What Blogging Means To Me

When I look at my older posts, I feel seriously embarrassed. I mean, what was I thinking when I wrote them? They seem so childish and immature! And often, forced. Lately, I have been thinking of the way my attitude towards blogging and the kinds of posts I write have evolved. There has been a change. I started off with writing things people wrote. I followed blogs that got lot of votes or comments even though I didn’t like what and how they wrote. I commented on posts I didn’t relate to. I read about how to get more traffic and earn money with blogging.

Soon, the blogs I read got narrowed down. I did not comment just for the heck of it. I wrote as and when I felt like; whenever there were some real thoughts to dispose off.

I found my own blog space.

I shut down my food blog, where I used to write restaurant reviews. I shut down my old fashion blog that was on Blogger and made another one on WordPress (this one has also evolved hugely in the last 1.5 years).

I am the happiest with my travel blog. It has been most active and popular. I developed a proper niche for myself by writing about places, restaurants in and around Baroda, exhibitions and events – something no one else had been / is doing.

As for this personal blog, yes, this one transformed too. I no longer write for popularity. I write for myself. This blog has become my public diary. I do not aspire to be a famous blogger who writes great things about politics, art or the like. I just want to share my thoughts and little things about my life, hoping someone out there is listening. It is wonderful writing about challenges, dilemmas of life and have unknown people drop in concern, good luck and advice.

I can conclude one thing. One cannot seek, aim for popularity. Any amount of networking will not help. The only thing that will is passion. My travel blog is a live example. I wrote about Gujarat because I love that state. It is my home state and I love everything about it. I started showcasing Gujjuland to the rest of the world. I spent energy, time and efforts in learning photography on my own, visiting places and writing about them. The effort, genuineness and passion shows in the blog. My pictures speak.

Passion, my friends, dedication and desire to be better are the only things that pay – in any aspect of life – job, relationship or hobby.

Blogging is more than just a hobby (at least for me). It is a job. An important aspect of life. A great way to learn and make friends. A great way to widen horizons.

During my last week in Baroda, I went to a handicrafts exhibition where I was moving around clicking snaps (with the intention of writing about the event and the organizing body) and one of the organizers asked me who I was. I held my head high and said, I am a Blogger. And what do you think happened then? I was given VIP treatment! I was invited to their workshop, told more about their activities and given lot of attention!

Serious, sincere blogging pays in different ways.



De-cluttering & Fighting Procrastination

This weekend has been perfect. House cleaning, de-cluttering, catching up with friends, good food at a new restaurant, some reading, some writing and a good movie. As I warmed the left over Ginger Chilli Noodles and tidied up the house for the last leg of the day, I felt good. Really content. And by the time I was eating warm buttered Nutella toast, I was almost dancing around the house.

I was thiscontent.

I forgot all about the spoilt refrigerator, lizards in the house and the scheming boss I need to face tomorrow at work.

Nothing can be better than a relaxed andproductive weekend. I think I was happy because of all the pending work I completed in these one and a half days. A trip to the tailor & supermarket made, essentials purchased, new lenses ordered and the dusty table tops finally cleaned. This Saturday, I came back from work early and sprung into action. I almost gave in to the temptation of browsing the internet aimlessly but no. I attacked each task like those bugs hiding in various corners of the house and wiped them into non existence.

Procrastination is such a common habit and such an unhealthy one. I decided I am giving up this habit for good now. It would have been easy to give up on this weekend and spend it only in lazing around eating and watching movies, only to regret later on. I have learnt the hard way that loss of time is the biggest irrecoverable loss one can face. So, instead of piling up work and then feel lousy about myself, I tackled my to-do list and realized that it was no big deal, actually.

It is good to have a clutter-free environment – a clean home and a clean work area. It keeps your mind fresh and clear. Now this has been my biggest flaw. I have been used to collecting things and not using them enough later on. I do not throw the unnecessary stuff away because either they are in good condition or I am just emotionally attached to them, for no reason. And hence, clothes, food items, stationery and the like keep collecting. A few years back, I used to buy things impulsively and ultimately give them away to the maid. I am not in such a dire situation right now (could be because Daddy Dearest keeps a watch on my bank account. ‘What have you bought now, Miss’. ‘Petrol, Daddy’).

But I still have an overflowing cupboard. Clothes are everywhere. Half my life has been spent in folding clothes and putting them into correct piles. My parents are also struggling to get rid of a truckload full of brand new clothes that I no longer need at their home.

So when I still bought a few things this sale (for which I was condemned very strongly by my parents), I decided to give away some of the clothes that no longer fit me. It was so easy! I went through the numerous piles and took out the clothes that I could give away either to the maid or to my younger cousins. And indeed, I gave away some clothes and shoes to the maid and the carpenter for their family. Not only did this make them happy, it also made me feel good.

So, I learnt, procrastination is no good. Losing time is no good. You gotto do what you gotto do. No point ignoring tasks hoping they will take care of themselves! So why not just do it and reduce your stress. An easy way of finishing off pending work would be to reward yourself on completion of each task – with a movie, a phone call to a friend or music.

So are you on it?

Question Marks

I have never been close to the subject of death. I do not know how to approach this dark subject. I have friends whose parent passed away while I knew them and I didn’t know how to respond except saying ‘Oh’ or ‘I am sorry’ because this is what I have heard / read people say. How much ever I want to respond in the best possible manner, I become dumb. My first crush’s mother died today. I was shocked. I was afraid to pass his house lest I see him because I wouldn’t know how to react. I badly wanted to do something to ease his pain; to help him deal with this but I would never know what to do (and it is practically impossible that I can ever do / say anything to him because I don’t exist for him).

I have never seen death closely. And no one wants that to happen. So, I am one of those lucky ones who has completely been protected from witnessing this tragedy. My mother saw her mother’s slow death during her college years when she was 21. I was 21 eight years ago. I am sure I never could have handled it.

It’s ironical that this protectiveness, this shield that my parents have created for me all my life has become a handicap for me today. Even after staying on my own for 10 years now, I am still naïve and goose-bumpy, easily intimidated by darkness, night driving, violence, reptiles and rude words. Till a while ago, I thought I had struggled in life. A lot more than most girls of my age. I soon realized it wasn’t true. Yes, I have struggled and have fallen, got up and learnt in my own right. But it was probably nothing in front of many other people’s miseries. I have seen girls much younger to me who are much more bold and strong because they have come across tough situations at home and have been cemented against all odds.

Somewhere, I have matured. I have grown up. But I am still stuck in time warp. I should have been married by now but I still watch animated movies. My cousin, the closest to my heart, has turned 15 and has changed a lot but for me she is still a 4 year old. Though I am suspicious of everyone around me and am a control freak, I cannot handle a rude rickshaw driver.

Some say I am running away from reality. I have a sweetened view of everything created by my own I  mind and refuse to see it in its stripped, raw form. Sometimes, I see nothing wrong in this. I mean, why not? Why not be happy with knowing little, if knowing more is painful and disturbing? Why not stay a few years behind age schedule if that helps you stay fresh and hopeful? And many times, I just feel dumb at being such a baby. I wonder if something is seriously wrong with me that I am not able to keep up with times.

I will probably never know the answer to this dilemma.

When I Lost My Sweetheart

Yes, we are dependent on our mobile phones today. We need them to remember birthdays, to wake up on time, stay in touch with friends & relatives, check mails, share photos and make our lives more exciting and simple using innovative applications. And not some ordinary mobile phone. But a smart phone.

Talking about dependency, I went a way ahead and was addicted to my Blackberry. I was constantly glued to it – chatting with friends simultaneously on BBM, Gtalk & Watsapp, sharing jokes and pictures, checking out Facebook, mails, etc. I used it all the time irrespective of what I was going and where I was – in the mall shopping, at somebody’s house socializing, at a restaurant with friends, while driving – ALL the time. I could navigate around it blindfolded.

And now I’ve lost it. I have lost my most prized, close-to-heart possession. I have been heavily relying on it since the last 2 years. I lost it because of a silly, careless move of mine. When I came to know it was gone, I knew it would never be back.

I have lost all numbers (why have I discontinued my habit of writing down numbers in my tiny phone book! Yes, I do carry a PHONE BOOK but it doesn’t contain much), did not know how to contact my colleagues and friends and did not know how I was going to get up on time the next day.

I luckily had my old Nokia 6300 instrument and could start using it immediately (on getting a new sim card). I will have to learn to live without Gtalk, FB, BBM and Watsapp. No instant exchange of mails. No instant sharing of photos and dirty jokes either.

Friends and family have been cajoling me into buying a new Blackberry. Oh, prices have reduced for sure. But no, I insist on using this tiny simple phone. I really miss my old phone and want it back but I ain’t buying another one. It’s almost like heartbreak. Thought I miss my own Blackberry a lot I cannot think of buying another one because I want the same thing back. No other can replace it. I’d rather be without a phone. Friends say ‘Oh, you’ll get over it soon. Maybe you can buy another one once you are done with the grieving’.

But look at the good. I no longer go through the anxiety of checking for notifications on my phone all the time – notifications that did not demand instant attention but I used to leave everything to check on the blinking red light. I can again attempt writing. Like, really writing with a pen. You won’t believe it, I cannot write. My fingers pain and you cannot read what I’ve written. Friends will find a way to stay in touch.

This incident has taught me, rather, confirmed 2 of my beliefs.

The importance of friends. My friends have been connected to me through more than one means. So if one is lost, I still have other means of reaching them. And not just a few selected ones, but ANYONE – from school, from work, from neighbourhood, from family. I could have contacted anyone for any help – like for blocking of my old sim, finding contact numbers, contacting colleagues. I realized how important it is to be good to everyone and maintain good relations – at work, in the neighbourhood. You never know who you need one day.

On a lighter note:

The benefit of technology. Today, we are constantly reminded of our addiction to technology and its perils. We are losing ‘human touch’, apparently. I don’t see how. I think, technology has only brought me closer to my friends and family members, who are scattered all over the globe. Had it not been for technology, I would never have sent wishes to my friends’ kids on their birthdays! I would not even know! So, what could be a better human touch than wishing your friends not just on their birthdays but sharing their little every day joys with them. Had it not been for technology, how could I find so many other means of contacting my friends, had one mean got cut off! We are busier today than what we were many years ago. It is not an era of writing letters and making phone calls. In today’s fast life, keeping in touch through tiny messages and gestures is good. It shows that you remember them. You remember small things about their lives despite you being so busy in trying to reach the front of the rat race. And wishing people’s kids on their birthdays is a LOT.

On My Own

I have finally moved and settled down into a tiny little house on my own. For the first time in my life, I am staying on my own. I have the whole flat to myself. I can decorate it in my own way. I can keep things in my own way. I will clear the mess created by me only. Except the maid (and the obstinate neighbourhood stray cat), no one really touches anything in the house. When I had started working 7 years back, I had a deep desire to live alone. The house may be tiny, the walls may be of a ghastly shade and the flooring may be old but I would live like a queen in that house. That never really happened till 2 weeks back.

Of course, I had got used to staying with people since the last 3 years I had been sharing the house with someone or the other. And though situation led me to the decision of living alone, I did have some apprehension initially. My expenses would increase. I may feel scared of being alone. Someone may keep an eye on me waiting to strike at a right moment. Even though I used to hardly speak to my flatmate earlier (in the old house) her presence gave me some sort of a comfort; it drove away my fear of the dark. For the few initial days, I did not sleep well and felt discomfort all the time even though all amenities were available.

Speaking of amenities, the struggle I faced in setting up the house – getting it cleaned, repaired and brushed up – almost drove me out of the city. I was so demoralized and fed up. Even though I had help from loyal friends and friendly neighbours, who offered me to come over and stay at their place if I didn’t find the new house comfortable, I felt I was ‘fighting all alone’, not that it was such big a fight, really. But well, for me, everything is a big deal and I have to go fanatic and paranoid over every little thing. So, I did strain to get the bathrooms cleaned, drinking water arranged, the old musty smell & dust removed all the while fretting and complaining about how troubled I was.

The thing was I wasn’t thinking clearly. The cobwebs and dust had messed up my mind too much that I refused to see and implement easy solutions. The drinking water problem was ultimately solved by a carton of bottled water. The musty air reduced once I started living there and fresh air came into the house. I bought air fresheners for the bathrooms and cupboards and incense sticks for the rooms to liven them up. The broken ply and discarded boxes were picked away one day in my absence leaving my balcony spotless clean & me quite speechless. Some things just took care of themselves.

I had done up the previous house with a lot of compassion. It was upsetting emptying the shelves and stripping the walls (only an overly emotional person like me can think like this). What made it even more difficult was the strife I had my flatmate just days before leaving. We never communicated directly and at times I wonder what really happened. Nonetheless, it only increased the already wide distance between us. I do not like remembering the moments of taking away my things off the walls (all the decorative items in the house were my contributions. My flat mate wasn’t interested in decorating because she knew she was going to stay temporarily) and kitchen while my flat mate was still in the house. It was like I wasn’t leaving the house, I was parting with memories and old friends.

With my relationships turned sour, feelings still bitter (and a verbal war with a neighbour), I shifted into this musty, tiny, poorly maintained flat; I was convinced that this house wasn’t right for me and energies were signalling me to quit. Then things started looking up. My good old friends arrived from Bombay to spend 2 days with me. Those 2 days, the house became even messier and I did not mind. I just enjoyed with them. I let go. And then things took care of themselves.

I still haven’t returned to my usual routine – exercise, writing, reading, etc (which explains the long break from the blog). I am still conscious of the new surroundings. When I cook breakfast, I don’t actually devour it. I still feel weird. The warmth of the house is yet to touch me. The typical smell of the house is yet to be personalized by me. But I am sure I will start calling it ‘home’ soon.

Of course there have been good consequences too. There are no unexpected unknown people lounging around the house. The mess is lesser (and familiar). Because necessity is the mother of invention, I have dealt with shouldering the entire burden of expenses in my own way. I have full control of the utility items & food that comes in the house. My flat mate never shelled out for these. So instead of buying these items for 2 people (or 3, if you count The Boyfriend), I buy it only for myself. The food provided by Tiffin services in large quantity doesn’t have to be wasted. Instead of 2, now I order just one and have it for the whole day. Saves money and food. I also avoid eating out now. So I save money and also avoid oily junk food. I have become money conscious and spend only when needed. I probably wouldn’t have taken these measures had I continued living comfortably undisturbed in the old house.

I have learnt several lessons in the whole process – of staying calm, taking things as they come and looking at what you have and not what is amiss. Had I done this, the moving process would have been an exciting journey.

Lonely Roads

The only reason why I enjoyed driving back home today, despite the over-time at work, was the empty roads. Since as far as my memory goes, I have liked empty, silent lanes. I have been avoiding crowded main roads for silent, hidden ones. The lane that I took from my bus-stop till back-gate of the colony at Bombay, was lonely save a temple, a residential building, a dump yard and a truck parking area haunted by truck drivers. Despite the risk of being attacked, I did that. Have been doing that till today. I wonder why. Never really pondered on this trait. Is that I don’t want to be around people? Do I enjoy the quiet? Do I want to avoid catching everyone’s attention?

Maybe one or all of these.

Some years back when I started staying with roommates, after living alone for a long phase, I did enjoy having them around me but was always relieved whenever I got few moments or hours of loneliness at home. This is an odd trait for someone who loves to talk to friends whole day. Someone who loves sharing every little thing with all her friends. Someone who is depressed and dull because her Blackberry is misbehaving since the last few days and hence, is unable to connect with her friends.

I guess, there is a loner in every extrovert. A thinker in every chatterbox. A dreamer in every party animal.

Things have changed. I have become much more social and outgoing now, a trait that had somehow got hidden during my years in Bombay and Aurangabad. Those were the days I was forced to embrace loneliness and became a self proclaimed loner. Still, some of those characteristics have refused to leave me. I still shop on Sunday mornings when the malls or stores have just opened and no one has come in to shop. I do not go to restaurants on Sunday or Saturday nights.

I had got a big jolt when I was thrown into an unknown, seemingly hostile atmosphere in Bombay (where I went for graduation). After being surrounded by a group of fun loving, loving friends, it was difficult to accept hostility – accept the fact that not all people are trustworthy, honest and open. I slowly withdrew into seclusion. And started loving it. Only on rare times did I let down my guard and allow people to come into my laid down boundaries. Those people whom I trusted and still do. Of course, too much of anything is bad and soon the loneliness started biting me. But well, things changed for the better (and I hope that stage of seclusion never comes back).

That jolt taught me a huge lesson in life – loving solitude. For a person who loved to chatter all the time and who could chatter to anyone anytime, loneliness was unbearable. But it did teach me a lot. I understood myself better. I developed and ripened my creative hobbies and passions – things I could do alone. I wrote. I painted. I stitched. I created. I developed a bond with my little cousin – a bond that is ten times stronger today.

Some solitude is good. It is needed in our daily lives. Me-time. All of us need some me-time every day. To retrospect, observe, learn and dream (I am an ardent day-dreamer but let’s not dwell on it!). People we love, we depend on – friends, partner, family – won’t always be available. The only person who will always stand by you is you yourself. And so, love yourself. Love being with you.

Just Go For It

Life gives us new experiences every day. Every time you stumble upon something new, something you have never done / seen before, you are learning something additional. You are made more learned / experienced than the day before. Though we are afraid of stepping into an unknown area (I definitely am. I always dread anything new coming up), it can actually turn into a fun, knowledgeable or adventurous journey. For all you know, you’ll probably develop a new hobby, make new friends and also become more confident of yourself. Confidence is one thing this process will definitely do.

I remember my trip to Pattaya 4.5 years ago. The thought of Paragliding scared me. I will fall. I will get hurt. I won’t be able to follow the technique. I will make a fool of myself. These thoughts crossed my mind. I saw other people doing it and also observed what they answered when nervous people like me asked them – how was it? And most of them said – it was fun. When the moment came when I reached the platform, within seconds the gear was put on me and before I knew it I was up in air. It was almost like being in heaven. I landed back on earth (!!!) much happier and confident. Next came the underwater walk. An oxygen mask is put on your head and you go below the water. Of course, a guide will walk you around. When I was supposed to go in water, I freaked out. I clung on to the boat railing, with panic in my eyes. A boat man pushed my head in water. I was so scared I couldn’t even scream. Below water, I was in heaven again! The only fear was of fish getting inside my long, wide shorts which were bloating up underwater! Nevertheless, I was happy when I came out and till today I boast about the underwater walk adventure.

Our daily life brings in new adventures everyday in the form of a new food dish, a new work assignment or a new social gathering. If you take me for example, any work assignment of an unknown area will immediately scare me. Even before attempting, I get the feeling that it’s going to be difficult and I will fail in it. This fear not only makes me delay the initiative of attacking it but also keeps me feeling uncertain for a long time. When I have overcome the initial discomfort, I have often guided others into the process.

I am now in the process of shifting cities. The only hassle I see is house hunting. Oh yes, I have plans of doing up my new place, shopping and cooking but the house is still not found. I have never looked for houses before. Never needed to. Previously, I have either stayed with relatives or got an immediate reference of a PG or hostel, got into one and stayed there. This is like starting from scratch. I have been telling friends and colleagues to let me know if they know of a house or forward agents’ numbers to me. I’ve put my father, friends and colleagues on the job! After a month, when I would have found a house (hopefully) and set it up (that’s no joke, either), I can help someone else hunt for a place and settle down. I will know about one more thing in a month’s time. Which is good, you know.

I tell myself again and again not to lose confidence and take on everything that comes bravely. Yet, I falter every time. It is time to change! Ok, so i hereby make a resolution – not to let anything or anyone scare me.

Did you go through such instances too when you felt unsure and hesitant? Share your experiences with me!