Goa was gloriously hot when I came back from Bangalore. Dull skies with these tantalisingly grey heavy clouds looming large, but no rain to speak of. Several sessions of catching up with friends over chai and cake managed to rub it in some more, just how wonderfully rainy it was for exactly those same days I was away. I had missed all the monsoon action and was experiencing severe FOMO.
Its always lovely to be back in the safe, snuggly arms of my home after a trip away. Even if the trip is back to the original home — the mothership — the feeling of walking back into my own home is kind of special. I came back from Bangalore determined to slow down and pick up life where I had left off. Yes life, because it was only when I came home and looked around did I notice just how far back I had let everything “normal” slip. Eating out at an alarming frequency, my kitchen was so badly stocked. A look around the house would have given you a clue that neither I nor the hugsband had had the energy to worry about dusty corners and cobwebs. My desk was scattered with remnants of “important things” but that I had no memory of and no recollection of why they might even be important. My balcony plants were, err how do I put it, dead. The yard was (still is. I haven’t managed to get it cleaned out) overgrown, two bulbs in the staircase had fused eons ago but we just hadn’t bothered getting them fixed. So every time I entered the house post sunset, I had to scramble up in the dark. And somehow we preferred that to getting them fixed. So you get the idea.
It didn’t help that I cam back from holiday with the most violent flu and throat infection I’ve had in a long long time. Its been so long since I fell sick, I forgot what my basic anti-histamine used to be. As soon as I landed in Goa, I was home bound, with a raging fever, exhaustion, blocked nose, severe cough and the works with everything in between. I gave it a few days of plain old Crocin, self-medication and home remedies, before I decided this was a mean bug and needed antibiotics. So overall it took a good long while to go away, and I wanted to be up and about before my folks landed.
But I quickly learned, that the slow-down time I was fantasising about, was not to be. It was a busy month, I felt like I was on overdrive for the most part, even when I was home doing perfectly mundane things. So much happened, I tried several times to come and post here, because I had so much to say. But most of it just ended up in half written posts that fizzled out the minute it was time to get up and go shopping for groceries. Or rush to the gym. Or go away for the weekend with my folks. Or drive my sister to Siolim. Or some such.
We had a fun week planned, of mostly chilling at home. Cooking out bums off, gallivanting around Panjim because they’re not into the touristy things, and mostly come here to decompress from their regular routine and spend time with us. Hot meals, shared at the dining table, with extra stools dragged in to seat us all, lingering around with laughter and chatter, long after the meal is done and our fingers had gone dry is usually the hallmark of a good holiday with the parents.
We have a few stock places to go to, and I indulge my parents by letting them do the little things around my house that they like to. My mother always wants to stock up my kitchen with essentials she thinks I must have. My father wants to potter about, haul me some new plants, or get my car cleaned, or put up some more painting. My sister, stuck in the middle just goes with the flow and hangs out. It’s a different kind of family time when you host your parents, instead of the other way round. And I really love it.
This time though, we took off and went away to Divar Island to spend the Independence day long weekend at a beautiful homestay, with the most wonderful family hosting us. It deserves a separate post, but it always makes my heart skip a few beats to know that I can drive out just 20 minutes, take a boat across the river and be transported to an island that is stuck in time. So close to home, and yet so far out.
The boys (the hugsband and the father) rode their bikes to the island and back. It was awfully hot to be out cycling, but one can never really get between boys and their plans that involve their toys. So while my mother, sister and I reached the island refreshed and relaxed, the hugsband and my father reached there sweaty, pink and exhausted.
We spent the weekend swimming in the pool, drinking cocktails, eating home cooked food, chatting with the hosts and amongst ourselves, finding out own quiet corners to escape into, hired bikes in the evening cycled around in the evening and crashed early.
It was just what I needed. Home food, conversation, some reading, a pool, lots of homemade cocktails, a khau-suey meal and best of all, no cell phone coverage. Is this what a staycation is like? I could do it more often.
A little rain might have made the weekend even more perfect, but I’m not complaining. The first half of August had come and gone without so much as a moment to stop and catch my breath. Every day had a plan, a new activity and I’m not sorry I was busy. I loved having my family over. The folks stayed with us for a week, and the sister was here for an extended trip until the end of the month — and as always, it makes me realise how different normal life is, as opposed to how it is when you have people staying with you.
The feeling of an extended holiday showed no signs of ending. Mentally, I was in limbo. In between all of this, there was a sudden spike in H&E orders. I cracked an idea and perfected what might be the next addition on the menu — an orange and almond cake. And I baked 15 cakes in 15 days.
That seems to be the way with the orders. I only every have spikes, with dull lulls in between. But the spikes always remind me how much I like to bake, just how exciting the process still feels even thought I’ve baked over a hundred cakes by now. I love figuring out new things, doing a little something differently each time, packing up the cake and sending off a happy client.
My hands were full with baking, juggling a couple of skype sessions to line up some work for the next few months, and also wrapping up some IFBM commitments. So I had little time to entertain the sister as much as I usually would. She spent most of her time working on a mural in my balcony. It features, you guessed it, a haathi. But the hugsband only let it pass if it had some element of him in it too. So the haathi? He’s riding a unicycle, if you please. It fits the space in my balcony perfectly and I’m rather pleased with how it turned out.
We ate out a fair bit, sampling the new Thai place, catching cocktails at a new joint in town, where I was also invited for a wine tasting the previous night. Its been a very full month as far as eating and drinking goes. I took a bit of a break form the fitness because it was just too much to keep it all going, and by the end of it, I was raring to get back and lift some weights.
It was just as well that most of our day time was spent indoors (and accompanied by cool beverages :)) because the heat spiked some time last week and I was convinced the monsoon is over. It felt like summer all over again. Blue skies, patchy fluffy clouds, bright hot sun, not a rain cloud in sight.
We were back to sweating our backsides off, and it might as well have been May all over again. If the skies hadn’t been so pretty, I might have been way pissed, but some part of me believed the rain wasn’t done.
One look at the sky and you wouldn’t think its possible to expect more rain. October-skies were in full bloom. In August! Shiny streaks of white clouds floating by. I even sent out an exasperated prayer, asking for a light drizzle, just to feel some relief. I have this theory that when the heat spikes unnaturally high, and it reaches the unbelievable and impossible to bear point, the only way ahead is a cloudburst.
And just as I had predicted, against everybody’s hopes, burst it did.
And of course, it hasn’t stopped since. It went on and on for 7 days straight, I kid you not. No rest. The last 3 days of it were relentless, without even slowing down to a drizzle. Pounding rain, so bad you would have laughed if I told you it was bright, hot and sunhiney just a week ago.
This isn’t normal for this time of year. The monsoon has been so scant, its worrisome. We’re not used to the late start followed by the patchy heavy spells with bright summery weather in between. This is not the Goan monsoon I know. But there’s good news, finally. Our water-table has been replenished, we’ve hit the healthy, safe mark. The paddy fields look lush and I think things are not going to be as bad as I imagined at the end of summer when the monsoon showed almost no signs of coming at all. But this pattern is scary, and I don’t know how we can begin as a community, but we need to fix this. I wonder where we can begin to make a u-turn.
I had my eyes on a relaxed, slow August at the end of the crazy run-up and the event that was IFBM, but it has been anything but that. I am relaxed and at peace, but its been a full month in so many other ways. I’m looking at picking up some work, a few exciting prospects brewing, I have my eyes on finishing up a personal project before the end of the year, and I want to ramp up the H&E menu too. Almost as if by magic, this busy-ness, it suddenly feels so good.