mature person than I used to be to face them. But goodbyes are always difficult. Here’s to the goodbye I never got to say, and one which I would like to say, even if I go back.

To the experiences I had, and the ones I couldn't,
To the person I was, and the one into whom I grew,
Hyderabad I miss you.
And I miss myself along with you !

Gratitude

Amidst these difficult times, everyone is striving and trying to do their best. I do not really want to comment on what should or could have been done differently because I am not best equipped to shed light on that. But I do want everyone to hold on to every string of positivity that we can, to show gratitude to all the people and things.

I am grateful to all the shopkeepers and daily workers around me that were always there to provide with the necessities on our every beck and call. Be it the shopkeeper who was delivering the medicine to our society, or the vegetable vendor that my mom could call to provide certain fruits and vegetables to us. And also to the guard and other helpers working in our society who kept delivering everything till our flat’s gate because we weren’t allowed to step out. They were not doing this just for my family but for all those families that were infected in our society. I am grateful and thankful to all these people for putting up with my and my families’ needs first, even though they were at risk as well.

I am grateful to all the helpful families that live nearby us, who kept asking us if we needed anything, kept sharing their experiences and all the tips and tricks they used to get over the illness themselves. And I am so grateful to all the aunties near me who provided us with proper home cooked meal because we lacked the energy to do so. I cannot even express how much it meant to us and I cannot imagine how they were so selfless and upfront about it. I keep imagining to cook a lot of tasty food for them whenever I can!

I am grateful to all my friends who kept checking up on me, who kept making me feel better and asked about my whereabouts from time to time. And also for keeping the conversation light hearted at times, because that is what we need in these times, something to hold on to and not to be reminded of the bad things all the times. Thank you for always being there.

But I am not just grateful to the people who helped me directly or indirectly. I am grateful to all those people who are in a similar or maybe a worse situation than me and who are doing everything in their power to survive through it all. I cannot imagine the hardships of millions of people out there, who might not have the same facilities that I have. I am grateful for people for fighting and not giving up. I am grateful to all those selfless souls, doctors, other front line fighters, and all the people who are constantly helping others for any contacts round the clock, for doing all those things that I don’t think I could have done. I am also grateful to all those people who are putting aside their personal plans because of the current situation, because that ain’t easy for anyone to do after so much planning. But this in no way undermines anyone who had to go through any plan because everyone faces different circumstances and does what is the best for them.

I know we will all get through it all, because that is inevitable. Yes the world will be a little more difficult to be in with so much pain, so much suffering and loss, but we gotta stick together through it all and do our part as much as we can, whilst also caring about our physical and mental needs, because everyone needs time to recover and everyone cannot be a superhero. So just let’s do whatever we can, guilt free, but let’s do our part because together we can all survive it!

Sex and the city

Having just finished binging the amazing series Sex and the City, my head is muddled with all kinds of emotions. Feeling like Carrie Bradshaw, and writing about emotions and wondering what it all means, and hoping that whatever I say might matter to someone as well. I wish feeling like Carrie involved the cute outfits and experiencing the New York City as well, but for today, I’ll have to keep it limited to the writing.

This series is so much more than just sex and the city. It talks about relationships, experiences, discovering yourself, growing past your fears and embracing someone or something that you thought you never could, LIVING in a city and enjoying everything that it has to offer, outfits, oh so cute outfits, and above everything else, friendships.

There were many moments in this “too ahead of its time” series, where somehow the problems faced by Carrie and her friends in early 2000s felt way too similar to the kind of things the millenial Indians are dealing with themselves. We have been through it all, from wanting to celebrate singlehood, yet fearing that singlehood is going to make us lonely; trying to find the perfect person for ourselves, yet making mistakes and settling for people and regretting; marriages being the hottest topic all around and not being one of the married people making us feel like a failure; being in too many relationships and being judged; and many more that I am yet to deal with.

Like everything, the series has a rosy ending, and the protagonists find true love and apparently lives happily ever after (thank god there were movies to tell us how rosy the life turned out to be) but that makes me wonder that even though we might relate to the problems and issues faced by the characters we see on TV, do we get the same endings that they get, ever? Not just in the matters of love, but all other walks of life as well?

But the part that I loved the most was these women, these four amazing fabulous women, who were so different and yet so similar. We have to agree that we do not always think like our friends do, but sometimes it becomes difficult to deal with these differences, we judge each other, fight with each other, grow apart, we even try to change ourselves to fit in. But it matters more to be more accepting of each other, even if how we look at the world is poles apart, we need to celebrate each other’s choices and be supportive. And that is the icing on the cake for this series.

I think this is what I want to take away from the series as well. Love or no love, getting married to somebody or just to yourself, it’s all alright, and having people in your life who will support you through all these phases, what more can one want?

Finding Peace

One of the greatest question, stretched across humanity. Something that we want to find for ourselves and for the world as well, something that we think will bring utmost happiness to us. There have been numerable books that talk about how you can achieve it, or can come closest to achieving it. I haven’t really read any such books because I am afraid that I am too messed up to find something meaningful out of them, and too lazy to make efforts and bring considerable changes in my lifestyle. But that does not mean that I have given up on this search for finding peace.

The meaning of peace for me changes often, because mostly it is related to giving a rest to what has been bothering me. Resolving things with a friend, having a good cry after long, letting out my feelings in front of someone, replying to that one text that I have been afraid to open since the morning, addressing the small and big issues that I didn’t want to, sometimes these small wins make up my day and result in a good night’s sleep.

If there aren’t these small wins in my daily life, sometimes (rarely but there are days) when my office life saves me. Even if I don’t like my work on many days, that one day when I do some good work, solve some bug, make that code work, learn something which changes my perspective, even if that something is small enough for the rest of the world, that day I feel utterly happy and at peace with myself. And sometimes, the joy of closing 10-20 tabs are enough for some peace of mind.

Sometimes there are days when nothing happens on its own, neither small nor big, that can make me feel good about myself and I need to put in some effort. I need to try something new, be it some dish or some yoga asana. If not something new, I have to fallback to following a routine because all the checked items give a satisfaction at the end of the day. Sometimes doing a small thing differently is great as well, like sitting on the balcony floor for a cup of tea or doing nothing and listening to good music (and not simply as a background noise while working).

Though on most days, I don’t find peace in anything. I struggle. I roam around, unable to enjoy anything. Unable to grasp any word of the book I am reading, watching episode after episode just to get lost, sometimes not liking even my favourite dish and simply swallowing it, having conversations that I forget within the next 5 minutes.

But when there are these rare peaceful days, I feel really thankful and enlightened, that the answer had been here all along. I am reminded of how sometimes some effort is needed to make your own day. For days when nothing great happens, it is important to have those small easy tasks that you can quickly finish off, it is important to do something nice for yourself, it is important to take a break, it is important to unwind in whatever way suits you and understand yourself better.
I know I’ll go back to my normal lost self tomorrow, but it feels good to say it out loud and be aware of the answer, that if I want to find that peace, even though temporarily, I don’t have to do a full fledged soul searching, cleaning my room might also work for me today 🙂

Patriarchy

Living in a country like India, (well I am not gonna blame India completely), so yes living in this world in the 21st Century and also India, patriarchy is all I have seen while growing up and even more so after as an adult, and old enough to recognize it.

I live in a country where women are supposed to know all the household chores as soon as they come out of the womb. Nobody bats an eye if a woman is going crazy, trying to juggle house and work together. But I do get to hear phrases such as, “Look at him, even though he is a boy, he helps out his mom so much”. Because obviously, he is not supposed to help out his mom at all but he is an amazing boy that he did so. But a girl does not have a choice. If she cannot cook, most likely she will remain unmarried.

A boy is asked to learn how to wash utensils because how else will he survive in the progressive world that we are going to become and how will he manage to live with a wife who won’t have such things in her house. Maybe a little better, but even now the reason is not this that he should learn to do it because it is correct, because it is his duty as well. He is just a victim who has to step up his game because girls are progressive nowadays.

Mom takes care of everybody’s needs. She is asked to cook various things because that’s what all the people in the house demand. But maybe it is ok, dad works and mom takes care of the house. But what about in the lockdown? Nobody is working anymore, but now mom is supposed to take care of everybody 24*7 (which used to be less earlier, thanks to schools and offices), and also entertain them because they are getting bored in the house.
Even if mom is not feeling well, she has to manage the work on her own. Nobody steps up, maybe her children but definitely not her husband because he is the man of the house and he is entitled to get all his needs fulfilled, whilst sitting on the chair all day long.

If a girl gets married and wants to stay with her maiden family for a couple of months, she has been blessed with a very good husband because he “let” her do this. Because obviously, now that she is married, he and his family have a right on her and they can refuse that she is not supposed to stay with her family for a long duration.

When series such as “Indian Matchmaking” use phrases like “you have to be flexible”, “compromise a little”, “girls have to adjust”, they definitely hit home because this is all I have heard while growing up. You are a woman and you have to be more understanding if you want to make a marriage work. Obviously two people have to be understanding to make something work but I, being a woman, have an added responsibility on me to stay quiet at times, to just nod my head and agree with the other person in order to save my marriage.

If a girl is short tempered, the phrase used is “she is like a man” because usually it’s men who have a short temper. Or have you wondered that a lot of short tempered women had to learn to keep the anger inside and allowed all the men to show this side, because again, men are entitled to do so?

I am not okay with this, and I know a lot of women and men are not okay with this as well. But nobody speaks up. Because we don’t really know what to do. If a girl voices out such things, she is called a feminist, by people who clearly don’t understand what this term means, and it’s said that she is being too aggressive. She is told to shut up and told that nobody, especially the family of the boy she’ll marry, will put up with such behavior.

This is not a rant about marriage, or in any way trying to undermine that guys do not have problems or are not judged by the society. I am sure that is true and many of those problems are a direct result of the patriarchal system that surrounds us. But enough with this. If remaining unmarried is how it’s gonna be, then be it. But I do not want to be a part of something that I detest so much. And I am not going to set a wrong example for the coming generations, that look at that girl, she adjusted and had a happy life, where maybe I might not have been happy at all.

Poetry

What is poetry?

I cannot say with surety

Apparently it has something to do with a rhyme

And have deep sounding words like atrocious, wander or maybe thyme

Sometimes easy and sometimes difficult to comprehend

Sometimes meaninglessly talking about a new trend

Nevertheless it lets you have a look in the poet’s creative mind

Don’t look too much though, it’s possible that there is nothing much to find

I would actually go back and say that it’s just about putting rhyming things together

Willfully selecting less relevant words, making the meaning difficult to gather

Simple put, in reality it’s not that difficult a job

Just find the correct motivation, happiness, anger or something to help stifle a sob!

Just an average?

As a kid, her parents wanted her to excel in everything (just like all brown parents!). They were so proud of their little daughter and never stopped her from taking part in things but she was just average, average at everything, amazing at nothing! She felt pressurized but she tried to handle it and gave it her best shot.
So she took part in everything. She danced in annual functions with other kids, and sometimes at home on the most random and ridiculous Bollywood songs. She sang in the school choir with her classmates. She drew in her art notebook and in the school art class with all her concentration and effort. She wrote diary entries that soon turned into rants, poems and sometimes letters to friends who had changed schools. She read books, the famous cliched books. She took part in some bare minimum sports. But just an average in all of them. Present everywhere, but not known to be there by any, not a necessary part of anything. Jack of all trades, master of none.

For the longest time, she was an average in studies as well but at one point of time, she left all her other interests at bay and focused all her energy into studies to emerge as much better than she was at other things. This rush of confidence made her put more energy in this direction, leaving everything behind and she was able to make a mark for herself in a little better than average place in the world, with a little better than average college, a little better than average job! Nothing was THE BEST even now, but she had learnt that she was good at this and she’ll work it out.

Learning from her past that the only thing she was best at was studies, she thought that she can do her job really well. She tried but sometimes it was mentally exhausting, sometimes she felt that she was not good enough, sometimes she could not make time to do things properly or study things to do her job, sometimes she just wanted to enjoy the new phase of life and have fun, spend that hard earned money (maybe not so hard; go ahead, make the “that’s what she said joke”!). So with a lot of new confidence came the sense of dread and downfall that maybe she did not know enough, maybe she was just an average after all, no matter what she thought or did.

She tried to pursue the long lost interests of childhood. Write something, draw or paint a little, dance for herself and not just in the pub, read better books! But everywhere she looked, she was still an average at these things, in fact more average than she used to be as a kid and that was really demotivating.

But then came a realization, that what if she is an average? If everyone is going to be best at everything, naturally that “best” would be an average only (statistically speaking). So basically more often that not, someone or the other is going to make her feel like she sucks at what she does. Does that mean she should stop doing it? Should she stop doing her job if she is not the best developer out there? Maybe her company is not running solely on her contribution and maybe if she drops dead two days later, the company will not get affected. Maybe nobody reads what she writes, maybe people make fun of the stupid pictures of what she draws, maybe her dance covers lack that grace or jazz. Obviously people are much much better at it. So should she stop pursuing these interests because she is not good enough? Is that how it’s gonna end for her? Wondering in life, what is she good at and doing nothing at all while waiting?

So here I am, an average person, giving it a shot. Reading more books and writing my feelings and review on them; singing, sometimes, for those who would dare to listen; painting and pasting them on my wardrobe; learning dance covers (and promising a lot of friends that we will make a video someday, hopefully that day would come in this lifetime); learning a new language and trying to decode lyrics; working out more than I have ever done in my lifetime with a hope that someday I will nail that Chakrasana (I am still a beginner to even talk about headstands); cooking and discovering that I am not as bad as I used to think and I can differentiate between masalas; doing my job and giving my 100% but also accepting that I cannot be everywhere all the time and it is ok to not have all the answers because frankly nobody does!

Musings of a bookworm

I am not an avid reader. There are times when I don’t even touch a book, there are times when I start reading a book and then leave it unattended for weeks, and then there are times when I cannot put down a book that I am reading and finish it off in a day or two. I have been asked often why I like to read, which I am sure a lot of book readers are asked as well. Is it the detailed description that movies cannot ever explain (book lovers will always begrudge the movies). Or is it something else?

I just read a heart wrenching book and I just had to talk about it, the book, the experience of reading, not this book but reading in general. Couldn’t have been a better time to talk about why I love to read so much.

I do not know how to appreciate movies, mostly the direction, the dialogues. It is just the story for me, which I may or may not relate to. The dialogues are mere lines spoken matter of factly. If they are complicated, deep, meaningful lines, it is most likely that I will not be quick enough to grasp that hidden meaning behind that line. So I will end up liking a movie if I resonate with the story and the characters (or if it is a thriller, I am sold). But books ! Ah, what can I say? You are at leisure to read, re-read a certain line. There is nothing there, no actress giving you the visual aid of expressions, no scenic beauty to get lost in. It’s just you and your imagination. You have to get into the details of imagining your character, their actions, demeanors, expressions. You are at a free will, yet the burden of how this experience will turn out lies on your shoulders. Going too fast may ruin it, so might going too slow. The perfect pace matters. Patience matters.

There are times when an author may write a book with such honesty that you just believe them. The characters are too good to be true, yet you believe them. You rejoice in their happiness, shed tears for their sufferings, you laugh and weep with them. Your heart longs to be with someone who does not exist. All the emotions that you have buried deep within yourself come right out. You live a life in those moments that is not yours and you get to see so much of this world through someone else’s eyes.

I used to read for the sake of reading at some point of time. Hurrying through the pages, skipping lines. More concerned about reaching the end rather than enjoying the journey and the experience (I blame you Agatha Christie for doing this to me with all the action happening in the last chapter). But then again, better late than never. I loved reading because it was a good past time and the stories were damn good! I think now I read because I love to get lost in a different world for a few days, living a different life. Next time I’ll learn how to appreciate movies and non-fiction better!