The written word

Well over a month since my birthday and I still haven’t written the letter to myself. Every time that I have decided to sit down and do it, I am overwhelmed by the thought of what parts of everything that is going on right now to include and what to exclude, so as to ensure that it’s not a never-ending letter, and a letter that precisely, not necessarily concisely, captures it all.

There’s a lot going on internally, and every day there are small shifts, changes, bodily movements, differences that I note. Many times these are little clues to something or another relevant to where I’m at internally, mentally, emotionally, and what changes I am experiencing in these areas. Some of it makes it to this blog, and so while it will always be (I think) a thing to go back to when I want to know what happened at this point in my life (and that is the idea behind logging everyday), writing these letters have been special. Every time that I have sat down to write one in the past year, something new has emerged from it. A different way of looking at the exact same thing I already knew I was going to write about. Sometimes, clarity that only comes when I put pen to paper. Most times, a deep sense of gratitude, empowerment and liberation. So I want to get down to this soon. Like today. What I did manage to finish was writing letters to some special folks who have been around and whose presence has  impacted me in some way this past year. 10 letters in total, I surprised myself. And today I went to the good ol’ post office to send some of the overseas letters off.

The exercise always shows me how some of these habits — things I was accustomed to even while growing up — are just near obliterated in our daily lives today. It’s only when I write letters that I realise I don’t know what value of stamps to use anymore. What’s the going base rate? What is an overseas letter going to cost? When I wrapped a letter in today, just snug, I wondered about how J might open it in Germany, without cutting through the letter itself. And then I remembered envelope cutters — every home used to have one. We did too. A blunt knife-like tool that would be stuck into a tiny opening in the envelope, to slide through to release the contents of the envelope. When was the last time you saw or used one? I can’t remember. Remember when everyone had personalised letter heads? And what about the entire operation that is a post office itself. When I entered the neighbourhood one today, complete with the grouchy, reluctant staff behind the counter, seated amidst piles of mail and paperwork, the smell of dusty, musty degenerating paper thick in the air, I felt a pang of nostalgia for the days when everything was analogue. And alive.

***

There’s something about letters and communication in the air for me, obviously, because as soon as I got back from Goa, I stumbled on an old letter from my grandfather that I had stashed away as a keepsake, but completely forgotten about.

Today, amma gave me another one (written in 2001) that she discovered some weeks ago. Back in the day, I used to regularly send printouts and handwritten copies of all my written work to my grandparents. Sometimes including essays I wrote in school that turned out well, and the odd book report or such too. In this letter, my grandfather congratulates me on winning 1st prize in a book and movie report competition in class 11. He had such a flair for picking the right words that always told me so much about his complete interest and involvement in reading whatever I used to send them. He didn’t just read my letters, he got a lot of what I’d write about, and he took great care to reflect/communicate his understanding back to me.

Reading the letter today made me think this is something else we’ve lost to rapid digital communication. The softness that is the essence of having someone’s full attention, knowing well that I am being heard. The human element of a heartfelt response. If writing letters is an act of vulnerability, reading and responding are too. Presenting, making oneself available fully to the mode of interaction at hand is most definitely an act of vulnerability. And I wonder if this is why I often feel like writing letters and do it so often. Even Especially to myself.

One year ago: Only happy when it rains

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Separate, yet connected

The biggest takeaway, for me, from this past weekend has been the realisation that I suddenly know what it is to be separate, yet connected. To engage, to relate just enough and connect, without losing myself wholly, or disconnecting either.

Somewhere along the way, all these weeks and months of owning the words and turning them around and around in my head, I suppose the inevitable has happened and it has sunken in just a wee bit, into my being.

For a decade now, VC and I have consciously believed that we are not one of them, and unconsciously kept ourselves away from extended family on his side, as a whole. I suppose there is a time for everything, and this past weekend was as much about testing my renewed capacity for this kind of togetherness, as much as it was for me to create a space for myself, just the way I am. I have always feared doing this because of how different I am. But I realised this past weekend that I’ve reduced different to be a weakness. Unknowingly, that difference became my strength over the last three days.

I’ve only ever thought of belonging in this family, as requiring losing myself a whole lot, and so I’ve always kept myself at a safe distance. Something happened this past weekend that made me realise what it is to be almost wholly me, rather fearlessly, and still believe that I can be one of them. Surprisingly, I received nothing but love for it.

I feel I have a better sense of what it is to live and let live now. The two may be separate and very different indeed, but they needn’t be mutually exclusive. The two, they can coexist in the strangest, most bizarre and satisfying ways.

***

It’s a bright hot day outside, with an over-zealous wind in the air. I’ve picked up toppled pots several times, watched my curtains billowing violently almost like they’ll snap and fly away, and I’ve devised many methods to keep doors from slamming. I have work to get started on, but all I’ve managed to do in between all of this is lie down and doze off from time to time. It seems almost ridiculous, but between the emotional stirring from the weekend and the excessive time spent in the water and the harsh sun, I’m totally exhausted. After pondering about why I’m so tired for all of today, I suddenly realised what I am feeling is a deep vulnerability hangover.

One year ago: Where is the love?

Postcard from staycation – 2

It’s been an extended weekend staycation by the beach. This time around, I have realllly indulged and maximised the time in the sea and pool, spending an average of 6 hours everyday between both waterbodies.

I’ve returned exhausted, burnt to a crisp (so burnt my shoulders hurt) but feeling really (surprisingly) fulfilled. I was super sceptical, borderline worried about this trip and was on the brink of chickening to stay home on the eve of it. But it has surprised and satisfied me in ways I will have to slowly unpack for myself over the next few days.

The best part? When everyone else was leaving, lamenting the end of the holiday and the crash back to reality that flying into Bangalore will be, VC and I drove 1.5 hours back home, still feeling the holiday feels.

Hashtag blessed, I guess?

More tomorrow when I can put my thoughts down coherently.

One year ago: Remind yourself, nobody built like you

Postcard from staycation – 1

Salt water, sea spray and soothing sand therapy – that’s what the weekend was about.

We were meant to check out and bid the family farewell today. Because we were so sure a day was all we’d be able to take of this organised fun. But I suppose there’s space now for new surprises.

We’re staying a whole extra day. And I’m not even complaining.

We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year.

***

Three years ago: Satisfaction

Goa vibes

It just dawned on me that possibly one of the reasons I’ve been in an easy frame of mind and just so happy is I haven’t had any work to do since the start of the month – hahaha. I realised it this morning, as the work for the month began trickling in.

It explains why it’s just Wednesday morning, but I’ve watched  five Hindi movies already. I managed to get in a pedicure and a foot massage a couple of days ago. I have worked out and cooked meals, every single day. And despite it all I have been mostly chilling, relaxed at home. I’m aware I cannot exist like this forever, my inner Type A is always lurking close behind, egging me on to do something, be useful. And so I’m glad for the little bit of work that I have. It keeps me going, my writing muscles in use, gives me just enough of a purpose without taking over my life, and while it may not be adding to a huge amount of my savings, it helps pay my bills.

That said, I’m glad for this unexpected downtime. It feels like events converged to make this happen, at a time when I least expected it. I would not have been forced into submitting to this week of distraction-free life if I hadn’t uprooted myself so suddenly to come to Goa. I’m reminded again that Goa slows me down. Something in the air, compounded by the fact that I live so far out without not much of interest in my immediate vicinity, plus just a quintessential simpler life here makes me slow down.

This time, I have only three food wishes to tick off my to-do-in-Goa list. A trip to Burger Factory, one to Melt and a round fo sushi with D. Eating out in Goa — unless I’m scoping out something truly unique that I wont find back home in Bangalore, like a Goan taverna or a local food haunt — just doesn’t hold as much of an lure as it did when I lived here. I’ll just come out and say it — eating out in Bangalore is better. So I’ll take this time as a great way to kick things up a notch with my efforts to eat clean.

***

When I wasn’t really thinking a few months ago, I accidentally agreed to spending a weekend with 30 members of VC’s family (his cousins with their families) in Goa. That weekend is coming up in 2 days, and suddenly I’m wondering what I was thinking when I agreed to this. I am gearing up to feel a whole lot of feels — from isolation to anger — but for now I’m trying to just let myself take things as they come. Maybe this will be a chance to be just the way I am in Goa, on my turf, a side of me his family has never seen. Maybe I won’t have to straddle the two worlds, maybe I won’t have to force myself to be a girly-girl and discuss shopping and make up or gossip about the extended family any more than I truly can or want to. Maybe I’ll just hang with the boys and let them deal with dealing with me being the kabab mein haddi. Let’s see.

The truth is, so much has changed within me, and for me, in these past few months. And because chances of extended interaction with folks from VC’s family are so rare, I don’t know what this fresh set of variables will bring. There’s also the bit about a large number of members being people I have actually never interacted with. Let alone their spouses and kids.

I’m partly curious to see how this plays out. But I won’t lie, I’m also partly inclined to just and stay home to stay safe from putting myself in unnecessarily abrasive situations that will make me feel vulnerable. Ideally I’d love to just be a fly on the wall than an active participant.

On the upside, we’re checking in to a resort by the sea. And it is just a matter of two nights and a single day. If all else fails, I will just spend longer than usual hours at the beach, swimming in the sea and burning myself to a crisp. When I’m done doing that, I’ll hide behind my shades and keep a stiff drink for company at all times. Either way, it promises to be a time for a lot of observation, people-watching and figuring out the games they play. All of which I love to do.

So. Let’s see.

***

It also just dawned on me that today is Day 100 of posting this year!

One year ago: To the gypsy that remains

Love-filled

I feel soft and full of love today.

***

Today, I cooked the first proper meal all by myself in my home. I’ve had the extreme, extreme luxury of hopping over to my parents place for every single meal since I got back from holiday over ten days ago. Between feeling disoriented and resuming a killer workout schedule that has rendered my movement in the rest of the day a little compromised, and a whole week of hectic social activities, I have unabashedly leaned on amma and her unrelenting capacity to give and keep giving. Whether it’s hot meals, breakfast every single day, her car whenever I need it (which has been every day these days *eyeroll*) and just generally being that fall back I always have. It has meant I didn’t have to stock up my kitchen till yesterday, I didn’t have to worry about my nutrition as I stepped into the 6-week program, I didn’t have to do a thing other than show up and be fed with wholesome, nutritious food.

S is coming over for lunch today, so I decided to cook rather than order in or go out. While cooking this morning, I realised that to be able to slip into domesticity as and when I feel like, rather than bound by necessity is such a game-changer at this present time of my life. This is one of the big issues I fought in Goa, right before I left. I felt bound and tied down by some parts of domesticity, and constantly felt like doing them was keeping me from doing the things I really wanted to. I feel grateful for the proximity to my parents that allows this, for amma’s constant presence and support in ways I don’t even have to ask for, and for how life sometimes conspires to make possible the smallest, seemingly insignificant details of my life a reality, and for how hugely that impacts my life.

***

I woke up this morning feeling fresh as a new summer day. I’ve been having some incredibly good sleep since resuming working out harder. My digestion feels more settled, my skin feels better — these, and some other small niggling physical changes in my system that had begun to creep up last year seem to be on the wind-down. It’s amazing what a little extra movement, some essential burning of excess energy and regulation in food and hydration can do. I’m grateful for another opportunity to workout with S. For the new sneakers I got this past week. For access to a gym so close to home. For summer mornings that make waking up easier. For VC’s constant, unquestioning support in this area of my life.

One year ago: Somebody holds the key
Three years ago: Silence

This is us. Really.

So I binge watched This Is Us, after all. Catching up on seven weeks of tear-jerking developments in the lives of the Pearsons over two days. I think after that slight dip in the story arc last season, things have picked up again. On the up side, I did not cry. But as always, as always, there were some insights that cut closer to the bone than I imagine this show can.

Fresh off the workshop I did here in Goa, one thing that hit me the hardest was the episode where Randall and Kate recollect a particular day in their lives, and it turns out they both have wildly opposing memories of the same exact event. The recollection of the event spurs them to make an impromptu visit to their childhood home and they’re both in shock and in awe at how the very same event they experienced had left them both seeing it entirely differently, much like the shock and awe I experienced at the diametrically opposing emotions I felt at viewing a set of pictures over a gap of 24 hours.

I felt so much resonance with the episode with Beth and how the strong, internalised messages of not showing emotion, working hard, being “sorted” and moving on has shaped her life. Especially her waking up to this reality in adulthood.

The one that touches on teaching children to deal with “failure”, about how there are no mistakes, just transgressions and diverging options, about how there is always the chance to course correct. Oh I felt that so hard.

The entire show, across generations has this strong, underlying constant thread of how parents only ever do the very best they can. Always. Always. And I have come to feel this so much in my adulthood.

There is also a reiterating theme of how the “path” may feel wrong at a particular point in time, but it always has gifts to offer. A capacity for honesty and grace to change perspectives makes all the difference.

These are things we all experience and have the capacity to experience. This is true for all of us. This is who we are.

This is us. Really.

One year ago: Let’s get one thing straight now
Two years ago: Whisky-shisky

Little pieces of magic

In the early years when VC and I had just begun seeing each other, we weren’t too big on using the phone. We’d spend all day together at the same workplace, and inevitably a gang of us would head out after work for a bite or a drink (or both) and it was only the hours between sleep and the new work day that kept us apart. So we didn’t really need to talk too much in the after-hours.

In general, in life, VC isn’t big on communication. If something is pressingly urgent or needs to be immediately shared — these are the only two counts on which I usually expect a call. A barrage of messages, an entire conversation on SMS — this is an impossibility with him. The thing is, I am a big communicator. Not so much telephone calls (though I sense something changing here too), but I can have entire conversations on chat/messaging services. And I can make calls to VC for no reason at all.

Anyhow, with this long backstory out of the way, this is just to note that VC has suddenly taken to calling me for no reason. We’re suddenly the people who begin and end most days with a telephone call. Sometimes just to say hi, and bye. The thing I thought would never be possible: video calls. We make them now. Several times a week. And I have to say, I’m not the only one initiating them.

I am enjoying this shift in our lives. Where suddenly there seems to be a place for long, detailed, emotionally-charged chatting, baring our souls and sharing our biggest excitements and dejections of the day, conversations that go late into the night. This is the stuff we bypassed entirely in our relationship.

***

Sunday morning walk has become a marker of a good week. A thing to look forward to. I’ll admit the idli-vada is still the draw, but it does feel really good to be out in the crisp morning air when the sun has only just come out.

I nearly didn’t make it two weeks in a row and the joy of actually having made it, and having finished a walk amidst many, many giggles and all kinds of conversation with D, and that breakfast with a double dose of coffee at the end — it’s near perfection.

However, the thing that just laces it all beautifully for me, like a cherry on the top, is coming home and getting right back into bed. Under the quilt and all, to either read, watch some Netflix or just nap — it is just divine.

Last Sunday, I realised this is a small, seemingly insignificant pleasure, the joy of which I almost didn’t fully register. But it has become something of an important ritual for me, and it does lift my day, my week up in more ways than I realise. To acknowledge that this past Sunday shifted something.

***

I have also resumed yoga again. AND I FEEL SO GOOD. There is that sweet, stretchy pain of having used my body for something more than just sitting around, which has been my predominant state for the last 12 months. It’s been a little over a week and it’s hard to fight the constant thought of how woefully out of shape I am, of how the proportion of time it takes to gain strength, stamina and muscle versus the time it takes to lose it all is so goddamned skewed. But, I feel really, really good. I like the deep stretching, the twisty, bendy moves that turn my mind and body into knots, I love the peace in the pranayam, and I go through the entire class in anticipation of the deep relaxation and full-body scan of the last 7 minutes of shavasana.

I’ve had sore abs and hams and glutes pretty much after every class. And then I went and started getting out for a walk on the alternate days when I’m not at yoga. Plus there’s the Sunday walk. So yeah, I’m moving again.

Last year was obviously a year of sitting still, conserving energy. And while it has had its place in the whole process, I hadn’t realised just how much I love to be active, and how happy it actually makes me. On Thursday last week after a walk, I actually came home and burst into a hysterical fit of laughter and cried happy tears from the sheer surge of endorphins like I haven’t felt in forever.

As my next Goa trip approaches, I’m wondering about my options to keep the exercise going. And almost like on cue, my kickboxing trainer messaged me out fo the blue. We hadn’t interacted in upwards of 6 months, and he just checked in on me suddenly, just like that.

I feel like it was a sign.

***

L was down in Bangalore after what feels like forever. Actually, the last time she was down was when we met and hung out at M’s wedding six years ago. Six years isn’t very long, but it feels like an age simply because of how much has happened in the years between. We haven’t been inactive touch through this time. We pretty much fell out of touch entirely, and I only surfaced to get in touch with her last year when I visited Pondicherry and this year when I was in Auroville — to see if we could catch up. Both times she was travelling, and we went back to our regular lives.

So we met, and I realised only after we met that she had made the entire trip down to catch up with me, and another friend. I am so used to assuming nobody would ever do that for me, that I had just taken it for granted that she had some other business to deal with in Bangalore and was catching up with me on the side.

We had a lovely hang. It was meant to be a quick coffee at Koshy’s, but it ended up being a long, long, chatty time. And when we weren’t done even after our coffee was done, we walked up and down Church Street chatting some more. Then ducked into Blossoms and bought a bunch of books. Still no sign of calling it a night, we went back to Koshy’s for dinner.

It was just so affirming. Here’s someone I have just not been in touch with, we have lives that are wildly polar opposites of each other, and yet when we met we picked up effortlessly. The conversation wasn’t stilted, the connection was warm, genuine and lingering, refusing to end.

In all my years struggling to get a grip on the loop of friendship and loneliness in my life, I’ve focused on the lack so much. It only takes a day like this to turn it all around.

***

I also caught up with S and D — we hadn’t done this since the course ended. I came home just so grateful. Here are two people I only got to know about six months ago, we don’t have history. I don’t know too much about the intricacies of their lives, and vice versa. But we’ve connected on a foundation of authenticity and vulnerability, just by virtue of doing this course together and experiencing each other’s worst selves in a closed room. There’s something special about that kind of bond. There’s warmth in the hugs we give, there’s a glint in our eyes when we talk about what we’re dealing with, and there’s the incredibly rare and wonderful bit where we meet like this, over coffee, after 3 months and waste no time in pleasantries, jumping straight to OMG I’m struggling so much this month!

***

I’ve been practicing reading the Tarot for myself for months now. Ever since D got me started last year it’s been a regular feature/habit and gradually growing interest in my life. At the start of the year, I told myself I want to do this more — for myself and for others. This week, I did four readings for four different people. And each of then were an utterly enjoyable experience for me.

What I love most about reading the cards is how there’s almost always a message for me in every reading, how much it makes me tap into my intuition and how much freshness it brings to my life as a newfound interest.

***

This is gratitude for all that has shifted this week. Something about a cycle closing — I’ve been feeling this since the turn of the year and the last full moon that gave me a burst of energy seems to have also completed some kind of shedding that has been in process. I’ve been so wrapped up in thought and working on processing it through my head, that I’ve lost contact with my feelings and my body. I realised today in an instant that I have loosened up physically, as much as I have relaxed about certain tight corners in my life.

Maybe it’s new. Or maybe it’s been there and I hadn’t noticed it because I’ve been so busy looking for cognitive answers.

***

This is gratitude for the winter. For the walks. For the parks. For the morning air.

For the strawberries that I could make jam with.

For this blog and the fresh connections it has brought to my life.

For friends who’ve been there in ways I have been unable to see. For new friends. For new people who are there, just as people, and that’s okay.

For friends who have come, are in the process of leaving, and also those who have left. For teaching me not to hold on so tight. For finally showing me what I’ve been fighting and how futile it is.

For therapy and N and how hard she pushes me.

For the crayons I bought, for the pictures of myself that I dug out and the drawing and writing that came from it.

For the numerous times that I found myself at Airlines this past week. For the coffee.

For home. For amma and for how much time we got to spend together since I’ve been back.

For R, S and H and how they’ve taken me under their wing. Counting me in whenever they go out as a family. It’s incredibly heartening.

One year ago: Pretty lights
Two years ago: Because I want to remember
Three years ago: Saaru-anna

 

New light

It is possible, I have realised over just the last 24 hours, that VC was there all along, and it is I who have learned to let myself go and be held and helped instead. This dropping of my own weight from holding it all in and holding myself up, has been somewhat pivotal.

I accidentally encountered a term last week, in casual conversation, that perfectly describes this phenomenon: allowance.

To be in allowance — or the degree to which I am willing to permit myself, in this context — to receive this support. The allowance to feel fully, to allow my emotions to show, even if it means showing myself in a light different from the one I have been used to has been an unexpected plot twist.

One of the frightening realisations I have come to recently is how often I go through difficult times all by myself for no fault of anyone else’s but my own. All because I almost never allow what I am feeling to brim over and be seen. I rarely allow for help — whether it’s a listening ear or physical assistance or just an act of kindness, not random but in response to something I am feeling.

This is a script that has dictated much of my life. I’m seeing more and more how even though the circumstances and specific details of our lives may be different, this script has dictated much of my mothers life too. And similarly, my grandmothers too. A chat with amma the other day made me realise it probably goes beyond that too — my great grandmother was an outlier and a beacon of achievement and women’s liberation for her time. Her mother in law too, did some immensely formidable things. I realise I carry within me the spirit of what was once the definition of strength — to get through difficult times with a smiling face, to be put together and move on. It’s almost hardcoded in my DNA, much like the colour of my eyes, the tilt of my smile and the way in which my skin reacts to the air around me.

These are inherited stories, a collective culture of achievement, a legacy that I am compelled to step into and further. But the more grounded and secure I feel in getting to know myself, the more I feel ready to encounter and face the difficult emotions.

The more I listen to the voice within me wrapped beneath layers of this consciously learned and unconsciously inherited behaviour, the more I want to redefine what strength, achievement and happiness means to me. The more I want to open up to the authenticity of my emotions and consequently, the desire for help, the desire to no longer face life alone.

There are two threads to this. One, the capacity for admission and allowance for experiencing pain, grief, difficulty, sadness, rejection — the whole gamut of difficult feelings that I was almost afraid to allow myself to feel. Two, the consequent, chronic absence of people when I most need them. They’re separate, and yet connected. The truth, as I’ve come to painfully realise, is that all those difficult emotions are the flip-side of every experience of joy, love, happiness, togetherness and connection. They’re two sides of the same coin, following each other in a an infinite loop. It is impossible to separate the two, and so to live a life in constant negation or denial of the difficult is to make absolutely no space for emotions that are intrinsically 50% of me.

This script is another facet of the strong narrative. The deeply compelling belief that to feel difficult feelings is to be weak, that expressing them would amount to making a fuss, that making space for them would mean a life soaked in sadness, that asking for help would mean that I am somewhat incapable and an small. One thing leads to another and pretty soon it begins to feel like my entire life is a big fat lie. Because there’s no running away rom how often I do need help. How much I do need space to express myself. How much I do need to feel everything.

And so, the work then is to unpack the script. And very, very slowly rewrite it in a way that erases the notion that uncomfortable emotions will consume me if I face them. Because everything passes. Just like the sun needs to set and darkness must prevail, before a new dawn rises. Trees must get unabashedly naked for new life to sprout. The earth must be painfully parched to fully enjoy the gush of that first rain.

The work is in trashing the “suck it up” impulse that’s so quick to swoop in and call the shots. It is in, believe it or not, building a capacity not just for joy but also to invite deep sadness and the whole host of difficult feelings. To really see myself and my capacity to feel in a radically new light.

This requires strength. Just not the kind that comes from building an armour around myself, but from letting myself show. These past few weeks I’ve tasted that strength that comes from knowing that virtually no difficult emotion is so big it can overpower me. I’ve found security in my body and intuition that is beginning to tell when it is time to let my guard down, drop my weight and be seen. I’ve found safety in meeting grief and sadness and staring it right in the face, making absolutely no attempts to hide it.

I’ve held the words Vulnerability is strength really, really close to my heart for over two years now. But it is only now that I am slowly beginning to experience what it means. Vulnerability is in allowance. In seeing and being seen. And something tells me I’ve only just, barely, barely scratched the surface.

***

Title inspiration:

One year ago: Block rockin’ beats (Wayanad, 2017)
Three years ago: Come undone

Day 351: Love in a thousand different flavours

Weekending.

I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday pretty much like this. In front of my laptop, either working, watching Netflix or “studying”.

On Friday night, in a completely wild occurrence, VC and I chatted on the phone for two whole hours. I haven’t done that in aaaages. And with VC, never. But it was nice, chatting while we each fixed ourselves a drink and solo dinner. (So what of I had breakfast for dinner?)

On Saturday, Amma left for Nagpur and I was suddenly overcome with the thought that I was all alone. Except one never really is, and I’m learning to remember that and reach out (rather than wait to be reached out to) to others when I feel that longing for connection. So I invited myself to join R and S for dinner in what is becoming a welcome and regular occurrence with us.

Sunday morning has a new weekly ritual. A long walk. For four consecutive weekends now D and I have caught up to do this. And it baffles me how I struggle to wake up before 7.30 on a weekday but waking up at 6 on a Sunday seems to come quite easily. I joked about not having put in so much focus or dedication into much this year, as I seem to be doing for the Sunday morning walk. Except, I wasn’t joking. Perhaps it helps that we top the walk off with a single-idli-vada and a tall, strong coffee each.

The rest of my Sunday was mostly spent cleaning the house, doing some cooking — another full meal — and a visit to the in laws. Beer at lunchtime almost always means a long nap will follow. But I also binged on You Me Her and finally finished the show.

S came over for dinner then, in what should be frequent occurrence with us, but for various reasons just hasn’t been. It was a delightfully chill time. Whisky, chicken 65, rasam and rice with pretty much non stop easy, heartfelt conversation.

I ended last week feeling quite raw about my realisations about loneliness and almost immediately, almost in anticipation of the downward spiral that it could have caused, I was forced to see how much opportunity for connection there is. Should I choose to see and have it.

Today, I’ve been in a bit of a daze. Cramps + procrastinating with packing meant I had left everything down to the wire. As usual. I got all my stuff together in the last two hours before I left for the airport.

I’m off to Goa in a bit. To spend Christmas, New Years Eve and VCs birthday with him, only to return in the new year when I will not be posting as frequently. I’m looking forward to the next 2.5 weeks.

It’s time to catch up with VC, spending time with him since I have been missing it so, S is coming down from Paris, I’ll get to hang with D and the puppies, I’ll get to spend time at home that’s slowly coming together.

It’s all kinds of emotional to think I’m ending the year in a Goa that is one half of where home is. This feels interesting and like it means something and I’m excited to see where we go from here.

Two years ago: Day 351: Misty mountain hop

Day 331: I need to free my mind and see what I’m feeling

Throwing it back to this day last week by the beach, when my mind was empty and the sunset sea-breeze buoyed me up.

Because, I’m feeling a little fried today. And I am only connecting the dots going backwards right now

The HDFC net banking site drove me up the wall today. And it happened to be a day where I had to do two airline bookings, place a Big Basket order and check up on two payments waiting to be reversed. None of this happened easily. Even now, only the air bookings have been successful, but not without strife.

But it all started last night. I went to bed later than usual, tossed and turned before I drifted off well past midnight. I didn’t sleep too well and it resulted in me oversleeping this morning, which sets my entire day off.

I didn’t know it then but I do now. I’ve been preoccupied with thoughts and feelings about a current situation VC and I are in. It’s mundane and boringly usual where his family comes from, but it has bent my mind in so many ways these past ten days, that I m unable to wrap my head around it.

I’m trying to just let the feelings come up to the surface and flow, and sometimes it works, and helps. There has been some fear of judgement, fear of being stuck and stifled, and a difficulty in accepting the uncertainty of which way this can go. I also find myself torn between jumping in, to rescue mode and having VC’s back, even though my heart knows this is my chance to back off completely because this isn’t entirely my circus or my monkeys right now, and in fact an opportunity for VC to set his emotional boundaries right with his family. And who knows, even invite a little new goodness into our lives.

In all of this I am also afraid that my anxiety about this (that I cannot help at this point) may jinx it.

I wanted to go catch Bohemian Rhapsody tonight, but its less than 30 minutes to show time and I still trying to get through the failed net banking shit of the day. 

I’m ready to go to bed tonight, thinking of the sea and the coming and going of the waves, in the hope that tomorrow will be lighter and flowy-er.

Day 330: I can buy the sunshine

It’s been a week since I came back from Goa, and Auroville and life has resumed after what seemed like a long, long time in limbo with my routine up in the air. While I was quietly happy about the fact that the state of flux had surprisingly actually made way for flow, I cannot overstate the joys of having life swing back to normal again. I spent most of the last week catching up on emails and work, spending my days at my mum’s home, cooking and eating meals with her, meeting the in laws and other utterly normal things like that. Just the kind of normal I had missed.

It’s just been a week, and even though I’ve been at home by myself for only 50% of that time, the joys of being by myself cannot be overstated. I don’t know what it is, because VC isn’t even remotely demanding of my time or attention, but somehow his absence has brought in an unencumbered feeling like loosening the strings on my own being. I’ve enjoyed falling in a routine and a rhythm of my own calling with absolutely nothing else to consider.

It has meant I have been able to spend a lot of time reading uninterrupted (even by my own whims and distractions), I’m currently reading three books at one time. I actually wrapped up my assignments for the month this week. I started to binge-watch Gossip Girl. I managed to catch a play with A last week, dinner with R and S one night, and post-dinner coffee with them another night, and I’m going to watch Badhaai Ho with S tonight. On Saturday evening I walked, and then on Sunday morning, D and I met for a walk again. Somewhere in between there have been long drives to take my mum to physiotherapy, the usual grocery shopping , etc. Even with all of this packed in, I find I have pockets of time. I’m in bed sooner while I am late to actually fall asleep. There’s a sense of rhythm and floatiness that I am exploring for almost the very first time in my adult life. It is equal parts enjoyable and slightly unnerving. Especially when my good old Type A self rears her head to try and coax me into finding “better” ways to spend my time. When that happens, I’m doing my best not to blindly fill time out of a sense of guilt or angst with not knowing how to handle this better. Instead, I’ve been forcing myself to let it be, feel the feelings — the doubt and the fear — let them pass. And pass, they do.

It’s not a big deal, I know, this living alone business. But as someone who has never, ever done it before, to be doing it deliberately at this juncture in my life feels enormous, exciting and excruciating. All at once, if that’s even possible.

Even so, the newness has overshadowed everything else this past week alone, during which:

  1. VC has already visited Bangalore once, on work
  2. I read Gloria Steinem’s essay titled Love vs. Romance that has put an irrevocable, life-changing spin on my thoughts about marriage. I cannot imagine steering back from here on. It has been like opening my eyes what has been right in front of them all along, just somewhat hazy and out of sight. So to be seeing things that were always there, differently is bound to make the journey ahead…interesting. To say the very least.
  3. This never-happened-before activity has become a regular feature

Today, I feel gratitude for all that I have and everything in my life that has contributed to bringing me to this very special place. Where I am able to do the things I am, navigate this path in a manner that makes most sense to me. I don’t acknowledge it enough, but I have the undying support of VC, my parents and my sister who are there for me in innumerable ways supporting me in being the person I am, on an everyday basis.

It’s usually gratitude for the physical, material things — how comfortable my life is, how looked after I am, how filled with abundance I feel right now — that I tick off when I give thanks. But I absolutely also feel immense gratitude for the intangible things. The silent support. The unspoken confidence. The love and positive energy. The sense fo being held. The immense space and expansiveness that is my life right now, and how there’s literally nothing standing in the way of making the most of it right now.

Two years ago: Day 330: One number mini rant about Instagram

Day 288: All along this love was right in front of me

Today has been such a slow day. This feeling of everything being tentative seems to pervade every where, across spheres of my life. The only thing that’s moving ahead with sprightly energy is my presence and activity around home. Thanks to Niyu being with us, recovering slowly, the workings of my home have fallen into a healthy clockwork pattern which has brought about a sense of grounding for me.

I’m deeply grateful for this. It’s hard to look at difficult times (the last ten days have been hectic and stretched us all in ways unimaginable) and feel gratitude for unseen gifts. But this is the truth, hard as it is to accept, there have been positive aspects to it. We got the gift of focused family time. I was thrust into a role of caregiver that has skyrocketed my respect and gratitude for the role my mother plays in our lives, I see the men in my life (VC and my dad) in a very different light, and there has been the gift of a home that works like a home again.

Two years ago: Day 288: New eyes

Day 282: Try to remember the good times

Since the day we got back from holiday, there’s been a heaviness hanging over me. It’s not as if things are down out and dreary, but I cannot ignore this achy, heavy heart that’s feeling trapped inside my ribs. It started with Niyu’s illness that even though we caught in time, really pulled the rug out from beneath my feet. Physically there were many sleepless nights, which though one pulls through high on an adrenaline-addled response, begin to show one way or another. But even otherwise, this is the most stress I have known in a while. If it weren’t for my father, and all the support and help we got from unexpected quarters, I don’t know how we’d have managed. It didn’t help that I had to be away from home for four days, finishing my course, leaving them and my mind at home, trying hard to stay focused. The work in class itself, deeply emotional always takes a toll on me. All in all it was a cocktail of things that sucked the juice out of me last week.

There was also the undeniable sadness and almost grief of ending this incredible journey I’ve been on thanks to the learning. It was an emotional four days, and the cherry on top was the very moving, very inspired and sweet closing ceremony we had. I got some very encouraging feedback on my essays, a very powerful module to close the course with, and all in all it feels like I’ve refuelled for the next many months to come. It was all too bittersweet, high on the sense of accomplishment, of having done something entirely for myself after so many years, of having finished it so well, of having gained oh so much from the entire experience, and yet having it end so fast. It seems like I only just began, just the other day.

Just when that finished, and I was looking forward to sleeping in on Saturday, the #MeToo shitstorm broke out. With S braving the eye of it, I’ve been getting frequent, gut-wrenching, enraging updates, even though I am not on social media where one can follow closely. Every story, every update brings up the bilious rage. But that is not all. This time around, the wave of stories has left me very helpless, hopeless. With a fast and quick-changing idea of feminism brewing in my head, I am very conflicted this time around. My support lies fair and centre on the side of victims, but I am so undecided about many other things. Mostly I am also very troubled by what this means for us as a culture, as a people and a race. What have we lost that has brought us to this point? Where are we letting out boys and girls down? What does it say for us as a culture where so many, many men it seems have just no clue how to deal with desire in a healthy manner, and just don’t know what to do with their feelings when met with a no? I was at the WeTheWomen even here on Sunday, very briefly. I went in just to listen to Raghu Karnad and Rohini Nilekani talk about “Working with boys and men” and though the session left me quite dissatisfied and wanting more, one thing she said really stood out: what have we done for aggression to be the default response to all unaddressed feelings?

I am deeply ashamed at where we stand today, having done a giant disservice to generations of men and women by shrouding all conversation around sex, consent and healthy relationships in shame and fear. For building a culture that normalises violence, aggression and harassment in the name of desire and love. For how we have done little to question and topple power structures present in various facets of society, even as we make advances and have women increasingly make inroads into the ranks. It’s deeply distressing to hear stories from 30 years ago that are coming out today, echoing exactly what is still going on. What has our evolution come to mean? What use is all that performative wokeness?

It felt like a never-ending weekend of the sads. Monday couldn’t come soon enough. My sister got a clean chit on Monday morning at the hospital, and as I heaved a sigh of relief it felt like the first time I exhaled a heavy bout of air I’d trapped inside of me all week long. I returned home, thinking about resuming work again and finding some semblance of routine and normalcy. But then I got a message from D that Leo had passed on and I felt like my world had fallen apart all over again.

I’m due to puppy sit at theirs next month and there’s an ache and a puppy shaped gaping hole in my heart just imagining what it will be like to have 2, not 3 of them begging for a taste of my dinner. I’m still broken, and I have no idea why this has hit so close home and why this loss feels so personal.

Over the course of the last almost-two years, I have grown terribly attached to and fond of D’s puppies. There is something to be said about getting to know your friends dogs. Slowly, over time. It’s a lot like meeting your friend’s children. At first there’s tentativeness on both sides. They’ll look at your curiously, almost as if to say “Why are you here to hog my mommy’s attention again?” But you visit often enough, and the familiarity grows. Eventually guards will drop, and if you’re anything like Leo, you might even offer me your bum from a safe distance of about 2 feet, demanding a good scratch on the rump. You keep the visits frequent enough and slowly you’ll build a relationship with the puppy, outside of your relationship with your friend. You’ll take gifts along sometimes. You’ll take pictures of them. You’ll surprise yourself by feelings of longing when you actually miss the cute little runts. So you’ll fish out your phone and look at pictures lovingly, send them hugs and kisses in your mind. Eventually, you’ll be accepted as family and every arrival will be met with happy wagging tails, wet noses at your feet and gentle demands for petting. All pretence of good behaviour for “guests” too will fade away and you’ll love them anyway. All this and more happened with Leo. He was a special, special puppy who crept into my heart in a way no puppy has. I had mad respect for his underwhelmed-by-everything, too-cool-for-everything-unless-it’s-food demeanour. I loved his focus on all things food and I will truly miss his gentle giant presence every time we visit D and UT going forward. All I know is that special place in puppy heaven with an unending supply of pork sausages just found it’s most ardent occupant. And the loss is entirely ours.

The entire week, weekend and beyond has carried this heavy energy. The bittersweetness of it is inescapable. Wonderful things have happened, but not without a tinge of that heavy price being/to be paid. I’ve crossed paths with difficult times, and through the crises found the immeasurable gift of support, help and boundless love. I’ve ended journeys and felt the palpable beginning of new ones. I’m mad proud and excited for the way in which the universal energies of women are syncing up, but I feel drained and heavy with the pain it is making us all revisit. As much as life endures, it is not without death, surrender and difficult lessons in moving on. All of this is heavy, all of these are life-changing experiences.

One year ago: What coming home feels like: Revisiting old haunts II

Day 277: It doesn’t matter, put the phone away

Reigning my mind back to class today, when actually it is at home with Niyu, where my dad is suddenly in charge and holding fort. Forever amazed and humbled by the ways in which the universe conspires to push the only real outcome from any circumstance.

Every morning the last three days I’ve contemplated skipping this module, and something within me pushed me to say no, I mustn’t. My dad has been silently lurking around, but very much been there and on top of things. And it’s given me the solace to put my phone down and go to class. This is an interesting and appropriate turn of events.

One year ago: Just do the next right thing, one thing at a time. That’ll take you all the way home.
Two years ago: Day 277: 109 kms done