Well, Shit Happens

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Yesterday was one of those days when everything just goes wrong. Characters: a bully, a friend, someone who I thought was my friend but who has started to pull away and made a comment that hurt more than he might realise. The sky was gloomy, and everything looked colourless, withering. I kept fantasizing about dying, although I believe I am too much of a coward to commit suicide. But then I remembered that this is not the first time I was being let down. People have let me down in the past, and with each time, I am beginning to get over it sooner. Yesterday I had my few hours of tears and self-pity, but I feel good that I was able to get myself back together in a shorter time than ever. Well, either I am becoming stronger or I have got so used to being disappointed. Interesting thought, I have to say. It is liberating in a weird way. After a point, you stop caring. For me, that point was yesterday. No matter how bad things are, they always get better. I can’t see it now, but there will be a way. There always is. Meanwhile, I have two great comforts: my books, and science. At least, they never let you down.

Also, the sun was glorious this morning. It floated like a golden coin on the horizon. Just wanted to note that, because it was a beautiful sight.

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A Slightly Depressing Yet Ultimately Hopeful New Year Post

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They say the darkest hour comes before the dawn. But when there are so many dark hours, I catch myself wondering whether this is the moment before dawn or just another of those dark moments.
I truly hope this was the darkest hour and that what comes next will be the dawn. Someone has recently let down all my trust in humanity, but another person, a friend, has risen up to show unexpected kindness, it took me by surprise. Although I am now torn between trust and mistrust, the one act of selfless acceptance by my friend shines through to give me enough hope for the coming year.
Happy New Year to all! To hope, to the dawn!

A Slap on My Face, With a Book

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The recent couple of posts have been a bit on the serious side, so let this one be more on the light side. Something I came across on the internet today reminded me of one of my “I can’t believe I did that” moments. So, let me tell you about the time I bought the (in)famous self help book, “The Secret”. Yeah, yeah, I know, please go ahead and laugh at me. I will wait while you collect yourself.

Okay, done? Shall we get back to the topic then? All right, I confess I did buy the weird *cough* stupid*cough* book. A hard-copy. Yeah. In my defense, I thought it had something to do with ‘Aladdin and the Magic Lamp’ from the Arabian Nights (hey, that’s what they showed in the ads!). being the sucker for fantasy that I am, I didn’t think too much before buying it. As it happened, I asked my father to get a copy on his way home from work, which means I did not get a chance to flip through before buying the damn thing. My mistake.

As I was started reading the book, I was slightly disappointed, but decided not to judge it, expecting to find at least some positive and useful tips about life. After reading the last page, I double-checked to make sure that it was really over. It was… confounding, to put it mildly. The book seemed pointless, like the author was trying to say something, but lost her train of thought in the process. There was much talk about some law of attraction but even after reading the whole book, it was still unclear what on earth it could be. I tried googling about it, but all the descriptions seemed rather vague. I kid you not when I say that it was a couple of days before I realised that whatever I read in the book was probably all I was going to find. Ah, sometimes you have to be slapped in the face by life to learn a lesson.

If anyone reading this is a fan of the book or the author, I don’t mean to offend you, but I would like to suggest that there are better books out there that actually give practical advice and don’t leave you befuddled in a surge of warm, cozy feelings. If it is a feel-good book you need, there are plenty of others that do the job, but also with an entertaining story in them. If you want sensible advice and a concrete plan, go for something else. I found “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R Covey to be helpful, because the concepts were laid out in a methodical and logical fashion (just don’t ask me how much I actually follow; I love making plans, not necessarily executing them). I think it avoids too many trimmings and fillers. More to the point, it doesn’t say things like, “let me show you how to be superman (or superwoman), with this magic pill!” (Disclaimer: I have not read any of his other books, so I can’t speak for them)

That was one of the stupid things I did. What about you? Feel free to share something you did that made you say, “I can’t believe I did that!” Come on, we are all friends here! 😉

Questions of Interpersonal Attachments

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It has been a while since I posted, again. Well, I have….. Oh, well, this is almost becoming a clichĂŠ, so let me just get to the point. I have been thinking about attachments and intimacy between people. The reason for this is something that happened yesterday, while talking to a friend (yes, I do get many writing inspirations from talking to my friends).

Now, just to give an additional perspective, this is a person I like, and find attractive. We were chatting online, and he shared a video with me, to support a point he had made. A couple of quotes from the video particularly resonated with my own ideas, and I mentioned it to him. He said, “I knew you’d like it.” It might sound silly, but I was thrown off guard by this comment. I asked him why, and he said I was predictable, which did little to ease my discomposure. Within moments, I found myself panicking, because someone else could predict me. I felt so out of control, so vulnerable, despite it being someone I was interested in (or perhaps it was because I was interested in him). It was terrifying. I mentally shut down and ended the conversation coldly, after a few more exchanges, despite him telling me that it is okay to feel vulnerable and that everyone is.

This has caused some self-reflection. Often, I think it is a good thing that I don’t form deep attachments with people, because it makes change and moving places that much hard. Make friends, be sincere and loyal, enjoy, but don’t let relationships get in the way of your independence. That seemed a good idea. To be honest, it still does seem a rather neat approach. No emotional mess, no drama and certainly no hurt. But after thinking about yesterday’s conversation, it makes me wonder if it really is a big deal as it feels. What if I do let someone close? Perhaps the risk of losing my independence and getting hurt is worth it? I am not sure. Perhaps it is all balderdash. Why would someone knowingly invite trouble?

Gee, I sure sound confused. However, I can’t really see the point in opening oneself up to emotional uncertainty and possible hurts and let-downs. But who knows, I could be completely wrong, for many a hopeless romantic has insisted that it leads to things marvellous and wonderful!

(For the record, I am still uncomfortable with my friend being able to predict me!)

Random Person: “Are You Thinking About Marriage?” Me: “What the…?!”

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Why is it that when a girl says, “I want to date, have my experiences, and have fun before I think about all the serious love and marriage stuff”, people react with awkwardness, at best?

Those were the words I told my (male) friend while we were chatting and from the way he responded, I assume he was taken aback. He said it could be interpreted in a double meaning and I responded, “You can take it any way you prefer”. Well, yes, it might not seem like a big deal to many of you, but then, it was (apparently) an awkward moment for him because, you see, I am an Indian girl in her early twenties, an age when parents are expected to start planning my wedding. Funny thing is, earlier during the conversation, he was asking me if there was a wedding in the horizon (which is evidently not counted among awkward questions to ask a person). I am not blaming my friend in any way. In fact, he too had been telling me how he thought the society was intruding too much on individual matters. This, I suppose, is the general reaction to something he is not used to hearing (from a girl, mind you, boys still have these conversations without risking being considered “ill-charactered”).

But this little exchange has stirred up many thoughts on this subject. It is not the first time I am hearing the “marriage question”. My grandfather has indicated a couple of times that he would like to see me married. When my parents were redecorating the house, the neighbours were curious if it was for my wedding. And more than one friend has asked me whether my parents were making plans for my wedding. Sometimes it is funny, but it may get frustrating as their frequency increases (I haven’t reached that stage yet). For now, I really enjoy replying these people in a way that might be scandalous to them. The best part is, you don’t need to put too much effort to sound scandalous (the more conservative the asker, the easier it is to flip them out). Just say, “Oh, I don’t believe in arranged marriage”, “I am in love with a person from another religion”, “I hate children and don’t want a family”, “I have decided not to get married at all”.

In one sense, I should consider myself lucky because I have a family with whom I can discuss these things openly, and that is a privilege not many have (definitely not many Indian girls). My parents know that I won’t consider an arranged marriage and that I can never be a “good wife” or a “good daughter-in-law”, according to the traditional standards. When you know you won’t be forced into a life you don’t like, it takes much of the pressure off you and lets you focus on the funny side of things. Like reading the hilarious “bride/groom wanted” ads in classifieds pages of newspapers. The other day, I got curious about the processes behind arranged marriages and checked out the websites of some Indian matrimonial websites. They are somewhat like online dating websites, except you know everyone is looking for a spouse, and the whole family is involved. The profiles were classified into several categories, like profession, religion, caste, states in India, country of residence (for expatriates), etc. Although I did not have time to explore the websites much, whatever I saw was funny and somewhat incomprehensible to me. The thing I don’t get about arranged marriages is how they are about segregating people based on criteria like their religion, language, etc.  If you only look at profiles from the subsets that you belong to, how can you be certain that there isn’t another person who is a better match for you in one of the other subsets?

I am going to India next week. Even though I dread the invasive questions of distant relatives, neighbours and other random people who happen to be an acquaintances, it would be fun to see them flip out at a casual comment like, say, “Oh, I am in a live-in relationship”! 😉

On Depression

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I have been to quite a few psychologists and counsellors regarding my depression (and acording to me, my apparent quirkiness) and hated most of them. Many of these people who you expect to understand you never do, in fact. For one thing, I seriously doubt whether any of them have had to deal with such crushing blandness in life.

Right now, I am in one of my depression spells (these spells seem to be quite frequent over the last two months). The advice you most commonly get is to focus on the brighter side of things, to try to find happiness in a sweet song, a sunny day or a beautiful flower. But those of you who have ever had to deal with depression, or who deal with it on a regular basis, will know that is not how it works. Well, there are certain kinds of depression that are triggered by outside circumstances, like weather, which might be combatted through such measures. But in my case,depression comes from somwhere deep within, and is rarely influenced by outside circumstances. It happens so often that I refer to it as my “old buddy” who drops by for a visit. And when it visits, it is a terrible guest. It barges in uninvited, it never keeps to a schedule, it demands my undivided attention and it forces itself on almost all areas of my personal life.

When depression comes, it is like everything else fades into a blur and a numbness, and all you feel is a sort of dull sting. I look at a brilliant blue sky or a beautiful new bloom, and all I feel is disgust and cynicism. I hear a beautiful melody and feel like I will have a panic attack any moment. I see happiness around me and I feel hatred towards the world. Even in the face of beauty and hope and happiness, all I feel is a numbness and a vague desperation.

All I want to do at the moment is curl up and go to sleep and not wake up until this feeling passes. Or to have a good cry; to bawl and scream. But I am unable to do both. I can´t curl up and hibernate for days, because I have a train to catch in the morning. And I can´t cry because I feel like crying alone is stupid, when you don´t have a shoulder to cry on. On the other hand, even when I have a loved one with me, I don´t want to cry in front of them for fear of them mistaking it as attention seeking behaviour. I am terrified to cry in front of my real-life best friends. What if they think I am being needy? And I am not comfortable with the idea of cryig in front of my mother (even though I sometimes do it, much to my own dislike), because she will start worrying and I will end up having to comfort her and reassure her that I am not going to commit suicide or anything.

Sometimes I imagine heart-breaking fictional scenarios in my mind to help induce crying. That makes me feel like a masochist, but it helps at times. And I have a fictional best friend who empathises with me. So far, that seems to work all right.

All right, I feel like a total nut. Does anyone else experience the same sort of depression? What are your tactics to deal with it?

Why I Love Germany

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It feels like the previous semester has passed by in a matter of seconds. When you are having fun, it seems like time flies with a passion to make it last as short as possible. And so, my exchange semester is coming to an end (well, the semester technically ended about three weeks ago). I am going to miss the brilliant classes, the multicultural mix of exchange students, the classes and all the amazing people I met here. But most of all, I am going to miss Germany, the country itself.

In the last two weeks, I have travelled to Italy, Spain and France. Although that is too short a time to decide how much one likes a country, I would like to say that I like Germany the most. Yes, my opinion is completely biased, I know. But I do have perfectly reasonable arguments to support my opinion. One word to sum it all up: logic. I love Germany because the whole system makes so much sense to me. It is all so logical. People who know me closely will understand why that appeals to me so much. I simply love logic. It is so beautiful when things have a certain purpose and a good reason behind that purpose. I am not saying everything here is so, but for the most part, it is. This also results in greater efficiency. The general attitude seems to be: don´t complicate things unnecessarily. For example, having separate bins for paper, plastic, glass, organic waste, etc. Or the bicycle lanes. I have a feeling that the popularity of green politics and renewable energy in Germnay is partly due to the fact that it bloody makes more sense to conserve resources and be energy efficient when there is an option to do so! This is my major argument in favour of Germnay.

Another factor is the slightly reserved nature of interactions. Some interpret this as Germans being cold (even a surprisingly large number of Germans think so). But this is the perfect situation for an introvert. And even though the initial interactions can be rather formal, once you are better acquainted, Germans are some of the most genuinely considerate people I have met.

When I came to Germany, I did not have too many expectations. I certainly did not expect to like it so much, because I knew little about it (well, except the Brothers Grimm and Green Party!) But now I have fallen in love with it! Even though I did miss my friends and family once in a while, never have I felt homesick. Not even once.

The two reasons above hardly begin to cover my reasons for liking Germany. But they are the most important ones. I do not want to write a post listing the reasons I love Germany. There are a lot of them on the internet, which will be far more exhaustive than anything I can come up with. These two are the ones that matter the most to me, and hence I am sharing it here.

Now as I sit in an aparment in Munich, looking out the window at a softly fading, blue summer sky, I feel a heaviness in my heart knowing that I will leave in a little more than a week.

Memories and Loneliness

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It is one thing to feel lonely because you have no friends or can´t seem to make friends. But it is so much more difficult when you have many friends around you and yet feel lonely. That seems apparently without any reason, so you are at a loss as to what to do.

Depression is nothing new to me. I might have mentioned this earlier, but depression is like an old buddy. It pays me a visit from time to time. I am not totally taken by surprise. But it is strange when you feel depressed with friends. Perhaps I still haven´t wrapped my head around the idea that I will never have one more day in the university with my dearest friends. Just a little while ago, I totally broke down at the thought that I can´t have a coffee in the university canteen as a student, because I don´t study there anymore. A stupid coffee! Of course it is ridiculous. I can still have all the coffee I want, but  it will never be the same without my friends with me to talk about philosophy, gossip, politics, crushes and everything else under the sun. It is hard to have to grow up. Bug, Bum, Buttminster, Jay, I miss you guys more than I can express. I would do anything to have just one more evening of carefree chat over a coffee.