Tag: friends

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! :)

8 reasons why girls must follow football

Since listicles, as they are called, are so popular these days, I thought I’ll write one of them. Trust me, I didn’t know they are called listicles either. Sounds creepy. Anyway, that’s besides the point. I know none of you are probably reading this, and are most likely to just skim through the headline of all the points, which is what I usually do with listicles.

Arsenal. : )
Arsenal : )

Getting to the point, I have been watching football for around five years now. I support Arsenal. Strangely enough, I never knew about Arsenal (or EPL or football) during The Invincibles’ era. I began following football in around 2008/2009, and I don’t even remember why. But over the years, following Arsenal’s games has moulded me into an ardent follower of the team and its ethics, and now I’m a fan of the game itself. I’m not forcing girls to follow football. Just merely putting down the plus points. They’re just my thoughts, so don’t start an argument at the end of it. Peace. : )

Here are 8 reasons why girls must follow football. (I’m writing from personal experience)

1. You stand out among your girlfriends: From what I have seen, girls seldom follow football. In India, I mean. (If you’re Dutch or something, this listicle isn’t for you). But in India, there are movies like Bend It Like Beckham, where a girl playing football has been glorified so much! That’s how rare it is. You’ll stand out among all your girlfriends for that reason alone. When you’re low, feeling like you’re a nobody, this will probably make you realise how different you are from the rest and it’ll make you feel important.

2. You can chill with guys easily, if you have to: A couple of days ago, one of my friends, Bird, certified me as a “bro.” It was during a casual conversation we were having with two other friends, Rahul and Guntoo. He said, “Dude she plays football. She’s a bro.” Well, I liked being called a bro. It’s like being in the inner circle. Not saying I want to be a guy. I like being a girl and I love my girlfriends. But sometimes, it’s nice to be in the loop when guys are discussing football and Fantasy Premier League all the time and you can contribute instead of staying mute, or instead of being made to hang out with some other guy’s girlfriend simply because apparently “girls can’t talk football.”

3. Your weekends are made (and for cheap): I think most people like to hangout at pubs or cafes on weekends, and that can be an expensive affair! If you’re a football follower, however, it’s the opposite. You tend to ensure that there are no meetings when you have to watch your team’s game. If my friends call me out for a drink on a Saturday evening, or if my parents call me to visit someone, the first thing I do is check Arsenal’s schedule. If it’s to someone’s house, I ask them if they have subscribed to Star Sports. If we’re going out to a cafe, I call and find out if they’ll keep the match on. (Most of the times, cafes and pubs in India prefer playing cricket (even old matches) over live football). Anyway, there’s nothing I look forward to as much as a good match! You can call your friends over, make popcorn, watch the match and have a really fun weekend at zero cost. International breaks and those two no-football months after EPL is over are almost torturous! I’m telling you, the sport is addictive!

Netherlands national team
Netherlands national team

4. Football increases your general knowledge: I’m not even kidding. Once you begin to follow football, you learn of new names, new countries, new languages. You learn to connect names to countries. You know how they say that men are better at geography? It’s probably so because they follow sports. After I started following football, I learnt about so many countries, like Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Bosnia-Herzegovina, etc. I learnt to distinguish players country-by-country just by learning their names. Of course that’s possible only to an extent, with names like Nistelrooij, Vrij, Sneijder, or Neuer, Gotze, Muller. I’ll never know where Papa Bouba Diop is from by reading his name.

5. It will be one of the few constants in your life: You know, I don’t even know how football happened to me. One day, I said “I sort of like Arsenal.” And being one of the most pampered cousins, I was suddenly showered with Arsenal merchandise from all directions. Calendars, jerseys, mugs, flags, books, (used) tickets to Emirates, banners, scarves, posters, piggy banks, my God! Name it, I have it! Before even I knew it, everyone around me had made me a fan. Automatically, I had some direction to follow in my life. I began following all of Arsenal’s games, read up books and articles and made it a vital part of my life. My yoga sir says, “Nothing in a human is permanent. Your body changes and deteriorates. Your thoughts change, thereby making your mind fickle. But your soul is the only permanent thing.” I think when you support a football team, you put not your body or mind, but your soul in it. Your support for a team becomes the only permanent thing, the only constant in your life, when everything around you and inside you changes.

6. It increases the success rate in your career: Ok, I’m not entirely sure how it will work in something like an IT profession. Maybe you can build good rapport with your boss, provided he’s a football follower and impress him enough to give you a promotion. But if you’re in the field of journalism, like I am, knowing football or any sport for that matter, can put you on TV. Since women sports journalists are always in demand, if you know the sport, you’ll be sure to get hired. I think this works mostly in TV media though.

7. It makes you feel like part of a community: When the player of your favourite team scores, you get off your sofa at home and jump, hop and dance all around your house. All this for something that has no direct impact on your life whatsoever. When a player from your team gets injured, you cover your mouth watching the replay of the Stoke player (most likely) ramming into your player. You swear at the guy who made the foul, along with a million others who are swearing in their houses at the same guy. I don’t think such massive numbers ever come into consensus over anything else! So if your team loses and you’re sad, you have a million people to share your sorrow and no one will ridicule your sadness, except maybe your mom. You are a part of a huge football family, and you can be proud of it.

8. You’ll be that awesome person destroying gender stereotypes: I can actually count the number of girlfriends who follow football on one hand. Actually, on three fingers. Really! I’m not being sexist or feminist fail or whatever else you might name me. It’s the truth. In fact, the only other football fan, who is also a friend, Sanjana, suggested to me this point. Seriously girls, sometimes, guys just like making fun of girls by asking them easy questions when they know that girls don’t know the answer. It makes the whole gender look dumb. Take a look at this video. It’s of a guy asking Mumbai girls questions like “Which country does Messi play for” and girls are responding with answers like “Chelsea.” “Who will win in a match between Netherlands and Holland?” is a question, and the girls pick one of the two. :-/ It’s not the girls’ fault that they aren’t interested in football! But these kind of videos are trying to make the whole gender look dumb, just by asking a handful of girls something they aren’t interested in. So it would be nice to defy the guys their dumb laughs once in a while. Shaving your head or walking around with armpit hair (ew) like the Fastrack ad encourages you to, is not an entirely pleasant way of destroying gender stereotypes. You can be a little more moderate and follow football instead.

That’s all! A good way to start is by following the English Premier League, which airs on weekends in the evening on Star Sports. Or contact me and I’ll guide you. I’m not forcing you to watch football, but you’ll never know how awesome it is, until you give it a shot.

Disclaimer: I sent this to my friends to review before publishing it. They all warned me about getting into gender-bias arguments n stuff. I don’t mean to demean anyone or any gender through this post. Just saying that to follow football is a healthy habit. Sigh. I hate having to put disclaimers. I don’t like to people who pick on everything that’s written. I’m a peaceful person and mean no harm. Anyway, hope you enjoyed reading it. If you did, thank you! : ) If you didn’t, well, go read something else. : ) The internet has lots to read.

Here is another listicle I had written before listicles became mainstream.

In loving memory of my paati

I thought I was over my grandmother’s passing away. Turns out I am not.

I always thought I get over people easily. When my gramma went away, I cried on the first day, shed a few tears the days that followed, but never really mourned more after that. Maybe I believed that she had left her ever-smiling, kindhearted spirit with us. Maybe I don’t miss people much when they’re not in my daily life anymore.

I cried for two days when my dog passed away. But I didn’t after that. I probably cried more when I watched Marley and Me a few months after he died.

My puppy, Gunner
My puppy, Gunner

 

Why I’m talking about this right now is because today, when my mother was cleaning out an old closet in my grandmother’s room (yes, after four years after she went away), she found a few sweaters. Before she put them in the machine, she just wanted to check the pockets to make sure there was nothing in there. But she found something in them. I thought it might have been money. But it was something I did not see coming. It was a Marie biscuit.

My gramma was diabetic and Marie biscuit was the only biscuit she’d eat. Every evening, she’d make tea, dip Marie biscuit in it, finish the tea and sit outside in the balcony, breaking the biscuit into pieces in her hand and then putting the pieces in her mouth, taking her time to eat it. That was one of her habits. She never bit into the whole biscuit. She never bit into apples, or carrots either… Not because she couldn’t. She had strong teeth and she never wore dentures. She just didn’t think it decent to bite into it I guess. My dad has the same habit now. Pardon the cliche, but old habits die hard indeed.

It was strange how instinctively I turned vulnerable and melancholic when my mum found the biscuit. The stable, quiet ocean in my head was suddenly unruly, like on a full moon night; the waves were roaring and ready to splash. I didn’t cry in front of my mom of course. I drank tea, sat on the porch steps enjoying the evening; Perhaps  my gramma enjoyed a similar evening, sitting in her green balcony the day she forgot her biscuit in her pocket.

Then again, I guess it’s times like these that make you really mourn for someone, rather than on the day they go away. I missed my gramma the most when I used to come back from college to find a locked door, and not one that opened to her peaceful face, engrossed in some awful Kannada serial. Supriya and I, who came home from school and sat around at home, had learnt the theme song of that 4 o’ clock serial by-heart. Haha! It was the worst!

Today, I don’t know if my grandma will be proud of me. I have really short hair. She always wore a disappointed look when I cut my hair too short. She used to be so happy when it was long. I’m wearing a fitting t-shirt today. I don’t think she’ll like that either. She was the more traditional kinds, who exclaimed with joy every time she saw me wear a salwar kameez. But she never, ever, ever, told me not to do the things I did. She wouldn’t complain about how I wore my hair or my attire. She was never intrusive. She let me live my life how I wanted to. I loved that about her. And she was the person I spent most of my childhood with, more than with my mum, dad or sister. I’m glad I could share it with her.

I miss her sometimes.
I miss sleeping next to her, (something I did for around eight years).
I miss the pleasantly disturbed sleep I had in the early mornings when the signature 6 am tune on AIR played on her portable transistor, which she kept above her pillow all the time.
I miss her gruff voice, it was unique and something that I always found friendship in.
I miss the strong smell of Sensor balm, which I still associate with her.
I miss taking a bite off her crisp chapatis, dipped in sambar, when she ate two whole hours before the rest of us.

Most of all, I miss her presence in her room, crafting the perfect little birds she made tirelessly, with so much dedication, or decorating photos of Gods with chamkis and beads, and adding a touch of grandeur and royalty to them.

The last thing I said to her was “Good night,” the night before she slept forever.

Well, I hope she’s happy with my tatha, wherever she is, because I know they’re together and happy now!

I’ll see you when I see you again paati.

Sorry if this post was a bit too emo. I just had to get it out.

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.