WISH I COULD TRAVEL BACK IN TIME…

Oh How I wish I could travel back in time. There are thousands of things I would like to erase or change. I would erase all the embarrassing moments of my life or the bloopers I committed. I would change all the reasons because of which I got scolding from my parents or teachers. Ha Ha !! If I could go back and tell my younger self the things I learnt the hard way, life would be so much more sorted… But these are only wishes. And maybe then I would have missed out on the experience of growing up. 

But then we all have regrets in our hearts and always wish we were given a chance to undo it. I can also think of a few things. 

I was a very happy go lucky kind of child. Never took my studies quite seriously. In my primary school years I was in the top ten in class but by the time I touched secondary section there were many distractions. And I somehow lost that competitive spirit. I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self how important it is to get a cutting edge degree or a professional degree. And how a plain vanilla B.Sc. doesn’t take you too far. It’s not that I didn’t have the capability, at least l like to believe that I had. Its only that I was not inclined to work hard, didn’t have a goal in mind. I just went with the flow. School, then graduation, then marriage… Everything just happened. It was like my boat was just floating with the current I didn’t even try to steer it. This regret is always there in one corner of my mind. 

As far as my relationships are concerned there is one more thing I wish I could change. When I was in my early twenties I had my sister and two cousins living with us. I was an elder sister to all three of them. The go to person for them. I used to be their agony aunt their problem solver and their shield when we faced the parental ire. I really miss those days, the camaraderie we shared and the fun we had. My friends were by default their friends too. And we were a big happy gang of girls. 

When I got married and shifted to Mumbai I suddenly plunged into a brand new world, a new city, new family, married life. I got so immersed in my life I think I suddenly left them in the lurch. Those were the days of STD calls and rationed talk time, no mobiles to keep in touch with my family. My parents probably understood but my gang of girls deteriorated. There was a rift between the three of them (Two on one side and the third one on the other side. My sister moved to a hostel for her engineering studies I think that was the time she must have felt the most lonely and needed someone to talk to and I was busy building a new life. To this day  regret that phase of my life. I did not even realize the chasm that was created between me and her till it was too late. I just hope she doesn’t carry any bitterness in her heart even now. If I could just re live those 4-5 years of my life I would not let my baby sister feel abandoned ever. I was so intent on creating new relations I took the ones I already had for granted. 

But these are only wishes. Alas time travel is not possible yet. Anyways even if it were possible things would become too complicated if we try to go back and change things. We just have to learn to accept our mistakes and move on and try to be a better person than we were..

Google gave me an apt quote for my state of mind

“We don’t regret the things we have done. We just regret the things we didn’t do when we had a change.”

Advertisements

IS THERE SOMETHING CALLED OVER-COMMITMENT?

Is there something called Over Commitment?

The word commitment is used in many contexts. The most common context is commitment (or lack of it) in a relationship. This aspect has been discussed at length in the previous articles so I won’t venture there at all.

My take is a little different.

What is a commitment?

I asked Google and this is the first meaning Google threw up:

Commitment – the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.

For me, commitment is a promise or obligation that you give to someone or some cause that you will support them. You may be committing your time or money or emotions or freedom or maybe something else.

Lack of commitment may be one problem people face. But for me, it’s the other end of the spectrum where I get stuck with Over Commitment

Imagine a child roaming freely in a huge toy shop. He has been told that he can pick up and play with any toy. He is so excited he picks up one toy and then sees another interesting toy, leaves the first one and goes to the second and then third and so on. He is not able to play properly with any of it. On most of the days, that’s me.

I am so prone to over-committing. A friend will call me for some help I will agree. Then the society will have some function and request me to volunteer and I will agree. My family will make some plans and I won’t be able to say no. Children need help with homework or need to picked up or dropped somewhere, of course, I have to do. Then there is the regular work of the office, kitchen, etc. Eventually, what happens, I run around a lot trying to meet all my commitments and end up not giving my 💯% to any of my commitments. Later on, I carry regret that I could have done a better job if I had more time. When I promise it’s all with genuine feelings of commitment, I don’t mean to do the job half-heartedly. But sometimes (not always) it happens.

I am putting in a conscious effort to improve. And now trying to follow the mantra that – commit only as much as you can deliver. A lot of people around you need you. Prioritize, Distribute and then Commit. And learn to say ‘NO, where you know that you won’t be able to give your 💯%.

Remember! Over-commitment brings about somewhat similar results as lack of commitment.

SEEING THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY

I was never a writer… I never thought I could write something that would interest others. It is thanks to two very important people in my life that I got into writing. 

Let’s begin from the starting…

As a kid I loved stories. My Dad used to buy so many books for me from book exhibitions. I had a great collection and I used to love reading and rereading them. My storybooks were my prized possessions. There were a lot of  Russian book exhibitions in our area so my collection had a great many stories of Czars and Czarinas. Whenever I read a story I always visualised it – the room, the ambiance, the characters, etc, I always formed a mental picture of the whole thing. This craze for books spilled over to my adolescence also. From Famous Five, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys to Mills and Boons to Sydney Sheldon, Danielle Steele I guess my affair with books was lifelong. 

Coming back to the point, throughout this journey I never felt the urge to write. I was quite happy reading what others were churning out. My sister Prabhjot was actively writing for Candles Online. I don’t know what spark she saw in me and proposed my name to Chiradeep. But it was only due to the coaxing and guidance and patience and perseverance of Chiradeep and Prabhjot that I became a blogger. They both saw something in me that I myself didn’t.

Writing changed my life in many many ways. I was very bogged down by the daily mundane chores of my life. Life was just routine and not exciting. Writing for Candles changed that. Just the fact that the people were reading what I wrote and commenting on it was exhilarating. The small little limelight that was shown on me boosted my confidence a great deal. 

Writing an article is never easy for me. I usually plan everything out in my mind and then start typing. Some days it easily flows and some days I get stuck at every word. But it’s a journey which is very fulfilling. It’s an outlet for my emotions. Because of my love for stories I use a lot of anecdotes for my articles. And the inspiration for these articles comes from people around me and my interactions with them. I have started looking at the world from a different perspective. After all, anything or anybody or any incident could be an inspiration for my next article. There is a story in every person I meet I just try to weave them into my articles and my thought process.

THE ROAD AHEAD

This is a very intriguing picture and I like to call it “The Road Ahead…”. One look at it and I felt this depicts life. Our journey through life and our future – the journey into the unknown…

 “The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say” 

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

 

(Image Credit – Pixabay.com)

There are two ways to look at this picture. One could be the gloomy lookout. I sit in my room overwhelmed with all the problems I am facing, feeling depressed and thinking about my future. When I look at this picture I feel this aptly depicts my future. The sky is overcast with dark and ominous looking clouds. I can barely see the path I am treading yet I am zooming ahead full speed. Scared of what is in store for me. Wondering if the clouds will ever dissipate and allow sunshine into my life.

And the second outlook would be again looking at my future. But this time I am full of enthusiasm. This time I see these clouds as full of promise. The promise that the first clouds of monsoon bring to us. The promise of rains – the rains that bring us prosperity and abundance and hope that makes us zoom towards that future.

My mood changes my interpretation but one thing is for sure. I think there is a reason why God allows us to see only a little bit ahead of us and keeps the future hidden. This keeps our hopes alive and makes us strive for a better future.

As I wrote in an earlier article also. Hope makes the world go round…

A WOMAN WRITTEN IN MYSTERY IS WORTH A CURIOSITY TRIP

Since I became a part of the Candles family, I have come to know each and every writer in this family through their writing. Except a few, I haven’t met any of them personally.  Reading the articles written by them gives me an insight into their lives. Usually, their writings are a small window into their minds, the thoughts, and experiences that have shaped them and made them what they are today.

One of my favourite writers in this group is Aastha. Her formal introduction on WordPress goes this way “I am a techie by profession, beginner in writing. Writing for me is the lone time for dwelling through my inner self. I try to be honest and express my true feelings through my writings.”

Well, I don’t agree with the beginner part of it. Her writings have the depth of a seasoned writer. But I do agree with the second line that writing for her is dwelling through her inner self.

I perceive Aastha as a beautiful demure girl. But when I read her articles they seem to be saying – “Be aware… I’m demure but my pen is not…”. This is my endeavour to understand her a bit more through her pen.

Aastha, The family person: I love the way that she has portrayed her bond with her family  – her sister, her parents. The articles like “In an envelope… “, “It’s relaxing and rejuvenating…“, “It is the only doorway to understand someone…” and Imposed pressure to stay strong” give us a peek into her childhood and her khatti-meethi relationship with her sister while growing up, the influence of her parents.

Aastha, the storyteller: Either she has a lot of friends, or she is the type of person in whom people confide easily. Or she is a very good storyteller. Either way that’s what makes her writing appealing. You know for me long and preachy articles with only advice don’t work. An article is interesting when it’s anecdotal. And she gets it bang on with articles like “Wrong decisions or wrong perception” which is the story of Nidhi and her disastrous marriage. Another one is “Use freedom in the best possible way” gives us an account of Ujwala and how she misuses her freedom. Or another very readable article is her counselling talks with Akshay “Holding each other“. Or the virtual relationship of Isha and Kartik so remarkably described in “A Virtual Blessing in disguise“. It’s surprising how she puts across her point without making it sound like a lecture.

The emotional, honest and strong Aastha: After reading her writings I have a distinct feeling that she has experienced a lot of ups and downs in her life. And I am so glad she finds solace in writing and shares her innermost thoughts with us readers. “She is a walking miracle” the story of her sister’s birth who was born with a birth defect and how the whole family coped with it will surely provide a lot of comfort and support to people going through similar circumstances. Another one is her own conversation with her doctor about her being so stressed that she could not even cry – “Sometimes a good cry can cure what a good laugh can’t“. “Ripple effect of Suicide” is a story of her friend Siddhu who committed suicide. I don’t know how you do it Aastha but you bare your heart in your articles and they sure do touch the reader’s hearts.

The funny bone is also very visible in the amusing description of an embarrassing moment (“That awkward moment when…”)

One of her best articles is when she shows her most vulnerable side and explains her feelings of loneliness “Maybe someday I’ll come home to a pair of compassionate eyes“.

Whether or not you understand more about fighting your inner demons and overcoming them in “Adding colour to life is in our hands when personal and professional lives collide” or you empathize with her strength and physical resolve in “The secret behind me being disciplined“, I am sure you will appreciate her honesty in accepting her shortcomings and conquering them in “The journey of finding myself in my own backyard“.

The Knowledge giver Aastha: Not all articles are emotional there are well researched and knowledgeable ones like “Secret sauce to effective education…” about the education system in Finland. Another informative one on her hobby gardening is “In the solitude of trees“.

I can just keep writing on and on. I hope I have been able to decode the real Aastha at least a little bit.  If not, I will just sum it up in her words. In a reply to a question in the face to face section (“I am in the spotlight – Aastha“), this is what she said…

What is the one thing you desire to do during your lifetime?

“There is a strong craving in me to be loved and be understood at a deeper level. It would take another person who really wants to look into me, which is not in my hands. So, meanwhile what is that I can do??? One day, I aspire to be a torchbearer for a change, a positive change that would make this world a better place. I am working on it.”

Hoping it turns out so!

(Dedicated to @aastharao)

THE DAY MUMBAI WENT UNDER WATER

Flooding is not new to Mumbai. Every year when the monsoon hits the shores of Mumbai there are at least a couple of days when things come to a standstill. All roads in the low lying areas like Gandhi Market, King Circle, Hind Mata are flooded and tracks are flooded so the trains either have completely stopped or are moving at snail’s pace. We the people of Mumbai (or Mumbaikars as we like to call ourselves) have learnt to take it (among other things) in our stride. If it’s raining very heavily The children will get a day or two off from school as a rainy day. Office goers will leave the office early so that they reach home safely. Or if they have an option they will work from home. That’s it! It’s life as usual!

That’s the reason maybe we were so unprepared for the day when almost the whole of Mumbai went under water. Here I tell you the story of what I faced during the Mumbai floods. I have tried to keep the mood a little light but that doesn’t mean I want to trivialise the devastating effects of the floods. I am just trying to show the disbelief that we had in accepting that it can happen to Mumbai.

It was the July of 2005, 26th July to be precise. The day started as usual. I and my husband both left for office. My mother in law and my 2-year-old son were at home. I was 7 months pregnant at that time. My friends used to tease me that I looked like a baby elephant because of my bloated looks and my funny walk. But I was working and continued to work till the end of the 9th month. I actually enjoyed all the pampering I used to get from my colleagues. Coming back to July 26th.

It was raining heavily and incessantly since morning. Nothing alarming about it. There was a warning of High Tide also. Till lunch time it was work as usual after that we started hearing murmurs of flooding. We still thought that our areas never get flooded. It’s a problem for only the people who stay in low lying areas. But suddenly by 3 pm, it was announced that the office buses are leaving. We were glad for an early day off and went in the sat in the buses. It was only when the bus left the campus and reached the highway that we realised something was seriously wrong. The road was like a flowing river. At one point under the flyover, our bus was caught in swirling waters. Water on the road was so high that it was covering almost all of its tyres. The bus swayed as it moved through the water. After a lot of struggle on part of the engine and the driver, we finally came out of it and on to the next flyover. But the poor government bus engine had only this much life in it and it conked off. Still, no issues the highway ahead of us didn’t have much waterlogging. And we thought we had left the worse behind thinking that we will keep walking towards Navi Mumbai and we will take the lift from the vehicles coming and reach home.

All the vehicles coming from Mumbai were completely full people were hanging from the doors and sitting on the roof. With no chance of getting any lift we kept walking, a group of 10-12 people we walked around 10 km on the highway that day. Yes me too with my big belly! The distance which looked so short when travelling by car felt endless to us. No mobile network too. Once when I got network on my mobile there were more than 30 missed calls from my husband. He was so worried about me. I could relay to him that I was safe but still far from home.

When we left the highway and turned into Navi Mumbai I stared at the road ahead of us in complete disbelief. Our myth that this part of the city never got flooded was shattered. The road was completely submerged.  Only the top of the divider was visible. We all formed human chains and walked on the divider. One glimmer of hope came when we saw that buses were still leaving from Vashi depot. But one bus and there are hundreds of passengers scrambling to get on it. At this point of time, I can only praise the ladies accompanying me. They shouted on the top of their voice that there is a pregnant woman (me!) with us and made through the throng of people. They managed to get me a seat also on the bus.

As the bus moved through the bylanes of Vashi we saw to our horror half-submerged cars they seemed like floating on water. The bus was actually creating waves in the road and tearing through the water. On reaching my lane I was alone walking in the middle of the road as the water was least there. At the end of the lane was a stormwater drain. The water flow was so high that I felt that if I slip and fall I will be dragged into the drain. I called out to the watchman of our building to come out and help me cross the road. He held my hand and we waded through the water and I finally entered my building.  

It was midnight by the time I reached home. I was dead tired and my two year old had cried himself to sleep before I reached. But I must say I was much better off.

My husband waded through waist-deep water for 2-3 km. And reached home only the next day. Some places were so badly flooded that the whole houses were submerged. There was a colleague whose house was filled with water till the ceiling fan. The clothes, electronics, furniture etc were all rendered completely useless as the water was very dirty and filthy. Another friend of mine told us how they walked on the roof of parked cars to directly enter the upper floors of their house. People told stories of how water started bubbling up from the drains in the bathroom and flooding the house.

At least we lived to tell our tales. The official death toll of that day is 1094. Some people got sucked into the stormwater drains. Some died trapped in their car. This is a particularly sad story. When the water level started rising on the roads many people thought that they were safer in the car. But when the water rose further the central locking system got submerged into the water and stopped working, they got locked inside the car. And then the pressure of water was so high outside that they couldn’t open the doors manually too and were trapped inside and lost their life. This shows how unprepared we Mumbaikars were, how we took it lightly at first. They must have thought that they will wait it out in the car for waters to recede. Never thought that it was a life-threatening situation.

Of course, there are many other stories of how Mumbaikars helped each other. And how the famous resilient spirit of Mumbaikars helped the city limp back to normalcy.

But what we saw that night was unbelievable. The whole city was submerged in water. And the first reaction of everyone was disbelief. How can it happen to our Mumbai? But it did and you know why? First and foremost is the combination of incessant rains and high tide. And secondly, the British era drainage systems which are taking a load of a city growing uncontrollably and destruction of mangroves that used to work as a barrier to stop water from coming in. The sea reversed the flow of the very same drains that threw sewage into the sea and brought the water on to our roads and inside our houses. It was natures warning to us.

A ROOM IN MY HOUSE THAT I CALL MY OWN

There is no place like home. It’s our sanctuary, a safe haven, a place where we feel tranquil, away from the hustle bustle of the day to day life. It is a place where we can reflect on life. Have you noticed that in the house there is always a corner or a place or a room which becomes our favourite? We want to spend our free time there. My house is full of such corners. Each member of the family has a favourite place.

Let’s start with the youngest in the family. Most of his free time my younger son can be seen sitting on a chair next to the computer table in one corner of my room, eyes glued to the computer screen, a window by his side with cool the breeze coming in and he is immersed in the make-believe world of the computer games. His favourite songs playing on the computer. If he is allowed he will do his homework there, have his food also sitting there and spend all waking hours there. Of course, he is not allowed to do that but I can safely declare that as his favourite corner in the house.

For my elder son, it’s the couch in the living room. With his legs propped up on the divan and a book or at times mobile phone in his hand and earphones plugged in he looks like a crocodile relaxing in the sun. He loves this place so much that if you take a look at my sofa you will see the difference, this particular couch shows more signs of wear and tear as compared to the others in the same set. 

My hubby is either tapping away on the laptop at the table or relaxing on the divan in the living room. I wonder how he finds it so comfortable. He is taller than the divan’s length and his legs dangle out but that is his favourite place to relax. I keep telling him that we have bigger beds in the house to relax but all my talks fall on deaf ears. To each his own.

As for me, let me confess first I am a born TV addict. So my favourite place is my room one corner of my bed. Television switched on in the background filling in the room with the dialogues of the latest sitcom and me completing all my mundane chores. Folding the clothes, ironing, setting things in the cupboard, cutting and chopping veggies, kneading the flour, putting covers on my kids books, making their school project etc. anything which is routine and mundane you can see me perched on one corner of my bed watching TV and finishing up the work as well. I am sure this confession makes me sound very uncool. These days no one wants to watch the daily soaps that the Indian television dishes out. But for me, I have always loved stories like people love to hear songs I love to hear stories so these daily soaps turn my otherwise mundane and routine jobs into something interesting.

Otherwise, also my room is my sanctuary. If you have ever stayed in a joint family you will understand, your room is the only part of the house which you can truly call your own. This is the place which you can decorate as you like and where you can sit or relax as you like without anyone else judging you. It is truly me: this room has witnessed many happy moments in my life and the pillow on my bed has soaked in countless tears of sorrow.

Which is your favourite haunt in your house? Do share…