In Out

Astonishingly quiet, nimble and yet grounding
Seldom noticed, glaringly so while fogging up spectacles
and when attempts are made to quieten one’s racing heart
with the recommended doses of deep gulps of air

The deep sighs, the moment you really see someone,
The moment something or someone soothes you
And the sigh of disenchantment with the world
or of enchantment with a single blade of grass

Racing short exhales when held in another’s arms
that turn shorter before expressing unlove for someone you once adored
or when your blanket unknowingly covers your face
Or when you come up for air hastenedly, only to drown back momentarily

Perhaps if you spent enough time with it you could awaken
as eastern mystics and wise ones say
perhaps it could make you feel alive
Not in the regular oxygen – carbon di(e) oxide kind of way
But in the way you really do become alive to your own being

Embracing the messiness

Picking on dried out scars from wounds that have almost healed
Well healing of wounds unloved is always just around the corner
Yet almost always slipping through your fingers the more you grip tighter
Breadcrumbs awakening nerve endings of indifference
Like a crutch to the profound sadness in the world
Or an afterthought after the big show
Leading to faster yet longer breaths
Feeling the heart pace itself to match the racing thoughts in your mind
Never forgetting to reimagine what the past really meant
And looking into the crystal ball of inevitable doom
But in a few moments of clarity or hope, if you may
You know that things aren’t as bad as the chatter in your head has you believe
Even if they do become, you know, unbearable in the moment
Platitudes like “this too shall pass” seem the most helpful
In the absence of external sources of comfort
Turning within to embrace the messiness
With unease and love in equal measure
Its harder than you think to embrace all the feelings of worry, (un)love and restlessness
Without taking them personally
Perhaps taking online quizzes and reading an entire book in a day
Or seeking and wanting some tenderness from them
Is what you must or what you shall do
To quieten the voices in your head or to soothe the heart
Then that’s what you must and shall do
Requiring you to really just play in the mud and be okay with the dirt
And the messiness and vulnerability that comes along with it
In all its glory and fiery, oscillating between extreme joy and profound sadness
Only to lie down in a land of comforting numbness of another’s or your own arms

Ramblings of a broken mind

Broken into a million little pieces scattered all over town
And yet each piece sits alone.
Cross legged like it is supposed to be
Waiting to be touched, of course in hugs, embraces and kisses.
And on the inside walls that longed for a painting or a friend.
When loneliness struck tonight like a tap that drips after short consistent pauses, through the night
And tears falling, enough to put out a candle or a volcano
And you feel the knots in your stomach
With racing thoughts of self sabotage and wondering if anyone would miss you if you weren’t around
You ask yourself if you’re catastrophizing, one of the many cognitive distortions you’ve heard about.
But you have so many racing thoughts and feelings by this point
That you decide to count your blessings.
And then it occurs to you that you are just an ungrateful little shit.
And you realise you have disturbing and impairing mental illnesses that play tricks on your mind.
And inevitably you ask yourself if you caused your own misery and if not, then what really caused it.
Despite the exercise, meditation, therapy, and loads of hope filled podcasts you still feel like
Your heart is being ripped out
While you hold onto it all alone
But you don’t accept loneliness as it comes, and then one day it hits you like a wave
All at once, and you find yourself gasping for air while you wail into your pillow secretly wishing to get under it
And you think writing will help
And it does and you hope someone will love you enough to want to, to ask to read everything you ever wrote
Until then you re read all your notes, emails and scraps of paper
You hope this moment of loneliness would be fleeting and wish that you were somehow “normal”
And that people didn’t put you in boxes of too emotional or too sensitive or too negative or too vulnerable, and hopefully you didn’t do that to yourself too
Because you know you aren’t alone, you have yourself
And it sounds absurd to ward off loneliness with more of yourself
But what choices do you have in a pandemic which is slowly withering your relationships and your mind
And you also know that so many others share your pain and in that suffering at least you are not alone

Anger and Shame in the age of Thinness and Perfection

Trigger Warning : Body Image issues, family relationships, Fat Shaming, Body Dysmorphia, Binge eating Disorder, Depression

Disclaimer : I want to be compassionate to others and myself. I want to be compassionate about other people’s ignorance and socialization. But I am too angry and upset to be while writing about this. I wish to express myself and sometimes my expression can spill over to hate, but I decide to choose imperfect expression over perfect censorship. (I know this is often an excuse to be “brutally honest”, but I promise to edit it a little bit with a calm sensibility.

Tired of my internal voice telling me I am not good enough until I lost some weight, tired of thoughts that my body or my fatness was some sort of temporary shape or form which will inevitably rightfully become truly loved and acceptable only when I lose weight. Tired enough to scurry through social media and news articles that articulate fat shaming and the counterproductive and shame infested ways in which fat shaming makes me think of myself. I wanted to send an article on body shaming, to my immediate and extended family as an explanation as to why it was one of the many reasons why I didn’t want to come “Home” despite their persistent “come back home” phone calls (yet never leading to any sort of reflection on their part as to why I don’t really want to come). Every article seemingly failed me, on the surface because either they were too western centric (read: American, Hamari Sanskriti mai aisa nahi hota beta) or too emotional (read: irrational, tum bahut sensitive ho, dusre kya kehte hai mat suno) or too attacking (read: Hum tumhari achai ke liye hi bol rahe hai, acha ladhka kaise milega ?, oh sorry sorry we meant health health heath) or didn’t have enough research backing its claims (read : Yeh kisi gore ne bol dia toh tum maan logi? Pata hai America mai log kitne mote hai?). 

But I deep down don’t believe that any of the above stated reasons stopped me from sending any of the articles to my family whatsapp group.There were 2 reasons why I didn’t send any of the already fantastically written articles  – first I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to respond to unwitting responses on the “safe space” whatsapp family groups can be, and secondly and more importantly, the articles didn’t share my voice, anger, shame, disappointment or sadness and quickly ran toward solutions for the optimistic bunch. 

I am without debate fat. I also wish the previous sentence was just a description about my body, like the wall is really blue, or the chair has 4 legs. But it isn’t , it evokes shame and disgust even while I type it. I have a double chin, several love handles, stretch marks all over my body that have turned red, a reflection in the mirror that I never look at and clothes that will almost fit me when I lose weight. I also have immense shame and hate towards my body. At this point all uncle, aunties and critics hold your goddamn well meaning “ Don’t care about what other people think” phrases. Because, the responsibility of the inception of the disgust I feel towards my body is not mine alone. It is years of hearing and seeing things like “Tum thoda weight loose karlo, bahut sundar lagogi” (like i am not effing pretty right now), “ Tumhari health sahi ho jayegi, bas weight kam karlo” (uncle kaise bataun, fat shaming doesn’t scientifically lead to weight loss, and not all health is related to weight) , “Mai tumhare ache ke liye keh rahi hu” (Meri baat kabhi toh sun lo, MUJHE kya acha Lagta hai) , “Yeh diet karle, ek dum badiya ho jayegi” (95 % of diets fail people) , “Whatsapp par dekha maine, yeh karne se tu ek dum fit ho jayegi” ( Whatsapp university, peer reviewed nahi hoti) , “ Haye, tune toh kafi put on Karliya hai” (I wish you didn’t reduce me to my body and shape literally 1 second into meeting me after 4 years of not knowing what I had achieved otherwise) and countless more. A more recent incident was when I was walking down the road with 2 friends and a police guy (haan, humare rakshak) calls me toward him and says “Beta, aap ka weight kitna hai? ”. I responded with a numb gaze and said “what” and he passionately repeated and asked me my weight adding the affectionate yet patronising “beta”. His sidekick, also a police officer, went on to tell me how sir ji was a physical trainer and could give me great tips. Well needless to say I walked away in tears while my friends aggressively defended me, and in that moment I felt humiliated and completely reduced only to how I look. You sir didn’t wait to pause to acknowledge or ask questions that would bring out that I was a great friend, I am awesome with kids, a great social worker and am a kind person. No sir you didn’t have the patience to. While comments from strangers feel all so hugely destructive, the ones from family and friends stay and are so pervasive that I didn’t realise their effect on me until a few months back. 

My fixation on my body shape began young with family members reminding and shaming me for my body. It started in my teenage years, crept up to me in my now early 20s . I started using My Fitness Pal, an app designed to calculate calories in food and instigate and aggravate eating disorders. I was 16 when I set out to lose weight, obsessively counting calories and was thrown out of the My fitness pal community for being below 18. Of course that didn’t stop me from creating another account on the App. I lost close to 15 kgs of weight with obsessive calorie counting and overexercising. That was when I received compliments “oh you lost so much weight, you look so good”, “You look so much better” , “Now we can see your beauty” which after the onset of my binge eating disorder and consequent weight gain turned into “ You were so thin”, “You have lost weight once, you can do it again”, “You used to look so good then”. Well I wish you saw my pain when I had lost all the weight and still felt not good enough. I wish you saw the shame I now have for gaining weight like I am some low self willed individual (I am not). I wish you also knew that the restrictive dieting pattern and constant comments about my body nudged me towards this disorder. I do know now, that I don’t want to ever lose weight again by counting calories. It will not be something I subject myself to ever again. But post this experience I have fallen into trying and failing and trying again to diet and lose weight. Because I never felt good enough and am constantly anxious about how I am looking.

After a few years of back and forth on diets and ups and downs on the scales, I started bingeing food. On reflection and extensive reading now I know it is Binge Eating Disorder. I am going to give you the clinical definition, because me defining my angst in my own words is too painful to do right now. “People with BED may eat a lot of food in a short amount of time, even if they aren’t hungry. A person might feel a sense of release or relief during a binge but experience feelings of shame or loss of control afterward. According to DSM – V , the diagnostic criteria to have Binge Eating Disorder is three or more of the following symptoms being present with one binge occuring at least once a week for the last 3 months:

  1. eating much more rapidly than normal
  2. eating until uncomfortably full
  3. eating large amounts without feeling hungry
  4. eating alone due to feelings of embarrassment and shame
  5. feelings of guilt or disgust with oneself

People with BED often experience feelings of extreme unhappiness and distress about their overeating, body shape, and weight.” 

Now that we have clarified that my mental health has suffered, I would also like to add, accompanying my difficulty with food, I also am Clinically Depressed and have had a few depressive episodes. The most recent one I seem to be conquering. It would be unfair to my family and friends who body shame to blame the disorder entirely on them. Firstly because it is caused by a plethora of reasons including genetics, gender, media portrayal of thinness, past trauma, stress and body shaming. Secondly, I feel called to mention that for the last few years I was in a high stress-emotionally draining job and before that for 2 years was in a very stressful Master’s programme. I was studying to be a social worker and had very stressful coursework and emotionally challenging fieldwork. I then went on to work with children in difficult situations, which was least to say meaningful but soul wrenching-heart shattering work. Don’t get me wrong, I love that work and am very passionate about social work, I just wish someone told me to take care of myself first. I wish I had loved myself before the work I did. 

Well having contextualised my experience being a mix of different life events, I can tell you that your body shaming affects me negatively, and no your body shaming doesn’t act as the tough love to become thin or “fit” as you seemingly intended.( I am literally case in point) The shame I feel isn’t self-created, but it is I who has to live with it, navigate it, not give into it, and tell other people like me that I share your pain and anguish. Which is why today I speak and hope that those who read it acknowledge and hold themselves accountable for the pain they might have caused unknowingly and we as a collective society can move towards a more compassionate space where I am not reduced to the sum total of what other people can visually grasp in half a second. Writing this is also a kick back to shame which has crept up insidiously over the years. 

P.S. – Resources that have helped to cope with my feelings and mental health are seeking therapy, dancing, reaching out to friends and using this book which is an evidence based method of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Self Guided Help.  

If you want to chat, talk to me, discuss something, ask for resources or share your story, my ears and eyes are always willing to read and listen. Write to me on

The option to comment remains open too.

Piss people off

Go ahead be yourself and piss off as many people as you want. Go ahead talk to the person your best friend hates. Go ahead and not conform to your group’s idea of a great boy. Go ahead use your phone in a party you really don’t fit in and have tried enough. Go ahead cancel plans with people at the last moment just because you changed your mind. Go ahead and work in Mc Donald’s and serve your friends. Go ahead and talk about metaphysics and time travel if that interests you. Go ahead and cry all-day if you’re an emotional baby. Laugh if a piece of paper dancing in the air amuses you. Be as skeptical, pessimistic or as optimistic as the sun if you want to. Talk all day or sleep all day. Listen to music no one you know would ever hear.  Wear shirts and jewelry that were outdated 10 years ago. Wear the baggiest of shirts. And the biggest of hats with outrageous footwear. Talk to the watchman if he’s the one you would want to interact with. Go ahead and have an entire large pizza at Dominos all alone. Go to the movie by yourself. Roam around all day with no objective whatsoever. Crack jokes which are funny only to you. Watch your favorite movies a million times. Sing every song in your morning voice. Dance like a ghost got into you. Run up and down the staircase even if you might fall. Be as clumsy as you want to be or be a neat freak. Pretend to have an accent when you’re bored of your tone. Skip while you walk. Skate on the metro platforms. Let your friends and strangers think you are absolutely ridiculous.

Just don’t say yes to everything. Don’t want everyone to love you. Just don’t be so agreeable. And if you don’t agree with me don’t be pissing people off either. Just do whatever the fuck you want to do.

To live is to believe

If you ever traced where all this actually begins you would realise we are born with absolutely no idea of how things work in this world. We’re small and don’t affect anything. Our parents bring us up. We believe in them more than anything. They tell us right from wrong and protect us. We believe them when they say the sky is blue. We believe that blue is that colour and that they’re not wrong. We believe the system of the world. We accept the conventions and the languages. We take the entire world as a given at least when we are growing up. We accept that other people exist and go about their lives in a different fashion than ours . We don’t ask why we are here and the others aren’t.We just believe.

There are more than plenty reasons to be skeptical. Despite them we accept that a gas we can’t see keeps us alive. We can’t see the love we give. Our thoughts are intangible. Our personalities and character are often deceptive. A star that doesn’t exist for 10 years now may still be visible to the naked eye and yet we don’t question all
the stars in the sky. We believe in the people we know even when we have no conclusive proof.  We believe in the goodness of all. We love our family unconditionally. We cherish our friendships. We love like mad men. We fall in love at the drop of a hat even though we know more broken relationships than happy ones. We believe what we cannot see and comprehend. We believe accused felons are innocent until proven guilty and not the other way round because we think people are inherently humane. We follow systems that our ancestors established. We rely on our parent’s advice heavily and struggle to keep our passion alive and keep believing we will be successful one day. We have a staggering amount of faith in people and systems. 

There are an enormous number of things we need to think are completely true for our life to go on. Our trusting side needs to be on all the time. We need to have faith against all odds and even in the cases where we have little evidence. Think about how we are even here living. It’s a miracle that the earth exists and that we inhabit it. We can’t question that because we don’t know the answer. That would make life seem like an illusion not worth fighting for then. So for us to live a life, we need to put one foot ahead of the other and just take a leap of faith every day. 

Jar of happiness

The day you finally learn how to drive a car. The day you sat in the same car with the radio on and the wind blowing pretending to be in a musical . The day you met your best friend after a long time. The moment your food arrived at the restaurant after waiting for the better part of an hour. The moment the wind blew through your sweaty shirt. The day you wrote you last exam. The day you fell in love . The day the person you loved fell in love with you.The day you got your first salary.When your dad told you he loved you and was proud of you. When your old jeans finally fit you again.The day when you had a good hair day . When you went hiking and finally reached the peak.  When you bake and the cupcakes aren’t charred. When you finally reached end of a thriller novel .When you took the courage to talk to a stranger and made a a good friend. When you sat in your windy room just listening to music. When you feel your phone in your pocket while thinking you had lost it. When you listen to your favourite song over and over again. When someone compliments you on your eyes or your wit. When you crack a joke and your crush laughs the loudest. When you finally smile after long hard day just for no reason. When you have a great time just doing absolutely nothing

Those are the moments you actually want to keep in your jar of happiness. You want to write them on tiny pieces of  paper and put them in a transparent jar. That’s actually your life – the Jar. You collect bits and pieces of joy from moments in your day and keep collecting them to fill up your jar just a little more. You get up everyday just to fill it up with a few more bits of paper. You just have to realise that this Jar of happiness is untouchable and is immortal. Even if the jar breaks up, fills up with water or gets dirty with ink ,those moments of happiness can’t be taken away from you .That’s what you have for yourself to keep. Even if you don’t remember them vividly they are still your moments of joy and no one and nothing can take them away from you. That’s what so special about this Jar. You don’t have to protect it from damage, you just have to keep filling it up.

Beyond being just a place and just travelling

An incessant need to touch, smell, hear and feel untouched places over and over. The need to keep wandering. The need to keep exploring. The desire to keep looking at every place and saying this is the best I have seen “yet”. To be able to look at the sun go up and down. That place that gives you a million things to smile about every time you think of those days. Every bill that you add to your collection that it keeps growing fatter with every bit of food that you taste. An ordinary day that turns out to become an amalgamation of adventures that are etched in your memory. To understand that some people can be really selfish. But goodness exists. The experience that gives you a chance to take a leap of faith.Those people who don’t understand your language as much but tell you a lot more. Music that touches your soul. Rivers that makes your blood flow faster. Sunsets that take your breath away. Moments so blissful that you forget to take pictures. Compassion that makes you melt. Events that make you believe that more things outside of your purview of life exist.

Winds that keep calling out for you to stay on the road. And you should listen to them and never stop losing yourself. Money is never a factor. You know how to pull off a day without food. And a scrungy old place to live. Nothing should stop you. Nothing can stop you. Because that’s what traveling does to you. It makes you think everything is possible. It makes you push yourself. It makes you to want more. It makes you do more. It makes a large part of the person you become

But it also leaves you with a sense of longing. It keeps you wanting for one more mountain , one more day and one more person. It leaves your lips dry, feet cracked and hearts longing. There you are not wanting to leave but you have to. You have to study or work or take care of someone.

A different person keeps walking around back at home and no body can ever understand why or how. But its different every time. You don’t feel like you can ever fit here. Because the sense of belonging kills you. You want to keep roaming the cities and tell everyone who asks your native place that you belong to the road. That’s the place you feel most comfortable calling home.

You keep going back. You keep searching for newer places to satisfy your hunger and don’t stop till you actually can. You take every long weekend off and go to every place that seems affable or not so lovable but you manage to love the unexplored. The worlds got you hooked and you better sail along because it wouldn’t be fun any other way.