Ananya sat in the corner of a coffeeshop, weeping, hidden from the gaze of others. She did not want others to see her in such a precarious position. She held her head down, her eyes fixed on the table, and her phone balanced on her lap. Aman, the coffee shop manager, saw her but did not want to intrude on her privacy. So he turned his attention elsewhere, but Ananya had caught his eye. Therefore, she became a little alarmed because she didn’t want to seem like a five-year-old.

She looked depressed, with dull brown eyes and heavy bags under them from a lack of sleep. Her dry hair flew everywhere as it emerged from her hurried messy bun, which stood embarrassingly over her head. She wore a crimson wrap-around crop top with cream palazzos, supported by a dandelion-coloured belt that complimented her ivory skin. Aside from her glum expression, she looked stunning.

Aman was saddened to see her depressed state. He wanted to do something to comfort her, but it was against his rules. He didn’t know what to do because he didn’t know her name, she hadn’t ordered anything since the time she came, and it would be impolite to demand her to leave. She was weeping, she was clearly in a vulnerable state, and the least he could do was leave her alone.

But could he? Any tear that Ananya shed drew him closer to her. He couldn’t look away from her or her pretty face. The coffee shop was almost empty and there weren’t a lot of customers to serve. With nothing much to do, Aman made a tasty ‘Hot Chocolate.’ And with that, he went and placed it on Ananyas’ table. She didn’t look up, maybe she was trying to hide her face, or perhaps she didn’t notice Aman, or maybe she didn’t want to look up because she was embarrassed. Aman thought it was best to leave her, he had already done his job.

Aman returned to the counter, but he kept staring at Ananya out of the corner of his eye. He wanted her to drink the coffee so she might feel better. But Ananya was busy staring at her phone screen with dull orbs, struggling to hold back her tears that threatened to fall from her eyes which would create rivers on her cheeks and waterfalls into her cup of coffee. Just then, the steam from her coffee swirled above the mug and stuck to the coffee shop window, obscuring her view from the world beyond the glass. She was still lost in her phone. 📱

From the 8-10 customers that sat in the coffee shop, some had started to leave. Aman was still waiting for Ananya to drink the coffee, but realized it would have become cold. Just when he was going to clean her table, Ananya glanced up, surprised to find a cup of coffee on her table. She hadn’t ordered anything. She wiped her tears and, on instinct, turned to look at an approaching Aman, who had stopped midway. Their eyes met for a split second, after which Ananya returned her gaze to the cup of coffee. Without saying or asking anything, she slowly drank the now cold coffee, left money on the table, and hurriedly walked out of the coffee shop. Aman was perplexed. Perhaps something was seriously wrong in her life. He wished to see her the next day, but she was just another customer, and he was just another regular, working in a coffee shop. So he let go of the possibility of seeing her again. But was she ‘just another customer?’

There she was, exactly at 7 pm, at the same table. She wore a lovely red colour long skirt that flattered her white button-down shirt very well. She wore a scintillating choker that enhanced the beauty of her overall look. She was gorgeous. But only if she removed this gloomy look and smiled. Still, Aman was very happy to see her. He hadn’t expected she would come. Yet again, she sat staring at her phone. Aman still didn’t know her name, and there was no way to ask her. He decided to do what he was best at: making and serving coffee. He prepared another cup of coffee, this time a ‘Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino’, set it on her table, and left.

From her peripheral vision, Ananya saw a pair of legs walk past her table. The urge to look at the coffee shop guy was intense, but she didn’t want to look up and meet his gaze. So she did what she was best at: ignoring and pretending. Just this time, she curled her small slender fingers around her cup, lifted it to see its wet condiment through the transparent lid, and took a long sip with the help of the straw, the sweet taste of coffee overwhelming her taste buds. Once her coffee was finished, she got up, put the money on the table, and left. This became her usual routine.

She came everyday. Same time, same table. Often she would sit silently, other times her fingers would drum along to the soft music playing in the coffee shop, and now and then her head would bop in sync with the beat of the music. But she was always alone, troubled and distraught. She never ordered anything, but Aman always brought her a fresh cup of coffee every day. He had her try everything, from ‘Vanilla Latte’ to ‘Caffé Mocha’ to ‘Choco Java Chip.’ But they still didn’t know each other’s names. There was an unspoken agreement between them, unspoken words that they exchanged, an unspoken relationship that they didn’t know was brewing between them. A lot can happen over a cup of coffee! ☕️

Ananya liked coming to this coffeeshop now. This was one of the best coffee shops in the city. The air here was always overflowing with a dizzying array of coffee aromas mixed in an unforgettable blend of nuances. There were sounds of people chatting, cups being picked off plates, and assistants working, all of which contributed to the vibrant and enthusiastic atmosphere. Baked foods were always neatly arranged on the transparent glass cabinet, ready to be served. There were also a variety of cakes like Blueberry Cheesecake, Loaves, and Cookies. The walls were decorated with vintage photographs, encouraging coffee tasters to admire the photography techniques, and remember their past. The nine-foot-high ceiling of the coffee shop was always lit up with low lights that were bright enough to reflect on the chestnut-coloured furniture.

Ananya enjoyed coming into this mini art museum and sitting in her cozy corner, silently staring at the pictures in this hushed setting, sneaking glances at Aman. It all seemed to combine so well with each other that Ananya thought she was a slacker in such a beautiful setting. But who would tell her that it was her, who was the beautiful setting for Aman?

Everyday Aman waited for her, to give her a new coffee, expecting her to smile once. This continued for a month. Suddenly after that, she stopped coming. Aman waited for her, he hoped everyday she would come. But there was no sign of her. He felt sad, but what could he do. He didn’t know her name. Maybe everything went back to being normal in her world, now that she had shaken his world. Nature’s equilibrium was preserved. 💔

After about 2 months, Aman heard a sweet voice when making entries in the register. His heart had a feeling it was her. He didn’t want to believe it, but something compelled him to tell her it was her. The unspoken connection.

He didn’t want to look up. Was it her?

“Hi,” Ananya said. Aman raised his head, shocked to see her. He may have died just to see her again. ‘Happy’ didn’t even come close to describing how he felt at that moment. He couldn’t express himself verbally. Suddenly, everything in the universe felt small in comparison to that moment. He couldn’t believe it. He thought he was dreaming when Ananya again said, “Hi, my name is…”

Aman was so engrossed in her that he didn’t even hear her name. He just stood there, admiring her appearance. Today, she was smiling. She looked happy. Gorgeous. Lovely. Stunning. Aman could use all the good adjectives to describe her today. Even that would be less. Ananya was wearing the same dress she wore the first time she met Aman. Indirectly. But she looked her best today because she was smiling. She’d let her hair down today, and it was cascading down her back. She’d let an unruly smear of hair fall down her forehead, which Aman wished he could tuck behind her ear. Her silky black hair matched her well, and this was the first time Aman had a good look at them. The caramel highlights in her hair offered a nice contrast of shade, which reminded him of decadent desserts that are hard to resist. Ananya had never let her hair down everytime she came to the coffee shop. They were always tied in a sloppy bun or poorly drawn back into a chignon.

Today her chocolate brown eyes met Aman for the first time. How long he had wanted her to look at him like that! Her cherry red lips added a pop of colour to her skin. Her delicate hands terminated in painted, polished butterscotch nails. Did he mention charming and attractive? 😍

Aman’s reverie broke when Ananya spoke again, “Hi for the third time, can I please have a Hot Chocolate?”

“Sure madam, Short, Tall, Grande, Venti?” stammered Aman. He was mentally kicking himself for not reacting the other two times Ananya spoke to him.

“Much like the first time you gave it to me”, replied Ananya with a blush. That Hot Chocolate worked like a charm.

“And what name do I write on your cup?” asked Aman.

“Ananya”, she replied, and went back to sitting in her cozy space in the coffee shop. Finally!

Aman prepared the coffee, went and set it on her table. He paused for a moment to speak with her, then realized it would be inappropriate to speak to a customer in this manner, so he turned around and was about to leave when Ananya said, “wait, I am sorry.” For shaking his world upside down?

“I am sorry mam, I didn’t understand you”, replied Aman, as he turned towards Ananya.

“Please don’t call me mam, and will you please sit down so that we can talk? Can we not pretend Aman?” Thanks to the nametag on his apron.

“Yes sure, but…how do you know my name?” asked Aman, completely forgetting about his nametag. Ananya pointed towards it. Aman felt stupid to have been pointed out such an obvious thing.

Ananya signalled Aman to sit on the chair opposite her. He hesitated for a moment for there were other customers, but he didn’t want to miss this opportunity. Once both got comfortable, Ananya spoke again, “The first time I came here, I was crying. I’d had a bitter breakup with the guy I dated for 6 long years. He called me that day to tell me he fell out of love and didn’t want to continue our relationship. That day was the day he had proposed to me first. I couldn’t believe it. It broke my heart.” Life doesn’t play fair, particularly when it comes to matters of the heart.

“I came to this coffee shop to sit alone and do nothing. My phone was open and displayed the text from him, the text I was constantly looking at – Please live your life and let me live mine! We are done! I wanted to throw my phone across the coffee shop and scream, but I didn’t want to create a scene.”

Before Aman could respond, Ananya added, “I want to thank you. Before you ask why, please allow me to finish. I came here every day to sit and contemplate what I could do with my life. How could the one I cared about the most leave me in such a way? I wanted to slit my wrists and die. But then your coffee came along, and shook my world of lost hope. Your coffee gave me a different reason to get up in the morning. I started looking forward to different coffees everyday.”

Aman made a gesture to speak. He wanted to tell her he was happy he could help, he wanted to tell her so much more, he wanted to show her he could do anything for her love, fight anyone who made her cry, but sufficed himself with the thought that he was just a coffeeshop guy.  Ananya kept her fingers on his mouth to prevent him from speaking, and said,

“With different coffees everyday, you showed me that there are flavours, that I have options in this world, and that I don’t have to settle for one. If I didn’t try new flavours, I would have missed out on the best. You saved my life. I was scared to invest in any kind of connection in my life after the break up. I was afraid, not to commit, but to surrender myself and place my heart ❤️ into hands that didn’t know how to hold it. But you rekindled my faith in love, it took me 2 months to realize my feelings. Those 2 months when I didn’t come to the coffeeshop, I realized I missed your coffee, I missed you, so I finally have the courage to accept some thing. And I am just going to say it.”

Kneeling down on one knee, Ananya sat down and took his hands in hers and confessed, “So I am back in this coffee shop for you Aman, to tell you that I have fallen for you, and it’s not the best pick up line ever, but I want to tell you, you are just the way I like my coffee.”

“You mean different flavours everyday?” asked Aman, hinting at the possibility of different men in her life.

Ananya laughed and said, “I meant, I like my coffee just the way YOU make it!”

“I love you Ananya!” replied Aman, as he pulled Ananya in his arms. Love me like you do, la-la-love me like you do, touch me like you do, ta-ta-touch me like you do…plays in the background.

Love always finds you, if you make room for it. People say love hurts, but love is the only thing in this world that covers up all the pain.

Don’t Hide your Pride! 🌈

No one deserves to live in a closet. That’s what Harry Potter movies taught us, right?

So let’s talk about some people who are still ‘closeted’, whom we call homosexuals. Don’t worry, if you’re homophobic, this post isn’t for you, but here’s a great welcome to those who think this is perfectly normal, who believe homos aren’t on the wrong side of the wall.

In today’s world, we see that identity is an important aspect because it explains an individual’s characteristics. This aids in categorizing them, making it easier for us to deal with these types of people. But who are these people?

They are just ordinary people who are attracted to the same gender. They should not be labelled as “not-straight.” Do we refer to the colour black as non-white? Or the bottle of ketchup as non-mustard? Giving people names or labelling them has been a long-standing practice in which the person is branded into a pre-determined category where all the people with that “label” are viewed as the same and require the same treatment.

Why is it so difficult for us to accept that a girl loves another girl or a boy loves another boy in the same way a man loves a woman? Is marrying a person of the opposite gender only justified because they can have children while Homos cannot? There are adoption homes and orphanages, still love or marriage should not be done solely to have children. To live a happy and peaceful life, all one needs is a companion to share their love with.

If we follow nature’s lead, we will realize that sexuality was implanted in our bodies primarily for reproduction, and we’re all here as a result. It’s because there is pleasure attached to it. But if there was no pleasure in it, no one would do it; giving birth is a very painful experience for a woman. Even so, we see that many people today do not pursue pleasure. Just because someone is romantically attracted to another person, it does not mean they must be sexually attracted to that person, right? It’s because some people are able to think beyond their hormones.

Many people consider homosexuality to be an illness, a sinful act that can be remedied. But how can you rectify something that isn’t wrong? How can medicine be created when there is no disease? Covid requires treatment. Identities don’t. Love is not wrong, and it can be felt for anyone.

We’ve all grown up watching Disney movies that instilled morality in children in a subtle way. But who decides what morals should be depicted in these films? Why does only a Prince save Sleeping Beauty or fall in love with Cinderella? Why can’t it be a Princess?

With heterosexuality as society’s assumed sexuality, non-heterosexuals face increased discrimination and prejudice. The prevalence of heteronormativity in popular culture has altered how people perceive homosexuality. It’s like public vs. private, with heterosexuality being public and homosexuality being private, and thus not to be discussed. Do we still have that age-old thinking ki jo chala aa raha hai, wahi theek hai? The problem is this is what we have been taught as kids. It was Jack and Jill who went up the hill, and not Jack and Johnny!

This is one of the topics that is rarely discussed, particularly in India, where it is considered a stigma and societal acceptance is still a long way off. However, as a result of the increased awareness generated by social media and films, young people are becoming more accepting of this. Even though homosexuality has been subtly depicted in films like Kapoor & Sons, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa LagaDostana, and others, these films have made quite a few attempts to challenge society’s established norms, but they are still few and far between. So there is a growing need for more attempts to challenge and subvert the established sexual orientation norms.

But that’s just one part of the problem, the bigger ones come when homosexuals are told things like, “I can cure your disease,” “So what’s in your pants?” “You don’t look like one,” “There are only two genders,” “It’s a phase,” or “Just pick a side.” Well, attraction isn’t a game of dodgeball, is it?

The fact that one aspect of the physical occupies so much of the human mind creates a wrong view of life. Being ruled by your sexual orientation, whether hetero or homo, is essentially the same thing. You are completely ruled by one aspect within you, an aspect that was created for a specific purpose, has now become the most and only dominant factor in you, to the point where you are unable to think otherwise. Isn’t it sad? Nature trusted us, humans, with our intelligence and believed that our minds could function independently of our hormones, but much of humanity has failed Nature. So it doesn’t matter what kind of sexual identity we’ve received; being identified with a few body parts is bad enough.

Many people in the world are confused as to what precisely determines sexual orientation. Several scientific studies have been conducted, and the findings contradict people’s commonly held beliefs. Most people believe that if someone is homosexual, they must be strange, cursed, and immoral, or subject to some form of punishment, just because they are different, as considered by society. Because of this fear, people remain in the closet, sometimes forever because they don’t want to become prey to the judgmental eyes of their own family, and then of the world. How difficult will it be for their parents to find them a match of the same gender? Will the homophobic society accept? (But then homosexuality ends with ‘ality’ so does ‘reality’ and ‘personality’. While homophobia ends with ‘phobia’ which is an anxiety disorder and OMG! It’s that part of the society that needs help, and not the Homos, they are doing great!)

But thankfully, the attitude towards homosexuality has shifted over time. It is no longer considered abnormal behaviour and has been removed from the list of mental disorders. It has been decriminalized in many countries like Argentina, Australia, France, South Africa, the UK, and India too (cheers to section 377 of the Indian Penal Code).

With such awareness, many events have been held for this part of the community. For example – Gay and Lesbian Pride in Johannesburg, The Gay and the Lesbian film festival in Lisbon, Porto Pride Party in Portugal, Pink Dot in Singapore, etc. Cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Nagpur, and many others, have also hosted the gay pride march. This clearly shows India’s homosexual community, as well as how vocal they are in their demands and rights. Even though it took a lot of time, the decision regarding Section 377 is commendable.

If you’ve made it this far, I’d like to thank you for your time, because it means you’re not one of those ‘homophobes.’ We need more people like you in this world. Surely then will we get the nerve to convince the rest of the world too, to change its mind and welcome diversity in all of its forms.

I remember reading these beautiful lines somewhere “being a homo is like being left-handed. Some people are, most people aren’t, and nobody knows why. But it’s not wrong or right, it’s just the way it is!” You can think of it this way, or, more importantly, you don’t have to label them because they aren’t different in any way. They are Homo-sapiens (which is the scientific name of the human species). 

So every time a person goes up to them and asks them about their identity, it is a reminder to them that coming out is never a one-time thing, but an everyday thing! Every new person they meet and new situation they are in, they get asked the same question. It’s frustrating.

Therefore the next time someone tells you or your homo friend, that being “homo” is actually a CHOICE, please ask them – When did they decide to become STRAIGHT? 

Here’s to loving who you love, to standing in your authenticity, and to the people of generations past who fought to gain the rights and opportunities that are there in the world today ❤️

Let’s celebrate the national #pridemonth 🏳️‍🌈 and spread some love!

The Future looked Positive but turned out Negative!

Many years ago, people expected that 2020 will be a year of growth and success. So we were all living comfortably as we awaited this future. Greta Thunberg’s School Strike for Climate captivated the world’s attention, we were making memes on how to fix things with instant noodles, etc., until the time a strange, unheard virus shattered everything we used to perceive as normal. The lethal virus, COVID-19, has become a household name now. #COVID has been the most often used expression in history.

We, humans, have a proclivity to manipulate life so that we can chart our own path towards achieving our goals. But life, contrarily, has other intentions and does not always go as planned. For example, who would have expected that a pandemic would occur, stranding us all inside our homes?

The yearlong lockdown compelled mankind to reconsider its decisions made over the last few decades. Things we took for granted were quickly ripped away from us, such as the way we used to head off to college, the way we used to dress up for celebrations, the quick drive we used to take to the nearest grocery store, or the way we waited in theatres to see movies. Our lifestyles have changed dramatically as a result of digitalization, from socializing with peers to “let’s do a zoom call.”

2020 had been a one-of-a-kind experience for everybody. It had forced people to change their working patterns from the workplace to the home, forcing them to devote more time to care for their loved ones. Others found it frustrating due to the large amount of free time, where they were curled up at home with little to do but watch Netflix, and scroll Instagram. Although some enjoyed this isolation, others were experiencing difficulties. In those times, daily wage workers and unorganized sectors were struggling to survive and earn a living.

The “New Normal”

The way we lived in 2020 is now a part of our everyday lives. However, boredom has led people to pursue their passions, which they once had little time for. Many people have shown their culinary abilities, while some have admitted their enjoyment of reading books, while even others have used this time to take new courses online.

Last year, the malls, restaurants, movie theatres, saloons, shops, schools, colleges, and religious places, were shut. The world had come to a standstill. But that made us realize that we can still lead our lives, we do not need to go out for vacation, or order food from outside, or necessarily sit in the office for long hours. This period has made us realize our existence, the importance of family relations, and spending quality time. 

Now slowly and steadily, things are opening up, and the countries are trying to get back to being “normal”, or whatever the hell it is. Since we are now operating from home, businesses have reduced office rooms, expenses, and travel budgets for themselves and their workers. Furthermore, for a large city like Mumbai, the traffic was atrocious. People now save a lot of time by not getting caught in traffic. This time is better spent on other things. It seems that this trend of WFH is here to stay at least for the foreseeable future.

What’s in Store Ahead?

People all over the world are profoundly shaken and affected. This pandemic has wreaked havoc on many facets of the world’s economy, finances, families, jobs, and physical and mental health. Nonetheless, we humans remain hopeful that the planet will return to pre-pandemic times. We want to feel secure in our lives and be in command of them. But this has drained us emotionally, and we are stuck in a never-ending cycle of “what if it never happens?” This has caused us to conjure up hypothetical possibilities about what will happen next, but no one knows for certain. We’re all in the same boat. 

Everyone is clueless right now. We cannot predict what disease will come next, where will be the next bush fires, or will life change for the better? Will we ever shake hands and hug our friends like before?

What will the ‘post-coronavirus civilization’ bring for us?

Over the early years, there was a pervasive belief that the world would eventually improve. However, in the name of progress, man has destroyed nature, resulting in the annihilation of mankind. For example, humans caused a lot of emissions by using cars, ships, and establishing new industries. Much of this has, in the long term, affected our lives. We’ve got Asthma, Diphtheria, and other illnesses. Nature, however, is recovering as a result of the pandemic. The Ganges Water, which was formerly polluted, is now comparatively clean. 

Before Covid-19, we lived as if we were the ultimate identity on this planet, taking advantage of the man-made facilities to the next level. We didn’t realize that there is a high risk of the emergence of life-threatening illnesses capable of eradicating our simple mortal being. Following the Covid-19 episode, we now must be careful that more lethal diseases could occur in the future. The fact that Covid-19 leaves no stone unturned to persuade us that further events are possible, humans do not seem to have been impressed. Are we waiting for a more lethal version to jolt us out of our stupor?

The year 2020 will live on in the minds of people for the rest of their lives. It will be remembered as the incident that threw our lives into disarray. It resulted in tumultuous changes. It was an excruciatingly difficult year for some, while for others it was a year with a complete lull in their calendar.

Despite the abundance of year-end declarations telling us to put 2020 behind and never look back, the comfortable T-shirts and Pyjamas, quarantine TikToks, and countless Zoom-themed memes all brought a little levity to what had become a rather challenging year. I recall that the year 2021 began with fresh dreams, resolutions, and prayers. People were hoping for life to return to normal.

But are we making some realistic decisions for 2021 based on last years’ experience? Or are we simply waiting for the vaccine to allow us to resume doing whatever we were doing before the virus paralyzed us?

Since the future is unknown, it is up to us to make decisions that will pave the way for new opportunities. Some paths may lead us to harmony and peace, similar to how the sun rises every day in the hope of igniting a new desire and hope. Our happenings from the past and the present can affect our future.

Personally, I believe that the covid vaccine will become readily available in the market soon, most people will wear masks even a year from now, and that lifts will have self-cleaning buttons. We may or may not have virtual yoga lessons or squats with a bag full of books, but we will certainly meet the demands of pandemic era exercise.

Although there’s one thing that we have discovered now- we learn the best when we are affected as individuals, when our freedom and our satisfaction are at stake.

To all the people out there, stay home, stay safe, save lives. Remember, you are not stuck at home, you are safe at home! Please use double masks, sanitize yourself, and get your vaccine as soon as possible! We will fight this together!

Lifeline to Lifeless…

To many people, it may appear to be a mode of transportation, but only a true Mumbaikar knows what it’s like to travel in a Local train. Yes, it is the lifeline of Mumbai- a model based on diversity and plenty of human emotions.

A Local Train approaching the station

The city once known as Bombay, now Mumbai, is known by many names like, ‘the city of dreams’ or ‘the city that never sleeps.’ It is described as a city brimming with passion and opportunities, its willingness to walk that extra mile, and its fast-paced way of life – it is said that Mumbai never stops!

This pace of life can be found nowhere else in the country, a pace that is often suffocating for some and a blessing for others. This pace is amplified by the local trains of Mumbai. These trains are evidence of the city’s strength, which may explain why the announcement to suspend railway service as a control measure against Covid-19 on March 23, 2020 was regarded as a watershed moment.

Yesterdays’ lifeline has become Today’s nostalgia!

I recall the first time I had to use local. I had avoided it for a long time, yet in 11th grade, I had no choice but to use local because my college was far away and there was no point in wasting money on an auto-rickshaw. My father accompanied me to the station for the first time, and he instructed me to board the train as soon as it arrived. I assumed (having never travelled from the local during the rush hours) it would be simple: the train would stop, people would disembark, and people from here would then get in. But, of course, what was I thinking? LOL!

I couldn’t get inside the first train with all that bhaag-daaud and dhakka-mukki. That was the time my bubble of misconception broke. The fact that I thought people waited for the train to stop and everything was in order, was just a joke! My father was laughing as he looked at me. He said I had to push people and find a way in because there was no other way. Mumbai mein rehna hai toh local mein chadhna toh seekhna hi padega! (If you want to stay in Mumbai, you need to learn to travel by local trains).

I was a little annoyed by people’s impatience to get inside the train, battling for that little leg space, hanging on their dear life, and saying “aage badho.” Why can’t they just wait for people to get out properly and then get in? Train rookne se pehle chadhna zaroori hai kya? But by the second time, I was determined to catch the next train, by hook or by crook! So as soon as the train came I shamelessly elbowed the people to get inside. I wanted to turn around and wave goodbye to Dad, but by the time I did, the train had already moved away from the platform, having been stopped for two minutes! I was curious if my father was still laughing.

Well, that was my first experience, and after that I completely fell in love with the connectivity of local trains in Mumbai. Now that it’s stopped, I recount some amazing things about Mumbai locals –

1- It’s Aamchi Mumbai : When these words are spoken, the true spirits of local trains are reflected in them. Locals have become a symbol of Mumbai, so it’s no surprise that regular visitors refer to them as their first home.

2- It’s a ‘fare’ deal (see what I did there) : because it’s cheap, fast, easy, and you can go wherever you want, thanks to the connection between the three major railway lines – Western, Central, and Harbour. Remember the times when Nokia came out with the tagline ‘connecting people’? Well, I don’t know about the phone but with its colossal network of criss-cross metal rails and overhead electric lines, the local helps 7.5 million commuters to travel daily. It surely serves as a great connecting network!

3- The helpful crowd : As a commuter, all you have to do is purchase a ticket, the rest is handled by the crowd. When the local train arrives, you are automatically lifted and pushed into a compartment by the human escalators that line the platform.

4- Sharing is Caring : after all the “arey yaar, andar bhado, bahot jagah hai” you do manage to get a little space to stand, even though you continue to fight with those strangers for ‘thodi se jagah’ because you don’t have much choice.

5- “Ye Virar Fast hai.” Enough said! (Mumbaikars, you know this one)

6- The mild panic attack : we experience on hearing the words “Next stop Dadar”, and brace ourselves for the same.

7- Shopping and Entertainment : From all kinds of munchies to accessories, kitchen tools, cosmetics and clothing, everything is available. And to make up for the lack of music, there is Bhajan Keertan. Really!

8- Window seat : with a blissful nap over a shoulder, or standing at the doorway to enjoy the cool breeze, based on first come first served lol…Missing much?

9- A mix of people : When you travel by local train, you meet people from all walks of life. A nosy neighbour peering into your phone, a crying toddler with her mother, an uncle staring at you for no apparent reason, that one woman fighting for space with everyone, and finally, the ‘bhajiwaali aunties.’

10- Yaatrigan Kripya Dhyaan dijiye” (travellers, please pay attention) : There’s always hope for the next train to come soon if you’ve missed the first one!

All of this has taught me to be more patient in life and to cope with new experiences. Once you learn how to travel in the local train, you will soon become a member of that community because such is the vibe. You will realize that these train journeys teach you a lot because the people in them share a common goal: they want to arrive at their destination safely, and on time!

Hopefully, everything will return to normal soon, and then we will talk about how ‘the city that never stops’, stopped in its tracks (literally).

We are Best Friends!

I don’t remember exactly when, but we met at a young age and shortly developed a connection. As I started growing up, she never left my side. We soon became close, it became impossible to part my ways with her. Although she was an enemy most of the time, she was also a good companion, someone who was always there for me, irrespective of what. She was like a sister, my other half. She was like a shadow, always there, following me, advising me to concentrate on my work.

We fought plenty, by which I mean every time. But it wasn’t entirely her fault. It was mine too, thanks to all the emerging hormones I didn’t sign up for. She was irritating at times, then again she was just doing her work, cautioning me here and there, constantly looking out for me in times of need, and well that’s what a good friend does.

We were so intimate, it felt like she always spoke out my sub-conscious thoughts, as if she could peep right into my mind like an open window, and shut it whenever she wanted. It was one of those critical windows which only she could see and had the control to. Well again, who coined the term “best friends?”

She was always around, easily reachable and knew exactly what I was thinking. This infuriated me. Was I really easy to read or had it been long enough to our friendship, or I had nobody else but her to open up to? I didn’t want her to know everything every time. Hello privacyyyy?

It was upsetting. Some things are to be kept a secret, even from a best friend. I didn’t want her to be around so often, I didn’t want her seeing all my disordered thoughts and imaginations, giving me useless suggestions all the time, which I already knew. But that’s the thing. Once you’re attached to someone, the road to suffering begins. Attachment makes you mentally enslaved, and it inevitably destroys you in ways you never imagined.

But something about her kept our friendship going. She didn’t mock me like the others and never made fun of me. She embraced my flaws and imperfections. Told me it was normal to think like that and be vulnerable at times. She infact, helped me get through it. We all have a friend like that right!

Even though she was the more dominant one within the relationship, I didn’t comply with her all the time. Sometimes I argued and refused to give in to her terms. She’d fight with me, shout at me, mentally abuse me, and give me temporary headaches. On and off, she would hold me down, scream down my ears until I zoned out enough to hear nothing else but the sharp screams of her voice.

Sometimes when I acted stubborn, she’d rebuke me and stop talking to me altogether and pay no heed to my complaints. But it’d only ever last for some hours. Soon she’d be back to normal and she’d come to me. We’d sit hugging one another like two friends in a new place, and we would hold onto each other for a long time. That was her way of telling me that she’d forgiven me, and she’d make everything perfect. She would reassure me that all the worries inside my head were real but easily controllable. All I had to do was hear her and follow her commands.

Listening to music, taking a deep breath, and writing down my thoughts, were some things  that helped- things that she taught me as part of my growing up, things that I could use to handle the bad days. “No, don’t go there, it’s not safe”, “What if you fail?” she’d say. “Face it, you’re good for nothing”, “Don’t try this or people will laugh at you”, so on and so forth. I’d generally take her advice now and then. No questions asked.

The first time it happened, I felt embarrassed, like why does she need to make it so obvious? But there was logic to her words. Whenever I did what she told me to, it felt a burden had been lifted off my heart, like everything that was pushing down on me had wiped out. Surprisingly, even she would leave me and go once I complied with her norms.

We used the ‘this-is-how-you-cope-up-with-bad-days’ methods she taught me, quite a lot. Distancing myself from people and shutting myself to the world for some days so I could rejuvenate myself, was another of her suggestions. When the typical methods weren’t enough, this might come in handy. It was sort of a physical reminder that I had done something or something terrible had happened to me. So when I returned to the ‘normal me’, I could relax and I didn’t need to worry.

We had to make sure that we worked together. It was exasperating and everything simple became complex. I didn’t like her now, but I knew I needed her. If she left me, I’d lose a part of myself too. She was wise. I couldn’t deny her of that. She knew ways to encourage me. She knew how to make the pain go away and if it didn’t go away, on the bad days, it might just worsen and she knew this.

I still feel embarrassed. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, good or bad, normal or not. Sometimes when I’m working, I attempt to cover it up, pretending I’m fine, smiling, and acting like things are all right. I walk around as if nothing is happening, I’ve become quite the actor you know! I should definitely give it a try just in case I fail, and here we go again! You’ll know what I’m talking about once you reach the end, don’t worry!

It’s harder to pretend when people are around. I feel like they’re watching me. Judging me. Laughing at me. But if they heard what I did, if they saw the things that I did, if they felt the things I did, they’d do it too.

I’m not crazy. I understand that it’s not logical. I know that I have given my best during exams, I have been loyal to my boyfriend, I have selected the right career choice, I have turned off the AC in my room, or I’ve locked my house, but what if I haven’t? I know that I have brushed my teeth before eating food, but what if I haven’t? I know that by placing my lipstick in the exact same position after I used it, won’t mean that something bad won’t happen, but then, it’s not been proven otherwise.

I don’t know what part of ‘I know it already’ does she not understand. She is still there. Sometimes in front of me, sometimes behind the back of my mind. She looks out for me. She is my “best friend”, as she likes to call it. And for a few hours, sometimes minutes, seconds, she gives me peace. But she is the one who gives me hell too. She is my other self, a part of me that I can’t unfortunately cut off.

She is my anxiety.

Let your Dreams become Reality….

The First Step!

We are born into the world as humans. Our work here is not just to eat and sleep. We have been given a thought process so that we use it to our maximum potential to have name, fame, for the benefit of society, to uplift humanity to the next level, etc. We wish to do things in this world, but after doing all those things we find somehow it’s not enough.

People always tend to have “little more” than what they already have, it’s because they did not plan, and settled for whatever they achieved. This process of desiring is continuously going on. So all of us, consciously or unconsciously want to accomplish some dreams- dreams that we want to make a reality. This is one of the magnificent things we have been gifted with as individuals- the unquenchable desire to see dreams of a noble life. The only thing we need to do for this is to establish certain goals and incorporate the right strategies. 

Whenever we plan things, and they don’t happen how we want them to be, we are tempted to name it as “our destiny.” But that’s not true. If you want something to happen, you have to master your energy. You see, you cannot figure out every aspect of life around you, but if you have mastery over your mind, you can decide 50-60% of your fate. It’s because you have the power to mold your paths and not vice versa.

The kind of life some of you are leading right now is only enough for your survival, but not enough for you to master your dreams.

Sometimes, in the course of life, you meet people who tell you things like- “This was what God wanted”, “Marriages are made in heaven”, “His death was decided by God”, etc. You believe so many such things because that’s what people told you. Such thoughts may lead you to frustration, but we need to think about our unfulfilled potential. Many things that we thought were really out of our control or determined by God, today those things are in our hands. 

When we were small, we used to see different things and get excited. We always wanted to get our hands on those things when we become big. Similarly, our dreams and aspirations are like those things, as we grow up, they remain intact, and we work hard to achieve them. Seeing a dream, and by this, I mean a vision for the future, is very important, because dreams motivate, inspire, and improve you to chase your goals.

“Life is not something we find, it is something we create.”

Martin Luther King Jr

Do you ever sit down and imagine how you can turn your dreams into reality? 

Thoughts become things- Choose the good ones.

There are times in our life when something we want comes surprisingly to us. Like those times when we wanted a ‘Hot Wheels’ game, or we were eyeing that beautiful Barbie dress, and we got it- whether our family gave it to us or we got it as a birthday present from someone. It’s because we got pulled into a force, and obtained the things we wanted. This is called the ‘Law of Attraction.’

The Internet describes this as “it is our positive or negative thoughts that bring the good or the bad experiences into our life.” Our thoughts are like vibrations, so if we generate powerful thoughts and let them out, it will always manifest themselves. 

The subconscious mind of humans does not comprehend the difference between positive and negative thoughts. So if you have dreams of acquiring love, success, a good career, your mind will automatically work for it, but if you doubt your dreams, you will only find roadblocks in the path of constructing your dream life. Therefore, you should not worry about your subconscious fears, but your hopes and your dreams. 

Some people might question this theory though, saying that if they dream of becoming a millionaire, will they? Maybe yes, if they have a firm belief, and they work towards it with determination. There are many stories of ‘rags to riches’ in history. Dhirubhai Ambani came to Mumbai with Rs.20000 in the year 1960, and now his company is one of the biggest and richest in the world. 

People dream big and want to reach great heights, but they doubt their potential, thinking they are ordinary men and things are out of their reach. This uncertainty only gets stronger day by day and gradually, it turns into reality, and they do not achieve anything. Then some people have strong willpower and faith in themselves, who style their life the way they want it to look.

Wonders start to happen when you give substantial energy to your dreams.

The way you contemplate, focus, have firmness and persuasiveness, will define whether your dream will become certain or is it just a hollow thought.

Saying whether something is possible or not is not your business, it’s Natures’ business. So, all you are doing is using the past experiences of life as a basis for deciding whether something is possible or not. In simpler words, you have come to the conclusion that what has not happened till now cannot happen in your life in the future. So, do not create impediments for your thoughts.

Your work is just to see what it is that you want and strive for that, and if your thought is powerful, without negative beliefs bringing down the intensity of the thought process, it will work out for you. 

Building a dreamlife

All of us have cognitive ability in us that can help us draft plans and develop tactics to achieve our goals. We need self-motivation to do so, we need to construct that kind of enthusiasm, a drive, a burning desire within us, to encourage ourselves and bring those skills forward.

Over here are some things that you can follow if you want to work towards that dream life you’ve imagined-

1- Make a Vision board

· Start by taking a big sized canvas/paper, big enough to fit all your dreams in life, like – getting a job, traveling to countries, having a relationship, maintaining your friend circle, developing good relations with family, making your own house, earning big, and so on so forth.

· You can cut out pictures of these things from magazines, or print images, buy posters, use any quote that you like which motivates you, pictures of dream destinations, etc. that you can paste on this canvas/paper.

· Furthermore, you can divide the canvas/paper into different sections, for instance- lifestyle, family, interests, health, or anything that you want. This will work like a compass in life, which will help you steer yourself in the right direction so that you don’t veer off your path. Whatever you have in your head, the board helps you to put everything in a physical realm.

2- Develop self-confidence: People tend to lose confidence when they aren’t clear with what they want. For example- if you are told to walk in a well-lit area, you don’t need any confidence, but at the same time, if you are told to walk in dark, you will not have the same confidence, unless you believe in your capability and have a determination to accept the challenges. Hence, develop self-confidence. If you do not attempt to bring this self-assurance in your life and try to live it on a puffed-up sense of confidence, somebody is always going to prick it and bring it down, or life situations might do it. 

3- Work on the right problems: People miss chances, waste resources, and end up chasing trivial opportunities that aren’t associated with their goals. This is when people get stuck in life and they don’t know what to do, how to move forward. They don’t have the right tools to get out of the mess they have created. Therefore, try to list down the challenges, and tackle the ones that have a greater impact, rather than working on the insignificant ones, which are not of too much importance. 

4- Focus on one goal at a time: You will have n-number of goals in life, you can’t achieve all of them together and attack them at the same time. If you try to do this it will just take longer for you to reach the top. It might also feel like you won’t pick the momentum, and you will condemn yourself saying things like “God, I am getting nowhere in life!”, “Everything is moving so slow”, and so on.

5- Prioritize your dreams: Decide which ones you want to achieve first, which are more important and feasible. There’s the number 1 dream that you have, that overlooks all your other dreams. Then there’s a number 2. So go on and number them and try achieving in that order. It might not necessarily work because different opportunities come at different times, but at least you will have a plan of how you want to go about things. It’s not just about dreaming, but also about moving towards action.

6- Don’t let the negativity pave its way inside: Try to attract positive energies, self-motivate yourself. Every time you have a negative thought, try to stop and read something good. Google good quotes that will give you self-assurance, listen to music, play sports, read good books, good blogs, talk to your loved ones, and share your feelings with them. It helps to clean out those self-deprecating thoughts that you have about yourself. Make sure you set strong borders to preserve your sanity.

7- Remind yourself constantly: Wake up each day and teach your brain to manifest your dreams. Build that conviction in yourself that no matter what you won’t give up on your dreams and you will fight for them. Without struggle, there is no progress. Tell yourself every day that you can achieve your dreams. If you are brave enough to dream, you are brave enough to make it a reality. 

8- Accept the failure: Our life is unpredictable. Even if we plan the next moment, it might not work out that way. We are bound to meet unexpected circumstances. There are always some high points in life, and then there are low points as well. If you are at a low point in life, embrace that. It is okay to feel vulnerable, but don’t stop. Be loyal to your dreams. Don’t settle down with whatever you have achieved, you have a long way to go. Use these points to learn your lessons and turn them into opportunities.

Sail away from safe harbour, catch the trade wind in your sails.

9- Don’t change your direction: If the energy of your mind, emotions, and physical body, are organized in one direction and you keep it unwavering in that direction for a certain period, anything you wish can happen. Right now the biggest problem with our mind is that it’s changing its direction every time. If you want to go somewhere, and you keep changing your direction every two seconds, the question of you reaching the destination is very remote, unless it happens by chance. 

There’s only one life that we have- this! This life is too wonderful for us to not fulfill our dreams. Someday when we are near death, we will want to look back at our life. We can either find joy in that, or we can regret not trying to complete our dreams. But if you do achieve whatever you envisioned your dream life to be, you will find happiness and develop a sense of peace throughout your life. You will not leave the world with any remorse.