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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

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

***

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

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Rainy Goa

Hello from Goa where, absurdly enough, we arrived in the midst of a full blown cyclonic weather change. It’s pouring bonkers cats and dogs. And the forecast for the restof the week isn’t looking very promising. I’m usually a big fan of the rain but this time, I wanted some sunshine. We’ve got work to do, I came prepared to go to the beach, and unlike all my other trips this year, this one is going on be shorter.

Anyhow it was an almost treacherous drive all the way home, with the setting sun, super overcast dark skies and the rain just angrily lashing down. So I did what I do in the rain in Goa. I listened to Coke Studio. All the way home. And felt a super duper longing for life in Goa like it used to be in the years between 2011-2013.

The first thing I did as soon as I walked into the house was check on our plants. They’re THRIVING! The second thing I registered was how I always feel so delighted and at ease to have a home here. There’s quite nothing like it — coming home, from home. And like VC mentioned when I shared this with him, there’s something special about this one — our first home together — that makes it fit.

The rest of the week promises to be interesting.

***

Gratitude for the luxury of flying that just transports me quite literally from one place to another. Even with all the challenges flying has these days, it’s a luxury and a privilege I don’t take lightly.

Two years ago: When one door shuts, open it again
Three years ago: In with the new

Rest easy

Thinking of this glowy winter morning from last week as I woke up late today, having given myself the option to sleep in. Just a bit.

I wanted to take the opportunity of the day off in this busy week, to sneak in an outdoor run seeing as how the last time I got any exercise or running was nearly two weeks ago. Somehow time is flying even as in the moment, from one day to the next, it feels slower than ever. It’s only when I pause and look back at things like this that I register how much time has actually passed.

Sunday, we drove back eight hours from Manali. I drove most of the journey and while I enjoyed it, it was taxing and had left me quite tired. We stayed Sunday night with T, VCs best friend, and and J his wife, who were in Chandigarh at the same time. So our time was spent catching up and socialising rather than relaxing if we had been on our own. On Monday, our travel began early at 10 am, returning our rental car in one end of town and driving to the airport at the other end. A five hour flight with a stop over on Mumbai without getting off the flight and multiple inordinate delays at every step of the way had us get home only at 10.30 pm. I jumped straight into unpacking and doing two loads of laundry because I knew the days ahead would leave me with no time. VC has had his own plans too so I didn’t want to pile it on him.

This didn’t leave me with enough time to unwind and rest. I went straight to class early Tueaday morning and spent the next two days in intensive learning and practice. This usually leaves me quite physically exhausted.

Today, I have a days break and two more days of class again. Then just a single days break again before I pack and head out to Goa next week.

I’d have liked to do absolutely nothing today, and I realised how much blissfully easier it is to do that when one is alone. VC is around, my dad arrives tonight and I myself am quite sick of eating out so I had to get myself out of bed to check the state of the kitchen and cook us some lunch and dinner.

This morning as I stirred, I felt a sense of overwhelm from the pace of the last couple of days catch up with me and cause a churn in my chest. So I turned off my early alarm, threw the blanket over my head and went right back to sleep for another couple of hours.

I just cannot seem to be on the run and hustle anymore. And I’m fighting the urge to beat myself up over it and whip myself into action. There are always options, to getting out and being on the run myself and I’m trying more and more to give myself allowance with that. Outsource, make do without that little something extra, order in, luxuriate when possible, rest even when it’s not time to rest.

This need to keep doing is so, so, so, deeprooted in me. And even as I gain better comfort with letting it go and learning to be, rather than do, the vestiges of that old self keep creeping in from time to time. Just to test if she can still appear and make her presence felt. She’s a tough cookie.

But this restful me is tougher today than ever before. I’m grateful for the day off today. It is just the break I needed. To sleep in, eat home cooked food, veg out with VC, catch up with S, and also meet my father later tonight.

One year ago: Some would say I was a list man in a lost world
Three years ago: 
Mondaze

Wander

It’s been many, many days of the good homebound life. Lots of home-based things, so much so that even the odd urge to go out midday hasn’t seen itself to fruition. In a week, it’ll be a month of this. I am quite loving it. Falling into a good routine of exercise, cooking, and going the extra mile in the kitchen on many days, nesting and resting, basically, has been very timely and very good for me this past month.

You can tell things have been so slow, and so good, when you find the time to make slow-rise pesto rolls. Of two kinds.

But that’s about to change. Four days to see this face.

And eight days to go off on vacation. We haven’t taken one in a while now. Benaras feels like it was yonks ago. And since it was a quick getaway, not the kind of leisurely holiday we try and have at least a couple of times a year, I’m not even counting it as a “vacation”.

Our last one was exactly at this time last year, in Europe. I was reading through the entire set of posts from them a couple of nights ago and even though I had a longing for that time and place and the friendship and camaraderie, I realised that over the course of this year, I have frankly not felt the need for a holiday like this.

What with the umpteen trips to Goa which, even though like going back home, have been like multiple excellent holidays. They really satisfied what little itch to roam that I have had.

These two fools video called me completely by surprise last weekend, totally turning my otherwise mellow day around, making me so very happy. They reminded me of the plans we’d made last year, sitting around S’s dinette on our last day in Paris. Vague plans to meet again this summer, in a new country with some talk of me staying on in Paris for a month after. But when summer came, I didn’t move on those plans at all. For an assortment of logistical and practical reasons, but mostly because more than anything else , life has been so challenging and satisfying that I’ve been feeling so full. It has minimised the need for escape, the need for more discovery and excitement from it.

If anything, I have felt the need to stay a while, and contain it. Things have been so slow, and so good.

VC is probably the one that needed the holiday this year, but somehow between everything that was going on and just trying to keep it together — him at work, and me with life — the year has just passed us by.

But, this time last year after that whirlwind of a holiday in Europe, we embarked on a whirlwind of a time in October, which ended with VC moving cities and beginning a new life in November. Serendipitously, we’re going to be going through the same motions this year too. Going from vacation to a busy October — wrapping up his life in Goa and moving back to Bangalore — and beginning yet another chapter in November. Full circle and all that.

However, there is a decided and noticeable difference in my being and in the way I am feeling, with the prospect of another relocation (with zero planning so far) looming large. This slowness has changed my internal rhythm and pace to such a great degree. There seems to be little rush, and utmost confidence and peace in taking things slow and one day at a time.

If this is what slowing down to grow up is, I’ll take it, thankyouverymuch. And I’m pretty sure it’s going to trickle into how we wander and travel too. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

Three years ago: For every down, there is an up

Simply, satisfactorily

It’s been a super slow, but productive home-bound day.

I’ve been slowly, progressively organizing and clearing up corners of the home. It’s a very minimal home this one, and so when corners begin to look ignored and in need of tending, it always alarms me how the speed at which things pile up is so high, even though the apparent stuff we have that can pile up is really so low. Reorganising this time around has also made me realise just how tuned off I have been from the home front for longer than I may have thought.

I cooked a fuller than normal lunch for my sister and her friend who were over for a bit. And I spent the morning doing reading some course material. I watched a bit of Rubaru Roshni, which is a chilling documentary, but just hit all the right spots for me. And then I had a short round of practice with one of my buddies from class. It was good to get out of my comfort zone and invite someone new over, and practice with them without the presence of my safety net.

Things are changing. Slowly but surely, they are.

Dinner required me to make a chutney, and then I sorted out my fridge that suddenly has such an active role to play. Then I spent some time doing some research for a proposed holiday we’re taking next month. (And I realise, serendipitously, it’s on this same day last year that we set off for Europe.)

I meant to step out at some point today, but I didn’t even realise how the day just got ahead of me. Satisfactorily.

One year ago: We’re speeding up, not slowing down.
Three years ago: All you need is less — projects

Gratitude fix

Grateful for the great weather we’ve been having. Sweaters by night, sunshine by day. Crisp early beginnings, the beginnings of winter sunlight that frame every new day and make me forget all that’s wrong with the world for just that little bit.

Sure, it’s made waking up as early as I am used to a tad harder. Actually, scratch that. The waking up happens rather easily, I’m afraid I’ve hacked my body clock to open eyes at 6 am. It’s the leaving the bed and getting out from under the blanket bit thats much, much harder. I end up snoozing the alarm for upwards of 40 minutes and have pushed my start of day a fair bit.

Grateful for the festivities of the weekend. After many years I had the opportunity to indulge in more than just the partaking of the feast — which is frankly the most interesting part of Ganesh Chaturti, amiright? I enjoyed wandering about shopping with amma, and doing my little bit to cook parts of the traditional meal we’ve been accustomed to eating for all these years, and that I realised I have a special fondness and affinity for.

I’ve indulged in about three times the amount of food I consume on any given day over Gowri and Ganesh, taking seconds (and thirds in some cases) of all my favourite foods, unabashedly. All my restraint and restrictions have fallen to the wayside almost as easily as they have been imbibed, and I’m observing how natural and easy to give in and slip back on track it has become of late. Is this what eating intuitively is?

Grateful for the burst of life that festivals bring to my neighbourhood, literally transforming the place. Traffic is a bitch, but we got out on foot, in the middle of the day and in another time I might have been hassled and bothered. But I enjoyed it, the sights and sounds suddenly appealing and sweet, touching a hitherto untouched part of my heart almost.

This is V and we’ve reconnected after about 10 years. It’s only been a handful of times that we’ve met, but every time that we have, it’s been lighthearted, easy, full of laughter. I almost forget we are adult versions of the people we were when we used to be broke teenagers in college who resorted to hanging out on park benches because we had no money to go anywhere else. And yet, somewhere in between the rambunctious laughter over the silliest things, I see how far we’ve come, how grown up we are. I’m grateful for the many reconnections I’ve had. It’s brought variety to my friendships, loosened me up and brought a much-needed lightness to my life that allows for unabashed day drinking.

There’s been something of a throwback theme going on with me. Last week I caught up with S after more than a decade, and at Koshys where we met, I happened to glance around and notice my English Literature professor sitting at a table behind me. She’s literally the only teacher from those three godawful years in college, who I cared for, who made an impact on me, and who I remember enough to go say hi. I looked straight at her, dead sure she wouldn’t recognise me. In my head, I look nothing like I did in college, especially with the shorter than ever before hair. But she looked straight back at me and went; “Revati!”

We engaged in a full on conversation and she seemed to remember every little detail about where we left off — which was 2006 — when I graduated! My interests, the professors I disliked, my resistance to Shakespeare and my love for Eliot, alike. And I have no idea how, but she knew I lived in Goa. She expressed such joy when I responded to What are you up to? with I write.

I can’t tell you how happy that made me!

Extra, extra grateful for public transport more than ever before. The more I think about the little ways in which I can reduce putting a car and four wheels on the road, the more I think about the implications of spending so much money on something as basic as getting about town, the more compelled I feel to make the effort to take the metro whenever I can. And it’s a delight to see it pay off.

I’m grateful for N who has stayed like a silent, strong force holding space for all that has been unfolding for me. Even with our infrequent meetings, I’ve found a space where I can increasingly be me, in all my different states of togetherness of the lack thereof. No filters, no adjustments. It is a real privilege, relief. And joy. As I make sense of so many little and big things as they unfold and churn up a world of emotions and realisations within me.

One year ago: August

Love actually

When you know, you just know. Ever so slowly, with just as much intensity creeping up on me as it did when I realised I needed to live on my own, I have realised that this time is done. Everything that it could have served at this point in my life, has been nearly done. And I am so ready to go back to living with VC. I am ready to share space and togetherness again.

I guess you could say the realisation crept up on me when I began to miss him more intensely than normal. It began about a month ago when I returned from Goa. The number of calls I make on any given day have outnumbered the number of calls he makes to me (and the fact that he had taken to calling me more than twice a day was in itself a pleasant shocker). But I think the real clincher that something fundamental had changed was when I started nesting again. It’s almost like the dead impulse to do anything remotely domestic has been kindled again, and I am homing. Like a bloody pigeon. Readying this home once again to the familiar, warm and life-filled place it was before VC moved.

For no apparent reason, I took down curtains to launder, cleaned out storage spaces and carried out a massive deep cleaning operation of my fridge and kitchen a few weeks ago. In the process, I realised how disconnected I have been from all things domestic around here. Partly because living on my own has required less involvement on the home front. Things have functioned on auto pilot, with just me taking care of me. Amma and I eat most of our meals together, prepared by her so my kitchen has been barely functional the last 3-4 months. Things have been proper and in shape, but with a perceivable lack of life. The sort of thing that fills homes as an outcome of when people being connected, bringing energy and breathing life into mere spaces. This takes active living, and since I was mostly just coming home to sleep for the greater part of the last many months, there’s been a growing sense of lifelessness about my home.

Suddenly something turned. I’m spending more and more time here, feeling homely and cosy. Imagining meals I want to cook, dreaming of all the places my plants will go when they’re transported from Goa. And there’s groceries in my kitchen, vegetables and curd and bread and eggs in my fridge. The curtains are clean, the cupboards slowly being made dust-free. A whole lot of old clothes and shoes have been discarded/donated. You know, mundanities.

I’ve even spent some mornings cooking elaborate meals that I felt inspired to make. I braved the daunting 6-hour recipe making ulavacharu out of half a kilo of horsegram because all this staying in, in this weather demands all things zesty and earthy in my plate. I also made half a kilo of popped makhanas to snack on. I mean healthy snack preps? Is there a bigger sign that I’m well and truly home?

The home is functioning again, basically. And then this morning, I emptied out VC’s cupboard that I had appropriated and spilled myself and my belongings over into last year when he moved to Goa. So I suppose, it’s official now. I’m done living alone.

The distance has been especially painful this week, since he left early Monday morning, and I am already counting days to our next trip already. The good thing is, I managed to convince him to make two trips to visit me here in Bangalore during this time I cannot leave the city. He was convinced, very easily. And he acted on proposed plans, very quickly.  Last weekend was one of those trips and it was a joyful, quiet, contained weekend for me.

Even with the excessive (by my new standards) being outdoors, it was a weekend spent just being. Whether out or at home (and we did consciously spend a fair bit of much-needed time by ourselves at home) it really brought home the fact that this is something we sorely missed doing in the initial months when we moved here from Goa, over two years ago.

I realise now, in retrospect, that 2017 Revati and the headspace she was in when we moved — initially out of desperation and then driven by a compulsion to make it work — swiftly slipped into get-it-done mode. This made me completely inward-looking and disconnected from all else. What parts of me remained were drawn and invested in being with my family. Which left VC to deal with his family as best as he could, or be alone. Even when we were together, I see now how disconnected we were. Emotionally, more than anything else.

I’ve been feeling those gaps closing in the past many months. But something about his trip here really hit home. There was a visible comfort in being here — in this city — that was missing in 2017. An ease and presence. A deliberate relaxation from not trying hard to make it work, and the consequent lack of guilt from sometimes failing at that. A comfort and acceptance of things, and just going with the flow.

This past weekend, we did things we haven’t done here in a long time. Chose to be home. Ate home cooked meals, making rotis and chopping onions together. Also ordered our favourite desserts to eat in bed while we Netflixed, separately. You know, life as it used to be. We also took ourselves out on a proper date — drinks at HRC followed by Kunal Kamra who made us laugh so hard our faces hurt and we came home buzzed and unable to sleep.

I got a special kick in showing VC all the things I newly love about the city. We walked a lot, took the metro into town on the night of Kunal’s show, walking some more to get places. It felt like I was taking a tourist about town and we giggled at the idea. We hit some of our favourite spots in the city, and I realised this is such a pleasant change — VC willing to get out and about and do things in the city. We spent time talking about what the next few months hold for us — me urging him to take things slow, for a change, and him egging me on to push myself, for a change. And I couldn’t help but think, how far we’ve come.

I’d be lying if I downplayed the fact that I am severely excited about VC’s return. In some odd ways it feels like we’ve hit reboot on our relationship. Without knowing it needed work, it somehow got worked on. And the results are only visible now in the palpable freshness that’s in place of the comfortable staidness that I suppose kicks in after you’ve been married for ten years. As I count down the days to living together again, I feel excited like I used to be 12 years ago when we’d plan to hang out and I’d count down the hours to when we’d meet, and he’d show up with the childlike enthusiasm, but the kind of grown-up love he was never too afraid to show. I sense that old VC returning, and this feels like a homecoming in more ways than one.

When it’s time, it’s time. And when you know, you just know.

One year ago: I want to thank you for giving me the best days of my life

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

Reboot

I don’t know if it’s the rush of the days since I got back from Goa or the intense experience I’ve had in class this past weekend, but I feel like it’s been forever since I returned. Goa seems like a distant memory because of how in the motion and flow of things I’ve slipped into here, so quickly. It’s like being settled snug in the thick my life here again. It’s new but it’s also a bit like a distortion of time in my mind’s eye. I can’t seem to tell recent from past.

It usually takes me a few days to slip into the way of life here, when I return from travel. Just the getting out of one routine and settling into another, in the different way that life happens here, takes time.

Similarly, it takes a few days of excessive sleep and fighting exhaustion before I can return to some state of normalcy after a module of study at class.

This time it has been different. I went straight to class quite effortlessly taking cabs and metros and autos, the very next day after I returned. Given how difficult, intensely challenging and emotional this last module has been I was prepared to spend a few days flat in bed.

But it has not happened.

On Saturday when class ended, D, S and I went out to grab a bite and catch up outside of class, to decompress from all that had happened for us. Later, when we split after a few hours I went to meet S and get her views on what was going on with me. It was all kinds of energising, rather than draining which is my usual feeling at the end of three days of intense personal work.

On Sunday, I even managed to wake up early and meet D for a walk at Cubbon Park — our first in months. And yesterday I hit the gym again. It’s been about 20 days of no exercise thanks to the travelling back and forth, a misstimed period and generally feeling so emotionally wrought all I wanted to do was not move and eat all the sugar. That phase has clearly passed because I have been itching to resume ever since I returned. I anticipated my body would need some coaxing before it begins to co-operate, simply because it’s been a while.

But this has not happened. I have bounced back. To regular programming, in the gentlest most surprising way. It happened rather effortlessly.

This morning I realised, my breath that was short and tight, is now deep and full. Yesterday my neck was achy and felt like it needed constant support, to it feels extended and upright, my posture relaxed but strong. My body feels supple, but firm.

There is certainly something about coming home. A sense of slipping back into the flow. With all the up and down to Goa and back these last eight months, this time around I returned wanting to stay put for a while. I was beginning to feel like a plastic bag in the wind, and my body was craving some stability.

Stability in this city? An older me might have laughed hard. And possibly chided me so much and kept me from dropping roots and finding the stability I need. But something special seems to have happened.

As I drove to two different corners of Bangalore on Sunday, through pouring rain and mad traffic, I felt that deep sense of having found a home. The city is snarling, it’s falling apart in more ways than I care to count, it’s madenning with the constant rush and the sheer unbelievable number of assholes out on the streets. The trees are disappearing, temperatures are rising. Nothing is reliable, rules don’t exist and anarchy rules loose, people are aggressive, undependable and empathy is mostly dead.

And yet, in that moment I felt completely at ease and at home. Bangalore with its afternoon showers, orange light and rare spots with full tree cover.

This is certainly new.

One year ago: There’s glitter on the floor after the party

Home base

I simply cannot overstate the wonderous effects that a done-to-death routine, based entirely in ordinary homely acts, does to make me feel grounded.

Today has been an utterly mundane day, borne out of complete and basic necessity. It’s been a good, steadying day and very early on, plodding through, I realised how easily pleased days like this make me feel.

I drove to Panjim and back this morning, cooked Niyu some upma for breakfast, had myself a simple smoothie and spent the morning catching up with the Internet that I have ignored for about a week now. I finished up reading one of the books recommended for class, before we meet again next week. And then I napped, waking up in time to cook — broccoli soup, salad and garlic toasts for dinner — and pick VC up from work.

It’s rained for the most part, that deeply soothing hum of rainfall that’s become a refrain in the background, now feeling almost meditative. And when it wasn’t raining, it’s been overcast with just that little leak of light.

There is something to be said of this minimalistic life I tend to have when I’m here, in this way and in this stage, in this home that we’ve specifically made, bare bones, stripped down and inward focused.

One year ago: Is someone getting the best of you?
Three years ago: What happens when you go cycling in the rain

Pause

Yesterday was a fairly sunny day with just bursts of downpour intermittently punctuated by bursts of bright sunshine but as I drove to Inox in the evening, it began to come down. It made me severely nostalgic for the days when J, S, R, VC and I would make impromptu movie plans to entertain ourselves in the monsoon when everything else would be shut and inaccessible. We’ve watched a shit ton of terrible movies as a last resort, invariably thinking of it with just under ten minutes to show time, as a last ditch attempt to entertain ourselves in dreary days that felt like they were slipping away. I thought about the countless times we’ve rushed to Inox, ten minutes away, running from the parking lot to the multiplex huddled under shared umbrellas and entering the movie hall slightly damp, but spirits sprightly and excited.

There was something really sweet in the simplicity and utter basic truth about having just one multiplex to go to and wondering on rainy days if there’d actually even be a minimum of five people for the show to actually run. Sometimes we’d gather ourselves in groups of five or more just to make sure we hit the target. I felt nostalgic for that simple, unadorned Goa that I had the privilege of knowing so intimately.

Anyhow, as I watched the rain come down and we fished our umbrellas out to get to Inox, I felt my plans to catch the Friday Market at Mapusa wash away. Also Article 15 while an important film about an important issue, stopped just short of really working for me because of some inherent (inescapably Desi) flaws, premier amongst which was length. It ran just too long for my liking, which meant it was well past midnight when I got home.

All this to say, my morning today was not as smooth as I’d have liked. I woke up late, and that set my schedule off. I mostly spend my days doing nothing of grave importance but my morning routine has come to be kind of sacrosanct and unexpected changes potentially throw my day off. I no longer like to just casually skip my workout, and I like to get it done as early as possible. This usually gets first priority. Today there was also some omelette sandwiches to be made for VC to take to work, and getting ready in time to leave with VC to get him to work so I can take the car to the Friday market added to the mix. It already felt like a gargantuan ask even before I’d begun.

I wrestled with it for five minutes in my head, there’s an undercurrent of the lets-do-it-all energy just waiting for an outlet to surface, any time she can. But I’m better in curbing this type A side of me now so it wasn’t long before I decided I to prioritise my workout and make VCs lunch. I ditched the plan to go out and instead VC went off to work on his own.

Today was looking like a day to stay in. The weather agreed, vehemently and it has been pissing down with a vengeance pretty much all day. There is not a single cloud to be seen. The sky a vast mass of grey streaked with darker shades of more grey which shifted and changed as they passed, like a watercolour on blotted paper, waiting to take form.

It has since been a day of silence with nothing but the rain for company. I did some reading (not the reading for learning I need to, but reading for fun), I realised I had two episodes of Big Little Lies to catch up on, so there was that. A nap that was interrupted by the early return or VC with Niyu in tow. VC who went for a meeting and didn’t think it was fun to drive back to work and back home again in the pouring rain, and Niyu who also incidentally cancelled her evening class today.

I seem to be having a string of days like this. Even when I try and make plans to get out and “be productive” things happen that make me change plans, or halt and defer them altogether. Many times it makes me contend with the parts of me that still attach value and self worth to productivity of a certain kind.

Today is what I’d really call a clear and present wash out day. Necessary autumns of our lives, times for essential pause, whether we know and acknowledge or are present to it or not. I’ve had many thoughts about productivity, success, a life well-lived and the like in the last few weeks, some of which may make it to a post in the coming future.

It’s grey out, still. We’ve just had cups of tea and Iyengar bakery biscuits I brought from Bangalore. And I pulled out the stops and indulged in my other Goa staple — peanut butter toast, with a drizzle of honey today. We’ve got our noses in our respective laptops, each doing things that need to be done. It’s a picture of silent companionship, of pause itself.

As soon as this post is done I’m going to cook us dinner, Thai Curry which has become a Goa staple for me now.

Tomorrow will be a new day.

One year ago: You’ll be a good listener, you’ll be honest, you’ll be brave
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: light and life

Three years ago: June

Reflections

Things I’ve enjoyed this past week:

Bonus time with VC, who arrived in Bangalore as soon as his uncle passed last week. He stayed on for the weekend, coinciding his date of departure with mine, as we headed to Goa on separate flights on the same day. It’s been a while since I’ve seen VC chill like he did in Bangalore those few days, and even though I was away at class pretty much the entire time, I enjoyed the time we had together.

One rainy evening, we camped out at Koshy’s chatting (VC is suddenly into chatting, elaborate, detailed conversations and I can’t get enough of this) and drinking while we waited for the rain to subside, before we took ourselves for a dinner of soba noodles and stir fry. Bangalore is nicer, and more complete for me, with VC around. This surprise trip was well-timed, and solidified some things about us, in my mind.

Being in class again and feeling my brain stretching beyond control. Feeling distressed with a muddle of jitters and mild intimidation, with the delicateness of this new learning that sits in my hands, while I know not how or what I am going to do with it. Staying with the jitters anyway and finding joy at the very end of the short cycle of distress, and feeling a sudden surge of energy almost, at the excitement of what lies ahead.

Catching lunch with D and S, chatting about all the ways in which the work and the learning permeates our lives. While we’ve been in touch after L1 ended, we haven’t met — all three of us — as much as we promised we would make the time for. So there was a lot to really dive into and take apart. Later, on Saturday evening when we were finally done, S and I walked to Airlines where we chatted and chatted, over a Maddur vada and coffee (after ages!), in a conversation about marriage and womanhood and making space for both to coexist.

A marathon two hour conversation with N on Sunday that was preceded by a card reading. I realised my readings are only as deep and insightful as the clarity and intent that the questions bring with them. The ripe way in which N asked, and the lithe keenness, opened something up and resulted in a very powerful message that felt like it was as much for me as it was for her. No surprises there, considering how much our individual journeys mirror each other.

Then we had this never-ending, freewheeling conversation that touched upon so many different, varied, sometimes disparate things that matter to us right now. Things we’re experiencing, things we’ve understood, all that has come to be, and the greatest trepidation about what will be. I found great resonance in N’s words about how deeply personal, intangible and utterly indescribable the nature of what she’s doing as her self-exploration feels. And the consequent loneliness of it too. And yet we get each other, I thought.

D came over on Sunday evening, bearing gifts — kheema samosas and khoya naans from Albert Bakery — and VC made us chai, that we enjoyed with chatter and giggles (as per usual). I’ve been off tea and coffee for about three months now, and even though I have indulged in the odd evening snack, the milky, sugary beverages have been missing entirely. Last week I had that craving for aloo buns, and today too I tucked in a few bakery biscuits. The snacks on Sunday were just perfect, the tea was sweet, and if we had even the slightest rain, it might have been a perfect Sunday evening.

This was the icing on the cake for my weekend. Closing the week, and the month in Bangalore before I left for Goa with this banger of a show that I had booked myself for two months ago, was everything I anticipated it would be.

Kunal Kamra is astonishingly precise with his humour and he delivered a cracker of a set that was bravely political, didn’t shy away from intelligently bashing the current Saffron regime for all that they must be criticised for, while also keeping it light, funny and even touching in some parts. There’s something deeply touching about honest art delivered in this unfiltered way that crosses all kinds of barriers. I may have teared up a couple of times, not just at the bitter truth that he delivered, albeit in a funny manner, but also at the purity of his work that touched me.

Arriving in Goa to find that the plants that had nearly died have been mostly lovingly revived in VC’s patient and regular care. The crazy bougainvillea has in fact suddenly sprung to bloom in most uncharacteristic fashion (they prefer the sun to rain) and has in fact changed shades, now dressed in a heart-tuggingly bright pink, rather than the beaming, gentle salmon I thought we had.

One year ago: I wouldn’t change a single thing

The rain

Hi, from Goa, where I have arrived to not enough rain. But only just enough to inspire some Vada pav cravings as soon as I landed.

Right from the airport, I headed off to VCs office to catch up with him and head home together. Today was one of those ultra efficient days with everything operating ahead of time, from the moment I left home in Bangalore. So I got there much earlier than anticipated. In order to kl some time, I dragged my suitcase and two handbags down, two streets away, in the drizzle to Cafe Aram because the settings were just right.

The gentlest drizzle, a sniffle in my nose, a I peaceful journey, and lunch six hours ago. I ducked into the buzzing tea room. Fond memories of my last cuppa chai had there the day before welved from Goa wafting back to my mind.

The tables are snug, a little too snug for comfort. And of course one also sits where there’s place, sharing humble eating space with just about anybody. Often, this results in staring into other people’s plates as one waits for food to arrive, from no apparent reason except that, it’s there, so close.

Few things kindle nostalgia and fondness, a sense of home, as speedily as food. So as soon as my vada pav and chai had arrived and I took a bite of it, immediately I felt at home. Despite the fact that I looked visibly like an outsider. With just the way I look, and strolley in tow.

There is something about a tea room at 6 pm on the heart of Panjim. The vibe just brings you back to ground reality.

It was such a good way to begin. To come back home.

Outside, the rain began to fall harder and noisily.

One year ago: I choose to be happy
Two years ago: I need to sit with the quiet, I know that much

Three years ago: The rain, the rain

Simple

To Wayanad and back home this evening. So, some more Wayanad things:

It rained, but not nearly as much as it should be, or as much as I’d have liked to have experienced.

My heart is full. And still.

The home is coming together beautifully. And my heart fills with: 1) joy to think of how painstakingly and lovingly and with how much grit and determination my father has worked tirelessly, uprooting his entire life in Bangalore, to make this happen. For him, and for us. 2) humility and overwhelming gratitude to think of the number of hands and brains of complete strangers, blood, sweat and tears that have gone into building this home.

Walking into the house for the first time on this trip, looking around, watching masons splashing on cement on a bare wall, I had a moment where I really, fully registered how a home, a building, no matter how big or small, is still a handmade thing. A piece of art. A building together and making a sheer figment of someone’s imagination come true. It kind of blew my mind to think of the scale at which, brick by brick, things come together. How today, three years on from when we went as a family to break the ground and begin work on this piece of land nobody thought could be useful for anything, there now stands this magnificent home. A home, I think is amongst, if not the best, my dad’s finest creative work.

It’s taken many hands, many heads, many weeks and months of tireless confluence of energies, lots of hiccups and pitfalls, but to finally see it in it’s near-finished form, made me very, very happy.

I’ve seen this piece of land so many times before, and we’ve obsessed over the view through all stages of the making of this home, again and again and again, we’ve imagined it, hyped it, dreamed of it, built it up in our heads — but this was the first time it took my breath away like it did. Maybe it was because it’s the first time I was in a room, surrounded by walls, a super high ceiling, with this view in front of me created a different sense of space — of belonging — that it hit me the way it did.

We stayed on site on site, this time around in the parts of the home that are complete. It was such a thrill to be totally out of network coverage, so I mostly forgot about my phone. Pitch black darkness and just the sound of crickets after sundown makes for a kind of desolate and off-the-grid like I don’t witness otherwise. Simple, home-cooked meals eaten so early we were all in bed by 8.30 pm on all nights, in utter silence and total darkness all around, was topped by waking up to the rain-dappled morning sunlight. Forest sounds, birdsong, watching turtles frolicking in a pond — it’s a bit surreal to think this is what morning is like in a corner of the peninsula not too far from home.

The kindle did its thing and I finished two books in two days. That’s what happens when the day expands, time stands still and the world is forgotten. It’s nice to think I now have access to a spot thats not a “holiday” spot and experience this degree of remote now.

It was also nice to be with amma and anna, away and in peace, just us. This hasn’t happened in years, and to think this sort of unplanned trip gave me this opportunity to just be, unconsciously cocooned, is heartwarming. I enjoyed it thoroughly, we shared a room, cooked and ate our meals together, drove all around the little village, listened to music and drove all the way back to Bangalore together today. Things were absurdly simple. And easy.

So yeah, my heart is full. And still.

One year ago: Nobody really likes us, except us
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: Bangalore sky-porn

Three years ago: Begin

Small sadness and everyday grief

I woke up to terrible news today. My maid, who I had e trusted with a rather simple task of watering my plants for just four days till VC was back, had failed spectacularly at the task. I couldn’t have made the job easier even if I tried, seeing as how I’d already moved everything into the shade, separating the plants that need daily watering from those that do better with less. And yet she couldn’t have done a better job of killing them even if she’d tried.

VC showed me the damage on a video call as he tried to salvage what he could, watering everything in a hurry. And as I watched the extent of damage a surge of grief rose within me and made its way out in a heaving big cry. Loud wails and big tears, snot and all, that was the start to my day.

They’re just plants, I know. But for some reason this morning seeing what had become of them just days after I’d left felt too much to take. I felt disappointed at my maids lack of care, and I felt guilty for having left them to her to begin with. I felt it all and I felt very, very sad. The irreversible finality of death, hitting me harder than it maybe should have? I don’t know. Because I’m also not sure if I was just crying about the plants, because I know the whole act of gardening and the attachment I’ve felt to this little garden I grew from a handful of pots has been something more, to begin with.

I went about my day after, but every now and then the feeling of sadness has been welling up in me. In empty moments, especially on a lonely cab ride into town, when the mind is empty and traverses so much, I teared up again.

I talk so much of everyday grief, and yet every single time I experience it, it feels fresh and new. I wonder how much if this is actually pent up grief from elsewhere and from another time perhaps many other times from long, long ago that I happened to tap into in an instant today. Small deaths, little defeats, insignificant hiccups all rushing out to find a way out to be seen and heard.

Anyhow, hitting a favourite happy spot this evening for a coffee and some conversation. But lingering at the back of my mind is surprise at the sudden outpouring of tears and sadness, and utter perplexity at where it may have come from.

One year ago: It don’t look like I’ll ever stop my wandering
Three years ago: Ten