New Endings…before new beginnings

That’s always been the paradigm for me.  Before I get excited about the new beginning part, I get overwhelmed with the new ending that precedes it.New beginnings signal that life as we know it is going to come to an end.  In tough times, that’s a relief; but often, life as we know it, is life as we love it.

And when change knocks on that door, it comes with a bag of mixed feelings. Nostalgia, fear, nervous excitement…

Nostalgia has always been a tough cookie for me. Safe to say, I have no idea how to deal with this emotion. It hits me the minute I have to make a big change, and I’m left wondering, should I look back at happy memories and feel good… or sad that they’re over?  If I miss the past or about to be past so much, then do I want to go back to it or make time standstill, or make progress and move on?

My personal record has been to move on but not without the memories in tow – souvenirs, mementos, I carry my entire life till-date with me that makes every commute a bitch and settling a bigger bitch. Letting go doesn’t come naturally and logically to me, as a result of which, my past lands up becoming present perfect. It is perfect in the present because that’s how it always is. In hindsight, everything was always possible and perfect. Isn’t it always just in the present that perfection evades us?

Memories overwhelm me, good and bad. A heavy heart always limits that skip in the step towards the new and I’m thinking about all of this suddenly because I find myself doing the same thing all over again. In about 20 days, I’m going to have to change cities again, get back to studying after 3 years of working, and that brings its attendant responsibilities: making new friends, discovering new places, etc.  With that, the apprehension that will today’s present, the one that I love, ever return?

But that’s the thing.  I don’t think it’s meant to return. Life is full of new endings and new beginnings. The only sense I can make of it then, is that nostalgia is a pre-programmed emotion within us to be able to process this continuous change. Because it’s not always possible to just get up and leave without looking back. Because what has passed is the anchor that hosts what will happen.

Over the years, every move and change has helped me grow. I’ve been influenced by every city I’ve lived in. For instance, growing up in Mumbai, above all things, taught me about ambition. The restlessness, money, crowds, melting pots of people and down to earth glamor taught me to aspire for the best, yet stay grounded.

In Boston during my M.A. , I discovered another important thing about myself – that I operate best when I’m in discomfort. It taught me about hard work and survival – from managing a personal budget to compromising the small pleasures for the big goals.

Delhi, and this is highly grudgingly accepted, as I get ready to bid goodbye to it, also taught me something. For those of you who don’t know the city, it is known (notorious) for its flashy loud culture that is founded in blatant acquisition and display of the big brands and names. While Mumbai remains the fashion capital of India, the real fashion haven is in Delhi. Not a fan of the city when I moved here 3 years back, I have now realized that somewhere along the way, in an invisible, yet highly resisted process, I picked up on this flashiness, not as a way of life, but as a way of self-motivation.  Delhi taught me how to reward personal successes with frivolous, yet meaningful acquisitions that can sustain aspirations. Being the place where I got my first job, first promotion, first pay hike, it taught me that nothing succeeds like success and what’s a little success without a little reward like the first LV bag, or Armani sunglasses?

As I gear up to make my next move (third in 6 years), I know I will have to first get past this nostalgia phase again to finally arrive at the nervous excitement for the future. And so this time, I’m prepared for it. But once it does pass and I’ve consolidated what has passed here, the new-ness will bring hope that all new beginnings do, the fear of the unknown that brings spice to life, but most of all, the smug smile over the fact that fear of change and another ending did not stop me from moving on, from making progress…

That life as we know it, became life as we knew it, right when that second passed. You never know what happens next – but at least we have nostalgia to process the constant churn.

To new endings…

 
 

Cheers and Clinks! (2007, the Last Night at Boston)

Cheers and Clinks! (2007, the Last Night at Boston)

 

Life Without Carbs – Big McDull

Food and I

I have been on a low-carb diet for 3 whole days, and I think I’ve lost more of my sense of humor than weight. 

Gaucomole n Carbs

Gaucomole n Carbs

Procrastination takes a new meaning when you put away exercising for so long, leaving it for the last 5 days before the event that you’re trying to lose weight for and then you know no matter how much you exercise, you’re not going to lose anything but your mind, praying and willing for inches to fall off.

I have severely exceeded my feed limit in the past few weeks, and so I am forced to go off the  item I love most in the food universe – carbohydrates.  Yes, I crave bread like normal people would crave chocolate,   or wine, or cheese.  Today, I went to a café (rookie mistake, why would I go to a café when I can’t eat bread?).  I ordered some wine (some would argue I should be off-wine and not carbs, but I dismiss that on the grounds that wine makes me laugh and laughing is exercise). And then I ordered, ahem, a salad. To avoid seeing other people relish the joy of bread-ing, I selected the scantily populated outdoor seating. That, however, was not enough to keep the occasional whiff of fresh oven-baked bread heaven air from hitting me time and again. Three times of that and there – goodbye happiness.  Life without carbs has been dull, but it’s not just that, I also noticed I’m a lot crankier, slower to catch or throw humor, and disoriented. Essentially then, for me, it seems, food is happiness.  

dessert

dessert

Anyway, last few days have left me in a hungry daze – intelligent hungry daze because I seem to be intellectualizing everything from self-control to happiness to anxiety (you can see the disorientation). The thing is, in the past few weeks, I’ve been content and happy.  Not that I’m not that usually, but there are certain points in life, when an invisible contentment takes over, hitting you randomly in a car ride, or in the shower or while watering plants.  That slow simmering equilibrium that you notice even more after emerging from some form of unrest or uncertainty. This balance is blissful in that I have worked hard for it, earned it and most importantly,  know how to sustain it to some degree. Don’t worry, there has been no catastrophe, I’m a drama queen more than anything else. But past few months have certainly  tested patience, resilience and the efficacy of personal survival toolkit.  I’m reminded of this today because I read a fellow blogger’s post on how everything eventually passes and becomes okay. Sometimes it takes longer than it should, but then nothing and no one is punctual these days, are they?

The Tom-Yum Day

The Tom-Yum Day

This relates to food, because in the past year I’ve discovered, that food is an important part of my glamorized survival toolkit. Whoever coined the term comfort food knew what (s)he was talking about. No matter what the situation, as long as one is blessed with penny in the pockets and the strong personal characteristic of being a foodie, one has at his or her disposable the most consistent companion of chow.  A hot yummy fresh meal, served right off the oven, boasts of warmth and health for me. Sometimes also of new beginnings, hopes and even memories. I’ve thought plenty of old times, good and bad, while eating familiar meals. But every time I ate and remembered, I smiled at the memory that may have otherwise caused some cringing. When I dig into my steaming hot tom yum noodle soup,  I sense the anxiety of impending elephant tasks, slowly slipping away.  Think about it, when we travel to a new place, its food that first connects us to it, taking away the discomfort of an unknown territory. Maybe that’s why the basics of food, clothing, shelter are designated as basics. As we grow up, we aspire, we desire, and  then perspire to achieve all that (apologies for the limerick, couldn’t stifle it), but as adults, we often forget that all our infant selves needed, was a well-fed tummy to retain those gleeful toothy grins.

Friendly Lobster from Maine

Friendly Lobster from Maine

And so, as I temporarily abstain from carbs, and try to wishfully shrink my waist, I’m happy to make note that as I grow older, make more mistakes, harbor more of  reasonable and some unreasonable fears, step into predictable pitfalls and all that natural wonderful stuff, I am lucky enough to rely on my love for food and  as I like to believe, its love for me, to get me by.  Let food and I continue to be on our honeymoon, and let temporary abstinence only make us fonder and stronger.

Amen.

Options>>Delete Cookies – in real life?

All I’ve read recently are my own B-School essays.  As much because of lack of time, as because of a chain of uninspiring reads. I haven’t had much time to travel or watch movies either, and hence the virtual absence since October. I promise to catch up though; I’m working on the top 100 books of all times and evading my own book purchase decisions for a bit by relying on friends’ recommendations (currently reading – Secret Garden by Frances Burnett).

Delete Cookies

That was a mini-defense for preparing to deviate from the theme of this blog; but I really do want to write about my current reads – my application essays. Maybe I’ll post them here once I’m done and lose my entire readership and people will understand what I meant by my initial warning of having a “monkey mind”. But there is a point to this, I promise.  The process for writing these works of art really did get my ruminative juices flowing.  Yes, business school essays got me ruminating.

Have you ever considered the amount of interesting introspection that goes in these applications? I say introspective because questions on your background, choices, accomplishments, strengths/weaknesses etc really make you think hard…and interesting – because this thinking is not for reminiscing, or reflecting or discovering yourself, but for selling yourself.

 Now that changes perspective entirely – all of a sudden you’re not only introspective, you’re retrospective. If I had chosen Math as a joint major, it would make it easier to discuss why I really want to go with microfinance after I graduate. I can and will contribute to the diversity of Class of 2012 given my rich educational record of study in International Relations, but shouldn’t I have then done IR in say, Denmark instead of plain old Boston, USA?

 You get the picture. In all this retrospection, I realized I was constantly looking for a fresh perspective and angles to sell my experience. Unfortunately, once you go through an incoherent first draft, it’s kind of hard to shake out of the incoherence of it and look at the last draft afresh…similar, I would say, to many things in life.

 It makes you wonder, this retrospection thing – wouldn’t it be great if we could just not want to change a thing in retrospect? What is in retrospect anyway, who created this? I think retrospection makes us futureskeptical – skeptical about the future, given how awfully awry some of our choices have finally landed up being. It mars our thinking going forward because no more are choices about the here and now, but about what was and has been that we affectionately term experience.

 Experience is all very good when it augments our future decisions, but it also has a tendency to become a baggage many times in daily life. Can’t we perhaps delete cookies when we want? For instance, I would definitely delete cookies with my first driving experience, which was comedic and horrifying at the same time. I have since never been able to conquer what has now become a monster task for me. I would like to delete that first experience and start over. This is top of mind recall because in a city like Delhi, you absolutely must know driving to get around.

 Let’s see…I severely need deleting cookies at work too. A consistent feedback on my essays – the tone of the content was all business speak, where is the personal, aspirational touch.  To quote one of my wise friends, “Adding value is an ugly industrial term. Do you want to be a faceless value-adding cog in the wheel!”  Somewhere in the midst of “adding value” at work and “communicating impact fully” in sales meetings and “forging mutually beneficial” partnerships, I lost touch with my personal conversational style. Certainly could do with fresh perspective at work.

 But what would life really be without growth from the past? In love, deleting cookies probably means going back to our first relationship – most of us would probably delete the word relationships from our vocabularies if we had to go through that again! If you don’t feel this way, then, you may not enjoy this post. If you do, then think of this as a microcosm representative of deleting cookies in other spheres of life. 

 The truth is deleting cookies is not so attractive when actually applied to life. Think about it, even B-schools rephrase their questions to get to the bottom of your “biggest mistake”, “why a personal goal could not be met”, “what is the one thing you would want to change from your past choices”.  B-school people are busy people. Busy people don’t waste time on questions that don’t mean anything; it seems to be an institutionalized fact that imperfections create stars.

 And of course, retrospection is almost always accompanied by its half-sister – regret. But there is no end to the “what if” cycle of our minds. As someone rightly said “There is no end to regret. You cannot find the beginning of the chain that brought us from there to here. Should u regret the whole chain, and the air in between, or each link separately as if you could uncouple them? Do you regret the beginning which ended so badly or just the ending itself?”

 And so as I thought about it more, I kind of started buying into the whole spiritual idea of keeping the experiences, but letting go of the negativity. Don’t worry, I’m not a fan of Buddha, or rather Buddha is not a fan of me.  I can think about something upsetting that happened years back and still get all red, angry and dramatic about it. But I like to think I’m getting better at deleting cookies in real life.  Not with computerized clicks but with the awesome can-be done-yourself toolkits only humans can boast of: sleep, humor, friends, wine, food…and giant chocolate chip cookies the size of my head.

 **Coming up next, Christmas and New Years specials

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