An Old Sunday

**This post was from a little over a year ago when I re-moved to Bandra. It was written on a Sunday so I’m posting it. I never posted it after I wrote it and I don’t know why.

Sitting in one of the three Starbucks located in the Khar/Bandra area (this is my first time at this specific location). Not mad at it since there’s not even one step to enter, so so rare in this country. The upstairs has more seating and I’m sure it’s much more open. But here I am since it’s close to home. A good way to get out of the house, although I’d be happy sitting in my PJs in my beautiful (albeit, regrettably noisy) apartment. I had Balu come later in the afternoon today, since I woke up late and it’s Sunday. I didn’t feel like starting the day with a packed morning punch I normally throw.

The initial descent into Mumbai was as expected. My body ached but not as much as I expected it to. I slept for a few hours on the flight but the extreme turbulence made me so uneasy. At one point I felt like the plane might go down. I’ve experienced travel/plane paranoia before (see my post Old Gay Love). It’s seriously the worst. I popped a pill and eased my nerves by telling myself that it’s okay, if this was my last sleep there’s nothing I can do. The only thing I might regret would be scolding mom for some stupid shit she said before I left. God, I’m such a bitch. What’s wrong with me? Then I zonked out.

As I traveled through the airport, I noticed the newness of Terminal 2. I saw it when it first opened when I was traveling from Mumbai to Newark in 2014 but I hadn’t seen what it looked like coming to India. People (that looked Indian) took pictures by the modern waterfall. More pictures, more sculptures, more art. Mumbai’s gotten an upgrade. I made a promise to myself to make this time different. It wouldn’t be all about therapies and treatment this time. I would maintain my Americanness. It’s part of who I am. India has a way of changing you but I like the way I am. I know India. It’s not my first time. I would let myself keep up what’s comfortable to me in American and make that work here. I would bow out of some of India’s hard and fast rules.

Some things I would keep for myself included:

-I won’t entertain random uncles or people’s curiosities. It’s too time consuming and I just don’t give a damn anymore.

-Time is important. I won’t waste mine here. Productivity and using my mind for purposeful things is important to me.

-Order (almost) everything online, have it delivered, or have someone pick it up for you. I wasted so much time last I was here running around buying groceries, knick knacks, stupid shit for my apartment. In a way, it helped me explore the city, it’s people and the Mumbai motions, but it was almost always exhausting and a huge waste of time.

-Stick to 1-3 therapies locally, that’s it. People offer their opinions for everything here: from physical therapists to the best carpenters and hair stylists, I’ve learned to way I feel comfortable and my best. There is something to be said about going out of your comfort zone but listen. I’ve been to Mumbai too many times to keep going out of my comfort zone. Also, everyday at least once I am encountered with an experience which is out my realm of comfort. So let me go to Jean Paul Biguine, spend a little extra and feel at home.

Stay open, stay positive but keep in mind you have the experience behind you to know what to do. Allow your past encounters to guide you in a better, more well-balanced life here for yourself this time around. Whatever that means specifically, remember that you got this. It’s not your first time around.

You came here for domestic help, physical therapy and the lifestyle that India affords you. Mainly for the help so let them help you. Do things yourself when you can but for now, till you gain that strength back, allow Jaiya and Balu to be support system right now.

Free yourself from that fear that you have that you won’t find love or mom will be sick or that you will have zero career and serve zero purpose in this lifetime. Time is so precious but you must not be pressurized to get everything accomplished in one days time. Things take time, especially those that are worthwhile take time to flourish.

Back to my airport exit: My bags came out quickly. The wheelchair guy threw my ginormous luggage onto a cart which he wheeled with one hand and pushed me along in the other. I called Balu on the wheelchair guy’s phone. I saw Dad and Balu, Dad looked cooler than normal with his dark washed jeans and loafers. Dad? Is that you? He seemed calm and happy. I was tired but happy. I made it. No one died. I didn’t lose anything. Dad’s safe. I am safe. Success.

I didn’t talk about the apartment, brokers, anything during the car ride. Same old Innova ( no, like its old and run-down now) and same street of Mumbai. A thick layer of smog filled the skies. All I could do was watch the streets. I remember Deepali doing the same when I picked her up from the airport the last time she came to visit me. There’s so much to see. But I feel jaded, unimpressed by the outlandish nature of the streets scenes.

Side-note: why are there people crammed up in this Starbucks? It’s spilling over with people. It’s just Starbucks, people. Calm yourselves.

A breakdown of what’s inside my head: Car ride/Taj/Same people, different year/they remember me, yay!/breakfast at the Taj/owner of celestial sucks/no place to live/back to the hotel/call those brokers/apartment hunting/it’s gross living with a man in a hotel room/can’t wait to have my own bathroom/grossed out my D’s scratching /breakfast/l’amour, yes I need to live here/no monies in the banks/shit/when am i getting out of this hotel/contacting people i know here/ashok/mona/l’amour/i don’t know the answer to some of these questions.

Body Shaming in India, for better or worse

It’s a common phenomenon amongst Indians, commenting on another person’s looks, especially when it comes to their weight. Some think this type of critique is generally reserved for close family or friends, serving as either a compliment or perhaps a cause of concern.

In India, it comes at you from all angles: aunties at a parties, uncles in the lobby, co-workers and friends, and most recently, a maid in the lift of my building. Mind you, aside from my coworkers, I BARELY know these people. I’ve probably had one at max two interactions with them and yet they still find it okay to comment on my body.

My co-workers saw me after 3 weeks and one of them immediately commented on how thin I looked.

“Look at her face,” she told our other co-worker, “it’s gotten so thin. What happened?”

I haven’t intentionally been trying to lose weight, just more conscious about how and when I consume food. I told her perhaps I had; I’ve been doing physiotherapy lately but nothing aggressive.

The next day while entering the lobby of my building, an uncle stopped me to say hello. I had a knee brace on and was walking with my cane so planned to keep our conversation to a minimum. We exchanged pleasantries for a good 5 seconds before he said I had ‘gained.’

“You’ve put on weight, has it? You look heavy.”

I didn’t have an immediate comeback at hand and I bristled at his rudeness.

“No, in fact uncle, I’ve lost.”(I wasn’t sure this was even true but I was riding off my co-workers comments the day prior).

“Oh no, you are looking so chubby. Those chubby, chubby cheeks.”

He made a gesture suggesting expansion had taken place and pulled at his own cheeks. He was convinced I had become nothing short of a cow.

“I’ve always had chubby cheeks. It’s my thing.”

I looked at him sideways, curious with a half-smile. This man sees me in a brace and doesn’t bother to ask what happened to my knee but instead goes for my weight? I walked towards the elevator as he continued on about nothing I cared to hear. There was no room for niceness at that point. I was done being nice for social purposes plus I needed to sit down. I didn’t care what he thought of me. He eventually got the hint and waved goodbye.

I didn’t let the uncle’s comment get to me much that day. In spite of having muscular dystrophy, I can still walk and remain active. I knew my body and I appreciated all that it has done for me. It has let me travel to Turkey, Thailand, and Dubai in the last few years. It’s supported my decisions in going out and staying in and lets me exercise it in a mild manner. I finally reached a place with my body where I’m not criticizing it but rather expressing it as much love and gratitude that I can towards it. But here it was, other people’s unsolicited thoughts over my body flying at me

Later that evening, I had gone out to run some errands and was again, headed towards the lobby lift. A nanny/maid from one of the other floors whom I see on occasion called out to me

“Madam, you’ve decreased no? Lost weight it seems.”

The lift had come at that moment and I was totally caught off guard. I blurted out a response, something to the effect of, “Um, what? I don’t know. Maybe? Yes? Ok Bye.”

I was livid. I know most women (myself included) like hearing people say they’ve lost weight, it feels nice. In my case though, my goal isn’t about weight loss — it’s about taking care of my health. Even if I did lose weight, I’m not looking for outside validation. I didn’t ask for a compliment or to tell me whether the number on my scale has gone up or down. My weight isn’t indicative of a strict diet, upcoming event, or new relationship. Whether I’ve lost of gained, my ultimate goal is remain strong and happy, knowing I’m doing the best I can to stay functional.

The manner in which I handle these scenarios is so mood-dependent. Perhaps because these comment were coming at me back-to-back it all felt too much. I’ve been on the receiving end of much worse when I was younger and chubby from family members in India. It all boils down to your emotional state of mind. After the nanny/maid comment, I was a raging ball of anger. I immediately got inside my apartment and called a friend to rant.

Why is this so normalized? Why do Indians feel the need to comment on my body? I didn’t open myself up to this type of scrutiny. I feel obliged to reply back when I truly don’t want to because then I’m participating in it. Why do we have to arm ourselves with ready responses when this wasn’t a topic I chose to engage in? I don’t want to discuss my body weight with someone I barely know.

For better or for worse, I’m simply choosing to love my body no matter what.

Abracadabra: How we Google to Validate

I’ve been wanting to speak on this topic for awhile. It’s been tucked away in an email draft with the subject: Things I Need To Write About #writerproblems. Some of these ideas never see the light of day/make it through my fingers, though most are good. There are without a doubt terrible ideas I’ve had for pieces that should never come into fruition. Still, I like to keep a record of them if not for making myself feel better that I tried but simply for my own personal amusement over their ridiculousness. #writerproblems.

I’ve written on my blog www.howstraitthegait.com about how technology has changed so many things for us–culturally, socially, emotionally/mentally/physically/, the list goes on. It has it’s enormously meaningful impact on the world but comes with dangerous side effects and drawbacks we’re only now starting to understand and accept.

I’m terribly curious by nature and also extremely anxious/strategic (part of the reason it’s taking me so long to get to this idea #overthinkerproblems). It works both for and against me, this very special trait of mine. I breeze through research, knowing the right questions to ask to get the information I need/don’t (good for journalism). I talk to strangers, socialize often and keep chugging along.

Too often I succumb to the darker side of my anxiety/curiosity and I google the shit out of everything. When I came home from buying a new line of products from Clarins (and after evaluating the products in-store and online), I came home to google, “benefits of X product.” I even remember thinking to myself, ‘isn’t this the strangest behavior? Didn’t I just spend nearly an hour in the mall deciding which products I liked, even got a mini-facial in the process to test said products out? Why do I still need to check this out online?’ It was the first time I really took notice of what I was doing. And last month, I started including more vitamins and supplements in my diet. Most of them need to be taken after a meal. I chose them based on what my multi-vitamins were lacking plus whichever I found would help with muscle/bone strength. Even though I already purchased the vitamins and devised a plan for how I’d space them out throughout the week, I came back to my Macbook only to read about the benefits of each one of those pills.

What are we doing to ourselves? Have we become so dependent on technology for validation that we stop using our brains? I’ve become addicted to reading about the benefits of the choices I make, mainly when it comes to my health or body. I’m less concerned somehow about the risks but I pore over the good stuff–how drinking enough water can completely revolutionize my skin, what a good nights sleep can do for your body and mind, the goodness that comes from a dedicated exercise regimen, how thoughts can positively or negatively impact your behavior and body, and so many other meaningless searches. ALL information I’m aware exists and will continue doing regardless of those benefits yet continue down the bottomless pit of interneting away.

DISCLAIMER: This isn’t solely the result of having too much time on my hands. On days when I’m completely busy with writing, researching, scouring the internet for editors contact information, or just living in India (which requires lots of other types of busy work) I still find myself seeking out this information. I had to ask myself why is it that I keep coming back to this same, silly activity? Is it because I’ve written clickable listicles or articles on the benefits of x thing? Or, worse yet, do I actually care about those benefits?

After all the products have been purchased, the water drunk, the sleep slept, the pills swallowed, the body remains kind of a mystery and no one knows entirely what’s going on inside of it. I suppose its my own fascination with the mysteries of the body that keep me googling but it’s also my inherent desire to be validated–to know that I’m doing something ‘good’ for myself, that I’m treating my body the best I can and heading in the right direction. Its my own congratulatory pat on my back. As we get older there isn’t always someone around to say, ‘good job’ or ‘right on’ or whatever encouraging words people offer one another. We need to believe on our own accord that the choices we are making ARE for our betterment. We validate ourselves and keep moving forward, no matter what Google says.

Googling out our anxieties and fears is the modern version of Abracadabra. We instantly get answers to whatever thoughts/concerns/questions/fears/frustrations/elations we feel, anything we feel! Magic happens in front of our very eyes and before we know it, we’ve got our fix. We instantly feel better or worse, satisfied or left wanting more.

I’ve had to consciously stop myself from googling the benefits of anything these days. Live and let live, I say. I can’t remember googling to validate before the internet existed. It only started about 1–2 years ago. I wouldn’t sum it up to one particular reason but I do believe Google searching has made us so dependent that we forget we already possess a treasure trove of knowledge in our heads. We don’t need the internet to tell us things we already know but we like that it does. And when we start to need it in order to function, we’ve already become addicts.

I remember a book from my childhood (pre-internet) that lived in the study of our house. It was called, “The Big Book of Tell Me Why.” I can remember feeling like I was witnessing something special when I turned its thin pages, privy to information others didn’t have, gaining knowledge to things no one knew. Learning something new was exciting and that book held a magical power over me, something Ask Jeeves or Google never gave me.

Today I caught myself googling the benefits of a new protein supplement I’m taking for muscle growth. I knew I’d be taking the supplement even if I read something suspicious (perhaps I’m also looking for reasons to not partake in said activity or product) yet I still googled away. I guess I’ve reached the point of no return–I’m officially an information junkie, strictly speaking when it come to google searching about the body. Is there internet rehab ™? Someone make that happen. And also credit it to me. Help!

Abracadabra

a closer look @ googling

I’ve been wanting to speak on this topic for awhile. It’s been tucked away in an email draft with the subject: Things I Need To Write About #writerproblems. Some of these ideas never see the light of day/make it through my fingers, though most are good. There are without a doubt terrible ideas I’ve had for pieces that should never come into fruition. Still, I like to keep a record of them if not for making myself feel better that I tried but simply for my own personal amusement over their ridiculousness. #writerproblems.

I’ve written in previous posts about how technology has changed so many things for us–culturally, socially, emotionally/mentally/physically/, the list goes on. It has it’s enormously meaningful impact on the world  but comes with dangerous side effects and drawbacks we’re only now starting to understand and accept.

I’m terribly curious by nature and also extremely anxious/strategic (part of the reason it’s taking me so long to get to this idea #overthinkerproblems). It works both for and against me, this very special trait of mine. I breeze through research, knowing the right questions to ask to get the information I need/don’t (good for journalism). I talk to strangers, socialize often and keep chugging along.

Too often I succumb to the darker side of my anxiety/curiosity and I google the shit out of everything. When I came home from buying a new line of products from Clarins (and after evaluating the products in-store and online), I came home to google, “benefits of X product.” I even remember thinking to myself, ‘isn’t this the strangest behavior? Didn’t I just spend nearly an hour in the mall deciding which products I liked, even got a mini-facial in the process to test said products out? Why do I still need to check this out online?’ It was the first time I really took notice of what I was doing. And last month,  I started including more vitamins and supplements in my diet. Most of them need to be taken after a meal. I chose them based on what my multi-vitamins were lacking plus whichever I found would help with muscle/bone strength. Even though I already purchased the vitamins and devised a plan for how I’d space them out throughout the week,  I came back to my Macbook only to read about the benefits of each one of those pills.

What are we doing to ourselves? Have we become so dependent on technology for validation that we stop using our brains? I’ve become addicted to reading about the benefits of the choices I make, mainly when it comes to my health or body. I’m less concerned somehow about the risks but I pore over the good stuff–how drinking enough water can completely revolutionize my skin, what a good nights sleep can do for your body and mind, the goodness that comes from a dedicated exercise regimen, how thoughts can positively or negatively impact your behavior and body, and so many other meaningless searches. ALL information I’m aware exists and will continue doing regardless of those benefits yet continue down the bottomless pit of interneting away.

DISCLAIMER: This isn’t just because I have too much time on my hands.  On days when I’m completely busy with writing, researching, scouring the internet for editors contact information, or just living in India (which requires lots of other types  of busy work) I still find myself seeking this information. I had to ask myself why is it that I keep coming back to this same, silly activity? Is it because I’ve written those listicles or articles on the benefits of x thing? Or, worse yet, do I actually care about those benefits?

After all the products have been purchased, the water drunk, the sleep slept, the pills swallowed, the body remains kind of a mystery and no one knows entirely what’s going on inside of it. I suppose its my own fascination with the mysteries of the body that keep me googling but it’s also my inherent desire to be validated–to know that I’m doing something ‘good’ for myself, that I’m treating my body the best I can and heading in the right direction. Its my own congratulatory pat on my back. As we get older there isn’t always someone around to say, ‘good job’ or ‘right on’ or whatever encouraging words people offer one another. We need to believe on our own accord that the choices we are making ARE for our betterment. We validate ourselves and keep moving forward, no matter what Google says.

Googling out our anxieties and fears is the modern version of Abracadabra. We instantly get answers to whatever thoughts/concerns/questions/fears/frustrations/elations we feel, anything we feel! Magic happens in front of our very eyes and before we know it, we’ve got our fix. We instantly feel better or worse, satisfied or left wanting more.

I’ve had to consciously stop myself from googling the benefits of anything these days. Live and let live, I say. I can’t remember googling to validate before the internet existed. It only started about 1-2 years ago. I wouldn’t sum it up to one particular reason but I do believe Google searching has made us so dependent that we forget we already possess a treasure trove of knowledge in our heads. We don’t need the internet to tell us things we already know but we like that it does. And when we start to need it in order to function, we’ve already become addicts.

I remember a book from my childhood (pre-internet) that lived in the study of our house. It was called, “The Big Book of Tell Me Why.” I can remember feeling like I was witnessing something special when I turned its thin pages, being privy to information others didn’t have, gaining knowledge to things no one knew. Learning something new felt exciting and that book held a power over me, before Ask Jeeves or Google ever existed.

Today I caught myself googling the benefits of a new protein powder I’ve been taking for muscle growth. I knew I’d be taking the supplement even if I read something suspicious (perhaps I’m also looking for reasons to not partake in whatever activity or product I’m searching about) yet I still googled away. I guess I’ve reached the point of no return–I’m officially an information junkie, strictly speaking when it come to google searching about the body. Is there internet rehab ™? Someone make that happen. And also credit it to me. Help!