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!

Rome

Rome was not built in a day, and that is the reason why it is impossible to see the entire Rome, to grasp the culture, to take in the complete beauty that this place has to offer, ever (and definitely not in a day !).

Since I have always gone to more conventional places like beaches and mountains for a vacation, vacationing in a city was a very different experience. I was skeptical too, whether the entire stay would be worth it, whether I would be able to cover all the important places in those few days or would I be left with 1-2 days on my hands with nothing much to do. Will I get bored of looking at the museums or get tired by walking too much? Many people suggested that Rome is not worth more than 2 days (3 days at max) but after being here, I think otherwise. I could have spent weeks over here.

I stayed in Rome for 4 days, in a hostel named “Legends”, situated at a 5 min walking distance from the Termini and metro stations, making the commute as easy as it could be, though for most of the time, I walked because everything was so close by and navigating using actual maps in the narrow streets was more fun.

Must visit places

Colosseum

It is not just an Amphitheatre, it is the biggest Amphitheatre in the world. Being a part of the many wars and politics of Rome has left it in ruins, yet it stands tall amidst its broken walls and has a lot of history to offer. Hosting gladiator fights for the whole city to watch, the seating mechanism designed so amazingly so as to accommodate thousands of people gracefully, and what not.
The queue around the Colosseum is huge so the tickets should either be bought online or a guide tour should be taken. The guide tour costs around 45 bucks, which includes Colosseum, Palatino and the Roman Forum. I found the guided tour worthy of the money as things became more interesting with a guide explaining the bits and pieces about this architecture marvel.

Roman Forum

One should go to see the Roman Forum if they visit Colosseum. The great rulers of Rome held their fort from here. Though it is in ruins too, but it is still a beautiful sight. It is surrounded by many Archs, which are usually built to symbolize victory.

Again, the guided tour made the experience a lot better. While going out, we caught a glimpse of a Christian wedding in the church situated just near the exit.

The Vatican City

There are three major stops in the Vatican City.
1. The Vatican Museum: Filled with paintings and sculptures, every turn is a different sight. Some part of the ceilings are painted in such a way that they look like carvings made out of plaster (3D effect). Many rooms are protected with curtains so that not even a single ray of sunlight can enter, because the paintings are sensitive to sunlight. There is a particular painting in which the eyes and feet of Jesus Christ follow you wherever you go.
2. The Sistine Chapel: The famous painting of Michalangelo, The Creation Of Adam, and many others of his artwork adorn the ceiling. You are not supposed to talk or click pictures here as it is the most sacred place of the Vatican City.
3. St. Peter’s Basilica: I cannot recall the number of chapels situated inside this Basilica but there was one wherever I looked. They have the remains of St. Peter and some other saints in the cellar.
Getting a guide here is worth here as well as it saves the time spent in queues and is more informative.

Pantheon

Situated in the middle of a very busy street, it sees a lot of rush because of that and also maybe because the entry is free. A Roma temple turned church, it is a religious place, thus hands and legs have to be covered while entering and while you are inside. We did not take the guided tour here but there are audio devices placed around the periphery. We read about a few facts online. Since it is a church, there was a chapel inside, and it was quite peaceful to be there.

There was a restaurant just across the Pantheon, where I had the best dish, called Gnocchi, of my entire trip.

Trevi Fountain

Legend says throwing a coin in this fountain brings you back to Rome, something I got to know after coming back from there. The place is mostly crowded and it was very difficult to sit near the fountain for some time so I preferred to watch it from a distance with a Gelato in hand, but the view was breathtaking, from everywhere.. Though I did not throw the coin, but I do intend to go back someday for sure.

Spanish Step

These famous steps are situated overlooking a busy street of the city. I went here twice, to take some rest after walking for long but they give such a romantic feeling. If you are lucky, you might find someone singing or playing music there. I have heard it’s an even prettier sight in spring.
Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of this place as I took the pictures while sitting on the steps but it was just peaceful to sit there and watch the streets downstairs.

View from the Spanish Steps

The innumerable Piazzas and streets

There are so many beautiful streets in this city, hustling and bustling with tourists, people singing and playing music, branded stores, ice cream parlors, restaurants. Piazzas are the city squares and there is one at every 10 minute walk. If you have nothing to do, nowhere to go to, and are out of plans, an entire day could be spent just roaming on the streets, eating Gelato, going into quaint little cafes and stores.

Try out these things

Wine. Wine. And More Wine

You cannot go to Italy and not have wine. I wish I drank more wine but being very tipsy would have deprived me of my amazing experience but having a glass of wine with food was almost a constant for me.

Gelato

If wine was not enough, there is a Gelato shop every 2 minutes with so many flavors.

Gnocchi

Gnocchi is nothing but a type of pasta, like Penne, Fusilli, but the one I had (right outside Pantheon) had the most amazing pasta sauce in the world (along with the cutest waiter serving it).

Pizza and Pasta, it goes without saying


Some learnings from my experience

BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS

The guide in Roman Forum had warned us, I was cautious all the time about mugging and was always avoiding dimly lit roads in the night. While trying to shop, I kept my bag down for 2 minutes, most likely the phone was on the seat as well, and went to stand in a mirror to look at the shoes I tried. That was all it took for someone to steal my phone. Fun fact, it happened in a Bata store, which is apparently not an Indian brand but still, it hurts.
Lesson learnt: Do not keep your stuff out of your sight for even a second, and if possible, just carry the important stuff like cash, passport and your phone in a small travel pouch and not huge backpacks/purses.

Avoid flights with huge layovers

The airline which took us from India to Italy (Milan) was Saudi Airlines. The plane was good and comfortable but the layover in Jeddah was for 10 hours while going and 16 hours while coming back. There was not much to do on the airport as well, except trying weird colored lipsticks.
Lesson learnt: Though it is necessary to save money by going for cheap airlines, a little splurging to make your travel comfortable is fine too.

Eurail Rocks

We had not booked any train tickets beforehand and in Milan, we faced a grave problem, booking train tickets on a short notice was around 120 Euro each. To make matters worse, the Forex card was not working at the time and there was not enough cash to cover the train expenses for the entire trip. We ended up buying a 4 Trip Eurail pass with the help of the customer service executive, which costs 160 Euros and then you just have to pay 10 Euros for every train ride (200 Euros in short).
Lesson learnt: Don’t panic if things get goofed up sometimes, take peoples’ help, have good amount of cash, but most importantly, no need to book everything ahead, just get the Eurail Pass 😀


I am definitely going to go back to this city once more in my life, and would probably stay for a longer time. I could not capture my entire personal experience in this post as it is huge, but if you want to read it, you can check it out here.

A more detailed and personal account on Rome

I have been thinking about writing this since I have been there, infact while I was there. Thanks to gazillion amount of work, I haven’t been able to get to it. But I don’t trust my memory cells anymore and have a feeling that I’ll start to forget everything if I don’t write this soon.

Even though I don’t want to keep out any details, I think it is impossible for me to write everything, and nobody is gonna wanna read an unnecessarily boring post so I’ll try to control my emotions and write the relevant things. But what the heck, this is my blog, so I will also write what I want to write! (There is also a shorter and concise version here )

10th October: We boarded our flight from Hyderabad to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) from the Saudia airlines. Unlike what we were told, the airlines did provide food and the seats were decent. There was a layover in Jeddah for about 10 hours, but the excitement of the trip kept us from sleeping. There was not much to do on the airport except trying weird colored lipsticks (read yellow and what not) on the airport. The flight from Jeddah to Milan was relatively VERY empty and we got the entire three seats to ourselves, each, and could finally get some sleep lying down.

11th October: From Jeddah to Milan, Milan to Rome
Landing in Milan felt so unreal. The airport wasn’t that busy, it was 6 am in the morning, we were sleepy AF. My expectation was that somehow everything would seem very different, would seem out of the world. It seemed like a normal airport, just cleaner, and with signboards in Italian as well. I had expected something to go wrong while reaching here, my worst fear was that our bags will be lost in transit (I am always afraid of that), but well that did not happen. Carrying our three trolleys and two backpacks, we were on our way to figure out how to reach Rome at 7.00 am in the morning. Before I forget, the immigration was a piece of cake, like literally. The immigration at Maldives airport had asked me more questions than what the Milan officer asked. We took a bus from the airport to Milan Centrale, the main railway station. We had checked online and apparently there were not a lot of trains to Rome but after reaching the station, we realised how untrue it was. There were trains in every 20 minutes to and from all the big cities of Italy. The only problem was they were really costly (like 120 Euro each), if not booked beforehand. Somehow our Forex card was not working, so panicking, we went to the customer service agent there and that agent suggested that we buy the Euro Rail pass for 4 trips. It was for 160 bucks, and then we had to pay 10 bucks for every trip so thankfully we were not going to get bankrupted. We finally boarded the train. The plan was to watch a movie but obviously we slept during the entire train ride.

Getting out of the Rome station, Milan seemed less fancy all of a sudden. The high buildings, the busy station, the sidewalks, the way the cars stopped for pedestrians! I was just smitten by anything and everything. Our hostel was at a 5 minute walking distance from the train station. We checked into the hostel and tried to get some sleep. It was around 1-2in the noon by then. I couldn’t sleep much. After trying to sleep for a few hours, we got ready and decided to head out. Though we were not sure how safe/unsafe the streets are at night! We asked the girl at the hostel reception about what would be a nice place to go at that time. She suggested a few places, which were two stations away from the metro. Boarding the metro was a challenge in itself. Sometimes I feel that when you are trying to do everything right, you make the most silly mistakes and end up doing everything wrong. Anyway, we took the metro from TERMINI to SPAGNA. The plan was to go to the Trevi Fountain. When we got out of the station, we were met by a completely different sight. This was the main street of Rome (or so it felt). There were so many people around, the street was crowded but yet beautiful. We used the maps in our phone and made our way to the Trevi Fountain. I ate a bombass huge gelato over there. After spending some 15 minutes trying to look at the fountain amidst all the rush, we headed for Piazza Del Popolo. It is so easy to just walk. The street that we had to take to reach the Piazza was no less than a fashion street. The shops, the clothes, I don’t know how it was possible for us to not spend all the money that we had and buy those amazing coats. Chatting and admiring, we finally reached the Piazza. It was pretty deserted but different.

We decided to go near the metro station and have dinner. We ordered a pizza and a bottle of wine (because there was no way on this earth that my first proper meal in Italy was going to be without wine). A little lost, a little tipsy, we made our way back to the metro station. I get really paranoid in such situations but after some wrong turns, some misread signs, we were there. There are these famous Spanish Steps there, which are just huge, well, steps. We sat there for some time and then came back home.

12th October: Colosseum, and places nearby
We had pizza and some beer from a place nearby and headed for the great Colosseum. Like I said, everything is so near, it was 2-3 metro stations away. We went from TERMINI to COLOSSEO this time. We were a little apprehensive about taking the tour guide but they are convincing enough and the line was too long so we took the tour guide. For 45 bucks each, they took us to Colosseum and Palatino, along with explaining the history. The way our tour guide explained the history of the Colosseum, I had no idea that I had any interest in history before that. But it made sense to have someone tell you about the history of a place otherwise you are just standing in a huge amphitheatre, you click a few pictures and then what? You wouldn’t have seen the place if you did not hear even a tiny bit about what and why and how of it.

There was a different guide for the Palatino. He had a different way of story telling but that was fun too. After that we spent some time in Palatino, looking at different ruins in the entire place. But it was almost 4 in the evening so we thought of going back to the hostel as we were very tired. While getting out of here, we caught a glimpse of a wedding (we have always been fascinated by Christian weddings). As we got out of our metro station, we though of exploring some new road around the station. And voila ! We discovered another grand street, at a walking distance from our hostel. All the pain from our legs was gone and we ended up walking on that street, window shopping for another 2 hours. We finally headed to our hostel, with a plan to get out after some time with warmer jackets. But once we went back, we didn’t want to move. We had some ready to eat food and a half empty bottle of wine so we decided to have that. It felt different to not eat pasta/pizza or a sandwich with only tomato for a filling for a change (we are vegetarians! )
Somehow the girls in our dorm were not very talkative or out going. And somehow they were always sleeping, when we were going out, when we were coming back. So we used to prefer sitting outside in the lobby. We started drinking the wine while sitting on the sofa, talking random shit, as usual. Abusing in hindi was not a problem at all as nobody around us could understand us. Somehow, when we were a little tipsy, we heard somebody abusing really loudly in Hindi and then two girls walked in to the apartment. Turns out, two Indian girls had been allotted our dorm sometime during that day, who were really drunk and really loud and finally we didn’t feel guilty for talking so loudly all the time.

13th October: The day I lost my phone
I got up really early in the morning because one of the loud Indian girl was video calling someone and calling her gorgeous and congratulating her. I think someone got engaged but I didn’t want to ask because I was internally abusing her for waking me up with the loud shouting. Tossing and turning, it was finally time to wake up. We did not have a particularly fixed plan that day but we had to go to Pantheon for sure and maybe some castle across the river. Today, we took a bus who dropped us somewhere at a walking distance to Pantheon. Everyday we were discovering something new about the infrastructure and public transport of Rome. Entry to Pantheon was free but they were a little strict about the clothes. Today, we did not get a guide and tried to listen to the audio boxes placed here and there but hard luck, everyone wanted to do the same and obviously there was a queue. So we googled a little and read. We roamed here and there after that, tried to click pictures, went inside a few shops. One particular shop was selling very cute stationary but somehow the mind convinces me to not spend so much money on things I’ll never use :/. Wandering, we reached the river. I had heard about it, the Vatican City was just across it. It felt like we could cover the entire city on foot if we were up for it. No wonder the Europeans are so fit, despite the cheesy food habits. The loud Indians girls had told us about a dish called Gnocchi, so we decided to have that for lunch. I am not gonna lie, it was one of the best meals I had during the entire trip. The waiter was cute, the Gnocchi was SO TASTY, the view was good, the feet were finally put to rest. We were sitting just across the Pantheon. After that, we decided to click some pictures. And then just went in the opposite direction, sort of towards the hostel and the road we had discovered last night. The plan was to end the day with shopping. On the way there, we came across a few more museums and a huge building, which we had seen the previous day from Colosseum. Curious, we went inside. Apparently there was a lift in the building which was so high that you could see the entire Rome. But we satisfied ourselves by just looking from the terrace of the building as the price and queue, both were too much for our taste. After a lot of wandering around, discovering new paths and getting excited to find that we were very close to the Colosseum, we headed for the street.

Before that, we spent some time at an ice cream parlor for a gelato. Then using my phone for navigation, we headed to the street. We went inside one shop and I tried a jacket. After that we went to a Bata store, yes we did. Apparently Bata is not Indian and so it didn’t feel as bad to go to Bata in Italy :P. We went to a few more shops after that and while we were trying some jacket, I realised I didn’t have my phone. I reached into my bag but knew it wasn’t there. We rushed out and traced back but the phone was nowhere. It was switched off as well. Bata was the only store where we had kept our stuff down for some time and gone away and I knew that that’s where it happened but we couldn’t really do much. I was crying my lungs out (why am I like this?). Aanchal was SO SUPPORTIVE the entire time. We called a few people and asked someone else to get the number blocked while we get an FIR in the police station. Well, the police kept sending us from one station to another, making us cover all the streets that we had not by now. We finally decided to go back as it was dark already and we were not familiar with the streets. We could not afford any more loses, to things or to us! So we came back, while I cried on the phone while talking to my parents, who were very supportive btw! All the pictures of that day were gone but well.

14th October: Vatican City
The first thing we did was to go the the TERMINI and get a new phone and SIM Card because I was going crazy without a phone. I bought the cheapest and most relevant phone I could. Thankfully, the new SIM they gave had better internet connection. Finally re-united with my dear old friend Instagram, I was ready to see the Vatican City. Entering a new part of the city, and soon to enter a new country, last night’s tragedy forgotten (partially), we were happy again. After getting down from the metro station, we booked a tour with one of the guides we met. Our tour was scheduled after 1 hour or so, so we got down to eat. With the recent experiment with Gnocchi, we decided to be daring and try something new again. So we ordered Carbonara. It was not bad, it was different, but not that good. It was finally time for the Vatican City. I had heard so much about it and had so many different images in my head, I was finally going to see it. After crossing many lines, and technically the border of a different county, we were in the Vatican City, the smallest country on earth. The first proper stop was the Vatican Museum. There were so many things there, from sculptures to paintings on the ceilings that looked like plaster work because of the 3D effect, eyes and feet on paintings that followed you wherever you went, paintings that could not be exposed to sunlight lest they degrade. The Sistine Chapel, where you had to keep quiet and just look at the painted ceiling. The St. Peter’s Basilica which was so huge and had the remains of some important people (including St. Peter, which we couldn’t even spot in the first go) in the cellar. We went to see a Castle St Angelo after that, but just outside the castle, a guy was playing keyboard and this was on the bank of the river, so we decided to skip the castle and just sat at the edge of the bridge, listening to the music, watching the people go by, the scenery around us and enjoying the last evening in the best city we ever went to! That night we just cooked a ready to eat Shahi Paneer we took with us with some ready to eat Rice. At night, we went to the Spanish Steps and the main street for some time.

The rest, to be continued!

Don’t ask me

Don’t ask me what I want to do with my life
If I knew, I wouldn’t be aimlessly tumbling along

Don’t ask me what I am passionate about
If I knew, I wouldn’t spend hours scrolling Instagram

Don’t ask me what I want to be when I grow up
All I wanted to be was happy but growing up taught me better

Don’t ask me when I am getting married
Getting married for the sake of it scares me more than the ticking biological clock

Don’t ask me how’s my job going
I don’t wanna talk about work, and if I do, you will get tired of hearing me rant

Don’t ask me why I overthink so much
You should know that what you think is not in your control, but what you say is

Don’t ask me why I never say yes to plans
Sometimes you gotta choose yourself over everything else

Don’t ask me why I am never contented, never happy
Should a person ever be contented if they wanna make things better?

Don’t ask me why I never make efforts for that contentment though
Trust me I am trying, making an effort takes more effort sometimes

Don’t ask me the questions that I don’t have an answer to
If you will not take ‘I don’t know’ for an answer

Don’t assume though that I don’t wanna talk by saying the above things
I am hoping that I would have a better answer to these questions some day !

Living or existing?

It’s raining today. I stand in my balcony looking at the rain, listening to a song I am obsessed with right now and all I can think about is how am I going to make it to office tomorrow if it’s gonna rain this much. The only reassurance I get from the rain is it might get the groundwater levels in place and we will get water for some for days this year. I close the door and come back to my room.

I wasn’t this boring always. As a teenager I used to love the rain, well for the most part. Me and my friends used to go and play in the rain everytime we had a chance. I used to get a little upset if my school bag ever got wet from it, but in the confines of my home, I was never scared of it. If not this, I used to listen to my favourite songs while standing in the balcony, romanticizing, enjoying the cool breeze and the few water droplets sprinkled on me by the wind.

I come back to my room, open the window and stand there for a while. I have put blue fairy lights in my room which I never turn on. Seeing the amazing weather outside, I think of just sitting in those dim blue lights, and listen to some good music. But then I think what will I gain out of it, close the window and sit on my bed with my phone,

And then it dawned on me how boring I have become. Boring and sad. And how I have stopped enjoying the small things about life, how I have stopped living. I am merely existing, going to office, getting things done, eating the easiest thing possible to get hands on, going out if someone makes a plan, coming back home, watching something I have already watched because I don’t wanna think too much, sleeping.

Last week I went to get some groceries from a big shopping mart and I had planned to get things for some midnight snacking. I used to do this all the time. But that day, I didn’t get a single thing, not because I am afraid of putting on weight (maybe subconsciously?) but mostly because I didn’t find anything appealing enough, not even those things that earlier I used to find impossible to put down.

People whom I hangout with might say that I am always laughing around (or cribbing, basically reacting and feeling). But I don’t think I am ever happy or sad. I am just there. I don’t remember the last time I was genuinely happy. And that makes me really sad. The worst part, I don’t think I am even feeling this sadness.

Thoughts I have during summer

It’s May. My school exams have ended and the summer vacations have begun. My class teacher handed out a big list of holiday homework that has to be completed in the next 1.5 months. But I cannot wait to get home. Once home, I change and switch on the TV. Today mom won’t ask me to turn it off. As soon as it is 4 p.m, I run to my friend’s place and we play our hearts out. In the evening, we go to the ice cream vendor nearby and get orange candy. At night, me and my sister fight for the best place in front of the cooler. I watch cartoons all day, everyday. Mom expects me to start working on my holiday homework from the very first day, but I don’t.

It’s May end. We are at the train station, waiting to go to my maternal grandmother’s place. It’s an overnight journey so I tug my dad’s hand and ask him to buy me a book. He takes me to the book vendor, I stare at the plethora of books and the titles that don’t make any sense, and settle on Panchatantra. As soon as we board the train, I immediately rush to the upper berth, as if it’s my home for the next one day. I try to read but cannot stop looking around at the different families boarding the train. While at Grandma’s place, I play cards with my cousins all the time. We sometimes go to the nearby market to get chocolates or Faluda. Sometimes the “kulfi-wala” passes by and all the kids rush outside, and then have soar throats for weeks.

It’s June. We are back home. Dad brought mangoes yesterday so that is what I eat all the time. My sister is small and hardly interested in eating anything so all the mangoes are mine. Mom let’s me eat mango after every meal. Instead of drinking milk every evening, now I get to drink mango shake, with strawberry ice cream and a little Rooh Afza on top. On Sundays, when dad is home, we fight for the last piece of the mango. Guess I know where my love for mangoes came from. Mom forces me to eat watermelon and muskmelon as well. She even puts some sugar on muskmelon to make it sweeter but I don’t oblige.

It’s June end. School is about to reopen and I haven’t even opened the holiday homework sheet. We were told to write both Hindi and English essays everyday, which will now be done over a weekend. Mom helps me in some of the homework because I cannot complete it all alone. We even have lychees at home now and now they are what I eat everyday. It’s raining today and so me and my friends go out to play in the rain. It has rained after months. I have even become a little tanned due to playing in the scorching sun these past months but I don’t mind. This was the best summer of my life.

It’s 2019. I am 24. I am in a different city, away from my family. It’s 3 am, I am sleep deprived, and am trying to finish off some office work. May has started and am thinking of home, thinking of summers, thinking of the best time of my life.

Sleepy yet sleepless

There are some nights when sleep simply evades me. I lie on my bed, tossing and turning, eyes tightly shut, my body perfectly positioned in the blanket, with one leg safely inside, and the other peaking out and softly curled on a pillow; one hand below the head, the other one over the pillow. But sleep won’t come. Just a couple of hours ago, I was so drowsy and tired that I could not wait to go to bed. I waited for the perfect moment, when my body cycle is used to falling asleep and I knew I wouldn’t have to focus a lot on it. I stopped using my phone 10 minutes before, knowing that it’s easier if the phone is kept aside atleast few minutes before going to bed. I took all the measures. But here I am, it’s been more than an hour and I cannot sleep.

I wasn’t thinking anything special today, I swear! Just the usual stuff. Trying to make plans of what I will do tomorrow, with the thoughts slowly drifting to whether I even wanted to go back to office and do that work. This slowly transformed into me coming up with plans of how I could do something else. But what else can I do? I need to have money for the lavish lifestyle I want. Point. Let’s make a list of the things I find interesting. Psychology sounds fun, but it might need a degree. People are posting a lot of dance videos on instagram these days and getting famous. But I can’t dance that well. Should I join dance classes? But all of them are atleast an hour away. I cannot manage to go to dance classes will all the office work I have pending. Now that is a vicious circle 😦

I decide there is no end to this. Let’s think about something else. Where do I want to travel next? Beaches are out of question, I am still trying really hard to get rid of the tan lines from the previous trip. Well it’s been long since I travelled north. I can visit mom and dad also while I’m there. But it will take a lot of planning, I am burdened with work. If I am planning to take a lot of leaves, why not go to Europe? That has always been a part of the plan. Ok Google, which country in Europe is best to be visited during summers? But whom all will I ask? Let’s ask the girls on the group, hear their opinion and then decide.

Hey! I haven’t talked to that friend in a long time. It would be weird to message though, we weren’t that good friends. I wonder why I haven’t seen her posts on Instagram. Let me just check. Oh there she is. Probably her posts didn’t get prioritized on my feed, given the plethora of meme pages I follow. Oh, this is a good meme. Let me send it to the set of people I share memes with the entire day, and that being the only conversation we have.

Ok! Now you really need to sleep. Just keep the damn phone down. Then randomly, out of nowhere, my mind tells me to think about my crush, like the last rite of the daily ritual. Was he really looking at me today or am I totally reading it all wrong, again? Was I being too obvious today though? I should have said something funnier when we sort of managed to talk today instead of being too philosophical. But I should be myself right? I shouldn’t say things just to impress. But did I dress properly today? Oh man I did dress really bad, why would he like me!! Light is faster than sound. Why was I worried about the jokes when I should have focused on the looks. He’ll be shallow if he does that but what do I care? I am anyway not getting ahead with this.

I promise now I’ll close my eyes, keep the phone down and not think about anything. I think I am falling asleep. Hurray!

**NOTIFICATION SOUND**
Oh no!

Just a little more :)

Just try a little, try a little more and you will succeed. I have heard this so many times in life and have always felt that it is very easy to say these things and very difficult to actually implement.
Just push yourself a little. But isn’t that what I am doing (apparently), yet failing? Or maybe I am just lazy and this is how I will be. I am happy in my place and don’t want to change.
But last year I decided to change, though very slowly, but just a little change every once a while. This last year has been an year of pushing myself. Pushing myself in so many ways that I had never imagined I could.

I have pushed myself to participate in plans.
I don’t like to go out a lot. Plans scare me. Be it for a simple coffee or a weekend getaway. The planning that is involved scares me, the feeling of being surrounded by so many people for such a long time scares me. More than getting excited about doing something fun, most of the time I am stressing about how it will turn out to be, or cursing myself for agreeing in the first place. I am not going to lie, but there have been times when I have celebrated a little in my head when certain plans got cancelled just because I did not have the energy to be a part of them. But this year I learnt to say yes to plans, even if I did not want to go at all. And turned up for almost all of them (there were few times when the lazy person took over). And mostly, as it turns out, it is so much better than sitting at home 🙂

I have pushed myself to read a little more.
Reading random mystery novels was once the only escape I had when there was a lot of pressure of competitive exams, with no phone, no friends to help me pass the time. I used to spend hours reading Agatha Christie, re-reading Harry Potter and not studying. With the entry of phone, friends and work in life, I stopped reading altogether. Maybe 2-3 novels in one year. But this last year I really tried to read a lot! I almost completed my 20 book reading challenge on Goodreads as well (with only 100 pages left to complete the challenge, but I am still proud of myself).

I have pushed myself to make up my bed everyday.
I never used to understand why my mom used to scold me everyday to make up my bed, fold the sheet/blanket. I never did it when I started to live away from home. Everyday in the last 6 years that I have stayed away from home, I used to come back to an unmade bed. Life was messy and my room was messier. But then one day I decided to fold that blanket neatly on the foot of the bed and the joy of seeing that beautiful bed at the end of a bad day was amazing. Henceforth I pushed myself to make up my bed every morning, no matter how late I am getting for office. And now I just cannot stand the sight of an unmade bed 😀

I have pushed myself to cook.
Sounds funny, and it will sound silly as well when I will mention that I might have done it only 2-3 times this last year. But this was big for me. I hate cooking (or so I think). Even if there are guests in my own house, I will look more like a guest when it comes to preparing meals. But there were a few instances when I forced myself to cook. It mainly started with a promise to make paneer for a friend who was leaving the city and a two hour long phone call with my mom, but it was worth it. After that I have cooked twice or thrice for myself, same paneer dish, not always better than before, but it felt amazing to me. I now have this confidence that if the time comes when all the food ordering apps close down, I will not die of hunger.

I have pushed myself to workout.
Yeah the same old workout story. I am not looking for a fit body. I eat a lot of junk food! But somehow these days there is an unsaid bad feeling if you are not working out. Because given our 9-5 sitting jobs, and then the binge watching sessions in the remaining time, sometimes it is necessary to take out some time to stay healthy, to stay alive. And I was told by a friend recently how working out takes away all the negative emotions of the day. That was a real motivator. And I started to workout. I am not regular. Never have been. But atleast these irregular sessions are consistent. Atleast I have started to not totally give up if I skip workout for a week. I go back again, and yes I have seen how on some days my emotions have changed drastically over a workout session.

I have pushed myself to stay motivated when I think that everything is going bad. And I cannot even begin to explain how much it has helped me in keeping my sanity. I was this person who used to get worried about things a lot. I still do! I don’t think that will go away easily. But I have learnt to let go of things a little. I have learnt how to stop worrying about the consequences of every word that I say because in reality most of the people don’t care. And those who care, either you will make sure they are not hurt or they will know not to base your entire relationship on those few words. And those days when everything seems to be going awry, I have learnt how to convince myself that things will come right back on track. And even if they don’t, I know I will learn to live happily with that off track phase of life.

Going somewhere?

Going somewhere? Out of breath? Life, never stopping to take a breath, or let us take a breath. No time to calm down. You have to keep moving if you want to make it big. If you are doing something, it makes you angry, you want to stop, but not doing anything makes you even angrier and you surround yourself with work and responsibilities that are sometimes way out of your league. But you stay adamant, you want to prove your worth. Because if you don’t, then you would be looked down upon, or so you think. You keep slogging, every day, work to home, home to work. But are you trying to get somewhere? You have no idea where to go. You are just moving, just like everyone around you is moving. You want a big shiny car, a brand new apartment, but too afraid to take the big leap, aren’t you? You want to move to a better country, and still not sure what for. You want to go to that dream destination that everyone keeps talking about, but you actually wish to go to the confines of your hometown. Because trips are more stressful than stress relieving. But maybe that is because we want to visit every single place lest we miss out on something good. You go to the gym, not for staying healthy but just to get a better body. But this pressure of getting a better body is making you eat more and worse, isn’t it? You want to read that book on your nightstand, but cannot keep the laptop down. One more episode, and eventually you fall asleep. The book still left untouched, getting dustier. Sleeping late, waking up later. Cancelling plans because going out takes too much of you. Then cribbing that life is boring and monotonous. You don’t want to drink or smoke every other day, but the loneliness of the home seems worse than the hangover and the derailing body. And you cannot stop. FOMO. Your biggest enemy. Stressing over something that hasn’t even happened but you are afraid you will miss it. Spoiling something fun you were already a part of in the process. You complain that everyone else is happy. And one fine day you wake up and are mature enough to realize no one actually is. And this weird unhappy world gives you a little bit of contentment and motivation. You start learning how to live happily with this unhappiness and lack of purpose in life. You learn to live in the moment because you realize most of the parties are blurry and the same anyway. Learning how to keep promises, and not cancelling at the last moment, because people are better at listening than the walls. You start sleeping on time, even if not waking up yet. The more the sleep, the merrier the day is. You take out time to read, even 10 pages would do. You learn how to workout and eat, because atleast the scale still shows the same number. And the workouts are pretty fun. Taking the trips slow, enjoying rather than hurrying. Still not sure what to do with your life, still over-burdened at work. But life seems better, atleast you are happier. Calmer. You learn how to leave office in office, unwind and sleep.
Life might be getting to you right now, but you will get there, bit by bit 🙂

Friendship

The meaning of friendship has changed variedly for me over time, and yet it’s something that defines me as a person more than I knew it could. But what is it exactly? I have so many different ways of explaining it.

It’s that smiling face you find in class when you are stepping out of your home for the first time in life. It’s the person who lends you their new fancy pencil and in return you share your lunch with them. It’s the person whose name you search in the list of the new class on the first day. It’s the person with whom you want to be bench partners with. It’s the person with whom it takes seconds to break and mend the friendship, and yet you never keep any grudge inside.

It’s the person who plays silly games with you in the evening, and ends up creating even sillier versions with you. It’s the person who goes cycling with you to discover new streets in the locality and sometimes sits with you and watches cartoons. It’s the person who shares your small budding interests and makes you learn their own.

It’s the person you meet when you have moved places and thought were too old to make new friends. It’s the person who teaches you how to come out of your shell and meet new people. It’s the person from whom you first learn about all the dirty words. It’s the person you walk with in the evening every day, telling about your day. It’s the person whose sibling and parents are almost like your own, their home being your second home.

It’s the person you learn to share gossip with. It’s the person with whom you sit and stare at the dreamiest guy in class, and then tail him together in the recess. It’s the person you talk with for hours on phone after talking for hours in the class the same day. It’s the person with whom you learn how not to get competitive and help each other out. It’s the person you write letters to and keep them safe for years to come.

It’s that another smiling face you meet in a new home you have moved to, away from home. It’s that friend who can make you laugh so hard that you are out of breath and then make so much fun of you that you want to throw them off the balcony. It’s that person you spend every waking hour of your life with and still not get bored because there is so much to talk about. It’s that person with whom you learn how to cheat to score the passing marks because you sure as hell can never learn how to study together. It’s that person you cannot even imagine saying goodbye to because they are literally your family now.

There are so many different flavors of friendship, getting richer (and spicier) with every passing minute. In all the different phases of life, I have made so many friends. Friends I have never fought with and gradually stopped talking to; friends I have fought with so many times and yet am very close to. There were times when I have felt that I will never be able to rekindle my friendship with someone or the other due to some differences that we could never sort out, but I have realized that as we have grown up, all the silly fights don’t seem worth it anymore, and when I look back, I only regret all the lost years. I do not remember what I was mad about anymore, nor do they! And frankly, who has the time to think about all that? With so many other things rising up the stress levels in our lives everyday, we do not need another reason like that to add onto the things that we have to worry about each night before falling asleep. All that matters now is that they were your friends, you cared for them, they cared for you. If some part of you still cares for them, you will let go of whatever made you angry.

I have met a lot of old friends in recent times that I have not talked to properly in years, who once were the most important people in my life. Harsh it may seem, but it’s true that we will always keep meeting new people in life who will stay more updated with our life than our most closest/oldest friends. It does not mean that we forget them, but we cannot keep updating every other person about every small change that keeps happening. But when we do meet them, sometimes it feels like all these years never passed between us. I start feeling that I am right there, carefree, sharing every small detail, laughing, having no inhibition at all. Yes the person sitting in front of me is almost a stranger to me as we both have changed so much over the years, yet I know that we are both those exact people that we were when we first met because that’s what friendship does to you; it takes you back in time. You remember the good old days, along with just the good old memories.

I do feel sorry when I have to say goodbye to that person though, not knowing when we will meet again. I know we said that we will stay in touch, and I know it won’t be more than a formal ‘how are you’ followed by the birthday text exchanged twice a year, but I know that if we do ever meet again, it won’t be as awkward as I would have imagined. We would slowly slip into a comfortable zone, knocking the doors of our past and just being two silly friends, celebrating their friendship.