Day 217: Hold on to this feeling, when dreaming of leaving

It’s a perfect, perfect morning.

It’s threatening to rain. But it’s also mildly sunshiney. It’s crisp today, the kind of crisp I can snap perfectly in two if I tried.

I’m listening to this, really loud. It seems to fit.

My heart feels like it’s overflowing river today. I can’t contain it. Everything is beautiful.

Also, I’m all alone. This is the first time since I’ve been back in Bangalore that I am utterly, completely home alone. VC is back in Goa for the weekend. Amma and anna are in Bombay since mid-last week. Niyu has been in Bombay for a while longer, and I haven’t actually met her in a month (and I miss her so).

I’ve had the most fantastic four days at the just concluded module of my course. It has been powerfully emotional, and I think there is something about needing time and space to process this that made this a good time to have this space alone.

I imagined I’d be holed up, cocooning myself at home because I’m usually pretty emotionally and mentally exhausted after doing this work. Previous workshops in this series have always left me completely drained, in need of quiet recuperation at home, eating wholesome food, drinking plenty of water and getting all the sleep I can. However, surprising especially given how powerful the therapy has been this time around and it’s impact that I am feeling reverberating inside me even now, I have been buzzing with an energy that is hard to explain. I don’t know where it has come from, but I have been flowing with it.

On Wednesday evening post class, I walked over to Koshys to have a cup of tea and wait for S who was going to join me for dinner. I had a good two hours to myself, and it warmed my heart that I feel so at home there, a single order of tea and a single cutlet are enough to drag out over two hours.

When S joined me, we chatted and chatted non stop and animatedly over beer, fish cutlets and beef fry, while it poured and poured outside.

On Thursday night we went over to VC’s folks’ for dinner. I was mostly mellow, my mind scattered even though I was physically present. Perhaps internally, I knew what was to come on Friday (which is when I did open out my work). And what a day that was. Deeply thought-provoking, emotionally draining, pushing all the touch-points I’ve been guarding away from being exposed to this work so far. But it really felt like things were building up to just push me to the level of openness and vulnerability that it needs, and that I am finally ready for.

So when it was time and my turn, I really did feel so ready for it. I came away feeling raw, yet liberated, so light and free that initially I beat myself up a bit for delaying this and keeping it waiting for so long. But sleeping over it, I know now that this was the perfect time for it. This was my time. It could not have been any other way. I had to lay out the path, do the preparatory work, peel back the older layers before I got to the crux of what’s been sitting inside of me for so long.

Funnily though, intense as the therapy was (and therapy usually has me cancelling the rest of the day in favour of sleeping), I came out very willing to go out and do something. Specifically wanting to engage, feel uplifted and just go with that flow.

I did the most unlikely thing. Unlikely given it was post therapy, and it was 7 pm on a Friday night in Bangalore. I drove across town to Indiranagar to meet S for dinner. It was meant to be an early and quick thing. I didn’t plan to drink. And I thought it might have been good to aim to come home and get some sleep. But all those plans were shot to bits once we began talking.

Remember how I mentioned I’m thoroughly enjoying watching the women around me come into their own? It was an evening that completely, thoroughly reaffirmed that for me. I ended up with a pink drink, and we were completely engrossed in conversation from the word go. There was deeply gratifying laughter, intensely personal sharing that brought some tears, and a very heartwarming connection over what’s going on inside of us. And I can tell you one thing for sure, at this point watching S as she flowers into this impeccably happy, solid on the inside, sure-of-herself person, even as she’s tearing up telling me about her anxieties, and sharing her deepest, current vulnerability is all kinds of joyful.

There was gyoza, dimsum and stirfried lamb to be eaten. And then the biggest slice of a gooey chocolate cake. I ate it all, and even so, the food wasn’t a patch on the way the company and conversation filled me up.

It’s amazing to sense this kind of transformation and feel such deep resonance over it. It’s transformation from the inside, that requires little explanation on the outside. She mentioned a quietly altered bio that reflected the big, bold shifts that are shaking her inner core, and I heaved a sigh of relief because it was everything (and then some) that I have been working through myself, at times feeling very alone. It’s everything I have refrained from talking about — in real life (save a couple of people I am very close to) or online even as I post here everyday. It was everything that I needed to hear from someone as articulate and sound in thinking, as she is.

There is immense liberation in women coming together over shared experiences. And I came away feeling extremely grateful for this connection I share with S. I have a theory that women sparkle on the outside, when they’re sparkling on the inside. I believe it even more today.

I’m only now seeing the difference between change at a cerebral level — when ideas sound aspirational or desirable and I can embrace them in the realm of the cognitive — and a deepened, shape-shifting sort of change that happens within, inside my gut, in the depths of my mind, at a cellular level. This is where it is most unsettling, when my insides feel like they’re in churn and everything is up in the air, and I’m counting down backwards slowly, waiting to see what shape and form the new settled will take.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday were long and very intense days at class. Plenty of learning, way too many aha moments for me to compute and that require me to allow myself to marinade in some quiet for a while longer. We did some amazing written and movement exercises that are going to be etched in my mind for weeks to come. Something has shifted for good inside of me, and I’m revelling in this energy it’s brought with it.

I came home on Saturday to finally enjoy the alone time I have had for days now, but have been too busy to really sink into. A hot salt bath was taken, momos and hakka noodles were ordered, two pieces of dark chocolate studded with orange peel were consumed, and I was in bed by 8 pm ostensibly reading. I didn’t last very long, before I complete passed out.

The next thing I knew, it was 8 am today. I had been asleep for nearly 11 hours. I feel rested, filled-up, content and so alive today, it’s not even funny.

One year ago: Book ends
Two years ago: Day 218: So green

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Day 212: I eat the city as I leave the scene

Happy-making things from today.

Finishing and submitting two deliverables on time this morning, before I headed out to my fun time.

Getting from Malleswaram to Jayanagar in 17 minutes @INR 23. And finding a seat on the Metro to boot. The Pool ride I’d have otherwiae taken would have cost 149 bucks and a whole hour in traffic. I can’t wait for when the city is thoroughly connected via Metro. It’s fast, it’s cheap, the views are far, far nicer and the entire commute passed without a single crib about the city.

THIS meal.

One thing to have come from being in Bangalore is the friendships outside of the most predictable set of people I’d otherwise tend to gravitate towards. I am so glad and grateful for having friends older than me, in life stages ahead of and wildly different from mine, people with accomplishments I admire and look up to, people with whom I can talk about stuff I don’t otherwise. And my life has only grown and expanded in ways I haven’t experienced before.

I always, always have the most sparkling conversations with A. And almost every one of our hangouts ends with one of us texting “Great conversation!” to the other. Today was no different.

In fact we had so much to animatedly share — so many updates, inspirations, frustrations and stories — that we sat around over our finished meals, plates wiped clean, fingers getting crusted over, oblivious to how much time we’d spent in a mess that’s otherwise an in-and-out affair lasting not more than 15 minutes.

We carried it over to a coffee spot I love to wash down all that rice with my favourite cold coffees. Plural.

And then I wound my way back home where this parcel had been delivered.

Excited for new learning and new experiments that await. I cannot wait to dig in.

Finding parking on Residency Road and the promise of beers and dinner with R.

Tomorrow, I begin module 3 of my course and I am so ready for another burst of learning, healing, reflection and growth. Feels like a fitting close to the month and a promising beginning for August. I can feel it in my bones.

Today, I’m happy and my cup, it runneth over.

Day 211: There’s glitter on the floor after the party

It’s been a weekend of crawling back to normalcy, considering this was my default state of being for the last ten days:

I’m taking stock of the highs (and some lows) of the week gone by because today, I realised I am so grateful for the people in my life.

I came back to Bangalore along with D and K, who spent three days with us. Like I was telling D the day she left, one would assume that considering we spent the last ten days in Goa, chilling together and gabbing a lot, we wouldn’t have much to talk about. But somehow we yakked all the way to the Goa airport, through the flight, all the way home, and then some more every night that they were here. Our day together would begin when they’d return from class and even though we had a set pattern of things to do, somehow it just doesn’t get old. Or boring. Or tiring.

I feel blessed to be surrounded by people in the same headspace as I am, with whom I can unabashedly talk about most things on my mind. It has meant a lot of thrashing out of things I’d otherwise mull over (and cause some confusion) myself. There is the added benefit of fresh perspective, reassurance and a sense of kinship that we are not alone. That everyone is more or less in the same boat.

Having come away form Goa with so much to navigate, I’m taken aback by the gentleness with which I have been going through it all. I think back to being in a similar situation some years ago and I can see the difference. I know for a fact that it is the presence of people like D and K, in whose lives I see similarities with mine and it gives me immense confidence, with whom I have talked about issues direct and indirect, and from whom I gain a quiet strength that all things will pass, that we are looked after, that we are enough, that has contributed to this shift in my being.

I loved that we cooked so many meals together, in Goa and in Bangalore. It takes a special level of comfort to get into someone’s kitchen and help yourself, pitch in without asking, basically make yourself at home, and it’s an ease that warms my heart.

On Thursday, I caught up with S for a lunch of Andhra meals at Nagarjuna where we ate almost as fast as we chatted. It extended into black coffee and iced teas at Koshy’s where we discussed our new thoughts about gender (amongst other very important things) in hushed tones. She got me the loveliest cotton dress (with pockets!) as a birthday present, and when she pointed to my new sling bag and said she loved it, I emptied it out and gave it to her.

There was also the Thai meal D, K and I snuck in, at Misu which really surpassed my expectations and made me very very happy.

It must be a week of gifts because earlier, D got me flowers for the house. Purple ones that I put in a vase on the console, where they’ve lasted more than there usual time, and two long stalks of tuberoses that I stuck in a whiskey bottle.

Friday night had us turning in relatively early, considering the many many nights we’ve stayed up beyond the usual limit our old lady bones usually allow us to. But, it was not meant to be. I got out from under my blanket at 10.45 to get a peek at the pre-eclipse full moon, and eventually we ended up on the terrace, beanbag, cushions, mat and blankets in tow, where the three of us camped out under the moon. Determined to catch the eclipse, but fading away and drifting off to sleep before it actually started. But the near-hour we spent basking in the moonlight, watching bats hover around and the odd sparkle of Venus shining through from behind the heavy cloud cover, was just amazing.

On Saturday morning we said our goodbyes and if I hadn’t had plans to meet D for breakfast, I’d have been very, very bummed roaming around an empty house all by myself. D and I had promised to meet to exchange gifts we’ve been holding on to on a string of endless planned and botched meetings. I got the most delightful gift I have in ages — Kiki de Montparnasse, that I have only lusted over before and never thought to own and a wildly unexpected handwritten note. I’m a sucker for those, and when they bring unexpectedly life-affirming messages, it’s a win win win. Told you it’s a week of gifts, no?

Eventually, I did come home to the full force of the gloom of my two week break (if I were to count ten days in Goa plus the three in Bangalore when we had D and K over!) inevitably ending.

As nice as it was to be at home with VC again, potter about clearing up the house and doing comfortingly mundane things like change the sheets, tend to the piled up laundry and cook a simple meal, I had to fight a strange lethargy that had came over me. It brought with it extra long naps on Saturday and Sunday. And Sunday was spent mostly in a funk — restless and a bit antsy. I attributed it to the effects of the full moon lingering on, but VC also pointed out that this Sunday-evening-gloom seems to be a recurring, weekly thing. I hadn’t realised it, but he is right and I want to try and really get to the bottom of why it is so. I don’t have an office to get to on Monday, the start of a new week per se doesn’t bring me down. So why do Sunday evenings get to me?

After restlessly flitting about not achieving much all day, I decided to cook to get myself together. And it worked. Amma was to arrive from Bombay and had asked for a simple dinner. So I cooked a big pot of dal (for them and for us), a karela sabji that I attempted for the first time, and a masala stir fry of boiled eggs. Despite how out of sync I’ve been with the kitchen — with the sense of routine, of even wanting to cook coming and going in waves — it still does ground me in ways that few other things do.

I took dinner over to my folks’ to realise that amma had brought back brownies form Theobroma for us. It really has been a week of happy surprises, and a perfect way to turn in. Brownie in my belly and happy in my heart.

Monday has rolled along, and things have slowly slipped back to normalcy. I resumed yoga today. I caught up on emails, received some happy-making ones. Ate a sumptuous meal with my parents, something I had been missing, I realised. And I caught yet another long nap — something is making me really luxuriate with these. And just like that the gloom of the weekend has lifted completely.

One year ago: Bangalore: a graphic novel
Two years ago: Day 211: Interwebzy things

Day 205: My moves are slow, but soon they’ll know

I’m grateful for the rain. It has been really lovely this week. Just the right amount of downpours that I’ve enjoyed mostly sitting indoors, when it gets dark enough to need the lights on at 5 pm, making the books I’ve been reading unputdownable.

I’m grateful for how things slow down in Goa.

I’m grateful for the unfettered affection I’ve observed in the puppies. I’ve watched them all week, equal parts amazed, entertained, amused, sometimes stupefied at the simple way in which they operate, how steadfastly focused they are on getting the basic good stuff that they want. But mostly I’ve been in awe, again and again, at the unbridled way in which they’re themselves. More human than most humans I know.

I’m grateful for my kindle. Every time that I am away and have the space to read many hours on end, and segue from one book to another in a short while, I realise what a fantastic gadget it is to have.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to witness a Waldorf school up close. To be inspired by a kind of quiet conviction that I wish I had. To have been transported right back to the last two years of my schooling, which was a much simpler time.

I’m grateful for the abundance I’ve felt this past week. In the homely meals we’ve made for ourselves and enjoyed in silence. In the freewheeling conversations. In sinking into a sea of possibilities that lie ahead. In the friendship I am surrounded by. In feeling so not alone. In the incredible privilege to call two places home.

I’m grateful for friends who open their homes to us time and time and time again. Entertaining us not just with a roof over our heads, but with a heartfelt connection that I can only attribute to something beyond this time and space.

I am grateful for second chances. Yet again. And maybe that makes it a third/fourth chance? I’m grateful for life itself, for how it is so persistent, sometimes roundabout, but always opening up, pushing me further and showing me the way every time that I have stopped to listen.

Day 187: Did you fall from a shooting star?

The weather let up just a wee bit today. Muggy cloudy days have meant the temperatures have been steadily rising. The stillness in the air has been stifling. But today, the clouds broke a bit. And we had overcast skies, the gentlest drizzle and cool wind. Perfect for a brunch date specifically to have deep fried carbs that turned into a gossip sesh over way too many cups of chai. That is all.

Two years ago: Day 187: June

Day 185: One foot in front of the other, babe

This past weekend, we had S and R over for dinner. Niyu came over too and VC and I made pizzas from scratch — homemade whole wheat thin crusts, a slow-cooked tomato sauce, some freshly ground pesto, butter garlic prawns and assorted veg to go on top. Niyu made a cracker of a watermelon and feta salad too. Everything came together so beautifully. Earlier in the day I was overwhelmed. I only began cooking at 3 and had a moment of wanting to throw the towel in because I had bitten off much more than I could chew. Not really — this was actually a simple meal to put together once I broke it down — it’s just been so long since I entertained like this and cooked for more than just VC and me, I had cold feet.

I’m grateful for Niyu. And for the help she always pitches in. I can almost always shut my eyes and leave the salad and/or other components to her and she will not just deliver, but go beyond and wow us.

I’m grateful for the time we spent with R, S and H. It’s nice that we have a space outside of their home, which somehow seems to bring out entirely different sides to them. Everybody loosens up, there is much laughter and chatter, and perhaps the absence of all kinds of policing means everyone lets their guard down.

I’m SO grateful for the new mattress we bought. I’m so glad VC finally just pushed through and took the decision without waiting for me to deliberate or analyse if it was time yet. Our old mattress arrangement (because it wasn’t even a real solid double mattress) goes all the way back to our broke days when we moved to Goa and couldn’t imagine spending double digit thousands on home things. And so we managed. And we managed and we managed for closing in on nine years. I’d probably have managed some more because it was one of those things that hasn’t caused an obvious problem yet. But it’s only in its absence, with the benefit of a far superior alternative that Im realising what we have been missing out on. It’s no wonder that I’ve been having amazing sleep of late.

I’m grateful for CARBS. Oh so so so grateful for them. They have been giving me life these past few weeks. From months of branding them evil, to slowly accepting them again, little by little, I’m now almost fully back to eating carbs as and when I please. And it is so liberating to be eating freely again, without demonizing parts of my food, the meal itself, parts of my body, or myself.

I’m grateful for leftovers. I really, really am.

I’m grateful for the affirmation that I’ve been on. I hadn’t realised it, but what seemed like a surprise set of occurrences in the past few days, was actually directly linked to what I have been affirming to myself everyday.

I’m grateful for the card reading VC obliged me with on Sunday. It was spot on as usual. And of course it featured an elephant. As usual.
And I’m extremely grateful for how he is encouraging me on to go my way. I’ll take a sign when I see one, and I’ll grab it with both hands if VC encourages me to.

I’m grateful for conversations with S this past week, that have been knocking it out of the park as far as getting deep in there and digging in with both hands goes. We met for brunch, with the intention to spend some time painting. Instead, we gabbed and gabbed. While stuffing our faces.
No shying away, no mincing words, no pussyfooting. I love that we can prop each other up and keep each other going in this way.

I’m grateful for this little lesson. It was so needed, and so perfectly timed. And I’m grateful for the little bit of progress I realised I have made.

I’m grateful for some of the things I’ve slowly cultivated this past year that I am only now seeing blooming ever so quietly in ways that are impacting my everyday life: gratitude for the little and big things alike, self-love and opening my heart out a little bit more than what feels comfortable and comes naturally, and a little bit more patience to let things slow down as they must. (This realisation too is an outcome of several conversations I’ve had with S this past week.)

Day 180: I choose to be happy

Of 22 degree Bangalore mornings.

And unplanned plans that turn the day around.

Of wordless work days that need not much else, but remembrance. A dash of red. A quickly snapped picture. An unfussy way to remember the day.

One year ago: What coming home feels like: Revisiting old haunts
Two years ago: Day 180: Thoughts on a girly holiday

Day 179: One day, we’ll be old and think of all the stories we could have told

Today, I’ve been studying my coursework. And I chanced upon a beautiful segment about the energies that guides our relationships, the push and pull of desires guilt and what drives our actions, and how loneliness/solitude and isolation is a necessary by product of self awareness.

Last week, I felt a little grief about a particular friendship. It’s made a comeback of sorts today. It was so uplifting even as I felt vulnerable and cut open.

Another, that I hadn’t even spent any time thinking about, also surfaced today, but only to affirm my place and decision to keep distance. It was so freeing.

Like I said yesterday, I’m grateful for loss. But today really affirmed it. Temporary and permanent.

Two years ago: Day 179: Back to base. Almost.

Day 176: Take a minute, I’ve been sitting here and wondering

Sunday evening blues are a real bane on my weekends in Bangalore. This is something that was largely missing in Goa. I had only begun to feel a hint of it towards the end, during the last few months before I left Goa. But for the most part, even my years working full time, I was largely unaffected by Sunday evening blues.

Here though, I feel physically trapped. And with every passing weekend, the feeling seems to be growing. On the one hand there is the palpable discomfort with having myself at a loose end on a Sunday evening. And then there is the added discomfort of wondering why I’m suddenly hating Sunday evenings. I don’t know what to do with this feeling except let it pass, which it eventually does, but not without making me sulk a whole lot first.

I don’t know what to do with it because that’s how unfamiliar the feeling is. In Goa, I’d just drive out, or go for a run or take myself to a coffee shop with a book, or do something to up my spirits on a Sunday evening. Most often I didn’t need company. In fact it was my Sunday evening rituals that convinced me I was a 100% introvert. That has changed now, but more so on Sundays in Bangalore where I find keeping myself upbeat depends on so many variables. I really resent that high dependence — on navigating traffic if I choose to get out, on that slim sliver of time that is the sweet spot of getting out on a Sunday evening, on the handful of places that aren’t going to be infested with noisy crowds on a Sunday evening, on finding apt company (because most places aren’t conducive to sitting by myself for long hours). It’s just all too much decision-making, and the thought of putting in so much effort just to feel a little upbeat, makes me feel like it’s just too much of a song and dance for something so basic.

So I sat home yesterday, in protest. Of what, I’m not entirely sure. I think I was protesting the state of my weekends and how far I’ve fallen. Or some such.

Sundays are the day when the reality of how much life overall in Bangalore, does not sit right for me. On a day to day basis, I get by because all the little things I do feel okay, they’re deliberate and I make efforts to look on the bright side and make my peace. But on Sundays, everything falls apart. Sitting at home, counting down the many ways in which I feel trapped, incapable and just so stuck, it’s enough to make me want to really question my life here.

This past weekend was largely meh. I vegetated for the most part. On Saturday evening, my sister came over and we baked a banana cake and some pesto-garlic rolls, which significantly cheered me up. I slept rather late because I stayed up watched Dear Zindagi, which I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed a second time over.

On Sunday, I stayed in bed way longer than I am known to, maybe because of how late it was by the time I crashed. We went out to lunch with VC’s family, which while fun while it lasts, always leaves me feeling a bit…empty. By the time we were back home, it was too late to do anything to salvage the fast nose-diving evening. VC was glued to the race which lasted all evening. And I curled up in bed again, ostensibly to read, but my mind was just overcome with This-Cant-Be-My-Life thoughts. More specifically, I can’t get over why Sunday evenings have suddenly become such a deal-breaker for me. It’s taken up unnecessarily large proportions that I am not comfortable with.

Serendipitously, P texted me all the way from Finland. Most uncharacteristically, we had a long, long, long chat about friendship, loneliness and the difficulties of moving on. Uncharacteristic because we only ever text each other when we need recommendations for books, or we have a book to recommend, and because I have been religiously turning my Whatsapp off by 8 pm every evening but given how I was feeling, I let myself stay and chat. And it was all kinds of affirming to suddenly have a conversation about the guilt and grief of changing friendships that feel like they’re slowly loosening their grip and fading away, so out of the blue, with someone who knew exactly what that feels like.

I am really enjoying this strange space where I am simultaneously craving the company of likeminded women, also struggling to find it, and yet also somehow finding it in the most unlikely spaces. (As an aside, it’s a sign of just how much has changed in just one year, considering on this day exactly a year ago I wrote about seeking solitude.) Chatting with P was the sliver lining on my otherwise very lacklustre Sunday.

***

Weather-wise, Bangalore has been a dream. Feathery rain that feels like a caress more than a shower, perfect to stay in, actually. And yet, that feels like such a trap in Bangalore.

It’s been reminding me of my Goa monsoon playlist, non-stop. And it’s also where the title of this post is from.

Re-live it a little with me, won’t ya?

One year ago: What coming home feels like: Seeking solitude
Two years ago: Day 176: Begin

Day 173: Nobody really likes us, except us

I’m closing this week feeling a lot of gratitude for work. Specifically the assignment that came at me completely by surprise. The one I felt inclined to take on, totally surprising myself. And the one that has kept me strapped to my chair for the better part of this week.

It’s been a while since I had an assignment so large and demanding, and a deadline so tight. I was a bit wary about how that might feel given it’s been an age since I’ve had full days of work at my desk. But maybe this was just what I needed to shake off the dust, oil the rusty parts of my writing game and get it going again.

Better still, I just may have hit upon a sweet spot of the kind of work I could potentially find myself doing. Something for the long run. Considering all the reasons why I’ve slowed down with my feature writing, I’ve been wondering where to take my writing next. And the nature of this assignment gave me a few clues.

This week, I’m also deeply grateful for the friendship in my life. Even as I’m sitting with a sense of impending loss in this space, this week more than usual, I noticed that despite it all, kinship always reaches me. And it has started to reach me with a sincere, genuinely deep kind of quality that I was missing all along, and craving of late.

In these moments, I realise we’re no longer just simply hanging out or talking (that is great too. I’ve just been craving a little something more). We’re talking about things that matter. Things that someone cared to listen to when I mentioned, packed it away in a corner of their minds and thought about it and me again when the time was right. And cared enough to reconnect over it. We’ve connected.

I realise that I’m connecting with individuals in a manner very different from the one I have known this far. Not too many times before in my life have mere encounters like coffee or breakfast or living room conversations done this weird thing where they quite literally fills my heart up. I don’t know how else to explain it. But the quality of interactions has been physically satisfying, and this fullness is what I’ve been craving but didn’t have the words for. This is a lot for someone whose entire relationship with friendship has hitherto been very-very-connected-(if I were to consider social media etc.)-but-somehow-just-not-satisfied.

VC and I have been having so much more conversation of late. I don’t know what, specifically, has changed to be honest. The logistics of our life are the same — meaning we still have only as much face time as we used to before. But something has moved. We find ourselves choosing to spend time together, actually talking and connecting and sharing, more than before. It is most unlikely of VC, but we ended up going out for coffee twice this week. TWICE. I’m still letting that sink in because the last time he did this, for a lark and of his own volition was when he was pursuing me eleven whole years ago. It’s ridiculous to even admit this, but even as I consider VC my best friend, I’ve always put him in an entirely separate category to the rest of my friends. You know what they say about roaming the world seeking what’s already under your nose? This is a classic example of that. And now is a good time to make a change.

A has been sending me screenshots of inspiration from Instagram (since I’m not on it and can’t see it myself) — snapshots of artists’ creative process, an invitation to a writing retreat in Italy, snippets of food writing — persistently egging me on to get down to revisiting my abandoned food memoir. This is an ongoing conversation we seem to be having and it’s oddly heartwarming to think someone has more faith in my ability to finish this book, than I do.

S and I made it to breakfast at 8 am this week. We picked breakfast in the hope of finishing up quickly and make it back home with more than half the day to spare for regular programming. But we ended up chatting for three hours — deep, heartfelt conversations about everything from friendship and loss, to what it means to “uncouple.” All plans to have a productive day would have been dashed, if not for my very demanding assignment. But, I was happy for the few hours off because it really lifted my day and filled me up.

I’ve been mostly in over my head thinking a world of things. I am also in a space where I want to share some of it with people in a similar headspace. Often it just feels like a lot of effort to “talk” on text. Which makes my niche of people really small, I know. I guess it’s why I’ve been happy to have the opportunity to catch up with the few with whom I have the luxury, because then we can spread ourselves out and really connect, and talk. I’ve been dying to bounce some of these thoughts off in person. I should have reached out earlier, but I didn’t, for whatever reason. And N and I have both been in a similar quandary I suppose — to text (because every time we text it can go on for a while!)? or to contain it some more? But in spectacularly predictable fashion, she reached out to me today and brought up the. exact. same. things. that I’ve been thinking about. And we ended up having a long chat that funnily eased up a lot of wrinkles in my brain.

I really, really missed coming home from class and rehashing the days learning with K and D, like we do when they’re down for their learning. Almost as if someone was listening in on my feelings, D called me to catch up on what happened. Neither of us is the talk-on-the-phone sort. I know this for sure. In person we can yak on for hours on end, but on the phone? Never mind. And yet, there are moments where this happens. We chatted for upwards of 40 minutes last week and it was just the conversation I needed to decompress from all that I had experienced at class.

This is the quality of connection I am talking about. Connecting with someone at a level where we’re willing to push our own boundaries and make some space, it’s a rare and wonderful gift that I am so grateful for.

I told N today that there’s something magical about stopping the wait for something (anything!) to happen like it’s a destination that just refuses to arrive. Every time that I have done it, dropped the feeling of struggling to make something happen (whether work, or overtures of friendship, or the smallest and biggest desires), I realise how much of it is already happening in my life. This week, I realised it’s also happening with friendship.

I’m also grateful for this extended mango season. A gave me some stunning mangoes from her ancestral farm. And our local fruit delivery peeps are still stocking some amazing fruit. VC has been cheating on his attempts to go keto, so bad.

If you’ve been reading for a while, and know anything about me at all, you’ll know that where there’s gratitude there’s also food, no? Niyu cooked us a smashing ramen meal earlier this week. Spicy, packed with flavour and soul-satisfying for a rainy night.

And while we’re thinking about food, this throwback from Thailand. For no reason at all except that it was yummayy.

One year ago: Just breathe
Two years ago: Day 173: Soaked mornings

Day 172: When autumn comes, it doesn’t ask

Yesterday, I carried with me, for just a brief while, guilt about changing feelings towards someone in my life. On the one hand, I know this might very well be a passing phase. But, I find myself in a position of numbness and no feeling towards this person. I am feeling lesser and lesser inclined to reach out and connect with them. Because I am also aware of all that has gone into pushing me here to this point, feeling this, the very good reasons for my feelings changing, I also honour and acknowledge this numbness. This state of inaction.

And yet, on the other, there is a little guilt. Guilt about finding myself in this disappointing situation that is so far from the one I had imagined with them.

This morning, I realised there is a also a little grief. Grief about a possible end. That it had to come to this. Grief that I am having to let go of a part of the picture I had in my mind, about the way things would be.

I don’t want to avoid this truth anymore. The truth about how I feel. That I am disappointed, a little sad and also numb. That I wish it were different, but also that I am not feeling inclined to put in the effort. That it’s almost like the ship has sailed. And it is time to walk.

Sometimes, and I know this from experience, a goodbye is temporary. Sometimes it doesn’t even take a proper goodbye. A momentary passage of time, space between us, is good. It makes way for something new. Either an old thing, renewed. Or something entirely new. Either way, it’s okay to feel disappointed, to find it hard to let go. To let go anyway. It’s okay.

Two years ago: Day 172: Things about VC that I never want to forget #17

Day 166: Come on, keep me where the light is

Today, in gratitude.

Yoga. I’m closing in on a full month and every day I surprise myself a little more with how much this is feeling right. To just be there, focus on starting and finishing every class, without an eye on the clock (like I used to be at the gym) or watching any kind of number led validation, or watching for “results” or anything else. This is definitely one of the better choices I’ve made this year, after signing up for the course I’m doing.

A week of rain. It’s been such a good week. Finished a long-drawn-out book thanks to the good weather.

Surprise walks about town. I really love central Bangalore — there, I said it. And I’m trying to make the most of it when I am out and about. It helps that there have been plenty trips that side. Between breakfast dates, class and general gallivanting. I took this picture when D and I went to Blossoms last week. Church Street is spanking new and shiny, but it thrilled me to see nothing’s going to keep the hand carts out. This one, laden with summer fruit — lychees, stat fruit, jamoons, ice apples and the like — just seemed like a perfect goodbye to the season.

Koshy’s. One of the few things that I really love about Bangalore. I’m glad I live close enough so I can duck out when I please. This past week I actually found myself there more often than I planned.

Breakfasts out. Quite unknowingly I’ve managed to keep up the get-breakfast weekly habit I wanted for myself. I met M last week and A this week. And already have plans for next week. I didn’t plan for this to necessarily be an outing with company — in fact, I was quite looking forward to a table for one because I just assumed it would be me all by myself — but I’m so grateful for how it’s turning out.

My folks who came back to town over the weekend. Amma, Niyu and I went out for a spot of shopping. We also managed to catch a weekday lunch at Nagarjuna — the four of us — together which is such a rarity. It was fun, rainy out and despite the traffic and the waiting, I am grateful for the time.

The heightened, energy-spike in my aha-moments this past week. Once when I picked up on some seriously bad energy one evening and just couldn’t settle until I had dug deeper and broken it down to get to the bottom of what exactly was bothering me. And second, all day long after meeting A and chatting about the things that we did — it sparked off a whole lot of thoughts for me. I love a conversation that has an impact so hard it lingers long after.

The ease in my conversations with VC. It’s beginning to feel like every time I feel we’ve unlocked a new level in our relationship, there’s something deeper to get to. I am only realising now how much this has been about presenting myself wholeheartedly and authentically to him. He has always been around for me, I’ve had to see it in the way that I do now, and grab my share of it and dive in. This has been an empowering and freeing experience. We’re better together. And I’m equal parts grateful for where we are and excited for where we seem to be going.

Two back-to-back weekends of coursework. As exhausted and mentally depleted as it makes me feel, the heady high of coming out with new insights, new learning is so addictive. I’m grateful for the safety of the circle we’ve created where I am able to fall apart, as well as participate in holding others up with equal ease. It is a privilege and a gift, and by no means a coincidence. I am eternally grateful for this is fast turning into the very reason for spending 2018 in Bangalore.

This gratitude habit itself. Six months in, I know just how much it has impacted the way I am able to operate out of a mostly positive headspace. One, my bank balance has never been this low and yet somehow I’m spending (literally and figuratively) with an ease I’ve never had. It hasn’t stopped me from grabbing the experiences I’ve wanted to. Two, despite the unsettledness of May, I got through it with minimal flare ups. Not because I was bottling it in, but because I’ve been better at recognising and acknowledging what is a blip vs what is an actual shitty experience and dropping shit and moving on with alacrity.

Three, the serendipitous way in which an assignment landed in my inbox. From an unexpected, unlikely source, it ended up being a foray into an area of work I’ve been toying with the idea of exploring. I didn’t know how to get an in. And suddenly there it was.

Four, there is a newfound comfort and balance in experiencing solitude (which sometines subtly slips into loneliness) as well as meeting new people and widening my circle, alike. It’s an inner ease that is taking me through it all — it feels like a strengthening of my core — making me stand comfortably alone when I find myself alone as well as open my heart (I actively volunteered to be in a study group, ffs) to new connections, new groups, when they present themselves.

This palpable abundance in my life — in experiences, people, travel, things too — I feel it every single day. And I’m so aware how it isn’t an outcome of the pursuit of this as stuff as much as it is about finding myself in this intangible bubble of positivity that I actually don’t have the words to express. It transcends physical happenings.

This is probably the first time in my life that I am actively watching myself change, and the fear of the uncertainty and of what I am shedding and leaving behind, is absolutely nil. I’m grateful for that. What an exciting time this is to be able to watch all the pieces of this puzzle as they are slowly falling into place.

Two years ago: Day 166: Just keep swimming

Day 158: With your hand in my hand and a pocket full of soul

Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I had an entire day to do just as I pleased. No work demands, no home demands, no strings, no schedules.

It began with a breakfast date with M at Koshy’s, who I was meeting for the very first time. It’s been absolute years since I felt inclined to meet a stranger on the internet via the blog. But something in M’s email, and her reasons for reaching out now even though she’s apparently been reading for years, made me feel we’d click. And it was just such a spectacular delight. We had sausages, bacon, omlettes and coffee and discussed everything from being childfree to our patterns of consumption and waste management. All this, in the context of how the pace of life around us just doesn’t seem to fit with our own and how we’re always seeking like-minded people who feel the same sense of dissonance. I can safely say this is the first time that Ive had a conversation about this stuff and had so many “OMG, ME TOO!”s with anyone in Bangalore. It doesn’t even happen with my own friends anymore. It was wildly reassuring and really made me so grateful for the uncanny ways in which the universe (and the internet) connects us to the right people at the right time.

I got home to an empty house, which I’ve been enjoying. I ate two large mangoes for a late lunch, since I was too stuffed from breakfast to eat anything else, while binge watching and finishing She’s Gotta Have It. I have oh so many thoughts about the show — it’s fantastic, btw — but I will have to let them steep a bit before I pontificate.

I then read for two hours straight. Something else that I haven’t had the pleasure of doing for a long while.

The plan then was to head to my mum’s place where my sister (who is also home alone) and I would eat a light dinner and watch a documentary together. But I had another one of those days where I was fused to the beanbag watching Netflix or reading for something like five hours. And I had obviously gone to the point of no return so that plan got canned so fast.

I did manage to get out in time to cook though. Made myself a big pot of mixed veggie sambar and a palak stir fry, which I walloped faster than I could say yummayy.

The husband was home for all of ten minutes between 7.45 and 8 pm before dashing off for dinner with some friends. So I took my lazy ass to bed early. Enjoying the expanse of the double bed all by myself, watching Netflix to sleep.

It was so good to be home.

It felt so good to be without an agenda and still have a full day.

I loved that I made a new friend.

I realised the flowers in the window are going BATSHIT.

I really enjoyed cooking for myself. The mindfulness of caring about what I eat has returned and it felt so good to eat that hot, home-cooked, healthy meal.

I noticed the skies have been mad off late.

I began the next module of my course today so by the end of yesterday I had the excited anticipatory vibes of a teenager before a new school term.

Life is good. Life is really good.

Two years ago: Day 158: No words today

Day 136: Waiting here to find the sign, that I should take it slow

One of the expected side effects of growing self-awareness is how clear my own bullshit becomes, and despite a struggle how much quicker I am to call bullshit on some of my behaviour, patterns and tendencies.

But nobody told me it was going to also become easier to notice other peoples’ bullshit just as easily too. It often lands me in a quandary, especially with friends whom I feel I owe honesty. Do I speak up? How much should I say? And how do I say this without sounding self-important and risking trivialising the issue?

I am also realising that mostly, this self-awareness is a privilege and a gift. One that I must handle with care. I’m learning every day, to separate noticing bullshit from spilling over into judge-y tendencies that tend to go into building entire stories in my head. I slip up sometimes, but I’m getting better at noticing it when it happens, and nipping it in the bud.

On the flip side, it doesn’t make the awareness go away. For eg: when a good friend is being a jerk, or being silly, or maybe just floundering in a way that you can help fix, it’s hard not to notice. And so often, I find myself having witness a peculiar behaviour, and sometime siting with the knowledge of where it may be coming from. But more and more, I keep myself from jumping to provide an opinion or solution. I’m trying to exercise restraint more often than not, because every body has their own journey of self-realisation to make.

In a seemingly insignificant conversation this week, I noticed two things:

  • My absolute refusal to get dragged into drama that is fundamentally not mine, or drama where none is needed, has peaked.
  • Instead of flapping out polite, rational, “correct” responses, I actively take some time out to think about what is happening and how it is making me feel, before I respond.
  • Consequently, my responses are clearer. Firm, but articulate. Calling bullshit, but kindly.

I patted myself on my back for my proportionate and precise responses that keep the drama at bay, and the conversation short. N said something yesterday that really resonated with me: it’s a step up to be able to talk about things that I’d otherwise just stew about in private, allowing it to cripple and cramp me along the way. It’s nice to keep working out the kinks. And sometimes seeing proof that whatever’s at work, is working.

Day 131: Please don’t go

Postcard from Goa 7.

MAJOR GOA WITHDRAWALS IN PROGRESS.

I promise to stop this pcture posting standing in for actual writing now. And let normal programming resume on Monday.

(I think.)

Two years ago: Day 131: Summer evenings