Begin Again…

“We never really grow up, We only learn how to act in public!” Bryan White

So a few days back I happened to see an inspiring video of a 106 year old man called Fauja Singh who started running at the age of 89! And went on to become the first 100 year old to complete a marathon! Would you believe me if I told you he started walking at the age of 5? And that he was teased as a kid because of his extremely weak and thin legs? He decided one day that he wanted to run in a marathon and run he did!!

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Have you ever wondered what is it that makes us truly happy? I’m not talking about things which give us a temporary high like say watching a movie or shopping online.

As we grow up and start being adults, we forget about what it was to just do something for pure pleasure. We become so busy in our life earning money, buying a house, buying a car, finding best school for our kids, shopping for clothes endlessly throughout the year not to forget the most important thing in our life staring at our phone!!

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Question is not whether Money is important or not. Money is important! That’s a fact of life. And we need it to keep life going. Question is.. how are we spending it??

Take a break. Stop and think for a moment… Will it make much of a difference if you drive a Toyota instead of a BMW? If your kids go to say a public school rather than a fancy private school charging say Rs 15000 just for the admission form? Or if your house is say a little far away from the city than you’d hoped?

Fauja Singh found out that he liked running at 89… well he got to be 89! We don’t know how long we are going to live. If we die tomorrow, we may never find out. I realize this is sounding like a dialogue from ‘Zindagi na milegi dobara’! But I’m not talking about travelling to exotic locations and splurging away to glory. I’m talking about simple things which can be squeezed into our daily routine… say once a week or over a weekend.

When we were kids, we had to practically beg our parents to enroll us for a hobby course whether it was karate, painting, tabla, skating or tennis. Half the time the course wasn’t available or was too expensive to afford so it never really was pursued.images_w684h684_Couple-playing-tennis_crop3

One advantage of adulthood is the independence that comes with it! So why should adulthood mean that we give up on all that we were passionate about when we were kids.

My mother was interested in learning dance when she was a kid. She never got an opportunity as she came from a tiny village in Goa. So she enrolled me in Bharatanatyam (which I didn’t really enjoy, but did it anyway). I was always interested in Martial arts but didn’t get to pursue it because we barely had any coaching centres then, so I have enrolled my son for a martial arts class (luckily he enjoys it very much).

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You see what happens when we don’t get to do what we wanted as children. We end up making our kids live our own childhood!

Why not be children again and learn what we didn’t get to as kids? Age is finally just a number, right? I strongly believe you can learn anything at any age. Over the last 3 years I enrolled myself in a sketching class where I go into a trance for a good 2 hours, A virtual classroom for learning Sanskrit language, A cross-fitness class, Zumba and Tennis. Learning new things at every stage of life keeps the spark alive. You start feeling like you can do much more than just earn a livelihood. You feel young and energetic again!

Agreed. Quitting my job and starting a business means I have a lot more time at my hands than what I would have had otherwise. But for those who have a full time job, what are weekends for?

What is it that many urban families do over weekends? Go to the Malls, go ‘Pub-hopping’ (whatever that means!) or go drinking with friends or binge-watch some series on Netflix… Think about it, does it add anything to your life? Sure it’s fun you’ve had a few drinks and shared a few laughs with colleagues or companions! You’re done watching the latest season of ‘Orange is the new black’ and the weekend is over! 48 hours of your finite life… gone! Poof! But does it give you lasting happiness? There’ll be another cocktail in town in the latest pub in the city, and the newest seasons of Narcos and GOT will be released. And you’ll have had that drink and watched those seasons too…and then what?

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Now fast forward 20 years of your life and imagine yourself in your life then… Assuming you are 35 now, you’ll be a 55 year old person who has worked his ass off for your bosses at a job, made a lot of money, invested in the right stocks and mutual funds. But how much did you invest in yourself?

With the current health scenario in India, and with all that junk food, alcohol and couch time in your youth – chances are you’ll probably be a 55 year old with some lifestyle disease in 20 years.

I agree sometimes you do feel like it’s too late in the day – like say learning classical music. You may feel that you are the only adult in a class of 5 year olds! It’s a real issue. But believe it or not, nobody cares! The only person who cares is YOU! And you are here to learn! You are adding a skill to your life.You are enriching your life…and in a few months you will know something more (a skill, a sport or an art) than you do now! So, If anything YOU should be proud!!

When I went for the sketching class, I had told my teacher that I needed to learn from scratch! She even taught me how to hold the pencil!  And although I know my sketches are mediocre, I’m still better than I was yesterday! The first step towards learning something new is saying that “I don’t know it but I will”!!

Find out who you are underneath…

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So whatever age you are at now, NOW  is the time to start whatever it is you left unfinished..

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Friends and other drugs

“Lying thinking last night

How to find my soul a home

Where water is not thirsty

And bread loaf is not stone

I came up with one thing and i don’t believe I’m wrong

That Nobody, but nobody can make it out here all alone…”  Maya Angelou

My neighbour Nivedita aunty had not been quite herself for the past few days.  As someone who smiles a lot and invites everyone inside for tea, something seemed out of place. When i asked her if everything was okay, she said that her best friend for the past 35 years was moving to another city.
In all these years that they were together they had spent more time with each other than their own families!

They got married almost at the same time, had kids at the same time and had always lived within five minutes commute of each other. They had had kitties, went shopping, and now in their senior years would go to the temple together.

Life without her dear friend was unimaginable. Kids had grown up, the husbands were being…well husbands. And now nothing she did felt the same as before. The opinion that she trusted was no longer going to be available. Sure she was just a phone call away but how often do you call a person in a day? Sure they would meet again …once a month? Once in 3 months? who knew!

They say when it comes to true friendships, it doesn’t matter how far you live. Truth be told…it does matter.  How many experiences can be had over the phone? Non verbal communication is almost as important, if not more, as verbal. Sometimes it’s just enough for a friend to be there in the same room where u can be yourself… laugh, cry or just do nothing without being judged.
So here’s the deal, we all need friends at every stage of our active social life.. people who stay away from making friends are some of the loneliest souls on the planet.

I had very diverse set of classmates. Some studious, weird, mean, funny, serious and some outright hilarious!

I always wanted to have a best friend when I was in school. Someone like say ‘Diana Barry’ from ‘Anne of Green Gables’…but I just didn’t meet the right person! Best friends have to be soul mates too!!

So  I was stuck reading books, watching movies like ‘Badhti ka naam dadhi’(not made up! Seriously google it) on cable and basically getting bored to death. I didn’t even go for the school picnic in 10th grade! I mean who misses a school picnic?! Who would I have enjoyed it with? So I never understood what it was to have a group of friends or a best friend to whisper secrets into each others ears or to laugh like crazy for no reason for a very long time.

When I joined University for my Masters I met a girl who although had taken the same major as I did, couldn’t have been more different from me.. Our Political, religious leanings were diametrically opposite. Our taste in music, movies or books was as different as could be.

What we shared was the dislike for one particular girl at the hostel!

She had the most despicable habits. Her arch enemy was the bathroom. She wouldn’t bathe for days at end. And it was absolutely impossible to be in the same room as her. She was mean and manipulative…Not just that she was also a cheapskate. She came from a pretty wealthy family but always bought the knockoffs of the original products. Even some common items, for example she would buy a mango drink called “MAA” or a fake chocolate bar called “DAILY MILK” instead of the real deal, just to save up on a few bucks. We both thought that was pretty hilarious at that point!

That was perhaps when I realised that the basis of our friendship was our sense of humour which was, to be frank, quite pathetic and what’s more… it matched!

So we just hit it off from there! I had found my very own ‘Diana Barry’.  We ate together, studied together, laughed together, Also In 3 months she moved in my hostel room so we were together 24/7. We had the best 2 years at the university!

Things change after marriage. You move away from the place that you grew up in, you leave behind all your acquaintances that you made in your lifetime, and painfully lose touch with people you thought were part and parcel of your life. Whatever free time you have now(at least for the first few years) you feel like spending it with your husband!

But who do you go to when your husband ticks you off? Or better still your dear in laws?

I started teaching at a college right after my marriage. Although the management’s style of running things was debatable, my colleagues filled my life with colour! One of the reasons I looked forward to going to work was so I could meet them and talk to them. We were a group of five and each of us had something different to offer to the gang. Every free minute that we got together was filled with jokes and laughter. There wasn’t ever a dull moment!

When I had my son it felt like I was the only person going through motherhood. I felt like such a victim! That’s before I met two other victims of motherhood. We cribbed together about everything …our jobs that we all quit simultaneously,  about cooking and how much we hated being in the kitchen and of course about kids and how to keep our sanity. Also a lot of other things i cannot mention in a blog… you get the picture.

Lucky for us our kids who are almost the same age became best friends too! So we get to hang out a lot more than had it been otherwise.

They have become the drugs I cannot live without!

Even our kids, who I must mention fight regularly, cannot do without each other. Every time they meet its like ‘Bharat Milaap’!
So what happens when one of us moves to another location or city and ends up like Nivedita aunty? It’s very difficult to imagine.

Difficult as it is to make friends, it is imperative that we all make more and more friends. One can meet and make new friends anywhere. At a gym or when you go to pick your kid up at school or when you buy vegetables at a common market place or your colony play area. All you have to do is have a conversation. You may or may not like everybody obviously! But imagine missing out on a great connection just because you were too shy to talk or arrogant enough to think that you don’t need any.

I believe no matter where we live or who we are, women are the same everywhere. They have the same issues, same problems and we connect with each other in a very organic way if only we keep our egos aside. Each friend may have something unique to offer. One may offer great family advice, some other may be great at fitness or other may have a sound business sense.

After a point it will not matter how much money you have or how big your car is or how fine your home is. So before you reach an age where you regret not meeting new people and making new acquaintances when you could have, Make as many new acquaintances as you can and atleast a few close friends. You’ll be surprised to find out the joy and laughter you have been missing out on.

Arrivederci!! Adios!