anecdotes, life, stories, words, writing

Nerves

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“I am sorry…I…I….sorry,” she stammered as she scrounged around in her sack of a handbag, digging around to find whatever it was she was going to present to me. One by one she started to take things out of her bag, a pen, two pen, few pencils, a really old motorola phone – I didnt even think these kinds existed anymore – a small opaque plastic bag, which I didnt have to peek inside to know the contents of. The wafting foul smell of beetle nut and lime told me it was doma*, a Bhutanese favorite snack. She paused when she put it out onto my desk, and looked at me for a second like she was going to offer me some, but decided against it to continue her search through the abyss of her magical bag – it was amazing how many things fit in it.

“Ahh….here it is,” she exclaimed and handed me a tiny tiny USB drive. “Can you please open it on your computer?” she mumbled. Some consultant I thought to myself. It was one thing to ask for a favor and help her with her work, it was an entirely different thing to actually carry out the work for her.

“You see, I am running out of time, I am running out of time,” she repeated. Her relatively young round eyes filled with anxiety. “Right,” I nodded back and inserted the USB into my sleek laptop’s USB port. Her mangled key chain of what appeared to be an extremely dirty teddy bear hanging off the USB in stark contrast to the shiny silver of my macbook pro. The file opened to my utter horror of chaotic pdf files, excel sheets, word documents, movies, books, jpegs, neither in order nor appropriately named. My OCD kicked into high gear and if I knew her better than just being introduced through a mutual friend some one hour back, I would have offered to organize her files on the USB. As she looked through her files to look for whatever it was that she was going to show me and ask for my help, I noticed all her paraphernalia still scattered across my desk. Her slightly large tego** sleeves skimming over my desk zen garden. I inhaled a sharp breath of air in panic worrying her lovely purple sleeves would leave an uninvited line across the sand perfectly styled in symmetric curlicues.

“Umm….,” she mumbled and rested her face on her hands and her elbows uncomfortably close to me. “Here,” I said and got out of my chair allowing her to move closer to my laptop so she could look at the screen better, but also for myself because the smell of unsolicited beetle nut and her chaotic hair and slightly running mascara was irritating me, but also garnering some deep level of sympathy because she was everything I tried not to be. I felt guilty I was judging her in that moment. She paused and looked up like she remembered something, picked up her bag and starting digging through it again. She pulled out a notebook, a compact – which has obviously not touched her skin in the least bit today- and then some breath mints. “Here, have some,” she said and offered the mints to me. “Umm, no thanks,” I said and asked if she found the file. “I think its not here,” she said and smiled at me. “Anyway, I will go home and find it and will come back when I have it, if its okay with you,” she half asked and half declared rhetorically. “Okay….?” I responded quizzed by the coolness and ease and chaos with which this woman went about.

She moved across my desk, swiped her entire arm across my desk and literally chucked all her things back into her gunny sack of a hangbag. I handed her the USB, as she got up. “Thank you,” she said. “I really dont have time and now I wasted the last hour getting nothing done,” she said laughing. “Okay, will come back soon, thank you for your help,” she said and walked out of my office. I plonked myself down on my chair, energy drained by that whirlwind of a personality. The speed and chaos with which our interaction ensued confusing the hell out of me.

I never heard back from this woman.

doma* – In Bhutan the areca nut is called doma. The raw areca nut, which is soft and moist is very potent and when chewed can cause palpitation and vasoconstricting. This form is eaten in the lower regions of Bhutan and in North Bengal, where the nut is cut into half and put into a local paan leaf with a generous amount of lime.The fermented doma has a putrid odour, which can be smelled from miles.
tego** – Toego or Tego is a long-sleeved, short jacket-like garment worn over their traditional kira by women in Bhutan.

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fiction, life, stories, woman, writing

Waiting

The sound of pounding from all rubber stamps the tellers used drowned out the excruciating pain in the depths of her stomach. The wafting smell of ink and freshly printed paper adding to her nausea. Blinking back tears and breathing deeply telling herself she was going to be okay. She closed her eyes and for a few seconds she was able to just be. To become fully aware of her own being. To realize that at the end of the day, all she ever had was only herself, and it mattered that she realized that and give herself a little more attention than what he may have given her. She rolled her eyes inside her head to try and relieve some of the pressure in her head. Slowly losing herself in her thoughts that mattered to her before he had happened, and before every familiar face became a calculative measure of how it might be to be that person with many to love her and none to hurt.

When she slowly came to, and opened her eyes, the bank was dark. She worried maybe her grief had driven her to blindness. An upsurge of fear and panic emerged from the depths of her very expecting core, until the person sitting next to her shrugged and said, ‘imagine what a power outage like this is costing the market right now.’ A gentle unbidden smile in return before she got up, gathered her papers, and ran out of the bank lobby. The fresh air –unladen with the smell of ink– rushing into her lungs in deep breaths. First breath, burning, second breath, burning, third breath, chilling, fourth breath, adjusted chilling, fifth breath, calming, sixth breath, calming, seventh breath, normal.

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embracing yourself, life, love, moments, romance, stories, thoughts, twenty-somethings, woman

Simple Beginnings

“Today is January 1st, 2015. What do you want to do with your life this year?” she asks me smirking because I am notorious for making resolutions I cannot keep. I laugh inwardly because I know its true, I’ve always been one too ‘determined to lose a few pounds,’ ‘learn a musical instrument,’ ‘gossip less,’ ‘be more charitable,’ ‘do yoga consistently,’ etc. etc. It lasts exactly 1 month before I knowingly brush my “resolutions” aside because of my new found life motto of ‘being true to how and who you truly are.’ Everything is easily manipulated to suit my owns moods, needs, desires, wants, in this girl’s life. But not this time.

Today is January 1st, 2015 and I want things to be exactly the way they were when I was woken up this morning by an alarm set at 11:50pm on December 31st so that we are awake for midnight together. To find myself so determined to want to be doing something so that my superstitious self can revel in the mere fact that that apparently will set the tone for the rest of the year. I’ve had youthful drunken New Years after party hopping and dancing till my feet hurt, I’ve had comforting New Years surrounded by family delighting in each other’s quips, I’ve had memorable New Years spent making last memories with friends who I will lose before the year ends, I’ve had depressing New Years where I will find myself asleep before the ball drops after having had one too many glasses of wine, I’ve had adventurous New Years where I will find myself walking down the main-street of a great metropolis dressed in only a strapless dress and heels in –1° weather. So much laughter, tears, love, loss and yet, this New Years has been the most meaningful. I don’t know if it is an age thing or if its just my good luck….the simple joys of life I spent indulging in this New Years (where I have not made a single resolution by the way) has come to mean the most. I hope this does set the tone for the year. So that I will find myself constantly amused and amazed, loved and in love, laughing and screaming, eating and drinking, sharing and just being. This New Years I am thankful for life and all the wonderful people it blesses me with.

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So you care?

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Throwing pebbles by the roadside, dragging his worn little leather shoes in the dust, the child, no more than 3 stands there alone, playing in the dirt and grime. There is a prominent cut above his right eyebrow, like he’s been hit, so you care. You care enough that you put down your things by the side of the rain drain and sit down to keep him company. He is the neighborhood’s little boy. Not entirely sure who his family is but still you care, care enough to while away a few hours with him. Showing him how to play five stones and hop-scotch. His infectious laughter makes you forget that he’s hurt. That he could be in a violent situation. His beaming soul blinding you, fuzzing out the pain and the worries. Almost making you believe in a bright and sterling future. You walk together to the corner shop for juice boxes and potato chips. He tells you about his grandmother who makes the yummiest meals. You think maybe he at least is being fed and clothed. But still you care, care that there is that precarious cut above his right eyebrow and conspicuous bruised on his upper arms. He asks you to race him back to where you were playing before, and you do, despite your uncomfortable formal work shoes. You heave and sigh from being so out of shape and he laughs his mirthful laughter. “But you’re not fat,” he says, amazed at your inability to run. You laugh and you care that you are making him laugh. You think maybe you could take care of him.
Lights dim down, and the darkness of nightfall threatens to end your time with this beautiful soul. He realizes it as he shudders closer into your lap when you sit down to tell him the one local folktale you remember in full. You care so you kiss him right above the little cut above his right eyebrow. Then comes his mothers call. A little angry, a little scary. You wonder if its because you think he is being abused or if she really did sound that furious.
He jumps out of your lap. Looks at you and smiles. You hold his little hands in yours and tell him to take care. Another bellow and hes gone. You watch his tiny figure disappearing into the subtle darkness. You stand there and keep watching because you care. Helpless but you care. Unsure but you care. So I care, but cannot do anything about it. So what if I really care?

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Welcome Occupational Hazards

Sometimes I love my job, of course sometimes I hate it too, but then there are these things that happen because of my work, more specifically, meeting people who make life a little bit more bearable. Since I started working at the corporation I work for now, I have in under 10 months met some wonderful wonderful people. I think a lot of times people enjoy meeting people who make them feel good about themselves, but these are not the people I am talking about. I have met people who reinstate my hope for mankind. There are some wonderful souls out there. Some that remain, despite the world’s consistent attempt to jade us, genuinely good/kind. Ones that remain blissfully content with what they have in life, whether they earn in hundreds of thousands or barely-make-it paychecks every month. I like bringing myself around these people. I think on some level I hope that they will rub off some of their positivity and kindness on me. I, foolishly or not so foolishly, hope they will, in their simple uncluttered way of life, inspire me to nip my permanent “vie maladie” at the bud once and for all.

Thinking about all the people I have yet to meet in life, wonderful people like I have met in the past couple of months, makes me a little bit more excited about the future. Think of all the lives that will intersect paths with yours, doesnt that make life appear a little bit more interesting than it is when you think about just the redundant routines you will be subject to anyhow?

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Does someone appear to be trying too hard or are they just different?

Over the weekend I was invited to attend a farewell dinner hosted by my office for this outgoing senior personnel. Assuming it was an official-ish event, although the invitation said casual/informal, I thought it was more appropriate to dress a bit on the conservative side. So I slipped on my longest dress and threw on a black lace cardigan over my outfit just to give it a little ‘demure’ jazz. The event went on longer than I had hoped, which meant people were drinking a little more than they should, so when one of the senior guys at work came up to me and said, “Stop trying so hard” (given he was ‘smilaughing’ which is basically a little more than smiling but a little less than laughing, you know that awkward smile laugh combo we all do sometimes) I was a little surprised. I wasnt sure what he was alluding to, and I totally caught myself off-guard when I automatically responded, “I dont really have to try so hard with you lot,” and smilaughed right back at him. Then he laughed laughed, put his right arm around my shoulder and said, “It comes naturally to you doesn’t it.” I smiled back at him, but I was still not sure what he meant. I just let it go since I dont really know him all too well.

Still, being the over-analyzing, neurotic person that I am, I couldnt help wondering what exactly I appeared to be trying too hard at? Did I appear overdressed in my LONG skirt amidst girls in their jeans? Did I seem a bit too enthusiastic to dance on stage when they called everyone to come do the chacha slide? Was it inappropriate to respond “I would like a glass of redwine please,” when all the other girls asked for juice or soda? To hell if I know. But I am pretty sure I was just as I always am….being me.

I fear this weekend event was just another reminder that people at home still see me as being ‘Americanized’ or ‘Westernized’ but at this point in my life, I couldn’t give a crap about it. I am comfortable being how I am, and besides, if being how I already am appears to some like I am trying too hard then look the other way. I am not paying you to watch me and deduce why I am the way I am (I have my effing therapist for that, shoot!). I much prefer being me – wine drinking, bohemian skirt wearing, chacha sliding, too many retorts for my own good kind – than a hipster with your hipsterism and ennui when you’ve barely lived across the border and your parents pay for all your “vintage obsessions,” and trust me, those are a bounteous find in my city today.

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Keepsakes

ImagePhoto: Patrick Ng via flickr.com

I spent my Saturday clearing out shelves in my room. As I was going through the boxes I remembered I have a slight problem of becoming too attached to anything and everything even remotely sentimental. I have piles of sketches and doodles done by friends or myself over the years; I have cards and pictures, books, even photo IDs (library cards), bank cards, and gift cards no longer valid but a crucial reminder of a time in my past. I think I have always been the sentimental type with such things but it got worse (or better, however one might choose to look at it) as I began to travel a lot. Ever since I was sent to boarding school half way across the world when I was fifteen, the value of each little piece of paper that reminded me of someone or something multiplied tremendously. I have little sheets of paper where I’ve scribbled down descriptions of people and things or revelations of my own feelings as events were unfolding. Going through them yesterday took me right back to those exact moments and I very much appreciated my own efforts in trying to preserve my past (albeit short past seeing as I am only in my twenties).

Everything in there was in a way a little part of my being. All those keepsakes have in their own ways shaped me into the person I am today. Going through what I have kept made me think of all those other special items I did not keep, like the handwritten letter this boy wrote to me in the 4th grade. This one was special because he passed away too young for his age and a family member of his told me that among his keepsakes was a picture of me he had ripped out of our school magazine. I had never gotten to know him but I identified with the sentimental part of his personality and that touched me. There were of course others, jewelry and particularly books from friends and family with little notes written on the front page, most of which I had lent out to people and never bothered enough to have them returned to me (I am terrible for asking my things back when I’ve asked once and the other person doesn’t seem to do so). I wonder where these things may be now. Destroyed? In some landfill? In another part of the world? Or as my hopeful part whispers, cherished by someone else in the world. I hope the latter.

Of course getting emotional right at the beginning of my spring cleaning did not help, every little space I had hoped to make on the shelf for my newer things is still perfectly occupied by all the significant little keepsakes from my past.

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