New Year, New City

ATTENTION BLOGOSPHERE!

Consider this my “I’m back bitches’ post. After a summer/fall/winter-ish….oh hell let’s face it nearly a year gap, I’m resolving to revive my blog writing ways! My update comes in different forms—I’ve moved to Mumbai so expect pictures, lots of them. And this time since I’m not living in the Boondocks of Bombay aka Chembur, life will be a bit more happening what with the mix of religions in Bandra not to mention the expatty vibe.

To backtrack, I came to Bombay in August of last year. After a series of personal blows I questioned whether I made the right decision by moving to Bollywood. 6 months in and I am happy I pulled through. I had a millions reasons why moving my Jersey-bred butt back to the Garden State made sense. But I stayed here. I knew India had me, at least for now.

Being home for the summer was wonderful. Pools, sunshine, friendship, nothing makes me happier. I was struggling though—physical therapy wasn’t happening despite my best efforts. M’s been with me here for 2.5 months and slowly but surely losing her marbles. She finds ways to keep busy but when its time to go, it’s time to go. And sure enough that time is right around the corner. We had a great end to the year, with two last minute vacations to Turkey in September and Dubai this past week.  I’ve always heard about how man-made Dubai was but I was shocked by the true artificial (oxymoron much?) nature of the city! More on this in another post…Turkey was next level gorgeous, especially so Pamukkale the town where my oldest childhood friend was getting married. My sister joined for the Turkey trip so it was especially special.

Travels, tumults, and triumphs are a good way to sum up these last couple of months. Oh and therapy, lots of physical therapy. Enough alliterations for tonight.

I’ve been working on a new blog that’s not up and running just yet, so stay tuned. Till then TheGait marches forward.

Happy 2014!

 

27 and steady

Although I haven’t been as regular with posting as I would have liked (ahh, the inevitable bloggers-guilt), these past two months have flown by due to bridal duties. I’m not talking my own wedding here but rather friend’s weddings. This downtime has given me a chance to indulge my craft skills by making keepsakes for my bride-to-be friends, planning and hosting a 45-person Russian bridal shower at my house (more on this next week…) and general coordination/detail orientated tasks. Many trips have been made to Michael’s, the art supplies store; it’s really fascinating/rewarding what focused work can achieve! Because I’m asking a lot from my motor functions all of these things take time and can be tiring activities for me. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it (1 AM iPhone notes about decor ideas and keepsake boxes revealed I’m actually into this stuff). Plus it’s always a nice feeling putting a smile on your good friend’s face 🙂

And yes, I age-dropped (my post title) but I guess it’s okay to do that when you’re still in your 20’s.  After 29, it becomes more of a secret. For my birthday this year, I had a wonderful Greek dinner with old friends and their accompanying mothers. It was too adorable. To see friends whom I’ve known for decades and their mothers together with my sister and mum was incredible. Despite the torrential downpour that ensued on the drive over and the odd placement of the restaurant, we doubled over in laughter over our childhood antics and the weirdness we participated in as youths. I drove home, my belly full and mind drunk with happiness, satisfaction and love.

Home Front/Cold Front

‘I never thought I would have to readjust to an American lifestyle’.–This is what I told myself 3 years ago upon returning to NJ after living in Pune for 10 months. I had a serious case of wtf?! moments–no geysers, people obeying traffic rules, privacy, no masses on the streets….you get the picture.

After traveling back and fourth to India many times over, the adjustment becomes easier, the aftershock, less. This time around the overwhelming feeling I had when I arrived home was a peaceful one.’IT IS SO QUIET”. I slept earplug-free for the first time in months. Mind you, I’ve been a troubled sleeper for awhile now, but going from 3 months living on the towns loudest street corner to pin-drop silence will make a sleeper out of you. Trust.

Note: NONE of this is to say that America is better than India, or vice versa. I used to play this game but I’ve come to learn the plus and minuses of both; wonderful and destructive countries in their own ways.

One of the challenges I’m facing right now is the extreme cold front the northeastern US is experiencing. To go from 100 degree weather to 32 degrees is just TOO extreme, for anyone- abled or disabled. But even though I’ve done the trip to and fro India many times over now, one thing remains the same– there is an energy about where I live (NY/NJ) that leaves one feeling unsatisfied; maybe it’s a go-getter attitude or the constant desire to be better than the next person, but I hate it. With dissatisfaction comes guilt, and with guilt comes too many unnecessary emotions. I’ve decided in the time I am here I want to live guilt-free. Does this mean I will go on a murderous rampage or throw temper tantrums at any given stranger? Absolutely-friggin-not (welcome to Jersey). It simply means I will no longer allow myself to give in to the guilt that surrounds me. My battle with guilt began long before my diagnosis with Muscular Dystrophy, but time’s a changing. In the words of Michael J.  Fox (and the Twelve-Step Program):

‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’

Now, I finally know the difference.

Hallmark, take note!

I went to a local Archies the other day to purchase a ‘thank you’ card. I was immediately greeted by over-sized teddy bears and balloon hearts, typical V-day leftovers.  I noticed that the store had cards for only two types of people: lovers and students!

National exams are right around the corner here in India and I think its wonderful that cards like these exist. Too often students are academically pressurized to extreme degrees. Here, we have a healthy amount of encouragement to study and do well on exams.

Well done, India!

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The Blame Game and other concerns

Less than a week before I’m back in the States.

This morning Sapna got all teary-eyed as I was preparing my carry-on bag for Monday’s departure. She asked, “You will call me, right?” I told her I would. She says she never took care of ‘such an American girl like me’ before and will think of me often. I’ve been in this situation before, (circa 2008-Anita, Dr Marda, 2009-Jai Ram, 2010-Dayanda Ashram…the list goes on). Everyone involved feels some level of sadness and within a week, will be back to his/her regular schedule. It happens. Time and again. The attachment is natural; we are around one another every day for months, until one day we’re not. The memories fade. Sometimes people’s feelings get hurt and we move on with our lives.

I nod my head assuring Sapna that we will be in touch, even though inside I know it’s a lie. This morning I asked if I could take a picture of her so I could remember her. She happily agreed and I quickly snapped a pic on my iPhone. So check out Sapna as my picture for the day. Even if we never talk again, I’ll remember this.

At the clinic there is a young female therapist that has been working with me since December. She’s sweet and naive. I found her to be good company and we would chit chat in between sessions; topics ranged from my physical progress to the best places in Bombay to shop. As my time at the clinic became increasingly difficult to tolerate and an unhealthy place, I decided to leave for good. I sat down with the doctor’s assistants and gave my reasoning. I said as easily as I made the decision to come, I decided it was time to leave. They listened, argued, listening some more and finally we shook hands. The young physical therapist expressed how hurt she was by my decision (‘I thought we were friends! I never thought you would do this to me!’) but I knew–and she did too–it was a long time coming. The clinic knew my issues with them from Day 1. I adjusted, accepting the notion that, ‘This is India, deal with it,’ which was so often thrown my way during tough times. That place was no longer for me for so many reasons. Part of me felt guilty for the way everything has ended, but that was short-lived. I spoke my truth and if I may say so myself, exited gracefully. I was proud of the way I handled the situation, in a clear almost peaceful manner. Although still 26 yrs for another month, I felt the maturity in that moment. 27 came sooner than expected! I did not blame them nor myself for not trying hard enough.

In India–or let me rephrase that, at THIS clinic in India– patients’ rights don’t count for much. I’m aware of my rights as a patient whether in India or the US. Once that settled in, I knew I had tolerated too much. To BLAME INDIA is NOT a solution. It is careless. ‘Turn a blind eye and accept this,’– is exactly what I was told when I first arrived. There were TONS of solutions to the clinics on-going problems. But the way in which they chose to deal with them was to not. The staff lives in fear of ‘Sir’, the main doctor who runs the joint. I can appreciate hating/fearing/respecting your boss, but this was on another level. The clinic’s weakness are due in part to ‘Sirs’ protocol. I eventually came to understand this was what I took issue with, prompting my decision to discontinue therapy there.

The clinic will be moving in April– a brand-spanking, shiny, new, spacious place completely devoted to rehabilitation. It will no longer handle all of its operations (business and otherwise) in an unventilated basement like it does now. I congratulated the doctor and offered him a challenge for the new center: consider your patient’s decency, always. The doctor said nothing. His assistant agreed she would and we said goodbye.

Oscar night

It’s Oscar night here in India! I set my alarm to wake up at 6AM for the live show, major fail…
Watching the pre-Oscar action got me thinking how similar Bollywood and Hollywood actually are; basic cinematic rules of thumb, the plots, drama, and of course, the classic characters.

Take the above photo of Devdas for instance. We have the rich hero, Devdas, (top left) who turns drunk and disorderly after his parents refuse to accept his love, Paro (top right). Then comes ‘the other woman’. The plot thickens when both ladies meet (below), but the two become fast friends–  I seriously doubt this would actualize in Hollywood film, but Bollywood is more about the whole friendship thing.

Naturally there is wise old granny dishing out life/love advice:

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And finally, the villain in all his glory, aka his mustache:

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Is Bollywood just a super colorful, lengthier version of Hollywood with hilltops and dance numbers for good measure? If our characters are constant and stories varied, are there any true distinguishing factors to the whole of Bollywood vs Hollywood?

Grace…

Grace

“Here in the Sahyadri forest was an old man, a tribal with no schooling, practicing a highly principled philosophy of life—give when you take; do not take without giving. This was culture at its best. I smiled and gracefully accepted his gift…The Thandappa rose even further in my esteem when he remarked with a twinkle, ‘There is a grace in accepting also.'”