Saturday, January 26, 2013


Last week I had a mental meltdown. The night before, I got locked out of my apartment. I had my keys, but the door was jammed and wouldn't open. I called my landlord, who was indifferent. He couldn't be bothered by it, saying that I should just jiggle the key or find someone local to fix it. I am a hassle-free tenant, I never call him about problems. So if I'm asking for help now, shouldn't he assume it's a real problem? Plus I had a flight to catch the day after, so I needed to get into my house asap. Eventually he agreed to send a locksmith over the next day to have a look.

The next morning I went to the office early because we were launching an email campaign and had to get it ready on time. Roshni and I were doing final tweaking when I got a call from the landlord saying a locksmith was coming to the apartment. I couldn't be there, but MAM had a key so could the man just grab the key from upstairs? No, the man will be confused so better to have Madhu bring the key down. Odd request, but I called Madhu to ask him to help out. He always picks up his phone, but this morning he didn't. I called Meghna, but she also didn't pick up. I called both again, still nothing. Madhu texts he's in a meeting, but Meghna was home to give the key. But she typically is not near her phone because she's taking care of Reva.

Not able to get a hold of her, I thought about quickly leaving the office to meet the locksmith. Unfortunately there was a rickshaw driver strike that day so no driver was willing to take me. Then I tried calling Mom to see if she could go instead, but she wasn't home and also wasn't picking up her phone. I called the landlord back to say I couldn't get a rickshaw. He said there isn't a strike, there should be no problem getting a ride. So now he was calling me a liar. I told him to ask the locksith to get the key from Meghna upstairs, it's a simple thing to explain.

Meanwhile we're scrambling to get the email campaign ready. I get another call from landlord saying that the locksmith had gone up to get the key, but Meghna didn't give it to him, not knowing who he was. So the locksmith is now gone and I should not waste the landlord's time and to figure it out on my own.

This is where I lost it. All of the things that went wrong, combined with the fact that had even one of the series of things gone my way (Meghna picking up, Mom picking up, no rickshaw strike, the landlord caring, the locksmith calling before he took off, etc.), the worse case scenario would have been avoided. That with the fact that the landlord was being a jerk, basically calling me a liar, giving me a hard time for something that was his responsibility, the time-sensitive work at the office, the general frustration of being locked out of your place for a reason beyond your control, all of it combined made me totally flip out. I yelled at the landlord and stomped around my office, feeling pissed and helpless and dejected.

Eventually things calmed down. Later that day the door got fixed, the office work got done on time, and I later caught my flight. That same day I went to an office next door to ours, which belonged to an Uncle who ran an architecture firm. I had heard from Narendra that the Uncle's eldest son had recently passed away from an unexpected heart attack. I went up to pay my respects. Uncle was in his cabin with his younger son, who had come from Australia. I shook hands with both and sat in silence with them for a while. Both of their faces were dominated by an unmistakable striking look of utter shock. They were both looking at a reality that they couldn't fathom or accept. We talked a bit about nothing at all. I still remember Uncle vividly, whose eyes and mouth were painted thick with grief, sketching idly on a white paper with a black pencil as we sat in silence.

Meltdowns don't do anyone any good. They are a personal failure; all the time I invest in being a mentally resilient person are wasted if I can't be balanced when put to the test. Giving in to meltdowns tie deeper and tighter mental knots and set a precedent for future meltdowns. They also show a lack of perspective. Here I was getting bent out of shape over an incident that will be inconsequential in a few days time. It's a drop in the ocean of my life experience. Meanwhile there are much bigger and deeper challenges that I and others face. And finally meltdowns plant seeds of suffering in others around you.

What's the upside?

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