Mum’s The Problem.

All of us know the impact our parents have on us. More often than not, their needs become our needs, their insecurities become our insecurities and their baggage becomes our baggage. In this whirlwind of emotions, it is easy to forget that parents themselves have learned these behaviors and are empathic human beings who may be willing to unlearn it for the sake of their children.

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Recently I have met a Professor of Psychotherapy, a Consultant Psychiatrist and a GP – all parents of children lost to mental illnesses. Here’s what one mum says:

“Whenever I have seen a therapist, they have gone straight to my childhood, my up-bringing, my parents and their parents. All my behaviours and feelings seem to be explained and understood based on their behaviours, however ‘normal’, for their times. I am encouraged to think of all the ways in which they could have directly or indirectly damaged me.

By that principle, all of my child’s behaviours and feelings should be explained and understood based on the behaviours of his parents. Half of them is me. I agree. I must be part of the problem. My profession is perceived as a bigger problem. ‘High achieving Asian’ parents are assumed to put a lot of pressure on their children. So much so, the…

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What Does It Mean To Be A Wannabe?

I don’t know how many of you really remember what it was like to be in high school, but I’m sure most of you can relate to this: Remember the times in school when kids used to want to be a part of the popular group? I bet the popular kids themselves had their own insecurities to deal with. Now that I sit back and think of it, I’m realizing how influenced we were by our self-image and the labels that were attributed to us. I remember being different labels at different points in time. I believe I transitioned between the loner, the nerd, the sweet kid, the popular one, the distant one, the friendly/charming, all at different times. And I’m comfortable with all of them; Because, of course, I felt like that at different points in time. There were kids that were popular- kids that I liked very much because, irrespective of the status quo, they were nice people! I remember not caring as much about wanting to be a part of the label- I had issues of my own. Depression and anxiety are exhausting to deal with! But I remember struggles around the same issues of self-esteem while I yearned for a sense of acceptance and belonging as well.

Adolescence is the time children need the most amount of validation in their life. They are most vulnerable, everything’s changing, that their need for acceptance is the highest at this point. I remember destructive labels such as ‘desperate’, ‘wannabe’, ‘lame’, ‘easy’, ‘slutty’, ‘bitchy’, ‘creepy’, ‘needy’ being used to describe people. tenor.0I kinda feel bad for being a part of it 😬 Anyhow! Those days are long gone behind us! We are all mature adults now. Right? Or, are we? 😅  As I and my roommate got into a spirited discussion about what being a wannabe means, we uncovered a very amusing trail of thoughts! Her point of view was: “But everybody is a wanna be right?”
“Wut?!” I blinked confused. This woman clearly had no concept of what a wannabe was or what it meant to be called one.
“Dude! A WANNABE is Someone who wants to be something they are not. Like they try to act famous when they’re not or they try to be cool when they’re not.”
Then she says:
“But nobody’s famous until they are. And how do you know they are not cool? In their minds they are! So how can you be the judge of that?!”
I blinked some more. This was getting ridiculous.
“Dude… You’re not getting it!! A wannabe is someone who does something because it is trendy. They are only into it because it is popular. They don’t know anything or know very little, about what the trend is. At the same time, they will talk a big game and make it sound like they know what they are talking about. That’s lame right?”

She casts me an annoyed look as if wondering why I’m this shallow while I frantically rammed my brains to understand what I was getting wrong. Then she slowly says “Dude. Everybody’s a wannabe, right? You may think that that person has no fashion sense, but in their mind, they’re doing their best to learn about makeup and explore their own style, and there’s no rule against that. Is there? And that kid who’s trying to be a social media influencer- maybe at this point he doesn’t seem to be gaining publicity, but he has his own ideas and innovation. How can you propagate individualism and creativity when you cannot accept that fact that there are going to be people better than you or worse than you at the task that you are trying to achieve. And till the time that you don’t achieve it – that title, position, career break, whatever – you will be a wannabe, right? A wannabe athlete, a wannabe model, a wannabe film star, a wannabe artist. You’re also a wannabe writer, aren’t you?”

I stared at her open-mouthed as words refused to escape my wannabe face.

So I slowly clapped at her instead!

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I Think I Want To Be A Therapist

I think I want to be a therapist. Because:

  1. I want to work with people, but in a way that I feel involved with their lives.giphy
  2. I want to have a personal relationship with my clients.
  3. I want to work with them in a way that touches their lives.

I remember when I was a really small kid, one of my aunts(Bebo Mausi) got diagnosed with schizophrenia. I had gone to Delhi for my internship and was staying with my aunt and uncle for the summer. They dropped me off at my relatives as they were going out of town for the weekend. Bebo Mausi was visiting these relatives at the time. I had seen a lot of her when I was younger, and schizophrenia-CARTOON-301863I remember what she was like before she got diagnosed. I was excited to see her and the others but I didn’t really know how to be around her. As we approached the house and kept ringing at the doorbell, we felt annoyed that no one was opening the door. After a couple of knocks, I see Bebo Mausi opening the wooden door on the inside but she wouldn’t open the front door. She kept peeking at us horrified. “Hi Mausi!” I said. “Kaise Ho?” (How are you? In Hindi). “Kaun hai?!” (Who is it?) she says. I look at her amused. She knows me. She’s met me. MULTIPLE times! I say “Shruti!”, she says “Chale jao! Mujhe nahi pata!” (“I don’t know you! Just leave.”)

Now, this was getting ridiculous. After a decade of playing Uno and chit chat, that is NOT the way to treat someone :/ “Are Kya hua! Darwaza Kholo Na!” (What happened? Open the door!). “Nahi! woh log mujhe chor ke chale jaye. Tum jao. Mujhe nahi kholna.” (I don’t want to open the door! They left me alone. Please leave!) Again, I looked a her annoyed at the absurdness. I hung around some more but my uncle had to leave. “Usko bolo jane ko!”(Ask him to leave) she kept yelling at him- which I found really rude and annoying because she’s known him practically all her life! “I think I should go,” sweet uncle says. “It’s okay, I’ll be fine” I reassured him.

Apparently, my relatives had to head out for a family event and had left my aunt behind because she gets angsty around a lot of people. group-therapy_o_4093561As I hung around, kicked at my suitcase and hummed songs, waiting for my relatives to come back and let me in, dear aunt and I got to chatting. It was funny to talk through the netted outer door to her, but I thought it was kinda fun. I started asking her what she was up to and she told me she had been watching her favorite series and making some coffee when the lights tripped temporarily. Now, given her condition, worry for us is full-blown paranoia for her. She was alone and scared and panicked really bad. She tried calling them multiple times but as they were in a function, they did not hear her frantic cries. She was thus really scared and annoyed and couldn’t bear to let anyone in. In that moment of manic, it was hard for her to recognize people and think. I melted slowly inside.

“What other series do you like?” I asked. She named a string of Hindi series that I had no idea about but I smiled and laughed at her descriptions and kept egging her on to talk about things she likes anyway. After a couple of minutes, she says, “you must be hungry right??”. “I kind of am…” I say. “Do you want to come in? I can make you a sandwich.” “Only if you’re okay with that! I would love to eat some sandwich”. She opens the door to let me in as I strut towards the living room with my luggage. She makes a dash to the kitchen, prepares a really nice cheese and vegetable sandwich and makes some of her famous coffee as well! We sit down at the dining table and chat like we used to while I eat. I smile at her fondly as she animatedly tells me about her life, wishing that she wouldn’t have to live with moments of terror and pain like she did. Even though so much has changed, I still love her I guess. She’s my aunt! You know? ❤ And she’s a wonderful person!

Two days later, when my uncle came to pick me up, he asked me how I’d managed to get in that day. Impressed, he says “you’re really good at this. you should do this for a living”. “Be a therapist?” I smirk, amused. “Think of all the people you’d help,” he says. I breathe slowly, wondering how I seem to be talented at everything apart from my engineering degree :/  ALthough, xdownload-3.jpg.pagespeed.ic.7hLXEWUJXbI have been in therapy for almost three years now, in the past few months I’ve experienced some shifts that have felt truly powerful. And for that, I’m grateful. It’s like a change in my lense, and now I can see better! 🙂 Having had some immensely vulnerable sessions with my therapist, I have been grateful to experience the growth I did. People think you need to be ill to go to therapy. Cliche as it sounds, do you need to fall ill to go to the gym? No, right? They why wait for your emotional muscles to wither and strain before you decide that its time to take care of yourself? The mind and body are connected, more than we’d like to admit. In fact, emotional pain often hurts much more than physical pain. It’s a fact! Your psychological health alters your brain chemistry, which in turn is bound to impact your energy levels, sleep cycle, temperament, and much more.

It’s so sad to see that something so basic as emotional hygiene is not taught to us in school. We can learn integral and differential calculus, but nobody wants to help us to understand our emotions better.  They’re there for a reason so that they can guide you towards being true to yourself. Dismissing them or suppressing them does not help. It only makes matters worse. In today’s day and age, there are so many engineers, doctors, writers, artists. But not enough mental health professionals. It makes me sad sometimes. The power of therapy is phenomenal. anigif_enhanced-11293-1449608655-9The healing power of our minds is commendable. Trust me, I know. I’m one of those people who was blessed with guidance and help at the right time. I love working on myself. I’m obsessed with it. My therapist calls me a ‘good student’, cause I study and make notes and hang on to every word of professional advice she shares. It has changed my life entirely. I feel a sense of health and vitality that I haven’t in years. And often in the light of day, when I’m writing or working on a mental health workbook or trying to convince a friend to go to therapy, I quietly wonder to my self: Could this really be my ‘calling’?

Who knows ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We’ll find out I guess. All ‘I’ know is…

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Hotel Mumbai

I did not plan on writing this post. I’m not going to edit it. I’m not going to design it. I’m going to write because I need to- I’d hate myself if I didn’t. This is not a movie review. I do not write movie reviews. Please don’t read the post if you haven’t seen the movie as it may have spoilers. I’m writing this post because I need to get it out of my system. I’m mourning and I feel a wave of word vomit I can not control.

Almost ten years ago on the remorseful fay of 26/11 Mumbai was subject to a brutal terrorist attack that took a jab at all of our hearts in a way that still hurts. As the survivors and loved ones of the demised mourne and heal from their losses, it still feels like yesterday, what happened a decade ago. Watching the attacks reported live on television was one of the most horrific things I had experienced. Have spent a large part of my childhood in Mumbai, I remembered the busy city for its life and vibrance. Watching it subject to such assault was a painful experience. I exhale slowly as I remember it. My parents spent a large part of their life in Mumbai. We moved out when I was in middle school but still have close friends and family there that we visit yearly. I remember wondering when the CST station was bombed if my creche aunty was there. I was relieved to know that she wasn’t. My childhood friend – Nikita Dabale, who I’ve known my entire life- from the time we learned to walk and ran around in pampers, still lived in Mumbai for years after. Although Santacruz was not targetted, at the time the blasts were happening, nobody knew where the next target was going to be. I was so relieved to know that she was fine. People called their friends and family for assurance.

The movie Hotel Mumbai did a stunning job of showcasing the traumatically gripping events that occurred in the bombings. They concentrated on the three out of twelve coordinated shootings that happened across Mumbai which showed a series of interlinked events. They started with the CST bombing, onto Leopold Cafe and then Taj.

The scene where people rush from the station and cafe into Taj, beating at its doors and begging for entry was the start of a scared shudder. The hotel staff heroically let the people in to protect them and as the shootings proceed the staff tried to call all the guests to warn them to stay in their rooms. I thought this was a very important part to show how devoted the staff felt towards their guests. Since Taj is one of the most exorbitant hotels in India, a vast majority of guests were larger than life public figures, businessmen and international clients.

As the day proceeded, the terrorists moved from floor to floor, luring out guests and brutally mutilating them in the name of vengeance as the staff tried to sneak as many people out as they could. The scene where Anupam Kher, a famous Bollywood actor who plays head chef of the hotel in the movie, collects his staff and informs them of the security concerns, extending them the empathy of staying to help the guests or leave if they wanted instead was a very dignified way of showing compassion and vulnerability in the face of danger. The painful story of the Indian-American family who gets 

separated because of the painful events also got the audience teary-eyed. Armand Douglas Hammer, an American actor who played a lead role alongside British-Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi in this Indian-American pair stole hearts with his piercing blue eyes and passionate valor towards protecting his family. In the entire movie, he and his wife try to work their way out of the hotel with their friend who does her best to protect their baby boy Cameron. The scene where he gets shot right in front of Nazanin while she is screaming traumatically only to look at the shooter in the eye and recite prayers over his lifeless body was the most intense scene in the movie.

This scene with Nazanin and her husband’s shooter was particularly important because: Throughout the movie, they show the terrorist attack being planned by a group which sought vengeance in the name of religion. At this point when the shooter comes face to face with Nazanin, who is Indian and also Muslim, he is conflicted about whether he should shoot her not. In his fight for his religion, the terrorist does not find it in his conscience to shoot her as it would feel like a sin.mumbai-attack-story_647_030616044923 But his mentor, the lead terrorist who has brainwashed the entire troop to believe that this attack has an ulterior holy motive, tries to coax him into shooting her because she is an abomination. In this moral conflict, the terrorist decides to listen to his inner conscience and leaves her alive; showing that he is only human. Another powerful scene when one of the terrorists calls his father in the midst of the bombing attacks to tell his family that he loves them and hopes that they have received the money the ‘lead terrorist’ has promised them shows that at the end of the day, they were the very flawed and misguided boys they were shown to be; They were brainwashed into going to unspeakable lengths for their religion and to provide for their families.

The courage exhibited by the hotel staff that stayed back to help the guests spoke volumes about the bravery and dedication these people had. Both central characters Anupam Kher and Dev Patel played a crucial role in helping the hostages out of the hotel. Anupam Kher is the head chef of the hotel and ensured safe refuge for the guests in the secret harbor. He sported nerves of steel in the face of mass hysteria and panic and consistently strived to keep the guests safe and protected from the attackers.1547091072-csfed He did so by taking them to a secret chamber and keeping their location hidden. Dev Patel, on the other hand, played a crucial role in supporting Anupam Kher by being his steady right hand through the crisis. He put his neck on the line to save injured victims and guide stranded hostages to the safe haven of the chambers. His devotion to the safety of the guests helped pacify the hostages and contain the panic. The sentiment with which he was ready to put his life on the line for his country and people really spoke volumes to the songs of Sikh valor we have heard about. It takes pure passion and patriotism to perform a feat so heroic.

As the movie went on through the second half I found myself covering my face to stop my self from gasping at the apathy within the shootings. I dug my nails into the back of my neck as I felt my self overwhelm and panic at the turn of events so that I don’t let out a terrified scream. As the climax comes around where they gather the hostages into one room I find my self slowing praying ‘Allah rehem’ (Lord have mercy) under my breath (which is odd because I’m agnostic and I’m not Muslim). I broke down sobbing into my friend’s mother’s arms as the hostages were shot down one by one and couldn’t contain myself from the trauma of the events that occurred until the credits rolled in.

To Gay, Or Not To Gay, Is That A Question?

“So! Is He… in your class??” I said
“Yes,” said Chuddy Buddy
“Is He… from this city?” I asked
“Yes,” she said
“Does He plan on going to the same University as you??”
Chuddy buddy smiled hesitantly and said…
“She. It’s a She.”

“I! Uh. What?! Um. You should have told me earlier!” I gushed.
“I didn’t know how you’d take it” She said. “But now I do!”
We smiled.

True story!

One of my very close friends from childhood came out to me when we were in college. It was a divine moment for both of us. I’d never felt so loved and trusted to be shared such an intimate secret with. And it is a secret that I hold close to my heart with pride.
We were kids when we first met. Watching the same cartoons, reading the same books, spending weekends playing in each others house. Both of us grew up to be potter heads and had a love for arts and lust for languages.

When she confided in me, all I could think about was how incredible this news was!! I was so happy that she was gay 😂 Because gay to most people was a very distorted representation of homosexuality. And I couldn’t think of a cooler person that I knew to break that stereotype. I understand that homosexuality has been a sensitive topic to talk about, but we as a generation are better than that. In our times of information and evolution, we can choose to change these narky perceptions with a little bit of help.

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Being able to say “I’m not straight” is objectively one of the most terrifying experiences all not-so-straight people have. I remember my friend telling me how it would worry her sick that things would just change. Even if your friends and family are accepting of your reality, they might look at you a different way. It is also a worry that one has to carry constantly with every move they make. Every time they change a place or make new friends, they have to come out all over again. It’s tough.

Even though most people are not consciously homophobic, a lot of times we just don’t know what the best way is to react to this new information. Many friends may not be outright aggressive, but passive aggressive comments such as

“There was something in his voice… I just knew he was gay!” are pretty ridiculous.

Not to say, that stereotypes are not completely true! I’d met this charming gentleman who became a fond friend at a workshop. On finding out about his sexuality, I had mentioned that I suspected so, but did not want stereotypical mannerisms to be the basis of my assumption. He then corrected me and said, “Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason Shruti.” While some gay people do blend with behavioral stereotypes such as dressing a certain way and speaking a certain way, there are others who seem completely… “normal”. You wouldn’t know unless they tell you. Like my friend!

But here’s the catch, right? Who defined normal?

My very smart cousin often says “What is ‘NORMAL’ anyway?!” Capture
As we all hopefully know, sexuality is a spectrum.

Male Female
Masculine Feminine
Straight Gay
Men like Women, Women like Men

That’s a very binary way of looking at things. It’s very black and white. And human beings are much more complex than that. Our minds don’t understand 0s and 1s when it comes to our identities. Which is why we shouldn’t be forced to belong to this “box” that is created for us.

“The world is heteronormative”, she said. Everything is fixed. People have such fixed views of looking at things. When a teacher teases her students in the class, she always asks things like “So, girls.. what kind of a guy do you like?!” or “Guys, what would you say if you met a pretty girl”. Nobody thinks about asking a girl if she’d like to meet another pretty girl. I’m sure there are plenty of us!

Everyone is at least a little gay, is what one would think.

Due to the heteronormative norm, even those who are curious about their inclinations get stunted in their approach. It’s really hard to explore and understand yourself when there is so much stigma around. I had a bi-curious friend who confided in me that she liked an acquaintance. “Ask her out!” I said. She did. And she got shot down with a reply that said: “What would be the point of giving it a try? It’s not like there would be any future for us anyway”. People joke about moving to other western countries where gay relationships are legal. People put music videos of unrequited gay love in classrooms as a joke. It’s sad that we can only imagine acceptance and freedom in humor. I think we need to reach a point where the ‘rightness’ of homosexuality should not be a debate anymore. We should move past it.

Tons of people would benefit from this. And, tons of people would prefer to be gay as opposed to being ‘straight’ as well! I know my friend does. She likes both genders and says:
It’s inevitable! Women are so much better than men, In terms of 0dd920c2b998ccf77c44cd8ae0691c65--lucky-quotes-gay-quoteshuman tolerability and emotional quotient. Women are treated as default as the ‘other sex’ and men as the ‘stronger sex’. It’s not necessary.  Really. Women are so much better than men. It’s sad that I have to be attracted to both. I wish I was only attracted to women.

Talk about Happy and Gay 😀

Spread love ❤️

 

Let’s Talk About Me

mee

Who am I?
Having lived in five different countries, I’m a cultural mix. Spice of the east, a toss of the west wishing to be a part of the European. I can read and write four different languages. I have been an avid reader and travel enthusiast my entire life. I am an empath who often feels lost and confused about where I belong. I’m on my way of figuring out what that means and will let you know once I find out. I did my schooling partly in the middle east and partly in India. I went to India to pursue my Engineering degree while my family moved to Indonesia and then Singapore. I am currently in New York, pursuing my Graduate degree in Business and Analytics. I belong to a family of Engineers, Writers, Teachers, Linguists, Therapists, and Philanthropists. I’ve had the privilege of living with people who belong to different disciples of education and that has influenced my world view of work, travel, and education. Right now, I am at a point in my life where I want to give my self the opportunity to grow and explore my talent as a writer, photographer, cook, and a travel enthusiast. That’s my picture on the top 🙂
Why does writing mean to me?
Well- writing to me is very meditative. It’s an easy way to put my thoughts down into words and express what myself within the comfort of my solitude. When I write, I also do not feel pressured or watched, which gives me the space to be myself. Thus, it’s a very powerful platform for me to share my experiences and talk about things that matter to me.
What do I want to achieve with this blog?
I’ve realized that I’ve used humor my whole life to cope with absurd situations. Reading piles and piles of Harry Potters and P. G. Woodhouse has empowered me with a combination of imagination and tongue-in-cheek humor that I use to express myself.
I have dabbled with writing and journaling dozens of times before, but have never committed to it. Hopefully, this time will be different.
Said the same two lines in a whole different light, didn’t I?? 😉