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

 

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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

Day 275: In the nick of time

I thought I might have finally hit a day when I’ll miss posting but, phew I’ve made it just in time.

It’s been a bit of a hectic day. I woke up to a phone call from Niyu that required us to rush to the hospital. And the rest of the day went in figuring out a health hiccup, visits to diagnostic labs and back to the hospital. A process that ought to have been smooth and simple, but apparently their working hours are affected on public holidays. So it ended up being unnecessarily long-winded. Then there was some battling the pressure hospitals put on you to “admit the patient”, without giving you a clear sense of the accuracy of the urgency and criticality of the situation. So there was a few dozen calls made back and forth to doctors, and my parents, and second and third opinions. And before I knew it the day was done.

I was so fortunate to have VC at home, he’s largely working from home this month, my father anyway on his way down from Kerala, my mum who is all the way across the globe who pretty much stayed up all night intermittently messaging to keep tabs on the situation, a dear aunt who immediately made some calls and hooked me up with the right doctors and sent me delicious home cooked food without my asking for it, and my MIL who showed up with cash, food and moral support.

I’m always amazed at a) how we’re constantly pushed into spaces we’re afraid to face. I’m absolutely shit at dealing with medical emergencies. I’m a complete wuss and am quite capable of turning into the patient instead of being there for the real patient. And b) how help just flows every time I most need it. Even with the exhausting back and forth, the day was much smoother than it would have been if we were on our own. Eternal gratitude for the way things always work out.

I’ll have to call it a day with just this today. This isn’t much of a post, but it’ll have to do. Season three of This Is Us is out, and I’m going to veg out for a bit before I go to bed. Tomorrow looks like a long day too, with some doctors visits in the morning and then I begin the next module of my course for three and a half days after. I really should go steel myself and rest my brain a bit.

One year ago: What colour is your sky?

Day 242: Whatever you believe, it could be real

This past weekend, we had a Sunday lunch. A hearty, hearty one for more reasons than one. My sister had us over for lunch to her home that she has just moved to, sharing it with two other friends. It was a warm, delightful afternoon of food cooked entirely by them, of produce almost entirely grown in the kitchen garden in the home.

I love a crowded table — crowded with people and crowded with food. My parents, VC and I joined in the three of them who share a home, along with two others who were visiting. We sat around the long table, with extra chairs dragged in, digging in to the absolutely delicious spread that they’d cooked together, which included a 10-hour braised lamb stew (which they began cooking the previous evening!), multiple salads, stir fried veggies, a kickass platter of mushroom and spinach patties, and two dips to go with it.

So hearty. The afternoon left me so high and happy. This is a bunch of kids I’ve known since my sister was in grade 1. I’ve watched them grow, through various stages of development over the last two decades — not a number one actively keeps track of, no? Life gets ahead and the years roll by, until suddenly an event like this makes you stop and register how long it has been. Three of these “kids” running a bigass home on their own, cooking this bigass meal and having us over — it was so wonderful to witness.

I wondered about how if I felt so overwhelmed at the developments, the reality and weight of the passage of time is probably even more harsh and enunciated for my parents who have near two decades on us.

That afternoon, I realised that my parents are about the most resilient and giving people I have had the privilege of knowing. They truly live the live-and-let-live life by example, and have let us free to run amok, whenever we wished, and wished us well as we set off on our own.

There is a sense of liberation and satisfaction in watching your young ones grow and turn into adults, I’m sure. I’m not even a parent, but being the older sibling comes close. My heart brims over when I see my sister thrive, when her little fledgeling art education project goes places and when I see her satisfied and happy. Seeing her hit milestones like this — having her own place — makes me so happy. But to see my parents, as they’re able to be a part of this growing up, alongside us, let us go yet hold us close enough to sit at the same table and witness our joy and partake. To be a part of this evolution, close at hand. It’s made me very aware of what a special joy and a privilege it is. One that I have not acknowledged before.

This year, more than ever before, I’ve realised the importance of parents. And parenting. As I’ve dropped so much of my own baggage, judgement and misconstrued preconceived notions in this regard, I’ve had the humbling chance to see my parents as people first. It has been eye-opening and heart-filling and given me a very new and satisfying sense of family.

I had the unique chance of flying back right into the heart of the proverbial nest for the second time in my life. I returned to Bangalore, but in reality I returned to a state of mind that I had deferred abruptly, and unfinished phase of growing up that I severed before its time and ran away. Probably to fly out the nest too soon — before my time was done. Before I was ready for new grounds. And I realise it is that resilience about my parents that welcomed me. In many ways I have gone back to being the child. But in so many ways I have bloomed into an adult, who is still the child. In so many ways this feels like the completion of a previously unaccomplished chapter.

As I ready myself to fly out the nest once more, I realise how different everything looks from the way it did last year. And like sunlight streaming through this glass-tiled roof, illuminating all that needs to be seen, I’ve witnessed all the missing parts coming to light. Everything is so lush, and my heart is so full.

Two years ago: Day 242: A morning moment

Day 230: What good is it to live with nothing left to give

Two weekends of class/workshopping and two study meets have brought home one message loud and clear.

It sits front and centre of my entire life right now and I am so ready to finally embrace it in its wholeness.

Family is important. Even those parts that I have not seen or lived. Especially those parts that I have not seen or lived.

We are connected in more ways than I know or realise.

I am so much more than the sum total of my body, mind and soul. I carry my family with me in ways I am incapable of fully understanding.

In belonging and connecting with this family, I need not lose any part of myself.

I can be connected, even as I grow and move my separate way.

Starting a ritual to acknowledge this and remember it every single day has been on my mind and today I realised it is something I want to do immediately.

I’m not fully sure how or what I want to do as yet. But I’m going to figure something out pronto.

This is gratitude for my family. For generations before and after. For all that we bring and carry with us. For all that people have held so we can move on and ahead. For life, love and this sense of connection.

Two years ago: Day 230: How many days

Day 194: Long as I remember the rain been coming down

I’m glad for all the long drives in the rain. I could very well have been moping for Goa, which is currently getting battered with a heavy monsoon, and I could have been very, very sad for missing it. But I had this instead. And Wayanad got a record high amount of rain and insane gale winds this past week. There were furious flash floods, sinkholes in some parts and much destruction. I have returned feeling very cut down to size, and insignificant in the larger scheme of things — the canvas that has us planning big plans, when really all we need to do is go with the flow.

I’m grateful for the chance to go tripping with my father. It’s been years since it was just us, and as anticipated, it was quiet, but fun and gave me plenty to make new connections, think about and create memories from.I am a lot more like my father than I have cared to notice. In him, I see my own underlying zest to live life in a way that seems questionable by conventional standards. I know now that it is from him that I get the spark of willingness to take chances. To take as many chances as I can, whenever I can, if an idea or a desire presents itself. I share with him my absolute inability to understand or even care to understand numbers. He is every bit as eccentric, slightly compulsive and just a dot obsessive about the little details, as I am. He enjoys his food and drink to the level where they are not mere occurrences in any given day, but defining points that can guide which way the day goes.I am grateful for this gene pool.

I am grateful for this opportunity to spend time with him and see up close the sheer scale of this project he’s embarked on. I had a sense, and never doubted his determination to see it through, but to be there in Wayanad with him, seeing how far his home has come, brick by painful brick, enduring months of frustrating oddballs that continue to blindsight him with alarming regularity.Oddly enough, this was a reminder for me to realign my own focus. To go after some of the things I think about wishfully, but brandish without lending them much serious thought because I am also sometimes easily distracted by the pressure to be rational, to make things make sense to everyone around, when really the only person it needs to make sense to is me. To take those chances more often, to put everything on the line for the wildest, most impossible sounding dreams.Driving out into the forest brought, at a silvery 4 o clock, the sunlight a gentle angle casting mellow shadows, while leaves danced around tricking us into believing something moved just beyond the thicket, evoked a huge sense of nostalgia in me. My mind raced back to so many of the long drives we’ve made as a family, and I realised that some of my earliest writing that came from just the very basic need to put down in words what I was feeling, came from these road trips. There was that one short piece I wrote at age 10 or 11, about a pink sunset that engulfed us as we drove straight into it. And the other piece about feeling my heart collapse under the weight of emotions a Bryan Adams song had stirred in me loud and clear. Another one about feeling tiny and weightless under a canopy of banyan trees that leaned over to join hands across the street. I suppose one can say these were some of the milestone moments that set me off to go on to write about every goddamned thing.

I’m grateful for the ability to write.

I’m grateful for snacks. Rainy day snacks. Banana fritters, amongst other things.I’m grateful for this sense of openness that I have felt brewing. Life has opened up. I feel opened up. There is a sense of vastness in everything — from the opportunities I am exploring, to the inner ability to change my mind — and I really, truly feel like a small dot in an ocean, with the world as my oyster. It is empowering and humbling all at once.

I’m grateful for amma who is the glue that keeps us together, even when she is not around. I’m grateful for Niyu who has surprisingly become a source for as much food for my body as my soul. I am grateful for VC who is, just there, solid, all the damn time. And for how he, even at his polar opposite best, is the partner I need. Even when I don’t realise it. Even when I realise it, and don’t acknowledge it.

I am grateful today for my family for everything that they do intentionally and unintentionally for me, with me.

Two years ago: Day 194: Pedalling again

Day 185: One foot in front of the other, babe

This past weekend, we had S and R over for dinner. Niyu came over too and VC and I made pizzas from scratch — homemade whole wheat thin crusts, a slow-cooked tomato sauce, some freshly ground pesto, butter garlic prawns and assorted veg to go on top. Niyu made a cracker of a watermelon and feta salad too. Everything came together so beautifully. Earlier in the day I was overwhelmed. I only began cooking at 3 and had a moment of wanting to throw the towel in because I had bitten off much more than I could chew. Not really — this was actually a simple meal to put together once I broke it down — it’s just been so long since I entertained like this and cooked for more than just VC and me, I had cold feet.

I’m grateful for Niyu. And for the help she always pitches in. I can almost always shut my eyes and leave the salad and/or other components to her and she will not just deliver, but go beyond and wow us.

I’m grateful for the time we spent with R, S and H. It’s nice that we have a space outside of their home, which somehow seems to bring out entirely different sides to them. Everybody loosens up, there is much laughter and chatter, and perhaps the absence of all kinds of policing means everyone lets their guard down.

I’m SO grateful for the new mattress we bought. I’m so glad VC finally just pushed through and took the decision without waiting for me to deliberate or analyse if it was time yet. Our old mattress arrangement (because it wasn’t even a real solid double mattress) goes all the way back to our broke days when we moved to Goa and couldn’t imagine spending double digit thousands on home things. And so we managed. And we managed and we managed for closing in on nine years. I’d probably have managed some more because it was one of those things that hasn’t caused an obvious problem yet. But it’s only in its absence, with the benefit of a far superior alternative that Im realising what we have been missing out on. It’s no wonder that I’ve been having amazing sleep of late.

I’m grateful for CARBS. Oh so so so grateful for them. They have been giving me life these past few weeks. From months of branding them evil, to slowly accepting them again, little by little, I’m now almost fully back to eating carbs as and when I please. And it is so liberating to be eating freely again, without demonizing parts of my food, the meal itself, parts of my body, or myself.

I’m grateful for leftovers. I really, really am.

I’m grateful for the affirmation that I’ve been on. I hadn’t realised it, but what seemed like a surprise set of occurrences in the past few days, was actually directly linked to what I have been affirming to myself everyday.

I’m grateful for the card reading VC obliged me with on Sunday. It was spot on as usual. And of course it featured an elephant. As usual.
And I’m extremely grateful for how he is encouraging me on to go my way. I’ll take a sign when I see one, and I’ll grab it with both hands if VC encourages me to.

I’m grateful for conversations with S this past week, that have been knocking it out of the park as far as getting deep in there and digging in with both hands goes. We met for brunch, with the intention to spend some time painting. Instead, we gabbed and gabbed. While stuffing our faces.
No shying away, no mincing words, no pussyfooting. I love that we can prop each other up and keep each other going in this way.

I’m grateful for this little lesson. It was so needed, and so perfectly timed. And I’m grateful for the little bit of progress I realised I have made.

I’m grateful for some of the things I’ve slowly cultivated this past year that I am only now seeing blooming ever so quietly in ways that are impacting my everyday life: gratitude for the little and big things alike, self-love and opening my heart out a little bit more than what feels comfortable and comes naturally, and a little bit more patience to let things slow down as they must. (This realisation too is an outcome of several conversations I’ve had with S this past week.)

Day 127: Another day, just breathe

Postcard from Goa 4.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to exploit the spoils of my line of work and get some downtime with Niyu.

Two years ago: Day 127: That urban poverty piece that has errrebody’s panties in a bunch

Day 123: Like happiness is the truth

This past week, I’ve been treated to a variety of excellent meals. The food and drink situation has been consistently hitting above optimum levels of satisfaction and has been the thread of happy spots in an up and down week. So, I’m so grateful.

My mother and I have our birthdays just one week apart from each other. So my sister and I orchestrated a very complicated surprise lunch. We cooked a rather elaborate spread at my home (hidden away from amma’s knowledge of course), or eggplant parmigiana, an avocado and mango salad with sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese with a mango salsa dressing, a mushroom and corn quiche and we ordered some cake, invited her friends over and — surprise!

I’m grateful for the opportunity to surprise amma. For being around to celebrate another birthday together. For the lunch we had. The rain that came down that afternoon. The outstanding banoffee cake.

I’m grateful for this late afternoon coffee, had at the end of a rather heavy meal at the club.

I’m SO thankful for this breakfast on a pretty dreary Saturday morning.

We had just checked out a house we really had our eyes set on, but probably cannot have at this point of time. VC and I had a weekend of some very heart to heart, confrontational, honest conversations that had left me feeling very, very edgy and just, raw. There’s nothing like a hearty carb-rich breakfast to soothe that feeling. Right after we thulped this, we watched Infinity War with R and belted a big bucket of popcorn at top speed.

I’m grateful for this palya puff, flaky fly-off-your-mouth pastry encasing a spicy vegetable South Indian style sabji that just hits the spot for those 5 o clock evening hunger pangs. I didn’t intend to eat the whole thing, but once I started there was no stopping and I wolfed the whole thing down.

There’s a whole other level of satisfaction that comes from crispy, unhealthy snacks that hit the spot, when consumed at that perfect moment when you’re not just hungry but craving something as specific as an Iyengar bakery palya puff.

I’m fast becoming a fan of meeting friends over breakfast. For one it’s bright and early, the traffic isn’t as much as yet, people aren’t batshit as yet, there’s more scope to find parking, and there will almost always be eggs.

I met S over a lazy, slow but chatter-filled breakfast the other day. I like when things happen spontaneously, without too much deliberation or high expectations.

It reaffirmed my faith in boundaries, in giving each other space, in allowing for time and room for everyone’s personal journeys, and for having the faith that if paths reconnect, we will only be better for it.

I’m grateful for what I have with S. I now see all our ups and downs, the rough patches, and the extent to which our relationship has changed, for the place they have had and the lessons they have brought to my life. And no matter how I have felt at various points of time, today I understand fully what I love and value in this relationship.

I went home thinking I want to make a weekly ritual of getting out for breakfast. With myself, with friends, over idlis, over eggs, long and lazy, unhurried. The scope is unlimited and when I’m back from Goa, I’m going to begin.

Two years ago: Day 123: Turning 32 and the salt water theory