Chai in one hand, confidence in the other…

mom 9

Hey guys, long time no see. God Lord, have I just revealed my age by saying that. I guess I meant Yo Man, or whatever hep acronym is going around these days. It’s just that the mood has finally struck and I have to write. Write about this thing that I simply call Learning to Say Yes That’s Me! And I am Loving it! Let me put in a disclaimer at the very beginning here that I hold no official “degree”, but the very fact that life itself is a learning process gives me some creative liberty to propound on my own experiences and life lessons.

So, as usual I was on FB, laughing away at the enormously funny Michael McIntyre stand up acts and also keeping a constant eye on the royal rom-com When Harry Met Meghan. Quite a delightful tale there isn’t it? I can literally visualize “…and they lived happily ever after!” in the puffy dream clouds. That’s the kind of hopeless romantic I am. But coming back to the main topic, I accidentally chanced upon this wonderful Bystander Revolution: Own your Mistakes talk by the very stunning Salma Hayek. I have to admit here that I have a huge soft spot for everything Latino — music, food, clothes, art and the people —  they are beautiful, vivacious, immensely talented and overall ooze a very friendly vibe. Plus that accent, ouff! In one of those overwhelming moments of camaraderie, I even went ahead and got meself a permanent 4.5 inch Despacito tattoo on my right arm. That’s a saga in itself.

The video I was talking about had Hayek speaking in her endearing manner about how “your mistake belongs to you!” Do not let anyone use it against you, own it! she said, going a step ahead and suggesting we throw it back on the face of people who mock us for erring. As I listened to the 1.06 minutes of powerful word flow, I was reminded of an incident that happened years ago when I was just a teen. It’s not about a mistake per se, but kind of taking charge of life’s slippery situations. We were at the Railway club playing in the evening as usual, when this bunch of boys accosted my little brother at the TT table. “Kyon be, do you have only one nikkar, kal bhi yahi pehni thi?” jeered one of them as the rest snickered in tandem.

Now I am this fiercely protective badass elder sis and having overheard the comments, I was swiftly off the carrom game and on my way to give the group of rascals a goodish piece of Gunjan didi’s mind, when something quite dramatic happened. My baby bro just looked up at the smirking big boys and quipped: “Haan bhaiyya, hum log bahut gareeb hain, mere pass ek hi nikkar hai!” 

I cannot describe the shocked look on the boys’ faces. It was like an ego balloon just deflated. The boys couldn’t believe a little kid could say such a thing. Plus where do you go from there? It was the most royal comeback I had ever seen and for a moment I just stood in admiration. I mean what Do you say after THAT? It’s not rude, so you can’t retaliate. It’s not typically smart alecky, so you can’t retort. It’s a junior simply owning his situation so completely, so matter-of-factly, so confidently! The delightful dis!

I was toh bhai maha impressed! And did a u-turn back to my carrom table with a smile on my smug face. The boys never ever did bother my brother again. The fact that even though the youngest, my brother grew to be the Pahari Jinder Mahal may also have a little to do with it. But the invaluable lesson I learnt there has stood me in good stead. Of course there are times when you are low, off guard, vulnerable and people do manage to poke fun and shake you a bit. However, there are equal, if not more, number of times when you get a kick out of  just owning the situation, mistake or YOURSELF!

Times when maybe you have put on  bit of weight and there is this one annoying person who just has to comment. Times when you look absolutely fine, in fact gorgeous, but one Komolika clone has to go “aaj bahu thaki hui lag rahi ho, sab theek hai?” Immediately puts you on the back foot, and typically you go to ridiculous lengths explaining how everything is fine, you are well blah blah blah… maybe even rush to the loo for  quick touch up. It’s all quite stressful and you realize you don’t even really like that person and owe her no explanation at all. What if you just quipped instead: “haan yaar dysentery ho gaye thi!” and coolly walk off flicking your curly locks for good measure!

What if, as soon as the neighbourhood Cruella de Vil goes: Moti ho gaye ho last time se…. yack..yack…

You go instead: “Haan Aunty!” That’s it! Agree completely, wholeheartedly and SMILE! Mean it, own yourself. No argument, no blabbering explanations and no cringing as you bite into the buttery paneer tikka and ask the waiter to come back with some malai kabab! (NB: fitness definitely comes first girl, but at your own pace, in your own time!)

Gradually you’ll arrive at your own awesome dises. There are times I feel like kicking myself, coz I think up the most quirky dises in hindsight. But I am training. And getting there slowly. Like this one time recently when right in the middle of a super fun session with the girls at one of my favourite cafes in the Gaon, Ms Lalita Pawar had to rear her ugly head with “hey your chehra is looking quite peela today!” Out of the blue! Complete silence followed. All the laughter just evaporated.

I dismissed it with “I am like this only”that day, but driving back home, Red FM on full blast, I thought why didn’t I just say: “haan darling, kal raat haldi doodh jyada pe liya na!” and clinked my glass of Chardonnay in her face! Would have done Shobhaa De proud.

In his bestseller The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck, Mark Manson argues that “Human beings are flawed and limited—not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault,” so why not know your “limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.”

The point really is this: revel in YOU — imperfections, mistakes, shortcomings et al. YOU are unique, and no one, absolutely no one has the right to make you feel any less! Like Hayak said: Your mistake (imperfection) is a valuable tool for growth and for life,” learn to say “so what?” to the face of those making fun of you… “If you say yes! so what? they are powerless.” Remember, Tomorrow will be another day, next year is another year! What an empowering thought! Happiness after all, is being yourself, in a world that is trying to change you, I constantly remind myself, hell bent on “embracing the glorious mess that I am,” and also working on that wit in hindsight. Yo! Chai in one hand and ….

(Written in mycity4kids)


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