Run

It’s crazy how in June, when I returned from an unexpected two month break in Goa, clocking a mere 5k on the treadmill everyday felt like a herculean ask. Huffing and puffing to just get to the end of those 35 minutes, I’d keep going everyday, not knowing what I need to do to better my time.

I have never trained at running, like I have in the past with strength and conditioning or kickboxing or weight training. Running has never been my go-to, so I’ve never invested time into building strength and getting technique right. So I’m extremely clueless about how one progresses realistically and how I can get from one level to the next. I’ve been going at it intuitively, but somewhere in August I felt like I needed to begin somewhere. I had this urge, but no idea where to begin. The internet is filled with confusing resources, so I let that idea simmer for a bit and just kept at what I was doing, intuitively. Side by side, I continued my HIIT and weight training. The only little shift I made was to try and better my time just a little bit, once every week. Even if it was a teeny 0.2 or 0.3 km increment. It felt like I had hit a plateau for the longest time, but suddenly one day at the end of August, all those little incremental steps added up to a 6km run, randomly one morning when I wasn’t even looking.

There I was just running like I do everyday, nearing the last 7 minutes of my run, when I felt a push to go harder and faster. And so I listened and pushed on. Amped up the speed and went for it and boom — that 6km just…happened.

I was so elated, especially because I wasn’t spent or tired and felt like I had a burst of energy to finish the rest of my workout too.

Then, a week later on a very good energy day, I decided to push myself a little harder and see how far I could go. The treadmill times-out automatically after 35 minutes and that’s usually my cue to move on to the next thing. But that day, instead of turning it off, I took a minutes breather and turned it back on and began to run again. For nearly 2km more, breezily, easily, without panting, I just kept going. Music on and loud, my heart pounding, my feet on the machine, I felt totally in flow. And I hit that 7km mark…seemingly effortlessly. Again, it just happened. I actually hadn’t even realised when I had moved past the 6km mark, 6.5km and smoothly past the 7km mark.

The human body and mind continues to fascinate me. How easy it actually is to stretch and reach higher and beyond. And how much it is willing to take, resilient and adaptable. How far it can actually go. I am really enjoying this phase of training, where intuition and an internal rhythm is guiding me on. I would love to train systematically, and it’s on my goals for next year, but for now this has been such fun. I love going by my own moods and what I am feeling like on any given day, and to see it’s actually taking me farther every week.

As I’m witnessing my body change this time around, I’m in tune with what it’s asking for (whether up-tempo or down-tempo), I’m watching keenly as it’s stretching and responding to the changes I introduce, I’m feeling something build from within, and I see it take shape in the tiniest ways in which it shows externally. In my posture, in the way I’ve been carrying myself, in the way that I sit, stand or take space, and most of all in the way I am feeling strong, full and grounded.

This week, I haven’t been to the gym at all. I went to my animal flow class on Tuesday, but that’s it. And it feels alright. I know come Monday, I’ll be back.

One year ago: Walking high on the wire
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: making friends edition
Three years ago: Down and up again

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Rest

A day that began like this:

After something like nearly a year, I felt like I was coming down with something. I’ve nursed a very, very slowly worsening itchy throat for two days now. But the progression has been so mild, at no point was I really sure if it was just an allergy or something worse. Yesterday though I began to feel my body alternating between needing a jacket or wanting to stay in a blanket, and desperately needing the fan on top speed and throwing the blanket off.

Is it PMS-induced something, I wondered? Was it that chled beer too many from Monday? Or that totally unnecessary drag off VCs cigarette that I immediately regretted from the depths of my throat (barf!)? Or that shady tall glass of water with more ice cubes than I would have liked? I’m a bit suspicious of contaminated ice and the moment I drank that glass of water I had a tiny red flag go up in my head.

Anyhow that was just the morning. I skipped working out and allowed myself to stay in, getting out only much later. I did however cook us a pot of peppery rasam that really helped, and I took the longest nap I’ve taken in a while, which certainly helped. Because I’ve woken up feeling almost 80% better.

I’ve had the sniffles a few times this past year, but each time I’ve managed to stay off the antibiotics by fighting it off with antihistamines and septilin alone. This time I haven’t even popped an antihistamine yet and I desperately hope I don’t need to take antibiotics so this needs to just peter down and go away soonly.

So if that means I need to just sleep it off, I’m okay with it. If it means my body’s asking for hot tea three times a day, with sugar in it, I did that too. If the will to exercise is missing, I complied.

There is joy in this very new ease in listening and to what my body is asking for, and going with it, rather than fighting it to keep to some sense of routine and “rightness” I have going in my head.

On the upside, a day mostly in bed has meant I finished a whole book I just started. Yay.

One year ago: Not yet lost all our graces

Dawn

At the gym, I ran a 6k listening to the Gully Boy soundtrack after ages, and found myself struck by a single line in a song I have heard a million times before, but never so keenly. A line that stayed with me, reverberating and resonating again and again.

Ujale milne me mujhe haan raat ka hi haath tha.

I woke up literally at the crack of dawn yesterday. Surprisingly, with ease. I didn’t want to miss working out just because I had to be in town, in class by 8.30 am. It meant working backwards and hitting the gym a whole hour before my usual time.

I woke up clear, and ready for the early start. The sun was barely out, casting a cool blue gleam about the horizon, while a level below, in the streets, signs of the barely ended night twinkled on in the form of street-lights. It was such a good way to begin the day. Not groggy, not fighting sleep, not staying undercover till the light grows.

I haven’t been awake this early in a while, and experiencing the break of a new dawn today, felt special and significant.

***

I had a fantastic day of learning. The sort of day that felt like one the giant leap at the end of several small shaky, tentative, baby steps, in the dark. At the end of facilitating a piece of work entirely on my own, albeit with a few expected hitches and blocks, I had a thrill of disbelief surge through me.

How am I here, doing this, already?!

I thought back to the start of the day, and how the beginning of morning was only that dramatic, that pretty because of the contrast of the night sky. And I realised, the thrill of this leap was only as enriching, because of the struggles and the stretch of the learning thus far.

And I wonder, what is a new dawn without the darkness that precedes it? Would I value the light just the same if it weren’t for the walk through the dark?

One year ago: Keep waking up high
Three years ago: A morning moment

Tender mornings

My gym is right next to a school and the time I finish up usually coincides with the start of a bright new day at school. So everyday, as I exit the gym and head back to my car, I encounter scores and scores of girls (it’s a girls convent) rushing along to school. I see a range of faces and feelings — some scampering happily, some shuffling reluctantly, some others dreamy and still half-asleep like they’ve been prepped and pushed out the door without their knowing, some holding on tenderly to the hand (or sometimes just a finger) of a parent chatting with them intently, some with an older sibling also in a uniform — a larger version of the themselves, some looking unsure and untrusting of what lies beyond the gates clearly in need of coaxing and cajoling. It gives me such delight to see old, familiar sights — little human beings carrying bags bigger than themselves, under-shorts peeking out from beneath the pinafore, neat and twisty well-oiled braids with ribbons drawn through them, knee-high socks (sometimes held up by rubber bands), sleepy eyes, bright eyes, tired eyes, jaded eyes. School mornings bring them all.

Most of them pouring out of over-stuffed autos and mini-vans. So many rushing by from neighbouring lanes and alleys or walking to shcool from home. There’s usually too many kids scurrying about for me to drive off in a rush, and so I wait patiently. Watching all kinds of big and little girls filing out vehicles, house gates and arms of their parents to face the start of a new day.

There’s a dreaminess in the way that these children take themselves school. An innocence and smallness in the small limbs, the gentle eyes and the supple bodies that are little human beings. The softness of their spirit shining through effortlessly. The default slow way in which they seem to take their time with every step of the way.

It’s become a good way to begin the day — watching this menagerie, motley crew. I catch myself observing keenly, sometimes smiling to myself. Because it reminds me of myself in school, and the start of new days. I’ve always been a morning person, and even though there have been some mild changes with that in my adulthood, I think deep in my core I am a morning person. I have steadfastly avoided making such definitive sweeping declarations about myself of late, but today, watching the same show that I have all year now since I rejoined the gym, it hit me — I frikking love mornings. It’s my favourite time of day.

Today, the realisation struck a tender part of me. There’s an incredibly soft, open quality to mornings. Something about the beginning of a new day, the brimming over of possibility, the immense privilege that is another day. And it felt especially visible in watching young, bright girls off to school.

I’ve always wondered what it means to wake up and be grateful for another day of life. It always seemed kind of redundant and stating-the-obvious, but today I think I woke up to a subtlety that’s been so far lost on me. It’s why even on days when I struggle to wake up, or I want to just lie in bed all day, or when the weather makes it impossible to see the sun, mornings still signal the vigour of a new day. Another brush with the freshness of life, meeting with another full day, potent with opportunity.

The sun comes up, and off we go, with yet another chance at life itself. And how much I’ve taken that for granted, day after day.

One year ago: Cake by the ocean

Run

This is the sweaty, but thrilled, messy but smug mug of someone who hit a significant running milestone the other day. That it happened out of the blue, unexpectedly, despite running on just four hours of sleep thanks to a moment of temptation that resulted in a caffeine-addled brain that didn’t shut down till 2.30 am, is a thing to celebrate. And yet, just to have taken myself to the gym, to find the energy to surpass my daily target by a whole kilometre, felt so, so, so good.

I hit the 6k mark, in just five minutes over my usual running time. It took running for ten minutes more than usual. It took pushing. It took a little more sweat and pain. But it felt so good.

I don’t know if maybe the remnants of caffeine were responsible for the extra energy and power. Or maybe it was the playlist for the day.

How does one not feel like running when this comes one?

Or this?

Anyhow, lying sleepless in bed the previous night, I was worried how I’d get through two days of class with limited sleep. But I managed just fine. And I think making it to the gym and getting that spot of exercise in had something to do with it.

I have so enjoyed exercising this year. Minus the rigid need to make all the self-made rules. Minus the unrealistic goals. Plus a whole lot of listening to my body, giving it the right amount of stretch it needs, while also resting when it asks for it, an eating what I want when there is a craving. I’m back in the groove of things, and I feel like I’ve found a sweet spot that work for me. The right routine, the right set of workouts, allowing myself that little bit of flexibility and ease, and the right goal — consistency, not numbers.

Even on mornings when it’s slow to start and the going is hard, it takes about fifteen minutes of being at the gym, pounding my feet on the treadmill, letting the music kick in good and proper. I have to stretch myself just that much and from that moment on when the sweat begins to roll, when my legs begin to do the work, I feel like I could fly. What a massive high that is.

I can tell something has changed when there’s an ease and a flow about the way in which I am able to carry it out. And this has happened with other things in life, but this is probably the first time there’s an enjoyable flow about exercise an I am so enjoying the twist in the tale.

Three years ago: Friyay

Just 365 days

I stumbled on posts from just one year ago, and went down a rabbit hole reading my writing from this same time, last year. It’s just a matter of 12 months. And yet, that set of posts felt like the writing of a whole other, wildly different person.

365 days seems like a lot, but in the larger scheme of things, it’s not very much at all. It’s just one revolution around to sun. And I’ve done 35 of them, so nyyeahh. But still, I couldn’t get over how much I sounded like a dramatically different version of myself. Just so telling of what a ride this past year has been.

365 days is not a lot, when I think of it as just a number, but it begins to feel immense and like a faraway time in the past when I think of just how different everything was then. And how it is now.

At this time last year, I made several references to being on the brink of leaving Bangalore yet again. On the work front, I imagined I would go back to writing full time. I was cruising the high of a task accomplished, finished, fully done because that’s what I thought of my work with self-development — mostly done. I had this notion that I’d embrace the #foreveralone life, given how the friendship department was flailing. I had some vague inkling of needing to live a different life, alone, to facilitate finding myself and had kind of resigned myself to be the one to move somewhere to make that happen. How, where, when — I had no idea.

So much, so much, so, so much has changed since then. And for once, I am not quickly following this up with “and yet so much remains the same” suffix, because when I look at me, my surroundings, my life as it is today, it hits me how much everything has changed.

I stayed put, and have grown to love Bangalore. Somehow, we managed to fulfil that wild desire to live alone. I went from swearing I could never do long distance relationships to managing it quite well, and getting a bonus of many, many trips to a second home in Goa. I moved further away from writing full time. I realised I’d only merely scratched the surface of my journey in finding myself. I pulled the lid off on that and dived in, free-fall-style. Many of my friends from then have left my life in some measure or another, the ones that stayed have deepened. And there are so many more people and closer connections today, somehow. All of this was unthinkable last year.

365 days ago, this was not even a distant possibility, it was not even a considered reality.

I hadn’t pictured myself or my life like this.

I sent one of the posts to S, to share my shock at how somewhat unrecognisable I felt of my own self from not so long ago. But truth be told I also felt a little pleased with myself. To see how far I’ve come, and what is possible even in just a single year.

In the words of that older avatar of myself I sense hope and determination, even in the face of abject uncertainty. An unvarnished real rawness. And I immediately felt a deep fondness for how wide open and hungry for change I was. I’ve been talking about softening up, but yesterday I saw an immense softness in my own words. A soft, open readiness for life, for change. It comes across in a childlike innocence of not knowing how much that openness would actually be met with amazing possibility. A cluelessness about how all I had to do was receive and drink it up as best as I could.

I didn’t know any of this then.

It’s only now that I can look back, and see that uncertainty and confusion, difficulty and bumps in the road are those openings that life brings. Moments to change gears, to do something different in order to land a different outcome, to move and grow. Heck most often, the discomfort of all of that is the inflection point for growth itself.

I didn’t know it then. It’s only now that I can look back and feel a sense of relief, and joy, in realising that yes, it’s just 365 days, but it can do a lot to transform a life.

One year ago: Took some time to celebrate
Three years ago: Farewell to the rain

Shine

“I’ve been a serial job-changer,” I said quite unthinkingly, the other day. The derision dripped off the words landing in thick pools, slowly spreading themselves out all over the floor, slowly taking up all the space between us.

I’ve always had a humourous edge to this form of self-deprecation. Who in this room has had as many jobs as the number of years she’s been working? Me, that’s who hahaha. Who amongst us can’t figure out what they want to do? Also me, hahaha. Who here can’t friggin’ hold down a job? ALSO ME. Hahahahaboohoo. But I’ve never realised how much self-loathing and shame I’ve packed away in this little story that plays out in so many different ways, every time a conversation about work/career/success/ambition comes up.

It came up all over again, this past month, rearing it’s head like a dark monster. An old friend, in the form of performance anxiety, a serious contempt for competition, a recurring reminder of my fear of failure and a blatant refusal to see how this has in fact kept me away from pushing beyond the comfortable limits of the known.

But there’s something different about this resurgence, this time around. It’s come with:

  1. a deep desire to actually look at the anxiety and fear of failure and see where its roots might lie. And to see that too and come to some place of agreement.
  2. the consequent (and slow to seep in) understanding of what they mean when they say the psyche really does push old demons out only when I am ready to face them

Because, while one part of me felt crippled by anxiety to perform and come out looking good, making me want to shrink away and leave, there was a not-so-small part of me that kept showing up, a loud voice in my head telling me there’s always a first time to push through the hardest part. That the fear of looking stupid is doing nothing but holding me back from a host of other possible outcomes. Outcomes that I will never know, unless I, well…push through. And it has had me wondering what might happen if maybe if I make it through this time. What if I don’t spectacularly fail? What if, goddamn, I even thrive and shine?

One year ago: What you wake up in the evening and the day is shot

Step up

Yesterday I had what felt like a seminal therapy session. So much was stirred up for me with this experience from a few weeks ago, that over the last 10-15 days I’ve been regurgitating much of it, trying to process, learn and put into practice what has come from it. And yesterday, after several weeks of difficult sessions that pushed me to hard places, I finally felt like things had come to a head.

There was a significant movement. A big leap forward. The awareness of it felt even bigger than the shift itself.

One part of the narrative I’ve been mulling over these past few weeks has been my relationship with perfection, and the many ways in which it hinders me. In many ways, the win has come in a way that seems like I have crushed some part of that relationship to the ground and am ready to rebuild a new one. One that works for me.

And I came out happy and ready to cancel the day and celebrate. I had plans to work on my assignment, but the real desire was to go and get a mid-morning drink.

I also came out of therapy thinking of another line from Lisa Ray’s memoir that has really stayed with me and gotten embedded in my eyes.

I’ll try to make more mistakes — I won’t try to be so perfect.

One year ago: Heavy mottled love

This way or that

Hanging out with A yesterday fired up the old writing muscle in me. I felt a touch of nostalgia for that life. The one that feels like it was so long ago. A life that I seem to be in a rush to turn away from and leave behind completely, to peel away and cast aside like an old skin.

I see parallels now. A distinct similarity in this and the general way that I have approached all movement towards the new. Accross various aspects of life. It’s much the same, this urge to quickly “reject” the old and move ahead with alacrity, to step into the new. Almost at the cost of the old. To do away with one completely (sometimes with loathing, revulsion — all very charged and intense feelings) almost as if it’s the only way to give myself permission to move ahead.

Today though, there was complete awareness of this urge to run again, and I found myself saying Stay. Hiw can I do this differently this time?

More and more as I notice my deeply held and hard-coded patterns, and as I question them gently and slowly, in time, I see there is a part of me that’s emerging, who is ready to try something new. To cast familiarity to wind and take a leap. Again, it’s a form of moving into something new, but this time, with a decided need to not lose the old completely.

The old that represents all the ways in which I have coped, lived, survived and even thrived. Why must I let it all go?

I feel again and again like I’m being asked to get better, more comfortable with the slow, painstaking, testing process of integrating it all even as I move ahead. To question this habit of constant, complete elimination. To see if I can make choices without this edge of destruction. That has been the default way in which I moved ahead. It’s almost like I push myself to places where I can only make choices if they’re rife with difficulty, forcing myself to severely dislike one, making it so untenable, in order to allow myself to choose the next thing.

I’ve done this with jobs, moving cities and friends alike. I see a pattern now. And I see also a new, nascent fire to test doing it differently.

What would it be like to embrace both sides of the coin, to look at them with grace, and choose one without having to feel so strongly about the other?

This morning, I felt a strong pull to stay for a change, to try and find out.

One year ago: I don’t know about my dreaming anymore
Three years ago: Extreme relax

Warrior

Still feeling quiet. Still feeling some kinds of MIA. It’s been like allowing myself to fall so deep in to an all encompassing abyss, to allow it to take me completely and see what happens when I let go of it all. So until I emerge, I’m leaving you with this (also because it’s a bit telling of the churn inside of me).

One year ago: It’s the house telling you to close your eyes

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

Downtime

I spent all of today luxuriating in one of my biggest plusses of living alone — the ability to lose myself to a book.

I’ve been reading voraciously again. I’m not sure what turned, but I know something definitely has because today was spent completely in bed, save for a workout early this morning, and finally extricating myself from bed to step out only at 5 pm (because I had no choice and had somewhere to be).

I tried watching OITNB again but I can’t seem to put down Lisa Ray’s Close To The Bone that I started last night. It has me totally enthralled. Shockingly well written with unexpected, beautiful turn of phrase, she tells a story that’s deeply emotional, evocative and so real and relatable. I’m equal parts moved and inspired by the story she tells of rediscovering herself.

This hasn’t happened in a long while — this unputdownable energy to a book — certainly not all of this year that I’ve spent staunchly away from books in general for no other reason except that nothing deeply compelling came my way, and what I found just didn’t give me enough to sink my teeth into.

I just finished Michelle Obama’s Becoming before I picked this one up. That too was a complete revelation — a stunning book about the struggles and contradictions minorities face on the rare, hard-won rise to places of influence. It’s such a slap-you-in-the-face honest book that had me completely gripped. I’m a Michelle Obama fan now and will read anything she puts out.

Lisa Ray though, has knocked it out if the park in a startlingly unexpected way. I didn’t think this book would have much to offer but her life is so rich and full of love, a palpable passion and zest to thrive and it is so packed to the brim with varied, wholesome experiences, I guess it had to be an enriching book. But to limit it to that would be to take away from her very obvious and clear writing prowess that makes this book a true keeper.

I can’t get over this sentence early on in the book I read this morning. I’ve been turning it over and over in my head all day, marvelling at how perfect and reassuring, and just so basically true it is.

…a life lived in pieces is grace; you can put it back together the way you want.

Perfection in a sentence, right there.

It was nice to spend a day doing absolutely nothing else and losing myself to words that clearly had a charm and piqued me in this way.

It’s been a while.

One year ago: And you were an island to discover
Three years ago: July

Unknown ground

The capacity to meander through uncertainty with grace, as much as I swiftly move through times of certainty with confidence.

To face imperfection and flaws (in me and in people around me) with as much kindness as I look to some of my better days, with better traits and better capabilities coming to light.

To allow myself leaniency with learning, as much as I find a growing surety in all that I have already learned.

To find ways to traverse the middle path with a quiet power and just as much faith as I sometimes cleave to the left.

All the while, leaving fear slowly behind.

One year ago: Red sky, red light awakening
Three years ago: Moving on

Move

I took the metro to get to town yesterday for a reading date I had with D. It was an impulsive decision I made when my cab was taking longer than anticipated to get to me. So I quickly switched over to an auto to get to the closest station and then made a swift 17 minute, 20 rupee ride to town. A ride that was otherwise going to cost me approximately 100 rupees and about 40 minutes at the very minimum.

It made me so happy to be in a coach full of women, women about town, women getting to or back form work, women with things to do and places to be. And I found myself smiling, thinking I need to do this more often. There’s joy in having this ease and liberation in getting to places unencumbered.

Eventually, the economical efficiency isn’t super promising (for short to medium distances, at least). If I were to get to specifics, the auto ride to the metro station for example, cost more than the entire metro ride. It helped that my destination was across the road from the metro station I got dropped off at, else there’d be another auto ride to account for. However the efficiency in terms of time are really hard to beat. 17 minutes versus 40 minutes — there’s really no doubt which one I should choose more often. Plus there’s the added win from contributing to one less car/cab on the roads. En route to my destination, it was a good time of day and since I was going against rush hour I was able to get to the ladies coach, which was not crowded at all, and even got myself a seat.

On the way back, I tried briefly to get myself a cab or a rick and both had insane waiting times. So I braved the snaking queues entering the metro station and came home just the same way that I went out. This time around the coaches were chock full and I had to hold my breath to fight the mass of melded end-of-day body odour and the fart one unthinking person had let rip.

There’s no denying the tightening up of my stomach and the need to hold my bag close and keep my eyes open and vigilant for the random grope or pinch I cannot predict. Being in such a crowded coach did give me mild anxiety but I looked around at the many women around me, casual comfortable, and breathed easy. Once I switched lines and was on the last leg back home, the coach was so full I actually didn’t even have to walk out, I was simply carried out by the throng that poured out of it. And yet, I was enthused and amazed at how many people do this every single day. No sense of distress, just a surrendering to life as it is happening. It was all kinds of inspiring.

It was such a departure from my life of luxury and the undeniable disconnection it causes from the grit and grim realities of what life asks of so many millions in this city. I seem to only see the difficulties I face, and invariably, on close inspection the pale in comparison to what so many in this city endure day in and out. This past week I’ve taken more than one metro ride and each time it has brought home the need for me to connect and be grounded more.

This was my fourth metro ride in under a week and I have to say the appeal is growing on me. I’m considering making myself a pass as a means to encourage doing this more often. I’ve done it before and every time that I do, I feel the benefits and promise myself to be a frequent metro user when I can. But the issues with last mile transit always makes me choose a shared cab instead. However, it may just be time to push thru some of that resistance.

In Goa this time, I really felt the lack of public transport palpably. It was really beginning to annoy me, that I had to drive 40 kms all by myself to drop and pick VC up from work. As much as I love driving in Goa, and driving in the rain specifically, the sheer inefficiency of doing this from a fuel, carbon-footprint an ecological point of view, and doing it every day for a month, just didn’t sit well with me. Every time that I had to take my car out all by myself for the smallest errands it was beginning to get to me. The brazen lack of any other options at all are something I just can’t get by anymore.

Whenever I travel outside the country, public transport has always been a reason to love a city. Access and ease in this sphere gives me a serious high. I have fallen in love with the most crowded cities just simply because they have a smartly planned public transport system that gives me this sense of movement and ease — a sense that the city is on the peoples’ side. I’ve waited many years for Bangalore to come up to speed. We’re still way behind where we should be, with so much still remaining to be done and so much of what’s done also falling severely short on so many fronts. But I have begun to feel a sense of responsibility for the very things I complain about here — the traffic, the pollution, the chaos and congestion. And so I’ve been feeling like I need to do my bit, just with what’s available and where I am — to just begin, by choosing better means of transport whenever possible.

Did I mention I’m finally beginning to feel at home here?

One year ago: I eat the city as I leave the scene

New

On Saturday, I found myself in the middle of a Pandora’s Box of feels, that I had opened. It was triggered by a small act of showing myself in class, in the very way that I was afraid of doing on the two days before. I didn’t really plan it or think it through at all. I just felt deeply compelled to speak my truth in whatever way that it had to be seen — a little unpretty, maybe even ugly and difficult to digest. It set off a feels fest that derailed the entire agenda of the mornings lesson plan, but it happened and in the bargain gave me a live experience of what happens when I stay with my authenticity.

At the time it just felt like I was going with my intuition and doing what I just needed to do. I had reached a place where I could do nothing else but speak up and take my side. But today, with enough time (and sleep) having gone by, I see it as a moment of tapping into my inner strength. Because I defied all my own rules in that moment.

I didn’t stay quiet to stay safe.

I didn’t worry about how I looked or what the ten others in the room might have thought of me.

I stood up to a bully in as gentle and kind a way as possible, yet made my opinions and feelings known.

I simply showed up. As I was, with everything that I was feeling. No excuses.

Today, I realise that took a lot of strength and conviction. Of a degree I have not known I even had within.

I’m completely overwhelmed by the experience and it will be a few days before I have fully processed what happened and what it means for me. But it was a delightfully new place to be in. To stand up for myself. To take my side in this way and to believe in myself so completely.

It was an important step forward. A move from being the shy, passive one who is usually quiet and happy to step back to make space for someone else who needs is louder, bigger, more assertive or just more in need of space. It was an important movement in claiming my space and not giving up on myself.

In the process I’ve probably released a lot of what I typically hold within, locked into my body, long after the module, giving me disorientation and fatigue that takes a few days to pass. This time I have woken up the very next day feeling fresh and new.

Perhaps it’s a new me? I’ve been seeing it in the way my body is changing. My face has found room for bigger nosepins and brighter lipstick. In the way my torso and shoulders feel stretched and ask for more everyday. In the way my heart has opened, my eyes have softened and my mind feels supple.

Today I feel it in the presence of a voice that’s found a place.

I’ve met myself again. In a new way.

I certainly feel it within. Something life changing happened that day, in that moment.

Two years ago: Bangalore: A graphic novel
Three years ago: Interwebzy things