Category Archives: Learnings

Seriously?? SERIOUSLY!!! 

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You know those days when you just feel like throwing things and stamping your feet in the middle of a supermarket in a right old childlike tantrum until you get what you want? Yeah… I’m having one of those. And no, I’m not PMSing.
Adult life is NOT fun on some days.  On some days, I HATE that I have to be responsible and prioritize and behave myself. I used to be impulsive. I used to be crazy and reckless too. I haven’t done stuff like that in a while. Well, I’ve been adulting away, haven’t I! There’s no time for crazy and reckless and almost always no money for impulsive. (₹6000 for shoes?! That’s a month’s grocery right there!)

I used to trek, travel and in general enjoy my life to the fullest. We had an amazing Nature Club on our campus and I did a lot of trekking before graduating. But I haven’t been on a trek in years. Now, I can’t just get up and decide to go out of town for a week. Everything needs to be planned well in advance if there is any chance of things ever happening. Save up for stuff. Book tickets twenty years in advance to get them cheap. Find a pet sitter. Arrange work schedules (being a freelancer, I need to get enough jobs to cover for my week long absence as well as pay for the vacation) so basically, there’s a lot of long term planning involved.

But here’s the thing about long term plans. THEY DON’T WORK OUT EITHER!! Life sucker punches you and gives you wedgies and bullies you into blowing your long term plans to handle the crisis at hand…
Ok now I’m generalizing a bit. All long term plans may not end up like that but my life is behaving like a particularly recalcitrant child right now… Absolutely refusing to settle down. And I desperately needed to feel that madness again. To feel like something more than just an average middle class woman with a boring life .

A few days ago I was invited to judge a screenplay writing event for the intercollegiate mass media festival that my college hosts every year. Polaris. Polaris had been our lifeblood during our time on campus and being back in the thick of things reminded me once again of how my life has changed since college. I later went to see our Head of Department, Prof. Sudhakar Solomon Raj. Along with being the head of the Bachelors of Mass Media (BMM) program, he is also the heart and soul of the Wilson College Nature Club (WCNC) So basically, the meeting point of the two things that changed my life after I came to the city; BMM and WCNC. Meeting him made me want to go back to college like never before.

But since Harry Potter and his friends smashed all the Time Turners that the Ministry of Magic had, my plans to steal one and go back to college looked bleak. So I decided to do the next best thing. I signed up for the trek that was to happen a week later. Not a long one; just a day long trek. Easy peasy… Not too expensive or time consuming and after years of sitting on my ass, not so physically taxing that I’d find it difficult.

I was excited. Oh so excited! The whole week, I looked forward to the Sunday trek. I fished out my shoes, picked out appropriate attire and made mental check lists of everything I’d need. Even when I was working, I found myself pleasantly day dreaming of the hours I’d spend in the National Park. It was to be my day. MY day… To recapture a sense of adventure, of sheer joy and excitement. To break away from the mundane. It was going to be awesome!

But Life is that bitch who came up with the idea of pouring pig’s blood on Carrie when she was expecting to have the time of her life.  Yep. A real bitch!

‘Cause guess what happened just before I was to leave for the trek. Go on… You get three guesses…

Nope, my shoes didn’t fall apart.

And my only trek worthy set of clothes didn’t tear.

And I didn’t suddenly get a call for a coveted assignment.

I woke up with a crick in my neck. Yes!! A bloody CRICK IN MY F’ING NECK!!! Can you believe that?! I mean, after having looked forward to this all week, here I was, groaning in pain, typing out my message to Sudhakar Sir explaining my absence because one bone in my body decided to call in sick! Today… It was supposed to be MY day!! I was supposed to go grab life with both hands or whatever… But I can’t because of a crick in my neck..?! I mean… Seriously??? Seriously!!!!

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I Donated My Hair… For Myself!

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I must have been 13 or 14 when I read ‘Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul’. I remember one story in particular. It was about a girl who shaved off her head to support her best friend who was going through cancer treatments. I then learnt that one could donate one’s hair to make wigs for cancer patients and I found myself toying with the idea of donating mine… but being a teen, I forgot all about it and moved on.

It’s been over a decade since that thought occurred to me. A lot of things happened. Most important among those,  I grew up and the world changed.

I woke up one day and terror attacks had become a reality. So had extinction of species, horrible disease outbreaks, natural calamities, gruesome, heartbreaking crimes against humans and animals, large-scale disasters, climate change and every other horrible thing that could happen to the planet. One morning I woke up and realized that this world isn’t a world anymore. It is just a jigsaw that was being held together by some glue that was now giving way and the pieces were steadily falling apart, breaking a beautiful ‘whole’ into a million tiny, ridiculously senseless pieces. This was around the same time I was old enough to know that I wanted to have a family; with a husband, children and pets. But every time I opened a newspaper, my heart quaked. I kept asking myself, is this the world I want to bring a child into? If I do, how do I explain to my baby why the world is the way it is? And when my kids ask what I did to stop it from being this way, what would I say? And I realized I didn’t have an answer for that day.

So I decided to prepare that answer. I few weeks ago, I turned 27. I decided to use the day as a starting point and did what I had wanted to do since the day I read that story about the girl who went bald for her friend. I donated my hair. I went to a salon, got it nicely washed and blow dried, braided and then sheared off. I gave them to ‘Cope With Cancer’ an organization that helps cancer patients, which includes making wigs for underprivileged women. Then I shared a picture on Facebook with details of what I’d done in the hope that more people would be encouraged to donate hair.

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It’s more fun than you’d think!

Then the comments and messages started pouring in. I expected the ‘kudos’ and ‘amazing’ responses. But then there were people who called me brave.. courageous… selfless… And I thought I should probably clarify myself here.

Donating my hair was NOT a selfless move. It is probably the most selfish thing I’ve ever done.

There is a big misunderstanding with the concept of ‘doing good’ these days. It is no longer something for you to do when you have extra resources. It is no longer an optional, extra curricular activity. Look around… the world is a playground with evil running rampant everywhere. Haven’t you heard of the epics? They talk of wars of Good verses Evil. Wars. Not tea parties, not conferences, not exchange of ideas. Wars. And no war was won by sitting calmly and tossing a bullet in every now and then. Make no mistake, this is a war!

If you open your eyes and see the world, you’d know the kind of decay that is ruining us. George Carlin told us how the planet doesn’t need saving; it will survive the human species and continue to exist.. it is we who are in trouble. And we will probably be the only species in the history of this planet to have destroyed ourselves! Is this the world you want to hand over to your children? A world doomed to finish them off? God knows, I don’t want that. I want them to have a world with hope. A world that is slowly being pieced back together. One that I feel proud in handing to them, not ashamed. I want it to be a gift to them, not a debt that I pass on! And I am waging a war of Good against Evil to be able to do that.

That is why I will do everything in my capacity to counter everything evil in this world. That’s why I donated my hair to counter one person who abandoned someone who’s sick. That is why I rescued a dog and gave him a home to negate one animal abandoned and hurt by a human. That is why I avoid plastic bags and reuse everything I can to counter those polluting the planet. I compliment random strangers to make them feel better to counter people who go out of their way to hurt others. I donate my clothes to organizations like Goonj that make good use of them to counter people who create senseless waste. This is not a list of amazing things I do because I am selfless. This is a list of my most selfish deeds. My inventory of ammunition against evil. This is how I fight.

I am NOT a selfless, kind gentle girl who likes to help. I am a selfish, ferocious goddess of war. I am tomorrow’s mother, fighting for my unborn children. Kindness, generosity, gentleness are not my attributes. They are my weapons of mass destruction. And I will keep fighting so that when my kid asks me, what did I do to save the world, I won’t have a helpless non-answer. I will have answers. And if you have any desire to face your children with your head held high, you’d join me. You’d do everything… EVERYTHING in your capacity to help. This is no longer a passive, ‘do it in your free time’ kind of Good… This is an active, ‘do it with every breath you’ve got’ kind of Good.

You don’t need me to tell you what to do. The list is there, all around. This is a war zone. Jump in, grab a weapon and give it your best. Adopt an animal, Adopt a child, stop using plastic, create a replacement for plastic, give someone a smile or give them a home, feed a hungry child or a hungry village, fight off a child molester, stand up for your domestically abused friend, save water, save energy, save a teen from drugs or save the world from a nuclear war… do whatever is in your capacity. No deed is too small. Every effort counts.

In a world that’s falling apart, mild selflessness won’t do. Be as aggressively selfish as you can; do it only for your own children and your honor in their eyes. But for the love of God, fight… Fight till the day an act of kindness and love doesn’t become a rarity that is hailed as ‘brave’ or ‘courageous’… but seen as the most normal thing to do. Fight… So that when our children wake up one fine morning, instead of finding a world that’s falling apart like a million, tiny, ridiculously senseless pieces of a jigsaw that no longer have a glue to hold them together, they will wake up to find a world that is healing… a world with the hope of a future…

 

5 Things I’d Do Differently As An Unmarried Girl

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Hi All!

Jeez! You’d think a writer would be more prompt and consistent with her blog! Apparently not… But cut me some slack… I’m running a house here with little to no experience! Anyway, I’m here now… So if you have absolutely nothing to do, read on!

I got thinking the other day about how much has changed since the wedding… how much I’ve changed… Not more than four years ago, I was sure I was not getting married. Now, I’m happy I didn’t stick to that. However, now that I’ve seen the other side of the coin, a few thoughts came to me about what I would do differently if I got to go back to being unmarried. A lot of these look like regrets but barring the last one, they are not. They are my learnings, things I’ve taken in my stride, written off as bad judgment calls and moved on. So here are the things I’d do differently if I could be unmarried again:

  1. Traveled More

1As a college kid, I traveled a lot. We had an active nature club in our college; The Wilson College Nature Club. And we went on several treks across the country. Even my media course involved a yearly trip with the class. Other than that, I did a little travel of my own too; a country wide stint with the Tata Jagriti Yatra to study enterprise led development all across the country. But after college, the traveling all but stopped. Now I wish I’d done more of it. I LOVE to travel… so does my husband. But the kind of travel you can do as a single, unattached young girl is very different from the sort you do as a married woman with a house to run. For one, I could have afforded to let curiosity be my guide and take me wherever it wanted. Now, my husband and I need to plan, prioritize and make contingencies for contingencies. Mind you, I enjoy this too.. but if I got a do over, I’d do a LOT more of the ‘young girl’ kinda adventurous traveling in the years between graduation and marriage.

  1. Taken Better Care Of My Health

2 I wish I’d eaten those fruits when mom told me to. I wish I’d worked out more often. I wish I’d made it a habit to oil my hair and maintain it well. If I’d done that back then, today, it would have been second nature and not just another thing I need to learn to do. If I get a do over, I’d go back and push myself to do these things till they became muscle memory. I’d keep myself fit and in good health, irrespective of the pressures of my career. I’d have eaten healthier, kept my hair long and beautiful like they used to be when I was a kid. Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t about living up to some impossible standard of beauty. Think of it more as a self maintenance routine. If I could do that, I’d have a much better version of me today, a much healthier, fabulous haired version, much more adept at handling the stress of day to day life.

  1. Insisted On A Smaller Wedding 

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I loved my wedding day. It was perfect! It was beautiful! Our pandit (priest) explained each step of the rituals to us and it felt divine! We had a relatively small wedding because both of us didn’t believe in the opulent, money guzzling mini festivals people have these days in the name of weddings. We saved ourselves a lot of financial headaches due to that but even then, it was not an easy feat to pull off. It DID burn holes in our pockets. And now, every time we begin to put things on the back burner due to financial priorities, I find myself wondering, was it worth it? Of course, having our whole entire extended families and friends there with us on that day did feel wonderful… but wouldn’t it have been a nicer feeling to have no financial worries in the first year of being married? We aren’t exactly cutting corners right now but I have a feeling we might have put the money to better use after the wedding day than on it. When we decided on forever, we’d toyed with the idea of a court wedding but given up on it not only for the sake of our families but also because we’d wanted to experience the rituals. If I got to make that choice again however, I am half convinced that I’d go for a much smaller, intimate affair with just our parents and siblings at the family court or a small temple. We’d have spent far lesser and had a much larger kitty to begin our life together with. Yes, it would have been a task convincing the families to agree upon this; a lot of people would have felt hurt and excluded but I could have come up with a way to convince them if I’d have tried. After all, they love us so much, they would have liked the idea of our secure life more than a big wedding day.

Note To Self: If my son/ daughter asks for a small wedding or a court wedding, I will not pressurize them into anything else. I’ll know that they have the foresight that I lacked and give them my blessings.

  1. Spent More Time With My Sister and My Cousins

5I enjoy the fabulous position of being an elder to one awesome sister and four cousin brothers on my mothers side along with being a younger sister to two elder cousin brothers on my father’s side. All my cousins are amazing. Yes, as kids we spent innumerable holidays together. We fought, had ‘adventures’ and created memories. But as the years built up, we saw lesser and lesser of each other. I wish that hadn’t happened. Now, three of my brothers live in three foreign countries… the remaining may not be distanced as much by space as by time. Yet, I feel a bond with all of them. We keep in constant touch via social networks and whatsapp but it is not the same. I wish I could have had a little more time with all of them. A few more summers and festivals that I spent instead with friends and work. If I could do it all over, I’d make it a priority to be with them more often. And though my sister and I lived under the same roof until 10 months ago, I’d spend more time with her too. Take her shopping maybe, or for a movie every once in a while… I wish I’d done that.

  1. Learnt More Of Mom’s Cooking 

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This is a regret. It is not a learning, it is a regret. My mom is an earth shatteringly awesome cook… so are my aunts and my grand mothers. Thanks to that, I was raised with some of the best quality home made food ever that seemed to magically appear on the table at every meal. My mom made cooking look so easy, I never took it too seriously. I never understood the value of that food. As a teen, I made faces at the vegetables and used any excuse to eat out. But today, when I could easily order in for every other meal, my heart craves that soul food. Now, I bug my mom every day for her recipes and she whatsapps them to me. I know now as I toil in the kitchen, just how much effort goes into making one single, simple meal. Every time I cook, I taste it and feel, ‘its not as good as mom’s’. I often say, world peace is only one step away; get all the world leaders to sit at a table and eat my mother’s cooking… they’d be so contented, they wouldn’t entertain thoughts of something as wasteful and ridiculous as war. So if I get a do over, I’ll spend a lot more time in the kitchen with mom. I’ll learn how to make food the way she does so that when I have my own kitchen, I’ll know how to run it like her. And I’ll tell her how much I love her food as many times as I could because no exotic burgers, no amazing buffet can compare to the peace and tranquility of mom made food.

Piece of advice to the unmarried folks: go into the kitchen right now and hug your mom (or dad… whoever is cooking). And while you can, learn their recipes. Girls, don’t think this is a ‘backward’ thought… to learn to cook for your husbands… learn to cook for yourselves, even if you don’t plan to get married. Guys, you are no exception. You may find yourself a wife who will oblige to cook for you but you WILL miss your home food. So learn the recipes now so that you can make them for yourself later. I know my husband misses his mom’s cooking too. But since we live close to them, he gets a chance to go back and eat there often. You may not be that lucky… my mom lives 400 km away and I get the chance to eat at her table very rarely…

Its been 9 months since we got married and it took me this long to realize these things. I hope that this helps those of you who are in a place good enough to have the time to do the things you want to. I know it sounds preachy but twenty years from now, you’ll want a do over. However, no matter how badly we wish for them, do-overs are not a reality. To quote the MLTR song, Living is a one way street… So do it right the first time. Strive for the things you want out of life but in the race to get ahead of time, don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate what you have. Take a look at the back burners every now and then and make sure you aren’t letting some of your dreams burn away. After all, Life isn’t about where you reach but about how you got there… enjoy the journey!

 

Much Love!

The New Mrs. Iyer