On receiving

I’m Starting a Monday ritual of sharing a message for the week. Just a little something to get my tarot energies out into the world, and who knows, maybe some of you may enjoy and benefit from it?

I’m also going to be posting a version of these on Instagram every Monday going forward.

***

As luck would have it, I picked an apt card for current times.

The idea of belonging and connection. It has come up in virtually every other reading I did this past month. Either in the ask for guidance in relationships, in the context of clashing families and community, in finding companionship and friends. And I too have been thinking so much about belonging, in context to the current political scenario.

This card speaks words of belonging, to me. If you’re waiting to find belonging or connection or simply support and understanding, it’s quite likely you already have a fixed idea of what it ought to look like, and you’re waiting for it to take shape in exactly that way.

It’s also equally likely that you are already receiving connection, the opportunity to belong, be held and loved, in many other ways. And that they may not look anything like the belonging and connection you long for.

Is it possible to perhaps change the gaze with which you’re looking? So as to not lose out on what already is, in the constant hankering for something more? Perhaps the work is to learn to receive what is with grace, and with gratitude? To find ways in which you can count your blessings. Identify the ways in which you are receiving — belonging, connection, support, love — and put your energy and focus behind that instead.

In a world that celebrates (and often conflates) independence and strength, it’s easy to lose touch with the authenticity of collaboration, community, connection — the very building blocks of belonging — such that the basic act of receiving becomes challenging.

This card always reminds me of these lines from the brilliant Toko-Pa Turner’s book Belonging, in which she says;

Worship at the altar of your being supported. After all, you are the receiver of too many generosities to count. Count them anyway … At any given moment we can attune ourselves to wellbeing, which is a tributary of belonging. It is that place in our hearts where we are grateful for all that we’re receiving and, for a moment, want nothing more.

Belonging begins with the ability to receive. So today, maybe think about how it is for you to receive — a gift, a compliment, a pleasantry, an olive branch, a hug, an act of kindness, help.

Four years ago: Finally moving

Through the years

The sadness of a really good time, of the sort that uplifts and nourishes and fills you up, coming to an end hasn’t hit me in literally years. The last memory of such a deep post-good-time of this degree sadness is from when I was a young child and my favourite aunt and uncle would visit us once a year, leading to endless bunked days of school and just too much fun all round. So much fun that when it was time to leave, even as young as 9, 10, 11, 12 years old, I remember feeling abject sadness and finding it difficult to slip back to normalcy and function as usual once again. It always took a few days to get back to the regular rhythm of life.

And that’s the degree of sadness that hit me yesterday once S had left. Thankfully, I had a meeting with S in the evening to soften the blow of the hard knock it could have been. And today, I met S for drinks and brunch at mid day which is always uplifting, and certainly helped fight the gloom that I would have inevitably felt if I was left to my own devices.

Talking to S this afternoon, about friendships as we always do, I realised for all my complains and cribs about disappointments and dissatisfactions about people, especially in a year like this one that has seen the most upheaval and shaking of the ground beneath my feet, I have also received the best and mellowest gifts of love, affection and friendship. I am not very quick to notice it for what it is, and that is something I am trying to change.

The last week spent with S and VC was life-affirming in that sense. And I want to acknowledge the many ways in which it was so good for me.

It gave strength and validation to my deeply held belief that friendships that are based in simple truths and genuine connection don’t take work. They work beyond distance, infrequent meetings and all else. And they have that wonderful ability to rejoin and pick up exactly where we may have left off, even when either party has undergone massive transformation in the time spent apart.

I realised S and J are amongst the handful of people (that I can count on one hand) that I have this absolute and utter privilege with. They honour me with a kind of friendship that some of the relationships closer home that I have struggled to keep going haven’t. That ability to cut through the fat and come straight to the heart of the matter. A high degree of respect and space for vulnerability, even as we hold space for the silliness and laughter. A genuine warmth and being excited for the best in the other.

These are folks I talk to maybe 3 times a year. It’s only in the last six odd months since we started a whatsapp group between us (yes, it took us that long) that there is some form of frequent banter. But otherwise it’s restricted to the timely wishes and brief catch ups on each others birthdays and new year, at best. And yet, somehow, by hook or by crook, we seek each other out at least once a year. Making plans to meet somewhere or the other, dedicated time to spend catching up and reliving the old days. This, is not something I have with literally anyone else in my life. The effort and the follow-through on this, year after year. And today, I realised I really love that we do it.

This past week, I laughed harder than I have in a long while. VC admitted he enjoyed our company more than just being the third wheel he usually makes himself feel like. And I came away feeling like we are grown up versions of ourselves from 2012-2014, with something at the heart of it all, intact. To have each been through some seriously diverse experiences, some transformative times, and still find it’s possible to connect. And connect long and well, and enjoy every moment of it, is special.

So, when I got home in the evening I dug out pictures that pock-mark the many years of our friendship. There are folks who have lifelong friends. I haven’t had that luck as yet. But here, I see solid potential of being stuck with each other for life. OOPSIE – hahahaha.

I realised I have a picture for nearly every year since we split ways, and that we’ve met in six cities and four countries in the years gone by. Again, not something I see myself going out of my way to do with too many people.

From 2013, when we did routinely took off for a staycation when we all lived in Goa.

This was taken on this summer trip that I documented, but several day trips and wanderings — way way too many to count because we’d go out literally every weekend — that probably went undocumented. When we weren’t out and about, we lived out of each others homes. We shared way too many common loves — for movies, music, art, travel — that made us converge on more things than not.

In fact, I cannot separate my association with monsoon listening of Coke Studio from S and J at all. I write about it here. I shared my most impactful professional year, the one that had more far-reaching consequences that I knew, working with S. We’ve cooked way too many meals together and shared way more beers for our own good.

S left Goa in the end of 2013 and moved to Bombay. He visited us in Goa again in 2014, but apparently we took more pictures of the food we ate and absolutely none of ourselves at all.

In 2015, we visited S in Singapore.

In 2016, S flew in from Singapore to Bangkok to catch up with me. Many shenanigans ensued, and ended with this very drunken picture that was taken at 2 am in a bustling street market.

Somehow, we missed meeting in 2017, as S reiterated today with a “WHAT HAPPENED IN 2017??” when I shared these pictures with him. I was caught in the landslide that was moving to Bangalore and the year zipped by without any big travel.

In 2018, we made it to Paris where S now lives. And he and J plotted to surprise us, with J flying in from Hamburg.

Again, way too many shenanigans ensued. And I’ve written about the ways in which I felt so filled up from it all here and here.

Last December, we caught up in Goa, just months after we had returned from Europe.

And then, a whole year later we connected in Bangalore, making a trip to Coorg together. I have a new picture to add to this collection — the first one in the post.

I want to say this is fate or destiny or some such, but I think it isn’t just that. It’s also a lot of deliberate intention, and sincere keeping up of our word and following through on the things we plan to do. That is a deeply cherished aspect of friendship I have coveted for years now.

It’s not too late to acknowledge that for all the knocks and falls I’ve had in the last few years, and especially this past year, as far as people and friendship goes, I am still one lucky girl, for all the love and connection that has stayed and found it’s way to me, despite it all.

One year ago: Take me to your heart
Two years ago: Shut up and drive
Three years ago: Time

So blue

Currently severely feeling the sads since S left this evening. The house got extremely quiet and lifeless for a bit. Thankfully I had a meeting in the evening to run off to, but when I got back home there was no escaping the full force of a plunge into deep, deep melancholy at a superbly fun and nourishing few days coming to an end. As all good things eventually do.

Niyu and amma made some sheera and sent it over so I ate a big bowl of it to feel better. Yeah, I’m that level of sad and feeling the post-holiday blues.

One year ago: I just want the realness
Two years ago: Warm sound
Three years ago: Spinning the wheel

Friendship fires

 

Two nights of feeding a fire to keep it going long enough for us to stay snug and warm, talking intimately and candidly huddled around it, listening to the best music is what it took to end a year of massive friendship lessons on a positive and love-filled note.

There was warmth in the silences. Life in the conversation. Fuel in the feelings shared. I am mildly changed by the three days I have spent away in the company of VC and S.

Something fundamental has shifted as far as my perspectives on adult friendships go. And after months of not knowing what, this trip away illuminated that something for me.

I’m just sitting in the afterglow of it.

I’ll say this again. I’m grateful for those who left, almost as much as I am grateful for those who remained.

One year ago: Lay down all your thoughts
Two years ago: Morning song

Coke Studio love

Reliving old days. These ones, where Coke Studio madness made for perfect rainy night stay-ins in Goas madenning monsoons.

Our very own tunnel of nostalgia. Just with a brand new Rohail Hyatt season, in a different city, minus the rain.

Reliving old days, while also holding and rejoicing the many ways in which all the people in this room are grown and changed irrevocably and wonderfully.

Such bliss.

One year ago: Relax, take it easy

Simple

Hike in the A.M.

Look closely, touch and feel the little details.

Hike in the P.M.

Breathe in the soft light.

Rinse, repeat.

Few things more grounding and levelling than being surrounded by nature. Waking up to sunlight breaking to birdsong, walking about the trails dotted with all things bright and beautiful all creatures great and small, napping amidst the ruccous of cicadas, waking up to walkabout the softly setting sunlight that winds all things down within.

Happy to be on this break with VC and S. That’s yet another city and state that we managed to catch up in, another set of memories. Same old fun. Rinse, repeat.

One year ago: Let the water lead us home
Three years ago: Home is where the yellow roses are

Can you hear the roar?

I have talked NONSTOP today. Too many words just to keep the incessant churn of emotions at bay.

I have talked nonstop today, when I wasn’t crying because today was emotions from the get go. I woke up amto messages that sec 144 had been imposed and that the protest I planned to go to would proceed with full preparedness to be arrested or detained.

I wasn’t sure what this meant or if I still should go. Clearly this time around we’ve scared them enough to take “pre-emptive”, unconstitutional action.

I wept as I watched the news online and saw things as they were unfolding on twitter.

This seemed like exactly what they want. Confusion and chaos. Mixed up locations. Misinformation. Detention of hoardes of people as a possible warning of things to come. Anything to keep people from showing up.

But guess what?

It didn’t work.

People continued to show up. Long after warnings were issues. Long after the stations assigned as detention centres got full. All through the day. Until they were granted permission to protest peacefully.

So I dropped everything and reached Town Hall.

And I wept some more.

For someone who spoke all day I have a lack of words to describe what I’m actually feeling. A full body surge of pride. I’ve been to protests before. But this felt different. This felt like it was backed by the spontaneous outpouring of unity not directed at any one religion or party or politician. This was people saying enough! People saying fuck you and your fascism.

We stood up and collectively flipped a massive middle finger at the powers that be today. I don’t know where or how far this will go but I have a hunch that this is just the start. Of a long and arduous but important fight. The revolution everyone says we need but didn’t see coming. I don’t know if we’ll win or we’ll lose but it makes me damn proud to know that I can look back on this week and think of not just Bangalore but the scores of places and the thousands of people and know that when it mattered, we showed the fuck up. FINALLY.

Today felt like a massive cumulative jack pot of fury and unity, pride and belonging, resistance and assertion all at once.

They tried every trick in the book to stop us today. And we didn’t relent. Of course I got there and wept some more. Not just at the people and the protestors but the placcards and slogans too and most of all at the incredible togetherness and connectedness of People going around passing on satchets of water, bananas, snacks, reminding each other to sit down and catch a breath, people offering each other banners and standing by each other shoulder to shoulder.

They tried every trick in the book to silence this. These fascists, they’re powerful. But they’ve got nothing in this massive outpouring of love I witnessed today.

In the end politics of hate can only be met and challenged by love. And today reaffirmed that for me. This love, it’s going to kill them one day.

One year ago: We got soul food in the house
Three years ago: Old and mighty

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 that can connect even as I hold my 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!

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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