Thirty Years of Me!

On my 28th birthday, I had posted this article. I had even created a separate category on my blog called ‘Birthday Memoirs’ based on one article! Last year I got lazy and shared the same article again. But today, I have turned 30. How can I not write about it!

Give me some sunshine. Give me some rain. Give me another chance. I wanna grow up once again.

Last week, I was on a whatsapp video call with my cousin and her six-year-old daughter.

Cousin: What’s the plan for the birthday?

Me: No plans. I am turning 30!

Kid excited: Mausi’s 30th birthday is coming up?

Me: Shh! Don’t say 30 out loud! It is a secret between you and me.  Don’t tell anyone!

Kid with a thumbs up: Okay Mausi. Secret. Done. I will tell everyone you turned 39!

Me: Hey! What kind of a secret is that! The secret should be beneficial to me!

Kid confused and disappointed. She had given her best shot at faking.

Cousin: You should reduce Mausi’s age. 39 is worse than 30!

Kid was still confused. She did not understand why turning 30 was bad. Why was turning 39 even worse? It did not make any sense to her.

Past few months I have been upset about turning 30. Should have talked to the kid sooner. She would have made me realize it really does not matter!

Last year this time

Aaj kal paon zameen par nahin padate mere, Bolo dekhaa hai kabhi, tumne mujhe udate huye

I was pretty happy. I had a new job. New friends. An international family vacation.  In the beginning of 2017, I won an award for blogging. Life seemed to be going well.  And I was pretty optimistic that by this time, this year I would have un-singled myself!

Oh dear men!

No! Not all men! Just talking about the men I met this year. Instead of becoming partners for me, most ended up becoming case studies for my articles. One became the sole inspiration behind my series, ‘To the Geet without Aditya Kashyap, and the Queen without the international vacation’.  I think this year I have written more about relationships that any other topic.

I had met a gentleman through an arranged marriage set-up. He was good-looking, soft-spoken and well-dressed. It was during the phase when I was certain I should get married. He lived with his parents. He was very clear he would continue living with his parents after marriage too. He said that I will be “allowed” to do whatever l liked. As long as I respect his parents and take care of them.

Few years back, such a statement would have sounded harmless to me. But I have become smart. Or rather experiences have taught me better.  I imagined my life of marital bliss with him.

Wake up before everyone else –

Pehli Kiran Jab Se Uge, Bhabhi Meri Tab Se Jage. Sabka Pura dhyan Dhare Woh, Shaam Dhale Tak Kaam Kare

Feed three adults.

Seek their permission to go to my parents’ place. Actually anywhere.

Be fully covered since the moment I leave my bedroom.

Forget about watching Mindhunter. Or Game of thrones. Or anything. 

Not being able to put my legs on the center table stand while watching TV. Ever.

Weekends will be spent grocery shopping. Identifying sales from Big Bazaar. And watching Indian Idol for fun.

Is it worth it? I asked myself. Don’t answer the question. Most of India is doing this. So I am pretty sure it is worth it.  It just made me realize that in case it never happens for me, or happens much later in life, it is okay. I am not missing out on a lot!

My current life

I made a lot of friends this year. From Shaadi.com to tinder, from Jeevansathi.Com to Trulymadly, from meetups to events in the city– I was everywhere! I Did meet some nice and interesting people through these mediums who I would not have met otherwise.

Weekends I get up at 12. Have lunch and head out. Evenings are usually spent in some nice restaurant / pub.

Come on, come on, turn the radio on. It’s Saturday and I won’t be long. Gotta paint my nails, put my high heels on. It’s Saturday and I won’t be long

Come back at night. No wonder, a lot of women in their 30’s and 40’s prefer not to get married unless they meet someone awesome. A lot of single women I know and I myself spend a lot of time and money on ourselves. Hair spas. Hair smoothening. Sexy dresses. Fun events. Nobody to answer to.

What was good this year

Writing has been going well. My articles on Womensweb, as well as on my blog did really well. More people have been writing to me. Feels good.

My sister and niece visited twice this year. Niece is a lot of fun to be with. She is also one of the most affectionate and loving children I know. Till the time that she was here, I would look forward to coming back from office. She would give me company for everything – Whether it is staying up late at night, or going to gym. She makes me believe in all the good things in the world. She also makes me believe in marriage and family.

People and their ways!

Kuch to log kaheinge, logon ka kaam hai kehna

I have spent most of my life overthinking and overanalyzing. This year also, like any other year I have been hurt by some people’s words and behaviour. Today is a good day to let go of all the bitterness. Let me focus on better things. I have noticed that I may not like what some people say, yet I am grateful that these people have managed to stay in my life. Even if they say some stupid things, at least they call, text or show up.  Better than the ones who are not in touch. I guess this is the first sign of ageing! Gratefulness!

The single factor

Single Rehne De Mane Single Rehne De, Happy Hoon Main Happy Happy Rehne De!

The other day, I went out with four of my girlfriends.  We are all in the age group 29-42. All single women. We started talking about boyfriends and our broken relationships. One girl decided to ask what each one of us may be looking for in a partner. One girl said she wants someone who is a poet or an artist. Shayar type. Another one said she would prefer someone who is earning very well, in a stable job because she wants to be a homemaker.

I don’t know if it was the Vodka but all of this just made me laugh. I told the first girl, if she likes poetry or art, why doesn’t she do it herself?  I asked the second girl, who should be paying for her expenses then?

I am not laughing at them. I have no right to, as someone who spent the entire year trying to unsingle. I am laughing at all of us. At the expectation that someone will come, and make our lives better. The emotionally unavailable boyfriend who does not want to commit, the undekha anjana shayar, or the decent gentleman who promises a stable life, provided his parents are taken care of. Single, wise, older women still waiting for a man!

Do Patte Patjhad Ke Pedon Se Utre The, Pedon Ki Shaakhon Se Utre The, Phir Utne Mausam Guzre Vo Patte Do bechaare, Phir Ugne Ki Chaahat Mein Vo Sehraon Se Guzre

I guess it is badly ingrained in our minds that relationship will make us happy. I have had enough with this expectation. And the efforts directed towards achieving it. The next year will be all about me. About all the things that I have wanted to do. Here are some:

Teaching kids

When I was in the United States, I used to volunteer to teach children at summer school. I was quite young myself – about 16. There was a kid (fourth grader) in one of my classes, who was Hispanic. He struggled with English. I struggled with him.  But he was hard-working. I tried my best to help him improve. He responded.

On the last day, his father had come to pick him up. The kid had got a rose for me, as a thank you. Except that he felt too shy at the time of handing it over. So, he gave the rose to his father to give it to me. The father was sooooo cute!! He thanked me for helping his son. The awkward, short, scrawny, braces wearing teenager inside me could not stop blushing.

I also taught Kindergarten another summer. Those kids were too young to learn anything. But they were very cute and innocent. Teaching was a very rewarding experience. Not because of the cute Hispanic man. But because I really enjoyed myself. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher.

I don’t know how I will achieve this with my full-time job and writing. But let me for now put it in my to-do list for this year.

Taare zameen par…

Lasik surgery

I don’t know how many times I have gone to the doctor, got an eye-check-up, weighed pros and cons (there is hardly a con), nodded when the doctor has asked me to come back for a final consultation, and then chickened out and never returned. People who have got laser surgery have told me it has made their lives much easier. I think I should too. At least I would become less averse to travelling, and water sports. Maybe I should stop watching youtube videos on the surgery, because they just scare me. If any of you have got it done, please do let me know how it feels like.

The book

I think about it every night and day, Spread my wings and fly away. I believe I can soar, I see me running through that open door

I hope the book that I have been working on gets to see the light of the day. I also realized I have posted very few guest blogs this year. Please do keep sending me story ideas.

GMAT and MBA

This is the most farfetched idea. But it is still there. Maths had always been a nightmare for me. I used to dream that I have failed in Maths even long after I had finished school. Then came chartered accountancy and the nightmares became real. I used to have a recurring dream that I have failed the CA exams till years after I had qualified. But those dreams had stopped. Until recently.  I dreamt that I  failed in Biology. I have never been a Science student. I attribute that dream to my struggle with Maths with the GMAT book I bought this month. My sub-conscious brain probably could not process failing GMAT yet and substituted it with biology.

I met a friend from the US who is doing MBA from Singapore. I had met her though blogging. I confessed to her that I am not really interested in GMAT or MBA. I just want to get out of here. She said that it is a common reason for a lot of girls from the Indian sub-continent!

But I think two factors would not let it happen for me. 1. I love India way too much. 2. I am horrible at Maths.

So there. I better end it now before this post becomes an autobiography.

Maula tera maali, O hariyaali jungle waali,
Tu de har gaali pe taali, Uski kadam kadam rakhwaali

Image source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Letter To My 18-Year-Old Self On My 28th Birthday

I have turned 28 today. I can’t help but feel overwhelmed at the thought that I have spent ten years of my adult life already! Somehow, today I distinctly remember myself at my 18th birthday. It was the first year of college. I was wearing a pink top and blue jeans. I had tied my hair up that day, in an attempt to change my look. I always had my hair down, so this was the unique birthday thing. My friends had gifted me a light brown lip gloss. Smoky kohled eyes and natural lips was in at that time.

I reminisce that day so well because I thought it was a big milestone in my life. How important and mature I felt at that time! At that age, we have so many dreams to be chased – to change the world, to conquer it. We feel so powerful!

Hum hain naye, andaz kyun ho purana…”

Yahaan ke hum sikandar, chahe to kar lein sabko apni jeb ke andar..”

Magar yeh toh, koi na jaane, ki meri manzil hai kahaa…”

I want to talk to that vibrant ten years younger self of mine, on her 18th birthday – to the girl in the pink top blowing the candles, or her friend who is handing over the present , or the guy in the back happily capturing the moment in his camera phone.

I want to tell you all, on the verge of your adulthood, ten things I wish all of you knew. I am sure you have a beautiful vision for your future, but there are things that nobody may have told you, or maybe they did, but you failed to ponder on.

Take it from me, I am you, yet ten years ahead of you.

1. You have turned 18, you are technically an adult.

You argue with your parents, elder sisters/ brothers with the misconception that you are a grown up now. But you are still a kid and very immature. You don’t have innocence anymore. Your ignorance was a bliss but your half knowledge is dangerous!

2. The world will make you feel like this is the most important year of your life.

Whether it is cracking the CA exams, or the IIT entrance, they will tell you that you need to work very hard and your whole life and future happiness depends upon it. The very thought would be very pressurizing for you.

Yes, you need to work hard. But you would need to work hard all your life. Cracking the CA entrance will just be a starting point. Not making it to IIT will not be the end of the world.

3. Speaking of career, I think you are at a very young age to have the sense to determine one.

What do you know, you are barely out of school. Two years back your gamut of choices was dissected into three limited streams – Science, Arts and Commerce. You did not like physics, and found history boring. You always hated your Math teacher who made you feel dumb.

Your career choice, was probably made through the process of elimination.

4. Studies have nothing to do with what job you get.

Years ahead, you may realize that the studies that consumed the time and energy of your youth does not give you any happiness, and it has no connection whatsoever with the job that you end up in.

You will find your calling and passion in something else. Don’t regret it then. Be thankful that you finally found in this lifetime, whatever it is that gives you happiness and fulfillment.

5. You will not look the same as you did today for the rest of your life.

You will put on weight. Or maybe lose it. You hairstyle is bound to change. The curls that you flaunted in college will become unmanageable as you start working and managing a household. You may fall for straight hair. You would have 100 different looks.

Enjoy every part of it – the chubby look, the skinny look, the pierced nose, the salwar kamiz days at work, or the short black dress you will repeat at all parties. Years ahead, you would look at all those photographs fondly.

6. You want your independence.

You see a lot of your friends have moved out and live in hostels, PGs, shared apartments and what not. They seem like they are having so much fun! You feel like you are missing out. You crave that opportunity.

Let me warn you, the only place where you will ever feel at home, and peaceful is your parents’ home, whereas the stress of adulthood would rob you of your sleep at your own house. You may have your place, the one you cherish so much with your hard earned EMI. But you know what, all your life, in your dreams you will always dream of mom and dad’s house as your home, the one where you grew up. Your subconscious mind will not accept anything else as your abode, ever.

7. You may feel that your parents are the ones in this whole wide world who do not understand you.

You would confide in random friends and give in to peer pressure. But you are blatantly wrong! Your parents are the only ones who will love you unconditionally all your life. Nobody else will. Love them. Respect them.

8. Speaking of family, spend time with your grandparents.

You are lucky to have them. Cherish them. They may not be around 10 years later. Even if they are, they could become weak, frail and may even forget you or remember bits or pieces of you.

Make sure you don’t forget them before the cruel ageing process makes them forget you.

9. Be kind.

I know you are at that age when you are discovering yourself. Your personality is shaping up very strongly. I know you want to tell everybody that you won’t take nonsense from them. You can speak up for yourself.

But the harsh things that you say in your zeal, may be very hurtful to many and you may regret it later. You may realize it was not even worth it. To be happy, you need to spread happiness. What goes around comes around. Negativity and bitterness will not help you. Channelize your aggression. It is the little acts of kindness of yours and others that will keep your faith in humanity and make you a better person.

10. You have seen much less that what you will see in the future. And yet, life is short.

From time to time, I have a dream, in which I am about to do something exciting: something as adventurous as jumping off a cliff on a parachute. Or as simple as asking out a guy who I like. Or as embarrassing as singing karaoke at a restaurant.

I dare myself to do it. But I chicken out at the last moment. Then I wake up from the dream.

It was not real! I wish I had done it! I wanted to know what could have happened, what chapter could have unfolded.

You may feel that way about your life too when you look back. You will wonder what if, you had done a lot of things you wanted to do. You need to decide which episode of your life is worth unleashing, and which one is better remaining curtailed.

Your 28 year old self may not ask you “Why?” but she may want to know “Why not?”

Author’s Note

“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is the regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable. ” – Sydney J. Harris

Originally published at akkarbakkar.com on November 13, 2015.