Movie misgivings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sigh.

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

Moving on

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

Seaside blues

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

One year ago: Quiet movements where I can find

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

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

***

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

Diwali

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

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

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

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

That’ll be all.

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

Good juju

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

Surprises

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

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

Who knew. This was possible too!

***

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

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

On ordinariness

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

It’s nice to see Revati, they said.

*insert Revati’s confused face*

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

Eh?

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

But, clearly I am mistaken?

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

All heart

23 kilometres run this week.

An important, excellent therapy session.

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

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

A day spent with S.

VC is home.

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

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

Happy, like me.

***

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

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

Let it blow through you, don’t let it move you

I had a brief exchange with someone a couple of days ago that brought up in full force a latent feeling of hurt and disappointment with people. Specifically of a set of people I felt used me during the Goa years of my life. People I mostly knew online, but who slipped from the virtual into the real in the name of shared interests. People I mistakenly called friends. People I opened my home and life to so (maybe a touch unnecessarily too) willingly. People I realise now preyed on the usefulness of knowing someone who lived in Goa. People who picked my brain effortlessly — for work, for contacts, for information, for inspiration, for help, for connection, for friendship. People who took it all so easily. People who have benefited from my hospitality, my openness, my willingness, my warmth.

People who needed me then, more than they do now. People who dropped me like a hot potato when that phase — and the usefulness — of my life ended.

Because, what use am I now when all I do is blog about a largely personal journey? Only speaking in vague circles. Not posturing at an audience. Not sharing details of any particular interest to anyone. Not giving enough meat to build a steady voyeuristic habit on. Not possessing much coolth by way of social media currency or giving anyone any reason to engage with me. None of the above.

The exchange, and the hurt that followed, didn’t leave me pining for the oddly confused/lost connections (as such situations once did), as much as it made me feel sorry for the naive and simply trusting person that I have been. For being at the receiving end of this, too often for my own liking. For mistaking my own loneliness and need for diversity as the right receptacle for new connections. For mistaking some of those new connections to be something real connections. For trusting. For being used. For feeling hurt.

I’m glad that exchange was quickly followed up with a solid day spent (in a saree!) with S. I chatted with her about this, blinking back tears at one point. Because it reinforced so much about where I’m at, what kind of connection I want and will welcome, and just how impossibly ungrateful people can be. And even as I feel my world expand, my heart open wide, there is a simultaneous bitter truth about the number of people who make it in to that inner world getting smaller and smaller.

I feel grateful for the friends I have at this point in my life. Close friends, acquaintances and everyone else in between. I’m grateful for what I have learned from experiences past, and the ability to now call shit like this out. Even if to myself, even if in retrospect. For knowing what I simply will not stand for anymore.

The more I see how shit people can be, and the ways in which they have exited my life, the more I appreciate those that have remained. Those with whom my relationship has evolved and strengthened. Those who have given me room to be who I am, through the ups and down. Those who watched me go and grow through the last two years either silently from the sidelines, or cheering me on front and centre. Those who have made me feel I have the space and liberty to take as much as I give. Those who allow me to take, even when I don’t have much to give. Those with whom the relationship is larger and way beyond what I am good for or what I have to give.

***

I was talking to S (a different S ahaha!) yesterday and telling her how even though I am in a phase where I feel solid physically and mentally, I seem to be at my most “unproductive” best. My reluctance to do anything at all has reached an all time high, and my inclination to work (actually, to do anything at all beyond the bare minimum required of me right now) is at an all time low. And she echoed it — telling me how her experience was exactly the same during the time of this same course that I am in the thick of.

The more I think about, the more I feel glad for a life that allows all of this. The luxury of staying off work commitments, the choice to dip in and out of family commitments knowing I have their support and backing, a roof over my head that I don’t have to hustle for, a structure and routine that has my space and solitude at the heart of it. It’s enabling a lot more than the obvious.

***

Ran a smooth, steady 7km in the park today. A good pace, a new route, bumping into S after 7 months since I trained with her last. To have her look at me and immediately notice OMG, you’re running! and then to take off and run with her for the rest of the time. Such a good start to my day. I’m grateful for the park, for bumping into S (that’s yet another S! I realised recently that I am surrounded by them!) who took my run from a regular run to a milestone run. My longest outdoor run yet that ended at 7.1km.

One year ago: Warm days filled with sunshine
Two years ago: Boooooook post
Three years ago: 109 kms done

I can laugh

Yesterday was essay submission day, and as usual it was a dash. This, despite having done some work progressively over the last couple of days, and having practiced nearly every single day for the last ten days. I just can’t seem to escape the last minute rush. At least it wasn’t panic this time. Because I had my points of focus down, I knew what I had to say and I just had to work on putting it together coherently. I wonder if last minute panic is just a part of my process, and weirdly brings out the best in me?

As I was flipping through the pages of my notebook, referencing things because last time I was in class feels like it was two months ago, I realised it’s only been two weeks. Something strange has been happening: this distortion of time. This weird expansion and collapse of time that’s not in my control, the way that I’ve been losing track of what day of the week it is, and generally how slow and quiet everything has become.

It’s only been two weeks, and while externally there has been a whole lot of peace and quiet, within I have been in full tilt churn. I have witnessed this quietly for a change, allowing it time and space, not rushing it, not trying to make sense of it.

In the bargain, time has slowed down in this most beautiful way. And yet simultaneously, it’s zipped by so fast that. Two weeks has felt like two months. Except, it’s just been two weeks, how can it feel like two months!

***

One of the things I’ve been working on is building a safe internal container — for my process and for myself. I know it is an outcome of that timely meeting of my inner child, from the strong and resourced place of the adult that I am growing into. It is a slow and testing process, and I have been waiting for a sign, some indication of this development.

So yesterday, when I registered this distortion of time and how I have retreated in some ways because of it, I suddenly realised this is probably what a healthy internal containment looks like! I have in many ways held myself together (not in a way that is repressive and uptight), even as I allowed the unfolding and processing of all that has come to pass these past two weeks since that important day.

I whooped for joy. Because this has taken no conscious work. All I have done is consistently and consciously stayed with what I was feeling, everything that came up, saying yes to it all and giving it a place.

***

One of the most healing things during this time has been the lighthearted chatter I’ve been having with S. We don’t meet nearly as often as we’d like to, and when there’s things going on internally we may some times withdraw into our own worlds, emerging to touch base only for the fluffy banter, a spot of nonsensical gabbing and the like. But it almost always results in oh so much laughter.

To be able to resurface for a breath fo air, reach out, and be met with a response that generates giggles and stifled guffaws that make me look stupid in public places, or make it seem like I have a constant boyfriend chat going on because of the stupid grin pasted on my face, is a real gift. It has been so empowering and healing to be reminded so, so often that I can laugh, even as big, life-altering changes are in swing.

***

The other two things that have given me support and steadiness: adequate, restful sleep. And exercise. Truth be told, the sleep has been so good, and the weather has been so good (and cold!) that it’s been a bit hard getting out of bed early in the morning. There’s such a massive draw to just stay under the cover, that many days I wake up, get into my gym clothes and drop back into bed for a snooze again, before I finally leave.

I’ve had to step back on the regimen a bit, focusing just on making it and getting a basic workout in everyday. Because I realise there is a resistance and whatever is going on inside is probably taking away some energy too. So I have allowed for it, not pushing myself too hard, going with what my body feels like. Running 5.3kms one day, and just 2.5 the next. Getting weights done some days, coming home after a sweaty run on others. This is clearly not a time for fixed and rigid rules, but to flow where my body goes.

One year ago: They paved paradise

Content

It’s been a glorious rainy, Bangalore monsoon day. Probably not the best day for it, but I spent the entire day out. And it was good, after a weekend of excessive solitude.

I’m getting more comfortable taking the slightly long route to take the metro wherever possible. Especially on a rainy day like today when I got ghosted by two consecutive Ubers, who had collectively kept me waiting 25 minutes. There’s a sense of liberation in not having to depend on another human being to get anywhere. Though I noticed, to my utter delight today, that all the trains I took were being driven (is that what you do with a train? drive it? suddenly I’m not sure) were women.

It was nice to be out and I realised how much I crave invigorating company and conversations that make me tick. A rare spot of daytime drinking to start the week was not a bad idea either hahaha. S has a way and we have a way together. It was a good idea to start the week this way.

Completely satiated, mind and body, I stepped out to of the restaurant, to get back home, only to find profuse rain. That typical feathery, persistent as hell Bangalore rain that comes down like a gossamer veil that feels like it’s not too much, but stand outdoors and you’ll feel it envelope you completely.

There’s potentially a lot to say today, but I’m just not in the mood for it. I feel strangely quiet and content. So, that’ll be all.

One year ago: Hold on to this feeling, when dreaming of leaving
Two years ago: Book ends

Three years ago: Stack overflow

Unpretty

Been thinking an unnecessarily awful lot about my need to have the last word in confrontations that don’t end in a rosy, pretty way, all tied up in a pretty bow. Because this need is high. At the moment it feels a little bit like the need to be heard, my truth that I’ve never allowed to be heard (in this specific situation) slowly finding a way out. But it also feels a little bit like my urge to still control the way in which what I’ve expressed is taken or received.

It takes constant reminding to let that shit go. That once I’ve spoken, the words are out, it’s on the other to take it and make what they will of it. That is decided entirely by where they may be placed, emotionally speaking, at any given point of time as well as how open they are to seeing and hearing the truth.

It takes constant reminding that I have never been able to control that, and it’s not about to change now. If anything, the more the truth is finding its way out, the more resistance I am going to face. The more people are going to step away. The more the outcomes are going to be hard and far from perfect, all tied up in bows.

I don’t know about strong, but this is still amongst one of the bravest things I’ve done in the last few years.

This business of accepting the unpretty side of things is a long and slow process. It has meant shedding the belief that I am a fixer, the belief that I am a uniformly good and understanding person. Because there are many things I cannot (and do not) want to fix. I want to let people do the work to figure out why things sometimes go wrong between us, and put in their share of effort in building bridges if they so wish. And in the absence of that, I am an imperfectly fallible human being with feelings — sometimes hurt, sometimes rage, sometimes disappointment — about just how much I cannot mould and fix an ending so it can be pretty.

Sometimes endings are not pretty. Most times, even when they bring liberation, they’re not happy. It just takes constant reminding that that’s perfectly okay.

Two years ago: In which I end up without a phone
Three years ago: Homebody

Support

In case you haven’t gathered already, whether I’ve explicitly stated it or not, it’s been a heavy couple of weeks weeks. Not to say it’s been outright down and out. We have made it through with our fair share of laughs. I was in Goa for the most part, amply bolstered by VC and my sister, being around whom, I realised just softens all the hard knocks for me. You know, there are some folks who make any situation better? I think VC and Niyu are those folks for me. So much so that it wasn’t until VC left to come be with his folks, Niyu went back to her routine, and I had a day all to myself that the full impact of just how heavy and overwhelming everything really was, caught up with me.

It’s been pouring buckets in Goa, the kind of weather I love. And I was all in to sit back and enjoy it. But the day VC left for Bangalore, I had a realisation that for now, he is the only remaining connect I feel with the place, the only reason I can get myself to spend any time in Goa at all. Without him around, even the rain, the solitude, the freedom felt a bit insipid and pointless. Because as soon as he left, I was all Okay what am I doing here ya very nice rain amazing weather beautiful lush green nice nice but can I just be with him thanks?

And so, it was also easier to follow and spontaneously book myself a ticket to come back to Bangalore a few days after.

Once here, felt ably supported to just do what I came here to do — to dive right in and be there for VCs family, sans distractions, because amma provided all meals — everything from hot rasam and rice, aloo buns to snack on, idli-vadas from our favourite breakfast spot — even though she is down with the flu herself. It meant I didn’t have to think about stocking up, cooking or managing anything at home, especially given that VC was recovering from the flu at home.

I managed to also squeeze in meeting with S for breakfast. It was meant to be quick and breezy, but it became a relaxed, drawn-out catch up because a turn of events allowed it.

I’m realising the importance to lean on my own resources and to take care of myself, so I can be there for others. The idea of giving from a full cup and all that. To recognise and acknowledge my support system, even if to myself. All the things — people, my routine and habits, comfort foods — that help me stay afloat, whether the going gets tough or not. I’m realising that I am less shy to ask for support when I need it, and a bit unabashed in stepping forward to take it when it is offered.

Recent developments with a friend, have really made me aware that sometimes the silence of waiting (for support, for help, for attention, for love) can be so detrimental. To the self, to a relationship, and to the other at the receiving end of it. I used to embrace silence — sometimes because I felt ashamed asking for help, or I felt indebted to step up and take help when it was offered, or I was hurt and offended that it hadn’t come anyway without my asking, or I just plain wanted the other to figure it out themselves. But all that ambiguity creates absolutely nothing but a lack of clarity about the truth. And quite honestly, sometimes it stemmed from my fear of stepping up and asking for it when I needed it — my fear of showing up as I am. Very often, in fact more often than not, it is my ego that keeps me from showing when I need support or what I feel the desire to connect.

In some ways, slowly being comfortable with myself, including all my imperfections and pleasant and unpleasant aspects, I cluding those that I once thought were “weak” or “shameful” in good times and in bad, has meant being able to take in all the love and support that I have, in a more fuller and wholesome way. And being comfortable with asking for it when I need it.

I really feel the difference that this has made to my life, during this time that was heavy and could have otherwise being very confusing, isolating and lonely. What a relief it is to know I can lean, and lean fully, on those who are there for me without having to be asked, and who don’t assume that I will come around when I need it. And what a pleasant surprise to realise that in the event that I need something extra — breakfast with a friend just for a few hours of normal talk, for example — I can ask for it unabashedly with confidence and without feeling lesser or shameful about it.

One year ago: Under my umbrella

Breaking the silence

Today is better, only marginally so, but entirely because I stepped out of the house and came over to spend the day with D. And that always puts me in a good mood. I don’t mean just the laughs and the good times, but just the space and comfort it affords, even outside of the acts of friendship. I’m seeing this as a blessing, the universe looking out for me today, a day that began with me responding to a long-pending call for honesty, a breaking of silence, with a relationship in my life that I have been struggling to make sense of.

There is an imminent sense of relief, the kind of relief I didn’t know I was missing, that I only fully realise when the burden is suddenly lifted, but there has been an undercurrent of deep grief too, all through today. Strangely, not just grief for yet another friendship irrevocably altered (perhaps ended?) but for myself, and the way in which I have unconsciously allowed myself to be taken for granted, in this and other relationships, for how misunderstood I have been by people I have counted as my closest friends, for how some of these friends I held close to thought it was better to read my blog and make wild assumptions about me and what I needed than straight up ask me if there was a way they could be available for me, for how imbalanced the nature of giving and receiving has been between us, for how used I have felt and still sometimes feel when I think about specific instances, for how angry it all makes me, for how my vulnerability was so often met by a complete unavailability.

There is grief, and a sense of feeling sorry for the person that I was, that I have been so many times in friendships past, who felt the need to connect in a certain way, that so obviously came at a cost to the person I am underneath it all. There is grief, for how simply innocent I was in the way that I so quickly went all in, blindly trusting of words of loyalty accompanied by the sweetest smiles. There is grief for how much I have allowed myself to be hurt. There is grief for how mistaken I was in thinking I was understood by people who clearly did not, and did not even care to try.

So on a day like today, when I am feeling forced to revisit all this hurt in my head, it’s a true boon to have the safe haven of a friendship like this one with D, where I can exercise and put into practice the very things — the silence, the honesty, the empathy — I know friendships past lacked. On a day like today, S has been an absolute rock listening to my unending rambles, re-hashing and revisiting it all with her. Careful to reaffirm what I know to be true, but also gently, kindly flagging off potential for more hurt, where I may be unconsciously slipping into my old ways. Despite her own current crisis, S been there for me in ways that I find hard to put words to, but that make me choke up because it shows me how we’ve grown and how far we’ve come from the fearful, insecure nature in which we once were friends, to being the open, heartfelt, unafraid women we are towards each other today.

The heartening part about today for me, is that I was able to dig deep and find the courage (that frankly, I didn’t know I had) to be as honest as I was; that I resisted the urge to get into a circular you-said-i-said conversation and stuck to just me, what I have done, and what I can do to be better in future; that I resisted the even bigger urge to place some part of the blame where it perhaps belong, and instead accepted blame for my side of things leaving the consequences of the rest to the other; that I truly suspended hope and expectations of any kind of response, appropriate or not; and that I was able to choose integrity, truth and my own vulnerability, over the moral high ground and silence, time and time again today.

This, is especially heartening because I have been disturbed by the palpable silence that I was met with this past week. Silence that is perhaps a place of moral high ground, a coping mechanism to deal with the hurt, for some. But a silence that only screams cowardice to me. It is that very same silence, that I chose to break with my truth today.

One year ago: Follow me down, to the valley below