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Thursday, August 27, 2020

The First Step.

In this world of artificial intelligence, where the internet browser and devices know more about me than my family does, there are few algorithms that over perform very much to my annoyance. When I login to any of the social media websites, (I really wish I dint, it is just another self-destructive habit that I have) I am often prompted to add people I don’t remember under a tag titled ‘people you may know’.

The mental peace and happiness I had before I logged in seeps through my ears and disappears into thin air.

Honestly, being an introvert by character and an extrovert virtually, I wish my social media was smart enough to understand that I am not looking forward to add to my troubles. I also don’t want to be reminded of people I may know, but honestly don’t remember and I don’t want social media to tell me that my memory failed me. Secondly, going by this impromptu prompt, someone would have fallen into the algorithmic trap and sent me a friend request, which in turn puts pressure on me to find out who this person is. If I reject someone I don’t know, and going by how 2020 has been rolling so far, it could be an acquaintance of either of my parents or even a distant relative I haven’t seen since kindergarten. This is a very dangerous situation because some people take social media friend requests very seriously like their existence depended on it.

Basically all of this matters only if you care about consequences and what other people think. I can swear on my forefathers that I don’t care but I may care a little bit (sorry, forefathers.). We all have to reach that stage in our lives that our relationships are defined by real human connections and not by what we did on social media. Every day, I am trying to reduce a little bit of that self-destructive habit. One step at a time!

I cared too much at one point in time and this pushed me mercilessly to rock bottom. But rock bottom is not too bad, you people! This is exactly the place one reaches to learn that it cant get any worse and that it is high time to change (there is no other option, really).

I started my workout journey from there, exactly a year ago. It turned my life around. I care lesser about things that don’t matter, I slept better and longer, and it improved my mental and physical health in many ways! I was consistent and reached a point wherein I felt bad if I dint find time to do it. I walked by the beach side initially, later used the gym for a few weeks when I couldn’t manage to drive to the beach. The gym, however, feels like another office with walls, air conditioners, digital displays and graphs. It feels like slogging for appraisal. When I walk outdoors, the fresh air, street cats, birds, cars, familiar people who wave…everything about it feels blissful and liberating. 

I am thankful to myself for taking that first step.I pat myself on my shoulder for every single day I was weary, low, blue, stressed or even in tears but pushed myself to go out to walk. It was very hard, but I did it!

There is always that first step you should take, amidst all odds, and keep up at it. To update the resume, to start working out, to sleep earlier than you do now, to cut off that toxic habit, whatever it may be.

That first step. Do it today.


Monday, August 17, 2020

Corona Diaries: Published on Black and White Magazine, Oman.


“So, how are you coping?”

How do we answer this question in a lockdown?

I don’t think there would be anyone with five years of experience in effective handling of lockdown situation, multitasking between work, children, bosses, home and all of it while staying sane. Even the Indian aunty who seems to know everything did not live through a pandemic before, to bestow upon us her pearls of wisdom on how to survive it and be productive at the same time. However, there are experts out there, who still manage to advice everyone around, on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (lockdown version).

So, the best answer to that question would be, to look at the sky and sigh aloud.

There are some silent sufferers we aren’t talking about. Children. They have been deprived of friends, play grounds, malls and beaches. All of a sudden their childhood was ripped off and are confined within four walls with teachers and grandparents meeting them only virtually. They have been subjected to an unusual load of intense drama, stressed out parents and absolutely no friends to mingle with. In the month of March 2020, their world suddenly came crashing down, and were expected to follow a new set of rules, the fun factor completely wiped out of their lives. The rules have been more stringent towards children as have been banned from supermarkets and shops too.

However this time around, we the parents, cannot deliver the golden punchline that was handed down to us from every generation that ever lived. “When I was your age, I was so systematic during lockdown….” Well? I don’t think so. When we were children, we had other stuff to deal with, and none of that even remotely came close to surviving months on end without friends. Here I am, juggling between a full time job, a kid who is turning anti-social and the spouse who is conveniently using noise cancellation headsets.

Nagging him to wash his hands, hushing him while I am attending a call, refusing to play with him when he requests…you name it, I plead guilty to have done it. Later I top up the day with popcorn and Netflix because hey, offering bribes comes naturally to parents.

COVID not only wreaked havoc on the economy and global health, but also it is eating into the lives of our children who have conveniently planted themselves permanently on the sofa with a bag of chips. As adults, we are helpless as we don’t have a choice and are forced to watch them glued to laptops and television, verbally armed with ‘then YOU tell me what to do!” as a standard response to anything that is spoken.

I wish I could go back in time when my kid could play outside whenever he wanted. The uniforms, school bags, and the long hours I used to spend covering his books with brown paper, after which I wore a neck support for two days and blamed the education system that gave so much work to the parents! I want to go back to the times when I used to drag him from the playground at 8 pm for dinner and his friends would look at me as though I am a kidnapper. The days I listened to all the fights and laughs he had with his friends at school.

Never did anyone foresee, that there would come a day when everything we took for granted would turn into something that we’d desperately long for.


 Originally Published in The Black and White Magazine.

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