Day 211: Interwebzy things

29 Jul

I’ve functioned at sub-par productivity levels this whole week, my mindspace suddenly hogged by the the DNC. I don’t know why I suddenly got engrossed in watching the speeches at the convention, but I found myself waking up to catch up with the happenings of the previous day, for the last three days. And once you go down that tunnel, it’s hard to get a grip and crawl out because the videos are abundant and endless.

I realised today that regardless of which country you belong to, what your politics may be or the real, final implications of this election (no matter which way it goes), the fact that Hillary Clinton has made it this far is a seminal moment in the history of womankind. I was choked up at several points in many of the speeches where they spoke of this moment in history (from the perspective of what it means for women as a whole, than from the perspective of HRC as a person) with pride and joy, for what it stands for and what it means from this point on.

Of course, the downside (upside?) of suddenly tuning into the election at this juncture, and because I almost don’t read any news anymore, meant that I had so much catching up to do, so I was spent some time lost in the news, reading up on how things have gone so far. It’s been a few days of trawling the internet in ways I haven’t in a long time. And I may have ambled this way and that, so I’m sharing some of the finds that I liked reading.

Despite the overwhelmingly positive energy the DNC exuded, for the most part, when you considered it in isolation, panning out and looking at the events up until now and the delicate point at which things are so precariously balanced for America, you can’t help but feel a sinking sense of doom. The same kind of doom I felt in the run up to our election of 2014. Despite the glimmers of hope, there was the undeniable rise of an ugly beast, and we watched the news everyday, helplessly hoping against hope that what you know is going to happen, doesn’t actually happen. This Michael Moore piece nailed it for me, and the sense of gloom turned so big and real in my head. For someone who is otherwise so over the top and fatalistic in his views, this piece breaks it down quite logically, and raises real points that you can’t just refute as being silly and sensational.

At the end of day 2, HRC made history by being named the first woman presidential candidate the USA has ever had. Several newspapers honoured her by plastering their front pages with pictures of the other Clinton. Her husband. This piece mocks that hooplah. My favourite line – “He may lack current first lady Michelle Obama’s upper arm strength, but he makes up for it with a nice head of hair.”

I watched Hillary’s speech this morning, and I was so overwhelmingly inspired by her. People are mocking her intonation, delivery and choice of clothes, but really get over it, people. She slayed her male opponent with one heavyduty line after another, and I couldn’t keep up with all the lines I wanted to remember. But I found this amazing piece that collates some of twitter’s best reactions and comments on her speech, and it makes for such a fun read. My favourite line – “No you don’t, Donald!”

Closer home, things are imploding way faster than we imagined. I stay away from the news for the most part, but it’s difficult, and when it does eventually catch up with you, it’s the most grotesque, heinous happenings that do catch your eye. The Dalit uprising, our very own French Revolution is well underway and it is the one thing that has really shaken me up since last week. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about the group of men and what was done to them at the hands of that “cow protection squad”. And I worry about where this is all headed. It makes me often question the one-sided overly negative narratives we subject ourselves to online. And I wonder if in many ways this mode of constant consumption, of this endless stream of polarised, sensationalised news paints a picture far worse than it actually is? Mark Manson throws some light on whether the world is really going as crazy as we think it is.

The Establishment is fast becoming one of my most loved sites to visit. For its writing that is diverse, inclusive, relevant and powerful. And it’s run by women only. What’s not to love? Two pieces that made me sit up and notice, this past week. First, this scary but important commentary on physician abuse that made me feel like I could have written it, it so close home to what I have been through and felt so alone over. And two, this educative piece on the humanitarian crisis in Kashmir.

Have you read Richa Kaul Padte’s latest BuzzFeed essay on India’s domestic violence problem and all the various chinks in our systems and our culture that silence us, indirectly perpetrating it.

If you feel things are getting heavy around here, read this informative interview about what it’s like to be a food writer in the world right now. As an Indian writer who dabbles in writing about food sometimes I found this particularly relevant for where we are right now, and for the fraternity I belong to where food writing is and has been limited to a minute range of topics and styles. For the most part, food writing in its most common avatar is a glamorous thing to do, and only deals with an elitist perspective and take on the subject of food, as something to be consumed. I am increasingly becoming interested in the other aspects – politics, culture, history and trends related to food that we often gloss over thanks to the uni dimensional way in which we look at food these days.

While we’re talking about food, read this delicious piece of writing by Mahesh Rao that while it talks about food is really a commentary about our culture of excesses and over the top habits.

See this howlarious collection of tweets by Medieval Reactions that superimposes modern day issues on hugely appropriate pieces of historic art. I had tears from laughing so hard at this piece.

And, lastly I’m sharing another video by enthu cutlet VC, that endorses these group cycle rides that happen in Goa, that we sometimes participate in and always thoroughly enjoy. If you ever find yourself here, with a bike to spare, this is definitely an interesting and unique way to experience Goa.

Day 210: 2016 monsoon earworms

28 Jul

As I began to write this, I titled it Day 2010. You know, 207, 208, 209, 2010. I’m losing my head, I really am. I realised yesterday that my music listening really spikes in the monsoon. It’s definitely a result of an overall chirpy mood. Good weather makes everything better, and makes for awesome ambience, all the damned time. All every day needs is its own sound track, which I have been providing very willingly, right from the very first year here.

Every monsoon ends up having it’s anthem – that one track that gets used and abused, on loop, for weeks on end. It’s the one track that gets forever labelled with the monsoon it is assigned to, and will then forever be categorised with that year for all of time to come.

I quickly scrolled through the The Rain tag and realised just how many posts are accompanied by rain music. Every monsoon even has it’s own mammoth music post that usually features a lot of Coke StudioThis song always makes a comeback in this season.  And all the music listening makes me very, very nostalgic. As it did even as recently as yesterday. But mostly it’s an odd unconnected mix of lots of music that is inspired around this time of year. Sometimes it’s Bollywood-y. sometime’s it’s an ode to our annual dose of Coke Studio.

This year, it’s been a random assorted bunch of stuff but there have been some frequent, oft-repeated tracks that are going to always be associated with the Monsoon of 2016.

Like Moon Child, which is just perfect for the rain and gets played a minimum of three times a day, no matter what else I may listen to.

And then there’s been a strange Shakthisree comeback thanks to listening to a lot of Indian inde music that R digs out and shares with me from time to time. Have you watched this movie? Just listening to this song I don’t understand, makes me want to watch it.

I can’t remember when or where I first heard this song, but I had it shazamed and ready to listen to when I got home, and it promptly came back to me on one particularly rainy day. And then it has stuck.

Have you heard the wonder that is Nicholson? This song in particular? You may have seen it on my instagram.

This song from Waiting has been getting a daily play.

And my interest in this old Coldplay song was rekindled.

Okay, that’s all, I think. Enjoy maadi. And if you want more music, look here.

Day 209: Smoke and ashes, email trails and matters of the heart

27 Jul

In a strange and unexpected twist of events today, I suddenly found myself rummaging through old emails dating back to the very beginning of my gmail account. It’s just about 8 years ago, but frankly every time this happens, it feels like I’m going back to the start of time. It’s just an unnecessary trip to take, quite honestly. Because it stirs feelings I’ve pushed away, instances I’ve chosen to filter out and it brings to the surface a mixture of nostalgic tinged with wistful longing for a different time that is so long gone there is absolutely no trace of it to cling on to. Except when you go looking for it, in gmail accounts and folders in your hotmail account that bear questionable names. One folder in particular, called “lau” – ayyo, yes, really. That folder always leaves me happy-sad. Happy for the good times and innocence, sad for the naivety and the struggle that I was rather oblivious to back then, but I see so crystal clear now. Right there in my inbox, I traced my way down the entire life cycle of one of the major relationships in my life, right to the end where it crashed and burned leaving a trail of smoke and ashes, that still lingers even till today, evidently.

How else do you explain what I was doing in the inbox of an email account I don’t even use anymore. Why are these emails still there? Why do I still know this password? Why are some memories so vivid and some others catch me by surprise when I read about them? So many questions.

Next stop, transitioning from hotmail to gmail, of course, I was neck deep in emails from 8 years ago. Chats with friends who helped me keep my sanity intact, during my years hopping from one ad agency to the next, like it was going out of style. There were chats of serious advice, of hatching plans to escape the world, rants about work, rants about Bangalore and being a single girl finding her way to work, rants about boys, rants about my then angst ridden rebellious relationship with my parents, a lot of rants basically. But I had some good people in my life, from the looks of it. Solid folks who stuck it out with me, heard me out, entertained my constant complains, kept me afloat, and shared a shit ton of good music with me. Through good times, bad times, melancholic times, moody times – there were so many youtube links and mp3s shared in email attachments.

I landed on this one chat in particular, where this song was shared:

This is such a bloody good song. And suddenly I went right back to that day. It was a long evening working, at what was probably my third or fourth job. I had been complaining to this boy who was once a very good friend, about the auto ride to work and how I was tired of being ripped off every single day just getting to work. I was also complaining about a relationship that was dwindling but refused to die a silent death. And I spoke of the existence of another boy who I never expected to be interested in, but suddenly had been eating up large chunks of my attention (I’m talking about VC, of course). I complained about being unable to deal with it all. I complained about not wanting anything to do with any of them. I claimed I wanted a no strings, happy, fun fling (hah, as if I was capable of it!). Here was a boy being the best friend a girl could have – and I mean this in an entirely platonic way. Saying all the right things, being there and listening patiently when she was complaining, sending her lovely music that was hugely appropriate for the moment, touching all the right chords and basically being a little too awesome to be true. So awesome that for some reason, I, in what now seems like a very stupid move, casually quoted a line from this song I was obsessing over at the time.

And we should be together

I suffixed it with “dammit!” and I slipped it into an email, quite unthinkingly. It was just a dramatic line from the song, and I didn’t think much of nonchalantly, flicking it away like a just-lit match glowering and sizzling as it cuts through the air, going out with a hiss. Leaving only smoke and ashes, baby.

What followed, and what I saw in a string of emails, was a confused exchange between me and said boy. Mostly him picking up on a sign he probably saw, that I had inadvertently led him to believe was there. And in the midst of it all, was this song, embedded in an email. This was before the days of ripping any damned youtube song I want, using third party sites that turn videos to mp3s. Finding music meant looking for a torrent and using a peer to peer file sharing software to download it. It meant only finding stuff that was popular and that would be easily accessible on people’s shareable file systems. It meant not finding slightly less popular Tracy Chapman tracks with as much ease as say the latest club track. And yet, there I was, quoting this amazing song to this lovely boy, and asking him to find me the song.

Find it for me, he did.

*****

Today this unexpected, but altogether pleasant trip was triggered by the most unlikely chain of events that started here, with the discovery of this song that came out early this morning:

Just a regular catchy Hindi movie song that’s a massive throwback to only like one of the most favourite jig-worthy tracks from my late teenage years. No big deal.

So of course, I may have played the song way too many times for my own good, as I am known to do very, very often.  Except this time, I may have somehow pakaoed myself by the continuous loop. Now that is a first even for me.

One thing led to another, and before I knew it I was going down a slippery slope. Sukhbir, Bally Sagoo, Stereo Nation and everything in between, including the likes of dil le gayi kudi gujarat ki and laung gawacha and oh god I don’t even want to tell you what else.

And then, I don’t know why, but suddenly I was in my email account, looking at old emails and feeling too many feels for a Wednesday evening, triggered by an avalanche of music that traversed Punjabi pop and ended with Tracy Chapman.

And here I am listening to it for only the 56th time since I saw the email. Yep, it’s on loop. I don’t know how this happened. Sometimes I don’t understand how my brain works. But I know how this will go. The song will play on loop, till my light and my heat have all been spent, leaving only smoke and ashes. Only smoke and ashes, baby.

Please send help, I’m drowning in a pool of my own feels and I’ve forgotten how to swim.

Day 208: It’s always just a silly listicle

26 Jul

that hits you like a truth bomb you weren’t expecting. FB memories threw up this post I’d shared two years ago. A link to this piece about the struggle of having an outgoing personality but being an introvert. Two-years-ago-me seemed to think every single point in the piece was applicable to me. And it was true. Then. 

Some stuff has changed, but a majority of the list still holds true, though. And some of it is so succinctly to the point. Like point #1 on the list that is so spot on, and so me at the moment.

You’re not anti-social, you’re selectively social.

Point #4 talks about being the life of every party. I was never the life of every party, but I did enjoy socialising when the mood and right opportunity aligned. Now, the will to do that has faded and I find myself retreating inwards even when an opportunity that I might have jumped at even just 6 months ago presents itself.

The next point though, still holds true, post any hectic engagement.

…You then retreat into three days of complete solitude to recover.

And then there’s #8 which is still the reason I get myself into a lot of trouble.

You’re accused of being flirty with everybody, which is hilarious, because in reality, you can only tolerate like four people.

It’s not so much flirty as much as it is just exceptionally affable, which has been taken as flirty, mistaken as not-single-but-ready-to-mingle, and open for service on more than one occasion. Usually it hits me when I’m already too far into the friendship and I have had to do a lot of damage control in recent time. This is fatiguing to say the least.

The diametric opposite of “flirty” behaviour mentioned above is the cold ice-princess air that I have been told I exude. It’s entirely unintentional. It is mostly me just keeping to myself because I am either feeling inadequate or don’t have anything to contribute. But it’s almost always misunderstood and taken to be snobbery. Like it says in in point #9.

You retain an air of mysteriousness about you, completely unintentionally.

Points #12, #13 and #14 are all me. To the T.

You’ve never really understood the whole “introvert vs. extrovert” dichotomy (can we call it that?) Because you’re… both…

You’re always thrown into the wringer because people think you’re best suited to be the one who gives the presentation, confronts the boss, gives the speech, etc. Meanwhile, you’re practically throwing up over the thought of it.

You ebb and flow between wanting to be noticed for your hard work, reveling in the attention and achievement you receive, to sinking and panicking over the thought of somebody else paying more than 30 seconds of attention to you.

I can’t tell you the number of times my being lively, outgoing, social, wanting to engage and be in the company of people has been taken to be a good reason to assume I’m ready to throw myself in front of a group of people to make a presentation. I’ve found myself in this position in the past. It sucks infinitely. Especially when I’m told things like “but you’re so good with big groups” and then you have to try and explain, in vain, the absence of the connection between the two.

The remaining list has points that apply at some times, some points that no longer hold good – like the bit about being the life of the party dancing on the table and doing body shots, the point about indecisiveness and the bit about avoiding people but making it look like there’s nothing in the world I’d rather be doing when I do meet them. I was never the loud life of any party. Never. I used to be fairly indecisive, but that has changed noticeably and significantly in recent times. I still go out of my way to avoid people when I don’t feel like meeting them, but I don’t make efforts to cover it up. I am fairly honest about wanting my space and solitude. And when I take it, I am quite unapologetic these days.

intro

Possibly the most fitting point on this list that’s applicable today is the very last one. #18.

It’s taken you years to figure out that you’re shy. Literal years. And when you tell people, even your closest family members, that you’re “actually just shy” they pause, and then their eyes go big, and they go: “Oh my god you so are.”

It has taken absolute ages to realise the fine differences and that gradient, between what we think are two polar opposite states to exist in. It is possible to be both an introvert and an extrovert and have phases where you linger in the grey areas in between, sometimes indefinitely.

It’s also entirely possible for things change. Drastically. They keep transforming. Rough edges get smoothened, new angles emerge, you may soften up about some things that you cared deeply about, and you may develop new non-negotiables. The few tendencies of extroversion I once had, may have gone into hiding in recent times. My inability to sit still and be with myself from a decade ago has somehow vanished entirely.

If there’s one thing I’ve realised about myself in recent time it’s that I no longer enjoy hanging on to my aversions or to hang on to anything so tight that I’m left lost and unanchored when that state ceases to exist. It’s the only way to move through change with as little tumult as possible.

So yeah, it was interesting to see that virtually every single point on this list was applicable to me just two years ago, before a time when I fully understood that I was actually am ambivert leaning towards the introvert side of the spectrum. Before I realised there were sufficient anomalies to the general rule, to keep me out of the water tight compartmentalisation of one or the other. And long before I realised that that was perfectly okay. And today while so much of it has changed, so much still remains.

Day 207: Gym rant

25 Jul

At the gym every morning, I’m the equivalent of the annoying student who we’d call a chomu in school. For those not in the know, a chomu is that overeager beaver, always aiming to over-achieve and please everyone by doing everything right, all the time. I’m that person at the gym. Which is to say I’m always asking for more. More reps, higher weights, more rounds of the circuit, more kickboxing, more time. And I very rarely slack off (if I do, then my trainer knows its time to be worried), or whine and complain loudly, or try and get out of finishing something I’ve started. I’m always striving for perfection, it’s a serious disease and I’m a self confessed endorphin junkie. Three times over, in fact. I rarely miss a class, bunking without reason is unheard of, so you understand why I’m comparing myself to that special breed of enthu cutlet we all love to hate.

Predictably, everyone around me hates this. Because it means they have to suffer the elf-inflicted pain of keeping up. It’s either that, or they have to feel inadequate. Neither is a favourable state to be in, so they take the easy way out and mock me for being the enthu cutlet that I am. Silent sniggers behind my back to loud giggles in my face, to snide comments about how everyone is made to suffer because of me – I’ve seen it all. None of it affects me. I don’t feel bad, mostly because I am unapologetic about how I want to spend my time at the gym. However, when it goes so far as to take the focus off form what I am there to do, and it eats into my productive time, then I get a little peeved.

Tough luck, I just happen to be someone who is serious about the time I spend at the gym. Sure I may be a little extreme with my enthusiasm, but at least I only inflict that on myself. I have a single-minded focus on making that one hour count, completely for myself.

The truth is, I don’t fully understand why people would want it any other way. It’s just that one hour in the day. And it’s one hour that I’m inclined to believe they’ve chosen to spend at the gym. Out of their conscious volition. I can’t think of too many people who find themselves at a gym because someone forced them into it and dragged them out there at 8 am everyday. So I don’t understand why some of the folks I work out with feel the need to come to the gym day after day and then complain about having to 1) work out 2) challenge their bodies 3) sweat it out.

It’s like they weren’t expecting it. And I can’t understand it at all! As a result I don’t have any sympathy either. So there’s only so much I can react to or participate in the inane comments and conversation that invariably occurs. Coupled with my general lack of interest and deliberate attempts to stay aloof, I’m hyper aware that I come of looking like a complete snob. I may have got the act of physically zoning this stuff out down to an art, because there are days when I just plain refuse to react even when I’m being spoken to.

Part of me feels I’d rather be thought of as a snob, than try and be polite and compromise on the 60 minutes that I get at the gym. But mostly I just don’t know how to react to some of the things I hear. Sample this, it’s just a selection from today alone.

“Oh god, I’m sweating so much!”

“This is really hard haan? Especially on a Monday” (at which point my trainer helpfully offered, “It’s hard everyday”)

“You mean I have to lift this?”

“How many more rounds? Can I skip this one?”

“Put your butt out” *giggle giggle giggle*

When asked to stay with the time and not stop before – “I’m not good at staying”  *giggle giggle giggle*

“Only my butt is getting bigger, I want other things to get bigger” (at this point my eyes rolled into the parallel universe and back)

“Why do we have to do this stretch?”

“Please have mercy, don’t you love us?”

I’m very curious why they even bother dragging themselves to the gym at all. The extra hour of sleep might actually do them more good than the half-assed attempt at working out can. What’s even funnier is the slightly backhanded appreciation I sometimes get. Semi-fake, mildly phoney admiration for the fact that I can lift more, stretch more, punch more.

I suppose the part where I work hard at it is lost on them. That might be an opportune time to suggest that the energy and effort expended in trying so hard to dodge their way out of every damned exercise could actually maybe, used to like, work out, you know? Lift those weights, sweat it out, get better at it, feel fitter. Maybe? 

No? Okay, no. Maybe not.

Rant over.

Day 204: Homebody

22 Jul

As much as this is great weather to be out (because it’s not impossibly hot as it can be at other times of the year in Goa) I’ve realised this is also the perfect weather to stay in. The rain makes for an excellent view, a rather welcome constant background noise and everything is just so cool and pleasant. Today, I didn’t even need the fan on. One week of raining, and I’m officially cold.

If you’re the sort of person who can spend long periods of time with yourself, and rarely hate being alone, and almost never get tired or bored of being by yourself, working from home is the best arrangement you could ask for. I sometimes go for days, sometimes more than a week, without stepping out to meet people. I am able to keep the socialising and getting out and about to a minimum because I’ve realised it works for me and so I choose to have it that way. And it’s much easier to do because I don’t have an office to get to every day. A visit to gym less than a 2-minute drive away is about as far as I go on any given day. And if I were to be honest and admit how I really feel about it, I’d have to say I’d find my time at the gym infinitely nicer if I didn’t have to engage with people. I allow my errands to pile up so I have to get out once to run through them every ten days or so. I stockpile my groceries and veggies, limiting visits to the market to the minimum. When it comes to socialising, it helps that there are very few people who would try and come over or have me go over. So I do, when I’m up for it. In recent time I’ve gotten very good at being honest in turning down invitations when I’m not feeling like it. For the most part I’ve designed a life that is greatly suited to being alone. And I’m not sure if it’s now just a matter of habit but I really it. Waking up with nowhere to go, but having a whole day to do as I please is always a lovely feeling.

Recently I ran rattled off my typical routine to someone who was visibly stunned that I don’t need to get out for something or the other every day. I really don’t. Not even for fresh air.

Two days ago, I realised it had been over a week since I had stepped out. A visit to the doctor and the path lab don’t count. It was the first day I was able to get out of bed and not feel drained of energy. So I drove over to one of my favourite cafes all the way in Assagaon. With a notebook for company. Over many Americanos and a delicious Haianese stir-fried chicken over brown rice, I got a fair bit of writing and thinking done. It rained the whole time, and from the window where I sat, I saw a peacock perched on a large raintree outside the cafe. Then I packed up some brownies for later, and drove back home. The rain had tempted me to step out. Like I said, this is great weather to be out and about. But I was quick to come back home.

Why did I suddenly think about all this? Well, today, I went back to the gym after ten days away and it was nice. I came home and spent the rest of the day working, which is a vast improvement from the week gone by. It’s Friday and I could have been out with friends this evening, but in a completely predictable turn of events (for me), I chose to stay in and work on unfinished things. I’ve been a hectic socialiser in the past. I’ve had bouts of it up until recently too. But despite it all the inner loner always rises to the surface and wins. Goa did this to me, you know? Goa with its splendid outdoors, lust-worthy monsoony weather, beautiful places all within drivable distances from me, did this to me.

What can I say, Goa silenced the frenetic pseudo-socialiser in me, and unearthed this homebody who’s in no mood to go away any time soon.

*shruggy guy*

*****

Current rain-induced stay-at-home mood:

Day 203: Rainy day feels

21 Jul

As I stirred this morning, at an hour far later than the usual, I realised that the romance of waking up to the rain at this time of year will probably never get old. I could hear the constant rush of rain outside. I peeked out through a crack in the curtain behind my head and I was right. It was coming down in sheets. as it has every day, for the last week now. And like it has for at least least four similar bouts since the start of this monsoon. And like it has for the last seven monsoons I’ve witnessed. And every year the intrigue is fresh, the enchantment persists, the fascination gets stronger. It kicked in with full force early this month and on cue, it’s brought the daily undeniable urge to stay in bed longer, that can only be faced with the thought of a steaming up of tea that lures me out. Mornings are the best time. Everything is crisp, everything is lush and freshly birthed. Gleaming new baby leaves, brave buds bursting forth.

We’re in the midst of another rainy bout of continuous squelchy days. Waking up to get going has been really difficult. I haven’t been to the gym in a week and this morning I realised that starting the day with exercise really sets the ball rolling and without it, I feel a bit anchor-less. Added to that, I’m still a little low on energy from the illness, and waking up is fuzzy. But the promise of chai makes it better. That, and kitchen views of wild flowers that bloom and get going overnight. Where they can, when they can.

Day 202: I’ll be fine, sipping wine, taking time slow

20 Jul

Being laid up the last few days with not much else to do (until S introduced me to couchtuner and I discovered I could watch Arrested Development on it, that is heh.) put me in a great place to sit and think about a certain meltdown that occurred last week that I am increasingly beginning to feel aggravated my illness. It turned a regular viral fever into a monster fever. Addled my brain and set my mind off on a tailspin that did me more harm than than the illness did.

It boils down to the restlessness I keep talking about. I’ve felt it since late last year, and it has ebbed and flowed at various points. Sometimes I have felt like I may be on to something, and that I’ve silenced the constant nagging feeling with the rhythm and cacophony of my daily life, and other times when the silence creeps back, it is back to square one. Mostly it’s this feeling like everything that I’m doing is merely a run up to the next thing, and that next thing is around the corner. But I’m not quite there yet. I feel like I’m still coasting along in the vast grey of transition. Like I haven’t quite peaked. Like the best is yet to come. Like I’m waiting for that opportune moment, for that one experience that will kick it out the park for me.

This restlessness has been festering within me for so long now, I’ve become almost accustomed to it. With every step forward, I feel the goalposts move further up, the demands growing. Every moment that lights up with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, comes with the reminder of how much remains to be done. So many things to write about, so many dream publications left to strike off my bucket list, so many places to visit, so many books to read, so many experiences left to be had. And here I am, waiting for my turn in the sun is yet to come around. Yes, there is a sense of waiting. As if I am on pause, and everything I am doing is but a run up to the real deal of some sort.

I know, I know, it’s probably no different from the way just about every one of us feels. The more we do, the more there is to aspire for. And if I were to be really honest, this feeling is kind of unfounded. Because there is plenty to be glad for at the moment. I live in one of the most wonderful states in India. I’m married to possibly the most supportive and understanding man I’ve met, who makes our life here possible in more ways than one. I have the privilege and luxury to work out of home, on my terms, doing the kind of work I want to do. I’ve been lucky to have a comfortable well-kept life without the demands of being the bread-winner so I can scale my work up the way I want. I have the capacity to travel as and when I want to. I’m blessed with an able body, access to healthy food and a metabolism that lets me indulge and exercise to the extremes that I do. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to choose this life, free of most of the encumbrances that people at my life-stage and age usually have to deal with. Our parents are able and healthy and don’t yet need us, we have no children or other major responsibilities. I have the support and love of my family, some of the most wonderful friends I’ve had in all my life. It’s a great time to be alive. And yet, here I am longing for the page to turn. It’s like my reality and the wants of my heart are often at loggerheads.

If I were to be really honest, and by honest, I mean if I were to think straight, unclouded by emotion and that reckless, endless desire for the what next, and look at things very objectively, I’d realise, as I so often do, that it is in fact a bloody good time to be alive. And sure, this may very well be the “run up for what is to come.” But it doesn’t take away from the fact that this right here, is life, in the now.

It’s in the rhythms of my daily routine. In the tiny little insignificant acts that dot each new day. In the waking of every dawn and fading of every sunset, punctuated by successes big and small; some moments of despair and disappointment; a rollercoaster learning curve; every pay check; in the weekends spent home; in the wholesome meals in my plate; in every milestone conversation with VC that is worth remembering for a lifetime; in every giggle fit; every epiphany and seminal moment of change. This is it. Life is happening, it’s unfolding right now as I sit around waiting for it to…well, happen.

This is not a new lesson or learning. These are things I have arrived at time and again. Lessons in patience, in waiting, in growing a little, and in learning to be brave and audacious. In reminding myself of all of this, time and time again. Because evidently, I forget.

It took a a week of forced silence and rest to remind myself again. When my blood work turned out completely clear, and in fact showed stellar numbers proving that physically there was no reason I had to be sick so soon again, I knew that perhaps this was just a necessary pause. To refocus and pay attention, rethink and remind myself yet again. To quit waiting. To be present because this is life. It is happening right now. And it is enough.

*****

Current mood:

Day 201: What happens when you go cycling in the rain

19 Jul

rain

You know true freedom,
you chase the rain, open arms.
And then, you fall sick.

Day 200: Barely moving

18 Jul

The world is well and truly imploding. Literally every single day, something horrific happens. Five instances of terror in the last month alone. Kashmir. Alton Sterling. Qandeel Baloch. The FIR against Aklaq’s family. And closer home, LED bulbs being handed out in the run up to our next election (as if that’s all it takes to buy loyalty, they conveniently forgot about the power to light those bulbs up). The death trap of a main road. Some part of me is definitely turning numb. I see it in the reactions I have. Much of this, I process silently and it leaves me sometimes tormented, sometimes numb. But always deeply distressed. And restless. I suppress the feeling, as well as the way it always makes me feel little, pointless, shitty and helpless.

And then I move on. Deliberately keeping my social media timelines free of news. Steering away from politically fueled conversations with people I know I cannot engage with. Mostly using my own thoughts and words to fight these battles in my head, in private. To make sense of everything that seems to be fast escaping the realm sense, purpose and meaningfulness.

And then I move on.

I’m still down and out, and no, it hasn’t passed. Day 5 in bed today, with a persistent fever that abated only 24 hours ago. I guess I should be happy that I’m in a situation where I’ve been forced to stay in bed for five days now. But it’s no good when haven’t been able to do much with all that time. Reading a book or watching TV was out of the question due to severely blocked sinuses that made keeping my head up and focusing on anything near impossible.

Still despite all that, somewhere between then and now, a lot of has happened. I may or may not have used the words “a pain in my ass” to describe to a client the situation we’ve gotten ourselves in. I may or may not have cried copious amounts of tears that at one point I was afraid they just wouldn’t stop. I may or may not have told VC that I want to be a housewife because I am good for nothing. I can’t be sure.

What I can be sure of is that I had a persistent temperature that remained in the shadows of 99-100 degrees for two days straight and was beginning to worry me. Then when it spiked to 102 and VC had to resort to a cold compress on my forehead, I realised it was time to worry. That hasn’t happened since I was a child. A blood test was ordered, and that hasn’t happened in over 6 years now. A half-mile long list of medicines have been consumed with more regularity than I fancy, and it’s turned my stomach raw and my taste buds perpetually coated with a metallic taste. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was ill so bad that I couldn’t leave my bed for five days. VC was like a hawk and a chowkidar hovering over me all weekend, not letting me leave for anything. He brought me all my meals, endless cups of hot tea, and my medicines. He may have snuck in a packet of Nutties and a Snicker bar too. When he began to question me every time he saw me out of bed, even if I was merely going to the loo, I revolted.

So I’ve spent a lot of the last few days just moping and feeling more miserable than I actually am. It’s definitely added to the general state of ill-health. While it may have started with an itchy throat and a touch of fever, I had a work situation that caused something to snap in my head last week. It sent me on a downward spiral like I haven’t ever before been in a long, long time now. It’s not like me to break down over work issues, to cut communication and disappear into myself. But that’s just what happened. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, be around anyone. I just turned inwards and moped. Until VC shook me out of it partially on Friday night, when I began to see the light a little bit. Whether being physically ill aggravated my work stress or vice-versa, I’ll never know. But I feel like some part of this is my body telling my mind to chill the eff out. Or vice versa. But I need to examine it and fix it. Find that balance that I had regained temporarily, and have now lost again.

I opened facebook today after three whole days, to find something my friend V wrote and posted, right up top on my feed. V doesn’t post too often anymore, but when she does it always smacks the nail on the head. As it did just now too, bang on point, neatly summarising the inner turmoil I’ve been going through for the last 5 days now.

The two difficult forgivenesses:
1. Your gut, for not being loud enough.
2. Yourself, for not listening well.

Let that simmer a while longer. For now, I’m barely moving.

Day 197: That’s all

15 Jul

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Picture from one of my most loved fb pages, that somehow always knows exactly the right thing to say. 

Day 196: Down and out

14 Jul

13599_10154695723409606_2657219934308189782_nAs of last night, my throat has packed up. I may have dodged another round of anti-biotics. But this pre-period throat infection cycle needs to be broken because more than anything, I’m feeling let down by my body, because I really take care of it.

Owing to sudden flu-like situation, I decided it was best I skip working out today. And we know what that does to me.

Also, as of last night my fitbit died on me. Randomly, out of the blue. It was working fine one moment, and the next it was out of whack. The timing all off, refusing to sync. I tried everything google suggested and finally realised the bluetooth component on the device isn’t working. And without it, I cannot sync data, or update the firmware, or reset and reinstall the device. Talk about a major flaw in the product. And what a price to pay, because its been rendered completely useless in one swift blow. I may have to just throw it away.

I’m absolutely sick and tired of starting everyday with payment follow-up emails. I’M. JUST. SO. EFFING. DONE. Is it really that difficult to just be a decent client, and pay people on time. Especially when they deliver work on time? It really shouldn’t be that hard.

My body hurts and my mind feels like it’s on weekend more. But it’s just Thursday. And I haven’t had my dose of endorphins today.

Right. I’m done.

Day 195: 100TinderTales Reveals Dating Apps Give Indian Women The Upper Hand

13 Jul

(I wrote an earlier (and much shorter) version of the story below for one of my favourite publications —  The Establishment. You can read it here.)

As an Indian woman, Tinder fascinates me. Here’s why: I think of it as a strange shopping-meets-hook-up-experience whose very basic premise is choosing.

When I stumbled upon  #100TinderTales on Facebook – a project by Indian artist and illustrator Indu Harikumar that documents the stories and experiences of Tinder users in India and Indians using Tinder abroad –one of the first things that stood out to me was that most stories featured clearly articulated likes and dislikes, sexual preferences, fantasies, and experiences. Many of these would be considered scandalous by the average Indian standards.

Indu embarked on this project to find inspiring new content for her daily art practice. Having herself used the app overseas, while on an artist’s residency in Europe, she found it was a novel way to meet interesting people. I talked to her about what it means to women contributing to the project, to have the liberty to choose partners they consider for love, sex, and some, for marriage. The very first observation Indu shares with me, is that a lot of women on Tinder seem to be looking for love. Though I have never used the app, many of my women friends have and it’s evident that using it requires women to know what they want, articulate what they’re looking for and then navigate their way through the hoards of men who may or may not meet those criteria.

It’s a strong departure  from the traditional Indian mindset towards finding a partner — a pursuit that is only ever meant to end in marriage — where even today, many women are not typically encouraged to actively play a part in choosing. While the West may have a love/hate relationship with Tinder, in India it seems to be a tool that enables choice for women as they navigate one of our society’s greatest obsessions – relationships and marriage.

About 95% of contributors to the project are women, many of whom have shared stories of how using Tinder gives them the upper hand. “In a world where women have always been judged and dismissed based on their looks, a lot of women have told me they feel powerful left-swiping when they see pictures of Tinder users,” she says.

As a woman who, like me, also dated in a time before Tinder, and admittedly, felt the lack of avenues to discuss, experiment and explore her sexuality while growing up, Indu finds that Tinder has time and again made her question her own conditioning and presented opportunities to push her own boundaries and inhibitions fuelled by social conditioning.

“Tinder helps weed out the men you’re definitely not interested in and focus on those who you think may be interesting. It puts us on a level playing field,” she tells me.

I imagine left and right swiping through Tinder to be quite a liberating act because the prevalent notion in large parts of India still draws upon the Ideal Indian Woman whose role is to look after and preen herself, arm herself with the requisite skills that will make her worthy of being chosen. For marriage. Predominant Indian culture looks down about dating,  pre-marital sex and any discussions about intimacy or the like are clandestine.

For Indu, that ability to choose has formed the inspiration for her work. “I’m very fascinated by people, cultures, language and I’d rather hear about it all from people than read about it on Wikipedia,” she says, telling me about how she was able to connect with people based on similar interests, when she was an artist in residence in Europe. “Being able to chat with all kinds of different people, meeting them over a coffee, a was lot of it is learning for me.” More recently, many a Tinder connection has turned muse and Indu recounts tales of illustrating men with well-sculpted bodies.

Maybe because I grew up in a time long before Tinder, and my own dating pool was quite literally limited to a physical circle of friends, the idea of choosing from a virtual menu of options is fascinating to me. The advent of the internet in my teens brought along with it online chatting and many of my friends and I routinely used a variety of IM platforms to communicate with a circle of friends. It opened up a whole new world to flirt with – literally and figuratively. But it also opened us up to all kinds of unsavory characters who were quite simply looking for a fast fuck. I was very aware of how quickly meeting a stranger online could go wrong, and weeding out the potentially dangerous men and choosing the more interesting and seemingly safe ones was frankly just a pain. Choosing didn’t seem like a luxury, or a privilege.

So, I played safe and dated boys I knew, first from high school, and later social circle and much later, my workplace. Every guy I have dated has been someone I either knew personally, or someone I was connected to through a friend or relative. Given that I limited myself to a small circle, the idea that I, as a girl, could go about selecting someone was not something I considered. Many girls waited to be asked out by the boys they fancied, and many like me, did the asking themselves. By the time I was of the age where I was interested in and could have been playing the field, so to speak, I met the man who would later (very quickly, actually) become my husband.

It is common practice for girls in their 20s to be primed for marriage. Of course, the person who typically gets to actively choose is the man. I devoured Indu’s #100TinderTales because it is quite simply a whole different world than I had experienced. To read about young Indian women (and men) openly talk about their experiences, from preferring polyamorous relationships and fetishes for feet, to managing in cities with a lack of safe spaces to hook up, having period sex, finding love making boring and realizing fucking is more fun, really piqued my curiosity.

I caught up with Indu to chat about her experiences illustrating the whole spectrum of stories ranging from raw and unbridled, to funny and heartbreaking; and to understand if Tinder has put a different spin on choosing, in the love/marriage game amongst urbanized Indians.

Revati Upadhya (RU): You started this project to give yourself inspiring content to draw. But it’s turned into a large project that’s gone viral. What have you learned from illustrating these stories so far?

Indu Harikumar (IH): What I like most about this experience is that the project seems to have given people a space to share their emotions. We don’t have enough spaces for that. Many times even our closest friends don’t hear us out. Or what we want to share is difficult to just open up about. A lot of the stories have been about what people felt during their experiences using Tinder. I find being able to talk about things you don’t otherwise open up about a very healing process.

I’ve read many of the stories and personally felt like I’m not the only one who feels these things. Though we share so much on social media, and we curate the way we want to come across, there’s clearly so much we don’t share. With this project, a lot of the stories were free from those perfect images you generally see. People seem raw and real. For example, the woman who likes fucking. I found that amazing because I am usually not able to talk about these things, even with people I may like or be close to.

(RU): Like me, you’ve also dated in a pre-Tinder world. What is the one positive change dating/meeting people via Tinder has brought?

(IH): The women I grew up around were very clueless about sex. I was always more curious but women I hung out with never talked about sex. Even if they were married, my age, or we were in private – it never came up. So if you start having sex at a later age, there’s so much confusion in your head. There is also such a taboo even about seeing different men. Most women I have known, married the first guy they met and settled. In my 20s, I was told that if a guy talks to you about sex it means he wants to sleep with you. That was how it used to be.

My Tinder experiences have made me meet a lot of men from different cultures and I have realised I can have many of those conversations I couldn’t before, with them.

It has also made me very aware of my preferences, what I like and what I am looking for. When men are open to ask for sex, I am not always offended – I might have been in the past. Also, I now find it easy to say no. And saying no doesn’t always mean we have to stop conversing or communicating. That has been refreshingly different.

(RU): What are your three most favourite stories from the project so far?

(IH): There is one about love and self-sabotage.

love

I like this from another story: “Earlier, my refusal to ever use Tinder was supported by my belief that life is its own dating/hook up/happily ever after app. But clearly, life isn’t enough. Or maybe human nature is just fucked. Maybe human nature is fucked because life isn’t enough or maybe the fact that life disappoints us first makes even more comfortable with disappointing ourselves.”

disappointment

And I really enjoyed my Vienna Tinder experience because it made me feel that I could fall in love again, in the way I could when I was a younger person. And the guy left me with a body positive message, “Beauty Needs Space.”

beatuyneedsspace

(RU): What was the hardest to relate to and therefore illustrate?

(IH): When I started I told myself I would not judge. There are many stories where I have no personal reference and find it really difficult to relate. For some women things like how they come across when they eat a burger on a date matters, but it’s a trivial thing for me. Similarly, I may judge a man who ran away from his date because she had bad breath. I realised these maybe my own issues of abandonment coming to the fore, but I also realised bad breath is an issue and can turn off people. I was in two minds, but eventually I did put up that story because they’re real issues for people.

There are other stories of abuse that I am not ready to deal with currently and haven’t gone back to.

(RU): What was the saddest story?

(IH): This story was the saddest. It came to me in the beginning of the project and I wrote back to the person, I really wanted to hug her and I felt such a mixed bag of emotions. She told me that writing it made her feel lighter.  In my interaction with her, she said: “Life is too short and we keep postponing things.” Then I was holding back from texting someone, interacting with her gave me the courage to go ahead and do it.

For me, the project is therapeutic in many, many ways. Much as I’d like to disengage, these stories help me deal with my own demons, my own fears. One of the things I love about this project is that in most societies, being vulnerable is not okay and with so many people opening up, the lab pup in me thinks it has some company.

(I wrote an earlier (and much shorter) version of the story for one of my favourite publications —  The Establishment. You can read it here.)

(All images courtesy of #100IndianTinderTales)

Day 194: Pedalling again

12 Jul

No, this isn’t the cycling post I promised I’d write to explain why I started cycling in addition to everything else. But it is a post about how I got off the bandwagon and may have just been kicked back on it again.

My initial gust of enthusiasm melted away in the unforgiving summer we had this year. I hadn’t (still haven’t) stopped kickboxing and cycling 3-4 mornings a week before I hit the gym was becoming hard to sustain. The sun would be out by 7 and dehydration is a real fear. So I decided to resume when the weather turned for the better.

There was also the minor detail about being chased by a pack of street dogs one day, that had me so panic-stricken I managed to get a good mind-block about venturing out too far, too fast and on my own.

Then the weather changed early last month, and VC resumed cycling with gusto. Relentlessly waking up, trying everyday to wake me up and get me to go with him too. But rainy, grey mornings are for snuggling under the covers, not for getting out in the rain, pedalling against the wind.

But VC carried on, and sometime last week he did this.

And it has sufficiently kicked me back on track (mostly from envy) because I realised suddenly that there is still so much of Goa left to see. This is easily the best time of year to do it. And to do it on a cycle is pretty damned special.

Day 193: Like Nike, but better

11 Jul

You’ve probably seen the video launching the new Indian nike campaign, because it’s literally all over social media today. In case you haven’t, here, see.

For convenience, it’s being called an ad, but if I were to really nitpick I’d have to say it’s not an ad. Just branded content that’s the order of the day given our increasingly digital lives – fleeting, stopping only for media that jogs your senses. It’s only supposed to leave an impression and register the brand name. I think it does that job pretty well. It’s downright pump-your-fist-in-the-air-get-off-your-butt-and-move material. I watched it right after I returned form my workout this morning and even then I felt like I immediately going for a run. Or clobbering a punching bag. Or dancing wildly. So mission accomplished, I suppose.

I only had two complains. I wish it had more non-skinny girls. And I wish it wasn’t so overly glamorised and airbrushed to perfection. Sure, I get the difference between an ad with a message, and branded content that’s meant to just make you sit up and look and not really dig deeper. But this was a chance, this was an opportunity to use real Indian sportswomen and Deepika Padukone to make a solid statement with depth and substance. To take a stand and be fierce about it. To get viewers to think a little before just grooving to the song (as I did) and moving on.

And for that reason, here are some kickass ads that do the job slightly better than Nike’s new video.

Remember the This Girl Can campaign film? With copy that still gives me goosebumps.

This punchy Under Armour ad, that I think was definitely the inspiration Nike was going with.

And this one that gives me all the right feels. Because, kickboxing.

Finally someone decided that blood needs to be red. And real. And non icky.

And this, for how well it’s made. It still fills me with a burst of inspiration today, as it did the first time I watched it. Any ad that does that is doing its job well.

Day 190: On solitude

8 Jul

Solitude is a recurring theme and a very important part of my life. making time for myself, to be with myself, away from the humdrum of the regular routine really keeps me going. Without a dose of it every now and then, I feel depleted and overwhelmed. I am constantly working hard to balance the busy times with some down time, hyper-social times with down time, being wired and having some more down time to counter it. This began quite unconsciously when we moved to Goa, and life kind of forced us to scale things down and look inwards for company. To enjoy my own company, to find things to occupy me, rather than merely fill time and to do those things all on my own. And it happened quite easily.

Today, it takes deliberate attempts to create that space for myself. From little things in my routine like making sure I finish work at a stipulated time and power off my laptop and ensuring that I have no spill-overs into the weekend, to other things like consistently pruning my facebook to cut out the virtual noise and choosing to be around friends who make allow space for quiet forms of companionship, rather than a hectic, outgoing noisy outpouring of feelings at all times. That takes effort. It takes making rules, drawing boundaries and knowing when to step back and recede into the quiet space I’ve created for myself.

The reason the effort is worth it, though, is I have experienced the immensely beneficial effects of it. It is calming, centring and helps me drop roots every now and then. To stay, when everything around me is fleeting and fast spinning out of control. To remain still, when time is flying by too fast. To savour the present, when constant planning for the future consumes me. There’s plenty that can be said about the joys of solitude. To know that you can be on your own, without being lonely.To remain a little disengaged from time to time. To enjoy your own company. To do the things you want to, without the need for anyone or anything for motivation, companionship or acknowledgement. But mostly I’ve realised it’s about finding it in yourself, to be enough.

 

Day 189: Chettinadu vignettes

7 Jul

I finally got around to transferring the whole load of images from the trip that have been clogging my phone up, and I picked out a few that I love, to share here. In no particular order.

Exploring Chettinadu was all about the spaces. Large expansive galleries that popped with colour in unexpected ways. Quaint alcoves full of character. Vast, dingy roams that closed in on you. Gleaming streaks of light from sky-high windows. Sun-filled courtyards stuck in time. Smoky kitchens with walls that have soaked up generations of flavour. Resplendent, acid-trip ceilings. Giant creaking swings. Shiny, colour-blocked windows. I could go on and on.

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Protected: Day 188: More work thoughts

6 Jul

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Day 187: June

5 Jul

It’s monsoon month! Possibly the biggest highlight of June was that summer had passed and it’s started to rain pour again. I felt the fuzzies when I realised it’s my 7th monsoon in Goa. Something about time creeping by fast, and yet slowly in a way that it can only in Goa.

Apart from that, it’s business as usual. I spent a lot of time at work. And with thoughts about work. This month, I took on help to do the cooking so I could free myself of what was becoming a pretty thankless chore for me. It paid off in that I was able to spend a lot of my extra time writing (and worrying). But I’m also feeling exhausted like I may have aimed to over-achieve with not as much success as I’d have liked. That just makes for a very stressful way of working and I probably need to look into balancing the bouts of productivity with the inevitable procrastination that hits often.

Those minor niggling keedas aside, I kept going and somehow got some fun work done. There was the Period Story. And there were these three stories – a family cookbook of Andhra cuisine, a museum of Goan costume and the future of tea in India.

I didn’t publish this anywhere, but maybe I should have considered it because so many people wrote in to tell me I took the words out of their minds when I wrote a ranty response to a piece in the Guardian that said posting pictures online is like producing our own obituaries.

I watched a lot of movies last month. Sairat sent me on a regional film spiral. And then there was Udta Punjab that I watched twice, because that’s how much I enjoyed it. And then I watched Tamasha again, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it (after disliking it the first time).

But the most exciting part of last month was my long awaited holiday to the Chettinadu region. R, S and I drove down there from Madras and had a truly memorable holiday. A girly trip after ages had me wondering why this hasn’t happened before and definitely has me wanting to do this more often.


I came back to Goa smack in the midst of a week-long storm. And it was lovely.

There are some minor travels in store across July/August, and I have a mildly ambitious pitch list that I dived into yesterday. I want to crack at least 2 new pubs this month, let’s see how that goes. Apart from that I’m focusing on trying to get back to curtailing working on weekdays so I can binge on all the things that are once again being ignored, like reading, drawing, going out, on weekends. Does this never ending balancing act ever get easy?

This astonishment is probably getting old, but HOLY FUCK IT’S JULY. 6 months down, 6 to go. 180+ posts done, 180+ more to go. Ho hum dum sigh. Get on with it now, shall we?

Day 186: Werk,werk,werk,werk

4 Jul

Werk thoughts. In no particular order.

I still hate deadline days. Like proper hate – a deep loathing mixed with fear mixed with frustration, tied together with an unnecessarily prominent streak of rebellion that wastes no opportunity to encourage me to test every damn boundary to see just how far I can push it. With every deadline I ask myself, does it ever get easier? Doesn’t seem like it does, to me. Not yet.

The part of my work that I dislike the most is following up on money and chasing after clients who have all kinds of creative excuses.

Making telephone calls comes a close second. I severely dislike talking on the phone, and it’s never my preferred or primary mode of communication when I’m working on a story that requires me to speak to multiple sources. I am more than happy to meet people face to face, or email them. Telephone calls make me very uncomfortable because I feel I have little control over how much the person will say, and how far off the mark they may veer. I procrastinate on telephone calls endlessly, and many times it sets off a cycle of delays leading to scrambling towards a deadline, rather than peacefully going towards it, especially when I have made a very organised and planned beginning.

Fine tuning the process of work, figuring out a routine that works and constantly making sure it is still working is a pain. Especially if you’re a chronic procrastinator like me.

While on the one hand I see a steady growth in my work, whether it is the kind of writing I am doing, the kind of publications I am aiming for (and that are willing to have me write for them) and the amount I’m earning from this work, the whole song and dance around pitching, the waiting game, the long cycles between idea to publishing is making me very weary. I often catch myself lustfully thinking about a cushy comfortable stable office-going job, that will bring me a steady supply of work without all this fishing around the market.

After years of wandering about the market in search of the right niche of writing that suits me, challenges me and is satisfying too, I have finally found it. And now I want some consistency. More often than not my dreams are shattered by the reality that no such job exists in Goa at the moment. But I cannot deny the recurring and increasingly tempting thoughts that come. So often.

The irony of the timing, given that I’ve only recently started feeling like I’m in the groove and have got the hang of this style of working, is not lost on me. What can I say – I think I’m just inherently restless and always longing for the next thing, sometimes even immediately after I have gotten comfortable with what is on hand.

In an email I wrote to an old friend on Friday, I hastily said “I’m ready for the next thing” – surprising myself with the ease with which the words came out. I realise some part of me is ready for the next thing. I have come to accept that I am not the kind of person who can sustain the same thing in the same form for years on end. My advertising career was full of fits and starts, my employment in Goa lasted two years before I was ready for the next thing. I baked and sold cakes for two years and shut shop quite happily and without any regret. I’ve been freelancing for close to two years now and I can feel the itch to shift gears again hitting me. While I cannot imagine myself not writing, I am seeking out new kinds of engagements and I want to work towards solidifying what I have going now.

I’ve come back from my holiday feeling a little restless again. Some part of me is itching to do something impulsive, that I will refrain from even articulating, God forbid it gives wings to my thoughts. And another part of me wants to shush the fidgety me, remind myself to put my head down and keep swimming while I wait for the week to pass and along with it this feeling too.

I could sit with the discomfort and peel the layers apart to try and get to the heart of it. But you know what? I’m tired. It’s been a year of much introspection and upheaval and change, especially with regard to work, I just want some predictability now. Enough with the situations that mostly just make me chuckle helplessly.

So I’m going to get a little zen and say maybe this is all a part of the natural progression of things that was intended for me? This too shall pass.

While we’re on the topic of werrrk, here’s three pieces that came out just last week:

I wrote about TeaTrunk and Teabox, two boutique tea brands, and how they are giving tea a renewed avatar. My first for Paste Magazine: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/06/3-young-brands-giving-tea-a-contemporary-avatar.html

Five Morsels Of Love – a delightful family cookbook, compiled by Archana Pidathala as a tribute to her grandmother, reminded me of my own ammama and the special bond she and I share over food, so I wrote a little something about the book and food memories: http://www.thehindu.com/books/literary-review/revati-upadhya-reviews-archana-pidathalas-five-morsels-of-love/article8769309.ece

Wendell Rodricks is working on a mammoth project to create a museum of Goan Costume. I found the idea so fascinating, so I interviewed him and wrote about this ambitious project: http://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/revati-upadhya-on-wendell-rodricks-project-to-convert-his-goa-home-into-a-textile-museum/article8801063.ece

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