Tuesday evening thoughts

Google Chrome wants me to go to Kuala Lumpur – or maybe it’s the reader I am using. Just for 6999/-, it says. Either way, I cannot go. I am here, at my work desk – waiting to tick off the last of my to-dos for today. That might happen, or might not. Because my checklist, it needs me to talk to others, tell them all that has happened, or what I think about all that’s happening. All that needs to be done. By them, and by me.

But others won’t always be around – like right now, they are away – maybe ticking off their own to-dos. Their checklists would be long too, I presume, all checklists are. It’s just the content that differs, slightly. And for all you know, I do not feature anywhere on them. Which is why I will wait, atleast for a while. Till the urgency of the issue passes by. Till the time that thing that’s kept me awake, that thing I wanted to say, is just one of the may things that happen to you in a day. And eventually, I will give up, shut down my laptop, call it a day.

My to-do list – it will stay. On the right hand corner of my screen. Flagged red.Waiting for that tick, that will help it go away. Somewhat like me. Almost like me. Atleast like that part of me, that wants to click on that screaming red banner that says – ‘Fly to Kuala Lumpur. Just for 6999/-‘.

Actually, maybe not to Kuala Lumpur. But somewhere. Some day.

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Sue me, I’m happy

The world is full of unhappy people. Not the ‘unhappy for a particular reason’. Generally unhappy. Always complaining. Perennially depressed, annoyed, angry at the state of affairs – and not exactly sure of what that is. Ironically, all these people constantly state their need for happiness, but if you sit back and analyse the situation a bit, you realize that they are unhappy not because of the circumstances, but out of choice.

This might sound silly, because who would do things that would make them unhappy? No one. But that’s the thing – these people are not actively doing anything to cause their unhappiness, they are just being so – unhappy. Which, by the way, further proves the age old cliche – that happiness is a state of mind.

In the last year, I thought a lot about this syndrome – discussed it with a few, even wrote a long frustrated post about it; which I didn’t publish because it was what I said it was – long and frustrated. And a vent out of the sort did not deserve to be online. But today, I am revisiting the same thing, with a calmer, clearer mind. Why do we have so many people pitying themselves constantly? And talking of every small thing that they think isn’t working out well for them?

One of most obvious reasons why everyone seems so unhappy all the time is that they choose to share the unhappiness more than the happiness. One reason I can think of is that maybe they truly do believe that they deserve a better deal than the one they got. Most of these people will constantly compare their state with others. Mind you, the comparison is between all things bad in their lives, and all things good in the others’. It conveniently ignores the other halves of both lives. But of course the end result is a lot of self pity and sighing and statements about just how perfect someone else’s life is. In short, unhappiness. What else do you expect?

The other reason I can think of is, the fear of jinxing happiness. The worry that if you are constantly portraying a happy state, maybe an evil eye will destroy it. Fed into our heads from when we were children, while there is no scientific truth behind the concept, why would one take a chance? Ok, so you shared your brilliant vacation pictures in Tuscany on Facebook and got a 1000 likes, but to fix the evil eye – why not talk about how tough it was to handle the child when you were there? Or the terrible time you had finding vegetarian food, which killed most of the fun. Like I said, the Drishti Bommai of talks.

Whatever the reason is, I worry for these people. And more for the former set than the latter. Reason being that if you are putting up an unhappy facade to protect your happiness – while you are extremely annoying and negative to the ones you interact with – the eventual state of mind you are in, is actually happy. But when your unwavering focus on the ‘don’t haves’ in your life is really overshadowing the ‘haves’, you are actually extremely unfortunate – only it is not for the reasons you have concluded upon, but in general. Because if this doesn’t change, there is nothing that will make you happy, ever.

I know, I am sounding like a preachy old maata  here, but in this regard, maybe I have become one. Happiness attracts happiness. Positive brings positive. And just the same way, focusing on your sadness, will only make it more prevalent in your life. All these shitty, cliched notions that we have scoffed at all our lives have some bit of truth hidden in them. It’s no Secret, it’s definitely not magic, but it is, I assume, something that people have said because they have experienced it.

So no, we will not have perfect lives. No, things will not always work out. You will have to deal with people and situations that suck. There will be traffic jams, and annoying relatives, and beautiful things that you cannot afford. Your child will not always listen to you, you will lose money in the stock markets, you will put on weight faster than your colleague even though you eat lesser. There will always be things that are unfair, not cool, even horrible.

Yes, things could have been better. But they aren’t. So suck it up, move on.

And for heaven’s sake, try not talking about it all the time.

Memorabilia

I have scarily good memory. People, places, incidents and faces – I remember everything with crystal clarity. If you ask me what my oldest memory is – I have quite a few ranging back to when I couldn’t have been more than 4. I say 4, because I realise that most of my memories are from after my little sister was born, not many from when I was the only child – but it is still quite  a bit.

And it is not just that I remember that something happened – I remember it very visually, in Ultra HD 4K mode. I have the blue print of our home which we left when I was 5 memorized. I also remember thinking as my father watered the many trees in our garden – how the muddy puddles resembled Bournvita. And while I typed this, I was pretty sure I had written about it before and so I searched for it, and yes, ofcourse I had, almost 10 years ago, albeit in a different context. The clang of my baby sister’s vitamin bottle, when it slipped from my hands as I tried to consume a couple of drops – something I had been doing for a week. Followed by my mother losing it because we all know children should not touch medicines, and then locking me in the backyard while I sobbed. Eating seeds from chillies being dried on the steps – thinking it was raw dal and crying bloody murder, running to the bathroom to tell my mum that Ramayana was about to start, slipping on the way and breaking my chin against a chair – everything, like it was yesterday.

Then there’s people. I realise that if you have been in my life, I will remember you. I will remember every moment we have had together – especially the good and definitely the bad. I will remember your face even if I meet you a decade later, and even if I have’t thought of you once in between. I will remember what we had discussed, what you said that had impacted me. Plus, I will remember your family, where you lived, even your children’s name if you ever told me.

In a way, it’s good. Everytime we are meeting any of the Dude’s friends, I am the one who will rattle off their kids’ names, and ages so that we can decide what to get them. I will also remember the last big happening in their lives, in case they declared it on social media, just to slip it into conversations. So yes, in terms of ‘being informed’, it is amazing.

But turns out, it is not as cool. Saying ‘I am so bad with names and faces!’ is infinitely more awesome, because, what it says I believe is – I have such a busy, happening life, I cannot really keep track of who you are, or how you look. Which is ok, you know, not everyone has an ‘elephant’s memory’ as my school friends say. Only, people are almost proud of it. And when they realise that you actually remember more, they scoff at your seeming ‘joblessness’.

So I stopped acknowledging this fact. When there were long drawn discussions in groups about something that happened years ago – with most facts either misplaced or unknown, I wouldn’t butt in and correct them. I would let it go on. Plus, I think I also developed a sort of an ego around this – on the lines of if you don’t think I am worthy enough to remember, why am I going overboard by acknowledging your existence? In fact, I think I have gone as far as saying stuff like ‘ I vaguely remember her, but cannot place her’ while the truth was that I could have given you a mini biography of sorts about the said person because of one simple reason – I do not forget.

But I think I have grown up. Of late, I find myself comfortably approaching folks I have spent time with before, and introducing myself – even if they struggle to respond. Ofcourse, I limit myself to people I have liked. But yes, I no longer feel annoyed. In fact, I go as far as making them feel better about themselves by saying that ‘It’s fine, my memory is amazing’, and then add a couple more bits of information to bamboozle them. Then I smile, the bigger person here, and walk away. It’s kinda fun.

Ofcourse, a good memory also has it’s minuses. I am incapable of letting go of things. As in, if our last conversation was ugly, I will never forget it, which means I will never strike up a conversation again, until there is some sort of closure. Lots of times, the other party moves on, forgets, and basically goes back to being normal. Absolutely understandable, but I stay icy – cut and dry. And again, here, I don’t take it upon myself to explain to them why I am that way – which means the entire relationship eventually fizzles out. But  I am not complaining. Afterall, we win some, and we lose some.

Atleast in my case, we remember everything.

Things

Disclaimer : Please except a totally disconnected, disjointed post as I try to make note of everything that is happening in my life and inside my head.

I turned 35 last week and it felt nicer than I would have expected. As in, I was a bit worried for a while about hitting the ‘mid-thirties’, though technically, as I have explained before in some other post, 34-36 is the mid thirties range, which means I was already in my mid thirties. Only, hitting the half decade mark seemed to seal the deal. I am officially on the other side of life.

And, it feels good. Surprisingly so, because of late, I have been a bit worried about growing old. Actually not so much about growing older, but the fact that life is passing by way too quickly and there seems to be so much to do in such little time, has been a recurring thought. So I wasn’t really looking forward to reaching the half-way mark in the fourth decade of my existence.

But I did, because apparently human beings don’t have a choice in this. And I did it with my two most favorite people in the world, amidst acres of vineyards that were far from harvest season, in a chateau-style resort that on the two days we stayed there, was housing just us. Plus, for as far as your eyes could see, there was no sign of any other living being, except the ones working in the place. There were cycles to ride, and badminton rackets to play with, and long winding paths you could walk around on, spotting herds of deer in the evening. There was also custom-made food, and every kind of wine available at all times in the day. And while it all seemed way too quiet the day we landed, by the time we reached day two, which was my birthday, and which I brought in by cutting a gulab-jamun, it was nothing short of amazing. Which is pretty much what you would want your birthday to be.

I also did not buy clothes for my birthday per se. The thing is, all this online shopping making stuff available 365 days a year, has killed the joy of shopping for an occasion. Agreed, I had moved away from the ‘buy new clothes for Diwali and for birthday’ routine once I started working, but still, the major shopping was scheduled during end of season sales in malls. Now, there is always something going on on some ecom site at all times, and the thrill is gone. I did however bring back shopping for Diwali in the last 3 years, mainly because of Zo, and also because that’s the only time I can justify spending on ethnic wear apparently. So I just packed my favorite stuff and left.

I however, did want to buy something for myself, not because of the birthday, but in general. Which is one I realised I am somewhat of a cheapskate. What happened is, I started buying and using lipstick only in the last 2 years – that, and kajal. Before that I was the ‘scrub your face , put some moisturiser and you are all set’ kind, if that is a kind that is. In the last 2 years however, I have bought quite a few shades and brands, most of them online, and always on a discount, and never crossing the 3 digit mark in price. But I have been eyeing this pretty Mac shade (Mehr, if you are into anything like this) for a while, but couldn’t get myself to spend the 1500 bucks it cost. Only, I thought I should gift myself this for my birthday.

But, like I said, I think I am a cheapskate and just couldn’t do it. But I wanted it. So I sent a sad message on the whatsapp group that comprises of me, my mum and my sister, about how I was feeling so guilty about wanting to spend so much on a piece of cosmetic, and how I couldn’t get myself to, and how sad I was because I really wanted it and sob, what was I supposed to do? So yeah, my MAC Mehr is on it’s way and what would we do without mothers?

I also saw these very pretty shoes on Lulu and Sky which were on a tremendous off making it sort of, kind of, affordable to me. And they were available just in my size, which is such a sign, I know. So I added them in my cart, and then I thought back to the 30+ pairs of shoes lying in my shoe closet, and also about how I had only worn 3 of those over and over again in the last month and a half. Then serious guilt came over, and I logged out. And to make myself feel better, or in other words, justify my historical purchases, I wore these very pretty, but definitely not comfortable, pair in deep red to work today. Driving was a bitch, but I survived.

Moving on and away from materialism and the craving for clothes and shoes and cosmetics (yeesh!), to materialism of another kind, I concluded my 5 day long birthday celebration on Sunday, which is when I finally watched A.R.Rahman live in concert! Those who like Rahman and his music and concerts, might be aware that he \is doing this tour around the country to celebrate having been in the industry for 25 years. And for me, watching him live was a close to bucket-list item – definitely the only Indian Musician that I just had to watch perform. So I did, and it was wonderful and though we were far enough from the stage for him to look like a little pen, and for us to get confused between Mohit Chauhan and Javed Ali, except Mohit Chauhan wore a cap, it was absolutely brilliant and worth it. And also, in the 3 hours and the million songs they performed, the only ones I didn’t know were 4 numbers the troupe sang in Telugu. So yay for that. Not so much yay however to the 45 minutes we spent in the parking after the concert ended, waiting for the cars to move – but when you have the God of Indian music perform, and 25000 folks attend, what do you expect? So I sucked it up and accepted that as part of the celebration and it didn’t feel bad at all. Maybe it was all the sanity and maturity that turning 35 brings along with it. Heh.

So that was that, and as I scroll up, I notice that this post has sort of gone out of control. But considering this is like my Birthday post, and how often do you turn 35, I think a long-winded post is the least I deserve, yes?

And then, for the rest, there’s always online shopping.

Gimme gimme gimme

I love November. It is a happy, positive month that happens to have my birthday in it. The weather is brilliant. It follows festival-filled October which is exhausting-awesome. And it precedes December which is like the happy-holiday-make-plans-for-a-better-life period in life, which I love spending in an almost empty office.

Anyway, so this November, while we still have a month and a half for the year to end – I am going to jot down my new year requirements. Yep, since we know I don’t do resolutions, in their place I have my clear list of 2018 needs/wants/requirements. I am not saying requests because I don’t have the patience.

Day care – I need a fully functional daycare where I need to send Zo after school. As you know, Zo started daycare at 9 months, in 2012, and there has been no looking back since then. I am forever thankful to all that she learnt in the different daycares she went to. She started speaking clear words by 1, sometimes scandalising us. And she knew how to eat, or do her homework by herself (whether she did it, is another thing altogether) much earlier than other kids I know. She makes friends much faster than I ever have. All this, thanks to the fact that she doesn’t stay cooped in the house after school. And now, I don’t have a daycare. I am thankful that my mom-in-law is around to manage her for those 3 hours everyday before I return. But dearest 2018, this is not a permanent solution, so make an arrangement, pronto.

Better Roads – The roads I take to work have been under construction for 2 frigging years. It’s almost like one fine day the authorities wake up and go – which road do we dig up today? And then, when they finish fixing it in 6 months, then they are like – Oh, that was fun, let me dig the other side now. And then when that’s done, a whole year later they go – Hmm,  who wants roads, how awesome would a flyover be here! And bam, now everything is being blocked and dug up. It’s a year and a half since I am driving, and I have always taken a 5 km roundabout to reach my old home which was 1.8 kms from work.  I know it will all be awesome when it’s done, but I am not ok if it’s Zo is old enough to drive by then.

Clarity – What am I doing? Don’t know. What do I want to do in life? Don’t know. What does happiness mean to me? Don’t know. Why am I not pursuing things I love? Don’t know. In short, I am a mess. Yes, this is mid-life crisis, which I acknowledge, but I really need and deserve more clarity. I want it. Or I am going insane, and I cannot afford to.

Control – I have never ever bought a self-help book. I laugh at people who need outside motivation to handle their lives. I scoff at folks who think hearing someone else speak can make them understand themselves better. And yet, two weeks ago, I was so upset with the way things were, and how out of whack things were going, and how I did not seem to have control over anything, that I broke down and ordered this book. This, on any other day, I would have called a step backward. But I am taking it in my stride and actually planning on reading the book. That however doesn’t mean that I will manage like this forever. I need to be in charge. And I need peace. And you are giving me that.

Miracles – I like miracles and magic and good things happening. And 2018, you are expected to provide me with good, fat portions of this. I don’t know how, I don’t know what, but I need magic, a lot of it.

Happiness –  Quite frankly 2018 , this I will manage. As long as you ensure all the items listed above, I can handle this last one on my own, you can take it easy. I am nice like that.

Which is why you need to be extremely nice to me.

Punctuating thoughts

I was just reading an office mail that was not only missing essential punctuation, it also had the sender sign off his name with a small letter. Personally, I cannot take such mails seriously. It’s got nothing to do with being a grammar Nazi, but the very fact that you did not bother to read through your mail before sending it and realise that thanks to the missing comma, it actually fails to convey your message to a large extent, makes me feel that you don’t care if anyone takes it seriously. Hence, I didn’t.

I was always judgmental about how people wrote, especially when it came to spelling errors or incorrect use of articles, but I have softened over time. I realise that when you are typing fast, and typing a lot, the chances of missing a word here or there, is a definite possibility. It might have also had to do with the fact that I find myself finding errors in my own writing, most of which are clearly typos. Spelling errors, I still find difficult to digest because it doesn’t take much to see that brilliant red line under what you have written, and correct it. But incorrect or no punctuation? I hate it.

The thing is, most people who miss it out, speak relatively well. But when they put what they want on to the page, they stop bothering about how it would sound. Unfortunately, when I read in my head, I read like the writer is actually speaking to me. So if Dennis says –

‘Really appreciate the report going out on time. Thanks Dennis.’

I will think Dennis is thanking another imaginary Dennis, and not me. Because Dennis did not bother to add a comma between Thanks and his name. And this will make me very annoyed with Dennis.

Then about the paragraph formation. Why does every line have to start in a new line like we are doing bullets for a news reading session? And if it is, indeed bullet points, why is there nothing explaining what is about to follow? Sample this –

Have we completed the report?

Do you think there is an opportunity to make it more visually appealing?

Can you send over some talking points around it?

Let’s talk tomorrow.

I think that’s a whole lot of space for what could have been fit in two lines. And quite frankly, I have been generous while adding the question marks here, because most of the times, one is supposed to add their own end of line punctuation, based on your conclusions about what the sentence is expected to convey.  Because, who has time to click shift+? to get that little thing out there?

And this deciphering, it is still possible in the above example, but now, look at this.

There are reports to be run over the weekend who is doing them

Now what do you make of the above? Ok, the sane mind would say –

There are reports to be run over the weekend (conclusive statement). Who is doing them? (question)

But trust me, the actual point being made was –

Are there reports to be run over the weekend? (question) If yes, who is doing them? (if, then question).

And this gets my goat. First of all, what is with the convenient switching of ‘Are’ and ‘There’. How tough is it? There are – means you are sure. Are there – means you are asking. Just because while speaking you (wrongly) say – There are reports due this weekend? – with a lilt at the end which confirms that it is indeed a question, doesn’t mean you write it too. And that too, you forget symbolizing the lilt with the little question mark! Why?

Not cool, because the reader, in this case me, will first stress about there being reports to run over weekend (which I was not aware of, and just assumed there were,  because you said there are) and then look for who is doing them (a wasteful exercise because there are no reports). Like I said, very, very annoying.

What is even more fun is that I have actually pointed this out to folks, hoping to make them a little attention to what they are writing. And most often, I have been responded to with a – Ah, who bothers about such little things! We don’t have time to proof read each mail’. Or even worse, ‘Come on, we are Financial analysts, not English teachers’. And so, I have pretty much given up. And instead think of these as fun brain teasers, where I try to beat my own record in the time I spend to understand mails, because yay, puzzle!

Because, is there a point in trying to convince others that how they sound in writing matters, just as much as how they sound while speaking does? (question) Especially when they really don’t care? ( additional question)

Nope, there isn’t. (conclusive statement)

The road ahead

So what happened after the last post was that Ramu Kaka fell ill and didn’t come yesterday. It was very sad and made me all worried about the jinxing power of showing off on blogs. Then he returned today and made delicious aloo-parathas and so I was like, maybe I was over-thinking it all. So I returned here to post again. But no, this post is not about Ramu Kaka. I honestly have no idea what this post is about – as in, this post exists because I feel like writing, and not because I have something to say. But because I am here, I might as well say something.

Now you all know we moved into a new house. The new house’s only problem is that it is far. Far from work, that is. Those who have been reading me for long, by which I mean ~ 8 years in this context, might have read this post from the yore, where I was lamenting about my long-long ride of ~30 kms to work. Well, things obviously changed and we moved to a place that 1.8 kms from my workplace, which was like a dream come true. All was well, but we decided that all this was too good, and moved to Pune, where I was around 6 kms from work, and the Dude was 35 kms from work, so while I was pissed that I had to travel for more than the 10 mins I was used to, I couldn’t complain much, because that would be plain mean. Also, The Dude would have killed me.

Then, we moved back to Hyderabad, and to our old house, but, here’s the twist – my new workplace was once again a good 16 kms from home, and the roads that led to there were pretty nasty – it was actually the same route that I took before in 2010, turned the other way round. Talk about irony.

Well, it wasn’t all bad because eventually I moved jobs (again) and was back to my 2 km journey, and, at this very time, we decided to buy a new house that was – in our old people language – in a not-so-crowded area. Because, you know, old people, peace, green, quiet, too much pollution, need-more-space, close to school, blah-blah and whatever. We were fully aware of the distance, but somehow, the thought that the move was almost 2 years away, made it look like an unimportant thing.

Anyway, fact is, 2 years eventually do happen. And they did. And now, the move is made and the house is lovely. It really is away from pollution, and doesn’t warrant dusting twice a day (something we faced in our centrally located old home where you could walk out and get anything at any time of the day). It is also big and pretty and we are doing it up the way we wanted and yes it takes longer to clean the place. It has a lot of walking space and cycling place and hardly any crowd, because it is practically in the ‘suburbs’ if Hyderabad had a thing like that. Which means 4, yes 4 restaurants deliver food here. Which means to even buy a tooth brush or get your eyebrows done you have to get the car out (no you don’t, I have just gone lazy). Which means we are back to travelling 12 kms to and from work.

So fine, 12 kms is not 30 kms, or even 16, and it is definitely not all through roads which haven’t seen the sun in a while because they are forever covered with vehicles, but they are more than 2 kms. And to add salt to the injury, they make you pass through the said 2 km stretch, which you wistfully sigh at every time you pass – going ‘Been there, done that, Oh Lord what have I done’. Also, this time, I’m not being chauffeured around in a bus or cab, and I am actually driving (is it better or worse, I’m yet to make up my mind).

It is not all bad really and in fact, the route I take has good and a bad half. The first part is through the route which I believe everyone in the city has decided they just have to take or they will miss something in life. It is also the road that the GHMC folks think should be made better, a noble thought, only it means at all points of time 1/2 of it is under construction and blocked. The second is on the world(!?) famous outer ring road, which makes driving feel like a fun activity (what? Not everyone loves driving people. Some, like me, do it because it gets you from one place to another).

All in all, it takes around 30 mins, and every day I listen to Radio Mirchi play whatever they feel like, which is mostly traffic updates from other parts of town, that sometimes have the ability to feel better about your own state. It is definitely the most time I have spent driving by myself. It is also the most time I get everyday to spend with myself in general. So, quite frankly, I am not really complaining.

I mean, I am. But not so much.