Mid Semester Musings II

Upon docking, we knew we had to find a local person who looked creepy enough to sell us some pot. It was Jamaica – there was no way we were going to leave without some Marley. The first person beyond the customs check was a coconut seller. We asked and he delivered – it was Jamaica.

Spring break was marvellous. I’m sure describing it would make most envy me. There was a giant cruise ship, Caribbean islands, zip-lines and adulterous offers from excessively hot Russian women. I’d say I did okay for my last spring break. There were downs too – sunburn, miserable failure of basic blackjack strategy and the consequent plea to the mother for more money and the belly that accompanies one too many beers. Very entitledtwentysomething problems.

Now let’s get down to the more real problems – I’m seriously contemplating putting myself in therapy. Why? Combinations of abandonment issues coupled with trust issues along with the added doses of insecurity and the inability to be content. One of my closest friends enrolled himself today and seriously advised me to do the same – it’s easy to recognise a sinking ship from one that’s half way there.

The beginning of this semester was recruitment season, a god awful terrible time for all Juniors. (Yes, I’m a Junior but this was my last spring break cause I’m graduating next semester). I’d hesitantly turned down two decently reputable offers last semester on the claims that I could do better. I doubted it. Of the people I have to thank, I think my closest friend (since I was a child) and my girlfriend are to thank the most – they were the only ones who vehemently believed that I could do far more and shouldn’t settle. My degree at college is a combination of Math, Statistics, Economics and Computer Science – an oddly lethal combination. There are only 7 of us who got into the program in my year – we’re pretty damn tight. We ended up interviewing for most of the same positions – my peers scored Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch jobs. My girlfriend signed with Morgan Stanley. Although I had a potentially nicer offer from DB cause they really wanted me, I chose to sign with Goldman Sachs this summer as a trading intern. Yeah, I nailed that shit. I hate using the word stressful to describe how I feel, but bloody hell this made all our palms sweat on a daily basis. If the tie’s knot was off by an inch, it could potentially piss off the guy who’s having coffee with you and bam – you’re out. 

So I’ve landed the job that everyone wanted. Now what? Time to cut carbs. 

I went pretty hard at the gym this semester and I believe it’s paying off. One of my students (I’m a Teaching Assistant so I teach ~ 30 student classes) actually left a mid semester review saying, ‘You look beautiful in a suit.’ Why, thank you; they ARE custom made with some of the finest threads you could possibly find on earth. Another one said she found me on Tinder and promiscuously walked off. Yes, I’m smart enough not to get myself sued for sexual harassment. 

Now, even if I tell you why the musings in my head are shredding my brains, you’ll probably sneer. My sister had a great explanation for why my musings are perfectly legitimate – yes, there are starving children in africa but it appears that contextualising your problems doesn’t solve them. Rather, it just adds frustration and guilt to the mix. Ergo, without putting these into perspective – I feel like shit today. I feel like I’m constantly carrying around these wretched thoughts and they just don’t want to leave.

My mid semester grades sucked. Not the – Damn I got all B’s – kind of sucked. I got my first ever D. And a couple of B- grades. Throw in an A to ensure my sanity. I was supposed to be smart, right? Eh – wrong. Turns out I’m capable of being smart but this was the first time I realised that this capability is far from absolute. There is a strong probability that I am unable to comprehend certain math and consequently disastrously fail. If I keep going the way I am in the D grade class, forget graduating early, I may take 4.5 years to finish my degree. Which could potentially mean I may not even be eligible for a return offer from Goldman. Well, shit. Therein lies the first bouts of insecurity.

The second bouts come from my current relationship. I’ve somehow not had to work very hard to get women I wanted and been extremely lucky. This one was very different. It took a lot of time and a lot of restructuring my aesthetic appeal to get the yes. I don’t blame her for not saying yes when I was obviously not physical attractive – it’s a superficial world and aesthetics matter. So yes, this one was a catch; she’s pretty damn hot too. Now, with that hotness and the fact that she lives a couple of hours away in NYC, comes the obvious fact that she’s going to hit on. A lot. I’m not the kind to get perturbed by this usually, but the point that our relationship has reached is bringing back some terrible teenage memories. These involve getting cheated on after a 2.5 year relationship once and after a year long relationship the other time. Yeah, couldn’t catch a break. I would love to say I trust her – but I’ve been jaded one too many a time I guess. She’s much simpler than the other women for sure, but I wouldn’t be able to blame her even if she did something. Long distance sucks and human attraction is but obvious. Coupled with the jaded feelings from past relationships, the unfortunate events that plagued my family as a child somehow crept up. Having observed human tendencies to be prone to adultery make me very iffy about trust. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to react when I hear stories about how her friends tried to hook her up with this hot guy, or how the guy that every girl wants kept buying her drinks and dancing with her now with all this in my head. Also, she’s on spring break right now and all I’ve heard is that she’s been extremely drunk every night around (potentially hot south american) guys who’re falling all over her. Earlier, I’d laugh it off. Now that we’ve been dating for a while, and now that I see the potential of this relationship actually being more than just a temporary infatuation (no, not that long either – I’m asking mother dearest to find me a wife when I absolutely must get married back in India), it just hurts my brain a little. This is where the mix of the abandonment and trust issues coupled with the insecurity gets a little nasty.

It’s taken me a little over 20 minutes to write down everything so far – in that 20 minutes I just realised something. I could potentially cure my abandonment and trust issues by adding a commitment issue to the mix. I know I’m not going to be with her for too long – it just can’t work out cause I need to go back and help the father lead his industry – so why fall deep? As long as I let myself be tilted towards being stoic rather than emotional bumblebee – Eureka. Now I just got to go hard on the stochastic calculus and I’ll be solid. And grades and girlfriends aren’t things I should be worried about anyway – I look beautiful in a suit and I’m going to be working at Goldman Sachs. I’m doing alright. 

I read a great line about finding the right woman – “Find a Times New Roman in the streets and a Windings in the sheets. She exists.” The russian on the cruise was wearing a flowing elegant long black dress and looked classy as hell. When she took me to the side, she grabbed onto inappropriate things with some force and asked me if I had a condom. I walked away cause I’m committed (yes, it wasn’t easy), but damn, windings in the sheets for sure.

Mid Semester Musings

I hate waking up more than ever now. Not only do I have to muster up the courage to uncurl from underneath the warmth, I now make it a point to have 1/2 a gallon of water when I wake up. It’s terribly healthy.

Even though I did expect bouts of existential despair by this point in the semester from past experiences, these bouts still leave me clueless. I’m not unhappy by a long shot, a lot has gone well over the past few weeks. But there’s this lingering feeling of being incomplete that I was constantly succumbing to. Then came today’s news.

I know I’ve pointed out before that it’s very easy to smudge out despair in the shadows of extravagance, but I believe it’s worth reiterating. It’s also very easy to forget about how much in despair you are when so many good things are making you happy on the surface.

Only now did I realise how much of an incoherent ramble the first bit of this article is. Time to make this more legible.

My family has been tattered and torn for a while now. The sheer number of people we have lost recently has broken the best of us down. We also knew this wasn’t the end, and that we’d be dealing with these soon wasn’t a pleasant thought. Beyond the deaths, both sides of my family have been going through turmoil, which put an unfair burden on my parents. All this aside, we were still a strong unit till the end of this summer. All of us were in one city, consolidating each one’s brave face to put up an impenetrable front. And then we left, each to our own devices half way across the world from each other. But this was on a good note, right?

My dad put up the bravest face of them all. He’s beyond immaculate; he would never allow weakness to be visible in any sphere. I’ll be honest, we haven’t had the best relationship ever, we’ve had our share our disagreements. But the amount of respect and love I have for him is obviously unparalleled.  I unfortunately don’t get to speak to him too often. He’s busy and we often don’t have a lot to talk about beyond the business and the state of affairs at home. We’re very different people. I got a call from mom yesterday about him being rushed to the hospital. This one we didn’t expect. Yes, he’d had problems. Yes, we’d warned him about the scotch. But this? Nope. 

The results will be coming in over the next few days. I’ve pretty much been unable to leave the house. And the usual party in my head is now a grave. 

I just want to give my dad a hug.

I called mom a while back and got to speak to dad for a bit. He yelled at me for being worried – he would never accept any weakness from me. He defined fortitude and chivalry to me, and taught me how to abide by these at every given instance. His willpower is absolutely ridiculous in the face of adversity, and his perseverance is incredible. His achievements are nonpareil. Such a man’s life deserves to be celebrated even when that life sometimes starts choking with the scotch. But he will be fine. He’s also too adamant to let anything cut short his upcoming ventures, which include giving me a hug 2 months from today when I’m home.

Finally, that brings me to these bouts of existential despair, that actually came before I got this news (with an oddly eerie time coincidence). Going to a competitive school has it’s perks; you interact on a daily basis with minds that will be at the forefront of tomorrow. Also, consequently, your achievements that would’ve otherwise seemed monumental are but a blotch to life here. And even the achievements of note are extremely fleeting, somehow nothing that I’ve managed to do lately has given me a reason to be beyond-transient happy. This constant hammering at your abilities isn’t really my idea of fun. That said, I don’t mean to give up. I’ve got my dad’s gene of fortitude. And we’re both going to be fine.

Water actually fixes these bouts. So do obnoxious pictures of yourself after working out. At least I look better than most of the scrawny kids here. I’ll count that as a win.

Spectrum

The primary quest of so many is to be able to absorb everything life has to offer. In the past month, I feel like I’ve had emotional and physical feelings that transcend the spectrum of all possible human feeling. 

 

First came the sad. A member of my family passed away. She was a beautiful person; there doesn’t exist a person who had met her and hadn’t felt inordinate amounts of love and affection from her instantly. I’d grown up with her as a Godmother, as my mom and her were extremely tight – the kind of friendships that literally last decades regardless of being surrounded by constantly crumbling pillars. May her soul rest in peace, as it deserves to.

 

The sad was followed by the helpless. Sitting around with over a dozen cousins, uncles and aunts constantly, not knowing how to deal with the loss of someone that knit that family together leaves a numbing effect on all present. Some go hysterical, letting out bursts of anger, sorrow and frustration, followed by uncontrollable howling. Others go deafeningly silent. Some are stronger than others, leaning in as the comforting hand. But they too must separate themselves with that blasted cigarette in the balcony to let it out, wiping away any sign of the tears before someone can see them. I could do nothing but sit there.  This was the first time I was one of the bearers at the cremation ground. The ceremonial rights in India are quite elaborate, and under the circumstances, were hard to deal with. 

 

Then came the remorse. The days spent after the rituals were over are always introspective. You sit at home mourning the loss, but concurrently there’s a deep level of questioning that one often does to himself. Why did I not make it a point to spend more time with her? Maybe I should’ve replied quicker to her when she texted me on my birthday? What if the people I love don’t get to hear what I’d want to tell them in time? What the hell am I doing with my life?

 

This was forcefully interrupted by relief and sanity. My mother and I were in Delhi for these days while my father and sister were already in Spain. Mom left a couple of days before me and joined them in Spain as everyone at home was starting to get back into their daily lives. I waited around for a couple of days as I’d just applied for the student visa for summer school in the UK. I was to meet them at some point in Europe. I got a call at 4 pm while I was sitting at home, ran to get my visa, booked a flight that night and left for Salzburg, Austria. The flight seemed to give no respite to the chain of events – I sat next to a large man, who snored onto my shoulder and spilled his wine on me. It wasn’t delightful. I reached Salzburg a few hours before them, walked around until I found a cozy cafe´ that served me delicious sweet waffles with maple syrup, caramelised walnuts, vanilla sorbet and a side of hot chocolate. Now things started looking up. I met my parents, got some of the tightest hugs, and then we just sat and talked. Somehow it all felt okay, and that taking on tomorrow seemed far more doable. 

 

From this point, it was joy.  We were touristy for a bit and saw where Sound of Music was filmed, climbed to the top of the Vatican (which is a 550 step doozy of a climb), and even rode on a gondola. Apart from that, what we primarily did was eat – I gorged on Ham and Mushroom pizza in Italy, had juicy Schnitzel  in Austria, and shamefully contemplated eating a cheeseburger from Five Guys one night. I sucked it up and got Carbonara instead. Noms.

 

Beyond this was the ecstasy – We travelled from the European Union to the United Kingdom, where I’ve spent the past 3 weeks at LSE “studying” Macroeconomics. This adventure calls for a thesis, which I will write once I’ve survived the entirety. These stories include embarrassment, adultery, general-douchebbagery, alcoholism, electric daisy carnivals, stalkers, and a little bit of love and hate. So yes, I do believe I’ve covered the spectrum of emotion. I also heard Zedd play Spectrum live at the Ministry of Sound; it was neat.

 

A fellow entitledtwentysomething lost his iPhone 5 yesterday while Avicii played live 50 feet away, and told me today, ‘Can you imagine how helpless and villager-like I feel right now?’ I laughed/scorned a little in my head.

Spicy Chicken Shawarma

He moved out of the way as soon as I honked, only to go and curl up on the middle of the street again as soon as I passed him. Dogs do strange things in the middle of the night.

I just got back from another 3 A.M. meal. Still can’t believe I’d promised that I’d have early dinners with minimal carbs. Driving around in the middle of the night, scavenging for food is far more satisfactory back home in India than it is in college. This isn’t just because I go to school in Pittsburgh, which is a city meant for no one under the age of 40, but rather because of the ridiculously greasy and inexplicably delicious food you get at Dhaba’s around the country. God bless chicken shawarmas.

This is how I’ve spent a majority of my days at home – gorging down on every tender piece of meat I can lay my hands on (other than the elusive Cheeseburger; we worship them here), spending time with my fellow entitledtwentysomething’s and keeping the meat off me at the country club. And Fifa. Nothing is ever complete without Fifa. However, every week, there’s been at least a couple of instances where debauchery and alcoholism have fuelled very entertaining nights.

If you’ve read the earlier post, you’ve probably guessed that this is the pretty glass which I’m about to shatter momentarily. Before that, just take a second to thank EA for Fifa.

Multiple members of my family are in critical shape right now, battling with whatever they have left to stay alive. Sometimes I’m not even sure why. When I look at my aunt, stricken with severe Parkinson’s and Schizophrenia, all I see is pain. Through her eyes, you still see that sweet old lady who’d remember to get her nephew a chocolate bar after school every day, but physically all that’s visible is a shaky existence. She forgot who I was a couple of days back, and that hurt. While this has been going on for a while, my mom’s sister-in-law on the other hand, just recently fell severely ill. She had a four hour surgery yesterday, which involved removing major chunks of both the smaller and larger intestines and is now on life-support and isn’t taking to that very well. Everyone at home is baffled at the sheer intensity with which every other member of my family is also being affected, either through the depressive family gene acting up or the terrible health records catching up. I spoke to my closest friends about this, including my mother and my sister, and no one has a definitive answer as to how one is supposed to deal with the knowledge of inevitable loss.

These make me ask myself whether emotional attachment is a good thing, let alone be a healthy part of human life. I know I’m young and probably don’t have the maturity to claim to know anything about being ripped out of love, but it sure as hell feels like I am. When my girlfriend at the time and I broke up after dating throughout high school, it made me realize that excessive attachment is very dangerous, and should be tread upon carefully. There are very few relationships which can be unconditional. Love, sadly, is not one of them. Family, however, is. So whether it be a good thing or a disastrous route to self destruction, I love that our family is so tightly knit, that it brings tears to a score of people every time a cough is excessively loud. While I encourage you to pray with the rest of my family, if you’d rather join agnostic me in reading through some medical journals regarding Parkinson’s, you’re more than welcome to do so.

Shattered glass or not, there’s always enough glue if you look hard enough.

The chicken shawarma isn’t sitting too pretty right now. It was probably the “Make it extra spicy please” which screwed me over. Brotip : No matter how much of a badass you think you are, go easy on the spices in India.

I leave home tomorrow, en route to a marriage in Spain, followed by vagabonding around Europe before heading to study some Macroeconomic theory at LSE for the summer. It should be an interesting few weeks, hopefully filled with the occasional instances of debauchery and alcoholism to drive up the entertainment quotient. Maybe throw in some adultery.

Next time a dog chases your car (they do that in India frequently), as suggested by my friend in Delhi, stop the car immediately and watch them get epicly befuddled. Guaranteed amusement.

Impenetrable Fort.

Bengal is a lazy place. It’s Sunday afternoon and everyone’s napping from an overdose of rice. Quite blissful indeed.

I’ve been home for more than a week now, and this is probably the first time when I’ve been left alone to my thoughts. Not because I had any work whatsoever, but because I’ve been indulging myself in all the comforts that home has to offer. I’ve run out of movies to watch at the theatres and I’m contemplating re-runs of the classics now. I’m trying to keep myself away from TV series because they tend to get too addictive, leading to multiple hours of slothing around finishing season after season.

It’s been oddly wonderful week. I’ve recently found the need to change my look, that is, I needed a new wardrobe. A major portion of this week was devoted to prepping myself with some new chinos and polos. And a skinny belt. Yes, I bought a skinny belt. Also, I got a light pink t-shirt. Summer, I guess?

I’ve had many different cuisines around the world, not as many as I’d want to though, but the food at home is somehow always the best. I’ve been stuffing myself with everything within a 5 mile radius and been driving around town doing this. On repeat. Everyday.Again and again.

Home just isn’t complete without Tolly – a country club where I’ve spent a majority of my life. The indoor and outdoor swimming pools are where I’ve repaired my knee with long swims which I destroyed on the tennis courts that are right next to the pool, which in turn is around the corner from the shamiana that’s responsible for every pound of pointless flab on me. My first kiss was in the dark alley behind the green of the 8th hole, and the first time I regretably popped my collar was in the snooker room, and the last time I regretably tried to chest bump someone mid air was on the diving platform of the indoor pool. It’s a magical place, just minutes away from home, where I go to shelter myself from everything horrid.

Everything horrid, you ask? Wealth tends to create an impression of an impenetrable fort where sorrow is evaded, or at least unconquerable fortitude agaisnt adversity that never shows up. However, it actually just acts as a light veil. All you need to go is nudge a little for the demons to come out and play. My home is quite broken. Like I’ve said before, I’ve lost so many in the past year, and coming home is a vivid reminder of that. Having lived in a large family as a child, including my grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins under two adjacent roofs, I’m used to plently of chaos at home. It’s now quiet. My dogs barks are unheard, my grandfather’s yelling has been silenced, my aunt’s constant sobbing and my other aunt’s constant laughter have been tuned down. The house is large and empty. I walked into the empty rooms downstairs, but the silence was shattering. I can’t believe I wasn’t covered in drool when I walked in, or that I don’t have a wagging tail forcing me to throw him a part of my lunch. But, home is still home – my aunt has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and Parkinson’s, but her hug when she saw me walk in was as warm as ever. She still gave me her blessings when I touched her feet. My house is now weaker, but the bonds aren’t even close to vulnerable. Sunday lunch used to be a crazy affair with a dozen people crying, yelling and laughing simultaneously. Today was a quite meal with a handful of us at the table. I guess it was the silence at that table that made me want to write right now.

Phew. It’s been a week at home. I’ve been thoroughly stuffed with food and been spoilt by mother’s willingness to buy me every pair of overpriced pants I’ve tried on. I needed this Sunday as a rest day from going to the mall and watching yet another movie, followed by panting from overeating. I think it’s time to hit the club.

Company’s okay, solitude is bliss?

Sophomore year was rough.

I’m finally back home, halfway around the world from where I’m attempting to get an epicly overpriced education. If nothing else, this year taught me how to deal with things far beyond first world problems. I’ve lost many who will be the most loved in my heart forever. I’ve been taught that I’m not the kid that can get away with minimal work and succeed as I did in high school. Sadly enough, I’ve also had to come to the realization that I’m probably not nearly as complete as I’d thought I was.

Yet, there are some obvious perks of being an Entitled Twenty-Something. Having said no to wonderful internship offer, I now have three summer months to travel and leave all my woes at Four Seasons around the world. For the next few weeks, I do not have to write a single line of code that may or may not cause undecipherable errors or solve even a simple math equation.

I can, at least for the summer, go back to experiencing life. Every summer since the beginning of high school, my closest friends know that I abscond. I have spent a majority of these periods of hiatus musing over the most inconceivably random things, most of which stems from observing people live life (I guess this is consequent of my parent’s love for social anthropology). The only thing I plan on doing differently is to discard a philosophy I adopted from Tame Impala’s “Solitude is Bliss”. This time, everyone is invited to the party in my head.

Plus, summer means family time and absolutely ridiculous amounts of food. I woke up at 4 in the morning, still slightly jet lagged, and ate last night’s chicken Kathi rolls. Exponential happiness.