My First Mistake

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My first mistake is about this one person I loved, my first love. After five years, my first mistake. Five years is the maximum time I have ever taken to realize that something I did was a mistake. It has taken me a year now to admit it finally that indeed my first love was my first mistake.

‘I let go of the relationship because I wasn’t able to make music. I wasn’t able to do something I am passionate about though I gave in a lot of efforts.’ A friend said when I asked about his past relationship.

He later adds that how he has learned to make better decisions about relationships. He believes that if being in a relationship somehow mentally stops you from doing what you love then there is something wrong.

I couldn’t have agreed more. Today a lot of people know me as a person who writes and who loves to travel. I wasn’t able to do this when I was in a relationship. Two years back when I first went with my cousin on a trek was my first step out of the relationship. This year when I challenged myself to write poems over prose is when I completely got myself out of the mistake.

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Your body knows when it is comfortable with someone or no, listen to it.

‘I learned how to express. I learned how to tell someone what I felt even if it meant to hurt them. I hurt him a lot, but I had to say what I felt, if I didn’t it would be worse.’ A friend expressed when asked about her learning from a relationship.

This is something I didn’t do. I never spoke what I felt in the relationship. I am as a person expressive mostly when I am happy. I can’t express anything when I am low. I ignored things that hurt me and blasted happiness on the ones that made me feel good. If you are reading this, please do not do this. Express everything you feel good or bad.

My first love was a mistake because I took the decision to be with someone too early. I was very young and I just let myself let go in it. I kept feeling something was wrong but only figured what was wrong too late.

A relationship can work only if you feel right about it. I always felt it was a mistake and it turned out to be one. But I am glad I have admitted it to myself that it was a mistake and figured out what exactly was wrong. I am glad that I have learned something and grown as a person. I only hope to not repeat the mistake and find someone right when it’s the right time.

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My First Snow Trek

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I had many beautiful experiences this summer. I have learned double fold from each experience. Brighu Lake Trek which I did in May 2017 with Wilson College Nature Club was one such experience.

Brighu Lake in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh has an elevation of 4300 meters (14,100ft). It is said to be named after Maharishi Brighu, one of the seven great sages. The lake is to the east of Rohtang Pass and Gulaba is the nearest village.

We walked to first base camp on first day, then to the second the next day. On the third day we did Brighu and came back to our first base camp. Doing this trek in three days as planned was an achievement for the group as well as a mental and physical success for me.

 

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‘Little motivation goes a long way’

 

I and a few others walked ahead almost the entire two days when we climbed to the first and the second base camp. It was green, there were streams, and everything was serene. The guide who was with us, Yuvraj gave me a tag line. ‘Chhota(small) height, big fight’ as I look small but kept walking ahead without expecting breaks instead helping him guide all.

He noticed the evident fear on my face on the day of Brighu climb and kept saying that even if I wish to, my shoes won’t let me fall. My shoe grip was perfect for this trek. My face still had fear written all over it.

‘Junko Tabei, from Japan is the first women to climb Everest and also the first women to climb the highest peak on each continent. You look small like her only. You can be her, common Junko, kare le(do it)’ I smiled and kept walking. This motivation helped me in the most difficult part of the trek.

On the third day when we began climbing Brighu I began with confidence but soon fear overruled. Trekking on snow made me face my biggest fear-death.

I do trek otherwise on mountains around Maharashtra and so was confident. But, soon realised the confidence trekking in Maharashtra came from the fact that if I slip from a mountain, I might fall in place, or roll down and break a bone but won’t die. Slipping in snow can cause death for sure as no one knows where or when I’ll stop.

I was in the middle of the climb when I slipped on melted ice. ‘Aah, I am slipping, I’ll die, help, help, help’ I almost cried howling. I could see white death bed to the left side where I was slipping. I panicked.

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‘It’s all in your head, the fear and the confidence.’

Mustafa (centre) who was ahead came rushing in. ‘I can’t move, I’ll slip, I’ll fall, there is melted ice everywhere, where do I get grip’ I said, still howling.

‘Just move your rambler stick a bit ahead and take a big step towards my leg, that’s it, I have caught you, don’t panic’ he said. It wasn’t easy but I did as he said. I dodged the white dead bed. I faced the fear, I survived. I walked further and reached the best part of it all.

Now the white death bed to my left and become a slide front of me0l. We had to move in the same direction as the slope, so we glided. I realised the difference between slipping and sliding. Since, I was ahead I had the fun slide twice. Now, the confidence overruled.

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‘Group over individual’

‘I’ll take the rest and start moving down. You guys reach the summit and head back soon.’ Anish Cheta (photo credit Sandesh Lad) said when Brighu was hardly few minutes away.

‘It will take hardly some time; don’t miss it after coming so close to it.’ Yuvraj our guide said as we all echoed him.

‘I have seen the lake the last time I had come here. Sir has asked me to do the right thing for the group. By the time you guys come I’ll take who are tired and can’t make it ahead half way down. It will save time’

We walked ahead. I think only half the number we began with, reached Brighu Lake. Some couldn’t do because of their shoes, some because of their fears. I saw the lake, it was beautiful. I couldn’t believe I made it. The lake was frozen but my eyes had water flowing. I felt blessed at the moment but there was a bigger lesson in store as we walked down.

There was a flashback of my climb to the first base camp till the last step reaching Brighu Lake playing in my head. I realized how selfish I had been. I enjoyed the breeze, the stream and felt serene while there were people struggling the entire time. And Cheta(means elder brother) let all the efforts taken to reach Brighu let go when it was hardly a while away, for the group.

I felt horrible. I decided to change this. I saw a girl struggling right ahead of me. I took it upon me that I’ll get her safely down. I decided to use my new found confidence and learning into practice. I tried to motivate her and helped her, the entire snow walk down. When we reached the first base camp, I felt better, at peace, grown as a person from within.

Brighu Lake will always be special for me as my first snow trek. I have definitely learned double fold from this single trek, in my entire trip to Manali.

My first job

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What are your favorite childhood memories? I popped this question to few of my friends to receive a different range of answers. I was going to work over these answers, write something but then my first job happened.

My interview was smooth; it lasted a day almost as if I worked there that day too. The first time I ever cleared an interview was for junior kg school when I was hardly 4. My mother was the happiest person then and so was she now. That time the happiness was for my education, this time it was purely for the new stage in my life that this job would bring in.

‘You were a confident little girl, who spoke well and answered everything asked’ recalls my mother. I was worn out of just interviewing and had made my head for this job. I repeated this line of being confident and speaking well and did it, I got my first job.

‘The best part was you preparing for the new academic year. You would ask me to get your books in May and read a few chapters before the school begin in June, you loved to be prepared for what’s coming up,’ she added.

I don’t think I have changed. The reason why I liked to read and be prepared was because I didn’t like to take the change of an academic year in a rush.  Any change at once makes me uneasy. I wished to do my masters and my results got delayed and couldn’t get through the admission process in time. To get out of the unpleasant uncertainty of what to do since I have missed a year, I got myself this job.

‘The unsaid rule was to not hit anyone while playing, I would daily love to it hit at least someone on the road or in the opposite team and then run away,’ remembers a college friend as one of his fondest memory as a kid. Breaking rules is always a different kind of pleasure, be it said or unsaid. ‘I was a disobedient child, I took five to seven years of my life to become a good obedient one,’ adds the same friend.

My first job demands me to follow certain rules, most are bizarre and I think only a handful make sense. I feel like to rebel and be that disobedient child my school friend spoke of. He took five years to get on track, I am sure I won’t do this job that long, but hopefully get adjusted to the bizarre rules soon.

‘I miss the school routine, waking up, dressing up, eating breakfast, and walking to school’ a school friend recalls as her fond childhood memory.

My first job routine isn’t pleasant at all. I am trying to get adjusted to it. The work is yet to begin and we are being trained still. I kind of am expected to learn everything for this job in about few weeks and set it in my routine. It looks difficult but not impossible. I’ll be hopeful that I get my head trained for this job and be okay with the routine soon.

‘The classmates I had fun with, the neighbor kids I played with, I miss them all. The memories of all the games we played, festivals we celebrated have a special place in my heart’ states a friend about his childhood.

I feel the same like this friend does above, about the people I am working with. There is a girl I spent the entire interview routine with and by the end we both cleared it. Two more recently recruited boys join our training session. We are all almost same age group and share some beautiful moments training together. Overall the place we work is pretty sad but being with each other makes it easier and tolerable.


Be it any kind of uncertainty or about the first job like mine, embrace it to unravel all possibilities, like you did as a kid.

What Ladakh taught me

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One place, two people, many learning(s).

Lt Gen PJS Pannu’s speech

‘We shed our biases at the academy’

From different parts of the country with various backstories but one dream to serve the nation, many army men come to the academy. All of it is left behind when each one of them adorns the same uniform and thinks of only mission to be there for the nation no matter what.

As I noted this, I thought if  our ultimate mission as humans is to live, why live with so many biases? Prejudices based on sexuality, gender, religion, caste etc taken till the graves at times. Why can’t we all adorn the uniform of love and live for mission of humanity?

‘Souls are more powerful, soul’s achievement is the ultimate. Be more soul oriented.’

After intense training, when an army man is finally at work, he doesn’t do it for appreciation or to be rewarded later. He does it solely for his nation, for the satisfaction of his soul. It sounds difficult but one can try to not do things for appreciation or rewards but for that one thing called soul and its satisfaction. I am trying my best and learning to do things for my soul.

‘When you are badly stuck in a situation, what do you do? Quickly adapt to it, accept it and think of moving ahead’

When on the battlefield, an army man has no time to react to things but dealing with them. He has to keep moving forward, do his job. This can get more difficult when he cannot react and has to keep going even when a fellow mate dies.

I have big dreams but I have cribbed about the smallest difficulty faced. From now on, I shall try to adapt to things quicker, accepting and dealing with them than reacting to it. It can be difficult but not impossible.

This is purely an interpretation and learning taken from his speech that was given to Wilson College Nature Club on 24/5/17. Also to be noted that General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Leh, Lt Gen PJS Pannu could have easily cancelled this interaction as he had an operations meet but he didn’t. He instead had the interaction an hour earlier. 

At Abdul Kareem’s home, Turtuk

Turtuk is the last village before the Ind-Pak border. It is shown as ‘restricted area’ in the Ladakh maps available. I had about an hour to explore this village when I came across Abdul ji’s house.

He gave me and my friend a warm welcome into his house when we requested that we would like to have a small talk with him. He and his wife gave answers to whatever we asked with a smile. Abdul Kareem and his wife Hussaina Kareem have three children studying in Delhi, Chandigarh and Manali respectively while both have a living from their farm in Turtuk.

He showed us his house and both of them insisted that we had tea. We had to be on time for lunch so for the longest time we politely refused. Finally, before we left, I asked for water. I could see his wife’s eyes shine as she served us water in two shiny glasses. One could easily make out that these were specially kept for some guests.

When I left their home, I realized what a difficult life they were living but with so much grace. I could sense, they were missing their children especially Abdul ji. When we requested for a photo he insisted that I stand in between him and his wife.

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He kept a hand on my shoulder and said ‘Ab toh beti ho hamari’ while clicking the photo.

This came from a person who belongs to land where he can never go again. A land where his brother still lives to whom he can never meet or greet on phone properly. A land he was born but can never be hopeful of being buried.

Yes, Abdul Kareem and his wife belonged to Pakistan. He and his wife came to Turtuk in 1971 after war. From then, he has made a living here and he is thankful and graceful to Allah for whatever he has today and shall try to give his children the best life.

I am glad I witnessed Lt Gen PJS Pannu’s speech and also that I met Abdul Kareem and his wife. I don’t know if both these stories are linked but definitely have a lot to take back. If these stories triggered a thought, made you learn/unlearn something, do write back. Thank You!

Let’s Sip & Swap!

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Enter into a beautiful ambiance, have conversations (not chats) over books with book lovers and leave with a new book I would actually read. My kind of party? Hell yeah!

Emotions are Offline is where I dived into this idea first, where I felt there is a need for people to go offline to find meaning in life. My idea was a bit different yet the crux to get people to talk in reality was same. A week ago I witnessed this idea come to life at a Book Swap Party held at Le Cafe in Chembur.

Priyesh Thakkar, the brain behind the idea quit his job to make this event happen. It was the second time the event was taking place and they already had more than half entries expected. This made me happy as it meant there still exist people who would wish to come out, talk and convince someone to take a book, get one for self instead of lazing around on a Sunday afternoon.

My experience was special because I had a beautiful conversation over philosophy with the first person I sat with. Though I didn’t exchange my book with him, I penned down many recommendations from him. I finally got a term for the kind of reading I do thanks to a sarcastic guy I came across who called me an ’emotional reader’ and judged me big time. Yet, the conversation with him made me question and understand all the books on my bookshelf. I felt proud of what I have read back home though I felt like a stupid reader in the entire conversation.

There were many other conversations that I will dive into again and again for inspiration but this one lady I met struck a chord. She was a television writer and very easily convinced me to go back to writing my book. I owe it to her that I went back to my draft that very day.

A thought provoking movie Shut Up screened for us, became the highlight of last Sunday. The idea of the movie should be heard and spread in today’s world. If you are reading this please search for the movie, it would hardly take few minutes of your day to refresh your thought process.

Even after all this I was still a little low that I couldn’t get my book exchanged. But that day some powers wished to not let anything left undone for that one day. After the book swap party when I entered local train I met a girl I couldn’t talk at the event. I liked her book and kind of convinced her for mine.

A conversation on philosophy, bookshelf retrospection, back to my book draft, refreshed idea of freedom because of the movie and also a new book. My kind of party? Hell yeah!

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Pic Credit: Sip & Swap team. Candid shot of my beautiful conversation on philosophy.

If you liked my experience & wish to have a similar or better experience like the Facebook page Sip and Swap and be notified for the next book swap party!

When I met Salma

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Her smile tried to hide the evident pain in her eyes. While adding sugar to her coffee she said ‘I was fighting for his daughter’s education but he tried to kill me twice.’ She talked about her other hardships with the same ease. Did she become numb to her problems or speaking about them with this ease made it less painful?

As I wondered topic changed and we talked about our beautiful college structure and the recent trip to Sikkim we had. Suddenly there was happiness in her eyes as she spoke of her trip to Assam. She showed pictures from her phone and shared her experience. The sorrow redeemed her eyes as she plainly said how she regrets for not being able to study in a proper college with the constant nervous smile on her face.

She further spoke about the education of her sons, what they are pursuing etc. However, sons are not so much into her literature side. In this moment it was difficult to read her eyes, she looked glad and a bit taken back at the same time. She said they are proud of her work but don’t really sit back and read it all. None of these emotions held her smile back.

As I had written about her mother after watching the documentary, with lot of courage I asked Salma about the bond she shares with her mother. She answered with ease that there is lot of love, only that mother is still very innocent. She said her mother doesn’t understand human rights etc, she still lives in a small world. Till date my mother eats only after my father has food. I cannot blame her, it’s the way she is brought up, it’s the way maximum of the girls there think.

I further asked how she is so different. How did her idea of life change? She immediately replied, ‘it’s because of what I read’. I read a lot and understood things about the world, not everyone there in my village got such understanding.

Salma is a strong woman with an amazing emotional intelligence. She managed to be warm to us in spite of the cold fountains within. Her eyes didn’t hide any emotions but her smile always won it at the end.

Read Salma’s poetry at http://www.poetsalma.com

Be empathetic: the last hug

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She was right there in front of me on the hospital bed, about to die, about to bid her final goodbye. I knew for certain that it was time, realizing so I held her in my arms for a while. I didn’t wish for her to suffer anymore. I was numb, head trying its best to process everything around.

The one thing she yearned for is family unity, watching her four kids & their families happy, settled and dining together. Among the grandchildren also, we weren’t united. She yearned to see all her grandchildren together, but only after she left, she saw us all weeping for her. Wonder if it was a sight of relief or pain for her?!

She loved all her grandchildren equally however she said I and my sister were her favorite. It was because only we two among her six grandchildren had managed to be focused on education and a career. Two elder cousins left education, did random jobs and fought among each other. One youngest one left school before tenth standard. Lastly one cousin sister at 18 got married and had a kid. Yet, she loved all her grandchildren equally, with all her heart.

All six, so differently brought up, weird childhood struggles for all. Not one family among her four kids gave a normal childhood to their kids, how on earth were we all supposed to be united?

She understood this childhood complexities because she was an empathetic person. She could actually see through each of her kid’s eyes and churn her thinking through all her grandchildren’s shoes.

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Looking akin at my sister as she shuffled the pack of cards. It was indeed her favorite game. Trick master at her game of cards and at hiding emotions in her game of life.

Something that seared my heart was how she never asked me to go and meet my cousin sister who got married or play with her kid. Grandma understood that my cousin sister was wrong, but she understood her problems & supported her. She was also understanding of the fact that it was traumatic on my end to take the kid in my hand of the cousin sister who is younger to me by months! How on earth one could be so empathetic, I still wonder.

I still cherish that last hug I gave her on the hospital bed. She was my only grandparent, and watching her suffer in her final stage of life was a grave feeling. The feeling sucked more when I knew she had few wishes, which haven’t come true even after she has left. So dear readers please, if you have grandparents, firstly go and hug them. Try to make them happy, do your bit.