The sun. The sea.

The sun comes out. And we make it to the beach. A swim in the sea, a dip in the pool, a stunning #nofilterneeded sunset.

I’ve been thinking a lot about money lately. Specifically in context of earning my own again, and chasing some of the experiences I want. It’s easy, when one does that, to lose sight of the experiences one has, that one is in the midst of, the luxuries one already affords, all that is accessible and a privilege. Not to say, of course, that one must aspire for or dream of having more, but the luxury of coming from a holiday on the hills to a week of some more relaxation in a home in Goa, and being able to take off and check in to a resort for a night to be closer to the sea, hit me today. And while I set my eyes on future goals and targets, I want to also acknowledge all that’s in my present. I’m grateful for today. For the sunset. For the sea.

One year ago: The wild unknown

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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

Good juju

Yesterday was such a good day. It started off extra emotional. Happy, but I was feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of emotions that was bubbling up, and I was feeling every little thing so intensely. A day of deep work and learning somehow released the heaviness of those emotions and left me feeling light and energetic.

As is becoming habit now, I hung out with D who very graciously kept me company for best two hours after class. We played around with my tarot cards, as I had time to kill between class ending and dinner with these two monkeys.

A birthday dinner two days too late, but a good birthday dinner nonetheless. There was of course as always such joy and kinship in spending time with S, but there is something so reaffirming about hanging out with a bright and engaged child. U, with his long-winded stories (some that will have to be finished the next time we meet!), his hyper-observant yet childlike insights, and his cute face of course.

On the way to dinner, I watched the just-released Coke Studio episode, tearing up in a shared cab. Tearing up from the joy of the good music, from the live chat I was having with S parallelly discussing the new tracks with such energy, and for the instant sense of nostalgia Coke Studio evokes in me for my friendship with S and J from Goa and the things we used to do together. I missed them both so very much yesterday.

***

I’m grateful for all the love I have in my life. I receive it in so many different ways from so many different sources and places, it’s amazing how fulfilling that is when I stop to think about it.

One year ago: Come if it feels right, now is the time to be
Two years ago: Postcards from Goa
Three years ago: Stuff

Like hitting reset

It’s really been a satisfying week away (VC puts it aptly here): quiet, contained, overwhelmed by the nature I’ve seen (this was my first time in the hills in the north), peaceful, unhurried, easy, slow. All the many cups of great adrak chai (tea in the south of India isn’t a patch on the north!), the many, many meals of paranthas, the forest walks, the babbling river, the astonishingly good apples fresh off the trees, being constantly watched by the mountains, the smiling faces and pink cheeks. And yet, there’s so many little, little things that have happened that remain with me and that I am slowly processing. Some experiences, some moments, an epiphany or two, some special moments (like being given gifts by hosts of both our airbnbs), some coincidences, some conversations, the two books I read, driving for a majority of our return journey witnessing the changing light and landscape.

I feel so full. And I’m ready.

The hills have been unexpectedly special and I would be lying if I said these seemingly empty and slow few days haven’t touched me in a deep way. I feel somewhat changed from this past week alone. Maybe I will get down to talking about why and how in the days to come.

I feel a new lightness and freedom as I go into a penultimate session of class for this year, with an all new level of unpreparedness. Letting go of something old, another layer of control and perfection, and testing something new out for myself. It has been freeing so far, and the fear I anticipated would kick in, hasn’t as yet. As serendipity would have it, I will be the first to present tomorrow, in just twelve hours after returning from holiday where I’ve been deliberately cut off from all forms of prep. In a way it means I can finish on my own terms, before I even allow anyone elses presentation to affect me with standards that aren’t mine, but it also means I have little time to warm up.

I’ve hit reset, I think.

I’m going headlong into this. Blind like I should. Open like a child. Small like a fresh bud. With no desire to perform or outcomes to live up to. And it is an absolute first for me.

***

Grateful for access to therapy today. For N, for how safe and accessible she has made this journey. For how therapy is down the road and a short walk away from me. For the ability to have a session over skype. For the gentle and judgement-free space that it has been.

There are some days, when I look back, wayyyyy back, and I realise how far I’ve come. So far, I almost feel like a different person. Today is one such day and I realise I couldn’t have done it without therapy and learning.

Three years ago: New eyes

Mornings

The new season of Coke Studio is here and I’ve watched the first (and the only) BTS video they’ve released half a dozen times already. It has Atif Aslam speaking some super refined Urdu (that makes me weak in the knees and gives me major heart-eyes) about knowing and feeling grace in the ways in which it shows up in nature.

The immensity of the universe and the ways in which the magic is seen, unseen, known and unknown, including all that we can understand and have a knowing about, and all that is beyond our limited comprehension, all that is tangible and everything beyond that is nebulous and intangible. Sometimes just thinking about this immensity is overwhelmingly joyful, almost intoxicating.

Mornings here in Manali have had me really feeling that.

As I heard him speak, I immediately felt a resonance with that inexplicable sense of quiet awe and contentment that I’ve been sitting with every morning as I draw the curtains open to undisturbed views of these mountains towering over us, kissed by the rising Sun.

I’ve been sunbathing hard for the short window that I can. Sitting in the balcony khaoing as much dhoop as possible because the sunlight in the mountains is different. It’s bright and harsh but so gentle on the feel. But most of all it’s been invoking that sense of awe and smallness in me. There is a constant distant hum of the Beas rushing by endlessly, punctuated by the occasional thud of an apple falling from a tree in the orchard. The birds singing, the doggie on property frolicking chasing fruit flies, a low rumble of traffic whizzing by, someone doing their laundry on a nearby washing stone, the smell of morning tea brewing, a smoky fire kindled in the vicinity.

It’s been peaceful.

It’s felt like grace. And sometimes, especially in the morning light, divinity.

***

Gratitude today for all the people we’ve stayed with on this trip. The shy, quiet but very respectful and hospitable hosts we’ve had. And for the warmth and generosity we’ve encountered everywhere.

One year ago: They’ll be making sure you stay amused
Three years ago: When the going is crazy

Meditate

Been devouring Devotions and I can’t help but think this was the right time and the perfect place to lose myself to the full force of Mary Oliver like it engulfs you in this book.

On Meditating, Sort Of

Some days I fall asleep, or land in that
even better place — half asleep — where the world,
spring, summer, autumn, winter —
flies through my mind in its
hardy ascent and its uncompromising descent.

So I just lie like that, while distance and time
reveal their true attitudes: they never
heard of me, and never will, or ever need to.

Of course I wake up finally
thinking, how wonderful to be who I am,
made out of earth and water,
my own thoughts, my own fingerprints —
all that glorious, temporary stuff.

The more I learn about mindfulness through my own experience, the more I want to discard everything that it’s become in its modern Internet-ivised form and the less I want to rely on anything at all that I’ve read about it online.

The more I experience this zeroing in to the present, no matter where I am and what I’m doing, the more I value my own keenness to discover and deepen it for myself, in my own way.

Mary Oliver has a gentle, unaffected way of putting the loftiest ideas in words so simple, the melt into your skin and slip through the pores reaching that spot only you have ever gone to before.

***

Yesterday while VC climbed over rocks and streams to get to a vantage point to take his evening picture, I found a rock for myself. And then I just sat and stared at the river for nearly a whole hour. It was easy to just do nothing, watch a bulbul dip in and out of the icy water, listening to the continuous roar of the water as it gushed over the rocks stopping for nothing, and watching the glistening surface of the water change as the sunlight changed. But it was also really hard to resist pulling my phone out to snap pictures to instantly share with my family and some friends. It’s just so easy to slip out of the moment like that. And it took some effort and deliberation to come back. And just breathe.

Gratitude for words, silence, breath and presence today.

One year ago: September
Two years ago: Things change
Three years ago: Shifting gears

Out and about

I had this teacher in highschool who I could never decide if I liked or not. She taught me history, which I enjoyed, but she was also mighty old-school British in her ways. Telling us to sit with our legs crossed and to be polite and demure.

She constantly chided me about having my head in the clouds, asking me to come back to Earth and pay attention. What she means was stop daydreaming, stop being imaginative, stop thinking for yourself. I know she had an impact on me back then.

Anyhow, all this to say, seeing this sight soon after the sun rose, after driving around in the dark for two hours, felt like I’d woken up with my head in the clouds.

En route Chandigarh to Manali, we’re driving ourselves through valleys flanked by blue mountains and emerald rivers gushing by. This is my first time in the hills. I’m excited.

***

Grateful that despite it all, this is a country that’s safe enough and allows me the freedom to get around and explore.

One year ago: It’s dark and I think that I would give anything for you to shine down on me

Alone time

I’m learning what it means to take time. To make time for myself. These are things I’ve been slowly easing into. And I’ve watched my comfort levels with doing this go up and down, observing where I am comfortable doing it and when I am not. It’s all so telling.

Beyond the obvious lessons in putting myself first and boundaries, I’m suddenly seeing how this goes right back to a deeper process of individuation and growing closer to the needs of an inner self that doesn’t always have a loud, expressive voice to say what she wants.

This is the first time that despite having VC visiting, a rather full weekend and the usualy overriding temptation to abandon everything and be with him, I got out willingly, easily, and made it to the workshop I’d signed up for weeks ago. Instead of rushing home, I went over to Koshy’s and had lunch by myself, after.

I’ve been doing this solo thing for literally years now. Long before solitude and activities for one were cool hashtaggable millennial concepts, I’d watched movies and had meals alone in Bangalore and really enjoyed it, when I was merely 22-23 years old. In Goa, being self-employed and largely deprived of my kind of friends, doing things by myself really became a way of life without much thought or choice even. But this feels different. Of a deliberate choosing, not coming from rebellion, minus any guilt, not as a fall out of some rejection or another. But from a place of a deep and simple need that has shown up, asking to be seen.

The gifts of solitude, whether in an indulgent, luxurious getaway of some kind or simply enjoyed eating rasam-rice out if a bowl in bed — you do you and choose what you will — are seriously underrated. And somewhat lost, and just diluted in what has become the predominant narrative around self-care these days. It isn’t about buying stuff and experiences and consuming more to feed the capitalist machine that’s profiting from our angst and collective efforts to discover ourselves.

Ultimately it isn’t about the meals and drinks consumed alone, or the spa dates or tubs of ice cream. Even as I started there, unknowingly, it has only now become about feeling enough in my own company. Of feeling safe, held and sufficient. Of feeling steady, still and solid in and of myself.

As someone who lamented the lure of loneliness that always lurks in my life, this feels different. This feels new.

On my way to Koshy’s, zipping through traffic on MG Road, thinking these thoughts, I was gobsmacked my a bright blue butterfly that flew right through the auto I was riding! In through one side, fluttered around attacking my face, and out through the other, all while we were scramming through moving traffic in the middle of the city!

If that isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is. This feels like all new growth. And this too is new.

***

Happy and grateful to be in a good streak, physically. Waking up early, feeling energetic, feeling the urge to use my body for more than just getting around, challenging and stretching myself outside the limits I am comfortable with. I said to D this morning, that something has clicked into place for me as far as understanding exercise and what it does for my body goes. And he put it perfectly by saying maybe I have pivoted. Haha.

I think it’s true, though. And it’s what I am grateful for that shift in understanding, because this time around it seems to have come from deep within. Not motivated by only fitness performance alone, or only aesthetics alone. There has been minimal deprivation, plenty nourishment in a mind-body kind of way.

This time around it feels like the outcome of a deeper connection with myself. I’m grateful for this.

Three years ago: Too many words, so here’s a copy out

All heart

23 kilometres run this week.

An important, excellent therapy session.

A morning dipping my toes into authentic movement and expressive arts to explore what’s held in the body.

Ten hours of extremely satisfying practice and study with S and V.

A day spent with S.

VC is home.

An afternoon at Koshy’s by myself, writing letters.

It’s left me feeling fresh and pulpy perfect as a greener than green slice of avocado. Light as a balloon ready to set off floating aimlessly into the clueless sky. Open like a just bloomed sunflower chasing the sun obediently.

Happy, like me.

***

Happy and so grateful for the metro today. I know I’ve said this a lot lately, and S joked saying I should be the poster child for the Bangalore Metro, but it has been a truly life-changing shift for me. To go from thoughtlessly jumping into a cab, to now always making sure I have fifteen minutes extra to make it to the Metro, more often than not, has altered a lot for me these past few months.

One year ago: It’s just another ordinary miracle
Three years ago: Sticky trash

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

Free

Every now and then there’s a day that’s so good, it takes me by surprise. I began yesterday with a run in the park — my first real, proper outdoor run. And by that I mean, not a walk-run-walk-run run but a legit long-distance run. And by long distance I mean 5+ kms. Truth be told, I didn’t know what it would be like. I was pretty sure I’d walk more than run because I know how running on a treadmill is a bit of a hack because it sets a steady pace and you have to just keep up. Not to undermine the effort and stamina that takes — I have seen how little by little I have gotten better and steadier at running on the treadmill and pushing the kms a little everyday. But, I always believed outdoor running is a whole other ball game. I have also never had the sort of endurance that I do now.

And yet. Yesterday was such a revelation. First of all, it was a cracker of a morning. Many hours of rain the previous night meant there was a crisp nip in the air. Not bitingly cold, but just perfectly cool enough. The sun was beginning to peek out ever so subtly. The park on a weekday is 100% better than the park on the weekend. I began with a slow and steady jog, picked it up to a comfortable pace and then kept waiting to go out of breath and feel the need to walk/stop. But that moment never came. Pretty much until the end of my 45 minute stint, by which time I had inadvertently clocked nearly 5 and a half kilometres.

I was beyond stoked. Not just by the numbers, but the sheer thrill of being outdoors and seeing actual results for something I have been silently working at. Something about the lungs expanding the way they do in the midst of greenery, having my heart race and breaking a proper heavy sweat even when the weather is chill, and winding my way through a green, green park, slowly but steadily, feeling so, so, so tuned in and focused.

It’s taken me a long time to consider a mid-week run in the park. It’s taken me longer still to get out and do it alone, even without company. But it was so good, I maybe considering doing it more often.

In the evening, Niyu and I took ourselves out for an early dinner to Koshy’s. We ended up having breakfast for dinner — omelettes, chicken sandwiches and a plate of smileys — between ourselves, with a large rum and very iced tea as a mixer. Then we ducked into Hard Rock Cafe to catch a Thermal and a Quarter tribute gig to celebrate 17 years of their very first album.

It was the kind of evening that was like going back in time. A real life throwback Thursday, if you will. Not just because I got to hear TAAQ again after so many, many years, but because they performed in the OG set up with Rudy stepping in for a few numbers, the groupies and crew returning to reunite in celebration, and also something about rock and Bangalore churns up the somethings-will-never-change feels for me. It was really like stepping back in time. The vibe, the people, the excitement. It may as well have been 2003 in Zero G which was my first time hearing them live. I was all of 19, and there at the behest of Niyu, but also lured by the idea of watching a boy who had semi heart-eyes for me perform. It was a time before mobile phones, let alone camera phones. And so we didn’t document anything back in the day. But I have vivid memories of having such a good time, and drinking way too much more than I could handle. It was a simpler time when we managed to get home safe, even over-inebriated, no cabs, no cell phones. Good times.

And so I relived it all last night. As an adult. And it made all the difference. There is a new self-assuredness and awareness of myself and the space I occupy at social gatherings that I am suddenly very aware of. That little bit of self-consciousness that always kept me one step back from the thick of it seems to be slowly peeling away. I feel much more at ease and comfortable in my skin, I have loosened up in ways I didn’t even know I could or needed to, and I am able to step in and have a good time with little thought.

Yesterday was such a freeing day.

One year ago: One night to speed up the truth (Amsterdam. Day 1.)
Three years ago: Control issues, part 2

Special

So, I had a craving over the weekend. Quite late, long after I’d finished my dinner and settled into bed.

It melted in the time it took to get to me. But it was still so effing good. Is there anything better than a night-time craving to complement that binge-watch, that arrives at your doorstep without so much as your lifting a finger, all so you can eat it in bed?

I think not.

***

I spent all of yesterday with S. It took me over an hour to get there, and over an hour to get back. And over the course of the day, the weather went from bright and sunny (but not hot) enough to need sunglasses, to dark and gloomy with torrential rain. I missed the post-rain traffic mayhem though, and was home just long enough for it to settle, before my dad and I took a family friend out to eat an Andhra meal all the way in town again.

To be able to zip around, back and forth, even when the city is chaotic — these are not luxuries I take for granted.

Over dinner, the friend asked me if I prefer to live in Bangalore or Goa. In the past I’ve firmly said Goa without so much as a thought. Then there was a phase where I said both, and expressed joy at having the option to shuttle. Yesterday though, I caught myself saying “Bangalore, for now” without batting an eyelid.

There is something special about this truth and how deeply it has settled within me, lately.

I’m truly grateful for this life and all that it affords for me, for now.

One year ago: Fickle and changeable (Bruges. Day 1.)

Satisfaction

Today was such a satisfying day. After ages, I’m ending a day feeling really full.

It began with my weekly animal flow class that I am really, really enjoying. It’s been the perfect answer to all my my-body-needs-something-more-but-I-don’t-know-what feelings. A good combination of being sufficiently challenging physically, while also being a tad mind-bending so I have to also exercise my brain to get the mind-body coordination right, and at the same time focuses on both strength in terms of how demanding it is, and aesthetics in getting form and lines right. I am really loving how it mixes things up for me on any given week.

As of yesterday, since I am almost fully back to normal health-wise, I have returned to my bare minimum food intake. Two days is all it takes to feel squeaky clean and light again and I love that feeling.

I binge-watched Working Moms over the weekend, and I wrapped it up this afternoon. It was a good watch, and I have many thoughts on diversity and inclusion, since watching it.

I had a marathon 4-hour study session with D and S today, which was so good for me. It’s only been 2 weeks since my last module but time has expanded and slowed down so much since that it feels like a distant event and I was beginning to feel rusty. But I was glad to know that’s my imagination. We had meandering discussions, revisions of old concepts, just the kind of intellectual stretch and a bit of sparring, challenging and  and going at each other that I am so lucky to have with them. It’s a combination of feeling safe enough to do it with them, but also know that it will be met with an adequate and able push back that will be useful.

D made us these utterly sinful chewy chocolate chunk cookies. And I came home to a pack of Andhra biryani that Niyu brought back for me.

I’m so satisfied right now. Sigh.

One year ago: I don’t know if it’s even in your mind at all

It was all yellow

Even though VC made a trip to Bangalore to be with me on our anniversary, it was the most mundane, regular day we could have had.

My favourite kind of day, really. The kind I am sorely missing having more of with him, and the kind I am desperately looking forward to having more of when he returns for good.

There were yellow flowers. Of course. (Like so, and so, and so, and so.) We began the day super early, for a Sunday, at Cubbon Park. D and I, for the customary walk, and VC roaming around with his camera and pocket tripod, taking pictures. This was followed by breakfast at Airlines, post which we got back home and back into bed. to stay there for the rest of the day. I’m not even kidding, slightly.

We lazed around, chatting, watching Netflix, doing our own thing, I may have even doxed off a couple of times. We only got out of bed to fix ourselves some lunch, and eventually only at 7 pm, when we couldn’t push showering and leaving the house any later. We had dinner reservations at a hip new Chinese bar house in town that I have been dying to try. I couldn’t decide if lure was Chinese food or the cocktail menu. Maybe it was both.

Yellow seemed to be the colour of the day, really. And it gave me a lot of joy to wear a newly made blouse, in a really old saree of amma’s to dinner.

Dinner itself was a strange 50-50 combination of amazing and underwhelming. The cocktails we had were outstanding (I had a plum G&T which was OMG), one appetiser and the noodles we got were exceptionally good, but two things — one main and the dessert — were strictly meh. We giggled about how that was even possible. But I want to go back for a second shot, to assess things better. And have some more cocktails. They were to die for.

Aside from stepping out with VC and having more beer than I normally do on any given week, the rest of last week — Tuesday onwards — went by in a blur of mostly trying to fight the bug and only succeeding in keeping it beneath the surface till it fully took over on Thursday. So I cancelled the rest of the week fully, in favour of staying in bed.

On Sunday morning, I took myself out to a talk on What next for Kashmir. I feel a greater sense of keenness in understanding my world and what is shaping it, a desire to listen to more narratives than the mostly unidimensional ones of my very privileged world, and a greater responsibility in how I engage with my world. It was a tremendous talk that has stayed with me and left me with thoughts circling my brain even today.

Since I was feeling almost 80% better, and since the talk was all the way in town, I carried a book along with a plan to take myself out for a solo lunch somewhere, while I read. I had no plan or specific place in mind. But I bumped into S at the talk and was so happy to spontaneously have company over lunch. As usual we ate well, a shrimp roll for me and a pulled pork sandwich for her, as usual we yakked nine to the dozen, and as always I came home charged, energised and inspired.

There’s something about getting out to play, at play in my life. Slowly the pieces are coming together and things I have been making meek, small attempts at for months finally seem to be finding some direction and purpose.

I feel a greater sense of allowance, for and of myself. Quite unknowingly, I am giving myself permission to do things, to move in certain ways, to make choices, to present myself in a certain way, to allow space for expansion, in ways that I hesitated to, or didn’t think I was worth, or believed I wasn’t ready for, or waited for “good reason” for until now. Whether by way of indulging in a good meal, several mid-week beer, an extra kilometre on the treadmill, that new book spontaneously bought, a tailored dress, or whether it is to listen to my body when it’s asking for rest, spending three full days in bed if necessary without fretting, doing nothing for no apparent reason, pursuing the smallest things simply because I feel like. This is very new for me.

I genuinely feel my life blossoming because of it. This past weekend I realised this in full measure. My body hasn’t taken ill in this way in over a year, but in giving it rest as soon as it needed it and not resenting the illness like it was something to fix, I watched how I bounced back miraculously, and in record time. There is without a doubt a certain fullness I am feeling in my life, a genuine expansion and a blooming in full measure. There is so much to live and give and my cup, it runneth over. Over and over again.

One year ago: One breath leads to another
Two years ago: Grow
Three years ago: Empty

Plain joy

Speaking of ordinary joys in unexpected places, sneaking up on me, leaving me still and silent

  1. Watching the beanie-wearing skinny little girl on the metro, no older than 5 or 6 years, devouring a 5-star bar with gusto
  2. The rainbow I caught quite by accident, even though it wasn’t raining
  3. That sweet, smooth way in which I transitioned from 6km to 7km, when I wasn’t even trying too hard
  4. The moment my favourite song from last week came on and filled me with a burst of energy to keep running
  5. The sunlight that filtered through my bare curtain-less windows that morning, waking me up slowly and truly
  6. Getting caught in the downpour and being in no rush to fight it or beat it to get anywhere
  7. Finding the exact same pair of shoes I was looking to replace, so now I have a new old pair
  8. That totally unnecessary but hit-the-spot hot chocolate fudge after that spot of drinking to begin the week
  9. Finding a delightful specimen of that elusive breed of very good tailors
  10. Fitting into an extremely well made saree blouse — a first in way, way too long
  11. That audible crunch on that first bite of that pesto fried chicken burger
  12. That first animal flow class and how amazing, warm and flushed my face felt at the end of it
  13. That first sight of gol-chashma wearing VC waiting to be picked up at arrivals in Bangalore

Some of the most joyful moments of the recent past have come at me in spaces I wasn’t looking. Spontaneous, unexpected, unpredictable.

And in the moment, each one of those moments filled me with a soft delight, a quiet thrill. So profound, yet gentle, lapping across my body and making my mind feel melty like warm cheese, and making my heart quicken just a touch, simply from the sheer sense of life in each of those moments.

One year ago: Shine a little light on me