The Undergrad Story : Hostel Life

When I talk about my college life, it’s impossible to not talk about me staying in the hostel. That’s an extremely huge part of my entire journey!

When you move away from home, it’s really daunting. You’re scared, worried and also excited for this new adventure of yours. I felt all of these emotions and more. But I did not expect everything else that would come after me!!

I’m gonna divide this post into sections and then tell you about everything in detail! That seems like the best way to talk about this.

Roommates

So in the first year, my roommates were two seniors – a final year student and a second year one, and three batchmates. One of them was from the same division as me, so that was nice.

I…didn’t get along with my senior roommates. They were the kind that would go around parading the fact that they were seniors which meant we had to respect them and listen to their orders. There was this unsaid rule that we need to call them “didi”, tell them what we do, ask them before going out and live in the room according to their rules. And this didn’t sit well with your girl. 💁🏻‍♀️

It just wasn’t them though. They had this entire ‘senior gang’ and we had to treat all of them this way. My same-year roommates and I didn’t like it. It was so forced. We had rights too! But what could we even do? We were newbies!

Regardless of the people there, I had a super hard time adjusting to the environment there. The entire first year was the hardest.

But I am glad I had really nice Year-1 roommates. We all got along well. It helped me be sane. One of them became a close friend of mine too!

Year-2 came along and this meant that the seniors went away. It was a huge sigh of relief. There were two rooms of ours that were so well knit together, it felt like we were one room itself! We’d all go together to have meals at the mess, walk to class and sit around in one of the rooms and talk. It was pretty cool.

My roommates now were three new admission kids and my previous same-year roommates. Two out of the three of them were something else. They would actually just take stuff without consent and also steal stuff like biscuits!! It was kind of scary towards the end. Thank God they left our room the next year 😂

In Year-3 I had 3 new MBA students as roommates. My God, what chaotic people were they! They would keep screaming at their s/o on the phone every night and we would just stare in shock! There would be fights amongst themselves too every second day. This one girl, had the most drama that surrounded her. For attention she would just cry, so that we would sit by her side for an hour. It was just downright chaos. Sometimes it would be funny, and sometimes annoying. But rest assured, no one was gonna stay bored in that room!

All in all, I had a weird set of roommates in all the three years. No wonder I had a headache every other day!

Mess Food

How can I not talk about food when I talk about hostel?!

So, we had a mess on-campus. For the ones who don’t know what that means (or maybe there’s another word for it but I can’t recall), it’s a place that’s sort of like a canteen but they cook all your 3 meals there itself and give it to you. They cook, you eat.

I was not a fan of the food. It was completely different from what I was used to.
Talking about the food items, not the texture of the food. We shall come to that in a while…

The food that was cooked was mostly from the Maharashtrian cuisine. And here I was, a South Indian that loves North Indian food.
I didn’t know most of the dishes that was being served! I used to literally pick at my food to see what it’s made of because I would be so confused. My roommates would actually guide me on how to eat some of it! And also pass remarks…

Once a week or two they would give us North Indian food and your girl here would wait all week just for that. I used to have actual tears seeing this. And when I would sit to eat everyone around would start complaining about this ‘different’ food and how it should not be in the menu anymore. I’d just stuff myself with the food while being happy and sad at the same time.

When I was in my Third Year, the boys successfully took out the two – three North Indian dishes from the menu. As everyone rejoiced, I was in pain. It was just so sad for me 😭

Coming to the quality of the food now, it sucked. The food was incredibly oily and also really watery. Sometimes the food would be good but they weren’t consistent at keeping the food quality up. I then learnt that some of the food actually required to be watery so it started to be a me-problem because I just wasn’t used to the food they gave. But all in all, it was okay. It was eatable. I mean, that’s how mess food is usually right? You eat only to fill yourself. After all nothing can beat home made food!!

The Warden + Hostel Rules

When I joined the hostel, the warden at the time was an amazing person. She was really sweet and understood us. When I struggled initially she helped me out a ton. I had grown to like her but she had to leave. And then came the next warden….

This lady was the absolute worst. She would be really sweet to you on your face, but when it comes to anything she wouldn’t have you back. Infact she would go against you.

She brought in a lot of stricter rules, and never gave permission to go out on the weekends easily even if our parents would call and tell her they want us to go. If she saw you on campus and you were talking to a classmate that is a guy, she would judge you in the hostel. We were adults, not kids!!

She had this notion that all the girls lie to their parents and that everyone was spoilt hence she would do all this. But it was just really unfair. It was suffocating. If someone had their birthday we’d celebrate it at 12 midnight. She would then come barging in saying how dare we make so much noise, and that our parents never taught us anything.

It’s a birthday…..from where did all this nonsense come?

She also had problems with how girls would dress up in their rooms and this we found funny. Because we just didn’t care anymore.

If we either went out, or were returning from home, she would always refuse to send a college car to pick us up from the bus stop and drop us at campus. Let me tell you, the entire forest-like up-hill path from the bus stop till the main gate was a 20 minute long walk. All she had to do was make a call. But she wouldn’t do that.

There was this one incident where my group planned to go to the city on a Sunday to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It was 5pm but we didn’t get any city buses to the college so we called ma’am up to inform her that we could be late. Her phone wasn’t reachable. By the time we got a bus and reached the college bus stop, it was 6:30pm. We called her up and told her we needed a college car to take us to the hostel and she refused saying it was our fault for coming late! In absolute shock we started fighting with her saying we didn’t come late on purpose and that it was dark, we were scared to walk on that creepy path alone. She said, “I don’t care, I am not calling anyone.” My friend and I, who were the only 2 girls got scared. We had guys in our group who said they would walk with us. But while walking I called my parents up and told them what happened. My mom called her up and blasted at her, saying that my safety was in her hands. She tried to blame us it seems, but my mom didn’t listen to any of it. Halfway, we saw a college car coming towards us 😌

After reaching the hostel, the ma’am called my friend’s parents to tell them atleast about how ‘characterless’ we were. But as my friend had also told her parents about the entire thing, and her brother was also with us, they knew the truth + they knew all of us so knew we weren’t like that. So her plan failed again. That ma’am didn’t speak to us for 2 weeks because of this and that’s what still amuses me.

~~~

After Year-3, I left the hostel and stayed in the main city. I rented out a flat with 4 other girls and that was the best decision I had taken. All these factors just drove me out of the hostel without even turning back once!

The hostel experience truly changed me. I also got to know so much about such diverse lifestyles and cultures, and that’s something that makes me happy. I also enjoyed the little parties that were thrown for birthdays. The big parties like Freshers and Farewell? Not so much because there was always drama there, either related to the food or the warden 🤷🏻‍♀️

I don’t know if anyone had such an experience like mine in the hostel. A lot of them miss it now. But me? I would never like to step back in there. I hated it.

And I will hate it for the rest of my life.

The Undergrad Story : Miss Dubai Return

Standing in the corridor waiting for our turn to enter the lab, our practical group was talking amongst ourselves to pass the time. The usual chit-chat. We were bored, so ofcourse this was what we were doing!

My roommate brought up a topic which required a friend to take his phone out and check his call log. Over his shoulder was another guy peeking into his phone (this was a standard habit of people there 🤦🏻‍♀️) and seeing the names. This guy then starts screaming, “Oh my God who is this Miss Dubai Return in your phone? Ohooo what a name!” And the guy in question points at me and says, “It’s Keerthi. No one else!”.

This was followed by a moment of silence. And then everyone started pounding on me asking me what connection I had with ‘Dubai’. I was just staring at everyone blankly because I was trying to process what was happening.

The guy then says, “Arrey it’s because she is from Dubai!” Everyone turn towards me in full bollywood movie style and say, “Ooooo!” I on the other hand, don’t understand anything.

I then proceed to say that I came to India after my 10th thinking it would calm them down knowing that I don’t stay there anymore and it’s been a few years since I have left. But no this seemed to have added more fuel to the fire. They kept saying, “Holy shit you were there till 10th!!!”

As we entered class things seemed to have calmed down. So I eventually forgot about it. Just considered it as a one-off incident.

A few months later I was walking around campus searching for a professor. While I was doing so I passed a few boys from the hostel. I heard them say, “That’s Miss Dubai Return!” I was shocked! What just happened?

I went to my room and told my roommate this. She then tells me, “I didn’t tell you this before? Our entire batch calls you that!!”

“So you’re saying…”, “Yes, that’s your tag. Everyone knows you as this now”.

I found it shocking and amusing at the same time. From batchmates to seniors, everyone would call me this. Either to my face or to my back.

I didn’t really talk to a lot of people. Especially the first two years. It was only with my group that I did and so they would call me this to my face. But the other people would say things like, “Oh she doesn’t talk a lot with people ’cause she is Miss Dubai Return!” or “She isn’t approachable because she has different standards”.

Let me tell you, none of this affected me. It infact made me laugh because the way their association with things worked was pure stupidity.

I mean yeah, okay I am aware of the preconceived notions people here have about anyone that has lived in The United Arab Emirates. But none of it is true! How could it be true? I don’t own the Burj Khalifa and neither are my best friends Sheikhs. That is not the reality!!

If I did well at oratory competitions it would be said that it is because I am ‘Miss Dubai Return’. If I would shout at anyone because I was angry someone would say, “Look at Miss Dubai Return scream!” If I ran like a headless chicken during a PE practical people would exclaim, “Look at Miss Dubai Return run!” If I was being introduced to someone new the first thing the person would say is, you guessed it, “She is Miss Dubai Return. Never forget!”

Safe to say, this tag didn’t leave me till the fourth year ended. There were times when I got so mad I could punch a wall, and there were times when I laughed for a minute straight listening to how it was being used.

Looking back, I find the whole thing ridiculous. I wish I could go back in time and change how my contact was saved in the person’s phone. Atleast I wouldn’t have this weird name that people called me.

But then again, how many people can say that they were known by an unusual title and that their every move was associated with it?

The Undergrad Story : The Outsider

When I was settling in my hostel room, my roommates tried to make small talk with me. You know, the whole, “Where are you from?” conversation. But here’s the thing that happened, I didn’t understand what was being asked!

No, it’s not that I didn’t understand the question. I didn’t understand that she asked me a question.

And that was because she asked me a question in a language I didn’t know!!

When I told her I didn’t understand, you should have seen everyone’s expressions. It was as if I murdered someone right infront of them!

Turns out, the people there were predominantly natives of the state and hence only spoke in their language.

And here I was, who not only wasn’t a native of the state, but also didn’t even understand a single syllable of that language…

People were quick to shun me out of things, be it in the hostel or college because I wasn’t one of them. It sucked, and it hurt, but I still powered through because it was just the initial days.

In class, all the professors taught in their mother tongue. Not being able to understand a single word, I’d always raise my hand in between class and say, “Could you please repeat that in English or Hindi? I don’t understand this language”. Word to word, it was this that I said. Like a parrot I would continuously say this in every class, everyday.

It was extremely exhausting.

Then a day came when a professor gave some important announcements in their language. Me being my usual self put my hand up, and said my usual sentence to which she just stared at me and said, “Child, you are an outsider. We converse only in our mother tongue here. The language is pretty easy, you’ll learn it in no time. No one is going to repeat anything for you. Especially not me”.

Her words felt like a slap across my face.

Hurt and furious, I narrated the entire incident to my parents. They were just shocked. They knew what all was happening but this was the tipping point. How much can a person tolerate?

A week later, we had a parent – staff meeting. My dad came and after the meeting he spoke to my teacher guardian (us students were assigned a supervisor called “teacher guardian” in the first year).

He directly started screaming at her saying, “The staff CANNOT tell my daughter she is an outsider. If this is what happens here then why did you give her admission in this college? You know we aren’t from here, this isn’t our language. If you are teaching in languages other than English then why in the world would you take her in?!”

My dad also fought with the admissions office that day. You know what the quickest way to being popular is? Create multiple fights with the staff and administration. You’re gonna be glared at for the rest of your course but atleast everyone knows you now!

My teacher guardian was an amazing human. She supported me throughout and realized that what was happening was totally unfair. So she arranged a meeting for me with my first year director.

I entered his office and he smiled at me. He then told me, “See 95% of the crowd here are from rural areas, which means they don’t understand English. Just because you and a few other students aren’t from here doesn’t mean we can change our ways now right? We have to support the majority here. You, are in the minority.”

As I turned red with anger and was fuming, I told him that since our syllabus is in English I believe kids here would understand if you tried. I also told him how I am willing to meet them mid – way and that if we were taught in Hindi I’d still be okay. To which he told me, “You can always clear your doubts and ask for re-explanation of topics you don’t understand in class during practicals. I will tell all our staff to pay attention to your needs at that time. But for normal classes I shall not tell them to switch languages.”

The next thing I did was go to almost every hostel room and ask the kids living there if they couldn’t understand English. To my surprise, they all said they could! I don’t think I have ever been more angrier than I was at that time ever in my life….

There were a few other kids that were being treated like me. So by the end of the year we all had come together and became a group. Everyone would call us the “baharwaalas” which meant “the outsiders”. It irked all of us that this, had become our identity and that this is what life here was going to be for the entirety of our degree.

All of us believed that this would probably only be for the first year and that when we would go into our respective departments in the second year, it would be okay.

You’ve read along for this long. What do you think? Did things get better? Did we get heard?

Yes, you’re right. We didn’t get heard. This entire thing continued till the last day of college.

Life after entering the department (specialization) wasn’t easy one bit. I knew there was no point in bringing anything up so kept quiet. But everyone kept sidelining us because we were “outsiders” who didn’t deserve to be a part of everything going on.

The language wasn’t a problem any longer. I respected their choices and went along. I also had begun to understand the language a bit. The problem I had though was with the people there for not allowing me to be a part of activities because I wasn’t a native. For them to continuously kick me out because I belonged to a place that wasn’t theirs is what made me extremely sad.

It wasn’t just things like Art Club, where they chose to form groups based on nativity rather than talent for dance and drama performances. But it was also things like inter – department activities such as debate competitions and what not where the rules itself never allowed people outside their crowd to even take part.

Not being able to stand all of this happening in the performing arts space, I was quick to make my exit from the club. But how could I exit my own department?

Even in the hostel, groups were formed. So you see, it wasn’t just a college thing. It was basically how the crowd in the entire campus functioned. Hence there was no escaping.

The four years of mine in that campus were spent with this stamp on my forehead, which meant I had a direct exit from anything and everything. I’d like to call it out as discrimination. How is it that they would call this behaviour of theirs is something I am not interested to know.

It was just really unfair and totally de-moralizing. It takes a toll on you and your mental health when you are subjected to this for a prolonged period of time. There were times I doubted myself and my worth because I wasn’t included in things I felt I do well. I don’t think that should happen, right?

It’s a miracle I came out of the place as a sane person. Trying to keep my sanity intact throughout my degree was surely a task though.

I’m just glad that I don’t have to hear the term “outsider” again.

The Undergrad Story : The Beginning of the End

Stepping out of the car with bags filled with articles I own, a head filled with dreams and a heart filled with excitement, I walked towards my hostel. As I opened the door of my room, expecting happy and welcoming people, an instant feeling of oh-no-what-have-I-gotten-into crept in when I saw the faces there.

I tried sleeping it off, thinking it was just nerves. But when I got to class and the same feeling crept in, I knew.

I knew that this feeling was real. I really did get myself into an awful place.

I pushed through the initial two days thinking it was all in my head. It’s a completely new place, completely new set of people, completely new environment – of course I am going to feel out of place. I believed that things would get better. I gave myself time to understand the surroundings and learn how this new world I was in functioned. I couldn’t just give up because I had this weird feeling in my bones that all of this isn’t right. Right?

Wrong. I should have listened to my gut feeling and ran off from there right after the first week. But no, naive Keerthi was all, “it’s okay it’s just a few days you will get used to it. It isn’t all that bad.”

A week after me pushing myself to be “comfortable” with my surroundings, I realised that this was too much work. It shouldn’t be this much work!! The only work I should be doing is on what I came to learn but apparently that doesn’t happen here!

It began with the constant taunts on how I was an outsider to then taking a jab at my upbringing in the United Arab Emirates. I tried to fit in but they just kept pushing me out.

There is only so much a person can tolerate without losing their cool. And I lost it at my one month mark.

There was this feeling of being lost that settled within me at this point. I was trying my level best to be okay with everything, and did what I do best – blame myself for everything happening. But I just couldn’t feel better.

It’s a lot to take in. An entire new culture with zero supportive people, and you’re also away from home. I felt like I was drowning. I wanted to ask for help and I did, but the college only kept blaming me saying I need to “adjust” to this environment.

That’s what I tried to do. It takes me time to adjust to things, I’ve always been that way. And with everyone around me screaming that it was my fault anyways, that I was being too stubborn about being set in my ways and not bending myself to the “new place”, I was convinced that the problem lied in me. So I believed that I had to do just what it is they said. And then magically everything will be okay.

But as the days passed by, I felt cornered a lot. I wasn’t included in a lot of things. And all of this stung me. Here I was, changing my identity to fit in yet I wasn’t being heard. What was it going to take?

I used to cry every alternate day while going to bed. And on the I phone would tell my parents that I’m trying but I just can’t seem to be happy in this shit hole. That everyone seems hellbent on bringing me down.

I still believed that this feeling of being lost and out of place was a temporary one. “Nothing comes easy, it will be better once you settle in here”, is what I told myself everyday when I woke up and forced myself to go to class.

But for any individual, there comes a breaking point.

I was in class when I got into an argument with a professor. During the argument she taunted me for not being able to understand the language being spoken there and that I should because it’s “easy” or else I would face a lot more problems.

The way I cried when I reached my room can’t be described….

That’s when I took a hard look at my surroundings and said out loud –

Oh no, what have I gotten myself into.

I realized, that this was merely a glimpse of what life would be in the next four years. I need to stop letting these things happen to me and stand up for myself or else it’s going to be worse than this.

This college, would definitely be the beginning of the end of who I as a person am. That I would just be a dead person walking once I was out of that place.

And that, was unacceptable to me.

The Undergrad Story : Introduction

Hello, and welcome to storytime with me!! It’s been a while since we’ve spoken hasn’t it?

So here’s what’s going on – It’s been a little over a month since I’ve been a graduate. I’m loving the grad life because it means I finally got rid of my college. There isn’t a greater happiness than that to me at this point.

But as I lay at home in peace – which I didn’t find for the past four years – I keep getting flashbacks of college. Flashbacks of the experiences, the incidents, the people and what not. And these aren’t good ones.

After much deliberation, I decided to sort of share my experience here. Because this little place of mine is the only place where I can speak without interruption. Where I can speak whatever it is I feel.

So at first I decided to do a post which would be a vague breakdown of the past 4 years. Sort of a letting-it-all-out type of a post. But as I sat to write it down, I realized there is so much I need to voice out.

Hence, I decided to start a series! I’ll be highlighting the things I would like to talk about, which are taken from my college life, and dedicate a post or so on it. I also realize this requires consistency and that isn’t my strongest trait but nonetheless, I shall try. “It’ll keep my creative juices flowing atleast”, is what I have told myself. Let’s hope it does that.

So here are the basics. An introduction you can say, to this entire thing I’m trying to do (I really hope I don’t fail at this).

I studied engineering in a college that was far from home. The degree was a four year one, during which I stayed on campus for three of them and rented a flat for my final year.

The college wasn’t one to my liking. It was a horrible, horrible place for me. I counted the days till I could say good bye to it.

Sounds a bit strange doesn’t it? Majority of people love their college life and never want it to end!

But then there’s me who hated every second of it. Did you know, on the first day of college itself I knew?

I knew, that I am in for a hell of ride.

“Nomads”

“Do you remember studying about people that roamed around, not settling in one place because they were constantly in search of food and stuff like that? Nomads?”

“Yes mom, what about them?”

“We’ve become them, haven’t we? Just look at us”

~~~~

So this story of mine, is about how my family and I have been all over the place. An account of all the houses we’ve been in and how the situation was

~~~~

House 1 :

I was in the 10th grade, when my family hit absolute rock bottom. My father was here in India and my mom, younger brother and I were back in U.A.E. As we had no money whatsoever, we couldn’t pay rent so we had to leave the only house I ever knew. It was so sudden, I felt like my entire world crashed. I didn’t even know where we were gonna go

I had come back from school when my mother and her elder brother tell me we were to immediately go to this flat. We went there and I saw all my stuff there. Kind of wish I could have said a proper goodbye to my room atleast, and not a hurried one

So the house we were in now, was a sharing flat. The people who lived there were an uncle and his son, who rented out their other room to us. They were really nice people, and as much as I missed my place, I was okay

Thankful, that atleast we had a good place to stay. A decent place with all facilities and a good neighbourhood

~~~~

House 2 :

It was July. The people we were sharing the flat with told us to vacate the flat all of a sudden. We didn’t know where to go. We were just in shock

Where in the world were we supposed to stay? How could we find a place in two days??

We were out of our heads when the watchman of the building told us there was this ground floor apartment. Without thinking anything, we just went for it. It was backpacking time again

So this ground floor room was the creepiest I have ever seen. There was no place to keep any stuff. I don’t even remember how it looked! It was so dark, and had no proper lighting

Thank God we didn’t stay there for long I would have lost my shit I swear

~~~~

House 3 :

The morning after the move into creepy ground floor apartment, the watchman says we actually aren’t allowed to stay there. And I just remember going, “Great, so we are already all worked up about our situation and now this happens?”

My mother was about to cry at that time. How were we supposed to find a flat in an hour?

Felt like a horrible survival reality show

The watchman then tells us there was this flat we could rent out for 10 days. Until the family moved back in. We immediately said yes because we needed time to figure out where to move next

We moved into this apartment, and didn’t bother unpacking our stuff because atleast this time we knew beforehand that this was a temporary solution

The house was really nice. My mother and I talked about how if everything was okay we would also be staying in such a nice place. My brother was really small so all he bothered about were his cartoons

~~~~

House 4 :

It was now August. We shifted to a flat in a badly lit neighbourhood. The place was a bit sketchy but the building was okay. We lived on the first floor and the flat had no ventilation whatsoever

There were windows, the long sliding ones but because it wasn’t used in a long time, they wouldn’t budge. The window itself was covered with this off red color paper due to which sunlight never hit the room. We used to switch the lights on 24×7 or else it would be really dark. Differentiating between night and day was hard

School had resumed and honestly, I was not in the best state of mind. Seeing all of this unfold right infront of your eyes takes a toll on you. And on top of that having school work didn’t make it easy

I had to pretend like I was okay, because I didn’t want anyone to worry. I also knew I could not talk about it. What was I even supposed to say? From where was I supposed to begin?

It was one thing, to learn I had to leave the country, it was another to see everything just break down. The life I had known, everything shattered to pieces. And the future remained so uncertain

It was only in this house that I sort of envied my brother, because he didn’t understand anything going on. All I wanted was to stop understanding and being in so much chaos. My brain was unable to function

I don’t even remember how I studied for my 10th boards in this house. Conditions were just so off at that point. But that house was one of the places that made me really strong on the inside. It taught me how to brave through some of the worst conditions

I went through my first gap year in that house. The unexpected one. It was a case of, “We’ll be leaving for India in the next month” for a lot of months. And then we did the actual move

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House 5 :

On reaching India, I stayed in a relative’s place along with my family. The experience was definitely something. New country, new place, new me and better situation now I hoped

Oh how I was wrong

We kept waiting for things to get better. But with schools who once agreed to take us in, refusing at the last moment, to dad not being able to get the finances in order, we just went downhill. And it was in this house that I started getting the case of the anxiety

I started to feel really overwhelmed with everything going on. It wasn’t easy. Not at all. My mother would come up to me and share everything, all that she felt with me. And I just kept feeling burdened more and more

I wanted to scream. And I did that. But internally. Kept feeling like I wasn’t allowed to. Had these awful thoughts always roaming in my head. All I wanted was to be invisble

~~~~

House 6 :

My father was in Kolkata at the time, working on a project that would get us back on track. The relative wanted to shift so we went to our place in Karnataka and stayed there for 7 months I think, with my grandparents and aunt’s family

My time in this house is another story in itself. I can forget any house but I can’t ever forget the time I spent here

It was in this house that I also disappeared from the internet. As much as I would like to blame the fact that I didn’t have a computer that’s why I abruptly took a leave of absence, deep down I know that I would have done it

I was at one of the lowest points in my life. Life was crumbling on one end, and on the other the incessant taunts from passers by and relatives made me feel nauseated. Talking to people and pretending I was okay and just a bit off was something I could not do

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House 7 :

Once dad was done with his project we came back to Mumbai. We lived in this horrible and crowded area but the colony and people were okay. We were to live here until a proper arrangement for my brother’s schooling was done

We used to face a lot of issues with water. And we lived on the 3rd floor. There was no lift. So we had to go till the ground floor and bring water up at times. Not an experience I’ll forget

I distracted my mind with tv shows and movies. We also had a really nice neighbour. So days would be spent like that. Don’t really remember how this house looked though

~~~~

House 8 :

Once everything was sorted, we shifted here. We were doing much better now. Mom even started earning here, and that helped our case

Also the fact that somehow I finished my 12th and was actually gonna start undergrad school was surreal. I remember crying on the day I got my 12th result because I couldn’t believe I did it. That I survived through everything and finished school

~~~~

House 9 :

This is my current place which is literally next door to House 8. Shifted because we liked the flat and also the agent was giving us some trouble. This house saw us do so much better than we expected

Than I expected myself to do

I have good memories in this place. Of course there have been my ups and downs but I expect nothing else from my life now

This is far better than any of the other houses

~~~~

And that marks the end of this detailed report on all the houses I’ve lived in. It really feels like I’ve lived different lives in different houses

It’s not easy, to be in and out of houses so much. Especially when you’re going through so much you can’t even talk about. But I’ve always been proud of myself, for being able to handle it and not letting it break me, even when it could

Seven Years

The world today around me kept screaming “Happy Valentine’s Day!”, but internally I, was celebrating a different day

The day, which made me realize that I survived seven years….in India

Yup that’s right. It was on this day, in 2013 that my mother, brother and I landed in this country. And my oh my what a journey it has been

We, were in the most horrible state before we finally came here. When we landed, we felt that now, things would definitely get better. That it can’t get any worse

Boy oh boy were we wrong…

I don’t remember a lot, because that’s how my brain works. I tend to block memories that are painful for me. It happens automatically. It started when things started going all wrong and bad things started happening when I was in the 6th grade. I have so many repressed memories, that it’s actually harmful to my mental health, now that I think of it

I saw family conflicts, both internal and external, and also locked myself in isolation. My anxiety worsened and so did my life. There was a point when I started doubting my self worth, my existence too

We were nomads and kept roaming from from one place to another. And I saw a whole different set of world then. I don’t think I can ever talk about how painful the times have been

That’s probably why I never talk about it

My family and I went from thinking that we were never gonna be able to pick ourselves up, to finally starting to see the light between the clouds

As I now complete seven years in a country that is my own, but never treated me right, at this point of the journey all I can say is that it might have shown me some extreme hard times, but it showed me how strong I am

If I could go through all of that and yet stand with my head up, then I am proud of myself

The initial years might have been way too hard on me and my family, but now, it’s finally okay

To think that after all this time, after so many obstacles, I finally am able to graduate makes me teary eyed

To see my mom finally be independent, and to see her carry herself in the most dignified way possible, earning respect for the work she is doing makes me the proudest daughter

To see my brother actually make it till the 10th grade makes me laugh

To see my father survive through the worst conditions and yet not give up, to see him fighting still, to give all of us a better life gives me hope

Hope, that we might be late, but we are slowly getting there. And that day won’t be far, when I’d be proud of myself for finally battling through everything that I have went through, and still am

That it would be worth it

Seven years in this country might have been an extreme roller coaster journey, and this country might have been nothing but plain bad to me, but to see myself progress is something I’m thankful for. Because only I know, how hard it has been for me to have held my own

When I told my mother this, all she said was, “It feels like we came yesterday. My goodness, we have been through some horrible shit but we made it!”

I cried while talking with her about this, and cried while writing this post, but hey, that’s life

For me atleast

Hopefully in the near future I’ll get to stop counting the years. And that I start counting a new set of years, happy ones

On Cousins and Extended Family

Whether it’s mindless scrolling on various social media platforms or talking to the people around me, I often come across the topic of childhoods spent by these said people, and how their experiences have been

As much as everyone’s childhood has been so different than the other, I can’t help but have noticed a recurring element in every single person’s childhood – cousins

Every other person often talks about how they used to have sleepovers with their cousins, share family secrets and gossip about their mutually hated family member. How they would roam around the town during holidays and create chaos together

They also talk about how times have changed and they wish to do all of that again and get sad about how now as we have grown up, time they spend with their cousins has reduced but they don’t ever miss an opportunity to connect even today

That maybe they can’t do all of that today, but they found “their people” in their families

I don’t have that

I’ve never had that

I know, that being Indian and not having all of this comes as a shock to you as a reader, but that’s what my life has always been!

From where I am, unlike the rest of India, the mother’s side is more prominent to us than the father’s side. Everything stems from there. So when I say “cousins” I mean my mom’s side. That’s what is considered for us (I know it seems super weird for you but it is what it is)

So I’m the second eldest among the cousins. I have an elder sister and then everyone else is younger to me. Some are even toddlers!

I was brought up in a foreign country, where I had absolutely no one from my family near me. No one from both sides of the family. Generally that isn’t the case for many people I know, that’s why they do have some memories at least, but with me….. none

When I was small, I used to visit India for a month, once a year. My cousins used to stay in Mumbai and not my hometown, so we used to stay with them only for a week and then go to my hometown where only my grandparents lived

I’m quite close to my elder cousin sister. But not in a way that others generally are I guess, because when I now hear people talk about their closeness, we are nowhere near close!

Five years back when I stayed in my hometown for a few months was the only time I even got to know my younger cousin sister well. I only knew her name and knew she loved the Indian sweet “peda”. That’s literally the only thing I ever knew!! I remember not even knowing what to talk to her about

I still fumble when I talk to her now, and so does she. But there isn’t awkwardness present now. Phew!

Almost all my cousins now live in my hometown. When I do visit my hometown, which is super infrequent, I don’t end up meeting my cousins except the kid ones, because both the sisters are out there doing their own thing. It’s been three years since I have seen my younger sister, and four years since I have seen my elder sister, who is the only one I consider somewhat close to me

If for the sake of conversation we are to take my father’s side of the family into consideration, that’s some next level crazy shit

My father’s side of the family is huge and I till date don’t understand the relations that are present. If I am to talk only about the cousin part, my brother and I are the youngest there. So my cousins from that side are all grown ups who have kids!

Apparently I have a niece who is elder to me!! I fainted hearing that a year ago

I’m so glad my father’s family isn’t given importance in my place because I would have gone insane with all this confusion…..

When my parents meet up with their cousins during festivals, as many of them live nearby now, they talk about the “good old days” and reminisce about the times they spent together, and gossip about particular family members

Just like how people of my age do, today

I guess, I missed out on a lot. Seems as if it somehow is an integral part of everyone’s life – this extreme bonding with cousins

Oh well, that’s okay

The Tale of the Four Eyes

I’m in the first grade, sitting in my classroom, when all of a sudden us kids were told to form a line to go somewhere important

Turns out, this little trip to the school medical center would change my life completely

All of us were weighed, measured, our vitals were checked and then in the end, we had to cover one eye and read these random alphabets placed at the back of the door

It was my turn to do this. I was confident because I’m a first grader so it’s obvious I’d know my ABC’s. But when I did the thing and started saying the alphabets, this lady near me says that I am telling it all wrong. When the lady asked me to stop, I saw the alphabets with both my eyes and could see it all – except the last two lines

The lady wrote something on a paper and told me to give it to my parents. That this was urgent

That piece of paper, turned my life upside down

The first thing I did when I reached home was hand this piece of paper over to my parents. Dad told me that we were gonna go out later in the evening

We reached a building and went in. The receptionist told us to go inside. I was still clueless but I thought this was gonna be something fun!

Boy oh boy was I wrong….

This doctor, asked me to sit and then all of a sudden started to examine my eyes with a small flashlight. I was then made to sit in front of various machines which were moving and was told to keep my head still

My head didn’t feel normal towards the end of it. I was made to wear these weird glasses and then lenses were put in these. The doctor kept asking me to read the alphabets and numbers again and again. It sort of felt like magic. When it was over, he asked my parents how is it that I have survived for this long without any aid? My parents were confused with this question, and I was convinced I was dying

Okay come on now, I was five! The doctor said stuff like, “How have you not noticed this before?” and “It might have been too late had you delayed the checkup” and child me thought I had some terminal disease

I didn’t want to die before I could finish watching my Barbie movie…

You see, I have a condition that I was born with. My corneas, are damaged. There is a tear in them or something like that

The doctor asked my parents if there was anyone in the family who wore glasses and they replied in the negative. The doctor was in disbelief and said that there has to be someone because my condition is a genetic one. I inherited it. My parents were in complete disapproval of this theory and argued with the doctor. The doctor said that it was possible that someone has it but was never diagnosed with it. But my parents said that not a single person has ever complained about their vision. This argument went on for about an hour

This was a whole lot of new information for my little brain to process. The only explanation I gave to myself was that I was adopted. I was the introverted child of two extroverted parents. I also somehow inherited a condition that no one in either of my families has
My conclusion made sense. With this I will also admit, I was an extremely stupid kid

Two days later we visit the doctor again. He went into detail about what this condition meant. He also spoke about how the power of my eyes were extremely high and were always fluctuating. I had both the “plus” and the “minus”. The plus was somewhere at a 3 or a 4 and the minus, well one eye was 8 and the other was 6. My eyes basically defied normal eyes

He said that the only way to stabilize my eyesight would be by me having to sacrifice a huge part of my childhood. Summer vacations were going to start and obviously I wanted to play and dance my heart out, but I’d have to do that without my complete eyesight. I was made to wear this eye – patch which was essentially a band – aid for my eye. I had to cover one eye of mine and see the world through the other eye. I had to train myself to go about my day with just one eye. The only time I was allowed to take this eye – patch off was when I was sleeping and when I was to take a bath. I did this for an entire month and you’d think that the misery would be over after this but nope!

I then had to wear an eye – patch on the other eye and go on with my life using my other eye which I previously had closed off. I now had to wear this patch for 15 days. I don’t think even ninjas have such rigorous training

glasses

The entire experience was just so awful. I was just a kid and half of my eyesight was taken away from me. I also had to apply eye drops thrice a day, everyday. Oh, I also had to wear glasses 🙂

Going back to school with an extra pair of eyes was not fun. Half of the people didn’t recognize me while the other half asked me if I watched way too much television during my summer break and so ended up with glasses

How was I supposed to explain to them that I had some weird condition related to a part of my eye I can’t even pronounce?

Most of my childhood passed in everyone asking me how many fingers are they holding when I took my glasses off, and also holding objects really far away and asking me to tell what exactly it is. I felt like a toy for everyone

But on the other hand, all the struggles I went through paid off when the doctor said that my eyesight had stabilized. He was shocked at how quickly it happened! I got rid of my “plus” power and the “minus” power was now at a normal number

But I had to wear glasses permanently. My parents weren’t happy with this

They asked if there was anything they could do, any surgery or operation to rid me off my glasses. But the doctor said they’d have to wait till I was eighteen years old

You see, my parents were young and knew no better. Societal standards didn’t allow glasses. They weren’t “pretty”. I don’t blame my parents, they just wanted their daughter to fit into the world. But alas, that wasn’t possible

So, I grew up with an extension to my body – my glasses. But little did tiny me know that this part of me which I loathed would end up being the most inseparable part of adult me. Because I had to wear them from such a young age, I grew attached to it

Today, these glasses of mine are what make me feel normal. They’re a part of me. They make me feel, me. They have become my identity now. Honestly, I feel naked without my glasses

I know that according to the rules laid down by the society we live in, glasses are “unattractive”. So many people have told me to “take my glasses off” while I’m going out or while taking photos. I find it funny how people react when I say I feel uncomfortable without my glasses. They show me others who don’t wear them on a regular basis and I always say, “to each their own”

Shouldn’t we all just do what makes us feel comfortable? Can’t we just choose what we want to do and wear rather than conform to some stupid notions?

And wow sorry my inability to see makes me “not – pretty”. I’ll choose having an aid to help me see things better over idiotic beauty standards any day 😂
I do believe I rock wearing glasses though. I completely own the look!!

And so, this is the story of my “four eyes”
Do you have any such stories? Ones where you or your condition(s) defied the normal human body?

And That’s A Wrap!

Celebrating a new year doesn’t make sense to me. Or for that matter celebrating the end of a year. In my head it’s just another day and the new year means updating the calendar app on my phone and turning the 8 in 2018 to a 9 for a week minimum of January while writing the date because it’s 2019 and well, pretty much used to writing 2018.
Oh god, can’t turn an 8 to a 9….

As for how the year has been? Yeah, it was pretty awful. I remember thinking at the end of 2017 that perhaps 2018 might be slightly better because it can’t get worse than that
Boy oh boy was I wrong…..

The first half or more of the year was me in all honesty being the Duracell bunny and being excessively hyper about each and everything.
Even the smallest of things.
I was quite a bit dramatic at times and just…..cringey at moments. I read my texts from the earlier months and weep because I can’t believe myself!
If you were one of the victims of this extreme-ish behaviour of mine and decided to distance yourself from me then I don’t blame you. You’re right in what you did and all I can say is sorry. I ask for your forgiveness because I wasn’t myself then.
And I know why.

The months following that saw myself crawling back into my dark place.
And that’s why I was such at the beginning of the year.
You see, I went through this pattern around five years ago when I had one of my worst anxiety episodes. I was incredibly hyper and did some serious damage only to end up in the darkest corner of my brain. I also had isolated myself from the entire world for a little more than a year. Though it was circumstantial, I didn’t find it the slightest bit difficult to do so. It was as if I wanted to do it anyways. That I would have done it even if the situation hadn’t forced me to do so.

It was the same this year as well and that’s why I was all over the place in the first half of the year. It was like a warning sign for me that I will be going into overdrive later on.
Of course, I ignored the sign.

So yeah, spent the rest of the year being at my lowest. Reached an all time low when I didn’t want anything to do with anyone. How I managed to get up and give my exams is still unknown to me because I remember feeling like just giving up and crawling into a hole and never coming out of it.
There were multiple times when I wanted to stop all sorts of communication with everyone. I just didn’t want to talk. The only reason I refrained from doing such is because of the many promises I made to a few people stating that I’d never do what I did a few years back.

I just felt like shit. I still feel like shit.

2018 wasn’t my year. And I know many will sing the same song with me because I know plenty who feel/felt the same way.

This year was when I realized that I haven’t completely dealt with the fact that I’m not important. I thought I was okay but turns out I wasn’t so had to teach myself to deal with that.

I met new people and lost people this year. Emotions were high. I felt so many emotions this year which I never thought I was capable of!!

It was the year when I realized that keeping my emotions on a lockdown is far more better than being let down when I talk about it. Because when I do talk about it, it won’t be validated. And it won’t make a difference.
It’s better to suffer by overflowing my brain with my feelings and trying not to pop like a soda bottle than to feel rejected and hurt.
That I’m better off not talking about how I feel. Just like the old times!

The year had it’s few highs too. Most of them being achieving the daily goals I had set for myself and also how I went back to accepting myself the way I am. Realizing that I was being way too hard on myself and working on that was honestly the best thing that I did. It was time.

All in all, it was a year where I felt distant, left out, lost and hopeless. A year where by the end of it, I decided to shut myself out almost completely.

And I really doubt that things will get better in the following year. A change in the calendar year will not immediately bring drastic changes in my life.

So no, I don’t believe in the concept of “new year, new me” because I don’t believe I need to wait for a year to begin to deal with my issues.
They need to be done now.
Because I can’t take it anymore.

What is the deal with this whole concept though? If I am to follow it then I should be having 22 new versions of myself……what even?

If possible, I’d like to physically burn 2018. See it go up in flames. Maybe then I’d feel better.
But you see, the things I went through or rather still am didn’t have anything to do with the year. So it’s ridiculous blaming it.
Everything is a mess and there isn’t anyone or anything to blame. Definitely not a calendar year.

Maybe one day I’ll wake up and not have this heavy feeling in my chest.