What is true love?

What is true love? It is loving the same person, the same place all the time? Can two people, who are growing everyday, becoming fuller and truer versions of themselves, always stay in sync of each other’s changes and stay right for each other? Is it unlikely that we outgrow the people that we love, not because they are bad people, but our growth makes us need different things at different points in our lives?

Somewhere, all of us crave for change. We want to do different things, learn different things, eat different things, live differently. However, often, when are standing at the cusp of a change, we draw back. We look hard into ourselves and wonder, is the change even required? We talk ourselves into the thousand things that are going well for us. We think about the people who are in our lives, the memories we have made with them. We think about the things that we are so used to using. We remember the usual roads that we take, the convenience of the neighborhood that we live in.

Interestingly, when we are far away from change, we nitpick and find faults with our current existence: we complain about how the apartment we are living in is not cool enough, how we have to deal with too much traffic in the cities that we live in, how the people around us are difficult. But standing at the cusp of change, those same things feel wonderful, comfortable, and loving.

For almost three years now, I have been living in the same apartment, working in the same job. I had always told myself that I wanted to travel, live in another country. Now, when the situation is finally presenting itself to me (not the foreign travel, just yet), I am feeling a sense of lethargy. I just want to lie with my face hidden in my soft pillow and wish things could go on in the same manner for the remainder of my life. I wish I was still working with the people I first met when I joined my workplace – so very few of them are now left in the workplace.

But that’s the thing – even if we wished for things to stay the same, they won’t. There was a time when people lived the same lifestyle their entire lives, didn’t move around much, didn’t change jobs, lived in the same neighborhood all their lives, became an extended family to the neighbors – cried in their sad times, were happy for their happiness – but the times have changed. People who we want to hold on to leave all the time, and we have to just sit back and accept it. Partly because, today there are so many opportunities. Partly because, today, even as young employees, we can afford so much. People delay their marriages all the time these days, so nobody is tied down by family needs. We all have invisible wings now – we all can fly away and grow roots in a town very different from the ones we grew up in, speak other languages, sing different songs, eat different cuisine.

Yet, standing in this 21st century, my heart does ache from time to time for a time when things were not-so-dynamic – when you could fall in love with one person and could just die happily being married to them, having built a family around them.

Once upon a time, I looked down upon our generation for moving from one relationship to the other, as if relationships really do not have an expiry date. However, having lived a few more years on this Earth, having known a bunch of more people, I realized all relationships have an expiry date. Sometimes, we do outgrow the people we love, sometimes, we grow to dislike the same people who we once loved. It is natural and it is not a bad thing. Change gives us an opportunity to start with a new slate, fix the things that we earlier could not.

But in all this, if we do find those people, those places, who we want to come back to again and again, even after we have ended our relationships, because even if in the short period they do not match our needs, but in the long term we realize the importance of their presence in our lives, I guess, we have found true love.

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Bangalore – the city of million dreams

I came to Bangalore on a wintry October morning in 2015. To say that there were dreams in my eyes would be exaggeration. For the most part, I did not know if I wanted to be here. More than a thousand kilometers from home and the people who loved me, Bangalore was only a place to earn money and pay back the loan that I had taken for my education. Of course, I had lived away from home for the four years of college, but living in different cities in the same state and in different states were different things altogether. Besides, we had no friends or family in Bangalore. It was the city of clean slate, a city of beginning of my career life – a new chapter in my life.

There is a beauty in clean slate – it holds the promise of myriad wonderful things that would come. It makes you hopeful and makes you want to be a better version of yourself everyday. It is like going to the origin of a river and feeling that the water should remain thus pure even as it moves through civilization. Of course, it’s a fool’s dream, but it is a dream. It is a possibility. Maybe, if all of us had seen the beautiful origin of a river, we would think twice before dumping dirt into it.

Having lived in this city for about three years now, I look back on the day I arrived. The memories that I have are of a crowded train station, of an auto-driver telling us that he knew the destination that we wanted to go to and dragging our trolley bags out of that crowded station. A misty morning. I remember asking the driver while we passed the Phoenix mall what place it was. I remember being surprised that he charged us three hundred for a mere fifteen minutes ride – from where I came, that price was exorbitant. I remember struggling inside of ITPL tech park to search for the accommodation that my office had provided me, no one knew which building was Daffodil, and the office contact who was supposed to help me with the accommodation insisted the building was inside ITPL. It felt weird, because from first looks, it was a tech park full of office buildings. I couldn’t understand why there would be a residential building in it in the first place.

The first day of work is still fresh in my mind: my parents were to head back home, so I went to visit them at their hotel. We took a picture together, me in a pink formal shirt that I loved and had bought just before coming to Bangalore (the shirt got wasted within the first few weeks as I burned it while ironing). All three of us are smiling in that picture: my father with his booming all-toothed smile, proud that I am about to begin a new journey, my mother with her silent, peaceful smile, albeit a little tired from the train journey and her father’s death just before we boarded the train to Bangalore.

The first few days did not feel like work at all. In fact, even after so many months, it hardly feels like I go to work. Thanks for the major part to Mu Sigma, which took us all into its wings and created a safe haven for fresh college graduates like me, who were clueless about what professional life was really about. Within its meeting rooms, I learnt the meaning of accountability, the feel of working together in a team and standing up for the team. I learned to speak to clients and present the work that we had done. I learned to understand what business goals were and how we should focus on problem solving from a holistic approach, rather than looking at things in silos. Mu Sigma has added a perspective in my life. I am thankful.

Beyond the company, my tryst with Bangalore has been minimal. Bangalore for me is my home – one slice of a room in a three bedroom flat and my work. My work friends are also my outside-of-work friends in Bangalore. But I know countless people in this city now: a bunch of people who have moved on, changed companies, changed cities, and even countries. It is the city where I fell in love with the variety of people who touched my lives, learned to see the unity in diversity. This city made me trust strangers and make them friends. This city made me financially independent. This city helped me fulfill my family’s dreams.

The river has flown, meandering across villages and cities, swallowing up sins of the generation in its wake. I, too, have dealt with my demons in this city – insomnia and depression became two companions. But like the river is ever-flowing, never-stopping, this city taught me to look at every day as that new, clean slate. It made me forget a sad past and taught me to look ahead. It made me dream of a beautiful future and believe that it would become a reality. Bangalore – thank you! 🙂

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Stories are powerful

As a kid, when anyone came into our house, I used to bug them to tell me stories. I don’t quite remember the stories that my these people told me anymore. Looking back, I don’t even understand why I wanted to listen to those stories. As it was, it was not the age of deep thinking. I guess what I craved for was a a glimpse into a world that was not mine, something different, something wonderful.

I began writing for my school magazine in my third grade. The first few years were poems, and then I graduated to writing fiction. I was never good with storytelling; even today, I am not. I derive heavily from the life that I am part of, which is why, my stories are always, in some form, about me. I know for a fact, I could never spin up a world like Harry Potter’s. I think I do not have the imaginative mind to do it.

I have not written stories in a long time, even though I want to. I have always wanted to write good stories. But somehow, I always struggle with a good ending. Or if I have the right ending, I don’t know the story that led to that ending. Sometimes, I feel I am too young, I have not seen life enough to write anything meaningful.

It impacts how my relationship with this blog has also changed over time. There was a point when I wrote anything and everything here. These days, I don’t feel like writing unless I really feel like I have something to say. Even that is filtered to an extent. A lot of my writing are now personal, diary entries in a folder in my laptop. At this stage of life, that’s what feels right.

When I was younger, stories were independent things, with a life of limited duration. They began in the time that I started reading a book or someone started telling a story and ended when the story ended. The life of the story was within the duration of when it was told. But as I grew, as I watched movies and TV series, as I read more books (currently reading The Kite Runner), I realize that the stories we watch/read become a part of our everyday life. They somehow manage to creep into the fabric of our lives, and come back to us in their own time or affect the way we deal with our lives. As I grow, I realize, we all are also living some form of stories. Why do we want to be friends with different types of people? Because we want to witness a version of life that we are not living. We want to see how different life can be, when the actors are different. We take lessons from other people’s lives, we discover ourselves in the lens of other people’s lives. That’s why we write stories. That’s why we read stories.

Even businesses, at the end of the day, are stories. When you have a bunch of data and want to find some insights from it, what do you do? You try to visualize a story that the data can help you tell. That’s what analytics is all about. That’s why modern corporates stress so much on the art of storytelling. Analysis, done in silos, findings found in disparate chunks of data, do not make any sense unless they tie to the story that depicts the current state of the business, or tells it where it wants to go.

That’s why storytelling is powerful. That’s why art will always be counterpart of science.

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The Happiness Project | Day 30

From six to thirty: it’s a bigggggggggggggg jump! Yes, I am talking about the missing 24-odd days of blogging in The Happiness Project.

I know I promised to write every single day in May, and I failed miserably at it. I have also not been uploading any videos on my YouTube channel. There is a reason behind this: generating content is difficult. Especially, when you are also trying to live your life at the same time. Not everyday you’d have stuff that you can talk about to an audience. And I am the sort of person who does not like to pour out content just for the sake of it.

Living the twenties is hard, especially if you are on your own, out of a relationship and living far away from family and suck at forming and maintaining friendships. An interesting bit I found about myself: even though I want to be around people (because being lonely sucks), I also love silence a lot. I like thinking by myself, and recording my thoughts in a diary. If I go out for two weekends straight, I find myself craving just being at home, having to do nothing other than chill out. That’s me!

As I was writing this, I revisited the first post in this series. The idea was to reconnect with the younger self of mine, who was more curious about things. I could not complete much of the things that I had listed down in that post, like growing plants and reading new books. But I definitely have started with a few things. There is no routine to anything yet, but I did make an effort to start.

For example, I got one of my previous teammates to come over at my place last weekend and help me with learning swimming. We also made cheesecake that evening, and it ended up being absolutely amazing. I also made an effort to go to a music school for guitar lessons. I did not really find the place worth joining at this point in time, but I did try doing something about learning an instrument.

I also started reading Mindy Kaling’s book, Is everything hanging out without me? I am making very slow progress, but I am at least getting somewhere.

Another interesting turn of events at work: I moved to a new project and am leading it. The last time I was really putting efforts in leading a team was around this time last year, and that time I was just pushed into the role because there was no one else to do the same thing. However, this year, I am a year older and have seen lot more stuff at work, and while I can’t say I am completely ready for the job, at least I have a few goals that I want to achieve in this role, and I trying my best to consciously work towards them.

So, as the clock strikes midnight and we step into brand new June of 2018, am I any happier? Well, definitely yes! Much more than I was when I began journaling this. Of course, not everything is perfect. I am feeling a bit weak physically this past week, and I am also waking up in the middle of the night every single day and am unable to fall asleep for an hour or two, and it scares me that the insomniac phase from the beginning of this year is returning again, but guess what? I try to not let that affect me. Yes, I would give anything to wake up earlier and get a lot more work done, but this is how it is. Maybe, something will change and my body clock with become right again. Maybe not. But I have to stay on top of my life.

So, what did I really learn in the past month?: Sometimes, breaking promises is good. Sometimes, letting yourself do what you feel like is good, even if they do not align to your goals. But in the other times, consciously trying to make 0.01% change towards your goals can lead to 10% increase in happiness. Okay, that’s a random number – but you get the point!

Thanks for being part of my journey! If you have been with me in this Happiness Project, I hope this concluding post makes up for the lack of the promised posts. Write to me in the Comments section – I love hearing from you guys!

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The Happiness Project | Day 6

Yesterday, I went with my friend Pooja to Phoenix mall. I have been to Phoenix mall multiple times, but it never fails to mesmerize me with its crowd. People there usually are so well-dressed and good-looking that in the beginning I used to get inferiority complex! No kidding!

Having stayed in Bangalore for about 2.5 years now and having reached sort of a financial security in my own life, the inferiority complex is gone. In fact, yesterday, looking at so many good-looking people actually inspired me.

Back in 2017, I used to hit the gym almost five days a week. It had become a great habit. However, 2018 took a bit of toll on me and somehow, I ended up stopping going to the gym. The thing with life is, it is not always a forward-looking journey. It is filled with loops – sometimes the loops take you forward, sometimes backward. Not always you are moving linearly towards your final goal. I feel growing up is about accepting this and not beating ourselves up on missing a set goal. There is a reason why new year resolutions do not work for the most part. Life takes a dig at you almost everyday, and to stay put to a fixed set of goals is difficult. Sometimes, the changing goals are not bad either, it means you are responding to the lemons life is throwing at you.

Nonetheless, yesterday, I was so excited that I thought I’d definitely go to the gym. I had already walked a lot yesterday, since we were at the mall for close to four hours. Besides that, I had gone to buy groceries as well, which is another half an hour of walk to and fro. Unfortunately, when I went to the gym, there was no light, none of the switches was working! I don’t know when this happened, but last time I checked, people used to hit the gym in the evenings on weekends.

Then I thought I’d go in the morning, between 8 to 9 today. I went to bed on time, around 11.45 PM, much earlier than my usual 1-2 AM. And guess what? The mosquitoes were so annoying that I was up close an hour in the morning around 5 AM. And then I finally got up from the bed at 10 AM! Another missed goal, there!

Anyway, I am not going to let this affect me. I will figure out some other form of exercise (there is a TT court at office, probably will put that to use). The idea is to get back to the usual scheme of things (by which I mean a healthy, happier lifestyle) by this weekend. I’ll keep you guys updated! 🙂

 

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The Happiness Project | Day 5

Yesterday, unfortunately, there was no post added on The Happiness Project. I did make a promise to write everyday for the rest of the month. However, I just ended up lying on my bed and watching SUITS the entire day.

This is what today’s post is about: not SUITS, but being unable to keep commitments.

I have always been someone who has been able to keep promises. I usually always finished my school homework on time. My lab reports in college were always filled. I am never behind on my bills. I repaid my education loan on time.

But there are other things in which I am consistently falling behind: things which are personal, which do not require external commitments. I am not able to keep the promises I make to myself.

In December, last year, I started my YouTube channel. I had been posting videos on them consistently. Recently I crossed the 100 subscribers milestone as well. My channel is growing. On the one hand, it makes me happy. On the other, I am losing motivation to keep making the videos. It does not feel like a lot of work, really. But I am struggling to come up with new ideas to execute videos every week. Besides, with every video I put out, the pressure is to get a little better every time. I do not want to put up something just for the sake of putting it.

Over the course of last two years, I have realized one thing about myself: I function best when there are set goals that I have to reach. I did well in school and college because we had set grades to get and I managed my schedule around that. Now that everything is fuzzy, I am struggling to take decisions. How much money is enough money? How much should I save every month? What should by my next five year plan?

I have made plans before, plans which were sort of people-dependent. The people moved on, and I had to forget those plans and make new ones. The solution seems simple: to remove people-dependency. Logically, I know this is the right thing. But deep inside my heart, there is this craving to do something together, to share my life with people who care, to be around people who make me smile and share the same appreciation of life as I do. Such people are hard to come by, as I am not in a situation in life where I meet a lot of people in my everyday life. Plus, I am living far from my immediate family.

Somehow, coping with all this is hard. I find it hard these days to drag myself out of bed and be the boss of my own life. But that said, at least I am making efforts to live each day, without giving up on living life. Somewhere, I have this hope that things will start getting better, somewhere down in the timeline. Somewhere, I will start meeting the people that I will need in my life. And for now, perhaps that is enough.

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The Happiness Project | Day 3

A Matter of Chance

For the most part, I believe that what our hearts desire is often rewarded by the Universe. Oftentimes, I would want something badly and would not be able to figure out how on Earth would it be possible to achieve it. And then, voila! Out of nowhere, the Universe would present my heart’s desire to me.

However, as I said, this is true only for the most part. I can definitely remember countless other things that I have wanted and they have not been fulfilled so far. I have made my peace with that and moved on. In fact, in retrospect, I realize that I do not really need those things in my life.

Which is what brings me the question, in the grand scheme of design, how does the Universe decide which wants to fulfill? Especially, when there are more than one person involved in the process of fulfilling that desire? How does Universe know how far to go? Does it automatically know what is best for us and it is best to make our peace with that? Should we really leave things to chance?

How far do we have the capacity to change, what they call, the course of our lives? Am I simply destined to travel the world or can I make it happen by my sheer grit even if I was not destined to?

In my mind, I can imagine the Universe sitting at this table, with a constant flow of requests flowing in queues. It takes but a moment to decide which want to grant and which to reject. The rejected piles, with the face of dejected humans, stand by in a corner. Some of them probably accept their fate, while others decide to challenge the ruling of the Universe.

Who is the cleverer of the two? Is it always better to challenge the Universe? What if your plea was a wrong one in the first place? And your appeal is rewarded with a burnt out future? Wouldn’t giving up in the first place have been a cleverer choice?

What if you do succeed in your appeal and you really get your heart’s desire? Maybe, the appeal was all that you needed for the Universe to change its mind.

How do we decide? Growing up is perhaps this balancing act: to weigh our options of possibles and impossibles and deciding what is worth fighting for. That said, the results are never guaranteed.

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