Friday, December 7, 2012

My Shrinking heart

As a kid I was never short of excuses to cry and my favourite one was having to say goodbye. I hated that good times were not meant to last. Those days, good times had nothing to do with spending your money. It was all about spending time with people you loved. Come evenings, come holidays and we’d head out to meet friends or our outstation relatives. Sundays meant grand family reunions or early morning picnics. So what if it was the seedy Budha Jayanti Park, where behind every bush there was a couple furiously making out.

We could never have enough of loving, caring and sharing. Just like a Karan Johar movie. Except for the fact, that the ladies in our family didn’t break into an impromptu dance, in our 14000 square feet living hall. Those were the days of Garden Vareli and not saris that had every conceivable pattern of sequins and coloured stone planted on it.

Every inland letter dropped in our rickety letter box, was a harbinger of joy – a birth, wedding, or a relative writing about his plans to visit us next month. I would spend the next few weeks in fevered anticipation while my Mom would start stressing about the added chores. She was a working woman. But at that time I was too young to understand her and would get angry with her for being such a spoilsport.

My definition of Utopia was a summer break spent with my cousins, sucking mangoes stolen from the store-room, trying to frighten each other with ghost stories, running all around the house, toppling furniture, screaming like banshees – while our Moms gave us disapproving looks. Seven of us huddled together on the bed, the fan creaking noisily overhead, barely caring about the heat, as we chattered noisily.
 
My biggest fear was getting separated from my cousins. Oh, how tears would flow when we had to bid adieu.

Look how age changes perspective. My cousins have now been reduced to Facebook acquaintances, whose moments of happiness are now a bunch of shared pics. I look at these grown-up men and women and wonder if we lost more than just our youth. When we meet during grand family celebrations (read weddings) my daughter sees her cousins as just a bunch of annoying kids. It breaks my heart to think that she will not have any stolen mango memories. That she will not shed tears for cousins she never got to know.

I hate to admit that the thought of guests gives me the heebie-jeebies. I turn into my Mom, my mind focussed on the inconveniences rather than the joy of a reunion. Only this time I completely relate to what she felt!

What kind of a lifestyle dictates that we spend our weekends at malls and need to fix up dates to meet our friends? Where neighbours are strangers who exchange pleasantries in the building lift! Avoiding social contacts as we forage for warmth and acceptance from the online world?

Are we heading towards a lifestyle where we have to pay others to listen to our woes, rather than seeking help from the ones we love?

Makes me wonder, if we are becoming too selfish for our good! We have become so possessive about our private space that those who dare to reach out are seen as intruders.

When I had moved to Gurgaon, I thought I would finally be able to meet like-minded people and make more friends. That didn’t happen. When I moved to Brisbane, I thought I wouldn’t make any friends and had mentally prepared myself for loneliness. Guess what? I have made more friends in just three months, than I did in the eight years I spent in Gurgaon.

I think I know why. Thrown out of our comfort zones, away from the cushion of family and friends, we have been reaching out, knowing that the friends we make here will help us tide over the feeling of alienation. I smile more often as I run around doing my errands and when someone smiles back, it lights up my heart like a 60 watt bulb.

I am not ashamed of feeling needy anymore. My shrinking heart is blooming again and it feels so good.
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46 comments:

  1. yes, life is kind of strange and people make it complicated most of the times for themselves and others.
    I have often found that people who live to impress others are still not happy in their lives. Others who live for themselves are quite content.
    While I was growing, I was told not to hurt others and live for others. Now I have realised that is not true.
    The people who I did not hurt, hurt me more.
    Personally I feel, conservationism is a bane most of the time and I have realised I do not get along with such people :-) My heart shrinks to be with such people. I too have made more friends here in Europe..

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    1. It's experiences that shape our personality. Betrayal, hurt make us more guarded. But there are some of us, who continue seeking love despite knowing it's ups and downs :-)

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  2. what a lovely post, Purba. It made me ache at the things that successive generations are losing out on as we become more and more isolated and nuclear in our lifestyles. One reason why we make friends easily in alien climes is as you have pointed out, the absence of expectations. So we are able to smile more easily and make friends faster. I can just see you hurrying with your errands, flashing that smile and making yet another friend :)

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    1. I seem to have become a collector of smiles. And it helps that people are so much friendlier here.

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  3. Purba, you are indeed lucky to be in Brisbane to look back at the bygone times of unbridled joy and also to cherish the lifestyle of Aussies who are far more friendlier and more lively people than our own brethren who seek comfort of company either to share a gossip or speak ill of others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And to escape all that negativity, we end up avoiding social contacts!

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  4. Purba,

    Childhood days had own charm and such pleasant memories stored. And then we grow up with our own world keeping us occupied leading to lessening of our contact with childhood companions. Times have changed now due to more stress on nuclear families, thus no fun with cousins. We need will to make friends.

    Take care

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    Replies
    1. We need to be less judgmental and let go of expectations. We expect too much from our loved ones.

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  5. While in Bangalore, I so wanted to come back to Gurgaon hoping to rekindle the lost fires of friendship. It hasn't happened.Some Old friends at Heritage moved out, others were too busy with their own lives. It was not the same. Even in my present apartment, most are stingy with smiles.
    Now I realize that I had made more friends in Bangalore.
    I am so glad that you have made friends who share same thoughts and ideas.

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    1. You know, it's friendship and love that helps us tide over our toughest times and yet we accept it after so many terms and conditions.

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  6. How true ! The world has changed.

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  7. what a lovely post! yes, the ways of the world have changed and so, we need to move with the times... even i remember the good old days when my cousins, brother and i would fly kites on the terrace and play hide and seek and other outdoor games, and all of us would get together and actually talk face to face rather than uploading stuff and sending messages on facebook! Alas, they have all moved away, but we still keep in touch... so social media is a blessing in some ways! :)

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    1. It friends we make during our growing up years, who accept and love us unconditionally. After all, they have seen the best of worst in us.

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  8. I think it is also about you being an introvert or an extrovert. I always run away from humans unless I am helplessly thrown with them by destiny and that included my cousins. I enjoyed with them because there was nothing else to do in holidays. :)
    I think the way our lifestyles have changed, it is a big achievement if you are able to spend good enough time with your immediate family.

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    Replies
    1. My daughter is an introvert. All that noise and chatter unnerves her. She prefers her own company the most :-)

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  9. also, when i was living away from home for a year, i was so much more outgoing and social, and had a large circle.... i guess living at home just puts you in a routine, comfortable zone.... you are 100% right about that!

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  10. Win Exciting and Cool Prizes Everyday @ www.2vin.com, Everyone can win by answering simple questions. Earn points for referring your friends and exchange your points for cool gifts.

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  11. I still make a lot of friends in the real world. I do agree about missing cousins and those times spent without gadgets playing mindless games. Yet, I can't help but partake of the things that progress has brought me and am richer by it. Most importantly, I am reorganizing my life so that I have enough time for my family. I guess it all depends upon the phase in your life that you are currently in as well.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. It's all in the head - how open you are to new relationships, experiences..A lot of us are content with what we have, while the rest can't get rid of that feeling of restlessness :-)

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  12. That was bang on!!! Every word is so true. And i thought cousins turning acquaintances happened only in my world!I so so miss the camaraderie i had with my cousins when i was young. and now things are so different..dont knw wat changed!

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    1. I think it's us that changed...our priorities changed...And it's in those pensive moments, we wonder, what went wrong?

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  13. Beautiful piece...but I disagree on the reason of making more friends abroad; it's not to seek comfort in alienation, its overcompensation for a life we have left behind and may not get back.

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    1. I wish I could analyze myself so perfectly :-)

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    2. I was actually quite surprised to read this piece from u at this time because I am writing something similar based on my experiences and one particular one recently! But its very hard because self analysis is taxing!

      I guess all of us, recently separated from the Motherland, have these reminiscent feelings that we need to express to get over them.

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  14. Oh... Purba,
    You put me in nostalgia.
    in Marathi i would like to say.
    PURBA TUMI APRATEEM!!!

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  15. I have been to Brisbane and I love it. The life style is so laid back, most of the friend I made on the trip did not have an email id so forget about facebook. Everyone was out doorish and so I could totally get why you are feeling like you are feeling :)

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    1. Yes...come weekend and everybody is either sailing, kayaking, taking off for weekend getaways :-)

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  16. I fully agree with you. Newly married my husband would call friends over while I would fret and fume. Today my 'family' has enlarged. It is me who keeps on inviting. I do miss family here but I have understood that times do change. So for me family is restricted to FB while we have a new family here.

    I suppose it is better this way. This family I do not expect anything, nor do they expect anything of me. We care and we share and they keep to their limits

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Letting go of expectations, is the most liberating experience :-)

      Delete
  17. Hello matey :) how is it going ..


    Bikram's

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  18. Hi Purba :)

    Lovely post, depicting the emotions which one feels deep inside them while they are still a kid.
    It is true, once out of the comfort zone, we tend to adapt more quickly and with ease too.
    Keep posting Purba :)

    Regards

    Jay
    http://road-to-sanitarium.blogspot.in/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, why waste time moping when you can do better!

      Delete
  19. Very true and honest Purba. But its not Gurgaon or Brisbane that decides the fate of what kind of friends u make. One is yourself, you need to reach out and meet strangers, maybe out of 20 you might get lucky on one. The other is sheer luck that I had when I was in London. Friends who were there to hold you, support you and genuinely care for u, not the ones who gladly take a pic with u and upload it on FB the next instant begging for likes!

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    1. We may harp about why we should not depend on others for happiness and be our own best friend. But the truth is, it's love that makes us feel alive :-)

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  20. With your post,I remembered the time I spent every summer with my cousins ,(30 of them )in Rajasthan. We are all alive!!
    In the process of becoming wardens of our private spaces,we end up being prisoners-true that Purba ..

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    1. In the process of becoming wardens of our private spaces,we end up being prisoners- what a beautiful line!

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  21. Lovely post-it has sent me back to those glorious days when relations were deep & loving.

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    1. Nostalgia, a seductive mistress.

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  22. We make mistakes by seeking warmth and affection only from our blood relations. When we smile and reach out to others without any expectations, the foundation for strong relations are built. Too often I find people who are not my relatives are much more closer to me....

    I feel we should not try to make friends hoping that they will help us at some point of time. Be good so that it gives you happiness. Is happiness not one of the most important things we seek?

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    1. Of course it is. And all I expect is decency. Is that too much to ask?

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