Diaries Magazine

Of Bir, and Being, and Being Too Good for Your Own Good

Posted on the 06 May 2022 by Sani09 @sani09

Diary Entry : 21st April 2022

I had a feeling I wanted to go check out Deer Park Institute in Bir, Himachal Pradesh. I booked the hostel closest to it. I ended up extending my stay for one day and then for another and so on for a week.

I am lucky to find a good dorm-mate here. She is 24 years old and a fellow traveler with a backpack. No, we are not tourists devouring each and every place we have to see. We are doing what we are supposed to be doing and that's "be"-ing - simply being. "Il bel far niente" - Italian for the beauty of doing nothing, also called "dolce bel far niente" - the sweet beauty of doing nothing.

We are never not doing anything though. We are visiting cafes, working, writing, meditating, talking, joking, teaching and learning.

A new discussion arose yesterday and it's a personal favorite enough for me to talk about.

In a nutshell: "We want everything that the rich people have but our roots and surroundings are middle-class."


Blog: 5th May 2022

I wish I remembered more of our conversations but I don't. If only I could have recorded them. But the gist of everything remains the same.

I entered the hostel dormitory with my huge bagpack and chose the bed I felt was the best in the room - upper bunk, window on the side with the view of the hills and a probable morning sunrise.

There was only one more person at that time in the dorm built for six. We introduced ourselves. Z is a content writer for Ayurveda and a Spanish teacher for American clients. We talk of writing and our objectives from the place that seemed similar at the moment - solo traveling, self-reflection, time for writing, wanderlust over tourism. We decided to freshen up and grab some breakfast. She had just woken up and I had just arrived.

"I forgot to ask, what are your pronouns?" She asked me non-chalantly.

The world had changed so much in the past two years, I thought to myself. "She/her." I answered, and hesitated to ask hers. "I am going to assume yours is the same."


The best thing about having her around was that we both shared our stories of wacky adventures of solo traveling abroad, and none of us had to feel bad about it because both of us had amazing experiences. Hers were in Latin America and mine across Europe. Often with my college friends I would feel like an outsider when I would want to share the amazing travel stories I have. Some people wouldn't relate or would feel inferior enough to call me a "show-off" and I would have to finally shut up wondering if I was one. These are fun adventures that fill my life with happiness.

Z talks of her achievements and work in the Spanish Embassy representing India. I feel nothing but impressed. With every experience of hers I could find a similar anecdote in mine. I would share that, we would laugh. I was telling her of my experience of tutoring kids of class 9 and 10 when I was in college to which she reacts,

"I am sorry can I ask what age you are?"

"Umm... take a guess."


"Haha! I am 30."

"Oh, thank God! Because I was wondering how did you do so many things in so little time."

Ouch! I often forget I am no girl in her 20s anymore. I have lived long and by the time she reaches my age, she would have achieved much more than what I have. I immediately develop an elder sisterly feeling towards her. I become protective of her, tell her some do's and don'ts of life.

We talk of therapy and therapists. She shares her on-going experience and therapy goals. I nod. Been there, done that!

Neither of us needed therapy. Yet she goes to a counselor and I went to one on need basis. We talk to our therapists like equals, like friends, in the sense we give them validation or crack jokes on them too.

We both agreed on two things:

1. We are just paying people to listen to us go on and on.

2. We have to go seek therapy because those around us who really need it, don't.


The next time we go out to a cafe, we talk of sexuality and relationships.

Z has never been in a serious relationship and is worried how she'd be perceived because of it. Classic Phoebe from the sitcom Friends!

She is bi-sexual, and wants to declare herself pan-sexual to be accepting of all genders.

"Then why did you not hit on me?" I asked, almost feeling like I was betrayed. I don't know how I felt so entitled to ask her that and put her in a spot like that. "What's wrong with me?"

"No, nothing's wrong with you." (Of course, she was going to reassure me later in the day that I was cute and all.)

"I think life would be so easy if I were a lesbian. You get more emotional support from women than men can ever give. If you get the option, marry a girl instead of a guy, please!" I instruct her.

We pause and take sips from our respective cups of coffee. I go back to my book. She looks outside at the flowers of the nearest tree. 

"Do you ever get the feeling that if you really gel well with someone you can never date them?" I look up from my book and ask her.

"Yes. Because if you date them, when you break up with them, you lose them." She answers.

"Some of my closest friends are guys. They are single, will be loyal, working well, and compatible with me. But I can't even think of dating them. Logically, it makes sense to marry them. All my female friends would nudge me to. But I can't. So, I understand that you didn't hit on me. Just saying."

"But it's also toxic, na?"

"I know."

"Not dating the one with whom everything is easy and the discussions happen well. But dating someone who isn't that great instead and eventually break up because the wavelengths don't match. Sigh."

"What's also toxic is you believing that anyone you date is eventually going to break up with you." I reminded her like the good counselor I was, guessing already what she would eventually confess to.

"Yes, I need to get out of that mindset. This is why I never had any serious relationship in the first place."


The day after that we go to the Nyingma café to try some local delicacies (Tingmo and Datsi) and work. Instead of working, we talk. This time we talk of marriage and kids.

"There is no need for me to get married. I don't have to get married. So, I'll marry only if I want to." I explain things well. I have explained this to so many people by now.

"Same. I will marry only if I want to. But I so badly want to be a mother. I will adopt a kid for sure. I will be a single mother."

I tell her about this amazing woman I know, divorced, 42, who adopts a little baby girl who has my heart.

"Most times, I feel I don't want to marry because I don't want to be the mother of two kids. So, why should I adopt a husband too? I can't handle two kids." She adds.

"This is one reason why I broke up with my ex. He was living with his friends as bachelors, partying almost every other day. He would just move from that house to another with his wife where the wife is expected to reduce his drinking, smoking and smoking up. Why would I? And how would I? How am I expected to change myself and him after marriage? What magic does just a ceremony bring in this way? These are just self-created pressures. The sad part is he never understood exactly why would I break up with him when he never cheated on me. But cheating can't be the only thing that breaks a relationship. I could never explain to him all these small things that add up. I tried a lot."

"They won't understand. Those who don't get what it will never get it." We both sigh as she says this.

"But I am grown up enough now to know that not every guy is like that. My filter, thus, becomes to not ever date a guy who lives with his parents or other friends. They are mostly going to turn out to be very dependent on the girl to magically take care of them."

"Hmn,, I am still not there." She admits.

"You will be." I say and smile. The wiser version of me keeps popping up in all my conversations these days.


The evening before I was about to leave, Z, A and I had a little party. A is 28 who has done his MBA, is now in IT Pre-Sales, is head over heels for me, God knows why, to the point even Z noticed. (I assumed he needed a job referral from me because I was ex-Coke.)

A talks of songs and other people in the hostel. Other people who were younger and not as cool as he and Z were. We had a good laugh. When the time came to "cook" and both Z and A failed miserably to firmly use the "chopped vegetables", turns out it was I who made the sleekest finest classiest "sandwich" (in HIMYM lingo). I didn't realize how much more older and experienced I was until that moment.

The next morning, we are at June 16 café. Z and I talk of the CAA NRC protest passionately, and A decides it's time for him to go out for a bike ride. A and I have a bus for Delhi to catch in the evening. 

After A leaves for his bike ride, we roll our eyes at his ignorance on the nation's political updates and order more coffee.

We talk of rape, sexual abuse, child abuse. She gives a hint of her past and starts crying. I understand. I too had my past to tell but I avoided sharing. Every woman has that one incident or more. Every woman's privacy has been violated as a child, just in varying degrees. No wonder only women can give the emotional support women need.

"Someday you will be able to talk of all this without crying," I reassure her.

"How will I ever have a relationship?" She asks me with tears in her eyes. "How will I find someone and tell him everything I have been through? Will he understand my traumas and know how I should be treated?" 

If it were any other year before 2020 I would have cried for hours with her. I always cry when someone in front of me cries. But I am different now. (Or in Rabia's words, December 2021, I am no longer a spiritual hippie but an Access Woman).

"You don't need to tell him your traumas," I respond to Z. "Imagine how many people you are going to meet in your life. You can't keep downloading your traumas to everyone you meet and have a relationship with. You have your therapist for that. When you meet people you will meet them for who you are, and who you are in that moment alone. Your past will not matter. Every morning I wake up as a new person and I forget every grudge of yesterday. I allow myself to change every day. Because think of it this way, there will come more moments in life which will be difficult. And to face them, you will need to keep yourself together."

She wipes her tears with this. But I felt I was asking her to be toxic positive so I explained further, even though I had no choice because I was leaving that evening and when A would be back we wouldn't be able to talk of all this.

"You see you are hanging out with me from 7 days now, and even you don't know anything more about me or my past or even my family. Not only because I don't share it but because I don't associate myself with my past anymore. I have changed. And I am going to let myself."

This time she smiled.


We move on to another café for lunch, passing a monastery on the way.

Z's mom calls and she spends almost an hour discussing how her cousin has gone rogue. She lives in a joint family setting, in a town just in the outskirts of Lucknow.

My mom calls me. We have a short call and I confess that I don't feel like leaving this "teerth yatra" I was doing.

"I am afraid if I come home I will just feel angry and upset and helpless. I am happy here, and wiser too. I don't wanna be anywhere else," I say. 

"If you wanna stay there longer. Just stay there. If you wanna go back to Bangalore, just go there. Everything's fine here." She reassures me with her hyper independence.

"I will come. I am just afraid I will be angry and that I won't be of any help." I added.

"I will tell you if any help is required. Don't worry," Mom says.

Z and I get back to talking to each other again. She tells me how difficult it is to live with some of her family members, how she doesn't want to go back, but she needs to go back. 

I again being the wiser self tell her what I learned about treating everyone in your family as an individual beyond the role they play. There was once a time I couldn't stay at home beyond a week. One week was the sweet time where I could stay and then leave to my respective college/rented place. Two weeks is where the knot breaks and then I have to leave for my respective place anyhow.

It was only after the pandemic and my energy work/Access, that I could stay comfortably for months without having any fights that would break my hearts and bring me into tears. I don't cry much these days anyway.

And that's because no matter how much we want to change the toxic parts of our family members, we can't. It's easy to teach a child. How do you teach an adult? The easier and healthier solution becomes to accept them for who they are, respect them for their choices no matter what they are, observe their patterns, understand what their reasons, and trust that they won't change their ways now if they haven't in 50 years. Or at least not because you fought with them or you said so.

"I have tried so many times in so many ways. Now I just protect my peace. I can stay at home longer. Nothing they say affects me. I seldom feel hurt by anything." I concluded.

With some thought, I added, "And I am so happy that I received the support from everyone that I needed when I said I would leave my job. That's only because I was at home and they could see my crazy work hours."

"Wow! I wish I could be this way. I am not. Maybe I will be after my therapy gets over." She acclaims.

I suddenly a feel a rush of guilt. What was so great about it? I could do anything to be the one in her place crying about my sorrow and being consoled by an older one instead. But like they say, I was the adult in this situation.

"I wouldn't wish this to anyone. It's great for me and it works for me. But I miss everything. I miss crying, fighting, yelling, being angry, trying hard, pitying myself, sticking to my sad past. I miss the human drama. I look at others feeling sad about something trivial and I feel I wish I could be that. But I am not. And I like the path I chose. But I don't know if I would ask others to be like me."

We both sigh in silence for a while.

"You know, my marriage, if I have to marry someone, it would be good. Flawless. Out of pure love. I have seen people get find love at the age of 60. I can wait till I am 60. But I will have a good family and a nice child." Z tells me with child-like enthusiasm.

At this moment, I have a couple of tears in my eyes. Here's a girl exactly the way I was when I was 24, and I want to protect her at any cost, make her live a normal happy life instead of attracting all the unnecessary struggles of being an outlier that doesn't lead to anything.

"We are too middle class, Z. No matter how intelligent discussions we have here, we have to deal with middle-class boys partying and laughing at butt jokes, who don't get a thing we are talking about. They didn't grow up with the gender-based challenges we did. They didn't study a thing beyond what was required to score. They just want to go to a job and get married with someone. And we are too far away from the rich ones, who would be privileged enough to be liberal or open-minded or learned as we are, to date any of them. And we wouldn't date the poor guys from very poor families. Trust me, I have met them in life.

So, if we are the crème of the class, and our inherent patriarchal nature wouldn't let us date someone not as good enough or rich enough as us, imagine how small the pool of dating becomes for us. And the ones who remain in the small pools would be exactly like us. So they would demand the best for themselves which is convenience- someone who cooks for them, looks after their family. And you know, we are so not convenient!" I make this highly logical joke and she laughs.

"Maybe I will marry a girl instead of a boy." Z says and I back her.

"Yeah, that's better." I take a pause and start wondering again, "Oh wait, but some girls are bitches too. Many single and career-oriented girls are too." I didn't know what happened to me to be so negative but I just felt like protecting her from the ruthless world of modern dating.

I always thought I would declare myself an asexual or a lesbian if people keep asking me why I was single at thirty. And here she was, a pansexual, believing that things will look up as she grows older.

"Here's the thing, Z. We are too wise and aware for our own good. I think it would be fun to be normal, like everyone else, blend in the crowd, do a simple job, get married, have kids, live the way the society wants us too, never look for anything bigger, anything greater...

But we turned out to be idealistic rebels. We studied too much. We read too many books. We firmed our moral values. We consumed Harry Potter and Agatha Christie. We grew up watching Friends of NY. But we have to go back to living the same life of being in an average Indian society that doesn't accept us with open arms. We are rare. We are talking of therapy in a world that doesn't know mental health. People tell me toxic relationships are normal. They argue with me on this instead...

You will always have people questioning you why you live the way you live. When you are 30, no matter how many guys you rejected in college, people will feel you are single because something is wrong with you. It's not an easy life. I wish I was more adjusting, dumb, stupid, average, normal."

"But I don't mind it, Sanhita. I either want good love or nothing at all. Even if that means I turn 60." She knocked her fist on the table.

I couldn't help but smile. She was exactly like I was.

"I too love myself and my life the way it is. I wouldn't have it any other way either."

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