Seasons

Observing the quiet, natural way in which the planet gently and purposefully moves, signalling timely moments of birth, blossoming, life, rest, recovery, strife, renewal and eventually death has come to hold a lot of meaning for me. I’ve unconsciously internalised the message about everything happening in it’s right time, all things — even difficulty — having a place and a purpose, so deeply in the last couple of years, that it has become natural to now see a tree in full bloom, or absolutely leaf-less and immediately feel a connection.

Flowers, plants, butterflies, dragon-flies, moths have taken on a new meaning, when I spot them. Nature holds so much more. The earth has called out to me in so many ways.

It’s how I observed some days ago on a Sunday walk, that it is that time of year again.

The start of the same cycle that I have noted before.

Here. As hope, in a time pregnant with uncertainty, but promise.

Here. When I experienced the transience of time and how insignificant my worries, and I myself, felt in the larger movement that is life.

And here. Symbolic of the the despair I was experiencing then.

Looking back I see a movement in how I have moved in experiencing the same phenomenon as distress, to eventually hope. It’s telling for how much power there is in working through distress, even when everything is saying don’t go there, and processing it. Not so you can forget, forgive, or deny and minimise the effects of a difficult time and the pain it may have caused, but so you can actually integrate it in your being, in a way that eases the power it holds on you, to move on with ease.

Yesterday, I wrote a post on Instagram about trauma, and how the most human tendency towards processing it is avoidance. And how holistic methods of therapy can actually work in ways that befriend feelings in order to loosen their grip.

One year ago: Move, move, move
Two years ago: There’s nothing here to run from 
Four years ago: Major leaps, minor struggles

Flow, flow, flow

For a while now, I have been aware of the fact that the ups and downs in my energy and attitude towards working out everyday, has carried a message for me. I have, as far as possible, tried go with the — giving in to the needs to be slothful as much as working the high energy bursts to my advantage. But it has been a tad sad, to have to see the absolute high of last year’s energy in this aspect of my life change so dramatically.

The message has mostly been about coming back in touch with my body. To listen when it is saying something — whether asking for rest, or a change in form of exercise, or an indulgent rich dessert — whatever it is. Just to listen. Some clues have surfaced when I have, but it has been a challenge to still the mind and it’s need for rigid routines and perfection, and allow for that listening.

Yesterday’s tarot message was, unsurprisingly, mostly for me. It is already very, very true for me — when my mind is well, my body is too, and vice versa. Which is to say when my body isn’t well, it’s sometimes something to do with my mind. After years of training myself to listen in, and the years I have spent exposing myself to a holistic practice like Family Constellations, I now turn to look at what inherent connections I am missing, before I jump to medicating myself.

Anyhow, after many months of chipping away at a return to fitness on my own last year, and the uphill task of trying to sustain that some rhythm this year even in the face of clear and present need for change, it was suddenly time for an intensive movement workshop that I had signed up for last year.

I spent this past weekend in an intensive two day level 1 certification of Animal Flow, a practice I have been tracking for some years now. I’ve watched in awe not just the flair and flourish with which these flow-ists practice, but felt very deeply attracted to the mind-body connect it inherently requires, the slow, mindful way in which the movement flows, and the way in which the practice always feel so grounded — literally — since it is performed bare feet and on all fours.

This ground-based, quadripedal, body-weight movement training is focused as much on strength and power as much as it is on flexibility, agility and grace. It draws heavily from primal movements typically seen in animals, and is a beautiul framework of movement that has an insanely high focus on building greater neuromuscular connections and performance.

Again, bringing me right back to the mind-body connect that, even as I dole out as advice to so many people on a daily basis, I have been unconsciously moving away from in my own life lately.

The opportunity to certify myself as a level 1 practitioner finally aligned for me, after three missed chances, last year. I grabbed it back then, no knowing what 2020 would hold for me or if I’d even be around, and that an early commitment would mean I would prioritise it. And yet again, unknowingly, most serendipitously the timing couldn’t have worked out better.

Just when I have been flogging myself for not being able to just get with it, and get regular with my exercise, just when I have been not listening to the cues I’ve been getting about trying something more grounding, more in tune with being outdoors, something a little more challenging than the comfortable rhythm I have fallen into, it was time for the animal flow weekend.

And it kicked my butt. Physically, and metaphorically, both.

Despite being in a very good place as far as my body and fitness goes, I have been struggling since the start of this year. Waking up has been hard, my body is clearly demanding a new rhythm from me that I have not been very willing to give it. For eg: I have not stopped to wonder even once, why it hasn’t been hard to wake up and get to Sunday walks, as much as it has been to wake up and go to the gym everyday. The answers are there, pretty clear, if I had chosen to stop beating myself to go against the grain, than lean in and do what my body was asking for. More outdoors, more nature, more unfussy practices, less rigidity, less routine, less flogging.

At a time like this, there’s quite nothing like spending two full days around serious fitness aficionados and trainers — I was one of only 2 members in the group that were learning it for purely personal reasons — to shake the ground beneath one’s feet. The rigour of the training was way up there, because it was geared for fitness coaches, but I enjoyed every bit of it.

The thrill of a new skill, new tricks, and a 1000 new possibilities that lie ahead as far as working out and fitness goes, is high. But what’s more, I felt an intense mind-body connect over the last two days, and spending the whole time crawling about on all fours, doing those moves over and over and over was just the kind of big dose of physical grounding I need right now.

There’s also quite nothing like a good challenge for the body to remind me once again what’s emerged as important points in my fitness journey goes. The weekend brought me right back to remembering how well these have worked out for me recently:

  • Being honest and realistic about my expectations and goals
  • Focusing on what feels right and noticing when I find flow
  • Being grateful for my body, where it is at, and all the it enables me to do

I’ve already made the shift from focusing on fitness as the pursuit of slimness to focusing on it for strength, health and wellness. This past weekend I felt myself feel into my body, at a cellular, muscular level, and I daresay I really enjoyed the experience of what my body can actually do, in a very, very different way than ever before. There was a very deep, primal connection I felt with my limbs, my muscles, my skin, for my brain, for how incredibly crazy it is that we can learn new things and get our bodies to work in new ways. AND THE BODY JUST LISTENS.

Overwhelming. And humbling.

I guess there’s something to be said about non-fussy, no-equipment practices like this, or even yoga, that just use the body as the best instrument that it is. It touches and activates a very powerful, primal spot that is in all of us, that either lies dormant, or covered in heaps of layers of gunk for the most part.

I keep thinking about how the word flow keeps coming to me. My my experiences, conversations, how it’s emerged as a focal point, a goal, a measure of goodness almost. And it’s so uncanny that I literally learned another way to flow yesterday. The synchronicity is not lost on me.

One year ago: In-between   
Four years ago: Light and shadow

Finding flow, and flowing with it

It’s been over a month and a half of doing tarot card readings for people. At the end of practically every one of these sessions, I feel a bit in awe with the realisation that if there’s one utterly human thing that connects us all, it is the basic desire to understand ourselves.

It’s very grounding and humbling. Levelling, unifying. As much as we are diverse and unique, we’re all also much the same.

The pursuit takes different meanings and manifestations for each one of us, but at the heart of it, is always a desire to “make sense” of the machinations of our minds, hearts, desires and stimulations and getting them all to align from time to time.

Since committing to sharing my journey and learning, and stepping into what Bert Hellinger calls The High Art of Helping I try and stay in touch with what feelings are evoked in me when I engage with clients and am in the seat of The Helper. It’s usually where I find clues for what I need to still see in myself, what parts I am yet to integrate and possibly to unpack a little bit more, the complex machinations of my own spirit mind.

It is a process that while very satisfying, evokes a simultaneous helplessness and the desire to do more, reach more people (because I see how common and universal human struggles are) while also drumming up the soft rhythmic beat of a series of gentle yeses that affirm I am in the right place and this pace is just right.

Like I said, grounding and humbling. Levelling and unifying.

***

At some point in the last few months, I made a slow and almost inconspicuous shift from the pursuit of flow, to just flowing with it when it arrives. I’m somewhere in the process of making friends with the up and down natural rhythms of my body’s energy, my minds willingness to be motivated and push through, and the sweet spot when the two meet and find alignment. I don’t recall exactly when, but I do recall having a conversation about it with S and saying, perhaps this is just it then. I welcome the highs when they arrive, and ride them fully, enthusiastically. And I give in to the lows with as much welcome, allowing for rest, if that’s what it is asking of me.

Working with people in the way that I am these days is also asking for a lot more emotional and mental energy than I imagined. I know I will develop ways to conserve and protect my energy, as I go on, but that is a curve and right now I am at the very bottom of it. So it has been taxing, depleting and quite revelatory.

Which explains perfectly, why my energy hasn’t been uniformly upward or even plateaued. I’ve seen wild ups and downs and for the first time in my life, I have been able to go with it peacefully, rather than grit my teeth and fight the natural rhythm of things.

***

And then there have been days like today. Three readings, two of which were in-person, in my home. And two more enquiries from people who I’ve done readings for last month — my first repeat clients!

Today has been a super demanding on me, but also super satisfying for all the same reasons. It’s been a day of flow. A day that flowed. And I was able to just go from one thing to another with ease, enjoying thoroughly, every moment of my work. I live for days like this, and I’ll bookmark this one to remember.

One year ago: Renewal
Two years ago: You guys, I must be the luckiest alive
Four years ago: Beach bum

I’m alive

WHAT. A. DAYYYY-YYYYY!!

1) It started at 7 am. For making it to the gym, two days in a row. Yes I’m now down to celebrating this, because January has seen the exercise streak take a severe beating. One that I was happy to just go with, till it led to unbelievable levels of sloth that I had to just ride out, I suppose. An upward spike in energy since the weekend has meant I am back, once again. And two days in a row made me insurmountable happiness first thing in the morning.

Working out to this on repeat a handful of times probably also had a major role to play.

2) Also the fact that I started loading and refreshing the Election Commission’s website at 8 am today. It was bound to be a good day, right form the get go by the look of things. But boy, I was not prepared for just how good Delhi came through!

This is probably what reaching tipping point feels like. When the status quo has been hella shook, people have no fucks left to give. I’ll admit, I had a mad sadistic happiness watching the results, with BJP getting absolutely pissed on, and Congress, walloped. Every cell in my body feels relieved. And insurmountably happy that after years of wondering how much lower will we have to go before there’s a glimmer of some push back, some turnaround, this happened.

The single-minded hate campaigns have had me really disillusioned lately. That this is a state’s response the country’s current ruling party got, for what was probably the lowest, most despicable, disgustingly hate-laden, vilest campaign possible makes me happy no end.

Kejriwal’s “I Love You” to Delhi punched me right up in the feels today. I feel hopeful that as a country we know better, we want better, and even though it might be a long and painful road ahead, this victory makes me feel hopeful that we will not settle for less. Not anymore.

I read this couplet somewhere today, and aside form feeling really apt for the turning point that today is, it really, really touched me:

tū shāhīñ hai, parvāz hai kaam terā
tere sāmne āsmāñ aur bhī haiñ

Translation:
You are a falcon, flying high, your purpose
And you have so many undiscovered skies ahead of you

This is what hope looks like.

3) And as if all that goodness was not good enough, I watched Little Women. It was an impulsive plan to tag along with S and S and I wanted so badly to “revise” the plot of the book before I went but that didn’t happen. I kept repeatedly mixing up details and plot lines and earlier televised and cinematic versions with Pride and Prejudice (*eyeroll*) and I was all kinds of confused until right before the movie began. But OMG OMG OMG — what. a film! Came home so utterly confused about why Soirse Ronan didn’t bag the Oscar for Best Actress.

It was just beautiful — stunningly re-imagined, picturised, shot and edited. And just such a delight to see a film so full of powerhouse women taking so much screen time, uninterrupted by men who are just mostly in the background. It was poignant, and I could personally relate to so many little nuances of each of the characters. Their pains, sorrows, joys, triumphs, confusions, disillusionments, frustrations and ecstatic successes alike. It was touching and joyful, heart-wrenching and uplifting, simultaneously. Experiences that show me humanity, and duality are fast becoming top experiences in my book.

4) We shared a plate of the best potato wedges after the movie.

Yeah that’s it. That counts for a darn good happy day in my books.

One year ago: Super power
Four years ago: Fail

Coke love

Something about flights and travel brings back Coke Studio to me in a big, big way. Every single time.

Did another massive on-repeat listen of my Season 12 favourites all the way to Bombay, thinking fondly of this warm evening we had at home in December. I actually physically hurt with a longing for how much I miss this music-filled, perpetual-food-coma, period in my life from the Goa years that was super-charged on a bonhomie I am yet to experience since then.

Listening tot he entire playlist made me super nostalgic, as usual. Enough to want to check ticket prices to Berlin for another reunion. Hahaha.

PS: Also, I’m running out of descriptive titles for this repetitive Coke-Studio-Love kind of post

One year ago: Glowing within, growing within 
Two years ago: What you seek is seeking you 
Three years ago: Busy times apparently

A sense of wonder

Off to Bombay tomorrow for a third workshop. And as I sit here today, with a just-packed suitcase, I’m still a bit gobsmacked to be making a “work trip” that though isn’t panning out the way I imagined, is already offering up so much more that I just didn’t imagine.

There is a huge sense of wonder in this building a new practice up from scratch. I have been feeling quite like a little child who has just got her hands in something entirely new, thrilling and riveting.

I want to soak up this sense of wonder a bit longer. Wonder and awe at how quickly and organically, yet ever-so-naturally, this avenue has unfolded for me. And how absolutely new and undiscovered everything is. No rules to play by, no predecessors to follow, no milestones to hit. Just one step in front of another, and on I go.

***

There is this feeling I get at the end of every workshop. When we’re sitting in a circle, sharing final thoughts, exchanging glimmers of where each one of us is at and riffing off of that, I feel a rush of being in the midst of immense courage. I always feel gratitude for that courage. The courage of every single person that shows up at a workshop. It’s easy not to see it as that, because I know I went into my first workshop some years ago, feeling quite depleted, defeated and “weak,” in that sense. I was looking for answers I so desperately wanted, and I was certainly on the back foot, facing life.

The truth is, though, taking a step towards healing is always a step of courage. It takes great inner strength, strength that one might not even know lies within, to seek wellness. It is a glorious, almost divine space to be in, when you surpass the fear of what change will bring, and you throw yourself into the abyss. For me it meant that anything was better, more promising, than the place of stuckness I was in. I wanted out, and even though it took me a long while to get there, sitting in that workshop was a first courageous step towards finally doing something about it.

I know it takes fighting a serious amount of fear — of what people might say, of what it makes them look like, of what might surface, of the discomforting truths they might have to face, of oh so many things, really — to take that step. So yes, gratitude for people’s courage. Courage in seeking better for themselves, and courage in trusting us with helping them to navigate that path.

I know now that focusing on self-development means focusing constantly on confronting this fear that is always just two steps behind. It means making a habit of making courageous choices in our own interest. Choices that often make us feel selfish, guilty, self-indulgent, every single day. It means facing that voice of fear and shutting it down and doing it anyway.

These days I have a new measure of maturity and responsibility. It is in taking control of one’s situation and seeking better. Even if that means making a choice towards that wellness, in taking that step with a sense of fearlessness. In making that choice even in the face of words of caution from within and around. Those are voices that usually operate form fear. Fear of being perceived as reckless, wasteful, silly, wishy-washy, even. It takes emotional maturity to want to push past that fear and do it anyway. And I have an immense of wonder for that aspect of courage. And respect for anyone in whom I sense that spark of fearlessness.

One year ago: My heart is a bloom
Two years ago: We are children that need to be loved

On blooming

It’s nearing that time of year when the Jacaranda blooms in full fervour and intensity all across Bangalore. It’s one of the first signs, long before the hay fever and really warm days, that spring is upon us. It marks a slow coming to life after the snug days of winter, (even though we didn’t have much of a winter here this year – boohoo) a gentle blooming of life again, after a period of germination.

For some time now, as I have been seeking and feeling alignment within, I have also been observing patterns in nature. These age-old cycles that have been keeping rhythm of life for billions of years. Announcing periods, setting the pace, informing us in so many ways about when to slow down, when to keep pace, when to rest, when to retreat, when to conserve energy, when to step on it and ride it out.

I’ve been thinking about about natural rhythms and seasonal cycles, and how much it impacts the state of my body and mind. And I’ve been thinking about ways to observe closer, in order to find a deeper alignment. Because there is without a doubt, a benefit in this for me. Much of my work over the past few years has been in finding my own natural rhythm. A pace of life guided by an internal axis, rather than one set by the world around me that runs to a different beat.

I’m nowhere close to where I’d like to be as far as working in rhythm with natural cycles goes, but I am trying to make a deeper habit of tuning in and tuning around. Watching the moon cycle, noting my energy levels through the month, seeing what changes within me, as the seasons turn. When am I at my most energetic? And what can I do to maximise that, so that I can seek rest and retreat guilt-free at the times when I feel the lows?

I have been big into practicing staying with my pace and inner cues, and not going against the grain of late. And so, spring is about coming alive again. A liveliness that I have been feeling bubbling over all through January. But even so, I have felt the energy peter out in the last ten days or so.

It makes me wonder, how aware are we of the natural signs around us? Urging us all the time, gently and by example, that everything is cyclical. That there is no growth without descent. No spring without winter. No rainbow without rain. No full moon without new moon. No life without death.

Being in tune — whether it has been in taking to plants and dabbling in a bit of gardening, watching the moon and observing my mind and body through the cycle, running when I feel like it and lazing when I dont — has affirmed in many a way again and again, that growth has it’s own pace. It’s own milestones. It cannot be rushed by an externally kept schedule.

To ready yourself to bloom often requires long periods of inaction — whether you think of it as germination, autumnal period of your life, hibernation for self-care or whatever you will — it signals the necessary time of pause. Of stillness that is needed to first drop below. To peel. To shed. To let go and leave behind. In order to heal, nourish, nurture what lies beneath. And eventually to move on and about. To reach out. To evolve. To thrive.

To bloom.

One year ago: Sparks of joy
Four years ago: So, is this a blogathon?

On being

Very quietly, I stepped into a new life and into a new role — that of a practitioner and helper (as we call ourselves in Hellinger’s system of Family Constellations) very early this month. First with putting out my website, then with inviting tarot sessions that flew in thick and hard, and finally with two Family Constellation workshops on consecutive weekends these past two weeks.

Even though I very silently slipped into this new space some weeks ago, and it has been a busy time since, I really felt like I had landed in the very centre of the space that is this feeling like a whole new identity for me only yesterday, at the workshop.

One of the threads of Hellinger’s Family Constellation philosophy, is the idea of a spiritual conscience. And even though we have defined it in words so many times over the years in training, and I know in my head what it is, I have struggled to really understand what it is. I have had no counterpoint or marker in my outer world, in real life to pin it to and say Ah! Yes, this is what it is.

I have over the years understood it as many things and concluded that perhaps it is all these things at different times. A spiritual realm, a twilight zone between that which is known and that which can only be experiences, a sense of flow, a connection with ones higher conscience.

Yesterday though, at the workshop, I really landed — and I mean to reflect the deeply visceral experience that I had facilitating a full day’s work in Family Constellations — in this new space. I felt firmly in my mind, body and heart, that I was in the space of a helper.

It felt like safety.

It felt like alignment.

It felt like all was well with everything around me.

It felt like everything was as it should be, in the right place, in the right way.

It felt like a great sense of harmony flowing within and out around me.

It felt like intense satisfaction and intense purpose simultaneously.

It felt like perfection.

It felt like grace.

It felt like flow.

It felt like I have hit solid ground, and yet floaty and airy like I could fly endlessly.

And I realised at some point, for a brief moment, mid-work, that perhaps this is what the experience of the spiritual conscience is. The dance of the movement of one’s spirit, when it is unencumbered and free to move in the way that it needs.

When I get out of my way.

When I surrender, over and over, to the call from within.

When I find a deep inner connection that feels in my outer world like I am being guided mysteriously.

I also realised that this experience of the spiritual conscience is not an end point like I have imagined in the past. It is an experience that will come, when all things are in alignment, and go, when it must.

Yesterday was a blissful, immensely satisfying and rich day for me. I can only hope some of it translated to the group of folks that attended. And I ended the day just so grateful to have found this work and to be sharing it with the world in my own small way.

One year ago: Learning to let go
Two years ago: Sorry seems to be the hardest word
Three years ago: 2017 book beginnings
Four years ago: Perspective

On emptiness

Committing to a life of getting to know myself a little more intimately has meant consistently peeling back layers and layers of protective fluff that we as humans tend to gather around our hearts. As I told someone in a reading today, this is human nature — the need to protect and keep the heart safe at all costs. Even from seeing the truth that needs to be seen, before we move forward. This process also takes us further away from the core of our humanity as well. Creating layers between our outer and inner worlds, keeping us away from our own  selves.

So then, to commit to a life of getting closer  human to try and confront whatever it is we are seeking protection from. To do it in a gentle and compassionate way, that facilitates integration and forward movement in life, is super important. The goal then has been to be more touch with that which makes me human. What lies at th core of my spirit, when all the layers have been shed.

I have been thinking a lot about this — about the very core of humanity, and what it is that makes us the way we are. And the process of getting there through constant cutting of fat, peeling of layers, letting go of all that doesn’t serve me, processing all that does, often requires culling away and gracefully shedding many things. People, emotions, beliefs, ways of being and living, even. And very, very often, staring at the emptiness that remains.

It has taken me to the depths of understanding the heartbreaking, but liberating, price of living in a way that deeply honours the needs of what lies at the core of my spirit.

I have been witnessing emptiness in my life so often, in so many places and forms, these past couple of years. But the simultaneous process of filling myself up in a healthy way, of finding inner solidity of and from myself, has made all the difference.

This mornings edition of the daily aha moment while on my run was this: that I have discovered the difference of looking at emptiness from a place of emptiness, versus now looking at emptiness from a place of being quite filled up.

It means I am less compelled to be uncomfortable as I once was, by that emptiness. Less troubled, less thrown, less inadequate because of it. And I am less drawn to immediately fill it up with something else. Less inclined to do anything at all, actually. I have somehow found the ability to just see it and acknowledge it for what it is — emptiness. Necessary emptiness. And I am able to hold it as it is, more often than not. And the discovery thrilled me no end this morning.

One year ago: Solo Saturday night
Two years ago: Obscured by clouds (Coonoor, 2017)
Three years ago: Two new pieces
Four years ago: Lessons in letting go

Recharged

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

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

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

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

Thoughts about the power of truth snd conviction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ways of seeing

The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We’re know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet there knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.

— John Berger, Ways of Seeing

I’m really enjoying the newness of this ease in the not knowing, in seeing and noticing the relation between what is and what I know, and that which may never be “settled” in the way my mind might desire.

I don’t quite have the words for what has altered, but something has shifted within me yet again. Altering the way I am seeing things around me, just a wee bit again.

Ending the first week of the new year in yet another home away from home, in such deep levels of peace, has been everything.

One year ago: Boombox updates
Two years ago: Going by the book (and all that I read in 2017)
Four years ago: Love letters

To Mysore and

…back to the wild.

In four vignettes.

8 am at home.

11 am on the road.

1 pm at Mysore Railway Station.

4 pm en route back home.

Mandatory picture of parental unit, as seen in my adulthood, on a road trip rushing through just-planted paddy fields in that golden 4 o clock sunlight.

It’s a bit overwhelming, that I get to enjoy this peace and quiet, right here in my life without having to getaway or make space for it in anyway. I do have to physically get away to get here, but that suddenly my life is somehow fashioned so this is possible, and possible often kind of amazes me. Even now.

What a privilege and a blessing it is.

One year ago: Inhale. Exhale.
Two years ago: What is life
Four years ago: Reminders and notes to self.

Curtain call

 

New Year’s Eve has been something of a non event for years now. But this year we may have dropped even lower. And something tells me I could get used to the go-nowhere, do-nothing new year’s eve of this kind.

Snapshots from yesterday’s evening walk through the village, VC stopping for pictures and my father stopping to say hello to every single person we met.

We walked all along the river side for a good one hour, VC changing his mind and turning back halfway through.

Happy to be closing the year spending theseast few days (and the next few) in simpler ways and a slower pace.

We’ve had splendid sunsets for two days now. I hope today is spectacular too.

2020, I’m ready for you.

One year ago: December
Two years ago: Crossing over
Three years ago: December

Through the years

The sadness of a really good time, of the sort that uplifts and nourishes and fills you up, coming to an end hasn’t hit me in literally years. The last memory of such a deep post-good-time of this degree sadness is from when I was a young child and my favourite aunt and uncle would visit us once a year, leading to endless bunked days of school and just too much fun all round. So much fun that when it was time to leave, even as young as 9, 10, 11, 12 years old, I remember feeling abject sadness and finding it difficult to slip back to normalcy and function as usual once again. It always took a few days to get back to the regular rhythm of life.

And that’s the degree of sadness that hit me yesterday once S had left. Thankfully, I had a meeting with S in the evening to soften the blow of the hard knock it could have been. And today, I met S for drinks and brunch at mid day which is always uplifting, and certainly helped fight the gloom that I would have inevitably felt if I was left to my own devices.

Talking to S this afternoon, about friendships as we always do, I realised for all my complains and cribs about disappointments and dissatisfactions about people, especially in a year like this one that has seen the most upheaval and shaking of the ground beneath my feet, I have also received the best and mellowest gifts of love, affection and friendship. I am not very quick to notice it for what it is, and that is something I am trying to change.

The last week spent with S and VC was life-affirming in that sense. And I want to acknowledge the many ways in which it was so good for me.

It gave strength and validation to my deeply held belief that friendships that are based in simple truths and genuine connection don’t take work. They work beyond distance, infrequent meetings and all else. And they have that wonderful ability to rejoin and pick up exactly where we may have left off, even when either party has undergone massive transformation in the time spent apart.

I realised S and J are amongst the handful of people (that I can count on one hand) that I have this absolute and utter privilege with. They honour me with a kind of friendship that some of the relationships closer home that I have struggled to keep going haven’t. That ability to cut through the fat and come straight to the heart of the matter. A high degree of respect and space for vulnerability, even as we hold space for the silliness and laughter. A genuine warmth and being excited for the best in the other.

These are folks I talk to maybe 3 times a year. It’s only in the last six odd months since we started a whatsapp group between us (yes, it took us that long) that there is some form of frequent banter. But otherwise it’s restricted to the timely wishes and brief catch ups on each others birthdays and new year, at best. And yet, somehow, by hook or by crook, we seek each other out at least once a year. Making plans to meet somewhere or the other, dedicated time to spend catching up and reliving the old days. This, is not something I have with literally anyone else in my life. The effort and the follow-through on this, year after year. And today, I realised I really love that we do it.

This past week, I laughed harder than I have in a long while. VC admitted he enjoyed our company more than just being the third wheel he usually makes himself feel like. And I came away feeling like we are grown up versions of ourselves from 2012-2014, with something at the heart of it all, intact. To have each been through some seriously diverse experiences, some transformative times, and still find it’s possible to connect. And connect long and well, and enjoy every moment of it, is special.

So, when I got home in the evening I dug out pictures that pock-mark the many years of our friendship. There are folks who have lifelong friends. I haven’t had that luck as yet. But here, I see solid potential of being stuck with each other for life. OOPSIE – hahahaha.

I realised I have a picture for nearly every year since we split ways, and that we’ve met in six cities and four countries in the years gone by. Again, not something I see myself going out of my way to do with too many people.

From 2013, when we did routinely took off for a staycation when we all lived in Goa.

This was taken on this summer trip that I documented, but several day trips and wanderings — way way too many to count because we’d go out literally every weekend — that probably went undocumented. When we weren’t out and about, we lived out of each others homes. We shared way too many common loves — for movies, music, art, travel — that made us converge on more things than not.

In fact, I cannot separate my association with monsoon listening of Coke Studio from S and J at all. I write about it here. I shared my most impactful professional year, the one that had more far-reaching consequences that I knew, working with S. We’ve cooked way too many meals together and shared way more beers for our own good.

S left Goa in the end of 2013 and moved to Bombay. He visited us in Goa again in 2014, but apparently we took more pictures of the food we ate and absolutely none of ourselves at all.

In 2015, we visited S in Singapore.

In 2016, S flew in from Singapore to Bangkok to catch up with me. Many shenanigans ensued, and ended with this very drunken picture that was taken at 2 am in a bustling street market.

Somehow, we missed meeting in 2017, as S reiterated today with a “WHAT HAPPENED IN 2017??” when I shared these pictures with him. I was caught in the landslide that was moving to Bangalore and the year zipped by without any big travel.

In 2018, we made it to Paris where S now lives. And he and J plotted to surprise us, with J flying in from Hamburg.

Again, way too many shenanigans ensued. And I’ve written about the ways in which I felt so filled up from it all here and here.

Last December, we caught up in Goa, just months after we had returned from Europe.

And then, a whole year later we connected in Bangalore, making a trip to Coorg together. I have a new picture to add to this collection — the first one in the post.

I want to say this is fate or destiny or some such, but I think it isn’t just that. It’s also a lot of deliberate intention, and sincere keeping up of our word and following through on the things we plan to do. That is a deeply cherished aspect of friendship I have coveted for years now.

It’s not too late to acknowledge that for all the knocks and falls I’ve had in the last few years, and especially this past year, as far as people and friendship goes, I am still one lucky girl, for all the love and connection that has stayed and found it’s way to me, despite it all.

One year ago: Take me to your heart
Two years ago: Shut up and drive
Three years ago: Time

Coke Studio love

Reliving old days. These ones, where Coke Studio madness made for perfect rainy night stay-ins in Goas madenning monsoons.

Our very own tunnel of nostalgia. Just with a brand new Rohail Hyatt season, in a different city, minus the rain.

Reliving old days, while also holding and rejoicing the many ways in which all the people in this room are grown and changed irrevocably and wonderfully.

Such bliss.

One year ago: Relax, take it easy