Day 137: And the stars look very different today

Goa vignettes to steer my mind way from Karnataka election madness.

Two years ago: Day 137: Who do I think I am?

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Day 134: April

Last month in worries-vanish-within-my-dream

April came and went in an absolute flash, perfectly blending a few busy days where I had no time to do much else but keep swimming, a whole lot of time with family, and a very liberal dose of Goa-tinged nostalgia. It is almost like my subconscious steers me in the direction I need to move, without my ever realising or noticing it. In March I felt a bit run down and tired from not having enough time to myself. And almost in response, April gave me a lot of that.

April had so much family time — mostly down time spent at home, with them, or reading and catching up on TV. My grandmother came down for her annual summer trip and this year, more than ever before I got to spend time with her. This year, more than ever before we have actually engaged, chit-chatting as she spirals down her rabbit hole of memories.

I marvel at what it must be like to be in her 80s, in 2018, having experienced the sea change the world has seen in just one lifetime. Changes not only in the world around, but closer home, amongst her family, her children and grand children. Life today, is nothing like it used to be when she was younger. It isn’t even bear a remote sliver of likeness to what it must have been like when she was younger — having witnessed the Independence movement, the onset of liberalisation and the boom that followed. If I live to be 80 or more, I wish for at least half the agility, quiet calm and wisdom she has to watch peacefully as things change.

Time spent chatting with her also spiralled a lot of contemplation for me. And I’m thankful for the little break from hectic work and assignments to allow the churn to throw things up like it did.

Last month, in severe contemplation:

  1. I realised it is impossible to seek happiness alone, without a host of other feelings.
  2. Priorities, and the busy-trap
  3. Musing about punctuality (or the lack of it), passive aggression online, and cats
  4. On the necessary autumns of our lives
  5. Some more thoughts about my body and how it has changed as much as how I feel about it has changed
  6. A visit to LifeStyle and more thoughts about accepting our different bodies happened
  7. Self-improvement is usually two steps forward and one step back
  8. Self-improvement, change and how it sometimes affects relationships
  9. On the meaning of ambition, success, productivity and finding myself outside of it

Last month, in what happened:

  1. I read two books about marriage
  2. Unexpected catching-up with long-lost friends
  3. I finished 100 days of posting this year, on exactly the same day that I moved to Bangalore last year
  4. Some overt self-love lets itself shine through
  5. Work took over our home for a week

Last month, in indecision:

  1. I realised my Bangalore honeymoon is officially over, and this city is getting to me
  2. Consequently, I spent a whole week home-sick for Goa, and contemplated thoughts on living well and how much the city around matters

Last month, in gratitude:

  1. Because everything is never as it seems
  2. Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
  3. I got mad, mad love
  4. All the small things
  5. Just a stirring in my soul

One month ago: Day 92: March
Two months ago: Day 60: February
One month ago: Day 32: January

Two years ago: Day 134: Things about VC I never want to forget #16

Day 123: Like happiness is the truth

This past week, I’ve been treated to a variety of excellent meals. The food and drink situation has been consistently hitting above optimum levels of satisfaction and has been the thread of happy spots in an up and down week. So, I’m so grateful.

My mother and I have our birthdays just one week apart from each other. So my sister and I orchestrated a very complicated surprise lunch. We cooked a rather elaborate spread at my home (hidden away from amma’s knowledge of course), or eggplant parmigiana, an avocado and mango salad with sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese with a mango salsa dressing, a mushroom and corn quiche and we ordered some cake, invited her friends over and — surprise!

I’m grateful for the opportunity to surprise amma. For being around to celebrate another birthday together. For the lunch we had. The rain that came down that afternoon. The outstanding banoffee cake.

I’m grateful for this late afternoon coffee, had at the end of a rather heavy meal at the club.

I’m SO thankful for this breakfast on a pretty dreary Saturday morning.

We had just checked out a house we really had our eyes set on, but probably cannot have at this point of time. VC and I had a weekend of some very heart to heart, confrontational, honest conversations that had left me feeling very, very edgy and just, raw. There’s nothing like a hearty carb-rich breakfast to soothe that feeling. Right after we thulped this, we watched Infinity War with R and belted a big bucket of popcorn at top speed.

I’m grateful for this palya puff, flaky fly-off-your-mouth pastry encasing a spicy vegetable South Indian style sabji that just hits the spot for those 5 o clock evening hunger pangs. I didn’t intend to eat the whole thing, but once I started there was no stopping and I wolfed the whole thing down.

There’s a whole other level of satisfaction that comes from crispy, unhealthy snacks that hit the spot, when consumed at that perfect moment when you’re not just hungry but craving something as specific as an Iyengar bakery palya puff.

I’m fast becoming a fan of meeting friends over breakfast. For one it’s bright and early, the traffic isn’t as much as yet, people aren’t batshit as yet, there’s more scope to find parking, and there will almost always be eggs.

I met S over a lazy, slow but chatter-filled breakfast the other day. I like when things happen spontaneously, without too much deliberation or high expectations.

It reaffirmed my faith in boundaries, in giving each other space, in allowing for time and room for everyone’s personal journeys, and for having the faith that if paths reconnect, we will only be better for it.

I’m grateful for what I have with S. I now see all our ups and downs, the rough patches, and the extent to which our relationship has changed, for the place they have had and the lessons they have brought to my life. And no matter how I have felt at various points of time, today I understand fully what I love and value in this relationship.

I went home thinking I want to make a weekly ritual of getting out for breakfast. With myself, with friends, over idlis, over eggs, long and lazy, unhurried. The scope is unlimited and when I’m back from Goa, I’m going to begin.

Two years ago: Day 123: Turning 32 and the salt water theory

Day 122: Acts like summer and walks like rain

I woke up to the sounds of a crazy storm and heavy downpour yesterday. For days it’s been threatening to come, while the air around has been feeling like a pressure cooker. Other parts of the city have had tremendous amounts of rain, but not us. Not until yesterday morning, when it came seemingly out of the blue, with a crack and a bang and a good half an hour’s torrential rain.

It felt good to begin the day, a new year with a proverbial cleaning of the slate. Everything wiped down and fresh for a new start.

VC gave me the best gift, a birthday reading that was accurate, heartfelt and life-affirming.

This is the third time in four days that the Bodies of Water card has showed up at me. I’ve been feeling emotionally raw and a bit all over the place, and the card has asked time and again that I retreat to recharge my batteries.

Apt, because I leave for Goa tonight and Ive been looking forward to this time away for weeks now.

The second card too, is telling. A reminder to stop worrying and keep the faith. But the real affirmation for me are the haathis that flank the card.

I had a day filled with an outpouring of love. The thing is, while I love my birthday and the idea that it’s my day to begin again, I’m not into being the centre of attention. I don’t quite know what to do with it, so I much prefer sticking to familiar ground, spending it with VC or my folks.

However, yesterday I was touched by how many calls and messages I got from the most unexpected people.

My MIL baked me this insanely delicious chocolate cake with layers soaked in strawberry compote. But the icing on the cake — literally! — was this topper she made.

I was so extremely touched to see this, a well kept secret that my MIL laboured over for three days.

After an extra long nap, some chores and tying up some loose ends at home before I go away, my sister, VC and I indulged in a little “pre gaming” — an interesting concept to learn about at the ripe old age of 34.

What was meant to be a quiet dinner at Burma Burma then ended up being a night of hopping places.

Wandering around 12th main wondering why it’s packed as fuck and omgwhereareallthesepeoolegoing on a Tuesday night, we settled for drinks at Fatty Bao before dinner at Burma Burma (which had a 45 minute waiting even at 7.45 pm) followed by really, really sinfully good gelato at Milano.

It’s not often that VC agrees to get our and go as far as Indiranagar to begin with. That he did so on a weeknight, was enthusiastic to hop places and stay up beyond 10.30 was too good an opportunity to pass.

And so we found ourselves on a desolate stretch if CMH road with no taxis to be found. Wonder of wonders, it was an auto that saved the day. No haggling, no astronomical quotes, a simple demand of “one-and-a-half” and we were on our way back.

I like a surprise like this. When the day turns out anything but the way you imagine it will. Better yet, you have no expectations at all, so everything from there on is a surprise, an excitement and a joy.

I ended the day too happy to sleep. Which is a good place to be.

34 feels rather promising, from where Im at right now.

I’m grateful for life. For another birthday. For my husband (who wished me 34 times), for my family, for my sister. For the love and all the togetherness, especially given the sense of foreboding and unexplained loneliness that has clouded my mind this past week.

And, I’m thankful for cake.

Day 120: Looking back, over my shoulder

Feeling all kinds of aching heart looking at this Goodbye-Goa video that VC* made, pinched out of this post from same time last year, right after I wrote this post last week, and sent out a version of it as a newsletter** last night. Clearly, the melancholy hasn’t lifted. All weekend I’ve been running over a world of feelings and thoughts about home, about second chances, about belonging and about roots.

Right this moment, if someone were to present an opportunity to go back to Goa, I’d up and GO!

***

There’s also this video from our holiday in Sri Lanka, from this post two years ago. And it fills my heart with a longing to go back to this country I couldn’t get enough of, even after three trips.

https://player.vimeo.com/api/player.js

***

Tomorrow, I will finish another whole year of being alive and clocking a circle around the big ol’ sun. In true Type A fashion (the vestiges still remain, and crop up time and time again reminding me I have still some more work to do) I’ve been feeling all omg-time-is-flying and putting that quintessential what-have-I-done-this-year pressure on myself. I wish I’d remember the hard-won wisdom I’ve stumbled on before, rather than keep slipping back to conventional and useless ways of measuring my days.

But right in time, just when I needed a reminder, N sent me this beautiful article last week about living long. More importantly, living well.

And surprise, surprise, the answer does not lie in eating better, exercising or any such thing, but in looking at our relationship with time, and what we do with what’s left of it.

If the goal is to have a longer life, whatever the dieticians may urge, it seems like the priority should not be to add raw increments of time but to ensure that whatever years remain feel appropriately substantial. The aim should be to densify time rather than to try to extract one or two more years from the fickle grip of Death.

Once again, a reminder to focus on quality, not quantity. On what I want to feel, rather than the stuff I think I want to fill my days with. On living mindfully, and with intention.

Every word in the article resonated, and had me longing for the wonder of childhood, when time stretched, even as it was filled with endless discoveries. Such a sharp contrast to adult years where every year seems like it’s flying by faster than the previous one and time is always short.

As I turn 34 tomorrow, I’m going to re-examine and add a resolution or two for the year ahead. This seems like a sane advice to go by.

We should be aiming to lead lives that feel long because we have managed to imbue them with the right sort of open-hearted appreciation and unsnobbish receptivity, the kind that five-year-olds know naturally how to bring to bear. We need to pause and look at one another’s faces, study the evening sky, wonder at the eddies and colours of the river and dare to ask the kind of questions that open our souls. We don’t need to add years; we need to densify the time we have left by ensuring that every day is lived consciously – and we can do this via a manoeuvre as simple as it is momentous: by starting to notice all that we have as yet only seen.

***

It’s getting impossibly hot. The only respite has been mangoes, fresh juice every morning thanks to my mother, and light dinners of roasted veg and salad.

Like some lunatic, I’m headed to Goa. Mad heat aside, I’m really, really aching for not just time away from this city, but specifically time in Goa. I’m going for a small bit of work for the course I’m doing. And hopefully amidst the sea, sun and sand, with friends I’ll keep practicing going with the flow and figure out what belonging everywhere and nowhere at once means, what turning older has in store for me, and how much I can bend time.

*If you’d like to see more video work done by VC, commission us some work or recommend us to someone who is looking to tell stories through film, head to our website, follow us on Instagram or browse our portfolio.
**If you’d like to subscribe to more verbal diarrhoea and navel gazing via my newsletter, head here: https://tinyletter.com/HaathiTime/

Two years ago: Day 120: Birthday weekend in progress

Day 116: Bad news never had good timing

I suppose it’s safe to say my honeymoon period in Bangalore is done. At least as far as tolerating (turning a blind eye) the shit show that the city is, goes. On the one hand, being closer home has been all kinds of beneficial. Satisfying, happy-making, revelatory, even.

It was such an exciting challenge to be back in a city, so close to home. And the challenges and newness of it all occupied my focus. Coming back to Bangalore made me face a lot of the things I didn’t even know I had run away from, and that has been a whole other journey in itself. I’ve had my fair share of closing the loop on many things, lots of recognising unfinished business and acknowledging it if not beginning to finish it, lots of owning up to many of my demons in hiding. And best of all, entering into a phase that has seen me making peace and feeling the happiest I have ever been.

For our desires to give our business a shot too, this was a crucial move. To be out here in a competitive space, where standards are so far from the ones we had and knew in Goa. It’s been both eye-opening as well as reassuring to know where we stand.

As far as family goes, moving away happened so fast at a time when I was so very young, naive and otherwise occupied with keeping my sanity in a new marriage living with my in laws, that I never really processed the subconscious push and pull that possibly really drove me away from Bangalore. On the surface it was about work and the like, but really, it was so much more. So much more that I am only coming to understand now. In the process I’ve had to recognise and re-integrate facets of myself that I had ignored, denied myself of and just never allowed to shine through.

I have a new found love and adoration for my family. My own, as well as the one I am married into. I’m finding new levels of acceptance I didn’t know I am capable of. It’s been an essential learning of resilience, empathy and gratitude. And I’m convinced it is the kind of learning that wouldn’t not have happened in theory, over a distance.

There is no better place than here, and no better time than now for me to be working these things out for myself.  All in all this was a very necessary and timely move for us. I know this now, one year down.

And what a honeymoon it has been. Months of easing myself into everything slowly, taking time off from work like I haven’t ever done before, making and breaking and remaking friendship, revelling in the togetherness of being in such close proximity to my mother father and sister — all of this has created for me the best time and space to focus on my self-improvement. It has consumed my focus was for most of the last twelve months.

That has ensured that I was mostly distracted from the shitty mess that this city is, because I also made mad attempts to stay focused on the good, on the reason why we’re here, and the good things that have come out of it.

Now, with enough time having flown by, the creaky everyday mundanities are in full-swing, and the rhythm of life set, I’m slowly beginning to feel the opening scratchy strains of a strange kind of melancholy about my surroundings.

Now that I’ve been back long enough, a yellow-y mouldy jadedness has well and truly caught up with me. It started with waking up one day and suddenly realising just how extremely noisy my neighbourhood always is. It seems like this city is always in massive states of construction. Drilling, tile cutting, wall breaking, carpentry — on any given day I hear at least 3 of these noises for a good length of time. This, in addition to the burgeoning traffic just outside my home. My folks have lived on this street for upwards of 30 years now, and so we have watched the neighbourhood morph from a quiet by-lane of old-time Bangalore to the monstrosity it is today with larger-than-necessary buses zipping down, horns blaring, two wheelers snaking through dangerously, the constant loud chatter of people.

Slowly, the traffic is getting to me. Not just the volume and the unruliness, but the brazen way in which all laws seem to be null and void. I resent and feel physically helpless that a large part of driving in this city is about constantly taking chances — chances at a signal, chances at every turning, chances with getting past pedestrians.

That’s not all — the air quality is significantly worse. My allergies have flared up ten fold since I’ve been back. And I’ve been on three antibiotic courses in the last year, with a sore throat and cold attacking me on the dot once every four months. This is four times more than the average illnesses I’ve had in Goa.

OH, oh, oh, most of all I marvel at how so much of the shittiness I talk about has been this shitty since I left nearly ten years ago. It’s almost like absolutely no improvement is to be seen, and things have only gotten progressively worse. How can Silk Board still be a nightmare, for example? How is the quality of power still so terrible? One gust of wind before a summer shower is still enough to knock the power out for a couple of hours — this happened multiple times every day, for the last five days in our home.

Bangalore is a glorified, overgrown village, at best, masquerading as a city, with large swathes of people deeply in denial.

When I was tiring of the village life in Goa, I imagined that being in a big city would have certain definite advantages. It does, I wont lie — I LOVE that I don’t have to step out of my home for most things. A lot of my requirements come to my doorstep. Most everything is accessible online. And for everything else, there is Dunzo. But, I cannot help but feel the workings of all of this is still so small-town. Nothing is 100% efficient. Nothing is 100% dependable. This big-small difference between not having access to these facilities in Goa and having them here in Bangalore is that in Goa I’d just get out and get shit done myself. In Bangalore, when systems fail (and they do, a fair bit) the option of getting out is SO daunting because one has to think about traffic, parking, and invest at least an hour for the smallest chores. It doesn’t feel like this is a big city at all some times.

Slowly, I’m realising that something or the other is beginning to nag me. The people. The sheer number of people gets to me some days. Some days I long for the open spaces. I think back wistfully to my street in Goa where I’d drive out and immediately hit third and fourth gear in my car. I don’t get to do that very often in Bangalore. I get out of my gate and hit a speed hump.

Slowly, I’m realising that not a single day goes by when at least one or two things make me very vehemently think FUCK WHAT HAVE WE DONE, WHY DID WE COME BACK TO THIS, loudly, in my head.

It takes a lot of effort to constantly remind myself of the real reasons, focus on the good and bubble wrap and protect my brain from the shit here — whether it’s the environmental damage, the insane traffic, the widespread construction, the completely apathetic citizens — Bangalore is really, really falling apart and there’s no denying that. Realising all of this and being a citizen here makes me feel so extremely helpless.

I take solace in knowing that we never meant for this to be a destination in itself. It was always meant to be merely a stepping stone to a future we’re yet to discover. But if I’ve learned anything at all from the uncertainties of the last three years of my life if is to try and not cast anything in stone, not even my aversions or dissatisfaction.

I’m waiting for a day when I feel like this to materialise. Meanwhile, I’m going with the flow.

One year ago: In-stages
Two years ago: Day 116: Bits and bobs

Day 114: Just a stirring in my soul

This past week has been all about my grandmother who is visiting. It so happened that my parents were both away for four days and my sister and I ended up being home. I haven’t had this kind of time to spend, close to my grandmother, in years and years.

I’m grateful for the time we had. The meals we cooked and shared. The mangoes we gorged on. The conversations we had. For the energy and spirit she has well into her 80s. For the trooper that she is, enthusiastic and light at heart. Always ready for some fun. And if it involves a good meal and dessert, she’s all in. Always.

I’m so grateful for family. For serendipitous summer togetherness. Just like when I was younger and we’d visit my grandparents in Mumbai.

I’m grateful for the turning of tables and being given the chance to look after her, the way she has, us for nearly all our lives.

One year ago: More books (and a mini Bangalore update)

Day 109: The times they are a-changing

There’s something that has been swimming around in my brain for a long time now. and I’ve talked about it sporadically here, here, here and here. I just sent out a newsletter putting together some bits of these posts, and more thoughts that I’ve been able to dwell on, now that I’ve had some time to mull over it all.

There’s still so much more to be said where this came from, and maybe I’ll get down to it some day. But for now, here’s the newsletter that just went out.

If you’d like to subscribe to it, please head here:  https://tinyletter.com/HaathiTime/

***

I don’t know when the appropriate response to “How are you?” has switched to “So busy!” from the good old “I’m fine/Just so-so/Doing good, thank you!” (or whatever other version of this you might prefer), but of late, I find myself bored with this turn of conversation.

Like all epiphanies, the startling truth usually sparks only when it hits so close to home that there’s no looking away from it. This one was no different. It was some weeks ago, when I uttered the words “I don’t know if I’m going or coming” with extreme discomfort, that I realised this is just the sort of feeling I have carefully steered myself away from these past months. And yet somehow the tyranny of busy had briefly re-entered my life.

This is a syndrome — this addiction to busyness — afflicting us all. I do find it is far more pronounced and in-my-face in Bangalore, than I did in Goa. Is this a big city thing? Or does talking about how busy we are make us feel purposeful/productive/like our lives have meaning?

It’s true, work has been a little manic over the last month. But the welcome change has been how much my inner-self steadfastly resists getting caught in the undertow of that mania. To be able to ride the highs, give myself wholly to work when it demands it, but also being conscious of how much, and stopping just short of being completely consumed in what inevitably feels like a mindless chaos, is the joy I strive for.

The joy is in being mindful and present. And exercising that ability to make that choice as many times, and as often as possible. Busy times have a place, I know, but I’m becoming acutely aware of the price I pay every time I hit a particularly busy patch. I say price because I in 8/10 conversations about busyness, I sense that hint of regret, frustration and tussle at not having as much time on hand, as we’d like. Why is that delicate, precarious balance constantly just out of reach?

The only way I am able to have some handle on it has come down to being vigilant, aware and very, very deliberate about what I’m doing, and why. By consistently and tediously questioning my motivations, I’ve found the answers, though sometimes difficult to accept and digest, have freed up not just time and space, but a lot of wrongly held ideas in my mind.

The notion of extreme productivity to mark my days, for example. It left little room for rest and recharging my batteries, which is lethal for a creative person. Or the idea that our dreams and desires can only be fuelled by bone-breaking hard work. It’s nonsense. If the hard work comes at the cost of my sanity, health an joy, and I can get help to achieve those same dreams instead, I’ll take it. It’s been immensely freeing to shed the unnecessary glory attached working hard, or my own twisted ideas of self-worth that were entangled with ambition, ability to earn money and be “independent”. Most of this, when I began to inspect it closely, I’ve appropriated from external sources — whether my middle-class upbringing and values, my parents as role models, cultural messages that are constantly screaming hashtags and labels dictating what kind of women we ought to be. And in the bargain, I’d moved so far away from listening to the messages my own inner-self was giving me time and time again.

So now, when things get uncontrollably busy, the first step I take is to realistically, and (brutally)honestly examine my motivation — the whys behind all the actions/tasks that fill up my days and bring in The Busy. Step two is to then drastically realign and cull that accumulation of to-dos, making time for that which I most want to do (and this, after I’m convinced about why).

That’s it. There is no step three.

The whys are crucial for me. And the more I lean in to them, the more I find I am able to simplify my life, not just in terms of resisting spreading myself too thin, but getting to the heart of what it is I really, really want and chasing only that which uplifts me and brings me joy, the more I realise that life slows down.

I’ve had it all wrong all this while.

For a greater part of my adulthood, I’ve chased the “ideal” life based on what I want — money, travel, a nice home, lots of books, the flexibility to spend my money whenever/wherever I want to. But this has really gotten me nowhere. And in fact left me exhausted, physically and emotionally, and with frequent periods of feeling scarcity and inadequacy.

More and more, I find turning in and allowing myself to be guided by what I want to feel — secure, alive, content, healthy, at peace — brings me far more joy. Joy that lingers over weeks and months, rather than rushes in and out like a gale storm. It comes in sprinkles and healthy doses, a little bit everyday, goes a long, long way. It brings an ease, an un-rushed energy with it. And since it isn’t tied to stuff, it stays.

The more I allow myself to be guided by what I feel, I find myself making choices that feel like serendipity and I find myself in situations that seem like they found me, rather than the other way around. Conversely, I find myself moving away from situations that go against the grain of this truth that is fast becoming a cornerstone in the way I approach life itself.

It takes little or no time at all, to tune out of conversations revolving around The Busy, because personally, I am finally, actively moving towards that elusive balanceI don’t mean “work-life balance” because the term is too tied to tangible things, and is woefully inadequate.

My life today is quite unlike it has ever been for me. I am aware of and very grateful for the incredible privilege that it is, to take things slow and at my own pace, having complete faith and trust in knowing that I am looked after and well provided for. Where all my needs are met with barely any room for inadequacy. I’m fortunate to finally be in a place where I can actively resist the The Busy for the most part.

However, I don’t talk often enough about the journey to getting here. Nor nearly enough about the fact that this is a choice I make every single day. That it is not without it’s moments of doubt and worry. That this commitment has become a way of life. And a large part of the reason I cannot give in to being Busy anymore is because it will mean letting that commitment go. Leaving me with not having enough time to notice the signs, take the cues, examine my motivations and steer myself forward for the right reasons (for me). And the price to pay for that, is just too goddamned high.

It’s been a long and bumpy road (and maybe that’s the stuff of several other posts) to really accepting deep in my bones and to the depths of my very soul, that my worth is not tied to how much I work or how much I earn, rather how I feel when I do the things I do to work or make money. I resist The Busy because I finally accept how wonderful it is to take help, be looked after, and choose to build a life in connection and sync with the forces that work to make things happen for me.

Two years ago: Day 109: Essay aftermath

Day 108: All the small things

I am so incredibly grateful for the privilege to take life slow and at my own pace, having complete faith and trust in knowing that I am looked after and well provided for. Where all my needs are met with barely any inadequacy.

I often think about how this is a choice I make every single day. That this has become a way of life, but I don’t always give thanks for all that is at work (and play) in enabling this.

This is a week of mostly relaxing. And after the burst of activity in the past six-ish weeks, it is welcome. For three days in a row, I have finished up my emails and work for the day by 11 am, leaving the rest of the day for me to do as I please.

I have enjoyed tea and books. I have watched Netflix. Gone for a movie. Run errands for my father, shopped some. I have cooked dinners and lunches. I have spent time with my grandmother who is visiting. I have gone to bed on time. Made it to the gym every day. I have enjoyed aloo buns and sponge cake at tea time. I have enjoyed my home being back in order, and having it all to myself. Later today, I’m going out gallivanting with my MIL and SIL.

This kind of freewheeling day is the sort of privilege I am deeply, deeply grateful for.

Day 103: I got mad, mad love

This past week, I felt immensely grateful for all the work coming our way. We had multiple meetings, an unusually high number of leads land open up out of the blue, and a fun and satisfying shoot on hand.

I am so grateful for the luxury of being our own bosses, reporting to nobody but ourselves, planning our days the way we want, doing the work we love most days. And I’m so thankful for the clarity and for being on the same page about the value of time we both need off. And the ability and privilege to take it when required.

I’m grateful for the shift in my definition of being busy/productive and for new clarity, new boundaries and new realisations in this respect.

I’m very, very grateful for my family. Especially my mother who keeps the “normal” going when I hit these busy spurts. I’m thankful for the hot home-cooked meals, her concern for how we may be overworking ourselves, and for her comforting company when I am chilling at home. And my sister for her endless love, warmth, entertainment, and ability to make me laugh and cook a darn good meal.

I’m so thankful for VC for having taken the professional calls he has these past few months. It’s not always immediately apparent, but I love when things slowly work out for the best. Being in that spot watching it unfurl is lovely.

I’m thankful for coffee. It’s been such a booster every morning this week.

I’m thankful for the beer and dinner with S, despite threats of being unavailable to meet me before June. And the unbelievably fantabulous (non-alcoholic and veggie) dinner she and I managed to catch with the other S. Burma Burma, if you’re interested to know.

I’m grateful for the connections that were rekindled quite unexpectedly this past week.

I’m thankful for N and our sporadic intense conversations. I love the ease with which we can take to whatsapp with our bouts of verbal diarrhoea and unburden/unload, knowing fully well that we may not get immediate responses, but when we do they will be conscious, heartfelt and thought-through. In these days of limited engagement, and wanting to only really talktalktalk about a handful of things, I am grateful for this channel being always open.

I’m grateful for my kindle.

Two years ago: Day 103: Lucid

Day 100: To the gypsy that remains

Two milestones today. And I’d like to think that too is not a coincidence: finishing 100 days of writing this year, on a day exactly one year since I landed in Bangalore, in what ended up being the first step in a series of many many steps towards uncertainty and an open ended kind of oblivion.

I have many, many thoughts about how far we’ve come since we took this leap. Of faith, and so much else. It was not just the start of life in a new city, but the start of a committment to tuning into myself and cutting out the external clutter and noise. So, it makes me extremely happy today, standing where I am, to look back at things I wrote 365+ days ago, and see I was already on this journey. And that I’ve steadfastly stayed focused and committed to it. And that I’m all the better for it.

It’s truly gratifying to see how one year ago I was talking about all of the same things. Back then I was eager and yearning for change — my voice was filled with trepidation, yet it was hopeful. Today, I feel a confidence and conviction, even as I am still talking about the same things. I can see the journey Ive made so far, and I know which way I am longing to go, in the coming future.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this journey. Of the place mindfullness and self-care or self-improvement or growth or authenticity (to me, they’re all different words for the same thing) has come to occupy in my life, and what an incredible value it has added to my daily life. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll do a look back. But today, at the exact moment that I realised it was the anniversary of moving here, I was in this sunkissed office, and something about the way the golden light streamed in and set everything aglow, gave me a moment to ponder. And all I wanted to do was to give thanks for every little thing that went into pushing me to do this. And all that continues to hold me up, helps me keep going and make all this movement continually possible. And no, I’m not talking only about moving cities. But you already know that.

To me, moving to Bangalore has been something of an inflection point in life. But it is also a symbol of possibility. A reference point of what happens when I suspend thought. A memory of the ultimate move of self-serving love. A prototype of the kind of agility I want for the rest of my life.

Day 99: You’re beautiful, it’s true

Unexpected validation in unlikely corners. Just in case you’re feeling debilitating low self esteem on your way up the stairs.

***

I took today off to catch up on some really long pending, much delayed errands. And then I took the afternoon off to read, which went into a really long nap. Then, I woke up and went for a haircut.

Somewhere in between, I caught up with S over a call — most uncharacteristically. But it left me with the fuzzies and I made plans to catch up in person later this week.

In the evening, I called A after literally putting off the call for one whole year. And she said something that again gave me the fuzzies.

“With you, there’s no need to talk every week or every month. No matter how long it’s been, we always pick up just where we left off.”

I couldn’t agree more. I met A back in the good old days of blogging. We’ve met all of three times in person, and we realised today that we’ve actually been talking for fourteen years, and have seen each other through some pretty transformational, life-changing phases.

I don’t always acknowledge the many ways in which kinship finds its way to me. But it does. And today made me feel blessed for it, right in my bones.

Two years ago: Day 99: On being average

Day 97: Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow

I’m thankful for having been introduced to the idea of being in agreement with the diverse, imperfectly-perfect, non-uniform, never-in-our-control, queer ways in while life sometimes unfolds.

I’m thankful for how much room for acceptance, how much courage to change my mind it has allowed. And I’m thankful for how much unexpected warmth and camaraderie that has opened up for me.

I’m grateful for the opportunity for a do-over, to be able to see things in a new light, and to allow this considerable opening of my very own narrow mind.

Two years ago: Day 97: Maybe I’m finally making my peace with being mediocre

Day 96: Where the cares of the day seem to slowly fade away

I started writing a post about the syndrome of busyness, and how pronounced and in-my-face I find it is, in Bangalore, but there’s way too many thoughts jostling for space in my head, so I decided to let it simmer for a bit.

I feel especially aware and a little sensitive to the busyness trap, because I find myself finally moving towards an actual balance in this area of my life. And I don’t mean “work-life balance” because in my current context the term is severely inadequate.

The more I simplify my life, not just in terms of resisting spreading myself too thin, but getting to the heart of what it is I really, really want and which of those things brings me joy, the more I slow down and let things happen, I see how this balance is possible, and I realise why it has eluded me all these years. And I understand why conversations around how busy we are are becoming increasingly tedious and downright boring.

Is it a big city thing? Or do people actually just love to talk about what’s keeping them busy?

I don’t know when “So busy!” became the appropriate response to the good old “How are you?” but I find myself glazing over and tuning out the minute that a conversation veers in this direction.

Maintaining this balance is an ongoing effort in my life but one that I am only now paying conscious attention to, only because I’ve tasted the joy that comes from making room for that play, when Im not consumed by “work.”

But even that isn’t a fully internalised habit. I struggle to remember it at all times. I often forget to be thankful for the quiet, and in turn don’t notice all the good things that come from it. Some weeks ago my aunt said something to me, when I ranted to her about feeling lazy and unworthy just because I wasn’t able to crack the gym jinx and get my ass going already. She said:

These are necessary autumns of our lives.

It’s an idea that immediately stuck in my head. Autumn: a time of pause, regeration, when timecycles close as we inch towards new beginnings. It’s a natural slowing of energy, in anticipation of fresh starts, new canvasses.

It’s exactly the shift that I have been slowly internalising, what I have been indulging in and making conscious efforts to allow it to slip into every area of my life. Taking time off from all that I think I should be doing and allowing myself that incredible privilege of doing what I want to do and bringing time, attention and energy to the things that I know will actually fuel joy. It’s not in the money I make, the meals I eat out, the clothes I buy, the holidays I take. Yes all of that is essential, desirable and awesome but it isn’t the goal. They’re mere milestones along the way.

This realisation, about making room for the autumn, sitting with the quiet, sometimes the discomfort, accepting the uncertainty, loops back to several disconnected threads that have been weaving an all new outlook to life.

There’s no running away from finally understanding that Ive had it all wrong all this while. So I’m slowly but surely trying to cultivate the patience to correct this. It has meant giving myself these moments (frequent, long, unplanned) of pause. So crucial to having those moments of clarity which somehow only come in the silences in between. And so I must make space for the autumns. To rest, to re-worked, re-observe, re-grow.

I noticed today, driving to my meeting, that just as quickly as spring had sprung last month, the seasons have turned. And like in nature, with the trees, the wind, the clouds and the birds and the bees, that have set periods of rest, when the action is done. Just like there is a time for waiting and watching, when we’ve acted, sowed the seeds, set the ball in motion. Just like there is time for recharging energy, when we’ve spent it all, there is a need for set periods of regeneration. To breathe in a fresh breath of air. To sit still. To wait. And let nature take it’s course and do it’s thing.

Two years ago: Day 96: Busy bee day

Day 95: A life of stranger things

Brain worms for a Tired.Thursday

There’s this one thing about living and working in Bangalore, that I’m still grappling with, unable to come to terms with. The prevalent sense of time-keeping. Actually, I mean the general accepted levels of tardiness. In the beginning, I thought I was encountering stray cases, when everyone from the plumber to my landlady wouldn’t show up at a time even remotely close to the one committed to. There’s also the ever-prevalent time-sucking blackhole — unpredictable traffic — that is a legitimate reason for delays. I know and understand that sometimes even when you take traffic into consideration and leave early, there can be unexpected delays. That’s just how unpredictable it is. And yet, having said that, in the many, many months that we’ve been here, I have come to realise that it’s not just about arriving late, but about a general sense of time expanding and stretching as per convenience. Appointments aren’t kept with a start time in mind, they’re scheduled within a window of time. Or at least that’s the unsaid understanding, I think. Because if I had a rupee for the number of times I’ve arrived for a meeting and had to wait upwards of fifteen minutes (which is my standard grace time), I could have probably avoided opting for EMIs when I bought a new phone last month. Yesterday, I waited for 45 minutes for the person I was scheduled to meet. And this is after they had given me the time. I’m really beginning to think this casual tardiness is a cultural shift, rather than an outcome of circumstance.

***

What’s you opinion on the kind of passive aggression subtweeting allows? Have you ever been the butt of someones subtweeted (is that the right way to put it)? I’m a bit confused, and don’t know what to make of it. I ask because a couple of days ago, it came to my notice that I was the subject of a subtweet. I’m always flummoxed and amused when this happens, but I’m downright baffled when I am become the subject of a subtweet made by someone I don’t even know. I wish I could go into details and dissect it the way I am in my head right now, but I don’t want to name names (primarily because I don’t even know this person personally, but also because it would just be pointlessly passive aggressive. Not to mention, rude.) and then I’d also just be subtweeting right? So, no.

***

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a strangely high number of instances of minor injuries to my hands. A paper cut one day, a smashed finger the next, a hangnail, a kitchen-peeler incident, a scraped knuckle, a pinched pinkie — I’d probably have not even noticed if it weren’t all so focused around my hands and fingers. Also, they’ve all been seemingly small injuries, with disproportionately large inconveniences. The paper cut, like all paper cuts are known to be made it super awkward to get through the day without wincing every time the finger was stretched or bent. The smashed finger had me seeing white spots for five seconds and profusely bawling like a baby.  The pinched pinkie made it really hard to hold pretty much anything for the next three days, let me not tell you what it did to my driving and other essential activities.

***

And then, there was this cat in my basement last night.

I returned after a long day and noticed it in the basement, wailing in loud and long complains as I approached it, fully expecting it to dart and shoot off into the dark as cats are known to do. But no, she approached me fearlessly, accosted my feet, stepping all over them, digging her paws in, outstretched limbs, curved back. And then she proceeded to trace infinity signs, winding and worming her way around and between my feet, rubbing the entire length of her body, chin and face all over my ankles and shins. I could have so easily just picked her up and taken her home, but resisted temptation. I also thought she was just there to get her evening fix of love and then run off to spend the rest of her evening. But no, she followed me into the lift and made loud protests about not being allowed in.

Two years ago: Day 95: March