Friday, September 18

Out and Not Proud

Hey fellows, been 4 months since my last post. The covid cases in Pune alone have crossed 2 lac, and the lockdown has been eased in the interest of the economy. Not sure which is a bigger evil, but the Modi government I helped bring to power sure has lost my confidence. 

Not that the citizens of this democratic country are worth praising... surely there are more important things now to do than gather for weddings that endanger public health or have witch hunt campaigns for Rhea in the name of justice for Sushant Singh Rajput... But I guess people are just bored now, and want some excitement in their lives. While bigger issues remain unresolved such as Indo-China concerns, whatever short-lived happiness comes our way, we reach out for it and lap it up.

In these dismal times, I'm grateful for a job that pays well and keeps me safe in the comfort of my home, my family is healthy and we have everything we could need or want. I know so many people who will remember 2020 as a horrible year due to losses, personal and financial, social and emotional. My heart goes out to them. I wish there was a solution in sight or scope. Soon, fingers crossed. Until then, hang in there. 

I've spent most of the last 5 months working and chilling. There were busy days training on overdrive mode, and slow evenings where I binge watched Netflix, Hotstar, Prime or Voot. Aarush chose to stay at his Granny's and that worked well for all of us, given that my husband is a loner who enjoys working long hours at night and keeping to himself during the day. 

I'm fed up, in more ways than one, and that can be hard to explain, given that I've got no "real" worry as such. Emotional strength and inner peace - can that be a goal for otherwise "successful" people?

Given the nature of my work and my life experiences, proving myself and being outspoken is part of my DNA. But I find myself wanting less and less to be around the people I know. Age must be getting to me, or perhaps I'm just among the wrong set of people. Am I depressed? I sometimes think I might be. I do think I'd have been happier and nicer around with more positive and fulfilled people to call family and friends. 

I've got wonderful parents, and their unconditional love and support has always been my blessing. But I've not had the happiest childhood. Bullied in school for being teacher's pet and academically gifted but an outcast in the Marathi clan of classmates, and ridiculed by relatives and colleagues for being not fair and therefore not lovely. Perhaps I'm to blame. I tried hard, too hard sometimes, because I was operating from the Adaptive Child ego state in Transactional Analysis. I still catch myself seeking people's approval, attention and appreciation. I should have ignored them, and lived my life on my terms. This need to be validated, to be the best, and to be noticed. Even when not required. When I should let petty issues pass and insignificant people win silly arguments. But still a struggle, though I'm getting there...

The one saving grace among this is my amazing child. An absolute delight to be around. He is far better than most of us, even at that tender age. I'm so proud of him. He saves me from Anhedonia and makes me look forward to the beautiful thing called Life.

Some days are happy, almost too good to be true. But the darkness is overwhelming on the others. Like I said, I should have nothing to complain about, right? I value my security and I sometimes pretend everything is fine, and I'm good at it too. But am I? Absolutely not. I find pleasure in helping others when I can, as much as I can. But can I be blind and justify lies, sorry. No can do.

This is my "coming out" story. 

Will you know it if you met me? No :-)

You'll hear about how much I like training, and how I'm enjoying Bulbull, How to Get Away with Murder, Friends, Schitts Creek and how I sneak in a few pages of Mahabharata and When Love Came Calling.

For all my authenticity, I wear a mask too... Coz there is no one who can save me from myself. No one who can take me into the light. I guess I could/should do it for myself. But easier to go under. Unfair and despicable, for sure...


Keep that mask on, and keep your spirits up. We'll get through this.

Cheers!

Anuja

Tuesday, May 26

Heart to heart, in the age of social distancing

So, the COVID count in India is now over 1.50 lacs, and with the restrictions eased, it's definitely not coming down anytime soon. I hope all of you and your loved ones are staying safe and sane.

The hospitality and travel industry are ruined indefinitely, and inviestments have dipped, despite the relief package announced by the government. Quite sad to see NaMo not taking more effective measures, and absolutely appalling the way Nirmala Sitharaman is behaving. People dying and losing jobs seems to be nobody's concern, and that in itself is a huge cause for concern for humanity. I've heard people are struggling with mental issues right from isolation to depression and domestic violence. It's indeed a punishment for all our collective sins, and there's no going back to the old ways of living once this ends. We've got to figure out a better way to survive and thrive, as human beings, not just selfish and scheming machines, winning and hoarding at the cost of others' lives and dreams.

I see people seeking help on LinkedIn for jobs, and I myself have tried to support people as much as I possibly can in any way. Be it through charity or job referrals or just a conversation to coach, rejuvenate and motivate - the ways in which we can help each other and numerous. We should consider ourselves blessed to be able to assist somebody else, because this is certainly not the time to engage in anything competitive, destructive or negative.

Don't burn out, whether it is during your house chores, or while working from home for office. Take a break, do something you love and spend time with family. Count your blessings and do your bit towards those that are not as fortunate. As so many people have said, this is not a normal time, and tiny things can become daunting. Accept yourself and others with grace, we're each reacting to the situation differently and we're all justified in our experience and emotions. Life is hard, but we've got to do the best we can, and keep doing better every day. I see posts on Instagram and Facebook where moms are outdoing each other and others are just managing to stay alive and sane. I see some enterprising folks cooking like Michelin chefs and others burning meals. I watch people curse religions and politicians, and I see people engaging in random challenges and tags. Coping techniques vary, but being positive and sensitive should be the watch words.

There are days I feel grateful for all that I have, and I have a lot. But there are also days where I feel miserable like I've achieved nothing. I compare myself to others better or worse than me, and I am left with misery, either for myself or someone else. I know there are many people who feel negatively about me, and I see their response (or the lack of thereof) that reveals their hatred or jealousy or apathy towards me. I know I feel angry about certain things and some folks, but I try to be a better person each day. I fail but I try again. How about you?

Stay safe, all, and stay human!

Cheerio
Anuja

Thursday, April 23

Unprecedented pandemic times

Hi everyone,

I've been away forever, or so it seems. I hope you and your loved ones are safe amidst all this Covid chaos. The numbers in India have crossed 21k and there is no solution or end in sight, which makes every day just a little bit more tough and unpredictable. Our agonies are a thousand times lesser than many others, if that brings any respite. While we worry about what delicacy to prepare from the stock of groceries at home, people fret about having nothing to eat. While we think about the next job offer or criticise boring meetings, folks are losing from their jobs. As we complain about being stuck at home and not being allowed to go out for recreation, people are either without a roof, or unable to return to their families. We miss our friends and want to enjoy our lives whereas so many of our country men are struggling to survive.

The situation is bleak, but I'm sure you can find something to be grateful for. I am counting the many ways God has blessed me, be it good health, a happy and healthy family, food to eat and water for our needs, a job that pays well and allows flexibility to work from home, flowers in my balcony garden, sunrise and the breeze, internet and sound sleep, being connected to family and friends, and the list goes on...

I find myself watching a lot more TV than usual, and by that I mean Netflix, Hotstar, Airtel Xstream, Amazon Prime, and Voot. Some series I recently watched and enjoyed were Panchayat, Asur, Glitch, Stranger Things. Skyfire and Marzi started off well but didn't do justice in the climax. Roadies has stopped midway, and my reading has ended unceremoniously too. Just can't bring myself to finish "In the Name of God" by Ravi Subramanian. This week, I promise...

I've been cooking a wide variety of things depending on my mood and laziness. Be it North Indian or Italian, snack and chat, dessert and savory items. Maggi has been a staple as has rice and junk, but I'm also staying true to my 10k step commitment so the guilt is at bay. The weighing scale does show greater figures than normal, but hey, nothing is normal right now.

As people post their struggles and talents, I also see folks crib about the government and spreading hate. Hats off to our community helpers who are serving others at the cost of their own lives. At this uncertain and ambiguous time, we can all do little apart from pray and be kind and help who we can, as much as we can. Hopefully god will listen and forgive us for our greed and sins. And hopefully, we won't go back to our evil common ways once things return to normal.

I did check the Tarot cards for this... May and June will be hard, but July onwards the situation will improve. Come August and we might have some semblance of our regular lives albeit with greater awareness of the consequences of our wickedness towards nature.

Stay safe, and take care.
Wish you hope and happiness!

Best wishes
Princess

Sunday, October 20

Oh to find the one you love....

Oh to find the one you love....
And the one who stands by you.
Come rain or shine, this single soul
Makes all your hopes come true.

He keeps you warm when the nights are cold
And becomes the cool breeze in summers
He knows value lies in depth and feeling
Not in money or numbers.

It's not about those good times
Or the parties you went to,
It's about the times you cried on his shoulder
And he knew what to say or just sob along too.

He supports you when the goin gets tough
And when you're wrong as well
The only thing he doesn't do
Is leave you alone and miserable as hell.

There will be fights and there will be pain,
But what there won't be is insecurity
You will always know he's by your side
No fear of abandonment or infidelity.

You know you mean the most to him
And your word uttered can change his goal
Of all the things he can have or lose
Your forlorn face is his greatest toll.

Vacations and gifts are all appearances
Moments are what matters most
The times he put work and self behind
Are the times you cherish and boast.

He knows how to make you smile
When everything seems desolate,
Sometimes with a book, whisky, movie or chocolate
Sometimes with a sermon on fate.

Oh to find the one you love....
And the one who stands by you.
It doesn't meant a lifetime of joy,
But you sure won't be lonely when blue.

... And I hope you find him (or her).

Cheers
Anuja

Saturday, October 5

Ola October!

Hello my beauties.

Dassera is round the corner and Diwali festivities will soon begin; the cleaning and shopping has started awrite!

Top of the list is obviously stuff for the little one, and amidst the regular clothing and toy gifts, what's noteworthy is that the chap wanted Alexa so an Echo dot finds itself on its way to us. Mum wanted a mixer grinder to dish us some amazing chutneys and I placed that order with delight. I did think I deserved a new mobile device since I'd treated my old One Plus 3 very preciously and it had given up on me with a faulty front camera several years ago. So the Amazon sale tempted me with a brand new red One Plus 7. I realised much later it has no headphone jack, which added the cost of a wireless headset to my cart and expense. Oh and some books and garments. All a day's work. Ab Diwali duur kahaan...

With sales and offers running round the year, festivals are not really an occasion to purchase anything. These special days are excuses to cherish moments with your loved ones. Due to a bad marriage, I've missed cherishing the most important times of my life - birthdays, anniversaries, milestones, festivals...

The night of my wedding, I had a fallout with the man, and for many years later, I regretted going ahead with the ritual regardless. I missed the warm welcome and fun that accompanies moving to a new house and family since there was not a single soul to invite me home. I had to share my friends and family, since the man had nobody to call his own and no relation to offer to me as a new bride and partner. Seven years of marriage, and just a few occasions that were celebrated with peace and joy. Half the times he did not even wish me since we were fighting and most of my nights were spent cursing my destiny and crying my guts out.

My pregnancy was a nightmare despite my good health, and my postpartum days were depressed and lonely since the emotional abuse was abundant and endless. Even as I continued to work outside full time, manage the house and raise my son in the best way possible, I was always sad inside and missed a loving companion I could trust and rely on. Someone who was proud of me and valued me. Instead I was tolerated and misunderstood, criticised and ignored. I was lied to, and I was tortured mentally and physically, and each passing day had me convinced that life was worthless and hopeless. That I was not a good person. Any vacation and every family function was reduced to misery because of his whims and fancies. I almost came to a point where I considered I'd never be happy.

Sadly and shockingly, I thought I deserved it and chose to empathize with the villain of my story who treated me like trash. I actually believed that he was suffering and I was wrong. All for love. Stupid, unrequited love. Blind adoration. Mad obsession.

Or so I thought. Now that I think of it, it probably was ignorance and lack of experience on his part. He was just reacting and learning, with no precedent to follow and no experience to rely on. He thought he was wronged and I managed to blame him for most things.

I deserved someone who would stand up for me, not coz I needed to be protected but cos I was worth being respected. Someone who would appreciate me for my strengths and how I added to his life and happiness. But no matter what I did, whether to support him or celebrate him, be it 2 birthdays in a year or being there for him when his family and colleagues exploited him, reminding him of his goals and pushing him to achieve them, nothing was good enough. Misunderstandings were endless, and I doubt he ever realised who really cared for him and wanted the best for him. His blind worship of undeserving folks that he called friends and family made him lose us several times, but somehow destiny always brought us back together. It still hurts that we were so daft and turned our worlds upside down for people and matters that didn't really matter. We hurt each other, burnt our hopes and dreams in the pyre of our marriage to become a campfire for the ones that never cared... But I guess, good things come to those who wait. And we both needed time and a few hard knocks for good sense to prevail.

I'm happy I have such a strong capacity to adore someone so passionately and fully. I did it once, and then I did it again, multiple times with te same man. And eventually like a fairy tale, this has worked out perfectly. Better late than never. This was absolutely worth holding on to, and never letting go.

I suffered. As did he. So did my parents. And most of all, our child, who deserved better.

But enough about that again....

Let me tell you how much I've enjoyed reading The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine. The sisters that go by the pseudonym have done an amazing job, painting the picture of a love triangle and tracing the depth of different characters. The pages come alive as you read the woes and triumphs of the protagonist, both perspectives delivered with full justice and sincerity. Definitely worth reading, take my word. I'm going to return to my Harappa trilogy - the last one Kashi beckoning from my shelf, as Agatha Christie and Chandragupta await their turn.

I've been catching all the movies too. Latest was War starring Hrithik and Tiger Shroff. Good acting, average story, handsome hunks who dance well and fight better. Full marks for action that seems ridiculously overdone, but then with two Greek gods in the movie, they got to be milked for their worth.

Also watched Criminal Justice on Hotstar, some awesome acting there as well. Pankaj Tripathi and Jackie Shroff have taken the cake even as the main hero - Vikrant Massey hogs your empathy along with his supporting lady roles in the form of lawyer and sister.

So you see, months are flying, and there's not a dull moment. Every day for me is Thanksgiving day for being alive and for having a world of opportunities ahead of me.

The past can only bother you until you find a present with a future. You got to evaluate what you've learnt or lost after every decision and failure in life. If you've done your best, then you got to stop beating yourself over the miserable mistakes. It's only a matter of time before life offers you another chance at happiness.

Keep your eyes, arms and heart wide open, amigos. Adios!

Love
Anuja

Thursday, September 12

September Rain

Hello everyone! 

Morya Morya is in the air - today is Ganesh Visarjan, such a blessed 10 days where Ganpati allowed us to host Him. Aarush is thrilled with the festivities and has learnt all the rituals and fanfare that accompany the Lord's worship. Takes after his granny!

He's blossoming into a fine, young lad, that boy. Feisty and compassionate, wise and smart, just and affectionate, expressive and multitalented - I am proud of him and I am troubled by him, too. He knows how to get his way, and he has a curious mind that doesn't give up. Discipline is the only thing that will decide which way he goes, for better or worse. As he turns 5, I can only hope for the best and do my best in raising him well.

It's been pouring in Pune and Mumbai. Floods and what not. A scary and difficult time. Hope you and everyone you know is safe.

I've had an active month so far. Lots of movies and shows, some reading and socializing, and lots of interesting work. The Prabhas blockbuster Saaho gave me an awful headache, which was healed by some hot toddy at Pune Cocktail Bar (Pavilion on SB road) followed by John Abraham in Batla House. Movie marathon after ages, I felt quite like a teenager in college! Chhichore was very entertaining - a brilliant cast, average and predictable story but executed so well that it makes your money worth it. I loved all the characters in the film, especially Sushant Singh - he's just so handsome and adorable. A man with a heart. Do they make them any more?!!

Men who definitely shouldn't be made - Kabir Singh, a movie remake infamous for its sexism and objectification of women. I felt some turmoil within as I watched. Shahid is great at portraying the character and you can't help liking him, knowing fully well that he abuses women and has no respect for anything or anyone. Women are nothing but a man's property and need to be submissive, that's the message, and the man gets the woman anyway is the takeaway. Despite his misbehavior and disregard, violence and addictions. Arijit's soulful songs make hating the movie harder. But here's my two cents - Kabir Singh is a man who can't communicate effectively and can't control his temper and violence. I've been at the receiving end. It's not pleasant. And there is no loyal friend or lovely song that can help you feel better. While men will idealize the protagonist, it's the women who need to drill down that this crap will not be tolerated or accepted. Obviously the movie missed mentioning that and raked in crores at the box office. India is still a backward country after all who think Arjun Reddy had to be made and then remade.

I watched Game of Thrones S1E1 the other day out of nostalgia, coz WINTER IS COMING... Still feels amazing and fresh!

I finally started Sacred Games S2 after procrastinating over confusion caused by mixed reviews. Seems okay so far (E3), let's see what next. Splitsvilla and Roadies remain my guilty pleasures, partly because there's Rannvijay Singha who I'm crazy about, but also since the participants can be a dumb and interesting lot who make the show amusing.

Baobab, Cult and Le Plaisir remain on my bucket list for when I meet friends and chill out, but I visited Garden of Edesia and Fat Labrador which were quite good. The rest of my time was spent on finishing Pralay from the Harappa series by Vineet Bajpai and I've recently started The Last Mrs Parrish by two sisters who go by the pen name Liv Constantine. 

So you see, it's been a busy and fulfilling time. The only thing that kept me back from calling it perfect was myself. You've heard of the quote - you're as happy as you want to be. In the midst of all that I was doing, I kept obsessing over my past like a child who throws tantrums over their favorite knife being taken away. It was harming me, but it brought some comfort in misery, making me feel like a martyr until I decided that companionship need not always come at a cost. There did not always have to be a compromise and sacrifice for every tiny joy you received as charity. Constantly making excuses for others and justifying their lack of action or interest was not healthy for me. And yet, change is hard, even for a trainer like me who coaches others through the process of Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement (ADKAR) and how to manage resistance. I keep thinking about what was and what could have been, getting mad over the idiocy of the man who I thought had potential to be so much more than a community helper without goals or a life of his own...

And there I go again... I keep telling myself I need to stop thinking, that is the biggest problem. But the mind has a mind of its own...

Keep trying, that's all we can do. 
Coz you don't go back to what broke you.
And you decide your worth.
What you feel < what you deserve.

Cheers
Princess

Monday, August 12

Women and Empowerment

I'm about to put my foot in my mouth, and I don't care. This may not apply to all women but it doesn't have too many exceptions either.

Women need protection and empowerment and support and understanding, yes, for sure.

From who?
Other women.

Women are the biggest enemies of women. Alpha male is not just a syndrome noticed in men, but certainly exists in women as well.


Which is why, rarely do we see women getting along with other women, especially without a clear hierarchy in place. Women are insecure and can't share the limelight with other gifted women unless they all feel comfortable in their skin and position. Be it the typical saas-bahu at home, or two peers at work, or a reporting relationship.

It's sad. Men get along as friends and colleagues, in school and office. Women who are supposed to be nurturing and warm, often end up backbiting and messing up relationships. And then we say women need empowerment in a male dominated world. I'm sure some do, but that applies equally to men who are meeker than many other men AND women alike.

Under the guise of diversity and inclusion, a lot of effort and resources go into actually doing the opposite - creating programs that exclude men from women and create a sense of differentiation. Going back to the concept of co-ed and convent schools, how are we plugging the gap by driving women-only missions?

Women in corporates are the last ones that need empowerment, in my opinion. What we do need is a session on being kind and genuine to each other. Not just on the face, but to have one face in front of everyone. Treat everyone with respect and not discriminate basis friendship and org hierarchy. Whether it is at a lunch table or conference table, don't make anyone feel isolated or humiliated. That's what we all need to reiterate. Men, I think, are far sorted because they don't bother about such petty things. Which is why most men get along with each other without pretending to be best pals, become buddies in a group with few or no expectations and last longer than thick feminine friendships that grow bitter in time. Emotions that are considered a women's forte, are exactly what we forget when we aren't on the receiving end of being mocked, ignored or criticised.

Not true across the board, but I speak from experience. I've been spoken down to by women far more often than men, and these ladies have been senior, junior and on the same level as me at work. Bullied in school and college. In society. Some of them not half as capable as me, but with added courage coz of their pack at their back.

I've never been in a pack, coz I've seen this happen in too many places and I call it out when I see it.

Since I come from a Psychology background, I do think I have a fair understanding of these terms and behaviors I'm describing with conviction, not bias.

One could argue that I could be the cause of the uncouth behavior and not a victim, but women who are leaders or aspiring leaders often talk down to people than motivate or support them. They mistake being obnoxious for assertive and they think being bossy is a leadership trait. This, I've heard across the circles.

Don't try to be a man. Just be a woman. Be a leader. Stop competing, because really, true talent and potential will shine. If you are afraid someone will shine brighter than you, that's fine too. There are enough places for all of us, and just like we tell kids - we don't have to be #1 in everything. Don't pull someone down coz you can't climb up unless you step over that person.

Women empowerment started off as a good initiative. I think we have lost the plot somewhere. Support all genders, not one or some. Keep the ground level and fair. Ask questions, listen to answers, help where you can and ask for help when you need. Be open. There's too much trouble in all our lives without us adding to each other's misery.

Why am I talking about all this today?

Well, I think about it every other day.

Just that I am not hesitating to put this in black and white today for fear of some women hating this post and subsequently me for some perceived story in their head that they don't have the courage to verify directly, but assume I've written about them...

And guess what, maybe I have.

Stay strong, and be real.

Cheers
Anuja

Out and Not Proud

Hey fellows, been 4 months since my last post. The covid cases in Pune alone have crossed 2 lac, and the lockdown has been eased in the inte...