The Other You

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Has there ever been a time in your life when you feel “If only I could be that person” or have you ever wanted something but was just not sure of what others might think of you?
Have you ever felt like changing your image that people have of you?

I know I have been in these situations many times.

The good news is you can!

In all of us there is a little voice that is very contradictory by nature. It may be the mischievous one, the playful one, the sexy one (ahem!), or the more serious, practical and logical one.

It’s just that we do not pay much attention to it.

We believe the persona that is externally visible is the one we need to nurture.

Well, you may be a little bit off target here. You see that inner voice is actually the real one.

Welcome to the ‘Other You’

I can vouch for this fact because I am living proof. I have two very strong personas buried deep within me. And, I have also seen the folly of giving too much attention to only one.

I may be lucky in that I have two first names. And both are extremely contrasting in meaning as well. While using one I automatically become a more matured, serious, responsible individual who is willing to put others happiness before her own. But when I switch to the other persona, magically my thoughts and behaviour transform into a self confident, no nonsense, frank and independent girl-woman. Yes, this is the one that gets me into a lot of trouble😉

Surprisingly, I love the latter me, which I have only recently discovered and understood.

You see, we change ourselves so much to please others or to get certain privileges that we lose out on what really means a lot to us. We sacrifice ourselves and because it is a done thing we don’t really think much about it. Till we come face to face with a situation that tests our inner self. That’s when we crumble, we are torn, not willing to give in.

During my growing years everytime my ‘latter me’ tried to make its presence felt it was subdued by strict parenting. So, to me that was rebellious. I was not allowed to give it a voice.

Luckily for me I got the opportunity quite late in my life. And, it has opened a Pandora’s Box of immense opportunity for me. It has allowed me to add meaning to my life.

I need both my personas to keep me grounded and balanced, because that is who I really am.

No, I do not have a medical problem!😉

It just that I believe we should be true to who we really are. Do not misrepresent yourself. You have a lot of potential and sometimes it is that inner voice that gives you the inspiration and motivation to take that extra step.

It is the one who believes in you.

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I can … can’t I?

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How many of you have been in a situation where you really feel you can do something, but don’t because you have been told you can’t?

For most of our early lives, we believe what we are told we can or can’t do. Not out of capability or ability but as a societal or gender norm.

We start believing that to be true and all our adult life is spent trying to prove those naysayers either true or false. We either become passive bystanders allowing life to pass us by or we rebel and become social outcasts.

I have been fortunate to have two great teachers in my life.
My children and my dogs!

Shocked! Surprised!

It’s true. There’s no greater example of this testimony than watching children and dogs.

My first lesson was way back when my firstborn started preschool or Montessori. The first day was more stressful for me than him. I had heard stories about little ones crying nonstop, being fearful and giving all a hard time. Looking back I now find I never noticed any of those signs on my son’s face. He was excited to be going to school with his new tiffin box filled with his favorite treats and his little bag with his favorite cartoon character on it.

And as any new paranoid mother (actually I was the only one), I spent his first day at school sitting outside his class just in case he needed me! (Seems I can be quite persuasive with authority at times😉)

He did not!

As I peeped in through the glass doors, I saw him and a few other children happily exchanging stories and readily accepting their new leader, their teacher!

What struck me was that most of them came from regional language backgrounds with maybe a splattering of English under their little belts, but that did not stop them from communicating with each other. There was no hesitancy in trying whatever means they could to get their message across.

A big eye opener indeed! Children have never ceased to amaze me and I am always eager to engage with children because their minds are so fertile and pure. Makes you want to be that way as well.

However, as adults we can’t!

And why? Because you would be termed immature, you would not be taken seriously and in severe cases … considered mental.

With dogs especially I have learned that if you care about something or someone it’s OK to make a fool of yourself over that. Dogs will do the silliest of things if it means getting a pat or a treat or just a ‘good doggie ‘ from its owner. And they have no limits.

We can’t.

Once we reach a certain age an invisible code of conduct is automatically put in place and fears we never knew about are thrust upon us. Ability is gauged by who you are and what gender you represent. Opportunities are given only to the privileged and deserving few based on many social factors.

If we recollect, most of our fears are imaginary. We base our reactions on word of mouth or maybe beliefs that have been passed down.

I too have a few unfounded fears that I am trying to get off my bucket list because I believe I have the power to change my perceptions.

Some things cannot be explained and so as we go through life, I for one have started asking myself why am I afraid. If others can and have done something what is stopping me?

I can… can’t I?

Santa’s Christmas Miracle!

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This year the Christmas spirit was very dull for me and I saw no reason to go the extra mile!
So, that cold misty morning, a few days before Christmas, when the sun had not yet fully woken as well, and my Spottie boy came a knocking at my door, I was in no mood to get out of my warm bed and take him for his walk. But, he is not one to take ‘no’ for an answer and so off we went.
His usual places, and one in particular seemed more interesting than usual. In the darkness I felt him tugging his way towards a small grassy patch. I saw frenetic movement and with Spottie getting very excited, the first rays of the sun fell on a weak, small little bundle, looking up at me with the most pitiful eyes. “Please leave me to die in peace” they implored.
I had found the last piece of my family jigsaw!
I quickly returned home, picked up some chicken stock and threw in some dry pedigree, an old towel of spotties’ and a bottle of water and raced back to her. She was frightened and though she wanted to eat, I could see she was having a very difficult time, her mouth seemed stuck shut. I tentively went to pick her up and on shaking legs, her fright powering her escape, she started running onto the open road. A few cars had by now started on their daily trips and in desperation I ran after the little dog, as she fell, wobbled and made her way away from me. I have never been more thankful to the stray dogs, who, though feral by nature, cornered this new comer and thus made it easier for me to get hold of her. It had taken me the full length of a busy road to finally catch her!
She was still fighting but I covered her completely and kept speaking in soothing tones to her, till she finally collapsed, totally exhausted against my neck. She was home!
Well, she had been severely neglected, dehydrated and was in the throes of the effects of distemper. A bag of bones, no energy to walk but the most beautiful eyes that somehow still had hope.  Dogs abandoned by heartless breeders.
With immense support and wonderful treatment from my friendly vet, Dr. Priya, we have managed to give her another chance at a family life.
I present NONI – the newest link in our family!
She still has a very, very long way to go, but she now has a reason to do so and I am not giving up.
She is my little gift from God, a Christmas miracle!

Age to Order

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What does one do when your age defines who you should be?  What you should do?  How you should be?

I am at that stage in my life, where, though I may be considered middle aged, I have not aged mentally (in the right sense of course!).  I have a lot of life in me, just don’t know how and where to channel it or make it work for me.

I thought I had it all at one point in my life.  Unfortunately, I was living in a fool’s paradise.

The reality hits hard when one is single.  How much can you allow your work, family and routine to be responsible for filling your life?

Yes, some of us may have had our chances at a relationship, but circumstances change.  The dreams, the aspirations and the person we wanted, sometimes are not the same.  No amount of adjusting, compromising or even sacrificing can bring that satisfaction.  What do you do then?

I find myself, a single mother at 52, longing for the comfort of a companion.  I long for the romantic wooing of a lover.  I wish to be pampered as all young lovers do when exploring each other at the beginning.  I wish to call someone mine…

But here comes the reality check!

I am at that age where I will not be blinded by fakeness or synthetic emotions.  I need stimulating conversation.  I need to be given my space and respect.  I need someone strong enough to accept his own and my weaknesses. I don’t need excuses.

Tall order?  I guess it is.

Guys, this is not an advertisement for a soul mate or partner.  I just wonder if I am alone in this.  Is there something I am doing or not doing, that is keeping me away from taking my happiness in my hands?  Because, yes, at the end of the day, I am still searching for that elusive entity that will complete my order in life!

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Listening to the rain…

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As the world winds up for the day, I too, in my little corner of the world, embrace the darkness that is thrust upon me. No, nothing very dramatic, as my kids would definitely expect, but …Power cut!

Though temporary, it does induce a break from the monotony of the day. A very productive one for me personally.

As I sit by the window, overlooking the balcony, I find myself continuously drawn to the pouring rain outside. It has been incessantly raining with varying degrees of severity throughout the day. The weatherman did give us the heads up, but all said and done, is one really ever prepared?

The Dreamer in me takes over!

There is a rhythmic pattern to the rain falling – its drumbeat effect on the tin awnings, the crescendo that builds as the rain lashes with all its fury, finally falling to the gentle but steady pitter patter – a reminder that it is a force to be reckoned with and not taken lightly!

It makes me realize also that nature has its own way of proving a point. In its own motherly fashion, when gentle reminders do not work, it brings out the cane. Unfortunately, we as a race, are very lethargic in our affection for Mother Nature. Maybe, this time we sit up and take notice.

After all, as Julia Roberts very eloquently quoted Mother Nature “I don’t really need people; People need me. I have been here for eons. I have fed species greater than you and I have starved species greater than you. I am prepared to evolve!”

I am listening to the rain… Are you?

Life

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How’s life? This is a common greeting all of us have received some time or other.

“Life sucks!!!” I have no job, no girlfriend, and no friends, bored to death……!”

What answers do people really expect? How do you react to such replies?

But, no, people lie and say “Life’s good, never been better”

What is life? Is it just an existence where one follows the same routine day in and day out? Does it rely on our destiny and fate? Is it determined by the stars and moon? Who decides how we are to live our lives? Who makes the rules and regulations that we know as “Societal Norms?” What or who is “Society”? And above all who has been given the power to judge how one lives his/her life?

To me life is like a Kite! A beautiful and simple piece of engineering that gives as much pleasure to the person watching it soar as to the person actually maneuvering its moves. Life is simple – there should be no complications – Live and let live – Happiness should be the goal of all of our lives.

As the kite we should start from the ground and gradually soar to great heights, be it in our career or personal lives. We should maneuver our paths in symphony with the wind, allowing its force to guide us to success rather than drag us along in its fury. There may come along certain elements to act as stumbling blocks and to make us falter – but we should be able to hold strong and trust the hand holding the line.

I believe we are all placed here on this earth as part of a great plan. We each have a mission to accomplish. Most of us don’t know what that is. But each one of us makes a difference or leaves an impact in some inconspicuous way. I believe we each have our own destiny and that no matter how hard we try to divert from unpleasant things we need to go through that phase, to learn from the experience.

I believe one should live life to the fullest. Enjoy every moment and have no regrets. Do everything ones heart desires – within reason of course. Trust me, its not easy!! There are massive boulders to block your path each and every step of the way. But if you are true to yourself and believe in what you do, life can be a very enriching experience!

I know!!! I’ve lived my life on my terms, My Way and that’s the only way I’ll have it!!

Perception

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This is a word that is practiced more than it is understood.  We, as humans, have an uncanny knack of forming opinions based on our own perceptions, and then allowing those to dominate our lives.  Animals on the other hand, live in a free world, where no perceptions or expectations are necessary.

This is not a study on the meaning of the word, I would just like to share my thoughts about how this affects our daily lives.  

From an early age, most of us are taught that feelings are natural and should not be suppressed.  However, should those feelings be expressed during school or college days, we are considered ‘bad company’.  “A decent child would never say something like that” or “if she was brought up right, she would never have done that”.  The crime in question here, a school child expressing their thoughts about another child’s appearance or behavior, or maybe a college girl who was seen partying into the wee hours of the morning.  

How do our minds come to such conclusions based on our senses? 

Its easy.  Rules were laid down a long long time ago, to control and bracketise people into societal norms.  In a way, it is a good thing.  For those of us who learn and grow.  But for those who are too lazy to make the change and are complacent in their little cocoons, it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of others.  

A newly appointed manager, risen through the ranks, having experienced the many idiosyncrasies of previous managers, is disappointed yet again.  Why people he considered to be “good” managers are just ordinary people after all! They expect you to be available whenever a meeting is scheduled, and on time as well, but turn up late or not at all.  After all, that is the privilege of a manager! Or is it?

How true then, does our perception prove?  Who is to say that what we perceive to be true or right, is actually so? If we are proved wrong, what value is given to the senses of intuition? What senses do we rely on to guide us through the bylanes of conscious living, striving to be the best, breaking down barriers that confine and stunt us? Or do we look through the eyes of the un-informed, biased, narrow-minded folks for whom perception is just another word in the dictionary.

Cleaning out my closet

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49! Wow! Unbelievable! Wonderful!

These are some of the exclamatory words that I got to hear today, my birthday, as  I celebrated 49 glorious years alive.  As I stand on the threashold of 50, a year that signifies a lot to me, I take this opportunity to go down memory lane and take that step with a clean heart, conscious and slate (if I may).

I was never really blessed with too many friends.  I am not an easy person to understand.  I am tolerant of others preferences, likes, attitudes, mannerisms,  but reserve the right to make them my own.  I am a good friend to those who accept me as I am.

Having said this, I would like to thank all those people who took the time to try and get to know me, share parts of my life,  include me in theirs.  I treasure that.

My family! I was always theblack sheep. Never following the normal routes, rather carving my own path through the strict disapproval and upbringing I had.

My marriage! It was beautiful.  It opened up the world to me.  Taught me to deal with anything life throws at you.

My sons! They are the best things that have happened in my life.  They brought out emotions and feelings I never knew I had or even existed.  They taught me LOVE in its purest form and ofcourse, anger, sadness, fear, anxiety , as part of the package.

My life! Has been a roller coaster ride till now.  I have experienced tremendous joys, adventure, pain, heartache, disillusion.  I have made mistakes – which I am not proud of, but it was part of growing and moving on.  My climb has been an uphill struggle, egged on only by my profound faith in God and belief in myself.  I am proud of my achievements today.  I am proud of where I stand today.

There is no guarantee of tomorrow.  We never know what may happen.  But as I start my second innings of this beautiful life, I look forward to the continued love and support of my sons, Suheil and Murtuza, the dogged perserverence and support of my brother, best friend and adopted son, Anthony, and the friendship of all those who consider me their friend.

I have no regrets for the past but I look forward to a future that will showcase my zest for life and the love and respect I feel for those in it.

Empty Nests

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 It was a proud moment for me today as I witnessed the first flight of a couple of fledgling pigeons. 

A few months ago, a pair of pigeons had chosen the space behind my washing machine, which has its place in a corner of the balcony, to build their home.  Gradually, I learnt the wonder of survival through these little beings.  

I do not like pigeons.  That is a fact.  They are dirty and consider all open space a private toilet.  Sometimes I wonder how they know when to make a mess right after I have spent a good deal of time and energy, washing and cleaning my balcony.  They do not spare my window sills either.  

So, for them to take on the task of homing on my balcony was indeed a brave one!  I would ‘shush’ and ‘shoo’ at even the slightest indication that they could be there.  

Then one day I saw two eggs.  My mother’s heart gave way to tolerance.  Now this was huge for me, because, I knew I was in for the smelliest, dirtiest, few months of my life.  True enough, the back of my washing machine became a pigeons nest, cozily made up of twigs and branches and poop beyond belief. 

I don’t know if the pigeons could sense my feelings, but they were strangely tolerant to me.  The others in my family were not so lucky.  They would come at them every time they went near the washing machine. Maybe it had a lot to do with my doggie, Spottie, who tried his best to  investigate what was behind the machine. 

Well days and months went by.  The mama pigeon would religiously sit on the eggs, through the heat and blazing sun, something I tried to remedy by making sure the cover of the machine made a kind of shelter for the little birds. 

And then, one morning, I saw these small little beings, completely bald but pink and with slight traces of something that looked like fur, lying cuddled together in a corner.  The miracle of birth! 

Over the next few weeks they were cared for by their parents in a way which was surprising as it made me realize the basic similarities most living things have.  

And today, I witnessed the first time these little pigeons took flight under the watchful eyes of both parents.  It was a moment of wonder and amazement.  One of the pigeons was not as brave as the other and needed a bit more time to actually make the move.  But, in their unspoken way, the parents allowed the little bird to flutter for a while within the confines of the balcony and then on its own it flew away. 

I felt a bit sad, quite like the feeling I got when my kids did not need me as much as they did before.  It was difficult to finally have free time but nothing to do.  I had lost touch with all my hobbies and interests while bringing up the kids and keeping house.  It could have been the factor that prompted me to adopt a puppy, something I had been against for a long time.  And now, that space behind my washing machine, will remind me of the little lives that started there and flew away in search of their futures.  

And while I need to get that place back to its original state,  the empty nest lies waiting for its next occupants.   The circle of life goes on.  Even though those little hands have left mine, I need to be happy as I now have finally got my hand back!