THE PERFECT ANGLE?

Spilling the hot cup of coffee on my hand in the morning whilst being unmindful, thinking again how I would begin this blog post, as Sufjan Stevens- Casimir Pulaski Day played on my laptop piercing the morning gloominess of a cloudy day —

“In the morning, in the winter shade, On the first of March on the holiday, I thought I saw you breathing,”

I muttered a curse while I let some cold water take care of my hand and started the burner for another cup of coffee.

This fifteen minutes in the day, in the morning when everything is quiet and my room is also echoing a certain silence yet waking up with me, with the rhythm of the spoons scraping coffee or the sound of the milk boiling over, these few minutes are when I completely zone out.

I love how living alone has had so many perks of late, especially when it comes to reflecting life choices and relations, and of course taking time to think about the work that one has been doing. I had decided quite some time back to do a post on my skin care routine and the kind of insecurities I have faced over the years, since my teen years and into adulthood.

The morning routine that i do is very essential to my skin care as well because I literally begin my day with a tall glass of water. No lime or honey or any such additives. A simple glass of water even before freshening up. Its something my Mom taught me while I was a kid and I find water to be a very indispensable part of my mornings. For almost three years I had also taken to drinking the water soaked in Methi seeds overnight in empty stomach, works wonders!

SKIN HISTORY

Now before I jump to what my daily skin care is I would like to point out that I have always had a combination skin prone to sensitivity. I had a very clear skin till about 14 years after which obviously I started getting breakouts on my forehead. Since then, for ten years I have had a dermatologist who has treated me every time I had breakouts. Some years were good and some years were really bad. Thankfully I never had any scarring or too many blemishes as I have always taken medication before the acne got worse and my breakouts were not rapid or concentrated.

My biggest mistake would be to have done chemical peels in a desperate attempt to get a clear skin. I would not suggest anyone who wants to do that because it comes with side effects more than often, leaving your skin scarred and dry. 

When I changed my dermatologist while pursuing graduation, I went for chemical peels and the doctor used to pierce my pimples and then use the peel. I was young and thinking that recovery doesn’t happen without some pain, I was gullible enough to continue this when I realised that its actually a convenient method to have the patient come in repetitively. 

There is no guarantee that your breakouts will stop, they may reduce but you will always keep getting recurring pimples, also your skin would dry out way too much and now you would have to deal with dryness as well as scarring. Trust me when I say this that its a horrible experience when you are 20/21 and you want to dress up and put makeup etc. Now, again not all days were bad, but especially during menstruation cycle, stress and anxiety, I used to always inevitably have breakouts and the pattern would continue. It made me very very sad. 

It was only when I was around 22, I was also battling depression and needless to say I was too tired to pay attention to my skin. I had given up. That’s when my parents took me to a family skin doctor who gave me much assurance and condemned picking or touching pimples ever. 

Along with oral medications and some topical creams, gentle face wash that doesn’t dry the skin and lifestyle changes, it took me almost a year to see good results and some consistency. Incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables, along with proper meal timings, exercise, lots of water (almost 3 litres a day) to drain toxins, and regular sleep patterns also contributed to good skin.

 I stopped any kind of commercial skin care products and completely stopped any parlour facials etc. You just have to let your skin recover, adapt and heal while you are going through all this change, especially when you are in a disturbed state of mind and this is very very important. More often than not, the key to good skin is mental happiness. We keep undermining our mental health so much that we don’t realise how what we eat and how we feel can start dramatically reflecting off your face. 

When I moved to Istanbul I stopped the medications but after three months, I had a rash because of some food item and I had to consult a skin doctor again and I was on oral treatment for the rash as well as acne once again. The doctor explained how after 24 years i would automatically stop getting acne, but at that time, because of the rash I had developed some acne and was put on treatment immediately, a course that would go on for six months. 

Needless to say, the combination of my family skin doctor and the Istanbul doctor literally fixed my skin. However, I still of course have many insecurities.

MY DAILY SKIN CARE ROUTINE

Those who skim through my insta stories off late will always find me without make up on my face. Before however, i wouldn’t even think of posting a selfie without at least some amount of concealer. 

Since the time my skin has been healing and there used to be a bit of dryness due to my oral medicines and winter season in Istanbul, my doctor had told me to use only olive oil. Olive oil is high in naturally occurring Vitamin E, extremely healthy for lips, skin and hair too!

In the mornings when I wake up, I wash my face with lukewarm water. This is important to note that NEVER wash your face with soap the first thing in the morning. It causes your pores to produce more oil and if you already have breakouts, they can get worse. Simply wash your face with water and drink a glass of water. Avoid any product and let your skin be bare for the first one hour minimum! 

After that I generally do my basic workouts at home and work up a sweat. This helps to clear your pores, the more you sweat, the more your face gets rid of toxins. After that jump into the shower and use a gentle face wash, followed with a mineral or rose toner and a soft hydrating cream. On some days if I feel my skin is too dry, like during winters, I replace the moisturiser with olive oil, just three drops for my skin and lips. 

I have been avoiding heavy make up since a year now and completely prefer to let my skin breathe. If I have to put make up I do it by getting a good compact base that is loose and a bit of concealer, thus letting my skin breathe. I may use foundation once or twice a month but it is that rare. When you have a clear skin at some point, you stop caring about covering up so much and I like it to be natural. Even the make up below does not involve foundation base but a loose compact base!

My bedtime skin routine is a bit different. I use a Sulphur soap to wash my face, exfoliate with the same soap and a massager once a week to improve circulation and erase fine lines, and I never forget to use a charcoal detox mask by L’Oreal skin once in two weeks. The charcoal mask literally dries your skin of all the impurities and I wouldn’t recommend using it too much as it might get your skin dried out. 

After that, toner and a Vitamin E Body Shop night cream for my face – literally the holy grail for skin care.

THINGS TO NOTE 

This is my skin care routine completely based on my skin type and skin history. For me to share is to make you understand what may suit my skin may not absolutely suit you! I think its very very important to never ignore teenage breakouts or even adult acne. Acne is not always red or in high concentration, they can also be like small rashes. It is extremely important to have a dermatologist look into it for you. Never ever blindly follow beauty products or over the counter drugs without getting a skin analysis. The only way to clear skin – trust me- is by first making an appointment with a dermatologist ! Also, if the dermat suggests a chemical peel, find another dermat now that you know!

Olive oil and water is everything as skin food, so are some fruits and leafy veggies. 

Please do not use too much make up products on breakouts or scarring  tissues. They aggravate your skin more. 

SKIN INSECURITIES

I still have so many skin insecurities though! Yes, my acne stopped and I got rid of previous dark circles, even my hair scalp stopped being oily but still there are these small things that make me feel so imperfect or used to for a long time while i was growing up.

 I have these small spots (people call it beauty spots these days) but for me they will always be small black spots. There is one on my nose between my eyes, one near my forehead, two on my left upper cheek and one on my left upper lip. I used to be very conscious of these and could never cover the spots with makeup, but off late I have started embracing these small details and imperfections. 

I remember when I was a kid and kids are mean back in school, girls would sometimes make fun of my fat lips or the spots and I used to cringe sometimes, they would even make fun of my cheeks! It was 12 or 13 years later at the age of 25 that I feel perfection in my flaws and marks. 

I realise now how even the small spots on my face, or the red patches on my cheek, my fat lips that now people ask me if I have used fillers for (like come on!) and when I wash my face and slap on moisturiser and my skin turns red because it is that sensitive, are only proofs and testament to all the years and generations of history that rests on my face, of ancestors and culture that journeyed through billions of years to one day have me in existence, feeling nothing but perfect in my flawed imperfection.

What is perfect anyway? The perfect angle to a photo? To a selfie or to using the app to smooth my skin before? Or the lines that run on my forehead or a spot or two? Or is it when I wanted some boy to find me pretty and I decided that my left profile is better than my right? How do we embrace these silly notions of perfection when the absolute reality is that generations and generations have died and lived to merge and form history on your face, on my face.

Its time we embrace every marks and spots, because somewhere our roots live in them, so shall we?

All pictures in this series are unedited, not touched up and raw.

If you wish to speak to me more on this or share your own story of insecurities – any for that matter – feel free to mail me at thewildberrychild@gmail.com or contact me on my Instagram.

XOXO,

Written by,

Adhisa Ghosh 

OF BIRTHDAYS

“It is a ceremony, the blowing of candles, the cutting of a cake – the mess of cream and sponge in your mouth. The taste is sweet and familiar, like a newly formed wish, fashioned from all the ones you’ve made before.

You don’t remember them in sequence – the things you ask for. You only recall those you wanted the most. Like the pair of neon pink roller-skates, you saw in the shop window when you were twelve. How deeply you felt their absence when you sat among the litter of torn wrapping paper and empty new possessions.

Or the year you turned sixteen, when your best friend’s mother got really sick, and all you wanted was for her to be okay again. It was the year you learned that shooting stars were either a blessing or a curse, depending on what you wanted to believe.

Then there was that year you fell in love. The one where there weren’t any candles – just you walking late at night through the city streets with your heart in pieces, wanting to give yourself to the first stranger who called you beautiful.

Since then it’s been the same every year. As soon as the first match is struck, the smell of burning takes you backwards through your memory. It stops you right at that moment on that warm, September night, as you watched the first trickle of melting wax hit the icing, and you couldn’t think of a single damn thing you wanted – because he was standing there, in the flickering light, asking you to make a wish.” – Lang Leav, Birthdays

I have been pacing around the apartment, having already had my two cups of morning coffee and i have been constantly fretting about how I would even begin this post. Starting with Lang’s poetry about “Birthdays” is a befitting tribute though, and some point of start.

As a lot of you who follow me on my socials will know that two months back, it was my birthday. I turned 24 in Paris and it was the best birthday I could have imagined or asked for. It was one day where there was unprejudiced love, laughter, heart to heart conversations, bottles of wine and 5 am versions of people. It was the best birthday.

Now, I wanted to rewind, just a bit.

I don’t like birthdays. I hate them. I love when I have to eat cake on birthdays but not mine. Why do I hate them? I have big time anxiety and issues more than Vogue regarding birthdays. I always want to be low key on celebrations and be with very selective people.

When i left the country last year, I had a very simple and quiet birthday with my family and a few friends. It was special because we knew that I won’t be there the next year.

However, I was quite excited and looking forward to turning a year older in the “City of lights”. I had  this fantasy that I would get a muffin, stick a candle in it and at midnight, make a wish and eat the muffin, alone. Yes, I am kind of weird that way. I have always enjoyed being alone and honestly I make no apologies for it. I have gotten so good at being on my own that my alone feels sweeter than your solitude. 

But obviously, that was not to be. I remember how we had a submission after four days of my birthday, and Reme, Nidhi and me were completely zoned out, working at our desks and I had obviously even forgotten about all the dramatic silly notions I had before. 

Oh , btw, these two girls are kind of my ticket to survival and sanity in Paris. We have each others back and they are literally the best part of living in this city. I think we three are very weird and unconventional in our own ways and that kind of makes the bond so much stronger.

Moving on, they were able to pull a trick on me and surprise me with cake, candles and wine. 

Yes, I screamed. Yes, it was kind of emotional. Yes, i felt ecstatic. 

Then I remember we took the bottle of wine and went to the river bank and decided to cheat on assignments with conversations about love, life and choices till morning. Really wasn’t a good idea because the eve of my birthday I had a little party at home, very last minute, people came over, the usuals. 

What I do remember and was probably the second best part about the birthday is when I looked around the room of my small studio apartment with at least 12 people scattered around over the music playing through the speakers, the lingering smell of wine and food in the room and the mellow conversations that people were indulging in at 3 am, I had to grudgingly admit that there were good people in the world. It wasn’t necessary that all these people are close to me or know anything about me. Most don’t. They only see what is shown, only believe what they want to. 

But above all, in this moment where everyone was their real self, vulnerable and honest, where despite what equations might fall in place months from now, or differences and fights that could happen, for that one moment everything was perfect. 

Maybe that is what birthdays are meant to be, maybe that is why we want to be able to celebrate them, so that out of those 364 bad days or unpredictable days you might have, someone out there gives you a whole of 24 hours and that one day that is completely yours. And you should never ever let anyone take that away from you.

Because in the past I have, I have let someone make my day theirs, even if they were doing it for me, and I hate to admit that the taste of such birthdays can linger in your mouth, like the smashing of cream and sponge that leaves a buttery taste and is so impossible to wash down. 

But this birthday, even when the surprise at 12 am made me so overwhelmed because over the flickering candles and being asked to make a wish, he was standing right there asking me to do the same too, but at the same time so were Reme and Nidhi. And these two girls were actually there in person, for better or worse.

 When the day got over, and the 24 hours were coming to an end, I felt safer in the knowledge that finally, turning a year older was beautiful in the most detached manner that I always wanted, where there are people and friends who are only in that moment fuelling your emotions – and that is enough, a thousand times enough.

XOXO,

Written by,

Adhisa Ghosh

30 DAYS OF SPRING

“When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too longAnd you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong

Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows

Lies the seed, that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the rose” – Bette Middler, The Rose.

It has been two months since the last blog post went live. I was away from blogging for two months, not only because of lack of motivation but also because of the demanding nature of the MBA, too many visits and assignments and lack of motivation.
The last sixty odd days of winter was not only  cold and harsh but also was life altering for me at a more spiritual level. There was a part of me that I always kept clinging onto and quite like the snow that refused to melt on my rooftop, I grew more and more stubborn.
But then came the last day of the winter, when people spoke about how spring was around the corner, and I headed out to submit my visa papers for the next phase of my life wondering how even in detesting someone or something we are holding onto the very idea of not letting go and not living entirely.
That day when I submitted my visa documents, I think I submitted a bit more than that.
And finally, this year, when spring came, I started being happy once again, exactly the way I used to be three years back. I started enjoying my solitary times, and I started enjoying my company.  It was a revelation of sorts but the more I spent time with myself, the more I figured out the kind of person I am and the kind of people I want in my life.
Metaphorically, Spring is the season of transformation, where old gives way to new, the snow melts and the flowers bloom, and how glad are you to know that the transformation happens not only on the outside but within you too.
People will tell you how to live your life but no one can live it for you. From living with roommates to living alone, I have figured out the kind of person I want to be and the kind of company I prefer and sometimes being stuck with bad company can also be beneficial towards your development.
All in all, the season ended and began with two versions of myself and I couldn’t be happier.
It is so important to give yourself the time to grow and develop, neglecting that is beyond ridiculous.
Also, spring is the season of the amazing tulips and the flowers that bloom at every nook and corner. After having found my vigour, I decided to go for the Tulip show in Istanbul at the Gülhane Park and man, it was amazing!
Coordinating a bit with the floral theme that was clearly in the air and in my life, I decided to wear a floral patterned maxi dress  with a knit wear shrug, accessorising with the hexagon glasses (back to being my favourite) and the golden hoops (aka 90’s style).
This spring felt so good, so purifying and so cleansing. I was at pure bliss with my inner-self and these 30 days of Spring I enjoyed in Istanbul will be a time I will cherish forever.
Like I said how spring is also a period of transformation, or heralding the new times,  there couldn’t be a better time to share with you guys that  I am starting a new life and a new home next week? Talk about timing.
Stay tuned this time for more blog posts than ever.
Lots of love,
XOXO
PS: Check out my Spring video below!
Shot on iPhone 7 plus
Written by Adhisa Ghosh

ODE TO 2017, HOLIDAY LETTER

Dear Life,

I know we have been upset with each other for a really long time. I know that things haven’t been giving us happiness, even success has been feeling hollow of late. I know i have been unfair in my ways, I haven’t treated you with love or kindness, all i have done is made a big fat pretence. Pretence so good, that everyone believes that things are good, that we are happy, that we are successful, that we have the sun shinning bright on us every day.

On the contrary i know how most of this year has been. I know we have had issues, we have been mistreated, we have been hurt, our egos have been shattered, our confidence lowered, all our hopes, all the love we had, had been bundled in a sack and snatched away from us. I know we were left in darkness, darkness we were grappling with and trying to construct in some positive way to make sense for us. I know each second, each minute, each hour, each day was a constant battle to fight that heaviness off our chest, to not get delusional and to focus on the need of the hour. I know we have battled our inner demons, we sat through some bitter times in the darkness of our room only wishing that the statement “ In the dark there maybe fear but there is also hope” comes true. And i know that the nights came extremely hard on us trying every way to choke us, to rip us off, skin and flesh.

But despite all of that, all the fights, the innumerable break downs and the questionable amount of fat intake to tame the ricocheting hormones and the howls of a broken heart and misplaced sense of trust, look, oh just look how far we have come.

You and I are a strong team, and we can beat all odds together. This is a proof, because we made it. And not even for once did we let go of each other, We held on. We held on good. Even when there was negativity and series of failures shrouding our sense of justice, our hard work and solidarity, we were doubted and frowned upon, asked to correct our ways, yet no one saw the battles we silently won each moment in the battlefield of our lives, when every time we overlooked a negative criticism that could have brought us down, only we know how we never let any element of self doubt or the negative vibes seep into our souls through our cracked portrayal of ourselves. We hid, and we hid well. We remained adamant, we held our ground and we turned around.

I know that even after achieving a lot of success, after many a moment of crowning glory, we never felt that we should stop, we kept moving aggressively. And we never let any joy or any sense of satisfaction seep, we were very hard on ourselves , weren’t we?

Holding ourselves guilty for every little smile, every bit of compliment, every little pressure. We had started to get comfortable with the negative space, with loneliness, in a way that we no longer identified with it, yet a state that we once immensely enjoyed.

We said goodbyes with our hearts and yet something always held us back. We were too attuned to being obsessed with ambition and success, to overshadow the shortcomings of our personal failures in relationships and everything else and you and I know very well how much we have condemned ourselves to an emotional hell hole of a torture for mistakes that weren’t even ours to begin with. Our love was misplaced, we forgot that we have certain duties to ourselves first, we looked through the tinted glasses for way too long.

But today I promise you this, that things are going to change because i am going to be kind and i am going to love you and not punish you for other people’s mistakes. I have been unfair but i cannot kill my shadow. My parents didn’t raise us with a wolf on our chest, howling inside for every small moments of grief. We are over that now, we are done for good. And it is only because today, I choose you.

Yours forever.

Written on April, 2017

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

OF WINE AND THE GIRLS WHO RISK

“Generalising a girl is your first big mistake”.

So, we had this vineyard visit a few weeks back. We visited the Barbare Vineyards, a little outside the city limits of Istanbul. Once having reached, the place for sure took my breath away. Very quiet, echoing a country side vibe, the peace that lets you contemplate and gets you on, a trip with yourself.

We tasted around four to five kinds of wine and to be very honest I do not remember the names,  but I can tell my wines apart in taste and I can tell you that one was a Blush wine and the rest, Red. While warming up to the sunshine, cool breeze and every cliché of a romantic nature, sea view et al, my mind wandered far beyond the Marmara sea.

I was having an epiphany. It happened in a moment where I realised that in today’s world, being a woman who had a mind of her own, had a voice, above all was dominating, was something that was still unacceptable in more terms than one. The acceptance is not something that validates one’s existence, of course, but reflects well on the progress we have made, given we are all products of four billion years of evolution, time we act like it. Almost.

Reflecting on one dialogue by  Miranda Hobbes from Sex and the City , she said at a point when she left her job as a lawyer, ” You know, I’m just realizing, it wasn’t my tone of voice that my boss didn’t like.It was the fact that I had a voice.”

 

 

23 years and later, I realise that although everyone is in some sort of mad rush to progress, it comes to very few men to not generalise a woman. And the moment you face these stereotyped expectations, you know you have to pack your bags and flee. Be it India, Istanbul or any part of the world really, the patriarchal social hierarchy is so deep set and global that without realising and with no fault of our own, we become attuned to notions of generalising.

I remember a time when I was a kid, barely 8 – year old, and I was coming back in the school bus, and I was almost going to punch a boy because he threw my bag down and took my seat. At that point he started crying to my utter astonishment, and said that you are a mean and dominating girl. I laughed. I said, it’s okay kid, i don’t cry.

Years later, when I reflect on that incident, I ask myself why do we teach little girls to be fragile and soft, why do we not tell our girls to be risk takers, bossy and independent. Whoever is told they are dominating should be told they have leadership qualities instead, and whoever is told that you are a risk, take it as a compliment.

I know of so many women who portray the image of vulnerability to massage a man’s ego. It is absolutely redundant, something that also lets one generalise genders, just the way in retrospect, I am doing right now. But what I am also stating are hard facts, the very reason how a #metoo campaign was required to alarm human beings universally that united, honest women were fearless and dangerous. While talking to my brother Nikhil, about such situations, both of us couldn’t disagree that, even when a man says that they like a woman who is confident and all of that, in reality they had rather put their attention on someone who will not argue or put down their viewpoints.

It is funny to think that even today, there exists this mental gap where a man still considers himself to be rather supreme, and continuously generalise women as being weak. It is more amusing when I come across such men, I feel nothing but sorry for them.

And to all the women reading this, I couldn’t help but put out a more clear message  –

“Keep being feisty, and never ever let anyone intimidate you. This world needs more of you women who have a voice and an opinion. People are always afraid of strong girls who breathe fire and yet have a warm heart. Also, never trust anyone so much that you forget to trust your own instincts. Never love anyone else so hard that you forget to love yourself first.

And last but not the least, be proud of that moment when someone says they don’t want to take a risk with you. You represent to them all the sins they would never have the courage to commit.”

PS: The wine really helped.

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Shot on Iphone7plus

Location – Barbare Vineyard

OF LUXURY HOTELS & ISTANBUL

One morning, staring groggily at my breakfast and letting the caffeine hit me so that I finally realise I am awake, I stared aimlessly outside my drawing room window overlooking the Bosphorus Strait. Suddenly, my roommate emitted a shrill ultrasonic sound to maybe announce to the world that Amir Khan was in the city, Istanbul.

Obviously getting excited momentarily, I sauntered lazily to take a shower thinking of the long day of Hospitality seminar I had at the university. So as a part of the class, we were to be taken to two luxury hotels and given a briefing and indulged into the marketing, business and  history of the foundations. What seemed a tad boring initially as it had nothing to do with fashion, soon turned out to be more than I expected. We covered two luxury hotels in the same day, the Fairmont Quasar Istanbul and Soho House Istanbul.

The Fairmont Quasar was the first stop where we met the seminar instructor, Antony Doucet. After being slightly in a different zone initially, post the introductions, which I will admit, Antony’s disclosure of Chanel connections and his obvious knowledge of fashion brands, especially Coco, I was far more alert on any word that left the man’s mouth post the divulgence! Just after that, came the revelation that an Indian actor was staying at the Fairmont, yeah, you don’t even get points on guessing it was Amir Khan.

As fate would have it, while we were there, he had left the premises for some promotional stuff, so after a round of squeals and grunts, we went around taking a tour of the place.

Below is a photo series from the Fairmont Quasar and Soho House and of course what I wore, how I styled my attire and a brief history about both the establishments.

FAIRMONT QUASAR ISTANBUL

Rising over the slopes of the Bosphorus, surveying centuries of history, yet silhouetted against the modern skyline of Istanbul, the Fairmont heritage of distinction and style merges with the city’s historical past and traditions to bring guests an exceptional experience in the heart of one of the world’s most talked about destinations. For guests seeking a true luxury hotel in Istanbul, Fairmont Quasar Istanbul is the ultimate destination, comprising of the traditions of the past and the technological advancements of the future.  It caters to sophisticated travellers with 209 guest rooms, including 25 suites and 40 Fairmont Gold rooms, with additional 64 Fairmont Residences along with a diverse selection of restaurants and bars, also the  luxurious Willow Stream Spa and state-of-the-art gym are the perfect places to relax and revitalize.

SOHO HOUSE ISTANBUL

A exclusive group of private members’ clubs for people working in the creative industries, the brand Houses in London, New York, Berlin, Toronto, West Hollywood, Chicago and Miami. Istanbul is their 13th with some more ambitious projects in the future.

In 1873, Ignazio Corpi, a powerful Genoese shipbuilder in what was then known as the European quarter of Constantinople, commissioned a palatial residence bearing his family’s name. He engaged Italian architect Giacomo Leoni, who set about importing marble from Carrara for the flooring and facings and Piemonte rosewood for the doors and window frames. Famous artists of the day were invited to create the wall paintings depicting Greek mythological scenes in the entrance hall and on the ceilings of the Great Hall. The building took nine years in total to complete. Following Iganzio’s death, his nephews leased the building to the American ambassador, John G.A. Leishman. From 1906, it served as the U.S. embassy and residence, and then the US consulate general from 1937 to 2003. In 2014, Soho House began extensive restoration work on the Palazzo, returning it to its former glory. – From the History of Soho House Istanbul

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Dress and Shrug – Forever 21 India

OF RELATIONSHIPS AND DOPAMINE

Science says relationships are mostly like drug induced reactions of the brain that is in love. For centuries and evolution, the universal problem and equation that human beings have tried to solve is the mystery of romance and relationships. There have been crimes of passion, wars fought for love, glorified love, undying love. This intense physiological and biochemical reactions are all scientifically linked to various hormones and neurotransmitters that our brain releases when triggered, the main one being the reward centre of the brain.

We all are aware of dopamine which is released by the brain during positive experiences like unforgettable dates, flattery, amazing sex and grand romantic gestures. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the pleasure centre of our brains which creates reward circuits, which then generates automatic associations in our brain that link our romantic partners with pleasure and even our survival.

Dr. Helen Fisher discovered that this “frustration-attraction” experience of obstacles in a romantic relationship actually heightens our feelings of love, rather than hindering them. She discusses how the brains of those in adversity-ridden relationships become activated in an eerily similar way to the brains of cocaine addicts.

In other words? Our brains can become masochists, seeking the very people that hurt them.Then there is also oxytocin, named the ‘love’ or ‘cuddle’ hormone.This is the same hormone that bonds mother and child at birth, and it also bonds you with the men that are undeserving of you.

The oxytocin effect may also be stronger for women than for men; according to Susan Kuchinskas, author of the book, The Chemistry of Connection: How the Oxytocin Response Can Help You Find Trust, Intimacy and Love. According to Christopher Bergland, oxytocin, adrenaline and cortisol work together to consolidate and reconsolidate fear-based memories.

We can become addicted to this effect. Fear also releases dopamine, which again feeds those reward circuits in our brain, leaving us longing for that adrenaline rush. Fear and pleasure inevitably become intertwined despite our best efforts to expose and dismantle the seeming irrationality of our behaviour.

When we fall in love, we become obsessive like people with OCD, literally. Since serotonin regulates and stabilises mood, curbing obsessive thinking, you can imagine how low levels of serotonin we have, when we’re romantically involved with someone that can cause our decision-making abilities and judgment to go haywire. Low levels of serotonin also encourage sexual behaviour, so serotonin only makes it more likely that we’ll also be swept away by bonds created by oxytocin and dopamine as well.

Okay why am I talking science about relationships? You must be wondering so if you are in a relationship or going through a bad one, like you already haven’t heard enough.

The bottom line and fact of the matter is that if you dig deeper there is always always a rationality that lies beyond the irrational behaviour and impulses of the brain in love.

Last weekend, I was out at some three pubs with the Erasmus student group here in Istanbul. Everyone was enjoying, there was a good level of intoxication spreading like a wave through out the party, and literally everywhere my eyes went, I saw a pair of lips glued together. Now, of course I had my share of fun too, dancing with boys and engaging in random light banters, but when I sat back and thought about it, I realised how even after countless years of evolution humans across various continents and cultures will always act on their basic instincts. It’s like you are hungry or thirsty, the need to find that thrill and your brain wiring you to seek pleasure that comes with pumping in so much of “feel-good” factors in your system is really something.

Also, from a single girl’s point of view, even in a crowded night club with so many men and women at disposal, and the freedom to have any kind of night you want it to be, how scientific and practical are we when it comes to the concept of love and lust? Do we always act on our basic instincts to serve our purpose of a one night stand or is it simply the design of nature that amidst all this chaos, we might just be searching for the perfect mate. They say, love and lust are two factors that transcends every society in this world, how far have we come in accepting our wilderness within? How long would we deceptively play the hand of fate, on a night of attraction, orgasm and science? Think back, its all really scientific, there is no right or wrong, even at that pub, with total strangers or couples acting out their feelings and hormones, like it or not, no matter how emotionally cold turkey you might credit yourself for, every one is looking to let off steam sometime, in the most desirable manner that evolution has made us.

Ending on a poem by an anonymous Red Indian of Southern Alaska to a missionary in 1896,

“ Fire runs through my body with the pain of loving you,Pain runs through my body with the fires of my love for you,Pain like a boil about to burst with my love for you,Consumed by fire with my love for you,I remember what you said to me,I am thinking of your love for me,I am torn by our love for me,Pain and more pain,Where are you going with my love?I am told you will go from here,I am told you will leave me here,My body is numb with grief,Remember what I said my love,Goodbye my love, Goodbye.”

Dopamine your night away.

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Shot on Iphone7plus

Wardrobe : Dress – Forever 21

Denim Jacket – Latin Quarters

Accessories from Accessorize India

Makeup – NYX Amethyst and L’Oreal Gold Palette

OF CHOICES AND PASSION

Relationships.

Akshita, Karishma, Tshepiso and me decided that since one of our classes got done real early we would go and chill at some cafe near university. There are plenty nearby so we decided to go into one where Akshita and me have visited before.

Also one of our many reasons to go back is because of this really cute and shy boy who cannot communicate in English but is always standing and blushing. Pretty boys make for a stress free environment post lectures that makes you sleep in your head.

As we sat on the table and placed our orders we realised we were unwinding all together for the first time. Annisa, the other classmate of ours ran home because she stayed quite far, but apart from that it left the four of us to steer conversations at any angles possible.

I knew because the Indian majority was heavy here, we had probably end up talking about food, politics and general things. And that did happen, we spoke about food, spices, politics, saying how our country as well as South Africa is still developing and it will be a long time for it to get there. And then I chipped in saying the clichéd that no country is perfect and we require perseverance and patience for things to get better in time. Apart from that, I also feel how its our generation who needs to step in and change the game instead of blaming the government. The conversations steered after a while to parents and their individualistic expectations.

Tshepiso was given a lot of knowledge as to how Indian parents are always forcing their kids to get into white collared jobs, like be a Engineer, Doctor or Lawyer. There was this popular opinion that Indian parents channelise their inner failures through their offsprings, so that the next generation can make it to where they couldn’t. Knowledge is limited and the possibility of further career options and progress is not given out. The kids back in the country have to face a lot of pressure because of the burgeoning generation gap that withholds knowledge of other career outcomes.

Sitting amidst a lawyer, engineer graduate and a finance professional with many years of experience, I realised how wonderful these girls were and how every one had their stories and chapters in their struggles of getting here and doing what they were passionate about.

Passion. At the end of the day that is really something that defines our existence and our mood. I thought about my parents and how little they have ever forced me to make any decisions when it came to my life about my career or education. Was i lucky? Fortunate? Without a doubt. I never knew pressure from family to go in a particular direction. Getting a 95% in my ICSE boards, my IIT graduate dads ideal reaction would have been to ask me to follow in his footsteps. He never did. He knew that wasn’t my strength and I wouldn’t be happy. He is a genius but I am not.

I chose Humanities and I was told I was making a bad decision by some self-proclaimed well wishers, but I chose to ignore, something I now realise I know how to do quite well. After Humanities and having a passion for journalism and working with Times of India since I was 16, I decided to venture into fashion communication to combine the two greatest passion of my life, fashion and words.

Not once, was my decision questioned or I was asked to get a second opinion. My dad asked me probably only two things – Would I be independent and have a steady job and most importantly would I be passionate and happy at the end of the day?

I think there is nothing in this world that makes me happy today realising that my parents have always given me the ultimate freedom of making my own decisions and choices. Which also meant I got to make my own mistakes, and there were plenty of them, but what was even better is that I learnt from all my mistakes, slowly and surely.

I know now that choices are very independent of your surroundings and family. I mean, look at the courage that these girls possess that despite coming from different backgrounds they chose to follow their passion and make it here, in this moment, bonding over Sheesha and being beautiful in their vulnerability. How refreshing is honesty and admitting that yes I had to fight for something?

Things don’t come easy in life and not everything is meant to be. If there is anything that I am extremely in love with at this point of time and I can’t imagine I would survive without is my passion. My passion spells out my work, my blogging, my MBA journey that I decided to continue because 4 years of design degree is not enough and learning never stops. I think sometimes, I am so passionate about my career and the prospects of it that I can hardly seem to get in another aspect of my life into importance.

Relationships? Well. I have one with myself currently, and I am not compromising on that for sure.

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Shot on Iphone7plus

OF NEW BEGINNINGS

“And suddenly you know, it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

Fresh starts. Beginnings. The first day. Orientation. New life.

I think there is a little part inside us that always craves for hope, to start anew. So, I have been saying how I am settled in Istanbul now for my MBA in Luxury Brand Management at IFA Paris, studying at the Kadir Has University here. I will be here for six months before moving onto Paris for a year as a part of the course program.

I have had a little problem to figure my way around initially but since the time I have had Akshita, my classmate and roommate from Bangalore, move in with me here, I have had some good company and its much easier to figure things out when you have someone at your end. Even getting lost can be okay sometimes as long as you are not alone.

So, I have only had one day of class so far which was very interesting. I always like when I am well prepared and I am able to answer any questions thrown at me, knowing that I am very competitive and I struck a good chord with my Professor Catherine then and there. We spoke a lot about the cult of emerging luxury markets and details about the same, while realising the whole time that I had really studied a lot as a graduation student back in Symbiosis when we had Fashion Brand Management classes. I aced it.

Moving on, we had our orientation yesterday, which was very interesting. We are a small bunch of students here who chose the Istanbul program, rest are in Shanghai and Paris at the moment so we obviously see everyone and become an entire batch when we are in Paris next year.  After the introductions and going through the technicalities and know-hows of college life and how it would be for the next six months, our coordinator decided to take us out for welcome drinks.

We took a bus near Taksim , a really popular tourist district here which is both near to where I live and the university. After a brisk walk, we came in front of the Galata towers which is extremely famous and a must see. Right opposite the Galata Towers is a place called Sensus Wine Boutique. Needless to mention, that it was a beautiful aesthetic place and I felt like I had walked into one of those modernised wine cellars where vintage meets modernity.

What can I say, it seemed like the perfect marriage of the past and the present. Small tables with candles, the aroma of wine and cheese, and a piano where live music would soon take over, it was a very nostalgic and cozy place, it transported me to a mood which I would have honestly enjoyed sitting alone with my glass of some really good wine. I think I have this problem where I need to put up a social exterior to talk to people whereas I would be honestly enjoying the voice of the old man singing Roberta Flack’s Killing me Softly on the piano and having my cheese and just enjoy my company. Now, I know that would make me antisocial and to a certain extent I feel I am but I have been doing well in keeping up the tempo of socializing.

There are three of us from India, one from Indonesia and one from South Africa. We all come from diverse backgrounds, and experiences but while sitting at the table with our glasses, all we were reminiscing majorly about was home, excluding me. Reflecting on the conversation I think home for me are just my parents who I carry in my heart no matter where I would live.

The art of detachment is crucial and so is the habit of adaptation. Missing my rice and fish curry is an obvious but I am also realising learning and mixing with a culture is as important as knowing your roots. You will always miss your roots because that is where you were nurtured but as you grow older, you have to start accepting that your roots are something you carry with you everywhere you go. Change is the only constant and at every moment you are a different person showing certain aspects of your personality, trying to fit in. At the table, looking around Akshita, Karishma, Tshepiso and Ismail, I couldn’t help but wonder about how little we had in common when it came to everyone’s opinions but how sometimes we still tend to be together despite our differences. I realise that people miss home and they try to make a home out of every place they go to. But there are certain aspects about humanity and human beings that are so universal, be it India, Istanbul or South Africa, human emotions are a constant.

In this race and chase of trying to establish our identities, starting fresh and new beginnings, what if we realise it is not the fresh start that matters at all? What if men will always have their biased opinions irrespective of changes and modernisation and we will always be stereotyped as women have been for years ? I think there are these characteristics that I see in men here too in Istanbul, the point of self-glorification and the need to always prove their mettle because of their respective gender is real.

So ultimately, roots are not connected to where you belong to, you see your real roots are what you have been formed into, how you have moulded yourself and can you really break free from the patriarchal mindsets that are so prevalent universally? We play along, sure, but when out of everyone at the table you take a moment back and observe, you understand in people’s reactions and stories who they really are, it gives away more than you can imagine. You can always project an illusion of being social but you know it’s only an illusion because in your head, you are reading everyone and understanding how similar we all are at the end of the day, despite the differences.

Also, the bartenders were very cute. I got a lot of pretty smiles and come again next time statements and well we know there are always next times, but should we wait and see how this story pans out for the next six months?

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Shot on Iphone7plus

IT HAS BEEN 20 DAYS

“And in the end, we were all just humans, drunk on the idea that love, only love, could heal our brokenness.”

― Christopher Poindexter, Naked Human

It has been 20 days since I left home. It has been twenty days since I realised a few things and understood that every place can get a little lonely sometimes. It has been twenty days since I have started to settle in after moving quite a bit.

From India, to a hotel, to a home in the heart of Istanbul to a new house overlooking the Bosphorus Strait, it has been a whirlwind twenty days. It has been twenty days of learning about people, what distance does to the heart and who all end up being important. Its twenty days of shifting in, settling in, making strangers out of friends and friends out of strangers.

It has been twenty days of figuring out roads, language, signs, learning how to salvage some meals, and handle relations. It has been twenty days of understanding people for whom distance is not a factor and some relations are always meant to stay.It has been twenty days of understanding the value of family and how much we sometime take them for granted because we always have it so easy.

It has been twenty days since the last time I thought about the person I once loved, even though I missed him every minute of every day, but it is also the realisation that sometimes you can miss someone you love without being loved back and it is okay. Bad relationships are as important in life as good relationships. And sometimes, the people you love the most hurt you the most and you have to come to peace with it and remember that forgiveness is not for the weak.

You have to train your heart like a lion, you have to fight and you have to lose sometimes too to understand what a win feels like. And most importantly, you have to be strong to learn to let go because sometimes, that almost kills you but in the process when you look back on that moment, you will thank yourself for choosing yourself over everything.

I have been meeting a lot of strangers on the road when i ask them for some help or directions even when Google fails, and I can assure you that not everyone is bad, not all people are monsters and not everyone will take advantage of you.

I remember a few days back, it was a very hot summer afternoon. In Istanbul, most part of the old city does not have fans or lifts. So after having adjusted to climbing six floors everyday because the view was to kill for, I still couldn’t adjust to the absence of fans. It was one of the hottest days in the city, and after having grudgingly requested for a standing fan, I decided to just go out and get one for myself.

I left the house in the morning, after having crossed a few shops I asked a couple of old people by showing them a photo of the fan i wanted to buy and translating on Google as to where I could buy one. After some cacophony of discussions and directions pointed out, I was offered to be taken by a slightly older gentleman. He seemed to be of a gentle disposition, so clutching on to my bag and understanding that he meant to take me to his friends electronic shop down the road, I embarked on the journey.

What did I do here? I had to put out my faith and trust on the universe, I just had to hold onto the belief that nothing wrong was going to happen and I was having a good start to a day with strangers being kind. And boy was i right! Not only did the fine old fellow help me get a fan, he also got it for me at a discount realising that I was a student. After that he dropped me right at my building which was a few blocks away, and I carried the fan on my shoulders all the way to the sixth floor.

It was a long flight of stairs but the thought that humanity still existed amidst all our problems in life, amidst all the broken dreams, failed promises and love gone wrong, that sometimes people help you without any motive, that is something that takes a while for us to accept.

Isn’t life funny where we are always thinking first of the negative situations that can arise or what can go wrong? We are focusing so much on the stories that didn’t work out and the kiss that wasn’t good, or the shoe that broke, that against all our best efforts, we don’t focus for one second on the possibility that if we did put out good thoughts and positivity, things might turn out not to be that disappointing.

In this constant battle of faith and doubt we let doubt win too often, forgetting that doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.

So, let go. Sometimes, the relationships that are meant to stay and thrive will do so despite distances and sometimes, when people want to leave your life, remember that their chapter in your book was a story that had to come to an end some or the other time.

It has been twenty days of a little more growing up as a 23-year-old adult. It has been twenty days of letting faith win over constant doubts and distance. It has just been twenty days.

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Shot on iPhone 7 plus