Day 318: I have tried in my way to be free

Things that haven’t changed (and probably never will):

  1. Last minute panic. Despite weeks of planning, spreadsheets and lists, and being in Goa for three weeks now, the bulk of all the work to be done with setting VC up in our new home happened in the last three days. And since this was largely due to reasons out of our control, there was no option to even be frustrated about it. With nobody to point fingers at and nobody’s door to place the blame on, we’ve had no choice but to go with the flow. Right up to the very last minute. Which means I have to leave home at 8.30 tonight to make my flight back home, but at 4.30 I’m in the house (which now, in addition to the other work going on here, has a hole where the main door lock used to be) waiting for work to get done.
  2. New beginnings in a new home with the same old tradition of getting locked out. So, for three weeks now as I’ve been slowly getting things in order, we’ve waltzed in and out of this flat with ease. Today we finished some major bits and D and I lit a little lamp and laid out a few cards to honour and invoke new beginnings and good luck, and just we wrapped up and locked the door, it has refused to open again. It took my (very new) neighbour to valiantly climb out of his balcony adjacent to mine, teeter on the edge and climb into my home and enter through a thankfully unlocked balcony door, before he could open it from the inside and let me in. My parents have had this utterly strange phenomenon where almost every home they’ve moved into, they’ve been locked out of at an auspicious moment. I guess I’ve continued that tradition perfectly and I’d like to think of it as good luck. Phew.
  3. It’s still horrifically difficult finding a handyman or handy-people to do odd jobs here in Goa. It’s largely why everything has come down to the wire in the last three days. Goa is Goa is Goa, I suppose.
  4. While it has been largely easy to swallow the hiccups and resign myself to the slowness of this situation, I think the stress of these last few months has finally started to show on me. And as usual, the first thing to be shot to shit as a result of internalised stress, is my skin. Its so apparent this time around, with my face looking and feeling really, really crappy. Oh well, back to square one and getting things back in order once I’m back.
  5. We’re far from done, and the house is still so bare but as usual, just the sight of curtains and dappled light makes everything feel homely. Immediately.

Things that have changed:

  1. VC has surprised me by being the worked up, easily hassled and frustrated one of the two of us this time around. Every time that we’ve been in a situation like this in the past, with life up in the air and very little control on what’s going on, I am usually the first one to cave. This time around we’ve reversed roles and I’m pleasantly surprised.
  2. I’m excited to be nesting again. But this is the first time we’re doing in a home of our own. The energy has been so different this time around. I’ve always thought I’m the sort who likes to daydream about homely spaces, and be in love with the idea of a lovely home, more than I actually have the will to act on it. Every time that I have felt a burst of inspiration to do anything around the home, it fades immediately after bare minimum is achieved. Perhaps this is because none of those spaces ever felt fully like my own. I’m noticing how much free-er we are able to be with decisions and spending money on the things we want to believe we deserve now that this home is for keeps. I’ve watched amazed as we’ve taken swift decisions and extended ourselves in uncharacteristic ways, with all things to do with the home, these past few weeks. There’s been a lovely sense of permanence about this that is so new and enjoyable. I’m almost envious that VC is the one who gets to enjoy this new space all on his own before I ever will!
  3. Maybe it’s for the same reason that I’ve also felt far more connected with this home. And it’s the newness of it all that spurred me to do this. I’ve never been one for rituals. Especially if the house warming sort. But something has shifted in recent time, making me create rituals of my own. Little acts of faith, grounding and sincerity that probably have no place in religion, but mean something far more to me than my supposed religion ever will. And so I lit a lamp, and gathered these cards in the name of prosperity and celebrating new beginnings and sent out a wish to the universe to bless us as we do this. This song and dance of nesting that we’ve done so many times before. And yet this time it seems so very different.
  4. After largely being emotionally in tune for the most part of the last many many months, I’ve been front a bit frayed these past few weeks. A sense of loose ends, everything up in the air, an unsettling front of everything around me building up to something but having absolunk idea what, and the stresses and strains of thisove have left me quite beside myself. I have felt disconnected and it’s shown on more than one occasion. All of which was revealed in this card reading for today. I long for some time to root myself again and the coming weekend promises just that.
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Day 306: Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend?

Recently someone remembered me as that person with a strong aversion to people I have changed my mind about. It had obviously irked said person enough to remember me as someone who inexplicably rejects and moves on from people without so much as a thought.

I was taken aback when I heard this. The thing is, the description is not entirely inaccurate, but it isn’t completely true either. And even though better sense has prevailed, I haven’t been able to shake off the judgement. Perhaps it bothered me, and continues to bother me to some extent, because I realise fully why it might seem that way to onlookers who take the convenient position of watching my life from a distance and who get this sort of second-hand information passed on by other onlookers.

From the outside, if does really seem like I run through friendship like seasonal wardrobe changes, I’m sure. I have built and broken far too many friendships in the three decades I’ve lived, with most of the action in this department being concentrated in the last decade. And here’s the thing, I’m finally in a place where I am at peace with that. After years of longing for forever friendship, I’m more in acceptance of the idea that for some of us, that is not a realistic goal. And the more I accept the very transient nature of relationships in my life, the routine coming and going of people, the gradual building of some friendships and the natural fading away of others, the more it seems to make sense, and the less angst it causes me.

So in that sense, it is a bit like wardrobe changes with seasonal spring cleaning and doing away with that which no longer fits or interests me, while keeping some ever-green favourites that will never go out of style, and having that stash of items in the periphery towards which I have temporary difficult feelings, but that I hang on to for nostalgia’s sake or in eternal hope that we will fit again. Someday.

This no longer feels like a bad way to live. It works for me. However, there’s no denying that the uneasiness of this judgement bites me. And nothing makes it bite harder than a visit to Goa, because the judgement was based on the state of my relationships in the time before I left Goa.

I moved cities, yes, but much before that happened I had moved on from many people in my life here. But today, over a delightful few hours spent with C — fellow freelance writer and dear friend from Panjim — I realised that every time the uneasiness about being judged for this surfaces, I give away a little bit of my power. I dim a little bit of the light that is my lived experience and my agency — both which shined bright in guiding me through these choices.

Every time that I am affected by how easily I have been branded, I am weighed down by that opinion that is quite honestly only a half-truth. But most of all, hanging out with C and having the delightful time that we did made me realise that every time that I feel bad about this judgement and I wallow about being misunderstood for walking away from some relationships, I undermine all those relationships that I have allowed to remain. I lose track of those that I actively chose to nurture and grow. I fade out the light and love of those that I continue to keep thriving in my life, even 700 kilometres away.

Meeting C who I have such a soft spot for, had me overjoyed and so content. And I realised its a friendship that has had none of the typical markers. We barely hung out, we’ve met a handful of times in real life, but we’ve connected over so much more. And every time that we meet, we seem to have so much to talk about. It’s one of the few connections that has endure even after I moved on, and she is one of the handful of people I feel like connecting when I come back. We’re frequently sharing things of mutual interest over email, catching each other up briefly on where life and work is, sharing writing contacts and passing assignments on to each other. And I always feel a genuine warmth without the song and dance of it.

Most times I tell myself I don’t care what people think, but today, I acknowledged that the reason being judged in this instance bothered me is because it hurt to be judged and misunderstood. I have not done a very good job of dealing with that hurt. And so every time it surfaces, it takes me right back to that half-truth, misinformed judgement. It takes me back and it makes me focus on the lack. The lack of empathy, the lack of understanding, the lack of people in my life at that time, and the lack of my ability to deal with it then. But that was then, and I have come a long way since. But in choosing to focus on the then, I discount the abundance of all these little connections that I have now. Many of which have flourished in the time after I moved away. I discount all the relationships that stirred over a few commonalities that only bloomed as time passed, and I discovered friendship beyond the limited definition I had back then. I think of people like C, and a couple other “work friends” who I am in touch with virtually, and how despite how little we hung out when I lived here, are always quick to jump at any opportunity I present for us to catch up. I am overwhelmed at how my relationship with D and K has turned into so much more than mere friendship. I think about B and R who keep checking in on me to see if I’ve had enough of Bangalore and if I’m returning any time soon. There’s R and S and J who are some of my fondest friends from Goa, and how our relationship has gone so far beyond the time we spent together here. And there is A who I know I can always turn to and lean on, in times of need. I think of P in Finland (Hi, P!) and how we catch up over infrequent but frantic bouts of messages about things we feel deeply about. And all I feel is a sense of abundance.

So, I came away wondering why it takes so little to shrink that sense of settledness and abundance I know I carry within me. What is it about hurt that makes everything that’s otherwise solid, so fragile? And what do I need to do to make it go away?

Two years ago: Day 306: Diwali 2016

Day 304: These days are better than that

It’s been a hot day today. After running a few errands out all morning, I spent the rest of the day trying to work. And I have only just finished a short while ago. Even though this window has been open the whole time, I haven’t managed to post it as yet.

On the up-side, the Goa home is slowly taking shape, even if more in our heads than in reality right now. But that too will change soon and I’m actually mildly envious that VC will get to enjoy the newness all on his own! Maybe we’ll manage to do a residence-swap sometime in the future.

I am sleepy and quite sapped from the heat today. Even a cold shower in the evening didn’t shake it off. So I am calling it a day. Tomorrow is a new month and I hope the writing mojo will return.

One year ago: More Goa postcards: walking through Mapusa market

Day 303: Quiet movements where I can find

I’ve been marveling at how the opportunity to puppy-sit has beautifully coincided with VC and I needing a roof over our heads during this time in Goa. I know by now that these are not mere coincidences alone. This is chance that works in beautifully orchestrated ways. Chance that works for and with me, rather than at odds with me or taking me by surprise. This is chance that feels like it was meant to be this way all along.

To feel at home in two cities, is one thing. But to also find a place like home that fits and welcomes me every single time is beyond heartening.

D and UTs home has always felt open and welcoming so while I was happy to volunteer my time puppy-sitting their babies, I make no bones about the fact that I felt confident and comfortable enough to do it because this feels like home.

It’s wonderful to be in this space where things work so symbiotically, where I can lean on and depend on friends as much as I can be there for them. There is as much give as there is take, and there is a quiet understanding of this that needs not much explaining.

Day 277: It doesn’t matter, put the phone away

Reigning my mind back to class today, when actually it is at home with Niyu, where my dad is suddenly in charge and holding fort. Forever amazed and humbled by the ways in which the universe conspires to push the only real outcome from any circumstance.

Every morning the last three days I’ve contemplated skipping this module, and something within me pushed me to say no, I mustn’t. My dad has been silently lurking around, but very much been there and on top of things. And it’s given me the solace to put my phone down and go to class. This is an interesting and appropriate turn of events.

One year ago: Just do the next right thing, one thing at a time. That’ll take you all the way home.
Two years ago: Day 277: 109 kms done

Day 276: Warm days filled with sunshine

It’s been a long day once again. And I’m just about making it in the nick of time once again. Today, in addition to being physically exhausted, I am also pretty tired in my head. Class was heavy and drew me in completely. I’ve come away pondering about the idea of surrender and what it has come to mean. Not just in the most obvious ways that I have seen it pan out in my life, but a few layers deeper.

Surrendering to ideas? Or the lack of them? Or the possibility of a new kind of idea?

As much as I have experienced surrendering to situations and circumstance, and as much as I’ve been pushed to do this every so often this year, I realised today that I have also experienced a kind of surrender with reworking my beliefs and values. My idea of feminism, for example, has been pummelled to the ground — things I held as absolutes have turned to absolute dust — and emerged anew. I’ve been forced to surrender to ideas I was so deadly sure I never would. To give up my stronghold on absolutes I wanted so bad to be eternal. I’ve had to rethink non-negotiable, inalienable truths. And find meaning and solace in ideas I once thought were beneath me.

It was only from the chaos and destruction of the old, and surrendering to that in between of non-existent ideas and of nothingness, has a new normal started to emerge.

***

This is one of my favourite Rumi quotes, and I hadn’t seen the full version in forever. Until today.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and righting,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

— Rumi

Again and again, I am astounded by how the same message keeps coming to me in various different forms and ways, again and again. And again.

Today, I’m going to bed with the idea of surrender swimming in my head. I’m going to sit with it, just let it be. Marinade in it, soak it up. And see what emerges.

One year ago: Booooook post

Day 268: Warm shadow, won’t you cast yourself on me

Bruges. Day 2.

This is what I like to call tiny interventions of divinity. How else do you explain how the weather goes from being pissy, continuously raining with dull grey, flat skies. To this. Overnight.

This is what we woke up to. And immediately grabbed the opportunity to get out and explore.

We pretty much lost track of time and only the belfry that chimes unmistakably on the hour, in what is almost an entire recognisable tune, brought us back to reality.

Bruges in the sun is stunning. Sparkly, stark, simply gorgeous. The skies have cleared up entirely and the blue is starting to hurt my eyes. The clouds are unreal and racing by fast. It’s still windy and there’s a chill in the air.

I’ve had to bring out the big guns given my low tolerance for the cold. A beanie, muffler and woolen gloves. Over a full sleeved tee, sweater and jacket. Toasty as fuck.

Right after this glorious morning we tucked in a Panini and hot chocolate each. But since no hot chocolate here is matching up to what we had in Paris, VC is known a mission to find the best one around.

The rest of the week promises to be sunny. Life goes on. With tiny little divine interventions.

Day 263: We can hit the road and we can go

Paris. Day 1.

Back in Paris after 15 years and the last thing I expected to feel as we stood in the airport queue to enter the country, was anxious. As much as I love being in big cities that take me completely out of my comfort zone, I realised that in the last decade I’ve only travelled east, which feels neighbourly and therefore has a sense of familiarity.

Being in the West, amongst so many white people on the other hand feels overwhelmingly new. I was surprised at how anxious I felt facing the newness, walking the streets and trying to find our way around. It made me think back to 19 year old me, who was obviously much more open to negotiating a new experience. I felt an overwhelming sense of kindness and respect for the person I once was who thought nothing to pick up and go to a new country all by herself. There’s a sense of heart-wide-openness that I remember from then, which made it possible to wander the city with nothing more than a backpack and a map. It was long before smartphones, and I feel that lack of feeling tentative and to go all in made it a special trip.

Wandering around this city yesterday, I had a deep longing for that kind of uncertain wandering. Of eagerness with no plans. And I felt a renewed sense of what I want to work towards next. Here’s to growing up and staying young and to bringing back that unfiltered curiosity and softness in my heart.

Two years ago: Day 263: All you need is less — projects

Day 260: I don’t know if it’s even in your mind at all

A little over a 100 posts to go to close this year. I’m actually a bit flummoxed at how I’ve managed to do it without missing a single day. But the honest truth is, I’ve enjoyed keeping this habit and the benefits of it too much. So much that I’ve been wondering if this is something I want to keep going. Even if I am unable to post everyday, maybe a 2-times a week rule? Or 3, if I were to include a gratitude post every week.

The ups of this have been immense, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit how much more addictive it has been this year, than in 2016 when I did it last. I can’t tell for sure if it’s the better state of mind that’s made writing daily a more appealing habits, or if the daily writing has contributed to feeling better over all. Maybe it’s different things at different times. Either way, this has worked very well for me.

***

The other thing I’ve been thinking of lately is how I’ve found a whole different dimension and depth of friendship in recent time. I was pondering about who I find myself most drawn to, and who I find myself very easily going out of my way to reach out to. And I realise that this year, it has been more about the grounding, nurturing and uplifting friendships far, far more than those that are good for just the laughs. I love those too, those are great and they continue to endure, but there has been a definite shift in some of my other relationships which feels like sinking deeper and like we’ve unlocked a new level I didn’t know possible.

It’s interesting also to note that all these friendships are with women, almost every one of them older than me. And suddenly my life is full of them. There’s S, and D, and K, and A, and N and then a few at the fringes who I may not get to meet as often as we intend to (what with traffic and failed plans coinciding so much!), but there are smatterings of conversations that assure me that there are connections with meaning.  This is not something I saw coming, and yet here I am, thoroughly loving it. Enjoying the way in which I can lose track of time and myself deeply engaged in conversation, finding how even the most simple hang-out over unfussy breakfast gives ample room for the kind of interaction that is life-affirming and soul satisfying.

Last week brought this fact back to my mind, yet again. And like S said to me after a gorgeous afternoon we spent together, this is the kind of friendship that feels affirming, like watering and nurturing a plant. That makes me feel physically warm, held and like I have grown in the minutes of that interaction.

***

On the weekend I was a bit overwhelmed. Despite my best intentions and plans, I still had a lot of odds and ends of work left to close before we go off on vacation tomorrow. I realised though, that panic is more debilitating than the real workload. The stress distracts me more than it fuels me to finish up. So instead of convincing myself that I actually didn’t have too much left to do, and that I could push it to the last minute, I actually have steadily worked through the weekend. While also juggling hotel bookings, train bookings and the like.

I’m not done yet. I have a few small things to wrap up today after which I hope to get a sense of what I want to pack. I am determined to not leave it all up to the nth hour as I usually do. But I suppose some things do not change.

Thankfully there is the rain to keep me indoors. I’ve been enjoying the weather so much this past weekend. After an blindingly bright and oppressively hot few days last week, it’s been wonderful to have the rain come back. It stirs a kind of homely nostalgia in me that is reserved only for Bangalore rains that makes leaving so hard.

One year ago: Grow
Two years ago: Day 260: Empty

Day 250: Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof

I’ve had such a delightful week. Despite the heavy stress of procrastination-led deadline-fuckery. Despite having dragged out some quick work, all week long. Despite feeling overwhelmed from it all. Despite starting the week with the emptiness that comes from amma being in the US, anna being back in Wayanad and Niyu being all the way in her new home.

It was weird. And even though I started the week disoriented and a bit out of rhythm, it was still a simple, delightful week by the end of it. Because of the small things. Like a fully-stocked fridge that gave me options! That hasn’t happened in a while. And because I didn’t wake up and have anywhere to run off to, and had to actually fend for myself, I ended up cooking all meals at home, lunch and dinner. It was oddly settling, and I realised maybe it is time to find my own rhythm about my own home again. Maybe that’s what has been unsettling on the domestic front.

This week, VC worked from home almost entirely, save for one day. This is so new for him, and it warms my heart to see him less restless, less fidgety when not at work, more relaxed and allowing himself the time to decompress for no reason at all, smack in the middle of a work week. I believe this luxury of being self-employed is something he hasn’t allowed himself to exploit, and by extension I have missed taking these liberties with him too. So it was utterly lovely to spend the entire week together. We’ve been waking up later than usual, having a slow and easy pace to the day. Once ready for the day, we’ve been dragging out dining table to the centre of the living room where we sit and work together, separately chugging away at our respective assignments. As we inch towards a time when we’re going to live apart very, very soon, I find myself really enjoying and making the most of the quietness of being together.

I often chide VC about not having done this sooner, and not nearly enough. But better late than never, I guess. It was so nice to have him around and be homebodies together. This is the kind of cohabiting I have missed. This week was all it

There was also the day spent entirely in bed, binge-watching youtube, which was perfect and couldn’t have come at a more necessary time. I’m glad I just stopped reasoning and took that break.

I took myself to Third Wave more times than I am willing to admit. It’s a nice sufficiently quiet coffee shop with outstanding coffee, charming service and I love that they don’t care if I hang around reading or working for hours on end. I’m really making the most of this luxury of having places so close to home where I can go away without a reason, spend a few hours with myself and return.

The self-reflective assignments I had due for class? I also finished them. And you know what? When I eventually got down to writing them 12 hours before the end of submission day, I got so engrossed, so drawn in. I had such a blast chipping away at them, I had a moment where I seriously kicked myself for pushing it to the very end.

I’m ending the week content. And I find myself going back to the little things that have made it so. Simple food. Quiet togetherness. Self-reflection. Deadlines met. Work done.

This was a good week. This was a goooood week.

Two years ago: Day 250: Finding my people

Day 249: I wanna see you be brave

I have had such a fantastic week. And today was such a stupendous day. I had a post all written out about it. But I have shelved it for tomorrow. Because today, I want to give this day to the people it belong to, and celebrate it wholeheartedly.

Pic courtesy: Sandhya

This was the highpoint of today. I spent a good hour madly refreshing the news on the minute. I shocked myself with how emotional I felt, when the news the verdict eventually came in. For the first time in nearly 5 years I felt a sense of belonging with this country, spurred entirely by a mild feeling of hope that truth will prevail and the fascists will not have it all their way.

What a powerful statement. What a resounding, thumping win for reason and humanity, and above all else, love. What an absolute slap in the face of the current government this has been. I feel incredible to be alive to witness this.

As I read the statements that rolled in, I choked and teared up a little, imagining what a struggle and an uphill and constant battle this has been. And over something so utterly basic? I’ve been thinking about what Arun Shourie said in the video I linked up yesterday, about how we have been slowly accustomed to a new normal. Like frogs tricked into a slow death, in a slowly boiling pot of water, we’ve lost the will to react and jump out and back to our senses. I realised today that the bar is set so damn low, that a victory for something as basic as the right to love, has come as such a massive victory. This should have been basic. It should have been a non negotiable.

But here we are. Love is love.

What a day.

One year ago: Brain noodles
Two years ago: Day 249: Ferry days

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 235: Took some time to celebrate

Postcard from my last day in Goa.

Fin.

Two years ago: Day 235: What my Sunday morning was like

Day 228: Stay and stay a while

For more than one reason, I have found myself contemplating the differences between where/who I was in 2016, and now. I thought life had come full circle when I moved back to Bangalore, but little did I know that it would go right around once again and give me another attempt to do-over something yet again, so soon.

As I contemplate the next chapter in my extremely ordinary life, another relocation and a possible uprooting and an inevitable resettling, I’m a bit taken aback to by how I have moved from the tentative, confused and overwhelmed-by-most-things person I was in 2016 to, how open-to-throwing-myself-at-most-things, very-willing-to-try-anything-once I’ve become now.

in the face of these new developments and new excitements, it is such a thrill to not be gripped by stress at the possibility of all the newness, and instead feel so ready to delve into it and take from its abundance, fully and completely.

Everything changes. Even we do. Provided we allow ourselves to learn, heal and look ahead.

And because I’m so taken by all the fresh newness, here’s a picture I snapped on yesterdays drive, at the exact same spot I snapped it in October, 2017. Wildly green, and so filled with promise.

It’s same-same, but different.

Just like me. Just like all of us.

Two years ago: Day 228: Sunday

Day 227: New way, new life

Postcards from our drive to Goa. 11/12 hours of which were rained out.

And everywhere we looked, signs of life creeping out from everywhere possible, were to be seen.

12 hours of driving thru battering rain, and I’m home.