Hill Climb

After a while of aimless walking and wandering about, feeling like characters of an improv, in a setting drastically different from our regular, on a lazy Sunday morning…

During one fateful monsoon, I visited Dharamshala in a song like weather. Everything in this little Himachal town was picturesque- the rustic winds, the quality atmosphere and the calm of the hills. The view was warmly accommodating, almost like a welcome with open arms. It was the perfect mood for the cuddles, to stay bundled in cushioned beds and yet so appropriate for the wanderers to get lost. The Tibetan ensemble of the town gave it a foreign land feel and the weather was the right amount of soothing.

A group of three, we were well spread on the general tourist behaviour continuum. There are the kind who are just so over-joyed with the spirit of vacation that they can’t sit still for long. These are the ones who will have a checklist for the trip and will try to cut down on sleep just for that little extra. Then there are the ones who like to soak in all the energy they spend on a regular basis; the ones that just snuggle in and sleep to their heart’s content and rejuvenate through resting, if not hibernating. And then there are the ones who do a little of both and fall right in the middle of this continuum.

Ma- the one on snooze; decided to stay cooped up with an old book that I’ve seen her read multiple times and some masala chai. In awe with the place, Baba- the one in the middle of the continuum, and I- the hyper active checklist holder; tightened our trainers and started to explore the hills. No destination in mind and no plans at hand, we decided to see where the mixture of hills, greens and clouds would lead us.

To my utter satisfaction, I was ticking off many things on my informal list on a single stroll- walking on clouds, watching the far mountain snow glow lava as the first rays of morning sun hit it, hearing water flow as we sat listening to birds chirping, walk in the deserted lanes before they got crowded, clicked a gazillion pictures so I remember how beautiful the place is, made a bunch of wild flowers and growths to press into my book, heard the silent music of the town, observed the houses with their colour schemes and the setting of the place, filled my lungs with the uniqueness and tried to memorise the collective feeling of it all.

After a while of aimless walking and wandering about, feeling like characters of an improv, in a setting drastically different from our regular, on a lazy Sunday morning, we started to head back to our hotel room with the idea of some comforting tea and breakfast enticing us, as we desperately covered our ears from the surprise wind and the constant drizzle.

The uphill climb was a lung burner. We stopped by the very rocks where I has fascinatedly looked at the moss and baba thought I was crazy. Suddenly, I heard him say to himself,
“There is no better teacher than a walk in the nature. Every time we walk down the hill we are ramrod straight with arrogant broad shoulders, head held high with no appreciation for our lungs. Its only when we walk up, well, we bend, look humble and ask each breath to take it easy on us. And its only the uphill walk, the one that all of us dread, that gives us the best view there is. It’s such a beautifully detailed graph”.

I’m not sure if he was talking to me or just thinking out loud. We never spoke of it. But from time to time, I revisit that moment, when my lungs start to burn and I don’t yet see the view that the hill climb holds for me.

… because when a thought first occurs, it is organised into ideas and plans, and then transformed into reality. But the beginning really is in your imagination…

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The Grand Plan

‘most businessmen make the mistake of not spending enough thought and time on creating the pragmatic framework for their future dream… instead they become content in being the everyday problem solvers’

Have you felt grateful recently?

Well, I’ve been feeling grateful and fortunate for some time now.

I feel fortunate for having have had the chance to grow up with my grandparents around and still living with them as a constant in our life.

Off late, I’ve been spending far more time with them than I have in the past decade; what with the hierarchy of education year after year. Our conversations have transformed from fairytales, mythological lessons and stories of good morals to the comfortably shared silence while reading the morning newspaper while sipping on tea, a certain amount of spiritual banter, the stories of their youth and dreams for my future.

We all struggle with finding common grounds due to generation gap and yet skipping a generation can be surprisingly very companionable. Maybe because I’m the interest on their principle. Maybe because that’s the magic of a grandparent-grandchild relationship. Maybe because they find traces of their youth in my today, and I see a way into my future through their experiences.

While the time I spend with them remains valuable for me and hopefully cherished by them; the more time that I spend with them, the more I think about a particular saying by a management guru. The quote translates to-

‘most businessmen make the mistake of not spending enough thought and time on creating the pragmatic framework for their future dream… instead they become content in being the everyday problem solvers’

Lets assume that each human being is an entrepreneur and their life is their enterprise, the legacy to which are their years post retirement. Then their life partner/ spouse becomes their business partner through a merger of sorts and together they create subsidiaries in the form of off-springs.

While many may argue that most entrepreneurs save for their now metaphorical legacies through monetary investments, by building a home with children, friends and relatives- but my question still lingers. Is that enough though- to be fed, with a shed and bed? To have people around and enough emergency funds that you cut corners for? Is that really all the investment needed for realizing the mirage of future that you’ve wanted to turn into reality as a legacy where your longest companion is the partnership; and this time without the proprietary duties. In the even longer run, one of the two usually comes back to being an independent owner, too.

Have you ever asked a preschooler or a middle school student about their plans for themselves when they grow old? I did. I tried. Their imagination seems to extend, or rather is limited, only upto higher education and occupation. When nudged a little further maybe until realizing the wandering fantasies and having a family of their own of which they are the omnipresent member. This reminds me of most feel good movies, where the curtains fall just at the happy moment, the coming together of two lovers or the achievement of a difficult target, but very rarely- if ever, do they show what happens after the protagonist has achieved their longest term goal. What happens when two people, who have built their entire life one benchmark after another, are left with all the time in the day with no tangible benchmarks to rise to?

How do you live day after day when the daily work that defined your being has been declared outdated; instead is now just a measuring tool of you past? So when I asked a bunch of people a second question about what is their plan from their now to the moment when they materialize their mirage into reality- it suddenly became a serious conversation. It lost the dreamy element. Some had a vague idea, some thought they’d figure it on the way, some said they didn’t think there was much to think about.

When I say I want to be a physically active person through my 60s to my 70s and 80s, I mean that I wish to be comfortably mobile and not bed ridden; and it should also imply that I need to start being a physically active and disciplined person today. Similarly, when I say that I plan on travelling my life’s worth post retirement and enjoy all the hobbies that I’m skipping now, shouldn’t I take the time to occasionally participate in both these areas to understand what travel means to me and know which activities I can call hobbies. With the age and the cognitive ability for being experiment being at odds, I’m not sure if I should be leaving so many untapped areas for the wrinkle days. I mean I don’t wish for the activities intended to entertain myself to feel like time killing ways.

Some say that once they retire, they will resume their honeymoon period that they had to cut short in their prime years. Doesn’t that mean that they need to start learning today about how they like each others’ company and how to make the most of it even without a to-do list and agendas to achieve for the day, week, month and year?

And if all this hustle is for a golden tomorrow, then why are we so quick to shy away from the years we’ve invested our entire life for? Why use getting old as a mocking metaphor rather than a cherished hope? Why fret the greys that’ve begun to crawl out? Why treat them as years lost while they are the years that you’ve invested in order to earn experience and growth?

Maybe there is a conditioned need to feel relevant and at the helm of everything.

Maybe there is a habit of calculating self-worth through the quanta of work done rather than enjoying the quality created through the labour of past.

Maybe because we are so used to believing that we are the controller of our life and fixer of glitches, that the uncontrollable, inevitable makes us uncomfortable.

Maybe along the way we forgot to associate being old with anything that would hold appeal to us at that point of time in our lives.

Maybe because we were so busy being young and pumped that we lost sight of the fact that time will shrink us too.

Maybe because we often keep defining ourselves through associations to our firm skin and pores and seldom spend time developing an accepting foresight of the shriveled bones and ridged skin.

Maybe because we have played an active role in propagating and strengthening the belief that not running the company is the end of the company through unintended or unconscious acts, thoughts and words.

*comment with a song that explains how this made you feel

Simply Live

“It’s messing people up, this social pressure to ‘find your passion’ and ‘know what it is that you want to do’.

It’s perfectly alright to just live your moment fully, and marvel as many small and large passions, many small and large purposes enter and leave your life.

For many people there is no realization, no bliss to follow, no discovery of your life’s purpose.

This isn’t sad, it’s just the way things are.

Stop trying to find the forest and just enjoy the trees.”

– Sally Coulter

Walls

I have a post it on my mirror reminding me- “You’re Doing Just Fine”

Click For Some Music

There is this person I know. For the longest time that I can remember, I’ve looked up to her for being the ideal one. I’ve spent countless hours trying to be like her and innumerable breaths on aligning myself with her.

I’ve admired her ability to remain poised at the most awkward situations. I’ve tried to carry broad shoulders and stand tall like her. I’ve consciously put in the effort to smile just as delicately. I’ve tried to be like the rays of warming sun on a winter morning, she glows like a glow bug at nights too; lighting up wherever she goes.

She seems to have the strength to empathize with most people and remain approachable to everyone around her. Her laugh is like a jingle and she sways like a feather descending the evening breeze. She screams contentment like no one knows.

She knows exactly what to wear and has a body like there is nothing to care. She is effortless, whether in pearls or dark eyeliner. She has meaningful friendships and the bonds with her family ooze understanding and comfort.

She volunteers for causes that are close to her, travels often, works out everyday and is honest about eating clean. She doesn’t use plastic and has a small but a well-kept and vibrant garden. She is a versatile cook and pays all her bills in time.

This woman, I’ve met quite often. She lives in my head. She has had her name written all over my biggest plans and sometimes on the smaller ones as well.

For some time now, I’ve not been as welcoming of her as I was. It’s about age, maybe, or a matter of decision to place myself before the rest. One day which was like any other, after years of being disappointed in comparison to the ideal, I decided. I made the decision to not let her get any bigger than she already is. I made a pact to give myself a try. I decided to accept myself as a package deal and try and make the most of it. I’m taking baby steps.

Now, I’m beginning to feel comfortable with the idea of not always having perfect hair. I’ve realized that heels make me wobble and maple loaded pancakes are my true therapy of choice. I tend to become overly expressive and loud sometimes, and other times put distance because I need to.

I splash a lot of water while I swim and feel contentment with a rather small and intimate circle. I often get into disagreements with my parents and arguments with my siblings. I love my PJs and Netflix weekends and roll while clutching onto my stomach never-so-seldom. Some days I choose to stay up late and enjoy the party even though I’m aware that I’m going to miss the morning run. I’m making peace with the fact that inconsistent workout is better than no work at all.

For the love of nature I have two indoor plants that I’m grateful for and my room is always naturally well lit, because closing the blinds is a task. I go crazy when I see the rains, watch a sunrise or just chance upon a rainbow, so much so that people think I’m having spasms while I’m just doing my happy dance. I take the floor whenever I see a puppy and don’t care of the sand on my pants.

I’m still working on it as sometimes the other woman clouds my thoughts. I waver in my resolve and wonder if I would be better being a little more like her. Reading the newspaper is still not a routine but I try to make the most of all the knowledge available around me. And for days when I can’t seem to get my head around myself, I have a post it on my mirror reminding me- “You’re Doing Just Fine”.

I take more time for myself now. I spend time in my own company every once in a while and compare notes on my feelings. I’ve come to understand that there is more me in how I feel than anyone else. I’m taking baby steps. Some say I’ve changed, but I’m learning to take that as a compliment on my progress.

I’m working on breaking the walls that my wise self helped me construct ever since I heard something intriguing-

the walls aren’t always saving me,

they are sometimes just limiting me

Some More Music

Easing Revision

Wasn’t it time that helped us move from coconut shells to bikinis? We could all revise the black and white norms and become more grey…

After a day of work and a weekend to look forward to, with fondness towards the weekly time off which I try to assign to participating in or pursuing a hobby; the chatter turned towards lamenting over the past and its golden glory. After some pity-party I sarcastically replied to his longing with a- “there goes the highly revisionist past riding over the beauty of the holistic today”. While I didn’t think much then and we both laughed it off, as a true example of my snappy behavior and dislike for anything that can dampen my vibe. But it was only later that I realized that I couldn’t get over the wisdom of my own words; because it sure does pour out at the most unexpected times!

The term ‘Revisionism’ gained popularity back when a group of people propagated that the transition to socialist society need not necessarily be achieved through revolution; a.k.a. opposing Marx. In fairly simpler terms, revisionism stands for the watering down of ideas in order to make them more conducive of your ideas of today. It is a common behavioral mechanism used by us all- rationalization.

To think of it, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the yester-years being put on a pedestal in comparison for today, for its quality and warmth, I sure could be an investor in the Trump Towers. How many times have we all heard of yesterday’s value while the current is nagged over like the black sheep of the family. All those sentences that begin with: “In our times…”. And the number of times each one of us has compared the comfort of our own past life to the pressures of the present and found some relief in the nostalgia?

This is no rant and there is no denying the fact that with time, not only have we evolved in comparison to our forefathers, but aren’t we also evolving from our current selves? Which had me thinking- evolving is actually a sign that we are capable of change. Maybe we aren’t as stuck up, really!

Think about it, there were some terrible compositions even back then, some sad fads in the food industry (margarine, really?), blunders by leaders (declaring National emergencies), disasters by designers- which all felt quite gruesome. But in our general opinions of the past we hold them dear, because we are now aware of the results to those situations and aren’t uncertain about what they will lead to; unlike today. That’s exactly why some of the cheesiest scores of the past are thought of as landmarks today and ways of expression (woman under the waterfall, drenched in a saree, flowers rubbing off on each other, etc.) or just a funny little memory which makes us laugh and not cringe anymore. I still remember when in middle school I tripped over my own foot in an empty hallway and fell on my back with legs flagged up in the air- then it was a catastrophic moment, which meant the end of my school and social life, but today its one of those jokes that only my closest set know and is proof to me being a cluts.

So maybe, its time for a little alteration to our set pattern of thinking. Instead of wondering about the return on investment of our time, thought and ideas, we could be a little more flexible and give them a chance for revision before we run the short-distance judgment. Wasn’t it time that helped us move from coconut shells to bikinis? We could all revise the black and white norms and become more grey about the skin tones, tan lines, the right mix of time and activity, the correlation between clothes and gender, the need to categorize the world based on highlighting characteristic traits instead of the entire jig-saw that we all are, the inherent urge to succeed and be quantifies based on the bills and wheels.

After all-

what is history if not a bouquet of revisions,

and today a bunch of roses with thorns yet to pluck’

TAIL SPIN

Click For Some Music

After piling up weeks upon weeks of driving round trips for work, one evening I took the leap, ditching the car hopped onto the metro.

Don’t get me wrong since this wasn’t the first time that I used public transport, but to get me right you need to realise that this ride wasn’t just me reaching my destination. This ride was just me appreciating and realising small things. This hit me like a moment of serendipity or just plain eureka of the obvious.

I watched the red lights twinkle like stars, while I was afloat, above a blanket of city lights. I was floating with earphones on, music playing on shuffle and me playing a game of no-matter-what-don’t-select-a-song. I felt rather annoyed but feeling helpless isn’t pleasant, what could I do, it was crowded in there. Making me uneasy yet challenged by the situation.

And so I took to looking. Looking at the movement and exchanges happening around me. After all, how could I not be tempted to watch people go on with life instead trying to tailor my own?

Passengers were rushed in and boarded off without having to try. All you had to do was turn towards the door and take a step towards it when its your stop. It felt like the shoulder rides that dad would give me as a kid. I was on top of the world and didn’t have to worry about steering myself through the crowds of a fair.

The obvious had me feeling soothed. The snaking of the metro’s spine like a graceful charmer. The budding of potential relationships through the age-old palmistry tricks. The selfless smiles of acknowledgement between people who might just remain co-passengers and nothing more. A son almost jumping on his father when they found each other on the metro, at the end of the day; they didn’t care if they were suddenly taking more room than available and readily apologised but continued to be excited about exchanging snippets from the day that’s about to end. All this, once again, felt like a walk through majority of student life. You know some and pretend to know most on campus. I remember that feeling of meeting my friends each morning like a night apart was actually a lifetime apart.

The ride took a halt and the curtains opened to a scene that I partially witnessed and completely interpreted, like any excellently written play. A man trying to help a granny rush so they could both get in and neither of them having to wait for the next- they didn’t seem to know each other as she said thanks and never looked back. Could he have been reminded of his own childhood where he saw her snowcapped hair that resembled his granny’s?

A beginner at graying offered their seat to the lady in her prime because she had a bag full of supplies on her shoulder, while another kid offered to cradle the fast asleep bundle so that an older looking sibling could text somebody. Suddenly, respect didn’t look uni-directional but just a tool for co-existence.

Before I knew it, my ride came to an end. Only when I’d started to dig in was I handed the original spin off- an old, loud, bright and rather opposite one. This was Saturday evening, hence the time to tidy up and get the hustle game off.

Love

If love is so important, then how come none of my heftily paid for education ever covered it under life skills?

Click here to set the mood

Love is all I need.

Love; to grow each day

Love; to look forward to tomorrow

Love; to create something to hold onto

Love; to have something meaningful

Love; to appreciate all that we already have

Love; to value what is achievable

Love; to exist

Love; to just be

Love; to find our self

Love- is all we need!

If love is so important, then how come none of my heftily paid for education ever covered it under life skills? How is it that we are never taught at home to provide this priceless service for ourselves as a way to nurture?

If that’s all that it takes to be at peace and make sense of the crazy world, then why not start with myself? If, charity begins at home, then so should the loving.

Why not love ourselves just as unabashedly, selfishly, unconditionally and respectably as we expect and long to be loved by someone else?

WE could all do our little piece in this world- its free!

  • Plant the pots and nurture them despite the busy schedule
  • Have a bed-time routine, read, pamper, listen to music, sing
  • Catch more sunrises in the company of comfort
  • Get an adrenaline high more often- take a walk, run the trail, click that hill, dance to those songs
  • Pick a hobby, let age be no bar- not all hobbies can be as old as you are and not all can pay, some are just meant to make you feel better
  • Earn that dessert you crave instead of starving your way through it
  • Laugh more often and let the world see your molars, find more reasons to show that smile
  • Visit a new place, no matter how clichéd and soak in its beauty
  • Show gratitude to the winds for whispering sweet nothings in your hair and the stars for flirting with you through the twinkles
  • Respect comes with acceptance- gift it to yourself with a disproportionately huge bow on top

No one has a quick formula to happiness, and the ones who claim to have are the ones struggling the most. Open your hearts to making a fool of yourself and forgive the ignorance of the ones who run to judge you. Love yourself, not with blind faith, but by knowing that it’s okay to be different from most. After all, we are not the output of economies of scale, but individual creations of the universe.

So Love,

Love; because how can we ask for more when there isn’t much to give?

My City, My Home- by choice

Maybe that’s why being lost is important.

Exactly three years ago I moved to this conspicuous city with a pre-decided 2 year round trip. A city that was nothing like mine. A city that had ways of its own and wasn’t scared of being judged. This city that’s commonly known as the IT hub/ silicon valley of India or just Namma Bengaluru.

I didn’t know the language nor did I know it’s layout systems. I wasn’t familiar with its diversity and wasn’t prepared for its free spirits. I was like the lamb of the silence.

Now when I return, it feels more like home than any other place. Unlike the city I grew up in, where everything was just handed to me- right from my belongingness to my identity; this city was the wild hunt. It’s mine today because I made it.

Today, the energy raises my spirits. The chance to walk from one destination to the next puts a smile across my face. The chance to wander makes me excited. And the possibility of being here is all I need sometimes, to keep going.

Maybe that’s why being lost is important. Because that’s when you make connects that are yours to lay claims on? Is that why a self earned is always more valuable than a gift or hand-me-down?

Today, I have a family that runs just as deeply as blood in me. I have stories that are bases to life lessons. I have had experiences that have defined me. I have a personality that has much to do with being here.

Have you felt at home the way I do today, sitting in a hotel room?

Maybe that’s what counts- belonging to someplace in a way that you don’t ever doubt yourself nor your possibilities.

Try It

The things we forget often. The things that are simple and yet let gone of.
The reminders I like to set for myself. A checklist to fight the blues.

Try it sometime, she said.

Try breathing…breathe till your lungs are on fire and cry for mercy.

Try walking the street with no makeup on. Just once.

Try, because you deserve to know.

Try because it is going to tell you thing you have been wanting to hear.

Try and listen to people. Because this time, they might just be honest.

Try because this time you aren’t the meticulously perfect child of melancholy.

And when you do hear it honey, don’t be disappointed.

Try and remember why you took the chance.

Try to face look yourself in the eye.

Try to use no math or logic.

Try not to sweat it too much.

Try smiling at your scars.

Try remembering every time you fell.

Try to recollect each face that helped you up,

And when you have a list of them, let them know their help is much appreciated.

Try breathing… breathe till your lungs can swell no more, because honey they’ll never burn again…

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A song to go with the mood: