On and on and on

The skies cleared up ever so slightly today. So we took a walk through some fields in our backyard/neighborhood, this evening.

I came home recharged and surprised at how little it takes, just 20 minutes, being out in the open and breathing clean air, to stop obsessing on-loop about current worries that really just pale in comparison, when you witness something as monument as the dependable setting of the sun, the inevitable rising of the moon, and the religious shutting up of touch-me-not leaves, that always happen right on time, no matter what.

The world just spins on, constantly casually doing wonderful things that I completely take for granted because I can’t stop obsessing over my piddly little life with the even more piddly woes in my piddly little head.

The walk filled my lungs up and gave me perspective today.

One year ago: I got a feeling I’m not the only one
Three years ago: I’ll be fine, sipping wine, taking time slow

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Retrospect

Hi once again, from absolutely rainy, drippy, beautiful Goa.

I sense this back and forth life split between Goa and Bangalore slowly nearing its end (or at least reducing in pace and frequency of going between the two states) and the return to Goa this time around has come with an intense desire spend the next week really soaking it up.

Something really did lift for me yesterday, confirming my hunch that I’m experiencing an internal shift that is beyond my own comprehension and certainly not decipherable through words and overthinking.

***

A lot of my disorientation and struggle of the weeks past have been compounded by the some shame and self-hate that I have been directing at myself. I realised last week, yet again, how easily I forget to be kind and compassionate to myself, post-therapy. There is so much healing that happens in just meeting whatever comes up — the old wounds, the hitherto untouched grief, the completely unexpected discovery of an inner child pock-marked with memories of being worried, confused, brave and compelled to be put-together — with kindness. It’s the first step to acceptance, and then integration, and really, without that does this journey even get anywhere?

N has been pushing me, harder than ever before, to stay with the internal distress that is so quick to bubble over, when I am faced with the difficulties of my inner child. It is extremely difficult territory for me to navigate because I still doubt my capacity to be there for her. For me.

I’m only getting very slightly better with every interaction that I have, but I think the more I learn to meet her with kindness, the better this will get.

For now though, there is probably going to be a lot more disorientation. From facing so many unknown truths about that inner child for the very first time, from learning to stay with the distress, from owning and meeting the grief and sadness of it all, from fighting the urge to turn around and bolt from it all.

Most of all though, I’m learning to go easier still on myself. To remind myself that there is no fixed end goal, and no milestones that I have to hit. That there will be times when I feel like I have taken three steps back, instead of forward. To keep the disappointment at bay, and drop the need to “perform” and do this well. It sounds like a lot, and it overwhelms me in times of distress, but when the fog has lifted it soon becomes apparent that all I really need to do is be kind to all parts of myself — inner, outer, child and adult — alike. To face myself with the same empathy I extend to others. To be patient and gentle, to see myself, and to be there for myself.

***

I’m happy to be in Goa, with its bizarre golden evening monsoon light, with this new relaxed state of mind. In the peace of just today spend in Goa, I realised I need to bring back some stillness in my life, some mindfulness or grounding practices that help me stay in the moment, rather than in my head where things get sometimes unnecessarily complicated.

I need to get back to a routine of slowness and taking time out for myself. Being in Goa sets that pace for me. It means I can let it all go, chill for a few days and make a plan for setting myself up back to the bustle of life in Bangalore.

One year ago: If everything could ever be this real forever
Two years ago: Perfect love
Three years ago: Barely moving

Support

In case you haven’t gathered already, whether I’ve explicitly stated it or not, it’s been a heavy couple of weeks weeks. Not to say it’s been outright down and out. We have made it through with our fair share of laughs. I was in Goa for the most part, amply bolstered by VC and my sister, being around whom, I realised just softens all the hard knocks for me. You know, there are some folks who make any situation better? I think VC and Niyu are those folks for me. So much so that it wasn’t until VC left to come be with his folks, Niyu went back to her routine, and I had a day all to myself that the full impact of just how heavy and overwhelming everything really was, caught up with me.

It’s been pouring buckets in Goa, the kind of weather I love. And I was all in to sit back and enjoy it. But the day VC left for Bangalore, I had a realisation that for now, he is the only remaining connect I feel with the place, the only reason I can get myself to spend any time in Goa at all. Without him around, even the rain, the solitude, the freedom felt a bit insipid and pointless. Because as soon as he left, I was all Okay what am I doing here ya very nice rain amazing weather beautiful lush green nice nice but can I just be with him thanks?

And so, it was also easier to follow and spontaneously book myself a ticket to come back to Bangalore a few days after.

Once here, felt ably supported to just do what I came here to do — to dive right in and be there for VCs family, sans distractions, because amma provided all meals — everything from hot rasam and rice, aloo buns to snack on, idli-vadas from our favourite breakfast spot — even though she is down with the flu herself. It meant I didn’t have to think about stocking up, cooking or managing anything at home, especially given that VC was recovering from the flu at home.

I managed to also squeeze in meeting with S for breakfast. It was meant to be quick and breezy, but it became a relaxed, drawn-out catch up because a turn of events allowed it.

I’m realising the importance to lean on my own resources and to take care of myself, so I can be there for others. The idea of giving from a full cup and all that. To recognise and acknowledge my support system, even if to myself. All the things — people, my routine and habits, comfort foods — that help me stay afloat, whether the going gets tough or not. I’m realising that I am less shy to ask for support when I need it, and a bit unabashed in stepping forward to take it when it is offered.

Recent developments with a friend, have really made me aware that sometimes the silence of waiting (for support, for help, for attention, for love) can be so detrimental. To the self, to a relationship, and to the other at the receiving end of it. I used to embrace silence — sometimes because I felt ashamed asking for help, or I felt indebted to step up and take help when it was offered, or I was hurt and offended that it hadn’t come anyway without my asking, or I just plain wanted the other to figure it out themselves. But all that ambiguity creates absolutely nothing but a lack of clarity about the truth. And quite honestly, sometimes it stemmed from my fear of stepping up and asking for it when I needed it — my fear of showing up as I am. Very often, in fact more often than not, it is my ego that keeps me from showing when I need support or what I feel the desire to connect.

In some ways, slowly being comfortable with myself, including all my imperfections and pleasant and unpleasant aspects, I cluding those that I once thought were “weak” or “shameful” in good times and in bad, has meant being able to take in all the love and support that I have, in a more fuller and wholesome way. And being comfortable with asking for it when I need it.

I really feel the difference that this has made to my life, during this time that was heavy and could have otherwise being very confusing, isolating and lonely. What a relief it is to know I can lean, and lean fully, on those who are there for me without having to be asked, and who don’t assume that I will come around when I need it. And what a pleasant surprise to realise that in the event that I need something extra — breakfast with a friend just for a few hours of normal talk, for example — I can ask for it unabashedly with confidence and without feeling lesser or shameful about it.

One year ago: Under my umbrella

Pause

Yesterday was a fairly sunny day with just bursts of downpour intermittently punctuated by bursts of bright sunshine but as I drove to Inox in the evening, it began to come down. It made me severely nostalgic for the days when J, S, R, VC and I would make impromptu movie plans to entertain ourselves in the monsoon when everything else would be shut and inaccessible. We’ve watched a shit ton of terrible movies as a last resort, invariably thinking of it with just under ten minutes to show time, as a last ditch attempt to entertain ourselves in dreary days that felt like they were slipping away. I thought about the countless times we’ve rushed to Inox, ten minutes away, running from the parking lot to the multiplex huddled under shared umbrellas and entering the movie hall slightly damp, but spirits sprightly and excited.

There was something really sweet in the simplicity and utter basic truth about having just one multiplex to go to and wondering on rainy days if there’d actually even be a minimum of five people for the show to actually run. Sometimes we’d gather ourselves in groups of five or more just to make sure we hit the target. I felt nostalgic for that simple, unadorned Goa that I had the privilege of knowing so intimately.

Anyhow, as I watched the rain come down and we fished our umbrellas out to get to Inox, I felt my plans to catch the Friday Market at Mapusa wash away. Also Article 15 while an important film about an important issue, stopped just short of really working for me because of some inherent (inescapably Desi) flaws, premier amongst which was length. It ran just too long for my liking, which meant it was well past midnight when I got home.

All this to say, my morning today was not as smooth as I’d have liked. I woke up late, and that set my schedule off. I mostly spend my days doing nothing of grave importance but my morning routine has come to be kind of sacrosanct and unexpected changes potentially throw my day off. I no longer like to just casually skip my workout, and I like to get it done as early as possible. This usually gets first priority. Today there was also some omelette sandwiches to be made for VC to take to work, and getting ready in time to leave with VC to get him to work so I can take the car to the Friday market added to the mix. It already felt like a gargantuan ask even before I’d begun.

I wrestled with it for five minutes in my head, there’s an undercurrent of the lets-do-it-all energy just waiting for an outlet to surface, any time she can. But I’m better in curbing this type A side of me now so it wasn’t long before I decided I to prioritise my workout and make VCs lunch. I ditched the plan to go out and instead VC went off to work on his own.

Today was looking like a day to stay in. The weather agreed, vehemently and it has been pissing down with a vengeance pretty much all day. There is not a single cloud to be seen. The sky a vast mass of grey streaked with darker shades of more grey which shifted and changed as they passed, like a watercolour on blotted paper, waiting to take form.

It has since been a day of silence with nothing but the rain for company. I did some reading (not the reading for learning I need to, but reading for fun), I realised I had two episodes of Big Little Lies to catch up on, so there was that. A nap that was interrupted by the early return or VC with Niyu in tow. VC who went for a meeting and didn’t think it was fun to drive back to work and back home again in the pouring rain, and Niyu who also incidentally cancelled her evening class today.

I seem to be having a string of days like this. Even when I try and make plans to get out and “be productive” things happen that make me change plans, or halt and defer them altogether. Many times it makes me contend with the parts of me that still attach value and self worth to productivity of a certain kind.

Today is what I’d really call a clear and present wash out day. Necessary autumns of our lives, times for essential pause, whether we know and acknowledge or are present to it or not. I’ve had many thoughts about productivity, success, a life well-lived and the like in the last few weeks, some of which may make it to a post in the coming future.

It’s grey out, still. We’ve just had cups of tea and Iyengar bakery biscuits I brought from Bangalore. And I pulled out the stops and indulged in my other Goa staple — peanut butter toast, with a drizzle of honey today. We’ve got our noses in our respective laptops, each doing things that need to be done. It’s a picture of silent companionship, of pause itself.

As soon as this post is done I’m going to cook us dinner, Thai Curry which has become a Goa staple for me now.

Tomorrow will be a new day.

One year ago: You’ll be a good listener, you’ll be honest, you’ll be brave
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: light and life

Three years ago: June

Stay in

Okay it’s coming down good and proper now. Finally, that sound of incessant rain is here and what a thrill it is. Finally there is the undried laundry woes and general dampness in the air. Finally, it’s beginning to feel a lot like the proper monsoon I came here for.

Nothing signals this season like damp clothes for me. And this time, even with two balconies and one terrace, we still don’t have enough dry space for the laundry. What the terrace and  balcony, both adjacent to each other and both with big windows, are good for, is the wide open view of the incoming ominous black clouds as they roll and rush in before every down pour. It’s amazing how the landscape in these parts is so different from the urban parts we lived in before.

It’s mostly a time for staying in. Like a natural, seasonal shift that begs nothing else but the quiet of staying within, not just physically, but otherwise too. It feels like a time for hibernation of sorts. Everything around is bursting forth with life, the greens are popping, the constant gush of water is nourishing, and that vein of loneliness that felt embedded within me, lifts. My spirit feels quenched.

I’ve had no inclination to look at my laptop since I got here. Such a departure from my last trip when all I did was binge watch multiple things right through the day. I’ve instead been occupied around the house. I tended to my plants for a good while yesterday and then spent the rest of the day sorting the home straight because VCs help has been AWOL for over 10 days. I cleaned out the fridge and cooked myself lunch, and Niyu came over.

In the evening I went to the Panjim market to stock up on veggies. Always such a delight these fresh produce markets, but even more so the one I am so familiar with.

This time around I foresee a lot of driving up and down, especially between Panjim and home because VC and I are going to have to share the car to beat the rain and get places. I can’t seem to remember how we managed this in the monsoons past, but I certainly don’t remember dropping him to work and picking him uo everyday like I think I’m going to have to do this time around.

But it’s been good so far. If there’s one thing I love more than the rains in Goa, it’s driving around in the rains in Goa, listening to music and generally spending that time by myself. Earlier, I’d find reasons and excuses to drive out, hit the highway and get the music up loud. Now, with where we live, I don’t have to try so hard hahaha.

I’ve got some “studying” to do, an essay to submit and an intimidatingly long reading list for the course to get started with. This would have been the perfect getaway to get all that done. But somehow, I’m reading again. And I already can’t seem to get enough of the Kindle, the quiet, the solitude and the rain.

One year ago: June

Reflections

Things I’ve enjoyed this past week:

Bonus time with VC, who arrived in Bangalore as soon as his uncle passed last week. He stayed on for the weekend, coinciding his date of departure with mine, as we headed to Goa on separate flights on the same day. It’s been a while since I’ve seen VC chill like he did in Bangalore those few days, and even though I was away at class pretty much the entire time, I enjoyed the time we had together.

One rainy evening, we camped out at Koshy’s chatting (VC is suddenly into chatting, elaborate, detailed conversations and I can’t get enough of this) and drinking while we waited for the rain to subside, before we took ourselves for a dinner of soba noodles and stir fry. Bangalore is nicer, and more complete for me, with VC around. This surprise trip was well-timed, and solidified some things about us, in my mind.

Being in class again and feeling my brain stretching beyond control. Feeling distressed with a muddle of jitters and mild intimidation, with the delicateness of this new learning that sits in my hands, while I know not how or what I am going to do with it. Staying with the jitters anyway and finding joy at the very end of the short cycle of distress, and feeling a sudden surge of energy almost, at the excitement of what lies ahead.

Catching lunch with D and S, chatting about all the ways in which the work and the learning permeates our lives. While we’ve been in touch after L1 ended, we haven’t met — all three of us — as much as we promised we would make the time for. So there was a lot to really dive into and take apart. Later, on Saturday evening when we were finally done, S and I walked to Airlines where we chatted and chatted, over a Maddur vada and coffee (after ages!), in a conversation about marriage and womanhood and making space for both to coexist.

A marathon two hour conversation with N on Sunday that was preceded by a card reading. I realised my readings are only as deep and insightful as the clarity and intent that the questions bring with them. The ripe way in which N asked, and the lithe keenness, opened something up and resulted in a very powerful message that felt like it was as much for me as it was for her. No surprises there, considering how much our individual journeys mirror each other.

Then we had this never-ending, freewheeling conversation that touched upon so many different, varied, sometimes disparate things that matter to us right now. Things we’re experiencing, things we’ve understood, all that has come to be, and the greatest trepidation about what will be. I found great resonance in N’s words about how deeply personal, intangible and utterly indescribable the nature of what she’s doing as her self-exploration feels. And the consequent loneliness of it too. And yet we get each other, I thought.

D came over on Sunday evening, bearing gifts — kheema samosas and khoya naans from Albert Bakery — and VC made us chai, that we enjoyed with chatter and giggles (as per usual). I’ve been off tea and coffee for about three months now, and even though I have indulged in the odd evening snack, the milky, sugary beverages have been missing entirely. Last week I had that craving for aloo buns, and today too I tucked in a few bakery biscuits. The snacks on Sunday were just perfect, the tea was sweet, and if we had even the slightest rain, it might have been a perfect Sunday evening.

This was the icing on the cake for my weekend. Closing the week, and the month in Bangalore before I left for Goa with this banger of a show that I had booked myself for two months ago, was everything I anticipated it would be.

Kunal Kamra is astonishingly precise with his humour and he delivered a cracker of a set that was bravely political, didn’t shy away from intelligently bashing the current Saffron regime for all that they must be criticised for, while also keeping it light, funny and even touching in some parts. There’s something deeply touching about honest art delivered in this unfiltered way that crosses all kinds of barriers. I may have teared up a couple of times, not just at the bitter truth that he delivered, albeit in a funny manner, but also at the purity of his work that touched me.

Arriving in Goa to find that the plants that had nearly died have been mostly lovingly revived in VC’s patient and regular care. The crazy bougainvillea has in fact suddenly sprung to bloom in most uncharacteristic fashion (they prefer the sun to rain) and has in fact changed shades, now dressed in a heart-tuggingly bright pink, rather than the beaming, gentle salmon I thought we had.

One year ago: I wouldn’t change a single thing

The rain

Hi, from Goa, where I have arrived to not enough rain. But only just enough to inspire some Vada pav cravings as soon as I landed.

Right from the airport, I headed off to VCs office to catch up with him and head home together. Today was one of those ultra efficient days with everything operating ahead of time, from the moment I left home in Bangalore. So I got there much earlier than anticipated. In order to kl some time, I dragged my suitcase and two handbags down, two streets away, in the drizzle to Cafe Aram because the settings were just right.

The gentlest drizzle, a sniffle in my nose, a I peaceful journey, and lunch six hours ago. I ducked into the buzzing tea room. Fond memories of my last cuppa chai had there the day before welved from Goa wafting back to my mind.

The tables are snug, a little too snug for comfort. And of course one also sits where there’s place, sharing humble eating space with just about anybody. Often, this results in staring into other people’s plates as one waits for food to arrive, from no apparent reason except that, it’s there, so close.

Few things kindle nostalgia and fondness, a sense of home, as speedily as food. So as soon as my vada pav and chai had arrived and I took a bite of it, immediately I felt at home. Despite the fact that I looked visibly like an outsider. With just the way I look, and strolley in tow.

There is something about a tea room at 6 pm on the heart of Panjim. The vibe just brings you back to ground reality.

It was such a good way to begin. To come back home.

Outside, the rain began to fall harder and noisily.

One year ago: I choose to be happy
Two years ago: I need to sit with the quiet, I know that much

Three years ago: The rain, the rain

Stillness

It’s so great to be in a learning environment again. While I’ve really enjoyed and felt the need for the time of processing in the months between level 1 ending and level 2 beginning, I have also missed staying in touch with the work and being in an environment that nurtures and makes me feel like a learner. Just two days of it and I’m thrilled, my heart brimming over with joy.

Last year, there was a decided pause I had made in my life to make space for this learning. This year it feels like I’m going with the flow. To be in a classroom again, without a plan, without a focused specific outcome and without any inkling where this learning is going to take me is like flirting with the unknown at another degree. To go with the flow even as I remind myself to go one step at a time, one day at a time is exciting. To lean in and make myself available to any way in which this journey may unfold and take me is feeling as much a part of the learning process as the course itself.

I’m glad to be able to give myself this opportunity and to be in this process minus the regular anxiety about performance and outcomes that I am known to experience, is refreshingly new. And it feels like a shift within me.

When I began this journey, this exploration of learning last year, it felt like a sabbatical. There was a concious putting off and away of all other preoccupations. It has been interesting to see how much more has peeled away in the months after, how much more continues to strip away even to this day, and how I am being guided to really focus on this without much effort on my part. Without a plan. Without any preconceived ideas. Without expectations.

My life looks nothing like it did one year ago. It looks nothing like I thought it would either. And I have been having Ong a strong feeling that I have to let go of the very idea of what “my life should look like”. Earlier this month when I had thoughts about work and which way to go, there were vestiges of a past life creeping in, which though I invited and explored, didn’t stay very long. So I’ve been feeling for a while now, with a growing sense of confidence every day, that perhaps this isn’t a sabbatical anymore, and just a new kind of life itself. The end of one way of living and making space for an entirely new one.

This exploratory, flowy way of living through my days has a special kind of slowness that now sits beneath my skin. I find myself reluctant to have days that are packed full of activity or that require me to run helter skelter. I am.unabke to function in that way. There is a slowness that has pervaded my very being, shifted and rewired some very fundamental building block in me.

It’s like an internal clock resetting, a rewiring of my system. And maybe I need to stop looking at this as a temporary set up, or a stop gap, but just a very new way of life itself.

One year ago: One day, we’ll be old and think of all the stories we could have told
Three years ago: Thoughts on a girly holiday

Powerlessness of love

Last minute, rushed brushing-up texts from last year’s course, as I prep for class again this week, I stumbled on this stunning description of “primary emotions” that I don’t remember reading last year. Or maybe I read it, merely glossing over it, not taking it in the way it stumped me this time around, simply because this stuff has come to mean so much more in recent times.

The author describes primary emotions as being so intense that there is a powerlessness in the experience of them. He speaks specifically of love, and how it, like most pure, primary emotions have that quality of lightness, ease, and of loosening up something within us, to the extent that they render us powerless.

I realised this only in context of how when we move into the realm of secondary feelings, what drives us is actually the desire to subvert that which makes us feel powerless. It is our inherent human tendency to attempt to control, to actually exert power over anything that tends to take over us — as most primary emotions do. It is what we all do, in order to make sense, in order to navigate what we’re feeling and in order to sometime just “feel” through the emotion.

I’ve consciously and unconsciously done this believing fully that it is what is to be done with emotions. But I’ve recently realised this is futile. It is counterintuitive and that the only way to move through it is to do nothing at all. To surrender to it’s power. To really wholeheartedly experience primary emotions like love and joy, are to surrender to the full impact of their inherent powerlessness, and how they invoke the same powerlessness in me.

In other words, let it all go.

I’ve been trying to let go, let loose a little bit more than normal when I feel primary emotions wash over me of late, to really see what happens when I do, what am I so afraid of. And the observations have been interesting to say the very least.

Gratitude for love and people in my life, this week. For the numerous small, daily opportunities my life presents for me to connect and feel this love in so many different ways.

Meanwhile, and as I speak of love, under a week to go before I see this face and get to do this IRL, than with screens between us. Gratitude for VC and for everything that he is to me, and this strange, magical place we are in.

Gratitude for the opportunity to be in a classroom again starting tomorrow. To learn. For no other reason except to itch the scratch of curiosity about something that has drawn me in so fully. To learn for the sake of learning alone.

Gratitude for the epiphanies this work and the learning continues to bring. For the numerous daily aha moments that abound. For the slowwww way in which it unfolds, creating the gentlest ripples in my life. For the incessant lightbulbs that go off and on from time to time. For this experience of learning that feels vast, endless and like I will take it through to the rest of my life.

Gratitude for exercise once again, this week. I realise the days immediately after my period ends are when I am at my lightest, most agile best. And I don’t mean this in terms of weight at all, but more in terms of how nimble and springy and ready to get up and run, I feel. There is a literal spring in my step that makes me quicker, feels like it transforms me into this lithe, subtle being that can fly.

Yesterday, at the gym after a four day break, fully expecting to take it slow an easy as I ease back in, I surprised myself by bursting into a spontaneous quick run that was faster and took me farther than I have been in the recent past.

I’m slowly figuring out the key to making myself sustain anything in a healthy way. The ways in which this works for me are to focus on consistency and ditch all the numbers. And this isbfinally how I’ve become about the gym too. I started in March and all I have done is very mildly streamline my food inake and get diligent about getting a spot of exercise six days, every week. I haven’t measured or held myself to any numbers or measures of progression as yet. I didn’t stand on the scales either. Until yesterday. But in the way that I feel, in the way I can run, in the way that I have been lifting weights again, I can feel myself getting marginally better every week.

I stood on the scales for the first time in years today, and was shocked to see I am back to my pre-wedding weight. This has happened entirely when I wasn’t looking for it. So I felt mighty thrilled and I treated myself to a slice fo flourless chocolate cake.

Gratitude for little surprises that break the monotony of this city life. D said to look out for signs in the form of bright, unexpected yellow flowers today, and minutes after I read the post, I realised I’d stepped into the midst of these.

And as it happens, I had extreme flow, zero obstacles on a day when there could have been many, a delightfully happy day.

One year ago: It’s just this thing that seasons do

Warm

This time, in Wayanad, I had the privilege of meeting with so many people my father has befriended over the last two years that he has pretty much lived there. Through smatterings of Malayalam, conversing in animated gesticulations and a lot of telepathy, he has managed to make friends. It helps that the people of the village he lives in are just so warm, open and hospitable. Ive been hearing about this, about them, for months now, but nothing prepared me for just how warm they could be, until I saw it myself this past weekend.

In the way that my father was waving, stopping to say hello, exchanging nods of familiarity and warmth with just about everyone, wherever we roamed along the long stretch of road that the home sits on. In the way that so many of those people, when they realised my mother and I were visiting, absolutely jumped at suggesting the idea of having us over, many insisted, and a couple were successful in convincing us. What followed was an overwhelming hospitality that I have not seen in a while. Literal strangers with whom I can actually barely converse (We don’t speak the same language) but who have a strange affinity for my father, this man building an impossible/unbelievable looking home in their neighbourhood, opened their homes out to us, laid their dining tables out with the best home-cooked food and snacks and just had us, hook line and sinker.

So we met, ate and dined with, got taken on house tours of new and ancient houses alike, ate home-grown fruit, learned about ancient bonsai and home-grown plants, and even got sent home with doggie bags of giant home-grown papayas, bunches of bananas, and seriously the very best pazhampori I have eaten in a very, very long time.

So now you know what added to my heart-full feels. (Belly was very full too, teehee)

It got me thinking about how this warmth, this wearing my ones heart on ones sleeve, being un-fearful, outgoing and just so open to experience and connection can dramatically change the quality of an interaction. It has the capacity to cross barriers of language, culture, socio-economic strata and bring people together in a bond of pure love. It’s something we definitely lose in big cities, where the hustle to just get ahead, the insular nature of life, the pressure to make meaning and tangible value of all interactions takes away something very tender and soft about connecting with a human being for just that — connecting, alone. It also makes us fearful, competitive, cagey. And in the process we’re definitely poorer for it.

Some part of my mind was cracked open by this experience, this brush with strangers who felt nothing like it, this thought post interacting with them. And I hope it sinks deeper and cracks my heart open too.

One year ago: Take a minute, I’ve been sitting here, wondering
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: seeking solitude

Away

En route to Kerala for a bit, and I just realised I will be practically off the grid. YAYYY.

Happy for the opportunity to catch some good monsoon rain seeing as how Bangalore has disappointed sorely in this department. Except Bangalore is a promptly showing some promise of rain the next few days, starting today. Just as I’ve left town.

I’ve left my laptop behind and carried just my kindle in the hope that the reading habit may be…rekindled. Get it? Hahaha.

It’s not like I need a break seeing as how life itself has become a nice big holiday of late. Even so I’m glad for the break before I come back and head straight to class again.

See you on the other side.

One year ago: Soaked mornings
Three years ago: When autumn comes, it doesn’t ask

Tender

Things have suddenly grown very quiet with me. Quiet. And contained. There are a lot of open ends in life right now, but for a change there is no desire to close or to make meaning of most things.

This is a pleasant change from always having my mind working overdrive to analyze, understand, get to the bottom of.

I am reading about the power of un-knowing. How sometimes, the desire to learn, gets in the way of the path of the soul and its movements, and it may be well worth my time to taste this un-knowingness. To approach every day without a knowing, or a plan. To be so utterly open, is scary and uncertain and vulnerable. All the things that still take “work” for me to turn on. But to enter into a state of un-knowing also takes surrender, relinquishing control — both which command a high level of courage that I feel I am only just building.

I feel tender, and exposed. However, I am just about feeling ready to embrace this opportunity — to hold, to stay still, and to wait, in this space of not knowing, from where anything can emerge.

One year ago: You live, you learn
Three years ago: I don’t feel sorry about posting pictures about my life

My own person

For a few weeks now, I have been feeling a deep sense of settledness, settlement, within. I waited to see if it was just a bout of peace as I’ve experienced before, or something deeper. And it seems to me, more and more, that this feels like a filling-up from within. A kind of sufficiency that I am unable to put a finger on or find words to explain. And it’s come with the profound, but very quiet, realisation that I am mostly okay on my own. These are S’s words. We were talking about this the other day, each of us articulating the same thing even given the very opposing circumstances of our lives, and we were delighting in the fact that we’re in similar places of understanding of what it really truly means to be on one’s own.

What then, does one do with the constant thread of loneliness, and the need for connection that also exists, on the very flipped side of that same coin? It is there, all the time, undeniably so. A constant reminder that even as I discover facets of myself on a daily basis, unearthing unknown resources and reserves of self-love, and seeing how it manifests as new connection and healthy boundaries in my outer world, and even as I skim th surface of  the well-spring of belonging within myself, and as I teach myself to dip in, drink of it and fill myself up, in the end I am all alone.

What do I do with this, I wondered.

The past three days especially, these thoughts have peaked, as I consciously and unconsciously made time to just be with and by myself. And I realised this is a new kind of loneliness. A kind of solitude I am happy to choose. It doesn’t come from feeling alone or abandoned. It doesn’t spring from messages unanswered, plans deferred or any such basic occurrence. It comes from a sufficiency that has been slowly welling up inside of me. A settledness, a feeling or oneness with who I am discovering myself to be. And an understanding and experience of space, around and inside of me. Even the words and thoughts I have been thinking as I feel my way through this has been different, from before.

Only after some thought, and careful processing did I realise that this loneliness, is different from before. And I shouldn’t mix them up and confuse myself. This is the loneliness of finding myself. This is the slow, but full sweeping understanding of what it means to be enough. And that in the end, even with all our connections, relationships, families and society at large, we are all alone. That it is possible to hold my space, connect and feel utterly lonely all at once. Minus the fear, minus the abandonment that was once so easily triggered, minus the panic, minus the desperate need to distract myself from it.

It took a while to notice that this is no longer cerebral, and somewhere when I wasn’t looking has found a place somewhere deeper. I only realised it when I noticed that in flashes, in many little moments, acts of putting myself first and looking out for myself, that something has changed in the way I am presenting myself to the world. There is this new person slowly emerging from the bed of fertile soil that I have been nurturing — feeding, nourishing, watering, wand waiting over — for the past so many months. This new person feels lonely, but I am able to be with it and let it flow through, without much any effort at all. It has less control over me, doesn’t grip me in angst or desperation to connect and find people or things to fill it up with. Instead, when it presents itself, it sometimes makes me feel settled, near-perfect. And that was a confusing feeling, until I figured out what has actually happening.

This person has been showing up more and more of late, and I can’t wait for her to find her whole self and emerge. The process thrills me, and makes me feel like this, right here, is me living my best life. It feels so darn good to have this be a conscious, deliberate part of my life. This is the healthiest, fittest, most happy and mentally fulfilled I have felt in many years.

One year ago: Home where my love lies waiting

This is now

The weather is doing weird things. It’s overcast/cloudy sometimes, but mostly warm during the day. The rain is playing hooky again. It’s been raining in pockets, but mostly not in these parts. So many days I have smelt the air, thick with rain, but it seems to have just passed us by. But the evening skies have been sooooo dramatic and downright show-offy. Like all dressed up with nowhere to go. I took this on Thursday evening as I walked back home from Third Wave. Something about the shimmery lake, golden tinged everything and sparkly greens made me feel like I was in a Bangalore of some long forgotten past.

***

The past three days have been near perfect. Balanced, quiet, in sync and in flow.

Friday and Saturday were spent entirely at home. I felt like staying in, which was strange given that I had an unusually high number of options and invitations to get out and do something, all of which I declined.

I stayed in and did some reading ahead of my course that begins next week, wrote that letter, I watched some Netflix. I absolutely crushed it at the gym, got a long, very good head massage with amma, and ate all our meals together.

Balance.

***

I might have easily done another day of that, closing the weekend un utter sloth and relaxation, but I agreed to catch up with S, R and the kids for a morning of drawing in the park on Sunday, which turned into some painting, some playing catch and lots of lounging. This was followed by a long and lazy lunch. I wound up coming back home closer to 4, just in time to catch a short snooze. D showed up at about 6, and somewhere between sipping chai and stuffing my face with a palya-bun, we he made an insane spontaneous spur of the moment decision to drive to the Muji store. In freaking Whitefield. On a Sunday evening. If it weren’t for the very compelling pitch that was bolstered by the fact that all of Bangalore was indoors watching the India-Pakistan match, creating a near perfect reason to get out and drive that far, I’d have politely declined and gone back to bed with Netflix. But I agreed, and it was the most efficient, productive trip to Whitefield I have ever made. Especially because I have been wanting to go to the Muji store ever since I moved here two years ago, and will probably never make the yatra all on my own ever again.

Win. Win.

***

Every so often, I have days like this that feel like perfection. When everything flows, there is ease (as in lightness and freedom) and just so much space for everything to find its place and stay. Days that surprise me, as much as they feel right and like they were planned all along. Days that show me time and again what balance without effort looks like. Days when I feel just so tuned-in.

It’s on days like this that I manage to grab at emptiness, and find meaning. It’s like enjoying the warmth of a sunny day, without feeling the discomfort of heat. When I can catch in my hands the meaning of what it is to be. Not do. To just be, now. When I can parse away the heady castles in the air about what should be, and I shed the weight of what once was, and all I am left with is this moment, in the present. The now. And I’m realising this is all there is to be done, really. To be present, and go with it. Everything else is imagined.

One year ago: Love on a weekend
Three years ago: Work things that make me chuckle

Within me

Feeling all kids of quiet and snug within myself today. Content, to use a dull and inadequate word.

Excellent sleep. Daily, intentional exercise. Finally, finally some balance in eating intuitively to nourish rather than punish my body and myself.

Expansiveness between therapy sessions. Mindful observation and reflection. A beautiful containment of everything, a slow and deliberate process and awareness of what really is my process.

Getting out of my head and into my body more. Digging deep to find the constant spring of space and solidity, alongside a red-hot, just kindled, young and feisty fire.

*This is an old picture from a spectacular day in Paris, in September 2018.

One year ago: After the tears have washed your eyes
Three years ago: Just keep swimming