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 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 246: August

Being still and silent and broken is its own kind of religion.

If I had just one word to pick to describe what August has been like, it would be reflective. Perhaps because I kicked the month off with the third module of the course, and it was by far the best it set things in motion down this very contemplative, perspective-altering, pondering sort of path and through all the shenanigans that went down, that mood has remained. This particular module was a needle-pushing one for me, I had a massive breakthrough that is, I realise now, changing how I feel about every major aspect of my life and slowly pushing me ahead in a very different way.

Have you ever had an emotional breakthrough that feels like after months of trying to tear down and and push through a door that refuses to open, it suddenly gives and comes clamouring down? Where suddenly the only thing blocking you (usually yourself) comes apart, letting you through? It’s exhilarating, because you’re eagerly waiting to be shown the next step, a foot in the door. And finally you’re there, but to your surprise, what’s ahead often isn’t a clear road to freedom, but…a free fall. Into nothingness.

And you have to just leap.

It’s exciting as fuck. But also terrifying. And brings with it this ginormous knot in my stomach, like OMG HOW is that even possible, how I am to begin all over again, where do I take myself from here?

So I was particularly humbled when I read these words in the letter in this Ask Polly edition last month, echoing much the same feelings, even though our situations, context and journey is entirely different:

…feels like I’m standing at a fork in the road, where one path leads to a pit of snakes and the other to a jagged cliff.

How do I begin? Where do I begin?

And these absolute gems, in the answer:

So this is where I would start: Ground yourself in reality.

Because that is just what my pursuit has been these past few months, years. To find reality. Over and over again. Seeking authenticity, truth and real comfort, within and around myself.

I realise this is really the crux of any journey of self-discovery, of coming into one’s own. And the deeper I go, the more I seem to let go of, and the more comfortable I find I am with myself. Exactly the way I am.

Once you ground yourself in reality…then you can finally approach the world as you are. You don’t need to be entertaining or sexy or clever or useful to be lovable. You don’t have to prove your value in order to be valuable. You can simply be what you are.

August especially, has been a time of cutting myself down to size. More shedding, more culling of the unnecessary, more pruning of an incorrect sense of self. But most unexpectedly, accepting uncomfortable and far from desirable facets of myself that exist, that I was oblivious to. Even after all these months of work, it was gutting to realise that there are parts of me that make me a difficult person to be with, to connect with, to understand.

So begins a new chapter. Fresh work commences. And it all begins with that leap of faith, that free fall into what seems like nothingness.

And here’s where the work done so far holds me in good stead. I can stay, I don’t need to run. I can be myself, imperfections and all, without having to hide.

Being still and silent and broken is its own kind of religion.

Because, it matters. It’s where a new me can bloom.

Being what you are looks like this: You enter every room as a calm, neutral observer. You are average. You don’t have an agenda. Your only job is to listen and observe and offer your support. Your only job is to watch and learn and allow room for yourself, even when you don’t say a word, even when you don’t look that good, even when you seem useless. There you are, giving yourself the right to be without running or hiding or dancing. That is grace. It matters.

***

All the healing, and some change
When the burden of the breakthrough hung heavy.
The absolute thrill of taking that leap, left me high on life for many, many days after.
And sometimes when I look back, take stock of what has changed and how much, I see how far I’ve come.
On the privilege of flying back into the nest, enjoying this fleeting time in Bangalore and readying myself to fly out once again.

Probably consequent to all of these shifts, my relationship with my body (that has been another big piece in this journey) saw yet another inflection point. And things have turned in a way that nothing will ever be the same again.
Reclaiming parts I’ve rejected, and finally seeing a glimmer of feeling whole again.
On finding confidence, self-love and how it feels like meeting myself for the first time. Every single day.
I think I may have finally let go of the fitness aficionado tag that formed such a huge part of my identity, and I’m ready to move on to new things.

I’ve had a on-again-off-again pattern going with all things domestic, of late. And several times in the recent past I’ve found it really has me in a rut. As much as a huge part of me wants to break away from the trappings of mindless routine and make time for all the things that I am seeking to explore, there is a sense of grounding that routine and doing homely things with my hands gives me, and I have been trying to find a healthy balance between the two.
I wrote about the how lucky I feel about being in Bangalore because it has given me just the space and time in this respect.
And every time I slip, I have to remind myself not to beat myself up about it, so I can move up and on quicker.

Bangalore love
August is also the month VC and I have decided to move on from Bangalore. And so predictably, I had a lot of feels for Bangalore. Through all the annoyances that I don’t stop myself form acknowledging, the sum total of my time in Bangalore has been nothing short of amazing. I have thoroughly enjoyed it for everything it has offered.
Of rain, and missing Goa.
Of rain, and traffic jams that lead to epiphanies.
Of clear skies that turn to rain.

As always, there is gratitude
Nine months in to keeping this habit, I know without a shadow of doubt how much it has impacted my mental health and contributed to moving forward and counting on abundance rather than being stuck in stories and beliefs that are grounded in a sense of lack. This past month, owing to all the feels, there was a lot of gratitude.
For life and how it flows.
For having this opportunity to take make a life of being, and not so much doing.
For opportunities that I could have only had in Bangalore. And the privilege of traveling to Goa again.
For family. Known and unknown, close and extended.
For Bangalore, and the rain.

Rumination
This year of writing everyday, I’ve taken extra pride in not ever missing a day or resorting to back posts as much as I did in 2016. Back then, I also resorted to writing Haiku when I was all dried up and the thoughts wouldn’t come. This year there have been very few days when I didn’t know what to write, and I have actually enjoyed writing every single day. August however, saw a lot of random thought bubbles and pictures, probably owing to days where I was just so overwhelmed with my own inner monologue.
Hot chocolate days.
Pause for a moment.
Driving to Goa. Again.
I read two more books.
Goa postcards. Here. Here. And here.

One month ago: Day 219: July
Two months ago: Day 184: June

Three months ago: Day 152: May
Four months ago: Day 134: April
Five months ago: Day 92: March
Six months ago: Day 60: February
Seven months ago: Day 32: January

Two years ago: Day 246: Wandering, right here at home

Day 225: Heavy mottled love

It took a rainy, blissfully just-the-right-kind-of-cold week and a fair bit of commuting in the rain last week, to realise that Bangalore rain is amongst the top things I love about this city and living here. Yes, I’m often stuck in traffic when it starts to rain (yes it annoys the shit out of me that stupid traffic jams are a given, an obvious consequence to even the slightest shower, while the city helplessly succumbs to this giant mess) even while I’m quietly snug in a cab or car, plastered to the window. Beneath the irritation though, is a quiet love for this snarling mess of a city that even with its gazillion imperfections has somewhat had an impact on me these past 18 months. So when I think back to the time I have enjoyed here, I’ll remember the rain fondly. Especially the moments spent stuck in traffic watching the patterns trickle down the window, drenching me in an inescapable melancholy for a city that’s dying faster than it can deal with. I feel soaked with a grief for this city I used to, and once again do, call home. For how it has morphed into this colossal wreckage. But I will also remember that it is often in the rain that has inspired me — whether those soft epiphanies that come like the drizzle and neatly punctuate this self-discovery, or the gushing waves of the unquenchable need to write things down — words, sentences, thoughts, all of it. I’ll remember how I frantically pull my phone out and note it all down. Thoughts on the world outside that threatens to swallow us whole, and the solid centre of peace I’ve found within. Within myself. Even as the chaos comes in great amounts when a downpour hits Bangalore, I have found moments of stillness right in there. Stuck to a window, watching the city be washed over by an evening shower. I’m glad for this time. For the lilt of this mad city and how it has shown me that there is joy, even in the unlikeliest, most ugly spaces. Most often that joy is within me. And so I snap pictures hungrily. Because it is the only way for me to remember. Remember what it has been like to be hungry for happiness, and so utterly committed to a journey I cannot put down in words. A journey I have nothing to show for. Nothing but my irrevocable joy of course, at having found my way back home to myself once again.

Two years ago: Day 225: Ele day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 169: Home where my love lies waiting

It’s been over a year since we moved into this home. And yet, so much remains to be done. I’ve alway shad a constantly WIP home, and I realised very early on that I like the idea of a certain kind of home, far more than I like the effort it takes to get me there. So, the wish list is never really ever fully met, the note titled “Home Stuff” on my phone, where I jot down things I’d like to make, buy, add, build for the house grows faster than I can keep up with it, and periodically I got through spots of frustration when I look around and suddenly think, “SHIT! I never made xyz”, “I *still* haven’t got down to putting abc up”, or “Soon, very soon I’ll finish that DIY project I started in 2012”, or some such.

At the moment too, things are basic, almost minimalist, replete with a fair bit of of half-done stuff, unattended corners and the like. There’s so much we could be doing, but we haven’t managed to just do it. It niggles at the back of my brain from time to time, and when a sudden burst of inspiration strikes, I manage to kill a few things off the list.

But this past weekend, and maybe this is entirely the effects of the weekend talking and not some newfound zen, I felt a deep contentment with my home. A sense of feeling rooted, warm and comforted.

It was drizzling ever so delicately, while the sun still shone pretty bright — Fox’s Wedding style. Inside, it was grey enough to turn the lights on. And everything just felt yellow, happy and…enough.

I realised tat even though it feels incomplete and unfinished, our home does reflect a lot of VC and me. Specifically, our fuss-free way of being. Where we’ll start off with gusto, lose steam and intellectualise the spiralling energy by asking “How much is too much?” or “When will it be enough?”, having realised that what we have is rather full of life, it does the job and it feels good.

And I want to remember the moment, because I felt it so deeply and internally.

Two years ago: Day 169: Work things that make me chuckle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was so good to be home.

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

I loved that I made a new friend.

I realised the flowers in the window are going BATSHIT.

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

I noticed the skies have been mad off late.

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

Life is good. Life is really good.

Two years ago: Day 158: No words today

Day 155: I wrote a letter to my love

Confession: It took me a whole month to write the birthday letter I had promised to write myself.

Every day, since my birthday (when I decided I’d do this) I have thought about getting my ass down to doing it, but I just faced such an enormous resistance from within. I didn’t understand why, because I actually, really, really wanted to begin doing this for myself. But much like the general fog that hung around me, I put it down to the inexplicable forces that I must not attempt to fight. Tomorrow, I’d tell myself. Every day. Until the whole month had passed and nada. Noting. Zilch.

Everything felt like it took extra effort, and yet nothing really held me in what can only be described a high-activity few weeks where my mental and emotional energies have rendered mush. However, in all the chaos, there have been internal signs and cues — just the need to write that letter, the desire to get out for breakfast by myself — that my mind has been silently giving me, continuously.

I discovered the joys of solitude very early in life, and in recent time the pursuit of pockets of time with myself has been selfishly high on my agenda. The rapid shifts I’ve been experiencing within my being has left me silent for the most part of last month, because there was just too much happening within for me to process and share, and begin to live and experience. I have really felt the need to cocoon myself and be alone, quiet. Inevitably though, that feeling comes with a little guilt.

Just how small, narrow and selfish am I being?
self-serving am I making my life?
Is my desire to be by myself causing others around me hurt, worry, rejection?

So in addition to actually wanting to be by myself (and managing to do it a fair bit) I have had an inner tussle these thoughts, I realised, as I sat by myself the other day.

There is also a matter of space. One of the things I’ve felt a little sad about in Bangalore, is not having a room of my own. When we moved to Bangalore, I had already mentally started winding down my personal writing practice, and our current home doesn’t allow for desk space  or a work room (like I had in Goa) for me to work, or just sit and ponder. In Goa, it was my room to retreat to for the most part of any given day. It kept me grounded and centred in more ways that I realised. Until I came here, and have been without a room of my own for over a year.

I’ve been longing for space too, I suppose. In some form or another. A room of my own. A date with myself. A walk in Cubbon Park. Something to make a ritual of.

On June 1st something definitely changed. I woke up early and joined the yoga class I’ve been meaning to for months now. The same one I’ve been unable to because waking up has been so damn hard. I cooked! Willingly, enthusiastically. Looking up long-bookmarked recipes from my favourite cookbook, and really enjoying the cooking, rather than cooking to just get a chore done. And I finally got the letter written.

From the moment I woke up, the will to actually finally put pen to was palpable. I felt upbeat and like I had emerged from a grey cloud to suddenly see the light.

S and I had plans to meet for lunch one afternoon, and when I was all set to leave home and get my cab, she cancelled. I was already in the flow of things, my cab was on it’s way, and I was looking forward to some time out. So, I decided to go anyway. I changed my destination and took myself to Koshy’s — my favourite place to have a table for one, and where I usually go to spend time writing or reading alone, when I just need to be with myself for a bit.

As a last minute thought, I carried my letter pad with me. And lo and behold, almost as soon as I got there, ordered and opened up my pad, the thoughts just bubbled over. And they would. not. stop.

I wrote five whole pages, over three hours. Over two unhurried iced teas, one omelette with a plate of toast, and since the sky had suddenly turned overcast, let out a loud crack and crashed down on us with a massive downpour, a tall glass of chai to end it all.

Originally, I’d wanted to walk down to Blossom’s, but I was just so content from having let the words that have been stifled in me for the last four week come out, I really didn’t need anything more to top the day.

I’m glad I finally managed to cut the chatter and go get it. Because it was nice to just decompress and put my thoughts out, and see them for what they are. Freeing and unburdening.

It was nice to have that sense of space about me again. I’ve been longing for some room. Some room in the clutter of my mind. A room of my own. But sometimes just a table, a pen and some paper will do.

Two years ago: Day 155: Sairat

Day 153: Life has a funny way of helping you out

Little moments that have stuck with me this past week:

  • Coming home to fresh flowers on the plants that have come back from the dead thanks to the incessant rain the week we were away, really made my heart sing
  • When the last of the sandy, stodgy, musty holiday laundry pile-up was hung out to dry, and I took a deep breath because everything smelt flowery like detergent
  • When my yoga teacher said (out to the entire class) “You don’t have to go all the way. Just go only as far as you can right now” and I felt like it was just meant only for me
  • When an ex-client from yonks ago messaged me, opening with “I read your article in Arre and loved it!” and it made me smile inside
  • Every time that VC has thrown his head back and laughed a wholesome, belly laugh that lights up his eyes, it has made me giggle
  • When I opened the fridge (that I had emptied and cleared out a couple of hours before) felt deeply satisfied at how minimalist it looked
  • The unexpected glee at feeling 15 again, when we were at The Permit Room, this song came on

  • The peace of the only afternoon I had all by my lonesome at home, and VC returned to find me sitting in exactly the same place in exactly the same position I was in when he left me three hours before

Two years ago: Day 153: Period story and writing lessons

Day 149: It don’t look like I’ll ever stop my wandering

I’m feeling a bit blank this week. I thought it was the post-holiday fatigue, and a touch of jetlag. But it’s been two days and with the sleepiness and lethargy showing no signs of abating, I’m beginning to wonder if there’s something more to it. As such this entire month has had me repeating my refrain: I’m feeling unsettled. Save for the two trips away, that has been the general feeling I’ve carried around.

Travel always unanchors just a bit. Something about letting go of the regular routine and relaxing means I tend to take a while to slip back to normalcy. But this is my third consecutive time going away and returning, to realise that I still don’t feel that I’m-coming-home feeling when I return to Bangalore. That feeling usually aids the return to normalcy. I feel it only once I’m within the safe space of my home or my parents home. But landing at the airport still leaves me feeling like I’m in transit, and like I have to hop on to a flight to get to Goa or someplace else.

Bangalore still feels like a pitstop. This really bothers me. I’ve been trying to do an assortment of little things to help settle in. Part of it is because I feel I owe it to myself — so much has gone into moving lock, stock and barrel, I feel let down to think that 365 days later, I’m still not quite…well, at home in that truest, deep-down sort of way.

But today, when I woke up in a funk and forced myself to try and potter about the house, settle things, cook a little (it’s domestic stuff that usually helps me find my ground again), that I had a small realisation. It’s when I beat myself up over trying to feel at home, that I end up feeling unsettled.

I thought I was dealing with this transition better than ever before. I am, but just not quite as well as I imagined, perhaps. I’m allowed an off-day in this respect too, I suppose. Maybe I need to stop fighting the unsettledness. Let it be. Let it pass.

It’s funny, when I lived in Goa I had a distinct feeling of belonging there. Despite my bouts of homesickness. I had come to a place of feeling at home in two places, of feeling at home as a state of mind. And  everything, I placed so much of this feeling of home on the places I lived in, on the things that make up the idea of home in my head.

Now, that I am back in the original home city, one year on and still pretty rootless, and increasingly feeling less inclined to settle, I’m questioning the idea of home itself. When I think about where home might be as a place, I draw a blank.

Metaphorically, though, I have been feeling plenty at home in my own space, in my body, in my mind and within myself. And maybe this is where the two ideas collide. I’m trying to fit myself into the idea of home as a place, and settle in the old way I knew how. When in reality an alternate kind of homeliness is brewing.

Maybe what I should do is let it go, and count on the beginnings of that new idea of feeling at home. Allow it to blossom. Really lean in to the idea of being that nomad I’ve been feeling like all month, fully dream the dreams (and realise some of them) of vagabondage and see what happens.

***

Contrary to what any of us expected the hugsband didn’t take a single video on our holiday. Something happened and he decided to focus on the photography for a change. He has been taking some smashing photographs instead, a whole load of them. Determinedly waking up at 5 am to catch the sunrise, and scouting all day for the best vantage points for the sunset, he has had such a full and satisfying holiday. It helped that the first island we were on faced west and the second faced east, and every sunrise and sunset was a completely different colour, like Goa playing with paint. Head over to his Instagram to see a whole host of holiday postcards.

Day 135: I’ve been keeping all the letters that I wrote to you

What coming home feels like: When your home and your heart are in two places 

I’m grateful for Goa.

Specifically, for the love for stillness that it kindled in me. If there’s one thing my trip to Goa last week affirmed with a resounding yes, it is that I love, need and thrive when I have the space and quiet for stillness. Without it, my life and everything I strive for today, would not be the same.

For introducing me to the people it did. It’s a small place, Goa. During my years there, the rather motley combination of the organisation I worked for briefly, and the career choice I made later on, plus the fact that I was one of the very few known bloggers from Goa at the time, and my fitness and related life choices, I met a wide range of people and very soon, I realised the pools and circles had intersected. I had reached a place where I couldn’t go anywhere without meeting at least one person I knew/knew of. While this invoked a sense of familiarity at first, it also grew stifling in the later years. When it was time to leave too, it was the desperate need for freshness in people, new connections that definitely spurred the need to move on. I didn’t leave on an altogether positive note, in this respect. But going back one year later made me realise that I’m so fortunate to still know and hold deep bonds with some of the friends I made there. People I can stay with, people I can call on, people I will go the distance to rekindle some of the experiences I have shared with them. People who will gladly have me over and back in their lives. It is particularly telling to note who this set of people includes, today.

For the immediate sense of freedom I always feel so palpably. It was all kinds of liberating to be able to drive out in a car without tints, in short shorts and a tank top at mid-day and have zero pairs of eyes curiously looking at us. I say shorts and tank top because it’s what I had on on that first day when I drove out to drop Niyu off and run some errands, but really it isn’t about the clothes. I was always aware of this luxury of anonymity when I lived in Goa, but being in Bangalore for a year and see-sawing between trying to be myself and blend in with as few raised eyebrows (even when fully, modestly clothes and adequately covered up *eyeroll*) as possible has made the luxury even more special.

For the wide open spaces. The green hubs. The views.

For the market freshness.

For the breakfasts.

I am really enjoying being in this wonderful sweet spot with adequate time and distance between us, and giving myself the permission to enjoy Goa anew. Maybe it is the contrast between where I am now (mentally and emotionally) that makes it possible to be a little balanced and measured than I was when I moved. Maybe I just needed to look away to clear out all that clouded my opinions, in order to appreciate Goa for what it was. Maybe I needed a shift from the over-familiarity and the comfort of a cubby-hole I had gotten myself in. Maybe it is just that I needed a year out to recharge my batteries.

I’m grateful for Goa. And it will always have a large part of my heart.

Day 130: Simple things

Postcard from Goa 8.

Aaaand. It’s done.

I suppose this ought to feel really good, but the darn thing took so much longer than anticipated, and had so many untoward delays, and the waiting has taken forever, that neither VC nor I knew what to feel when we were handed the key.

I’m grateful for everything that’s gone into making this possible. Mostly for VC, because on my own, left to my own antics, I’m not sure I’d get down to doing anything to own a little place of my own.

Now, to let that sink in a bit.

Two years ago: Day 130: April

Day 114: Just a stirring in my soul

This past week has been all about my grandmother who is visiting. It so happened that my parents were both away for four days and my sister and I ended up being home. I haven’t had this kind of time to spend, close to my grandmother, in years and years.

I’m grateful for the time we had. The meals we cooked and shared. The mangoes we gorged on. The conversations we had. For the energy and spirit she has well into her 80s. For the trooper that she is, enthusiastic and light at heart. Always ready for some fun. And if it involves a good meal and dessert, she’s all in. Always.

I’m so grateful for family. For serendipitous summer togetherness. Just like when I was younger and we’d visit my grandparents in Mumbai.

I’m grateful for the turning of tables and being given the chance to look after her, the way she has, us for nearly all our lives.

One year ago: More books (and a mini Bangalore update)

Day 102: And I’m feeling so bohemian like you

This week:

  1. My house turned into a makeshift studio. Which is to say it was turned upside down entirely. We papered over our living room windows with black chart, cleared out the flood seating, dragged a heavy-ass carpet over from my folks’, set up lights and a tripod (which one set can’t be moved until the shoot is entirely done). It’s been four days and counting. No sign of finish yet.
  2. My house hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned like it usually is every day. Because we’re unable to move this very elaborate set up out/around to allow said cleaning. I’m happy to report, I did not lose my shit.
  3. I added hand model and stop-motion art direction intern to my list of roles/responsibilities at Something Filmy. That would be in addition to my existing titles and roles as co-founder, partner, co-director, friend, foe, confidant, general errand person and master of all resources.
  4. My fridge turned into a restaurant fridge with four kinds of plated meals and a gazillion sides being piled in there, for the shoot.
  5. My freezer turned into a cold stone ice cream shop and my living room console has enough toppings and cones and waffles stashed to open up a little pop-up.
  6. We knocked off a major part of an edit for a stop-motion film we were asked to make. It was challenging, because we had such a steep learning curve, figuring things out on the go, realising it was much more physically taxing than we anticipated, and yet thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying.
  7. I got an extra workout every day from all the physical labour that stop-motion filming demands, and I’m hurting in places I usually only hurt when I lift weights after a break.
  8. Despite good intentions and great ideas every single day, I have been unable to turn my laptop on and post on here. For obvious reasons. My hands have been busy elsewhere (read point #3), and my brain too (read point #4). So I’ve been doing a lot of lazy posting off the phone which always leaves so much to be desired. But the shoot involved a lot of good food, dessert and ice cream. So it took priority. These things happen.
  9. When I haven’t been working, I’ve been either completely relaxing — there have been naps on some days, hangs with the sister (who is all healed and well now!) lazy meals (mostly cooked by amma or Niyu) with the fam on others, plenty reading — or letting my (non-existent)hair down with friends.
    Is this what work-life balance is? Because I fucking love it.
  10. I crossed two major milestones and couldn’t get around to writing what I really wanted to, to mark them. But. Good food, dessert and ice cream took priority. These things happen.

Two years ago: Day 102: Mondays like this

Day 65: Let’s get one thing straight now

This week, I’m looking back on the last 7-10 days, and it’s all a bit fuzzy and disjointed. I can’t remember many bits of it. And I can’t put the pieces that I do remember, back together. I’m thankful for the quick catch-up I managed to squeeze in with Amma and Niyu at Koshys.

I’m grateful for the constant lessons. For the privilege that is a safe distance from institutions that hold no meaning to me. For the vision to see things clearly, the awareness to separate the grain from the chaff.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to travel. The time with VC in a week that was otherwise written off to a lot of community living.

I’m grateful for dinner we had with S and the kids.

I’m thankful for all the breakfasts we’ve been catching out, thanks to early morning shoot schedules and getting out of the house earlier than we usually do.

I’m thankful for this convenience that definitely makes being in Bangalore lovely, for all of those seven minutes until I’ve consumed what’s in my plate.

I’m thankful for having squeezed in some much-needed down time at the parlour. Im thankful for L who has always been so generous and gentle and so good at whatever service I’ve opted for. I’m sad she’s leaving.

I’m thankful for the haircut I got. And the fact that I’ve found a reliable hairdresser rather close to home that doesn’t require me to break the bank every time I need a cut.

I’m thankful for the electric heat pad, the wonder that is Swiggy and dinner with S, D and VC, that was a huge bonus this past weekend that I spent largely in bed, either in pain or catching up on sleep.

I’m thankful for the good-book streak I’ve hit upon and how much I’ve been able to enjoy the reading. I’m thankful for the peace.

One year ago: Whisky-shisky