*7.30 pm* Had a stressful day today with too many things to do and very little time.
So I picked up a pen and began writing in my diary about everything on my mind. That’s when I thought of going back and reading about some Septembers from the past. I wondered what I was doing 1 year, 2-years or 3-years ago. Turns out, there’s nothing. Even on my blog site, barring last year’s sad update I haven’t written anything in September. I was intrigued. So I searched my Google photos to look at any pictures I might’ve taken in September, or any event I might’ve attended. Nada! I have literally no memories of September. Probably because nothing ever really happens in September. The weather isn’t hot enough to go to the beaches, nor is it cold enough to go to the hills for a trip. I think the only way to describe September is the leftover showers it brings from July and August. It is an uneventful, dull month and if it isn’t obvious already, I don’t like it very much. But here I am, breaking the no-writing spree of September and putting out something today.
I am like any average person. I complain and stress myself out for having too many things to do but I also thrive in such situations. The rush before deadlines, or the sigh of satisfaction while marking a task complete gives me a crazy high. That’s the sort of a day I’ve just had. The weekend, however, was extra-ordinarily amazing.
I went for a long drive with my friends, Sam & Apmg (or as Alexa says Apmm) in the outskirts of Pune. We walked around farms and grazing pastures trying to shoot a cool video. This is the first time the three of us created something together and the process was extremely exciting. I couldn’t believe how smoothly we all played our parts and brought our little vision of a video to life.
Despite the receding monsoon season that brings sudden rains, we were lucky to have a pleasant weather & good lighting throughout the day. The sun wasn’t too harsh and it hardly rained. It was a beautiful day to walk through Sugarcane fields and Chrysanthemums beds. We also found a random off-road secret spot. A huge rock under a tree that cast its massive branches like the tentacles of an octopus hovering above, overlooking a pond.
Enjoy a little glimpse of my weekend.
Heading out to meet those two goofs again for a little tea party. See ya next week. Ting!
The lockdown was a much-needed relief when it first began but its unprecedented extension has been nerve-wracking. Anxiety, frustration and hopelessness have come as a package!
I took the last 6-7 weeks to argue, sob and sulk in order to cope up with the helplessness I was feeling. While my parents resumed their work from office, I felt like a lonely, left-behind, good for nothing loser, trying to work from home. I didn’t want to agree when my Dad said “we have to live with Corona”. I wasn’t ready to accept “this is the new Normal”. The situation is out of our hands, and with an increasing number of cases, it still doesn’t feel hopeful. So what changed? What made me get back and write this blog?
Nothing deep. It was boredom. You see, I was bored of feeling sorry for myself. I was bored of crying to bed every night, bored of arguments with my loved ones and bored of self-pity. One random night, as I was watching Conspiracy on Netflix I had an epiphany. I realized that if I just change the way I look at things, I can be unbored. I decided not to wait for the situation to get better but to take control of it and do something meaningful in the present.
I took up reading again, starting with ‘The Undomestic Goddess’ by Sophie Kinsella – a simple, light-hearted fiction to indulge in, on a lazy Sunday. It was followed by some insightful reads like Rana Ayub’s Gujarat Files – Anatomy of a Cover Up & Shashi Tharoor’s Why I am A Hindu – the later one had been on my bucket list for a long time and it didn’t disappoint. It answered a ton of questions I had about my identity as a Hindu in the current political climate. It talked about Hinduism’s beliefs that are rooted in history, its various interpretations and how they have shaped our present. It provides details on the culture, the heritage and more importantly clears the bias of ‘Why am I a Hindu?’ and provides an affirmation on ‘Why I am a Hindu?’
Ayub’s book was a revelation. Her eight month long undercover operation during Gujarat riots brought too many hidden and hushed stories to light. I would recommend every Indian to read this one and with an unbiased mind to understand, possibly realign their political affiliations. A shocking, stunning read!
Currently, I’ve been reading ‘Jasmine Days’ by Benyamin – a fictional story about South East Asians settled in a Middle Eastern city and how their life changes after a revolution. I have been enjoying it so far, can’t say more until I finish.
Apart from reading, I have been spending my free time in upgrading my knowledge and skills on Linkedin Learning. I had first installed the app in December last year but never got the time to enroll for a course. Four weeks ago, I finally opened this dormant app on my phone and completed a quick course on writing. I am on my second one now and it has been fun so far as it hardly takes 3 to 5 minutes per video.
Back in May, I had attended an informative online session by Satyanshu Singh of the Cinemese Twins on how to write the Beginning, Middle and End of a story. It had helped me gain much-needed guidance on some critical aspects of story/script writing. In continuation of that, I signed up for a month-long course on Coursera – ‘The Craft of Plot’ by Brando Skyhorse. I’ve written three assignments that have garnered pretty good reviews from my peers and I’m looking forward to complete the fourth assignment this weekend, and eventually reaching to the Capstone!
I have become better at organizing my thoughts on paper. I have learnt about some basic dos and don’ts, learnt about the technical details of a script, got some handy tips and pointers on how to write a character, a scene and a setting. I am now in the process of working on a story that I had started last year, and I hope I don’t give up this time. I want to see this story written, it is a special one.
The lock down also gave me an opportunity to reconnect with my parents. We celebrated 28 years of their marriage last month. On some days we watched movies together, ordered in meals from our favorite restaurants, and saw many breathtaking sunsets from our balcony. But watching our little home garden bloom to life has been one of the most pleasureful experiences. I’ve got some amazing photos of the dramatic evening skies and the vibrant, colorful flowers.
I am as average as a person can be, so when I write about how productive I’ve been or how I changed my perspective, let me tell you, it didn’t come easy.
Despite being surrounded by loving parents, and being connected to cousins and friends over calls or messages, I’ve struggled with feelings of loneliness, restlessness, hopelessness and anger (so much anger!). Add to it the monthly turmoil of hormonal mood swings and you have a complete recipe of a mess. It has taken a lot of effort for me to get up and redirect my energy towards better things. Every day is a small step and I am working through it, hoping for a better tomorrow.
What do I write about Covid-19 & the lock-down that hasn’t already been written? It is scary, governments suck, the World is shut, nature is breathing, the ozone is healing, work from home is draining, sleep cycles are messed up, mental health issues are rising, there’s no motivation, economy is bad, pay-cuts & unemployment. Hmph! A lot, lot has happened. The year started off on a rather boring note for me too, personally. At the risk of sounding self-centered (but also wanting to write something different) I am going to make this blog all about MY lock-down experience.
I believe that the first day of anything – say a new job, a new year, or your mood in the first few moments of your day lays out a premise of how the rest of it is going to pan out. Especially, in my case, the 1st of January decides how my year is going to be. It is also my birthday so I just give it too much importance.
This year, unlike any other ones before, I was not very keen on celebrating either the birthday or the New Year. I hesitantly cut a cake at midnight in the presence of some family friends and slept off with a sad & disappointed feeling (I don’t remember why) only to wake up to attend a family function. I did sneak out for a drink with my friends later, but ended up having a blue non-alcoholic drink because I was too dumb to realise that it didn’t have alcohol until it was almost over. I should have foreseen this whole mess of a year right then.
The first lockdown, which back then we all thought was going to be the only lockdown, was announced in mid-March. 21 days of not stepping out seemed like the most horrifying thing at the moment. It was announced without any warning & that left me no time to run home to my parents’ place. I decided to stay put but it was really difficult to work from home considering I had bad internet. So, after much deliberation, I decided to move where my flatmate was temporarily staying and work with stable Wi-Fi.
We tried to make it work for 15 days, but the news that the lock-down might be extended further started bothering me. I started slacking off at work and losing sleep. I moved back to my apartment (which is just 2 kms away so I didn’t break any rule, okay? :P). Staying alone worked better for me.
The change of surrounding marked phase 2 of the lock-down for me. Of course, the overall situation was sad & the internet was bad but it seemed manageable. I started cooking for myself, did my dishes, washed my clothes and even managed a 7 to 8-hour work day. I read books, watched movies and to my Dad’s surprise, I even started working out (he claims that I am the most anti-exercise person he has ever seen). With all the time in my hand, I even started playing mobile games – a PUBG hater turned into an addict. I didn’t have any time to feel bad/ sad about the pandemic or lonely. I was in-fact enjoying this lifestyle of doing things as I pleased. For the first time ever, I enjoyed living by myself without getting bored. I reveled in my own company. I started eating healthy, took a lot of tiny breaks for fruits & juices, made cold coffee, buttermilk & what not. I felt content to have become so independent. I would send all photos of the meals I cooked to my parents and they would be super proud. Guess I was learning how to adult pretty well!?
This routine lasted for approx. 40 days then phase 3 of my lock-down began. I found out that an old friend from school was arranging travel for people who were stranded in cities away from their families. Well, I wouldn’t call myself stranded, but it was the longest I had gone without seeing Mom and Dad. They had been missing me too & had tried to come get me, but the curfew was strict & their plans had turned blue. So I decided to surprise them. I got a travel pass and with the help of a friend who arranged a car, I arrived on a Tuesday afternoon to a shocked, astonished and overjoyed Dad. His reaction video is gold. Mom was at work, so we video called her and for the longest time she wasn’t ready to believe that I had really come home. She thought Dad and I were fooling her with some app or a pre-recorded video. I don’t even know how that is possible. Her imagination is beyond me. Haha!
So, being home has been extremely relaxing. For the first two nights, I slept for 11 hours straight, plus afternoon naps. Although I had enjoyed cooking my own meals, devouring mom-made food is special and comforting. My self-sufficient routine has nicely gone for a toss. I have started waking up late, hogging on a lot of food (including the delicious aamras) and cuddling with my pet cat Mau every chance I get. But thanks to my fitness-freak, workaholic parents (who have been working 10 hours or more every day, and exercising regularly) I have stayed motivated to work and work out.
Being home is great and all but I also miss my time living alone and I am certain that when I get back to Mumbai and resume my daily routine, I am going to miss being home with my family too. I mean, I can’t wait for everything to fall back to normal and return to my apartment, but I don’t want to leave here either. Kinda complicated and confused, so imma just leave it at that.
I have never been too keen on celebrating Special Days on Social Media. The out pour of love for families and friends seen on Instagram & Facebook often feels fake and misplaced. But so does writing a blog about it. So who am I to judge? Here it goes..
My purpose of writing this today is more personal. After having a heavy lunch that Mom and I prepared together, we were lying on the bed, about to doze off in our afternoon nap. She was scrolling on her phone and I was watching a movie. While going through social media posts flooded with Mother’s Day wishes, my Mom read out a small poem to me. I didn’t pay much attention, obviously I was more interested in the movie. Then she said “It is so nice to have a mother, no?” and in that moment, I didn’t see my mother who I needed to thank or express love for on Mother’s day, but I saw a little girl, a daughter just like me who missed her late mother.
So I decided to ditch the nap & go back to old photo albums to help her reminisce all the good times. We went over photos from Mom’s college days, her wedding, my birth and so on.. and I kept looking for aaji (grandmother) in all those events. We even laughed over some weird photographs captured and on everyone’s dressing sense in the olden days. It was a happy afternoon.
Unfortunately, I knew my grandmother only for 13 years, but I’ve heard praises about her from everyone who had known her. She was full of love they tell me. She would never let anyone leave her house empty stomach. I remember what a great cook she was, her ‘suralichi vadi’ & ‘chirothe’ are still missed by all my relatives.
Mother tells me that their relationship much like ours was a bittersweet one. They often quarreled over their difference of opinions but today, she would give anything to have her back in her life. Unfortunately, we only have her photos & memories to hold on to and I guess that is enough for us to have a Happy Mother’s Day.