This is us. Really.

So I binge watched This Is Us, after all. Catching up on seven weeks of tear-jerking developments in the lives of the Pearsons over two days. I think after that slight dip in the story arc last season, things have picked up again. On the up side, I did not cry. But as always, as always, there were some insights that cut closer to the bone than I imagine this show can.

Fresh off the workshop I did here in Goa, one thing that hit me the hardest was the episode where Randall and Kate recollect a particular day in their lives, and it turns out they both have wildly opposing memories of the same exact event. The recollection of the event spurs them to make an impromptu visit to their childhood home and they’re both in shock and in awe at how the very same event they experienced had left them both seeing it entirely differently, much like the shock and awe I experienced at the diametrically opposing emotions I felt at viewing a set of pictures over a gap of 24 hours.

I felt so much resonance with the episode with Beth and how the strong, internalised messages of not showing emotion, working hard, being “sorted” and moving on has shaped her life. Especially her waking up to this reality in adulthood.

The one that touches on teaching children to deal with “failure”, about how there are no mistakes, just transgressions and diverging options, about how there is always the chance to course correct. Oh I felt that so hard.

The entire show, across generations has this strong, underlying constant thread of how parents only ever do the very best they can. Always. Always. And I have come to feel this so much in my adulthood.

There is also a reiterating theme of how the “path” may feel wrong at a particular point in time, but it always has gifts to offer. A capacity for honesty and grace to change perspectives makes all the difference.

These are things we all experience and have the capacity to experience. This is true for all of us. This is who we are.

This is us. Really.

One year ago: Let’s get one thing straight now
Two years ago: Whisky-shisky

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Home away from home kind of feeling

It’s been the strangest, nicest stay in Goa this time around. Unlike every one of my visits over last year, where I had an agenda and work to get done — whether we were on shoot, or I came down to help get the house in order and done up — this time around I had no plans. Nothing to occupy me except my own whim. I also got a lot of my own work done ahead of game this month, so I had plenty of time on my hands.

I imagined this would free me up to be out and about a lot, but on the contrary, I’ve spent a most of my time on my own. At home, and outside. But on my own. I’m once again in a very inward state of mind, and being free of external encumbrance has meant that I have been still a little more, staying more.

Consequently, I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone even when I did step out. I went to the beach alone, I haven’t done that in years. I caught up with C over breakfast and then a couple of hours sitting in the sunshine in the municipal garden. I spent entire days with A, something I have probably unconsciously shied away from these past few visits, I wandered around my neighbourhood, I drove to the airport and back to pick VC up, I spent a weekend with VCs college buddy and family mostly entertaining and being entertained by a 2-year old who was 100% more interesting than any of the adults.

At home, I’ve caught up on reading, I’ve watched way too many terrible Hindi movies (I’m embarrassed to say how many — some days I watched more than one a day) , I’ve cooked most meals at home (we’ve only eaten out twice since I got here!), I’ve managed to get more exercise than I usually do when I come here (though the last week was disappointing in this regard), and still I haven’t felt that restlessness I usually do when I come here. That restlessness to get shit done — to tick things off my wishlist, to go places, to meet people, to garden, to paint chairs, to fix shit or whatever else — has found some stillness.

I’ve just stayed put for a change. I didn’t plan this. It didn’t take deliberation. It has happened mostly because, for a change, I’ve listened to the cues and followed them, I think.

***

Staying always has incredible advantages. When the rumble of life comes to a slow whir, and my breathing normalises, when there is an almost-uncomfortable silence about me, is when some unshakeable realisations happen. These are moments when I least expect them to happen. I’m learning to welcome them, without having my world temporarily fall apart because of them.

There’s been a fair number of those.

Thoughts about Goa. About home.

Thoughts about friendship. Of letting go.

Thoughts about where to next?

Thoughts about change. And growth.

***

Gratitude, today, for the opportunity of this time. For the solitary state of mind Goa inspires in me. For all the forces that have worked at unearthing things within me that have brought me this far, to this milestone.

One year ago: I still remember, when we did not have the answers

As Goa as it gets

I have an internal map of Goa in my mind. And it is riddled with pins dropped in every nook and cranny of the state — places that dot the landscape of the entire memory I have of the place. Not just physical spaces, locations, but places that evoke feelings, feelings that bring back memories, memories that draw out faces of people I knew and know. And because I am sentimental, that map is alive and thriving, getting updates in real time. Even when a memory is sometimes somewhat hazy, it takes very little for it to jog itself back to the fore, brightening up like a bulb turned on suddenly. A mere mention of that fish thali, a faint passing recollection of that one monsoon 100 km cycle ride, an aching memory of the countless Sunday evening G&Ts at my favourite sunset spot, the joy of that urrak smuggled from the neighbourhood restaurant — and just so many other things — all come rushing back to life.

For the entire duration of the two years that I have been away, I haven’t been able to conclusively decide where I belong. If Goa was a home that I have left, or if Bangalore was always the home that I have returned to.

My life in Goa (and every single thing about my experience here) is so key to my sense of self and who I am, even after all that has happened and after two years of living away, that I sometimes feel I’m split in half. Rendered perpetually torn.

The real-time map in my head makes me feel like I know Goa like the back of my hand. And I do. It’s here where the streets are wide open, the coconut trees stretching over to meet, the salty breeze and muggy air that is so quintessentially special to here, that I’ve roamed around so much all by myself. Driving to faraway beaches, scoping out eateries in distant nooks, seeking out stories and interviews with people doing interesting things, visiting friends in places all the way down south, staying alone on assignment in strange and fascinating hotels, and so much more. I took most, almost all, of these trips alone. They’ve contributed to who I am. And the map is a reminder of all that I’ve been and felt in the years gone through.

There are the parts that signal the newness. A decade old bittersweet semi-excited, semi-shitting-bricks euphoria. My first home, the store right outside that refused to deliver milk to my door, the pao-bhatti that I frequented ever so often. There is the drive down Miramar to office to work. My first workplace in Goa that would be the longest I’ve ever been employed. The days of trying to walk back home in an attempt to get some exercise again. Stopping at our favourite bars on the way home and making last minute plans so everybody would congregate. Endless meals of greasy Chinese and too much consumption of alcohol and other narcotics.

There is the spot that marks fond memories of barbecues past. Of jumping into pools with my jeans on. Of gathering 65 bottles of beer when we were done.

There’s remnants of memories from that daily beach running that eventually wrecked my knees. Of finding a gym that made me fall in love with weights. Of discovering kick boxing and finding true love in my trainers there.

There’s the years spent writing and writing and writing. Blogging. Professionally. Reviewing restaurants. Food blogging. Home baking. Cake selling. Full-time freelancing. The whole nine yards.

There were three home changes. Each home giving me a set of special things to love. Th smallness of the first one matched perfectly with our cluelessness. The open green field view in the second. And priceless neighbours and a promise of the hidden recluse in me in the third.

There was the brush with learning to salsa, jive and bachata. There were innumerable different groups of acquaintances and some friends. Plenty more people I met and knew through work. And the inevitable clashing of all circles and the world closing in.

There was angst about the ex workplace. There was angst about knowing too many people. There was angst about running out of work. There was angst about inadequate internet speeds. There was angst about having to work too hard as a writer reporting in Goa. There was angst about being the lonely isolated writer in my den.

There were the silent noise parties in Palolem, the projector parties every monsoon, the rooftop movie marathons, the holidays bhaang parties and the office Diwali parties. There were the Friday morning visits to Mapusa market, the Sunday morning fish market jaunts, chasing the sunrise at Divar, cycling to save my life all over Goa.

There was so much. Each phase, each year, each stage a page in my Goan chronicles. And in so many ways I feel I’ve lived in so many different Goas. The map in my mind, is very real. It’s as Goa as it gets for me.

***

Today, I had a quintessentially Goa day. A thali for lunch with A, some aimless wandering in our old haunts, window-shopping for export rejects and fighting a nap because we had too much to talk about. An unexpectedly extended evening there also meant another round at the market. I always feel crippled by nostalgia there, seeing the fisherwomen with their baskets laden with fish lined along the streets. So wistfully I stepped towards one of them and pulled out my phone to snap a picture fully expecting her to smile. Except she rolled up the newspaper she was reading and swatted me on my shin, startling me completely. I nearly dropped my phone in shock and had to make a run for it.

Serves me right for making like an annoying tourist.

Even as I was startled, it was such an endearingly hostile move. It made me grin wide. That’s just such a Goa thing to happen! I thought. And it might have been the highlight of my very Goa day, if I hadn’t wound up at the carnival square where the red and white dance for the year was about to begin. It’s carnival week here in Goa and I didn’t anticipate I’d head to the thick of the action, eat beef croquettes, fish cutlets and drink Urak out of a Thailand-style bucket, all while listening to Maria Pitache.

Two urraks down, laced with slit green chillies, lots of lime and a good dash of salt, and a grilled beef wrap in me, I think this entire day, today, is as Goa as it gets.

That map just stretched itself a little bit more today, and wrapped itself around me.

One year ago: Hit the road, Jack 
Two years ago: Kitchen soup for the homesick soul
Three years ago: Why Facebook just feels like a lot of noise

Reboot

So it’s happened for the first time in over a year of writing everyday, I, err, totally forgot to post today. And now I feel a little stupid because at the end of this day, I actually have a lot to say. Just no focus to do it right now.

Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow.

One year ago: February
Three years ago: Just go with it

Not my country

It’s been a while since I have aired a political view on this blog. I think the last time I did was on the grim day in 2014 when the dark forces that be, came to power. But yesterday, I felt broken. I spent a large part of the day keeping up with the updates following the airstrikes that began day before yesterday, and I just can’t fight the feeling of overwhelming disappointment and disgust at just how despicably low the greed for power can make this government stoop. I had been simmering all day, but watching the video of Wing Commander Abhinandan in captivity, making a statement with stoic and brave composure, just completely broke me.

It’s been a veritable shit-fest from the word go. And my disgust began yesterday with news of raucous celebrations across the country at our brave show of retaliation. Since then there has been a deafening silence from the government. This is a time to be available, accountable and respond with alacrity. But the silence and the absolute lack of urgency in making available the right responses available is appalling. Delayed updates, delayed confirmation, lack of clarity and no urgency to respond to the news of the captured pilot or where we will go from here. With this heavy air of being at the brink of war looms large, all I’ve felt again and again is crushing defeat.

I’m not even the slightest fan of the current government in power. But if there was even a glimmer of optimism in me, a silent, small possibility to “give them a chance, change takes time” like people keep asking of me, it has all but vanished today.

It’s 2019 for fucks sake. All this progress, development, evolution has got to count for something. As if the religious fundamental rhetoric and the Hindutva hard-lining weren’t enough, theres is now this new catastrophe in the making, guaranteed to drag us down. I didn’t think I’d live to witness a time where my country, the largest democracy in the world, a super power in the making, would be at the brink of war. A war we cannot afford, a war we have no business bringing on ourselves. I’m just so angry at the thought.

I don’t own a TV, but the clips of the blatant war-mongering going on on prime time news in the wake of the 14 Feb attacks has churned my stomach every time that I have encountered one. They’ve been shrill, hyping the government, fighting the cause of revenge, using the heavy word so brazenly. No amount of muting the card carrying right wingers in my phonebook and on whatsapp seems to help, they’re crawling out of the woodworks with their boxes of laddoos and what not, to celebrate would you believe? The unbridled hate I’ve seen online, on my whatsapp stories and in the news has been heartbreaking. And for what? It’s not like we’ve fought the war and emerged victorious. Premature celebrations, much?

I hope some day they’ll come out of their saffron coloured castles in the air and see the truth. This is bad timing. This shouldn’t have happened. It simply shouldn’t have.

One wonders about the timing of it all, the urgency to retaliate and to seek revenge. One wonders about the classified nature of such surgical strikes and how quickly publicised these were. One wonders about when we turned aggressive, rather than defensive, and which is the more powerful position to take. One wonders about the inflating 56″ chest and that mad glint in those eyes. One wonders about the futility of it all, just for another inevitable election win, but the impetus to win it while soaring even higher on the frenzied sentiments of a nation baying for blood.

I’m just so helpless and enraged by my helplessness.

I had a moment of severe dissonance while I was at the supermarket today, buying vegetables and chicken, while imagining forces getting ready for combat. How can the two realities coexist?

War shouldn’t be this easy.

A war at a time like this? What of the farmers whose hunger remains to be addressed even after the budget? What about our cities that are crying for thought and attention, where little really reaches? What about the the 87% slash in teacher training that’s bound to impact education in India? What about the exodus of workers marching to Delhi to protest the plan to weaken labour laws?

Meanwhile the prime minister in the last 24 hours has experienced the Delhi metro, launched a Bhagwad Gita app along with some fitness or something or the other app and is busy promoting and prepping for his Guinness world record breaking largest video conference ever to be held soon. And this, when we’ve had absolutely no confirmed legit updates, except for three very disturbing videos of the captured wing commander. Again and again his brazen display of blind power and greed with no fucks to give cuts too close to the bone.

How do more people not see this? How do they not feel this?

I’M JUST SO MAD.

Surely we have bigger priorities to throw our money at. And no, I don’t mean another statue. I know this isn’t the most nuanced opinion, but right now I’m just mad, so filled with rage and bitterness that one mans greed for another electoral win, to emerge the hero, to make a damn point, can drag an entire nation to these lows.

As I have been wondering about karmic cycles, at a personal and a national level (yes I’ve wondered about the karma of my nation), and in my own life I see the benefit in healing the present as the only means to break cycles of hurt, I wonder about retaliation and what good it holds. I wonder about the futility of war. I wonder what hope this leaves for tomorrow.

Today, all I feel is hopeless.

This is not the country I want to call mine.

One year ago: Pretend like there’s no world outside

Open

I sit with this fresh, new feeling
like my heart is in my hands
pulsating to a new beat
and like my soul is finding new shape
with every word I speak.

I’ve just sown some seeds of newness, gently
there. With love and care
and now it’s time I wait.

There’s no scraping this this up again.
No sewing up old crevices,
or digging in too deep
Now it’s time to just be.

And so, I wait.

For the sapling ripe with new life to burst forth
to grab a foothold, find new ground,
send tender little baby root deep within me
locking shoots with my bones,
digging deeper beneath the surface,
embracing that part tucked away within me,
gently nudging it to wake.

I wait.

For a season of springtime, of play to bloom
to be touched by the morning dew of mirth,
feeling the kiss of giggles and laughter
in the gentlest caress of the evening breeze.

For the tendrils of oneness and belonging
to twist around my little finger,
to keep me up.

For the bright green, baby leaves
of the child I used to be
to find space within this big old body
of the woman I am today.

We are the same after all.

I wait,
for this newfound comfort in the tenderness
fragility and delicateness of it all
to become me.

For when this spring comes,
with its fragrant freshness
it will take me,
sweep me up in its sweetness.
Filling the endless expanses of my being with
a seductive joy.

It will crack through my bones,
trickle through and beneath my skin,
erupt in loud lovesongs,
waft through in every breath that I exhale,
fill every square inch of my body with playfulness
smudge little bits of love on whatever I touch.

And so, I wait.

***

Still basking in the post-workshop glow, the desire to process, make sense, and even revisit everything has found this strange new quiet. I feel energetic, but the energy high seems contained. I find I’m not veering to my typical tendencies to either distract myself with a burst of activity, neither am I losing many hours to the deep, deep sleep that usually comes after I’e done a piece of this kind of work.

It has helped being alone here in Goa at this time. This is a nice kind of alone time. For a change, there is that familiar loneliness again, but this time unlike the usual why-me-why-now thoughts that come with it, there is an unusual, but very pleasant settling. Of just sitting with it. And to my surprise it hasn’t caused any eruptions, like it usually does.

Is it possible to feel this cut wide open, vulnerable, tender, yet free to leave it be, and yet also find a peaceful containment, like this?

I feel a ferocious urge to claim what has opened up for me at the workshop. But with it, is this deep, deep pause. To wait, not to act in impulse.

So, I sit, making space for these thoughts and feelings.

In some ways it’s like I’m meeting this part of me for the very first time.

One year ago: The race is long, and in the end it’s only with yourself

At ease, at home

No matter how hard I tried to get most of my work done before I got here, there’s that little tail that’s lingering, and only two days for the month to end and for me to tie up the loose ends. The reason I worked my ass off ahead of time, this time around was because I know what happens to me when I get to Goa. I slow down, and I got into a mental shutdown, holiday-like mode, for no apparent reason. So here I am, making difficult choices. Much like I did yesterday. To research a new and wildly fascinating aspect of septic tanks again (please sense my sarcasm, please sense it), or watch the Oscars? To finish that scintillating post about the economics of sanitation or to binge watch This Is Us that I didn’t even know has started again?

Decisions, decisions. Anyhow, you’ll be happy to know I spent 75% of yesterday binge watching Trevor Noah, before I decided to get down to work. And somehow, I managed to finish, and meet my deadline before the end of day, while simultaneously cooking us some pasta for dinner.

Speaking of binge-watching, I have been watching a lot of TV since I got here. I watched Period. End of Sentence. last week — it’s possibly one of the most beautiful documentaries I’ve seen on menstrual health in India, and even though it’s a topic that has the potential to be dismal depressing, it made me just so happy watching it. OH, and it won an Oscar yesterday!

I watched Stree last week, and as much as I love Rajkumar Rao, I think this one was lost on me. I just didn’t get what the big deal was. On the weekend, VC and I re-watched Befikre (Ranveer Singh makes this one worth it for me, again and again and again) and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (surprisingly, I enjoyed it this time around, which makes me think the company of the opinionated twats I watched it in the first time had coloured my experience). After we watched Gully Boy last week and having our senses smacked in, I’ve been guzzling any video related to it. So I decided to rewatch whatever Zoya Akhtar films I can get my hands on, just for the heck of it. I recently watched Dil Dhadakne Do, only for like the fourth time around, so I might give that one a pass.

I’ve managed to sneak in exercise almost everyday, and mostly cooking all meals at home. This time around, things feel a lot more settled, and I even though there are places I want to go to, I’m tempted to stay in and just be. On Sunday night, though, VC and I went out to dinner to a charming little restaurant in the garden of a home in the neighbourhood. The music played off an old Macbook hooked up to a Altec Lansing tower speaker, the furniture looked like it was dragged out of the home itself, the lady of the house chattered away on the telephone to her grandson loudly while we stifled giggles, and the power went off three times dashing our hopes of eating the lasagne because their oven went out of commission. The joys of living in a village, the chef/owner said to us. And I agreed. It was a joy to eat in the mostly silent ambience, with just the sound of granny chiding her 15-year old grandson who is in Bombay and refuses to learn Marathi or Hindi, and the crickets, with no lights in sight for miles. When the lights did come back on, there was this.

This week though, I plan to drive myself to Panjim to meet A, And C. I also want to go to the beach again. VC’s friends get here on the weekend and we’re going to be socialising and back at the beach, I anticipate. I also want to eat at at least one of the places on my list of restaurants I like to visit whenever I am here, but I’m having trouble deciding which one.

This time around, things feel a lot more settled. This time around, there is clarity. And even though I am unsure of when and if I will ever move here again, it’s a really good feeling to have a home and the mindspace that feels like home enough for every visit.

One year ago: I’m glad that I’m alive
Three years ago: In between mouthfuls

Notes on an island

It’s really hard to put into words what the past four days have been like for me. It’s one thing to be in a therapeutic, healing space. I’ve been in several of these workshops before now. But this time around, there was something about being on an island, something about leaving life as I know it behind for four days, setting off from the mainland, to go away (it’s not too far, but even so) and be surrounded by greenery and singing birds, waking up to misty mornings, spotting bright butterflies, a pair of wobbly ducks, the gentlest dog, and having the luxury of a pool to dunk into at the end of the day, hot wholesome home-cooked meals three times a day, and a big comfortable bed to retreat into at night, that made the experience so much more than just a workshop. I can’t emphasise how much being away added to my healing experience, this time around.

As such the air in Goa always feels so rich and laden with good vibes. I’ve said it before — things slow down within me, in the best way possible. Also, given everything that has been coming up at therapy in the run up to this trip, I felt like all roads were leading me here. It was time, and I couldn’t have been more ready for it. To physically take myself there, in a space, a bubble away from life as I know it, even here when I’m essentially on holiday, felt meta!

I actually also enjoyed the company of the people in the group. It was a small, intimate, but diverse group of people, of whom I knew only D. For a change, I mingled some, and actually felt drawn to some people. I guess this is what allowing for connection is like?

It was nice to be in the midst of folks who come from such different lives and backgrounds, but have that one thing in common that had brought us all together — a keen interest on working on ourselves. It’s sometimes all it takes to break walls and build bridges. I think I bonded more with this bunch than I have with the bunch I’ve shared a whole year of learning with.

It’s strange, but I woke up on Sunday in my bed at home actually missing walking into our workshop room.

I managed to wake up every morning and get a long walk in, and also run a little. The island is trapped in time. Every time that I visit it, I feel I need to live there at some point, and this time was no different. The people, the homes, the streets, the chai tapris, the church on top of the hill — everything feels otherworldly.

In the evenings I’d dive straight into the pool for a dip, which was so, so so needed every single day. I miss having access to a pool in my regular life, I realise.

The mornings were especially mind-boggling and stunning, and brought up overwhelming gratitude and a feeling of contentment for the opportunity it was. Golden kissed air, a low hum of calm and peace within, a slowness that forced me to be even more present than I thought was possible, or that I was capable of.

I’m usually bursting with words at the end of these experiences, but something has shut down that impulse in me off late. I’ve been feeling a lack of words. Not so much a difficulty with not finding the words, but a comfort and ease with not having to go into the words to make sense of it. I find myself soaking it in, feeling the small nudges and bubbling shifts within me. There is a new quietness about this that I am enjoying.

There were tears, so many tears, and so quick and easy to flow. It was different and liberating. There was also a palpable sense of completion, of finishing a part of something I had started over three years ago. There was a sense of having turned, of having moved forward, of seeing the same world with new eyes. It’s really hard for me to put into words what the past four days have been like for me. This time was different. This time felt complete.

One year ago: All my sweat, my blood runs weak
Two years ago: Ten reasons why I love the girls I’m in long distance relationships with
Three years ago: Travel

Like waking up again

Unlearning the ways of my adult mind and psyche has proven to be equal parts fascinating and frustrating. Trying and liberating. It has felt like a struggle and a joy. But every little bit that I go deeper, every step of the way, I know I am that much closer to my authentic self.

I came into this workshop with little idea of what specifically I wanted to address. It wasn’t so much a lack of clarity as it was an openness to whatever it may be that comes up for me. And I am so grateful that I have so unexpectedly chanced upon the idea of play. As something that is so simple at its core, yet has the capacity to profoundly change my life at this point.

The road ahead seems bright and open, rather than heavy and taxing like it does at times, even as I have been on the path to heal, integrate and look ahead.

***

E. A. T.

S. L. E. E. P.

C. O. N. N. E. C. T.

One year ago: Let it blow through you, don’t let it move you
Two years ago: Roads and Kingdoms
Three years ago: Playtime

Like coming home

It’s so nice to wake up before my alarm actually goes off and then will myself to stay in bed until the sun has come up enough for it to be light out.

I took myself for an hour-long walk/run around the island this morning. I already feel like it was the best thing I’ve done today. No map, no directions, no familiarity. Just out and about.

I am constantly overwhelmed by the beauty of divine timing and the ways in which everything happens in its own time. I have been feeling so very prepared for this workshop in a way that I know I wasn’t last year. This feels right. This feels like the time has come.

Been thinking a lot about my connection with Goa and how by unknown circumstances and by design, I find myself experiencing some of the really meaningful inflections in my life here. It feels like an old connection but a fresh one too.

***

P. L. A. Y.

F. E. E. L.

B. R. E. A. T. H. E.

One year ago: I hope you’re not lonely without me

Like seeing sunlight

I am so resourced.

I am stronger in ways I didn’t know.

***

S. T. A. Y.

H. E. A. L.

B. R. E. A. T. H. E.

One year ago: Stop this train, I want to get off and go home again

Move, move, move

The urge to get moving again actually surfaced one fine evening on my last trip here in Goa. It’d been a year long time of hibernation, near nil movement until then, with all the classic signs of sloth that I have never really seen in myself in all my life. The inability to wake up in the morning, taking so long to surface, the idea of exercise or even just movement feeling like a drag. Coupled with this was an unquenchable appetite, that I now think was partly emotionally charged. I was eating large quantities of ALL THE THINGS.

Somewhere around November of last year, I began taking long walks with D on Sundays in Bangalore, and maybe that was the beginning of it. Even so, it took a lot of effort to push myself out of bed one day a week, and I couldn’t get myself to stretch that enthusiasm for even one more day.

Possibly the one good thing in all of this has been my complete refusal to push myself, and the acceptance of things as they were. Yes, deep down it did bother me that this sort of fundamental shift was in the works. I wondered if I will ever be the exercise buff that I used to be. Have I stopped caring completely? Will I ever have the morning energy like I used to again?

Just as I was settling into a deeper state of acceptance that maybe that phase was well and truly over and it’s time to usher in a slow, non-moving one, something stirred again. And I’ve just listened, gone with it and been at it ever since — yoga every other day, a walk or a run every other day, sometimes an short power extra walk or run in the evening additionally if my energy and time allows it, and that long walk on Sundays.

Almost naturally, my food intake has become more mindful too. I’m convinced the two go hand in hand now, because without much effort I find my portion sizes becoming more appropriate. I used to be a big breakfast eater, that’s changed. I’m easily satiated at lunch and dinner too. The only real effort I’ve put is in quitting sugar to a large extent. I skip it in my chai and coffee, I’ve been mostly off dessert, though I’m not being ultra strict about this either. I have allowed myself the odd hot chocolate or jalebi, when the opportunity strikes. But overall, I feel like I’ve found a rhythm about my body — of being tuned in and being able to listen. This is new too.

And so, in an effort not to break the healthy streak in Goa, I came prepared. With my sneakers, exercise clothes and yoga mat in tow. I hit the road this morning, and walked a speedy 6k in an hour, came home and did a few suryanamaskars and I FEEL SO GOOD.

I don’t have a very great locale to walk/run in, unfortunately. Not one that I have discovered as yet anyway. I’m located just off a highway that’s currently under construction, so it’s just miles and miles of dust and rubble. But I didn’t want to let that stop me. I plugged in my new Bonobo faves compilation and went for it.

The morning views around this home aren’t a patch on what I used to have earlier, but it’ll do. I feel like this time around I’m not going to give up so easily.

One year ago: There’s nothing here to run from
Three years ago: Major leaps, minor struggles

In-between

Bye, Bangalore.

Hi, Goa.

I don’t know if this feeling of landing up here and feeling right at home, especially now that there is a home to go to, will ever get old. It was so nice to come to a familiar space, sleep in a bed that’s mine and wake up and make myself coffee and eggs in a kitchen that’s mine.

Considering how much I have been enjoying Bangalore, and all the changing feelings I’ve been experiencing, it felt like an odd time to be going away. But I have been missing VC dearly. I suspect he has too. And, it’s always a good time for a Goa break. This time around I’m also looking forward to three days in a workshop, hopefully off the grid on the island I’m going off to.

Three years ago: Light and shadow

Another favourite

Play time has gotten off to an excellent, excellent start. I ticked this one off the bucket list too, last night.

I kid, again. There is no bucket list. Just opportunities for things I’ve been wanting to do that have been consistently showing up. And the rather uncharacteristic reaction of jumping into them with minimal thought.

I’ve been trailing Abhishek Upmanyu (who I absolutely love, love, lovvvveee), and this show particularly, for about a year, I think. Either I missed the dates because of all the travel I had going on last year or I’d be late to wake up and book tickets, or they’d be too expensive. But things aligned last month when I spotted the show, saw tickets were affordable and available. I did the logical thing to do, asked around to see if anyone else wanted to go with me. Nobody did. The logical thing to do then, or what I would have typically done, was can the plan.

Instead, I booked myself a single ticket and decided to go on my own.

So there I was last night, by my lonesome, surrounded by a demographic that had showed up in deafening numbers — very loud, Hindi-speaking, 20-something boys. It was so fascinating to be an observer.

The show, of course, was so completely worth it. Upamanyu lives up to all the hype, to his online persona, to my huge expectations of him. After the show, I treated myself to a drink and dinner out by myself before I headed back home.

I had a really good time. Bangalore makes me feel free in some ways and yesterday was laced all over with that feeling of freedom.

***

I’m a bit high on just how good this week has been to me. This was meant to be a time for celebration. I am balking at how without much deliberation or execution on my part, it has somehow been exactly that, almost as if by some divine plan.

Actually, the fun began last week. I’ve had two full weeks with so much fun, enough alone down time, and little space for much else that could bring me down. I have been extra happy and at ease. Like I’m in a bubble, and nothing can touch me.

It peaked and showed at therapy — possibly my best, most path-breaking session yet. It was so good to tie up some loose ends and soak in that feeling of completion, from understanding where this is coming from, and how far I’ve moved to find myself here today.

I also got an inordinate amount of work done ahead of upcoming travel, so I have freed up enough time to chill when I’m away.

I had an unbroken ten day streak of daily exercise, and I’m feeling that good feeling from within. Cleaner from eating better, leaner from really enjoying working out again.

The Bonobo gig has mildly blown my mind. But it wasn’t just the gig. Something about the entire experience softened me some. To let go of my reservations, give in to fun just the way it was left me feeling light and playful. This is precious, it’s like tapping into a previously untouched part of myself and surprising myself with the realisation that hey this is fun too, who knew? It’s like discovering an old, young side of yourself you didn’t know still existed, you know?

I enjoyed dancing so much. It’s been years since I went to a club, just with the express intention to dance the night away, or just danced with abandon for no apparent reason. I had a phase in 2015, where I massively binged on all kinds of dancing. I’d found myself in a clique of people who frequently partied, not to drink, not to socialise but only to dance. And we went at it with the regularity and focus we brought to working out. I had even signed up at a dance class and spent 6 months learning to jive, salsa and also bachata a bit. But there’s been nothing since. Dancing that night made me realise how much I love to do this once in a while, and how much finding the right company for it matters.

Bob’s Bar was so fun. So reminiscent of the kind of drinking joints we’d frequent when I was in college. That typical Bangalore breed of bar that’s buzzing at 5 pm on a weekday. Also, full marks for the clever name and most excellent chicken pakodas.

I’ve been enjoying the city so much off-late. Really indulging the city-slicker in me. Taking cabs to zip around the city, any time of day or night, having an “office” at the local coffee shop (where I have become something of a permanent fixture in the afternoon), enjoying Cubbon Park, taking full advantage of the multiple exercise options within driving distance of home, having access to a pretty good array of festivals and shows, exploiting the spoils of good weather to walk as much as I can, having my friends in the same city as me, and living right next door to my parents.

I’ve realised that my years in Goa, blissful as they were in their own way, abruptly ended my access to this kind of city joy. While I adjusted to and enjoyed Goa thoroughly, there’s a part of me that has really felt a deep void from not having these indulgences. As much as I embraced the small, simple life, this big, loud life with so much access has my heart some times. At least at this point in my life, this makes sense. It fits and I’m glad I get to experience it fully.

I feel utterly fortunate for the chance to have a foot in both places so I can enjoy them both alike, without missing out or feeling a sense of lack for either. I’m not ready to choose one over the other. So for now, this makes sense. It fits.

At the gig, I met a friend I used to be pretty thick with in 2002-2003, with whom I’ve totally lost touch with in the years since. We were standing beside each other for a full ten minutes before he noticed me. Turns out he’s still in my phone book, but I hadn’t thought to let him know I’d moved. He was offended, and that surprised me. So we parted with a promise to catch up. It was so unlikely, unexpected, but just so heartwarming.

I had three instances this week, where I caught myself sticking my neck out to preserve a healthy boundary, valuing my time and choosing well by me. In all three instances, I chose to express my feelings rather than couch them or make them palatable in some way. I didn’t even realise it was happening in the moment, but much later when I was thinking about it, I felt excited and incredibly happy to see old patterns that once plagued me are slowly breaking away and the evidence of a new possibility emerge from each of these events.

I’ve been feeling very centred — possibly thanks to the point above — thanks to a very obvious sense of some of these pieces of my life falling into place. There is contentment with things just as they are, in a constant state of straddling perfection and imperfection. There is gratitude for this strange journey and all the many twists and turns it has taken, and continues to take. This feeling has only been growing as the days go by, and I find myself really feeling “enough”. Fulfilled, wholesome, whole, complete. I was writing this in my journal the other day, when I landed on this page that I’d scribbled randomly into a page in between, somewhere at the start of December.

When will it be enough? has long been a big question in my life, fuelled by that itching constant yearning for something more. This wasn’t the positive, healthy passion for seeking more, this has always felt more like a slightly dark, gnawing want that was driven by a definite sense of lack.

To have completely by fluke, scribbled my way to land on that very page, on a day when everything felt so complete, just sooooo enough, made me tear up.

At this point, everything is enough. It has been for a while now. And I see it, and take it in completely today.

Is there anything more delicious than the serendipity of long-unanswered questions finding happy resolution in a time and place one least expects?

One year ago: If you could change your mind
Three years ago: Make like a tree

You’re my favourite, you’re my favourite

Ticked this off the bucket list, last night.

I’m kidding. I don’t have a bucket list. But I did go to what I think was a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity gig, for me.

To catch only like my most favourite DJ live, in Bangalore, was wild. I almost wouldn’t have gone if Niyu hadn’t pushed me to. I was being my usual finicky self preempting loud, large crowds, dusty outdoors and badly organised scenes.

However, I am so glad I pushed my adult worries aside and went anyway, because the rest of it wasn’t half bad, and the gig was insane good.

Fitting way to kick off play time.

I booked my ticket all alone, prepared to just go by myself. But I ended up tagging along with Niyu and a bunch of her almost-30 year old friends, so I did things I haven’t done in a long time — absolute years. Dressing up! Pre-gaming at Bob’s Bar. Walking to the gig in our “outrageous” clothes. Consuming whatever alcohol I could get my hands on. Coming home with super achy feet and quads from all the dancing. Waking up severely hungover this morning.

It was oddly freeing. And it certainly helped that it was a cracker of a live set.

I mean she was there. *all the heart eyes*

And in classic Bonobo style, a full band too with the whole deal — drums, keys, guitars, trumpets, sax, strings — for all the instrumentation.

My only complain was that it ended too soon, in utterly predictable Bangalore fashion, at 9.45 pm. *eyeroll*

BUT, they played one of my current obsessions:

And if you’re enthu, here’s the official video:

And even though this felt like a once-in-a-lifetime gig, I’m already setting my intention and wishes on a do-over. Preferably outside India.

Universe, make it happen.

One year ago: There’s still time to change the road you’re on
Three years ago: Cloudless skies