Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Glorious Facade of Blame Transference

These days, one thing has become very evident to me. As a species, mankind is prone to this very short sighted, self damaging and fatalistic problem of blame transference. And it's done smoothly, gloriously, a face so elaborate that you will fall straight for it. It makes you believe, for decades at a time, that the problem lies outside.

Here are a few examples of blame transference:

- The glass broke.
VS
- I broke the glass.

- He hurt me, all men are horrible.
VS
- I let myself get hurt, I must work on positive preservation skills that make me stronger/more flexible without branding and alienating half the human population.

- She is so immature.
VS
- She is learning, hopefully, she will get there.

- Religion is the root of all evil.
VS
- what some people have turned religion into is so evil.

- She was so mean to me, she abused me all my life, and so I have a passport to spewing ill about her for the rest of my life.
VS
- She was mean to me, she abused me but I am learning to protect myself now and I will focus attention on what nourishes me for the rest of my life.

- This country is so racist.
VS
- There are instances of racism here but there's also good stuff happening. Maybe I can be part of the solution.

- This country is going to the dogs.
VS
- There are problems in this country but there's also good stuff happening. Maybe I can be part of the solution.

When you transfer blame, you make a generic, sweeping statement where the blame rests with a grey, shifting mass of ideas or concepts or groups that takes attention away from you. It also takes away responsibility. Along with the loss of responsibility comes the loss of power. You end up looking like a screaming, helpless human being who has been cornered into tolerating something offensive.

Which is not the case. It is hardly, if ever, the case.

Let's be a little careful with this thought process. Let's compose our sentences carefully. Let's think about the voices we are seeking in. And if you can use your voice to bring positive thoughts, words, deeds, then make it heard. Otherwise, silence has always been golden.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

The Analogy Of Pain

Writing after long. Making no excuses.

Yesterday, I heard the Master give an analogy of pain to an audience. He was in Russia and he guided the world's largest online meditation webcast. They say 140 countries participated. And right after the short ten minute meditation, he said this about pain and suffering - not quite in that exact same language but it's the essence:

You are magnanimous, your consciousness is meant for bigger things, larger perspectives. So when you try to bring it down to small things and a limited perspective, it causes you suffering. Much like a human being trying to squeeze through the vents instead of using the door.

It made sense.

He also said, for the very first time, that meditation will give you not just a strong body and mind but also make you self-reliant. This is vital to me. I have always looked for approval and guidance, support and consolation from my mother. Depended on it, in fact. Over the last one year, as she withdrew it, I have learnt to let go of my need for those things. I am not saying I am completely there but I know, now, that I cannot keep asking for those things. This whole process over a year and a half has made me see, finally, that I need to first look to myself, to my Master, for guidance, support, learning.

I cannot fixate on one person when I have an entire universe to gather my lessons from - use the door, not a vent or a cat flap.

PS: I am going to be using this blog to record learnings for myself, much like I use my food blog to record recipes and techniques for myself.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Going Under The Knife

I had my LASIK last Sunday. 28th June. I had consciously not done any research on it. I have been visiting a clinic for the last eleven years now for all my eye care needs and they have always been so good, I just implicitly trusted them.

It made me think of how there are very few things I implicitly trusted. An eye clinic happens to be one of them. And that's okay. They were, after all, going to cut through my cornea. I trusted my doctor, didn't ask who would operate on me, was told I'd have the best and that it would be alright. I trusted that. I did no background reading. I went forth like a child that had been told by a parent that everything would be okay.

And everything was.

I had a doctor from heaven. He made me internalise consent, resolve realism. He also offered to sing to me in case it got to disorienting. I politely refused, having no idea what he must sound like. He walked me through the whole process, displayed an acute sense of why this surgery was vital to me. It was not a simple LASIK like most people undergo. It had a certain complication which doubled the time I spent under the laser beam and also effectively doubled my recovery time. I don't remember the last time I was so tangibly taken care of by another han being.

This doc is my new hero. I'll probably never see him again and that's okay. His assistant doctor was an equal gem. P noted how they all seemed evolved and surreal. Almost unreal. Not complaining. A bit of surreal evolution is just what I needed. And man, was I glad I did not research h the process. While the procedure remains painless as it is carried out, the things you perceive are deeply disorienting and I am fairly sure had I known what I'd experience, I might have chickened out. And it was not even painful. It was just perceived...shock, I'd say.

Anyway. I am recovering. It's been four days and I am apparently healing fast. The only thing I have started using is the phone on level 1 brightness. I still cannot stand reading & the television. I also bought the most expensive UV protected sunglass I can afford because it will help me heal faster over the next several weeks.

Lots has happened that I have not recorded on this blog but I am sure I can do a few trips down memory lane posts to cover it all.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Being Ridiculously Lucky

Several holy texts will tell you that you must be extremely lucky, practically swimming in divine grace to meet your master while He is still alive. He will not show you the path, He will not walk your way for you but He will help you uncover what you have forgotten about yourself. He will basically come polish your mirror so you can gaze into who you are.

And we love these words while they remain words, no more. Should they unfold in real life, we will doubt the hell out of our situation, all good words and commandments forgotten.

We like our grace coming from masters posthumously, after all, don't we? Who trusts people these days anyway? We won't let strange people smile at us without doubting their motives, a master is surely a far cry! Imagine a real life Donald Shimoda. And he may not even fit your definition of a master in the conventional sense. Or he may be as conventional as can possibly be, crushing your hipster expectations. Sorry, no plane flying. But maybe rudraksh mala wielding. Then what?

A master has zilch to gain from turning you into a devotee. And a master need not even fit your idea of what a master should be to flip your life around. Because remember how Eklavya mastered his art? We think very little of Dronacharya as a master - terrible guy. And yet, if it were not for him, would we have known that supreme archer at all?

I have known my master for fifteen years now. And it's taken me fifteen years to ask him how I can be of use to him. And it's taken fifteen years for me to hear a real, direct answer on what could possibly lie ahead of me should I choose to walk down that path. And of course, I have already chosen. You do not ask "how can I be useful to you?" with total surrender unless you have already readied yourself to be hauled into a life that you cannot plan for.

That's the thing about plans; they do not factor in the unexpected. And masters are ridiculously unexpected. Being ridiculously lucky to have a living master basically says in fine print that you are now open to the absolute unexpectedness of life and learning.

Friday, 1 May 2015

The Things I Have Learnt

I have recently been told by somebody who I deem is important to me that I am as tarnished as everybody else. It was meant as an insult. As an attack. It was meant as a reminder that I am fallible. I am happy to report that I have long since accepted my fallibility as a human being, a sister, a daughter, a wife, a girlfriend, a friend, and every other role one can think of. I have even been a most disappointing audience once, when I fell asleep and may have snored a little during a grand musical performance everybody else seemed to be enjoying. I have been a disappointing trainee on more than one occasion, when I failed to lift a weight my trainer felt I could lift.

I am comfortable with disappointing people now. Not because I am a disappointment. But because I have long since accepted that I cannot be perfect, I do not want to be perfect. I am happy to hobble along my way through life, making my mistakes and figuring out my own learnings. It is so much better to do that than borrowing learnings.

Borrowing learnings is a dangerous job. You read stuff, you hear stuff and you then start quoting that stuff. Call it self help, spirituality, psychoanalysis, whatever. But soon enough, you start believing you know the stuff you perceived. Nope.

Knowing comes from living through experiences. Or knowing comes from complete empathy and faith. Complete empathy that if a movie can scare the pants off somebody else, it could do that to you too, and then deciding if you want your pants scared off you. Is that a good example? Perhaps not. Complete empathy that if people say they feel mildly sick after being force-fed curd rice, they are probably not lying, and instantly offering them a steaming hot plate of Medu Vadas. Complete faith that sticking your hand in fire will give you a horrid burn, even if you have never done it before. Learning from complete empathy and complete faith saves us a lot of time. For instance, you need not know the exact principles of how electricity works for the fan to start rotating when you switch it on.

Everything else is borrowed. Borrowed learning is pointless because it creates this illusion that you know, deep inside, when actually, all you know is the definition.

All I have learnt on my own is that I must take care of my body, and my body feels good when my mind is at peace. I know that when my mind is at peace, I am a more effective, productive, happy person. I know the people I love and who love me back, irrespective of my journeys and the milestones on it.

I know that I must get enough sleep, that I love good music, that silence is precious. I know that people just want to be heard. Not everybody is looking for a solution. I have learnt it's easy to be nice. I have learnt to be happy at silly things. I have learnt that I cannot base my life on feelings because they change; I therefore stick to my commitments. I have learnt that I do not have to make commitments just because I am expected to do so.

I have learnt that doing things you want to do is one way to be at peace inside. I have learnt that if you wait for universal agreement, you will be waiting an eternity. I have learnt that sometimes, the universe is one person.

I have learnt that death is coming for me, sooner or later. I have learnt that the idea of never seeing a loved one again is the sort of wound that never closes, whether you pick at the scabs or not.

I have often felt ridiculously lucky.

I know that a good cry helps as much as a hearty laugh.

I know no more. And dear universe, everything you throw at me, I shall tackle with the knowledge I have learnt. I am hopeless at using borrowed knowledge, I have learnt this too. Mostly, dear self, just focus on being at peace with how you live your life. I am not the authority on this but it seems to me that that sums it up.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Today.

I want to write about today. I will try to not be too verbose, as is my tendency. Mostly because I have no time, I have 19 assignments to look through and prep for an early morning. I need to get this out of my system.

See what I mean? I love being verbose, going into details that have no connection to what I am about to write down here.

I woke up ridiculously early of my own accord, suffocating. I realised the man had forgotten to keep a window open. I got up, drenched in my own perspiration. I could not go back to sleep for forty five minutes. I looked through Twitter and thumbed through Facebook. I thought about dad. I thought about calling mom (she is talking to me again, although on a need to converse basis - it's still an improvement) to tell her how I had woken with a fresh surge of sorrow over his death, fifteen years later, after being convinced that I was over his passing.

You never get over a loved one's passing. You just learn to cope with it.

I thought about dad. I thought about how I often felt that if he came back, I'd adjust badly to him. I am no longer an entity controlled by a parent and a parent's set of rules. And he'd adjust badly to who I have become. But today, I thought, what if he changed. What if, hanging pointlessly around in his spirit body had taught him a few things and what if he came back and he was awesome and loved who I had become, let mom be who she is now? What if?

Those are pointless "what ifs".

I will never know. I cried myself to sleep. I wept into the man's shoulder while he slept and decided to tell him it was perspiration - it was, after all, his fault I had woken up in the first place.

There is no peace. There is no justification. No conclusion that ties in the story nicely at the end. Nothing at all.

The man isn't keeping too well. It makes me very scared when he is unwell. I get crabby, angry, task masterish. Anybody else and I would care for them like a nurse if they were sick but if it's him, I lose my balance. I worry 24/7, it's like a niggling thing at the back of my mind and taints everything I do and think until he gets better. I took a huge decision to let him be at home and sleep it out while I went out to meet a few friends over lunch.

I didn't want to do it. But I knew it was precisely what I had to if I wanted the man to stop feeling bad about falling sick and keep myself from worrying in vain.

I met some very good friends. It was ridiculously hot. We had fun. I was supremely relieved to get home. I usually do public transport, jumping buses, trains, rickshaws - today, I just gave up and booked a cab and took a rik all the way back home. Paid 200 bucks for it, a fare I have never paid in my entire life for a rickshaw ride, but I was having a weird-horrid-good day. Anything could happen.

The icing on the horrid part of my day came in the evening, a few hours ago, when a pal and work associate called to talk about a project. During our conversation, said person hinted at how a project we were meant to be working on together never quite took off because apparently, "you are content staying at home". I was stumped. People do not know what I do and that is okay. I may be at home but I have the most insane work schedule a work from home person can ever have. I make money. I pay my own bills. I do not sit at home and vegetate. Even if I did, and I think its okay to vegetate, big deal...even if I did, it'd be nice if people checked their facts before taking that sort of tone. Hell, ask me if you cannot find out on your own, I will oblige very willingly.

I do not need to prove my productivity to anybody. I am what I am and I am proud of where I am because I got here on my own, nobody pulled strings for me. It just felt...wrong, coming from somebody who I considered a close pal.

I am exhausted.

I also took a whole branch of curry leaves from my plant just now, which is, by the way, growing like it's on some sort of illegal hormone. It felt horrid to pluck the branch. In the night, that too, while it's supposed to be fast asleep. I felt like I chopped off the limb of a sleeping baby.

I feel simultaneously silly and...that's it. Just thought I'd write it down, get it out of my system.

BTW, for whoever cares to know, I started writing on medium.com about fitness. It's a clean platform and I do not have to hassle about formats. I am glad Ramya introduced me to it.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Don't Even Know What To Title This

I have had this annoying feeling of distress around travelling for a while now. I love my travels, I love holidays but in general, there is a sense of unease surrounding it for a while now.

A good friend had once told me he hates travel. He hates the journey. He loves it once he gets to the place he is intending to reach but the journey itself, he says, is most tiresome. I can see that bit - travelling in India is not easy. You can paint it in quaint colours of poverty, filth, landscapes that are very pretty until you magnify your vision and see plastic fluttering from treetops, dangerously filthy public sanitation facilities or worse, none at all.

But it turns out, my problem does not even centre around the journey. Apparently, that can be handled too. What I hate is the build up. The packing. The ensuring of a pantry that's been emptied out. The locking, that worrying about "who will water my two tiny plants". That whole countdown is beyond annoying. It has often made me seriously consider calling off a travel plan altogether.

Worrisome.

And god forbid if it's a travel destination I am not looking forward to or if I am travelling to see people I am not comfortable with, all hell breaks loose inside my head.

I am in that situation right now. And it's not like I am standing on a bed of hot coals. Here I am, sitting on the edge of a strange bed hoping for some food in a place where breakfasts are not the norm.

I am so hungry right now, I don't even know how to end this post. And I miss my clean bathroom & my perfect mattress. And I miss my larder & it's stash of til laddoos :(

Monday, 23 February 2015

This One Is For You

Hey you,

I can see the cross you have been carrying around on your shoulders. A burden large enough to weigh down the act of letting go. Letting go is simple. Imagine dropping a hot potato. Plop. And you can walk away. But sometimes, we do not carry hot potatoes. Sometimes, we carry crosses we have been nailed & chained to, be it by our own shackles. And letting go can threaten to crush you under the enormous weight.

I can see that. That is no small cross. And you cannot make it go away on a paper plane.

But crosses can be bridges. They can help you bridge a vertical drop between two high cliffs, move on to the other shore, separated at the moment by a gaping hole that threatens to engulf you whole. His form of words may have been part of the cross you have to bear, perhaps for the rest of your life. But there truly is no reason why it cannot help you take flight, away from his world and ideas. Those same words, the same form of art, twisted and hurtful in his mouth, can transform to freedom and flight in yours.

Words are just the chosen weapon of choice. Words are also just the chosen form of medicine. What makes you different, stronger and beautiful is the silence in which you can etch this learning into your mind. What makes you you is that you have chosen healing over hurt. Why else would so many beautiful people find you now? Because you have made space for them to come to you.

Hey you. Like attracts like. You know where this comes from.

Saturday, 7 February 2015


I got my first ever tattoo yesterday. It was Feb 6, 2015. We started at 4.30pm. My artist's name is Sandip aka Sandy & his studio is in Mulund. I wore a pink gunjee & a shirt, denims & new sneakers. And I was accompanied by Ramya.

It took three hours.

I did not yell. I did not cry. I cringed & winced. I may have wrung Ramya's hands a few times in pain. I apologised. I swore a bit.

I have Kaali & Shiva on my left forearm.

This is real. This finally happened. I have waited almost 15 years to get a tattoo. And now, it's mine. I sometimes look down at it to check if it really happened.

I wanted a tattoo that I could see. Because I got it for myself. Putting a tattoo in a place you cannot see is the inking equivalent of choosing a career so you can flaunt it. Tattoos are for life. They are a stamp on your body. Your body is your only dependable home in this lifetime. And putting something on it for the sake of anybody but yourself is a humongous mistake.

It's barely been 24 hours and it already feels like a part of me that's always been there. A few people have asked me what it signifies. I have told them I am Bengali & we worship Kali. Most of them have accepted this as a solid reason. Only two people on this planet know the exact, completely real reason why I got this tattoo. One of them is me. The other is the man. We will probably take the reason to our funeral pyres. I told part of the reason to Ramya. Kaali has always felt like me, who I am and what I can be.

Some people have leapt up & said "hey, this is so you!" They have an idea but the real picture is a lot more esoteric.

I was very stoked about this tattoo before I got it. Several reasons; it's a sketch by one of my favourite authors & mythologists, Devdutt Pattanaik. It's Kaali. It'd scandalise my in-laws, which is a reaction I usually have a lot of fun seeing unfold. It'd also piss my mum off, which is a much more responsive reaction than ignoring me, which is what she has been doing these days. And finally, because I have always wanted a tattoo, long before it became the big rage, it felt good that I was finally gonna have my own.

By the time the day arrived, I was most solemn about the process. It felt like a very real ritual, something to be taken seriously, something to be honored, cherished & if possible, fathomed. I no longer cared about how my in-laws would react, I did not care if mum saw it, I did not bother with details. I read about precautions, saw a doc & went right ahead. I sat through the pain, penetrating through its layers, seeing it transform from just pain to wave after wave of an awareness: I have a body, it is mine, and it can transcend pain. I also realised it is possible to get addicted to pain; after a point, it feels normal, natural, like the ebb and flow of life in your veins. Is that how victims are born? I also realised there is no good pain or bad pain, just pain that you can handle & pain that you cannot. Is that how Siddhartha realised all of life is suffering?

I was getting a tattoo for me. Everything else was a by-product. I will not flaunt my tattoo. I won't wear clothing so that I can reveal it - I will wear what I feel like. I will not keep talking about my tattoo. I will treat it like a limb: a completely natural, normal part of me. Because it is.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Nature Of Forgiveness

Last night, I had a shocking glimpse at the nature of forgiveness. The problem with today's world is we have access to all these amazing quotes & books & movies with one-liners & Twitter with its smartypants tweets that blow your mind away in 140 characters. They tell us, in simple, uncomplicated ways, how forgiveness is essential. And how love is the key. And we read it all, nod in agreement, throw it into our everyday conversation to look evolved and mature.

Perhaps in this verbal storm of words, the real meaning of things slips away, unable to penetrate deep into our consciousness. And therefore, unable to become a manifest part of our character.

I have long & hard told my mother the necessity of forgiveness. Of anger that burns you while you hold onto it, causing next to no harm to the person it has been directed at. She has found it endlessly difficult to truly forgive. It has been a raging, tearing, searing battle that has lasted years and may last many more years. It turns out, my words to her are no different from the verbal storm I referred to. It turns out, I am no different. I may not have a load as heavy as hers to bear but it seems I do have my share of trauma.

I have managed to tuck it away deep inside of me, unaddressed, seeking relief every chance I get, in the form of acknowledgement & apology.

I got my apology for some of that hurt last night. And guess what? It made no difference. I now know a very scary fact: apologies do not deliver forgiveness. Forgiveness is not between two people or between groups of people. Forgiveness comes from your love for yourself. If you cherish yourself enough, you won't cherish hurt & trauma. Forgiveness is allowing yourself to be at peace with the imperfection of the past. Mostly because nothing can be changed about it anymore. But more so because hurt & trauma are things we do to ourselves by crudely accepting ideas as valid without ever testing them actively.

Did somebody crush your hopes? Did somebody who you thought loved you not cherish you when you most needed it? Did somebody not come & stand up next to you when you were in danger of tipping over?

It turns out, nobody is obliged to be anything to us. Nobody. Except us. We, alone, are obliged to protect ourselves. People do love you. But people will never love you the way you love yourself. And people will never love you according to your definition of complete, absolute, true love. They will do it their way, while balancing their own life & purpose, flawed & marred by their own concepts & emotions & shortcomings. Just like we all do.

It turns out, forgiveness is accepting that only you can truly love yourself.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Being Afraid

Being afraid is okay.

For somebody who spends life being very brave and taking most things head on, being afraid takes a lot of courage. Being able to tell yourself that you are scared of something is a big deal. And I don't quite mean being scared of insects or falling or an injection.

Being afraid means that you value fear. You therefore value life. And fear is essential to survival.

An author once wrote that vertigo is not the fear of heights. Vertigo is the desire to fall. And therefore, fear of heights is an essential quality to garner.

I am afraid of my upcoming surgery. It's going to make things exponentially easier once I heal but nonetheless, while I do, it will hurt. They will keep my eyes open and I will probably not see but I will know in the rest of my body that my eyes are being operated. And I will take 3-4 days to recover, perhaps a week.

The fear of this happening at a very foreseeable future has made me careful. I am putting my businesses in order before this happens. I am figuring ways out to make sure things are fairly smooth for me and for the man while I undergo surgery and then recover.

And I have friends who have promised to call and come over and read. I am going to try audiobooks because I will not be allowed into sunlight, read, get on the phone, laptop or even see TV.

It will be a real vacation with absolute dependence.

Fear makes you accept your state of choicelessness. Fear can be good. Fear can protect.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Why I Won't Be Having Children

I have been meaning to write this post for a while. I have many reasons why I took so long to jot it down; one of them is definitely the fact that I have been keeping fairly busy and a post of this nature takes sitting down peacefully, sorting through a bagful of thoughts and selecting the ones that convey a simple message with maximum clarity. The other reason, is definitely more crucial. I had to know, deep within, that I was absolutely sure of my reasons.

I do not want to have children. Not my own, glorious and respectful as it may be considered by people who believe that motherhood completes women and is our primary function as women. Not adopted, noble though it may be considered to do so by people who talk about countless children who are abandoned or have lost their parents and need a supportive home and a family.

I do not want to have children of any kind. Oddly enough, over the last six years of being married, I have also realised that this extends to all species - I do not want pets any longer, I do not even want plants. I have two plants that are fairly no-nonsense, don't-mess-with-us-and-we'll-grow-just-fine types. And I still find them mildly burdensome. When I travel or when I have to pluck leaves from them (they are basil and curry leaf), it upsets me. I have to arrange to keep them with a friend while I am gone and by now, I have given up plucking leaves from them.

I can only nurture and care for two people on a long term, bordering on all-my-life basis; myself, and my husband, who has never felt burdensome. That's probably because I chose to be with him with complete awareness and choice. And if you know me, you know that I may take forever to make decisions but I do not backtrack on them once they have been made. This decision to not have children took me a long time to make.

I got married fairly early and a lot of my friends who attended my wedding kept saying how it's almost baal-vivaah. It was not. I was 23. The man was 27. And it felt right because we both knew we'd eventually marry each other , no matter how long we had dated. We had been dating for 10 months when we got married.

We had a tumultuous first year of being married. We lived in a horrible house with water supply and electricity issues in a run down neighbourhood in Hyderabad. I was having some troubles with my new role in Hyderabad with an annoying peer and an unsupportive, overbearing boss. We had a pregnancy scare.

My mom in law was living with us for the first two months and while her intention was to be helpful and get us settled, god bless her soul, it turned out to be stressful and annoying to say the least. I was from a different language group, region & the mmum-in-law & I had entirely different worldviews.

We had no bed, no dining table, no washing machine. I hated the food because my in-laws cook rasam everyday and I cannot stand it, to put it mildly. It's food that I have when I am sick or suffering from a bad cold. The tamarind reacts badly with my skin, but that's all my mom-in-law wanted to cook. So I took on the responsibility of cooking everyday after getting home from work and the gym. I was tired everyday and cooking for three. And I had no training whatsoever in cooking, just a widely exposed palette - this and my sense of symmetry kept the rotis round and my cooking balanced. Recipe books were my refuge and they worked most times.

My own mom adjusted very badly to my going away, officially. We were close and she felt abandoned. Eventually, we moved out and rented us a penthouse that we loved, built a simple home that catered to our simple needs and before we knew it, we had been married for a year. That's when it all started. The calls from in-laws, mostly, hinting at when we'd hand deliver the proverbial good news. I felt young, confused and it suddenly dawned on me that marriage also meant family and that included child-rearing, something I had never seriously considered. Our friends and family were popping babies at an alarming rate and the whole "you are next" sword hung over our heads precariously. We panicked and decided we'd revisit this possibility later. We were, after all, young enough.

But as that year passed, I started feeling deeply anxious about this ticking clock. People will tell you all the time that your biological clock is ticking. Guess what else is ticking? Your life clock. You could die any minute. I have lost friends my age and even younger for the most flippant reasons - poisoning by pest control, asthma attack, electrocution and even getting run over by a bike. That clock keeps ticking too. But I digress. The calls continued, going from teasing and light hearted to urgent and disapproving. Anxiety continued to rise like bile inside me. I started keeping an eye out for couple without children, couples who had been married for a while. I was disappointed. Most couples without children were the ones incapable of conceiving because of a variety of medical reasons.

Meanwhile, over the course of 3-4 years, we had had several chances of visiting multiple relatives and seeing their families in action; children being born, elders dying, nurturing roles and the idea of responsibility and care playing out in a very tangible way. Until a month ago*, I had not met a single family with children that was essentially happy. I do not mean "not having problems and therefore happy". I mean "having problems but essentially happy at the core". I started noticing parents who had had children because it was the essential next step. Parents had children because of accidental pregnancies. Parents had children because they thought it'd save their marriage and relationship. Parents who had children because their in-laws pressurised them to have children.

And I saw the children. They knew they were not wanted. I am sorry to burst your bubble but children are extremely perceptive, pure beings, not yet tampered with the pessimism that marks our lives. They are, I feel, adults in small bodies with an acute sense of intuition, all bundled together with innocence. I saw children who had grown up to inherit their parents faults and flaws, resenting their parents for it yet dependent on them. It is an insidious circle and it reeks of unhappiness.

It was then that I started turning to answers from philosophy. There is enough ancient wisdom on this planet that we can tap into for guidance and clarity if you allow yourself to draw your own conclusions. I turned to books, art, music, the internet and started actively searching on one simple question: Is it okay to not want children? That was when I stumbled upon the #Childfree movement. It's global and I'd like you you to do your own research and draw your own conclusions. I did not want it to become "my thing" the way people adopt labels like "feminism" or "gay pride", inheriting a collective body of pain and hate mongering. In essence, the idea gets lost and you are left with a bunch of very angry people who refuse to move with the flow of life and time. Btw, I am very supportive of gay rights because it is, essentially, human rights. And I am a very real feminist.

Over the next two years, I came to peace with my thought process. I had never wanted or desired children and I was done allowing people to shame me, guilt me and take control over my desires and needs. I decided to tell people, freely, that I did not want children. I often got responses like " Oh, maybe you want to focus on your career, or maybe you should channel your energy into art, music, come for plays." This was, of course, better than hearing "Oh, you will feel like it soon enough, tick tock!"

But here's the thing. I am not a career focused person. I am a life focused person. I love my husband and I want to spend a good amount of time with him. I want to be able to sit back and watch the clouds drift. I like travelling once in a while, I love to cook for the husband and for friends. I love dressing up, eating good food, meeting my friends and living in a city that leaves you alone because it is impossibly crowded and fast. I love reading and occasionally, I paint.

I do not have to overcompensate by forcing myself to express my creativity just because I refuse to procreate. I have a simple project. I want to outgrow my families' deficiencies. If I am able to overcome oversensitivity to loved ones and a short temper, all products of my childhood, which was, by the way, a good one - I just had fiery parents - I will have succeeded. I will have not passed them on to my children because I won't have any. And I will not have unleashed individuals with issues onto this planet. That will be my kind deed, my stamp on this world.

Some of my friends and folks feel I hate children. They could not be more sorely mistaken. I love children. Enough to not want to destroy them. I hate parenting. I am somebody who likes doing a good job at whatever I take up. That includes making myself into the best possible version of myself. It's what my life is all about and will continue to be so. And yes, I am no longer going to lie to my folks about what my intentions are. They can stop waiting for us to announce their version of a good news and continue to get on with their lives.

PS: If you or anybody you know is struggling with the idea of going #Childfree, ask them to connect with me. I am not a counsellor but I can be a friend and a listening ear.

*I met a family a month ago. They may not be perfect but they both deeply want their child. I could sense it, I could taste it in the room. I knew this child was lucky to have come to a family that would nurture her, let her grow, let her fly and would never clip her wings with a limited world view. They would place their trust first in her and then listen to the world. They would treat her like an adult in a small person body, intelligent, beautiful and packed with potential greatness. Most importantly, they would protect her. It's parents like these that deserve to have children. I hope you are reading this, Reena, Melroy and Tara.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

2015 Has Been Nice

Like I won one of those Twitter contests, something that happens so rarely to me. And I bought some very funky earrings, one of them being a structural line design of the Eiffel Tower. I bought yellow and light blue nail colour and surprise, surprise, they agree with me and I don't look like a hillbilly. Maybe if all goes well, I will have my first Mac lip colour in a few weeks.

Gym is still a place I love being in. What's even better? We have a bunch of new trainers and they are all task masters. Beasts! So awesome, this means they are going to poke their nose into my every circuit and correct even the slightest of mistakes and make sure there is next to no injury and I will keep getting better and better and in form. Neat!

I have been baking again. After a long gap, of course. Mostly because winter is a lovely time and the oven does not feel like a furnace as much as a comforting heater in the kitchen and there's so many fruits to experiment with. I am still continuing to meet lots of friends this year, which is always a good thing. I threw out some clothes, which is never an easy thing for me to do - I tend to keep them until they absolutely go to pieces. Bad idea. So now I have a huge sack full of clothes that aren't that old and in fairly decent shape but I am done with them so they are all going to charity. Same for books - I am over some books so it's goodbye to them too. This also means extra space. Yay!

I had conducted a webinar in December which went horribly and resulted in some very upset audience members and an even more upset me. I decided to blame it on the system (which was definitely a major cause for the collapse, useless piece of crap, Windows) and the coordinator and to some extent on myself. I decided it was not worth the effort, trying to teach a subject as technical as SEM to a bunch of total novices on a webinar format where communication is so severely limited. But then, a peer and senior told me to do it just once and do it well. Taming a dragon, he called it. Just so I could look back and have no regrets. He told me to do it once and do it well and then never do it again. If nothing else comes out of it, personal growth shall. I agreed. I am in the middle of this webinar series now and I think I am good! My audience is learning quickly and the teaching is fun, they are interactive and we are clearing questions. Dragons are being tamed!

I also attended a very short session that Ramya was conducting with a bunch of college kids. It helped to see things from their perspective, because personally, I feel that is one of the toughest types of audience one can encounter. They want answers but are easily bored, they know they don't know that much about the real world and yet, here they are, on the brink of adulthood, fresh from the trials of childhood and it's an odd mix of freedom and cluelessness. They want to say they are scared and lost and unsure but they are not going to do it because they just got out of the total parental trap of being told that they are scared and lost and unsure. I should be talking heaps more to that sort of a group. They want to be shown the way without feeling like they are being guided again.

Dear lord, am I glad I am not in that age group anymore!

The man is playing a lot more tennis and keeps asking me if I am unhappy that he keeps going off on weekends and on some days of the week to play. Honestly, I am not. I do miss having him around all day on weekends but I also have tons of my own things to finish and he looks so happy post game. So I think we will manage. At least with this arrangement, he's getting in some much needed physical activity.

Also, I ate an egg today. After what must be...umm...years. I have eaten eggs in desserts, caramel custards and challahs but you know, a standalone egg - like a sunny side up or a boiled egg or an omelette? First time today. I am still not comfortable around a runny yolk (how did I eat it everyday as a kid, still beats me) so I settled for an omelette and it tasted good. Pretty good. Of course, I drowned it in fresh basil and rosemary so maybe there's some merit to all those aromatics but hey, one step closer to quick fix breakfasts. I didn't even feel like straight bleaching my mouth post breakfast. So relieved!

I know some of you are still reading this space :) Smiles and hugs to y'all!