Home >opinion >Strict instructions for grown-ups

As promised, here is your annual instruction manual of how to stay sane when everything around you is driving you quite mad. To be really honest, I am talking about a kind of surrender. Allow the madness to envelop you. Then make it jump out of its skin when it least expects it. Clap your hands dramatically to get the dust off.

Adult life is so repetitive. Fix the car again and again. And again. Give the same instructions every few days. Be stuck at the same traffic light everyday. Appear at the same bus stop routinely. Write cheques and pay bills. Answer emails because you are such a responsible robot.

Of course when we are parents of small children, these same things sound like a blissful getaway. In my life, I am the one who wants to spend lots of time with my children, and I am the one who is not there even when I am at home with them. It is lovely to hear them play in the house and dreary to have to intervene in their fights. Our children have recently entered that magical zone where no one is in diapers any more and none of them have a smartphone yet. It is time to take some time off. Wheeeee!!

Every few days, take a needle and prick the shiny skin of the routine balloon. Don’t wait for occasions to celebrate. Eat cake without provocation. Share your cake.

Walk into streets and alleys where you have no business. Let people look at you. Eat gulab jamun. Or barfi. Don’t buy anything. Unless you need new underwear.

Yes, you can have the gol gappas, don’t be afraid. You have survived them before.

Take photos. Document your life. Take photos of yourself. Pay attention to who you are. Yes, you. Not just the people who are stuck in Bigg Boss and other reality shows making a fool of themselves. Pay the same attention to the person who is stuck in your life. You.

Laugh at your ego. My ego laughs with me every time I catch it doing something really daft.

“You’re so vain, you duffer. What are you scared of," I ask.

Ego laughs uncomfortably in response. Sometimes I call up a friend and poke fun all over again at my ego. That’s even more fun.

Hop on to a bus or auto-rickshaw for the novelty sometimes. Walk on the sidewalk of busy roads to find your car wherever it is parked. Eat chuski on the way. Maybe you will start skipping over the cracks in the pavement like you used to when you walked home from the school bus stop everyday. Perhaps you will notice yellow flowers growing in the cracks. Admire your shoes. Or toes.

Do something unexpected. Not big things. Small ones, just for yourself. They cost little and shine quite bright. Be naughty. Let out that scream.

Speak up if you are a quiet type. Tweet. Update. Form opinions. Don’t copy. Create. Okay, I will relax this rule also. Copy. Copy smartness.

We get tired of always being the oldest person in a family or group. Startle everyone. Rebel against yourself. Be the child.

Make travel plans. As soon as one trip is over, start planning the next. Hide your money from yourself to fund these travels. Run towards the ocean, drive around the mountain’s waist. Remember to stop for tea everywhere. Lie down and look at the sky (flip the camera and take a photo, maybe?). Look at yourself like you’re a love story.

Listen to songs from your childhood. Wonder aloud why nostalgia is supposed to be a bad thing. Forget the question as soon as it appears.

You want your children to never lose their innocence? Rediscover your own. Beauty is also a talent. The ability to be beautiful. Recover it.

Natasha Badhwar is a film-maker, media trainer and mother of three. She writes a fortnightly column on family and relationships.

Write to Natasha mydaughtersmum@livemint.com

Also Read | Natasha’s previous Lounge columns

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