Expecto Patronum

The Dementors are gone.

My Patronus is a Pear Orchard in a sleepy village in Portugal. Details on that some other time.

I took some time off work to attend a week long Drawing Course. It was amazing. I couldn’t even draw stick figures on the first day. By the last day I had drawn an amazing self portrait & a few other drawings that I never in my wildest dreams I imagined I’d be able to draw. Here’s the portrait I drew of my course-mate on Day 4 (She thought it was pretty spot on!):

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More than anything, the class taught me that drawing is a very meditative process. I have tried and failed several times to practise Mindfulness Meditation. Drawing made me go to that place of calm and meditation without even trying. So now I try to draw everyday. In reality, I draw about 3-4 times a week. 

I also went to see a coach who helped me sort out a lot of stuff that was causing me turmoil. She’s not a therapist (even though she does have a Psychology degree) but she’s better than any therapist I’ve seen.

I had a chat with my boss & asked him if I could do something different & told him what I had in mind & if that was ok with him. His words to me were: “You’ve earned the right to do whatever you want in this company.” I love him. So, I am teaching myself a bunch of new stuff with online videos and by getting my more experienced (& generous) colleagues to let me shadow them and so work is back to being fulfilling again.

We are finally moving into the shiny new flat that we bought last year. (We bought off plan.)

TG’s health is getting so much better. *Touch Wood*

We had a short & sweet visit to India in April. My parents have come SUCH A LONG WAY with me & The Girl. They were wonderful with her. While they still don’t talk about us to their friends their acceptance right now is more than I ever hoped for. We also met up with a few friends & TG & I attended a Gaysi event which was pretty special too. I was also pleasantly surprised & touched at how one particular friend went out of her way to meet TG & me & to spend time with us. Thanks for the Himalaya Kulfi and all your other thoughtful gestures, SD.

There’s more travel in the horizon – Austin & Dallas in August – to meet some of TG’s family & my childhood friend who now has an adorable baby. Another trip to Portugal. And then back to India in December.

Life is full and fulfilling.

Quiet

I am a high-functioning introvert. So you’d probably never guess if you met me, but meeting a big group of people makes me anxious. By ‘big group’ I mean anything over 2 people.
I am happy going to movies alone but I know loads of people, usually extroverts, who are mortified at the idea of sitting alone in a theater.

My idea of hell is a loud party where I don’t know anyone. Actually even walking into a quiet party filled with a lot of people I know makes me very anxious. I like hanging out with a maximum of 3-4 people over a meal with a few laughs and some intellectually stimulating conversation. If that is your idea of hell, you’re probably an extrovert!

One of my guilty pleasures is coming home early from work occasionally and just being by myself, either watching some rubbish TV or reading a book, or surfing the web. I love my “me-time” and can get grumpy if I don’t get it regularly.

When I visit India my parents have a party where they invite a whole bunch of their friends to meet me. These are mostly people I knew growing up so they’re not strangers. The fact that I have to meet about 10 of them at an event where I’m the center of attention makes me very anxious but I feel like a jerk if I ask my extroverted folks to cancel this event.

I tried to explain my social anxiety to my mother this time and said should read this book called ‘Quiet‘. She basically asked me to get over it. So I sighed, laughed and went to the party and chalked it down to a small debt repayment towards everything my parents have done for me.

Dementors

For the past few weeks, it’s felt like my mind’s been wading through a swamp. I can’t focus at work, I feel empty, I can’t bring myself to be happy. I start to cry at really stupid stuff. Yesterday, as I was cycling back home from work, a woman on a scooter flipped me off for no apparent reason while I was waiting for the light to turn green. I could not stop thinking about it and feeling really hurt. And I could not understand why some idiot stranger was making me so upset.
For a while I thought it might be PMS but I’ve bled and I’m still struggling.
I’m extremely fortunate that I work with some amazing people who have let me slack off at work and have allowed me to sit there staring at my laptop knowing fully well that I’m not really working. “I know how this feels”, my bff at work says to me. He suffers from depression and I can’t imagine how he has dealt with this for so many years. Just 3 weeks of this and I’m already considering sitting my wrists except that’s too painful.
The Girl is immersed in a stressful 3 month long full time training program with a deadline to meet and is understandably focused elsewhere. I feel guilty to come home and whine about my problems especially when I can’t even verbalize them.
I also feel guilty about feeling like this when I have so much to be grateful for.
Thankfully we are leaving for a short trip to India this weekend and that might just be the thing to jolt me out if this horrible state of mind.

Dear Broom – 2013

Dear Me,

This is SO long overdue. I almost didn’t want to do it, but then I read some of the older posts in this series & realised it is nice to have a record, however brief, of the year that was. So here we go…

Don’t worry. The Girl is really ill and when 2013 begins you’ll wonder if life as you & The Girl knew it was over. It is scary, but I promise you that a WONDERFUL doctor will diagnose The Girl with something that will be entirely manageable. And while it won’t really go away for this entire year, you will be relieved and grateful that she isn’t on crutches anymore, that she can walk semi-normally, that she won’t need a wheelchair at airports. You will be grateful to the NHS, with all it’s flaws, for being there to help with this.

You won’t travel as much this year, but you will go to the Maldives. Twice. And you will LOVE it.

Maldives

Work will continue to be wonderfully satisfying and you will form strong and deep bonds with a lot of your colleagues.

Financially, this year is the bomb. (In a good way!) Just know that you don’t have to worry about money this year.

You will move again. Yes. You will find a factory conversion flat in East London that you both fall in love with and will buy even though it won’t be ready for possession till June 2014. You will sell your home in West London, move to a rental place that is a 5 minute cycle ride away from your workplace.

You will absolutely love waking up at 8 and chatting with The Girl till about 8.45 while sipping coffee and then leisurely getting ready for work & cycling there by 9.30. You will love not having to use the tube. You will love the vibrancy of East London and wonder why you didn’t move here sooner.

Mama & Papa will come stay with you & The Girl for 7 weeks. Don’t panic. It will be fine. It will be more than fine. They will have a great time with you & The Girl & you will finally feel like they’ve accepted you for who you are.

The year will end with a trip to the States. With DOMA finally gone, you & The Girl have been contemplating moving to California and while you’re there you will realise with surprise that you both cannot fathom living out of London anymore. London, with it’s crappy weather & crowded public transport & forgotten sunshine, has you wrapped around her little finger and you both want it that way.

This is a great year. Sit back, relax & fasten your seat belt.

Thank you, India.

India is supposed to be my home. She’s supposed to be my haven. I love the food, the art, the music and even the ridiculous movies. But over the years and especially since I’ve been with The Girl, I’ve begun to cultivate this “I’m better than you are” attitude towards India.

I stopped following cricket matches – didn’t care if Pakistan beat India. I stopped reading Indian news unless something about India appeared on the BBC or NYTimes. I rolled my eyes & expected the absolute worst from her in every situation & I have usually been right.

India never fails to meet my expectations that when there is a choice between right and wrong, she will unabashedly veer towards the wrong. On the rare occasion that she’s done the right thing, I’ve been pleasantly surprised, but cynically questioned the motives.

This hasn’t happened without introspection, by the way. I have asked myself why I have been so harsh towards India. Sure she has one of the WORST records in the world towards minority rights and women are basically equivalent to garbage there, but she has a lot of redeeming qualities too. The US and UK have pretty shitty histories, pretty poor human rights records – so why do I save my worst judgements towards India?

For a while now, I’ve theorized that the reason I am so anti-India, so quick to criticize her, distance myself from the shit-show that she is, is because I want to reject her, before she rejects me.

I break up with India, because otherwise she will break up with me. And where’s the self respect in that?

I am so glad that this has been my modus operandi all along, because with the 377 judgement, my prudence, my prejudice, my whipped up disgust for the country of my birth – have all proven to be a great shield from the sucker punch that the Supreme Court  delivered to my gut.

I’m a criminal now? Fuck you, India! I don’t give a shit about what you think I am anyway.

My love is against Indian values? Fuck you AND your values that serve the best interests of the rich and the male folk.

My reaction to the news was mild surprise and disheartenment. But had I loved India, had I had crazy stupid faith that she would actually come through for her minorities and her vulnerable children, I would have been far more hurt by this shit.

So yeah, I am glad I’ve looked upon you with disdain, India. I am glad I have a count down app on my phone for when I can give up my fuck-all Indian passport for citizenship of a country that grants respect and dignity to her minorities – atleast on paper. Not to mention, the travel would be so much easier.

I am glad I had no intention of ever coming back to live there. I am glad I’ve argued with friends who defend India.

But the worst part of all of this is that sometimes I find myself wishing that I was a Straight, Rich, Upper caste, Hindu, Indian Man – so that I could spend some time in the glossy Instagram-filtered version of India that I am only allowed to look at from a distance and remember that I am not Rich enough, not Indian enough, not Hindu enough, not Man enough, not Straight enough to partake of.

I don’t want to jinx this but…

My parents are visiting and have been here for about 3 weeks now and, you guys, I think they’ve finally come to terms with my relationship with The Girl.
Things have been so relaxed and TG and I waited about 10 days before we admitted to each other that MAYBE… PERHAPS… POSSIBLY my parents are finally ok.

It’s taken about 5 years but I finally see rainbows at the end of the tunnel.

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Eat – 1

A little over a year ago if you had told me that I would have the discipline to give up meat and dairy I would have laughed. Dieting has always been a non-starter for me. I tried and failed many times and eventually learned that all it did was make me unhappy so I stopped trying.

Last May we had a barbeque at home and 4 out of the 8 guests we invited were vegan. When we talked to a couple of them they told us that their motivations were health and that a book called “The China Study” had motivated them to turn vegan.

At that time I had no interest in what I saw as denying myself all my favourite foods for health reasons. I was working out regularly and had lost a few kilos and inches and even though that had plateaued I was finally feeling comfortable with my body and weight. So I didn’t really think too much about it.

Then they mentioned a book called the “30 day vegan challenge” and that appealed to my competitive nature so I googled it and found a whole bunch of podcasts from the author on iTunes.

That night I began to listen to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau talk about veganism. About 30 minutes later I was determined to give up dairy products. As she talked, very sensibly and without much rhetoric, about not just the health aspects but also the shockingly inhuman treatment of animals I was often in tears.

I do encourage you to watch her videos on youtube and do your own research if you’re interested.
To me it was a no-brainer. I could not in good conscience consume animal products knowing that there were healthier and kinder alternatives.
I had literally turned vegan overnight.

TG was on a business trip in Australia and was doing her research (unbeknownst to me) on whether a vegan diet was healthy. She was determined to find holes in that theory and determined to prove that meat and dairy were good for you in the right amounts. She said that all the research she read pretty much backed up the fact that it was healthier to eat a plant based diet.

So, fortunately we both came to the same conclusions just via different motivations.

TBC.

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