More love

What effortlessly-picking-up-exactly-where-we-left-off looks like.

We hadn’t met in nearly a month — not something that’s happened in over a year now. And we hadn’t really talked much either. I have been too preoccupied — and generally feeling quiet — to engage with all my attention. And it has been strange for us to be in the same city and not in touch or up to speed with what the other is up to. Especially if one/both parties hasn’t been up to the mark. And then there has been so many thoughts about loss through this process, of a bare few remaining, of moving on and leaving behind, of the grief of that loss, of the grief of possible loneliness. And a few restrained exchanges about fear of abandonment on one side and fear of not knowing where all this peeling off is leading to, on the other side. Andnsome distance between us, because of all of this. And then we met today. And we effortlessly picked up exactly where we left off.

I’m glad I’ve finally had the privilege of experiencing what this kind of friendship feels like. I know it’s something I’ve always had a longing for, without quite having the words for what it was that I was missing. And now that it is here, I feel so full from it that I know just what it is. A friendship where there is space to unravel, but also to just agree to put it all aside and have a few laughs, without the need to fill in the gaps of so many weeks of silence gone by. This kind of friendship that holds quietness and a containment in its palms. The kind of friendship with endless space, and a strong connection, both. The kind that starts and pauses and has an effortlessness about it all. I feel blessed, really.

One year ago: Take all my world and shake it

New love

One of the things I’ve been grateful for in the past six months is the companionship I have shared with S. As a co-learner, but also as a curious person in the world, keen to understand ones place and how to belong. It’s been an ongoing journey and I have realised time and time again what a boon it has been to have someone who shares and understands this journey so keenly. It has taken the edge off the loneliness many times, it has given me a sense of belonging too. It most of all it has given me yet another safe space to take every little nook and turn of my bumbling journey so it can be held and heard.

So many gems emerge from our ongoing sharing. On chat, in person, while we have studied, while we have worked and now, as we plan our work as fellow practitioners.

Today’s gems:

I’m not disconnecting. I’m individuating.

An examined life takes hard work.

What is being separate? And what is the bond of love even as we hold our own separately?

It’s thoroughly refreshing to share with someone who isn’t in a rush to spout intellectual, cognitive, nearly figured out answers to all our questions. Someone with whom I can throw around the ideas bouncing about in my head, and hold them as unanswered questions still. Giving space for the answers to emerge in their own time.

This is not a friendship I went into with any intention of cultivation like one does sometimes. It kind of happened and grew organically over shared experiences. In a year that has thrown so many friendship rude shocks my way, this has been such a pleasant surprise.

There is a very refined quality to this friendship that I haven’t had ever in my life. And I am enjoying it with such relish.

Three years ago: Looking back

Little tricks

Somewhere in the utter landslide of grief and sadness from everything that came up this week, I forgot what it takes to ground me. I was so caught in the undertow and flailing from trying to stay afloat that I completely forgot that I know there are a few practices and things I can do for myself. To help myself. To bring myself back to my body, to the here and now, from the far distances of despair that I felt.

Exercise. Everyday.

Salt in my bath water.

Gardening and tending to my plants.

Cooking a meal from scratch.

Walking barefoot.

The 5-4-3-2-1 method.

These have all worked for me in the past. And a couple of them like the salt baths, cooking and exercise are my usual go to that I turn to quite frequently. Something about a mundane, monotonous rhythm of chopping vegetables or running on the treadmill one step in front of another does the trick.

And yet, so heavy was the despair that I just clean forgot.

I’ve exercised and cooked everyday this week but it’s been two days of doing all the rest and it has made all the difference. I feel alive again.

Today I stepped out to catch coffee with D this evening and I ended up telling him how it’s been for me since class ended. What a relief it was to hear someone say;

I get it.

There were cheesy garlic toasts and French fries to boot but my god there’s nothing like connection from a shared moment of vulnerability with someone who can hold it — without either brushing it aside to tell me to feel better or rushing to panic/worry on my behalf — that can do the trick.

One year ago: Now I’m free falling
Three years ago: Grasp

Old-new, new-old

It has taken me many months to accept that the cost of that degree of honesty — the cost of owning my full power — is sometimes the friendship itself.

I just wrote these words a few days ago. (Not so)Strangely this was the very crux of therapy today. I want to say I didn’t see it coming, or that I was taken by surprise. But the truth is I’ve felt this welling up in me — the gut wrenching and heartbreaking truth about dipping fully into my power. Because it has meant witnessing the shifts, the changing dynamics with everything and everyone around. And the inevitable consequence of letting it all go to the point of facing emptiness where there was once the fullness of comfortable relationships.

With some helplessness and some liberation, I’ve been watching subtle, small changes and the difficult realisation that many are slipping away irrevocably. That there’s that gaping emptiness that may remain for a long time to come, and while it is always an opportunity to reconnect anew, this may be yet another time of letting go those relationships where reconnecting is harder still.

This has also felt like the ground beneath my feet has been totally shaken up and like nothing is quite the same anymore. Quite destabilizing, if I were to be really honest. And yet, I’m seeing how this time around even as I’m aware of what’s happening, the old stock response to resist it has faded away significantly. In its place is a gentle witnessing and awareness to make space for everything that comes up.

This is bringing waves of grief on the flip side of the excitement for the new. Grief For the impending loss, for how quickly and painfully things are shifting. For change. For transitions. For loss. For moving on. For letting go. Over and over. On and on we go.

***

On a separate note, speaking of change and letting go, I’m that weirdo that replaces an old pair of shoes with a new pair of exactly the same kind.

There’s something about old-newness or new-oldness, which ever way you prefer to look at it, that has presented itself loud and clear in my life recently.

I’m sitting with it all, making space for the whole gamut of emotions that it is bringing with it.

One year ago: I’ve got a good feeling

Friendship, and owning my power

At the lunch table with my buddies from class last week, someone asked me about a friend that has recently slipped out of my circle in just the last few months. It was a fall-out that was difficult and confrontational, yet very essential for me, because it demanded a level of strength and honesty out of me that I had hitherto not extended to very many relationships. It made me confront some “not so nice” parts of myself that otherwise remain hidden, presenting a “good” but continuously inauthentic self to the world out there. It made me sit with being the “bad guy” in that conversation and situation, and yet be the one that could be honest, take a stand and stick by it.

In many ways it was one of those pivotal events of the last six months that pushed me to embrace parts of my shadow, without which there’s no beginning to step into my full power.

It has taken me many months to accept that the cost of that degree of honesty — the cost of owning my full power — is sometimes the friendship itself. One would like to think that with enough time and healing, repair is possible. But it is not always the case. A great degree of honesty can only pay off if and when the other is strong enough to hold that honesty too. And even though I wasn’t holding out for it, the confirmation that this wasn’t going to happen, was a bitter pill to swallow. Because it meant temporarily facing the empty space that the friend has left behind. Staring at the vacuum where that friendship used to be, and wondering when it will be filled with something else, something hopefully more meaningful, authentic and fulfilling.

Even though I ponder about the coming and going of friends, how dynamics with pretty much all my friends have been altered so much as I figure myself out, every time that there is a development, it is just as bittersweet as it was the very first time. One doesn’t get to acceptance and peace without first going through the initial throes of anger. It’s difficult to reach a place of compassion and forgiveness towards oneself without first submitting to beating myself up a bit. And so I have time and again felt caught up in a loop, wanting freedom, wanting to let people from my past go fully.

And so, in the months since, every time I’ve been triggered by a memory, or a glimmer of something form the past that I have shared with said friend, I have been filled with rage for allowing myself to feel so used and dispensable, self-loathing for not seeing the signs sooner, anger for sometimes sensing them and brushing them aside anyway, regret for allowing fear to take over and for being a pushover, and for “wasting” so many years putting up with inauthenticity.

But somehow that day, for the first time, I found myself very easily, reflexively saying, We’re not friends anymore, without feeling compelled to explain those words. That truth.

Of late, I have seen that I find myself in conversations  about the the difficulties of navigating friendship as an adult, a lot more than before. Every time that it comes up, a little something in me is triggered, and finds a new settlement again. That’s what happened at the lunch table the other day. Then on Sunday, N and I talked about how growing spiritually, continually and deliberately, means letting go of people more frequently than one otherwise would and how it means facing the empty spaces more often. This morning in a reading for D, about friendship, I found myself answering a question I had myself been simmering over for a while — when do you know it’s time to let go?

Coincidentally (but really, these aren’t coincidences anymore) I saw this on The Artidote’s Instagram page, that I visited after literally six months.

Forgive yourself for⁣ all of the relationships⁣ and friendships you settled⁣ for when you weren’t in⁣ your power.

I had realised earlier this morning that all of this has everything to do with feeling and owning one’s own power. The ability to face the truth, to know what you’re holding on to even in a failing friendship, to see the truth about allowing yourself to be “used”, to know when to let go — none of this is truly possible unless I am fully, feet-firmly-in-place feeling my power. Because when the ground beneath my feet shifts from asking some of these questions and facing the answers that emerge, I need to know I can hold myself through it. And not in a delusional way, but in an authentic, compassionate way that allows me to free myself from bitterness, regret and the very notion that I had made a mistake.

One year ago: I need to free my mind and see what I’m feeling

Out of the park

Today, I just want to document what a lovely day it was.

It began with two hours of gardening. I say “gardening” but actually it was just a lot of repotting and trimming and pruning and setting things right with my plants. For two days since they’ve landed I’ve been meaning to get to them. They looked like the journey had been quite rough on them. But other unpacking and settling at home took precedence. And so this morning when I woke up too sore to make it to the gym, I decided it was a good time to get to them.

Let it be known that I have fully turned into that proper crazy plant lady who did this for two hours straight: phailaoed squelchy red earth all over my balcony (confirming any speculation about my finicky, cleanliness freak side being laid to rest) so I could fix them all and settle them into their new home, all the while talking to them.

Aside from the sheer tactile pleasure of sticking my hands in the dirt, caring for plants really grounds me. And like D said to me this morning when I shared my excitement, something about bringing plants home and watching them grow settles me into this feeling of being home. It makes things extra homely.

I then cooked us a fish curry from a prawn curry recipe that I tweaked mildly to have with dosas for lunch. Then, at about noon VC and I shared a small piece of some truly beautiful edible that R shared with us. And we then had lunch and settled with our respective laptops. Me doing some work, VC watching his latest TV show obsession. I was in a very mellow and enjoyable state of mind and I thought that was it — this edible was smooth, simple enough, good.

Still in a very dreamy space, I set off to meet S. Armed with an aloo bun for each of us, I went to Cubbon Park where we decided to meet for a change. Nothing went right at the start: I didn’t get a cab or auto for half an hour, and realised I could have just as well taken the metro in that much time. Then it took another fifteen minutes to hail an auto off the kerb. But somehow it felt like I cruised through the irritation untouched. Floating above it all.

All the way there I listened to music and I was filled with pure joy at being out. It was a perfect November day. There’s enough of a nip in the air to need a light sweater. And yet the sun is out, making it delightful to be outdoors. The sky was bright and blue. The clouds cottony and wispy. The breeze sharp, making my finger tips numb. and suddenly I was giddy with excitement at the idea of sitting in a park, under the trees.

S was late so I walked around by myself. Sat on a bench. Watched people, petted friendly mutts, contemplated many things, watched the trees. Breathed. I felt excessively blissful and filled with a heady euphoria.

S arrived and we gabbed while we polished off aloo buns, bought some really good milky, sweet chai from passing chaiwallahs. There was so much to catch up on and gush over, we lost track of time, my mind short-circuiting with so many ideas sparking at once and motivation spiking like it does when I’m in the company of a like-minded buddy on the same wavelength.

Today was just one of those really simple, but super satisfying, excessively joyful days and I want to remember it. It feels like the coming together of so many little things that made for one lovely day. On my ride back in the metro, I realised that the unnamed dissatisfaction I felt in the years of 2015-16, was a longing for a life quite like this. I didn’t have the words then, but I had an image, a picture of what my life would entail, down to wanting public transport, people of my wavelength to hang out and spar with intellectually, a life of my own routine and making, a life of relaxing the controls and being guided by something within.

And somehow thats exactly the life that’s panning out for me these days. I want to say this is serendipitous, but I want to acknowledge for a change, the truth about the amount of conscious dreaming, deliberate choices and putting myself and my desire for better (in all its ever morphing glory) and focusing unrelentingly on what I want more of on my life, this has taken.

I’m noticing a great, great increase in my capacity to relax lately. Not in the everyday sense of chilling externally, but as an internal easing up and letting go of the controls some more. Consuming an edible on a random Thursday morning? Meeting a friend for a hang in a park? Vibe-ing over work and play at once and feeling thrilled (and not intimidated) by the prospects? That’s a new one even for me. It’s been the perfect day to get out. And we couldn’t have picked a better day to be in the park.

One year ago: I have tried in my way to be free
Three years ago: Homeward bound

Movie misgivings

S and I decided to meet today. But rather than hangout, like we probably should have, I decided we should watch The Sky Is Pink. Between travels to Manali and Goa I missed it entirely and it’s now down to just one show, which should probably have been a sign. When I suggested it to S, she was so quick to agree, it seemed she wanted to watch the movie too.

Today though as I was making my way to the multiplex, S got there before me and sent me a panicked, “macha are you taking me to a Priyanka Chopra movie?!!

That should have also been by cue to change the plan spontaneously to go sit somewhere and gab, because we had oh so much to catch up on too. But we decided to waste three hours in a movie bass instead. And I’m saying waste because that’s what the movie was. A waste.

I came away not knowing if this was a movie about the spirit of life and survival with a brave front in the face of death, or a film about a mother whose entire life is consumed by caring for a terminally ill child, or if it was about all of the things that a family goes through in the peculiar situation they find themselves in — rallying around a child whose life comes with a quick end date. I have no idea. PC gets so much screen time, and I find her to be such an unnatural and forced actor, while Farhan Akhtar and Zaira Wasim were clearly the bright lights that saved the movie. It had its moments — of humour, some sparse good writing, poignant dialogues — but overall the story just didn’t come together for me. In narrating the story from the afterlife, so to speak, one knows right off the bat that Aisha dies. And it just left me wondering from time to time, where is this going? Of course there is also my other usual complain with pretty much every Hindi film: it was unnecessarily long. I don’t know why we consistently get our writing so wrong, why we get so caught up in spelling everything out rather than leaving things to be seen and not told, why every story ends up being so mashed up like baby food and spoonfed to audiences. Movie makers must really take their audiences to be fools?

I know this is an unpopular view because the movie seems to have touched and tugged at heartstrings across the board. But I came away dissatisfied. Perhaps more so because I could have spent that time with S instead of being forced into silence in a dark movie hall trying to figure out what was going on with this film.

To make up for it though, we had a solid Mallu mess meal, complete with boiled rice, chamandi and aila fry. And an Iyengar Bakert butter biscuit each to finish it all off.

Sigh.

One year ago: But if you try sometimes you might find, you get what you need
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: The sweet, sweet taste of acceptance

Moving on

If I had ten bucks for every time someone confusedly asked me So what’s the plan, really? or some variant of that with regard to this moving back and forth between Goa and Bangalore life, I’d be able to buy myself a ticket to take yet another flight to Goa, I think. It’s been confusing as hell, I believe. Even now, a whole year later, I find I’m still explaining that I’m in Bangalore and VC has been in Goa, and sometimes I’m even explaining why we have this arrangement. Officially, I suppose what seems to everyone to be a precarious balance has ended. VC and I will now be in the same city. And if you really had to make me pick a side, it is Bangalore, for now.

But I guess it’s official now. Because our plants left for Bangalore today. The packers were a bit amused to see that the plants were literally all we’re shipping back to Bangalore. And judging by VC’s stance and expression, what he’s thinking is probably This is one of the stupidest things I’ve done in a while.

But that it how it is. The rest of the house remains, and I believe it is a not-so-subconscious attempt to keep the back door open, so we may keep coming back. Even with all my readiness to move on, the growing sense of an ending with this chapter, a feeling of having somewhat grown up to stepping into an all new phase in love and in life, I just can’t get myself to believe fully in my bones that we’re moving (yet again) on from Goa. I’ve been wondering if maybe this is one of the side-effects of having a home here? It makes a place never too far off? And this easy access is always just a flight or a day’s drive away. But today, after I spent a couple of hours this morning hanging with D, I realised it’s more than just the home. It’s connection and belonging that goes beyond physical limits. When I left Goa in 2017, it came with a lot of ties broken off with people here. I left feeling quite orphaned by the place, with little sense of belonging to salvage. And even though most of those people aren’t in my life today, others are. Others with whom I have significant, growing, constantly evolving relationships that seem to surpass time and distance in a way that was difficult for me to do even just two years ago.

I guess what I’m saying is Goa — even with all it’s befuddling changes that break my heart on a daily basis — will always be home in some form. It is after all, the place that gave me space to drop roots, sprout wings and fly in what was easily the most formative decade of my life thus far. It’s where I made friends with folks who have significantly impacted and shaped this very important phase of my life. And there is a sense of belonging in that, more than in the physical idea of Goa as a place. A part of me does feel like it belongs here.

What I’m also trying to say is, this feels like yet another short-term good-bye, and not at all like the heart-wrenching goodbye from moving lock stock and barrel, like it felt in 2017. This feels like a see-you-very-soon rather than an alvida!

***

Gratitude today for all the restful days I’ve had in Goa. It has rested something deeper within me, in a way that I couldn’t have done in my own home, smack in the middle of my regular life in Bangalore.

One year ago: The rest is up to you, you make the call

Seaside blues

What you didn’t see in yesterday’s pictures, and what I missed to reflect on, given that I wrote the post in my post sea-swim bliss, was how strewn with trash and how awfully filthy the sea was. Thanks to the combined effects of the sea being in full churn, from ten days of cyclonic, stormy weather — many red alert days — and a full moon, there was trash just everywhere.

Not ideal, but one anticipates this sort of filth on the beaches more popular amongst tourists. When we moved here nearly ten years ago, local friends would tell us to go beyond Anjuna — which was something of a cut-off point — to find quiet, cleaner beaches. That imaginary point slowly moved up to Vagator. Few years down it went even further up north to Ashwem. I remember one summer, perhaps it was 2014 or 2015, we went up to Ashwem expecting to find some peace and quiet, and found literal busloads and hoards of picnicking tourists trashing the beach. For two years after, we went all the way up to Arambol whenever we needed a beach day. I was really shocked and deeply saddened yesterday, to find Morjim in much the same state.

It’s not just the filth on the beach. Something about the vibe up north has changed. The approach to the beaches, the streets, the stores and outlets, the quick and disturbingly unplanned way in which buildings and settlements are cropping up — everything feels different. And of course this means more people, more trash, more noise, more desensitisation towards the place around us.

I watched it with my own eyes when I accompanied VC down the beach where he wanted to take some sunset pictures. Morjim felt like Miramar, and if it wasn’t for the stunning sunset, I might have come back really sad. I was so tired of dodging piles of shit and rubbish. And VC was already clicking his tongue thinking about how much filth he’d have to clone out of his pictures. He said this on Instagram too, recently.

I know Goa’s garbage problem has almost touched the point of no return. And I feel a sense of helplessness when I think about where that will take us from here on. The load on the land isn’t reducing any time, systems don’t seem to be at all keeping up with where things stand today, or prepping for the future, and it just makes me wonder with worry about where this will end. And if there’s a way in which it will end even remotely prettily?

***

That aside, it was a wonderful getaway. The fact that somehow, I have spent the last three Diwalis — every one, since leaving Goa — not just back in Goa, but in close proximity to and in the company of D and UT, dawned on me earlier today. In another day it might have felt like a chance coincidence, but three consecutive years is a bit much to ignore. On our first trip back here since moving, at the same time of year, we came to Morjim to spend a day and a night. And it was only the first of oh so many, many trips back to Goa where we stayed with them for extended periods of time, ending in a whole month spent with them, babysitting the puppies, while we got our flat ready for VC’s move last year. I know I’ve always said this about sharing space with them, and having a sense of home here. But I think it is as much about a sense of home in them as people, as it is about having a space to come to.

Given the number of friendship lessons the past few years has thrown my way, the difficult realisations, the betrayal, the disappointments, the pleasant turns and coincidences, I am grateful for (and I don’t think I flip this around on it’s head to see the other side often enough) all the people who have remained.

We had a really chill 24 hours. Slowness, sessions for gabbing, silences, swimming, saltwater, squids, sleep — lots of sleep. VC and I might have gone away for a day somewhere on our own before we left, but we ended up staying only because it’s easy in the company of D and UT. Plans melt, have tos get bent, must dos are forgotten. I’m glad we made the trip away. It felt like a satisfying send off from Goa, for now, before we begin packing.

One year ago: Quiet movements where I can find

A little bit of this, and a little bit of that

If there’s one thing the incessant rain has ensured, it’s a quiet Diwali. I don’t remember Goa being too big on noisy fireworks to begin with. In all my years here, I haven’t ever faced the sort of noise levels that I did, and one continues to face, in cities like Bangalore. But this wet, wet, wet Diwali ensured that even the little that usually happens, probably didn’t. We didn’t hear a peep, or see any signs of festivity up until yesterday morning. City centres, away from us, probably had their fair share of Narkasur shenanigans with the whole hog. No rain will ever really dampen that spirit, I suspect. But it was a nice quiet weekend for us.

I’m constantly underestimating the niceness of people around us. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t expect it, that I am surprised so often. Our neighbours came over bright and early on Saturday morning, looking bright eyed and bushy tailed, all freshly bathed and in crisp new clothes, wit three boxes in hand. One with hot, homemade gulab jamuns, and two others with some traditional poha-based sweets they apparently make here in Goa.

VC and dragged himself out of bed to get the door when they came a knocking, and then dragged me out — braless, teeth unbrushed and still in our night clothes — to come wish them and say thanks. Late in the morning, THE SUN CAME OUT, FINALLY. And it was really interesting to see how it instantly gave me life. I sprang into action, setting the house back in order like I usually do immediately after I arrive here. A day or sun also meant I could finally get out into the hitherto out-of-bounds terrace and tend to our plants that are now in varying stages of flourish. It’s super fascinating to see how they’ve grown, some literally since babyhood from nearly a year ago, and others from different heights and stages of fullness. We got out and shopped for groceries, brought ourselves mithai — the only thing we did to mark Diwali here at home — and ate a home-cooked meal of dal.

Finally it felt like Diwali by yesterday evening as we drove over to D and UTs, Goa was lit up, and we got to an absolutely resplendent home that was aglow with lights. Another night of cards, food and cheer ensued.

The kind of night that’s gentle and easy, but so fun, things got a bit blurry. For humans and doggies alike.

***

As of today the skies have officially cleared, the neighbours all have their Diwali lights strung out finally. The sun is doing its October magic. The street dogs around are making themselves heard again. The pao wala is zipping by twice a day, after not making an appearance ever since we’ve arrived.

The house isn’t in a state of being taken over by soggy, musty laundry, perpetually wet bathroom has had some respite and the kitchen is inviting again. Life as I know it here has resumed. And it has been particularly chill, easy, with flow, than ever before.

I was telling S this morning, that for me, the realisation that I must really slow down has been such a central part of this transition. Even after slowing down so much over the past many months, there seems to be more to do. Getting away from normal life in Bangalore seems to really enable that for me. I’m not surprised at the timely getaways now. And I am getting better at noticing what’s being asked of me — to be with the slowness and the now all the time — and allowing myself to take the liberty.

***

I have been sitting with some latent fear that’s constantly making its presence felt, in the subtlest way. It’s strange to be witnessing it, without it having a grip on me. I began writing about it one week ago, and I am aware I have avoided going back to the draft to finish it ever since. I’m watching even as the desire to articulate my thoughts comes up and goes even before I can act. I’m observing how I’m not sure if this is also a part of slowing down and letting go of the need for perfectly pickled, framed, articulate insights — I really don’t need them as much as I used to — or if it’s some sort of avoidance and denial. I’m interested in holding this space for things to just come up and flow out in their own time, when it’s right, while my need to rush in and do something about it abates by leaps and bounds.

Gratitude for S today, and the numerous chats we’ve been having constantly. It has been such a relief to have someone on the same journey as me, doing the same learning, traversing such a similar path, that they get exactly what I am on about when I share and express myself. God knows this has been much needed companionship during this time when I have felt even more distance from most of my closest friends simply because beyond a point I can’t explain what I am going through in a coherent way. Except with someone who has shared that experience closely, and journeyed with me.

***

Two years ago: More Goa postcards: Yellow
Three years ago: Soloism

Diwali

It’s that time of year. And I can say that because every year since leaving Goa, I’ve found myself back in Goa in time for Diwali. Playing cards. That’s three consecutive years now.

Interestingly, while Diwali was the one time of the year that invoked the desire to be around family and do family things, in all the years that we lived here. And while I tried to drum up the enthusiasm to cook something and do something between the two of us, I always felt the lack of a larger family to celebrate with. So it’s super ironic to me that every year since moving back, for the last three Diwalis, I’ve left family behind in Bangalore to come here. And somehow I’ve always had a welcoming bunch of people to celebrate with. Also interesting to note that it’s always at D’s home. I wonder if this has become something of a tradition without us even knowing it. Some Diwalis ago, I wrote about yearning for tradition but also wanting to make it relevant and my own, and look what’s happened.

I’m losing sorely today. But making up for it in sangria and small bites.

I’m grateful for festivities that begin early. For homes away from home. For friends that turn into family quite effortlessly.

That’ll be all.

One year ago: You and me, we come from different worlds

Good juju

Yesterday was such a good day. It started off extra emotional. Happy, but I was feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of emotions that was bubbling up, and I was feeling every little thing so intensely. A day of deep work and learning somehow released the heaviness of those emotions and left me feeling light and energetic.

As is becoming habit now, I hung out with D who very graciously kept me company for best two hours after class. We played around with my tarot cards, as I had time to kill between class ending and dinner with these two monkeys.

A birthday dinner two days too late, but a good birthday dinner nonetheless. There was of course as always such joy and kinship in spending time with S, but there is something so reaffirming about hanging out with a bright and engaged child. U, with his long-winded stories (some that will have to be finished the next time we meet!), his hyper-observant yet childlike insights, and his cute face of course.

On the way to dinner, I watched the just-released Coke Studio episode, tearing up in a shared cab. Tearing up from the joy of the good music, from the live chat I was having with S parallelly discussing the new tracks with such energy, and for the instant sense of nostalgia Coke Studio evokes in me for my friendship with S and J from Goa and the things we used to do together. I missed them both so very much yesterday.

***

I’m grateful for all the love I have in my life. I receive it in so many different ways from so many different sources and places, it’s amazing how fulfilling that is when I stop to think about it.

One year ago: Come if it feels right, now is the time to be
Two years ago: Postcards from Goa
Three years ago: Stuff

Surprises

I feel victorious today. For finishing a full piece of work on my own. For persisting and seeing it through even when it was daunting. For realising how different I feel in this group and what has changed in and about me. For seeing and feeling utterly small in the face of the field I have now entered. For realising how little any of the work I do there has to do with me. For how humbled it has all made me feel.

I have crossed many important milestones in the last two days. The road ahead seems so very different from anything I’d imagined for myself. And so it felt appropriate to celebrate, by way of beers and pizza in the company of people I am least likely to otherwise consume beer and pizza with.

Who knew. This was possible too!

***

I’m super grateful for S and D today, for being on this two year journey for me. For how we unwittingly became friends, with little idea about how our paths would intersect at times and move in parallel at others. I personally had no idea what an impact they’d have on me, how much they’d influence the quality of my time in this course and beyond.

One year ago: I been moving calm, don’t start no trouble with me

On ordinariness

S posts a spontaneously clicked picture of us on her Instagram yesterday and the strangest thing happened. A couple of people I used to know from Instagram days, people who stopped engaging with me for no apparent reason one fine day, reached out to her in response.

It’s nice to see Revati, they said.

*insert Revati’s confused face*

I’d dismiss it as pointless pleasantries. But it gets curiouser. S being polite S informs them that I’m doing good. And pat comes the reply, Good to know.

Eh?

Why? How? What good could it possibly be for people who didn’t want to know how I was when we could have been in touch, to know I’m good? This, from someone who blatantly ghosted me when I reached out to them upon moving to Bangalore. All because I pulled a story they sat on for months without explanation, to run it with another more willing publication.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. It tends to happen when VC puts up the occasional picture of me too. Random people — who either ghosted me like above,  or people who were never too warm to begin with, or people I was useful for back in the day — I am absolutely no longer in touch with extend extra warm, over familiar pleasantries.

I’ve always brushed it off as what people like to do online. Show each other just how much they know each other. It’s the oddest thing and I do think it’s peaked.

Does it have to do with social media visibility alone, I wonder? I mean I’m not even around there, so there can’t be too much currency in knowing me anymore. But I can’t be sure. More disconcerting though, is the extreme curiosity about why I got offline. And the conviction that it must have been compelled by something terrible. A life crisis, some colossal fuck up, something to hide from the world since everything is online and documented now.

***

So yesterday I wondered if the pleasantries and the Good to know I’m doing alright is probably a response to the default understanding that something terrible must have happened for me to get offline.

I don’t know when we get to this point where getting offline has come to signal something catastrophic.

This is just a single example of S posting a picture online. I cannot count the number of times I have either bumped into someone I used to know online, or I’ve heard from someone tangentially inquiring if everything is alright with me since I am no longer on social media.

All this conjecture might have made some tiny bit of sense if I were someone of importance or consequence. I’m not, because most people didn’t realised when I disappeared off social media until much long after. And why should anyone care, I always wondered. There was no explicit, single, large reason that compelled my departure. It was many things I really couldn’t explain. I also always assume I am completely inconsequential and ordinary being just like a million other people out there, so nobody would really notice, or wonder.

But, clearly I am mistaken?

Yesterday I got to thinking what must they think could have happened in the time I’ve been away? And then I realised this curiosity has absolutely nothing to do with what I think is my ordinary existence, or any of my measures of ordinariness. It’s the sheer idea that I am offline that’s extraordinary.

Which is meta level amusing and interesting for me, because offline, it has become my sole purpose and business to try and be ordinary. To just be good enough, even if I fail most of the time. To be alright on my own. TO do nothing exemplary. And whatever it is I choose to do or not do, to be okay bumbling on on my own, without showing it off or needing a universe of voyeurs to tell me how good I am. That I’m quite alright. Or great even. To the point where everything basic, every little mundane accomplishment warps and begins to seem unnecessarily larger than life and extraordinary.

Yesterday, thinking about the irony of how social media was the basis of so many of the connections I held and kept some years ago, I felt a pang of sadness about this person who clearly doesn’t want to have anything to do with me in real life, but felt the need to feign familiarity with me anyway. It’s a level of fake I have worked hard to slowly peel away from my life.

As usual, and once again, I received affirmation that something I did two years ago was only laying the path for where I am at now, and important work I am only getting to the crux of now. I didn’t know it then, but getting off social media two years ago was only laying the foundation for learning to be imperfect and all kinds of ordinary. Of allowing myself to be alright, even on my own. And two years on, I feel like I am only just getting started.

***

Writing this from my hotel room in Chandigarh where we arrived early this evening. We’re driving out to the hills early tomorrow morning, so I should finish posting this and turn in.

I am grateful for travel, for the expansive length and breadth of this country that is anything but ordinary, and that I have barely scratched the surface of. And for the ability to take off, pick up and go, largely unencumbered.

Two years ago: A good life is a life of goodness
Three years ago: A picture

All heart

23 kilometres run this week.

An important, excellent therapy session.

A morning dipping my toes into authentic movement and expressive arts to explore what’s held in the body.

Ten hours of extremely satisfying practice and study with S and V.

A day spent with S.

VC is home.

An afternoon at Koshy’s by myself, writing letters.

It’s left me feeling fresh and pulpy perfect as a greener than green slice of avocado. Light as a balloon ready to set off floating aimlessly into the clueless sky. Open like a just bloomed sunflower chasing the sun obediently.

Happy, like me.

***

Happy and so grateful for the metro today. I know I’ve said this a lot lately, and S joked saying I should be the poster child for the Bangalore Metro, but it has been a truly life-changing shift for me. To go from thoughtlessly jumping into a cab, to now always making sure I have fifteen minutes extra to make it to the Metro, more often than not, has altered a lot for me these past few months.

One year ago: It’s just another ordinary miracle
Three years ago: Sticky trash