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

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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

Day 122: Acts like summer and walks like rain

I woke up to the sounds of a crazy storm and heavy downpour yesterday. For days it’s been threatening to come, while the air around has been feeling like a pressure cooker. Other parts of the city have had tremendous amounts of rain, but not us. Not until yesterday morning, when it came seemingly out of the blue, with a crack and a bang and a good half an hour’s torrential rain.

It felt good to begin the day, a new year with a proverbial cleaning of the slate. Everything wiped down and fresh for a new start.

VC gave me the best gift, a birthday reading that was accurate, heartfelt and life-affirming.

This is the third time in four days that the Bodies of Water card has showed up at me. I’ve been feeling emotionally raw and a bit all over the place, and the card has asked time and again that I retreat to recharge my batteries.

Apt, because I leave for Goa tonight and Ive been looking forward to this time away for weeks now.

The second card too, is telling. A reminder to stop worrying and keep the faith. But the real affirmation for me are the haathis that flank the card.

I had a day filled with an outpouring of love. The thing is, while I love my birthday and the idea that it’s my day to begin again, I’m not into being the centre of attention. I don’t quite know what to do with it, so I much prefer sticking to familiar ground, spending it with VC or my folks.

However, yesterday I was touched by how many calls and messages I got from the most unexpected people.

My MIL baked me this insanely delicious chocolate cake with layers soaked in strawberry compote. But the icing on the cake — literally! — was this topper she made.

I was so extremely touched to see this, a well kept secret that my MIL laboured over for three days.

After an extra long nap, some chores and tying up some loose ends at home before I go away, my sister, VC and I indulged in a little “pre gaming” — an interesting concept to learn about at the ripe old age of 34.

What was meant to be a quiet dinner at Burma Burma then ended up being a night of hopping places.

Wandering around 12th main wondering why it’s packed as fuck and omgwhereareallthesepeoolegoing on a Tuesday night, we settled for drinks at Fatty Bao before dinner at Burma Burma (which had a 45 minute waiting even at 7.45 pm) followed by really, really sinfully good gelato at Milano.

It’s not often that VC agrees to get our and go as far as Indiranagar to begin with. That he did so on a weeknight, was enthusiastic to hop places and stay up beyond 10.30 was too good an opportunity to pass.

And so we found ourselves on a desolate stretch if CMH road with no taxis to be found. Wonder of wonders, it was an auto that saved the day. No haggling, no astronomical quotes, a simple demand of “one-and-a-half” and we were on our way back.

I like a surprise like this. When the day turns out anything but the way you imagine it will. Better yet, you have no expectations at all, so everything from there on is a surprise, an excitement and a joy.

I ended the day too happy to sleep. Which is a good place to be.

34 feels rather promising, from where Im at right now.

I’m grateful for life. For another birthday. For my husband (who wished me 34 times), for my family, for my sister. For the love and all the togetherness, especially given the sense of foreboding and unexplained loneliness that has clouded my mind this past week.

And, I’m thankful for cake.

Day 114: Just a stirring in my soul

This past week has been all about my grandmother who is visiting. It so happened that my parents were both away for four days and my sister and I ended up being home. I haven’t had this kind of time to spend, close to my grandmother, in years and years.

I’m grateful for the time we had. The meals we cooked and shared. The mangoes we gorged on. The conversations we had. For the energy and spirit she has well into her 80s. For the trooper that she is, enthusiastic and light at heart. Always ready for some fun. And if it involves a good meal and dessert, she’s all in. Always.

I’m so grateful for family. For serendipitous summer togetherness. Just like when I was younger and we’d visit my grandparents in Mumbai.

I’m grateful for the turning of tables and being given the chance to look after her, the way she has, us for nearly all our lives.

One year ago: More books (and a mini Bangalore update)

Day 103: I got mad, mad love

This past week, I felt immensely grateful for all the work coming our way. We had multiple meetings, an unusually high number of leads land open up out of the blue, and a fun and satisfying shoot on hand.

I am so grateful for the luxury of being our own bosses, reporting to nobody but ourselves, planning our days the way we want, doing the work we love most days. And I’m so thankful for the clarity and for being on the same page about the value of time we both need off. And the ability and privilege to take it when required.

I’m grateful for the shift in my definition of being busy/productive and for new clarity, new boundaries and new realisations in this respect.

I’m very, very grateful for my family. Especially my mother who keeps the “normal” going when I hit these busy spurts. I’m thankful for the hot home-cooked meals, her concern for how we may be overworking ourselves, and for her comforting company when I am chilling at home. And my sister for her endless love, warmth, entertainment, and ability to make me laugh and cook a darn good meal.

I’m so thankful for VC for having taken the professional calls he has these past few months. It’s not always immediately apparent, but I love when things slowly work out for the best. Being in that spot watching it unfurl is lovely.

I’m thankful for coffee. It’s been such a booster every morning this week.

I’m thankful for the beer and dinner with S, despite threats of being unavailable to meet me before June. And the unbelievably fantabulous (non-alcoholic and veggie) dinner she and I managed to catch with the other S. Burma Burma, if you’re interested to know.

I’m grateful for the connections that were rekindled quite unexpectedly this past week.

I’m thankful for N and our sporadic intense conversations. I love the ease with which we can take to whatsapp with our bouts of verbal diarrhoea and unburden/unload, knowing fully well that we may not get immediate responses, but when we do they will be conscious, heartfelt and thought-through. In these days of limited engagement, and wanting to only really talktalktalk about a handful of things, I am grateful for this channel being always open.

I’m grateful for my kindle.

Two years ago: Day 103: Lucid

Day 97: Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow

I’m thankful for having been introduced to the idea of being in agreement with the diverse, imperfectly-perfect, non-uniform, never-in-our-control, queer ways in while life sometimes unfolds.

I’m thankful for how much room for acceptance, how much courage to change my mind it has allowed. And I’m thankful for how much unexpected warmth and camaraderie that has opened up for me.

I’m grateful for the opportunity for a do-over, to be able to see things in a new light, and to allow this considerable opening of my very own narrow mind.

Two years ago: Day 97: Maybe I’m finally making my peace with being mediocre

Day 94: Because everything is never as it seems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 89: Please press pause, and try again

Still in the hospital, but things are slowly on the mend. On the bright side of it all is lots of peace and quiet, long hours of sitting in one place. We know what that means:

Two years ago: Day 89: Letting it go

Day 88: Trust me on the sunscreen

Thinking of sunny days and all the positive thoughts I can, sitting in the hospital with my very ill sister this morning.

I’ll be back soon.

Two years ago: Day 88: Fam-jam

Day 71: Everyday is blue Monday

How many of you watch This Is Us? How many of you got into Season 1 really gung-ho, hook like and sinker? And how many of you watched Season 2 and wondered where is this going?

*raises hand*

Yearrp, it’s going that typical route where, right after they’ve grabbed your attention with the first season that hits ohhmagad, all the right spots, season 2 dwindles in the doldrums leaving you restlessly guessing which way it will go. That’s talent too — keeping things stuck in the middle, with just enough promise to lure viewers back from the edge of completely giving up hope, but also sufficient disappointment that makes them wonder week after week why they’re still at it. And yet they’ll keep coming back for more.

I’m a classic example of that kind of viewer. Once I’ve started something, and if it does the trick for me in some part, I want to see it through to the end. I’ve wasted so much time and energy on once-promising-but-just-average books and TV shows that fit the bill.

I’m still desperately hoping This Is Us doesn’t fall into this category. Because I’ll give the show this, it has touched on an excellent set of themes. The writing is top notch in that they’ve nailed the flashback as a vehicle of storytelling. They writers have absolutely cracked the right balance of drama, suspense and heartrending segues between timelines, clutching at just the perfect inflection points in every single characters life that somehow threads the family together. This is why I actually really got into the show, the storytelling grabbed me right off the bat. The relatable emotional plot was of course a big bonus. But that’s the bit that’s beginning to now get on my nerves. The story feels like it is beginning to now drag out. With the plot moving ahead half a centimetre with every episode, it’s beginning to feel a touch monotonous. And the very traits and elements of each character that made them relatable, now make me want to hate them. Simply because I can no longer relate. I just want Kevin to deal with his daddy issues, like really deal with them rather than keep reminiscing, for example. And I just want something big to happen in Rebecca’s life already. And I want to Randolph to have some more depth and dimension than just being the near-perfect man that he is.

This is all to say, This Is Us is getting boring, and lesser and lesser relatable. I hope it’s just a time wasting tactic to stretch us out to the end of this season (tomorrow!) which if I know TV at all, will end on some sort of surprise note so we’ll have to wait for the next season for all the action to resume, and the plot to get a little more nuanced.

Right now, though, I’ll say it’s not looking promising. But once can hope.

That said, as I speak of one TV show that’s draining my energy, I many have cut the cords with the other show that was previously in it’s place — Grey’s Anatomy. I realised it’s been a year since I watched it. I’m not sure how that happened, but I tried to catch up on it on Hotstar and I just couldn’t get through a single episode of that last season. So I’ve finally given up. Huzzah!

Last week, which was a bit of a bum week spent mostly catching up on sleep and being a touch unrooted, I took a little break from the obsessive reading and watched Big Little Lies, for a change. And omg, you guys, the unthinkable has happened. I actually have found one instance where the a TV show is better than the book it is based on.

I’ve already said, I didn’t care much at all for the book. It was strictly below average, which made me wonder why everyone loved it. But the show! It takes a very simple, superficial set up, and elevates it to something so much more nuanced, and real (okay, the lives and situations are a bit OTT, but the resulting emotions are raw and real).

Each of the women is a strong character. Strong in a very unique and different way for each of them. The show really unpacks the layers of the various situations women find themselves in, as mothers who tie the family together, single mothers, business women, successful women who’ve chosen motherhood at the cost of their careers, pursuing perfection and uprightness in all that they do. And in depicting the nuances, it really goes deep into the vulnerabilities and sensibilities of women folk. That is touching, emotionally captivating and very telling.

As you know, it also deals with themes like sexual harassment, domestic abuse, bullying, the former of which is dealt with in a way that evoked a very visceral reaction in me

The story gets really catty, and that made me a bit uncomfortable, but that was the intention I guess, as a set up for the finale, which if you’ve read the book, you know how it goes. The show does a spectacular job of taking a very passe, regular picturisation and builds it into a strong end that makes a point. It got me all choked up.

Next up, A Handmaid’s Tale. Even before I read the book, yes.

***

Last week went by in a bit of a daze. Like I said, it was catch up week that saw me just trying to tie up loose ends at work, and catch up on piled up work. It was an odd week, one where lots happened, yet I can’t seem to say what, when I look back on it.

This week, I’m looking forward to being with my sister again! She was away for two weeks travelling on work, and returns today. So I’m off to spend the evening with her and mum, right after I post this!

I’m also extra, extra stoked that this is the week I will be going back to school, so to speak. I’ve signed up for a year long course in an exciting system of therapy. This is me diving in to what I think I need the most right now. This is me choosing to delve into into the theroetical side of things, and basically signing myself up for a year of intense therapy. I cannot wait. I have a set of new pens bought, and a brand new notebook N gifted me, all set.

I’m as excited to be back in a space of learning and development as I am to be doing things like essays, homework and self study.

My Monday’s been good to me. How about you?

Two years ago: Day 71: Pretending to be brave

Day 65: Let’s get one thing straight now

This week, I’m looking back on the last 7-10 days, and it’s all a bit fuzzy and disjointed. I can’t remember many bits of it. And I can’t put the pieces that I do remember, back together. I’m thankful for the quick catch-up I managed to squeeze in with Amma and Niyu at Koshys.

I’m grateful for the constant lessons. For the privilege that is a safe distance from institutions that hold no meaning to me. For the vision to see things clearly, the awareness to separate the grain from the chaff.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to travel. The time with VC in a week that was otherwise written off to a lot of community living.

I’m grateful for dinner we had with S and the kids.

I’m thankful for all the breakfasts we’ve been catching out, thanks to early morning shoot schedules and getting out of the house earlier than we usually do.

I’m thankful for this convenience that definitely makes being in Bangalore lovely, for all of those seven minutes until I’ve consumed what’s in my plate.

I’m thankful for having squeezed in some much-needed down time at the parlour. Im thankful for L who has always been so generous and gentle and so good at whatever service I’ve opted for. I’m sad she’s leaving.

I’m thankful for the haircut I got. And the fact that I’ve found a reliable hairdresser rather close to home that doesn’t require me to break the bank every time I need a cut.

I’m thankful for the electric heat pad, the wonder that is Swiggy and dinner with S, D and VC, that was a huge bonus this past weekend that I spent largely in bed, either in pain or catching up on sleep.

I’m thankful for the good-book streak I’ve hit upon and how much I’ve been able to enjoy the reading. I’m thankful for the peace.

One year ago: Whisky-shisky

Day 64: I still remember, when we did not know the answers

We woke up last Monday morning to the news that VC’s grand mother had passed away. After weeks and months of silently suffering and fighting natural, age-related degeneration, her passing was in fact a relief. Peace for granny, relief for her caregivers who were growing increasingly distressed at having to watch her suffer, without having any more solutions to offer. What can you do to slow down the natural process of ageing, after all?

VC and I had visited her just the previous morning, and though she’d been largely bed-ridden for the last five years, it was all kinds of heartbreaking to watch her motionless that Sunday morning, her eyes refusing to make contact even though we knew and felt she was willing them to, her breathing heavy and shallow, panting gasping and holding on to the last dregs of life. I left that morning, with a silent prayer that her suffering ends sooner than later.

In that sense, it was an expected eventuality, but no matter how prepared one is, when the finality of death of hits, with the swift thud of a weight that’s been threatening to drop for weeks, it takes the wind out of you. And it feels just as distressing and tragic, like an unfortunate end that took you unawares.

Death has a strange way of spurring families into action. And for the first time ever, I saw a teeny-tiny benefit of how useful the joint-family set up can be at times like this. At home, granny lived surrounded by her sons and their (growing) families, which means she was looked after by her sons, devoted daughters-in-law, doting grandchildren, their spouses, and the next generation too. A whole brood of little, great grand children that she fawned over. Her home almost always had someone sitting with her, keeping her company. And this remained true till she breathed her very last breath.

As two people who have stepped away from this big family set-up, the establishment so to speak, that continues to thrive at home, I found myself at a vantage position. I observed how quickly everyone sprung to action and how much easier it was to mobilise things with all the extra hands to help in striking off duties that required doing, rites that needed fulfilling, and in between it all being there for each other, lending a shoulder, consoling, praying and keeping it together. It warmed my heart in a way I didn’t think VC’s family could. I recognised how it was all possible because they live within mere footsteps of each other, the doors of their homes almost opening one into the next.

Almost in the same breath, though, I realised how taxing the very same system can be. How unequal, one-sided, skewed and deeply, deeply patriarchal it all is. How the men automatically relegate themselves to matters of rites and rituals that women are patently kept away from, while women swiftly slipped into action taking care of cleaning up, getting food organised and playing host to visitors who came in to offer condolences.

As a woman rather unaccustomed not just to this sort of conventional division, but also very unaware of the customs and mores, the “right” things to say, the “right” way to behave, I watched part aghast (that this reality exists within a single degree of separation from me), part relieved (that I am sufficiently distanced from it), but very, very distressed at how much more taxing a system that ostensibly is about togetherness, is on women folk alone.

As we drove to the funeral, VC and I wondered aloud about being so ill-equipped to handle a situation like this. Not only am I not mentally or emotionally prepared for what death brings, but I am completely clueless about the motions that follow. Watching the family silently ticking things off that invisible list of things that need to be done when an elderly person in the family passes on made me wonder where is this list, what goes on it, how is it passed on and how will we ever know?

***

I barely knew granny. A language barrier posed a significant challenge in our chance to get to know each other. But that aside, I have always been the misfit daughter-in-law of the home. In the year I lived in the home, every morning I’d leave for work, feeling like I was defying generations and years of expectations that had been imposed on me. I carried the guilt of it for many years later.

When I visited from Goa, I’d be sure to go say hello, take her blessings, but it probably didn’t help that I showed up sometimes with blue streaks in my hair, sometimes wearing a dress that ended above my knees, no bangles on my wrists, no diamonds in my ears, and eventually with a pixie cut that she just laughed at, straight in my face. Every time that I’d visit, she’d forcefully tell me it was time to have a child, and I’d give her the same plain-vanilla answer, “It’s not what I want, so there’s likely not going to be a child.”

None of this made her happy, I’m sure. So I can’t say I had a real relationship with her. But she was adorable in that way grannies are, and I suppose she had made an impact somewhere in my life because I surprised myself when I realised I was crying quite uncontrollably when her body was carried off to the crematorium.

Go well, mummy. We may not have gotten to know each other too well, but you lived a long, full and blessed life and I’m fortunate I got to witness some part of it.

***

The traditional prayer meeting saw VCs entire extended family come together. It gave me the chance to meet so many people; uncles, aunts, cousins, children for the first time since our wedding ten years ago. Having moved to Goa within a year of getting married, and shutting ourselves off in a place that was conveniently located away from the grid, we escaped most family shindigs. It worked very well for us. We always had work keeping us busy, and even if we wished to attend family dos, Goa isn’t the most convenient place to just up and go from.

So it was oddly nice to be together, touch base again, now that we’re here and possibly will run into family more often (than we’d even like!).

As per custom to close all business operations, we shut shop for three days. On Thursday, though, we left for a shoot close to Salem. What was meant to be a one-day shoot, turned into two days because a- it was more extensive than we imagined and b- the exhaustion of the week finally caught up with us and neither of us wanted to drive back the same night.

***

We returned on Friday night, I was totally disoriented. My routine has been shot to bits, and that always makes me feel a bit rootless. The weekend was spent largely catching up. With unanswered emails, meetings waiting to happen, and assignments lying unfinished. It’s Monday, and I’m still feeling a bit out of sync, but plodding on in the hope that just getting on with it will bring that rhythm back.

Two years ago: Day 64: Because I want to remember

Day 2: Gratitude. That is all.

It’s just the second day of the year and already we’ve had a super moon. Silly me, it didn’t occur to me to check that first, while I pondered about the sudden surge in emotions and the very contemplative mood I’ve been in. The last month has been a lovely end to a rather special year. A month of deliberate silence, lots of stolen quiet time, enough busyness with work, plenty of socialising, food drink and cheer and to top it, some really needle-pushing realisations that have given me some much needed clarity and reassurance right in time for the new start. It’s made me look back at the absolute ride that 2017 was and my heart is full like it hasn’t been in a long time. Combine that with the obvious new-start shininess that has kicked in and I’ve been a bundle of gratitude for a few days now.

I’ve been wanting to take stock of all that I am thankful for. A couple of nights ago under a misty sky with a moon so bright, it allowed no stars to shine thru, I realised with humbling coherence that the only steady, unflinching, silent, unwavering and absolutely constant support I’ve had this year has been my family. My parents, VC and my sister have consciously (when I vocally asked for help) and unconsciously (by just being there and giving of themselves) seen me through a year chock-full of uncertainties. The morning after, I woke up feeling content and utterly filled with gratitude.

There are umpteen reasons why moving to Bangalore made, and continues to make, sense. Depending on various variables and situations we’ve thought this back and forth and through to the heavens and back a bazillion times over. Sometimes it is to reassure ourselves of the decision, sometimes it is to find reserves of courage to plod on, sometimes it’s to take stock and see where we’ve come. All of the time, though, I pat myself on the back for how we managed, and I feel grateful it’s worked out. But really I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t acknowledge the kind of help I got. I’d be doing the entire move and the effects it had on me such a gross disservice if I didn’t acknowledge how much therapy for my soul it has been to just been in such close proximity to my family.

I mentioned finding belonging yesterday and this has been the missing piece in the puzzle that I’ve only recently uncovered. Whether it’s the daily home cooked meals I enjoy with my parents, the sharing of workspacebwitb my sister, being just around the corner from my mother, or always having a home to come too even when the city still deceives me with its homeliness, I’m convinced that this pivot in my life came at the right time, and for reasons I didn’t fully understand earlier.

Now, I do.

It’s late, we’ve just touched down in Bangalore after a long drive back from holiday, and I want to get this post out before I call it a day, so this acknowledgment of gratitude will have to do for now. But I will be taking stock and giving thanks soon. It’s such an important part of moving on and stepping ahead, I don’t want to miss out.

For tonight, this is gratitude for where I’m at, and excitement for where I’m going.

Two years ago: Day 2: Love

What coming home feels like: making friends edition

When I was preparing to move to Bangalore, I wondered about feeling lonely and isolated in a city of nameless faces. I didn’t particularly fancy the thought of making friends all over again. Nor did I want to continue my streak of people-less-ness. Much of the urge to get out of Goa was bolstered by the promise of new people. I’d grown rather jaded of the company I kept and was seeking a fresh energy and some new faces. And yet, 33 isn’t the most appropriate age to venture out into the school yard, to scope cliques and meekly gauge which one to attempt to break into.

I felt at sea in matters of people-ing because it’s just been so long since I had to go out and make an effort in this regard. Specially since the last decade or so I’ve had things just happened — people have come and gone from my life, connections were effortlessly made and lost with equal ease — without any active pursuing on my part. Not to make friends, and not in keeping them either. I’ve let a lot of people just go. So making friends felt daunting.

Wh is friendship in adulthood such an intimidating proposition?

However, in yet another unexpected turn, things have been strangely easy on the people front. Ironically, while I still continue to struggle to come to terms with many other things about this city (including some aspects that I thought would be a good change) it’s the people who have been pleasantly warm and welcoming.

I’ve already said coming home gave me the opportunity to reconnect with old friends that I’d sworn I would never go back to, and how comforting it is to just be in the same city as the best of my friends. But that apart, there’s a third set of people-ings that I’m so happy to have stumbled on. It’s the new and unexpected friendships I’ve made. Through friends, through older connections, through people who know people. And happily, so many of these connections have brewed over home cooked meals. I’m more than grateful for these folks who just easily opened their homes up, invited me over and cooked some splendid, memorable meals.

There have been multiple such events. With D, I thulped Goan sausages and bread like it was my last meal ever. A cooked me this stunningly simple but high on flavour Andhra meal, from recipes of her very own cookbook complete with a spicy and heady bone broth that kicked my cold out of the way. With N and D I ate baingan bhartha, chapaties laced with carrots and some gluten free bread because I’ve been off carbs lately.

Each that I’ve shared a meal, hanging out over hearty hot food, huddled around a table, cross-legged on the floor crouched over a plate laden with goodies — something opened up for me.

This past weekend I ate what will go down as yet another incredibly tasty, beautifully put together meal, at yet another table in the home of someone I didn’t know just a few months ago.

It was a large, painstakingly out together array of Andhra food. And again, I felt grateful for the opportunity. For the warmth, the openness and the joy of sharing a meal.

There’s something about honest, homely food cooked straight from the heart, that reaches right inside and touches my soul.

Same time, last year: Day 257: Down and up again

What coming home feels like: kinship, quietude and becoming

With four months in Bangalore now behind me, I find myself taking stock. I’ll be honest, Bangalore is not a silver bullet to the complicated “where do we go from here” situation VC and I had been in for many months. So much about this city, the people, life here, my neighbourhood, that I have in fact returned (which has given me fresh eyes to look at many of the same things I grew up seeing), the people I used to know, the people I now know, often surprises me — both pleasantly and some times jarringly. Some times I’m irked or frustrated. There’s a lot about life in Bangalore, when compared to Goa, that really annoys me. And some times I have moments of utter clarity, when I know why I am here.

Everyday, though, slowly and calmly, I’m adjusting to it. I find myself still just coping, getting by from one day to the next. But, (and I suspect this is the newfound adult in me talking) I’m making peace with it. By focusing on what I came here for — familiarity, security and kinship — which thankfully, I don’t have to go very far out (or brave the maddening traffic) to find.

The key has been to find a rhythm and balance. To go it one step at a time. Gently stringing together days of hope, punctuated by pops of stillness, weeding away my fears one at a time.

I’ve found new meaning in making peace. I’ve realised it isn’t a shiny thing that you just find and hoard. It takes cultivation, active seeking and building bit by bit. And it takes practice. In doing things to create it for myself I’ve found a strange inner satiety (for the lack of a better term) I can’t name, a warm quietude in the pit of my heart, taking over me.

There, in the depths of the addictive, gummy, don’t-want-to-let-go-of-it peace is the reason why despite all the madness and recurring chaos this change has brought externally, I’m finally happy to be where I am.

Before I moved I had a long list of pros that I enumerated in convincing myself that coming back to the city wouldn’t be as scary as I imagined it would be. That list featured many things my life in Goa didn’t allow — friends and more work topped it. But today, irony is having the last laugh, as I slowly slip deeper and deeper into accepting the real place I want work to have in my life. That, and the fact that I haven’t met or hung out with my friends nearly as much as I imagined we would.

In a brief moment of introspection the other day, I realised that on a literal day-to-day level, my daily routine, the motions of every day life here, is not even a little bit different from what it was before. I still spend a bulk of my time alone, at home. Either working, or reading, cooking, catching up on things I want to. The only difference is, in Goa, I was alone for the most part. Here I have the constant company of my parents and my sister through the day, VC – post work hours, and his family when we go over to visit (which is shockingly more often than we imagined it would be). I cannot begin to describe how much I needed this.

All my life I’ve been running, escaping the present in search of something or the other. Even up until I upped and left Goa. For the first time, choosing to stay is coming easily. All that I am in search of is right here, within the walls of this place I call home.

And this has been the change I needed. The one I feared. It was never about this city or the next. Or where better work opportunities lay.

I’ve never been good with change, I’ve said this numerous times before. But perhaps it isn’t change I needed to fear. I’ve realised that it isn’t change itself, in it’s purest form, that is challenging. It is my own resistance to blend and bend, my uncontrollable need to control and own it, my urge to plan and fight the inevitable that creates rigid, inflexible periods of pain and flux.

For the longest time I shunned the sense of continuity, of eternity, the word home brings. And here’s the thing — home used to be the place that binds me. The space I fled some years ago. And yet, today, it is that same space that has set me free.

I’m completely absorbed in making the most of this opportunity I’ve been presented, when after a decade of being in different cities, my family is under one roof again. I’m greedily taking in the comfort of being surrounded by the silent company of people I love. People who get me. People. Just hanging out. Doing simple everyday things. Going about our daily lives, just together.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to meet my friends often, all the time. But this has been the most painful realisation of stepping back into the city life. Nobody has the time. And because even a simple catch up takes time and effort, nobody owes you that time or effort. It sounds naively idealistic when I hark back to the simpler life I had in Goa, when I say it was just truly so much easier to get out and get going. Whether with friends or alone. Granted, I didn’t have as many real people whom I could truly call my people, but it was very uncomplicated to meet. It’s bittersweet to realise I’m in the same city as all my people, and we’re still more in touch on whatsapp than in person. But it is the way it is. I have no complains.

It’s the nature of life here that involves navigating through the biggest hurdle of all, the traffic, which ridiculous as it sounds, dictates all schedules. Every outing involves planning, a predetermined plan of action, and some amount of praying that things go to said plan. I’m never really fully sure if a pre-committed engagement is going to actually materialise, until it does. I’m still not used to the significant coordination and pre-planning that goes into orchestrating even the simplest of outings. And that is when I sorely miss my life in Goa where getting out was as easy as that – getting. out.

Anyhow, before this sounds like a litany of painful comparisons and like I’m complaining, let me say, I’m merely acknowledging what I’ve come to realise and how it has made me feel – a bit disappointed. On the other hand, it has forced me into a very comfortable shell. And in retrospect, I realised this is the place I needed most to be. At home. Literally, if I think about my folks’ place where I spend most of my days, and figuratively, when I think of the sense of feeling at one, or at home, in my own mind.

There is an ever pervading feeling of gratitude I feel for where I am. A feeling I didn’t know I was missing all along. It comes in dense doses that swoop in and sit snugly in the base of my heart. Heavy, leaden but bright and luminous.

When I try and talk about what I feel, I cannot find the words to quantify or describe the quality of that peaceful gratitude. At first I was unable to find the words, and it crippled me in moments of excitement and wanting to share it.

Nowadays I find myself not wanting to necessarily talk about, describe or even share it.

That in itself has brought a sense of calm.

This, is honestly the best I have felt in all my life. Happy, healthy and balanced — right into the depths of my very soul.

I’m not too big on Nayyira Waheed’s works, but this poem really hit the spot.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this. It took leaving a seemingly quiet life, where I had a noisy fire raging within, to move to the madding urban existence. It took giving up the exclusivity and embracing being lost in the cacophony of crowds. It took leaving the home I thought I’d never leave, to come back to the place I never thought I’d return. To assuage that fire. And find the peace I never knew I was missing.

The key has been to find a rhythm and balance. To go it one step at a time. Gently stringing together days of hope, punctuated by pops of stillness, weeding away my fears one at a time.

Perhaps then this wasn’t a homecoming, but a becoming.

Same time, last year: Day 221: On the road