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Considering it is 13 years since I started my Corporate journey, it is only obvious that once in a while I stop to take stock of where I am headed. Mostly, this bout of contemplation ends abruptly, because the boss calls about an escalation that needs to be looked into. Or Zo calls about a word she did not understand in the book she’s reading. Or the Dude calls because he has something funny to show. You know, the usual. But quite clearly, I know the real answer. I have known it for a while. Nowhere.

I think I have written about it in the past. The fact that mid-life crisis has hit, and shouldn’t I be doing something I love because life’s so short, or is what I am doing worthwhile at all? So many questions. Nothing new, or different from what all the other people my age and stage in life are going through. Atleast most of them. Accepted, a few of them are thoroughly sorted, and to them, I salute. But most of us, are either in this jittery ‘where’s my life headed’ mode. Or they are in the ‘ignorance is bliss’ mode, which one can also call ‘too busy to notice the crisis’ mode.

I oscillate. The former feeling dominating my life more than the latter. But then, I wonder. Why did it take me so long to come to this realization? Did I really believe at any point that I’d be passionate about the work I do? I mean, I know I have to do it, I prepped for this for a good 7 years. And I do it fairly well (or so I’d like to believe). I definitely don’t mind it. But do I love this?

The culprit here, is this over-exposure to thoughts and ideas and people that we are all subjected to these days, in this world of too much information. Frankly, I always prided myself for being immune to the banes of social media. I mean, there was this point of time when people I knew were quitting Facebook because pictures of others’ vacations where making them depressed, and I laughed. I found it ridiculous. I believed, still do, that they should look at it for the pretti-ness it offered, take it all with a pinch of salt, and eventually just be inspired to plan something for yourself. Like I do. Simple, no? No.

Because, turns out, vacation pictures aren’t the only thing that you can envy. And while I hate to say it, I truly envy people who are able to pursue their passions and make the world pay them for it. Basically people, who love their job. Not like, not be content with, not excel at what they do. But truly, love  it. Like, I do my job because it is just amazing fun to do, and if given a choice I could do it all day. Because it gives me joy. Direct joy, not joy through the lavish lifestyle I can afford because it pays so well. Or joy, because everyone thinks I am amazing at it. Pure, direct happiness that I get from doing the thing I am doing. AND, I get paid for it.

And there are those folks who have a very high tolerance for risk. The ones that quit their Corporate job to start farming. The ones who moved to the mountains and are living the minimalist life and finding it wonderful. The ones who have decided they have had enough of the future and they would rather live in the present. Unfortunately, I am not one of those too. My heavily conservative, middle-class upbringing has always explained to me the relevance of being ‘financially independent’, planning for the future and being the ant in the story of the ant and the grasshopper. And it was all fine until the grasshoppers of the world started sharing amazing photographs from the wonderful places they were in week after week.

But like I said, these thoughts are relatively recent. Yes, agreed,  I have spent the last 3 years wondering whether I was where I wanted to be, whether I was doing what I wanted to do, whether I even knew what I wanted from life, but slowly, acceptance has been settling in. I have started to wonder ( I know, so much time to wonder I seem to have!) if it is even worth thinking so much about things that are so unclear. I mean, shouldn’t I first atleast know what I want to do with my life? Is the fact that this thing that I am doing right now might not be giving me the joy I look forward to, reason enough for me to stop doing it? Because what if I never find the thing I love doing?

So yes, I am choosing the easy way out. Of not making a choice, until it presents itself to me. Of not sitting and wondering if it ever will, maybe it won’t. Or maybe it will. Of not bothering that though I know that I’m not really headed anywhere,  there’s nothing much I can do about it.

Because maybe I don’t want to. Maybe, this is as good as it gets.

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Ready, set, Go(a)!

2018 officially started for me only yesterday. Which means that all the things people resolve to do (and I hope to) from the 1st of January, I pushed by a whole week. And funnily enough, the reason was this blog.

How you ask? Ok, even if you don’t, I’m here to tell you. So listen up.

One of the nicest side effects of entering the blogging world was the people I met – through comments yes, but mainly through our shared love for writing. And I met a lo-ot of people of course, over the years. When 2009 was ending, I moved my blog from Livejournal, where there URL was basically my name, to WordPress, to be relatively anonymous, if that was a thing. And then the big blogging boom happened.

All of a sudden, I was in midst of so many bloggers, so many comments and conversations, that if I think back, I wonder how I got anything else done at all. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I didn’t have anything else to do in fact. Posts would be published and then the comments would be checked every few minutes and responded to. Then the blogs of the commentators would be visited and the favor reciprocated. Basically, there was time, and we were spending it all on this new found world of like-minded people.

Ofcourse, some more like-minded than the others. And this is where I come to finally telling you the crux of the story. Of these many, many people that came and went – some stayed back for longer. They moved on from WordPress to being Facebook friends, to whatsapp friends, to friends who rushed over the day after Zo was born to see her in the hospital. To friends whose virtual Baby shower was planned and carried out with so much enthusiasm, that I am pretty sure no work was done in office on that day. To friends who you never met, but freely discussed parenting, working and life in general without the slightest hesitation.

Until last year, one of them said that we just had to meet up. There were excuses and there was un-sureness, and family holidays and kids to manage and companies to run, but somehow, after a number of dates getting vetoed – we finally managed to decide on weekend that worked for all. And again, after a lot of discussions about where we would meet up – a highly dependable and always-in-holiday-mode destination was finalized.

So in the first weekend of 2018 – Nu, Nuttie, Saga and I – put our respective lives on hold (well almost, yes Saga? ) and flew in from our respective cities to Goa, to spend an amazingly relaxing and refreshing 2 days. The time we spent together was full of eating and drinking and lounging and reading and massages and playing Taboo (this deserves a separate post), and mainly, a lot of talking. Which was both a surprise and a relief – because the number of times I had met each of them before, ranged between 0 and 3. But turns out that reading someone tells you a lot more about them than meeting them in person, or talking to them.

Because the year started on Monday, and we were leaving on Friday, much of my week was spent preparing for the trip and closing loose ends before I took a day off immediately after the official holiday season (Ahem. Not cool in the corporate world). There was hardly anytime to start anything, because everything could be done ‘after I came back from Goa’. And only when I came back to work on Monday morning this week, did reality finally hit.

Which is why I am extremely thankful and grateful to this blog. I might not be writing as often – heck the other three are not writing at all (cue to feel guilty and restart) – but this place brought me in touch with folks who I would have never met, never known otherwise. And I think that would have been a pretty big thing to miss out on. Plus, it helped me extend my new year high by one whole week.

So finally, Happy New Year folks. If the first week is anything to go by, I think I have a lot to look forward to.

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.

Inspired – Part Deux

One supremely uncool thing that is imminent repercussion of having blogged for close to 14 years now is the fact that I am forever repeating myself. It is uncanny, the way a post idea strikes me, and I am all ‘I’m going to write today people, watch out’ and then while I am actually writing the post, somewhere around 3rd or 4th line, I am like ‘Wait a minute, didn’t I read this before?’ And then a few more minutes and I am like ‘Oh My God, I totally wrote this before!’ And then I turn to faithful google, type my blog url along with a couple of keywords, and it very generously directs me to what I already know – or in this case, wrote.

Anyhow. My first thoughts in the new year have been around just how happy fresh starts make me – very much in line with what Preeks wrote here today, certifying me as an absolute victim of the Fresh start syndrome (it’s a thing guys, it’s actually a thing!). Only, I realise that for me, Fresh Start is a dynamic and situational concept. It doesn’t have to be a new week, a new day, my birthday or a special occasion. It is basically any moment that I come across something interesting and go – Oh wow! I should do that! Wait a minute, should I just go ahead and do that? 

This might happen anytime, on any day, sometimes more than once in a day.  Yes, sometimes, multiple opportunities for ‘fresh starts’ come and go and I sit put, refusing to lift a finger. But thanks to the multitude of things that I come across on Social Media, my life is ruled by the former instance. As I once wrote, I think I am forever inspired.

Is that a good thing? Does that mean that I go ahead and try out every damn thing everyone else is just because it seems interesting? Does it bother me that I am not doing as much as some others? Does it mean that I am easily swayed and have no clarity on what want to do?

Don’t know. No. Not really. Maybe?

What I definitely do feel is this sudden surge of energy pumping me up whenever I come across things that are awesome as per my definition. Like seeing photographs of people on a vacation, makes me whatsapp the Dude asking him if he has decided when he is going for his passport renewal. Or when I see someone’s dainty water color art (this is happening a lot these days), I immediately log on to Amazon to get myself a sketch book. And the most regular of the lot, when I see updates about 10 km runs by folks, I start mentally planning for when I would go for my workout, and feel extremely restless till I actually do it. Also, books. Following all these bibliophiles on Instagram makes me close my damn Instagram page and actually pick up a book.

The biggest plus? I don’t wait for a fresh start – for once assuming that every moment is one. So to answer my first question – maybe it is a good thing after all. Nothing of what I do is ever a resolution, new year or otherwise. It’s more like a want to experience. I also don’t kill myself for stopping any of it, after all I never resolved for anything long term, did I? I do it for as long as I want to, as long as time permits me too, and definitely, as long as it gives me happiness. No pressure.

So, keeping in line with every year till now, I have no New Year resolutions. I do however hope (not resolve, not promise), that I continue doing things that make me happy, bring me joy. And the rest will follow through. Hopefully.

But even for that, absolutely no pressure.

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.

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.

The arrival of Ramu Kaka

Apparently I have written 14 posts in 2017, as against 77 in 2016. Which I understand is not cool at all. But I had those blog marathons I picked up in Jan, and again in April to thank – those were a whopping 56 posts, that make feel proud (and ashamed, because of the pathetic numbers of 2017) of myself. Tsk, what a contradiction.

I have no clue why, but my stomach is constantly growling today, which is weird because I had a full breakfast of rotis and a cabbage-carrot-potato curry, which I picked up quite warily, but which, somehow worked. And there is still some time, approximately 2 hours to go before I embark upon my lunch of rotis (yes, again!) and okra curry. And I have to thank Ramu Kaka for this glorious improvement in my life – one where I eat my meals on time. Actually, make that one where I eat my meals.

I have terrible problem of not being able to eat alone. I mean, I love eating alone at home in front of the TV, or in hotel room, in front of the TV or a laptop streaming something nice. But at work, I cannot eat alone. Definitely not in a cafeteria which is full of pairs and groups of happy people stuffing their faces and laughing and joking and generally having a good time. And fortunately, all through my work life, barring a year and half back in 2007, I have always had amazing company for lunch. Mostly my team, who would accompany me to pick up whatever nonsense was served in the cafeteria and then talk absolutely useless stuff while I plodded my way through it.

But this stopped when I joined my current organisation. For two reasons – one most folks work from 2, so they finish their lunch and arrive. Two, I almost always have meetings during the general lunch hours, and these are not pre-scheduled meetings, so I cannot give a proper timeline to the folks around, about my availability. So basically no company for lunch – which eventually became no lunch. I know, bad me.

On good days, I would walk up to the 14th floor, and pick up stuff that I could carry back to my desk – a bowl of sprouts, a sandwich, a chocolate (I love my priorities) or a pack of cookies and eat it while I worked. This was helpful because I could clear my mails in this half hour, but was also bad because I was always available so I could be called away anytime, my half eaten stuff waiting for me to return. But, it was not a good thing, and definitely not a healthy thing to do. The only way I could have a good lunch at my desk was if I packed one, and hahaha, are you kidding me?

Then, 3 weeks ago, we moved to the new place. Someone shared the contact of a cook on the community’s whatsapp group, and on a whim I called. I spoke for maybe 5 minutes, and all of a sudden I had a full fledged cook who said he could start working for us the same week  – to cook what I had requested. And that’s how Ramu Kaka entered our lives. And my first thought was – what an original name.

To be honest, it is a bit unfair to call him kaka, because I am pretty sure he is younger to me, but Ramu goes so well with kaka that it would be unfair to let it go. Ramu kaka is from Jharkhand, and works in multiple houses in our society. The moment he entered the kitchen – with an exaggerated swagger, if I might add – he took charge like a pro. All you need to tell him is what needs to be cooked and he begins his brilliant multitasking – and is done within an hour. And we are left with a clean kitchen, vessels with the freshly made food, and delicious smells wafting through the kitchen.

Anyway, Ramu Kaka changed my world. From eating junk, to not eating, to conveniently forgetting to eat, I now carry a dabba to office. I have never been the dabba carrying kind, except for days when the mother was visiting and insisted on cooking through the day. And every day, before I leave, I hop into the kitchen, pick boxes from my collection of Tupperware which is all gifted by my mother thanks to her fascination towards storage material, and pack a lunch for myself and The Dude.

And I eat. The koftas and the rajma and the chole. The amazing kaddu curry – which I did not believe could be a reality, because hello, kaddu. I eat it all up. Still at my desk, but atleast I have a lunch. And I look forward to see what else he can cook – to which he has said ‘anything, just tell me what you want – if required google it.’

I am a bit wary about declaring the good things for the worry of jinxing it, but it will be unfair to vent out rants and not voice the gratitude. And this is just that.

For now, all hail Ramu kaka!