New light

Adversity has that strange capacity of bringing out aspects of us that we didn’t know existed, that we didn’t know we needed, even. In this past week, I have seen family rally around and show up in ways that while essential and maybe even expected, but with a quality of togetherness that has caused role reversal, and brought out vulnerability and tenderness in the most unexpected places.

When I decided to fly back to Bangalore on Friday, I was responding to an inexplicable push from within that was nudging me to do the same — to show up and be present in a way that I have shied away from for years now. In that moment I realised that it isn’t about the the doing, but just the single act of being. Of showing up. Of being there. All my thoughts about being the odd one out, and all the difference I held between them and me, that had actually unconsciously kept me away, suddenly made way for clarity about the single and only way in which I suddenly wanted to connect, which was to be there. These emotions surpass the stories in my head, the narratives I want to cling to and all the various things that allow my mind to keep me staying in a place I am adamant to be in. But many times, like I said the other day, the heart and soul is ready to move on. To transcend barriers, to find a new way of being, to make way for growth — and I’m only just, very, very slowly, learning to be easy with that, in a way that doesn’t feel like a compromise to myself.

This past weekend, I have watched myself be present for VC’s family, in a way that I haven’t before. In a way that I have maybe even held myself back from being before. It’s been special to see that this happened even though I didn’t have the active presence of VC for support, as well as to hide behind, which is my usual MO. He came down with the flu the day I landed, which meant he had to stay away from the hospital entirely, and I still felt compelled to be there anyway. It’s been special to acknowledge that am now in a place to be able to do this with confidence rather than diffidence, calmly without slipping into panic and most of all without feeling the distress about the possible cost to my being.

It’s like discovering new light, in an otherwise dark time.

It is not lost on me that is yet another positive manifestation of how relationships with others, with the world at large, are changing, as the deepest most private parts of my relationship with myself are also changing. It brings the promise of new ways of blossoming.

The impending crisis has settled, for now. I return to Goa, in a couple of days, and life will likely resume. Even though everything about this back and forth seems familiar and old, at some very fundamental level I feel like nothing will ever be the same again.

One year ago: Oh my life is changing everyday
Three years ago: That’s all

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Reflections

Things I’ve enjoyed this past week:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decompress

A spot of alone time and unwinding before I head out to dinner. I really needed this to decompress all that has been held within me for the last 24 hours.

There was a death in VCs family and being around the family in these circumstances always triggers something very deep within me, bringing up differences and making me realise the full impact of the way in which I feel like a misfit.

I carried all the stirrings of this to therapy last evening. A mad dash after a day that was spent in a tizzy on the run. And what emerged attherapt crushed me like a ton of bricks and took me to a very deep, dark place.

I’m tempted to say I was not ready for it. That it came out of the blue. But if I were to be really honest, the signs have been there, the writings been on the wall, this has been coming a while. I had only to see it and have the right trigger unleash it all.

I realised yesterday what a sense of safety and guidance I feel with N. Something just clicks into place for me when we begin a session, giving me the unexpected confidence to bring out the things I do — the things that stay deep in dark places in my real life. But I’d be untrue to myself if I didn’t give myself credit where it’s due. If I didn’t acknowledge the work and focus it has taken in getting myself to where I am with my personal journey. The process of integrating, becoming hole, including all that has been separated, looking at the ways in which I am bound by my consciences — all of this has contributed to making me just that little bit more solid and whole from within. And it is only because of this newfound solidity that I am even able to tap into the depths of my shadow self, brave enough to go there and wrench out the more deeply held fears and anxieties like I did yesterday.

I have never felt so simultaneously fearful and brave. Afraid, yet ready. Empowered, and up for a challenge.

The difference now is just how much I feel like I am on my own side. How much I have my own back. And how much I feel committed to not abandoning myself.

So I sit here today, finally decompressing, and I realise since therapy yesterday I have subconsciously waited and anticipated a mild falling apart that I thought would follow.

The flux, it’s there. The distress and unsettlement, it’s there. The angst and butterflies in my stomach about what will be, it’s there. And yet I feel together.

The “breakdown” — it hasn’t come. And I’m wondering if it may have left the building entirely.

One year ago: Did we fly to the moon too soon?
Three years ago: Back to base. Almost.

This is now

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

***

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

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

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

Balance.

***

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

Win. Win.

***

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

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

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

These days

It’s been about 10 really good (and bustling) days — some reflections, writing, anticipation, exercise, good food, friends, great conversation — and as this week comes to a close, and I’m looking forward to staying in this weekend.

This happens to me every time I touch down in Bangalore. My calendar gets so full so quickly with catching up with people. This time, interestingly, I have been careful to filter out what I am not so keen to do (things I’d do out of politeness), sticking only to meeting people, going places and doing things that I am really interested in. And yet, after a burst of activity like this, I feel the need to just hit mute for a while and sit at home. Which is my plan for the coming weekend. Starting tomorrow, actually.

One year ago: Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to
Three years ago: About yesterday

Spaces in-between

This morning I felt immense gratitude as I was driving to the gym. Waking up and heading straight to the gym has been the routine for the last 10 days, and it hit me this morning how easily fulfilled this desire to get disciplined about working out has been. A gym close to home, my mothers car for me to use every single day, unencumbered mornings to spend at the gym without anyone or anything to rush home to. I am a very easy creature of habit, I realise. Especially with things I love and want to do everything to sustain. So to be able to chase this, so easily with literally nothing in my way, felt overwhelmingly special.

It’s a little thing, I know. But in the end it’s the little things that have the most impact, no?

In the moment I felt free. And I felt gratitude for all that enables this deep sense of freedom. In the moment it felt like gratitude for being in Bangalore which gives me access to so much that I need right now. But I immediately realised it’s not limited to the city, to geography alone. It’s those little things. The very things I’ve needed for so long, that are somehow being fulfilled here, at this point in time in my life, formidably aided by the options and opportunities this city has to offer.

***

Bangalore leaves a lot to be desired. I am routinely enraged, frustrated and bicker about the traffic, the apathy, the garbage and what not. I feel helpless and very agitated by the slow nosedive we’re making to utter destruction. I have to think twice about what I want to wear before I step out. In many ways I feel limited and held back. But even so, on a daily basis I feel a sense of freedom and openness — from within — that overarches everything else.

I didn’t know it then, but I left Goa because I needed space. Space to grow, space to stretch, space to explore and widen my inner life. And somehow, physically as well as emotionally and perhaps metaphysically too, Goa with all its wide open green spaces, overlapping social circles and limited options, had begun to feel so very small. Claustrophobic. Crunched up.

It’s the strangest thing, and I know it sounds odd even as I describe it awkwardly as I am. But this is the truth: this is the free-est, most wide-open I’ve felt. Open to change, open to uncertainty, open to love, open to discovery, open to surprises. Just open. And free. In a way that settles something within me. Gives me space, and a deep sense of openness, freedom to run, to be. A very palpable widening of myself.

***

Long after I left Goa and moved to Bangalore, I found myself constantly tossing up the pros and cons of both places to live. This is typical nature, isn’t it? The need to validate and justify our choices completely. Especially the difficult ones. And to keep trying and trying till we’re sufficiently convinced we’ve done the right thing. I constantly craved and looked for the big things, larger than life events, overwhelming circumstances that would feel like valid reason enough to have done the unthinkable and moved back from Goa to Bangalore — a city I’d run away from and sworn never to return to only 8 years ago. I found solace in some small things, but they were always just that — small consolations — and a larger part of my heart tugged with confusion and a mixed-up longing for…I-dont-know-what exactly for many, many months.

I knew with growing clarity that my time in Goa was done, that wanting to leave was reason enough, but in the years I was away Bangalore has exploded into a slowly self-destructing monster of sorts and the transition from quiet, green, expansive Goa to this gave me bouts of severe cognitive dissonance. The gentle, welcoming, unhurried Bangalore of the 80s and 90s that I knew, has been totally engulfed by this busy, chaotic, always-on-the-run city that I couldn’t quite make sense of. Even though, in pockets, I found comfort in nostalgia, familiarity and many little things (again, it’s the little things that made a difference) that felt like a throwback form my years growing up here, at a macro level, something didn’t quite fit.

That “fit” — that snug clink of pieces falling into place, of things making sense (in whatever way that they do) — is what I’m suddenly feeling I have found. A foothold, a grounding, a series of satisfying little moments on a daily basis that make me grateful for being here. In this city. Here in this moment of time.

It’s nothing tangible of course. It’s a state of mind, maybe? But I have it now. Today, it was the drive to the gym and way in which I lost track of time only to realise it had been 90 minutes since I began working out, that made me register that same feeling. That fit.

It isn’t the desire for fitness alone, though. There is also the desire for people. For family, and for friends. There is the urge to be out in public spaces — parks, cafes, bookstores, restaurants — anywhere but sitting at home all day long, basically, or avoiding public spaces for fear of bumping into someone I knew and didn’t want to meet. There is the need to move freely, the ability to get around freely, on my own. For dependable public transport.

This morning, I felt gratitude for how much all of this is so easily being fulfilled in my life right now. Access to space, all kinds of it, the means to get to places, to people, and to the in-betweens of it all.

***

Last week was chock-full with so many quintessentially Bangalore highlights, it really affirmed how much (and why) I am enjoying being where I am — in this monstrous city. To be walking distance from N and to be able to meet her once every week is a treasure. To hit the gym 6 out of 7 days. To be next door to amma and have so much time to spend there, doing nothing, or everything with them, cooking, chilling, working, lazing, whatever it may be.

There was brunch with A at Koshys one day with the option to amble into Blossoms bookstore, hanging out with S at Bharatiya Jalpaan another day and not feeling satisfied so prolonging our chatter over lemon chai after. On Friday Niyu and I took the parents for a pizza lunch all the way across town, and later that night I ended up (without prior planning) partying at a brewery surrounded by the sounds and smells of people way too young for my own good and bumping into the ex, and then a bookstore/cafe opening on the weekend where I got to listen to Mahesh Rao (who I have loved for so many years, and missed for so long now because, no social media) and Arshia Sattar talk about how they became readers and eventually writers, which was followed up by a chance almost-unplanned dinner with D at Koshys again, and Sunday brunch with S over too many Mango-Chilli Caprioskas and the allowance to indulge in berry pulao.

I know this sounds like an ode to Bangalore, maybe? But the thing that clicked into place in my head this morning was that this was never about choosing one city or another, it was yet another act of making space, and doing it in a place that allows me that luxury, in the way that I need it now.

There is space in my life right now. So much space, so much of it. And the freedom to meander and navigate it just as I please.

I was so done being cooped up in the way that my life in Goa had begun to feel. It is wonderful to now be out and about in more ways than one. I am so grateful for this time and all the things that have gone into bringing me here, all that it takes to keep me afloat and allows me the privilege to enjoy it.

One year ago: When the rainy days are dying
Three years ago: New tricks

These days

I’ve only been back in Bangalore a week, but the settledness that comes with returning home makes it feel like it’s been a while. Longer. Only thoughts of my plants give me a pang for the wonderful summer I had this year, not so long ago. But for the most part, life here has resumed in full swing. The weather has turned here with thunderstorm-y nights and grey, overcast days. Summer feels long gone.

There is the new development of not having work at all, something that otherwise grounds my days, giving me tangible milestones to work towards. I’m also mostly still eating all meals at amma’s, because ammama is visiting, so my kitchen hasn’t found a burst of activity as it usually does when I return. The only thing I’m doing (and by doing I mean expending physical energy) with utmost dedication an enthusiasm, is hitting the gym every single day. As much as this is a luxury that I love and appreciate, it has meant my days are rather floaty, like an extended holiday of sorts. Except I have to keep reminding myself that it isn’t a holiday, this is now life itself. A phase of life without work, a life with abundant help and generosity from my mother. It is here for the taking — with freewheeling days to do as I please — and I must step up and take it for what it is, without diminishing its (or my) value with my sometimes problematic notions of what is “okay” to receive, and what is an unnecessary indulgence.

This seriously still disorients me — the floaty days, and the internal tussle I go through before I can enjoy them — but the uncanny and deliberate way in which events aligned to land me in this place this time around feels like a fresh call to just stay with it for a change. Do not rush to fill it with busyness, Re.

Even though I am getting better at it, it still takes a lot of effort to put myself in the headspace to go with it and enjoy it, to believe I am not “slacking off” for not being “productive”, to quit equating my usefulness to professional work alone. There is a sense of urgency I feel in getting to work, that I haven’t had in a while. The comfort of a steady gig, a steady income had kept that at bay, I suppose. The emptiness left by it now has brought old demons I’d somewhat put to rest, back up again. I’ve done my share of overthinking it silently in my head. And I keep coming back to asking myself this — what is your rush? What are you in looking to fill, ignore, move your eyes away from? Are you looking for work to numb the discomfiting silence that comes from extreme stillness? What is so scary about emptiness that you are trying avert it so urgently?

While I figure this out, I’m casting the net out again. Feebly. I’ve been out of the game for so long that I feel inept and a bit at sea about where to begin. So I must remember to take it slow, telling myself as many times as it takes to remember, I didn’t get to this stage of funemployment overnight, that sheer providence has sent a steady flow of work my way even in phases when I wasn’t really looking for it, that I am probably not going to go back to a state of steady work overnight. This is the natural order of things now. That it is okay. That there are gifts in here, even in the sometimes uncomfortably empty days, in the laziness that forces itself on me, in the wealth of time that is opening up for me. Is work really the only thing I want to fill it with?

At this point, I don’t know.

One year ago: Life has a funny way of helping you out
Three years ago: Period story and writing lessons

Onwards and upwards

Clambering back to regular programming today after four rather unnecessarily hectic days. This tends to happen when VC visits because his folks and family like to behave like he’s returned from Timbuktoo (and not just the next state). So our days get filled with obligatory meals out, hanging out with various parts of his family and with a short break at hand, consumes all of the days.

Perhaps it was the sharp contrast to all the quiet downtime we have had, but I’ve been spent from all the social activity, and I felt a real lack time to ourselves. Suddenly, I realised that this is my city now, and it would be nice to spend some time with VC here on my turf, which is quite different from life in Goa. Of course I mustn’t complain because I’ve just returned from an extended stay together. Or so my guilty conscience made me feel for even thinking this. But it did make me wonder about possible future trips that he might make, and how much it is my tendency to brush my desires aside in favour of what’s “right”. Even after ten years being married, it is still the default to step back and make space for his family to take over. To shrink my needs and desires, make myself take up less space, be less demanding. And to do all of this much more than I am genuinely willing, comfortable or happy to do.

This realisation hit me quietly, this past weekend. Like a gentle nudge in the right place at the right time. One of the side-effects of developing a new sense of self is growing clarity about what I want and an awareness about how much I tend to put myself aside for “the other”. Conversely, how much I am no longer willing to put myself aside has become very apparent.

Given that the last two months have been all kinds of favourable for a growing sense of self, some significant milestones and a very cohesive coming together of some threads in this story, it has given me a very real experience of the impact that healthy individuality that can have on us as a couple, in our marriage. So naturally, I experienced the very regular set of events that occur when VC comes home, in a whole new way. It was like seeing the same things but with very new eyes.

This is not to be mistaken to mean that I have been a docile, submissive daughter in law, or that I have quietly taken all things meted out to me. But even so, I am suddenly aware of how my default tendency has always been to push so many little desires to the back burner, to put myself behind to allow space for other agendas. In the name of being adjusting or sometimes to be the bigger person or sometimes just to save myself the hassle of a conversation to explain myself. This past weekend I could trace this pattern from the smallest insignificant things to some larger things that could in fact impact our relationship, and it worried me.

The thing about indulging in discovering myself, is that it sometimes brings me to unexplored territory and it sometimes presents an invitation to re-visit the old and to meet it in a healthy way, from a place of wholeness that I now inhabit. I feel this way about our marriage too. It feels like a second opportunity to do-over everything again, with a deliberate and purposeful focus on the sense of self I have now. That we have now.

I am not the same person I have been for the last decade of being married. VC isn’t either. And the more things change, the more I feel compelled to rework templates, fixed habits and patterns and ways of doing things. To evolve in a direction that makes sense for who we are now.

In just the last four days alone, all of this has brought up a lot of thoughts about belonging, love, commitment and values. I feel a palpable shift for VC and me, new roads opening, and multiple new ways in which we can steer our relationship up for the taking. At the moment, aside from the basic foundation of commitment, love and understanding, I’m really beginning to feel we can go any where from here. The options and avenues are unknown and aplenty. There is quite nothing like slow and steady, one step at a time, one day at a time — leaving a lot to providence and fate, but just as much to deliberation and mindfulness. This is a process that was at one time my worst nightmare, but is somehow today a thrill and excitement.

One year ago: I’ll take a quiet life

Bangalore showers

Speaking of rain, I got a good dose of the quintessential Bangalore torrential rain two nights a row. Completely washing our Saturday night drink plan out, and causing us massive detours and delays while getting back home because of uprooted trees everywhere.

Last night was no less and the storm taking down several trees including this massive one on my street along with four electric poles that knocked out the power for 20 hours.

So today was a hot, uncomfortable, achy from period day spent listlessly. I was conserving battery on all my gadgets and felt like my brain was steaming up so couldn’t get myself to write.

We’ve taken ourselves out for a quick dinner before VC leaves for Goa tomorrow. I’m nursing a tall pink sugary drink — my last indulgence in the last four days of constant indulgence — and feeling mildly better.

Tomorrow will be a new day.

One year ago: For you will still be here, but your dreams may not
Three years ago: Odd days like today

Thank you, Bangalore

Couple of things I’ve been missing sorely:

Running on a treadmill. I’d built my way up to a decent pace and distance. And it was only going to get better with consistency, but running on a treadmill came to a grinding halt in Goa because I do not have access to a gym. I could run outdoors but I live just off what used to be a rather pretty highway flanked by villages in either side, that is now just a royal mess with massive road construction in progress for kilometres on end. It’s not only dangerous for me to try and run there but also just such a displeasure. The home workouts have been a blessing, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss the sheer rush of a good even-paced, speedy run on the treadmill.

Seeing Amma everyday. Most unexpectedly, I’m really missing Amma. I say unexpectedly because this is the sort of trip that’s happened many times before. We’re constantly travelling and not seeing each other for bouts of time. I wonder what has changed this time around?

My nearly-daily iced americano fix. I miss spending those couple of hours at Third Wave every other day, getting work done while nursing an iced americano that they’ve just mailed and that just hits the spot for me every single time. I’ve been demotivated to get working, enthusiasm flagging in the comforts of my home and loungey routine. I miss having the option to go to an “office” space.

My frennsss. Truth be told, I miss my friends too. I can count them on one hand, yes, but I miss them nonetheless. I’ve realised with alarming clarity that I am not as much of an introvert and homebody as I used to be or as I thought I am. I like the presence of people, I like making spontaneous plans, I like meeting with them regularly, I like going out and catching up over food and drink. And when I come here, all of that has a forced stop. The quiet is great, but I’d kill for some frequent, well-timed bits of action.

My therapist. Even though I continue therapy over Skype when I am in Goa, I do so miss the face to face interaction and the extra insights it brings.

Sunday walks. It’s been an unexpectedly long hiatus and it’s beginning to show, because last Sunday, I had visions of walking the snaking paths we do in Bangalore, covered by green, and the idli and vada we have after. Green space I have aplenty here, but I will never find an idli or a vada to match up.

***

I guess what I’m also feeling, on the flipside, is gratitude for all of this. It fills my life with a certain energy and richness that I feel the palpable lack of when I am away. This, I realise now. I’m so grateful for all that I receive from Amma. I’m grateful for the renewed inclination to get fit again and for all the help and resources I have to make this happen, uncompromisingly. I’m grateful for work, and all that it enables. I’m grateful for my friends, the ones who remain and who always show up. I’m grateful for Bangalore and the nature in which it shows me a contrasting experience to the one I have in Goa, because it makes me realise again and again that I am not bound to any one place, vibe or state of being.

One year ago: And I’m feeling so bohemian like you
Three years ago: Lucid

Going the distance

I don’t know if there’s a better picture than this one to aptly illustrate just how much I am being pushed and tested to let go of all the perfect endings and neatly laid plans I have in my head.

Time and time again these past few weeks I have been shown that it’s important to just go the distance, even if it isn’t all the way till the end line I imagine, or even if the route to getting there isn’t the one I’d have chosen. What matters is giving it my all and going as far as I possibly can in that moment.

To actively work towards hitting 5k in under 35 minutes and nearly make it, only to be stopped just short, by a pre-timed treadmill that’s trained to shut off at 35 minutes was serendipitous today. It made me laugh hard at the gym today. It felt like a small scale version of what happened yesterday when it felt like my life, that was moving happily along, was forced to come to an abrupt grinding halt. And there was absolutely nothing I could do but to go with it.

I’m headed to Goa, two weeks ahead of schedule. And for the first time in perhaps ever, I’m not thrilled about it. After more than a day of fretting and stewing silently, I now feel a little bit at peace with the acceptance that I don’t have to force myself to feel kindly towards what’s going, but I can still do what’s needed and what’s asked of me.

It isn’t perfect. But it’s far less worse than it could have been. And for now, it’ll do.

One year ago: March

Blank

I’ve had a strange day with high highs and lows lows and wild swinging between the two. I’ve had to streamline all the things I had planned for two weeks to now be done in two days before I jet off unexpectedly. Top on my list was getting a haircut and my phone fixed. And somehow I’m in less of a tizzy now that those “crucial” things are done.

Right now though, my mind’s just blank.

Three years ago: Fullness

Looking within

Things might be a little quiet around here from time to time, especially on days like today when spontaneous events lead me away from a set plan and I try and allow myself to go with the flow without overthinking things too much, and some times leaving posting for the day to the very end, or forgetting it altogether.

I’m allowed to flake on my own well laid plans, I realise. And I don’t allow myself the luxury enough, without beating myself up about it just a wee bit first.

I guess this isn’t going to be a second year of flawless posting everyday. It holds the promise of enough potential for forgotten posts and several back dates posts.

I’m just going to go with it.

***

It’s been a week of zipping around, getting work done in the pockets around social commitments that were strewn right through the week and into the weekend. I feel a buzz in my head, even while the rest of my body seems kind of disconnectedly calm.

I’m not sure what it’s about, and for once I am trying not to figure it out, but just go with it.

One year ago: Trust me on the sunscreen
Three years ago: Letting it go

A good day to give thanks

Gratitude this week for:

My body for reminding me how resilient it is and how much I can push and stretch it to do things I sometimes think are unimaginable.

Access to a gym, to be able to afford it and to put money, mind and body into fitness as a priority.

My trainers and for the commitment and focus they bring. And for inspiring and pushing me.

One year ago: Love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves

Mostly nothing

After spinning like a top for two weeks, I had a much needed quiet weekend of mostly nothing, all to myself. It was just what I needed to hit reset, make the wheels in my head stop spinning. And it was good to just resign — to sleep, to cooking for myself, to eating eggs and toast for dinner, to binge watching shitty movies, to just being without doing much else.

I say nothing, but it wasn’t an empty weekend. It was just a low-key one, filled with basic, mundanities. The stillness of a regular routine, of being able to do whatever I want of my time, of lying low like the afternoon sun slanting in, stark yet sleep-inducing, is seriously underrated and I don’t know what it will take for me to remember to indulge this luxury that I have, more often.

If on Thursday I was confused and disconnected, this weekend reconnected the link that had snapped. Who knew all it needed was a weekend spent simply, spontaneously?

There are times where I arrive at perfectly regular, unspectacular days like these. Where everything is just normal, and I get the sense I’ve been here before. I know this, it works, it has worked before. And the way in which they ground me and bring me back to myself, I sometimes feel they heal — harder and deeper — than the epiphanies and breakthroughs on days that come like a spectacular bolt of lightning and shake the ground beneath my feet.

I wish for more days like these. Where the truth is easy, and it dawns unannounced. Where there is love in simple acts of pleasure. Where I feel grounded and held, even when I’m going about my home all alone. When I suddenly realise that what I’m looking for has been here and within my reach all along.

***

It began on Friday, actually. With S coming over for lunch, I ended up cancelling all plans to work. This wasn’t part of the plan, but I just went with it — and this is something I am trying to let myself do more often without attaching judgement to it. I enjoyed cooking that meal complete with greens, salad, curry and millets. There was filter coffee post-lunch and we ended up gabbing till well into the evening, having to forcibly stop because I had to leave. Else we might have gone on and on, I suspect.

On Friday night I drove an hour across town (willingly, excitedly, on Friday evening. I don’t know who I am anymore.) met with A and caught Girish’s Karnad’s Rakt Kalyan, a Hindi translation of the original in Kannada, directed by Sunil Shanbhag. The play was stellar and deeply moving because even though it’s a tale of a perfectly idyllic society degrading to despicable levels of anarchy and bloodshed, it felt all too real and relevant for where we are as a country today. However, it was dense, intense and in such perfect Hindi, I had a hard time not tuning out. It wasn’t the play, it’s me. I realised that night that I’m just not in the headspace for anything densely engaging right now. It’s why I haven’t been able to read a full book this year, and why my journal writing is fragmented and staccato, not flowing like it was just last month.

The feels come deeply and sweep over me and I can’t do much but sink with it — a feeling I don’t quite enjoy. It makes me listless, my mind torn between over-engaged and letting go, stuck in between and doing nothing.

The play made me feel something. A little too deeply. And when we got out to catch dinner, I found myself nursing the idea of breaking my carb fast to chase the blues that had descended away. Luchi-aloor-dom it was. And it did not disappoint.

***

On Saturday morning, I woke up early, ostensibly, to hit the gym. My body has been stretched to the max this week and that morning I felt it in every inch of my muscles. I was very, very tempted to chicken out, but I persisted and pushed myself out the door. Thankfully it was a spot running workout, and even more surprisingly, once I was past the 7 minute mark, something inside of me kicked alive and I began to enjoy the run. Even so, I was battered — in a good way — by the time the 45 minutes were done. I’m still only running 50% of the stipulated time, and everyday that I make a small improvement whether in a new distance reached or a better pace, I feel good for it.

There is something ridiculously satisfying about getting my workout for the day done before 8 am, coming home to a super hot shower, getting back into my night clothes and back into bed for a daytime snooze. In summer, with the AC on, it hits the spot a little more. I meant to catch a short nap but woke up 2 hours later, when the doorbell rang.

I then spent half an hour sorting and arranging flowers around my home. This week I got two deliveries worth of flowers which means there’s currently more vases with excessively dressy flowers in my home than there are humans. The ratio is 5:1.

A lunch of leftovers was meant to be had, but after binge-watching the Bong Eats youtube channel yet again (I have no idea why it’s so addictive and makes me go on and on, one video after another, losing track of time) I was craving a simple masoor dal. So I made myself some and ate my lunch in bed, watching Netflix.

A few hours of Netflixing later — I really got into the gritty and raw Delhi Crime (can’t dial into anything serious, she says) — I received an annoying Basecamp notification from a slightly irrational client who I suspect has the idea of timelines all wrong in their head. I was so triggered in the moment that I decided right then and there to just give them what they’re on my case for (even though the timelines they expect are crazy). Sped off to Third Wave, which has become my go-to when I need to kick my productivity in action, and pounded away for a few hours getting some work done even though working on the weekend was the last thing on my mind.

Somewhere in between D texted me and what ensued was a really funny conversation that had me stifling loud laughter and wiping away tears. The dude working at the table next to me kept glancing sideways, with a very perplexed and worried look. Later I realised it must have looked like I was crying, violently shaking as I was from trying to mute the noisy laughter that was threatening to erupt, while wiping away a stream of tears. I really needed that bout of laughter, and the endorphins that rushed in.

I came home and made myself a boiled egg sandwich with Kasundi (thank you, Bong Eats!) and ketchup, salt and pepper before calling it an early day.

***

Thank God for Sunday being rest day. And after the brutal week it’s been in the workout department, I was looking forward to it. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hit my Sunday walk again after so many weeks. We promised to try. Except I woke up and promptly listened to my body, — clearly begging for some rest — cancelled and went back to sleep for two more hours.

I spent the rest of Sunday pretty much horizontal. I managed to read a bit, cook myself some cholle for lunch, loll about for extended periods of time for the rest of the day, watching Delhi Crime. Niyu came over in the evening and we chilled for a bit, before I caught Captain Marvel (again!) in the evening with D.

***

Time and time again I am shown the beauty and wonder that slowing down, minimizing and steadying myself has to offer. Most times, when I have nowhere to go, no place to be, no timelines to worry about, I am happy. This past weekend I was all alone. My folks are travelling, my maid took the weekend off and I had no real plans — something that hasn’t happened in many weekends now. The plans that got made, happened spontaneously, with ease, and because I wanted to. No obligations, to stretching myself more than needed.

Cerebrally, I know the benefits of letting go, going with the flow and all of that. And for the most part I am in sync. But there are times, like the last two weeks, when everything about my being decidedly rejects the idea and insists on staying on the run. I must remember to especially slow down and stay still at such times, not to see what I am getting away from when I run, but to see what emerges when I stop.

I know what it was this time, and I feel a little silly that it takes a weekend of forced staying in and nothingness for me to dial in to that. When will this become my default? When will that inner knowing be fine-tuned so much that I don’t have to think about it and I just know when to pause, without having my external life orchestrate the pauses?

I was chatting with VC the other night about how much I am loving what has become of my life. Aside from the fact that it’s missing his presence sorely, I am thoroughly enjoying how much space I have for me, for what I want to do, even if it is sometimes nothing at all. I hope I can get myself to turn the negative self-talk down more often and really make the most of this time. That was after all one of the major motivations of staying on in Bangalore.

I must remind myself more often.

Three years ago: Piece of peace