Day 312: While the world plays for our pleasure

It’s been two days of being completely at home, because the help around here took some time off for Diwali. It meant staying with the puppies full-time, which I was  fine by me because my work has been mildly shot to bits with all the frenetic running around. So I was happy for the excuse to be housebound and glued to my laptop.

The pups make for great company because they mostly, well, just sleep really. Nineteen hours yesterday. I counted. Waking up only to be fed, immediately after which they did a splendid job of pulling that face like they’re starving little homeless runts or something, while I tried to eat my lunch. There has been an incredibly peaceful vibe and I’ve felt an ease and unencumbered sort of energy that has energised me.

It’s been a good taste of the days to come, of the extreme luxury of entire days to do just as I please. I’ve enjoyed leisurely breakfasts, working in my night clothes thru the morning, throwing together quick meals convenient food-for-one to shove down my gullet. Generally, it has been tender and easy — taking one hour at a time without rushing around like I have been for so many weeks now.

I got a surprisingly good amount of work done, and I managed to read in the afternoon, and catch a nap before walking the dogs later in the evening (which is more exercise than I give it credit for). Evenings have been about sitting and chatting with VC, who is suddenly pulling a volte-face about his feelings of my going away. In Bangalore he was all I-think-I’m-going-to-be-too-busy-to-miss you, but that has quickly changed to I’m-really-going-to-miss-you. We’ve been turning in by 9.30 pm, which gives me ample time to read for a good long while before sleep hits.

And that’s pretty much my idea of a perfect day. I have had two such days. And the promise of an undecided number of such days ahead of me thrills me no end.

Gratitude today, for this life of absolute luxury. For the power to choose this while the opportunity presented itself. For D who opened her house up to us, complete with space in a cupboard, access to laundry, and so many many hot fresh meals and the company of the puppies to boot. I cannot imagine getting our flat ready while living out of suitcases or in a hotel. For VC who always has my back and encourages me to slow down.

Title from lyrics of this goooood track that came back to me like a flash from the past:

Two years ago: Day 312: Holiday mornings

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Day 298: Getaway, you know it’s now or never

The last time I drove long distance mostly by myself, was when the boys cycled to Wayanad and I tagged along in the “support car” with all their supplies. Today, I drove halfway to Goa mostly by myself. I say mostly because I was in the car, all alone, but I was driving alongside (not literally) VC who is riding his bike to Goa.

With a car stuffed to the gills, and a bike strapped to the back, it really felt like a fugitive-on-the–run kind of scene this morning as we set off. And yet, it just doesn’t feel like goodbye. It’s the strangest, strangest mixed-up, turnaround of emotions that I just did not anticipate.

Few things make me feel like my father’s daughter like long drives and road-trips do. Today, all by myself, I felt it even more so. Maybe it’s so deep in me, this ease to get on the road and get going, we’ve done this so much growing up that I don’t give it much thought. I just agreed when VC asked if we could split the driving. 24 hours ago though, I was suddenly not so hot on the idea. A massive resistance to pack and get going came over me. I put it down to everything — PMS, the very full moon and even just the strangeness that has been this entire month. But it was too late to back out anyway.

So here we are. Thankfully, I had a really good drive. It was punishingly hot and dry, there was an inordinate amount of traffic getting out of Bangalore, but even so, once the road opened out and my playlists kicked in, I felt like I had slipped out of the funk and into a new energy.

Skimming the road, keeping an eye on VC either in front of me or like a dot in my rearview mirror, I enjoyed my music and solitude, the frequent chai breaks, the oranges I ate peeling them with one hand. It was a long and exhausting drive today. Strange, considering it’s only half the journey, and we usually do the whole 670 kms in one shot. I’m super glad we decided to break our journey, and so I get to post this from the comforts of my hotel room, where I am under the covers as I munch on pakodas and chugging a Coke, waiting for room service to arrive.

Driving alone means you usually have just your thoughts for company. And I had plenty today. Music-related thoughts, Bangalore thoughts, and thoughts about the twists and turns life has made this past year. Maybe some of them will make their way into subsequent posts. Maybe, maybe.

I’m determined to slow down the hectic energy that has consumed me in October, reminding myself to just keep flowing, just keep flowing. If today — it took us twice as long as it usually does to finish this leg of the journey — is anything to go by, things are on track to slowing down for sure.

One year ago: Postcards form Pondicherry
Two years ago: Day 298: Weekend snippets

Day 261: Some things will never change

On the weekend, I had every intention to finish all my work submissions, so I had Monday to plan packing, and Tuesday to actually pack and tend to odds and ends like emptying out the fridge, doing the dishes and cleaning the dishes before we leave at midnight, tonight.

But the weekend got away in a haze of laziness mixed with some stress that had me paralysed even as I sat before my computer for the most part. I even cancelled Sunday evening plans that I was really keen to make. By Sunday night, I vociferously declared that even though I hadn’t met my weekend goal, I’d definitely finish my work by Monday afternoon. So with that in mind, we made plans to meet N and PK for breakfast on Tuesday (today) and I confidently messaged them about how I was “on track” to finishing everything off by Monday so I could really chill on Tuesday.

It’s not like thinking about packing and packing and shutting up a house require entire days. But I’ve been such a last-minute-leela about packing for the last many trips I’ve made that I’ve invariably either packed badly, or felt very overwhelmed and stressed in pushing everything to the very nth hour, that this time I wanted so badly, for it to be different. With work submissions in the mix, I just didn’t want to be in the same situation again. But my wants often don’t coincide with reality and last night, ie Monday, I found myself still 3 small submissions away from finishing my work, and with no packing done.

But nothing can get in the way of plans to eat masala dosas at CTR, so things proceeded to plan. The four of us caught a quick breakfast and came back home to have chai and chit-chat for a bit. In entirely predictable fashion, we chatted and chatted and I got so engrossed and was so relaxed that before I knew it, it was past 12 and I might have continued to sit and jabber if N and PK didn’t have to leave.

Anyhow, so we began at about 1 and somewhere between then and now I have packed twice over, finished two more submissions, had lunch, had coffee, hung out with my sister, the in laws and S’s mum who came over to pass on some goodies for us to take to him.

Meanwhile, VC has spent a larger part of the day chilling in his beanbag. Post breakfast and packing his suitcase, he has continued to binge-watch House, drink his beers, catch a nap and go back to binge-watching.

I, on the other hand, am predictably down to the wire. Just the spot I have been avoiding for a week now. I have one more submission to go, if I am to make it to holiday leaving my laptop behind and not have any unfinished business to come back to. Despite all my intentions and well-laid plans, here I am typing away madly, desperate to finish. And somehow, I didn’t stop to think twice about interrupting to come post this.

Some things will never change *shrug*.

 

One year ago: Back to base

Day 247: Not invited but I’m glad I made it

August was such a whirlwind of a month. Even though it was busy in a good way, so much happened, much fun was had, the last week or so, I’ve been feeling tired and like I’m running to keep up. More than the actual state of being busy than usual itself, I feel overwhelmed by the dread of slipping back to an old pattern where I would bite off much more than I could chew and then struggle to keep pace.

Today, just four days into this month, one day into this week, I woke up with a huge sense of lethargy. At the back of my mind a to-do list was unfolding, on loop.

It took a minute of stepping back, a cup of tea and a chat with VC, some cards he picked for me, some I did for me, some for him. And I had an adequate reminder to focus, but slow down.

I don’t know why having a lot to do automatically makes me think I have to do it all fast. I so easily forget this basic little truth. It’s not the growing to-do list I should fear (because times like this will come often) but reminding myself that slow and steady has always worked better for me. The pattern I fear isn’t in the quantum of things to be done, but in how I approach the quality of the getting it done. It’s the sense of flow and mindful every day living that I want to conserve and protect.

At times like this, I’m grateful for this flexible, freelance life. I often joke about how I don’t just freelance with work, but I freelance at life itself. I enjoy, and take advantage of, the ability to straddle work and play, so, so much. I have indulged this so often, for myself. But today, when our morning tea extended into an hour-long conversation and the luxury of pulling cards and chatting about them, that VC decided to stay home from work, I felt grateful that VC has had this opportunity too. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: it’s the little, seemingly insignificant things like this that have made a huge impact on our lives and the quality of our relationship this past year.

I say seemingly insignificant because when we chose this life, made the decision to go solo and move to Bangalore, the luxury of working from home was not at all a top priority or a deciding criteria. But it has been a happy by-product. And it’s always the by-products that make me realise how even conscious decision-making, unconsciously brings the best life forward.

***

And because I just re-discovered this on carpool karaoke (what a fabulous episode this was!), today, I’m also happily suffering this ear-worm. Also where the title for this post comes from.

Day 217: Hold on to this feeling, when dreaming of leaving

It’s a perfect, perfect morning.

It’s threatening to rain. But it’s also mildly sunshiney. It’s crisp today, the kind of crisp I can snap perfectly in two if I tried.

I’m listening to this, really loud. It seems to fit.

My heart feels like it’s overflowing river today. I can’t contain it. Everything is beautiful.

Also, I’m all alone. This is the first time since I’ve been back in Bangalore that I am utterly, completely home alone. VC is back in Goa for the weekend. Amma and anna are in Bombay since mid-last week. Niyu has been in Bombay for a while longer, and I haven’t actually met her in a month (and I miss her so).

I’ve had the most fantastic four days at the just concluded module of my course. It has been powerfully emotional, and I think there is something about needing time and space to process this that made this a good time to have this space alone.

I imagined I’d be holed up, cocooning myself at home because I’m usually pretty emotionally and mentally exhausted after doing this work. Previous workshops in this series have always left me completely drained, in need of quiet recuperation at home, eating wholesome food, drinking plenty of water and getting all the sleep I can. However, surprising especially given how powerful the therapy has been this time around and it’s impact that I am feeling reverberating inside me even now, I have been buzzing with an energy that is hard to explain. I don’t know where it has come from, but I have been flowing with it.

On Wednesday evening post class, I walked over to Koshys to have a cup of tea and wait for S who was going to join me for dinner. I had a good two hours to myself, and it warmed my heart that I feel so at home there, a single order of tea and a single cutlet are enough to drag out over two hours.

When S joined me, we chatted and chatted non stop and animatedly over beer, fish cutlets and beef fry, while it poured and poured outside.

On Thursday night we went over to VC’s folks’ for dinner. I was mostly mellow, my mind scattered even though I was physically present. Perhaps internally, I knew what was to come on Friday (which is when I did open out my work). And what a day that was. Deeply thought-provoking, emotionally draining, pushing all the touch-points I’ve been guarding away from being exposed to this work so far. But it really felt like things were building up to just push me to the level of openness and vulnerability that it needs, and that I am finally ready for.

So when it was time and my turn, I really did feel so ready for it. I came away feeling raw, yet liberated, so light and free that initially I beat myself up a bit for delaying this and keeping it waiting for so long. But sleeping over it, I know now that this was the perfect time for it. This was my time. It could not have been any other way. I had to lay out the path, do the preparatory work, peel back the older layers before I got to the crux of what’s been sitting inside of me for so long.

Funnily though, intense as the therapy was (and therapy usually has me cancelling the rest of the day in favour of sleeping), I came out very willing to go out and do something. Specifically wanting to engage, feel uplifted and just go with that flow.

I did the most unlikely thing. Unlikely given it was post therapy, and it was 7 pm on a Friday night in Bangalore. I drove across town to Indiranagar to meet S for dinner. It was meant to be an early and quick thing. I didn’t plan to drink. And I thought it might have been good to aim to come home and get some sleep. But all those plans were shot to bits once we began talking.

Remember how I mentioned I’m thoroughly enjoying watching the women around me come into their own? It was an evening that completely, thoroughly reaffirmed that for me. I ended up with a pink drink, and we were completely engrossed in conversation from the word go. There was deeply gratifying laughter, intensely personal sharing that brought some tears, and a very heartwarming connection over what’s going on inside of us. And I can tell you one thing for sure, at this point watching S as she flowers into this impeccably happy, solid on the inside, sure-of-herself person, even as she’s tearing up telling me about her anxieties, and sharing her deepest, current vulnerability is all kinds of joyful.

There was gyoza, dimsum and stirfried lamb to be eaten. And then the biggest slice of a gooey chocolate cake. I ate it all, and even so, the food wasn’t a patch on the way the company and conversation filled me up.

It’s amazing to sense this kind of transformation and feel such deep resonance over it. It’s transformation from the inside, that requires little explanation on the outside. She mentioned a quietly altered bio that reflected the big, bold shifts that are shaking her inner core, and I heaved a sigh of relief because it was everything (and then some) that I have been working through myself, at times feeling very alone. It’s everything I have refrained from talking about — in real life (save a couple of people I am very close to) or online even as I post here everyday. It was everything that I needed to hear from someone as articulate and sound in thinking, as she is.

There is immense liberation in women coming together over shared experiences. And I came away feeling extremely grateful for this connection I share with S. I have a theory that women sparkle on the outside, when they’re sparkling on the inside. I believe it even more today.

I’m only now seeing the difference between change at a cerebral level — when ideas sound aspirational or desirable and I can embrace them in the realm of the cognitive — and a deepened, shape-shifting sort of change that happens within, inside my gut, in the depths of my mind, at a cellular level. This is where it is most unsettling, when my insides feel like they’re in churn and everything is up in the air, and I’m counting down backwards slowly, waiting to see what shape and form the new settled will take.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday were long and very intense days at class. Plenty of learning, way too many aha moments for me to compute and that require me to allow myself to marinade in some quiet for a while longer. We did some amazing written and movement exercises that are going to be etched in my mind for weeks to come. Something has shifted for good inside of me, and I’m revelling in this energy it’s brought with it.

I came home on Saturday to finally enjoy the alone time I have had for days now, but have been too busy to really sink into. A hot salt bath was taken, momos and hakka noodles were ordered, two pieces of dark chocolate studded with orange peel were consumed, and I was in bed by 8 pm ostensibly reading. I didn’t last very long, before I complete passed out.

The next thing I knew, it was 8 am today. I had been asleep for nearly 11 hours. I feel rested, filled-up, content and so alive today, it’s not even funny.

One year ago: Book ends
Two years ago: Day 218: So green

Day 198: Always somewhere, miss you where I’ve been

B R E A T H E. F L O W. B R E A T H E. F L O W. B R E A T H E. F L O W. B R E A T H E. F L O W.

Title inspiration, current (annoying) earworm:

Day 195: Lost and found and turned around

Meanwhile, it’s pissing down in Bangalore too. It’s so good to be feeling a chill in July. To wear full-sleeved clothes. Two layers, even. Full pants. Closed shoes. Scarves and neck things. Just some of the things I love about being here, and pretty sure they’ll be the same things I miss when I eventually leave.

Some months ago, in a reading D did for me, she said to take this time to really enjoy the good things I love about this city, without holding back. I realise it comes down to the weather, the abundance of food to try and the freedom to loiter about on my own. So, to be sitting snug in a coffee shop with free wifi, without feeling like I’m waiting to be shunted out for just ordering a single black coffee and staying for three hours. To read, work, people watch at least a couple of times a week feels like a fitting way to do it.

And while I’m waxing eloquent about the weather, here’s a rainy day song — a throwback track (and an entire forgotten album) that I rediscovered thanks to driving around in the rain in my dad’s car. His music is evergreen.

Two years ago: Day 195: 100TinderTales Reveals Dating Apps Give Indian Women The Upper Hand

Day 176: Take a minute, I’ve been sitting here and wondering

Sunday evening blues are a real bane on my weekends in Bangalore. This is something that was largely missing in Goa. I had only begun to feel a hint of it towards the end, during the last few months before I left Goa. But for the most part, even my years working full time, I was largely unaffected by Sunday evening blues.

Here though, I feel physically trapped. And with every passing weekend, the feeling seems to be growing. On the one hand there is the palpable discomfort with having myself at a loose end on a Sunday evening. And then there is the added discomfort of wondering why I’m suddenly hating Sunday evenings. I don’t know what to do with this feeling except let it pass, which it eventually does, but not without making me sulk a whole lot first.

I don’t know what to do with it because that’s how unfamiliar the feeling is. In Goa, I’d just drive out, or go for a run or take myself to a coffee shop with a book, or do something to up my spirits on a Sunday evening. Most often I didn’t need company. In fact it was my Sunday evening rituals that convinced me I was a 100% introvert. That has changed now, but more so on Sundays in Bangalore where I find keeping myself upbeat depends on so many variables. I really resent that high dependence — on navigating traffic if I choose to get out, on that slim sliver of time that is the sweet spot of getting out on a Sunday evening, on the handful of places that aren’t going to be infested with noisy crowds on a Sunday evening, on finding apt company (because most places aren’t conducive to sitting by myself for long hours). It’s just all too much decision-making, and the thought of putting in so much effort just to feel a little upbeat, makes me feel like it’s just too much of a song and dance for something so basic.

So I sat home yesterday, in protest. Of what, I’m not entirely sure. I think I was protesting the state of my weekends and how far I’ve fallen. Or some such.

Sundays are the day when the reality of how much life overall in Bangalore, does not sit right for me. On a day to day basis, I get by because all the little things I do feel okay, they’re deliberate and I make efforts to look on the bright side and make my peace. But on Sundays, everything falls apart. Sitting at home, counting down the many ways in which I feel trapped, incapable and just so stuck, it’s enough to make me want to really question my life here.

This past weekend was largely meh. I vegetated for the most part. On Saturday evening, my sister came over and we baked a banana cake and some pesto-garlic rolls, which significantly cheered me up. I slept rather late because I stayed up watched Dear Zindagi, which I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed a second time over.

On Sunday, I stayed in bed way longer than I am known to, maybe because of how late it was by the time I crashed. We went out to lunch with VC’s family, which while fun while it lasts, always leaves me feeling a bit…empty. By the time we were back home, it was too late to do anything to salvage the fast nose-diving evening. VC was glued to the race which lasted all evening. And I curled up in bed again, ostensibly to read, but my mind was just overcome with This-Cant-Be-My-Life thoughts. More specifically, I can’t get over why Sunday evenings have suddenly become such a deal-breaker for me. It’s taken up unnecessarily large proportions that I am not comfortable with.

Serendipitously, P texted me all the way from Finland. Most uncharacteristically, we had a long, long, long chat about friendship, loneliness and the difficulties of moving on. Uncharacteristic because we only ever text each other when we need recommendations for books, or we have a book to recommend, and because I have been religiously turning my Whatsapp off by 8 pm every evening but given how I was feeling, I let myself stay and chat. And it was all kinds of affirming to suddenly have a conversation about the guilt and grief of changing friendships that feel like they’re slowly loosening their grip and fading away, so out of the blue, with someone who knew exactly what that feels like.

I am really enjoying this strange space where I am simultaneously craving the company of likeminded women, also struggling to find it, and yet also somehow finding it in the most unlikely spaces. (As an aside, it’s a sign of just how much has changed in just one year, considering on this day exactly a year ago I wrote about seeking solitude.) Chatting with P was the sliver lining on my otherwise very lacklustre Sunday.

***

Weather-wise, Bangalore has been a dream. Feathery rain that feels like a caress more than a shower, perfect to stay in, actually. And yet, that feels like such a trap in Bangalore.

It’s been reminding me of my Goa monsoon playlist, non-stop. And it’s also where the title of this post is from.

Re-live it a little with me, won’t ya?

One year ago: What coming home feels like: Seeking solitude
Two years ago: Day 176: Begin

Day 156: Serendipity, do you believe that this makes sense?

One way of looking at patience is the acceptance with utmost calm, that most times things happen in a pace, manner and an order quite different from the one I have in mind.

Beginning yoga (yet again) really affirmed this for me. That the right thing only makes perfect sense when it is the right time. At that right time, the outcome is sometimes entirely different from the one I might have imagined. And yet, it will fall into place and feel perfect, like a misplaced jigsaw piece that has surfaced unexpectedly and clicked into slot making everything shiny, whole and complete.

I’ve given yoga a shot many times before. Usually spurred by short bursts of enthusiasm to try something new, or when I have wanted to take a break but not go off movement completely. You see, I’ve always stupidly considered yoga to be too low-key for me. I know and acknowledge it’s power and place in the world of fitness and exercise, but personally, with my love for high intensity, cardio-based training and my experience with weightlifting, I just never felt that yoga would do it for me. It hadn’t really ever hit the spot like running or lifting weights or going to the gym or kickboxing did.

I’ve always deemed exercise “effective” when it has me breaking into a sweat, or it leaves me breathless, feeling sore the next day. My idea of progress too, was about pursuing that sweet pain that exercise usually gives. Bolstered adequately by messages that made me feel anything less than sweating bullets or having my heart race was not cutting it.

“If it isn’t hurting, it isn’t working,” “Your stomach should be on fire,” and “Always listen to your body, unless your body says don’t squat today. Stupid body!” and the like.

All very well and true. But because most things happen at a pace and manner quite opposite to what I usually have in mind, or the way in which I would imagine a spring back, it was no different with the downward spiral I took on the fitness front.

Several fits and starts in the first five months of this year made me realise I’m also utterly bored with a gym set up (even though I do enjoy some of the individual bits, like weight training, in isolation).

Even as I was allowing myself the time off, patiently waiting for the return to come in it’s own time, I always it would lead me straight back to the gym. I even contacted a couple of personal trainers, assuming that what I needed was a change of pace, some guidance and direction.

But, more often than I’d like to admit, things happen in a pace and manner quite unlike the way I imagine. And much like the attempt to hurry along change in my life, jump small steps to get to the bigger milestones faster, has proven futile, with exercise too, I realised that there is no fighting the natural order or energy of what my body has been telling me.

I’ve known my body hitting a plateau, but this was the first time my mind has.

It was no longer a matter of mere motivation alone, but one of actually tuning into the resistance, feeling it, noticing which part of my body it surfaces in, and just quietly listening. Without fighting it, without being in denial, and accepting that that too, has changed.

There was a time for a high-impact, sweat-it-out-and-get-breathless kind of exercise regimen. And boy it was glorious while it lasted. However, after nearly two decades of enjoying that, it would not be so wrong to accept that maybe that time is done. And I’m actually ready for something a little more low-key. Something a little gentler, less aggressive and up-tempo, more in keeping with the general slow-living kind of energy that has permeated the rest my life.

Which then made another lightbulb go off in my head: this is no longer just about fitness, but about the energy I am bringing to the rest of my life. If my life is a system, with several aspects and parts working in tandem, my goal these days has been to bring about as much synergy in getting these aspects to synchronise and flow. This has been about embracing and nurturing that synergy. And allowing the natural rhythm to take over, so all aspects of my life can be swept with that same Flow.

Life has been gently nudging me on to really lean in to the beauty in relaxing, in not being always wound up or rushing around, and I am only now beginning to see how that actually invites life to Flow — creatively, serendipitously, abundantly.

All I had to do was present myself and stop fighting it as it has engulfed me.

I’m almost too shy to admit that this has happened in the realm of fitness, as I least expected it. With how I suddenly decided it was going to be Yoga (after years of dismissing it as too low-key), how I actually woke up in time for class (after months of trying). And how I enjoyed last week’s lessons in a deeper, more internal sort of way, more than what it did for my body.

The messages I got, the same messages you’ll hear any yoga teacher say, hit a spot so deep inside me. Because clearly, it was all about much more than just my body.

Be gentle.

Go soft.

And then, there was the clincher yesterday, that had me nearly choke up and blink back tears, mid-Ardha-Chandra.

It’s not important to do everything all the way. Go only as far as you can. But it is important to find a safe way to get there.

In an older time, I casually used the term “Go with the Flow” and in my life that meant actively doing things keeping in the natural direction in which I am moving.

That too, has changed.

Now, going with the Flow has come to mean surrendering, doing little, but being patient and allowing life to unfold. Being open to being surprised, and allowing the mysterious, cosmic ways of the Flow to direct me, lift me up and keep me afloat in ways that I have accepted I cannot (and need not) fully understand, but feeling immense gratitude for how much I benefit from it.

So it’s no wonder that I have felt more spiritual in these weeks and months, than ever before. Words like surrender, patience, stillness have come to take new meaning — and they’ve become beacons guiding me along seeking more.

I’ve been talking about letting go, in so many different context, for yonks now. But only now, am I understanding what it means to let go of the urge to force life in the direction I want or imagine, based on my whims, my unquenchable ego and all it’s mind tricks. And instead develop an inner knowing, a trust that the universe has my back. To focus instead on getting my mental desires to meet my those within the depths of my heart, so that when they are completely in tune, that Flow happens effortlessly.

Title inspired by one of my favourite songs.

Day 153: Life has a funny way of helping you out

Little moments that have stuck with me this past week:

  • Coming home to fresh flowers on the plants that have come back from the dead thanks to the incessant rain the week we were away, really made my heart sing
  • When the last of the sandy, stodgy, musty holiday laundry pile-up was hung out to dry, and I took a deep breath because everything smelt flowery like detergent
  • When my yoga teacher said (out to the entire class) “You don’t have to go all the way. Just go only as far as you can right now” and I felt like it was just meant only for me
  • When an ex-client from yonks ago messaged me, opening with “I read your article in Arre and loved it!” and it made me smile inside
  • Every time that VC has thrown his head back and laughed a wholesome, belly laugh that lights up his eyes, it has made me giggle
  • When I opened the fridge (that I had emptied and cleared out a couple of hours before) felt deeply satisfied at how minimalist it looked
  • The unexpected glee at feeling 15 again, when we were at The Permit Room, this song came on

  • The peace of the only afternoon I had all by my lonesome at home, and VC returned to find me sitting in exactly the same place in exactly the same position I was in when he left me three hours before

Two years ago: Day 153: Period story and writing lessons

Day 94: Because everything is never as it seems

I’m grateful for medicine, the hospital and how quickly Niyu was able to spring back from her illness. I’m grateful for reiki. For D and K, and my in laws who pitched in with the healing.

I’m thankful for my mother, who is easily the best kind of mother in any crisis. She just knows how to put everything on hold and channel her entire being towards where it is most needed. I’m grateful for what I see and admire in her.

I’m grateful for idlis. Bangalore’s best, just outside the hospital, no less.

I’m thankful for having made it to the gym three days in a row. No questions, no expectations. Just getting up, getting going and moving.

I’m thankful for my body. For its cooperation, kindness and agility.

I’m thankful for the music that keeps me going as I make yet another attempt, this time with my focus shifted, resolve renewed. I’m thankful for the 180 degree turn in my head, and for what feels like going back to things the way they used to be — as far as exercise goes. I’m thankful for having waited this out to get where I am today, rather than rushing to find a quick-fix.

I’m thankful for R who has the best playlists. And for how he always has a smashing recommendation. Or three. Like so:

I’m thankful for the work that’s coming our way. For the possibilities that are opening up. For the gumption and courage not to compromise on what we want to do and where we want to be. I’m super grateful for the timely and reliable partners. For the few good clients that are such an incredibly rare breed in a sea of mostly assholes.

I’m grateful for the current ease around friendship. I’m thankful for those who have come and gone, for the purpose they served, for the lessons they brought. I’m very aware of and thankful for those who have stayed. And some time I’m humbled to find reminders of genuine friendship in people who I am least expecting it.

I’m grateful for the patience an the stillness. I’m grateful for the awareness. I’m thankful for the slow absorption that continues to happen.

I’m grateful for the relief of summer showers. I’m thankful for the respite from the heat and the dryness. I’m grateful for coconut oil from our farm. I’m grateful for breakfast mangoes.

Day 86: Love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves

Today, I’m grateful for the trying-so-hard-to-be-wild party I got to witness from the sidelines this past weekend. Because just when my eyes were about to glaze over from utter and complete boredom, the DJ played this tune that I had somehow all but forgotten. And it hit me like a bolt out of the blue. In the nicest way possible.

I’m glad for the reminder. I’m glad for the chance to sing out loud. I’m glad for the absolutely smack-on lyrics that are simple, but really cut straight to the heart of things.

 

I’m grateful for the music.

And I’m grateful for the champagne. And the wine.

Day 78: People say I should forget

R was apparently listening to the Dev D soundtrack on Apple music last week. And the sneaky little tool announces it to the whole world. So of course I hopped on and gave it a listen early this morning.

I suppose that’s the point. Listening to the album was like closing my eyes and taking a free-fall into the past. Diving headlong, into the abyss of the way we were (Thank you Barbara Streisand).

There’s some music that I will always, always associate with my life in Goa. Just like there’s certain other music that will only always remind me of growing up in Bangalore. My music memory archive is tagged by phases in my life and there’s actually very little overlap between them, each phase having its own distinct soundtrack so to speak.

So now, when a song or track triggers a memory, it’s one very specific time. Sometimes a particular phase, but often times I can drill it down to a particular event. As insignificant as a drive home from the supermarket, sometimes. No other reason to really remember it or retain it, allowing it to hog shelf space in my mind. But it’s there, simply because of how the music playing, either in my car or on my computer, at work or at home, or at a party, has framed it for posterity.

And so it was that I listened to the Dev D soundtrack again, after something like six or seven years. And it took me right back to year one in Goa. I had this pendrive loaded with the most random — some would say eclectic — selection of music, specifically for my car. It had to cover all bases — driving music, upbeat stuff, a touch of trashy pop, some classics and favourites like Coke Studio and other very disjointed singles that Id just taken a fancy for. It had everything from Dave Matthews Band to Dev D so you can probably gather its purpose.

So listening to the soundtrack the other day, specifically this track, nostalgia scooped me into her arms and took me back to that first monsoon, an extra dark night thanks to a city wide power cut.

We had friends over for dinner but fed up waiting for the power to come back, we decided to go out and drive. In the pouring rain. As we got into the car and set off, this was the first track that came on. And all of us — VC, S, J and I — were silent. No talking, just listening to its hauntingly heady beat and that silly “my/by God” refrain.

The streets were inky black, silky swift and all the while the storm howled on. There’s something cinematic about the memory etched in my mind. My black car bumping along the then Miramar highway, with its quaint streetlights (that we’re off) the median with ghosty lanky trees swaying in the rain, all only lightly magically illuminated by our far from adequate headlamps.

We took it in, in silence. The song, louder in my head than it really was.

And all these years later, when the memory of it bubbles up to the surface, triggered by the opening chords of the song, the evening plays out like a scene from a movie, untouched in my mind. And the song, it just as loud.

Two years ago: Day 78: Abandon

Day 68: Come a little bit closer, hear what I have to say

I’ve been all about tuning down my aversions, cutting out the will-never-dos and the won’t-ever-happens, of late. Because if I’ve learnt anything at all in the last few years of my life, it is that anything can happen and everything can change. Even the things you swear won’t, can. And probably will. I’m trying all the damn time, not to be so cock-sure about anything. To approach everything I do, with just a little more give. To allow for that smidgen of change (that I am so sure will never happen).

A lot of this had to do with dissolving my ego a tad. Because I realise that most times, if I swore something — some aspect of me, or a situation I was presented with — would never change it was because it was too damn scared to let it, or it made me feel less in control, or small unsure and unworthy, or it felt too damn far away from where I was for me to even relate. But loosening up a little, I’ve come to believe that making room for the possibility that all those things could in fact change, doesn’t diminish who I am. It just means I’m letting the fear go, and opening myself up to possibilities — whichever way. It means that in the eventuality that things don’t go the way I am so ramrod sure they will, I will not be shattered.

One of the biggest positive manifestations of this change has been the improvement in some of the key relationships in my life. I realised my unwillingness to take feedback was a direct result of being cock-sure about my reasons for doing things and being a certain way, which in turn left absolutely no room for improvement. No give to try alternatives. I used to be impatient, impulsive and very restless in my communication. Stepping back, tuning my mind to acknowledge that there are always other possibilities, other perceptions and opinions outside of my own, has made me slow down a little. I’m not perfect, but I’ve found that swallowing my pride has meant that I do listen more, and I mean really listen not just hear. Listen in a way that makes me contemplate when I am told, the feedback I am given, and consider that maybe my way — just because I am so dead-sure I can be no other way — isn’t always the right way. And that even if it sometimes feels like the right way fr me, it could possibly have completely differing effects on the other person involved.

It’s nice to have the advantage of hindsight, to see how far one has come. For example, I often look back to where I used to be — stubborn (and I’m talking rebel-without-a-cause stubborn) steadfast and sometimes so silly — that when I now encounter statements like “That will never change” it makes me want to laugh. Out loud. Because the words “never change” almost don’t hold any meaning anymore.

Because, everything changes.

Every damned thing.

All of this recently came to light when I was in an argument with someone, and they went down that path. Something to the effect of this-is-who-I-am-and-this-is-what-you-mean-to-me which is all well and good. I laughed. But when that cock-sure, definitive edge of and-that-never-changes got added to the mix, I knew it was time to back off. Because it meant that nothing I said or contributed to the conversation from there on — no matter how honest or true — was going to be heard, let alone make an impact or be acted upon.

It didn’t matter how I felt, I wasn’t going to be heard. Which then begged the question — what use is that love and respect and empathy and generosity (this-is-what-you-mean-to-me) if the relationship doesn’t allow space for me to be heard?

That was my cue to back off. (This also led me to some new realisations about boundaries. More specifically, how much more I need to learn and apply, in this respect. But that’s a story for another post.)

The thing is, being so dead sure, of anything, often means shutting out all other possibilities. Including the possibility that one’s behaviour, actions, words, the version of oneself one bring to a relationship, might be problematic, or detrimental to the way in which the relationship is moving. Or sometimes it’s just that the way one is, isn’t making the other person feel very good, no matter how honest or noble the intentions.

There are few things worse than big, kind gestures wrapped up in ego-driven good-intentions. Perhaps one of those few things, is being cock-sure said good intentions are for the best, and will never change. Because it means there is little chance one will ever examine the effect it has on the very people one seeks to love, respect and shower with generosity; whether they’re actually feeling good or bad to be at the receiving end of it all; and if maybe, just maybe, there is a better way to be. A way that takes into account a version of reality that’s outside of one’s own. A way that could in fact mend or further relationships.

Wouldn’t that be so much nicer for us all?

Two years ago: Day 68: How we’ve aged (part 1)

Day 53: Let it blow through you, don’t let it move you

I’m grateful for the music. All the time.

I’m so grateful for how frequently I’ve been finding myself spending early mornings at Cubbon Park these days. I love how the temperature feels like it dips inside there, in the shade of bendy bamboo groves, large rain trees and the like.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to partner with VC at work. It’s been an enlightening, challenging and eye-opening exercise. It throws up opportunities to surprise ourselves so often, I’m savouring it while the newness lasts.

I’m grateful for my car that has stood by un for nearly a decade now, and promises to keep going even though the age is now beginning to show. It was an utter saviour in a week so full of meetings in such far flung areas of Bangalore, I wouldn’t have made it otherwise. I’m grateful for the extra time it gives VC and me to spend together. To be able to chat and laugh our way through painful traffic jams, makes it a tad better.

I’m grateful for how the tide seems to have turned and we’ve seen an upswing with work. From several dead ends, flogging dead lines of communication and witnessing some seriously shitty behaviour from prospective clients, to suddenly be flooded with opportunities that put us in a position to chose from, is all kinds of reassuring. I’m grateful for the opportunity for yet another new beginning that VC has been presented with.

I’m grateful for the pav bhaji S made me last week. I’m grateful for the beer we had with R. I’m grateful for the Andhra meals we snuck in. I’m grateful for yet another taash party that ended too late.

I’m grateful for the Sunday I had — sleeping in, then pottering about the house setting it right again, and for the homely meals enjoyed in silence, and the bulk of the day spent reading.

I’m grateful that amma got to experience a weekend of family constellation. I’m grateful for the ice cream we shared.

I’m grateful that Niyu is back from Goa and that our collective shenanigans have begun again.

I’m grateful for the visit to the Mallu mess A and I finally made it to, after talking about it for only like forever. I’m thankful for the comforting meal, the conversations we have, that never disappoint, and always leave me thinking.

I’m thankful for my gym that always stays the same. No matter the ups and downs in my motivation or the energy I bring to it when I step in, I always feel welcome. I’m thankful that I have almost never ended a workout regretting it.

One year ago: Roads and Kingdoms
Two years ago: Day 53: Playtime