Consequences of Choices

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A statement that I often hear, and am also fond of repeating quite frequently is – I don’t have a choice. After years of hearing and making this self defeating statement, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that this is the biggest lie we tell ourselves. Not that this realisation has stopped me from taking this easy way out.But what I am very sure of now is this- We always, always and ALWAYS have a choice. What we don’t like are the consequences of that choice. But choice we always have.

I think the reason we like to take this route is because it’s the easy way out – to feel like a victim in the hands of a variety of forces- destiny, fate, karma. Call it what you will, the only constant  is this feeling of powerlessness, of being a victim. Maybe it’s a bad job that you are “stuck” in; or perhaps it’s a bad relationship that you realise just isn’t working for you anymore; or perhaps a city that you don’t want to live in. All of us have, at some time or the other, found ourselves in a situation or place in life that we don’t want to be in. How we ended up there really is irrelevant- bad decisions, bad choices or well bad karma! The essential thing at that point of time is what we choose to do henceforth.

I think I have spent a better part of my life feeling this way – living my life with a feeling that I don’t have a choice. When my son was very young, I felt I had no choice but to quit my job and be a full time mother- a decision that is for no one else to make or judge but mine alone. However, it is this “no choice” rant that, in retrospect, I feel is the most debilitating. Now, with the wisdom and clarity that are the gifts of hindsight, I can say that yes I had a choice. It was the consequences of that choice that I did not like. I could have left my son with a maid; or perhaps my mother or my mother in law; or explored day care centres. That is not to say that the alternatives were easy to come by or to put in place. But they were there- I chose not to exercise them as I didn’t like the consequences- delegating, and to that extent compromising I felt, my child’s upbringing.

So very often I hear people talk about a bad job or an abusive relationship but they choose to continue suffering anyways. Reason? I don’t have a choice. But what they don’t want are the consequences of that choice.  Perhaps it means losing the children if one walks out of a bad marriage; perhaps ones house and financial security, independence or at times your very life, as you have known it till now. The choice is difficult no doubt. But the choice is there. If you choose to continue in a bad relationship or job, do so but as a conscious decision rather than as a victim.Every choice has a consequence but the important thing to realise is that there is a “choice”.

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I read a post by Elizabeth Gilbert sometime ago where she touches on something similar and points out very succinctly that the problem often is that there is no Plan B in place. The fear of the unknown, unfamiliar is indeed unnerving. And it’s alright to be scared. In fact, as she says , it’s alright to not even have a Plan B. It’s alright to know  “Not This” even when you don’t know what else. I don’t know what else, but definitely “Not This”. From there follows the rest. Unknowingly  we make our comfort zones and fall into repetitive behaviour patterns that are difficult to break out of. The comfort may be just the familiarity of a situation, even if a bad one, and the absence of a vacuum rather than any comfort per se. A bad marriage or bad job may be just filling up gaping hole that would otherwise suck you into its vortex. To face that, is to my mind ,infinitely better than living a life of denial, of a victim. Choose to continue or walk out. But either way, do so consciously.

Life is way too precious to be wasted as a compromise and more importantly, to be lived as a by stander, an onlooker of your own life. Every moment, every day needs to be cherished, to be lived consciously as a choice. Life indeed is for the living and definitely not for the walking dead who pass off as the living. To quote a cliche, what is the end of the caterpillar is in fact the beginning of a butterfly and unless you put an end to self defeating patterns, nothing new will emerge. Rather than go down without a fight, let’s “Go to the Mattresses”!

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Moulin Rouge Snooze

 

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In one of my recent posts on Melbourne I mentioned an escapade involving me singing on the streets of Paris. This, until now, was a rather well-kept secret between me and my BFF, but now that the cat is out of the proverbial bag, let’s just empty out the entire bag.

The incident happened  the night we went to see the 11 pm show at  Moulin Rouge. In our eagerness to get there on time, we were on our way by 9 pm. The seats are on first come first serve basis and we definitely wanted the best view. We were already in rather “high spirits” by the time we hopped onto the metro. As we tried to make sense of the map in our hand and the stations we were crossing, we suddenly realised that all was well except that we were headed in the opposite direction. In my defence all I can say is that this is something that is often witnessed on New Delhi Metro and need not be necessarily blamed on our high spirits. To those of you familiar with the travails of apni capital’s metro, finding someone wanting to go to New Delhi Railway Station ending up in Gurgaon instead, isn’t an unfamiliar sight. Luckily for us, we realised it well in time and quickly changed the metro to reach the destination by 10pm.

There was already a queue outside and the wait in the chilly night air ordinarily would have been quite a drag. But since our student days we have mastered an uncanny ability of keeping ourselves suitably entertained even in the most unlikely of situations. While the bouncers ensured order was maintained, we passed the next hour giggling away for no apparent reason- everything and anything was entertainment for us. Unknown to it, the world famous can-can had stiff competition outside its very own gates, a competition that was only to get stiffer as the night progressed.

Finally the doors opened and we were ushered in. In our over enthusiasm we had reached a bit too early so our seats were way too up ahead close to the stage. Consequently we ended up craning our necks or twisting it in various unsightly angles for a better part of the show.  We had pre ordered a bottle of champagne while booking our tickets and as soon as the show started, champagne was served.

20150817_021650 If I had to put it succinctly, the show was bedazzling- extravagant, opulent, lavish – grand but not quite as erotic as we had supposed it would be. Or perhaps topless women just don’t work for us! Or maybe with all that we are exposed to in our normal day to day lives in this age of no barriers, the cabaret isn’t as hot as it must have been in the years gone by. But it is definitely a must watch on your trip to Paris, even if to say that it wasn’t all that it is made out to be.  Had it not been for the paucity of time, we would have definitely visited Lido as well.

Anyways we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves, sipping on the champagne and admiring the fitness level of the performers, both men and women, when suddenly I realised that I had missed an entire scene of the ongoing show! To my utter horror I realised that I had in fact fallen asleep! I turned around to inform my friend of this ultimate blasphemy, only to find her fast asleep! Can there be a bigger insult to the much revered Moulin Rouge? At least I woke up, and in an effort to keep myself awake, concentrated on finishing the champagne, which in retrospect wasn’t a very wise move. My friend on the other hand happily slept right through the entire show, waking up only to snarl at me when I dared to disturbed her slumber.

Finally the show got over at around 2am by which time I was totally sloshed, while after her restful nap, my friend was all bright eyed and bushy tailed. It was in such an inebriated condition that I tried to outdo the performers of the can-can on the streets of Paris. Thankfully I limited my performance to the singing and did not even try to break into a sexy cabaret. All hail adarsh bhartiya naari!

Of the events after the show, I have rather hazy memories. I do have faint jumbled up memories of singing “Main tou beghar hoon,apne ghar le chalo.…”; of refusing to get into a cab that my friend had hailed and insisting on walking back instead; of later trying to get into a parked limo much to the amusement of the driver. Considering the shady area of Paris that houses Moulin Rouge, the infamous Montmartre – city’s red light area where peep shows and sex shops abound- safety in the dead of the night was rightly a concern but only my friend’s, not mine. A drunk person is a rather jovial and carefree one!

How we got back to the hotel I really can’t say. All I do remember is being quite as jovial the next day as well! Moral(s) of the story – French wines show you how to live it up without wasting any time in wretched hangovers. And secondly, downing an entire bottle of alcohol, even of the mild variety, as a means of staying awake and entertained, isn’t a good idea. While I remembered the first on our trip to Melbourne, I duly forgot the second. Consequently another bottle was single headedly sacrificed at the altar of my entertainment at a dinner we were invited to, though sans the singing I seem to resort to after drinking. Ouch…That’s yet another cat out of yet another bag! Let’s leave the Melbourne cats in their bags for now, lest they open up a Pandora’s Box instead!

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Of Root Canals and Marriages

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A few days ago was my 12th wedding anniversary. Incidentally, it was also the day I had to go for a root canal. Whether this was an “ishara” of the “Dil Tou Pagal Hai” variety I can’t say but it gave me tremendous perspective on marriage and on life in general. For the 1st time in 12 years, the pain of the root canal overshadowed every other thought. Life really is all about perspective!

As I sat on the dentist’s chair, the past 12 years flashed before my eyes as did all the times I had gobbled up ice creams and played truant when it came to brushing at night. Or the times when I had brushed but feasted on Lindt’s chocolates after that. The dentist did promise that it was only the prick of the initial injection that I would feel and well, he wasn’t too much off the mark. What he did not mention was the dull, numb pain that would continue to throb in my jaw for the next few days. Just like in a marriage you are lured in by all the hullabaloo and the finery and feasting, not to mention the promises of eternal love and all that jazz. What everyone conveniently forgets to tell you is that, like it or not, your life is no longer yours alone anymore. There is always an additional baggage, even if it is a Louis Vuitton suitcase but there it is!

To give the devil his due, my “Pati-dev” has in fact been rather nice to me of late making me wonder what is wrong. As a friend pointed out in Melbourne while I was trying to convince him to eat a plate of fish and chips that did not smell like fish – “If a fish does not smell like fish, there is something fishy indeed”. Point noted. What my non smelly fish is up to I can’t say and truth be told, after over a decade you pretty much don’t care either. As in there are no surprises whatsoever. And if there are any surprises, they are so only because you choose them to be so. To use the fish analogy, if the plate of fish suddenly begins to smell, it’s simply ‘cos you ignored the smell so far or had become oblivious to it – the smell was always there. Or on a brighter note, it was chicken on your plate all along instead of fish!

Coming back to the root canal, seeing my jitters, hubby dear was nice enough to accompany me, much to the amusement of the dentist. Other than that, as always, no other special treatment awaited me – nothing fishy in that! It would have been rather fishy if I had in fact got the customary bouquet on time. Why step out in the scorching heat, waste time, energy and petrol just to give a bouquet on time? So goes my hubby’s decade old logic and by now I can’t really argue with that. Hail indolence!

So it was that the day passed with me whining in discomfort of the root canal rather than the marriage which by now it seems has numbed my senses in any case. Evening meant the customary dinner which didn’t seem to make sense given the condition of my tooth. However, the boys insisted and we went anyways as sonny dear wasn’t going to let go of a good Italian meal over something as silly as a root canal. While these guys chomped away on chicken and thin crust pizzas, I was slowly swallowing risotto. God bless the Italians for their very own yummilicious khichdi.

By the time we got back, the deadly combination of wine and pain killers had pretty much done me in. I was safely tucked in by hubby and the mongrel kept at bay. I did not get my bouquet until the next day as all the florists had shut shop by 9pm. And for once there was no fight over it. As I said at the beginning- life is all about perspective. A bouquet is rather irrelevant when your jaw is pounding away in pain. Besides, that hubby dear made the effort of accompanying me to the dentist meant more than getting the bouquet on time. Not that the latter would hurt but well…can’t win them all!

The next time you want to whine about something that is wrong with your marriage or life in general, get a perspective- get a root canal ! I’m sure life will suddenly start looking way better as it was sans the pain and gratitude for things that we seem to take for granted will creep in – like not having to make that solitary trip to the dentist. And if you are lucky, you may even get the bouquet on time!