Day 14 : Children’s Day

NaBloPoMo November 2016

My school friend called me yesterday (14 Nov 2016). We were in the same class from Nursery to 12th. We used to study together for exams in some of the years.

She was remembering one children’s day celebration that I had organised at my place. I like to rummage through old stuff, which is aplenty in our 150+ year old house and the ground surrounding it (we used to own a ginning factory). One fine day in the late 90s or in the year 2000, I found a framed photograph of Jawaharlal Nehru. Children’s Day was approaching, and a Hindi lesson where a gang of girls decide to clean up their village was influencing me a lot. So I decided to have a gathering where we make our own gang of girls.

Incidentally, the leader of the fictional gang and my friend N shared the same name. That made me believe that we can bring about a ‘Kranti’ – a revolution.

I called up all the interested girls in our class on the 13th. I am happy to say most of them turned up. We were about 6-8 attendees at the gathering.

I dusted Chacha Nehru’s photograph, took out the jumbo chattai (carpet) to spread under the neem tree in our ground – the venue for the gathering, and cleared the neem twigs with a kharata (broom). At around 12 o’clock, the photograph was propped up on the chair, which was kept near the carpet.

My Mom had made snacks for us. I don’t remember clearly, but all the attendees brought something from their home. Yes, I think they did.

The gathering was planned with utmost detail. When all had arrived, we lit an agarbatti (incense stick) as homage to the great soul. I had prepared a speech, which seemed very inspiring to me. Everybody listened till they could, and then shut me up. 😐

We played passing the parcel. The winner got a prize. Then we had our dabbas in the cool breeze under the neem tree, which gave us shade in the otherwise sunny afternoon. Time seemed to stop. When the meeting was over, handkerchiefs were handed out to everyone as a return gift. (I got to know afterwards that giving a handkerchief to someone is considered a bad omen. Your friendships turn sour, if you do. Well, I am happy to say that it is not so and they might be saying that for used hankys ‘cos they spread infections. We all have retained touch with each other and have stronger ties than ever.)

Of course, we did not realise the significance then. We do now. It was an attempt to freeze our childhood which was running out fast – all of us were in already in our teens.

We fought over the futility of the idea, there was reluctance in getting together, but when we did – we made a merry afternoon of the gathering. There were many such gatherings (not on children’s day) at intervals of 5-6 years after each. The reluctance was always present, last minute drop-outs were coaxed and dragged into the train/car to Lonavala and we kept on making memories like that noon.

Thanks N, for reminding me of that Children’s Day yesterday! Love you, and love our gang of girls!

30s Gyaan

I am turning 30 this 6th October.

Though I have been feeling 30 since I was 26, the official event occurs next week.

This makes me want to share what I have known about life in these 3 decades.

As Col. Julius Nagendranath Wilfred Singh says in Chhoti si Baat :

 “Ye ek art hai, kala hai. Ye meri 65 saal ki zindagi ka nichod hai.”

 

(In my case, ye meri 30 saal ki zindagi ka nichod hai.)

Since today is 29th, and I am still 29, this seems a good day to start my sermons.

Let me start by citing some facts about the age 30 (applicable to me, may or may not be applicable to others).

Fact #1

You don’t feel as old as you had thought you might. 

I had to write a composition in Sr.Kg. Essentially, it was a fill-in-the-blanks assignment titled ‘My Mother’. It read – My mother’s name is _____. My mother is _____ years old. And so on.

It was a homework assignment. My Mom used to take my studies. I filled her name. I asked her, what do I fill in the second sentence? She said, fill what age you think I am. I thought a lot, and thought, to be old enough to be my Mom, she has to be at least 30. So I wrote 30 and my Mom graciously let it be. (She was 28 then.)

And now I sit writing this, at the age I thought she was then!

Recently, when she turned 51, she told me, she doesn’t feel the age. I believe her now. My Grandma once told me, even when you turn 80, you’ll realise it only when you look into the mirror or your health starts failing you. I fantasise about turning 80 sometimes. And unlike the figure of 30, which has intimidated me since last 4 years, 80 doesn’t. Maybe, because it seems so far away…

Fact #2

People begin to take you seriously.

Try telling people you want to be a writer or an entrepreneur at 18 and try telling the same at 30. Odds are, the distractors will tear your dreams apart at 18, but find no points worth mentioning at 30. At least, that is what has happened to me.

Walk into a shop, take a cab, get the grocery – everywhere, if you have the personality to match the age, people will listen to you more seriously than they would a teen.Sad, but true. (I say teen because in my early 20s, I felt like a teen and in the late, like a 30 year old. I have not experienced the 20s mentally.)

Fact #3

You begin to live for yourself.

Aye, you have tried your best to put yourself above the demands of the mundane till now, but seldom succeeded. At 30, you gain the assertiveness to really put your foot down and start living. You can even successfully contradict a bossy grown-up!

Fact #4

You begin to form a wall around your emotional self.

Gone are the days when trivial remarks used to affect you. You learn to ignore what is not important to your personal life. You do not make time for negative people and surround yourself with friends, family and mentors who contribute to general well-being.

Fact #5

You are not afraid of failing.

3 decades are enough to show that no man is exempted from failure. Small or big failures have come your way, and have toughened you enough to not shy away from embarking on anything new. You take risks, but not like you did in the wild 20s. You know when to go forth and when to retreat. Giving up – you have learned. You no longer make it an ego point. But you have also learned what will work, and are not afraid of going after it.

Fact #6

You are more confident than your teen years and twenties.

From my experience, till you are in school, the focus of your life is pretty restricted. If you do well in studies and sports at a certain level, your confidence in yourself is unchallengeable. As you move out of school and are exposed to a bigger and real world, where people around you know things you don’t know yet, you begin to falter. It is the acceptance of the fact that there is so much to know that brings self-doubt. Which is good within limits; but if it crosses a certain level, it causes one to retreat into a shell for no apparent reason. This self-doubt can eat up decades altogether, till you learn that – everybody who excels at something, lags in other things. Also, even an expert cannot say that he knows everything! So, what you know, till now, counts for something and is not vain, if you do not consider yourself an expert in it.

30 in way, returns to you the confidence of your childhood.

These were my observations for today. I would like to know how valid these are, from those who have already been 30 or are approaching 30. 

 

 

DAY 21 : What three lessons do you want your children to learn from you?

It is difficult to pick only 3 lessons from the truck loads that occur to me every minute of the day. I shall prioritise though :

  1. Do not be bogged by the habit of procrastination. It can be overcome.
    Dear children, if you ever read this, you’ll know that this post was supposed to be written on 21 July 2015. Instead, it comes on 23 September 2016. Reason? Procrastination.
    I procrastinate for one or more of these reasons :

    1. Often, procrastination is a result of a deep desire for perfection. If you are old enough, you will understand what I am saying.
    2. I put off things which are important to me, but may seem unimportant to the family. I do this to accommodate the demands of the mundane. Postpone that painting I so want to finish, for the dishes that need to be done. This is my example, you will have yours.
    3. I am afraid of gratification. You may have heard of people who are too afraid to acknowledge that they are happy, fearing they will be plunged into deep sadness soon. This leads me to delay doing things I love to do. An equally possible reason I procrastinate is – I try to do the thing I want to do so earnestly, at the last – like a dessert.
    4. What about the things I don’t want to do but have to do? You’d think I procrastinate the most on them. Nope. Think hard and you’ll notice I put off things I love to do rather than have to do. One exception is workout. I know I have to workout, but put if off every morning and then every evening.

      Have I overcome all this? Well, not all at the moment that I am writing this. But I have overcome parts of it. I have let go of the heavy expectations of perfection from myself. I have realised that I can find time pockets if not hours on end to do things which I love to do – I read while waiting for the cab to arrive, I read while travelling in the cab. I am not afraid to be happy doing what I love to do – it doesn’t matter if my activity is termed useful or a waste of time by the family. I have learned to enjoy things I don’t want to do but have to do. If you do anything, even an unwanted chore with concentration, it gives you a peace of mind which will be useful when you do things you want to do. You will find that if you do the dishes well, you will enjoy your reading break more. Otherwise the reading will be harried.
      So yes, voluntary or involuntary procrastination is curable.

  2. Bullies will be there in every walk of life. Learn when to ignore and when to confront them.
    The first bullies come disguised in the form of friends. The second walk up to you in the form of authority. They can be people you can avoid and they can be people you cannot avoid at any cost. They may be temporary fixtures or permanent relations in your life. The worst bullies are those who pretend to be your well-wishers. The more tolerable are the ones who openly impose restrictions on you in schools, colleges, workplaces and your social circles.
    In my case, I am brought up to be sensible to the feelings of others, I unknowingly get bullied emotionally and confirm to others’ notions of life just to avoid confrontation. Physical bullying probably ends at school level and can be dealt with if you talk to your parents. However, emotional bullying is a bit complex. I have found a way to deal with it by shielding myself against the hurt expressed by the bully, at the risk of appearing cold and rude. This has to be done in moderation and you need to remember not to turn into an island by meting out the same treatment to your real well-wishers. The other kind of bullies – the authorities – believe you me – you just have to complain to the higher authority and/or stand your ground, look them in the eye and say, ‘Hey, dude, Sir/Madam, this ain’t gonna work on me. You will have to do the right thing, and by the book. And if you think of threatening me with consequences, well, I am ready to face them. At least I won’t have to submit to your bullying.’
    Now the best part of my advice – a very few bullies fall into ‘the ones to be taken seriously’ category. You can easily deal with the rest by just ignoring them. Learn that from me, I am perhaps the most skilled confrontation avoider you’ll ever meet.
  3. Be friends with nature and animals.
    You know children, as you grow up, you’d think the world becomes simpler, the exams stop, the pressure to do well in studies and sports is lessened, the money is easy and you are at liberty to stay up well past your bed-time and get up whenever you want to. This doesn’t happen. At least not in the way you might picture it. I longed to grow up so that I’d be taken seriously by others. Even that doesn’t happen. If it happens in your case, well and good. If not, you will be stressed more often than not and will need an outlet to vent out and calm down. The best place for this is anywhere close to nature. Even your balcony garden counts. You also need to understand and form bonds with animals around you (not only the humans) – so that you can retreat to them, talk to them and learn the art of life from them. Mark my words, when happy or sad, when elated or depressed, when rich or bankrupt – go close to nature and animals – your spirits will be grounded or uplifted – as per need. Great balancers, these.

This was all my advice for now. And I am positive you’ll find I do follow my own advice, when you will be reading this.

Taking stock

Half of 2016 is over. (according to me)

There have been a lot of changes since January 2016 in my life. We came back to India.

This is what I wrote in January – the things I am excited about :

  1. This online HTML/CSS/Javascript I am taking on Coursera. I have stayed put and actually finished the first week. Here I am, creating an ordered list using HTMLtags, on my own blog. How cool!
    Did not finish. But learned enough.
  2. Starting my own software development team, which I aim to make into a service-based startup. And eventually a product-based company. It’s called The Mavericks.
    Licensing under process. Website up. 
  3. The prospect of learning ice skating basics.
    Since we came back to India, the plan stands cancelled. I am continuing learning Air Pistol Shooting instead.
  4. Writing my fashion blog The Damsel in.
    4 posts written. Should write more.
  5. Planning a vacation in May. As a new year present, the hubby’s got me a planner notebook for 50 places I want to visit.}:)
    Planned a wonderful vacation in Himachal Pradesh and made lifetime memories in the picturesque DevBhoomi. 
  6. Reading 100 books this year, of which I am on the verge of completing the first.
    Lagging behind, but reading regularly. Print and eBooks both.13 done.
  7. My recipe being published in Photoawardme calendar, sponsored by Jamie magazine, for the GCC region. And me being inspired enough to take up cooking on a regular basis. Psst…learning to bake a cake and muffins is in the offing.
    Haven’t started baking. Long way to go. It has taken a backseat for the moment.
  8. Running a fun run at the Dubai marathon.
    I did run and completed 5K.
  9. Getting to watch the finale of Downton Abbey soon.
    Haven’t watched.
  10. The prospect of turning into an amateur fashion designer. No kidding! I get visions of the garments I wanna make, like Jenna does in The Waitress.
    I am learning to draw. I can’t put my designs on paper unless I know how to draw.

About the New Year Resolutions :

1. Pursue a sport. Shooting
2. Start coding again. Taking on-off courses.
3. Write without the fear of your inner editor. Wrote a letter to the editor. Have to write now.
4. Learn baking. This won’t happen soon.
5. Prepare a virtual travelogue. Should work on this.
6. Read 100 books. Reading continuously.
7. Draw the fashion designs in your head. Learn to draw, if need be. Learning to draw on thevirtualinstructor.com.
8. Start video blogging/podcasting. Recorded a short video in Manali.
9. Love your blog(s). Let it show. Needs work.
10. Be your own mentor in all walks of life. Failing terribly. Need to take myself seriously.

 

On living a lie

I write this is in a fit of peculiarly cynical and pessimistic mood, when everything in my world seems bleak. I do not remember sharing negative aspects of life on the blog.

What is so serious?

There are days like today, when despite the weather being as pleasant it can get, I feel like life is crap. Pardon the language.

I see dreams written decades ago and not materialised. I see the mirror and realise I am far from what I’d like to look like. I see social media and find individuals living the life of their dreams (quite a good thing if true), but feel a twinge of incompleteness in not living each day as I would like to.

I have evaluated this mood from a third person’s perspective and found that I can indeed live my life as I want to. There are no significant external factors stopping me. It is me who puts my happiness on the back burner. And this has been the case for as long as I can remember. Perhaps since school days.

I would like to wake up early, I don’t. I would like to meditate, I don’t. I would like to cook new recipes, I don’t. I would like to write fiction more, I don’t.

I let life carry me adrift like a log at a sea – stormy or dormant.

I am sure you might have experienced this mood in varying intensities. Whom do you share it with? What measures do you take? I am going out for a walk, just so you know. I hope I wake up with brighter spirits tomorrow.