Day 139: 2017 Highs – EduMan

It’s 2018. 2017 has gone by, and the cyberspace is overflowing with messages of hopes for the upcoming year, reviews of the year that went by and promises for the new year. Here’s my year in review but focused on the major highs and the lows.

EduMan

I knew the man had material to impress way back in 2010-2011 itself, when I had reached out to him for TFI. There was something about him, the energy and the passion that came with his discussions, that was admirable at the least. I should put it out there that it must be those discussions with him while firming up the application for TFI that established my interest in the education sector deeply. So, if it works out, he is on my Vote of Thanks for sure. Even it spirals down, I’m sure he will get a positive mention.

EduMan carries a certain calmness and simplicity about him that is inspiring. For someone like me that is always trying to make her words keep up with her thoughts, I believe that his personality is one to emulate. Over the period of the internship, I saw him as a great leader, a visionary thinker, an avid reader, an inspirational academic, and a great companion.

  • He has taught me to weave the professional and the personal seamlessly so that they are not absolutely discrete and yet do not overstep their roles. This is something I’m still struggling to master in my own life. The man has a smooth way of treading into the professional aspects amidst a personal interaction, and still keeping the conversation contextual.
  • He has also made me extremely conscious about acknowledging and employing skills that people have. After that month with him, I realized how little I share praise for a person’s good deeds. EduMan does not hesitate to endorse quality work or inputs as he sees it, and I think in today’s cynical world, we need more such minds. We need more people celebrating more, even the littlest, successes. With enough positivism, the world might just become a happy place after all.
  • The final learning from my watching EduMan work more closely was how insufficient my network truly was. He was a collector, of people. He had surrounded himself with people that could motivate, teach and help him so that he was protected from any situation that life might throw his way.

He is the first to officially pay me for my editing duties – all based on a silly college editorial team that we were a part of ten years back. He brought to me people and experiences that have enriched my life so far. He has taught me to smile and to goof through it all.

I’m excited for the year ahead and the work that will come our way.

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Day 137: V and V

V1

He definitely won brownie points for being on time and for picking a decent place, well suited for the occasion. But, as soon as I saw him and exchanged that formal handshake, I knew that this was not going to be. This arranged setting of meeting prospective matches has been going on for a while now. So, if there were a resume for life, I could add ‘Filtering Prospects’ as an added skill. I saw this one and I knew it was not going to be; two hours of talking down, I was more than convinced.

Over the years, my filters, the items in “the checklist”, have all been refined and made to suit the practical needs of the scene. I no longer want a guy who’s more or less my age, has an interest in the languages and photography, and loves dogs, cultures, food and traveling as much as I do. I no longer want him to be a writer, and world-savvy, and a biker-rider. I no longer expect a man to be spontaneous enough to move to a new city, or better yet a country, and start life afresh. But there are a few things that are still required. Please…

  • Have an interest that keeps you going. There is a world outside of just work and home; it matters.
  • Live to eat, or Eat to live. Enjoy it nonetheless.
  • Throw yourself outside your comfort zone every once in a while. The more you rest in one safe spot, the closer you are to becoming a tree.
  • Ooze out with passion. Whether you’re laughing, crying or fighting like lunatics, let it all overflow with passion. Do it like you mean it.
  • Be a gentleman. Respect. In today’s day and age, a man that holds the door open not because the woman is incapable of doing it herself, but because she deserves that amount of respect, is the true gentleman.
  • Leave the shores of your country at least once. It is a great test of one’s personality, to be in a country that is not yours, amidst a culture that is not yours. It takes some nerves to keep an open heart and let yourself be drowned in the new. And you learn to take care of yourself.

I have met some wonderful men in the past and it has not worked out for whatever the reason may be. But, I’d like to think that there were all the right men for someone else, and not me. That gives me the hope that there is a right one for me out there somewhere.

ViToo

The universe plays funny jokes on you and I was purview to its latest recently. I met two people, poles apart, and with the same name. ViToo, of course, has the benefit of time since I’ve known him for a few years now. I got introduced to him at TCS, when we were working on the same project, but from different locations. Different reasons bring people together, in this case it was our shared roots in CBE. Now that I was back in home base, we decided to meet up and take the mere online conversations off.

It did not, for once, feel like I was meeting someone for the first time in hard flesh. The conversations kicked off as if they were merely in limbo for a few years. There was a certain comfort factor with the person and the conversations that was welcome. Very soon we were talking about family and long-term plans, successes and failures, like it was but the next logical information trivia to share. It was clear that I would be in touch with this gentleman for a while to come.

V1 vs. ViToo

The difference between the two new people that I met within the span of a week was all too blaring. Certain people have that presence and climate around them that automatically brings out your best. Certain people have the opposite effect as well, where your guards are automatically up. This doesn’t mean that I was guards up during my meet with V1. But, the social setting or the expectation from the meeting invariably brought out a different me from what I truly was.

It makes me wonder if the arranged marriage set ups are flawed by definition, because they bring out the fake, made-up version of people. In this case, it’s highly likely that the real-me would have scared V1 all the way out (the mellow me was apparently ‘aggressive’ for the gentleman). But I wonder if I would have been a different, more-charming me, had I not gone to these meetings with the pressure of evaluation and selection. If I knew that the other person wasn’t checking off items on his mental check-list, would I have been forgiving of his follies?

This doesn’t discount the fact that us human beings are designed to judge and evaluate. So, I am confident that the meeting with ViToo also had its fair share of judgement and checking off of mental checklists. What was different was how these assessments did not matter majorly. When you have a wavelength match with another, I guess it doesn’t matter how you evaluate the other or vice versa, because you’re probably checking off similar items.

People’s behaviors and interactions are clearly becoming a topic of interest. A few more years of meeting prospects and I should probably pick a Doctoral topic from all this learning. Time will tell!

Scotch: Kids these days put too much time into this marriage thing. Life is a journey and if you find someone that makes the trip more fun, hold on to them.

Day 133: Bleeding Blue

Cook-a-thon

ChaCha had a strong desire to eat some home cooked mor-koottu and I offered to let her experiment at home. So, the Sunday turned into a massive cook-a-thon at home. Chicken was added into the menu, some cleaning got done through the whole cooking process, and the lunch ended on a sweet note. I remembered how much I loved cooking to begin with. The last few months had scared me a little; had I lost the interest in this stress-relieving hobby, after all? After the cookathon, I realized the reason I was slacking off for the last few months was simply because of the lack of an audience. There is always an extra pep in the chop when you know someone else is around to share the meal.

There is something strange about the mind and its innate tendency to compare. As we were cleaning, marinating, cooking and eating the chicken, I kept going back to times with Dodo and the feelings from then. There had always been an excitement about a man that loved cooking. There would be moments of irritation when he’d automatically assume that I was the sous-chef, never the lead. There would be mirth in fighting between the classic rock that we loved then and the more subtle songs he loved now. At the end of the day, there would be a lot of whining about his job or his life, things for which the answer was always found only between the sheets. This communion felt different.

It differed in all aspects except the part where I was left cleaning an entire sink of used utensils, all by myself. It’s funny how this was a bone of contention with Dodo as well, and is a point of discussion now too. But it speaks volumes about the women in the lives of these men that do not even make them realize the basic decency that goes into cleaning up after yourself. I still respect Tiwari and Superbiker for their sensitivity towards the matter, especially the minute they realized that I did not have the luxury of a maid. Clean-up sucks and that’s probably one major factor that would hold me back in the future from accepting such offers.

BeeeEfffCeee

The latter half of the evening was a fete. First football match in a stadium, ever, and the BFC fan club, the West Block Blues were the right company. Mado was a dear; planning the idea up, getting us the tickets and even finding awesome seats. The rush that comes with 20,000 people chanting, swearing, booing and cheering at the same time is unique entirely. One might not follow the sport, not know the rules, or the names of the players. And yet one wouldn’t stay away from the energy of the scene.

It was as exciting as watching a live rock concert. Amazing. At the end of it all, good football won the match.

Life would all be topsy-turvy if not for a few things fancy that put you out of your comfort zone. 

Day 126: SoulSurfer I

A million thoughts run through my head and the SoulSurfer has been a major partner in all of that. What started off as a reality check for the SilverGhoster turned into a crucial inward journey for me. Was I ready to let another in after all the pain of the past? When I had finally accepted that I might be by myself for the rest of my life, for lack of another with a similar mindset, was the universe sending me a message through this company? For all that I complain about the society and its unwarranted needs, was I truly ready to stand against it and fight every triviality that it worries itself with? Was any of this worth it?

  • Midnight babbles from Valley school eased me into the novelty that came with the environment. As we spoke about strange topics that mattered, and that did not, there was a strange comfort in knowing that there was someone to listen to me at the end of the day. We worked through the major disagreements after the birthday night, and it felt like I had someone in my corner. As discussions about each evident difference in us popped up, it seemed like I was talking to a sorted individual, influenced by the checklist and affected by a plan. The babbles made sense.
  • There is apparently a car whose review completely fit me. The all-white Civic Type R was the kind of city-road sports car that was a bumpy and a choppy ride, one which would make any passenger question the buyer’s intent. But ask the driver, and you’d know exactly what the car meant, and where it stood out from the crowd. Coming from a car guy, this felt like a great proclamation of the thoughts the SoulSurfer had for me. And who can complain! The sweet ride has VTEC.
  • At the end of week 1 at Valley school, I was craving an entirely different palate from what I was eating every day. I wanted a biriyani, and some dosa vada, and a pani puri, and maybe some parathas. But what did I  crave the most? An ice cream. I got cornered when I invited SoulSurfer along for a trip to the House. We found the quieter version of the store, cosy enough for a conversation, and yet with the same amazing DBC. There was a mirth and glee in the light banter that was refreshing.
    • I sensed a certain unraveling in the SilverGhoster that was comforting. I could sense certain layers getting pulled off. As we walked around neighborhoods familiar to the man, it felt like homecoming; walking through familiar roads with an unfamiliar face. I felt a need in the SoulSurfer to share his life, his stories, his roads and his streets.
    • I also perceived an evident hesitation in the SoulSurfer when walking the streets. Hands locked up in the back, a safe one-arm distance from me, and an instant apology in case of any unintended brush against me were all signs of a certain refrain in the man. And, I was surprised by how little I felt any of it.
  • Considering how close traveling is to my heart, it seemed like the right time to put the SoulSurfer through the second litmus test – the day trip. A lot of planning went into deciding the destination, the pitstops and the ride – the SilverGhost, and there was a mutual excitement going into the weekend. And come Friday, Mt Vesuvius erupted. There was some major argument, a more major disagreement, and the plan was off. It only seemed apt for me to propose to cancel, and it hurt a wee bit that the SoulSurfer was all too quick to jump on the plan. A general consensus that came out was that the universe worked on its own schedule, and you couldn’t force it to be any faster or slower than what it actually is.
  • Back at the Valley, and there was a sense of newfound calm in me that I hadn’t felt in a while. The conversations at the school had moved to them wanting to have me join them. And, on the personal front also, there was a meaningful turn of events; discussions with the OldMan were not too confrontational; and the SilverGhoster had started digging a little too deep into my soul. It was getting easy to let him open the book, read a few pages, and maybe recommend a few corrections too. The dark side of the moon was slowly unraveling and it was not going to be such a scary event after all. The SilverGhoster was slowly, but surely becoming the SoulSurfer.
  • Research wrapped up and a surprise road trip popped into my schedule. A holiday in the middle of the week meant that SoulSurfer and I could head out of town, in the RedBeast nonetheless, and with a curfew at 1 PM for the Cinderella turned SoulSurfer. I headed out late, he brought in a detour to an ancient building, but soon enough we hit the road. Turns out our music interests matched and both of us didn’t mind singing at the top of our voices. Turns out I was comfortable letting the SoulSurfer drive, while I unwinded up front. Breakfast at Shivalli was nice; we picked the more quieter, more ancient one, than the more loud, noisy and refurbished one.
    • SoulSurfer popped the biggest surprise of the day by proposing that we change plan and head out to Mysore. As we pulled up at Shivalli, I felt a sense of regret for the trip already ending. So, when the man suggested something off, which meant that we’d be on the road for longer, I jumped in immediately. The element of surprise was amplified when I only wanted to go to the city, and return back, where as he thought of a little trip to the temple up the hill.
    • The temple trip itself was a spiritual experience beyond me. It was crowded, as expected; there was a huge mess and a rush, as expected; and yet, there was a certain peace in me that I hadn’t felt in a while. The SoulSurfer was surprised that I would behave ‘normal’ in a temple. And I was surprised by how pleased he was with me in the temple. I approached the lady of the house, and I asked her to take care of the uncertainty ahead, and to give me strength to put up with what she had planned for me. As we sat in the temple, the SoulSurfer a breath away, and the mad rush of the temple all around us, I knew that there was something more to this trip than just a day trip between pals.
    • As we drove back, I was ready to hold a pinkie and just ‘that’ was an elevating feeling. As I held a bony, skeletal hand, I realized a strange connection, a young lady waiting to be led, a grown man looking for company, a friend lost at sea.
    • Pulling into Cinderella’s castle, it became evident that the SoulSurfer had never been in such company before and the filter of what to share and what not to was still developing. It also became evident that my impression of my own body, and my insecurities were going to hold me back more than I anticipated. I reached out and held his hand, he commented on how dry my palm was, and I immediately withdrew into my little bubble. All under 15 seconds. It took a long drawn discussion about this to slowly find my way out from that corner. I wondered what previous experience would prepare the man for such events, and what prior hurt would have etched in deep, and dark places in my heart.

The transition from the SilverGhoster to the SoulSurfer was sudden, considering the few days that we have been talking and getting to know each other. The suddenness brought with it an element of surprise, of spontaneity that the Gemini in me craves. He was noticing things often ignored, he was saying things often considered silly or inappropriate and we were talking about things that I presumed were universally understood.

It was novel. Novel, at 33.

Pics4mswiss: The town of Lausanne, enveloping the hills, and looking over the grand lake.

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 100: You don’t have to sing like me, you only have to sing like you

PsychGoddess showed up fresh in the morning, and the Sunday was worth it all.  We started the day off with some dosa, coffee and loads of life. Scotch was the most excited of the lot though. Having spent so many months with only me, she was all out of bounds for another company.

Adopt, Don’t shop

Since the trip to Bhor, I was in awe of PsychGoddess and her perspectives on life. That awe transformed into respect, and one of a different level, when I found out that her son was an adopted child. H and I have had conversations about adoption in the past; it’s been a decider for me on a number of prospectives. But they’ve typically sounded wishful thinking, and something that we’d have to battle against the world to see it through. Talking to her about it made it seem very relatable; doable of sorts.

It’s clearly a big decision to choose to give life to a child that has been abandoned. But a few things she said will stay with me if I get to that point of having to make that decision.

  • It’s not your right to have a child, especially to adopt one. It’s the child’s right to have a decent life. And that always trumps every other justification you might have in your head.
  • If you’re a married couple adopting, each of you has to decide for yourself, if you, as an individual, wants to have a child.
  • Every child reacts differently to the knowledge of her adopted status. Know your child enough before having that conversation. And even then, anything might happen. Be there.
  • Do not overcompensate for the status of the child. At the end of the day he’s your son. And he needs to realize that being adopted doesn’t give him extra goodies than any other child around.
  • Be open and speak about it in the house. The more hushed the conversations are, the more the child feels different.
  • Leave no opportunity to remind the child that she is loved and wanted in the family. It is all that matters.

Marriage

It’s always refreshing to hear PsychGoddess’ perspective on marriage. It changes you, she says, and warns me to be prepared for even the most sensitive men to give up their views when in this institution. It’s very uplifting to hear men, and boys, like SPD and GardenMan talk about the status of women, and to see them empathize with the lopsided role of women in the society. But to imagine that all this would change when they get married makes it seem like the soul sucking institution that I’m imagining it to be.

I believe more in the idea of spending time together, living through the good and the ugly. None of the pain and the joy would be changed by the fact that you’re legally bound by marriage or not. Not being married, but living together somehow puts you on an even scale. Societal expectations from the roles of the man and the woman no longer seem to apply. And it seems less stressful to explain why the man stays at home to cook or why the woman wears pants all day.

And if marriage seems like a logical celebration to the past, the time that you’ve spent together, then by all means – do get married.

Finding Ram in Kabir

A great perspective that PsychGoddeas introduced me to this time around is the Kabir Project. What started off as a project to find Kabir, as the opposite of finding Ram, ended in a beautiful collection of hymns and poems that seem to talk about life more than religion.

She signed us up for a Kabir singing workshop today and I was excited to try out something I’d normally never do. We reached the studio, Shoonya, early enough to soak in the beauty of how the terrace had been transformed into a positive living space. Mental note made for future terrace spaces.

When the event started, a group of 28 very different people got talking and singing about Kabir. The group was led by Vipul Rikhi, who worked as a translator at the Kabir Project. The song for the day was called ‘Haalo ri mori sajni’ and it deserves a post of its own. The workshop was well conducted, and we spent enough time talking about the lyrics, and listening to him sing it that a number of the participants were singing the song like naturals at the end of the 3 hours.

What caught me off guard was the silence that I felt inside me when the whole group finished singing the song one last time. We’d talked about detachment and the palace of colors, had laughed at each other’s singing voices, and had held each other’s hands through the stress of singing in smaller groups. But in the end, as we all sang together, I felt a strange attachment with the idea of the group while still feeling extremely detached from it.

Oh! And Vipul was super hot with his salt and pepper and the beard. ❤

Singing or not, I’m happy that she is here. She made me a special batch of upma, anf I had it with a side of amma’s mango pickle. She even bought me fresh dates for dessert. It’s only weird she left it all on the kitchen counter, and it was a little tough reaching them all. But I managed.

Can we keep her, please?” Scotch

Day 35: BFFs

While it started off looking like a typical eat, sleep, clean kind of day, the Sunday was made interesting by a visit from an age old friend. As we sat at a quiet tea room, sipping on our kadak chais and catching up on the years gone by, I recall the way we met and became the thickest of friends.

He was in my class for three long years, two or three roll numbers behind me, and I barely spoke more than 10 times to him. Well, neither did he. He was getting awfully close to my ex-BFF in college, and as she and I started growing apart, he seemed to be at the center of it all; the attention hogger that took my BFF from me. Flash-forward to after graduation, and we go to the same abandoned town for our training, exchange a few pleasantries and before I know it, we’re hanging out most of the time. It surprised me how much we had in common and how littler we spoke about it during college days. This was 2005. We’ve come a long way since then. Stayed across continents and in the same continent, across cities and in the same city, and he’s even gotten married, and yet we continue to stay in touch, sharing each other’s lives when time permits.

As I drove back home, after a quick catch-up with Switch, I realized that we’ve grown out of our teenager phase of the friendship, and into the adult version of it. We spoke about investments, and savings and property to buy. We did not talk about the latest movies or the newest book read. We spoke about in-laws and families, ours and theirs. We did not talk about the latest photography gear to oogle at. We spoke about pain in the joints, and the latest gym sessions. We did not talk about the next travel adventure to be planned, the rock concert to attend or the newest gadget in town. Somehow, over the course of growing up, life’s struggles had come out the winner and we had lost our interests, it seems. There were promises of a new location, bringing in newer changes to life. But how effective are these changes, only time will tell.

If it was these interests that got us together in the first place, and if these interests no longer exist, then what binds us together now?

“Thanks to this old pal of yours, I got to ride in the car after a whole week and…what now!? Was that a cat?” Scotch