They come entangled with a
pretty monsoon mess.
Slowly, but surely, I feel myself inching towards saturation with life in Goa. Every day brings with it a new challenge. The internet one day, cellphone network another, perennially useless roads, deteriorating power supply — with alarmingly large amounts of my daily time being spent fixing things. Dealing with service centres, talking to customer care, trying to understand the idiots who drive around this town. Every day, I find myself tired, exhausted and craving a little order. Where things just work. And I can focus on being productive, and less on trying to make everything work so I can be productive.
A large part of this has to do with the changes I’ve brought on for myself, really. For weeks and months, the sound of a sabbatical coming to a close has bubbled beneath the surface. A gentle murmur, never clamouring above the din. But steady, present and always making itself heard has followed me around. I’ve listened and steered along, doing the best I can to address it, feed it, satisfy it. It’s actually worked. And after what feels like aeons, I’m finally feeling back in the groove of the work thing. I’m almost afraid to say it, but I’ve been on a roll. Working longer days than I did when I was employed, having publications come back to me asking for work, getting closer to knowing my potential and the value of my words. And all that could be 3x more if I didn’t have to deal with so much staggering inefficiency on a daily basis.
And that. Is finally getting to me.
Goa blues, they come. I’m increasingly frustrated with the infrastructure, constant chaos and just how difficult it is to be a work-from-home person out here. Every other day I’ve caught myself wondered how long I’m going to be able to sustain this before I decide I’ve had enough. Several times a week, I imagine what life might be outside of Goa. Nebulous questions that spell out w-h-a-t-n-e-x-t when I sit down and patiently disentangle them, loom large and heavy like tantalising gray monsoon clouds that refuse to burst.
And yet for every few days that I brush aside mundane irritants, grit my teeth and plod on, a day like this comes along and wipes that slate clean, like some kind of natural re-boot.
And some days when I’m wandering higher, in places I rarely go, I look out and realise just how much of this green, green place I have yet to explore. I don’t know how much longer this will remain – how long will green patches hold off?
Goa blues, they come.
Already large chunks are making way for concrete dreams and an altered skyline. How long before we paint the town a dirty shade of grey? How long before we wipe down all evidence of character, history and a time gone by? How long before I decide I must up and go?
I’m here now and while the going may not always be good, the internet is mostly shit and my work takes 3 times as long as it really should, I remind myself that I still have the view.
Goa, you’re a frustrating, annoying thing. I do love you, but you’ve got to get your shit together, man.
The father turns 61 today, but he still thinks, believes and totally behaves like he’s my age. Amma had already told me he’s had a sleepless night and apparently he has a few of those every week now.
“He’s getting old!” we giggled.
When I called him to wish him a while later, I teased him about beginning his senior citizen years with trademark sleep deprivation, but he would have none of it. He quickly changed topics, segued into telling me a tale about his most recent trip to a piece of land he’s bought in the middle of a forest by a river. Solo, of course, as most of these trips end up being. He decides to go, he takes off, and that’s that. Although he is always happy to take those willing along on all his journeys, literal and figuratively speaking, he is not one to sit around waiting.
Said piece of land is the latest project in his life. Talking about it makes him sound like a little boy with a new toy. Off he goes every few weeks, to check on things, meet people who can help with the project, do a little research and most of the time I think its just his excuse to catch a break. The excitement in telling me he ventured off on a new track, taking a detour from the highway, entering a forest and approaching the plot of land from “another side”, only to discover that he had landed smack in front of his little piece of land, just on the opposite riverbank, was palpable. The glee in telling me he can now get to his future home by boat was infectious and I chuckled, because it reminded me of so many instances of this kind of happiness, unbridled joy at the simplest things, that I’ve seen in his eyes, so many times before. His cheeks get shiny from smiling, his eyes sparkle with a naughty glimmer and I can immediately feel the wheels of an idea-just-struck churn away wildly inside his head. It’s what happens when he has come upon a plan, worked it out and done it all himself.
Of all the things I’ve appreciated in my father, it is this ability to be happy all on your own. No need for company, hectic plans, large groups or elaborate and fancy preparations. He has this fundamental attitude to everything he does – want something? make it happen. All my life, I have watched him lead by example and be the silent go-getter that he is. Not one for blowing his trumpet or celebrating every little win, his happiness was always in being able to do whatever it is he wished. Whenever an idea strikes him, he acts on it. Quickly. Whether it was taking off on his numerous wildlife photography trips, buying a second and third car, planning family holidays or buying beautiful things for us. I’ve seen him in his element at work, deep in the throes of designing homes late into the night and early in the mornings, I’ve seen him engrossed in music, I’ve seen him be overcome by emotion in a touching TV moment or a tree that’s just burst into colourful blooms. I’ve seen the very same urgency whether he is being handy-man around the house, tending to his garden or making plans for a distant future.
He truly brings living in the moment, being present and loving it, to life. And I hope that someday I’ll be half as adventurous as he is. I hope that some day I’ll transfer into my own life a little bit of that zest and passion to make things happen. I hope that soon I will completely internalise the want something? make it happen! attitude that he taught us by simply living his life so.
Maybe then, I will truly begin to follow through on all the plans I imagine for myself. Because nothing else will say I’m my father’s daughter, like a life lived in the moment can. Happy Happy Happy, and may you have many many more, Anna <3
I’m not dead. And this blog isn’t about to die either. It’s just somehow always the most inopportune moments when my head gets so filled with thoughts that I want to rush and bring to the fore (and by to the fore, I mean to this blog, duh), that I have to stop myself because of sheer bad timing.
I’ve contemplated writing about how 2015 has been so chock-full of travel — sudden, spontaneous trips to Bangalore (four, at last count! And it’s only July!), a week in Delhi (so unplanned, so many mixed feelings, and a new beginning that ended too soon), a gorgeously relaxing ten days in Sri Lanka, and Bombay last week (my first trip back in two and a half years!). I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting to mention something else. And I’m not even done. Next month holds promise of some more overseas travel (For work, yougaiiz!). Until now, every time I’ve travelled on work, it’s been to an office in a different city, consisted mostly of meetings in cubicles and/or board rooms. But next month I might just have my very first opportunity to change that.
But of course, the this very lucid train of thought struck me, almost fully formed into a neat little post, when I was mid-shower, en-route to a hectic day of work. There was soap at the back of my neck that needed washing. And then a body that needed wiping down, clothes that had to be worn, and work that needed getting back to. Of course writing about travelling for work had to wait.
I’ve wanted to talk about work itself. And put it down for myself to remember the next time a lean period rolls along. To remind myself that sometimes a painful wait is worth it. That sometimes I just have to tide over a dry spell without losing my mind too much. That sometimes even a brief period of chaos thanks to horribly miscalculated decision led by desperation, is usually followed by better. It always gets better. If there’s one thing that keeps reaffirming my faith in the general way of things, and how to navigate life, it is to remember to never settle. Two years of ups and downs thanks to being so picky about choosing the right gigs, turning down even the most tempting ones, to keep my head down and constantly trying to get better, widen my perspective and course-correct every bad decision (and there were quite a few), has finally put me in a good spot. There’s a healthy stream of good opportunities coming to me. The best part, and this has been such an immense relief, all of it has come without me having to pimp myself like bait out there. I’m in a place where I can choose, and this is where I’ve wanted to be for so long now.
If I’d had any foresight in 2012 when I quit my job, and someone asked me to describe the ideal work-situation, I’d have painted a picture of life just now. My days are full again. Full of writing. All kinds of it. Some days it rushes in faster than I can keep up with it, and other days I have room to sit around and think of what else I could be writing. I have a healthy balance of doing banal work that needs to be done, and I do it like I eat my greens. I may not always love it, but it has to be done. I’ve learned not to fuss over it and expect everything to be stellar all the time. Because doing that means I can focus on pitching the funn-er stuff to the right people. And the best part, after much trauma, too much picking and choosing and lots of trial and error, I have a couple of really fun clients who allow me that freedom. Give me the flexibility to run with my ideas and are mostly game to take on anything and work together to make it better.
Some times I have to pinch myself and wonder if it’s all too good to be true. And I usually end up telling myself it probably is.
I’ve thought a lot about how my routine has changed. I used to be a creature of habit. I still am, but I’m constantly being forced to break those patterns that couched my laziness and unwillingness to change. It’s official. Work is challenging me not just by upping the ante with the kind of writing I’m taking on, but also in my work style. I’ve been forced to work myself out of the comfort of safe routines that did little to really push my limits. I’ve had to get used to juggling multiple (way more than I’ve ever had at one point of time) assignments at a time), teach myself to deal with all kinds of clients, and learn to put my foot down, to know what opportunities to drop and what to pursue, and along the way, carefully build some patience and tact that was sorely missing.
I realise now that all it took was to go back to believing that less is more. And to do that I had to set aside my choosy, fussy ego. Dissolve some of the angst I was clutching close to my heart, keep my head down to the grindstone, focus a little more and begin by distilling what it is that I really want. Once I had a better idea on what I wasn’t going to compromise on, it was easier to stop hankering after every opportunity that came my way and single-mindedly chase my goal. I had to cut a lot of unnecessary fat I’d accumulated along the way, trim the several unwanted distractions and factors that though tempting to carry on with, were only going to be a drain on my time and energy.
In all of this, with the hectic work scenes, interspersed with travel scenes, I’ve had a steady stream of friends visiting. S came over right after on of my trips to Bangalore, and as anticipated it was a week of extended debauchery. Too much alcohol and other intoxicants consumed, enough to make the whole week pass in a happy haze, driving around, eating at our favourite spots and vegetating at home watching movies, watching the rain, listening to music and yakking away to glory.
R & S visited for what was meant to be a weekend that got happily extended, making one of them cancel a work interview and another forget her family for a day longer. It’s not often that you meet friends with whom you can enjoy your time without frenetic activity. With a select few, this is actually possible. No pressure to have an agenda, to be on your best host behavior and tick all the typical to-dos off when you have friends visiting you in Goa. All my close encounters with good friends this year have reconfirmed this. It helps that most of my friends come with low expectations and never want to do anything run of the mill.
So S and I spent most of the week that he was here in a blur of nostalgia tinged revisits around all our favourite haunts. There was a customary thaali consumed, three trips to Inox to watch terrible movies, food cooked at home, and beginning a weekday at 11 am with a beer. We binged on Coke Studio as usual, and since his arrival coincided with the amp on my speakers at home blowing up, must of this was done while driving around in the rain. The best combination, if you ask me.
It also meant I got to visit some less-crowded, less-seen spots in my own backyard. And be a tourist just for a bit.
With R & S, the weather wasn’t so kind. After all the anticipation of incessant rain and planning clothes that would be manageable and conducive to roaming about in the showers, we had NO rain. Just intensely hot days. But that didn’t stop us. We spent the 3 days driving around to some spots we’d decided we must see, I facilitated some binge shopping, sea-food eating, and generally staying up too late and being typical girls sitting and yakking about boys, belly fat and beautiful clothes. Thankfully for VC (and us!) a work trip came up at the last minute, coinciding perfectly with our girly weekend, and we had the house entirely to ourselves and he was spared all the excessive girly business. We practically played out Dil Chahta Hai of the opposite sex.
S & S were supposed to visit me later this month, but have cancelled and I’m sad because it would have been another perfect addition to events in the last few months of my life that have made me firmly believe in something I said on fb, while I was at my most inarticulate best (read below).
I’ve been thinking so much about how I used to be the one girl in a gang of boys, and all my best friends so far have been boys. And yet in the last year alone I have dropped almost all of them, only to have them happily replaced by some truly fabulous women. I was overwhelmed at the realization and how quickly some of these bonds have strengthened. I wanted to tell a tale about whatsapp groups and how I have more than my fair share of them, all ruled by the girls in my life, but all I could manage was:
And in keeping with the too-much-to-say-to-actually-say-it I made a feeble attempt to back it up with this babble:
Filed under: Things that should be in blogposts but never make it because I have no time to write for myself anymore.
Things that deserve elucidation, elaboration, nuance, but don’t get it because very overwhelmed, much emotion.
Things that have turned my every day life around, but only get acknowledged in quiet moments of solitude.
As if I didn’t already have enough going on, my hands dirty with way too many different things, I decided to redo our living-dining area a bit. It started with needing to replace two broken dining chairs, but eventually ended up in a massive project of having all new chairs made, painting and distressing them myself, then repainting the table to match, and while we’re at it changing all the curtains and moving some furniture around.
I couldn’t have done it without A, who is like a whiz around the house. I would have procrastinated and done this in stages over the next 6 months.
But she swooped in with more enthusiasm than I could muster at that time, and made sure I was all set in 5 days flat. Another case of “girlfriends, best.”
In all this, VC has been my rock. Putting up with my mood swings, work-related stress, dealing with too much take out, coping with me beginning my day at 6 am and ending it way past midnight, laptop dragged into bed. It occurred to me some time last month that for weeks on end, the every waking moment we spent together at home, I was usually with my nose buried in my laptop. I must be lonely being in a house of two where one person is present, but absent, if you know what I mean. Worse than dealing with long bouts of loneliness when I up and go to Bombay or Bangalore, as I have so many times this year. Only last weekend, he quietly admitting “it’s no fun when you’re not around, so try and not go away too much, too often,” taking care to only express the feeling without curbing the wheels on my heels.
He’s been travelling a lot too, which has meant a lot less alone time for us. Last Sunday we realised we hadn’t spent a weekend together in over 8 weeks, which for us, is a long, long, long time. We fixed it with a day out in the rain.
So yeah, I’ve had way too much going on. It’s given me a lot of fodder to blog about, and I’ve had so much to say, at so many different points. In many ways I almost had too much to say, to actually take the trouble to articulate it in words. For once though, I just let it go and didn’t let the pressure to blog every little happening get the better of me. But who knows, maybe this is the start of another bout of blogging?
I leave you with this earworm-turned-brain-worm that’s caught me unawares two days ago, and refuses to let up. May you suffer the sweet trauma of this sweet song too.