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Mar 25, 2017

Melancholy Sets In


Melancholy. I’m sitting down to write after more than a year. I am nervous and I am uncertain what I shall reproduce. I’ve experienced so much in the past year; fallen and gotten up, beaten myself down over the smallest things, read about as diverse topics as I could lay my hands on but most important of all, I’ve understood myself much more deeply than ever before. This is perhaps what causes me the most anxiety, fear and melancholy.
We all see our lives as a journey towards a goal, anything that gives our lives meaning. I’ve always had a tendency of judging people based on where this meaning lies for them. So the world is always divided into the good and the evil for me. I’ve begun to question this. This scares me!
Buddha said that we all create our own realities. This means we see the world solely based on our opinions and assumptions, hence the perceived world is an artificial creation with a million million versions of it, ever changing and ever evolving only in our heads.  Which version of the world am I carrying? And what makes me right?
Throughout history there have been people who have devoted themselves to their families, tribes, kingdoms, philosophies or nations. I was watching a documentary, before I sat down to materialise this melancholy, of a nation built on the devotion and sacrifice of people such as those. After decades of service all that they were left with were old and faded pictures of young, enthusiastic and committed versions of themselves, people who saw great meaning in what they were doing years ago. But pictures and memories is all they had now.
The ideas I find meaning in are certainly different from theirs, almost polar opposites. They were wrong and I am obviously right! A year ago, I would have been na├»ve enough to think that that was enough to guarantee a much more contented and celebrated conclusion to my life, but I am older now. I understand that we all find meaning in something or the other and divide the world into the worthy and the unworthy.  In our heads we are all right! We are all right!

Then who is to guarantee that when I am old and withered, I will not be staring at my wall of old pictures of when I was young, enthusiastic and committed and watch myself fade away just as my pictures? I am afraid there is no one who can answer this question for me. I am older now, yet I am not closer to my answer. And perhaps this is what I was afraid of facing when the thought of sitting down and writing crossed my head, that I have found meaning in my life, but am completely unsure whether I am wrong or right. And I shall only know when I am old and withered and look back at my life in retrospect. Wouldn’t it be too late then? Melancholy sets in…  

May 3, 2016

He Only Picked The Best

     I've always had a problem with authority, the upper hand, the boss. The teachers at my school, the Program Director at my work place or even my mother for that matter, all of their powers disturbed me(It still does!). Among everything that they had control over, or thought they had control over, was their power to tell you that you're wrong, that you're not good enough and to be able to pick out the best among the class.
   
     We've all faced that moment when we were not among the special group of golden students, workers or players who had supposedly achieved above average performances. The absurdity behind this age-old practice of "picking out the best" hit me the most in my previous work place. Whenever we had to show-case our programs diversity, milestones achieved, competencies of team-players and so on and so forth, our program director would pick out the "best of the best", in his opinion and train them further to play out the best show. If an image of puppets dancing around came into your head then you are probably not that wrong.

     Weeding out the non-performers we call it. Yes, apparently equating people to weeds is considered "good for performance and results" in our society. More often than not the same "achievers" got picked for every event or seminar. Which meant that the amount of training they received, the exposure they got and the networks they could create began to grow far more than the rest of the group. I have a question coming to mind, not sure what exactly, but Equality is certainly there somewhere!

     What's so wrong with this practice you ask? Doesn't it motivate the "non-achievers" to perform you say? Let me give you my favourite example. Imagine a class of a hundred children. According to our utterly misconstrued understanding of Darwin's survival of the fittest theory, we pick out about one or two or a maximum of five "best players". We congratulate them, we train them further and provide them with opportunities we think they deserve(Let's not even talk about privileges and neurology here!). The question here is, what about the rest of the 95?

     NO! The reality is that the rest of them are not "motivated" to do better, on the contrary, they are de-motivated, their self-respect and self-confidence is massacred and we push them further into oblivion where they aren't recognised or mentored for the progress they make at their own pace(the key word being 'at their own pace' here). The hundred pupils in the class today are going to become full grown citizens of our world tomorrow.

     The bottom line is that we are churning out population after population that believes only a very small percentage of them is good enough and the rest just keep on trying and trying and trying to be like that "top-tier", that honestly, got recognised once or twice for good work and were later picked out thanks to intrinsic bias on the part of the authority figure and something called the Pygmalion effect (trust me, look this theory up! especially if you are someone who is responsible for a lot of young minds)


     The pain behind rejection hit me the most when I saw and heard from the people who doubted their abilities and almost gave up working on themselves only because of having experienced rejection at the hands of our program director, team-mates who were not "good and refined enough" to be representing our program in front of outsiders.

     He isn't the only one doing the apple-picking, we as a society do it to our children and young minds everyday - in schools, in work-places, at homes, etc. We continue to make a large population of our communities doubt themselves and wonder what they are good for, when infact every individual is truly unique and capable of contributing to anything and everything around them and bigger than them. If only my program manager, my teachers and even my mother knew that they could too, just by tweaking their attitude towards "failures" and looking at them as equal opportunities(the key word being "equal" here).



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Apr 26, 2016

Changing The World?

     A lifetime of wanting to change the world, two years of being a part of a leadership programme to train to change the world and a year of cleansing myself of the hangover of wanting to change the world later, I've finally found or rather re-discovered the answer that great minds have always disclosed, to the age old question of how to Change The World! 

     Whether we like to believe it or not the only being we ever truly have control over (close to complete control) is ourselves. As parents disciplining your children, as lovers making your partners quit smoking, as professors mentoring your students or religious extremists preaching your version of morality, you only have as much power over others as they let you have. Just as Brutus says in the play 'Julius ceasar', even slaves can't be ever owned as they have the power to end their lives and take away the upper hand of their masters.

     When we spend crores of funding on large organisations, write heart-wrenching biographies and mentor young minds, the closest we get to changing the world is by creating an environment where people can see that there is a choice beyond their default consumeristic, capitalistic, narcissistic, parasitic (the list goes on really!) human self. We can create a world where that choice exists. We can never make someone choose the right way of life. If we did, then what is the difference between the imperialist and us? "Well our intentions are right" you say? Well so thought Hitler! How can we ever be sure of the right way of living, of loving, of building, of co-existing, of praying, of partying! I've learnt that we can only try, show people around us the way and pray to the cosmos that they join in the race to save our humanity.

     Saying no to plastic, giving your seat to a senior citizen, calling out a racist, helping an injured animal, following your passions or even loving someone unconditionally, small actions like these help create that world where people can build that courage to do right, because we all know how hard it can be sometimes. Our responsibilities, our education and our religions don't let us but perhaps if we saw our neighbour plant a tree, so would we. Be that neighbour, change yourself and inspire change in others, because the only way you can Change The World is by Changing Yourself!


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Apr 18, 2016

The Indian Pyaar Kahani

     Boy meets girl and falls in love. Girl hesitates but eventually falls in love. Boy proposes to get married. Girl says yes and they live happily forever more... Wait! This is an Indian love story. Can't do without a few speed bumps... Girl says yes but her parents disallow. So boy and girl separated forever! Another incomplete story to add to the collection of epic Indian love stories.
     Such was the tale of one of my friends too(actually several of my friends lately), who chivalrously gave up his true love because he didn't want his lover to choose between her parents and him. He said, "When the choice is between your parents and your lover, it's an obvious choice isn't it?"
"Your parents!" he said.
"Your lover!" I said simultaneously!
     Apparently not an obvious choice. After a brief awkward silence, as the rules of any combat proclaim, both sides have to present their sides. 
     "Parents provide for us, they love us our whole lives and we have to be responsible children and listen to their wishes.", fortunately this is not what he said, though I am quite sure these reasons weren't mentioned because it was supposed to be understood.
      Instead, he argued his family was accepting enough to have her as their bride, but if a situation had arisen that he had to choose between his family and his love, he would be torn. This he didn't want his lover to go through! Hence, the sacrifice...
     Wiping the tears from my cheeks, I still went ahead with presenting my argument because a debate is a debate! You do not let emotions sway you.
     When it comes to planning or even just daydreaming about our lives, we tend to stick with our pasts. It is the familiar, regardless of the pain and the hardships we might have been through, it is something that is comfortable to us because we already know that journey. Unlike the future, which is wholly unknown. This is why it is sometimes so hard for us to let go of our past pains and attachments and move on. Therefore, we tend to make current decisions based on what we already know - the past.
Picture taken from web
     It is to this past that I shall attach the parents to, since they are the familiar, the known. It conveniently slips our minds that the meaning of parents would drastically change in the future for most of us - parenthood! We are to become mothers and fathers ourselves and make decisions for our children. Who better to go on that journey than with someone you love and adore, someone who understands you and someone who is an equal partner in your life (considering that you have been lucky enough to find such a lover ofcourse!)
     It is this that I went on to explain to my friend. When we let go and sacrifice our lover for the sake of a disagreement at home, we are letting go of our entire future, our children. Besides, they are your parents, they love unconditionally right? They'll accept it eventually if you tell them you did it for your children! So truly, the choice isn't between your parents and your lover, but more about sticking to your comfort zone and taking a leap into the future. I think I saw tears in his eyes.
     We couldn't decide who won the debate really, we both gave commendable performances. As they say, we agreed to disagree.


I don't just write about love and relationships :)



Mar 22, 2016

36 Questions to love... Love?

     Love has been on my mind a lot lately and who better to answer my questions than the internet? It was then that I came across a wonderfully intriguing TED talk by Mandy Len Catron titled "Falling in love is the easy part". Love and Easy in the same sentence? Now this I had to check out!

     Turns out that the speaker Mandy, just like me, wanted to experiment with the ever mysterious phenomenon of falling in love, and realised that the only way to 'figure it out' was to fall in love! So here we were, two single but adventurous women, ready to fall in love. Oh but only if we knew how! Apparently she had figured out a way(borrowed from a psychology experiment) and I too set out to find the ideal guy to try it out with... and I did find him.

    There are a set of 36 questions that you ask each other (where the partner and you are fairly strangers to each other) and most importantly, openly share and actively listen to each other. The original scientist shared that a couple from the original sample group ended up marrying each other, apart from several successful relationships that commenced and Mandy herself had found a long term relationship that she was still in. Now I was getting really excited!

     Fortunately for me, I found the most understanding and mature guy, who was also adventurous and a good listener. Just the guinea pig I needed(Don't worry he knows I'm writing about him). The questions began with the cliche "Who would you invite as a dinner guest, if you could invite anybody?". I obviously has The Buddha over for Biryani and he had his late grandpa over for Butter chicken. The questions deepened gradually towards our most treasured memories and death of loved ones. You get the flow...

     As we answered and listened to each other, it was almost as if all our hesitations and our fears were put aside and we truly wanted to share each other's stories. It was then that I realised I couldn't remember the last time I had done something like this, the last time I had truly shared my life with someone and more importantly listened to someone. This wasn't love, but what we were feeling was the most essential element of human existence that makes life beautiful; Connection.

     We were connecting primarily as human beings sans all the external identities that our societies have given us, in an open and free environment that these 36 questions to love, helped create. How fascinating! I could notice that we were smiling more at each other and were much more at ease in each other's company. Was Cupid flying somewhere close by?

     But a question more interesting that this raises, is whether love can be created? What happens to all our fairytales and fables of that one true love and love at first sight? I think we humans were never made to love just one person. Our hearts are genuinely capable of a love larger than our stories make us believe. We shall only know if we let our hearts love...

     Another interesting aspect of the 36 questions we noticed was a cleverly repeated question where we had to share positive points about our partner and tell them what we liked about them. Though the degrees or intensities varied, the premise was the same - see the good in the person in front of you and appreciate them. You know what I'm going to say next; oh how often do we do this with people around us? (Good! you're catching on)

     We took a few days to finish all the 36 questions, but as promised the 37th question was not "Will you marry me?" for us, so no wedding bells or circles around the fire as of yet. And love? That is a question that we decided to stay on longer with each other to answer(yeay!). So keep checking my blog for updates on whether love happens or no. But this exercise certainly opened a door to a deeper and more meaningful relationship(or a friendship) for us. If you decide to try these 36 questions to love, please do let me know how they turn out, for now I have a romantic movie date with my guinea pig!


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Feb 29, 2016

Our Lovers Left Us

   


     I know it hurts a lot. I know you loved her and she said she would love you forever and till eternity. But its all up in flames today and the only thing that is burning are your insides. You want to leave your bare body and run away into a place of numbness and try to make all that pain go away. But every day as you watch the sun set into its warm abode leaving you alone with the cold wind, you know it will take you a long time to heal or perhaps never...
     But listen to me, look at me! Many men of heart and soul have come into my life promising to hold me while I cried, yet the moment they saw my laughter fade, they faded away too. Just yesterday, the man who said I made him happy, left me forever here looking for answers to what went wrong? Did I not love him enough? Did I not hold him tight enough? Yet I stand strong, with a broken heart, hoping... No! Knowing for certain that it will heal and join into a whole again. I know this because my strong heart still carries the beautiful scars from my past.
     Do you want to know a secret oh my broken hearted mess? The only way a heart broken by love can heal, is by teaching it to love beyond its cracks and frays. Have you seen a child learning to ride the bike? She falls again and again and again, until one day she finally learns to ride the bike and journey to all the places her heart had ever wanted. She never stops getting on the bike and trying again. You and I shall also fall again and again and again, until our wings finally learn to fly and we fall into the arms of love all over again. This time for real!
     Not that our old lovers weren't real. They were! We laughed with them, we cried with them, we had fun with them and most of all we grew because of them. We wrote beautiful stories with them didn't we? So no regrets!
     Don't let the ugliness and vile bitterness of a broken promise take over your soul. I know you feel angry, you feel disappointment, depression and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. I've heard a million defeated lovers tell me love is not worth it, love is only pain and love only murders! Listen to me, it isn't love that hurts, but we ourselves. Every day, every memory, every stab we relive again and again until love seems like the biggest evil that has ever existed. NO! Don't let it poison you. Our lovers lefts us, they were meant to. Don't deny yourself the beauty of healing and growing into a more mature lover, just because our lovers gave up on us. Let us not give up on ourselves! Let us still be open and look for that love that our souls and our bodies deserve! Let us continue to hold on my forlorn friend... Let us continue to hold love.
     I may have filled your heart with hope, that is what I intended to do. But I should also warn you that this hope will also slowly fade as your memories return. It is inevitable! Our minds are addicted to the roller coaster ride of emotions, but remember it is just a ride. You will get off it soon, so keep returning to love until one day you build your home with our love.


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Jan 9, 2016

Back from the Hiatus

Attended the Dak Thok Tsechu Festival in Ladakh
     A little more than a week into the new year and I figured it would be the best time to come back from my almost six month hiatus from writing. The obsession with 'new year new beginnings' managed to catch me too I suppose.
     Writing has always been a passion of mine and who stays away from a passion for this long you ask? Well procrastination and laziness could be it, but fortunately this time I have a better excuse!
     My last trip to Bhutan and Kachch with my ex-boyfriend I noticed how much time we both spent on clicking pictures! The right angle, the right lighting, the right pose and the right everything for that one perfect picture. So much time spent manipulating things around me instead of looking at the beauty that the Paro Taktsang or the great white sand desert was! The meditative moments disrupted by aims to capture these meditative moments! Incroyable!

     There were times in history when people could memorise and recite epics, that lasted over weeks of recitation, all from memory, and here I am not able to remember the lyrics to one Adele song right. I remember reading an article (if its written down by someone it has to be true) that when man started writing down things, her memory capacity began to diminish. Which meant the more she encapsulated her memories and experiences in words, the more it escaped from her mind! This got me thinking...
Not a Foodie, but trying out the famous Lucknow Biryani

     What ever I did in the last six months, I told myself I wouldn't write about it extensively(other than a few simple notes and pictures). So what all did I do in the last six months? I broke up with a great guy, quit my 'job', stayed on my couch watching TV for a month until one day I stood up, packed my bags and began moving. I volunteered in Nepal, had amazing Biryani in Lucknow, fell in love with a commitment-phobic guy in Ladakh, saw for the first time how alcohol turns me into a dancer, almost saw Pakistan from Turtuk(well it was almost 13 kms away), ran away from family in Sikkim, tinder dated pretty decent guys in Hyderabad, fell in love a few more times, read so many amazing books, made meditation a part of my life, camped next to a dam in a random monastic village... Well I lived my life!
The family I stayed with in A village in Nepal

     The entire time, though I was tempted to write down a few inspired lines, I resisted. I wanted to live each moment for what it was ; the Present! I didn't want to think of it as a memory I would look back on or a tale I would narrate on a date. I just wanted to be... And well what do you know, I fell in love. I fell in love with the moment, I fell in love with love, I fell in love with the world and most of all I fell in love with myself (I also fell in love with the ladakhi guy, but he just couldn't commit). Without distractions of having to make that moment perfect, my mind and soul began to really experience the emotions and movements for what they were. I could feel them transforming me, I could feel them setting me free.
     I realise that the word "free" is such a big word to use, but I'm using it. I began defining the word freedom and love in a way I hadn't before, because the burden of someday looking back was lifted and I could truly live.
     Ofcourse it meant I don't have too many pictures to boast with or candid blog posts to share, but you know what I'll live.



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