On Broken Souls and Olive Branches

On Broken Souls and Olive Branches

I’ve been told I don’t try hard enough

I’ve been told it’s my fault things go wrong

They said I was weird and unfixable, with a sad little laugh

They said I don’t know what it takes at all

I’ve been told the problem lies in me

I’ve been told I’m no good

And I whole heartedly agree, because honestly

A year went by and I achieved nothing

It’s hard to find someone who gets it

Someone who feels what you feel

They might try on your shoes but they won’t fit

As comfortably as they seem to fit you

No matter how many olive branches you extend

Someone needs to be receptive there too

Broken people and broken relationships don’t mend

Not one their own, they need a lot of help too

I’m an introvert when it comes to feelings

That won’t ever change

I wish I could stay in my bubble and find some meaning

Meanwhile I’d let my ramblings comfort me in my head

It’s a new year but nothing feels different to me

I feel detached like I’ve always been

Broken people don’t heal themselves, you see

What’s worse, I feel like I’d never find my clarity

The Color of Blood.

The Color of Blood.

It has to be, they say

It’s that time of the month,

Throwing harsh words and curse words

Her way, all day, everyday

She says nothing, just lets tears fall

And a storm rages on in her head

She thought he’d understand at least

He doesn’t, and she wishes she were dead

Unsolicited advice comes her way:

“Have children, before it’s too late.”

“Have children, doesn’t matter if you’re not into it.”

“If you don’t want them, God curse your fate.”

She feels like a package

That everyone’s dying to unwrap

She feels suffocated

Every harsh word is like a slap

They don’t let her bleed in peace

The color of blood it repels them, you see

She’s just a walking uterus

Meant to carry kids, isn’t that how it was supposed to be?

She’s not a woman if she doesn’t want kids

She’s not normal if she wants to be

She’s shallow if she wants to be happy

She sits in the corner, with the color of blood for company

And they shake their heads and click tongues

She’s failed the generation once more

He could have done better, they think

And for once, she couldn’t agree more.

An Essay on Mental Health.

An Essay on Mental Health.

Two celebrities took their own lives within one week of each other. One, a talented Bollywood actor. The other, his former manager.

Sushant Singh Rajput was only thirty-four when he committed suicide by hanging. There was no note. Indian media being the Indian media, the family was harassed and photos, circulated. Photos that showed the poor soul lying supine on the bed, ligature marks around his neck. And people kept forwarding those images on social media without showing any respect for the deceased or his grieving family. There were no trigger warnings, either. It shocked me to see how people here lack respect, empathy and common sense. As more details surfaced and as more people shared what they knew about the situation, a couple of major issues came to light. Depression, and the fact that since the Indian film industry only survives on the ‘product of nepotism’, Sushant had also been left feeling unacknowledged. He’d made it to Bollywood without a Godfather to push him, and he was finding it hard to stay afloat. In a conversation with a fan on social media, he confessed that he would be kicked out of the industry if his movie didn’t do well.

While the rest of B-town shared posts on social media talking about how they should’ve been there and been more accepting, keyboard warriors started sending hate to top-tier actors. Case in point: Alia Bhatt getting bullied for her post on Sushant. Kangana Ranaut, another self-made actor, getting way too much hate for speaking up about Sushant’s mysterious suicide. And this is exactly how the cycle never ends. Trolls find someone to bully and sometimes, even the strongest of minds breaks down. And goes places where it’s hard to recover from. And it’s not just celebrities or prominent people that face mental health issues, it’s shockingly sad to see that it’s a thing in every Indian home. A thing most families choose to ignore. A thing many believe – TO THIS DAY – that it’s not an issue at all and can be chased away with a proper beating. Not only is that child abuse, it also worsens the child’s state of mind.

As a Bengali Indian, and now a married woman, I’ve faced my share of bullying, I’ve been pressured into doing something I didn’t want to, made fun of for having clinical depression, been doused with buckets of unsolicited advice, been body-shamed and at the same time, never been taken seriously when I needed to talk to someone. And it pains me to say that many others I know go through some form of mental health problems and are dismissed for wanting to talk about it. In (Bengali) households, fifteen-year-olds are mocked at for being low on energy or having enough courage to say that they’ve been feeling depressed. Many are ridiculed for wanting to choose to study something they find interesting. God forbid should you want to become a photographer or a makeup artist. God forbid if you’re not doing well in med-school. While in others, children are made fun of for being “weepy and dead inside” all the time. They’re dismissed if they’re not interested in the same things their parents like. As they grow older and get married, they’re bombarded with questions about when they’d be gaining or losing some weight or when they’d be making babies, despite being fairly new to the whole “being married” scene. No one asks you what you want or if you’re doing okay. No one checks in on you when you’re struggling to reach out. Some people only want you to be happy while putting pressure on you that if you’re not happy, you’d be henpecked into doing what they want because that’s how the world works. People are in fact so quick to judge that all you’re going to end up getting is a bunch of ridiculous statements ranging from “Get over it” to “You’re just thinking you’re depressed. It doesn’t happen that way. No go do the done thing.”

And all of this is normal. That’s what we’ve all grown up facing and are still facing today.

People are so educated but there is serious lacunae in our understanding of mental health and how important it is for a healthy living. And it’s often the people that post about how they wish they’d been there for someone, are the people that spew the most hate. No one actually likes to listen. And that’s the major issue here. We don’t have good listeners around us. Everyone likes the sound of their own voices too much to ever give someone else a chance to speak. And that’s how we start feeling lonely despite being part of a proper unit. And that’s how we start breaking down. Despite all the “education”, we still consider things like pansexuality or depression as something that should be kept under wraps only.

What if the neighbors or the relatives find out? We’ll be so embarrassed!

Why’s any of this taboo when it’s actually out there affecting people badly enough to make them want to take their own lives? And we know that with the quarantine very much in place, it gets hard to keep a brave front all the time. And we need to learn that it’s okay to let do and to have a breakdown or two. But it’s not okay to not have anyone to reach out. Therapists are there for a reason and there is nothing to be ashamed of.

It’s time we learned to be more accepting, more vigilant and more aware. The time for passing crude judgment has now passed. If we want to live healthy, we’ve got to focus on our mental health first and quit treating it as something that can be shoved under the rug and forgotten. And just saying that we need to do something isn’t enough. It’s time all of us actually DID something about it. It’s June 2020 – so if not now, then when?

Twitch.

Twitch.

I wake up with the worst headache.

And my right brow has been twitching too. I’m either super dehydrated, or I’m in need of new glasses. The latter seems to be a very impossible mission right now, what with the pandemic and all, so I’ve to make do with some water.

I gulp down a huge glass of water and wait for the headache to pass. It doesn’t. An hour goes by. Nothing happens.

I’ve to deal with this twitching eye. It’s driving me mad at this point. I go to the mirror to have a closer look. It’s twitching harder than ever and I can see something poke through.

I clamp my hand to my head. Another hand pushes it away. Bloodied. And it has claws. I scream in agony as my inner devil rips out through the twitch and starts to consume me.

Why Is Keeping Your Own House Clean a Big Deal?

Why Is Keeping Your Own House Clean a Big Deal?

As Indians, we grow up with a certain set of fixed ideologies that become so deep-rooted into our brains that it becomes hard to think outside that box. Our country has been under lockdown for three weeks now, meaning we’ve all had to do our own mopping, dusting, cleaning, organizing, and even doing the dishes. The concept of having people to do it for you – by people I mean the house help or the maid, to put it simply – has been prevalent in the country for years. And only with the imposition of a total lockdown, did people realize how important the house help was.

Did that bring a change in the average Indian mentality? No. We’re the generation that takes photos of ourselves in visibly blah clothes, clutching at a broom in one hand, phone in the other, in front of the full-length mirror and posting pictures on our Instagram stories, and captioning it – “My jhaadoo pocha outfit.” That’s the word for dusting and mopping. Collective. You miss Mira Didi, not because she gave you company, but because she’d come do the cooking. You miss Jyoti Ben because she’d come and do the mopping. And the sweeping. And the dusting. And the bathrooms and even the toilet bowl. And you still negotiated with them over their paltry salaries. And never said thank you, but blamed them for messing up your fancy fruit bowl or sometimes, breaking your favorite wine glass. You conveniently overlooked the fact that Jyoti might have cut her finger picking up the broken pieces. And you made her work with a cut finger which you only put a Band-Aid on. You overlooked the fact that the help came to your house to keep it clean despite being on her period, or even despite running a fever. You refused to give her a day off because you couldn’t manage the house – the big sprawling house when compared to her tiny shack – by yourself.

And I’ve got a problem with that.

Do you need someone else’s help cleaning up after you’ve taken a massive doody? No, right? Then why would you make it a big deal, and go posting about it as well, after you’ve cleaned your house by yourself? My, my. What a major achievement. What an accomplishment that you’ve managed to wipe the kitchen counter clean after burning the lentil soup you were attempting to cook. What a good thing to have finally learned how to boil an egg or make whipped coffee all by yourself. Like, seriously? Everyone in the rest of the world does their own chores. Only in this country do we lack the understanding and acceptance needed to grasp the importance of dignity of labor.

I just wish that it wasn’t such a big deal, you know? Cleaning and organizing. Things like that? All of this? All of this doesn’t need validation from the Internet if you think it’s such a pain being a “maidfor a while. Also, doing daily household chores actually helps to burn calories. You won’t realize how fit you’re going to be if you’re the one that’s cleaning on a daily basis. Imagine how much active movement you’re getting. Also, cooking is very therapeutic. And baking. NOT being dependent on someone else to do YOUR chores lets you plan your day around your routine and not on when Jyoti comes to clean.

Plus, with the center probably extending the lockdown by two more weeks, it’s about time you forget Mira and Jyoti and get comfortable with staying indoors. It’s hardly a big deal, honestly. Although many influencers will tell you that it is, consider how lucky we all are to have a roof over our heads and a few meals a day. It doesn’t matter if other people don’t understand dignity of labor. It starts with you, and one small change makes a big difference. On that note, I’m going to wipe the kitchen down while I listen to some Doja Cat. Good day, y’all.

Humbled.

Humbled.

Took the time out today

To look back on my life

To reach out to people and say

I’ve missed them all this time

Been a while

Since we ventured out

Since we exchanged smiles

With the people next door

Is this how I’m meant to go

And if yes,

Why wasn’t I told before?

I’d have made changes then

But I guess it’s now too late

To fix someone’s mistake-on-purpose

That messed up our fate

We can only debate

We can only watch, and wait

With sanitizers and bated breath

As the numbers elevate

With no hope on the horizon yet

On the upside though

You can see the earth heal herself

Despite having a long way to go

Some things are falling into place

The skies are bluer, yes

The grass, legitimately revived

The wind feels like a caress

All of this has got me thinking

What if we’re the parasite

The human race, as a whole?

And this virus, Earth’s antibody armed to fight

This extortion we’ve imposed on her?

It’s all about perspective, really

So maybe if we go, we go for good

There’s more to life than likes, silly

So live the lockdown like you should

Social distancing has humbled me

Made me so grateful for all I’ve got

Love, light and happiness is all I need

So I’m going to live life with gratitude.

Fitness In The Time Of Corona

Fitness In The Time Of Corona

Admit it: there have been a million times when you’ve complained that the gym was too crowded. Or that people had zero hygiene in there. And that you felt weird working out in front of other people. And you ended up not going in for your fitness sessions while that membership you bought died a slow, unmemorable death. Admit it.

And then the Corona Pandemic struck and you told your friends: I was supposed to start working out tomorrow, duuuuuuuude, but the stupid gym’s closed! And you went ahead, plonked your laptop on to your lap, put on your earphones and started binge watching FRIENDS all over again, while the bags of chips and soda bottles accumulated rather nastily on the floor. Admit it.

The thing is, you can’t blame a pesky virus for neglecting your fitness goals. Remember the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? I’ll go to the gym five days a week. I’ll eat quinoa and kale and snack on berries when I’m hungry. I’ll give up on alcohol and sugar and trans fat. Remember that? No, right? Everything has flown out of the window, and it didn’t even take a day of Coronavirus situation.

In order to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, we’re all staying indoors. Some of us are panic-buying provisions. Some of us are eating too much at a go. Many people are drinking WAY too much and smoking joints and they seem to have forgotten that it’s just as bad to have lung cancer. I mean, YOLO, right? Wrong. Our lifestyle has gone from varying forms of active to one hundred percent sedentary. Which means that if you’re someone who, let’s say, is on a fifteen hundred calorie per day allowance with a three hundred calorie burn allowance, you’re actually just adding the whole calorie budget, AND THEN SOME, into your body since you’re not getting any exercise. That sentence was a mouthful but you need to know that I feel very strongly about this.

I know it’s hard to resist food during times like this. Specially when you’ve gone out of your way and hoarded everything, including other people’s share. You eventually end up stress-eating because WFH feels more like WTF and you legit. Cannot. Stop. Eating. And despite all my preaching *heh heh* I’m honestly no saint, either. At the same time, I don’t want to emerge from the quarantine looking like this:

NOT that it’s bad or gross to look like that, but I don’t want central obesity, heart attack and I know how terrible the hospital situation is, globally. So, issa no. I’m trying my best to stay fit without feeling the need to depend on outdoor or gym activities, and I’m not doing much, not really, but I feel like it’s the little things:

• Limiting calorie intake: It’s been a week since I’ve gone into complete self-isolation with the husband, and I’ve reduced my calorie intake by about one-third of my everyday calorie allowance. Do I feel good about myself? No, not really. But is my body working fine? Yes. No paunches reported.

• Home workouts: That yoga mat and Chloe Ting and lightweight dumbbells are coming in handy. Chloe posts a bunch of workout videos that are super easy to follow, while being super effective at the same time. Here’s the link to her two-week shredding programs – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAFs3kxY4h18ubPUONHriXCgo0YD4rmSW. She also posts meal plans that are super filling – I’ve tried a few of them, and they work.

When NOTHING works, you can actually walk around in your living room. It’s the little things, it’s always the little things.

• Doing my chores – This brings me to my last point. Mopping the floors and doing the dishes, doing the laundry and climbing up a bunch of stairs, actually sweeping the floor instead of asking your cleaning lady to do it, burns a crap ton of calories. Belly today, washboard tomorrow. Thanks to the pocha. Thanks to the Corona Pandemic, I’ve also been hydrating like a fish. Just water, I promise you, works wonders.

At this point I can’t even laugh at my own jokes anymore. I’m petrified of what’s happening. Staying in and doing chores and making sure I am not a reason for the spread has put a lot of thought into perspective. Human life is so fragile and the worst part is we ruin things by not following protocol. Or caring about things. It’s a pandemic of epic proportions and each one of us needs to be responsible. And you don’t need me to tell you this, but for YOUR sake, stay home and stay safe. On that note…

How are you staying fit during these dark times?

Unchained Emotions

Unchained Emotions

Don’t post this, don’t say that

Pretend you’re something you’re not

Act cold, act happy when you’re sad

Act excited even when you rot

Don’t be yourself, they said

Be someone else completely

Someone not so messed in the head

I say ok, and I nod my head weakly

Haven’t been happy in months now

But I can’t talk about it

It has to be hidden away somehow

So no one knows about it

Made to feel like a dirty secret

Almost like it were wrong to be me

Like I’m supposed to have no identity

And I’m supposed to be unseen

Alone and secluded for weeks

Abandoned, and forgotten almost

No one asks if you ate or if you’ve healed

I’m struggling to barely stay afloat

This isn’t a cakewalk

Not like I thought it would be

There’s no champion, and no rock

No one seems to let my headspace be

Either you’ve to post grad

Or make progeny

There’s just this or that, really

With no options in between

Sometimes I wonder would things

Have been different if I’d switched rooms

I lie awake and the doorbell rings

Bringing in yet another day of doom.

A Month Gone By.

A Month Gone By.

It’s been a month and a couple days since I got married. For starters, I didn’t even imagine that someday I would be able to picture myself as a wife, to be honest. Coupled with a super low self-esteem and a total lack of reality check, never in a million years did I think I would be settling so perfectly into the role of a wife and a new daughter.

A wife. And a new daughter.

Just how crazy does that seem? Also: notice that I didn’t say “daughter-in-law”? That’s how nice my new family is. Just the other day my new pop made me upma – my favorite – he needn’t have, but he did and it was the cutest thing ever. They’ve also graciously let us stay till our house is done completely. My oh my. Let me go knock on wood a few times before I can actually go ahead and make my point.

My point being, marriage is comfortable. I’d heard a million horror stories, and I’d formed this image in my head that I would make a terrible new addition to my husband’s family too. That I would be a burden and a pain and all sorts of hell. But boy, I was wrong. Before I got married, I struggled with a lot of stuff. I struggled with the concept of acceptance and love and what both of these things really mean. But now, a month later, I can honestly tell you that it’s blissful. You’re not just sharing a home with someone, you’re also sharing headspace.

Sure, you have differences of opinions. You have tiffs. You don’t always get along, but then you don’t have to. Marriage means so much more than just photoshoots or Instagram likes or Sabyasachi lehengas or beach-facing mandaps or Pat McGrath eyeshadow – and you don’t need me to tell you this – but it’s much, much more. It’s about growth. About uplifting your spouse. About always remembering that their image is your image and vice versa. About working together to make the marriage work and at the same time, keeping it effortlessly easy.

And you thought Bengali brides look too loud. I personally think I would have easily passed as someone who were doing a gold jewelry store commercial.

This past couple of weeks have shocked me too. I had no idea my husband and I were twin souls to this extent. And that is the most amazing thing, ever. I’ve been given a whole new set of best friends – my new parents and my new brother – and I couldn’t be happier. The transition from being boyfriend and girlfriend to being husband and wife is beautiful and both my new ma and I have managed to cry our eyes out every time we’ve played the wedding and reception videos. Sigh.

So far, so good. There were very cute surprises along the way – a dreamy Gangtok trip, a Goa trip to attend a wedding, and Valentine’s Day felt super special because we both wore kurtas and went to eat at a random place and looked super boho. FUN.

Hello from my lovely mocktail.

It’s been dreamy and I just wanted to come on here and share things, while I get back to my regular blogging schedule. Hope life’s been treating you as good as it’s been treating me.

Things Your Nail Technician Doesn’t Tell You

Things Your Nail Technician Doesn’t Tell You

Before we get to the post, I’d quickly like to say that marital bliss is beautiful. And oh, the location of your new house is super important. Which is also one of the reasons why I’m currently sporting two-inch-long talons and using said talons as tools: for self-defense, as can-openers, you name it. Okay, before you get horrified – I’m actually obviously kidding.

I got my nails done for the first time on January 22nd, 2020.

• Before I went in, I was under the impression that the extensions last for at least three weeks before they start to look bad. Mine started to look bad right from day eight. Why? My nails grow crazy fast. And I didn’t know I would need a refill almost immediately after getting my first set done. So ten days went by, and my nails grew and they looked super tacky and I had to run back to my trusty nail bar to get them redone.

Second mani of my life.

• Okay, let’s not beat about the bush – BUT nails are kinda pricey. In Indian currency, you’re going to be paying about INR 2400-3000 the first time and refills with color cost around INR 2200 where I get mine done. And like I said, my nails grow fast – and this means I end up paying around six grand per month on nails alone. Not a very smart move when you’re a new wife who’s settling into a brand new role as a multitasker too.

• Nails are addictive. No one tells you this, but I wish they would. It’s almost like getting a tattoo or eating a bag of Lay’s – once you’ve got a taste for it, you’re going to want to go back over and over again. I was never a nail person and here I am, typing furiously away on my laptop while obsessing over my next mani on Pinterest.

Really digging this.

• You’ll get sucked in and get super confused about your options. Pretty much what Swiggy does to your belly and your wallet. Too much to pick from, too tight of a budget. Like, aaaaarrrrrggggghhh. So pick the one shape and design that’s the cutest – for me it would have to be the coffin shaped ones and a French base – and roll with it.

• Nails need a lot of TLC. You can’t be doing kitchen stuff all the time. You can’t be putting too much pressure on your nails or use them as tools. That’s a HUGE no-no. You have to get a dishwasher and multiple bits of cutlery. Acrylics also lift sometimes if not adhered well, and you have to get it redone. Nail glue doesn’t cut it. Speaking from experience.

• The last point I have to mention would be the fact that you have to keep your nails at a comfortable length. Don’t go “Billie Eilish at the Oscars” length because grabbing things becomes difficult, and so does cleaning your bum. And I’m sure you don’t want that.

And now with all that being said, I can’t wait for Friday afternoon to come around so I can go get my nails done. Again. Yay.