Stay and stay a while

It’s VC departure day and I’ve been exceptionally gloomy about it this time around. It’s a combination of PMS, I think, plus really being at the end of my tether with the in-between life, and really wanting to get a move on. It’s compounded by the fact that my mother left two nights ago, and with VC gone today, my sister and father leaving on the weekend too, I’m feeling preemptively morose.

You have so many people to hang out with! said VC when I complained to him last night.

And yes, while that’s indeed true, it’s just…not the same, you know?

It’s one thing finding company, no matter how enthralling, but quite another thing entirely sharing my very life and spaces with people I love. Which is the kind of intimacy I was ruing.

***

We drove out this morning, my dad, VC and I, ostensibly to catch a quick brunch before VC headed off to the airport. But driving out turned into driving all the way to the airport, and a quick brunch turned into leisurely beers (many for them, a single one for me) and a quick bite. I decided to test my throat (that is feeling much better) today with that beer, and I feel oddly better.

VC was thrilled to be headed back to his peace and quiet life, with the weekend just a day away, and the end of his notice period now in sight.

I’m happy to let him go, temporarily (especially because this is the first time in forever that I’m seeing VC cut back and really focus on the fun) but this gnawing feeling of wanting to be together again keeps tugging at me from within. I’m just sitting tight and biding time, knowing that it is in fact just a matter of time before the nature and quality of my life the past week becomes the new normal.

The most obvious antidote to these blues would have been to hop on the same flight with VC and go to Goa, seeing as how I have no commitments for another week at least. But I’m just not feeling drawn to being there somehow. There’s just so much momentum that’s drummed up with things here, with the simultaneous internal slowing down, and the surprising new ability to just lie in waiting for things to unfold as they should, without efforting any of it.

I feel like the call is to wait, not rush off.

Here, now, is where it’s at and I’m staying grounded to that hunch.

Meanwhile, it’s life in passing. Slow motion. Daily, normal, mundane and joyful to tide over the intense missings.

One year ago: I want the truth to be said
Two years ago: Finding life again

Three years ago: Lines and dreams

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Monday funday

VCs been home since Friday and he was to leave today. But happily enough, a fortuitous work plan emerged that had him extend his stay by three days. At this point it really feels like the universe is pushing to really make this home base again.

Anyhow, extra time is always a good thing. So we took off to catch up on some errands and snuck in a lunch out about town together too.

I could get used to Mondays that begin like this.

One year ago: Every inch of sky’s got a star
Three years ago: Disjointed, incomplete thoughts

Gratitude fix

Grateful for the great weather we’ve been having. Sweaters by night, sunshine by day. Crisp early beginnings, the beginnings of winter sunlight that frame every new day and make me forget all that’s wrong with the world for just that little bit.

Sure, it’s made waking up as early as I am used to a tad harder. Actually, scratch that. The waking up happens rather easily, I’m afraid I’ve hacked my body clock to open eyes at 6 am. It’s the leaving the bed and getting out from under the blanket bit thats much, much harder. I end up snoozing the alarm for upwards of 40 minutes and have pushed my start of day a fair bit.

Grateful for the festivities of the weekend. After many years I had the opportunity to indulge in more than just the partaking of the feast — which is frankly the most interesting part of Ganesh Chaturti, amiright? I enjoyed wandering about shopping with amma, and doing my little bit to cook parts of the traditional meal we’ve been accustomed to eating for all these years, and that I realised I have a special fondness and affinity for.

I’ve indulged in about three times the amount of food I consume on any given day over Gowri and Ganesh, taking seconds (and thirds in some cases) of all my favourite foods, unabashedly. All my restraint and restrictions have fallen to the wayside almost as easily as they have been imbibed, and I’m observing how natural and easy to give in and slip back on track it has become of late. Is this what eating intuitively is?

Grateful for the burst of life that festivals bring to my neighbourhood, literally transforming the place. Traffic is a bitch, but we got out on foot, in the middle of the day and in another time I might have been hassled and bothered. But I enjoyed it, the sights and sounds suddenly appealing and sweet, touching a hitherto untouched part of my heart almost.

This is V and we’ve reconnected after about 10 years. It’s only been a handful of times that we’ve met, but every time that we have, it’s been lighthearted, easy, full of laughter. I almost forget we are adult versions of the people we were when we used to be broke teenagers in college who resorted to hanging out on park benches because we had no money to go anywhere else. And yet, somewhere in between the rambunctious laughter over the silliest things, I see how far we’ve come, how grown up we are. I’m grateful for the many reconnections I’ve had. It’s brought variety to my friendships, loosened me up and brought a much-needed lightness to my life that allows for unabashed day drinking.

There’s been something of a throwback theme going on with me. Last week I caught up with S after more than a decade, and at Koshys where we met, I happened to glance around and notice my English Literature professor sitting at a table behind me. She’s literally the only teacher from those three godawful years in college, who I cared for, who made an impact on me, and who I remember enough to go say hi. I looked straight at her, dead sure she wouldn’t recognise me. In my head, I look nothing like I did in college, especially with the shorter than ever before hair. But she looked straight back at me and went; “Revati!”

We engaged in a full on conversation and she seemed to remember every little detail about where we left off — which was 2006 — when I graduated! My interests, the professors I disliked, my resistance to Shakespeare and my love for Eliot, alike. And I have no idea how, but she knew I lived in Goa. She expressed such joy when I responded to What are you up to? with I write.

I can’t tell you how happy that made me!

Extra, extra grateful for public transport more than ever before. The more I think about the little ways in which I can reduce putting a car and four wheels on the road, the more I think about the implications of spending so much money on something as basic as getting about town, the more compelled I feel to make the effort to take the metro whenever I can. And it’s a delight to see it pay off.

I’m grateful for N who has stayed like a silent, strong force holding space for all that has been unfolding for me. Even with our infrequent meetings, I’ve found a space where I can increasingly be me, in all my different states of togetherness of the lack thereof. No filters, no adjustments. It is a real privilege, relief. And joy. As I make sense of so many little and big things as they unfold and churn up a world of emotions and realisations within me.

One year ago: August

Brain noodles

Last week was an important one for me. Several small, subtle shifts that signal other important changes seem to have clicked into place.

I ended three days of class feeling a strange sort of separation, like growing up and feeling ready to fly the nest. Last time, this feeling came with a fair share of angst and difficulty in accepting this natural progression. But this time around, just four weeks later, something has shifted.

I surprised myself with how ready I felt to do the work, to take my place, to stretch myself, to allow myself to fumble, make mistakes and ask for help.

Some significant, memorable things:
I met up with a friend after a whole decade and was delighted to find how easy it was to pick up the pieces just where we left off, even though our lives have moved on so much, in such immense ways.

I hit 7k on my run last week. It made me giddy with happiness.

I woke up one morning to some super cute baby photos of myself, from an aunt who used to be one of my most favourites until some weird shit caused her to isolate herself. Waking up to them pictures, and her little anecdotal message recalling things from a time I obviously don’t remember, was precious.

That pesto fried chicken burger that hit the spot.

Three days of really rigorous learning that I still haven’t recovered from. The weekend was a blur of much napping, and mostly staying in. Even though I cancelled morning plans, ostensibly to sleep in, I did make it to the gym because I seem to have hacked my system to go to bed early and wake up early too. But that aside, it was mostly a homebody weekend until I took myself to watch Vir Das last night, all by myself, all the way in Whitefield. Yeah, I continue to shock myself.

Vir Das has always been a favourite, and after last night’s show I think I’m pretty sure he’s in a league of his own. I can’t wait for this special to make it to Netflix.

Three years ago: Wandering, right here at home

Love actually

When you know, you just know. Ever so slowly, with just as much intensity creeping up on me as it did when I realised I needed to live on my own, I have realised that this time is done. Everything that it could have served at this point in my life, has been nearly done. And I am so ready to go back to living with VC. I am ready to share space and togetherness again.

I guess you could say the realisation crept up on me when I began to miss him more intensely than normal. It began about a month ago when I returned from Goa. The number of calls I make on any given day have outnumbered the number of calls he makes to me (and the fact that he had taken to calling me more than twice a day was in itself a pleasant shocker). But I think the real clincher that something fundamental had changed was when I started nesting again. It’s almost like the dead impulse to do anything remotely domestic has been kindled again, and I am homing. Like a bloody pigeon. Readying this home once again to the familiar, warm and life-filled place it was before VC moved.

For no apparent reason, I took down curtains to launder, cleaned out storage spaces and carried out a massive deep cleaning operation of my fridge and kitchen a few weeks ago. In the process, I realised how disconnected I have been from all things domestic around here. Partly because living on my own has required less involvement on the home front. Things have functioned on auto pilot, with just me taking care of me. Amma and I eat most of our meals together, prepared by her so my kitchen has been barely functional the last 3-4 months. Things have been proper and in shape, but with a perceivable lack of life. The sort of thing that fills homes as an outcome of when people being connected, bringing energy and breathing life into mere spaces. This takes active living, and since I was mostly just coming home to sleep for the greater part of the last many months, there’s been a growing sense of lifelessness about my home.

Suddenly something turned. I’m spending more and more time here, feeling homely and cosy. Imagining meals I want to cook, dreaming of all the places my plants will go when they’re transported from Goa. And there’s groceries in my kitchen, vegetables and curd and bread and eggs in my fridge. The curtains are clean, the cupboards slowly being made dust-free. A whole lot of old clothes and shoes have been discarded/donated. You know, mundanities.

I’ve even spent some mornings cooking elaborate meals that I felt inspired to make. I braved the daunting 6-hour recipe making ulavacharu out of half a kilo of horsegram because all this staying in, in this weather demands all things zesty and earthy in my plate. I also made half a kilo of popped makhanas to snack on. I mean healthy snack preps? Is there a bigger sign that I’m well and truly home?

The home is functioning again, basically. And then this morning, I emptied out VC’s cupboard that I had appropriated and spilled myself and my belongings over into last year when he moved to Goa. So I suppose, it’s official now. I’m done living alone.

The distance has been especially painful this week, since he left early Monday morning, and I am already counting days to our next trip already. The good thing is, I managed to convince him to make two trips to visit me here in Bangalore during this time I cannot leave the city. He was convinced, very easily. And he acted on proposed plans, very quickly.  Last weekend was one of those trips and it was a joyful, quiet, contained weekend for me.

Even with the excessive (by my new standards) being outdoors, it was a weekend spent just being. Whether out or at home (and we did consciously spend a fair bit of much-needed time by ourselves at home) it really brought home the fact that this is something we sorely missed doing in the initial months when we moved here from Goa, over two years ago.

I realise now, in retrospect, that 2017 Revati and the headspace she was in when we moved — initially out of desperation and then driven by a compulsion to make it work — swiftly slipped into get-it-done mode. This made me completely inward-looking and disconnected from all else. What parts of me remained were drawn and invested in being with my family. Which left VC to deal with his family as best as he could, or be alone. Even when we were together, I see now how disconnected we were. Emotionally, more than anything else.

I’ve been feeling those gaps closing in the past many months. But something about his trip here really hit home. There was a visible comfort in being here — in this city — that was missing in 2017. An ease and presence. A deliberate relaxation from not trying hard to make it work, and the consequent lack of guilt from sometimes failing at that. A comfort and acceptance of things, and just going with the flow.

This past weekend, we did things we haven’t done here in a long time. Chose to be home. Ate home cooked meals, making rotis and chopping onions together. Also ordered our favourite desserts to eat in bed while we Netflixed, separately. You know, life as it used to be. We also took ourselves out on a proper date — drinks at HRC followed by Kunal Kamra who made us laugh so hard our faces hurt and we came home buzzed and unable to sleep.

I got a special kick in showing VC all the things I newly love about the city. We walked a lot, took the metro into town on the night of Kunal’s show, walking some more to get places. It felt like I was taking a tourist about town and we giggled at the idea. We hit some of our favourite spots in the city, and I realised this is such a pleasant change — VC willing to get out and about and do things in the city. We spent time talking about what the next few months hold for us — me urging him to take things slow, for a change, and him egging me on to push myself, for a change. And I couldn’t help but think, how far we’ve come.

I’d be lying if I downplayed the fact that I am severely excited about VC’s return. In some odd ways it feels like we’ve hit reboot on our relationship. Without knowing it needed work, it somehow got worked on. And the results are only visible now in the palpable freshness that’s in place of the comfortable staidness that I suppose kicks in after you’ve been married for ten years. As I count down the days to living together again, I feel excited like I used to be 12 years ago when we’d plan to hang out and I’d count down the hours to when we’d meet, and he’d show up with the childlike enthusiasm, but the kind of grown-up love he was never too afraid to show. I sense that old VC returning, and this feels like a homecoming in more ways than one.

When it’s time, it’s time. And when you know, you just know.

One year ago: I want to thank you for giving me the best days of my life

Slowly

Rainy Bangalore days abound. It’s been just the right amount of rain for my liking, restricted to early mornings and late nights. Which means it’s been enough to bring temperatures down for the most part, while not causing too much mayhem during the day. I’ve been out and about a fair bit. Walking is so easy when the weather is this good.

 

It’s just the best weather for chai, croissants, evening masala dosas, the odd bonda and the like. And this is the glorious window of Bangalore weather I remember loving from my years growing up here. I’ve written endless paeans in praise of the monsoon and all the associated moods — ranging from contemplative to moody to downright hungry and sometimes nostalgic and romantic — when Iw as growing up. This morning, I woke up to rain and almost didn’t make it to the gym because, well, BLANKET. But go I did, because someone’s got to work out all that monsoon-induced binging. It was just so beautiful outside — post morning shower when everything is fresh and wet, dull gold light, greens are greener, streets are empty and it gave me a burst of enthusiasm that getting out was a good idea. No matter that I spent literally the rest of the day, until 4 pm, back in bed doing some work, reading some.

It’s also been a high action four-day long weekend and with VC in town we were up and about even more than I normally am, so I cancelled today in favour to returning to my normal pace again. Given how slow things have gotten for me, the past four days have felt borderline frenetic and even though I desperately, achingly missed VC immediately after he left at 4 am today, I was happy for the day off to come back to normal again.

Things have been slow with me, and the four days of rushing about really put a spoke in my flow. So it’s nice to be listening in to this degree. It’s nice to have weather that fits. It’s nice to stay in, slowly.

One year ago: What good is it to live, with nothing left to give
Three years ago: Manifesting a dream

Up and about

Last week, starting with the weekend, was so great. Much happened, and yet much of my time was spent at home, all by myself, and in silence. Many epiphanies, a slow churn, and some big shifts. And yet, I just didn’t feel like talking about any of it.

I am wondering if maybe it’s just time to talk less, because I do feel another round of going inward has ensued. I’m trying to go with it. And maybe that’s why I’ve been quiet around here. But I also realised that in some measure I felt shut down from all the news around me. It’s just been a lot to process and make sense of.

I don’t usually stay very clued in on what’s going on in this godawful world and country of ours. I am informed, but I don’t really go into anything at length, or in depth. But with the news about Kashmir flaring up like it did, with the lies in mainstream media, and the possibility of staring more violence in the face, I got drawn in.

The trouble with getting drawn in and having literally nowhere no talk about how I feel — real and present fear at the pseudo-democracy we’re becoming — I have totally withdrawn. I am surrounded by chest-thumping ardent supporters of the current fascist regime, and it is getting increasingly hard to see this happen, as well as air even the slightest word of dissent in my surroundings. In addition to the facts about the horrific turn of events in the news everyday, I am also experiencing mild trauma and feeling let down and abandoned by people around me that I thought have better brains, people I thought to be thinking, rational, humane human beings.

It is a lonely place to be. And this kind of fear and hopelessness makes me shut down, which is what happened to some degree last week, and maybe explains my excessive silence.

***

On Sunday last week, D and I went for walk again. We beat our time from just one week ago, for no apparent reason except I feel like it was just such a good morning. The air was crisp, the clouds grey, with just a hint of the sun shining through. It was followed by a breakfast of idli-vada and a strong hit of coffee, as usual, with the requisite giggles — at ourselves and people around us. I realise these are little habits and rituals that have made some parts of living in Bangalore really come alive and mean something more to me.

I managed to catch the live taping of Kanan Gill’s upcoming Netflix Special called Teetar, that happened in Bangalore last weekend. I am thrilled to be finally witnessing so much live stand up comedy — it’s something I wanted to do for years now, but simply couldn’t access the good stuff in Goa.

The show was funny in parts, but didn’t really come together for me as a whole. I eft feeling only mildly entertained, and also a little old. The average age in the audience being much lower, and seeing as how they were hugely entertained with constant rollicking laughter, I think maybe I’m just too old for some of this shit?

I’ll give credit where it’s due though — Kanan Gill was funny in parts and I think it takes some skill to put an hour long special together and make it to Netflix. It also happened that the entire bro-gang of comedians from Kenny to Abish and Biswa showed up and were seated in the row right behind me, making me thoroughly star-struck for a bit.

***

I’ve been feeling an overwhelming love for this city again. I find it hard to explain. Even as things are visibly falling apart, I find myself enjoying being here, I am so much more at ease and something seems to have just clicked into place.

Maybe it is the idea that this life here will somewhat be complete with VC’s return. And maybe the anticipation of it has helped me settle in just a bit. The living between worlds, great as it was, had left me feeling a bit suspended and ungrounded. I feel roots again, tender baby roots that may go any way they please, but for now are happy to be flirting with the idea of being here. Fully. I simply cannot wait for October.

***

I’m still feeling pretty tentative — there’s a lot going on within me that seems to be taking it’s own sweet time to settle. I am in no rush, and I am also aware of how much I am not trying to figure it out this time. Instead, just letting it be and do its thing.

I just have a hunch that big things are in store, changes are afoot. I feel the stir of that subtle movement that is slowly gathering pace. Like a small gentle lapping patch of water that travels miles before it turns into a gigantic wave.

One year ago: I request another dream
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: finding new comfort in old places

Three years ago: Ele day

Wash-out

Today, a lot happened and I had three different things I wanted to write about. But somehow the day just got ahead of me — errands in the a.m., Netflix and chill in the afternoon and then a long-ass marathon 4 hour study/practice session with D & S. (I’ve gotten so much reading — for the course — and practice in this week, I feel pleased) And then I stepped out for an early dinner with my dad, and came right back to Netflix some more.

Something is happening here. As life seems to be opening up and moving, that old familiar quiet seems to be coming back again.

Perhaps it’s also the weather — grey, dull and constantly rainy. It brings a lethargy with it. Today I even skipped going to the gym. It’s making doing things a tad difficult, encouraging me to stay under the covers in bed, reading or Netflixing, for large parts of the day.

Take, another song to fill in for today’s post. Something I have on repeat a lotttt. Because, this weather.

I guess I’m writing off today as a wash-out, a dud, in terms of writing here.

One year ago: July
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: kinship, quietude and becoming

Content

It’s been a glorious rainy, Bangalore monsoon day. Probably not the best day for it, but I spent the entire day out. And it was good, after a weekend of excessive solitude.

I’m getting more comfortable taking the slightly long route to take the metro wherever possible. Especially on a rainy day like today when I got ghosted by two consecutive Ubers, who had collectively kept me waiting 25 minutes. There’s a sense of liberation in not having to depend on another human being to get anywhere. Though I noticed, to my utter delight today, that all the trains I took were being driven (is that what you do with a train? drive it? suddenly I’m not sure) were women.

It was nice to be out and I realised how much I crave invigorating company and conversations that make me tick. A rare spot of daytime drinking to start the week was not a bad idea either hahaha. S has a way and we have a way together. It was a good idea to start the week this way.

Completely satiated, mind and body, I stepped out to of the restaurant, to get back home, only to find profuse rain. That typical feathery, persistent as hell Bangalore rain that comes down like a gossamer veil that feels like it’s not too much, but stand outdoors and you’ll feel it envelope you completely.

There’s potentially a lot to say today, but I’m just not in the mood for it. I feel strangely quiet and content. So, that’ll be all.

One year ago: Hold on to this feeling, when dreaming of leaving
Two years ago: Book ends

Three years ago: Stack overflow

Birthday love

My father celebrated a birthday today and we marked it with an Asian meal, two chocolate pastries and presents from Anokhi. I suppose it’s a good day when it’s your father’s birthday and you get to take home the gift.

***

I haven’t really opened my laptop in over ten days now. I briefly considered it when I thought I I’d catch up on Big Little Lies only to realise last week’s episode was the season finale — that went by too soon. But OITNB has a new season out and somehow I haven’t been inclined. I haven’t checked my email or posted off my laptop either. I seem to be reaching for my kindle more than j am my laptop or phone and I’m wondering if that’s someone related to the internal containment I’ve been feeling suddenly.

***

It was a quiet and peaceful day. Like every other day this week. And I’m just marvelling at how much things have turned. Sometimes I have to pinch myself — the contrast is that unbelievable.

As I near the end of another week I’m feeling grateful for the love, friendship and camaraderie I took in this week, for the wild displays of affection I recieved, the quiet support and confidence I drew from people around me and for the lessons I’ve learned.

One year ago: If it’s written in the stars, then it can be read
Three years ago: Cycling in the rain

Move

I took the metro to get to town yesterday for a reading date I had with D. It was an impulsive decision I made when my cab was taking longer than anticipated to get to me. So I quickly switched over to an auto to get to the closest station and then made a swift 17 minute, 20 rupee ride to town. A ride that was otherwise going to cost me approximately 100 rupees and about 40 minutes at the very minimum.

It made me so happy to be in a coach full of women, women about town, women getting to or back form work, women with things to do and places to be. And I found myself smiling, thinking I need to do this more often. There’s joy in having this ease and liberation in getting to places unencumbered.

Eventually, the economical efficiency isn’t super promising (for short to medium distances, at least). If I were to get to specifics, the auto ride to the metro station for example, cost more than the entire metro ride. It helped that my destination was across the road from the metro station I got dropped off at, else there’d be another auto ride to account for. However the efficiency in terms of time are really hard to beat. 17 minutes versus 40 minutes — there’s really no doubt which one I should choose more often. Plus there’s the added win from contributing to one less car/cab on the roads. En route to my destination, it was a good time of day and since I was going against rush hour I was able to get to the ladies coach, which was not crowded at all, and even got myself a seat.

On the way back, I tried briefly to get myself a cab or a rick and both had insane waiting times. So I braved the snaking queues entering the metro station and came home just the same way that I went out. This time around the coaches were chock full and I had to hold my breath to fight the mass of melded end-of-day body odour and the fart one unthinking person had let rip.

There’s no denying the tightening up of my stomach and the need to hold my bag close and keep my eyes open and vigilant for the random grope or pinch I cannot predict. Being in such a crowded coach did give me mild anxiety but I looked around at the many women around me, casual comfortable, and breathed easy. Once I switched lines and was on the last leg back home, the coach was so full I actually didn’t even have to walk out, I was simply carried out by the throng that poured out of it. And yet, I was enthused and amazed at how many people do this every single day. No sense of distress, just a surrendering to life as it is happening. It was all kinds of inspiring.

It was such a departure from my life of luxury and the undeniable disconnection it causes from the grit and grim realities of what life asks of so many millions in this city. I seem to only see the difficulties I face, and invariably, on close inspection the pale in comparison to what so many in this city endure day in and out. This past week I’ve taken more than one metro ride and each time it has brought home the need for me to connect and be grounded more.

This was my fourth metro ride in under a week and I have to say the appeal is growing on me. I’m considering making myself a pass as a means to encourage doing this more often. I’ve done it before and every time that I do, I feel the benefits and promise myself to be a frequent metro user when I can. But the issues with last mile transit always makes me choose a shared cab instead. However, it may just be time to push thru some of that resistance.

In Goa this time, I really felt the lack of public transport palpably. It was really beginning to annoy me, that I had to drive 40 kms all by myself to drop and pick VC up from work. As much as I love driving in Goa, and driving in the rain specifically, the sheer inefficiency of doing this from a fuel, carbon-footprint an ecological point of view, and doing it every day for a month, just didn’t sit well with me. Every time that I had to take my car out all by myself for the smallest errands it was beginning to get to me. The brazen lack of any other options at all are something I just can’t get by anymore.

Whenever I travel outside the country, public transport has always been a reason to love a city. Access and ease in this sphere gives me a serious high. I have fallen in love with the most crowded cities just simply because they have a smartly planned public transport system that gives me this sense of movement and ease — a sense that the city is on the peoples’ side. I’ve waited many years for Bangalore to come up to speed. We’re still way behind where we should be, with so much still remaining to be done and so much of what’s done also falling severely short on so many fronts. But I have begun to feel a sense of responsibility for the very things I complain about here — the traffic, the pollution, the chaos and congestion. And so I’ve been feeling like I need to do my bit, just with what’s available and where I am — to just begin, by choosing better means of transport whenever possible.

Did I mention I’m finally beginning to feel at home here?

One year ago: I eat the city as I leave the scene

Reboot

I don’t know if it’s the rush of the days since I got back from Goa or the intense experience I’ve had in class this past weekend, but I feel like it’s been forever since I returned. Goa seems like a distant memory because of how in the motion and flow of things I’ve slipped into here, so quickly. It’s like being settled snug in the thick my life here again. It’s new but it’s also a bit like a distortion of time in my mind’s eye. I can’t seem to tell recent from past.

It usually takes me a few days to slip into the way of life here, when I return from travel. Just the getting out of one routine and settling into another, in the different way that life happens here, takes time.

Similarly, it takes a few days of excessive sleep and fighting exhaustion before I can return to some state of normalcy after a module of study at class.

This time it has been different. I went straight to class quite effortlessly taking cabs and metros and autos, the very next day after I returned. Given how difficult, intensely challenging and emotional this last module has been I was prepared to spend a few days flat in bed.

But it has not happened.

On Saturday when class ended, D, S and I went out to grab a bite and catch up outside of class, to decompress from all that had happened for us. Later, when we split after a few hours I went to meet S and get her views on what was going on with me. It was all kinds of energising, rather than draining which is my usual feeling at the end of three days of intense personal work.

On Sunday, I even managed to wake up early and meet D for a walk at Cubbon Park — our first in months. And yesterday I hit the gym again. It’s been about 20 days of no exercise thanks to the travelling back and forth, a misstimed period and generally feeling so emotionally wrought all I wanted to do was not move and eat all the sugar. That phase has clearly passed because I have been itching to resume ever since I returned. I anticipated my body would need some coaxing before it begins to co-operate, simply because it’s been a while.

But this has not happened. I have bounced back. To regular programming, in the gentlest most surprising way. It happened rather effortlessly.

This morning I realised, my breath that was short and tight, is now deep and full. Yesterday my neck was achy and felt like it needed constant support, to it feels extended and upright, my posture relaxed but strong. My body feels supple, but firm.

There is certainly something about coming home. A sense of slipping back into the flow. With all the up and down to Goa and back these last eight months, this time around I returned wanting to stay put for a while. I was beginning to feel like a plastic bag in the wind, and my body was craving some stability.

Stability in this city? An older me might have laughed hard. And possibly chided me so much and kept me from dropping roots and finding the stability I need. But something special seems to have happened.

As I drove to two different corners of Bangalore on Sunday, through pouring rain and mad traffic, I felt that deep sense of having found a home. The city is snarling, it’s falling apart in more ways than I care to count, it’s madenning with the constant rush and the sheer unbelievable number of assholes out on the streets. The trees are disappearing, temperatures are rising. Nothing is reliable, rules don’t exist and anarchy rules loose, people are aggressive, undependable and empathy is mostly dead.

And yet, in that moment I felt completely at ease and at home. Bangalore with its afternoon showers, orange light and rare spots with full tree cover.

This is certainly new.

One year ago: There’s glitter on the floor after the party

Two things

1) Took an auto to class this morning, and it came with a super-cute prop, pre-installed.

Smol person in big shorts, with big, bright eyes and little teardrop dangly earrings to boot, sitting as far away from me as possible, plastered to the edge of the seat, holding on to the rail with complete faith.

There was something so soft and tender about sharing that auto ride with this little person (who came with no explanations) this morning.

I’ve been feeling a slow but certain softening up from the wound-up, high-stress state that I have been in the past many weeks. Every day, a little something shifts. I experienced it in the openness of a post-rain sky, in the the grounding of routine, in a full day’s rain and a day that went pleasantly out of control.

Today, this moment of tenderness was a game-changer. It set me up for a day of much more softening, of loosening my grip, of letting my breath out, of relaxing a little.

Much like a child who has found a safe space again.

***

2) Today has given me several resounding reminders about the place and need for more surrender in my life. This is something I have encountered in various degrees of intensity many times before, and I’m so aware it is not something I can accomplish, tick off the list and move on.

The message came back to me today. Loud and clear. To surrender. To everything, with a real, felt, internal sense of everything being exactly the way it should be. This is of course much easier said than done, but with every consecutive revolution that I make of this abstract concept that draws me back from time to time, I feel I know it just that little bit better, and I see something new about how and what to surrender to, emerge for me.

This time around it is an ask to step up. To open my heart out. To believe in myself. To take a leap of faith.

And for a change, unlike most other times, this time somewhere deep within me, is a tiny voice saying, you can do this, you’ve got this.

One year ago: If you, if you could return
Three years ago: Gym rant

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

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