NATURE IS MY MULTIPLEX

I’ve rediscovered the cardinal nature of “nature”, thanks to my recent trip to an island.

Nature would never leave you bored. It’s like a television minus the electricity bills and set-top box recharges. Can any T.V show beat the scene of a feral puppy following its mother around? Can any car chase scene be as thrilling as watching a lizard hungrily waiting for the moth around the light to come nearer so that it could grab it by its tongue? Is the fictional hero killing the villain more satisfying than watching that spider on the wall suck the life out of the cockroach that had been scaring the daylights out of you?

Probably not. At least for me.

Sometimes I’m so enchanted by the beauty of nature that I forget about my favorite movie I had set a reminder for. Given a chance, I would spend my birthday under the stars over the grass, eating plain old rice with curry, rather than at a fancy restaurant ordering drab dishes. Mother Nature has so much to offer that it would put any means of entertainment to shame.

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Despite being a nature-lover, I never completely understood its profound charm until recently. Every single flora that grew in the habitat was a sight to behold. The nature looked like it was celebrating the festival of colours with all the hues speckled above and below. The sky looked like a palette filled with a variety of colours. Black and grey topped with blue and green with a hint of orange and pink. Vast strips of clouds spread over like gigantic half-eaten cotton candies.

As dusk gave way to dark, the argent moon brightly illuminated the almost fading clouds around it and brought them back into the spotlight. The sea appeared dark and dangerous. But also calm and seductive especially with the vacant swing hung over the shore where the water was knee-deep. I didn’t heed the no’s from my folks as I waded my way towards the wooden plank between the poles. Nature is calling! And when nature calls, we must honour it, as cited by Agapi Stassinopoulos, Huffingtonpost (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/agapi-stassinopoulos/nature-calls_b_3860443.html), although she meant that in a totally different context.

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Of course, there were no crocodiles or sharks on the prowl. It was a perfectly safe area or they wouldn’t be having a swing inviting people into the shallows. Ignoring my family’s protests, I waddled into the sea and hopped onto the swing. The view in front rendered me speechless.

Sparkling lights of the skyline, accentuating the beautiful city of Doha; stars showing off their effulgence, rivaling the city lights; warm waves lashing at my feet contrasting the cool air whipping around my body—if this is not paradise then I don’t know what is.

I leaned onto the rope suspension with a gratifying sigh as my eyes watered in bliss. I wished I could build a little hut just by the swing and catch fish for food and sea jellies for recreation. At that moment, I felt detached yet very much in companionship. The sound of the swishing waves was like music to my ears and no Adele or Beyoncé could compete with that.

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My musings were cut short by the blaring sound of the boat horn near the island entrance. It was time for us to leave. For me to part with the allure.

I reluctantly left the island but took back something valuable with me—a reminder. A reminder about our ignorance for snubbing the nature, which holds unparalleled beauties and scenes. It also contains hidden messages that make us think of our place in cosmos. For example, an armada of ants carrying a dead dragonfly demonstrates the importance of hard work and teamwork. Sun emerging from its hiding, after a storm, shows us that darkness is temporary.

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THE THING ABOUT PARENTAL LOVE

Parents are gifts that should be treasured like priceless gems despite the mildly abrasive edges.

I’m gonna break off my Thursday routine this week.

On the occasion of Mother’s day, I’m writing the second blog post in “The Thing About” series. But it’s not going to be just about Mother.

Parents. Every one of us must have gone through or will go through the phase when we believe that parents make our lives a living hell and we would be better off without them. Then, comes a phase when we regret the lost moments and bruised hearts. Wouldn’t we give anything to reverse the time and mend the broken bridges? Fix the cracked bonds?

I’m sure we all must have hurt our parents at some point in time because each one of us inevitably goes through that diabolical phase. Would a simple sorry after all these years set right the damage? No. But it does give us some closure and would certainly convey to our parents that we didn’t mean what we did. Throw the blame on our hot tempers and raging hormones.

Now, we’re . . . well, I am ready to put up with my parents’ antics because they’ve endured worse. They could act like six-year-old kids, order me to hand them the glass of water that was within their hand’s reach, take control of the T.V remote and mess up with the order of my place. I would gladly embrace it all despite being slightly irked. I might whine a little bit just like they did when I was a child but they are my babies, aren’t they?

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When my father does something annoying, my mom would say, ‘It’s not easy to handle your dad. He’s high-maintenance. It’s better if we visit you for less number of days.’

Every time she says that I want to explain, ‘You’ve seen worse from me. This is like a walk in the park when compared to what you guys have tolerated. So, don’t ever think of yourselves as a burden. You’re my gifts from God. So, what would anyone do with gifts? They would treasure them like priceless gems despite the mildly abrasive edges.’

Yann Martel, in his novel, “Life of Pi”, aptly describes father as a tree trunk that supports its branches and mother as the sun above us. I was so enamored by those few sentences that I ended up falling deeply in love with the whole book and it remains my favourite till date. Those sentences made my eyes water. Those sentences made my heart heavy. Those sentences filled me with the fear of . . . can’t even say it. “Pi” survived the loss. But I probably can’t and won’t.

I love my parents fiercely and limitlessly. I accept their virtues and welcome their mistakes because they are the only people in this world who aren’t selfish for their own sake. They’re selfish for their children to flourish and prosper and hence, sometimes end up criticizing our choices, which they perceive to be wrong.

It’s our responsibility to take them in our stride and understand the thing about parental love.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.

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MY HUSBAND IS A COUCH POTATO

Do anything to make yourself useful instead of causing people to believe that your very existence is a burden.

Honestly, when my best friend said those words out loud, I resisted the urge to blurt out, ‘Ah, he’s my soulmate’, because she might take it the wrong way. But he truly seemed like my reflection in that respect because I’m the queen of couch potatoes.

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When she described how “couch potatoey” he was then I began to realise how torturous it is to have a slug for a partner.

Living in the states has its pros and cons. Cons could be subtracted if one has a helpful friend or partner. But not everyone is fortunate because luck is like a lottery. It endows probably one in a million and I am a million feet away from its reach. But the relationship between luck and me is a whole new blog post. So, I won’t digress and keep within the topic.

My friend and I decide to meet for lunch. The jobless soul that I am, I show up at the restaurant earlier than the agreed upon time. One hour passes, still no sign of her. The waiter gives me apprehensive looks as if I were a thief who might steal the tables and chairs at the restaurant because what else could I lay my hands on? The food items in the securely locked glass display?

When I was about to leave, she enters through the door, her face a vision of exhaustion.

‘Hey, sorry, I can explain,’ she says as she takes a seat.

‘Let’s order first. The waiter might call the police any minute,’ I hurried her.

The waiter took the order with wary looks, which I ignored.

‘I can’t do this anymore,’ my friend says, shaking her head in hopelessness.

‘What’s the matter?’

‘My husband is a couch potato.’

Uh, so? I am too. And I love being a couch potato despite the fact that being so would kill me thirty years early.

Of course, I didn’t say those words in the fear of appearing like the biggest jerk.

‘I can’t do this, man. All he does is sit on the sofa and watch T. V for hours altogether. Sometimes, even days. I don’t even get to rest for a while because someone should clean up after him, right? Or else, the house would be a jungle and we would be dead. Because who would cook? Who would do the laundry and dishes? Who would clear the garbage? God, this is impossible. If you add kids to the mixture after a year or two, then maybe I would turn into vapour due to the burnout.’

After the long monologue by her, I realised how disgusting it is to be a couch potato because the person who’s cleaning up after you is basically being your slave. In this case, it’s my friend; in my case, it’s my mom.

When your wife does the cooking, you do the dishes; when your mom vacuums the house, you mop it; when your father drives you around, you clean the car; when your partner does the laundry, you do the folding.

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Do anything to make yourself useful instead of causing people to believe that your very existence is a burden.

I will start by disposing of the mountainous pile of pizza boxes in my room. Oh my God! Is that a cockroach in there? Sheesh!!!

WHEN I GO SHOPPING

When I go shopping, time moves like a bullet; my feet develop a superhuman ability and my vision extends beyond the usual periphery by spotting the gorgeous raiments a hundred racks away. I, who whines and complains when my dad parks the vehicle merely a few feet away from the destination, can walk miles when thrown in a shopping mall; and my patience doesn’t wane even if I step out with empty hands.

I’m not exactly a shopaholic because I don’t fit the definition. I’m not a “compulsive shopper” per se. But when I enter a plaza, my heart flutters the same way it does when I see my favorite actor on screen. And when I see all the trendy outfits on display, my eyes blur for a second in ecstasy. That doesn’t mean I become blind when I’m viewing the price tag.

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So, it’s like this. If 6000 bucks for an outfit is considered to be super-expensive generally, then at that instant, when I’m holding that striking, plush ensemble in my hands, there would be a momentary lapse of judgement. My eyes project a wrong image to my brain. It either reverses the digits or convinces my brain that the 2000 bucks with which I could otherwise get a fancy haircut, showy cellphone case and sumptuous meal at an overpriced restaurant, could all be put into that plain dress, whose only appeal was the peplum waist and the brand name.

Totally worth it, my dope of a brain says. Yet another step towards pauperdom, my inner, intelligent self says from the cavernous depths of my hollow mind where I had dumped it due to its wise interventions.

So by the end of the shopping trip, my wallet would be empty, credit card limit reached and mind temporarily at peace for scoring the perfect dress. The unfortunate salesperson probably stays overnight to put all the gazillion pieces of clothing I’ve tried, in place.

Then a strange sense of insecurity descends over me.

Why didn’t anyone opt for this dress before me? 

Why are there so many pieces of the dress available as if they’ve been desperately waiting to be bought by some idiot?

If a dress is really, genuinely gorgeous, then shouldn’t the pieces be sold? They almost look untouched.

Did I make a mistake buying this?

Should I have brought that bejeweled jacket instead? It looks shinier. 

Should I exchange this? 

Maybe I should.  

Yes, I should. 

I return to the mall next day and the salesperson’s face falls at the sight of me.

God, help me because I might someday be murdered by him.

THE THING ABOUT NEVER GIVING UP

This post is going to be the first in “The thing about” series. I’m trying to be inspirational with this series so please bear with me.

Well, here I am prepared to be all preachy about hard work, determination, and faith. And what am I doing right now? Lazing on the couch with the laptop over my chest and a bowl of ice cream over the table while I’m supposed to work out to lose the million pounds I’ve gained in the past few months, and finish the assignment to gain the degree I’ve applied for last year. God, I’m such a klutz.

But, you know what? I have a quality which even I’m envious of sometimes. That doesn’t make sense at all but anyway, that quality is – perseverance. I might put off finishing a task at the moment, I might get sidetracked while doing something important or I might even stop doing what I’m doing, on purpose. But if I say to myself that “I have to do this”, then I WILL do it. No doubt about that. If there’s a deadline, then I’ll meet it. If there isn’t, then I’ll go on till I’m dead.

Here’s the thing about not giving up. So, you want to reach a spot. Getting to that spot is, for you, the most important objective of your life. You walk in that direction. Obviously, the distance between you and the spot gets shorter. But you don’t know that since you don’t have a map. You just know that you need to walk straight till you arrive at the destination.

If you stop midway and throw in the towel, then you would be left hanging there not knowing whether to go back or stay put. WHEN IN DOUBT, ALWAYS GO FORWARD. You could be two steps away from the destination for all we know. And there’s nothing worse than packing it in when you’re so close to winning it all.

When you picture the possible superb outcome of your struggles and hard work, you would challenge life to hand you more in your way because it makes your achievements all the more sweeter.

Which would make you happier? A basket of chocolates gifted to you on your birthday or a piece of paper certifying your win in a quiz competition?

The result of hard work is always, always, always gratifying. Without the hope in my fate and faith in my determination, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. I’ve been working on reaching the “spot” for about nine years now . . . and still counting. But I won’t stop because who knows?pexels-photo.jpg

WORLD WITHOUT SMARTPHONES

World without smartphones would be civil, gracious and perhaps more tangible. I could actually kiss a person as opposed to sending him/her a “Face throwing a kiss” emoticon.

Gone were the days when we would discuss a meeting place with friends over a simple, basic phone and travel miles of distance to gather there for a plate of pani puri or pav bhaji, since it has gotten so much easier with chat groups and video calling.

Imagine a world without smartphones, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram . . . Imagine a world where you could meet people in flesh instead of online. Imagine a world where you could focus on eating rather than clicking pretty pictures of the food on the table. Imagine a world where people don’t disregard etiquette for Facebook updates and whatsapp status. In short, imagine a world where people would freaking heed you instead of snubbing you for that piece of shitty electronic gadget.

So, here I am at a cafe meeting up with an old friend of mine, on her insistence. Honestly, I have better things to do—like watching T.V, lazing over my bed or snooping over neighbours (kidding!). But I came here out of benevolence because I’m a courteous girl, who values people more than objects.

The girl, let’s call her Ms. Snub, because she did just that. SNUBBED ME!!! Ms. Snub arrives wearing a crop top, flaunting her washboard abs, and ripped jeans. She throws come-hither looks at anyone who notices, even the waiter. I begin to get a feeling that she called me to show off her transformation from a flabby teenager to a sexy woman.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t annoyed by any of that. We exchanged pleasantries, ordered our lattes and I started speaking with her body. Yes, that’s right. Her body. Because her mind was elsewhere and her eyes were over the screen of her smartphone. I thought my voice would stir her but nah. She didn’t so much as bat her eyelashes and I wondered if she was playing the game of Statues.

‘I think the latte’s getting cold,’ I said finally and that managed to gain her attention. Not me but the latte got her to channel her eyes back at me.

‘Oops! So, what’re you doing these days?’ she said as she guzzled down the now cold coffee in one gulp.

‘Uh, I am taking these classes on . . .’ and her focus was back to the gizmo.

Listen, you little snobby moron! I came here on your bidding. I came here for a chat not to gush over your intense makeover if that’s what you’re expecting from me. So heed me or I’m gonna rip that head off your Barbie doll neck.

Oh, that was just me fantasising. It was too tempting to put it into action but no. Because I’m plagued by this disease called manners.

So, I simply and as genteelly as possible say, ‘Um, hey, Snub, why don’t you and your phone bugger off while I go and do something useful.’

Hey, I said I’m plagued by a disease called manners, not tolerance.

Anyway, it makes me wonder why people think it’s okay to engage themselves in virtual conversations when there’s a person you could have a real conversation with sitting right in front of you, flailing their hands to catch your eye. Why?

It’s super offensive and borderline derogatory. But how do we deal with this madness?

I just wish I could arrange a worldwide intervention and holler at all the frenzied smartphone addicts saying, ‘Heya’ll! So here’s a tidbit. The person you are shunning right now, the one seated beside you, you’d take that place if you keep doing this. Imagine that!’

I agree that we need to keep in touch with our family, friends, and relatives who are not close by. But not at the cost of the person living with us or the one who comes just to see us. It doesn’t look pretty to see your partner pacing all around with a mobile in his hand and fingers always on the move over the screen.

Without smartphones, life might become tedious, monotonous and possibly create distance between people. But, at least it would give us undivided attention and I don’t think I’m being selfish in that respect. I’m certainly not an anti-smartphone evangelist but I do follow the protocol of “eyes on the face” when someone’s conversing with me or vice versa. And I believe it’s not unfair to expect the same.

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WHAT PROCRASTINATION DOES TO ME

Procrastination is more like a frenemy rather than just a foe because it’s so enticing that we run into its ever-open arms and stay there till it crushes us in its embrace.

Do you know who or what my biggest enemy is?

Nope, it’s not my past schoolmate who made fun of my single digit score in a math exam. It’s not the bunch of boys who bullied me and ruined my adolescence. And it’s certainly not the writer of the mushy soap opera that has been on the run for the past 15 years.

Oh, they’re my enemies, all right. But just not the biggest and the worst.

My biggest enemy is (drum-roll) (whistles) (claps) – PROCRASTINATION.

And let me explain the kind of upheaval it inflicts upon me.

I sit down to continue working on my diploma project, whose deadline is a few days away and boom! I notice that my nail polish has chipped a little. I shut the laptop down and run to get my paraphernalia because a chipped nail polish is like a manmade disaster. Worse than a nuclear explosion! I spend the next one hour trimming my nails, shaping them, colouring them with multiple coats, drying them with my breath when I have the option of simply switching on the fan and finally daubing it with a glossy topcoat.

Heaving a sigh of relief, I bask in the glory of my polished fingernails for another twenty minutes and click innumerable selfies.

The laptop calls me, ‘You’re going to fail buddy. You still have 10,000 more words to finish.’

Reluctantly, I lie on my back with the device on my chest and start typing away furiously.

Ten words into it, my eyes move on to the whitewashed wall ahead of me. What’s that? How did that one-millimeter scratch get over there? The wall was painted last month!

I run towards the wall and mope over the tiny, almost-invisible mark. Then I vow revenge over the culprit and keep staring at it blankly, reminiscing my days as a child in this particular room. How I used to paint flowers over the surface, rub my dirty hands across, take a beating from my parents for using it as a blackboard . . . wall and me have come a long way. Our relationship has been very intimate and now there’s a scratch on it.

‘Shilpa!’ laptop yelled. ‘Just look at the scribbling in the corner, you pig! That was your doing too and you’re worrying about a non-existent spot. Get over here!’

I sit down like an obedient student and set my target for 2000 words. Then instead of working on meeting the target, I pick up my notepad and prepare a minute-by-minute schedule.

Basically, even a mundane, boring task like folding the laundry seems like an exciting one—more stimulating than, say, hiking or skydiving—when compared to the urgent task in hand.

So naturally, before I know, the day’s over and I hit the hay by ten at night as opposed to my usual time, midnight.

I’m so gonna fail.

Procrastination is more like a frenemy rather than just a foe because it’s so enticing that we run into its ever-open arms and stay there till it crushes us in its embrace.

Willpower is the only way we can evade the bitch that’s out to get us and I’m working on it unsuccessfully. But hey, I’m trying.

The only bright side that ever came from procrastination was I found an effective homemade treatment for dandruff, realized that hickeys could be fatal and discovered a mole on my nape.

Nevertheless, I think I deserve kudos for making the most out of the lost time and probable failure.

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WHY?

Well, here it is! A blog of my own! Where I could moan . . . about the shit in my life. Shit includes both good and bad because I do see the bright side in dreadful circumstances too lest I lose my beauty sleep. For example, my ear piercing has been oozing pus for about ten days now. But it’s not painful and that’s a good thing, right? Right?

Now, I’m gonna pretend that I’m not panicking about a possible ear infection and peacefully go to bed.

I’m not here to use my blog as a vent-machine. I’m here to scream my lungs out about my issues, share them with you guys and try to get the unattainable closure.

Thank you in advance for taking the plunge and reading my stuff!