Thursday, September 5, 2019

Survival tips: Taking a long-distance train in Sri Lanka


It’s easier to be a travel blogger than it is to take public transport in Sri Lanka. And this is saying a lot since I absolutely love taking the bus or train. Photoshop skills help because then you don’t actually have to visit a place to blog about it (and by blog, I do also mean Instagram Stories and whatever else the kids are up to these days). It helps to have a personal photographer, preferably someone who knows a thing or two about filters. But besides a few basic skills, you don’t really need much to become a travel blogger.

Because I’m supposed to be putting more effort into doing things I love (writing) and I consider myself quite the expert travel blogger (don’t challenge this. I’ve looked at a minimum of two dozen travel destinations this year alone), I thought of sharing some of my wisdom with you.

Travelling by train is an excellent way to reduce the cost of a trip and drastically increase travel time. Trains can take you to a lot of places and the rest can be travelled by bus, tuks, or foot. It’s convenient and fun. And the biggest perk of train travel is that you have access to a bathroom (good news for those of us with tiny bladders). No more hoping the bus would speed up so you can go pee or get your vehicle to stop by a somewhat deserted area so you can go behind a bush.

So if I’ve managed to convince you to take the train to your next holiday destination, here are some tips to surviving a long-distance train journey.

1.       Reserve tickets in advance


Not all trains come with a reservation option (no, not even if you pester or sweet talk some poor man at the Fort Railway Station) but some do. If you don’t want to run to the train and fight for good seats, make a reservation in advance. If I remember correctly, a single connection can only book tickets worth up to Rs. 4,000.

If you reserve tickets via your mobile service provider, be sure to take down the reference number they give and not be a gob and go to the collection centre with the hotline number you called instead. If you are bad at talking over the phone, make a note of your travel dates, destination, and number of travellers before dialling. Also be sure to double check the route (apparently, you have to take the Colombo-Batticaloa train to Pasikudah and not the Colombo-Trincomalee train). You can also just go to Fort and reserve tickets. The people there are quite helpful.

If you can’t reserve tickets or waited until the last minute so now have to take a chance with regular tickets, get to the station early. For Batticaloa, we were told the tickets are sold an hour before time of departure.

If you are travelling with a few others, go in separate directions. Find seats to accommodate your group and gather the troops. Invest in walkie talkies for higher success rates of finding the best seats.


2.       Plan your meals and snacks


If you are taking the night mail, you will need dinner and breakfast (depending on your destination). For dinner, short eats, sandwiches, etc. would do, but breakfast is tricky since most food goes bad overnight. The solution is to take a slightly unhealthy path with manioc (chips), kadala (easily found in cocktail mixture), and biscuits.

If you are travelling during the day, you will be constantly hungry. We recommend ¾ savoury and ¼ sweet items. Marshmallows and kisses are great, cake cravings are real, and Tipitip is the best. Those tiny packets of biscuits are excellent too. Remember to pop your snack packets in advance if you are headed to the hills.

Put all the snacks into a big bag and keep it with you. Have another bag for all the trash that will accumulate. Don’t be the asshole that throws plastic out of the train. Once you get to your destination, get rid of the garbage in a responsible manner.

Note: If you are travelling to an area that doesn’t have a fancy supermarket, take your snacks and beverages to be consumed during your stay with you but don’t dig into them in the train.





3.       Stay hydrated


Carry plenty of water with you, but it’s easier to have a small bottle with you and a large bottle in your main travelling bag. Trains have a few long stops during which you can refill your bottle as needed.

We also recommend a citrus or ginger drink because by the end of the trip, you will feel grubby and dirty and only ginger or lime can make you feel a bit better about yourself.



4.       Don’t forget toilet paper


Listen, train toilets smell. You can’t travel without that occasional whiff of piss. But unless a fellow passenger was hit by explosive diarrhoea, the toilets are somewhat clean. If there’s anything that needs washing, carry a bottle of water with you. Take toilet paper too. Waiting for a long stop at a main station is ideal for a bathroom break because you don’t want to accidentally make contact with the toilet seat.

Keep the toilet paper near you when seated because most of the snacks listed above require hand wiping. We recommend having wet wipes and hand sanitizer too with you but we’ve never remembered to take them during our many (two) travels.



5.       Sleepy times


The night mail is perfect if you want to sleep on your way to the destination so that you get there ready to go exploring or whatever. It’s nice to have at least one journey during the day (preferably return). You can sleep during the daytime train too, depending on the crowd and route.

Ways to keep yourself occupied during the journey include:


Talking with your friends

Snacking

Reading

Listening to music

Enjoying the scenery

Watching a movie



 

6.       Clothing


If you are taking the night mail or travelling to a colder part of the country, carry a hoodie or jacket with you. Wear your comfiest pants. If you wear a bra, sports bras make things a tad bit more comfortable.

While shoes can be annoying, we’ve always worn them so that no toilet water gets on our feet. It also hurts less when people stomp on your feet.




7.       Personal space? Wat dat?


From stinky men standing right next to you to conveniently oblivious achchis taking up ¾ of the seat, there’s no such thing as personal space in the train. If you sit by the window, you are lucky but if not, prepare to have vendors and passengers bumping into your shoulder every few seconds.

We have no tips on how to survive this. Sorry!






If you take these tips to heart, taking a long-distance train will be as easy as becoming a travel blogger, so book that hotel, take that train, enjoy your holiday, and stay safe.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Control

I remember talking with a friend about why we drink and the reason was that for those few hours, we don’t have to be in control of our lives. We forget whatever is taking up space in our minds. We forget work and shitty people and everything that makes life difficult. For those few hours, we can float around and say whatever without worrying about every little thing.

This giving up of control is something I yearn for sometimes. I look for that feeling of not being me anymore. But this isn’t something I want all the time, which is why I flip out whenever I don’t have control of a situation at any other time. This is why the moment I had to sign a contract at work, I felt like I could no longer control my relationship with my place of employment. When I have to sit still for a long time, I start to freak out because I can’t just walk away.

And then there is control over my emotions. There are times when my thoughts keep crashing into each other. When I can’t help but be sad for no particular reason. When I sit in the toilet and cry. When it feels like there’s something lodged in my chest.

A few days ago, I started noticing the signs of yet another one of these moods (or whatever you want to call it). The restlessness. Being exhausted despite doing nothing all day. Naps. A lack of direction. Not finding enjoyment in things I usually love doing.

And I stupidly thought that I had control over what was happening within me. I thought I could stop this shift before it really happens.

I’m now realising that I don’t have such control and that I can’t do anything about how I’m feeling. Which is why I woke up today feeling like absolute shit. Why I haven’t been able to focus on anything. Why I had to take breaks in between cooking because my body felt weak.

And it scares me to not have control over my life like this. It scares me that all I can do is stand aside and let this mood take over, flood every little bit of me.

This is a short post and it’s more of a personal post. I may even take this down soon. But I think it’s a way for me to understand what’s happening in my mind and to perhaps gain a bit more control simply by accepting this.



“Put the grenade pin in your hand, so you understand who's boss”

Matilda by alt-J

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Welcome to adulthood


One of the worst things we do, I think, is convincing ourselves that our problems are all part and parcel of being an adult. I tweeted recently about how tired I was and someone left a reply along the lines of ‘welcome to adulthood’. They didn’t mean anything by it, but I thought, “no!”

We need to stop convincing ourselves that being an adult means killing ourselves, because it shouldn’t be. These past few days have been exhausting. I’ve been physically and mentally drained. Last week, I remember waiting for a bus and biting my lip to stop it from trembling. I remember blinking away tears. I remember not talking because I couldn’t stop my voice from doing that weird thing it does before you start crying.

I remember waking up hating myself. Thinking about all the different ways my life could just end and hating myself for hating the universe for not putting me in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I hated myself. I hated that I couldn’t love going to work. I hated that words had become the enemy. I hated that I rarely read because I was tired of letters. I was tired or reading and writing. Being told to do this and that. Having deadlines.

I hated that I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t meet deadlines. I couldn’t deliver as promised. I needed a break. But whenever one job ended, and I gave myself a break and took a nap or watched a film, I hated myself for not getting the other job done.

What was I doing? Why couldn’t I take control of my body and mind? Why was I wasting time?

Why was my mind and body so fucking exhausted?

Is this what it means to be an adult?

We all have jobs. I have a good thing going for me. I don’t have an 8-5 five days a week job. I don’t have bills to pay or groceries to buy or meals to cook. I have a good life and yet I was struggling. Why?

Shouldn’t I just stop fighting it? I should give in to it. Accept adulthood for what it is. Get my shit together. Work even harder. Do my very best and then some more. Stop giving myself breaks. This is what adulthood is about, isn’t it?

I’m 25. I have never had a fulltime job. I signed a contract for the first time just last year, despite having worked more or less since I left school in 2012. While my friends got into relationships and got married and had kids, I wondered how they had time to even go on a date. Hell, how did they find time to even works towards a date?

How do you find the energy to have a social life? How to find the time to do anything but work and hate yourself for not working more?

Did being an adult mean I had to strip my life of anything that wasn’t somehow related to work?



No.



I’m tired. I need breaks. I need to prioritize the rights things, even if it means telling someone you can’t rewrite that article for the fourth time simply because you’ve made plans to meet your friends. Even if it means saying you can’t be at office five days a week and take on more work because you want to be at home with your cats.

I was doing things wrong. I was taking more things than I can handle because I thought that that’s what adults do. But what adults do is listen to their minds and their bodies and make others listen to them.

An adult won’t be a slave to their jobs or society or their parents. An adult will fight for themselves, even if that fight is against themselves.

I miss pouring my heart out into blogs. I miss writing what I felt instead of quoting other people and discussing topics that didn’t personally affect me. I miss what words used to mean to me.



There was a tweet going around recently about what you wanted to be when you were five. People answered with scientist or astronaut or teacher. So many career ambitions. Some achieved as an adult. Some left behind in childhood.

When I was five, I didn’t want to be anything. Not because I wanted to be anything and everything but because I didn’t know you had to be something when you grew up. Sure, both my parents had jobs but at five, this just meant not seeing my parents for most of the day. It meant spending hours with my grandmother. It meant playing with my cousins all day.

It never meant that I too, would someday have to work. It never occurred to me at five that I needed to be anything but what I was already.

And my heart breaks that I forgot this along the way. I know I need a job to earn money and live a ‘comfortable’ life. But what I forgot was that this shouldn’t come in exchange for who I was. I needed to find a way to work for that comfortable life while still being happy, while still doing the things I love.

This is what it means to be an adult.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

What do we expect from books?




I don’t read a lot of Sinhala novels and it’s mostly because the language can get super confusing. I know Sinhala, I can read it without any issue but dialect plays a huge role in novels.

If we talk about English novels for a second, novels by Irvine Welsh, for instance, can’t be easily understood if you aren’t familiar with accents. The same applies to Sinhala novels, to an extent. Words and phrases depend on what the author is used to or the region or era the story is based on. This puts me off Sinhala novels because I quite honestly don’t have the patience to dissect language.

This is perhaps why I found Appachchi Awith to be an easy read and also a hard to put down book. The storyline had a lot to do with it too, and it’s a book I would recommend to anyone.

I was talking about the book with a friend and they mentioned something along the lines of people not liking the book because the psychological elements may have put them off. And in a way, I get it. The book can be read without any understanding of mental disorders, but it helps to know what’s what.

But this made me think about what we really expect from books and movies. I am your average pretentious reader. I sometimes scoff at certain authors or genres. “Oh god, you read cheesy romance?” I would think. I will judge people by what they read.

And yet, I never applied this to movies and TV shows, and the reason is that I like movies and TV shows that don’t carry much depth or ‘value’. I have watched movies like 27 Dresses or Sweet Home Alabama or When Harry Met Sally or Four Weddings and a Funeral so many times. I love the cheesy scenes and dialogue and predictable endings.

So why didn’t I think of some films or TV shows as ‘beneath me’ the way I looked at some books? Well, I suppose it’s because of what I expect from them.

The thing about people who read is that they sometimes dictate what’s good reading and what’s bad or embarrassing. Some books are considered must-reads while others are guilty pleasures. But who makes these rules?

Now I know that we shouldn’t care about what other people think or say. But sometimes these opinions affect us without us even being conscious of it. And then we create this divide between those who read; the ones that read something of value and those who read garbage. We categorize authors as such, and we shame or ridicule people for not reading anyone worth reading.

But that shouldn’t be the case. I used to look down at romance and YA and what not, but guess what I go back to after a heavy read? YA. While the books often tackle important themes like mental health, relationships, bullying, sexuality, etc. they do so in a way that doesn’t wear you out or weigh you down.

Coming back to that initial question; what do we expect from books and movies?

From movies and TV shows, I expect entertainment. If I’m watching a movie at home, I often scroll down Twitter or Facebook while the movie plays. Very few movies demand my undivided attention. And very few movies make me think about it later on. Movies like 28 and Christopher Robin made me think about them days after I watched them, but most are just for those two or three hours that they go on for. After the movie ends, I forget about them, and I decide if I liked the movie or not by how I felt while watching it and not how I felt after.

Yesterday, I watched Bohemian Rhapsody. I loved it, and would love to watch it again. But it’s not a movie I’m taking anything from. I know that it’s not factual or a 100 percent accurate. I know that there are people involved who may want to make themselves look good when presented to the world. But for me, it’s not a source I’d use to learn about Queen or Freddie Mercury. For me, it was a movie that shows bits and pieces of Queen’s career and covered some of their songs.

It was emotional. I cried in the cinema. As I said, I want to watch it again. But I wasn’t looking for a life-changing experience. This isn’t something I expect from movies or TV shows and I think that this is why I’m surprised when a movie or TV show does move me in some way.

Books on the other hand don’t get away that easily. I expect more from them. I expect books to reach in to me and change the way I am. I want books to leave a mark, a scar. I want to be blown away once I read that last word.

I want more than what is between the covers when it comes to books. And this is perhaps why we categorize books and make people feel bad for reading certain genres and authors.

And this is why I’ve been trying to read more than what I think are good books. I want to read YA novels and romance novels. I want to read novels that don’t leave you with anything at the end. I want to gives books a chance the way I give movies and TV a chance. I want to have zero expectations.

I want to stop being a pretentious reader. I think we all should. You can read a book to be educated. You can read it and then take it with you for a while longer by doing more reading about certain things covered or mentioned in the book. Or you can read it, put it down and let it go. Forget about it completely. Look only to be entertained or occupied for whatever time it took you to read it.

I don’t want to read the good books only. I want to read anything and everything. Or at least as much as I can in this short time I have on Earth. Because when you forget those bestseller lists and award winners, you can find treasures. You can find some amazingly underrated books or authors by giving everything a chance.

Friday, October 5, 2018

What have we taught our boys and men?


We taught our boys and men that women are not only the fairer sex but also the weaker sex. We taught them that women are playthings to look at, stare at, and ogle. We taught them that they had a right to inspect every inch of a woman’s body and shout from across the street about every unspeakable act they’d like to use this woman’s body for.
We taught them that they can hit their sisters, wives and daughters. Their hand across a woman’s cheek was a favour done to the woman. To discipline them. Teach them a lesson. “She’s too young to have a boyfriend,” he says, pulling her by her hair. “But you were out there having sex when you were younger than I am,” she thinks.
We taught our men to measure our value. A good wife is one that obeys her husband. Is at his beck and call. Looks away when he sleeps with other women. A good wife is one that keeps the food warm for when he staggers home at 2 in the morning. Brought with her a good dowry. Is a virgin until her wedding night.
We taught them to cover up with excuses, to make it the woman’s fault. “But she was wearing a short dress. What could I do?” “If I was good-looking or rich, she’d consider it a compliment. I can’t help the way I am.” “She needs to know how to take a joke.” “Women never mean it when they say no. They have a secret language. No means yes.”
We taught them that their responsibilities were limited to money matters. Earn a salary and give a portion of it to pay the bills and buy the groceries. We taught them it was okay for them not to take on any responsibilities or tend to any chores around the house as long as they paid a bill or two. The washing, cooking, cleaning, sweeping, tidying up. Those were jobs women were meant to do.
We taught them that a woman’s role at home didn’t change even when the cost of living meant that both men and women had to work. She would be paid lesser than a man. Her job wouldn’t be as important her husband’s. And she’d come home to her second job. Take care of the kids. Cook. Clean. Wash the clothes. Iron them. The men come home and sit in front of the TV with a glass of arrack. “Here, make something for the bite,” they shout.
We taught our boys and men to be lazy pigs that know they can raise their voice and silence us, raise their hand and silence us. We taught our boys and men that they are entitled and privileged. We taught our men to be everything but kind and respectful.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Fuck feminism, eh?


If you know me, you will know that I hate weddings and don’t understand why people get married in this day and age. I could go on for hours about marriage, but yesterday, I forgot about all that and attended a wedding of a classmate. I hate admitting this sort of this but I am glad I went. The wedding was wonderful and I got to spend time with classmates I hadn’t seen since we left school in 2012.

Excuse any incorrect words used in this paragraph but I’m not familiar with what’s what in a church. The service was held in a beautiful church and the sermon was quite good and pretty funny. But then he said something like, “*bride’s name* you have to now be a mother to your husband.” And I thought, “no, fuck that shit.”

If you are a woman, you will be all too familiar with your lifelong role as a caretaker of men. From your father to brothers to husband to sons to grandsons, a woman is expected to take care of the men in her life.

Women aren’t taught (mostly by their own mothers) to cook for self-survival. Oh no, women who cook the most delicious meals go to bed hungry because of stupid cultural norms where the men of the family eat first or get the lion’s share. Women are taught to cook, wash clothes, and keep a house clean and whatnot just so they can do a good job as housekeeper when they get married.

Whenever people ask me why I am so against getting married, I go with one of two answers. The first is a lack of faith in people and commitment and the other is the fact that I don’t want to fit into society’s mould of The Good Wife.

I come from a family of independent women. This is not exactly by choice. Well, in a way, it was by choice. The choice of men to be complete shitshows. Except for my great grandmother who lost her husband when she was still quite young, my grandmother and mother took over things without letting men ruin their lives or force them to a standstill.

So I grew up seeing how my mother could still stand tall despite everything crashing to the ground in her life because she had a house of her own. She didn’t have to bother about rent or finding a roof for her kids. She wasn’t homeless when her marriage didn’t work out.

When people talk about men not letting their women work, my mother continues to work. My grandmother worked. My grandmother’s best friend is one of the most independent women I know. My grandmother’s sister lives by herself and worked until very recently.

The women in my life are strong and independent. They taught me that life isn’t easy but that you need to be strong enough to not let anyone or anything crush you. They taught me that you can only really truly trust and depend on yourself. They taught me that anyone else, family, friends, can and will betray or take advantage of you.

Growing up with such women, I never saw a need for a husband. And society has changed. Relationships have changed. Commitment has been challenged.

And the place of women in society has changed. Yesterday, at my classmate’s wedding, all the friends I met had jobs. Women earn their own money now. We are financially independent.

I take cabs by myself at night. I can walk into a bar and order a drink if I want to. If I feel like I need a smoke, I can light one up. I can sleep with a man I’m not married to if I want to.

And this is thanks to feminism. There are women in politics. Women climbing up the corporate ladder. Women living a life independent of men. Women bringing up kids by themselves. People have fought so hard just so we don’t have to stay locked up in our houses, living off whatever our men hand us. We don’t have to think our lives revolve around men, have babies we don’t want or get into marriages we don’t want to be in.

And I’m sure you are already thinking, “What kinds of a bubble does this nutcase live in?”

Let’s get to the dirty deets now.

I am 24 years old. When I travel by bus or train, my entire body freezes when a man sits or stands near me. When a man offers to take my bag (if I’m standing) or does anything nice, I worry that he has ulterior motives. When I take cabs back home, whether it’s at 11am, 4pm or 10pm, I am worried sick that something terrible will happen.

At work, I keep getting emails addressed as ‘dear sir’. Once I got a call regarding an article and the caller kept asking for ‘Mr Wickrama Adittiya’.

When I walk on the road, I have my resting bitch face on. I am always aware of my surroundings and the people close to me.

I live in constant fear. Why? Because I was born a woman in a world that thinks of women as plastic blow up dolls that are there solely for the pleasure of men. We go from taking care of the men in our lives to being ogled and catcalled on the road to be harassed in public transport or in our workplace. We are treated like shit and are then blamed for existing.

It’s always the woman’s fault. Society functions like a bullock cart. The man whips the ox until it can’t carry the weight anymore. It stops moving or it crashes to the ground. The man gets off the cart, curses the exhausted animal and blames it for being weak, being born to this fate, or asking for it by choosing this path in life.

And I’m sick of this. I’ve been sick of this for a long time. I’ve been sick of this even before I understood what sex was. Since I was a kid, society made sure I knew I was not just different to men but inferior to them.

So whenever I hear people say “fuck feminism” or “god, these feminist”, I fear for the future. I fear for my future. Because we always have hope that things will get better and the thought that it could get worse is terrifying. I want to live in a world where my gender isn’t a reason for people to treat me like shit, and if this means that you can’t make sexist jokes because “all these snowflakes get so offended” so be it.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Working from home


Whenever people ask me about work and I tell them I work from home, their response is some variation of, ‘omg you are so lucky!’ And when I first started working from home, in September 2016, I was over the moon about it. I was discovering the joys of working in my PJs, from bed, while stuffing my face with unhealthy snacks.


I haven’t asked people who have never worked from home what they think it’s like, but I’m assuming these are included in the package

  • Not having to wake up at some ungodly hour to go to work
  • Not having to sit in traffic for hours
  • Not having to deal with annoying coworkers
  • Not getting tangled in office politics
  • Working in the nude and not having anyone know



At first, it worked a bit like this. The magazine we were working on was new so we were still figuring out deadlines and how to get things done. We were used to working at an office. We couldn’t wrap our heads around how to get the same work done without ever meeting the people we work with.


So, for those first few weeks, I was in this place of bliss. When people said, ‘you are so lucky!’ I could and would respond with, ‘I know!’


Of course, this was short-lived since I soon realized that working from home isn’t as con-free as I thought it was. So now, whenever people tell me I’m lucky to be working from home, I want to scream at them and tell them that it isn’t all fun and games.


So let’s look at why working from home can drive you insane and what you can do to not go insane. Before that, here’s a much needed warning in this day and age. I can’t generalize my experience. The experience of working from home depends largely on the home you work from and the kind of work you do. But this is how I maintained what little sanity I have during these two years.




It’s not as fun


Before you label this a first world problem smh, please understand this. Working from home isn’t all fun and games. It’s exhausting. It makes you feel less human. It makes you feel like you’ve been shipped off to Pluto. At one point, I was actually craving the unnecessary drama of working at an office among other people.

Now I know that you always have the option of taking your work to a café or shared office/work space but with the paycheque I get, those were never options. So I had to be at home, and it could get really bad.

Working from home sometimes felt like being shut in a box. You kept moving around in this limited space. There was no one to talk to, share your thoughts with. Through a small hole in the box, you would see people going out with their colleagues, having fun. Discussing where to buy lunch from, going for a drink after work. And you sat in your box, alone.

You would hear a noise and you can never be sure if you’d made the noise, someone from the outside had or if your brain was playing tricks on you.

Days just merge together. The laws and systems within which the world operates no longer applies to you.

It’s like jumping into a pool expecting clean and clear water but finding the pool is filled with nothing but sludge. So I needed to make a few changes to my life. And these are what I found to be helpful to me, so please don’t throw potatoes at me because these didn’t work for you.



Company


My first job was at the school library. It would get really quiet at times but when a class had their library period, I’d suddenly be in a room full of kids. My second job was at a busy and loud office. Mondays were slow and quiet days when most people had a day off since Saturday was a work day for some. I used to look forward to Mondays simply because I didn’t have to be around a lot of people. My third job was at a company that had maybe 10 employees. This number would have been perfect if only the office space was bigger. It felt cramped.

After all this, getting to work from home felt amazing. With just one other human at home during weekday mornings and afternoons, I basically had the house to myself. But the silence that filled every corner of the house started to drive me crazy. I was never one to listen to music but now I usually have something or the other playing just to drive away the eerie silence.

The solution is having company. In my case, it has been cats. Cats make great friends because they will sleep all day and not bother you that much, but they’ll also stay extremely close to you so that you don’t feel too lonely.

While working, I would talk to the cats, rant to them. When I was feeling bored or lazy, I would procrastinate by watching the cats play or be cute. The only con to cats is this: They can be a huge distraction because you want to spend all day hugging them and showering them with love and attention.



Deadlines


Because I didn’t work alone and had to send work to someone or the other by a certain time, I had to stick to my deadlines. But it wasn’t easy. Pushing yourself to sit down and get work done is a real challenge. I’ve wasted countless days in bed, unable to push myself to get work done.

My solution to this was to set fake deadlines and freak out about them. Convince your brain that the fake deadlines are the real ones. Have to send content to X by Saturday? Well, it’s actually Friday afternoon so hurry up. You will most likely miss your fake deadline but you can still meet your actual deadline.



Avoid the bed


At one point, I used to work from bed. This was mostly because I didn’t have a proper place in the house to work from. My mother then got me a desk and chair and set up an ‘office’ for me. This meant that I no longer lay in bed, pretending to work.

Always avoids beds when working or even studying. It’s so tempting to take a break and just sleep. Have a set place to work. Keep your laptop and notebooks there. Keep it as distraction free.



Make plans


I was never a social creature. I dreaded it when friends made plans. But working from home changed that. I’ve made a handful of friends during these two years and they have managed to get me to leave the house every now and then. If you can afford it, do make it a point to go out once a week. You don’t need to spend 6,000 rupees on each outing. There are so many inexpensive options.

Sometimes even taking the bus helps. You get to be around people, not feel as detached from the world. When you are at home day after day, you slowly turn your house into a prison. You can leave but you don’t want to. Your daily routine becomes bed to work to bed to work.

I started going for yoga classes around the same time as I started working from home. The classes helped me keep track of what day of the week it was. They made me stretch my legs, leave the house.

Having an activity like this really helps. I have trouble leaving the house. I will make plans, even get dressed and then have my brain give me a thousand and one reasons why I should stay at home. When it comes to plans with a friend or an event or something you were going to do by yourself, it’s easy to cancel plans*

But when you have an activity that has set dates and times, you just have to go. You can push yourself to leave the house.



Exercise


I won’t deny it, I’ve gained a lot of weight since working from home. Yoga helps with stretching and meditating but not losing weight. This is mostly because I don’t practice as often as I should and also because I spend more time eating, sitting in one place and not exercising. Weight is a personal thing. For me, gaining weight isn’t the problem but the fact that said weight gain is limited to my tummy area.

I need to work on having a flatter tummy or I’ll need to look into wearing maternity clothes –you know those pants with the elastic waist? Ya, those.



Hobbies


These past two years, I’ve failed at maintaining my blogs or completing any challenges I set for myself. I wanted to post a doodle a day this year but never got around to it. I’ve wanted to write a story, but never got around to it. But I know that if I can stick to some sort of daily challenge that isn’t as tough as work, I can get my life back on track. I can keep track of what day it is and the work I’ve been doing.




When it feels like you are falling deeper and deeper into an abyss, you can’t wish for a miracle. There isn’t a rope suddenly tied around your waist that connects you to the edge of the cliff. There is no parachute to slow down your fall. All you want are small branches and edges to hold on to. Make your way up again, even if it takes you a very long time. Finding these branches can be tough and scary, but you need to listen to your body and mind. What is best for you? What works for you?

When you figure it out to some extent at least, things start to settle down a bit. You can then take time to see how you can stay sane while working from home.




*Cancelling plans is a messy thing. You shouldn’t cancel plans but sometimes you need to. Try to make your friends understand that cancelling plans isn’t about your relationship with them. I’ve had to cancel plans because of sick pets, general tiredness, illness, and my friends have understood. Be honest with them. Say that you aren’t going through the best of times and simply can’t leave the house or be around other people.