Fading memories

15 May

Memories, they curl away. Eventually. Like the corners of coffee-stained pages from an old notebook. Shut tight and laden with tales, pressed between the covers. Heavy, ready to wilt, saddled with magic and dreams, like a belly full of secrets still untold.

Words. And memories. Of times past. They sit in neat little rows, like freshly bloomed flowers. Sandwiched, an inky transition between then and now. And in that space between, is me. Like a rock stuck in a brook. Precariously balanced, delicately negotiating between what was, what is, and what will be. Holding on to what footing my round egdes can catch, weighing out the choices, plucking moments like undoing those annoying folded doggy-eared pages. I fix them, straighten them, press them out so they can breathe a little. Unfurl. Uncurl. Let the air pass along the crease, only to clamp them shut again. Return them to their spot between then and now. Squeezed tight like the whitening knuckles on my fist. They slip into the gaps and fill out.

I pick another one. Open it up, and watch the words, like the stains of memories, a record of moments set adrift. They dance out, standing up like little girls doing ballet. Toes pointed, bodies taut, teetering along in dotted rows down a brittle, fragile, crust page thats aged over time. They make their way to the edge, balancing gracefully, gently moving closer to freedom. Only to curl away, turn the corner, and disappear.

This time, for good.  

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14 May

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Let’s begin with peace

1 May

It’s been three days of listening to the incessant churn of the sea. That necessary hum that pretty soon blends into the background, just enough not to intrude but always loud enough so you don’t forget where you are. And why you’re feeling so relaxed. 

It’s been three days of waking up before the crack of dawn (yep, VC made me do it) to catch the sunrise. 

It’s been three days of extra long days (because, refer point above) of unending, extreme relaxation. Punctuated only be breaks to drink, eat and sleep. All my time has been spent mostly horizontally, or semi-horizontally. Reading. Chatting with VC. Giggling. Watching. Taking it all in. 

It’s been three days of being drunk on relaxation and waking up with a shadow of a hangover. From feeling very relaxed, of course. Not too shabby a start to year 32, I’d say. 

Maybe it’s the holiday glow, or maybe I’m just old, but when I look back at the post from last year, all I feel is a tremendous sense of calm. I can see just what has changed from then to now. And yet, I know exactly what hasn’t

 
Part of me was a little worried we aren’t getting out and roaming around enough. That we’re missing the sights and the tourists spots. But I quickly realised that’s not who we are. We exhausted our sight seeing enthusiasm on day one.  Our holidays always boil down to this kind of relaxation. And that’s okay

  
To begin the year in peace — with my phone out of reach from most, sitting on the balcony facing the sea, watching the sun creep out from behind the hills, chai in one hand and my book in the other, hungrily reading away, doing absolutely nothing else. This is a lot more than I could ask for. 

Snapshots and over sharing 

29 Apr

The last time we went on a big fat holiday it was because I was worn out and saddened by what my work had become. I used the time to switch off, decompress and de-wire. I wasnt on Facebook, hadn’t been for two years before, and I hadn’t discovered Instagram. That mini-break eventually became the serendipitous realisation that what I really needed was a life that I didn’t want to constantly escape. A life that didn’t make me desperately crave a holiday. By the end if the holiday I had found what I was looking for.  The much needed courage to take a sabbatical from work even though it seemed like the craziest, scariest thing to do at the time. 

This time around things are very different. When we planned this one, part of me did it because I suddenly realised one day, that OMG-it’s-been-three-years-since we last took a break. And part of me did it because I wanted VC to take a real, solid break. I, frankly, don’t deserve this holiday. And going by the levels of sloth and luxury that are panning out as we go, this feeling only gets stronger. My regular life though busy and hectic as it is, is still very simple and I like it that way because it is fulfilling. It has fashioned itself so simply that when I want to take a break just driving out about ten minutes to hit rolling fields, catching a drink on a beach nearby or just spending a Sunday cooking suffice. Actually not just suffice, it totally hits the spot. I don’t know when or how it happened but when I did the math, I realised that as someone who felt the itch to go somewhere once a month, I may have turned over an all new leaf. 

This time the feeling of wanting to escape life is missing. I am happy to be away from my routine but that’s about it. It was meant to be a gadget-free holiday. I ditched my laptop at home like I always do, but armed my ipad with a couple of books. When I turned my phone off on boarding the flight at Bangalore I was prepared to be off the grid completely. I thought I’d perhaps not be the over-sharing picture-taking tourist for a change. 

BUT. Sri Lanka has put a massive spoke in all that yougaiizzzz.

 
With it’s strawberry blushing sunsets. Thick, acrylic skies that make you question science. Happy, cheerful people who you want to grab and hug for no reason at all. Beautifully clean, quaint and undiscovered corners. Pristine colonial sights that make you want to have chicken sandwiches and tea. With it’s gentle marrying of religious serenity and transactional tourism. It’s incredible capacity to make me want to hang on to every memory in tedious detail. It’s ethereal moments that catch me off guard. With it’s colours that pop. And it’s charm that beguiles even the cautious travellers that we are.  

 
The last time I was on a big, fat holiday I turned off my phone and escaped life. I had nowhere to share my pictures and I didn’t care to either. My holiday was all mine and I wanted to soak myself in it completely. 

This time it’s so different. Sri Lanka is too pretty not to be photographed. I’ve turned my phone off, but I can’t stop taking pictures. I’ve come so far away from home, but I haven’t escaped. I’m having an impossibly good time but I want to share snapshots of it all with you. Maybe it’s because all those lets-get-back-home-and-write-all-about-it moments never materialise. So instant over sharing makes sense. 

V said this morning, sometimes you’re making memories, sometimes you’re living the life you’d envisioned already. Maybe this is one of those few times that it’s possible to do both. At once. 

  
    

Another sunset and some puppy love

28 Apr

Our original plan was to pass through Kandy without spending too much time in the hill town itself. It reminded me too much of Ooty. A cleaner version of Ooty no less, but with that same crowded, busy, commercial energy. We wanted to skip it entirely and proceed further onward to Sigiriya or Dambulla, to something of historic or geographic significance. But when our hosts at Colombo insisted we spend some time in Kandy we gave it a thought, imagining that Sri Lankans can’t possibly go wrong with something so basic. 

A whole day of roaming around Kandy I was convinced we wouldn’t have missed much if we had skipped it and moved on as originally planned. But I’m on holiday with a geek whose sole mission is to find the next best location with a dramatic view (preferably with a fantastic foreground). So with optimism brimming we wandered around some more. Sipping chai in a mountain view cafe called Slightly Chilled we spotted the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha statue atop the hill in the distance, across the lake we had just walked around.

Let’s go there, my geek said. And because end of day redemption with sunsets throwing promising parting shots, leaving us breathless, seems to be a thing with us, I agreed.

The confidence with which the tuktuk guys agree to navigate the steep hill slopes makes you want to believe them with all your heart. But a look around shakes that confidence just as easily. A swift Sindhi-style negotiation later, we put our faith in a newly befriended tuktuk walla and began a rather winding ride up, that seriously made me reconsider my estimations of what a mere auto rickshaw is capable of. 

Finally on top, at the feet of the Big Buddha, all 88 feet of it, with splendid views of Kandy all around I was overwhelmed. How does one take it all in? So many sights, so much pretty light, such beautifully oversaturated colours, stark puffy clouds dense and overpowering. And the mighty Buddha seated in such serenity. 
And because we’re as different as chalk and cheese, I wanted to take big gulps of it all. Hurried, greedy, big gulps to get it all, and as much of it as I could. While of course VC was more interested in the little things. 

  
A bush with bendy flowery swaying gently in the wind, squinting at the sky to see if the clouds were moving fast enough to set up for a time lapse, rows of prayer flags that seemed to go on for miles — all the little nuances that in my haste, I had missed completely.

But I digress. Massively

The point of this post was to tell you about end of day redemption. Which to me came in the form of this little critter.  

 
Little, flea ridden, skinny girl who seemed more interested in me than I was in her. At first. 

Surprisingly, she showed zero signs of fear at my feet stomping and vehement shoo-shooing, as she playfully yapped at my ankles and chases after me, right at my heels, completely oblivious to the big moves I was making to get away from her. 
It became evident that  sign language and random noises were not going to work. So I had a chat with her. Girl to girl. 

  

And she stood around listening intently. Nothing perturbed her. Oddly unafraid of being admonished, she placed her fuzzy chin on my knees looking at me with goop-filled puppy dog eyes that said But why won’t you just play with me?

She seemed determined to make friends with me. Circling me, following me and trying endlessly to get to know me. Looking and behaving uncannily like the black puppy we lost last year. 

Maybe it is her, VC said, looking away from the sunset that had made his day. And that, right there, my day too, was made. 

Skies that blush

27 Apr

We made our way to Galle Face, quite unsure of what to expect. A scene of picnicing families bouncing around, playing ball, flying kites welcomed us. 

Okay, this is Colombo’s version of Miramar I said to VC immediately. But it was pretty nonetheless. 

Food hawkers selling prawn vadas, fried crabs and cotton candy lined the shorefront. A bubblemaker ran his ping-pong-ball-racket-sized ring through a wide dish full of soapy water. Waving his arms in giant arcs through the air, he created massive, wispy rainbow tinged bubbles into the sky. Setting them free like pretty butterflies kissing the sky. Several families flew kites the size of large birds. Kites as pretty as large birds too. There were the usual share of lovey-dovey couples indulging in the requisite amount if PDA that is expected of any sea-facing piece of land.

It seems so normal to have smoochy couples lost to the world, eyes locked, fingers running through eachothers hair, so totally unperturbed by the cackle of picnicing families, squawky children running helter skelter, and the constant yellong of hawkers trying so hard to get your attention. 

Nothing we hadn’t seen before, I thought. So I parked my ass down as VC set up his tripod to make the best use of catching the sunset at that point of time. Twenty minutes later, one timelapse done, we decided we’d had enough. I dusted my bum and began to walk away. 

My phone has made me so trigger happy, I wander off easily, much to VC’s annoyance. But its much easier for me to go away clicking pictures of obscure things like feathers fluttering by, or a couple perfectly framed against a glistening horizon, while VC packs away his tripod, changes lenses on his camera and packs it all back into his bag. While also missing three other wonderful things I’d hae seen and possibly managed to take pictures off. 

The sky was gleaming, that perfect golden hour. My favourite time of day, especially if its by the sea. The sun looked like it was really close to setting, the crowds showed no signs of abating and the hawkers only grew more excited snd noisy. We decided to call it a day and go away for a drink. 

Briefly pausing from looking into our phones to find a place, I turned around one last time. To see this.  

In an instant, the sky was blushing, with billowy dark clouds rushing in. 

We should stay a while longer, I said. 

So we did. Wandering down closer to the shore. Im so glad we did. Because it progressed to this  

And then this 

And we really couldn’t have had a better end to day one than a spectacularly, classic Galle Face sunset. 

Sea side sunsets are probably the most mundane thing where we come from. And I dont know how I dont tire of it. As I sat on the steps watching the skies blush, painting the couds in wide swathes of insane, unreal colour, I felt small. Incredibly small. 

If there is anything more humbling than gazing out at a mighty, roaring ocean, it is the dance and drama that is a breathtakingly beautiful sunset.

Time-lapse

6 Apr

There’s a shit ton of stuff happening. Life has been more on than off, moving full steam ahead since January. So much has changed since I turned the corner of 2014, and stepped into 2015. The obligatory recap lies half-written, unfinished. Its am ambitious 3-part post. Several time, I’ve come here to write — to finish the unfinished posts, to talk about something that’s happened or is going on, to share links to my work that’s getting published elsewhere, to talk about the many issues that keep surfacing around me. There has been a lot to say, and yet, I have been completely incapable of saying it. This has happened before, so the feeling of words being bottled up inside is not a new one, but what is new is the feeling of being completely unperturbed by my own silence. This time, I haven’t been worked up about infrequent posting, I haven’t forced myself to open up a window and sit down to write, not getting up until the post is done. This time around I’ve accepted the silence, as a much-needed one. C’est la vie, and all that.

With so much going on outside of this blog, with my work having picked up pace like it hasn’t in a long time, I feel like I’m a bit lost for words. I deplete every last bit of it churning out my gigs one after another. I have enough time and repose only to read a little (but never finish a book), manage my chores (but feel increasingly like they’re becoming a burden on my time), cook my meals (and feel glad for that chore, as the only respite from being glued to my desk and laptop), peel myself away for my evening workouts (and realise no matter what kind of busy times come and go, I will be so hard-pressed to give these up). And before I know it the day is done.

Driving around to reach serene destinations.

Driving around to reach serene destinations.

Hurried work dates, fueled by cold coffee.

Hurried work dates, fueled by cold coffee.

Being a lunatic for exercise, even a lunar-eclipse didn't stop me.

Being a lunatic for exercise, even a lunar-eclipse didn’t stop me.

The only pause in the day -- quiet dinners.

The only pause in the day — quiet dinners.

Days bleed into nights, nights crawl into the new days — my idea of time is a slithering, slippery being I’m constantly trying to hold in the palm of my hand. But its also being reduced to a series of happenings, punctuated by driving long distances, ticking things off my to-do list, and nights of much needed rest. The weekends come and go in a blur of busy-ness and happy activities, and most times I’m torn between cutting back and doing nothing to enjoy the peace and quiet, and making the most of the 2 days of freedom that come at the end of 5 days of hard work.

Choices, choices.

But today, I felt like writing. Its the first Monday in many, many weeks that I don’t have any demands on my time, no deadline looming over my head, and no pressures of having committed to things I am struggling to deliver.

I’m off to Delhi in a couple of hours. So I spent my morning leisurely packing, cleaning out the fridge, setting my kitchen back in order one last time before I leave it to the hugsbands antics for a whole week. I hopped over to the neighbours to have a mid-day chai and chit-chat — something I haven’t done in absolute aeons. And I’m going to make myself some parathas to eat before I’m on my way.

I was a bit apprehensive about taking a week off from my routine here. Does that happen to you? Ever get so absorbed and immersed into the flow of things, that even when it’s making you drag your feet to keep moving, you’re unwilling and apprehensive to break the flow momentarily? But as I went to sleep last night, ticking off in my head a checklist of things I needed to do before packing up, I slipped into a semi-excited-semi-relaxed acceptance of the week ahead. It marks a new beginning I have stretched myself beyond my means to move towards. I am grateful, and want to make the most of it. As for feeling disconcerted about leaving the cocoon of my home and the sanctuary that is my desk, I think that was an unsubstantiated fleeting emotion, and I felt it flutter away and pop like a bubble in my head last night. I sank into a calm settledness that I haven’t felt in a while. And suddenly the opportunity to be away for a week seems like the best thing to have happened in a while.

For the first time in forever, time feels like it’s slowing down.

I’m going to savour it. Doing some of the things I constantly feel cheating of, thanks to my life here. I’ve loaded up on the books, looked up places to wander to, contacted friends I have missed meeting on earlier trips to Delhi. Yep, I’m ready. Let’s do this, Delhi.

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