Ever since I’ve started blogging, or, possibly, started at NITK, April is when I’m at my most morose. I don’t know why. This year is exacerbated by virtue of being in a city known for gloomy skies. I also suspect this thing is all because I mark my growing older every April.
Today I was listening to some show where old people were reminiscing about their youth. I’m usually not moved by stuff like this. I know the past is usually seen through rose-colored glasses. I’m a crazy, crazy devil’s advocate that way, and don’t move too easily to let someone else’s perceptions of life and events cloud mine. Somehow, this time, I began to wonder what I’d say in my seventies.
Some of those men and women were talking about how spry they were. How they trained to be NCC cadets and shot rifles. The sports they played. The daredevilry they indulged in. The risks they took. The wild lives they led. How they obsessively courted someone. The hobbies they pursued. And most if not all of this in college.
Me? Well… I did none of these. Old women beat me at doing laps in the pool. I started off with a distaste for NCC, and overall, my school did everything to discourage sportsy feelings in me, not that I needed much of that, given I was already small and asthmatic and had no incentive to be running around. I’ve played it very safe when it comes to matters of life and limb. I’d be glad to Eternal Sunshine any remaining memories of obsessive courting; being on either end of that is not fun at all.
I don’t know what I could call my ‘hobbies’. My pathetic attempts at stamp and coin collection were quickly snuffed out. I wrote some. I read a lot. I watched movies and listened to music. I dicked around on the Internet. The problem with these things is you usually don’t have anything to show for it. Why couldn’t I do something more awesome like sketching or oil painting or play a sport, I wondered.
Even now, when I say ‘I knit’, or ‘I do improv’, it’s with this smidgen of doubt in my voice, as if I can’t imagine me having any hobbies, as if those aren’t even real or something.
I’ve mostly been a good girl. I went to JEE classes. I cleared AIEEE. I cleared GRE. I got an MS with a thesis. I moved on to a respectable, well-paying job.
The problem with these things is, they aren’t what memoirs are made of.
Sure, I have more than a dozen crazy stories that come of being a creepy little brown girl who talks a little too much to strangers, but everyone who lives in NYC has those. Well…. no, actually. Most Indians I met in NYC were the sort who couldn’t imagine striking up a conversation well past midnight on the N train with a bunch of drunk women who judged the Mermaid parade, and most Americans were the sort who wouldn’t catch a concert on the UWS post-8pm unescorted. Me, well, I just reaped the benefits showered by Giuliani and Bloomberg and picked fights on Bronx-bound trains with everyone from jobless teenagers to pushy moms. But it wasn’t anything to speak of.
When I look back, the past ten years has been sheer hell. It’s almost like the UPA govt had to do something with it. Well, yeah, actually, the falling Rupee didn’t help my case at all. I can’t even count the number of neuroses, intrusive thoughts, terrible experiences, near-misses and rollercoaster of emotions I’ve been through. True, I’m now more grown-up and mature and understanding and empathetic than most others I know, but I don’t recommend this route to getting there.
That said, it’s all in the little things, I guess.
Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have expected I’d be living in a nice little apartment by a lake. Or that I’d pass by seaplanes everyday that I find seaplanes boring. Eight years ago, if you’d told me I’d be pursuing researchy computer science and writing hundreds of lines of code a month, I would have laughed in your face, because I hated coding that much. The same would’ve been my reaction if you’d told me I’d hang out with a crowd with whom I didn’t actually feel a bit ‘off’.
It’d blow my mind to know, even four years ago, that I’d be comfortable with long, long periods of silence. And six months ago, if you told me I’d get a job because of a crappy hack I wrote and put online. I’d assume you were messing with me.
Until two years ago, I wouldn’t believe you could go to a Norah Jones concert for $30 or that anyone could fall in love with her voice. I once whined to a friend that all the bands I loved had only dead people in them…. how my mind would have been blown if I was told I would go watch Queen and The Doors live, and that I’d actually see Dylan and Knopfler live and hate them.
I’d believe it if I heard I’d one day get to listen to my idols talk about topics dear to my heart with me in the front row and asking them questions, but I’d be shocked that day would come so quick. A lot of my sleepless nights would be quelled if I’d only known that yes, one day I’d get to work on what I love, with people who care about the same things and who didn’t have their noses in the air.
And at age 5, I’d be glad to know I wouldn’t actually die of typhoid.
And if you told me earlier today I’d see a man loading a truck with used toilets, I’d’ve stared at you. Expectedly, however, I chatted him up.
Like Subramanian Swamy says, no one expected Deve Gowda to become the PM. And Narendra Modi for PM? Whodathunk! And they used to call Indira Gandhi a goongi gudiya.
I met someone recently who I’d spoken to last ten years ago, and he told me I’m still the same, and my writing style makes me instantly recognizable. My first reaction, of course, was “But…. so much personal growth! I don’t even feel like the same person!’. And then my reaction was ‘Wait, I have a writing style? Finally! I developed one so many years after Allen Mendonca told me to!’.
Life’s full of uncertainties. And sometimes it’s a good thing.
Maybe ten years hence, I’ll be good at playing panpipes. And maybe I’ll make Alaska my home. Or maybe I’ll be writing for SNL. Who knows, right?