Will the real voice inside you please stand up?

Scenario 1:

We live in interesting times. Social media, politics, democracy (or the lack of), self worth, the cloud, stress, independence and revolution seem to be the buzz words of the day, down to the minute. As an alien in a foreign country, with family and friends in different parts of the world, the time of the day literally drives my general and world news knowledge. From 20 people going “live” at the #savejallikattu protests to Bahrain’s music concerts to trumping Trump’s statements, my Facebook hasn’t been more alive than it has been now, irrespective of when I open it up. Every time I read an article or someone’s status, I feel like I have a million things to say against or for the thought. But then my inner voice, silently yet strongly, tells me to just leave it because “I don’t know enough” or “why say anything on someone’s opinion” or “who am I to change his/her thought, and why should I?”. I dislike controversy and confrontation. I wage wars within me all the time, pitting me vs. me, with no one to really win or lose except, well, me. Given that, why would I want to get into a potential discussion with someone just because I have a contrary view? So I shut up, take a deep breath and scroll over to the next post.

Scenario 2:

I’m out for dinner. Company is either a group of close friends, the man or rarely, acquaintances (the older I get, the lesser random dinners with random people I want to do). Food is being eaten, instagram and Facebook pages are being scrolled through, dessert decisions are being made while everyone small talks through different topics. Some one brings up something techie or intellectual and discussions continue into career options etc. All along while lip syncing to the voice that’s coming out of my mouth, the thoughts inside my head are truly just one – I want to do nothing. I want no job, no deadline, no manager, no team. I want to sleep in with my dogs, work out, read books, write and do nothing. I swear, that’s my life’s goal. To be responsible and accountable for nothing. But do I say that aloud? Do I let people know I’m just a wayward soul with no aim in life? Or should I fake a conversation so intellectual even my closest peeps believe me? The struggle is honestly real because I’ve tried to bare my soul before but, while they all tend to unanimously empathize, there’d always be undertones of chastised advice on how to focus on what I really want to do and getting there. Which in my case is, nothing. So I shut up, take a deep breath and move on to my low-carb, high-fat steak cheese dip with guacamole, minced meat, pico de gallo with a side of house salad. With ranch. Yes, really.

Scenario 3:

As I started off, these definitely are interesting times we live in. The shape and nature of a simple domestic family unit has changed drastically over the years. Divorce rates are higher in India because women no longer tolerate any form of mental, physical or verbal abuse. Men do not want to be sole bread-winner of the family and demand a woman with ideals and a vision. More and more people are standing up for themselves at work places – demanding higher wages, equality and respect for their education and personality. A sense of entitlement, confidence and acknowledgment for being themselves, an individual with a unique identity. But despite all of this forward looking movement, can I really say what I want to? I mean, what if CBP or DHS stops me at the border while I unseemingly (and stupidly, in these times) return to the US back from a vacation and ask for my Facebook credentials to “take a peak at what I share and post”? Is it ok to share John Oliver’s relevant and funny take on Trump? Is it ok to call him Trump without the “President” title? Can I disagree with the #immigrationban and say that I think it absolutely sucks and is a waste of time and my taxes? Considering that I have a family and a livelihood here in the US, do I risk it all just because I have an opinion to share that could get my visa revoked and me kicked out for no reason (in my mind) at all? So I shut up, take a deep breath and move on by writing a small scenario in my blog, quelling my “true” thoughts and curbing my urge to rampant verbal outrage.

Scenario 4:

I’m a woman in my thirties, independent in my thought and action. I analyze data to make business decisions for a living, whether I like it (or am good at it) or not. But apparently I’m not ready to make my own life decisions yet. Or so sometimes my parents, and those of the significant other, think. We live an elaborately discrete life where we share every minute details about meal plans, peak hour drive times to and from work and ofcourse, ofcourse the erstwhile weather. But no, we wouldn’t talk about how we cooked those meals together, how we sometimes use car pool to beat that tiring drive or how we take the dogs out to the park when the sky gives us a sunny break. We do this not because we like to be deceptive but because we want them to be in their happy oblivious bubble, because the truth maybe a little tmi and hard for them to take. So we shut up, take deep breaths and convincingly talk our way through the loud background noise being just one dog, nope, not 2. Never 2.

From all of the above, it is safe to say that it has never been harder to speak your mind now than it has been in the past. Because while a more conservative era brought fear of blasphemy if you dare to even think the contrary, now there is a fear of ridicule or being targeted at. Personally speaking, I wonder if the true voice inside me will and can ever stand up. And while standing up, be accepted with no repercussions. In a world that revolves so heavily on the existence of a harmonious “society” and every issue bordering dangerously close to being wrong or right, I wonder if it will ever be possible to be entirely truthful, every second of the day with every single person. Again, with no consequence. I don’t know, I honestly don’t know.

Life is all about the details..

..or is it?  I write this as I’m sitting in my car, at a Chick-fil-A drive thru, sunglasses on my head, wearing my snowman pajamas and pink and white striped tee. I’m waiting in line to pick up food for a friend, not myself, because I’m in the keto phase of my diet life. I’m staring down into my phone as I type this, but I’m really just watching the bulge in my midriff go in and out with every breath. It isn’t just regular steady breathing but big long sighs bemoaning my fate for the necessity to be keto in the midst of delicious smelling fried chicken and fries with creamy delicious thoughts of their Oreo cookie shake (a regular in my near past). This is probably a page from the book of every dieter out there but in my mind I am special. I would like to call myself Jack of all Diets, Master of None. I’m spoilt by previous weight loss successes that basically hardened me to the reality that no matter how many times you’ve done it before, there will be the one time nothing will work. Because face it, the second the clock hits 12 on the fateful day that would be your 30th birthday, your body clock annoyingly decides to protest and stop moving forward. Your metabolism decides to stop racing and just hangs in there till it’s time to retire, however long that takes. Fat decides to be your sensuous lover and clings lovingly to each curve of your body and embed itself into every nook, that it becomes your #relationshipgoal to emulate in real life. And will power? Oh that thing cleverly agrees to side with the Fairy God Mother and go poof! at the stroke of midnight. At the end of this 30 year journey, you and your body are left with things you don’t want but have and things you want but will never have without a fight! And so, I am keto, which basically is a high fat, low carb diet with a little bit of protein thrown in, thank GOD. It’s restrictive (and underlying dangerous)  nature keeps me in check and seems to be what I need since self control and will power ditched me when I needed them the most. It’s probably the most successful diet that I’ve been in terms of being committed but I really haven’t lost much weight, just a couple pounds here and there, depending on the time of the day. 

Yes, I’m bummed. I’m questioning every tbsp of butter I’m eating because the diet can actually get highly mathematical and technical with percentages, macros, calories, calculators and what not. I’ve lost inches for sure but my weight is exactly on point, to the hundreths. Online research says there’s multiple reasons for a plateau (is it really still a plateau if you never really got off?) – silent carb creep, too little fats, too much exercise etc. The solution is to try and be more controlling and watchful; tracking through a tool like MyFitnessPal for success. But you see, the problem with me is I’m superficial. The details are hard for me to grasp and I tend to get lost in them. Details are scary, they represent too much time and energy that I feel I don’t have. When I understand something, I get the gist and move on with it. I’m like that with everything, good or bad I don’t know, but that’s me. It’s my personality. If I am forced to get into the details, I get lost and suffocated. Which is why I’m certain my next career move, or ultimate career move, will and should be towards something that I am passionate enough about to get into the details for or can be done successfully by being high level. I know a lot of people would tell me I have to build an eye for the detail for any job, for any task I do in life and especially for a diet or weight loss regime. But what do I do if introspection of so many years has revealed to me just this? That I am superficial and I am not afraid to say it anymore. But is that ok? 

I don’t know. I truly, honestly, sincerely don’t know. Perhaps it’s just a matter of time before I realize my true calling, something that I’d actually want to get down into the weeds to do. Because I guess when I analyze and introspect my life, I’m always wallowing in second by second detail of events good and bad. And as a person who loves writing, minute facts are important, aren’t they? With each post of mine, I’m revealing little nuggets that probably will eventually make up and define my personality; a surprise to myself even. I’m a superficial nihilist struggling to lose weight, confused yet clear, meticulous in certain things not in others. That’s where I’ve gotten till now.

But hey, wait a minute, are those details or is that just the summary? I guess it’s just a thin line after all.

When you’re 30 and you know it, clap your hands

And when you’re 32, clap your feet too. Doesn’t make sense? Well, that’s life, sorry to disappoint you. I’ve truly started believing there’s no meaning to this one life we lead. Ok sorry for generalizing, this one life I live. Isn’t that what nihilism is? I came across the word in a book I was reading a while ago and I  looked it up online. Google defined it as “the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless”. It was an earth-shattering moment, kinda like God him/herself coming down and going “gotcha, suckers”. Basically, Google was my God delivering divine intervention through the written word. I didn’t even need to research anymore (I think I should) -that one line just meant everything to me. I don’t know about you but it helped me a great deal. It changed the way I looked at everything – from waking up in the morning to exercising to letting the pedestrian cross the road (so he can get to the other side, haha). As contradictory as it may seem, it gave me a weird me a sense of purpose. To just see this fuckin’ life through. There’s an end date to all this which basically means it’s temporary. So instead of thinking “Damm, I hate waking up at 7 am”, I now think “Great, just 13,870 days to do this and then I am done with this!” You can do the math to figure out what my intended life expectancy is. I think that’s pretty cool, isn’t it? I have to clarify, though, I’m not a cynic or a depressed maniac because of this. I truly, truly am happy living life this way – one day at a time, knowing that a fancy UFO is coming soon to teleport me out of this world and poof I’d go as I vanish into thin air. I just hope I have an audience to watch me go. Or even better, they can join me! Oooh, this is getting exciting! (Write to me if you would like me to put in a recommendation to the outer space dudes to get you in on my leave-the-world-forever tour. Half price tickets, guys. No? Ok fine, it’s free. Just for you. You can thank me later.)

When you put a countdown to it, though, it makes things exciting and at the same time super intense because there’s only so much time left! I have to start planning every single of my 13,970 days (+-10 days, room for error and all). That many people to meet, those many jokes to be laughed at, that much food to be eaten and well, those many pounds to lose, ahem. There’s a lot of people to say good bye to but that just means there’s a lot more happy memories to be collected and pictures to be instagrammed. Yes, I still am an active-as-hell instagrammer, if anything more so now.  Bottom line, I think I need to get a bucket list going and one that’s pretty realistic, no? No lofty goals like I need to visit every single country in the world. Just believable, achievable things like I want to kiss my dogs goodnight every single day for the next 40 years or lose 40 lbs in 40 days. I think I can do that. Totally achievable, absolutely 200% right up my alley. Perfect, that’s a start.

While I go and continue to populate my list, I leave you all with today’s nomination for the World’s greatest invention – the infamous autocorrect. This post would not have been possible without the continuous, every-word spell check support that helped convert many inappropriate words into more elegant language. 

Until next gime… sorry, lime. Dammit, I mean time. Oh well, I spoke too soon🙊

How social(media) are you?

I’m on Facebook, Instagram, whatsapp and telegram. Pinterest, yes. Twitter, no. Snapchat – kinda, too dumb to figure it out and way too less patience for it. But I’m active on Instagram and I post pictures and videos of myself and my little puppy (who’s one but I will never, EVER accept he’s an adult now) pretty much everyday. I click, filter, post and refresh and re-refresh the page to put my math skills to use by counting “hearts” aka likes (or is loves?). I’m not a bigwig and so I don’t get 40,000 likes, not even 4,000 or well, 400 but I get 40 and I’m elated! I feel like an icon, like a celebrity. I walk out of home wondering if someone is going to recognize the mom-puppy duo that is Bam Bam and I. Until, ofcourse, realization hits that out of the 40 likes, 39 are sister, besties, boyfriend, cousins, colleagues and then finally 2 likes from freeee_followers_likesssss and want_sex_me. So,well, no, unless all of those people are around me no one is going to recognize me. But I like to believe that may happen and it keeps my confidence up and I dress up and leave home with my chin up. That’s a good thing isn’t it? 

I bought a book shelf, filled it with books but don’t necessarily read often enough as I would like. I learnt to bike, and was gifted a bike but don’t necessarily ride often enough as I would like. I bought a 55″ 4K tv earlier this year but don’t watch it as much as I would like. I have paints – I love to paint! But I don’t do it as much as I would like. My bed’s unmade, sheets unchanged, clothes unfolded for over a month now – as much as I would love to be a neatness freak and have an image of a clean bed (like on Pinterest) in my head. But I know what new hoodie Evy’s tree is releasing this fall, how Chloe the dog jumped over a hoop this morning and how much each of the new organic, all- natural soap in that new ethical, fair-trade shop costs. All of this – isn’t so much a good thing, is it?

I’m social, alright. I love people, love dogs, animals and kids. Insects, not so much, but that’s a different thing. But do I talk enough? I text a LOT – is that talking? In my mind, each of my text “conversations” are important and I put all my energy into typing it out. But if someone calls me, I shut down. I put the call on speaker and text others (confession alert). I have stats of how many likes, chats and/or shipping alert emails I may have gotten in 0.15 seconds running through the back of my head like a stock market ticker. Sad? I agree. Isn’t this not not a good thing?

Honestly? I don’t know. This is the new digital era and all that cliched crap. And somewhere I feel, this is it. This is the new social. This is how people do it. We party not to have fun, but to dress up and post pictures. You have a dog, babies etc to tell the world how wonderful the experience is. We watch movies with a critical eye so we can announce or denounce the screenplay, editing and background music(?). We confess, gloat and grow with our online support groups, hoping and wishing that there are atleast 5 unknown people out there who wish the best for you and their prayers for you would count. It’s such a mess but it’s such a big part of our lives these days that is hard to dissociate without coming across as being anti-social(media). We do it to fit in yet to try and be innovative lu unique through it.

Now excuse me while I go look at what dog_lover_221 has to say about my recent post. I’ve been blogging on my phone long enough to miss 22 notifications (yes, that’s an exaggeration).

End of part-1. Don’t go looking for a part-2 because it may never happen. But yes, please follow me on Instagram – preetiramachandran🙊🙈🙉🤐

Change

If you think I’m going to write about something as cliche as “change is the only thing constant in this world”, well, you’re right. Because it is. It defines everything around me, maybe you too, but especially me. I’m constantly changing, my thoughts, my mind. Maybe I’m fickle. Or maybe I’m normal. Normal, what does it even mean anyway? A word that defines and destroys everything that one knows. But I’ll get into that later. I have but obviously changed since the last time I presented myself to the outside world. Physically went through multiple transformations of fat to thin and fat again. Mentally, is another different story in my case. Sometimes I feel I’m the embodiment of strength. Tough times make people stronger and all that jazz. Other times I accept my vulnerabilities, bordering on self-pity and drowning in why-mes. Only to regain composure through knowledge that this, too, is another phase – a tough one that shall pass and make me tougher. All that toughening should’ve transformed me into a lady in shining armor but nope, I changed again. And no one, not even me, saw it coming.

There have been definitive phases and phrases in the last few years that I want to talk about because I do not want them to be mere conversations in my mind. I actually want to see them written out, listened to or read by, so I can rationalize if I am right or wrong, insipid or super smart. Or is it merely just perspective, because in this day and age everything is relegated as individual choice or freedom of expression without the confinements of being right or wrong, morally or otherwise. 

Here I am. Back again.

My Four Letter Word of the Season

Profanities aside, it’s time for profundities. The past couple months have been some of the worst times I’ve ever had. The unexpected events that happened pushed me out of my zone and into a realm of disappointment and pain that I never knew existed. I wish I could go into details but the lack of anonymity on this blog forces me to refrain. Besides, it is just too hurtful to express the anguish I have gone through. Yea, it really  was that bad. And no, I’m not talking about a broken nail or the avalanche of white hair that’s sprouted up on my hair (it’s no surprise with stress being the best fodder there is). Well, maybe someday I will be able to talk about it a lot better, not just anonymously but right on this very blog. It is pretty sensational stuff, it is. Or atleast that is what my friends tell me – that I have to share my experiences because they are eye-openers. I don’t know about that because thinking of it just makes my eyes close. And wince.

That said, I’ve rediscovered the silver lining on the clouds – my friends & family and ice cream, in that order. People who’ve stuck by me no matter what. No matter if I call them at 3 am and bawl my heart out. No matter if I scare them by begging them to come get me and take me away. No.Matter.What. I thank my stars every, single day for giving them to me. Good people do exist after all. Oh and ice cream? Well, I thank it simply for being the delicious goodness that it is.

I’m pretty proud of how I’ve handled things. Ofcourse, I’ve let go of myself many a times but I’ve still held together pretty good.  Unity in adversity, you can say. With every fall, I’ve picked myself up. Sound familiar? Apart from it being used to no end for a long while now it’s no wonder then that when the line “Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up” came up in the movie, I sat clutching my heart, tears rolling down, shaking my head so vigorously I almost went dizzy. And it’s been my motto ever since.

I may have not moved on but I definitely moved forward, looking out for the next thing to do. “Ok, so this failed, now what?” And that’s when I realized that the one thing that always, always has remained (since time immemorial and all that) and will continue to remain is Hope. It’s what made Japan get up after Hiroshima-Nagasaki, keeps resilient stock brokers going, makes us still vote for the Congress and DMK /AIADMK despite their repertoire for bankrupting, made my Chintu look up expectantly for crumbs that would fall when we were eating biscuits…….you get the drift.  I didn’t really think it was so earlier. When Dolly got the word tattooed, I wasn’t all too impressed. I felt she could’ve gotten something more….I don’t know, something with a lot more depth. To me, strength meant more than hope because I believed that it’s what keeps me going. I reveled in my strength. But you know what? I’m tired of being strong. It’s almost like the stronger you are, the more the world is out to test you. And through all that, the only beacon of light was hope. The hope that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel and that even if right now is messed up, it’s all going to be A-ok.

And that, folks, is my four letter word of the season. In fact, it’s why I’m digging into this tub of peanut butter ice cream with the hope that the pounds aren’t going to pile on.

Global Warming or Climate Change?

So, 2011 went by pretty much in the blink of an eye. It’s funny how life seems to just pass by, don’t you think? Especially when you take everyday as it comes. Which is what I did the entire last year. Coming to the US away from family was a decision I took for a multitude of reasons that I don’t want to discuss again. I never realized what I missed till I went back for the ‘annual vacation’. For those of you who I’m friends with on facebook, my dramatic exclamations of vacation hangover is but obvious. Well, it’s all over my profile! Ever since I’ve gotten back though, things with me have been different. I guess maybe everyone goes through it? That home sickness hitting you all over again, the moping, the crying etc etc. But for me somehow it’s been more. It’s almost as if my eyes have been opened up.

Though I did not come to the US craving for the ‘luxuries’ it has to offer (trust me, being a student here doesn’t even warrant using the word luxury in the same sentence – not even by a trillion miles), I did come here craving for something else – freedom. Or rather, just to be away from a lot of things like, say, society snacking on my brains with the whole marriage talk. I got here, got a bit of that ‘ah-it-feels-so-good’ thing for exactly 22 milliseconds. And then it hit me – this country is way over rated. But I managed to get through the year cribbing about its idiosyncrasies and keeping myself super busy with monitoring the price of tomatoes at Kroger. Apparently I’ve changed – that’s what my parents felt when I went back. And thankfully they meant it in the positive way. For example, they were shocked /elated/disapprovingly approving of the fact that a) I lost quite a bit of weight (imagine someone actually said,”Ava US poitu elaipa nu terinjirnda minadiye anupirkalame” which basically means if they knew I would lose weight on coming to the US then my parents should’ve sent me earlier! I mean seriously, ok? What gives!) b) I’m, by quite a significant degree, more responsible, aka less of a spendthrift. I actually managed to save a decent amount of money being a student and my Dad was super impressed while Mom kept flaunting it around.

I was equally, if not more, shocked to realize that I have changed. Double-taking became my only reaction to everything around me. No, no – not the usual US-return reaction of ohmygodIndiaissooodirty but at the bloody inflation rate! So, this amazingly yum milkshake that I used to drink in that juice shop in Citi Centre for Rs. 45 EXACTLY a year ago was now Rs. 106! Can you believe that?!  Palmolive Mineral etcetc body wash went from Rs. 90 to Rs. 125. Even the Besant Nagar korathis know about recession and inflation albeit in their ‘velai vaasi yeri pochu ma‘ (I think that means prices have gone up) way. And I found it even harder to accept that people have just accepted it. My sister has credit card bills in the 40-50k range every month. My parents don’t even flinch when they see grocery bills of 7-8k per month. And well, don’t even get my started on petrol! Rs. 73!  And when I’d complain, people would just look at me amused and say, but yet not say, shutup and get over it!

That is when I realized that maybe I should just move back to India. I’m 92.835% there already. The remaining, uhm, do-the-math% is only considering the money power I have here which is, if anything, only attributed to the damned currency conversions. I know I can save more being here – by ofcourse living like a mini- pichaikari in the process. But yet, it is a pretty fulfilling thing to know that you have saved and given back. It feels really, really, really good. But then again, I don’t wanna be one of those kids who merely send xxx$ to parents per month, do one visit per year and then say amma I love you. While I’m not saying that is wrong – I don’t want to do that. I may be forced to resort to it for certain reasons, but it’s not going to be for too long.

And suddenly after getting back here, I feel suffocated by the vastness around me – in all its oxy-moronish wisdom. Hearing the high pitched it’slikeit’slikeohmygaad voice of American teenagers brings out the inner mami in me by making me want to say something really mean and inappropriate to shut them up. One more minute of hip-hop blaring in my ears and I can throw up. This is thanks to my undergrad ABCD housemate who thinks that she’s being one big fat blob of coolness by playing songs that are basically expletive-stringed-shlokas. Infact, oddly my room mate and I were considering playing Suprabhatham at 6 am just for the kicks 😛 Suddenly, the very freedom I wanted is making me so claustrophobic that I need closure. I want amma, appa, Dolly and the whole package deal with me all the time. Every time I velaku-ethify (light the lamp. Yes, I may have tattoos and all but I’m pious ok?) Kabaleeshwar Koil nostalgia hits me so hard it makes me cry.

It is all like global warming and climate change. A couple of decades ago, global warming was cult. It was feared akin to the Devas fearing the Asuras. Homams were conducted in Parthasarathy koil to nullify the effect of greenhouse gases trapping sun’s incident rays and increasing the earth’s temperature thus causing polar icecaps to melt and increasing global sea levels leading to flooding etc. It was the most love-to-hate thing there was. Then came the decade of the skeptics who claimed temperatures are increasing but not increasing, it exists but does not exist kind of stuff. Soon, people got bored and continued eating idlis or pancakes or whatever for breakfast and going on with life. Now, the term has been rechristened climate change. Too many skeptics have shaken the foundation of scientists enough to just let it be. No warming and all, just – change.

In that sense, I feel – if something as big as the Earth can change, then why not me?