Perks of living in a small city

As a child, I moved around a lot due to my father’s job. I have lived in metro cities and towns which had only recently upgraded from being villages I suppose. One such town was Lalitpur, also my little sister’s birthplace. So you could ask me, “Are there actually any perks of living in a small city?” And I would judge you and give you a look of pure horror because trust me there can be nothing better.

So here it goes: the first pro is that you know everyone and everyone knows you and when you are a child, there is nothing better than being pampered by every other person on the street. The people are kinder and more friendly and you can get things done your way because well, everyone is a friend.

All your school friends live close by and meet you every evening because everyone in the town goes to the same school, because the town has only ONE school. HAHA! I even had some teachers who went on to become family friends and I could just skip doing Home Work and get away easily.

The houses are bigger and better, the living conditions are great, everything is cheaper in general and the quality of living is good as well. I lived in a huge house rented by two tenants and the landlord lived on the first floor as well. All our families were close knit and we literally spent every waking moment together – playing or chatting or eating at each other’s houses. Ah, the joys of living together. Apartments suck!

Wherever you wanna go, it isn’t too far. Agreed, that there aren’t many places to go to within the city but then there are always touristy places within 100 kms of every city in India, I think. I could be wrong, but that has never happened to me.

I have had my share of living in villages and even tinier towns and it has always been a pleasant experience. Apart from the frequent electricity cuts, it always feels like a retreat. Its even better when its home away from home.

Life was fun and carefree and living in the hustle bustle of Mumbai, makes me miss those places. I never went back to visit once I left that town. I really want to go and see how much it has changed and if it really has? Because some things never do. πŸ™‚

 

Sibling Love

So when I was a little girl I had this really beautiful swing under the porch of my house where I used to spend all my day. When you are the only child, you tend to become lonely and you resort to games and imaginary friends. I can’t say that I had any imaginary friends but I used to play a lot of games where there was someone who played with me. That person was never given an identity but he/she was the perfect companion. Those were simpler times. My mother gifted me a tiny little sister when I was 7 years of age. I still had a few years to play those imaginary games. My sister was too little to be a part of it. But then I managed to have fun anyway. She grew up to be around 3 years of age when we finally could play together. We used to make blanket forts and used to hide there all day, making up stories and situations. I used to be the head of the whole thing, being the elder one, but never bossy. And then the day came when I stopped playing these games and my sister found other friends. I wish I could have been her playmate for longer.

Penfriends

This is a very personal post and you might question me why am I posting it here but then who is reading this blog anyway πŸ˜›

Its like the new Nescafe ad that came out recently. It has an RJ who hosts a show at 5:30 a.m. and uses it as his USP to invite callers. He says that you can say whatever you want because no one is listening. I think it makes sense. You want to get it out there. It feels better that way. Writing in a diary wasn’t so satisfying. πŸ™‚

Anyway, I have digressed enough. This post is dedicated to a friend who I would like to call my penfriend. Yes we have been acquaintances since about four to five years but we became friends very recently and our friendship has progressed by the way of emails that we exchange during our work hours. It is really strange how and when it happened but leaving that aside, it has been an enriching experience for me. I learn so much everyday and there is so much we share that teaches us tons about the random-est things. And the part I like the best is that when one of us wants the other to see a new video or listen a new song, we take it as a serious affair and watch it with dedication. After all, everything we share with anyone has so much more meaning than what you see on the surface.

This is the story of the 1600+ Emails that we have exchanged until now. Being the hoarder that I am, I wanted to archive our conversations before they got lost in the millions of words that we exchange everyday with everyone in our lives. Because this I feel, is important.

It began with my first week at office, when he sent me a link back of the website I was working for. The subject line has since then been “What’s this?” because the site wasn’t working. We went on to talk about SoundCloud and the treasure that it is. Yes people, go check it out! You will forget downloading songs to your phone after that.

Then there is the “Good Morning” post which is always something super fun – perhaps a video or a song that will make your day and set your mood right. The endless conversations about Harry Potter, even after he has “moved on” to bigger things I suppose, but wait and watch how I bring it back to you. Β Then there are those parts when we talk about each others’ lives and I am awed by the amount of work he gets done in a day while I procrastinate away my whole day.

My favorite part is the conversations around life, love, friendship and relationships – when there are conversations like these:

  • Why do you think when people are sad/depressed, they feel like wandering/going some place alone to get back on their feet?
  • Are articles really better than books?
  • The hidden meanings of songs which seemed pretty normal (Little Talks).
  • Thinking about publishing the emails but then realizing no one would ever read them
  • A constant flow of ideas of startups around making personalized gifts for people and what not!
  • Advise on how to live life and how to be the zen-est version of yourself.

There is the endless to and fro of music and video suggestions and sometimes the conversations are solely composed of YouTube links that are ScoopWhoop worthy material.

Whenever one of us doesn’t go to office, it just seems weird and it just doesn’t feel right! It is amazing how your mood shifts with every mail and you end up smiling whenever you see that familiar notification! It is good to know that there is always someone who will give an impartial judgement on your writing and life in general! And the best part is that you get to know yourself in the process of knowing them.

Thanks for being there Pen Pal! πŸ˜€

 

Sober Notes 9: Twilight

Why do lovers wait for the moon to have a conversation?

I think sunsets are equally beautiful.

Sober Notes 8: Home

When my words became another brick in the wall that you built between us,

IΒ realizedΒ it was time to find a new home.

Sports and Women

I have never been much of a sports person but I have never hated it either. I do hate it when people get super patriotic when their teams are playing and resort to name calling and jibes. That’s the worst. Anyway I am going off topic here. Today, I just wanted to make a compilation of really really good sports advertisements/music videos. Some of them are all about women, but that’s just how good they are!

So here it goes (in no particular order):

Anniversary

A month ago my blog completed its 1 year anniversary. I still remember the time when I decided to begin writing everyday. Life did get into my way and things happened such that I lost interest after about 100 posts. Should have stuck to the 100 days of Happiness theme. There is a slight sense of failure that comes in with everything that you leave midway. All the drafts pending in my blog make me sad. It makes me even more sad that some of them are half written and left midway. Does that also talk about the way I live life? But I cannot remember any instances where I left something so important midway. Whenever it comes to taking up responsibilities I am the first one to be aggressive enough to complete it at the earliest even at the risk of being in charge, which I believe I am really bad at. Maybe its the things that concern only me. Maybe its about putting others before myself. Well, I can’t really judge all this on my own. I do need a second, third and maybe even a fourth opinion. This is turning into another one of my stream of consciousness posts but that’s what I do best. That’s what comes naturally to me and the best part is that it helps me in relieving stress. Lately, I have been pretty active on social media ranging from Facebook to Snapchat and lots of Instagramming. Made me question some things like how did I begin sharing my life publicly like this, when exactly did this happen? When I thought about it, I realized that it gives you the feeling of being looked after. When I think, I sometimes think about God listening to my thoughts and helping me out when I am in trouble. Being a so-called ‘Atheist’, I don’t know how that happens but it isn’t exactly God, it’s just some higher power above. It’s like when you’re scared of the ghost under your bed, you want someone to be there. Similarly, when I post anything publicly, I like to believe someone is watching and will help me out. And if not help me, they will at least lend an ear, and to know that someone’s listening is soothing enough.

Rahman’s Mumbai and Rahman’s Delhi

Is it just me who associates music and songs with the city it’s based on? In the recent past its been happening a lot. While travelling in the local with my headphones plugged in, I was listening to songs from Delhi 6. And they refused to gel in with the scenery around me – the faint sound of the train in the background and the rain clad geography of Mumbai. Delhi is different. Delhi has that old world charm that everyone falls in love with gradually. Mumbai is to meant to be fallen in love with in an instant. Here is some music that will refuse to associate with the city it wasn’t based in. Trying to include only Rahman’s music.

Delhi:

Mumbai:

Just btw O saya is the perfect song to listen to in the local because it is intensified by the background sound of the local, giving us the effect of a real life bass! πŸ˜€ Just Epic!

For the Bombay Nights:

Smell

There was this perfume I used to have two years back which I thought got discontinued until my friend pointed at it at a shop recently. I bought it immediately. Now that I use it, it brings back memories from two years back when I has just joined college for my post graduation. Its strange how you associate so many memories with a single smell. The smell of maggi being cooked is another on which brings back happy memories, mostly. Except some where I am fighting with my sister over who will get more of it.

There was this one scene in Harry Potter where the love potion, Amortentia, emits a smell which is different for everyone according to what attracts them. Hermoine smells fresh parchment, freshly mown grass, spearmint toothpaste and Ron Weasley’s hair. I would love to get hold of this potion just for the smell. Definitely not using it, that would just be scary. πŸ˜›

I guess I would smell mud after rain, old books and after shave. πŸ˜›

Another question I have about smell is that how do mothers and babies manage to smell soooo good all the time. I repeatedly keep asking my mother what scent she uses and apparently she doesn’t use one. Yeah right, Maa. πŸ˜€

I will end this random musing on this note. All you people out there, keep sniffing until you find the right one. πŸ˜›

SWIMMING: SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST AN EXERCISE

Since the blog needed to pick up pace, I asked a friend of mine to write something. Its a little long but a thoroughly enjoyable read. It is so good to read something that a friend writes. Its like a page from their life, which you never knew about before. You get to know so much more which you might not have come across in your daily conversations. This piece reminded me of something from my childhood as well which is a clear example of how you can use lessons in life in a constuctive manner, and how it all depends on you how you use it. More about that in the end.

I was 8 when I took my first plunge. I had been to the pool many times before, where my parents used to swim in the serene blue waters, while I would watch them enviously. This was the first time I was allowed to enter the waters. I ran to the changing rooms and hurriedly put on my costume. Then, I came to stand by the pool side, while waiting for my mother. Nearby I saw my classmates jumping into the water. They saw me, and called me over. I got all excited, and without a second thought, I jumped into the water.

Now, the shallow end in a typical pool is about 3 feet. My height then was much lesser than that. The immediate events after that are a blur. I remember feeling an intense apprehension. This feeling of water all around me was quite alien. I had no idea where the top was. I don’t even think it registered that I have to go the top. All I remember is there was water everywhere. I had opened my mouth (probably to scream), so I swallowed lots of water. I didn’t know breathing techniques, so I had inhaled a lot of water too. I had probably accepted that my end would be in this watery grave. Then, someone pulled me out. I couldn’t stop screaming and crying. I was coughing up water continuously. Some time, and a soft drink later, I had finally calmed down. I just knew one thing for sure: I never wanted to be near water again. That night, I had lots of drowning nightmares, and I kept my parents up the whole night.

One week later, I was back at the pool. I was over my ordeal, and once again desperately wanted to jump into the water. This time however, I waited for my mother to change and come out. I was given a tube, and at long last, followed my mother into the pool. The next one hour was a pure bliss. I don’t remember enjoying anything else so much. I would manage to paddle somehow in the tube, and swim from one place to another. I thoroughly enjoyed myself that day. After one week passed in this manner, I was ready to learn swimming. My father taught me swimming. First paddling, then the breathing techniques, and finally the arm strokes. It was not long before I was swimming whole breadths all on my own. While my friends would all be enjoying by throwing water at each other, or showing each other tricks, etc, I would only be content while swimming. One breadth after the next, then the next. After around a month(and after we shifted to Lucknow), I started following my father’s routine.

He would start with 12 laps in free style. Then he would do 6 laps in back stroke, and finally finish with 2 laps in free style. So this was 20 laps*50m each = 1km of swimming in the one hour. I joined him in this routine, and thus would start a very deep and lasting bond between me and my father. Of course, there was one problem. I didn’t know backstroke. So, my father taught me backstroke in between the laps. First, the basic iteration, then the more complicated 2 hands together version. Now, I was loving new styles of swimming, since they came easy to me. Soon, I learnt breast stroke, and doggy paddle too. I didn’t know about butterfly then. Then we refined our routine. 12 laps freestyle + 3 laps breast stroke, 3 backstroke(alternately) + 2 freestyle. Those were the good days.

After 3 years of this bliss, we moved to Chennai. The pool there was only 25m big, so it was not as much fun, so we weren’t as regular. After some time, we stopped going. After moving to Roorkee, we got a 50m pool again, and started going again for one year. Even though I was extremely busy with my studies and tutions (I had started with the horrible IITJEE tuition period), we always found time for the pool everyday. But after 1 year, my father became unwell, and soon, passed away. I had stopped swimming for a long time after that.

There were a number of reasons why swimming appealed to me. The moment my body came in contact with the water, I would get the sense of an immense liberation. It would feel like all limits have suddenly faded, and my body is capable of doing anything. Of course, there is way more flexibility in water. For instance, in the pool I could do forward flips and back flips, which I’m most certainly not capable of doing on land. And of course, diving. There is nothing like the thrill of jumping from the 5th board (10 m) into the deep end. The first time I dived, I landed flat on my stomach. It hurt like hell, but I knew I just have to do it again. Diving from the second board(3m) was a real challenge. Invariably, my feet would curve forwards, resulting in me almost landing on my back every time. It took me almost a month to perfect it. Also, there are so many things to achieve in a pool. Touching the bottom of the deep end for example. The pool in lucknow was 10 feet deep. So, by the time I would reach the bottom, there was immense pressure on my eardrums, and it would feel like they’re about to explode. Underwater swimming is also amazing. When your breath starts to run out, and you’re still halfway from your goal, the adrenaline rush at that time feels amazing. The first time I got goggles was amazing. I could see everything crystal clear below the water! Even simply splashing water on my brother or friends had its own charms.

After my father passed away, I didn’t think I would enjoy swimming any more. Swimming was our thing, and I couldn’t imagine doing it wothout him. My mother would continously urge me to go swimming again, but I just couldn’t do it. I missed it a lot though. After 4 years, in college I went to a local pool with my friends(in 4th year). I was slightly apprehensive at first. It reminded me of my first plunge. I was wondering if I still remembered all those things I’d learnt. Once I jumped in the water, the familiar feeling of liberation engulfed me. I had forgotten just how much I loved this feeling. Soon, I was doing my favourite strokes, back flips and everything. Even though the deepest part of the pool was only 7 feet, I couldn’t resist diving, and sure enough in my third dive, I forgot how shallow it is and got lost in the feeling, which resulted in my nose colliding hard with the pool floor, and it started bleeding. But I didn’t care, I was enjoying every minute of it. It was mixed emotions, though. I was missing my father so much, it was painful. I didn’t do any laps that day, I was simply teaching my friends how to swim.

Swimming has taught me a lot of stuff. Determination to take on new challenges and mental strength to finish challenges and not give up in the middle, among others. It has made my body flexible and increased my stamina, which helps me in other sports. Whenever I go to a beach(or river), I can’t resist jumping into the water, and since I know the breathing techniques, water doesn’t go into my nose or mouth, resulting in a more enjoyable experience. So, basically, it extends possibilities. The entire sea becomes my oyster. And finally the silence that engulfs you when you’re underwater is deafening. My whole body feels at peace, and it refreshes me to the core.

Once I started my job, I had decided that I would resume swimming. So, I found an okayish pool(25m). I do 40 laps now, and keep up the same routine: 24 freestyle, 6 breast-stroke, 6 back-stroke(alternate), and finally 4 freestyle. I try to do it at least 3 times a week(sometimes I fail miserably). Even now, swimming is a way to connect with my father. Whenever I’m finishing a lap, or dodging a person swimming blindly towards me, or running out of breath halfway in an underwater breadth, I remember the good times we had swimming together. I’m so glad I got over my fear of water caused by my fateful jump. Swimming is now so much more to me now than just a physical activity. It’s a portal which transports me to the past. It’s an instrument to lift my mood whenever I’m down. It’s a device that gives me emotional strength when I need it. It’s paradise!

Tell me you don’t want to swim after this? I genuinely can’t resist. I love the water but I am scared of it at the same time. I was about 9 years old when I went swimming with my father. I was just playing at the shallow end when suddenly he picked me up and pushed me to the deep end. I flipped over backwards and water rushed into my nose. I couldn’t breathe and my father told me to keep trying. I somehow found the edge and climbed up. I left the pool before anyone could even tell me about what had happened. I never went swimming again. But maybe now I will give it a try again. πŸ™‚