Happy happy VC! It’s been a challenging year for you, and us. So I’m wishing that the year ahead sees good health, a wholesome and balanced life with many more photography adventures, good food, new work milestones and most of all ease and peace.
Happy happy VC! It’s been a challenging year for you, and us. So I’m wishing that the year ahead sees good health, a wholesome and balanced life with many more photography adventures, good food, new work milestones and most of all ease and peace.
It could have been a less than ordinary birthday. It could have. Given the lockdown and the slim supplies and an empty bar and what not.
But many special, not ordinary things happened.
I woke up to the remnants of a nights light rain. My adenium that I’d given up on six months ago burst forth to life, with not one but two bright death-defyingly pink flowers.
My mother was first to wish me.
My grandmother wished me by telling me she remembered my birth story vividly because she was the only one waiting outside the labour ward. She told me how they brought me out, still bloody and slimy, pink and wet, and in the twelve steps it took to get to the waiting area I’d managed to shove the entirety of my fist snugly in my mouth, vigorously sucking. Making wildly loud noises, both eyes looking deceptively placid. Apparently.
VC wished me every time he approached me. Approximately 36 times, I think.
We ate Maggi for lunch and I took a longer than long nap.
I woke up to a telephone call from an aunt who called to wish me, who I ended up speaking to for over 45 minutes about everything from getting older to why I am glad I didn’t have babies to the state of our country.
Another aunt wished me with a memory of my 1st birthday. A raucous affair in my grandparents home in Bombay, by the end of which I had abandoned all other kids, apparently. Stripped down to my diapers. And with a random string of colourful beads that had found their way around my neck, too long for me, bobbing around my baby belly.
My dearest Niyu cooked me this massive storm. And planned this epic, dreamy garden themed sundowner party of three. It was perfect, and unlike anything I’d have possibly had if it weren’t for the lockdown.
It began at 5.30 and ended close to midnight. There was some gourmet level finger food all made by her singlehandedly at home, fresh fruit and cheese, drinks form my dad’s bar hahahaha, sunlight fading, this overgrown garden that hasn’t been touched by the gardener in over a month, drawing games!, music and what not.
Dinner was a sumptuous Asian style cold noodle dish with shrimp and a side of kung pao meatballs.
I did the smartest thing I could have and Swiggy’d a salted caramel chocolate cake to myself, for myself. Yes, I do this a lot. I’ve done it before too — sort my own birthday cake out.
It was truly, easily one of the nicest birthdays I have ever had. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Niyu has an excellent track record of throwing great dinners like this, in general. But she has a particularly great track record with throwing me surprise birthday dinners. Which I have only ever reciprocated once — on her 18th. Such an ingrate, but what can I say? I’m incredibly lucky?
I came home thinking of how I have ended up with VC and Niyu on so many birthdays now. And they’re easily amongst the most memorable birthdays for me.
This past year I learned more than before:
That I don’t have all the answers.
That some questions can remain questions.
To say out loud “I do not have it together today.”
That I am finally getting to saying “I feel afraid and insecure.”
To feel keenly when I don’t need to feel pretty and happy. Energetic and chirpy. And to know that that is not a constant I want to aspire for.
How much I want to build the capacity to know what I don’t know. To hold myself through what I can’t fix. To accept what is not in my control.
That I can feel hopeful and happy about my personal life, experiences and journey, while simultaneously having my heart broken by what’s going on around me.
To be okay with the mess.
Happy birthday, ammsss! Here’s to many more years of sheepish giggles, fierce conversations and weird faces in the sunlight hahahaha.
I don’t say it aloud, because I’m only just discovering it and because I don’t want to jinx it, but you’re a pretty darn good role-model and an excellent prototype for what is to come for me as I grow. In your life and the way you have lived it, I see shining milestones and subtle inflections, clues for how I can navigate those same waters myself, all these years on.
And even though I will always be your child, I am enjoying growing up, being my woman to your woman.
Another revolution around the sun, VC.
Another milestone. Another year on walking this planet.
Another year obsessing about all the things that you do. Another year living in that fully committed single-mindedly focused way that you do.
Another year of simultaneously infuriating me with our polar opposites and softening me with our fundamental likeness.
Another year of inconveniencing me with unnecessarily heavy luggage all for another year of stunning pictures and memories from our travels.
And yet, I suspect this year will be a touch different. So as you step into the new, I wish for you a year of just enough surprise of magic and just enough comforting familiarity. A balance of enough challenges and the right amount of easy wins, too. A year of flow and ease, peppered with opportunities to stretch yourself. I wish for solidity and harmony as you continue to take life by the horns and grow from strength to strength like you have this past year.
Something tells me you have only just begun.
Happy birthday, old man :D
This has been a pretty significant year for me. But quite unlike significant times in the past that have had an unmistakeable flourish, this has been a quiet sort of significant year, with flecks of change, the tiniest shifts and movements flowing in, unnoticed. The sort of change that mostly only I and the people I am closest to know about or will likely notice.
For far too long I’ve been very shy about admitting how much I love my birthday. But the honest truth is that I love having a day dedicated to me, to look back on how far I’ve come, to give myself a good pat on the back, and to take stock and feel optimistic and really hopeful about the future. I’ve been fortunate to have this happen every single birthday thus far. So, even though I haven’t really admitted it in as many words, my folks, my sister and my husband already know how only too well, how much I love this day. To the rest of the world, I’ve always played the omg-it’s-just-another-day-it-doesn’t-matter act pretty damn well.
So, today is that day again, and I’m off to the beach to celebrate how grateful I am for the gift of another birthday, another year to travel around the sun.
I’m grateful for all that this past year has been — for the lessons it brought, for making me see that growing up sometimes requires looking back, accepting transgressions, grief, hurt, difficulties, but absolutely looking ahead and making amends gently, slowly.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to temporarily disengage from the forced cohabiting arrangement of marriage, and for all the realisations and insights that came out of this experience. It’s been quite the game-changer this past year, enabling me to stretch myself and come into my own. I’m so grateful for VC’s understanding, support and acceptance of this and all that came, and continues to come out of it. I really cherish and hold close his ability to accept me as I am, as much as the woman I am becoming (which I am sure sometimes feels like not at all the woman he married hahahaha), and the constant state of work-in-progress that is our lives at the moment.
I’m grateful for therapy that has so wonderfully tied together the various threads that currently bind my life and being, in a way that no amount of conversation with friends or family can, no amount of reading the best books has, and no amount of trying to figure this out on my own could ever have.
I’m grateful especially for my body. In the past year I have seen what happens to it when I deliberately, totally let go, allowing it to balloon and flourish in surprising ways. I began to notice age in some places — in the way the suppleness and flexibility I took for granted now resists when I push it, the way the skin on my face doesn’t spring back as easily as it used to, the way my digestion has visibly slowed, the tiger stripes that really stand out now, the way getting back to exercise was a bigger uphill task than I ever imagined it could ever be.
And yet, I’m grateful that with a little work, my body still does the things I want to do — whether it’s working my way up to a 5km run again, nailing push-ups again or doing a cartwheel on a whim. Yes, still got it.
I’m grateful for the awareness that all of these changes have come gently, slowly, with little to almost no panic for a change. There has been a very conscious awareness, yes, and it’s made me prioritise taking care of myself and my body in a way that feels very intentional. I’ve always had an eye for eating well, a penchant for fitness and staying fit and healthy, but somehow this feels very different from before when I held many fantastic (unrealistic) notions about my body.
I’m grateful that the rush has died down some. The rush to get somewhere, do this, be that, do more — that constant buzz in my head reminding me of time rushing by and there being so much left to do is dormant for the most part, and I’ve figured out how some tricks to shut it down, when it tends to get active from time to time.
This past year, I re-discovered deliberation. It’s brought a certain slowness and a calm, an ability to move with intention, that has really been another game-changer. It’s made me free-er in choosing which way I want to go, more open in accepting everything that has come my way, and just light and easy going in embracing it all.
A younger me might roll her eyes and scoff at me for turning soft. Maybe she’d balk at how little I hold on to anymore, and how fluid I’ve become. But it is what it is and it seems to work for me.
Just one birthday ago I wondered about whether I’ll ever really feel my age. For most of my life I haven’t felt exactly my age. I’ve always felt extremes — either too wise and old beyond my years sometimes, or just so young and naive for my age. This was mostly brought out in situations where I had other people my age to compare with. I’ve lived a large part of my life feeling like I never quite fit right.
This is changing, ever so slowly. I realised recently, that thanks to this newfound comfort I have begun to feel over the course of this past year, I have truly begun to feel my age. Not that I miraculously make myself fit, but that I am comfortable just the way I am, whether I fit or not. And so more often than not, it does feel like I fit.
Nothing feels out of sync, things don’t stick out and irk me as much, differences don’t hinder my experiences. I hold desires for doing more but the desperation to get there fast is slowly fading. I’m re-learning patience all the time. I’m comfortable in my skin, in my body, in the way I am, and the way I feel for the most part.
I don’t know if it’s a function of age or growing up, but I’m keenly aware that my time here is limited. So limited that I feel a strong need to make the most of it. Which is not so say I’ve drawn up a bucket list of impossible things like scuba diving and bungee jumping or visiting 10 countries in the next 10 years, I must tick off. I want to focus my time in spaces that matter to me, on things and people I love and am drawn to. I want to try and always say what I absolutely mean, be more honest, articulate and truthful in the relationships that matter, and try more and more to tell those people just how much they really mean to me.
I’m being constantly shown how often I need to redefine the many catch words that I hold on to — markers of things that are important to me — Peace. Success. Happiness. Care. Love. Strength. Joy. I’ve also learned that happiness and joy is not, and never needs to be, linked with perfection. Or success. Of any kind.
I am mostly bumbling along and stumbling over myself along this journey, but if there’s one thing I’m truly proud of, it’s how much I have been able tame that inner perfectionist in me. I’m grateful for having learned that it’s okay to change my mind. I’ve embraced softness as far as possible, in every area of my life that I can — softness with people, towards myself, with my body, with my dreams, with my emotions. I don’t see the need to be the kind of strong or hard that I once aspired to be.
This past year I relinquished control over the grand plans, a lot. Life has become so much about living the small everyday things, cheering myself on for the little wins, revelling in mundane daily happinesses and the utter smallness of it all. I’ve really been feeling this is where that joy — that I’ve so long believed lies in chasing the grand plans, the big picture, the distant future — is at. Right here. Now.
The nowness of life hits me on a daily basis, and it stays and lingers in a way that has made me feel very, very secure and steady. I put this down entirely to the course I did last year that altered my compass, pointed me closer to my true north. It’s made me see things so very differently, shifting my very perspective on everything, on life itself, 180 degrees. And there is just no unseeing it, no turning back. It has been like opening the curtains on a view I’ve known all along, but suddenly everything is brighter and beautiful.
Year 36, I’m so very ready for you.
No. I really, don’t think so.
Looking back seems to be the flavour of the month. I’ve been doing a lot of nostalgic reminiscing of late, and it’s no different today, even on my birthday. When I think back to the specific numbers, I’m agog — like OMG I was a wee 24 when I got married, piddly 25 when I upped and moved to a new city where I knew nobody, stupidly naive at 30. Still not much wiser at 34. But in my heart, 24 feels like it could have been just last week. Okay month, maybe.
But you get the drift.
As I turn 34 today, I’m looking back on birthdays gone by — just the ones I’ve documented — to remind myself and bring back a little something from each of the years I’ve crossed.
Start making your thing
Sound advice from here.
And, calm down.
And so, here we are.
This year, in an attempt to start something new (something I’ve learnt from this mad talented girl), I’m going to start writing two letters a year to my future self — one on my birthday and one on New Years Eve — to be opened five years down the line. I’ve been meaning to do this ever since I first read about it, but never got down to starting it.
Today feels like as good a day to start as any.
Happy birthday, to me!
It was a weekend that almost didn’t materialise for various reasons. It even had a fair share of hiccups that had me telling myself that I’d only believe it were actually happening when I eventually saw monkeys S and S at the airport. The logistics of their arrivals were harebrained, but that was unavoidable given everybody’s work schedules, mine included. So when I finally wrapped up work for the week on Wednesday last week, and prepared to drive to the airport at midnight, with a sleeping husband in the passengers seat beside me, I could hardly wait.
Despite our daily, incessant chatter that actually shrinks the distances between us, the possibility of finally being in the same room chatting furiously in person, laughing out loud together and sharing our quirks has a different excitement. In December, when we met last, we’d bravely declared that we’d meet for my birthday and make a trip to Sri Lanka. Then life caught up, plans got forgotten and before we knew it April was upon us. Tickets to Goa were then hurriedly booked. Yes, it was meant to be a go-away-vacation, but a staycation (for me) would do just as fine, we thought. Too late for Sri Lanka, but Goa would do just as good, we thought.
In the run up to the weekend, I repeatedly forgot that the real reason we were congregating was my birthday. Maybe because I know each of us individually had different, very solid reasons for wanting a break. It’s been a hectic, tiring few weeks for me and the weight of the year zipping by too fast, too soon is catching up with me. Without going into details I will say S and S had their reasons too.
Let me just say it hit the spot for me.
I essentially took a holiday from the routine myself. Blistering heat with humidity that was through the roof ensured I didn’t stay in and cooked as I might have originally planned. There was plenty of good Goan food, fresh urrak, mangoes, birthday cake, sangria, lots of beer, pinacoladas and I’m pretty sure I haven’t finished the list. We hit some really local dive bars, seated in plastic chairs behind curtains, eating the freshest seafood and winging it with the local urrack.
Confession: for all the times I visit the beach, I hadn’t been swimming in Goan waters in about two years. Going to the right beaches, three days in a row, the insane heat, lack of tourists and the perfectly warm water was too tempting and I broke my two year dry spell over the weekend too.
Through it all, conversation didn’t stop. And when it did, it felt okay. It’s the best kind of company to have when you can sit in perfect, comfortable peace with each other, guess what the other person is thinking and say so much without saying a word.
There was enough sweat, the sea and even a touch of (happy)tears to complete the triumvirate of things that can cure anything. We had planned so much and though no amount of time will ever be enough to do it all, we got a lot done. Ticked off a lot of the things from the must-do-this-when-we’re-in-Goa-next list.
The weekend had all the essentials – food for the heart
The sun set on my birthday with goodbyes in the middle of the night. Thank god I was half asleep, or I might have cried.
Right then, 33. Bring it. I’m ready.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: girlfriends, best. Because, I am lucky to have two of the most insane girls I know and love, come spend my birthday weekend with me. It has been filled with all the best things I could ask for, and the kind of things only girlfriends can make happen. I will write about it, and finish an incomplete draft on the topic of girlfriends that I’ve had lying incomplete for a while now. I will get to it eventually. So yes, a longer post will follow, when I have completely soaked up the immensity of this love, good juju and loveliness.
When I moved to Goa six years ago, I had a faint notion that it was a chance to begin every new year at the beach. But I only managed it once, in our very first year here – and what a birthday it was! 2011 featured a surprise ringing-it-in party so boisterous, that I had to spend the actual birthday in peace. I actually had no memory of the birthday of 2012 – zilch. Until I suddenly recollected it was a home party, where I cooked my friends dinner and ordered my own birthday cake! Then there was a crazy night of dancing over the birthday of 2013 that I didn’t think I’d ever wake up from. But I did, and lived to tell the tale. My 30th in 2014 was unusually quiet, but very memorable and happy. I didn’t even cut a cake, but it was a time of overwhelming peace and I was overcome by a lovely, everything-is-in-it’s-place kind of contentment. Last year I was on the beach, just not in Goa, but it should still count, right? We were in Sri Lanka, away from network and I had a fantastic, quiet birthday.
This year, I’m back on the beach again. And maybe I will tell you all about it. But for now, this is in progress and I’m going to be missing for a while.
Here, listen to what I’m listening to, in the meantime.
It’s been three days of listening to the incessant churn of the sea. That necessary hum that pretty soon blends into the background, just enough not to intrude but always loud enough so you don’t forget where you are. And why you’re feeling so relaxed.
It’s been three days of waking up before the crack of dawn (yep, VC made me do it) to catch the sunrise.
It’s been three days of extra long days (because, refer point above) of unending, extreme relaxation. Punctuated only be breaks to drink, eat and sleep. All my time has been spent mostly horizontally, or semi-horizontally. Reading. Chatting with VC. Giggling. Watching. Taking it all in.
It’s been three days of being drunk on relaxation and waking up with a shadow of a hangover. From feeling very relaxed, of course. Not too shabby a start to year 32, I’d say.
Maybe it’s the holiday glow, or maybe I’m just old, but when I look back at the post from last year, all I feel is a tremendous sense of calm. I can see just what has changed from then to now. And yet, I know exactly what hasn’t.
Part of me was a little worried we aren’t getting out and roaming around enough. That we’re missing the sights and the tourists spots. But I quickly realised that’s not who we are. We exhausted our sight seeing enthusiasm on day one. Our holidays always boil down to this kind of relaxation. And that’s okay.
To begin the year in peace — with my phone out of reach from most, sitting on the balcony facing the sea, watching the sun creep out from behind the hills, chai in one hand and my book in the other, hungrily reading away, doing absolutely nothing else. This is a lot more than I could ask for.
It’s about time I manned up and gave making baguettes a shot.
Maybe its about time I quit this time-sucking assignment and focus on work I really want to devote my time to.
I must learn to fix niggling web issues myself. It’s about time!
Got to look up my savings, about time I assessed where I stand, for myself.
“It’s about time” has unconsciously become a refrain in my life of late. I wonder if it is my subconscious reminding me to grow up a little bit. I am 30 today, after all. Some would say its about time.
When I visited Bangalore early in April, I got a big kick out of watching movies with my folks, lying in bed between them. Until one day I had a giggle fit, and exclaimed to my parents, “Jeez, I’m going to be 30 next month. Isn’t it about time I stopped sleeping in your bed?!”
My father grinned, but my mother nonchalantly informed me that no matter how old I get, they will always be 20+ years older.
10 years ago, I had a head full of plans and I honestly thought I had it all figured out. Whatever happened, I was going to face it with a lot of hard work and determination. Naively, thought there was nothing that I couldn’t fight with that combination on my side. And I applied the same approach to everything in life — college exams, job applications, my love life, constant clashes with my parents. Yep, that pretty much summed up my life 10 years ago.
I was a restless, edgy, antsy 20-something and just wanted to break out of home, go out into the world, where I assumed things would be easier. Where they would be free-er. All I wanted was a high-flying job for a year. The plan was to then go back to study, to business school. Get an MBA, get into the Talent Seeking/Management business an climb the corporate ladder, while piles of money flowed in. Yeah I didn’t stop to ask anyone how feasible this plan was. I had it all sorted. It was a straight line and there was nothing I couldn’t fight without that hard work and determination backing me. I had few friends, but a full and pretty active social life. I didn’t spend too much time at home, stretching work and socialising way beyond accepted limits. I had tasted sweet freedom of financial independence, without realising I still had the safety net of going back to a home where my parents watched over me. It was a partial kind of convenient independence, but I lived under the notion of being free.
I thought I had found the one big, unshakeable love, but I didn’t want to settle. In a distant future in my mind, I had named my babies, the ones I assumed I’d have with the boy I thought I was going to end up with. And yet, I didn’t want to be married or worse, that disgusting word – domesticated. I think my hypothetical future involved living-in and procreating without waiting for anyone’s permission to do so. Ten years ago I had it all sorted. Ten years I had plans. My plans.
But plans are overrated. And life does that thing it always does. Messes with all plans, shows you who’s boss. And like a predictable movie gone wrong, the itch to study faded away slowly. The heady high of earning money had me fairly intoxicated and I wanted more. The big love shattered, the babies turned into a distant dream. Nothing was as I had hoped it would be, and yet I was alive and kicking through it all. Five years down, I was married and been through a string of jobs in advertising. I had realised in time that an MBA would have been disastrous for me and working HR even more so. I had tasted the joy of writing and I wasn’t prepared to let it go. And so began a steady stream of jobs that were wrong for me, along the way to find that elusive job that would hopefully be good for me.
Once a cut-throat Bangalorean, a city girl — someone who couldn’t do without the perks, I found myself in small town Goa, etching a life out for myself. Little did I know then that the quiet that once frightened me would become my best friend in no time at all.I discovered the kitchen and amidst the clatter of pots and pans and crackling tadka, I fell head-long in love with food. Only to go right ahead and get completely obsessed with it.
When I think back in time, it is the last decade that throbs back to life without much effort. It’s almost like the two that passed before it, never happened. The last decade probably did more to shape my personality than I imagined. It chiseled the poky corners, smoothed the edges of my restless, antsy being. It’s taken much of the unpleasant edge off, and made way for a quiet confidence that doesn’t need permission. A confidence that creeps up on me silently, that doesn’t wait to be told when to act. That doesn’t need an excuse to burst to life.
A decade ago, I was so far from knowing who I am as a person, and what truly makes me happy. I was busy looking for it in relationships that tied me down and twisted me into being a person I was not. Professionally, I was hoping to find joy in places it didn’t exist. And in my head, I had a dream that could not have been more inappropriate and wrongly suited to who I am.
10 years ago, while I was actively rejecting and rebelling against most things my parents taught me, against everything that probably came organically to me, in fits and starts but I was too cool to give a chance, I didn’t foresee things would change so drastically one day. The last decade has shown me that.
Because that antsy, unsure, restless 20 something girl that I was, eventually went ahead to do all the things I never planned to do. I got married. I gave into a love that was liberating. I discovered a life of domesticity that ironically, freed me from myself. Emotionally, as well as from the tightly bound goals I imagined for my life. It’s shown me that the things I most loathed, looked down upon and scorned would eventually come back to be the biggest and best sources of joy.
The outgoing, filling-life-with-people-and-stuff person that I was turned calm and quiet, embraced the forced solitude of small-town life with grace and created a life she never imagined possible, in it. I didn’t know it then, but the solitude that I feared soon became my biggest strength and security.
That the carefully cultivated fear of most things new, of the unknown and unfamiliar, of opinions and judgement would be the very same thing that would push me to try things I’d never imagine myself to do. Heck I found a life in the kitchen and turned it into my raison d’etre. It doesn’t get more turn-around-y than that.
In the quest for an undomesticated, unsettled, rebel’s life I realised there were far too many cakes to bake before I let life really make me settle the way I imagined it would.
It has been a decade of living, loving and learning and I can’t wait for what the new year holds. So I quietly trudge along, while all the time keeping a close look on myself, and the happiness and satisfaction of those I love. It has been a decade of growing into a daughter, parent, friend, wife, confidante, support system and client all rolled into one — and playing each of those roles better than before. A time of living every emotion — loving like I never have, tasting freedom, owning joy, facing dissatisfaction — completely, feeling it like I never have.
Sometime last week MM emailed me this piece by Elizabeth Gilbert and it really hit home. Because everything she describes her parents to be, is true for my parents too. And everything she describes in the piece, is everything I have rejected, tagged uncool and unacceptable at 20, and is everything that I have come to now regard, love and respect. Not just that, it is everything I have slowly imbibed and accepted as my own, in the life I have carved for myself today.
As I read the words, my heart grew heavy and ached to hug my mother and my father. Because it described with unbelievable accuracy, everything that my parents have brought us up to believe in. In essence, I could have written that about my parents. It is is all i grew up listening to, watching, breathing and imbibing.
Theirs was no hippie way of life, but definitely one in which they played by their own rules, evaluated decisions based on worked best for them, what made them happy and gave them satisfaction. And even to this day, they continue to live this way. While I may have unconsciously taken the same path, it is only in recent time that I have become aware of what it means to consciously live this way. It means forcing yourself to evaluate everything you do and sometimes take decisions that aren’t popular, acceptable, convenient or easy. It can leave you lonely physically and emotionally, but builds a deep-rooted courage and sense of being self-assured. But most of all it sets the strong foundation of living free of fear — of societal acceptance, of new ground, of unfamiliar territory. Ultimately it has taught me to live my life the way I deem fit.
Perhaps this is why I feel like it is about time, all the time. For the last few years I have been blurring the lines of the boundaries I want to draw. I have been treading the line, stepping in and out, toggling between the roles I want to play, and those that are expected of me. But eventually, I realise that it is time to stop trying. And to start doing. To stop asking for permission. Waiting for validation. Seeking approval. Playing by the rules. Staying within the lines and doing things to plan.
There’s something about distance, physical as well as the distance of time, of ten long years, that can put a mellow spin on things. Because over the last few years, I have slowly realised that it takes a long time, but things eventually come full circle, and before you know it, you realise you may very well be turning into the kind of person your parents always wanted you to be. The kind of person you swore you would never be.
Is that what growing up is like?
It could have very well been the quietest, most sober birthday I have ever had. And it almost was, as I sat back in my room filled with artificially cooled air. a whopping 38 degrees outdoors meant all my plans of treating myself to a day of fun, forcing myself to shop for some clothes, eating lunch some place nice went down the tube. I thought back to every other birthday I have had since I came to Goa. Year one was spent in happy company, on the beach, in a stream of endless beer and sea food. The following birthday, much to my surprise was welcomed at the heels of another friends birthday that was just ending. A night of mad shenanigans and way too much alcohol and dancing meant that the actual day of the birthday was spent recuperating. Low key. Painting, to be precise. Last year, I was in the throes of my entertaining best and decided to throw myself a birthday party. I ordered food, picked out a cake, invited people over and had a blast. This year though, I made no plans. Surprisingly, the usual OMG-its-my-birthday excitement was turned down low too. The day came and went, much like any other, barring the single moment where it became acutely clear that my twenty-something phase is officially over. And even that didn’t send me into a fit of hyperventilation.
So when plans to check out Butter, Panjim’s newest nightclub, were made, I dragged my feet into the shower and decided to put my birthday face on. Unbelievable as it may seem, we don’t go “partying” too often. I’m not even a super heavy drinker, never going beyond a drink or two, or sticking to my other, more mellow choice of intoxicant. The kind that makes you calm, rtaher than hyper. On any given Friday or Saturday night you’re more likely to find us at a local watering hole, laughing too loud, consuming too much pork and pretending like we own the place. Either that, or we’re holed up at home, sometimes with friends over and letting the cooking circus commence. So plans to go dancing or clubbing are met with the same levels of excitement and build-up as it used to, when I was 18. Going clubbing was an event to remember. As it is now. Every few months when we get the chance to indulge, we pull out the stops, go all out, and invariably come back with a throbbing head, vague memory of the sequence of events and way too many suspicious pictures nobody remembers ever being taken.
I should have known last night was going to be another one of those, but given how uber sober the day had been, I braced myself for an evening of mellow drinking and dinner. When we reached the club at 9, it was sparsely populated and we picked a dingy corner with high bar stools. A look around then, gave me no indication of what was to come.
Anyhoo, to cut a really long story short, it would suffice to say that the evening that ensued had everything going to make it a memorable birthday. Friends, hysterical laughter, someone to stash the stirrers, the customary bored person who chose to read a book, ridiculous requests to the DJ, inhibited small bodily movements that somewhere turned into outrageous frenzied dancing, some drinks spilled, many consumed, and way too many lost track of. All in all, a great night to remember. And a complete turnaround from the way the day had been.
When we tumbled out at 2.30 am, it was clear that the party was nowhere near done, and had we stayed we would have probably bobbed on for a few hours more. But some peeps had work to get to, pshaw! So we headed home, and I collapsed into a hysterical fit of laughter while climbing up the stairs. I have no idea what brought it on. But the next thing I remember is trying to make VC an omelette, and to do it with a poker straight face. Epic #fail.
Crawling into bed past 3 am, I just knew the effects of the night were going to hit me hard this morning. And I was not wrong. I woke up with a pounding head, that made me creep right back into bed. And not leave, till approximately 5 pm. VC was kind enough to bring some lunch for me, for a change. And I ate it in bed and collapsed right back to sleep. Many extended naps, interspersed with a Big Bang Theory Marathon, two litres of water and one Crocin later, I was able to kick myself out of bed and actually piece the night back, in a cohesive manner.
Year 29 ended with a bang. And here’s my 3 point summary.
The music went all over the place from the BeeGees to Boney M to Cotton Eye Joe and Scatman, would you believe it?! There was of course lots of Pitbull and Rihanna and when a certain questionable Carly Rae Jepsen song came on, I caught myself mouthing all the lyrics, rather loudly. But this was my song of the night. And they played it three times.
As for me, my legs still hurt a bit and my head hurts if I move it too fast. I decided to opt out of catching Iron Man 3 in 3D, because I thought the glasses might make me queasy all over again. It took a whole day to get over a few hours of drinking. I guess this is what the 30s are going to be like. And I can’t complain.
Big 3-0, let’s rock.
Shthump.Shthump. Shthump. Shthump.
With close and definite steps I picked up pace. The wind felt crisp in my face, and I felt my lungs expand, like they haven’t in months now. My calves were taut, hamstrings ached a nice ache, and the soles of my feet sprung back at me, with every step I took.
My heart quickened and my brow was damp. iPod clenched tight in my fist, I continued on, winding my way down to the beach. Tuning out from the cacophony around me, I tuned into the the beat of the track nestled deep within my ears. Traffic moved along silently, people chatted. But I only saw wheels zip by, mouths moving. No noise. Just the music inside me.
The day was almost over. I could see signs all around. Lovers huddled together. Some walked, hand in hand. Some hunched beneath the fading light. The lone fisherman braved the rising tide for the last catch of the day. A group of buffaloes made their way back, after a glorious evening dip in the sea. Not so far off, small-time TV stars were calling it a day, as giant reflectors, vanity vans and the like packed up.
I was mostly oblivious to the sound of it all, only catching sights passing me by, when a forgotten prop distracted me.
Shthump. Shthump. Shthump. Shthump. I went on, tracing my path in no particular direction. Criss-crossing older tracks — paths of many who came before me.
It is that odd time right before sunset, just before dark. The light was an oddly warm hue. Off white, with a tinge of pink. Slowly bleeding into a deeper setting-sun-kind-of-pink. Gradually painting the sky evenly, right before my eyes. And before I knew it, I was covered in a magenta glow.
By now, my heart was racing, feet dragging a little. But the beat goes on, and there in that crazy glow, I felt I had to keep going.
And so it begins once more. I’ve started running again.
Its a fitting day to begin the month of music. And I have just the song. Amidst endless birthday calls, never-ending rounds of feedback and proof checking, and not being able to sit in my chair long enough to listen to a single song form beginning to end, I realised that every time I returned to my desk, I would keep going back to the one song I actually wanted to listen to, but just couldn’t.
And there’s more where that came from. For two days now Ranjan has been bursting into 70’s style John Travolta moves, in an earnest attempt to learn to dance like him. Because let’s face it, there is nothing like a man who can move like John can. I don’t care what anybody says about pansy, gay, metrosexual — whatever! It takes sheer talent and a free open I-dont-give-a-damn kind of attitude to pull that off. And John Travolta has it all. And more.
I swear, if I ever meet a real life Travolta, pink pants, greased back hair and all, I’d probably still reconsider my marriage. Ok maybe not just if I met him. But if he danced for me. Yes. I most certainly will.
Thankfully, the husband can move. Well, at that. Teehee. But you know what I mean, right? Of all the universal things that make any girl go weak in the knees, its a man who moves like he owns the dance floor, pulling off the high-waist, garishly colored bell-bottoms, and sending the moves like they were made for him.
Also, I think John Travolta knows he can dance. And he knows the chics dig it. And that accounts for all the uber confidence. So yes, it helps. And on the day I turn 28 and step into my 29th year, it seems like the perfect day to hit pause, go back and listen to the song from beginning to end. From a time when things were simple, flashy, real and fun.