Boombox updates

Things that have suddenly kicked back to life, despite this half-life existence, during this WIP time in Goa:

  1. The will to cook full goddamn meals. I mean complete with dal, dabzi, curry and the works. And I mean the urge went beyond that two-day surge of inspiration.
  2. The self-imposed WhatsApp shut-down. Bliss has returned. I cannot wait for this to be the norm again.
  3. The urge to go running. And I’m kicking myself for not carrying my sneakers with me.
  4. MUSIC.

VC got me a portable speaker for the Goa house, days before I arrived here. Sure, I asked for it really politely, but the fact that he obliged without so much as a counter-question kind of surprised me. You see, VC is the kind of freak who finds music to be a distraction in most spaces. And I’d include a club or lounge too. This has significantly affected my music listening patterns. I choose earphones more often than not, and even though I manage, it just isn’t the same, you know?

Our home in Bangalore saw a minor resurgence of music. And that further blossomed once VC moved out last month. When I’m alone with nobody to feel bothered and hassled by the music, it was expected I suppose. But it’s been over two weeks in Goa and I have to state for the record that we’ve been listening to a lot of music. Everyday. And yes, it’s a we, because VC is yet to object or protest or ask me to turn it down/off. He’s living on the edge by tolerating music that I turn on the moment I wake up, and since this is a much smaller house it’s not even like he can hide himself away somewhere and escape it. I’d go so far as to say he’s enjoying it, maybe? Because he’s asked about some of the music I played, downloaded some of my Apple playlists too.

I don’t know what has changed, but I like it.

Here’s what I have had on loop of late:

This album rushed back to my conscious mind after we heard it at the pizza bar, sitting under an awning of inverted baskets with lights embedded in them, casting the best glow. Listening to it while I cook works best!

I don’t know how it happened that I missed this entire album. I guess there’s something to be said of how quietly and consistently JM keeps churning these extra tight, powerful, moving albums. Just banging them out relentlessly, it’s hard to keep track. Turns out I’d heard a couple of tracks of it, but didn’t realise they were from an entirely new album. This track particularly hits me in the feels. It’s just so tight.

I’m late to the PK party. I’m almost ashamed to say I really liked this song because I’d hitherto dismissed him as repetitive and monotonous, whiny music for heartbroken desi millennials. And maybe that description will ring true in a while. But this track, and this album, has stayed I keep waiting for when it’ll get annoying and it hasn’t happened yet.

One year ago: Day 4: Going by the book (and all that I read in 2017)
Two years ago: 2016
Three years ago: Day 4: Love letters

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Inhale. Exhale.

And just like that, we’re more or less done. Yeah, still only more or less. I’d say about 95%. I’d like some more plants — indoors and out. Art and photographs on the walls and some more essentials in the kitchen. But for now, this will more than do.

Gratitude for the privilege that is a second home. In a second state. By the beach. For all the resources — monetary and otherwise — that came our way at the right time in getting this home up and going. For my folks who’ve cheered us on right from the word go when we put in our down payment on this home. For friends who pitched in all along in so many, many, many ways — I can’t even count the ways. For VC my rock. For VC my fellow-nester. For VC my all-time partner in crime who has more or less indulged my every whim as far as this home goes.

I feel like I can breathe easy now. Just like I did nearly two years ago. And five and a half years ago. And nine years ago.

I know this familiar feeling. And last evening, I was so grateful to have the house all to myself to just soak in it and let it creep into my bones. I’m home.

One year ago: Day 3: What is life
Three years ago: Day 3: Reminders and notes to self

Food and friendship

When the kind ladies at The Lookout Journal wrote in to ask if I could write a feature on food and how it forms such an integral part of documenting vignettes of my life, I was flattered. But also mostly shocked. That a) my blog interested someone enough to ask me to write for them and b) the angle they’d taken in talking about food was quite a refreshing departure from most things I’ve seen food-documenting in a while.

I didn’t end up writing the essay. What with being smack in the middle of travel, moving cities, setting up home, and continuing to work through it all. So they were kind enough to turn the opportunity into a Q&A with me instead.

I was deeply touched by how insightful the questions were, moving away from the most obvious and usual extension of food — nostalgia. Particularly inspiring for me to get down to answering their questions was the fact that really to got the heart of the place food occupies in my life especially this year — facilitating friendship with others and with myself. 

So here it is if you’d like to give it a lookie and a read.

***

It’s true. Food is such a vehicle for normalcy and finding grounded-ness.

This is the first meal I cooked at the new home in Goa and immediately I felt at home in a way that only cooking a full meal can make me feel. Even though it was just khichdi and aloo-fry. 

VC had been eating take out for over a month since he moved in. I had to buy a pressure cooker to begin with. But I went a little extra and bought a set of idli plates, a hand-mixie too. And I stocked up on a lot of masalas, which I’d been avoiding thinking VC is not going to ever cook an elaborate meal that will require them. Soon enough I realised the stupidity of that thought process. This is my kitchen too. I’m going to be visiting often enough. As soon as I gave myself the space to settle in, spices, pressure cooker and all, I immediately felt at home.

We have since had idlis and chutney, dal rice and anda-masala, aglio olio with mushrooms and sausages. On New Years Ever we even managed a barbecue for two — VC outdoing himself with a malai chicken (which had no malai hahaha) and paneer skewers. I tossed together some buttered veggies to go with it. It was simpler than I imagined, and we had a quiet, satisfying evening of it by ourselves.

***

Somewhere in the midst of it all R came to visit, and it happened to be the eve of VC’s birthday. So we bought our favourite chocolate cake for old time’s sake to surprise him with. And then on the birthday we had dinner at a quaint little “pizza bar” in North Goa.

I’m really enjoying exploring the food here. I didn’t do enough of it when I lived in Panjim, especially in the years just before I left. So I’m glad for the opportunity to be closer north. And for friends who’ve arrived bearing enthusiasm to make me get out and about. 

One year ago: Day 2: Gratitude. That is all.
Three years ago: Day 2: Love

Taking it slow

We spent all day today — all day except for a break for lunch and a snooze — in our night clothes and unbathed, painting furniture.

Deliberate, painstakingly slow, I realised only at the end of the day that it had been quite an exercise in relinquishing control — for VC, of the rush to get the job done, and for me, of obsessing over and being ring leader to make sure it’s a “neat” job.

Waiting for paint to dry meant what we thought would be a 3-4 hour job took all day. But that was the beauty of it all. It took an unplanned activity that we got into without much thought, to make a day of it.

When these chairs came home, I assumed I’d be doing this paint job on my own. Obviously, I assumed it wouldn’t interest VC, let alone hold his attention for an entire day.

I love that day 1 began with a pleasant surprise. And a lesson for me to allow myself to be helped. Even without asking.

They say what you do on the first day of the year sets the tone for the rest of the year. And if the contentment we’re feeling right now is anything to go by, this has been a good start. There was pleasure in having head, heart and hands all in, intimacy in working together and chattering through it all, camaraderie in the occasional laughter non-stop music. And all this while creating things that will go into making our home a little cosier.

Goa a second time around has been special. This trip, especially so. Something about making a home, our own home, has triggered a lightness about me. It has freed a little bit of me in an inexplicable sort of way.

I never want to forget what it feels like to be this free. This happy. This absorbed in building a life that fits and makes sense to me. And us. This interested in scribbling little anecdotes that will become slices of memories in the album of my life.

One year ago: Day 1: Onwards and upwards
Three years ago: Day 1: Move more

Day 365: December

Eyes wide open

On the first day of this year, I wrote a post that was meant to be a low-key, low-expectations, chill sort of post with things I wanted from the year. I look at it now and think wow, that’s really not low key. But I also look at it and think damn, a lot of that happened and got done.

I wished for more honesty. Of myself and of with people around that matter to me. I think this happened in some measure. More with myself than with people around me — that’s still learning process for me.

I wished for more vulnerability. This happened, in waves and troughs. It had it’s peaks and dips. Thanks to the course and now therapy, I’ve become aware of how much more I want of this and am keen to go deeper.

I wished for the ability to deliver my promises, on time. I think this was specifically related to work, which I didn’t know then was going to be the least of my priorities this year. But the little I did, I was fairly good about. Deadlines were met more often than not — this was kind of a big deal for the eternal procrastinator that I am. But best of all, slowing down on work and trying new things gave me some clarity about the kind of work I am now willing to put my mind to, and the kind I absolutely don’t want to do for some time to come.

So I didn’t swing back smoothly from yet another hiatus like I’d wished. The hiatus saw an unexpected extension. And then a detour. I didn’t pitch a single story after February. I changed course and did different kinds of writing, but yes, I did deliver better first drafts, quicker. Unexpectedly, I’ve become a little more aware of how to work smarter instead of harder.

I wished that VC and I move ahead in our business plans with alacrity and focus. And this happened too. Just not in the manner I imagined at the time I wrote the post. Life happened, and business followed in entirely different ways.

I wished for courage to break out of patterns I have with friends, to break old patterns that keep me from digging deeper and giving (and receiving) a higher level of kinship. Oh jeez, this one was a toughie. 2018 saw more people in my life than I have ever had in many, many years now — I reconnected with old friends, I made many, many new ones. And the best part — not all my friendships were alike like they once used to be. I have entirely different friends for a range of different activities. I know this happened because I’ve opened up. In some ways. But I’ve also realised in what ways I haven’t. I’ve realised why I still feel a deep loneliness that cannot be filled by numbers, despite how much the people landscape has changed in my life. I hope to sit with this and understand it better in the coming year.

I wished for simplicity. In the smallness of my day to day life as much as in the bigness of the things I chase. This wasn’t entirely true for me this year. If anything, I let go and lived big, thrilling in extravagance and all things an older me would deem unnecessary. And maybe a lot of it was, but from where I am now, I see it as a necessary step in the curve in getting to the point of realising and being honest about the fact that my life is anything but simple. I am privileged as fuck, and simplicity is a construct I crave for. A construct that makes my life look like something it truly isn’t. I hope to crack this one some, in the coming year. Finding some balance and a middle-path to a life that is simple, mindful and eco-conscious, while also being realistic and real about the inherent privilege that allows me to even have this train of thought and make this an aspect of focus.

Ending the year in Goa has set the wheels in motion towards this.

I wished for a little more travel. Not just holidays, but chances and ways to experience life outside of the set patterns that we know and exist in. And this happened. Oh how this happened. 11 out of 12 months featured travel this year, going west as far as Europe, east to Thailand yet again and closer home as near as Goa many, many times over, each trip so different from the one before. It opened our hearts up, it tore me up some, it made me desperate and it settled something in me too. And it contributed a fair bit to VC’s and my decision to live apart.

I wished for just a little bit more discipline in terms of daily habits. This was a big fat no. Very early on I gave up trying to be rigid with myself about this because I realised it wasn’t going to be a time of any sort of curtailing, but of flowing with the flow. I hope to regain some balance around this, and it’s interesting to see that the habits I want to inculcate in the coming year are things I didn’t even know I’d want to do 12 months ago.

***

If this is a post measuring all the ways in which I’ve grown this year, I have to say bullshit to everything above this line. Most of all, this year I realised that my need to measure and make goals and projections, no matter how well-intentioned, is also a manifestation of a much more deep-seated tendency to over-achieve. This plays out in everything I do, from making myself write a post every day (and I did it without missing a single day this time around – ho hum) to finishing a reading challenge, to wanting control over my home and routine and sometimes that of VCs too, to hyper curation of everything. This year, quite unconsciously and unknowingly, slowly parts of this began to fall away until in December I was left wondering what there was that I could hold on to and how I could measure this year. I was looking at nothing tangible. Absolutely nothing.

Only experiences. A whole treasure chest of them.

And suddenly, I no longer wanted to open and revisit them in a look-back post. I just want to let them be. I want to slow down and just be. With no finish line in sight. This year, I did a lot of things under the broad umbrella of working on myself. What I didn’t know I was also doing in the bargain was laying the foundations for this already.

I dropped the need to hustle. I rewired the part of my brain that believed the hustle added value to my life. I allowed myself to change my mind over and over and over. I allowed myself to choose the easier path without feeling like I had somehow failed. This was wildly new.

I chose to do the quiet work of building on myself. The work that brings in no bucks and has no visible results to show.

I became comfortable with the idea of giving myself to the business of I. So it was a lot of me, me, me 100% of the time.

I finally realised this was entirely okay.

I learned that not everything has to — or will — turn out matching the projections I may have imagined. Some journeys don’t have fixed destinations. Only milestones that keep changing as I go along. I learned to observe how the journey has contributed to me. This doesn’t render the effort or time spent useless. These are not small steps. These are all big, important parts of the journey.

And this, while difficult to learn and digest, has been precious.

I became willing to open my eyes wide and keep my heart open more often than not.

I found myself a little bit. Outside of being a wife, sister, daughter, friend. I got addicted to learning and growing into me. And I realised this journey will only keep teaching me how much more I have yet to learn and grow.

One month ago: Day 338: November
Two months ago: Day 305: October
Three months ago: Day 284: September
Four months ago: Day 246: August
Five months ago: Day 219: July
Six months ago: Day 184: June

Seven months ago: Day 152: May
Eight months ago: Day 134: April
Nine months ago: Day 92: March
Ten months ago: Day 60: February
Eleven months ago: Day 32: January

One years ago: Crossing over
Two years ago: Day 366: December

Day 364: Expand your mind, take a look behind

Next year, I’ve decided I’m going to ditch the GoodReads challenge, stop obsessively compiling a to-be-read list and just pick up and read whatever catches my fancily, on the go. Organically. The hyper-curation has made my to-be-read list so long and unwieldy, it’s almost intimidating. And I’ve missed out on reading things as and when they’ve cropped up and struck a chord. By the time I get to said book in the list, the moment of inspiration has passed and the impact is lost.

Things that didn’t go to plan this year: finishing 40 books, finishing every book I started (I abandoned and/or didn’t read continuously about 5 books this year — including the one in this picture) reading on holiday (I read nothing in Europe and nothing this time around in Goa). Things that did: read more fiction. Which further tells me to let go of the plan, in general. And flow with the flow.

That’s my plan what I’m looking for next year. But for now, here’s a list of all the books I read this year. A list like I did last year and the year before last. I’m aware this is still a reflection of an obsession for completion making me do this, but I also do this for myself and for anyone else who might want to pick a book up from something they’ve stumbled on somewhere in this blog, but it’s impossible to find at a late date.

Here goes.

  1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson
  2. I’ll Give You The Sun, Jandy Nelson
  3. Ravan and Eddie, Kiran Nagarkar
  4. Eleanor Oliphant is Absolutely Fine, Gail Honeyman
  5. The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
  6. UsDavid Nicholls
  7. The Rules Do Not Apply, Ariel Levy
  8. Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
  9. The Desire Map, Danielle LaPorte
  10. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami
  11. Reasons To Stay Alive, Matt Haig
  12. Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty
  13. Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life, Dani Shapiro
  14. Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
  15. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, Roxane Gay
  16. What I Know For Sure, Oprah Winfrey
  17. An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
  18. Standard Deviation, Katherine Heiny
  19. The Language of Baklava, Diana Abu Jaber
  20. Ballad for a Mad Girl, Vikki Wakefield
  21. Landline, Rainbow Rowell
  22. All the Good Parts, Loretta Nyhan
  23. Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home, Jessica Fechtor
  24. Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”, Lena Dunham
  25. Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney
  26. Barbara the Slut and Other People, Lauren Holmes
  27. The Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, Tishani Doshi
  28. French Milk, Lucy Kinsley
  29. The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
  30. All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
  31. Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books, Cara Nicoletti
  32. Cyber Sexy: Rethinking PornographyRicha Kaul Padte
  33. A Room of One’s OwnVirginia Woolf
  34. Born a CrimeTrevor Noah
  35. Gachar Gochar, Vivek Shanbhag (Translated from Kannada by Srinath Perur)
  36. Normal People, Sally Rooney
  37. 60 Indian Poets, Jeet Thayil
  38. Sultana’s Dream, Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain

All the books: 2016
All the books: 2017

Two years ago: Day 364: Redemption reading

Day 363: Would you rewind it all the time

I’m definitely not finishing my reading challenge for 2018. Which is kind of a pity because I pledged to read 40 books by the end of the year, and I came so close for a change. I had such a good run, with a super good ratio of fun, enjoyable books too. But for various reasons I’m not going to make it to the “finish” and I’m trying not to psych myself into finishing it somehow, as I am known to otherwise. Anyhow. Here’s what I read last.

Gachar Gochar, Vivek Shanbhag (Translated from Kannada by Srinath Perur)
I gobbled this book in under 24 hours on my weekend away in Auroville with A.

It is such a good book — one of the best I’ve read this year. And it’s probably a sign of the banging translation job on this one that it made me wish I could read the original in Kannada. Just so I can get a deeper sense of the regional, colloquial nuances. This is a story of a middle-class family reeling in the aftereffects of sudden monetary success in newly liberalised India. Set in an old Bangalore that many of us have known some elements of, this was all kinds of heartwarming, nostalgic and riveting. If you have a penchant for Indian writing this is a must-read.

Normal People, Sally Rooney
I loved Rooney’s other book — Conversations with Friends — so much that when I heard she has a new book out I got my hands on it immediately. I also read this one in about a day in Auroville (yeah we did not much else than eat and read that weekend – blissful!). This is a book that talks about regular things — youth, love, relationships, passion — but twists it all up in knots, telling a story that can be easily passed off as simple and frivolous, when actually its a subtly political and deeply tender and moving. I enjoyed Normal People almost as much as I did Conversations with Friends, and for the same reasons. The writer in me has huge respect for this artful skill of telling simple stories that cut so deep in the most casual, matter of fact style.

Sultana’s Dream, Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain
I picked this amazing book up in the bookshop at the visitor’s centre at Auroville, on A’s recommendation. It’s a short, quick read — a very old story, in fact — about a woman’s reverie into a veritable feminist dreamland, incredibly well illustrated by Durga Bai, a tribal artist. It was only after I finished the book that I realised the book I’d bought was merely a modern edition of an old classic. That’s how timeless and relevant this story is. It’s a great

60 Indian Poets, Jeet Thayil

I’ve never been big on poetry. I have always felt studying it (and my staunch efforts not to) in high-school and college killed it for me. But I’ve been drawn to poetry this year. A gifted this Tishani Doshi collection to me earlier this year, and then recommended this one as a good place to begin exploring Indian poetry and I cannot agree more. It’s an excellent (and large, formidable) selection, for one. But more than that it is interspersed with little pieces of text — anecdotes, interesting information about the poet, detailed bios — all across to really beef up the poem and give context. This is a keeper of a book, and one that I will keep going back to. I’ve already gifted it to three other people. It’s just that kind of book.

Title inspiration:

Two years ago: Day 363: Rewind

Day 362: Be kind to the growing mind

What a ride it’s been this year, all the wheels and various moving parts of my being moving to nurture a mind that works for me and with me. A mind that has the ability to stay when everything about my body (and brain) wants to flee. A mind that has a capacity for joy. A mind that has tasted strength in vulnerability and wants so desperately to let that creep under my skin. A mind that has come so very far, and is longing to go the journey ahead. A kind mind to call my own.

I’m just so very grateful. For everything.

Two years ago: Day 362: Time

Day 361: Take me to your heart

I’ve enjoyed spending a whole day at home — a first in this home. And I’d like to swap locations with VC for a bit.

One year ago: 2018: Shut up and drive
Two years ago: Day 361: Spinning the wheel

Day 360: I just want the realness

A day that begins like this can only go well. And today was that kind of day.

One year ago: Warm sound

Day 359: Lay down all thoughts

I’m taking the downtime to really put it all down. Rest my mind a little. I’m not succeeding all the time. But I’m still trying.

This year was filled with more new experiences than any other in a while. And yet, this year I came face to face with loneliness. I don’t mean that as a lack of people. I mean loneliness like this cloud that chases me around, always looming like a darkness waiting to descend. I mean really facing and acknowledging the truth about this pattern of loneliness that’s like a theme that threads through all the stories in my life.

This year, I gained weight again. And despite all the positivity I’ve felt about my body, there have been days when it has bothered me. When I felt fat and ugly.

This year, despite everything I’ve realised about boundaries and saying no, I said maybe instead of a clean no, more times than I care to admit.

This year, I worked on myself more than I ever have. In fact I’ve worked so hard at it, I cringe at the word work, despite all the good that came from it. I need a new word.

Despite all that work, right at the end of the year I’ve woken up to some pretty groundbreaking realisations about myself. The kind of realisations that have left me on very shaky ground the last few days.

I’m more self-sacrificing than I’d like to believe.

I’m not as comfortable with vulnerability as I thought I could be. In fact I’m so quick to build an armour of defence, when I’m feeling vulnerable.

I’m not as good at forgiving myself as I am at forgiving others.

I suppose the good thing is despite realising all of this I’m mostly left feeling and thinking, so effing what? 

The one thing I know for certain is I’m more open to change and growth than I have ever been before. I have that. And so, tomorrow is a new day, next week is a new year. I’ll live, I’ll try again. I’ll keep trying and I’ll grow.

One year ago: Morning song

Day 358: Relax, take it easy

It’s probably a combination of end of the year lethargy and dealing with the chaos that has been getting the house set up and hanging with friends and dealing with things that are coming up for me in therapy. But the result is I’m feeling that taciturn energy-saving mode again. There are things to say, I’m writing furiously in my journal. But I also want to just stay with it and keep it within for just a bit. Just let things be and marinade in it slowly. Witness it and see what happens, for a change.

I’m feeling like I might abandon this post-a-day habit just short of the finish line that’s just next week.

I’m also not going to finish my reading challenge for the year. Just a few books shy of the nice round figure.

There are times in my life when I have chased goals and round figures and taken great joy in producing (to myself) a report card at the end. This is not one of those times.

Two years ago: Day 358: Home is where the yellow roses are

Day 357: Let the water lead us home

Gratitude: Goa homemaking edition.

I’m grateful for all the minds and hands that have gone into making a home from the shell of a house we came to some time ago. It’s taken time, and it’s been all kinds of trying, but we’re finally almost there.

I think back to how things were nine years ago when we first came here, with just cartons full of shoes and clothes and absolutely nothing to make a home with. I remember how hard it was being in a new place where we didn’t know anybody at all, figuring out places to buy essentials, not being able to afford furniture, feeling totally at sea and all alone. And I think of how this time around our experience has been completely the opposite. The sense of familiarity and homeliness in Goa aside, this time around, we’ve been surrounded by overtures of help, friends who handed down furniture, surprise interventions of the right thing showing up at the right time. And it made me realise how little of the stuff that’s gone into it is our own. It’s a product of mostly people’s kindness and generosity. Only the marginally better ability to receive it is our own.

That little makeshift kind-of settee is actually a baby bed that my aunt S didn’t want to let go of after her babies had outgrown it. So she offered it to me to keep just when we needed seating in the new home.

That teak-wood book case belonged to my great grand father, and after many years in our old Goa has finally found a forever-home in this one.

Those curtains were the first thing that went up in this home. D helped me one morning, and it was one of the first moments I felt this house had potential.

Before VC moved in here, he (and I for a bit) were camped out of D’s home for a whole month. When VC eventually moved, he took the liberty of taking a comforter and pillow with him. To use on the mattress D had passed on to us. Along with a set of side tables that made the only furniture VC has had for a whole month. Last week D handed down an extra double bed, complete with a set of side tables, completely changing over our visions of slumming it on the floor for at least 6 months before we felt ready to buy ourselves a bed.

The jute chairs in our terrace are about as old as I am, and came to us from my parents. They’re sturdy and great for sitting outdoors, but are in need of re-stringing and I hope to do that myself next week.

Our entire kitchen and bedroom wardrobes were made by an efficient, creative and very, very polite carpenter in Bangalore. My father designed and instructed him, while he built it all in Bangalore, then collapsed it all, neatly packed it, transported it to my home there, stacked it in storage. I then arranged a transporter, had it all packed and sent to Goa. The carpenter then landed up in Goa a day after I did and got to work, assembling it all in a record 2 days. Achieving this would have been unthinkable in Goa.

That dinette was my father’s idea and it trumps our idea to stick a table in such a small kitchen-living-dining space.

Starting last month, this has been a testing period — more for VC who actually lived in a non-home for the most part — in trying to get shit done. It’s holiday season and finding workmen is getting increasingly hard. And even in between much complaining and cribbing on my part, things are shaping up.

I’m grateful for all the help I got, and that I continue to get. It has been such a massive blessing as we begin again.

Two years ago: Day 357: Cutting the fat

Day 355: All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise

I was initially quite unsure about living so far away from Panjim. From civilisation and amenities, and the comfortable life that I had created for myself the last time around. My life depended a lot on accessing the things I need the most, after all. It still does. But five days into being here, three of which were spent driving around all day in the far north, have made me realise that the kind of things I depend on (and would like to make a part of my life in Goa) now have changed.

Second chances come for a reason. There’d be no point in re-creating once again, my life as I knew it back then. And yesterday, I realised I’m happy for this chance to be away from Panjim.

For one, from the few times I drove through, it feels unliveable. It has all the chaos and claustrophobia of Bangalore, almost. And it’s slowly losing its quintessential charm, which breaks my heart.

Second, I’m closer to the beach. Given the snarling traffic jams and multifold increase in traffic, I’m pretty sure living in Panjim would have meant close to no beach visits. I’m hoping that will change with the easy access I now have.

Three, I’m feeling far more inclined to the idea of Goa as a different life from the one I have in Bangalore. I’ve been wondering why the quiet life in Goa attracts me, and I realise all the reasons I list are of things that are so unique to being away from Bangalore. It’s futile for me to come here and lament the lack of, or try and recreate a little bubble of city-life conveniences. Yes, life here means driving out on my own for every little thing. It means precisely 2 restaurant delivery options. It means spotty Internet. Maybe that has a place too. In many ways the struggles of getting this home up and going have taken me back to the way things were when we first moved here. When Panjim itself was far less fancy than it is today, when it presented far fewer options, and everything took much more effort and involvement than it would have needed in a big city. It was partly stressful and partly annoying, but I know how that played a role in softening me some. In building some resilience and patience. And I’m beginning to think this second chance is actually a chance to do-over those parts of myself too. To brush off the city-slicker cynicism and get my hands dirty and in touch with the roots again.

***

All of the above thoughts inspired and festered on a day-long jaunt in North Goa yesterday.

S and I caught a blissfully lazy, late breakfast. Much like we used to some weekends from a life in another time.

Of course that meant we had to lazy around, drive around and kill time to make space for the large and satiating late lunch that followed.

And then we finally made it to the beach. Which was just lovely.

As always with S, there was music. Lots of good music.

And as always with Niyu, out popped the watercolours.

I could get used to this again.

Two years ago: Day 355: Too much nature ho gaya

Day 354: Find my direction magnetically

It’s fitting to be in Goa as I head to the end of the year, because everything always slows down for me when I’m here. Even in the midst of ongoing house work, despite the hectic journey here and now entertaining visiting friends and the like, there is a slowness about being in Goa that I have come to appreciate and crave.

I spent a fair bit of time just writing last week. Not working. Not blogging. Just writing. Pondering, imagining, living words about what I feel is to come in 2019 and broadly which way I’d like to move. Very organically, subtly, I’m being led towards a path I didn’t know was just around the corner, even just one month ago.

Some weeks ago, I heard someone say:

Where focus goes, energy flows.

and I see now, what it means to “put my energy” into that which I want. I always imagined that state to be one of toil and hardwork. But it looks nothing like it from where I’m at today.

I always ask for my new year to be “well done” but this year, I feel I’d like 2019 to be only medium-sized rare. Tender, juicy, soft at the heart. With room to build all kinds of flavour.

Two years ago: Day 354: Old and mighty