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 aways 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

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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

Day 108: You should never meet your superheroes

I don’t know whether I should blame the sociology paper or the extended conversations with SilverGhoster, on everything under the roof, but I have a strange cloud hanging over my head today. Some of the points of discussion during the leeching episode stayed with me and that kicked off our next big rant about relationships.

Black or White

Between the SilverGhoster and the DubaiCassanova, I see the two extremes that define the young men of today.

On one end of the spectrum are those that still believe in chivalry, address even women their own age as ‘Madam’ no matter how awkward it sounds to the modern ear, and prefer the clinical perspective on life, where superheroes exist only in fan fiction. They believe that trying to live the fancy life of glitter and glam painted by mass media will only result in heart break, and nothing is worth a lost peace of mind. They will settle with the charming damsel their mother, and the stars, pick for them, and will love that lady to the end of their life.

On the far blue corner, are the partyholics, who define the quality of life based on the glamour shown on their Instagram page. Their badges of accomplishments vary from the number of men/women one has slept with, to their varying sexualities, to the ability to fool the system entirely. They flout rules like their fathers owned the world, and if money was sufficient to build a social repute, ideologies could be dumped into the farthest shelves of living.

Neutral Ground

Does the world stay in stability because of the two extremities that abound in it? Or is the reason for all these doldrums in the world the very fact that such opposites try to co-exist?

As I continued probing and questioning the life choices on one of these extremities, my natural tendency was to advice him to loosen up, and enjoy the world for what it was. My recommendations were for a more loosely bound life-system, where it was acceptable to put oneself out there, to love and to crash and burn. I asked him to look at those on the other side, their learnings, and realize that he was missing out on so many interesting experiences just because of his principles of life.

And then, I stopped myself short. Was this just my human tendency to change anything that exists and to alter its natural state? If I had been talking to the DubaiCassanova, would I have instead advised him to look at the other end and be more sensitive? Now, wouldn’t this whole process, of advising one to become like the other, define my hypocrisy. While I profess hatred towards any form of advice, especially the uncalled ones that are very generously dished out by the society, wasn’t I doing the same thing by asking the SilverGhoster to let his ghosts of the past lay to rest and explore the world’s colors?

I still stand by what I said about my hatred for advice; any man that has a girl child will give you advice on how to raise a girl; anyone that has loved and lost will start dishing out relationship advice; anyone that has written a competitive examination is now your guide on how to crack it; and anyone that has raised a child, albeit a crack addict, will turn parental coach. What qualifies them to wear the superior cape of a guide, shaping your opinions and experiences, based on theirs? For me, someone that truly qualifies to advice another would be one that has seen that person in their entirety – at their massive highs, their utmost vulnerabilities, and knows the truest principles that shape their life. Or, is a qualified, certified psychological practitioner.

Anyone else is just using their number of years on the earth, their supposed experience, to place themselves at a position of power over you; the holy I’ve-been-there-I-know-it position.

The elusive karma

My barrage of counters on why he didn’t do a lot of things a typical 27 year old would do increased, and the sober SilverGhoster brought in the elusive karma. He said his interpretation of karma was that ‘anything that was meant to happen, would happen anyway, without any known push from your end‘. So, in love and life, he let things take their own course and watched how they evolved.

Funny how I think that’s the pop culture interpretation of karma while the true intent behind it is the opposite. From up his holy chariot, Lord Krishna said ‘कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन। मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥ २-४७’, or, ‘Karmanyevadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadacha na. Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani’. With this background, I see karma as the duty that you have to do for any result to come by. And inaction, or letting the universe do its thing, doesn’t count for karma.

So, when we say ‘What will be will be’ and use that as a reason for not doing something about it, we are basically doing anti-karma, and not the reverse.

That’s some deep stuff brewing, S. If you ask me, the man is right. Just relax, smell the rain in the winds, and things will fall into their place. And maybe that idea of relaxing and having fun is the karma we are all chasing. 

What say?” Scotch

Day 107: Explain Unity and Diversity in India

As expected, the Sociology exam was a bummer. 1/5th of the paper was simply about Unity and Diversity in India. Reminded me of writing similar essays in school; Social Studies, we called it back then. And at least then, all this was new knowledge and there was hope.

Now that I’ve spent 33 years in this world, I see how language divides us more than it unites. Ask every child who’s ostracized for not speaking English. I know that there is as much division between the North and the South of India, as there is between India and Pakistan. We are so hung up on our food preferences, that we’ll go hunting for an idli-vada place in New Delhi, and then complain about the poor food taste.

Our culture, our language, our eating choices, our dressing choices, our sexual preferences, our movie picks, our living spaces, the car we drive, the tourist spots we go to and the money we earn or spend; all make us more and more divided from each other than united.

As I wrote about the beauty of a Durga puja pandal in Bangalore and a Muslim community hosting Ganesha celebrations, I felt hypocritical. I felt like I was using stray incidents of color, to obscure how dull and grey this world really is. As I highlighted the cosmopolitan nature of every Indian city, I felt like I was hiding the fact that every city is one Kaveri verdict away from a curfew and localities burning.

Have I just been wearing my dark shades for too long?

I have never

The much-awaited MAED-MBAELM party happened; in the middle of the day, with the lure of free booze. Well, technically it was four out of the 12. But, it was the most likely crowd, I would say. The usual, shots, beer, pizza and I-have-never.

The dark black shades were on through the day, and I wondered if I was just becoming too cynical in life. As A guffawed at every silly joke, and touched and petted DubaiCasanova at every feasible opportunity, I reminded myself what a make-believe world this was. ‘I have made out with more than 50 men’ and ‘I have hooked up with a teacher in the Uni’ were worn like awards of honor. Such is the pitious state of today’s youth.

And through it all, what surprised me was the overly comfortable Gemini twin in me. An outsider would have found me at the center of it all, reeling in the fun, not feeling an inch out of place. I laud and condemn this strange ability that I seem to possess.

You know it’s a myth that dogs see only in black and white, right?  We actually have a reduced color spectrum, but definitely not the Grey scale. Maybe that’s the filter you need to look at the world. 

What do you think?” Scotch

Day 105: Life is so much better with a filter on

He was the Chief of the regiment and had a huge battalion waiting to welcome him. They were all lined up by the lake, with its crystal water and lush green beds all around. Four crisply dressed soldiers held a big chest from all four sides; it was well-decorated with a red velvet sash, and some gold embellishments. He got off his buggy, dressed in a crisp white shirt, with sleeves folded all the way past his elbow. Years of training showed in his sculpted biceps. He had a baseball cap on, bright red, and turned backwards. Chocolate Croissant at Michael’s! Some Chief, to break uniform, no? His briskly walked up to the lake front, not marching, but keeping step with the soldiers leading up front, with the chest. They marched on, into the lake.

He hesitated for a second before laying his foot into the water, looking to his men for a reaffirmation. He got what he was looking for, and followed the men in. As he moved, he casually looked over to our side, peasants lined up far behind the edges of the lake, behind the thorn barricade that set us in our place. I caught his sight, and looked down immediately, almost blinded by the sparkling white of his shirt. I look up as I hear a splash in the water, and a general murmur amidst the crowd. He has nose-dived into the lake, waving his men to return to the bed the usual way. Where did that chest go already? His men quickly step back to the lake shore, and start their regiment song in full furore. Badluram ka badan, zameen ke neeche hai.

 

He swam to the shore nearest to our barricade, hoisted himself up the slope of the lake bed, and reached to the other side of the barricade. He put his right hand on the railing and recoiled immediately; silly man didn’t know how cruel these iron thorns were. He squeezed himself between two rows of the wire, clearly trying to make his way through. The rest of the crowd took a step or three back, suspicious of this man, wet to his toe and yet sparkling in his bright white. I put a strong foot on the lower railing, and muscled the one above, to make a decent pass for this strange man to get through.

He stumbled on to the other side, smiled his shiny whites, stretched an arm out my way, and said, “Ayatoozarooola! Mazi waqawoori Hashitooshiwashi Wooshi

Me: *Confused* “Hello, I am Swetha

Mr. White: *Switching tongues on me* “Hello Swetha. I am Raam!

I get up from my sleep, kicking my feet up in the air, as if I’d seen a ghost.

I remember seeing a bicycle, resting lazily in a narrow, stone pathway, brightly colored houses in the background, a camera framing this beautiful scene for permanence, and me saying “Buoy! Life is so much better with a filter on.

 

 

Day 104: They tend to leech you away from your parents 

Last working day of the semester and I have more glee than sadness. This semester has taken a huge toll on my emotions and my general sanity of mind, questioning my principles and the will to stick around through every bit of the way.  I’m grateful that with the exams, this will be all done. And that will leave me with just one more semester to go.

SilverGhoster

The last month or so has been a fun learning time, with all due thanks to the SilverGhoster. His 4 wheel drive accords him that name; the alternative that he picked for his ride was ‘Doll’. Haha! Anyway, it’s been chitter-chatter about the education scene in the country, some traditional views that run schools, cars and gals, and general love trouble.

Over lunch and tea, we got talking about his big checklist for the prospectives. Can’t blame the man for having one; I’ve been there, striking items off with each passing year. I’d like to mention a few here, not with the intention of outing the man’s super-secretive list, but to remember the discussion that followed each.

  • The girl has to be from Bangalore.
    • Why so? Well, there’s a friend of a family of a friend of the family, who got married to someone from UP. And when the mother of a friend asked about the friend of a family of the friend’s wife, she made a face when he said UP.
  • The girl has to have a younger brother.
    • Why younger? Older brothers tend to be overprotective, you know. And now you have a father and a mother and a brother to worry every time you make a move. And younger brothers can easily be brought in line, no?
    • Why not a sister? Younger or older? Well, a girl will eventually leave the house and the parents will have noone to take care of them anyway. Which means, the in-laws are around a lot, or the wife is gone a lot.
    • Why the whole hassle or siblings? Why not get a single child? Oh! We’ve seen a few of those and their long tentacles. They are too attached to their parents and are always trying to make the man leave his parents and live separately.
  • The girl had to love dogs.
    • Why? Who am I kidding? This one’s a no-brainer.

What caught me off was not just the patriarchy oozing from those demands, but also the naivete of not seeing through the stereotypes. Every time I prodded the discussion, questioning the idea, it all stopped at the societal norms and expectations, and him just being a regular man trying to meet those demands. While a lot of thought had gone into understanding why he needed a girl remotely interested in cars, the others had just gotten added with each societal eyebrow that raised around him.

Well, has he ever thought of how a girl would feel when she heard that her main intention was to ‘leech’ him away from his parents? Umm no. Does he know that research proves that daughters tend to take full custody of their aging parents while sons prefer to resort to hospicecare facilities? Oh, really? Why is it OK to expect a girl to leave her parents, her social circles, and fit right into the husband’s, while the reverse is unimaginable? Hmm valid thought.

I think we need to have more such over-the-coffee conversations with boys in this country. A number of these smart, intelligent, young men are simply looking for a spark to get them thinking. All they are missing is someone to tell them that the other side has a point of view too.

I’m not going to pat myself in the back and claim to have lit a spark. I would consider my karma done if that man at least started thinking on these lines.

While you’re busy lighting sparks, can you also feed me some mummum, please? I know it’s right here and I just have to lick it. But it feels like a lazy day. 

Pretty please?” Scotch