Life, as we knew it (or we thought)

My mother asked me how is that I haven’t written at all about these extremely weird times. I told her that I hardly write anyway these days, so that could be it. Or maybe, it is also that these times have had this unusual effect on me (and as I understand a lot of people around), that has put a pause on the usual. Writing, seemed normal sometime ago, and all you needed was time, a topic (not necessarily in my case) and ofcourse, the intent. Now, the former two are available in abundance, but the last one has disappeared.

I read some place, has to be one of those thousands of forwards we receive everyday, that the sort of lethargy the body feels right now, despite maybe not exerting it as much since you are home most of the time, is the body’s response to grief. We are unhappy. And this overarching sense of doom (doom is a very big word I guess, maybe this sense of being utterly lost) – kills the enthusiasm, the positive vibes, everything that makes the world seems a fairly nice place to be in.

Anyway. I last went to work on 12th of March. And I last stepped out of the gates of our community for a grocery run on the 20th. Since then, there has been no going anywhere, no meeting anyone. It is amazing, how I am not ok with this set up, because I am the kind who needs a rest day (with minimal social interactions) after every 2 full days spent with people – at work and otherwise. So technically, I should be ok. But nope, I am not. I guess there is only so much of the same old rooms one can take. And like everyone else, I am exhausted.

My reading mojo practically disappeared the day we went on lock-down. I have been spending all my team on Instagram and maybe a bit of Whatsapp. I tried art, I tried my hand at the keyboard, but all the time and resources still don’t add up to interest – when you are in denial of things that are.

The plus (and minus) of this whole situation is everyone is in the same state. So there is still scope to be inspired by what the others around you are doing. And try add value to yourself in someway. But like I said, my physical self is refusing to go above and beyond. I am absolutely ok doing the household chores (I’m almost a pro), managing Zo, getting my work done, and also sneaking in a workout (my one good thing). But I practically refuse to do anything, anything  else that these ‘positive’ forwards of the world, say we should be doing.

When the lock-down began, you could see a million time-tables floating around, with people having an hour by hour schedule of what their children were to do for the day. And then, soon after, I read a couple of forwards, one of them sent by Zo’s school itself, that instead of trying to make stringent schedules to ‘make the most’ of the time for the children, at this time, we should just let them be. Because this situation is just as difficult, just as new to them too.

I have taken that stuff to heart, and not just for Zo. For myself too. I do not want to use this time add value to myself. I do not want to do all that I wanted to do before, but didn’t have time for. I do not want to learn something new. I do not want to acknowledge that this may be ‘nature’s way of healing’. I do not want to believe that this might all be for the best. Because for me, it is not. I liked things as they were. And now that they aren’t – I am going to do just one thing.

Accept it, and let it be.

Jab tak hai jaan (or, time)

I am supposed to choose between

  1. Writing a post with J – writing a post at all in fact because at this point in April, the letters are ceasing to matter. Or are they?
  2. Continue reading my current book – The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak, an author I have come to adore after the last book I read by her. This seems just as promising, if not more.
  3. Listening to the soundtrack of Student of the year 2, that’s released today. Of late, I have been out of touch with all Bollywood music because the car was the one place I got all my updates, and now with these audiobooks taking over my life, 2019 has been relatively music less. Not cool.

Yeah, so I have decided to do it all. Ofcourse.

The music is playing in the background and I am not really impressed yet. Quite meh. When Student of the Year released, despite all the overtly dramatic sets and all, I liked a number of songs. And despite the cringe-worthy title of the song Ishq-wala love, I still think the music was beautiful and I have used that song to test the quality of our music system multiple times. This, however, like I said – meh (so far).

And before I return to my book, I am writing this post right now because – guess what? The blog’s turned 15. I am not writing this in bold, or CAPS or with exclamation marks because, I am no longer surprised. I am not all that regular, I am not all that coherent, but this page has stayed. And yes, while there have been absences, they haven’t been so long as to negate the continuity of this blog.

So yes, blogging might be dead, surfing blogs might not be a thing anymore, but if I have stayed on with something that started as merely a ‘fun thing to do’, I have to give it some credit. It’s been great.

For now, I am happy. I hope I continue. I might, for longer than I think. I might stop today. But then, I have 15 years of my life out here, so even if I do stop today, I think I have enough.

Happiness theories

With Amazon’s 3 month trial on Audible, I decided to take a risk and try out something beyond my usual genres. I am heavily into fiction, but with the highly recommended Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari – I took a leap of faith into an unknown world. My justification? Well, someone is reading it out to me, while I am driving. I just couldn’t fall asleep. Needless to say, the experiment was a huge success. Not only did I love it, I recommended it to others and made them fall in love with it too.

This post however is about my favourite part of the book. And this came around hour 13 of this 15 hour long book.  Yes, that late. I mean, I liked everything in it, but this was what stayed with me in utmost clarity. The second last chapter- as The Dude corrected me, because I thought it was the last. The chapter was about the human perception of happiness.

What it says is – and it isn’t something you haven’t heard before – happiness has 3 theories. One has to do with expectations, and since expectations are variable, you cannot really meet them and by that equation, can never be truly happy. The third talks about it being an abstract concept which humans themselves are unaware of. So technically, we are ourselves absolutely unaware of what happiness is for us, and so we keep trying to pursue it, ending up exhausted and frustrated, but never truly happy.

But my favorite theory was the second. It says, that happiness is determined by our internal biochemical constitution. And that, we have absolutely no control over it. Yes, we might identify things we believe will give us happiness, and work towards them. And yes, achieving what we want might give us momentary exhilaration – but over a period of time, we fall back into the happiness range that our bodies have predetermined for us.

So basically, the pursuit of happiness, is pretty much a waste of time. Because, as this theory explains, and so does experience, there is no point to it. It won’t make a difference really. Why else do we feel unhappy for no particular reason so many times? Why, most of us, if asked what would make us truly, genuinely happy, don’t have a concrete answer? Yes, for someone undergoing extreme misfortune, an end to such ill-fate might make him happy. But for how long? How long, till the person returns to neutral state? In fact, it is this neutral state, which is different for different individuals, that seems to explain why some people are perennially unhappy, despite all that they might seem to have. And others seem extremely content and happy with the little they do.

I can’t think of an answer, except for this theory. Whatever you do, how much ever you try, whatever you gain, your happiness levels will fluctuate in your pre-determined ranges, and any sudden up or down, will eventually subside.

Does this mean we stop doing things that make us happy, however superficial? Does it mean we give up all things material – since they are supposed to have little or no impact on happiness anyway? Nope. This is where I am pretty clear. These things, especially the little experiences, the things we buy, the things we own, agreed they might be doing little or nothing to alter our happiness quotient. But they do spark a bit of joy, even if for a day, or an hour. And for a life which seems to have pre-defined highs and lows, these bits of joy seem good enough as something to look forward to.

So yes, I have made peace with this explanation for myself. I realise that this might seem like quite a quitter thing to do – you know – give up, because you have convinced yourself that you have no control over it? But surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to matter. It has also given me a lot more tolerance and patience to deal with people, who for no reason, believe with all their heart and soul that they are just not meant to be happy. Because turns out, they are not wrong after all. Only it is not their destiny, or fate, or karma that is causing this.

Just their low levels of serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.

Guilt-tripping

Yes. I am guilty.

Guilty of not having picked up a book after the one I finished one on the last Thursday. I need a break and I am taking it. Plus, the weekend was so crazy busy that I had the soundest of sleeps on Sunday night, with me waking up only once or twice to switch the AC off and then on. It’s a bloody miracle!

Guilty of hogging on a multitude of sweets yesterday. Admitted, I did the same on Sunday too, but Sunday was 1) the weekend, which means I am allowed to cheat as much as I want 2) Vishu, which means I was visiting mum, who decided to make the world’s most delicious malpuas so you cannot blame me. But yesterday was Monday – so I shouldn’t have stuffed myself with all the homemade Mishtidoi (Mom’s fault). And Shrikhand (mom-in-law’s fault). And random cream biscuits (Deux. You know them? You should try them. Oh, also, totally my fault).

Guilty of spending way, way, way too much time on Netflix and then following it up with a lot of Instagram. I mean, I always do, but I thought I had it under control of sorts, what with all the books that were taking my time. So this is in a way an extension of guilt no 1. By the way, I have just started on Queer Eye on Netflix and I am hoping it will re-ignite my once prevalent love for reality TV (Project Runway, America’s next Top model, even Roadies!), which has been restricted to MasterChef Australia for a while.

Guilty of not spending enough time with Zo. Now this is a guilt-trip I have been on for the last 7 years, 6 months and 2 days, so I am not sure if I should be mentioning it at all. You see, for all the independence you claim, for all the self-love you believe in, the moment this one human enters your life, and gives you so much importance, that you are forever left feeling that you are not doing enough, and what did you do to deserve all this unconditional love and adoration? Damn you motherhood.

Guilty of still giving in to excuses – once in a while – but more often than you’d want. But I guess that’s the way it works. Again, what is it that makes you feel that whatever you are doing, how much ever you are doing, it is never enough?

Guilty of writing this post solely because I needed to title it with G. Am I excused?

Forever in blue jeans

When I started this blog – actually no – when I revamped this blog, moved it over from Livejournal to WordPress, I couldn’t wait to get started. It had been a while since I had wanted to make the move – One, because WordPress seemed to have so many nice templates, and Livejournal had started looking relatively childish. Two, this was around 2009 I think, when all the bloggers I knew and read were anonymous – until someone stalked you enough (guilty) and found you and added you on Facebook, after which the entire blogging community was on your Facebook list and you were the extreme opposite of anonymous – I mean, something more than ‘known’. So I wanted a url which wasn’t my name. Third, it took my technologically challenged self a while to figure out how I could move all my old posts along with the comments, so when I finally did, I wanted to move immediately. Which is when I realised, I did not have a URL thought of as yet.

It was one of those Saturday nights we were having, and the music in the background provided a good set-up for what I believed was a thoroughly creative introspection I was undertaking. And then, Neil Diamond started crooning. The Dude is a huge Neil Diamond fan, and I had spent the last 2 years with him getting updated on English music other than the Pop songs I was aware of. So while Neil Diamond belted out his best numbers (I presume, because the collection was in fact called the Best of Neil Diamond) – he reached my definite favorite – Forever in blue jeans. And the blog name was born!

And so was my convenient answer to the question – what should my display name/handle/profile be? Across the multitude of Social media that I am part of – I am, and have always been some variation of ‘The Girl in Blue Jeans’. It felt apt – mainly because it was an offshoot of my blog name, and also because like every other girl in her 20s, I was in fact – forever in blue jeans.

But not so much now. I think it’s an age thing? Or maybe the summers have gotten worse? Or maybe there are just so many options? But I just cannot get myself to pick up a pair of jeans as my to-go outfit anymore. It’s almost my last choice, maybe one before sarees (which unfortunately, though lovely, are more costume, less outfit in my case. Plus the effort Oh My God, kill me).  Back to the jeans, the very thought of wearing fabric which is so thick you can make sacks out of it, and so clingy (these days) that your skin cannot move (?!), makes me feel claustrophobic. Add to it 40 degrees of Hyderabad heat and you are all set to roast yourself.

Plus, this trend of skinny jeans. It has killed that last bit of love I had for denim. And jeggings? Man, for someone who is unable to bear cotton leggings because of the proximity of fabric to skin, these jeggings are close to murder. About skinny jeans, ok atleast these look gorgeous – BUT ON PEOPLE WITH DEEPIKA PADUKONE LEGS ONLY FOLKS. I am sorry, this is a non-negotiable requirement, and I don’t know why anyone else would even try. Oh, in my case, they won’t go up – literally, they get stuck at calves, and even if I break my nails pulling them up, the knees are as far as they go. And then I chuck them and get into my ‘not so cool’ straight jeans, which by the way, not available anywhere anymore. What a pain.

So yep, I am contemplating changing my social media name. The blog, eh, too much of a hassle. But it is just not fair that I am called ‘The girl in blue jeans’ anymore. I am just not in jeans anymore.

And if anyone calls out the fact that at 36, maybe I am not so much of a ‘girl’ anymore either, you will be killed.