I have shouted from rooftops that 2015 has been a crappy year. And why not? It was a disappointments galore in every aspect – health, career, home, family, both immediate and extended. Loss of loved ones, the shocking passing away of a one time close friend. But amidst the chaos that ensued in 2015, increasing by shocking amounts every month, often made more intense by frequent bouts of homesickness and restlessness about the fact that we were, in fact, “NRIs” now, there were also streaks of silver lining. Often, they were hard to find. But they were there in their full glory once I agreed to look at them. If there ever has been a year that needed a year in review post, it was 2015. So a review post is what you will get.
Recognising the excesses even as I was indulging in them. Once you have firmly set foot in your 30s and age begins to show in the strangest ways possible, the one thing that you begin to see with crystal clarity is all the excess. But it is easy to cut back when you do. For the longest time, all I have done is give in to every sugar craving, eaten the worst, most unhealthy forms of good green food, slept late, woken up early, and spent every waking minute either working or complaining about it or indulging because hey, isn’t THAT why you earn? Turns out, it’s not. While I will still maintain that I am as low maintainance as they come, the concept of “lifestyle” totally lost on me, I do indulge in my own excesses. 2015 had me questioning a lot more, and way more often. And I am going into 2016 with a stronger resolve to adopt a more sustainable life. One that balances the excesses of living far away from your roots and life as you were taught to live. Recently when I was speaking to mum about this, she very matter-of-factly said “you folks just find complicated words to do things the way they were meant to be done”. And boy, she is right! I better realise that this is not a life-changing moment. It’s just about finding the energy and prioritising enough to be able to think about the choices I am making. Simple things, like Kit Kat or a slice of pineapple. They are both sweet, you know?
2015 was also a year of uncharacteristic impulse, travel wise. I have written all about it already. And it has been amazing. Exhausting but man, the experiences. Of landing in strange lands every few days, of mostly friendly people, the beautifully unfamiliar food and sights and accents. Of going around the block of cliches five times a day and loving every bit of it. And then leaving the roads taken and taking off on what the Swiss call “wanderwegs”. Paths for everyone but people rarely take it. And oh, the irony, the familiarity, the sheer timing.. Of cobbled streets, dark fairy tales, slices of history with a new world order thrown in for good measure. The chaos of border crossing to developing lands unlike the sterile drive through experience when you go to Singapore by road. The unending roads. The Himalayas and Sikkim. The complete “stranger-ness” in a place I called home. These experiences. And realizing that travel writing cannot be a profession of choice for me because I am incapable of writing about places factually. All I write are garbled exclamations about what these places make me feel. I don’t/ can’t do justice to it because the art is lost on me. I guess I can live with that? Or I could find out.. I know I want to.
More on priorities. Like really thinking about whether not wanting to be an NRI was just a churlish reaction to the inconveniences of this life or if it was something we really, truly wanted. We did this for the experience and that’s what we got. Bagfuls, sleepless night fulls of them. Weighing pros and cons, realigning expectations and opening up to things we can and cannot do without, thinking about whether this is really as different as I am making it out to be. The soul stirring things about living abroad do go away when you let them – I realized that. And that if I needed a tunnel vision, easy to find as it is in a “DINK household” in India, to go through life there, there was no reason to remember that life with rose tinted glasses. The media, the social media outrage, of unnecessary arguments and angst, the churlishness in political affiliations. I don’t need them. And in a place that’s not home and not something I feel that emotionally connected to, it is easy to not be affected. When the same things happen in India, it’s another story. The labels, NRI and DINK topping the list, are just that. Mere, meaningless labels.
I realized that a lot of my discontentment rooted from spreading myself too thin as someone who “wants it all”. And when I say all, I don’t mean a seat in the boardroom and two adorable children. I mean just wanting to pursue interests and necessities in equal amounts. Travel, family, me-time, planning for the future, finding out what I want, that odd thing called career, it all seemed important to me. And I don’t seem to be doing anything too well! And I can, because I am good, and fast. So why this discontentment? It’s probably not the lack of time. It’s probably just the lack of flexibility. I realize that I was indeed taking the easy way out, becoming “delighted” about being busy doing things that don’t necessarily interest me. I am not focusing on parts that I really want to pay attention to and instead, I am getting involved in the peripherals and shenanigans that become more important as you move higher in the food chain – if you want to, that is. This inability to chop off, slice, keep the good parts and throw the rest, metaphorically, is what’s been making me discontent. Not unhappy, just very queasy. I haven’t really tested yet if I can find some fulfillment in de-cluttering a little, finding myself more time to do the things I really want to instead of letting someone else make those decisions for me in the form of annual and casual leaves, appraisals, policies and strategies, appeasement, unnecessary clutter, empty words, and other such banalities. I was always one for charting my own path and if it meant trade offs, then so be it. What is stopping me now and am I being too romantic about this whole thing? I don’t know but we’ll find out, soon as hell! :)
I am ending my year with a strange sense of accomplishment at just having arrived at the finishing line without any major damage to anyone :p Yes, I have been angry. Disappointed. But I can’t not see that I have gained more perspective this last year. On life, excesses, priorities, family, and the things I really want. Any year that leaves you with a series of epiphanies and learnings is anything but bad, no? If this is what they call growing up, then Monica was right as hell. Welcome to adulthood. It sucks but you’ll love it!
On to 2016, hoping for a plate more full of contentment and not just “busy-ness”. To healing and detoxing and slicing up the good parts and allocating far more mind space to them than to the shenanigans that surround them. And to hopefully, finding a little more stillness.
Have a good one, you guys!