STEPPING INTO THE NEW YEAR TOGETHER

“We heal, not in isolation, but in togetherness”

This quote is so true, especially in the current times, when going out still contains a little risk. We managed for 2 years, sitting inside our homes and managing to stay together virtually. We all hope and pray that the new year marks the end of the scary coronavirus and the world is freed from the COVID pandemic.

We planned a get-together on the very first day of the new year. I met my sister Prabhjot after 2 years, though didn’t feel like meeting her after ages, as we are in constant touch with each other through WhatsApp. However, it was different for our kids, who rarely video call each other. My elder son doesn’t like to talk to his friends virtually. He says that he misses them and wants to meet them, physically, face to face. The kids have really suffered a lot during this pandemic. It feels bad that they missed out a lot due to isolation. 

Yesterday, our sons were super excited since morning and were so happy to meet each other after a long gap. They played, laughed out loudly, danced, and had fun together. Now, they are looking forward to more such frequent get-togethers, and so are we.

Spending time together with family & friends, sharing joy & happiness, having endless talks, and eating delicacies are indeed delightful. With a beautiful start to this new year, I wish the rest of the days are well spent, for everyone. I pray that we get to meet our loved ones often and share the good times, for togetherness is a wonderful place to be in.

Stay happy! Stay together!

SHAVING OFF MY DARK-UGLY-LOOKING HAIR

All that I have done in my life were mostly need-based rather than for fun and pleasure. And on the 29th of the last month, I sat down to trim my hair and I went on to shave them till I was almost bald. As I looked at my dark and ugly-looking hair falling on the newspaper, a thought came to my mind. 

How often do we tend to tread the path of sickness, suffering, and sinfulness in a particular time period of our life? The preconceived, the preoccupied, the presumed thoughts, ideas, and prejudices we tend to gather as we walk. These thoughts or ideas either turn us into persons having a closed mindset or judgmental. Neither it helps us on a personal note nor solves the purpose of our creation, that is being an instrument for God towards the fellow human.

So what should we do? How should we help ourselves to be more useful for the sole purpose of our creation? My answer to this question is – GO THROUGH A PROCESS OF UNLEARNING.

Unlearning every thought that tells me I am better than others, unlearning the prejudice I have that people should revolve around me, unlearning the very idea of I should stay self-sufficient without bothering about what is happening in my neighborhood. The days have changed after the onset of the Pandemic. And it is high time that we get rid of this mindset of revolving around our own set rules for life.

When I look at my completely shaven head today, I see a blank slate of my life and feel happy that I am ready to learn afresh without having any preoccupied ideas or prejudices about people and their life. As new hair starts growing on my head, I will learn things that are new and something very different than what I have never experienced before in life. And I know, I need to unlearn from all that I have previously before being active on what I want to do afresh this year onward.

How about you? Are you ready to shave off and unlearn along with me? Then don’t have second thoughts to it, just do it.

Stay Blessed!!!

IN SEARCH OF MYSELF

On the 365th day of the year looking back I wonder what major achievement did I have this year.. can’t think of anything spectacular…  I survived that’s my achievement. I could manage to somehow stumble through this maze of the physical, mental,  financial, emotional onslaught of Covid.

But looking back I noticed one thing. I have somehow lost my essence in this whole struggle. It is as if I have put myself on hold somewhere, in the wait for things to normalize once again.

I have come to realize this is not how it works. We can’t stop living our life fully in wait for circumstances to improve. Things have changed and will keep changing. Times will be good and bad. But we need to keep on living not just surviving.  Keep on making memories. This time once gone is not going to come back ..

In 2022 I hope to find myself again. I need to drop this cloak of being a ‘bechari‘ (poor me) a victim of circumstances. I am going to find myself again. Take me out of this endless round of chores at home and work and gain some new experiences.

I am leaving behind the feeling of helplessness and melancholy in 2021. Looking forward to writing more, learning new skills, experiencing life more not just in front of the screen.

I know it’s too ambitious but kuch to ho hi jayega (Something should happen). At least the intentions are there, the search begins.

A CHANGE FOR THE BETTER

At this time of life,

Are you who you wanted to be, as a person?

Have you acheived what you wanted to? (To a good extent at least?)

Doing what you always wanted to do?

My answers are – definitely not. Before the pandemic hit, I would have given a different answer. The pandemic really changed my course of life in ways I could never imagine. It has shown me the lows of relationships  and how people are. It has destroyed my travel plans. On the positive note, I have spent lot of time with my family, which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.

As we were entering 2020, I had big plans for that year. The sounding of that year itself is so perfect. I had plans to go on more than couple of international trips. Take sabbatical towards the end and persue my passion to uncover the creative side of me. By the mid of 2021, I can restart my job and fall back into the groove of life. Two years just passed by, and I did none of these.

The work from home situation has actually made professional setup worse. I literally realised how difficult it is to convey things without actually talking and seeing each other’s expressions. I am sure, many would agree. This discomfort has increased our work timings. It takes lot more time to move from a dialogue phase to decision phase virtually. The fun is also lower. The sense of connection is low as well. Never ever, have I thought I would be pissed off with my current job and that happened. Not because I don’t love what I do, but, I just don’t want to do it all my day from morning till night.. Wow, that’s a lot of time to commit and on top of it, it took away my “me” time. Lost loved ones to the pandemic, added pain and suffering.

Many of us went through similar suffering. Our lives have changed, challenges we face have changed and the outlook we had of life changed. We have the right to be mad at the pandemic. No matter how many curve balls life threw at us, we tried to play them hoping for the best. We were out of control with everything, including our health and life insurances. We were forced to live with the least and we did.

I don’t know about you, but, my take on living life has changed because of the pandemic. From a casual, I have atleast 30 more years to live, I started accepting, not a single day is mine anymore. I have learnt how important it is to have nominees for every single penny of mine. How important it is to have a heartful conversation when we have the oppurtunity. How important it is to do the several “crazy things” when I can.

The very thing I have put an end to is, thinking there is some other time.  There is no such time. Now, it is. As the world is reopening, with precautions I want to restart things I have put a pause on. We should, we all should.

“A man is like a novel: until the very last page you don’t know how it will end. Otherwise it wouldn’t be worth reading.”  Yevgeny Zamyatin

IF LIFE IS TOUGH…

Yes, dear life,
I’ll never give up on you.
No matter what you throw my way
I’ll definitely survive the day.

You will always see a smile on my face
For, I believe in living with grace.
I’m not the one to sit and cry
I’ve been taught to touch the highs.

You see,
I’m the mountain girl
who carries the sunshine in her curls
who carries the sunshine in her curls.
To all those who feel like giving up
show life who’s the BOSS, Yes!

MATTERS OF THE HEART

What do I say about where and why my heart takes and makes me do – different things at different places? While doing all of that, not forgetting its primary function of pumping blood through my circulatory system, to keep this bloke going the extraa…aaamile.

Real-life is one thing.. fiction is another. My sister and I were raised on a steady diet of homecooked food and dollops of love, and we were never short of stories – mum and dad had plenty of them-some of which were repeats but we didn’t mind. Today, when they tell us the same stories again…we smile at each other, coz we’ve heard them so many times before – but sometimes it is the stories that keep us going.

And that’s how we’ve always lived.

Growing up in the era of the ’90s, where everything we watched and came across brought a smile to our faces, the lives people lived, and the friendships we stitched, always reminded me that life was good and love was found everywhere. Ever since then I’ve always believed in a romantic story, from watching mushy Shahrukh Khan movies, romancing his love interests in Bollywood to young romances blossom in college in Hollywood, and in my heart of hearts… I’ve always wanted stories like that to happen to me.

Can you blame me if I fall in love with every female character on the show/a movie I watch?

…and that’s where I’ve always remained optimistic, that there is someone really out there, and she’ll be all the things I’ve been dreaming about her, come true – my very own princess, and I’ve been waiting ever since.

A lot of the people I know often say that I keep my thoughts to myself, which is very true. There is after-all time and a place for everything. This week’s theme is all about ‘Direct Dil se’ which loosely translates to ‘Straight from the Heart’from mine to yours.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes, the romantic ones are the ones with no romance in their lives? Keep pondering on that question – this one’s for us single people out there…

..and that’s where I decided the best place to find a good love story was in the movies and books and hence the love of reading blossomed…and so did the writing, and this is where the thoughts are broken down into fine reading.

My life as I wish is a combination of so many Hollywood movies I’ve watched;

…a little house in the woods, a quiet town, friendly neighborhood, a job that keeps me happy more than stressed, a partner who is no-frills with a pet dog for the complete family. Enough money is earned to live a simple life. And if we lived in a town that snows, even better – nothing like sitting by the fireplace to keep warm on a snowy day. Even writing this down feels as if, I’m already there…

My heart pines for the simple life, no-frills no fancy. I was never cut out for all that we see in the world today.

I fell in love with stories, then with the language …and to see it used in the movies and written in print is like spreading love to all that I touch.

Words are like magic when used to narrate life’s memories, wishes, and dreams. So it is no wonder that I ventured out into writing, I write for the love of writing and not as a profession, because, as I know it, Love originates from the heart, and where the heart is involved, money does not find a place there.

As in all my favorite stories: there are moments in life when you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen next, new ideas, new people – and that can be challenging. It’s how we meet those challenges, NOW that is the exciting part.

…and what I do now, THAT is my story and no one can change that. I am a part of this beautiful ongoing story; my reader, my well-wisher, and my friend, YOU all are a part of this magnificent story in the making.

I am not even going to ask you “What is your story?” because I want to play a part in it.

SOME SPECIAL CONNECTIONS …

This Saturday, me and my father visited the RTO office. He was due for his DL renewal. While he was talking to the agent and getting his paperwork, I couldn’t help but peep into the Yonex shop that was nearby. I informed my father that I would be back in a few mins and requested him to wait there if at all he finished his work early. Slowly, I walked towards the small shop. It is hardly 15 feet by 10 feet store with huge posters of P V Sindhu. There was a display of all kinds of badminton rackets. However, I wasn’t interested in the rackets. I was searching the other side of the counter for a salesperson.

Meanwhile, one of the sales representatives approached me asking, what I was looking for. It’s not ‘what’, but, ‘who’ you should be asking, I slowly murmured. While I was lost in that thought, “Aastha, is that you?“, said a voice. “Thank God!! Yes, it’s me. But, how did you know it was me from behind?”, “Ah, that was because I was watching you in the mirror”, he said. “I am so glad to meet you after so many years. I have come here a few times, always wondered if you were around, but, never really came inside. I wasn’t sure if you would remember me before I walked in”, there was no stopping to my talking. “Of course, you and Ali used to come to buy rackets and shuttlecock cans. You always insisted for the feathered cocks”. “Yes, true. This was our regular store back then”. “So, what are you looking for now?” he asked. “Honestly, I came here only to see you. Sorry. There was no intention to buy anything”, said I. We laughed talking about so many memories.

It felt like yesterday all those instances happened, yet, it has been more than a decade or even more. Time just flies was the thought I had. “How did you remember my name?“, I asked him. “That wasn’t because of you. It was because of your father. He bought a badminton racket from me once. It was one of the first makes of lighter ones from Yonex. Immediately after buying the racket, he wrote your name on the leather cover. I asked him who it was and he said that’s his daughter’s name. Later on, you came several times along with Ali, but I had no clue you were Aastha, until one fine day you came along with your father. I connected the dots. I could have been wrong too. BTW, how is your father?“, inquired he.

“Oh, he is right here, renewing his DL”, my eyes lit up while saying that. He insisted on meeting my father. We all had coffee together. Though my father did not remember him, he certainly remembers visiting that shop. The conversation went longer than I expected. That was a heart to heart connection.

Before I met him, I had so many thoughts in those few mins while I was walking towards the store. Is he still there? How he would be? How did covid affect his business? Is he still the owner of the shop? and so many other thoughts. The only hope was to meet him and feel good about it. I wasn’t expecting him to recognise me either. Yet, the conversation with him made me so happy.

Me being who I am, let me tell you, I wouldn’t have made an inviting gesture to start a conversation back then. I would just walk into the store, make the purchases and return. I don’t remember talking about anything other than why I was there, We don’t even realize but, some connections we make have so much impact on our lives. Though we don’t call them friends or family, those connections are still very special. They enlighten us when we remember them. At some point in life, those people were meant to cross paths with us and for good. We never know how such a connection can make us happy in future. 

“Communication is merely an exchange of information, but connection is an exchange of our humanity.”  – Sean Stephenson