Day 117: Most of that is the popular impression in media

And semester 3 ended in style, with a short 2 hour paper. This meant that the three of us got up mid-way, disturbed the tranquility of the exam hall, and walked out, in royal fashion. Like I’ve ranted about numerous times in the past, I’m glad this is over and I’m one semester away from graduating.

First time on the couch

The frustration associated with the university and the 3 semesters here poured out as I sat at the therapist’s couch, my first ever. I’d like to think that I was prepared for her deductions since I’d studied Psychology and Advanced psychology in the last year. But who am I kidding? It gave me enough information about mental health to make me realize that I needed to seek professional help. But beyond that, it was an eyewash of a course.

I poured out to the therapist about that, and the hypocrisy of the entire university, and the bureaucracy of the department, and the impending doom of the sector itself being so, and the family scenes, and the relationship conflicts, and then some more about each. She scratched her notes rabidly, while trying to guide me through a sane thought process.

It’s funny how a number of discussions in this preliminary session itself rested on a few key topics – body issues, father, mother and societal independence. As much as I complained about the uni, it was not in the top 3 things that I wanted to work on. Surprising.

What was also surprising is how heavy I felt, walking in to the session, anticipating definite water works, and how relieving the session was on the contrary. That may be the power of speaking to an independent, unrelated entity. Her judgments about me are as third-party as they are about my parents, and that makes it acceptable to the logical mind.

The need for a psyche consult has put me on the backfoot though; looney meds are scary, irrespective of how reassuring her rationale was. But I liked her point, it’s my mind and my medical course to work on it. I would get to choose where I go next. And so, I choose to get a preliminary psychiatric consult for the need for medication and then go back to the psychologist for the next session.

ChemProf Arrives

The house got an extra round of cleaning and prepping today because the ChemProf arrived. Two minutes into return ride, and he was already sighing and fluffing about how Bangalore is bursting from the seams and the Government is just a sham. I have mentally prepared myself for some serious debates on minority-provisions, partitioned India, black pepper’s ill effects and decluttering.

You went to seek external help? But why? We have a comfy couch here. Lie down. Look into my eyes. Tell me all your problems, and I’ll lick them away” – Scotch 

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Day 116: Let’s take it slow and you tell us what you want

One more exam to go and I took the day off to visit Valley school right after breakfast. The drive over was interesting, a comfortable NICE road, SilverGhoster to keep company over the phone, and a beautiful weather. I had lunch with Shankar aunty and helped Sandhya aunty struggle with their failing electricity to grind some dosa dough and realized the simple life that they’ve chosen to live. They battle with the infusion of modern wants and needs every day, but have, as an institution, taken a conscious decision to live simplistic. And I’m told that’s their strategy in reaching kids as well.

I met with Ms. Elsie, who will be my sounding board every evening after the observations. I also met Ms. Suneeta, coordinator for the junior school, and Ms. Indira, coordinator for the middle school. I’ll be working with these two ladies starting 23rd and I was stunned by their openness in sharing about their respective jobs. As we sipped hot tea and ate freshly fried bajjis, they quizzed me on my interest for the school and my plan for the upcoming weeks, months and years.

What caught me off guard, and warmed me the most, is the practicality of their approach to my research. They did not want me to come with a predefined questionnaire, structured interview questions, or a project plan for the week I’d spend with them. They wanted me to walk in with an open mind, and a willingness to question and understand. Everybody I met was willing to share, warm in their welcome as they opened their doors for me. I do not yet know if it’s the philosophy of J Krishnamurthy or their individual ideologies, but I sensed a comfort in their interactions that I have sensed in few other schools.

“I hear they have leopards and monkeys at the Valley School. Thank you very much, but I’ll stay out of that campus.” Scotch

Day 115: And yet we never support our girls

Any trouble in married-land and we are already ready with our guns pointed at the girl. H and her married life has proved to me that marriage is invariably a union of two dysfunctional families, one that makes your own weirdeties seem like the better of the lot. It’s also a union where one party invariably makes more sacrifices than the other and they spend the rest of their lives either making up for it or being morose about it.

What is critical for them to realize is that sacrifices are expected, and are justified as long as they are balanced out. I’d like to see the man live in Bangalore for a month, working from here, while building his social circle here. He would understand exactly what H is going through after moving to KL to start her life with him.

Invariably, the woman is expected to make the grand sacrifices, of her economic, emotional and social stability, and is expected to fit in seamlessly into the newfound circles. Any inability or trouble in doing that is automatically deduced as the girl’s disability and poor upbringing. Any leniency or support from the man’s side is seen as him being a pussy or wife-whipped. He himself walks with the superiority of having done a favor, while a relationship is equal work from both ends.

What got me thinking on these lines today was the conversation with dad, when he almost seemed apologetic for his daughter’s temper and the trouble in the marriage. It’s funny how little they had made an effort to see what might be causing the ill mood, the trigger from the other end. I dared him to tell me one instance where the mother of that son would have accepted his flaws openly. To her, he is the unspoilt unpolished diamond from the lines of South Africa. And on the other side, we let our daughter take the stab for everything, even something like marriage that takes a village to run the show right.

The patriarchy was evident when he justified himself by saying, ‘How can I say that the guy is at fault when I’m sitting in his house and eating his food?’ What happened to the part of the meal that his daughter had paid for? I thought the house automatically became ‘their’ house because what is his is hers. No?

That’s why I say the girls should stay home with their mummies all their lives, S. Then you have the comfort of the same bed all along. Aaah those pleasures.” Scotch

Day 114: You broke my heart, then I took my revenge 

Dodo’s trip to India happened and like every other instance, I was left with a milieu of conflicts in my mind. What sinister plot was the universe playing on me? Why bring in someone into your life, plan for you to share each other’s lives unlike any before, push you to think of the happily ever afters a little too soon, instill strange fears in the other enough to make him run away, commit you to the deepest and darkest dungeons from whence there was no return, provide you with a support system that left you stronger, point you to a life that would sustain without him, bless you with enough strength to live without him, only to bring him back? Bring him back not once, but twice all over.

The universe didn’t just bring him back, but covered him in so many wounds, blood oozing out of every gash, that it was difficult to not care. It seemed that the universe was now playing a silly joke on me, picking up someone that I cared for deeply, brandishing him in front of my face, before throwing him out to the mad rabid dogs to feed on him. And it taunts me for my inaction. It mocks me for reacting the exact same way that I had years back, many scars and wounds back. As he recounted his worrisome tales, I saw the anguish and pain in his eyes, and my mind immediately started its tally – how many of these were my doing?

I strongly believe that everybody walks into our lives to teach us something; to cater to our role as a lifelong learner. They are invariably the Most Knowledgeable Other from Vygotsky’s Social Interaction Theory. I’ve learnt about relationships, the goods and the bads, from Dodo. As have I about taking life easy and enjoying it. Through his persistence over the years I’ve learnt that some loves never die. He’s taught me to stare misfortune in the eye and attack it head on. He’s also taught me to take a stand in life and own up for every decision that one has taken. All through his inability to do so. He’s made me realize that it’s too easy to find escape routes from our decisions and go pick scapegoats to blame for what should have been our decisions. He did it eight years back, and he’s doing it right now.

I wonder what is the drive for the universe to bring him back. What new learning is in store for me through the this phase 2? So far, it has only brought along the ghosts of the past, has unearthed many skeletons hidden in both our closets and has caused the family to raise their guards all over again. Does it intend to only bring more pain?

Or is this one of those instances, where you’ve been brought into someone’s life simply to teach them something, and settle with the hurt in your heart?

You want my opinion? Take each day as it goes, sister. No point in digging too deep into the mud, when there may or may not be a bone under it. 

Move. On. Time will anyway tell you all it’s plans. Eventually.” Scotch 

Day 113: I would never have forgiven myself 

When Scotch almost got me killed

Well, technically, it started with me almost killing Scotch today. I left some rat kill cakes, for the rats to eat, and I was confident that when I woke in the morning, they were intact. Our little rodent pals had found other sources of nutrition. Except, about an hour after checking, I see that both the cakes are missing, and Scotch is sitting in the area, smacking her lips.

I was convinced that she had eaten both and was going to turn all fizzy and die any minute. Worst of all the luck, all this happened between 4 and 6 AM and I had an exam at 9. Would I have to skip the exam entirely? Should I rush her to the hospital now? What if I came back from the exam and found her limp? Would I ever forgive myself for poisoning my own dog?

A quick chat with H helped reorient my thoughts. I immediately called Cessna emergency and we were on our way in 10 minutes. They checked her vitals, and deducted that she was normal, especially since it was about 4 to 5 hours since the suspected act. Her pupils were normal, no frothing or excessive salivation, and she was still alive. Phew!

They anyway gave her a charcoal cleanse and a vitamin K shot, to soak out any poison that might be in the stomach. And she would stay with them, in their day-boarding, while I wrote my exam. I don’t think I would have been able to sit through 3 hours of torture if I had not taken her to the vet.

Exams done, quick lunch with A and SilverGhoster done, and I was off to pick her up. That’s when I learnt about the unprofessional behavior of doctors and how much it affects a layperson. I picked up Scotch from her cage, and she tumbled out in a dizzy. Her hind legs shivered and shook as she stumbled a foot forward. I took her to the vet’s table and asked him if she had been sedated during her boarding. He nodded confidently – no, she wasn’t. And the next 4 hours were spent in my trying to quiz them and myself, on reasons why a normal dog, who had clearly not eaten rat poison, would act dazed and confused after spending 4 hours in a cage. She usually has separation anxiety and comes back from all boarding with a sore throat, from all the barking. But she was never this.

Every post on Facebook, from loving pet parents who’d lost their pet due to hospital negligence, shot in front of me. The guilt from the morning returned all over again. Scotch had gone into some strange depression after my rushing her to the vets early in the morning, feeding her charcoal and locking her up in the cage for 4 long hours. She must have been convinced that I was trying to kill her, and this was her showing signs of depression. I had broken my dog.

Or so I thought, until the vet called me at 9 PM and clarified his mistake. There had been 2 labs today with similar issues – rat poison. And they mixed up Scotch for the other. Yes, Scotch had been sedated because for the first hour that I was gone, she had barked her vocal chords off and unsettled most other boarders. They just had her name confused. A fancy establishment, earning millions of rupees every month from treating and working with pets and they haven’t found a better system to identify dogs.

Shame!

First kisses

Conversations with SilverGhoster took an interesting turn and we got talking about first kisses. It reminded me of past conversations about the same. It reminded me of the past first kisses, and the emotions that come wrapped in with that simple act of a kiss.

The moments of furtive glances and stolen touches before the kiss. All the years of preparation and still being unprepared for what lies ahead. That nanosecond before your lips meet, where you question the next act that lies ahead. With that kiss, you’d be changed forever. In that nanosecond, you remember every opportunity for a kiss that you took before, and every opportunity that you’ve missed. You walk two steps away and yet two steps forward, as you feel an energy draw you on. Unimaginable.

And then, it repeats again with the next one.  It’s the first kiss all over again.

The feeling that binds it all

The factor that makes it truly special, the reason you couldn’t just pay a professional prostitute to give you your first kiss, is the feeling of belonging or oneness that comes with it. Ask any man that has lost his virginity to a paid masseuse, and he’ll tell you about the strange sense of regret that is typically associated with the act. Sex is no longer about love making, it’s purely an item to check off on life’s to-do list.

A lot of today’s generation seems to be stuck in this rut, the one where sex is no longer love-making; it’s a solution to a heartbreak, and is an international flight and some bahts away. There is a queer pressure to belong, a sense to ‘lose it’  because all your friends already have. I’m reminded of the conversation with the Danseuese aka Tooti, where she thought she didn’t have a boyfriend anymore because she didn’t put out yet. I hear silent sighs when I share the first time I made out. It feels like I was a few years too late compared to today’s youngsters.

And yet, I’m able to look back at my first with a sense of pleasure and wonder. It’s not like we’re getting awards for the best first sex. But, I can still look back at my first with a sense of wonder and awe. It still has a memory of amazement, a strange mutual exploration, that was still not pushed by peer pressure. And that’s honestly all that I’d like to send out there as a consolation message to the kids of today – hold off until it feels right, and it will totally be worth the wait.

Checking off checklists

Turns out the initial conversation with the SilverGhoster did get him thinking. As I was talking to him today, I realized that he had a newer, a more updated version of the checklist, and some of the major stereotypes were gone. It feels powerful, almost God-like, to know that someone’s interests and wants in life are shaped by discussions with you. But with that feeling comes great responsibility. By sharing your thoughts and views on varied social issues, you could be altering an impressionable mind, something that can go either ways.

A surprise that lay at the end of the conversation was the realization that I’d checked off a lot of the items on his list. Was I creating such an impression on the SilverGhoster that he was shaping his future aspirations based on me? What would happen when I start showing sides  of me that have scared men away in the past? The last few days have been good conversations. But doesn’t this new twist in the tale just remove a friend from the list entirely? Is this going to be another choice between a friend and something more than a friend?

Doesn’t the past trend say that the friend is the one lost in all such cases?

Woah! All that charcoal and sedative is making me feel funny in the head. And you’re up all night chatting up giving big lectures! Show me some love man!” Scotch

Day 112: Arguing with a fool makes it two 

To share or not to share

SilverGhoster and his classmates are weird. Period. For students getting an. MBA degree, especially in Educational Leadership, they seem to be a little immature in certain aspects. I remember having a similar conversation with GardenMan and his Senior, but these were u degrade kids in their second year. Not experienced professionals pursuing a professional degree, and heading off to lead institutions.

The bone of contention? Class notes, should one share them or not. I have always related to the concept of Open Source over proprietary software even when working. I believe that knowledge should be out in the open, available for those capable to make the most of it. And by reading the notes that you took in a class, if another is able to score more marks than you, what does it truly say about your preparation?

I take my notes online, on a OneNote, and the notebooks are shared with my classmates; well, both of them. At the end of the first semester, they themselves realized that using another’s to study us only so effective, and it’s more beneficial to take your own notes. Even now A uses my notes online but as a guide for last minute preparation.

It reinforces my thought, that when you put all your cards out there, people realize that their own limitations would stop them from making the most out of what you shared. And you eventually come out being the smarter one. Because we all know that when you argue with a fool, that automatically makes it two.

It is also well known that the one that doesn’t share his bread with the doggo is the fool. So, can you? Now please?” Scotch 

Day 111: He has 4 Masters degree and a law degree

Reconnecting with friends is always fun. And, PeePee has been a variant of all sorts amongst the friends circle. What started off as mutual likes on each other’s photo blogs, graduated to comments on the blog and moved on to email exchanges. I still remember the random, unexpected, first email that PeePee sent, full of techniques on shooting a closeup of the moon. I would generally have marked it as spam a d ignored the man on my photoblog. But, I followed it to the last T and this beauty happened. Since then, our mutual acquaintance would go through the phases of the moon; the full moon and its everyday conversations, on everything under the moon, that would wane to the no moon, with some serious virtual silence. He’s been one of those rare acquaintances that I felt at ease with almost immediately and we could talk after years and still catch up like nothing changed.

We reconnected today; I messaged him because I was captivated by his dp when reviewing contacts on the old phone. The new, self-grooming, was definitely spot on. And, we quickly caught up. A successful move to the US, a shack of his own decked up to his interests, new hobbies (wood work :)), and persistent old hobbies, family that lived a few miles away and parents that visited often, and he seems to be living the classic 30-year old’s dream life. And yet, the consistent underlying thread of regret was the mismatch between the familial expectations of marriage versus that of our generation.

He has been riding the same boat of evaluations for marriage as I have, mostly driven by parents. There are staunch restrictions for prospects; should be of the same caste, sub-caste even and all other factors, including matching interests, are trumped by superstitious beliefs. No amount of convincing, discussing have changed their mindset on that. ‘My father has four Master’s degrees, even a law degree, and my mother is equally qualified too. And yet…‘, his voice trails off.

Education vs. Family

A lot of their opinions, and life choices, seem to be affected more by their immediate society than the educational qualifications. Shouldn’t education automatically help you sift out the right from the wrong, the outdated from the relevant? I’ve had this similar query when having sociological discussions with ChemProf as well. Despite being one of the most educated in the larger family, he still has such obsolete, conventional, ideas about relationships, social statuses and gender equality. And I can emphasize with PeePee: the more I talk to ChemProf, the more I realize how futile the whole effort is, and how deep rooted some of these stereotypes really are.

Riding the wall

What also caught me in the whole conversation was the sincere pain I felt in PeePee for hurting his parents. Our generation has very strong principles and has the will to live by it; but it is also aware of the barrier that rests between our generation and the previous one; especially the big barrier about ideologies. The last time I said yes to getting married, it was not because I liked the gentleman; it was purely because I was tired of hurting my parents. And yet, my conviction to my own principles didn’t allow me to see it through.

We’ve become a generation that is strong about its own interests and needs, but is equally aware of the effect of these on the previous generation. We cannot hurt outright, and yet we cannot give in completely as well. We ride the middle line, a balanced act on the tight-rope, and only time will tell if we make it through or the rope tips over.

Talk about long distances, and you now know how we Yoga in KL. Well, mommy tries to do Yoga, but I usually beat her to the mat. And the dogasanas begin.” Goose