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”.

 

 

 

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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. 🙂

Cheers,

Shivani

 

 

 

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.

Cheers.

 

12 beautifully honest letters written by women to their body parts

I don’t remember what inspired this idea. What I do remember, however, is that it was a regular afternoon at work. And that I was jumping with excitement when the thought struck me.

I remember texting all my friends. I wasn’t sure if they’d be up for it. I remember being delighted when many responded positively – they seemed excited. “Sounds fun” were the words many used.

This was a month ago.

My solo trip followed, and then I got busy with work. I received 3 letters.

Last weekend, I decided to step this up. I sent frantic reminders to my friends – and they (enthusiastically) replied with their letters.

Today, I have 12 beautifully written letters – all of which will make you smile.

As women, we share an important relationship with our bodies. There are parts we love, and parts we grow into loving.

This post is an attempt to help us all make peace with our unique body-types, one body part at a time.

I am sure you will relate to these letters, and if not, at least they will make you laugh out loud.

Happy reading.

Dear Miss Chubby Arms, Why you gotta be so stubborn? Can't you like chill a bit like the other parts of me? The others all listen and react to my workouts, but you just stay there the way you are. Maybe I'm stuck with you forever? Maybe you love me so much you don't want to leave? Oh well.  

Dear Curlies,    I hated you as a kid, well my bad! I hadn't realised then, that standing out is way better than fitting in.    As kids, you can be silly you know. I love you more and more each day. Stay as crazy and badass as ever!    PS: Boobies, I love you equally, but em curls deserved a special mention.    With Love, Maith~

Dear Mr. Long Legs and Mrs. Wigglebutt, Just want you to know that...  Baby if you strip, you can get a tip 'Cause I like you just the way you are I'm about to strip and I'm well equipped Can you handle me the way I are? I don't need the G's or the doubleDs Boys I like you just the way you are Let me see you strip, you can get a tip 'Cause I like, I like, I like.   Stay classy!

 

Dear Right Hand...I love you! Yes I do... and that is because you are the means I get to create beautiful things. You help me make art, you help me feel and understand, and you are who I hold a fork with to eat. My god, will you look at me? I am using you to send you love! That’s how much I need you! I know I know, I sound like a desperate lover but well, you are my favorite (psst...now don’t go telling Ms. Lefthand that!!). All the love and kissis... Mama!Dear TUMMY, I know I feed you daily (most times I am told I am pampering you way too much), I do take care of you but I get this feeling that you don't love me much. Why do you stop me from looking at Mr. Feet? And why do you love gravity so much? Because of you, I spend more time in the trial room and less in the actual store. Hope you reduce your overstuffed ego and help me! Love (yeah, sure!) Your mama!

To my dear eyes,  Hey baby how you doing, you are the best thing happened to me, with you I can explore anything and everything, you both are my apple of my"eyes".muahhh

Dear girlfriends,   I remember when you used to be big, bold & beautiful. Now you'll are delicate and dainty.  But here's what I want to tell you, I loved you then and I love you now.   You make me feel like a woman and I carry you with pride.   With love to my boobies

Dear belly....  How are you, how's life on your side, I am sure you are having a great life ahead. You look like wobbly jelly, I just don't understand what to do with you, you have taken an oath of not reducing a bit. But you know what though I don't like you so much, I am still proud of you. 

Lately, the thing that has been bothering me the most is my arms. It makes countless outfits look entirely awkward.    On the upside, I love my breasts!! They are full, tight and the perfect size! (Not too big and not too small) Well, what more do I want ;)

Dear fat, It's about time we had a conversation about my supposed hatred towards you. Let me clear the air, I don't hate you even though you overstay your welcome often. I don’t want to get rid of you, I want to let you go respectfully as your true self: power; power that helps me stay warm, power that helps me build my muscles, power that helps me get things done when I have not eaten all day! I apologise for all the times I have cursed you in front of my friends and family for you are family first. It took me a while to understand that... Lots of Love

“Dear Saggy-Bottoms While other bottoms are full and round, Why do you two lean towards the ground? When I see models and actresses on the screen, Showing off a behind so clean, I wonder if you’d look so flawless, If I posed on a boat with all my prowess. Well, what do I say, you have left me no choice, For you are all I have to show to the boys, Who’d be caught staring at you without noise, Thus, I guess I should rejoice. After all you are not all that bad, You do have reasons to be kept clad, Even if it means a trip to Victoria’s Secret PINK, I’d do it gladly, without a blink. Xoxo E”

And lastly, the showstopper to this entire piece – do take the time out to read this – it will surely make you laugh.

 

Dear Lower Tummy | Letters from women to their body parts | Chai High is an Indian Blog started by Shivani Krishan | This post attempts to help women make peace with their bodies by starting a conversation with the parts that bother them most

There were many others who were supposed to write in, but got busy. Maybe, I’ll do a round 2.

Till then, let’s work towards beginning a conversation with the body-parts that exasperate us and those that delight us – just like these 12 incredibly strong and self-aware women have done. And let’s not forget to tell our bodies that we love them.