Birthday Blog 2023: Guess Who Saved Me!

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My birthday blog has been delayed by more than a week.  On my birthday I was too overwhelmed to write anything.  But here it is – my year at a glance.

Travel… because it can never go wrong.

In the beginning of the year,  I had decided that I will travel every month. It was a new year resolution. And like most new year resolutions, I saw it break quite early on as January ended and I had still not gone anywhere.

Then came February.  I went to Goa. I had a wonderful time.  The sea, the waves, the sand all made me realize that nothing opens the mind more than being in nature.  No matter what you are going through in life, the sand still feels good on your bare skin. The wave never stops exciting you even though you see it coming.  The sea remains infinite every time you see it.

The simple pleasures of life are always accessible to you. Nobody can take it away.

Then I travelled to Kashmir.  The moment I arrived in Sonmarg, it started snowing. The experience of being in snow was completely mesmerizing. I felt like I was in a fairytale. Nature bowled me over once again. I went on a snow scooter ride which took me to top of a mountain. When I reached there,  I felt like I did not know such a place could even possibly exist in reality. It was the kind of things dreams are made up of.

Next trip was to Kerala.  The natural beauty, the fish thali,  the warm people all made it a very memorable trip. I was also not aware until then that I had the capacity to eat so much!

I have more travel coming up in December.   I realized that travelling monthly may not be possible but travelling quarterly is.  I have travelled every quarter this year and I hope to continue that next year. Being an overthinker, I always spend a lot of time analyzing whether I should travel or not,  how will the hotels be, how long will the journey be, will I fit in well in the group, or not but now I realize it is better to go out and find out all of these things rather than sit at home and wonder!! Most of the times, everything is good. If not, it is an experience.

Either way,  an experience is better than sitting at home!

Dance like nobody is watching

I started attending a Bollywood weekend dance class soon after coming back from Goa.  I also participated in a flash mob in a mall which was a lot of fun. Even though I was very nervous to be part of it, I realized that the people watching probably did not care about how I was dancing. They were probably thinking what it would be like if they were dancing.

Life becomes so much easier once we realize nobody cares about us!

Other than this I attended Kathak, Salsa, Bachata, Zumba classes and  a belly dancing workshop! I was exploring.  I feel I am a true desi and I enjoy Bollywood classes the most.  We may not enjoy everything.  But unless we try, we would never know.  I guess we are so worried about wasting out time, money and energy that we are reluctant to try out new things.

But the biggest loss is not the loss of time, money and energy. The biggest loss is not giving yourself the opportunity to lose these to discover yourself!

Festivals – Oh did I miss any?

Since last year I have been celebrating all festivals.   My love for sarees continues.  This year the addition was Onam, thanks to my lovely friend who invited us over to her place for the Sadhya.  The Kerala Saree was my favourite saree for a very long time this year!

Every time there is a Hindu festival I see a lot of negative posts in social media. People want to impart all of their wisdom during this time.  Here is the thing:

You do not know what people are going through.  You have no idea what joy these festivals bring to people.  If you do not agree with the concept, don’t do it.  But don’t express your disapproval of others who are celebrating.  People need a reason to live.  It is as simple as that. Let them live.

Mirror Mirror On The Wall

In the beginning of this year, I had a major acne breakout.  My dermatologist advised me to stop applying all creams,  powders and blushes immediately.   I felt raw, but I had no option.

For someone who regularly applied creams and powders, it was initially very difficult. I felt too exposed.  I felt like a little bit of powder would have made me look better. We always feel we are just a tad bit short of being good enough. A little more height, a little more or less weight, a little here and there would have made us so much more acceptable.

The pimples went soon. A few changes in my diet and daily exercise has helped me keep the glow going without applying any cosmetics.   Earlier in the year, I chopped off my hair short and refused to get a smoothening treatment (an annual ritual) and my curls are back.  I had stopped getting my eye brows done in covid and I have stopped wearing heels also except for maybe a couple of times a year!

This feels liberating.  It is not that I don’t want to look pretty.  It is just that I have realized that all of these enhancements will not make a drastic difference to my appearance.

There are other things that make a person beautiful –  the sparkle in their eyes when they talk about something they are passionate about. The glow on their face when they complete their workout. The blush on their face upon receiving genuine praise. The pride on their face when they accomplish something they worked hard for. And last but not the least – a heartfelt smile. May I have more of these in my life to make me beautiful.

The other day I called a very dear Aunty of mine who has always showered me with a lot of love and affection.

“Aaj aawaz mein woh khanak kyun nahi hai?” She asked.

That “Khanak” is what  I strive to achieve. What is the point of looking good  if there is no khanak? Thank you dear Aunty for reminding me – May I never lose my khanak.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Someone at work asked me this question.  I did not have an answer. I did not know what profile I wanted to be in.  I did not have an aspiration I could think of. I did not know where I wanted to be 5 years from now professionally because whenever I thought of my future I thought of it from a personal standpoint.

It made me realize that in the past decade I have given so much of importance to relationships that I did not think about what I wanted from my career.  The success of women is often judged by who they are married to and the number of children they produce at the right time.  It is sad that while women are happy to have a job, we prioritize our jobs only in phases.  It is always time to get married, or time to focus on your home as you are newly married,  time to fix your marriage, time to get pregnant, time to raise the baby,  etc. As if your career will wait for you while you deal with being a woman!

The best time to focus on your career is when you are a man!!!

The biggest myth that women are told is that home and family brings utmost happiness and everything else is secondary. It is not true!

This year I prioritized  the one thing that gives me the liberty and dignity to lead my life the way I want to.

It is never too late to …………….

So guess what I have started learning.  I will give you a hint.  Winters is a bad time to start learning this skill!!

My first attempt to learn this was 24 years ago:

I was in a YWCA centre in New York City.  I wore a purple coloured two piece swim suit.  There was a friend of mine, an Indian girl who was also learning with me.  Her swimsuit was more modest that mine. But she looked quite grown up. I, a late blossomer looked quite kiddish and awkward trying to wear a bikini top when I probably did not even need one. We were tweens.

The initial thought  even before learning how to swim was that I looked quite bad, while the other girl looked quite appealing. The lack of confidence started at a very fundamental level!  I got inside the water. There were two instructors.  One was a young man.  He was tall, broad and well-built.  I remember him as good-looking.  Then there was a young woman probably in her early 20s. She was very short and petite.

We were divided into two groups.  The first round was with the guy.  He was trying to make us hold on to the wall and kick. I was super scared of the water.  I remember doing some funny fluttering kind of movement.

The second round was with the female coach. She wanted us to hold her hands as she walked in the water trying to make us float.  She kept saying, ‘ I will not let you drown.’  Somehow I did not believe her.  I felt she was too tiny to save me.  I felt safer with the male coach. 

I missed two classes because of my periods.  At the end of the eight classes,  I failed the exam miserably.  My friend qualified for the next level.  My parents had spent a lot of money on these classes.

I was an A student.  I had never failed at anything before.  I made myself believe that I had failed swimming for life. It was not possible for me to learn it. Ever.

Just like dancing, I always admired people could swim. But in all these years, it never occurred to me that I could still try to learn swimming.  This year as I was trying new things, I thought I should try to learn swimming as well.

My apartment  has a swimming pool. So I got a coach. The first couple of days I was very scared but at the same time determined to learn.  When the coach said, ‘ I will not let you drown’, it reminded me of the same words from the female coach 24 years ago. I feel horrible that I judged her because of her physical appearance, and considered her incapable of saving me. I forgive myself because I was just a kid then.

But this time when I started learning, it was different.  I am an adult.  A middle aged woman.  It was not about believing the coach anymore who said he will save me.  It was about me telling myself constantly:

I will not let anything happen to me. I will save myself.  Nature intended for me to float. I just need to stay calm. I was born to survive.   

And there.  This is the journey from a girl to a woman. A woman who has seen life.  A woman who has learn that she cannot rely on anyone.  A woman who knows it was always her she needed.  It will always be her, nobody else.  And that is okay.

For it was always her responsibility to protect her.  To take care of herself. To love herself and to nurture herself. To put herself first.  She may have failed in that.  Sometimes because she went against her instincts.  Sometimes because she trusted others more than herself. But most of the times, it was just lack of self-love and self-worth.

But the good thing with life is, it is still not over. 

And with everything that life has to offer, and everything that she wants to do with hers  – for the remainder of her life she wants to make sure she loves and protects herself fiercely.



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