Mumbaiwale: Making sense of life in a metro
If you’ve lived in Mumbai long enough you’ll know that there’s more than one way to solve a problem. I’ve boarded a Churchgate-bound train at Marine Lines to be assured of a seat when it hurtles back towards Borivli at rush hour. I knew someone who’d routinely dial her designer husband, say “Hello, Inspector Minal?” and have him scold her rickshaw driver in Marathi for refusing to ply. I know of hawkers who formed a WhatsApp group to intimate everyone about an approaching municipal vehicle. And I’ve seen plenty of potted plants thriving under dripping balcony ACs.
Other urban problems are harder to solve. I’ve seen friends, colleagues and seemingly strong individuals succumb to the gut-wrenching loneliness that comes from living away from loved ones. I know people who are exhausted from overextending themselves in this city of opportunity. I’ve worried myself so silly over a glut of small decisions, that I’ve not had the energy to work through big ones. And I’ve been guilty of wondering where the day went, after yet another evening of chasing deadlines.
Some help, at least, is at hand. A new initiative, Mind It, gets experts in the fields of exercise, psychotherapy, nutrition, alternative healing and mental health to join forces to address life’s challenges better. Loneliness, for instance, is tackled as a symptom, stemming from a deeper struggle with communication and losing contact with oneself. The possible solutions? Diversifying your social portfolio and rebuilding circles of friends to replace the networks you’ve left behind, says healer and life coach Chetna Chakravarty. And identifying your interests independent of peers and colleagues so you can seek out people with similar values, suggest Eefa Shroff, a fitness chef, nutritionist and body-mind coach, and psychotherapist Alaokika Bharwani.
There are new ways to tackle the over-extending too. Sarah Jane Dias, an actress and mental health activist, offers her own experiences of taking on too much and struggling to keep up. “I’d be dissatisfied when I wasn’t achieving the right recognition and satisfaction from the work and relationships and end up not having enough time for myself,” she says. The collective offers tips on building skills to set boundaries, so you can give more of yourself to people and tasks that matter. They also have quick tests (questions you can ask yourself) to help determine if you can and will achieve what you intend when you take on a new responsibility.
Perhaps the most insidious attack on our lives is the sheer pressure from making small choices. Online payment options. Snacks or small meals? Paper or plastic? Ola or Uber? Is the brand logo too big or too small? Do you want fries with that? Are you overdressed for after-work cocktails? Bharwani’s suggestion is to remind yourself that “too much analysis leads to paralysis”. Overthinking can pile up enough to trigger anxiety and irritability. The team offers advice on how to pick which ones carry needless weight, which choices are a waste of time either way, and how to mentally declutter. “Remember the joy of decision making, and to stand still and ask what you really want,” says Dias.
Their inaugural event, at The A, in Lower Parel this evening, is sold out. But the team also operates online.
Find them on Instagram @eefa_shroff, @alaokika_psychotherapist, @sarahjanedias and @positivityangel and follow them for live advice, new modules and updates. Think of it as four ways to solve a problem.