But first,

selfie

(Or maybe, coffee)

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#marathimuli

After more than two weeks of thinking through whether I wanted to or if I was even in the mood to host a mini Ganesh Chaturthi dinner, I finally figured I had to do it this time. I got a couple of messages from friends who were looking forward to it and I knew it wasn’t going to be like last year. This time round,  everything was going to be different.

Because it is different.

Things change, times change.

What remained the same as last year was the feeling of love and joy, dressing up & being around a few people and knowing that no matter where life is heading, you’d always have some memories to look back upon and smile. To feel grateful for.

Ultimately, that’s really all I care about when it comes to festivals. If you’re like me, spiritual enough to respect that people get to have their own set of religious beliefs and, you’d agree that if any festival is celebrated with the people who love you and people you love, people who have been there for you and people you’ve been there for, and if you’re present in that moment, do a small ritual and feel immense gratitude, it is more than enough. You get to choose how you want to live your experience.

Amongst all the amazing photos captured that day, these three will always remind me that despite everything,

you have a choice.

To pick a family,

To dream freely,

To hope without fear,

To laugh without guilt,

To cry with your heart,

To love with your mind,

To sing your very own song,

To live with what you have and make the best out of it.

P.S. if you’re wondering what’s happening up there… you know, we were just trying to dance on “raat ke dhaaii baje” and “pinga” for very obvious reasons. Also, did you notice my freakishly bendy fingers?

The Saree Secrets.

Just a couple of weeks back I got a chance to wear a saree after ages . I’m not sure what it is with me and sarees but I have a thing for them. I’m yet to figure this out :) I think I was fascinated about wearing sarees (since 13 or so!)way more than being able to drink, drive, party or anything else people are generally excited about around that age.

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Thank God for self-timer!

Being in Singapore, you don’t always get a chance to wear all your beautiful Indian clothes which are otherwise just catching dust. I have always liked wearing Indian clothes so there were times I would just imagine an occasion for myself and wear kurtis and patiallas to Design School, or be the only 17-year-old wearing a black and turquoise saree at a New Year’s Party.

I thought Arijit Singh’s concert was pretty decent an occasion for a saree! It seems it was also the Rare DiseaseIMG_3451 2s Day. I didn’t know about this till the next morning, but it was surely a big enough reason to wear what felt good. I chose to not wear a sling that day – I let myself do this sometimes. Only SOMETIMES.  So when I  do make a choice like this, I am usually prepared in other ways — 1. I had taken extra pain medication, not just for my shoulder but because the night before I couldn’t get a decent sleep and that made my lower-back feel worse. 2. I  had spent the earlier part of the day being even more kind to my right shoulder, lower-back and knees, and 3. I was out with friends who knew my condition a bit better than the rest, and that always helps. 

With a lovely golden blouse, an elegant black saree, matching earrings and accessories, I think I looked like a perfectly normal young lady on the outside. The truth is, all the not-so-normal things were underneath my saree giving me the right kind of support I needed for that night. And no one even knew!

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I wore my Hush Puppies Body Shoe. All I can say about them is that they’re really ugly but useful. They are not anti-slip, which is scary, but they’re so amazingly comfortable to walk in. I threw away the black pair just a few days back so I had to wear the brown ones.  And of course, my knee guards! There is no being out at a concert (or anywhere) without them!

On the days I need to be out of the house for longer or make sure I don’t need to be carried around by someone, I must have proper footwear. I need shoes which provide me with right kind of support for my high-arches. I need shoes which give my feet enough cushioning so that my lower-back doesn’t cry in pain later. And, if I want to reduce the chances of my kneecaps dislocating even by a small percentage, I’ve got to have my knee guards on. It’s not as if I feel no pain just by wearing Orthopaedic shoes and knee guards, but it’s just that if I didn’t do these things, managing my pain later gets almost close to impossible. I have gradually become okay with the need to wear ugly shoes (sometimes!) with a saree or black knee guards with a short skirt.

About six months back, I threw away my entire collection of heels – right down the chute, one pair at a time. I used to love wearing heels! I could even dance in them easily if I felt like it.  I cried quite a bit that day because it was a massive step forward. I really cried a lot. I let myself cry a lot. I think it’s natural to feel sad each time you have to let go of a part of your past – it’s like giving away a piece of yourself or your old self. I had those shoes in my wardrobe for far too long! I was holding onto the hope that someday, I’ll be able to walk in heels again. Sure, someday I might be able to! But that someday isn’t today. Or tomorrow. Or anytime soon. I realized I was only making things difficult for myself. I wasn’t letting myself accept my changing body and  my new needs. I had to let go of those shoes so I could let go of memories that were holding me back.  And I did.

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The next day I woke up feeling lighter and emptier in a good way. I still felt a sad. But it felt like I had more space in my heart for something new. Anything new.

I had the most amazing time at the concert, even though I was wearing ugly brown shoes that didn’t match my saree at all. I don’t think it even matters that much to me anymore. I’m not always wearing shoes that don’t go with my clothes, but when I have to, I try not to let that drag me back into the past. Really, if it weren’t for these ugly but useful shoes, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the concert as much. I got a chance to wear a saree, take lots of photos, watch Arijit Singh perform live and have a nice dinner with a group of close friends after that. I think that was enough for me to say that I had a brilliant day! I had to deal with extra pain later but that’s okay – that’s just how it is usually. It takes me a couple of days to recover from being out at such events.

Slowly but steadily, I’m starting to let myself be what I am right now. It’s not as if I don’t feel bad when I have to pick unattractive Orthopaedic shoes over gorgeous high-heels or make any such choices, but I surely don’t hate myself for having to make these choices. The times I feel upset about these things, I just let myself be upset for a bit. After a while, I come back to respecting the fact that I have a rare body with really rare needs.