Stay and stay a while

It’s VC departure day and I’ve been exceptionally gloomy about it this time around. It’s a combination of PMS, I think, plus really being at the end of my tether with the in-between life, and really wanting to get a move on. It’s compounded by the fact that my mother left two nights ago, and with VC gone today, my sister and father leaving on the weekend too, I’m feeling preemptively morose.

You have so many people to hang out with! said VC when I complained to him last night.

And yes, while that’s indeed true, it’s just…not the same, you know?

It’s one thing finding company, no matter how enthralling, but quite another thing entirely sharing my very life and spaces with people I love. Which is the kind of intimacy I was ruing.

***

We drove out this morning, my dad, VC and I, ostensibly to catch a quick brunch before VC headed off to the airport. But driving out turned into driving all the way to the airport, and a quick brunch turned into leisurely beers (many for them, a single one for me) and a quick bite. I decided to test my throat (that is feeling much better) today with that beer, and I feel oddly better.

VC was thrilled to be headed back to his peace and quiet life, with the weekend just a day away, and the end of his notice period now in sight.

I’m happy to let him go, temporarily (especially because this is the first time in forever that I’m seeing VC cut back and really focus on the fun) but this gnawing feeling of wanting to be together again keeps tugging at me from within. I’m just sitting tight and biding time, knowing that it is in fact just a matter of time before the nature and quality of my life the past week becomes the new normal.

The most obvious antidote to these blues would have been to hop on the same flight with VC and go to Goa, seeing as how I have no commitments for another week at least. But I’m just not feeling drawn to being there somehow. There’s just so much momentum that’s drummed up with things here, with the simultaneous internal slowing down, and the surprising new ability to just lie in waiting for things to unfold as they should, without efforting any of it.

I feel like the call is to wait, not rush off.

Here, now, is where it’s at and I’m staying grounded to that hunch.

Meanwhile, it’s life in passing. Slow motion. Daily, normal, mundane and joyful to tide over the intense missings.

One year ago: I want the truth to be said
Two years ago: Finding life again

Three years ago: Lines and dreams

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Gratitude fix

Grateful for the great weather we’ve been having. Sweaters by night, sunshine by day. Crisp early beginnings, the beginnings of winter sunlight that frame every new day and make me forget all that’s wrong with the world for just that little bit.

Sure, it’s made waking up as early as I am used to a tad harder. Actually, scratch that. The waking up happens rather easily, I’m afraid I’ve hacked my body clock to open eyes at 6 am. It’s the leaving the bed and getting out from under the blanket bit thats much, much harder. I end up snoozing the alarm for upwards of 40 minutes and have pushed my start of day a fair bit.

Grateful for the festivities of the weekend. After many years I had the opportunity to indulge in more than just the partaking of the feast — which is frankly the most interesting part of Ganesh Chaturti, amiright? I enjoyed wandering about shopping with amma, and doing my little bit to cook parts of the traditional meal we’ve been accustomed to eating for all these years, and that I realised I have a special fondness and affinity for.

I’ve indulged in about three times the amount of food I consume on any given day over Gowri and Ganesh, taking seconds (and thirds in some cases) of all my favourite foods, unabashedly. All my restraint and restrictions have fallen to the wayside almost as easily as they have been imbibed, and I’m observing how natural and easy to give in and slip back on track it has become of late. Is this what eating intuitively is?

Grateful for the burst of life that festivals bring to my neighbourhood, literally transforming the place. Traffic is a bitch, but we got out on foot, in the middle of the day and in another time I might have been hassled and bothered. But I enjoyed it, the sights and sounds suddenly appealing and sweet, touching a hitherto untouched part of my heart almost.

This is V and we’ve reconnected after about 10 years. It’s only been a handful of times that we’ve met, but every time that we have, it’s been lighthearted, easy, full of laughter. I almost forget we are adult versions of the people we were when we used to be broke teenagers in college who resorted to hanging out on park benches because we had no money to go anywhere else. And yet, somewhere in between the rambunctious laughter over the silliest things, I see how far we’ve come, how grown up we are. I’m grateful for the many reconnections I’ve had. It’s brought variety to my friendships, loosened me up and brought a much-needed lightness to my life that allows for unabashed day drinking.

There’s been something of a throwback theme going on with me. Last week I caught up with S after more than a decade, and at Koshys where we met, I happened to glance around and notice my English Literature professor sitting at a table behind me. She’s literally the only teacher from those three godawful years in college, who I cared for, who made an impact on me, and who I remember enough to go say hi. I looked straight at her, dead sure she wouldn’t recognise me. In my head, I look nothing like I did in college, especially with the shorter than ever before hair. But she looked straight back at me and went; “Revati!”

We engaged in a full on conversation and she seemed to remember every little detail about where we left off — which was 2006 — when I graduated! My interests, the professors I disliked, my resistance to Shakespeare and my love for Eliot, alike. And I have no idea how, but she knew I lived in Goa. She expressed such joy when I responded to What are you up to? with I write.

I can’t tell you how happy that made me!

Extra, extra grateful for public transport more than ever before. The more I think about the little ways in which I can reduce putting a car and four wheels on the road, the more I think about the implications of spending so much money on something as basic as getting about town, the more compelled I feel to make the effort to take the metro whenever I can. And it’s a delight to see it pay off.

I’m grateful for N who has stayed like a silent, strong force holding space for all that has been unfolding for me. Even with our infrequent meetings, I’ve found a space where I can increasingly be me, in all my different states of togetherness of the lack thereof. No filters, no adjustments. It is a real privilege, relief. And joy. As I make sense of so many little and big things as they unfold and churn up a world of emotions and realisations within me.

One year ago: August

Birthday love

My father celebrated a birthday today and we marked it with an Asian meal, two chocolate pastries and presents from Anokhi. I suppose it’s a good day when it’s your father’s birthday and you get to take home the gift.

***

I haven’t really opened my laptop in over ten days now. I briefly considered it when I thought I I’d catch up on Big Little Lies only to realise last week’s episode was the season finale — that went by too soon. But OITNB has a new season out and somehow I haven’t been inclined. I haven’t checked my email or posted off my laptop either. I seem to be reaching for my kindle more than j am my laptop or phone and I’m wondering if that’s someone related to the internal containment I’ve been feeling suddenly.

***

It was a quiet and peaceful day. Like every other day this week. And I’m just marvelling at how much things have turned. Sometimes I have to pinch myself — the contrast is that unbelievable.

As I near the end of another week I’m feeling grateful for the love, friendship and camaraderie I took in this week, for the wild displays of affection I recieved, the quiet support and confidence I drew from people around me and for the lessons I’ve learned.

One year ago: If it’s written in the stars, then it can be read
Three years ago: Cycling in the rain

All my worries seemed so far away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Days like these

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

Today, I feel like the light is shining through.

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One year ago: Under my umbrella

New light

Adversity has that strange capacity of bringing out aspects of us that we didn’t know existed, that we didn’t know we needed, even. In this past week, I have seen family rally around and show up in ways that while essential and maybe even expected, but with a quality of togetherness that has caused role reversal, and brought out vulnerability and tenderness in the most unexpected places.

When I decided to fly back to Bangalore on Friday, I was responding to an inexplicable push from within that was nudging me to do the same — to show up and be present in a way that I have shied away from for years now. In that moment I realised that it isn’t about the the doing, but just the single act of being. Of showing up. Of being there. All my thoughts about being the odd one out, and all the difference I held between them and me, that had actually unconsciously kept me away, suddenly made way for clarity about the single and only way in which I suddenly wanted to connect, which was to be there. These emotions surpass the stories in my head, the narratives I want to cling to and all the various things that allow my mind to keep me staying in a place I am adamant to be in. But many times, like I said the other day, the heart and soul is ready to move on. To transcend barriers, to find a new way of being, to make way for growth — and I’m only just, very, very slowly, learning to be easy with that, in a way that doesn’t feel like a compromise to myself.

This past weekend, I have watched myself be present for VC’s family, in a way that I haven’t before. In a way that I have maybe even held myself back from being before. It’s been special to see that this happened even though I didn’t have the active presence of VC for support, as well as to hide behind, which is my usual MO. He came down with the flu the day I landed, which meant he had to stay away from the hospital entirely, and I still felt compelled to be there anyway. It’s been special to acknowledge that am now in a place to be able to do this with confidence rather than diffidence, calmly without slipping into panic and most of all without feeling the distress about the possible cost to my being.

It’s like discovering new light, in an otherwise dark time.

It is not lost on me that is yet another positive manifestation of how relationships with others, with the world at large, are changing, as the deepest most private parts of my relationship with myself are also changing. It brings the promise of new ways of blossoming.

The impending crisis has settled, for now. I return to Goa, in a couple of days, and life will likely resume. Even though everything about this back and forth seems familiar and old, at some very fundamental level I feel like nothing will ever be the same again.

One year ago: Oh my life is changing everyday
Three years ago: That’s all

Time-out

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

If you’re reading, send love and prayers.

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

Warm

This time, in Wayanad, I had the privilege of meeting with so many people my father has befriended over the last two years that he has pretty much lived there. Through smatterings of Malayalam, conversing in animated gesticulations and a lot of telepathy, he has managed to make friends. It helps that the people of the village he lives in are just so warm, open and hospitable. Ive been hearing about this, about them, for months now, but nothing prepared me for just how warm they could be, until I saw it myself this past weekend.

In the way that my father was waving, stopping to say hello, exchanging nods of familiarity and warmth with just about everyone, wherever we roamed along the long stretch of road that the home sits on. In the way that so many of those people, when they realised my mother and I were visiting, absolutely jumped at suggesting the idea of having us over, many insisted, and a couple were successful in convincing us. What followed was an overwhelming hospitality that I have not seen in a while. Literal strangers with whom I can actually barely converse (We don’t speak the same language) but who have a strange affinity for my father, this man building an impossible/unbelievable looking home in their neighbourhood, opened their homes out to us, laid their dining tables out with the best home-cooked food and snacks and just had us, hook line and sinker.

So we met, ate and dined with, got taken on house tours of new and ancient houses alike, ate home-grown fruit, learned about ancient bonsai and home-grown plants, and even got sent home with doggie bags of giant home-grown papayas, bunches of bananas, and seriously the very best pazhampori I have eaten in a very, very long time.

So now you know what added to my heart-full feels. (Belly was very full too, teehee)

It got me thinking about how this warmth, this wearing my ones heart on ones sleeve, being un-fearful, outgoing and just so open to experience and connection can dramatically change the quality of an interaction. It has the capacity to cross barriers of language, culture, socio-economic strata and bring people together in a bond of pure love. It’s something we definitely lose in big cities, where the hustle to just get ahead, the insular nature of life, the pressure to make meaning and tangible value of all interactions takes away something very tender and soft about connecting with a human being for just that — connecting, alone. It also makes us fearful, competitive, cagey. And in the process we’re definitely poorer for it.

Some part of my mind was cracked open by this experience, this brush with strangers who felt nothing like it, this thought post interacting with them. And I hope it sinks deeper and cracks my heart open too.

One year ago: Take a minute, I’ve been sitting here, wondering
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: seeking solitude

Simple

To Wayanad and back home this evening. So, some more Wayanad things:

It rained, but not nearly as much as it should be, or as much as I’d have liked to have experienced.

My heart is full. And still.

The home is coming together beautifully. And my heart fills with: 1) joy to think of how painstakingly and lovingly and with how much grit and determination my father has worked tirelessly, uprooting his entire life in Bangalore, to make this happen. For him, and for us. 2) humility and overwhelming gratitude to think of the number of hands and brains of complete strangers, blood, sweat and tears that have gone into building this home.

Walking into the house for the first time on this trip, looking around, watching masons splashing on cement on a bare wall, I had a moment where I really, fully registered how a home, a building, no matter how big or small, is still a handmade thing. A piece of art. A building together and making a sheer figment of someone’s imagination come true. It kind of blew my mind to think of the scale at which, brick by brick, things come together. How today, three years on from when we went as a family to break the ground and begin work on this piece of land nobody thought could be useful for anything, there now stands this magnificent home. A home, I think is amongst, if not the best, my dad’s finest creative work.

It’s taken many hands, many heads, many weeks and months of tireless confluence of energies, lots of hiccups and pitfalls, but to finally see it in it’s near-finished form, made me very, very happy.

I’ve seen this piece of land so many times before, and we’ve obsessed over the view through all stages of the making of this home, again and again and again, we’ve imagined it, hyped it, dreamed of it, built it up in our heads — but this was the first time it took my breath away like it did. Maybe it was because it’s the first time I was in a room, surrounded by walls, a super high ceiling, with this view in front of me created a different sense of space — of belonging — that it hit me the way it did.

We stayed on site on site, this time around in the parts of the home that are complete. It was such a thrill to be totally out of network coverage, so I mostly forgot about my phone. Pitch black darkness and just the sound of crickets after sundown makes for a kind of desolate and off-the-grid like I don’t witness otherwise. Simple, home-cooked meals eaten so early we were all in bed by 8.30 pm on all nights, in utter silence and total darkness all around, was topped by waking up to the rain-dappled morning sunlight. Forest sounds, birdsong, watching turtles frolicking in a pond — it’s a bit surreal to think this is what morning is like in a corner of the peninsula not too far from home.

The kindle did its thing and I finished two books in two days. That’s what happens when the day expands, time stands still and the world is forgotten. It’s nice to think I now have access to a spot thats not a “holiday” spot and experience this degree of remote now.

It was also nice to be with amma and anna, away and in peace, just us. This hasn’t happened in years, and to think this sort of unplanned trip gave me this opportunity to just be, unconsciously cocooned, is heartwarming. I enjoyed it thoroughly, we shared a room, cooked and ate our meals together, drove all around the little village, listened to music and drove all the way back to Bangalore together today. Things were absurdly simple. And easy.

So yeah, my heart is full. And still.

One year ago: Nobody really likes us, except us
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: Bangalore sky-porn

Three years ago: Begin

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

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