Being Excluded

You’re five friends. 4 of them get into the car and drive off. You’re left to cover the distance on your own. You sigh and call a cab to go after them. After all, they’re your friends. You want to hang out with them.

You realise you’re always the fifth person—the one who’s always left behind. But you go ahead anyway. Where else would you go? They’re your friends. They’re your family. Your home away from home.

Being left out.

That’s one of the worst feelings in the world. You feel like you don’t belong. You feel like an outsider, an intruder. Half the time you can’t relate to what they’re talking about, because they’re talking of a time when they went out without you. Slowly, you start believing that you’re not wanted. That maybe you’re just not smart, pretty or witty enough to be included.

“What’s happened? What did I do? Why did they not ask me out for lunch?”

I’ve been living in Jouy for a few months now and there have been times when I’ve felt completely lost and alone. Agreed, I am not  particularly social and I value my privacy and my me-time. But this is a whole new level of isolation for me.

For the first 20 years of my life I was surrounded by family and friends I had grown up with. There was familiarity. I felt protected and loved.

I now think that maybe (just maybe) my view of the world has so far been a bit too optimistic. No, people are not always nice. Sometimes they’re mean to you even when you’re nice to them. I believe I need to come up with a new name for this blog.

It’s strange. I can’t process my feelings. I am in Paris—my favourite place in the world. There’s snow and Christmas lights everywhere. It’s beautiful and magical. It’s the place I always dreamed about. There’s so much to do, so much to feel. But I feel nothing for the city. Only resentment and nostalgia. Why did I have to come here?

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Beautiful indeed

Yes there’s so much to do, but what am I doing? Sitting in my room and sulking. I have zero motivation to do anything else. I am just waiting for this phase to pass. I hope it does soon.

Please, please woman. Fall in love with the city. Make yourself comfortable here. Make it your home. Do it and do it soon.

Paris, please work your charms on me.

Je l’attends.


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So… I am in Paris!

…Well not exactly in Paris. I am in Jouy, a teensy suburb in the south of Paris. If I didn’t have to spend an entire year in this little village I would’ve said it’s straight out of a fairytale, with its tiny roads and pretty creeper covered houses. But I’m here to stay and just the thought of it freaks me out.

Jouy has been my home for three months now, but I am yet to feel at home. In fact, I am not sure if I will ever feel at home here… if I will ever be able to walk down its quite lanes without feeling like an intruder, an outsider. I don’t know if I will ever be able to strut down the aisle at Simply, happy to be grocery shopping. I don’t know if I will ever be thankful for Sundays, happy to be sipping coffee and reading a good book. I don’t know if I will ever be able to enjoy the snow.

Snow.jpeg

I’ve had these thoughts in my head for such a long time now that I don’t even have to pause to think what I should write about next. My fingers are effortlessly chapping away at the keyboard, furiously typing the words that are flowing out of my head. Its strange because coherent expression doesn’t come naturally to me. But then, what do I know about myself?

In the beginning I thought the feeling of being away from home would fade away with time. That I would grow to love this beautiful place, with all its trees and lovely flowers. I have to admit that I am disappointed with myself for having failed to adjust to my new surroundings. I never thought that adapting to my new life would be such a monumental task that it would take every ounce of energy that I have.

I have never been on my own before. I always knew that leaving my home and people behind is going to be tough, but I never imagined that I would have to fight my way to get through every single day. The feeling of not being good enough, of not being cut out for this place keeps gnawing at me. Half of my day goes in wondering whether I would’ve been better off someplace else.

I miss home, I miss my friends. I miss feeling secure and protected. It’s so competitive out here— its like everybody is competing to get ahead of you—not pausing for a moment to look at your swollen eyes and broody face—not realising that you’re not okay—that you’re finding it hard to adapt to this rat race. I am yet to fall in love with the people here. Of course it’s not their fault, they’re who they are.

I know I shouldn’t feel this way. I am 22 and I need to learn to live on my own. I know I need to get comfortable in my own skin and not depend on anyone to feel engaged or happy. I know I need to organise my time during the week so that I can go to the city more often and enjoy Paris as I always imagined I would. I know I need to smile more often and stress a little less. I know I need to involve myself in activities, focus on learning learning new things and on becoming a better version of myself.

I know all this and yet I know nothing. I know that I will eventually be fine and look back at how everything turned out well in the end. But right now my head is not in the right place.

Right now, I just want to survive.


Being Home

Drawing-Picture
Image Source: Google Images 

Home is where…

…using my hairbrush as a mic I dance in front of the mirror and create my own spotlight.

Home is where I can be unabashedly me, it’s where I come back to myself every night, no matter how far away I wander during the day. If I want to put potato on cheese pizza and dance to classical songs, I can, because I’m home. If I want to paint my belly blue with ball pens and sing an unintelligible cacophony, I can, because I’m home.

I know I am home when I’m sitting in my own bedroom but can tell with certainty what’s happening in other rooms. Home is filled with harmless slugfests and lots and lots of complaining and shouting. It’s where mommy doubles up as a referee. It is where I can waste away time in my ridiculous pyjamas all day long. And it is here that I feel deserving even on my worst days.

Homes, no matter how big or small, are filled with memories. Beautiful, happy and sad memories that are powerful enough to trigger nostalgic tears and send you sprinting down the memory lane.

For me, home is all about the drawing room that too small for the crowd, and the dining table that is overflowing with boxes. It’s the dusty painting I made in 10th grade. It’s the balcony door that’s missing a latch and the chair that’s too, too big for the study table. It is the bedroom that’s almost never tidy but is still the best place in the world♥

Home is naturalness. A complete lack of reserve, an absolute awareness. In my own home, I will be able to find my way around even in complete darkness, because I know exactly how the furniture is placed. I know which tap leaks, which floorboard creaks, which switchboard is missing a switch and which cushion is the softest.

At home, I know at what time of the month the moon will shine right into the bedroom’s window. I know which mirror flatters me the most. I can tell who’s at the door, judging simply by the way they ring the bell. Home is made of mom’s famous Rajma Chawal, sister’s annoying laughter and papa’s calm love. Home is where the clutter is all mine. It is all about perfect imperfections.

Coming home placates me no matter how emotionally devastated I am.

Having a home means knowing predictability in an uncertain world.

Being Home means not having to do anything but knowing that everything will be taken care of.

Home is where I can be naked. Both emotionally and physically. It is total acceptance, flaws and all.

Home is waking up everyday in familiar, comfortable surroundings. It’s a sense of belonging. It is where the weightlessness and the feeling of inadequacy disappears.

Houses are made of bricks and cement. But homes? Homes are made of laughter, anecdotes, dreams, emotions and love. Home is where the heart is.

And perhaps someday, I’ll find my home in a person.

Tell me, what’s your home like?


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Life’s Lotto

when-lives-inspire

“Parents are like God because you wanna know they’re out there, and you want them to think well of you, but you really only call when you need something.”

― Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

Parents, like god, possess sin radars. At least mothers do. They call exactly when you’re in the middle of something you know they won’t approve of.

“Shhh, guys! It’s mom calling. Would you shut the fuck up, An? Turn the bloody music down, Holly. I told Mom I’m at an EdCamp. Shhh.”

Maybe the invisible umbilical cord is to be blamed, or maybe mothers really have eyes at the back of their heads. More realistically, your mother may have planted a GPS chip on you. Who knows?

Parents also have this twisted belief that anyone under the age of twenty-five cannot know what love is. They’re quick to correlate your housekeeping skills with emotional awareness.

“You’re just 20, what do you about commitment? You cannot even cook your own food.”

I don’t know why, but this dirty little trick often works. It appears that the two are positively related after all. #ParentsAlwaysKnow

Parents possess this amazing tendency to go from being the most wonderful people in the world to most embarrassing in the room. At this point I would like to recall the horrible face I make when my mother recounts how I had once fell into my own pee. What’s your parents’ favourite story of you?

Parents are people. They’re imperfect. They’re bad with computers. They often misunderstand us or give awful advice. Their thoughts belong to the fifteenth century and they have a weird sense of humour. Yes, it takes 3 business days to convince them to allow us to go to that party. And girls forget about that short dress, they would never allow that.

But there’s no denying the fact that they’re only looking out for our best interests. They’re blinded by unconditional love.

It’s truly a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting blister of the lot they think she’s simply wonderful. We are the shiny wax coated apple of their eyes. They simply refuse to see through our rottenness.

Parents hold us high, high above the stormy waters. They often love us more than we love ourselves. They believe in us more than we believe in ourselves.

We children are savage, cruel beings.

We don’t realise what our parents have endured and what odds they’ve prevailed against, just so that we may live the life of our dreams and flash our too-large-to-carry iPhones everywhere we go.

Parents, they go from being stars in the movie of their own lives to playing a supporting role in the movie of our lives. I can’t think of a bigger sacrifice.

If you’ve got parents like this, parents who love you and always have your back, you’ve won life’s lotto.

I know I have.

Mommy & Daddy, I Love you to the moon and back. You’re truly an inspiration.


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Aria: A Short Story

Aria: A Short Story

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.

―Pico Iyer


The Vagabond

As Aria trotted off to the deserted beach, the evening breeze whistled in her ear as if breaking to her its darkest secrets. Sweaty and exhausted from the day’s activity, Aria settled on the cooling sand and felt a surge of emotions in her. She recalled her mother’s words.

“Aria”, she’d said in her motherly voice, “that tiny island is a beauty spot on the face of Earth.”

Since her arrival here three days ago, she had felt that her mother was absolutely right. Far away from the din of the city, here she felt calm and completely secure. She smiled contentedly as the cold water washed over her feet. Eyes closed, she felt for shells in the sand, caught a big one and kept it in her duffel.

“For you, mother.”

Mother. The thought of her mother always made her long for home.

Eyes still closed, Aria tried thinking about the ruins she’d visited earlier in the day.

The size and grandeur of the Dunan ruins had overwhelmed her. It was a hot day and she could tell that very few people were around. The high pitched voices of a few guides here and there and the click of her own sandals and stick on the old gravel floor were the only sounds she heard.

As Aria swept across what was once a grand palace, she absorbed history worth a thousand years. She felt the moist bricks thick with moss and imagined the colours that must have lit up the palace once upon a time.

In her mind’s eye, she saw the giant halls warmed by sunlight flooding through the archaic windows. She imagined the corridors draped in the most exquisite lace and bustling with gallant men and pretty women. She saw the chambers as luxurious, filled with the most exotic items brought in from distant lands.

“What was life like a thousand years ago?” She asked out aloud.

“Tough” came the instant reply.

“Must be one of the guides”, thought Aria. She felt him coming towards her.

“There was constant threat of war. The belligerent tribes of the surrounding areas frequently plundered the scattered towns. The peasants had no protection. Disease was rampant, children seldom survived infancy. There was never enough food.”

He seemed to hesitate a little, but went on anyway.

“Of course, there were calm years. But for a peasant, it meant little or no change. The nobles owned him and they owned the courts. Peasant rights were unheard of. For the poor, it was a rough time to be alive. It was far better for the royals. Hon, are you all by yourself? Do you need any help”

“Um yes. That sure sounds gloomy. Thank you, I’m fine”, she replied and hurried away from the direction of the Guide’s voice. She wasn’t looking for company. Not then.

Now lying on the beach, she felt restless, alone and dejected.

“Even a thousand years ago, life was just as hard, if not harder. Oh Aria, you hopeless romantic…”

Somewhere in the distance, she heard the seagulls squawking, their playful hankering broken only by the sound of waves crashing at the shore. She sat up and breathed in the cold, salty air that smelt of dead fish.

The smell of happiness.

The smell of freedom.

This smell made Aria want to get up and sprint along the shore.

Which is exactly what she did.

As she ran, the wind whipped her body, chilling her to the bone. In her half-hearted attempt to dodge the ocean, she fell right into it. Arms flaying and helpless against the might of the ocean, she felt the salt water stick to the roof of her mouth. With her clothes full of prickly sand and seawater, she clumsily climbed out of the ocean and spit out a mouthful of dry sand.

“That’s awful”, she frowned, half mad at the ocean for having soaked her to the bone.

“O dear Lord, please don’t let me catch a cold.”

Shivering in the cold breeze she realised that the sun has almost gone below the horizon. A satisfied smile swept over her face. She felt her whole body convulse with joy. Or maybe it was the cold wind?

“Never mind the minor casualties. Here’s to another great day”, she sang out loud. Sitting down again, she scrounged the duffel for her slate, stylus and card-stock paper, all the while looking towards the limitless sky. Her journey had just begun.

She moved her bony finger over the hard paper.

7/02/2017

What colour is the sky today?

Aria smiled her beautiful smile and began punching the stylus.

“Ah, it’s hard to say. Perhaps a blend of vermillion, blue, yellow and orange? There’s even a hint of fading turquoise, I believe. I like to think that the last of the sun’s blood red rays are shooting out from the crimson horizon. It’s a colour lover’s paradise. It is my paradise”

She threw her stuff into the duffel and shot a last glance in the direction of the drowning sun.

“Next stop, Paris. I can’t wait to feel Le Tour Eiffel.”

Chirping birds, howling wind, rumbling trees and a mind full of a million colours.

That is how this blind vagabond travelled the globe.

One sound, one touch, one memory at a time.


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Tuesday’s with Morrie

Tuesday’s with Morrie

But the world did not stop, it took no notice at all, and as Morrie pulled weakly on the car door, he felt as if he were dropping into a hole.

Now what? He thought.

ABOUT

Morrie did to Mitch what life could not—he got Mitch to cry.

Tuesday’s with Morrie is a potpourri of a dying man’s aphorisms; an archive of his days before the deadly ALS finally gets him. As Morrie awaits death with the finish line in sight, he reflects on what’s important in life.

Fresh out of college, Mitch is terrified of being left behind, of losing out to others. He indulges in a relentless pursuit of money and fame, not understanding what he wants from life…until he’s reunited with his dear professor Morrie, sixteen years after he left college. Mitch and his dying professor take up one final project before the curtain draws in on Morrie’s life—this book—which not only gives Morrie a mission to fulfil in his final days, but also pays his medical bills.

UPSIDE

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Morrie, dear Morrie

It’s a naive, but delectable view of human experiences. Tuesday’s With Morrie is very, very touching and it made me cry. It’s now my go-to book when life gets hard.

The way Mitch intersperses the main line of story with snippets from his college life and random thoughts make the narrative dreamy. It also provides the reader with a more wholistic view of Mitch’s relationship with Morrie. In my view, one couldn’t have asked for a better layout.

The tone of the book is emotional and the writing extremely simplistic. While reading the book, I lived through Morrie’s gradual, inevitable decay. And when he died, I cried as I would’ve had for any other loved one. Like Mitch, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. At times, I felt like a fly on the wall, tuning in to one of the usual Tuesday conversations between student and professor, astonished by the latter’s courage in face of a disease as debilitating as ALS.

Morrie’s courage and resilience and his love for life shine right through Mitch’s words. As my eyes soaked up the book one line at a time, I became aware of Mitch’s love and admiration for his dying professor.

I thought about all the people I knew who spent many of their waking hours feeling sorry for themselves. How useful it would be to put a daily limit on self pity. Just a few tearful minutes, then on with the day. And if Morrie could do it, with such a horrible disease…

“It’s only horrible if you see it that way.” Morrie said. “It’s horrible to watch my body slowly wilt away to nothing. But it’s also wonderful because of all the time I get to say goodbye.

He smiled. “Not everyone is so lucky.”

I studied him in his chair, unable to stand, to wash, to pull on his pants. Lucky? Did he really say lucky?

Someday, I wish to find my Morrie.

DOWNSIDE

Tuesday’s with Morrie perhaps lacks the WOW factor because it brings nothing new to the table. There’s nothing in here that you do not already realise or know.

To some readers, Morrie’s ideas may sound excessively utopian and his way of life may seem impractical and unattainable. That is okay, because Tuesday’s with Morrie is not a self-help book, but a tribute to Morrie Schwartz. You may not agree with all that Morrie preaches, but you will surely recognise that he’s a courageous man with a heart of gold.

I would say…

If you plan on reading this one, do so with an open mind. Do not expect Tuesday’s with Morrie to solve life’s greatest mysteries, because it won’t. It will, however, inspire you to create the life that you will truly love. And perhaps as a reward, you’ll be reminded of someone who helped change your own life.

Morrie, wherever you are, may you find happiness and peace.


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