Ten years into the past

Recently, I read a book called  'What Alice forgot' by Liane Moriarty. The book was a quick and fun read. There was nothing extraordinary about the story, but the concept of the novel stuck in my mind. The female protagonist of the novel forgets ten years of her life in a freak accident. Even though she’s close to forty, she thinks she’s thirty. The worst part is she forgets even her children, and everything looks new to her.

When I read the story, it seemed too-good-to-be-true that someone can change so much in ten years. I laughed it off. But then I began thinking: Is it really possible to change so much in ten years? Is there anything about my present state that would’ve baffled my fifteen-year-old self?

1. It would have shocked me if somebody told my fifteen-year-old self that in ten years I would get a place in the University of my dreams, join a multinational company as a software engineer and that I’d be married to an amazing person (love marriage at that) and have an adorable daughter.

2. My fifteen-year-old self wouldn’t have believed it if I told her that in ten years I’ll be comfortable wearing a little make-up and leaving my hair loose. At that time I had no time even to consider wearing make-up, and I always braided my greasy hair in the same way without even trying for a different hairstyle. I was not an average teenage girl, interested in girly things. I was far busier studying for my future.

3. I wouldn’t have believed that in ten years I’d face some major ups and downs and learn my lessons. It matured me in some ways but there’s still a long way to go. At that time, if I didn’t get expected marks in a weekend test, I used to be crushed. But ten years taught me enough to know that: life has its ups and downs, and it’s not always possible to plan it. If something goes according to your plan, consider yourself lucky, but if something doesn’t, don’t take it to heart. Whatever happens, life moves on. My fifteen-year-old self wouldn’t have understood that.

4. My fifteen-year-old self used to play music all the time and read a little, but in these ten years that’s reversed. Now I listen to music rarely but read a lot.

5. In these ten years I made a lot of new friends whom my fifteen-year-old self wouldn’t even have recognized. At the same time I’m lucky to say that I still have a few childhood friends.

6. I wouldn't have expected that I'd live in so many places. I spent the first sixteen years of  my life in the same place, Rajahmundry. But now I've lived in Hyderabad, Chennai and Seattle and yet to call a place home. 

Well, ten years is definitely a long time to change a person completely. If you find the concept interesting, do grab the book. It’s an engaging read.

How to be happy?

It's quite difficult to define the state of our mind. When we get something we want, a new job, a house, we become happy and when we lose something, we become disappointed. I always imagine the state of mind as a speedometer whose needle usually swings between being content and being disappointed in life.

I always wanted to know how to be happy, not content, which is a deeper form of happiness. How to be just happy, everyday? Before I proceed, let me first clarify why I don't like being content.

Being content, according to me, is a state of everlasting happiness. You have no expectations, no disappointments, no desires and no problems. You love your life as is and are no expecting no more from it. While there huge perks to being content, there is also a minor problem i.e., 'stagnation'. You become 'stagnant', you have no desire for achievement. No, I dislike being content and thereby becoming stagnant.

So, should everyone be disappointed in their lives? Disappointment in life,sometimes, can drive us to achieve something bigger and better. I believe that high-achievers are disappointed with their lives and their achievements, which is why they constantly try to achieve more. Once they become become content, they lose the desire, and there starts their downfall. Being disappointed in life has its perks too, but, sometimes, being deeply disappointed in life can lead to depression.

Coming back to our question, how to be happy, everyday? The key to happiness is to strike a balance between being content and being disappointed in life. That state is being 'not disappointed' but 'not content' either. Since you're not disappointed, you're happy. But since you're not content, there's some desire, which will drive you towards achievement,

In her book The Secret, Rhonda Byrne, the author, advises people to end their day by writing down the list of things they're thankful for. This will definitely help us feel satisfied with what we have now. And then she advises people to write down what they want in future. I believe it's a brilliant idea to help us strike a balance between contentment and disappointment.

The key to happiness is to be satisfied with what we have now, but to have the desire burning within us to achieve something better.

Five things I miss from my pre-mom life

Having a baby is one of the best things that can happen to any woman. But, I have to admit, there were some things I missed from my pre-mom life.

1. Waking up whenever I want 

I didn't know that waking-up- whenever-I-want would become a thing of the past. Now-a-days my daughter wakes up first, hits me on my face, waking me up, and gives me a dazzling smile, which makes my day. Still... It is her decision, not mine, when the day should begin. The same goes for sleeping too.

2. Eating leisurely

The moment I sit down to eat, she takes it as a cue and begins crying for me. I hurriedly gobble the food down, pick her up, and as usual, she starts ignoring me.

3. Going out without having to pack

Before having a baby, if we had to go out for lunch or dinner, we would decide on the place at the last minute and set off. Now, it’s a usually a big task that involves choosing a kid friendly place (read which has high chairs, open space, and friendly waiters) , packing the diaper bag (which contains extra diapers, extra wipes, extra food, extra clothes), dressing my daughter in nice clothes, and setting off only in a car even if the restaurant is at the corner. Even then we have to come back before it is bed time of the kid.

4. Watching a movie

May be I should write watching a movie leisurely, because now I’m watching movies atleast. But it’s more like stealing glances at the big screen while trying to hold down a screaming toddler.

5. Being ambitious about a career

Not that I was too ambitious before having a baby, but the thought of a high-flying career while looking after a toddler simply scares me now. Not everyone feels like that, obviously, but I’m sure women do have a tough time balancing work and life especially after having a baby.

There are lot of other things that change too, like the constant worry about her health, about the milestones she has to reach, and about her food. It’s like a separate thread runs in my mind— the child thread.

Isn't it amazing, how much our life changes after having a baby? What are the things that changed in you after becoming a mother?

Book Review: Smashed by Arul Sirpy

You know what they say about 'Never judge a book by it's cover.' Even though the cover of this book looks simple, the plot of the book is not. It's about three boys, a tea shop, a crow, a politician and some other people; revealing anything beyond that would amount to revealing the story so I'm stopping here.

The plot unfolds slowly, in bits and pieces, introducing a lot of characters in the first few chapters (which initially creates a confusion). But in the later part of the book the plot thickens, bridging the gaps and ends up neatly without any loose ends. Kudos to the author.

The best parts about the books are generous doses of dry humor reminding me of Wodehouse's books, brilliant descriptions of Chennai, and mouth watering descriptions of food. Having stayed in Chennai for a while, I could relate to some places. And the book left me nostalgic. If I really have to complain, I'd only say there were too many characters and coincidences. It's brilliant that the author tied them all up neatly in the end.

Pick it up, you won't regret it! The humor is so good it's hard to believe this is the debut book of the author. My husband looked at me weirdly as I burst out laughing at some parts. The book is long, but is a page-turner and kept me hooked till the end. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who loves reading humor.

My rating 4/5.

When Only Love Remains : Afterthoughts

I have an annoying habit of feeling characters of a book as real. After reading a book, they stay with me for a long time even after finishing the book. Usually some thought or character in the book influences me in a strong way. In this series titled ‘After thoughts’ I'm trying to include the afterthoughts after reading books.

In this book “When only love remains” by Durjoy Datta, the author wrote an awesome passage “Over these conversations with herself, she has realized why people believe in a soul. It’s because they have to for they have no other choice. It’s hard to bear that all the conversations, all the memories you had with your parents, with your sisters, with the person you loved were burnt or buried, snuffed out of life.”

Is soul just a concept we invented so that we could move on easily? Yes, it’s true, letting go of a person is never easy. It’s hard to believe that they’re not missing us the way we’re missing them or that they’ve moved on while we’re still stuck on earth. The idea that they’re still around us, invisible, and feeling the same pain we’re feeling is a most comfortable thought. I’d rather believe in a soul than believe that a person is just a pile of ashes after death. Kudos to the author, for expressing it so beautifully.