Awaaz do

Hum ek hain.

I really wish I had at least one video of this slogan, but every time that it was hurled out through the mic, I would freeze, my hair standing on end, driven to tears.

Sometimes I wonder what’s the point of taking myself to protests because I spend much of my time just crying, and wiping tears. So two nights ago when I headed to the first night of the 24/7 protest slowly growing outside the Frazer Town Mosque on MM Road, I wondered if maybe more than my doing something for the protest, the protest is doing something for me.

It has certainly been very cathartic for me. Just to be there, surrounded by swelling crowds of unity, finding a voice and joining in the slogans. Just saying Azaadi, over and over has been healing. For me.

After literal years of being a cynic and fearing this country is a lost cause in the hands of rogues, this past month has filled me up with hope. Literally, somatically, I have felt like I am being filled up by an energy I didn’t know we had as a country. Every time I have been at a protest I wonder where these people, people like me, have been hiding for all these years!

The MM Road protest has been incredible. Organised completely by and for women, it’s been an outstanding show of how ultimately it’s women who roll their sleeves up and get the job done. I’ve seen them there in huge numbers, big and little kids in tow, organising food, passing around water, multiple rounds of chai, and even coming back to collect trash.

At the foot of the stage, where woman after women goes up to speak or sing or chant or sloganeer, there is a makeshift activity centre of sorts. It’s not as fancy as I am making it sound, but it moved me immensely, because it was a sign of women doing what they need to, to get out of their homes to get the job done. It was well past 10 pm on Thursday night, and with  probably nowhere to leave their kids since they were out on the streets, several women gathered their kids together, distributed piles of paper, scattered some paints and crayons amidst them and asked them to stay together. The kids stayed, doodling, making posters, painting the tricolour on each others’ faces, while their mothers donned reflective jackets over their hijabs, and job hustling with their volunteer work.

I was there till well past midnight, all by myself, long after my friends left, and it was entirely safe, well organised, just so tremendous and inspiring.

I said this before, and I’ll say it again. This isn’t just about religious fundamentalism anymore (though that is also a big reason why we need to push back). This is about divisive politics. Politics that will come after minority after minority. Today it’s religious factions, but it wont be long before it irreversibly ruins the poor, Dalits, Adivasis, LGBTQIA folks, women and children.

Tomorrow marks 70 years of the Republic of India, and there is no better time to revisit and reassert our rights, and celebrate the very constitution that makes us who we are as a nation. The constitution that is at stake today.

All bets are off. The shiny veneer of the promise of development has all but faded. Unemployment is at its lowest. We’re in the midst of a full-blown agrarian crisis. The economy is in shambles and all we can seem to do is wring our hands and watch hopelessly. In fact, IMF is now pitting the global economic slowdown on India. And to top it all, our rights are severely at stake now.

The world is watching. Yesterday, The Economist revealed the cover of the first edition of the year. It reads “Intolerant India“.

We have got to stand up as one, like this matters. And like it matters to all of us alike.

***

The MM Road 24/7 (indefinite) protest is happening outside the mosque, opposite Carry Fresh Supermarket in Frazer Town. Today is Day 3, and there’s a lot of hope and determination to keep this going in support of the incredible women of Shaheen Bagh. If you’re in the city and you’d like to show your support, even if it is just for a short while, please consider going there.

This realy awe-inspiring piece talks about how it’s women taking the lead.

They need our support. Awaaz do, hum ek hain. 

One year ago: Full moon magic
Two years ago: Gravity is working against me
Four years ago: Love

Fitness in 2020

I took this picture on a particularly cold morning last week that took us all by surprise, after a spell of warm days, when D and I caught a mid-morning walk. The crunch in the winter morning air, misty treetops, dust-speckled sunlight slicing through, casting dappled shadows around. It was such a good morning to be out and moving.

It was a good day, in a week of almost no exercise. It hasn’t been the best time for exercise in general. And by that I mean, I’ve experienced better — better regularity, better commitment, better follow through — over the major part of last year. 2019 was largely a good year for health, and for fitness. I started to course-correct and bring myself back in the bandwagon and found what felt like the missing piece in healthy sustenance, the difference between fitness as a fix versus fitness as a lifestyle. And so I suppose in that case, I must accept that in exercise, as in life, there are fits and starts, periods when life happens in spaces other than the ones we’d like to keep flogging.

I have had a dry spell. It began way back in October when I went to Manali, where it was too cold to exercise, plus I was on holiday. Then we were in Goa to pack the house up and I got rained in, which made it impossible to keep a regimen going. And then I came back to a hectic few weeks of the last bits of my course, which went into December that had S visiting, and two back to back getaways, only to return in January. I’ve had fits of two week stretches of regular running and gym work in between all of this, but nothing longer.

Even in January, I started in the second week only to give it a break last week again, post my first workshop, when I typically have somatic changes and my body demands rest and slowness.

I observed this time though, the stress about the dry spells has all but vanished. I seem to be able to move in and out of the slumps as and when required. Give in and rest when my body or mind asks for it, minus (and I mean absolutely NO) guilt or shame, and get up and get going when I know it is time to move again.

Like I did this week. Resuming my morning workout, in earnest once again.

I still have starting trouble, seeing as how the mornings are still nippy and life under the covers is far more inviting than outside the covers. It takes a herculean amount of willpower to stay out long enough to brush my teeth and change out of my night clothes and into my gym clothes without slipping back into bed. Because the od time that I have done that, has meant a drastic change of plans. All plans for movement have been rendered shelved in favour of rest.

That said, once I am at the gym and working out, I feel almost immediately that getting out of bed has paid off. Days with exercise go far better than days without exercise. I know this for a fact, and I really count on the flow that starting the day with exercise brings.

In just two days this week, the energy feels different. And it’s uncanny that it will be exactly two weeks of this before I have to give myself a break again because I am off to Bombay for my next workshop.

And so I wonder if this is part of fitness as a lifestyle. As with everything else, I am seeing how to operate with ease and gentleness rather than by compulsion. To tune in and listen, rather than force myself to go against the grain.

I’m curious to see what fitness in 2020 holds.

One year ago: An inalienable joy of meeting grief
Four years ago: Bengloor-life banter

Can you hear the roar?

I have talked NONSTOP today. Too many words just to keep the incessant churn of emotions at bay.

I have talked nonstop today, when I wasn’t crying because today was emotions from the get go. I woke up amto messages that sec 144 had been imposed and that the protest I planned to go to would proceed with full preparedness to be arrested or detained.

I wasn’t sure what this meant or if I still should go. Clearly this time around we’ve scared them enough to take “pre-emptive”, unconstitutional action.

I wept as I watched the news online and saw things as they were unfolding on twitter.

This seemed like exactly what they want. Confusion and chaos. Mixed up locations. Misinformation. Detention of hoardes of people as a possible warning of things to come. Anything to keep people from showing up.

But guess what?

It didn’t work.

People continued to show up. Long after warnings were issues. Long after the stations assigned as detention centres got full. All through the day. Until they were granted permission to protest peacefully.

So I dropped everything and reached Town Hall.

And I wept some more.

For someone who spoke all day I have a lack of words to describe what I’m actually feeling. A full body surge of pride. I’ve been to protests before. But this felt different. This felt like it was backed by the spontaneous outpouring of unity not directed at any one religion or party or politician. This was people saying enough! People saying fuck you and your fascism.

We stood up and collectively flipped a massive middle finger at the powers that be today. I don’t know where or how far this will go but I have a hunch that this is just the start. Of a long and arduous but important fight. The revolution everyone says we need but didn’t see coming. I don’t know if we’ll win or we’ll lose but it makes me damn proud to know that I can look back on this week and think of not just Bangalore but the scores of places and the thousands of people and know that when it mattered, we showed the fuck up. FINALLY.

Today felt like a massive cumulative jack pot of fury and unity, pride and belonging, resistance and assertion all at once.

They tried every trick in the book to stop us today. And we didn’t relent. Of course I got there and wept some more. Not just at the people and the protestors but the placcards and slogans too and most of all at the incredible togetherness and connectedness of People going around passing on satchets of water, bananas, snacks, reminding each other to sit down and catch a breath, people offering each other banners and standing by each other shoulder to shoulder.

They tried every trick in the book to silence this. These fascists, they’re powerful. But they’ve got nothing in this massive outpouring of love I witnessed today.

In the end politics of hate can only be met and challenged by love. And today reaffirmed that for me. This love, it’s going to kill them one day.

One year ago: We got soul food in the house
Three years ago: Old and mighty

Better than yesterday, ready for tomorrow

I went to the protest yesterday and I was immensely moved. It was a relatively small gathering, unfortunately. But large in spirit, in voice and in intention. And it happened: I felt something welling up inside of me. In no time at all, my efforts to push back tears were futile. So I stood with the not-so-large crowd of women and men gathered at Town Hall on a Sunday morning, wiping away tears, looking and feeling quite foolish, really. But also feeling my body billowing with a mixture of helpless rage and frustration, mixed with a wild, unbridled wave of inspiration from some of the amazing women who had organised the protest and came forward to speak and share stories of their work with women, with children, and with disadvantaged sections of our society, on ground.

I was particularly enraged not to see a single social media influencer/celebrity with any reach or influence present on the day. That post Manu Chandra post about Bangalore mourning for Monkey Bar, that I spoke about the other day? That enraged me just as much. None of the many, many thousands in this city who are otherwise so quick to take to woke catch-phrases and news pieces, to carefully curate their words and build an image that plays nice and is sufficiently activist-ish and sufficiently pleasant, somehow didn’t find it in them to make it and show solidarity. Many, many regular city women showed up though. In their regular clothes and no photo opportunities. With placards, slogans and heartfelt intention and presence. And once again, the tears welled up.

I am feeling sick to the stomach and peoples duplicity in a world where a woke social media image is becoming everything. This has been a long time coming. Waking up to my own privilege has been a difficult, slow and often painful process. And for many years, I have had the luxury of turning away. While I figured out where I stand, while I allowed my politics to shift and grow, while I took care of my sanity. I had the privilege to turn away. Slowly, but surely though, now I have been feeling compelled to push through. Push through my fence-sitting, my incomplete opinions, my sometimes dilute politics, my apathy, my helplessness, my privilege to just turn a blind eye when things get uncomfortable. And I have been questioning my place in the larger landscape of our society, this country and what is happening around me. And in this context, I have been looking at people around me with new eyes. People whose minds I once admired, some of whom I called friends, people whose politics I aspired to. Many of them are unbearable today. I cannot bear the armchair activism anymore. It began with a disgust at my own, and a kick up my own backside about time running out.

I know, I am not a foot-soldier out there doing the work. Just listening to the women speaking yesterday reaffirmed that. I am not even a person of influence. And yet, there are little things I can do. I am feeling more and more that the time for aimless despair is done. It is time to walk the talk or forever hold ones peace. I do know that my heart and my body are pushing me to be different, to be better — that’s what this welling up and bubbling over of tears, time and time again, is. And I can no longer turn away.

My personal politics have been shifting for a while. I am not the person I was even one year ago, let alone 4-5-6 years ago. I don’t ascribe to many of the views I held then. I look back on posts I’ve written and feel a deep sense of what has changed, and what has remained. Lately, I’ve been feeling immensely disappointed in some of the severely liberal talk online, at the hands of folks who seem to only talk and not do much more than that. In them, I see where I once was. In them, I see an absolute stubbornness and a dangerous change-averse stand. In them I see the terrifying arrogance of believing their politics are all figured out, superior to everyone else’s and somehow an immovable, unchangeable thing. In them I see the dangerous idea that personal politics are cast in stone, need no examination, growth and evolution. I’m ashamed to say, I see this in some of my friends too, and I watch and listen quite confused many times, about which way to go, and what this means for our personal relationship, sometimes. It’s something I discuss a lot with S, seeing as how again, it is not something I can bring up with just about anybody. And so waking up this morning to see S on absolute fire (instagram stories, if you’re interested) it hit me: I am slowly moving away from safety in numbers, for the sake of safety in numbers. I want lesser and lesser to do with people who cling to echo chambers and folks who play niceties so hard they want nothing else but to be surrounded by people who only prop them up and never call out their inherent hypocrisies. This is essentially saying they are opposed to growth.

I find that exceedingly frightening. And I can no longer relate to it even for politeness sake.

***

Later last night, before I shut down my laptop for the day, I happened to check the news and picked up on Delhi burning. Once again I felt the tears rise up, and so I cried to myself, a mixture of confusion and anger, and just a heavy sense of hopelessness weighing down on me.

So is this what it’s come down to? Is this what those who voted this government in wanted in the name of Acche Din? Blood, hate, violence? The brazenness of it all, so blinding. The news continued to come in today, even though I haven’t looked it up and my laptop has stayed shut until now, when I reached out to begin writing this.

For over five years we’ve patiently, silently watched this government perpetuate atrocity after atrocity. One fuck up after another. We’ve stood by watching dodge criticism, silence dissent and opposition and continuously shift the goalposts. We’ve witnessed a slow brewing fascism take shape right in front of our eyes, and last night things may have gone just a bit too far. I have a deep gut feeling what has erupted is just the beginning. I am filled with pain and pride somehow.

This evening, S came over to talk shop and work, and of course we talked about the news. Once again the tears came up. It’s like on-tap these days. And I am a bit flummoxed at how much and how easily it is coming up. In certain spaces, with safe people, I am feeling pushed to a degree of deep vulnerability, it hurts. I feel thankful for friends like S, with whom I now have the language and the means to process nebulous, unnamed feelings like this. And so we did.

It was no coincidence that everything we talked about work and plans and what is to come, after that, was centred around giving this new for of work that I have stepped into, a place in the world.

And so we mind-mapped and vision-boarded the heck out of it, until I felt uplifted and like I could breathe again. It is time to walk the talk.

In the face of a country’s shared trauma, with violent atrocities being committed day in and out, with questions of who belongs and who doesn’t, what is justice and how can it be met, I feel more and more certain deep in my heart that I want to go beyond “doing the work” and making money. Beyond making this yet another professional choice. I want the work I now do to have context and depth, meaning and purpose and it has to shape the way that I bring this work to my world around me. And that thought gives me some much needed solace.

One year ago: Wait, can you turn around?
Two years ago: Clarity
Three years ago: Misty mountain hop

All I want for Christmas

Is a new prime minister.

Ughhh.

Have you read the New Yorker article yet? If not, stop everything youre doing and read it now.

***

Precious little that Bangalore auto rickshaw art really does and means, finding unexpected resonance for my inner rage this past week, this auto in Indiranagar made me smile.

One year ago: I got this feeling inside my bones
Three years ago: Indian women speak out about choosing not to have children

Some light

Assam is in flames. Kashmir is still largely under a communication lockdown, even though we’ve heard of it being lifted in parts. Between Article 370, the Ayodhya verdict, the passing of the Trans Bill and the amendments to the Personal Data Privacy Bill, and the devastating Citizenship Amendment Bill, we’re fast, fast, fast sinking to new lows as a country thats normalizing politics of fear and hate with shrinking space for dissent and alternative opinions.

And yet, I had the privilege of going to a talk yesterday, between Ram Guha and Rajdeep Sardesai, about the latters new book chillingly titled How Modi Won India. It was an astute and frank conversation that plain and simply and matter of factly painted a picture of things as they stand and what has brought us here, covering a surprisingly wide ground to include everything from the political strategy of hate that we see today which is actually over 50 years in the making, the complicity of media and other institutions that are slowly being hyponitised and put to sleep, and what we as citizens can do to organise ourselves and push back.

The mood was grim and bleak, no doubt. But I came out oddly uplifted and feeling a an unexpected air of optimism, simply from being in a room full of people with shared opinions. In a time where I am a minority even in my own family in this regard, I have physically felt the shrinking of space to voice my opinions. I am mostly mum, and the little I share is met by stony silence. It’s easy to slip into glass-is-half-empty mode, and yesterday made me feel like it might be half-full.

Last week, someone shared with me a post about a “silent protest” complete with candles, wreaths, black bands and over 2000 (!!!) people who congregated to “mourn” the shutting down of Monkey Bar — a hip Bangalore eatery and pub. Food bloggers and general whos-who of Bangalore have been up in arms tweeting from the rooftops about what a tragic loss this is to the restaurant landscape of the city. BOOHOO, that’s one less restaurant on a street that has some 500 restaurants anyway, creating a noise and trash debacle night after night that nobody seems to want to address.

The climate strike in Bangalore in September on the other hand only saw about 1000 participants. Lately I’ve been feeling quite fed up with my own sense of despair and helplessness, and asking of myself what I can do to get past it. In the new year, I’m going to try in my own limited way, to get out and do a tiny little bit.

I’m going to begin by trying to show up as often as I can. If you’re in Bangalore, join us at Town Hall to table actionable demands for ways in which the police and judiciary can stop failing women.

I’m going to be there.

And if you’re in Bhubaneshwar, Chennai or Delhi, here are details for simultaneous protests in your city.

This tunnel is grim and dark most days, these days, but there is a light at the end of it, I think.

One year ago: Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
Three years ago: 6 am essentials

Up and about

Im wired and totally buzzed on a high energy, productive day spent out and about. Getting shit done, talking endlessly and thrashing out ideas and discussing ways to see them to fruition. I haven’t had this sort of an upswing in an outward moving energy, in years. It’s been two since I have slowly and gradually petered the freelance writing to the back burner. I’ve been in shifting-gears mode for so long now, not quite sure which lane to pick and which stream to find my flow in. But suddenly, after what feels like way too long spent thinking about things alone, I am making moves towards seeing new dreams to reality. And today, that energy was palpable.

Zipping thru the city, I realised this is in some measure what I missed towards the end of my days in Goa. This palpable feeling of swimming in a fully flowing stream of getting shit done. I have so so so missed this feeling, this distinct sense of satisfaction.

S and I ate a massive Vietnamese lunch to celebrate the excellent good beginnings and quick progress. And because she’s superstitious like that, we will follow it up with a consecutive day of work tomorrow.

I am so thrilled to be back in work mode. But in an entirely new way from anything I have ever done before. Not just in the nature of the work but the manner in which I am having to function and the way in which this will put me out in the world.

I am so excited for what the new year will bring.

One year ago: Abiding faith and peace of mind

New love

One of the things I’ve been grateful for in the past six months is the companionship I have shared with S. As a co-learner, but also as a curious person in the world, keen to understand ones place and how to belong. It’s been an ongoing journey and I have realised time and time again what a boon it has been to have someone who shares and understands this journey so keenly. It has taken the edge off the loneliness many times, it has given me a sense of belonging too. It most of all it has given me yet another safe space to take every little nook and turn of my bumbling journey so it can be held and heard.

So many gems emerge from our ongoing sharing. On chat, in person, while we have studied, while we have worked and now, as we plan our work as fellow practitioners.

Today’s gems:

I’m not disconnecting. I’m individuating.

An examined life takes hard work.

What is being separate? And what is the bond of love that can connect even as I hold my own separately?

It’s thoroughly refreshing to share with someone who isn’t in a rush to spout intellectual, cognitive, nearly figured out answers to all our questions. Someone with whom I can throw around the ideas bouncing about in my head, and hold them as unanswered questions still. Giving space for the answers to emerge in their own time.

This is not a friendship I went into with any intention of cultivation like one does sometimes. It kind of happened and grew organically over shared experiences. In a year that has thrown so many friendship rude shocks my way, this has been such a pleasant surprise.

There is a very refined quality to this friendship that I haven’t had ever in my life. And I am enjoying it with such relish.

Three years ago: Looking back

Life goes easy

Somehow, spontaneous Monday lunch has become an unplanned thing. Yesterday, when VC and I realised that Vidyarthi Bhavan is just a 17 minute direct metro ride away from us we decided to go there for lunch. Spontaneously. They have such odd timings, so this was also a great tactic to beat the crowds — reaching there at 2 pm which is opening time.

It’s supposedly the Mecca of doseys in Bangalore and I was going back after over a decade. The place looks exactly like I remember it from my last visit which was so far back I don’t know when it was. It’s just spruced up and cleaner, I think. The doseys, on the other hand, were a bit underwhelming. I know I could spark off a potential South versus North Bangalore war, but really, I think CTR wins this round for me. And it will probably stay at the top of my dosey list as a clear winner for a very long time to come, by the looks of it. I was happy for the outing though. For the metro ride. For the spontaneity.

***

I’m revelling in my home again, like I said yesterday. However today, I realised I need to also get out and find a space of my own from where to get work done. It’s becoming exceedingly difficult to do it from home. Especially since VCs return, the new adjustment and excitement of having him home all day long, and the added element of having to now adjust my space around his. He did something in one week that I hadn’t done in the two years since we moved here — turned the extra bedroom into an office/work space. I’m glad he did because finally that room is being used, and not feeling like that ghosty isolated, pointless room that it used to. The house feels filled out and lived in. And yet it’s left me feeling a bit displaced. Sitting at the dining table is not working for me. Lying in bed, impossible.

I feel the need to not only separate my workspace from his, but also my own workspace from life-space. Nothing confirmed it more than what happened earlier today. After procrastinating on an important task all week, simply because I haven’t had the mind-space to work from feeling so displaced, I sat at Koshys for half an hour today and banged it out like it was waiting to come out of me. A cup of hot tea, music in my ears and a desk of my own is all it took.

I realised I need a space of my own. A space that’s not at home. Even if it’s not a fixed space, I need to take myself out of what is essentially a domestic area now, and get going with all these things I’ve been brewing up inside of me.

***

Meanwhile, the waves of grief continue to come. I’ve almost got it down pat now. The cues, the coming of the wave, I ride it and it and it ebbs and flows, and leaves. I wonder how much more there is to feel so much about. I know everything I changing and I feel so deeply unsettled already. In addition I can also already see how my reactions to so many things are changing. So now, in addition to lamenting the changes itself, I also feel a pang for the fact that my stock responses are changing too. It’s like letting go of parts that I have held close to me, parts that I have known to be me. And in their place there is, once again, emptiness. A new emptiness waiting to take life again. But that is a slow process of its own making. I cannot rush it.

I feel naked like a baby. And it’s a very vulnerable and exposed state to be in. I feel sensitive and touchy and just a lot of wanting to be on my own. It’s not going down well with folks around me hahaha. Oh well, c’est la vie.

One year ago: Anyway, I should be doing alright

Rant

As a city dweller who routinely braves the crowds and gets out and about to function, I am also routinely faced with dismal truths and realities about human nature. The fact that it’s a dog-eat-dog world has never been so apparent and in my face, as it has when navigating life in Bangalore.

Sometimes, many times, I feel we don’t deserve good things. Like public transport, infrastructure, organised means to get places. Because we always find ways to ruin whatever little steps we make towards these improvements. And so the system is constantly stuck in a loop to level up the system to make amends for the fuck ups we cause by simply not behaving like humans.

It’s very disappointing, and I often feel despair at where we can even begin to make amends, and overwhelmed at what it will take to even take that first meaningful impactful step, helpless when I’m standing in queue ready to get on to the Metro fully in firm faith that I must do what’s right by me even though the crowds don’t get what queues are, what these arrow markings on the floor are, and are generally clueless about how to exist in a peaceful and non competitive way.

One year ago: I can buy the sunshine

Keep going

I made it from home to town in just fifteen minutes today. This, after waking up late and feeling extremely slow to start, leaving later than usual and thinking I’m not going to make it to class in time.

Bangalore is such a dream on winter mornings like this. Bright and cool, full of life.

It was just one of those bright and sunny days, with no traffic and all green lights. I’ll take that as a sign for a massive go-ahead from the universe.

Three years ago: ‘ssupdates

Pause

Today was rest day, before I go back tomorrow for the big exam. And I spent the day mostly chilling, because it’s been a rather intense couple of days with all the examination prep and practice that I’ve been doing. I woke up with what felt like a trauma or vulnerability hangover, with a dense head and knew at once that I needed to just decompress and conserve energy. And so I cancelled plans to get out and meet S. Instead, VC, Niyu and I went to NGMA to check out the Prabuddha Dasgupta show that’s happening there (It’s on for nearly a month more, and it’s quite excellently curated, in case you’re interested in that kind of thing, and you’re in Bangalore). And then we had a lazy cup of tea each, after which I lunched with Amma and Niyu. A longish nap, an evening spent drawing with Niyu, chatting with VC and her, and a masala dosa for dinner later, I’m in bed at 8 pm.

I’m not feeling quite ready for tomorrow, in terms of my energy levels. But a part of me also wants to get the next two days over with, so I can dive into my plan to get a break and some distance from this work in December. I feel the need to process, to regroup and re-compartmentalise and digest all these learnings within myself. I feel so full, and I feel the need for things to settle in me. For the learning to become muscle memory. So I can get more ease with working through my body than my head/mind.

It was a good day for a pause, but today I felt like it was just not enough and it makes me increasingly present to the fact that my internal pace has slowed down so very much.

That’s all.

One year ago: Discover some new truth that was always wrapped around you
Three years ago: Paint me like the sky

<3

It has been a good, good week. And the highlight, quite easily, is having VC back home. We’ve been like stuck records repeating to each other, umpteen times, over the last week: This last year, living apart, was the best thing we could have done. Because from time to time, we realise the little things that have changed about us, within us, and the way in which we’re being different around and with each other.

Just a week since we’ve returned, VC has already flown off to Bombay today for a bunch of meetings, and I suddenly found myself with a day to myself.  It sparked so many thoughts.

On how living apart unconsciously made us experience individuating in this relationship too. How that has somehow brought us closer. How I think this might be a good thing to do every few years, if the need arises. But I’ll save that for another day. But for now, just gratitude for this here. For going full circle. For love.

One year ago: One day in Bangkok (or day one in Bangkok)
Two years ago: Acceptance is a small, quiet room
Three years ago: Guess I’ll have to leave some stuff behind

Out of the park

Today, I just want to document what a lovely day it was.

It began with two hours of gardening. I say “gardening” but actually it was just a lot of repotting and trimming and pruning and setting things right with my plants. For two days since they’ve landed I’ve been meaning to get to them. They looked like the journey had been quite rough on them. But other unpacking and settling at home took precedence. And so this morning when I woke up too sore to make it to the gym, I decided it was a good time to get to them.

Let it be known that I have fully turned into that proper crazy plant lady who did this for two hours straight: phailaoed squelchy red earth all over my balcony (confirming any speculation about my finicky, cleanliness freak side being laid to rest) so I could fix them all and settle them into their new home, all the while talking to them.

Aside from the sheer tactile pleasure of sticking my hands in the dirt, caring for plants really grounds me. And like D said to me this morning when I shared my excitement, something about bringing plants home and watching them grow settles me into this feeling of being home. It makes things extra homely.

I then cooked us a fish curry from a prawn curry recipe that I tweaked mildly to have with dosas for lunch. Then, at about noon VC and I shared a small piece of some truly beautiful edible that R shared with us. And we then had lunch and settled with our respective laptops. Me doing some work, VC watching his latest TV show obsession. I was in a very mellow and enjoyable state of mind and I thought that was it — this edible was smooth, simple enough, good.

Still in a very dreamy space, I set off to meet S. Armed with an aloo bun for each of us, I went to Cubbon Park where we decided to meet for a change. Nothing went right at the start: I didn’t get a cab or auto for half an hour, and realised I could have just as well taken the metro in that much time. Then it took another fifteen minutes to hail an auto off the kerb. But somehow it felt like I cruised through the irritation untouched. Floating above it all.

All the way there I listened to music and I was filled with pure joy at being out. It was a perfect November day. There’s enough of a nip in the air to need a light sweater. And yet the sun is out, making it delightful to be outdoors. The sky was bright and blue. The clouds cottony and wispy. The breeze sharp, making my finger tips numb. and suddenly I was giddy with excitement at the idea of sitting in a park, under the trees.

S was late so I walked around by myself. Sat on a bench. Watched people, petted friendly mutts, contemplated many things, watched the trees. Breathed. I felt excessively blissful and filled with a heady euphoria.

S arrived and we gabbed while we polished off aloo buns, bought some really good milky, sweet chai from passing chaiwallahs. There was so much to catch up on and gush over, we lost track of time, my mind short-circuiting with so many ideas sparking at once and motivation spiking like it does when I’m in the company of a like-minded buddy on the same wavelength.

Today was just one of those really simple, but super satisfying, excessively joyful days and I want to remember it. It feels like the coming together of so many little things that made for one lovely day. On my ride back in the metro, I realised that the unnamed dissatisfaction I felt in the years of 2015-16, was a longing for a life quite like this. I didn’t have the words then, but I had an image, a picture of what my life would entail, down to wanting public transport, people of my wavelength to hang out and spar with intellectually, a life of my own routine and making, a life of relaxing the controls and being guided by something within.

And somehow thats exactly the life that’s panning out for me these days. I want to say this is serendipitous, but I want to acknowledge for a change, the truth about the amount of conscious dreaming, deliberate choices and putting myself and my desire for better (in all its ever morphing glory) and focusing unrelentingly on what I want more of on my life, this has taken.

I’m noticing a great, great increase in my capacity to relax lately. Not in the everyday sense of chilling externally, but as an internal easing up and letting go of the controls some more. Consuming an edible on a random Thursday morning? Meeting a friend for a hang in a park? Vibe-ing over work and play at once and feeling thrilled (and not intimidated) by the prospects? That’s a new one even for me. It’s been the perfect day to get out. And we couldn’t have picked a better day to be in the park.

One year ago: I have tried in my way to be free
Three years ago: Homeward bound

Movie misgivings

S and I decided to meet today. But rather than hangout, like we probably should have, I decided we should watch The Sky Is Pink. Between travels to Manali and Goa I missed it entirely and it’s now down to just one show, which should probably have been a sign. When I suggested it to S, she was so quick to agree, it seemed she wanted to watch the movie too.

Today though as I was making my way to the multiplex, S got there before me and sent me a panicked, “macha are you taking me to a Priyanka Chopra movie?!!

That should have also been by cue to change the plan spontaneously to go sit somewhere and gab, because we had oh so much to catch up on too. But we decided to waste three hours in a movie bass instead. And I’m saying waste because that’s what the movie was. A waste.

I came away not knowing if this was a movie about the spirit of life and survival with a brave front in the face of death, or a film about a mother whose entire life is consumed by caring for a terminally ill child, or if it was about all of the things that a family goes through in the peculiar situation they find themselves in — rallying around a child whose life comes with a quick end date. I have no idea. PC gets so much screen time, and I find her to be such an unnatural and forced actor, while Farhan Akhtar and Zaira Wasim were clearly the bright lights that saved the movie. It had its moments — of humour, some sparse good writing, poignant dialogues — but overall the story just didn’t come together for me. In narrating the story from the afterlife, so to speak, one knows right off the bat that Aisha dies. And it just left me wondering from time to time, where is this going? Of course there is also my other usual complain with pretty much every Hindi film: it was unnecessarily long. I don’t know why we consistently get our writing so wrong, why we get so caught up in spelling everything out rather than leaving things to be seen and not told, why every story ends up being so mashed up like baby food and spoonfed to audiences. Movie makers must really take their audiences to be fools?

I know this is an unpopular view because the movie seems to have touched and tugged at heartstrings across the board. But I came away dissatisfied. Perhaps more so because I could have spent that time with S instead of being forced into silence in a dark movie hall trying to figure out what was going on with this film.

To make up for it though, we had a solid Mallu mess meal, complete with boiled rice, chamandi and aila fry. And an Iyengar Bakert butter biscuit each to finish it all off.

Sigh.

One year ago: But if you try sometimes you might find, you get what you need
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: The sweet, sweet taste of acceptance