A Golden Harbor in a Rainstorm

Some days are made for getting Chinese food, even though its raining heavily.

Its sort of like the concept of a ‘personal fable’ (can you tell I’m attending classes?)…even though its been raining all afternoon, you are optimistic enough to believe that it won’t “be that bad” when you leave the house.

And then, of course, when you get off the bus, its pelting, and only you’ve got an umbrella (the other two under the impression that they had their umbrellas, but actually didn’t). 

So everyone huddles under one umbrella, clutching onto each other…and inexplicably (or maybe not so inexplicably) we’re all laughing like crazy.

The laughter turns shriek-y when we’re splashed on by passing cars. Now we begin whining about how wet we are. The umbrella overturns in the wind, and now we go looking for shelter (find it and stay there till the rain relents a bit).

All in all, when we enter the restaurant, we try to act dignified even though we’re soaked. And we get our much-desired Chinese food too. Here’s a badly composed photograph as proof…

(The restaurant is named Golden Harbor, and is one of the most famous restaurants here in Champaign. The food is good)

Nighttime Excursions and Celestial Mysteries

Every night, I go out for a walk in the park in front of my house with a friend who lives a few houses away (Hi Abhiti!). We’ve formed this tradition of sorts since a year or so (though it’s become regularized more recently) and we never run out of things to talk about.

milky-way-984050_960_720

(from the interwebs)

For example…

where is the Moon? (a daily favourite, because the Moon hardly ever appears in the same spot in the sky and on some days hides behind houses, frustrating us to no end as we debate whether it’s a new moon night or not)

is it a rat/mouse or frog or cat which is rustling through the hedges? (this is creepy and more of an inner monologue I think, though we do discuss it too)

how well-trained is the pet dog that someone has let loose in the park while we walk? (I really like dogs, but when a hyperactive one runs towards you barking, you kind of freeze and wonder whether you should begin looking back at your life)

what kind of nocturnal birds are screeching at night and sounding nothing like owls? (I have realized that my information-level about nocturnal birds, save for owls, is woefully inadequate)

oh cool! That’s a bat flying around the big flood lights (more of an observation. We don’t get to see too many bats here)

what invisible creature is the cat stalking so intently? (we don’t have night-vision, so it could be ghost for all we know)

when we were kids, we could see so many more stars in the sky (this is another daily observation. Clear skies are a delight)

we should go to the Planetarium some day (follow-up to previous conversation)

how lucky are we that the power outage occurred on a full-moon night? (one night, there were power outages three times, leaving parts of the park in pitch-black darkness, so we retreated to the open areas where the moon, thankfully, showed up and shone bright)

air traffic has become so high! (there are planes zooming in all directions above our heads)

will we see an UFO? (my friend claims she saw an UFO once while she was in the park. So now, we look up every time we hear a noise in the sky, and I think we’re both hoping to see something…outside the ordinary)

Needless to say, our walks are more about us chatting and less about the walking itself. But even then, it’s a part of my day I look forward to, because being outside at night is always a mysterious and interesting prospect. And there are still so many questions to be answered!

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.

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.

Of Long-due and Sudden Trips, a Pocketful of Sand and Ligaments

Such a lot has happened since I last posted the list of my favourite feel-good songs. And when I say ‘a lot’ I mean it in the absolute sense; no exaggerations.

In the first week of February, I visited Kolkata after a gap of 7 years, even though it’s my parents’ first love as far as cities are concerned by virtue of being the city they spent their childhood in. It was a wonderful trip as I had my cousin sister’s wedding to attend and then, after a long time, six of us cousins got together at the same place. It was a lot of laughing, new friends, joking, teasing, reminiscing, tears and emotions running high. I had been looking forward to this trip since a long time, and it lived up to the expectations that I had from it (might need a separate blog post for it).

Kolkata

Victoria Memorial, Kolkata

While in Kolkata, my friends from university called me to tell me that they had given my name for a university fest to be held in Kerala. While the message was delivered to me over a abysmal cellphone network, which meant I heard only two words out of seven in a sentence, I got to know all the details only once I got back to Uni.

So, merely a week after getting back from a week-long holiday in Kolkata, I was off again to Kasaragod, North Kerala for the First Convention of Departments of Social Work of Central Universities of India.

It was a glorious trip, as only one with friends can be. Lots of uncontrollable laughter, hilarious antics, jokes and madness. Once again, I met a lot of new people and made some wonderful new friends. Also, being in God’s Own Country, how can I forget the beautiful surroundings? Coconut trees, rivulets, the mighty Arabian Sea! A feast for the senses! I think a photo post will be needed for it.

Bekal Beach, Kerala

Bekal Beach, Kerala

My last day in Kerala wasn’t idyllic however.

I got a ligament injury in my knee.

So now, I’m back home, sitting with my leg in a knee immobilizer (which is pretty much like a cast and lives up to its name), wondering how I failed to notice the wondrous ways in which a knee works.

Now take a moment to thank God for knees and the wonderfully versatile ways in which they function.

More than anything, it’s one of those times when you feel like indulging in self-pity and asking that futile question – “Why me?”. But I don’t have the time to do that. I’m more busy worrying about how on earth am I supposed to make up the classes and fieldwork I will miss, not to mention the irksome attendance issue that my department has.

Pray for me, will you?

Here. Not here.

I’ve been in this weird phase for some time now. My mind, unfortunately, may finally be changing into that of an adult’s. Oh the horror! I’ve been doing mostly university work (dissertation, assignments, skill labs et al) and only been a passive observer when  it comes to the virtual sphere.

I’ve recently developed a love-hate (though more like dislike-hate) relationship with Facebook. I’ve deactivated and reactivated my account around 4 times in the past two months. I just don’t find anything useful enough to do on Facebook, but when I’ve deactivated the account, I get all curious as to what might be happening in my absence. It’s like a drug. And I need to get over these withdrawal symptoms. Really. This is one of those instances when you realize why a certain word is used to describe something. Facebook ‘addiction’ makes a lot of sense now, huh?

As for blogging, once again, I’ve been reading a few, skipping a few and not posting anything at all (obviously you know that). Same goes for my craft blog too. Thankfully, I craft just as much as before (maybe even more), but I just don’t post about it.

The reason for this lethargic attitude could be that whenever I switch on the laptop, it reminds me of my unfinished dissertation. This makes me feel guilty and I subsequently do nothing more than mindlessly surf. Yes, I know this is a symptom of trying to flee away from something I don’t wish to do (downside of being a Psychology geek – you tend to analyze all your moods in psychological terms and reach devastating conclusions).

I did however open an Instagram account. Couldn’t resist the filters. And such pretty photographs! Ideal for passive surfing. And then I enthusiastically posted some of my own clicks.

(If you’re a newbie Instagrammer too, then do visit me [Username : sanchari54] and we can hyperventilate about others’ jaw-dropping uploads together. If you’re not a newbie, you could still visit me so that I can gape adoringly at your fabulous work.)

Okay. Must get back to dissertation. Can you see it giving me reproachful looks from my personal folder over there? Ooh look! Butterflies! Golden butterflies!

[I shall return when I’m able to talk sense. Auf wiedersehen!]

“My problem was SO much worse!”

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting some hard battle” – Plato

I’ve realized that if you ever try talking about your problem with someone else, 7 out of 10 times you will be treated to an in-depth discussion instead, of how hard the other person themselves had it. Does everyone have this experience? Or am I just trying to confide in the wrong people?

The best confidantes are those who have a great deal of emotional stability, self-confidence and maturity to be able to listen to someone else’s problems and try to keep the conversation about that person rather than trying to prove how they’ve had it worse. I guess no one wants to have their own problems seem less important to someone else’s.  But how will listening to another’s troubles make your problem less significant? I mean come on!

So, the next time your friend’s telling you about the awful day he/she had, listen with your full attention and try not to get the whole ‘you-should-be-happy-others (especially me)-have-it-worse’ dimension into the picture. Please.

Take this license…and make someone feel better! They’ll love you for it, and would love to return the favour if you let them!