A Letter to my 15-year-old Self

Dear 15-year-old me,

I promise I’ll try to avoid spoilers which could ruin the fun of future for you.

You’re probably busy juggling reading, writing, studies and what you’ll later consider to be your first meaningful relationship. Trust me, you’re doing a great job.

I know you aren’t too nervous about the exams, but in case you’re wondering, you’re going to do just fine this time. You won’t really get what you were hoping for, but that’s not going to bother you much. You’re going to work when it counts (which is in your last year of school) and that’s good enough. Have fun while you can, girl; you’re not going to be a teenager forever! On that note, I strongly suggest you stop dreaming of being all grown-up. Even at 25 (which is an acceptable age for your standard grown-ups), you aren’t going to be too sure what “being grown-up” really means. Also, it’s not as fun as you think it is.

I’d have loved to give you a peek into my present life, just to dispel the foolish thought that you have your future all planned out. Don’t believe me? What if I told you that, by this time, next year, you’ll have decided to completely change the career path you’ve chosen for yourself? Or that it will shift again, by the time you’re in college, and then again when you’re out of college? You won’t regret most of these decisions, except the ones which you were forced into. But then, life has this strange but incredible way of somehow getting you where you’re supposed to be. So, maybe those weren’t necessarily bad situations even though they weren’t of your choice.

You are going to have fun with your career (atleast until 25, for sure)! You’ll get to dabble with a couple of jobs before you decide what you want. While every profession will have its ups and downs, you’re going to be relatively happy with most of it. Enjoy while it lasts, and if you’re ever confused, just go with the flow and follow your heart (yes, I know that sounds cliché and cheesy, although you won’t realise it at 15). One serious piece of advice for your work life: no job is worth killing yourself over.

That relationship you’re so crazy about in school? Well, you’re going to fall out of love in another year or so. You will learn to love again, in ways more than one (including an all-consuming relationship that’s going to change you to a great extent). Which also means you will go through heartbreaks (yes, you’ll have more than one. Or two.) and have dawn-nature-sunset-womansome really fucked up experiences (half of which will take years to make sense to you). I know what you’ve been through and I truly wish I could say it gets better. But it doesn’t. Unless you do something about it, of course. The single most powerful advice I can give you, which could possibly change your life, would be – learn to say NO when you have to. Don’t keep blaming yourself, kid. Not everything that happens is your fault. I couldn’t stress this enough, but it’s going to take another ten years before someone gets that drilled into your head.

Don’t be afraid of falling or making mistakes. Because there will be a lot of it. But you’ll have people to help you up, most important of them being your family and your best friend from school (oh yes, that bitch is going to stick around for longer than you thought). Meanwhile, keep reading, be open to new authors and different genres. Almost half of who you are and your perceptions will be because of the books you1321e-stipula_fountain_pen read. I still don’t know how you began writing but it’s going to stay with you for life from the looks of it. Find your voice, experiment and explore, but whatever you do, keep at it. While I have nothing to substantiate this claim yet, I’m sure your dream of becoming a writer will come true. Also, you’re going to start a blog soon. Please try not to abandon it every now and then.

Have faith in yourself. You are and will continue to be stronger than you think, overcoming life’s nasty (and not-so-nasty) twists bravely. Don’t worry so much about the meaning of life, try to figure out who you are and want to be, because you shouldn’t get lost in the crowd when you have to face the world in a couple of years. I could go on and on with this, but then what’s the fun in life, right? So, I’ll let you discover the rest of it for yourself. 🙂 Oh, and by the way, you don’t stay skinny all your life.

Lots of love,

Your wiser and awesomer 25-year-old self.

PS: As much as I wish I could somehow get this to you for real, that’s not happening, unfortunately. Even though a decade sounds like a long enough time span, time travel is still pretty much a fantasy. You’re going to have to wait till you’re 25 to know all this for yourself and write this letter. Sorry about that. And, no, post-scripts aren’t supposed to be so long. I just tend to rant. But I’ll stop. Now. This was fun.

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5 Things I Love about Bengaluru

Having been in the city for over a year now, I’ve come to understand that the IT industry is not the only thing Bengaluru (still Bangalore for many) is popular for. For those who might not be aware of it, Bengaluru was once known as the Garden City. Probably because it used to be all beautiful, clean and everything else you’d expect a garden to be. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about that phase of the city. The Bengaluru I’ve seen since last year is one that’s infamous for being overcrowded and highly polluted with traffic jams congesting its pothole-ridden roads.

I constantly hear many of my friends complaining about these aspects. Even though I always lend a patient ear to them all, I am quite defensive about Bengaluru. Inspite of the fact that I’m an outsider here, I feel a sense of belonging. I fell in love with it right from the first day! Of course, I do get irritated with the seemingly endless traffic blocks, the teeming buses and the garbage-strewn corners. But at the end of the day, I love the city, just the same.

Just as you would love a best friend with all his/her quirks, I love Bengaluru with all its flaws. I think I’ve grown used to the crowd that I have to wade through in busy market areas…and the hours of travel it takes to go from one place to another, sometimes barely few kilometers apart! I have begun to refer to my PG (Paying Guest accommodation) as ‘home’, which itself reveals how attached I already am!

So, I thought I’d put together a list of five things I love about Bengaluru. I suppose this is one way of celebrating my first year here and showing my love for this awesome city! Well, here goes!

Disclaimer: The opinions below are based on my experience in Bengaluru and not a generalized view. 

1) The crowd – Yes, that’s right. I actually love the crowd here. It’s (mostly) young, multicultural and varied beyond words. You get to meet people from all walks of life, holding different perceptions, pursuing different interests. I’ve often felt this place is very much a melting pot of cultures, ideas and aspirations. While there maybe quite a few who are from Bengaluru or other parts of Karnataka, a major chunk of the crowd would be from other states/countries. Perhaps, this is why the city has a very special vibe. Or, maybe, it’s just me and my fascination with this place!

2) Welcoming newbies – I know this is purely based on my personal experience. I don’t know how it has been for others but I felt very warmly welcomed right from my first day here. The locals are quite accommodating; I never felt alienated. From my one-year-old perspective, I found them friendly and ready to help. Most people are able to communicate in Hindi or basic English, so, it’s not mandatory to know Kannada, the local language.

3)  The restaurants/cafes – I love (read: love love love) the myriad restaurants and cafes that dot the city! From quaint coffee shops to elaborate restaurants, there’s every kind and cuisine to choose from. Being someone who enjoys restaurant-hopping, I take pleasure in the fact that I could stay here for years and still not run out of options!

4) The climate – I know this is a commonly quoted positive aspect about Bengaluru. But then, this list really wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention about the pleasant and favourable climate the city enjoys throughout the year. Yes, it can get hot in the summer but not as much as in some of the neighbouring states. Guess what? This summer has been pretty much a mixture of rainy, cool days and bearable, hot days! I don’t always enjoy rain (unless I’m in..uhh..a mood for it). Cloudy, dull days and messy, dirty streets just aren’t my thing. On the contrary, I completely love the rain in Bengaluru. The sky clears up almost instantly after a downpour,  even the cloudy instances are kinda nice. Although the rain can be a nuisance sometimes, I can’t help feeling a sort of liking for it.

5) Kannada – This might sound slightly weird. But I’ve grown to love the language. And, trust me, that’s not usual. I’m actually very eager, not to mention determined, to learn Kannada. I love the way it sounds. I have noticed that the locals have a sense of pride when it comes to their language and customs. But then, it’s a not a pride that imposes itself on or looks down upon others. They love their land, language and traditions but are open enough to let others follow their own. Which is really mature and broad-minded, I feel.

So, that’s just a few things I love about Bengaluru. To be honest, I could really ramble on. But I’m sure I’ve said enough for one super-long post!

If you’re at Bengaluru, do let me know what you think! Or you could just tell me what you love about your current city. 🙂

Dear Library…

Come Sunday, I’ll be in a place I call ‘home’ in every sense of the word! The mere thought makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I badly need the change of scene.

Last night, while on the verge of falling asleep, I remembered something that I had wanted to write about. I read something a couple of months ago and made a mental note to blog about it whenever I found time. But then, I got busy (like always) and the ‘note’ was pushed off to some corner of my mind. Only to resurface as a half-conscious thought, last night.

I came across this article in The Guardian about libraries – how they were ‘in danger’ and about a campaign that invited readers across the globe to write “love letters to their favourite libraries”. The idea had an instant connect with me and I knew that I wanted to write one, too.

My love-letter is to a very special library, one that does not exist anymore. Sometime in 2004, when I was in 8th standard, our school campus was relocated. While the library was, technically, shifted to another place, it wasn’t the same as the one we had in the old school. That library will always be a part of my fondest and most cherished school memories, for reasons more than one.

So..here goes!

Dear Library, 

You might not remember me but I could never forget you. They say you always hold your first love as a dear memory. I think that applies for libraries as well. Atleast for a bookworm like me. 

You were my very first library (and love)! I remember getting a glimpse of your interior sometime when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. Since then, I couldn’t wait to get inside and check out all those books. Finally, when I did enter the room, a year or so later, I was on cloud nine! It was love at first sight!

Dimly lit, with a mysterious air that hinted at all the treasure troves (read: books) waiting to be discovered, you had an old world charm about you. I loved spending time there, amidst shelves and shelves of books. We used to have a Library hour once every week and I remember waiting for it so eagerly. Waiting to meet you, to explore all that you had to offer me. Crossing your threshold was like entering into an entire new world, a space where everything else ceased to exist. It was just me, you and books. Even the air smelt of books, old and slightly tattered, adding to the magic. 

You introduced me to Enid Blyton. I couldn’t get enough of Famous Five and the Five Find-Outers. I kept yearning to see more of you, and read more. You helped me take the first step into ‘Bookwormland’ and guided me along the journey, delighting me with the beautiful classics you held. I remember those years as a blur of Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, E. Nesbit (to name a few) and gems like Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna and Jane Eyre. 

I could never thank you enough for all that you have done for me. In so many ways, you made me what I am today. Hell, you might very well be the reason I write! Even though we had to part ways, I’ll never forget the time I spent with you, the happiness you gifted me. I know I never told you, but I love you; I always will. I believe you knew it all along. Every time I see the present library, or any library for that matter , I think of you and miss you. This is my way of trying to give back atleast a tiny bit of what you’ve given to me. 

Yours,

An ardent reader/admirer

Thoughts in Loops

A remarkable snippet from the conversation I had with someone I met today –

He: You are not happy with your life

Me: Nothing like that, I am happy about where I am right now.

He: No, you are not. 

Me: No, seriously, I am. I’m happy with my job… 

[Interrupting] He: It’s not about the job…

Me: I understand. I’m happy with my job, I love the place, I love the people. OK, I admit I don’t love the place where I stay but that’s not such a big deal. Basically, I am happy with stuff…but on the whole, if you ask me, I can’t say I’m completely happy. There’s something…

He: It’s incomplete.

Me: Exactly! [smiling wide as the realization strikes, thinking “That’s it, that’s what I couldn’t place all this while, there’s something missing.”]

Tries asking if he is happy, to know if he feels the incompleteness too. Seems he doesn’t, he is happy with life. Ok, so why am I not happy? Too screwed up in the head? What’s wrong with me? Wonders aloud what could be causing the insufficiency. 

[Answers my thoughts] He: Freedom! 

Me: Exactly! [Thinking “How the hell does this guy come up with all the answers for my life?”]

And, like some light just dawned on me, I realize what’s missing in my life. The freedom to live life the way I want. I don’t want restrictions. I want to be let free completely, so that I can choose between right and wrong by myself, make some mistakes, learn and live life. This realization kinda opened my eyes (thanks to the awesome guy who helped).

After seeing him off, I was walking back. On the way, I had another thought…a line that this same person had mentioned a few days ago. And, at that moment, as we moved far away from each other, that line came back to me. And I knew he was right. ‘I fear I won’t be the same anymore, after meeting you.’ I’m not the same anymore. Nothing is the same anymore.

I got back sometime ago. I had these two thoughts going around in my head in loops (bits for the day). And I knew I had to blog about it. Today has also changed my perceptions about railway stations. 😉

‘Trying to Figure Out Love’ OR ‘Love…WTF is it?’

I knew this new phase and all the new experiences would mean a lot of new stuff to blog about. But I never expected I’d have so many new thoughts, that it would actually push me to come up with two posts in a day! 🙂 Well, so here I am. Remember the thought I had while brushing my teeth? Yeah, so I thought I’d get to that.

I was thinking about love (yeah, weird time to think about love, I suppose). Sometimes, the choices in life are odd, difficult. Hard to figure out. Hard to choose. Like, what would you choose if you had two versions of perfection before you (like, two perfect jobs, two perfect people, two perfect anything)? And, yes, you can choose only one. And…the worst part? You love both options! Especially when it comes to something as intricate as love, this kinda choice is sure to drive you mad.

But today morning, I was struck by a thought, something like an enlightenment, I guess. 🙂 While in college, during some programme, one of my favourite teachers mentioned about an article he had read. And he read out this line about love. I had written it down, tried to find it but couldn’t. Anyway, the gist of it is that: ‘Love is not about me, but about you; how I can enrich your life, how I can bring happiness into your life’. Something in those lines. The actual lines were so beautiful, I feel so bad for replacing destroying it with my stupid lines.

Anyway, the point is…love is something far above normal human emotions. Love takes on an entirely new (& true, I think) meaning when you think about someone else far more than you do about yourself. I’m not saying love means never thinking about yourself. You know this person is special, you would NEVER want him/her to be unhappy, you would do everything in your power to see them happy, even if the person is not someone you’re personally close to. Now, that is love, in its purest form. Just the need to see someone happy, smiling, alive. Isn’t that what we want for our loved ones? Above everything else? That is love. Simple, isn’t it? And when I put it in this perspective, I realized that it’s not really important whom you choose when you’re faced with a choice. Because love does not have rules, love would never force you to choose (and yeah, choosing one does not mean you completely stop loving the other). It doesn’t have limits, no conditions on how many people you can choose to love.

There are a lot of people I love; people I care about and for whom I would do anything! Anything to see them happy. Is that bad? So, basically, what I’m trying to do is…I’m trying to justify the situation wherein you might have to make a choice and yet have love for both!

Why I Want Last Night Back

[I don’t know if the title makes sense, but that is exactly what this post is about!]

Remember New Year’s Eve? If ever I got the chance to relive a day in my life, I used to think I’d choose that day. Well, not anymore! Yesterday, I had one of the most unforgettable days of my life…a day that I’ll hold special and memorable (and a lot more, actually) forever! Sometimes, you meet people who touch you in such irrevocable ways, like they become etched into your mind! People with whom you can connect at an extraordinary level, feel absolutely comfortable and happy, open up without thinking of rights or wrongs. Last night, I got close to a couple of people who fit into this category. It was out of this world. Nothing else could ever describe it better.

I went out for a movie with my colleagues and then spent the night at the place where a couple of them stay. Since I’m so into new experiences and making most of opportunities, I had decided I didn’t want to sleep at all (wanted to make most of the night). I spent the entire night talking to the others, specifically two awesome guys! It’s after a long time that I got to have such a detailed conversation. We spoke about a lot of stuff…and at the end of it, I was speechless! I didn’t want the day to end, I wished time would stop or something. 🙂 But you know it didn’t. Good things don’t last forever.

It’s very rarely that I get to meet guys (or anyone, for that matter) with whom I can have proper, mature talks, without bothering to think about what I’m saying. So, I truly enjoyed last night. I wish I could tell you more, because I’d love to commit to memory each word we spoke. I was super-amazed by the level of connection and similarities I shared with them. Apart from that, why I loved this night so much is because it moved me, touched me in ways I cannot explain. I have never thought up so much within one night! 🙂 And I’d choose to relive last night, if I were given the chance! Without a second thought!

But, like every great day, this one came to an end…and I was struck by a realization today morning (shattering the dreamy happiness that yesternight had created). You meet people who share a great chemistry with you, people who are meant to be part of your life. But, it’s almost like you know you won’t have a chance to experience what it’s like (having them with you). Does that make sense? OK, let’s put it this way. You meet people who are perfect to be part of your life…but, well, there’s a but! I know I’m not being very lucid, but that’s the easiest way to explain what I have in mind. There’s a but involved! Realizing this has kind of dampened my spirits today morning.

Anyhow, maybe time could work wonders. 🙂 I never seem to lose hope, right? After all, what do we have in life other than hope for a better tomorrow?

Physics, English & Roots

As time moves on, we tend to forget the causes and reasons which made us what we are today – experiences that taught us valuable lessons, people who influenced us in significant or trivial ways. Of course, we may not completely forget them. But as we move from one phase to another, we leave behind a considerable lot. And we don’t always look back to think of what made us what we are now. They become fond but distant memories…

A couple of days ago, I met a handful of people who played a remarkable role in having molded me into the person I am. Even without being personally close to me, they have had a very deep impact on my thoughts, likes, dislikes and perceptions.

Kiran is here in RAK. We met up on Saturday. I had a great time with her…talking nonsense, joking around and catching up with each other. She is one person with whom I can (comfortably) alternate between being stupid and sensible…and utterly stupid, again. And know I will never be judged. That day, we made plans to go to school the next morning.

🙂

As decided, we reached school sometime in the afternoon. I had gone there last month with Saba and some other friends. But this was a different experience. I did have to face some probing (and irritating)  questions about what I’m going to do next. Nothing new there, of course. Atleast it wasn’t as bad as I had expected.

Anyway, Kiran and I met only a select few teachers – those we really like and share a good relationship with (ruling out a couple of exceptions whom we had to meet). All the teachers we met were genuinely happy to see us and we spent some ‘quality’ time with them. While each teacher asked Kiran about her course, college and stuff, I was lost in some thoughts.

It’s been 3 years since we passed out of school. We have changed to a certain extent, be it physically or otherwise. But the teachers we met looked the same, and spoke to us with the same intimacy as before. It was almost as if time hadn’t passed, as far as our bond with these teachers was concerned. Looking at them, seeing their love and happiness, I realized how I grew into the person I am.

I love Science, Physics in particular. I wouldn’t say I know a lot about it, but I love it like hell, and try to learn more about the subject. I met the teacher who is the reason for this love (I hated Physics until 9th grade). She taught us Physics in 9th and 11th grades. She is an amazing teacher, takes a lot of effort to make sure the students have understood the portion taught… The way she explains the concepts, laws, theories and stuff led me to see that Physics could explain a lot of things in life, things that I had overlooked as normal or having/needing no explanation. And then, there was another teacher who taught us Physics in 10th and during the first few months of 11th grade. I admit his classes could get super-boring. But I adored him, absolutely ADORED him! And that just led me to love the subject with added fervour. I met him also, while at school. He is still the same…almost made me wish I could sit in his class, once more. Seeing both of them made me realize how and why I began loving what I love… It was something like going back to  my roots.

I also met the English teacher who taught us in 10th and 12th (and took some

Note the pun! 😛 This was a poster put up in one of the classes; found it while checking for some school photos.

random classes in 11th, I think). I wouldn’t say she is my favourite English teacher, but yes, she is someone I really like. She isn’t the one who made me fall in love with language (English, specifically), writing, poetry, imagery and words. But I did enjoy her classes a lot; they were fun (= some yawning, crazy jokes, lots of mimicking)! 😛 And she did teach me English…which means atleast a part of what I know right now is due to her efforts. But what highlights her in my memory is something else. She taught us Ode To The West Wind in 10th grade. Since then, it has been a favourite poem of mine. Even after so many more having been added to the list.

Seeing those teachers was like going back in time (especially since they didn’t look very different). So…what I’m trying to say is…sometimes, we forget how we began liking something, who/what influenced a certain habit of ours or basically, how we grew to be what we are right now. Going back in time helps reconnect with those reasons, those roots. And why that is necessary? No, I guess it isn’t necessary. But there could be times when you lose touch with who you are, how you got so far… The roots will keep you alive, and help you grow into who you want to be. 🙂