Another year ends…

Yet another year draws to an end. Say good-bye to 2014 and welcome to 2015. But does the passing of time mean anything to you other than changing of dates in the calendar? Have you tried to become a better person than what you were in the past? Every year I ask myself one question,how will I be different in the coming year, and will I be better or still the same old me. 2014 brought the usual humdrum, I spent 6 glorious weeks with my family- extremely precious memories, it brought loss of a loved one and surprising heartbreaks and regrets. This year has taught me a lot about myself, and is leaving me with some very important lessons to learn and very important decisions to make. It has also taught me that my burden of cynicism and defensiveness is getting a little to heavy to carry and I should probably exchange my load with some lightness and optimism! Hopefully the lessons learnt will be put to good use. Here’s to hoping that everyone has a great year ahead! I pray and hope that the incoming year brings you happiness, health and strength.

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Regrets…

While we all know that life is hurtling through time towards one final destination, but we still fear that ultimate destination. We still hurt so much when we lose a loved one. Our entire life comprises of running; for success, for money, for that one promotion and the raise. We are always in the rat race, always planning our lives but never living it. We miss out on family gatherings, birthdays, graduations, because we had that important meeting, or that important experiment. We know we will never be able to carry our material belongings with us after death-there is no need for that fancy car or shoes in that ultimate destination. We leave this earth just the way we came; with nothing. All that is ultimately left of our existence is the people we leave behind and a lifetime of regret that they will feel, after all it is the living that suffer not the dead. After losing a loved one, we go back to our rat race, back to running and earning a living, but with our hearts heavier than ever, weighed down with regrets. All our sadness and regret in the world cannot bring back the ones we love, because unfortunately outside of sci-fi books time moves unilaterally in one direction. Time does what it does the best-it marches on. Soon our lives get back to normal, but with a hole in life that never fills up; not even with regret. So sometimes all you can do is continue living your life, but living it to the fullest, because if you are not pleasing everyone, you have to make sure you are pleasing yourself. Sometimes regrets aren’t only for others, they are for yourself too. And sometimes, all you can do is, find your rhythm and march on with time.

Hi Past, I am Present

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Good Tidings.”

Meeting a 10 year old me- there is so much I could tell myself if only I had an opportunity to back in time. Firstly I would compliment her on excellent choice of beverage: Coffee! And then proceed to advise her, which she would probably listen to while rolling her eyes like any respectable 10-year old!

Here’s what I would tell her, “First of all kid, you will have to stop being defensive and learn to trust others, because once you can trust others, you will trust yourself and will learn to let go. Second most important thing is to learn to take risks. Kid, you don’t want to grow up like me afraid to take risks; once you learn to let go, you will start taking risks!

The most rewarding thing you will have is your family and the amazing friends you will pick up on the way. Even with your distrustful nature there will be those special few who will sneak by your defenses and before you know they will be a part of you, keep them very close and love them. Kid, you are going to grow up to be very complicated. You will love solitariness, but will still crave company of people, you will not trust others much but will be very talkative so you will need people to talk to, you will love to talk but will want to spend most of your time reading books, cooking and being by yourself! So you are going to have a lot of fun just being your unpredictable self. I can’t tell you everything, you will have to figure out your own joys, sorrows and heartbreaks. But I promise you, your life is going to get very interesting as you grow older, just remember to enjoy it!”

And I know in spite of giving all this advice to my younger self, she would grow up to be exactly like I did, because of course I am nothing if not contrary!

Vanishing Acts

Sometimes when you visit a place after a long time, you start looking at it with a new point of view. My trip to India was one such eye-opener. When I lived there, I did not realize the changes occurring in the Indian society at the micro level. But this time when I visited India, I saw that while externally everything looked familiar and same, so much had changed since I was a kid.

Though the mall culture is definitely creeping up on the Indian consumer, it pleases my heart to still see the markets hopping with small mom and pop businesses. One of the changes that I noticed was in certain type of jobs/professions which were once doing such a thriving business.

  1. The shoe repair guy: or ‘mochi’ as he is called in Hindi. There was a time when there was a shoe repair guy at the end of every street; there were 2 of them within spitting distance of my house. These guys did all odd shoe and leather related jobs from stitching up battered shoes, to polishing your leather dress shoes, repairing umbrellas and sometimes also selling new sandals etc. Those were the days when you repaired your torn sandals as many times as possible and didn’t purchase new ones until absolutely necessary. It wasn’t a matter of affordability but that of believing in frugal living. Now-a-days nobody has the time or patience to get their shoes repaired, as everyone believes in throwing away the damaged goods and buying new ones.
  2. The flour mill: Mills where they grind whole grains to obtain flour are also part of dying out industry. Everyone today has a small mill in their house and there is no need to go to the mill. I remember when we didn’t have a mill at home and mom used to lug around bags of grain to the mill and back with bags of flour! Probably the bigger mills are still working to sell the readymade flour to the stores today, but I didn’t see any of the small ones which catered to families.
  3. The lift man: or the guy who mans the elevator. My apartment complex has 2 elevators and we used to have 2 lift-men initially, which was then reduced to 1 and none today. While one can ride in the elevator my her/himself, having a liftman was usually a big relief to the elderly and tiny kids.
  4. Travelling salesperson: these were the men and women who went door-to-door to sell materials. We lived in joint family and had a lady who regularly came every month to sell cleaning solutions and material, a middle-aged man who came with his big bundle of sarees and also sold some artificial jewelry. I remember we brought our very first vacuum cleaner from one such salesman and another one who sold us our set of World Encyclopedia books. This was in the days when people received strangers in their homes without fear of being robbed or killed. This breed of hawkers/salesperson has completely died out.

Yes, change in the only constant in the world and old professions die out making way for the new ones. So today we have snazzy malls and supermarkets selling everything from shoes to vacuum cleaners to zillion kinds of flour, we have elevators with alarm systems and buildings with concierges instead of the old watchmen. Long live the change! If you have noticed more of such vanishing professions do let me know.

India Series-Coming home….yet again

I returned back to Boston this Saturday. The six weeks at home flew by with amazing speed with time well spent with family and friends. I was a tourist in India after such a long time, and realized that I should probably see more of my own country while I can instead of cribbing about not being able to visit other countries due to visa delays!

While Mumbai will always be home, Boston is my second home now and there is a constant battle between life/job in one country and family in other. I probably was too young to realize this struggle when I decided to move abroad for education and job. But it’s for the good, to make the best of what you have been blessed with and enjoy your privileges! So welcome back to Boston!