The deep relief of being in presence

I’ve been in a near eight week-long social bubble. Diametrically opposite to the isolation bubble that was the greater part of the year gone by, most of which was spent experiencing and confronting abject loneliness. It hit me somewhere in the midst of hanging out with my family, that it was a circumstance I had willingly, actively, enthusiastically chosen. A circumstance I would previously not go out of my way to make happen. Mostly letting my busy schedule and other preoccupations take precedence.

So what’s changed?

In the before time, so long as I had the option, the choice, to choose connection over isolation, I reveled in dipping in and out of it. Since I had the privilege of creating and protecting my personal physical space, I dug my heels in and made the most of it, often at the cost of connection. When I felt lonely, often from my own making and of my own choices, I turned to things like books, my handful of friends (also loners), therapy and smaller groups of my liking to bond over a set of interests and pursuits that we had in common. Anything outside of that felt like too much.

The vast disparities that extended families usually present have felt too much for me in the last many years. Being physically isolated in Goa (in the years between 2010 and 2018) unconsciously made it easy to remain in my mental bubble, and reinforce the idea that I was on a different page and we could never find commonality. The already glaring differences grew wider still and it felt physically impossible to commune over anything at all.

So what’s changed?

2020 turned a switch in my brain. Something about my craving for connection and touch coinciding with a time when I was forced into physical isolation and distance, did a real number on me. Where I’d once hold my personal space, my boundaries and my solitude hard and tight, I have been watching as the edges have melted slowly away, and I’ve been finding a midway that emerges quite organically, without effort. A way to connect without losing myself or my sense of personal space and identity that I build around it.

2020 made me see how much I wanted to tap into the collective experience of what was a global emotional crisis. That so much of what we experience anyway is collective, wide-spread and shared, and that it shouldn’t take a pandemic to finally see that. Isolation somehow made my radar for what is held in the collective super sharp and I felt desperate to create physical space for our collective experience. At a time when I…couldn’t.

My emotional/spiritual journey has bene largely private until last year when I threw the doors open and put myself in the thick of things by beginning a practice. Until then, I prided myself in processing everything on my own, in my meticulously developed capacity to detach. I wore my ability to walk away, draw hard boundaries and remove myself from situations and people, like a massive badge of honour. And yet, at a time that forced that upon me, I felt glad that I had a heads up on this moving away from the tangible world, but felt a deeply heavy sadness about suddenly having to process it all alone.

2020 was a googly I didn’t see coming, but that in retrospect I can’t thank enough. The isolation, the strangeness, the collective death and grief, the incessant handwashing and germophobia of 2020 has turned upside down on its head, what I thought was my “natural instinct” when life gets hard. I thought isolation was my normal. I convinced myself it’s what worked for me, what I loved and needed. And I was so absolute in my resolve around it.

But 2020 with it’s forced isolation and distance, in repsonse to my desire for connection and intimacy, that was deeper than it has ever been; it’s denial of any collective experience and shared spaces to process the mammoth emotional toll of it all; it’s default mode of detachment from all things real and “normal”, leaving everything uncertain and up in the air; made me see that even sadness, fear, loss and grief made me want to come together. All the thigns I would once take away into private, shut the door in on myself and sit with all alone, convinced the world couldn’t help me, now convinced me I needed to be out and with people. Specifically the people I love, my family and some chosen friends who have become family.

Something about being forced into being sanitised, and in that way less human, I found the very crux of what makes me alive and human.

That’s what changed.

I spent most of 2020 feeling feelings that I believed were rather uncharacteristic of me — craving the warmth of company of more than one body, the comfort that only comes not from the intimacy of shared physical spaces, connection from spening time being with other people. This was all very strange for me considering how much of a self-made, self-declared introvert/loner/not-more-than-two-people-for-me person that I have been.

The last eight weeks though, I have felt a profound relief from sharing spaces, conversations, bodies and warmth in communion with friends, with Goa, with the sea, and with my family. There have been several moments where I felt that relief. That comfort seeping into my cells. That internal settling and relaxing that comes from a bone-deep consolation and reassurance that only someone’s presence can give.

What a ride. WHAT A RIDE.

Two years ago: This too is Bangalore
Three years ago: You can taste the dishonesty
Five years ago: Pain

Doséy

VC and I ventured into CTR today. It was our first CTR dosa since March 2020. And certainly our first in the last six weeks of being away.

We sat side by side, as opposed to across from each other, because of the plastic partitions that now separate oppsite sides of every table.

Socially-distanced CTR felt absurd and amusing. I chuckled through most of it, devoured more dosa than I usually do, in the bargain. Follower by a coffee, also something I havent done in a long time.

N, PK and I have a Whatsapp group called “Doséy” on which we literally only exchange pictures when we’re eating beautiful dosas. There is little to no other discussion that happens on there, unless it’s about dosas. This momentuous occasion of returning bravely to CTR deserved sharing. So I sent them a picture, and got into a discussion about said dosa and our willpower in staying away for 10 months.

All in all, I was so overwhelmed from the experience, and the deliciousness of the dosa and the need to share it all immediately, that I did not mindfully, quietly eat the dosa. I did not savour every bite slowly like I could have.

I guess I’ll just have to go back.

Two years ago: Learning to let go
Three years ago: Sorry seems to be the hardest word
Four years ago: Work, but also life
Five years ago: Hope

Year-end feels (#2)

Fear and panic is contagious. But so is peace, rest and calm.

Of course it took a year of abject loneliness and severe lack of intimacy to realise this. I’ve known this in theory, as the Polyvagal Theory that suggests our nervous systems are primed for connection, and comes equipped with the capacity to reach calm states through “co-regulation” simply by sensing and responding to calm states in the other. Through non verbal cues, like breath, and social cues like smiling.

2020 has been the loneliest time of my entire life. And it took me months to accept how much it hurt. As someone who virtue signalled a lot (if you’ve read this blog long enough, you’ll know) about the privilege and joy of solitude, I really hated and struggled a lot through it. To a point where it got physically painful and manifested in really heartbreaking ways.

Yes, a lot of the time I need quiet and stillness from solitude. But this year, I realised that I feel dead without connection. It is what we are born for. Community, conversation, camaraderie, collectiveness. And as I sought it in virtual spaces like yoga, zoom workouts, many, many, many more video calls than I have ever made (both for work and socially), shared drinks and food and stimulants across a screen, in cooking, eating, housekeeping and cuddling with my homebodies, I also settled into the grief of it all. Accepting that this is also a part of this life that I cannot escape. A dance between retreat and rest, and connection and action that has its ups and downs.

And as always, the place of calm returned in the middle ground. In allowing silence and retreat, but also venturing out when I needed to. In not feeling ashamed to ask for the time and attention of people I love when I needed it, in not feeling like I am letting my tendency for solitude down by wanting connection, or vice versa. In dropping labels like needy and hyperactive.

I can do both. I can have both. I can be both. I can trust myself to know when I need what. And they can both contribute to my calm and peacefulness.

One year ago: Coke Studio love
Two years ago: Relax, take it easy

On love (and connection, and life)

I’ve been carrying this on-the-brink-of-happy-tears feeling around in the pit of my belly, trapped in my throat, jabbing right behind my eyes for over a week now. It felt like a storm of emotions brewing in my stomach. Like the slightest nudge would break me. The feels sloshed around in me, threatening to spill…and yet they somehow would just not flow? Just sat there bubbling, kissing the edge of spillover and nothing more.

That upside-down splish-splosh feeling sort of just became omni present. I thought it was about the (surprise) excessive happiness of the good chill time I have been having with my husband and my best friend, juxtoposed with the shit year I’ve had. But as the days wore on, the feeling grew in momentum, intensity and and two days ago, riding the ferry across to Chorao, in a yellowed hazy sunset, it hit me that it was more than that. It was coming from more than just being in Goa and having this welcome, unexpected break. There has been an over abundance of joy, lightness and laughter, but with a very different quality. I feel very overly emotional about the joy. Like how is that even possible, to feel like I could cry buckets from happiness. Like so full and expansive that if someone touched me I could burst. And so, that state of being on the brink of happy weeping constantly just lingered around.

***

S left last night, and VC has been away on assignment since Saturday. So I took myself to the beach all by myself this evening. It was a flat, unusually blemishfree sky when I got there. Over exposed cloudless, exploding with hot white light. But at about 5:40, something turned and just as I was planning to leave and head home, I witnessed yet another spectacular sunset. In those few moments, something was also set off inside of me. It slowly broke me, gently chipped away and eased me into a swivel of happy tears.

Somewhere in the hour that followed I realised what I am feeling is the contentment of being seen. Just as I am. Not too much, nor too little.  And the tears were a combination of having my heart pretty much splintered by this experience I’ve had over the last two weeks. Equal parts overwhelming joy from having the space to be entirely who I am, happy sad, in pain in joy, messy and fulfilled, awkward and alright, all of it. Without adjusting myself to make it better or palatable for the other. As well as equal parts grief from going over oh so many past friendships/relationships where I have gone looking for it, having a pre-defined shape and form in mind, expecting it to be something I will be offered, and never really having found it.

The simultaneous delicious surprise in having stumbled on it most unexpectedly, in a shape and form like absolutely nothing I had imagined, in a confusing medley of emotions, and heartbreaking realisation in how long I have waited for it, looking high and low, waiting for it to be somehoe given to me, when it was here within me, waiting to be had all along, has been a lot to process.

Today, I sit in the comfort of a warm lap of that grief for how much I’ve gone thru, and relief at looking back and knowing it has all added up to lead me here. This silent work I’ve done between one ruptured relationship where I wasn’t met and the next, has brought me here, to this place of being so willing to show up and be seen as I am, in the right moment. That when I was met with a willing, equally authentic recipient, something clicked.

And it feels like love. Pure and simple love. With no labels, no boxes, no pre-defined form or extension.

***

The last time I felt this swirl of inexplicable happy-crying, my-heart-can’t-take-it-anymore love was this day, two years ago. And I see now that the common thread has been the element of being seen. Being received. Having space to just be — authentically, in everything the moment has to offer.

These past two weeks have felt like my parched soul found an oasis. And I am still drinking of it’s soothing, hydrating, healing love.

Authentic, intimate relationships are pure love. Authentic connections are pure love. Authentic support is pure love. We were born for this connection. And I am here for it. All of it.

One year ago: The ground beneath my feet
Two years ago: Love in a thousand different flavours

Protected: On love (and connection, and life)

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Grow gardens, everywhere

Literal gardens.

Metaphorical gardens.

Imaginary gardens.

Virtual gardens.

Dreamland gardens.

Future gardens.

Symbolic gardens.

Turn over the earth with gentleness.
Make space for birth. For roots.
Palms open, to the sunshine, the soil, the air.
Sow seeds with love and patience.
Nourish.
Tend, till, trim.
Wait.
Build. Nurture. Support.

Watch them grow. Like pieces of you, that you gave to, from yourself.
And then like whole beings. That have nothing to do with you.
Gathering life all on their own.
Chord trimmed, trainer wheels clipped.
Blooming, furiously forth.
Filling spaces inward and out.
Creeping like slow life into vacuums, taking over overflowing vessels.

***

These past twelve days, I tilled away at the friendship garden in my life

Ravenously digging, sowing, watching, gobbling, growing it all. Making up for a year of emptiness and drought. Barren, cracked spaces (some, not all) of loneliness in my heart filling up with fresh rain and bright light, a winter breeze to top it off.

Expansive and open, I feel the tingling buds of beginnings again.

I wait, hopeful, of new gardens that will grow.

(This is the soundtrack of these last two weeks.)

One year ago: Better than yesterday, ready for tomorrow
Two years ago: Wait, can you turn around?
Three years ago: Clarity
Four years ago: Misty mountain hop

Above and beyond

An entirely unplanned break within a break has happened and I haven’t sat at my computer long enough to write today’s tarot message.

It wasn’t planned but it has been totally welcome. To have the general vibe of 2020 turn around slowly, just for a bit. To suddenly feel free, to roam, to enjoy the outdoors, feel together, bond with friends, share spaces, intimacy, laughter, sadnesses and fears as easily as food and drink, to feel flexible and allow indulgences, to re-discover home with my homies (VC and S) again.

It was entirely unplanned but totally serendipitous. And I have learnt to accept these instances with a bow and both hands outstretched. There was a lot of going with the flow, even more than I am used to, and it was freeing to be able to just chill out, and not be afraid of how far out we were venturing.

It was time to pause and hit refresh. And allow myself to relax my shoulders, shake my limbs out, swim in the sea, climb mossy seaside boulders, find hidden beaches, count the stars, eat greasy food, pet sandy dogs and breathe easy again. Even though I hadn’t planned for it.

I’ll be back with a tarot message in a few days.

I checked our odometer today and it seems we’ve clocked 1200 kms since leaving our doorstep in Bangalore over a week ago. In addition, I have enough sand in my feet (and sunset images in my mind) to have made up for nearly nine months of going nowhere limited movement. I wrote “going nowhere” earlier and on Instagram, but that is untrue I realise. I have been lucky to get out. Wayanad one, twice to Goa and a fair bit of freedom and luxury to move around in both places. But if I’m being honest, even that was with some reservation, self-imposed restrictions and a whole lot of retrospective fear. We have felt very weighed down by that.

This time aorund though, we have let loose, snapped, relaxed (while still taking care, of course) and that has been very freeing. I have just had so much fun these past 10 days. It’s been a bubble of friendship, warmth and a shared intimacy — all, of the kind that’s been very hard to come by this year.

In an older time I might have enumerated all the events and experiences, but I’m finding it hard to do that today.

One year ago: All I want for Christmas
Two years ago: I got this feeling inside my bones
Three years ago: I shake off all that no longer serves me
Four years ago: Indian Women Speak Out About Not Wanting To Have Children

I get by with a little help

Plans and talks of having S visit us have been in the works since October. And yet, now that we’re here together in Goa, it feels a bit surreal that we’re hanging out in the flesh and not across a Zoom call.

What a year it has been, I think this thought umpteen times even now. And to be finally hanging out with a friend, ending the year together with someone who has played a big role in getting through 2020, feels all kinds of absurdly grateful.

We’ve been visiting markets, taking walks, cooking, catching up, sitting in silence listening to music, chatting, watching “content” together. But the highlight so far has been the daily jaunt to the beach to catch the sunset. I don’t know when, and this wasn’t planned, but maybe it’s going to be the thing to remember this trip by. And the skies have been the gift that just keep giving.

Uncannily, this is the third consecutive year where spontaneous plans have brought us together In December. Another one to add to the album.

This is day 4.

One year ago: New love
Four years ago: Looking back

Of people and trees

There’s a strange dichotomy that’s been brewing. An aching need to be around people again, growing alongside the deep desire to be with nature instead of people.

It feels easier somehow to sit amongst trees, than reach out to people. And even so, this past week I’ve reached out and ventured out more than I ever have this past year.

It’s always fascinating to notice. And this time around I am observing who there is ease with and why, and what my interactions with them are like.

I’ve grieved so much loss, past and current, in terms of people and relationships this year. Not just loss as in the severance and disappearance of connection, but the ways in which change and growth (from both sides) has irrevocably altered so many relationships. At times it’s been like watching it all get wrecked in slow motion and feeling the slow twisting of a knife in my gut, reminding me just how alone we all are.

And yet, every now and then, just as I have made some peace and found some comfort in the discomfort of that inalienable truth, surprises come by. Being at the receiving end of someone else’s need for connection, a chance for shared vulnerability, honest conversation, a joyful reminder for laughter and ease even through the pain.

After months of being entirely inward, pulling away from all sides and retreating into the abyss of my aloneness, I felt drawn out again this week. Chatted with S several times, and discussed fervent plans for their trip to India and Goa, drumming up much excitement. Chatted with N for over two hours, across time zones, and unexpectedly again in just a couple days, planning some new ways to collaborate and hold each other’s hands in the coming weeks. S and I went to Cubbon Park for a walk one evening, Airlines for a coffee and then hung out leisurely at home another day.

Friendship and belonging has changed so much in 2020. And I’m finding happiness in accepting that this too is okay.

One year ago: To be or not to be
Two years ago: I’m feeling outshined

Life is green

Today was a good day.

It was nice to get out, meet S, walk amidst the greens, take our masks off, gab as we walked till we lost track of time. It was nice to feel normal just for a bit.

Considering it’s been so hard getting myself to meet anyone, it particularly was refreshing to hear that S has been having many of the same feelings. Yawning distance that’s only growing, so much inward focus and a feeling of being somewhat incapacitated with where or how to pick up with people again.

And yet, since Monday, I’ve been feeling like life is slowly creeping back. Green, fresh and juicy.

One year ago: Ammama vs me
Three years ago: Hotel hangover
Four years ago: Invitation

Put down the weight of your aloneness

There is something about being seen/witnessed by the quiet power of nature — whether in the presence of an immense mountain, a roaring river rolling by or the great wide ocean — that gets the big thoughts going and puts them in small perspective.

Thoughts on friendship and aloneness abound once again. And I notice I didn’t say friendship versus aloneness. Because I see finally that I don’t have to choose. I can have both.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation.
The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterable themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

— David Whyte

One year ago: Flying the nest
Two years ago: They say you were always enough

On trees and roots

Old-but-renewed fascination with watching age-old trees surfaced some weeks ago, aided by morning wanderings in parts of Bangalore that are beautifully shrouded in a tunnel of treetops. I recollected and shared Mary Oliver’s meditations on Tress some days ago on Instagram and D pointed me to a Larkin poem I have somehow never read before. I don’t know how I could have missed this absolute beauty through 5 years of studying English Literature, in which Larkin featured pretty frequently.

Better late than never, I suppose. Because this, today, speaks to me at so many levels. And maybe that’s why it’s stayed, the words dashing about in my head, playing a game of squash, ever since I read them two weeks ago. Making me look at trees longer, slower, and persuading me to listen in.

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In full-grown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Delicious, no?

It’s hard not to see that my obsessive draw and deepening connection to all things green, to having and growing them, to enjoying their company and being surrounded by them has only grown over the last many months. It’s safe to say it very literally gives me a space to ground myself in, and to find real, dirty, hands-on parallels with my own emotional journey and process.

These days, I have my most calming epiphanies and those quiet life-changing aha-moments that make me smile stupidly to myself, when I am running/exercising or gardening. This is why it has also been important and easy to include these two activities into my daily routine, and not just for when I want to have some fun on a whim.

When something takes root, deep and strong, there is a space of anticipation, waiting, uncertainty that comes about. On the one hand, you cannot see what’s at work underground, and it’s also too soon to tell what will happen above. The only thing to do is wait, with faith, and continued dedication to nurturance.

Evocative possibilities can come to life in that space of nothingness. Promise of so many possible futures that can unfold, unravel, that will push through like literal life. Possibilities of thriving, surprises. Stories of death and resurrection. Literal cycles of life in full display within this microcosm.

It’s a place where dreams are real, and unreal all at once. Where possibility is both suspended and in-waiting, but also impending and somehow certain.

That space of seeming emptiness is potent, it is fertile. There is nothing to see, but I have felt it, when I have waited and let the emptiness touch me. And nowadays, when I listen closely, I feel the rootedness saying to me;

Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

This morning, I remembered something very sweet and powerful that S said to me in a casual whatsapp chat many, many moons ago. It was such a simple articulation of a very profound thought about leaving people behind as we grow into our own. A thought she had had but we were both beating around the bush trying to catch, pickle and put down in words — and failing.

Until she said;

And this leaving people behind that you talk about is how a tree leaves the ground behind.

Even in the profundity of the moment then, I didn’t see how eminently crucial roots are. In the process of growing. Of transforming. Of gathering wisdom and understanding. And of leaving. Of grasping opportunities to beginning afresh.

Three years ago: Grow
Four years ago: Morning moods

Home and away

This whole self-isolation things is beginning to feel quite like school all over again. Specifically, when I was in group projects but was always the one that did the work and shared the credit. Or the time someone on our school bus was dumping their lunch on the floor of the bus every single day and the whole bus was detained because nobody owned up, so I ” volunteered to” to shorten detention for everyone. Or that time in Sri Lanka when we misguidedly went whale watching and were given clear instructions about staying in our respective sides of the boat but everyone clean forgot when the first whale was spotted and I thought I could singlehandedly balance the tipping over of the boat by staying on my side (and missing out on seeing the damn whale!) because everyone else had clearly forgotten. This is how it feels. Staying in, against all odds, feeling all the emotional highs and lows that come with it, only to see outside it’s a party like Covid has left the building.

I don’t get it. Is it positive thinking and optimism that these folks have? Or is it blind stupidity and denial about the shitshow we are in the midst of?

Anyhow, every time that I have mustered the courage to venture out a bit, and break the isolation, something has happened that makes me get right back indoors. It’s kind of amazing.

First it was the containment zone in our neighbourhood. Then the case right in our building. Then, last weekend I was mildly under the weather and I convinced myself that it was the virus, so I hunkered down and lay low only to have it all pass in 3 days – phew. And now, we’re back in total lockdown.

In between these phases, we have somehow managed to get ourselves the new sofas, replace some essentials in the kitchen, and I got new sneakers too, and some new plants for the house. I’m glad we did, because life indoors is better for it.

I can’t say we have been totally isolated, or totally out of touch with the outdoors. There have been consistent grocery runs and shopping for fruit and veg. But for the first three months we were hyper good about staying in. Even after “unlocking” we were limiting outings, stockpiling errands and waiting for them to accumulate before getting out. We haven’t met any of our friends, except having D over a few weeks ago, and then we went plant shopping last week. But it has been 90% isolation, I’d say. I have lost track of the days, but cumulatively I think they’re touching the day 130ish mark or so. Which just feels like oh so much.

The year had just started when we got locked in, and somehow we’re past the mid-way mark of 2020. I still have moments of awe and shock when I think about the enormity of this situation.

Since we’re back in lockdown, I am enjoying the silence again. The traffic disappearing makes such a difference. But right before all this happened my sister snuck away to my folks in Kerala, and so our party of three has whittled down to two. This is a number and a space that is both terribly isolating as well as snug and cozy, if you know what I mean.

The energy certainly shifted when July began. I feel it all round. Work has been picking up steam, I am enjoying the home and doing things at home again — cooking, working out, gardening — plus there is the rain. Those frightfully beautiful misty mornings, all-day rainy days that I know many don’t enjoy. But I can’t get enough of them.

Today was one of those days. I knew from the moment I woke up that it was going to be raining all day, and I felt immediately like I wanted to just potter about my home, and not do much else. I had myself a full on domestic morning. Cooked a full lunch of stuffed baingan, rasam and rice and assorted fried things to go with. Cleaned out the fridge, re-stocked the veggies that had just been delivered. Dusted and set furniture right again. Laundry. Watering the indoor plants. Otherwise dull stuff, but somehow satisfying in these strange times. What can I say, staying in is bringing out this extra nesty person in me.

Even after all these months, I can’t decide if I love or hate this. If I’m sick of it or very used to it. Mostly, I oscillate between these two extremes. Very little in my immediate environment or life like it used to be feels like it will return to “normal” whenever that may be. On the one hand, I am thriving in the moment and everything it has brought for me, and to that extent I’m so present and all here; but I am also away a lot, you know? In my head. Dreaming of something beyond, the larger picture, a different life, after. Late night chats with these two, in their faraway worlds and homes, has kept me going.

One year ago: Support
Two years ago: Under my umbrella

Rosé

In all my dreaming about being outdoors, for just a tiny bit (not even far, just out will do, for now) I have been having visions of being outdoors. I dreamt of being on a farm the other night, uprooting a gigantic cauliflower from the earth, satisfaction writ large on my face. I’ve been daydreaming of picnicking — recollecting intensely happy memories from my childhood when we’d go off on picnics a lot, without a plan or too much thinking. VC and I have considered driving out of the city, a flask of chai and some sandwiches in tow, just to go out to be amidst trees, take our masks off for a bit.

And then yesterday, I had this very deep ache in my chest, thinking about this afternoon in Paris from nearly two years ago.

Suddenly, this right here, perfectly captures what being outside has come to mean to me right now, in this moment. Open, green, lush, fresh, cool. FREE.

This was a couple of hours we spent on the banks of the Seine, when we picked up wine, by the glass, at a bar whose very purpose seemed to make available wine by the glass for people to drink by the river. We walked in and everyone else got beers, but I asked for a rosé. It was that perfect weather for rosé. A crisp nip in the air, but the sun shining sharply, breeze from time to time — perfect 4 o clock wandering weather basically. I saw the bartender casually chuck a couple of ice cubes in my glass of wine.

I know absolutely nothing about wine. But for some reason I remember thinking I’m pretty sure that breaks some wine rule somewhere, but HOW COOL that he thought nothing of doing it.

Want chilled wine, but the wine isn’t chilled? No problem, here’s some ice.

Wine snobs everywhere might have turned their noses up at me. Rosé — that somehow always feels a touch finer and presents more delicacy than red or white wine — running dilute as the ice that keeps it cool also melts away into it.

But it was perfect.
Flexible. Chill. Improvising on the go.
Going with the flow, not letting warm wine get in the way of a delightful afternoon hang — just what the moment needed, really.

Quite like me, I remember thinking then.

And my God, how strongly that vision came back to me yesterday. That day, that afternoon, sitting by the river drinking my rosé from a non-plastic glass, ice cubes and all, I remember feeling so seen and understood by the moment. For giving me just what I needed.

And I am quite like this. Even more so these days. As I have leaned so much into the side of me that can roll with fewer plans, that’s okay to break some rules, that’s willing to do what’s needed to be happy.

Even if it is put ice cubes in wine.

It thrilled me no end to make that completely obscure, even contrived, connection. For a few moments there, looking at this picture, I lived vicariously. I imagined being outdoors. I saw iridescent greens from the treetops, pearly limpid blues of the river gently lapping by, and me sitting amidst it, wine glass in hand, feet dangling off the edge of the bund, along with literally scores of others doing the same.

Open, green, lush, fresh, cool. FREE.

The whole day dream made me curious about the rules around putting ice in wine, and so I googled it. I didn’t learn a thing about the “rules”, but guess what?

Ice in rosé? IT’S A THING!

La piscine, it’s called. A refreshing glass of rosé, made further refreshing by being poured over ice.

La piscine literally translates to “the swimming pool” — which I think is just the most exquisite description of a drink that was literally like swimming in a pool of freshness. I don’t think I have ever felt so thrilled, or found so much meaning in an alcoholic beverage (or any other beverage, for that matter) in my entire life.

I have to say this reverie soothed the impossibly itchy need to be outdoors quite a bit. But it set of a whole other spiral of missing this afternoon, and being with these peeps.

Soon, soon.

One year ago: Time out
Two years ago: What about sunrise, what about rain?
Three years ago: Books-shooks

Things worth remembering (part 2)

There’s more where this came from.

Rainy Bangalore evenings. Still not nearly as many as I’d have liked, with nearly not heavy enough rain for my preference. But it’ll do. I’ll take it. Even prefaced with sultry pre-rain mornings, tantalisingly grey afternoons finally turning to pregnant dark skies that only break in the evening. So, so, so Bangalore. So much love. Of course all this overflowing love is because there’s no chance of getting stuck in post-rain traffuck situations. So much nicer to enjoy this from the safety of my home where it seems I’m going to be for the rest of the year.

If there’s anything that tops a perfectly rainy day, it’s a tea-time production complete with snacks. I have become quite the tea-time glutton through this lockdown. I cannot seem to have my evening chai, the only cup I consume on any given day, without a snack of some kind. VC has been watching me with amusement and adoration, turning to mild worry these days hahahahaha.

The three of us are up to no good. Something is brewing and it has made us make a record number of calls late into the night because we’re managing time-zones across two continents. So long after my neighbourhood (and husband) has gone to sleep, I sneak out of bed and get on the phone. In no time at all, I’m giggling. No matter what we talk about, I find myself in splits.

The day before therapy last week, I gave myself a session of therapy by mindfully making myself this stack of egg (omelette), ham and cheese sandwiches, grilled to a perfect gold, under the careful guidance of D, who also very, very kindly provided the ham. The best ham the city has, I think. Sometimes this is what self-care looks like.

Sat down one rainy afternoon for a little session of sound painting. My sister is doing these Ways of Seeing sessions, and they’re such a great way to sneak in an hour of quiet, self-involved, downtime while playing with colour — whatever you’ve got handy. Open to people of all ages — young and old. No prior experience or skills needed. I would so totally recommend this if you’re inclined to just spend some time with yourself, exploring, expressing. Quietly, without anyone having to judge, see or understand what you’re doing.

One year ago: Simple
Four years ago: Begin