On being skinny

People never stop reminding me how skinny I am. Often it’s the first thing they say when they meet me. That’s brand new information ma’am, thank you. People often assume that I don’t eat and offer me to stay and eat with them for a month or two in the name of goodwill. They sound very concerned as if making me fat is the only way to stop global warming. They sound very confident as if eating with them is miraculously going to change the way my body functions. I hesitate to go for lunch/dinner with such people because they are quick to point out – Look how little you eat! That’s why you are so thin! Here have some more. And more. And more. Because this one gigantic hugely uncomfortable dinner can obviously do what 9125 dinners in my life so far couldn’t.

Some people go on to suggest that I would look so much better if I just start eating bananas and milk every morning. Thank you for pointing out I am ugly. Some people ask me if I go to the gym. Some people ask why I should go to the gym at all (as I obviously don’t need to do). Some people say that they are jealous of how I don’t ever have to worry about my weight. Such a blessing, they are quick to add, you can eat whatever you want and still not gain a gram? Wish I was like you! Being like me means being called a skeleton, a coat hanger, a feather, and a stick figure. Some people also like to call me two dimensional. Some people assume I am sick and weak. I have grown up with these wonderful tags. Not just random strangers, my own family has used them for me.

But skinny girls don’t talk about being skinny because if they do, they are a bitch.

People with an average sense of humour remind me that I might disappear soon. People who once aspired to be doctors but ended up being dentists call me ‘malnourished’. Some people defend me by throwing terms like ‘high metabolism’. I don’t quite understand that and I am sure neither do they. Some people recommend I should take protein. I recommend they should fuck off. Some people think I should be a model. I think they should not be career counsellors. People who want to show off their above-average vocabulary call me ‘anorexic’. I want to show off my creative vocabulary and call them dumbtards.

For twenty five years, I have listened to the same shit wondering what the hell is wrong with my body. And God knows how long this is going to continue.

Listen buddy, I have tried eating more. It doesn’t work. Bananas give me headaches. Artificial protein is exactly what it is – artificial. Being skinny is not a blessing. And yes, I am underweight. I KNOW THAT. But did you notice that I am functioning fine? Hey! I am happy. I don’t get why you are so bothered. So instead of criticizing me why don’t you appreciate your own beautiful three-dimensional body, and get a fucking life. Comprenez?

On Quitting your Job

It will take some time to carry out the social un-conditioning. The layers run deep. The more you explore, the more you would realize how prejudiced you are. It won’t be easy, to discover contradictory things about yourself. It may shake your confidence. It may rob you of your faith. Your insecurity may grow.

You are allowed to take a call. Mission abort! Mission abort!

But I hope you will keep going.

Remind yourself again and again – why you are doing this. You will have to. It’s medicine – you need to take it every day before breakfast and after dinner. And even then, all kinds of what-ifs will crop up each day. There is no guarantee. The roads are hazy, and from time to time, you would wonder if you took a wrong turn. Don’t worry about the wrong and the right turns. What’s done has been done. Just trust your voice and keep on going.

Sometimes you won’t hear that voice. There may be too much noise inside your head. Clear that traffic. Sit down. Relax. Breathe. Introspect. Your ego might not like it – the rejections, the un-replied mails, the criticism, the other people, the could have beens. You would be scared. Be courageous. Look up and face your fears. When you do, you would realize it’s not that dreadful after all.

fear

Of course, your Plan A won’t work. Many times your Plan B might not either. Allow yourself to be creative. You will conceive a new plan. Remember, there is always something you can do. The idea may not hit you right away, but it will. Tell yourself it will.

If you were your actual manager you would hate yourself. It’s hard to satisfy yourself, harder than your ex-boss because you know what you are capable of doing. And this is something you love to do – of course, it can be so much better! God, it will be hard. Your inner boss is a demon. But hear, hear, be assured that when he is pacified, he has brought the best out of you. He won’t let you rest for long though. Next day there would be a new project, with even higher standards. And no, he would never approve your leaves. And criticism is the only language he speaks.

The most difficult appraisals happen before the mirror. Tell the mirror about the things you did right. The journal you wrote, the little Haiku at the back of your diary, the book you read and what you learnt from it, the interesting thing you got to know from the internet, the way you helped a friend in need, the way you spent time with your family, how delicious your lunch was, how you went for a nice walk, how new ideas struck you and how you took note of them, how you worked on them, talk about your new strategies, how you searched for new opportunities and dared to apply, how the small event you organized went well, how you inspired the people you met and how you got inspired by them, how you discovered that old book in library which you wouldn’t find anywhere else, how you meditated, how you sang and learnt something new, how you enjoyed the rain, remind yourself that all of these count as valid building blocks. All of this is work. Value-added work.

Your inner boss might just scoff, but don’t take him too seriously. Don’t take any of those things seriously that discourage you. Don’t let other men and the man in the mirror validate you. You might not know the whole map, but trust yourself and keep on going the road you are on.

Yes, it’s not going to be easy. Definitely. SO think twice before quitting that job. And if you decide not to, then dedicate yourself to the job you do. Eventually, you will learn to love it. You may feel you have lost something. But remind yourself you have gained something too. And if you do quit your job and decide to follow your heart – Don’t look back. You are doing just fine. Remind yourself of the good things. Work on those good things. And just keep swimming.

*

 

When in Paris,

sacre-cour

Going upstairs to Sacré-Cœur, I see a man selling bracelets and keychains. I look at him, he looks at me, he is already holding my arm.

What…is happening?

I am clueless but fortunately, S knows better, she shouts and pulls my hand away. I can still feel his grip on my wrists. ‘That was close,’ she says. ‘Yeah, what was that?’ I ask. ‘They will tie the bracelet to your wrist and ask you to pay for it,’ she replies and continues, ‘Absurd amounts – 10, 20 Euros. And they just won’t let you go.’

Isn’t that a form of attempted robbery? 

I am reminded of the time I was in London. A middle aged man approached me, smiled and gave me a rose, ‘This is for you, pretty lady.’ I took the rose, blood pumping to my cheeks.Wow, London is nice. Meanwhile, the man asked my friend to pay for it. Okay, maybe not. I tried returning the rose to the man. ‘No, just give me 10 pounds!’ He demanded. ‘No,’ we said. Ultimately, the man had to take the rose back. My friend is from Delhi after all. 

Enjoying the view from Sacré-Cœur, S and I are talking about things. We always do, it can range anything from woman centric porn to democracy. Most of the times, our discussion don’t have any conclusions. I think the answer to most abstract questions is the same – Moderation. 

Picture of Sacre Coeur

Sun is shining and Paris has treated us well, mostly. We have enjoyed eating macaroons, and also talking to the guy who sold those macaroons, had the best cheese sandwich, worst Beef Bourguignon , enjoyed the theatrics of crème brûlée, fell in love with soufflé, saw the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night, witnessed a boy proposing to his girlfriend at the Montparnasse Tower and experienced jealousy like never before and photobombed a random family at Notre Dame – S pretended she didn’t know me while I continued making faces. People actually laughed it off. Later, S took to photography and I took to modelling. Paris had inspired me to dress well and put on a face. 

‘You look nice with makeup. You should do it more often,’S told me.

Thanks but no thanks. I want people to be used to my ugliness so that whenever I look nice, they will appreciate it more.

We need to leave now. We are searching for the nearest metro station. Google maps is fucking with us. According to it, we are already AT the station. Station for wizards, google? There’s a young man sitting at the stairs smoking a cigarette. S says, ‘Go, ask him.’

Neurons in my head are running with their arms in the air, screaming, ‘WE NEED TO SPEAK FRENCH! WE WILL HAVE TO SPEAK FRENCH! MAYDAY! MAYDAY! M’AIDEZ!’

I try to calm myself, ‘This is our moment to shine.’ All those hours I had spent practicing (which aren’t many), it’s time they are used, it’s time I carpediem the fuck out of this.

Tentatively, I approach him. ‘Excusez moi!’ I say, incredibly conscious of my accent.

He looks at me, it seems that he understood and is willing to listen to me further.

In my head, I am forming sentences, ‘Ou est..Tu connais?…’

And then it strikes me. I knew what to say. 

S is standing a bit far away. I return to her smiling, ‘So we need to go straight and then turn left.’

‘Nice! What did you say?’ she asks me. 

‘Oh well, you know, stuff in French.’

‘Yeah, what stuff? I want to learn too!’

I smile, look around thinking of a way to change the topic but I know she will bring it back.

‘Okay…you really want to know?’

‘Yes, tell me!’

‘Parlez vous l’anglais?’

‘And what does that mean?’ she asks. 

‘You speak English?’

 

*

Nature’s most common poetry

We spend our lives chasing things that only last for a short period of time. When that short period of time ends we continue chasing the same things in new forms.

But the question doesn’t vanish with your continued negligence – The most absurd question with no apparent answer – Why are you here?

These set of virtues; to be able to see, touch, feel, hear, respond, interact, understand, modify, calculate, read, write – what have we done with that? All these exceptional abilities don’t seem that exceptional among seven billion other creatures who are capable of doing it too, many of them much better. Where does 1 stand before 7,000,000,000?

Where does the drop stand before an ocean?

But maybe numbers don’t mean much. Does the drop know that it’s beautiful on its own too? Does the drop know better than to compare itself to the ocean? Does the drop know that the other drops are not competitors but collaborators?

So do it. Don’t just keep on chasing things that you know are ephemeral. Even if you didn’t score that high in SATs, even if you don’t work for Google, even if you didn’t go to Stanford, remember that these are not your standards, these are THEIR standards. They will tell you oh-so-politely that you don’t matter. You are not intelligent enough. You are not creative enough. You are not experienced enough. Don’t let that bother you. Don’t fall for fake social diagnosis. Take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Was your life really about all this?”

Surely, there’s a possibility we may never find it. But the answer must be in the attempt. This experience of how you came, and how you felt and how you went again – Nature’s most common poetry – this experience of being a part of it itself is quite amazing on its own. The world is large and you are small but it doesn’t matter. What matters more is to know that the world is huge and you are tiny and it seems that it could have very well existed without you and yet you are here.

Pause, and let that sink in.

You don’t need to read this;

You don’t need more books.

You don’t need more clothes.

You don’t need to smoke.

You don’t need to eat meat.

You don’t need another cup of coffee.

You don’t need to check your phone again.

Those who show off are showing off the wrong things.

Those who are jealous are jealous of the wrong beings.

Social media is not equivalent to being social.

Watching pornography is not equivalent to having sex.

Real people appreciate better than a tap or a swipe.

That new tinder date is not the solution for your boredom and loneliness.

Some conversations are not scripted.

Some pictures are never captured.

Some moments are never created.

Look up.

Most discussions are limited to football, booze, sex, and drugs.

That doesn’t mean Purpose, Meaning, Morals are not important.

Humans are social animals.

If you are isolating yourself, you are more prone to mental illness.

Tranquilizers won’t cure your anxiety.

A purpose might.

A deep meaningful relationship might.

But most strings aren’t attached.

Time is a luxury.

Run, work, run.

Your job is exhausting.

Money, money, money.

Somehow you still don’t seem to have any.

Just more goods to show off,

And a guide to subtle exaggeration;

Moods, and Basics

“Random inspirational quote”.

Noise can be made.

Noise can be muted.

Look up.

 

The Rant about ‘The Long Night’

spoilers

The latest episode of Game of Thrones was stunning, yes, but honestly, judging by the way they fought I wished they had all died. I wanted Night King to die but not in a single episode, not like this. Great work, Arya, epic scene but it seems the writers only cared about you. I wished the other characters could have done better things than screaming at Viserion, discussing their marriage, and warging into crows. Bran – what the fuck bro? What is your three-eyed-raven-ness supposed to do anyway? Whatever happened to ‘You won’t walk but you will fly’ shit? The best of characters were there at the same place on the same side fighting this epic war; the greatest warriors, the greatest strategists, the greatest advisors, the smartest minds – All in Winterfell – for what?

How I wished killing the Night King would have been a bit more difficult! How I wish it was a beautiful collaboration between Bran, Arya, and Jon. How I wish, wish, wish the living at Winterfell had thought of better strategies – digging up deep trenches, lighting them with fire, setting up more traps, using the two fully grown dragons to their full potential. One could fight against Viserion. One could burn off the dead. Something, anything better than sending the whole Dothraki army on a suicidal mission, when Jon and Dany knew what was coming, what was out there, and how futile it would be. And they knew Night King would come for Bran, why did Melisandre have to put that idea in Arya’s head?

And the Night King, the supernatural, the super warg, the unburnt, the dragon slayer, the father of undead – who the fuck knows who he is? Will we ever know now? What was he planning to do with an eternal night anyway? What is this enmity between him and the three-eyed raven that he had to leave his security and kill him himself when any wight could have killed the damn cripple? I wish Night King had made it to the south, and met Cersei and destroyed her ‘Golden’ Army – just so Cersei could have known what was coming. And maybe then, all the living would have finally teamed up and defeated the Night King together. Cersei returns to being the bitch she is and the Game of Thrones continues.

Cersei is a good villain. But Night King was a great antagonist too and he deserved more victories, a harder death. I may be going too far with this but Night King was symbolic, the climate change of our reality, our DayQueen, the long boiling summer. Night king represented that grave danger that’s above politics, but far more pressing than anything else. Dead with that dagger, eight years vanished in a few seconds. Just like that. Was it really so simple?

But of course, I must be patient. I must remain calm. There are three more episodes to come. But I just had to say this.

*

The Absurd Struggles of a Writer

When I told my mother that I wanted to be a writer, I expected some kind of disagreement. She was not very delighted but she wasn’t angry either. I got a modest and an are-you-sure okay and soon we both forgot about it. Somehow, sluggishly, I finished college and I obtained a degree that said I was an Electrical Engineer.

Even though I had told a few people that I wanted to be a writer I wasn’t really serious about it. I fantasized about it yes –  Living in a big new strange city, lost and lonely among millions; I am sleeping on the pavements, cold, helpless and yet the fire in my heart kindles and I dream and I dream. Often I don’t eat, often I forget to eat, my writing is all that is and all that will be. I stay in my miserable room devouring two-three books I have, day and night, again and again. But those few books are my life. War and Peace, Madame Bovary, The Ulysses, and oh how I read! Like a demon. My room is built with bricks and rejection mails. And still, I breathe. And still, I write. No one in my family is talking to me. I have no friends. The fumes of my cigarettes and a glass half filled with cheap warm whiskey are my only companions. Yes, it is hard. It is so difficult that almost all kinds of poetry make sense to me. But I am on my way to be a great writer.

The reality, however, is that after graduating out of college I joined a company. We manufactured switchgear, did our bit in providing safe electricity to people. It was a normal 9 to 5 (or 7 or 9 or sometimes 10) job, which I grew to hate within two months. But I could have continued doing it for the rest of my life if it wasn’t for my family.

‘You don’t deserve such a job,’ my mother used to tell me. ‘You should do something else. Do you have anything in mind?’
In my mind, there was a dream that I never thought could ever come true.
‘I don’t know’
‘How about MBA?’ she asked.
Another trending degree that I am actually not interested in studying but I may get a better paying job with it so yeah why not.
A day later, she called me again, ‘How about English?’
That would be wonderful! Wait, what?

No, Ma, you are supposed to force me into choosing a ‘practical’ degree.
You are supposed to be an antagonist so that I could be a protagonist.
You are supposed to say things like – ‘Just because a few odd people praised your writing that doesn’t mean you could be a writer!’  Then I am supposed to leave home, burning with fury and ambition and say stuff like, ‘Oh but you are wrong Ma. I am leaving now. Forever.’ And out of this tragedy, a great writer shall emerge.

‘Why not study writing if you like writing so much?’, my mother told me instead.
You are supposed to resist my dream. You are not supposed to make it your own. What’s wrong with you! What kind of broad-minded dreamy mother are you who sends her daughter to study creative writing all the way to England?

They say that artists live wretched lives. They say they have the worst family. And that somehow contributes to their genius. I have a decent life, a supportive family, so does that mean I am disqualified?

And I wonder…

Do I really need to be Charles Bukowski or is it okay to be the way I am and still be a good writer? I don’t smoke cigarettes and I don’t drink cheap warm whiskey. I haven’t read War and Peace. And no, most poems still don’t make sense to me. Sometimes my own poems don’t make sense to me. I live in a decent apartment. I don’t have money in my bank account but I can’t call myself poor. I can afford to buy books. I have Kindle, Netflix subscription (which I just canceled), and a car to go to the nearby library (which I never drive because I don’t know how to drive). Such is my writing life – not ideal but still privileged, and the only real hurdles I face are mental. Hurdles like questioning whether I am actually a writer if I haven’t struggled enough to ‘know the reality of life’. Hurdles like – Can I ever stop wondering what life would have been as an engineer? As a management student? Can I really be at peace knowing how my social rankings have slipped now that I have switched to humanities, that I can no longer consider myself ‘smart’, that Engineering to me is just a paper in my folder, that I have no knowledge regarding that field anymore, that I never really had any, that I have no idea what I am doing right now, did I ever have any such idea, does anyone have any idea, that I am not designing any kind of artificial intelligence, but I am sitting here writing a dumb book. But I love writing that dumb book. So shut up.

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