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.

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Weight Issues

I’ve always struggled with my weight. It’s probably one of the earliest memories that I have. Everyone that saw me always had quite a bit to say.
Quite a lot really.
And it has never stopped.
Not even now.

I was born underweight. It wasn’t a huge deal to my parents as this is sort of common in my family. Growing up, I never really put on much weight. I was an underweight kid. Skinny and small – these are the perfect adjectives to describe my younger self.
Somehow these adjectives followed me till I grew up. It’s these words that still describe me till date.

Yeah, you guessed it. This is a rant about being skinny – shamed.

So yup. I’m excessively thin. I’m not the dictionary definition of “skinny” but that’s the tag I have gotten by everyone. Who knows, maybe I am skinny but my tendency to take words literally is what makes me not believe it.

I, on a regular hear comments about my weight. I hear things like,
“Be careful the wind is strong! You’ll fly away!”
“You buy your clothes from the children’s section right?”
“Do you not eat?”
“Eat more”
“Girl, exercise”
“You might even fit in my pocket”
“You can be folded”
“How are you even standing?”
“Anyone can just pick you up”

What doesn’t help my case is the fact that I’m short. Short and skinny, can you even imagine what I hear everyday?
No you can’t
Because you probably say it too

 

Two weeks back, I had some relatives over for dinner. These are the kind of relatives that I love.
As I was staring at my wardrobe (this is how I select clothes. I just stare at them ūüíĀ) this one kurti spoke to me. I took it out and first thing that came to my mind was, “This kurti doesn’t make you look too thin. Wear it and you’ll escape the “you’ve lost so much weight” comments that are coming your way”
And I did.
I wore that kurti.
Because I didn’t want to hear those comments.
And that’s when it clicked me.
This is what I have become now.

If you were to see me when I was seven years old, you’d always find me in overalls. I loved them so much, I had around five kinds of overalls. All different from each other.

This aunty once told my mom, “She looks more thin in overalls. She looks like a stick. Frocks are better at least.”

I never wore overalls after that.

Which kid is supposed to think about their body and not just wear what she wants?
Is it right for a 7 year old to be subjected to that kind of cruelty?

I looked at myself in the full length mirror in my parents’ bedroom and said to myself, “I really do look like a stick. No wonder I hear such bad stuff. I look bad”

And that’s when I started getting super insecure about my body.

Each and every comment made about me by family members and friends’ parents were audible now. I heard everything but never reacted to them as my parents also always seemed to agree with them. It just broke me because I started to believe that I looked horrible. I started believing every word that everyone around me said.

The girl who loved wearing knee length skirts one day just stopped wearing them because she heard a comment saying she had, “chicken legs” once. She doesn’t even remember who told it, but that sentence haunted her for the rest of her life.

Tell me, is that really normal?

When I was around 15 years old, I decided to stop feeling this bad about myself and try and turn things around. That it was time I stopped feeling ugly and owned how I looked completely.
I need to feel good about myself because I should.
None of this is my fault. I shouldn’t punish myself.

I did just that. It took me years to finally feel good about myself. To feel comfortable in my own skin. To actually be okay with how I was.
I put the whole world on mute.

But somehow now, everyone isn’t on mute anymore.

The past two – three years or so have been incredibly tough on my body. I’ve been losing a lot of weight. I personally don’t mind it because I know why it is happening, but somehow everyone around me has something to say and it has started pricking me.
Because this time, it’s worse.

What I hear today, are jokes. Actual jokes made in front of other people.
And these hurt.

Somehow my identity today is that I’m super thin and can “fly away at any given time”. Anything that I do or say in life doesn’t really matter anymore. It doesn’t contribute to my identity.
This one, physical attribute of mine, upon which I have no control over, is what I will forever be known as.

And you know what? That’s wrong.
Because these “jokes” have brought my insecurities back.
And that, isn’t fair.

How dare you joke about me?
When did I tell you that it’s okay?
Who told you that you’re allowed to make me feel insecure about my own self?
Who gave you permission to make me feel ugly?
Who asked you for your “advice”?
Why can’t you understand that you need to stop when I tell you to?
Why do you feel it’s okay to comment about my body?

There is a limit to everything. Sure, the comments that my close friends tell me don’t affect me one bit. On the contrary I laugh with them. Not a word they say on this topic affect me or my self esteem in any way.
Because they don’t say anything that hurts me. They, are in there limits.

But not everyone is. You can’t joke about how you will just pack me in a suitcase or how I shouldn’t really pay for a seat because a person’s lap is enough for me.
That my friend, is where you cross all the limits.
And I don’t think you should be told all of this.
This is something that should come from within you.

If today, I have gone back to selecting clothes that make me look less thin as I go in front of the people that I love and care about, it’s your jokes to blame.
You have scarred me to such an extent that the little girl who was horrified of her body is back.
The one I took so many years to get rid off, is back.
And it’s your fault.

Today when I look at myself in the mirror, all I can think about are the jokes you crack as I look at my body.

And I, have had enough.

I have felt helpless and ugly all my life. It took a lot of effort for me to be comfortable in my own skin.
I can’t let my efforts go to waste.
I can’t let you and your jokes win.
I can’t let that little girl come back again.

You, aren’t allowed to break me anymore.
You, aren’t allowed to make me feel ugly anymore.

The next time you crack a God – awful joke about someone’s body, think about how it could affect them.
It doesn’t matter if they are fat or thin, there are lines which you shouldn’t cross.
Because you never know which joke of yours could lead to someone feeling disgusted about themselves.

I know plenty of others, my own friends, who have been subjected to this kind of stuff. I know how low they have felt about themselves too.
And it isn’t right.

No one should feel like they are ugly.
No one should feel that their self worth depends upon how their body is.

So choose your words wisely, because you don’t know what the other person is going through.
You don’t know their struggles.
Your words, your jokes, can break someone.

You don’t know how the sentences you let out of your mouth can shatter even the strongest of people.
Because this is a sensitive topic.
And it’s time, you find a topic that is genuinely funny.

Let’s not make people insecure about themselves.
Can we just agree on this?

Countries Apart

It’s been a long, long time. The amount of time can’t be numbered. Well it actually can be, but it honestly feels like forever. It feels much more longer than what it has been.

Nearly two weeks ago, while chatting up with fellow students a guy asked me, “So, do you like it here in India better or Dubai?” And the speed of my response was that of the speed of lightning. “Dubai!” is what I blurted.
He was taken aback with how instant my response was. That I didn’t even blink my eye and just uttered my answer.

When I was about eight months old, my parents took me to this magical little country called the United Arab Emirates and I have stayed there for majority of the life that I have lead until now.

Indian by nationality, India is this place I’d come once every year or two years to visit my grandparents and extended family. A vacation spot you can say. A two month summer vacation would all be spent in a country which is my own. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.

I never really formed an opinion about how I liked India as I never spent a good enough time to do so. But ever since a little kid, I didn’t really enjoy the time I spent here. I love my grandparents but the country itself never had much of an appeal to me. I never felt a connection. Well I was a kid, what more could I expect?

Growing up, I was surrounded with voices. Voices that held the words, “India is your home country. It is who you are. You love this country!” so tight, that these voices felt like it had an underlying honesty in it. And I felt like U.A.E. is just this temporary place that life had us stationed at. India is home you know? India is what I should love.

Should.
Should.
Should.
Oh how this word echoed in the back of my head whenever I started feeling affectionate towards the country I resided in. Whenever I’d see those news headlines. When I entered this country.
A compulsion to love a country only because I’m from it. And I felt guilty that I didn’t.
What can I say, I was a kid!

It was only when I started growing up, started experiencing things by myself and stopped listening to the voices around me that I realized – it doesn’t even matter. What matters is how I feel. And what I feel is something I can’t help.

I love U.A.E. I love the life we lived – I lived – there. It was a life I could call a life. Not what I’m leading here, living here.

The guy then proceeded to ask me what is it that I love about U.A.E. That makes it better than India. India is my home country you know? India is my home, how can I not like home?

Here’s what I believe. Home is where your heart lies. Home is where you can be yourself, unafraid of being judged. Home is this sanctuary where you are accepted for who you are and are loved without any strings attached. Home is where terms and conditions aren’t applicable. Home is where you are surrounded by family – a family that loves you for who you are.
And I found all of this not in my apparent ‘home country’ but in a country that housed me for an unaccountable time of my life.

U.A.E. was this place where I could un-apologetically be me. A country where people from all over the world live in unity, one of the very first things I learnt was that humanity comes first. Humanity is what is more important than that passport you hold in your hand which indicates your nationality. Humanity trumps everything.

I grew up with quite an open mindset. And I knew I had a so called ‘open-mind’ only after living here. Because up until now my thoughts and my mentality was something so frequently seen, I never knew it was such.
A country where religion or the state of India you’re from doesn’t matter, I grew up celebrating various festivals from all religions. I grew up with friends all over India and not only learning but also enjoying their various traditions and customs.
We all were different and we liked being different. We accepted it wholeheartedly.
I grew up in a country that was incredibly safe. A country where my parents and I never feared of our safety. A country so clean. And looking at the number of parks and beaches that are present you wouldn’t believe that it is actually a desert. Ha!

3

Let us not even talk about the food and the malls there. It’s where I learnt that food is love, food is life.

1

2

All I got in India is a sight of aunties who are professionals in stalking people and have mastered the art of poking their nose in other people’s business. All I got to see is this unimaginable amount of bullying done in a school, a school which is supposed to be a child’s second home. All I learnt till now is how in the end a girl is supposed to learn all the household chores and that you’ll receive a stink-eye if you don’t know how to by those around you.

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All I got to learn is how to keep my mouth shut because people here can’t stand opinions that stem from an ‘open-mind’. All I have observed is that it is very well possible to fake yourself in front of people. That it is possible to not only lie to others but to yourself as well about who you are. Faking who you are at the core only to please the people around you. To lose the essence of who you are because being nice to those aunties and nodding with whatever they say is more necessary than voicing those opinions in your head and demanding respect for who you are.

All I learnt is that it isn’t safe for me to step out of my house. All I have heard is how we can be divided according to our genders. A boy is a boy, a girl is a girl. There’s a box for everyone and you dare not break it open. After all, you are who you are right?

All I learnt is that perhaps humanity isn’t what comes first. Perhaps what caste you belong to, what state you belong to, which God is it that you follow is what is more important. That is what defines you, you see? Screw how good a person you are, I will form opinions about you based on an identity that you didn’t create for yourself but were labelled.
Labels. Labels are more important you see?

U.A.E. is the country where I found people who accepted me for who I am – this socially awkward girl with big dreams and a stubborn heart. A straight forward girl who isn’t afraid what others think of her. It is the country where my anxiety levels weren’t this high because I felt comfortable. I could be me.

My parents, who have lived here in India unlike me, today also long for the day when we could go back. They don’t feel comfortable here. I see a side of my mother I never saw before. She, she finds it hard to communicate with people here. To connect, to make friends here.
If a person like her, who always is the life of the party feels so, my state can’t even be expressed.

I will agree that there are exceptions in both the places. Neither of the countries are perfect. But this is how I feel.

U.A.E. is the country where my heart lies. U.A.E. is where I felt the most comfortable being me. U.A.E. is the country where I was accepted wholeheartedly, no matter how weird I was.
U.A.E. is where I could exercise my mentality without being judged.

U.A.E. is where humanity comes first. Not blood relations or nationality, but humanity. And humanity will always come first to me.

India might be my home country, but U.A.E. is what I will call home. I could be biased, after all I did spend my entire life there. An attachment will definitely be present.

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This is how I feel

Call it what you may but all I know is that while I have one foot present here, another foot of mine lies in U.A.E. When that trigger is pulled and that gunshot enters the audible range, I will run.

Run.

The Crap I receive for Engineering

When you are 17 years old and advancing towards the last year of schooling, you’re generally interrogated by the people around you about what it is you plan to do after you finish school. What direction you are heading to is the first question anyone who meets you asks you.
It isn’t any different for me but I somehow feel that my choices are stirring up people other than my family and I.

If I had chosen a path that isn’t generally a preference then I seriously wouldn’t be bothered. But what amazes me is that I get all kinds of shit for choosing to embark on a journey that many, many people choose as well. I have assumptions, arguments and disbelief snowballed towards me almost everyday which to be honest, the 14 year old me din’t expect was coming her way.

With me being Indian, it won’t come to a shock to many people when I say that I have opted to do Computer Engineering after school. That’s because a lot of kids here do that. Why do they do that? Because even though there are thousands of options to choose from, majority of their parents have pressurized their kids to go for this. It’s a field where a lot of jobs are open. That does make a lot of sense considering that we live in a technology – driven world doesn’t it?

Because of the widespread attention engineering has been getting over the past years, many people have started to resent it. The number of trolls and memes made on engineering will take a century to count. Engineering is like this option you choose when you don’t know what you want to do with your life. A lot of people blame parents for this because they are the ones who pushed their kids into this path. They don’t let their kids do what they want with their life and hence we have people with no passion at all in the field. No one wants to learn something new or do something because they enjoy it. They’re just here because their parents forced them, and now they just want to get this over with.

If you have parents like mine, who want you to do something that you love, kids enter fields that are not engineering. They go for what they love and mostly, it isn’t engineering. But then there is me.

You see, my decision of pursuing Computer Engineering is totally mine. Nobody influenced my decision. I’m entering the field because that is where my passion lies. But most of the people I associate with don’t necessarily believe me. Shocked expressions follow with a little bit of assumptions.

“So what are you doing after school? Please don’t say engineering!”

“Uh, I am doing that. What seems to be the problem?”

“Oh my. I feel for you. My parents are also forcing me to do the same. I don’t really know why do they not think about us!”

“No you’ve got me wrong! My parents din’t force me…..”

“So your grandparents did? Or some stubborn uncle?”

“Nobody from my family has forced me to do engineering. I’m doing it by my own will!”

“Seriously? But ….why?”

“Because I want to? I love computers. “

“Are you sure you’re not covering up for your parents actually forcing you? It seems to me that you are.”

“What?! Why would I do that?”

“It’s okay. believe me. We’re here for you. I know your parents mean the world to you and all that, but we all are the same. You don’t have to cover up for them to make them look good. We understand you.”

“I don’t understand what is going on. I think you are misunderstanding me. My parents haven’t forced me to do engineering. They want me to do what ever I want to. I¬†chose¬†this. I want to do this.”

“So wait, your parents are allowing you to do anything you want to?”

“Yes!”

“Are you mad? You have such awesome parents and you’re doing¬†this? Seriously? What is wrong with you? If I were you then I’d do something really different. Something I love. Why in the right mind are you sticking to this? You have a chance to break free. Why are you not doing that?”

If I meet someone and don’t have this conversation with them, then I’ll consider them anything but human. That’s how much I’m used to all of this. I’ve been getting this crap since the day I decided to do this.

I don’t really understand. Is it wrong to want to enter this field? Am I committing some sort of felony by loving this career path? Has the scope for this field really gone that low? Do we really not have people like me out there, who wholeheartedly want to do this?

If this wasn’t enough, you have so many articles that look down at people doing engineering so poorly. They’re treated like dirt. Why? Just because they’re doing something everyone is doing?
So many people say that people who are doing engineering are fools. They won’t go anywhere in life and success will never be theirs because there are thousands of people doing the same as them. You’ll only be stuck with that 8 – 5 job and you’ll never reach the heights. Everyone is only doing this because they want that good salary. It’s all about the money. And if you decide to study ahead? Definitely because you want even more money. You say you love what you’re doing? “You aren’t fooling anybody honey” is the answer one person gave.

I was receiving so much of trash, that at one point last year I just din’t want to go ahead with this. I wanted to just let it go and do something different. Maybe then this would stop, I thought. But the thought itself made me so upset that I knew that no matter what people or some bullshit article tells me, I can’t stop. My heart lies there and there is no way I’m turning back.

I am doing engineering. Computer Engineering to be specific, which I’m very well aware that many people do. But I like to think I’m different from them all because I¬†want¬†to do this. And maybe I will study ahead but not because I have money in my mind. I’ll do it because I¬†want¬†to do it. Everyone may think that I don’t have a life but I do and this is how I choose to live. I may fail but that is¬†my¬†failure and no one has a say on that. Not you or your article.

I don’t look down at people who have been forced to do this. I feel really bad for them and I do hope that they get to do what they want sooner or later. Maybe the jokes made are something they find funny. But I do know that even though people like me aren’t a lot, we don’t find this funny. It hurts us. It hurts me.
I can’t say that what everyone says doesn’t affect me because I’m that kind of person who wants to keep everyone happy and I sometimes tend to care a bit too much about how people perceive me. So all of this does bother me. But this has reached such a peak that I can’t even be bothered to give a damn anymore.

I have a question though. Why do some people write such bitter articles? Let me know if you know the reason.

A Rant About Those Manic People

I know, I know. I haven’t been updating my blog very well these past few weeks but I have a very good reason for that. The reason being annoying relatives who had come over to stay at my home for a week. Well, they said they were gonna stay for a week when they came but went only after 20 days were complete. 20 days!!

Since these people literally changed my life in these 20 days, I decided that they need a post dedicated to them. Not acknowledging them, but ranting about them. They deserve this.

Let me first begin with the fact that they just popped up on our doorstep at 5.30 am. We knew they were coming but we din’t know which day was it they were coming. Looks like they wanted to surprise us and they succeeded. I was super surprised. So surprised that I wanted to get a frying pan and hit them with it because who disturbs someone’s sleep?! I obviously din’t do that though. What I did do is pull my blanket over my head because the lights were switched on.

As soon as I woke up in the morning, there were two girls staring at me. I gave them a quick smile just to be polite but they continued to stare at me. I know I don’t look really good as soon as I’m out of bed but I don’t look that bad either that they need to stare at me for 10 minutes straight! After a while my brother and I went to talk them. We asked them general questions like their names and their age. They asked the same to us and that was it. We were just sitting there and din’t talk. When all of this got too awkward for me I just walked out of the room. Totally normal.

Days passed by and the only talking I did was with their mother. More awkwardness crept in the house and somehow I felt comfortable knowing that for once I’m not the only one in the house who has an awkward side.

The two girls then mustered up a bit of courage and started coming out of the room. They talked a bit and then it was all fine. The younger girl is just like my brother and the elder one is quite a bit quiet. That is what I thought and I told myself, “Maybe staying with these people won’t be hard at all!”
I have never been more wrong my whole life!

The elder one is 15 years old and the attitude she possesses is something I have never seen in anyone. She always talks as if she is some great person and I need to now bow down in front of her ¬†because she is the queen of her land. Which land is this, I don’t know but my best guess is that it’s some non-existent land. She also loves daily soap operas and can’t miss a single episode. This tells a lot about her doesn’t it?

The younger one, who is 10 years old, is like the Duracell bunny version of my brother. Always jumping around and running in circles with no signs of stopping. But this isn’t the most annoying thing about her. The fact is that she likes to pull peoples’ hair, touch everyone, pinch and beat every single person living in the house! She always pulls my hair saying that she likes my bangs. She kept touching my skin because she likes “how it feels”. I hate people touching me. Absolutely HATE it but she won’t listen. She is also obsessed with the colour pink and loves Barbie to such an extent that she even dreams about her!

More than anything, these people don’t know the meaning of privacy. Alone time is something I forgot even existed. My life wasn’t my life anymore. Even my time spent with the internet was something they’d have their eyes on. Every message I send, every song I listen to and every video I watch ; these people would be seated right next to me and would be looking at everything. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing some important stuff, they’ll just stick to me and ‘observe’ everything. How could they come between me and my internet? That’s so rude!

Illustrations to show you exactly what I mean? Here they come.

This is me, everyday

This is me, everyday

 

This is what happened when they were around

This is what happened when they were around

 

To top it all off, these people don’t know how to behave in public! They’ll be running around the roads and screaming. The younger one sticks to me while walking and pokes me. They make decisions while standing on the pavement about food. They’re just crazy!!

It’s been a week since they’ve gone and I can’t begin to tell you how much I’m enjoying the peace and quiet in the house. The house is clean again and most importantly, no one comes between me and my internet now!

I can go on ranting but I think I need to stop now. These people are the ones whom I’ll never forget my entire life and this post is my way to get my anger out. I feel so relieved now.

Have you ever had any such encounters with any relatives? Did anyone for that matter make you go so crazy that you questioned your sanity?

The Pack Of Humans I Need To Call Family

I think one of the main identities we Indians have all around the world is that we have a huge family. I’d like to blame Bollywood movies and television serials for this. But movies din’t just bring it up you know? There is a certain level of honesty in this fact.

I remember having this one conversation with my school-mates while I was in UAE about how big our families are. While most of my friends were going on and on about their uncountable number of family members, I was just sitting there in astonishment. I then exclaimed, “Gosh you all have such huge families! My family at the most just includes my maternal and paternal side. And they don’t have huge families. I can literally count them!” My friends first laughed thinking that what I said was a joke, but later realized that what I said is true. One girl said that maybe I din’t know my family at all and was kept under the dark about more than half of my family. I laughed really hard at her.

I shouldn’t have laughed.

Living in a foreign country where hardly anyone from my family lives, my parents and a few relatives convinced me that we had a small family. They’d talk only about a few people and when I asked them about any more people they always said, “What more? This is it!”

I always thought that we just had an immediate family. All those distant to distant to distant relatives is something I din’t have and I was so, so happy about it.
Until I came to India to stay and lead a life here.

The first time I got to know that I DO have an extended family is when we came to stay with this uncle of mine. My mom said he was her brother. Now, I know her real brothers and also her cousins. So on asking her what kind of brother he is, she said cousin.
Wait what? I thought she had just one cousin brother! From where did this one pop up? She then told me she has more cousins about whom she never told me about as they weren’t ¬†in touch due to the busy lives we all lead in different countries. So when she finished telling me about them all I thought that this was it.

By now you must have realized that when I think this is it, it isn’t. More was ahead for me.

On one Sunday my mom received a call on her mobile. The person said that he and his brother were coming to visit us at our house. Till I was able to ask her who they were, they magically appeared on our doorstep just minutes after the call! (Family members I tell you. They’ll just come out of nowhere. Ugh)

One of the two brothers came to me and said, “Keerthi! Do you know who we are? I remember the last time I saw you, you used to wear those Gandhiji type glasses and you were so tiny! Look how big you’ve gotten. Still short though. Hahaha!” You yourself told that the last time you saw me I was 6 years old. Now how will I remember you?
I went to the kitchen and told my mom that I have no idea who they are (I could’ve told them directly. But meh, anxiety and all that) and she told me their names. I remember receiving chain e-mails from them a long time ago. Other than that, I don’t really know who they are! They were having a gala time with my mom and dad and I was just like, “Hehe. Very funny.” Or like, “Yes I do remember. Haha!”

While in reality, this was me

Note : The first two people are those two brothers. The character with a moustache is my dad and the lady is my mom.

Note : The first two people are those two brothers. The character with a moustache is my dad and the lady among that group is my mom.

Now every time someone came to visit us, I started counting how many family members I do have till now. But one fine day I couldn’t count because it was waaaay too much! How can there be so many humans in one family?!

I recently went to my home state to visit my grandparents and then comes another shocker. I realized that all the people who lived in our town-village (I say town-village as my place is neither a village nor a town. It’s something in between and I don’t really know what the in-between is called)¬†are all my relatives! My mind was blown away to some distant land.

How are they related? Well, they are some father’s brother’s son-in-law’s nephew’s dog’s best friend’s owner’s grandchild. Yes you read that right. But this is just about one person you know? There are plenty of others who are related to us like that. Normally we won’t consider such people as family, just friends. But no, not in my case. They ARE family and they will be invited for our cat’s wedding. Also when we build a house. Also when we celebrate someone’s pregnancy. Basically every household event, people like these are invited because they are family.

I don’t know how does everyone remember who is who and how they are related. And their names too! What is the secret to this great memory power of theirs? *Calls grandma to know how to get excellent memory*

Getting to know so many family members also means that you basically have every type of human that exists on this planet in your family. And they aren’t always of the good kind which saddens me a lot. My family members include a few gangsters, gossip kings and queens, pranksters, wannabee hipsters, wannabees and sadists. I feel that only I am the human among these bunch of aliens, and I don’t consider myself a human at times so that’s a shocking fact!

If an outsider would see one’s wedding photo album, they’d be astounded to see that there are more photos of family members rather than photos of the couple. And also the fact that if you take that album to my grandpa then he’ll tell you how exactly is every single person there related to us. I don’t think I want to marry because then I’ll have to get married in front of a bunch of people whom I don’t even know! Woah!

Well as much as I can go on ranting about this, I need to accept that these bunch of random strangers are my family. No matter if I don’t know them, I have to say hello to them and welcome the dialogue, “The last time I saw you, you were wearing those Gandhiji type glasses and you were so tiny!” with a smile no matter how pissed that line makes me. I will have to listen to my mom and dad talk about my grandpa’s brother’s neighbor’s son’s neighbor’s daughter’s brother -in-law’s – son’s ¬†fiance’s ex-boyfriend’s sister’s story!

I just have to bear with this drama. I have no other option…

“Everybody Does It”

This phrase is something that is thrown at you when you have conflicting opinions. The opinions that are completely opposite of the popular ones. It has become a part of everyday conversation and debate. While it might be told lightheartedly, what it really shows about the person is something many people fail to realize.

What is the meaning you might ask? Well, it directly gives the impression that because a majority of the people perform the talked about action , it is okay. Since it is popular it immediately means it is correct and the one opposing it is in the wrong. The majority wins. That is why it is in the majority.

If I were to mention the number of times this phrase was used at me, then I’m pretty sure I’d be 40 years old by the time I finish. And I’m not exaggerating here. This really is the case with me. I guess that’s what happens when you have opinions that aren’t always met with a smile.

As a kid, I’ve always had strong opinions about everything. My parents have always told me that I should never be afraid to speak my mind and that is something very strongly instilled in me today. Whatever it is, I surely have an opinion and I won’t be afraid to tell you that. But what happens is that I’m always countered. Why? Well, that’s because my opinions generally don’t agree with the popular ones. I’m the one who opposes almost everything popular today.

It wasn’t until recently when I realized how strongly can this phrase affect you. A friend of mine and I were debating about what teenagers nowadays like to do and how I always oppose it all. She then told me, “Everybody does it. So why do you have a problem?” I was taken aback.

This wasn’t the first time obviously, but somehow what she said stung me for once. I guess because it was about something that I have been strongly opposing since forever. I know you must be wondering what it is. So now let me tell you.

Since I don’t have many friends, I try to keep myself in the social circle by learning about what’s happening around me and all about the people around me too. I see almost everyday what teenagers around me indulge in for ‘fun’ and it bothers me way too much.
I know kids at the age of 14 or 15 who have either smoked all kinds of stuff, who have slept around with various people or consumed all the varieties of alcohol. Worse is that there are 14 year old kids who have done ALL of this and not just one. Until and unless you’re my friend, I really don’t care what anyone does but when this starts becoming so prevalent among the people around you, it’s hard to ignore it. Very hard.

I don’t think it’s okay to be doing any of this at such a young age. I mean, you’re just 14! A 14 year old isn’t mature enough to understand all of this or even know about all of this. And on asking why one would drink or smoke the answer is mostly because someone dumped them. Really? At the age of 13 you are crying because someone dumped you? My biggest concern when I was 13 was what dress I’d wear for my birthday!

If only one or two kids did this, then this post wouldn’t ever be written. But all of this is now some sort of trend for everyone to follow. Gone are the days when studies and friends were the things that bothered one at night. Now what bothers most of the teenagers here is what brand of alcohol is the best to serve for the next party. I can’t really take this anymore.

That figure in red, is me. As I’m not like the rest, I have been thrown out of the popular crowd. And I’m extremely happy being on the other side.

Some teens do understand that what is going on isn’t right. But they still do all of this. Why? Because they don’t want to be that figure in red. They don’t want to be like me. Everyone does all of this without any hesitation. And in the end they feel it is correct. It’s correct because it is the popular action right now. Everybody does it, so why not them? Right?

Not right. Who ever told that what is the popular belief needs to be the appropriate one? What ever happened to thinking on your own and using your sense of judgement to understand what is right or wrong? Just because everybody does it, does it mean it is right? If the answer is yes, then bullying has become incredibly popular now. So does that justify any act of bullying? Is bullying ‘okay’ now? Think about it.

I understand that sometimes we make decisions in haste, but this doesn’t qualify like that. Agreed that this is the age where we can make mistakes and learn from them. But why make mistakes as such that could ruin your entire life? This won’t even qualify as a mistake if you thought about doing it. You are not going to laugh about this 10 years from now. You certainly won’t!

I also know that peer pressure plays an important role in this. But you need to use your brains and understand that it isn’t right. Just because your best friend smokes before writing her math exam doesn’t mean you need to also just so that you still can remain her best friend.
If your group of 50 friends do this, it immediately doesn’t mean that you also need to do it! No one ever needs such friends who cloud your sense of judgement and turn you into a bad person. I know this because I have also been through peer pressure. If I hadn’t said no and distanced myself from them then today I would be doing all the things that I mentioned here. And you have no idea how good I feel because I stopped myself from getting into all this mess. If I can, then anyone can.

I personally don’t hate anyone who does it all, though it might seem like that. I can’t hate someone whom I don’t even know. But all of this has just begun to really upset me. I try hard to forget about all of this, but I can’t. My opinions have isolated me from this generation. But guess what? I’m extremely happy not being a part of what everybody does. I still have a chance to be me.

We are ourselves. You are you, and I am me. Following someone else’s footsteps or performing the popular action won’t make your place in this world easier. Doing something just because ‘everybody’ does it makes us look like we can’t function on our own. Don’t follow the crowd. Instead, stand out from the crowd. It isn’t too late for anyone to change.

Saying “Everybody does it” is not a valid reason for all the wrong actions that are happening. It never will be. Use your brain and do what you feel is right rather than doing what the people around you say is right.