The things we don’t say.

“Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say.” – Mitch Albom

True isn’t it? Or rather, “Things we don’t get to say”.

I have written & deleted more blog posts in between the last post & this one than ever before. Perhaps I was failing to realize what more those posts needed. Or maybe I knew but refused to accept it.

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I came across this quote & it set me thinking. It does effect my sanity to a level, when I have been silent for a while. And this silence is not the silence of the larynx. It is more like the silence of the mind. It stems not from not thinking but from thinking too much and then exhausting the thinking strength.

The haunting feeling shouldn’t be there. You could write.  But if you write to express, you would know it doesn’t work like that. You would know that there are a few conversations that need to happen between people, not visual editors of wordpress blogs :) . And problem arises not when there are no people with whom you can have those mind boggling conversations where great works of wisdom get transferred; but when the very few people with whom you can have those endearing conversations – make one way, incomplete conversations.

Incomplete conversations. That are left midway. Without so much as thinking that the other party to the conversation had to say something valuable. These are one sided conversations. Someone comes, talks, says a customary ‘Good bye’ & before you know it – it is over. It is true that sometimes people just want someone to listen to them, at the end of a grueling, exhausting day. But you know, if you are the one doing all the talking, maybe you should also remember that the one listening to you, might also have stuff to share with you.

And, if by any chance, the two of you are best friends, then it becomes a responsibility to let the other person have their say. If you cannot lend a ear everytime, you should at least, try to figure out the wrong times to ‘not lend a listening ear’. Because when communication becomes repeatedly one sided due to prolonged, one sided listening (done by the other person), that’s when ‘the things that we don’t say start haunting us’ thing happens. And sadly, not everything can be blogged / written and deleted / torn just to vent. Sometimes, people are crucial for conversations. And the right people (read : the only people we want to have the good conversations with). And conversations are things that keep every relationship going. Next time you wonder what’s wrong with that best friend who always used to listen to you; think. Did you make one sided, incomplete conversations, for too long a time? Probably yes.

No wonder I hate incomplete conversations, especially when they come from people who are very important to me. And more especially, when they keep coming.

You may not always get to do much about it, while being at the receiving end. Because it soon starts haunting. Because there are things you do not blog about. There are things you do not write and scratch. There are things that you cannot keep in your head for long. There are things – that you need to say. Out loud.

I wonder why conversations are so important for us. They keep us sane. They keep ghosts away from our mind. And most of these ghosts are very very stupid. Mitch Albom is very very right. Never let unsaid things nag you. They cause the worst kind of inertia. The inertia of silence.

“All that Matters” – INK 2013

There is so much I wanted to write about, when I thought that I HAVE TO write about my experience at INK 2013, Kochi. But now that I sit to do it, nothing comes to me.

Or, to be honest, so many things come back hurtling – that I cannot decide which part of it moved me most. Not to mention the beautiful town of Kochi & the amazing people who live there. (Btw – Did you know? Kochi (Dist – Ernakulum) has 100% literacy rate? Brilliant. Ain’t it?)

Whether it was the fact that I actually got to be a part of the Social Media team & live tweet the conference, or how grateful I am to Vaibhav (Social Media, INK) for making it all much easier for me, or how much fun it was to live through all the mayhem & chaos backstage because the beautiful show that we put up at the end of the day made it all worth it, or how awesome it was to meet old friends from last year’s INK & relive memories & make new ones, or how I met some wonderful new people who are going to be a part of my life for coming many days (Kayalyn aka Kalyani, that’s for you!), or how I realize how there are miles to travel & lots to learn before I come somewhere even close to the sheer awesomeness that emanated from each INK Speaker & Fellow.

Having had the opportunity to sit through the whole conference, I heard people who have aced their respective fields. And all I take back is – be it Art, Science, Education, Innovation, Literature, Social Work, any field; the only thing that matters in the end is – You & your heart’s calling. We had Blind Educationists, 17 year old artists, Graphic Designers, Tea Sommeliers, Musicians, Film Makers, War Photographers, Water watchers, Space scientists, Innovators and many more; all bound together by their passion for life & courage to step on to the ‘Road Less Traveled’.

While closing INK 2013, Lakshmi (Host & Curator) said something I knew always (I think we all know what’s best for us most of the times) but often used to ignore. (I bring you the gist. Was a bit short of hands to be taking notes :P ). She said – It is also important to be like the fallen flower, to not know things, to not be sure yet keep following the path. It is sometimes important to lend a deaf ear to your critics & admirers alike & only believe in what you truly believe. And then go do it.

INK. Helped me find ‘What Matters’ to me.

INK 2013

The stage at INK 2013 : ‘All that Matters’

“We may not always be good, bad or nice. But if we do what we believe, we will all find what matters to us.” … and perhaps, that’s what matters most. Finding what matters to you most.

 

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Which Sadness is Sadder

Is something I can never decide upon…

I am someone who gets all sentimental during movies and books. I cried while reading the ‘Kite Runner’, I cried for an hour when ‘Sirius died’, then Hedwig, Fred, Dobby & so many more. When I reached the point in ‘The Oath of the Vayuputras’ where Sati was about to die, I actually had to shut the book because I was not in a place where I could shed a tear (inside the metro). Senti much! And don’t even get me started on movies. Three Idiots gives me a constricted throat even today. Who else can cry in that movie! It was comedy no? I cried when I was watching ‘The Bucket List’. That one too :/

But today, I saw ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ (written by Jodi Picoult, now a motion picture) & I had to pause the movie where Kate walks up to her father before leaving for prom. I had to. You would know why if you watch the movie. (Do watch. Amazing it is) … This movie reminded me of a friend of mine, Akankshya. She was my junior at school. And she is someone I look up to because she is one of those who braved Leukemia with a smile and a maturity that people thrice her age do not possess. After watching the movie, I wrote to her:

Saw My Sister’s Keeper. Beautiful! At one point had to pause. I was crying so much. It reminded me of you.
 
There is so much more in the world that is heart breaking, painful, sad yet beautiful. And we cry about stupid things and useless stuff.
 
Sometimes I find it difficult to categorize grief. It’s like – No one can ever decide what problem is big enough to cry about… For how long! Is someone’s death the pinnacle of grief? Or simply breaking up is enough to keep crying. It is like- I can’t decide which sadness is sadder.

Everyday a 1000 thoughts and more run a marathon in my mind. Some run a 400m race, some do a 100m sprint & some have made a permanent home. Not all of them are happy thoughts (that’s okay! You gotta have balance in life). And the newspapers don’t help the cause either. Everything adds to the sad thoughts. I have not yet reached a stage where I can deeply contemplate the not so happy happenings of the world & end up being sad with all the problems around me; the issues of women safety, world poverty, ruthlessness etc etc.

I see people crying over broken relationships, things not happening the way they want it to be, their careers not working out, their plans not working out, their love lives not working out. Some are in grief because they cannot be with the person they love, some are in grief because they do not have a job & their life has come to a dangerous standstill, at the edge of a cliff from where a free fall could happen anytime, some are in grief because a lot in their life depends on how they fair in an exam, some are lamenting the loss of a loved one, some are fearing the loss of a loved one, some are in grief because they are suffering from financial or health problems, there are whole countries which are in grief… from where I see, everyone has some or other kind of grief in life. I belong to these ‘some people’ too.

I am wondering whether we can categorize it, or measure it? I am befuddled – how much grief should attract how much sadness? Which kind of sadness is more sadder? Can we really compare the griefs of two people? Losing a loved one hurts the same as having a break up or is it different? The realization that you will never have the ‘forever together’ thing with the person you love is more sad or knowing that a you need to give up and move on is more sad? Looking at all the pain and hurt in the world – should you be depressed or should you look at the happy moments and smile and be happy about it? This is one question to which I have never had the answer. But for now, and for always, I am going to believe the following :

I read somewhere that a loss is a loss. It does not matter whether you lost it to life or death, it would hurt equally. Why, then, is it said that – if everyone keeps their problems on a plate, you would withdraw yours very fast because you would realize that others have had it much harder? Maybe because it is all about – the place from where we see it. Maybe it is the magnitude and the number of people who suffer along with us – that is different. Maybe we need to see the whole picture. I know I am not saying anything new. I am just re-affirming my own belief by putting it in writing. But you know … it always works. Looking at someone else’s suffering when you can’t bear your own, makes your own grief seem kinda small in value. And this helps you overcome it.

But most importantly because, maybe it is true. So, while every grief hurts equally, I think that believing that others have had worse, or are going through worse, somewhere gives us the power & courage to face our problems; because this realization makes our problems look smaller in our own eyes. It makes us feel small for having cried over stuff that was absolutely capable of having moved on from. It makes us realize that – in the end, we are not alone. That there are millions who have suffered this along with us. That someone must have written about it, found a solution even if it is not one that soothes our heart most. I think categorizing or comparing is unjust. But we may make an effort towards overcoming it – even if we have to believe that we are better off. Someone else had worse.

And above all, I do believe that it is not really difficult to find rainbows in life. We just need to allow sunlight through those drops of grief and sadness that we mostly lock away in the darkest chambers of our heart. Because, it always could have been much worse than it already is. But it is not.

This is Akankshya’s post after I wrote to her today (This & more about how she braved Leukemia, her thoughts and life post cancer can be found on her blog. Do read..) – “My Sister’s Keeper & I”

P.S – Getting senti on not so senti movies and books is okay right? Can’t help it though :P  

What every Father needs to teach his Son!

This is a reblog. But I just couldn’t ‘not share’ this.

Someday I am going to have to have the conversation with my son. No, not the conversation all parents dread giving and all kids are mortified having. I enjoy making people uncomfortable so that conversation should be fun.

No, I’m talking about another conversation. The one that happens after I catch his eye doing what male eyes do well – following an object of lust. We will probably be out at the mall, because that’s what dads do with their sons, and I’ll catch the look. Maybe we’ll go to the beach and see it. Doesn’t matter where it is, there will come a time when I will see it. And then it will be time for this conversation.

*****

Hey, come here. Let me talk to you. I saw you look at her. I’m not judging you or shaming you. I know why you did. I get it. But we have to talk about it because how you look at a woman matters.

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A lot of people will try and tell you that a woman should watch how she dresses so she doesn’t tempt you to look at her wrongly. Here is what I will tell you. It is a woman’s responsibility to dress herself in the morning. It is your responsibility to look at her like a human being regardless of what she is wearing. You will feel the temptation to blame her for your wandering eyes because of what she is wearing – or not wearing. But don’t. Don’t play the victim. You are not a helpless victim when it comes to your eyes. You have full control over them. Exercise that control. Train them to look her in the eyes. Discipline yourself to see her, not her clothes or her body. The moment you play the victim you fall into the lie that you are simply embodied reaction to external stimuli unable to determine right from wrong, human from flesh.

Look right at me. That is a ridiculous lie.

You are more than that. And the woman you are looking at is more than her clothes. She is more than her body. There is a lot of talk about how men objectify women, and largely, it is true. Humans objectify the things they love in effort to control them. If you truly love a person, do not reduce them to an object. The moment you objectify another human – woman or man, you give up your humanity.

There are two views regarding a woman’s dress code that you will be pressured to buy into. One view will say that women need to dress to get the attention of men. The other view will say women need to dress to protect men from themselves. Son, you are better than both of these. A woman, or any human being, should not have to dress to get your attention. You should give them the full attention they deserve simply because they are a fellow human being. On the other side, a woman should not have to feel like she needs to protect you from you. You need to be in control of you.

Unfortunately, much of how the sexes interact with each is rooted in fear. Fear of rejection, fear of abuse, fear of being out of control. In some ways, the church has added to this. We fear each other because we have been taught the other is dangerous. We’ve been taught a woman’s body will cause men to sin. We’re told that if a woman shows too much of her body men will do stupid things. Let’s be clear: a woman’s body is not dangerous to you. Her body will not cause you harm. It will not make you do stupid things. If you do stupid things it is because you chose to do stupid things. So don’t contribute to the fear that exists between men and women.

A woman’s body is beautiful and wonderful and mysterious. Respect it by respecting her as an individual with hopes and dreams and experiences and emotions and longings. Let her be confident. Encourage her confidence. But don’t do all this because she is weaker. That’s the biggest bunch of crap out there. Women are not weaker than men. They are not the weaker sex. They are the other sex.

I’m not telling you to not look at women. Just the opposite. I’m telling you to see women. Really see them. Not just with your eyes, but with your heart. Don’t look to see something that tickles your senses, but see a human being.

My hope is that changing how you see women will change how you are around them. Don’t just be around women. Be with women.

Because in the end, they want to be with you. Without fear of being judged, or shamed, or condemned, or objectified, or being treated as other. And that’s not just what women want. That’s what people want.

Ultimately, it’s what you want.

Courtesy : Nate Pyle (http://natepyle.com/seeing-a-woman/)

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My Box.

I logged out. Then logged in. There are a few things which you need to make a note of. And I just happen to have a blog!

Visiting Quora when you have a lot of work to do is a really bad decision, yet one of the best things you could do to lift your spirit up. That’s what I did. I could not have made better use of those hours; I invested in collecting inspiration. And then one thing led to another. And now I have a list of things in my inspiration box that put me in a better place instantly:

1. Follow this question on Quora. Or better, read the first few only. They will move you like nothing else. The question is : What is the most powerful / inspirational quote you have ever heard?

There are many wonderful answers to this one there. Trust me they will all work. But this stole my heart:

“I don’t count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting. That is when I start counting, because then it really counts. That’s what makes you a champion.”

2. Read stuff about the most amazing science inventions and discoveries. You will end up feeling small and insignificant and the realization that “you are nothing” will dawn on you. And maybe that’s when you will realize how you are stuck with pettiness and how you need to put a real, honest, wholehearted effort to make this insignificance & minuteness get counted in some way. This might help you : We were here

3. Watch the last 15 minutes of the movie “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”. I perhaps do not even need to elaborate on why, how and how much it will stir you up; every damn time. You could go for the whole movie (I did not have time)

4. This one is something very very personal. A choice not many would make. But this video never fails to give me goosebumps. Atheist or devout, I am sure it will stir an emotion. A dance that could make you close your eyes & pray, even if for just a moment :

5. Not worrying about whether this post is good or bad, but simply writing it. Not worrying about feeling afraid about anything, but just saying “Bring it on!”. Not being wary of not having things my way, but just simply moving on. Not thinking. Simply doing.

Your inspirations could be different. But have a list anyway. Something you can go back to. Something that will fix you like an invisible hand. Read a good story, see a moving photograph, read a good excerpt, think about doing something that cannot be paid back, even if it is for a friend you know. If it moves you today, it will always move your soul somehow. Would like to end with another quote from the same Quora page :

“I start early and I stay late,day after day,year after year. It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success”. – Lionel Messi

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“I want to do this”

.. is my standard reply to the question, “Why do you want to go for a PhD? Kya hoga aage padh ke? Kya zaroorat hai ye sab karne ki?”

Trust me when I say I get this a lot because I do get this a lot. Relatives, mostly people who have never studied, come and tell me “It is time to get married” :P … I have thrown my share of tantrums and had my share of fights with my parents for so much as bringing this up and I think I am now going to just give up answering and become temporarily deaf and start behaving like the ostrich who thinks the world doesn’t see it when it digs its head inside the ground. And at last, when they are done with their uninvited, uncalled for and unasked lecture/advice, I will just say “This is what I want to do in my life. I want to see a Dr. before my name. I want to study and study a lot. And teach too. I want to be an interesting teacher, a passionate teacher whose students don’t hate her just for existing. I have dared to know what I want for myself and I am going to go and dare to achieve it. And, I am most certainly not going to just impose myself on a stranger of a man before finding myself.” I am so sure that I will have to say it so many more times that I will have a signature face (like poker face) and people will understand my answer without me saying anything :P . As if marriage is your only aim in life if you are born in an Indian family.

You know, this rant could go on forever. But that was not the point of my post. Let me share a story with you.

I was returning from my Zumba class one evening. I had just started with them and was struggling with my stamina. A one hour class would leave me half dead & I still had to make it to home! My trainer asked if I needed a lift till half way and I gladly hopped in. Satyaki & I started talking about normal stuff : Dance, acquaintances, routines, dance festivals, health tips etc. She told me she had at least three zumba sessions each day (I couldn’t live through one). She talked about a typical day in her life. Take three mondays and put in a tuesday and half a wednesday; that’s what her sunday is like. I asked her how she manages. She said something really simple but inspiring. She said, “This is the life I chose for myself. I wanted to dance. I can’t and I am not complaining. It has not been easy. And it isn’t easy still. But it is always worth it. It always has been. I dance all the day, on most of the days. I wanted to do this!” She also mentioned about taking small naps whenever possible to save energy though. But that’s secondary :P

At times, it is very difficult. Because not everything that you come across on your way to becoming what you want to become will involve doing what you want to do. That’s the weight of the choices you make. I struggle too. It isn’t always sunshine. But I have come to like little bit of rains too. When it is raining, sometimes I choose to do nothing and enjoy the rain. Helps me get back to my stuff with a better mood. Of course when it rains too much, there is water logging (streets of Kolkata; what else would you expect) which is annoying. But that’s again not the point. Too much digression happening. Sheh!

But, I am in love with my dream, in love with me wanting to achieve this. And this helps me get up everyday and fight to protect my dream from my own crazy lazy couch potato self, helps me to do a few things which I never enjoyed doing. What you gonna do! Barter system. Give and take. Kuch paane ke liye kuch khona padegaa… I give up too. I get lost too. But then, it never lasts for more than 10 minutes. Because then I start giving gyaan to some other depressed friend of mine and come up with shit like this :

Being lost at times is okay.
Just, never give up on finding yourself back.

And I bounce back well in time :)

The Anganwadi Teacher

It is a 13 years old story, a story that is still fresh and new. The way it is old and yet so new for me reminds me of my love for the smell of new books and the smell of old parchment at the same time! I guess memories are like that.

It was during the time when we moved from Kolkata to a small town in Orissa called Sambalpur. I wasn’t really keen on it but I didn’t have much choice and was probably not old enough to weigh the consequences this decision would bear on my life. And in a way it is good. Because, moving to that place has made me who I am today. So, no regrets there!

I don’t remember if I was apprehensive of new friendships or a new environment which was (and to date is) more conservative than the one I grew up in; might have to ask mom about it. But I do remember being freaked out for I had to learn a completely new language for my new school. Picking up a third language was compulsory and no one in my class had Sanskrit so I had to pick Oriya. Though, picking up Sanskrit would have been an equally big deal because I knew nothing about it either :P .. The worst part – 95% of my classmates had been studying the subject since the last 3 years and 100% of them knew the language! I had about a month to get the hang of it.

Enters. My tuition teacher. She was (and till today is) an Anganwadi teacher and used to teach at the Anganwadi by the day & took tuition for the local kids in the evening. Some 5-6 kids upto age 7 used to sit in a small room which was the lady’s bedroom, drawing room, dining room, her own little world – everything. I was the oldest student out there, doing a crash course on Oriya.

That was the first time in my life when I took tuition for a subject. And having to sit with kids half my age was not a very comforting idea. These were the apprehensions I had in my mind when I went there and started my classes. After the first week of study – none of those remained. She was a fun teacher. Her one liners to the kids were hilarious. Even the students being scolded would crack up! She made sure I had fun learning the new language. And given its similarity to Bengali, it was not very difficult to pick up. But what was most fun was – how good she was at it. One may not have thought a simple Anganwadi teacher to be that good at advanced level Oriya literature but she was awesome at it. She saw to it that I could start reading and writing my own stuff after a mere month. And it never was rote and mechanical teaching. She let me be her aide at times and teach the younger kids :P … I would set them homework, correct their copies, teach them at times and sometimes, I took them for the whole one hour. Needless to say, I used to spend more time there than my scheduled one hour everyday. The 12yr old in me loved the teacher in me :D

I had a deal with mom that if I manage to procure 70% in my first ever Oriya exam, she would buy me something I had been asking her to for sometime. And she did … I took that gift to my teacher & showed it to her. That was one happy moment. This was in 2000, when I was in STD VII. I passed all my Oriya exams with decent marks in the 2 years of my learning that language.

She believes I could do it because I pick up languages fast & I like literature and stories. I believe I could do it because she was there, because she taught me in the best way she could. With her, I learned how much fun it is to teach little kids. But, my biggest take away from this experience was :

“Unlearning is so important for learning something new. Because I had nothing to unlearn, I learned my lessons faster.”

Pettiness.

Means : little or no importance or consequence.

We have surrounded ourselves with so much pettiness. Petty feelings, petty emotions, petty lethargy, petty conversations, petty issues and so much more…

For instance, I get a message from someone I know after a very long time and all that person talks is crass. There is nothing in that conversation that could be relished or taken forward. Here’s something to think about – why do we waste our time in talking about things that won’t take us anywhere? Not indulging in small, petty talk – is maybe one awesome way to grow in life.

The time that we invest in pettiness, is never going to get us any good returns. It will only bring back more pettiness. When we replace our desire to grow, to achieve more than we could have possible imagined for our own self with the temptations of doing ‘nothing’; this pettiness becomes life. Rather, it slowly decays whatever little chances we might have had of doing something great with our self.

While having that conversation, I also realized that – great conversations, which add value to your thoughts, which are based on knowledge sharing and which goad you to do something extra-ordinary – are very rare. And can happen with very rare people. Maybe we need to choose our conversations well.

Pettiness is emotions would be – being so sentimental that we start becoming menti-sental! If your emotions do not buttress your goals in life, those emotions deserve to binned. Nothing more, nothing less. Being over emotional is having pettiness in emotions. Isn’t it very exhaustive? Then we have to think about so so so much more than we need to. All that thinking could be utilized in doing something good with our lives. That would be a much better option.

Having thoughts that are pure; so pure that merely sharing them with others makes them smile – is one of the most awesome things we could inculcate. Don’t we love being around people who have interesting stories to share, who have a brilliant thought process, who do not indulge in ‘choti baat’, who give us amazing insights to life, who make us feel grown up, learned and good?

Abstaining from petty issues and emotions would give us so much more leeway to make good progress in life. Then, whatever little we do, would mean so much more. We would grow so much more :)

I think, the word & concept of petty is best when used in accounts. It should have no room in our lives!

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Shades of Grey

A friend asked me to write about this long ago. And obviously I forgot about it. But the reminder came in this form:

“People aren’t either wicked or noble. They’re like chef’s salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.” ― Lemony Snicket

Continue reading

10 Dialogues

My 100th post. Yay! :D

I love quotes. 10 dialogues from movies. 10 of my favorite dialogues about love. Read on!

 

George: “Hey, would you, uh, love me the rest of my life?”

 Lace: “No. I’m gonna love you for the rest of mine.”

                                                                             - Phenomenon

“If you ever want something badly, let it go. If it comes back to you, then it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t then it was never yours to begin with.”

                                                                              – Indecent Proposal

William: “I live in Nothing Hill. You live in Beverly Hills.Everyone in the world knows who you are. My mother has trouble remembering my name.”

Anna: “I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking  him to love her.”

                                                                                – Notting Hill

“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds and that’s what you’ve given me.”

                                                                                 - The Notebook

“Perhaps it is good to have a beautiful mind, but an even greater gift is to discover a beautiful heart.”

                                                                                            – A Beautiful Mind

“Look, I guarantee that we’ll have tough times. And I guarantee that at some point, one or both of us will want to get out of this thing. But I also guarantee that if I don’t ask you to be mine I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. Because I know in my heart, you’re the only one for me.”

                                                                                     - Runaway Bride

“It’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to send the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

                                                                                                 - When Harry met Sally

“We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”

                                                                                      – Shall We Dance

“Someone once told me that the power in all relationships lies with whoever cares less, and he was right. But power isn’t happiness, and I think that maybe happiness comes from caring more about people rather than less.”

                                                                                 - Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

“I’m gonna treat you so nice, you’re never gonna let me go.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             - Pretty Woman

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