Social situations scare me.
I blame it on my childhood like all
things wrong with me. I was an only child, with hardly any friends outside my school and no cousins or playmates my age. People hardly visited us. Like language skills I picked up social interaction outside my home which means I do okay with people my age, tend to revere people older and have no idea what to do with people significantly younger. This has held me good stead as a student but as I progress in life I have realised the price I pay for being anti social and unapproachable. I have definitely paid it in my professional life but being married into a family that is social and very out there often makes me stick out like a sore thumb.
People often take reticence for pride. They don’t understand how something so natural, for why man is a social animal after all, could be tough for anyone. It’s easier to think the other person just thinks too much of themselves than imagine they are uncomfortable or scared in company.
But let’s focus this essay on how it feels to be socially awkward in a world of extroverts.
When your body language is closed, you struggle with small talk, you feel no desire to befriend new people or make them like you – let’s just say your life ain’t going to be a bed of roses.
I wish I could close this with 10 steps to work around this but I can’t. I can only hope the people closest to me understand my introvertishness and adapt their gregarious nature to it. I realise there are certain traits which will always be gold standards for humanity and preferring my own company on Saturday night and claiming no credit for work you do aren’t gonna be on it. I strive towards the established traits of universally loved human beings but it has taken me around half a lifetime to finally accept I can’t change some of my hard coding.
So next time you ( you being the standard issue social creature) see someone who seems more interested in their glass of water than coming over and talking to you- make the first move. They will be relieved and who knows you may be one of the few friends they make in their lifetime .
I attended this workshop on developing some personal skills few days ago. It was pretty good and very expensive for my company. One of the areas they covered was the kind of person you are- the “me” factor in any equation and to flex your style based on situations.
Now this knowledge is nothing new. There are hundreds of personality tests out there. I did one as soon I had joined the company which wholeheartedly recommended me for the function I joined in.
Its good to sometimes do a simple 10 questions set, be slotted in a box and read your characteristics. As I nodded along in agreement to the traits that people of my box apparently displayed I wondered if this is just one of the things we are programmed to do- this sort of identification to such scientific slotting. I remember reading Linda Goodman during my teens and thinking how accurate her description of Saggitarians was. Of course with age I know it was all hogwash and I am nothing like that sample Sagittarius woman.
Ohh and for the record am apparently a data person and display the reserved impersonal demeanor of one. I like to think its true. Am pretty introvert-ish , like to keep my head down and do my work, and crunch through huge amounts of data pretty quickly ( one of the reasons I love the inter webs is the non stop data overload, I revel in it). But I also have offbeat ideas ( ideas people) get along fairly well with people ( people people) and can get obsessed with targets ( results people).
Yes we may all have dominant styles. I have drowned many a people persons with data. But I wonder how effective it is to box people into 4 quadrants and “flex” our styles accordingly.
I have a 90 day follow up to the course which should tell me.
That moment when you find yourself staring at a patent/ elderly relative and realise you haven’t really been seeing them as they are, but as they were a decade ago.
And in doing so, have failed to notice that wholly different person, with wholly different needs, has supplanted the person of your memories – despite your being convinced that you had been carefully monitoring their growing frailties.
Read this here. Had to share.
Do you know how captive elephants are trained to not run away? They have these 15-20 kilo heavy chains around their legs. Now you would wonder why an elephant which weighs tonnes could possibly feel constrained by a chain weighing a few kilos?
Of course there is a backstory.
When the elephants are small, the trainers tie these chains around their legs/or to a peg. When the baby elephant tries to run away the chain pulls it back. It even cuts the baby elephants legs sometimes further causing hurt. Soon enough the baby elephant gets conditioned that it can’t escape as long as the chain exists.
This baby elephant can grow upto a multi tonne giant as an adult but in its mind the 15kg chain is a barrier it can’t overcome.
Many days of the year I am that elephant resigned to the memories of failure. Except I know the chains can be broken but am too consumed by my memories of feeling inadequate.
Alternatively titled To not think feminism means being entitled in the times of Sheila Ki Jawani/Pour It Up/Insert relevant pop culture song.
Feminism is a dirty word for women of my generation. We snigger and loathe it quietly. Recently my organisation took up the task of workplace gender balance correction with great gusto. The men made in appropriate jokes about recruiting large number of women. But the women themselves? Well some of us were ashamed.
We don’t need special treatment. We are as good as the men aren’t we ? Glass ceiling ? What glass ceiling- the only ceiling I see is made of this nice woodwork.
And to a great extent it’s true. The lucky few of us who walk down these corridors have had it relatively easy. We have supportive families who gave us whatever they would give their sons, we cleared the right exams, got the right jobs, married supportive husbands, work in bias free environments.
But it still says something if I am still the only woman in a meeting room of 15. And yes and that’s why feminism is not a dirty word. We as a generation reaped the benefits of fight someone else put in on behalf of us. They where separate bathroom for women, gender sensitization courses and paid maternity leaves.
And this is about the maybe 0.001% of us who occupy managerial position in corporate. For majority of the women life hasn’t had this dramatic shift within two generations. But I will reserve my comments about the uphill task of women’s equality for some other day.
I believe in my capacity I can make it easier for women working with me. I can make boss-woman less of a novelty. And most importantly just because I got the handles to compete in less unequal field doesn’t undermine the struggles most of my gender goes through.
From one of my favorite books “How To Be A Woman” by Caitlin Moran
“We need to reclaim the word ‘feminism’. We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42% of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies?What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”
I wrote this years ago. I still find it as relevant now as on that day.
Goa to me is now permanently linked to a certain soap that my company makes thanks to spending time on a shop floor. And also Indian uncles jumping into water at Calingute beach in their underwear. But I also remember the greenery and the beauty I used to savor every morning on the way to my workplace. Yes I have worked in Goa. In a factory no less.
So when AB announced the only way to ring in my 30 was to party in India’s party capital,I decided to make the best of the situation by getting started on my excel. Yes, I make holiday excels with itinerary, cost, must dos for all holidays and making the excel is one of the most exciting things I do to build up any vacation in my mind. Yes am an MBA thank you very much.
My Goa trip was very different from the past (and yet it was the cliche-d partaay trip) and am sharing the things that made this an awesome trip to bid goodbye to my twenties.
1. Peak Holiday Season in Goa = Give me all your monies
So booking airfare and hotel between Christmas and NYE in the second week of December, not such a great idea. SKYHIGH is where the prices where if the hotel wasn’t fully occupied already. At one point we were looking at staying at the beach for 4 days or file for bankruptcy. This is kill time for the tourism business. That Activa you zipped around in for 200 bucks during monsoons, be ready to shell out a grand for it now.
Actually the VIP passes to Sunburn – arguably India’s only international level music festival is the one that really bought me in. And I have to say it was everything and more. There was music, food, rides and people. This year they had Afrojack, Axwell and Markus Schulz headlining but I also loved Arnej ,Shermanalogy and Shaan. The mega huge mainstage, lights and pyrotechnics was fabulous.
3. Morjim and Aswem
After spending the first evening in Baga, we headed north. The moment we crossed Chapora, we met a Russian overdose. Many restaurants in fact had only Russian signage! But The beaches were beautiful and also much source for eye candy.
4. La Plage
Took some effort to find this Aswem based French restaurant but it was worth the trouble. Beautiful beach setting and some of the best food I had in years. So much so we returned the next day, driving all the way from Candolim. We had grilled mussels, beetroot and mango carpaccio, ravioli and everything was superb. We tried some 4 items from the dessert menu and all of them were mouth watering. We expected to run a huge tab but I found it quite reasonable compared to what many places south were charging. Only word of advice- pre book, the place fills up fast.
5. Hike up the Chapora Fort
I climbed the slippery terrain in a pair of chappals to be greeted with a beautiful sunset over Vagator. Worth the risk of sliding all the way to the bottom!
6. Mum’s Kitchen, Miramar
I had read that this was one of the best places to try authentic Goan cuisine, so off we zipped to Panjim. Its here I learnt Goan food is spicy, spicy, spicy and cocunut laden-much like Kerala. AB had a fish which he couldnt stop raving about. Again the place filled up in a jiffy and we were lucky to have landed early without any bookings and in finding a seat.
A Greek restaurant at the edge of a cliff in Vagator overlooking the beach. The location is worth the visit, but the food wasn’t really that great for the money they charged. Add to it chaos due to overbooking and dishes taking more than an hour to get ready. Maybe they were having an off day. The baklava was quite good though.
A landmark at Baga beach their egg poi sandwich and milkshakes really hit the spot at 1AM. After 6 hours of EDM I no longer had the energy to dance the night away but things would have been different 5 years ago :)
Eat. Sleep. Party. Repeat.
Twenties now am done with you!
The Twenties were magical.
I had the potential to grow up to be anyone I wanted. I could have been a housewife, I could have been a statesman, I could have been a film star. Maybe not the last one. Or I could continue on the path to achieve the gold standard of Indian middle class ( of the 90s-00s definitely)- an engineer and an MBA. Twenties were filled with possibilities and the real opportunity to take risk with minimal consequences.
Metabolism. I could polish off buffet dinners followed by buffet desserts and my pants would be no wiser. Gym? That’s were Arnold Schwarzenegger would go.
Skin care routine. Hahahaha.
Tight tee with a slogan/quote..jeans..kohl and bring on the boys. I actually used to find things to wear at Linking Road and Sarojini and Megamarts of the world. Shoppers stop was for high end wear meant for interviews.
Knockoff drinks, party all night and wake up like it’s another bright sunny day in paradise.
Twenties for also a shit storm.
Remember the potential I talked about? Can you imagine the confusion. Imagine selecting a college out nowhere which offered a BTech over any snobs wet dream-Stephens. Imagine slugging it in mock CATs and mock GD-PIs. Yup that was my early twenties. And the job interviews. Perfecting those “perfect” answers.
And boys. Too much attention but none meeting the specs of your dream man. (There is a reason he is a dream man, he is available only in your dreams). The clash of indian sanskaars with your hormones. Not being sure if you are dating the right person. Hiding this person from your parents because OMG-our-child-never-thinks-about-sex. Getting burnt and realising you are apparently made of sterner stuff.
And the cheap shopping? Ohh that’s because you were perpetually broke. When your living off 3K a month it’s often a tough choice between food and fun. (Ohh no wonder the clothes always fit)
Your first job and feeling like a royal dunce. Going from being a student to managing a bunch of people who expect you to show them the path. Path what path, your drowning in responsibilities you never knew existed.
So where were we? Yeah the next decade beckons. 30 was the way beyond. Old age. Over the hill. But guess what, I kinda earned it. I lived a good twenties. I had my share if traditional fun and if my definition of fun now means a two hour afternoon nap then I think I kinda deserve it.
And hopefully the next decade will bring a new set of milestones and adventures.