This disgusting sunset

So effing disgusting.

I mean, it has absolutely no business being so disgustingly good that my heart couldn’t handle it. NO business.

And then it went and made it worse by turning even more disgusting.

One year ago: Simple
Two years ago: Let the water lead us home
Four years ago: Home is where the yellow roses are

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Year-end feels (#1)

(UH-OHHHH, if you think you smell a series, you’re probably right.)

It took the wiiiild ride that is 2020 to know that my heart is soft, but I can love ferociously. That I hold it in a small and finite space in my chest, but it can be unbridled, free and flow endlessly. I’m still getting comfortable with letting the love flow. And show.

None of this was easy to allow, because it involved (and continues to involve) challenging many notions about myself. Many that I’d like to think are set in stone.

I am embracing softness slowly and gently. Inside and out.

And this might be the first time I can say this with faith and honesty: I love the person I am becoming because of it.

One year ago: Away and around
Four years ago: Cutting the fat

Monday Tarot Message: On Conflict

When we are trained to avoid conflict, or that a conflict-free existence is a peaceful one to aspire for, we allow the spark of life to be doused over time. Conflict is an essential part of living, growing and relating to the other. A mechanism that signals what we value and how to move towards things that matter to us.

Conflict that only revolves around everything “wrong” in the other (blame and judgement) it is sometimes a way to escape accepting the bitter truth that not everyone (not even people we care for and love deeply) will always be on the same page as us, grow and move at the same pace as us, or be able to be there for us in the way that we need.

There is a purpose to conflict in our lives. It helps clarify to ourselves what is important and why. Especially valuable when we are in relation to the other. To be willing to disagree, differ and face conflict as a result of it is to be willing to keep alive in ourselves that which is important to us.

In this way, conflict become the ability to exchange differing opinions and voice them. To clain one’s own values and space in relation to the other. This could bring us closer to others who think alike, or those who don’t but are open to growing from hearing new perspectives. Conflict is an essential ingredient in growth and healthy relationship.

Hinging conflict heavily on judgement and blaming creates anxiety and makes us believe conflict is itself anxiety-inducing. This is untrue. When possible, look at conflict as a means to acknowledge the others’ experience, to understand that we are all different and driven by vastly different motivations, and most of all as a means to learn from the shared experience that is a relationship, and to build, evolve and grow.

As I wrote this this morning, I was thinking also of the farmers sitting in Delhi. And the general state of upheaval this country seems to be in. It brings up words like conflict, dissent and democracy. And I feel even more than conflict is good. Sure, there is always a price to pay, most often a burden borne not by people of privilege like me, but it is the nature of change and evolution.

Once again, a reminder that the personal is political, the political is personal.

Two years ago: All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise
Four years ago: Book post, of course

Going under

It’s safe for me to let the waves that come, touch me. As they can. And they will.

One year ago: Love and belonging in politically charged times
Two years ago: Find my direction magnetically
Four years ago: Too much nature ho gaya

Seige

One year since my first big protest. This whole week I’ve been revisiting memories of that insane week, same time last year, when everything tipped over. I remember so clearly a conversation I had at home with my in-laws on 14 December, post which I rushed off to a protest. Partly because I intended to, but also very much fueled by the need to counter what I had endured in that conversation.

It set off a daily protest attendance habit in me for the week, for what felt like there was no end dat. I’d go off, spontyaneously as and when life allowed, making space, shuffling my schedule around to make my way to Townhall nearly every day. And then Jamia happened. 19 December was the unstoppable, big protest at Townhall. One that I remember viscerally. My body remembers the heady buss from shouting AZADI! rhythmically, the containment and safety of being ensconsed in a sea of citizens all on the same side of this fight, agitating calmly, doing the good work of sitting in protest, silently peacefully surrounded by cops in riot gear, chanting slogans with gusto, passing around bananas, drinking water, buttermilk. It’s all so fresh. I felt alive, like charged by a live wire.

This went on for nearly three times a week for me, every week till March when Covid shut us down and sent us home. Conveniently. And I remember feeling a heart-crushing disappointment in March this year. Sadness at seeing Shaheen Bagh being packed up and razed to the ground. This happened in the same week that I had tickets booked to visit, all on my own, all on a whim, a roundtrip single day trip to just witness the phenomenon.

It’s been a whole year since that day. A whole year since my politics erupted and stopped being something to hold in silence, politely in private. One full year of feeling every single day like events in our coutnry are bubbling and bubbling and leading up to a crescendo. One full year of a slow implosion. One full year of the full reveal on all the forces we are up against — a fascist government that thrives on hate and divisiveness, capitalism that has not had it’s fill, and a broken democracy that is still to be shattered some more. One full year of feeling like I don’t belong here at all. One full year of feeling like experiencing every.single.day (without the slightlest exaggeration) that this country is at seige with itsself, with forces that be, with it’s own fuckups.

And we fight on.

One year ago: Can you hear the roar?
Two years ago: We got soul food in the house
Four years ago: Old and mighty

Alive, in my body

I am this breath. I am this moment. I am this life.

I am supported. I am loved. I am alive.

Excessively grateful for R and his daily workout routine that gives me the much needed dose of motivation to jumo out of bed and show up on my mat. My self-motivation ran dry three months ago and if I didn’t have a daily, solid physical practice like this to engage with and literally hold all of the emotions I am processing in this container that is my body, I might have not been in as balanced and safe a space as I am now.

It’s nice not to have to think of what to do to move and stretch myself, and just be told, listen and move accordingly. It’s nice not to have a fixed time to smash the workout out. It’s nice to have a group to do it with. It’s nice to be stretched by someone who has more faith in my capabilities than I have in myself.

One year ago: Gratitude and love
Two years ago: I kinda feel like I saw the light

On love (and connection, and life)

I’ve been carrying this on-the-brink-of-happy-tears feeling around in the pit of my belly, trapped in my throat, jabbing right behind my eyes for over a week now. It felt like a storm of emotions brewing in my stomach. Like the slightest nudge would break me. The feels sloshed around in me, threatening to spill…and yet they somehow would just not flow? Just sat there bubbling, kissing the edge of spillover and nothing more.

That upside-down splish-splosh feeling sort of just became omni present. I thought it was about the (surprise) excessive happiness of the good chill time I have been having with my husband and my best friend, juxtoposed with the shit year I’ve had. But as the days wore on, the feeling grew in momentum, intensity and and two days ago, riding the ferry across to Chorao, in a yellowed hazy sunset, it hit me that it was more than that. It was coming from more than just being in Goa and having this welcome, unexpected break. There has been an over abundance of joy, lightness and laughter, but with a very different quality. I feel very overly emotional about the joy. Like how is that even possible, to feel like I could cry buckets from happiness. Like so full and expansive that if someone touched me I could burst. And so, that state of being on the brink of happy weeping constantly just lingered around.

***

S left last night, and VC has been away on assignment since Saturday. So I took myself to the beach all by myself this evening. It was a flat, unusually blemishfree sky when I got there. Over exposed cloudless, exploding with hot white light. But at about 5:40, something turned and just as I was planning to leave and head home, I witnessed yet another spectacular sunset. In those few moments, something was also set off inside of me. It slowly broke me, gently chipped away and eased me into a swivel of happy tears.

Somewhere in the hour that followed I realised what I am feeling is the contentment of being seen. Just as I am. Not too much, nor too little.  And the tears were a combination of having my heart pretty much splintered by this experience I’ve had over the last two weeks. Equal parts overwhelming joy from having the space to be entirely who I am, happy sad, in pain in joy, messy and fulfilled, awkward and alright, all of it. Without adjusting myself to make it better or palatable for the other. As well as equal parts grief from going over oh so many past friendships/relationships where I have gone looking for it, having a pre-defined shape and form in mind, expecting it to be something I will be offered, and never really having found it.

The simultaneous delicious surprise in having stumbled on it most unexpectedly, in a shape and form like absolutely nothing I had imagined, in a confusing medley of emotions, and heartbreaking realisation in how long I have waited for it, looking high and low, waiting for it to be somehoe given to me, when it was here within me, waiting to be had all along, has been a lot to process.

Today, I sit in the comfort of a warm lap of that grief for how much I’ve gone thru, and relief at looking back and knowing it has all added up to lead me here. This silent work I’ve done between one ruptured relationship where I wasn’t met and the next, has brought me here, to this place of being so willing to show up and be seen as I am, in the right moment. That when I was met with a willing, equally authentic recipient, something clicked.

And it feels like love. Pure and simple love. With no labels, no boxes, no pre-defined form or extension.

***

The last time I felt this swirl of inexplicable happy-crying, my-heart-can’t-take-it-anymore love was this day, two years ago. And I see now that the common thread has been the element of being seen. Being received. Having space to just be — authentically, in everything the moment has to offer.

These past two weeks have felt like my parched soul found an oasis. And I am still drinking of it’s soothing, hydrating, healing love.

Authentic, intimate relationships are pure love. Authentic connections are pure love. Authentic support is pure love. We were born for this connection. And I am here for it. All of it.

One year ago: The ground beneath my feet
Two years ago: Love in a thousand different flavours

Protected: On love (and connection, and life)

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Grow gardens, everywhere

Literal gardens.

Metaphorical gardens.

Imaginary gardens.

Virtual gardens.

Dreamland gardens.

Future gardens.

Symbolic gardens.

Turn over the earth with gentleness.
Make space for birth. For roots.
Palms open, to the sunshine, the soil, the air.
Sow seeds with love and patience.
Nourish.
Tend, till, trim.
Wait.
Build. Nurture. Support.

Watch them grow. Like pieces of you, that you gave to, from yourself.
And then like whole beings. That have nothing to do with you.
Gathering life all on their own.
Chord trimmed, trainer wheels clipped.
Blooming, furiously forth.
Filling spaces inward and out.
Creeping like slow life into vacuums, taking over overflowing vessels.

***

These past twelve days, I tilled away at the friendship garden in my life

Ravenously digging, sowing, watching, gobbling, growing it all. Making up for a year of emptiness and drought. Barren, cracked spaces (some, not all) of loneliness in my heart filling up with fresh rain and bright light, a winter breeze to top it off.

Expansive and open, I feel the tingling buds of beginnings again.

I wait, hopeful, of new gardens that will grow.

(This is the soundtrack of these last two weeks.)

One year ago: Better than yesterday, ready for tomorrow
Two years ago: Wait, can you turn around?
Three years ago: Clarity
Four years ago: Misty mountain hop

Change the water

We have to dust things off every once in awhile, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases.

— Haruki Murakami

Like I was saying yesterday.

Four years ago: Ohhaii again, Bangalore

Above and beyond

An entirely unplanned break within a break has happened and I haven’t sat at my computer long enough to write today’s tarot message.

It wasn’t planned but it has been totally welcome. To have the general vibe of 2020 turn around slowly, just for a bit. To suddenly feel free, to roam, to enjoy the outdoors, feel together, bond with friends, share spaces, intimacy, laughter, sadnesses and fears as easily as food and drink, to feel flexible and allow indulgences, to re-discover home with my homies (VC and S) again.

It was entirely unplanned but totally serendipitous. And I have learnt to accept these instances with a bow and both hands outstretched. There was a lot of going with the flow, even more than I am used to, and it was freeing to be able to just chill out, and not be afraid of how far out we were venturing.

It was time to pause and hit refresh. And allow myself to relax my shoulders, shake my limbs out, swim in the sea, climb mossy seaside boulders, find hidden beaches, count the stars, eat greasy food, pet sandy dogs and breathe easy again. Even though I hadn’t planned for it.

I’ll be back with a tarot message in a few days.

I checked our odometer today and it seems we’ve clocked 1200 kms since leaving our doorstep in Bangalore over a week ago. In addition, I have enough sand in my feet (and sunset images in my mind) to have made up for nearly nine months of going nowhere limited movement. I wrote “going nowhere” earlier and on Instagram, but that is untrue I realise. I have been lucky to get out. Wayanad one, twice to Goa and a fair bit of freedom and luxury to move around in both places. But if I’m being honest, even that was with some reservation, self-imposed restrictions and a whole lot of retrospective fear. We have felt very weighed down by that.

This time aorund though, we have let loose, snapped, relaxed (while still taking care, of course) and that has been very freeing. I have just had so much fun these past 10 days. It’s been a bubble of friendship, warmth and a shared intimacy — all, of the kind that’s been very hard to come by this year.

In an older time I might have enumerated all the events and experiences, but I’m finding it hard to do that today.

One year ago: All I want for Christmas
Two years ago: I got this feeling inside my bones
Three years ago: I shake off all that no longer serves me
Four years ago: Indian Women Speak Out About Not Wanting To Have Children

Chasing sunsets

What is it that makes me place myself (even if just my feet or toes) in snapshots of spaces I’ve been, clicked leisurely, yet deliberately as if to preserve the memory of that time, and my being in it, forever?

What did we do before phone cameras became so mundane. Before documenting every moment became unbearably easy?

I won’t deny, I have an unquenchable need to wrap beauty in moments stored in snapshots. I want to preserve and keep them intact somewhere. In byte-loads of memory in a cloud. And this need is at direct odds with my constant urge to stay in the moment without wanting to elongate it or make it remains for anymore than it is meant to.

It’s just one of my current contradictions. The need to exist in moments of time, suspended and floating as is, without the urge to tether any part of the experience. With the need to do exactly that. Hold down, preserve, document, make endure. All the moments I experience. The beauty, the wonder, the joy, the contentment, the humour, the sadness, the mirth, the bitterness. I got to witness.

What is this need to make it time-proof? Memorable and eternal?

Maybe some day I’ll understand this need. And maybe some day I won’t feel the urge to do this. But today was not that day.

One year ago: Up and about
Two years ago: Abiding faith and peace of mind

This year

Everything has changed.

And so have you.

One year ago: More love
Two years ago: Take all my world and shake it

I get by with a little help

Plans and talks of having S visit us have been in the works since October. And yet, now that we’re here together in Goa, it feels a bit surreal that we’re hanging out in the flesh and not across a Zoom call.

What a year it has been, I think this thought umpteen times even now. And to be finally hanging out with a friend, ending the year together with someone who has played a big role in getting through 2020, feels all kinds of absurdly grateful.

We’ve been visiting markets, taking walks, cooking, catching up, sitting in silence listening to music, chatting, watching “content” together. But the highlight so far has been the daily jaunt to the beach to catch the sunset. I don’t know when, and this wasn’t planned, but maybe it’s going to be the thing to remember this trip by. And the skies have been the gift that just keep giving.

Uncannily, this is the third consecutive year where spontaneous plans have brought us together In December. Another one to add to the album.

This is day 4.

One year ago: New love
Four years ago: Looking back

Sun, set

I don’t know if there’s anything more cool than the way the sun casually just rises and sets, every single day in dramatic fashion. Whether anyone is watching or not.

Chill, easy, flowy, just doin it’s thang. There may be an insight in here for me, I think.

Four years ago: Essential reading