In my early 20s.. and more.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of time, it was the age of wisdom and the age of foolishness.

Not to quote Charles Dickens in vain, I am just using his precious words to describe a period of extreme shakiness, ambiguities and indefinite levels of self-confidence. Being in your early 20s. What a time!

Two of my closest friends are in these most glorious years of their life right now and every time I hear about their exciting adventures and unfortunate setbacks, I miss being 21!

Don’t get me wrong; life after 25 is better than I expected it to be. In fact, I’ve never been more at peace with myself.

But it’s nothing like being young and inexperienced. The thrills, the insecurities, the sudden rush of excitement, the indecisiveness and the false sense of stability.

‘Consequences’ was an unknown concept. And all you could think of were ways to escape reality.

I miss my ‘I can conquer the world’ attitude. Fresh and unfazed zest for life. Nights that were spent talking to like-minded people about taking charge of your life and making things happen for you. Watching friends fall in and out of love faster than you can get through a gooey chocolate cake. Pep talking them out of a broken heart and back to life.

Ignoring all signs of growing up and listening to ‘Chop suey’ on the repeat mode.

For me, my early twenties were full of contradictions. Like most twenty somethings, at one point I had it all. I had a plan and I knew where I was headed. The best job, great friends and a life that was a complete joy ride.

And then one day, it all came crashing down. Don’t ask me how. It just did. It always does. It’s not just an early 20s phenomenon. But this is when it is the most significant, because you have deal with it on your own. No one really helps. Honestly, no one can help. Even if they want to. You’re so far along in your evolution process, that they can’t play catch up.

You drift away from your friends. On various pretexts. Most of these are pure crap. Deep down you know you are just isolating yourself, because they remind you of how good your life was and what it’s not anymore. It’s never about them. It’s all about what you had and what you’ve lost.

But moving away from these people helps. Extreme desperation pushes you out of your comfort zone. Now, you’re truly alone. And guess what, you survive. Cause, you’ve just spent two horrible years in a haunted house infested with rats, bats, centipedes and honeybees. And you’ve made it to the other side, without so much as a physical scratch. Although, let’s not get in to the emotional aspects of this phase, you’re pretty damaged on that front and you know you’re beyond repair. But you’re fine. And you can walk. Soon, you’ll be up and about your business.

What else? You meet new people. You make safer relationships. Relationships that don’t consume you. People that don’t hold you back. You no longer feel the need to explain yourself to irrelevant parties. You can hold your fort and well. Your concepts of space are stronger. Better.

You are no longer chasing a wild dream. You don’t see yourself covering the greatest story in the history of journalism or winning the Pulitzer. Rather, you see yourself chalking out your way towards these goals. Slowly. One step at a time.

You no longer read autobiographies and self-help books. You’ve moved on to more solid literary readings and soaking in as much as you can. You’ve got to make a stronger point at the next constructive, intellectual conversation you have with that person who has an over inflated image of herself.

You are letting go of your grudges. You’ve made a conscious effort to recognize your mistakes and you’ve stopped blaming others for the mess your life is.

Above all, you stop planning. If my 20s have taught me anything and reinforced it time and again, is that I have to stop planning every step of my life. Because plans just don’t work. And by stop planning I also mean, not having back up. They are for the escapists.

Life is an orchestrated mess. And the sooner you accept it, the better it is.

The greatest gift of your early 20s to your late 20s is waking up each morning with the enthusiasm of a six year old and the wisdom of a 27 year old.

Sincerely, there couldn’t have been a better time to experience the ups and downs the early 20s bring. Teens have their own issues, what with sibling rivalry and all. And after 30, you’ve got all these societal pressures you’ve got to concentrate on ignoring. Early 20s is when you have the strength to survive. Late 20s is when you write about it!

-Inspired by two of the most interesting 20 somethings I know.

One ‘Sunny’ day; And puppies are nothing like babies.

Let’s just say we were pet sitting for someone this weekend. A nine weeks old yellow labrador puppy. Named Sunny. The most adorable long ears, a lovely shinny yellowish brown coat. And the biggest paws you’ve ever seen on a puppy. Bright twinkling eyes. And trust me when I say this, he snored like an 80 year old man.

In the day and a half that I spent with this little yellow ball of droopy eyes and snuggly paws, I have absolute new found respect for pet owners. For people who bring home an animal and give him/her the love, affection and the time. For human beings who devote their lives and share their space with a non-humans. I didn’t realize until recently, the efforts that go in to bringing home an animal and loving him to be like one of your own.

Because puppies are nothing like human babies. Yes, they are cute and adorable. And they sleep a lot. Not to mention they have small frequent accidents. But, the truth is that they demand your love. And not just the affection, but the kind of attention that makes you wanna drop everything and pick him up. And the minute you pull him out of that crate, where he kept racing up and down, all whiny and teary, he drops his head on your shoulder and blends in. He might as well be a part of your t-shirt, he’s that quite now. Complete camouflage.

I’ve always questioned unconditional love between parents and their children. And to a large extent, I believe that there is no such thing as unconditional love among human beings. How can it be unconditional love, when something is expected out of children at every step. Something that includes trophies, medal, degrees, a fat salary package, a spouse, children. Not all parents expect their children to be prodigies. I guess there are exceptions to every rule. But nobody wants their children to grow to be street musicians or a painter.

But I realized over the weekend with a puppy running haywire in the house that the love between a pet and his owner is as close as it gets to being unconditional. Well, the fact is that your dog is never going to get home anything except the occasional dead bird or a dirty rag from the road, but his owner will love him the same amount. Without any accolades or achievements, a dog will still wait for you everyday. With that long drawn face and a wagging tail, he will still wait for you to command him to eat. No matter how hungry he is, he will fetch the ball you’ve just thrown. Without any temper tantrums, he will wait patiently for you to unlock the front door and take him for a walk. And trust me, I haven’t even experienced half of this. But somewhere I know, that if I do ever get over my fear of dogs, it will be picture perfect.

One fine day, Sunny, changed the way I looked at dogs. As we dropped him back, I wondered if I’d ever be able to explain to people that somewhere beyond my irrational fear of dogs is the sheer concern that I wouldn’t be able to appropriately reciprocate his love and that I would fail this little puppy.

He’s in a happier place now. Chewing on a bone all day long.

Jiah Khan… who?

Let me begin by saying that my thoughts and prayers are with Jiah Khan’s family and I hope and pray for her soul to rest in peace. Where ever she be, her family is going to be haunted by the huge void she’s left behind. But eventually, they’ll make peace with it and her memories will fade away. If, the Indian media let them.

Because, long after she’s gone and her loved ones have moved on, the Indian media will continue to dig out horrendous details about her personal life and flash it across the morning newspapers and news bulletins. Similar to the events that have quickly unfolded after the news of her suicide was made public.

I’m pretty sure, some newspaper publication somewhere in India, immediately called for a ‘stop press’ action after this news broke. Well, now that would be an exaggeration, but this wouldn’t be as unhealthy as the media coverage Jiah’s suicide is receiving over the last two – three days.

News reports regarding the suicide case have explored different angles of this story. Note, I am no longer calling it ‘news’, because honestly, after Jiah was found dead the news element kinda faded away. What was then left of the story was the reasons behind her suicide and the routine procedure there in. But, two days after the suicide, Jiah’s sister found a six pages long suicide note, which was analyzed to pieces by the media. Parts of the very personal letter were even printed in publications such as the Times of India, which is not only violation of personal space, but an extremely unethical thing for a publication to do.

In the publication’s defense, they claimed that the family granted them permission to publish the excerpts from the letter. As a consequence of which, another publication went ahead and blamed the mother and Jiah’s upbringing for failing to manage her personal life, washing dirty laundry in public and on top of all succumbing to pressure.

The easiest thing to do in India is to blame the parents for any misdeeds done by their children. Drugs, rape, pregnancies, betrayal, divorces, cheating, lying, murder or suicide are all blamed on the upbringing. As if to say that the external world had absolutely no role to play in a person’s development and his parents have in some form failed him/her by messing up his/her childhood nurturing. No guesses there, right!

I have just one question to the media, the opinion leaders and the people who think they can pass random judgements about just anyone: Who is Jiah Khan?

Why is her life so important to the media and hence to us? She is no Prime Minister of India, No Sachin Tendulkar or even Shah Rukh Khan. Then why is her suicide making headlines?

Honestly, she was an upcoming Bollywood starlet, with not more than three movies to her credit. None of which were anything close to a hit. Secondly, all her roles were extremely sleazy, without any hint of an acting career except for that she was sizzling hot.

That’s it. Beyond this point, nobody knows and nobody really cares about her life.

But the stories on her suicide sell. Human interest stories about people’s misery and plight sell like hot cakes and the media cashes on this. The media doesn’t care what they are inflicting on the common man, because the media believes that he likes to read about a woman who had a volatile sexual relationship with her younger man, who not only abused her, but also forced her to undergo an abortion. I’m not entirely sure how a woman of her ‘caliber’ and ‘talent’ can let a man, a younger man, walk over her like he did. But that’s not for us to discuss, because sure enough in a couple of days, you’ll read about it in the Times of India. Needless to say on the front page.