September 6, 2014

Of birthdays, marriage, and turning 28

I don’t like my birthday. I always get depressed around the time. My thoughts range from “I’m getting older, not younger. What’s there to be happy about?” to “I am a year older and I haven’t done anything significant in my life. And people want a treat for that. Rubbish.” A birthday is usually more of a celebration for the people around you than for yourself because you are kind of obligated to take them out for lunch or dinner. And this is especially true when you are working. Your colleagues won't buy you a present, but they will expect you to treat them. They get you a cake, sure, but there again, who is the cake really for? You or for the rest of the team?

I never had such an aversion towards birthdays when I was younger. I used to in fact look forward to it. Getting older was an exciting concept, until I actually did get older. I couldn't wait to be a teenager, because aren't teens supposed to be like the coolest phase ever? I was dying to turn 20, because that was like a window to better opportunities, independence. A couple of years into my twenties I realised that with opportunities and independence also come expectations and responsibilities. And that's when my birthday stopped being fun for me anymore. Now when my birthday is around the corner, I feel a solid weight in my stomach and a dull thump in my heart, as though something bad is going to happen.

A few days before my birthday last year, the first one since getting married (and I mention this specifically because it holds relevance to what I'm about to say next), everyone was like, "So, first birthday right? What plans?" And I, first genuinely nonplussed, then pissed, answered "What do you mean first? I'm 27, not 1". "Ya, but first one after getting married right. So that's different". "I'm sorry, but how is it different? Just because I'm married now, does it make the preceding 27 years of my life and the birthdays obsolete?" That my  husband got me a voucher for a tattoo and took me out for dinner is a different matter. Which I totally appreciate. I finally got myself inked in February this year.

Another conversation with ex-colleagues last year went something like this:-
Them: So Divya, your birthday is coming up no?
Me (with zero excitement): Ya, whatever.
Them: Why are you not excited?
Me: What's there to be excited about? I'm a year older and have nothing to show for it. I have done absolutely nothing significant in my life.
Them: What do you mean, nothing significant? You got married, right?

:/

I mean, what can you even say to such people? Don't get me wrong, I love my husband. But I don't think getting married was an achievement. It was something that had to happen as a natural progression in life, so it did. It had nothing to do with my capabilities or my talents (although, the whacky profile that I wrote on the
matrimonial site did help me in finding a suitable partner). It was a significant life event, sure, but it was not something that I did because I was good at it. Because, let me be honest, being a good wife doesn't come naturally to me. I'm not unselfish, I'm not so noble that I will put my husband's needs over mine, I'm unreasonable when I want my way, I don't cook everyday, three times a day for my husband, sometimes, at the end of a long day at office, all I want to do is sit and watch sitcom reruns with a glass of wine and Dragon Chicken from Wonton; the clothes are not always washed in time, and my family, the one that has looked after me and stood by me all these years continues to be my top priority, and that will never change. But then again, who decides what the qualifiers of a "good wife" are, right? Because let's face it, no matter how much you do, there will always be a few people who will pronounce you a bad wife just because you don't wear sindoor or thaali, or order in dinner.  

The last one year has been quite eventful, though. I switched jobs after only four months at my previous company. I couldn't wait to get out of there. I got a job that I wanted, and I've been having a whale of a time there. I work crazy hours, but I love it. You know that sleep you get at the end of a long, satisfying day of work? Bliss, right? Of course, it  comes with its tensions, and me being me, obsesses over every tiny thing. But I am lucky to have got a wonderful boss and team. And I'm doing well there *touchwood*

April 9, the day I completed my probation and got confirmed, was the day my little niece came into the world. Mrinalini - a.k.a Millie, Millie Mouse, Milsoo, Milsa, Millieboo, Millsie, Soudamini, Pankajam and whatever else catches my sister's and my fancy - is a little ray of sunshine. She is gorgeous and is the centre of our universe as of now. A precious little child.

Soon after that, I participated in an inter-corporate cultural fest. I was part of the group dance team. We cleared the prelims but could not win in the finals. Considering that this was the first time ever we were participating, we put up a commendable  show. It was a rigorous three weeks. I would put in 8.5-9 hours of work, and then two hours of solid practise. By the time I would get home by 11, I'll be ready to just fall into bed. As strenuous as it was, it was an exhilarating experience, plus it helped me lose some weight.

August by far has been the most interesting month this year. It started off with the finals of the dance competition. The weekend of August 15, we headed to Pondicherry. And I did my first ever scuba dive. I honestly cannot put into words how amazing that was. I have claustrophobia, so I tend to panic when I go underwater. Ironically, I love water sports. I get scared initially, but  I  go anyway. And every time I get dunked into the water, I think that I'm about to die. Strangely enough, it's whenever I've felt like I'm about to die that I've felt the most alive. Like when I went river rafting in Coorg and the raftsman pushed me into the water (for fun, of course, because I said something cheeky to him), which he later told us was 80 feet deep. Of course, I was wearing a life jacket, but when you're pushed into the water in the middle of a river (the monsoon was in all its glory that time around in Coorg), your life tends to flash in front of your eyes.

Anyway, the dive. So they took us about five kilometres into the ocean, fitted us with the tank, mask, fins and other gear, and then splash! The beginners are to hold on to a rope attached to the boat, called descent line, at all times with one hand. As we go down, we need to keep equalizing so that the pressure difference doesn't hurt our ears. And it WILL hurt. Badly. Even though you have the regulator in your mouth, you will try to breathe through your nose and when you realise you can't, you will panic. At least I did. But after a few minutes, you'll calm down. And you know what will calm you down? No, not the assurance that the diving instructor is there with you all the time. Not the safe support of the descent line. Not even the knowledge that one's body is buoyant by nature and can float in water. No. What will calm you is the silence. Ming-fucking-blowing. All you can hear down there is the sound of bubbles as you breathe in and breathe out. Nothing else. And it is so incredibly soothing. Eerie, if you are the kind who can't take that silence. We went about 13-14 meters deep and saw many schools of small fish. Unfortunately, the water wasn't very clear, so we couldn't see a great deal. And as luck would have it, my mask filled up with water completely and I couldn't see anything, so I had to spend a good amount of time clearing it (on a side note, I have renewed respect for contact lenses). The dive lasted about 30 minutes, but it felt like 10, honestly. I thoroughly enjoyed the boat ride to and from the dive spot. Fortunately, I don't get sea-sick (touchwood touchwood). On the return ride, as we saw the harbour approaching, the first thing that crossed my mind was "Shucks, back to reality". For about five hours, we were cut off from the mainland, no mobile phones, no internet, no books, no laptops, no office. And hardly any conversations. A boat ride into the ocean is hardly the place where you feel the need to make idle chit chat. It was a wonderful weekend; not even the terribly humid weather or the horrible hotel dampened our spirits. And if you like  to eat, Pondi is your place. Bloody expensive, but yummy food.

The following weekend, I participated in my first ever marathon - the annual Terry Fox run. Except, I walked the 6 kilometers. I'm not a runner. So I half-ran half-walked. I am glad I completed it, even though 6 kms is hardly a distance. I hope to do more.

Just when things were getting back to routine, S fell ill. Nothing serious, but we were in the hospital for five days. We're still here, waiting for the discharge papers to come as I write this.

So yes, it's been an eventful year from when I turned 27. Highs, lows, new experiences, bouts of moodiness, a new addition to our family (one who lights up our days with just a smile)... The only thing that hasn't happened is writing. Let's not dwell much upon that for now. As my birthday approaches, the weight in my stomach seems lighter and the thumping in my heart is considerably more mellow. I still feel I haven't done anything significant in my life, but last month, I made the first step towards making a difference in somebody else's. I started sponsoring a child, something I'd been wanting to do for a long time, but didn't know the avenues to do so. It's just been two months, and it's not a huge amount, but it is something. And I registered to be an organ donor. I'm not putting this up here because I want any praises. I'm saying it because I wanted to share the joy with you. When I got the sponsorship kit from the organization with a photo of the child I'm sponsoring, my eyes welled up. To be honest, I don't even  know how much of a difference I will make in his life. I don't even know how much of the money I'm paying will even be utilized for his benefit. But I feel like I'm finally doing something worthwhile with my money.

Turning 28 hasn't been so bad, after all.

*If you managed to read the whole post, thank you for your patience. This is what happens when I don't write very often. I tend to ramble endlessly. 

20 comments:

  1. After reading the first sentence - and seeing that the post was rather long - I thought of asking: are you sure you're a Virgo? Glad, that I read on!

    The fluency of your posts makes them eminently readable. This was no different and I say that with a scintilla of envy, and a good deal of joy.

    And my birthday wishes to you (advanced/belated, as the case may be)!



    ReplyDelete
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    1. ....And yours is the first comment again!

      Thank you for the wishes. Birthday was on the 12th. :)

      Delete
    2. I'll try to wait next time, if impatience is indeed what your comment admonishes against. :D

      Delete
  2. I feel you. Totally. The only time I remember being excited about my birthday was when I was ten. And then, it was just shit. Nothing went well during that time of the year, up till now. A miserable day for me that is. And yeah, haven't done anything significant in my life yet. Somehow I will, once I figure my life out. Thank you for the post. You always manage to help me in some ways. Thank you again. =)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Aww thanks. :)

      You know what I've realised? We obsess so much about 'figuring out life" and "what are we doing" etc., that we honestly forget to enjoy the moment. All that stuff they say about stopping and smelling the rose? It's true. So relax... :) Life will figure itself out.

      Delete
  3. I get you and I was so awed by the sea just by a catamaran ride into the ocean and some superficial jumping into the sea, I can imagine how scuba diving would be. I am yet to experience it though.

    And can you tell me how you did the organ donation? Because I have been trying to find out ever since my last birthday. I am clueless about the process.

    Sponsoring a child, I totally agree. The feeling is incredible, isn't it? Ironically, in this world which is being considered so selfish, the feeling that you get when you change someone's life for the better is inexplicable. Or is that what makes us selfish again?

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    1. You MUST do scuba diving It's amazing.

      I registered for organ donation via a foundation called Mohan Foundation. Check out their website.

      Maybe it does make us selfish. But if that selfishness can benefit someone else, isn't it worth it?

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  4. Happy birthday. Hope the years to come are always as eventful as it was the past year. Cheers. :-)

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  5. Yeah. Birthdays are not fun anymore. And for me, my son's birthday comes a week before mine, which is usually celebrated with much love and pampering..and after a week we'd be still recovering from his party hangover and so I'm like YEAH WHATEVER. I completely understand word by word what you said about birthday .

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    1. Kids birthday parties can be really exhausting!

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  6. Happy Birthday, Spiff! I could so relate to this post. I couldn't wait for my birthdays when I was younger. But now, I have actually started dreading the extra year that keeps adding to my age. Scuba diving is something which I've wanted to do. Shall definitely give it a try. Do blog more, please. You are truly gifted.

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  7. Becoming an organ donor is on my todo list for quite sometime. It's great to know you already registered yourself. Even I am never excited about turning older. :)

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    1. There are many foundations that facilitate organ donation. You can check online. It's a really simple process. :)

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  8. Hey Divya, belated birthday wishes! :)
    That definitely sounds like an eventful year. I keep checking your blog from time to time but hadn't seen posts lately, except the book reviews. Just checked randomly and this is what I see. Pleased to know that you are doing well. And congratulations on being an aunt. Most kickass feeling in the world, I know. :) Take care and keep smiling!

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    1. Thanks! :)

      Definitely a kickass feeling. How's your nephew doing? :)

      Delete
  9. I have done absolutely nothing significant in my life.
    Them: What do you mean, nothing significant? You got married, right?

    This made me laugh out loud!! Belated birthday wishes!

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  10. The post is rocking as usual.. And yes even I have been wanting to such philanthropy.. Please let me know the details :)..

    ReplyDelete

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