Train journeys in India are my favourite. There is barely any scope for boredom or monotony. There is no telling what you may catch from the window – it could be a smiling child at a sleepy dusty station, or a boisterous family of ten people or a runaway couple embarking on an adventure.
Landscape changes every few minutes, showing distant signs of abandoned villages or brimming towns, of fields run astray with weed and scrub or of clear lines of cotton. These images are flashing through your eyes, a never ending kaleidoscope that is almost meditative. Maybe you stumble upon a secret not meant for your knowledge but you can bask upon.
A train journey in India will change you and stay with you as a palette of colours that you can never completely identify or count. It is never completely yours and is shared with hundreds of others. But you can be assured that for those fleeting breaths, it was wholeheartedly for you to consume and dive in.
I admit I haven’t done a good job of sticking to my wish to blog at least once a week.
I admit I haven’t done a good job of reading other blogs as regularly as I would want to.
I admit I have fallen back into my hustle and bustle after my vacation in spite of promising myself that I will take it easy and find time to breathe.
I admit I am neglecting my health and workout routine.
I admit I need to sleep.
I admit I need to stop with the admissions and plunge head on into what has been happening.
The big one first – I moved (yes again!) to a new place with D 🙂 We have rented an apartment and the last few weeks have been just about setting it up, cleaning and washing, decorating, getting appliances and making it less echo-ey.
We are slowly getting used to calling it home. Opening the door after a long day feels GOOD! This is our space – our first big adventure post marriage (even though we are so lazy that we haven’t officially gone about registering our marriage. All in a good time! Till then, I will enjoy my “single” life”)
One thing I realized is that the initial phases of setting up simply consist of 3 Es – excitement, expenses and exhaustion, the order is entirely upto you! I am also realizing the gravity of what living with someone entails and how different it is from having roommates. I really need to get used to sharing my bathroom with a guy on a permanent basis. However, I am trying to convince him to use the common bathroom in the hallway so that I can queen over the one attached to the bedroom.
Overall, the house is almost done. A few corners and a few nooks need to be handled, but otherwise we are functioning smoothly. The WiFi is (finally!) up and I can access my blog, baby elephants GIF pages and Buzzfeed quizzes to check which dog breed I am 😀 I can’t help but feel pride and a sense of ownership within these walls. It is entirely our domain. Looking at D working by the table and tossing him bits of paper with messages makes me think, that yes… We will find time to breathe and fully delve into making a home in every sense!
The appraisal cycle at work is almost at the end and has given rise to rumors that range from optimistic to ludicrous to jump-off-the-building depressing. Raises, progressions and ratings… Whew. We play the cat and mouse game till the outcome trots along taking its own sweet time.
I am not exactly Ms. Ambitious. Never have I aimed to top exams or fast track the corporate ladder to be the next CXO. Yes, I have certain plans to follow and standards to achieve – but by no means have I been governed by them.
But the last year has been different. The yardstick of my personal success criteria is becoming taller and broader. I have not planted stick in the ground and climbing to meet it. I am balancing it on my head which means … it keeps becoming taller and I’ll never be able to meet it.
I am setting myself up for disappointment here, am I not?
Expectations from self had been easy to dismiss while expectations from others always come with the extra pressure to deliver. Tables are turning and now I am not sure of what is becoming of me. I am becoming fiercely guarded about my work … I am almost crossing the line of assertiveness and stepping into the unknown territory of aggression.
I have never really LEAD people before and now that is happening, I am a little stumped. I want to set a good example and I fear I am trying to do too much. On the other hand, I don’t really want to slack off. It is a cumbersome process of striking a balance – you know being the perfect mix of fun and friendly yet firm.
I am over-thinking it because it has never mattered to me before and now all of a sudden, I have really strategic visions about myself. And now I care about it.
I am sure this feeling is common. I just want it to feel common for me too. Ironically, there is a strong part of me that just wants to quit and travel!
I am not quite sure about the amount of hate I may generate with this post – but let me get it out anyway.
I am not a fan of babies. I have never been a baby person. I have never gone “Awww… So cute” when I saw a baby except a few that I really thought were cute (Those few I can count on the fingers of one hand and still have fingers to dip in the jar of Nutella to lick). I am that person who can simply ignore when a baby is being too cute and vying for attention.
I am also not mean or cruel or cold. It’s just that the attraction of a baby never reached me fully. I am more likely to be attracted by a GIF of a chocolate fondant cake than the hundred pictures of a baby. I am in that age-group where some people have started having babies or the baby-talk has entered their life. At this point, I am not sure what I can add to the talk. Neither do I know much about babies, or am interested in their activities or have any inclination to have one in the near future. (Near… Far… That will take another 10000 words to express)
My friend took it upon herself to melt my heart and bombarded me with the cutest baby photographs and GIFs. I admit, there were some really adorable ones that did squirm into the corner of my heart. But the one that caught my eye had a puppy in it and then I was lost. I spent the next one hour looking up videos of puppies playing with babies then progressed to puppies playing with other puppies and finally to puppies playing with kittens.
When I meet a baby, I cannot fawn over him or her! I just cannot. I will play (those feet are so cuddly!) and smile (those gurgling noises are cute!) and make faces (those laughs and shiny eyes!). But they don’t really become a part of my universe. It just does not happen.
I think it is fine. I know I make a cool aunt… the babies who became pre-schoolers and young adults will vouch for it. I have also been awarded the favourite aunt by three of them. Not too bad eh, for someone who is not a baby fan?
Late afternoons often found her sitting alone, still and straight. Her mind would travel years back in time, when the house was full of children’s laughs and echoing footfalls. In a flash, hours and days had molded into long years of cooking dinners, attending PTA meetings and finishing yet another load of laundry.
Now the house sat quiet, reminiscing of a din long gone. The children had moved out and her husband was indulging yet another hobby. One evening, a sliver of sunshine happened to escape the curtain’s stern guard. Through the dance of dust mites, she happened upon her reflection. Her eyes and her face told stories of the years gone by and the errands they had seen through.
There were no stories of her own. There was not even a hint of the flame that once shone bright in her eyes; it was extinguished long ago.
A muted glint from a hidden corner caught her attention – somehow her old ghungru* had managed to dapple in the last light of the setting sun. It had been so long she had seen them – she had almost forgotten how they felt tied at her ankles. With trembling fingers she handled them delicately, more precious than any gem in the world.
What if….? Dare she even dream…?
The next afternoon saw her tentatively clearing a space and dusting out her old dancing clothes. As her feet slowly became accustomed to the once-familiar weight of her ghungru, the years melted away and she fell into a rhythm that was as natural as breathing. On days when she was not at dance school, the curtains were firmly drawn back as she conducted personal concerts under the sunny spotlight.
She was not a daughter, a wife or a mother then. She was a dancer. She was an artist. She was her chosen form. She was blowing at the cool embers, re-kindling a fire that had almost blown out. It was never too late to spark it back!