Wednesday 22 July 2020

Falling in love with the lock down

Yes I know. There's a lock down and the world has stopped for most of us. It has even fallen apart for a lot of people. But life has a way of going on and giving you some unexpected joy when you least expect it. Here is one such story! It is amazing and I can't help but share it with the world.

As you know, I run Footloose No More. This means, I am all bout love & relationships. The good, the sad, the happy, the complicated, I've seen it all. And through the lock down, the stories have become even more interesting. On to the story -

Since the lock down began, we have been conducting virtual meet ups. They were meant to get people together so they could remain connected, have a few human interactions and also work as a community of people who meet once a week, virtually, to just talk about everything except work. We also hoped that people would discover each other as more than "just friends". 

And then, it happened! Girl met boy at one of the event for singles. They had a conversation since they spoke to everyone. They decided to exchange numbers. (It's easier to do this on Footloose No More since members are screened so there is an element of safety. Though I would recommend not doing this with rank strangers you meet online. Only do it when you know that there's someone who's got your back). Back to the story - They talked & talked & talked. Then they decided to meet. Since pubs, movie theaters, restaurants are all closed, they decided to go for a walk. So they met! No going out? No dressing up! No cool setting? Nothing to impress each other with. Mask? No make up! Going for a walk? Sweaty as hell! Since all trapping have been stripped off, conversations just have a way of getting real. Soon the walks became a regular affair. Things got more real! And when you've met the real person, your reservations vanish!

And that was my conversation with them today - They have decided that this is it! They are ready to tie the knot! The families have met virtually and now they are just waiting to fix the date. 

So it does happen! Go ahead! Look. Don't give up - EVER! Because it can and will happen. Keep looking, keep connecting, keep that hope alive. Want it. Expect it. It's what you deserve! Just keep your safety in mind. And when you go out in the sun, always wear sunscreen.

Friday 10 April 2020

Love in the times of lock down

Yesterday I was speaking to a friend who is “looking for a ladka” for her cousin. My friend is educated, highly progressive & great fun! The cousin in question is extremely attractive, very bright, Studied abroad, independent & a fashionista. I asked why she would not look for someone herself (trust me to put my foot in my mouth) and there was a long silence, followed by a shocked, “what?”. I backed off but it got me thinking.

Why do most Indians (some of us are different) give up on falling in love even before we begin? We study, work hard and look after our families. We know that someday we have to get married, have kids & be a large happy family. But where does that important milestone of falling in love go?
How often do we hear the words, “my parents are looking for someone” or “I am looking for someone for my brother/sister”? Even on matrimonial platforms, there are often parents or siblings who are logging in and communicating with prospective brides & grooms. Why are most of us confident that our parents will eventually find someone for us to marry?

It’s almost like it’s not part of the DNA of a large part of our population. Almost like we don’t really expect to be able to find someone for ourselves. And we often don’t expect to really fall in love and end up giving up on the butterflies in the stomach, the breathlessness, the waiting to meet & the goofy smile that connecting with someone can bring.

It is so ingrained in us that a lot of us don’t really know how to engage with the opposite gender (I know that it doesn’t apply to everyone). But social interactions, even the ones that lead to the happily ever after are a matter of practice. The more we connect, the more we polish ourselves, become more confident and sure of what we want. So interact we must! 
So during the lock down, explore online spaces where you can meet singles ( I would naturally recommend Footloose No More, but go ahead and check out everything). Connect & take that step. 

And as always, be safe!

Monday 18 November 2019

When you are best friends with your ex!

A friend of mine just started seeing a guy. He's fabulous. He's attentive, intelligent, successful, compassionate, funny, get the drift. But the relationship is in pause mode. Nope. My friend is not nuts...not completely anyway. The problem is the ex! Though not in the clingy, nasty way. She is just around too much.

Now, I am a great believer of healthy, happy relationships with the ex. A person who spends his/her time complaining and maligning the ex is definitely unattractive. But there have to be boundaries in relationships of this kind. Especially if you are looking to start a new relationship with a new person.

The problem with Mr. X is that his ex is always in the picture. There are dinners, lunches, family gatherings, long chats on the phone and constant whatsApp messages. They spend a lot of time together, which is great, since they have a son. So the excuse is that they want the son to be comfortable. But my friend is distinctly uncomfortable. They will go out for dinner and the ex will call on some pretext. They will be hanging out and the ex's uncle will drop in because he is in the area and he loves Mr. X.

To me, the kid seems like the excuse. It seems that the ex and Mr. X still have a relationship going. They don't seem to have accepted that they are now divorced and have separate lives. And why should they? It's perfect! You are not married anymore but you have the best of both worlds. You are independent and yet together.

But my friend is set to bolt. Naturally! She feels like it's a relationship with both of them. She likes the ex but feels it's not fair to her. She wants a life where they are together without the 3rd wheel. She wants Sundays where she can take the son out with him. She wants to play the step mother. She loves the kid. But the kid isn't willing to accept her. He sees her as the vamp who is standing between his parents.

It isn't fair to the kid either. He is still thinking the parents will get together. It is tough enough to have your parents separate without having to deal with this weekend of complete family happiness followed by lonely days when daddy is not part of your life.

The question is, how do you have a new relationship while still having the old one? And how do you help your child deal with it without lulling him in to a false sense of security? How much is too much?

In my opinion, Mr. X certainly needs to lay down boundaries. And if that is too much, he should accept that it isn't over and give it another try. Who knows what a little thinking may bring.

Meanwhile, when you get into a relationship with someone, make sure you're not just the back up or 3rd wheel in your own relationship!

Tuesday 16 July 2019

How to win a girl - a man's point of view.

Long ago, I wrote a post on "how to win a girl" from a woman's point of view. Now we have an article from a man's point of view. This one has been written by Kedar Anil Gadgil, whom we know to be practical and wise. And he should know, he wooed the most amazing lady by being himself (or so we think). Read on -

Men need to be MEN for women to be impressed.

unfortunately, the only 'manly' things some men tend to do have gone out of fashion with the invention of fire and they end up looking like boors and neanderthals...that is what they think 'being manly' is about...loud talking, being aggressive, using vulgar language, having body odour & dirty nails, and considering that there are only two states a woman can be: mother/sister or lover. any other state (like 'friend', 'professional', even simply 'human') is unthinkable.

and even more unfortunately, still other men think that being politically and socially correct means letting go of their manhood, and becoming more and more shy, effeminate and scared of showing their inner man in public, especially in mixed company

both the above types abound in our society and though, through FLNM's tight controls, you manage to keep out the former, what it does is brings in the latter. men who are afraid to be men. as you must have realised that most men do not understand the words, 'golden mean' and sway and oscillate between being boorish and sissy from time to time

most men, however, forget that there is a way to be a 'man' without being a neanderthal. the one manly thing that has not gone out of fashion is 'taking charge' and men who cannot do this can expect little in return, unless they are looking for a kiran bedi or a benazir bhutto (ok, that was a joke!)...but on a more serious note, men who are single must realise that being a 'man of action' is what attracts the ladies, and most women, or at least the ones they want to be with, will be put off with either of the two extremes. men need to take charge, sally & go forth without seeming to overwhelm or harass. this is a fine art and like other fine arts, can only be mastered through practice. for this, the men have to be prepared to take an occasional 'no', and need to learn where the thin line is. but then, if it is an art, and one need practice, how does one get practice without getting slapped in the process?

now, here comes the important point: intent. as the saying goes, "there are no good men, only good intentions". one needs to approach the issue with good intentions. if these are honourable, chances are, even if you make a mistake, you will not have gone down a point of no return and can easily extricate yourself gracefully. if you approach a woman with an intent to befriend, get to know her better and maybe see if it might work out, you are already a winner, regardless of whether it works or not. you will always come out with your head held high and some new lessons learnt. if you approach a woman with a less than honourable intent, i cannot be sure whether it will work or not, but i can guarantee that if it goes wrong, it will go terribly wrong. so, i feel that men who are scared of the consequences of being a man of action or of taking charge, are also unsure of their intent, since they probably imagine how it might end badly, calculate the odds, and stay away. on the other hand, men who approach the issue with honourable intentions rarely fear things going wrong, and are hence, more confident in their attitude and impress women

it all boils down to what you think about women and how you treat them. what you want out of them flows directly from this attitude. so, my advice to men: introspect what you want and how you look at the opposite sex. change what you need to change to make sure you have the right objective in mind when looking at another human. the right expectations and honourable intentions, coupled with a 'take charge' attitude will get you where you want to faster than you can imagine.

Kedar Anil Gadgil

When Harry Met Sally

Once upon a time, Harry met Sally. Then they married other people. Then they got divorced. Met again but did nothing because, "OMG! We've known each other too long." And that was it. We watched a film about 2 idiots and the film was crap, even if it's the story of most of us!

But I do know a real life Harry and Sally. Recently single, they are consumed by analysis paralysis. Both thinking about it, putting obstacles in their way and doing nothing. While the rest of us are watching the chemistry, wanting to shout, "just get on with it!"

The problem is the analysis paralysis.
He says, "Oh! It's complicated." And we wonder what is complicated. You're single, she's single - where's the complication?

She says, "I've known him all my life. We really get along." Clearly that's a problem. You are friends with someone you hate. No? Oh wait! You like him!

He says, "I know her ex." "You are friends with him?", we ask. "No. I haven't been in touch with him since he vamoosed from her life." Dodo! You're friends with her! You were tolerating the ex because he was married to her. Now he's gone. Ask her out already!

She says, "I like him too much to do this." Wow! We didn't know you were planning to murder him. Because if you like him, go out with him, for God's sake!

"I don't know how she feels." Ask her, you goof!

"What if it doesn't work out?", she says. "What if it does?", we ask.

All I want to say is, sometimes we just complicate stuff in our own heads and lose out on the good stuff. And some of the best relationships start out as friendships. Because isn't it better to be friends first so there is something to keep you together apart from what you do in bed?

So please, Harry and Sally, get out of your own way and do something. And put us out of our misery! Remember, Harry and Sally managed to survive the declaration.

Tuesday 2 July 2019

Whose fault is it anyway?

I live in Mumbai, and as it happens every year, the city has flooded again! Everyone is busy cursing the BMC and the authorities. And I do agree that a large part of it is due to plain inefficiency and corruption. But I do accept blame on behalf of my fellow citizens. Let me tell you a story...

Yesterday, as I was out for my evening walk, a handsome young man, probably in his late teens or early twenties, stepped out of his long, swanky car and dumped a styrofoam plate on the side of the road. 10 steps away from his scene of "crime" stood a forlorn, unused dustbin! But then, everyone knows that when you drive a high end car, you don't go near dustbins! Scenes like this aren't uncommon.

Once, while traveling in a cab, I had a dear friend, my fellow passenger, toss out orange peels on the road. When I objected, her answer was, "Do you expect me to keep it in my bag?" I said yes, she called me a dirty "ganwar" who liked to hang on to trash and never spoke to me again!

These are people who are "educated" (I'd call them "literate only", but then I'm a "ganwar" who carries trash home or puts it in the nearest dustbin). These are also people who go abroad and come back singing about the beauty and cleanliness of these foreign lands. They don't travel within India because it "dirty." But would they have the courage to throw plastic plates and orange peels on the streets there?

You love the beaches in Greece? Try throwing garbage!

We did this

She eats our trash

I grew up in Nainital. It was clean and beautiful. Then came people with their trash!

We contributed to this

Let's accept it! It's our own fault. We think dustbins are beneath us. And trash needs to be picked up by someone else, even if that's a human being exactly like us with equal right to dignity!

We've failed miserably! We've failed to teach our children. We've failed to teach ourselves. We don't know the meaning of "clean", "hygiene" or "beauty." Look around you. See what nature has given us. And how dirty we have made it. Got a beach? Let's litter! Majestic mountains? Oh! Let me fish out those plastic bottles. The drains just got cleaned? Let me break out my trash and restore it to normal! We may be the highest tax paying city in the country, but dirt is in our blood, our minds, our nature. We love it! What would we do without it? Below are pictures from India of places where we could live. And there are pictures of what we have made of them. Choose your favourite after you have figured out if you have been guilty of throwing trash where it doesn't belong.

So let's say proudly, "This is my country" and go back to our muck and dirt. More power to us!

Both these pictures are of India and this is where we should be living. And hey! We made it to a top 10 list by claiming 7 places! Three cheers for us!

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Rheumatism - Living with an invisible illness

I have it - rheumatoid arthritis. It's invisible - I look like a normal healthy person, it's not treatable - I will have it forever (as of now), it's common - along with a lot of other similar illnesses like firbromalgia, lupus, cancer, thyroid...the list goes on, it is debilitating in part, and yet I have learnt to manage it. It's not easy, but anyone who has any of these, learns to live with it. And before you say things like, "but you are too young to have arthritis", it has no age limit. These illnesses can happen to anyone. So I did nothing wrong, i didn't bring it upon myself, a little exercise or diet or losing weight or a positive outlook will not cure it. But this post is not about educating anyone about it. This is for those who have it. It's equally important for you to read if you know someone who has it. Because this is tough for anyone in contact with the illness, directly or indirectly.

On this one, let's talk about the ones who have it. Next week, I will write another one for those who have family & friends who have it.

If you have it or suspect that you do, please go to a doctor. And Google is not a doctor. I've never seen it's medical degree. Rely on google to find support groups (and you do need them), but do not convince yourself that you have it or can treat yourself.

When I was diagnosed with it, my 1st reaction was, "Oh crap!". Followed by "it's not possible". Then "why me." Then "what did I do wrong?" Then "My life is screwed!"

So yes! Oh crap is about right. There was a lot of disbelief and helplessness. And of course, refusal to accept it! I wouldn't tell anyone. I'd pretend I was just tired or that the twins had kept me up all night. Slowly I accepted that I did have it. And then it became easier. I changed my lifestyle (the ode to diet & exercise). I went from being a runner & gym junkie, dancing 5 nights a week in high heel, to a yoga follower. I ditched the heels, took my meds regularly and thought I'd be fine. I wasn't. The pain wouldn't go away!

I learned to live with constant pain. It's tough. My feet tell me to sit, to stop putting my weight on them. My fingers tell me to stop opening those bottles. But my kids are small, my work is physical, I need to travel a lot and spend hours on my feet, and I learned to manage.

The toughest part is the mind. The teaching yourself that bad days may be many, but there will be good days.

Lady Gaga has it.

Lucille Ball had it.

But even tougher are the ones who have no idea of what you have or a battling and are eager to dispense knowledge or lack thereof! (Remember the ones telling me to stop being lazy! Just do some weights everyday and your arms will be toned). You will have these ones too. Some will be close friends, some family and some well meaning random strangers you've just met! Ignore them. Smile politely and move on. It takes practice. I wanted to scream at them. But you can do it.

The positive outlook! Yes! That is important. You have to not give in! There is pain, for sure. But your mind is sharp as ever. Use it to tell yourself that you can still live your life normally. I do! I run with my kids on good days, I still dance, go on holidays and go for walks. I went paragliding, kayaking, trekking on good days. And I lay in bed and moped on bad. it's OK to do both. On bad days, I look like shit and that's OK. I found make up for those days (that's my coping mechanism. You will find yours). On good days, I'm unstoppable.

Find support. Ask for it. In my case it's my family. My in laws carried my kids for over 2 kilometers on a holiday in Bali. I would never have managed that holiday without them. I explained, they understood and supported. My parents, though they can't do much physically, are always around to make me laugh. My husband! It's probably toughest on him. Suddenly he has a wife who can't sleep, can't go on long walks with him and complains a lot. He learned to plan, adapt and change to suit my "pain of the day." It's tougher on the kids. They are 5 yrs old and can't understand why mom won't carry them or run after them. I am teaching them as best a I can. And now they give me the meds and slow down for me.

Managing it is about asking for support. Remember we are talking about an invisible illness. Which means that people can't see it. They think you are fine. So tell them (at least the ones who matter). Ask for help. Tell them how you feel. And understand that they may have had days of their own. Eat well, rest and trust that doctor.

But above all, treat yourself with a lot of kindness. You know what you are going through. Help yourself heal. It's not your fault and you don't need to be a super hero all the time.

And if you still have questions, ask me! I'm happy to answer or even let you just gripe to me. Now go. Love yourself.

Holiday with the crazies