All my worries seemed so far away

I drove a total of 109 kms yesterday. Which is not to say I went anywhere really far away. Just the usual routes dropping and picking VC up, with the visit to the cafe and a couple of drives to my sister’s place and back, and an evening spent at the concluding showing of art work for her children’s monsoon workshop.

Driving around in the rain gives me seriously unfounded levels of joy, so a day that involved that much peacefuk driving, while the rain lashed down, was kind of a given.

But it was also a fine lesson in the art of letting well laid plans crumble away haplessly while life emerges as it should, and simply going with it.

I was a tad stressed about finishing packing and winding up ahead of time, and the only purpose that slight stress served was to ensure I finished it so well ahead of time, that I had a day that suddenly opened up the way it did.

I had been feeling a bit like even though Niyu, VC and I have spent nearly the whole month together, with the stresses of the health emergency, the travelling back and forth to Bangalore and back, and VC and Niyu coming down with the flu back to back, we didn’t really spend too much time together, doing the things we would otherwise do. The last four weeks have been tenuous, and the stressful energy has petered into every step we have taken, weighing us down and making me feel like a shrunken version of myself, almost. I haven’t had the will to do much. And even though my head has felt the longing, my heart hasn’t responded. I know it’s been the same for VC and perhaps Niyu too.

So it was great that I got a surprise day like yesterday, when coincidentally, the rain came down as hard as it did, but something in the air around us lifted. My spirits perked up, I felt energetic and willing to venture out and off we went. Brunch was had at the cafe, followed by a spot of lazing at home in the afternoon before we took off for Niyus showing which was a delight for me to witness.

I don’t often get to see my sister at work, at close quarters, but when I do, like I did yesterday it always overwhelms me to see how much she’s put together for herself, how far she’s brought this little homegrown venture full of heart, from where she began and how much the work she does means and touches the hearts of little children. Yesterday was one such day. The setting, in what was easily a 100+ year old Portuguese villa unfancily maintained with sparse furniture and plenty of skylight, was just perfect. I helped her set up the showing and we waited for the kids to arrive with their folks.

Once that was done the plan was to head home and cook some dinner and eat in peace, together. But we let that plan slide and be dashed too, to make space for the spontaneous rain-induced urge to eat gopi-manjuree. And so we went to an old favourite neighbourhood dive, sat under a tin roof that rattled relentlessly under the incessant rain, nursing whiskey-paanis and gobi munchurian.

In the midst of all of that, we chatted and gossipped and I broke into a laughing fit like I haven’t in weeks now. In fact I don’t remember the last time I laughed that hard — a big, loud, rolling, full-bellied laugh that came from the depths of my being and shook me to the very tips of my fingers. And while Niyu admitted that it was in that moment that she realised she was fit over her illness, it was in that moment that I realised my own heaviness had lifted in some measure.

I really needed that kind of loosely spooling, unplanned day to go with the wind (or the rain) just as I pleased. I really needed this cocoon with VC and Niyu. I really needed to get out.

I’m not sure if it’s some kind of cruel irony or just a strange kind of perfection that my last day in Goa was the best day I’ve had all month. Whatever it is, I’ll take it. With both arms.

One year ago: My moves are slow but soon they’ll know

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Second chances

It’s my last day in Goa, for this trip and probably the last for this monsoon. We’ve received a storm alert with unprecedented rains expected over the next 24 hours. It means I will miss the last gush of the rain, but worse, I’ll probably have a really turbulent flight back home tomorrow.

It was meant to be a day spent at home, spent packing and sorting things out in the kitchen. On past trips, somehow this last few days has always been hurried and the last day especially so, scrambling to get all the last minute things done in time. I usually empty out the kitchen of most perishables that I bring in when I’m here, that VC doesn’t use often enough, and instead stock it up with dry stuff that has a longer shelf life that he can use on his own time. I sometimes set a whole bunch of meat in an assortment of marinades in small portions and freeze it all up for him to use over the next week to ten days, and I’ve been making a large batch of upma mix that he can use cook in small quantities to when he wants something quick and homely. This usually keeps him going for at least ten odd days, which is better than going back to restaurant take out from the instant I’ve left the building.

It doesn’t seem like a lot by itself, but with the grocery runs and the prep, it’s more than just a simple list of things. I’ve been hassled cramming it all in the last 24 hours the last few trips, so this time around I gave myself two days to do it all. And I finished ahead of time.

So this morning, I traded the plan to stay in with stepping out to spend a couple of hours at a cafe not far from home.

Reading some more while the rain kept pounding down, babbling toddlers running amok, strange hostile dogs eyeing my croissant and averting my eye from far too many people I know. It seems even in distant corners of Goa, driving to the edges of villages to find tucked away cafes for retreat, I’ll somehow find people I know from another lifetime in Goa. Three out of four occupied tables had people I know in some degree of familiarity and I’m wondering what all of this means to me in my last day here.

I’ve packed away my stuff, leaving behind the staples as I usually do, for my next trip here. But if my hunch is to be believed it’s not going to be for some time now, and when I come back it’ll probably be to pack and take the half of my life and heart that resides here, to complete this half-life existence I’ve been living away from here.

Life has a strange way of making sense in retrospect and from where I am, looking back, the last year or so has been such a ride. I feel lucky for this brush with the best of both worlds and a chance to settle so many unfinished memories and rest so much that was left unsaid and unaddressed in the time and the way that I left Goa in 2017.

Life really does give one second chances. It just takes a certain openness to seeing and taking them that can make all the difference, as I have experienced this past couple of years.

One year ago: Dont worry about, don’t speak of doubt

On and on and on

The skies cleared up ever so slightly today. So we took a walk through some fields in our backyard/neighborhood, this evening.

I came home recharged and surprised at how little it takes, just 20 minutes, being out in the open and breathing clean air, to stop obsessing on-loop about current worries that really just pale in comparison, when you witness something as monument as the dependable setting of the sun, the inevitable rising of the moon, and the religious shutting up of touch-me-not leaves, that always happen right on time, no matter what.

The world just spins on, constantly casually doing wonderful things that I completely take for granted because I can’t stop obsessing over my piddly little life with the even more piddly woes in my piddly little head.

The walk filled my lungs up and gave me perspective today.

One year ago: I got a feeling I’m not the only one
Three years ago: I’ll be fine, sipping wine, taking time slow

Home base

I simply cannot overstate the wonderous effects that a done-to-death routine, based entirely in ordinary homely acts, does to make me feel grounded.

Today has been an utterly mundane day, borne out of complete and basic necessity. It’s been a good, steadying day and very early on, plodding through, I realised how easily pleased days like this make me feel.

I drove to Panjim and back this morning, cooked Niyu some upma for breakfast, had myself a simple smoothie and spent the morning catching up with the Internet that I have ignored for about a week now. I finished up reading one of the books recommended for class, before we meet again next week. And then I napped, waking up in time to cook — broccoli soup, salad and garlic toasts for dinner — and pick VC up from work.

It’s rained for the most part, that deeply soothing hum of rainfall that’s become a refrain in the background, now feeling almost meditative. And when it wasn’t raining, it’s been overcast with just that little leak of light.

There is something to be said of this minimalistic life I tend to have when I’m here, in this way and in this stage, in this home that we’ve specifically made, bare bones, stripped down and inward focused.

One year ago: Is someone getting the best of you?
Three years ago: What happens when you go cycling in the rain

Retrospect

Hi once again, from absolutely rainy, drippy, beautiful Goa.

I sense this back and forth life split between Goa and Bangalore slowly nearing its end (or at least reducing in pace and frequency of going between the two states) and the return to Goa this time around has come with an intense desire spend the next week really soaking it up.

Something really did lift for me yesterday, confirming my hunch that I’m experiencing an internal shift that is beyond my own comprehension and certainly not decipherable through words and overthinking.

***

A lot of my disorientation and struggle of the weeks past have been compounded by the some shame and self-hate that I have been directing at myself. I realised last week, yet again, how easily I forget to be kind and compassionate to myself, post-therapy. There is so much healing that happens in just meeting whatever comes up — the old wounds, the hitherto untouched grief, the completely unexpected discovery of an inner child pock-marked with memories of being worried, confused, brave and compelled to be put-together — with kindness. It’s the first step to acceptance, and then integration, and really, without that does this journey even get anywhere?

N has been pushing me, harder than ever before, to stay with the internal distress that is so quick to bubble over, when I am faced with the difficulties of my inner child. It is extremely difficult territory for me to navigate because I still doubt my capacity to be there for her. For me.

I’m only getting very slightly better with every interaction that I have, but I think the more I learn to meet her with kindness, the better this will get.

For now though, there is probably going to be a lot more disorientation. From facing so many unknown truths about that inner child for the very first time, from learning to stay with the distress, from owning and meeting the grief and sadness of it all, from fighting the urge to turn around and bolt from it all.

Most of all though, I’m learning to go easier still on myself. To remind myself that there is no fixed end goal, and no milestones that I have to hit. That there will be times when I feel like I have taken three steps back, instead of forward. To keep the disappointment at bay, and drop the need to “perform” and do this well. It sounds like a lot, and it overwhelms me in times of distress, but when the fog has lifted it soon becomes apparent that all I really need to do is be kind to all parts of myself — inner, outer, child and adult — alike. To face myself with the same empathy I extend to others. To be patient and gentle, to see myself, and to be there for myself.

***

I’m happy to be in Goa, with its bizarre golden evening monsoon light, with this new relaxed state of mind. In the peace of just today spend in Goa, I realised I need to bring back some stillness in my life, some mindfulness or grounding practices that help me stay in the moment, rather than in my head where things get sometimes unnecessarily complicated.

I need to get back to a routine of slowness and taking time out for myself. Being in Goa sets that pace for me. It means I can let it all go, chill for a few days and make a plan for setting myself up back to the bustle of life in Bangalore.

One year ago: If everything could ever be this real forever
Two years ago: Perfect love
Three years ago: Barely moving

Pause

Yesterday was a fairly sunny day with just bursts of downpour intermittently punctuated by bursts of bright sunshine but as I drove to Inox in the evening, it began to come down. It made me severely nostalgic for the days when J, S, R, VC and I would make impromptu movie plans to entertain ourselves in the monsoon when everything else would be shut and inaccessible. We’ve watched a shit ton of terrible movies as a last resort, invariably thinking of it with just under ten minutes to show time, as a last ditch attempt to entertain ourselves in dreary days that felt like they were slipping away. I thought about the countless times we’ve rushed to Inox, ten minutes away, running from the parking lot to the multiplex huddled under shared umbrellas and entering the movie hall slightly damp, but spirits sprightly and excited.

There was something really sweet in the simplicity and utter basic truth about having just one multiplex to go to and wondering on rainy days if there’d actually even be a minimum of five people for the show to actually run. Sometimes we’d gather ourselves in groups of five or more just to make sure we hit the target. I felt nostalgic for that simple, unadorned Goa that I had the privilege of knowing so intimately.

Anyhow, as I watched the rain come down and we fished our umbrellas out to get to Inox, I felt my plans to catch the Friday Market at Mapusa wash away. Also Article 15 while an important film about an important issue, stopped just short of really working for me because of some inherent (inescapably Desi) flaws, premier amongst which was length. It ran just too long for my liking, which meant it was well past midnight when I got home.

All this to say, my morning today was not as smooth as I’d have liked. I woke up late, and that set my schedule off. I mostly spend my days doing nothing of grave importance but my morning routine has come to be kind of sacrosanct and unexpected changes potentially throw my day off. I no longer like to just casually skip my workout, and I like to get it done as early as possible. This usually gets first priority. Today there was also some omelette sandwiches to be made for VC to take to work, and getting ready in time to leave with VC to get him to work so I can take the car to the Friday market added to the mix. It already felt like a gargantuan ask even before I’d begun.

I wrestled with it for five minutes in my head, there’s an undercurrent of the lets-do-it-all energy just waiting for an outlet to surface, any time she can. But I’m better in curbing this type A side of me now so it wasn’t long before I decided I to prioritise my workout and make VCs lunch. I ditched the plan to go out and instead VC went off to work on his own.

Today was looking like a day to stay in. The weather agreed, vehemently and it has been pissing down with a vengeance pretty much all day. There is not a single cloud to be seen. The sky a vast mass of grey streaked with darker shades of more grey which shifted and changed as they passed, like a watercolour on blotted paper, waiting to take form.

It has since been a day of silence with nothing but the rain for company. I did some reading (not the reading for learning I need to, but reading for fun), I realised I had two episodes of Big Little Lies to catch up on, so there was that. A nap that was interrupted by the early return or VC with Niyu in tow. VC who went for a meeting and didn’t think it was fun to drive back to work and back home again in the pouring rain, and Niyu who also incidentally cancelled her evening class today.

I seem to be having a string of days like this. Even when I try and make plans to get out and “be productive” things happen that make me change plans, or halt and defer them altogether. Many times it makes me contend with the parts of me that still attach value and self worth to productivity of a certain kind.

Today is what I’d really call a clear and present wash out day. Necessary autumns of our lives, times for essential pause, whether we know and acknowledge or are present to it or not. I’ve had many thoughts about productivity, success, a life well-lived and the like in the last few weeks, some of which may make it to a post in the coming future.

It’s grey out, still. We’ve just had cups of tea and Iyengar bakery biscuits I brought from Bangalore. And I pulled out the stops and indulged in my other Goa staple — peanut butter toast, with a drizzle of honey today. We’ve got our noses in our respective laptops, each doing things that need to be done. It’s a picture of silent companionship, of pause itself.

As soon as this post is done I’m going to cook us dinner, Thai Curry which has become a Goa staple for me now.

Tomorrow will be a new day.

One year ago: You’ll be a good listener, you’ll be honest, you’ll be brave
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: light and life

Three years ago: June

Pure love

Staying in and all is fine, but how long did you think I’d go before this happened?

I love the frenzy with which O and L greet us, every. single. time. like it’s the first time after a loooong time. Like a reuniting of long-lost friends. L with his hyper-energetic bouncing off any piece of furniture and launching himself at you, and O with her very precise and targeted attempts to torpedo herself from her very low ground clearance to reach high and plant a kiss on your mouth.

It’s really the best, most heartfelt and enjoyable welcome I’ve ever received and it gives me life when I see them do it loyally. every. single. time. like it’s the first time after a loooong time.

I’ve been thinking so much about pure emotions. Especially, love and the level of dropping self-consciousness that it requires. And I realised yesterday that in these aspects, puppers are hyper-evolved. They’re way ahead of the curve, and certainly well ahead of us humans when it comes to showing their emotions in a pure, simple and utterly honest way.

It’s safe to say these three puppies have made a place in my heart like no other. They’re probably the first and last puppies to ever find their way so deep in there. I haven’t taken to any dogs like this before. Their presence, and seeing them every time I visit D, truly fills me up on the inside.

One year ago: Werk,werk,werk,werk
Three years ago: One foot in front of another, babe

Stay in

Okay it’s coming down good and proper now. Finally, that sound of incessant rain is here and what a thrill it is. Finally there is the undried laundry woes and general dampness in the air. Finally, it’s beginning to feel a lot like the proper monsoon I came here for.

Nothing signals this season like damp clothes for me. And this time, even with two balconies and one terrace, we still don’t have enough dry space for the laundry. What the terrace and  balcony, both adjacent to each other and both with big windows, are good for, is the wide open view of the incoming ominous black clouds as they roll and rush in before every down pour. It’s amazing how the landscape in these parts is so different from the urban parts we lived in before.

It’s mostly a time for staying in. Like a natural, seasonal shift that begs nothing else but the quiet of staying within, not just physically, but otherwise too. It feels like a time for hibernation of sorts. Everything around is bursting forth with life, the greens are popping, the constant gush of water is nourishing, and that vein of loneliness that felt embedded within me, lifts. My spirit feels quenched.

I’ve had no inclination to look at my laptop since I got here. Such a departure from my last trip when all I did was binge watch multiple things right through the day. I’ve instead been occupied around the house. I tended to my plants for a good while yesterday and then spent the rest of the day sorting the home straight because VCs help has been AWOL for over 10 days. I cleaned out the fridge and cooked myself lunch, and Niyu came over.

In the evening I went to the Panjim market to stock up on veggies. Always such a delight these fresh produce markets, but even more so the one I am so familiar with.

This time around I foresee a lot of driving up and down, especially between Panjim and home because VC and I are going to have to share the car to beat the rain and get places. I can’t seem to remember how we managed this in the monsoons past, but I certainly don’t remember dropping him to work and picking him uo everyday like I think I’m going to have to do this time around.

But it’s been good so far. If there’s one thing I love more than the rains in Goa, it’s driving around in the rains in Goa, listening to music and generally spending that time by myself. Earlier, I’d find reasons and excuses to drive out, hit the highway and get the music up loud. Now, with where we live, I don’t have to try so hard hahaha.

I’ve got some “studying” to do, an essay to submit and an intimidatingly long reading list for the course to get started with. This would have been the perfect getaway to get all that done. But somehow, I’m reading again. And I already can’t seem to get enough of the Kindle, the quiet, the solitude and the rain.

One year ago: June

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

The rain

Hi, from Goa, where I have arrived to not enough rain. But only just enough to inspire some Vada pav cravings as soon as I landed.

Right from the airport, I headed off to VCs office to catch up with him and head home together. Today was one of those ultra efficient days with everything operating ahead of time, from the moment I left home in Bangalore. So I got there much earlier than anticipated. In order to kl some time, I dragged my suitcase and two handbags down, two streets away, in the drizzle to Cafe Aram because the settings were just right.

The gentlest drizzle, a sniffle in my nose, a I peaceful journey, and lunch six hours ago. I ducked into the buzzing tea room. Fond memories of my last cuppa chai had there the day before welved from Goa wafting back to my mind.

The tables are snug, a little too snug for comfort. And of course one also sits where there’s place, sharing humble eating space with just about anybody. Often, this results in staring into other people’s plates as one waits for food to arrive, from no apparent reason except that, it’s there, so close.

Few things kindle nostalgia and fondness, a sense of home, as speedily as food. So as soon as my vada pav and chai had arrived and I took a bite of it, immediately I felt at home. Despite the fact that I looked visibly like an outsider. With just the way I look, and strolley in tow.

There is something about a tea room at 6 pm on the heart of Panjim. The vibe just brings you back to ground reality.

It was such a good way to begin. To come back home.

Outside, the rain began to fall harder and noisily.

One year ago: I choose to be happy
Two years ago: I need to sit with the quiet, I know that much

Three years ago: The rain, the rain

Rain

I was hoping to catch the first of the monsoon showers in Goa before I left. But that was not to be. Even though every morning for the last many weeks the skies have been overcast, clouds casting gentle shadows over us and thereby tempering the effects of what is otherwise a punishing summer, it was not meant to be. If reading skies is anything to go by, one would have been so sure the rains would have made landfall around now just a whisker ahead of what is typical.

All I got was tantalising greys, heavy clouds hanging around and just passing by, a hope that rain is on the way. But not quite.

So much teasing, that this was the sky at 4pm last evening as I drove back home. It drove home the point about perfection in timing for me. So I chuckled to myself and promised to be back in time to catch the rain. The full flourish of it mid-season if not the baby beginnings.

This morning however, I woke up at 4 am to the pleasantest breeze. And when we drove out to the airport, as the sun was cracking up the doors and making a reluctant appearance, I realised the roads were wet. All the way thru. We raced over puddles and the smell of just rained on earth was potent.

I didn’t really get exactly what I wanted, but what I did was lovely. And it was a good way to say goodbye for now.

One year ago: We ain’t perfect but we worth the pictures still
Three years ago: Rumination without a title

I’m ready

Today is my last day in Goa. This has been like a proper summer vacation of yore — when regular programming was interrupted, annually, to make space for a total and complete state of relaxation. That’s what the last two months have been like. Waking up easy, getting my workout in, pottering about the terrace garden, settling in to stress my eyeballs out with excessive screen time, napping whenever necessary, chilling all day basically, rising only to cook dinner, eating early and turning in by 8.30 pm on most nights and getting back to TV — most days in a nutshell.

Ever since I fired this client, I’ve been out of steady retainer-based work. Being here in Goa already in a holiday state of mind I decided not to begin hustling for other/new work immediately. I have instead watched copious, and I mean some seriously colossal, amounts of all kinds of TV. Netflix and the works, TV shows, movies, and a shit ton of YouTube — binging on entire channels and playlists mostly in the food, fitness and gardening departments. It’s been so excessive, I haven’t ever abused my eyes this bad, so bad that I’m going to go get my eyes tested as soon as I’m back because, let’s just say I’m beginning to feel the effects of it. Some days I may have done some writing, very little reading, but mostly I’ve done nothing of real consequence aside from the bare minimum. Spending a majority of this time all alone has also meant something to me. Once VC gets home in the evening, we chill, chat, eat and retire.

Serendipitously discovered these pictures undoubtedly taken during summer vacations, just as I was packing today.

It’s been just right in the most simplistic sort of way. We managed to eat at all my favourite places that I had shortlisted to a pithy bunch. But I’m actually happy about how much we ate at home, how willing and enthu I’ve felt about cooking, and how often VC managed to take leftovers to work the next day.

Those were home days, which was a bulk of the trip. I also spent many days with D, and we did a bunch of things that really brightened up my stay here. The pups of course, they bring so much joy. And I feel hanging out with them always does me so much good. So there was that. I hung out with A several times, eating meals with her and the family, and we had D and UT home for dinner one night and VC’s work folks home or a barbecue night, but aside from that there has been little socialising.

What there has been is solid days — and entire weekends — at the beach, but the highlight of my stay is all the time we got to spend at home, with each other. The quiet, deliberately mundane life that isn’t numbing or distracting from anything with a hectic busyness. We’ve had a lot of conversation and discussions this time around, a development for VC haha!

This is life, externally, though. Mosrly a time of stillness and near-nothingness. Internally though, a lot has happened and this trip has given me so much to be grateful for, so much to ponder, so much to hold close. If you’ve been reading this blog for the last two months, you might have an idea.

Sometime last week though the bliss of all this relaxation turned to sloth and really got to me. I haven’t had this sort of an extended time of doing absolutely nothing, probably ever. There is only that much not doing anything a girl can take, and since I am not so interested in random wandering around to places to eat and drink at the moment I haven’t really entertained myself around here like I might otherwise have. So I was bored and I began counting the days down to returning to Bangalore — a first for me!

Perfectly timed like a summer vacation, I’m headed back tomorrow like I used to in the days of yore. Pre-June days in a coastal place, when the heat is wilting and the promise of rain lingers in the air. There’s a slight dullness about fun-times ending, but a gentle excitement bubbling under about new beginnings. Like a new term at school, a pair of fresh shoes waiting to be polished, crisp new notebooks waiting to be cracked open.

It’s been a good time to reboot, hit refresh. It might seem odd to say I’ve gained a lot from this seemingly mundane routine of nothing really, and I’m leaving feeling fuller and richer from it, somehow. I can’t put it in words really, to explain how emptiness can feel fulfilling, but that’s just what this summer has been like.

Yesterday I realised I was in Thailand at this time last year, and felt mildly soppy that we didn’t get a summer holiday this year, until I realised very quickly that a summer holiday is exactly what I got. Right here at home.

June in Bangalore has some schoolish new beginnings for me — level 2 of the course I did last year commences. I am delighted to be going back to my other home and I’m looking forward to so many things including an extended wardrobe that is more than shorts and tees, full meals a la amma, South Indian food, running and my gym, hanging out with S and A, Sunday walking ritual with D, hanging out with my family. Okay I could just go on and on and on. I didn’t think a day when I’d be excited to return from Goa to Bangalore would ever happen, but here we are and the odds stack up nice and high, it seems.

I’m ready!

One year ago: How fragile we are
Three years ago: Monday this week

Happy bytes

The instructor on my workout video has this refrain whenever the workout hits a particularly tough or burn-inducing spot. Right when I’m wincing at that last rep, about to give up, he’ll go Just go to your happy place! and two months ago when I began using this channel, I’d chuckle, roll my eyes and have a giggle at his morbid sense of humor.

This morning though, right in the middle of all that burn, something like 45 burpees in, when he said Just go to your happy place! I suddenly got it. Even in that eye-popping, muscle-stretching moment, while I was melting nose-first, when I could have been seeing white spots in front of my eyes, I had such an endorphin rush I burst out laughing. In a truly happy, full-body guffaw of sorts.

I’m so happy that I’m back in this old familiar zone, even though I feel like a whole new me this time around. Where the exercise isn’t a pain or a chore (like it had become through 2017-18), and is in fact a joy-inducing, happy-making activity I am willing to put other things aside for, dedicating myself mind, body and soul.

***

Speaking of happy places, it’s been five years since P and I made the Goa Happy video, our little contribution to the literally thousands of local spin-offs to the Pharrell Williams song that took the internet by storm in 2014. So I revisited it!

If you watch closely you might even spot me hahahaha.

***

I spent the weekend with D, because VC went away on a bike trip with work buddies to Gokarna. I think after food, therapy and tarot, the thing we’ve started to discuss the most is plants and gardening, and as usual (as always — I realised I’ve always left her home with plants or cuttings or both, on this trip) I came home with so many new things to pot.

I came away earlier than I usually would have. Ostensibly to catch a Sunday nap, wake up in my own home so I have the mojo to cook and settle back in, rather than be washed out by Sunday evening blues as it tends to happen to me.

What followed though made me want to stop and think, What Sunday blues?! because I woke up from my nap and went straight out into the terrace. I planted a whole bunch of fresh cuttings of plants I wanted that she’d painstakingly made for me, I repotted some plants that have grown too big for their pots over these few weeks, and I did sundry round of tending to everything, picking out dead leaves, watering, loosening soil and the works. All this while listening to Coke Studio that has made a timely pre-monsoon comeback in my life, right on cue.

The evening light was beautiful, and we’ve had a warmer couple of days so there was the residual heat of the day, as the sun is getting the full effect of the last of it’s rays in. My terrace was strewn with picked weeds, dry leaves, piles and trails of soil from all the dirty work, pools of water, muddy footprints. The sun set in a glorious pink yesterday, and when I looked up I was a sweaty, muddy mess. Such a joy. Such bliss. I didn’t realise I had kept going long after the sun had set, until VC walked in and laughed at how engrossed I had been.

***

Last weekend I cooked pork ribs for the very first time on my own. Following no recipe, winging it as I went along, throwing things in intuitively. And it turned out beyond delicious, if I can say so myself.

This has been happening a lot of late. The draw to go experiment, without too much planning, going in and going all the way. Some days are for the simply comforting givens like khichdi, and some days we pull out all stops and go the whole hog.

Either way, the kitchen has been a huge source of comfort for me these past few weeks. I’ve said so much about the peace and quiet and solitude staying in Goa offers me. And as much as I have enjoyed it, last week I realised I am ready for the hustle of my Bangalore life again. But this kitchen joy, the steadiness and joy that it brings to me, is something I want to try and keep going in Bangalore. Even if I am cooking in Amma’s kitchen, or even if I’m cooking for just myself at home.

Today, I’ve just cooked a marinara sauce, fortified with minced carrots and smashed stove-top charred red and yellow peppers, with smoky cumin and coriander and lots of red chilli flakes. I tossed up some frozen meatballs in some olive oil, and I will put them together right before we eat, mopping it up with millets and a salad.

***

After the bursts of those quintessential curly edged long green leaved mango trees, delicate frangipani and bougainvillea, we’re at that time of year where the gulmohar trees have come alive in all their glory. Literally everywhere, there are these clouds of fiery red, leaf-less trees, curvy and orb like when seen from a distance, eye-hurting flaming red when seen up close.

***

I’m all set to go back to Bangalore. I feel like this time of rest has been amazing, and well-timed and I am so refreshed and ready to get back to regular programming. I’m excited at the blank canvas sense I have for the next few weeks, and I feel certain I need to be in Bangalore as it unfurls.

Looking back, I’m so happy for the unexpected twist that brought me to Goa earlier than time, and kind of set a very different tone to the way the last two months have gone. It was unpleasant and challenging at the time and induced a fair bit of anger, frustration and resistance within me at the time, but as usual, as always, I can only connect the dots looking back.

It’s abundantly clear to me that there was no escaping this time, or the gifts it has brought, foremost amongst which has been the quality of the time VC and I have had together this trip. It’s been different. There was a quiet, reassuring and steady quality to it that hasn’t been there for a while — probably ever since we moved to Bangalore two years ago — that I didn’t know was missing until we somehow have regained it while not even looking for it. And so while I am looking forward to going back to Bangalore, this time around I am already feeling the pangs of missing him that I am anticipating will follow.

This is new. I have been so busy and involved with myself for the last six months, there hasn’t been a lot of room to sit and miss him really. I’ve been having a really good time in Bangalore, too much to let the usual longing dampen it. So this is going to be interesting.

Three years ago: Malleswaram market things

Better

Some days are heavy. Especially after particularly investigative therapy sessions that come like a bolt out of the blue, squashing my optimism about maybe finally being able to go longer without a session, reminding me how much I need to heal still.

Monday was that kind of day and it took till yesterday evening to lift. When it did, in that instant, I knew something had flipped internally. I woke up from lying in bed yesterday afternoon, and from the moment my feet landed on the ground and the way I stood up, I felt something had changed. The cloud had flown by, the heaviness had done it’s time and left the building.

A lot happens in that time of heaviness. A time I have now learned to just let be. I don’t fight it as much these days. I am quick to recognise it to begin with, no longer mistaking it for random blues or anything else. And I give in and go with the flow. Allowing myself slow days if that’s what I feel is the need of the hour. Actually allowing myself whatever else is needed in that time. On Monday night it as chocolate chunk cookies, eaten without sharing, in bed while watching Mission Impossible.

It’s been six weeks of slow days for me here in Goa. And yesterday I began to feel the time for that too has passed. It has played it’s part, served a much needed purpose and yesterday as the cloud lifted, I felt a distinct feeling that it is time to move. What felt serendipitous and right for the most part, and gave me so much needed time (and boredom, even) now feels done.

In the sprightly energy I suddenly felt there was just one thing I wanted and needed to do. Cook myself a hearty, wholesome meal. Not eliminating the carbs, not eliminating the dairy, not eliminating the fried crispies.

So khichdi it was. This was my heavy days ending. Right here in a single bowl. Eaten all alone, fresh out of the cooker at 6.30 pm even before the sun had set.

Some days are heavy. Then there are some days that feel like simple perfection. And the difference between the two is sometimes just a bowl of humble khichdi.

One year ago: Waiting here to find the sign that I should take it slow
Three years ago: Who do I think I am?

Renewed relationships

It’s easy to get that comfortable in a relationship that we feel we have each other all figured out. And maybe we do, to a large extent.

If there’s one thing spending these past 6 weeks in Goa with VC has shown me, it is how refreshing it to also allow for growth, evolution and surprises from your significant other. I’ve been so consumed in my own growth, so much so that I had to physically remove myself from our partnered life and live separately, that I may have forgotten that the space and time apart could have done him wonders too.

In our eleventh year of being married, and almost thirteenth of being together, I’m surprised, humbled and so grateful that there is room for freshness, still. For surprises, for new developments, for renewed excitement, and the possibility of uncharted territory opening up once again.

I did not see this coming. But somehow, here we are.

There’s a lot of surprises that came from this trip. All totally unexpected, some very wild, but I think this has been my favourite surprise of them all.

One year ago: April