Category: Life lessons

Life Lessons From A Cocker Spaniel

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Three days ago, I came home in a pool of tears, terrified I was going to lose my right hand.

I could see a vein pulsating in my wrist. My thumb, index and middle finger were on the verge of numbness. At the slightest twitch of my wrist, a dreadful electric shock ran through my arm.

In a wave of panic, I imagined doctors shaking their heads. They would have to amputate my right hand. I wouldn’t be able to write, type, play keyboard, draw. Literally everything I was half decent at would slip through my fingers.

The more I thought about it, the more I wept. I had never quite wept that openly before. My mom panicked along with me. My dad meekly suggested an ointment for want of something to say.

Today, nothing about my hand has changed.

The numbness isn’t gone. My right hand lies limp on my thigh as I type with my left, backspacing and retyping to get the spellings right. The self-diagnosed carpal tunnel still taunts me.

But I’m not crying anymore.

Because I spent a day with this dog.

This is Chap.

He is a Cocker Spaniel. His mane is handsome as a lion’s. His fur soft as a baby’s blanket. His demeanour, adorable as a puppy! But he doesn’t have the gorgeous big puppy eyes that people fawn over. Instead he has his eyelids stitched together so they don’t get infected.

Chap is a blind dog. He was born blind.

When my friend adopted him as a few weeks-old puppy, he thought his eyes were infected. Eventually, the vets had to clean out the cavities completely and stitch them up so they wouldn’t get infected again.

I’m not writing this so you sympathize with Chap.

I’m writing this because I’m in awe of how Chap goes about his life.

Chap walks around his home with a striking sense of familiarity. The confidence in his gait, the sureness in his paws when he leaps onto the gate and the menacing growl he has in store for strangers will hardly make you sympathise with him.

When he smelled me, he trusted me at once. He propped his shaggy head on my knee as I sat down. I gingerly placed my right hand on his head. He licked my arm, the warmth of his tongue comforting my brittle arm.

To me, it felt like he was pitying me.

Pitying me for the little discomfort in my hand.

And suddenly, everything seemed so ludicrous. My tears, my panicked state, my overstated emotions that trapped all those around me. I was put off by my own desire for attention.

A hand pain. Seriously.

I went to the doctor today; he gave me pills and sent me off. Said it’ll be alright.

It’s going to be a while, though, before I can wave it off as a setback, like Chap has done with his sight.

Isn’t it amusing how life throws so many lessons at us and we almost always turn a blind eye to them?

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An obituary

This morning, I woke up at 6.30. As usual, the first thing I did was check my phone. Twitter prompted me to read an article about the habits of a successful entrepreneur. “Start your day with positivity. Exercise.”
I thought OK, that’s easy and went for a jog.

I had hardly run a 100 metres when I saw a dog. No collar, quite skinny, no owner around. A stray dog. He was lying on the pavement, apparently sun bathing. My instinct took over, I jogged towards the dog. It was only when I went up close that I realised he was dead.

Eyes sealed shut, one leg stuck upward, the rest of him like he was just taking a peaceful nap. No injuries, nothing. Just a dog who was walked onto the pavement to take his final nap.

A freshly dead dog. No flies around him. No foul smell.

I didn’t know what to think for a few seconds. Should I be sad? Should I be shocked? Should I continue jogging?

He’s dead. It won’t make a difference to him whether you stay or go. Positivity. Exercise. Go away. It’s alright.

Last option it is.

I continued jogging, my eyes on the road ahead of me, but my mind lagging behind. It’s not fair to let him lie on the street, his meekness open to the world, is it? If I was dead, I wouldn’t want anyone to see me splayed on the ground. In fact, personally, I wouldn’t want anybody to see me at all! I would want them to remember me as I was alive! Like a dog, I would love to go away from my home and rest in peace at a place where no one can see me.

Perhaps the dog would like that too.
He’s in a better place spiritually, but not physically. Get him out of there.

I went back, and told a sweeper about the dog. She said I’ve to call someone else. I went ahead and asked a man who was clearing up garbage. He told me it’s not in his jurisdiction to pick up the dog, but was kind enough to point out a phone number to me. Stay positive. I made a call, a courteous BBMP person picked up the phone and within half an hour the little mister who was so peacefully asleep was gone from the spot.

I don’t know what happened to him afterwards. Perhaps they buried him. Maybe they burnt him. I’m not sure. But he was not lying on the street for everyone to see any more.

When a human dies, grand funerals are arranged, meals served, ceremonies conducted, anniversaries remembered. When a stray dog dies, nobody even bothers to look twice. But for all you know, the dog made thousands of people happy in his 14 year long lifetime, possibly more than a human did in his 80 year lifespan.

The milkman the dog went galloping after. The newspaper man that the dog greeted happily every morning without fail. The watchman who shared his afternoon meals with the dog. The shopkeeper next door who gave the doggy Parle G every evening. The toddler who crawls around at the construction site. The girl who just came back home after a long day at work. The young boy who just had a fight with his girlfriend and went out for a smoke. I’m sure stray dogs make someone’s day everyday, no matter on how small or big a scale.

These dogs touch a thousand lives. And yet, they don’t get a goodbye, forget a funeral.

So this obituary is for all dogs out there that died unceremoniously.

Thank you for giving us your untamed love! You were special to at least one person everyday. You will be remembered for your beautiful innocent eyes, your wet nosie and your flappy ears that always swung back when you saw us. If you ever growled at us, we forgive you. And we apologise for having been mad at you too. Anger happens sometimes.
Usually, obituaries say “survived by so and so” about the person’s children, but you are survived by thousands of people who will remember you fondly for that one day or everyday that you made special.
We love you doggie. Hope to meet you in heaven and be with you forever.

On a more personal note, thank you to every single dog for instilling positivity in me. Whether it was Ramu, Simba or Gunner, all three dogs I’ve seen go away, you’ve all made a very big impact on me during different phases of my life. You’ll never be forgotten.

PS: If you find a dead dog, call your local BBMP incharge. You’ll find this number written on the auto that comes to pick up garbage every morning. Note it down sometime. You’ll never know when it could come of use. The least a dog deserves is a decent removal, if not a burial or a funeral. Do what you can.

Respect all dogs.

Peace. Love. Adopt.

About being alone, but not lonely

You know, there was a time in my life when I was really depressed. Well, not clinically depressed. Just mentally. I was 16 or 17, living my teens – awkward looking (a bad hair cut, undone eyebrows, baggy clothes), not-so-confident and from a state syllabus school when the rest of my mates were from CBSE or ICSE. I had very low self-esteem. I would come back home from college everyday and crib to my diary about how everyone in my life had boyfriends/girlfriends and other best friends.

I would list down names of my favourite people and next to their names, write down the names of their favourite people and it burned me to know I wasn’t on anyone’s list. Not on my best friends’, not on my sister’s – they all had boyfriends (and wonderfully, they’re all still with the same people). I would indulge in self-pity, listen to music with depressing lyrics, mostly Evanescence and Avril Lavigne’s pissed off songs and once in a while, just cry it all out.

That feeling of having no one sucks, doesn’t it?

All of a sudden, I feel this looks like an ad for Whisper. Thu!

My parents have been out of town for 45 days, leaving me home alone. Now “home-alone” would prick many ears and make them imagine parties, alcohol all over the place, boxes of pizza lying around and loud music playing. At least that’s what I think of when most people my age tell me they’re home alone. But I had zero parties. My friends came to stay over maybe five times and that’s it. I was with myself most of the other days, cooking cleaning, washing, mopping, sweeping, the usual household chores.

I even fell sick, went to the doc, got medicines, nursed myself back to health, and took care of myself. Usually, I have my mom fussing over me when I’m sick, making kashaya, getting me Homeopathy medicine from Hattangadi, giving me hot rasam rice. But I made my own rasam, drank milk with turmeric, gargled and drank hot water for four days. Perhaps only when I was sick, I indulged in a bit of self-pity, but nothing more than the permissible amount. Permissible as set by me, I mean.

I’ve realised it’s difficult to live alone if you’re the self-pity kinds. I, for one, am not that kind, not any more. Perhaps I was, when I was 16, 17 but after that, I grew to look quite decent, speak well, learnt a bit about everything in life (you know, sports, politics, people, behaviour, etc) and promised myself to never feel bad for myself. I learnt to respect myself for who I am, and enjoy my own company. I talk to myself, sing to myself, dance to myself, cook for myself and life alone over the past 45 days has been breezy! I didn’t expect that, really.

I realise I’m ready to run a house on my own, including paying all the bills, cleaning up the kitchen and doing the dishes, removing dead cockroaches and sometimes pigeons from the terrace and balcony, COOKING good food, serving tea/coffee to guests and hosting other people at home.

It’s such a wonderful feeling to work hard and go to sleep feeling real good about yourself, thinking about how many things you did in the day.

I’m writing this mostly because, over the past 45 days, I have realised I don’t need anybody else in my life. Haha! I just realised how that might have come across to my readers. :P I don’t mean to offend any of you, all you people in my life. (Except you, Nuvena. I don’t want maamis around me. :P)

What I’m saying is, if, at some point in life, I have to lead my life alone, I’ll be able to manage it. It’s like a life-skill that I can use, if need be. But I must add that given a choice between living with people and living alone, I’d any day pick living with people.

I think living alone for some time in life is something everyone must do. You realise what others mean to you and how much others do for you! You learn to be independent and self-efficient, something I notice that a lot of people my age aren’t. Even I wasn’t until 45 days ago. I did not know I could cook for myself for 45 days, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and survive it. I did not know that the electricity man just cuts off the electricity if you forget to pay the bill (and I learnt the hack to get electricity back without yet paying the bill. In your face electricity man!). I did not know that I could change a tube light, as simple as it may sound; I’ve never had to do it in my life! I did not know that I could keep 30 fish alive and nurse my dog back to good health when she had a stiff neck.

I did not know what perfect parenting was like until I saw myself imitating my parents everyday when they weren’t here, trying to repeat their daily actions – be it squeezing a tomato to put it in the rasam exactly like my mum does or fixing a light bulb and half-immersing it in the water like my dad does.

As much as I missed my parents, I’m glad they left me to fend for myself. I learnt of my own capabilities, which is why my self-esteem has shot through the roof. Hehe.

So, if you’re living alone, make the best of it. Don’t feel bad for yourself that you’re alone. In fact, you’re lucky that you’re alone and can be your own person. If you’re not living alone, throw the other person out of the house for a while and make sure you live alone. :P

Tips to live alone:

1. Learn to cook. It will take up most of your time.

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Cold pasta salad

2. Invite some crazy people over. Even if they are donkeys.

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3. You go over to meet people

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4. Listen to music. Morning, afternoon, evening, night, 3 am. Doesn’t matter. Listen when you want to.

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5. Have a sleepover in a tent on the terrace.

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6. Pay attention to nature. It’s the fastest way to put a smile on your face.

7. Find a hobby. Something like making bookmarks. I made them for charity.

8. Visit your grandparents. Nobody loves you like they do.tatha

9. Go on a mani-pedi date with your best friend and party with her.

10. Go for a wedding. In this case, your best friend’s wedding. :)

11. Read as much as you can!

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I’ve read a bit toooo much over the past month and a half.

12. Build an  army of doggies to protect you

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Kuntea and Puppy. Piccolo was somewhere around the corner

13. Finally, keep in touch with your parents and do something nice to welcome them back.

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That’s all now! Good day! :)

PS: I logged onto WordPress today and it said, “Happy anniversary!” It’s my second year anniversary with WordPress! Thanks for reading! :)

When abortion is a painfully good choice

Today was one of the toughest days of my life. It was mentally exhausting.

A lady said to me, “These dogs are giving us a chance to undo our sins by helping them out.”

By “helping them out,” she meant neutering or spaying them so that they can’t have babies.

I stood there wondering, “Am I really wiping off a sin or committing another one?”

Things got much harder when the veterinary doctor came to me and said that Puppy was pregnant. It wasn’t just spaying now. It was abortion.

Puppy and me
Puppy and me

This is how it all happened. Around a month ago, a female Puppy that lived outside my house got into her heat cycle. When female dogs are in their heat cycle, they attract males from miles away. It was a terrible sight to watch the male dogs mount themselves on her, whether she liked it or not. She couldn’t sleep at all because male dogs just lined up to mate with her.

I don’t know whether I was doing the right thing, but I brought Puppy inside two days after her heat cycle began. I kept her in my house, taking her for walks four times a day so that she could still play with her friend, Piccolo. Piccolo is another male dog in the area, who dotes on Puppy. Even now, he comes like a bodyguard with Puppy and me when we go for our walks.

For a few days, she didn’t like being inside. She wanted to be outside with her friends. But I made her sleep in my room, bought her a few toys to chew on, played with her every evening after work and promised to let her out after we operate her.

I could get her operated only after her heat cycle, which lasts around 45 days. I waited and waited, and thinking it was over by now, I took her to the vet today.

The doctor called me in after the operation and showed me the six half-grown foetuses he had just removed from her. They were strung together with the placenta. They looked like tiny balloons. In 15 days, he said, Puppy would have littered.

Who would take care of them if they were born? I don’t have the capacity to take care of seven dogs. I can’t even keep one.
I wouldn’t have the heart to separate Puppy from her babies and give them up for adoption.
There are more than 10 rogue dogs around the area that I wouldn’t trust to let the puppies live on the streets.
If they did, who would feed them all after they’ve grown?
Moreover, Puppy is still only around 9 months old. Would she survive childbirth? 

My mind was teeming with all these questions. In fact, these questions were what helped me justify my decision to get her spayed.

It wasn’t a decision I made easily. I’d been reading about it every single day for over a month. Most articles I read online told me to spay her. Not trusting the internet, I asked my friends. My two most favourite people, Rahul and Nuvena, were dead against it. And I almost always take their opinions seriously.

You do not have a right over Puppy’s life and her puppies’ lives. You cannot take away her right to be a mother!

Conversation with didi
Conversation with didi

These were the lines thrown at me by them, and by my own mind. Just to make sure I spoke to the person most concerned about animals, I contacted my cousin, Kavitha didi. She has dedicated her whole life to animals, fighting for their rights. She has been a vegan for over 20 years now and is a role model to me. Her opinion was what would convince me, if anything.

So i took her advice and went to the vet. When the doctor told me she was pregnant, I was doubly torn. Will Puppy know what I’ve done to her? Will she ever forgive me? Will she go into depression? How can I do such a terrible thing to her? She would have been a loving mom. If I put myself in her place, I’d be furious.

I asked the doctor all these questions. He tried to convince me saying I was doing a good deed by sterilising six more dogs. He said birth control is the need of the hour.

Well, thinking practically, it makes sense to get street dogs spayed. It’s not easy to take care of them in this hostile urban world. Not many people like street dogs. Besides, I’ve always been pro-choice. Nip it in the bud before it grows up without love and care is what I believe. But when you aren’t making the decision for yourself, it isn’t that easy.

My mind asked me, “Why are you thinking practically when it comes to Puppy? You yourself aren’t always practical. If you were that practical in life, you’d have gone with the tide, done engineering and MBA and gotten a mainstream job and earned well. You wouldn’t have decided to be a writer. So why be practical in Puppy’s case?”

I still haven’t answered that question.

Puppy
Puppy

All I know is that it was the toughest day. Watching everything, right from Puppy getting anesthetised, to her dropping out of consciousness, my dad carrying her to the operation table, peeking into the window of the operation room to see how it was going, everything was a huge struggle. During the 10 minute operation, my dad and I were constantly pacing up and down, exactly like they show in movies. I couldn’t keep my voice stable. There was a point when  I broke down because I couldn’t take it anymore. My dad and I were equally concerned about Puppy and trying in vain to convince each other that she’ll be fine.

The most heart-wrenching moment for me was when she was still lying unconscious at home. She couldn’t move, not her eyes, not her ears, not anything. She lay there, limp, with her tongue sticking out. I sat next to her and said, “Puppy, I’m sorry.” And I was shocked to see her tail wag just hearing my voice.

Sigh.

Someone said that Puppy has the deepest trust in me because she knows I won’t let anything bad happen to her.

I hope that still holds good.

To all those of you planning to get your dogs neutered/spayed, I wish you good luck.

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Dad and Puppy

Special thanks to my dad, who has been with me throughout my time with Puppy, advising me what to do and taking care of her all day himself. I’d never be able to handle Puppy without him. Heck I wouldn’t even love dogs this much if not for him. So thank you appa! And to my mom, who takes care of Puppy and ensures she feeds her, even if she has to sacrifice her own curd rice. A hug from her after the operation was all I needed to calm me down a bit.

Also, a lovely and selfless lady called Geeta Mishra helped me incredibly in getting Puppy spayed. If you guys know stray dogs around your house that need to be neutered, do feel free to contact me. I’ll put you through to her.

Thank you for sticking around till the end of this post.

 

Happy birthday, Swathi

It’s my birthday in a couple of days. I’m going to turn 24 and I believe I’m every bit as mature as a 24-year-old ought to be, and as childish as a 24-year-old ought not to be, I guess.

I'm pretty sure I have a picture like this from every birthday
I’m pretty sure I have a picture like this from every birthday

 

Every year until now, I’d expect too much on my birthday day – gifts, surprises, new clothes, an extra load of happiness. And every year, I’d expect too much and what I got never lived up to my expectations. I was always left disappointed on my birthday. Which is really not any way to celeberate a birthday. I know. It was probably dumb on my part. But this year, something has changed. And strangely, the change hasn’t been brought about by my realisation that my expectations were too high.

Just like every year, I went shopping at a mall to buy me a new dress, or a new watch, or new shades, a bag, an Arsenal jersey, anything. But every time I picked up something, I was outraged that I’d even think of owning such things. A watch – not less that Rs.3,000. A pretty dress, a good bag, a branded shoe, a pair of shades – nothing less than Rs. 5,000! I know it’s not about the money, but I could actually feed all the dogs in CUPA with Rs.5,000 for a whole week!

Maybe it was my stint in lifestyle journalism that made me realise how vain some people are and that’s not who I want to be. I mean what are clothes meant for if not to cover your body? What are chapplies for, if not to protect your feet? What is a watch for if not to tell you the time? Whether it’s a diamond encrusted watch or a simple black watch with a plastic strap, it serves the same purpose.

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Maybe birthdays are about spending it with those who matter the most to you

So I actually walked out of the mall empty-handed, with my mind bustling with thoughts. Sylvia Plath once said, “Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.” Well, I’m not sure I understand exactly what she is trying to say, but I’m probably the “we” in her statement. Or I’m probably as confused as she was. (Well, no, I’m not going to pop my head in an oven anyway. “Oh Swathi! How reckless of you to say that!”)

Anyway, I said I’m as childish as I ought not to be because I like the simple pleasures in life. Goatee had given me a box of 21 orange candies on my 21st birthday. I think that’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Of course the orange candies are gone, but it’s the thought that remains close to my heart. Last year, Nuvena made a picture frame for me, and a lot of thought and hard work went into that as well. This year, my friend ordered a book for me, and then received a mail that the book is out of stock and his money is being refunded. Actually, no, in his case it’s not just the thought that counts. : P I’m going to make him buy another book, because honestly, I think that’s the best gift one can buy for anyone.

So if you want to buy me gifts I like, go to my Goodreads account and see the “Want to Read” section. Haha.

Ok just kidding. That’s not where this blog post was headed. Hehe.

All I’m saying to you (and mostly to myself) is, when it’s your birthday, don’t give in to peer pressure to “celebrate” and make merry and be extra happy. Do what you like doing best. It could be as simple as drinking a cup of tea, spending time with your pet doggy, or just a quite dinner with a few good friends. There doesn’t need to be cake, (if any one of you is planning to get me cake, I prefer pizza (extra capsicum) instead. Put a candle in the middle of it), there’s no need to 200 people surrounding you to shout out to you and remind you that it’s your birthday. You can sit idle for 24 hours if you want to.

Basically, do what you want. It’s your day.

Happy birthday, Swathi!

Goodbye, Deccan Chronicle. You were fairly good to me.

I have two days left at Deccan Chronicle. I thought now is the time to retrospect a bit.

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I’ll miss this “smoking zone” where we did the awesomest photoshoots for our stories

 

I’ve been here since June 17, 2013. That’s 17 months. I loved my job for a year. I interviewed people every day and learnt of so many professions that I did not know existed. I learnt of things like fruit-mixing parties and grape-stomping parties. I shuddered to think that those grapes and those fruits went in my mouth for Christmas. The number of contacts on my phone increased exponentially. Actors, PR people, artists, authors, dancers, models, entrepreneurs, other journalists, so many people entered my life in the littlest way. I have an entire list of “socialites” on my contacts and till date, I don’t know what exactly the “socialite” profession is. Anyway, this was the kind of exposure I got from a typical lifestyle journalism job.

But I had one problem – although all these people had entered my life, to most of them, I didn’t seem to make a difference. The celebrity-kind people. Or the socialites. No, I don’t want them to make note of my existence. I’m saying that my articles made no difference them. The articles I especially enjoyed writing were about young people who needed publicity but don’t have enough money or fame to have articles published in a reputed newspaper. I like to write about good people, those who have interesting stories to tell, be it an 18-year-old entrepreneur, a sweeper on the road, or a sandwich maker. I didn’t care who it was. I wish I could write about the good man who fixed my Scooty’s tyre this morning when it was punctured. But not in my paper, I couldn’t.

Predictably enough, the principles of my boss and mine began to clash. Of course, I didn’t tell her this. I was always a good employee (I think), who didn’t get in her hair. I didn’t like many rules here, which I can’t really put down for the public to read. (If you ping me personally, I’ll tell you all about it! : P) So yeah, I put in my papers. And I resigned. Of course, a lot of people said, “Why did you resign? You were doing so well and meeting such famous people!” That’s exactly my point. I don’t want to make famous people more famous. It’s senseless to me.

Anyway, if there’s one thing my stint at Deccan Chronicle has taught me, it is to accept people for who they are. I have a terrible tendency to compare people I newly meet to people I already know. I would’ve probably told Nuvena, “Oh dude! You are so much like my friend, ABCDE.” But when she doesn’t turn out to be like ABCDE, I take offense and don’t like Nuvena that much anymore. So that definitely had to change, because it’s a dumb quality of mine, and it did change. Well, I don’t think I suffered from too much of that problem anyway. (Nuvena, I don’t think you’re like ABCDE now. You’re you.)

The thing is, I had never been so closely exposed to such tremendously different personalities. At ACJ there were so many people of course, but my room-mates were swalpa-too-perfect to have a problem with them. At work, it was like each person came from a different planet! But I learned to overcome their negative qualities and concentrate on the good, which I think is the most important thing in a workplace. I suppose it’s my mom’s way of going about things. She has always taught me to never hate people and deal with them well, no matter how evil they are. (She doesn’t even hate those dirty, axe-brandishing, bad guys in serials on TV! She doesn’t even hate Manchester United and probably won’t hate Joffery Baratheon!) So, I learnt to deal with Sneha’s temper, Zoya’s a-little-too-carefree attitude, Nuvena’s obsessiveness (with me), Arka’s spaced-out-ness, my bosses’ wild mood swings, everything. When you’re on a team with seven women, I think you have no choice but to learn to learn and adapt.

Which is what I would suggest to you, Nuvena, Zoya and Sneha, and to all of you who are still working wherever you’re working. The place around you or the people around you aren’t good or bad. It’s what you make of them.

I’m not being preachy because of my awesome yoga classes. If you actually put some thought into that, about accepting people and adjusting to their ways, then your life will be a much better one to live.

I had a good time and DC and it’s only because of all you guys at work. Each one of you have contributed to be becoming a better person everyday. Thanks for being there and loving me as much as you did. (Don’t get mushy after reading this and come to give me a hug. Eeks.)

PS: Don’t ask me where I’m headed to next. I don’t know!

That’s all. : )

Here’s to the end of a grand, memorable era

So my dad retired yesterday, after working for 36 years at BHEL. That’s 60 per cent of his life.  

Just retired
Just married retired!

There was a grand function at his factory yesterday, a send off party. Four other people retired along with him. There were 200 people in the hall to send them off. People went up on stage to say nice things about the retirees. I think more than 20 people spoke, with words of praise for all the 60-year-old retirees there. 

 

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My handsome appa 

Yes, 60. The retirement age. I still can’t believe my dad is 60. He can easily pass off as a 35-year-old, with his lean mean physique and jet black hair. Save for the greying moustache, nothing can give away his age. I don’t think he believes he’s 60 either. Recently in April, he had an angioplasty. Everyone was mighty surprised about it, because my dad has always been the healthiest guy around. He tirelessly works from 6 in the morning to 9 in the evening, and by work, I don’t mean sit lazily in front of a computer. I mean physical work. He worked at a factory that manufactures porcelain. He worked in the Quality department there, so he had to test everything, life heavy things and move about a lot. His colleagues said he can’t be replaced. “Ramesh is Quality. Quality is Ramesh,” one of them said, while speaking about him on stage.

The audience at the function was offered the chance to go up on stage and talk about my dad. Despite ten people already having spoken about my dad, a girl a couple of years older than me went up to the dais. Her name was Jaya. She was an apprentice under my dad and worked at BHEL for a year. During that year, my dad encouraged her mentally and financially to go ahead and study whatever she wanted, and now, she’s working at Indian Space Research Organisation. My dad’s eyes were wet by the time she finished her speech.

I thought, shouldn’t I go up and say a few words? But just one thought was chewing my head off that time.
How on earth does anyone stay with one company for 36 years? 
Even my mother, for that matter, has been with Accountant General’s office for around 30 years.

It’s just hard for me to digest. I’ve been at my institution for just one year and three months and I’m already thinking of quitting. Well, if not seriously, it’s just there somewhere at the back of my head that soon I’ll get bored of this and must find something more intriguing to do. My dad was also up on stage yesterday. “Don’t bother whether you’re given promotion or not,” he said to the younger employees. “What matters most is job satisfaction and I thank BHEL for having given me that all these years,” he concluded, and the audience applauded with rapture.

I think I have the most dedicated and loyal parents. And it’s not just when it comes to work. They are loyal to their friends (they’ve had the same best friends since school and beginning of work), committed to each other with all their lives and love their children to bits, and all this in a very non-intrusive, held-back way. I find it so hard to find that balance between being dedicated to something with all your heart and being unhealthily obsessed with it. And my parents have effortlessly achieved that balance. Clearly, I have a lot to learn from them.

I’m guessing the not-overly-obsessed bit is what’s going to help my dad, now that he has no more factory work. I’ve known him to leave home at 8, come in between at 12, go back and come again at 4:30, pick up my mom and come back at 6, and go to the garage and come home at 9, ever since I was born, literally! His entire life for the past 36 years has revolved around factory work. It’s going to be hard for me, him and everyone around us to get used to the fact that the BHEL phase is over. At least for a month, I’m sure I’m going to wake up at 9 thinking appa has already left to work. Funnily, it seems like it’s not just my father who has retired, but all of us, who have bid goodbye to a habitual lifestyle that had an impact on all daily lives until now. 

A picture from his retirement day
A picture from his retirement day

I can’t tell you how proud Sunayana, amma and I are of you appa. We love showing off to everyone that YOU are the first man in our lives. We are lucky to have you with us, when everyone wishes they can have you in their lives forever. I don’t know what we did to deserve you, but we did something right! 

Hope you don’t ever change appa. 

Love you to bits. 

Happy retired life. 

It’s all about loving yourself

Someone told me the other day that if you wear a t-shirt all the time, it means you don’t care about yourself. It was one of those mindless “assess your personality through your clothes” things like this. (Because that’s the best way to go about judging a person’s personality apparently.)

Does this seriously look like someone who doesn't care about herself? I look incredibly awesome. Like an anime, I've been told. B-) (Thank you Sneha.)
Does this seriously look like someone who doesn’t care about herself? I look incredibly awesome. Like an anime, I’ve been told. B-) (Thank you Sneha.)

Anyway, just because I wear tshirts and jeans and sneakers all the time, it doesn’t mean I don’t care about myself. In fact, a few people would laugh if you said “Swathi doesn’t care about herself.” I can imagine Nuvena laughing already. She is the one who gifted me a Mephobia print out to pin up on my desk. I might have mentioned it before. Mephobia is the fear of becoming so awesome that the world can’t handle it and it explodes. Or something to that effect.

Apparently, if you wear tight fitting tops and jeggings, you are narcissistic. (Or you just think you’re thin, whether you are or aren’t.)

Ok I’m not talking about clothes in this blog post. I don’t care about clothes. I care about myself. Err… I mean, I’m going to tackle the subject of loving oneself. (Adjusts glasses and clears throat.)

A lot of my friends rant to me about how disappointed with life, that they are not talented enough, that work isn’t rewarding, that people are leaving them all the time, that they are single and haven’t found boyfriends/girlfriends, that their spouses don’t give them any attention, or that they’re just lonely and sad. Actually, nobody rants directly to me because I don’t give anyone bhaav when they do all this. I usually ask them to put a sock in it, in the politest manner. So yeah, they don’t come back to me. But you know, issues like this get thrown about in friend circles, about who is depressed and who is happy and whose boyfriend is cheating on whom and whose marriage broke up. (Because we all live in Gossip Girl-like lives.)

Anyway, I think the problem with all these people is that they don’t love themselves…enough. If you love yourself, nothing can really put you down because you do everything in your own interest. Also, if you love yourself, you won’t expect anything from others, so you can keep yourself happy all the time! So there’s no scene of being sad about anything – not anything to do with other people at least. {I’m a selective misanthrope. (Coined the term myself, thank you). So I have to find my way to go about being happy when I’m surrounded by humans all the time.}

But loving yourself comes with a few clauses.

There’s a very thin line between loving yourself and being selfish. When you love yourself, you have to make sure you give others, your friends, family, etc as much love. It’s not all about you. That’s where most people go wrong and end up caring only about themselves. Don’t isolate the love. Spread it all around. Can you imagine having jam only in one corner of your bread sandwich? Ew no! Spread it evenly. That’s the right way to go about it. (Whattey metaphor I say!)

Also, you can tell from how a person expresses love for himself, whether he’s a selfish jerk, or whether he genuinely loves himself and everyone around him. At least from my experience, I understand that if a person is always speaking ill of others, dismissing others opinions and feelings, and thinks his way is the right way, then he’s taking the wrong route. He probably doesn’t love himself at all. He is probably convincing himself that at least someone loves him, because nobody really does.

The best way to go about it, is be straightforward about it. In office, when I hand over an edited copy to my editor, who reads it again and finds zero errors, I’ll say “Wow! No errors? So cool!” (There are usually at least ten errors on an edited page.) I give myself that much liberty to praise myself, simply because I know I’m good. It’s going to cause no harm, save perhaps an amused look on my editor’s face. Everyone in my office thinks I’m narcissistic. However, that isn’t the right word to use. I just love myself.

My dad is another example about how to go about it. The world knows he loves himself. He loves having pictures of himself clicked. He’ll even tell you that he’s awesome and tell us stories about him being awesome in his childhood. That’s a healthy amount of love for oneself. At the same time, he’s also the most selfless person, helping other people at the drop of a hat, sympathising with everyone. Pretty much like my mum. She doesn’t expect anything from anyone. She’s such a peaceful, fun loving person, and I’m so much like her. She has just taught me the art of happiness in the most subtle manner.

That’s the thing. You have got to learn to be self sufficient. You have got to find a way to be subtle and loud about your love for yourself. You have got to find that balance. Then you’re set.

Because if you don’t love yourself, how can you expect others to love you?

PS: If you have noticed that I used too many brackets in this blog post, it’s because I learnt this today.