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*





Foods I Enjoyed


My own foolishness of choice!!!


There were days when I sat and thought if I’d ever receive any help!!!! Ya I learnt it hard way that life is full of mazes and puzzles while I was here, stuck in a maze at a dead end .I always did what most of us do. I kept asking myself Why me!!!!

I always did fail to ask myself another question !!! Why not me !!! I know it puzzles some of you to why I should have thought so. Here I was facing one of the biggest challenges of my education phase, stuck in a situation that was affecting me badly.The world is filled up to the brim with more serious problems like poverty and hunger , I do not wish to put my tiny complaint high above them all and so  I  shall not discuss my situation here in detail…

I was here fighting against one organisation and the situation was getting more and more like Me Vs Them

During the initial stages of my fight I always asked myself the wrong question,

“why me?”

I wasn’t looking at how many ways the problem was helping me.I was fighting against the organisation everyday but everyday was another war for me against my flaws.

I was trying to better myself every minute I spent there. Why ????
I dint want to give them even a single chance against me .

I started taking my hobbies more seriously. I started improving at a pace where  my family even thought I might end up shifting my career to being a photographer than a therapist. 

One day I stop and look back at all those sleepless nights I cried out on the pillows to why I was the only one who is suffering.I am surprised at the progress I’ve made. I am surprised at how best the problem has chiselled my talents.

How “the problem” nurtured me carefully like a mother from an immature rebel kid to a mature independent young lady.

The problem for me at a time was everything that associated me with that place. Everything that sent me back to that place.

The situation, the people who were responsible for it, the people who had the power but refused to help me!!!

But when I started looking for a solution with more desperate measures, I realised the solution was within me!

I was not noticing what the problem was helping me become!

There were days I got kicked at in my study place! There were days my things went missing at the right time I needed them. All these caused me a lot of pain though not physically the trauma was badly cutting through my heart.

It all hurt me because I wasn’t in a situation to question them back.

There came a day when someone told me it was the rule of life… the rule of karma!

I was supposedly doing my share of karma that i chose for before god put me onto this earth.I was to do my share of suffering to enjoy my share of happiness.I will not categorise it under any name, religious , spiritual or superstitious belief.. I will only call it a belief!!!! For all the reasons and explanations that I received from countless people when I approached them for help this one made a lot of sense to me!

But everytime I started analysing and linking up one good incident and one bad challenge I was facing, I was enjoying the analogy more and smiling at my own foolishness of choice rather than feel bad!

I chose to get kicked in exchange of a DSLR????? (That is one of the best gifts I ever received!!) OMG!!! What was I doing when God gave me that MCQ sheets to choose the Good and Bad incidents of life!!

The problem hasn’t vanished even today … No miracles took place! No saviour angel appeared!!!

Every time I face a blow at that place! I wait a second and recollect one best thing that is right now happening in my life and I end up laughing at my own foolishness of choice!!! 

The power of laughter and happiness gives me double the strength to stand up against them yet another time.I wonder it still pisses them off to how I am still Happy 😀



I Dream…I Wish…May b…


I wake up every morning with a hope that my day ahead would be the way I dream it can be….
Do I dream ???? ya I do 🙂

I dream of a day when i am free to interact with my faculty to talk of the subject,
I dream of a day i can voice my opinions against the so called “politics at work place”
I dream of a day i can be a part of something called a “research project” to invent a device that can judge if a member of the faculty is acting his or her place or they really do deserve it….
 I dream to be a HUMAN….
well you could be thinking what’s with this lady talking like a rebel ….ya i wish i was a rebel from the start…

I wish i was a brat who din respect their teachers and parents….

I wish i was indiscipined….

I wish i din give a damn if anyone was in troubles or hurt….


I was always taught and brought up with these kinda things in my life….
My parents still stick to it…. 🙂 ( I hate them for that)

“BE prepared for the tough things in life, so tht u cud face them in the eye and say u can’t take me down with u  ”
“Respect ur teachers, they r the GOD for u when u wanna b something in ur life, they teach u what life has taught them”

I tried living by these words …… I still believe in them…. may be some day i will get my answers….

but sometimes questions like this do pop up in my confused  head….

Why is this all happening to me?

I never misbehaved!

How is it that such highly educated and elderly people act so inhumanly and insensitive towards a 20 year old rather than help me??

May be I will have to wait for my day….

but I do sometimes realise and feel…..

Living life like a human has got nothing to do with being educated or scholarly….

Itz just the sense of dignity and the true spirit of being humans makes the likes of mother teresa, baba amte or the less known good samaritans around us daily….

May b am not the only one….(refer to the March 11th issue page  of THE HINDU’s city edition)….I was lucky… I wasnt harassed by the seniors neither by some psycho for some absurd reasons…here were the people whom I trusted revered and looked up the most to…WOMEN who were driven by I dunno what I could call…. EGOISM,COMPLEXITY( i wudn’t use the term had it not been told to me by a senior member of the management…) , hunger for saddistic politics( my seniors told me this:) )

OMG!!!! I thought, gimme a break… am only a 20 year old…. whtz all this against me….

every morning I wish I wud go to my study place with a open heart and see towards these so called ” scholars” with the same  dignity and respect that i used to give them before….

I somehow seem not to be abe to do it… May b GOD will gimme the strength….

the days go by for me with a hope that I will see better days in my workplace…..

May b itz just the words of my friend’s grandma tht ring in my years every time am frustrated ….

“There is Lord Srimannarayana looking upon all this and he wont deny justice to u ….”

I have an instant smile on my face everytime I remember this cute and “scholarly” 70 year old’s expression on the wrinkle filled face…

I know HE’s watching….HE’ ll rescue me…..May b…. I Wish ….I Dream