Of a cat, anxiety, and homecoming – May to July

The inevitability of Covid brings with it occasional bouts of excruciating anxiety and lethargy. But there’s a glimmer of hope in the form a foster cat.

We pick up Hannah from SPCA and smuggle her into our home (which isn’t without its share of trials and tribulations). She warms our hearts with her unbearable cuteness and softness. Cuddling her every morning upon waking up and after returning from work become the highlights of our day. Words may not be enough – as is always the case – so here are some pictures

You know you are loved when your cat gives you company while you grade mind-numbing tests.

Meanwhile, May brings with it, relief coupled with trepidation. The borders open for temporary visa holders and I book my tickets to visit home in June, a day after H’s birthday. Home. A part of me is in disbelief while the rest grapples with a bout of anticipatory travel anxiety. I begin jotting down my check-lists. Despite everything, I realize the pandemic is still a fixture at this point which necessitates a bunch of documents such as vaccine certificates, letters of permission from the University and my supervisor, and self-declaration forms. To top this, I find myself plagued with questions, wondering how things would be back home. Would they have changed a lot? Would the familiarity overwhelm me? Will my boyfriend and I actually come out of this visit unscathed? I see my residual resentment towards him bubbling up through the cracks occasionally. My mind is plagued with questions.

Though I find the whole process stressful, it is indeed soothing to have a cat around. Hannah sidles up to me each time she senses my low moods. H and I move onto another gripping K-drama, Beyond Evil which stays with us long after the season finale. One particular Friday, I wake up extraordinarily early and treat myself to a sumptuous breakfast at Ima, a popular Mediterranean eatery. I think it’s important to pamper yourself – if it is affordable – and let yourself off the hook from time to time. That evening, Ap and I go to the bouldering gym together. Little do I know that it would be probably be the last time we do so but more about that later.

Eventually, Hannah finds a (hopefully) loving home. It is bittersweet but H and I hope we can get her new parents to send us updates. Unfortunately, our efforts to persuade SPCA to pass on our message go in vain as we never hear from anybody. We try not to dwell on it and move on with our lives.

As my visit to home looms, I find myself getting frequently anxious. It doesn’t help that my PMS worsens with each cycle. There are increasingly vicious arguments with my partner, and no, I won’t elaborate but let’s just say – they leave me desolate and miserable. Add to this, the sudden demise of a favourite singer. I wake up to the news that KK – a musician beloved to millennials like me, whose music formed the soundtrack of our adolescence – is no more. I’m gutted to say the least.

On a positive note – a much needed therapy session helps me focus on my triggers and thoughts upon getting triggered. Engaging with thoughts is what escalates an emotion from 3 to 10 and my homework is to bring this point into awareness. Thoughts are words. They are meaningless unless acted upon. This includes false reassurances to calm myself down temporarily. A heartening realization that makes realize that I can get a grip on my emotions by engineering the thoughts behind them.

Times whizzes past and H’s birthday finally arrives. One day before, I wrap up stuff at the uni, hurriedly hug my coworkers which includes Ap, and rush home to decorate the house and keep an assortment of cakes and pastries ready. Unbeknownst to H, I have proactively organized a birthday treasure-hunt after consulting her college friends virtually, the treasure being a deluxe version of her favourite BTS album Be. H is not one to vocalize her affection towards me, but the treasure hunt proves to be a success the next day, and her joy is palpable! I film a reaction video of sorts and share it with her friends.

We eat lunch at a cosy South-African eatery on Elliot Street. As I watch H happily munch on chicken and waffles, I feel a sudden pinch in my heart. It feels gut-wrenching to leave my best friend, flatmate and sole support system in New Zealand all by herself for a month whilst I visit home. It doesn’t help that Covid is always lurking round the corner. What if I am not able to come back? The guilt of being the first one amongst us to visit home is crushing. But H, in her typical H-fashion assures me that there’s no need to catastrophize. And so with her reassurance, I embark on my visit home.


To say that I am in the best frame of mind on the flight back home would be a lie. My excitement about meeting my partner and going home is marred by a vicious argument days before my departure. And so it weighs on me heavily as I try to distract myself with movies and cups of coffee on board. I write a sombre note on my phone that is addressed to him, and to us. But I’m going to cut the suspense and jump a few days ahead – we meet for lunch where I manage to convey what’s been plaguing my mind, and hear him out as well. I feel understood for the first time in a long time.

The first time I see my father’s familiar figure outside the airport, a wave of relief washes over me. It feels surreal to be back home. The instant cortisol drop makes me gorge on the sandwiches and Lays wafers my mother has thoughtfully packed for me – washed down with two packs of Frooti. I can barely stop filming videos on our drive back to Pune. Seeing my mother at our doorstop proves to be the final force against the dread that has resided in my mind all these months. I am truly elated.

Needless to say, being home makes a massive difference to my mental health. I don’t recall being this relaxed in a long time. I realize that I was either anxious about my relationship falling apart or about having my parents fall sick. I am grateful. The familiarity of being home isn’t as overwhelming as I had catastrophized it to be. The city is eerily identical to what it looked like in Jan 2020, save for a couple of new buildings and the lack of two distinct flyovers near the university. The cat I used to play with in our compound remembers me even now! She’s hale and hearty despite having evidently aged. I am warmed and pleasantly surprised when almost all my friends make time to meet me despite their busy schedules. S flies down to Pune for a week and we spend our time together talking about everything under the sun, catching up with what had gone down in the past two years.

Meanwhile, my partner and I have several conversations about our future, calmly for the most part. I realize how brutal distance can actually get, because the man I know isn’t this villainous character that he transforms into – in my head – when he is away. It isn’t always hunky-dory though – there are days when I regress to being irate and upset due to certain plans not materializing. This includes a trip to Goa. Not only does it deeply disappoint me, but also leads me to project my disappointment on him. Gradually, things resolve as we make the most of the time we have at our disposal.

As July looms, I realize I am not ready to go back yet. Luckily, I manage to extend my visit by another week. I get a health check up to rule out fibroids and other menstrual cycle issues. My blood-work and other reports are normal save for abysmally low levels of Vitamin D and B12. I schedule a consult with a psychiatrist – known to our family – to get an opinion on my anxious moods. On her recommendation, I trial a cocktail of medications for barely three days until I realize that I am not ready yet. I am not entirely satisfied with her diagnosis which is further subtly confirmed by my long time therapist. On the latter’s advice, I decide to take a second opinion in December (when I’d be home again). In the meantime, I am put on a vitamin supplement course to be on track.

July further instills a sense of calm and gratitude in me as I spend quality time with my family and indulge in activities that give me great satisfaction. Upon invitation, I give an informal talk on my PhD journey to my old research group at NCL. I am warmly welcomed by my ex-supervisor and ex co-workers. I embrace the ordinariness of my home that I had once taken for granted until I moved out. I indulge in my favourite vegetarian dishes. I stroll around MG road. I witness Pune rains and deeply breathe in the petrichor, the lack of which is conspicuous in Auckland. I binge watch Reply 1988 with my mother.

As my visit draws to a close, it is understandably bittersweet. But I leave home with a sense of wonderment.

I have no idea why I felt like home wouldn’t feel like home. If anything, I’m relieved.

Grounding myself: March

It’s the second day of March and I wake up freezing in bed. There’s a definite drop in temperature. Is autumn on the threshold, I wonder. Because if so, I’m pleasantly surprised. I realize that Kiwi summers aren’t my thing. Yes, there are beaches and a couple of months of wearing less clothes but in terms of my mood and mental health – NAH. I now understand the hype around autumn, especially since it isn’t a thing for us folks back home. It’s the pleasant kinda cold, just enough to make you wear light shrugs and an occasional beanie. I think to myself that maybe this is a sign that better days are coming, given how tumultuous February had been.

March begins with frequent therapy sessions. I figure I have some exploring and inner chronicling to do understand myself better. I realize sleep is paramount. However, there are days when I wake up feeling tired despite having slept for around 8 hours – from 11pm to 8am. This worries me as consider myself to be a morning person.

Meanwhile, I successfully completely my fifteen-day goal to bring down my usage of Instagram. I realize that on an average I spend between 40 to 60 minutes on the platform, which isn’t terrible given how crazy my usage times were in the beginning. I decide to extend the goal to another month, where I would limit my usage to 60 minutes in the first half and then reduce it to 50 minutes in the second. This doesn’t go as planned; I find myself lapsing back into unhealthy scrolling habits. On the days I stick to my goal, I notice my overall screen-time shooting up as I fill the void left by the gram with other apps such as YouTube and Twitter. But I am patient. Deep-rooted habits don’t die overnight.

I use this month to recuperate from my ill mental health. I resume an illustrative journaling course by Kate Sutton on Domestika that I had signed up for last October. This exercise proves to deeply therapeutic as I throw caution to the winds and draw from memory, illustrating a day from my life, my favourite things, the food I love, the walks I have gone on, etc. I toy with the idea of buying myself a pack of Posca markers but hold back as they are expensive. I finally resolve to make use of materials I already own before giving into impulses.

I manage to read one book – Anxious People by Fredrick Backman – that steals my heart. The plot is delightful, funny, wholesome yet thrilling. Backman’s quirky prose makes me chuckle (when I am not being choked up with emotions). I love the feminist undertone to the storyline. I find myself gushing about his book for days to come and send a copy to S as a birthday present. In the meantime, I get back to almost binging on K-dramas after what seems like a year. I complete watching the first season of Hospital Playlist, Doctor John, and follow up with a new show titled Thirty-Nine. There are days when H and I watch episodes from Keeping Up With The Kardashians as the content is asinine; it is fun to watch rich white people doing Rich White People Things.

March doesn’t fly by without its share of downs. There are days when I’m bogged down by homesickness. The last week is marred by tense conversations with my partner about our future that trigger my anxiety. After one such conversation, I sleep poorly and wake up with a pit in my stomach. I am immobilized by gloom which leads me to swap my teaching shift with another tutor on the pretext of a migraine. I end up binging on some episodes from the second season of Hospital Playlist. I order myself a breakfast takeaway to lift up my spirits but the meal turns out to be disappointing. I let myself crash up until around late afternoon, after which I force myself to shower and get out for a cup of coffee. I drain a cup of flat white at a nearby cafe – it is delicious – and walk towards the Ferry Building. I sit on one of the stone benches overlooking the water front with a newly curated playlist playing in my ears. As I watch the waves bob up and down, a sense of calm washes over me. I breathe deeply and watch the sky gradually change hues from sepia yellow to pastel pink. I love this city, I think to myself. I silently vow to focus on my goals and not get bogged down by what the future may hold.

April, bring it on.

Of unfinished business and compulsions

Remember the time I vouched to soldier at my pace and finish the A to Z Blogging Challenge? I couldn’t live up to the promise I made to myself. I procrastinated to the point where returning to this space filled me with regret, annoyance and disappointment. Regret for having given up. Annoyed at my incompetence to complete the challenge. Disappointed at my myself for having neglected my blogging habits once again.

And you know what? It’s OK. At least that’s what I tell myself.

As I grow older, I find myself thinking about what purpose means to me. So far, purpose to me has encompassed challenges, projects, To-Do lists and goals. However, if I’m unable to fulfill these, I am overwhelmed by ennui. I realize that I tend to set targets for my creative pursuits as well. This in turn is ironical as the latter naturally ebb and flow and are highly sensitive to my energy levels and moods.

So why am I fatalistic about them? Come to think of it, this sense of needless urgency to indulge in activities with end-goals is linked to my fear of failure. The failure of living up to standards I’ve set for myself which when otherwise surpassed, serve to activate the reward centre in my brain. My self-talk is demanding, governed by words that signify compulsion. I need to do this. I have to finish this blogging challenge. Add to this, a plate overloaded with unrealistic objectives sprinkled generously with procrastination.

Here’s the catch though. Purpose can be divorced from failure if the former shifts from fruition to learning. For learning implies possibility and the scope to keep moving as far as you would like. Learning releases the clutch of an audience. It is a practice in living. Pleasure serves a purpose too. What if I wrote to merely enjoy the satisfaction of writing? What if I were to read for the joy of reading and to not simply complete a Goodreads Challenge or gain intellectual benefit? Simply put, why can’t my creative pursuits be “goal-less”? What about the pleasure of learning itself as an experience in staying alive?

What I have mentioned so far is Not Easy for someone like me. But I am going to try. And I will aim to keep learning.

This post was not supposed to be about my musings. Anyhow.

Coming back to the A to Z Blogging Challenge that spanned April, the theme I chose was On living alone and discovering adulthood in the midst of a pandemic.

There were a lot of things I had intended to write. But the good news is that the pandemonium pandemic is ongoing with new variants that have joined the party. As for adulthood – it doesn’t end. It appears to stretch on and on.

Oh, and happy 2022.

F and G are for Friendship and Gratitude

While I wouldn’t call myself an out-and-out extrovert, I do like having good company. I like being around folks who are easy-going and unproblematic.

Perhaps one of the aspects of moving out that flooded me with dread was the scenario of not being able to find a reliable circle. At the time, pandemics did not feature in my list of worst-case scenarios. Yet, I opted for an expensive studio instead of a shared flat as the idea of living with a stranger in a new country made me anxious. Little did I know that I was about to meet a motley bunch of strangers at my university accommodation – who like me were in the process of figuring out their new lives – would become my friends for keeps.

The universe has been very kind to me. I keep repeating myself because these scenarios – getting settled fairly soon in a new city, having good coworkers and finding a lovely friend and flatmate – were mostly left to fate. I’d like to think of it as a combination of my privilege, good fortune, as well as the vibes I send out to the universe, sub-consciously. Back in 2019, these were wishful thoughts.

Despite the good stuff that has come my way throughout my life, there has always been a niggling thought – a faint voice – trying to convince me that I am, perhaps, not deserving of these things. I tend to downplay my struggles – three years of having been in limbo, in a job that didn’t completely satisfy me whilst dealing with poor mental health stemming from extreme indecisiveness about my future. I have been afraid of happiness even though I spent a long time chasing it.

Gratitude has become a fixture in my life ever since I moved to Auckland. To have someone who reminds me to carry my house-keys, phone and wallet before leaving the house maybe be a small but a meaningful gesture for which I am immensely thankful. Home isn’t just a place but a potpourri of such gestures that convey intimacy, comfort, warmth and ease.

I assumed I was destined to stay in my shoe-box studio for the entirety of my program until I met H. We have solaced each other since the beginning of our friendship, weathered homesickness and several lockdowns together; there were no doubts regarding sharing a home together.

As much as I wanted to limit interactions with my coworkers to our workspace, it turned out that we did make great buddies. I have learnt a new hobby – bouldering! – courtesy my awesome friend/coach/coworker A. I have had another lovely coworker-now-friend, stitch a Halloween costume for me from scratch. We’ve hung out together, confided in and comforted each other during rough times. I couldn’t have asked for more. I feel overwhelmed at times.

I tell myself that I deserve the good stuff. Cliched as it sounds, everything comes in waves – the great and the ugly – that you gotta ride.

D is for discovering a new city

Whilst I spent the first eight years of my life in Bombay, I spent the rest of it – until the age of twenty-six – in Pune. The latter saw me awkwardly transition from a preteen to an under-confident teenager but subsequently step out of it gracefully into my early-twenties. Before Auckland, it is safe to say that I had only known one city to a reasonable extent; reasonable since I only began exploring the city interiors as a graduate student. I am ashamed to confess that I would still require Google Maps to navigate through significant parts of Pune.

My therapist assured me that over time my homesickness would be replaced by appreciation towards Auckland, undoubtedly so as one of my reasons for moving here was the charm it held over me even when I was miles away in my room in Pune filling out doctoral application forms. And boy, she was right.

“this is how I’ll remember the end of my first week alone in a city that is slowly growing on me – the sea, a lovely evening breeze, a smile, my John Mayer tee, Shamoon Ismail and a playlist that seemed to have been made for this place, not to mention meeting a lovely stranger who offered to click my pictures. I feel good!

an excerpt from my caption on Instagram

In my first post, I fleetingly mentioned some of my favourite haunts such as the park with the friendly trees aka Cornwall Park and the Ferry Building. For today’s post, I’ll let my pictures do the talking.

These are a few pictures from an astronomical collection that continues to grow with each passing day.

Bombay watched me grow into a carefree child doted on by her grandparents.

Pune witnessed me brave adolescence – my first bout of period cramps, my first heartbreak, my first panic attack, the grief of losing my grandparents, the heartache associated with losing your loved ones to distance or/and irreconcilable differences – and my metamorphosis into an anxious young adult who found love by serendipity , a post-grad degree (in a course she truly enjoyed) and her first job unexpectedly. Pune watched me endure a flurry of disappointing circumstances coupled with the intense anxiety of having overstayed in one place for too long. Finally, she watched me arrive at a solution – the resolve to leave the comforts of a home life and carve a new one for myself.

Auckland observes me navigate adulthood, easing me into it with her quiet charm.

A change of thought

I’m sitting here in the computer lab, thinking about the school reunion slated this Sunday.  The distraction is real – I have actually minimized the dull terminal box with various scripts running on it. Fortunately,  I am seated away from my colleagues and I’m quite thankful that they won’t be able to steal surreptitious glances at my monitor.  Whew!

I feel guilty about wasting work hours over my blog that has been neglected for quite sometime now – possibly more than a year. But, the only solution for my mind-diarrhea is to excrete it here on this white space. Apologies for my graphic choice of words!

I don’t know what made me RSVP to the event. When I first saw the page on Facebook, I promptly scrolled past it, not bothering to read details. When it popped up again on my feed a few days later, I went ahead and clicked on it. A bunch of batch-mates I barely know had liked the only post displayed on the page.  I contemplated on ticking the box titled “Interested” on an event poll located below the post but then decided against it. It would make sense to first check with three of my friends who have stuck with me since school-days.

Pat came the reply on the WhatsApp group that we are a part of .

“Nope. I’d give this a miss,” said S.

I get her discomfort on attending social gatherings full of several unknown or barely-known faces. That I wanted to attend this reunion in spite of having been a nobody in school did seem unusual. When A declined my offer, I re-considered my decision. In fact, talks about the reunion triggered some unpleasant school memories. Clearly, this was a bad idea.

I had almost forgotten about it until I casually let the question slide into a conversation with another friend who happens to be my schoolmate. Her reaction was equally predictable, considering the uncanny similarities in our school experiences. Being awkward background characters, we had watched the popular kids bask in the glory of the limelight. Jeez, I sound bitter. I guess the onus had equally been on us to take charge of ourselves and participate in school events. A part of me would have definitely enjoyed the adulation of teachers and friends, had I not been crippled by self-doubt for the most part of my teenage. Our school did propagate a toxic competitive culture amongst us girls.  All in all, our discussion had me convinced that the reunion would unnecessarily engender distressing thoughts about the past.

Fast forward to last night, I stumbled upon that intrusive page on my feed again. This time I lingered. The list of attendees had markedly increased and it mainly comprised acquaintances and some unfamiliar names – those from the Boys’ Section, the ones I have no idea about to this date. The Boys’ Section has always been the Forbidden Forest of our school. There were strict rules to be followed and consequences that rule-breakers had to face. From what I recollect, a bunch of girls would stealthily hang out with members of this region in undisclosed locations. Back then, Facebook was the only portal into such meetings and parties which were rather fancy affairs.  These were the ways of the elite I suppose, as most of the partakers weren’t financially inconvenienced. Those were my days of being a novice at social media stalking or researching as I termed it. I would scroll through scores of pictures of my posh batch-mates in their cutesy dresses, tank tops and slim fit jeans, sipping juice, hand in hand with pubescent boys. A part of me desperately craved to suspend my middle-class values, orthodontic braces and bell-bottom jeans and embrace this hip lifestyle with cute boys, indulgent parents and copious monthly allowance.  My life seemed to follow the trajectory of a typical American teenage drama that would ultimately culminate in a big prom. No guesses for what would have happen there – I would meet the love of my life!  Little did I know that I would voluntarily skip the prom aka my tenth grade after-party, only to meet my love (an alumnus of the Boys’ Section) six years later at a party, albeit one that was low-key.

Naturally, given my expertise in social media groundwork,  I sneaked up on some profiles to familiarize myself with new faces. My boyfriend was quite unhelpful with divulging information about his school days because to him those held no significance whatsoever. My handsome K is very much like me in this aspect – he was a reticent kid.  In a way, this whole exercise did seem absurd and unfruitful. I don’t comprehend my ferreting tendencies and curiosity about individuals who were (and probably are) unaware of my existence. Anyway, after a quick mental debate I messaged Sa asking her to accompany me to the venue Sunday. She miraculously agreed and I finally had my way. For all my unsavory opinions on school, the hypocrite in me does want to be there to gauge how everyone has turned out to be. To see whether the bully is still a bully, whether the all-rounder is still ruling the roost.

Ever since I’ve impulsively RSVP’ed, my mind has been fraught with a flurry of anxious thoughts and questions, the first one being, why in the world am I so compelled to attend this reunion? K being a man of few words, puts it succinctly – it’s just a matter of one night that will be forgotten within a week. He is absolutely correct, but I’m never going to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he is right.

I have already begun to rummage through my cupboard to assemble an outfit that will suit the occasion which quite obviously reeks of sophistication. Maybe I’ll go with soft smoky eyes to complement my look. Heck, my make-up skills are quite good. This anxiety associated with choosing a chic attire is way too familiar. How many times had I questioned my sartorial choices during them school days?

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Blast from the past : This was snapped right before my school farewell party

So why am I attending this reunion?

Sa echoes my sentiments – “Hahaha, curiosity and to rub our happiness in people’s faces.”

Do I really want to rub my happiness in people’s faces and be vindicated? There’s no discrete answer to this. My mother is of the opinion that my confidence waned after having joined this school. Back in Bombay, I was a carefree kid who studied in a simple co-educational environment. There had been no pressure to perfect my English speaking skills or to ogle at boys through rose-tinted glasses. I was good at art and music. I could wear anything and not feel shy about my lanky body. However, everything changed after we moved to Pune.

To make up for my lack of participation in cultural programs and debates, I would cook-up scenarios in my head. Usually, I would visualize myself to be quite popular, extremely smart, displaying my talent in music, dance, debate, you name it, before a huge audience. I imagined myself to be an ace guitarist. Teachers liked me and spoke highly of me to my parents. In this parallel world, I was a part of the elite group with friends from the forbidden part of the school.

Of course, the reality was anything but pleasant. I suffer from mild social anxiety, the roots of which trace back to high school. I was used to being overlooked by my own classmates, to being one of the last ones to be picked in the basketball team. My seniors in the school bus were bullies and had no shame in “taking my case”.  My grades dropped when I was in the tenth grade. I could have never imagined that I would start my own blog because I sucked at writing essays.  Heck, I doubt if my teachers remember me. Aye, I have gone ahead and thrown myself a pity party here. But some background is necessary to show you the absurdity of my decision to attend this party on Sunday.

The answer to my question is glaringly obvious. I’m dying to see where I stand amongst these girls and boys – now women and men. To prove to myself that I’m somebody and that I will be no longer intimidated by them.

It’s strange. I am, of course, in a much better place now as compared to where I was aged fifteen. I am grateful for the people in my life, the ones who know me in and out and take me the way I am. I know that I don’t need to prove a point to anybody.

You may think I’m being petty and counter-productive, as this may only fuel my insecurities further. There are bound to be people who are doing better than me. And not all my school-mates were terrible. I can still change my mind and cancel plans. Why go out of my way to prove a point to those who have no inkling whatsoever about my intentions?

Figuring myself out is so hard sometimes. But it’s okay, I’ll go with my impulses for once.

Curiosity may have killed the cat but I’m willing to risk it this time.

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Circa 2016 : The lasting effects of puberty. It did me a good turn.

Nothing

Dear Diary,

Life can be a sadist. Two months ago, I was confident about securing a good job in my field in spite of having been rejected by a bunch of recruiters. I heeded all advice given to me about life as a fresh graduate, about how employers can be assholes and how things take their own course in the ‘real world’. Now, I don’t give a shit. There’s no motivation. Nothing seems to be working. I lost a great position at the university to a batch mate, a good pay and all that jazz. Moreover, the professor at NCL seems to have withdrawn the position for a project fellow; another opportunity I was counting on. Wait, there’s more. Today, Amma’s friend urged me to apply as a freelance science writer in a  well-known company. After having entered my details in an online form, I was directed to a test that lasted for forty mins. I received the results immediately. I opened it eagerly only to be greeted by disappointment, once again.

Though I am surrounded by positive people, I am having a hard time believing them. There’s the motherly pep talk from Amma’s end, which usually ends with “something good is awaiting me in the near future.”  Amma, I appreciate your concern but sometimes the uncertainty can be overwhelming. My boyfriend is great, really, but his idea of consoling involves being blunt. “There’s a right time for everything. Maybe, your friend had the luck.” True. He did. “You gotta stop helping people out. Get your shit sorted. Stop sharing career-related information among your friends. No one cares about your interests. Just stop being so nice all the time and focus on yourself.” Okay, being selfish would do more good than harm in this case, except I find it hard to say no or refuse favors.

I haven’t been wasting time. I balance my time between my so-called extended-dissertation and my close-knit social circle. I have enrolled for online classes that will coach me for the National Eligibility Exam (NET). I meditate. I get drunk occasionally. I give makeovers to my friends. I play the guitar. I read (sometimes). But, I also write mails to recruiters, hoping they’d reply but knowing that’s a long shot. There are times I crib to a friend who sails the same boat. Misery does love company.

“I’m feeling like shit dude. My friend got the job I wanted.”

“Fuck.”

“I don’t have the motivation to do stuff. No one cares in this real world. You need references. You need placements. You’re stuck as a fresher.”

“This all like a test you know for adulthood..it’s full of these waiting periods and anticipation. You’re going to be fine. I know saying it isn’t helping you right now. But you still need to know.”

I miss college. I miss not worrying about stuff like this. I miss being carefree. Adulthood is a mess.

I can’t wait for this phase to end. I hope it’s a damn phase. I hope I’m worth it.

January musings

Dear Diary,

I prefer diary to blog because the former lends a personal touch to a virtual space and sounds less absurd than the latter when preceded by “Dear”. Anyway, I feel motivated enough to write to you today. It’s probably owing to all the reading I’ve been up to lately, and more so to do with Chbosky’s lucid style of writing in “Perks of Being a Wallflower”, that I’m currently hooked to (for a second time).

January is about to end soon and that amazes and disappoints me simultaneously. I can’t lay a finger on what exactly disappoints me about the month ending so soon, but I’m amazed because it feels like I bid 2015 goodbye just yesterday. This month was headlined by a memorable industrial visit to Bangalore and some unexpectedly good academic grades. I feel rejuvenated and happy with myself (which isn’t something I feel too often). Moreover, somewhere in my heart I wish to go back to this city, despite its loathsome traffic and pollution.

It’s the 26th of January today, and I was almost inclined to catch the annual Republic Day celebrations in my locality. But, I ended up missing it thanks to my poor timing and equally pathetic decision making skills. I don’t know if I’ll be home around this time, next year. It’s a bittersweet contemplation laced with relief. A part of me has been growing intolerant of the excruciating familiarity around me which includes my surroundings. It has been gradually preparing me to handle change. Another part of me still refuses to let go of the comforts of living at home and demanding filter coffee on a whim. And as cliched as this sounds, only fate will decide what it has in store for me.

As mentioned earlier, I’ve been reading a lot, regardless of the genre. Resuming good old reading habits is akin to meeting old friends; a phrase or a sentence is enough to infuse you with nostalgia, paving the way for old memories which otherwise lie in the nooks and crannies of your head, gathering dust. I’m beginning to appreciate the idea of Kindle though it’s no match for the texture and smell of fresh or old pages. I fervently hope this isn’t another passing phase. I don’t think I’ll ever have a problem getting attached to books. It’s people and their complexities that stress me out.  Of course they do so with my permission but I haven’t figured out a way to say no.

The sky has begun to look prettier these days, especially at around seven in the morning and at around six in the evening. There have been some days worth remembering, not particularly for an occasion but simply for the weather, like last Sunday. I spent it with Saudamini, loitering in Koregaon Park, in hopes of finding a good dress at one of the boutiques. It was one of those winter afternoons defined by a brilliant blue sky that contrasted with the glistening, sun-kissed leaves of the trees lining the lanes. Such was the bliss induced by the atmosphere that even the passivity displayed by the store owners in their attempts to cater to us couldn’t ruin it. Such days are meant for reminiscing, for listening to your favourite song and imagining yourself to be in a scene from a movie. Such days are meant for basking in the company of your close friend. Such days are meant for pausing, for being conscious of the moments that solace you.

My visits to ‘Coffee Jar’ have become regular. I don’t think I have ever frequented a cafe as much as this one. The coffee is great and the prices are affordable for someone who buys coffee as much as thrice a week. Add an occasional cheesecake or a brownie to that. I meet Saudamini very often these days. She makes me happy. I need more people like her in my life. Oh, she also has a great sense of style.

It’s funny how things change in a month. I’m quite sure my rants portray me as a sullen person. It’s true that gloom impels you to flush out your angst on a blank space. On the other hand, the vibes that a good book or a good day effuses is enough to make you spread some warmth through words.

That’s all for now. I’ll write again, soon.

Love,
Anjali

Lost

Rarely do I let myself feel vulnerable, as raw as a wound, fresh on my knee, crimson gushing out uncontrollably. Meeting you is the best worst idea, if that makes sense.

I envy you for how you feel towards me. It’s unadulterated, and so complete in in itself, minus all doubts. And look at me, I’m a mess, living in delusions trying to convince myself that everything will be okay, and that everyone’s happiness is under my control. You are right, I assume YOUR life revolves around me. That I have the power to make you or break you with my answers.

What has this come to? Years of memories and walks down the same street, drinking filter coffee, laughing and bitching over the silliest things, tears and arguments have now given way to analysis, over-thinking, facades, conscious choice of words, and doubts of having overstepped boundaries.And guilt. The guilt of having said too much. All of this coupled with the fact that you will indeed be leaving soon, and time is on your side.

I’m assuming it will be easier to move on, given the new surroundings, new people, new streets, maybe someone who could replace me. My chest hurts while I type this. I tried to give you my best, but I can’t give you everything. There’s no room for blame. But you got to give it to me for being your best confidante ever.

And there’s no substitute when it comes to you.

It’s funny how this feels like a breakup. Maybe, it’s all lost.

 

 

 

You.

Sometimes, I do think about you.

I know I should be doing so everyday, but routine beckons and sometimes it’s not so mundane as I assumed it would be. I was warned by everyone, including my so-called conscience, that I would eventually get used to your absence. Heck, I recall you told me the same. But would you be happy that it’s final happening? That I mostly don’t spend the nights thinking and worrying about you? That I have somehow learnt to accept the fact the sea would treat you properly, despite its roughness? That I have accepted that our longest conversations would last for 20 minutes? That life goes on, perfectly, might I add, when you’re not around? That I do wish to get out of this city for a while and figure my career out?That emotions don’t begin and terminate at one’s will?

If you were to read this, I’m sure you would hastily conclude that I’m falling out of love with you. And I can’t really blame you for that because what I’ve written above DOES seem so blatant. And although I choose to be honest about my anger and irritation regarding certain things, this is one of those that have been holding back. However, I want to sincerely assure you, that it’s not what you’re thinking.

There was a time when I preferred going with the conventional definition of the phrase, to be in love. That constituted a big chunk of my teenage. I was convinced that it was supposed to be all about texting day in and out, talking twice-a-day, holding hands, meeting thrice every week and going out on romantic dates. The boyfriend automatically grabbed the first position in one’s priority list, even during exams and vice verse. The list of expectations was mandatory. The boyfriend was supposed to handle my PMS and bouts of low. He was expected to reply immediately to a message. We were expected to be there for each other at a pinch.

But all bubbles burst. And this one did, when I stepped into my twenties,and then right into a long distance relationship which was never meant to be.

My perspective regarding love did change in a way, but somewhere deep down I held onto my expectations. I expected him to tick all the right boxes in my head. And when he didn’t, I resented it. I tried my best to change his ways, which was wrong because character flaws are meant to be.

I bumped into you, as fate would have it, at a party I hadn’t intended to attend in the first place. How romantically cliched! However, don’t get me wrong…I loved every bit of and I love to reminisce those ‘rosy’ days, as you like to call them. Up till that point, I had never understood the concept of chemistry. It was amazing, to say the least. I assumed it was temporary, but you were relentless. I could only pretend to avoid your attention, yet crave for it in its absence. Those messages via social media could have been easily brushed off, and “not another long distance relationship” could have easily been cited as a reason to end it, right there. You would have gradually faded from the picture, and life would have gone on. But I lingered, and I don’t regret it till date.

I don’t regret anything but I’m afraid I’m trying to make you tick all the right boxes in my head. A year and a half has been partially easy and partially difficult to figure you out. I have always steered towards them introverts, and this time it’s not different – you reveal bits of yourself after long intervals. I would like to believe that you completely trust me but I know that’s a lie and I don’t blame you, because I do have a few shenanigans to my credit. I am sorry. Moreover, you and I are poles apart. You say opposites attract but sometimes I feel we are too far apart to be pulled towards each other at various levels. A simple thing as your taste in music irks me, what about the rest? You say everything has a way of working itself out. You have accepted me in spite of me being a volatile, emotional and an occasional nag of a girlfriend whilst I’m having a hard time reciprocating that acceptance. You like Nescafe and I like filter coffee. You love staying home while I’d love to get out for hours together. Friends are not your thing, whilst I enjoy their company and love making new ones. The list is endless. Why do these differences bother me so much? Why can’t I just be satisfied instead of always wanting more?


I wrote this two months ago and let it rot in the Drafts folder.

I’m always thinking about you. Even though I think I don’t. If you were to read this, you would be confused. And how can I blame you for that?

It bothers you that I’ll bask in the attention showered upon me by other members of your sex.  I can’t stop those compliments. It feels nice to have my hair and smile noticed, but it makes a big difference when you say I’m beautiful. Why can’t you say that often?

Your visit this time was a whirlwind. Why, we were just laughing uncontrollably over the silliest of things on Thursday. I couldn’t stop giggling because your stubble tickled my face. We quarreled like children, and you’d blame for being a drama queen. My tantrums lasted until I saw your face. You were aggravating at times, but it doesn’t matter. I’m a different person when you’re around. The nights are peaceful, when I know that, for a change, you’re only a few miles away from me instead of a thousand.

I love gifting you stuff. I enjoy flaunting my creativity when it comes to making them. But I’m worried that I’m overwhelming you with too many memories. I don’t know if you are used to having them turn into nightmares when life takes a nasty course. What if this post along with you is all just another phase? That’s frightening. I’m tired of phases. I want something that lasts, and I know you’d agree with me on this one.

It’s been 14 hours since you left and I’m miserable. I’ll miss hearing your voice everyday. I’ll miss being that person I am, when I’m with you.

See you soon.