Peace within

Feeling a sense of equanimity and peace today. Despite stepping out of my cocoon to read and realise that the world is still fast spinning out of control.

On days like this, when the balance shows itself, I feel that internal “container” within me that we have been talking about building and growing since I began therapy. It’s the space that keeps me grounded and in touch. Balanced. Peaceful. Even as worlds of emotions swirl inside. The two can coexist, without my having to fly off into a mood.

It’s also been a full, satisfying day. Once again reiterating my need to be grounded, in reality, to feel equanimity in my being.

A night of restful sleep, a sweaty workout to start the day, two readings in person, the house to myself all day long, a nap, a long walk around the neighbourhood and returning with some fresh greens and groceries I picked up along the way, some solid, involved, deeply satisfying cooking (for today and tomorrow!), dinner that hit the spot. Finishing this all by 8 pm and settling in bed, done for the day and writing this as I get ready to shut my laptop off and wind down already — it just feels very, very good.

One year ago: Home away from home kind of feeling
Two years ago: I still remember when we did not have the answers

Of another new beginning

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.

James Baldwin might very well have been speaking about the hate filled bigots that walk amidst us today, when he said this.

Some more protests down, more feelings emboldened within me, fresh art on my walls.

Still, we’ll rise.

Every time that I am at a protest, I feel like I belong. Like I can stake my claim on this country and refuse to be pushed to the corners and feel like a victim.

As a woman, this fight feels particularly raw and cuts very close to the bone. It has touched a dormant nerve so deep, that has triggered that generationally old place of oppression. Women know it best: if they get away with this, it won’t be long before they turn on us. And our children.

This is the very nature and established pattern of institutionalised subjugation by people in positions of privilege and power.

However, I feel a wave of newness. A fresh breath of hope. Politically too, I believe that the end of the year brought things to a new, barely ever seen before crescendo. I am firmly of the belief that this is going to be a long, slow and perhaps painfully violent march to a new freedom and a new beginning. Things turned when people got out on the streets and have continued to, in unimaginable numbers, back the idea of freedom and love that currently has no single face steering it. For over a month now. No political party affiliations. No single religious groups agenda. No single faction leading this. A true melting pot of unison, and a fight for love over hate, more than anything else. The older generation doesn’t know what to do with this because it provides no answers to their endless whataboutery.

And I find this immensely hopeful.

One year ago: Breathing space
Four years ago: People puzzles

Recharged

I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year, really.

It’s been a week since I left home, and it feels like a lifetime has passed in my mind, during this time.

Feeling at home so deep in my bones, in my place, with a solid sense of belonging, is a truly unparalleled experience.

There have been worlds of thoughts marinading and being very slowly processed in my mind.

Thoughts about the power of truth snd conviction.

Thoughts about being impossibly heartfully connected, even as I find healthy separation.

Thoughts about how months of cultivating a healthy container seems to be giving rage a new kind of outlet.

Thoughts about an all new adult kind of definition of settlement.

I hope to unpack this slowly for myself over the next few days.

Thank you to this corner of Wayanad we now call home. Thank you for filling me up on ways I don’t yet have words for. But I will get there. For now, I’m Back on home turf, recharged and raring to go.

Two years ago: Here I go again (on my own)
Three years ago: 2016
Four years ago: In-bloom

The ground beneath my feet

The mind is still a tizzy with thoughts of the country and how fast things are escalating. How the mainstream news channels and newspapers aren’t portraying a picture that’s even semi close to the reality on ground. Sending out prayers and good vibes to everyone facing this in a far more brutal and real way in their lives and days. And trying hard to find my grounding in simple things today. A visit to the nursery, where my father and I spent over an hour traipsing through the entire length and breadth of the sea of plants and flowers. The winter flowers are in full bloom, and it is an absolutely delightful sight for the eyes. So I walked, stopped, touched, smelled, picked, and then some. Before returning home with a small loot.

I napped a nap deeper than I’ve had in a while. My night sleep hasn’t been the best the past ten days or so. Preoccupations, my mind active, reaching out to read the news — all the things I do when I cant sleep that then keep me from getting to sleep. I woke up feeling tremendously rested.

I felt a shift, a weight lift, a sense of clarity and a penny dropping after my afternoon with S yesterday. There is a sliver of light shining through, and I feel heartened and suddenly invigorated by the possibilities, and the palpable sense of things coming together. I am no longer in dream stage, but things are quickly moving to action. I am not feeling paralysed by that movement, rather feeling more and more energised to get going. I have a website going that I hope to finish by the close of the year, tomorrow we meet a CA to discuss the options ahead of us to work together and the first project is already in sight.

And so, this evening I feel alive and full again. Not shrinking and cowering under a helplessness like I have been feeling inside of me, for over a week now. I cooked us dinner, figured out what meddling I need to do with my pots and plants tomorrow, and now I’m off to pick up some frames of prints I want to get up on the walls this week. And then I’m off for therapy.

I want to acknowledge and state here, that since my first meeting with S last week, where we really got down to the brass tacks of working together, I had this feeling that shit just got real, it has translated into a sudden burst of action in the rest of my life. My days are flowing smoothly. I somehow wake up knowing what I want to do and have been moving through my time effortlessly, getting things done. And not just work things, but home and food and life things as well. We’ve had people over, I’ve cooked umpteen meals, we’ve made time to chill and watch TV, we’ve been out, I’ve found my rhythm and regularity with the gym again, I went to a couple of protests, work got done, home improvement is in full swing like it hasn’t ever been. Somehow everything has been finding a time and place, and happening. I have managed to get some simple, small things that I have planned and not moved on for literally years — like a website revamp, like a visit to the nursery, like frames of prints I’ve collected over the years. I’m feeling a sudden effortlessness. And t has brought to my days a fullness that is not overwhelming or exhausting, which is the only kind of “full” I knew for a very long time.

Balance and flow, balance and flow, balance and flow. It is such a surreal, heady feeling to suddenly have that which I have only dreamed of and coveted for so many years. I feel so grateful.

This feels so sweet, I can almost taste it.

One year ago: Love in a thousand different flavours

Moving on and letting go

It’s curious that what I am experiencing since the ending of this phase of my course, plus the slow and steady ticking towards the end of the year, is actually a lot of space and openness, and yet again and again, I chose to articulate it as emptiness. Maybe it is both. Maybe it is one or the other, depending on my state of mind at any given moment. But that choice of word — emptiness — is telling and interesting.

This past week and weekend, I sat with this emptiness a lot. The growing distance and spaces between me and many aspects of my life — my slightly nebulous current relationship with work, the yawning silence I have with most all of my closest friends, my family and how I am moving differently around them, cohabiting with VC and sharing all of my living space with him again. It has been a lot to contend with, while also being acutely present to the ever-shifting minutest changes I am experiencing within.

There’s an inexplicable sense of an ending with what feels like multiple open ends in my life, and yet I cannot quite put a finger on it. All I feel very aware of is the ask to stay in the present, with all that I have integrated and all that I am today, while holding space for what was once an old way of being (in similar circumstances) without feeling too drawn by it’s lure. After all, new ways of being bring with it opportunities to do things differently, hack old patterns and cycles and await delicious new outcomes. This is essentially what the process of moving from dependence to autonomy has been for me.

The changes call for me to be a new way — which the more I do, has created so much space and silence — while that same silence and emptiness constantly triggers the old narratives and old ways of being.

And since going back to the way things used to be is just simply not an option anymore (it is physically impossible), I find that all I can really do is make as much space as I can for everything that is shifting and the changes that are coming because of it. It has meant watching and listening to some of my old behaviours as they are called to the surface, yet silently let them just be. The more I sit silently, without rushing in to do something, the more the the old tendencies to fill those expansive spaces, the emptiness, the silence with activity, with doing, with unfulfilled desires, with music, with idle chatter and more, have surfaced. And the more I am able to not give in to them, they have receded to the background too.

To witness it all without acting, has been the way in which I am able to finally tell to some degree, which of the behaviours have been comfort-seeking coping mechanisms, and which have been genuine needs from within that I must respond or tend to.

In the process, I have watched as a lot of those comfort-seeking coping mechanisms have slipped away, and it has left me quite destabilized inside. imagine trying to walk again after years of having a crutch and having that crutch taken away.

There has been a fair amount of heartbreak and a lot of grief to experience. Grief for all that is shifting, and how nothing may ever be the same — with respect to people, work, my surroundings, the very fabric of my existence even. I know deep down that in all this emptying out (which currently feels endless) I am making space for something new, and I know it in my bones that that whenever it arrives slowly will be sweet, but until then there is no denying that this process has been equally fear-brewing, as it has been thrilling.

I am hyper aware of what is changing, what that newness means to me, and that for many folks in my life, this might all be too much to take. That it might be that many will leave once again. And so I sit, wait and watch, equally thrilled at how liberating it all is, as well as how horribly lonely my world sometimes feels because of it. And like S said to me last night when I shared this with her — quite rarely, I wonder if I’ve signed up for something way beyond what I can handle on my own, in terms of how much I will be on my own.

I am learning that this eventuality might very well come true. And so to hold both sides — the joy and the pain of it — equally, with grace, and honouring my needs, mroe and more these days. That’s a step up, I guess?

There were also some other small IRL heartbreaks. Heartbreak at finally accepting — after fighting this for literally months — that we won’t be walking the OXFAM trailwalk in February next year. Some sadness that despite all my efforts I haven’t jumped back on the exercise wagon as quickly and efficiently as I’d have liked to and that I might need to actually listen to my body some more. There was heartbreak at realising that I have to still play second fiddle in VC’s family and that this may never change — not for any other reason but because it simply cannot be any other way — because it’s not on me and there’s nothing I can do about it.

We spent the weekend entirely at home, chilling. I got a wee bit of work done, and we finally settled our second bedroom into a temp home office for VC. I enthusiastically cooked a whole lot more than I usually do — in quantity as well as variety. We watched some movies together, VC and I. And there was a lot of music. I dragged myself to the gym one morning and yesterday I was determined to get our Sunday walk in, despite the steady drizzle. It was such good weather to be out, and to eat a hot idli vada after. But then, I was holed up in my bedroom under the covers all day, until I couldn’t take it anymore post 6 pm.

I am really, thoroughly enjoying my home lately, in a way that I haven’t before. In a way that feels beyond and more than the last two years through which I have anyway really loved this space. There is connection and involvement of a different degree and I know this is coming from rightfully taking my place and acting from my own power and making this space mine, which is not something I have done very much in my life so far. It feels good to be beginning right here at home and feeling the effects of it so palpably.

Three years ago: November

Reunited

It’s been a long day of two bodies — in what is suddenly feeling like a rather small house crammed further still with boxes and suitcases and bags — rummaging, unpacking, sorting and settling through much of our meagre belongings.

In the midst of it all, my plants arrived. Battered and a bit bruised. But mostly alive. My day was instantly made, being reunited with these babies again, and it caused a major distraction in what was otherwise a smooth unpacking operation, causing me to take much, much longer than anticipated. And still didn’t finish. VC left for a recce and a meeting in the afternoon while I pottered around some more, trying to get through as many boxes as possible by myself. Instead, I somehow landed on a little shoebox (of a pair of sandals I owned in 2008, I’m pretty sure) I don’t remember putting this motley collection of things into. But there I was shoebox in hand, but about to go down an abyss I didn’t know I would. It was a box full of letters and postcards and greeting cards from friends and family I’ve loved over the years, and there were also cards and appreciation posts from one of the only jobs I really loved and hated leaving. A shoebox of words of unending love and gratitude. From lots of people no longer in my life, but also some utterly lovely samples from my sister, both my grandparents and a friend who proclaimed love for me in ways I was too daft to understand then but reading the letters yesterday flicked a big tube-light on in my head.

It was a good trip, taking me back to days of yore and reuniting me with parts of myself I have somewhat lost that connection with.

It was a good trip, and the timing felt serendipitous.

All this to say, I’m still not quite back to normal programming and therefore the delayed and disjointed, rushed post. All this to say, this will probably persist for the rest of the week. Because I haven’t paused life to get my home in order. And I haven’t gotten my home in order, because, life.

One year ago: Maybe I’ll get it right next time

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

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