An Ode to Rewatching Movies

A still from Wake Up Sid

It was an irregular day in my life. I had not watched any new movies or tv series in the last 4-5 days on any of the OTT platforms I had religiously subscribed to. This is huge, considering I never went a day without new content.

I realized the moment you subscribe to something, your mentality shifts in that direction of wanting to make the most out of it. You want to get your money’s worth. And once things turn into a habit, there’s no looking back. OTT platforms had become a habit. Not watching new movies or series in the last few days didn’t stop me from zealously adding new items to my watchlist, but I wasn’t tempted to start any. Was it saturation? Was I tired of the new?

Out of the blue last night, I felt like rewatching a 2009 Hindi movie – Wake Up Sid. I remember loving it the first time I watched it. I did not remember any of the dialogues. I only vaguely remembered the feeling it gave me back then – the mushy, soft, warm kind. I was curious whether I would feel the same way again. So rewatch the movie, I did.

It’s a rarity nowadays to watch a movie twice, mainly because you are subjected to many choices. Why go for the old when you can make way for the new? With the rise of OTT platforms, we have more on our platter. We add items to our watchlist, just like a shopping cart. We start multiple movies or tv shows and taste a bit of each, just like a buffet. Movie watching is no longer an immersive experience. It feels like a chore we need to finish quickly because we are already eyeing another.

There was a time when we used to watch and rewatch our favorite stories. By the time we were done, we were able to crack dialogues in the movie as effortlessly as the actors themselves. I do not remember lyrics or movie dialogues nowadays, but that’s understandable. Things stick only when there’s repetition.

I feel when we have more choices, we tend to become confused. Human nature is such that we are tempted to try everything readily available. Nowadays, surrendering yourself to one experience has become rare. There’s a mishmash of multiple experiences that you are driven to partake in simultaneously.

I couldn’t stop smiling while watching Wake Up Sid. The emotions are all contemporary, very now. It has aged like fine wine. Everything in the movie from 13 years back is still relevant today – the angst of a man who’s disinterested in regular office work, his journey to understand himself and his goals, and gradually falling in love with a passionate, ambitious woman. A woman who says with conviction that she’s not interested in him but her actions and expressions prove otherwise. Sid is very relatable, and so is Aisha. When the characters fall in love, you end up falling for them too. Their charm is such. The magic of good storytelling is such.

We don’t make such movies anymore. Is it because love stories are nowadays made with the male gaze in mind, or is the female gaze less fashionable? I doubt it’s the latter.

Would I get back to any of the movies released nowadays ten years or maybe twenty years from now? Would I sit and rewatch with a smile or cringe at the corniness of it all? Only time can tell. I think it’s about time our Hindi filmmakers resumed making feel-good movies again — so that the romantics, like me, have a decent movie to cuddle up to on a dreary, overworked weekday night.

Being a Loner in an Extroverted World

Photo by RF._.studio

I have always been a private person, much to the chagrin of my friends.

In distress, as far as possible, I prefer to process my situation without involving a second person. Venting and ranting bring relief to many, but I regain my composure by pondering over my issues – the ifs, buts, and whys. Of course, this is not always healthy because I end up bottling my emotions and eventually bursting like a volcano.

I have lost friends or faced misunderstandings because people could not understand my introversion. I was never rude to anyone, but I simply could not find the energy to pick up the phone and keep in touch. This would upset those who expected more from me and wished to be in sync with my private life. Being a single woman, everyone is curious to know whom I’m dating, why I’m dating him, and what my future plans are with him. I find this intrusive, even if well-intentioned. Maybe I have no future plans with him, but would they understand that? Mostly no. To add to that, I never found the need to discuss my life events, scrutinize them, or share every little info with friends. I find the process exhausting and find it difficult to manage many friends as I get older. I am good as long as I have one listening, non-judging ear. Yes, even we loners wish to be heard sometimes.

In friendship, I realize that communicating regularly helps build a deep connection. This is why extroverts have many close friends. Keeping in touch comes naturally to them. The more friends they have and the more socializing they do, the more fulfilled they feel. Loners, like me, prefer to have that one good friend, with whom we can talk without restraint. We want to invest our energy wisely without draining out. This may give us an impression of aloofness as we are not actively seeking new friends.

What I find uncomfortable about discussing my life is that most would expect a follow-up story. If timely updates are not shared, questions arise. It is why numerous anonymous posts asking for advice are seen on Reddit. There are issues you are wary of telling your friends and family, no matter how close you are to them. You want to talk about them, but without the responsibility of being answerable to anyone in the future. I don’t have a problem sharing my life events, but it’s the questions thereafter I have an issue with – because you never know when they will stop.

My hesitation is not entirely inherent. I cannot put the whole blame on nature. It is part contrived as well. Experience has taught me that some things are better left unspoken. Recently, I let go of my inhibitions and, in a state of vulnerability, told a few friends at a party about my brother-in-law’s infidelity. I was feeling disoriented and needed someone to confide in desperately. I regret it now because what I did in the process of revealing something private was enable my friends to openly judge my sibling’s life, probably till the end of time. My brother-in-law and sister sorted out their problems, but the judgments did not stop. It is difficult to forgive and forget a terrible event in your life when there’s someone constantly reminding you about it. “My brother-in-law took my sister out for dinner.” “Oh, is it? (smirks and eye-rolling ensue)“. After facing the judgments, you hesitate to share your issues if you know there’s a remote chance that the situation might improve later. And what happens when you stop talking about such intimate parts of your life? Friendships become stale.

Self-reliance can be a boon as it teaches you to be independent, but it’s a bane if you wish to establish a solid network. I love to keep to myself most of the time but also love sharing ideas. These conflicting interests can prove overwhelming at times.

I sometimes envy extroverts. They come fully equipped into a world exclusively built for them. While they start life from ground zero, introverts have to start from minus 10. Introverts reach ground zero sometime later in life when they begin to understand the art of faking extroversion. Being an introvert, socializing never came easy. I have now learned to put up a façade of extroversion to please the people I love and work with, but I end up exhausted by the end of the day. I would wait to get back home and be myself. Finding a partner, who gets my true self, is difficult. They usually fall for the extroverted side I reserve for the world and back off as soon as they learn I am not all that. I have been called “weird” for not liking parties and being quiet. But now I am in a space where I get the solitude I need and a partner who is comfortable with my solitude.

According to Susan Cain’s Quiet, most introverts develop this dual personality to keep up with the extroverted world around them. Society expects them to be outgoing, jovial, and giving – such energy consumers for the quiet. It might be impossible for an extrovert to understand how much energy goes into socializing because mingling comes naturally to them. When the whole world is geared towards extroversion in all forms of life, an introvert has no choice but to conform and act as if they fit right in.

Dealing with Annoying Questions When You’re Single

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

It’s not easy being a single woman in India.

Everyone is out to advise you on how you should live your life. One hot topic is marriage. The marriage “advisors” (could range from your parents to your friendly neighborhood milk delivery guy) might fight every day with their partners but will not skip a beat to lecture the singles about the benefits of holy matrimony and how much happiness it brings. Outside of their public rants and frustrations involving their better half, there might be a peaceful paradise that they guard secretly, so I would give them the benefit of the doubt and take their word for it. But marriage is not for everyone. I had to get in one to realize it was not for me.

Many in India succumb to arranged marriages because of pressure from family, friends, neighbors, colleagues – almost everyone. I had once faced it. I couldn’t take the pressure and ended up getting married. The relationship suffered from incompatibility issues, and divorce was the best option.

It is a hopeless place – being the epicenter of parental pressure. It can break even those with nerves of steel. It’s not wrong to say that not every Indian gets the chance to experience intimate love because they are forced into marriage before they are ready. It becomes a compromise of sorts where each partner partakes in responsibilities and demands that society expects them to fulfill in the name of love. In between all the cacophony of the daily routine, intimacy loses its way. Life in itself becomes time-tabled because you have things to do and mouths to feed. Where is the time for love in an Indian household?

So how can someone get past this pressure and live peacefully in India as a single person? How to say no to marriage?

Here are some ways you can deal with insufferable questions:

  1. Whenever someone starts with their unsolicited advice, don’t take it with a smile. It is imperative to make your point clear – that you are not looking for unwanted advice.
  2. If no one understands you, move out and reduce contact. This is a harsh step, but if your freedom is important to you, unfortunately, it is the only way. Not everyone can step away as it requires some emotional and financial stability.
  3. Make peace with the idea that you will be emotionally blackmailed by everyone around you. It will never stop, even if you relocate because you can still be contacted via phone calls or WhatsApp. You can only hope they will get used to your way of life one day. In my case, people got fed up with talking to me about topics I am not interested in – like marriage. No one irritates me anymore with the “when are you getting married?” questions. However, it took a divorce for people to leave me alone.

In India, regrettably, most people give in to pressure. They do not wish to offend or disappoint their loved ones. This is understandable, but it also means giving away your freedom of choice to someone. You cannot have it all in India. You’ll have to choose one – your freedom or keeping your loved ones happy.

As a single woman, it was not easy to reach the “other side.” It was like a bumpy adventure with its own blocks and complications. It takes mental strength to go against the norm and stick with it. It is not easy but definitely not impossible.

An Ode to Being Unmarried and Childless

Yellow flower
Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n

I am in my late 30s, unmarried, and might never have a child.

My biological clock is past its prime, which means that if I ever get married, it might be too late to conceive naturally. Right now, I am in a complicated relationship that I am okay with since my ultimate goal is, anyway, not marriage. I had been tempted a few times to get married to partners in the past, but it never materialized. In a way, I am thankful that the mother universe did not grant me those wishes. If she did, I would have landed in some serious trouble. I wasn’t right for them, and they weren’t for me either. It was a two-way street of disappointment and incompatibility that new love often tends to cover up and sideline.

When love is new and all-things-dreamy, it overrides potential issues. Everything seems solvable, including toxicity. Over time, when you are “used” to this feeling of love, you start paying attention to the issues you had conveniently ignored the first time around. This is where the real test begins – when the honeymoon phase ends. For some, the dreaminess and butterflies linger on for life. For others, the relationship becomes a compromise. Some others, like myself, realize it is best to move on. I often wonder what my life would have been if I had succumbed to marriage in my honeymoon phase, only to realize later that we are incompatible. So, yes, I am thankful things did not work out the way I desperately wanted at that point in time.

Talking about universal manifestations reminds me of this profound poetry from Blythe Baird’s If My Body Could Speak. I found it very relatable.

Poem on theories of the universe by Blythe Baird
Theories About The Universe – Blythe Baird

So here I am in a world that is the polar opposite of my peers, taking it one day at a time, living on my own terms, dealing with my own demons, and at peace with my courteous angels. Frankly, you tend to become less flexible and stuck to your patterns at this age. Probably, this is why they tell you to marry early – so you can adjust to differences better.

Presently, I find it unbearable to let go of this freedom of choice and, mainly, the freedom from compromises of any kind. I don’t have to entertain people I don’t like just because they are my partner’s family. I don’t have to sweet-talk anyone because they are my child’s BFF’s parents. It’s the kind of freedom I have become attached to. It is, without a doubt, I am where I am for purely selfish (or self-love; there are many ways of looking at this) reasons and not for the “world” and “climate control” as is the norm nowadays. I believe you should only have children because you want to experience what it is like to raise a child. Not because you think you might end up lonely and definitely not because it’s what society demands.

When someone tells me I should get married and have children, I ask them why. Most often, the answer would be immediate, “So you don’t end up alone when you are old.” This answer is quite tricky. All around, I see partners who are “not there” entirely, caught up in their own busy worlds. I see senior citizens living alone, their children comfortably settled abroad or outside their native place. Marriage becomes a gamble when you get into it expecting “help.” You may or may not receive what you seek. The help we get from our children might mostly be financial. Then again, the senior citizens I see are well-off and are not entirely dependent on their children. I often wonder why we have to burden our kids with our expectations. Is that why we give birth to new beings – so that they can fulfill our demands? I consider myself selfish for not wanting to give up my freedom. But isn’t it equally selfish to burden someone with our expectations?

Returning to the question of “Who will take care of you?” It is a concern, yes. But what is the guarantee that a partner or child will provide us with the best care?

As a single woman who would probably prefer to be single all her life, I can’t help think about my future time-to-time. What would I do when I turn old? Right now, my mind is leaning towards a high-quality assisted living facility. This information is not to evoke pity or compassion but to keep an open mind about the practicality of it all. Such high-end centers are extremely senior-citizen-friendly – they have a doctor-on-call, in-house chefs that cater to your dietary restrictions, people who help you with grocery and chores, wheelchair-friendly living quarters, and much more. The paid caregivers would be more interested in helping you than anyone near you. In an assisted living environment, people are trained to deal with elderly issues. Since it’s a job, they will try to give it their best. Moreover, you are surrounded by people your age, and they would be more interested in talking to you than someone younger.

Of course, you need to forego some luxuries in real-time to afford this. I am in half a mind to buy a new property (to show everyone I can). But the sensible half wants to hold that thought so I could pool the money into my “assisted living fund.”

Why can’t I stay with my family, you ask? Though our loved ones adore us, no one can be at our beck and call 24×7 without losing their sanity. Over time, my family might understandably grow bitter (even if they love me) due to exhaustion, frustration, and lack of freedom that comes with taking care of my needs, which could be both mental and physical. Such pressure can ultimately ruin a perfectly healthy relationship.

That’s how I look at it – I rather someone take care of me mindfully than grudgingly out of a false sense of obligation.