So dang happy to be…I’m afraid to say it…back to normal. Well, in as much as is possible right now, anyway.
It’s probably a product of some conditioning plus early upbringing/disciplining that made me harbour a fair bit of unnecessary guilt and shame around minor indulgences. Well into my adulthood I’ve had this ghost lingering around, asserting high expectations of when one is worthy of an indulgence, and even when one indulges, what kind of indulgence is permissable.
Little things like a daily coffee, a totally self-indulgent ritual that I might have enjoyed, or similar small “guilty” pleasures (why do we even call it that?!) — I’ve always kind of kept them hidden till just a few years ago. Even when I lived in Goa with absolutely nobody keeping tabs on no, nobody to answer to, I felt the compulsive need to build up and make convincing excuses to sound like I deserved a break or an indulgence.
I walked into Third Wave yesterday and had such a rush from the smell of that freshly roasted coffee that was so achingly familiar, that I have missed for a whole year now. The familiar faces behind the counter smiling behind from their masks and visors, eyes lit up to say hello to me, they even remembered my standard order — it was a thrill. The cafe was packed, buzzing with people working from “home” and it made me so nostalgic for 2019, through which I spent almost nearly 4-5 afternoons at this very cafe. Working, writing, reading, dreaming, chatting with whoever sat next to me, sometimes just sitting in silence drinking a cold brew or a hot tea all by myself.
And I thought, I’d really like to bring back that simple, everyday joy again. I said this to a bunch of clients the other day and I feel it is so applicable to me, I could do with the reminder — often.
The effects of simple joys, everyday beauty, small acts are seriously understated. If you grew up in a middle-class home in the 80s-90s, or in circumstances where simple pleasures felt like big, underserved indulgences, maybe you’ll relate?
I see now, as an adult, that it needn’t be something outlandish or opulent (though there is a time and place for that if youcan afford it, I suppose. Everyone’s idea of, and appetite for, indulge is different) and in fact the simpler and easier it is to access and make possible, the better. I have found joy in small things like a brisk walk to Third Wave, a quietly sipped hot tea, and a walk back. And for me, it doesn’t take much than that on any given day. There have been times I bought myself flowers on the way home. Or I stopped to pick up an aloo-bun at the bakery I pass. Or I met up with VC at where he was and took a ride back home together.
And then I thought of my weekly-solo-breakfast-someplace-out ritual from 2017-18 and how much that used to set me up for the week. I’d get my weekly fix of getting out of the home, of eating something nice that I’d plan to eat in advance, of spending some time by myself and sometimes even catching up with a friend later on. I no longer eat breakfast, but maybe there’s some scope to adapt the idea of that ritual in some way.
There was also my Sunday-morning-walk-followed-by-breakfast date with D that was such a good marker in the week. An excellent way to finish the week and yet start the Sunday off well. We’ve done it off and on post lock-down, but life and travels have made it hard to get back to the routine like we had going pre-COVID.
I miss the rituals. I miss those small joys. I miss the comfort of that rhythm. The predictable, unfaltering promise of fun in these routines. Now that we’re getting out, one way or another, masks on and sanitiser at hand, I am craving this kind of normalcy.
One would imagine Goa was a holiday time for us. But in reality I worked harder in November and December, than I did the entire year. Even the first two weeks of the new year that we spent in Goa were chock full of work. VC went off on a work trip to Calcutta and back and continued to work from home almost right through. The added difference this time was we were committed to getting out often and making the most of being in Goa.
We had really gotten into the swing of normal life there. A balanced, routine existence that since being back here took some time to regain. And then I went back and forth twice to my parents’ in just ten days and somehow that’s two weeks just whizzed by in this holiday like haze. Mildly disorienting because we’d returned from “holiday” to “real life”. Last weekend though, after days of trying to get back to my routine and finding my feet (and succeeding some) I swung back into action. Inevitably, a tsunami of work flowed in after and I have been swimmingly busy since the start of this week. And oddly, there is promise of normalcy in this.