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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Eleven

There was a moment some time ago, in a conversation (with someone whose opinion I hold very close) about the wonders of living apart from one’s significant other, when I was asked if the need for space and distance meant that maybe I’d left my marriage in some manner during this past year of living apart.

The question really stumped me, hitting me like a misguided pellet right between my eyes.

The thing is, I have been generally so absorbed with discovering myself and been so involved in all my own personal pursuits, that the thought hadn’t occurred to me. The decision not to uproot my life here and follow VC to Goa last year had come very naturally. At a time when I had come to realise that this part of my journey was important for me, it was also increasingly clear I needed the space and solitude I could only get in a somewhat “unpartnered” state. So when the opportunity to live apart found its way to us, we’d both said yes.

So to be asked if maybe this had caused me to leave actually made me stop in my tracks. I had to really think hard if that was true. Even in some measure.

I pondered about whether there is such a thing as too much space. Whether growth in such separate (and immensely impactful) ways might have each of us blindly hurtling towards an inevitable future apart rather than together? I pondered the difference between growing together and growing apart and which of the two I have witnessed. Was it one over the other? If so, which one?

It’s hard to pick, honestly. Because it has been a little bit of both. At different times. The time apart has enforced in equal parts some essential separations as well as some important intimacy.

I thought about whether this steadfast individual focus on myself, with minimal obligations to my marriage had possibly triggered a solitary life that there’s no coming back from. It took me a few days of quiet discomfort and much silence to accept that a lot of all of this is true, in varying measures, at various points of time this past year. And yet, in some very fundamental way, it isn’t entirely true.

So much of getting to know myself has been about digging out a pure sense of self by peeling back the layers and making space for the authentic self that lies deep within. And it has been impossible to do this without looking at myself in the context of every one of my relationships. This has brought with it a fair bit of push and pull, changing dynamics, uncertainty, loss and disappointment. Many relationships haven’t weathered this turbulent time, and yet some others have. Many haven’t lasted the test of seeing the whole, true me as I am discovering myself and learning to step forward in a that new way.

Except, for VC. Who has consistently been the only one standing by me. When the fog has lifted after a particularly uncertain phase, when I’ve been slowly walking through the nebulous parts, and come forth in all my unsettled glory, I have always found him right there. Seeing me just as I am.

This past year, the journey to knowing my true self has been a lot about really seeing who I am, and allowing that version of myself to be seen too. I have only very recently realised that this is an impossible space to navigate unless one has a sense of safety, kindness and compassion. Both from within as well as from the most important relationships one holds.

And in that sense, I have time and time again come to realise that this is my safe space. More than enabling the physical reality of this life, my relationship with VC has held emotional space for me to journey on. To take chances, to flirt with uncertainty, to push boundaries, to make new ones. Even when things have been somewhat fluid and shaky ground, I have always felt confident that there’ll be a way for us to find togetherness. Despite everything that emerged for me and for him. All the changes that we have been pushed into, and pushed ourselves into, and all that it has demanded of our relationship.

I only realised recently that this is a sense of safety and of coming home.
Of acceptance, of peace.

Of having the unfettered support of someone sees me, with an open heart.

Of being seen with complete kindness and love.

Like feeling deep in my bones, this belief:

I see who you are today,⁣
I cannot wait to see who⁣
you become tomorrow.

And so today, eleven years since we got married, nearly thirteen years of knowing him, I feel a renewed sense of love and gratitude for what I have with VC.

Eleven years ago, on this day, we took a pretty naive leap of faith into the wide open uncertainty of a future together. From where I sit today, I feel a sense of tenderness and love for the young people we were. So in love, so happy, so confident at the prospect of a life together, without having even the slightest inkling about what life would bring or how it would mould us, separately and together. And what an exciting, challenging, fun ride it would be. Or if we would weather all the change that would come our way as a result of it.

It’s the kind of leap of faith only the very young can take, I think. Because all I really felt in that moment at that time, was blind faith and a deep gut feeling. Faith that whatever life would bring, it would be better to do it together.

And it’s exactly that same feeling I rediscovered this past year. The space to face anything, safe in the knowledge that whatever life brings, it will be better to do it together.

It’s what has allowed me the wings and the springboard to fly from cradle, knowing fully well that when I return, I will land right back into the lap of safety, peace and complete acceptance.

***

So at the ripe old age of eleven I’m going to make a sickly sweet public display of affection usually only characteristic of young love.

To appreciate all that my marriage has brought to my life this past year. I’m grateful that when the need for space arose, we were both able to see it and take a chance quite effortlessly. To have two homes, in two such varied places, offering me the best of both the coupled and uncoupled life to shuttle between, to find a new normal, is a privilege I am present to, and grateful for, every single day.

The ways in which it has shaped we have moved, grown and evolved individually, and how we have re-shaped ourselves as a unit, has been special.

Mostly I want to to appreciate the gentle, kind and loving man that VC is. He gives me much to aspire for in this regard, and I’m only now getting to a place where I can see him for who he is. As he is, without that desperate burning desire for more, for something different.

The way in which he sees me. The way in which I felt seen this past year.

It’s taken a long time, but this year, I want to remember that I have learnt this from him — the ability to be grateful for and to wholeheartedly love what I have, as it is, exactly as it is.

So to answer the question I began with; no, the choice to live apart hasn’t been a leaving of my marriage in any manner. It has been instead, a stepping stone to coming home again.

One year ago: It’s just the nearness of you (ten)
Two years ago: Nine
Three years ago: Eight

***

Past anniversaries: ten, nineeightsevensixfivefourthreetwoone.

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

Naked

In a new development (and surprising plot twist!) there’s a frightfully high number of selfies and pictures I’ve taken of myself (in a vast array of mirrors, wherever I encounter them) on my phone. Suddenly, every third picture is a picture of me. Taken by me. Sometimes in a moment of put-together-ness, all dressed up and made up, but many, many times in a state of everyday-ness. A look at my gallery, scrolling backwards instead of forwards, has become a window into the many states of my being these past few weeks, and it occurred to me quite suddenly yesterday, that this ability to take many, many pictures of myself — candidly, unabashedly — is new.

I used to consider it excessively self-involved and (slightly pathetic, tbvh) when I’d see other indulge in this sort of constant selfie-taking. But of course, with time and when you’ve had a personal experience of it, everything takes on a different hue. Judgements drop, perceptions change. The unthinkable suddenly becomes so acceptable, it’s almost taken for granted. Enough of a lived/true experience of anything, can do that.

So even though 90% of these images never make their way out of my phone (this is like a super self-involved library for one — me) suddenly, this ability to take pictures to myself feels like it’s tied to the sort of awakening and turning over yet another new leaf that I have been experiencing these past weeks.

The pieces of the puzzle fell into place when I, after holding off on the impulse to shave my head for two weeks thinking it would pass (IT DIDN’T), landed up at the salon yesterday and found myself explaining the urge to my hairdresser:

I’m just ready to show more of my face, I said. I’ve had enough of hiding behind a mop of hair lying down on my forehead.

Slowly, and mostly privately, a comfort has crept up on me quietly. But on realising this today, I scrolled through my blog too and surprise, surprise (not) there’s way more mirror pictures and selfies of myself on here these past few weeks, than ever before. And somehow, it all makes sense to me.

I didn’t end up shaving my head. Because my hairdresser very wisely said there are other ways to get the hair off my forehead.

Go very, very short, she said.
Like you have nothing to hide, she said.

So, I now have the shortest hair I’ve had in a very long time. And it felt strangely liberating and comfortable. I remember how exposed I felt the last time it was this short, when it happened by mistake and how I desperately waited for it to grow into a comfortable, familiar length.

I didn’t ever think a haircut could feel like naked, but then again, I never thought I’d take this many pictures of myself either. And that lopsided smirk is me thinking Okay, so I’m now somebody who, oblivious to the world around, takes pictures of myself in the front seat of a cab.

I surely didn’t see this coming.

*shrugs*

I know I’m onto something. Something about seeing myself fully, and allowing myself to be seen. It’s possibly the next big step in knowing my true self. Because this is how I’ve turned the corner on every inflection point so far — suddenly, unexpectedly, overwhelmingly arriving at a realisation only when I connect the dots looking back. And so even if this is an essential part of the journey of getting comfortable in my own skin, of seeing all parts of myself — including the ones that have hitherto made me very uncomfortable — so I can own my full potency, I’ll take it.

One year ago: Talking about worries and problems, people

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

AWOL

Talk about distortion of time! I have gone about today assuming its Saturday, which is why I missed posting. I’m also preoccupied with a visiting VC, with whom there is much to catch up on. This is VC’s first casual visit, since he moved, without any specific reason. And as is usually the case, we get totally engrossed spending time with family. I’ve already skipped going to the gym today, our meals have been excessive and late, and in just 48 hours it feels like my regular routine is completely out of whack.

So I guess this missed post is in line with that scheme of things. We have the weekend to ourselves, though. Watching Kunal Kamra (again! woohoo!) is on the agenda, amongst other things. So, when I emerge again I’ll have to give this a shot on Monday, I suppose. OOPS.

One year ago: Stay and stay a while
Three years ago: Into the blue

I can laugh

Yesterday was essay submission day, and as usual it was a dash. This, despite having done some work progressively over the last couple of days, and having practiced nearly every single day for the last ten days. I just can’t seem to escape the last minute rush. At least it wasn’t panic this time. Because I had my points of focus down, I knew what I had to say and I just had to work on putting it together coherently. I wonder if last minute panic is just a part of my process, and weirdly brings out the best in me?

As I was flipping through the pages of my notebook, referencing things because last time I was in class feels like it was two months ago, I realised it’s only been two weeks. Something strange has been happening: this distortion of time. This weird expansion and collapse of time that’s not in my control, the way that I’ve been losing track of what day of the week it is, and generally how slow and quiet everything has become.

It’s only been two weeks, and while externally there has been a whole lot of peace and quiet, within I have been in full tilt churn. I have witnessed this quietly for a change, allowing it time and space, not rushing it, not trying to make sense of it.

In the bargain, time has slowed down in this most beautiful way. And yet simultaneously, it’s zipped by so fast that. Two weeks has felt like two months. Except, it’s just been two weeks, how can it feel like two months!

***

One of the things I’ve been working on is building a safe internal container — for my process and for myself. I know it is an outcome of that timely meeting of my inner child, from the strong and resourced place of the adult that I am growing into. It is a slow and testing process, and I have been waiting for a sign, some indication of this development.

So yesterday, when I registered this distortion of time and how I have retreated in some ways because of it, I suddenly realised this is probably what a healthy internal containment looks like! I have in many ways held myself together (not in a way that is repressive and uptight), even as I allowed the unfolding and processing of all that has come to pass these past two weeks since that important day.

I whooped for joy. Because this has taken no conscious work. All I have done is consistently and consciously stayed with what I was feeling, everything that came up, saying yes to it all and giving it a place.

***

One of the most healing things during this time has been the lighthearted chatter I’ve been having with S. We don’t meet nearly as often as we’d like to, and when there’s things going on internally we may some times withdraw into our own worlds, emerging to touch base only for the fluffy banter, a spot of nonsensical gabbing and the like. But it almost always results in oh so much laughter.

To be able to resurface for a breath fo air, reach out, and be met with a response that generates giggles and stifled guffaws that make me look stupid in public places, or make it seem like I have a constant boyfriend chat going on because of the stupid grin pasted on my face, is a real gift. It has been so empowering and healing to be reminded so, so often that I can laugh, even as big, life-altering changes are in swing.

***

The other two things that have given me support and steadiness: adequate, restful sleep. And exercise. Truth be told, the sleep has been so good, and the weather has been so good (and cold!) that it’s been a bit hard getting out of bed early in the morning. There’s such a massive draw to just stay under the cover, that many days I wake up, get into my gym clothes and drop back into bed for a snooze again, before I finally leave.

I’ve had to step back on the regimen a bit, focusing just on making it and getting a basic workout in everyday. Because I realise there is a resistance and whatever is going on inside is probably taking away some energy too. So I have allowed for it, not pushing myself too hard, going with what my body feels like. Running 5.3kms one day, and just 2.5 the next. Getting weights done some days, coming home after a sweaty run on others. This is clearly not a time for fixed and rigid rules, but to flow where my body goes.

One year ago: They paved paradise

Days like these

With every passing day, a little bit of the fog lifts, the clouds part, and every day I feel that much better than I did the day before. Every single file day also tells me just a little bit more about how challenging the past few weeks have been, in retrospect.

Today, I feel like the light is shining through.

Today, I realised my primary internal response to stress is to freeze to the point of shutting down. Now I know it clearly because of how I experience it internally as a physical disconnection between my mind and body. Externally it translates into feeling paralyzed and unable to move, which translates to things like making absolutely no movement or progress on things that I know need to be done. I watch as time passes and deadlines are fast approaching, my mind feels anxious and yet my body is unable to respond to do anything about it. And the disconnect gets wider still This is how it has been for the past 5-6 weeks now.

Today, I also realised that because there has been a lot happening in my life, I have been trying extra hard to peg the inner unsettledness to these events. I’ve been trying to make sense of it in that way. When actually it is entirely possible that what is actually unsettling me in this deep way, in an internal shift, at a level that is almost cellular and somatic, that is happening outside of the uncertainties of my outer life. I cannot put a finger on this no matter how hard I try. And so I must stop. I just give up trying to make sense of it entirely and give in to flowing with it instead.

***

Yesterday was Guru Poornima and uncannily (or maybe this is not uncanny at all) I thought back to all the people who have played the role of mentors and influencers in the last few years of my life. I wouldn’t say I had a very great run with teachers in school and college, with barely two teachers worthy of remembering coming to kind. But in my adulthood I’ve had a lot of people influence me and shape the nature and direction in which I have grown, particularly in the last few years. I did a round of letters to thank some of them around my birthday. But today feels like a fitting day to think of my lineage, to my literal lifelines from whom I have received the very gift of this life itself.

Without them, complete with all their perfect imperfections, and all that they did and all the ways in which they had to be in order to survive, so I could thrive, I’d never have come this far, or live this life in this way. It feels like an immense gift, a source of so much life and wisdom packed into it.

Yesterday I lamented the fact that sometimes I wonder if I really have the permission of my family to be where I am and go on this path that I am. I questioned why any of this was even necessary and for a brief moment filled with self doubt, wondered if maybe this is all for naught. Today, I feel the unflinching support, verbal and felt, said and unsaid, and a good day to recognise the source, the beginning of it all, the lineage and the very line down which all that I am and have has come to be. It’s was a day for teachers, and I’ve begun to believe that there is no greater teacher than life itself, so it is that which I am most grateful for, first and foremost.

***

Today, I posted this reading for D and as I was writing it out, the message seemed so much for me as it was for the world outside. I have been so in over my head, and feeling so heavy on the inside, while also wanting so desperately to drop the heaviness and step into the light that is there, waiting.

Today feels like a good day for change. Today feels like a good day, for a change.

One year ago: Always somewhere, miss you where I’ve been

Support

In case you haven’t gathered already, whether I’ve explicitly stated it or not, it’s been a heavy couple of weeks weeks. Not to say it’s been outright down and out. We have made it through with our fair share of laughs. I was in Goa for the most part, amply bolstered by VC and my sister, being around whom, I realised just softens all the hard knocks for me. You know, there are some folks who make any situation better? I think VC and Niyu are those folks for me. So much so that it wasn’t until VC left to come be with his folks, Niyu went back to her routine, and I had a day all to myself that the full impact of just how heavy and overwhelming everything really was, caught up with me.

It’s been pouring buckets in Goa, the kind of weather I love. And I was all in to sit back and enjoy it. But the day VC left for Bangalore, I had a realisation that for now, he is the only remaining connect I feel with the place, the only reason I can get myself to spend any time in Goa at all. Without him around, even the rain, the solitude, the freedom felt a bit insipid and pointless. Because as soon as he left, I was all Okay what am I doing here ya very nice rain amazing weather beautiful lush green nice nice but can I just be with him thanks?

And so, it was also easier to follow and spontaneously book myself a ticket to come back to Bangalore a few days after.

Once here, felt ably supported to just do what I came here to do — to dive right in and be there for VCs family, sans distractions, because amma provided all meals — everything from hot rasam and rice, aloo buns to snack on, idli-vadas from our favourite breakfast spot — even though she is down with the flu herself. It meant I didn’t have to think about stocking up, cooking or managing anything at home, especially given that VC was recovering from the flu at home.

I managed to also squeeze in meeting with S for breakfast. It was meant to be quick and breezy, but it became a relaxed, drawn-out catch up because a turn of events allowed it.

I’m realising the importance to lean on my own resources and to take care of myself, so I can be there for others. The idea of giving from a full cup and all that. To recognise and acknowledge my support system, even if to myself. All the things — people, my routine and habits, comfort foods — that help me stay afloat, whether the going gets tough or not. I’m realising that I am less shy to ask for support when I need it, and a bit unabashed in stepping forward to take it when it is offered.

Recent developments with a friend, have really made me aware that sometimes the silence of waiting (for support, for help, for attention, for love) can be so detrimental. To the self, to a relationship, and to the other at the receiving end of it. I used to embrace silence — sometimes because I felt ashamed asking for help, or I felt indebted to step up and take help when it was offered, or I was hurt and offended that it hadn’t come anyway without my asking, or I just plain wanted the other to figure it out themselves. But all that ambiguity creates absolutely nothing but a lack of clarity about the truth. And quite honestly, sometimes it stemmed from my fear of stepping up and asking for it when I needed it — my fear of showing up as I am. Very often, in fact more often than not, it is my ego that keeps me from showing when I need support or what I feel the desire to connect.

In some ways, slowly being comfortable with myself, including all my imperfections and pleasant and unpleasant aspects, I cluding those that I once thought were “weak” or “shameful” in good times and in bad, has meant being able to take in all the love and support that I have, in a more fuller and wholesome way. And being comfortable with asking for it when I need it.

I really feel the difference that this has made to my life, during this time that was heavy and could have otherwise being very confusing, isolating and lonely. What a relief it is to know I can lean, and lean fully, on those who are there for me without having to be asked, and who don’t assume that I will come around when I need it. And what a pleasant surprise to realise that in the event that I need something extra — breakfast with a friend just for a few hours of normal talk, for example — I can ask for it unabashedly with confidence and without feeling lesser or shameful about it.

One year ago: Under my umbrella

Time-out

I had a post all written out, but I ca’t get myself to complete it and post it because my mum in law just got out of a marathon surgery, and all my thoughts are with her, at this very crucial time. Taking a wee time out today.

If you’re reading, send love and prayers.

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

Breaking the silence

Today is better, only marginally so, but entirely because I stepped out of the house and came over to spend the day with D. And that always puts me in a good mood. I don’t mean just the laughs and the good times, but just the space and comfort it affords, even outside of the acts of friendship. I’m seeing this as a blessing, the universe looking out for me today, a day that began with me responding to a long-pending call for honesty, a breaking of silence, with a relationship in my life that I have been struggling to make sense of.

There is an imminent sense of relief, the kind of relief I didn’t know I was missing, that I only fully realise when the burden is suddenly lifted, but there has been an undercurrent of deep grief too, all through today. Strangely, not just grief for yet another friendship irrevocably altered (perhaps ended?) but for myself, and the way in which I have unconsciously allowed myself to be taken for granted, in this and other relationships, for how misunderstood I have been by people I have counted as my closest friends, for how some of these friends I held close to thought it was better to read my blog and make wild assumptions about me and what I needed than straight up ask me if there was a way they could be available for me, for how imbalanced the nature of giving and receiving has been between us, for how used I have felt and still sometimes feel when I think about specific instances, for how angry it all makes me, for how my vulnerability was so often met by a complete unavailability.

There is grief, and a sense of feeling sorry for the person that I was, that I have been so many times in friendships past, who felt the need to connect in a certain way, that so obviously came at a cost to the person I am underneath it all. There is grief, for how simply innocent I was in the way that I so quickly went all in, blindly trusting of words of loyalty accompanied by the sweetest smiles. There is grief for how much I have allowed myself to be hurt. There is grief for how mistaken I was in thinking I was understood by people who clearly did not, and did not even care to try.

So on a day like today, when I am feeling forced to revisit all this hurt in my head, it’s a true boon to have the safe haven of a friendship like this one with D, where I can exercise and put into practice the very things — the silence, the honesty, the empathy — I know friendships past lacked. On a day like today, S has been an absolute rock listening to my unending rambles, re-hashing and revisiting it all with her. Careful to reaffirm what I know to be true, but also gently, kindly flagging off potential for more hurt, where I may be unconsciously slipping into my old ways. Despite her own current crisis, S been there for me in ways that I find hard to put words to, but that make me choke up because it shows me how we’ve grown and how far we’ve come from the fearful, insecure nature in which we once were friends, to being the open, heartfelt, unafraid women we are towards each other today.

The heartening part about today for me, is that I was able to dig deep and find the courage (that frankly, I didn’t know I had) to be as honest as I was; that I resisted the urge to get into a circular you-said-i-said conversation and stuck to just me, what I have done, and what I can do to be better in future; that I resisted the even bigger urge to place some part of the blame where it perhaps belong, and instead accepted blame for my side of things leaving the consequences of the rest to the other; that I truly suspended hope and expectations of any kind of response, appropriate or not; and that I was able to choose integrity, truth and my own vulnerability, over the moral high ground and silence, time and time again today.

This, is especially heartening because I have been disturbed by the palpable silence that I was met with this past week. Silence that is perhaps a place of moral high ground, a coping mechanism to deal with the hurt, for some. But a silence that only screams cowardice to me. It is that very same silence, that I chose to break with my truth today.

One year ago: Follow me down, to the valley below

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

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