This blog post is a continuation of the previous blog post, which you can read here
I was 8 when I learned how to ride a bicycle. Every evening, my mom used to take me down in the colony to practice riding on my royal pink cycle with two attached wheels for support. I used to struggle with not knowing where to look because all my motor senses were working in full force and my young brain was confused. I thought the best place to look at would be the ground because I would be able to look at my legs and hands both at once, that’s when my mom caught me and told me off. She said, “If you keep looking at the ground, how are you going to tell where you’re going or what you’re hitting into? Look up, straight and forward!”
14 years later, I was able to make sense of this. The only difference was that I wasn’t learning how to ride a bicycle anymore, I was learning how to navigate through life.
The first few days in Coimbatore were really tough to get through. Mundane tasks started looking like huge icebergs in the middle of the sea which didn’t allow me to look further and I didn’t know how to get my ship moving all by myself.
Retail Anxiety, Not Therapy
Although all three of my meals were taken care of by the godsent Vijay Bhaiya, I still had to get other necessities like toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, etc. At first glance, I’m sure you’d think, “What’s the big deal? You could have just ordered online.” Well, there were only two delivery apps that were active in Coimbatore and even those weren’t functional in the area that I was living in. The second question that you’d probably ask me would be, “Why didn’t you go buy them from the nearest store?” And frankly, I don’t have an answer to that except that I was scared. I was scared to venture out on my own and interact with people. I was scared that they wouldn’t be able to understand what I was saying and vice versa. I mean all I really had to do was pick up the items, get them billed, pay for them and leave but I was too caught up in my own head to see how simple the task really is. What scared me more was the journey that I’d have to go through to get to the store, which was yet another iceberg.
The Dreaded Conversation
On an average day in Gurgaon or Mumbai, when I booked a cab or an auto to go out, I never thought so much about “how” I was going to do it but here, in Coimbatore, I was thinking about it every waking moment. Booking autos made me more nervous than I had ever been for any interview I sat for and that says a lot. How was it any different, you ask? Well, let me explain. Every time I booked an Uber/Ola auto, I had to brace myself and take a few deep breaths for the conversation that would follow when the driver would call. In Coimbatore, the price mentioned on the app is never what you paid. The driver always called to ask for the accurate pick-up and drop location and also to increase the cost mentioned on the app by at least ₹60 but if you were smart enough (and thanks to Vijay Bhaiya, I was) you’d know that you had to bargain and bring it down to ₹30. Sounds easy, right? It would have been if I knew the language.
Let’s just say there were multiple instances of my rides being cancelled because there was a mutual frustration (i.e inability to understand what the other person is saying) from both ends of the call.
48 Hours of Nothing
This iceberg was one that everyone else looked forward to but me, the weekend. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved a day or two off from work when I could sleep for as long as I wanted to but that’s literally all I could do. I didn’t know what to do with 48 hours of having nothing to do. I tried watching some random show, tried catching up with friends and family and even after all that I was still left with time to kill. I could have gone out and explored but again, I was too scared to do that. I recently read somewhere that if you’re alone on purpose, it’s solitude but if you’re alone by default, it’s loneliness. That’s exactly what it was.
It was very easy for people on the outside looking in to tell me that I should go out and do things by myself and stop complaining about being alone. Even as I'm writing this, I think about how I made a big deal of everything around me and how I could have gathered more courage to deal with it. But I think it's important to mention how at that point in time everything was very alien to me. I wasn't only in a new city where I wasn't familiar with the local language for the very first time in my life but I was also all alone. The thought that there was no one whom I would be able to call who could come pick me up if I got lost was the scariest of them all. I preferred being in the little safe bubble I had created for myself which mostly included staying in my room and doing my own thing, no matter how boring it got.
The Turning Point
When life gave me lemons it gave me quite a few dozens of them in just two months. Here’s an anecdote to elaborate on this further:
On a random Saturday, I went to the office (yes, I had to go to work on Saturdays) and I took out my laptop to work on a presentation that was due in 2 days. I waited a few minutes for the laptop to turn on because well, technology. I pressed the power button again just to be sure but there was no response. I brought out the laptop charger and there was no response, yet again. That’s when the panic set in. My laptop, as I knew it, had stopped working completely. I called my brother and my dad, the two men in my life who love electronics more than they love themselves, to help me figure this out. They gave me an entire list of tricks to try out but not one of them worked. The panic was getting deeper by the minute. The last resort was to take my laptop to the nearest store where I went with all 20 of my fingers crossed (hands and toes) in hopes that they’ll be able to make the laptop work again.
I ran all the way to a store where they redirected me to another store in another area where they told me that it was going to take at least 3 to 5 business days to repair this device. 3-5 days when my presentation was 2 days away? I swear I was almost about to faint due to the panic that had taken over my entire body. I had all my data with all the Excel sheets saved on the laptop and there was no way I could make the presentation without all that. I called my dad again but with tears flowing down my eyes this time because the panic knew no bounds. My dad suggested talking to the store guy and asking him to do the oldest trick in the book - remove the battery and put it back again. With the little optimism I had left in me, I asked the store guy if he could do what my dad suggested. He looked at me like I was the dumbest person on the planet but I pleaded with teary eyes and he had to agree to it. In the next few minutes, my tears turned from sadness to joy when I FINALLY saw my laptop working again. The store guy smiled on seeing me jump up and down around the store and didn’t charge a single penny :)
As I'm writing this, I'm thinking about how funny it was for me to panic about something so minuscule. But at that point in time, my laptop, my data, my presentation, the presentation deadline and the internship suddenly stacked one on top of the other and it became impossible for me to think about anything else, or to think rationally at all.
This incident acted as an epiphany for me. It suddenly felt like I had overcome the worst possible thing that could have happened and I could conquer everything or at least get past most of my icebergs.
And so I did!
PS: To be continued in the following blog posts :D