It’s been a long time coming

I got back to my daily walks pretty soon after we got home from Benaras. Summer is here, good and proper. So it’s ridiculously bright, warm and muggy at 7 am, not at all like the crisp mornings I enjoyed when I left for Goa.

I felt physically uncomfortable for days after we returned, feeling my body heat and dry up from the inside out. It was like my insides were revolting the drastic turn in climate. Would you believe Goa was cooler?

On the upside bright, early mornings have meant waking up super early to sunshine streaming through my curtains. The exact opposite of winter when it’s dark and grey, making it impossible to wake up and get going.

So, waking up has been easy. It’s been good but more than that, the feeling of getting going, of the wheels beginning to move and run from the get go, is such a summer feeling I love.

And then there’s splendour like this where I go for my walk/run. And it has made all the difference in helping me stay consistent.

Since the start of the year, I’ve listened as my body as asked for a little movement, and then some more and a little more. I started with walking on Sunday, then a few more times in the week, then I started running some of the time before eventually rejoining my yoga class. Slowly, I’ve been feeling my body come alive after a whole year of what felt like hibernation.

This week, I went back to a gym. My body has been screaming for some weights and so I listened. It’s been five days and such a viscerally felt thrill to be back on a treadmill, pounding the kms away, picking up a pair of dumbells even more so.

This sense of an awakening in my body has been slowly trickling in spurts. This week I really felt like I’d rekindled and revisited an old friend within me. And old self I’d loved and lost. And regained again. That meeting, that felt like a coming back home to myself once again.

It’s been just so, so, so good to be back.

One year ago: Love, let’s talk about love
Three years ago: On unlearning and relearning order

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Happy spots

I watched Daniel Fernandes perform Shadows tonight. I’ve been thinking I haven’t really explored comedy, despite having access to so many live shows here in Bangalore so last week it was past midnight and I was having trouble so I was browsing a booking app (yeah, this is what happens when you have no social media) when I saw he was performing in town. I didn’t bother to check where, just went ahead and bought myself a ticket.

This morning, when figuring out how to get to this venue I’d never heard of, I realised it was a club all the way across town — I’m talking 50 minute drive even early on a Sunday evening. Not an auditorium like I’d imagined, or like the place I watched Abhishek Upmanyu. Suddenly, momentarily, I was a little apprehensive, wondering what it might be like going to a club alone. Would it be worth the long drive, going alone? Where would I sit, who would I sit with, what would I do, what would it look like? But I went anyway, I wanted to watch him live.

To my surprise and absolute delight, I was seated at a table with five other girls who had come alone too. Initial awkwardness and some stolen glances trying to figure out if any of them were going to be joined by friends later, when the last girl to arrive filled the only remaining seat at the table, we all let out a collective guffaw of relief simultaneously realising we were all on our own.

This was the highpoint of the evening for me. It was liberating to be alone (and I hope I do more of this), and yet I felt a sense of communion to be seated at the table with these girls who were all there because they wanted to watch Daniel live, and couldn’t wait to find company. I checked, I asked each of them.

I’m someone who spent the entire duration of my 20s partnered, and nursing a such a strong yearning for a tribe that I often settled for whatever form that it came my way. I’ve been in a motley assortment of groups and cliques, and when I look back on these experiences I do feel I missed out a lot on the essence of me. Maybe I’d have done a lot more things differently, a lot of things on my own if I had half the sense of self worth I have today.

That evening I felt like I lived a little bit of an experience I knew I had missed, but that I didn’t know I could have now.

Solitary comedy shows. Solitary beers. Solitary long drives back home. And it’s own kind of contentment.

***

The special itself? Shadows — it was quite good. I went without expectations, to be honest. I’ve really liked some of Daniel’s work in the past, but I’ve also sometimes squirmed at some of the things he has said and done. I had no context about what he’s been up to in recent time. Because, no social media. So I literally went in blind.

Shadows wasn’t a ribticklingly funny stand up special. It was the brand of comedy that’s real, honest, a bit dark and intense in parts. Heavily autobiographical, it draws on experiences he’s had over the last 7 years of his life since turning to comedy as a career. From quitting a safe job, being broke, dabbling in comedy, navigating the scene, fighting the expectations and norms of family and society, realising he’s a square peg in a world of round pegs, and learning to be okay with it — the show had a lot of bits that resonated with me as it would with everyone who watches it I’m pretty sure. It was the kind of show that had more awkward silences, emotional pauses and squeamish stifled laughs, rather than loud raucous laughter because it was just that real.

I think what I enjoyed the most was the overarching theme of journeying towards an authentic self, even when realising what you’re discovering it isn’t as pretty a picture as you imagine. And being okay with that.

To embark on this journey needs courage, to talk about it even more so, but to turn it to art and perform it, knowing it may or may not be received the way one expects — the reactions may range from extreme validation to hate — and to do it anyway requires a whole different level of vulnerability. And that’s the bit that touched me the most.

***

Last week, I caught up with V after what felt like 10+ years even though we briefly hung-out over a very hurried meal in Goa some 5 years ago. In the years between then and now he’s gotten married and is now a father to a 2.5 year old baby boy. In the years between, we have also completely lost touch. Not even exchanging the occasional message. So when we decided to meet, I went armed with a book, fully anticipating our lunch would be a quick affair, and I’d make use of the journey into town, hanging out and reading some place quiet.

BUT, we ended up catching up in such intense detail. Discussing everything from politics to marriage, children and pets, future careers and whatnot. And we didn’t leave. For. SIX. HOURS. Over way more beer than I have consumed in a single sitting in about as many years as it has been since I used to know him.

It was fun, yes. But it was also heartwarming that it was possible. It was heartwarming to be surprised. I don’t know if this will happen again, or it even means anything significant for our friendship, but I will cherish that day and that meeting for a while.

***

There was also a stunning lunch at SodaBottleOpenerWala and a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon with D that will be unforgettable for entirely different reasons that I cannot disclose here, and cannot even recollect without laughing so hard, I tear up. But I’m putting it down here so I will never forget.

***

One year ago: Flowers in the window
Two years ago: Moved to tears

Another favourite

Play time has gotten off to an excellent, excellent start. I ticked this one off the bucket list too, last night.

I kid, again. There is no bucket list. Just opportunities for things I’ve been wanting to do that have been consistently showing up. And the rather uncharacteristic reaction of jumping into them with minimal thought.

I’ve been trailing Abhishek Upmanyu (who I absolutely love, love, lovvvveee), and this show particularly, for about a year, I think. Either I missed the dates because of all the travel I had going on last year or I’d be late to wake up and book tickets, or they’d be too expensive. But things aligned last month when I spotted the show, saw tickets were affordable and available. I did the logical thing to do, asked around to see if anyone else wanted to go with me. Nobody did. The logical thing to do then, or what I would have typically done, was can the plan.

Instead, I booked myself a single ticket and decided to go on my own.

So there I was last night, by my lonesome, surrounded by a demographic that had showed up in deafening numbers — very loud, Hindi-speaking, 20-something boys. It was so fascinating to be an observer.

The show, of course, was so completely worth it. Upamanyu lives up to all the hype, to his online persona, to my huge expectations of him. After the show, I treated myself to a drink and dinner out by myself before I headed back home.

I had a really good time. Bangalore makes me feel free in some ways and yesterday was laced all over with that feeling of freedom.

***

I’m a bit high on just how good this week has been to me. This was meant to be a time for celebration. I am balking at how without much deliberation or execution on my part, it has somehow been exactly that, almost as if by some divine plan.

Actually, the fun began last week. I’ve had two full weeks with so much fun, enough alone down time, and little space for much else that could bring me down. I have been extra happy and at ease. Like I’m in a bubble, and nothing can touch me.

It peaked and showed at therapy — possibly my best, most path-breaking session yet. It was so good to tie up some loose ends and soak in that feeling of completion, from understanding where this is coming from, and how far I’ve moved to find myself here today.

I also got an inordinate amount of work done ahead of upcoming travel, so I have freed up enough time to chill when I’m away.

I had an unbroken ten day streak of daily exercise, and I’m feeling that good feeling from within. Cleaner from eating better, leaner from really enjoying working out again.

The Bonobo gig has mildly blown my mind. But it wasn’t just the gig. Something about the entire experience softened me some. To let go of my reservations, give in to fun just the way it was left me feeling light and playful. This is precious, it’s like tapping into a previously untouched part of myself and surprising myself with the realisation that hey this is fun too, who knew? It’s like discovering an old, young side of yourself you didn’t know still existed, you know?

I enjoyed dancing so much. It’s been years since I went to a club, just with the express intention to dance the night away, or just danced with abandon for no apparent reason. I had a phase in 2015, where I massively binged on all kinds of dancing. I’d found myself in a clique of people who frequently partied, not to drink, not to socialise but only to dance. And we went at it with the regularity and focus we brought to working out. I had even signed up at a dance class and spent 6 months learning to jive, salsa and also bachata a bit. But there’s been nothing since. Dancing that night made me realise how much I love to do this once in a while, and how much finding the right company for it matters.

Bob’s Bar was so fun. So reminiscent of the kind of drinking joints we’d frequent when I was in college. That typical Bangalore breed of bar that’s buzzing at 5 pm on a weekday. Also, full marks for the clever name and most excellent chicken pakodas.

I’ve been enjoying the city so much off-late. Really indulging the city-slicker in me. Taking cabs to zip around the city, any time of day or night, having an “office” at the local coffee shop (where I have become something of a permanent fixture in the afternoon), enjoying Cubbon Park, taking full advantage of the multiple exercise options within driving distance of home, having access to a pretty good array of festivals and shows, exploiting the spoils of good weather to walk as much as I can, having my friends in the same city as me, and living right next door to my parents.

I’ve realised that my years in Goa, blissful as they were in their own way, abruptly ended my access to this kind of city joy. While I adjusted to and enjoyed Goa thoroughly, there’s a part of me that has really felt a deep void from not having these indulgences. As much as I embraced the small, simple life, this big, loud life with so much access has my heart some times. At least at this point in my life, this makes sense. It fits and I’m glad I get to experience it fully.

I feel utterly fortunate for the chance to have a foot in both places so I can enjoy them both alike, without missing out or feeling a sense of lack for either. I’m not ready to choose one over the other. So for now, this makes sense. It fits.

At the gig, I met a friend I used to be pretty thick with in 2002-2003, with whom I’ve totally lost touch with in the years since. We were standing beside each other for a full ten minutes before he noticed me. Turns out he’s still in my phone book, but I hadn’t thought to let him know I’d moved. He was offended, and that surprised me. So we parted with a promise to catch up. It was so unlikely, unexpected, but just so heartwarming.

I had three instances this week, where I caught myself sticking my neck out to preserve a healthy boundary, valuing my time and choosing well by me. In all three instances, I chose to express my feelings rather than couch them or make them palatable in some way. I didn’t even realise it was happening in the moment, but much later when I was thinking about it, I felt excited and incredibly happy to see old patterns that once plagued me are slowly breaking away and the evidence of a new possibility emerge from each of these events.

I’ve been feeling very centred — possibly thanks to the point above — thanks to a very obvious sense of some of these pieces of my life falling into place. There is contentment with things just as they are, in a constant state of straddling perfection and imperfection. There is gratitude for this strange journey and all the many twists and turns it has taken, and continues to take. This feeling has only been growing as the days go by, and I find myself really feeling “enough”. Fulfilled, wholesome, whole, complete. I was writing this in my journal the other day, when I landed on this page that I’d scribbled randomly into a page in between, somewhere at the start of December.

When will it be enough? has long been a big question in my life, fuelled by that itching constant yearning for something more. This wasn’t the positive, healthy passion for seeking more, this has always felt more like a slightly dark, gnawing want that was driven by a definite sense of lack.

To have completely by fluke, scribbled my way to land on that very page, on a day when everything felt so complete, just sooooo enough, made me tear up.

At this point, everything is enough. It has been for a while now. And I see it, and take it in completely today.

Is there anything more delicious than the serendipity of long-unanswered questions finding happy resolution in a time and place one least expects?

One year ago: If you could change your mind
Three years ago: Make like a tree

You’re my favourite, you’re my favourite

Ticked this off the bucket list, last night.

I’m kidding. I don’t have a bucket list. But I did go to what I think was a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity gig, for me.

To catch only like my most favourite DJ live, in Bangalore, was wild. I almost wouldn’t have gone if Niyu hadn’t pushed me to. I was being my usual finicky self preempting loud, large crowds, dusty outdoors and badly organised scenes.

However, I am so glad I pushed my adult worries aside and went anyway, because the rest of it wasn’t half bad, and the gig was insane good.

Fitting way to kick off play time.

I booked my ticket all alone, prepared to just go by myself. But I ended up tagging along with Niyu and a bunch of her almost-30 year old friends, so I did things I haven’t done in a long time — absolute years. Dressing up! Pre-gaming at Bob’s Bar. Walking to the gig in our “outrageous” clothes. Consuming whatever alcohol I could get my hands on. Coming home with super achy feet and quads from all the dancing. Waking up severely hungover this morning.

It was oddly freeing. And it certainly helped that it was a cracker of a live set.

I mean she was there. *all the heart eyes*

And in classic Bonobo style, a full band too with the whole deal — drums, keys, guitars, trumpets, sax, strings — for all the instrumentation.

My only complain was that it ended too soon, in utterly predictable Bangalore fashion, at 9.45 pm. *eyeroll*

BUT, they played one of my current obsessions:

And if you’re enthu, here’s the official video:

And even though this felt like a once-in-a-lifetime gig, I’m already setting my intention and wishes on a do-over. Preferably outside India.

Universe, make it happen.

One year ago: There’s still time to change the road you’re on
Three years ago: Cloudless skies

Born again, all grown up

I’ve been feeling overwhelmingly content. Like there’s just so much of this good life, I can’t get enough of it, I’m too small to take it all in, it’s abundance spilling over from all around me.

Everything is a bit superlative right now. All the words are excessive and extra. And even then the words to explain how new this all feels aren’t enough.

I feel young, tender, and wide open like a child. I also feel very confident, whole and empowered like an adult. All kinds of grown up.

I feel whole, like stepping into a new door with new agency. New energy.

This is new. This is mine. And I don’t have to fight for it anymore.

So much gratitude for where I am today. For how for the first time in probably my entire life I feel a sense of balance. Of everything being right just as it is. No unquenched yearning, no burning desire, no sense of longing or incompleteness for anything.

I have never known this before and I feel such immense gratitude for having arrived here.

One year ago: We’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got

Renewal

It’s that time of year. Overnight, the streets are carpeted with leaves that were shed literally between one day and the next.

This morning as I began my run, I noticed the path ahead was strewn heavy in a thick layer of golden shedding. If this isn’t one giant metaphor for letting go and ushering in the new, I don’t know what is.

Last year too, I remember feeling like this was a time of transition and noticing it in the way the leaves had shed all around.

I’ve been feeling that same sense of a lot changing and moving ahead even as a calm core seems to be solidifying within me. It’s hard to explain how the two exist simultaneously. And yet it’s what it is, seemingly silent and calm, but growing within.

There’s been a very vivid sense of shedding skin, coming into my own again. Almost like a new birth and a new beginning. Perhaps this, much like a lot of things in nature — the full moon, the timely rain, the necessary autumns — are transitions that happen in their time. We are in sync. We just don’t notice it as much.

Today I felt a resonance with the shed leaves. There is a brimming newness, the fragrance of promise and best of all, the newest feeling of them all — an ease with a natural witnessing or this passage. As it comes, so it must leave too. I’m in agreement with these cycles.

One year ago: I must be the luckiest alive
Three years ago: Beach bum

Super-power

I’ve peeled myself, and I’m only nearly halfway done
I’ve pulled myself out, and I’m still in, waist-deep
I’ve picked myself dry, and I feel anew.
I’ve cracked open the box I’ve only ever held closed shut
Only to find that inside,
It isn’t filled with truths I can touch
Or make mine in an instant.
It feels empty, but I look deeper within it’s drawing darkness
And I find only more questions, leading me on,
I find gratitude I want to reach out and kiss.
A whoop of laughter, a big gulp of life,
A tender lock of loneliness, a feather-touch of grief, still,
An inner steadiness,
And an invisible calm that fits in my palm.
It’s my super-power. What’s yours?

***

Last week was such a good week. Yes, even with the way it started. Even with everything that transpired. There were flowers in my home, night rains, many much-needed coffees, lots of time spent in bed, a significant amount of writing, mostly being alone by myself at home, a day with S, lots of time and space for me, many letters and postcards written, every yoga session fulfilling, a fabulous post-rain Sunday walk that was longer and faster than usual, an excellent and game-changing session at therapy, a certain togetherness that I felt palpably around me. And a deep, deep sense of calm within.

Three years ago: Fail

Of days that turn around

Allowed myself to bunk yoga and sleep in today.

Then I watched a shitty, shitty movie that I really shouldn’t have wasted my time with.

Made up for wasted time with an afternoon of work and a huge headstart on the month’s deliverables.

Followed it up with a good chat and an iced coffee.

And then this, wandering in the crotch of Bangalore, following our noses and the warm smells of fresh street food, was like the icing on the cake.

Some days really do turn around dramatically.

One year ago: The only baggage you can bring is all that you can’t leave behind

Weekend highs and lows

After a very long time, I had a weekend all to myself. A weekend that I spent almost entirely at home, just being a cooped up chicken. Just the way I like it sometimes. I cancelled all possibility of plans that could have materialised. I went for walks in the morning. I cooked full meals for myself. I had a massive Netflix binge. I read a book I’ve been attempting to begin since the beginning of January. I had long and winding conversations with VC.

On Saturday I felt extra pleased when I had finished dinner by 7 pm and was right back in bed and Netflixing immediately after. At 9.30 though, R and S called and dragged me out of bed for “a drive”. How bad could it be, I thought. I can get out for this, I told myself, as I got out of my night clothes, into a bra and presentable clothes again.

The “drive” ended at the airport. And what followed was a big binge, only to get home closer to 1 am.

On Sunday, after spending all day in bed, I showered at 3 pm and took myself out to work for a couple of hours. That was the extent of my venturing out.

I was telling VC last night how I am enjoying this time of cocooning and spending time with myself — I crave it and enjoy every last bit of it — as much as I am loving being in Bangalore where the world outside is just within reach whenever I want to venture out. I am really enjoying this access and ease.

***

Sunday evenings are the devil. They bring out a strange melancholy in me that takes me right back to the age of aching weekend endings. When white shoes needed to be washed and polished in time for Mass PT. When uniforms needed ironing. When books needed pre-packing. These were the rituals of the years when Sunday evenings ached. And they have pretty much set the code for all Sunday evenings of my life. No matter that my life today looks nothing like it did then, and has none of the trappings that life did then.

Even with nothing earth-shattering to wake up to on Monday, even with the luxury of starting the week with an easy 7.45 am yoga class (and really, this is easily the best way I have allowed myself to begin any week, in recent time) Sunday evenings bring that dull ache back, almost every week. With immaculate regularity.

And yet, every Sunday, when the gloom descends I forget to discount it as that specific kind of meaningless Sunday evening gloom. Week after week, month after month, endless Sunday evenings pass with this restlessness gripping me bang on cue. Invariably, it takes VC pointing out that it’s Sunday evening, midway through my whining and complaining, for me to realise it and let it go.

Sunday evening gloom is the new PMS in my life.

***

This Sunday evening I had a big mood, though. An incredible disappointment in all people, in what is left of most relationships in my life at this present moment. Several events leading up to Sunday have left me feeling excessively depleted, like I just have nothing more to give, and yet the ask and want from various quarters persists. Unabashed and singleminded asking, of me. With no regard or thought for the balance or what I might get in return.

After a long, long time I reached a point where I felt disillusioned and a touch of self-pity for the oddly familiar place I am in, that somehow still feels all new and shitty at times too. How did it get this way?

On the one hand, I have this longing for people, for connection, like I haven’t had ever before. All pretence of introversion has lifted. I want to be out there, meeting, talking to people, not just for the the heavy and intense bits but the light and fun bits too. And yet, of the mere handful of people that exist, there is just disappointment and a consequent lack of inclination to reach out. It makes me close up. Makes me want to be the lone ranger I have the habit of being. Makes me confirm the In the end we’re all alone anyway thought.

By late Sunday evening this mood had bloomed into a full blown rage. Complete with a big urge to just burn away all ties. To shut this blog down. To go under. And I expressed it to VC as a deep, deep desire to go away someplace completely new, where nobody knows me — not the old me, not the new me — to start over from scratch.

Monday came along, and some of it passed. But it wasn’t until after a solid afternoon nap and a long chat + reading with D that I felt some of the heaviness lift. Later last night, I had dinner with Amma who had just returned from Bombay. A dinner I had cooked and taken over, with a side of conversation and some laughs. And I felt infinitely better after it.

Maybe this is just it? Maybe I need to stop looking so hard and trying to catch this nebulous notion of connection that seems to be festering within all the time? Maybe I just need to let it go, put an intention out and let what will be, be. And give thanks for the little bits of connection I do receive, in whatever form they come my way.

***

Here’s a ragey tune fit for all Sunday evenings.

***

On the other hand, I am also acutely aware that all these feelings are a part of the process. This unsettling may be long-drawn and painful, and will bring with it a fair share of shedding. I am still partly afraid, even as I brave the daily reminders of everything in the people department in my life that is hanging by a weak tether. Deeply unsettling of all is not knowing which way I am going. The confusion, the not knowing too, is a part of the process.

I have known this all along.

This morning, I came across this tweet that reaffirmed my knowing of how wide open the choices out there are right now, for me. The fear is still in letting the reins go, in letting the old go.

One year ago: May your feet always be swift
Three years ago: Blush

Slice of life

My breakfast ritual seems to have waned — for no reason other than that I didn’t get back to it since I’ve been back from Goa — but I’ve swapped it for a new one. Afternoons spent here.

This past month, this space has seen:

some of my most “productive” work hours

some of the best coffees I’ve had in recent time

me lose track of time

a lot of the alone time that I’ve enjoyed. Also a lot. (I could have very well done this at home, but then when I have access to this lovely space, why not?)

me make more entries in my journal than I have in years

Today, in the midst of writing frantically finishing a work piece on septic tanks (of all the exciting things I could be writing about), listening to this (so loud the damn train was in my brain) I had one of those moments of overwhelming happiness. I looked up, hit pause and just for a minute, wondered what I’ve done right to deserve this luxury — this life of such extreme flexibility that really makes my life better in ways I cannot even begin to enumerate.

So this is gratitude today, as always for the privilege and the means, but also for a change, for my heart that keeps me going, to chase every last detail of the kind of life I want.

One year ago: January
Three years ago: Fields of gold

On duality

A lot happened while I was sitting by this window, several times last week. A difficult conversation, a deeply life-affirming conversation on the back of that difficult one, some uplifting realisations, that delicious chicken sandwich I had the good fortune of eating two days in a row, reading this incredible piece on the psychological benefits of isolation (in a week where I have contemplated being alone versus feeling lonely, SO MUCH), and finally an internal settling and reckoning with the inherent duality in much of this.

Yes, these have been emotionally challenging times, but the sum-total of my life isn’t challenging. There’s both. They co-exist.

I am often sad, emotional and feeling the void in terms of safe and dependable spaces in which to share all of this. But my life isn’t entirely lacking space. There are spaces and I’m only waking up to the fact that the space is but half of the equation. Making myself available, and discovering deeper vulnerability is the crucial other half. There’s space, and there’s the difficulty of making use of the space. There’s both. They co-exist.

Yes, I love, cherish and choose my time alone. But I am not an isolated introvert. I also crave connection and meaningful experiences with people. There’s both. They co-exist.

Yes, I’ve had a cycle of making, breaking, losing, walking away from and discovering new relationships. But that script does not define who I am. Much as I sometimes coax myself into believing that it must be something in me that makes it so I’ve realised this is a direct consequence of growth, evolution and a steadfast commitment to a deeply personal goal (happily, echoed by The Atlantic piece linked above). There’s the grief of losing people, and the joy in gaining them in unequal measure. There’s both. They co-exist.

Yes, it sucks to accept it. I have tried all my life to fight it, and I’ve lived that fight out by repeatedly reconnecting with relationships that are clearly over and whose purpose was long served; by trying to make amends where there is little hope for it; by looking for empathy and listening where there is none available; by giving my heart to people who don’t know what to do with it; and by using my energy and resources in salvaging relationships that don’t deserve it. And try as I might to fight accepting it, this is just the way it is. However, it does not make me the woman who pushes people away. I am just the person who is constantly searching for deeper, authentic relationships, and sometimes has to let go of those that don’t met the bar. So there is always that lack of “large numbers” of people and the deeply meaningful relationships with few. There’s both. They co-exist.

Yes, sometimes this means I have to have difficult conversations at difficult junctures in these relationships, but it also means I am better and stronger in my relationships for it. Yes, there is fear, but there is courage right on the other side of it, and together it makes a wholesome, healthy kind of relationship. The kind I have been dying to have in my life. There’s crippling fear. But there is also courage. There’s both. They co-exist.

Yes, currently, VC is the only person with whom I allow myself the vulnerability I strive for. The only place where I can stretch myself, push those boundaries and see what happens. It is simultaneously testing and liberating. It makes me simultaneously miss him, and also feel so grateful for this physical distance between us. There’s both. They co-exist.

So often, in the quest to love forward and shed the old, I accidentally reject crucial parts of myself, when really the process this time around has been about integrating it all in a healthier manner. Such a subtle but crucial difference in realising that I can simultaneously move forward and grow old parts of myself. I can do both. They can co-exist.

***

I’ve been in such a rush to get through this “challenging” time these past 6-8 weeks. My Type A side kicking in instantly, throwing all the wisdom of slowing down out the window. It was a good few weeks before I realised this was happening. That I had made a project and a mission out of it, working out a plan, making a set of to-dos to tackle this. When all I really needed to do was put my head down, keep at therapy and just let the rest go.

This past weekend in class, I became aware of the inherent duality of pretty much all the feelings I have juggled this week. There is the difficulty of facing all of this all of a sudden as it comes up in waves — challenges, sadness, grief, loss and loneliness — before the wave passes and I can come up for a big gulp of air again.

I see the sun, I feel the breeze, I feel alive again. These are precious moments of release, of light, of joy and of life.

In coming to terms with changing so rapidly, I have felt physically altered, if that’s even possible. Some altogether new things have happened — this surprising need t face fear and confrontation more often than not, for one — and some old facets have made a comeback — I’m waking up early and chirpy again, I’m enjoying exercising again.

So much about growth and change is embracing parts old and new. Some forgotten, some that have receded, some that are slowly coming back, and others that are all new.

I am old, filled with comforting bits of familiar, old selves. And I am all new, shiny, and unexpected. Not all that is old need be entirely lost or given away. And not all that is new may define me for good.

There’s both. They co-exist.

***

Not lost on me is the irony that the window at Koshy’s where I have always loved to sit has changed too. For one, Koshy’s is spanking new — shiny, white and scrubbed clean. The bamboo chicks have been taken off and the light streams through. It’s all new. But the quintessential slow and easy character remains.

There’s both. They co-exist.

One year ago: I’ve been reading books of old
Three years ago: Emptying my cup

Sparks of joy

Just some things that sparked joy this past weekend.

The beginnings of the jacaranda blooms are here. And the city is bursting into clouds of pink that make my heart sing.

I may have developed a habit. A flowers for no reason habit. Oops.

Cooking.

And a few other things:

Being back in class for two days and understanding duality s little bit more.

All the experiences of being forced to slow down.

That stunning slice of chocolate mousse cake I had on Sunday night.

Yoga. Making it to a walk every other day.

Waking up and surfacing early again. Just like it used to be before I turned into a sleepy head.

Homemade strawberry jam.

New epiphanies and letting them sink in slowly.

A new skin.

Three years ago: So, is this a blogathon?

This too, is Bangalore

Been feeling an overwhelming love for where I am at right now — and for once I don’t mean this energetically or metaphysically or emotionally, but logistically. An overwhelming love for this city, for the place it has in my life, for the space it provides.

Every time that I feel frustrated with some facets of it, I’d like to come back and see this post. Because this too, is Bangalore.

One year ago: You can taste the dishonesty
Three years ago: Pain

Little pieces of magic

In the early years when VC and I had just begun seeing each other, we weren’t too big on using the phone. We’d spend all day together at the same workplace, and inevitably a gang of us would head out after work for a bite or a drink (or both) and it was only the hours between sleep and the new work day that kept us apart. So we didn’t really need to talk too much in the after-hours.

In general, in life, VC isn’t big on communication. If something is pressingly urgent or needs to be immediately shared — these are the only two counts on which I usually expect a call. A barrage of messages, an entire conversation on SMS — this is an impossibility with him. The thing is, I am a big communicator. Not so much telephone calls (though I sense something changing here too), but I can have entire conversations on chat/messaging services. And I can make calls to VC for no reason at all.

Anyhow, with this long backstory out of the way, this is just to note that VC has suddenly taken to calling me for no reason. We’re suddenly the people who begin and end most days with a telephone call. Sometimes just to say hi, and bye. The thing I thought would never be possible: video calls. We make them now. Several times a week. And I have to say, I’m not the only one initiating them.

I am enjoying this shift in our lives. Where suddenly there seems to be a place for long, detailed, emotionally-charged chatting, baring our souls and sharing our biggest excitements and dejections of the day, conversations that go late into the night. This is the stuff we bypassed entirely in our relationship.

***

Sunday morning walk has become a marker of a good week. A thing to look forward to. I’ll admit the idli-vada is still the draw, but it does feel really good to be out in the crisp morning air when the sun has only just come out.

I nearly didn’t make it two weeks in a row and the joy of actually having made it, and having finished a walk amidst many, many giggles and all kinds of conversation with D, and that breakfast with a double dose of coffee at the end — it’s near perfection.

However, the thing that just laces it all beautifully for me, like a cherry on the top, is coming home and getting right back into bed. Under the quilt and all, to either read, watch some Netflix or just nap — it is just divine.

Last Sunday, I realised this is a small, seemingly insignificant pleasure, the joy of which I almost didn’t fully register. But it has become something of an important ritual for me, and it does lift my day, my week up in more ways than I realise. To acknowledge that this past Sunday shifted something.

***

I have also resumed yoga again. AND I FEEL SO GOOD. There is that sweet, stretchy pain of having used my body for something more than just sitting around, which has been my predominant state for the last 12 months. It’s been a little over a week and it’s hard to fight the constant thought of how woefully out of shape I am, of how the proportion of time it takes to gain strength, stamina and muscle versus the time it takes to lose it all is so goddamned skewed. But, I feel really, really good. I like the deep stretching, the twisty, bendy moves that turn my mind and body into knots, I love the peace in the pranayam, and I go through the entire class in anticipation of the deep relaxation and full-body scan of the last 7 minutes of shavasana.

I’ve had sore abs and hams and glutes pretty much after every class. And then I went and started getting out for a walk on the alternate days when I’m not at yoga. Plus there’s the Sunday walk. So yeah, I’m moving again.

Last year was obviously a year of sitting still, conserving energy. And while it has had its place in the whole process, I hadn’t realised just how much I love to be active, and how happy it actually makes me. On Thursday last week after a walk, I actually came home and burst into a hysterical fit of laughter and cried happy tears from the sheer surge of endorphins like I haven’t felt in forever.

As my next Goa trip approaches, I’m wondering about my options to keep the exercise going. And almost like on cue, my kickboxing trainer messaged me out fo the blue. We hadn’t interacted in upwards of 6 months, and he just checked in on me suddenly, just like that.

I feel like it was a sign.

***

L was down in Bangalore after what feels like forever. Actually, the last time she was down was when we met and hung out at M’s wedding six years ago. Six years isn’t very long, but it feels like an age simply because of how much has happened in the years between. We haven’t been inactive touch through this time. We pretty much fell out of touch entirely, and I only surfaced to get in touch with her last year when I visited Pondicherry and this year when I was in Auroville — to see if we could catch up. Both times she was travelling, and we went back to our regular lives.

So we met, and I realised only after we met that she had made the entire trip down to catch up with me, and another friend. I am so used to assuming nobody would ever do that for me, that I had just taken it for granted that she had some other business to deal with in Bangalore and was catching up with me on the side.

We had a lovely hang. It was meant to be a quick coffee at Koshy’s, but it ended up being a long, long, chatty time. And when we weren’t done even after our coffee was done, we walked up and down Church Street chatting some more. Then ducked into Blossoms and bought a bunch of books. Still no sign of calling it a night, we went back to Koshy’s for dinner.

It was just so affirming. Here’s someone I have just not been in touch with, we have lives that are wildly polar opposites of each other, and yet when we met we picked up effortlessly. The conversation wasn’t stilted, the connection was warm, genuine and lingering, refusing to end.

In all my years struggling to get a grip on the loop of friendship and loneliness in my life, I’ve focused on the lack so much. It only takes a day like this to turn it all around.

***

I also caught up with S and D — we hadn’t done this since the course ended. I came home just so grateful. Here are two people I only got to know about six months ago, we don’t have history. I don’t know too much about the intricacies of their lives, and vice versa. But we’ve connected on a foundation of authenticity and vulnerability, just by virtue of doing this course together and experiencing each other’s worst selves in a closed room. There’s something special about that kind of bond. There’s warmth in the hugs we give, there’s a glint in our eyes when we talk about what we’re dealing with, and there’s the incredibly rare and wonderful bit where we meet like this, over coffee, after 3 months and waste no time in pleasantries, jumping straight to OMG I’m struggling so much this month!

***

I’ve been practicing reading the Tarot for myself for months now. Ever since D got me started last year it’s been a regular feature/habit and gradually growing interest in my life. At the start of the year, I told myself I want to do this more — for myself and for others. This week, I did four readings for four different people. And each of then were an utterly enjoyable experience for me.

What I love most about reading the cards is how there’s almost always a message for me in every reading, how much it makes me tap into my intuition and how much freshness it brings to my life as a newfound interest.

***

This is gratitude for all that has shifted this week. Something about a cycle closing — I’ve been feeling this since the turn of the year and the last full moon that gave me a burst of energy seems to have also completed some kind of shedding that has been in process. I’ve been so wrapped up in thought and working on processing it through my head, that I’ve lost contact with my feelings and my body. I realised today in an instant that I have loosened up physically, as much as I have relaxed about certain tight corners in my life.

Maybe it’s new. Or maybe it’s been there and I hadn’t noticed it because I’ve been so busy looking for cognitive answers.

***

This is gratitude for the winter. For the walks. For the parks. For the morning air.

For the strawberries that I could make jam with.

For this blog and the fresh connections it has brought to my life.

For friends who’ve been there in ways I have been unable to see. For new friends. For new people who are there, just as people, and that’s okay.

For friends who have come, are in the process of leaving, and also those who have left. For teaching me not to hold on so tight. For finally showing me what I’ve been fighting and how futile it is.

For therapy and N and how hard she pushes me.

For the crayons I bought, for the pictures of myself that I dug out and the drawing and writing that came from it.

For the numerous times that I found myself at Airlines this past week. For the coffee.

For home. For amma and for how much time we got to spend together since I’ve been back.

For R, S and H and how they’ve taken me under their wing. Counting me in whenever they go out as a family. It’s incredibly heartening.

One year ago: Pretty lights
Two years ago: Because I want to remember
Three years ago: Saaru-anna

 

Winter joys

So, yeah I missed the best, coldest winter days because they passed when I was in Goa. The first week of January saw lows of 9-10 degrees, I hear. I was so jealous.

Thankfully 12-13 degree lows we’re having no are pretty cold. My home and Amma’s too, while well-lit don’t receive too much direct sunshine. There’s plenty light but no spots in the sun to sit in. So I’ve been in full sleeves clothes and feeling my fingers go cold and refusing to co-operate when I try and type.

JOY!

I may be revelling in the dregs of winter a little more dramatically than I need to, with:

The ten minutes of snuggling in my blanket, that I allow myself after getting out only to turn the fan off

Resuming yoga and breaking into a sweat even when it’s 13 degrees out

That scalding hot bath after, putting on two layers of clothes when my body is still warm, and trapping that post-bath warmth within

Sharp, long sunny winter morning shadows

Shawls, stoles and sweaters in the day

Socks in bed at night

Hot sugarless coffee with breakfast, after lunch, at teatime and sometimes after dinner

Soaking my feet in a bucket of salty water as I’m sitting by a candle writing my journal for the day, right before bed

Lohri, 2019

One year ago: You’ve been on my mind