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

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Monday funday

VCs been home since Friday and he was to leave today. But happily enough, a fortuitous work plan emerged that had him extend his stay by three days. At this point it really feels like the universe is pushing to really make this home base again.

Anyhow, extra time is always a good thing. So we took off to catch up on some errands and snuck in a lunch out about town together too.

I could get used to Mondays that begin like this.

One year ago: Every inch of sky’s got a star
Three years ago: Disjointed, incomplete thoughts

Eleven

There was a moment some time ago, in a conversation (with someone whose opinion I hold very close) about the wonders of living apart from one’s significant other, when I was asked if the need for space and distance meant that maybe I’d left my marriage in some manner during this past year of living apart.

The question really stumped me, hitting me like a misguided pellet right between my eyes.

The thing is, I have been generally so absorbed with discovering myself and been so involved in all my own personal pursuits, that the thought hadn’t occurred to me. The decision not to uproot my life here and follow VC to Goa last year had come very naturally. At a time when I had come to realise that this part of my journey was important for me, it was also increasingly clear I needed the space and solitude I could only get in a somewhat “unpartnered” state. So when the opportunity to live apart found its way to us, we’d both said yes.

So to be asked if maybe this had caused me to leave actually made me stop in my tracks. I had to really think hard if that was true. Even in some measure.

I pondered about whether there is such a thing as too much space. Whether growth in such separate (and immensely impactful) ways might have each of us blindly hurtling towards an inevitable future apart rather than together? I pondered the difference between growing together and growing apart and which of the two I have witnessed. Was it one over the other? If so, which one?

It’s hard to pick, honestly. Because it has been a little bit of both. At different times. The time apart has enforced in equal parts some essential separations as well as some important intimacy.

I thought about whether this steadfast individual focus on myself, with minimal obligations to my marriage had possibly triggered a solitary life that there’s no coming back from. It took me a few days of quiet discomfort and much silence to accept that a lot of all of this is true, in varying measures, at various points of time this past year. And yet, in some very fundamental way, it isn’t entirely true.

So much of getting to know myself has been about digging out a pure sense of self by peeling back the layers and making space for the authentic self that lies deep within. And it has been impossible to do this without looking at myself in the context of every one of my relationships. This has brought with it a fair bit of push and pull, changing dynamics, uncertainty, loss and disappointment. Many relationships haven’t weathered this turbulent time, and yet some others have. Many haven’t lasted the test of seeing the whole, true me as I am discovering myself and learning to step forward in a that new way.

Except, for VC. Who has consistently been the only one standing by me. When the fog has lifted after a particularly uncertain phase, when I’ve been slowly walking through the nebulous parts, and come forth in all my unsettled glory, I have always found him right there. Seeing me just as I am.

This past year, the journey to knowing my true self has been a lot about really seeing who I am, and allowing that version of myself to be seen too. I have only very recently realised that this is an impossible space to navigate unless one has a sense of safety, kindness and compassion. Both from within as well as from the most important relationships one holds.

And in that sense, I have time and time again come to realise that this is my safe space. More than enabling the physical reality of this life, my relationship with VC has held emotional space for me to journey on. To take chances, to flirt with uncertainty, to push boundaries, to make new ones. Even when things have been somewhat fluid and shaky ground, I have always felt confident that there’ll be a way for us to find togetherness. Despite everything that emerged for me and for him. All the changes that we have been pushed into, and pushed ourselves into, and all that it has demanded of our relationship.

I only realised recently that this is a sense of safety and of coming home.
Of acceptance, of peace.

Of having the unfettered support of someone sees me, with an open heart.

Of being seen with complete kindness and love.

Like feeling deep in my bones, this belief:

I see who you are today,⁣
I cannot wait to see who⁣
you become tomorrow.

And so today, eleven years since we got married, nearly thirteen years of knowing him, I feel a renewed sense of love and gratitude for what I have with VC.

Eleven years ago, on this day, we took a pretty naive leap of faith into the wide open uncertainty of a future together. From where I sit today, I feel a sense of tenderness and love for the young people we were. So in love, so happy, so confident at the prospect of a life together, without having even the slightest inkling about what life would bring or how it would mould us, separately and together. And what an exciting, challenging, fun ride it would be. Or if we would weather all the change that would come our way as a result of it.

It’s the kind of leap of faith only the very young can take, I think. Because all I really felt in that moment at that time, was blind faith and a deep gut feeling. Faith that whatever life would bring, it would be better to do it together.

And it’s exactly that same feeling I rediscovered this past year. The space to face anything, safe in the knowledge that whatever life brings, it will be better to do it together.

It’s what has allowed me the wings and the springboard to fly from cradle, knowing fully well that when I return, I will land right back into the lap of safety, peace and complete acceptance.

***

So at the ripe old age of eleven I’m going to make a sickly sweet public display of affection usually only characteristic of young love.

To appreciate all that my marriage has brought to my life this past year. I’m grateful that when the need for space arose, we were both able to see it and take a chance quite effortlessly. To have two homes, in two such varied places, offering me the best of both the coupled and uncoupled life to shuttle between, to find a new normal, is a privilege I am present to, and grateful for, every single day.

The ways in which it has shaped we have moved, grown and evolved individually, and how we have re-shaped ourselves as a unit, has been special.

Mostly I want to to appreciate the gentle, kind and loving man that VC is. He gives me much to aspire for in this regard, and I’m only now getting to a place where I can see him for who he is. As he is, without that desperate burning desire for more, for something different.

The way in which he sees me. The way in which I felt seen this past year.

It’s taken a long time, but this year, I want to remember that I have learnt this from him — the ability to be grateful for and to wholeheartedly love what I have, as it is, exactly as it is.

So to answer the question I began with; no, the choice to live apart hasn’t been a leaving of my marriage in any manner. It has been instead, a stepping stone to coming home again.

One year ago: It’s just the nearness of you (ten)
Two years ago: Nine
Three years ago: Eight

***

Past anniversaries: ten, nineeightsevensixfivefourthreetwoone.

On writing about my emotional process

Somehow all of this silence within, is turning into a real lack of words, both verbal as well as written. This time around, though, I’m experiencing it with a lot of acceptance of the silence. Like I’m settling into it quite easily. It feels right, and there’s a strange new distance from the need to put words to what I’m going through internally.

It’s been interesting to witness because every time that this has happened in the past, I’ve struggled to accept it fully. I’ve acknowledged it and maybe even talked about it, but deep within, I’ve always felt like something is a miss. Not being able to write/talk about what I am going through has always meant something is wrong. Words are and have been a crucial part of my process. And I am grateful for the place they have and the role they have played so far. But I see what has changed now.

This is probably what happens when one puts in a conscious, intentional effort at being emotionally integrated, and reached a point where that effort finally begins to kick in. Things find their place, things settle, things find their natural containment, little spills over, and that’s it. It just is, as it is, and nothing needs further investigation. I’ve found that I don’t seek confirmation/affirmation/validation for any of this from myself, and I’m seeking it less and less from outlets that face the outer world. Like this blog, for example. What I’ve come to realise is that for me, the more I am okay with everything as it is — the slow pace, the self-doubt, the frequent transgressions included — the less there is a need to assuage the niggling confusion and doubt by putting out crystallised, neatly packaged bits of writing explaining it all.

Of course this is all WIP. Maybe I’ll still have days where I’ll wax eloquent about unnecessary details of my emotional process nobody needs to hear, maybe if you’re coming here for articulate emotional writing you’ll have to make do with less of it, maybe I’ll write about many other things, many this blog with transform yet again. But for now I see that when the need for validation ceases to be the primary focus of the sharing, the words have ceased to flow and there’s less inclination or willingness to dissect and verbalise every little detail as much.

Let’s be really honest the reason behind the need to write and track this journey comes in great measure from the need to validate my own process (even just to myself), to track my journey, to have some proof of having a semblance of control or a handle on it. To note this tiny little shift also feels like I’ve let go that much more, loosened up internally. And I don’t need proof of it.

I have not been this much at ease and peace with myself in…actually, probably, ever.

One year ago: You shoot the moon and miss completely
Three years ago: Ferry days

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

Brain noodles

Last week was an important one for me. Several small, subtle shifts that signal other important changes seem to have clicked into place.

I ended three days of class feeling a strange sort of separation, like growing up and feeling ready to fly the nest. Last time, this feeling came with a fair share of angst and difficulty in accepting this natural progression. But this time around, just four weeks later, something has shifted.

I surprised myself with how ready I felt to do the work, to take my place, to stretch myself, to allow myself to fumble, make mistakes and ask for help.

Some significant, memorable things:
I met up with a friend after a whole decade and was delighted to find how easy it was to pick up the pieces just where we left off, even though our lives have moved on so much, in such immense ways.

I hit 7k on my run last week. It made me giddy with happiness.

I woke up one morning to some super cute baby photos of myself, from an aunt who used to be one of my most favourites until some weird shit caused her to isolate herself. Waking up to them pictures, and her little anecdotal message recalling things from a time I obviously don’t remember, was precious.

That pesto fried chicken burger that hit the spot.

Three days of really rigorous learning that I still haven’t recovered from. The weekend was a blur of much napping, and mostly staying in. Even though I cancelled morning plans, ostensibly to sleep in, I did make it to the gym because I seem to have hacked my system to go to bed early and wake up early too. But that aside, it was mostly a homebody weekend until I took myself to watch Vir Das last night, all by myself, all the way in Whitefield. Yeah, I continue to shock myself.

Vir Das has always been a favourite, and after last night’s show I think I’m pretty sure he’s in a league of his own. I can’t wait for this special to make it to Netflix.

Three years ago: Wandering, right here at home

Tender mornings

My gym is right next to a school and the time I finish up usually coincides with the start of a bright new day at school. So everyday, as I exit the gym and head back to my car, I encounter scores and scores of girls (it’s a girls convent) rushing along to school. I see a range of faces and feelings — some scampering happily, some shuffling reluctantly, some others dreamy and still half-asleep like they’ve been prepped and pushed out the door without their knowing, some holding on tenderly to the hand (or sometimes just a finger) of a parent chatting with them intently, some with an older sibling also in a uniform — a larger version of the themselves, some looking unsure and untrusting of what lies beyond the gates clearly in need of coaxing and cajoling. It gives me such delight to see old, familiar sights — little human beings carrying bags bigger than themselves, under-shorts peeking out from beneath the pinafore, neat and twisty well-oiled braids with ribbons drawn through them, knee-high socks (sometimes held up by rubber bands), sleepy eyes, bright eyes, tired eyes, jaded eyes. School mornings bring them all.

Most of them pouring out of over-stuffed autos and mini-vans. So many rushing by from neighbouring lanes and alleys or walking to shcool from home. There’s usually too many kids scurrying about for me to drive off in a rush, and so I wait patiently. Watching all kinds of big and little girls filing out vehicles, house gates and arms of their parents to face the start of a new day.

There’s a dreaminess in the way that these children take themselves school. An innocence and smallness in the small limbs, the gentle eyes and the supple bodies that are little human beings. The softness of their spirit shining through effortlessly. The default slow way in which they seem to take their time with every step of the way.

It’s become a good way to begin the day — watching this menagerie, motley crew. I catch myself observing keenly, sometimes smiling to myself. Because it reminds me of myself in school, and the start of new days. I’ve always been a morning person, and even though there have been some mild changes with that in my adulthood, I think deep in my core I am a morning person. I have steadfastly avoided making such definitive sweeping declarations about myself of late, but today, watching the same show that I have all year now since I rejoined the gym, it hit me — I frikking love mornings. It’s my favourite time of day.

Today, the realisation struck a tender part of me. There’s an incredibly soft, open quality to mornings. Something about the beginning of a new day, the brimming over of possibility, the immense privilege that is another day. And it felt especially visible in watching young, bright girls off to school.

I’ve always wondered what it means to wake up and be grateful for another day of life. It always seemed kind of redundant and stating-the-obvious, but today I think I woke up to a subtlety that’s been so far lost on me. It’s why even on days when I struggle to wake up, or I want to just lie in bed all day, or when the weather makes it impossible to see the sun, mornings still signal the vigour of a new day. Another brush with the freshness of life, meeting with another full day, potent with opportunity.

The sun comes up, and off we go, with yet another chance at life itself. And how much I’ve taken that for granted, day after day.

One year ago: Cake by the ocean

Run

This is the sweaty, but thrilled, messy but smug mug of someone who hit a significant running milestone the other day. That it happened out of the blue, unexpectedly, despite running on just four hours of sleep thanks to a moment of temptation that resulted in a caffeine-addled brain that didn’t shut down till 2.30 am, is a thing to celebrate. And yet, just to have taken myself to the gym, to find the energy to surpass my daily target by a whole kilometre, felt so, so, so good.

I hit the 6k mark, in just five minutes over my usual running time. It took running for ten minutes more than usual. It took pushing. It took a little more sweat and pain. But it felt so good.

I don’t know if maybe the remnants of caffeine were responsible for the extra energy and power. Or maybe it was the playlist for the day.

How does one not feel like running when this comes one?

Or this?

Anyhow, lying sleepless in bed the previous night, I was worried how I’d get through two days of class with limited sleep. But I managed just fine. And I think making it to the gym and getting that spot of exercise in had something to do with it.

I have so enjoyed exercising this year. Minus the rigid need to make all the self-made rules. Minus the unrealistic goals. Plus a whole lot of listening to my body, giving it the right amount of stretch it needs, while also resting when it asks for it, an eating what I want when there is a craving. I’m back in the groove of things, and I feel like I’ve found a sweet spot that work for me. The right routine, the right set of workouts, allowing myself that little bit of flexibility and ease, and the right goal — consistency, not numbers.

Even on mornings when it’s slow to start and the going is hard, it takes about fifteen minutes of being at the gym, pounding my feet on the treadmill, letting the music kick in good and proper. I have to stretch myself just that much and from that moment on when the sweat begins to roll, when my legs begin to do the work, I feel like I could fly. What a massive high that is.

I can tell something has changed when there’s an ease and a flow about the way in which I am able to carry it out. And this has happened with other things in life, but this is probably the first time there’s an enjoyable flow about exercise an I am so enjoying the twist in the tale.

Three years ago: Friyay

Just 365 days

I stumbled on posts from just one year ago, and went down a rabbit hole reading my writing from this same time, last year. It’s just a matter of 12 months. And yet, that set of posts felt like the writing of a whole other, wildly different person.

365 days seems like a lot, but in the larger scheme of things, it’s not very much at all. It’s just one revolution around to sun. And I’ve done 35 of them, so nyyeahh. But still, I couldn’t get over how much I sounded like a dramatically different version of myself. Just so telling of what a ride this past year has been.

365 days is not a lot, when I think of it as just a number, but it begins to feel immense and like a faraway time in the past when I think of just how different everything was then. And how it is now.

At this time last year, I made several references to being on the brink of leaving Bangalore yet again. On the work front, I imagined I would go back to writing full time. I was cruising the high of a task accomplished, finished, fully done because that’s what I thought of my work with self-development — mostly done. I had this notion that I’d embrace the #foreveralone life, given how the friendship department was flailing. I had some vague inkling of needing to live a different life, alone, to facilitate finding myself and had kind of resigned myself to be the one to move somewhere to make that happen. How, where, when — I had no idea.

So much, so much, so, so much has changed since then. And for once, I am not quickly following this up with “and yet so much remains the same” suffix, because when I look at me, my surroundings, my life as it is today, it hits me how much everything has changed.

I stayed put, and have grown to love Bangalore. Somehow, we managed to fulfil that wild desire to live alone. I went from swearing I could never do long distance relationships to managing it quite well, and getting a bonus of many, many trips to a second home in Goa. I moved further away from writing full time. I realised I’d only merely scratched the surface of my journey in finding myself. I pulled the lid off on that and dived in, free-fall-style. Many of my friends from then have left my life in some measure or another, the ones that stayed have deepened. And there are so many more people and closer connections today, somehow. All of this was unthinkable last year.

365 days ago, this was not even a distant possibility, it was not even a considered reality.

I hadn’t pictured myself or my life like this.

I sent one of the posts to S, to share my shock at how somewhat unrecognisable I felt of my own self from not so long ago. But truth be told I also felt a little pleased with myself. To see how far I’ve come, and what is possible even in just a single year.

In the words of that older avatar of myself I sense hope and determination, even in the face of abject uncertainty. An unvarnished real rawness. And I immediately felt a deep fondness for how wide open and hungry for change I was. I’ve been talking about softening up, but yesterday I saw an immense softness in my own words. A soft, open readiness for life, for change. It comes across in a childlike innocence of not knowing how much that openness would actually be met with amazing possibility. A cluelessness about how all I had to do was receive and drink it up as best as I could.

I didn’t know any of this then.

It’s only now that I can look back, and see that uncertainty and confusion, difficulty and bumps in the road are those openings that life brings. Moments to change gears, to do something different in order to land a different outcome, to move and grow. Heck most often, the discomfort of all of that is the inflection point for growth itself.

I didn’t know it then. It’s only now that I can look back and feel a sense of relief, and joy, in realising that yes, it’s just 365 days, but it can do a lot to transform a life.

One year ago: Took some time to celebrate
Three years ago: Farewell to the rain

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

Up and about

Last week, starting with the weekend, was so great. Much happened, and yet much of my time was spent at home, all by myself, and in silence. Many epiphanies, a slow churn, and some big shifts. And yet, I just didn’t feel like talking about any of it.

I am wondering if maybe it’s just time to talk less, because I do feel another round of going inward has ensued. I’m trying to go with it. And maybe that’s why I’ve been quiet around here. But I also realised that in some measure I felt shut down from all the news around me. It’s just been a lot to process and make sense of.

I don’t usually stay very clued in on what’s going on in this godawful world and country of ours. I am informed, but I don’t really go into anything at length, or in depth. But with the news about Kashmir flaring up like it did, with the lies in mainstream media, and the possibility of staring more violence in the face, I got drawn in.

The trouble with getting drawn in and having literally nowhere no talk about how I feel — real and present fear at the pseudo-democracy we’re becoming — I have totally withdrawn. I am surrounded by chest-thumping ardent supporters of the current fascist regime, and it is getting increasingly hard to see this happen, as well as air even the slightest word of dissent in my surroundings. In addition to the facts about the horrific turn of events in the news everyday, I am also experiencing mild trauma and feeling let down and abandoned by people around me that I thought have better brains, people I thought to be thinking, rational, humane human beings.

It is a lonely place to be. And this kind of fear and hopelessness makes me shut down, which is what happened to some degree last week, and maybe explains my excessive silence.

***

On Sunday last week, D and I went for walk again. We beat our time from just one week ago, for no apparent reason except I feel like it was just such a good morning. The air was crisp, the clouds grey, with just a hint of the sun shining through. It was followed by a breakfast of idli-vada and a strong hit of coffee, as usual, with the requisite giggles — at ourselves and people around us. I realise these are little habits and rituals that have made some parts of living in Bangalore really come alive and mean something more to me.

I managed to catch the live taping of Kanan Gill’s upcoming Netflix Special called Teetar, that happened in Bangalore last weekend. I am thrilled to be finally witnessing so much live stand up comedy — it’s something I wanted to do for years now, but simply couldn’t access the good stuff in Goa.

The show was funny in parts, but didn’t really come together for me as a whole. I eft feeling only mildly entertained, and also a little old. The average age in the audience being much lower, and seeing as how they were hugely entertained with constant rollicking laughter, I think maybe I’m just too old for some of this shit?

I’ll give credit where it’s due though — Kanan Gill was funny in parts and I think it takes some skill to put an hour long special together and make it to Netflix. It also happened that the entire bro-gang of comedians from Kenny to Abish and Biswa showed up and were seated in the row right behind me, making me thoroughly star-struck for a bit.

***

I’ve been feeling an overwhelming love for this city again. I find it hard to explain. Even as things are visibly falling apart, I find myself enjoying being here, I am so much more at ease and something seems to have just clicked into place.

Maybe it is the idea that this life here will somewhat be complete with VC’s return. And maybe the anticipation of it has helped me settle in just a bit. The living between worlds, great as it was, had left me feeling a bit suspended and ungrounded. I feel roots again, tender baby roots that may go any way they please, but for now are happy to be flirting with the idea of being here. Fully. I simply cannot wait for October.

***

I’m still feeling pretty tentative — there’s a lot going on within me that seems to be taking it’s own sweet time to settle. I am in no rush, and I am also aware of how much I am not trying to figure it out this time. Instead, just letting it be and do its thing.

I just have a hunch that big things are in store, changes are afoot. I feel the stir of that subtle movement that is slowly gathering pace. Like a small gentle lapping patch of water that travels miles before it turns into a gigantic wave.

One year ago: I request another dream
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: finding new comfort in old places

Three years ago: Ele day

Content

It’s been a glorious rainy, Bangalore monsoon day. Probably not the best day for it, but I spent the entire day out. And it was good, after a weekend of excessive solitude.

I’m getting more comfortable taking the slightly long route to take the metro wherever possible. Especially on a rainy day like today when I got ghosted by two consecutive Ubers, who had collectively kept me waiting 25 minutes. There’s a sense of liberation in not having to depend on another human being to get anywhere. Though I noticed, to my utter delight today, that all the trains I took were being driven (is that what you do with a train? drive it? suddenly I’m not sure) were women.

It was nice to be out and I realised how much I crave invigorating company and conversations that make me tick. A rare spot of daytime drinking to start the week was not a bad idea either hahaha. S has a way and we have a way together. It was a good idea to start the week this way.

Completely satiated, mind and body, I stepped out to of the restaurant, to get back home, only to find profuse rain. That typical feathery, persistent as hell Bangalore rain that comes down like a gossamer veil that feels like it’s not too much, but stand outdoors and you’ll feel it envelope you completely.

There’s potentially a lot to say today, but I’m just not in the mood for it. I feel strangely quiet and content. So, that’ll be all.

One year ago: Hold on to this feeling, when dreaming of leaving
Two years ago: Book ends

Three years ago: Stack overflow

Birthday love

My father celebrated a birthday today and we marked it with an Asian meal, two chocolate pastries and presents from Anokhi. I suppose it’s a good day when it’s your father’s birthday and you get to take home the gift.

***

I haven’t really opened my laptop in over ten days now. I briefly considered it when I thought I I’d catch up on Big Little Lies only to realise last week’s episode was the season finale — that went by too soon. But OITNB has a new season out and somehow I haven’t been inclined. I haven’t checked my email or posted off my laptop either. I seem to be reaching for my kindle more than j am my laptop or phone and I’m wondering if that’s someone related to the internal containment I’ve been feeling suddenly.

***

It was a quiet and peaceful day. Like every other day this week. And I’m just marvelling at how much things have turned. Sometimes I have to pinch myself — the contrast is that unbelievable.

As I near the end of another week I’m feeling grateful for the love, friendship and camaraderie I took in this week, for the wild displays of affection I recieved, the quiet support and confidence I drew from people around me and for the lessons I’ve learned.

One year ago: If it’s written in the stars, then it can be read
Three years ago: Cycling in the rain

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

All my worries seemed so far away

I drove a total of 109 kms yesterday. Which is not to say I went anywhere really far away. Just the usual routes dropping and picking VC up, with the visit to the cafe and a couple of drives to my sister’s place and back, and an evening spent at the concluding showing of art work for her children’s monsoon workshop.

Driving around in the rain gives me seriously unfounded levels of joy, so a day that involved that much peacefuk driving, while the rain lashed down, was kind of a given.

But it was also a fine lesson in the art of letting well laid plans crumble away haplessly while life emerges as it should, and simply going with it.

I was a tad stressed about finishing packing and winding up ahead of time, and the only purpose that slight stress served was to ensure I finished it so well ahead of time, that I had a day that suddenly opened up the way it did.

I had been feeling a bit like even though Niyu, VC and I have spent nearly the whole month together, with the stresses of the health emergency, the travelling back and forth to Bangalore and back, and VC and Niyu coming down with the flu back to back, we didn’t really spend too much time together, doing the things we would otherwise do. The last four weeks have been tenuous, and the stressful energy has petered into every step we have taken, weighing us down and making me feel like a shrunken version of myself, almost. I haven’t had the will to do much. And even though my head has felt the longing, my heart hasn’t responded. I know it’s been the same for VC and perhaps Niyu too.

So it was great that I got a surprise day like yesterday, when coincidentally, the rain came down as hard as it did, but something in the air around us lifted. My spirits perked up, I felt energetic and willing to venture out and off we went. Brunch was had at the cafe, followed by a spot of lazing at home in the afternoon before we took off for Niyus showing which was a delight for me to witness.

I don’t often get to see my sister at work, at close quarters, but when I do, like I did yesterday it always overwhelms me to see how much she’s put together for herself, how far she’s brought this little homegrown venture full of heart, from where she began and how much the work she does means and touches the hearts of little children. Yesterday was one such day. The setting, in what was easily a 100+ year old Portuguese villa unfancily maintained with sparse furniture and plenty of skylight, was just perfect. I helped her set up the showing and we waited for the kids to arrive with their folks.

Once that was done the plan was to head home and cook some dinner and eat in peace, together. But we let that plan slide and be dashed too, to make space for the spontaneous rain-induced urge to eat gopi-manjuree. And so we went to an old favourite neighbourhood dive, sat under a tin roof that rattled relentlessly under the incessant rain, nursing whiskey-paanis and gobi munchurian.

In the midst of all of that, we chatted and gossipped and I broke into a laughing fit like I haven’t in weeks now. In fact I don’t remember the last time I laughed that hard — a big, loud, rolling, full-bellied laugh that came from the depths of my being and shook me to the very tips of my fingers. And while Niyu admitted that it was in that moment that she realised she was fit over her illness, it was in that moment that I realised my own heaviness had lifted in some measure.

I really needed that kind of loosely spooling, unplanned day to go with the wind (or the rain) just as I pleased. I really needed this cocoon with VC and Niyu. I really needed to get out.

I’m not sure if it’s some kind of cruel irony or just a strange kind of perfection that my last day in Goa was the best day I’ve had all month. Whatever it is, I’ll take it. With both arms.

One year ago: My moves are slow but soon they’ll know