A person called Home

What is home? Cliché will tell you that home is where the heart is, quirky pop culture posts will tell you things like ‘home is where the chai is’, and urban philosophers will tell you home is a myth and is only an elusive idea.

For me though, home is a person. Perhaps, a place becomes home because of the people I experience it with.
For the longest time, Bangalore was my home. It still is, in so many senses of the word.
But Bangalore is not home only because I grew up there. Bangalore is not home only because my parents and friends live there. Bangalore is not home only because I went to school and worked there.
As much as it is about the nooks and corners of Bangalore itself, it is also that much more about the people I spent time with at said places.
Home is Sunday morning breakfasts at Adigas because amma would wake up feeling lazy to cook on Sunday mornings and Yesha and I would end up walking to Adigas to pack idlis for home.
Home is ginger chai and banana cake at Chai Point because it is over these countless cups of chai that Pri and I took life changing decisions.
Home is long walks around Dollar’s Colony because Su and I walked through these streets discussing what life will turn out to be.
Home is Vada and Chutney at Veena Stores because Sid and I would take off from work and start our relaxed mornings with the yummy food there and continue to walk the beautiful streets of Malleshwaram.

And over a reflection a couple days ago, I realized that Pune is steadily becoming home as well. And it was a very comforting realization that, true to my nature, I have found people who have been instrumental in making this place home. People whom I have found a home in.

Pune is German Bakery because it is here that Dee and I held after school catharsis sessions.
Pune is the lemon grass tea at Third Wave because it is over these afternoons with T that I realized what kind of teacher I want to be for my kids.
Pune is chaat and shopping at MG road because it is here where Dee and I reconnected after months.
Pune is that one tree on the way to school that we stopped under, just for a moment, to say that we love each other.

And I am finding more reasons every day to embrace this city as home because the of the people I found here.

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Metamorphosis

Last year, around this time, I made a decision that changed my entire life. Well, at least for the foreseeable future it has. It was a bright sunny day and I was on my way to work; the usual debacle of a two and a half hour long bus ride. Of course, I progressed into my usual spiral of thoughts of existentialism and worthlessness. Mind you, this had become an everyday ritual for me. It then hit me that this isn’t going to change unless I make a serious change in the way I was tackling my professional life.

Teaching is something I have had my eyes on for quite some time now. During university, I loved teaching dance and would jump at the first opportunity to teach that came my way. I just never considered it a serious professional path I could pursue. However, on that bus ride that sunny morning, when I finally decided that I’d had enough and wanted to do something more worthwhile with my life, teaching was the first thing that came to my mind. And just like that, it felt like a load had been lifted off my chest.

Now, it might seem all rosy. Because how difficult could it be to act upon it when you know what you want to do, right? Extremely difficult, to say the least. To voluntarily pull yourself out of a comfortable, secure and “promising” job, only to pursue something supremely difficult and uncomfortable is a herculean task in itself. And doing it with very little emotional support from people around you is even more difficult.

From deciding to move out of home, to applying for the job I wanted, to trying to get my parents onboard with my idea, to quitting my job, it has been a roller coaster ride. Some of these tiny battles, I have won. But some of them, I have lost. However, now that I am finally on the verge of moving out of home, I know that it will be worth it.

I have a lot of apprehensions moving out of the one place I’ve lived all my life. As the day comes closer, I feel more and more nervous about it. However, there is a sense of fulfilment and calm now. I am finally in a place where I know what I’m getting into and actually want to see myself through it.

Strength

We tend to have a very weird, one-dimensional definition of strength. We associate physical strength with being muscular and bulky and lifting a hundred kilos. We associate mental strength with stoicism and knowing how to deal with everything. But here’s the thing. Asking for help is a fine display of strength. Showing your emotions openly? That’s strong as well. Being human and having vulnerabilities and embracing said vulnerabilities is strong.

I have spent way too many precious years of my like having an absolutely juvenile idea about strength. I have spent way too many hours crying behind closed doors, thinking that I would look weak if someone saw me sobbing like that. I have spent so much of my life treating my strength like a fragile little glass vase at the edge of the table, which could fall at the blink of an eye and shatter into a million pieces.
Not anymore though. I’ve come to realise that my strengths lie in my vulnerabilities; in my heartbreaks (and subsequent suffering), in my unsuccessful dance performances and failed exams. My strength lies in all the trials and all the errors. Because I survived and emerged from all of them, did I not? I figured a way to deal with all my shortfalls. Yes, I spent hours crying and cursing myself for all the botched experiments of life. But that’s the thing about strength. It’s in these moments of doubt, contempt, sorrow and melancholia that I find immense strength. Dealing with these things while functioning daily as an adult is no walk in the park; it takes immense strength.

It might be time to change the kind of notions that we associate with strength. Maybe we should consider a display of our weaknesses as a strength? Maybe we should step away from associating emotional strength with stoicism? Maybe we should try and look at the strength in our vulnerabilities?

Afraid

Heartbreaks are a necessary part of growing up. They really shape a person’s character. They make you wary of people around you. And, most importantly, they make you a stronger version of yourself. This is what I’ve assimilated after reading countless articles and books about the topic.

And I agree with this. I don’t think heartbreaks are a “necessary” part of growing up. But they teach you a plethora of things. I know I am the person today due to all the heartbreak I’ve suffered.

Now I understand that not all heartbreaks stem from break ups or getting dumped. But I’d mostly like to talk about that kind of heartbreak. And after having had my fair share of this version of a heartbreak, I have unfortunately emerged as an afraid human being.

The heartbreaks that I’ve been through have led me to build walls around me. And I’m too afraid to let anyone surpass these walls. It scares me to put my trust and faith in someone. And it scares me even more to expect an individual to be there for me because, what if I’m eating up too much of their time? What if I don’t mean anything to them? Am I sharing too much? Am I asking for too much? To put it in a nutshell, I’m afraid to fall in love.

I’m too scared to feel things for someone. So I avoid it by holding them at a safe distance. Maybe because I don’t think I can feel so deeply anymore. Maybe I can’t be happily in love with them. It’s too daunting a thought. And I honestly do not think my fragile heart can take another heartbreak.

But hey, they say heartbreaks are a necessary part of growing up. They must know what they’re talking about, right?

Riveting Content I Found

I recently read an article about how one must always try and reach out for books above their “level” of reading. And it made complete sense to me. How else will I begin to indentify new things that might interest me? How else will I enhance my vocabulary? How else will I venture into uncharted territory?

The article is extremely helpful. Along with telling one how to increase their reading level, the article also talks about why it’s important.

A real thinker, this one. Find the article here: https://medium.com/personal-growth/how-to-digest-books-above-your-level-and-increase-your-intelligence-a11bd134da13

Happy List

A few days ago, I went on a spree of reading “ways to make 2018 ACTUALLY better” articles. And boy, did I go to town with it! But a particular point in one of these many many articles interested me. And it was to encourage yourself and others to make a “happy list”. It is pretty straight forward. Make a list of things that make you truly happy. And, of course, the list is non exhaustive. You can keep adding to it as and when you discover the little things you enjoy.

And I made a tiny list of my own. This was supposed to be personal. But as I was making this list, I realised it’s extremely fun. And I thought “why not share it with other humans around the world?”. 

Also, the reason I decided to list these things down is so I could take notice of the small details of my life that make me happy; and help me realise that there is so much in the world to be grateful for. 

1. The first sip of chai every morning that tends to set the mood for the rest of the day. 

2. That drop of sweat that drips of my nose during an intense workout. 

3. Looking at my best friend walk up to me at work every morning and hearing her go “Holaaaa”. She’s a goofball, that girl! 

4. Buying presents for people. 

5. Receiving the “out for delivery” message on a book I ordered online. And actually receiving said book, of course. 

6. Booking an Uber only to find out he’s a perfect “three minutes away”. Not too far. Not too close. 

7. The tiny sense of accomplishment I feel after the seven floor climb to my desk at work. 

8. Listening to mom talk about something funny that happened at her work place. 

9. The excitement I feel when I see my friend write her latest blog post. 

10. The sheer joy of walking into a dance rehearsal. 

What dance has taught me

Having learnt and practiced the art form for almost two decades, Bharatanatyam has shaped me into the person I am today. It has influenced me in every way possible. Right from the way I walk, to the way my thoughts and opinions are formed. Identifying myself as a dancer, I owe the art form my entire existentence. 

One of the foremost things that I realised dance has done is help me become more disciplined. Hours of meticulous practice have taught me that making and following a regular routine can do wonders for you. It has taught me the importance of making plans and sticking to it. Countless rehearsals and stage runs have given me an impeccable sense of time as well. 

Planning a dance performance involves a plethora of tasks. The invites, the lights, the stage decor, the music ensemble, the guests, the costumes and the list goes on. And after having done this for a while, I have realised that planning things out and having a plan B (C, D and E sometimes) goes a really long way. It has also taught me to think on my feet and to be quick executing said thoughts. 

Dance has taught me to appreciate the rich culture that our country has. The breathtaking Hindustani and Carnatic music, the beautiful temple architecture, the brilliantly composed epics and poems by Indian authors and saints. It has taught me to appreciate and see the beauty in the artforms; not just those belonging to India but those of the world as well. 

Dance has a huge role to play in the way I walk, talk and dress. My theatrical hand gestures, my over expressive face, my extreme love for Indian clothes and jewellery, all thanks to dance. 

Teaching dance to a room full of enthusiastic preteens has taught me to have immense patience and also a thing or two about dealing with children. It has taught me to respect them and has also made me realise that they are extremely impressionable and they’re really quick learners. 

Dance has taught me that art is a human act. It is ephemeral, yet capable of having an everlasting impression. It has taught me to be mindful of people and their pursuits; artistic or otherwise. It has taught me that it’s completely okay to take risks. Art, after all, is reckless like that. It has taught me to be generous and be carefree. It has taught me to make art. 

But most importantly, dance has taught me to have a firm head on my shoulders. Dance has taught me to live.