Blogging about Plogging

BO has been rather pleased to learn that the idea of voluntarily picking up random trash from places has a word now. It’s called Plogging.

I came across this term while on one of my Instagram suction spirals, and read about the Ploggers of India, Ploggers of Delhi, etc. who are basically groups of runners who voluntarily pick up trash on their running paths – most of this trash being plastic waste.

I remember doing exactly this on my school compound many, many years ago when I’d newly moved to Bhubaneswar and just entered 9th Standard. I didn’t have friends until a few weeks into school, so in those early days when I didn’t have any one to “hang out with”, I’d spend some time going around the campus by myself (getting to know it), and picking up bits of plastic waste like empty wrappers and plastic bags, collecting them and depositing them in the main waste bin. I don’t know if anyone saw me doing this back then (and found it strange), but I don’t think the thought that someone else might find it weird ever stopped me. Though I must confess that once I’d made friends, I stopped doing this… my plogging wasn’t done with any major noble motive, just a little pastime at snack break.

Back then I did only think of it as random trash picking, and it felt rather therapeutic. Now there’s a nice little word (and hashtags galore!!!) for it!

More power to all the ploggers out there – specially to the ones who don’t know that there’s a special word for the good work they’re doing!

May Round Up – RBC, Summer Drinks, Promotion, Furniture, Fani, Vacation Planning & more

Again, a mixed bag post:

  1. Ramiz Baba Challenge 5 (IPL 2019) (“RBC“)¬†concluded on 12th May, with a much anticipated Motabhai (Mumbai Indians) victory over Dhoni’s team (Chennai Super Kings). We watched it with friends, and even after having gone Mumbai 90% as my prediction for the night, I ended up rooting for CSK as I thought a CSK win might still benefit me (on account of the predictions those around me on Leaderboard, who had even higher %% than 90%). Ultimately, despite an MI win, I pretty much stayed where I was due to MATHS. I ended up earning as many points with a 90 as others did with 95 or even 100 as I’d played fewer games (taken more leaves), and that meant more movement with a smaller match score (it’s complicated, but not that much) (those who have played this will understand).
  2. RBC took up a lot of my mindspace from end of March to early May. It not only provided tons of entertainment, but I also ended up learning a thing or two about T20 cricket, the various IPL teams, local players, international players, etc. I can’t say I would’ve learnt any of this had it not been for my involvement in RBC (and TRUST ME, RBC sucks you in). It was actually really nice to have something specific planned for every single evening (i.e. watching and obsessing over the match). It filled up a lot of time that I didn’t realise earlier needed filling. Being a part of RBC also made me feel like a part of a friendly & engaged community. It was SUCH a fun experience and I was REALLY sad when it ended. Luckily, we have the ICC Cricket World Cup coming up end of this month so here’s to RBC Season 6!!
  3. Almost forgot to mention, but I ended up Rank 9 out of 67 total players (not all played actively) (but that’s not to say that they did not play WELL; in fact many players who did not play actively at all but only played their defaults ended up well above many who did in fact play very enthusiastically and made active choices for each match). I was overall happy with finishing 9th (as a first time who did not know anything much about cricket or IPL or current players), but it’s of course a lie to say that I didn’t care about the rank ūüėõ
  4. I was perhaps most happy about finishing above the husband (“Y“) (who finished at 10). Hoping this will shut him up about sports&maths and my lack of knowledge about the same for a bit (hasn’t happened so far, the shutting up ie :D)
  5. Yes, much of the last few weeks was all about the RBC, and seriously, even 5 long posts about it will not cover the happy influence it has had on me.
  6. Summer is well and truly here, and I have discovered my favourite summer drinks to be: home made aam panna, jal jeera (Catch jaljeera powder works just fine), fresh chaas from home made dahi, mango milk share made with just alphonso mangoes and milk (sheer bliss).
  7. Y has received a much anticipated promotion at work, which has led to many celebratory outings and meals!
  8. We have FINALLY replaced our sink-y sofas with new, firm sofas! One is a lovely L shaped sofa which is basically a three seater and a chaise lounge (my new spot) put together. The other is a chesterfield-esque arm chair from Gulmohar Lane, which honestly was such a HUGE disappointment. They basically sent a defective piece, and then made it impossible for me to return it (I might write in detail about this later, as I was really excited about this piece, but sadly, it was a major disappointment). Suffice to say I will never be ordering from Gulmohar Lane again, and I don’t recommend it as they do not understand their customer’s basic needs at all. It’s a pity really, because they do have some lovely designs.
  9. A huge cyclone hit my home state and particularly my hometown of Bhubaneswar early in May – Cyclone Fani. It was much worse than anticipated by the people, but was properly accounted for by the government. I couldn’t get in touch with my family for about 2 whole days after the cyclone made landfall because of the extensive damage done to the electricity & telecom infrastructure. It was rather nerve wrecking. I did manage to piece together vital information from my friend T who kept me posted as soon as she got network, Instagram posts from people there (some who had small moments of access managed to post online), and other people I know from there who happened to have a bit of network now and then. ¬†It’s been about two weeks now, and they have regular electricity back (came back only after about 8-10 days!!!) (but they managed in the interim as their apartment complex had a diesel generator which operated every other hour or so), but network is still patchy and unreliable at best. We have still not been able to video chat, although regular phone calls are working alright and whatsapp is also working fine.
  10. Y and I have FINALLY booked our summer vacation (a short 5 day trip to the Maldives in June). Yeayyyyy!!! A week is all that Y could manage in leave at this point, and I’m not grumpy about it at all. This is a pretty last minute trip, and planning any thing longer than 5-6 days this close is NOT my scene (I love planning every little detail months in advance, yes). After an all-consuming three days of endless research, obsessive review reading, photo to photo comparison across TripAdvisor Instagram Facebook (user generated content is the most authentic!), we have finally decided on Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa. I will keep you posted on how it fares.
  11. I also realised I BADLY need out of town breaks (preferably nature breaks) every couple of months or at least once in three months. It’s a must to refill the tank, and refuel creative energies. When one is constant creating all kinds of work, and content-y things (for work), it can be quite draining, and a break is quite necessary to sustain momentum. By the time we go for this Maldives vacation, it will have been 7 full months since my last break).
  12. May 2019 was also the month of the last few Game of Thrones episodes. Like most other people who have read, watched and loved the series, I too was disappointed by the gaping holes in the writing this season. I could finally like the second half of the last episode (after hating on an entire season), because I could accept those endings as things GRRM must have come up with and communicated with the writers. BUT the writers used those ends, but did not link from where the source material left off with the endings in a proper way AT ALL. The only good thing about this terrible writing is that I did not really feel sad about GOT ending. I was quite indifferent today when I watched the last last episode!
  13. I have ordered a new Katie Daisy Planner for 2019-2020 from bookdepository.com. It was supposed to have shipped on May 15th, but it hasn’t still shipped and now I’m in a conundrum about whether to cancel it, and order on Amazon.com (and pay higher shipping), or just wait for BD to get its act together.
  14. I also ordered some lovely stationery from a chinese shop on Etsy, but that also hasn’t yet arrived (some not so great luck with international stationery shipping of late).
  15. But, on the bright side, I have snagged a few second hand books from Amazon which arrived in great condition: Emma Block’s book on watercolors looks lovely on my shelves (and it does not feel like a second hand copy at all in that it is in perfect/ unused condition), ¬†Edith Holden’s The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady (which is just such a delight, please look it up), Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Chronicles of Avonlea. I’m still deciding which book(s) to carry with me for the holiday, and I’m really drawn towards LMM because of all the endless nature scenes in her work which I find most refreshing. Also, I’m making a conscious choice of turning into a hoarder rather than ordering kindle books (where possible), because I find it most cumbersome to “flip through” a kindle book while re-reading. I might donate some of my not-favourites later for space reasons, but until then I will keep adding. I also love the tactile feel of holding a real paperback (can’t say I love the feeling of holding a big, heavy hardback), and writing my name on the first page (I ALWAYS write my name, and the month I read/ started reading it in), dog-earing the pages as my own bookmark, marking and underlining non-fiction and other such simple pleasures which only a paperback affords.
  16. Potential new neighbours might take a long time to move in, because they are getting extensive renovation work done (pretty much gutted the whole house). Let’s see.

Random Questions & Observations

  1. Since when are orange lick lollies for Rs. 10 instead of Rs.5?
  2. Should I go back to the old school technique of freezing Fanta in kulfi moulds?
  3. Has any one tried making Jal Jeera ice lollies in the aforementioned method?
  4. Blood sample collection via needle prick hurts way less than threading.
  5. Muscle injections hurt a bit more than threading.
  6. I do not look my age according to most people I’ve met recently.
  7. Number 6 is a good thing.
  8. Things that didn’t seem so good when one is a teenager suddenly feel very good when one is no longer one (basically once one crosses the mid-twenties zone).
  9. Ageing is a privilege.
  10. The “power chill” setting on Daikin split ACs is a farce. Do not use it. It does not live up to its name, and has quite the opposite effect. Stick to the regular cooling mode.
  11. We are capable of keeping a dining table cloth tidy (as proved by 4+ weeks of spill free table cloth).
  12. IPL and Ramiz Baba Challenge (I’ll explain later) have brought much joy & entertainment to my life.
  13. Indian e-commerce people should attempt to pack with less (WAY LESS) carton and bubble wrap.
  14. Blacky Junior is nowhere in sight these days (wonder which block s/he is guarding these days).
  15. Friends is the best show ever.
  16. Rewatching Friends never gets tiresome (currently on the 3rd or 4th rewatch).
  17. Game of Thrones final season is on!
  18. We might (MIGHT) have new neighbours soon!!!

Highland Fling by Nancy Mitford – Review type thing

Highland Fling by Nancy Mitford - Review 2

BlogOwner (“BO“) is making her way through Nancy Mitford’s 8 novels, first of which is Highland Fling, which BO has just finished reading.

Published in 1931, Highland Fling is her (Nancy Mitford’s) debut novel, and unfortunately it does somewhat feel that way – a first “attempt” of sorts. Normally she (BO) abandons a book if it doesn’t engage her within the first 100 pages (her 100 Page Rule) (because, sorry, but decisions on sunk cost are not being made here). However, this book turned out to be educational in some ways, so she carried along.

Highland Fling by Nancy Mitford - Review 1Highland Fling by Nancy Mitford - Review 3

BO had been reading up about the Mitford sisters for a while, and wanted to dig into some of Nancy Mitford’s beloved works like The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. However, it was quite hard to find well priced paperbacks in the Indian market. Nancy is not one of those ubiquitous English authors here, so well, one had to¬†look. Finally, she stumbled into an omnibus publication!!! All 8 Nancy Mitford novels, published in one paperback volume, for under Rs. 1000? Yes, please.

As expected, of course, the volume is quite unwieldy, and does not make for a good travel companion (which is a shame, because these books are perfect for entertaining, holiday reading). Also, the type is pretty small, with very tight line spacing. One can safely assume 1 page of the omnibus would translate into 1.8 – 2 pages of a modern paperback. However, all of this was expected from a volume which comes with eight, EIGHT novels in one value-for-money volume.

Having laid her paws on this little (only metaphorically) volume, BO decided to read them in order of publication.

First up, was Highland Fling. Most of the humour felt a little forced, and¬†too¬†cutting – you will understand when you read it. The story doesn’t quite go anywhere (which is usually not a problem for BO when the narrative is strong). You keep waiting for something to happen, but nothing much really does.

The characters are strong and well developed, and it gives a little glimpse into the world of the aristocratic society of pre-Second-World-War Britain. There are interesting observations to be made, and BO found it rather educational (as she is not a British lady from that era, or any era). Fans of Downton Abbey will appreciate it, although of course, that was set in the Edwardian era, it is interesting to note the difference in sentiments between generations.

There were some “darker” themes explored with regard to war, particularly the views of the two generations in the book towards it. BO has been reading some other books set in that time frame (Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery – which had to do with the First World War), so it was particularly engaging for her. It’s also quite fascinating in context of the events of the past couple of months here in India – where much discussion about war has taken place.

Coming back to Highland Fling, BO wouldn’t really recommend it to others, EXCEPT if they exhibit a particular interest in that period in Britain, or they are a completist.

Here’s hoping Christmas Pudding (the next in line) is better ūüôā

p.s.: The cover of this omnibus is lovely.

Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life by Nina Stibbe – Review type thing

Love Nina by Nina Stibbe Book Review Despatches from Family Life

Happy to report that Blogowner (“BO“) finished this little gem a couple of weeks back – Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe – and can’t wait to get into more of Nina’s writing. It’s a collection of letters that Nina wrote to her sister back in the 1980s when she was nannying for Mary Kay Wilmers of London Review of Books fame.

It’s interesting to note how she came about to publish these letters. Turns out she read out one of these at a party to honour Mary Kay, and MK being the literary type, there were many publisher types present. One of them reached out to Nina about the possibility of publishing the letters, to which MK said no the first time around. After a couple of years, she (Nina) was asked again, and this time MK agreed. So. Thank you MK!!

BO loves reading things about the mundane things in people’s lives, nuances in relationships, things that one often only reports to confidantes they speak to on a daily basis – particularly (read: only) when they are narrated with a sense of humour. Nina’s letters to her sister are very much of this nature. Nothing much really happens, except all the little things that pepper their daily lives with much humour every now and then.

The main topics that Nina talks about are – the family that she lives with, relationships with her neighbours and things they do together, some cooking adventures, her reading, lots of observations on people who visit the family, and so on. Basically daily life type things. Note that many of her neighbours are famous British literary & film types (such as Alan Bennett). Nothing earth shattering. Nothing shocking. Just pure entertainment.

BO is quite inspired by Nina’s healthy social life with her neighbours, seeing that BO has been making attempts to get to know her own neighbours (in a totally non-creepy way).

While midway through this book, BO went ahead and ordered Nina’s first work of fiction (Man at The Helm), although it’s supposed to be quite autobiographical. She also discovered several other authors while spiralling in this British-funny-writing rabbit hole. Turns out, she really loves the British, except the colonisation bit.

Love, Nina is supposed to be all non-fiction, with very little tweaking, but these letters have so many hilarious bits that BO was quite envious of Nina leading such a life full of funny episodes.

In one of her letters she says:

“There’s always a lot of autobiography in fiction and fiction in autobiography. It has to be that way otherwise they’d be unreadable (except by the author).”¬†(page 238)

BO quite agrees with this assessment. Also something that should be taken note of while reading this Blog (autobiographical).

This book is a little treasure trove of funny anecdotes, and stories – with lots of interesting (very real) characters. She (BO) didn’t want these letters to stop.

Does Nina Stibbe write a blog?

p.s..: Please leave behind recommendations for books written by authors with a sense of humour. Much obliged.

p.p.s.: Apparently there is a BBC Miniseries based on Love, Nina. (note to self: Get hold of it.)

 

Unsolicited Protection by The Friendly Neighbourhood Dog

Friends, BO has a little protector. One whom she did not ask to be so.

Their friendly neighbourhood dog, Blacky Junior (son/ daughter of Blacky, who has been in the neighbourhood for years) is a young doggo, and has lots of energy.

S/he (Blacky Junior) has been found galloping around, wagging her/his tail (presumably wanting the humans around to play with her/him). This behaviour, quite honestly, scares BO a bunch as she is not what you would call a “dog person”. Quite the opposite. No, not cat person either. BO is generally not an animal person. Sure, she obsessively watches cute cat videos, and loves looking at pictures of little puppies (especially labs and golden retrievers), but that’s about it. Pets? Not interested.

Blacky (senior) used to grace the stairs of BO’s building for quite a while. S/he is quite active and agile, and would politely move over when any human needed to pass by (narrow stairwell). BO is quite comfortable around Blacky, and is confident that s/he would move whenever required.

Blacky Junior, not so polite. Would rather play with the humans who, quite frankly are just minding their own business (eg. BO). Blacky Junior has also now turned into a kind of a body guard and rests right outside BO’s house. Now, Blacky Junior is actually quite young and playful (BO sort of knows this (unconfirmed) because she has seen Blacky Junior play with others, and also hasn’t seen Blacky Junior for too long (hence young)), but to people who don’t live here, Blacky Junior appears to be a nice, big, well built doggo.

Today (like every other day), BO had a delivery from Amazon. Amazon Guy rings up BO.

AG:¬†Ma’am, you have a delivery.

BO: Yes. Sure.

AG:¬†It’s on the top floor right?

BO: Yes.

AG:¬†I’m at the gate. Please come pick.

BO: Please come to the top floor.

AG: I am almost on your landing, but there is a doggie. Could you please come collect?

Thereafter commenced a game which reminded BO of Dog and the Bone from school. BO standing at her gate, Blacky Junior right next to her main gate (outside), AG at the bottom of the stairs. AG wants BO to go to him and pick up the parcel. BO wants AG to come over. Blacky Junior in the middle. Both humans afraid of Blacky Junior’s potential moves. Although, it should be clarified that at this stage Blacky Junior appeared to be taking her/his mid morning nap after a nice little meal (sleepy and cosy).

Ultimately, AG and BO came to an impasse. BO suggested meeting at middle ground (which literally was the edge of the landing). AG carefully placed the package at the edge of the landing and gave it a nice push on the floor. It slid across, BO lept, quickly picked it up and went back inside. Blacky Junior had not moved.

Whew.

I have (sort of) left Facebook – Bye Bye Newsfeed!

I first started using Facebook back in 2006 or 2007. It was the “cooler version” of Orkut (remember this?! and also the way we used to bug each other to write “testimonials”¬†*shudders*). I remember convincing my friends¬†to join Facebook, being an early adopter and what not.

Back then there was no Newsfeed. There was no like button.

Remember back when we used to write on each other’s wall and wait for the other person to write back on ours? (sidenote:¬†why didn’t we just continue emailing? perhaps the public angle of it was thrilling in some way (eww)). There was still some element of connection present.

Soon enough, it turned mostly into a place where one had to dodge being tagged in dodgy photos, and the era of the restricted profile. Also, at around this point, the Like button made its debut.

Initially, we “liked” only the stuff that we truly liked. Quite quickly, there became a bit of a social expectation to like & comment on your friends’ posts. As a matter of duty. And I’m not even complaining about this. It’s quite nice to see that your friends are seeing your posts and are talking to you online. All rosy.

Soon enough there were enough non-personal items making it to Facebook – like news items, political views, and¬†comments on said items. You couldn’t log in to Facebook and not see some kind of comment war happening on your Newsfeed. Very impersonal. Though, I’m not denouncing it. I have been part of many such comment feuds, and I don’t grudge people who like to engage – sure, it could be entertaining for some.

However, soon enough my personal Newsfeed was basically a mish mash of articles from news portals, comment wars between some “friends” and other people, and life gloats. And that was it. Seriously.

The only personal posts that I ever saw / see are those of either major milestone moments or random brags by people that I haven’t spoken to in years, YEARS (like 5+ years), attention seeking status messages, political appeals.

Now, let me be clear. I have done all of these things on Facebook.

One thing that I feel I sincerely got back from my Facebook postings were that people in my network were generally clued into my work (especially when I shared a ton of photography and was working as a photographer), and my travel posts also led to some fun heart to heart conversations with people who were planning trips to places I had already been to and wanted some advice or inputs.

Apart from that, scrolling through my Newsfeed really felt like a massive drain of energy, but one that is highly addictive for no logical reason. It’s not like I particularly engaged with people’s content. At best, I would leave behind a polite like/love or a small comment. That’s about it. The engagement seemed very,¬†VERY superficial.

I even went back to my older Facebook posts, and re-read them. They were more like full fledged conversations. Not polite little comments. I suppose once Whatsapp and other forms of instant messaging came up, people stopped posting such things on each other’s walls and instead just IM – that is obviously a very natural and sensible thing to do.

But that leaves the question – what is Facebook useful for me in my life today?

I certainly feel like laughing when I see that I have 534984293¬†friends on Facebook. The illusion of a false sense of friendship has certainly been broken. However, it’s of course not untrue that your Facebook “friends” are indicative of a good network.

Today I mainly use Facebook to keep up with a coupe of Groups that I’m a part of. I do Physique57 online, and we have a lovely supportive group of fellow Physiquers from all over the world. I login every once in a while to check out what’s happening out there. I also use it to keep tabs on local events. It seems here in India people would much rather post events on Facebook than on other sites like Eventbrite, Meetup etc. So that is another useful feature. Since Facebook is no longer a part of my work social media marketing, I luckily don’t have to manage any Page there (quite a relief).

I felt that leaving Facebook completely is not a sane choice for me right now. BUT, scrolling through the Newsfeed is also not sane. Especially when the Newsfeed really doesn’t have much personal content any more (and that’s what I loved about Facebook in the early days).

Hence, I installed a nifty little plugin as a Chrome Extension, which basically switches off my Newsfeed. So I can peacefully login, check my groups, check specific profiles if I’m interested, and LOG OUT. Logging out is so important, considering Facebook tracks all your web activity if you do them while still logged in.

Do I wish people birthday on Facebook? Nope. Nah.

Something really hilarious, but sad happened a few years back. My mum was on the verge of robotically wishing someone happy birthday on being urged by Facebook (like we ALL do / have done), but right before she hit post, she noticed that some other person who had, with every good intention, wished a happy birthday, had been informed that the birthday person is dead. Oops. Talk about a faux pax.

Since then I resolved to not robotically wish anybody. I’ve gone rather old school – jotting down birthdays in my planner and wishing people by calling them up or at least texting them. And of course, it’s limited only to the closest of close people who also remember to wish me on my birthday (duh).

Needless to mention (but I will still mention) I have deleted my own birthday on Facebook, so I no longer receive robotic (or ANY!!!) wishes on Facebook – it was quite the reality check, and I got to see who really bothered to remember my birthday (spoiler alert: just family and friends I talk to very often, which is not that many). It’s October 11th, just saying ūüôā

Any way, ever since I’ve done this Newsfeed eradication, my Facebook life has been much more simple. Sure, I do login once in a while with the plugin switched off, and chuckle at some witty memes, but thats really it.

I don’t miss the Newsfeed at all. And I quite enjoy a little weekly or fortnightly stroll of the Newsfeed without getting sucked into it. I highly recommend it.

Making Friends as an Adult, Zumba and Nina Stibbe

What is an often left unsaid, strange & tricky side of “adulting”?

MAKING NEW FRIENDS.

There, I said it. I don’t care if it makes me sound like a creepy little person who wants to make fraandship, but it’s really friendship (heck, I’d even take acquaintance-ship at this point) that I’m after.

When you’re a kid or a teenager, you go to school, college, etc. You are forced to meet people over and over. You’re kind of forced to have a seat partners, and designated seating areas, group projects & assignments, extra curricular activities – all fertile territory for healthy friend-making. At the least you land up with a nice little network of acquaintances that you can casually refer to as “my friend”. For example in a conversation about snacks, you are well within your right to refer to an acquaintance as a friend like so:

Oh, yeah, a friend of mine is from Pune – he gets the best bhakarwadi ever!

If you work in an office, yes, you have great opportunity there to meet a bunch of people with a similar background as yours. You might even manage to make a few friends, but lets be honest, they are mostly strictly “work friends”, and we all know what that means. You have a close set of people you like to bitch about your boss with, and the rest are polite conversation worthy at best. If you’re lucky, you might meet a kindred spirit or two, and if you are very lucky, they are not the “competitive types” as such (and I’m assuming, dear sweet reader that you are also not of that annoying variety), and you can genuinely be great friends – well in any case if you are both weirdly competitive and are still kindred spirits, it could still work. The verdict isn’t out on that one yet.

BUT. What happens when you work from home? Or you move jobs and there aren’t too many people in your office who are in a similar age group as yours? What then?

As you probably know, BlogOwner has been a full time work from home professional for more than 4 years now. FOUR YEARS of not having new people be introduced to her daily life and routine. It takes a toll, people. It does.

The “turn” perhaps happened in May of 2015 (about 6 months after going full independent with her job) when BO felt an urgent need to “make some friends”.

Since then, she has attended group fitness classes (too much of a pain to get to and get back from because she doesn’t drive), joining two different gyms etc. Although, she did meet a kindred spirit at her Crush Fitness class – it really was the funniest story. Both of them looked at each other in the first class and thought the other must be a teenager still in college (and obviously way younger and naive-er than themselves who was a working professional and also married). At the next class, they happened to walk out of the class together and they got chatting. The conversation went something like this (remember, this is something that happened 4 years back):

Her: So what do you do/ study?

Me: *airily with a hint of elderly superiority* Erm, I am a lawyer turned photographer. What about you? You’re in college?

Her: *looking shocked and amused* I am a journalist! I work, and I’m married.

Me: *looking even more surprised* Me too! I got married last year! Oh my God I totally thought you were in college.

Her: I thought the same about you!!

Me, not sure if I actually said this, but I thought it for sure: We should congratulate each other on looking so young!

After this little initial chat, we had gone on to chat about various things including my career transformation (which was and still is a topic of a lot of interest to working people, and me obviously, because I love talking about it :P), her dreams of starting her own fashion boutique (she wanted to be a journalist turned fashion designer, sweet readers, how talented is this lady!). Talking about hopes and dreams is something that I instantly connect with people over, though it seems like the last thing you’d want to talk to a practical stranger about. Well, I guess this is how you “make friends” as an adult!

Any way, the sad thing is that I stopped going to that class because it was seriously annoying having to Uber a cab in sweaty clothes outside the little alley in which the Gym was (thank you very much, Delhi).

Then, I actually did happen to make an adult friend (as I call her – which I’ve been told sounds super shady, but you know what I mean!! If it’s unclear, it means a new friend I made as an adult – there!) totally organically through one of my photography assignments. K and I just hit it off from our very first conversation, and we bonded over our deep seated, mutual love and respect for Anne of Green Gable and Lucy Maud Montgomery. I rarely ever meet people who are the kind of Anne fans that I am, and K and I bonded over how Gilbert spoilt boys for her, and Diana spoilt friends for me. Ever since our first chat, all our conversations have been stream of consciousness type of flows where the words simply tumble out without too much overthinking about what the other person might think of them.

We met a few times, and then did not for a year or two. sidenote: I guess when you get old (-er than teenage years), a year or two is not that long a time, you know?

Then we ended up meeting a lot in 2018 as we were both in a similar place of needing to make new adult friends (yes we talked about it – it’s normal!! If you don’t know what this feels like, you are quite blessed I must enviously admit), as she too worked from home and was an independent professional.

Then, she moved to Mumbai – I am so happy for this so many reasons. (a) I LOVE that K got a lovely new job that she wanted and moved to (b) The best city ever. She’s really cool, and into the arts but not in a pretentious or snobbish way, but in an intelligent, respectful and wise way – which makes it wonderful to bond with her about all things culture. So I’m happy she gets to express this side of hers in a city that is so accepting and loving.

BUT coming back to BO’s situation at hand – adult friends. One in proximity. Gone. To another city. Sure we text, but we all know it’s not the exact same thing. When you meet someone frequently you can tell them about silly and stupid things about your life like you ate a new kind of chips and you loved it (or hated it, or whatever) – which seems a bit too stupid and silly to say over text. Though I know there may be friends that you do share that kind of things with over text, but for me, it’s just not the same. At least Facetime.

Fast forward to 2019. BO has now felt the need to know her actual neighbours better. It felt rather absurd, in a belated shocked kind of way, that she did not really know any one her own age in this colony of over 500 inhabitants (rough estimate).

Enter the local Zumba class.

BO loves all things dance and fitness. So it really seemed like the perfect thing to do in the evenings. 6:30 – 7:30 pm? Why, that’s when I anyway do my workout! Perfect timing. Where is it you say? Hardly 100 metres from my place? Sign. me. up.

And sign up she did.

She has been going for about a week now and it has been refreshing to see new faces, and also to see the same new faces over and over. One lovely lady even distributed chocolates for her birthday! How sweet, and community minded is that? BO really felt like she was back in school – in the best possible way (don’t lie, free birthday chocolates were your favourite thing about school too :P)

On a slightly different topic, I am very excited about this book:

Nina Stibbe Despatches from Family Life
Nina Stibbe – Love, Nina Despatches from Family Life

I had to read her book once I read her “advice” from this remarkable little book called “Life Lessons From Remarkable Women” by Stylist Magazine. I actually first heard about this on Tea & Tattle – a delightful podcast by Miranda Mills which I listen to while painting. Highly recommended.

The title of Nina’s essay is “Why 99% of Advice Can Be Ignored“. It really spoke to me, and I am one of those people who will listen pliantly to every person’s sage advice, nodding right along, but will go on to do exactly what she wants. Every time I have done this, it has served me very well. So I take it Nina is a bit of a kindred spirit in doling out the same “advice” (the irony is not lost on me). I hope I love her book!

As you see this is a Wednesday morning, and instead of doing my regularly scheduled work programming for Wednesdays (social media, social media, social media), I have been blogging! Back to work for now! Hoping to keep up my blogging, but on weekends, or after hours!! Wish me luck!

Thoughts and Feelings

There is such a thing as the “need” to write. There is such a thing as “need to create” something.¬†Anything. Those who are subject to such needs know the feeling very well.

It’s when there is no trying. There is only being. Once the faucet is turned on, there is no stopping, the water simply flows and flows.

And it often reflects in the writing or whatever the person creates (art in the form of drawings, the written word, poetry, musical compositions, dance, and so on). It really does show. Sometimes I think if one is used to this process of compulsive creation, it’s much easier to see the why’s behind another being’s creations. You understand where they are coming from, what their thought process might have been like.

The creation of art itself is a process of expression. One piece of creation speaks to many because there exist only a certain range of emotions which are called over and over for processing infinite experiences. That really is the basis of all connection over pieces of art / creations.

This is really where subjectivity comes in.

Our experiences are not homogenous.

Our emotional responses to experiences are not homogenous.

Yes, we all do have the same few emotions that we feel, yet the question of when do we feel them are vastly different. The answer to the previous question is perhaps what makes up one’s “character”.

We don’t all feel the same way (we might think the same way, yes, we might say words which mean one thing, but we could still be feeling entirely something else which might even be a surprise to us when questioned about it) about the same situations. It’s not often that people talk honestly and openly about their feelings. Most of the time, they speak words that they think they should say.

I do think that you can tell when someone is lying through their words about what they truly feel, because their energy never lies. If you are someone who is prone to figuring out people’s energy easily, you know what I mean. And if you are someone who cannot, then lucky you (for the most part). Though I don’t sincerely mean that ūüėõ

It’s only rarely that a bottom of the heart kind of feeling which isn’t much validated through popular culture & norms surfaces through the medium of the spoken word (it happens much more often through actions – actually it happens all the time through actions, but we often don’t have full knowledge about a person’s actions as we do about the words spoken to us). When that happens, I say believe the person who said it or did it. It takes a lot of internal courage to speak your truth, no matter how unacceptable it might sound to others. Sure, it might have come out in a moment of external validation of some sort, but whenever it does, believe it. Like they say “when someone shows their true self, believe them“. If it turns out to be something that is not palatable to you, don’t try to justify their words or behaviour using your own paradigm of thinking.

That’s like having someone tell you they are a rose in a moment of clarity (when the faucet has been turned on), and your saying “Oh no, roses don’t exist where I come from. I have never seen a rose. You, my dear friend, are a leaf, because that’s what I would call myself if I behaved in the way I think I see you behave. There is no such thing as a rose. But you’re cute for thinking that you’re one.

Roses do exist. They just said they are a rose. BELIEVE them, and move on.

The difference between blogging and social media posts

I have been a blogger since 2005*. Social media “happened” majorly somewhat during 2007 and onwards. My own personal blog started showing signs of being unloved (by it’s own author) in about 2008 or so – which seemed to coincide with the rise of Facebook.

To put it in very briefly – I think my blogging capacity decreased as I spent more energy chronicling life on Facebook.

Blogging was and is a way of chronicling, finding the humour in every day situations, and ultimately an emotional & artistic release for me. I have so many, many, MANY thoughts at any given point of time, and I often struggle to put them across verbally (aside from the thought of “who would even listen to all of that“). But give me a laptop (I am a millennial after all – though I still write a lot using pen and paper #journalling #planneraddict) and some free time, and I find myself making sense of my own thoughts through my writing.

A little side effect of the rise of Facebook, and reduction in personal blogging (talking completely about my own self and life, but this is not untrue in a general sense either), was a reduced sense of expression.

The thing with social media posting is this:

The Newsfeed.

The Newsfeed is the bane of authentic, in the moment, completely genuine and undistressed expression.

The thing with the Newsfeed is this. Every time I want to say¬†something, I KNOW that it will be slapped across on several people’s newsfeeds against their will, really. It feels a little like taking a microphone and announcing something out to the world. Unsolicited. Which is why I find myself trying to filter my expression, thinking eleventy billion times about whether it will be “accepted”, whether it will make sense to anybody else.

It feels a little like walking across the road, shouting about my thoughts and feelings. Sure, some might find it amusing, many might throw some signs of approval/ relatability my way in the form of likes and comments, some may shut their windows (scroll past), but it does feel like its directed at people in general/specific.

Whereas, blogging is the opposite.

It is just a pure outpour of one’s own thoughts and feelings (or whatever else), without really any expectation or even knowledge of who is consuming it. If someone seeks¬†out my writing, they will find it (i.e. come specifically to read my blog or see my post on their feed reader – do those still exist by the way? I miss Google Reader….)

Blogging is not directed at any body. It is purely for my own sense of expression. Surprisingly though, over the years I have made new friends through my various blogs Рbut I have not made a single new friend through Facebook. This might not be true for many people who do in fact find friendships and meet like minded people through social networks.

May be because I deeply care about the inner workings of people, and not so much about their outward daily activities that blogging is a better channel for me (for expression and also to share space with minded souls). For example, I don’t care about what people do as their job. I don’t think doing the same job as me makes someone more of a kindred spirit. I do think that having similar views on relationships, life philosophies how to deal with situations, is far more of a connecting factor for me. Blogging gives a deeper opportunity to be more meaningful and to express oneself without word limits, or the fear of being judged by your peers #NewsfeedShame I get to see (and express) more of the inner side of things through blogging.

Social media is great for chronicling outer things (I like this little categorisation of “inner things vs. outer things”) like social gatherings, travel, work stuff, memes, brief views & opinions on culture, sports and politics (which, if my Newsfeed is to be representative of an average newsfeed, is about 95% of things).

Blogging is great for chronicling inner things like relationships with others and the self, extended views and thoughts which go into the “whys” and give more insight on the inner workings of a person, inspirations, aspirations, chronicles of the mundane and little moments which may not gather too many likes, but may comprise 95% of one’s life, worthy of being relived (reread) after years. Also, because there is no scope of #NewsfeedShame, words tend to tumble out effortlessly (wait, is this why it’s called Tumblr????) and authentically, feelings expressed more unabashedly and without fear of judgment.

I absolutely love going back and reading what my teenage self wrote more than a decade ago. I had been doing a lot of soul searching, identity searching kind of work last year (for example, that right there is a sentence that would never make it to any of my social media posts because it is way.too.bare.for.the.newsfeed.) and my old blog was an absolute goldmine. I even found myself being counselled by the wise words of my teenage and uncensored self.

That’s why I find personal blogging so very different in form and spirit. It is nothing more than a digital diary left open for anyone to come and read at their own free will.

*with a little break during my “lawyer years”, and resumed in 2015 with my photography website blog (granted, not the same as a personal blog, but not nothing either)