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Shifting Gears Again

This year has brought (or rather, is bringing) a big, BIG change in my life. I am shifting gears. I am making an unimaginable shift. After spending close to 7+ years in Human Resources and industrial products manufacturing companies, I am switching to Apparel and Fashion Designing! Didn’t I make many jaws drop and eyebrows shoot up? Impossible! Crazy move! But this is the plain fact. I am finally making my dream come true (much of the credit goes to At for encouraging me, leading me into this). I start classes from Monday. After studying Management fundas that were mostly full of air and not much substance, I am coming down to pure skill building. Working in a lab with mannequins, cloth, thread, needles and sewing machines. After attending the department’s orientation session last evening, I realized fashion designing is far from glamorous. No, I cannot dress up and wear good shoes to college because I will be running around and working in that scary looking lab. I cannot think beyond sneakers there.

The session also made me realize that my easy days are over. Till now, even though I was at home all the time, I just whiled away my time browsing the internet, listening to music, chatting endlessly with some selected few friends in US. I did no or little work, sparing some mediocre cooking that I did if and when I felt like. I am sure when I am neck deep into assignments and struggling with the sewing machine (which is something I haven’t touched till date) I will want to be an idle dependant housewife again.

To make the most of the remaining 4 days, that I have before my classes start, I have listed down on a few things that I MUST do without wasting more time. Here they are:

1. Cook something different every day. My cooking went from bad to worse lately and I concluded I can never be a good cook. But still, I want to keep going while I have time, energy and inclination.

2. Practice walking in heels. Yes! I have ended up buying some 4 pairs of high heels and if I have to wear them outside, I need to practice right now at home!

3. Learn the manual focus function of my SLR. Take few pictures (the ones I have been thinking about since ages) to practice the same.

4. Touch base with all friends and family members I have totally lost touch with due to my laziness. Anyway, after yesterday’s session, I am quite clueless about my future state. I better contact everyone now itself!

Enough work for 4 days, I guess!

After Monday, I will have new stories to tell. Stories from a world unfamiliar to most of us.

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Coming Out Of Shell

It gets very lonely here sometimes – a cousin in another city of US told me once. Hang on to whatever friends you have or can get.

US is another world. In order to be happy here, I need to unlearn what I knew and was in my past life and pick up things here. That’s the only way one can enjoy this life. So if I go to a New Year party and don’t drink or dance, I will be labelled mad (this actually happened with me). I need to sit with a drink in hand at gatherings. I need to shop and eat out keeping in mind deals and discounts. I need to be more social, open and extrovert; being the introvert that I am will not help.

The initial few days were very difficult here for an extreme independent, self centred person like me. Of course, girls would want to have a husband who does most work, takes big-small decisions and drives her around for shopping but that didn’t make me happy. It was difficult for me to be a prolonged guest. It pricked to be sitting around doing nothing – in someone else’s house – while he did everything. I kept questioning myself – What is your contribution? What is your worth?

While elders advised me to ‘build my own home’ and focus on new relationship, transform from Me to Us, I am struggling to make my identity in this new country full of strangers. Who am I here now? An insignificant nothing? How can Us be complete if one I is incomplete? And I will feel complete when I feel well achieved. When I feel something.

In the last few days, I experimented with cooking. No world cuisines or delicacies. Simple ghar ka khana. Some were ok, some were inadequate. But I felt happy for achieving something. I gave myself a challenge and fulfilled it. The next target is to be better at it. This new challenge has been driving my days. Every day I look forward to cooking a new sabzi.

The other day, I ventured out into the neighbourhood on my own. That was a big step. I don’t know what was stopping me from walking out and getting lost? Isn’t that the only way of discovering?

Of course, there is the marriage. With a person who is on a totally different plane than me. That does take away half of my energy. Still, to feel content, I try to make the most of my me-time. I talk to old friends, try connecting with new friends, try cooking, read and write.

Between all the keeping-busy, there are moments of nothingness. That’s when I realize life is lonely. When I am wide awake during the day, every one else in India is fast asleep. I have been used to having people around me all the time – colleagues, neighbours, friends, family. Suddenly, there is no one.

It does get lonely here.

Sometimes I wonder if I should even think of my past life. Yeah, I have begun to call it past life. There is no point mixing it up with new life. The two can’t merge. The components of my past life need not find their way in here. This world is different from the other. And to be happy here, I need to forget the other one.

* * * *

New Chapter Begins

I woke up the first morning in this new country and realized I did not have my usual microwave utensils – the ones that were my lifeline, actually. The ones I used the most in the kitchen. The ones I used to begin my day. And I panicked. Kitchen is an area I am usually clueless about. Unless it is the microwave and my favourite microwave equipment.

So here it was. My first moment of panic. The first time I felt lost in a new country, a new house. The first time I wanted to be back in my shabby rented Baroda house.

It’s been around 2 days in U S of A – my new base and though it felt like an illusion for some time, the cloud seems to be clearing now. While on the surface, I liked the new surroundings, the new way of living, a tiny voice prompted me from somewhere at different points of time, reminding me that everything is new. Different. Something I am not used to. Something not my own.

The first weekend here has been spent in getting up late, sleeping with no time in mind, eating with no time in mind and basically lazing around. The cold weather helps the cause. Though I would want to be on my feet all the time, working hard and keeping myself busy, I can’t help but go with the flow. Maybe I should just enjoy the ‘doing nothing’ part for some time (especially when At has liberally offered to treat me like a guest for a week). Is this what is called wedded bliss?

Wedded bliss began immediately after marriage. All I did was be a guest in different houses, get pampered, have money spent on and eat. A LOT. Women I know said I should enjoy this phase as it would never come back. Sometimes I did. Sometimes I just felt burdened.

There is anyway nothing much I can do right now, except tagging along and silently watching. With no phone of my own, no car, no familiarity with the house and city, no routine of my own, I feel handicapped. And helpless. Being dependant…. pricks. Although At is quite caring and understanding, I do not like this me.

At this point of time, I feel clueless – about what I am and what I will be. How things will move. If I could transform from a fierce, independent, fearless woman to a docile, submissive, confused one, I really don’t know what to expect from future.

So. What next?

I find blank pages magnetic. When I look at blank paper, either lying carelessly or stacked beautifully, I get a feeling they ar waiting to be written upon. Waiting to hear new stories, deepest thoughts and hidden fears. Waiting to provide solace or solutions.

In the chaos of last 10 days, a blank half torn notepad called me on. I have been tagging along with my in-laws (testing my patience and maturity) and that one look at the notepad let free a flow of clogged thoughts. When there is so much happening with you, you don’t know from where to begin because everything seems significant.

After crying from rooftops that I am not happy about the Big Change, I’d be a hypocrite to say that marriage isn’t that bad (so far, atleast) for many reasons. A great new family. A down to earth, understanding husband. Lot of pampering.

Since the wedding, I have only been driven around from restaurants to malls to clubs. I get to eat what I want. I get to decide where to go. Of course there are lots of inner battles to fight. But overall, a girl would give anything to be in my place today. In which house are you showered with sudden gifts every other day? In which house does one get to stay like a real guest – wake up late and eat an already made huge breakfast spread? Which MIL makes it clear to her sons that things will happen as per the new entrant as it is ‘her time’? Which man does all he can to keep his new wife out of all chaos and drama? Though the road seems to be a bit bumpy right now, I can see wide smooth road ahead. The journey is likely to be good.

The dread that I was harbouring before wedding dissolved quickly – even before the wedding day. And I started enjoying the wedding prep. The bride-to-be is enjoys the wedding preparations in a different way. She gets too much attention, pampering and is expected to do nothing but rest for the big day. So, that’s exactly what I did. I sat back, watched everyone working, having fun, chatting and meeting up with friends and relatives.

Getting emotional was not the solution at this stage. There were too many emotions – mine and others’ – to handle. Dealing with my own emotions isn’t difficult; its others’ that I can’t handle. Because I was too helpless here. I just decided to take care of my own and let others handle theirs.

When the moment finally came, when I had to go away, I was surprisingly cool. Cool to the extent of being emotionless. I dealt with the rituals, however ridiculous I found them to be, with discipline and seriousness. They had to be done. Part of the big game. The big story.

I had conditioned myself too much. I did not let homesickness come in. I didn’t notice my family wasn’t around me. I didn’t realize how much stress I was going through by patiently dealing with a new home full of strangers. Did I cry? Did I feel sad? No. How could I? There is so much to cope up with. There was no time for anything else.

I am stuck between 2 worlds. 2 lives. 2 chapters. I belonged to one but am expected to suddenly adopt the other – which I am diligently, speedily trying to do. I am dedicating myself too much to it, not thinking of anything else. But in the process, I belong to neither world.

Every day holds new discoveries – of the family’s dynamics. Of your own hidden fears and strengths. Of changes and realizations. Of the new family’s secrets, weaknesses and issues.

Looks like, for a long long time, I will be going on an unplanned adventure trip.

Every Day Is A Sunday

If you think you get less time because you work in Corporate and once you are free, you will have lots of time to do all the things you love, you are mistaken. Ever since I left my job, around 5 days ago, I have only been running around, completing pending tasks and basically trying to fit too many things in a day.

This is what happens when you have too much time.

If you really want to make the best use of it, actually.

I have been waiting for this phase – a break in Corporate life. Ever since I knew I would be jobless in some time, I knew I had to do something productive the whole day and not waste it watching movies or browsing internet. This is how I want to utilize this break.

We keep reading life and productivity blogs that say there are better things in life – those little things that need to be enjoyed, how we need to slow down, etc. I knew this was the right time to do all of that.

The day I arrived home, after leaving Baroda, I plunged into a schedule. I nose-dived into unpacking, disposing off things, and clearing up the whole mess along with blogging, reading and music. When I would take rest from dragging around cartons and cleaning cupboards, I think – I wasn’t this tired / busy when I was working!

So, I get up not later than 8:30 am (I know that’s not that early to boast of), start my day with yoga, eat breakfast that is just right for me (and not get carried away by all the love and pampering that my family is showering on me), read some blogs, do some cleaning, chat with Mum, experiment some microwave cooking in evening with Mum, write and fall asleep on time while reading a book.

Even then, I wish I had more time.

It is not difficult to be conquered by laziness. Why, most of our holidays have been spent in lounging on the couch in front of TV or chatting with friends or aimlessly browsing internet. But what do you do when your whole life becomes a ‘holiday’? What do you do when there is no company half-day-deduction rule that prevents you from getting up late? Or, when there are no deadlines and projects to rake your brains? Or, when there is no boss to chase you and you are left to be your own spoilt self?

This is when self-discipline and some bit of will come into picture.

In the past one month, I thought a lot about ways to ensure my brains don’t rust and I don’t start bloating.

And when I am not obsessing over being extra-productive and aspiring about making it big, I try to enjoy those much talked about little, joyful things in life – hitting the right note after experimenting with different kinds of coffee every day, calmly reading blogs and interacting with other bloggers, talking to atleast one friend every day, sharing moments of joy with all friends, loosening up with yoga, the feel and aroma of fruity lotions and perfumes, morning cool and dew, finding childhood relics in unexpected places.

I’m liking that every day is a Sunday for me.

                   

A Sip Of Warmth

I’ve come to eat out alone after ages. I am at The Chocolate Room, waiting for my Dark Hot chocolate. I sat down and placed my order without looking at the menu.

After work today, I rushed to buy gifts for my Besties, got petrol and air filled, did some tailor work and then wondered what to do before my official farewell dinner scheduled at 8 pm. Should I go and finish the other tailor work, or complete some additional minor shopping or go to my cousin’s to kill time?

I was starving. Saturday traffic is at work, going crazy, on the roads. Chuck everything. The Chocolate Room was nearby. I rushed there and told the attendant in a resigned tone – Table for just one??

Sometimes, I just want to stop running. Yes, there is shopping to be done, things to be achieved, repair work to be done. You need to run against time, along with all the rushing people and get your work done. But for once, can I just stop and let everyone go ahead? Can I let my dreams wait?

I had my last day at work today. Was I sad? Was I relieved? Cannot pinpoint. I went through a mixture of feelings every nano-second.

Anger for my settled life getting disturbed.

Helplessness for getting flown with the current.

Panic for walking into unknown. For throwing away the good life I had in my hand.

Relief for being relieved of one big responsibility – job.

Bemused at not being able to judge whether all that is happening with me is good or bad.

Excited about a new life.

Hope of accomplishing my dreams; doing things I love; making new friends.

In the end, I felt nothing. Nothing.

When I said my Goodbyes and left from work, I was blank.

I still don’t feel I am no longer a part of this entity; this team. They have surrounded me since the last 3 years. My colleagues filled my days. Suddenly, there will be no one. A void is threatening to loom in front of me soon but I have turned my eyes away from it. I am acting like there is no void. And I will ignore it till it screams in front of me and finally wins my attention.

Ah. My Dark Hot Chocolate has arrived. The velvety dark brown froth, like warm brown eyes, is inviting me; asking me if I would like to be transported to heaven.

Care for what I said?

Only Time Will Tell…

I looked at the time on my cell phone. The date turned 1 Nov the moment I lit it. 00:00 was the time displayed. I had been trying to sleep since 45 minutes. Sleep has eluded me since the last few days. No use. I got up and switched on my laptop.

I still can’t believe it’s time for me to move out. I have been taking my own time in making a packing and shifting plan. I hadn’t thought about it or planned it. Only when my landlords begged and cajoled me to pre-pone my moving out, because they committed someone else to come in, was I jolted out of my false perception of reality. Enough of running away, it is time to get moving.

Someone needed to pinch me. To wake me up.

I have been living between tailors and jewellery stores since the last 2 weeks. Last minute repairs and alterations are being done with the instruction ‘I do not have time. Give me back in 3 days’ time as I am moving out of Baroda’.

Really? I am?

I haven’t met people properly! I haven’t revisited all my favourite food joints! I haven’t bought all the things I wanted to for my future life! I see all those ‘plans’ slipping out of my hands. I see time slipping out of my hands. I am just running.

Cool down. There IS still time. Things can be managed. No hell is breaking loose.

The other day, an unsettling talk with my fiancé shook me up a bit. I spoke about how difficult it is for me to uproot my happily settled life (and some other embarrassing crap that I do not want to remember now). It was 11 pm after the call. I don’t know what pulled me towards my car then; and I went for a drive along my favourite roads. I just picked up my car keys and left – without my cellphone, licence or wallet. I went along R C Dutt Road and Race Course Circle. The watchmen looked at me curiously – they always do. They always stare at this single girl who fights like a tigress all the time, acts as snobbish as a queen and often dresses up in tiny clothes. But this was heights (for them, I am sure) – going out alone at 11 pm! What kind of a girl does that?

I wanted to embrace the city that has given me so much. I wanted to talk to it. I wanted to let the silence between us be the last conversation. In all the running around, finishing pending work and completing wedding preparation rituals, this stolen moment wouldn’t come back.

Sometime, I feel slightly warmed up about the approaching new life. There are so many good things that are waiting for me. An opportunity to pursue my hobbies, the much wanted break from Corporate life, life abroad, lots of time to read, blog and write (and an understanding life-partner who is bearing the brunt of my unstable, fanatical state).

I still am not convinced that the big shift is worth it; I am not sure. I am giving up a good life for something better? Something similar? Something difficult?

Only time will tell.