Why I Swiped Right.

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In this cynical world, here’s a fairytale that you don’t come across too often. It’s a world of ‘all things quick’ – whenever we hit a roadblock, our first step is to go digital. The Internet, or our smartphones seem to have all the answers that we think we are looking for; and all for good reason. So it’s no surprise then, when after several failed attempts of finding good, intelligent, witty and mature men in my city, I promptly decided, that with my shift to a new city, there will be a rise of a new me. Gone are the days when I would trust my best friends and their (lack of) judgement on the “great boy they just met” (who turned out to be someone who should just stick to milk since he can’t handle his rum), it was time to look my situation in the eye, and take this bull by its horns.
Don’t get me wrong, when I got here, the city of Mumbai is one that consumes you entirely. You don’t need anyone to enjoy this city; with my new job, new colleagues, weekend trips back home, I pretty much forgot that I had an agenda. That I was still, a 25 year old, single, romantic at heart, writer by soul, explorer by nature, and most definitely, a social night owl.
I was in Mumbai, with a job that I feel is finally up my alley, taking a giant leap towards my eventual dream. But still, during trips back home, my friends would ask me about my life outside the walls of my desk at work, and my home (if you catch a glimpse of the view from my balcony here, you would understand why I didn’t get out much.) – I had no answers.
The simple reason was, that Mumbaikars, as they love to call themselves, are divided into ‘The Townies’ and ‘The Suburbian-ites’ and unfortunately, the locals of the two rarely traverse to meet on The Other Side. And even more unfortunate, is that all my school friends stay on The Other Side.
Now, a minute to justify what I’m about to dive into next – My first 2-3 months I was very happy to do all the travelling, with Ubers available at your beck and call, friends willing to drop me (well “halfway” or sometimes if I was lucky, even meet me halfway) – it wasn’t difficult at all. But slowly and surely, the woos of The Other Side began to grow on me too. Late nights in the office and a call from an old friend would instead of a chirpy me, bring out a whining, and irritated me… The me that would then start to tell them off for not coming to Town to see me. Soon, my friends quickly realised that I was slowly turning into a true Mumbaikar, who only drifted out of her “side” on weekends, and in non-traffic hours of course.
No prices for guessing, my plans soon came to a standstill. Not only did I become a true local and strongly stayed in my area, but I also now refused to go to The Other Side unless it was absolutely certain that no other plans could follow through.
My life in Town was soon reduced to joining a Spinning class at a gym (a couple of blocks away), taking walks along Marine Drive, discovering new books and music, getting my blog up and running successfully – don’t get me wrong, my life was definitely going in the direction that I had always dreamed. Earlier nights in bed with Kafka or Murakami’s brilliance, 7.30am Yoga sessions where I was taught the correct way to breath, mediate, channel my thoughts, healthy and timely meals, work going better than I wished for, my colleagues at work slowly turning into what I hope will be a life-long friendship – my life was heading in the right direction. I was finally testing the “Love Yourself” theory and it was working brilliantly.
You’re wondering where the hiccup came in right? I mean, if there’s one thing you know from my story, there’s always a hiccup (Sadly, he isn’t cute and bug-eyed like the animated one).
So there I was, living my life on my own terms, enjoying what eventually would have turned out to be a giant step towards a fulfilling life (and maybe even a bestseller in the making), but all it took was a trip back home.
It went a little something like this.
“So, how’s Bombay treating you?” She asked me. We were halfway through our dinner, a terribly delicious wood-fire pizza with the right amount of cheese, basil leaves and sauce. A side of beer battered onion rings, one of our major weaknesses, and some fabulous coffee.
“Brilliant.” I answered, in between bites of those scrumptious onion rings.
“You’re smiling, with your eyes. And you’ve lost weight, which suits you brilliantly too.” I couldn’t help but blush. She always had a way with words; and me.
“I guess I finally let my hair down, enjoy the weather, the city, and well, my own company.” This seemed to be an answer that I was searching for. I was rather satisfied and content with myself. My aura was warm, comforting, and I was happy to be exactly where I was.
“So my butterfly is finally happy then?” She asked me, in between mouthfuls of her slice of pizza.
My lips parted, the answer resting on my lips, but hesitating to come out. Why was I hesitating.
“Yes?” She sensed tension in my wings.
My lips were open, but there was nothing coming out. My appetite suddenly gone…
“You know you’ve always believed in butterfly pairs, yet you’re living your life in the best way possible. So my love, you are happy right?”
Flashes of the past three months came to me as I sat there, in our favourite restaurant. Everything I was doing, everywhere I was going, all the new places I visiting – it was me, myself and I. I was loving myself, and it was great – but I also loved the idea of meeting new people, dancing nights, and such. And that side of me was pushed into a corner.
I decided it was time to start a new chapter. It was time to meet new people, make some friends and ‘paint the city red’. The big question here was, HOW.
I obviously got all my friends in the wrong side of the world in Mumbai, and I couldn’t reach out far enough no thanks to my work timings.
And so, I decided to let technology play a ‘helping hand’.
Safe to say, I was nervous, yet excited enough at the same time. I was waiting to see where this adventure would lead me, and it was one Monday evening, when I came across a rather interesting profile. I took a deep breath, an odd smile on my face, butterflies in my stomach, and swiped right.
He has the kindest eyes, the oddest smile, a way with words that no one can compare to. He has a way with me actually, from the evening we met, the way he made me laugh, the way he made me dance… More so, the way he made me talk. He reminded me of a lot of things about myself that I had forgotten. He’s slowly becoming someone I’ve grown to trust, and like to call in the middle of the day to whine about work, or some oddball colleague I wanted to punch. Or I would send him snapchats and he would tell me to stop pouting. It’s strange, there’s absolutely nothing about us that’s the same. We have no common interests, he thinks that hiding inside of me is a crazy ghaat that loves trashy Bollywood songs and too much romance. He on the other hand, is married to his job.
Deep down, behind that suit and tie, there’s a man who sings to me at night to keep me company. There’s a man who leaves an hour early to come see me, if only for ten minutes. There’s a man who smiles when I tell him I’ll see him, if only for a cup of takeaway coffee.  There’s a man who drives fast, because he knows my instinct reaction is to grab on to his hand and tell him to stop (Yes, I’ve seen you smirking.) There’s a man who calls me a baby when I whine about life, but then sends me a picture of him with cat ears, just to make sure that I’m smiling.
To be honest, I’m awake and writing this tonight because I believe it’s extremely essential for people, for men and women, to understand that in this world where things don’t work out… You need a fairytale. You need a fairytale; I’ve always searched for a perfect happy ending, never thought much about the montage that leads up to it.
And this is something that my ‘Swipe Right’ taught me in the strangest way possible. It’s not always about the happy ending, it’s about the beautiful, and memorable montage.
This, is why I swiped right in the first place.

The Chaos of My Words.

For what is it about words, that brings about a rush of emotion, or a loss of time and sense – what is it about words that closes the distance between lovers, that throws away years of togetherness, that reminds friends of a warm embrace on a cold summer’s night? – what is it about words that breaks, makes, destroys, creates, anguishes, tortures, pleasures or even elevates humans. 

Unfortunately, no one writes letters today. They say lucky are those who don’t fall in love with a writer. Apparently, our emotions are stronger in words than they are in person. Words, they create magic. Write to your lover tonight. Let your words find that secret place on his neck, let your words be your lips tonight – let them roam freely. Over his body, let your words leave soft kisses and deep breaths. Leave him shuddering for your touch, but satisfied with your words. Words. They can make your lovers toes curl with pleasure, but also, leave a heart broken in pieces. 
Use words. Let your impeccable knowledge over this language be a warm hug to a friend who is miles away, sipping wine on a cold night. Let your words dance with that lonely girl’s smile tonight, remind her of how her smile twinkles in her eyes. Use words to show the world what you’re unhappy about. Use words, they’re out there, and they’re waiting… aching, eagerly, to be used, over and over again.
 
With each sentence the words change meaning; the letters, the shapes they form, let them become the all and everything of the person whose reading it. How I wish I had letters to read, and not just write – but then again, someone has to, no? Someone far away needs to be reminded of a lover, someone else may need company on a lonely night, someone else may need someone to wipe away the tears, someone may just need a gentle reminder that I’m missing them. This is what my words shall be used for tonight. Because tonight, my words are aching to reach someone else, but alas, it seems against my better judgement to let that happen – so instead, I’ll use them here. Pour them all out, till I’ve got nothing but my pounding heart left for company.
You ask me what I would write if I could to him? Well, let me tell you. 
 
My Dearest Gelato, (I would begin. It’s a joke amongst us, I hate gelato; and his personality, if I had to describe it in one word, this would be it) 
 
We left each other on aching terms. We left each other with almost no choice but to walk away. We left each other. 
I think it’s Kafka who believed that without pain, there can be no love. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in love with you, maybe not so much as the maybe the idea of being of being your Paprika. Life is too long to have enemies, too short to leave people behind, and even shorter when you start cutting out your friends from it. You were my good luck charm, you were my late night call, you were my karaoke machine, you were my white owl date, you were my awkward driving companion, you were my afternoon in Prague phone call. 
 
Someone once said, when two adults care for each other, they shouldn’t treat each other like this. The immediate reply, two adults that care for each other shouldn’t have to move on. I’m not sure which side I rest on, and which you.
 
I’m hurting, and I wish that it did not take everything inside of me to not pick up the phone and ask you to meet me. Don’t act like I mean nothing, don’t love me if you don’t want to, but don’t make me move on from a friendship that became a pillar for me in this city that never sleeps. I’m hurting. And yes, we could have handled this better, and no, your last words make no sense to me – but your words still echo inside of me. Unanswered questions – those are the most difficult to sleep with.
 
I wish I could express myself the way you do with your songs. It would be easier for you to understand me; my words, they seem to be floating all around me, no wonder they appear hostile and chaotic to you. I have a lot of things I want to say, but nothing’s coming out. 
 
At this point, I have nothing to express, and no one to express it to. I’m going to lie here, wrapped in the chaos of my words – wondering which ones strung together would be the ones to use to get you back into my life. 
 
Yours, Paprika. 
 
That night in Prague when we met in my dreams.

That night in Prague when we met in my dreams.

Maybe it’s best sometimes, to not speak, to avoid using words, and most importantly, to not write a letter to your lover. Sometimes, avoiding a rush of emotions can be relieving. 
 
For now, here’s Kafka’s letter, written to Felice, it’s the passion and array of emotions in this letter that made my heart wonder why I wasn’t writing tonight. 
Fräulein Felice!
I am now going to ask you a favor which sounds quite crazy, and which I should regard as such, were I the one to receive the letter. It is also the very greatest test that even the kindest person could be put to. Well, this is it: Write to me only once a week, so that your letter arrives on Sunday — for I cannot endure your daily letters, I am incapable of enduring them. For instance, I answer one of your letters, then lie in bed in apparent calm, but my heart beats through my entire body and is conscious only of you. I belong to you; there is really no other way of expressing it, and that is not strong enough. But for this very reason I don’t want to know what you are wearing; it confuses me so much that I cannot deal with life; and that’s why I don’t want to know that you are fond of me. If I did, how could I, fool that I am, go on sitting in my office, or here at home, instead of leaping onto a train with my eyes shut and opening them only when I am with you?

Break That Habit.

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After a long trip, one tends to introspect; there are moments of your life that come flashing by, as you sit at a new cafe that you discovered, on an unknown cobbled street. Maybe sipping a coffee, maybe lighting a cigarette, or maybe while just sitting there, staring at the lines on the map in front of you that almost seem to mimic the ones you find on your palm.
A significant part of you is satisfied, you have that job you’ve dreamed of, you have fabulous friends, some getting that much awaited promotion, some finding new love, and some, starting a new journey with their significant others. The lines on their palm, their destiny, taking them further and further away; showing them different sights and sounds, a journey as unexpected as one you’d have if you were to choose a random lane along the map and followed it through.
I was having one of these moments. The hot coffee lay next to me, untouched, my eyes staring straight ahead at the medieval castle ahead of me, my thoughts, scattered.
I tried to focus on something, maybe the intricate designs on the clock in the tower ahead of me? Or maybe I could people watch and day dream along with them? Maybe…. Whatever it was, I knew that I had to stop myself from trying to answer the dreaded question that was rising inside of me, “Am I truly satisfied with where I am right now?” – Is this, this exact moment where I am, the reason that I took all those decisions in the past – good or bad, but taken them none the less, just to be here, in this time and place. Today.
I don’t know what I was doing there, but I knew that there was one face that made me feel warm. From far away, there was one voice that I had to speak to. One soul that I had to share this moment with, and as I searched for my phone to find dial his number, the glow on my face grew warmer, and my smile wider.
Tonight, as I reminisce about a city that took my heart away in an instant, I also think about that part of me that I seemed to have left behind, rather that part of us.
Life is not all about being entirely happy, or sad, or having everything or even loosing it all. It’s about the challenges that’s thrown at us – no matter how stubborn a heart, one day he too will fall in love. No matter how romantic a soul, one day her heart will be broken. But the challenge is that when you find something, and in this day and age of emotions flowing in 140 characters or less, when you find that one person who makes you smile, even if for a while, I believe that it’s worth the risk. It’s worth the few extra hours of sleep, it’s worth the fight that turned you into an ugly monster for a night, it’s worth the tears that you leave on your pillow as you put on the biggest smile you can in the morning. Life, just like the lanes of the map, would be centric and a rather dull tale to tell if we never explored the paths and emotions that came our way. A new city is only as much fun to discover as the number of alleys and lanes that it has – the amount of space that it can let a traveller roam.
It’s discovery. And it’s magical. It’s a journey, not a duty. It’s life, not a job. You can’t apply for another one when this is gone.
The lines on the map, the outline of the flowing river, it didn’t show, but I knew that it opened up to the sea… I knew that the roads here didn’t just end at the edges of this map. There was a lot more left to discover, just like there is a lot more left to discover for me, as is for you.
Take a chance, walk down a different road, leave that castle, throw away that cigarette, walk into the unknown. Break that habit. Write her a postcard. Hug him when you see him. Tell your mother you miss her. Take your father out to dinner. Remind your best friend of that time when you’ll laughed so much you couldn’t breathe. Talk to yourself. Be brave. Find that new path, widen those horizons, throw away that ego, pick up the phone. Eat that french fry; but also go walk at sunrise.
When someone looks at the lines of your life, let it be complicated, elaborate, some should run through crossroads, others over rivers and seas. Let them know, that this life was an explored one. A complete one. A satisfied one. Let them be inspired, to find their own paths, to map their own journeys, to introspect and at the end of it all, most importantly, to have a fatigued smile on that sun-kissed face.