Sunday, August 14, 2016

(High) Five Lessons from Bombay

Hello all! I’ve often wondered what’s the right greeting to be used here and quite too often, I’ve started a post with ‘I’m back’. So am using something different here. 

Coming to this post, I’ve wanted to write this for a long time, in different ways. But over time, I realized that there’s no point in saying a thing that has already been said in many ways by numerous people. 

When you want to talk about Bombay (I know it is Mumbai; but I prefer Bombay), no matter what you try to say, someone, somewhere would have already said that before. This recent post is a case in point. Here, the writer beautifully describes how life in Bombay is a struggle, yet you fall in love with it. A simple look at this page will show what various people from different walks of life had to say about Bombay. Funnily enough, I kinda agree with everything that has been said about this city. I am no different. I am totally in love with this city. It was not love at first sight. It took time. But once that love happened, it has only grown on me. 
Mumbai/Bombay: The real city of dreams

That being the case, I begin to wonder what endeared me to this city so much. How has it impacted me? What have I learnt from this city? Here are some musings:

1.      Mind your own business:
The most striking aspect of this city is how everyone minds their own business. Everyone is so busy here (or atleast, they seem to be) that nobody really has time to wonder what the other person is doing. Everyone minds their own lives and get on with it. I was amazed by this. I can be myself, unabashedly, without the fear of being judged. Not that I care about being judged or something, but this city is truly remarkable in this aspect.

2.      Never Complain:
Bombay is not perfect. No city is. Every city has its own problems. Yet, what amazes me is how little people complain in Bombay. The house rents are exorbitant, owning a house here will only be a dream for most, the traffic comes to a standstill on highways during rains, the local trains are almost always full, and so on. Yet, very few complain. They take it all in their stride and move on. A year in Bombay has made me realize that complaining will not solve any problem. This has really made my life better and that, I owe it to this city.
This pic perfectly sums up the 'never complain' attitude of the city

3.      Leave your egos behind; you are nothing/ nobody/no one:
I may sound like Arya Stark from Game of Thrones, but it is true that in Bombay, you are no one. You may be someone/somebody, but that is only when you get into the league of Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and the likes. Until then, you are no one in Bombay. I learnt this truth soon enough. When I landed a job and came to this city last year, I was over the moon. I had my ego and I thought I was someone. But then, I realized soon that a degree from a top college and a job with a pretty pay package aren’t really achievements to be flaunted. I looked around and found people who have achieved much more, but were still counted as no one in this city. This city can have that humbling effect on you. Even in an area like quizzing, where I considered myself to be reasonable good, I realized my place soon enough. The city ‘s quiz scene showed me that I was an amateur at best, in the face of competition from some of the country’s best quizzers. Whatever little ego that I had in me was gone in the first few months. I realized that there’s a whole gamut of opportunities and to become someone in this city, it would require some real achievement, which would require hard work and dedication. The gist of it all is that this city shows your place soon enough and inspires you to aim higher.

4.      Move on:

You may have heard this many times. Whatever happens, life moves on. No city exemplifies this fact better than Bombay. Rain or shine, recession or depression, the crowds that you find bustling in the mornings and the evenings, will always be there. I was really surprised how no rain could stop these people from going about their routine. I learnt a very important lesson there. This spirit of the city helped me get over some tough times and move on. Even when this happened, it was this city’s spirit that helped me get on with life and return to normalcy. We all crib about so many things in our daily lives. I am no different. But there again, this city has brought about a change in me. I no longer dwell on those past mistakes. Whenever I feel low or I feel like cribbing, I take a local train ride to Dadar or Churchgate or Bandra. All it takes is a little walk amidst the bustling crowd or a simple, serene walk by the seaside to get my spirits back. That way, this city has taught me that no matter what, life will just move on and you should learn to move with it.

5.      Be independent:
We may be dependent on others for so many things and it may not be possible to be completely independent. But it is possible to live your life the way you want, without depending on others. This city provides the perfect platform for such a life. There are so many things that I started doing independently in this city, that I discovered a new self. I explored the city on my own for the first time. I discovered that there’s no better company than solitude. To be with self, is a discovery from within. I had friends joining me from time to time. I had Vibha accompanying me to the seaside or new eateries sometimes and I had Gaurav taking me to some Hindi films or Sandeep Saw accompanying me to some Tamil or Telugu films, now and then. But my best company has always been solitude. That independency is something that I started to enjoy. It helped me discover a new world and learn new things. I learnt cooking (I cook for myself everyday now and am a decent cook). I learnt to solve the Rubik’s Cube within 2 mins and am learning to solve a 4X4X4 cube next. I began to rediscover my interest in the keyboard. I rediscovered my love for teaching and that has helped me go to TIME and take classes on weekends for students preparing for CAT. There are so many other things that I keep exploring and learning every day that it is fair to say that I’ve gotten used to this independent life that this city has gifted me with. When people ask me about getting married and settling down, I tell them that marriage doesn’t figure in my scheme of things at all. Atleast for now. I am 27 and this city doesn’t compel you to conform to society’s rules like elsewhere. Maybe a year or two later, I may give it a thought. Till then, it’s me and my life. If you’re a girl and if you’re reading this and would be interested in getting married a year or two later, give me a ping. It may work. ;-) Who knows?

Silly jokes apart, what I mean to say is that, in this city, more than any other city in our country, I can choose to live my life the way I want, without worrying about the whims and fancies of the society’s rules and restrictions. I can go to the seaside at 2 AM and take an auto ride back without any fear of safety or getting fleeced. The best part is that, any girl can do the same thing in Bombay. I can get into a crowded local and not worry about getting out, for I know I will be helped out. I can go on and on. I feel that everyone should spend atleast a small part of their lives in this city, so that you understand what it means to be resilient.

With that, I’ve paid my small, long-pending tribute to this marvelous city that has been home to me for the past 16 months or so. With that done, I hope I can get over my laziness and write more of all that I’ve been wanting to write. Best of all, I hope I could get to work on my debut novel. Yes, it’s been on the cards for some time now, but my laziness has kept it at bay. I hope this post inspires me to get working on it again. Hope to catch you all with some interesting post soon. Ciao.

-Ashwin Murali

PS: I’ve not been paid a penny to write this post promoting Bombay/Mumbai. I wish that were the case, really. :P
PPS: Ignore that crude bit about marriage. I don’t want strangers pinging me. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

My Hospital Diaries

Well, there’s an often heard saying that goes like this: You can only plan for what’s in your control; you can’t plan for the uncertainties. The last 3-4 months have reaffirmed my faith in this saying. I am one of those guys who’s more organized than any of your average guys. I like having things planned in advance and I like being organized. It’s just the way I am. But I always had this saying at the back of my mind. 

Things were fine up until 3 days before Christmas. I had even planned on a holiday at my aunt’s place in Ahmedabad for the Christmas weekend and had my tickets booked. Heat boils are common and little did I know then that a small, seemingly harmless pus formation could ruin all my plans for the next couple of months and lay me low. 

This post is a recollection of my hospital experience - my hospital diaries.

My Hospital Diaries:

Day 0 (December 21st, 2015): I felt a slight pain in my seat. Noticed a small heat boil. Have had heat boils before. Felt that I should drink lots of water and it’ll go away, like usual.

Day 1 (22-12-15): Woke up with a slight fever. “Let me take the day off from work. Have enough leaves left, anyway.”  Took the day off, from work.

Day 2 (23-12-15): At work. “Oh, I am not able to sit straight continuously. Should go to the doctor in the evening.” I visited a doctor in the evening. Doctor said that it was the onset of an ano fistula. Said that it was alright and I’ll be fine soon. I read about it online. Details were scary. But my symptoms were different. Mild in nature. I consulted my uncle who’s a doctor and took a medicine that he prescribed.

Day 3 (24-12-15): Pain subsided a little. The boil remained a small one. I took the bus to Ahmedabad that night. Was supposed to return to Mumbai in 3 days. Little did I know then that I won’t be returning to Mumbai for another 2 months.

Day 4 (25-12-15): Christmas in aunt’s place at Ahmedabad. Slight pain was there, but the boil remained the same. No growth. Felt that there was no cause for worry, as there was no abnormal growth of the boil.

Day 5 (26-12-15): The pain spiked. The boil had grown a little – from 4 mm dia to 8 mm dia. Decided that it was best to consult a doctor. Visited a doctor with aunt and Arjun (my brother) in tow. Doctor examined the boil. Confirmed that it was a fistula and that it had started growing. He told me that the boil had to be surgically removed in a couple of days, if it does not burst on its own. He prescribed some medicines.

Day 6 (27-12-15): The pain shot up even more. The boil had grown to about 2 cms in dia. “Oh, no. Guess it’s now infected within, like the doctor had predicted. Should undergo the surgery then. No other go.” I informed my parents and they arrived in Ahmedabad that night. I decided to have the surgery the next day, as the boil showed no signs of bursting on its own and the sooner it was removed, the better.

Day 7 (28-12-15): The boil had grown incredibly to about 10 cms in dia. I got admitted in a hospital that was suggested by the doctor. Even he was surprised at the rapid growth of the boil infection. He called a senior surgeon to examine it, before he could operate. The senior surgeon said that the infection has spread rapidly and the boil had swollen so much because blood supply has been cut off to that place. He recommended surgery by that night itself. He informed us that I may lose some skin in that region while the infection is surgically removed and that I may have to undergo a skin grafting surgery later on, to replace the lost skin. He also recommended that I be shifted to a bigger hospital in the city, as he felt that the present hospital did not have the facility to cater to such a surgery. So what was supposed to be a minor surgery a few minutes back, had now become a major surgery. Oh, God! I was shifted to a bigger hospital in the city in an ambulance and was taken straight to the ICU. I was prepped for the surgery in the ICU. At 9:30 PM, I was taken to the Operation Theater (OT). I saw a teary-eyed mom wish me luck as I was being taken in. I was given anesthesia and was sedated. I fell asleep. I don’t remember anything that happened over the next 2 hours. I was woken up by the doctor at 11:30 PM. He smiled at me, indicating that the surgery was successful. I was brought out of the OT. I could see the anxious faces of my parents, brother, cousin and aunt. They were all smiling at me. Guess the doctor had informed them of the successful surgery. I smiled at them and then I was taken to the ICU.

Day 8 (29-12-15) & Day 9 (30-12-15): Post surgical recovery in the ICU. The ICU is such a unique world. I could see a few other patients lying in beds like me. Each one was fighting his/her own battle. I was fighting my own. I was bedridden. I could not get up, but the kind nurses took care of me and my needs. God bless those souls! To be a nurse (male or female) is indeed a noble thing. Only a few souls who have the innate quality of service within them, can be a nurse. 

Day 10 (31-12-2015): Was taken to the OT for a dressing. This dressing was done without anesthesia as recommended by the surgeon. It was the most excruciating physical pain that I’ve experienced in my life till now. I wish no one, I mean no one ever experiences such a pain. Horrible, it was! Thankfully, it lasted just an hour. But that was the longest hour in my life so far. Was shifted to a shared room in the ward, after the dressing.

Day 11 (01-01-2016): A new year in a hospital bed. Who would have imagined that? Certainly not me. Wishes came pouring in. I did not have my phone with me to see who all had wished. I got to see them only a couple of days later.

Day 12 (02-02-16) & Day 13 (03-02-16): Slow recovery in ward. Like the ICU, this room too had other patients fighting their own battles, with their family/friends in tow. I still did not have the strength to stand on my feet. I could sit with support, but not stand or walk.

Day 14 (04-01-2016): I was able to stand and walk slowly with support. The doctor heeded to my parents’ request to have me shifted to Coimbatore. He gave us the go-ahead. Tickets were booked and my doctor uncle agreed to come to Ahmedabad and accompany me on the trip to Coimbatore, the next day.

Day 15 (05-01-16): Flight to Coimbatore from Ahmedabad, via Mumbai. Was the most uncomfortable flight journey that I’ve ever undertaken. Was completely reliant on the wheelchair to move in the airport. Finally arrived in Coimbatore that night and was taken straight to Vallalar Hospital in a cab.

Day 16 (06-01-16): Another painful surgical disinfection procedure in the OT. “The next few days are going to be painful and challenging.”

Day 17 (07-01-16) to Day 23 (13-01-16): Painful recovery as expected. Was put on antibiotics to ensure that there was no further bacterial growth in the infected area, so that the skin grafting could be performed. Had many visitors – friends & colleagues of mom and dad and relatives, during this period. Barring my own office colleagues, roommates and a couple of my close friends who call me often, none of my other friends knew of my plight. And I was in no mood to inform anyone, as I did not want to be seen in the helpless bedridden state that I was in, back then.

Day 24 (14-01-16): The doctor felt that I may need some fresh air. He discharged me with the promise that I come for dressing twice every day. He told me that he’ll do the skin grafting surgery only when he’s fully convinced that the infected area was devoid of any bacterial growth.

Day 25 (15-01-16) to Day 30 (20-01-16): Pongal Celebrations and recovery at home. This period was somewhat fun for I felt that I was getting back to being normal again.

Day 31 (21-01-16): Readmitted in hospital for skin grafting surgery. 

Day 32 (22-01-16): Had a sumptuous breakfast with mom’s delicious home-cooked food. Little did I know that it was going to be my last solid food intake for the next 10 days. 

Day 33 (23-01-16): Skin grafting surgery. A layer of skin was removed from my right thigh and grafted in the infected region. Surgery went well. Was brought back to the room. Was asked to lie in the same position for the next 4 days, so as not to disturb the grafted skin.

Day 34 (24-01-16) to Day 36 (26-01-16): The most challenging days in this period of hospitalization. Had to lie in the same position for three days. Was so difficult and painful. Was counting down every hour, literally.

Day 37 (27-01-16) to Day 39 (29-01-16): The doctor was satisfied with my progress. He was impressed with my obedience and told me that the grafted skin had set in well and that the blood flow had started within. He agreed to have me discharged the next day.

Day 40 (30-01-16): Was discharged at last. Home again. Solid food at last, after 10 days. I had lost a lot of weight – 10 kgs to be precise, during this period. It was time for me to rest and recover at home and regain my strength back.

Day 41 (31-01-16) to Day 54 (13-02-16): Rest and recovery at home. Regained my strength. Did some office works too. Started walking well.

Day 55 (14-02-16): Went out for the first time in two months to celebrate parents’ wedding anniversary. Drove the car myself. Oh, yeah! It was a big relief that I was able to drive without any discomfort. Sign of returning to normalcy again. Bike, though, has to wait. Not allowed to drive a bike for another 4 months.

Day 56 (15-02-16) to Day 64 (23-02-16): Complete recovery at home. Felt normal again. Doctor gave me the go-ahead to return to Mumbai. Was eager to get back to Mumbai and rejoin work.

Day 65 (24-02-16): Flight back to Mumbai. Returned to familiar territory again, after two long months.

Day 66 (25-02-16) to Day 69 (28-02-16): Rest at home in Mumbai.

Day 70 (29-02-16): Rejoined work. Was welcomed with open arms at work. Oh, I missed this place and the people so much. Things are back to normal again.

Some takeaways:

1.      Surround yourself with the right people: I had the good fortune of being amidst the best of people when the situation warranted. I had my parents, brother, aunt, cousins, all other relatives, friends and colleagues taking care of me, praying for me and wishing me well. All this made my recovery much easier. I can’t imagine what might have happened if I did not have the right people beside me when the situation warranted.

2.      Have a good medical insurance cover: I was fortunate that my company was not only professional enough to give me sufficient time to recover (2 months, in this case), but also had an excellent medical cover for its employees. I’d suggest everyone reading this to go in for the best medical insurance cover available, if you do not have one. Even if you have a company-provided medical cover, there is no harm in going for a better cover on your own, if you feel that the cover limit is insufficient. Medical facilities are expensive these days and it’ll certainly burn all your savings, if you do not have a good insurance cover. Even if you’re the healthiest person in the world, I’d still suggest that you have a good insurance cover, because some things are uncertain and beyond our control.

 3.      Have a couple of good credit cards with you: This is something that really helped me like the medical insurance. In times of emergency, like when I was shifted from one hospital to another on Dec 28th and operated upon, credit cards came in handy. In such times, the hospital may not wait for your insurance agent to come and pay your surgery fees. Though you have facilities like cashless payment cards provided by the medical insurance cover, it really helps to have a credit card or two with you, in order to pay.

4.      Be healthy, but be prepared: Apart from being a couple of kilos overweight, I was one of the healthiest persons around. I had a healthy lifestyle with clean habits. Even the doctors who treated me were puzzled as to how the infection became virulent and started swelling in my body. It was then that they told me that such bacterial growth in an infected area due to stoppage of blood supply can happen to anybody, anywhere. There may not be a particular reason for it, for the infection was caused by one of the most commonly found bacteria. It so happened that the initial pus formation managed to stop blood supply to that region and that helped its growth. So my takeaway from this experience was to be prepared for such eventualities. This takes me back to the saying that I started this post with. Some things are beyond our control.

5.      Have a hobby: By hobby here, I mean something like reading. Let’s face it. Lying in a hospital bed all day with nothing to do but to stare at the ceiling, can certainly bog you down. That idleness may not help you in staying positive. This is where a hobby like reading helps. Even phones were barred. Got access to my phone only a couple of times, every day. But my doctors were kind enough to allow me to read for some time every day. And I read some books to keep myself engaged. Best of all, I got to re-read the Amar Chitra Katha’s version of the Mahabharata again. Even when I was back home, I could not go out. I had to miss out on a lot of things. Even my close friend’s wedding. But reading certainly helped me keep up my spirits during this period.

6.      Be positive:  One thing that I am really proud of is how positively I was able to handle the whole situation. Not for a moment did I lose hope or felt dejected. I really do not know how I was able to do it, but I did. Me staying positive, even in the toughest of times, helped my parents and those around me. There were people who kept telling me that everything happens for a reason. I was not worried about the reason for the thing has already happened. I had needles inserted in my veins and antibiotics were injected into them, twice a day. Every time a vial of antibiotic was injected, it was really painful. I’d have had atleast 50 hypodermic needles inserted into my skin during this period. It was always painful. But every time it pained, I kept telling myself that this too shall pass. I was always looking forward to that day when all this would have passed and I’d be able to sit and write about it in leisure. That day is finally here. The single most important sentence that kept me positive and kept me going during this period was this: “This too shall pass.”

I thought long and hard before I decided to write this post. I thought if it was necessary at all to talk about it. But then, I felt it was important to record snippets from this experience and preserve it for posterity, while it was still fresh in my memory. Also, I felt that it may also help the readers to learn a thing or two from my experience.

I wish you, the reader, that you never have to undergo any such experience like I underwent. I wish you a hale and a healthy life.

Here’s to a healthy life and good times ahead.


-Ashwin Murali

PS: No surgery is pretty and I decided to leave out some of the bloody and gory description of things, in order to respect the discretion of the reader. I just wish that no one ever gets to experience such things or pain in life.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

26 Vayadhinilae – I Am 26

Note: The title translates as ‘when you are 26 years old…’

Well, the reason for this post now is because it would lose its relevance in a couple of days for me. It already has for a couple of respondents.

Here’s what it is. During a casual chat with my school friends in a whatsapp group, we all realized how we were all 26 years of age, now. Wham! An idea struck in my mind. For those who may not know, ‘16 Vayadhinilae’ (When you’re 16 years of age…) was a landmark film in Tamizh Cinema that released in 1977 and starred both Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth. Taking a cue from that title, another film that released earlier this year was titled ‘36 Vayadhinilae’ (When you’re 36 years of age…). All that was left in between was a ‘26 Vayadhinilae’ (When you’re 26 years of age…).  So that was the idea. Ok. There you are – 26 years of age and you have your friends who are also of the same age. What to do next? That’s when this iconic video titled ‘I Am 20’ helped. This gave me a lot of ideas.

Very soon, I started working and spoke to a friend who worked in the print media. For all practical purposes, she’ll remain an anonymous entity in this post. She was excited about the prospect of doing an article on this topic. Another friend was consulted and very soon, we even had plans ready for a video like ‘I Am 20’. 

After a couple of weeks and a few rounds of deliberations, it was decided that we go in for an article first and if that shapes up well, further scope can be explored. And for the article theme, we decided to stick to the same theme that was dealt in the video in a more generic sense – about life at 26, the future outlook, the learnings and so on. With the sketch ready, I started the work and reached out to many of my friends who were 26 years of age. As expected, a few people responded in the affirmative to help and be part of this project or whatever you may call it. Soon, we carefully jotted down the questions that we would be asking these people. The questions were very generic in nature. The idea was to gain some insight into the minds of people from different backgrounds and how they looked at life at 26. With this, we felt we could write a cover piece or an article for the Metroplus (supplement of The Hindu) or a couple of other print supplements that we had in the pipeline.

Among those who answered in the affirmative, only a few actually responded to the questions that were posed to them. Pestering did not help and after some 3 weeks, we ran out of steam. All the enthusiasm with which we started the whole thing was gone. But to respect those who actually took the pains to respond without expecting anything in return, I felt it was my duty to do whatever I can and wrote an article. It did look okay, but the result seemed a foregone conclusion. With very little variety in the responses, even my supportive friend could not help much. Despite her efforts, the article could not see the light of the day. So here I am doing the least that I can do with the idea. Write a blog post on it and see how it goes. In the next para, I’ve written a summary of the questions posed and the responses received.

A brief summary of ‘Life @ 26’:
      The respondents are as follows (in no particular order):
            1. Nandiprasad V Prabhu, a 2nd year student at IIM Kashipur
            2. Ajoy George, a Consultant at Deloitte U.S India from Bangalore
            3. Ganesh Kumar.S, another 2nd year student at IIM Kashipur
            4. R. Rajaguru, an Airspace Manufacturing Engineer from Bangalore
            5. Shivaguru N, a writer from Delhi who’s also “an MBA student by accident”

The questions posed to them were as follows:
  1. How do you see life at 26?
  2. What do you wish to do in the life ahead?
  3. What is/are the best lesson(s) that you’ve learnt from your experience in life so far?
  4. What according to you are the most important requirements in life for a man/woman at 26?
  5. Are you happy with the state of affairs in your country?
  6. In the above question, if yes, state a few things that you’re happy about. If no, state a few things that make you unhappy.
  7. How do you see the future of your country to be like?
  8. What changes would you like to see in the society? Are you willing to play a part in bringing about that change? If so, how?
Here’s a brief summary of their responses:

Nandiprasad Prabhu:
Nandi feels that his life is pretty good at 26, and that he’s well poised to achieve something big. While he has no specific plan for the life ahead, he feels that working smart and on time in a structured way has been his biggest learning so far. He feels that confidence and a determination to work towards the goals you set are the most important requirements for a person at 26. While he’s not particularly happy about the way things are in the country, he feels that the future is bright and that we should be the change that we wish to see.

Ajoy George:
Ajoy is a consultant and typical of consultants, he feels that life’s a little confusing with lots of new responsibilities. (No offence to consultants. In a way, I am one too :-P). While he looks forward to finding a partner and settling down in life, his biggest learning has been not to let anyone deceive him. He opines that close friends, an orderly life and a decent income are the most important requirements for a person at 26. Though he detests the prevalent tax structure, education system and politicians of the country, he foresees an India that is clean, traffic-free and economically strong. To get there, he feels that it is the responsibility of each one of us to be disciplined in everything we do.

Ganesh Kumar S:
Ganesh opens on a positive note where he feels that he’s clear and more responsible at 26.  He has his entrepreneurial ideas intact and wishes to open a restaurant of his own in the near future. A pragmatic individual, he feels that his biggest learning has been to be patient and believe in self. According to him, friends, happiness, patience, determination and money are the most important requirements for a person at 26. He feels that in the present scenario, actions don’t follow words as people talk, but seldom act. He also feels that the human element of care is somewhat missing in today’s world and this may lead to a society where people chase money all their lives. On a positive note, he signs off by saying that atleast he’ll try to be the change that he wishes to see.

Rajaguru feels that he has matured well enough to take decisions on his own at 26. While he’s worried that his days as a bachelor are numbered, he also looks forward to travelling the world and enjoying life to the fullest. He feels that being good to others, respecting everyone and helping selflessly have been his biggest learnings so far.  He opines that a good friend/partner and a healthy mind and body are the most important requirements for a person at 26. While he is not happy about the employment opportunities, basic infrastructure and prevalent corruption in the country, he foresees a rosy future free of corruption and other issues. And true to his words, he says that he will begin his entrepreneurial stint soon and strive towards the betterment of the society.

Shivaguru is a passionate poet and writer and his jest is evident in the way he answers about how he sees life at 26:  “Lesser hair, an illusion of maturity (which might actually be the lack of courage to experiment on the relationship front), confusions about the right career choices, the persistent ‘Why?’ inside the head about anything and everything, desperation for a partner and apprehensions about arranged marriage make up the major chunk of what life looks like from across here.”   He feels that he looks forward to earning as much as possible, so as to allow him the leeway to explore on the creative front. To not lose control of oneself and being true to self have been his biggest learnings so far. He feels that a partner, enough income and an idea for the future are the most important requirements for a person at 26. While he’s generally happy about the country, he feels that it is up to the people to take it to the next level. Echoing the sentiments of the others, he too feels that he can be the change he wishes to see, albeit, in his own way. 

My life at 26:
So there you go. The responses were unique, but in a way, you could draw a parallel. A response from a girl is something the article lacked and that certainly reduced its appeal. Writing about the responses of these people makes me wonder how I see my life at 26. On first thought, I don’t see it being much different than it was at 25. But on second thoughts, I notice a lot of difference. I am more independent now than I ever was. This also means that there’s more sense of responsibility. I am definitely happier and my mind is much clearer than it was a year ago. I am richer in every sense of the word and am wiser. Most importantly, I am grateful to whatever I have and I don’t regret the things that I don’t have. Somewhere I notice that I have become less preachy and more proactive. I’ve realized the value of being silent and also acting instead of talking. To sum it up, I’ve definitely improved upon myself from a year ago. I only wish for the resolve to keep myself happy and spread the happiness around and to continue being positive always.

All said and done, this ‘26 Vayadhinilae’ may not have taken off the way I wanted it to, but writing it the way I wanted to, with all the freedom here has made me happier than I could have been seeing it in elsewhere. 

So long 26! You made me a better person in every sense. Your memories will be cherished. Here’s to a glorious 26. Cheers!

Hello, 27! 

-Ashwin Murali