In-between

Bye, Bangalore.

Hi, Goa.

I don’t know if this feeling of landing up here and feeling right at home, especially now that there is a home to go to, will ever get old. It was so nice to come to a familiar space, sleep in a bed that’s mine and wake up and make myself coffee and eggs in a kitchen that’s mine.

Considering how much I have been enjoying Bangalore, and all the changing feelings I’ve been experiencing, it felt like an odd time to be going away. But I have been missing VC dearly. I suspect he has too. And, it’s always a good time for a Goa break. This time around I’m also looking forward to three days in a workshop, hopefully off the grid on the island I’m going off to.

Three years ago: Light and shadow

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Inhale. Exhale.

And just like that, we’re more or less done. Yeah, still only more or less. I’d say about 95%. I’d like some more plants — indoors and out. Art and photographs on the walls and some more essentials in the kitchen. But for now, this will more than do.

Gratitude for the privilege that is a second home. In a second state. By the beach. For all the resources — monetary and otherwise — that came our way at the right time in getting this home up and going. For my folks who’ve cheered us on right from the word go when we put in our down payment on this home. For friends who pitched in all along in so many, many, many ways — I can’t even count the ways. For VC my rock. For VC my fellow-nester. For VC my all-time partner in crime who has more or less indulged my every whim as far as this home goes.

I feel like I can breathe easy now. Just like I did nearly two years ago. And five and a half years ago. And nine years ago.

I know this familiar feeling. And last evening, I was so grateful to have the house all to myself to just soak in it and let it creep into my bones. I’m home.

One year ago: Day 3: What is life
Three years ago: Day 3: Reminders and notes to self

Food and friendship

When the kind ladies at The Lookout Journal wrote in to ask if I could write a feature on food and how it forms such an integral part of documenting vignettes of my life, I was flattered. But also mostly shocked. That a) my blog interested someone enough to ask me to write for them and b) the angle they’d taken in talking about food was quite a refreshing departure from most things I’ve seen food-documenting in a while.

I didn’t end up writing the essay. What with being smack in the middle of travel, moving cities, setting up home, and continuing to work through it all. So they were kind enough to turn the opportunity into a Q&A with me instead.

I was deeply touched by how insightful the questions were, moving away from the most obvious and usual extension of food — nostalgia. Particularly inspiring for me to get down to answering their questions was the fact that really to got the heart of the place food occupies in my life especially this year — facilitating friendship with others and with myself. 

So here it is if you’d like to give it a lookie and a read.

***

It’s true. Food is such a vehicle for normalcy and finding grounded-ness.

This is the first meal I cooked at the new home in Goa and immediately I felt at home in a way that only cooking a full meal can make me feel. Even though it was just khichdi and aloo-fry. 

VC had been eating take out for over a month since he moved in. I had to buy a pressure cooker to begin with. But I went a little extra and bought a set of idli plates, a hand-mixie too. And I stocked up on a lot of masalas, which I’d been avoiding thinking VC is not going to ever cook an elaborate meal that will require them. Soon enough I realised the stupidity of that thought process. This is my kitchen too. I’m going to be visiting often enough. As soon as I gave myself the space to settle in, spices, pressure cooker and all, I immediately felt at home.

We have since had idlis and chutney, dal rice and anda-masala, aglio olio with mushrooms and sausages. On New Years Ever we even managed a barbecue for two — VC outdoing himself with a malai chicken (which had no malai hahaha) and paneer skewers. I tossed together some buttered veggies to go with it. It was simpler than I imagined, and we had a quiet, satisfying evening of it by ourselves.

***

Somewhere in the midst of it all R came to visit, and it happened to be the eve of VC’s birthday. So we bought our favourite chocolate cake for old time’s sake to surprise him with. And then on the birthday we had dinner at a quaint little “pizza bar” in North Goa.

I’m really enjoying exploring the food here. I didn’t do enough of it when I lived in Panjim, especially in the years just before I left. So I’m glad for the opportunity to be closer north. And for friends who’ve arrived bearing enthusiasm to make me get out and about. 

One year ago: Day 2: Gratitude. That is all.
Three years ago: Day 2: Love

Taking it slow

We spent all day today — all day except for a break for lunch and a snooze — in our night clothes and unbathed, painting furniture.

Deliberate, painstakingly slow, I realised only at the end of the day that it had been quite an exercise in relinquishing control — for VC, of the rush to get the job done, and for me, of obsessing over and being ring leader to make sure it’s a “neat” job.

Waiting for paint to dry meant what we thought would be a 3-4 hour job took all day. But that was the beauty of it all. It took an unplanned activity that we got into without much thought, to make a day of it.

When these chairs came home, I assumed I’d be doing this paint job on my own. Obviously, I assumed it wouldn’t interest VC, let alone hold his attention for an entire day.

I love that day 1 began with a pleasant surprise. And a lesson for me to allow myself to be helped. Even without asking.

They say what you do on the first day of the year sets the tone for the rest of the year. And if the contentment we’re feeling right now is anything to go by, this has been a good start. There was pleasure in having head, heart and hands all in, intimacy in working together and chattering through it all, camaraderie in the occasional laughter non-stop music. And all this while creating things that will go into making our home a little cosier.

Goa a second time around has been special. This trip, especially so. Something about making a home, our own home, has triggered a lightness about me. It has freed a little bit of me in an inexplicable sort of way.

I never want to forget what it feels like to be this free. This happy. This absorbed in building a life that fits and makes sense to me. And us. This interested in scribbling little anecdotes that will become slices of memories in the album of my life.

One year ago: Day 1: Onwards and upwards
Three years ago: Day 1: Move more

Day 361: Take me to your heart

I’ve enjoyed spending a whole day at home — a first in this home. And I’d like to swap locations with VC for a bit.

One year ago: 2018: Shut up and drive
Two years ago: Day 361: Spinning the wheel

Day 357: Let the water lead us home

Gratitude: Goa homemaking edition.

I’m grateful for all the minds and hands that have gone into making a home from the shell of a house we came to some time ago. It’s taken time, and it’s been all kinds of trying, but we’re finally almost there.

I think back to how things were nine years ago when we first came here, with just cartons full of shoes and clothes and absolutely nothing to make a home with. I remember how hard it was being in a new place where we didn’t know anybody at all, figuring out places to buy essentials, not being able to afford furniture, feeling totally at sea and all alone. And I think of how this time around our experience has been completely the opposite. The sense of familiarity and homeliness in Goa aside, this time around, we’ve been surrounded by overtures of help, friends who handed down furniture, surprise interventions of the right thing showing up at the right time. And it made me realise how little of the stuff that’s gone into it is our own. It’s a product of mostly people’s kindness and generosity. Only the marginally better ability to receive it is our own.

That little makeshift kind-of settee is actually a baby bed that my aunt S didn’t want to let go of after her babies had outgrown it. So she offered it to me to keep just when we needed seating in the new home.

That teak-wood book case belonged to my great grand father, and after many years in our old Goa has finally found a forever-home in this one.

Those curtains were the first thing that went up in this home. D helped me one morning, and it was one of the first moments I felt this house had potential.

Before VC moved in here, he (and I for a bit) were camped out of D’s home for a whole month. When VC eventually moved, he took the liberty of taking a comforter and pillow with him. To use on the mattress D had passed on to us. Along with a set of side tables that made the only furniture VC has had for a whole month. Last week D handed down an extra double bed, complete with a set of side tables, completely changing over our visions of slumming it on the floor for at least 6 months before we felt ready to buy ourselves a bed.

The jute chairs in our terrace are about as old as I am, and came to us from my parents. They’re sturdy and great for sitting outdoors, but are in need of re-stringing and I hope to do that myself next week.

Our entire kitchen and bedroom wardrobes were made by an efficient, creative and very, very polite carpenter in Bangalore. My father designed and instructed him, while he built it all in Bangalore, then collapsed it all, neatly packed it, transported it to my home there, stacked it in storage. I then arranged a transporter, had it all packed and sent to Goa. The carpenter then landed up in Goa a day after I did and got to work, assembling it all in a record 2 days. Achieving this would have been unthinkable in Goa.

That dinette was my father’s idea and it trumps our idea to stick a table in such a small kitchen-living-dining space.

Starting last month, this has been a testing period — more for VC who actually lived in a non-home for the most part — in trying to get shit done. It’s holiday season and finding workmen is getting increasingly hard. And even in between much complaining and cribbing on my part, things are shaping up.

I’m grateful for all the help I got, and that I continue to get. It has been such a massive blessing as we begin again.

Two years ago: Day 357: Cutting the fat

Day 351: Love in a thousand different flavours

Weekending.

I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday pretty much like this. In front of my laptop, either working, watching Netflix or “studying”.

On Friday night, in a completely wild occurrence, VC and I chatted on the phone for two whole hours. I haven’t done that in aaaages. And with VC, never. But it was nice, chatting while we each fixed ourselves a drink and solo dinner. (So what of I had breakfast for dinner?)

On Saturday, Amma left for Nagpur and I was suddenly overcome with the thought that I was all alone. Except one never really is, and I’m learning to remember that and reach out (rather than wait to be reached out to) to others when I feel that longing for connection. So I invited myself to join R and S for dinner in what is becoming a welcome and regular occurrence with us.

Sunday morning has a new weekly ritual. A long walk. For four consecutive weekends now D and I have caught up to do this. And it baffles me how I struggle to wake up before 7.30 on a weekday but waking up at 6 on a Sunday seems to come quite easily. I joked about not having put in so much focus or dedication into much this year, as I seem to be doing for the Sunday morning walk. Except, I wasn’t joking. Perhaps it helps that we top the walk off with a single-idli-vada and a tall, strong coffee each.

The rest of my Sunday was mostly spent cleaning the house, doing some cooking — another full meal — and a visit to the in laws. Beer at lunchtime almost always means a long nap will follow. But I also binged on You Me Her and finally finished the show.

S came over for dinner then, in what should be frequent occurrence with us, but for various reasons just hasn’t been. It was a delightfully chill time. Whisky, chicken 65, rasam and rice with pretty much non stop easy, heartfelt conversation.

I ended last week feeling quite raw about my realisations about loneliness and almost immediately, almost in anticipation of the downward spiral that it could have caused, I was forced to see how much opportunity for connection there is. Should I choose to see and have it.

Today, I’ve been in a bit of a daze. Cramps + procrastinating with packing meant I had left everything down to the wire. As usual. I got all my stuff together in the last two hours before I left for the airport.

I’m off to Goa in a bit. To spend Christmas, New Years Eve and VCs birthday with him, only to return in the new year when I will not be posting as frequently. I’m looking forward to the next 2.5 weeks.

It’s time to catch up with VC, spending time with him since I have been missing it so, S is coming down from Paris, I’ll get to hang with D and the puppies, I’ll get to spend time at home that’s slowly coming together.

It’s all kinds of emotional to think I’m ending the year in a Goa that is one half of where home is. This feels interesting and like it means something and I’m excited to see where we go from here.

Two years ago: Day 351: Misty mountain hop

Day 340: Now I’m free falling

I’ve been feeling drawn to cooking again. And I’ve been feeling equal enthusiasm to make quick dinners of things as simple as eggs and toast as I am for the the slow, laborious, long-drawn out way that the food I grew up eating is made. I realise that primarily, it is the act of using my own hands and brain to create a meal that gives me that kick of dopamine. It happened last week when I made a large pot of pulao, some faux cholle and a mashed pumpkin sabji. And it happened again today when I cooked this meal for A who came over to spend the day.

What is it about this kind of food that takes one right back to ones roots, that spells home? Today it was the wispy fragrance of the just-boiled beans from a freshly released pressure cooker, or the crackling pungent hit of coriander seeds and crinkly red chillies sauteed in coconut oil, or the weedy robust and palpably green smell of freshly barely wilted dill spun in the mixie with fresh spices and coconut, that kindled a warm fullness in my Heart.

A full plate of this sort makes me indescribably happy. And to make and share this with friends — complete with granularity, texture and a transference of the tedium that this sort of meal requires — is extra special. 

There is something about labouring over the food that sustains me. An experience I take for granted on a daily basis when I casually waltz over to Amma’s and eat at her table, and of her giving. Perhaps it’s the slowness, or the act of proceeding in a sequence of actions, or just the sheer meeting point of all the senses, that taps right into that deep, primal dormant fire that is stoked every time a good meal is in the works, and immediately invokes a feeling of connection to The Source. Of belonging. Of roots. Of home. 

Two years ago: Day 340: Happy high

Day 323: So we want to stay, but we can’t find peace while sitting

Back from a weekend away at Auroville with A. I’m feeling enriched and energised. It was the kind of getaway where we meant to be away for one night but ended up staying two. And even with the extra time, spent 70% of our time with our noses stuck deeply in our respective books, stopping for nothing but meals, wandering in search of meals and chatting about past and future meals for the remaining 30% of our time, all the while contorting our lazing bodies into shapes conducive for uninterrupted reading but that gave one of us a crick in the neck and another to finish three books over the weekend.

A has been telling me about the poetry of Jeet Thayil for a while now. I’m not too big on poetry but sometimes something so apt comes my way and makes me wonder if it’s time to venture into these unexplored territories. In an unexpected coincidence while hunting for what to read next, I stumbled on this absolute piece of perfection, which I have just discovered is in his recent collection.

Home

Give me a home 
that isn’t mine,
where I can slip in and out of rooms 
without a trace, 
never worrying 
about the plumbing,
the colour of the curtains,
the cacophony of books by the bedside. 
A home that I can wear lightly,
where the rooms aren’t clogged
with yesterday’s conversations,
where the self doesn’t bloat
to fill in the crevices.

A home, like this body,
so alien when I try to belong,
so hospitable
when I decide I’m just visiting.

Arundhati Subramaniam

Of course the collection has made it to my TBR list, immediately. But it’s also worked itself I to my newly content heart where I will allow it to germinate, unfurl slowly, watching closely as this idea of home takes new form in my head yet again.

Such a joy to be home, to travel, to have this sense in two places, and yet feel anchored within too.

Two years ago: Day 323: Holiday reading

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

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

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

Things that have changed:

  1. VC has surprised me by being the worked up, easily hassled and frustrated one of the two of us this time around. Every time that we’ve been in a situation like this in the past, with life up in the air and very little control on what’s going on, I am usually the first one to cave. This time around we’ve reversed roles and I’m pleasantly surprised.
  2. I’m excited to be nesting again. But this is the first time we’re doing in a home of our own. The energy has been so different this time around. I’ve always thought I’m the sort who likes to daydream about homely spaces, and be in love with the idea of a lovely home, more than I actually have the will to act on it. Every time that I have felt a burst of inspiration to do anything around the home, it fades immediately after bare minimum is achieved. Perhaps this is because none of those spaces ever felt fully like my own. I’m noticing how much free-er we are able to be with decisions and spending money on the things we want to believe we deserve now that this home is for keeps. I’ve watched amazed as we’ve taken swift decisions and extended ourselves in uncharacteristic ways, with all things to do with the home, these past few weeks. There’s been a lovely sense of permanence about this that is so new and enjoyable. I’m almost envious that VC is the one who gets to enjoy this new space all on his own before I ever will!
  3. Maybe it’s for the same reason that I’ve also felt far more connected with this home. And it’s the newness of it all that spurred me to do this. I’ve never been one for rituals. Especially if the house warming sort. But something has shifted in recent time, making me create rituals of my own. Little acts of faith, grounding and sincerity that probably have no place in religion, but mean something far more to me than my supposed religion ever will. And so I lit a lamp, and gathered these cards in the name of prosperity and celebrating new beginnings and sent out a wish to the universe to bless us as we do this. This song and dance of nesting that we’ve done so many times before. And yet this time it seems so very different.
  4. After largely being emotionally in tune for the most part of the last many many months, I’ve been front a bit frayed these past few weeks. A sense of loose ends, everything up in the air, an unsettling front of everything around me building up to something but having absolunk idea what, and the stresses and strains of thisove have left me quite beside myself. I have felt disconnected and it’s shown on more than one occasion. All of which was revealed in this card reading for today. I long for some time to root myself again and the coming weekend promises just that.

Day 303: Quiet movements where I can find

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

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

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

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

Day 246: August

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

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

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

And you have to just leap.

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

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

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

How do I begin? Where do I begin?

And these absolute gems, in the answer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 225: Heavy mottled love

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

Two years ago: Day 225: Ele day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 169: Home where my love lies waiting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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