What Living Alone Is Like

When I moved to Bangalore for my Masters that I should be allowed to live on my own was my only request I made to my parents. After living for 4 years in Mumbai during the days of my undergrad and first job, I realised that Bangalore would be the only place where I could actually afford the luxury of a place to myself in the near future. After living away from home for over six years my parents were readily agreed.

However, the actual move to Bangalore was somewhat of a daze, running between college and bank and house-hunting, that I ended up in a PG. While it was probably a thousand times better than the one million other PGs and houses I saw, I hated the place. I hated how I had to share the small little room with a roommate who was so light a sleeper that I found myself studying for my exams sitting on the floor of the bathroom. I hated the routine oily food, I hated how I had no space to myself, and I hated how I still had to spend more than half of every waking hour in that place. I think I hated it most because while the cramped nature reminded me of Mumbai, I didn’t have the people who made life better with me.

I survived a year in the place, mostly because I didn’t want to burden my parents with a move. At the end of the academic year, between the exams, on a call with my parents I finally told them how I had been studying in the bathroom. That’s how I finally ended up moving out of there. I shifted all my things to friends place before going home for the summer vacations and decided to come back a week earlier to house-hunt.

As far as house-hunting goes, I have to say, I hit jack-pot. I started on a Monday and by Friday I had found a place. While I had seen some places which I cannot describe as anything but as ‘little dingy holes,’ in the grand scheme of things, it never ended up being an ordeal that made me want to blow my brains out. As luck would have it my future home was listed on Magicbricks. I honestly don’t know anyone except myself who has actually found a place through that app. So sans a broker and hence the horrible little brokerage fees, I found the place I would call home and I have to say, it honestly was love at first sight.

It’s a small little place, perfect for one person. It exists on a small dingy lane but I guess that’s the price you pay for living in the middle of the city. And as far as dingy lanes go, mine never made me feel unsettled, even the first time I walked through it to see my place. So, two days after seeing the place, my friends helped me shift.

It’s been a little over 6 months that I have been living alone. It’s not long, but it’s longer than I ever thought possible, and I absolutely love it. The one thing almost everyone has asked me is, “Don’t you feel scared?” I always laugh and say, “Scared? What about?” Then I proceed to them how I once thought I saw something move from the corner of my eye and flipped thinking it was a ghost or something, amounting that lone instance to the only time I was scared. But, that’s not entirely true. My first week of living alone, falling asleep had never seemed harder. Living on the ground floor or a building that’s literally 5 steps away from another house on all directions, I can hear everything. A friend of mine says that living in my house is like living through Shootout at Lokhandwala because of the temple right behind and the boys who like to burst firecrackers and whatever else that they do and the construction work going on just opposite my home. Needless to say, silence is a luxury here and to be honest, I like that it’s noisy around. There are, of course, times when I have thought that the all that noise would drive me to an asylum, especially during festivals or drilling days, but on most days, the noise keeps me sane. The sound of the world going on about, of a lover’s spat, of flirting, of friends just having conversations, of the girls who live upstairs giggling as they make their way up, it all just makes me feel like I am not entirely alone. I realise I am beginning to sound like a loner, which I guess to some extent I am. I only have a handful of friends in the city, and of the handful a good chunk of them left in the course of the past year and a half. My social life has considerably suffered as a result, but the truth is, I like being at home. I am very content snuggling up in my bed, reading a book or a binge watching a show, cooking in my underwear and having my own 5-minute dance parties when I want to “throw-down.” The first few days in the house, every tiny noise at night would wake me up and now I think I will be able to sleep through a day of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. Though every now and then I find myself checking behind doors and double checking if I have locked the house (I once, like a fool, did go off to sleep, leaving the door open and slightly ajar. I think I thanked all the gods in the world and mother nature and karma and all my lucky stars for actually waking up the next day). Every now and then the slightest wind blowing fills me in with paranoia. However, these instances are so rare and few it’s almost negligible.

I love living alone and that if I could I would live here for the rest of life, never step out and have people come over if they wanted to ever meet me. I have spent the last six months making this place my home. I think for my generation, being transient seems to be the only way the know how to be alive. My parents moved around a lot (no, my dad was not in the army, they just thought that life wasn’t meant to be fully lived in one single place) and so I have never truly known what it is like to live any place for longer than 5 years. I have changed schools about 6 six times, my oldest friend has only been in my life for 11 years and the concept of childhood friends has evaded me. I almost always jealous of people who have always lived in one place all their lives and have friends who have practically known them since they were actually pooping their pants. For me, the idea of home has always been so fleeting that for a long time when people asked me where I am from, I would automatically say, “Bombay,” because that place truly was home for me for a long time and in some ways still is. So while other people of my generation are chasing the life of rootlessness and being from everywhere, I am desperately trying to root myself somewhere.

So now that I have a place I happily call home, I am very happy. The rest of the city, I still have my struggles with. I spend most of my weekends painting or doodling on my wall, cooking for the week and just dancing around in my underwear. I fit an occasional face-time with another human so I don’t become a complete recluse.

For me, the kitchen is a site of struggle. No, not because I don’t know how to cook. I cook quite well and cooking actually calms me. Maybe because it’s a little away from the noise of the world or maybe because there is always a sad realisation that I am cooking for myself. I am not sure why. I feel it bubbling up and I combat that feeling by playing some music or playing an episode of Friends or The Middle in the background. Does that sound escapist? It probably does. I eat most of my meals with the company of a show or a movie. Breakfast, however, is a little different. More often than not, I am running a little late and I have just enough time to stuff a sandwich down my throat and scorch it afterward with a hot cup of coffee. It is in that moment, when I am standing in the kitchen, taking quick breaths between bites, or cooling down the oatmeal with long puffs of air that I feel it. The big L word. No, not love. Loneliness.I wasn’t lying when I said that I love living alone. In fact, I don’t think I can ever go back to having a roommate (a housemate, maybe), but I guess John Donne knew what he was talking about when he wrote, “No man is an island.”

So how do you find a balance? How do you continue to enjoy living a pantless life, and not fall apart? I think the answer is in making sure you don’t become a complete recluse. I do it by going for long walks, sometimes with a friend. I do it by calling friends over, hosting parties and making sure I step out of the house for something other than college at least once a week. I keep myself busy, not just for the sake of it, but because I have the time and space to do things I love. I love my solo dance parties and folding up paper cranes to hang in some corner of my house. I love being able to actually listening to my thoughts and acknowledging then instead of filling up my life with noise and people. It’s not always easy but I have realised that in the past six months I have learnt so much about myself and I have learnt to love myself so much more than I ever thought possible. And if 5 minutes of loneliness peppered across the month is the price I have to pay for that, I would, anyday.

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As a kid, one of my favourite things to do at my dad’s home was to swing around this pole (sounds very stripper-like, I realise). I would go round and round till I felt everything around me was spinning. And my ammachi would flip. She would say, molay, this is an old house, the roof will collapse, and you will fall. I would just roll my eyes, step out of the house so I could go play in the backyard only to have her scream at me begging me to not go there because who knows what is out (as if that wasn’t enough reason to make me want to go there even more).

A couple of years ago when she became bedridden it was weird for all of us. She was an extremely active woman up until then. She was forever running around, feeding the whole world. Now, she couldn’t see if I was swinging on the pole or going too far into the backyard. But, now that I had the freedom, it didn’t seem as much fun anymore.

Earlier this week, she passed away. A lot of people asked me if I was close to her and I told them, no, not really, she never let me do anything. But, when I walked into the house and saw the pole, my heart just broke. Suddenly, it felt like a part of my childhood just left with her.

She was 88 years old. I don’t know if she led a full life or if life was everything she hoped it would be. I don’t even know if she had hopes and dreams. She had a husband, three kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. But the testament to who she was as a person, and how deeply she was loved, was the fact that there were people who worked around the house years ago (as back as when my dad was still a kid) who came to see her one last time, because she treated all of them, like they were her own kids (their words, not mine). She was truly loved.

Rest in peace, ammachi

Week 3. Day 18.

Today was a tough day from the start. It started with the knock at my door, which was meant to wake up my sister– a noise that she conveniently ignored (as always), but managed to wake me up from my disturbed sleep. I shook her legs and pleaded that she wake up first. She ignored me. I woke up, begrudgingly, and started my day.

Fridays are leg days. I love leg days. Today is going to be great, I told myself as I stepped on the treadmill for my warm up. By the time I got on the cross trainer, I felt my knees buckle, but I wasn’t about to quit. I pushed myself to complete my 35 minute cardio session so I could move on to my favourite part. Weights! A few floor exercises later, when I got on to the (I-have-no-idea-what-its-name-is-leg-thingy) equipment, I was excited. 10kgs. 20kgs. 3-FUCK-MY. LIFE-30kg. Unlike the previous week, all the exercises seemed a 100 times more tougher. The third set for every single exercise made me feel like my body was going to fall apart. By the time I left the gym, I felt like a loser. I couldn’t do what I had done last week. I didn’t know why, but it made me feel so pathetic.

Back home, things were same as always. Shower. Lunch. Screen time. The annoyance never left me. I managed to get some shut eye, only to be woken up by a yelling mother. Of course, taking an hour long nap, after a whole week of not being able to, has to be the world’s biggest sin. After lazing around for a while, I decided to go shop for some gym wear. I was getting tired of alternating between just two black tees through the week.

It has been a while since I have shopped, which is probably why I had forgotten how disheartening the whole experience used to be. I tried on a couple of kurtis only to see how even an XL (the largest size the store carries) flattened my boobs and accentuated my tummy. Angered, I moved on to the sportswear section. I had to pick up a tee from the men’s section, when I realised the XXL of Women’s Perfomax tees were too tight for me. Pants were too tight, or didn’t allow for breathing room. Finally I found a pair, that I didn’t really care for, but fitted me.

I was practically in tears when I got home. I know if I wasn’t home, I would have ordered some desert or indulged in some sort of junk food. Yes, emotional binge eating really is the enemy. But, thankfully I am home, so I am just eating whatever is made at home. But the realisation scares me. What happens when I go back. Who will keep a check on me? But, I guess that’s the tough part.

Everyone shares transformation photos and then tells you how difficult the journey was and how unlike before shopping has now become pleasurable. The thing is, you can read all about it and relate to it but that moment of feeling like a complete failure under the bright light of the trial room after stuffing yourself into a t-shirt you thought could fit you, well no amount of relating to another person’s struggle can prepare you for it.

I have had numerous attempts at weight loss, and all for different reasons. For a boy, for an occasion, to shut my family up, for a dress I badly wanted…the list could go on forever. But, I realise that the only I way I would not quit is if I just did it for myself. Not for a moment or glory, or for the transformation photos, but so I could give my body the love and care it deserves. So, I am trying. It’s not going to be an easy journey, for sure. I know I will have numerous weak moments. I will want to give up because I won’t see the results and major transformation that I hoped for, as quickly as I want it. I know that the minute someone says that I look like I lost weight, I will read it as a sign to relax. I will be tempted to eat out and drink more than I should. I will want to take an off because I am lazy and I want to sleep in. I will want to use the excuse of a bad day to bunk. But, I am going to try hard as hell to not let myself stand in the way of my betterment. I will come out of this stronger, fitter and happier. I will.

How To Get Over The “Love Of Your LIFE”

Step 1: Stalk him

Sure, it sounds antithetical to the idea of getting over someone. But, remember this: the ratio of how much you stalk the boy, his relatives, friends and all the exes and probable love-interests of his life is directly proportional to how miserable you will feel. Make sure you invest your time into this step, because the more you feel like shit, the more sooner you are likely to get over him. You stalk him till you can list all his allergies, the names of all his pets (dead and alive), his siblings and his favourite movies, books and bands, both forward and backwards.

Step 2: Text him and then give up on life

If you are going to spend 9 hours straight stalking someone, sure enough your fingers are going to start itching. Its just texting, you will tell yourself. Now, some of your friends will tell you to just be a bawse and do it, and others will tell you to get a life. Ignore all of them and listen to your vajayjay. What is it telling you? The more intensely you wish you could do him, the more important it is that you text him. One of three things will happen:

  • He will text you back and you will have a lovely conversation
  • You will get a chance to be a part of one of the worst text-conversations since the inception of mobile phones
  • He will never text you back

The thing is, either way, at the end of it, you will feel like shit, because conversation or not, he ain’t ever gonna be into you, gurl.

Step 3: Make plans:

Convince yourself that this rabbit hole you are digging for yourself will really help you move on and make plans with him. Maybe go out for a few drinks. As you catch up, eyes hazing from the few too many drinks, maybe make a move? Or make up your mind to do that and then chicken out so you can beat yourself up over how you will most certainly die alone when you go to sleep ALONE that night. Maybe you can also obssess over the tiny details of that night over and over again until you can no longer breathe.

Step 4: Convince yourself that he is into your friend

Why wouldn’t he? He is hot, so is she. He would be nuts not be into her. I mean, there is nothing new about the boys you like being into your friends. It is like the one constant thing about your life. So, when he says something in passing about your friend, like, ‘Oh, she seems nice’ or ‘I think she is a fun person’, convince yourself that the only thing that line could mean is, ‘I AM SO INTO HER!’

Step 5:Hate your friend for a brief moment

This is going to sound very non-Gloria Steinem of me, and it makes every feminist bone in my body cringe, but I can’t help it. Hating your friend, the one who rubbed your back as you puked your guts out into the toilet or bought you dinner one too many times so that you don’t starve yourself to death, because you believe they are better than you, and hence better for your crush than you, is an unavoidable step. For a second, you will allow yourself to imagine the worst nightmare of yours and lose your sanity.

Step 6: Tell yourself that you have gone crazy

Gurl, you tripping it so hard, you just might be demented. I mean, first of all, he doesn’t like your friend. Even if he did, what could you possibly do about it? You didn’t even hit on him when you had the chance. Remind yourself that you are being a lame cry-baby and just get over him, already.

Step 7: Turn to meditation

Breathe in. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Breathe out. 5, 4, 3…Oh just give up, already. How the hell is meditation going to help you? What you should do, is meet him again. This time, bring on your A-game—be witty and super-flirty. But, you will never see through that plan, are you?

Step 8: Oh, who are you kidding?

The only reason that he won’t look at you is cause you a butt-ugly fat-ass piece of shit who doesn’t deserve love. Give into that spiral of self-loathing and negativity and just soak it all in. Make sure you let yourself believe that you are absolutely worthless and that you will never find love or any sort of happiness, EVER.

Step 9: Night out with the girls

Here the real healing begins. Go out drinking with your friends and obsess over this boy who has probably forgotten what you even look like.The number of drinks you have is directly proportional to how much you will wail that night. Go out drinking with your friends and obsess over this boy who has probably forgotten what you even look like. Start by cry internally. Then cry out loud on your way back home and freak out the auto driver who will then spent the reminder of the journey trying to ensure that you are not suicidal. FUN! But, the harder you cry, more massive the hangover the next day. Make sure you wake up with the mother of all hangovers. The worse the hangover, the less energy you have to think of him. Before you know it, he is ancient history.

Step 10: He is so yesterday

Gurl, you hella cute and crazy smart. Any boy would be lucky to just walk with you. If he doesn’t get it, he doesn’t deserve you. You can do better anyway. What about that really cute, yet another way-out-of-your-league guy that you met the other day. Maybe you can start obsessing over him, and start the cycle all over again.

Step 10+ Oh, he has put up a story. Omg. How cute is he?

If only you could just turn it of just like that. Ugh. Why does he have to be so darn adorable? I hate my life!

Stages Of Dealing With The Loss Of An Electronic Device

Stage #1: No! Tell me I am dreaming

NO! NO! NO! This can’t be. Oh God! Just turn back the clocks to just a minute ago. You know, maybe your mind is playing tricks on you. Just go stand under a better light. Maybe, the screen isn’t really cracked. Maybe it is just in your head. 

Stage #2: Oh god! What have I done?

How could this have happened? I mean, I was just walking. What did I even trip on? Oh, there is the rod right there? Are you fucking blind? Of course, you are. How could you have tripped on that giant ass rod that is protruding for thr world to see? God! It really is broken, isn’t it?

Stage #3: I’m the biggest piece of shit that has ever lived

You should just go ahead and stop living. Just walk in front of that car. Actually, dont bother. You will probably screw that up as well. You were so close to making it to two whole years of keeping the phone safe. What are you even going to tell parent? Are you NUTS? You can’t tell them anything. Just live with the guilt on your own

Stage #4: At least it is still working

Is that a glitch? Did the screen just go multi-colour? Is that lines on the screen? Oh, I am just hyperventilating. Oh good god! I am just crying in the middle of the road now. Get a grip, lady! Pull yourself together. 

Stage #5: Jeez! Can I just curl into a ball and hide myself in a ditch somewhere?

Okay! The tears need to stop. Just stop. Breathe. 1. 2. 3. Inhale. 1. 2. 3. Exhale. 3. 2. 1. Just keep breathing. Just pause a second. Dust the muck off your body. Don’t forget to keep breathing. Just make it home so you can cry into your pillow. 

Stage #6: It’s not like you meant for this to happen

You fell. It is not like you threw the phone or something. I mean, let’s face it. There isn’t much you could have done to make sure this didn’t happen. Well, you could have looked where you were walking. Did you see anyone else fall down along the way? Nope, that was just you. Then again, it was an accident. You fell, dammit. 

Stage #7: Cry

Yeah, no point trying to stay strong. Just bawl and get it over with. Just crawl into bed, pull the covers over your head and cry like there is no tomorrow. You deserve a good cry. It is the one thing you are good at, after all. What if the phone stops working eventually? Given your luck, it probabaly will. You can’t afford a new phone now. What are you going to do? 

Stage #8: How much to fix this?

So, you bought this about 2 years ago. Gosh! You just had to make it to four more months to hit 2 whole years. So, it is probably not under warranty anymore. Daymn girl, why do you do this to yourself. Ooh! You could get a second-phone of the same model for 9k. Is it worth it? Your phone is still working. Maybe, replacing the screen won’t cost as much. Hopefully, you have until April to get it sorted. Ugh, MAN! You just got my laptop back. Hope you feel proud of yourself. 

Stage #9: 3k per month= 9k in 3 months

It possibly can’t cost more than 9k to fix it. How the hell are you going to manage to save 3k per month when you barely make it to the end of the month? If you do, you won’t even have to let parents know. What if the plan fails though? You should call and find out how much it would really cost. Ugh, what’s the point. Well, the point is you CANNOT afford another phone right now. 

Stage #10: Sleep

Just curl up into a ball, binge on some sitcom and wait for sleep to overtake, so you can wake up tomorrow with a new found extreme-level of self-loathing. In a couple of days you will feel better about it all, until you look at your phone again and see how you messed up. But hey, things could have been worse, yeah? 

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Here I am yet again on a Saturday night with no plans. Once again, it is just me, my bed and my laptop. It is not the fact that I don’t have anything going on, but the fact that it is going to be this way for a long time that really gets to me. I have begun to hate being alive. I have honestly no will to live. I have been joking around about how the only reason I am living is cause I am breathing, and if that had to stop I would be okay with it. The thing is, I wasn’t kidding around.

Lately, I feel like I don’t have many reasons to keep living. Well, I have no reason. I have stopped having dreams for myself. I have stopped believing in myself. I have stopped hoping that life will get better and worst of all , I have just stopped wanting to try. But, since I have no control over when my final breath will be, I have been trying to make the best of what I have. I have been trying so hard to stay positive and look at the brighter side of things. But some days, I just can’t cope. Today seems to be one of those days.

It wasn’t so bad when I woke up. In fact, it seemed like it would turn out to be a decent day. I ate my breakfast while I did my laundry. I felt so energetic, I did a second load. I came back to my room and cleaned up around. Then, I went ahead and re-arranged my cupbopard. It was only 11:00 and I had done more than I had the entire week. I was happy. Then came the call. The hundred calls about the lies to be spun and I was irritated. ‘No, you won’t let this ruin your day’, I reminded myself. I stepped out to collect my laptop. I should have been esctatic, but instead, I snapped at the auto guy for charging me 10 bucks more. I braced myself internally so I wouldn’t hurl my bag at the guy at the service centre for charging me 600 bucks more than he said he would just 10 days ago. I controlled my angry tears when I couldn’t get an auto back. ‘You just got your laptop, think of all you can get down today,’ I told myself. I put my head down and kept myself busy so I wouldn’t think about anything. I watched Scrubs as I made bookmarks for Radhika. Before I knew it, it was 8:00. Then, I made my way for dinner and saw how empty the dining hall was. My food was far more saltier than it was meant to be.

People don’t get it. To be honest, I don’t know how to explain it to them either. Sometimes, I am with people who I call friends and I just still feel so alone. Sometimes I am alone and I couldn’t be happier. Somedays, I jusy want to curl up in a ball and never wake up. The other day I was sitting with Sarah and admiring the big old banyan tree in college and I just wanted to put pause on the world and just cry. I was telling her how disappointed I had been with the city and the college. We talked about how things could always change and then quicly accepted that it was unlikely for it to happen in the next year. As I stared at the big, mighty tree, I realised that so much about me and my life are so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Then, I began wondering if there was a plan for me in this so-called grand scheme. I have been waiting for years now for so many little and big things in my life–things I don’t really have control over– to change and it hasn’t. Maybe, this is just the rest of my life and I just couldn’t bear the thought. I wanted to burst into tears. But, instead, I went and taught some kids.

I hate feeling this way and the past few months I have been trying hard to not let myself swim within that pool of self-pity. That is why I started volunteering. So that my days would fill up and I hoped that it would make me less angry. Starting my bullet-journal was a big part of this effort to gain some modicum of control over my emotions. It is a way for me to channel my time and energy, while also creating a space where I can out good vibes and memories. Some days though, it just doesn’t cut it. The light that I am trying to spread out pf me isn’t enough to drive away the darkness within. I just seem to be painting it all over with a big thick coat of black over and over again.

I know that maybe I will wake up tomorrow and feel different. Maybe, I should just focus on that and worry about the next bad day when it comes. But, the thing that really bothers me is that when I am having my bad days, I will be all alone all over again, trying to fix my soul a little piece at a time and just crumbling down all over again because it is so darn hard. But, that’s what I got to do, right? Fot as long as I breathe because no one can save me from myself, except for me? I wish I knew how, though. But, I know I will get there. I just have to.

Musings ❀

Musings ❀

It has been two days since I have interacted with anyone face-to-face. I have been lying in bed, binging on food and The Mentalist. Every now and then I have this thought. What if I never have anyone lying next to me in bed? What if years from now, I will be in a room, a much better, a much prettier room, lying on a bed, sprawled up next to a laptop and not a single soul around of you? It makes me sad–those kick you in the gut, squeeze your heart real tight till you can’t breathe kinda sad.

Suddenly, I had this thought. Imagine I make my career as a freelance writer. I will eventually move into a nice place, all by myself because I have grown tired of roommates and I have no significant other. I don’t have anywhere to be, so I spend my days just lying in bed, a few too many sizes bigger, binging on shows and food.

I shudder at the thought.