Fighting like a girl



Musings of a Newbie in Mumbai


Photo Credit: National Geographic


“Job Offer” read the subject of an email I had been waiting to receive for over two months. I finally had a job in Bombay- a city I’d wanted to move to for two years. I was ecstatic, and then of course, terrified. You see, I have a special knack for always finding the bad in the good, but never vice versa. How would I ever pay rent AND afford to eat on my salary? What if I don’t make any friends? What if I’m terrible at my job?

A month into my stay in Bombay, I don’t think I’m too bad at my job, but I continue to worry- about money, the future, relationships…to name a few. Though I have to admit, the city is slowly wearing my cynicism down.

Every evening after work, I take a short walk by the sea (yup, I live close to the sea- thanks to some VERY good luck and an extremely kind landlady). It’s the favourite part of my evening- the rest of which is spent Netflixing.

I look forward to the walk every day. I’ve learnt to appreciate sunsets (!), and it’s also a great time to people-watch and play with some dogs. The best part, however, are all the couples. Young and old, I get to see a lot of hand holding and hugging (and sometimes quite a bit more…).

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to sound creepy, but there’s something so refreshing about seeing two people in love, in public, and unafraid to show it. In a country that’s in denial about anything to do with sex and sexuality, where there are “squads” specially formed to humiliate consenting couples in public, public displays of affection become profoundly political acts. It makes me so happy to see couples find their own space, out in the open, to just be in love- a little act of resistance.

Often I still find myself wondering if I did the right thing by moving to Bombay. Should I have held out for better opportunities, moved to a less expensive city (I walked into a juice store the other day and it cost 200 bucks a glass…guess I’ll just stick to drinking water)? The doubts come and go. But, at times like these I remind myself of the good things (a principle I’m trying very hard to follow in my life in general).

I remind myself, of the many auto wallahs who didn’t lose their patience with me whenever I lost my way. I remind myself of the popcorn vendor next to my house who was willing to give me a free bag just because I didn’t have any change. I remind myself of the many times I got home in the middle of the night, unafraid, of the times I walked down the street in summer dresses, unafraid.

Or, I just take a walk by the sea, and that’s all it takes to remind me that in Bombay, love truly is all around.

To When Cynicism Was Just A Word

A lot of free time tends to lead to a lot of self reflection, and though I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, today seemed like a good day to put up this post.

I remember this time last year, while preparing for an entrance that I thought  was the most important exam of my life, I got a call from my best friend’s little sister. She was very stressed, wondering what subjects to take up in class 11. A few days later, when the board results were out, I tried to console her over the phone, because she didn’t think she’d done very well (though I thought she’d done just fine). I tried to explain to her that it wasn’t the end of the world, though a part of me knew she wouldn’t believe it.

Cut to two months later, and I had failed to clear the exam I had been killing myself over. Needless to say, it felt like a punch in the stomach. Everyone thought it would be a piece of cake, and I was already ‘in’.  But as I scanned that list over and over again for my name, I felt like I was dying inside. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me, that someone like me didn’t have anything to do for the next year. My friends were all going to the places I dreamed of studying in, and I felt like I was stuck in the same place.

I don’t want this piece to sound too preachy, and I can’t really claim to know anything about life, but having survived the last year and come out on top, I feel like I could have something useful to say. To everyone who got their results today, I just want to say, congratulations if you’ve done well, that’s brilliant! But if you haven’t, it’s definitely not the end of the world. The results will stop mattering in a year and you will soon realize that this never really ends-you always think you can “enjoy yourself” after your class 10 exams, but then in the blink of an eye, class 12 rolls along. And then comes college-and then entrances. And then a job- and you realize that in waiting to enjoy yourself, you’d forgotten that there’s more to life than just exams (or maybe you did realise that earlier because you didn’t have your nose buried in notes for the entire duration of college like I did!).

You will never be this young again; you will never again be in the place you are in now-where, to use a cliché, the world is your oyster. You feel like anything is possible-you can be whatever you want to be.  Where friends are friends forever, just a phone call away, there to greet you when you walk through the gates of your second home.  Where the world ends and begins with that boy you’ve been crushing on for ages, and the highlight of your day is seeing him outside school. Where the biggest problem is wanting that guy you can’t have (actually that’s always a very big problem!). Where you don’t have to wonder what the hell you’ll be doing in six months, or a year-because you know that the next day you’re going to wake up and go to a place with familiar faces, who are there to share your happiness, your grief, and just to get you through the day.

Now I don’t mean to sound like a cranky old lady whose life has passed her by, but all I’m trying to say is that when you’re 22 and nowhere close to being a Victoria’s Secret model, or to living in New York or London, it’s tough not to get a little jaded. You realise that maybe you won’t get that job as a BBC anchor, where you get to read out the news with the London skyline behind you. Maybe you won’t be a millionaire by the time you’re 30. Guys will come and go and maybe you won’t end up with the one you want. And when you have access to something like Facebook, where everyone else seems to be living an impossibly glamorous life, it can be hard to get up and face the day. But here’s the thing-it’ll all be okay. You will end up somewhere great-maybe not where you wanted to be, but somewhere even better.

Its taken me a while myself to realise this, but there is so much more to life than exams and jobs- there are so many wonderful things just waiting to happen-there are so many experiences yet to be had, there are so many places yet to be seen, and so many amazing people you are yet to meet. So please, savour this time. It won’t come back. Soon, the shit is going to hit the fan, and cynicism won’t be just a word anymore-but even then, know that grades and jobs don’t define you-and hold on to your sense of wonder.


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