March 18, 2017

The labels we give ourselves

It is often said that we are our own harshest critics. And I know that this saying resonates with me  a 100%. Growing up, I heard a lot of very negative words that were directed towards me. And these words had an impact. I was told I was selfish, arrogant, stubborn, stupid, self-centered and disgusting. I was body shamed with labels such as fat, pudgy, porky, balloon, ugly. School was the worst since girls are never very kind to one another, especially as teenagers. Everywhere I went, I heard more labels, until I started to see myself as others saw me - started to hate myself, my personality, my sense of identity and of course, my body. Labels have the power to really stick. They tend to corrode the positive sense of esteem and replace it with a darkness that is very hard to shake off. It has taken me almost all my life to do so. 

My labels revolved around the notion that I thought to great of myself, and so needed to be put in my place, or brought a few notches down. Maybe the people who directed these words at me thought that it would do me good. Maybe it was their way of defending their own self esteems and egos. Either way, it led to the creation of a mistrust, and a low self esteem that was masked by an outgoing personality. 

Words that are physically demeaning are even worse, because they can really be damaging to your confidence, and self image. I have spoken about my body image issues before, and it has taken the better part of my life to accept myself.

I am sure you have been subject to this labeling as well. And I would love to hear what you did to reject them and be happy in who you are, not what others think you are.

March 15, 2017

From Maximum City to Maximum Silence




Its been 3 years since I left Mumbai to live in Canada, and the thing that is still the most disconcerting to me, is the silence. Especially in the winter months. India is chaotic and noisy. There is a hustle and a bustle to daily life in Mumbai, the sounds of the milkman, the newspaper man, the knife sharpener, the kabadiwalah, the various other vendors who peddle their wares at you. Then there is the noise of the children, playing around you, or the myriad festivals and the loud speakers that invariably come with them. Add to this the daily ministrations of the various animals that are part of your day - street dogs, cats, birds chirping, crows cawing. Add in a layer of traffic and cars honking and you have one heady albeit noisy cocktail of sound. Deafening in its intensity, but still adding to the everyday. Staying in North America couldn't be more different. The silence speaks volumes. On most days, you may not hear the sound of another human being, animal, locomotive or electronic equipment. This silence gets magnified a thousand times over in the winter months, when the weather is terrible, and you don't see too many people around. 

I remember not being able to sleep when I first moved to Canada. And I realized that this was because the silence was so unnerving to me. It can also be soothing. It gives you the feeling of being wrapped in a cocoon that reassures you in its constant parity. However, I do think I miss the vibrancy of India and its millions of sounds.A very real case of the grass always being greener on the other side, no doubt?

June 19, 2016

Old lady in the mirror


It is a balmy Sunday afternoon, and I feel an overwhelming need to write something. To talk to the universe in a monologue that showcases my deepest emotions and frustrations. You see, for the last 5 years, I have tried very unsuccessfully to find 'the one'. Tried to change myself, made some really crazy choices (moving half way around the world anyone?) and also worked on becoming fitter to fit into an ideal version of me. And yet, despite all of these attempts to conform to society's image of the perfect woman, I cant seem to find a man who is willing to share this life with me. Frustrating to say the least, but it makes me think that I am approaching this completely in the wrong manner. Instead of trying to change myself for this idea of what men are seeking, I need to just be content in being the person I am. I am never going to be the prettiest, the healthiest, the wittiest or the most intelligent woman out there. Nor am I going to be someone over whom men duel or fight to the death (hey a girl has to have some fantasies). But what I can be, is the best version of me. Someone who is living life in the best possible way that she knows. Someone who is flawed, dented, bruised but yet not broken. Someone who deserves someone equally flawed, dented and bruised. But guess what, I am not going to sit around waiting and feeling sad that it hasn't happened yet. My life is not defined by this one relationship. And if it is not meant to be, so be it. No use moping about another stupid and idiotic buffoon of a man who doesn't treat me the way I deserve.And if that means I live to be a 100 and a spinster, then what a crazy old lady with spicy stories I am going to be! Here's to the old lady who refused to bow down to society's rules and lived life one adventure at a time. Here is to the future me. 

May 26, 2016

On the train again...moving away from you.

I write this post on a train journey from Toronto to Kingston and back. The gift of 2.5 hours of time is something that I don't usually get, so when I did get this opportunity, I thought, maybe I should get back to writing since its been a while. It sure has been an eventful couple of years. Ever since moving to Canada 2.5 years ago, I feel like I am like a leaf that's blowing in the wind. Going where the wind takes me. The experiences I gain along the way, the people I meet, and the challenges I overcome are all pieces in the grand scheme of things. Hopefully there is some meaning at the end of this journey. But one can never be certain. But, I just wanted to take a moment and look back at some of the things that Canada has taught me.
 
1. Relax. The weight of the world is not on your shoulders. Having grown up on a healthy dose of soap operas and Bollywood, I think it suffices to say that we Indians can be very dramatic. Everything seems to be a tragedy or a sob story, and every difficult time is viewed as a calamity. Living in Canada has taught me that you can be serious about your life, but that doesn't mean that you need to walk around like your problems weigh you down.
 
2. Appreciate the beauty around you, and the shortness of summer. Coming from India, I never understood why Canadians love their summer so much. 3 desolate winters later, I am one of those people who is as excited as the average Canadian when it comes to summer.
 
3. Be nice to people. It makes you a nicer person to be around, overall. Points 1 and 2 meant that I was this grumpy old soul who didn't like new people. I was never trusting and rarely polite. Canada changes that. You cant help but be affected by the positivity all around you. People are nice here. Genuinely nice. They don't have hidden agendas, and they are definitely not plotting to overthrow you in office, like you would think they did in India for sure. Mumbai and the corporate culture there seems like a battlefield in comparison.
 
4. Admit that you do not have all the answers, and they will eventually present themselves to you. Whether it is that excel sheet at work, or your life's problems, admitting that you do not have all the answers is a good way of making the universe work for you. I have realized that if you look for something long enough, things tend to work out in the end. The same goes with answers to a problem.
 
5. Be thankful for the chances you have been given. Overall, a sense of peace and contentment is a feeling unlike any other. Be thankful for the chances that you have been given, and stop fretting about the next big promotion, the next house, the next relationship.
 
I would addressed some more, but my time on the train seems to be at an end. Till the time that I have some more time to spare....

August 13, 2015

Words in the wind...

Today has made me restless somehow. I felt the need to talk to someone and ponder over life's mysteries. Not that I have the time to. Not that I do not have a million tasks on my to-do list. Not that I won't get caught into inane discussions. And not that I won't regret staying up late at night because I was too restless to sleep. All of this notwithstanding, I really and truly crave the opportunity to sit and talk, really talk to someone. Just to hear myself think, to have someone as a soundboard, and to meld together a story from experiences that are different, and yet similar in a way. I miss the verbal sparring, the banter, the humour, and the power of an intelligent argument. The need to run and check facts, to reinforce what you already believed in, and to learn something new. My conversations these days have become all about the excel sheet numbers, and less about discovery. And it makes me feel sad. I wish I had people who would reach out to me and talk. So here are my words in the wind, a wish if you may...for conversation, and maybe some coffee while we try to unravel what it means to exist.

March 6, 2015

How are you really?

The other day one of my closest friends messaged asking me "How I was?". An innocuous question in itself, but it trigged myriad emotions in me. I thought of the fact that I didn't have a job, had been looking for one for some time, and was nowhere near finding one. I thought of how I had left India a year ago, sure that I was making the best move of my life, how I had left a great job, because I wanted to make a mark in North America. I thought about the endless battle against weight and body image, and how I was finally getting sick of trying. I thought about not finding love. About despairing that there was anyone out there for me. I thought of how I did not know whether my tomorrow was going to be better than today, and how increasingly I felt that it was an impossibility. Having pondered all of these thoughts triggered by her simple greeting, I thought of replying by saying, I am: depressed, frustrated, negative, tired, sad, irritated, angry, in pain,
spiralling out of control. Instead, I replied: I am fine.

December 19, 2014

Topsy Turvy world

This is a crazy world we live in, where killing children is justified revenge. Where raping women is considered pride. Where fighting religious wars is a noble quest. Where all lines of sanity have been blurred. A crazy world indeed. 

November 23, 2014

What is love?

Love is not about beauty, not even about mannerisms, or a body. Love is a feeling, that transcends the exterior, goes beyond everything that one projects about themselves to feel touched by the other's soul. Love is a state of being, and a promise that completes you and guides you through life. Love is friendship, companionship, acceptance and trust. What I loved most about you was your mind. And I hoped that you would love me too - when my body was misshapen and my soul was broken... I looked for you. But you were long gone.

August 2, 2014

Solitude

Being alone scared the hell out of me. But I have now come to realise that there is a strange sense of relief and also freedom in it. To not be answerable to someone for anything can be calming. For the first time in forever, I feel content in just being with myself. Enjoying my own company, and doing things that make me happy. I can truly say that I am a wonderful person in my own right, and I don't need anybody else for affirmation. 

July 30, 2014

Into the light...

I feel like I have been put under the microscope. Every inch of my being has been analysed, discussed and detailed. Numerous psychological and sociological tests that define my personality have been administered from the beginning of my MBA and I have been laid bare. It has been an uncomfortable experience, sometimes challenging, sometimes irritating and most times frustrating. However, I feel a strange sense of liberation as well. It seems like the darkest parts of my soul have been slowly but surely chipped away. I am now so much happier, more content and far more positive than I was early this year. Something within me has softened. I feel healed. And liberated.