It’s been close to two years since our last big holiday — once an annual thing in our lives — and apart from the recent getaway (VC missed it btw), I can’t seem to recollect the last time the hugsband and I went on a holiday with no agenda but to unwind. VC is mostly immune to this need, feeling the pangs of wanderlust maybe once a year, or less. I was the one with the constant ants-in-pants, wheels-on-heels condition. So it is somewhat odd yet comforting, in retrospect, to note that that familiar get-up-and-go itch has not reared its head in a while.
Part of it is that life has become so all-consuming, it leaves no room to want to get out and do something else. But while the desire to travel seems to be temporarily hibernating, earlier this month I acknowledged the very real issue of having to get out of this gharelu cocoon I have built around me. It’s really easy to get comfortable in here and puts me in the headspace where things amble on endlessly, with me plodding away with my routine every single day, going through the same motions on repeat. Until, bam! Suddenly one I realised it would soon be April and I hadn’t even set one foot forward with some of the things I wanted to finish by mid-2014. There’s nothing wrong with being gharelu, per se. God knows, I love it like I haven’t loved anything in a long time. But it is one of the downsides of being self-employed and owning your time. You have so much of it that sometimes you lose track of where and how you’re spending it. While I was busy baking, cooking, gymming, and just being a home-bred chicken, time was zipping by and I realised that I needed get away in order to get some work done. The kind of work that will not be interrupted by the impossible-to-quell desire to bake a cake or set my cutlery in order, or finish reading a book, or cook an unnecessary elaborate meal for no apparent reason, or fit in an extra run in a day that has already had its fill of endorphins. Who knew every day life could be so distracting?
So I decided to take myself out of this physical space that lures me into a tangle of impossibly high levels of activity. Some distance was necessary. I considered checking into a nice home-stay/resort in Goa but quickly decided it wasn’t worth the indulgence. I was slacking off on my self-made deadlines. The last thing I needed was a reward. I contemplated checking out of life as I know it, cutting back on things like chores, gym, and my monthly writing gigs, to lock myself in and write. But I don’t trust myself around my home. It’s like locking a child up, in a candy store. I can find distraction where distraction doesn’t know it exists.
Scratch that. Hanging out at home was a bad idea. But it needed to be a homely place where I wouldn’t have to think about the basics like food, shelter, peace and quiet. So, I did the next best thing I could think of. I went home. To Bangalore.
So ironic. I escaped the cocoon of my own home, in Goa. To go to the urban crawl that is Bangalore. To write. But, it was a trip like no other I’ve made at home. First of all because I did very little outside home, because for a change, it wasn’t a holiday for leisure. I had a plan and I wanted to make sure it worked out. So I met practically nobody, stayed in at home, got a fair bit of my writing done, while ignoring the world outside.
It was also the first time I went back home alone, since I left in 2008. Every other trip before this has been either with VC or for a specific purpose like meeting the sister, my grandmother or to attend a function. Either way, it always ends up being a big reunion of sorts, splitting my days in a tight schedule of ticking off things to do, and visiting as many people as I can. So it was good to have no prior agenda, because for a change I got to live the life the way I used to before I got married. Sleeping in my bed, in my bedroom. Waking up to home made breakfasts and filter coffee. Lounging around, catching up on reading, writing and watching TV and movies with my folks (I carried the whole Oscar list of movies for them and we watched many of them together). Eating meals together in the kitchen I have grown up eating in. Cackling away with my mother as my father watched on with a smirk on his face, happy to have the noise back in his home, I think.
Like I said the last time I visited, Bangalore has become all about home, rather than the other way around. It’s comforting that no matter what changes around you, within you or in your life, there will always be home to go back to. A home that is still as vibrant with energy, colourful, cheerful and happy just the way it has been for as long as you remember. That dinette that I have dined at for almost two decades, gulping down dosas and chapaties as they got made and amma just kept them coming. The frothy filter coffee she makes fresh every morning by passing it through two tumblers, painstakingly, every single time. My father’s garden, garden furniture and unused dark room that has and probably always will remain a shoe closet! The den that holds all the books I’ve gathered thru life, the same collection my mother begs me to sort through but I just can’t get myself to do. The treadmill that doubles up as a towel drying stand. The bathrooms with the perfume of freshener. The super high bed in my parents bedroom that we pile ourselves on to and watch TV. The stool in the bathroom that’s always placed just so. While everything else might undergo sea change, home will always be homely. It was good to go back and immerse myself in that a little, no strings attached.
This time around I even minimised visits to VCs home, in order to cut all distractions and focus on my work. It worked wonders. I was much more relaxed without the stress of having to be in both homes at once. It’s amazing but it’s taken me five years of constantly playing see-saw to finally take a stand, choose the home I am comfortable in and stay put without looking for a reasonbeyond because I want to do. For once I didn’t hide behind excuses, told it as it was, and best of all, didn’t feel the twinge of guilt that inevitably follows. It helped that VC cornered me into taking this stand, forcing me to man up and not succumb to the unrealistic expectations of daughters in laws.
The only person I did catch up with was N after, what I was convinced was, a whole decade. It’s wonderful how so many years can pass with little to no interaction, but when you meet an old friend, the conversation flows, life updates speak volumes about how far we have come, and we end up having more in common than we probably imagined. I’m glad I made time for this one. N, I wish we had taken a picture to remember it!
Aside from that, Amma and I made our mandatory trip to the neighbourhood steel patram store. My idea of retail therapy, where many shiny, happy new kitchen goodies were acquired.
The parents and I ate out at a brand new Thai restaurant, so good that we went back for seconds at the end of the trip. The city didn’t disappoint me as much as it usually does but this probably has to do with the fact that I didn’t venture out.
I’m grateful for the break. Even though it was just from one home to another home. It was just the distance I needed. Perhaps there is some truth to that Seth Godin quote about setting up a life you shouldn’t have to escape, because I’m beginning to find some solace and make some sense of why I want to mostly stay cooped up at home. Soaking up the homeliness, not indulging in people, wanting to write and read like my life depends on it, taking a side and sticking up with it without diplomatically pissing off my in-laws — it was such a refreshingly different trip. It took going back home to remind me where I will always be welcome. At home, where things will always remain the same.