Old-new Instagram vibes

At the start of the year, I resurrected my old Instagram account from yonks ago, after a three years hiatus (during which I really looked down upon and curled my nose up at the idea of Instagram itself).

I’d say I’ve come full circle. And with good reason — the stuff I’ve saved for my written journal hahaha. I was spurred by the sense of having turning yet another corner, enjoying this new feeling of wholeness and being present in my being in this point in time, palpably shedding the need to hide parts of myself that I have so far, and wanting to just separate my work and life/word sharing a bit.

And so I’m back. But I wanted it to be new. So I archived the entirety of my old feed, and what an exercise it was. Scrolling back over 2k pictures, all the way back to 2012, when I first got on the platform.

It was like turning the pages of a life of an entirely different person. Fascinating and wonderous, the things I have done, the thoughts I have had, the stuff I have shared. It brought back vivid memories of events and experiences, many that are slowly receding and could have done with a jog back of this kind.

There were so many good memories! So many, many good times. Because let’s face it, I only shared the good times hahahaha.

In the past I found all the lightheartedness and play that I have longed for in the last few years of my life. And I felt a kindred spirit for the person I am today, once again sparking this facet of myself.

But it was painful seeing many of the pictures because it brought back equally vivid memories of experiences, events, holidays, meals, and so much more, shared with people no longer in my life. It felt like brief frames with a limited shelf life, snapshots of a time when I was blissfully unaware of who I was and who these poeople would eventually be to me. I truly believed — and this was so apparent in my words — that they were my people. It hurt to once again recollect how wrong I was. And how easily and badly I wanted to believe that.

I took some really really shit pictures. Both in terms of the complete lack of aesthetics, but also in terms of what was being photographed. AND WHY???

For many years in the beginning, I took some really shit pictures. Aesthetically terrible, but also shit in terms of content. Pictures that really needed no sharing. Pictures that possibly didn’t ever need to be taken. Reams of pictures that I looked at and went “why?

Later, especially in the last two years before I quit, when I started to really get into the aesthetic of picture taking/memory making itself, I took some really good pictures. Content-wise, still questionable, but at least they were beautiful pictures to see.

I consistently and continually wrote some seeeriously dorky captions. I probably thought I was really funny (and maybe some of it was, at the time), but from where I am today, I had an ache in my heart thinking of the person I was. There was a serious amount of posturing, and trying hard to be the person I was on Instagram I think what began as an accidental projection, continued into a moulding a convenient facade, and an active effort to maintain that image. Cool, casual, non-chalant. No matter that the reality of my life, especially the last 2-3 years before I left, was rife with upheaval that was far from cool, casual and non-chalant.

I felt a bit gob-smacked to see this in myself. It is something I was oblivious to back then, and have only known in varying degrees over the last three years since quitting Instagram. Yet, nothing made it hit home like revisiting my feed did.

That hurt. It’s an odd feeling, this. Hurting for an old version of yourself. In a way, there is so much distance and movement ahead, it feels like a faraway ghost of myself that I actually can’t relate to anymore. There is disbelief. But there is also an inherant connection, and almost a longing to quickly go back in time and soothe myself. The knowing of all that was going on in my life then is alive. And there is familiarity mixed up even in the distance and the disonance that the passage of time   creates.

***

I also massively, and I mean massively, culled my follow and follower list. So, some other observations and thoughts I had along the way:

Those who were voyeurs then, are voyeurs even now haha. I am personally very bored with that kind of Instagram that I was into back then. Looking at the lives of people. I have gradually growing bored in that format over the years, especially peeking into the lives of strangers who remain figments pieced together from a collection of pixels and our perceptions, but it has probably peaked and turned into an abject disinterest. There are a couple of people I follow in this category now because theyre seriously compelling in some way or the other. But just following someone for pictures of their cute baby, their furniture and decor ideas, their daily lunch plate — you get the drift — it is so, so boring.

I revisiting the old follow list I had, and my god there were SO MANY in this category. And it was interesting to see how many people I saw still into it.

I did some entirely unnecesary photo challenges like that godawful “FMSdaily prompt challenge”. UFFF, why why whyyy did we do those things, and why did nobody tell us how awful our pictures were? I posted one too many terrible pictures in the effort to finish those daily challenges.

I followed some seriously problematic people. Seeeriously problematic. I guess it’s a sign of what I have learned, and how I have grown/changed in the years since. My politics and my sense of the ideas that shape my world are definitely very different, than they were back then. It made me slightly uncomfortable to see some familiar names following people I wouldn’t dream of following now. I had to bite back and reflect on my judgement here.

Some people that I followed for their cute baby, now have two. Some distant acquaintances who were single are now married and have babies. Why is everyone having babies, what’s going on, what happened in this pandemic year?

My ideas of so many things are just so different now. Fitness, food, art, aesthetics. The handles I followed then based on my interest in these things are so different form the handles I follow now. I have next to no food on my feed today, I have some fitness, but it’s of a very different kind from the handles I followed back then. There is a lot of art, comics, and illustrators, but again of a very different style and content. It was fun to see what has changed, and how much.

I obsessed over every little thing I cooked, believing it was an accomplishment. If people told me back then how stupid it was, or how unnecessary, contrived and self-obsessed it was, I wouldn’t have taken it well. I should have stuck to my food blog, where I did a half decent job of documenting the food I enjoyed and cooked. There was absolutely no need to put a really bad pictrue of every little thing I ate or cooked on my Instagram. UGH. Terrible self-obsession. I thought everything I cooked was gorgeous enough to be photographed, which is seriously a joke.

I believed I was very self-aware and honest on my social media. And maybe I was, to a large degree. But looking back, and through my feed three years on, I saw so much lies. So much conspicuous posturing of the kind I loathed seeing in others.

If there is one thing I know for sure (and I try and not articulate too many conclusive, sweeping statements of this kind these days) it is this: I am ordinary. I am small. I am not special. Just like every one else.

So it was such a cringe fest seeing some of the posts, especially those on days that were truly miserable, or when something really forgettable happened, but I chose to post something entirely different to distract from it and to lure myself into the belief that there was something inherently special about me and my life.

What a ride.

Two years ago: Solo Saturday night
Three years ago: Obscured by clouds (Coonoor, 2017)
Four years ago: Inconsequential posts you really don’t need to read
Five years ago: R&R

Ghosts of people past

Still have Joan Didion’s words thrumming through my body and brain, a whole day later, in the form of questions I have arrived at and asked myself many, many times before.

What happens to the people we used to be, past versions of ourselves, as we gently tend to growing some parts, letting others go?

Sometimes I’ve had answers. Sometimes I’ve only felt like I have come close to having some semblance of an answer, letting myself kiss the edges of knowing, but settling fully into the un-knowing. Dipping myself into the masochistic discomfort of it.

But, most times the answer has been a statement — I wonder.

Or some variation of it.

One year ago: Clear
Two years ago: I am the universe
Five years ago: Shiny new guiding lights

Who dat?

Deep feels, deep resonance and deep, deep punch to the gut reading Joan Didion today.

I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be…

— Joan Didion

One year ago: Sundry work updates
Five years ago: Sometimes I draw

Monday Tarot Message: Sitting in the dark, waiting

As we move through transitions, like turning into a New Year, it’s typical to want to rush through them. We pressure ourselves to leave behind the old, cast it away and assign lofty goals for the days ahead. But what do you do when you’re moving through what has been a difficult season that’s asked for a lot of staying put? Waiting. Hoping. Uncertainty and not knowing?

What meanings do goals have then?

The Three of Wands here speaks to me of waiting. Not a passive, resigned waiting, or waiting in expectation, but active waiting fortified with acceptance and compassion, without the pressure of needing an external shift, big goals, aha moments and learnings. It’s okay if 2020 has been largely a dud. It’s okay if it didn;t inspire any frantic banana bread baking, if you didn’t pick up sourdough baking, didn’t find it in you to do home workouts or you learnt no new skills and didn’t end the year with a new home business. It’s okay if you weren’t productive at all.

Be more interested in what this waiting has been like within yourself. What has shifted internally? How can you hold space for what is still in transit, still emerging slowly?

If you ended 2020 feeling the loss of a whole year, sadness for your unmet goals/dreams, resentment for the “lapses” or return of old coping mechanisms, stuckness from being in limbo, may I suggest you allow yourself some time to look within. To see what has changed internally. To grieve losses, mark the changes, celebrate the joys and integrate all the experiences?

Many times in life, things do not move as fast as we would like. It is the same with therapy/healing. When the aha moments are elusive. At those times, it is more about consistently showing up for yourself, trusting the process, holding space for it. And waiting, with compassion. The rhythm of simply doing this is healing during unpredictable, haphazard times.

There is an Inuit word for it. “Qarrtsiluni: to sit together in the dark, waiting for something to happen.” I could try and learn this during this time of slow change, I thought.

Going into 2021, I hope that you’ll offer yourself some kindness and compassion. For getting through this time the best way you could. Allow yourself not to fret, rage and fight through the transition. Not to have any successes, and few or no goals. Just to wait a while, for something to emerge.

***

Happy new year, folks. Thank you for indulging my Monday messages, week after week. I hope some of you found resonance. Those of you who wrote in to let me know, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Really.

***

Due to a cancellation on 6th January, I have one last spot left on this offering: Looking Back and Looking Ahead. If you’d like in, please reach out to me.

One year ago: Ways of seeing
Two years ago: Boombox updates
Three years ago: Going by the book (and all that I read in 2017)
Five years ago: Love letters

Sun and salt water days

I only got to the sea in the last quarter of the year. But it is a privilege and a joy I cannot overstate. Our plan for 2020 was to shunt between Goa and Bangalore, as and when we pleased, because finally we are at a stage and place in our lives where we can. But of course that plan was not to be.

We did make it though, in October, finally. And despite living in Goa for eight years and having this continued come-and-go relationship with it for nearly ten years now, this time around, I really made time and effort to make it to the beach.

VC and I decided before we came here this time around, four weeks ago, that we’d try and spend sunset at the beach everyday. And so when we did, I started marking the days. Counting them off, here and on Instagram. Till I got to day 10 (without a break) and I realised we were actually doing it. I t wasn’t just a pipe dream or a short-lived burst of josh. And so I stopped counting. Nearly four weeks in, I’ve been at the beach at least 5 days a week, on average. Most times with VC, some days with S, and many days alone. Sometimes to swim, sometimes to just sit and watch everything, sometimes with tea, sometimes just music, sometimes to lie on my mat.

I unfailingly made a conscious effort every single day to get out and go to the beach. And I made it on most days. Some days I settled for a coffee shop, or a drive — getting out at sunset everyday anyway. LIFECHANGING.

Anyhow. I’ve more than made up for lost time at the sea — a feeling I’ve carried for all the years I lived here and was too busy living life to actually go to the beach as often as one imagined one would.

All this to say, I’m deeply, deeply grateful for the sea. For showing me how to flow and be steady. For letting me let go. For taking my tears. For giving me so many spectacular sunsets to close so many days, all kinds of days. For taking my breath away so often. For leaving me silent and speechless. For being okay with my solitude and companionship, whichever I brought with me on any given day. For being always available. For steadiness. For resilience. For silence. For flow. For ease.

I have received more than I have given. I have taken more than I can ever return.

***

We spent today evening at the sea too. It was way mroe packed than it has ever been this season. That was expected, I guess. But it was ncie none the less. To soak my feet, ground them in grimy sand, catch floating seashells, dodge hermit crabs.

Watching the sun go down as it does every single day, I reminded myself to go in to the new year without heavily pressing my intentions on what is yet to come.
To be okay with feeling my way through.
To find comfort in the wonder. In discovering things beyond what I think I already know.
To learn and accept how little I actually do know.
To try and take each moment as it is. Full of possibility in its own way.
Without heavily pressing my intentions, expectations or plans on what it could hold for me.
To come and go lightly. To hold on to only as much as I need. And let the rest go.
To flow, and to be steady all at once.

One year ago: Curtain call
Two years ago: December
Three years ago: Crossing over
Four years ago: December

Looking back. And looking ahead.

Somehow, it is the end of the year already. ALREADY. While I’m not feeling the usual forced new-year-new-me enthusiasm, I am feeling reflective. Because it has been a whopper of a year.

If you find yourself reflecting on the year gone by too, I’m offering tarot sessions to look back at all that 2020 has held. Without any pressure to expect anything major from the year ahead. A session to gather key experiences and emotions, reflect on what you have gained and lost, celebrate the wins, grieve the losses, mark the moments that you want to build on. And easily, gently set an intention for the months to come.

It’s been a challenging year from everybody — one way or another. I can say this with so much certainty. Maybe it raked uo a lot of previously unseen and unfelt emotions. Perhaps it asked for a lot more fortitude andn stretched you in ways you didn’t feel ready for. And through it all, maybe you unlocked unknown reserves of quiet strength and flexibility. Maybe you also saw faultlines in yourself you didn’t know existed beneath the aspiration for perfection or the need to have it together. Maybe you discovered something about yourself that you love, something else that you didn’t love so much, something else that needs work, something else that gave you peace.

Whatever your specific experience through 2020, it’s likely you’re not looking at yourself or your world quite the same way you did before 2020. Or perhaps ever.

I’ve had clients experessing a feeling of “backlog” or overwhelm from not having processed any of this. If this resonates with you, I am attempting to facilitate a space like that, even if you just an hour or more, before we step into the flow of the new year.

Give yourself, or a loved one, a session to Look Back And Look Ahead, if this sounds interesting to you. I started sessions yesterday and will be available until 6th January, 2021. Slots are already filling up, so please reach out if you’re considering, so I can accommodate you.

One year ago: Back to earth
Two years ago: Expand your mind, take a look behind
Four years ago: All the books I read this year

Year-end feels (#1)

(UH-OHHHH, if you think you smell a series, you’re probably right.)

It took the wiiiild ride that is 2020 to know that my heart is soft, but I can love ferociously. That I hold it in a small and finite space in my chest, but it can be unbridled, free and flow endlessly. I’m still getting comfortable with letting the love flow. And show.

None of this was easy to allow, because it involved (and continues to involve) challenging many notions about myself. Many that I’d like to think are set in stone.

I am embracing softness slowly and gently. Inside and out.

And this might be the first time I can say this with faith and honesty: I love the person I am becoming because of it.

One year ago: Away and around
Four years ago: Cutting the fat

This year

Everything has changed.

And so have you.

One year ago: More love
Two years ago: Take all my world and shake it

Reflections

It’s been so dreary, rainy and cold this week. I usually love this weather and winter in Bangalore is one of the redeeming joys of living here. But this incessant rain, constant clammy wetness and bone-chilling cold has me feeling very, very gloomy.

This morning though, I woke up to this view at 6:40 am. Sunshine after the rain has fallen. Crisp, bright, snappy. This balcony view has been a constant for more than 75% of this year. From feeling comfortable with life minimised to just this, to getting fully sick of it and feeling stifled and resenting it — I’ve gone full circle. Currently I’m somewhere in between lets-get-out-of-here and when-can-I-settle-in-again.

It’s officially that time of year, whether I like to or not there is looking back. And there are reflections. Pandemic year epiphanies have flown thick and frequent but I’m boiling it down to just a few things. 2020 has consistently (and deeply) shown:

  • Humans are more alike than different. Our lives and similar are intertwined in ways we really will never know, but if we allow to lean into this our small, simple worlds suddenly open up in enriching ways.
  • Our daily existence is small, needs very little to get by. While humbling and liberating, this has also shown me how little it takes to shrink into a tiny, isolating little world.
  • There will always be something to despair about. Every day developments, big and small, that will spin me into a kind of smallness and helpless that makes everything seem overwhelming. However, there is tremendous power and agency to be found in my smallness. In just simply owning it, without trying to be anything else.
  • The best, most healing practices that I have returned to time and time and time again, to find peace, grounding and clarity have not been meditation or journaling or even therapy and the like (though, all of that has helped too). This year I turned far more frequently to simple, small and mundane activities like cleaning up, cooking, working out and tending to myself, my home, my immediate environment, my needs to bring myself back. When the world shrank and closed in, the plants in my balcony, the oven I cranked up more times than ever before, the broom and mop, my running shoes and earphones have given me a solid way to feel present and in the moment.

It reminded me of this Rainbow Rowell quote I first read in 2017 about the goodness in building a capacity for joy in small, ordinary things that can really, really steady us. I wrote about in such a different light back then. I see how different my world was, hoe differently I felt. And how much I’ve changed since then. And how differently the same quote speaks to me today.

One year ago: Friendship and owning my power
Two years ago: I need to free my mind and see what I’m feeling

If I had to do 2020 over

Wordless appreciation post for these two humans, that have stayed by my side, even when I didn’t ask for or express that I needed it.With whom I have unknowingly, unintentionally journeyed (literally and metaphorically) and grown (literally and metaphorically) in so many ways this year.

It was a year that pulled me away from all humans. Physically, of course. But also mentally and emotionally. I have withdrawn more than I saw it coming. My only other support, my parents who are otherwise just next door, and who I unwittingly lean on, are now in another state. My inner circle has dwindled down to just these two.

Even with all the utter rubbish 2020 brought our way, I’m super grateful these two were my constants — punching bag and body pillow, alike.

(What, year end thoughts coming already?!)

Two years ago: Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend
Four years ago: October

Missing

Do you sometimes miss (parts of) versions of yourself from long ago? Even when you’re happy and content with how far youveoved and grown?

Like missing fragments of a time that came before. A view from a phase, a kind of day from a season long gone? A street you once roamed? A city or home you once lived?

Specific days and moments? Events you would do over a hundred times again if you could?

Goa brings this longing back in me like little else has in recent times. I sometimes miss the carefree girl that I was in 2010 who threw all caution to wind and wrapped up my city life to move here. No prior experience living alone or outside of Bamgalore. Not a soul known in Goa. And how wide eyed and curious I was to figure it out.

I miss how easy and spontaneous life was. How fully and hungrily I went at that new life and all it threw at me — the joys and pains alike.

***

Some parts of September and all of October have been brutal. I use the word very consciously because I’ve been slowly but surely reaching the end of my tether with the general ups and downs of thispandemic year. I’ve been feeling worn out from the constant grief cycles and feeling all the feels. My personal work has taken me to the darkest depths that I have stayed away from. Cumulatively, it has been hard. It has been a lot. And yet I have had my periods of ebbs and flows and mostly I have gotten by. But lately I have been feeling like I can’t do this much longer.

The uncertainty has made me feel frail. The despair and darkness has made me afraid. I feel deep loneliness even just thinking about a life “after” because in my head every single person in my life from before has moved on. And there has been crippling aloneness, inwardness and wordlessness.

VC and I have had consistent life challenges throughout this year, but along came the last six odd weeks, throwing a jackpot of woes at us. Too fast and too thick for us to even keep up with. I’ve spent way too many days during this time feeling completely untethered and unmoored. Bringing to question many of the crucial changes that I have embraced lately. I’ve felt tested and stretched in many ways and much of it has been unpleasant to experience.

It was hard to kick back and enjoy the first few days of being in Goa too. Much as I wanted the break, getting here to terribly stormy weather while a whole other storm was raging in my was not fun.

But then that familiar longing came along. Thinking back to times past was good perspective on where I am and how far I’ve come.

There’s other fragments like that that stick out from all the years done and dusted. And I enjoy the experience of looking back with this semi-yearning-semi-content space where I’m not missing much else.

I realise the upgrades to my inner systems have worked out well. The ways in which I’ve strengthened my framework has stood the test of time and the growth plan I opted for has kept me moving ahead, through many a challenge. perhaps not exactly quite as I’d imagined, but definitely exactly as I have needed.

This is the bittersweet way of life I suppose. This constant up and down movement. A test of grace and delicacy, demanding softness even when facing the the most jagged edges.

***

The longing for parts of older versions of me from my life in Goa definitely feels regret for not going to the beach more often. This time, I’ll do better. And I’ll do justice to living closer to the beach now.

One year ago: Good juju
Two years ago: Come if it feels right, now is the right time to be
Three years ago: Postcards from Goa
Four years ago: Stuff

Rosé

In all my dreaming about being outdoors, for just a tiny bit (not even far, just out will do, for now) I have been having visions of being outdoors. I dreamt of being on a farm the other night, uprooting a gigantic cauliflower from the earth, satisfaction writ large on my face. I’ve been daydreaming of picnicking — recollecting intensely happy memories from my childhood when we’d go off on picnics a lot, without a plan or too much thinking. VC and I have considered driving out of the city, a flask of chai and some sandwiches in tow, just to go out to be amidst trees, take our masks off for a bit.

And then yesterday, I had this very deep ache in my chest, thinking about this afternoon in Paris from nearly two years ago.

Suddenly, this right here, perfectly captures what being outside has come to mean to me right now, in this moment. Open, green, lush, fresh, cool. FREE.

This was a couple of hours we spent on the banks of the Seine, when we picked up wine, by the glass, at a bar whose very purpose seemed to make available wine by the glass for people to drink by the river. We walked in and everyone else got beers, but I asked for a rosé. It was that perfect weather for rosé. A crisp nip in the air, but the sun shining sharply, breeze from time to time — perfect 4 o clock wandering weather basically. I saw the bartender casually chuck a couple of ice cubes in my glass of wine.

I know absolutely nothing about wine. But for some reason I remember thinking I’m pretty sure that breaks some wine rule somewhere, but HOW COOL that he thought nothing of doing it.

Want chilled wine, but the wine isn’t chilled? No problem, here’s some ice.

Wine snobs everywhere might have turned their noses up at me. Rosé — that somehow always feels a touch finer and presents more delicacy than red or white wine — running dilute as the ice that keeps it cool also melts away into it.

But it was perfect.
Flexible. Chill. Improvising on the go.
Going with the flow, not letting warm wine get in the way of a delightful afternoon hang — just what the moment needed, really.

Quite like me, I remember thinking then.

And my God, how strongly that vision came back to me yesterday. That day, that afternoon, sitting by the river drinking my rosé from a non-plastic glass, ice cubes and all, I remember feeling so seen and understood by the moment. For giving me just what I needed.

And I am quite like this. Even more so these days. As I have leaned so much into the side of me that can roll with fewer plans, that’s okay to break some rules, that’s willing to do what’s needed to be happy.

Even if it is put ice cubes in wine.

It thrilled me no end to make that completely obscure, even contrived, connection. For a few moments there, looking at this picture, I lived vicariously. I imagined being outdoors. I saw iridescent greens from the treetops, pearly limpid blues of the river gently lapping by, and me sitting amidst it, wine glass in hand, feet dangling off the edge of the bund, along with literally scores of others doing the same.

Open, green, lush, fresh, cool. FREE.

The whole day dream made me curious about the rules around putting ice in wine, and so I googled it. I didn’t learn a thing about the “rules”, but guess what?

Ice in rosé? IT’S A THING!

La piscine, it’s called. A refreshing glass of rosé, made further refreshing by being poured over ice.

La piscine literally translates to “the swimming pool” — which I think is just the most exquisite description of a drink that was literally like swimming in a pool of freshness. I don’t think I have ever felt so thrilled, or found so much meaning in an alcoholic beverage (or any other beverage, for that matter) in my entire life.

I have to say this reverie soothed the impossibly itchy need to be outdoors quite a bit. But it set of a whole other spiral of missing this afternoon, and being with these peeps.

Soon, soon.

One year ago: Time out
Two years ago: What about sunrise, what about rain?
Three years ago: Books-shooks

Inside is alright

It’s been impossibly hot the last week or so. Like so, so hot, I felt like I was in Goa in the end of May, when the oppressive summer heat would drive me to tears. The last few days of that punishing heat that would really peak and take things to a crescendo before the first rains at the end of May or beginning June. It was like that, except high on the punishing side and absolutely nil on the relief-of-rain side. Our AC desperately needs servicing but since we’re in a red zone, that’s not happening any time soon. So the nights have been uncomfortable. The days have also been borderline miserable, and I have been complaining a fair bit.

Even so, I think indoors has been better than outdoors. One trip out into the wild outdoors, beyond the restrictions we’ve been living within, to buy some booze, and to buy some fancy groceries we don’t get in my neighbourhood proved it. It’s probably also the way that our bodies are now habituated to the energy requirement of a life enclosed within the four walls at home, but I was wiped clean from just that outing and needed a long afternoon nap. The heat was sapping and I was so glad to be back home.

I am turning into quite the homebody, even more than before, even more than I thought possible. I am slightly grumpy about life resuming the way it is. Also appalled at the staggering stupidity of lifting this whole lockdown in the haphazard and cruel manner that it is. When we are nowhere near the peak, or flattening the curve. It would also be accurate to say I am a bit scared too, and will not be venturing out for the next week or ten days, even though we are now allowed to.

Strange, no?

I don’t understand anything that’s going on with this country anymore. And when I try to it just brings up extreme grief, helplessness, frustration and anger. I have not hated being here ever, as much as I do now.

***

It did rain briefly last night though. One of those classic Bangalore downpours that shows promise and comes with a clap and a bang, but disappears with just as much gusto. It cooled things down a touch, but not enough, and nearly not for long enough. Today was overcast and tantalisingly grey, all day long.

It was a slow day and I just decided it wasn’t a day for productivity. And I spent the day cleaning, taking my time, listening to Advaita in the hope that it will induce some rain. It certainly induces a rainy state of mind for me.

For two reasons:

It takes me back to this late monsoon-y sunset beach visit (its the set of washed out sepia toned pictures) S, Niyu and I took back in 2012 or so. Back when we did that kind of thing every weekend. We’d grab a beer each from the supermarket, drive to the nearest secluded beach (and we had scoped a good number of those, away from shacks and restaurants and people in general), plug in our ears with our respective music and just chill. Either walk about, or just sit and stare, wonder, drift away.

And then in December last year, when we were in Coorg, S brought Advaita back. It had been years since I heard them and we listened to it some on the drive there and back, particularly when it rained a little. It’s now in a monsoon playlist on my phone.

***

Apparently the promise of rain is thanks to a cyclone thats brewing. In addition to everything else, we’re now prepping to evacuate a million people to safety. I don’t understand anything anymore.

And so I’ll take solace in my music and the mundane machinations of my everyday life. Pulp those mangoes, get that workout done, reheat leftovers for lunch, finish that assignment due today, take that call for a reading this evening, read a little. Inside is alright.

Life is so strange.

Four years ago: Beach vibes 

36

This past year I learned more than before:

That I don’t have all the answers.

That some questions can remain questions.

To say out loud “I do not have it together today.”

That I am finally getting to saying “I feel afraid and insecure.”

To feel keenly when I don’t need to feel pretty and happy. Energetic and chirpy. And to know that that is not a constant I want to aspire for.

How much I want to build the capacity to know what I don’t know. To hold myself through what I can’t fix. To accept what is not in my control.

That I can feel hopeful and happy about my personal life, experiences and journey, while simultaneously having my heart broken by what’s going on around me.

To be okay with the mess.

Past birthdays: one year ago, two year ago, four years ago, five years ago, six years ago, seven years ago, eight years ago, nine years ago, ten years ago.

Slow, scary change

And just like that I’ve crossed the 110 post mark for this year too. I used to watch those numbers clearly, and mark out the 100th day. But this year, I’ve just lost track and I’m feeling swept over by something else that keeps me going writing these posts. The nature of what I write here has changed, yet again, I’m very aware. And with every instance that I notice the change I think about it from an “audience” perspective, and I find lesser and lesser reason to come back and keep reading. I can’t lie, what little desire to have an audience here there was, has all but disappeared completely. And it shows in how there’s lesser context by way of actual events and happenings in my life these days. There’s lesser granular detail about all the abstract things I am exploring for myself. I have far more ups and downs, and there is so much more messiness and angst in full view. There is little for voyeurs to be lured by. There are no super original hot takes.

So for those of you who still find whatever it is that you do that keeps you coming back, whether it’s value or just sheer habit, thank you. It kind of overwhelms me that even with caring so little about my readers, there’s still a fair number of you who return.

The realisation about having crossed over 100 posts hit me when I was digging into my archives from this time last year, for linking up to my daily posts. I do this because I like to see how much, or how little, my life has changed as I go. And when I read the posts from one, two, four years ago, sometimes I am overwhelmed. Like I was seeing the posts form just one year ago — last summer that when I accidentally spent two whole months in Goa. I don’t know if anyone else would notice, but I do. I see how my tone is different, the words are tentative, the posts balmy and very reflective of the space I was in just one year ago. Now, one year on I feel far more sure, decisive, in-form. Things are a lot less uniformly blissful as they were last summer. I am encountering a lot more of my inner self, because I’ve peeled back many more layers between then and now. These days I find myself touching my messy core a lot more. And it is not always as pleasant, beautiful, victorious — which is all the words I could use to describe the phase I was in last summer.

Physically, the landscape of my life was so different too. A, I was in Goa, which always put me in a very different space, than Bangalore. B, I was still working in some measure, and turned to work to give my days structure and meaning. I have come so, so, so far from that place. C, VC and I were in the throes of living our separate lives in separate cities, and I look back at the points at which we’d meet (mostly in Goa) with such a fondness. I feel all warm and fuzzy thinking about the time, of the pangs of separation, and the delight of the aloneness and the shot at experiencing that with intention. It made our days in Goa so much more soft and I have a whole different set of Goa memories from last year, very different from when I lived there. Currently, we are at the opposite end of the spectrum with both of us being together at home 24/7. And I don’t even mean just post-lockdown. This has been a whole other kind of sweetness, and the lockdown has brought certain other aspects of our relationship up to the fore that I feel glad and grateful for.

There have been times in my life where I have walked into drastic changes bravely and with openness, and there have been other times where I have been plain unwilling, unable to take a step. At the moment, I’m at a point where the change ahead of me is bringing up fear of myself. I am treading slowly, unable to allow the full force of what lies ahead to engulf me, taking it in small baby steps, dipping my toes in a little bit everyday, instead.

But I know what I have been through. I know what I have weathered and what I have come through in this past year. So today, looking back at my posts from a year ago, seeing how good scary change can be was all kinds of reaffirming.

Slow change. Scary change.

Two years ago: Doesn’t mean I’ll stop 
Four years ago: Dawn to dusk