Can dreams be battle scars? or How Freud managed to screw up my dreams.

I had studied dreams once, quite extensively, spurred on by an interesting YouTube channel and multiple psychology websites I found on the net. Night terrors, sleep walking and more satisfyingly psychological-sounding things did encourage me more into going further into this study. But, as you might have predicted by this point, I soon hit a wall called Freud. It later on did feel amazing tossing around terms like id, ego and superego. I won’t lie. It still makes me feel smart as I type it out.

Then I went on to try and learn how to interpret these dreams. It was fun reading about them, I’ll admit. But when the time came for me to actually use my newfound knowledge on my friends, I wasn’t sure how to tell them that their dreams of entering elevators were actually indicative of an overactive sex drive. I hadn’t learnt to roll my eyes and ignore these stuff at that point, so my interest in dream-telling quickly dwindled.

It was right after this time period that I started experiencing sleep paralysis. What makes sleep paralysis so scary is the realization that you cannot move a single muscle, and not much of the nightmare itself. The first time I woke up and found that my body had locked itself into place, I was terrified. Then I actually woke up, completely disoriented, not knowing how long I was in that haze, and not knowing how much of it actually happened. Did my mother and sister come and stare down at me wordlessly as I slept? Or had I dreamt that up? There was literally no way of telling.

Having never heard of it before in my studies, I was very sure it was a sign of early death. Since I didn’t know how to explain my situation to my parents, I cried a little and then went on Google. Then of course I found out that I wasn’t dying, and that what I was experiencing was an actual thing, and felt a little bit like an idiot. I did cry some more, though, after I told my parents – especially after they suggested I visit a doctor.

At this point in my life I didn’t know what to think of my dreams, because a large part of my sleep was dreamless up till the hazy moments when I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or not. I then learnt to listen to the cues that my body gave me and avoid sleep paralysis, so that they were almost fully removed from my life, but it does catch me off guard at times.

Then I was changing schools, and leaving people I’d shared a classroom with for eight or so years. This meant new friends, and since we would be graduating in a mere two years, the pressure to quickly make strong bonds of friendships was an unconscious thing that all my new classmates felt.

Because of this peculiar pressure, I started measuring milestones as I created friendships, and one of those milestones were our dreams. How often does someone come up to me and say you were in my dream last night? How many times do I dream of that person? Now that I think about it, the milestone should have appeared somewhere between wanna come over for a sleepover and hey guess what I’m gay. It was a personal bonus when I dreamt of my entire gang of friends, and I’d recount to all of them our heroic adventures, and they’d laugh and I’d feel great. Then again, I could be dead wrong about this elaborate theory of dreams and bonds, and probably have to rethink all my friendships. But the fact that the dream even happened must mean something, I feel.

But either way, my little theory does hold some merit, because when you dream of someone you’ll naturally narrate to them the chain of events, and this might of course spark more conversation about the particulars of your dream. You will tell them things you never thought you’ll tell them. They will need to know every detail about your old school’s rather unpleasant mentor who was chasing the both of you in your dream, and then of course you’ll have to tell them about the school’s floor plans and layout so you can then explain to them how you proceeded to jump off the third floor and then ride on a waterfall to the sports ground. So, you see? Somewhere there, it makes sense.

School then offered me some more perspective on dreams, and then I had to dredge up all of my childhood dreams and carefully go through them to ensure I was a normal child while growing up. I think I passed that test well enough. But then again I’d filled in the gaps of most of my dreams because my memory is terrible, so I suppose they’re all mostly unreliable now. I don’t let that bother me too much.

Then Freud and I were introduced to each other once more, and this time with a proper study into the Oedipus complex that I’d carefully avoided before and all sorts of weirdly sexual concepts that my psych teacher rather bravely covered with a completely straight face. I still admire her for that.

The dreams that I had then were populated with what I thought were generally normal themes. I could, for example, dream of going shopping, but I ended up waking in a cold sweat with Freud flashing neon lights above my head saying YOU DREAMED OF YOUR SUBZIWALA, NOW WHAT MIGHT THAT MEAN?

Thankfully, this time I’d learnt to take what he said with a pinch of salt, so I could manage to maintain a largely guiltless memory of my dreams. I pride myself on my skills of living in denial, and ignoring relatively important things. Not putting too much thought into my dreams is something I can work with.

Now, there are some dreams I have that do make me want to book an appointment with a local psychologist. But I control that urge. It’s the dreaded curse of studying psychology, I tell myself. It’s a tragic and noble tale. Wear your disturbing dreams like medals of honor. But in secret, when no one’s there to see them. You can look back on them later at your own pace. For now, don’t tell anyone.

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To veg, or non to veg

Are you a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, you ask, and fleetingly I envision seating you down and telling you.
Let’s start with pulling out my family charts. My father was a non-vegetarian, my mother a vegetarian. They’ve both become Krishna conscious (or – very, very religious) and now they’re both vegetarian.
I used to be a non-vegetarian as well, but one day my dad decided he wasn’t anymore, so my sister and I gave up too. No, we weren’t forced into it. We stopped cooking meat in the house, so we stopped eating it as well. It really wasn’t that hard, what are you gaping at me like that for?
Yes, everyone else in my family are non-vegetarian. No, it isn’t too much of an issue. Well, they did take this new development pretty badly at first. One of my aunts pulled my sister and I aside, and asked us in worried whispers- are you being forced into it, don’t be afraid to tell your auntie and uncle, you don’t have to stop eating meat because of your parents, okay?
I remember being legitimately shocked, surprised, and a tad bit offended, so the look that I gave her genuinely spelt out are you an idiot, and I don’t think my sister and I were bothered much after that. That one aunt still does look meaningfully at me every time the family works around a veg/ non-veg menu, but my dislike of all my relatives in general has overtaken my particular dislike of this aunt, so it doesn’t annoy me like it used to.
Yes, I’ve tried all sorts of things like prawns and sardines and reindeer and steak. Wait, beef? Your eyes widen, almost comically, and I make a face. I really didn’t want to talk about that.
But I will, and here is my two cents. I obviously can’t comment about it from a religious standpoint, god knows what that might end up doing, but I’m just worried about the fact that some people find it more scandalous that a cow was murdered than a human.
The whole I can’t eat it so by extention I won’t allow you to eat it bothers me as well. Think about it. If a sizeable amount of people declared that they wouldn’t
eat, I don’t know, potatoes or something, what would you do? I’m pretty sure
you’d scoff at them and just go about your daily life. (As I write this I realize that
this originally fictional group of people fall under the category of Jain, so I guess
my point is made.)
Eggitarian? Yes, I’ve heard of that. No, I think eggs stink and make my breath
smell disgusting. But if they’re in cakes, I don’t really mind. I did choose omelets
over idlis once, on a train ride to Calcutta, and since my friends were scandalized I
suppose I must report it to you.
The incidents I’ve had with accidentally eating meats are of a notable number, so
I feel like I must tell you about it as well. Some were because I was misinformed,
some because I was just plain stupid. Well, what do you think happened? I
swallowed it and made a face and put it away. But that one time I did make a fuss
and call over the manager of the café, but that was only so we could get another
meal, entirely free of charge, as a token of their apology. I mean, the dish was
listed in the vegetarian section, I figure they’d have to have this problem one day.
You look horrified. I’m pretty sure I’ve met non-vegetarian friends more
dedicated than me. Don’t eat meat on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they say gravely,
and it makes me wonder. What if you eat it late Monday or Wednesday night?
Won’t it still technically be in your body on those fateful days? What happens
then? Are you sent to hell because of your faulty digestive functioning?
No, don’t worry, I’m not looking down on religion. You can eat whatever you
want whenever you want for whatever reasons you like. I don’t care. Unless there
are some moral issues to it, because then I will be concerned for a brief period of
time, realize I can’t do anything, and then just go back to my life.
I do feel bad for people who are vegetarian because of religious reasons, though. I
think most non-veg people (not all non-vegetarians, don’t worry) seem to have
collectively decided to either make their life hell, or treat it like a joke, or both.
The number of people who have reassured me that since they took the meat
pieces out of the dish, which means you can have the curry, it’s totally all right! or
even got actually offended when I refused to eat food they offered, just because
it was non-veg, jeez, she’s so picky, do make me sympathize with my more
dedicated brethren.
We also happen to live in a cruel, cruel world, where a paneer sandwich will cost
the exact same amount as one stuffed with tuna. I don’t know just how expensive
paneer is, or inexpensive tuna might be, but I am so sure we paneer people are
getting the short end of the stick.
I only mention paneer, you see, because another suffering we have to go through
is the notion that every single non vegetarian meal can be replaced with a paneer
dish. I don’t know who thought up of this, but I am personally sick of it. So,
vegetarians, other than a pat on the back and panner butter masala, there is very
little I can offer you as compensation for this injustice.
You squint at me and ask me about my obsession with visiting Japan. I suppress a
sigh and wonder how you’ll handle this.
I do want to go there, and I do want to experience their culture, I assure you. All
of their culture? you prod. Yes, everything, including the sushi and the sashimi
and the okonomiyaki and the onigiri. I don’t particularly care about whether it’s
vegetarian or not, I want to be a part of everything that makes the country what it
is.
Then I’ll come back to India and say to your face that I won’t be eating your
chicken kebab, thank you, and really. What can you do?

Let’s begin

 

I first began like pretty much everyone else – with a naive dream of being a writer. This was a steady goal I had for quite a while, I must admit, but of course it kept getting diluted gradually. I wanted to be an author of several books! No? Well, a journalist then! But that involved too much field work. What about a freelance writer? Well okay, but who’d really pay for your articles?

So I was less and less sure of my goal through the years, but I did stubbornly proclaim some interest in literature despite it all. And then for two years I was charmed by the beauty of psychology, and was certain I’d be a psychologist before I was told in quite plain words that if you aren’t doing biology along with it, psychology isn’t worth much. I think it says a lot about how I quickly abandoned the field after hearing that.

Now that the one seemingly viable option that I had was blocked (English never really was one, you see) I had to go hunting for a vocation that was decent enough to vie for. After all, at this point I did not have the option of stuttering ‘something to do with English’ or ‘I’ll be a psychologist’ when someone asked me about my future.

The issue here being that I still haven’t come up with a good answer. I’ve worried over this enough so I won’t revisit it, but instead I shall talk about my writing and why I’m writing here.

Being in the course that I am, what I study is English, but not really English. I don’t know anything about the origins of words, for example, but I can analyze poetry and prose as well as the next person. I haven’t read Charles Dickens, but of course I’ve studied Dante. This curious education is obviously incomplete from the point of view of an English major, but I’m not aiming for that, am I?

So that brings me to why I started this blog. I’m not doing it as an aspiring English student, I’m doing it as a college kid who is somewhat good at stringing words together. I don’t have to stress about the quality of my writing or if it ‘works’ or ‘doesn’t work’. I can, on this blog, write freely about whatever the hell is going through my mind without worrying about the future of this blog or what this might mean to others who see it. I don’t have to restrict myself like I used to, when a school board would review my work, and I can write about the most mundane things I like.

This blog is my reconciliation with English, after I ran away from it the first time I was terrified to view it as a potential career path. I don’t have to build my self-confidence through audience driven fan-fictions on Ao3, or write terrible poetry and hide it in the literature section of DeviantArt. And at least for now, I think that’s enough for me.