Category: Abstract thoughts

Why don’t you drink?

Why don’t you drink?

This is one question to which I never have an answer. Thankfully people never ask, ‘Why don’t you smoke?’ However for years I have been compelled to answer and explain my reasons for refusing to drink all forms of alcohol. Friendships depend on the answer I give. I have been called moralistic, judgemental, boring, anti-fun, not adventurous enough and many more such things for steadfastly refusing to drink.

But then, why don’t I drink?

Well to be honest, I was brought up to think that ‘drinking’ was not the normal way to be. In the adult world that I inhabit now, ‘not-drinking’ is absolutely abnormal. I have never wanted to drink. The smell never appealed to me. That it cost a lot of money did not help matters and neither did the fact that my parents would not be too happy about me picking up a glass of alcohol. But then again, these reasons never held me back from doing anything else that I wanted to do in life. I went ahead and did them any way. Then, why don’t I drink?

So to be really honest the answer is that I don’t respect the habit. I cannot say this to you, but you already know it, and that is the reason why you called me judgemental. Notice that I did not say that I don’t respect you. There is a difference between a habit and the person you are. I believe I am entitled to my opinion and most of the time I do keep them to myself. If you don’t want to know what problem I have with drinking, then don’t ask me. I don’t care how much you drink, that’s your life and your choices. Just like I have made mine, so I definitely respect yours. However, if you expect me to not  react when you pressurize me to drink, hound me to know the reasons why I don’t drink, and lecture me about what I am missing out in life, and still expect me to be saintly- well then you are asking for too much.

I have tried my best to answer this question a million times without hurting anyone’s feeling. I stick to, ‘I never wanted to’, which is true. I can say that it is not the only way to have fun, but that is a risky answer as it tends to kick-start a discussion, or worse – an argument. No I do not want to argue. In my teenage I argued a lot – with friends who wanted me to try to drink, with those who laughed at me and said that I have still not grown up and with those who pitied me for losing out on all the fun in life. There have been times where I have questioned myself. What is wrong with what I am doing? Why am I the only person I know, except my mother, who does not drink. Then there are other times, when I feel proud of myself. Proud- that I did not give in to peer pressure. Proud that I stood up for what I believed in, even when that meant risk losing very close friends. I have also learnt to be more flexible over the years, more accommodating. To be fair, I have also met few wonderful people who have simply respected my choices and let me be. Friends who did not insist on me drinking once I refused.

While I write this now, I am aware of the possibility that sometime in the future, I might crossover to the other side. I might drink without guilt or inhibition. However, I’d like to do so because I want to pick up a glass of wine, or vodka or beer. It should not be because you forced me to, or that is the only way to retain friends. I am not hurting you by not mirroring your choices. All I ask is for you to extend the same courtesy to me that I extend to you by respecting your way to live your life. And about being judgemental, well I really don’t know how to not have an opinion. I do know how to keep it to myself, but then, don’t ask for it if you don’t want to know the answer. I do have very strong opinions about everything. That’s me.


Miss you, lil one

Tiny, pink and sleepy. That is how you were for the first few months that I knew you. No matter what dreadful shift I returned from, I heard you crying and saw your sleep deprived mother trying hard to just put you to sleep. And then as if my magic you became the nicest baby boy that I ever knew. You cried only when you needed to be fed and the rest of the time you preferred to simply sit and stare. Oh you did flash that cute chubby smile of yours but that was once in a while.

Every time I saw you, I had the distinct feeling that you were growing bigger and looking different. I hated that my job gave me so little time to see you despite all my initial excitement about having a baby right next door. In the past month or so you were a permanent fixture in my house. With my mother’s summer vacations on I saw her hold you in the morning and evening and night! I remember the day you wet my jeans thrice in 20 minutes but I also remember that I still wanted to sit there holding you as you looked all quite and chubby.

You looked the cutest in the past few weeks as you learned to roll over and made faces when your gums itched. It was time for the first of your milk teeth to come and by now you had learnt to laugh. It was not a quite smile of a baby, it was a loud and happy laughter that made all of us want to hold you tighter. Every time I held you, your cherubic fingers made a dash to pull my hair. As if my hair falling out on a regular basis was not enough, you were there to make sure you pulled out a few more strands with those chubby fingers of yours. If my hair was tied, my specs would be the second target. All you wanted was to be held and carried around. You made sure you always had the attention of someone or the other and you were the apple of so many eyes. You just had to smile and a room full of people smiled along.

But baby the way you went was just bizarre. The last time I saw you it was the rain outside that had your interested. I tried to get your attention but all you wanted to do was look out of the window. I went to work in the morning on a regular week day and when I returned post mid night my mother told me you were gone. Just like that.
It’s not like I have not seen death before but how can a baby just choke on its own food? How can you go away in a matter of minutes? How can you go away after having lived just 8 months lil one? We were already talking about your first birthday and that you would soon start walking. We looked forward to you knocking at our door just like your 3 year old sister did.

All I can say is that life and death seem extremely irrational to me. You not being here just feels senseless. As your parents cry their eyes out in their grief I still find it hard to believe that you are not around. Maybe it is because I wasn’t around during the hours right after your death. But that is how life is, isn’t it? It just changes in minutes, sometimes seconds. The seconds you wished never occurred.
And for your sake I find myself wishing that the talk about life after death is true. I imagine a happy place for you where the angels watch over you lil one. You’ll be missed and will never be forgotten.

I am vertically challenged.

I have trouble reaching for overhead handles in the train. I am most likely one of the shortest people you will meet, if not the shortest. Oh and a confession. I don’t know how much I exactly measure because if it is less than even 5 feet then I’d rather not know. 😛

How does my height affect me? Well frankly speaking on a day to day basis it does not. It did not affect my studies. I always did reasonably well in academics. I work for what is considered to be one of India’s leading English language news channels. I studied on a partial scholarship at one of the most reputed journalism colleges in India and based on what I scored, I think I did rather well.

But then what is the problem about being ‘short’? If you were me, I’d say put on a thick skin as you grow up because every wedding/party/event/gathering that you shall attend, relatives (mostly not well meaning ones) would rip you apart. You shall be inundated with advice on how to grow taller, though I don’t think how cycling or swimming will help a 23 year old because unlike weight, height is not something that you can change after a particular age.

‘You are short’. ‘Oh how short!’, ‘What a pity! You would have been pretty if you were taller!’

You shall hear a variety of the above mentioned sentences. Also you shall learn synonyms of the word ‘short’ in all the Indian languages you know and speak, some of them a polite way of expressing your physical appearance and others downright insulting. You shall hear them with certainty.

One of the earliest comments I had heard was this. ‘Oh you will not get a good guy to get married if you don’t grow taller’. Ladies and gentlemen I was in class 7 then. Oh yes I certainly cared about marriage back then!! I haven’t met the man who said that to me since then.

But after all my experiences I have come to the conclusion that people who have made my height the focal point of our interaction generally come in two categories.

Category 1

That aunty there in a party, definitely not good looking and most likely has a daughter, is she coming your way? Well then run! She will pity you, politely put you down and make you feel that being short was a national disaster.

But you know what? If you look next to her and look at her daughter (Oh she will be the mother of a daughter for sure) then you will need no further answers. Making your height seem like a big deal is her way of telling herself and most likely those around that, ‘So what if my daughter is dark/fat/not so pretty, but this girl right here is ‘short’ and that is worse!’

Category 2

Your friends are most likely to make fun of your height now and then and leave it at that. I don’t mind the comments because most of them make sense or sometimes arise out of funny incidents. But there will be this one set who will put you down the most. That girl or boy, who is just an inch taller then you, yes that one right there. You think you can be comrades in arms against the big bad world? Ha Ha!

They will be the worst. You know why? They have faced exactly what you have but with one difference. They have met another person ‘shorter’ than themselves. Oh and it does feel very good to them to remind you of how they are one inch, one centimeter or even one millimeter taller than you. They shall not be as mean as the aunties but it will infuriate you to no end because they are ‘short’ too!

I am short. I have always been made to be aware of that fact by a lot of people I met but considering that in my day to day life my height doesn’t affect me in anyway, I wondered what made people react the way they did and continue to do so.

I realized it is mostly not about me but about them as well. Their insecurities, complexes and prejudices have a huge role to play.

And me? Well I shall head to the ice cream stall the next time I see that aunty with a daughter in tow heading towards me. (Sometimes they are uncles too but they shut up when they realize you have a career)

Screwed Nuts N Bolts

"An idle engineer's mind leads to a screwed up blog."- Anonymous