Day 170: You live, you learn

I cannot stress the importance of emotional literacy enough – specifically becoming literate in the language that is you.

Some months ago, I found this simply, but very accurately, written piece on self-care and emotional literacy, that really spoke to me. And I’ve been pondering a lot about “self-care” ever since. Specifically about how much I used to want to roll my eyes at the term at one time. Because it sounded just so first-world, so extra. So unnecessary.

I’ve realised this is entirely an outcome of the definitions of the term I’ve gleaned from the Internet. I could never really relate to those cartoons about “adulting” (another term I really, really hate) and self-care that advocate things like eating many, many cupcakes, getting a manicure or massage for no reason or the like. I mean, I guess those are some forms of self-care too, maybe even for me, if I can get myself to like manicures or back to eating copious amounts of sugar. But, at the heart of it self-care is really basic and fuss-free.

It doesn’t have to be (and most often isn’t) an expensive, laborious or commodified experience. It can be fancy, if that floats your boat, but it can also be as basic as promising to give yourself the minimum hours of sleep every night, or adding a cup of your favourite hot beverage to end the day, or turning off the data on your phone at 8 pm every night — anything that you think will contribute to helping you function in a healthy manner.

For a long time, I thought self-care was just a fancy word for pampering. But it’s the second-half of the post that really struck me. Self-care is so much more than just pampering myself. I know now, it is a powerful means to get closer in tune with myself. In increasing my emotional literacy — becoming literate in the language of me, as he puts it.

Something about being deliberate, committed and focused on a handful of things makes this possible. And it really only takes a few things. The list doesn’t have to be long, in fact the shorter it is, the more likely it will turn into a sustainable practice. Over all, this has made space for a natural culling out of a lot of unnecessary things — unnecessary outings, unnecessary wastage of energy, unnecessary expenditure, unnecessary people, etc — in my life. Consequently, it’s freed up so much mind-space and spurred a spike in positivity and a feeling of abundance.

And then there is also this, which is the crux of it.

Self-care is also: addressing your own problematic behaviors and striving to be/do better; removing toxic (not just challenging) people/situations from your life; holding yourself accountable for what you do & what you say (apologizing authentically when you cause harm, hurt others/yourself); doing your own self-work (not always expecting others to sort you out) so that you can be emotionally literate and able to understand yourself.

I’m really enjoying choosing little acts of care for myself, deliberately. Salt in my bath water, afternoon naps, a whole day of reading, mangoes for dinner, breakfast with S this week. It’s usually the small, simple, most basic things. Most of which is not path-breaking or even very new to me. But the higher-than-usual joy I’m feeling, is definitely new.

Ensuring I write this a post on this blog every single day has become a serious self-care habit this year. When I did this in 2016, I was a lot busier, and many times I didn’t make the daily post. It was common for me to catch up on back log and back-date posts to make up for it all. This time around though, not only do I have the time to actually write everyday, but I also have the inclination to make this about taking the time out to note something worth remembering for every day, rather than worrying about the writing or making this an activity that needs to be so perfect I will give up before I even begin.

Fitting in a gratitude post every week has had some incredible impact on me and on my life. Having a blog to do it has ensured I will do it every week.

Since I’m riding a really high high this week, I want to remember some of the things I am deeply enjoying right now:

  • Feeling really at home, all alone in my home. This is something that’s been a long time coming. Even though we’ve had a home, I literally only spent nights here — going over to my folks’ for breakfast, spending a larger part of the day there, only to return in time to make dinner and call it a day. It started with taking May off, and having VC home for more time than when he would go to work, which initially made me want to be around too. Of course that meant that along with lounging about and really making ourselves at home, we had to cook together and do a lot of the everyday homey things that make a home a home. I also managed to finish that long pending cleaning up of a massive pile of junk that occupied my guest room and somehow made me feel like my home wasn’t really “set” until that was done. Somewhere in the midst of all of that, we just settled in. Amma and anna have been in and out of Bangalore too, which means I’ve been home a lot more. All in all, I am back to really enjoying my space like I used to in Goa. That urge to scram the minute VC leaves the house in the morning has lifted. I’m really enjoying sinking into this homeliness.
  • Having VC cook most of his meals. Something has switched — the angst around controlling food has melted. It’s many things, my finickiness about the kitchen as my territory where I hold fort and control the way things operate has definitely faded. My unnecessary preoccupation about what we eat has all but died. And it’s a win-win. VC gets to do something he’s been wanting to for years — cook his meals the way he wants even if it means eating eggs and bacon and chicken all day erryday — and I get to relax. And I don’t mean relax physically, I mean just let this shit (unnecessary conditioning that leads me to believe all things kitchen should be managed by me, are my responsibility, and that ignoring it is a crying shame to my domesticity) go.
  • Witnessing some of my most favourite girlfriends going through a collective time of growth, transformation and coming into their own. I’m not sure if this is a global phenomenon — pop-culture would have me believe it is — or if it’s just about like attracts like (or my vibe attracts my tribe or whatever version of that idiom you prefer), but it is phenomenal and massively happy-making to watch from afar and up-close, through deep and long conversations, emails shared, moments of surprise and wonder, that somehow we’re all in this together. I can think of at least six women in my immediate circle who are all actively seeking to be better versions of themselves, own their energy and flow and come into their own. I know this from how banter and casual everyday chit-chat that once formed a major part of our conversations has made way for mostly long spans of silence that are interrupted only by very deep conversations every time one of us has a epiphany, makes a breakthrough or some sort, or has noticed a change in our lives. The shift is palpable and to be in the midst of this collective energy flow fills me up in a way I ave not known. Until recently, I was pretty preoccupied with how lonely being interested in my self-improvement often makes me feel. I still do, on the odd day. I am more aware of why it is so, but I suddenly also feel a sense of tribe and camaraderie that goes beyond the group hugs and girl’s night out kind of thing I once sought from my women friends.
  • Remembering to slow down on the quiet days, when there isn’t much “work” to do, instead of trying to find ways to “make the time count.”
  • Actively feeling happy pretty much all the time. I actually can’t remember the last time I have felt this uniformly happy for this long. Everyday blips come and go, but I feel a bit unshakeable right now. There is flow, there is a happiness and a sense of harmony almost ringing in my head. Waking up is a joy. Every little thing I have to do, or even the day’s I don’t have much to do, feels just right. I’m enjoying how things are pared down to the most simple, so there is far less scope to be overwhelmed by anything.

What little acts of self-care make your every day that much better?

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Day 167: Love on the weekend

Today, I am crystal clear. The sun hasn’t gone down on the day. Everything is aglow. The moon is out too, with silver beams casting a shimmery light on the cobalt sky. The rain has fallen, speckling the greens and yellows with jewelled embellishments. My eyes are half open. Weighed down by the immensity of new learning and pushing open powered by the excitement of a new light. Breathe in. Breathe out. I am here now.

And everything is magic.

Two days ago: Day 167: The good in us

Day 166: Come on, keep me where the light is

Today, in gratitude.

Yoga. I’m closing in on a full month and every day I surprise myself a little more with how much this is feeling right. To just be there, focus on starting and finishing every class, without an eye on the clock (like I used to be at the gym) or watching any kind of number led validation, or watching for “results” or anything else. This is definitely one of the better choices I’ve made this year, after signing up for the course I’m doing.

A week of rain. It’s been such a good week. Finished a long-drawn-out book thanks to the good weather.

Surprise walks about town. I really love central Bangalore — there, I said it. And I’m trying to make the most of it when I am out and about. It helps that there have been plenty trips that side. Between breakfast dates, class and general gallivanting. I took this picture when D and I went to Blossoms last week. Church Street is spanking new and shiny, but it thrilled me to see nothing’s going to keep the hand carts out. This one, laden with summer fruit — lychees, stat fruit, jamoons, ice apples and the like — just seemed like a perfect goodbye to the season.

Koshy’s. One of the few things that I really love about Bangalore. I’m glad I live close enough so I can duck out when I please. This past week I actually found myself there more often than I planned.

Breakfasts out. Quite unknowingly I’ve managed to keep up the get-breakfast weekly habit I wanted for myself. I met M last week and A this week. And already have plans for next week. I didn’t plan for this to necessarily be an outing with company — in fact, I was quite looking forward to a table for one because I just assumed it would be me all by myself — but I’m so grateful for how it’s turning out.

My folks who came back to town over the weekend. Amma, Niyu and I went out for a spot of shopping. We also managed to catch a weekday lunch at Nagarjuna — the four of us — together which is such a rarity. It was fun, rainy out and despite the traffic and the waiting, I am grateful for the time.

The heightened, energy-spike in my aha-moments this past week. Once when I picked up on some seriously bad energy one evening and just couldn’t settle until I had dug deeper and broken it down to get to the bottom of what exactly was bothering me. And second, all day long after meeting A and chatting about the things that we did — it sparked off a whole lot of thoughts for me. I love a conversation that has an impact so hard it lingers long after.

The ease in my conversations with VC. It’s beginning to feel like every time I feel we’ve unlocked a new level in our relationship, there’s something deeper to get to. I am only realising now how much this has been about presenting myself wholeheartedly and authentically to him. He has always been around for me, I’ve had to see it in the way that I do now, and grab my share of it and dive in. This has been an empowering and freeing experience. We’re better together. And I’m equal parts grateful for where we are and excited for where we seem to be going.

Two back-to-back weekends of coursework. As exhausted and mentally depleted as it makes me feel, the heady high of coming out with new insights, new learning is so addictive. I’m grateful for the safety of the circle we’ve created where I am able to fall apart, as well as participate in holding others up with equal ease. It is a privilege and a gift, and by no means a coincidence. I am eternally grateful for this is fast turning into the very reason for spending 2018 in Bangalore.

This gratitude habit itself. Six months in, I know just how much it has impacted the way I am able to operate out of a mostly positive headspace. One, my bank balance has never been this low and yet somehow I’m spending (literally and figuratively) with an ease I’ve never had. It hasn’t stopped me from grabbing the experiences I’ve wanted to. Two, despite the unsettledness of May, I got through it with minimal flare ups. Not because I was bottling it in, but because I’ve been better at recognising and acknowledging what is a blip vs what is an actual shitty experience and dropping shit and moving on with alacrity.

Three, the serendipitous way in which an assignment landed in my inbox. From an unexpected, unlikely source, it ended up being a foray into an area of work I’ve been toying with the idea of exploring. I didn’t know how to get an in. And suddenly there it was.

Four, there is a newfound comfort and balance in experiencing solitude (which sometines subtly slips into loneliness) as well as meeting new people and widening my circle, alike. It’s an inner ease that is taking me through it all — it feels like a strengthening of my core — making me stand comfortably alone when I find myself alone as well as open my heart (I actively volunteered to be in a study group, ffs) to new connections, new groups, when they present themselves.

This palpable abundance in my life — in experiences, people, travel, things too — I feel it every single day. And I’m so aware how it isn’t an outcome of the pursuit of this as stuff as much as it is about finding myself in this intangible bubble of positivity that I actually don’t have the words to express. It transcends physical happenings.

This is probably the first time in my life that I am actively watching myself change, and the fear of the uncertainty and of what I am shedding and leaving behind, is absolutely nil. I’m grateful for that. What an exciting time this is to be able to watch all the pieces of this puzzle as they are slowly falling into place.

Two years ago: Day 166: Just keep swimming

Day 158: With your hand in my hand and a pocket full of soul

Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I had an entire day to do just as I pleased. No work demands, no home demands, no strings, no schedules.

It began with a breakfast date with M at Koshy’s, who I was meeting for the very first time. It’s been absolute years since I felt inclined to meet a stranger on the internet via the blog. But something in M’s email, and her reasons for reaching out now even though she’s apparently been reading for years, made me feel we’d click. And it was just such a spectacular delight. We had sausages, bacon, omlettes and coffee and discussed everything from being childfree to our patterns of consumption and waste management. All this, in the context of how the pace of life around us just doesn’t seem to fit with our own and how we’re always seeking like-minded people who feel the same sense of dissonance. I can safely say this is the first time that Ive had a conversation about this stuff and had so many “OMG, ME TOO!”s with anyone in Bangalore. It doesn’t even happen with my own friends anymore. It was wildly reassuring and really made me so grateful for the uncanny ways in which the universe (and the internet) connects us to the right people at the right time.

I got home to an empty house, which I’ve been enjoying. I ate two large mangoes for a late lunch, since I was too stuffed from breakfast to eat anything else, while binge watching and finishing She’s Gotta Have It. I have oh so many thoughts about the show — it’s fantastic, btw — but I will have to let them steep a bit before I pontificate.

I then read for two hours straight. Something else that I haven’t had the pleasure of doing for a long while.

The plan then was to head to my mum’s place where my sister (who is also home alone) and I would eat a light dinner and watch a documentary together. But I had another one of those days where I was fused to the beanbag watching Netflix or reading for something like five hours. And I had obviously gone to the point of no return so that plan got canned so fast.

I did manage to get out in time to cook though. Made myself a big pot of mixed veggie sambar and a palak stir fry, which I walloped faster than I could say yummayy.

The husband was home for all of ten minutes between 7.45 and 8 pm before dashing off for dinner with some friends. So I took my lazy ass to bed early. Enjoying the expanse of the double bed all by myself, watching Netflix to sleep.

It was so good to be home.

It felt so good to be without an agenda and still have a full day.

I loved that I made a new friend.

I realised the flowers in the window are going BATSHIT.

I really enjoyed cooking for myself. The mindfulness of caring about what I eat has returned and it felt so good to eat that hot, home-cooked, healthy meal.

I noticed the skies have been mad off late.

I began the next module of my course today so by the end of yesterday I had the excited anticipatory vibes of a teenager before a new school term.

Life is good. Life is really good.

Two years ago: Day 158: No words today

Day 157: A serious kind of something new

Today, I’m grateful for yoga. I had such an excellent class. For the first time in all the times I’ve done yoga, Im beginning to get the whole breathing into poses and synchronising it, which believe it or not, deepens every move and thereby increases the satisfaction of every stretch.

I’m grateful for the rain that has kept temperatures low and the light just glowy and beautiful. I don’t have very many good things to say about Bangalore of late, but I will say the rain definitely makes my heart tug with longing.

I’m grateful for the immense amounts of sleep I’ve been having. Restful, unbroken at night and the rather strange new ability to catch a wink during the day — not just a half-hearted nap, but a deep slumber. D predicted there’d be a lot of downtime and retreating for rest in the coming weeks. But when she said “get all the sleep, actually sleep, you can” I didn’t know it meant this.

I’m grateful for A. For the heartfelt emails. For the precise words. For the quiet confidence I get when I think about this journey we’re on.

I’m grateful for the surprise conversations. Like when R texted me, expressing gratitude that I least expected but that somehow lifted my entire day. Like with A with whom I’ve been having a telegraphic kind of SMS conversation about identity, which we keep meaning to meet and discuss. Like with N who is the only person really, that I can talk to and use words like “energy” and “abundance” and “goodness” without having to explain what I mean.

I’m grateful for the ability to be in Goa again very soon. I really feel so incredibly lucky.

I’m grateful for the ability to write again. After a jammed up May, the words are thrumming through once again. Brimming over and making their way out like they will not be held. In my journal, in long emails, on my blog, in newsletters, in my notes. I am thoroughly enjoying this.

Day 155: I wrote a letter to my love

Confession: It took me a whole month to write the birthday letter I had promised to write myself.

Every day, since my birthday (when I decided I’d do this) I have thought about getting my ass down to doing it, but I just faced such an enormous resistance from within. I didn’t understand why, because I actually, really, really wanted to begin doing this for myself. But much like the general fog that hung around me, I put it down to the inexplicable forces that I must not attempt to fight. Tomorrow, I’d tell myself. Every day. Until the whole month had passed and nada. Noting. Zilch.

Everything felt like it took extra effort, and yet nothing really held me in what can only be described a high-activity few weeks where my mental and emotional energies have rendered mush. However, in all the chaos, there have been internal signs and cues — just the need to write that letter, the desire to get out for breakfast by myself — that my mind has been silently giving me, continuously.

I discovered the joys of solitude very early in life, and in recent time the pursuit of pockets of time with myself has been selfishly high on my agenda. The rapid shifts I’ve been experiencing within my being has left me silent for the most part of last month, because there was just too much happening within for me to process and share, and begin to live and experience. I have really felt the need to cocoon myself and be alone, quiet. Inevitably though, that feeling comes with a little guilt.

Just how small, narrow and selfish am I being?
self-serving am I making my life?
Is my desire to be by myself causing others around me hurt, worry, rejection?

So in addition to actually wanting to be by myself (and managing to do it a fair bit) I have had an inner tussle these thoughts, I realised, as I sat by myself the other day.

There is also a matter of space. One of the things I’ve felt a little sad about in Bangalore, is not having a room of my own. When we moved to Bangalore, I had already mentally started winding down my personal writing practice, and our current home doesn’t allow for desk space  or a work room (like I had in Goa) for me to work, or just sit and ponder. In Goa, it was my room to retreat to for the most part of any given day. It kept me grounded and centred in more ways that I realised. Until I came here, and have been without a room of my own for over a year.

I’ve been longing for space too, I suppose. In some form or another. A room of my own. A date with myself. A walk in Cubbon Park. Something to make a ritual of.

On June 1st something definitely changed. I woke up early and joined the yoga class I’ve been meaning to for months now. The same one I’ve been unable to because waking up has been so damn hard. I cooked! Willingly, enthusiastically. Looking up long-bookmarked recipes from my favourite cookbook, and really enjoying the cooking, rather than cooking to just get a chore done. And I finally got the letter written.

From the moment I woke up, the will to actually finally put pen to was palpable. I felt upbeat and like I had emerged from a grey cloud to suddenly see the light.

S and I had plans to meet for lunch one afternoon, and when I was all set to leave home and get my cab, she cancelled. I was already in the flow of things, my cab was on it’s way, and I was looking forward to some time out. So, I decided to go anyway. I changed my destination and took myself to Koshy’s — my favourite place to have a table for one, and where I usually go to spend time writing or reading alone, when I just need to be with myself for a bit.

As a last minute thought, I carried my letter pad with me. And lo and behold, almost as soon as I got there, ordered and opened up my pad, the thoughts just bubbled over. And they would. not. stop.

I wrote five whole pages, over three hours. Over two unhurried iced teas, one omelette with a plate of toast, and since the sky had suddenly turned overcast, let out a loud crack and crashed down on us with a massive downpour, a tall glass of chai to end it all.

Originally, I’d wanted to walk down to Blossom’s, but I was just so content from having let the words that have been stifled in me for the last four week come out, I really didn’t need anything more to top the day.

I’m glad I finally managed to cut the chatter and go get it. Because it was nice to just decompress and put my thoughts out, and see them for what they are. Freeing and unburdening.

It was nice to have that sense of space about me again. I’ve been longing for some room. Some room in the clutter of my mind. A room of my own. But sometimes just a table, a pen and some paper will do.

Two years ago: Day 155: Sairat

Day 153: Life has a funny way of helping you out

Little moments that have stuck with me this past week:

  • Coming home to fresh flowers on the plants that have come back from the dead thanks to the incessant rain the week we were away, really made my heart sing
  • When the last of the sandy, stodgy, musty holiday laundry pile-up was hung out to dry, and I took a deep breath because everything smelt flowery like detergent
  • When my yoga teacher said (out to the entire class) “You don’t have to go all the way. Just go only as far as you can right now” and I felt like it was just meant only for me
  • When an ex-client from yonks ago messaged me, opening with “I read your article in Arre and loved it!” and it made me smile inside
  • Every time that VC has thrown his head back and laughed a wholesome, belly laugh that lights up his eyes, it has made me giggle
  • When I opened the fridge (that I had emptied and cleared out a couple of hours before) felt deeply satisfied at how minimalist it looked
  • The unexpected glee at feeling 15 again, when we were at The Permit Room, this song came on

  • The peace of the only afternoon I had all by my lonesome at home, and VC returned to find me sitting in exactly the same place in exactly the same position I was in when he left me three hours before

Two years ago: Day 153: Period story and writing lessons

Day 151: The week ends, the week begins

It’s been a summer holiday like month. Relaxed, very unhurried, travel, mangoes, afternoons spent guzzling books, plenty naps that have shot my sleep cycle to bits. Summer vibes and May feels all round. Some things I’ve loved about this oh-so-strange and up and down month:

  • Another birthday! Another beginning.
  • A whole week in Goa, for the time out, for the realisations that came from it. For the opportunity to do another workshop. For the shifts that came from that. For the dogs. For the week spend with D, and the hangs with Niyu and K and the unexpected girly fun I had.
  • A whole week in Thailand, for obvious reasons — the beach, the food, the holiday. For the opportunity to hang out with R, S and H in a way that I won’t have in Bangalore. For the scuba diving. For the taste of reality, and affirmation of some truths I have known. For getting the family trip done so the pressure won’t surface for a while now. And mostly, for showing myself that I can bend a little, relax a little, let go of my aversions a little, and do things I don’t always like to do but sometimes need to do, and still have fun while I’m at it.
  • A true and complete taste of both VC and I being funemployed, together: ever since VC joined me in my state of funemployment, he’s been the disciplined one taking himself to his co-working space everyday. He’s the man with a plan, even when there’s nothing to be done. But we took May off from normal programming, owing to all the travel and conveniently being between projects. I always imagined we’d be the sort of couple who cannot live under one roof all the time, because we’d get in each others hair (and maybe in another time, we would have did) but things have obviously changed. And I was pleasantly surprised to find myself telling him today that I have really enjoyed having him around. We’ve been sleeping in, waking up late, running off for breakfasts out, catching morning movie shows on Mondays, having impromptu work talk and meetings right in the comfort of our living room, we’ve cooked together, eaten more meals together this month than probably all this year, and somehow managed to enjoy the togetherness as much as give each other space to potter about as we please. This is a first, and I’m glad we had the chance to try it out, and be surprised, before he begins a new phase of work in the new week and new month on Monday.
  • All the time I ended up spending at home. I managed to do some long, long pending spring cleaning, sorting and disposing of stuff I’ve needlessly carried around for decades. Cupboards were cleared and space was made. But it was also remarkably cathartic, in a way that really reinstated how much I’m ready to move on.
  • The unplanned amounts of sleep I’ve got. It’s confused the shit out of me, and left me feeling very lethargic and lazy, but I suppose at this point it is what was needed and I’m glad it was a month free from all else, so I could just give in and rest.
  • The unexpected income.
  • The little bursts of clarity, that have shone through much of the haze. This will be a month to remember, no matter what I say or think about it right now. I just know it’s going to be a month I will look back on, maybe, 6-8 months from now and think oh yes, that’s what it was all about, and that’s where it all started.

One year ago: Changing seasons
Two years ago: Day 151: Waiting (the film)

Day 150: Days when I couldn’t live my life without you

I began blogging in May, twelve whole years ago. And on this day seven years ago, I moved to WordPress. I’ve said it before: for all the inconsistencies in my life, the inability to stay with anything long enough, this blog and how consistently I’ve kept at it, how it has been the constant through so much in my life, counts for a lot.

The blog itself has morphed a lot from where it started. And it’s morphed many times over. But I look at the move to WordPress as quite the milestone, where my writing really significantly changed and moved from mere journaling of daily occurences to a more reflective sort of writing about things I was thinking and feeling.

Two years ago I wrote a post about what the blog has seen me though and how it stands testimony to so much I have experienced. It chronicles journeys taken, and records so many details that don’t always remain in my mind.

This year though, the blog has changed yet again. I’m woefully aware that this stint, the form the blog is in today, is the least interesting one for an audience. But I cannot overstate the joy it brings me everyday to have a space to turn to every single day, where I can ramble on unencumbered, where I have no expectations (of me or of this activity). There is no agenda or point to any of this really. At this point, it is merely a journal to recount the things I am going through.

I’m so glad to have made a habit of it because it’s been such a handy tool in noting the changes, the fluxes and the inflection points. The small victories, the setbacks and the in betweens alike.

I’ll go back yet again to my favourite quote from my favourite book on writing. Because it still sums up so accurately how I feel about writing, and why I continue to do it, even when it apparently has no bigger purpose:

Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.

Writing this blog, more than many other kinds of writing I’ve dirtied my hands with, fills me up in ways I cannot even explain. And sometimes when I think about it, it feels like such a luxury to have the ability to express myself. In words. In sentences. In rambling stories. Here on this blog. Because more than anything it allows me to come back and drink up, yet again. Even years later.

And that’s a mighty empowering, freeing feeling.

Two years ago: Day 150: Ten

Day 148: I’ll take a quiet life

Postcards from Thailand 8.

Bittersweet goodbyes like these, set against mad skies that are just showing off, bidding adieu to another much needed holiday, while I sit with the jitters about being at the cusp of change, closing this week and walking into a new one, without a clue about what’s in store, yet knowing in my heart that I am ready.

Thank you Thailand. You have my heart, all over again.

Two years ago: Day 148: Odd days like today

Day 147: Now the beach is deserted

Postcards from Thailand 7.

Who would believe a sunset so magical, it changed from this:

to this:

And eventually this, in the span of about 15 minutes?

Between the uber flavourful food, the insane subsets and all the coral I’ve seen this past week, I’ve experienced a proper sensory overload.

Day 145: High by the beach

Postcard from Thailand 4.

Beach day. All day, erryydayyy.

Come hell or high water. As it did yesterday, thanks to a storm that lasted all dang day.

But, in Thailand (as in life), it’s always good to be open to surprises and the day turned and ended with my first scuba dive and a rather unreal double rainbow.

Sunrise.

Afternoon.

Sunset.

Two years ago: Day 145: Rumination without a title

Day 142: Ground control to Major Tom

Postcard from Thailand 1.

I’m getting a big old dose of salt water therapy today.

Transmission may be patchy for the next week or so.

Adios.

Day 141: We keep this love in a photograph

Things about VC that I never want to forget #18
VC gets full credit for really showing me what unconditional love looks like

There are times in my life, when smack right in between being surrounded by people, having so much activity going on, loving the highs and silently tiding through the lows, putting on a big smile on my face — I feel incredibly lonely.

Sometimes I’m lonely because of the beliefs I hold. The beliefs that are getting deeper, well-formed and articulate, with every experience I have. My opinion on the world. My socio-political stance. The resulting choices I make on an every day level — from choosing lesser plastic to taking a shared cab to feeling — are a reflection of the values I have and the beliefs they have birthed. And the thing with having my beliefs grow louder in my head is also realising which of your people have similar beliefs, and why. And feeling warm and fuzzy in that sense of togetherness and a shared conviction. It also means sometimes realising the beliefs of people on the polar opposite end of the spectrum, which is a far less happy-making feeling. And when it comes down to political views about our country today, add to it the feeling of being in the minority of people who feel deeply about many things the large majority couldn’t give a rat’s ass about and that despair and loneliness, a palpable helpless and worry that we’re all just fucked at the hands (and unthinking brains) of a bunch of low IQ savages rises very, very quickly to the surface.

This is the price I have to pay for having a firm set of my own beliefs.

Many time the loneliness is because the journey of self-awareness is by nature a very personal one. And not a lot of it makes for easy sharing or cheery conversation. Much of it is in fact best done silently, in private. That isolation invariably draws lines where none existed before. Lines separating me from people I once held close, between me and the places I love, things I indulged in. Lines that rein it in and draw me inward. None of this comes from a place of really wanting to be a touch-me-not in isolation, but simply that the full benefit of the journey is best experiences in private.

That too, is the price I have to pay for being so highly invested in my self-development.

Some days I become so acutely aware of how lonely and quiet it gets now that I am offline so much. Absolutely no social network, 10 hours off whatsapp every night, lesser and lesser time spent online during the day — my world and the world around seem to be constantly moving inwards and out in waves. The means to access and stay in touch with everything is fleeting. Some days I manage it better than others. But many days I don’t even really try.

Dealing with this strange kind of loneliness — suspended in a web of togetherness — is the price I pay for getting off the grid and seeking human interaction more than any other form of interaction.

There’s a lot of other ways in which this loneliness, the price I pay for being irrevocably committed to being my own person, rises to the surface. But, I have realised that every single time that I find myself cut away from the various groups and factions I dip in and out of, every time that I find myself despairing about being alone in the way I feel, the choices I make and the things I go on and on about (that often feels like nobody gets it), I have a place to come home to. And that sense of home and belonging, that instantly dispels the loneliness, giving me a safety and security, the space to be me in all my imperfection, is VC.

VC is my person. My home. My end-point, no matter how far or away I may stray.

This past weekend particularly, I realised that VC is the only person (aside from my parents — they deserve a salutation and a whole post to themselves) who really takes me as I am. A motley mess of still-developing beliefs, weird and inconsistent patterns, a constant work in progress, a far-from-perfect person.

VC loves me, just the way I am, at any point of time. He has loved me at my worst, as much as he has loved me at my best. He has loved me through the sweeping changes in between. He has loved me because of who I am, and he loves me despite it all. He loves. And he loves and he loves.

With VC, when I pay attention and allow the inner voices in my head to shut up, I always feel like I am enough, just the way I am. With all my unfinished business, the jagged edges, the yet-to-be-smoothed patches, the contradictions and the unexpected flare-ups.

This past weekend I realised that much of the progress I have made these past few years in getting closer to myself, knowing myself and being my own person, is because no matter what happens — how much I rock the boat, how far I wander, or how much I stir the hornet’s nest, I can always come home. To him.

It is a lot to be thankful for, this solid rock to fall back on. And it is such a powerful feeling to know, and really know in the way that I have felt it this past weekend, a good ten years into our marriage, that I am loved. And I am soooo enough. Just the way I am, inside and out. To understand suddenly what it means to never really be alone.

And so today, I just want to give thanks and really feel the gratitude I am, for the crazy-ass twist-and-turn life that brought us together, and the ways in which we have grown these last ten years. And for the place we are in today.

That is all.

Two years ago: Day 141: Malleswaram market things

For more Things About VC I Never Want To Forget, there’s more where this came from.

Day 135: I’ve been keeping all the letters that I wrote to you

What coming home feels like: When your home and your heart are in two places 

I’m grateful for Goa.

Specifically, for the love for stillness that it kindled in me. If there’s one thing my trip to Goa last week affirmed with a resounding yes, it is that I love, need and thrive when I have the space and quiet for stillness. Without it, my life and everything I strive for today, would not be the same.

For introducing me to the people it did. It’s a small place, Goa. During my years there, the rather motley combination of the organisation I worked for briefly, and the career choice I made later on, plus the fact that I was one of the very few known bloggers from Goa at the time, and my fitness and related life choices, I met a wide range of people and very soon, I realised the pools and circles had intersected. I had reached a place where I couldn’t go anywhere without meeting at least one person I knew/knew of. While this invoked a sense of familiarity at first, it also grew stifling in the later years. When it was time to leave too, it was the desperate need for freshness in people, new connections that definitely spurred the need to move on. I didn’t leave on an altogether positive note, in this respect. But going back one year later made me realise that I’m so fortunate to still know and hold deep bonds with some of the friends I made there. People I can stay with, people I can call on, people I will go the distance to rekindle some of the experiences I have shared with them. People who will gladly have me over and back in their lives. It is particularly telling to note who this set of people includes, today.

For the immediate sense of freedom I always feel so palpably. It was all kinds of liberating to be able to drive out in a car without tints, in short shorts and a tank top at mid-day and have zero pairs of eyes curiously looking at us. I say shorts and tank top because it’s what I had on on that first day when I drove out to drop Niyu off and run some errands, but really it isn’t about the clothes. I was always aware of this luxury of anonymity when I lived in Goa, but being in Bangalore for a year and see-sawing between trying to be myself and blend in with as few raised eyebrows (even when fully, modestly clothes and adequately covered up *eyeroll*) as possible has made the luxury even more special.

For the wide open spaces. The green hubs. The views.

For the market freshness.

For the breakfasts.

I am really enjoying being in this wonderful sweet spot with adequate time and distance between us, and giving myself the permission to enjoy Goa anew. Maybe it is the contrast between where I am now (mentally and emotionally) that makes it possible to be a little balanced and measured than I was when I moved. Maybe I just needed to look away to clear out all that clouded my opinions, in order to appreciate Goa for what it was. Maybe I needed a shift from the over-familiarity and the comfort of a cubby-hole I had gotten myself in. Maybe it is just that I needed a year out to recharge my batteries.

I’m grateful for Goa. And it will always have a large part of my heart.