Day 297: We’re never done

Distracting ourselves from this unsettled limbo like feeling that’s gripped me all day.

You could call this a Bangalore-style goodbye of sorts, I suppose.

One year ago: On going solo

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Day 296: You and me, we come from different worlds

Reading this post from exactly one year ago sent me down a rabbit hole, going over how the last twelve months have really brought the “at home in both cities” dream to fruition.

Sitting here, on the brink of my better half moving back to Goa, while I exercise the privilege and the dream of living here, and enjoying the luxury of also going home to visit him there for the foreseeable future, I’m amazed at how what was a mere distant thought is today an unbelievable reality for me.

This year I had umpteen opportunities to visit Goa and with each visit the realisation that some part of me will always feel at-home there has grown. And so focused all our intents and thoughts on making this return possible. The funny thing is, now that the move is upon us, I find an equally settled, at-home feeling has developed here too.

This morning, watching and helping VC pack, I thanked my stars for this opportunity to stay. Because I am not ready to relocate just yet. This is a wild twist of events for me: I am not ready to go away just yet. This is not a reflection on Goa as much it is on me feeling at home here, with myself.

So it must be true then, when one door shuts, open it again. It’s a door, it’s how they work. Because it’s certainly what has brought me to this unexpected state of being. At home everywhere. Ready to go. Happy to return.

This agility is such a refreshing change.

Times like this, I’m extra glad for this journal. To look back on and see how far we’ve come. To see how lucky we are. To see how much abundance I have received.

***

I’m already recovering from the throat infection. It literally caught up with me between one day and the next, skipping a the usual signs of bugs festering within. It honestly felt like I was on the mend, and it’s the only reason I let go and indulged in the beer on Sunday. It was R and S’s anniversary and I found my favourite Goan beer on tap so it was hard to hold back.

But taking yesterday off reminded me that I’ve had wheels on my heels this entire month. Pretty much since the day we returned from Europe. There have been slow days spent at home, yes but I’ve been in charge and in fight mode in my head ever since the start of the month. It’s amazing how our bodies have this capacity to get up and run, endlessly, when the time calls for it. To stretch endlessly on and on, swallowing all signs of usual fatigue or time-outs. But everything has a threshold I suppose. And if it weren’t for illness, I probably wouldn’t have known to shut off that fight mode, which is honestly not needed anymore. My sister is all better, my father is back at his home, we’re slowly packing up. I don’t need to rush around.

It wasn’t until Friday when I drove an hour across town to spend the day with N at her home, that I realised that it was the only day I had to myself this entire month. I’m grateful for it. We had a good day of conversation, a walk about her unbelievably green colony, a really good meal and chai and banana cake to end it all. I delayed my departure by a good three hours over what I had planned. And I do not regret it.

Next week, though not entirely free, promises some quiet. I’m looking forward to it. I’m going home, after all.

Day 295: They say you were always enough

I’m exhausted. After days of fighting that itchy throat, my body gave in today. It felt like there were rocks embedded in there every time I swallowed. And so for the first time this year, I have caved and decided to have antibiotics. I know what has brought this on — exhaustion. This is my body saying, enough, get some rest. It was also probably tipped over the edge by the three chilled beers I had at lunch yesterday. Oh well.

It’s been non-stop this entire month, and I felt my energy really flagging on the weekend. Unfortunately I can’t fully stop just yet. We’re int he midst of packing before we set off to Goa in a few days. Once there too, a whole lot of things need to be done to get our home where VC will stay, up and going in time before I return.

So today, I took comfort in a big fat pill, an afternoon nap, a cancelled evening appointment and some forced downtime, before I made a batch of Asian summer rolls and headed over to my aunts for dinner. There’s quite nothing like a hot meal someone cooks for you, to hit the spot on an ill day like today, when my body has wanted to just stay curled up and asleep. We had fried fish, a hearty chicken curry, and topped it with a small Jagermeister shot that fixed my throat good and proper.

Tomorrow will be a better day, I know. And that R in the image, it stands for REST.

One year ago: When one door shuts, open it again
Two years ago: Day 295: In with the new

Day 292: Come if it feels right, now is the time to be

The past few weeks gave been an odd combination of active and passive states. Active in the sheer energy and happenings in flow about me, yet passive in how I have been able to just surrender to the situation and how it has consumed me.

I had returned from Europe with grand plans. There was a blog reboot project mushrooming in my head, that I was going to launch into. I was all set to dive right back into work, I wanted to get back to yoga or some sort of exercise (that has dropped to a deathly silent nil in the last few months) and I wanted to spend the last few weeks I can share with VC here doing things around town — eating out, taking walks (our time in Europe made VC and I realise how little we indulge in walking as a standalone activity beyond just getting from one place, at home) revisiting favourite spots in the city and generally giving Bangalore a fitting goodbye (even though I’m not the one leaving just yet, I can’t help but feel a part of me is). But none of that was to be.

There is a lot happening, but none of it earth shattering. And for the first time in a while, I realise this is stasis. Things moving at their place, slowly. No real high peaks or low troughs. Just chugging along. This has been a year of so much activity and movement, mostly in my head. The giant leaps I have felt myself take, the long strides I am always forcing myself to take. I feel I have moved huge distances even as I have tried to sit still. And after almost a whole year of actively seeking that, things are suddenly at a very comfortable plateau. This feels like a time for sitting, sinking, marinading in the work that has been done. A time to sit back, let things unfold as they need to, and enjoy the gifts of my labour.

I’ve been so used to always pushing myself to do better, be better, seek better, seek more — whether in my experiences in Bangalore (because I’ve always felt like my time in this city has been finite, like I’m on a deadline), or my personal self-work. I have been in constant seeking mode for so long now, and the more I have sought and reached out, the more I have received. The more I have received, the more I have filled up, and filled myself of. Finally, things have come to a head. I felt this quite literally last weekend at the closing workshop, when I said my goodbyes and felt physically filled-up. I didn’t sign up for the following workshop. I felt full.

I have sought so much, received so abundantly, and taken in all in so hungrily, now I want to slowly digest it all.  This feels like a time for a resettling. And as much as I have acknowledged that I haven’t done all that I wanted to, I haven’t written as much or as well as I have felt things, I haven’t done any reading, I haven’t been out, it hasn’t been with regret or a longing or a feeling of lack. I feel content with things as they are, even though they haven’t worked out to plan.

I realise even more now that this is stasis. It feels delightfully okay. This is such a new kind of contentment for me.

Things are okay. Nothing overly positive to report, nothing alarmingly negative dragging me down either. The time for striving and achieving more seems to have passed. I want to settle and be still. And it feels just about right.

One year ago: Postcards from Goa
Two years ago:
 Day 292: Love, loss and what we ate

Day 291: And you pray that one day you’ll be seen between the shadows

It’s a good day to remember that good always triumphs over evil in restoring balance. The #metoo uproar in India has had startling effects, and what a rollercoaster ride this past two weeks have been. I’ve watched from the sidelines, agog, as stories poured out ranging from excruciating to downright vile and sordid, while predators retaliated with blame and further harassment, while the powers that be stayed complicit in their silence, as heads rolled and so many men in the public eye that I looked up to have been outed like vermin, and as none of that made a blemish on the uprising of women’s voices that seem to be unending, coming continuously, from some deep, primal place that feels like it isn’t from the hear and now. These is the rage of generations of silence and we’ve only just scratched the surface. Eventually, heads have rolled. And it’s no coincidence that today a day about the divine feminine finding her footing in her angry, loud, blood hot avatar, digging deep within for the courage to face up to evil — evil that is sometimes louder, bigger and more powerful — and triumph.

The streets of Bangalore are more or less empty today as most people have either stepped out for the long weekend, or are staying in to celebrate in quietude. It’s no good to have a picture of a larger than life dude, the very epitome of Indian archetype of masculinity, the protective man, on a day like today. But the temples have been bustling and driving out today I watched a lot of the festivities and try as I did to catch a picture of Devi herself, this is what stood out for me.

Maybe this moment in time will set off a change, bring out a softening in this stereotype. Smoothen the edges of toxic masculinity that we have believed to be the predominant cultural trend thus far. May there be gentler men, kinder, sensitive, humane men. May there be safer workspaces that uplift women, give us an equal voice and hold men up to higher standards of behaviour and accountability. And every time that there is a transgression, may there be justice.

May women be able to enjoy a world where all this and more is real and possible. So we need just enough protection, and not a touch more, minus the paranoia of jeopardising our careers, futures and lives itself.

I dream of an India where this is possible. And after years of feeling hopeless, this week even through the waves of relived trauma, I felt a glimmer of hope again. I know I say this for thousands of women out there putting so much on the line to seek justice not just for themselves but for countless other women, within me I feel like a time has come. This moment, this movement, will make a mark in history and be an inflection point in the way the narrative unfolds from here on.

Like I said before, what a time to be alive.

One year ago: On being present
Two years ago:
Day 291: Mondaze

Day 290: Some would say I was a lost man in a lost world

Today, I slowed down. I didn’t cook. I didn’t work. I napped. Twice. I drank multiple cups of tea. I nu see my itchy throat. I had long, enjoyable freewheeling conversations. With Niyu and VC. I had take out Chinese for dinner. I slowed down. Like the flutter of the dragonflys wings when it’s time is done and it’s setting off on a new u charted territory in an renewed shape and form.

Something is abrew. And I am waiting.

Day 289: I been moving calm, don’t start no trouble with me

I can’t believe we’re just over two months away from the neat year. Two thousand and freaking nineteen, for fucks sake. What? Wasn’t it just January some time ago? I feel like we only just returned from our New Years weekend at Coonoor. And yet, I can’t believe it’s going to be a month since we left for Europe. It’s been over two weeks since we’ve been back, and the reason time has zipped by like this is because it has been one thing or another, non-stop, for us since we got back. Between the illness, hospital visits, finishing up my course, attending the last workshop, and keeping the people at home fed at regular intervals (which meant having a kitchen up and functioning more than it has in all the months I’ve used it), I’ve been packed up to my gills with activity.

Time does this funny thing where it shrinks and expands unannounced. Both, when the days are packed to the hilt and I don’t know if I’m going or coming. Like it has been the past few weeks. I feel it in my brain, with the lack of words to share.

When the frenetic up and down from the hospital died down, we all breathed a sigh of relief. It has meant lazy days together, afternoon naps sometimes, meals eaten leisurely and all of that. But even so, I realised today that I haven’t given myself much time to unwind. I have missed catching up with friends. I haven’t had my weekly breakfast out in about a month now. And I have missed doing little things with myself. I didn’t read much on holiday and swore I’d get back and right into my kindle again, but I haven’t so much as touched it.

This is a strange turn of events for me. I haven’t been this busy in forever. The upside is the house is functioning on clockwork — something I’ve longed to put in action only for like everrr now. I’ve found hidden reserves of mojo to cook meal after meal and not tire or feel bored of it. As yet. And in between it all I’ve managed to get some work done, albeit a little past my deadlines. And we’re juggling planning the move of about half our home back to Goa next week.

Today, I suddenly felt overwhelmed by it all. Next week we’ll drive down to Goa again. This time with half our life packed in boxes trailing along. I will then set up house with VC, where he will reside, spend about 2-3 weeks there over Diwali and beyond, and return alone.

I’m overwhelmed. And excited. And unlike before, neither of the two seem to be bubbling over. Today, I realised despite the stress, the sheer overwhelm from everything that has to be done, the finality of VC moving, the lack of space and pause, the complete absence of stillness, I have quite unconsciously and easily kept myself together. This is new. This is different. This is totally unexpected.

This time around, I know what has changed.

Day 288: All along this love was right in front of me

Today has been such a slow day. This feeling of everything being tentative seems to pervade every where, across spheres of my life. The only thing that’s moving ahead with sprightly energy is my presence and activity around home. Thanks to Niyu being with us, recovering slowly, the workings of my home have fallen into a healthy clockwork pattern which has brought about a sense of grounding for me.

I’m deeply grateful for this. It’s hard to look at difficult times (the last ten days have been hectic and stretched us all in ways unimaginable) and feel gratitude for unseen gifts. But this is the truth, hard as it is to accept, there have been positive aspects to it. We got the gift of focused family time. I was thrust into a role of caregiver that has skyrocketed my respect and gratitude for the role my mother plays in our lives, I see the men in my life (VC and my dad) in a very different light, and there has been the gift of a home that works like a home again.

Two years ago: Day 288: New eyes

Day 285: They’ll be making sure you stay amused

Grateful for friends today. This week has shown me abundance in friendship like never before.

Rekindled connections, restored conversations, grown up versions of the camaraderie we once had.

New friends who I’ve found unexpectedly. New friends who visibly feel a sense of kinship through the experience of the work we shared and make no bones about wanting to stay in touch long after.

Friends who lead by example and champion causes dear to us. Friends who will always be the torchbearers for me to look up to.

Friends who relentless stay in touch and more even when I completely fail to.

Friends who send me food. Always, friends who send me food.

Two years ago: Day 285: Shifting gears

Day 284: September

Heaven, let your light shine down

I’ve thought long and hard about how I can sum up September. I’ve written, re-written and written again, this post collating all that happened in the month, and yet the right way to put it together has eluded me. Continues to elude me. It’s odd because so much happened in September. I was busy, the days were long, I was out and about, and then I went away on what can easily be called one of the best holidays of the last decade for me. Somehow, I’ve been lost for words.

This morning, I realised that perhaps it’s okay. That perhaps I must post this anyway, without neatly tying everything up with a bow. September was over-stimulating. September was snappy and brisk. And yet, September has left me silent. September has made me sit down and be still again.

For far too long now I have been seeking this stillness within. The sort of stillness that steadies me even in the midst of bustling action. Suddenly I realise, September was all about that kind of stillness deep within. Stillness that anchors, steadiness that fills a space. Somewhere, unbeknownst to me, that steadiness has crept in making space for a quiet assuredness that makes it possible to rest without my fingers fidgeting to hold something, to flow from one thing to the next without always knowing how or what or why, to be busy on the outside and calm within all at once, and to let go of the answers knowing that I can sit still with the questions swimming within.

Uncertainty, quietude, surrender, unsettling — there has never been a time in my life that I have enjoyed any of this. And somehow, here I am today doing exactly that. So here goes.

***

I had a shit ton of work last month, and the added pressure of finishing it all before I went away. And in classic fashion, I procrastinated a helluva lot before I eventually got it done.

Despite that, there’s been that stillness I mentioned. Peaceful, easy days with emotions running high, thoughts astir.
I feel a deep sense of contentment for where I am right now and all that life has brought for me, especially this past year.
I pondered about inclusion and what it means to evolve and think back wistfully, to older versions of myself.
On distraction and my relationship with screens.
Thoughts on social media, as a result of unrestricted screen-time I had.
Writing every single day this year has been not just exceedingly joyful, but also beneficial.
I’ve also found a new dimension of friendship that fuels me.

HAPPY days of love in September included the Supreme Court decriminalizing homosexuality in India. And our tenth wedding anniversary.

I spent a large chunk of the month in Europe and I posted every single day. Sometimes with words, sometimes without.
Enroute: Day 0
Paris: Day 1: Hello Paris, day 2: walking about, day 3: more aimless wandering, day 4: in love with the city of love
Brugges: Day 5: rainy welcome, day 6: all is forgiven, day 7: lessons in uncertainty
Amsterdam: Day 8: sensory overload, day 9: catching sunrise and sunset, day 10: last day reflections

Gratitude, as always.
For choosing the slow, flexible life that supports my inner being.
For the abundance that has come my way in recent times.
For love: in strong friendship that has grown unexpectedly, for family that comes through against all odds.
For friendship across continents, timezones and life spaces.

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***

One month ago: Day 246: August
Two months ago: Day 219: July
Three months ago: Day 184: June

Four months ago: Day 152: May
Five months ago: Day 134: April
Six months ago: Day 92: March
Seven months ago: Day 60: February
Eight months ago: Day 32: January

One year ago: Things change
Two years ago: Day 284: Escape

Day 283: Wandering through life will love come home to you

Lessons on becoming come at me from all sides. Sometimes loud and crashing, toppling carefully curated beliefs, forcing in freshness. Sometimes gently, softly, like comforting words whispered in confidence.

As I contemplate a time of solitude, with a deliberate focus on my becoming — that little bit that’s begging to turn that will only turn when I am alone — I find solace in the ways in which these messages show up at me. I realised earlier this month, that it was in September 2016, when I first sought therapy for what felt like a spiral into a depressive state, that I began this journey. I didn’t know it then, but I know it now. And since then, it has been a slow and steady process of peeling back the layers, cutting the fluff, removing all excesses, shedding all that no longer serves me, in order to move closer and closer to what lies beneath. An inner sense of knowing, intuition, a soul’s calling — whatever you may choose to call it.

This year especially, there has been something very steadying about finding my centre again — a centre that’s not attached to work, to my spouse, to my family, to a city, etc. And yet, I am still seeking a little something more. I can’t really explain it, but I feel that little bit that I am still seeking, I can only find in solitude.

I’m fortunate to finally be in a place in my life and in my marriage where this is a viable option. It has taken time and effort to get to a place in our marriage and relationship where VC and I feel safe and secure to deliberately stay apart. Not because of logistics, but out of the need to exercise the choice of wanting to stay alone for sometime. He deserves it as much as I do — to live our own selves into being. It has taken considerable shedding fear and uncertainty. But here we are. I’m so excited to watch this unfold and see where it takes us.

Day 282: Try to remember the good times

Since the day we got back from holiday, there’s been a heaviness hanging over me. It’s not as if things are down out and dreary, but I cannot ignore this achy, heavy heart that’s feeling trapped inside my ribs. It started with Niyu’s illness that even though we caught in time, really pulled the rug out from beneath my feet. Physically there were many sleepless nights, which though one pulls through high on an adrenaline-addled response, begin to show one way or another. But even otherwise, this is the most stress I have known in a while. If it weren’t for my father, and all the support and help we got from unexpected quarters, I don’t know how we’d have managed. It didn’t help that I had to be away from home for four days, finishing my course, leaving them and my mind at home, trying hard to stay focused. The work in class itself, deeply emotional always takes a toll on me. All in all it was a cocktail of things that sucked the juice out of me last week.

There was also the undeniable sadness and almost grief of ending this incredible journey I’ve been on thanks to the learning. It was an emotional four days, and the cherry on top was the very moving, very inspired and sweet closing ceremony we had. I got some very encouraging feedback on my essays, a very powerful module to close the course with, and all in all it feels like I’ve refuelled for the next many months to come. It was all too bittersweet, high on the sense of accomplishment, of having done something entirely for myself after so many years, of having finished it so well, of having gained oh so much from the entire experience, and yet having it end so fast. It seems like I only just began, just the other day.

Just when that finished, and I was looking forward to sleeping in on Saturday, the #MeToo shitstorm broke out. With S braving the eye of it, I’ve been getting frequent, gut-wrenching, enraging updates, even though I am not on social media where one can follow closely. Every story, every update brings up the bilious rage. But that is not all. This time around, the wave of stories has left me very helpless, hopeless. With a fast and quick-changing idea of feminism brewing in my head, I am very conflicted this time around. My support lies fair and centre on the side of victims, but I am so undecided about many other things. Mostly I am also very troubled by what this means for us as a culture, as a people and a race. What have we lost that has brought us to this point? Where are we letting out boys and girls down? What does it say for us as a culture where so many, many men it seems have just no clue how to deal with desire in a healthy manner, and just don’t know what to do with their feelings when met with a no? I was at the WeTheWomen even here on Sunday, very briefly. I went in just to listen to Raghu Karnad and Rohini Nilekani talk about “Working with boys and men” and though the session left me quite dissatisfied and wanting more, one thing she said really stood out: what have we done for aggression to be the default response to all unaddressed feelings?

I am deeply ashamed at where we stand today, having done a giant disservice to generations of men and women by shrouding all conversation around sex, consent and healthy relationships in shame and fear. For building a culture that normalises violence, aggression and harassment in the name of desire and love. For how we have done little to question and topple power structures present in various facets of society, even as we make advances and have women increasingly make inroads into the ranks. It’s deeply distressing to hear stories from 30 years ago that are coming out today, echoing exactly what is still going on. What has our evolution come to mean? What use is all that performative wokeness?

It felt like a never-ending weekend of the sads. Monday couldn’t come soon enough. My sister got a clean chit on Monday morning at the hospital, and as I heaved a sigh of relief it felt like the first time I exhaled a heavy bout of air I’d trapped inside of me all week long. I returned home, thinking about resuming work again and finding some semblance of routine and normalcy. But then I got a message from D that Leo had passed on and I felt like my world had fallen apart all over again.

I’m due to puppy sit at theirs next month and there’s an ache and a puppy shaped gaping hole in my heart just imagining what it will be like to have 2, not 3 of them begging for a taste of my dinner. I’m still broken, and I have no idea why this has hit so close home and why this loss feels so personal.

Over the course of the last almost-two years, I have grown terribly attached to and fond of D’s puppies. There is something to be said about getting to know your friends dogs. Slowly, over time. It’s a lot like meeting your friend’s children. At first there’s tentativeness on both sides. They’ll look at your curiously, almost as if to say “Why are you here to hog my mommy’s attention again?” But you visit often enough, and the familiarity grows. Eventually guards will drop, and if you’re anything like Leo, you might even offer me your bum from a safe distance of about 2 feet, demanding a good scratch on the rump. You keep the visits frequent enough and slowly you’ll build a relationship with the puppy, outside of your relationship with your friend. You’ll take gifts along sometimes. You’ll take pictures of them. You’ll surprise yourself by feelings of longing when you actually miss the cute little runts. So you’ll fish out your phone and look at pictures lovingly, send them hugs and kisses in your mind. Eventually, you’ll be accepted as family and every arrival will be met with happy wagging tails, wet noses at your feet and gentle demands for petting. All pretence of good behaviour for “guests” too will fade away and you’ll love them anyway. All this and more happened with Leo. He was a special, special puppy who crept into my heart in a way no puppy has. I had mad respect for his underwhelmed-by-everything, too-cool-for-everything-unless-it’s-food demeanour. I loved his focus on all things food and I will truly miss his gentle giant presence every time we visit D and UT going forward. All I know is that special place in puppy heaven with an unending supply of pork sausages just found it’s most ardent occupant. And the loss is entirely ours.

The entire week, weekend and beyond has carried this heavy energy. The bittersweetness of it is inescapable. Wonderful things have happened, but not without a tinge of that heavy price being/to be paid. I’ve crossed paths with difficult times, and through the crises found the immeasurable gift of support, help and boundless love. I’ve ended journeys and felt the palpable beginning of new ones. I’m mad proud and excited for the way in which the universal energies of women are syncing up, but I feel drained and heavy with the pain it is making us all revisit. As much as life endures, it is not without death, surrender and difficult lessons in moving on. All of this is heavy, all of these are life-changing experiences.

One year ago: What coming home feels like: Revisiting old haunts II

Day 281: It’s dark and I think that I would give anything for you to shine down on me

It’s been a heavy week, and even though I am filled with thoughts and emotions I am actually completely at a loss for words. I have a September recap half typed out, I was meant to resume work today, and I planned to catch up on some sleep. But neither of those things happened. I didn’t finish the work I had to, I didn’t get much sleep and I didn’t finish the post I meant to. I just can’t find the words today.

One year ago: A good life is a life of goodness
Two years ago: Day 281: A picture

Day 278: It’s just another ordinary miracle

Surrender. Quietude. Knowing my body. These have been the three major recurring themes of my life these last couple of years, and more so over the course of this past year. And today, I realised it is exactly these very things that have come together serendipitously, beautifully over the last three days, the very last module of my course.

Ever so grateful for that serendipity and those connections.

Two years ago: Day 278: September

Day 277: It doesn’t matter, put the phone away

Reigning my mind back to class today, when actually it is at home with Niyu, where my dad is suddenly in charge and holding fort. Forever amazed and humbled by the ways in which the universe conspires to push the only real outcome from any circumstance.

Every morning the last three days I’ve contemplated skipping this module, and something within me pushed me to say no, I mustn’t. My dad has been silently lurking around, but very much been there and on top of things. And it’s given me the solace to put my phone down and go to class. This is an interesting and appropriate turn of events.

One year ago: Just do the next right thing, one thing at a time. That’ll take you all the way home.
Two years ago: Day 277: 109 kms done