Day 230: What good is it to live with nothing left to give

Two weekends of class/workshopping and two study meets have brought home one message loud and clear.

It sits front and centre of my entire life right now and I am so ready to finally embrace it in its wholeness.

Family is important. Even those parts that I have not seen or lived. Especially those parts that I have not seen or lived.

We are connected in more ways than I know or realise.

I am so much more than the sum total of my body, mind and soul. I carry my family with me in ways I am incapable of fully understanding.

In belonging and connecting with this family, I need not lose any part of myself.

I can be connected, even as I grow and move my separate way.

Starting a ritual to acknowledge this and remember it every single day has been on my mind and today I realised it is something I want to do immediately.

I’m not fully sure how or what I want to do as yet. But I’m going to figure something out pronto.

This is gratitude for my family. For generations before and after. For all that we bring and carry with us. For all that people have held so we can move on and ahead. For life, love and this sense of connection.

Two years ago: Day 230: How many days

Advertisements

Day 229: You haven’t felt the fire

(And by you, I mean me, of course.)

One of the side effects of discovering a deeper sense of myself has been the frightening reality that I enjoy dressing up and feeling pretty. It has meant allowing myself the luxury of indulging in small things I never thought I could possibly want or love. Things I didn’t even know I could love, simply because I hadn’t considered the possibility long enough to try it. All because of a fixed sense of self that didn’t fully align with things like pink lipstick, red hair, the occasional selfie on a day when I feel good, or even just looking in the mirror and acknowledging that I look and feel really good. All because of a woefully inaccurate and incomplete sense of who I am, and certain other ideologies that I had hastily picked up and imbibed, for no other reason other than that some parts of them sounded nice and aspirational.

I am now having to slowly deconstruct my false beliefs, examine how distorted my sense of self has been so far, and put it all back together in a way that is most authentic to who I am right now. So much of this has meant letting go of beliefs about being a woman I have staunchly held so far. Beliefs that I have partly because of how I was raised, some because of living through my teens and 20s believing I wasn’t cool/pretty/popular enough to every be worthy of the self-indulgence of prettiness and moments of self-assured confidence and vanity, but mostly based on the ideas of feminism that I have exposed myself to.

And so it’s been a fun time of smashing my own shaky foundations, and rebuilding what feels like and is a more wholistic self.

First and foremost, I’ve realised once again (and had it reaffirmed so many times in so many different ways recently) that the very idea of beauty is a social construct. Mostly one created to pander to the tastes and likes of the gender that sits in viewing, in judgement of the other. For far too long, one half of our kind have decided what is deemed pretty, desirable, sexy and so much of that has come at the cost of our comfort and sanity. To be constantly craving being something one is inherently not, and therefore the constant need to reach an (unhealthy) standard of what is beautiful, is taxing as fuck. And yet we wholly owned that fight and make it a large part of what we do day after day after day.

Personally, I have realised that even with a moderate-to-healthy level of self-awareness and self-assuredness, the constant exposure to a range of media and pop culture that screams messages of what is “right” and desirable, has further reinforced a lot of those shaky beliefs. I may have escaped the desire for fair skin wholeheartedly, but I fell hook line and sinker for the strong-is-the-new-skinny aspiration. And it was so easy to believe that was a healthy, even empowering aspiration to have. For over a decade this has shaped the way I viewed everything about myself — my body, my attitude to health and fitness that was ironically downright unhealthy/obsessive, the way I dress, the way I carried myself, my body language and even my sexuality.

I’ve realised how something so seemingly harmless, couched in good intentions, the right messaging has therefore shaped my notion of beauty, my self-worth, ad my notions of my self. But it was only when I realised how may choices I was making/have made are not quite my own but rather a reflection of what I have internalised as attractive, aspirational, that the cracks have become visible.

This year will go down as the year with the least amount of exercise or attention to fitness. In another time, this would have sent me down a spiral. But I wasn’t prepared for how freeing and powerful it has been to let that shit to, and instead watch myself grow. To feel my hips widen, to enjoy watch the cuts and curves of my once muscular body give way to a more curvy body, to experience with fascination, how my body is changing. And to therefore allow for changes in my wardrobe and the choices in the clothes I want to wear. Suddenly, I have found comfort in clothes that fit me, rather than the other way around. There are small joys in pink lipstick and red hair, in bright prints as much as muted staples, in shopping itself (a luxury I eschewed for a minimalism that I now know is not entirely mine).

What an absolutely liberating joy it has been to rediscover a new sense of self that is beautiful. In filling myself up with the solidity of an inner knowing, rather than the wobbly and slippery slope that is external validation. I think I am only now discovering what it means to know a self worth that is rooted in a belief system that is entirely mine, aligned with notions and attitudes that work for (rather than against) me and the person I am growing into. The most beautiful discovery is how this translates into a confidence, a positive body language, a freeing energy about myself. And this has come from building myself ground-up, rooted in a deep knowing what fills me deep in my core.

It has been like meeting myself for the very first time. And what a beautiful meeting it has been.

Two years ago: Day 229: Into the blue

Day 228: Stay and stay a while

For more than one reason, I have found myself contemplating the differences between where/who I was in 2016, and now. I thought life had come full circle when I moved back to Bangalore, but little did I know that it would go right around once again and give me another attempt to do-over something yet again, so soon.

As I contemplate the next chapter in my extremely ordinary life, another relocation and a possible uprooting and an inevitable resettling, I’m a bit taken aback to by how I have moved from the tentative, confused and overwhelmed-by-most-things person I was in 2016 to, how open-to-throwing-myself-at-most-things, very-willing-to-try-anything-once I’ve become now.

in the face of these new developments and new excitements, it is such a thrill to not be gripped by stress at the possibility of all the newness, and instead feel so ready to delve into it and take from its abundance, fully and completely.

Everything changes. Even we do. Provided we allow ourselves to learn, heal and look ahead.

And because I’m so taken by all the fresh newness, here’s a picture I snapped on yesterdays drive, at the exact same spot I snapped it in October, 2017. Wildly green, and so filled with promise.

It’s same-same, but different.

Just like me. Just like all of us.

Two years ago: Day 228: Sunday

Day 227: New way, new life

Postcards from our drive to Goa. 11/12 hours of which were rained out.

And everywhere we looked, signs of life creeping out from everywhere possible, were to be seen.

12 hours of driving thru battering rain, and I’m home.

Day 226: They paved paradise

We’re off to Goa tomorrow. Again. It’s my second time, and VC’s third time in under a month. I cannot complain.

In the meantime, I’m making the most of sweater weather by swapping my usual chai/coffee, beer/wine preference with a fiery pepper rasam instead. It’s 11:30 am and I’m on my second glass.

Look at those billowing grey clouds will ya? How is anyone supposed to get any work done around here?

Huge mixed emotions and heart-tugging feelings for Bangalore have been simmering in my heart, in case it wasn’t evident in yesterdays post (which was also yesterdays newsletter!) And then I woke up to this heartbreaking (but completely spot on) article that paints a horribly accurate picture of the dystopia this city is fast hurtling towards. I am constantly baffled and amazed and very. very exasperated by how more people don’t see it. Or maybe they do and don’t quite know what to do about it. I don’t notice enough exasperation around me. What I see is a numbness and acceptance, which breaks my heart a little bit more.

I’m thankful for the frequent breaks I’ve managed. I’m thankful for the opportunities to recharge batteries every time the city drains them. I’m glad I have the life that doesn’t depend on a gruelling commute like so many millions of people have to go through. I’m glad we can weigh out our options. I’m so grateful for how we’re happy with less. And I’m eternally grateful for the choices we can and have made, which often seem like we’re stepping back, settling for less and choosing oddly, but in the end they’re the only ones that seem to sit right with who we are.

Day 225: Heavy mottled love

It took a rainy, blissfully just-the-right-kind-of-cold week and a fair bit of commuting in the rain last week, to realise that Bangalore rain is amongst the top things I love about this city and living here. Yes, I’m often stuck in traffic when it starts to rain (yes it annoys the shit out of me that stupid traffic jams are a given, an obvious consequence to even the slightest shower, while the city helplessly succumbs to this giant mess) even while I’m quietly snug in a cab or car, plastered to the window. Beneath the irritation though, is a quiet love for this snarling mess of a city that even with its gazillion imperfections has somewhat had an impact on me these past 18 months. So when I think back to the time I have enjoyed here, I’ll remember the rain fondly. Especially the moments spent stuck in traffic watching the patterns trickle down the window, drenching me in an inescapable melancholy for a city that’s dying faster than it can deal with. I feel soaked with a grief for this city I used to, and once again do, call home. For how it has morphed into this colossal wreckage. But I will also remember that it is often in the rain that has inspired me — whether those soft epiphanies that come like the drizzle and neatly punctuate this self-discovery, or the gushing waves of the unquenchable need to write things down — words, sentences, thoughts, all of it. I’ll remember how I frantically pull my phone out and note it all down. Thoughts on the world outside that threatens to swallow us whole, and the solid centre of peace I’ve found within. Within myself. Even as the chaos comes in great amounts when a downpour hits Bangalore, I have found moments of stillness right in there. Stuck to a window, watching the city be washed over by an evening shower. I’m glad for this time. For the lilt of this mad city and how it has shown me that there is joy, even in the unlikeliest, most ugly spaces. Most often that joy is within me. And so I snap pictures hungrily. Because it is the only way for me to remember. Remember what it has been like to be hungry for happiness, and so utterly committed to a journey I cannot put down in words. A journey I have nothing to show for. Nothing but my irrevocable joy of course, at having found my way back home to myself once again.

Two years ago: Day 225: Ele day

Day 222: I request another dream

Today in gratitude: I’m just humbled by how much harmony and peace is possible when life is in flow. The excessive happiness of it comes and goes in glimpses, while I grab at it trying to get a hold and make it stay. But what excites me so much is that the glimpses are more than short moments these days. And they stay long enough so I can soak it up, fill myself, before they flit on by. When they’ve come and gone too, an aftertaste lingers. A contentment hangover. While I ready myself patiently, for the next dream to unfold, the next possibility to unfurl. And on and on it goes.

Gratitude for the work. The ability to do it. To throw myself and delve into to recieve it in abundance. To experience the intensity. To regroup in this energy. Gratitude for life itself.

One year ago: What coming home feels like: finding new comfort in old places
Two years ago: Day 222: Extreme relax

Day 221: I don’t know about my dreaming anymore

It’s not a random occurrence that there is so much talk of food and a more than normal preoccupation with eating well around here. Of late — all through this year actually — food (and my relationship with it) has emerged as a big piece in my story. The need to look at why I was compelled to eat a certain way, or not eat certain things to be more precise, was entirely spurred by a year of shedding so much weight and still feeling a sense of dissatisfaction and emptiness deep down, with regard to the way my body looked and felt. As much as I celebrated how much my body had coped with what I was putting it through, and marvelled at the body’s capacity to transform in such a dramatic way, I was also appalled at how unrealistic my ideals were and how harsh I was being towards my body.

Somewhere in there was also some guilt about even admitting to struggling with this. Because I have never been typically “fat”. And right there was proof. Of my selective blindness, of my denial of the truth, of these wholly unrealistic ideals I was holding myself up to, even as my fitness mantra was one of fitness and not slimness. And a wild discomfort that my newfound thinness had actually given me a license to own by body some. The selfies I was never able to take, were suddenly so easy. Sharing pictures of myself became comfortable. And let’s not even go into how my dressing changed.

I wondered, did it mean I had an inherent need to conform to an accepted standard of shape and size? Did I not feel as kindly towards my body anyway? It was a harsh reality check to wake up to my own double standards and the effect it had on me, my sense of worth and the truth about how how I really felt about my body.

Today, approximately eight months on from when I started to question and examine these aspects of what I hitherto assumed was just a “fitness obsession”, I find myself coming back to me. Regaining parts I’d ignored and shut away. Finding form where there was none. Regaining that sweet spot of a healthy balanced relationship other everything that I put in my mouth. Feeling whole again. Literally and figuratively. Yes my pants are much tighter than they were last year and yes I know how good getting off sugar and rice was — for my skin, for my energy levels more than anything else. But I will not terrorise my body to conform anymore. I have a long way to go, but today I felt like I was in my body again. Wholly, completely myself. No parts missing, no parts feeling heavy or like a burden, nothing I wanted to change. And I want to remember it. For good.

Two years ago: Day 221: On the road

Day 220: Enjoy your privileged life

I’ve noticed in the recent few weeks that every time I make an attempt to get into some sort of rhythm, routine and flow around my home, I don’t get beyond 3-4 days of doing it. I’m talking about a routine around my home. Cooking my meals, knowing what’s in my fridge, stocking up, having a sense of what I want to eat a little beforehand so I am well-prepared to make it happen, sleeping and waking up on time, getting work done alongside, not forgetting to stock up on things like detergent and soap, having laundry cycles happen on time — routine housekeeping basically. When I moved to Bangalore, I was in the kind of headspace where I wanted out of this domesticity. Temporarily at least. I felt like I had given away so much of myself to it, it was beginning to feel like a burden more than anything else. The hows and whys of it are a story in itself, but suffice to say I needed a break, in order to regain some balance. And I got one because we moved to Bangalore and found a home so close to my parents. I realised today, which was again spent in bed thanks to nagging cramps, that I’ve been incredibly lucky.

So every time that I feel the urge or a need for this domestic rhythm of my own again, when I make attempts at rebuilding this routine, only to have it break in mere days, I have been questioning where the need comes from.

Today was day three spent mostly in bed. To go from an intensely emotional high, to more than a couple of days of unexpectedly deep sleep, to getting my period with the regular order of cramps has not been fun. It’s my fourth month of going without painkillers, which is a sign of two things: the pain is less debilitating, and I’m not hating on it or my ladyparts anymore. However, it does mean I have to bear the pain, which I mostly do lying horizontal with a heat pad underneath me.

I’m learning to (and getting better at) listen to my body and work with it rather than against it. So I give in. Thankfully, I finished my only deadline for the week on Monday, amma is back and I’m going over to hers for lunch, so I had the luxury of kicking back and doing the version of Netflix and chill that one does when one is unwilling to get out of bed.

It’s been an incredible privilege and a wonderful opportunity to receive the endless generosity that only parents can extend, and I have taken of it, fully. To the extent that my own home has run half-full at all times. Mostly because I haven’t needed to pay attention to it. I realise now how the kitchen lies at the heart of making a house a home. Because that is the essential function I have not given my full attention since this relocation. This is probably the part-emptiness I try and fill by compelling myself to some routine? I’m not sure as yet.

The luxury of not having to think about meals and sundry domestic needs has also meant I have thoroughly enjoyed the liberty of getting out and about. Whether wandering the city, or travelling out, or committing to a year-long course, and joining VC’s work and being available to up and go wherever and whenever work calls.

It has been such a far cry form my years in Goa, which were mostly about the home. Even with the numerous things I did achieve and do, keeping a home and keeping it going was a large accomplishment. I took pride in cooking all our meals, in playing wife, in creating and nurturing a home that was welcoming for us and anyone else to come into. When our friends circle was larger, ours was the home everyone thronged to when we needed a place for an adda. My life as a freelancer, which also kept me home-bound for the most part, made it necessary for my home to run a certain way for me to be able to function and be productive in there, day after day.

And suddenly something had changed. I wanted out. One of the big reasons I wanted a change fo scene from life in Goa was to get out of home some more, to seek richer, deeper experiences, and to have the opportunity to jump into more things than I was allowing myself to back in 2016.

I’ve really enjoyed this at a time when I really wanted nothing more than to experience life outside my home. And I feel so lucky to have been able to experience this surrounded by my family that has been every bit instrumental — whether they know it or not — in enabling it for me. I’m so grateful for the support. Amma, for feeding me every single day, and filling in for when I have chosen not to cook either by sending over food or having us over. My in laws have us over every single week and invariably, I come away with packed food that takes care of the next meal. I have literally not had to lift a finger too often around here.

The past 18 months or so have been about coming back to myself. Bringing back parts that I had distanced, some that I’d entirely lost sight of, of discovering new sides of myself and putting it all back together — with balance. If the couple of years before leaving Goa had me feeling torn between constantly being home-maker, freelancer, wife, cook, cleaner et all, these past few months have been about reworking these aspects of myself such that no single part overshadows or swallows the other completely.

It is a work in progress, as I’m sure it is likely to be for the rest of my life. But I realised today that it isn’t a process I can do entirely alone. So everything that I have gotten done these past months (it feels like a lot, and I’m not even talking about my “work”) is really the product of this little village that quietly rallies around me. I don’t have the words, not enough of them, to express just how grateful I am for this.

If I am able to unentangle myself from the role of homemaker, it is because my home is already taken care of by VC, mostly while I am not looking. If I am able to eschew cooking all meals, it is because amma unquestioningly steps in to do it. If I am able to take a step back from full-time freelancing, it is because I am looked after. If I feel more whole and closer to myself today, it is because my family has stayed with me unflinchingly.

***

Here’s a picture I snapped last week, in one of the moments of domesticity — I cooked a rather yummy chicken stroganoff and enjoyed a glass of wine (consumed Bev-style) all by myself, while I waited for VC to come home form work.

These moments, rare as they are, are special, because they remind me of my privilege. And I never want to forget that I am so very, very privileged to be living this life that I do.

Day 219: July

Wherever you go, there you are.

A couple of weeks ago, I came under the axe of judgement passed by an ex-employer. And when I got wind of the statements, the unintelligent assumptions/presumptions, the uninformed conclusions they made, I was riled up way more than I imagined I could be.

Purposeless. Directionless. Unfocused. Seeking therapy. Just some of the descriptors used about me. It’s been on my mind ever since. I’m not offended or riled up anymore, but I have been wondering how and why someone who barely knows the insides of my life, especially what I’ve been upto the last 2-3 years, gets off assuming I’m purposeless. And I can only conclude it is because I don’t have any of the obvious markers of “having arrived”. I don’t hold a job. I flit from one thing to the next, whatever takes my fancy. I don’t have the burdens of a family of my own to tend to.

And yet, I’m happy and satisfied.

It doesn’t compute to the average mind, I suppose. The average mind stuck on the hamster wheel of working hard and having a single purpose as the only means to find contentment in life. Even if it comes at the cost of one’s honour, substance and emotional health. We’re a culture chronically obsessed with that kind of measurable achievement as the only tracker of success or happiness, it really saddens me.

My truth is that my only purpose is to enjoy whatever it is I do. Even if it is an entirely new thing everyday. My purpose is to be happy. Healthy. Stable. And I’ll do whatever it takes to get me there. What the average mind stuck on the hamster wheel doesn’t understand is that this too requires commitment, showing up day after day, an unwavering dedication. Even lesser known is the fact that it requires a far higher level of emotional honesty and vulnerability. And to do it without any form of glory or recognition at the end of the line, confuses and befuddles most people.

More and more I’m finding joy in this path, in this manner. Without the obvious gains I used to look for at one time. It’s erratic, it’s unpredictable, it’s downright difficult sometimes. But it has also given me immeasurable joy — the kind no job or form of employment ever has.

The awareness that this is it has been liberating and humbling. And the awareness that this is enough has been so empowering.

In other words, and to borrow from Seth Godin:

Wherever you go, there you are. You’re never going to arrive because you’re already there.

Since May, things have been astir in our lives. Not in an obvious, tangible way. But I’ve carried around a buzzing ball of movement within me, like I’m on the brink of some change, for weeks now. I’ve been edgy with excitement and anticipation because things were beginning to settle in June, showing some sign of what direction they may move in. But it was in July that everything peaked, and suddenly my life has made an unexpected turn again. We’re looking at yet another move.

And yet, looking back now, I can trace a pattern in the events. It makes sense, in retrospect, of course. Not so much when we were in the midst of it, getting from one day to the next. I will always remember July for being the month of a peaceful churn that has gently nudged us towards the next milestone in our journey, while also throwing ample opportunities to rest, travel, enjoy Bangalore and bond with my friends — building a strong foundation of love and comfort that is so needed in the months to come.

And so, we journey on. Throwing ourselves from one experience to the next, borrowing from SG again:

There’s no division between the painful going and the joyous arriving. If we let it, the going can be the joyful part.

More and more I’m finding joy in this path, in this manner. Shifting focus off the elusive goal/destination, and enjoying the ride instead. If this makes me seem purposeless and unfocused to the uninitiated and woefully unaware, so be it.

***

Rest and Recreation
There were naps. So many naps.
But I made the most of rainy Bangalore days with brunch
Before I ran off to Kerala
Returning to rainy days spent in coffee shops
Before I jetted off to Goa pretty much soon after
Where I worked for a few days and then resumed the R&R

Rumination
On gender, discomfort and self-hate
On the 5 books I read
On returning back to normalcy after a whole lot of fun
On friendship and happiness in Bangalore

Travel
Kerala is so frikking greeeeen in the monsoon!
It was also incredibly wet
But the silence was impeccable
Goa was green. And wet too.
And invariably gives me reasons to breathe and flow
And overwhelms me with the good energy and contentment
There were dog pics. Lots of them.
Because they’re serious distractions
A good trip is one that makes you feel like you’re back in your skin again
And leaves a happy afterglow

Gratitude
For family, friendship and for food
From journeying with my father
For Goa, for friendship, for dogs and where my life is today

One month ago: Day 184: June
Two month ago: Day 152: May
Three months ago: Day 134: April

Four months ago: Day 92: March
Five months ago: Day 60: February
Six months ago: Day 32: January

One year ago: What coming home feels like: kinship, quietude and becoming

Day 218: It’s the house telling you to close your eyes

P A U S E.

Clearly, I had a lot to say yesterday. Reading the post now, I sound like I am high on drugs. But I swear, it was just emotions. I’ve been feeling like my heart could explode with the joy, humility and gratitude that this coursework has brought into my life. That kind of intense emotional experience is frikking exhausting, though.

So my plans to enjoy my Sunday of solitude catching up on reading or the new season of OITNB, finally cleaning out my cupboard (a task thats been overdue since my summer vacation) were shot. I spent an inordinate amount of time sleeping. I did watch some OITNB, but I kept falling asleep. I took a really long afternoon snooze, despite which I slept through the night and woke up with only enough time to scramble and make it to yoga on time this morning. And yet, I have spent a considerable amount of time today in bed too.

I feel like I am only just surfacing. So I caught up on some work that was due today, and I feel done for the day. So my plans for today — to write the post recapping July — have been successfully shot too.

Absolutely no complains though. I notice this happens to me every time I finish a module of the course. It did, last month too. These are necessary days of repose and recuperation after what this work takes of us. I’ll take them when I can.

I’ll be back tomorrow.

Two years ago: Day 218: Stack overflow

Day 217: Hold on to this feeling, when dreaming of leaving

It’s a perfect, perfect morning.

It’s threatening to rain. But it’s also mildly sunshiney. It’s crisp today, the kind of crisp I can snap perfectly in two if I tried.

I’m listening to this, really loud. It seems to fit.

My heart feels like it’s overflowing river today. I can’t contain it. Everything is beautiful.

Also, I’m all alone. This is the first time since I’ve been back in Bangalore that I am utterly, completely home alone. VC is back in Goa for the weekend. Amma and anna are in Bombay since mid-last week. Niyu has been in Bombay for a while longer, and I haven’t actually met her in a month (and I miss her so).

I’ve had the most fantastic four days at the just concluded module of my course. It has been powerfully emotional, and I think there is something about needing time and space to process this that made this a good time to have this space alone.

I imagined I’d be holed up, cocooning myself at home because I’m usually pretty emotionally and mentally exhausted after doing this work. Previous workshops in this series have always left me completely drained, in need of quiet recuperation at home, eating wholesome food, drinking plenty of water and getting all the sleep I can. However, surprising especially given how powerful the therapy has been this time around and it’s impact that I am feeling reverberating inside me even now, I have been buzzing with an energy that is hard to explain. I don’t know where it has come from, but I have been flowing with it.

On Wednesday evening post class, I walked over to Koshys to have a cup of tea and wait for S who was going to join me for dinner. I had a good two hours to myself, and it warmed my heart that I feel so at home there, a single order of tea and a single cutlet are enough to drag out over two hours.

When S joined me, we chatted and chatted non stop and animatedly over beer, fish cutlets and beef fry, while it poured and poured outside.

On Thursday night we went over to VC’s folks’ for dinner. I was mostly mellow, my mind scattered even though I was physically present. Perhaps internally, I knew what was to come on Friday (which is when I did open out my work). And what a day that was. Deeply thought-provoking, emotionally draining, pushing all the touch-points I’ve been guarding away from being exposed to this work so far. But it really felt like things were building up to just push me to the level of openness and vulnerability that it needs, and that I am finally ready for.

So when it was time and my turn, I really did feel so ready for it. I came away feeling raw, yet liberated, so light and free that initially I beat myself up a bit for delaying this and keeping it waiting for so long. But sleeping over it, I know now that this was the perfect time for it. This was my time. It could not have been any other way. I had to lay out the path, do the preparatory work, peel back the older layers before I got to the crux of what’s been sitting inside of me for so long.

Funnily though, intense as the therapy was (and therapy usually has me cancelling the rest of the day in favour of sleeping), I came out very willing to go out and do something. Specifically wanting to engage, feel uplifted and just go with that flow.

I did the most unlikely thing. Unlikely given it was post therapy, and it was 7 pm on a Friday night in Bangalore. I drove across town to Indiranagar to meet S for dinner. It was meant to be an early and quick thing. I didn’t plan to drink. And I thought it might have been good to aim to come home and get some sleep. But all those plans were shot to bits once we began talking.

Remember how I mentioned I’m thoroughly enjoying watching the women around me come into their own? It was an evening that completely, thoroughly reaffirmed that for me. I ended up with a pink drink, and we were completely engrossed in conversation from the word go. There was deeply gratifying laughter, intensely personal sharing that brought some tears, and a very heartwarming connection over what’s going on inside of us. And I can tell you one thing for sure, at this point watching S as she flowers into this impeccably happy, solid on the inside, sure-of-herself person, even as she’s tearing up telling me about her anxieties, and sharing her deepest, current vulnerability is all kinds of joyful.

There was gyoza, dimsum and stirfried lamb to be eaten. And then the biggest slice of a gooey chocolate cake. I ate it all, and even so, the food wasn’t a patch on the way the company and conversation filled me up.

It’s amazing to sense this kind of transformation and feel such deep resonance over it. It’s transformation from the inside, that requires little explanation on the outside. She mentioned a quietly altered bio that reflected the big, bold shifts that are shaking her inner core, and I heaved a sigh of relief because it was everything (and then some) that I have been working through myself, at times feeling very alone. It’s everything I have refrained from talking about — in real life (save a couple of people I am very close to) or online even as I post here everyday. It was everything that I needed to hear from someone as articulate and sound in thinking, as she is.

There is immense liberation in women coming together over shared experiences. And I came away feeling extremely grateful for this connection I share with S. I have a theory that women sparkle on the outside, when they’re sparkling on the inside. I believe it even more today.

I’m only now seeing the difference between change at a cerebral level — when ideas sound aspirational or desirable and I can embrace them in the realm of the cognitive — and a deepened, shape-shifting sort of change that happens within, inside my gut, in the depths of my mind, at a cellular level. This is where it is most unsettling, when my insides feel like they’re in churn and everything is up in the air, and I’m counting down backwards slowly, waiting to see what shape and form the new settled will take.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday were long and very intense days at class. Plenty of learning, way too many aha moments for me to compute and that require me to allow myself to marinade in some quiet for a while longer. We did some amazing written and movement exercises that are going to be etched in my mind for weeks to come. Something has shifted for good inside of me, and I’m revelling in this energy it’s brought with it.

I came home on Saturday to finally enjoy the alone time I have had for days now, but have been too busy to really sink into. A hot salt bath was taken, momos and hakka noodles were ordered, two pieces of dark chocolate studded with orange peel were consumed, and I was in bed by 8 pm ostensibly reading. I didn’t last very long, before I complete passed out.

The next thing I knew, it was 8 am today. I had been asleep for nearly 11 hours. I feel rested, filled-up, content and so alive today, it’s not even funny.

One year ago: Book ends
Two years ago: Day 218: So green

Day 215: And you were an island to discover

Yesterday I began the day with a head that was burdened and heavy with thoughts. A combination of little grief at bitter new realisations, the frightening reality of new possibilities and sorrow for time gone by spent being a certain way feeling a single emotion, forgetting the rainbow of emotions that surround it. My heart was heavy, my being felt raw and vulnerable.

During the day there were a couple of powerful aha moments, some tears, a lot of giggles. A switch snapped in my head and a whole new world in front of me.

By the end of the day, my heart had opened up. A lightness puffed up in my chest. My head felt bright and clear. Energetically, it was the diametric opposite of the way I felt just eight hours before. And that, is the beauty and gift of this therapy I’m learning.

As I walked back I realised how wonderful it has been to experience this work at this juncture in my life. I almost feel like this has been the purpose of being in Bangalore. The serendipity of it overwhelms me. There is something to be said about readiness, and about wanting something desperately, so the universe moves mountains to take you to it. The means, they always exist. The path unfurls moment to moment, when the time is right. I only need to be open and flow with it.

Two years ago: Day 215: Moving on

Day 214: Red sky, red light, awakening

Yesterday was a day like hot chocolate. Warm enough to stir things up from within. Envigorating and charged. But comforting, flavourful and like a hug in a cup.

Two years ago: Day 214: Cycling in the rain

Day 213: If it is written in the stars, then it can be read

With the promise of more Goa days dangling ahead of me like the proverbial carrot-on-a-stick, the idea that lures me the most, strangely enough, is of cycling again. Cycling in the rain, to be precise. I read this post yesterday and felt especially nostalgic, the pangs of a time gone by never to return, yanking the soft spots in my mind.

My time in Bangalore has been so full and otherwise occupied, I haven’t actively had the space to mourn the lack of cycling in my life. I haven’t really missed it. I don’t. Until I am in Goa of course. And the empty roads flanked by paddy fields fills my chest up with the kind of openness and calm that I know I am missing even when I don’t realise it.

VC has actually attempted to cycle around in Bangalore. He’s far more determined than J am to give it a go every now and then, despite every attempt fizzling out sooner than later. I, on the other hand, haven’t even assembled my bike back together since it was taken apart to be transported here. In retrospect, I feel I should have left it back, so I could use it whenever I visit.

But even before I dismantled it to pack and move, I hadn’t been on a ride in a long time. It’s been nearly two years, collectively. The very last time I was in the saddle was the 100km ride I completed in October, 2016.

Incidentally, that was also during the last of the rains for the year, making way for October’s punishing heat, a little bit of an excuse of winter where temperatures dip just enough to make it hard to rise early and get out, and then summer again. During which time I moved. So yeah, I’m really suddenly thinking wistfully, of the times we’d take off on weekend mornings. Managing to wake up earlier than normal, riding off in the dark, with some music and a few 100 rupees between us. That’s all it took. And the levels of satisfaction were exponentially high.

The promise of Goa days loom large and right up there, at the top of the list of things I miss and can’t wait to go back to, is riding my bike. Preferably in the rain.

***

Meanwhile, in Bangalore too, we’re enjoying the best kind of Bangalore weather. Grey, sunless, sometimes-raining, great-to-be-outdoors kind of weather that is making me reach for my shawl and book at midday.