“New Girl in the City” (sort of)

After a semester and a quarter spent groaning and carping away in Mumbai (with a few notable existential meltdowns along the way), I only just realized that I never got around to writing the generic ‘new girl in the city’ post. As it happens, this is the oldest, most sacred tradition of the “Indian girl” blog genre and is thus my one true obligation as an almost 19-year-old human of the internet, who just moved colleges and cities on a very confusing impulse. I can’t believe I have neglected to do my bit, I am ashamed of myself and my lazy online existence.

But hey better late than never. At least I remembered.

What will follow is an elaborate breakdown of Rajsi 2.0 with all the tweaks and updates discussed in fair detail.

Right of the bat, I want to confirm the stereotype- this city is ridiculously fast-paced. To demonstrate via metaphor, if Ahmedabad was a happy little puppy frolicking in landscaped backyards owned by the nouveau riche, Mumbai is a ravenous Cheetah on rollerblades tearing through the grasses of wild Savannas. And can vouch for my acute lack of stamina after a number of breathy walks on littered sidewalks and across jampacked roads. So intense is the speed of this bizarre metropolitan planet that I have to literally catch my breath every time I dare leave my apartment (not that I have bothered to change myself to match it any better- the burden of this particular problem lies easily on my shrug-prone, lazy-boned shoulders.)

Now, I must confess of my secret exhaustion. I admit that it becomes increasingly unsettling when I stay out too long in the company of flighty, fun-loving friends who don’t need to charge their introvert batteries as desperately as I need to. In fact, the facial muscles of professional extroverts constantly befuddle me when I see this species effortlessly charm entire nights away at the meagre cost of a little, smudged mascara and mild, breathy tiredness. The lifestyle of the cheery continues to remain a puzzling enigma. (I do not mean to polarise, but I genuinely don’t understand- how do you people do it? I admire even as I whine). The judgemental, slacker lifestyle that I have always shamelessly lived appears to be approximately the same, but I cannot deny that there has been a perceptible change in how I move through the motions of an ordinary day now.

Firstly, I have unintentionally begun to walk fast and developed the sort of urban impatience that honking taxi drivers in the spirit of traffic perfectly represent. I still tend to wander and get lost, of course, but well I do it a lot faster now. Additionally, my ability to avoid all undesired eye contact has almost been perfected and my 180-degree peripheral vision to stare at vague, scandalous college mates could probably shame amateur spy recruits. There is also much to be said about my new, unexpected elitism- I have recently graduated to a whole new level of social escapism and snobbery. Somehow, my approach to companionable acquaintanceship has become darkly egocentric- I use people with brains to clear my own head. I ignore the uninteresting. I vent out my thoughts for personal articulation, and then I leave behind baffled, stressed-out folk as debris. I selfishly navigate through the electric ocean of adolescent group dynamics like an indifferent, hipster jellyfish, with solid defensive detachment and very rare emotional expressions on my face.

Oh, and I have been stealing stationary and cutting my own hair.

Am I a monster now? This has to be the peak of my self-absorption, right?.

And even though I was always one for sharp introspection and generally excessive thinking, the new me makes me quite uncomfortable sometimes because of the way it requires self-analysis and tangent elaboration like an addictive chemical drug. Don’t get me wrong, I am having the best of times, doing what I want to do, growing into myself, dabbling with new ideas, reading interesting things every day.

Life’s great.

It’s just that I have changed, and I am morbidly aware of it. It really irks me how I managed to become so different so easily and that I can pinpoint so many of these developments. My self-image has had to undergo considerable (reluctant) alteration. I am clearly not as nice as I used to be. I hate not relating to old versions of myself and knowing exactly why I can’t.

“People change” is what everyone always tells me, but nobody ever gave me instructions on what to do when I began to change myself.

So keeping tabs on my own evolution (devolution?) is suddenly an imperative in my mind because I have come to acknowledge that one day,  I might wake up in a strange, exotic country with rainbow nails and buzzcut hair and not even recognize myself as a familiar person. It is not impossible. I know that I become an indistinguishable part of the world around me, but I can be so many different people if I just choose to be them. The world is what I see, and what I am, becomes the world.  I cannot resist novelty if I wish to survive and thrive as a human being, both in the world outside and in the turmoil inside, but I can at least try to notice when it is happening. This self-awareness is the foundation of all self-respect in our kind, and I guess I will just have to roll with it.

So here is me trying to hold on to some parts of myself as I let go of the others. On my terms.

Here is me hoping Rajsi 3.0 turns out to be a happy human too.

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