Ankita has a tradition of writing posts on Thursdays introducing the latest Desi Outsiders episode. As I'm sure you've already figured out, that's not happening today. Instead, I'm going to take you on a careening ride through the worst/best parts of my life. Depends on how you look at it, I suppose.
The first person who gets to hear the Desi Outsiders episodes after Ankita and Meenal are done recording is me as I still have the pleasure of editing and publishing them. And something interesting happened while editing today's episode. While I'm usually a cynical asshole who whines about everything from sound quality to the inflection in words, today I was reserved. The content was cutting it a little too close to home.
This week's episode explores the past struggles and the powerful resurgence of Sukhminder Kaur. She explains how her loneliness forced her down a path where only food gave her comfort. She explains how it became an addiction and she followed through with the slow but strong resurgence which eventually culminated in her emerging as a finalist in India's first plus-size beauty contest as its only British contestant.
While it wasn't the most important part of the conversation or even the part that any of them probably want listeners to focus on, her words about her addiction and "the kick" that it gave her were what hit me the hardest. The discomfort I felt as she talked about how the addiction helped her drown her feelings in it was chilling. The parallels in her story to mine were uncanny. The factors that drove her to a desperate place and the addiction itself was different, but I could perfectly understand the way she felt. Because I had felt it myself - the unconquerable urge to sate one's addictions.
While Sukhminder fell to her food addiction due to loneliness, as a young child, I fell to helping my parents' businesses. My reasons were weak and they matter little. Unlike Sukhminder, I chose my fate. I never tried to fit in, I never put in the effort. But make no mistake, this is no apology, I'll explain why later. The work brought me comfort. Somehow, it fulfilled me. Soon, it became my addiction. I thought about work and work alone. I sustained myself on the puzzling conundrums that the work introduced me to, day in and day out. At some point beyond the view of everyone who loved me including myself, it transformed into an unhealthy monster. It kept me up at night. I woke up many times a night at the strangest of hours to go back to work.
But before it could do a lot of harm, I was already moving to a strange place far away from home, to attend university. The move brought many new and exciting things for me. But most importantly a change to my nature, my addictions, and the nature of my addictions. I was introduced to a new monster called self-loathing and acquired many more addictions along the way, most that I'd rather not get into here. While in the beginning, it made me a spiraling mess that I could see no end to, it eventually brought me to Ankita. By the time we found each other, I was a weirdo who possessed the uncanny ability to survive the inexcusable amount of abuse that I was putting myself through mentally and physically.
But Sukhminder's words didn't just bring back awful memories. It reminded me of a very important lesson that I had forgotten in a long time - We have to be open to new perspectives. If I had not been related to the Desi Outsiders podcast, I probably would have never begun to listen to it or any other podcast for that matter. Listening to podcasts was never really my thing. But I see the value in it ever so clearly now. Without understanding the varied struggles and journeys of the souls that we share this world with, we will never be able to see past the narrow view of the world that can be achieved on our own. The fact that I could relate, in some way or another, to most of the guests on this show and could learn to deal with my problems from their own lessons is a testament to that fact.
On that note, I'll take this chance to tell you that you must be willing to listen to perspectives even if they seem abhorrent to you now. We must understand them fully so that we can better ourselves and/or others in the process. To understand this better, please read about the proud tradition of Berkeley students who once welcomed any perspective under the condition that it could stand the test of their rigorous intellectual debate and how that has now been deformed into a mess of stifling free speech. Read more here.
Sukhminder ends the conversation on an upbeat note of how one can defeat one's addictions by accepting and working with oneself to reach happiness. Her proposal for how to be happy did not resonate with me. And to explain why it didn't, I first have to explain why this entire post was not an apology.
Over the past 6 years of being together, Ankita has slowly chipped away at the worst of my addictions - the ones that she felt were harmful to me and simply had to go. This meant that I could no longer replace breakfast with a 5-litre tub of ice cream, that I couldn't skip entire days without meals or sleep and binge on others, and many more of my favorite addictions. She has slowly weeded out what she thought was harmful and more, while letting me keep the ones that were too ingrained to undo. So, I still wake up in the middle of the night thinking of clever ways to solve a problem that probably only exists in my head. I still drunk-play games for hours on stretch while loudly scream-singing. I still do many things I probably shouldn't do. I suspect that most of the little annoyances I have at work stem from my addiction to my work itself. My messed up sleep cycles are probably simply the withdrawal. But still, I really can't imagine changing now.
Because I'm already happy. Because I already have everything that I've ever wanted in life.
I wake up next to someone who turns a blind eye to everything about myself that I fully loathe.
Now that I got that cheesy shit out the way, tune in to the latest Desi Outsiders episode with Sukhminder Kaur: