11 Days Later: Resolutions

Verdict: Not too bad!

I bought this pretty-ish journal to fill in with the shenanigans of this year, and so far I have been fairly regular about sticking to forming good habits. I still have a few more I’d like to add to the overall mix, but thus far the progress has been satisfactory.

On the weight-loss front: Sadly, I had to drop my MMA classes. Budgetary constraints being the sole reason. I loved these classes, even though I was not progressing at the speed of the entire class, and I still had to get my boxing gloves and wraps. But the class itself awoke a desire and verve to be fitter and healthier, and shed some serious fat while enjoying myself. I also managed to reset my body clock, and have started waking naturally much earlier than before. I have now opted to go for a walk in the building area every morning, and follow up with some basic cardio from Sworkit at home. Two days in, and loving it.

On the bookworm habit: Didn’t read a book last week, so already 1 behind on my reading challenge of the year. However, I have drilled through another book already, and am more than three-quarters done with it. I do have some books I started last year to finish as well, and will increase my challenge count accordingly when I finish them. No cheating!

365 blogs this year: Mostly on track with this one too, considering I am currently writing my 10th post of the year. I am slightly behind, but that’s because I don’t sometimes have time to get to it. I anticipate travelling will also eat into time I set aside for blogging, but will give me plenty of fodder! So overall, win.

Things I still have to find time for:
– Practising French
– Keeping up with the sketching tutorials I started last year
– Filling my comic diary with some stories
– Baking/cooking more – I currently stick to easy stuff like noodles and eggs and rotis
Learning the fundamentals of photography – very necessary for upcoming work
– Picking up some key related skills to content strategy – UX, elements of web design, colour theory, and so on.

Well, that’s it really. I’m not displeased overall, and by the looks of things, I am unlikely to lapse from the set course. I’ve reached the point where exercise is less about goals, and more about needing to do it for my body to feel good. So I’m pleased about that. I only hope I don’t lose complete touch with boxing and Muay Thai, because I did love that so.

Here’s to more improvement in the days to come!

Advertisements

Nakedness and Profanity

I saw an art experiment video a few weeks ago [I think on Bored Panda. Yes!], where two women body-paint a model, and take her through the local mall. The woman isn’t completely naked, as she has a thong on, a couple of nipple pasties, a hat, pair of boots, and a scarf. The painted outfit comprised a long-sleeved, patterned black t-shirt and a pair of distressed jeans. It was all very realistic, even though it appeared to be extremely “tight” clothing.

The reactions were mostly amazement, but a few people didn’t even realise that she was unclothed. Those who did – at least some of the men – started surreptitiously filming her too.

At the time, I read the article, watched the video, and shook my head in amazement at people’s ability to come up with radical ideas for art, and then have the gumption to carry it out. But it wasn’t till I was describing the video to someone else that the “cover up” angle struck me.

The clothes painted on the model are actually fairly conservative, skin exposure-wise. They are “figure-hugging” obviously, but overall it isn’t a skimpy outfit. Thus, in the true sense of the word, she is all covered up. That is, her SKIN is covered up. So does that make the colour of skin objectionable in some way? Or since no one reacted poorly (or at least on the video) to the skin-tight “clothes”, wouldn’t the SHAPE of the body be more inappropriate, so to speak?

All right, so I have no answers to those questions, because I have this vague sense of appropriate and inappropriate that is culturally dinned into my head. If I examine it too carefully, the premise falls apart. At least, it is devoid of logic in my mind that the human body (generally the female one) should be covered up to suit the propriety of other people. The word ‘respect’ is bandied about frequently in conjunction with religious places, where “proper” attire is expected. In that case, this girl’s “outfit” is conservative, yet she is wearing next to nothing – a fact one would only realise on very careful observation, to be honest.

In a less extreme scenario, this has happened with me. I tend to spend much of my life outside home clad in jeans and a t-shirt. Granted, the t-shirts vary in style, cut, colour, transparency, and other factors, but they serve to mostly cover my torso.

During my trip to an ashram in Kerala, the same one where my father passed away, I was prevailed upon to drape a shawl on my person in public. [I wouldn’t say I was forced, because I opted to yield in an effort to avoid confrontation. But I wouldn’t have done it unless I was exhorted to do it. It was unwillingly done, is what I am trying to say.]

In those environs, my dress code – for the lack of a better description – was inappropriate. Most of the women wore sarees with sleeved blouses, both long and short. It was unusual to see a woman wearing a salwar kameez, the other ubiquitous Indian outfit, so me in my jeans [and my mother in her capris] caused quite the sensation.

One of the resident ladies there, Dr. B, who assisted with the setup of a primary health care centre as she was a doctor, was an unpleasant, abrasive woman with strong opinions, which she repeatedly forced down people’s throats. There are several stories about her antics, but I choose not to corrupt my blog with reiterating that negativity apart from this small sample.

Dr. B came up to us one afternoon, to tell us about a prayer meeting that was scheduled later in the day. She looked me over, and exclaimed, rather impertinently: “Don’t you wear salwar kameezes at all?!” implying that this was some major character flaw with her tone and incredulity. Not that I needed to justify it to her, but I do actually don an ethnic outfit occasionally; the important factor in these sartorial decisions being my own desire to wear them at all.

In the time that has since passed, I have thought of innumerable ways I’d rather have responded to that insolent remark. Of course, the moment is lost and shall forevermore remain so, but it does sometimes give me a certain amount of vicious pleasure to think of taking that odious woman down a couple of notches. How uncharitable of me. I’m working on it. 😦

All these thoughts jostled in my mind and became almost connected to each other. And then I had an epiphany which resounded in my mind with almost bell-like clarity: the profanity of someone’s attire doesn’t lie with the person, but in the eyes and mind of the beholder.

[I know other people say this too, but to have the connections snap together in one fluid motion is quite the experience.]

Therefore, if I have a problem with someone’s outfit, the problem lies solely with me. Vice versa too. I am actually rather comfortable with that thought.

Overwhelmed

I am constantly astounded by my ability to experience vastly different emotions from morning to evening. Till early afternoon, I was feeling rather buoyant overall. I put that squarely at the door of finding someone attractive, and dare I say them finding you attractive in return. Early stages yet, obviously, but this interaction definitely holds a lot of promise.

Heading off for a nap, to reflect on the ridiculous butterflies that had erupted in my midsection, I was fine. And then I woke up.

In all my castle-building, I had temporarily shelved the problem of work. More specifically, where are the next lot of projects going to come from? Basically the ogre of finances reared its ugly head. Being an entrepreneur requires a marketing mindset, and I appear to lack that vital aspect.

My parents, both exceptionally talented in their respective domains, always said that I had to knock on doors. Yes, but how exactly does one knock on virtual doors in this country? To get the simplest acknowledgement is such a monumental ask in the first place that I suspect cold callers get the cold shoulder with depressing regularity.

Last night, and a portion of this morning, was fairly bleak, as I considered options. I am glad that one of my projects is coming to close, to be honest, because while they’ve been decent, they’ve also expected me to jump through a lot of hoops. The second big project has been born off this one, where one of the directors asked me to consult for his wife’s company too. That is going great now, albeit it had its fits and starts in the beginning.

I got an earful from the mother about not giving the accessories enough attention, and it forced me to confront my fears about them: the marketing thing again; the funds that I need to pump into the enterprise; and much more besides.

After a bit of girding of the loins and general cleaning of mental cobwebs, the mental funk has passed. None of the situational circumstances have changed, but at the will to continue is back.

That’s something.

2018!

Of course I am writing a new post. There was no doubt I would try again to blog consistently, after flaming out colossally last year. I may have publicly admitted to 10 posts a month, but I was secretly gunning for a post a day for the year. Ha!

Anyway, I did manage to keep one resolution from last year: getting fit. Not that I am thin by any stretch of imagination, but the fact is that I now have tons of energy after joining and sticking with my fitness class. I was floundering there too initially, but in September I decided to really power through mightily. And it worked! I love the classes, and I’ve added going for a morning walk to the other 3 days of the week. In toto, I am working out 5-6 days a week and loving every second. (My muscles are not, however. They still scream in protest, and it genuinely feels like they are being shredded from the inside out.)

On the subject of resolutions, I don’t have concrete ones this year. Instead, I bought a pretty planner/diary which I hope will motivate me to fill it up. I still have the 52 movies and books this year, after reaching 48/36 in 2017. Let’s see. No stressing out about it though.

Funnily enough, this morning I wanted to skip my walk. But then I got up, and I figured, I want to go. And I did! Since there was no pressure of resolutions, I actually felt pleased about going. Yay!

Well, this has been somewhat of rambly post. But all in all, I just wanted to say that I am learning to give myself a break, and to stop and live in the moment instead of falling down a productivity-failure-despair rabbit hole.

Dear 2018, I know you will have ups and downs. I don’t expect you to be a bed of roses. And that’s ok. At least I have the ability to live your moments, and whether to be happy in those moments is wholly up to me. Here’s to a shared journey from this moment forth.

To Be Or Not Be Famous

For the last couple of months, I have realised a public site for work is necessary. Since I am a writer by profession, I need to showcase samples and clips of my work, and also the different styles I am capable of tackling.

Usually, a prospective client asks for a blog link, and earlier I used to send my personal blog link (not this one) to them. But that was when I was rather young and green, and the blog posts reflected the turmoil and upheaval in my personal life far too much to be professional. Nowadays, I have a bigger body of work, but it is rather scattered. Some of it is on the web, so I send links, some of it is in print, so I have scanned copies of articles. There is just a whole mess of stuff.

I also briefly considered having another personal blog, but more public. I opened an account on Medium with the express intention of setting one up, but I couldn’t start typing. I have a compulsive nature sometimes, and the desire to have everything under one umbrella (at least the stuff that belongs together) is far too strong.

For a few weeks, I pondered the conundrum. How do I have a blog that straddles the line between personal and professional adequately? I cannot possibly rant about people in my life, and the behaviour which I find inexplicable over there. It is unprofessional. What if I somehow become well-known? *shudder* I am terrified someone will find THIS blog at all. I just don’t want the hassle.

Finally, I have put to bed the desire to have the blog at all. I will, at some point, set up a site with my work. That site will have stuff that is acceptable for other people to see and read. This one will continue to be my outlet for all things feelings and personal growth, at least for the time being. I need this space more than I could have realised. It is therapy for me.

At least, until I change my mind again.

You’re Not Supposed To Be Invincible

As a writer and editor, my vocabulary skills are fairly well-developed. However, I wouldn’t say they were absolutely at the pinnacle of achievement. I haven’t got the best vocabulary in the world, and I doubt anyone will till such time as Stephen Fry is still alive and kicking. The man’s repertoire and eloquence is staggering.

I would say that my vocabulary was moderately good from rather a young age, say from my burgeoning teenage years. I read quite a bit back then, although it was mostly novels. Nowadays, I have more of an eclectic reading palette: history, biographies, philosophy, and more. Each book adds another voice to my head, or polishes off a dusty facet from an existing one. Ultimately, reading is what made me a writer.

Now that I have done trumpeting my abilities, [and strongly resisting the urge to add disclaimers everywhere] I recall a conversation I had with a colleague recently. He was asking how one was supposed to know how to correctly pronounce words, if they were new to him. He then went into a tirade about how complicated English was. Before I could reply, another colleague joined us, and she caught the tail end of the tirade. She mostly agreed, because as an aspiring writer herself, she felt double the pressure to be word perfect each time.

She narrated an instance where her ex-boyfriend mocked her for mispronouncing a word. She learned speedily enough that pronunciation was everything. Much like I had thought, many years previously.

When I was at school, I had a friend who was incredibly smart. When I say ‘smart’, I mean genius-level. She topped at everything she did: school work, ballet, and art are a few of the fields I can actually recall. I was a shy kid, with positive vibes and confused at best. I was intelligent, and I occasionally still show sparks of this mystical ability, but overall I spent more time confused than otherwise. I didn’t have her staggering vocabulary, but she made me feel awful if I ventured to ask for explanations of the big words she used. I learned to sew my mouth shut, because mockery was hardly a desirable outcome for a preteen.

It took me years to grow out of that insecurity, although she wasn’t the first or the last person to make me feel inadequate for simply not knowing something. Today, I stand a very different person altogether, and I have learned to be proud of being able to ask if I don’t know something. Because it means I have grown, and I am human.

I didn’t say all of this to my colleagues though, even as the thoughts flashed in my mind. I did however say that it was ok not to know all the words; or to mispronounce them. Language is a vehicle for communication, and providing the person in front understands what you mean, your words are successful. That’s the most important point.

Secondly, mispronouncing a word, but using it correctly, means you understands its import. Also, it means that you learned it while reading. A habit usually adopted by intelligent people.

Thirdly, most linguists and passionate lovers of language will say that language continuously evolves. It is only idiotic prescriptivists that nitpick flaws.

Finally, and on a more philosophical train of thought, no one is meant to be invincible or perfect. If we didn’t make mistakes, we would hardly be human would we?

So Much Noise

I am not complaining. Really. This is not a rant. It is the beginning of me posting to the blog more and more, because of what I am trying to avoid in other online arenas.

The noise of other people. It has become overwhelming.

In Pune, and then Goa, I took to Twitter like a dying fish to life-giving water. It provided me release from my isolated life, and thrived in the micro-interactions on the platform. But then, I had no work to speak off then. I spent very little time in productive pursuits. I tried to fill the gaping holes of my existence with validation in the form of 140-character messages. And it worked.

Fast forward to Mumbai, and I was happy to shift focus to WhatsApp, and the messages from my dearly beloved. Only from him though. Very few other people messaged me at all. I am led to believe now that a single girl has a lot more friends than one in a relationship. Empirical evidence bears me out.

But now, I am swamped with God-given work. I am deeply grateful for all the opportunities to flex my productivity and grow in these ways. Whatever little free time spills over, I spend with my mother, and with my close friends. The common thread of these friends are that they are undemanding. If I want to chat with them, they will. But they keep it light. There are days and weeks that go past without us talking. And that’s great.

However, I have given up on social media. I put out one tweet, and I am inundated with responses. Most of the times, I don’t want responses. I just want to vent or express a thought so that it will get out of my head. But no, people have to comment. HAVE TO. There is a driving compulsion to do so that makes me groan with frustration. Why? Because they aren’t doing anything wrong. I have just outgrown the interaction. I don’t want to exchange more than a few words with anyone in a given day. I am tired of long discussions.

On the upside though, that means I’ll be blogging more. I still need the outlet, and the relative obscurity (nothing relative about it!) of this blog wins.

And that makes me quite happy!