Count your Blessings : Good to Hear, Hard to Follow

“Oh we are going to Basel next month”, I hear one of my relatives tell me, and with a smile on my face I mutter, “That’s great”. But my mind is speaking something else, “What did she just say, omg, bang me against the wall somebody please”. And I calm myself prepare another cup of tea for this suddenly turned annoying relative as she blabbers something about her preparation for the trip, places she would visit, blah blah blah is all I hear.

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So this is me, I get so affected and influenced with what people are doing that the irritability alarm in my system is switched on, in times like these trust me, maintaining a feet distance from me is most advisable. Acceptance comes really hard to me; I mean just that if I see someone living the life I wanted to live it shatters me to bits for atleast two days. And invariably I regret after two days for wasting my time, fretting over something so inconsequential and not living and enjoying the moment that is now. Huh !!

It is not that I don’t have a life, I have a wonderful one, a comfortable one, not the luxurious one, not now, but someday yes surely even luxury would fall on my platter. But when somebody else gets that perfect job, perfect house, perfect lifestyle, like perfect everything, I am torn. So you understand I am not that “Seeing everyone happy makes me happy types”. Somebody does something extraordinary I am automatically turned to “Competitive mode”. I work by the simple funda “Why him not me”. And I slog and slog and slog till I have achieved it, and at that very moment after a two minute triumph, I feel deflated, pondering “Was it worth it”. I don’t think through completely. And my husband, where do I even start, he is the most laid back person, my total opposite; he for one would never understand my competitive and obsessive streak.
I want to appreciate things, as much as I have, right now and not fret about more, want to be like the serene ascetic monk who gives away all, appreciate life the way it is, make today count. I don’t want to look at other people’s life and go “Awwwww” but be happy in my simple life. But trust me it is not me. Take out the competitive streak out of me and I am a dull, boring, vapid, insipid creation of god. I cannot live like that and am I wrong?

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So I want to believe that this is not an illness just a stupid flu bug that comes and goes, but trust me when it does come, it creeps through my body and keeps pinching me every second. I have tried a lot to mellow this absolutely useless, merciless, covetous, not malicious, but irritating and at times nauseating trait of mine. I am not completely proud of it but yes it gives my character, the fuel to go on and never stop, it keeps in the game always. I want to believe it is natural, that many feel this way, that I am not a B***H here all together. So please if anyone feels this way share it with me so I can feel less guilty ;). (Though secretly I am proud of it).

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Not Being The Conventional Female : Torn Between Good or Bad

I don’t know how many of you are fan of Jhumpa Lahiri as a writer, but I for one am a big fan of what she writes. I still remember reading “The Namesake” when I was nearly 14 years old and crying at the end of almost every chapter. This was what Jhumpa is capable of doing to me.

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I recently finished her latest book “The Lowland”, and surprisingly I finished it within two weeks (Given that I am a working mother of a toddler, trust me it is commendable  ). And God was I engrossed in this one, totally. I probably need a week before I can take up anything else to read, to remain immersed in the sheer joy and sorrows of all the characters in the book. It was an interesting read, a page turner for sure. It had the typical Jhumpa backdrop of a scholar Kolkata boy reaching America, deciding to stay on, parents back in India, having a new generation to raise, torn between the odds but refusing to go back. But this time around the female protagonist was not the regular saree wearing, long haired, abiding to rituals and traditions, longing for her children to stay Indianized despite staying in the US female, but a young girl who reaches US in the most turbulent times of her life, a widow married to her brother in-law and carrying a child from her first marriage who decides to forego all behind and start afresh.

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The female in the story is Gauri and her character intrigued me, she is portrayed as somebody you can easily end up abhorring during the course of the book, but her character is more complex than that. As the chapter unfolds I found multitude of dimensions to her character. She is raised by her grandparents with her brother amongst her uncles and aunts and her cousins, falls in love with Udyaan who is a Naxalite Activist and is killed during the course of his struggle, Udyaan’s brother Subhash who is settled in the US decides to marry her and take her to the US as she is expecting Udyaan’s child and his parents have not been very accepting of Gauri ever since her first marriage. She ends up in the US and though acclimatizing herself is not a big issue but her personality is. She chops off her long hair, wears trousers in place of sarees, walks out of her house and family to make her own identity. In the process she leaves Subhash and her daughter Bela to find her identity. By the end of the story she realizes she is alone but this is the life she has made for herself which she accepts and lives with it.

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So her character gets a lot of thrash from the readers as she tries to break through the premises of the orthodox Indian society of being the perfect Indian wife, daughter-in-law, and mother. She is daring and willing to break the norms of the society. Fearless at heart she decides to live life at her own terms, and pay the price. At the end she is depicted as a loser, nowhere in life which only emphasis on the fact that perhaps living the conventional way is the only way to happiness for an Indian female. It bewilders me; I want to believe that her circumstances were such that she became such an unconventional female. A troubled childhood, a husband who lied to her and got himself involved in anti-government activities, risking his life, not once thinking how it would affect her life, she ignorantly gets herself involved in the murder of a policeman who has a toddler son on the behest of her husband. I feel she punishes herself of taking away a father from a child by moving out of her daughter’s life. She marries her brother in-law in an attempt to escape the city which has taken away all she had. So her act of rebellion is marked by a lot of incidents happening in her course of life. What we see is how callously she leaves her family to be on her own, but she has gone through a lot to finally have a life for herself. Having the child was not her choice, and not necessarily she was molded to be a mother. And is it not OK to not to want the conventional life of being a wife, mother, daughter in-law. Why is it not OK to just break free and flee?
I am no way justifying what Gauri did, it was wrong at many levels for her to leave her 12 year old daughter who looked up to her, her husband who had accepted her amongst all odds. But probably she was not carved for this role, she could have continued living like that trying to be the immaculate wife and mother but a bit of her would have died every day. She could not blame anyone for all the wrong that happened to her, but I feel there was absolutely no way we could discard her emotions, her turmoil. She made decisions for herself, wrong or right she lived with them, probably she regretted them by the end, but she had made the decisions for with which she could be content. She did not want anyone to set the rules for her, not anymore. So I feel that women who choose to live their life differently should be allowed and not condemned. Somehow a boy is allowed all the eccentricities he wants to indulge in but girls are expected to be all nice. Frankly why should boys have all the fun?

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Overall I loved the book I loved all the characters, the story line, the flow of text. I enjoyed it and would eagerly wait for the next one from Jhumpa .

The Much Hullabaloo About HIMYM

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Ahhhh and the Finale finally aired, the suspense over the mother finally over. Every fan could now finally let out a sigh of relief. But I can see that not many have liked it, not many are happy about the ending, “the famous television series did not get the deserved ending”, many say. What started in 2005 as a quest for the “Mother”, ended abruptly. All the character development seemed futile, because probably we always knew that Ted was hopelessly in love with Robin for like Forever, Marshall and Lily were the cute little married couple who we always knew intended to have many kids, and of course Barney is Legendary, he cannot change his way and settle. Well we knew all this from the very beginning, so in simple words there was no closure to any character.

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I am a huge FRIENDS fan, always was, always will be, but when my brother introduced me to this one, not to say it was a refreshing change, I was O.K. with it, I always said that it could not have replaced FRIENDS, and there can be and should not be any comparisons. HIMYM was different, it had an invigorating way of storytelling, the characters were less guarded than FRIENDS, the first few seasons were fantastic, the latter were mediocre, but every now and then there were moments, moments we enjoyed and cherished, made us want to watch more.

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And so finally the end came, and the mother was revealed, the much hullabaloo was over, and the critic’s caps were worn again. The internet right now is swamped with criticism for the end, the writers are thronged, and viewers are upset, no one seems happy. But I say its O.K. whatever has happened, it’s an end of an ERA again, for me at least, and I am sure for my brother too. Bitter sweet it was again a learning experience, taught me again that life moves on, we are not young forever, there is so much to look forward to, so much to do. Definitely the moments spent in the past with friends, family, first workplace, are cherished, but they are not meant to remain that way forever, no matter how much we desire them to remain unchanged. We always think life is NOW, but that now is not constant. When Robin told Lily that everyone is moving on and life is not the same easy going, young people anymore, I pondered, what she said was right. We are growing each day, and life is moving on. I ponder on the last nine years of my life now once the series are over, and I have come a long way too, I was unmarried when it aired, I am now married and have a toddler. My brother was in school and now he is working. So we have seen a lot during the span of this series.

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When the music “Ta ta da da, ta da, da” blared for the last time, I reckoned that I won’t be hearing it again, of course I will find new series to watch, but it meant an end of another ERA after friends for me, I was not a huge fan, but these are a few things that I will probably carry to my old age, these were my days. Another generation will come and watch series of their times, but all these will remain close to my heart. I had cried when friends had ended, did not when HIMYM did, but nevertheless, a part of me was sad. It might have not been the perfect ending; there are many articles which are still writing about it. It might not have developed any characters at the end, might have given a very depressing ending, might have annoyed many, but for me in the end all that mattered was that it ended, and left with me in my heart a little void which I know will soon fill up. Of course I will not be thinking about it day and night, I thought about it for about half hour after it was over, but yes I will always remember, Marshall, Lily, Ted, Robin, Barney, for the people they were, the friendship they shared, their awesome McLaren’s moments, the playbook, bluehorn, apartment, dopplegangers, Patrice, yellow umbrella and everything else. It was not Absolutely but also nothing less than a LEGENDARY experience. With all the ups and downs I cherished it.

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