How virtual are you?

I’m a millennial and I have a life. I like old books, coffee, travelling, and long naps. But if you really wanted to know me you’d want to go through my cell phone. The other day I had a water leak in my bag and some of the leaked water entered the circuitry of my laptop and alas when I got home, it wouldn’t charge. It gave me half a heart attack because I wasn’t sure if I’d just lost some absolutely important data and I that laptop was my baby and I took care of it more than I took care of my own sibling.

On a normal day, I’m an absolute pessimist but that day when my friend, an absolutely brilliant Samaritan called to tell me I could wrap up my laptop in uncooked rice and it would absorb the water from the circuitry. The typical Indian who likes to bargain over an Rs.50 earring would rather have a bag of rice fix her laptop than a HP Service centre who might take Rs. 5000 instead. The laptop worked the following morning, but the brain wonders, what if this was my phone instead? The pessimist was back.

I’m always a call or a text way and suddenly what if I couldn’t be?

The entire convenience surrounding my life would shatter following my phone breaking down. I’d miss out on group chats with quirky emoticons, words that would be so much easier to take in over a text than have the courage to ever say them to someone’s face(that’s a psychologically proven fact by the way) and mostly social media that lets the average  human get a legal means to breach someone’s privacy. We’ve all been there, done that.

There’s an app for everything that could replace the person sitting right next to you. Why would anyone ever feel the nostalgia of the 1800’s again when you could feel the emotion through a Skype call and rant out in 1080 p or full HD? Why meet and date like regular people when Tinder was presenting to you the ideal soul mate? Indian parents have a fascination for IIT and IIM graduates and how much easier would their life be if the average relative could be burnt with the fact that their child was married to a person with the most esteemed qualification in the country. Yes, there’s an app for that too. Prove me wrong if you aren’t thinking about searching for it on your play store, having a good laugh, screenshoting it and sending it to your online BFF with the caption LOL. Why ever be there, when all you needed was to have a much better virtual presence?

Polaroids took a back seat when a selfie came along. 21 Megapixels and each image being around 6-7MB and showing off my jaw line was all I needed to forget about a DSLR. I have an all in one. So as a millennial, if walk out without my phone, I’m walking out without my brain. I don’t control my phone, it controls me and I’ll let it till the battery dies and the universe surrounds me again.

So, ask yourself, will let you let anything besides an electronic device that fits perfectly in your pocket represent all your being, or would you just say this again, I’m a millennial and I have a life?

Home – Two nations, one roof

To the people who took me in so I could carry on,

Home. What does that 4 letter word mean to you? A roof? Your parents? Your sibling? Your best friend? Your dog? Let me tell you what it really means, two eyes and a heartbeat. A living, breathing person that lets you see yourself and the world through their eyes. Take all the above equations away and put yourself in a foreign land for say, 6 weeks. Now, what’s home?

Once upon a time, there was a girl. She was lost and maybe she wanted to go away a while, because sometimes that’s the only way to be found. So she booked a flight and started her journey to a foreign land. It was overwhelming but a sense of independence and adventure always tends to take over and that’s the moment she changed forever. When you walk through a door, you never think, this is the day your life will change forever. It isn’t merely a place that changes you, it’s mostly the people that bring that for you. A Little positivity, a hope for acceptance and the need to carry a torch for a better life.

mmexport1465659312125

So while she started out with zero expectations and nothing to look forward to, people took her in till she understood what it was to have a family outside of a family. People who take you in irrespective of your faith, your colour, your nationality and mostly love your quirks which were generally hidden. So the day you accept another whole-heatedly, is also the day you decide to carry on the legacy. So she came home and opened her doors.

Fast forward to half a year later, is a phone call that made her decide to be someone else’s home. It’s fascinating how suddenly you want to know someone else just because they’re another person. And what’s even more unbelievable is to see your own nation through their eyes. Most people don’t realize that we have is so much more than so many in the world and your home, your language, your culture beats the hell out of being anywhere else. You can go anywhere but you carry your home with you and for the people who witness it, they get to take a piece back home with them so in some way, your kindness carries on. It’s that day, that you start the cycle of peace while somewhere in the world someone preaches the opposite.

To the girl who stayed a while,

It had been a while since I spoke to someone knew, so you can imagine how excited I was with my friend to pick you up at the airport. I was trying to see myself in you and trying to live what I had once loved to experience. My parents were curious to say in the least, we had never had a foreigner stay over. My mother was worried if you’d like the food because spices aren’t exactly your thing and I wondered if you liked soft or hard pillows at night. I kept talking to you on the way back home from the airport while worried if I’d already bored you. Having a good impression was so important that day and for the rest of your stay because you are truly amazing. While someone had let me feel better about myself, I was determined to leave the same thought for you.

IMG20170105171447 IMG20170105182111

You liked the places I took you to and every photograph had genuine smiles. I had been there so many times, but thank you for making my childhood spot special again. You were intriguing even when the spicy food made your nose go red but you tried them anyway because your taste buds craved the newness.

I saw my mom come into our room each night to check on us to see if we were sleeping okay because you were yet to adjust to the time zone. My dad was always calling to know if we were home back on time. And somewhere down the line, they had two kids and not one. It feels that natural to simply be with another human being. A smile, a little kindness and a little conversation. So we were a family that prayed to different Gods under the same roof but lived the same faith, humanity, and that’s all we needed. And we went on till you had to leave and a part of me did not want to let go and neither did you. I’m not one to shed a tear but you let me feel a little emotion that left me warm and blessed inside. And while I’ll remember you by our moments, my parents will each remember a child they adopted for a while. My mother will hang onto that little souvenir you left of how your country depicts my religion. It was your way of respecting our boundaries and yet breaking the barrier.

You’re home now and you’re safe. I hope every moment you spent here leads to you to believe there’s still some good left in the world and if you ever traced your path back to this city, you’d have more than a house, but a home. And two nations would always love each other under one roof.

It was nice knowing you.

Your’s sincerely,

A proud friend, a proud AIESECer and an even prouder global citizen.

 

 

 

In Between.

The world’s a cruel place. You don’t know what cards you’re going to be dealt with when you wake up tomorrow or if there ever will be a tomorrow. Do you remember when you were a kid and couldn’t wait to grow up? How does it feel right now? Are you everything you hoped you’d be? Has your dream job or dream destination arrived? Did you meet the love of your life yet? Are you satisfied?  Do you have what it takes to truly be happy?

In case you don’t have all of the above figured out, then take a seat and let’s talk. I’m trying to guess which one of you is reading this. Maybe you’re an academic that just wants that break from life, maybe you’re a guitarist, and maybe you’re that beloved poet. What makes you tick? If you’re that Indian who’s getting a high over electrical sciences, I’m happy for you. If not, even better. I’m your average person who has her life planned out, a degree in 2 years, a Masters in the next two after that, to work till I die. There’s a beauty in routine but there’s ecstasy in adventure.

The truth is every single one of you will have that, your degree, job or the good old wife. But how are you different from any of the rest of us? What’s your in between the beginning and the end that will define you? Come on, you want a story, something you want to shout to the rest of the world. Now walk that extra mile. I’m walking with you. Not to be dramatic, but you’re probably smiling right now because I know you don’t remember what you had for breakfast last morning or the last time you had a good nap. What was your in between that first meal and crashing on your bed?

Did you talk to your mother yesterday? I’m not talking about the general mumble or yelling where she tries to get your ass out of bed. Did you smile at her, hug her because she is, after all your mom.Are you ignoring your friends because of work? It’s not work, its priorities. Your work will not wake up in the morning and tell you it hates you, but the people around you do matter. What’s all the money for if you’re eating that pizza alone? Joey did not share food, but Joey at the end of the day was a F.R.I.E.N.D. And so are you. Pick up that phone right now and make that call. Meet a friend you haven’t talked in months and catch up.  Tell that girl you’ve been crushing on since 2nd grade that you adore her. It doesn’t matter if she says no, but you’ll have your peace.  Stop the small talk, there’s more than a hi or a bye that you can say to a person. Take a minute to not judge them and say something silly. It’s worth making someone laugh in a world that tries to break your spirit every chance it gets.

Some days the universe will sleep, on the rest, you shall be its centre. And just to make up for the days where you will be ignored, set off on an adventure of your own. Steal a candy from a 5 year old when their mother isn’t looking; swim when you were always terrified of water. Live, because everyone breathes oxygen, but you will set someone free. Eat that extra donut because while burning calories is important, feeding your soul is too.

Sit down and listen to someone rant. They need it right now more than you’ll ever know. Listen to someone else’s playlist, and you’d have known them better. Ask your dad about his childhood and ask him why he is the way he is. Be kind to a stranger, you never know what a person is going through. Dance at a party even if you have two left feet.

Take a minute of your day to remember the ones that were there for you. Because I’ll be there when you’re studying and working, but you’ll remember me so much more when I listened to your heart speak. So go, take care of yourself and excel in life, but don’t forget to savour your in between.

Sincerely,

A girl who lived.

Be brave.

“Rant. Keep it coming. I promise you’re just  getting started”, she said with a smirk.

“Well, that’s just comforting”, I went on with the cue eye rolls. “That piece of shit. I mean who does that? All those months and I know I haven’t exactly been myself either”.

“Welcome back to planet earth woman”, she laughed.

“Don’t let me take off to another universe next time”.

“This isn’t your first time and it certainly ain’t your last”.

“I love these happy thoughts”, I said with a mouthful of fudge cake because was there nothing in the world that vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, brownies and almonds couldn’t fix. Also, when your heart needed tending to, when has ice cream not been there for you?

“Let’s get alcohol”, I said, not truly meaning it.

“Okay, do you really want to get drunk, have a subsequent hangover and then remember, why you had to get drunk in the first place?” she said with that you-know-I’m-right face and the raised eyebrows she loved giving ever so often.

“Why are you making valid points today?” I asked with a pout.

“Because, I’ve been there and done that and what you currently want is to do something stupid, which we shall, but completely in our senses so we can remember it. How about this, mark this date, one year from now, we’re coming back here and we’re going to laugh about it”, she replied.

“That…. Sounds like a plan. Let’s do it!”, I said a bit perked up.

“We are not mourning this, we’re celebrating this. Because, you darling did something no one does all that often. You spoke up, you said what you had to say and now there are no what ifs. You aren’t going to spend the rest of your life knowing you had the chance to say it and that you didn’t. No regrets. You were brave. You take chances and he’ll stay there, miserable and just accept what life has to offer. You will thrive and you will demand what you want wherever you go. Celebrate that as you let go. I can’t understand what you’re going through but I can listen. So go ahead, feel like complete shit and be in what you’re going through. Take a week, a month or a year if that’s what it takes. And I’ll stay here and while you continue to blabber and order another double scoop of rocky road”.

I did feel like crap but she was making a point and it did make this so much better. “Haven’t we had enough ice cream already?”

“Don’t be such an aunty”, she said while a bunch of young moms walked in with their equally young and adorable babies. “Oh my God, why are they are they so cute? I want to hold all of them. So many babies, this is my hell”.

“I’m not an aunty and since when do you like kids?”

“I like babies, not kids. The little shits grow up and start talking, that’s when you want to throw them onto the streets”.

“I’ll let you babysit my hypothetical 6 year old someday”, I say while ordering that rocky road anyway when she laughs. “Happy?”

“Do you want that kid to die? Or do you want me to suicide? Don’t let it near me. Also, you have a long way to go. Let loose, woman”, she says proudly.

“God, these kids are cute”.

“You want some someday don’t you?”

“More like I want 3. But then again, I’ll probably have 1 and scream because l made that merry decision to bring life on this forsaken planet”, I say with that sarcastic smile and that incoming rocky road.

“Look at them, they’re so happy”.

“At least someone’s happy”.

“Let’s take this party somewhere else?”

“Yes please”.

So we finished that rocky road and walked to a random street till I just stood there for a minute and remembered why I needed a break today from anything and everyone. There was this house on that street and it flanked this beautiful tree with flowers that remind you of summer that was coming and near it was a little footpath clean enough to sit down. So that’s what I did, I took my phone out, played some Coldplay songs(the instrumental versions) and decided to just sit there because why the hell not? And she joined me.

The song helped us focus on our surroundings and it felt good to just breathe, and in that moment I knew how much I needed it, some peace. She did too. We probably looked like two druggies about to smoke up at 7:30 pm but it was beautiful. Some days, we need silence, because it’s louder than you believe and some days you need to be young and stupid.

We sat there for 15 minutes straight until I spoke up, “Engineering sucks”. And she just looked at me a while until we were both laughing hysterically and loudly because tomorrow was truly unknown despite that beloved degree we were both pursuing. We laughed until this middle aged woman on the opposite side of the road wouldn’t stop staring and judging but a young heart couldn’t care less. That moment was simple yet infinite. It was acceptance that we had a long road ahead with regard to everything, jobs, love, travelling, family and it wasn’t going to be easy. But there was truly nothing some food and a meaningful conversation and some more food wouldn’t fix.

Life was never for those who suppressed things and died every day. It is truly in spirit of those that had embraced the uncertainty while not leaving behind that balance with some practicality. Life was those who said it, and said it out loud even if it burned their world because you deserve to be listened to. Life was for those who dared to make that mistake especially when they knew where the path was leading because they paid attention to the journey. Life was for those who believe in being happy because we are the generation that knew that things were meant to be questioned. Life was for those who took in a moment because they knew they were hard to come by.Life was for those who stayed even when it got hard. Life was for the brave.

 

And someday, I’ll build that castle again…

There’s a silence before every storm. The signs were always there, I just chose to ignore them because I thought it would get me to the one destination I wanted the most. I let you blow out the candles when the wishes were mine. She’s gone you know, that girl you met, on that uncertain evening. I promise she wanted more, but right now, she’s given up all the pieces for you and you’re not even here anymore.

We had it all. We had the perfect start, the perfect end to that chapter. I just wish I hadn’t clung on to that page so much, and we’d both be in a better place right now. I promise I don’t hate you; I can’t because you let me see a side of you that no one knew existed. You let me in and I let myself stay there. Never create places that’ll dip you in ecstasy to subsequently drown you in the same. I was trying to mend us but each time; I didn’t realize that I was breaking you. I don’t know how your past few weeks have been. I’d ask but it would be cruel to both of us to create a raging possibility of a distant future. I can’t control what’s coming for both of us, but right now I want to make sure it doesn’t end with either of us in the same place.

You were my summer song and summers don’t last beyond July. I was supposed to change the song on that playlist but now the replay button is damaged. People change and grow with seasons. I don’t blame you. You weren’t a monster, you were human and I finally knew my reality. Who knew landing on the ground had much more to fear than when you’re falling? There was a castle in that sky, and I was trying to make a home in a house. I’d make you climb the stairs to the highest floor of the highest tower but for a moment, I had closed my eyes and let that floor crumble beneath me till there wasn’t a place where you could reach me again. And just like that, I’d destroy the castle, you’d conjure an ocean and there’d only be venom in the spaces that separated us. You’d set fire to the crumbled castle and the smoke wouldn’t let me breathe, so I’d run. The truth was I was breathing oxygen this entire time while my mind had craved breathing freedom.

So she left, so she could build a simple home this time instead where laughter would be frozen in photographs, every drive meant the liberating wind on her face and in that home, she mattered. It was a home where you could smell peace on the fresh green grass. It was a home where your picture could hang on the wall and she would no longer feel pain because that moment would be left untouchable; and you’d have taught her to build another castle for it had happened once. It was where she’d gain acceptance.

 

 

A Scribbled Story.

22nd October, 2016

I’m struggling with conversations. No I don’t mean the kind where a person starts fumbling at words with anxiety but that I’m actually out of things to say to people. There is nothing wrong with the universe, they’re just wrong for me. The wrong ones surround me and the right ones are across borders that I can’t cross right now. Did you ever feel so comfortable with yourself that the rest of the world seldom matters? I’m better off alone. I’ve taught myself that my entire life until you were my unbecoming. But now that I’m back home, I need to get used to being alone again. It was much easier than I thought to get back to that shell. The shell where I look at people every morning and smile and the smile says I’m fine when I’m all but.

What does fine mean anyway? I’ve got my shit together so I’m fine? My grades are good so I’m fine? I’m happy as a unicorn so hell yeah, I’m fine? So yes, I think I’m fine as long as I’m left alone in a corner to do my thing. I want to listen to tragic songs on my headphones and contemplate life as it passes me by, text you while I’m at it, laugh at whatever stupid maniac theory we come up with, do math and just be. I don’t want to talk to someone. My classmate actually talked to me today and guess what when I realized I didn’t have anything to say to him and so I asked me if he’d heard a song you asked me to listen to last week. It’s all I could come up with. So I smiled and laughed and let him talk. I wish that the company of another human being would make me feel better at this point, but all it did was make me uneasy. I really did want to be left alone. I’m not lonely but I miss you most of the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dreamt of a moment where I’m booking a cab that takes me to the airport and the first I’d see is your face and we’re so relieved that its each other. I day dream that I’d run up to you and hug you while you hugged me back just as tight and I’d take in your smell and breathe your essence for a while. Then, we’d place our foreheads against each other’s and grin for a moment and ignore what every onlooker had to say about our moment. I had a conversation today that wasn’t small talk and I still felt empty. This sounds harsh but I tuned out to few of the things he had to say. Sure, we talked about the presidential debate and it was an intellectual conversation but I’d rather argue over it with you. And as dysfunctional as this may sound, I just want to be alone. I don’t know how long this behaviour or this arrogance as the world perceives it will last but I’m tired of trying to make a friend or connect with anything when it’s just not happening.

I wonder what population of the universe feels a part of them die on the inside over the meaningless glances, fleeting frustrations and the constant feeling that they don’t have a place where they truly belong. I wish we belonged in a universe where free will was all that mattered, where I wouldn’t be judged for wanting you as much as I do. I know you died last month but you’re still here. I wish this could get a bit easier, someday.

I’ll  see you soon?

 

You’ll be here, even when you’re gone.

Sigmund Freud compared the pain caused by the death of a loved one to that when the person experiences melancholia. It’s true, he wasn’t lying. We don’t need to see someone die to hit rock bottom. Every single battle witnessed in history, it doesn’t matter who won, because they only won a battle to lose the war.

I see too many happy faces on Facebook, mostly selfies, weird faces, captions and screenshots. Does anyone else wonder if that really was someone being happy or begging for the validation so they were more socially accepted? The truth is nobody wants to know if you ate popcorn at that movie you loved, but you want to know that girl who sits aloof in a corner in that library.  Why? Because she managed to do something you couldn’t. Stay alone. I don’t know if she asked for it or if she grew to love the solitude and peace over time. You want to know that story. You want to know that while the rest of the world is a happy façade, there’s still a picture to burn.  I don’t know you but if you gave me that one song you love so much, I’ll know you so much better. I’ll listen to it once, twice and the third time I’ll know what line hit you like a wave, and it wasn’t the happy one.

It’s a selfish existence. When someone is gone, you don’t miss them, you miss what they could do for you if they were here. That photograph of an ex lying on that last page of your diary is still there not because you still love them, you miss being happy and an embrace like no other. You’re trying to steal back lost time but the Hannibal has already been cast. You don’t just lose people, you lose yourself, the girl that looked out the window of a bus to smell the rain or that boy from a photograph in 8th grade. You’ll live a thousand lives to die for the one that’ll you’ll never have. You’ll try to co-exist in a space where you can’t live the dream you see with open eyes. No one warns us about how much harder it’ll get, not life, but trying to understand you. You want to understand why a person who’ll hurt you over and over again is who you’ll love like a drug in the blood stream. You want to understand why you let someone undermine your authority. You want to know why you have memories with a complete stranger. You want to understand why your best decision was your worst. You want to know why we’re all so naked with clothes on.

So yes, I may see you laughing in the college canteen, but there was so much more to you. Tell me what makes you tick. Tell me about those 5 seconds that never let you be the same again. I’m sorry if I won’t remember your favourite colour or if you hate raisins with your cupcakes.  But I’ll remember what you confessed over coffee, because you’re not a person to me, you’re a story and you’ll be here, even when you’re gone.

Because, we’re the aftermath of a war someone else fought, to see you live.