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Life Is One Wodehouse Story

with ups and downs and all…

Unplucked eyebrows

You know, except the four walls of my house.. Most places I visit, I am almost always bombarded with questions like the following :

Why don’t you get your eyebrows done? You’d look more feminine. More beautiful. You are twenty-five, this is high time.

(That is short for high time you look presentable because this is the time your family members and the people they know, your relatives, your neighbors and every other middle-aged Indian uncle and aunty you come across at weddings and  family functions and get togethers will be trying to find you a nice suitable boy. And apparently most nice guys go for beautiful and well groomed girls.)

Why don’t you ever wax your hands girl? It doesn’t look good if you don’t.

Why didn’t you put some lipstick? (Darned all women parties!)

Why don’t you let your nails grow, you should get a manicure.

And weddings are the worst because that’s where people judge you head to toe. ‘Such simple dress. And no eyeliner, you should try. And also, you should try a new hair cut. You always cut your hair straight… Blah..Blah..Blah..’

And this just doesn’t end.

Now honestly, who set these standards for beauty and femininity?

How do people decide who’s more feminine and who’s not?

How am I any less of a woman if I do not spend hours at a beauty salon or get my eyebrows plucked or my hands waxed? I seriously want to know!

And why should I get my eye brows done anyway? Because most women do it, so I should be doing it too is just not a convincing enough reason for me to do it. It’s like saying, you should try something because it’s in vogue and it’s fine but isn’t it more important that you like what you try, or should you just try everything simply because it’s in fashion. Or because everyone is doing it. That is stupid, guys.

Oh and waxing is excruciating, I know it because I did try it once and it was horrible. So why should I regularly be inflicting pain upon myself  just so that I am worthy enough for beautiful people’s eyes? Why?

Do I exist for other people to find me beautiful?

I don’t. Nobody should.

And let me tell you something guys. I do not have anything against people who visit beauty salons or people who are well-groomed. In fact I’d be lying if I said I’ve never used a lipstick in my life or an eyeliner. It is just that I like myself much better when I am without it. And I think what I think about myself  matters more to me than some random person I meet at a wedding. And I also hate it when people expect you to look your best at all times, because unlike some people who find it enthralling, some of us find it exhausting because it takes too much of an effort to decide the proper dress, then choose shoes that would go with it and then see if your nail polish goes with it or not, then see how you’d like to have your hair, and the list goes on. Hmpf!

As for good guys liking well-groomed girls, here’s what my friend Mukta said when I told her how my two aunts were making sure I looked my very best at my cousin’s wedding next month. She said, ‘Never settle for a guy who likes you when you look your very best’. And I couldn’t agree more!! Because hey, that is just one day, what about the remaining 364 days when I am wearing my three-fourth pants and my brother’s old t-shirts and my hair are in a tangle? Will I still be beautiful for such a guy? I think that is an important question we need to ponder  upon.

Oh and before I end this, every time someone says something mean to you about your dressing sense or the way you look, remember this quote by the very amazing ‘Rainbow Rowell’

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

That’s from her novel ‘Eleanor and Park’, it is a beautiful book. You should read it someday 🙂

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Why books..

I’ve been going through some really trying times of late and yesterday turned out to be particularly worse, so much so that after a point I just gave up and was crying my heart out when I realized something, something that I always do on a subconscious level whenever I am having a good cry.

 I was hugging a book. (My most favorite book, of course!)

And I wondered, how is it that I always manage to draw comfort from these pages with printed words on them, glued together to form these rectangle shaped things we call books. What then dawned upon me was the fact that I’d never be able to draw comfort from a human being the way I can from a book.

Why books?

Or rather why books over people?

Because books, unlike most other things, don’t change. They will always make you feel whatever they made you feel the first time you read them. They will always be who they are, wherever they are. No superficiality, no double standards. Something we could all learn I guess.

When you are with them, they are with you. They wouldn’t look at their phones to check silly notifications. But we do, I know right, stupid us!

Books don’t leave you when the road becomes hard. Or when you become dull or old or grey. They are your lifelong friends.

They’ll be there with you through thick and thin, always.

Books don’t care who their readers are. Their content wouldn’t change according to the superficial tags of caste, creed and ethnicity. They don’t give two hoots whether the reader is a man or a woman or neither. They do not discriminate.

For those of us who fear small talk, books are our true saviors. What would we do without them, God! And to think about all those long train journeys we took on our own, or the wait at the airport when the flight was late.

By the way, books are never going to throw a tantrum at you; no book is ever going to say, ‘I don’t want anyone to read me today, so kindly get lost.’ (Imagine if they did throw tantrums, boy! :p)

When disappointed with people, you can always turn to a book. In fact there’s a book for all the ills in the world.

Heartache? There’s a book to help you deal with it.

Lost and confused? There’s a book waiting for you.

Grieving the loss of a loved one? You are not alone, or so says the book.

Feeling low and dejected, here’s a book to lift up your spirits.

Happy or sad, there’s always a book for every situation.

When nothing makes sense, books do.

When you despair, they remind you there’s always hope.

When you feel lonely, books are with you.

When things don’t seem possible, books make you dwell in possibility.

Books are there with you on the darkest of nights and the brightest of days.

They are an epitome of selflessness. They are all loving and all giving. They offer you the worlds and yet bring you home at the end of the day.

Books are dreams, books are hope. They are friends who will stay.

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I wish more people were like books. Wouldn’t it be a much happier world? I dwell in that possibility. I think you should too. 🙂

 

letters

Dear Reader,

Last month I had to shift to a new place, so while packing all my stuff I came across an old treasure trove of mine. It had a few souvenirs, a dozen or so Archaeological Survey of India tickets of all the places I’d visited, handmade bookmarks from friends, handmade cards, and a bunch of letters I’d received on my birthdays over the years. And I sat down and spent a nice half an hour reading all those wonderful letters… travelling back and forth in time, reminiscing, sometimes laughing, sometimes feeling sad over the times gone by. And I wondered, why do we never write each other letters anymore? I mean why is it only on birthdays that some of us make time to write letters?  Why isn’t it a part of our lives like it was for our parents and grandparents when they were growing up?

Sure we had a lot of practice writing letters in the English class in School, but did we ever write one for real, to someone real?

People who’ve ever received a letter from friends or family when they were away from either or both would know what a beautiful feeling it is to receive a letter with your name on it, to hold it in your hands, to hug it (all the best people in the world do!) and to finally settle in a nook and read it.

It is a very happy feeling indeed.

To give you an example, last year a friend of mine came up with an idea of writing letters to another friend of ours who had recently shifted to Cochin to pursue her M.Phil and was terribly homesick, lonely and sad. I remember how those letters and the Diwali gifts we sent her worked like magic for her, I remember her saying she’d found her strength back. That she was not alone in her trials.

muks

Coming back to my question in the very first paragraph, why isn’t letter writing a part of our lives like it was for our parents and grandparents when they were growing up?

We all know what the real reason is. And if I am to be honest, the reason is pretty good and convincing too.

Welcome, Electronic mails, whatsapp, Facebook and what not.

In these times of instant gratification, where you don’t have to wait for anything, where an email gets delivered over two continents in a matter of two seconds, where Amazon can deliver you stuff you ordered in a day, where best friends are only a ping away, where you can bare your heart out over a simple message on whatsapp. Where only stupid people wait, because hey, who has the time? Such demanding jobs and such demanding social media profiles too. I am not saying social media is bad, nor am I saying that we all have lots of time at hand…all I am trying to say is somewhere along the road we have lost more than we have gained.

We have lost the magic in the ordinary.

And so last month when ‘The department of posts, Union ministry of communications, GoI’ initiated a national level letter-writing competition to revive the declining art of letter-writing, (the letter had to be addressed to ‘The Mahatma’ starting with “Dear Bapu, you inspire me”. ❤) and I could not participate as the last date was over, I thought, ha-ha, in a country of 1.324 billion people why do I have to wait for a competition to write a letter to someone?  why can’t I start right away?  And so I thought of writing this blog and involving you all in this endeavor too. Why not write a letter? Just one if you want but let’s just write. It could be to anyone, a long lost friend, siblings, parents, loved ones, childhood friends, college friends, hostel friends, and teachers, people we respect and admire, to our favourite authors, anyone! Just be sure you write it to someone who isn’t expecting it. That’s easy actually, no one’s expecting anything via post these days anyways (except our Aadhar cards maybe!), so this is a good opportunity to surprise people if we send them letters via post.

I know, all of this sounds too old school but who said old school was bad? Hell yeah, I am old school. And if you look at people when they talk to you over coffee and not in your mobile phone, then maybe you are one too and I just want to say, I am very proud of you.

Oh, and… Do write that letter. You never know whose day it might make. 🙂

uni post

Lots of love,

Ashwini

P.S. – Don’t give up on letter writing this soon, please! (:

The Sea

Virginia Woolf in her novel ‘Night and Day’ once wrote, “When you consider things like the stars, our affairs don’t seem to matter very much, do they?” I think it is pretty much the same with the sea and the mountains, much more so with the sea. ❤

So a few days back, okay it was exactly two months ago, I was supposed to write this on 5th of July but…never mind. So, after being an armchair traveler for a year and a half and after a lot of ‘no time to breathe’ moments I finally got a chance to get out of Pune, thanks to a long lost dream of traveling with my best friend before either of us tied the knot. So when my best friend called to say she was to get hitched in the next six months, the dream resurfaced and we were on the road. And since both of us live very busy lives, we did not really have the luxury of spending a day or two on selecting a place and making other arrangements. So in the few hours that we had, we knew we had to select a place that was near the sea. Not Goa, because, well…too many people or rather too many people trying to click two million selfies… because you know that is what everyone is interested in these days.  And not Konkan because it had to be some place out of Maharashtra. And so we settled on the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka.

Four days, four places.

Karwar-Honnavar-Gokarna-Murudeshwar.

A tiring (because, 14 hours of public transport!), but beautiful journey through the evergreen forests of  Western Ghats( which as we know are a biodiversity hotspot in India!) brought us to the beautiful town of Karwar.

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So here we were in a coastal town in Karnataka with no itinerary and four days ahead of us. Looking back I think the best part of our small trip was not having any itinerary.

And what did we do during our stay there?

On our first day there we booked a car and went sightseeing different places along the coast of Uttara Kannada. There was this one medieval fort we visited called the Mirjan fort. And the only people in the fort were the two of us. Imagine wandering alone in an awe-inspiring fort surrounded by paddy fields on three sides.

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Next we went to a place called Apsarkonda!

There’s a small hill here that gives an enchanting view of the beach in Honnavar. And if I were to choose my favourite place in Uttara Kannada, it would be this place. I am sure all of us have read about the ‘moderating influence of the sea on the coastal areas’ in geography. The sea doesn’t allow the weather along the coast to ever go to any extremes. It moderates the weather along the coasts and as one travels away from the sea.. one can feel this moderating influence wane away as temperatures rise and the weather changes. I think this moderating influence can also be felt on the heart and soul because it was here that I felt I was in the moment. It was here that I felt how amazingly extra-ordinary it was to be alive. To be living in this world. That to be living in itself is an extra-ordinary gift.

I hold on to that one and a half hour of blissful tranquillity we experienced at this place.

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The next two places we visited were Gokarna and Murudeshwar.

Gokarna holds a special place in my heart because for someone who doesn’t like getting wet in the rains, Gokarna got me all drenched from head to toe. Unlike in towns away from the coast where you can nicely predict rains, coastal towns experience an unpredictable downpour at any time of the day. When I look back at that evening in Gokarna, I see it as something that released me of my aversion towards rains. I wouldn’t ever mind getting all drenched in the rains again.

And the best part about Murudeshwar was this point!

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We could hear the sound of waves crashing on the shore all the way up here. Oh in case you think we climbed up some hill or trekked to a point to experience this blessed view, we did not. I thank ‘Elisha Otis’ for inventing the elevator. Iss bande ke bina nai ho pata bhai. 😀

 

Oh and what else did we do in those four days?

We went on long walks along the Tagore beach in Karwar every day.

We listened to our favorite songs with the wind in our face and sipped machine coffee every evening.

We talked to the locals and got to know about the local culture.. which we realized was a beautiful synthesis of Kannada, Konkani and Marathi. ❤

We tried the local cuisine and tried a different restaurant everyday.

We visited a very silly aquarium  and a warship museum one day.

We also lost our way to the hotel once.

We visited a beautiful mosque and an ancient temple in Karwar on our last day there.

Oh, and I also had a fight with my best friend. Two fights to be precise.

So you see, it wasn’t all perfect. But in a way it was. It was everything both of us ever dreamt of of our trip together.

I wrote this blog because Uttara Kannada is scored on my heart. With all its beauty and serenity, it will always stay with me.

I can’t really end this blog without thanking two amazing gentlemen who made this whole thing possible, for guiding us through Uttara Kannada and for very fond memories of Hankon. Thank you Kaka! 🙂

And Neha, my superwoman, this journey would have never been what it’s been without you, so thank you.  ❤

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I love you to Jal and back! :p

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plankton

 

This year in the month of April ‘The World Health Organization’ decided to celebrate ‘The World Health Day 2017’ with its theme as ‘Depression: Let’s Talk.’  And for having suffered.. NO…having fought depression myself last year I realized that I was not alone in my struggle against it. According to the data available on the WHO website there are a total of 350 million people worldwide who have been fighting depression. And if you’ve been following the newspapers you’d have realized that depression is on the rise like never before.

I remember when I sunk into depression last April; those were the worst three months of my life. From being someone who had always been unapologetically herself I became someone I did not recognise at all. From someone who was never afraid to do anything… I became someone who was afraid of life. Of things falling apart. I felt like a coward. A word I never thought I’d use for myself oneday. Because when you grow up worshipping the likes of Atticus Finch, Jean Valjean and Thorin Oakenshield.. You can’t ever feel like a coward. Because then it would be like letting them down, and a fangirl can’t do that, ever. But I did that. I let everyone down. I let my family down and I let myself down, all because I gave up hope. That’s what depression does to you. That’s what it did to me. It took away all my hopes and my dreams and my ability to see at the bright side of things. I lost sleep and I lost weight. I became weak in my body and mind. I stopped reading books and I indulged in self-pity. I spent nights crying myself to sleep. I could not see the road. You know, getting lost on the road is fine… but not seeing the road at all is scary. I had a crisis of faith and I suffered from low self-esteem. This was also the time when the National Eligibility Test’s results were out, and I’d cleared it and I remember it did not really affect me. I could not feel happy for any of my achievements. Engulfed by despair, I felt horribly lonely and I was scared of my life, or for my life? I don’t know which.

You know, sometimes we bank on a dream all our lives… and when that dream starts falling apart, things go haywire. No matter what we do, things keep falling apart… and sometimes there’s nothing we can do except sit back and see them fall apart. So having reached this point in my life I realized something. Coming to the title of the blog.  Plankton. For those of you who don’t know who these beautiful things are… They are these tiny microorganisms that live in the sea or rather float on the water. These pretty organisms are further divided into different groups most important of which are the ‘Phytoplankton’ and ‘Zooplankton’.  Phytoplankton are the primary producers in the sea, they produce their own food through photosynthesis and release oxygen during the process where as zooplankton are plankton that feed on phytoplankton and are food to larger marine organisms. If these were to go extinct in the sea, the entire marine food chain would break down and not only will the entire marine economy collapse but crisis of food shortage will escalate like never before and to make things worse the world will run short of oxygen. Who is to say the oxygen you just breathed in was not given out by a phytoplankton floating far away in the ocean? We’ll be doomed without them. So whenever someone asked me what would I have liked to be if I were not a human, I’d always say Plankter(which is a singular for the mass noun Plankton). Because they are so tiny and yet so important that an entire ecosystem depends on them. If I said, life on our planet depends on these tiny things, it would not be an exaggeration. For they are just as important to the planet as are the trees.

Coming back to the title of the blog. So when I was battling depression I realized that I was not a plankter for a reason. Because most of these organisms are incapable of horizontal movement. They float with the ocean currents. They can’t help themselves move but I could. I can. We as humans have this beautiful ability to help ourselves. So I decided to trust my life and I decided to help myself get out of depression. I even sought professional help and I’ve never been ashamed to admit that I underwent therapy and that it helped me. I decided to look for the road no matter how far it seemed. I decided not to give up on my dreams. I decided to hang on.

The journey back did not happen overnight. It took time, but I am glad it happened. I brought all these small changes in my life, I started yoga again, I started writing this blog, I got rid of all the things that were pulling me down including people. I lost my tolerance for all things shallow and fake. I stopped setting targets and started letting life happen to me day by day. Hour by hour. I stopped stressing on ‘why me?’ and embraced a ‘Well, well… this is what I am in and I have to get out of it as soon as possible.’ I became an ‘I sometimes read a newspaper to someone who panics on not finding The Hindu in my house. I became interested in History and International relations. I started reading about different cultures in India and around the world. I started having an informed opinion on issues that were important to the society, to the country. I started reading about other people’s struggles and I found inspiration in the most unlikeliest of places. Most importantly I found my road back. I have not reached my destination yet but I feel blessed to be on the road again.

When I look back I see how I was surrounded with an abundance of loving and caring people who wouldn’t give up on me no matter how hopeless things seemed. Thank you for standing by me. I love you. ❤

Oh, and this blog was supposed to be published on 7th of April i.e. on World Health Day but I’ve been crazy busy until this last week so here it is. I wrote this blog because I keep reading about depression cases every few days in the newspapers and I know how difficult it is to get out of it. So dear reader, I hope you don’t ever have to go through depression in your life but if ever you do, or if ever you see someone fighting it, always remember, ‘There is always a way out. Always.’ You just have to look for it yourself because your friends, family and therapist can do only so much…it is only you who can help yourself. There is no shame in admitting that you need help. . Sometimes all you need is someone to listen to your problems. Just listen. Plain listen. Talk to someone you trust. Someone who you think will understand. Half of your problems end there. And the rest, remember you are not a plankter, YOU CAN HELP YOURSELF. Give yourself a chance.

No, it’s not going to end without a proverb.

No matter how dark the night, the dawn will break. 🙂

~African Proverb~

 

Tagore

Some days I open a newspaper and I am convinced that our world is going to the dogs.

We have,

  • A post-truth world.
  • Proxy wars that have caused millions to die.
  • Silly debates on nationalism that have shifted the focus from issues of actual national and international importance.
  • Anti-globalization movements.
  • Xenophobia that is on the rise.
  • Famine in Somalia that’s going to cause many to lose their lives.
  • Sexist rhetoric from people in power.
  • Moral and ethical degradation of people that drives them to commit heinous crimes.
  • Growing inequitable growth.
  • Poverty and hunger.
  • The ever growing environmental pollution and an increase in the number of environmental refugees, melting ice shelves, desertification and loss of biodiversity as many species go extinct every day.
  • Languages die and so do cultures.

Wow.

That’s our world in a nutshell.

Nice, isn’t it?

By the time I reach the end of the newspaper I am filled with despair and a nagging feeling of helplessness. And everything I read in the newspaper in the mornings stays with me all day and at night when I say my prayers, sometimes I wonder..

What is the point of all this?

Of life?

Of this world?

What are we doing here?

What am I doing here anyway?

And I look at all the books in my room and there’s one particular book that smiles back at me. It’s called Gitanjali.

Yep. Tagore’s Gitanjali.

And so I read any one of his poems every time I am filled with despair and all my doubts disappear like magic.

So these days I try to understand the world through Tagore. Especially his thoughts on nationalism, freedom of thought and God. He simplifies the complexities of life in sweet short poems that I wish people who spew venom in the name of religion, race, God and nationalism could read, it would be a much better world if they could.

Here’s one of my favourite poems by Tagore which I hope many of you must have read at some point in your lives:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action-

Into that freedom of heaven, my father, let my country awake.

If he were alive today, he’d change the last line.

He’d say. Into that freedom of heaven, my father, let our world awake. 🙂

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 Tagore beach, Karwar, Karnataka.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Goal

Every year in the month of December I attend my younger sister’s annual day in her school. And schools, I swear, are one of the happiest places one can ever be in.

Why?

I don’t know. There’s something in them that makes your heart sing. Don’t you think?

There’s this vibe of hope and possibility in them. Of big dreams and warm friendships.  No, No, No. Not getting carried away. This blog is not about that. This blog is about something very true Bishop Thomas (who was the chief guest at the annual function) said today… Something that’s gonna stay with me and something I felt I should share with you guys.

He said, ‘I stood first in my class all my school life and I have realized that it is not what matters in the end. What matters is what you do for others in your life.’

He did not mean scoring good marks was not important. All he meant was what’s the point of your education if it’s not making you a better person? If you do not understand someone’s pain and suffering, then what does it matter what grades you get and what medals you win.

Wow. I mean isn’t this something we should all be asking ourselves too?

Is this making me a better person?

If it is not… then what is the point of it in my life?

Because ultimately the goal is to be a better human being.                                                      Kyunki acche logo ki hi toh kami hai duniya mein! We have too many doctors and engineers and architects and IAS officers today, but very few good people, nai? And if you look around you’d realize that it is the good people who really sustain the world. It is kindness and empathy that sustain the world. It is love that sustains the world (Does this sound like a sermon? Okay, bear with me even if it does.). And I think the beautiful thing about all this is that one need not even possess any form of social-economic-cultural capital to try and become a good person. One can just start from where one is and with what one has.

Do you remember when we were young and people asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up and we always had answers ready. I wish someone had told us, ‘yeh sab toh thik hai, par accha insaan banna jyada important hai. Wo nai bane toh baki sab bekaar hai.’ 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History

All my school life I saw History as something I had to study because it was part of the school curriculum. So unlike college where History was an optional subject I could choose not to choose, school made it compulsory. And so for a very long time, my knowledge of history was limited to what I’d read back in school. Ancient Indian History was fascinating. Medieval was depressing. And Modern Indian history was sad. Reading about how the Portuguese, French, English and the Dutch brought about our ruin and subjected the native population to inhuman and unfair treatment? No thank you. And post modern? No, No. I don’t want to read about the one party rule or the Emergency. Or the many wars we fought with China or Pakistan. Who has time for history?

This was me until a few years back. Pretty stupid and naïve, nai?

But today, as a twenty-four year old adult when I go back to history and read about our struggle for freedom from the Raj, I derive a certain amount of strength from India’s struggle for Independence. From Indian history! It makes me believe that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. So now when I read about the lives and struggles of men and women who fought for our freedom, freedom that you and I did not have to sacrifice anything for, I feel blessed to have been born in India, not because India is a free country today but because the India I live in today is the result of the consistent toil and sweat of millions who fought the British so that you and I could breathe in a free country. A free India.

The entire struggle… Right from the socio-religious reformers standing up against their own people to the fight of every Indian against the British rule. All of this means that there will always be people to fight against all things unfair and cruel. That exploitation and servitude and inequality are not acceptable. Imagine when in South Africa, after being thrown out of the railway for having sat in the first class compartment reserved for the whites, Bapu had gone home, had tea and would have chosen to forget the entire thing as if it never happened. Accept the unfair and move on in life! Or say if Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule would have shut down the school for girls they’d started because the society ostracised them? If everyone just chose to accept the status-quo and stay silent? What then?   If there was no Narayan Guru in Kerala fighting for the Ezhava community or no Dr. Ambedkar fighting for the upliftment of Dalits?  Or if there was no Sardar Patel working for the consolidation of India post-independence trying to merge the 500 plus princely states into the Indian union we know today?  What then?

Today when I read about all the hard work and research that went into writing our constitution for over two years, eleven months and eighteen days, and when I see it as a living breathing document that guarantees you and me equality before law, justice, freedom of speech, thought, expression, movement, profession, freedom to practice any religion and the freedom to not practice any religion! (Especially today when people are being persecuted for their religious faith right in some of our neighbouring countries.) I am filled with awe.

Women in India did not have to fight for their right to vote. The constitution guaranteed a ‘Universal adult franchise,’ something women as well as some minorities in the west had to fight for, for a very long time. Women in Saudi Arabia got their voting rights only last year.

Talking of voting rights, I always wondered why voting was never made compulsory in India. I never understood that with the right to vote also comes the right to not vote. The right to say no! The state cannot compel me to vote because democracy and coercion do not go hand in hand. May be that’s why I feel a little sad about the Supreme Court’s ruling about playing the national anthem in Cinema halls before every movie screening. Respecting the national anthem and the national flag is a fundamental duty of every Indian citizen as mentioned in Part IVA of the constitution. But this along with other duties is non-justiciable in nature. And so for the Judiciary to make a fundamental duty compulsory to follow sounds like a case of ‘Judicial over-reach’. But I am glad that I live in a country where I can say so without being afraid of the consequences.

When I connect all the dots from history, I see a beautiful continuum that makes India a beautiful country we live in today. Having said all this, I do not, even for a moment mean that we are a perfect country. No country is for that matter. We’re a work in progress. We have a very poor ranking in the human development index, the global hunger index and many other such indices.  More than 1/5 of the world’s poor live in India today. There are slums and there’s widespread mass poverty. Corruption exists at almost all levels. Benefits meant for the poor do not actually reach them. Good policies are not being efficiently implemented. And there’s a lot to be done. But there’s also a lot we’ve already done. And that is why I am proud of India and its journey. We’ve come a very long way and it is important that we do not forget the efforts that went into building the nation.  From what we were in 1947 to what we are today and to what we will be in the years to come! ❤

 

You know, there’s this beautiful song by Kavi Pradeep (The same person who wrote ‘Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo’ after the  Indo-china war of 1962!  🙂 ) which goes something like this :

हम लाए हैं तूफ़ान से कश्ती निकाल के

इस देश को रखना मेरे बच्चों सम्भाल के..

मंज़िल तुम्हारी दूर है लम्बा है रास्ता,

भटका ना दे कोई तुम्हें धोखे में डाल के, इस देश को रखना मेरे बच्चों सम्भाल के ❤

I hope we live our lives cherishing our struggle for independence and strive for the India of our dreams, today and forever.

 

 

 

If only

Very often we find ourselves wishing for a second chance. If only I had another chance, I’d do it differently this time. I wish I hadn’t done that. If I had chosen option A instead of B, things wouldn’t be so bad today and now it’s too late to do anything. Some wrong choices we make leave behind scars and start dictating our lives.

I think of all the self-destructive emotions that we harbor, regret is the worst of all. It slowly creeps in and cripples us body and soul. It drains away all the joy and we stop living in the moment. We live in the past and it’s tragic because then we are compromising with both, our present and our future. And so sets in a feeling of helplessness and self-loathing and self-pity. All very powerful and destructive forces that take a toll on our well-being and leave us feeling defeated.

I think a lot of this is because we do not make any room for mistakes in our lives. Because we were taught that mistakes were bad and were to be avoided. So we grew up trying our best not to make any mistakes in life. Aspiring for perfection and an ideal life! A life that does not have any room for wrong choices, could haves and I wish or if onlys. So every day when we wake up, we are hell bent on not letting things go wrong. Because we know that if we do, we won’t be able to deal with it since we’ve had no practice. Because we are not ready for a not so perfect life and so we start being hard on ourselves to maintain the status-quo.

So one day after all of this trying hard and planning things we realize that no matter how hard we tried we couldn’t help but make some mistakes. Mistakes that have consequences we do not want to face. And so starts the cycle of regret and self-loathing.

My question is why are we so afraid of mistakes?

Why is it so hard for some of us to accept that it is only human to make mistakes and so what has happened, as my yoga teacher says, is buried in the past. It’s dead. Don’t let it affect your today.

I have learnt that if you let go of perfection, step down from your pedestal and accept yourself as a normal human capable of sometimes getting lost and sometimes making embarrassing blunders you’d find peace. Or rather you’d make peace with yourself. You then are no longer afraid of facing the consequences of your mistakes and wrong choices. You are not afraid to try and fix things. You no longer engage in self-pity. You then face things head-on. You break free from your cocoon and fly high. Only because you are no longer afraid of making mistakes and of falling down.

Yes, like every time there will be people to make things difficult for us this time too.

‘I did not expect this from you.’

‘Why did you choose A. B was better, you should have asked me.’

‘I’d told you not to go for that. Ab bhugto!

Oscar Wilde once said that ‘People are very fond of giving away what they need most themselves’. Fukat chi advice!

It is easier for people to judge and pass on advice because it isn’t their journey. They aren’t wearing your shoes. By the same logic it isn’t for them to understand your actions because it is not for them to understand. My friend Roma says, every idiot has an opinion these days. Screw them. And I think that is what we ought to do.

So let me tell you something before I go. It isn’t something new, you’ve probably heard it a thousand times before, but sometimes we all need to be reminded of things we already know, nai?

If you are willing to let go of your comfort zone and reach for something better, you are bound to take risks and hit lows in life. Plans will fail and things would go wrong. There’s a chance you will succeed, but there’s also a minute chance that you won’t. You’ll make some wrong decisions and mess it up at times. But that’s just how life unfolds sometimes. So stop being hard on yourself for all that you did wrong or all that you did not do. Remember you tried your very best so take a pause, find your strength back and move on without regret. You have to go on.

I know it’s easier for me to emphasize the “going on and on” but honestly, it is within ourselves that we need to find the courage to go on. Churchill once rightly said, ‘If you are going through hell, keep going.’ Not a big fan of his, par bande ne sahi kaha hai. 🙂

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