Write a Poem on, Why Bother Being Gentle? #NaPoWriMo Prompt 4

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Pain is universal, it stings and burns.

We’re all tending to broken hearts and bones.

There’s an epidemic of loneliness.

Hurt is rampant.

Why bother being gentle?

Because the world is in desperate need of someone who cares.

Prompt by thenookseeker.

Write a Poem That Begins With, “Everything is So Beautiful and I Am So…”: #NaPoWriMo Prompt 2

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Everything is so beautiful and I am so tired.

How do you make sense of this life?

I marvel at the beauty and despair at the destruction.

Heartbreak and happiness in abundance.

A vicious cycle of longing and apathy.

The optimist and realist slow dancing on a warming planet.

I am so tired and everything is beautiful.

Prompt by thenookseeker

Reasons to Live Through the Apocalypse: #NaPoWriMo Prompt 1

tea and books
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Finishing your first half marathon. Aimlessly wandering in a new city. That first sip of chai. Eye contact with a beautiful stranger. Sunsets. Seeing the full moon through your bedroom window. Being warm and toasty in bed on a cold winter’s night. Thunderstorms. The excitement of a new book. Reunions. The happiness of food markets. The end of missing someone. The arrivals gate at airports. The promise of a second chance on a new continent. A home that is your own. Bubble tea. Rediscovering Geography. Second chances. The warmth of summer. Scenic train journeys. Spiced rum. The scent of the sea.

Prompt by thenookseeker. Inspired by Nikita Gill’s Reasons to Live Through the Apocalypse

Dear Reader

I hope this post finds you in the best of spirits, high on a memory that has left you feeling optimistic and hopeful.

I hope this post finds you tending to your inner child.

I hope this post finds you in the midst of adventure, delirious with happiness.

I hope this post finds you laughing without a care in the world.

I hope this post finds you enjoying your solitude while sipping on your favourite spiced rum.

I hope this post finds you unlocking the door to your first apartment.

I hope this post finds you petting a dog.

I hope this post finds you on a beach somewhere, far from the madding crowd.

This post was inspired by The Nook

The End of an Era

“I had wanted to leave the country of my birth for so long, I didn’t know how to react when it finally happened.”

I left Kuwait three fortnights ago. I had wanted to leave the country of my birth for so long, I didn’t know how to react when it finally happened. “How are you feeling?”, I get asked by friends, family and acquaintances. “It feels surreal”, I tell them – not knowing how to process saying goodbye to a place that I have a complicated relationship with. 5 months feels like sufficient time to bid adieu but the uncertainty of the pandemic made it harder.

It hits me on a random Tuesday night that I can’t just walk to my friend’s house anymore. We lived less than a kilometer away. I could hop, skip and jump to her place. I miss karak, my squad, the easy access to cheap & delicious food and the call to prayer. I expected to miss Kuwait with the intensity of missing a place one has lived in for two decades but it’s a gentle sort of missing. It leaves even before I’ve had time to process it.

The days before my departure were a blur. I had way too much stuff to fit into 3 suitcases. There were last minute lunches, catch ups and the dreaded RT-PCR test. Moving countries in a pandemic is a herculean task but thanks to the kindness of my friends, it was a breeze.

It was a hurried goodbye and this feels like a hurried post but it’s not. It has been sitting in my drafts, waiting for me patiently to get my act together. There’s so much I want to say but for now this will do.


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Happy New Year, dear readers! May 2021 be good and kind to us all. For my very first post of 2021, I want to talk about the mostly wonderful day I’ve had. Gratitude is something I’m hoping to cultivate more of this year.

A hearty breakfast of idli sambar, marble cake and tea followed by a video call with my mother. A few hours of Netflix and lazing in bed followed by an excursion to a pond park with my friend and her adorable kids. A leisurely walk, a game of uno and a piping hot karak. Read a few pages from A Promised Land and watched a gorgeous sunset. It’s always the little things, isn’t it?

In Praise of Walking

in praise of walking
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I got back to walking after six whole months. The lockdown took away my favorite form of exercise and I was forced to find alternate ways to expend my restless, nervous energy because the great outdoors became dangerous territory overnight. Life has somewhat gone back to normal now and I’ve resumed my walks armed with a mask and a playlist.

There’s something deliciously soothing about putting one foot in front of the other especially after being confined indoors for the better part of a year. Walking is my meditation, my weapon against the relentless busyness of modern life. Walking clears the cobwebs in my head, it soothes and heals my tiny heartaches and gives me clarity. I learnt about the joy of movement a little late in life. Walking to me is (sometimes) an antidote to stress, melancholy and restlessness.

The garden where I walk is littered with dog poop, creeps and water puddles. It occasionally turns my soothing walks into an obstacle course. But there are also good walking days when the moon is out, there’s a gentle breeze blowing and everything seems right with the world. When I walk, I daydream and imagine impossible things. I let my my mind wander untethered. My imagination takes flight. It’s also when I look up at the sky and notice the stars, constellations (mostly Orion) and a rare plane sighting.

To sum up, walk your troubles away. It’s not a magic wand but it will provide temporary respite from the tedium of daily life.

7 Non-Fiction Mental Health Reads for 2020: A Nightmare of a Year!

My greatest fear last year was being on the receiving end of a deadly bite from a Tsetse fly in the wilderness of Tanzania. It can transmit sleeping sickness (!) which causes swelling in the brain and is fatal if left untreated. I spent weeks agonizing over the what-ifs, my mind all too eager to offer worst-case scenarios on a platter. And now, 9 months into 2020, that particular episode feels like a walk in the park.

I have an anxious disposition and I cope by reading books about anxiety in particular and mental health in general. In the words of Eleanor Morgan, giving the beast a name means you can tame it. Shared experiences, coping mechanisms and biological explanations help me (somewhat) tame the anxiety beast.

2020 has been relentless. Life without a pandemic was no piece of cake. Life with a pandemic feels surreal and doubly (sometimes triply) challenging. In no particular order, here are 7 books to help you cope with this nightmare of a year:

  1. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh: This is one of the first mental health books I read (way back in 2014). It’s a memoir featuring cute and quirky drawings (first published on Allie’s blog). It’s funny AF and relatable.

I’ve always wanted not to give a fuck. While crying helplessly into my pillow for no good reason, I would often fantasize that maybe someday I could be one of those stoic badasses whose emotions are mostly comprised of rock music and not being afraid of things.

Allie Brosh – Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

2. On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety by Andrea Petersen: The author talks about her experience with anxiety as well as the biology of anxiety. This book was more technical and scientific (which is expected since Andrea is a science and health reporter) and has a lot of inputs from top neuroscientists.

Anxiety is related to fear but is distinct. Whereas fear is concrete and imminenet, anxiety is, “sustained uncertainty”. It’s a chronic sense of uneasiness about a vague future, a gnawing worry about what may or many not happen.

Andrea Petersen – On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety

3. Anxiety: Overcome It and Live Without Fear by Sonali Gupta: I read this one in June of this year while dealing with a particularly strong bout of anxiety. The author is one of India’s leading clinical psychologists. It’s a well written book that sheds light on anxiety from an Indian perspective. There’s still a lot of stigma attached to mental health in India. Hopefully, this book and others like it will normalize mental health conversations. The author also talks about the pandemic and the isolation & overwhelming feelings associated with it. I would recommend this book for newbies who are curious about anxiety, mental health, coping mechanisms and therapy.

People who are constantly catastrophizing find themselves hyperalert, hypercautious and, at the same time, continually ‘wired’ to small micro-cues which results in a sense of exhaustion.

Sonali Gupta – Anxiety: Overcome It and Live Without Fear

4. How to Survive the End of the World (When it’s in Your Own Head) by Aaron Gillies: A humorous anxiety guide which is relatable AF. I like the fact that the author calls (some aspects of) evolution stupid.

In evolutionary terms our amygdala was vital to our survival. It’s the reason we evolved from cavemen into the Netflix-obsessed, skinny-jeans-wearing monsters we are today.

Aaron Gillies – How to Survive the End of the World (When it’s in Your Own Head)

5. Anxiety for Beginners by Eleanor Morgan: I LOVED the cover of this book. It’s what drew me to it. I saw it in one of the bookstore windows in Bangalore and I had to have it. I have underlined (yes, I’m a monster) and stuck post-it notes all over this handy little book that validates me and my anxious little brain. This books is about Eleanor’s own experience with anxiety as well as an investigation into what might be contributing to all our collective anxieties.

Let me tell you about intrusive thoughts. It’s like having schools of those feet-exfoliating fish darting through your cerebrum, nibbling away at your sanity.

Eleanor Morgan – Anxiety for Beginners

6. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig (TW suicide): The first chapter in the book talks about how Matt was severely depressed and how he came close to killing himself. This is by no means an easy or light read but there’s something uplifting in the way this book is written. Matt asked people with mental health struggles what keeps them going and collected their responses via the hashtag #reasonstostayalive. He included some of these responses in the book and honestly it’s quite moving.

The price for being intelligent enough to be the first species to be fully aware of the cosmos might just be a capacity to feel a whole universe’s worth of darkness.

Matt Haig – Reasons to Stay Alive

7. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb: A therapist’s memoir about therapy with her therapist. You read that right! It’s theraception, y’all. Kudos to Lori for being so vulnerable and open about her own therapy sessions and struggles. Lori also talks about her different clients and the particular challenges (some of which are truly heartbreaking) they face. Reading this makes you realize being human is a messy affair and we are (mostly) all in this together.

It’s common for people with traumatic histories to expect disasters just around the corner. Instead of leaning into the goodness that comes their way, they become hypervigilant, always waiting for something to go wrong.

Lori Gottlieb – Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

I hope, dear reader, that you find these mental heath book recommendations helpful. Let’s fight this beast together.