All the joys of being free I haven’t experienced, at least yet!

Smoothened hair

I have wild, wavy hair. It has been years now that whenever I go for a haircut, the hair cutter tells me to get my hair straightened. I love my hair as they are. Do I sometimes wish they were more manageable? Yes, of course.

My hair in all their natural glory. My mom’s take ,”Aa ki bhootni wangu baal khilaare aa. Ban aina nu”

I don’t shy away from experimenting with my hair. After all its ghar ki kheti (I don’t even know how to translate that). I have had red streaks, last year I got half my hair shorn. This year I thought it’s high time I try smoothening and smooth over the heartburn of all the barbers who have ever handled my hair. It was on my agenda when I landed home. It still hasn’t happened. Not that I haven’t tried. I have gone across to half the beauty parlours in town and inquired about it.

  • How much will it cost for my length and type of hair?
  • How long will it take?
  • So is swimming a no no after smoothening? (The thought of not being able to swim because my smoothened hair won’t get along with chlorine horrifies me.)
  • What if I get sweaty? Does sweat harm the smoothening? (I hardly sweat, but what if I do?)
  • What special precautions will I have to take? (I am lazy when it comes to hair care. Case in point – once a dermatologist told me I have oily skin, so there is no need to oil my hair. Voila! I followed this advice to a T and haven’t oiled my hair in years. Lesser the taam jhaam , the better!)
  • What special hair products will I have to use? (I don’t like using special hair care products either. When my shampoo is finished, I take mom and dad’s)

The parlour people bear with me and it’s clear they don’t have a lot of customers with so many queries who still end up not availing the service in question.

I keep telling myself that my hair are a renewable resource – they will grow out. I still haven’t been able to muster the courage.

All that may change. Winter is coming. The swimming season is over. I might take the plunge.

Getting laser

I have never been in favour of getting laser done for restoring my vision. It felt like an unnecessary intrusion into my eyes’ personal space. But this year, I gave it a thought. It would be nice to be free of glasses. I got my eyes checked and inquired about laser.

My doubts didn’t take long to come back. I was flooded with the thoughts of a flatmate in Bangalore who had got laser done. She used to avoid swimming because of her dry eyes. Just like with straightening the standard question I ask myself is, “Will I be able to swim after I get this procedure done?” (Somehow swimming is my benchmark for most dilemmas in my life. It would seem like I swim a lot.“A lot” of swimming hasn’t happened since a few years. It’s just that I cannot bear the thought of not swimming if and when I wanted to.)

The doctor wasn’t able to satisfy me on the vexing question of dry eyes. He went, “It’s common but it goes away.” It never went away for the said flatmate. So I passed on laser. I don’t want to get weird medical conditions that I don’t have now. I would rather prefer glasses. Also, swimming before everything!


I became interested in farming during my fellowship. Before that I had no exposure to it. Being a born and bred city girl, it never caught my fancy. My granddad tried hard to show me the beauty of growing things but I was always like,”Na, I am good. You carry on”.

This time I had made up my mind to do some farming after getting back home. We have a plot near our home where we grow fruits and vegetables. It was my granddad’s pet project. After him, my grandma took over it. I had a thought of helping out, looking after the plants and learning stuff. I had also thought of going to PAU (Punjab Agricultural University) to learn more about farming. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make much progress. The few times I have visited our farm, it warmed my heart to see nature at work. But I have not been able to keep up the momentum.

I hope to change that in the coming months. Now that winter is here, the idea of sitting in the sun on the farm is enticing.

Making organic manure from kitchen waste

I am very conscious of not generating much waste and managing as much of it as possible. Back in Bangalore, I religiously segregated my waste. In the village, I followed the same policy, albeit with a difference. I used to leave the kitchen waste in the vacant space beside my house every morning. Various animals – cows, crows, chickens, dogs, squirrels used to pick and choose from the menu. Within minutes, it used to be all gone. It was a thing of beauty.

I planned on carrying on the good work at home. The Bangalore model didn’t fit – waste segregation at source has still not caught on in Ludhiana. The village model is not appropriate too – the variety of animals around my house is not as extensive as in the village and the waste is more. Plus I don’t want to weird out our neighbours.

I had to come up with something else. I thought of collecting my kitchen waste everyday and dumping it in a pit on our plot to make manure. Since I haven’t been able to go to the plot regularly, this plan hasn’t panned out. I can’t keep more than a day’s waste at home. It starts smelling.

Also the ladies of my house didn’t warm up to the idea of keeping two dustbins in the kitchen. My mom summed it up, “Tu inni vehli hain taan kar daya kar segregate”. On the bright side, I shared this idea with my nanaji and he loved it. He asked my nanima to follow it with their kitchen waste.

I have started becoming more active now. We have orange trees on our plot. They bore fruit for the first time this season. I didn’t want to throw away all the orange peels. Some online research showed that peels are edible. I gave that a thought but it didn’t sound so appealing. Plus how many peels could I really eat? I passed on the idea to the family. Let’s just say they didn’t want anything to do with it.

Then I remembered this face scrub ad from when I was young – the USP was that it was made from orange peels. I started drying the peels in the sun and making a powder out of them. I don’t really do face masks but now that I have made ample powder, I got to do something with it! Also thinking of passing some of it to relatives. If anyone had any doubts about how much time I have on my hands, this gives a clear idea!

orange peels
The dried peels and the powder making. Let me address the anomaly. The orange peels are green. According to our maali, that’s because they are a variety called Malta which doesn’t “orange” much.

Going to a meditation camp in Dharamshala

As I said before, I have been trying to build a meditation practise this year. I got to know about ten-day residential meditation camps in Dharamshala. They sounded inviting – ten straight days of meditation with like-minded individuals with no outside contact including no phones , laptops etc. The “no outside contact” sounded good on one level but was alarming to me on another. What if there were some creeps in the camp and I got stuck in a horror movie scenario?

I visited two of these camps to see what they were all about. They were on an isolated hilltop and that didn’t help my Savdhaan India mindset. Surely I couldn’t meditate while always being alert. I would really have appreciated being able to keep my phone. I decided to give it a pass.

I love the concept though. Maybe sometime in the future when either I become less cynical or they start allowing mobile phones.

Becoming a part of a community

This year, I am spending a lot of time home. I don’t venture out much. Stephen Covey says in the chapter “Sharpening the saw” that one should sharpen the social saw by becoming a part of a community with an emphasis to serve. It made sense to me. So I set out thinking about organizations around me. My grandma is a member of Arya Samaj. Some of my relatives are into Art of living. Then there are all kinds of phony babas. Surely I didn’t want to get caught in a sex cult.

I find Art of living followers too devoted for my comfort. I preferred Arya Samaj. So have I accompanied my grandma to the weekly discourses? No. The only thing I have done, repeatedly, is make a note in my diary to go.

I am thinking of starting by serving the vegetation on our farm. Hopefully I can start with plants and eventually make my way up to humans!

A trip to Europe/ Northeast

One of my close friends is based in Europe. He had been asking me to visit since long. This year I decided since I am free, this should happen.

It hasn’t really panned out the way I thought. Something or the other kept coming up and just like that, the best months of summer in Europe are over. To be honest, I didn’t take any concrete steps to make this trip happen except getting to know what a Schengen visa is and telling my parents multiple times of my plan. My mom’s response,”Dip into your savings girl. We are only sponsoring it when you have a husband in toe.”

It’s not too bad though. I have seen so many European honeymoon pics of friends on Facebook, it almost feels like I have been there already!

I had my heart set on one other trip as well. Last year, I sat scanning the map of India. I realized that I have been to all the states at least once, except the North eastern states . This year I planned to correct that anomaly.

Every time I sit down to plan it, I put it off by a couple of months. The plan gets cancelled with reasons like , “ It must be cold”, “It must be raining too much”, ”Oh, it’s flooded”, ”Is it safe?” I must say I haven’t been able to muster the courage yet to undertake this trip. It’s on my mind with all the other doomed trips waiting for their moment in the spotlight.

I did make it to Goa for the first time in my adulthood, so it’s not all bad.

Working out anywhere except the gym!

I had taken a three-month gym membership which expired at the end of May. I didn’t renew it because of multiple reasons – I needed a break since I was hitting a plateau, I wanted to try working out at home and I wanted to join a yoga class to work on my flexibility. Update : neither the working out at home nor the yoga class happened. The yoga class was at five in the morning. I just couldn’t find it in me to wake up that early for yoga. My parents fared much better – they used to come back to greet a sleeping me with,”Asi jake vi aa gaye.Tu suti reh”. (We are back from the class. You keep sleeping)

Working out at home was similarly doomed. I just couldn’t get in the mindset of moving my limbs at home. It was like the house was telling me, “No! Not here. This is the sacred place where you lounge on bed all day. You can’t defile it by exercising here!” I struggled with this for four months. Finally I gave up and rejoined a gym. House :1 , Mehak : 0.

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