Goa: Books, Brain and Babe

The last I stepped out of my home city to study was in 2001. Just by writing that, I realise how many eons away that sounds!

Anyone who knows me well, will also know that I am a student for life and never shy away from unlearning and learning something new. Did you read the word unlearning twice? If you did, good job! We will come back to this word some time later in another post of mine.

So when I told my family that I was keen on getting myself certified in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), they all just raised their heads a tad bit and went back to their business. Hello! And then I announced.

‘I am thinking of going to Goa for this course.’ Four heads turned with their mouths wide open, but for different reasons.

‘You are just lying. I know you are going there to have fun with friends.’ That was my son.

‘You will go without me, is it? How bad!!’ That was my daughter.

‘Is this course not available in Bangalore?’ My mother. AND…

‘Let’s talk logistics.’ My self proclaimed better half.

No, I am not lying. I am going to study.

Six days will go like this, and I snapped my fingers.

No, I want to be trained only under Dr. David Lincoln. He does not train in Bangalore.

And yeah, come let’s talk logistics. And I went ahead booked my flight, and sent out mails for accommodation.

The next two months that followed, I kept hearing many things like,

I still think you are lying. Tell me, is Suhasini Aunty coming along?

What if I feel like seeing you? But what will you get for me?

Why can’t you just read about it or order some books on it, like the zillion things you keep reading about?

Na na…better half didn’t speak much, and I think it was because I kept talking about NLP day and night. Tch tch.

Then I started getting calls from my mom’s sis.

Goa is not safe. You shouldn’t go alone.

When that failed, it became

What kind of clothes are you packing? Will you have company? Will you have a room-mate? A guy or a girl..haaaa!

What was up with all these people? I mean. I have lived in a hostel for two years in another city. No one bothered. I wondered.

That is when a dear friend pointed out. You see, your value has increased. Then you were just a girl. Now you are a mother, a wife, a daughter-in-law and so on.

So basically what she meant was it was absolutely fine for a 21 year old to go alone anywhere, have any room-mate, wear the clothes she wanted, and it’s assumed that she will be safe even if she is alone. But, all this changes when you are 37. Someone please explain the logic, I say. But I think it made sense…or did it? Oh just leave it.

The day arrived and I packed my bags (All my bags are packed by Aerosmith played in the back of my mind, except I was going to Goa and not the space.)

I stepped out of the plane and kept my foot out in the soil of Goa waiting to feel LIBERATED, but what I felt was the humidity. Gosh! Can I please have my Bangalore back? I should have just read the books and got my bit of enlightenment.

I said a few inappropriate words in my head and got inside the cab.

‘Bhaiyya, AC on kar do.’ I rolled up the window of the car and instructed the driver.

‘Madam, the AC is on.’ I just rolled my eyes and huffed and puffed.

I reached my abode for the next six days. Thankfully this time, the AC was on and I realised it was on.

I sat on the bed. Too hard.

I laid on the bed. Too narrow. How will I throw my legs around and sleep?

I drank the water. Too soft, too hard. Tastes funny. Smells funnier.

I went into the washroom. What’s that smell? Is there a lizard somewhere lurking around?

And then it struck me. I felt lonely. There was no one around me. I missed everyone back at home. I called home and heard my daughter sniffing. F! This was a bad idea.

Then someone said, ‘Are you Subha?’ I turned around and saw a warm lady in her 40s with a bright smile. She was a practising theatre artist from Pune.

By evening, a nurse from Ratnagiri joined us. Then a corporate trainer from Mumbai, another from Bhopal. A 57 year young guy joined us soon and also a senior officer from the Army. An entrepreneur came along and also another budding trainer. The house slowly filled up, and my heart filled up even more listening to their stories. The wall of inhibition fell and I climbed down the Train of Judgement.

Days passed by. I was not just learning in the classroom, but also at the beach side restaurant where we spoke over drinks and starters, while watching the sunset as we poured our hearts, the Saturday market where we shopped, and during the long chats well into the night. Oh yeah, not to forget when we were chased by street dogs (which BTW are many in Goa) during our morning walk. We sincerely stopped the morning walks from the next day. We had after all left our families behind and come. Talking about family, the sniffing reduced from the other side of the phone. My son knew I was, after all, not lying because he asked me whether I was eating on time, slept well and was the course tough?

Like always, I clicked pictures of the setting sun against the vastness of the sea. I watched the horizon, as it split into the hues of orange, grey and blue. The sea reminded me how small I am, just a dot in this universe and that’s exactly why I should continue exploring my whole life.

The day I was returning, I hugged each one and knew I had made a few more soul connections. I sincerely wish that I collaborate with a few of them sometime in the future. As much as I loved every moment in Goa, I looked forward to reaching Namma Benguluru. I came to Bangalore a new person.

I felt this new-found love for my home, my family and guess what…I think I fell in love with myself all over again. Yeah, just like the movies.

Big Wolf & Little Wolf: A saga of friendship

2017 is about to end. If I look back and introspect, one aspect stood out for me: FRIENDSHIP.

Some friendships have made me ponder…a lot. Some friendships have accepted new terms and some friendships have become dope for me. As some are making an exit, some are arriving. Choosing family is way easier, well you don’t do much about it, do you? But friends are your choice, or is it? Is it a conscious choice? Or is does it just happen, like love? Is it a happily ever-after? Or is it a book of accounts, too many additions and subtractions, so bugged that you just give up and accept.

Let me lead you through a story.

Once upon a time was a tree. Under the tree lived a Big Wolf. Once upon a time lived you in your own sweet life. Days passed by and one day, (not an ordinary day) a Little Wolf appeared. (Tiny, but bright blue, unavoidable and distinct) And then one day, you meet Alpha. Someone you thought was insignificant, but soon you released she is not. Alpha is unavoidable and distinct. The Big Wolf was terrified by the possibility of the newcomer being bigger than him. You are skeptical about Alpha. Alpha is a stranger, what if Alpha is better than who you are. Without we realizing, there is that little boss called ego in all of us. But as the little wolf comes near, the Big Wolf is relieved. He is smaller than him. He is no competition. He is reassured. You are reassured. Alpha is warm. She  is no competition. At first, the two wolves weigh each other silently and slowly the timidness of the Little Wolf makes the big wolf secure. At first, you and Alpha weigh each other, share stories and slowly you feel Alpha also is twisted in her own way. You are comforted. The ego is at rest. Days pass by and the Big Wolf observes (to his surprise) that the Little Wolf is following him everywhere. He had assumed the Little Wolf will walk away. You assume Alpha will be like the others, she will be on her won soon. But no, she is right there everyday. The Big Wolf watches as the little wolf struggles to climb the tree. He feels non-threatened and awestruck to see the Little Wolf’s courage. You watch Alpha face her own struggles and you feel one with her. Non-threatened and inspired. Well, you also have your own struggles. She is no different. The Little Wolf accepts the small morsels of food offered by the Big Wolf. The Big Wolf watches in satisfaction as the Little Wolf gobbles the morsel given to him. Alpha seeks out for help from you in non-favourable situations, vents out and looks up to your opinions. And you feel satisfied. You are important. 

One day, the Big Wolf went far from the tree, through the fields, probably in search of food. He comes back in the evening to find the tiny blue dot, the Little Wolf gone. He is no where to be found. And one day, Alpha is not her usual self. She seems distant, aloof. The Big Wolf feels uneasy for the first time in his life. You feel uneasy for the first time. This little blue dot was after all not that insignificant; the Big Wolf realizes as he feels sad and empty. What he had thought was tiny had fulfilled his blankness, but he never felt grateful about it. You realize Alpha was not just another person. She has taken up a place n your silently silently but strongly. A lot of space.

The next morning painfully arrives. The Big Wolf promises himself that if the Little Wolf comes back, he will value him, give him more food than the tiny morsel, give him more space to sleep than the corner of the tree. You understand that Alpha is not just an ordinary person. She actually completes that black hole inside you. And you promise yourself when Alpha is back to normal, you will treasure her, for now you know she is your equal.

And just like that, one day the Little Wolf comes back. And just like that one day Alpha is back. She seems normal and your heart dances again at her being your friend. 

The Big Wolf did not think twice before saying, ‘Where were you? I missed you. Without you I was sad.’ The ego is no more to be found.

You don’t bat an eyelid before saying, ‘Alpha, you are important to me. I don’t want to lose you. You are a very dear friend.’

The Little Wolf said, ‘Me too.’ The Big Wolf is relieved.

Alpha says, ‘Me too.’ You are relieved. 

And so it was decided, the Little Wolf will stay. Just that he is not little anymore.

And so it was decided, Alpha will stay. She is not the insignificant other anymore. 

 

You can read this beautiful, heart warming story of loneliness, ego, solidarity and acceptance here. 

Take care of the animal in you

The last two days have been stressful. To our utter horror, we found  three of the four birds  we have, lying dead. They had been pecked at and mangled mercilessly, while no one was at home. The culprit was a hawk; it flew off immediately when I reached home and opened my balcony door. The last bird was silently sitting in one of the corners. I could see it shivering out of fear. We call the bird cage their home because that’s the place where they have a swing to play on and a ladder where they go up and down. They would chirp, chirp and CHIRP till we stop talking and look at them. Which is when they suddenly become quiet. It’s a place where they feel safe and secure. They are lovebirds, one of the most demure and pretty birds, and easily fall prey. I still can’t talk about my birds in past tense.

We were devastated. ‘This is why you should not have pets’, my mother said with tears in her eyes. ‘It’s too painful to watch something happen to them.’ We all cried.

Our immediate attention went to Moli, our survivor. Turn by turn, we went and sat near her. We kept talking to her. I read my book the whole evening sitting next to her. My husband and I gave reiki to her. My mother kept calling her ‘kanna’. I kept asking her to eat and drink water. My husband missed his violin class just to be with her and worked from home for one day. The kids kept checking on it and shed silent tears. We left everything important for her. And that’s when it struck me.

I had read this article some time back. It speaks about something so simple yet profound. I understood what it wanted to say, but couldn’t relate to it practically. But when I took care of Moli, I perfectly understood what it meant. (Pets are a deep catharsis to the soul) It is a beautiful write up on what it actually means to take care of oneself.

Let me quote my favourite part of the write up:

I try never to forget three words the great Cole Porter wrote: “We’re merely mammals.” Hundreds of thousands of years before we developed our complications and neuroses, we were just another warm-blooded life-form trying to survive in a difficult world. When we forget that fact, we suffer. We get trapped in the shame and blame of our human minds and neglect “the soft animal of your body” (as Mary Oliver so beautifully calls it). But what makes us think we’re so special that we alone—unlike any other animal on earth—do not deserve loving care?

Sometimes the only way I can pull myself from the edge of terror or self-hatred is to ask myself, How does my animal feel right now? Then I notice my racing heart, my trembling hands, my shortened breath, my knotted stomach, my shaky legs, my clenched jaw…and I say, “This is no way for an animal to live.” I ask my animal what would make her feel better. A walk in the sunlight? A friendly voice? A treat? A nap? My animal teaches me how to take care of her, and she shows me how to care for myself.

Isn’t that so simple yet breathtaking? It was for me. I asked myself when was the last time I asked my animal how I feel right now? (I feel the most honest answer comes to our mind as soon as the question is asked.) The answer that came up was ‘not in a very long time’.

I admitted that I have been quite busy asking others about myself, letting them create opinions about me and in turn get hurt, and this includes very dear ones too. I have also been self critical, a tad too much, pushing myself when I actually need not have.

I do go through these phases of self probation, when I read a lot and feed myself to understand myself better. Each time the result has been positive. I am sure this phase will also will fruitful.

P.S: We got three new birds last evening and we have a happy bunch again. Amen!

BTW, do catch up with the complete article here. Savour it and devour it word by word. It’s worth it.