It’s been an eventful year. But then of course it is stupid to expect nothing to happen to you over the course of 365 days. I think I should just talk about my phase of life that’s coming to an end. It began last year, when I graduated from college and began life as a corporate resource.
I learnt a lot, and I am not just referring to the coding/ work front. I learnt how to file my tax returns, how to draft a good rental agreement and how to ride a motorbike. Picked up a few chords on the Ukulele, and started doing a few covers that I share on my Instagram account. I did NOT learn a lot about cooking, but hopefully that will be remedied the coming year, because there really is only so much Maggi you can eat. I’m not the New-year-resolutions-kinda-gal, but I will resume baking and learn how to make a mean pot of pesto for my pasta. Does anyone know what the Indian name for the Basil leaf is, though?
An Air Conditioner in our apartment caught fire, and scared the bejeezuz out of us. I used to think fires were quite romantic and fire men were really badass and I stand very humbly corrected (about the first assumption). There is nothing exciting about a house catching fire. It was pure providence that got us out of the apartment in time that day, and I am thankful.
I learnt that I wasn’t great at keeping in touch with everyone I used to hang out with so effortlessly back in college with. I had to learn to let go of the relationships that were beginning to sour because of my inability to maintain WhatsApp conversations with everybody, and content myself with chancing upon the occasional picture or update on a social networking site. If any of you are reading this, I would want to apologize for the late replies and the one word answers. I would want to apologize for not starting conversations, until it became too late. I have made my peace with it, though, and I look forward watching you all thrive and inch closer to your dreams every hour.
I traveled. Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Chandigarh, Mohali, Simla, Manali, Kullu, Dehradun, Mussouri, Sankri, a Himalayan peak (Kedarkantha), Hampi, Bangalore, Manipal, Thrissur, Kochi, Fort Kochi, Vagamon, Kothamangalam, Chennai, Trichy, Pollachi, Coimbatore, Tirupur, and Pondicherri in the past 18 months. There was a trek through Kashmir that was very close to my heart, but that plan had to be scrapped.
I wrote a letter to my 26 year old self and sealed it up on my birthday last year, around the time the Chennai floods happened. The first half of the day was spent in the dark, eating Kesari cake and collecting rain water to use in our toilets and playing anthakshari. The second half of my birthday witnessed a three sixty degree turn in my fortune – we were rescued by a good Samaritan with a boat and then put up in Hotel Leela Palace by the organization we worked for.
The year had a rocky beginning, what with the aftermath of the floods, and a very serious argument I had about bungee jumping and sky diving with an acquaintance. I probably have him to thank though. He set the cog wheels in motion for the trips I made in 2016. A contrary streak and the fact that I thrive on proving people wrong(in a non-confrontational way) made me have a serious discussion with the BF1 ( Best Friend 1) about going away for a trek. We found a destination we liked, took a few opinions and wham! It all happened very fast. She had a bit of trouble getting parental consent, as did I. ( Read about the entire trip here, if you want.) The OBF (Other Best Friend) also joined us. It was eye opening, and I would make a long hike a yearly thing if I could. Some time in the mountains and no cellular connectivity really helps you spring clean the cobwebby memories and replace them with new ones of endless expanses of starry skies, furry friendly dogs that steal your food, and snowball fights. Post that we did a family trip around Himachal Pradesh. We spent around a week exploring Simla and Manali, eating apples plucked out of trees, paragliding, and getting dunked in the middle of the river while semi-zip lining across it. Amma was a Rockstar! – she climbed rocks, rode horses and pulled herself across a river, just like Appa, Kid bro and me. I was a little nervous about the trip, because I planned and executed it, but we had a lovely time, and I will have to write about it separately later. I also made several weekend trips to visit friends and family across India, but that needn’t be described in detail. Hampi was another gold mine,
which by the way is what the Mughals thought when they drilled through all the idols there , we had great company and lovely weather. Those nutella-banana pancakes at Mango Tree were heaven to this bunch of weary travelers. We would drive down on occasional Sundays to Pondicherry for crepes and croissants, sit by the corniche and watch the waves kiss the rocks. The year ended on a high note, with a trip to Fujairah after forever. The weather was breezy, and sea glistened and home was sweet home. I spent two blissful weeks waking up to breakfast made by either Appa or Amma, playing the piano and talking long walks by the beach. Celebrated my last day of 22 bouncing on trampolines and eating fish curry. Caught up with school friends. December was also the month of the multiple lipsticks. I’m now the proud owner of 3 (none of them were bought by me, but I love love love them.)! I hope I find the guts to use them now and then. The last three days of the year were spent in Bangalore, attending a cousin’s wedding and making merry. Our family really does know how to shake a leg!
On the relationship front, there were entries and exits. There were some exits that I would never have anticipated, but the human heart is like Wolverine. It heals with time. My family has been Ek Dum Number One, and Amma and Appa have surprised me more than once with their patience and gyaan (damn I think I’m out of the terrible teens finally) in spite of being in four different parts of the world most of the time. I was rudely awakened to the fact that the kid bro wasn’t a kid anymore, and that it was now up to him learn how to make the right and wrong choices about life, relationships and priorities. I am of the belief that he is a fighter though, and will plow through and eventually make the right choices. I’ve distanced myself from a lot of people I used to be close to. Friends have become acquaintances, and acquaintances friends. I want to thank the constants -special mentions to BF1, OBF and Mr Fox for refusing to be driven away by my antics. A wise man said that if you’re friends with a person for seven years, you’re friends with them forever. I want you guys in my forever list. I’ll see you at the finish line with Shawarma and cheese omelette.
I managed to read a bunch of books too, but I will have to compile the list later on. Spent several evenings playing street football with the kids in my apartment complex, and freelanced as a content writer for a startup. Started a bullet journal and a travel journal. Let’s see how long I can maintain them. So far, not so bad. Bought a new laptop and finally said buh bye to my five+ years old Toshiba. It feels like I’m using a sleek convertible after having driven an rusty jeep around.May I get used to it. I started blogging, and it’s been a relief to pen down things that I find difficult retaining in my head. I don’t know how many lives I have managed to affect or how many smiles and heart string tugs I have been able garner, but if I knew, i’d capture them all in a glass Jar, keep it next to my bed, and feel happy about being able to reach out and touch some minds. I became unexpectedly popular on Quora too, and I still don’t know if it was because my answers were good, or because my profile picture was that of a girl’s.
22 has been a disturbing age. On one hand, I felt like an amazonian wonder woman. Liberated. Independent. I was travelling on my own, paying my own bills and earning my bread, with plenty to put away for a rainy day. After a year of making grown up decisions, I felt like I could make no mistake. There was a world of possibilities at my footstep. On the other hand, I was confused. The 20s are a difficult time for girls in India. All our lives we are conditioned to be good students, study hard, get good scores and a great degree and suddenly at 23, society’s expectations from you change. You become a commodity on the marriage market, and everyone asks you when you are willing to settle down. Learning to cook and keep house become a priority, and folks begin to give you lectures about the importance of leaving your jobs to raise your kids. All at once, expanding your professional knowledge takes a backseat and you are subconsciously filled with notions of settling down. Travel is frowned upon. ‘Do it with your husband’, they say. Pictures put up on social networking sites are met with disapproving glances. ‘What if his family does not like it?’, they say. All our lives, we have been told to maintain a respectful distance from boys, and suddenly after you graduate, those principles go for a toss. We are shown pictures or told about XYZ’s son who is from a nice family and has a nice job. We are now expected to make quick decisions about who we are going to spend the rest of our lives with, and we are asked to repress those qualities of ours that make us different. I’ve had it a lot easier than most of the other girls out there, but I would want to put forth the message that all of you can power through and not succumb to pressure. Get married when you’re ready for it, and to someone you’re ready to spend the rest of your life with. Don’t get married to their family name, or fortune. Don’t get married to someone who expects you to change your identity and forget your past and your family. Don’t spend your life waiting for someone to love you and respect you when you don’t have to wait at all. YOU can love you. YOU have to give yourself respect before you can expect it from anyone else.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for settling down.. but I wish we all had someone to tell us how awesome we were just the way we were instead of expecting us to turn our lives topsy turvy for them. Girls aren’t a lot different from guys their age, and it would be nice to receive a pat on our backs and be told that we have done a good job so far.
That being said. I loved 2016. And I look forward to 2017. I don’t have a reputation for keeping resolutions but I hope I can waltz through 2017 with a lot of books I enjoy reading, friends I enjoy hanging out with, and the good health and happiness of all I hold dear to me, and everyone else in general.
As tiny Tim so rightly put it, ‘God bless everybody’.