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NIDIA 24: Thirty years and then that one day..

When: 1 AM,October 28th, 2017

Where: Aboard AA 2311

My Uber driver today (from the hotel to airport) was a former professional boxer who proudly told me he was a first-generation immigrant and he loves coaching young kids. There are times in life when you start talking to strangers (in buses and airports) and realize you agree with some of their opinions about life. J is one of those people from my life. J kept talking and I suddenly felt an incomplete circle of thoughts in my brain complete itself.

Today it is 31 years since I was blessed to be born into this beautiful world. As I sit and type these words out thousands of feet from above the earth, I remember J and another conversation from earlier today that pushed me out of my slumber as a NIDIA. Also here I want to tell you why this post is very important for me to write. For several weeks now, battling through a personal crisis, I have stayed away from talking to every good friend I had (like literally. If you know me, and then I tell you I have become a silent person, that can tell you volumes I guess). I showed up for family events because family is one thing that grounds me and gives me the hope to keep moving ahead in life. Sometimes it is blood related, sometimes it is not. And it is hard to stay sad for a really long time when you have a family that will not quit until they see you laugh a lot. You take advantage of that blessing and hang in there so that you can preserve that humane side in you to pay it forward. It has now come to a point where I am overwhelmed by the concerned messages I receive from people everywhere and all that I do is flip through them not knowing what to say. So this communication is very important for me to tell you all that I am okay and am recovering.

Several weeks back, at work, I was assigned the task to read a book that one of the professors I work for had authored. I was to help create supporting imagery for a research project presentation. Click here if you wonder what I do at work.  I remember that week of the assignment. I had walked into my work supervisor’s room several times that week expressing my disbelief on how much that book’s content was making me uncomfortable and unhappy. What no one knew was that assignment made me sick in my stomach. It was hard to be reading the book and not connecting with it multiple times.  What no on knows is that I cried multiple times that week because of everything I read in it. You may be wondering, “Well wait, you call yourself a non-immigrant Padmini, this book is on immigrants! Not adding up?!”

When you live thousands of miles away from the home in a place where every day, apart from studying, working, staying healthy, a considerable amount of effort also goes into ‘fitting in’, you have to be careful. Careful to not let the process get to your nerves. Careful to not let someone tell you that you are not good enough to be among them. Reading Dr. Stewart’s book made me realize that no matter how much I want to deny it, I have lived some parts of those lives described in that book. I have struggled through some of those challenges. I have undergone similar micro-traumas like those immigrant students did in their lives. And over the time, they have only accumulated onto my mind. And my struggle was to keep going no matter what – to not let the dream die. There are some people in my life currently who are championing for me to gather my strength and nerves to move forward in my life. But mental health is complicated. In a common man’s language, broken spirit is hard to heal. No matter how best it can be restored, will a broken porcelain dish pieced together by the best expert in the world be the same as the one that has never been broken? Or as some may argue, will the viewer’s perspective decide if the patches make the mended one even more beautiful? Regardless of the point of view whatsoever, the key questions to ask for me are:

Do we have those best technicians available to us for mental health?

What is the best glue to piece a broken spirit together?

C, I know you told this to me before. But today, when I heard the same analogy from another woman, I felt a sense of calm in my heart.

Would just one average intensity poke on someone’s shoulder hurt the same as hundreds of pokes at the same spot on the shoulder for a really long period of time? If a person with Spinal Cord Injury came to you, what would you say to them? Would you talk to them the way you are talking to yourself? Think about it, would you be so unkind to them as you are being to yourself? Oh, or is it because their pain is visible and yours is not visible to the eye?

As someone told me earlier this week, “Sri, you do you first!”  Seldom will we have an opportunity to sit across the table from leaders who will look you in the eye and say that to you. You take care of yourself first and then worry about the rest. I remember them also telling me this. “Sri, if you take all the inner dialogue that you have and make it into a person and let them stand beside you, you wouldn’t be able to stand that person for one moment. We need to teach ourselves when to not hear to it.” This is the most profound sentence I have heard in the last sixty days of my life. This birthday, yet another blessed day when I got to be with my family, I made a decision to be kind and compassionate to myself first. And that also I will seek help as much as I need and won’t shame myself for asking help. I wrote this post for many reasons. Some of them are:

  • I am okay and I am keeping to myself. One of these days, I hope to find the glue that will fix the broken porcelain that I am today.
  • I have talked to many of my friends over the years who discussed with me the shaming that surrounds taking time to heal (I know everyone doesn’t have that option but for ones who have the privilege, don’t disregard it. Use it and help someone because it makes you stronger). Especially when you are on track to achieve a ‘goal’. I want to let everyone reading this to know that we cannot shame/silence the help seekers. Nor can we say that seeking the help of a psychologist is a sign of weakness. It is a science and like any profession, there are greatly knowledgeable people working in the field and then there are the others. So educating ourselves about it before shaming someone seeking help is important.
  • We cannot normalize a person’s suffering as a process of toughening them up for life. If I have a rupee every time I heard this sentence in my 8-full time years as a student, I would not have needed a humongous education loan from SBI.
  • We cannot negate or devalue a person’s human experience because they have put up a brave and dignified presence always. I write this point particularly because in the last sixty days I had people say to me things like, “Oh! You are so successful, you are so capable. You are such an achiever!” Some of them may have some truth to it. The fact is, I am not. Keeping in line with my desire to share only positive stories or life lessons on this blog, I never wrote about the experiences that have severely challenged me as a non-immigrant in this country. The experiences that made me feel very low and worthless. Disregarding the pain of being treated like that is what led me where I am today. Also I wrote this post because my mom says if in her younger days she had a way to express her views like this, she would have shared her life lessons with more people around her. She says when I can write my thoughts down, I should put them to good use.

Thousand miles away from where I call home, I found comfort in the questions that two women asked me about who I am ( I guess that is why I am drawn to qualitative research and interviews. The beauty of this form of research is: within its principles, every voice counts, every story matters). While there are many loved ones that care for me, pray for me and have positive thoughts for me everyday, meeting these champions made me realize that I lack compassion for myself. So as I turn 31 and am trying to bounce back from this crisis, I want to request all of you who read this to:

Be respectful of any pain you face in life. Don’t tell yourself it is okay to get a ‘little’ hurt in the process. No hurt/pain is little. It only keeps layering more pain onto itself. That is the complexity that surrounds our human minds.

No goal/desire in life should take you to the point of choosing between loved ones that care for you and success that may kill your inner joy (that success becomes pointless if you become a mean person in that process).

It is okay not to be able to fit in everywhere we go.

You do not know what great hope and joy meeting you brought to my life C & K! To keeping the promises and making every day count with self-care and compassion for myself. Thank you for the laughs and sharing your stories.

Karin Korb on the left in a black top, Padmini in the center wearing a  white Kashmiri kurti with colorful embroidery and Candace on the right wearing an elephant grey t-shirt. All the three women are smiling their hearts out while looking into the photograph. In the background is an open air drinks bar at a hotel with two uniformed bartenders on scene.

Note: To all the junglees of my life who will text me jokes about the porcelain dish comparisons, I will personally come to beat y’all up 🙂 Please don’t! Is emotional post pe kachra math karo kameeno *hugs*

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Pieces of Peace

Where & When?
Cubbon Park, Bengaluru,2009.

It’s been a day since I posted a picture with two lines on peace. But for almost 24 hours I have been looking for a right opening line for this article.Now I am at this place where I am surrounded by people from all walks of life and I hear a multitude of conversations.

One conversation in particular has motivated me to start and finish this article I was planning to post.
There are so many people in the world today who are so distressed about life/career/relationships/financial crises. I often wish there is a magic wand to help them find peace. Well! I know it is foolish to want a magic wand for peace.

Life has taught me this about peace:

Comparison is the worst enemy for any human’s mental peace
Success is relative
And discussing and debating about ‘people’ is the lowest part of a person’s intellectual life.

(Intellectual life in my dictionary means the part of your life when you engage your intellect to work )

As a trained health care professional, I am particularly surprised when people ‘pay’ to start looking for peace.
Yeah! I know you are starting to get a list of organisations and companies that make money on selling common sense to people. 🙂 I won’t list them.Like always, the same rule of anonymity I follow.No names please.

It is human to err and it is absolutely human to keep making errors till you correct yourself one fine day.
What results in loss of peace at any stage of adult human life is when you begin the analysis of those errors.According to me,a majority of people who never care to analyse the errors in their life are the ones who are living mediocre. It is because I see that they affect other people’s lives with their errors.It is not wrong to analyse an error. But what variables you choose to include in that analysis will be the ultimate guide for your peace.

The worst picks for analysis of an error would be :

Comparison
Discussion of people involved in the error
The failure that surrounds the error
(Errors will not always end in failures!)

Rather the right variables to pick would be:

What were your investments?
Was the process well planned?
Were you able to learn from the results that you are currently holding in your hand?

I know in India, this is rarely taught. Most of the times, ‘success’ is equated to ‘victory'( again defined as superiority over your competitors). That is where all the progressive downward spiral in being peaceful starts.

Most of them who know me know that

I am not super wealthy(read money wealthy!)
I don’t wear brands for clothing and accessories
I don’t hang out and eat in expensive restaurants
They still know that
I am courageous in making my decisions
I rarely regret my life
I do often complain but very soon figure out a solution around my problems

I persist in the face of failure despite being teary and burnt out.

According to what life has taught me, if you can be all the above three lines, then you know how to find peace among chaos everyday.

What would it be if you answer all the choices in MCQs of an examination and expect to score full marks?
Anyone would call you a fool. Paying for Peace is very similar to that.

Trying to find peace is all about

Identifying and Isolating the things that disrupt your everyday life. When these two steps become regular variables in your equation to balance life, you will stop trying to find peace 🙂 for you are already in peace with yourself.

That’s when you will tell someone,

Peace cannot be b’o’ught,
It can only be b’r’ought!

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Why am I in love again….

I must accept I am very indisciplined when it comes to blogging. Never mind coz I haven’t signed up any contracts 😀   Last few weeks in my life have been so normal and peaceful that I sometimes ask my siblings to pinch me to feel it is all so real. From the day I have landed in this country I have been coming across so many new things that the list goes endless.

I just love the almost zero pollution environment here.

The traffic discipline!!!! amazingly depressing…sometimes i feel like walking out of the car running away. I know i know the safety first thing …so good about it but ya i miss the hyderabadi autowallah’s torture turns . You can be sure to end up on a hospital bed even if you are following traffic rules 🙂 . Here your saved from that .

The houses how perfectly planned and lined up they are!! I feel the best part about them being like that is how much ever junk you dump around , the houses still look great!So ideal for someone like me.

The way some stranger on the side walk looks into your face and wishes you a hi how are you doing today with a sunshine smile..

The way people binge on tempting calorie filled foods and the way they just rush to the gym to burn it all out. Balancing acts huh!!! 🙂  Just the way they sit back and enjoy life unlike so many of us who are always on a run to achieve things than accomplish them.

The way you can take up any hobby that appeals to you just by walking into a store. The way they stack up their stores meticulously. Ah!! how I dream of a day when I can wake up and become a carpenter when I want to make frames for my photo works. (the outcome doesnt matter you get to try your hand at it atleast buddy)

I hate to compare it all with anything back home just for some reasons like how much we lag behind when compared with them.

WE have a very small piece of land with too many humans eating out of it.

So with no comparisons I can say I just am in love with this nation for many more reasons. The list will never end.

I shall scribble again!!! See ya…

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