Tag Archive | personal blog

What I Am Up To These Days

The thing I really like these days is FM radio I listen to when I drive around. They play such good songs. And new songs always keep coming. I really need them because the driving around can be a lot. Whoa!, you might say. From fear of driving to driving around a lot? I am carried away because of the newfound freedom (which means ability to drive + ownership of a credit card + new friends). I have literally been painting the town red driving here-n-there to shop, window shop, meet friends, pick up medicines or even visit the doctor. It’s an opportunity to dress up, go out, meet people, talk to someone and explore new roads. I am no longer afraid of new freeways, one-way roads or long distances. I tune the radio to a good, latest song and drive on. 15 miles or 25, they turn out to be fun. There are days when I drive as much as 60 miles a day.

Time is flying. It’s been 2 months since my semester at college ended. Where did these 2 months go? Most probably on the road and in stores! After my obsession with home decoration slowed down, the kick of meeting and making new friends seeped in. I started meeting classmates, fellow bloggers and realized I was still social. Why, I thought so many months of solitude and self-centeredness would have made me a complete recluse. But no, I found myself getting along well with several and we met more than once. Because of them, I saw new places, came to know of new stores and restaurants and soon, I start telling At about new stores I discovered and bring good deals home.

Life seems more and more complete and busy each day. Such that I die for some breathing time. Such that I put my hands up one day, flustered, and tell At to just take the car away so that I do not go out at least on one day of the week.

When I am not loitering around, I cook, clean the house, organize stuff, search Pinterest for home decor ideas, laze around, admire my little balcony garden and listen to music. Basically, am turning into a complete homemaker which is bothering At a lot. So you did nothing again today. I haven’t seen you touch your books since your college has ended. Why are you wasting your time and talent like this?

He is right. The shine of shopping on my own (even if it’s plain grocery shopping), meeting new people and looking at a clean, organized house is growing fainter each day. Every day, after the little routine of making breakfast, cleaning up and admiring the balcony garden is done, I feel aimless. I have nothing to do!

In the evenings, after At is back, we take a long walk around the golf course in our neighbourhood, watch Law & Order: Criminal Intent or some hindi movie and have a gala meal (cooked by me of course!).

Weekends are always busy. Eating out, major shopping, social visits and some more shopping.

Today, we have had a great breakfast of Egg Fry & Chicken-Cheese-Spinach sausage, followed by a visit to the flea market that had great music and food and finally, hot simple lunch at home while watching Law & Order.

I wish life was always so easy.

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Driving Towards Freedom

One of the biggest pain points for me here has been driving. Back in January, in a bout of frustration of not being able to move around on my own, I compelled At to let me drive his car. Of course, the rules unnerved me but I wanted to give it a try. Handling the car or the city roads wasn’t difficult. I was confident until I went to the freeway (yes, on Day 1). I freaked out. I didn’t know what I was doing. I would press the brake on the fast track freeway in a moment of panic and At would yell – DO NOT BRAKE ON THE FREEWAY. The speed totally unnerved me. I wouldn’t go beyond 40 mph and At would panic again – SPEED! SPEED! Changing lanes was a nightmare. I confused people, I drove between lanes and people honked behind me. Someone must have showed me the finger too.

I gave up.

At pestered me again to start driving. Less confident this time, I tried again. Sometimes I sailed and was happy. Ah. Of course I could do it. I will start driving here in no time. Until some giant sized truck would threaten me from behind or the speeding cars would freak me out again.

I started avoiding driving. One whole month of April went without me sitting behind the wheel.

My cousin came for a week in May and I either took her around in buses or waited for At to take us around. I hated myself for being so scared and unsure of my own abilities. Why, I had heard of girls beginning to drive here within days of arrival!

I was used to be a good driver. Back in India, I was admired for my driving skills. You drive better than a man. And here I was so unconfident.

Then one day, after too much chewing over, I gave it a try again and I was good. I attacked this ‘issue’ with vigour and felt so good about myself.

Such that one day At, tired of being the only driver, asked me to take the car on my own to college. And I agreed. Not that I was totally confident. Nope. I was just tired of being so unsure and doubtful. I was tired of being a burden. I had had enough of friends and classmates dropping me off here and there. I was tired of being so dependant.

I did take the car alone to college. I did well. And I was miraculously good at sewing that day. See how a little confidence boost can do wonders to a person’s entire morale!

Having done well on college-home route, I needed to move on. The whole continent moves on GPS. I had to fall in line too. And thus began my rendezvous with unknown roads. I used GPS to travel to newer places, At suddenly freed of half the responsibilities – grocery store, doctor visits, entertaining guests – I could do it all on my own now.

My whole feeling changed! I felt empowered. Everything looked more beautiful now. I was no longer a stranger; I finally belong here! I hold a space of land and road here; I am something here.

And yet again, I am a good driver.

So confident was I (and At), that I went to my final driving test alone. Despite all the anxiety, I was so sure I would clear. What I did not realize was, I totally missed the window of doubt. Even after a smooth 15 minutes ride in my car, the stone faced examiner said try again next time. He left the evaluation sheet on the passenger seat and left. I was speechless. What just happened? Unsatisfactory, I saw ticked on the sheet. Nooo, is this for real??

They failed me! I wailed over phone to At. That’s okay, its common here, he said.

No! It cannot happen with me! I was (err… am) a good driver!

I brooded. Complained to all my friends. I bit my pride and told them I had failed.

But unlike earlier, this brooding didn’t last long. After a couple of hours, I was back to normal, doing other things. Yet another ‘down’ of the various ‘ups and downs’ here. This will pass too.

Like M very nicely put – the good thing about bad times is that they change.

2 Months Here

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Valentine’s Day had a new meaning for me this year. Rather, it had some meaning this time (after being treated as just another day for so many years). Not that I have much confidence in this concept. It’s just about making someone’s day special and feeling good about it yourself. So, pre Valentine evening found me cook up a gala dinner and 14th morning saw me gifting a self-made card to At, surprising him like hell.

Even college instructors tried making the day special, despite all the long classes and tedious work. They generously gave us loads of heart shaped chocolates (which I shamelessly hogged).

14th Feb holds a special meaning for me for another reason too. I completed 2 months in the U S of A on this date! I will proudly say that I got into groove pretty quickly. From being a lost confused girl, who didn’t know how to pass her day, lest her husband took her out, to a confident girl who has her hands full and plans her routine (including dinner menus) in advance.

Joining college has helped me a lot in this. I am meeting new people, making fresh impressions and making my own set of friends (and not just moulding myself in already made friend circles and trying to adjust to already set norms). I made my first friend, my very own, in my class. S is Indian and a very helpful, sweet girl. She is a companion all the time and a saviour in many times.

From being a total newbie in the kitchen, not knowing how to cook anything except coffee, I have come a long way. From coffee to French Toast to Bhindi-aloo sabzi to various Pulaos to Cream Of Spinach soup. I am proud of the progress I have made in the kitchen.

Soon after coming here, I battled with weight increase, hair fall and skin issues. All a part of the change over, probably. I fought them. Doctors helped, so did the internet. And here I am. 2 kgs lost in 2 months, hair fall problem gone, skin issues gone.

My routine is set. I know when to cook, when to do my homework, when to chat with friends and when to exercise. I know what to eat and what not to eat. My will power did not go weak when we went to an Indian mithai outlet yesterday. Of course, the rasmalais and namkeens and nankhatais reminded me of home but they also reminded me of the 5 kgs I put on in the last 3-4 months.

When I am not in college, I am doing assignments at home, organizing my college materials / stationery and cooking up a feast. Those 4 days of free time pass in a daze. I overwork myself at college, working hard and carrying all the heavy books around, and overwork myself at home doing cooking experiments.

After ages, I am actually enjoying a holiday today. I can’t remember the last time I sat down peacefully in the sun enjoying some hot chocolate.

Somehow, I don’t mind being on the busy side of life, either.

Student Again

I opened the only notepad I own currently. My last company’s notepad given to me by a colleague friend. The notepad opened on an already written page. It contained a list. Bread, brinjals, tomato puree, black cumin seeds. Oh. The groceries list.

For a moment I was lost. And confused.

The Fashion Drawing class instructor’s voice interrupted my thoughts. I turned the page till I got a fresh page.

A fresh page. A fresh beginning.

I sat among the odd bunch of younger (very young) students. Being used to be the youngest of the lot, being one of the oldest was…. awkward. But here, no one cares. People from all races, age groups and backgrounds come to study the same courses for different reasons. A cosmetologist leans sewing and patternmaking for hobby. An elderly lady learns the same thing because she is already so good with sewing at home. Some people can barely talk English. Some are peculiar. In fact, each person is peculiar for the other. To be true, no one really cares.

And this encourages me to open up quicker and more easily.

We are told about course contents, grading patterns, assignments (weekly, by the way) and a whole list of hundreds of equipment, material and supplies needed. Whoever led us to think that Fashion Designing is glamorous and fun was joking with us. I cannot imagine myself as a clever prospective designer everyone will envy. I visualize myself running around from sewing machine to sewing machine, trying to put pieces of cloth together, looking at fantastic designs of other students, perspiring, fretting, not having eaten anything since ages because there is no time to save my life, and going totally blank in the end.

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I will learn to make such illustrations in my Fashion Drawing class. Possible?

After years of listening to lectures (rather, staring at the professor blankly), this seems like real hard work. There are scary looking machines, peculiarly shaped instruments, 20 types of pencils, pens and markers, dangerous life-threatening sharp equipments and a confusing array of paper. All of these threaten to kill my dream, my passion. Suddenly my good taste in fashion and excess wardrobe seems so meaningless.

While I spoke to few classmates to gather information and exchange opinions, I spent all my free time wandering about the building (the cold and wind made it all so tough). I looked for a place to have my lunch (a simple home made sandwich), spoke to At and read a book in that 1.5 hours break. I spent some time wandering about the empty corridors. So silent was this building that one could hear each approaching footstep clearly. In the evening, after sunset, the place looked almost eerie.

Despite the intimidating lab and unnerving course outline, the dream in my eyes hasn’t died. Applied Arts and Sciences. I read this heading above all doorways I passed with pride. I am a part of the Arts department, I thought, my heart swelling with pride. Cheer up, I told myself. This is where you always wanted to be.

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.

 

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.

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.

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