The Longing


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I was about 8 years old then and till date it is one of the best family photos. My dad is holding me up

When I was a kid, my father used to work in Kolhapur 8 hour train ride away. He used to come once every month and usually on a Friday as it was the day when he had off. Before my birthday, on 8th November we didn’t receive any phone call from him. I think I was worried as he would call everyday at a fixed time. My mom wasn’t worried and that should have given me the hint. Next day on my birthday my dad surprised me by coming home in the middle of the week. The memory is still blurry but I remember getting really happy and my dad’s belly laugh.

I am doing the same thing now.


My manager/company CEO Warren told me a month ago about the company Christmas break. Other than the 5 public holidays, the company doesn’t shell out a 3 week break like every other company. The first thing that came to my mind was I can go home now.

I acted on the impulse without thinking much and within two hours I had booked my flights. I rapidlyy fire messages to all my friends in India telling I am coming home. I was two seconds shy of posting it on Facebook as I realized that my parents would see it. My trip is a surprise for them, it is exactly as I have always pictured my first trip home would be.

I would ring the bell in the morning and my mom would gasp when I say hi. My dad would probably be eating his breakfast and ready for work. My brother would be too sleepy to bother but I know he would be really happy as well. My dog, Jimmy would be the one who is visibly the happiest.

I won’t be landing in the morning but I still expect a similar reaction. If anyone ever tells you a month is not long then introduce them to me.


More than a year ago, prior to me getting an admitted to AUT or getting a visa, I was having dinner with my dad and brother. We were talking about my future and how I was innocently saying that doing Masters’ would be easy or something like that. He was always reluctant with the idea and I always thought it was because of the money involved. He admitted his reason that night.

He said that he was worried that I will leave them and eventually forget about them. I blame Baghban movie for that kind of thinking. His statement was the equivalent of a sucker punch to my gut. Suffice to say that night was a very emotional night for us. My brother wasn’t much emotional though, he was laughing about it eventually.

I did my best over the last 15 months to not forget about them. His sentence would always be in my head.


“How long have you been here for?” a friend asked me.

“15 months”  I replied. I didn’t like rounding off the number or saying more than a year.

“That’s not very long”

“It feels longer”


I have never lived without my family. As a kid, my parents used to scare me that if I didn’t behave they would send me off to boarding school. I think every parent used that line to, sigh, get their children in line.

If I had I would have some experience with living with myself. I would have some taste of the freedom. I would have known how to cook better and how to deal with my finances better.

Today, I don’t have to answer to anyone about where I am going or when I will be back. I can come back at 6pm after work or I can come back at 2am after a party. I could eat whatever I want and I can even sleep hungry. I can keep a stack of clothes on my rooms’ chair instead of hanging them on hooks.

This freedom brings along with itself loneliness. Regardless of when I come home, my room will be quiet. There will not be my angry sulking dad or my chattering mom. There is no dog wagging his tail at the door for me.

I am by no means saying one life is better than the other. Neither am I saying I wanna go back forever. I could enjoy my life as much as I want here and at the same time miss the life that I had back in India.

I can be happy with my life in Auckland and still long for my life back.

For the next three weeks I intend to enjoy my home, my mom’s cooked food. I intend to enjoy meeting old friends and share a laugh or two. I missed them all.

Who is this guy?


7 months. Without family, with only an hour long conversations with people who I utterly love. And now, this morning I realized I no longer can recognize myself.

Mumbai would be a place of comfort. Where I would say ‘no’ more than I draw breath. No to cooking, no to cleaning, no to socializing, you get the gist.

Why am I writing about it?

Because it is one of those days where there is too much to do. It is this day that I have to go for a job fair, have a date, try my hand at a coding competition and all of this on top of my usual university project and thesis writing. Others, my mom including say that I am chewing more than I can swallow.

I don’t agree with them. I just say ‘Yes’ more now.

Practically everyday I come home, I make sure that I cook my own dinner. I never did that when I was with family, I would always bring something from a restaurant. Now, I love cooking so much that whenever I try something new and it works, I tell mom with excitement. I make sure that my stuff is clean, at university and home.

However not everything is roses. In college, I would have to walk for five minutes before I would run into a friend. I remember a friend complaining to me I know a lot of people. Now, most of my days are spent bent in front of my laptop, learning codes or watching some important tutorial. Friends? I have already given up. I have spent so much of my time in a church where everyone seems friendly and I would rather stand outside than talk to anyone.

I always thought that making friends in a new country would be the easiest thing I would ever have to do and house chores would suck. In the last 7 min, I enjoy chores more than meeting a new face.

I have always ran on ‘Indian time’, a special scale in which it is practically normal to be half hour late. Now, after a colossal mistake, I am always early. I don’t even have an alarm in my phone anymore, I know I will be up exactly 8 hours from when I sleep.

There are not enough words to articulate the discord between me from 7 months ago and me a minute ago. One is full of naivety and other is practical. One is disorganized, other is organized to the minute. One feels lonely, other is lonely.

I never lived in denial back there, now on the end of bad days I sit in my bed watching a comfort show which does nothing more than numb and dumb my brain down. And I am aware of what I am doing. I know this though, regardless of the rejections, bad days and good minutes: I would never regret this life changing move.

So someday, I look at myself in the mirror and ask ‘Who is that guy?’

Privilege


In recent times, privilege has been branded as a word to describe to Whites. The use of the word is many a times justified, but I am not the judge of that. I am not perceptive enough to pick out subtle race differences, to spot the minorities. I am not writing a post about racism, nothing has warranted it. But now, I have  a taste of privilege.

 


 

Last night, after a hilarious evening with some friends I took the midnight bus home. I didn’t want to read a book. I sat with music reverberating in my ears and looked around. For the midnight bus, there were still a lot of people riding home. Auckland doesn’t sleep either. I saw faces mirroring mine: tired, sleepy and listening to music than talk to each other. The only sound was the roar of the engine (which was not much) and chatter of a couple. I raced my brain to draw some inspiration in the scene, to get inspired and write a fictional story from the dark passage home but I couldn’t. How could I?

 


 

We all are going somewhere. One station at a time #train #blacknwhite #auckland

A photo posted by Mayur Wadhwani (@mayurdw) on Feb 29, 2016 at 10:26pm PST

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On my way to work in train, I was reading a collection of personal essays. I was mundane, another commuter more engrossed in his phone or his book than to observe people or talk to people. This changed until the person next to me took out a novel. Her interests and mine were different, I read novels for fun and she read because of curiosity, which was now focused on understanding New Zealand’s aboriginals Maoris. I could see her interests in tracing Maori philosophical & cultural roots

In my time in Auckland, Maoris look physically big, scary. It is difficult to comprehend their accent their sense of humor is eclectic, only to be understood by them. After I actually got to know a few of them, I can say now they are simple-minded and enthusiastic about everything. (Exclude a gregarious roommate I had in my previous home)

We spoke first about Maori culture, I already knew a little about their mythologies as I have read some novels. I don’t know everything about them after reading a couple of novels. On the other hand, she is trying to understand the customs, their drive. She said she could draw many parallels between her Buddhist practices and Maori practices. One peculiar custom we spoke of related to their ‘Mana'(or in how I could understand the term: respect) is when a person wronged and their Mana been damaged, the same person must restore their Mana by damaging the perpetrator’s Mana. From my sessions in my University’s debate society, I know there is a property law founded on the same principle.

However, we quickly moved on from books and spoke about the city life, which is lonely as compared to rural life, rife with communities and mutual care. She said that she is trying to help out in her own way to take care of the surroundings, to give back to the country she is staying in and trying to understand the wealth gap existing particularly in Auckland. She mentioned that she feels privileged to have enough food, shelter and livelihood.

 


 

If you ever ask any foreign national to describe India, or Mumbai specifically, they will say it is very poor. She said the same thing while reminiscing her last trip to Mumbai. She was torn at the sight of so many poor people living without basic amenities. I wanted to tell her that she was a magnet for all the beggars as she had dollars. The heartlessness of my own words shamed me. Our conversation had quickly moved on from Maori culture to the poverty prevalent in my home city, the intensity of our conversation didn’t. As for the homeless in Auckland, I could say I have seen worse. Became immunized to worse conditions.

Probably why I never complain about buses running late in the city, as I have traveled buses which were running with a joke of timetable in my hometown. Why I never complain about the traffic or for that matter the standard of living here as I know it is four times what I was used to. And I am still scrapping the end of the barrel here.

When we spoke, for me it was very easy to fire up, and be outraged by her pity to call India poor. After all we are improving. However, the truth is we have to fight for basic amenities in India. The biggest of which is, and forever will be, water supply. There is too much in rainy season, too little in summer. I tried to defend my country by quoting Rang De Basanti ‘No country is perfect’ but at the end, I knew she was right. The ceaseless struggle, my city which never sleeps, city I left behind. I moved to a place with better living, with hopes of making a better life.

I have no conclusions to draw from yesterday. Because we never reached a conclusion. Maybe there will never be a conclusion.

Local Train

Guest Blog #2: Life As We Know IT


So guest blog #2 By Stressed Mess! You read her interview here! She is really great at fictions and is bound to reach great heights later. Check out her blog!

Without any more delay, here we go:


Crisp Mumbai evening.

He boarded the local train with commuters; but there was a difference between him and the other passengers. They were all eager to get home after a long day at work but for him, he knew this was going to be his last train ride.

He described his life as one big disappointment. He always knew he was destined for greatness, but life intervened at about the tender age of eighteen. He dropped out of college to support his ailing parents, to repay debts and take over the responsibility of his younger siblings.

That was twenty years ago.

He had stopped dreaming. He was a smart, intelligent and ambitious man, now struggling to make ends meet. He was stuck in a loveless marriage and he cannot remember the last time he really laughed. Life was dull, claustrophobic and he was going to relieve himself.

He did not bother with a suicide note, it cannot possibly convey why he was taking such a drastic step. How can a paper provide any kind of solace to the family he was leaving behind?

No. He did not want his life and his death to end up as a piece of paper. He wished oblivion. No one would know how he felt in those last, frantic moments. He wanted privacy; nobody should know what was going on in his mind. He had lived this way and he preferred to die this way.

He stood at the door of the train and watched the sun set; his hair flew with the wind as the train caught speed. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and braced himself to take the leap, to let go the pain. Suddenly he heard a loud bang and the world changed forever.

He opened his eyes and saw that there was blood everywhere. Smoke was everywhere and he could hear people crying in pain. People who were next to him on the train were severed, blown away into bits.

He heard a woman’s cry in his vicinity and tried to get up, but he could not. He looked down and saw his bloody legs. His mind suddenly registered the pain from his legs, pain beyond his endurance. Help took ten minutes to arrive; those were the hardest ten minutes of his life. He was in a lot of pain but he was conscious, aware of his surroundings. There were times when he wished he would pass out just so that he did not have to see the gruesome scene. The only thing he could think of in those moments of agony was that why them and not me?

He forced himself to die; he wanted to die!

He must have lost consciousness at some point because when he woke, he was in a bed at a government hospital surrounded by other “lucky” passengers who had made it. His wife and ten-year-old son rushed into the room. The relief his family had on seeing him there, alive and well was something he would never forget. They both gave him a big hug and spoke about how thankful they were that the horrible bomb blast had not taken him away from them. They did not know that the bomb blast had actually saved his life.

Later that day he scanned the room and looked at the other patients. They were shook up; of course, some had broken limbs and burns. However, they had gratitude in their eyes. Life had thrown a curveball at them but they were positive, it would all be fine. They knew they were lucky they survived. Seeing the distraught looks on the faces of people who had lost family members, he had an epiphany.

After that day, he knew that he had to hang on, take whatever life has to offer and live for the people in his life. Moreover, after that day, he really lived. His life had finally begun.

Your life is not just your own. Human lives are interwoven. Everything you do, every choice you make, has a direct effect on everybody around you. One cannot live in a selfish manner as he lives in a society, with several different people. We think about suicide because we think it will relieve us of the pain we feel when in reality we are just transferring our suffering on to people who love us. With every death, a hole is formed that may never fill. With every death, there are several lives that are disrupted and with every death a tiny part of several people, dies.


My sincere thanks to ‘Stressed Mess’ for doing this and I hope that I did justice to her piece.

PS: I am still calling more guest bloggers, any one interested can contact me at: itsmayurremember@gmail.com

Laughter!


This one is special. It is very close to my heart and I felt like writing about it for a while.

Laughter. It is contagious, spontaneous and very much precious. Ever heard a baby laugh? In no time almost everyone looking at the baby starts laughing, the joy spreads across like water.

If you know me and have heard my laugh, you will agree with this, I laugh like a maniac. Total and absolute maniac. I laugh with my feet bouncing off the floor, my arms making some unintelligible symbols in the air before clenching my stomach because its paining from laughter.

I am one of the few people who can laugh at anything and everything till tears swell out of my eyes. And I’m extremely proud of that.

How many people do you know who could look at something and make an insane joke and start howling in laugh? The answer is none. Well some can, but none like me. I have damaged my bed when I’m literally ROFL, I have broken my chair and made my dog more scared of my laughter than something really scary, like bathing. Yeah!

I laugh like crazy when we watch a show on weekends, and my parents proudly claim that any comic show is not funny without me. And I’m pretty sure that most jokes get funny because of maniacs like me. Well you are welcome!

Then I look around people. People who grew up from being children themselves. Who somewhere in their lives stopped laughing. They now laugh properly, decently(ugh) even. People with their constant attempts to be cool. And I pity them.

I dare you, next time you hear a joke that starts a giggle in your throat, just laugh. Laugh like me, leave your limbs free and let the magic(yeah!) take you over. By the time you are done laughing, your stomach will be aching, you will feel hungry and your bladder will be bursting. And tears will be shed, proving that your eyes still work.

And you will be revitalized.

My laugh is probably the only thing that has not changed. It is there from my childhood and I intend to keep it alive this way. Unadulterated and unbiased.

But, alas not all good things last forever. Now my laughter is becoming strained. When confronted with questions without any seemingly correct answer, question like what do I want to do with my life? How do I make people believe in my when I have doubts? Then there are two options. Cry like a baby, or laugh like a baby.

And I laugh, because crying makes me look weaker. I laugh and I notice hysteria slowly creeping in. I realize what had happened to others and why they have difficulty laughing like I do. Reality came crashing in. And confrontation scattered will. Madness and sadness were only discernible.

And I’m staggered by the question: Will I end up like those who have forgotten how to laugh?

My answer is maniacal laughter. Because the alternative is too terrifying.

Thanks For Reading
Itsmayurremember

To my fellow Commuters


Daily Prompt

(The Kindness of Strangers

When was the last time a stranger did something particularly kind, generous, or selfless for you? Tell us what happened!)

He climbed on to the bus and scanned around for a seat. There was none. He was an old fellow, with stooped posture, few grey hair on his balding scalp and had two bags of grocery in his hands which didn’t look so heavy, but for him the burden looked too much.

Before I could get up and offer my seat to the said elderly some other guy in proximity did. And as the elderly sat down with a rush, and sighed audibly with relief, I saw the other guy smile.

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This act is very common if you are a frequent traveller like me. People offering their seats to old men, old women, female passengers (the sentence is “ladies is there, seat”), and mostly pregnant and mothers with small toddlers.

And this is done in every single compartment, every single bus route. And it is entirely voluntary. (Sometimes though it isn’t as some have to be told to get up.)

And the answering murmured thanks and smiles are exchanged. Always. I have done this. Sometimes while studying in trains I’m offered seats and asked about my course.

These are strangers who do this. Strangers who help, who receive help. They may get off at the same station but they still assist.

This is local travels of Mumbai. Thousands of commuters travel to and fro from college, work. They(myself included) do the same travel every day. Know the tiredness we feel. And along the way they do this.

And it got me thinking why do this? Only then that I realized this is in fact the most basic(smallest) amount of kindness we could do.

Showing kindness to strangers. I realize this that it is only way kindness can be shown. I mean from my examples why are those things done? Nothing is gained.

When you assisting a stranger, you only expect a Thank You. And as it is received there is an automatic smile spreading across your face. You may never see that person again(This is Mumbai, you mostly won’t). But yet you help.

And that is according to me the most artless and selfless form of help. There is expectations, the person is not beholden,  and there is no master plan in it(I’m seeing too many movies to think this way).

And this is what I told my friend the other day, I’m gonna share it here too:
If you want to smile, first make others smile.

A quote from Evan Almighty:

God: How do you change the world?

Evan: One single act of random kindness at a time.

Let’s see what other have written:

http://kurtengel18.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/daily-postthe-kindness-of-strangers/
http://averyessmin.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/the-kindness-of-strangers-mom-shop/
http://yorkhull.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/blown-tyres/
http://jeyyd.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/quick-post/
http://professoradrstilettorockstar.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/just-a-nice-gesture/
http://shetall.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/745/
http://ollienumberseven.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/large-chair-seeks-small-car-for-fun/
http://lovehappynotes.com/2014/05/12/what-a-fool-believes/
http://rustyiam.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/the-strangest-of-kindnesses/
http://lynan.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/angels-without-wings/
http://barbarapyett.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/httpdailypost-wordpress-comdp_promptthe-kindness-of-strangers/
http://quandoporcivolare.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/daily-prompt-stranger-stranger/
mothers
http://omasuino.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/the-umbrella-girl-a-kind-stranger/
http://spiritgrind.com/2014/05/11/i-wonder-if-god-has-a-mother/
http://eastelmhurstagogo.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/good-strangers/
Kindness of Strangers Daily Post
http://c21stguinevere.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/in-response-to-3/
The Kindness of Strangers
The helpfulness of swearing up a storm and using vibrating pills: This week’s weird news around the globe
Kindness of Strangers, Again : Daily Post
http://ithacadreaming.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/the-kindness-of-strangers/
http://vmtranblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/daily-prompt-the-kindness-of-strangers/
http://learningneverstops.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/the-kindness-of-strangers-my-teachers-daily-prompt/
http://kosheradobo.com/2014/05/11/how-where-are-you-from-can-save-a-life/
http://goinroguedotnet.com/2014/05/11/the-kindness-of-strangers/
http://allthingscuteandbeautiful.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/daily-prompt-being-helped/
http://shrineofhecate.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/how-battles-are-won/
http://beingchelle.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/be-kind-its-free/
http://myatheistblog.com/2014/05/11/the-kindness-of-strangers/
http://lynnesartandsoul.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/the-unkindness-of-strangers/
http://myrandomthoughts365.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/the-kindness-of-strangers/
http://aedmonds315dotcom.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/daily-prompt-the-kindness-of-strangers/
http://marthakennedy.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/hide-the-diaphragm-helen/
http://itsmesagar.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/a-stranger-who-changed-my-life/
http://cagedbutterfly1.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/what-kind-of-stranger-are-you/
http://idleandboredtwo.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/kindness-of-strangers-daily-prompt/
http://kevindeisher.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/296-the-kindness-of-strangers/
http://silentlyheardonce.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/snail-mail-surprise-the-kindness-of-strangers/
http://malavika3076.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/help-at-the-price-of-chocolate/
http://emilykarn.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/good-manners/
Daily Prompt: The Kindness of Strangers?
http://babygatesdown.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/happy-mothers-day/
http://jottingsandwritings.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/dailyprompt-kindness-of-strangers/
http://ccchampagne.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/the-kindness-of-strangers-essay/
http://melissaholden.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/the-kindess-of-strangers-daily-prompt/
http://garridon.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/kindness-in-washington-dc-is-an-infrequent-thing/
http://myinvisiblecrown.org/2014/05/11/a-strangers-heart/
http://shameport.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/the-buried-cleaning-lady-at-bamba-mall/
KINDNESS FROM STRANGERS — WHEN IT MATTERS
http://thebohemianrockstarpresents.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/the-kindness-of-strangers/
http://aimanpeer.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/whoa-kindness-no-ways-man/
http://speculativeparadigmshifts.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/943/
http://pippakinclawz.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/the-kindness-of-strangers/
http://asqueezeofbliss.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/that-friendly-piece-of-advise/
http://jaynesdailypost.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/the-kindness-of-strangers/
http://flowersandbreezes.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/the-kindness-of-strangers/
http://agent909.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/the-kindness-of-strangers-faith-in-humanity-restored/
http://cathysikorski.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/what-do-a-pediatrician-and-blanche-dubois-have-in-common/
http://asqueezeofbliss.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/a-chip-on-my-shoulder/
http://cxianliu.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/a-precious-smile/
http://jitterygt.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/11563/
http://tonkadella.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/the-other-way-around/
The Kindness of Strangers
http://risingrave28.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/ludic-memories-simple-things/
http://itsmatthewburgos.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/when-whats-needed-was-a-peso/
http://kate0murray.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/smile/
A Girl Should be 2 Things….
http://sincerelyherz.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/a-proposal-does-not-need-a-ring-fact/
http://sincerelyherz.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/acts-of-kindness/