London To Udaipur

We loaded the last bag into the car, said our goodbyes and prepared for the final ride home. One year of Masters had come to an end. Mahima was going through her phone while I tried to take in the city. I hadn’t slept in 48 hours and the journey ahead was a long one.

At Heathrow with the emotional and literal luggage, we somehow made it to the counter. Mahima checked-in easily and I, as usual, struggled with shoving things from one bag to another simultaneously managing the two jackets I was wearing. When you don’t have the place to pack it, wear it.

We then headed to the security where our next hurdle awaited us.

The sleep deprivation made me forget to put my phone in the tray and Mahima to forget to put her liquids in the pouch. While I was taken to a separate, hi-tech room for special anti-terrorist inspection, Mahima’s bag was completely unpacked. The bag that took us two days to pack now had to be re-packed in five minutes. After what can be described as mindless shoving, we headed to the delightful duty-free section of the airport where we picked up more chocolates, freshened up and headed to the final lap — boarding gate.

When at the gate, we called our friends to say our final goodbyes. Physical tiredness coupled with lack of sleep made it difficult to feel anything. That one wonderful year was over, but the realisation hadn’t strike yet.

In that nine hour flight, all we did was eat, watch movies and talk. Nevermind what we talked about because we never spoke about anything in specific. Nine hours, three full meals and a popsicle later we were at the brand new Terminal 2 of Mumbai’s Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport for the first time. It was around 11 at night and we were walking through the long corridors into life’s new phase.

It was when we were heading out of the airport that it hit me. It was when Mahima was heading straight out the door and I had to take a left for my next flight that I realised that the one year had come to an end…for real. Time had passed like it always does. I wanted to cry but for some reason couldn’t.

The Mumbai to Udaipur flight was at 5 in the morning. I was at the domestic airport now and had a couple of hours to kill. So I sat there waiting for the clock to do its ticking, munching on M&Ms. It was when they made the boarding announcement and I saw people run and push as if the plane would leave without them that I realised just how much I was going to miss the UK.

Aware that the plane wouldn’t leave without me, I boarded last. I had two pot-bellied men sitting in my row who instead of giving me hand with my heavy bags started giggling when they saw me struggle. The perfect reality check that you are now in India.

I dozed off the moment I settled in my seat and woke up only when the wheels of the plane touched the ground. It was an hour long flight which means I wasn’t done sleeping. People around me (strangely) were sighing in relief and thanking God for landing the plane in Udaipur. How was it a surprise that an Udaipur bound flight would land anywhere other than Udaipur was beyond me.

Running short on patience, I headed to the conveyor belt to collect the rest of my luggage. What followed was a series of smiles, hugs, tears and you-have-changed-drastically comments.

It was a long journey and somewhere I am grateful for the fact that I never fully got the chance to grasp the fact that the best year of my life was over. Reality did hit later but I was at home with family and that made dealing with the whole situation a lot easier. It’s a blessing to be surrounded by familiar faces when the realisation of loss occurs. It makes dealing with difficult times a lot easier.

Take Photographs

Your twenties are a crucial period. It’s not our adolescence but this period that defines our life. Some people start early and by the time they are 25 they have accomplished great successes that make you feel inconsequential. When you read about the hours and years of unaltered hard-work they put in, it makes you feel like you’re not doing enough. It is inspiring, yet terrifying.

Therefore, I believe in taking photos. Photos, I believe are are a brilliant innovation. One of the best sources to go back to when our memory defies us. There are innumerable events that we will forget, but when one fine evening you’re going through your old pictures and the photos of those moments pop up, they remind us how good life has been. Something we often fail to admire and accept in the present.

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Friedrich Nietzsche was a Greek scholar and philosopher. Several times throughout his works, Nietzsche talked about the thought experiment of ‘eternal recurrence’. Aphorism 341 of The Gay Science goes like this:

“What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence—even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust! Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: “You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.” If this thought gained possession of you, it would change you as you are or perhaps crush you. The question in each and every thing, “Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?” would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight. Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?”

If we were to believe in his idea, then why aren’t we living our lives wildly chasing our dreams like it was our last day? Why do we succumb to the sadness inside us? Does the idea of eternal recurrence – that every moment of your life will repeat itself into eternity – leave you shivering with fear or with joy; whether you are living life fully everyday or just waiting for better times to come.

Life is happening at every breath. The question is whether it is happening for us or to us. The latter has always been an easy answer. Blame it all on life. Irony is, it is after all our own life. So in a way aren’t we blaming ourselves? And if we are blaming ourselves then life isn’t really happening to us, it is happening for us. It all seems a bit twisted to be honest.

The present moment will somehow always be difficult. So let it be. But remember to take photos of all important moments so that 5 years later when your memory fails you, these photos will remind you of far you’ve come and all that you have achieved. That if you were to live this life all over again, you wouldn’t mind. It would instead be a pleasure. 

Lessons Learned

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Image credit: Henry Asencio

There are parts of you that want sadness. Find them out. Ask them why. Not everything in life will be beautiful and long lasting. Sometimes people come into your life to teach you lessons; to show you what is acceptable and what it not. They test your limits; show you who you can be. You wouldn’t have learned to love yourself until you hadn’t bent over backwards long enough for it to start hurting.

These people, their presence is temporary. To fight for someone who intends to stay seems worth the effort, but why fight for someone who wants to leave? They come for a little while to make you feel better, to be someone to walk with at night and spill your life to. They don’t, however, stay forever. We still have to keep going and thank them for the beautiful memories they gave us.

People inspire you, or they drain you—pick them wisely.

Honest Cover Letter

To whomsoever it may concern:

As a person who has worked in two offices and few bullshitty freelance gigs – most of which were super dull, underpaid and clearly could have been done by anyone with a simple skill to read, I’m clearly not qualified for this position and I can guarantee there are applicants who are far more legitimate than I am. I understand applying for this position is a long shot considering I’m not qualified for it and I don’t really want the position. But since robbing a bank is too dangerous and there are bills to be paid, I don’t have much of a choice but to get myself a job.

Capitalising on the fact that I can use the internet better than old people, I hope to find a position in your company that pays me more than I need, will allow me to not interact with other employees and will let me ‘fake-work’. I’m also hoping you will send me on all-expense paid trips to cool places like Europe for “work purposes”. With this goal in mind, I have attached my resume detailing my qualifications. 

Below are some characteristics that I believe are significant and also trying to pass off as relevant to this position:

  • I’m terrible working in offices. In my experience so far in the past two offices I was advised to work on my ”fake smile”.
  • I have a tendency to get really drunk at office functions. I mean I avoid such functions, but if I were to attend, I’m sure I’d be the one most drunk.
  • I generally grow to resent all my coworkers.
  • I might come across as a bright candidate with a lot of young, fresh and interesting ideas. But trust me – they’ll all run out and in no time you’ll see my mediocrity shine through.
  • I have absolutely no experience doing anything that the position requires. I think I can pull it off but it’s a shot in the dark to be honest.
  • I have no idea what half your job description means. If you have a lie detector in the interview room, that thing would start beeping the moment I’d enter the building, i.e, if you call me for an interview.
  • I’m requesting you to give me this job. I’m tired of making pennies working in the junior position.

Going by everything I mentioned and based on my credentials, I’m certain you will not hire me. Truthfully, I’m just hoping to bullshit my way in and get at least 5 paycheques before you guys figure out that I have no idea what I’m doing. Also, the money would help me get by for the next two months until I find something else to bullshit my way through.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to meeting with you.

Warm regards,
Why bother, you’ll probably never remember it

Delegation vs Leverage

I was watching a Tony Robbins video the other day where he mentioned having a team of people with whom he works. Not having a team of people who works for him. Slight twist of words but significant difference between the two.

In my small span of career so far, I’ve met people who strongly believe in delegating. They write an email about a task with a follow-up on the given deadline. There is no real support. It’s more like they take responsibility of the desired result but not of the required action.

It was one of those topics that sparked my interest. So I started reading up on it and this is what I’ve understood.

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Delegation is taking a result or action you’re responsible for and giving it to someone else. You’re delegating the entire responsibility on a hope and a prayer it will actually get done, and get done right. In case it doesn’t the blame is on the person who was supposed to do the work.

Leverage, on the other hand is working with another individual to produce a result or action. The other individual may do most, or even all of the work, but you’re actively involved by clarifying the outcome needed, checking in from time to time and helping solve challenges that may come up along the way. You’re leveraging the work, but you’re maintaining responsibility and ownership of the result you’re after.

One makes you feel like a team player and the other makes you feel like a mere worker. Such a simple difference, but choosing one over the other makes all the difference.

The Girl Who Drinks Whiskey

A lot can be understood about people by the choice of their drink.

You’ve got your wine drinkers, twirling their glasses, looking all fancy, mostly judging everybody around them. Then you’ve got your beer drinkers, the cool fun gang. You’ve got your vodka and tequila drinkers, busting shots, with the only aim to get high.

And then there are whiskey drinkers. If you’re a whiskey drinker chances are you will be presumed as an old stuck up fella who sits alone, and smokes packs of Marlboro Reds.

This is where I disagree. Sure, whiskey might be the most masculine choice at bars, but it doesn’t mean it’s out of bound for the ladies. In fact, women who like whiskey are pretty awesome and incredibly desirable (well, for some men at least). I once overheard a gentleman in a bar say, “There’s just something hot about watching a chick throw back shots of whiskey with a purpose.” (Not making this up)

The woman who drinks whiskey can hold her liquor. If you want someone who takes down shots and lose her senses then stay away from the whiskey woman. However, if you’re looking for a good evening, you’ll want a girl who can hold her liquor. And if she is ordering neat, you’re in for a good night.

If her drinking habits are any reflection of the rest of her habits, then this woman doesn’t like half-ass things. For her, weekend is the time to let her hair down and relax (with or without a good company). She isn’t one to go to a bar, get drunk and sulk about her problems.

Just like whiskey has a mature, aged flavour, so does a whiskey drinker. This woman is mature, and drinks to enjoy alcohol. She’s not the one to laugh her ass off at silly jokes. Instead she is looking for either a mature company or no company.

She doesn’t just drink whiskey because it’s going to get her drunk faster or because she has anything she’s trying to prove. She genuinely appreciates alcohol in general, and the prominence and class of whiskey have sparked her interest. Sure, she could throw back shots of cheap vodka, but simply getting pissy drunk is far from her motive. She sips slow.
She’s not a people person. She’s a whiskey person.

She is emotional. She is in touch with her feelings and is honest about them. While she may come across as apathetic to majority of the banking – once you get to know her, you realise just how passionate she is.

She is also a badass. Not in a motorcycle rider or bass guitar player kind of way. But, judging by the bourbon on the rocks she’s clutching, she probably has a little wild streak that not everyone knows about.

Mumbai Meri Jaan? Nope.

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Disclaimer: The contents of this post are my personal views. I do not hate Mumbai. I do in fact love it  (sometimes I hate that I love it so much). If this happens to offend you or the Mumbai lover in you, then I’m sorry. The reason I’ve chosen Mumbai is because I’ve lived most of my life here.

Since the longest time I have despised Mumbai and have always looked for opportunities to escape it. In the past 6 years, I got serious about it and managed to escape twice. However, due to my bad luck or black magic or some curse I had to come back and endure it. I have tried to be grateful. However, every time someone says Mumbai Meri Jaan, while thousands around me get an orgasm, I feel nothing.

Sure, this city is great and filled with opportunities… and people. However, I’m more of a quality over quantity person. Mark Manson said (not in these exact words), “instead of asking yourself what your passion is, ask yourself what are you willing to struggle for”. And I was willing to compromise on family, friends, familiarity and move to a different country and start a new life. In fact, I did it twice. I’m not claiming that it was all smiles but I was happier there than I will ever be here.

Let me explain.

People
Not all Indians go abroad and the ones who do, most of them behave in a certain manner that is appropriate. They are sensible and easy to have a conversation with. Recently, some of my colleagues here in Mumbai saw a video of Vin Diesel at the airport being called out names by his hosts (us Indians). People were calling him “DEJAL” and “Abe Takle”. To me, this is shameful and there is nothing funny about it. However, my colleagues found it amusing, played it 10 times and laughed harder every time. Explains it all.

Women’s Safety
I agree I have only lived in two other countries so far in my life, but I have felt safe in both those countries. My clothes or the time of the day or night did not ever put me in a dangerous situation. I was never harassed or eve-teased every time I stepped out. No man tried to brush his hands to any part of my body and nobody stared at me in a disgusting manner. Never in those countries have I felt conscious about my clothes or felt uncomfortable when out. Not the case in my home country. There hasn’t been a day when I’ve been out and not been uncomfortable.  And this frustrates me.

The Standard of Living
When abroad, I was making decent money, living in decent houses, shared by good, clean people, the surrounding and building were clean and everybody did their bit to maintain it. The rents did not cost a bomb and even places that were a bit cheap did not make life miserable because of the kind of people that lived there. I didn’t feel like I was being ripped off every time I went for a coffee or shopping. INR 500 for a coffee = Rip Off.

The Place
Imagine this (most of you must have experienced it): You walk out, cars are driving smoothly in their respective lanes, you have a sidewalk to walk on, people are crossing only at specific crossings. No honking, clean roads, fresh air, minimum noise. The station for local transport are so well organized that nobody is banging into each other (intentionally nor unintentionally). Everything is systematic and your commute is comfortable.

Now imagine the absolute opposite: waking up to loud honking, stepping out and struggling to walk, stations crammed wth people with one lady standing right in the middle of the bridge obstructing everyone because. Not only do you have less space to walk, you also have to consider not putting your feet into tobacco spit, cow dung, trash while simultaneously avoiding creeps who are trying to rub their shoulders against yours.

Getting Things Done In General
Those countries don’t just talk about digital, they have adopted it. From booking a doctor’s appointment to getting important government related jobs done, the task can be done with a few clicks that avoid a lot of mental frustration and stress. Even if you have to make a personal visit, it is not stressful. I do not have to keep aside an entire day. People are not rude; they are in fact considerate. I’m not tossed around from one desk to another and there are always solutions to problems where I don’t have to go back every time.

Yes, I’m aware and I understand that we are a developing nation, that India is a huge country, that a major percentage of our population is under the poverty line. I get it. We are doing a lot to improve the nation and it requires doing things instead of complaining. If you are one of those who chooses to stay here, do their bit and help the economy then kudos to you. You are doing what I can’t and don’t want to.

Letters To Self

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All your childhood, you waited for this phase of life. It always seemed like the coolest, most glamorous time. Filled with love and laughter.

Yet here you are. With knowledge that it’s anything but. It’s messy buns and messier lives. It’s baggy shirts, overflowing laundry bags and cheap take outs. It’s a lot of work and never enough money. It’s freedom with responsibilities. Not quiet how you imagined it to be.

Different people are doing different things.

Your best friend is killing it with success. Your old classmate is getting married. Your ex is happy in love. Your old friend is drowning in alcohol. Different people are doing different things. But not you. You’re just here – getting through your days a little better than the last. But then you have days where you can’t get up at all; petrified and wrapped in a blanket of confusion.

You spend time adding clothes to cart but never place the order because you’re too responsible to spend all that money in one go. Too careful and not vulnerable enough to lose yourself to someone else’s tunes. But somehow this isn’t enough. This life you’re living doesn’t feel complete. You feel lost more often than not and wonder where you went wrong. Why are you stuck while others aren’t.

Did I do too much too soon? Did I not do enough? Is there a reason why it is never me? Is this going to be the rest of my life? Unsuccessful? Alone? Filled with dreams that might never come true? It’s a malicious mind space to be in.

Maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe sometimes the best you can do is breathe and believe. We’ve all been vulnerable. Texted the wrong person. Made that call. Messed up an important interview. Felt the green monster towards a friend in love. Envied the successful friend.

Sometimes it takes serious effort to not hate oneself. To not think too low of oneself. There is so much left to do. A world filled with life is waiting to happen. Books to be read, steps to be taken, places to visit. There is so much ahead. And in ten years you will look back, and wish you were here again.

This time is too precious to waste wallowing in your own sadness. Don’t lose yourself to self-pity and non-existent boundaries. Do simple things. Stop procrastinating, take a walk with the nature, go to the gym, read your favourite book for the millionth time, watch a movie, sketch more – a little better than the last time. Get out of your head and enjoy the small pleasures of life. Let your life revolve around you. Wake up with a smile and let go of the worries. Make memories so wild, you’ll be the coolest grandparent they’ve ever known.

It’s only mid-20s.

Friendship

rare-animal-friendship-gray-wolf-brown-bear-lassi-rautiainen-finland-91People walk around today calling everyone their best friend.

The term doesn’t have any real meaning anymore. Mere acquaintances are lavished with hugs and kisses upon a second or at most third meeting.

Birthday cards get passed around offices so everybody can scribble a snippet of sentimentality for a colleague they’ve barely met.

And everyone just loves everyone. As a result, when you tell somebody you love them today, it isn’t much heard. 

-Alan Shore

Distance

It happens. Today it’ll all seem fine. Tomorrow you’ll grow apart. Friends will no longer be friends. Partners will walk hand in hand until their fingers no longer intertwine.

The kiss that once meant weak knees and racing heart will no longer taste like sweet love but more like bitter goodbyes.

The ones to whom you once poured your heart out to will seem like strangers. An unpleasant silence is all you’ll have to offer when you see them again. When your words will lose their way.

You’ll spend your days and nights staring into nothing, wondering what caused this distance, this black abyss between you. And more often than not it won’t be an argument that tore you apart but life itself. It’s you. It’s them. And it’s time.

You changed. You grew up. You realised your importance. You moved on. And they did too.

Things that once used to mean the world are now just photos hiding away in some corner. People that used to make you feel like you could climb the highest mountain now make you feel like drowning at the bottom of the sea.

And all of this is okay. It’s a part of life. People come and people go. Some friendships and relationships last a lifetime. Some fail to keep up and hence, aren’t worth holding on to.

So let go. If they don’t make you happy anymore, let them go.