A New "Nita"
A New "Nita"
No sooner did the clock strike 1 PM than Nita submitted her answer sheets and rushed out of the exam hall. She ran past many of her friends; she did not manage to stop by and wish a goodbye but her beaming away said it all. All of 18, Nita was certainly over the moon to be going back home after almost 10 months. It was her first time away from home and family; she had developed a keen interest in interior designing at quite a young age, she chose to be a part of an elite college to pursue her studies. Nita worked for it for years to crack the entrance test thereby securing a scholarship based spot.
Bangalore, Nita’s hometown is a beautiful city where Nita had spent all her childhood. She was emotional and desperate to land in the place where her heart was firmly rooted. Nita had found it hard to acclimatize to a new city; enjoying the weather in Bengaluru, strolling in the gardens of the city, reveling amidst loved ones and indulging in her favorite local foods- everything flashed in front of her as she endured the train journey-a Jeffrey Archer novel keeping her company.
Nita received a warm welcome back home. Her family and friends left no stone unturned to surprise her, pamper her and to attend to her from the word go.
A breakfast date with her sister
As the delicious Masala Dosas arrived, in the quintessential Bengaluru’s MTR restaurant, Swapna reminisced how her Sundays were never complete without a date with her lovely sister, Nita albeit after a 1-hour run in the city’s popular Lalbagh Park. She immediately ordered in 2 cups of hot coffee too when the waiter had just about finished serving the Dosas. As much as Swapna missed Nita’s constant chatter over food, she was concerned about her sister’s strange silence. When probed, Nita replied rather listlessly how all of this is anyways temporary. She could possibly enjoy it for another month; however, after that, she had to be back to normalcy at the University. Nita confessed all her failed efforts to replicate her life in Bengaluru back in the new place. She had resolved to not get attached to Bengaluru as much. There was low spirit written all over her face.
Swapna immediately quipped, “Nita, all of this is quite understandable. I empathize with you. It hurts me very much that you deprive yourself of the present moments in anticipation of a not-so-fancy near future. Is it even worth? How about getting back to being the old Nita who loved exploring and learning new things? What if you slowly got closer to the new place and removed the anxiety, insecurities, and inhibitions? Is it impossible?”
Comfort zone is a tricky place to be. It is not entirely wrong to enjoy the comfort zone for it makes one happy, positive and enthusiastic. These are essentials after all. Nevertheless, if it is going to retard one’s growth and ability to take on challenges, then it better be revaluated? Of the many potential chances to do that, is to travel, like in Nita’s case. Travel encompasses a journey where one stumbles upon different people, lifestyles, cuisines, customs, art and so much more.
Old friends know it all
Nita woke up after a good 8-hour sleep. Exam times had made her sleep cycle turn irregular, holidays was the right time to set it all right. She was not surprised one bit to see 106 unread messages on the whats app group that constituted 16 people. They were a “gang” of sorts. She could not wait to catch up with them over a movie followed by lunch.
When Nita read the personal messages of 2 of her best friends talking about what to wear, guessing each other’s’ accessories and color preferences et all, she realized it would be so hard to build a bond of this kind with her new friends at college. What could be the reason? Nita wondered if it was academic competition or merely a consequence of growing up.
At luncheon, each member of the group interrupted the other. Everybody was crazily eager to share their bit. Some spoke of the vast campus their college boasted of while others narrated funny anecdotes from the days in college. A few continued to quietly finish the Paneer Tikka and Gobi Manchurian in the starter plates. As if to add a touch of sentiment, one of the girls took them all back in time. She recalled how, a decade ago, each of the 16 members barely knew each other. Time, circumstances and efforts had brought them together and indeed kept them all together. The whole group seconded it. There were arguments, disappointments, busy schedules, adjustments, yet the group had stood by one another in all these years.
Acceptance is a rare quality. It is unfortunate how, as kids and as old people, we possess acceptance as if like a natural. But all the reluctance exists as teenagers and adults. Sadly, acceptance is written off as submission, compromise, and lack of assertion. In reality, it is an endearing quality that makes one stronger and confident.
New thoughts dawned on Nita. Perhaps, her new friends at University would one day become as close and special as the old ones? It does not have to be every single new person. May be a few? True, things need time and well, patience is surely a virtue. For Nita, her relationship with people seemed to demand acceptance and a sense of calm. Travel equips individuals to look beyond, to experiment and try, to give one’s best, to be ready for a change. Most importantly, travel leads to an internal dialogue where conditioning and a fixed mindset vanish.
A happy family dinner
Two full weeks had passed since Nita had arrived. Phone calls and people had poured in to know how Nita was getting on. Her parents were relieved and extremely happy that they had their Nita all for themselves for the next 3 weeks. Dinners at Nita’s home were devoid of any intrusion in the form of mobile devices or even TV. The four of them believed in real conversations. It was a simple yet powerful tradition followed for ages.
As Nita’s mother prepared the dinner table, she enquired Swapna if she still wanted to eat the oil-free Rotis or did not mind the vegetable Pulav with Raitha (Yoghurt combined with cucumbers, spices and vegetables). Swapna was infamous for her diet plans. She would go without sugar for 3 days and then eat a dozen Jamoons dipped in sugar syrup on the 3rd day. Her explanation – Jamoons are homemade and mom made and hence healthy. Swapna admitted her Vegetable rice cravings while the rest of them had a hearty laugh.
Nita’s mother had observed Nita from close quarters. Nita’s grades were fantastic and her health too was in a good state. But there was something missing and she had to be sure what exactly her daughter was going through.
Nita opened up with her family during their conversation; she told them that the last 1 year was quite a daunting task. Nita described how she struggled with feeling guilty over petty issues thereby disturbing her concentration in studies. Nita had failed miserably in handling priorities and saying ‘No.' Nita had a very disciplined, organized and structured environment back home. So, when there were sudden changes in food, study or even sleep schedules, Nita felt handicapped. She missed her dear ones and often sulked if there was a disagreement with her roommates. It was not totally bad either. She had found a few friends, managed to do exceptionally brilliant in her studies leading to an internship opportunity, even. But somehow, on multiple occasions, Nita was close to regretting her decision to move out. The phase had felt like a lot of pressure.
Silence fell over the dinner table. Nita’s mother spoke, “Nita, firstly, I want to truly appreciate the fact that you have handled it all independently. I can sense how much of a herculean task that must have been at a tender age of 18 with no prior exposure. But I also want to add that, you must refrain from disengaging from communication with those who you love and trust. It can make a world of a difference to ask us, share with us and seek help from us.Regularly.”
Secondly, continued Nita’s mother, “Honestly, the travel and relocating to a new place has taught you life lessons that were hitherto unheard of in your knowledge. You do not realize, but travel has transformed you, Nita. Without your knowledge, you have tried to know what comes first to you, to not budge blindly but patiently explain if you didn’t want to do something; you have learned to let go of small things and keep a bigger picture in view. Not always in life, one gets an opportunity to have the best resources and an ideal set up. It depends. It differs too. And, you, my dear Nita, have come to a point where you do not expect things to be perfect. You are a diligent girl who can turn things around and succeed. Going through a phase of pressure is Okay but you have emerged a winner in every sense."
Nita’s father spoke too, “Nita, your mother or I could not have taught you all these through small talk. You have to experience it to learn. You have done it very well, Nita. You have grand ambitions. You will be going places in future be it for higher studies, employment or when you start your own family. What you are learning at the moment will serve you very well much later in life. Incredibly proud of you”.
Nita’s mother continued, “Travel is like the therapeutic breathing phase in meditation. You have to take in the best part that comes your way and release all the negativity. That is the purpose. It does not happen overnight. It demands a lot of practice and perseverance. It involves diverse techniques and assistance too at times. You may not get all that you want. You have to change and evolve. You will need to learn, unlearn and then repeat. All along, you make memories and realize your true potential. The progress is seen even in the smallest details of your life. When you land an opportunity to travel, it is an enriching process.”
Swapna learnt a great deal hearing about all of what was discussed and intently watched her sister’s expressions change from being clueless to feeling better and more prepared.
A sweet little takeaway
Life is a beautiful blessing. It is important that each of us understands what we truly want out of it and how we want to live the “one wild and precious life we have”. There is no one way or a constant way of doing it. Travel is only one of the several ways and a fantastic process to unravel the hidden secrets of life. In Nita’s case, thanks to her travel, she saw how life is not meant to be lived in regret; it is not worth making odious comparisons; the power of metamorphosis from old patterns to new, exciting ventures is profound; the best things may not come wrapped prettily nor do they happen in the most convenient way.
Young blood like Nita should be inspired to find their calling. They are the posterity.