Sneaky thrills

Living on the edge, at the fag end of 2020 has come to look like this.

Going to a favourite breakfast joint, but refusing to enter the crowds to eat breakfast. Instead, lurking in a corner of the parking lot, drinking a coffee quickly and enthusiastically. And leaving leaving feeling like you’ve carried out a drug delivery successfully.

This is as far as excitement levels can go.

One year ago: Step-up
Two years ago: Some things will never change
Three years ago: Back to base

Twist

I’ve been in a tizzy today. My otherwise lean daily existence that involves not doing more than 2 things on any given day was thrown off by an Instagram tag that sent a dozen folks into my inbox, ordering the coconut oil I have on offer. I’m happy for the flooding requests, but because they all came in at one go, I spent the morning fulfilling them all pronto. That’s all it took to throw my day askew — having to fulfil a bunch of orders that I had to organise and send off through Dunzo. I overshot my stipulated screen time by 3 hours because of it, and scrambled to do the other regular things I had to do like cook lunch, finish a submission, take two readings and catch a nap — in between it all.

There was another majorly development that caused massive disappointments for VC and me this morning, and I got my period, which also threw a spanner in the overall mood. I was in pain and in a tizzy, and sad all at once. At the end of the day though, said disappointment was reversed, and I momentarily felt the compressed collapse when your heart dives deep into your tummy, on a rollercoaster ride, and things were alright again in my head and in my world.

But I have ended the day overwhelmed. I’m glad days like this are the anomaly these days and not the norm. Because I cannot function like this anymore. I struggle to multi-task and I feel really stretched when there are too many asks of my time and attention.

Ended the day with this sweet cotton candy sunset, just as things were returning to happy around here.

One year ago: Satisfaction
Two years ago: I don’t know if it’s even in your mind at allI don’t know if it’s even in your mind at all

On moving ahead

I have phases where I feel very together, solid, self-assured and at peace with where I am and how I am moving forward. And then I also have blips where I lose ground. I feel self-doubt, sometimes fear, and uncertainty is hard to embrace unless I have something with which to get a hold on something, anything, in the future.

A misplaced goal. A borrowed aspiration. An unnecessary benchmark.

I have noticed that when I am on shaky ground about where I am at, the following things happen:

  1. I get judgemental about the lives of people around me
  2. I can be extra critical of myself, and people around me
  3. It’s hard to be empathic
  4. I begin to “borrow” ideas from people around me. Things I see online, or “inspiring” folks around me, and I very easily imagine that these are things I aspire to
  5. I feel the tug to perform at being someone that lives and cares about those ideas

Noticing this has really helped me stop and think a lot of times, before I post stuff on my Instagram. It’s that middle step between points #4 and #5, where I’m able to stop, breathe, step back and remind myself what I have that account for, and what the post I am about to make is actually seeking to do. And then ascertain whether it’s necessary or not.

But what it’s really made me see is how shame is an old story that shows up in so many sub-narratives, rearing it’s head in so many different avatars, begging me to return to status quo. By kindling the critical, judgemental, insensitive parts of me, it somehow tries its hand at keeping me where I am, encouraging me to resist growth. By inducing fear, but also quickly giving me a false (and frightfully temporary!) sense of superiority and bravado by making me feel like I’m somehow better than everyone else, and where I once was.

So I might as well be happy with where I am no? Where’s the need to move ahead?

The question I can I move ahead, level-up, without this compulsion to run my current state down?

One year ago: Unhappy independence day
Two years ago: New way, new life
Four years ago: Sunday

Coming back to life, again

Taking a break from the Monday Tarot Message this week. Because, I’ve had a very challenging past week, and weekend too. Just dealing with a lot of emotions — like I said here — and trying to stay with it, rather than disconnect and float off into fantasy land where everything is changa si. Things weren’t good. But it is the way it is when you confront challenging emotions, make strides with accepting discomfort and internalising difficult realisations.

I was excessively sad. Grief is too small a word for what I was going through. And there was also anger, as I mentioned the other day. So much anger at being gaslit, and what that did to me, unconsciously baiting me in to a process I could have sidestepped.

I was on edge, irritable and lashed out on everybody and everything, very, very easily. And so to avoid doing that, I went under a bit. Incommunicado.

I’ve traversed a world of emotions in the last seven days, and with an intensity that I haven’t felt in a while. What’s more, it brought a feeling of being unmoored, which I haven’t felt since about 2016. The thing about unraveling and diving into the grief pool is that it makes everything watery and dilute. I lose sight of where I’m at and how far I’ve come. And when the present is clouded, the past takes over so easily.

The incident at class triggered something so deep this time. I confronted really old, old narratives that my logical brain knows I have moved past. And yet, there they were, dragging me down again. I had a surge of memories from wayyyyy back, like years 1-6 in school. Some that I had buried, some that I didn’t even know existed. Painful, not too pleasant ones. Worries around success and money, that I absolutely certainly have a much more flexible, soft and clear approach towards now, surfaced in their old avatar. I felt extreme lack in so many fronts. And almost all of this attacks my self-worth. Cumulatively, I went nose-first into the pit of self-pity, beating my own worth down with all I had. Between Monday to Friday, I had gradually pulled my life apart and was on the way to convincing myself it is all for naught.

Its also been excessively rainy, and while the sun comes out we haven’t had bright, sunshiney days in over ten days now. The weather has officially crossed that fine line between sexy and wonderful to downright gloomy.

When I don’t see the sun for a considerable time, I get the blues, I do. VC snapped this picture of me just hanging out in the balcony, watching the daily 4 pm rain, wishing for just a spot of sunshine. Basic, everyday comforts like chai that VC makes for me, and creature comforts like home-delivered sourdough croissants have really gotten me through.

The weekend was a good transit, a slow moving from what felt like a very unanchored and chaotic state in the days before to today which has me back on solid ground again. The coming up for a breath of air, letting my arms and legs relax after a week of flapping them around to stay afloat while a storm of emotions raged on within and around me.

The good news is my laptop got miraculously fixed, very, very easily. Leading me to believe it was but another text the universe sent my way, in what was a very..ahem..testy week. I leaned on got very clingy with VC in a way that I haven’t in a while, the poor thing. After trying to stay on top of things, and failing, all week, I took the weekend to just stay in. I did work some, but mostly we just rested, I cooked and got the house in order, which is all very grounding for me. Things I wasn’t very successful with doing during the week itself.

These days I feel the waves of emotions come and go, within my body. The more tuned into to my physical body I become, the more I see how my emotional body impacts it and vice versa. By Saturday night I felt the weight literally lift. My eyes felt bright, open and my face less pressured and compact. My breathing that was shallow, was open and easy again.

Cumulatively, it’s been upwards of two weeks since I have been wallowing in the dumps, in varying degrees of distress. It goes all the way back here and here and got progressively harder as the days when on, as you’ll recall seeing here and here.

But that was last week. And then the weekend brought fresh energy. VC and I had some spontaneous but important conversations that I didn’t know needed to be had. Some words I needed to hear, some pieces falling into place. Some reassurance, some support I needed, but didn’t realise it was right here for the taking. On Sunday, I just took the time to savour the return of energy and normalcy. We spent the day with VC’s family, which surprisingly was a good break for me.

It was only over the course of the weekend, when I relaxed and quit literally returned to my body, that I realised I’ve been feeling quite emotionally knackered the past few days. So I eased up, and went to bed with a belly full of good homely food, having spent a few hours setting up my old-new laptop again, and knowing somewhere in the pit of my being that the new week is going to be different.

Lo and behold, I was right. This morning I felt alive again. Like a butterfly that’s emerged out of a pupa. We focus so much on the flourish and beauty of the emergence, not realising that the process of coming out is preceded by so much physical distress, thrashing around, exercising new muscles that will enable flight.

I felt freedom in my body this morning, a new energy. New wings. New light. New day. It’s easy to think of growth as a peachy, honey soaked journey where you move from milestone to milestone all the better for it. Yes, we’re largely always better from our experiences of growth, but they are never without their share of stretch and deeply painful challenges.

It’s also very easy to deny myself the allowance of feeling and being challenged in this way, because of the assumption that doing self work somehow makes me immune to it. It’s a constant process of reminding myself how human I am. That in healing means opening up to feeling things more keenly, allowing for a lot more emotional onslaught, but learning to handle it with gentleness and care.

I am only human. I’m coming back to life. All over, yet again.

(Monday Tarot Messages will resume next week.)

One year ago: This way or that
Two years ago: I request another dream
Four years ago: I’m reading again, so books

Mehh

It’s been a really stupid day. And a stupid week. Testing my patience and resilience to the max and I’m happy to report I didn’t allow myself to be tested and come out on top, rather gave in to the overall shittiness that has ensued.

I a bit stumped (and also angry) to think the personal upheaval of being in class last week might have triggered it all, making these slightly challenging (otherwise normal) circumstances a bit more exaggerated in my experience. I’ve gone from being okay with the ebb and flow of everything to totally resenting and resisting the slump I’ve found myself in this week.

There is a definite grieving of an ending. Of this phase of learning finishing and having to leave the nest. But there is also immense grief of being consistently gaslit through this experience. And such sadness at the realisation that I have spent so much energy in gritting my teeth and getting through, energy that could have been spent in being fully present instead.

At first I thought it was the energy dip that I usually go through after three days of intense work in class. But it’s persisted. Stayed and stayed and stayed. I’ve struggled through working out, I’ve been largely unmotivated, extra emotional. It’s never fun when I’m in this sort of a funk, but at least my work and the general state of togetherness I have managed to gather in the past months takes me thru.

That seems to have been turned upside down over the weekend. And a part of me is fucking pissed. Mad at events that transpired for triggering this spiral. Mad at folks. Mad at myself even a little bit.

Today, on top of all of this, my laptop has gone silently into the night. Dead. Third laptop in about 6 years. Which is ridiculous considering the amount I spend on them.

Overall it hasn’t been a kind week. It’s been hard to be happy even with the sparks I have had here and there.

This was one such:

First-time blooms on this most unsuspecting plant. It mostly looks like lush grass,of the wild sort. And I like it because I much prefer greens to flowers. But I least expected to see such a dainty, elegant bloom show up suddenly on this otherwise reedy plant.

It made my morning.

Other than that, I’m mostly wanting to just go underground for a bit and not come up till I don’t know when.

One year ago: Wash-out
Two years ago: July
Three years ago: What coming home feels like: Kinship, quietude and becoming

Go dark, go deep

It’s been hard to function optimally today. Just one of those days when the news feels heavier to take than I anticipated. Even though I haven’t looked at it much, the idea of what’s happening in the country today is giving me a physical reaction. An experience in my body that I have no words to explain.

I have had a busy few days. Lots of demands on my time but it’s been difficult to stay on top of things and accomplish any of it. My body keeps slowing me down and asking for pause. Perhaps to listen? To pay attention to what I’m feeling? And when I give in and pause, like I did today, I have been overwhelmed to the point of just wanting to lie down.

Today I feel heavy with accumulated grief. And broken, from the pain of this land I’m supposed to belong to. I feel disconnected within.

I was flabbergasted and simultaneously pacified when I found this today, trying to read up on Jung’s work around the divine feminine and the deep shadow. Flabbergasted because it’s resonates what I expressed in my post yesterday. Pacified because it makes sense.

I know that collectively working in the depths of the shadow is not a possibility. Not with the levels of hubris our leadership displays and emboldens in our people. The kind of bigness that leads us to believe we are the self-proclaimed benefactors of an imaginary God? When did we get so omnipotent? More than the divine source, protector of all life itself?

Is anyone else having a hard time processing this reality? This grotesque celebration of what is essentially the demolition of peace and hope, in the name of a building a structure that literally has no roots in reality, and exists on a purely mythological context? This ugly statement-making, evil message-sending like rubbing salt in still unhealed wounds, that is doing this on a day that marks the abrogation of 370?

How is this even happening?

I feel like the lights are turning off slowly. We’re going dark. I just hope some part of this means we’re going deep. Deeper into the shadow because I believe that is the only place from which the real new days, better days, hopeful days and peaceful days may emerge.

If I am being honest, I don’t feel as hopeful and optimistic today, as I’m trying to be.

I just hope I can be proven wrong and that we live to see a better day. To celebrate them in a better way. Laying the foundation stones on a legacy of hate and fascism, is not something I thought I’d see in my adulthood. And it doesn’t give me much reason to believe either.

One year ago: Content
Two years ago: Hold on to this feeling, when dreaming of leaving
Three years ago: Book ends
Four years ago: Stack overflow

Broken

I’ve spent the day feeling a bit heavy and sad about hitting the one year mark since 370 was abrogated. Thinking about how even one year down things are far from hreturned to normalcy, but slipped further into chaos, actually makes my eyes well up. That it is all just shrouded in silence, an entire state silenced, forgotten brings up so much grief for me. It hurts deeply, somehow.

I went for a long walk this evening. It wasn’t planned. But I needed the quiet and the time to be by myself and to just let my thoughts flow as the tears did.

I don’t know where we are going as a nation. This thought is not just troubling but very unsettling. I think of myself and how little time I feel I have, and wonder if I should be wasting it away in a country I no longer feel is my own.

The desire to leave and find elsewhere is real. Sure, every country on the planet has issues today, but I can think of at least a dozen where I feel safe, on the basis of my priorities in life at the moment.

I watched some videos of Shaheen Bagh today, feeling terrible that I didn’t make it there to witness it in person when I could. I cried watching the women, smiles on their faces, using their bodies to resist. How long will women continue to be the most vulnerable? How long will women have to stand in revolt, starting with our own bodies, within our own homes and further out into our streets and cities and lands beyond?

I know a fearless state is potentially nonexistent. I don’t know if I can ever be completely devoid of fear, but I like to dream of a land where these basic fears won’t chase me. A fear of speaking my mind, because I think differently. Fear of believing in things opposed to that of the status quo, the majority. The fear of looking, living and feeling differently from what “I’m supposed to feel”.

Fear of carrying my life around in a woman’s body. Fear of not conforming. Fear of letting too much show, having said too much, or feeling too much. A very real fear of never being able to live unguarded — physically, emotionally.

***

This is the reality we live in. The country is being ripped to shreds in every way possible. If you’re tuned into the news, you’ll know in how many, many, many ways. So many ways, it hurts. So many, many ways, it feels impossible to even think about how we’ll begin to make amends. It feels like an attack, and it feels very, very personal. Even I in my privileged bubble, feel afraid. And I feel rage. And I feel helplessness.

 ***

Most of us live in constant conflict with our shadow selves, whether consciously or unconsciously. It’s that deep dark place that holds all our vulnerabilities, our triggers, our fears and shame safe from being out in the open for all to see. And so we live in a way that denies its very existence. But that only amplifies and strengthens it. That which is kept under wraps, finds all kinds of ways to surface and be seen. And I think this is what is happening in this country. Generations of keeping our hypocrisies, our chasms and the fault lines of our sick, sick culture under wraps is what has brought us to this point in history where our shadow side as a nation is on full display.

As with any churn, a deep unsettlement ensues, bringing up both the sweet and sick, the benevolent and maleficent, the good and evil in (un)equal measure. In my personal journey, I have seen how working to excavate my sense of wholeness or personhood has required me to sit with my shadow. The dark spaces that hold these not so pleasant parts of me. And I wonder if as a nation this is our time of reckoning. To sit with the ugliness, call it what it is, not wish it away, not side step it, but sit right with it, name it and wait for the great churn to complete its tide.

If this pandemic has taught me anything, it is this. There is no getting to wellness without discomfort. Similarly, there is no getting to healing and wholeness, without first experiencing the many ways in which we are in fact broken.

On the eve of the day that marks a year since we snuffed out an entire state, erasing very specifically the experiences of millions of a certain community; on the eve of a day when this country will celebrate the inauguration of a temple whose very foundation is steeped in carnage; I feel broken today.

I feel broken.

Four years ago: So green

Grumps

Having a grumpy week and not feeling so good. I’ve turned to my cards and plants for solace. And I haven’t felt inspired to say very much.

Bleargh.

One year ago: New
Three years ago: Bangalore: a graphic novel
Four years ago: Interwebzy things

Strange days

Having my monthly enough-of-this-staying-in-nonsense vibes, but also this time it’s come amidst a really busy set of days, and just ahead of getting back into the classroom. A daunting three days of being in an online class, in front of a screen for about six to eight hours. Something I have long forgotten how to do.

It’s just one of those days where I can’t wait for the week to be done.

And by now I know the cycles that these kind of days are keeping. I know the loop, and so I’m riding this one out too.

Four years ago: 2016 monsoon earworms

Small annoyances

All of us woke, progressive, ahead-of-the-game folks: why are we watching Indian Matchmaking? Why are we watching it and posting about it, even if to make fun of it? We know this stuff. We know it’s going to be cringe-worthy, it’s going to trigger us, we know it doesn’t need more eyeballs. I’ve watched a lot of timepass TV in the last four months, but I’ve consciously decided I’m going to stay away from things that no longer sit with my values. And considering I’m always feeling like there’s not even Indian content that’s made for an audience like me, I feel even more strongly that I can no longer give into this sort of voyeuristic, guilty-pleasure viewing. If I want better, I’ve got to choose better.

I wish everyone would stop with the memes, the hot-takes and even the mockery. The show doesn’t need more eyeballs, and certainly not confirmation and proof of how many eyeballs have been directed towards it.

I’m not entirely sure what the sweet spot between showing the grotesque reality of a socio-cultural structure like this, and making an informed commentary relevant to this moment in time is, but just seeing the trailer, I feel like this is not it. We have to move past skimming the surface by embracing enough wokeness to garner brownie points and profit from it through viewership, while sidestepping delving into the depths of an issue so problematic and in need of exploration.

***

So deeply disappointed in Kangana Ranaut of late. I’ve been slowly sliding out of that fandom for over the last year or so, but nothing made me exit faster than the way she’s been piling on her own agenda onto the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput. Deeply distressing to watch the way she’s using her words, targeting and verbally abusing the same group of people she claims she belongs to and is fighting the cause for. It makes no sense anymore.

I’ve tossed this around in my head a lot in the past. Wondering if it is my conditioning that makes an aggressive, opinionated woman uncomfortable for me to take. But it isn’t. It’s the hypocrisy, the double standards, the blatant pandering one toxic establishment in the name of bucking the foundations of another. Most of all it’s the total lack of empathy and foolhardiness of her arrogance that is making me shame my head every time she opens her mouth.

***

I’ve been wondering about this whole Bollywood debacle that’s droned on and on and on with absolutely no new insights being offered for a month now, and wondering how and why it’s occupying so much primetime news space, in a country and at a time when the pandemic is literally raging fury, floods are ravaging significant parts, while others are drowning in anarchy and complete breakdown of law and order. So many states reeling under the effects of a broken health system, no real, dependable answers and numbers from health officials from any corner about what we have on our hands and how we’re dealing, even four months into this.

But we’re so happy to get behind relative non issues like nepotism? Like we’re well on our way to finding that vaccine and making is available to the country? Like we’ve solved hunger, poverty and education?

This is where I smell a rat and call bullshit on Kangana’s rampage. She is a well trained arm of the forces that be. Extremely erudite in understanding the goals of the propaganda machine, fitting right in, harnessing all her clout and skills to deliver. Distractions, histrionics, dangerous rhetoric, pretend nationalism couched in nice sounding intentions. She’s aced this act since 2014. And she has been well rewarded for it.

So while the nation burns, lets please keep focusing on Bollywood and imagined issues of any relevance.

***

I was late to catch up on the Shubham Mishra video, but heck, it gave me chills to watch it and hear his impassioned words. I felt really physically afraid, in my body, thinking about the number of men — his entire army of followers — who would be emboldened by those words. And it really stoked a fire that’s been slowly gathering steam in the pit of my belly: 

I do not feel safe in this country. I do not feel safe to be a woman. I do not feel safe on the Internet. I do not feel safe in this society. I do not feel safe.

It has taken a lot of work to feel well, whole, and safe in my body. And I have made huge strides in this aspect. But it takes so little to slip back into fear.

Stepped out for a walk with VC this evening. My first outing in over 10 days. I decided to run ahead. And in no time at all, I realised I was being stared the fuck out. A feeling and a sense of self consciousness that I’d lost touch with because I’ve worked hard to move past it in many ways, and I’ve been indoors for the larger part of this year, which has given me space to stretch myself out. And forget others’ eyeballs.

My first instinct was to check if my nipples were showing. Second, double take over my clothes to see what was “inappropriate”. It is this deeply ingrained. Subconsciously, it is so easy to feel unsafe, and then blame ourselves for any danger we might feel.

I know it’s not much better elsewhere. But overall, I’m just so sick of this country. I’m just so done.

***

Even today, so far into this whole situation I saw loads of people without masks on. Old people without masks taking evening walks, mums pushing strollers with babies in them without masks on, construction site workers and contractors milling around without masks on, street-side vendors without masks on. All while I was sweating it out under my mask, while running. Making big glaring eyes at all of them, almost as if to cancel out their stares at whatever the hell they found so interesting to stare at me for.

***

But here’s a sunshiney picture from today. The skies were blindingly blue, but it wasn’t hot. The air was thin, cool and light to the touch. After several nights of heavy rain, and many rainy, wet days, it was lovely today.

And we came out of lockdown today. Two reasons why I decided to get out.

One year ago: Unpretty
Four years ago: Homebody

Out and about (not)

Things are fiiiine. I’m safe. I’m indoors. I’m healthy. I feel well. The fridge is full. The kitchen, stocked. I’m in fine company, not alone. My balcony views are pretty stunning, startlingly often. And yet, A pretty large part of me just deeply, deeply needs a good loaf about town. Or outside of town.

Let it be known.

One year ago: Grey
Four years ago: On Solitude

How much?

Ouuff, so much has happened in the span of just a week, and the weekend.

Over the weekend, VC and I realised it’s officially been over 100 days since we have been indoors. Granted, we’ve been venturing out some in the last month, it’s been nowhere close to “normal” or the way that the world outside has bounced back. We’ve still been limiting our outings and getting more stuff done per outing, to avoid repeatedly stepping out.

Over the last week though, we’d finally started getting out a bit, and entertained the idea of having service staff home, to tend to some long pending tasks that we have been putting off since March. Pest control. Some carpentry. A new couch. Running shoes. Pots for my balcony garden (that is mildly out of control right now).

But, over the weekend, our building had one positive case. And since we’re a small building of just 12 homes, a majority of which have senior citizens, the building voluntarily limited movement for a bit once again.

And so we were back to being in. More in than we have been actually because we had to isolate, until the BBMP came over and sanitized the building twice over. It was just a little over two days, but gosh, the gloom that descended over VC and me was quite something. On the surface we have gotten through this entire period of isolation quite okay. Riding the highs and lows because we’ve had each other, and my sister. Over the weekend the pall of gloom was a bit much to take. I’m certainly hitting my saturation point with staying indoors and self-isolating.

The desire isn’t so much about going out to do things like eat or hit a mall, but I’ve been feeling a sense of shrinking that isn’t sitting well, and is getting hard to keep under wraps. My body feels restricted and in need of expansion. The experience is of being stuck, while internally I am feeling such a deep urge for movement. And it’s beginning to test my patience, this holding both states and waiting and watching. A major part of me wants to get going. Sigh.

The darned virus is now literally at our doorsteps. While the world is opening up, and my desire to be out there is rising. The irony of it.

How much more?

Three years ago: What coming home feels like: love and abundance
Four years ago: Watercolour eyes

In a funk

It’s just one of those weeks. Where many things I cannot digest too easily have hit me all at once. I have days like this some times. And on those days, I choose the luxury of lying low, staying in and spending my time just being in the fullness of whatever I am feeling. This week, I didn’t have that luxury. Because after three months of a very minimal, home-bound routine, I ventured out and offered my time with volunteering to collect and deliver food to the migrants leaving Bangalore by the thousands every single day.

It was meant to be something I did for a few hours every week, but it very quickly ballooned into a massive operation that consumed me mentally, emotionally and physically. The need is enormous, the situation on ground is far worse than even the most honest media reports will have you believe. And even though I was overwhelmed from the suffering from the get go, I couldn’t get myself to step back.

I didn’t make the connection initially, because the adrenalin that kicked in from the relief efforts took me through most of the week. By yesterday though, my energy was flagging and I crawled into bed at noon, unable to function. Time-wise, I have also had to de-prioritise working out and eating healthy home cooked meals, to compensate for the hours spent working outdoors. These things are my anchors in any given day, and I really felt the effects of having to run on fumes without it.

I haven’t been able to eat a single meal in peace, thinking of the thousands and thousands and thousands of people we have been trying to keep fed and hydrated with bare minimum, collected entirely from neighbourhood mobilisation activities. I could no longer think about elaborate meals, let alone get myself to plan and cook them. I couldn’t put a morsel down my throat without feeling wretched inside.

I’ve been on the phone for more time than I have in a long, long time. I haven’t been able to relax and turn my mind off. My sleep has been shot to bits again. This past week has swept me away and put me in a strange state of mind. On the one hand I am overwhelmed and filled with hope to see how much and how quickly and large-heartedly citizens are willing to give of themselves. From contributions in neighbourhoods, to people galvanising relief efforts, to the team at the sites organising migrants, processing their paperwork and giving them food and drink and setting them off. I am beyond stoked at how much of all of this is being manned and handled by regular, average citizens. With lives and work put on hold, giving so much of themselves to this effort. But on the other, there is no escaping the hopelessness of this situation. I keep thinking how did we let it get os bad? Why weren’t we looking close enough even before the pandemic hit us? Why are we like this?

On the one hand, I feel like involving myself gave me some much-needed relief and channelised all that pent up frustration from months. But on the other, it plunged me quite deeply into a funk. Today, I felt so hopeless, I had a very, very compelling sensation of just wanting to exit my body. Just leave and escape this world. Everything feels so pointless in the face of the mammoth mess we are as a country. And no, there’s nothing, no silver lining and no bright spot, right now that can outweigh the heaviness of what I have seen this past week.

I have not been present to VC at all through all of this. I have had no mental or emotional energy to spare. I have been weepy, crabby, clingy, unreasonable for the most part. But he’s let me be all of it. And I am so grateful to have a home in him to come back to, where I can be as I am. Ugly, messy, imperfect and letting it all fall apart.

On a day like today, with clearly so much going on emotionally, internally, I don’t know what I’d do without this support. Where I can just be, not spoken to, no advice or solace needed (because there is none for a situation like this), just silence and presence. Presence.

One year ago: On boundaries: how they’ve changed my experience of friendship
Two years ago: Stop chasing shadows, just enjoy the ride
Four years ago: How blue?

Notice the rage, notice the silence

I listened to the frightfully articulate Resmaa Manakem on his On Being podcast yesterday. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Many threads of my personal journey are beginning to be woven into the landscape of the larger political canvas of our very existence. It’s becoming loud and clear to me that the person is deeply political, seeing as how it is a journey of clarifying my person values. I cannot shy away from this anymore. And that truth gets a little more cemented every day.

This past week, being up close helping with the movement of migrants — sourcing and delivering food and other essentials — realising in how many ways we have actually failed our society, I have really had to look at economic and caste Inequality and Inequity, the very fragmented shards of our broken, broken system right in the eyes.

What’s hit me the hardest is that these are lives (thousands and thousands of them everyday, just wanting to get home) and yet everything about the process, every step of the way forgets and negates that basic fact. The scenes at one of the many hubs around the city where migrants are being registered and organised to get on to the Shramik trains leaving the city, are nothing short of refugee camps. And seeing it all has made my heart heavy. Really heavy.

This is just Bangalore. I think of other cities, other hubs, other states, and the scale of our collective failure as a country is too much to digest. Everyday is excruciating, and the only thing giving me energy and hope in the mind-blowing coming together of communities in Bangalore that I have witnessed. This is something I am quick to forget. It’s easy, when all we see and consume is a steady diet of bad news, high on shock and horror.

I’ve had to come to terms with just how deeply systemic, cultural and utterly entwined divisiveness, subjugation and heartlessness is. Because of the work I do, cognitively I can pin this to trauma. My brain knows this, but my mind and my heart just won’t have it. I want and expect better of human beings. And yet, the reality is something else.

The podcast is a fantastic listen. For anyone interested in a shockingly accurate perspective of what’s going on in the world — and really this lies at the heart if every kind of inequality. Resmaa’s words speak right to this truth.

Trauma decontextualized in a person looks like personality.
Trauma decontextualized in a family looks like family traits.
Trauma in a people looks like culture.

When you begin to look at healing a “thousand-year-old” trauma of a people, you’ll see how it is mirrored right down to the traumas faced by individuals, at the level of the personality. And there’s hope when I see it that way.

He is fantastically clear, speaks powerful words without mincing them. He speaks of Race, but he could very well be speaking of Caste, our very own thousand-year-old collective trauma. And that’s what touched me the most. The universality of What Hurts, What’s Broken. And I hesitate to write this because there is so much talk about taking away space from Black Lives right now. I don’t mean to take away space at all. I know absolutely nothing about that fight, to even try. But I also see commonality, and in that way, what’s going on across the planet also hurts me.

It’s been an emotionally heavy couple of weeks and I see how it has reflected in my writing here. I used to feel a bit apologetic about that, and even express it here from time to time. But one thing that’s become very clear for me very, very recently is that healing involves leaning in more into what hurts. And this blog is a space where I will be doing that.

Like Resmaa says;

Notice the rage. Notice the silence.

The podcast too, reiterated that for me. There is no looking away form the discomfort and hurt of where we are as a race. We can begin to heal by looking at ourselves. The personal, is political. We are a traumatized lot, and because we don’t want to stop to heal, we continue to pass it on. And because we are a delicately balanced lot, existing in a precarious system of inequalities, we’re always retraumatizing the most disenfranchised amongst us, making them relive the worst atrocities, every single day.

Closer home, we really can’t talk about Development without talking about healing, without doing the work to own up to and re-contextualizing this trauma. And I realise how bloody far away we are from that. These are truly dark ages. This past week I certainly felt like we have regressed, slipped further below, dragged ourselves backwards as a nation.

Give the podcast a listen. It’s essential for every human being, I’d say.

One year ago: The written word 
Two years ago: Only happy when it rains

Authenticity is expensive

It’s been a confusing day. A day that has shown me very intensely that many times the price to pay for absolutely honesty and authenticity is loneliness.

Because people show me time and time again how they cannot value and hold it.

How they cannot handle it.

How they absolutely will compensate by bringing in their projections.

How easy it is for me to feel like the problematic one.

How quickly I feel responsible.

And how all of this can drag me back to my old narratives in a jiffy.

I’m fuckenn sick of people’s projections.

One year ago: Meeting myself   
Two years ago: Serendipity, do you believe that this makes sense?