A Solo Adventure Around Town

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Here I am, on a solo adventure. Before I ventured out, all I knew is that I wanted to try getting out.

It was a head knowledge, not really a heart one. You know, when you know something is true, but you’re too lazy?

So to push myself out, I created a list of a few questions to discover:

  • Will I be able to motivate myself enough to actually get out?
  • Would I be able to have meaningful conversations with people?
  • Who am I? With unlimited time, all alone, what do I end up doing?
  • Would I give up and return to the mindless comfort of my room?
  • Do I enjoy it enough to travel alone, like I believe and always say?

Well, here I am. I left college at 9:15 in the morning. It is now 3:15 pm.

I’ve wandered all around. I took a bus to Bravo, then a bus to Oud Mehta, followed by a metro to Fahidi, and then finally walked to, well, nowhere in particular. And where have I reached?

Firstly, I’ve realized that I do feel a bit lost at times. For almost an hour and a half, I was walking, looking for a chill spot. Just to sit, or have tea. And it was hot, and noisy, and loud. But, I suppose moments like this will help me be more decisive. I had to pee twice, and shamelessly entered random restaurants (which I will agains), heading straight for the washroom. Besides that, I have been walking for hours through the same streets, passing the same shops, and crossing the same people. Obviously, I have been noticed. And that has also made me feel conscious.

But right now, I finally had enough. I realized, what is holding me back from sitting wherever I want, or passing the same people again? Why am I conscious? Because I am alone? That maybe I look lost or aimless? Or that I am a girl? Or because I am a very queer girl, with a big, conspicuous Adidas backpack, who is itching to settle somewhere and pull out her laptop to write, in the middle of bustling, noisy, market alleys?

Well, too bad. I might be one interesting character that inspires people. Maybe someone else wants to bring their laptop to the creek, but thinks it might look weird. Well, for that person, I hope to be an example. Maybe a normal looking girl, in jeans and a shirt, wants to sit in a narrow alley, and chill. And there might be weird men around. Well, I hope she sees me and I give her the confidence to reclaim masculine spaces. What am I apologetic for? Being alone? Being a girl? Exploring? Having my own adventure and answering to nobody? Breaking societal rules?

I always talk about wanting to do that anyways; living in a manner that isn’t dictated by predetermined norms and conventions. And if I can’t do that in front of a few strangers, well then I most definitely won’t be able be different in front of people I know.

… aaand, now, I need to pee. So I think I may move to another, more chill location.

I thought of slightly giving up and sitting in a cafeteria where I can be comfortable and type at the same time, but that’s normal; I can do that anytime. So I might end up in a slightly uncomfortable spot, and I may have to carry tea there, and I may have to walk a bit and again attract attention and pass people who have noticed me, but too bad. It is my day and my adventure and I am next to the creek so I want to see the water.

So, until I reach that spot!


I went to that spot. Next to the water. But there were weird people there. Shit! I just realized that I had decided I wouldn’t care. God. Well, I could have sat there for a while there, but I didn’t.
As a result, I found a cafeteria in a back alley to settle down into. It is basically a dead end. But now that I am here, suddenly the adjacent table is occupied by a group of guys. It is a little annoying. Haven’t they seen a girl before?

And my peace has kind of been destroyed. But you know what, I am not going to let it; let me shock them a little more.
Why do people affect me so much? I get conscious of strangers and what they will think. Seriously, if they haven’t seen girls around, they should get used to it. And I’m too tired to move again. Hence, no matter how weird they make me feel, I am not going to go.

I just lit a cigarette. And I am not like them to stare and figure out their expressions, so I am not sure what they are thinking. But hopefully I have broken a few stereotypes, and maybe made the world a slightly more accepting place.

Lol, such high hopes. But, it just takes one thought in one mind at a time.

Back to today’s lessons. The most notable experience was sipping on an avocado shake with a newly-found friend, discussing life. I began a conversation with the usual, ‘where are you from?’ Well, he looked Punjabi, so to be precise, I asked,’ are you from Punjab?’

And, as Punjabis get quite excited to connect in a foreign country, a bond was made over our commonalities and an opportunity was born. However, I had to remind myself that I had decided to skip all the small talk, no matter how many trivial similarities existed between my company and me. So, after digging through my brain for the correct Hindi words with much difficulty, I asked him what one piece of life advice he had to offer. His answer: to be honest.

And that was the start to a long discussion.

He told me how honesty leads to success, and that if you dig potholes for others, you will inevitably fall into them yourself.
He discussed the Gurus of Sikhism, and how one must follow God. He spoke of Modi’s new policy eradicating 500 and 1000 rs notes, and how the rich, who earlier didn’t have a penny-or a rupee, my bad-to give to a beggar, were now standing in bank lines, anxious to deposit all their cash. He spoke of a hope that finally things now may be more equal between the rich and the poor.

When I asked him what his son plans on doing, he answered with something that I always thought I believed in, but I suppose haven’t been living. He said, we will see. You never know what will happen in life. You can never trust life. Recently, not far from where we were talking, a signboard fell on a man, abruptly snatching his life away. Similarly, my new friend had lived a normal life in Amritsar, worked there, and had a family. One day, an unexpected opportunity to work in Dubai arose. He never knew, he never planned. Life happens. And you can never trust it.


A great talk to have with a stranger, on a random morning, no? It all comes down to what opportunities you give yourself. Ask real questions instead of engaging in small talk. Don’t stop at, where are you from, and what do you do. After those questions are answered, what next? An awkward silence? And then any chance of getting to know your friend any further is strangled.

Get out of your comfortable bed, in your settled room. It may be comfy. You may not have enough confidence to get out. Where will you go? What will you do? What if you get hungry or tired or need to pee?

Well, I will tell you one thing I learned today. There will be moments when you are exhausted, when you can’t find a decent place to sit, when you feel lost. And you might walk for two hours doing nothing, just searching. But, answer this: how many collective lazy 10-minutes would you waste in your room? How many times do you enter, tired, and just sit down and daydream? Or stare at your phone, utilizing the endless supply of wifi, staring at random snapchats, and scrolling through Instagram? You will be tired in your room too. You will waste as much time in your room too. You might feel lost and restless in your room, too. And at the end of the day, you will go to bed, after going through the same monotonous routine, with nothing learned, and nothing experienced.

Alternately, though, even in the worst case scenario that you hate your excursion, still provides new experiences, new sights, new sounds, new thoughts, new ideas, and new perspectives. And novelty is the nutrient that the human mind and soul requires to grow.

And in the case that you like it? Well, then it’s a win-win, no?

PS. Remember how I was uncomfortable in this cafeteria 40 minutes ago? Well, now I am very settled. I finished my second tea here, im charging my laptop, im resting, and im writing. I broke a few stereotypes, and now I am barely noticing who is passing me, much less what they might be thinking. It is pretty chill. So what’s the conclusion? Give it time. Even if you feel uncomfortable, stay. Persist. Be determined. What seems daunting will soon be a piece of cake.

Oh, and things I learnt:

To be shameless and reenter same restaurants just to pee

To be decisive

To not overthink

To be comfortable in my own skin

To make big talk, every opportunity I get


Notes:

Non-Indians out there: Punjabis are quite boisterous people coming from the state of Punjab

Our Indian Prime Minister, Modi, recently made a change in the financial policy in our country, eradicating certain bills, which caused quite a stir.

link to making ‘big talk’ as opposed to small talk (its a TED talk, that was the driving force of this adventure and made it so much better) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDbxqM4Oy1Y

One step at a time

you may have noticed i haven’t written much.

well, im getting ahead of myself here. that is, if any of you follow this blog :p

if you do, im flattered.

and as you can tell, i am not going anywhere with this.

but the point is, at least i am writing. it’s taken me a lot of effort to open my laptop and click on a new draft. and i don’t have some deep thought to share. all i have is an average girl’s average day.

This morning, I finally awoke to my alarms, and as a result had some breathing time before classes. So I took my tea outside, sipping it while watching the morning sun rise above the campus boundary wall, slowly transforming from an orange glow to a yellow, round form. It was a peaceful start to the day.

good morning
Good morning

Time passed, as it always does, turning the day into a slightly hectic, annoying list of things to do and teachers to talk to and end-of-the-semester assignments to take care of. by time I finished it all, of course i needed my afternoon tea. but that wasn’t enough for the writer in me. it needed some more warmth in a cup to hold on to. so i headed to the newly-opened coffeeshop nearby for some of that lovely peace you get in a cozy cafe, with the quiet murmur of people all minding their own business, together.

that was a good decision.

fire
Desert fire

 

Want to join?
Wanna join?

looks cozy, right?

today was just a day i had to take step by step. Sometimes it is necessary not to think of the past, not to think of the future, and just focus on the moment. And by past and future, i mean literally, five minutes before and five minutes after. I know that today, I can’t. I just want to sit and enjoy my foamy cappucino. it doesnt matter if i just had tea and a muffin half an hour ago.

so here is my deep thought of the day (they always come out in the end, don’t they? :P)

forget about your obligations and your responsibilities, and the logical thing to do. Forget that it is mealtime or study time or sleep time according to the world. Just do what you want, right now. Just take it one step at a time. Not one day, not one hour, not one 5-minutes, but just one step at a time.

and i am glad i got down to writing, as well. it lets out some of the steam, even if it isnt perfect or beautiful or fantastically intelligent. any fellow writers empathize?

 

 

Victims of Advertising and Institutions – what the Shawshank Redemption and the Fight Club say

 

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Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying

(SPOILERS! Anyways, this post will only make sense if you have watched both the movies)

 

What makes these movies so brilliant? (don’t ask me why I haven’t watched them earlier. And yes, it is assumed that everyone thinks they are brilliant; that’s not up for debate.)

Maybe it is the fact that we sit down with popcorn and friends (or alone with cookies, like me… whatever floats your boat) and suddenly we see ourselves on screen—ourselves in that prisoner of twenty years and in that maniac.

 

We are all a little messed up. We all have a Tyler Durden within us. (or is it just me?)

It takes some of us a lifetime and then the deathbed in the hospital to figure out what we want out of life. At least Andy does it in 20 years of confinement.

At the end of it, the prisoner, the insomniac, you, and I all have a simple choice: get busy living or get busy dying.

 

The irony is that although Tyler Durden is MESSED up (I am definitely not promoting him), he is what gets the Jack* to figure out what he wanted to change in his life. He went through an immense pile of foul crap, but in the end he put the dangerous voice in his head to death, and I still doubt he returned to his IKEA condo. Ignore the collateral damage, the dynamite, and the chaos, and the end is a win-win situation.

And that’s what Andy did. In the midst of a different hell, perhaps another form of the condo, he decided to get busy living rather than dying. He prevented himself from getting institutionalized. He hopes for an escape and dreams of a life near the Pacific. And what else does Jack’s job and perfect apartment symbolize? And the guy in the convenience store? Both institutionalized.

To think about it, even Project Mayhem institutionalized those fighters. After all, what does being institutionalized mean?

It’s when you stop using that big oval-shaped goo above your eyes and just decide to let some external collective thought tell you what to do; when your cells start following the instructions of some other leader, and your body starts obeying a master other than you.

Exactly what you want, right?

But what do we do? Don’t we watch Andy build that library in prison from scratch, and think “woah, amazing that he was able to do that in prison” or admire him as he procures beers for his friends and then wonder why we can never be as clever? And what do we feel, during our institutionalized movie nights, eyes glued upon the bright screens, when we slowly begin to comprehend the brilliance of his escape plan and begin to swallow the amount of persistence it would have taken him to act upon it? Just transient admiration; nothing strong enough to make us get out of our own institutions. But if Andy was institutionalized, he would have just sat in his prison cell, stared at the posters on his prison wall, and lamented his prison life.

So get busy living.

And escape that institution.

 

*unnamed protagonist

 

** PS: The image is copyrighted, created, thought of, and everything else by me. Please do not steal. I know you won’t because you are all nice people.

a confused grammarless exhalation from a befuddled soul

(warning: not for the settled, wise, and clear-minded)

What is life about?
These days, past weeks make up a different phase of my life. It is a phase full of questions, confusion, and thoughts, all further distracted and guided by paralyzing feelings: some heart-wrenching, others brain-deadening, and many of them dizzying.

Feelings, thoughts, desperation, contentment. So many paradoxes and yet all juxtaposed within this overwhelming phase.

i have a lot i want to write about. i have a lot i want to think and question and discuss. i have a lot of conclusions i have made that i want to write and remember.

but for now, i want to just let the unplanned words flow out and let my fingertips dance to the music these words are trying to create.

and hence, i beg your pardon for my lack of punctuation and capitalization. i apologize for maybe not having a direct and clear point. but right now, it is about being organic. i am writing directly on the post, rather than first on a word document and then transferring. i am not writing for anybody. i am not writing for any ultimate purpose. i am just writing.

and maybe that is one of the many conclusions i have come to (of course, with the help of others). why try to always have a point? lists, achievements, things done, topics covered, progress towards a goal. that is all wonderful. ‘how to be successful’ ‘8 ways to ____’ ‘3 reasons why you should _____’. Those are lovely bits of advice. and i can’t say anything about them because i myself have used so much similar advice from various blogs. but sometimes, one more post about ‘how to deal with stress’ or ‘how to be calm’ will just add more items onto the list of what i should be doing and how i should be living life.

instead, i need to just figure out what i feel, to know what i want, at every moment. without that, how can i do what i want? right now, it is to post this post with no meaning, no previous thought, and no hesitation. so, here it goes!

(if you read this and have no idea what i am getting to, im sorry. perhaps you are very in-tune with yourself. if you prefer structure and punctuation, again, i’m sorry. pardon this girl with a fuzzy head full of tangled thoughts who can only envy you. the next post will probably have more structure, so hang on 😛 )

Back to the Basics

Back to the basics

 

I’ve been so caught up lately. I can’t stop and enjoy it.

In college, there is always something on my to-do list. Hence in my free time, I stress. And the small wonderful things start losing their charm. The sun, coffee in bed, tea, good music, it all becomes part of my required ‘chill’ time.

And when things don’t go according to my planned chill time, I get annoyed. I’ve mentally visualized my time that if anything or anyone disturbs it, it unsettles me. And from that moment, it goes from a pleasurable thing, to an unpleasant one.

 

Finally, this morning, I woke, and I decided there is no point waiting for external things to let me down. I am going to make the most of my situation (which is staying in a fancy hotel with my sister. The problem, though, is that her friends are over and they are all fast asleep. But I woke up and I want to take this opportunity to make my morning a little happy.

So here I am. Cinnamon latte, folk tunes in my ears, laptop and sketchbook with me. Back to the basics of summer. How I used to retreat to a café so often to sip on some form of caffeine and sit with my thoughts or sketch. And how I used to be content. I would listen to the music playing in my ear and just that would lift my spirits and spark a positivity in my blood vessels. So why not now? Back to the basics.

 

And if the rest of the day doesn’t go my way, or even my time right now gets interrupted, it is ok. After all, it is just a small thing, having coffee with myself. It is a paradox. We should slow down to enjoy these small acts that can make us happy. Joy is found in paying attention to the small moments. Yet, we shouldn’t forget that at the end of the day, it is a small thing. And if it is disturbed, we can’t let us affect it negatively.

 

And where can you start? Look at the shadows the sun makes. Listen to music on headphones. Stretch. Take a deep breathe. And the rest? That’s up to you.

 

–Ironically, as I post this, Youtube decided to play a song called “Let’s be still.” Thing’s just fall into place, don’t they?

When there is too much on your plate.. and you want it all

Sometimes life is overwhelming.

You put too much on your plate because you don’t know how to say no. That used to be me.

But now, I am okay with saying no if I want. Time, experience, and a little maturity (at least that’s what I hope) has made me a little firmer, a little meaner, and a little stronger.

That is fabulous, but what about the 90% of times that I don’t know what I myself want?

It’s funny. All these people and articles say, don’t waste time doing things you don’t enjoy; spend your time doing what you love. I couldn’t agree more. But, what if I fall in love with one of the items on my to-do list? Right now it glares at me from the yellow sticky note like another assignment I have to tackle, stressing me out. But what if when I give it a chance  it becomes something I start enjoying?

So with that thought, I’ll add that item onto my plate. And the other tempting club. Oh, and what about that project? It might turn out to be delicious.  And the other curious looking organization that doesn’t look so appealing, but hey, I’ve heard it tastes amazing once you develop a taste for it. And that dessert… so what if I hate mousse, as long as it is chocolate, I’ll take it even though it might give me a stomach ache.

And all of a sudden, I have a plate that is overflowing with a mountain of things to work on. By the time I try half of it I am so tired that I can’t do anything more, or I don’t succeed in finding anything I actually enjoy–which even if I did, I am so saturated with all the commitments that I can’t be dedicated to that one item. You know when you taste everything in a buffet to find out what you really want to eat, and you are stuffed before you get the chance to finally eat what you liked best? (That happens to everyone, right?)

And that’s what my life is like currently. I think I might have too much on my plate. And yet, there are still a couple of things that I have kept in the pipeline and am just about to add as well. So how do I decide what to remove and what to keep? Why aren’t there enough hours in the day? How can I remove something that holds promise, without giving it a chance?

And that, dear readers, is the problem of the indecisive creature, both in terms of life and food.

A Pursuit of Restlesness (with a hopefully happy ending)

Day before, I broke down.

I was made to come to terms with the unpleasant fact that a constant restlessness was taking over my life. My desire to “do stuff” and “figure it out” and be productive and find my passion had evolved into a negative force in my life.

It came out when someone pointed out the fact that even spending time with them had become almost like a ‘to do’ item—something I checked off in my head before rushing off to the next thing.

That stung. Not because they felt they were an item on my checklist. (Don’t get me wrong; that was bad too). It stung because when I ultimately let down the defensive barrier that fortified after hearing this, I realized that perhaps there was some truth in the statement. I was starting to think like that. The worst part was that this ‘to-do’ item is not something that was forced upon me or that I don’t enjoy, but is something that motivates me, brings meaning to my life, colors my days, and is the one thing I actually might have ‘figured out’.
 

This realization stung more when I looked up with eyes opened to the biting reality that I wasn’t in a good place, just to find myself staring at dead-end. One option was that I could just give up on everything; give up on trying to do something different with myself, give up on becoming someone I want to be, and give up on trying to live rather than exist and snapchat my life away. That would ease the restlessness that reigned in my mind, pushing me to do the next thing, not giving me a moment in my day to breathe. Yes, that would free me from the pressure I had put on myself. But, was it even possible for me to do that? Three days later, I am still not sure. I don’t know if giving up had its own separate set of fears and repulsive characteristics that prevented me from embarking on that path, or if perhaps deep down in my bones one can find a different material that is made for living, not just functioning. I would like to believe the latter, of course. I’d like to believe that my name lies written in sand somewhere amongst those destined to do something different.

 

But regardless, no matter how magical or unmagical my desire to evade the norm was, I was stuck. That’s when I received some advice: just try to do what I want. Not what I know I want, so I force it on myself. But what I want, when I want. If I keep pushing harder to do what I know I enjoy, it will become work. And we don’t like words with negative connotations.

I had made the mistake of trying to fit all my hobbies into a packed daily schedule which stressed me out rather than let me enjoy myself. It had become a tireless search for contentment, with the pressure numbing my senses to the joy I used to receive doing things for myself.

But how do I change this? If I don’t push myself, I might be lazy. I might just end up wasting time, procrastinating, and not getting anywhere. I was, and am, afraid of this. How can I just let things happen? What if they don’t? And then I will be stuck, because I don’t have time. I need to figure something out by this year.

As I type these sentences, though, I realize how wrong I am. When does anything good come out of life when it is not organic? Be it love, friendship, the realization of a dream. It is all the truest and purest when it just happens. So why was I trying?

It is a funny thing about pressure. Remember the Devil’s Snare in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? The more you push and struggle against it, the tighter its grip gets. Just relax, follow your instincts, and you will glide through. (I promise you it is normal to make a connection between figuring life out to the Devil’s Snare).

 

 

And, it worked. After three continuous days of tests, with three out of six on the last day itself, I was brain dead, body-dead, and just exhausted. Yet, I felt like painting. I felt a freedom because all my tasks that had consumed me the past weekend had been completed, and now I had nothing planned with regard to studying. So, I was free. And in that freedom, something told me to just paint. So I followed my gut, took out paints, I was content. There are those moments, and then there are days when I am perfectly well-rested but I am too lazy to even tell myself I want to sit down on the desk, get water, get out my watercolor paper, take out the paints, and create something. It has become something I avoid, because I made it work to myself, saying, “Tanvi, from 4-6 I should paint. Why? Because I like it and I need to see if it’s my main passion and if I want to pursue it.” Boom. In a second the magic of creativity becomes a to-do item, and with it dies all the pleasure and hope of actually finding yourself.

 

So, I’m going to try to be in tune with what I want to do… more of what I feel rather than what I assign myself to feel. Let’s see where this takes me.