“Hey! What’s going on?” I answer a whatsapp call distractedly, while stirring the simmering curry in my kitchen. It’s my sister, aka Big Sista.
“Nothing much!” she says, “Slogging away in the office, as usual. I tell you, I badly need a break.”
“Why am I hearing laughter and singing in the background?” I ask, reaching for the bay-leaf box in the shelf.
“Oh thhhat?” she says, “My colleague’s b’day. We are having a pizza party. I just came back at my desk. Pizzahut here has this new Mexican pizza..umm umm ummmm. I am telling you, that’s. the. stuff.”
“I seeee!” I grin, putting the gas stove on low and going to flop down on the living room couch, “On a totally different note, how’s that diet of yours coming along?”
“Yeah, it’s going on fine.” she says, “Ok, listen. Speaking of diets and food, you have got to talk to mum. I found such an amazing lady for cooking food at mum’s place but you know her and her iron-clad rules. She doesn’t like hiring anyone for cooking. The maid called me just now saying that mum has sent her back two days in a row now. Said that she has food stocked up. I tell you, just like a child. Will you speak with her?”
“With the maid?” I ask.
“No, you dummy!” she says, impatiently “With mum.”
“Ahh! Sure I will!” I laugh, “I think mum loves her evening tea-time too much. Some snacks, a large mug of tea and her television show re-runs. So I guess, by dinner-time she really does feel full and she sends the maid back.…. ”
“HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT? SHOULDN’T SHE EAT AFTER COMING FROM SCHOOL? SHE MUST FEEL SO HUNGRY, Poor mum!” Big Sista shouts, “As it is she is depressed nowdays because Zindagi channel has stopped telecasting all the shows she used to love. You know, all women of our country are in grieving because of that. ”
“Hereee we go!!!!!!” I groan, “You know, you and mum always do this to me. You guys bring little issues to me regarding each other but both of you go into major defensive mode for each other whenever I try to sort it out. You only take care of it.”
“He he!” she backtracks, “Sorry, sorry! You are my nice sister. Please talk to mum. She just doesn’t like the idea of hiring a maid for cooking as that has never happened in our house earlier. It’s a big change yes, but a necessary one. If I talk to mum, I know we will end up bickering.”
“Fine!” I say, “Will do. Gotta go now. Have to check up on the dinner. Bye”
Later in the evening, I am vaccuming the house when my phone rings. It’s my mum this time aka Mother Superior. I switch off the hoover and answer it.
“Hi mom! What’s up?”
“Hi beta!” she says, “Nothing special. Just finished making some worksheets on the laptop. Decided to take a break and thought of catching up with you. “
“Oh yeah!” I smile, “How is it going with your new toy? You are really enjoying that laptop, aren’t you?”
“Oh yes!” she says, “It’s so convenient to have my own. Otherwise I could only use the ones at school. Now I can complete my work at leisure at home. How times change. I never imagined I would be able to learn computers. It’s good to adapt to new things with the changing times.”
“ I am proud of you mum for getting the hang of it so quickly” I say, “..and speaking of adapting new things, I hear you have a new ‘cookie’?”
“What’s a ‘cookie’?” she asks.
“You hired a woman to cook for you, didn’t you?” I grin, “I have invented a new term for that. Cookie. A person who cooks.”
“Oh god,” Mother superior sighs, “ you are a silly girl. Anyway, I am going to tell this “cookie” that I don’t need her. You sister forced her on me. At night, I want to eat light. I don’t see a point of getting a full dinner cooked for me alone every night from a cook. It’s unnecessary.”
“Come on, mum” I say, “Give her a chance.If you don’t eat your meals properly, it will start affecting your health. I know we have never had maids for cooking in the house but give it a go. If it doesn’t work out, you can always let her go after a month.”
“Fine” she says and I can picture her pursing her lips, “I know you and your sister are in on this together.”
“She means well.” I smile.
“Yeah, yeah!” she says, “I will let Sevanti stay for the time being.”
“Sevanti?” I burst out laughing, “Is that her name? it sounds so much like…..”
“Yes, I know.” Mother superior snaps, “Like my name…Only few letters are different. That’s another reason I don’t like her actually, poor thing. A couple of times it has happened that someone has shouted her name on the street and I have gone to the balcony thinking someone has called for me. Hmph! Also, she cooks oily food. I will stand besides her to make sure she uses less oil. Just the other day, I was telling your sister that we should cut down on the oil and ghee and now opposite is happening.”
“It will all be fine.” I assure her, “ I talked to Big Sista a short while back. They were having a pizza party at her office. Now I have a hankering for pizza.”
“These office parties don’t let her stick to her diet” Mother superior says, irritably, “I scolded her the other day about having outside food. These samosas, kachoris, golgappe should stop. I will call her and scold her again. This girl just doesn’t listen to me ever!”
“Don’t do that mum!” I whine, “She will kill me.”
“Allright!” she says,.”but I will, after a few days. I will hunt for that diet chart she gave me a Xerox of last year, when she had lost an ample of weight. It was good. We should all follow that.”
“Yeah, e-mail me a copy too.” I say, “Sissy dear does look like she has gained some weight in the recent pictures….”
“SHE HAS NOT GAINED THAT MUCH ALSO THAT IT CAN BE SEEN IN PICTURES.” Mother superior yells, going into her Indian-protective-mother mode “It’s just a little holiday weight. Don’t you say anything to your sister. Whole day she is in office working. Where will she find time to exercise and take care of her health?”
“AAAAAAAAARGHHHHH!” I scream, “YOU BOTH ARE IMPOSSIBLE! I am out. Whatever the discussion be with you two, I only end up getting fired. Why do I bother? “
I talk to Mother Superior for some more time and hang up when hubbyji buzzes from outside. He’s home from the office. I buzz him in and opening the front door, wait for him to enter.
“Hello!” I say, taking his bag.
“Hmph!” he grunts, storming into the living room, while removing his jacket.
“Bad day?” I ask.
“Worst” he says.
“What happened?” I ask, frowning. It’s amazing how our mind immediately comes to the worst conclusions in a fraction of moment. Job cuts, severe health conditions or a huge disagreement with peers.
“They…” he says, laying his head back on the couch and rubbing his eyes, “ They….moved the office coffee-machine…”
I stare at him and he stares back, me expecting the story to go on and him expecting some sort of reaction from me.
“That’s It?” I ask, my nostrils flaring.
“What do you mean “that’s it”? he says, as if I am crazy, “It was kept at the perfect location for the past one year, i.e since I joined. You know, how convenient it was for me to walk 10 minutes to reach it at the upper floor and then back to my desk. It provided me with an opportunity to stretch my legs and a little dose of exercise, at least twice a day. Now they have moved it closer and I just have to get up and walk into the adjacent room and lo, there it is! Apparently, some people complained about it being “too far away”. It’s like we don’t like to move a bit…”
“You are the one being unreasonable” I retort, walking into the kitchen and putting the kettle on for tea, “ If you want to walk, go outside during lunch hours and do it. What has coffee-machine got to do with it?”
“You don’t know anything.” hubbyji sighs, un-tying his shoe-laces and throwing his shoes helter-skelter, “It had become a part of my daily routine now ………”
“You are just being silly.” I snort.
“Reallyyyyy?” hubbyji says, sarcastically, “Excuse me, aren’t you the one who sulked for weeks because ‘Downton Abbey’ only had 6 seasons?”
“That’s different!” I snarl, “Those weren’t characters, it’s like they had become a part of my life.. and more importantly, every good show should have at least 10 seasons. That’s the law.”
“Sure! The law.” hubbyji snickers, heading inside to freshen up, “That’s not silly at all.”
I take the tea cups and cookies in the living room and wait for hubbyji to join me. I think back on the day about my conversation with Mother Superior and now hubbyji. There was a common pattern there…….
At the risk of sounding clichéd- Man is certainly a creature of habit! We, as a species, do not adapt very well to any sort of change. Our emotional well-being is reliant on there being a constant degree of consistency and predictability in our lives. Any change, big or small, brings aforth the stress of feeling uncomfortable. Thus, it creates significant emotional disturbance, leaving us feeling unnerved and on edge. It seems easier to have things stay the same, almost like it is a waste of time to have to learn how to interact with a new environment or new circumstances.
Everything about this world is changing each moment. It may seem as if some things are relatively stable, but the truth is that ironically, it’s the change that is constant. On the microscopic level, everything is changing continuously. Our relationships change, the circumstances change, our feelings change, nothing is ever exactly the same each moment.
Whether it’s at work or deciding who will do the dishes at home, we want things to work out in our favor…but that’s not how life works. Living life means encountering the wonderful, the weird and all that goes in between. It’s a process consisting of many ups and downs and never a straight line. We all have things in our lives we’d like to improve—finances, job, partner, house, etc. All of us know that nothing will improve by itself. We need to do things differently to make that happen. When things stay the same, you eventually reach a ceiling where you can go no higher in your current environment.
Change is a necessary component of growth. You grow and learn new things every time something changes. You discover new insights about different aspects of your life. You learn lessons even from changes that did not lead you to where you wanted to be. Even if you resist or avoid it, change will enter your life just the same. When you initiate the change yourself, it’s pretty easy to adapt to it, since it’s a wanted one.
Change makes you humble, it connects you to others and it builds empathy. If makes you passionate and inspiring. It makes you interesting. Most of all, it makes life more fun and worth living. Living a purpose driven and goal driven life is more exciting that sleep walking through life. You can shape the direction and shape the purpose rather than living on someone else’s directions.
I hate exercising. I hate eating fruits and I hate time management… OR I USED TO. When my weak immune system landed me in hospital for a week last year, I tried to adopt new habits for my own sake. I took up walking, I took up yoga, I began to eat healthy and bid goodbye to my junky food habits. I tailored my day-to-day routine to be more systematic and disciplined. Today, these habits have served me so well and moreover, to my surprise, I actually have begun to enjoy all of them! Your likes and dislikes are not as concrete in nature as you’d think. Without change, we are less likely to have a go at new things.We will more than likely shop at the same grocery store, eat the same foods and paint our houses the same colour. We will also stop ourselves from learning and experiencing new things and changing so that we may become better people. Without change, there’d be no improvements. With it- We live. We experience. We learn.
The biggest change in life occured when I got married. As an individual, you’re able to do everything your way, but when you consciously decide to include someone else in your world, you must learn to soften, understand, be flexible. You cannot be closed off, guarded, rigid and unwilling to look at life events from different perspectives. You have a person with whom you share your life with and thus, you have to be willing to let his/her opinions and beliefs enter and influence your world. They will anyway, but it will be so much better if you are open and welcoming to the changes.
There is another thing that I enjoy a lot personally- an intelligent debate. Even in case of very sensitive issues where each side has strong opinions and it is unlikely that either of us can manage to change each others’ views, it’s still always interesting to listen to a different point of view, even if you strongly disagree with it. In the absence of discussions, many negative feelings will always fester – anger, resentment, frustration. In those few relationships in which I feel I cannot fully express my thoughts and feelings, I have felt very limited in how far that relationship can form.
Me and hubbyji often have long heated debates because being as different as chalk and cheese, it’s a given that there are few things in this universe that we both agree upon. Be it politics, sports, world affairs or even the most trivial matters such as which song did Kareena Kapoor look hotter in, we have long debates/discussions on every topic under the sun, complete by listing pros and cons. Many of the time, these debates even turn into fights. I LOVE this aspect of our relationship. I love how much we TALK to each other. There have been hundreds of instances in these last seven years, where he has actually managed to change my strong opinions and I have changed his.
Finally, changes connected with moving from city to city and country to country impacted my personality. Thanks to them I became more open-minded. Now I understand cultural differences and appreciate diversity.
Change occurs when the fear of staying the same outweighs the fear of change. It can be worth it, but it is not always easy. You have to take the rough with the smooth, and the bad with the good. Not all changes lead you to pleasant periods of life. Sad things happen, too. Some changes are not voluntary. They are thrust upon us by the circumstances and we have no choice but to cope with them. You just can’t TRUMP them *giggle giggle*
Overcoming the tough period will always make you stronger. I know that it’s easier said than done, but at the end of the day, we have little choice. Lapses provide clues towards finding and re-building a healthier life and returning to recovery with increased insight and skills.
The bottom line is, change is important because as humans we are constantly evolving. Growth, development, and evolution are how we’ve survived all these years as a human race. We didn’t just stick to what we knew, what we saw, what we believed. We admittedly looked for new ways to go about things, and this is exactly how we must behave when faced with necessary changes. In our circumstances, in our world around us, people are constantly transitioning from one thing to the next. If we do not recognize the need for change, then we find ourselves not doing the things that are necessary to grow and improve.
I am a strong advocate of change. Try it and let go of the rigidity. Challenge your assumptions. Test your belief system. Embrace new perspectives. KEEP AN OPEN MIND. Find out what you can handle and what you can’t. Learn about your limitations. Step out of your comfort zone and see how much you flourish….and how much fun you have doing so! You will figure out what you are really made of.
It’s 7:00 am on a Monday morning and I silently tip-toe into the bed-room where hubbyji is still snoring.
“HAPPYYYYYYYYYYYYYY B’DAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!” I scream at the top of my voice, jumping onto the bed like an excited golden-retriever.
“AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHH!” hubbyji instantly springs upright on the bed, disheveled and confused at all the commotion.
He blinks his eyes into focus and face still screwed up, looks at my grinning one for full ten seconds.
“What’s wrong with you?” he finally grunts, “..and smile less. It seems that someone has stretched your mouth like an elastic and pasted on your face.”
“IT’S YOUR B’DAYYYYYYY!” I say, throwing a tupperware full of cake pieces, three roses and a greeting card, onto his lap.
“Yeah, yeah I know that” he says, yawning “but we already cut the cake yesterday, remember?”
“How can I forget” I say, making a face “We cut it at 9pm because you were already nodding off while having dinner. I don’t remember the last time we made it till 12 am on either of our b’days. That too when you are not going to work today.”
“What’s the need?” hubbyji says, “Are we kids? You know how I feel about my b’day. What’s the big deal? It’s a nuisance.”
“DON’T SAY THAT!” I scold him, “You have rest of the 364 days of the year to be boring and monotonous to your heart’s content. We have one day assigned to be excited and to celebrate life and we are going to do it. We will go our for breakfast, and for shopping and for dinner and…..”
“Excuse me” he says, tapping me as I am counting the activities on my fingers, “..but isn’t today about me? Shouldn’t we spend the day as I would like to..?”
“No!” I say, dismissing him, “That’s not an option. I don’t want to spend the day staring at you from the kitchen while you type away at your laptop the whole day. The fact that we have both of our b’days and anniversary in the span of just two months doesn’t help. I wait one full year for these occasions to arrive and I want to make the best of them. I have everything planned for today….get up! get up! get uppppp!!!!”
“And you must hav planned everything for your own b’day as well” hubbuji asks, getting off from the bed and stretching like cat.
“YOU have to plan that, duh!!” I say, rolling my eyes, “Seven years and I have to tell you everything. Surprise me on my b’day. You know, flowers, cake, presents, romantic dinner and the works…but you have to plan all of that yourself. I won’t tell you a thing, ok? Don’t make too much of a fuss…. but do make a little fuss. Okaayyy?”
“Kill me now” hubbyji mutters, heading towards the washroom.
“DON’T SAY THAT ON YOUR B’DAY MORNING!” I shout, throwing a pillow at him.
It hits the door and as I go to pick it up, hubbyji’s phone rings. It’s Mother Superior, obviously calling to wish him for his b’day.
“H…” I start, answering the phone.
“HAPPY B’DAY TO YOUUUUU…..HAPPY B’DAY TO YOUUUUU….HAPPY B’DAY DEAR…..” Mother Superior sings.
I wait for her to finish her song and realize that I have inherited all the enthusiasm from my sunshine of a mother.
“Err.. mum!” I say, when she takes a break “It’s me. He has just woken up and gone to freshen up.”
“Why didn’t you say so before, beta?” she says, “I sang the whole song. Sevanti is looking at me all funny. Anyway, manyyy happy returns of the day to you too beta. What’s the plan today?”
“I plan to make b’day boy enjoy, even if he wants to hibernate far away from the world on this special day.” I say, “We will spend the day out. Irish breakfast, then shopping at the mall and romantic dinner afterwards…”
“Breakfast and dinner both outside?” Mother Superior asks “When he wishes to spend the quiet day in the house why are you forcing him otherwise? It’s all about your love for food, I know that. You need to change your eating habits beta. I read this amazing article about how changing your lifestyle every few days is extremely important. I will forward it to you. I looked at your picture on facebook yesterday..you are also looking as if you have put on a few kilos. I will send you the diet-chart I found yesterday. It says no flour, no fried stuff, no potatoes, no fizzy drinks, no rice……”
“Kill me now………….” I think to myself, closing my eyes and nodding along silently, with the mobile phone stuck to my ear.