Moving To A New Address: 2018

In 3 days we will finish yet another cycle around the sun. From 2017, we will move to 2018. Sigh… The journey was quite long, wasn’t it? It took 365 days that’s 8760 hours which is 525600 minutes. The more I microscope it, the more it feels like space travel. But it wasn’t, in fact, I wonder how many times this year I took the time out to look up and adore the beauty of stars and enormous empty space.

Or maybe I did. I did look up every time I thought I couldn’t deal with this life anymore. I’d look up and heave out a sigh as if I was moving all my problems to the gigantic, enormous, infinite empty space up there. Before looking back down, I’d always give a light smile and fool myself into believing that all the worries and problems were tucked away somewhere next to the stars. It gave the cynic in me a sad hope that even the darkest empty space can look pretty.

I had quite a journey this year that started at the breathtakingly beautiful Red Sea in Dahab. I guess I’ll end this year’s cycle by the Arabian Sea in Mumbai. Just for the cheap thrill of completing a full circle across two continents of the world. I spent the first day of 2017 crying through most of the afternoon, starving through most of the evening, and feeling chilly through most of the night. It sure as hell turned out to be a good demo for the upcoming year.

Honestly, first few months were difficult and depressing, but then I slowly started meeting people who showed more faith in me than I did in myself. Some gave me work, some took me to random food dates, some became my movie buds, some were just strangers restoring my faith in humanity, some gave me the confidence to buy the ticket and take the ride, and some others assured me that they always have my back.

Since the inception of this year, I learnt one recurring lesson – the importance of being solo; of being emotionally independent; of being happy with my own company and of not feeling the need to rely on anybody. Of course, I do greatly rely on my family both emotionally and financially; a handful of friends, emotionally. But I finally feel like I’m over the need of seeking validation and having a shoulder to dump my problems on. I don’t feel the need to constantly have someone to say I love you every time I have a dull day. I don’t need it, but do I want it? Sure! It does feel nice to have a pair of arms to run into every once in a while, right? But am I desperately looking for someone and trying to fit an Aman, Akhbar, or Anthony in the equation? Nope!

I’ve finally learnt to wait and let things unfold in their due course. I guess the wisdom came with a lot of experience, both ugly and pretty. To enter 2018 also means to complete 25 years of my life. That’s more than a quarter of my life considering that my lifespan is about 70 years. Have I made enough mistakes, taken enough chances, embarrassed myself in front of my parents to a no returning point, isolated myself enough, hung out in huge groups enough, partied enough and stayed alone in the comforts of my bed enough? Have I hated on people enough and loved some more than enough? Have I made enough new friends and enemies all in this one year? Hell yeah! Do I regret a single minute of it? Hell no! I wouldn’t do my life any other way if I had the chance to redo my life. The thought of being 25 makes me feel at my peak and mellow, both at the same time.

It’s true; years are passing by in a jiffy. In no time I’ll just be hoary and lose my peak. That kind of saddens me. Not because I forever want to look hot and stunning (I wouldn’t mind) but because I believe it’s time I say goodbye to a phase where mistakes were easily excused, and being naive was understood. I’m guessing being 25 is saying hello to a life where I am more decisive, and better than half decent at things as basic as being a good host, a better cook, a better daughter, sister, friend, and hopefully someone’s lover. It’s time I seriously look into how I’m being paid for my hard work, both financially and emotionally. Maybe I’m making a big deal by assuming how 25 and hereon should be, but I guess that’s just how I’d like my henceforth to be.

I never live up to my resolutions. Hell! I wonder who does, anyway! Ideally, I was supposed to write my first book in 2017, I haven’t even gone past the index yet. So I have no big plans for next year, just positive hope that it’ll turn out to be better than this year. Sure I don’t mind the ups and downs, but I hope I’ll be a better person than I was this year; A better person to myself first, and then to the rest of the world.

I hope I do better with my confidence issues, the incredible not-keeping-in-touch talent and my reluctance with being social every once in a while. Oh! Not to forget working on my unfit body that could totally use some exercise, and the spirit to appreciate myself more and be more optimistic about this life. I spent a lot of time in my company this year, and that helped me realise my priorities. So I hope this time by the end of 2018, I’ll be writing a piece about being a confident kickass chica that men and women are drooling over. JK. Maybe not.

And just like that, I believe I’m ready to move on to my new address. See you in phase two and on the hours of 2018!

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It’s Time! Secularism Should Become An Official Religion

You know what’s the best part about travelling and exploring the world? If you have travelled then you do, and those of you who haven’t, this one is especially for you.

I’m afraid what I’m about to tell you might just shatter your feelings but No! The best part about travelling is not finding Instragram worthy posts. It’s okay; take a moment to let that sink in.

Now that we got this out of our way, let’s hop on to the real deal. So I was born in Palghar, a small village on the outskirts of Mumbai. Fortunately I was only born there; my parents raised me in a popular suburb of Mumbai. I said fortunately, because I take pride in the fact that I come from THE cosmopolitan city of India. I went to a convent school and my first two friends at school were Muslim, and Parsi. I was constantly surrounded with classmates from different religions and backgrounds.

I grew up praying to Jesus every morning, then praying to Ganpati Bapa every evening while simultaneously hearing the Adhan calls. Every year I celebrate Diwali, Christmas, and Eid. Honestly, the latter is just about eating Biryani and Sheer Khurma.

As I grew through my teenage years and entered the young adult phase, my personal life complications kept me so occupied that I forgot to address God, religions, and form an opinion on the same. All these things just existed in the background. On the foreground however, my belief in God kept decreasing. I didn’t pray daily, I didn’t visit temples and I became agnostic. I couldn’t decide whether God existed or didn’t. I didn’t even try to understand Hinduism, let alone our fellow religions and their significance. By 23 I had quite a handful of friends but they all were Hindus, maybe one or two Christians. Remember my Parsi and Muslim friends from school? Well, over the period of time I lost touch with them too.

I was quite indifferent towards any religion. In fact I even occasionally blamed people’s annoying behaviours on their religions/castes. I did that because their stupidity would fit perfectly in all the stereotypes I had heard about all the castes and religions. Heard… not experienced.

To be honest I had become too lazy to care and understand why the world was divided based on their faith in God, why people were at war, and why were religions a defining factor. Until one day when I magically and quite unexpectedly landed in an African Muslim country. How and why was it magical and unexpected? That is a story for later. Today, I’ve sat down to write about what my time in Egypt, and travelling across the country taught me on a deeper level.

I met people from all across the globe who’d also come to Egypt to work and travel. My friends are from Brazil, Georgia, Tunisia, Columbia, Germany, Mexico, Kyrgystan, Spain, Jordan, and Canada. I lived with a few of them and we exchanged our ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and learning. However, three months out of the four, I lived with a bunch of Egyptian girls; A bunch of Egyptian girls… that’s a bunch of Arabic Muslim girls. That’s a bunch of girls who wore veils every time they stepped out of the house, and read Quran five times a day.

To be honest, before I flew to Egypt, I had inhibitions about Muslims. No offence, and nothing personal but the fear media, and society had ingrained in me, led me to believe it’s a territory I wouldn’t dare to explore. I was better off living in the dark, believing what I was told by filtered sources. And then there I was, willingly moving in with these wonderful girls.

Honestly, the most comfortable I felt throughout my time there was with my Arabic Egyptian friends. I could connect with them without even understanding their language. We ate the same food, lived in the same house, used the same washrooms, and slept in the same bedrooms. We had similar insecurities, fears, and worries. Our core values were the same. Our parents taught us to not disrespect people, to be compassionate, honest, caring, independent, bold, smart, value education, build careers, and not just have opinions but also voice them. Through my Egyptians friends I made some more Egyptian friends, and by the end of my stay I had more Egyptian friends than I have Indian friends.

They told me about Allah, the teachings of Quran, why they wore veils, why was fasting so important during Ramadan, and how was praying five times a day changing their lives. By now I know as much about Islam as I know about Hinduism and Christianity. I learnt a lot of life lessons in those four months; it wasn’t all flowers and rainbows but I’d still without a doubt say it was the best time of my life.

This time for the first time during Ramadan, I was more aware of why half the world was strictly fasting during the day. I ate the delicious Iftari with a sense of familiarity of where it was coming from. I’m still an agnostic, but only this time I am more aware of different religions and have finally formed my personal opinions.

For a change, after a long time in the midst of all the hullabaloo of my city, I paid close attention to the call of Adhan. It took me back to the memories of the Adhan I heard five times daily while travelling across Egypt.

So going back to the beginning, the best part about travelling is (without a doubt) realizing the fact that irrespective of our faiths, we’re all just humans, after all.

P.S. Now you know how Adhan called out to the writer in me and awoke the slumber of my blog.

P.P.S. Penning down this post has honestly been quite difficult because of the constant recurring of words like Religions, Castes, Hindus, Muslims, Christians etc. I strongly feel if only the world was a secular place?

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