Too fresh to fade

It’s not loneliness. May be it’s just my unaided pile of desolate emotions. I don’t know…….sometimes it’s just the thoughts in my head that are so loud that I can barely hear the noise of  the world around me. IMG-20190913-WA0044

Silence has a voice too- very few can hear it. I listen to it. There is laughter. There is tantrum. Anxiety. Pain. Separation. Every time I walk into my thoughts, glimpses of those memories play hide ‘n’ seek with my reality.

The morning alarm goes off. It is yet another day. I get ready for work, eat breakfast, avail the affordable commute, sign in to work. As I sit in my cubicle, the world around me is a big blur. Sure I do participate on and off, but it’s all just a big pit of mindfulness and political dynamics that is just way too disturbing for an already disturbed mind of mine. The time seems to function way too fast. I’m never able to catch it. A little less respectful, a little less polite. Indifference, may be that’s the word. May be it’s just a phase.

It’s every night when I close my eyes away from reality, I see even more clear…….IMG-20190911-WA0009

Days of being abused; not thrown but used.

The days I can’t undo……

May be it is not delusional to create illusions around myself. You see, people are always better in imagination. They make me believe in harmless possibilities. After all these years of growing up with violent memories and deep rooted mental scars, shifting in and out of reality in my head has become quite fluid. It not madness, its just another escape tool. Very much like listening to your current favorite single on loop.IMG-20190911-WA0015

To the world, I’m a regular adult. To me, I’m still hiding under the bed trying to get away from what is now, a dreadful memory too fresh to ever fade…….

Denial!

I saw this man at my cafe today. I keep seeing so many people come and go and grab their orders. He was different. He had this unusually perfect man lips! I could see a spark in his eyes when he looked at me. It was weird at first, but then I realized, it was the smell of the fresh brewed coffee that made him look around the place with that expression. He moved towards the counter.

“Good morning! How are you today?”, the barista always had this obnoxiously excited way to greet the customers. I mean relax Kevin! He will buy our coffee. Don’t be this extra!

“Depends on how soon I get my coffee.” The man replied with a straight face.

I literally had my best laugh of the day.

Kevin went aside to brew the order after MY MAN paid for it. I was busy doing my own thing, when Kevin suddenly pulled me out from my service station! I was literally excited and nervous at the same time. Given his daily behavior, it was not something I will consider spontaneous. He tickled me with a pen. Well it seemed smooth given how close we were to each other that no one could notice anything wrong. It was our little secret! It felt right. Well, atleast for sometime…..

“One large Americano for Daniel?”, Kevin almost screamed.

The man with perfect lips took me off the counter and read his name. Oh boy, the tickle was wrong…..like every other time!

He scoffed as he read his name. “DENIAL? Huh?” He did not bother to wait for Kevin to answer anything and made his way out.

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Well, as for me, I brought him happiness as he took the first sip pressing his perfect lips against mine. He opened the exit door to head out. The chill of December was shielded by my warmth while he had that manly grip on me. I found my short lived life’s pursuit!

Learnings and laughters that mattered

We all want a 15-days long vacation where we can be whatever we choose to be. The whole idea of being home away from home, packing the best casuals and flashy outfits. From escaping into fun-a-thon of relaxation to clicking the best Insta-worthy pictures. It is a mental picnic of frolic, culture and indulgence. Of course decadence is summoned according to the budget!

It was my second visit to Pune. The first time was a wild plan few years ago that ended in nausea. This time it was more sensible. Work trip you know. As heavy as it seemed, I guess with lesson plans I have started to apply the anticipated problems section in my life as well! My biggest back up was this diligent and amazing support, Rutuja. She made my life easy.IMG20190616152841-01

Pune holds quite a lot of history under the rug. It was all about time when I got to experience, well, parts of it. I checked in the city on a Saturday. Just a weekend away from a completely new batch of TEFL aspirants. Rutuja and I planned to use it to our advantage before the pressure got on us. We went to visit this famous fort, Shaniwar Wada. It was built during the Peshwa rule in Maharashtra. Well, it was extended, fixed and renovated over time (just like our judgmental feelings!) The huge doors with spikes, narrow staircases, carefully planned  ventilators were quite interesting to understand. A whole lotta science and architecture!

After the history tour, we went up to Juna Bazaar to explore antiques. Oh my my, it was a long stretch of market with fresh smells from the old times! You ask for anything, and they had an antique for that (till you believe they are all antiques and not junk that is polished to look old!). It was worthwhile. Just be a little careful with handbags and purses. Few passer-bys will be really interested to find out what’s in your bag! Tulshi baug, MG Road are other major markets to hang around for pretty and fun street finds too.

After one week of rigourous enthusiasm to learn the psychology of language learners and how to deal with them, few trainees along with me planned for a day getaway to Mahabaleshwar. As the heat welcomed the party, we went to do the darshan at the Shiv Temple in Old Mahabaleshwar. We went up to the Arthur’s Point where we were hugged by floating clouds  and a warm, wet chill. The walk was mystic! After a couple of hours of “girls just wanna have fun” we drove down to the market area. Mahabaleshwar market has a lot to offer. From Kolhapuri sandals, wickerworks, unusually warm blankets, light weight happy jewelries to amazing cream cups at Bagicha (a must visit), it’s a paradise to for all the impulsive shoppers like me.IMG20190622161059IMG20190622160720IMG20190622150706

As we drove down to the city, we stopped by the Mapro garden for a farm fresh experience. We hogged on some of their freshly produced sandwiches and pizza for din-din. The affordable jams, juices, syrups, jelly candies; you cannot buy enough! It was a major weekend to look back for loads of awesome memories.

They say if you miss out on something, then there’s hope to always go back. I missed checking out the Aga Khan Palace and the Okayama Park from my bucket list. The pilot Pune TEFL program will surely be missed. Not only for the wonderful travel in and out the city but also for the learnings and laughters that mattered. My batch of this 12 enthusiastic ESL teachers. The 3-weeks journey was a memorable ride. Here’s hoping to another one soon!IMG20190701145836

 

“Coming out” as they say!

“It is always the fear that holds us back from a truly different life. I guess we judge too soon.” This is the story of a close one who came out recently. And it was a different kind of coming out than what we usually assume when we say that phrase.

Meeting yourself is hard. Speaking to yourself is harder. Introspection with the “I am” self is the hardest. Humans are born imperfect yet narcissistic. We accept both. Oh well, almost! Flaws are deep-rooted. That needs a lot of mind mapping to understand how it all started. And that’s exhausting. On the other hand, being narcissistic makes us feel under control. You create your own barriers by applauding the liabilities. To keep up with the time you pull down others. To keep up with the time there is a constant need of appreciation of one’s physical ego. Both times when we are flawed or narcissistic, we fear time. We fear realities. We fear change. Much to the inventions and discoveries that has advanced thoughts and erased some, one thing that sits in our mind is the fear. Fear of the known. Fear of the assumptions. Fear of going against the conditions and embracing your truth. Fear of being happy. The mask or the facade that we carry along us everywhere is like an airbag that helps us consciously avoid happiness. It is when we embrace the idea of self-appreciation and the exhaustion together, that we can “come out”.

“The problem with our society are not the conditions but the multiple interpretations and misinterpretations of the same. I have always struggled. I am a happy person, you know. My definition of being happy is something that does not fit these conditions of the society. I like smelling flowers. I love ballet. I definitely love shopping. Does that make me any less of a man? And it definitely does not make me a woman. Sadly, there are a lot of opinions about the way I talk, sit, even worse, the way I rest my hands when I stand!

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I have always been a family embarrassment because I never took part in sports, I will appreciate my sister’s love for make up and a lot more that does not really follow the norms. I am a man who appreciates and is attracted to things which are considered feminine. And that is not something wrong. Ever. It took me a lot of courage to say that to myself and believe it. I mean I have always been comfortable in my skin minus the label. But I guess, it has been a constant struggle as well. A struggle between self-appreciation and an imposed identity. This is in fact, the best gift that I got myself in years.”

It was quite an eye-opening rather than just a chillout session that we planned!

It’s still the same snack!

As the year came to an end, I sat there in our balcony with a cuppa noodle. The fireworks seemed to have captivated the peace of the space. The booming sounds  and the echo of the celebration did not help in keeping the calmness alive. The sky looked like a sixteen year old carefree teenager. Full of life, thriving with hope and desire. The partly sparking ashes from the fireworks fell back like shooting stars. It was a madness both ways.

Somewhere in between that hustle, I found a little space where everything was pacified while it was soaked into the festivitities. Ours is a high rise residential right in the heart of the city. If I looked straight outside from the balcony, the sea always gleamed back while hiding stories and secrets in the waves. As I looked down from the twelveth floor, tiny vision of the reckless happiness caught my eyes. The residential committee organized a New Year’s Eve party every year and it seemed like a good opportunity for the all the Sharmas, Desais, Banerjees, Iyers and more to come together and get details about their lives- some show offs, some ups and downs and some philosophies. A buffet  was mandatory with vegetarian, non vegetarian options and desserts. A budget friendly selection of alcohol make shift counter comes live after the midnight when the young lot goes back to their apartments to call it off a day.

The party welcomed the New Year with hope and yet another chancee to look forward to the future. Slowly, the aura changed with the departing childish spirit to a ripple of intoxicated laughs and casual debates about lifestyle choices. All these in just an hour past midnight. Soon the realization set in the party that there is a regular life to live in few hours. Household chores and office talks seemed to tone down the rush in their minds. In the next half an hour, everybody seemed to leave in groups. The fireworks stayed for yet another hour. The sky started to change its colour while the early morning chill began to make its way with the ticking time.

I could not sleep but I was not tired.

“Hey babe, any resolution this time?” he asked.

“This peace. Right here.” I winked.

The apartment was dark as we switched off the lights to enjoy the celebrations from the balcony. It was not an unusual thing to experience a salty chill and not cold shivering weather in Mumbai during this time of the year.

“Would you ever like to leave the city and move out of the country?”

“I don’t know. Would you like to?” I was curious.

“Well, there are always better places. As long as we are together.”

“Stop being so cheesy. Do you remember our first date? It was the evening after our grade 11 final exam.”

“It’s still so fresh in my mind. We stargazed on the terrace of your cousin’s house. The sky was happy that evening. It was mystic summer that year. The sky was exceptionally clear. The stars looked like fairy lights. Some were bright, some seemed to flicker. The breeze brushed our faces while we tried to match the constellations. It was not too long that we were hungry and wanted a snack. We went out in the neighbourhood and bought it from Ashu’s grocery. It’s still the same snack!” We reminisced as I help up the cuppa noodles like a trophy.

The first ray of the morning seemed to interrupt my time travel. It’s the first morning of the New Year. There was an unexplainable silence in the apartment. As I looked back inside the apartment, it has started to light up. The fresh air gave me goosebumps.

“I know I was not talking to myself this entire time. There you are. Happy New Year, Arjun. I know you could find yourself a better place. I am happy.”

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