Thursday, October 22, 2015

Identity crisis

I graduated. Months ago now. I was good at school. Always have been. And, it's taken me one train journey with a head cold to unravel and start finding meaning in all my supposedly logical and rational (note to self: redundant choice of words, sacrificing efficiency for emphasis has become a thing) decisions since birth. Or more precisely - from the time I picked the red pencil in my right hand and not my left. Yes. Seriously. Why didn't I use my left? Or, wait, why am I not ambidextrous?

So, back to the original point - now that I am out of school, what will define me? Who will the rule-abiding, prof-and-parent pleasing, sincere student that was good at math and motor design now be, in the real world? What will her real job be? To be honest, I have been at a real job for over five real months. Gotta say, the real world is pretty fun. It has its moments of real pain (and paperwork. Immigration Canada! Give me my freaking freedom back!) but mostly I really love the people I work with. Sure, I stick out like a sore, brownie thumb and my accent officially belongs in no man's land (when your friends from India think you have a N.American accent and your friends in Canada think you have a hint of a British accent and your Indian friends in N.America think your accent is from Bangalore and you think it in fact, is still very much Indian ... that's when you know your accent needs asylum status in no man's land) - BUT, I am having fun. So, what's with the whole identity crisis mode? Is it induced by the nausea of a closed train compartment dancing precariously on its wheels as it moves forward, exacerbated by the fact that my small lungs are competing for precious oxygen with large lungs of mostly male and slightly bulky strangers? Maybe!

But, I don't think it's my mild claustrophobic nature slowly showing up three hours late on a four hour train ride. (Don't get me wrong - I am grateful for the non-punctuality). What then is the cause here? I did graduate University once before and worked for a "Big 4" consulting firm before I didn't know who I was or what I was doing and started on a journey to design motors half way across the world where a white, pesky thing covers the ground 8 months of the year. The journey, of course, didn't stop with designing motors but led on to design toilets. Yep, you read that right. Toilets. And, now, I talk about toilets and telecom products in everyday conversation with black coffee and whole grain bagels. How did this happen?

WAIT! Would something else have happened if I had picked the blue pencil with my left hand?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Find it!

Find the positivity. Find the grace. Find it and hold it and cling to it like it is your lifeline and only breath of air before everything sinks. Find the silver linings. Hold them in your lungs and search for them in the bubbles and rubble of all that pours down around you. Find the bright spot in the dark clouds, listen for the sounds of the birds when the winds pick up and tear down the house around you. It is there, shhh, it is there, it is always there and it is waiting for you to reach out with both hands, bloody and shaking, and hold tight to it like it is the last thing you will ever learn how to let go. Find the glory, the glory through the ache, and understand that it is what we can endure that defines who we become. That it has never been about the punches we can throw, but the punches we can absorb and still stand up from. It is the standing up, it has always been the standing up and the refusal to lie still and quiet as the numbers count towards ten and the knockout becomes complete. Rise my soul, rise through the flame and the ash, rise through the waters that fill the spaces under your arms as the crawl towards your throat. Rise and find the grace, for it is all around you. Find it. Find the grace.

~ Tyler Knott Gregson

Thursday, January 22, 2015

This actually happened!

After a long day spent tackling a part fictitious problem for a fully real organization, Mr. D cracks me up. Of course, he has no idea why.

Mr. D: Do you speak French?
Me: Un pah!
Mr. D: Ha ha! So, you speak English and Indian?


Recruiting season was quite a hilarious ride for me. I didn't expect to enjoy it this much but the unforeseen fun I had did take me by surprise.

Recruiter: I am impressed with your accomplishments. But, your driving experience concerns me.
Me: What are you talking about? I don't have one to concern you
(Recruiter: Precisely!)


Being brown and being tan are not one and the same thing. Or, are they?

S: Hey, you look so tan!
Me: Yep, it's all year long.
S: Wow, really!


Being Indian in Quebec warrants for some strange culture clashes that later evoke laughter.

J's father kisses both my cheeks as is customary in this part of the world. I awkwardly oblige. Then, he winks and says, "You come from country where no kissing in public, no?". Of course, he knew that and yet...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Frozen Frames

There are these moments with these people. In the elevator. In a crowded train. In an empty train with no one and nothing but the space and the air molecules between you and them. When you are just about to turn down an aisle in PA on a frenzied Friday and your OCD stomps in. You stop in your tracks bringing to a momentary stop the rhythm of the collective pulse of all the shoppers. And, unapologetically holding the cart in front of you, you lean backwards to check if you have missed anything. And, in that moment, you catch their eye. Them whom you did not know lived and breathed and shared this planet until this very moment when you shared the light rays bouncing off your eye lenses. In that moment, although they are unknown to you, they cease to be unseen.

They don’t have to be a stranger. They can be the casual acquaintance with whom you deconstructed a life puzzle. If only by fortuitous timing. This morning, this happened to me. I could not have not noticed that bright sunshiny yellow jacket. Even if I had tried. They were standing there ear pods plugged in their ears and thick glasses perched on their nose. And, there was a moment’s urgent hesitation to just keep walking past them. It is the easier path. The path of least resistance. At that moment, their head turned and they could not have missed me either. Even if they had tried. We entered into a definitely genuine yet laborious exchange of pleasantries and updates about each other’s understandably exciting immediate future. Of course, there is something seductive about the impending immediacy of an un-occurred event that has not yet shattered or surpassed the built up superhuman expectations. We, then, could have promptly said goodbye and walked away. Yet, we did not.

For the next several minutes, we stood there talking about what motivated us to study our respective fields. I have a lot of time these days and I spend a lot of that in my head. So, I am reflecting on life, and connecting with others at that subliminal level, and relying on those shared moments to understand why things unravel sometimes and are just perfect some other times. It is impossible to justify my numerous decisions that are still continuously weaving themselves into a carpet of my remarkably colourful existence. An existence that makes justifications irrelevant. Maybe if I tried and maybe with some help, I will understand that. As a means to that end, I have deliberately slowed and in that I have found ways to connect. As a result, there is a collection I am slowly building up. A trove of treasured moments.   

Don’t get me wrong! I love running, too. In fact, till this point, I have been running at what might even qualify for a breakneck pace. I have devoted much of my young life on sharp productivity for sustained performance. In turn, I have flirted freely with the inevitable darkness and experienced the full force of unwieldy being. I know all too well that point. That point called giving up altogether. I am lucky and grateful that that point was not a destination. I would like to believe I have learned to stay connected, to slow and not to self-destruct.

Tonight, as I replay today, it flashes forward in slow motion, dwelling delightfully on each frozen frame. Amidst the bustle of learning a new language, figuring how to run an NGO, a passion pet project, putting down the words necessary to graduate, learning a new choreography, attempting to produce radio, and desperately trying to not break my neck or leg on an icy sidewalk, I have become of a collector of these frozen frames. I do not have all the answers. I do not know what the balance is. I am going by my gut. I am going by feel. And, right now, how this feels feels right.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

All of our selves

We are happy/ We are sad// We stay calm/ We get mad// We are eloquent/ We do fumble// We are articulate/ We also mumble//

We are gentle and savage// We are whole and damaged// We are garrulous and reserved// We are fresh and preserved// We are green and gnawed// In time, mellow and marred//

We are obtuse/ We are astute// We are sincere/ We are synthetic// We are kind/ We are cruel// We are bound/ We fly free//

We are joyful and cynical// We are casual and methodical// We are approving and critical// We are emotional and physical// We do falter and fall// In time, we' walk tall//

There are so many of us// There are so many of them// All of them in us// All of us is them// When we all deem as one// My work here is done//