Some ‘Grown-up’ Thoughts on School

Let’s talk about school and adulthood today.

I graduated from school in 2017; about three years ago. In the three years I’ve been out of school (and in college) I have come to gradually realise how much of a bubble school really puts you in. When you’re in school, life is easy and very sorted. You have to do your homework, give all your tests and study the syllabus. There are no big surprises or plot twists, it is how it was years ago and it will continue to be the same way.

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This post is one I’ve been considering making for quite a while, as this is something I’ve been thinking for some time. I have almost made it several times, but I felt a bit greedy making this post. I already had a great school life, all 14 years if it, I had my share of it so what more do I want? This is all you get, that’s the whole deal. But this time, my Instagram followers voted for this post so, here you go. (If you too want to one of the unfortunate souls that will be blamed for my future posts, please, by all means, follow my Instagram )

In school, your worries include not being on top of your assignments, the marks you get on those assignments, who you will be sitting within the class, where you will be sitting when the break is if you can convince your teacher to give you a free period, how to sneak into the ground to play, teachers and subjects you like or dislike and other things which in hindsight, seem extremely pointless. You know, I do concede that it might have been pointless but you can’t deny it was dependable. It is a whole world that swallows you in and you don’t realise just how sheltered it has kept you till it coughs you out when you become an adult.

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I realise that as someone who is still in college I haven’t quite escaped the bubble yet and so maybe I haven’t earned the right to talk about this yet. However, since I’ve started to feel the bubble thinning, I will be talking about it and since this is a blog post you cant really stop me. (Haha) In school, you are protected from the real world. You are protected from any real worries. There is a discipline, a timetable, a uniform, most of your big moments are moments that would not matter much once you’re out of school.

In the real world, you have to worry about getting a job and building a resume and getting a house and rising higher and getting fired (Basically money) and your mom is not going to be able to stand up for you if she thinks you’re being unfairly treated. In the real world, people aren’t as nice, or as disciplined. Things don’t follow such order or schedules. There are surprises, plot twists and life takes you in completely different and unexpected directions.

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When my “real life” gets especially hard, I often find myself missing that bubble, that comfort, that sense of home that I associate with school. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to be grown up and an adult and my 10 years old self could not imagine anything better but sometimes, I miss school. I know this isn’t a universal opinion, I was lucky enough to have had a great school experience and to have loved school. I miss the biggest things in my calendar being tests and competitions and doing many things at the same time and having silly things like annual functions to look forward to. I crave the comfort of a life that is sorted; I do my homework and I study well and I get good grades and things are well. To put it simply, I miss the predictability of school.

I’ve been in three schools over my schooling and while they were certainly not all of the same standard(Major major divides here!) I miss each differently and depending on what I am nostalgic for at that moment. I have also realised that more than my individual schools, I miss the institution itself. The stability, the security. “Real life” is full of far too many surprises and twists and turns, it is like being put on a roller coaster after having ridden only a carousel before.

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Even as I say this, I realise, of course, the bubble has to be popped. I know that. I know we have to grow up and fly out, spread our wings and build our lives. It is the curse of the affliction that is being human. For the most part, I love being an adult, I love the independence and I like having control and choices and all the other delights that come with it. All I’m saying is, sometimes, just some very times, I miss the simple joys and blissful ignorance I lived in as a child. I really hope someday I will stop feeling this way but I strongly suspect that it’s a lifelong thing. Oh, the Shakespearean nature of it all, as a child I envied the grown adult’s independent life and an adult I crave a child’s sheltered one. Well played, life, well played.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: Do you miss school or are you happy to have left it? Comment below with what you think about t,I’d love to hear from you!

My Love for Languages

Let’s talk about my special fondness for languages today.

Hello, welcome! Hallo, willkommen! Hola, bienvenido! Namaste, swagat hai! Bonjour, bienvenue!

Now that you are properly(and a little insanely) greeted, let’s get into it, shall we?

Ever since I can remember, I have loved stories. As a kid, I loved having my parents read me bedtime stories and when I could read myself, it was instant love. (And I no longer needed to bargain or annoy my parents into reading me a story, so it was a win-win all around) I had found my passion.No, not stories like you think, but words and in a nutshell, the English language. This passion would eventually grow to encompass not just English and not just reading.

Throughout my schooling, all 14-16 years of it, the one subject that has never wavered from my favourite subject list was English. Other subjects came and went, depending on marks, general understandability, how much I liked the teacher and so on. I studied in an English medium school so, English was everywhere for me and has been one of my strongest assets through the years, due to in part the heavy reading I have done and the amount of attention I have always paid in English. I always tried to have a great relationship with my English teachers(Even when they seemed impossible to my teenage self) because I just really really loved it so much. Just to put this in perspective, my love for it was so all-consuming I sat and read a whole children’s English dictionary for fun. (Really, just get that I was just a giant language nerd.) It is the language I think in and the one I eventually chose to write in, when I discovered a different passion of mine.

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My actual mother tongue, Hindi, was a language I struggled with for a bit majorly with writing it, speaking was very natural(obviously); it’s a completely different script, we were not exposed enough to it, writing it didn’t come to me as naturally as English did(again, probably a lack of exposure thing) and whatnot but I eventually found the beauty within it too. During 9th-10th grade my Hindi curriculum was composed of mostly heavy-duty old and new Hindi literature and classics and these two years did wonders to my vocabulary and command in the language. It was then that Hindi became enjoyable for me, I had been good at it for a few years by then but now I liked being good at it and using it. Still, not as much as English because that was my comfort zone, my proverbial home within the world of languages.

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I was 11 when I realised I had a major soft spot for languages. We had to choose a third language to study alongside Hindi and English. I took German and absolutely loved it. I loved learning new words, learning to count, trying to read, practising pronunciations, listening to people speak in German and whatnot. I just loved learning languages. Languages, I was certain, were my thing. So, I thrived learning German till 8th grade and even gave the FIT in Deutsch exam(The official exam administered by the Goethe Institut to prove proficiency in german) I ended up getting the highest marks in Speaking and missing the full score by a very little margin. I also loved my german teacher, as has already been mentioned, the teachers were an important part of the equation to me because they had all the knowledge and I wanted nay needed it.

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I consider people who know multiple languages to be extremely wise and knowledgeable and the best people all around. (Did you know Audrey Hepburn spoke 5? How cool is that?) It is my most ardent dream to know and speak as many languages as I possibly can. For now, I am somewhere on the road between bilingual and trilingual; I know, understand and speak Hindi and English extremely well and know just enough German to get by, if I absolutely had to.

I’ve realised that my love for languages stems from how I find it crazy how we humans, so different yet so similar, found a way to strings sounds and noise together to mean the same things and eventually figured out symbols and a whole way of representing it written down. I find the different alphabets and scripts and quirks so fantastic. I find the little similarities you can sometimes find in Germanic languages, Romance languages and languages like Hindi fascinating. Did you know that most languages around the world use a word with ‘M’ in it for their mothers? Like ‘mother’ in English,’mata’ in Hindi,’ mutter’ in german,’madre’ in Spanish? How bonkers is it that all these people in all these different geographically distinct places with their own thriving cultures and value systems found similar ways to describe a mother, something they all had in common?

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There is much more fascinating stuff about languages that someone far more knowledgable(or the internet) would tell you. (I am warning you though, it’s quite the rabbit hole) The reason I wanted to talk about this particular fondness of mine at this moment in time though is that I think, in tough times like these, it is more prudent than ever to realise that despite our differences, despite the different tongues we speak, the ways some of us roll our R’s or seem to be speaking in cursive(Looking at you, French) we are all at the end of the day, the same; just human beings. On that note, I wish you well and bid you farewell, in the same few languages I greeted(Read scared) you with, in the beginning.

Goodbye! Auf Wiedersehen! Adios! Alvida! Au revoir!(Did you notice the A’s everyone uses here and the H almost everyone uses in their greetings? Languages are SO incredible.)

THIS POST’S QUESTION: How many languages do you speak? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

Life In The Time of Corona

Let’s talk about my life and experiences with the coronavirus pandemic today.

Let us begin at the very beginning: my birthday. I turned 21 on March 10, 2020, and my family was in the Corbett National Park, on vacation. There was not much talk of the virus there, except the sanitiser bottles provided at the reception and restaurant. It was business as usual. After all, there were 50 total cases in India, no deaths, some people had already recovered and they were only in cities, not a town like the one we were staying in. We came back to Delhi, where I go to University, and I realised that things were not okay when I saw the kind of panic and flurry of masks everywhere. New Delhi was debating locking down the city and closing all schools and colleges to stop the spread of the virus. In 2 days, my University was shut and I told my parents, who were going to Mumbai, our home, on the 16th, to take me along.

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Together, we came back on the 16th of March, armed with our masks, sanitisers, constant hand-washing and being very very careful. Less than a week after my birthday, things were so drastically different than what I could have ever imagined. I was home and have not left the house since. My University began online classes and I was, if possible, more exhausted by them than regular college. It was hard to learn through just the video because my teachers through no fault of theirs, were struggling with this new medium, the classes were published for longer hours, staring at a screen with earphones in for 8-9 hours a day was physically tiring and sitting with assignments after that made it worse. Though it was a rough time, I was busy. It made it easier to deal with things and major life changes like the whole country being on lockdown, the world suffering at the hands of the COVID-19 virus and being far from friends and loved ones.

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My semester officially ended on April 1st and finishing up all the assignments and stuff I was fully done with it by the 3rd. By this time, the country had 50 times the cases it did on my birthday, we were on a country-wide full lockdown, all flights had been completely stopped and, economy and humanity were both suffering. My college then decided to prepone our Summer Internships and think of the exams we would have ordinarily had when the situation “normalises”(So they hoped.So I hope, to this day.)It was made 4 weeks instead of 8 and was scheduled to begin from the 13th, giving me a 10-day ‘holiday’, in which I somehow had to conjure an internship in an environment where people were losing their jobs of many years. Eventually(and thankfully), I got into a company through my college and had an internship in the nick of time(Got my acceptance literally the day before we were supposed to start.)

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In my 10 day ‘break,’ I took the first day or two to chill, which was great but then I realised how the empty mind really is the devil’s workshop. I now had all the time in the world to stress and worry about the current situation, the fast-spreading disease, the people who were ill, the people who had died and the pandemic’s impact on the future, especially as someone who was supposed to find a job this year and graduate next year. All my internship plans had clearly fallen flat, and offers I was pursuing were withdrawn. It was a horrible time, mental health-wise. This is when I first began to be active with blogging again because it helped me cope and gave me something to do. I also made a bunch of mug cakes, made the viral whipped coffee(and realised I should not have coffee, ever) DIY decor things, did a good amount of housework and read some books. (You know, usual pandemic activities) I was always an introvert and would have gladly chosen to Netflix over going out to socialise pre- corona, but I was beginning to realise the value of social interaction, of my university, of being able to be surrounded by people your age.

After the break, I began my internship and my time was filled with meetings with your guide, meetings with my team, working on our project, reading and watching stuff to work on our project and other things that all come down to the project. I am about to finish with my internship and will then be occupied by writing reports on it, for my University. In these 4 weeks, however, I have watched quite a few shows with my family (like Downton Abbey and The Good Place, both of which I highly recommend), watched the news every night to hear about the current COVID cases count, began rereading the Harry Potter books(which I am documenting on my instagram so if you’re interested to join in!), had many baked goods(Thanks mom!) and wrote more blog posts than I have ever written in a month. Musings of A Whimsical Soul has never in the last 4 years(Except the very beginning where I was publishing posts ever two days like a maniac) had a twice a week posting schedule and blogging have become my escape, my recluse and my coping mechanism, yet again.

That brings us to now,2 months into lockdown, no end in sight, with 74K cases in the country, 4.28 M in the world(At the time of writing this post) and us as a world living through these extraordinary times and our new ‘normal’. Most of us have not lived through a pandemic before, the whole world has been brought to a standstill by one virus and we have all realised the value and delights of the good old ordinary life, the life I for one, so easily criticised before.

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I have to admit that I speak from a place of privilege. I am lucky enough to have a roof over my head, be able to eat and sleep and live with very little major change in my life, have an internet connection, not worry about losing my job, I am with my family, I am not at risk by the virus itself and so much more. I am highly and deeply privileged in these times and I would be remiss to not acknowledge it. My objective with this post was not to flaunt my luck but simply to tell my story, to share my highs and lows, to feel connected with all of you across the world, to pay my respects to the unfortunate loss we are facing, stand with all those who are fighting this terrible illness, to let you know that we are all in this together, even if our stories may be vastly different.

This is a much harder time for many of us, and the only thing I can say is, please help if you are privileged enough and able to, please understand what other people are going through, please be empathetic and please, be human. These are unprecedented times and it is in times like this that we realise just how fragile the world we have built is and how important it is to support each other. These are hard times, difficult times and we can only get through them together. Support local businesses and practice social distancing, if not for you and your family then do it for the essential workers risking their lives for all of us at the frontlines. Stay strong and be brave. Give yourself credit, and don’t feel the pressure to ‘hustle’ and be productive right now. That’s not to say do nothing, but we must change our definition of ‘productive’ to one that fits the new world we live in rather than the world we were in before.

Good luck, take care and stay safe!

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What is your COVID-19 story? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

Visiting World Wonders: The Dawki River

Let’s talk about the Dawki River today.

For the previous post in the series, click here.

Hello everyone! Today’s world wonder is a natural one and a pretty obscure one at that! I seriously doubt that you would have heard about this place before reading this post unless I told you or you have been there yourself. If you have, kudos, you’re a chosen one. Pick up your prize on your way out. I am proud to take you, virtually to the magical and mystical Dawki River, about 82 km. away from Shillong, the capital of the north-eastern state of Meghalaya, in India. What is so magical about this place, you ask? Join me and read on, as we go together to this gorgeous river in north-east India.

I first saw a picture of the Dawki river on a travel Instagram account in 2018. It was a photo taken by a drone and it made it look as though a boat was floating on nothing, literally and it was just suspended mid-air. Me being quite the cynic was convinced it had to be edited. There simply was no way this place was real. Then I googled it and saw many more similar photos, still not fully convinced but closer to convinced than not. Then I spoke with my parents about this seemingly, incredible place and one thing led to another and we ended up planning a vacation to North East India for the winter holidays of December 2018.

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December finally came and we here in Shillong at last, after a long day of travel. We were finally going to Dawki! Northeast India is very beautiful, but nothing had me as excited as this fantastical place that I had only seen photos of. We drove out of Shillong and soon our driver told us that we were here and we had to climb down from the road to the valley where the river was through stone stairs. I still couldn’t see it, not properly with all the greenery and thus began climbing down, almost jumping in excitement. Suddenly, the trees parted and in my line of sight, in a very storybook moment, were the emerald green waters of the Dawki River and a tiny boat floating on nothing, looking every bit as breathtaking as I had imagined and then some.

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The Dawki River is smack dab on the India-Bangladesh border. One bank of the river is in India and the other in Bangladesh so tourists from both countries visit it. It is still kind of unknown and is not a widely renowned place, which may be why its beauty is so well preserved and relatively untouched. It is very clean, so much so, that you can see the rocks at the bottom of the river i.e. about 15 ft. deep down, as though they are right next to you. The sunlight bounces off the water, making it look clear as air and the water reflects the green on the mountains around it, making it look the gorgeous emerald green colour that we see. There are tiny wooden colourful boats available to take a ride around the river and these add to the beauty and charm of the place.

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We also ended up taking a boat ride which was a wonderful, unimaginable, breathtaking experience which I mostly spent marvelling at the beauty that I was blessed to be witnessing and awed by the grandeur of the place. It was the best experience of my vacation, one of the best experiences of my life and for once, no words are enough to express just how entrancing and magical it was and is. I hope that the pictures I am sharing speak a thousand words, and speak the right ones because god knows I am not talented enough to do that. I absolutely recommend visiting this extraordinary river in the northeast corner of India to be humbled by the magnificence of nature and to be reminded of the magical world we live in.

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THIS POST’S QUESTION: Have you been to any place that you thought was ‘magical’? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

Visiting World Wonders: The Leaning Tower Of Pisa

Let’s talk about the Leaning Tower Of Pisa today.

For the previous post in the series click, here.

Hello everyone! Today’s world wonder is a pretty famous one and one I have been excited to write about for so long! A UNESCO World Heritage Site, a staunch member of the 7 World Wonders list, the most curious combination of architectural fault and circumstance and the icon of the town that gave us the genius of Galileo Galilei, it is none other than the Torre pendente di Pisa or the Leaning Tower of Pisa as we recognise it, known worldwide for its famous tilt!

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Now the thing about this post is, I have actually written it before and I completed it with pictures and everything and almost scheduled the post. Then I lost it due to my laptop losing power and it not getting saved to draft and I absolutely lost it. I cried and was generally pretty devastated as it was days of effort and it was a good post. I tried everything but it couldn’t be retrieved. This happened in September 2018 and I am finally getting to this post(and series) now in April 2020, so you can imagine how distraught I was by it.

I would be remiss to not mention that I realise writing travel posts in the middle of a global pandemic when none of us can actually leave our houses is pretty sad and counterproductive but I hope I can take you on some virtual trips with me because I think it is better to travel virtually than not at all. I also express my deepest heartache and dedicate this post to Italy and its wonderful people, who have been devastated by the ravages of COVID-19. It is a proud, beautiful country with a rich heritage that I have had the privilege to visit and I know it will get through this.

I visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the summer of 2017 and had been deathly ill the night before when we had been travelling from Venice to Padova, where we were staying. Like, sick enough to have no memory of that night whatsoever, even to date. Pisa originally seemed like it would be impossible to squeeze into our tight schedule in Italy but I finally managed to convince my family that we couldn’t possibly do an Italian vacation without seeing THE Leaning Tower. It is a landmark and an icon and it would be tragic to miss it. So, now you know, there were trials and tribulations involved in me getting to see the Leaning Tower. (And also in writing this post.)

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We took a green bus from the Pisa Centrale that took us to a bus stand quite close to the entrance of the courtyard where the tower resides. By courtyard, I mean the Piazza de Duomo or Cathedral Square where the tower resides and is actually surprisingly not the first thing you notice when you enter. The Square has the Pisa Cathedral, Pisa Baptistry, the Monumental Cemetary and of course, the star of the show or the bell tower that we know and love as the Leaning Tower, just peeking from behind them.

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The Baptistry upfront, the Cathedral and cemetery in the centre and the bell tower in the back.

The Tower is actually only the third oldest structure in the Square and was constructed between the 12th to 14th century. As for the tilt, it’s quite a funny story. Due to the soft ground, the tower was built on being unable to support its weight, it began to tilt during construction. Its tilt actually worsened so much over the years that by 1990 it was leaning a whopping 5.5 degrees. Then the structure was stabilised through restorative work and the tilt currently stands at about 4 degrees.

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The curious statues right opposite the tower

It was quite surreal to see the tower in person. I had read about this tower for so many years, had always rattled off its name as one of the 7 World Wonders, had a childhood fascination with this monument that was so impossibly tilted and had seen so many photos of it. I imagined it to be more massive and grander than it was but honestly, it is surrounded by much grander buildings. It really is the most amusing sight, seeing these gorgeous, imposing Romanesque buildings and then this ‘little bell tower that is just tilting away cheekily.

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Pisa, which is a city in Tuscany has maintained its architecture and old-world charm and even just sitting in the bus and looking out or the in the little walk to the Piazza it felt like in a way we were travelling through time and just stepping into history. Dont get me wrong, our trip to the leaning tower was absolutely worth the hype. It really is a World Wonder and leaves you full of wonder and I absolutely recommend going to see the tilt live and in action. I would love to go there again and perhaps explore more of the city and its history.

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In conclusion, you can’t help but admire the spirit of this tiny bell tower that has made the city so famous and was clearly not intended to be its defining feature. It became so by what was an architectural fault as well as a twist of fate, and essentially a flaw, which made it so unique that people from all over the world come to Pisa and Italy for it, to this day, even centuries later.

For the next post in the series,click here.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: Have you ever been to the Leaning Tower of Pisa? How was your experience? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

The Tale of my “Hermione Complex”

Let’s talk about my “Hermione Complex” today.

Hi, before we get into the post itself, here’s an update from the last post(The Dance of Hobbies Lost.) If you follow me on Instagram you already know but for the blog-only followers here we go. The update on my re-learning Odissi i promised you. I am pleased to report that Manglacharan is coming along nicely and I am actually done with re-memorising the steps of the whole thing and am now cleaning and polishing it! It was surprising how much came back to me when I started to try to learn it. If that doesn’t inspire you to pick up your lost hobbies, I don’t know what will! Now, let’s hop out of the old one and back into this post.

Since I have been a kid, I’ve been a very curious child. I would ask A LOT of questions about everything(Think everything ranging from why the sky is blue to why can’t cars run on nitrogen) and in hindsight I might have been a very annoying child. I was also obsessed with knowing little tidbits or facts about EVERYTHING and could not be stopped from announcing said facts if the topic arose, which again seems to be making me a very annoying kid. My parents bless them, mostly encouraged my behaviour, which I really appreciate now, it must have been hard.

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The blue sky due to scattering of different wavelengths of sunlight, of course!

To fulfil my apparently bottomless thirst for facts, I used the many encyclopedias I hoarded and was absolutely besotten with, other people’s encyclopedias that I borrowed, eventually, the internet and in a move that was probably not appreciated a lot, adults around me. I also had a loyal subscription to many magazines that were essentially mini encyclopedias or factbooks, like Manorama’s Tell Me Why. I still have some of my encyclopaedias with me which I sometimes glance through, although tragically my younger sister never quite learned to love facts the way I did.

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In fact, this habit of mine was bad enough that I got a reputation in our friends and family of being a know-it-all. If something has come up, Arushi definitely already knows something about it. If we went to a vacation, I seemed to announce facts right off the bat, often from what I read on the little info boards no one bothers to read, if we were eating something new I announced facts about its country of origin or whatnot, if we were looking at the sky I announced facts about stars and as I am writing this I realise I haven’t changed that much, and so I should probably take this moment to say sorry to everyone who has had to suffer through my fact-telling. All that has changed is that I’ve learnt to tell my facts to people who actually love me or truthfully can’t escape them, that is, my closest friends and immediate family.

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A gorgeous shot of the Milky Way which, did you know, is never still and is always rotating?

At first, I was quite affronted with this reputation I didn’t want to be treated differently because I knew stuff about stuff. Eventually, I embraced it and realised that all my role models like Matilda from Matilda and Hermione from the Harry Potter series were huge know-it-alls, I loved them for it and should be happy to join this club. However, embracing it meant that as I grew older and lived and loved the “Matilda” life I also got really good at knowing very little about something and being able to convince people I knew much more, which is you know, bad. But my fact-knowing self loved being the go-to person for knowing stuff and wanted to be the most knowledgable person at all times which is, obviously not possible.

This habit of mine extended everywhere but as I grew into a teenager surrounded by the pressure to fit in and be on top of all the latest trends, it applied most notoriously to pop culture. I was effectively toeing the line between what was true and untrue(Not properly lying because I never said I knew a lot about that thing or that I had watched that entire show or movie) but I was faking it and honestly, although it isn’t something to be proud of, I was also getting away with it. Only my best friend has ever really caught me on this but getting caught triggered me realising that I had a problem and had developed, as I called it, a “Hermione Complex”.

Realisation is the first step in recovery and I knew it. I needed to get better. Over the years, as I have grown out of(thankfully)the joys of my insecure teens and into a more confident adult, I have actively checked myself and tried to stop pretending I know things I know very little about. I can admit to Pop culture blanks of knowledge or even regular blanks of knowledge. I still have a Hermione Complex, a much calmer, tamer version of the same. I don’t think I will be outgrowing it and honestly, I hope not. I want to have random knowledge about British royalty and the production process of Gouda cheese. I am still the person who knows a lot about everything, is your girl for trivia quizzes, is some of my friends’ pop culture dictionary, will knock down Buzzfeed quizzes about random knowledge and am still a lot of people’s go-to person when they want facts on something new or random.

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Told ya!

I still spout facts about vacation spots, but in a good way, leading to fun experiences, like when our tour guide at the Vatican loved me because I knew so much about the art and the sculptures that we ended up chatting away and bonding. She really was the sweetest soul and told me I would grow up to be a very wise person, the best kind of person and that I reminded her of her dad, who I suspect was another “Hermione complex” affected individual. That is something I really appreciated hearing and value, from a complete stranger. Lastly, the important thing to note about the Hermione complex is that while it is named for one of our favourite female know-it-alls, it is gender-neutral. Anyone can have it and it is not something to be scared of if you have it or if someone around you does because, as annoyed as we pretend to be, we all need people in our lives who will tell us about how moon dust tastes, on-demand. (like, gunpowder, according to the astronauts on Apollo 17)

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THIS POST’S QUESTION: Do you have the “Hermione Complex” or know someone who has it? Did you out-grow it? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

The Dance of Hobbies Lost.

Let’s talk about lost hobbies and my neglected relationship with Classical dance today.

These days, with being shut in the house, with nowhere to go, not much to do and always being inches away from driving each other insane, social media is the obvious respite. So, as I scrolled through Instagram and saw everyone else bake, cook, make art, play instruments and develop new hobbies I went down the rabbit hole of my thoughts and realised that I was no longer the person with a million hobbies as I had been for most of my life. I had, somewhere along the years, lost my many hobbies. But how, did I get here?

I was a pretty hyperactive kid, on an almost clinical level. My parents knowingly, or unknowingly cracked how to deal with all my pent up energy: Activity classes. I was always in a billion activity classes. You name it, I’ve taken a class for it. Be it arts and crafts, piano lessons, abacus classes, dance lessons, karate, roller skating, I’ve done it all. I left all classes over the years for various reasons ranging from  I was simply getting busier with school and couldn’t keep up with all my classes, I just really sucked and it was a waste of time and money and the ultimate, me or some other kid was injured and it scared our moms into pulling us out of the class.

I don’t regret having lost touch with most of them. Obviously, the ones I was terrible at or didn’t engage with for too long I hardly miss, but I do have some form of sadness attached to the ones I was good at. It comes down to two but majorly one, really. When I was 9-10ish(I think) I had to choose between piano and dance because I no longer had time for both and I chose dance. After all, at the time it seemed obvious, I had invested more time in it, I was better at it, I was giving exams in it and it seemed the only choice but sometimes, just sometimes and in times of lockdown, I wonder what could have been, where I might be if I should have chosen the other way around, maybe I could have played the piano and been happier now. Ah well, can’t change the past, can we?

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So, let us now get into the second but actually major hobby which requires a bit of a storytime about me. I have been dancing since I was a baby, as my mom would tell you but have trained in some Indian classical form from the ripe age of 3. From when I was 5 to when i was 16, I trained in the classical dance form of  Odissi and have given enough exams to be a trained Odissi dancer, at least on paper.

Most of you are probably wondering what Odissi is at this point so let us take a brief intermission to tell you a little bit about it. Odissi is an Indian classical dance form belonging to the state of Odisha and is the oldest surviving dance form of India and perhaps, one of the oldest in the world. It originated in the temples of ancient India and is considered to be one of the most difficult Indian dance forms due to the grace and technique involved and the subtle balance between masculinity and femininity each dancer has to maintain in every piece. This is not just my opinion, but obviously, I am a bit biased towards believing it.

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Now, getting back to me and Odissi, I’ve learnt it for 10+ years, had 2 teachers, given many exams, participated in some competitions, even won some, given even more performances and have lived and breathed the classical dance life, at least before I moved across the country and was entering 11th grade and could no longer keep up with it. It has been 5 years since then. In those 5 years, Odissi has helped me in little ways like being my unique identifier, how choreographing a little piece that got me into the (western) dance society of my college ensured dance stayed in my life, with my general posture and whatnot, but honestly and a very difficult thing for me to admit is that I’ve mostly lost touch with the dance form.

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One of my very few good dancing photos from the pre-good smartphone camera era

There are some factors to why. I really had to study during the last 2 years of high school and simply didn’t have time to practice. All my music was on primitive memory devices like cassette tapes or at maximum, a CD because that’s what most places where we performed or participated allowed. Thus, I can no longer access it and have lost quite a lot in the move too. I was not on social media when I moved as I was a kid and have lost touch with my dance classmates. Most importantly, I did not choose to prioritise it. Then suddenly, a few months ago I had the jarring realisation that my dancing style had changed from doing western over the last 3 years and I could barely remember any Odissi.

I was sad about it, but also, life was busy. I forgot. I was ready to give it up as one of the things I grew out of but then, this lockdown happened. Now, I was forced to confront how much I had neglected something I loved so much growing up and how much I regretted it. I knew it was time to fix the situation and to once again, bring Odissi back in my life. I tried looking up the music online, it didn’t work very well because there are many different kinds of music and I didn’t find the exact one I learnt on, so there was no chance of triggering some musical memory of mine.

I decided on trying to re-learn what is the most basic and simplest dance piece in Odissi, the Mangalacharan. It is a traditional invocatory item, usually dedicated to one Hindu God and having a Trikhandi Pranam,i.e. three salutations: salutation to god, the teacher or guru and the audience. I saw many videos and saved them and will now be embarking on this journey of trying to re-teach myself something I had been so good at and hoping to trigger some old recesses of my memory where all these pieces went and have hopefully survived the attacks of adulthood. I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck!

THIS POST’S QUESTION: Do you have any lost hobbies you regret? Have you thought about picking them up again? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

What do I write to you?

Let’s talk about what should we talk about today.

I write to you today about my utter dilemma about what to write about. Good heavens, I am sorry, that’s quite the beginning to the post; just throwing you in the deep end, no easing, no warning, nothing. Please allow me to explain as I walk you through my predicament.

Perhaps, after months of nothing, since I am suddenly showing up here now (I have been somewhat around on my Instagram, so do follow me there if you’d like to not be surprised by my sudden and erratic posting:@musingsofawhimsicalsoul) I should talk about what i was up to in these past few months. Since  I last posted in November, that would be exams in December, a very gruelling college schedule January onwards, a concussion(from a kick in the head, so quite the story), all the pre-internship things and my first ever job interview(with Google!) in February, turning 21 in Corbett National Park on a family vacation in March to finally today, April 1st, my last day of (now, online) classes, which gives me the time to write to you.

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Me with my surprise birthday balloons on March 10, it is so crazy how much things have changed in such little time??

Or maybe, I can’t post anything without addressing the current climate and situation that we all are dealing with. The COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on our lives, the lives we have already lost, the brave souls in essential services fighting to make our lives easier on the frontlines and just how much it infuriates me to see people not taking this seriously. Should I be cautioning you and spreading awareness about flattening the curve? Should I talk numbers and how anxious they make me as we look at the rising numbers every day from the midst of a 21-day lockdown? Should I talk about the fact that even as I say all this, I am feeling so incredibly guilty for how comfortable I am to be in my home with my family and living life with not much of a hindrance? Should I be asking you to think of the less fortunate, the ones who are affected the most? Should I ask you to donate, if you can, to food banks or to government funds, to aid small businesses, to think of the people in your employ or the ones you take rent from?

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The coronavirus curve we need to flatten, found on the CDC website.

Should I acknowledge my privilege in being able to sit down and write all this down for you? Or, should I talk about how scared I am of the uncertainty regarding our future, where the world we would be after this is over? I am scared of the economy I would be inheriting. How, as someone who is supposed to find a job in the upcoming year and has no idea what will happen with my internship the economic ruination this will bring terrifies me. Or perhaps, my hope that we all are kinder and value each other and just appreciate the little things much more?

Simply put, should I be talking about my fears for our present or the future? Or mundane things like how I am going to pass time now that my college is over? Perhaps, I should be distracting you from all this uncertainty and negativity, bring you my regular scheduled(Yes, I see the irony here.) content. Maybe you’ve had enough of all the negativity and just want to escape. So today, after 4 months of nothing, in the middle of a global pandemic, I ask you, What do I write to you?

THIS POST’S QUESTION: This is a unique post,the entire post itself is a question,so please,tell me,What content do you want to see from me? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

Growing up: The Story of my Favourite Colour

Let’s talk growing up this March, as I officially bid adieu to teenage. It’s all about self-acceptance today.

When I was 4 and I just started going to school, my favourite colour was pink. I obviously did not remember that but my mum had asked me a bunch of questions when I was 4 one of which was about my favourite colour and just started school and I found a little notebook with the answers. They were quite interesting actually. I was a big fan of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. (One of the reasons I haven’t still watched the horror take on it. Sorry, not sorry.) There are also many photos of me with a lot of pink things so it is safe to say, that this can be considered a fact.

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Anyway, the bottom line is, my first recorded favourite colour was pink. Then, as I grew up and my interests and personality changed, naturally, so did my favourite colour. My next favourite colour was black. (Dun dun dun.) the very obvious question that must be asked is: why that very sudden and very polar shift in personal taste? How do you go from pink to black? Even in a color box set, those two are so far away?

I think I’ve figured out how. At 4, I started school. In school, I interacted with many people my age and older. I was told that pink is a ‘girly’ favourite colour. I was not a ‘girly’ girl though and I didn’t want to be misjudged on my favourite colour. Most of my friends were boys, I didn’t mind being messy or dirty, I liked sports and I liked to play rough. Does that sound like someone whose favourite colour is pink? 9 year old me believed it did not and since pink didn’t suit my personality I willed myself into making black my favourite colour. It was perfect. Apart from it being super dark to hear a 9-year-old say their favourite colour is black, the adults were always a tad weirded out.

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After that, as I grew up more, I came to a point where I had no favourite colour. If someone asked, I said I liked all colours equally or worse, I like rainbow colours. I thought I was a genius for saying that. This stemmed from the realisation that favourite colours are a childish thing and as a super grown-up teenager, I’m obviously politically correct and so wise, so no favourite colour it is. It was all going great except I realised pretty soon that I really don’t like green or orange all that much.

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As I reached adulthood, I found the maturity to accept, finally, once and for all, that I have many favourite colours but I do not love all colours equally. If I had to choose one, I’d say blue and that’s all. I also like pink and black and purple and yellow. Blue is just a colour that appeals to me right now and is not a statement about me being a ‘girly’ or ‘boyish’ girl or being ‘politically-correct’. It is simply a colour I have a preference for at this point in my life and it is for sure not a big deal.

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I’ve realised that growing up is about being open and accepting of these things about you. The little facts about you like your favourite colour, while seemingly trivial are still important and the only person whose opinion matters here is you. So to my twenties, I take with me acceptance of and joy in who I am, love and pride for all these little details about me, to be able to say my favourite colour is blue because it is and to not let society define my favourite colour. To live with one simple motto,” I am who I am. No apologies.”

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What was your childhood favourite color? What is it now? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Growing up: Roaring 20’s

Let’s talk growing up this March, as I officially bid adieu to teenage. It’s finally D-Day today.

Hello everyone. Today, the 10th Of March 2019 is my 20th birthday. I have now existed for at least 2 decades,240 months,7300 days,175200 hours,10512000 minutes and 630720000 seconds. That is a long, long time. Today’s post is for all intents and purposes, my birthday post, where I look back, look ahead and at now, as well. Let’s begin.

20 years ago, I was a tiny, crying, very red baby just fresh into the world. It was still a whole another century and the world sat on the cusp of the 21st century with many hopes and dreams for the wave of modernity it represented. It was still the 90’s, the era of good television, great music and even better clothing. The 2000s were almost upon us, with their nightmare-inducing fashion choices, still good television and still decent music. It was a much simpler time.

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20 years hence, I am not-so-tiny, still crying, red no longer, very much an adult and already a little bit over the world. We are nearly 2 decades into the 21st century, which is running at such a pace that each decade feels like a century in itself. The world is, in some ways a better place but still, a work in progress with so much left to fix. It is a very complicated time.

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Not much has changed.

In these 20 years, I have learned and experienced so much. I have learned to talk and walk and eat and jump and run and so much more. I have completed 15 years of schooling,2 years of college and am so much wiser. (Questionable)I have trained in dance for 12 years and I’m still dancing. I have been to 9 countries,2 continents and have travelled to and seen a sizeable(yet tiny) chunk of the world. I have read and watched beautiful stories. I have opinions and thoughts and likes and dislikes. In these 20 years, that very red baby has become a person.

Turning 20 is a monumental birthday. It signals the end of another decade as well as of adolescence. I have grown a lot in this decade as well as my teenage years(Perhaps not in height but mentally yes) but I am honestly delighted to say goodbye to my teenage and all the ‘joys’ that puberty brings. I can, however, no longer blame my hormones for my behaviour, which is a tragedy. Thank you teenage, for making me the strong-willed woman I am today.

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20 for me is a birthday full of hope. I am finally entering my 20’s, the peak of my youth, the beginning of the years in which I find the life I will live henceforth. I have no idea where I will end up and this is the starting point. I will finish my formal education( Education itself is lifelong, only formally will I be done), I will get my first actual job(I have actually had a non-paid writing job for a not-for-profit organisation already), I will live in my first house, I may even get engaged and/or married!  How crazy is it that all these milestones of my life happen in just these 10 years!

All these are such “grown-up” things in my head and hence I find myself struggling a little with the concept of growing up around this birthday. I am no longer a “barely-adult” adult, now I am a real one even if I don’t necessarily feel like one. I want to take my 20 years of existing, take the best out of them and take it with me as I enter this phase of my life. I would like some more optimism, as the pressure of adulthood, as well my teenage rebellion, has taken quite a lot of it away already. I would like to know it’s okay to depend on people sometimes, okay to miss people and so great to feel love and be loved. I want to hope and have childlike imagination with responsibility and courage. With all this and much more, I launch into my roaring 20’s, here I come!

THIS POST’S QUESTION:  Are you going to/have turned 20? What did/are you feel(ing) like? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!