Love from the road #3

Tea In The Rains

Today it will be a month since I left. I don’t know when you will get this because I’m in a very remote coastal town. I actually have to travel quite a lot just to post this! 

Not that I mind. It’s green and beautiful! It rained here. I wonder if it’s rained there? I think not. It’s only when the winds move from here that they’ll flourish there. 

I suppose, everything has its place and time. 

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It reminded me of one of those first dates. That auto with old hindi songs playing, the pitter patter of rain drops, and you. 

You were gently humming to the song, and in that moment, things were so complete. 

I never underappreciated your presence in my life. But I feel I could have been more expressive of my gratefulness. I’m going to actively do that when I’m back. 

The steam rises from my tea. I stopped on a roadside stall to have it. Some rain drops too are mixed with it. We will never be able to tell them apart. And I guess, we don’t need to. 

I’m much more content now. I think the decision to not take my phone along was a good one. But I miss the sound of your voice. Maybe I will have an inkling of that through your reply. I miss you. 

The Suffocating Effect of Guests That Makes You Question Your Existence

Guests are an obligation much like a loan, except it is not as voluntary a decision.

When guests come to my house, it is like other-imposed Hotel California-ness. Once they come, it’s like something supernatural prevents them from leaving.

The problem is not so much of shared space, because be it our trains, buses or Marine Drive, sharing space has never been a problem for Mumbaikars.

Then, the problem with guests come down to two aspects: The ownership they show around things that they do not belong to them (they often belong to me), and the judgment with which they view me and my choices.

They often voice vile and judgmental opinions, but the world is an exhausting space and all I want to do is find the nearest blanket to cuddle. But then, while I am trying my best to ignore what is being said, they then go out of their way to question MY judgement and opinions.. I mean, the nerve!

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And I do not really need to elaborate on the sense of ownership part, do I? They simply pick up and use stuff that is not theirs because they took ‘apna hi ghar samjho’ quite literally – whereas we, or at least I, never said it.

While I grow weary defending my belongings and my opinions, there have been moments of doubt – not that I thought I was wrong, no, but I did think whether I should have gone with the easier choice of just agreeing with them on their face, to make life easy for everyone.

But the answer has been a loud and resounding NO. How can I agree when they say Hell will be filled with women because they deserve it? While they condemn us before we can commit sins or good acts? How can I sit by and let them be unjust to each and every marginalized group imaginable? How can I sit while they pretend to be nice and abuse our hospitality? How can I pretend to agree while they perpetuate unjust stereotypes and systems?

While the tenure of guests is definitely overrun in this country, I think my doubts have helped me to not only sharpen my arguments but also to develop a thick skin when needed. Sometimes, even I am surprised at how, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

Love, from the road.

I was returning from work.. it had been a tiring day. I saw that there was a lonely postcard on my doorstep. In this day and age of technology, no one sends these. It was from him. My heartbeat suddenly increased.. it had been days since I heard from him.

With groceries balanced in one hand and my bag in another, I opened the postcard before opening my door.

I really am blessed to have met you. How many girls would put up with a partner who decides to suddenly leave on a road trip, with the vague explanation of  inner exploration?

But I hope you forgive me for my abruptness. I will write to you at every important juncture in my journey. I see you in everything that inspires me – the beautiful colours of the sky as I lie in an open rice field, to the hard work that a weaving woman puts into making cloth.

I remembering insisting that you join me and you said that you can’t, your work needs you. Those children need you. But I think you sensed something before I did:  that I needed to make this quest alone to bring my life into focus. You would have been a comforting presence but what I need right now is hardships that make me think.

Thank you for being who you are. The picture on the other side is that of the first breaking of ice as the summer hits the frozen rivers in the Himalayas.

Love,
Your Wandering Love.

Women in Progress

A little conscious,
As we dress differently,
The effect of conditioning.
Then we remind ourselves that it is our right.
We are a work in progress.

Muttering some gossip,
Still some crayons in our hands,
Awkwardly serious,
About social issues.
Coming on,
A little too strong.

Sure, there’s a long way to go.
A test to pass.
I don’t know everything inside out. All the theories and arguments.
But in the cause I believe.
A work in progress.

In Sickness and Health

I’m down with a bit of flu, some bit of fever triggered by throat infection. I have noticed that I am snapping a lot and not being my usual collected self with family, may be even friends.

I am irritable because of fever and body pain and a few complaints. This – after getting access to medication the day i fell ill. Also, the day after was the weekend so I did not have to go to work. And i do not have to for a while now. This, after I am getting all the rest I need, am at the liberty to eat and sleep as I see fit, and am gradually getting better.

Compare my situation to someone who has had an illness – chronic or acute, mental or physical, without privilege.

If a flu can make me snarky, what can constant pain do?

Yet, we want all patients to be nice, sweet, obedient, playing the victim. If they are angry, hostile, rude or in anyway not how we expect them to be – rosy – we do not treat them well, consciously or unconsciously.

If a flu can trigger hostility and bring down inhibition, stronger stuff definitely can?

Why do we want cute little victims?

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Has being a savior become more important than being a humane health professional?

Happiness is deep fried

How often do you have deep friend snacks or food? Most people don’t have it very often. There could be various reasons which mainly come down to either health or expense.

The best way to have deep fried food, is sparingly, and preferably making it at home. Now, if you take shortcuts and have it from outside or have something crappy to satisfy the craving, then although you are done for the short term, you have eaten something that is difficult to handle and breakdown and will most likely give you aches and fat – or both.

Similarly, for happiness to be hand, you need to do certain things. If you cut corners, you maybe fine for now but there’s nothing to be had at the end and a sort of bloated feeling persists all along.

If you are eating right otherwise and indulging every now and then- that is the perfect formula.

If you are working hard most times and taking well-earned measured breaks from it, that’s nice. If , however, you start too late and try to take shortcuts just to fill in for the while, you are as far from happiness as it gets.

The reason I used this analogy is, as tempting as shortcuts are, you are the person who will be most annoyed for taking them, at a later point in your life.

Therefore, whenever you feel like cutting corners, think of a home made golden sizzled pakoda, that does not increase your weight because you had it right!

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A little shove.

Admiration and appreciation often end up becoming the snuff of the psyche. You get such a kick out of it, that you interact with only such people and only to such an extent, that it is only the praise that flows, no critical observations. And while that acts to maintain the cozy bubble you live in and make you feel adequate, it can also leave you stagnated.

I am glad that i recently became close to someone who, though appreciative of my good qualities, has been consistently encouraging me to venture out of my comfort zone. How this is person is different from others, is that I have not doubt that they respect me highly and have my best at heart, and that makes me receptive to the nudges.

I have taken up two things I did not before: a poetry recital, and going to a litfest, alone. I have never really been great at public performance, so the first one is going to be a challenge. And regardless of what the results be, I’d happy that I ventured out. As for the litfest, I would never go for these things as I have an early curfew time at home, and thought the best of stuff happened late evenings. But now I have decided to attend what I can. As can be guessed, I have never been to such events alone either.

It’s quite exciting! I do not know how these experiences will make me feel, but it sure is heady to jump into them. It’s like some part of me that went demure a long time ago, has buzzed to life again. It’s true isn’t it, the best of people bring out the best in you too?

And as they say, the magic happens outside the comfort zone.

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The by-lanes of Kurla.

I have always at wanted to do volunteer work. When I saw a mail saying that Pratham foundation learning lab needed volunteers to help teach English to BMC school students, I leaped. There was some backward and forward discussion, because my class ought not to clash with a trip that was planned or with my research data collection. The trip was cancelled and I was to teach in the afternoons so mornings were free for data collection.

So came my first day. It was a group of young students who would soon go to college, and wanted to go ahead in life with confidence, and learning English would help them to do so. I was as nervous as they were, as I was assessing them, and they were assessing me. All of their needs were very different and I wondered if I would do any good a job.

I decided to start with grammar on the second class, but two of the students did not turn up. But at least three did. One of those missing came for the third class, and he told me he found the grammar and dictionary stuff useless, as he just wanted to read and get done with it. I did not force him to pay attention. But when we were doing reading towards the end of a class, he could not pronounce what was taught at the beginning. I told him this is why its necessary to learn the basics. I don’t know if I helped him grasp the need or built an even higher wall. I do hope its the former.

The other employees offered to take me to Kurla station via a shortcut, and since I didn’t want to be rude, I did agree. These were women whom I admired because they could mix with the students freely. I know that with me, there was an invisible wall. The short-cut consisted of going over a gutter and through the back-lanes. It.It is a different world out there. I won’t pretend to be the first one to point out  the contrasts of city life. We have all heard about the skyscrapers next to the slum.

But what I saw was my discomfort translated into tangible objects and sights. Because of Field Work from TISS, we have been taught not to show off when we go to work with people who might not be as economically and socially privileged as us. Some of my classmates agreed with it, others just pretended to do so to please the teachers. I was not sure why I myself followed this. I did not think we were at par with them, because regardless of how much we toned down, it was apparent that we came from different places.

Yet, that day, going to the station I realized something. It was not that just because we behaved properly with them, everyone else would. And the point was not to give that impression. Rather, it was to further the belief that they have in themselves. To grow that thing, that belief that pushed them to come to us, to come to an English class. To portray to them that kindness can exist. To portray to them that just like the gutter won’t go away overnight, to change their situation would not be an easy job, but the point is, the journey need not be unpleasant.

Even the by-lanes of Kurla can have trees that give shade, and whose leaves rustle in the wind.

Sophistication maybe owned by the upper class, but joy definitely isn’t.

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