Monday, June 16, 2014

Smiling through a Forced Exile

Strange title, eh? Got you interested enough to read, eh?

This is what happens when you abandon someone. Now that none of my regular readers visit the blog everyday to read about my antics, I have been forced to resort to gimmicky titles to get some interest and traffic out here.

Yeah, yeah I know I haven't been writing frequently, but that doesn't  mean you don't spend 3 seconds (or 7 if you type slow) to type in in your browser to check what's been happening in my life. Hell, you can also use Ctrl+Enter in case typing the www. and the .com is too much effort!
SO there are two main topics here.

I did something on Saturday that I haven't done for 10 years now. Something that is so devastatingly strange and uncommon that I kind of felt very good about it. Something that was forced, no doubt, but was still very very liberating.

I didn't carry my cellphone. Yes, I walked out and about without the familiar weight of a cellphone in my left pocket.

Wait, actually that's not true. I did go through a small period when I didn't carry my phone in 2007. That was when I had fallen full length into a rainwater drain in Bangalore's torrential rains. Don't remember that? And you call yourselves my  regular readers, hmmpff. Read it here: The Mysterious Incident of the Drain Dive

Coming back to a happier time, this time was a bit strange. I got a call from Vodafone (my service provider) on Thursday (12 June) that some documents need to be re-submitted by the 15th or my phone would be disconnected. Now I normally don't listen to such calls with a lot of concentration. So it didn't register with me. You would normally be correct in concluding (with a snigger) that he must have forgotten about it and woke up to a no-working-phone situation. Except, that's not what happened. Did I forget about it? Yes. Did I have any intentions of submitting the documents? No.Was the service provider justified in disconnecting my phone if the documents were not submitted in 3 days? Yes. Did they wait for the 15th to disconnect? NO, a resounding NO.

They disconnected the phone on Friday, 13th June! Now, I had heard stories of scary things on Friday the 13th, but super-efficiency from the service provider was not one of them.

But this did have a good effect. Not having a phone is mildly therapeutic. Not that it still doesn't keep pinging because of Whatsapp that you get through the wifi networks at home and work, but it's been a while since I just walked out without a device that anyone could reach me with. It was faintly liberating. And I had to hunt for the phone this morning because it had been so unimportant over the weekend that I didn't even know where it was!

The other topic is a little strange and perhaps you'll laugh at my silliness.
"He's a few cards short of a deck"
"As we suspected, he's a little cuckoo"

Yeah, yeah hear me out though.


You're running about getting ready, packing lunches, waiting for the maid and cook to clear out etc. Tell me, who doesn't read those silly articles about how people get up early and meditate and  relax and go through their morning routines with a beatific smile, and make a face and say what bull shit is this. Actually, a very appropriate cartoon strip also came out in today's Bangalore Times.

So you get out of the house and on the road where all the stressed out drivers and riders are trying to cut out a few minutes from their commute and reach office on time so that the rest of the day can be a bit better. By the time you reach work your shoulders are knotted up with stress, you have a scowl plastered to your face and you pretty much know how the rest of the day is going to be like.

I read something a little while back which says that even the act of smiling is a stress buster and can help you calm down.

Baloney, you say. And so did I. How can plastering a grin on your face affect your psyche? Seems like another of those silly authors writing anything to make their timeline.

But I've started trying it on my drive to work. Force a smile and automatically the scowl goes away (try it, you can't hold a scowl on your forehead when you're smiling), things slow down a little and you're more willing to let the bike-guy who almost brushed against your car go by without yelling abuses at him. You reach office more at peace.

I know, I know, Swapnil is getting soft in the head.

But try it. Before you dis it, try it on one commute. I wouldn't be recommending this if I didn't actually like it.

So if you're driving around Bangalore, around 9:30-10 in the morning and you see a rakishly handsome guy with a silly (slightly scary) grin plastered on as he maneuvers his car deftly, don't run away screaming - it's probably just me trying to bust some stress!

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