Flipping The Narrative

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I know I have waxed ad nauseum about how much I despise corporate life, and how desperate I have been for a change of scene. To everyone who would hear me, I have ranted about my unfortunate passport and the lack of opportunities being awarded to me because of it. And then Spotify came to Bangkok. How is this relevant?

I have been listening to a LOT of music because of it. Music I wouldn’t have even bothered listening to during those Spotify-without-VPN days. And in listening to all sorts of music, I realised that we have become so conditioned to find the negative in everything. This is our first reaction.

“Have you heard the new Harry Styles album?”, “EWWWWWWWWW, no way!”

“Have you had the new 7/11 draught beer?”, “Erm, I’m not insane”

We dismiss new experiences because it says on the internet that it’s shit. Reviews on the internet are king! Doing what’s popular is the norm.

And I discovered all this while listening to a song I wouldn’t listen to. Crazy, right?

I had the revelation that rather than moping and whining about how everything is horrible, how the world is awful, how life has set you up for failure, etc, I would focus on trying, on being proactive, of taking crazy gambles that may not work out. After all, there might be something you’d fall in love with when you do. You might find home.

These startling motivational quotes provided to me by my brain in conjunction with a popular music streaming app has now helped me look at things differently.

  1. I work in a country many people are trying to get into desperately. I’m already here, and I’ve made it.
  2. My passport is not the best, but it opens way more doors than a lot of my friends who happen to be born in places Mr Trump wouldn’t be able to place on a map.
  3. I have a family who loves and supports me no matter what crazy decisions I make (and trust me, I make some insane ones)
  4. I have friends who root for me when I need a boost, who tell me how it is when I need a dose of truth, who send me music to soothe my soul, and funny videos of late night talk show hosts when I need to rage and laugh at the same time.
  5. As much as I hate the politics of my workplace, I get paid to do what I’m good at doing. My parents have had to struggle their whole lives, and they still don’t get as many work benefits as I have been getting.
  6. I live and work in a foreign country – it helps me stay out of my comfort zone and discover something new and exciting every day.
  7. I am able to go on long holidays, and thanks to technology, able to connect to my niece every single day if I need to.
  8. The world is f&^ed up, but I am surrounded by good people both in person and on the interwebs. Your heart, your drive, your energy, your passion, your goodness – it drives me.
  9. I live in a world where I can cuddle with all sorts of animals, and deal with my allergies thanks to the wonder of science.
  10. I am a woman who can vote, save, earn big bucks, spend them all on movie tickets and useless stuff I don’t need, I am able to wear what I want, I am able to have my voice heard.

Life is good. All you have to do is flip the narrative and focus on everything that you have going for you. Listen without bias, and you just may discover joy.

 

I’m a what?

Happy 20th Anniversary to the Harry Potter book series! I cannot believe it has been two decades of this magical madness, and yet if I think about it, of course, it’s been that long. So much has happened, so much has changed. One thing stays the same though – the feeling the books can kick up even if it’s the billionth time you’re reading it.

My brother had just been declared a genius and too smart for his class by his teachers and so we went book shopping. Not that we needed an excuse to do that, of course. Summer was enough of an excuse, but as a book-loving brother-sister duo, we double teamed our parents into taking us to the store.

While at the store, there was a lovely display of The Goblet Of Fire. It had just come out and they were trying to build the Harry Potter hype in Bangalore. My very religious aunt who was with us at the time said that she’d heard it was a good book. This was before she realised it was about wizards and witchcraft – everything she is against (and a few months before all convent schools banned the books from their libraries because of the same reason). We looked at the price of the book and baulked at the price.

We looked at the book, it looked promising. Then we looked at the back of the book and baulked at the price. You have to remember that I am raised by aid and development workers. This meant that anything that wasn’t a necessity was a luxury, including books that we had to buy, instead of borrow. Broseph and I tagged teamed it up again and convinced my parents, in the biggest miracle/con of our lives, to buy us all four books. We used the magic of “Be happy that we aren’t the kinds of kids who are asking for vintage air maxes and PS2’s”. To our surprise. it worked.

It was summer and we had a problem of logistics. Both of us wanted to read the book before the other. My brother won that argument because technically it was a present to him for being such a kid genius. So he got to read the books in the 1, 2, 3, 4 sequence, whereas I had to read it 4,3,2,1. Then my sister wanted it. It was the best summer I’ve had in a while. I remember road tripping to our grandparents’ house some 500

It was the best summer I’ve had in a while. I remember road tripping to our grandparents’ house some 500 kms away, lying in the back of the car, reading and taking a break by looking at the zooming sky and then crying at something that happened in the book. We finished 4 books in one week that summer.

But even to this day, the minute I read a familiar dialogue, my heart swells with joy. There is simple magic in words and stories, and they will always live on.

“Harry … yer a wizard”

“I’m a what?”

Bless!

P.S. Yes, I’m re-reading it! Of course, I am!

The Thirtieth Year

I’ve done it. I’ve managed to reach the grand old age of thirty by failing at every societal standard laid before me – my index finger is ringless, my hair is fashionably grey, my uterus is rotting to the sound of my spinsterhood and I have dared to have a good time nonetheless. Who would’ve thought that being a disgrace would be such an adventure? They should’ve made it less exciting, and catered it to my attraction to procrastination.

My 2016 looked like this:

Yay! #books #bookstagram #bookworm #goodreads

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1. I managed to read 48 books I can officially claim to have read. There are some I can’t claim to have read on account of threat of jail. Aren’t banned books the best?

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2. I got to hang out with sea-turtles!

3. I got the Broseph to come visit me. We had so much fun, his trip ended with me getting pneumonia (fun times!)

I just died and went to heaven! #panda

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4. I got to see a Panda LIVE!!!

5. I got to hug my baby niece and spend 2 whole weeks being bullied by her (it was the best feeling in the world!)

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Thailand
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Kerala, India.

5. I got to see 15 new places in Thailand. Not to mention the great towns we got to explore in Kerala, India, over Christmas.

2017 is my 30th year and I intend to go after adventure and happiness with the same (if not slightly more exaggerated) vigour! After all, I read some potty graffiti recently that said “Do more of what you love!”. If that’s not a sign, then I don’t know what is.

Happy 2017 all! Let’s make this one count!

Adios 2015

I’m a little late to the party, I know. But ever since I put it out into the universe that I wanted to create and put out a novel, work got extremely work like and dumped me with more tasks than time in the day. Needless to say, I failed that particular task miserably. However, the whole of 2015 was not a failure. Instead of tempting fate and starting an another ambitious novel titled ‘What Happened To Me in 2015’ or the less ambitious version of ‘How Everything Can Change In a Year‘, I created a picture collage of my 12 highlights of the last year!

2015 Photo Snapshot Cupitonians
Click on the image for a full size view!

And here is a list – since I can’t help myself!

  1. I attended a music festival in Bangalore and the headline band was Alt-J, one of my most favourite bands of all time. This is big because growing up we never got to go to concerts (part of the reason being that not many artists came to India). I attended it with people I love and there just is something about hearing your favourite music live while swaying in the rain to the rhythms that move you.
  2. The boy moved countries for me, yes. But I love the fact that over the year he has gotten to know my family better to the extent of having inside jokes with them. I’ve always wanted to be with someone like that and watching them cuss out identically during family sports night just fills me with so much happiness. It really is the little things.
  3. We watched a lot of sports. I don’t get to do it too much now that I have moved countries but Bangalore gave us the opportunity to watch our cricket team and football team in action. So what if there was a little (okay, fine, it was a lot) monsoon!
  4. The third image is us watching the finals with Bangalore Football Club (BFC) and the fourth image is of us at a Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) match
  5. As a going away present, my colleagues and dear, dear friends gifted me a Kindle. It is such a blessing because I love reading so much but have had to leave all my books behind because of the move. Thanks to the Kindle, I can now read anywhere and it weighs next to nothing despite having a billion billion books.
  6. We moved to Bangkok for a lot of reasons. The Erawan Shrine became a big landmark for us because I work next to it and it was bombed shortly after we moved. It is a symbol of how resilient we are as humans when it comes to disaster and ultimately, what it is that makes us humans
  7. Bangkok is a BIG city in the true sense of the word. I share a love-hate relationship with it. But every time I get down about it, a breathtaking market pops up. I’m not much of a shopper, but the markets here have been such a delight!
  8. Part of why I love being in this part of the world is all the travel opportunities – I have so far been to two coastal areas and one beautiful island. Bangkok is another gem that we still haven’t explored fully. In the photo here is the lovely island of Koh Samet.
  9. Photo of the pier at Pattaya (Which reminds me that maybe I should write more travel journals!)
  10. The Bangkok river side and Asiatique
  11. I have always wanted to travel for work. I realise that the idea of travelling for work is much more romantic than it really is, now that I am leaving behind someone. However, while previous travel for work experiences were limited to one end of Bangalore to another, 2015 took me to Malaysia and one of the most beautiful office spaces I have ever seen.
  12. December saw Star Wars (Weeeee!), a new love for BB8. It also included an unplanned trip back to Bangalore for Christmas with family.

The most important event was the chance to meet and spend time with my niece. I am forbidden from posting her photos on online platforms (her parents have a thing about it I can’t really explain!). However, I never thought it possible to love someone so truly without actually knowing much about the person but I am truly in love with that little munchkin.

Can’t wait for what 2016 will unfold!

Guest Blog – Five Years in a Life

Karina from Lazy Happy Bored Happy Sad has been one my oldest blogging friends and after a few awkward tweets, we became close enough to meet in person. You can read all about that adventure here. And while you’re at it, catch up on her previous posts for me here. For now, this is the story of the past 5 years of her life – they reached my heart as I’m sure it will touch yours. Show her some love. 

I jumped at the idea of writing another guest post for Anju because I love her and her writing and she is one of my oldest blog friends. I jumped without knowing what to write.

Five years seems like a short enough time; especially to someone who still thinks the 90s were less than 10 years ago. Spoiler alert, they are not. The thing is, almost everything about my life changed in the past five years, hell, five years is longer than my oversharing on the internet even spans.

Anju’s question really brought that up, because while I already realised that a lot had happened in the past couple of years, it never registered that dramatically.

I went from being a student to being a full time employee.

I went from daughter to orphan, passing the roadblock of being a caretaker.

I went from assuming I was straight to knowing I’m a lesbian.

I made a whole lot of friends spanning all over the world.

I travelled to more cities than I can even recall at this point.

I stopped writing to then write a novel and stop writing again.

I grew up more while staying childish.

And I kept thinking about all the things that did change until I remember the things about me that are so inherently me that they stayed the same because they always were and I find comfort in it. Some things will never change. Like me being an unapologetic feminist. It has been the label I have worn proudly for as long as I can remember because I never fit any standard definition of feminine and I didn’t want to. Now more so than ever. This may be the single biggest thing being queer certified for me. I don’t have to conform to anyone’s expectations and norms aside from my own. And that’s okay. Being a woman doesn’t mean you have to wear dresses and shopping in the men’s section doesn’t make you any less of a woman. And being a lesbian doesn’t mean I have to run around in men’s clothes either. I can be whoever and whatever I want to be.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, the last five years taught me to be myself. I’ve always been fairly in tune with my own being but it’s like I got permission to be me and just me. My lovely grandma still wants me to dress the way she thinks I should dress and while I find it extremely annoying and off putting I stay my ground because I have to. There is no way for me to not be me.

I’m afraid this post turned way more serious than Anju anticipated when she asked me to write something for her but it’s a faithful recount of my last five years. Some of those years were the worst of my life and they don’t include the day I woke up to the police hammering at our front door looking for my father who was hiding in the bedroom.

In five years I learned my own strength and breaking points. I met my true self.