MY FIRST DAY AS A FREE BIRD

“My First” is an interesting topic. I have had a few interesting encounters but I’ll mention a funny incident.

A college is a new beginning in any students’ life. After the much-disciplined life of schools there comes the college. We suddenly start thinking that we are actually grown up wand that now we can do anything we want. We feel like a free bird. After 12 years of studying in Girls’ Convent school, and 2 years of +2 in a women’s college, I got admission in Ravenshaw University for pursuing higher education. I had so many emotions running through me because for the first time I was about to step into a co-education institution. I had so many things on my mind, from what I was going to wear to how to figure out where the class would be located at. But I was not alone, three friends of +2 had also taken admission in the same university, which was sort of a relief for me. 

Finally, the day arrived when I stepped in Ravenshaw University. One of my friends had accompanied me in a rickshaw. After reaching near the gate, we waited for the other two friends. After they arrived, we exchanged some gleeful glances and entered the campus. It was huge! I call it the “Red Empire”. There is a big lawn, spherical in shape with antic street lamps neatly fitted. The buildings were red in color. And my favorite color is red! The scenic beauty, the neatness, the entire atmosphere inside the campus had won my heart. To the right-hand side of the lawn, was a big digital board which read “Welcome to Ravenshaw University”. But without wasting much time we headed for the inaugural lecture. It was to be held in Gallery No. 2. We asked a few students and made our way through the crowd to the Gallery. After walking for about 5 minutes, we could see the word “Gallery”. We smiled at each other and rushed towards it. But when we reached near the entrance door, the Gallery was nearly full and the class had begun. We exchanged “oh-no-we-are-late” looks and one of us told, “Ma’am may we come in?” The class which was totally hooked to madam’s lecture was startled by our interruption. We could even see backbenchers giggling among themselves. I felt really embarrassed. But then it was mentioned in the time table that the inaugural lecture was supposed to commence at 11 am. We are only 5 minutes late. Madam looked at us, she didn’t question, she glanced at her watch and told “okay class, we will continue tomorrow” and she got up to leave. We four exchanged puzzled looks. “Get inside”, madam said and left. 

We four got inside, but we were greeted by startled looks, “who-are-you-what-are-you-doing-here” looks. We four settled in and looked left and right to see many familiar faces. Finally, I spotted a familiar face and waved my hand. She was my school senior, she too noticed me and waved back. “What are you doing here?” she asked. “Di, actually I,..”, before I could complete, another madam entered the class. “Settle down class, we have to cover two important topics today,” she said in an urgent tone. Without any delay, she started taking attendance (Ravenshaw University is still strict regarding attendance). After finishing with the left block, she signaled the right block for attendance. We four exchanged nervous glances because we didn’t have identity cards or roll numbers!

Meanwhile, it was our turn. “Yes, your roll number”, she asked my friend. “Ma’am I don’t know”, my friend replied in a feeble voice. “What do you mean by I don’t know? Anyways yes, next”, said madam in a hurried tone. “Ma’am I don’t know my roll no”, another friend of mine replied. “What? And you?”  Madam signaled me. “You too don’t know your roll number,” she asked sharply. “No ma’am” I replied. “You all are from which department? Where are your identity cards? Wait a minute, are you all freshers??” She asked us, nearly getting up from her seat. “Yes ma’am”, four of us replied. We could hear indistinct chatter and feeble giggles from behind. “My my”, madam exclaimed. “This is the Second year, English Hons. Class, your lecture is in the Gallery No. 2 and this is Gallery No.3. Common hurry up, you guys are late.” Madam signaled us to leave and showed us the correct place. After we left the room, we could hear laughter and indistinct chatters all through the stairs. Before we could catch our breath, madam had asked an office staff to accompany us to the destination. Had he not accompanied, we would have never reached the Gallery. Because we were new there and the campus was huge and lots of short-cut paths and ways puzzled us. 

Finally, we reached the Gallery No. 2. It was 11:30am. We missed some parts of the inaugural session. But we got our identity cards, roll number, library card, and the syllabus. After nearly 40 minutes, the inaugural session ended. We met with a few familiar people, friends of friends. After that, we headed for the canteen, for a quick refreshment.  We had a hearty laugh, with what just happened. Then two of my friends left. I and my friend took a walk around the campus and then headed home. Thus, the eventful day came to an end. My first day in Ravenshaw University is truly memorable. 

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SLOW, SMOOTH & SIMPLE!

While Good Health is something that we almost take for granted in our day to day lives, it is sometimes necessary to strike the right balance between work stress and a healthy body.

Yes, the right food coupled with the correct diet and sufficient walking time normally do manage to keep most people fit or afloat to keep going – and then there’s never a dearth when it comes to advice when friends are around. For the many suggestions that my friends/colleagues have showered upon me, I smile, listen & moved on – till this one thing they said…

Read on!

Massage
(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

I guess the above picture says it all, doesn’t it? A good massage after a stressful day at work

At first touch, our heart rate slows down by 10 beats per minute and our blood pressure lowers by 8%

To say I was nervous before settling myself on the fairly narrow leather-ed table/bed, was an understatement. I had read up on the ‘various technicalities’ that happen in course of a massage session (which lasts anything between 45 minutes to an hour) and only after being satisfied with it all, I decided to take the plunge.

It wasn’t a new concept and my friends (who had previously had massages) advised me to be all cool about it – but there is so much of chill you can feel being in bare essentials covering you up. It did feel very comfortable though, I will have to admit.

There were thoughts galore in my mind. Should I ask my masseuse I wondered. Music played in the background, I decided to talk. Now, needless to say, my masseuse was young, pretty and very Indian, my eyes scanned her briefly – at least she’d have soft hands or that is what I had thought initially. As she went about the oils and the rubs, I felt so relaxed… almost felt a song in my head.

She finally beat me to the first question…

“Is this your first time?”

Now, as a  single guy, when you’re asked a question like that from a girl… (irrespective) you’re not sure if you want to tell the truth (I was ‘A Massage Virgin’).

Very quietly I replied “hmmm”.

Not sure if she took it as a pleasuring stroke evoked from her firm hands on my bare back or an answer to her question, but she didn’t find the need to clarify.

…and just like that, we got talking… while she massaged me so well with her now fully oil glazed hands… I could tell, along with being a good masseuse, she was made an excellent conversationalist. Her English though could do with some improvement. (I may be clothed 5% on an otherwise normal dressing day, in front of a total stranger, I will still judge her English).

Not sure of the bonding that happens between a masseuse and her customer in the little room, converts into a friendship outside of it – but in those 45 minutes, we got to know a few things about each other, which clearly states that, it wasn’t just a massage that happened in there, probably a budding friendship too.

45 minutes of body massage, healthy conversation, and a shower later, I was served Ginger tea.

“How did you like the massage?”

Considering I had nothing else to compare it to, I replied,

“It was nice”.

I thought that was the right thing to say. Did I have any say in how the masseuse was? A feedback form perhaps?

.

.

.

I received a text message from her yesterday…

“Hi”, it said…

Yes, we’re connected on WhatsApp and I guess she’s missing her customer, its been some time I haven’t been there…

…or then maybe she is just doing her job.

Whichever way you look at it, My First was pretty memorable, fresh on the mind-n-body, also a learning experience. Oh! …and I felt great after I got out, almost like a new person.

If you haven’t tried one out yet, what are you waiting for?

You are ONE massage away from a good mood

To sign off – A piece of advice to parents and to the old school…

Let’s not write off ‘an appointment with your therapist’ as one of those taboo topics that can’t be spoken out openly. It is as much important as any other of the treatments and luxuries we give ourselves from time-to-time, to help us get up and be ready for a new day. Who would not want to look and feel their best? 

DEAR MOM

Dear mom,

I have never written about you. I have written about girls I have liked but never written about you. So here I sit down and type this letter just for you, dear mom. Although I don’t have clear memories of my early childhood and never asked you if it was easy for you to give up your job as a nurse to look after me, to take care of me, help me grow up, I thank you for that. It may have been a difficult decision for you to make I assume, but you still did it for me. Women are hardly asked about the effect of quitting their jobs to care for a baby or look after the family. It is expected of them, so much so that in certain cases if the newlywed wife doesn’t intend to give up her career she is criticized unfairly by others. Of course, things are changing in the present times but men are never expected or asked to give up their careers to bring up a son or daughter. You were so practical and did it anyway just for me so that I could receive your love from the moment I was born.

Mom, we don’t talk much. I mean at least when I compare with my friends talking to their mothers I don’t think we talk much. But I tell you things I would never have the courage to tell dad. I tell you about the girl I like, about the time I went to meet her. You ask me if we watched a movie and I say “no, no”. And I always feel very happy when you ask me to get KFC’s zinger burger whenever I go to a mall. Can I tell you something more? I have many close friends who are women, and also if I wanted to have a sibling it would be an elder or younger sister. Perhaps it’s the way in which women-kind can empathize and sympathize that makes them such amazing people, whom one can easily confide in, and talk about most things under the sun without being made fun off. I have guy friends too who share this trait but they are a rarity.

You know the one thing which is so underappreciated and equally undervalued is the immense hard-work you put in maintaining the home and family. It might seem that you are duty-bound to do it but the commitment and perseverance you show is just unbelievable. I have seen you washing clothes early-morning during the winters, do the dishes, when dad and I either just sit in front of the television or doze-off. I have seen you enthusiastically waking up early to prepare breakfast so that dad can go to the office and I can go to school on time, even though you might be running a fever. You never have any designated days as holidays. Dad has off days at work. I have off days as a student. But you never have. I heard you saying once “we women never have a day off”. I didn’t understand it then but now I do. Especially after you fell ill last Christmas and I had to help out dad with the household work. I realized how effortlessly you do the entire body of work without complaining about your grievances. I know I have let you down, by not providing more help in maintaining the house and share the chores to reduce your workload. But I intend to work on it. Men have so-called “more important jobs” and women are left to do the “unimportant, menial tasks”. I don’t think anymore that women do unimportant tasks. Their contribution is as important and sometimes even more as the husband’s or the son’s. I have to make sure that you have holidays too and that we share the household workload more.

Mom, I love your liking for water-less puchkas and excitement for an occasional “yum-yum chili-chicken”. I love your eyes lighting up for steamed-momos, rosgollas and misthi-doi. I love the sweet mango pickle, our “jelly-pickle” you make during the summers and the kheer you make whenever I return home for holidays. I get so delighted when you prepare “tikhil-asma” and “bairka-asma” and our favorite, though tasteless yet very fulfilling “thappa-roti”. I miss the “osa-dishes” you made when I was small. I used to love mushrooms at that point of time. I miss our walks back from primary school. Mom, you know what quality of yours I love the most. Well, it isn’t just one. It’s your humility, your perseverance, your silent sacrifices without ever making a big deal about it, your quiet stillness and calm amidst all chaos, the way you stay calm and brave even during earthquakes when dad gets all panicky and scampers out of the house like a rat. We both know about that. I have grown up to be a bit like you, mom. I definitely look like you and I have some of your qualities, though not up to your level but I am working on it. And I have so much more to say and write but I will stop here now. I know words are never enough and I don’t say this enough but I love you, mom.

A MODEST HUMAN BUT A GUTSY WOMAN

I have never seen someone that jolly and cheerful as her. It was very easy to know whether she was present or absent in the class. The reason was crystal clear, her loud voice and laughter. I had never seen her sitting sad or tired. She never used to keep people waiting. She used to speak what she thought to be correct according to her. When she used to scold someone, it was more like a loving and authoritative reprimand than insulting. But she never used to leave a person go easily 😛 . She believed in clarifying the matter more than keeping it in a hanging state. In our class, she was known as a ‘Clean Hearted Girl’, having no ambiguity within her. That was something commendable about her!

I am happy that I could relate to her so much because of our similar body structures. Is it necessary to announce that we were thin? 😊

She used to ride a bike much before the ad came up with the tagline – “Why should boys have all the fun”. She was having the fun even before the bike company even realized to make a jingle to sell its product. She was not tomboyish, but a beautiful and flamboyant girl.

She had kept friendship with as many people as possible in the class, unlike other girls. She was quite limitless in knowing and making friends. She was never a shy girl – not to flaunt around though but to keep decent friendship with all. That’s a pretty unusual attitude of hers which I admire a lot. In today’s world, when every feminist is fighting and shouting for issues like gender equality, my friend declared it with ease that she is equal to a man by her attitude and action in various aspects of life. She didn’t have to fight for it or shout for it or even try to prove it, but she lived it with her utter modesty.

No, I am not contradicting with what I said about her previously as not being a shy girl and what I said now about her being modest. Actually, I can put it this way – She was modest as a human, she was gutsy as a girl. And I believe, she possesses the same quality even today, though she had to go through many traumatic life situations in her life later.

We studied together at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar for our post-graduation during the year 1997-1999. We were very good friends when we were in University, but we became close friends only after our studies. Usually, after a certain time in life people tend to lose their college and university friends. Even I did so. Presently, I am rarely in touch with any of my college and university friends. But the best part of our friendship is, we are still friends and in touch with each other. She never forgets to call me to wish on my birthday and Christmas every year. It was she who never let our friendship go, not even after she got married. Yeah, we had lost track in the middle for some time, while we went ahead in different career searches but we found our friendship back on track, after few months of her marriage.

There were quite a few hurdles that she had to cross over in her life – she biggest being, she lost her husband last year. She was utterly broken, she is broken even now, I know it very well. But I also know that she will get over it soon with the grace of God.

We grew in maturity with regards to our friendship, thanks to her. She knew how to own a relationship, a friendship. A few days ago, while talking with her on the phone, she addressed me as ‘Bhai‘ (Brother). And I knew she meant it wholeheartedly.

Dharashree! Yeah, that’s her name. I treasure her and our friendship for a lifetime. I believe a woman like her can bring a lot of change in this world.

Today, when the world around us has so many broken relationships, lost promises and loose-ended friendships, a woman like Dharashree can play a very important role to bring things together and on track. Only a woman like her, can win people, own them and live with all in peace.

A woman like my friend ‘Dharashree’, justifies why we all should celebrate the International Women’s Day again this year in 2019.

KEEP LEARNING

Another year coming to an end. 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes or 31536000 seconds coming to an end. I am not the kind of person who will look back and try to introspect on the year gone by. I usually look ahead with excitement towards the coming year.

But this year has been different. There has been a lot which was different this year and it has taught me a lot of things. So today I feel qualified to write this article. There are two major lessons I learnt this year. Actually, it’s not some new age gyan I stumbled upon. We all know these things, we just tend to conveniently neglect it or forget it.  

Be Grateful: One lesson I learnt in the year gone by is not to take things for granted. Be happy and thankful for what you have. However boring or straightforward your life may seem, there are many blessings in your life. Value them and be grateful for them. You never know when they will go away and then we will realise their importance in our life.

Be ready to Evolve: Or in other words don’t be complacent. I made that mistake. After marriage, kids and family life happened I got myself so involved in these things that I didn’t work on myself.  Keep evolving. Keep learning. Try to improve your qualifications or maybe just learn a new skill or hone an old hobby. Basically, keep adding to your personality. You never know when these skills come in handy.

Life will always throw a googly at you at the most unexpected time it helps to be grateful for what you have and be prepared for what is going to come.

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

2018 is about to finish and now when I look back, I feel nostalgic. If anyone asks me how was 2018 to you, I would say, “It was the best in my life”. Reading this line, many of you might think, I just have got good marks or might have topped university exams or have got a good job with handsome salary. Trust me there’s no such thing. 2018 was best because of many other reasons. All the reasons when combined together, have given me so much. When 2018 started I was having a lot of stress. The reason for stress was some family issues. Though 2018 was not a fairy tale year but it made my year.

I graduated in this year and this really makes me happy. While I was leaving my college, I came to know what I earned so far. I earned love and affection from my teachers, classmates and also from my juniors. While returning back to home I had lots of memories which are going to stay in my heart forever. 2018 taught me the true essence of love. True love motivates us to look forward and work hard for our dreams. It is kind and never brags.

Every day brought some lessons for me. The best lesson that I learnt was “not everyone we meet or have in our lives are intended to stay forever”. The only thing that will stay forever is bittersweet memories. The year is ending day by day and so it is taking away toxic people from my life; for which I am very thankful. The last six month of 2018 proved to be of great teachings. I learnt so much. I saw myself as a grown up, matured enough to make life decisions. I found when we are determined; no one can change our decisions. Once we are determined, we get the courage to walk alone in the city full of crowd. Even though we are alone, we are always surrounded by our determination and willpower.

I hope 2019 will also bring so many lessons for me. It will be a year that will witness my growth as a matured and persevere human. I wish 2019 to award me with success and good health of my near and dear ones.  In 2019, I won’t waste my time in anger, grudges and being disappointed. I would rather invest it in being a happy and cheerful soul. After all, life is all about finding happiness despite the odds. Therefore, welcome your new year with open arms and hopes.

ORGANIZED STUDENT LIFE: STRIVING FOR GOOD MARKS AMIDST FUN

People say student life is the best. Being a student was never a hard time for me. I have had enjoyed my academic life always. During school life, I managed to have a good student image but that doesn’t mean I never had fun. People say a student’s life should be organized and student should make the best of it. This is because student life is the phase where we grasp things quickly. Parents always ask their children to focus on their studies and to befriend the intelligent ones in their classes. At times it may happen that we get envious of intelligent children and would try to compete them. In that case we might end up getting our routine upside down. So how can we achieve an organized student life?

If I talk about myself, for me my academic life was always organized. I knew my caliber and strengths. Instead of being envious of toppers I used to work on my interest areas and tried to improve my grey areas. When I was in school my routine was fixed. It was my habit to wake up early, get fresh and start my day. I would go to school and there I would engage myself in whatever was being taught. However, I was never a studious girl. I just studied to learn new things and not more than that. Apart from studies, I used to participate in some of the extra-curricular activities but that was limited. When exams approached I would turn into a book worm and fortunately I got good marks. During college life too I was never so studious. I would attend classes and would study to learn what was being taught.

After I have passed out from college I feel I should have been more studious. It’s not that I slept late, woke up late and didn’t study appropriately. I mean to say the way I was organized during my school life was way better than my college life. Though I was a fun loving girl in college, I knew study is what I have to do on regular basis. During my entire student life, one formula that helped me a lot is- setting up goals. I remember when I was in my 10th standard, the short term goal was to work hard for final exams. I used to study for long hours. I did this, not because of the fear of exam but because I knew this is the only way that will help me to study for my exams. Despite of studying for hours I never forgot to enjoy my days and take rest. I had made a schedule and I followed it. In college, few more things got added up to the study schedule, they were: study buddies, watching short movies and taking up the notes. Every morning I would wake up and would start my day. No matter what happened I ensured I read atleast a page, not just for the sake of reading. This helped me in learning so many things. However I was never a topper. Honestly speaking, I never studied for getting good marks.

I enjoyed every single day. I went for partying with my friends but I ensured that study and party never gets mixed up. I feel proud that I never had an issue of low attendance. A good student is the one who knows what they have to do and plans accordingly. Whether you are in school or college, your focus should be on grasping things, utilizing the resources provided to you. Setting short term goals and striding towards the long term goals can really help us in making the best of our student life. When we study in groups then we learn things quickly. Apart from this, one must focus on keeping student life away from other things. I am not saying we should not get indulged in some other activities but having a balance between everything can really be helpful in making the best of our student life.