I’VE SPREAD MY WINGS THIS YEAR!!!

Sitting relaxed in your living room if you were to reflect on the past year, would you? It might sound a little uninteresting to start with but try it. Set aside half a day, cruise through your memory lane to unfold few events from the past year. For me, 2019 had many moments of beauty, grace, hope, and intrigue. I have made new friends and acquaintances. While I won’t say everything was silky smooth, there were points of low too.

As far as experiences go, this year I piloted a plane (:D) Yes, yes you read that right. Until the moment I was at the air force base, I had no idea if I would get a slot. I was super excited to be able to fly a plane. The number of controls in a flight cabin always seemed very confusing and overwhelming to me. The company I work for also manufactures jet engines, in fact, one of the world’s biggest manufacturer of engines that an AIRBUS 380 uses. There is an area in our office where an engine is set for display so that we employees can appreciate it. Every time I pass by that engine, I was amazed by how much engineering goes into designing one. That day, the feeling was amazing to understand the physics of flying the plane.

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As we approached the pilot training area, they welcomed us, took our details along with proofs and deep inside I had a feeling of excitement that I cannot put into words. Our pilot trainer Alstair explained all the controls which put me at ease. As I sat in the pilot seat with aviation headset on, a music started reverberating in my ears (this is played by my brain and not the headset :D). The runway was beside the sea and that made it all the more beautiful. As we were taxing on the runway, with the control in my hand, my heart was filled with enthusiasm and eager to fly off the land. As I pulled the control, the flight started gaining elevation. Watching the elevation go higher and higher was just the starting of the whole experience. The landscape down below was beautiful. Switching between land and the sea with mesmerizing views of the greenery below I wondered how pilots don’t get distracted while they are getting trained. Many times, you would have had the same feeling too while the flight takes off or lands on your travels, but the magnificent views from the cockpit are unbeatable.

Entire time I was in the air, drifting the plane from left to right, right to left, making rounds it felt unreal. The landing was smooth too. Alstair was really impressed with how well I handled the plane. If you are an adventure junkie like me, please do try flying a plane. You would definitely thank me after that :p.

Flying a plane was never on my bucket list. I always thought, we can apply for training paying some amount, but we have to dedicate few months. Maybe, I should thank Google for making the effort to popup this ad on one of my pages which lead me to trying this. While this was totally unplanned, I realised doing things unplanned also has to be a top priority. After all, life is all about adventure :D. Every new encounter, new task, new exploration leads to experiences which expand our thought process.

New experiences whether good or bad leave us with one very obvious choice, that is to learn something new. This is the main principle on which evolution happens as well. All species including humans learn at each and every step of our life. Do you remember how you learnt to ride a bicycle? The fear of not being able to balance the bicycle exists in all of us. The day we ride it without the training wheels, our mind expands to a new fear-free horizon. In a similar way, our experiences expand our thoughts. As we grow older, ie., with every new experience, our thought process changes for better. As the saying goes, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions”.

What did you experience in the past year that has blown your mind away? Please do leave your experiences in the comments. Make your bucket list for next year as “must-do’s” to spread your wings!!

ERUPT -X

Rex is really disturbed. He is tossing and turning on the bed. All he could hear is Reeta screaming while in the car. As such, what ever was coming in the media did not sound true. Ever since Reeta left, he is unable to take his mid of her. He switched on the Television and there she is all over the news. He didn’t know how to get in touch with Reeta. “It was my fault. I shouldn’t have called the police”, he thought to himself. He got out of the bed, took his car keys and started driving towards the city.

Reeta is furious and cursed herself for grabbing all the attention of the media. She was angry on Jay and is not at all willing to succumb to the pressure Jay is creating. “Does he think he can do whatever he wants? Never I am going to let that happen. Enough is enough, he needs to learn a lesson”, she thought to herself. She came up with a plan and seemed confident about it. In the morning, she had her breakfast along with Jay and she waited for him to leave. Jay is going to attend a pre-scheduled live Q&A session in the afternoon with reporters today. Supposedly this is about his win in the election and the future agenda.  As she saw Jay’s car departing out of the gate, she slipped out of the back entry without the guards noticing her.

She dressed up in a saree and used a scarf to cover her face. She had no money in hand, so the only way now she is left with is to walk all the way to the destination. She saw a police van approaching at a distance and her heart raced at the highest possible rate. She tried to stay calm. Slowly and steadily she kept moving ahead without them noticing her. The sun was harsh and the sweat rolling on her skin is aggravating the pain from the bruises. She literally had tears in her eyes and suddenly she felt as if she has no strength. She rested for a while and continued her walk. After four hours she is where she is wanted to be.

There were a lot of reporters waiting outside and some common people awaiting the entry. She cross checked all the security around and realized there is an area designated for citizens who came to witness the session. She sneaked through the security and entered the event area. The session is going to start in an hour. Everyone are waiting for Jay to arrive. As the convoy was entering the exhibition ground, people started to yell, clap and scream for him. There he was, Jay, stepping out of his car. As he was walking towards the crowd, he approached the place where citizens were standing and is waving hand at them. He had brief conversations with few of them and moved towards the dais.

Once, Jay was on the dais, his followers honored him with a big garland. Reeta really could not understand how blindfolded his followers are. She is mentally prepared for consequences and is waiting for an opportunity. Reporters started firing questions on the political front. Jay was happy that people grew over what happened yesterday night and thanked God for not allowing what his stupid wife did alter his career. He felt a little relieved with how people are receiving him. While he was answering those questions, Jay noticed something unusual in the crowd.  He had an unsettling feeling about what he just saw. He was scared if she was really here, what could happen. He hurriedly called one of his assistants, and asked him to check if Reeta is at home. The assistant made a call and confirmed that she is at home. (Reeta informed the maid that she wants to rest and not disturb her. Clever..) 

Reeta was in the crowd unaware of all these. She is slowly moving ahead towards the dais. People were moving haphazardly shouting out slogans. She also started saying those slogans drifting in the crowd. As she was approaching one of the reporters, she saw Rex. He was talking to another reporter. Reeta was puzzled with what Rex must be upto. Several questions were lingering in her mind – Has Rex joined hands with Jay? Is he plotting against her? Were Jay and Rex working together. Is that why Rex handed over her to the police? and so on.. She was totally confused. She turned around, starting walking away from the crowd. She needed a minute to sync in and then proceed with her plan.

As she was walking, a hand landed on her shoulder…  

DEEP WITHIN – IX

Punit wasn’t sure if he was ready to face his teammates. He kept wondering how this team was thinking of backstabbing him. He walked out of the dressing room and went straight to Mr.Sharma’s room. After 10 minutes he came out of the room and headed back home. His house is 20 kms from the academy, he started brisk walking, but slowly he increased the pace to a well paced jog and never stopped until he reached home.

Punit is feeling very angry. He isn’t sure what is causing his anger. He spent a couple of hours in his room without talking to anyone. Later on he joined his mom and dad at the dinner table.

“After a long time all of us are having dinner together. I wish this could happen more often.”, said Shobana.

“You are right. Sometimes while running the errands of life, we miss the essence of it. Spending time with you both is as important”, replied Vikram.

Vikram: Punit, How is the practice going on?

Punit: It is going okay papa(father).

Vikram: Physical fitness before the tournament is really very important. Hope you are encouraging all the team to be more active on the ground.

Punit: Sharma sir made us do rounds in the morning.

Vikram: That’s good. Have you guys finalized the order of batsmen? Of course, you and Aman must be the opening pair.

Punit: Not yet papa. Only we both are confirmed. We haven’t discussed any details yet.

Vikram: Why not? Today this should have been discussed. Everyone should be well aware of their on field role. It is less than two weeks left for the tournament.

Punit: Okay papa.

Vikram: You are the captain. Have a word with Mr.Sharma tomorrow regarding this.

Punit left the dining hall without uttering a word, went straight to his room and closed the door. Vikram and Shobana looked at each other puzzled. Shobana couldn’t resist from requesting Punit to finish his dinner. She knocked on the door, “Punit, please come and have dinner. What is wrong? What ever it is you can talk to us. Open the door first”

Punit opened the door. His eyes are red, filled with water. “Everyone in the team thinks I am the culprit. What did I do mom? Maybe, I know what I did wrong. I requested you to make papa influence others. This is why they are seeing me as villain”, said Punit sobbing. 

Vikram was quick to respond, “Punit, Punit.. Stop crying. I have not talked or tried to influence anyone beta(son). Yes, definitely you asked me to, but I did not. Trust me”

“True papa, but you did not stop the team from voting for me either. I spoke to Sharma sir today. I got to know that I am not even an option for captaincy. The only reason I could have ended up being captain because people voted for me. Until I overheard the conversation in the dressing room, I thought I was chosen as I was capable. Papa, I wanted to be the captain, but not when others don’t have trust in me. My thoughts were clouded by my ego when I asked you to influence. I at least thought I would be the second recommendation to Aman. Papa, this is hurting me more than I thought it would. How can I be leading the team, when they themselves don’t believe in my ability. They were conspiring on loosing so that my inability to be the team gets evident to the board”, Punit spit out what’s bothering him. 

Vikram was awfully silent. All the while he has been thinking of how he should correct Punit. The problem is not Punit alone. He himself had so many mistakes, he should have stopped Punit from being the captain. He never thought, that could hurt Punit even more if he had to face the revolt. 

Meanwhile Aman was in deep thought on how the team got influenced by just one person’s idea. This also means many are not okay with Punit being the captain. The team is mentally fragile and the probability to loose focus is higher. This cannot be healthy at all. May be it is better to bring this to the notice of Sharma Sir, but what if the whole team then becomes against me? 

Maybe, one more good option could be to talk with the team again. I  don’t have a problem with Punit being captain, but if the team is not comfortable with it, they should be given a fair chance to express that. On behalf of the team, I can then talk with Sharma sir. This seems better. Consensus of every one in the team is very important. Tomorrow first thing in the morning, I will talk with the team.

The next day …. 

Everyone was in the dressing room getting ready for the practice session. Punit entered the room which resulted in a slight murmur from others. “Team, I would like to apologize for my behavior in the previous months. I was not in the best of my time, and also feel the need to mold myself to best suit our team”, said Punit. There was a knock on the door, and the entire room was surprised with who was standing at the door. 

DEEP WITHIN – V

Mr. Vikram stared at Mr. Sharma eye to eye. He stood up from the chair and walked out of the conference room.

Shobhna recollected herself, but she could not agree with how Vikram is questioning her abilities to perform the duties as a mother. She is worried about Punit. He is at a delicate age where he needs guidance. Vikram keeps himself always busy, so, expecting that he might be able to be that “friend” Punit needs now did not sound right. “Should I really consider quitting my job? Is Punit behaving this way because either of us were not able to give him time? Is it all my fault?” – breaking her thoughts, the phone rang. She answered the phone, but before she could speak, Punit bang opened the door and rushed to her.

In an authoritative voice he said, “Mom, what you said makes no sense. I am Punit Shah, son of the Vikram Shah. Till date I have never enjoyed being his son at the Academy. Dad always treated me in similar way he treated others. I do not even take the liberty to call him ‘Dad’ in meetings, he is always ‘Vikram Sir’. When Dad started his career, was he not supported by anyone? Did he grew his empire all on his own? Mom, being in this sports Academy for a few years now, I can assure you it is not easy to fight all those internal politics and become successful. Now, it is my turn to outplay these politics”

Shobhna asked Punit, “What politics are you talking about?”

These politics where they did not choose me as Captain because I am the son of one of the directors in the board. I don’t think I am incompetent compared to Aman. I am a well established and successful batsman like him. I have also demonstrated leadership skills whenever there was a need. Of course, I did fail at times but those are lessons. Aren’t they? I want this captaincy Mom and that’t it. Please talk to dad and request him to influence others“, Punit said in a requesting voice this time, tears rolling down his cheeks and fled out of the house.

It was Mr. Vikram on the other side of the phone call, but the call got disconnected. Shobhna tried calling him back but there was no response. Mr. Vikram had wet eyes after listening to what his son had expressed. He composed himself and started walking back to the conference hall.

Meanwhile, in the conference room, Sharma was clueless of what was happening. More than 10 minutes have passed by and it was pin drop silence in the room. While Sharma was still contemplating whether to speak or not, Anjali, one of the members shot a question at him, “Mr.Sharma, You must have done all the analysis, before you made this proposal. Are you really confident that Aman would be able to handle the team considering he may be opposed by some of the team members as the captain?“. Some others nodded in agreement. Sharma understood the deeper meaning of Mrs. Anjali’s question, she was inferring that Punit may not co-operate. Well, Sharma was aware of that, but he has not really thought of how to deal with that yet.

The conference room door swung open and it was Mr. Vikram Shah. Without noticing this Sharma continued, “I understand the concern, but we cannot put future of this team in the upcoming series at risk because we fear some of our players may not agree. Aman is more composed and stays calm when making decisions on the field. Also, he is well respected and has good relations with many team members. He also understands the nuances and weaknesses of opposition players. He is very good at observing the on field strategies of other players and acts accordingly. He is exactly what we need now”.

Who is your second recommendation?“, asked Shah from behind. Sharma startled a bit before answering, “Mithun“.

Shah: So, you think these are the only two competent players for captaincy?

Sharma: Yes, Sir.

Shah: You also think these players are going to uplift spirit in the team and have better chances in the tournament with this change?

Sharma: I am positive Sir

Shah: Good, then, let’s vote for the best candidate.

Sharma: Sir, you have not read the complete proposal

Shah: Is there something I should know before I can vote?

Sharma: Sir, Sir …. (murmuring)

Shah: Let’s vote

After going round the table, most of the panel voted for Punit as the new captain. Everyone clapped for the new captain which ended the meeting.

Shah: Mr.Sharma, I trust your decision making. I walked out of the room because, a part of me was blaming the father in me. Maybe, I completely failed to teach Punit about the importance of hard work and putting forward a fight for what we want. Nothing comes easy in life, Punit should learn that. I am glad you’ve put the future of our team as the top priority. Thank you!

Mr. Vikram returned Shobhna’s call, “I am coming home in half an hour. Can we talk?

THE ONLY PLACE IN THE WORLD WHERE WE WANT THINGS TO BE NEGATIVE…

During my childhood, the hospital was almost like my second home. I never had fear for hospitals, nor I am scared of visiting one. I have good memories associated with hospitals. As an 8-year-old girl, I used to go alone to take my vaccination. Of course, my parents used to be waiting outside the room, as I always insisted on going through the process of injections alone. For almost 3 years in a row, when I was 12, I had typhoid. Trust me when I say this, I always had the most severe attacks of typhoid. Even a spoonful of water intake resulted in vomiting. So, I had 3 weeks of hospitalization once, and I still remember how I used to enjoy my stay there. My parents were working full time in an organization that also owned hospitals for employees. They have to go to work ( I understand that), and I had so much fun with the hospital staff. Hours of time on IV fluids restricted to bed, refusing to eat the deadly idly (that is south Indian comfort food), reading my school books to pass the time in the night – Ah, lot of memories.

Recently my visits to the hospital have become very frequent. I am on diagnosis for symptoms that are pointing towards a weak heart. It all started 3 years ago, during a trek, when I experienced a very high heart rate. Not that I was climbing too fast, but I had discomfort breathing. As always, I thought I may have been too tired, or as my body is not adapted to exercise for some time then, maybe it wasn’t able to cope up climbing the height. This happened two more times, and that’s the much-needed alarm to schedule an appointment. Echocardiograms and blood tests showed PAH (Pulmonary Artery Hypertension), and that is something that won’t show up on the Blood Pressure readings. It is almost a year, I am going through several tests that really have not given conclusive results. I have lapses of dizziness, shortness of breath, and pain – so, there are symptoms. Doctors say I have a weak heart ( I wonder how ??) and should be careful. There are no blocks as such, but I am on the higher side of the risk factors of my heart giving up. Does that scare me? Of course. Who wants to die early? But, the bright side of it is I am aware of the shortcomings of my heart. All the diagnosis is only possible because there are hospitals.

Okay, so that’s about diagnosis what about emergencies? Few months back, I had very severe pain in the abdomen while I was at work. Post lunch I started having sharp pain in the right side, which was only increasing exponentially. By the time I reached home, I felt so weak, helpless and my whole body started sweating. I was out of energy when the cab arrived. The cab driver was very supportive to leave me till the emergency section. The pain was so excruciating that I could not even lay on the bed in one position. I suspected it might be appendicitis, but the pain was too much to bear. After several rounds of pain killers and my screams in the emergency room, the pain subsided 7 hours later. Until then the doctors could not perform CT because I am unable to stay still. An hour later, I underwent CT and ultrasound, which depicted a stone in the kidney. When I was going through this trauma, I had no idea whom to talk to. The nurses were very caring and supportive. Maybe, I should write a dedicated article describing how scared I was. I was in so much fear until I knew what the problem was. The only relief was I am in the hospital and for anything that happens there are doctors around. So, for emergencies also, we are helpless but to visit a hospital. 

The very word ‘hospital’ scares a lot of people, but I feel that is the place that gives us solace. Hospital is not always for bad. How many mothers go for birthing to live those happy moments holding their newborn. How many families feel relieved when they get to know their loved ones are completely healthy when they suspected something wasn’t right. How many people with chronic illnesses are getting better only with the help of hospitals? We are scared because of what’s happening in our bodies. We are scared when we are unaware of what it is. We are scared to learn something that may not be right, but hospitals are the go-to places to recover. I have massive respect towards doctors, lab technicians, the nurses, and, most importantly,  researchers who are in the constant quest to understand human anatomy. Without them, the hospital would have been a really scary place to be.

DO NOT BE BURDENED BY INSECURITIES

In life, we come across so many people. Some people are unique in a good way, and some in not so good way. In one of my recent trips, I came across one such girl, named Bhavya. On the positive, she is very bubbly, fun, and talks a lot. Like way too much of talking, she cannot stay silent for a couple of minutes. Every day, before we start our day’s venture, she would hold 2 – 3 options for outfits she wants us to choose from. Every choice a person makes, she would find some way in which that would not make her look beautiful. This dress is too dull, the sleeve is too long, the color is not suitable for today’s weather and whatnot. Initially, I thought she is indecisive. To be indecisive is a small problem, but sooner I realized she is looking for acceptance from others. After two days, as our group became more close, she started asking many more opinions of others. Literally regarding everything, including what she should order to eat. After a certain point in time, I wondered how she would live if she were on all her own.

We were more girls on the trip than boys. Bhavya was actively looking out for a partner. So, every good looking boy she sees, she would turn around to me and ask, “What do you feel about him? Is he good looking?“. Once or twice wouldn’t have been so irritating to me, but after 10 times in half an hour, I responded with a little bit of a serious face, “You are asking a wrong person. I came all the way here to sync in the beauy of the place and culture rather than invest my time in validating whether someone is good looking or not. Moreover, if you are the one who is going to ask him out, your opinion is what matters, not mine”. As you can imagine, this triggered Bhavya’s anger. She did not talk with me that day but wished me at the next day’s breakfast table. I returned her wish and smiled in response. I thought things would get back to normal, but they didn’t.

She continued to ask questions as is, so there was no effect on her to what I said. Instead, there was an addition to every question of hers, “Don’t judge me ok”. So, now the question would be, “Ok, now, please don’t judge me. Tell me which ice cream do you think I should try??”. I was literally feeling like, “Oh God!! Please let go of me Bhavya” but I could not say that out. Finally I am the one who is judgemental 🙂 There were two other girls who tried to explain to her how she is being too naive and looking for other’s approval to do things. There were a few who literally judged her that she is too negative and indecisive.

I believe she is thinking in negative ways, or double-checking all her choices because she is insecure. Insecurity breeds a lot of negativity in a person. Such people always think like Bhavya. They are not confident enough because they presume others are going to criticize or make fun of them if the choice turns out to be the wrong one. They would constantly look for approval, be nice to others. They want to be liked. They literally strive to make a place. Insecurity does not enter a person always because of fear. Sometimes, it might have developed purely because of others, how people would have treated them. They might have heard phrases like, ” You are not beautiful“, “you look so fat”, “you are a loser”, “you cannot accomplish anything in life” and took them to their heart. Because of such treatment from others, they constantly cannot stop thinking what others would think of them. Living with insecurity is like a cursed life.

Insecurity can change a person’s thought process upside down if it is not addressed. If you encounter such people who are seeking for approval, fill confidence in them. Tell them, the only person who needs to approve is, they themselves. Making a wrong choice is absolutely ok and that’s how we learn. As kids, we fall and rise on our own. Facing the critics is something similar. Not everyone is going to like us as we are, sometimes they may not like us even if we change ourselves but that is absolutely fine too. In this case, the person who is criticizing is the one who needs to be treated because his/her criticism has crossed boundaries to cause insecurity in many others. The first and foremost way to deal with insecurity is not to feel secure but to have the strength to tolerate insecurity.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

COULD IT HAVE BEEN ANY BETTER?

Many of us may be content and happy about how our life is today but if we look back and can change something, we would certainly have more than one thing to change. Though we don’t regret what has happened, there is nothing wrong in introspecting to make our future better.

When it comes to my life, without a doubt what I would want to change is how I dealt with people and feelings associated with them. Quite a few things that are usually obvious for others were not so for me. A lack of understanding of people has let me down many times. Someone told me, “It is easy even for a fool to fool you. All they have to do is smile“. This came from an acquaintance and has disturbed me for quite some time now. That’s because the statement is true. But how?

I am sure all of you have friends. During our schooling, university, at work place and even in the neighborhood we make friends. Some of them grow up to become acquaintances and others become best friends. When we are moving from one phase of life to another, our friends change and so are our expectations from them. Sometimes we outgrow our friends and other times our friends outgrow us. In this process, our friends can make us better or worse. As the interests are growing apart, it is important to assess if we can still be friends with that person. May be we jelled well earlier, but at that point of time, we should ask ourselves if this is the person who we would want to be associated with. The answer might turn out to be “no” for some and we should let go of them. Often we don’t do this essential assessment and end up with emotional baggage. There is absolutely no need to maintain friends that can be harmful to us in the future. I never really did this in my life. I always had few friends and every time the distances grew it has only left me devastated.

The second thing I would have done differently would be to open up myself for the world more than I did. My parents were very protective. They would allow me to do certain things on my own like applying for passport or opening a bank account but they would always drop me till the doorstep of the office. I never used went out with friends or movies etc. This continued even after I got a job because I felt this how it is in the world. Even when my cousins who are younger than me bought their own vehicles, I thought a two wheeler is unnecessary even when I could afford it. Are you thinking what’s the big deal? I have not learnt the importance of having independence. If we are always dependent on others to commute, go out and do something, we loose our individuality. Also, this might create fear in some people to do things alone. What helped me here was I started travelling alone. At first, I was really very scared. Fortunately I found a good travel group. This does not in any way mean I have not had hiccups. Someone misbehaved on a trip, has unpleasant experiences travelling solo but, how soon I overcame those was really surprising. Few years ago the same would have stolen my sleep for a few days. Now, I have a better understanding of what trivial situations I should not loose my sleep over. Few days ago, my dad said, “You have been travelling quite a lot. Why don’t you stop now?”. “I started travelling just now, there are so many countries and so many places. I don’t know how much I can cover in this life” was my response. My dad was not expecting that answer from me. But girls, trust me, the confidence in you is the strength to your family. Tomorrow if you run into some trouble, your family should be confident that you would be able to deal with it. Parents, request for you, do let your kids spread their wings. There is no great teacher than life.

Slowly and steadily I am trying to grow and learn from life. It has been tough and it is only going to be tougher. Sure, we cannot change our past but with constant introspection into our own self, accepting our mistakes, learnings from our elders we would be able to traverse through life with ease and certainly carve our future. Hopefully, the small changes I am making would make my life better. Is there anything you would want to change? If so, what is that?