What it’s like for a 30-something girl to #WFH in the middle of nowhere

Last July, I took a flight from Mumbai’s T2 and flew to Bagdogra to spend the rest of the lockdown with my parents in a sprawling tea estate in the Dooars. I was accompanied by a hastily packed duffel bag of my most precious belongings and mild PTSD. The past four months—from March to July—had been tough, what with being locked in a Bandra bedroom with minimum cooking skills and maximum workload. To give an example, I once ate a raw tomato for lunch, gulped in mouthfuls in between back-to-back Zoom calls. Even then, despite my growling tummy and weakening brain cells, I laughed, telling anybody who’d listen, the contents of my meal. There was also the involvement of a certain stubborn garden rat, persistent fungi and a soaking almirah—things I’d rather not get into now to avoid summoning repressed memories.

The circumstances that led me to the airport and back home hadn’t been smooth. While the onset of flights had brought hope, there was still a hurdle—the tea plantation had tightened its regulations, mandating institutional quarantine for all outsiders. The below average accommodation reserved for the purpose had become overcrowded, said my dad, giving me details of the parties the quarantined people were hosting on the premises. Needless to say, these developments kept me on a diet of burnt granola and undercooked pancakes for an additional one month.

Meanwhile, my very enterprising mother had been busy. She’d been getting after everybody she could get after, to allow me to come home. She even went to the extent of drawing a map of our house for the local medical officer (I pity him for having been subject to my mum’s wrath), proving that I would be quarantining in a completely different section, away from the rest of the property. After multiple tries, he complied, perhaps tiring of my mother’s persistence. God had finally agreed to conspire with us. And I took an Indigo flight home.

As my cab drew up the back gate after the three-hour long drive from the airport, my mother stood waiting by the doorway. The raging pandemic made sure there weren’t any hugs or kisses exchanged. Unconditional Love retorted by serving steaming hot rajma-chawal. I had been transported to heaven in a matter of hours and have been comfortably coddled there ever since.  

After renting a Bombay apartment with a writer’s income, graduating to slightly larger “matchboxes” every appraisal, living in the annexe of a Burra Sahib’s bungalow can be overwhelming. One never quite gets used to all the help. Or the sheer scale of the property. Waking up at dawn on a feather-soft bed facing wall-to-wall windows overlooking an expanse of green is consistently surprising. Not to mention the on-call mug of tea that appears by my bedside every morning. The spotting of a new and often exotic species of bird never fails to elicit inexplicable joy. Nor do the hot meals, many of which are whipped up by the cook under the trained eye of my younger brother, a chef.

I discover the joy of indulging in slow-cooked biryani and succulent pepper chicken. Of multi-course meals on special occasions. Of tall, chilled glasses of smoothies, blended with chickoos, bananas and peaches handpicked from our backyard. Of hot cake straight out of the oven. Eating is no longer an activity spent in front of a laptop watching a ‘Friends’ rerun. It’s now a family affair punctuated with laughter, arguments and my mother’s attempts at warding off awkward silences.

As I recuperate gastronomically, nature decides to show off. This is perhaps its attempt at a warm welcome. There are psychedelic sunrises and fluorescent sunsets. There’s the clatter of crickets and the buzz of bees. There are squirrels noisily bounding on the tin roof at night. There’s that deafening thunder and blinding lightening. I note how nature’s cries vary with the changing seasons. I take in the bursting gladioli in the spring, and the watery hydrangeas in the monsoon. I witness the occasional band of monkeys causing squeals and cries in the household (“Protect the pineapples!”). I join in the tensed activity when wild elephants, trumpeting loudly, cause a ripple of fear, horror and excitement.

Oftentimes, I feel like I want to reach out and touch the beauty. But I can’t. Like one of those dreams when you are chasing something, but somehow can’t catch up. I have felt this way in places that are too beautiful to fathom. Places that are so magical, it hurts. Is this why we take photographs, I wonder? So that we can be active, for once? Engage with the scene? Interact with it through shutter speed, exposure, frames, and filters? I feel mesmerised and trapped at the same time. Mesmerised because I love what I see. Trapped because even rolling on the lawn and climbing a hill don’t feel enough. They just tire the limbs without tiring the eyes. And when it comes to beauty, all our senses want to be tired. We want to climb the mountain while also admiring its view from afar. We want to run in between tea plantations while also observing it from a vantage point. We want to float on the lake while also having a birds-eye view of its expanse. We want to actively engage all our senses at the same time to truly drown ourselves in the view, to completely derive the joy of the universe. And even when we do, it somehow isn’t enough. There’s still a dull longing, one that doesn’t know how to fulfil itself. 

After the initial few months of absolute awe at my new-found elevated lifestyle—not having to mop the kitchen for starters—I gradually find myself having bouts of restlessness. I have the uncomfortable feeling that life is passing me by. That time is running out. That while others, in cities, are living, I am in a time warp, where things stand still. Like I am in a limbo. Like this tea plantation is a desktop wallpaper and I am a tree stuck to it. Unmoving. My world has begun to consist of screens, my folks, fictitious characters in shows and the occasional wild animal. The surrounding greenery, when I am on a deadline, becomes just a pretty painting to appreciate during breaks. And once the work starts and the deadlines loom, the plantation fades to the background, like a photograph hanging on the wall of an office. 

Sometimes, I need to force myself to look out of the window. To drag myself out of the door. The emails compete for attention. The words “need by EOD” cut short my cycling trip. There are days when I am not stepping out at all. I am pulled into the dystopian world run by technology where between 10 to 6, I am staring at my laptop, making decks and sending briefs. Working remotely from the middle of a plantation looks great on social media. But, there are days when nature can’t compensate for the joy of a good old laugh with a colleague.

I often feel like I am the only one experiencing this surge of emotions. This dissatisfaction with life. This frustration. This unfathomable helplessness. This obsession with the time before. What keeps me awake at night is the fear that I might not make it to the end of this with my mental faculties intact. It’s discomforting to feel discontent when one is so incredibly privileged. It feels wrong to complain. I often feel like kicking myself in the gut for these negative feelings. What gives me the right to crib? I hold my thoughts in for fear of being judged. Or, at least, I try.

As we prepare for the third wave of the virus, the future seems all the more uncertain. One minute I can’t wait to break free and live on my own again. The next, I can’t imagine having to pick out food bits from the drain, breathe the dusty air and look out into concrete. What bothers me most is the nagging feeling that the past year has undone years of progress I’d made, managing independently in Bombay. I have grown dependent on luxury and comfort, and on my parents’ support.

My gratitude feels privileged. My privilege unnerves me. And this whole essay, on re-reading, feels tone-deaf. I feel guilty for being too happy. I feel the same for feeling frustrated. Maybe, going back to the city, living life within my own means, paying rent and managing meals, will help sort this conundrum. Maybe, all I need to do is eat a raw tomato for lunch again.


How going to an all-girls boarding school made me a feminist

When I was almost 9, my parents sent me to a boarding school—the dreaded place where naughty kids get sent to, where windowless, rectangular spaces are piled high with bunk beds, and large gates clang shut, locking you in with stern-looking bespectacled matrons with imaginary sticks in their hands.

But Mayo was different. And I wasn’t naughty.

It was red and ochre and airy and bright and didn’t conjure up the gloomy impression, I’d always associated with the word “hostel”. The glossy prospectus showed smiling girls in navy blue shorts and red check skirts, ochre salwar kameezes and red dupattas, pleated grey skirts and knee-high grey socks, smart tailored trousers and button-down cardigans. Obviously, the clothes-lover in me was fascinated with the idea of having so many uniforms. The turning point, though, was when I asked my mum if the kids there had birthday parties. Back then, birthday parties were the highlight of my life. If a school could host a birthday party for every child, it was definitely not a punishment posting. So, when my mum said yes, I decided to go, no questions asked. Besides, who could say no to cake and wafers?

So, I packed my bags and landed up in the other corner of the country, a little too excited for an eight-year-old who was about to be separated from her parents. Little did I know that the next nine years were going to shape me and my relationships for the rest of my life. 

A level playing field

The most noteworthy of the many aspects of hostel life that influenced my pre-pubescent, and subsequently, teenage years, was the school’s approach towards ensuring everyone had the same resources available to them while on campus. Cash, tuck and mobile phones were forbidden. Uniforms were mandatory even after school hours. And coupons amounting to the same value were disbursed to members of a common batch, every fortnight. This succeeded in removing any money-related obstacles that might have come in the way of two girls befriending each other, were they in an ordinary set-up, where the cars they were dropped in to school or their weekly allowance, might have played a larger role. This also meant that many of us didn’t realise each other’s financial background or familial lineage until much after we graduated school–when social media threw up pictures of a batchmate’s luxury vacation or a large-scale wedding attended by the who’s-who of Indian politics, business or royalty.

School brought together people from diverse parts of the country and even outside, who spoke different languages and ate different cuisines back home, and united us through a common culture. And we learnt that nothing apart from the person you were, mattered. We couldn’t care less about family background, financial standing, caste, colour, language or any other element that determines many high school and even adult relationships today. That being said, I am acutely aware that only people of a certain social and economic status had the opportunity to attend the boarding school I did, and therefore, I refer to my experiences within this microcosm of modern India.

The right beauty standard

A second and significantly more impactful aspect was the fact that most of us were sheltered from media’s obsession with a certain beauty standard. Because 9 out of 12 months were spent on campus, eating the same food, wearing the same clothes, and experiencing the same life as everyone else, plus the inability to go to the salon, watch tv, surf the internet or read magazines, we, or at least I, successfully avoided an eating disorder, a negative body image, or anything that made me feel that I wasn’t beautiful or attractive enough. Looks weren’t important in boarding school–we had far more important things to worry about–like inter house competitions, activity class, IPSC auditions, and strategising how to bunk games without getting caught. We didn’t feel the pressure of a “summer body”. We didn’t need to wear a bikini. We didn’t care about thigh gaps. We could go out with a lush, full grown moustache, arm and leg hair, and unplucked eyebrows for months, without fear of being judged. The only exception was when we were meeting the boys school–oh, the queues outside the dormitory of the one person who had learned how to thread that summer vacation! Back then, we really thought an arched brow and heavy kohl would make the boys swoon. How silly, we were!

Of course, there are several drawbacks to such a lifestyle. Critics say that it was regressive, sheltered and archaic–so much so, that many people, when they left school, either went berserk with their new found freedom, or struggled to adjust for years to come. The confidence of speaking to the opposite sex, for instance, was something many took a while to get. I am not debating their points, for they are valid in their own right. Since, this is a personal essay, an exploration of the themes and experiences that shaped my own ideas towards life, I am, in this essay, speaking only for myself.

A girl can eat

The camaraderie that Mayo girls shared is something I can try my best to articulate, but I fear my words won’t do it justice. We would come back from vacations with a heavy heart on leaving our families, but the minute we’d see each other, it felt like we were back home, albeit a different one. We would chat all day and all night, on returning to campus, about what we’d done, the experiences we’d had, and (most importantly), what we’d eaten. Oh! our obsession with food is something I could write another blog post on (and probably will), for honest to God, we were perpetually hungry. Our school fed us 3 wholesome meals plus a fruit break at 11 a.m. and tea break at 4 p.m., and yet when we smelled Maggi or biscuits, or something brought from a fellow hosteller’s home, we’d ignore our full tummies, and gorge our brains out. Eating disorder, what? If anything, we learnt how to fake-burp and fake-fart, compete on who had a larger appetite, and before you go all “that’s a very unhealthy lifestyle” on me, let me remind you that we had a minimum of one hour mandatory games for 6 days a week, 9 months a year, even during exams.

I still remember the one time, when someone raised a false alarm of a surprise tuck-check. We were in class 6, and between the 13 of us in Sam house, we had 24 packets of Maggi. Oh, what rebels we were! How much strength and spirit we had! We thought we could take on the world. And so, we took on the 24 packets of Maggi, in one sitting, with 3 people making it in the cramped changing room, crushing the Maggi cakes with their hands, moistening it with cold water–the recipe of kacha Maggi–while the rest of us stood guard, watching out for the house matron. We hungrily gobbled up all 24 packets, and at the end of it, there was no tuck check!

A whole new world

School with its focus on sports, activities, arts and crafts ensured we experienced and engaged with different facets of life. From art, craft and pottery to hindustani and western music, from classical dance to folk dance, swimming and diving to water polo, horse riding to actual polo, hockey and basketball to athletics, there was plenty to keep us occupied all semester long. Somehow, themes like marriage, finding a boy, looking good or losing weight were not a part of our daily discourse and therefore we never internalised the need to follow a certain chalked path. By giving us exposure to these varied experiences, it taught us that we could do whatever we set our heart towards. It taught us (or rather it taught me) that I was strong, that I was enough, that I wasn’t lesser in any manner owing to my gender, background or appearance. That even if I wasn’t great at art or sports or dance, it didn’t define who I was. That I could choose what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. That I was accepted for the truest, most authentic version of myself. That I could dream as big as I dared and obtain the means to achieve those dreams.

It also taught me that the most gratifying and happiness-inducing experiences were found in routine occurrences. It was found while waking up to loud, peppy music at 5 a.m. to prepare for a drill competition. While singing songs on the way to a midterm trip. While being treated to a dinner for winning the best house trophy. While being “punished” by the seniors to create endless buckets of confetti because you dared to smile at lineup. While queuing up in twos to go to the fete in the boys school. While cheering made-up jingles during inter house competitions. While having deep conversations late into the night about our families, books we’d read or philosophies we believed in. While having multiple mugs of tea and Maggi during “house breakfast”. While finishing a bottle of Horlicks in one sitting because well, why not. While rushing to the auditorium during PG. Happiness was embedded in the experiences of daily life, and it taught me that there were only a handful of things that mattered: the person I was, the choices I made, the people I engaged with, the accountability I took for my actions and the experiences I had.

When I left school and entered the real world, I admit, it was surprising. Critics are right when they say we lived in a bubble, that this bubble could leave you ill-equipped to deal with life. However, for me, it was this “bubble” that gave me the conviction to reject all patriarchal or prejudicial ideologies because I had become “set in my ways” . It was this “bubble” that egged me to say no to any relationship that I felt I didn’t deserve. It was this “bubble” that gave me the strength to deal with rejection in romantic relationships. It was this “bubble” that kept me positive and inspired me to always prioritise my girlfriends and their important life events because this is what, ultimately, makes me happy. It was this “bubble” that taught me to be independent and self-reliant and deal with many of life’s stresses on my own. It was this “bubble” that helped me “fold my counterpane” in school, and, ultimately, make my bed everyday in Lockdown this year, even when the pandemic conspired to test my resolve.

Sisters before misters

Because of the many measures taken to democratise life, we never felt the need to compete with a fellow schoolmate for someone we fancied–we were all in it together. Women weren’t our enemies–they were our allies. Women were the ones on our team cheering the loudest in an inter-house competition. They were the ones running the last mile with us in a cross country race, encouraging us not to collapse in a heap. They were the ones who stayed up all night to make our birthdays meaningful with fudge cakes. They were the ones who gave up their tuck needs for weeks just so that the coupons could be saved and contributed towards buying chocolates for a fellow housemate’s birthday. They were the ones who risked everything to smuggle a letter to the boys’ school during brothers meet. They were the ones who comforted us when our parents couldn’t make it for Diwali or Holi. Women, to me, mean everything. And I could never side against my own gender.

In the months leading up to the big 30, and the days after it, I thought about what makes my life so special and brings me joy. And I realised that apart from my parents, my girlfriends make up a huge chunk of it. This got me thinking about how most people associate female friendships with competition, and women with “bitchiness”. On the contrary, for me, the very definition of a female friendship has always been something akin to family. Something sacrosanct. It represents a sisterhood so strong that other things pale in comparison. This so-called sisterhood was what was imparted to me through boarding school. And which held up, even when I entered the real world.

I accept my privilege

A lot of credit might also go to my parents for being progressive and incubating the ideas I had before I went to boarding school and during holidays. I also do not deny the incredible privilege I am bestowed with, to use my platform to talk about how I effortlessly evaded negative body image, patriarchal ideologies, caste and class based prejudices and toxic teenage sexual relationships throughout my formative years: not everyone has the same privilege or opportunity, and for this I am eternally grateful.

Even today, when I think back to the 14-year-old Mayoite, standing on the track, pompoms in hand, cheering for her house that just won the best house trophy, I can’t help but draw unimaginable strength from that image. That young girl who felt invincible, who wore her scars like a badge of honour, who only trusted the value of her relationships and the freedom to be herself while measuring her quality of life. Who didn’t care whether her arms were waxed or not, whether her laugh sounded ugly or not and whether she danced like a chicken in a party or not. Who never thought she was lesser than any boy. Who didn’t mind getting sweaty or dirty or acting her truest self. Who didn’t care whether she was popular or “hot” or whether she was liked by the opposite sex or not. Who believed she had the whole world at her feet and was determined to take it by the horns to fulfil her dreams. That girl, that very girl, is who I look up to, even now, when at the age of 31 I need someone to draw strength from.

This is not meant to be a text on feminism and shouldn’t be construed as such. It’s simply an account of my learnings and early -life experiences that shape my opinions and actions today.

Can I pass off my Instagram feed as a journal?

“I’ve started journalling”, said my friend, proudly. It was more of a text on a WhatsApp group, but considering us millennials are notorious for being petrified of ringing phones, and instead, prefer the safety (and unaccountability) of a screen, it amounts to the same thing.

Another friend piped in. She has always journaled, she said, and had recently, added an app to the mix. Apparently there are journalling apps these days (and they are not free, mind you), that allow the lazier ones to simply click buttons or icons to denote their mood, activity and the like.

I was impressed. A few years ago, I had tried keeping a bullet journal. Just after the craze picked up. It worked really well for the first couple of weeks (January, 2017, was it?), until I forgot all about a “new year” starting, and got into the grind, and pretty much forgot about it.

Two years later, a good friend gifted me a bullet journal that she had designed herself. It had a beautiful brown paper cover, one of those “sustainable design” types, was pocket sized, and had neatly defined spaces for goals, dates and such, on the pages.

I never used it.

Today, as I sit with my second mug of herbal tea in hand, under an umbrella, basking in the warmth of a November sun, I think about how much my life has evolved, even within lockdown. And how, my Instagram feed is proof of it. Like a visual journal.

When Lockdown started, I was living in a two bedroom apartment in Bombay’s Khar. Where after the initial excitement of working from a beanbag in my sun speckled room, which we had then thought was only for a matter of three weeks, turned into a laboriously long four months, when time lost all meaning.

I began to document my experiences through illustrations.

It was exciting, I admit, in the beginning. It was a real challenge. I thought to myself, “If I could get through this on my own, I could get through anything.” 

Before, I go into my experiences, let me give you a bit of context. I can’t cook. And no, it’s not like I haven’t tried. Or that I have always been averse. Or that I don’t want to be perceived as someone who cooks.

I am grossed out by kitchens. There, I said it. The smell of onion and garlic on my hands, tempering spices and bubbling curries, raw meat and stockpiled potatoes, turn me off. I’ve never related to people when they smell the waft of a bubbling pot of chicken curry from a neighbouring flat and find it tempting or talk of it as a “good smell”. 

Maybe, if I lived alone, and my kitchen was in a bright sun splashed open space, with stainless steel everything, and gleaming surfaces, I’d be more enthusiastic. But the thought of even entering my tiny, cramped Mumbai kitchen, flooded with the stench of damp, rotting onion peels in the wastepaper basket, a clogged drainpipe, and musty, sun-starved shelves was enough to make me lie on my bed, foetal position, stomach growling, and unable to move to cook a meal.

I know I sound spoilt, silly and lazy.

I didn’t realise the severity of my “issues” until fellow anti-cooking enthusiasts starting posting pictures of flans and banana breads, multi-course Indian meals and envy-worthy cheesecakes, artfully designed focacias and stuffed chicken breasts, on their social media handles.

Clearly, I was in the minority. 

At one point, the constant barrage of home cooked food on my Instagram feed turned into “toxic” content, enough to spiral me into sadness. I once even deactivated my account because I couldn’t take one more appetising-looking, lockdown-learned sourdough bread staring at me coyly from the screen.

Why couldn’t I feel the same enthusiasm as my peers? Why did my kitchen scare me away? It’s not like I don’t love food or anything. I adore a creamy hummus, dream about a lemongrass-scented Thai curry, crave a well-marinated lime and curd drenched chicken breast and enjoy a wholesome, multi-ingredient salad. Then why wasn’t I able to muster up excitement to cook? Or when I did end up cooking, why did everything taste terrible? It’s not like I could never cook. As a boarding-school bred, perpetually hungry teenager, I’d rummage around my mother’s bookshelves looking for recipe books, to put together elaborate meals at home. I used to live to eat then. Today, it’s the opposite. Maybe, it’s got something to do with that?

If you scroll through my Instagram feed and look for my posts during those initial few months of Lockdown, you’ll find me on a particularly rough day when I cleaned shattered glass and threw away curdled milk, a surprisingly happy day when I ended the workday with a much needed cuppa, relished while watching a particularly gripping episode of Netflix’s Fauda, and on a comparatively low day, that spelled out my feelings of being unreal and intangible.

Things took a turn for the worse when the monsoons started in Mumbai. My home fell apart. Dampness was a permanent fixture. And the smell of fresh, sun-sanitised interiors, a luxury. I began to sink deeper and deeper. At one point, I’d be woken up in the middle of the night with the sound of a large garden rat trying to claw its way into my house. The cement-dust just under the area it was digging was a dead giveaway that I wasn’t imagining things.

I began to feel like I was made up of air, that I wasn’t solid anymore. I was fluctuating. I felt unreal. Maybe staying locked up in a space can do that to you.

People say there is no higher power. No God. No one watching over you. But, my experience this year proved otherwise. Just at the precise moment I lost all positivity, my mother called me with some important news: she had managed a way to bring me home. The medical officer on duty, after much conversation, had finally approved my return. All I had to do to be worthy of this favour was to quarantine strictly in a secluded area within our compound. Doable.

In a matter of 24 hours, I packed whatever I could find into a bag, locked up my favourites into a cupboard, and flew back home, before anyone, including the government, changed their mind. Luckily for me, I landed just a day before the West Bengal government decided to ban all flights from Mumbai. I had made it. I was fortunate.

The next few days were spent recovering, sipping on endless cups of ginger-tulsi tea with home made oat brownies, along with lots of love from my mother. It had been a tough few months: I was only too glad to be home.

It took me a while to get over my time in Bombay. Funnily enough, I seemed to be suffering from a mild bout of PTSD. The thought of that rat clawing its way into my Bombay bedroom would involuntarily send shudders down my spine. The memory of my growling tummy when I couldn’t muster up energy to cook or even order; the dripping of rainwater into my room; the smell of fungus on my favourite sarees; the dampness on the walls, my towels undried for days; the sight of a cockroach in the bathroom that scared my flatmate and myself from using the loo that night; the frown of the building watchman every time we went down to collect an order or to complain about the odd water or electricity problem; the despair at discovering that yet another carton of milk had gone bad; the arrival of a meal from a takeaway joint in dubious packaging: all of these memories, would serve as a reminder to be eternally grateful for the life I was now leading in my parents place.

Home for me turned out to be the complete opposite of what my experience in Bombay had been. I could wake up without fear of what new perils the day might bring. Without the need to sleepily scramble out of bed and roll into the kitchen, dirty rag in hand, all set to mop the counters and floors, before making my morning cuppa. I could simply expect tea in bed, along with a side of chirpy conversation from my mum. I could expect wholesome, hot meals laid out on the dining table. I could walk freely outdoors, without a mask, because there were no crowds or people. I could cycle in between fields of tea bushes, the sun on my face, the skies an azure blue. I could go for long walks, letting my mind roam free, reevaluating my life choices, and introspecting. I could expect an environment of unconditional love, jolly holidays, elaborate birthday celebrations, and lots of giggles. But, what I really cherished most was an opportunity to live with my parents for the first time since 1998, when as an 8-year old, I went to boarding school.

Sure, I missed Bombay. But Bombay for me was centred around work. I missed everything about work though: waking up for it, dressing up for it, even pushing crowds to get a seat in the train for it. I missed mutual appreciation comments in the Vogue bathroom. I missed rushing into office, and heading straight to the pantry for my mandatory black coffee. I missed being frantically called for a meeting in the conference room, when I had spent an extra five minutes downstairs near the fruit seller. I missed gossiping with my colleagues. I missed random middle-of-the-week drinking plans. I missed the hustle and bustle of the local trains and the arguments between fellow train travellers on the much disputed “fourth seat”. I missed a lot.

If you scroll through my Instagram feed, and read through the captions, you might not get the little details of my daily life over the past year. But you will definitely gauge my fluctuating moods, emotions and the dramatic change in lifestyle over the course of 2020.

Is my Instagram feed a journal? In the conventional sense of the word, no. But, if a journal means a record of your life over time, then I’d say yes, my feed accurately captures 2020.

What losing my phone taught me about myself

No, it’s not about my pointless Insta stories.

What losing my smartphone taught me about myself | Chai High is an Indian blog started by Shivani KrishanLess than 24 hours after I prided myself on my independence, my cell phone crashed. Ordinarily, this would seem like two separate instances—a woman’s independence and a rectangular handheld gadget—but it wasn’t quite so simple. The fleeting sense of achievement I’d experienced was entirely dependent on Uber, a car booking app, and Google Maps. I was alone in Chandigarh for the very first time, and I was relying on the good sense and navigation expertise of my Uber driver, and my ability to read Google Maps, to deliver me in one piece to my ailing grandmother. And I was mighty proud of myself at that. So, a day later, when my phone died, it took away my independence, sense of empowerment and feeling of being in control. The ground beneath my feet had shifted. And this raised a few questions in my mind about the extent to which we rely on technology today.

It’s interesting how the smart phone has enabled the independence of women. In a new city? Find your way with Google Maps. Don’t have a car? Book an Uber. Hungry? Order on Swiggy. Don’t know where to stay? Book an Airbnb. Want to pay a bill? Choose Netbanking. Unlike paper maps, regular taxis, restaurant home delivery and hotels, these “apps” are accountable if your driver misbehaves, food is contaminated, or room is dirty. And with users giving ratings and writing firsthand reviews, it only adds to the feeling of empowerment, when you make a choice based on your deduction of the average opinion of 14910 others. It’s hard to explain the feeling of elation you get on landing the ideal balance of an above average rating that also fits in your budget. Therefore, it was only natural, that when my source of empowerment and entertainment stopped functioning, I felt like a lost child.

But is this healthy? The fact that we no longer remember phone numbers, that addresses have lost their meaning, that our sense of direction is dependent on an electronic voice, that we constantly need to check our phones for WhatsApp messages and memes from friends, to validate our existence? Many would hands down say no. After all, isn’t it a sign of severe deterioration of cognitive ability to no longer be able to memorize phone numbers or recall directions? Whatever happened to the feeling of joy on locating an address based on a “landmark” from which you were to take the second left, cross the fifth vegetable seller and then look for a black gate–“no not the large one, but the smaller bling-and-miss one”—and then take a U turn to arrive at your destination? Whatever happened to good ol’ talking to people over the phone rather than half-hearted WhatsApp texts and Instagram DMs that are often “read” and not replied to?

It’s hard to argue with the logic.

Nevertheless, all the cognition required in earlier days to traverse new grounds only kept us from venturing beyond our comfort zones. For, if we were lost and didn’t have a cell phone, how were we to call for help, WhatsApp our live location to a friend or google map our way to the nearest familiar space? Unsurprisingly, rarely did women venture beyond the familiar when travelling alone, and even when they did, they’d dare not travel after sunset. Today, we travel at all hours of the day and night, within the country and abroad, and often take off into open roads and unknown streets, by Google mapping our way.

Which brings me to the “godsent” smartphone, a device I openly dissed and loved to mock, until I was left without it, in an unfamiliar city. The thing is, I had always associated phones with phone calls, social media narcissism–#ootds and #wanderlusts, and text messages, things I was happy to forgo as an experiment, for a limited amount of time. What I was unprepared for, was losing out on Uber, Google Maps, Netbanking, Airplane ticket download, E-Aadhar card and the fact that, increasingly, almost every transaction required an OTP. What I was also not expecting, was losing out on my independence.

The sense of invincibility, I’d felt as I made my way in a relatively unknown city to my grand mum’s quarters in an Uber, Google-mapping the directions, was replaced with a feeling of complete disorientation and dread when my phone blanked out. Which made it clear that I am only as independent and empowered as my smartphone. Take it away, and I am a nothing person. Does this mean, I have a false sense of self? That I am not really as independent as I think I am? That I am only as smart, independent and empowered as my smartphone allows me to be? That, by being dependent on my phone, I am simply entrusting a gadget the place previous generations granted their husbands and fathers? That it’s time to end this toxic relationship disguised as a happily-ever-after? That it’s finally time to break up?

Since I respect my phone too much to ghost it, I should probably just start getting really “busy”.




How I, a 20-something girl, started wearing sarees to work

I almost missed my graduation ceremony because I was at the salon to get my saree draped. I didn’t trust the “eyebrow didi” (who had enthusiastically agreed to help every single girl who’d asked her in the days leading up to D-day) to find time for the relatively soft-spoken me. And I most definitely did not trust my mother’s off-white silk saree in the hands of my 21-year-old classmates who’d have a better chance of accidentally throwing the nine yards in a fictitious paper shredder than managing to get halfway through a draping exercise. So, I ended up missing my batch photograph, and just about made it to collect my certificate and award.

Five years later, today, I can (almost) drape a saree in my sleep and get through a day without fearing a minor wardrobe malfunction every time I have to do a little more than breathe. So, what brought about this shift? Apart from an all-prevailing boredom with the contents of my closet (yes, really), an innate need to experiment with my look, and one of Anavila’s earlier shows (where linen sarees actually looked super comfy!), it was an admiration of the simple elegance with which the Maharashtrian ladies on the local trains carried themselves; their neatly parted hair, gajras, gold hoops and sensibly draped sarees (no floating pallus, please) inspired in me the need to emulate their effortless aesthetic. I found myself wanting to normalise the act of wearing a saree on an ordinary day, to put it in the same league as a bright floral dress or a pair of jeans.

This combined with a lifetime of admiring my mother every time she emerged from her boudoir in a saree, and having two grandmothers with diverse aesthetics—fluttering chiffons and ornate, heirloom jewellery on one side, and starched kota sarees with pearls on the other—helped nudge me into the saree-wearing world armed with a mishmash aesthetic that, I believe, is clearly my own.

Around the same time as I was beginning to consider the possibility of wearing a saree on an ordinary day, I was just about finding my personal sense of style. Increasingly, I was gravitating towards handlooms, linens, and cottons, with skirts and dresses tailored out of traditional textiles and weaves. A trial of one of my mother’s Bhutanese skirts brought about this shift—I had nothing to wear one time, and she happily lent a skirt to me, mainly because it was a far cry from the shorter lengths I would sport at the time. Reminiscent of lungis, straight cut and ankle length, my mother’s “skirts” could be considered the transitional outfit that helped ease me into wearing a saree.

It took me several attempts of putting on a saree only to discard it seconds after, till I mustered up the courage to ignore the nagging feeling of doubt and reach work. As expected, the initial reaction in a legging and denim-wearing world was, “Puja at home?” But when I told them no, I wore this of my own accord, to mix things up, the response was heart-warming. I was bombarded with compliments all day, with people going as far as saying I should wear sarees every day! By the end, I was encouraged, and my confidence was at an all-time high. “I can do this”, I thought to myself.

I started my saree-wearing journey with a single white cotton. Within a few months, I had added a black version to the mix. A year later, my school friend decided to gift me a black and white cotton saree. Now, I knew, I was a saree wearer! Soon, I was rummaging through my mother’s closet, picking up hand-painted and hand-embroidered versions that had been handed down to her by her mother. I realised, I had a “type”. Dull, “ugly”, sarees, that no one my age would be caught dead in!

What helped in normalising the saree, was making the drape as comfortable as possible. Think shorter lengths, pinned pleats and compact pallus that could be swung around, teamed with loose blouses or tank tops for a relaxed, easy vibe. Also, staying as close to my everyday slightly-undone aesthetic—messy hair and everything—helped me feel like me, by emphasising that I had not been airlifted from a puja and dropped off at work. With time, I got bolder, and added sneakers and bright socks to the mix (such fun!).

People still tell me “Only you can pull it off”, to which I tell them, “So can you”, not out of politeness, but because I strongly believe everyone can take a saree and make it their own. For me, simple cottons work well, because I tend to add interest with sneakers and a random hairdo. For you, bright printed chiffons with Grecian sandals and poker straight hair, may work wonders. Or a starched kota with a crisp and sheer organza blouse and leather broguesOr a plain georgette saree with a matching georgette blouse and simple thong sandals. But you have to try it to believe it.

Once you find your very own kind of everyday-friendly drape, you’ll find yourself looking grudgingly at denims and leggings, dresses will no longer occupy prime real estate in your wardrobe, and a whole new world will open up in the form of frilly petticoats, crop tops, statement blouses that double up as underpinnings for a solid saree, and jewellery! You’ll begin to see every new trend in the context of a saree. Soon, questions like this will fill your mind: Can I team a corset belt with a crepe saree? Can I wear an off-shoulder, peasant top with a simple mul saree? Can I add ruffles to my blouse? And, just like that, you will have one more option to choose from, every morning. And who amongst us, apart from the Steve Jobs-inspired, does not want yet another outfit choice?



In defence of the “ugly” dress

The uglier the better.

Every wardrobe should have at least one ugly dress. The long, loose kind, that hangs on your frame reminiscent of a scarecrow wearing your grandma’s faded nightgown. You know, for those days when you feel particularly lazy to rack your brains on what shirt goes with what skirt.

The ugly dress covers flab. The ugly dress allows you to overeat. The ugly dress allows you to run on the platform when you’re just about missing your train, without fear of ripping your skintight jeans, dropping a strap and having a minor wardrobe malfunction in the face of 100 creepy train travellers.

The ugly dress makes you look “prettier” than you really are. The ugly dress is so ugly that anything compared to it looks stunning. So, even if you feel like shit, when you put on your ugly dress, instantly you will feel better – after all you can’t be “uglier” than this dress can you?

The key to buying an “ugly” dress is to buy one that’s a few notches below you on the looks scale. By which I mean – a dress that won’t steal your thunder. When people see you, your dress won’t be the first thing they see. Instead, the focus will be on your face. That’s the best thing about the ugly dress – it’s completely missable.

The ugly dress comes in ugly colours. Like yellow ochre, mud brown, rusty red, algae green; earthy hues.  Extremely flattering especially when you darken your eyes with some kohl, and enhance your natural lip colour with a lip jelly that changes colour with your lip temperature and ph. The ugly dress is great for those fuss-free days when you aren’t in the mood to dress sharp, yet want to feel beautiful.

The ugly dress can also be made pretty. With silver jewellery and pretty sandals. Then, you can take the dress out for brunch. It can also be made sporty – with a pair of white converse sneakers, in which case you’re fully equipped to race against time to catch an about-to-depart train or flight.

So, the next time you’re out shopping, don’t let your eyes gravitate towards the shimmering pinks and delicate laces. Instead look out for the rugged, sensible cotton counter, with the ultra-ugly printed dresses.

Happy shopping. 🙂



Realisations, learnings, insecurities and questions from 2017 – Self-discovery 101

Sometimes happiness simply means the freedom to be who we want to be.

What indeed is a true test of us being “happy with ourselves”?

Is it being able to be alone, cut off from everyone, with just social media for distraction?

Or is it being surrounded by friends and family who play the role of said social media, filling the gaps in our lives with friendly banter, chatter and one too many tequila shots on a blurry night out?

Or is it the ability to be on our own with no social needs at all?

Or is it having no gaps at all, no spaces in our hearts or minds that need filling from family, friends, social media or work?

But then again, isn’t it “gaps” that make us human? And separates us from machines?

We try and fill the empty spaces in our lives with Facebook and Instagram “likes” and appreciation. And the funny thing is, it actually works!

Disturbing, eh? Imagine being dependent on “likes” and “comments” for our daily dose of ego boost? But, then again, what’s the alternative?

Man is a social animal – we need contact with fellow creatures – be it a flesh and blood human or a digital social media “friend”.

Our mothers spent hours on the phone, discussing everything from outfit choices of the 200 guests at the Delhi wedding, to maids and their “attitude problem”. We do the same, but online. We “heart” wedding outfits of fellow friends on Instagram, and post statuses about our maids. After all, we just want to be heard. Listened to.  Really understood. And social media comes in, where no family or friend can – it gives us a mouthpiece to express. A one stop shop to say what we’re feeling and gauge which of our 750 friends really understands our thoughts and “reacts” to it. It’s almost like an experiment. A hotline connecting us to the universe. And if someone responds out of the digital black hole, we know, deep down, we’ve found an ally.

Sometimes I feel, true happiness comes from understanding and being understood.

Not so much in loving and being loved. Or in being solitary – independent of worldly needs.

True happiness comes when our innermost thoughts and ideas are understood by another being. Doesn’t matter if its a lover, stranger,  parent, friend or acquaintance.


We are free to love as many people – men and women as possible, yet restricted to “end up” with only one?

Are we really “free”, then?

I spent a lot of time trying to explain myself, To try and make myself understood. And when I failed, when I began to spend my energy explaining why I was explaining, I realised that the relationship was over.

A little bit of sexual energy is good. Even if it’s in the head. It translates beautifully into creative energy that enhances the quality of our work.

Sometimes our families serve as reminders of all that we are not.

There always seems to be an additional something we need to do to make them happy. An exam we need to pass, a person we need to call, a chore we need to do or money we need to make. And the worst is, these expectations come disguised in a set of words we probably have no comeback to –  “for your own good”.

Sometimes a cup of tea can awaken ideas inside me like nothing else can. There’s an energy that bubbles up after a cup-and-a-half, and then there’s no other way but to ignore all duty and start typing.

My relationships often heighten my sense of inadequacy. I start out whole. But at some point, along the way, I look at myself and wonder what happened?

Each conversation I’ve had with myself over the past two years has revealed some fascinating truths about me. About things I like and don’t like. About what makes me happy and what brings me down. For instance, I took two solo trips this year – both of which were distinctly different from one another. While the first was economical and involved zero sightseeing, the second was luxe, insta-worthy, and beautifully documented on social media. And both these experiences taught me a lot about who I really am; I realised I preferred the first vacation simply because I got to meet a lot of new people – and simply be.

So, does that mean I am not really anti-social like I thought myself to be?

Or does that mean, I simply enjoy the freedom that comes with socializing with new people? The lack of expectation to do a certain thing?

I’ve realized that some of the most fun I’ve had is when I’m with people.  But being on my own helps renew my soul. And when I go out into the world with a refreshed soul, I end up letting myself enjoy each moment in a deeper, more meaningful manner.

I need  solitariness and socializing in equal measures – the alternation between the two extremes keeps me sane. One can’t exist without the other.

2017 taught me a lot about who I really am. It brought the process of self-discovery that began in 2015 to a close. The turmoil in my head reached a head and poof – it was gone. Of course, this is not to mean there are no more lessons to be learnt. But until then, let’s keep it happy and shiny.

XOXO 2017

13 letters to body parts written by surprisingly sporting men.

The reason I say “surprisingly sporting” is probably based on a little ignorance on my part. I had assumed that men won’t be as sporting as women when it came to writing about their bodies. That they’d laugh at me for even asking. So, for weeks, I contemplated if I should indeed do a “Letters to Body Parts – Men” like I’d done this one with women.

But, at some point, I decided it was worth a try. I thought to myself – if I got men to open up about their feelings with regards to their bodies, I’d have helped kickstart an important conversation.

And I was in for a pleasant surprise – most men I spoke to didn’t need much convincing (those that did – well, their letters haven’t made it here – they didn’t write). 

Men were more than happy to share their stories of love, hate, exasperation and gratefulness towards their bodies. While some have written longer, beautifully-articulated letters, others have penned fun poems and sweet, little thank you notes.

And mind you – not all men featured here are writers and poets. There are copywriters (obviously), but there are also sales-people, IIT-IIM geniuses, brand strategists, PHD scholars, designers, and directors. There are letters by 26-year-olds and those by 40-year-olds. And if there’s one thing all these lovely people have in common, it is the incredible self-confidence and a deep sense of self-awareness to be able to put themselves out there with their words.

Do take the time out to read each beautifully-crafted letter. It will make you smile.

Dear Calves | Letters to Body Parts | Chai High is an Indian Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Dear Left Brain | Letters from Men to their body parts | Notes to the self | Chai High is an Indian Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Dear Wiggly, Jiggly, Juicy Bum | Letters from Men to their body parts | Dear Bum | Notes to the self | Chai High is an Indian Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Dear Voice | Hi Voice | Letters from Men to their body parts | Notes to the self | Chai High is an Indian Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Dear Hands | Letters from Men to their body parts | Notes to the self | Chai High is an Indian Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Dear Brain | Letters from Men to their organs and body parts | Notes to the self | Chai High is an Indian Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Dear Tummy | Letters from Men to their organs and body parts | Notes to the self | Chai High is an Indian Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Dear Shoulders | Letters from Men to their organs and body parts | Notes to the self | Chai High is an Indian Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Dear Overthinking Mind | Letters from Men to their organs and body parts | Notes to the self | Chai High is an Indian Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Dear Butt | Letters from Men to their organs and body parts | Notes to the self | Chai High is an Indian Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Dear Hair | Letters from Men to their organs and body parts | Notes to the self | Chai High is an Indian Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Dear Brain | Hey | Letters from Men to their organs and body parts | Notes to the self | Chai High is an Indian Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Dear Nails | I hate you | Hey | Letters from Men to their organs and body parts | Notes to the self | Chai High is an Indian Blog started by Shivani Krishan

If you made it till here, thank you. Also, if this post inspired you to think about your most prized body part or the most frustrating one – do pen down your thoughts, turn them into letters and mail it to me at schivany@gmail.com. I will do another post soon.

Have a happy weekend. 🙂






My love affair with locals – one year and counting

Pretty long for an affair, don’t you think?

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

My relationship with the Mumbai local trains started last September when I took up a job on the other side of town. At first, I assumed it would be a temporary arrangement, moving closer to work being the general idea. But laziness and fear-of-seeing-ugly-houses kept me committed to my tiring routine.

Home -> Auto -> Train -> Cab -> Work = 1 hour 40 minutes

Work -> Walk -> Train -> Auto -> Home = 1 hour 55 minutes

Day in and day out for more than a year.

A couple of my colleagues have looked at me pointedly and said – “Wow, you must really love this job.”

But like most relationships, my affair with the local train and therefore my job, is not based on “love” alone.

Like any affair, my tryst with the locals came with its own set of stages.

First came the adrenalin – I can do this. Travel 4 hours a day and survive, I mean.

Then came the tiffs – little hiccups in the journey (like missing my train), that made me reconsider my decision to live so far from work.

Then came hatred – with the Mumbai rains – that made me want to quit. The job, the city, the world, everything.

Then I got used to it. It became routine. A habit. I began to love the little quirks, stories and happenings in the ladies compartment – so much so, that I realised, I may miss it if I quit.

It’s funny when you think about it. How can you hate something one moment, and absolutely love it the next? How can you bitch about it for hours, and then defend it vehemently when another suggests you cab it instead?

A love-hate relationship, that in addition to making me feel really proud of myself – when I realised I had completed a year of this gruelling schedule and survived, it also opened my mind to the world in a whole, new, different way. There were days I teared up with joy on seeing acts of kindness between fellow passengers – the world can be a happy place sometimes. And there were days when I came home bursting with stories of large insects creeping up under salwars and burkhas, driving entire compartments into mayhem.

The local trains can brighten up your day in more ways than one. If you let it.

Also, I lost a shit ton of weight. 😉 One does NOT simply give up on something that helps you stay fit without actively trying. On second thoughts, maybe it’s fear of getting out of shape that’s keeping me addicted to the locals, but that’s a thought for another day. 😛

Over the past year, I have written about these little instances and observations on my Facebook page. And plenty of my friends who’ve read it have asked me to write a book, create a vlog, or simply come up with a comic series on the same. However, I think, for now, let’s keep it on this blog.

Have a look, and hope it keeps you entertained.


Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Even if you’ve never been on the local, these updates will vicariously let you live the local life. 🙂










If only someone could understand my angst at finding fungus growing on my Theobroma Rye bread – An essay on the importance of Understanding

And the extreme pain I felt while throwing the nearly-perfect loaf into the trash can.

Last night, I got home to find a thin layer of fungus growing on my neatly-stored Rye bread. That loaf was particularly tasty, and my almost-2-hour commute back home had been spent imagining eating the rye bread for dinner with all sorts of toppings – a warmed-up slice with a generous slathering of peanut butter, or a sandwich with hummus, cottage cheese, bell peppers and a boiled egg thrown in.

So, while my brain was merely disappointed at finding my Rs. 85-a-loaf bread spoiling, my taste-buds were devastated. They had to settle for oats with milk. And that in itself was punishment – one does not simply swap hummus and rye with oats.

Now the thing with this problem was, if I’d shared it with anyone else, chances are they’d tell me to calm down and just order something. Which, let me explain, IS NOT THE SOLUTION.

I don’t want to order something else. I want my rye bread back, un-fungused. And ready to be heated and layered with peanut butter. But, one can’t reverse fungus-growth, just like one can’t reverse time.

So, let me say it again.

If only somebody could understand my angst at finding fungus growing on my Theobroma Rye bread. 

I don’t want a new rye bread. And I most certainly don’t want to be taken out to dinner as consolation. I just want somebody to understand what I mean when I say I am devastated that my bread has fungus growing on it.

Which brings me to the point of this story.

We all seek someone who understands us without us having to explain ourselves.

There is this powerful quote from Murakami’s 1Q84 – If you can’t understand it without an explanation, you can’t understand it with an explanation.”

Let me repeat.

“If you can’t understand it without an explanation, you can’t understand it with an explanation.”

Of course there are some things that need explaining. GST for instance. Or the Aadhar card. But that’s not the point of this essay.

So, what do we mean by understanding? Does it mean agreeing, accepting, unconditionally believing?

Not quite.

Understanding is more in the realm of empathy. It’s when you may completely disagree with another’s point of view, but you have the imagination to put yourself in their place, and view the world like them. For a brief moment you’re able to switch places with the person in front of you, becoming them, thinking like them, inheriting their likes, dislikes, and quirks, and therefore being able to emphasize with their feelings – however silly they may be.

Like getting upset about fungus, in my case.

As I meet more and more people, it becomes glaringly clear, that most people are not empathetic. We’re a judgemental class, however much we’d like to claim otherwise. We try and look for flaws in people. And if we can’t find any, we pinpoint the least appealing of the person’s personality (or physical) traits and make it seem worse than it is. Especially when the subject is a smart and beautiful man or woman. Is it jealousy? Is it self-preservation? Is it a manner of boosting our own egos by putting down a seemingly better person?

I don’t know.

But, this lack of empathy is turning us into an unhappy class of people. When you begin to judge people from the place they shop from, the texture of their hair, or the tone of their voice, you’re unknowingly exposing your own insecurities.

You’ll rarely hear a secure and happy person discussing another person’s “disastrous” fashion choices.

Of course, I don’t mean to say, we need to become serial do-gooders, forcing ourselves to feel something alien. Because, that would be dishonest. Sometimes, like in school, or in a disciplinarian workplace, it’s almost cathartic to bond with one’s peers over a particularly tough teacher or boss. Or, with your friends over a particularly horrid ex.

When I say we need to be more empathetic, it simply means putting yourself in anothers’ shoes, understanding their life-experiences, motivations, fears and hopes, and then seeing if you still feel as harshly towards them. Their choice of shoes, style of talking, whatever.

Our opinions of others are subconsciously influenced by our opinions of ourselves.

When we are insecure about certain aspects of ourselves, we unknowingly project these insecurities on the people around us. We disguise our insecurities as their flaws, to make ourselves feel better.

When you begin to empathise with others, you’ll begin to empathise with yourself. And then your own flaws won’t seem so bad either. After all, nobody is perfect.

Understanding helps create stronger bonds.

Ever feel you’re surrounded by friends but can’t seem to discuss your innermost feelings with any of them?

When we empathize and understand the people around us, it helps them break down the walls they’ve built around them. And when they open the floodgates to their honest emotions, that in turn breaks down your own walls. And voila, true friendship is born.

It’s as simple as that.

Today, we are guarded. We are reluctant to share our feelings. We are worried about what others will think, primarily because we, in our heads, have already judged others for those very same feelings we are experiencing. If we don’t judge others, we don’t judge ourselves. And that paves the way for years of self-love and happiness.

So, let us (me included) start understanding others and through them, understanding ourselves.

Enough preaching. Now go have a happy (and judgment-free) Sunday.