Monthly Archives: January 2014

Being Independent

This column first appeared in The Goan on Saturday and coincidentally, happens to be my 100th blogpost. Also, if you relate to this story, don’t forget to share it with the rest 🙂 

During the last week, I came across a number of quotes on happiness. Coincidentally, I also signed up to #100HappyDays, a campaign being run on social media platforms that’s encouraging people to share one thing that bred happiness for 100 days in a row.

One evening, a hostelite was sharing with me how happy she’s been after moving to Bombay. I couldn’t agree more! This city has not lost its charm. But there was one feature in particular that she focused on — being independent.

Undoubtedly, live a year in Bombay and you will develop this skill which is only refined every time you stand up for yourself. Being independent gives us the freedom to do whatever we want without worrying about what my neighbour has to say about it.

To cite an example, one of my friends Rachana from Mangalore relocated to Bombay to craft a career for herself. When she took a break to see her family back home, one afternoon, she walked to the nearest KFC and enjoyed a meal by herself. When she told this to her parents, they were stunned. This is what Bombay does to the many of us. You feel like gobbling down some ‘paani puri’, you don’t need company for that. Scout around for a street stall, and enjoy the snack!

Another advantage of being independent is that you are not accountable to anyone. Your plans don’t depend on anyone else’s plan. You can pack you bag and take off whenever you think you need a break. Again, an independent person doesn’t normally need to wait for someone to come up to him/ her and suggest that s/he needs to take a break.

Come to think of it, the pros of being independent will run into pages. What I love most about being independent is that it relieves us from feelings of guilt because all decisions are taken by us and if we go wrong; we have no one to blame but us.

Invariably, we the people of Bombay are assumed to be emotionless. It’s actually not what everyone thinks it is. After a point, the city teaches you how to seal your emotions and carry on like the suburban trains do. These gigantic worms don’t wait for anyone; if you’re late by a second, you will miss the train. Then wait for another one to grace the platform.

But being independent isn’t all hunky-dory. If you fall into an open drainage, you will have to struggle your way back out of it. At times, discipline goes off track. But as long as you can peep into optimism, and treat these situations as a learning experience, we’re good to continue our ride.

Self-reliance is what many Goans in Bombay have learnt after they were thrown into the sea of chaos. Bombay gives you two options — you can either learn to swim your way out or let it overwhelm you and drown. Most of us choose the former because it teaches us how to take control of our destiny and be ourselves.

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Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Oh Velim, where’s all the fun of yore?

(This column was first published in The Goan on Saturday on January 14, 2013)

11 days into the New Year and how many resolutions have already suffered a breakdown? I’m sure, not many. Surprisingly, (unlike every year that has passed by) I’ve made only one solid resolution this year. And I didn’t think of it until I visited Velim, a village in Salcete, where I was born and partially raised.

On January 2, 2014, I went to visit my grandmother and other relatives in Velim to offer my good wishes for the New Year. As I walked through the empty lanes I felt as if I was strolling through a graveyard. My brother Luke accompanied me, and didn’t seem to be as flabbergasted as I was while we ambled through the streets. Luke was only a year old when we relocated to Cuncolim, which in turn has resulted to a limited memory about the calm village.

If anyone walked through these lanes some 15 years ago, they would have been welcomed by children running around playing a game or cycling and some simply watching their friends play. Parents would be sitting in their veranda, sipping tea and passing a comment or a chain of comments while they still had their eyes on their little ones. But this is not what I saw during my last visit. All I saw was tall houses, coconut tress swaying to a tune the breeze was playing, rustle of leaves, and cars and bikes parked in front of houses. No cycles.

As my eyes observed, my ears didn’t have to strain to grasp any kind of noise. Behind closed doors, I could hear televisions sets screech something coupled with mild laughter of women. Birds chirruped as though they had been commissioned to cover up for the kids who weren’t playing outdoors.

After walking past a dozen houses, I arrived at a distant relative’s house. Once upon a time, this particular balcony used to create the most amount of noise in the locality. For many years, Aunty Mercy would take tuitions and you can imagine the noise! As soon as we got permission to leave, we would go home; gulp down the cuppa tea and off we went to create brouhaha!

On this day, Aunty Mercy sat with a neighbour discussing the days that went by. Gradually, even I got roped into the conversation. And I couldn’t stop myself from expressing how much I am repelled by technology that’s breeding such consequences. Taking turns, these elderly women began complaining about how kids don’t play football anymore because they are glued to those little gadgets and how no kids go around wishing the elders on important feasts. I couldn’t help, but believe every word they said.

As they talked, thoughts about my generation and the younger generations started cycling in my head. I imagined what would happen if there were no mobile phones, tablets, laptops or desktops. And my imagination concluded that life would be tougher, but nicer if gadgets didn’t do a dance around us. Everyone would perhaps be more concerned about their neighbour and kids would be doing what I did when I was a kid.

This 25-minute conversation convinced me to make a resolution – to be grateful for technology, without blurring the lines between the digital world and real world.

On this note, I wish you a happy, prosperous and fun-filled 2014.

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