Parking My Stress

Vienna tree and sky

Lately, I have discovered a fabulous way to beat stress. It isn’t a novel idea by any means, but I didn’t know how therapeutic it could be until I started doing it regularly.

I go to the park and let my mind wander. I walk briskly for a few minutes, exercising my arms and legs (and trying out cool new moves I see fitness freaks practising). Then, I let myself sit on the bench in the early morning sunshine, listen to the chirping birds freshly woken from sleep, and pamper my feet with the luxury that is dew. I don’t look at my phone; I don’t inspect any to-do lists; no calls or messages are entertained. Frequently, I don’t even listen to music but prefer to tune in to the natural orchestra: whistling winds, birdies cooing in the distance, lightly rumbling thunder forecasting more rain in Pune, rustling leaves swaying in the breeze. Continue reading

Please Stop Telling People You’ve OCD

Whenever I open my social media accounts or flip through a magazine, I find someone who has “come out” about his/her mental illness. People own up to being depressed, anxious, psychotic. It takes immense courage to accept something like that, even more so when you’re a public figure whose every action will be scrutinised. I have nothing but respect for anyone who has the courage to fight against their mental health condition and come out tops. But I have nothing but distaste and disgust for anyone who knows zilch about mental illness but claims to “have it” nonetheless, trivialising everything it means, assuming it is somewhat cool or stands for an attractive aspect of their personality. Continue reading

The Nosey Gang

NoseyThey sneak up on you when you least expect them to. You are sitting cozily in a park, soaking in the morning sunshine and the beauty of the quiet, when their jarring voices blare from behind you:

“Do you have a day off? Where is your husband? Where is your kid? Did you put on weight? Is that a blackhead on your nose? Have you been arguing with your domestic help?”

Continue reading

Lazy Weekends are Hard Work

Morning coffee

It is a quiet Saturday morning. On my table are a fragrant cup of coffee and my favourite cookie. On my laptop is the wallpaper of a far-off land, somewhere with woods and lakes and song-birds, far away from the heat and grime I can sense is building up outside. Since it is a weekend morning, the housing society seems fairly quiet; utensils aren’t clanking in kitchens, and cars aren’t speeding off to offices and colleges.

At this time of the weekend, I feel lovely. The day stretches out lazily in front, full of potential. Yes, there are to-do lists to get through. (Thanks to my obsessive tendencies, these lists are often extremely detailed and super long.) But surely we don’t need to get on with them yet. I can soak in the quiet of the morning for a little longer as the day wakes up properly… Continue reading

Karma, Please Wake Up

Karma cartoonHis children grew up terrified of him. He expected them to be eager little readers who understood and appreciated Kafka in primary school. Which six-year-old likes to play with mud and cement anyway, or worse—dolls?! His wife remained traumatised for as long as she lived; it seemed she could never learn to cook or do chores as “they should be done”. Today, he lives with a couple of servants in a big house—inherited, we hear—and has successfully and healthily outlived half a dozen family members. Worse: the 65-year-old man doesn’t look a day older than 45. Continue reading

Jailed

All around me, so many people seem to be jailed outside conventional prisons. Indeed, in some ways, I am too.

I see colleagues open their tiffin boxes at lunchtime and whine about the chickpea-salad and spinach rolls they “HAVE” to eat. It is essential, they claim, to eat skinny food to lose weight, even though it makes them feel suffocated.

I watch as people suck up to their bosses, laughing at unfunny jokes, and staying back in the office after everyone has left to build a painstaking semblance of perseverance and dedication. It is a jail that they claim leads to better appraisals; well-versed with the work culture in many Indian organisations, I cannot even argue against this. Continue reading

I Don’t Know Where They Have Gone

Swing on the porch

“It has become really hot in Delhi. Perhaps, he likes to stay inside the house.”

“The weather never bothered him before.”

“Have you looked carefully in the park when you go for your evening walk?”

“He isn’t there. He isn’t in the bank, the market or the post office either.”

I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. My grandfather went on: “He has disappeared, just like everyone else. Only I remain.” Continue reading

Hair, Let Me Jump to Conclusions

Schonbrunn Palace Vienna

Sometime last year, I decided to chop off my hair. Not completely, but I started wearing it much shorter. It was summer in Pune, and this once mild Maharashtrian city now experiences crazy heat (it is already upwards of 41 degrees even though it is only the first week of April). I figured a shorter hairstyle would be easier to manage in the heat, quicker to style, and would also give me a new look. Nothing like a change in hairstyle to get an instant makeover, you know? Plus, if I wanted to sport shorter hair, surely I could, considering it was MY hair. I wasn’t hurting anyone, not even my hair follicles.

Turns out, a LOT of people are very interested in the length of hair a woman decides to keep. Continue reading

Glaring at People

“She cannot participate in the drawing competition,” the woman in charge declared. “It is the rule.”

“It is the rule that my granddaughter cannot participate in your competition?”

The woman scoffed. “No, dada, the age group is 5–8 years. Your granddaughter is much older. Many parents have complained.”

“Oh,” said my grandfather. “In that case, you wasted my time. You should have declared in advance that tall kids are not allowed, even if they are well within the age range.”

He had said that out rather loudly, and some of the people gathered nearby glared. They looked at me up and down as I held on to my grandfather’s hand, clutching my drawing board and colour-box that I wouldn’t get to use that morning. She must be well past the age-range, they surmised. Look at her grown-up body language. Look at her clothes. Continue reading