Tag Archives: #memories

Forgotten Story

We were lucky enough to meet a lovely couple friend of ours while at the wedding of a common friend in the charming city of Pas Robles. We literally ran into them and decided to have a very relaxing brunch. While the food did a great job of satisfying our appetite, it was the conversation which satisfied our souls.

What caught my attention was the quote that one of our friends mentioned – ‘Life is a story forgotten by its author’. The context was he was talking about his dad, who has senile dementia – so short term memory loss. And his dad was a greatly accomplished man – went to Harvard. And now in some ways, it is unfortunate (or fortunate) that he cannot remember his past. When he mentioned the line – it just caught my attention.

All of us do amazing things in our life for the sole reason that we all live the human predicament. And I am not talking about going to an Ivy school or winning Nobel prize – every one of us has a beautiful life whether we believe it or not is a different story. Each one of us has gone through a unique circumstance that has made us who we are, and the universe loves uniqueness – no two of us are alike. And we end up being attached to what we did or how the society expected us to define ourselves.

I went to London Business School – a prestigious MBA school if you move around in those circles. I was one of the youngest to get admitted to the school, which has a 25% acceptance rate. That means for every 100 students who apply only 25 get selected. And while we lived in London, it was a significant portion of my identity. London Business School defined who I was. And then we moved to Columbus, Ohio, and almost 99% of the people I met were not even aware of the existence of London Business School. I also had one gentleman ask me what an MBA was. I went through an identity crisis during the first few months. And it made me realize that I did not know who I was, honestly. Who I was – was a collection of the places I had been to and my accomplishments. Not having to define myself was freeing, made possible by not having to move in circles where I have to define who I am to gain a place in the societal hierarchy. I still use it when needed but knowing very well that it is not who I am.

We do all these great things and at the end of the day (I mean death) it does not matter. If we were to lose our memory today would what we have done till date matter? Then, the critical question is, what matters? Well, if we lost our memory, then the only thing that matters is the present moment – NOW. Who we are cannot be destroyed by erasing our memories – and most of us have barely started on the journey to understand who we are. Why wait for death or amnesia to begin finding out who we indeed are?

Who Am I?

Growing Old

Incident 1: I turned thirty years old, and I remember talking to my dad who is a realist in all sense. I told him, “Can you believe it I am thirty years old?” And his response was, “Yes, and in another ten years you will be forty and another ten you will be fifty.”

Incident 2: I was serving at Vipassana and had a conversation with one of the other younger servers. She asked, “Who is your favorite Bollywood actor. I answered, “Aamir Khan.” Her response was, “He is good, but he is old.”

Incident 3: We had a get-together at my place, and the conversation turned to boyfriends, crushes, etc. One of the girls was narrating how she loved somebody, and he lacked the courage to bring it up to his family. A few others chimed in with their experiences. And during that conversation, I realized that how long ago since I had one of such experiences – it was a long time ago.

I am sure you have got the gist of the topic by now – growing old. It happens to all of us, and it is inevitable. But we still live life like it is never going to happen to us until it happens. When you are young, it is understandable – now when somebody looks at my photos and comments – “Boy, you look so young here.” I suppress the urge to say, “It will happen to you in the next few years.” They don’t know because they haven’t crossed that stage yet.

But once the realization hits you, there is no reason not to accept it and live life fully because you have the experience. The question, “What would your younger-self advise older self ten years from now?” is relevant here. What are the things you did before that you can change now because you know it’s not worth it or it doesn’t matter or make sure you cherish it as it does matter?

Living life entirely does put things in perspective. All the heartbreaks, the anxiety of getting an interview, getting into school was a tiny blip compared to the lessons I learned, memories I made in that process. In London Business School, a few of us got a lot of rejections for various companies. What I remember about that is the overnight conversations on the run-down couch with cups of chai in our St. Johnswood flat. The case studies were a real mystery to me but what I remember is the pasta dish my friend used to make when we were supposed to studying. I also remember the pangs of loneliness when my relationships did not work out, but it taught me some of the hardest lessons in life – patience, things happen when the time is right, something are just not meant to be. There are a lot more nuggets that my conscious mind remembers, and I am 200% sure that there are a lot more than my subconscious mind knows.

We do have the advantage of hindsight in some fashion – but the key is to be aware of now. If you are not fully aware of now, then you will not be able to take advantage of it and reap the benefits later on.

London – A walk down the memory lane

We lived in London for seven years before moving to Columbus. I am fortunate enough to have explored London in different phases. You experience a different London when you are a student – a different one when you are working – a different one when you are on paid holiday. London is the locus if you are into traveling so a lot of people visited us – in fact my dad used to joke that our place was like a B&B and with that comes a truckload of memories. Also the time in London was my phase of self-exploration and I spent a lot of time with lots of people – which again has a lot of memories attached to it. When we lived in London it wasn’t evident but when you come back to London I realized how every place/cafe at least in central London is like a memory stone.

Next year we would have spent five years in Columbus. And one would think that London would feel strange after having lived in Columbus for so long. But thankfully that wasn’t the case. It felt like as if we had never left – like we belonged..

Primarily its because of the connection with the people. I met up with my friend – Ranjani and we started off where we left. It was just like old days – we curled up on the sofa with a throw, had tea and chatted. It’s funny how somethings never change or rather they just follow the same path – we joke about her tea making process, spoke about common friends before moving onto what’s happening in our lives. It’s a straight cut to the chase – no formalities or talking about the weather if you get my drift. Such interactions are precious.

Another reason is the city itself – everybody is from outside so if you have led a nomadic life then you know what I mean.

One morning we went to one of our regular haunts Costa cafĂ© on Tottenham Court Road and plonked down with our electronic devices. The old couches had been replaced with the swanky chairs but the drink/ambience was the same. And then one of our friends Nick walked in and it seriously felt like old days. There is something so comfortable about hanging out with old friends – almost like muscle memory feels very familiar and comforting. And it happens on its own.

We spent a lovely day with another couple talking about food, being vegan, cycling, podcasting, dance classes. The range of topics we talk about is so different because London opens up your horizons – just living in a city which is so diverse in every which way makes you more accepting and broad minded. As you walk down streets or in the tube and you hear people talking in their native language it feels like home. I don’t feel like an outsider any more – I feel like I belong.

Walk down the SouthBank with one of Adam’s good friend – Viktor made me feel like we had never left London. The same familiar sights – book market/ Wahaca food truck/ ping pong and the hoards of people crossing from Waterloo station to South Bank. It felt so familiar – things have changed and they haven’t

We even made it out to my old Flat in St. Johnswood and as we crossed over to Regent’s park the single decker red 274 Bus was a familiar sight. We have so many memories associated with this bus. It was our single connection to the school while we were students at London Business School. And most of the time it was a race between us and the bus to see who could get there faster. And it was funny how every time you waited for the bus it never showed up and the minute you decided you had enough and you want to walk to school it will show up.

The first few days have been a whirlwind however they filled up my reservoir of memories in my emotional tank which I did not realize needed filling.