D is for Deep Sea Diving

Imagine an aquaphobic having the least knowledge of swimming yet planning picnics and excursions by the seaside, waterfalls, rivers, lakes and the deep seas! Well that bold person would be yours truly. After all they say, “Don’t fear the Fear – Let it drive you!”

And as I can recall, the most memorable outing trips that I’ve been a part of were to islands and waterfalls!

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In the year 2015, we planned a trip to one such island which involved hiring a boat and steer it for about 45 minutes to an hour to reach our destination. Well the journey was literally rocking I say. With strong waves jolting our mode of transport – an old wooden boat, from every side, leaving my restless brain dizzy and in thought as to which position to occupy and which posture to adopt when it finally topples over us all. Unlike an alert me, some of my friends had chosen their position – some of them on the stern and others near the bow! Well, apparently they felt the most relaxed at these ends. En route we stopped at a spot where the sea was deep yet calm. It reminded me of ‘Deep Blue Sea’, and I kept a watch out for sharks. Some of my friends, having mastered the art of swimming dived right into the sea fanning out their human fins. The guide accompanying us gave out snorkeling equipment for those who were not interested in diving and ushered us to explore the underwater from the surface of the ocean. After persistent coaxing by my friends and my alter ego, the terrified me, took a gulp and slid slowly with my snorkeling attire into the sea green waters.  I was left mesmerized by the underwater world – amidst the clear sands I saw coral reef with loads of algae and colourful fish scrawling away sensing us humans. I wondered what it would feel like to get closer and live amongst them in the underwater world and by then my hazy thoughts were interrupted by this touchy guide who pulled me back up without warning as I struggled to breathe normally through my nostrils.

Cut to the year 2018, while on this particular holiday to the Coral Island in Pattaya, we group of friends deciding to go deep sea diving! I was reluctant at first but then persuaded myself thinking that this tour would be handled by professionals and trained personnel and safety would be priority. And so we set out on a journey into the clear turquoise blue waters sailing comfortably in a white motor boat. Finally on reaching the spot we were escorted onto a stationary floating plank where the ‘so called professionals’ gave us instructions on how to dive down about 5 meters deep into the ocean onto the seabed and then do the walk! Well, the training lasted for just 5 to 10 minutes and all they taught us is how to pop our ears in case of pressure built up underwater and the sign language. Thumbs up – meant ‘end the dive’ read – “I need to be pulled out immediately”; while Okay or the ring gesture – meant ‘I am feeling fine’. After this they handed us a single glove each and we were set to drop dead dive in.

As I stood in the queue for my turn, my heart started doing the discotheque and my entire life flashed right before my eyes. I was deaf to everything surrounding me including the encouragement from the chirpy friend.  My guys friends (even though scared themselves), started mocking the so called ‘daring me’. Suddenly it became a do or die situation and there was no turning back! Finally, my turn was up, the heavy metal helmet with a vision panel, connected to an oxygen compressor was positioned on my head and I dove down  guided by a diver in a matter of seconds. Water being denser than oxygen ensured that I am able to breathe freely underwater as long as I held my head up. But the aquaphobic in me kept me perplexed as I kept popping my ears! Finally they gathered our group and dropped some bread into our gloved hand. It was then that I noticed the serenity of the underwater world, the marine coral and the school of fish that were picking at the bread in our gloved hands. I tried to find Nemo, the clown fish but couldn’t spot one.

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That Deep Sea Dive and the sea walk was one enthralling experience as I was introduced to Ariel’s life under the sea!

C is for Chai

More than half my life, I have been a coffee person. That earthy, nutty aromatic waft eludes my senses with its bitter, tobacco like taste; instantly kicking in energy onto this gray matter with every sip.

Well, but this post isn’t about coffee though. It’s about the humble beverage Chai – translated Tea which was discovered by the Chinese and introduced to India by the British.

Years ago, I adapted into this Chai person because my concerned partner wouldn’t allow me to touch coffee since I was on homeopathic medications and strong flavours such as coffee would interfere with the treatment. And so I began drinking chai to restore my regular intake of caffeine. I had particularly developed a penchant towards ginger chai and masala chai.

While, I was in Mumbai struggling as just another job hunter, I discovered the Cutting Chai! Along the streets of the City That Never Sleeps, I came across this tapri aka tea stall, which offered freshly brewed hot chai flavoured with Indian spices, poured in these engraved shot glasses in quantity of just about a few sips, enough to give you that needed boost. It was then that I realized how the name cutting chai came to existence.

Chai has now become an important daily ritual – every morning and evening a cup full of hot chai equips me to face the storms of the day!

B is for Biking

There was a time when I was a terrified pillion rider. The mere thought of sitting on the passenger seat of any bike (geared especially), behind even a familiar person left me petrified. Probably, it was the fear in my sub-conscious mind left behind by an unfortunate accident in my childhood.

As so during the summer holidays, whenever my friend would coax me to learn the bicycle with her, I often pushed away making excuses. Finally, one day she did manage to convince me to sit across her brother’s tall black Atlas whose seat we couldn’t manage to adjust while she attempted peddling along a rocky path. And as fate had it, we fell off the next moment with her under the weight of the mighty Atlas and my leg stuck between the spokes of the behind tyre! I vowed to myself from that moment, never would I try to attempt riding a bike!

Nevertheless, 14 years later, I was forced to learn the two wheeler to travel to and fro these horrid school tuition classes. Eventually, I did manage to ride a non-geared bike and from then on my love for bikes augmented! Though, I must admit it was a tough learning experience, from falling off for the nth time to finally learning to balance without dangling my feet above ground half in air. By the way, I still can’t ride a bicycle, I mean not without the supporting wheels! (*smirks*)

And as my love kept growing for motorbikes (especially geared ones), I began learning to identify any bike by hearing just the sound of it’s exhaust. Well, I had a biker boyfriend back then who was often forced to be my tutor in this study. I was fascinated with biker movie, talks, racing, stunts, sports, motogp, et al. My favourite superbike was the Honda CBR Fireblade 1000RR. I had associated myself as a biker girl having posters around and constantly learning to perform easy stunts like wheelies and stoppies with my mother’s humble Honda Dio which were not very accurate at the 90 degree angle I confess. My puny self once rode a borrowed heavy geared bike but couldn’t manage the weight and I did promise myself to buy and own a superbike someday. That day still awaits..

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As college approached, my fondness towards the British Bullet bike began and I ogled at all the bullet bikes parked in my college campus and wondered how it would feel like to ride one of those.

Riding a bike to me is not merely a means of transportation but a journey, an experience that only a bike lover can contemplate. It gives me a sense of freedom, thrill and power as I race along roads and undiscovered paths, cornering at turns and vrooming ahead through rain, fog and sunshine moving my soul through Neverland!

A is for Adventure

Growing up as a kid, I have been a voracious reader of adventure and mystery books; particularly of those authored by Enid Blyton. Her writings have the capacity to teleport the reader into the story scene; making oneself a part of the adventure that is magically weaved.

I clearly remember this particular book, Hollow Tree House, which after devouring the literary adventure, left me craving to build and start living in a tree and have my own real adventure. And so during the summer holidays, I set out searching for one such huge tree with a hollow trunk amidst the hills at my mother’s village home. Sadly, I couldn’t find any tree hollow which would accommodate a whole grown child! And disappointed with no findings, I convinced my best friend to build a tree house together atop an old bent drumstick tree standing solely in her backyard. And so we did build one with strewn wooden planks and old pieces of rags. Well, at least we could sit safely, eat and chat (without falling off) if not live completely in the tree house as I wished to. It became our club house or adda where we planned our future mischief, until one day the neighbours alarmed us off citing that – ‘a drumstick tree is one among the weak trees’. And that was the end of the rickety tree house stay!

Well, there are many such instances and memories where I have longed for adventures and ate, drank and dreamt of living an adventure. At the age of 9 as I recall, I had designed a book which had a list of essentials when on an adventure or when erm.. lost – it included rope, matches, pocket knife, biscuits, and other such stuff that I don’t remember now. Secretly, I always had a backup kept aside with this gear. I kept reminding myself I need to be prepared, an adventure might drop by anytime anywhere! I even had a theme song written where I recall only the chorus lines:

“Adventure, Adventure in my eyes,
Go on, go on..” – (2)

Another, popular and loved book series was the Famous Five, where the book Five Go to Mystery Moor had me on my toes, completely engrossed giving me goosebumps when the five children were stuck on the misty moor. This story left me thinking; I should head out one night with my backpack to the hillside close to the village that I lived which is kind of a moor and have my own wild escapade. Nevertheless, as destiny had it, that night never happened.

Now I think and chuckle at those days, where I was so desperate to escape reality and the mundane life.  And as years slipped by, I understood that Life itself is an Adventure; with all its twists and turns and surprises. And the gear that one needs on this fateful adventure is Hope, Courage and Love. As Eleanor Roosevelt truly says – “Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.”

A to Z Blogging Challenge – April 2020!

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Well, this is a season where we all are forced to be confined to our houses with the whole world almost being under lockdown; there can be no excuses whatsoever to unleash the chronic writer from within!

With the ‘A-Z Blogathon Challenge’ in April 2020 making an appearance dot in the quarantine phase of my life, I have decided to push my lazy bottom aside and get back to writing away my thoughts. So, part of the challenge is to select a Theme in general which will form the base for the blog posts titled ‘A to Z’ every day of April except for Sundays.

The Theme that I have selected for this Challenge is – My Life Experiences. And so, I will be rambling away on my past experiences and perhaps it might help in self-reflection in this present moment.

You are welcome!

D for Diary

Dear Diary,

“Today was rough but manageable. I felt lazy and hangry at many instants but kept my cool and sailed through the day. My boss was absent and perhaps that’s what made it more difficult to pass time. My day started off late because my commute was stuck in traffic and thus I didn’t reach office on time. Once settled, I started working on a disbursement to be paid which literally drove me crazy. I wondered at one point as to whether I really love this job…”

This was an excerpt from my mind of how I would write my diary if I had one.

I had started maintaining a diary at a very young age in high school. But one day my mother happened to find it and as soon as I realized she had read it, I panicked and threw the book away. Well, living in a typical Indian household where you are judged from what you wear to what you speak has its shares of fears and boundaries especially for a girl.

After that day, I started diary writing in college where I lived in another state away from family caught up in a hostel space. Here, I made it a point to write daily describing all my ventures in the alien state with people from diverse cultures.

It was the peak of the Internet era; I spent time mostly surfing around and utilizing the free WiFi that college provided. One day I came across this online diary ‘OhLife.com’ where one had to just type in the entry for the day and it sent a daily reminder too. Being lazy as ever even to put pen to paper, I loved this format of typing in. And after that day there was no turning back to the book form of a diary.

Few years down the line, I received an email from the online diary website informing that they have shut down since they couldn’t finance the webpage and neither could restore the entered data to their users. It was very saddening that all the years’ entries could not be restored. So I had lost all the documented memories of college, the crushes, the plays and fights, the outings, etcetera to infinite space.

After that day the practice and habit of diary maintenance stopped completely. I look forward to starting one again someday. The feeling of venting out and expressing one’s state of mind to a mere book seems fulfilling and peaceful as it quietly accepts your thoughts without any judgement or questions.

C is for Castaway

As far as I remember, most of my childhood thoughts dwelt on escaping the mundane life that a typical kid animates. Adventure was always and at all times on my mind! I dreamt of castaways and runaways. More of being castaway simply because I didn’t have the balls to runaway! (did try once but failed alas) *smirks* 😛

And few years later when the movie Cast Away released, I was thrilled and Tom Hanks became my favourite actor instantly. It seemed liked his character lived my dream of being wrecked on a secluded island alone (or not). He survived on small fish and coconuts ultimately losing some grinders in the bargain. But to me it sounded like a party at shore! The character portrayed appears brave yet patient as he attempts to spark a fire for the nth time. Yet at times he seems insane, when he draws a bloody face on a volleyball, calls it by its brand name ‘Wilson’ and starts forever conversing with it as his lone buddy.

Far along I learnt that this movie was inspired by the famous novel Robinson Crusoe which is said to be based on a true story. It showcased the castaway experiences of a Scottish Alexander Selkirk who lived on some island in the Pacific Ocean for more than four years! Lucky him I say! This man’s brave ventures read on Wikipedia are very inspiring.

In the same decade, during my teens, I happened to watch the Bollywood rom-com cum action thriller “Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai” which showcased lovers estranged on a beautiful island in Thailand. This movie raised my spirits considerably of now being lost with my future soul mate instead of being alone. And so began my dreams of us spending the day together happily. Me fishing, him hunting; him cooking, us eating and spending time besides the warm camp fire across the soothing ocean under the deep sky blanket.

As bizarre and delirious as it sounds, this wish of being Castaway someday stands awaited.

 

B is for Beard

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Beard as in the noun simply means facial hair which men proudly showcase. This one requires regular grooming and styling in order to avoid the ‘don’t care Hagrid look!’ Most men especially from Indian origins consider having a beard to be manly or masculine which is often linked to the toxic culture of male aggression and strength. While other men wear a beard to hide blemishes or to create an illusion of a perfectly leaner oval shaped face.

Whilst still others believe in promoting men’s mental health and prostate & testicular cancer awareness through famous movements – “No Shave November” and “The Movember Foundation”. These social movements encourage men to grow facial hair inorder to create cancer awareness and also to save on shaving costs to donate towards charitable causes and cancer research.

Beard as the verb means to be brave and courageous. Belonging to the female species and thus deficient in testosterone, I definitely can’t showcase my hairy beard, but believe to be bearded at situations that life throws at me!

A is for Autograph

The A to Z blogathon is on! And is finally pushing me to pen down all the stumbling thoughts that keeping popping in my gray matter. So welcome in!

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Reminiscing those good old days in the pre-internet era where kids would maintain scrap books or journals to collect autographs from classmates and friends as a memento of school or college life.  These books would be often handcraft and decorated with variety of coloured shiny pens and pencils. Some would even paste picture cutouts of their favourite film stars, movies and hobbies.

The contents of my autograph journal are still fresh in memory even though it must be in the company of dust mites and bugs placed at some corner of my house. I as a typical teenager had listed out some personal questions in purple shiny ink which were filled by my close school friends and respected acquaintances. The list included all usual questions like ‘favourite colour’ to ‘pet names’ and there were serious interrogations like, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” to naughty queries like, “Who is your secret crush?” and “Whom do you find sexy?”. The last fill-out asked, “Any advice for me?” which often people wrote the most cliché line, “Stay the same, don’t ever change”.

Reading the autographs filled out by varied persons, puts up a bright smile on my face; sometimes leading to laughter. It’s indeed hilarious how a teenager mind functions and the simple dreams that they envision.

Following today’s times, in the internet age where babies learn to type before even learning to write properly; I doubt such scrap books are even bought let alone being used. While in the yesteryears, with no mobile numbers and no email addresses; this autograph book seemed the only way to remember one’s friends after farewell in future distant times. That being said this topic brought about a gush of memories of old friends and acquaintances who have impacted my life. This was the sole purpose of a simple autograph book with their handwritten wordings always to be cherished and never forgotten. All you had to request for was, “Please sign your Autograph!”

BEING A WOMAN IN HER 20s – PART II

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BEAUTY


The next thing I have to deal with is being conscious about  my appearance. Despite being blessed with  good health, we always try to set standards to our beauty. The society’s expectations of the ‘beautiful’ title has us lining up to the salon every now and then, finding the perfect outfit and getting the perfect haircut to stay hip. I ask, why is this validation required? Does it really matter everybody else other than those that love us, think? What they perceive of us?

We are all flawed human beings and it is okay to be comfortable with that. Yes, a new haircut or a cute little dress will make us happy, but that shouldn’t be the sole reason that defines our beauty. Beauty should be the grace with which we carry ourselves. Beauty should be the compassion with which we treat our fellow human beings. Beauty should be the ability to stand strong and smile through all the travails in life. I only wish the experiences I go through in my 20s make me a better person.


MARRIAGE


We live in an Indian society that up-brings girls with an ultimate aim to get them married. This is proven and significant once you dive into your 20s and finish college.

“When will you invite us to your happiest day?”, inquire my far off relatives.

“Why are you still single? Let us set you up”, tease my married friends.

“Should I circulate your pictures? When will you decide to settle?”, mocks my mother.

“So, will the prince of your dreams ever appear?”, taunt the old aunties in my family.

In annoyance and irritation I keep silent and force a smile replying to them in my head, “No, my prince charming fell off his horse and is probably wandering in the wilderness!”

This phase will not pass until you finally do get married but I have gotten used to the derision and have learnt to ignore it all; thinking that it’s the wisest action I could do. My advice on marriage would be not to rush into these societal and parental pressures because you need to be prepared for this phase of life called marriage – prepared physically, emotionally and financially. Marry only if you are braced and you truly believe that you will love the person all your life no matter what, as you speak your commitment vows on your so-called happiest day! Because baby after that there’s no turning back!


LEARNING AND HAPPINESS


So as a 23-year-old woman, what is happiness to me? Blogging makes me happy. Writing down my thoughts makes me happy. Binge watching a lot of TV shows makes me happy (Who doesn’t like Game of Thrones or Vampire Diaries?)  Playing with my baby sister gives me immense joy. Scaling hills and exploring new places makes me happy.  These may seem trivial, but right now at this age, these activities make me happy. There is no ultimate key to happiness. What matters is finding joy in the little things we do everyday.

Education and continued learning is essential to every being. In the hope of discovering myself and the purpose of life, I urge you to keep acquiring skills, train yourself to learn at least one new talent every semester because knowledge will steer you places and realization will hit that ignorance is not bliss!


In conclusion, I’d like to advise to my fellow 20 somethings, to just hang in there. Tread onto life’s path carefully but also make the journey memorable. As the journey on life’s path matters just as much as your destination does. Continue to be strong, passionate, beautiful in your own unique ways and show a little more compassion to your fellow ladies!

Ending with a piece of advice from a 20s ending to a 20s something is do not take life seriously. This decade is the most precious to me by far because amidst the success and failures of the uncalculated risks taken, it made me tougher, sharper and wiser. Spend this time to explore places, interact with varied people and plunge into impromptu adventures eventually finding yourself in it all. Learn as many novel skills as you can and perfect those that you love! And eventually you will discover that Life is more than a mere mundane journey!


Grateful to Pradyna for this collaboration and for her motivation to make this possible. Follow her blog at Ponderous Twenty Something