Sunday, December 9, 2012

Getting over surprises

And the first surprise is: I haven't abandoned the blog! So,, here goes...nothing. I have no idea what to say. Me, super responsible and conscientious, have not been near blogosphere for almost 4 months. Properly ashamed am I for those who have missed me. You are all very kind. But after getting no comments on my last post, I was convinced that no one missed me and a short absence would go unnoticed. Only trouble was, the short absence became much longer than intended. Believe me, college life, especially with the semester system is more busy than carefree for students (movies really do exaggerate the "fun" of college life)

So yes, I do have many things about college I would love to share. In fact, I'd even made a list of things which surprised me about college. Now when I look back at it, I've been more of an old fashioned person than I thought.

1. Teachers wearing jeans and...being young - Guess my old fashioned mind is too used to seeing my teachers in salwar kameez and sari. But after seeing my teachers like this, sometimes with chic tops too, I had to cheer them on!

2. Calculators in the exams - I cannot even describe how truly happy I felt when we were told in class that we would be allowed to use calculators even in our maths exam. I felt like squealing the news to everyone that day. My source of happiness was of course that I would no longer make silly mistakes in calculations. It is true they compensated for this by giving tougher calculations, but at least my answers have a better chance of being right ;)

3. Girls choosing to go to the library for the fiction and study - Once again I was ecstatic at discovering that many girls of my class read novels with interest and preferred the library. I saw girls sitting in our common room and just reading by themselves in their free periods. Finally, it is not unfashionable for me to have my nose in a book!

4. Elections - Since politics was never very interesting to me, I've become quite used to knowing just a little bit about the more prominent politicians. And anyone would agree with me that here the males outnumber the females. So it was quite a surprise for me when a senior walked into my class in the days preceding the elections and began making all kinds of promises to every one of our college societies. There was actually canvassing going around me with all the "Vote ___" badges going around, seniors telling us to vote for people in our own department and often, candidates dropping in to tell us all about themselves and what they would do.

Right now I'm enjoying holidays after my semester exams. I'll sign off now. I don't promise to be regular, but I promise to come back a couple of times before the end of the year :)

Monday, August 20, 2012


Just 5 remarkable college experiences:

1. Interacting with Celebrities - The students of SRCC organised 'Youth Conference 2012'. I got to hear and ask questions from people like Suhel Seth (a political commentator, among many other things), Ajay Chaturvedi (who initiated the innovative rural project 'harva') and the one whom many of the girls came for (!) Gaurav Kapoor (actor, VJ, RJ...). It was so nice to see that celebrities are ordinary people like us and to imagine that we could reach the same level too.

2. Dealing with Disappointment - I didn't clear the second rounds of the debating or western music society auditions. And the Indian music one was a fiasco as well. But what I've learned it - there are some times when you just have to accept that things didn't work out the way you wanted. Accept that and move on, and keep believing that things will be better soon.

3. The endless stream of opportunities - At least five new posters clamour for my attention when I enter college everyday. Numerous competitions, placement announcements, offers to be campus ambassadors for companies and "vote for ___" are the posters on every noticeboard. It feels strange to realize that so much was going on in the world while we were caught up with school! Sometimes the world feels bigger than before and sometimes it feels smaller ;)

4. The difficulty of getting back to studies - The teachers are teaching, the students are taking notes...but how many are actually studying? It's a difficult question to answer. Perhaps it's because there isn't the closeness of school or maybe because nobody wants to be seen as a geek, but nobody is really discussing their study patterns or methods. It gives a false sense of security to think that if everyone else is planning to manage without studies, maybe you can too. But just as I start to relax, I remember one thing: most of the students in my class are science and commerce students who actually managed to cross those high cutoffs. No doubt there are lots of 'chhupe rustams' among them!

5. Strangers are not so bad - I had my first metro and bus rides alone and also my first few days in college, all in the company of complete strangers. But I was surprised by how nice some of them are. Many of my college seniors and the random passengers I met on the bus were so nice that I felt silly for being nervous about talking to them!

I wrote in my last post - "...going back to regular studies again, especially with every teacher sternly repeating that this is "College and not school", is a little jarring. The syllabus seems simple but the teachers teach it as if it's a jack-in-the-box and some horrific thing is going to pop out soon. The syllabus is the least of anyone's concerns however, when everyone is still making friends and griping about the weather. We're all really hoping that time speeds up so we can reach and experience the "fun" things that college is supposed to be about."

Guess "the fun" is here ! 

p.s. keep smiling :)  

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I return; wiser in some ways, more foolish in others

I've been imitated so well I've heard people copy my mistakes.

- Jimi Hendrix

It's been a long, long, long, long time since I wrote on my blog. Apologies to all my friends whose posts I've missed out on and apologies to all those who were hoping to see posts from me (thanks for hoping). I'm not dead, merely in a sabbatical.

Most of you might know that the boards and their results are old news. It's been a week since college session started in Delhi University, where I secured a seat. Sadly though, I wasted a lot of time regretting not having studied harder for the boards and not getting a better college (hence no post for so long. I had to force myself to write this one).

But I won't write more about that. The exciting part was visiting a number of the prominent DU colleges to try my luck in the extra curricular activities' trials. My sports abilities are average, so I gave it my best shot in debating. None of them worked out, but it was fun visiting the campuses and chatting with the other hopefuls.

In these months, I spent a lot of time worrying about the future, but I also spent a little time exploring. I spent a delightful day visiting Hauz khas village and the Fort. Luckily, the day I went, there was no more than weak sunshine at intervals and it was fresh and breezy. It was a real treat walking around the HUGE lake, clicking pictures and watching all the squirrels and ducks in the surrounding park.

But now before anyone asks, college has been nice too. Of course, the first few days everyone made sure to dress well (but it's loosened up now). I've made some friends. I like the clean, green, unpolluted campus and the three-storey library.

But I have to admit, going back to regular studies again, especially with every teacher sternly repeating that this is "College and not school", is a little jarring. The syllabus seems simple but the teachers teach it as if it's a jack-in-the-box and some horrific thing is going to pop out soon. The syllabus is the least of anyone's concerns however, when everyone is still making friends and griping about the weather. We're all really hoping that time speeds up so we can reach and experience the "fun" things that college is supposed to be about.

I've had free time, so I used some of it to join Facebook. Understandably, my friends were shocked :P But I still miss them. What I wouldn't give to have one more full school day with my old teachers and everyone in uniform? *sigh*
I also drew up a list of things for me to complete by the end of the year which consists of absolutely unrelated things like "Draw 5 drawings/paintings" and "Meditate on 30 days". It's hard for me to settle on doing one thing for a long time, hence the varied to-dos to keep me busy when I'm alone.

And of course, there's the staple: I watched movies (The King's speech is marvellous) and read books.

I've had a little too much time for self reflection. Am still working on ways to forgive myself. And also on really accepting that other people are different, and have a right to be. I haven't dealt with all my dealt with all my bad habits. I haven't achieved all the things I dreamed of. I haven't stopped being afraid of making mistakes. I'm not yet free from every worry that weighs me down.

OH wait, and there's still the matter of discovering my identity.

There are a lot of hopes riding on college. So here's a fresher signing off!

- Charu

Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.

-Lucy Maud Montgomery

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The story of the storytellers - 2

(The first part of 'The story of the storytellers' can be found here)

Please welcome this week's writer : Baba Vaniteshwar from Saucy Jane 

" I'm the cat's meow,the bees's knees,the dog's whiskers. "

Your favourite hobbies aside from writing? How do you unwind?
 I paint, or just mess about with paint. Also, lately photography has put a spell on me.

Do you believe we need inspiration to write? Is your writing planned or spontaneous? Do you take out time regularly for writing?
 My writing is mostly spontaneous. Sometimes I'm watching a movie or just doing something random thing and BANG! An idea hits me.
Though sometimes, people or things do give me some inspiration.
Nah, I don't take time out for writing. Somehow I can't force myself to write anything. It comes to me.

Now that you're a better writer (I'm sure you are!), what advice would you have given to your past self if you could?
 I still have a long way to go as a writer but if I could advice my past-self I'd say-You're not writing for anyone else but yourself. Don't be afraid to let the ink flow.

Do you prefer any particular genre or do you just freestyle in your writing?
 I freestyle. Though, I avoid romance & philosophy.

The best thing about being a writer?
 This might take a while =)
         When you start writing, you get transported into a world which is wholly yours.

Your milestones and favourite moments as a writer? Any you're proud of?
 Ah, when I was in the fifth grade, my English teacher read my fiction post and was amazed. She told me I would go a long way if I would improve on my writing. I did. 
One favourite moment was when my essay was published in The Young World. It was then I knew I simply have to be a journalist.

And the age old classic, any advice for aspiring writers? 
 The same thing I would have told my past-self-let the ink flow.

The nicest compliment you've ever received for your writing or the way you write?
      That I create magic with words. ^_^

What question would you ask your favourite writer(s)?
 When is the next book coming out?

What are your thoughts on writer's block? If you've ever had it, how did you get through it?
 Writer's block. My life long nemesis.
To get over it, I just write. Even if it is random senseless ramblings, I just write.

What are your plans for and where do you see yourself in the near future?
 It changes everyday. One day I want to become a journalist, the next day I want to become a world famous artist.

Any author or personality, dead or alive, you would like to meet or work with? Any recent favourite book?
 I would LOVE to work with J.R.R.Tolkien.
         Recent favourite book-The city of Djinns & Palace of illusions.

What words would you use to describe yourself as a writer or a person?
 Eclectic, different, a wandering soul.

 If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
 A Comedy Of Errors.

How much of your writing is inspired from real life?
 Pretty much most of it is drawn from my own experiences and feelings.

Anything you would like to change or improve in yourself as a writer, blogger or person? 
 I wish I were more free in putting what's in my mind on paper.

Any other question that you wish I'd asked? What would be the answer? 
 You pretty much hit the nail on the head :)

Anything small or big that has frustrated you recently?
 My inexcusably bad performance in the recent exams.

What's one of your biggest dreams? 
 To have people come up to me and say “ I love your book! Would you please sign my copy? It's for my daughter. She wants to be like you one day”. [ I'm an egomaniac, sue me] :D

Share your thoughts please!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Birds - we've grown up with them!

Most of you might not remember that almost a year ago I started a series called Saving the earth. In it I suggested that we all do something to help the environment based on our inclinations and limitations. Recently I discovered an initiative on the net which I hope most of us would take part in.

You'll find the homepage of the Citizen  Sparrow Initiative hereThe project is run by the Bombay Natural History Society, together with a group of organisations interested in nature, birds and conservation from all across the country. Here is the introduction on their website:

House Sparrows -- who can resist these chirpy, cheerful and charming birds? 

Sparrows are found all over the world, almost everywhere that humans live. But strangely, sparrow populations have been in decline in many parts of the world, for reasons that are still unclear, although hotly debated! In India, sparrows used to be found in great abundance in all our cities, towns and villages; but sadly not any more. 

Where are sparrows still found in India? Where were they found before? In which places have they declined the most? 

The answers to these questions are crucial if we are to discover what ails them, and how to bring them back. 

You can help!

By spending 5 minutes documenting the presence or absence of sparrows in localities you know well, both at present and at any time in the past, you will join enthusiasts all over the country in helping sparrows. 

You will be asked a brief set of questions, including the precise location of areas you know (or knew) well, aspects of the habitat in these localities, sparrow presence or absence in these localities, and optional information about things like locations of nests, amount of green space, and so on. The questionnaire is very simple to fill, and there is also space for you to share your favourite sparrow stories

I can vouch for the fact that it takes very little time to create an account and contribute your observations and stories. 

This is their 'How-to' page which has all the instructions =>

You'll find a full map of people's observations here=>

People's stories about sparrow are here =>

The campaign has been extended till the 15th of June. Please, please take out some time if you can to look up this initiative and contribute something to it. Help in saving the innocent little bird that we have all grown up adoring before they vanish altogether!  

Update: Just came across an article in the Hindustan Times, June 5. The Nature Forever Society is launching a campaign called 'Bird of the Month' to raise awareness about 18 common bird species found across India.  It seems very much on the lines of the Citizen Sparrow initiative, except that there are more birds, like mynah and pigeon that are being observed. If you're interested in being a part of their 'Common Bird Monitoring of India' program, you can check out their very cool site at

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The story of the storytellers

Think back to the time you read something great - a poem, a story, an article, anything. How did it feel?

When I read something great, I feel sad when I reach the end. Sure, I'm happy with a good ending, but I do feel rather bad that the journey is over. And I always wonder, "Wow! How did that he/she think this up? Why didn't I think of writing something like that? Oh, I wish I could see more of something like this! ". Then I spend the couple of days in a kind of daze, remembering all the characters and dialogues :D

I don't want to analyse a writer's use of language. It's up to me to develop my skills in those areas. But I really do want to know more about them as people. What can I learn about them that will help me grow, as a writer and a person?

So, months go, I decided to go direct. I decided to interview some of my favorite bloggers. I sent out emails to them. I sent a long list of questions and asked them to answer as many as they wished.

And now, enough of the exams and results, here is the first 'interview'

*Drumroll* Please welcome, Vanessa Rowe from Writing Revived

"Digging around about Life's situations and events... exploring experiences... with a dash of philosophy thrown in, in addition to thoughts on relationships one comes across in Life"

Your favourite hobbies aside from writing? How do you unwind?
Singing, humming my favourite tunes, whistling or just playing pranks on my loved ones. Oh, add reading novels and being a couch potato to that list too.

Do you believe we need inspiration to write? Is your writing planned or spontaneous? Do you take out time regularly for writing?
Inspiration – We are all inspired unconsciously. We read something, or watch a show, or discuss ideas – and in all this relay of communication some thought strikes us and we write it down – so we are inspired directly or indirectly.
Till now, my writing has mostly bordered on the spontaneous side, unless you count submitting articles for school/college magazines – which then had a deadline, word limit and genre limitation. And since I write spontaneously, I don’t take out time for writing unless I’m extremely bored and bogged-to-death with monotony.

Do you think you've grown as a person in your writing journey? How?
More than ‘grown’, I feel that I’ve ‘changed’ as a person. I started out as a motivational-philosophical writer, but after a year I started experimenting with my style – I entered blog contests, poetry sessions, I read different styles of writing and imitated some of them – I guess I wanted to see how varied I could be with my writing.

Any writer or person who you think has influenced your own style of expressing yourself when it was coming up?
Haahaa, didn’t think that such a question would come up… Hadn’t ever thought of this before – I guess, Khalil Gibran and Paulo Coelho – they made a tremendous impact on me when I first read their works and you can see some of their ‘style’ reflected in my early posts. It’s not an accurate style of theirs, but a part of my individuality mixed with theirs.

Now that you're a better writer (I'm sure you are!), what advice would you have given to your past self if you could?
I have always been a backward learner – my past self always does things better than my present self, but then my present self will one day be my past self… but I am meandering, sorry. On reflecting for quite some time, I now see that my past self did have a chink missing and I would tell her (my past self) to “go ahead with experimentation in writing but retain the individual style that belongs only to us/me. Always preserve the initial passion and soul that you first began with.”

Do you prefer any particular genre or do you just freestyle in your writing?
Hmm… again, I started out with a motivational/philosophical/self-help genre, but of late I’ve been exploring the music/books/critic/causes genres. Now and then, I venture into my old phase of self-improvement topics. It’s fun being diverse!

The best thing about being a writer?
The best thing, about being a writer, for me, would be my ability to express clearly those views which I am unable to express verbally.

Your milestones and favourite moments as a writer? Any you're proud of?
Well, the highlights of being a writer is that various websites, online writers groups and online magazines request me to write articles with them. The best was when I was invited to be a Guest Columnist with The Viewspaper – it is an online news website for the Youth and it has been nice writing for them. (Plus, one of my dreams was to be a columnist – I didn’t imagine I would become one so fast!)

And the age old classic, any advice for aspiring writers?
Aah, I have been waiting for such a question :D
Hello all you aspiring writers, let’s start you off: 

One - Stop being an ‘aspiring writer’ and just be ‘A Writer’.

Two – ‘Write whatever you feel like.’ (I seriously mean it, hang all the rules).

Three – ‘Write whenever you feel like.’ (This is very important – don’t write just for the sake of writing)

Four – Enjoy life, put your talents to good use and follow your passions! (Yeah, it’s a 3-in-1 point :D)

The nicest compliment you've ever received for your writing or the way you write?
Ohh, I really can’t pick any… Being a writer/blogger I understand how much time, attention and thought goes into visiting a blog, reading the posts and commenting - and that’s the nicest compliment of all!

What question would you ask your favourite writer(s)?
Oh, this is a good question! I would probably ask my favourite writer the following questions:

How do you maintain your writing style?

Will you be betraying yourself if you get influenced by someone else’s style of writing?

NOTE: I don’t normally plan such things, so on the spot I’ll just pop up with some more questions for them J

Have you ever mentored or encouraged an aspiring writer? If yes, what was it like? If not, would you like to?
I have mentored a few of my friends – not in the exact ‘sense’ of ‘mentored’, but I did give them the occasional push, nudge and motivation to write and create a blog! It requires quite a sustained effort on the ‘motivator’s’ end to get the individuals to write, and this continues when the individuals start neglecting their blogs due to work/college/health issues/family issues/boredom. But, I don’t push them too much if they don’t feel like it – they will write whenever they feel like – even if that may be after 2 years. NOTE: If anyone needs a push/nudge/motivation to start writing you now know who to contact J

What are your thoughts on writer's block? If you've ever had it, how did you get through it?
Aaaarghhhh… the dreaded writer’s block – it has assaulted me innumerable times as has been apparent on my blog – whenever you see a gap of 3-4 weeks, you can be assured it is this monster that stalked me that month. Jokes aside, the first time I had writer’s block was, believe it or not, in an examination hall. There I was, ink pen in hand, answer sheet before me, hand clutching my head while my mind remained vacant as I tried to pen down something on ‘Global Warming and its effects’. I know, easy topic, but blank mind at the time! Thankfully, over the years I have learnt some secrets to overcome this mental agony – Shut off! Chill out, stop worrying about it, unless your boss is breathing over your head, or your submission time is up – in that case, do a few mental tricks, like practice your maths times-table (you know, 2*2=4, 5*2=11, ooops sorry, 10), recall a favourite song/movie/dialogue/quote – and bingo! Something will strike and you’ll be able to defeat that ugly writer’s block!

What are your plans for and where do you see yourself in the near future?
I don’t look too much into the future, and I never plan too much – I go with the flow of life, and my life has always taken me to places that are pretty interesting! My life has always given me what I’ve needed without me asking for them. So, I’m sure that I’ll be in an interesting place in the near future J

Any author or personality, dead or alive, you would like to meet or work with? Any recent favourite book?
Oh yes, yes, yes!! Ruskin Bond ! I am longing to meet him and talk with him… In fact, I’m planning a trip this year to his town just to see him! I hope it works out! Anyone one want to join?

What words would you use to describe yourself as a writer or a person?
Oh my! Really!?! Oh-kay… As a writer, I would say that I’m experimental, spontaneous and easy-to-read (as in, you don’t have to rush for a dictionary while reading my pieces).
As a person – Loyal (I’m doggedly loyal to anything that is close to my heart).

What have you learned about life as a writer or as a person?
Ooooh, a philosophical question! Just my type J I’m still in the process of learning about life, but what I do know till now is that Life is Life – Life may keep you alive and Life may make you die, but in the end, we all can’t do without it, no matter how much we may curse it from time to time. I love my life – in the good and after the bad is over :D (okay, that was just a joke), but I do love life in it’s entirety.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
My Best Friend – Life!

A favourite memory that still gives you a warm glow inside?
My ever favourite memory is when a reader actually composed a song using my poem for the lyrics! He took the effort to compose a tune, sing and record the whole song – and then presented it to me! Regardless to say, I was speechless! J

What's one of your biggest dreams?
Ahh, I don’t really have any BIG dreams as such. I have little, small and cute dreams which I hope to reach. But my one favourite dream is to form a Nursery School on a hill-station after I retire. I would love to teach children!


What do you think? Next interview up after a week!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Beginning again

Words and feelings that would pour out into the conscious world have retreated, scared away by the interruptions, rituals and expectations of the man made system (exams!). The page glances at me coolly and says, "I have no expectations from you. I give you no help. Whatever you have ever done was by you yourself." My pen sees me with reproach. It is full of resentment at my neglect. It questions my optimism. 
But all I can think is , "Old feelings can be revived and new words can be practiced. It is only ever the heart, not the pen, which runs dry ".

Restarting writing was harder than I thought. Darn! I'd hoped to make my comeback with a nice piece of writing. But I'm fed up of waiting for inspiration to strike or the 'mood' to hit. I'll just hope that the quote " Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking" is right.

Nothing particularly exciting from my end. I've spent time returning to one of my favorite hobbies: reading novels! And I got a great start when a friend lent me "Palace of Illusions". I've also spent some time messing around with my new phone: A blackberry 9860.

School is now over of course and my batch is waiting for the results of board exams. And that's not to mention the preparation we're all putting into entrance tests for Law, management, mass comm., hotel management, english and more from many different universities. To all student who are working hard right now, I say "salaam!" It takes some strength of mind to move straight from board exams - the time we were all looking forward to - to entrance exams, which feel even more tough!

Can't think of anything creative or witty for now. But I'll be back soon! I distinctly remember that in February, I was trying to convince myself that there is a life beyond board exams ;)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Candid confessions of a board exam student

To anyone looking for a pick-me-up post, this might not be it.

Let's get one fact straight. My board exams are on till the 16th of April.

Every conversation I've had for the last month has started with the question, "So, when are the exams finishing?" Then the conversation ends with "Oh, you poor thing!" Sadly, repeatedly discussing a fact doesn't change it :(

When I received my board datesheet about a month before they started, I was happy. So much time to prepare for every difficult subject. What more could one ask for?

But as the days came and went, the motivation slipped. The thrill of giving the last exam of my school life petered out. The tension, the wish that everything would go well faded. The first few exams, I was nervous. But by now, there is more of complacency. In fact, I'm ashamed to admit that in these holidays, I've probably spent more time in front of the TV and my computer than in front of my books. I studied next to nothing before my Maths exam and it only had 2 days of holidays. Normally, the adrenaline would kick in and I'd work furiously hard, but this time - nothing.

Now, I'm not a stranger to the the "I don't feel like studying" feeling. My friends almost expect a call from me before the exam, complaining to them that I don't feel like studying. Over the years, I've developed a number of tricks to get myself to snap out of it. Visits to the park, telephone conversations with friends and relatives, asking doubts from my teachers, sleeping(!), listening to songs I haven't heard for a long time,putting up motivational posters etc.etc. Only this time, they all seem to be failing. Not one method is bringing back that spark of determination which would carry me through the exams. Even in these days I'm procrastinating for studying on my Geography exam. This is probably my last attempt - a write up on my blog.

The following two pieces were written by me on a small notepad during my holidays. They are just emotional outbursts, condensed. This is one of the ways in which I try to psyche myself by getting into my deepest thoughts by writing.

What is wrong with me?

Sometime before my Economics exam:

A sense of personal failure
Giving up on the result. I don't care how much I score because I don't like you (the exams). You're wrong and that should lead to my failing. It's not that I lack persistence, but I feel frustrated by your system. Well, I refuse to cooperate and become a part of your system. I know - it's a silent revolt. But I don't feel like taking it lying down. I don't like feeling helpless. I don't need to do this to prove I'm tough. I have my memories. Worse, I'm not the only one suffering, there are others. I'll feel motivated to work for the greater good of society, not my greater good.

A short while ago, before my Geography exam:

It's as if I'm deliberately failing myself. What is wrong with me? Why am I letting others admire my competitor? Why have my emotions cooled? Why have I died inside? Drive, will, looking forward...some of my best qualities. Where have I let them go? Am I determined to fail on everyone? Am I determined to prove to everyone, including myself, that I'm a loser, not a winner? Why have I let this go? I have not given up on the goal. Some part of me still believes it is worthwhile. But I've given up on myself. Unrealistic expectations of 10 hours everyday! There could be no worse time for ambition to die. What happened to want, to thirst, to desire? Not revenge, but the fierce, overwhelming joy of success? Have I forgotten that treasure? Have my senses been dulled so much that they are passive to my self destruction? Why are my cares only superficial? why is there no dream to give me enough happiness for hope,  challenge for courage and faith to push beyond fear? I will not win by ignoring this challenge.

I thought (not realized) that, ironically, the only ones to be harmed by my "revolt" were me and the ones who cared about me. When high goals stop motivating, it's time to talk to yourself. And I know that lazing around now will cause me months of regret later. Especially if I give up without trying.

I hope I'm getting somewhere...

P.S. If any of my blog friends are interested, my birthday went by some time back too. I have been officially 18 for a while now :)

P.P.S. I miss debating, people. I miss being on stage.

Image 1 source: this blog
Image 2 source: this site

Friday, January 27, 2012

Saying yes to life

I apologize again for being so irregular. But with a viral fever and preboards to keep me busy, I think I can claim amnesty! I would have really liked to write some kind of great nostalgia piece about my last days in school, but this post is a narration of a specific event and the lessons I've drawn from it. 

I happen to be writing today because it's a very special occasion. A once in a lifetime kind of occasion: my official farewell from school!

I'd already experienced it in another way, from the sidelines, when I was in class XI. There is a morning program with a computer presentation (pics of past years!) and a party in the evening, in which students of class XI and XII have the chance to dance together to a DJ's tunes in the school basketball court.

Today I got the chance to experience it - as the subject. A function held for us, the senior most of the school, and practically ex students.

The morning program finished on time, and we all went home excited for the evening function (my reader, please forgive such brief mentions of these events; there's something else I want to talk about). The program was to begin at 3 and the dress code required all junior boys to wear jeans with kurta, suits for junior girls, suits for senior boys and sarees for senior girls. And this, of course, gets a lot of chatter and comparison going on among the students way before its time for farewell.

I arrived late by about an hour (a sacrifice on the altar of self satisfaction with looks!). But I wasn't very worried, I hadn't really planned about dancing anyway. You see, I feel shy dancing with others. But on the other hand, this was our farewell, and I would never again get the opportunity to dance with my friends - that too with everybody looking good, celebrating the evening in school.

But you know what, I actually swung into action. This is not because I dance well but feel shy, I've actually never really felt comfortable dancing in front of others. I can count on one hand the number of times I've willingly danced at a party. Plus, I had never danced in a sari. So yes, I was nervous. But seeing so many other girls going for it anyway anyhow, I decided to give it a shot - after all, how bad could I be? And I didn't want to regret later that I'd missed the opportunity.

But something happened this time. For about the first time, I didn't feel judged. My friends were busy dancing with an amazing variety of steps and I was not pushed out of the crowd. My friends were having so much fun! Why couldn't I? They didn't care how I danced. They were just kind of happy I was dancing. Shared joy. Some random movements thrown with the beats of the music and I was still part of the circle, not feeling left out as I usually did. After a while, faking it and copying some of the others' steps, I began feeling more like the dancer I was behind closed doors. I recalled some of those steps, made up some of my own and just went with it, feeling more and more free with every song . And for about the first time ever in my few experiences of dancing with other people, I enjoyed it. By the end, I was wishing that the DJ would play more songs, so I could really absorb this great new experience. I even saw smiles on the faces of some of my friends who had seen me dance for the first time and knew well that I didn't usually dance. Even if I didn't love every song, I tried almost every song, going along with the girls in whichever group I happened to be standing in at the time. At the end, I surprised even myself: Could I really dance in a sari and that well? Even if I wasn't great or the best, I certainly wasn't terrible. And I could even see a few other girls looking as confused as I used to be, wondering how to dance in their sari or what step to use. I took the whole event as a proof of my own belief - You can't miss what you've never tried. This dancing thing which I'd avoided for so long was wonderful!

All this brought back rather vividly to mind my first farewell, as a student of class XI. At the time, I felt I had only about one suit in my wardrobe that was worthy of the occasion. And it happened to be a plain white one. I thought it would look very nice paired with some silver jewellery and heels. Unfortunately, on the very morning of the farewell I began feeling sick. I considered this a bad omen. Nevertheless, I was determined to make it to the evening function. I got ready well in time and arrived there to discover that no girl had thought to wear white. It was a blaze of colour and materials everywhere as my classmates fluttered around in suits of various cuts and with colourful accessories. I spent some time with them, but kept feeling awkward, to the point of assuring myself that I was a total idiot - they must be all thinking I looked odd. And I felt odd, standing aside from the dance floor, feeling shy. Soon after, I left that gathering.

I went up the stairs to the next floor, crying. I felt miserable. I looked bad and I felt afraid to dance. Oh, it was so bad of me when I was in a gathering of girls who all seemed to take to it so naturally. Oh, what had I done wrong, why could I not dance? Why did I not have something better to wear? And with such depressing thoughts, I sat on a chair near the staff room, watching the sunset. The solace I hoped for did not come, but I was ordered away, so I wandered along the first and second floor corridors, looking down at the dancers in the central basketball court. I felt so apart from them, so alone that I chided myself for quite a while. I even thought of dancing alone in the corridor, just to make myself feel better, but realized that my seniors were roaming there, cameras in hand. My mind began constructing unpleasant repercussions of my actions: I would be looked down upon for the rest of my life, I would never learn to dance with friends, I would miss out on making friends crucial to my future etc. Later, it even came down to thinking that I did not 'deserve' any of this since I had so many faults. Maybe all the people who knew me deserved better. They deserved to know a Charu who was better than me..maybe even one with a different name, mine probably wasn't a good one. In a nutshell, I devalued my existence.

I did eventually come down from the corridors, but I was feeling too sad inside to really join in the last dances and songs. I left quickly, escaping the scene. That whole experience which had been preceded by so much excitement, became a bad memory I've tried to forget in this past year.

Dear reader if you've read this far, here's the message: I'm not mentioning bad memories of the past to dig up skeletons. My purpose is to free myself of a bad memory by sharing it with the world. I'd also like others to take any lessons they find in the story. What I ultimately realized was this: I avoided dancing for a long, long time because I felt shy and also feared the consequences if I danced badly. I denied countless invitations through the years to dance, often standing by the dance floor, alone or taking photographs of others. Now, a door that was open for the past so many years is closed - the opportunity to dance with my friends at school. But I want to celebrate the fact that a new door has opened. College, university, job and who knows what else...I have my whole life stretched out ahead! There will probably be many, many chances to do the things I love, including dancing, if I choose. My time at school, even without the experiences I missed out on, was the time spent at a learning ground. I'd learned things there which it was better to learn than to miss out on, and even if it was the last day, I'm grateful I learned them. It was almost appropriate that I learn to change my mind about my fears when I was there.

Most importantly, I've learned this: saying no to something out of fear is a way of saying no to life itself. And there could always be so many surprises stored just around that choice of choosing something new over an outcome we force on ourselves. You could grow as a person, learn new things, build happy memories, make new friends, discover your hidden talents, find a new source of joy or even all of these, packed into the same new experience. To fear doing something due to a past failure only binds us to the past, making the present a shadow of it, rather than something that illuminates our future. Leave behind jealousy, anxiety, sadness...The present moments of life never come back again. And you don't have to search or find happiness, you only have to put in the effort to discover it all around you. Even I know now that I'll take up opportunities to dance when they come up.

May you say yes to many new things in the new year and discover fresh, happy surprises in your life :) :) :)