Of helplessness

Dear Diary,

The world around is burning. I feel like this is World War III. Just that it’s not warring countries but humanity against covid. And there is a dreadful feeling that this might never end.

It’s been a complete year since covid became a reality. Now, the normal that we knew a year ago, doesn’t sound like normal anymore, but perhaps a distant good memory that we wish was real again. Just like we look back at old happy times, we look back at our lives that we lived till 2019.

My life, per se, was not very perfect in 2019. But it was indeed very different from what it is today. Today, thankfully, I am no longer covid infected. I’ve recovered. I’ve not yet lost any family member. There are many whom I knew, who have been lost.

This constant dread, the continuous pouring-in of information from various facets of life (relatives, friends, well-wishers, whatsapp groups) of the world that’s a reality for many – it’s very disheartening. Finding hope has become hard. What can I do to improve this, I don’t know.

I want to get out there and start doing something to help this situation. Sitting in front of computer, working on products and deadlines, seems so vague and fancy right now. It seems like the world is slowly ending and you’re still stuck in front of your computer, writing code, making money that is going to be of no use.

My reality is shifting. Something inside me is shifting. Something inside me says this reality that I have lived for so long is no longer the truth. It’s a dream we want to keep sleeping and living in. The reality of life now is apocalyptic.

And the mind races on what my action plan should be if this is ‘that’ time already. Yes, I know, sounds insane. Yes, I know I have a habit of jumping to worst conclusions. This will pass.

I want to believe that. But my way of survival has always been – to be prepared for the worst. So, my mind jumps to the worst conclusion, finds the exit strategy or survival strategy, and continues to live happily today in oblivion. Knowing that I’m ready if this gets bad/out-of-control.

The problem is, I can’t find the exit strategy this time. I don’t know what my action plan should be to save myself and my family. Currently, most of my family members are fighting corona. They are infected but not with extreme symptoms. So, we are just waiting for home isolation and remedies to pass this phase/virus quietly. But, patience is not my best virtue. Keeping patience is hard. Not doing anything and waiting it out is hard. Seeing your parents infected, or your kids infected, is HARD!

And I want to help the endless people out there who are struggling. Who have it bad.

Dear Diary

Hello there! Life is hectic as a maniac on the lose. But am good.

We finally moved back into our house after 2 months of renovation. We still haven’t settled completely. The house still looks like everything’s upside down and I’ve already been cleaning, organizing, sorting since last 3 days. Every inch of my body is aching. But I’m good.

The startup is nothing like I’ve experienced before. The work culture is good and people are nice and collaborative. But the work amount is humungous. No matter how many hours, how many weekends I put in, I’m still not catching up. The key would be to take it slow. But with 15-days release cycle, my mind is unable to accept anything as ‘slow’.

To top it, my cook got barred from entering society because a home she had been serving at, got diagnosed with a positive corona case (!!!) It was an anxious night waiting for her reports to come clean. Now, thankfully, she tested negative but I’ve been slogging in the kitchen with cooking and utensils as well, since last two days (yes, overlapping the days we shifted and settling in)!

So, in a nutshell, अभी तो लगी पड़ी है!

The silver lining in all this crazy is my son has a good first day at his new school. He had been paranoid and emotional about leaving his first school since days. I’m relieved. The decision of putting him in the same section as his old friend, paid off. Master stroke! I must pat my back for that.

Despite all the madness that’s my schedule these days, I’m good because there’s no stress from external sides. I do feel stressed by my own mind. Anxious whether I’ll be able to deliver or not. But that’s just me🙄 and it’ll subside. These are just random moments where I fret about the future and worry but these come and go. Thankfully, I have no time to dwell on them. And that is the best part 😌

The house has turned out beautiful. Of course, there’s quite a bit more that needs to go in but husband needs a break. He’s been running around getting everything done and he’s tired. He’s never been comfortable with family and labor in the same house. So, he’s been edgy since last 3 days. So, I will give it/him a break before I talk about the wallpaper and the lamps 😆 You evil woman! Hahaha!

Love:Hope

Oh Womaniya!

Dear Diary,

These days, I’m learning how we belittle ourself on a daily basis. Whether that is a trained behaviour which the world has ingrained into us, over the years, or, it’s just me and my continuous overthinking, I’m not sure.

Recently, I was talking to a friend who trains women on these unconscious biases. This was part of the International Women’s Day initiative which Google does every year. She received training a few years ago and has been imparting these trainings to fellow women ever since.

As per her, this ‘belittling’ is NOT an Indian thing. It’s NOT only my problem. And it indeed is part of a world-wide culture. She has found women all across the world facing the same issue and even justifying it.

What is this belittling exactly? Basically, we try to shy away from talking about our achievements or about our capabilities in front of others. This could be simple basic examples of not mentioning you can paint too, despite being a STEM woman. Or, it can show up as a difficulty in putting your name in the ballot for the top job!

Since we don’t speak or give ourself enough credit, we don’t often ‘believe’ that we can actually do it.

It might sound like playing your own harp. Or, it’s inappropriate to boast about yourself. But you are actually just stating facts.

Why is that important? When you repeat yourself out in open, when you talk about a skill/trait in open, your mind starts accepting it as a fact. It starts to believe. And of course, you’re kind of voicing out your resume. So, you start attracting any possible opportunities that might come with that skill.

We have all heard about that adage that if you keep repeating ‘I can’t do it. I can’t do it.’ then you won’t ever be able to do it. This is you applying the same adage in reverse by saying ‘I can do this’. And chances are you will be able to.

This does not mean I cook up stories or start talking about skills that I ‘wish’ to have. This is just me talking about facts. This is about talking about achievements that I already have in my kitty.

For years, I would not tell people that I can write and read well in both English and Hindi. I would just not put it out there. I felt like I would become an outcast if I spoke too many difficult words in English because people around me won’t know them. They might feel uncomfortable in my company. I wanted them to be friends with me. I wanted them to be comfortable around me
That was my justification. But then I started losing out on my skills because I was not using them. My english started deteriorating slowly. As unbelievable as that might sound, I did notice the change!

So now, I celebrate myself. In front of people. No withholding back.

I am awesome. Let the world deal with it.

Love: Hope

September’2020 – the struggle was real

Dear Diary,

सब अच्छा चल रहा है यूं तो पर मन उदास है। मेरी सोचने की बीमारी मुझे एक दिन खत्म कर देगी। मैं कितना भी चाहूँ, दिमाग वहीं पहुँच जाता है। लॉकडाउन में मैंने कई नई चीजें कीं – embroidery, painting, reading, cooking for anay

इस लॉकडाउन में मैंने सोचा कि मैं अपना best version बनूँगी । वो व्यक्ति जिसको मैं प्यार करूँ। वो व्यक्ति जिसे देख कर मुझे इन्स्परैशन मिले, जिसे मैं पसंद करूँ। और ये सब चीजें करके मुझे अच्छा भी लगा। कुछ अपने काम के बारे में और पढ़ा । मानो, अपने बारे में अपनी गलत फहमियाँ दूर कर रही हूँ। जिन चीजों से डर लगता था उन्हें एक एक करके खत्म कर रही हूँ। बहुत अच्छा लगता है ये देख के।

ऑफिस से परेशान हूँ। निकलना चाहती हूँ। कारण कुछ नहीं पर फिर भी बहुत हैं। पर निकलने का कोई साधन नहीं दिखाई दे रहा। एक दो जगह बात की मगर कुछ हासिल नहीं हुआ। उन लोगों से बात किए बिना भी मुझे बहुत बेइज्जत महसूस हुआ। जो लोग मुझसे मीठा बोलते थे, मेरे सगे बनते थे, अक्सर वही समय आने पर अनजाने हो गए। ये देख कर लगता है कि मैं कितनी बेवकूफ हूँ। पर जब अपने आप को उनकी जगह रखती हूँ, जब उस लड़की को देखती हूँ जिसे वो जानते थे, तो सोचती हूँ की कोई क्यूँ ही करेगा जो मैं माँग रही हूँ। सिर्फ एक व्यक्ति ने साथ दिया, या कोशिश की, और वो मुझसे कभी मिले नहीं।

And this thought says a lot about me. About people’s experience with me. About what I’ve been. Where I’m headed. I tell myself that I’m 100 times better than what I used to be. But then, you’re always improving. And, you are what you are today. No one wants to bother about knowing your life history, or your promising future. They invest in your past accolades and the credentials you have today.

I might have missed that train already. And that makes me want to give up. Should I give up?

I’m trying continuously. I’m trying hard. But it’s never enough. It’s not enough for anyone. So, I feel like giving up. I’m losing faith. I’m losing hope.

Papa says I should move into a less-stressful job than completely quitting. It’s not wrong to do that. Set your ego aside. Tarun says so too. It makes sense too. But I don’t know why, I don’t see where that leads me. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that. It’s like giving up a fight which I might win. Perhaps, it’s another of my episodes where I just feel low and depressed but eventually get out of. What if my decisions made in this time are wrong. They’ll have changed my life forever. The path I curated.

I know I shouldn’t hold on to a post, or a position or a career or anything in life that makes me believe this is final. That’s not what life is. It’s unpredictable. And it’s so much more if you let go.

But the inhibitions. The fear. They increase with time. They increase with age.

What do I have if not my self-worth. Self-respect. The world never gave me any. I must give it to myself. And I find it hard to find it for myself.

Another post from April’20..another plea

प्रिय डायरी ,

दुनिया को समझते समझते, खुद को समझते समझाते ज़िंदगी गुजर गई। अब अगर यूं चाहें की किसी को नहीं समझाना, कुछ नहीं समझना कुछ नहीं सीखना कुछ नहीं सिद्ध करना किसी को, तो एक प्रश्न चिन्ह लग जाता है – की फिर करें क्या?

इस lockdown ने एक आईना सा दिखाया है स्वयं को, की तुम क्या हो, क्या सोचते हो, कितने पानी में हो, क्या सोचते हो की तुम हो पर असलियत में क्या हो।

मैंने कई बार सोचा की समय होगा तो घर संवारूँगी , पति का ध्यान करूंगी, बच्चे की पढ़ाई पर और समय लगाऊँगी। पर अब जब हर समय घर पर हूँ तब भी मन वहीं भागता है, मोह माया की और। रोने को जी चाहता है। ऐसा लगता है किस चक्रव्यूह में फँस गई हूँ। कैसे निकलूँ, कैसे तोड़ूँ इसे, समझ नहीं आता। कब तक इस माया जाल से झूझती रहूँगी, यूं ही?

जीवन को सरलता से जीना चाहती हूँ। अपने present , अपनी reality में। अब मन के आडंबरों में नहीं जाना चाहती। बस बहुत हुआ। प्रभु, इस बार पार करा दो, फिर नहीं पड़ूँगी इन चक्करों में। इनकी तरफ नजर भी नहीं करूंगी। तुमने फसाया है, तुम ही निकालो इस भंवर से।

रोने का मन कर रहा है। office के काम में मन नहीं लगता अब। लोगों में भी मन नहीं लगता अब। शायद क्यूंकी किसी को मेरी जरूरत नहीं। काम-काजी जरूरत तो बहुत लोगों को है, पर उस जरूरत से दिल का खालीपन नहीं जाता।

क्यूँ मन जो है उसमें खुश नहीं रह सकता? क्यूँ बाहर खुशी ढूँढता है? क्यूँ अपनों का प्यार काफी नहीं होता इसके लिए? क्यूँ अपनों का कहना की तुम मेरे लिए जरूरी हो, ये काफी नहीं?

थक गई हूँ, प्रभु। इस कश -मो -कश से। अब नैया पार लगाओ भगवन । अब और नहीं होता। अब और नहीं होता। अब और नहीं होता। अब और नहीं होता। अब और नहीं होता। अब और नहीं होता। अब और नहीं लड़ा जाता। अब और इंतज़ार नहीं होता। अब और नहीं लड़ा जाता। खुद से।

A post from Apr’2020..

मेरी प्रिय डायरी ,

कभी कभी सोचती हूँ, तुम ही जीवंत होती तो जीवन कितना सरल होता। तुम मेरे बारे में सबसे ज्यादा जानती हो। कम से कम मेरे दुख भरे दिनों को तो बहुत अछे से जानती हो। काश मैंने उतनी बार तुम्हें अपने खुशी के दिन भी सुनाए होते। तो तुम मुझे और बेहतर समझ पाती। पर मेरी 2009 से 2020 तक के उतार चढ़ाव, सब तुम में कैद हैं। कैद शायद सही शब्द नहीं, पर तुम में मैंने छुपा के रखे हैं।

तुम मेरा pandora बॉक्स हो। 🙂

आज सुबह पतिदेव से ऐसे ही कुछ झड़प हो गई। कोई नई बात तो नहीं है पर आज थोड़ी ज्यादा लग गई मुझे। सुबह की चाय से पहले कोई मुझे कुछ feedback दे दे तो शायद मुझसे लिया नहीं जाता। और जिन दिनों मैं kdrama देख रही होती हूँ, उन दिनों मेरी इनसे उम्मीदें कुछ ज्यादा ही बढ़ जाती है। You know what I mean, right? 😉

ये कहते हैं तुम kdrama मत देखा करो। वो तुम्हारी expectations ऐसी कर देता है जो असल जीवन में हो नहीं सकती। यूं भी तुम्हारे जीवन में कुछ कम नहीं है लेकिन उसको देखने के बाद तुम्हें सब कम लगने लगता है।

हाँ। सही कह रहे हैं बिल्कुल। पर ..

क्या प्यार भी दिमाग से करूँ ? क्या दिल वाली चीज भी दिमाग से तोल कर करूँ? हाँ, सब समझती हूँ , सारी हकीकत जानती हूँ दुनिया की पर क्या कहीं भी सपनों की जगह नहीं है इस में?

हाँ हाँ, प्यार की भी शुरुआत दिमाग से होती है। ये मुझसे बेहतर कौन जानेगा? यही तो गम है दुनिया में, की कभी दिल से प्यार भी नहीं हुआ। जो हुआ, हमेशा दिमाग का खेल निकला । लेकिन हठ है की एक बार और try करके देखूं। हठ है कि किताबी प्यार असल ज़िन्दगी में महसूस कर के देखूं।

I know am a dreamer, and a stubborn one at that

Love: Hope

Saying Goodbye

Dear Diary,

It’s never been this hard before. I’ve changed schools, houses, colleges, jobs. There have been multiple times when I’ve said goodbye to people, places, things.

I’ve never been bothered about leaving them because, for one, I believe that if a person is important to you, you stay in touch either way. For places, there was always something better coming so I look forward to the future than lament about the past.

And this philosophy has served me well so far.

I didn’t expect it to be different this time.

But, it is.

This time, there’s a team that I had built that I’m leaving behind. People leaving me, moving on, I got used to it. But me leaving them, this is first. And I’m feeling very uneasy and sad about letting them go.

Of course, I know I can keep in touch but I’ll no longer be working with them. I’ll no longer be their mentor. Most of these people, I’ve been their first Manager in corporate and they’ve given me so much respect and love, it’s unimaginable, to me.

I feel like a mother, despite my trying never to attach to them like a mother. But right now that’s exactly how I feel. Like I’m leaving them behind. I wish I could take them along but I know better.

I know you cannot live anyone’s life or hand them life on a platter but a Mother will always want to protect, take care of her underlings. And that’s how I feel. Some of them are so innocent and childlike, my heart goes out thinking of their innocent faces.

I hope you all do well. I’m sure you all will.

Love: Hope

Book Review: Eat Pray Love

Dear Diary,

I finished reading ‘Eat, Love, Pray’ by Elizabeth Gilbert.

In these times of Netflix, Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, and gazillion more, fighting for your attention, it becomes extremely hard for a book to hold you. And if a book does, you should be convinced you’re in the hands of a very capable writer and a storyteller.

That is exactly what Elizabeth Gilbert was able to accomplish. Hats Off, Woman!

Someone asked me to do a book review once I finished reading so here I am. Not sure if this following will turn out to be a book review or more of a personal journey through the book. But it is what it is.

The book came to me at a time when I was personally struggling to find a pivot in life. Sometimes your life is perfect to the outside world but it couldn’t be lonelier or more sad from the inside. There were some hard battles I had waged and the soul was tired from being strong for so long.

So, reading her own personal journey about her marriage tribulations – which, simply put, is ‘This might look great to you but this is not what I want!!’ I could relate. The emptiness, the hollowness despite the materialistic standards, despite what the world says.

The book is a memoir, a travel journal, a spiritual guide and a motivational book, all rolled in one. It is funny, humorous with its one-liners and sarcastic take on the mundane things that mar our day-to-day life. Mundane things like mosquito bites not letting you meditate in open; and masturbation to avoid sleeping with someone you really want to, in reality.

I loved her honesty. I loved her acceptance. I loved reading her journey through it.

There was a phase in my life where I strongly felt I needed to make changes to my attitude, to the way I behave or perceive situations, to become a better person. It was also the time when I was reading the India part of her journal. And that day I read about her choosing to be silent. She decides of becoming the ‘Quiet Girl in the Back of the Temple’. And right then, she is chosen to become the ‘Key Hostess’.

Like a big sister, a guru, she told me to accept myself. All of myself. She showed me that it’s okay.

Excerpt from the book ‘ Eat Pray Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert

There are too many such moments, lines, phrases where she became a friend.. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this kind of friendship before. Knowing a person through the book. You feel connected to them. You feel like they are guiding you through the book. So, in a way, they end up becoming a soul sister for you.

And I’m glad to have found this book, to have read it.

Of course, sharing some bit of her journey, her feelings doesn’t mean my life’s journey will be the same. I’m nowhere near the Bali chapter in my life. I’m somewhere in the India chapter right now (sincerely hope so!).

Perhaps, all of us have a similar journey in life. Or at least, there is a big chunk of us who are on such a ‘spiritual’ journey (in the absence of a better word!)

The journey which started with trying hard to reach materialistic highs, then achieving it – then a phase of personal freedom which implies opulence, indulgence, exultation and letting go of all limits and boundaries (the italy chapter). Then comes the chapter of finding it all meaningless and trying to find what is it that the soul wants. To find what is the true purpose of this life, what is it that’s ‘me’. Finding it or rather Defining it. And once that is defined, to live each moment as it comes. Free from world’s expectations or parameters but more of what I want, what my soul wants, what is my purpose, what is my Dharma.

Hope by the time I finish my life, I have found my true purpose and lived post-Nirvana. With that affirmation in my heart, I sign-off the amazing book that was ‘Eat Pray Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert.

To summarize my current phase of life – I’ll add another excerpt from her book

Love: Hope

Change a comin!

Dear Diary,

After the excitement and adventure of the past few weeks/months/years, life seems to be coming back to a lull. Let’s see how long this lasts.

I will be meeting my new team tomorrow for a web call. I still have about two weeks before I formally join them but it seems like I already have. The team, the company is very welcoming. Everything so far has been very positive. Almost miraculous. But I’m keeping my hopes in check.

But I do want to make it work.

It is a job of many firsts for me. This is going to be my first job where I join as a Manager. So far, every new company I joined, I joined as a junior person. That implies that my work was my responsibility. I was responsible only for my work. That’s easy (Trust me!). Now, I would be responsible for a team. So, my success would depend on their success.

I’m nervous because of the profile shift I’m making (electronics to software), remote working (I intend to work from my current location, if possible), and the role is in a start-up. So there are a lot of things where this might not work. Which might lead me to fail.

My first instinct is to just catch the next flight and spend time with the team in person. Make a connect. Understand the work quickly and start delivering results. But with the pandemic, it is not an option. Even if I take the risk of travelling, others might not be able to. Most likely won’t.

Then, if I’m saying I’ll make remote-working work, then I should embrace this and make it work, no matter what.

I’m nervous. Hell, I am. But I’m excited.

I know I can do it. I will give it my all to make it work.

Why I want this to work? Because it allows me to give a better environment to my child. I strongly believe that this is the way forward. I don’t have to send him to a day care after school. It is such a small thing and yet it is important to me. I want him to come home, eat home-cooked food, go to play with the kids, attend sports classes like regular kids do.

My Mom keeps telling me that as kids grow older, they need more of your time, not less. They need you to be around, even if they don’t need you to be engaged with them at all times. She has been a working woman so she should know. I’m taking her advice.

I also want to keep this connect I’ve built with him in the last year. The communication between us has increased at least 5x during this pandemic time. The topics we talk about, the things he comes to me, things I realize our his weak areas and need to be looked into.

This forced time with him, managing work and his interrupts together, has been difficult. Most times, when I’m in the middle of my work, I do not ‘hear’ him interrupting. But, we’ve both adjusted to it. I get to him as soon as I can. I’m aware I ignored him, if I did. Most times, I do try to address.

So, we do what best we can do.

I think that’s my major motivation. Plus, I believe this way of working helps me focus on building my life the way I want. Make time for health, family, spirituality, books. Less phone. Divide your day the way you want. Divide your location the way you want. Without actually moving physically.

You know, it’s funny!

It seems like my life has become an experimental board for me. Let’s play this game differently. Let’s make some changes. Like people make changes to their drawing room furniture setting – I’m making changes to my life. 😀

“Siri, I want to move from my current profile!” Okay, let’s try to get a job in software.

“Siri, I want to work from home!” Let’s see if they would be open for a remote manager.

Ha!

Let’s see how this works. If it doesn’t, we’ll make adjustments again and set things right.

There’s nothing right or wrong. MY life. MY way!

Love: Hope

Of Oregon

Dear Diary,

It’s been an year since I last traveled. January ’20, right before lockdown started and things went down south. I was lucky to have visited Oregon.

I did not know then that it would be my last visit to the country/state/region. It was an official visit that I’ve been doing every year since last few years.

Thankfully, it was also my most memorable. I got to experience and explore quite a few parts of the place. A colleague of mine was kind enough to spare time and take me around.

We went to see a symphony movie screening of the movie – The Ghostbusters. It’s an idea I had never heard of, forget seeing in person. So, basically, for all the music scores there is a live orchestra performing, right under the movie screen. So, you’re watching the movie but listening to musicians playing the orchestra right there, instead of the background music in-built in the movie.

It was a day of so many firsts. I met his family. I watched a movie in an orchestra setup. I saw people dressed up as characters from the movie. This is pretty common in US but not really seen here in India.

It’s a classic cult movie and yet the hall was completely full. Almost like a ritual, a social gathering. No, actually, an yearly ceremony that they seem to enjoy with their friends.

I heard the distinct sounds of various instruments. First time for cello and one more that looks like a cello but isn’t. I forgot it’s name.

We also went visiting a vineyard. These vineyards have special membership. And people generally go there, hang out with family, taste various wines and buy expensive bottles of wine for their homes. The view was gorgeous! Unforgettable. The sky so clear, the horizon so vast, the clouds, the sun rays. Everything was bathed and spot-clean. Somewhere you catch a lonely bird swooning around or perched on a fence. Some gothic style architecture beautifying the premises. I must say a boring place for kids, but a serene, scenic place for adults.

I’ll never forget that day or that trip. Forever thankful.

I’ll miss you Oregon. I will always keep you in my heart. You were beautiful and a memory I will always cherish.

Love: Hope

As of today -2/3/21

Dear Diary,

I received the offer from the new company I was interviewing for, and I’m eager to get started. This time of notice period, without work is not my type. 

I know I should allow this time to myself to relax, rejuvenate and be very sure that this is exactly what I want. But I’m impatient, as always. 

I think all these human traits – impatience, jealousy, hatred, anger, revenge – everyone knows they are bad. Some subtle, some severe. But these are inherent in all of us in some form and dose. While the world says you should change it, I am not so sure if it’s possible for anyone to change at such an elemental level. I’ve tried to learn patience but the closest I’ve come is to hide and not react to the impatience I feel.

And that’s the best you can do. If you realize that you have such a trait in you, accept it. When in difficult situations, beware that this emotion may rise. And just control your reaction for a later time. Let the moment pass. 
This helps you to avoid severe or irreparable damage that you most likely will regret later. It allows you to cool off and think rationally and look at the situation objectively. 

Also, on another note, I’m struggling with my hair. I need to get started with my new job and the smart way to do it is to be on video as much as possible. Make a connection with the team. The only hiccup being my hair. After straightening them for last few years repeatedly, they have been a disaster in the last year. I want to allow them the time to heal and for nature to take its course. But they need more time. And I need to get on that video like now. 

I don’t know what to do.

Love: Hope

And a congratulations!

1/25/21

Dear Diary,

I realized I cannot follow Rampal ji. I talked to a friend who jolted me out of my reverie. She didn’t say much or didn’t debate my decision. She didn’t even know I’m planning to take naam diksha. She just casually mentioned the change it was bringing in me. Called it a phase. 

I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I knew I would find people not accepting this side of me. I didn’t expect to be called frivolous. 

I also realized I haven’t read or explored enough to decide my Guru. Plus, there was a strong feeling that I’m not ready for such a major change in my personality.

This requires me to change myself inside out. Not sing, dance. Not be that outspoken or outgoing. Even not be participating. I was actually just letting life happen while I immersed myself in the pooja chants all the time. 
This caused me to link all my life happenings with my bhakti. As if all good or bad happening to me was somehow happening because of my pooja. If things are not going my way, then it must be a fault in my way of bhakti. 

I did not like the idea. I did not like the idea of having a guru who is there for fulfilling my greed. Of having a guru because he helps me get all I want. 

I had a dream right before dawn where Rampal ji came into my dream, asking me to stick to my word – my word of taking naam diksha if I get through the interview. I told him no.

I told him that no matter what happens I will not be threatened into submission. 

All in my dream and then later in my day. 

It was a difficult day.

But I found something.

I found I believe in my pita parmeshwar. The one true God who’s my father, my reason for existence. He has taken care of me all through my life. And he’ll continue to do so even now. He doesn’t need me to bend over backwards in his bhakti. I think God wants you to enjoy his creation, his world. Your life. And remember Him. Remember Him in your every action, your every thought, your day to day life. Keep your value system in sync with Him. And you’re part of His family. 

It doesn’t matter whether you remember Him through idol worship or through meditation (though that is a much stronger form of connection). Don’t get distracted. Remember that the action doesn’t matter, the thought does. 

Keep your thoughts clean. Live a life of bounty and happiness. 

Love : Hope

1/28/21

Dear Diary,

Congratulations! I got the job. Yesterday. After all the wait, anxiety, panic and uncertainties, we have made it through.

Love: Hope

And how it started – all over again

12/31/20 – 1/5/21

Dear Diary,
I completely forgot I had decided to write every day. Quite a few things happened in the last week.

I was talking to Sarika for new year wishes and I landed with an interview opportunity. If there was another way life could show me the love and support, I don’t know. 🙂

There are reservations and nervousness because I still don’t have the job. But I’m glad and surprised at the opportunity.

Pranshu (my brother) had a baby boy. Things are looking up. It seems the family will finally find peace. I hope so dearly.

I’m inclined to take naam diksha from Rampal Ji Maharaj and begin my spiritual journey. I started listening to the 3-time prayers at least.
– I attended a meditation course by Nithya Shanti this morning. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to wake up so early but I did. It was a wonderful service. 
The meditation time was short, like about 10 mins or so. But the whole hour was captivating and satisfying. 
While being in meditation, I felt my heart beat. For the first time. I could hear the thudding as if someone was banging on the wall. Loud and unmistakable. It was like visiting within my body. A hollow galaxy of its own. 
It was a surprise. No other major experience so far. Let’s see how this goes.

Love: Hope

1/8/21

Dear Diary,

It was my fourth day of meditation program today.

I was confused and a little irritated. I didn’t wake up at 5:30am to listen to bunch of inspiring quotes or stories. I decided to reach out and find out. Find out if this is the way all 9 days are going to be or something different is gonna come.

As usual, I lose patience too easily.

So, that’s how I got to talk to Padmajaa today. She’s supporting/managing Nithya’s lessons/programs. Apart from the basic queries about the process of meditation, she cleared my basic underlying problem – guilt. 

She said guilt is the first and most basic of escapes that human mind takes. To evade learning. To learn to change your response to a situation, if it may arise again. You did something, you did not feel right after doing it. You’re scared of the consequences. Of the mistake you’ve made. And also of your temptation to fall for it again.

You must realize that this journey you’ve taken ever since – of realization, of awakening, of choosing the right path, to not give in to the temptation is your first and major success. Remember that. And now, if and when, such a situation arises again in your life, you’ll know what you have to do. And you’ll do it far more confidently and quickly. You’ll not make a fool of yourself. You’ll not open yourself up to that hurt, that pain, that agony, that guilt, that loop. Because you know you get nothing out of it. The road, that experience was a test. It was a path that either led you to hell or to heaven. That choice made it clear to me that where I must go. Where I must spend my time in. What I must do. What my priorities should be and how stupid I was in going any other way.

So, in a way, it was a blessing because it was the time when God chose me. He didn’t give up on me. He saved me. And I should be happy and feel blessed about that.

So rather than looking at it as a bad experience, I’ll look at it as a victory. As a milestone. That led me to the path of spirituality. To the path of God. To make different choices. To respect my body and to focus on my mind. 

From physical love, I now move towards meta-physical. 

Love : Hope

1/14/21

Dear Diary,

Scared. I don’t have another word to explain what I’m feeling. Nervous, Anxious maybe. 

I’ve my interview today. The first one went well last week. Was it just last week? It seems like it was months ago. Well, if this opportunity goes away, then I’ve nothing else in my hand. Then this might just be the end of my professional career as I know of.

So, that explains the nerves. I’ve tried to prepare. I’ve tried to brush up my basics but the more I try, the more I realize how much more is required from my end.

I know even if this doesn’t work, life would have something else in store. I know that the place I’m at, I was brought to it. It’s not something that I reached to by myself, by my sane/insane mind. So, whatever will happen, I would embrace it. Deal with the cards you are dealt with. But, still – nervous. Anxious.

We had kiddo’s school admission interview today morning. That went well. I knew it was only a formality but there was still a possibility that they may not give an offer to admission. Hope this works out well for Anay. He’s upset about leaving his current school, of course. But, I’m convinced this is in best of his interests.

My spiritual journey following Rampal ji is ongoing. I continue to do my daily prayers, as flawlessly as possible. I hadn’t completely started following all the norms and the rules but I get it that there’s no shortcut or easy transition to this. It would need to be a abrupt switch. And see how it goes.

I am concerned about how I would manage to be honest all the time. I lied last week to my yoga teacher when I didn’t want to take the class. I lied to my office team when I had to take a leave of absence today due to my interview. I might have to lie in the interview if they ask me if I will move to Bangalore or not. Or perhaps not. I do realize that all the lies I spoke could have been avoided. I could have found a way around them if I thought hard. So, it might just work. 

But it won’t be an easy road. I will need to be strong and sure of this decision.

I think the decision is on Him. And not me. If I land the job, I’ll take the name. I’ll follow the path. Without another thought. 

Dear God, be with me.

Love : Hope

1/19/21

Dear Diary,

I received a call from the company confirming my selection. They still have one step to go where they take feedback from references. I’ve given them GS and Priyanka’s name. I’m not sure if this step would be the one that breaks it all. But I also know that this whole thing was very difficult to happen, from the beginning. If it has reached this far, then it is solely because of God’s will and Guru’s support.

When this started, I tried to test the power and capability of Rampal Ji Maharaj. Somewhere down the line, the job became a way to test whether he’s the true Guru or not. It has been going forward all this while. I’m amazed and stunned in equal measures. I’m going forward with what I decided. I had promised that I’ll take naam diksha if this goes through. And I’ll take it.

This is scary every step of the way. And yet, it all soothes down the moment you leave it in God’s hands. I’ve done that countless times in the last few days. Whether it was quitting my current job, or applying for this new job, or the interviews I’ve given so far. There was no chance of this happening, and yet it all is happening to me. 

No matter where this goes, I would be glad that I’ll be out of the current organization and its people. It started to feel like sticky mud that is very difficult to get out of. Now, wherever this goes, whatever it takes, I’m getting rid of this sticky mud. 

1/20/21

Dear Diary,

Still very scared. Am elated and excited about joining this new company. But I’m worried if the offer doesn’t come through. You never know what will happen unless you have something in your hand. I know I said I will accept whatever comes my way. It might happen that I’m left again with no job. But, I’m hopeful about this one. I’m excited about this one. It’s almost there and yet not there.
Oh Dear God, please be with me. Anxious.

24/1/21

Dear Diary,

Do you know what I have to do to get anything in life ? I simply have to picture it clearly.

The perfect job, the perfect home, the perfect body, the sane mind, the stable satiated soul. I just have to imagine what I want and it shall be.

No doubts. No concerns or negativity shrouding me. Just simple plain belief.
And it shall be.

How to stop overthinking?

When you find your mind looping over a thought, usually because you’re anxious and you want to stop – have a problem for it to solve. It could be an algorithm, a technical problem, or a house organizing problem. Anything. Something tough and absorbing. Just take your mind there and it shall forget to worry. 

Love: Hope

How it ended

Hey there! I’ve been in a transition phase in my life in the last few weeks. Let’s just say the last week of 2020 and the following weeks of 2021 have been of major transition for me. Of unexpected ends and unexpected new life.

I’ve been writing it all in my personal diary but I need to catalogue this. Here on my blog. My real journal. So, read on, if you got lot of time on your hands. 🙂

12/21/2020

Dear Diary
It doesn’t get lonelier than this. It’s almost like people have come together and decided to boycott me or not talk to me. Or maybe I did this to myself. I boycotted/ignored/distanced myself from people. They were killing me. The environment was toxic. 

Then why am I looking to get those same people back in life whom I hated/resisted? Perhaps, I’m looking for human interaction. I’m just looking to talk to anyone. And I’m unable to move out. I actually don’t want to quit my job. I just want a place where I’m able to work peacefully. Where people don’t mind me as much. Where people are welcoming than the antagonistic environment this has become. 

I tried moving. I tried reaching out to people. But no one wants to hire me. It seems like I’ve hit the end of the road. It’s like there’s nothing and no one out there who needs me/wants me. There’s no more value I can add in the current setup. I don’t want to stay here. That is true. And pretty certain. No matter how much I enjoy working with WV folks. I enjoy learning from them. But I’m no longer interested in working here. 

I understand I’ll need to step out slowly. But it’s been a long way. I’ve been tired for so long. It seems I’m unable to move out. 

12/25/2020

Dear Diary,
I quit my job yesterday. I think it would be two more months that I stay employed while I’m in my notice period.

It’s a weird place. An unknown place rather. 

I don’t regret my decision. I don’t want to go back to the place. Nor do I think it’s something I could continue. I could probably try to get another job but I think it wasn’t happening. I think this was coming my way all along.

I think I should be happy if this was my destiny. Rather than thinking of it as something I did, I would rather like to believe it’s a milestone God has brought me to. I should be happy because it comes before I went too far on the path of sin. Because that’s what my job had turned into. It made me to a person no one liked. No, it’s not about others. But it was a sign. I could not see earlier. I now do. 

I have never liked what I see when I reflect upon my past. It brings me only thoughts of guilt and self loathing. 

12/26/2020

Dear Diary,
It was a quiet relaxed day at home. After Tarun’s strong reaction to my idea of life coaching, it did settle me. 

I did not like his strong use of words or the tone, but I understood his concern. He wants me to take a complete break before plunging again into anything. I think I do need that.

I did painting, reading, went to walk with Tarun twice. Talked to Ayushi. Told her about my decision. It’s always so easy to talk to her. 

I and Tarun talked about how we want to focus on. That has to be Anay.

Some key points:

  1. Focus on Anay’s wholesome growth – brilliants, maths, aptitude, logic, sports.
  2. Focus on building a network of friends.
  3. Focus on writing. Discipline of writing.
  4. Do things irrespective of money.

12/27/2020

Dear Diary,
In-laws are visiting today. I don’t remember the last time they stayed overnight. It’s been really a long time. 
It’s Day-3 of my decision. I was having second thoughts about quitting work. I was a strong woman. I liked that powerful woman. The outside. But I don’t like the woman I had become inside. So, I do know it was time to move on. And hence the decision is right. I could not stretch it any further.
I did think if I should try and get another job. Maybe start applying. But I think it’s an opportunity I should take. Of a break. Of soul searching. Of finding out what my life would be if I’m not working. Not just imagine or be scared or have my apprehensions. But find out, for real.
So, for now, I’m sticking to it.
Had a long discussion with Papaji about Rampal Ji. I’m inclined to follow him. Mostly because of the dreamy life he promises. 

I asked him a question – ‘What was different between when you were following the earlier Guru vs Him. What difference did you feel in your own life?’

He said something like ‘I was following but I never found peace/happiness/sukh. Life was still full of troubles and dukh.’

And this clicked.

I don’t like the way my FIL pushes. He keeps on and on about it. But if I found something as magical, perhaps I would be harping about it to my kids all the time too. So, I kind-a get him.
I’m scared but I want to try following him. Seeing if it brings me the miracles and happiness promised. Freedom from the troubles of the mind. 
What I want ? Everything! Success, Fame, Health, Peace, Salvation. All. 😁

12/28/20

Dear Diary,

Such a major decision, such a random happening. And yet, nothing ever looked this right. Pretty much nothing coming from anyone to make me doubt. The more I talk, the more I think, I find this to be the right time and the right decision for me.
I talked to HR today. He tried to convince me that I shouldn’t quit but take sometime off. The only thing he could convince me of, was that I should not give up on myself. Perhaps it is the time to redefine myself. My Identity. My new life.
I talked to mother-in-law as well. She’s simple minded. She didn’t have a lot of reflection on what the decision would mean to us, for me. But she could tell me about her life, her journey and her tribulations. I think that helped.
I’m heavily considering taking Rampal route. I understand that it won’t be easy and I might not see miracles like I dream of. But it shall bring me peace of mind. Real happiness maybe. 
What do you think?
– Love, Hope

12/30/2020

Dear Diary,
It’s still morning time. About 12 noon. I’ve realized I can’t do this (<job>) anymore. Even if I wanted to continue, I cannot.

 It all seems pointless. The work I’m doing, the learning it requires. I do not want to continue it. There are small bits and pieces I like – like people I felt a connection with. Or the places I got to travel. Or the moments that made me feel like an accomplished woman. 

But I’ve understood it’s all fake. I’ve understood I would need to accept them as beautiful memories of my journey and move on. 

I’ve reached a point in my life where I can see it’s an end of a life I’ve known so far. I don’t know what future will offer. Whether this path is path to nirvana and happiness or path to a further gutter of darkness. With life, even when you think you’ve seen your worst most bottom, life shows you there’s another layer down that you could go. So, I don’t know if I’ve hit rock bottom or another one is coming with this decision of mine.

I know this. There’s no way back. And this is the only way forward. 

Dear God, please be merciful and kind to me.

Dear Diary,

It’s still morning time. About 12 noon. I’ve realised I can’t do this anymore. Even if I wanted to continue, I cannot.

It all seems pointless. The work I’m doing, the learning it requires. I do not want to continue it. There are small bits and pieces I like – like people I felt a connection with. Or the places I got to travel. Or the moments that made me feel like an accomplished woman.

But I’ve understood it’s all fake. I’ve understood I would need to accept them as beautiful memories of my journey and move on.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I can see it’s an end of a life I’ve known so far. I don’t know what future will offer. Whether this path is path to nirvana and happiness or path to a further gutter of darkness. With life, even when you think you’ve seen your worst most bottom, life shows you there’s another layer down that you could go. So, I don’t know if I’ve hit rock bottom or another one is coming with this decision of mine.

I know this. There’s no way back. And this is the only way forward.

Dear God, please be merciful and kind to me.

The gym instructor

Dear Diary,

Yesterday my old gym instructor called me.

It’s been close to 10 months since he left the physiotherapy center where we met, he still tries to contact.

He left in October’2019. He called me once at about 8:00 PM sometime in Nov/Dec. I was having dinner with family. I took the call from our dining table. It was a general conversation. Him asking about my health, about my workout. Asking to stay connected. Perhaps a 5-8 minute conversation.

I never called.

Then, sometime around April’20 I started getting whatsapp forwards. Good morning messages. In 4 days, I blocked the number.

I never tried to explain. Or contact.

He called yesterday again. Talking about health. About my workout. Work-from-home. I told him I blocked whatsapp because my husband is not comfortable and feels insecure. He nudged me to unblock. I gave a firm no. He again asked to stay in touch.

It was a 6-minute call.

I reiterated the conversation to my husband. I told him how I used husband’s name as a shield and tried to get away from the stalker.

My husband was upset. That I used the word ‘insecure’. He’s upset that I receive calls from such people.

I politely asked my husband – ‘What should be my course of action? How would you like me to handle such situations? If a man tries to contact me , should I outright be blunt and tell him to not call? You tell me.’

After some uncomfortable moments of silence and mumbling, he says – ‘I don’t know if this happens to other women as well, or is it just you who giggles and keeps contact with random strange men’.

What do you think I should fix?

#Love-thyself

We have often heard multiple adages telling you to fall in love with yourself before you seek love from outside. No truer words have ever been spoken. And, nothing more cryptic has ever been said either.

The problem with adages is they tell you this is what you need to do, but no one tells you ‘how’. They tell you what goal you should have and need to achieve but there’s no step-by-step guide on how to do it.

Well, I decided to love myself. I needed to. My constant need of seeking approval from outside was hurting me – both professionally and personally. The more you depend on outside, more susceptible you are to going wrong. You end up making decisions which are dependent on people you’re surrounded by. The people may or may not be qualified, or completely aware of the complete problem.

Hence, bad decisions. Implying stooping low self-confidence.

I knew I wanted to fall in love with myself but I didn’t know how. My mind constantly threw accusations at me – things I didn’t do, bad habits I needed to quit, reminding me of all places where I failed. I was tired and broken.

During lockdown, as I got disconnected from the outer world, and hence the places from where I seeked approval or from where I took inputs for making my decision – that loop broke. Now, I had no choice but to listen to my own self and make my own decisions.

And boy, did that help. In all my life, I’ve not been more at peace. While I found peace, I still didn’t love myself.

So, what did I do? I started doing things I always wanted to do –

  1. Do simple new things:
    • Cooking for my son. Taking care of my house – Lockdown forced all of us to do it. But this activity took off a major guilt from my shoulders.
    • Started doing pooja every day – I wouldn’t say I felt guilty of not lighting a diya every day but it was something that did make me feel misplaced. Whenever I was in trouble, I would go and pray but also felt guilty of praying only when needed. So, I started doing this daily. For first few days, I would be praying at odd hours, waking up after laying in bed because I suddenly remembered I forgot lighting diya today. Later the routine got set.
    • Started my yoga classes again – Working on my body is so difficult for me and yet it brings me so much satisfaction if I do it regularly. Adding it to my routine is toughest and once added, doing it daily is easiest. I found that sticking to a routine is something I can do. Forming a routine is what is tough, especially if it’s a good habit.
  2. Finish what you started – I had bought an embroidery DIY kit. I completed that. I picked the books I had bought and started completing them. I used to feel so guilty of buying books but not reading them.
  3. Disconnecting from my phone: As work load from home and office increased, I found myself disconnecting from phone as well. When you have so many things to do, you don’t have the time to waste time. Also, on days when I spent a lot of time on phone, I found I got bored of looking at it – because there isn’t much to do. There isn’t much happening either way.
  4. Pick a goal which is world-accepted: Enrolled for the course I always planned to do – It was so spur of the moment. It was so fateful. It was so sudden. I’m not sure if it was the right decision or not. But, having a bucket list and ticking off the bucket list is a major boost to your self-respect.

Effectively, what I found is that I’m working on things I respect. I’m trying to do things that I respect in other people that I look upto. I’m trying to refrain from doing things that I feel guilty about or loath in myself.

I might not have fallen in love with myself so much that I could say – ‘Main apni sabse favorite hoon’ but I definitely feel better about myself.

And it helps in re-surfacing in those low times.

Of life’s puzzles

Dear Anay,

There will be multiple times when you’ll be facing a puzzle in life. A question, a mystery, a problem – that seems unsolvable to you. You would be wondering how do I fix this!? How do I get rid of it? How do I get over it?

Often times, when you think hard, and you really care, you do find a solution to the problem. Most times, you do.

Then, there are times when things don’t add up. You feel like ‘why me? and how to fix it?’. You keep looking but it doesn’t help. If the answer doesn’t come naturally to you, despite enough looking and mulling – let it be.

Yes, just let it be. There must be a piece of the puzzle that is yet to come to you. Life opens questions and life answers them. But, it happens in due course. So, you must be patient. The solution may come in a week, or it may take years. You will really have to be patient.

But trust me, it shall all add up on ‘why you’. And, you’ll be surprised and glad because when it comes, it would seem worth the wait.

But, if the problem seems like a repeating pattern – like failed relationships, failed jobs, failed friendships, failed attempts – then you must step away and reflect on yourself.

These are actually lessons. Lessons that Life wants us to learn. And we cannot move forward unless we learn it! But we are so stuck on our values, our beliefs, our desires, or our preconceived notions that we refuse to see it. Or learn. And, hence, the experience keeps repeating itself in one form or another. We wonder why it happens to us despite our best efforts, but we don’t realize that we’re looking at it the wrong way. Instead of looking outside, we must look inside and change what we are doing.

And, last but not the least, enjoy the journey while you solve these. Because Life is nothing but heaps of jigsaw puzzles that you shall keep solving. Once the grand picture is complete, your reason for existence shall be over too. So, don’t look at problems as the hardships of life but actually the reason for your existence. Like a challenge. And, just like in a game, you never receive a challenge unless you’ve proven yourself worthy of that level. So, if life has brought you to a tough challenge, then remember that you must have proven yourself worthy. And, you’re destined to overcome it.

And, if you fail, just in case you fail – don’t worry! Life gives you ample opportunities to stand up and retry.

You see, life or God never gives up on you. You just make sure that you don’t give up on yourself.

Love,

Mom

Of listening

Dear Diary,

I was reading the book ‘Men without women’ by Harumi Murakami. The story was ‘Yesterday’. What a book! What a collection of stories. Without the cats and dogs and extreme imaginative which are typical of Murakami’s books, I’m enjoying this a whole lot better.

Well, the post is not about the book or the story but a thought that struck me while reading it.

In most of my friendships, through my life, I’ve openly talked and shared. I’ve shared the highs and lows of my life. I’ve always felt necessary to share because that’s how I know you make friends. That’s the reason you make friends.

Thing I missed was I didn’t hear the same story from the other side. I realised I never let the other person talk. I knew I was talkative. I have always been social so I thought people enjoyed my company. I also knew I’m not a very keen listener.

But I never pieced things together. And I feel embarrassed.. and a little sad that I never knew them fully enough.

This lockdown brought me the quiet and the solitude I needed to enjoy and appreciate the silence. I don’t feel the need to talk all the time, or talk to anyone at all. That has automatically reduced a lot of the clutter that filled my mind.

I would like to listen more now. I would like to be in a company of a friend where even if I or (s)he isn’t talking then that’s fine too. And I’ll like to enjoy that silent companionship.

And, I would like the friend to be myself. To myself.

Let’s see how that goes.

I’ll try and spend a few minutes, each day, of silence, with no thoughts or words and just trying to enjoy my own company. Perhaps, a silent conversation on how the day has been!

-The FireFly