Choti Mata’s Note: It is a truth universally recognized that a person in need of online recognition must be regular in posting content. I spent an entire year of my life in a brilliant startup that thrived on this very idea. I still needed to traumatize Jane Austen fans to remind myself of this basic tenet. I hope the irony is not lost on you. While I don’t admit to be in need of online recognition…or well in need of anything in general (this is Choti Mata speaking remember!), I have resolved to get more regular. Well, resolved to try to get more regular. I can think of a grand total of 3 people who would be extremely happy with this development.
Choti Mata loves her personal cheerleading squad.
Who would have thought that an insane, nearly pointless and absolutely harrowing real estate hunt in Mumbai could whip up some serious life lessons?
Last few months of my life have been a blur of random images. Oddball brokers, expensive flats, inhabitable properties—punctuated by a whole lot of taxi chasing and hair pulling. It was all my fault really. I was first trying to rent a flat. Then the family back home decided they needed to throw some serious cash around and decided they will buy a property instead. The only trouble was that all the serious cash magically transformed into peanuts the moment Mumbai made its appearance in the transactions.
Hence, I was trying to buy a flat. And then rent one. And eventually at some point during this self inflicted confusion induced real estate torture, I found myself accommodation-less—rented or bought.
Long story short, I did succeed in renting a place. I am definitely closer to an impending hypertension than I was a few months ago. But I did rent a place. And from what I can make out of the constant commotion in the house these days, the family seems to have managed to almost buy one too.
But this piece is not about mine or the family’s real estate conquest. This is not about the heart attack I almost did get but then didn’t. This is about something slightly more significant; slightly more meaningful.
This is about the illusion of control. And the idea of letting go.
In one of those paradoxes that seem to be a product of some sort of cosmic joke on Choti Mata, the property I eventually rented was the one I had seen in the very first hour of the very first day of my house hunt. I rejected it. Not that there was something gravely wrong with the apartment. It was actually pretty decent by Mumbai standards. It just did not fit my ‘vision’.
Then began my quest for a house. I ran around the lanes of Mumbai like a headless chicken. I cursed. And then ran some more. On account some strange, fancy (Sigh! human foibles) and frankly rather stupid whim, I made into a sort of personal ego issue to not take up that house—the one I had seen in the first instance. This despite the fact that there was nothing majorly wrong with the house and even more importantly, it fit into my budget perfectly.
It was personal. I did not want that house.
Driven by this sense of challenge , I pushed myself beyond limits of any reasonable sense. And looked. And looked. And looked.
Obviously, I failed. It was as if the entire Universe had conspired against me to make sure this was challenge I did not win.
By the time I was done, my aforementioned ‘vision’ had dissolved so well and proper, I could not recall what it looked like. And my ego had taken a beating so bad, I was surprised my identity responded to my own name.
I had lost. To a house. To a damn house!
It was much later that I actually registered the larger lessons that were far more important than my ego-bruises. It was a trivial house hunt—but the resulting realization was massive and disproportionately humbling.
The realization of how little control I had on something as minor as a house and what did it really say about my life as a whole!
Almost all of us lead our lives with a prevailing sense of control—on our decision, on people, on almost everything else. Once in a while something happens that reminds us that this life is much larger than our individuality allows us to realize. Sometimes it is something momentous—like a tragedy. At others, it is trivial, like a house hunt. But these periodic reminders, their scale notwithstanding are extremely crucial. Crucial for us to remind ourselves that we are mere players in a larger game. The game of life. Ultimately, it is the life that plays out. There are things-- sometimes everything that is beyond our control. And this is one fact, if taken in the right spirit, that can be extremely liberating. It can free us from the burden of consequence driven actions—obsessing over results, obsessing over success and failure, obsessing over our control on things or people in our lives.
It is one simple realization that can actually allow us to not worry. To live. And enjoy while we are at it.
If any testimony for the success of this formula is required, my experience is an illustrative example. After all the struggle and pointless torment, I eventually realized that letting go was actually the best option. And the house that was offered up by the conspiring forces of the Universe is not so bad after all. All I actually needed to do was to let go of my need to control and accept gracefully.
Barring the graceful part, I have nailed the acceptance. And you know what? It works.