I have been writing. And exploring Delhi

Though my blog was silent for a while (okay, more than a while), I was writing posts on other sites. And I thought I could share them with you all!

A post from my time as an intern at the organization where I’m working now is here.

I’ve also been blogging for a storytelling organization, Darwesh. So you’ll find a few posts by me at their blog here. (For the record, visiting old monuments and hearing fascinating stories about bygone eras? Count me in!).

As a result of getting associated with Darwesh, I’ve ended up exploring a lot more of Delhi in the last few months than I’ve been able to in all the years I’ve lived here (since I was born, to be precise). Some pictures below, because they’re beautiful and remind me of awesome places.

Roshanara Begum's tomb in Roshanara Bagh

Roshanara Begum’s tomb in Roshanara Bagh

An old haveli door in Chawri Bazar, Old Delhi

An old haveli door in Mehrauli

IMG_3933

Dome and spire of Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki’s dargah in Mehrauli, which is the end point of the Phoolwalon ki Sair festival

Safdarjung's Tomb

Safdarjung’s Tomb

A facade of Safdarjung's Tpmb

A facade of Safdarjung’s Tpmb

The parrots'shrieking is the only noise at this tomb

The parrots’shrieking is the only noise at this tomb

All pictures taken by me. So please ask for permission before using them. Kthnxbai.

Being a Bookworm : Why I love reading

The first book I read all by myself, was an abridged version of ‘The Jungle Book’ by Rudyard Kipling; it was a Disney edition, filled with pictures from the Disney animated film. I strangely also remember my apprehension when my mom (with the kind of wisdom moms just happen to have) refused to help me read anymore, and told me that I had to go ahead myself.

The fear of reading a word wrongly made me anxious, but I went through that book with few mistakes. I can still feel myself trying to hide my pride at having read my first book. That was just the first in endless others.

Reading became my happy place. I didn’t have siblings, so when toys began boring me, I turned to books for companionship, and they took me into their warm, assuring world. It was wonderful. My school library became my favourite place, and the librarians my allies – they began suggesting new books, new genres to me, and I went deeper into the literary ocean. While my friends found it hard to sit through the library period without talking, I ended up trying to find a corner where I could just begin reading a new book without disturbances.

I was a voracious reader all through school, and through most of college. It was during post graduation when I began faltering and couldn’t take time out to read as much as I used to. I’m trying very hard to regain the habit now (though I guess the beginning of a working life might not be the best time to achieve that).

When it comes to buying books, I tend to buy books only when I’m very sure that it’s a book I will love and cherish for all my life; I’d rather borrow a book, read it and make sure of my love for it before I buy it. Which is why my book collection has mostly only my favourites (a few are impulsive buys too).

My mom tells me if I buy any more books, I should contemplate sleeping outside the house so that the books may have some space inside the house. “There’s space for either you or the books in here!” (and she’s kind of right obviously). But when led into a bookstore, she’s just as much excited as I am, and adding to the pile as fast as my dad or me. We’re a family of bibliophiles y’know?

And maybe that’s where my love of books started – my family. And it has continued gloriously, making my life a more wonderful one.

(I expressed my love for books in another post long back…here.)

A Brand New Year

How on earth is it already 2015? Or, to be more precise, where did 2014 go?!

In my 5 years of blogging, this last year is definitely the one in which I’ve neglected my blogging the most. And I have a reason – major life changes (oh yeah).

I completed my masters degree and spent a while lazing about, contemplating topics for a subsequent PhD. Within that period of contemplation, I began an internship with an international NGO (so that I would stop enjoying sleeping so much) and then, the internship turned into a proper job! And I realized how precious weekends were. And why people kept saying that remaining in academics was a jolly good thing to do. And I realized I’m terrible (I may be exaggerating) at multitasking in life – work became the priority and next priority (on weekends) was catching up with friends or lounging in front of the TV. So blogging-time went flying out of the nearest window. Which is sad, because now I wish I’d written about all the myriad first-time experiences I’ve had in the short time span of the last few months. Oh well.

The beginning of the year was wonderful and then suddenly declined as I dealt with an injury. Thankfully I recuperated fully from that phase. The rest of the year was a whirlwind, though a busy one…

I started getting used to this being-an-adult thingamajig (grudgingly)

I spent weekends being even more childish and crazy to compensate (I would like to thank my parents for making that possible)

I learnt to stop being devastated when someone was mean (more like, managed to decrease the period of sadness by 2% maybe. At least it’s a start!)

I went on my first official trip for work (living alone in a hotel room isn’t all that great though)

I made new friends and became part of a wonderful work team (which made it hard for me to ever really dislike going to office)

I felt the satisfaction of working in the social sector, when I got a ton of love from the lovely girls I was working for during my internship (you can read about that here)

I made it a point to send up thanks whenever something good happened, however small the incident. Everyday miracles and good incidents are truly wonderful.

I walk into this new year with the hope that humanity wins over all the atrocities and begins moving towards a more kinder version of itself. This year, I want to send out all the positive vibes I can, with the hope that they will be reciprocated.

Happy New Year guys! Wishing you happiness, peace, love and contentment in 2015.

“Hi! Do you have a name?”

It’s quite likely that you read the title and your brain surreptitiously added an arrogant, condescending tone to that sentence.

So now, try imagining a child asking you that, in the most innocent way possible. It’s amusing, very much so, but more than that, it’s surprisingly refreshing because of the lack of awkwardness or formality.

I’ve recently started shopping alone (or just roaming around window-shopping), which I find relaxing (when done infrequently). And it was during one such solitary outing that I came across this adorable little girl who decided she would be my friend.

What happened was that, I was tired of walking (malls can be so huge), and so I decided to catch a cold coffee in this shop. This being a weekend, it was quite crowded, and I was actually quite lucky to get a table once an old couple vacated it. It was a table for two, so obviously one seat was empty.

My first table partner was a girl maybe a little older than me, harassed by life, clutching shopping bags and catching a quick bite to eat. She asked me if she could sit on the free seat, to which I agreed. Then we spent the next ten minutes in silence and without looking to each other and in this time she finished eating her sandwich. Once she was done, she thanked me with a smile and went away.

My next table partner(s) was the little girl and her elder sister. I’d hazard a guess at the girl being around 3-4 years old and her sister would be 6-7 years old. Their mother, who was carrying the younger one in her arms, asked me if they could sit there and I obviously agreed.

The first thing the little girl did once she’d been plonked onto the seat, was to give me a large smile, wave at me and ask me, “Hi! Do you have a name?”. I said, “Yes. I do.”

“What is it?”

“Sanchari. Do you have a name?”

“Yes. It’s Choundalya”

When I looked a little lost at deciphering her adorably lisped version of her name, her mother pitched in and clarified that her name was Soundarya.Then her mother told her, to keep her busy, that she should tell me about her school. So I picked up the hint and asked her about which class she was in, and what her favourite thing to do in school was. Her eyes lit up as she started telling me about her drawing classes.

At this point, her elder sister, who had looked at me apprehensively and not spoken a single word yet, even when I tried to strike up a conversation, tried to catch her sister’s attention and showed her something on the cafe menu which was displayed on the wall. It worked, Soundarya began scrutinizing the menu and its many colours and pictures, and our conversation ended. I realized that it must feel lonely if your sister decides to chat with strangers while you have to wait for her to finish. So I just smiled and lapsed into silence again. But the small conversation I had with that child was enough to get me thinking.

When do we lose our innocent, straightforward manner of connecting with another human being? I had experiences with people of three different ages that day, and they all reacted differently to sharing a table with me. The only adult who sat at the table with me, was absolutely silent, with no eye contact either, and with a clear definition of personal boundaries which adults so love. I am very similar, and usually don’t know how to make small talk, so I was in fact glad that the girl didn’t try to strike up a conversation. I had been moulded by society in a similar way in which the girl had been; we were independent individuals, with clearly defined personal boundaries and we were happy to remain inside that space.

With the children, the younger one, who had just entered regimented society formally as a student in Kindergarten, was the stark opposite. She was happy to see a new face and engage in a conversation with this exciting new person whom she knew nothing about. Her elder sister however, though older by just a couple of years, was different. While she still hadn’t gotten over her natural inquisitiveness, which made her stare at me openly as she tried to gauge my reactions and what I said, she didn’t talk to me at all. She had learned that oft quoted maxim “Don’t talk to strangers” well enough I guess.

It was an intriguing incident. It might have been a more fulfilling world if we could hold on to that childlike inquisitiveness and pure happiness all our lives. But life has other plans; when we’re children, we want to grow up, and when we’re adults, we sometimes wish we were children again.

Could you be anymore confusing Life?

 

Think about it. Think about it. Think about it.

There’s something new I realize about myself every few months, or sometimes, these revelations may come within a shorter period of time.

These are epiphanies; I have always had these traits, but something just happened…some incident or some insightful comment someone makes, which makes that light go on in my head, and I sit back and think, how did I not realize that sooner?

The post’s title may be slightly confusing, but it’s basically one of my traits.

Overthinking.

It isn’t always a bad thing…it brings out new ideas and new ways of doing things. But it just doesn’t help when you’re really confused about something, and need to take a decision. This is what Wikipedia tells me is called Analysis Paralysis; too much analyzing, leading to very less activity.Because I think so much about everything, I generally don’t say anything that I regret later; I’m just too busy thinking about what I should say sometimes. Yes, the thinking is less when I’m relaxed and with people I’m comfortable with.Overthinking was one of the reasons I haven’t been posting regularly.I mean, imagine the possibilities when you’re (over) thinking! Anything from the colours I want to use while making a poster, to wondering about why British accents are so sexy, to thinking if J.K. Rowling will/should ever write another HP book, and moving on to cringing about how I hurt my leg and how ungraceful I must have looked.You get the gist. Anything and everything.There’s usually a train of thought which forms, and sometimes I actually have to stop thinking in the middle of an utterly and weirdly random thought, to trace back the chain of thoughts to figure out how I ended up at platypuses when I started from flax seeds.Oh well. It’s entertaining at least. Sometimes.

 

The one where I talk about the Dramatic Autorickshaw Ride

It was a lovely early summer morning when I walked out of my house and stepped quickly (but not too quickly because healing ligaments need gentle handling) towards the main road to get an autorickshaw which would transport me to university.

Not my auto exactly. But they all look alike…so. (Taken from the net)

The fact that I got an auto right outside my colony gates was the first Surprising Incident of the morning.

The fact that the auto driver agreed to go to the university rather than flatly refusing or trying to act bossy, was Surprising Incident number Two.

But, I’m an inherently calm person, and a believer of luck and miracles. So I just gratefully got into the auto and thanked my lucky stars. I didn’t really think I was getting into an auto ride which I would reminisce about to my grandchildren…or at least my children (okay, maybe I got over it after I was done dramatically recounting it to my friends).

Nothing very dramatic or extraordinary happened for most of the journey. I did get stuck in a traffic jam, and began worrying about missing my class. Once we got out of the jam, I stopped worrying and day dreaming again.

It was at the last traffic signal before my university when the dramatic events started unfolding. The auto was going quite fast, and skidded to a halt just inches behind the car in front. I looked questioningly at the driver, wondering whether he was getting sleepy or something. In fact, he was very much awake and, to my consternation, looked just as stumped as to what had just happened. He mumbled something, “Brake kaam nahi kar raha?” (The brakes aren’t working?).

Oh dear me.

(Cue Mild Concern)

I was in an auto whose brakes were not functioning effectively. I wondered whether I should sympathize with the driver and tell him to get to an autorickshaw workshop as soon as he could, because failing brakes are dangerous, right?

The signal turned green and the driver slowly revved up and took up speed. A car suddenly came out of nowhere, and the driver rammed down on the brakes.

It didn’t work. At least not completely. The car was really fast, so it passed by before the auto hit it, but…

Oh. My. God.

(Cue Hyperventilation)

I was in an auto whose brakes were failing. Damn it…this isn’t a movie! I remembered all the movies I’d seen about cars with failed brakes (as a method of revenge or sabotage) and somehow remembered that the cars basically kept going on and on till they reached a cliff or the end of an unfinished road overlooking a river or something, and how, somehow, heroically, someone saves the passengers of the rogue car just before it plummets into nothingness, or crashes spectacularly into a mountain or something.

Thanks, but no, thanks. I have a class to get to. I don’t have time for crashes and dives!!

Before I could say anything, the driver said, “Miss, the brakes aren’t working. I’m going to have to drop you here. Because look…” he rammed down on the brakes again, and the auto just began slowing down “…it just isn’t working”.

I however, wanted to kiss him. This meant the auto COULD stop! I wondered why my brain decided that reminding me about the most extreme situations I knew of would be a better way of coping in this case rather than letting me rationally think of actual possibilities. Oh the mysteries of the mind!

I cleared my throat and promptly told the driver to drop me off right here. He began the process of slowing down. The auto kept going stoically, even though the driver had his foot firmly on the brake, and kept going and going. My fears returned a little. But then, just before a turn in the road, it stuttered to a halt.

This was when I let out a ginormous sigh of relief.

I shakily got out, paid the fare, and began walking towards the university. I had just experienced one of the most scary situations in my life. It had been only 2 minutes (maximum), but it was scary, okay?

Too much drama for a day.

And when I reached my class fifteen minutes late, what else could happen? Oh yeah…my professor could be on leave and cancel class without letting us know. Ugh. Too much for a single day I tell you. Too. Much.

The Luxury of Self Pity & Seduction of Inadequacy

As I’m laid up in bed because a ligament in my knee, I figured no better time than this to notch up a few blog posts!

I watched the wonderful speech by Lupita Nyong’o (which slowly seems to be going viral on Facebook) in which she eloquently presents her thoughts on beauty and confidence. What struck me was her use of the phrase ‘seduction of inadequacy’.

I, with a simple ligament injury, have been trying hard to hold on and not give in to this seduction. And I’ve been very strict with myself as far as indulging in self-pity is concerned (read : Not Allowed).

For the first week, it was quite alright. It was a pain in the ass (literally) to have to stay in bed all day except when I had to use the washroom. I could have roamed around the house, but the knee immobilizer that I’m wearing, other than making me look like a war veteran, keeps slipping down if I bend at all. So I decided to just stay in bed and try and deal with all my pending univ work.

Needless to say, very little work was done and it was more of aimless net surfing and Whatsapping with a friend who had an operation recently; we bonded over what he called the ‘patient factor’. Then, the first weekend, my friends from ¬†univ came over to my place (more like stormed the house) and it was a wonderful evening with a lot of laughter and reminiscing about Kerala. Their visit was over soon (too soon), and then it first hit me though I tried hard to stop it…self pity. Why me? This was so unfair! (And subsequent related thoughts).

Slowly, over the week, consolatory messages and concerned calls reduced in number. People moved on with their lives, as I knew they would, and my situation was no longer one of the Things To Talk About. And this is when I really comprehended what Lupita meant when she talked about the Seduction of Inadequacy. It pretty much goes hand in hand with self pity; it just feels dramatic and miserably good to know that you’re a damsel in distress. And you never realize how you’re weakening yourself by thinking so.

I guess it all comes down to what all sociologists would agree to – man is a social animal (not a very gender-neutral way of saying it though). We all love being with people, surrounded by others. I am one of those people who loves their solitude. But I realize now how much I actually need the hustle around me to be able to truly appreciate the solitude.

I want to go to college, I want to go to the library, I want to go for fieldwork, I want to do all the things which I usually find taxing just so that I can get out of the house, out of bed and be surrounded by people.

In the end, I think it’s just a human instinct to feel wanted and missed. Nobody wants to be out of mind even if they’re out of sight.

If I talk about my right to indulge in self pity or feeling inadequate, mine is a weak case…just a ligament injured in a freak accident. No one to blame, and in no way too serious. But for me, my life seems to be in shambles! As Anne Shirley would put it, I’m in the “depths of despair”. Not all the time, but whenever I realize I’m missing out on something exciting. Like today I was supposed to be chuckling and chatting with my friends at an univ function. But I can’t.

I guess I should pull myself together. I’ve bored you with my travails long enough.

Good bye. I shall go jump into the pool of self pity and fall prey to the seductions of inadequacy now.