Day 312: While the world plays for our pleasure

It’s been two days of being completely at home, because the help around here took some time off for Diwali. It meant staying with the puppies full-time, which I was  fine by me because my work has been mildly shot to bits with all the frenetic running around. So I was happy for the excuse to be housebound and glued to my laptop.

The pups make for great company because they mostly, well, just sleep really. Nineteen hours yesterday. I counted. Waking up only to be fed, immediately after which they did a splendid job of pulling that face like they’re starving little homeless runts or something, while I tried to eat my lunch. There has been an incredibly peaceful vibe and I’ve felt an ease and unencumbered sort of energy that has energised me.

It’s been a good taste of the days to come, of the extreme luxury of entire days to do just as I please. I’ve enjoyed leisurely breakfasts, working in my night clothes thru the morning, throwing together quick meals convenient food-for-one to shove down my gullet. Generally, it has been tender and easy — taking one hour at a time without rushing around like I have been for so many weeks now.

I got a surprisingly good amount of work done, and I managed to read in the afternoon, and catch a nap before walking the dogs later in the evening (which is more exercise than I give it credit for). Evenings have been about sitting and chatting with VC, who is suddenly pulling a volte-face about his feelings of my going away. In Bangalore he was all I-think-I’m-going-to-be-too-busy-to-miss you, but that has quickly changed to I’m-really-going-to-miss-you. We’ve been turning in by 9.30 pm, which gives me ample time to read for a good long while before sleep hits.

And that’s pretty much my idea of a perfect day. I have had two such days. And the promise of an undecided number of such days ahead of me thrills me no end.

Gratitude today, for this life of absolute luxury. For the power to choose this while the opportunity presented itself. For D who opened her house up to us, complete with space in a cupboard, access to laundry, and so many many hot fresh meals and the company of the puppies to boot. I cannot imagine getting our flat ready while living out of suitcases or in a hotel. For VC who always has my back and encourages me to slow down.

Title from lyrics of this goooood track that came back to me like a flash from the past:

Two years ago: Day 312: Holiday mornings

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Day 302: The wild unknown

There’s seriously something to be said about how much time, energy and my very being slows down in Goa. The rush of September and October had really caught up with me in the days before leaving Bangalore. I was feeling very rushed. In fact, it is also a part of the reason I am not ready to leave just yet — it feels rushed and like I am not done. Three days in though, and just like always, that rush dies down in Goa some how. Every single time.

Even as I’ve managed to make some calls, run some errands, do a little bit of work, it’s been a relaxed few days. Sleeping in later than usual, waking up rested and having leisurely cups of coffee — these are things I’ve missed in recent weeks in Bangalore. I’ve also managed to resume reading again. Naps have been taken and endless hours spent in the company of the puppers are being enjoyed. I seem to have fallen into a good rhythm again.

The limbo in my mind remains, I have no idea where I’m headed or when and how, but somehow it feels alright. The rush has calmed down and I am at home, even while I am in-between. Again and again, I’ve been telling myself this is such a new and happy place for me to be.

One year ago: More Goa postcards: yellow
Two years ago: Day 302: Soloism

Day 288: All along this love was right in front of me

Today has been such a slow day. This feeling of everything being tentative seems to pervade every where, across spheres of my life. The only thing that’s moving ahead with sprightly energy is my presence and activity around home. Thanks to Niyu being with us, recovering slowly, the workings of my home have fallen into a healthy clockwork pattern which has brought about a sense of grounding for me.

I’m deeply grateful for this. It’s hard to look at difficult times (the last ten days have been hectic and stretched us all in ways unimaginable) and feel gratitude for unseen gifts. But this is the truth, hard as it is to accept, there have been positive aspects to it. We got the gift of focused family time. I was thrust into a role of caregiver that has skyrocketed my respect and gratitude for the role my mother plays in our lives, I see the men in my life (VC and my dad) in a very different light, and there has been the gift of a home that works like a home again.

Two years ago: Day 288: New eyes

Day 285: They’ll be making sure you stay amused

Grateful for friends today. This week has shown me abundance in friendship like never before.

Rekindled connections, restored conversations, grown up versions of the camaraderie we once had.

New friends who I’ve found unexpectedly. New friends who visibly feel a sense of kinship through the experience of the work we shared and make no bones about wanting to stay in touch long after.

Friends who lead by example and champion causes dear to us. Friends who will always be the torchbearers for me to look up to.

Friends who relentless stay in touch and more even when I completely fail to.

Friends who send me food. Always, friends who send me food.

Two years ago: Day 285: Shifting gears

Day 278: It’s just another ordinary miracle

Surrender. Quietude. Knowing my body. These have been the three major recurring themes of my life these last couple of years, and more so over the course of this past year. And today, I realised it is exactly these very things that have come together serendipitously, beautifully over the last three days, the very last module of my course.

Ever so grateful for that serendipity and those connections.

Two years ago: Day 278: September

Day 275: In the nick of time

I thought I might have finally hit a day when I’ll miss posting but, phew I’ve made it just in time.

It’s been a bit of a hectic day. I woke up to a phone call from Niyu that required us to rush to the hospital. And the rest of the day went in figuring out a health hiccup, visits to diagnostic labs and back to the hospital. A process that ought to have been smooth and simple, but apparently their working hours are affected on public holidays. So it ended up being unnecessarily long-winded. Then there was some battling the pressure hospitals put on you to “admit the patient”, without giving you a clear sense of the accuracy of the urgency and criticality of the situation. So there was a few dozen calls made back and forth to doctors, and my parents, and second and third opinions. And before I knew it the day was done.

I was so fortunate to have VC at home, he’s largely working from home this month, my father anyway on his way down from Kerala, my mum who is all the way across the globe who pretty much stayed up all night intermittently messaging to keep tabs on the situation, a dear aunt who immediately made some calls and hooked me up with the right doctors and sent me delicious home cooked food without my asking for it, and my MIL who showed up with cash, food and moral support.

I’m always amazed at a) how we’re constantly pushed into spaces we’re afraid to face. I’m absolutely shit at dealing with medical emergencies. I’m a complete wuss and am quite capable of turning into the patient instead of being there for the real patient. And b) how help just flows every time I most need it. Even with the exhausting back and forth, the day was much smoother than it would have been if we were on our own. Eternal gratitude for the way things always work out.

I’ll have to call it a day with just this today. This isn’t much of a post, but it’ll have to do. Season three of This Is Us is out, and I’m going to veg out for a bit before I go to bed. Tomorrow looks like a long day too, with some doctors visits in the morning and then I begin the next module of my course for three and a half days after. I really should go steel myself and rest my brain a bit.

One year ago: What colour is your sky?

Day 274: Snap back to reality, oh there goes gravity

Reporting from the comforts of my home. With over twelve hours of sleep under my belt, three cups of filter coffee, an entire meal with dal and veggies included cooked by me, two loads of laundry done and the extreme luxury of a bum-spray in the loo. I am truly home now.

It was a whirlwind of a trip, to be honest. Not our usual laid-back, unwind kind of beach holiday. We’ve clocked some crazy kilometres on our feet, seen every sunrise and sunset, and used every mode of public transport available in these cities (ferries included!) over these past 12 days. Such a far, far cry from our usual beach holidays. It wasn’t just the walking that I’ve mentioned so many times before. There was something very different about the energy on this holiday — the keenness to get out and explore, to see things, to push ourselves rather than settle for the usual wind down, find a spot on the beach/on an island and not move till the end of the holiday.

It’s also the holiday we pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones. Took buses instead of flights. Chose hostels instead of hotels. Did things I thought I was done doing — sharing a room and loo with complete strangers. But it all worked out, and I’m a bit chuffed at how it did. This has clearly been a time for discovering unexpected things about ourselves. Yet again.

As a result, it’s also been a bit emotional. I’ve had a world of feelings surface. From overwhelming excitement, incredible wonder at little things I observed about city life and people in Europe, to touch of regret about how little of it we see back home, a realisation that I have quite a bit of harboured shame about being Indian, and a rekindled urge to live overseas. Some more regret about not having chased that dream sooner too. And a heart burst open with the realisation that it’s not too late to do it over now.

However, the overarching emotion has been a lot of love and gratitude. And nothing sealed this more for me, than coming home after a 12 hours (with over 24 hours of no sleep), when I could have been very crabby and cranky, but I returned happy and content. Not all holidays end this way, you know.

There’s always the usual blues I feel even just coming back from Goa. But to have a full heart and to actually look forward to being home again, said a lot about how fulfilling the holiday has been. I feel like I had the best time I could have possibly had. I got a lot from this holiday — expected and unexpected. And it was just so satisfying.

We ended up staying with S in Paris for one night. It wasn’t even remotely part of our plan. And then J flew in from Hamburg to surprise us. And suddenly our time in Paris changed dramatically, unexpectedly becoming a reunion that stoked a warm fire of forgotten memories as we conversed endlessly, laughed and gossiped. There was also so much wandering wherever our feet wanted to take us, picnicking in parks, lounging on street corners, eating wherever and whenever we pleased, some pub hopping and LOTS of wine.

I had a moment when I realised that I’ve known these boys for almost a decade now. There are few people I think of reconnecting with the way I do with these fellows. In the years since they left Goa, and we did too, we’ve all gone wildly different ways. They’re not people I actively stay in touch with. No social media means I have to make the effort, and I haven’t been very good at all with that these past few years. I might send the occasional text, J relentlessly sends me postcards from his travels, but that’s about it. We’re not clued in on the little ins and outs of each other’s lives anymore like we used to be. But it always happily surprises me when time and time again we manage to snatch chances to catch up. It’s nearly not as frequent as we’d like it to be. But we do manage it, and when we do, time rolls back and slips effortlessly right back to the way things used to be. Distances diminish, boundaries collapse, timezones melt down and we’re the same four bodies drinking and eating and listening to good music and having a laugh all over again. In fact, this was the fourth continent that I have caught up with S in. Over our third bottle of wine and an elaborate snack plate at S’s on our last evening there, I actually told them this — there’s not a lot of people I have the liberty and good fortune of doing this with, but with them I know it will always go back to being easy like we know it, and that’s what makes me want to do it again and again.

I ponder over friendship a lot. I have a lot of different kinds of it in my life at the moment — a whole varied assortment of friends — but even so I am a bit raw about recent experiences in this respect. And this realisation — of what we have with J and S — was soothing like balm. That afternoon, I might have healed a long sore wound and filled up a little emptiness in me.

VC is easily my best travel mate for a range of reasons, but mostly because of his keen sense of curiosity and ability to go all out to get what he wants. It means if he sets his mind on something — a spot for his evening shot, or a particular cuisine we feel like eating, or finding the most uncommercial things to do — he will go all out to make it happen. This compliments my low-key, go-with-the-flow attitude completely.

The rest of the trip had VC going a bit batshit with the photography. You can see his pictures from the trip on his Instagram page. All the aimless wandering certainly helped, and if it weren’t for him and his obsessive commitment to getting all the good pictures, I might not have explored these cities the way I did with him. Ever so grateful for that. Ticking off museums and sights wasn’t on our agenda, so we just took every day as it came, deciding in the morning what we felt like doing, which direction we wanted to wander in, with no real fixed agenda.

It was my second time in Brugges too, so things felt a bit familiar up until them. Amsterdam, on the other hand, was a whole other story. A massive cultural onslaught that smacked me in the face. I thoroughly enjoyed, for obvious reasons bahaha, even though it felt like an odd mix of Bombay and Goa at times which disoriented me in the beginning.

Of course, I’ve left a piece of my heart each in Paris, Brugges and Amsterdam. But I am also feeling so content. I’m so full of love for the experiences, gratitude for how everything worked out despite minimal planning, and I am most thankful for how much the holiday has triggered in my mind, pushing me to get out of my head, and the amount of fodder it’s given me to move ahead from here on.

Two years ago: Day 274: For every down, there is an up

Day 266: You’re still young, that’s your fault

Paris. Day 4.

There’s just so much to say, about this city, about how not having a plan when we travel worked out for us, about intersecting with friends in parts of the world and about just how incredibly overwhelming beautiful this has been.

We’ve been so lucky with the weather this week, even with the spots of rain, we had J fly down from Hamburg to surprise us and S who anyway lives here now, which dramatically changed the way these four days have been.

Mostly, I’m grateful for life’s little surprises and how things always work out. I came without a plan, just a vague idea of what I would do, and it didn’t involve a single museum. I had no idea it would turn out that I’d spend my time the way I did, but somehow it has been exactly what I wanted.

My brain has been shutting down from the sheer sensory party that this place is. I can’t seem to string one sentence straight even though they’re all there in my head. Try as I might to invoke them, all I get is a bunch of superlatives that still fall short.

I’ll have to try once again in a few days after I’ve had a chance to process it all.

Paris has my heart. Good and proper.

Day 256: Walking high on the wire

I’m grateful for the dinner VC and I treated ourselves to on the night of our anniversary. It wasn’t a place we’d have ordinarily picked, or the sort of thing we’d even treat ourselves to very often. With some big changes and associated expenses in the offing, I was predictably unsure and a touch guilty right till the very end. But I’m glad VC encouraged the idea. I’m grateful for being in the place we are today, to be able to afford (metaphorically too) the luxury.

I’m grateful for access to do things here that I have missed in Goa. And I’ve been making the most of that. This past weekend, I watched Hamlet The Clown Prince and thoroughly enjoyed it. Before that S and I caught up over coffee and giggles at Third Wave. (I know, they should pay me for my loyalty.)

I’m grateful for the ease of this week, and how I’ve been disciplined about finishing work on time while also getting enough time off. After the hectic energy of last week, things have been much more balanced this week.

I’m grateful for the day spent with A. It fired up my brain in ways not much has, and not too many people do for me of late. I’m glad I worked ahead of time to give myself yesterday off. We had a late breakfast of eggs and toast and coffee at Koshys discussing a potential new project that has my brain whirring slowly with a hum. And then we dashed off to catch the last of the Brass Tacks sale before they shut down. Brass Tacks on massive sale is the only time I’ll ever spend my money on there. And because after all those hours we were still not done, we ducked into Third Wave and nursed a cold brew each while we yakked on and on some more about everything from evolving views marriage to Chandralekha. I’m immensely grateful for some of the women that have come into my life this year, and have touched me in small, but special ways like this.

I’m extremely grateful for public transport. I’ve been using the metro more often than before, as far as possible, pushing thru the annoyance of getting to and back from the stations. But I’m beginning to see how it’s worth that effort. A and I took the metro to Indiranagar and I took the metro all the way back home from there. On the ride home, S texted me stressed out about how she nearly didn’t make her flight home because of the traffic on the way to the airport. I mentally said a prayer that this city gets hooked up by rail fast, because it’s quick, it’s affordable and it’s so very needed if we want to get people off the roads.

And today, on habba day, I’m grateful for family that reaches out even when I haven’t had a good track record of reaching out myself. SP invited me over for Ganpati lunch since my family is away. I happily accepted the invitation and I’m so very glad I did.

I’m grateful for the resources and all the ways in which I’ve been feeling my intuition sharpened. I’m so grateful for the signs. And for being able to see them. For weeks now I’ve been feeling like things have been building up to a time of high activity. I realised today that that phase of happening is upon me. I’m so ready to ride this wave.

One year ago: What coming home feels like: making friends edition
Two years ago: Day 256: Lines and dreams

Day 252: Every inch of sky’s got a star

It’s certainly a great time to be thriving. I feel it in the air and in my body. I know it, because I see the signs all around. In the way that every conversation, every passing thought and every single time that I look for an answer — everything points to one direction.

I know it because there’s a bubbling sense of newness on the horizon as I merrily amble along towards it. I’m not in a rush, the getting there feels as distractingly important and is all-consuming as the where I’m going to be.

I know it because the air, it really feels thick with abundance, the skies is weighing down with opportunity. The path is lush and full of promise. It’s so hard to choose.

But mostly, I know it because I feel full and inexplicably happy. It’s certainly a time to be thriving.

Two years ago: Day 252: Eight

Day 247: Not invited but I’m glad I made it

August was such a whirlwind of a month. Even though it was busy in a good way, so much happened, much fun was had, the last week or so, I’ve been feeling tired and like I’m running to keep up. More than the actual state of being busy than usual itself, I feel overwhelmed by the dread of slipping back to an old pattern where I would bite off much more than I could chew and then struggle to keep pace.

Today, just four days into this month, one day into this week, I woke up with a huge sense of lethargy. At the back of my mind a to-do list was unfolding, on loop.

It took a minute of stepping back, a cup of tea and a chat with VC, some cards he picked for me, some I did for me, some for him. And I had an adequate reminder to focus, but slow down.

I don’t know why having a lot to do automatically makes me think I have to do it all fast. I so easily forget this basic little truth. It’s not the growing to-do list I should fear (because times like this will come often) but reminding myself that slow and steady has always worked better for me. The pattern I fear isn’t in the quantum of things to be done, but in how I approach the quality of the getting it done. It’s the sense of flow and mindful every day living that I want to conserve and protect.

At times like this, I’m grateful for this flexible, freelance life. I often joke about how I don’t just freelance with work, but I freelance at life itself. I enjoy, and take advantage of, the ability to straddle work and play, so, so much. I have indulged this so often, for myself. But today, when our morning tea extended into an hour-long conversation and the luxury of pulling cards and chatting about them, that VC decided to stay home from work, I felt grateful that VC has had this opportunity too. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: it’s the little, seemingly insignificant things like this that have made a huge impact on our lives and the quality of our relationship this past year.

I say seemingly insignificant because when we chose this life, made the decision to go solo and move to Bangalore, the luxury of working from home was not at all a top priority or a deciding criteria. But it has been a happy by-product. And it’s always the by-products that make me realise how even conscious decision-making, unconsciously brings the best life forward.

***

And because I just re-discovered this on carpool karaoke (what a fabulous episode this was!), today, I’m also happily suffering this ear-worm. Also where the title for this post comes from.

Day 241: Keep waking up high

This week, someone outside my immediate family expressed sadness about my impending move away from Bangalore. The only other person to have done that is my mother. And both times it made me feel warm and fuzzy within. It reiterated for me how charged and full of life my time in Bangalore has been. I’ve had intensely connected relationships. I’ve connected deeply with people — known and new. I’ve opened myself up to so many more experiences, and I realise now that maybe deep down I knew I was on a deadline. Our bodies and minds know and I feel that I was able to listen to that inner knowing and dive in to most things that felt like they needed to be done.

Having said that, this has been a year of conscious being, over doing, like I told A yesterday. And I can’t help but feel that this feeling of fullness — of abundance, of life being so much bigger than I ever imagined possible, of feeling like the universe’s favourite child — has been a direct outcome of it.

I’m grateful for the humbling lessons that have brought me here. I’m grateful for all that Bangalore has given to make this journey the perfect one for me — from efficient services, to the course I’m doing, to bringing the right people at the right time — I wouldn’t have felt so kindly and like the experience has been so abundant if not for it. 18 months ago when I contemplated moving here with shaky feet and a restless heart, I hadn’t the faintest clue that I’d get so much (and enjoy so much of it) from my time here. Grateful for the opportunity to take this time out. Grateful for all the support I get so I can keep going, deeper and wider. Grateful for VC. For my parents. For the few friends. All of whom share this journey with me, in small and big ways.

Day 233: I want to thank you for giving me the best days of my life

Gratitude for last week.

For Guru Purnima and for always having the opportunity to be with the music. No matter where I go, how far I wander, the music follows. Or a part of me remains. I’m not sure which. But there is the music.

For the sweet spot of busy-busyness that VC has hit. It’s keeping him on his toes, challenged and excited in a way that has fired him up like I haven’t seen in all these months in Bangalore.

For rainy evenings spent in silence at Koshys. For Bangalore weather. I’m really making the most of this before my time on Bangalore is up.

For the drive to Goa. Any roadtrip is fun with VC. And this was no different.

For Goa. For the weather. For the dogs. For friends. For this other side of life that is so new and filled with joy.

For all the chill. For the conversation. For the tarot insights. For the home-cooked food. For the downtime. For the books. For kinship. For home away from home.

Day 230: What good is it to live with nothing left to give

Two weekends of class/workshopping and two study meets have brought home one message loud and clear.

It sits front and centre of my entire life right now and I am so ready to finally embrace it in its wholeness.

Family is important. Even those parts that I have not seen or lived. Especially those parts that I have not seen or lived.

We are connected in more ways than I know or realise.

I am so much more than the sum total of my body, mind and soul. I carry my family with me in ways I am incapable of fully understanding.

In belonging and connecting with this family, I need not lose any part of myself.

I can be connected, even as I grow and move my separate way.

Starting a ritual to acknowledge this and remember it every single day has been on my mind and today I realised it is something I want to do immediately.

I’m not fully sure how or what I want to do as yet. But I’m going to figure something out pronto.

This is gratitude for my family. For generations before and after. For all that we bring and carry with us. For all that people have held so we can move on and ahead. For life, love and this sense of connection.

Two years ago: Day 230: How many days

Day 226: They paved paradise

We’re off to Goa tomorrow. Again. It’s my second time, and VC’s third time in under a month. I cannot complain.

In the meantime, I’m making the most of sweater weather by swapping my usual chai/coffee, beer/wine preference with a fiery pepper rasam instead. It’s 11:30 am and I’m on my second glass.

Look at those billowing grey clouds will ya? How is anyone supposed to get any work done around here?

Huge mixed emotions and heart-tugging feelings for Bangalore have been simmering in my heart, in case it wasn’t evident in yesterdays post (which was also yesterdays newsletter!) And then I woke up to this heartbreaking (but completely spot on) article that paints a horribly accurate picture of the dystopia this city is fast hurtling towards. I am constantly baffled and amazed and very. very exasperated by how more people don’t see it. Or maybe they do and don’t quite know what to do about it. I don’t notice enough exasperation around me. What I see is a numbness and acceptance, which breaks my heart a little bit more.

I’m thankful for the frequent breaks I’ve managed. I’m thankful for the opportunities to recharge batteries every time the city drains them. I’m glad I have the life that doesn’t depend on a gruelling commute like so many millions of people have to go through. I’m glad we can weigh out our options. I’m so grateful for how we’re happy with less. And I’m eternally grateful for the choices we can and have made, which often seem like we’re stepping back, settling for less and choosing oddly, but in the end they’re the only ones that seem to sit right with who we are.