11

These (battle)scars…

I was watching a Hindi TV show the other day and the heroine has very newly fallen in love with the hero of the show who isn’t aware of her feelings. Aah, new love. It’s a mature and modern show a compared to the other garbage on TV these days and shows relationships like they are in reality. She is a very hardcore, independent woman who is also a doctor and doesn’t take nonsense easily. But falling in love has made her, err, clumsy? The hero asks her “Ms. Bose aap aajkal itna girne kyun lagi hai? Pehle toh nahi girti thi.” It loosely translates to “ Why are you tripping so much these days, you used to be pretty steady earlier.” She is not as bad as other TV show heroines though. This is mostly a common scenario in Hindi Soaps where they try and show a girl to be very bubbly, cheerful, fragile, delicate and she is so careless in her excitement of chasing the invisible unicorn, that she keeps tripping into the waiting arms of the hero. Utterly ridiculous and far from cutesy if you ask me. First of all, who the hell is that bubbly, cheerful when I can see myself as dark and dreary as a storm cloud. Lenny, from the shopfloor who gets me pizza slices, disagrees vehemently when I say that, but nevertheless. Also, if I were a guy, I would get so irritated with such a clumsy person that I would drop them on the ground and move on.

There is a girl I know who is friends with my friends. I get a feeling that she is perennially sick and keeps fainting all the time. I feel harsh when I say this and I know it’s not her fault(entirely) for being so weak and passing out so much. But I can’t help feeling irritated with that. I feel like holding her shoulders and shaking her hard while yelling “Faint at your own time, girl!” Honestly, I don’t even know what that means and I know I am being mean.

But I don’t think I am any less. I have been known to sport gauze bandages when I and my close friends are aware that I have a millimeter size of cut on my finger. I had once stabbed my finger with a knife while opening a jar of jam in the hostel room. The stab was tiny but it was bleeding profusely. AM was quick to retort, “Uh oh, we need XXL bandaids for that!” All the pain was forgotten in the peals of laughter after that. My instagram also carries proof of the fact that I will advertise my injuries and create this air of hurt around it, rather than tending to it. I don’t know who is younger, a 2 year old, or me.

I cry easily when I get hurt. My threshold of pain is low and my first reaction is to cry or to shout at the person next to me. This happens often while I am cooking. A burn will make me irrationally angry, but of course, I will not clean it, dress it or apply ointment on it. I will only continue to be angry at the world. I had an oven burn when my parents were here and I got into an altercation with my dad because he was being a smartass and was trying to justify it by saying that if Chandler would have said the same, I would have laughed. But I did not take care of the burn and now I have a scar on my forearm. There is already one another burn scar forming an acute angle with it and I look like I am on my way to a branding of deathly hallows. Trust me, I am not.

One of my strangest desires has been to have a fracture on my left arm. I have always found arm casts to be very cool, specially when they are colored and have writings on them. I know I am a strange person to want a fracture. But a left arm will also be a lesser worry than a right arm, I think. Well, at least that would have been the case in school days when there was still a lot of writing involved. With typing and driving these days, I don’t know how bad it will be. But my biggest worry remains about washing my hair and salons here are not cheap. Again, I am not trying to give myself a fracture deliberately. Now I get old people injuries like a hurting knee, hurting shoulder after working out, lower back aches and feet that are falling apart.

One of my best/worst injuries have been on my right ankle that gave me a lot of glorious time off school, at the cost of being in pain for a long time. In Ahmedabad when I was in 4th grade, my school had been let off early for some reason and my dad sent the office helper to pick me up on his bicycle. He placed a mini me on the pillion seat and started to walk the bike. I don’t know what happened and my foot got into the spokes of the rear wheel and got twisted. I screamed and in the confusion, he ended up moving the bike backwards and the foot twisted in the opposite direction again. I had a massive wound with a lot of skin and flesh scraped off and a raptured ankle ligament that did not get detected for 3 days. I was given an L shaped cast that had to be removed everyday to dress my wound and was held in place by bandages. I still bear the scars on that ankle along with other scars from an accident in 2nd grade where a scooter hit me while crossing the road in front of my home in Delhi. My right foot has born 80% of the injuries I have had. I also have very battered looking knees that convince me that knees were created to get bashed up while riding bikes.

I have a very strange injury on my body that reminds me every once in a while of itself. While on a visit to India in 2013, I went with my dad to the bus service office to book seats for my parents for a trip to Mumbai. They were going for their Visa interview. Oh, that was also the epic trip where they met the xBF’s folks and tried to come to a middle ground but it became very clear to us that our ways are separate. Talk about actual scars, eh? I was going to stay home, taking care of Moony and Ani was supposed to come for a sleepover that day. It was the monsoons in India and it was raining that day. I was wearing my flip flops and as soon as I stepped out of the office, I slipped on the wet stone stairs on the door and landed firmly on the edge of the stair in a sitting position. My tail bone, yep, had made perfect contact with the sharp stone edge and I was delirious in pain. A 26 year old me broke down like a 6 year old from all the pain and the realization that so many people saw me fall. The walk from the shop to the car was beyond painful and I couldn’t even hold my b*tt and walk. I wonder if I aggravated it while walking my dog Moony and having to carry him for a bit because of his arthritic legs. There was no way my parents could cancel their Visa appointment, but at least their trip was successful. There are times when I can feel some hurt while doing deadlifts with barbells or while doing something as basic as sitting down on the restroom throne.

Well, at least some scars make a good talking point. I can sometimes pretend that I got into a bar fight in downtown Santa Ana, rather than admitting my idiocies. 

“You should see what I did to the ‘other person’.”

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46

The dishwasher stage of life

I am scared of getting married, having kids and raising a family. It just stems from the fear of having added responsibility of keeping people alive and thriving. It terrifies me to think of the chaos my life will have in the next few years. Now why must I have it, because somewhere inside, I want to have it as well. I want to have a loving, caring support system that of course includes a couple of dogs too. The other thing that scares me is having to change a lot of my habits. It is a part of the chaos that unnerves me, where I will have to change my sleeping-waking up timings, shower schedule, food habits, even the way I do the dishes.

When I moved to USA, I saw the dishwasher for the first time in my life. We were not sure what to do with it. My roommate tried to use it and we ended up with a kitchen floor with soapy suds upto the ankles. Thankfully, I escaped the cleaning activities by being in the school library at that time. Anyways, she did not follow the instructions, and so it was her mess to clean, so I felt only a little bit guilty. Having never used or even seen it before in India, it still remained very mysterious and cumbersome to me.

I always found the dishwasher to be a strange piece of appliance. You were supposed to scrape off the leftovers, rinse, and again put everything in the dishwasher to clean. If I was doing half the work already, what will the dishwasher do?? I have trouble liking appliances that seem like doing only half the job. Plus, thanks to the soapy mess experience, I always felt that it was more trouble than worth it. Not to mention, the added electricity bill, for the poor student who had to count every dollar going out of her pocket, made it even worse. So how did we use the dishwasher? We used to wash and store the dishes, cooking pots and pans inside and used it as a drying rack. We did that when I lived with the girls, and continued doing the same when I lived with Abhi and the xBF, until the day we discovered a gross green pool building inside the dishwasher. The one that we had in this apartment, had a bad drain. Us and our other roommates would load it without even attempting to let the excess water run off the dishes and pans. So the dripping water was collecting at the base and there was mildew all over on the floor. That day we somehow managed to run the dishwasher correctly and cleaned it, and we were extra careful about wiping off excess water first, and regularly cleaning the appliance.

We moved to another apartment in San Diego and that place did not have one. We finally bought a drying rack and mat and that was where our dishes went. Then in both my previous places in OC, we were using a drying mat to dry everything and then I would wipe off and keep everything back in the shelves before bedtime. My first roommate in OC, Laurel, would often use her dishwasher. Whereas my Vietnamese landlady in the previous place, used it just like I did in San Diego. From what I had gathered from my Asian friends and Reddit over the years, was that Asians do not tend to use it, considering electricity and all that, or for whatever reasons. Most Asians, and I am including Indians, use it as a drying rack or for storage. Abhi and Nish use theirs to store lunch boxes and Tupperware. I am doing the same thing in my current apartment. My lower rack also hold all plastic bags that I use for lining trash cans and recycle bin. I am sure you all know by now that I am quite a miser and a cheapskate, so the electricity bill is still a major point. These habits have resulted in a weird thought process where I happen to think that Dishwasher is practically unusable!

I hung out with Pop this weekend when my parents went to Seaworld, San Diego. I did not go because I have seen it 3 years back and now I am not into the whole animals-shows-training thing anymore. Pop and Bandar and her Hubby hosted us over the weekend, and what a wonderful time I had! We had some amazing Mexican food for lunch, went to the beach, tried to play Paddleball and managed to hit everyone around us with our rogue ball. They have a lovely house that has a backyard with a grill. We had yummy Paneer tikka and a bunch of other yummy things during the course of our stay with them. Pop, a huge thanks for being such awesome hosts!

Life goes through many stages. Each more chaotic than the other. A simple thing like being able to use dishwashers means to me that a person has settled well into life and its chaos. I saw Pop doing that. I saw her scraping stuff off, rinsing the dishes and loading the dishwasher after every meal. I saw how the dishwasher runs, and gives super clean, warm dishes back. I noticed how well it fit in her scheme of things and lifestyle. It was just… Right. Bandar was playing around, or eating or going off to sleep and a being a super-cute goofball. Pop and H are usually handling work and Bandar and life. It is like juggling pins and trying not to drop them, but those pins give the most satisfying feeling. It could be anything with regards to work, friends, family and home. A practically unusable piece of appliance, fit in so perfectly in their lifestyle. Of course, she had to use it, considering the amount of dishes that were being used. But even if I had a pile, I have avoided using it, only because I am used to a certain way and I hate changing it.

I think such is life. You suddenly find beauty in chaos. You make peace with things that scared you earlier. You manage to plunge into the unknown with the hope that you will make it. Maybe one day, I will also stop looking at it with suspicion and the dishwasher will fit into my life. I look forward to the dishwasher stage of my life. And to the Yacht and a Greek villa stage too.

*If you made it till here, congratulations on having read a strange post about an appliance. I was thinking about all this while in the shower and it just made sense to me.*

31

Why don’t I have new friends anymore?!

I was reading Pepper’s blog post here about friendships and I wanted to write a comment, which ended up being an essay on its own. So I thought, I may as well type out what I feel about my friends and friendships.
 
I was talking to a guy the other day, and he said something on the lines of, the more you live in USA, the lesser friends you tend to have. It made me think and I realized it’s not completely wrong. At least in my case, the statement holds weight. The only part being different for me was USA. This has happened to me every time that I changed schools or colleges. I have always had hesitation in talking to new people that I meet, and my insecurities about myself tends to compound the situation into total absurdity. I have switched so many schools, and my experiences with getting bullied, have made friendships difficult. For some reason, sustaining friendships was also a hard task for me. But it changed quite a bit in college, where I found some life-long friends(hopefully). Having verbal diarrhea is also not a big help.
 
Talking about friends in India, we were a group of girls and boys in the engineering college who are still together on different levels with each other. The girl group(we were roommates) is still together on Whatsapp. But my relationship with them is quite non-existent. The onus lies on my own personality issues too, but I will not take the blame on myself completely. I think I have stopped trying to please people, which was a compulsive habit even till a couple of years back and that has resulted in some acidic conversations. I do not feel welcome there, and so I don’t feel like I am a part of that group. Exceptions being of course Ani and Moo and I hope they understand my point of view. From the group of boys, I am friends with most of the boys who I was friends with earlier, but there are two people who are firmly within my circle of trust. Hazra and Shib are, and will always be family, and it makes me very happy that they are aware of this and reciprocate.
 
After moving to USA, I have switched between people and between groups and had reached a point where I needed only two people. The xBF and Abhi. The situation got weird after the xBF left, but Abhi made the time easier for me. We are not in the same cities. But he and Nisha are among the people I can count on if I get in trouble. Abhi is like the brother I would have had if I had one. I like to think that they are aware that I can be counted on if they ever need me to be there.

I have another really close friend who I work with and workout with(we recently paid extra for the gym membership, so that we can continue that after trying to work out alone since the last July). We have our lunch together where the other accompanies the person even if they have a lunch box, and we meet over the weekends to watch movies and have lunch again. We share stories, jokes, frustrations and work gossip and we yell at each other. People have mistaken us to be dating, but they realize eventually that we have turned into siblings, squabbling with each other. So that makes a grand total of THREE people around me who are friends in real sense of the word.
 
After a certain age, the dynamics of friendships change from complete buddy to people needed to spend evenings with, and even to call in case of emergencies. I may have a lot of friends around me, but friend-friend is becoming the Loch-Ness monster of people. There is a need to lower the bar of expectations when it comes to friendships. You cannot expect someone to show up when you crave a steaming bowl of Pho, leaving their partner or their kid behind. It is just like how you will not show up to spend an evening at the bar with your buddy during a work week. Situations change, priorities change, and the biggest cause of worry, proximity to each other changes. If we talk about making new friends in Grad school or at work, friendship thrives when you let your guard down, and that is seemingly impossible with so much competition involved. It is a cut throat world, and most people tend to hide their vulnerabilities.
 
When younger, friendship is a survival tactic. Proximity in school, college puts you together. You need someone to kill time with, to say the least. When family, partner, work and life are thrown into the equation, the unstructured relation of friendship becomes more vulnerable to collapse. It is no longer a real necessity. How well one deals with friends and balances relationships, depends on an individual’s personality and the need for social fulfilment. If they make a FRIENDS 2.0 I am sure Rachel and Phoebe haven’t met each other in 3 years. And Ross hasn’t heard from Joey since he moved away.

In the end, it all boils down to this insanely accurate definition.

  

28

Why you shouldn’t be living alone and why you should be…

So you have lived with your parents or roommates all along and you decide to take a plunge into normal adult life where you want to live independently and on your own terms. Or you may want to get away from a totally neurotic 60 year old crazy woman who has partial OCD and doesn’t give you the key to her iron door and gives you a tiny, tiny stove in the name of a kitchen. Aaaarrrgghhh. You may want to taste that freedom before (if) you get hitched and bound for life. Meh. 

I just did it, and here is why I will give you some good reasons to not do it.

1. Your rent is going to increase multifold. I did a stupid accounting mistake thanks to bi-weekly paychecks and now I am scrambling around figuring out the major dip in my banking account.

2. Utilities. You will be responsible for those. All of those. You will suddenly realize that you are an electricity guzzler and internet freak. You will also be responsible to buy lame things like dishwashing soap, and toilet bowl cleaner. Yuk.

3. If you have lived with parents so far, you WILL have to cook. Don’t think about eating out all the time, because point number 1. If you had cooking turns with roommate, you will miss the days where you could just chill and your roommate slogged. If you were in a PG situation, then you may be used to it.

4. If you are a hoarder like me, you will have atleast 15 big boxes and 2-3 suitcases with 4-5 plastic bags of stuff. Your back will hurt like no tomorrow and you will feel overwhelemed looking at the stuff you have.

5. I label my boxes like ‘kitchen-immediate use’, ‘bags, headgear and steam iron’, ‘dinner set and towel’. But there are two boxes I had to call ‘random shit’. I hate items that don’t have categories because they are usually small and hard to organize. Where the hell do I keep my finger puppet?? At least my Viking helmet, bunny ears, Disney Minnie ears and witch hat belonged to ‘Headgears’. Do I sound a leeeetle bit crazy?

6. I usually end up losing some stuff. So will you. Agreed you will find money and stuff in hidden places, but overall, you will lose stuff. I am still looking for my car registration papers due in November. Mummmmyyy.

7. When you live alone, you will have to take care of the uninvited guests. The creepy crawlies. Yep. No one is going to show up with a slipper when you yell out Spiiiidddddeeerrr!!

8. You will have to throw out the trash on your own, every few days. And collect the mail, every few days.

9. You will have to clean the house regularly on your own so that it doesn’t look like a hobo’s shelter.

10. You are responsible for your safety and to check if all the windows and doors are locked shut every night. There won’t be another person to blame if God forbid, something happens. Just run very fast back to your room after turning the lights off in the living room.

ONE reason why you should live on your own:

NO MORE PANTS in the house!!!

  

29

The birds and the bees

This is sort of a post, you might not be okay with, I don’t know! I mean, it is totally normal, but ‘reader’s discretion is advised’. I giggled while writing that. Coming from a girl who snorts every time she sees Dick’s sporting goods.

*—————————————–*

I have not received the talk from my parents. Although I remember, after I got my first cycle, my mom told my dad that ‘PB badhi ho gayi’( PB has matured). The statement was cringe-worthy and I started crying! My dad was visiting from Pune where he had just moved for a new job, and we were supposed to move after my school ended the session.

I have figured everything out mostly on my own. Since I got my cycles only in 8th grade, I had been through a great number of ‘Growing up’ sessions in school. Our class teacher in 7th was also our Moral Science teacher and we went through a chapter about love and making babies. In 8th, 9th and 10th and in great detail in 12th, my teachers did not ignore the topic, but took it well and explained everything out to us. My school in 7th and 8th was a girl’s school and my teacher encouraged us to ask us questions. At first we were hesitant, and then slowly hands started raising up. She spoke to us so well and debunked all the childish myths we had. She dealt with it so well, considering the delicate threshold of teenage that we were on. The best session we had was in 12th. It was the junior college with both guys and girls and we were on the chapter of reproduction for Bio II. Since it was advanced Biology, we were learning the micro details including cells, tissues and hormonal reactions. I will never forget how our zoology teacher took the session. I will take a leaf or two out of her book whenever I have kids. The confidence she showed about considering us as young adults who might be on the paths towards an active intimate life, was astounding. She was simply amazing! That was pretty much the age when people start dating. She took complete consideration of the fact that some young minds were not into it, while some must have started thinking about it. I think she changed my idea about seeing s*x as something ‘ewwwww’ or ‘against the culture’ to something that is completely one’s own discretion to be respected. Because of her, I neither consider virginity as a virtue, nor see s*x as something that everyone MUST have as soon as they hit adulthood. It is totally up to the individual. They want to abstain till marriage, fine, they want to get physically intimate, that is fine too. It should be about comfort. I shall not lie that I dont get a li’l stunned when girls my age tell me that they have an active s*x life, but that moment now lasts for just a few minutes. Those moments don’t even exist when it comes to the s*xcapades of my gora friends! 😉 But I do think I have a healthy and mature attitude towards s*x and I don’t get embarrassed about it. It is what it is.

On the other side, after my 12th, I realized how important biology lessons are! Some of my friends have no idea about their own bodies! It shouldn’t be an embarrassment to learn about your own anatomies. It is your own body after all, and it should be taken care of, loved and cherished.

My parents and I have had a somewhat healthy relationship. I have not actively told them about my boyfriends except the xBF, but they seemed to always know. About the BF number 2, they saw some of my texts and sat me down to talk about it. I lied through my teeth. But my parents never told me to break it off or anything, but they just told me how they felt he isn’t the person I deserve. My dad believes in letting me fall so that next time I step more carefully. He wants me to have my own experiences. Although he does look out for me to cushion my falls as much as he can.

There have been so many times my father has bought sanitary napkins for me and my mom. I used to cringe earlier when my mom would tell my dad to go and buy the packs for us. She told me that it is as normal as bathing, wearing a bra, or going to the loo. Yet, when I am home and give a list of stuff to my father to get from the pharmacy, I always tell him to not look at it and give it in the chemist’s hand, directly! And he ALWAYS opens it promptly and proceeds to read it aloud in front of me to embarrass me further. Uggghh!

But now, although I don’t normally openly announce if I am down, but can I tell my friends why I cant go to the gym or why I am looking very sickly. There is no point and no reason to hide it.

I can get away with saying ridiculous things to my mom. We openly discuss dogs’ s*x lives. She describes to me in great detail about how the new female forced Chintu(our semi-adopted 13 year old doggie) to get up from his slumber, and how he tried for a min with a limping leg, gave up and plopped back on the ground and went on to snooze while the female tried to wake him up again. She had once told me how my dog Moony was helped by my dad to reach the height of a taller female. All dad’s tries were in vain though and my dog seems to be perfectly happy with his third base and refuses to go for a home run.

I can still have normal conversation with my mom. But I know for a fact that when the time comes to tell her that I am preggers, it is going to be the most embarrassing moment of my life, next to when I will be seeing her for the first time after getting married. That will be the real deal.

PS : My parents CAN be totally WEIRD. There is a newspaper we used to get for free with our TOI. Pune Mirror. It has a column called ‘Ask the S*xpert’. The questions asked in it are absolutely hilarious and beyoooonnnddd stupid! After a few days, I noticed that the page was starting to be cut out. Like, legit, cut out. Only the section containing that column!?! My parents thought I wouldn’t notice? Haaaah!

PPS : My first google chat ever to the xBF, then just a friend who I had met a few times at Abhi’s place, involved a case of confused identity and I had accidentally revealed to him that I was down. 😀