Advertisements
Tag Archives: My family and other animals

More books (and a mini Bangalore update)

24 Apr

There’s a lot of stuff I had planned for this break. Yeah, roll your eyes. I’m that person who makes a plan even when I’m on a break. The last few weeks before I came to Bangalore have been a blur and in order to focus on some important things on hand, I had completely ignored work, and to a large extent, home too. So I wanted to spend my time here, working in earnest again, get some writing (that’s not work) done, fleshing out some long pending ideas that have been sitting in cold storage and make some short term goals and plans for the months to come. The decision to spend an indefinite amount of time in Bangalore was also spurred by the fact that the emotionally tumultuous phase I’ve been through had me wanting the comfort of home, family, friends and familiarity. Bangalore was the last place on my mind when I thought about taking a short sabbatical from my life in Goa, and somehow after roaming halfway across the globe searching for options that ticked all the boxes for this kind of a break, I found myself booking a one-way ticket to Bangalore, of all places.

This was not part of the plan. The plan was to go away, not return to where I used to be. This was meant to be a month of meandering. A relaxed, routine-free and spontaneous few weeks with no immediate end in sight. At least that was the plan.

It’s how I fool myself into believing I’m in control of things — I make systematic plans and work out intricate routes and systems for the way I want things to move.  But yet again, life has shown me it has it’s own plan, and that in fact so little of it is my doing, or even in my control.

When it comes to plans, I’ve got nothing on life. So, a twist in the tale the moment I landed in Bangalore brought on a completely unexpected turn of events. And I spent the first ten days of my trip (starting from the very next day after I landed) house hunting. More on that later, but all this to say I haven’t had any time to do the things I planned to, and have instead been playing to the tunes of this other plan that’s playing out all on it’s own.

What I have been doing instead, while I wait for brokers, on cab rides between destinations, at the dining table, in between conversations and right before bedtime, is reading a lot more than usual. That has been a welcome change.

(I also realised just now that of late my Instagram has been pictures of books I’m reading and my feet/legs. And sometimes both.)

The High Priestess Never Marries, Sharanya Manivannan
Quite easily the most intense and visceral book I’ve read this year. The High Priestess Never Marries is a collection of 26 short stories about love, longing, lust, desire, relationships — each told from the perspective of women at the heart of the story. Featuring women from diverging backgrounds, social make-up and geographies too, Sharanya Mannivanan presents women hopelessly in love, some deeply committed, some spurned and looking for requital, some flirting with infidelity or polyamory (depending on how you look at it) — and every single story made me stop and question my notion of commitment, fidelity, marriage. Densely packed, beautifully crafted, it was a slow read and I literally had to use the dictionary on every single page. And yet, I gobbled it hungrily. I haven’t had a book grab me and break me slowly, beautifully, enveloping and taking me in more and more with every page, like this book did, in so so so long.

Karachi, You’re Killing Me!, Saba Imtiaz

I picked this because I wanted a quick, light read and I suddenly heard this had been made into a movie (out now!) featuring Sonakshi Sinha, but of more interest to me, Kanan Gill and Purab Kohli. So of course I’m going to be watching it. This is a very light read and delivered on the quick bit too, perfect for the weeks before my visit to Bangalore, when I was busy as hell. This is a little bit like a Pakistani Bridget Jones meets your most typical, cliche chicklit book ever. It has all the right ingredients — a 20-something journalist (who lives in Karachi), lots of angst about where she is in her life, adequate mention of alcohol, partying hard, fashion, high-society, and of course a sweet and very predictable love story woven in. I went in with no expectations, and rather than coming out happy, let’s say I wasn’t disappointed.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer
I was very late to get to this book that has come so highly recommended many, many times over. But I’m so glad I finally got to it, because it was another book I just devoured in record time. Largely because it is written in epistolary form — which is easily my most favourite style. But also because it is such a heartwarming book about books, writing, a writers pursuit for a subject, and the depths to which book lovers and writers go to unravel the secrets within stories we’ve only read in words before.

It’s 1946, in London and through a series of letters exchanged between Juliet Ashton (a writer seeking a subject for her new book) and a man (who becomes her primary source for said subject that completely consumes her) that draws Juliet and readers into a mysteriously wonderful and dream-like world amidst the members of the curiously names Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society. The author, the main character, is . strong, critical woman very aware of her independence and choice, and navigates post-war society with thought, but without losing warmth and grace. The writing is charming and flows easily. The story, even more so.

All Grown Up, Jami Attenberg
I picked this book from this list (yes, it’s yet another list of several compelling titles to now knock off) because the short description was so compelling:

Jami Attenberg’s All Grown Up follows a 39-year-old woman who lives her unconventional life — unmarried and without children — by choice and on her own terms. But when her niece is born with severe birth defects, she is forced to re-examine herself and what being an adult really means. A raw, honest, and often hilarious ride of a novel.

And it did not disappoint. I absolutely, thoroughly loved this book because it was so damn relatable. The writing is tight, super honest and chock full of brutally honest vignettes that any millennial will identify with — from the angst of choosing to earn a living versus following a calling, to carefully cultivating a deluded sense of poverty, to having misguided priorities, to our difficult relationships with our parents, eventually finding our way to and out of therapy, dealing with love, loss and emotional upheaval. Another book that really drew me in and I finished reading in under two days.

I think I read this book at an apt time in my life. After a rather intense burst of therapy, returning to spend a longish period of time at home with my family, reworking notions of my existence and independence vis a vis the part I play in the various relationships I am a part of.

It was also oddly surreal to breeze through this book much the same way I used to breeze through books lying in my bed, spending sunny afternoons peeling back the pages from cover to cover, without a care in the world. This felt like the kind of book that reaffirms your current reality.

It really, really feels great to be home.

Advertisements

Day 319: Homeward bound

14 Nov

There was a time in my childhood when all holiday endings were depressing. No matter how exhilarating the travels had been, heading home and back to normal life was always uninspiring and invariably sent me down a tunnel of sadness. Something changed in adulthood, particularly in my years in Goa, and that sequence of events gave way for a peaceful longing to go back to where I came from that sweeps in at the end of every holiday or travel out of Goa. Going back to base feels like a return to the safety and security of my own turf. Perhaps it is the fact that home is Goa, and that is always pleasant to look forward to. It’s definitely also got to do with the fact that life really began here, and this is really as home as home gets. This is the kind of normalcy I look forward to. Settling into my own bed, showing in my bathroom, pottering about in my bedroom, beginning my days with the view outside my balcony or kitchen window. It’s here that I really understood what they meant when they said there’s no place like home, at a wholly different level.

Could it be that maybe I am just happy with the here and now, for the most part, and that holidays aren’t so much about letting go and running away, as they are about temporary escapes. So returning really doesn’t make me miserable. And my home is a welcoming space. No matter where I’ve been or how far I’ve gone.

Winding down in Thailand too, I was overcome with a sense of peace. I always believe it’s a measure of a satisfying holiday when you’re so content with the time off, that you’re actually looking forward to going home. Except I had a stopover at the original home. I’m here at home in Bangalore right now. The used-to-be-and-will-always-be home. This time though, I was so content with my holiday, if it weren’t for meeting my parents, I’d have happily skipped Bangalore and headed right back to Goa.

But home things are always inviting. Despite being stretched between the in-laws and here this time around, I’m happy for the quiet moments. Colours and corners that will always spell home. Like the flowers in amma’s kitchen window, basking in the afternoon light.

fullsizerender

Frothy hot coffee all day, erryyday.

img_7353

And lazy days safely ensconced in what used to be my room. It looks nothing like it did when I grew up there, but it still feels just like it did so many years ago. My bed is still in almost the same spot, so I feel like I’m transported right back to the exact place I’ve spent all my teenage and growing up years. Sprawled or plonked, either reading, studying, or most likely on the phone.

img_7138

Safe. And at home. This is the one place I return to that always makes me feel like the more things change, the more they really just stay the same.

Day 293: Stuff

19 Oct

Over the last few weeks I’ve been unable to write full, comprehensible posts. I’ve had so much to say. About women and safety, about why I’m learning self defence, about Priyanka Chopra’s utterly vapid Refinery29 interview, about her obnoxious choice of teeshirt for the cover of CNT, about her “beneath the surface” interview (I don’t know why she’s on my radar so much, and I’ve to remind myself to stop clicking on any link that has her name on it because it always makes me raaaage), about my renewed reaffirmed feelings for the girlfriends in my life, and thoughts about those I have let go of, therapy and some surprising facts that it has unearthed. So it has not for the lack of having things to say, but the funk I’ve been in. My brain has felt like it had stalled, performing on half battery for a bit now. But I realise in retrospect that it was probably just the natural course of things, of conserving energy, words, emotions, given that I had so little to spare and what little I did, I wanted to turn inwards, rather than dissipate. Anyway, long story short – it was hard to communicate, write, share. So much remains to be talked about, and maybe I will get to it. In the meantime, here, smatterings of things I’ve thought about journalling, but didn’t get down to.

*****

After absolute years, I’ve felt the need to escape my life. That theory about creating a life you don’t need to escape? Well, after many years of floating along painlessly, I’ve felt the simmering need to change things up again. Escape it for a bit. And I’m taking this as a sign that my life needs change. I’m starting by escaping temporarily. Early next month, I’m off to Bangalore again. This time en route to my holiday. S and I are running off for a week of girlfriend time. It all happened so fast and so unexpectedly. We were planning a trip to Gujarat, and I don’t actually know at what exact point it happened, but destinations changed and tickets were booked faster than I could say maybe-we-should-go-to. It started off being the four of us, and then one of us dropped out, then another, leaving just S and I. Much sad is happening at severely diminished numbers, but c’est la vie. Since our tickets were non refundable, we’re going, in the hope that the other two will be there in spirit. Spirit, heh, get it? Because we will have to drink and eat their share, I suppose. It only seems fair to represent them at the very least, no?

I’m mildly hysterical with excitement now that we are all finally booked, all hotel reservations done and ready to go. It only sank in once I saw all the confirmation emails. We’re going off to an island. We, well I have no plans, except to bum around on the beach, while S plans go diving. We then return to the big city, because it’s the kind of holiday VC and I would never take together. I needed to do it with girlfriends in tow, where the plan is to eat and drink some more. Just that, nothing else. If the past few holidays with the girls are anything to go by I have a fair idea of the shenanigans that will transpire. I realised somewhere in the midst of booking this trip that all my holidays/breaks this year, in and out of Goa, have been with the girls. VC and I haven’t even remotely entertained the idea of taking a break together. Okay, correction, I have entertained the idea, but not acted on it. I don’t think it has even occurred to VC. But that’s okay. Next year, big travel awaits us. (Fuck, did I just say next year?) We’re in that final leg of the year where everything is winding down and some part of me is already looking forward to wrapping up 2016 and moving on.

*****

Holiday aside, I’m looking forward to being home, even if it is just for a couple of days on either side of my holiday. I’m still that baby that wants to go back home to mommy when I’m having a rough time. I just want to tune out from regular programming for a bit, and be looked after. Is there any place other than home for that? I think not. The lack of a laptop means I won’t be taking my work with me. Pure unadulterated home time. I cannot wait.

*****

Speaking of leaving work behind. Something strange happened on the weekend. I worked. I had a sudden burst of inspiration and sat down to finish some stuff that wasn’t even immediately due or anything. I finished a lot of stuff ahead of time. And I realised I’d finished most of my big commitments for the month. With one fun on-going gig to keep me sufficiently occupied for the rest of the month before I go away on my break. Somewhere, in the midst of just trying to stay afloat these past few weeks, I didn’t realise it, but I’d gathered a lot of steam with my work. There’s a clue in there, about work and play and how much of it I need, want and am willing to give myself, that I am looking at. Because it was so good to be in that kind of flow again. The flow that has eluded me for some time now.

*****

My communication woes with editors in India continue. I used to be convinced it was something I was doing wrong, but I’ve been analysing and introspecting on a few utterly bizarre situations with mind boggling communication that I’ve experienced in the last few months, and I’m that close to putting it down to just our Indianness. Too many people at our disposal, we have no value for personal interaction, for giving someone the time of your day, for reaching out just a little bit beyond your call and duty, for preserving personal connections, for being humble. There’s nothing to lose, I realise, one writer moves on, there’s so many more in line. Perhaps editors have nothing to lose? I’m just wagering a guess here. The funny thing is some of these communication trails have been open for almost two months now, and remain unattended. And I’m waiting to see how far this will go before someone gives me a clear answer on each of these.

As an experiment, I haven’t pitched any fresh work with Indian publications in about 6 weeks now. For a while, based on the stark contrasts I find between the work ethic and general level of professional communication styles I find between Indian and Non Indian publications, I’ve feel like this is just the space that we have a lot of learning and growing up to do. And I’m talking about everything here – response time to emails, the tone in which emails are written, the urgency to get work done and out there, the alacrity with which payments are made, a sense of responsibility in fixing a wrong when there is a problem, a complete lack of power play – everything seems to happen with a lot more purpose overseas. People give a shit. I know this sounds like a generalisation, and maybe it is. I am aware that freelancers like me working overseas have their fair share of woes and a lot of them echo the kind of problems we face here, but in my experience so far, which has been fairly wide and varied, I have observed this.

So I’m testing it out with this experiment. Unfortunately, so far, my worst assumptions are coming true. And it is all kinds of disappointing.

*****

This week I had a massive flash from the past and traversed a lot of music from the good old days. Yesterday I went down the Seal-Guns N Roses-Bon Jovi-Def Leppard-Aerosmith trail and when I landed here, I got stuck. Good and proper.

Day 252: Eight

8 Sep

VC, it’s that time of year again. This day wouldn’t be complete without me saying it feels like we only just got together yesterday. Like I’ve done so many times before. But we know the truth. It’s been a decade of knowing you, and in fact the enormity of that truth only sank in only a few days ago. Suddenly I realised we’ve been doing this for an absolute age. A whole damned decade, eight years of which have been spent trying to perfect this marriage thingamajig.

But you know what?

perfection

PC: StarvingArtistFilms

It’s been a far from perfect year, since our last anniversary when I waxed eloquent about how comfortably predictable things had become. This year there was many an oddball. It was anything but predictable. There have been so many heavy discussions about where to next, which came with a huge set of pros cons and our respective opinions, desires and dreams to juggle. There was a home loan in the mix this year, which has put a fair deal of pressure on us both. Not that you ever showed it, but I always know when you’ve been worried about it. There was a lot of angst about what to do next — for you and for me, as individuals and as a unit — and which way to go from here. It seems like this semi-charmed life has maxed out on it’s levels of near-perfection (when you discount the shitty roads and spotty internet, I mean) and that has time and again pushed us into a corner, begging us to ask ourselves some hard questions and consider some difficult options.

And so we did. It’s been a year of tremendous opinion-sharing between us. I can’t help but feel that the more rounded and formed our personalities get, the more we dig our heels in and stand up for what we believe in. Many times, we don’t believe in the same things. This year, more than ever before, we’ve sparred over things, small and big. From your smoking habit that I truly wish you’d kick, to a potential move beyond Goa, we’ve battled it out with loud exchanges of words, lots of confusion, plenty of tentative guessing and jumping to conclusions, a fair amount tears and the two instances when I left home and drove off into the night. Old me from about two years ago would say I’m not proud for what I did, or what pushed me to it. But I’ve learned this year, more than ever before, that it’s not important to agree and always see eye to eye. In fact it’s important not to agree, and it’s important to always have the room for that. I’m so glad that even when we’re in the throes of a belligerent rage, one of us has the sense to calm the other down and remind ourselves to make space for one another’s opinions.

I love that we have this healthy battle ground. Where we can spar, constantly remind ourselves to keep it civil, but not polite; honest but not rude; real, but not sharp. This year more than ever before, I have enjoyed fighting with you. Until last year, I always wondered if there was something the matter with us – our fights and disagreements were few and so far between. This year, I proved myself wrong and we’ve more than made up for the lack of disagreements in our lives so far.

I believe everything happens for a reason, and that this transformation came with a reason too. Because, I no longer fear fighting with you (and anyone else I hold close, for that matter). I’ve learned that every healthy relationship must have space for healthy disagreement. It’s become a marker for the authentic relationships in my life, across the board. It’s taught me that learned that sometimes one has to squash one’s ego, agree to disagree, and just hug it out. I’ve also learned that no matter what the outcome, it’s always a good idea to say sorry.

This year, you’ve taught me the value of saying sorry, even when it is the hardest thing to do and my mountain-sized ego will not allow it. In the number of instances that you plainly and easily said sorry, at the end of an argument, or when you thought you’d disappointed me, or when the truth about the numerous patterns of oppression women face in a typical Indian family suddenly dawned on you in its immensity, and you suddenly woke up to it’s existence in your own family, you apologised for it. You took responsibility, even though you’ve never behaved in a way that was oppressive or discriminatory. You apologised on the behalf of everyone else who never will. You have no idea how immensely liberating that has been.

This year, I’ve learned empathy from you. I’ve learned to tone down my judgement. To live and let live, in the truest sense of the term. Together we’ve turned many of our perceptions about a lot many things and people around. It;s reminded me that there is always have scope to grow, and I feel glad every time that we are able to acknowledge where we were wrong, and we try and correct our thoughts. I like to think we’ve turned into more self-assured individuals with firmness where it counts. I find you perfectly straddle being strong-willed, but soft-hearted where it matters. You’ve displayed conviction, with a rare kind of softness that I find immensely attractive. It’s a balance I still have to learn.

But most of all, this year will always be remembered as the year you helped me rediscover myself yet again. I don’t know if you realise the influence you have had on me. As the only person privy to all my thoughts, feelings, ups and downs of every aspect of my life, you share in my angsts and joys equally. And this year your only steady advice has always been to put a premium on myself. To always raise the bar, demand more, settle for nothing less than the best. Whether it has been at work — when demanding a higher fee, not settling for shoddy work relationships, or in my relationships with people — cutting off toxic friendships, prioritising my time, being uncompromising with the quality of friendships and focusing on myself and my self development.

You’ve been the sound voice, constantly dinning into my head the need to put myself first. It’s how I’ve bettered my work style and engagements. I wouldn’t have re-learned discipline if it weren’t for our many discussions about how to get better at this game. I wouldn’t have cracked so many pitches if we hadn’t worked on my emails together. I wouldn’t have come to believe in myself if you hadn’t backed me up every step of the way.

This year, we’ve completely soaked in the spirit of being quiet. You were always the quiet one, but this year I realised I have some quiet in me too. In learning to be still, I’ve understood myself better, sharpened my focus, fine-tuned my ability to be by with myself. As individually-focused as that sounds, it has changed my relationship with you. For the better. I understand you better. I respect you more. I honour you for the individual that you are, completely, with fewer expectations than before. As much as there’s been hectic chatter and loud disagreements, we’ve had our fair share of silence too. It’s one of the things I love the most about us. The way in which we can exist in a companionable silence, for hours on end, without having to engage. This year, I’ve learned there’s more than one kind of quiet, and I cannot wait to discover the rest. With you. Even though this was also the year we took off on our own respective tangents.

It’s the first time I saw in us, the patterns I see with my parents. In being starkly individualistic people, with completely different goals, diverging in entirely opposite directions, yet somehow making ends meet, and finding a way to let go, live and love, all at once.

I travelled by myself this year, more than I have ever before. And it was because conversations I had with you rekindled the hidden desire that I have let remain forgotten for all the years we have been together. You bought me the bestest gift of all times – a bike – that has triggered something deeper than a quest to cycle, in me. You’ve reminded and taught me how important it is to chase those things that are fundamental to our happiness, outside of amassing money in the bank and buying things. And you’ve done this by example. By taking off on your own path of self-discovery, traversing cycling, film and new areas of work – areas I am completely removed from. That has been your journey to take, and I’ve watched from a distance, with such pride.

This year, more than every before, I realised that being together has little to do with being together. Not to take for granted how wonderful it is to have a roomie to come back to, someone to hold at night when the fear of the dark envelops me, someone to lean on when I’m scared or lonely, someone to share a laugh with in a way that only we can understand. But I realised that growing old together involves taking routes that aren’t always going to run in parallel, or end up in the same place. It is possible to be together and yet give each other the space to be apart – in what we do, in where we go, and in how we blossom. And for the first time in all our years together, and my vehement stand on long-distance relationships, I have opened myself up to the idea of living apart. It will mean spreading our wings in different directions, and I don’t mean that just literally. I hope we explore it someday, because I think it will only take us a step up from here.

I look back at this year and it looks so pock-marked, dented and imperfect, riddled with the weight of learning. It’s been a heavy year in that respect. But we’ve towed the line rather well, picking up when the other left off, holding each other up, and being the stoic, steady person when the other needed to waver for a bit. In you I’ve had the best friend and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner on this ride.

We’re still often met with this picture perfect notion of marriage, complete with the kids and the car and the giant home. We’re still asked when we plan to have children, and shocked reactions that prod deeper and wants to know why that’s not on our agenda. I understand now, where it’s coming from. It’s because that’s what it works for many people. But there is room for us. And for us, it has always been about doing it our way. Keeping our eyes and minds open, bucking the rules, bending with time and circumstances, flowing the way we choose to, changing as per the need of the hour and playing by our own rules. And you know what? That’s never going to be a pretty, picture perfect journey.

I’m ready for more.

Just to change this up, here’s a picture that represents us pretty perfectly.

fullsizerender-2

Happy 8th.
I love you.

*****

Past anniversaries
Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

Day 251: August

7 Sep

Facebook brought this post I wrote at around this time two years ago, back to mind a couple of mornings ago. Reading it made me so very misty-eyed because it was such a different time, and I was such a different person back then. Arguably, it has been a long enough time for change, even if just at the hands of progression of time.

The posts makes excuses for being MIA, and those excuses are hectic! There was so much happening then, events, random people in pictures, a social scene, a chockablock calendar from the looks of it.

I’m currently MIA, if you were to go by all the action from 2014, of course. I’m missing, just from those aspects. Going out, being at every food event, meeting random groups of people and taking the trouble to put myself out there. Today, I’m MIA becuase I’m mostly cooped up at home. Or out with the few people I can be around, doing the things I like. Like reading in silence, cycling or watching a movie. Some of my friends here have expressed that they don’t know if my withdrawal from all things social and externally stimulating should be taken as a call for persuasion to break out, or to just let me be. That’s quite a sea change for me. But, that aside, it was mildly comforting to see how otherwise predictable August is.

  1. The monsoon is in that weird transition petering out the finale when it’s all over
  2. It seems to be the month my parents always visit
  3. Invariably there is some travel for me

All of that happened this year too. Despite it being a month to consciously pipe down from the overload I was feeling, it was busy (in other ways). With travel, to Bangalore and Wayanad that was the fall-off-the-grid that I needed. There were visits – friends throng Goa in the monsoon, and this year has been no different. A weekend with S, hanging out with with L, and my dad clocked his August visit too. I missed amma and Niyu desperately, but I’m also so glad to see how our individual lives have become so full and taken us our own respective ways to follow our bliss — amma all the way in America for her annual teaching and performance trip, Niyu otherwise engaged with adult things like keeping a job, my dad in the throes of building his home in the woods.

Of course there was the rain, even though we’re gearing up to say goodbye and bracing ourselves for the heat which is slowly creeping up on us. And there was plenty, plenty of cycling, because I suddenly realised there;s really no better way to do it than to cycle in the rain. I cycled so much, and so far, and did so many things as a by-product of cycling that I’m feeling really thankful I took to it this year.

This is what months of recharging should be like. Slow days spent wandering about with no plan, out in the real world or in your head, virtually, tossing up worlds of words and ideas. I didn’t pitch for any new work all through the month, focusing on finishing up some spillage from work I’d submitted at the close of July. Being caught in this “in-between” kind of headspace made even that a bit of a challenge. But the downtime meant I caught up on somethings that needed uninterrupted time and attention. Picking up the reading habit once again. Sending in a well-thought out (rather than half-assed, which is what it would have been if I didn’t have downtime) application for a fellowship. And writing for myself, things that often brew at the back of my mind and die like stubbed out cigarette buts that could have smouldered if I’d had the time to let them. Despite blogging everyday, I am constantly grappling with allowing more immersive, trains of thought meander and make their way here, because it means giving it more time, and an ease that I don’t always allow it. So I wrote yet again, about my shapeshifting idea of home and where that might possibly be. I got dragged down a tunnel of nostalgia, way back to gloomy Sunday evenings before school, and found a delightfully new memory to take its place.  I took a lot of pictures, and so I wrote a lot of haikus this month, too.

August was definitely the month for refuelling that I needed, and made time for. I drank up the slow, empty days in big gulps, and I saw myself enjoy the busy times with the folks I hung out with. The weird restlessness I talked about in July seems to have passed, and I’m aware its probably only temporary. Big and small changes are afoot, many of which I am unable to put a finger on even for myself to acknowledge. These are exciting times.

Day 250: Finding my people

6 Sep

This must be what they call kinship. This overwhelming sense of gratitude for the people in your life. It has so little to do with bloodlines, proximity, or commonality, even. Once I gloss over the basic matching of wavelengths, increasingly I’m seeing how it plays a smaller and smaller part in my connections with my people. I’m slowly getting to understand what Meredith and Yang meant when they called each other their person. I don’t have a person. I have my people. And this is a big deal for me, given I spent a large part of my life telling myself I had 3.5 friends.

This has been a year of realising who these people are. It’s been growing over the last couple of years I suppose, along with clarity and my own ability to articulate what I look for in people and who I hold close. I’ve let go of some aversions, become slightly more accepting of anomalies and I’m consciously making an effort to be less judgemental.

Today, I think the number of people I call my own is a direct outcome of that. It’s true what they say about keeping your heart open. I’ve had a hectic few weeks of guests — friends and family visiting — right from the week I decided I needed to relax a little, across my own travels to Wayanad, to friends traipsing in and out of Goa. I’ve scurried around to meet some, and I had a whole super chill weekend with S, and just as she left my dad is visiting and it’s been an altogether busy time. And it isn’t over yet. I realise how much has changed this year. As much as I have turned a little anti-social and a bit introverted in my life here in Goa, I realise how much I still thrive when I have people I love, over/staying with me.

Hosting family and friends I love always brings these feelings to the surface. Our days have been packed with venturing out exploring, eating out, and even when we’ve been home we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time together just chatting talking about everything from the state of the country to my father’s dream farmhouse that is in the works. These are the folks I can do this with. No expectations, no hangups, no Hanging out with folks I love always brings feelings of contentment and gratitude to the surface and today, I’m filled with thankfulness. For the people in my life, that I count on. I’m saying this as I think of my father who’s been with me for a week now, and my mother who is several continents away, and my sister who is in the neighbouring state. But I also say this bearing in mine the growing tribe of friends-turned-family that I have, cheering me on at all times. We’re all separated by distances small and wide, our lives diverge in so many different directions and yet, when I think of them all, I feel a silver thread that binds me to them.

So I am grateful. For the love, the honesty and transparency I’ve discovered in these relationships this year. For knowing that they can withstand the quiet and busy times, alike. For the lengths that they go to, to accept me as I am. For the immense patience and the wide swathes of time and attention we can give each other. For ensuring that virtually no topic of discussion is off the table. For resisting the urge to resort to passive-aggression, to dig deeper and come clean, with the faith that our relationship will overcome.

For giving me so much to learn from each of them – strength, resilience, an uncompromising zest for life, a fearless appetite for adventure, a spirit that refuses to be put down, a silent voice of reason – these are just some of the things I have gained from them.

For always reminding me what I am worth, capable of and for teaching me to believe in myself. For never failing to rally around and provide the chuckles when I need them the most. For calling a spade a spade, and telling it like it is.

For the endless generosity I have received, in action, in gifts, in time spent and for just the presence in my life. For being the sunshine, the moonlight, the fireworks; the silence and the excitement; and the mirror that constantly reflects the person I am, back at me.

I started uploading a series of pictures of said people, but there’s just way too many good ones to include. So I stopped. The words will have to do. My people, you know who you are.

Day 228: Sunday

15 Aug

The last day of a summer holiday was when I’d grudgingly pack a bag full of shiny new books, with freshly stretched glazed brown paper that gave them unwieldy, poky corners. It was a very demanding kind of Sunday evening. A starched uniform needed to be ironed, a pair of shoes — always one size larger than I was previously used — to lay waiting to be laced, there was the constant reminder to get it all done well before bed time that was suddenly advanced by an hour. And suddenly two months worth of memories of fun and frolic collapsed into a jumble, a little blob that would forever be wedged deep inside my brain only to be pulled out when bouts of nostalgia about the good old days hit me.

What stayed above the surface, always accessible, well into adulthood was that palpable sense of gloom. The last say of summer holiday was almost always a Sunday and it brought with it that special brand of end-of-summer-holiday gloom. The hazy uneasiness of grappling with time that passed by too fast, and time that will hit me too fast the next day. Thoughts of the next day only brought an unbearable, overwhelming feeling of intimidation. Next day would be a new day. A different kind of new. A new week, a new year. Just. Too. Much. New.

I liked the old better. Languid summer afternoons spent lying on cool mosaic floors, looking up at a fan spinning so fast, having absolutely no effect on the trickles of sweat making its way through the folds on my neck. Sunday evening gloom always made me want to stretch backwards and hang on tight to the weeks and months that have gone by. That’s where the comfort always was. Is.

Like a lazy nap. And it suddenly ends. Abruptly. A power cut makes the fan go off, or I’ve suddenly heard the violent cacophony of birds cawing their way back home. The din always makes me stir and if I’m unlucky, it is a touch past sundown. The sky is that odd shade of magnetic grey. Everything looks touched with a shimmery blue-grey hue. Silhouettes shine, but not in a resplendent, bright way, but like they’re tinged with the light of that strangest time when the last rays of the sun fight to stay alive. For just a minute more, even as the overpowering black of night swallows it slowly, inch by inch. Unwillingly, finally the day gives into the ebony might of the night. And I’m just left, stuck in that limbo with the play of light. That familiar gloom hurls itself back into the pit of my brain. Separating the bliss of the nap, from the Sunday evening gloom wafts above.

It’s like twilight. With the dusky rays meeting the night. Like something good ended too soon. Like the credits of a movie that touched my deeply, rolling on. I know I should be walking out the movie hall, but I want to stay and watch them right till the end. Just a few minutes longer. Or a book that had me by the scruff of my collar, gripped and unrelenting, that I rushed through so rapidly, the inevitable end leaves me bereft. Lost, confused, not knowing what to do with myself, or how to make time stop.

Sunday evening gloom is such a stark part of my childhood, I find it impossible to shake off the feeling even today.

home-sunday

This time back home, I had not one but two Sundays. That same afternoon nap had ended. That same murky twilight lingered outside. A wonderful week, a beautiful holiday had ended. There was a cup of hot tea being had, much later than I normally would have. As I sat in the kitchen reading, watching amma cook, familiar smells of dinner filling the kitchen around me. That same feeling of a good time coming to an end washed over me.

I waited for that heavy thud of finality to hit me. It’s usually like gates slamming behind me, something pushing me ahead as I drag my feet on, dejectedly. I waited, but it didn’t come. Suddenly I realised Sunday at home, as a grown up, felt pretty damn good. It had the glow of good times, the promise of more to come, and the wonderful embrace of a home that was and always will be, and the home that is, that I will go to.

Day 224: Wayanad things

11 Aug

I’m not very high up, altitudinally-speaking. That’s not a real word. I made it up to refer to the fact that I’m not that high up in terms of altitude. But I am high enough to see some clouds beneath me, and around me. I’m high enough, at the very top of this hill I’m on.

rain

PC: Niyu

The end of this estate that covers most of the hill itself, in this property, this house that is at the farthest edge, at the very top, with nothing but green as far as the eyes can see.

IMG_6098

Around me, the rippling undulating land is covered chockfull of groves of poker straight, slender supari trees that stand rigid, unrelenting, reaching up into the sunlight that’s weak, but there. Their barks are grey – silvery, taught and rough. The rows of these rigid towering trees, interspersed with the lax and soft green tree tops. The leaves tinged with grey, soft, cottony tufts that look like a giant green bouncy castle that I want to throw myself on to.

They’re rubber plantations, my father tells me. These trees so distinctly different from the supari. yet, evenly drenched as the wispy rain comes in. One moment the golden rays of the morning sun slant, struggling through the thick cloud cover, and the next, there’s dark layers of clouds rushing towards us. Needle-like drizzle coming down in buckets.

Of course, Niyu made a picture.

picture

There’s a lone papaya tree where I’m sitting, much closer to my outstretched feet. I’ve been here long enough to listen to the subtle rustle every time a pair of bulbuls and green bee-eaters visit. Taking turns, sharing the luscious fruit that hangs from below the fronds. They’ve eaten the papaya inside out over the course of the three days I’ve been watching them.

The cats have learned our smells and tangle themselves up at our feet, making infinity signs between them, every time we arrive at the door. They’re a quiet couple, mostly interesting in licking themselves clean, and only once in a while casting an eye over to check what the other is doing. That kind of peaceful equanimity that I want, at some point.

And then there’s Julie the smelly, but most adorable dog, who surveys the land like the matriarch. Her slender limbs, hold up a shapely, rugged body. She’s the queen of everything, as far as her eyes can see. Turns out what she’s interested in is a squirrel scampering on the tree below. Frantic, one moment shes on the balcony, head sticking out over the edge veering over to catch a glimpse of it, and the next she’s darting out to catch it before it rushes off. Back and forth, this goes on for about thirty minutes. Some tenacity, she has.

The jungle sounds are eternal. In the day its birds and the frequent peacock calling, and at night it’s crickets and assorted suspicious noises that suddenly change the atmosphere around. The warm, sunshiney, rainy welcoming outdoors by day, turn ominous after sundown.

The peacock/s sound like they’re awfully close. The cook tells me it likes to dance in the porch of one of the homes on the property. On the morning the calls get particularly loud, we trudge off, silently, phones in hand, because picture, or it didn’t happen, right? We were met by one of the plantation workers happily ambling by, walking towards us a pleased grin on her face. It was there, dancing, she said. I saw it. How content she looked. And the others back home, were content just to hear it. It happened. And no, we don’t have any pictures to show.

When all the sitting around lazing, inhaling my books and taking in the views, listening to every little creak around me gets boring, there have been walks.

FullSizeRender

Everyday. All the days.

FullSizeRender-2

The view from the other side. Niyu had network!

Somehow, despite all the endless hours staying still, I’ve clocked more steps than I have in a long time in Goa. The walks – up and down, up and about, through squelchy slush, shin-high weeds and grass, trundling through the wild, dodging dung and with salamanders slithering over my feet have jolted me back to a time we did this so, so often.

PC: Niyu

PC: Niyu

It’s been forever since I’ve been out like this, and I realise for the very first time how this, what once used to come so naturally, now takes such effort. Living in Goa has made me soft.

IMG_1058

The nights are pitch black, like a curtain comes over the spectacular view that faded to black only hours before. The stars are overwhelming. Too many for a pair of eyes to feast on.

The meals are simple, delicious and full of flavour. The fish is small, thick and full-bodied. So different from the sea-fish I’m used to. The papaddams are puffy, blistering into bubbles that flake when you pop them.

FullSizeRender-1

The vegetables grow on campus, juicy green beans, rich, luscious red leafy bhaji, sweet soft cubes of potato and fragrant curry leaves and ginger. It’s Kerala and your meal plate won’t let you forget that.

What I feel most palpably is the silence, even in the midst of so much ambient noise. The birds chirp relentlessly, the trees rustle, the peacocks are conversing, the koyals making love. This is probably what silence sounds like.

PC: Niyu

PC: Niyu

Day 221: On the road

8 Aug

It’s been ages since I have been on a road trip. Even longer, since I went on one with my parents. This needs to be said, because trips like this were par for the course when my sister and I were growing up. Ours was a family that was always ready to get up and go. We did this an awful lot, with far too many Sunday mornings that saw my parents overcome by the sudden need to take us on a picnic. Amma would quickly pack up some sandwiches, or puliyogare and curd-rice with some assorted nicknacks – chips, sugar-boiled sweets. It would all get stuffed it in a large bag along with a thermos full of juice for the kids and juice or tea for the adults. We’d wear our outdoorsy clothes, throw on our sneakers, pile into the car and take off. We never went to picnic spots or resorts, as was typically the norm. My dad would open out his most recent road map, show us the direction in which we’d be headed and we’d simply just drive, listening to music – everything from cassettes playing old concerts of my grandfather’s to The Beatles. The fascination of that kind of meandering trip, with no real plan or purpose but to just be together was enchanting. I always felt like I was on an adventure.

We’d converse a lot. We’d learn to identify birds, be told about important landmarks, our curiosity over everything from a roadroller at a new road coming up, to a tractor in a field where we’d stopped, or how the rain falls and why the trees are so many shades of green, would be piqued. And our questions entertained. We’d talk about all kinds of things and have most of our numerous questions answered. When we’d have driven out far enough from the city, my dad would pick a nice big lush tree and we’d pull over. Sometimes beside farmlands, sometimes overlooking a lake or river. Sometimes close to a little hillock which we would then climb, and I’d feel like I’d scaled the highest mountain. We’d spread out our trusty olive-coloured tarpaulin over which we’d open out all our food and drink, eating out of banana leaf plates, and making sure to gather all the waste, leaving the spot with no trace of us having been there, before we left.

In words, in conversation and in action, by example, I think I learned many a lesson about being on the road, and outdoors from my parents through these trips. It was very simple, but I distinctly remember those outings being my first experiences with understanding the concept of getting out, of travelling, of venturing into spaces outside where you usually belong. I could perceived the meaning of words like destination, duration and the passage of time.

Later, when we were slightly more grown up, there were innumerable trips to the jungle. My father is (used to be far more enthusiastic then, than he is now) an avid wildlife photographer, and was wont to making surprise plans with his photographer buddies and take off into the jungles for a weekend of photography. Every now and then, we’d make a family trip of it. I have fond memories of being huddled up in the porch of a jungle guesthouse, in the dim light from a naked bulb, thanks to the lack of electricity in the wild, listening to jungle noises creep around me, building impossibly imaginative animal stories in my head, giddy with excitement about the morning safari the next morning and the prospect of seeing a tiger. The forest guesthouse had a kitchen where basic meals of rasam/sambar, vegetables and rice would be prepared and brought to us in steel tiffin carriers. We’d turn in early and wake up in time to ride off into the jungle in an open jeep. Simple, invaluable things like dressing in sober colours that don’t stand out in the jungle, speaking in whispers or not at all, of looking behind you (because sometimes that’s where the best view is!) and most importantly, being patient began there – in the jungle. My urge to get out into the wild was stoked then, I’m sure.

For many reasons, these trips waned away. My father no longer goes away as often or as enthusiastically as he did back then. Over the years that my sister and I grew up and developed our own interests, family outings of this sort took last priority, as is known to happen. Ten years ago, my sister moved away to Bombay. Seven years ago, I came to Goa. And ever since, getting the four of us together at the same time has taken so much effort and orchestration, we’re mostly just happy to be under one roof – either in Bombay, Goa or Bangalore. Barring a family holiday to Sri Lanka in 2007, and another to Mahabs (that I could evidently not be bothered to write about!) in 2008, there haven’t been too many trips out of this sort.

So today, as I’m driving through rolling fields of sunflowers and marigolds at the edge of the Bandipur forest, I’m running on network fumes as it is about to disappear entirely out of reach, I realise this is a day worth recording. Especially because these are the views I’ve seen, en route to Wayanad.

img_6077

Heartbreakingly beautiful colours sweeping through swathes of plains, usually give all four of us the completely raw and visceral urge to just stop, get out and get as close to it as possible.

Par for the course, while we were growing up. I’ve touched sunflowers, held them against my face and marvelled at how large they actually are, dipped my toes in hill-side streams, touched passing clouds as we climbed mountains.

img_6075

This is probably the last of my posts for a bit. I don’t suppose I’m going to have any network in Wayanad where I’m headed. I don’t have my laptop either. So yes, I’m going to be MIA. For about a week, depending on how long I’m off the grid. And how long it may take me to surface once I’m back. See you on the other side.

 

(17th August, 2016, edited to add: I returned to Goa and once I was over the post-holiday stupor, I filled in the gaps with back-dated posts about the trip away.)

Day 154: May

2 Jun

At the start of May, I wished that the month zips by. And when I made that wish, I forgot to enunciate that while a speedy passage of time was desirable, I didn’t fancy hurtling through it at breakneck speed, unable to stand still for justonemomentplease, thanks to the wheels strapped to my heels. Be careful what you wish for, folks. Because what I got, fresh off the back of a hectic April, was an even more hectic May.

It was chockfull and it zipped by, leaving me very, very exhausted. But in classic Revati-style, I didn’t realise it at the time. I tend to forget way too often for my own good, that I am not superman, and I don’t have to do it/have it all. Time and again I have to remind myself to slow down and fuck perfection. I get so consumed and swayed with the excitement in the present that diving in, head-first, is the easiest thing to do. These extreme crests of productivity only to be hit by boughs of exhaustion seem to be the norm around here and a struggle for measured balance looks like it will be a lifelong mission.

Friends over for a long weekend? YESSS lets go all out and hit the beach three days straight, no matter that it is the peak of summer! Feeling the beginnings of a cold but there’s a plan to go to the beach again? YES, I’m in! Packing bags for a trip to Bangalore and someone makes a last minute request for booze at 9 pm the night before my flight. Don’t worry, I got this! Calendar is full and you’re about to leave for the airport at 5 am, receive an email about writing an essay due in less than a week. YES, Im going to absofuckinglutely do this, even while I am on holiday with my hands and head full of family scenes.

Restraint, even in the midst of hectic times, is what I’m wishing for now.

It was birthday month! And I celebrated it with two cuties on the beach. Which then triggered major beach longing. So I followed it up with frequent visits, which will continue right until it rains. Which honestly at this point is looking more like, if it rains. Yeah, it’s that time of year when there are constant laments about a seeming endless summer torture and loud complains about how the monsoon cannot get here fast enough.

All the pain, irritation and annoyance was compounded this month thanks to the mega retrograde that was upon us. I was angsty and full of ranty opinions about everything. In the midst of it all, VC and I had a massive scrap over what is turning out to be a big deal-breaker in our lives — domestic chores. This has been a repeated topic of debate and discussion of late and matters constantly come to a head, but get diffused before we can sort things out. One day last month, however, I exploded. And not in a way that I am proud of. But the great thing about VC, and I am so grateful for it, is his proactive, action-oriented approach to any dispute. No matter how much we disagree or we fight it out, he usually doesn’t rest until we have worked out a way forward that positively impacts our relationship in some way. I’m seeing changes in the way we are, he is and I am, and the way things will pan out for us in the months to come, and I have my massive explosive outburst to thank for it. Heh.

I got through most of the retrograde pain-free, making do with quietly writing a post about everything that pissed me off. Just when I thought I dodged it, because it could have been much worse, I was hit. By a massive flu bug, 12 hours before I was scheduled to leave for Bangalore. I’d been fighting it for about four days, and was almost feeling better, when it struck and went from 0-90, in terms of severity, in about 3 hours. I woke up that morning bright and lucid, planning my packing, when by lunch time I was curled up in bed, delirious with a massive fever, a heavily clogged throat and a painful chest. I briefly contemplated cancelling the trip, but instead dragged my butt to the closest Chinese restaurant, loaded myself up on hot soup, doubled up on the antibiotics and paracetamol, packed my bags and hi the sack.

I made it to Bangalore and had an excellent trip after all. But before I left, I managed to pass on a little dose of the bug to VC, who fell ill right after I left. Nice and snot-filled, very eventful few days we had there.

As for the writing, it’s been a month of taking stock, reining in many pending payments and planning for the weeks to come. I had some moments of an audacious confidence I didn’t know I had. And I dug deeper to a level of perseverance I haven’t allowed myself to experience before. After pitching a publication four times, to no response, since the start of the year, I finally broke in with an essay I wrote for World Menstrual Hygiene Day. Whadya know? Fifth time’s a charm sometimes!

I completed ten whole years since I started writing this blog. I realised suddenly that it is absolutely the only pursuit that has held my attention. As a space to channel my writing, a journal in which to scribble every day, it’s really played a vital role in shaping my interest in writing. So I hope it continues to manifest more wonderful opportunities than my limited imagination allows me to perceive right now.

I’m at the brink of some exciting changes and witnessing a coming together of unlikely varied parts. There’s a bit of waiting involved, and as usual that part is the hardest. I have to constantly remind myself to slow down, stay calm and most importantly breathe. All I want in this time of navigating the possibilities is some restraint and a little bit of grace to make sure I don’t get ahead of myself as is known to happen when I am excited.

Day 88: Fam-jam

28 Mar

There was a time when surprise plans never worked with me. I’d sniff them out one way or the other. It didn’t stop me from enjoying said plans, but the surprise element was always deflated beforehand. But the hugsband is getting rather good at fixing up surprises that actually surprise me. My folksies hatched a grand plan in collaboration with the hugsband, and showed up in Goa at the start of the super-long weekend. To surprise me.

I might have had some inkling of a possibility of it happening, but nothing confirmed my hunch, and somewhere I forgot all about it. Until two hours before they arrived, when my granny called me, very enthusiastically. To check if they had arrived.

And that was it. My hunch was confirmed.

However, it didn’t put a spoke in our plans. Actually, we had no plans. An easy few days ensued, fam-jam style and only the sister was sorely missed. It was meant to be a few days for my folks to relax, out of their regular routine, so there was home cooked food and drink, massages, pedicures, some shopping, lots of naps and laughter.

I wasn’t completely prepared for a busy (read distracted) weekend, so I managed to juggle some work through it too, and it was nice to have a busy, full house after so long.

It’s amazing how having family so close brings back familiar things from back home. Nourishing salads at every meal, invigorating filter coffee every morning (I couldn’t be arsed to make myself a single cup of this on a daily basis, but my mother does it, unfailingly), my mother’s talcum powder, my father’s supari. It was like the old days, in a new bottle. Did I mention my sister was sorely missed?

It’s been a while since the four of us were all together under one roof, without a pre-set agenda like a family gathering or function bringing us together. I don’t know when a truly free, plan-less trip was had and this reminded me of the last time we did something similar. Before I was married.

Anyhow, so that’s why the break in posting, which I will make up for one way or another. I spent all of today answering ignored emails from the weekend, catching up on pending things, making new to-do lists and catching a much needed nap.

Now excuse me while I stumble back to normalcy.

Day 60: February

29 Feb

The beginning of any new year always brings with it the renewed excitement that with every month that I countdown, I am inching closer to another birthday. So February 1st saw me do a happy dance. Also because the sister came to visit that week. She has been my most ardent and oft-returning houseguest yet. In all the years we have lived in Goa, she has visited a minimum of three times every year, if not more, and usually stayed for leisurely, long periods of time. Having family over is wonderfully different from entertaining guests and having a sibling (if your siblings are anything like mine is) over takes that to another level. Ask VC – he bears the brunt of it.

This time though, she visited after an unbelievable (and shameful, if you ask me!) gap of a whole year, thanks to being employed, which also meant she was on a tighter schedule a had a return date that was too close for comfort. So in that sense, this trip was different from most others, where we relax and go about our days without much planning. Instead, this time around we had the trip chockfull of things to do, places to go and things to eat, almost every day. We visited our favourites – The Black Sheep Bistro, Ritz Classic, Bodega and Thai n Wok. But we also visited Ruta’s Roadhouse, following the trail all the way to Assagaon where the newest outlet is now housed. I’m a diehard fan of not just Ruta’s idea of bistro-style food with the chunky, filling portions, exciting and unexpected combinations of local produce cleverly used in a continental/bistro style, but just the palpable passion that goes into each of her eateries. I love a cafe that has feel, and for me walking into one that encourages you to sit a while longer, stay and chat, drink cup after cup of brilliantly brewed black coffee, is a serious deal-breaker.

So we had a lovely day of food and drink, which extended into lounging around while I got some writing done and Niyu worked on some drawing. It was interspersed with some chitter chatter with Ruta, over black coffee, which is always such a pleasure.

We experienced the Carnival in all its colourful splendour with music, dance, cocktails and Goan grub. Ever since the opening of MOG (Museum Of Goa), I was keen to take Niyu there, so we made a day trip of it, topping it off with some wandering up north – checking out the People Tree store too.  And then we took off for the last weekend before she went back to Bombay to hit the beach. Headed Mandrem-wards, we stayed at Vaayu Ocean Adventures but spent the day at Pink Orange a beach-shack/restaurant in Morjim. Delicious vegetarian menu for a change, but it did not disappoint. I had a veggie thali (!) and it was loaded with a hearty dal, rice, salad, palak paneer and a semi-saucy, spicy brinjal and potato sabji. After lounging in the sun drinking as much beer as we did, it hit the spot. Dinner was at the newly opened cafe/restaurant at Vaayu, called Prana – and the meal deserves a post of its own.

Unbelievably exciting flavours, creative combinations and just delicious food that really looks and tastes like its been put together with utmost thought and care. I love meals that come together like that. They also made me the most insane Gin-based cocktail with freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, lemon juice and lots of ice. It. Hit. The. Spot.

Actually the deets about Vaayu require a post, or a full-length feature too if someone will let me write it for them. We stayed in a rustic, but very clean stilted hit that overlooked the river as it meets the sea. Vaayu is a fabulous surf-school that offers a seriously formidably large bouquet of water-sport options including surfing, kayaking, and so many things I didn’t even know were possible in Goa. Lessons from professionals, equipment, super funky inviting vibe it also doubles up as a space for artists in residence, and has a gorgeous, expansive gallery area where they have regular events like movie screenings, art shows and music/theatre events. I loved the sense of community – super cheerful and helpful staff with a deliberate effort to go out of their way to make your stay not just comfortable, but memorable. If you’re the adventurous water-sport types, definitely check them out. And even if you’re not, like me, it’s a great place to camp out for the weekend with an agenda to do nothing. Like I did. We did nothing adventurous or oceanic, apart from lie on the beach, watch the sea, feel the sand and chill.

draw

I read my book, watched a lot of incredibly cute babies, made some observations about the crowd that now hits the beaches of the far North, drank a lot of Bira and ate some spectacular food.

I hit a serious funk when Niyu left and it took me a good few days to crawl out of it. Clearly the highlight of the month, and thankfully I had no work and commitments to distract me from all the bonding and fun time. Apart from that, here’s what I did:

Watched: Niyu and I watched some Chef’s Table, and while I can never tire of it, I think it can be a little intense and in-part academic for others who might not be as inclined. I also finished watching Orange Is The New Black, which had its ups and downs. I raced through seasons 1 and 2 wondering why I hadn’t watched the show earlier. Just when I was hooked good and proper, season 3 began with a serious slump. Why do all good shoes have that inevitable, almost predictable dip? Till about episode 6 I plodded along and wondered where it was going and if it will ever pick up. At episode 7 I was about to throw in the towel, when suddenly things looked up again. And how. I loved the way the season shaped up and the finale was wonderfully hopeful, making me smile.

Piper, the protagonist, continues to piss the daylights out of me with her obnoxious, selfish, and utterly dimwitted personality. I find her character so dull and uninteresting and can almost feel how much effort goes into keeping her alive and active at the centre of things. She is so easily overshadowed though, not just by more powerful characters with far more compelling sub-plots than her own, but by some brilliant performances by some of the other actors that just gobble her insipid, pale acting.

The excessive white-ness of the overall plot-line still doesn’t sit well with me, and I find myself getting worked up at the blatant racism at several points, but I realise that is the point of those specific developments. Perhaps if Piper wasn’t such a cliched blonde, White American yuppie, I would be able to get over it faster.

Now I have to wait until June to see season 4. Ugh.

I was all set to watch Parks and Recreation and Arrested Development next, based on reccos from friends who know whatkind of show I enjoy. But Netflix in India is controlled, and only showcases about 1/4th the entire library. So yeah, us desis have to wait. On the upside, Michael Pollan’s Cooked began here too, so I’m watching that.

I watched Neerja, which quite unexpectedly reduced me to a puddle of tears. I cannot stomach Sonam Kapoor’s acting on a good day, but she was pleasantly surprising – not her usual, nasal and annoying avatar, with a compelling performance. I went because I have always been curious about the events of the Pan Am crash, and I’m a sucker for people stories, especially those centred around strong women characters. I liked the way it was filmed, the plot was measured and not over-done on any account. It had the deadly combination of a woman playing a brave heart, national pride, motherly love and a love lost – that should explain the tears. A post coming up on this, perhaps because some rumination made me realise I’d rank Neerja along with Queen and NH10.

Read: I picked up A Handbook For My Lover, by Rosalyn D’Mello at the start of the month. The book has enough going for it – it’s raw, honest, seduces you with the language and some beautifully crafted lines that instantly evoke images in your mind – but I was a little bored with the format. Either there wasn’t enough meat in it to hold my attention or the pattern it uses to unwrap the memoir didn’t work for me, I’m not quite sure. It started off very engaging, and petered into a lull about 70 pages in, only to pick up in the last 3-4 chapters again. In between, it falls into a predictable loop and I guess for an erotic memoir – I was expecting a build up, a plot that very definitely leads somewhere, progressively growing for one of the characters – chronicling their time together from point a to b. But that movement was missing and the content just felt repetitive. I put it away briefly, almost giving up on it, but eventually picked it up one slow afternoon, spent in bed listening to my Grandpa’s music. About 3/4ths of the way in there is a mention of the protagonist and her lover being together for 6 years, and that’s when it hit me. The patterns in the writing are so repetitive that I hadn’t even got a sense of progression of time, let alone anything else. At the end D’Mello also says she herself had withdrawn from the book while writing it and came back to write the last few chapters after a short break of sorts. I think the energy dipping and picking up at the end again, reflects that.

Eventually, I finished it. While it didn’t leave me wowed or amazed, I think it is a commendable debut, for it’s choice of genre, and it is undeniably erotic and raw, with more than a few parts that will linger on in your mind. For that, I’d recommend it. It is a breezy read, so if you do pick it up, I’d be keen to know what you think of it.

I struggled with fitness this month. I thought I’d finally found my rhythm but I realise I’m still looking for that good fit of activities that will break my plateau. I tried to be as regular as I could and felt deflated when I realised I’ve reached a point where I give in to the temptation to skip a workout so easily. This has been a sign for a need for change and so I’m switching things around again. Fingers crossed.

I didn’t draw too much this month, because it was a busy time with very little time spent at my desk or at leisure. I did however manage to stick to blogging every single weekday, and I am frankly a little amazed at myself for sticking it out to day 60! I also wrote a lot of haikus, found myself suddenly feeling very inspired and unable to keep up with the lines that blossomed in my mind. I took to noting them down in my phone, and slowly putting them down here.

February was a lot more settled compared to the upheaval that January brought. Emotionally, I’m still a bit knackered and I have my off days, but overall I feel a lot more in control. I’ve started picking up work again and I’m going to work the pace up from here. Like I said earlier this year, onwards and upwards, it is.

Day 50: Major leaps. Minor struggles.

19 Feb

I went on a haiku binge there, I know. Mainly because I’ve been penning them down obsessively on my phone, and I suddenly realised I had piled up so many, I wanted to put them out somewhere. I was also hugely inspired to share by my friend P, who does a daily haiku  over at HappyFeet. And also it’s the best to get the words flowing when sometimes you have a lot to say but nothing seems to come out right.

Taking a break from the haiku-binge to note down some things that have been on my mind a lot lately. I woke up this morning with this post almost forming itself out in my head. So.

Things I am feeling confident about:

  • Saying no. From the smallest things like going out to catch up with friends, to feeling tempted to take up an assignment that sounds lucrative. The surprising development that I noticed quite belatedly, is being able to say no without necessarily offering an excuse, or a reason.
  • Pushing back. Presenting my opinion, countering a force. This, especially with regard to clients who push. For quicker work, unreasonable timelines, or pass the buck. I realise even the best people do it. Sometimes with good intention too, but where I used to take the load on, and mope later, or feel pressure and inevitably feel an unpleasantness, I’ve now seen that pushing back sets the tone right. It feels odd the first and second time, but very soon the benefits of it far outweigh the momentary discomfort it may cause.
  • Letting go. Ever since I read The Untethered Soul, and it confirmed my belief that the root to most of my emotional troubles lies in the inability to deal with things right, leading to a lot of harbouring of negative thoughts and feelings, I have been consciously and actively trying to deal with whatever I feel right in the moment I feel it. Sit with it, ask myself how serious, legitimate the feeling really is and move through it accordingly. I am trying very hard, and feeling more confident, to let things pass through me, leaving as little residue of unpleasantness or lingering feelings in me. I feel lighter and I am able to see things clearer.

Things I am having a hard time with:

  • Motivating myself. To get going with some work plans that require putting myself out there a little bit, fishing for work and chasing it up. To keep up with the new and changing work out schedules. To finish a list of minor, but errands for the house.
  • Laziness. This is related to the point immediately above, about motivation. My lazy streak has surfaced and this time in the absence of an external framework or force like a work contract to kick my ass and get it in line, I have to depend wholly on myself to get going. And. I. Am. Struggling.
  • Being taken for granted. A conversation with VC this morning made me realise that while dealing with being taken for granted is an issue in itself, my struggle is sometimes in simply noticing when I am being taken for granted. I’m so used to telling myself to be “the bigger, more understanding person” that I let a lot of shit slide, and accept it. Not good messages to myself, or the person I am ealing with.

Another conversation form this morning made me realise that I am not the kind of person many people would be able to peg as someone with “relationship issues” – and by that I mean issues in dealing with people and relationships. Maybe to a large extent I haven’t accepted that myself, until now. But it really is the crux of so much of my angst. So many patterns and traits stem from my inability to understand relationships and how I operate. Letting people in too soon, going all out too quickly, being taken for granted, feeling terrible about it, never knowing how to articulate it, not knowing how to ensure it doesn’t happen again. This is a horrible pattern in my life. It is only very recently that I acknowledged this as a serious issue, and not just something to mope about three times a year. And I am slowly working towards looking at it as my problem and something I have to work out. That’s the only way to break the pattern.

There is so much that I have packed away into a corner of my brain over the last many months, that seems to be surfacing slowly but surely. The more I relax and let go of the high standards of productivity and busyness and normalcy, the more these demons seem to come out with clarity. The more I accept it, the more I realise there is absolutely no glory in pretending to be completely normal, sorted out and in control. No good that can come form holding your guard up all the time.

Everyone unravels, and every once of pain and struggle however big or small is valid. And every bit of it deserves to be dealt with in a way that works best. It is very much like being ill. There is no point in pretending like you can go on without medication or being treated for it. The method of medication you choose may differ, but deal with it you must. Find whatever works for you, pick the people you can count on, who will hold you when you fall or help pick yourself up when you crumble. But do it. Allow yourself to break down. Because denial and pretence can only take you that far. After a point, that affects other aspects of your life. It was beginning to show in the quality of my every day life — my routine, my decision-making, my relationships and the way I was dealing with situations that presented themselves.

I wish I had realised this sooner. But like they say, better late than never. Small steps, big improvements. Major leaps, minor struggles. I feel happy, really. The overall positively that has come from just facing up to what I have felt, has been liberating.

So I will leave you with a song I’m currently crushing on, that I play really loudly when I am alone and happy-dancing at home. VC walked in on me as I was busy doing it last night, and asked what I was partying for.

I’m just happy, I said to him.

Day 42: Fail

11 Feb

This S, she so gently unknowingly, subtly egged me on to declare that I would be attempting to give up alcohol and desserts for Lent.

Okay I’m lying. All she did was casually suggest that she was going to be giving up alcohol and desserts while I gave her a virtual hat tip and went on and on about how I cannot imagine a life without either because I love it all just too much.

But somehow, by the end of it I had agreed to try.  Despite declaring my undying love for happy hour margaritas and mentioning the one litre of serradura that was lying in my fridge waiting to be eaten post dinner.

And then at 7, this happened.

drink

Clearly I’m not doing a very good job of trying.

Willpower – 1. Revati – 0.

Day 40: Begin again

9 Feb


Stumble stop fall drop
Step back slow down pick up now
Start. Begin again.

Day 39: Time bubble

8 Feb

There’s something to be said about the ability of siblings to instantaneously make time spin backwards within minutes of hanging out with each other after a spell spent apart. No matter how many weeks and months pass between those meetings, it takes barely any time for natural progression of time to dissolve and flow backwards, bringing out that child in us.

It’s definitely a special kind of regression, for me. It’s like being temporarily kidnapped by aliens and having a body double walking around in my place. Except the body double has the brain of myself from aeons ago. Swinging wildly across ages between 6-16. No telling which one will emerge when.

I’ve been suffering spotty internet for the last ten odd days, but thankfully work has been lean and the sister is visiting. That usually means far less time spent at the laptop. And a lot more time spent fooling around. Today though, the internet died altogether rendering us jobless (because both of us had work to do, that couldn’t be done offline) and left to our own antics.

So. This happened.

39-1

39-2

It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to regress into the headspace from my childhood when I am around my sister. Memories flow back incessantly, nostalgia rules and the weirdest, forgotten, unimaginably sweet anecdotes come up when you’re not even trying to recollect them.

For all the time’s I wish for time to slow down, or to temporarily turn the clock back in time, I must remember to just hang out with my sister more often. It truly puts the brakes on growing up in a hurry.

Day 25: Love

25 Jan

The trouble with waiting for love is that we imagine it to be this giant jigsaw puzzle piece that will casually float along, make its way to us and somehow miraculously fit perfectly into that gaping hole in the centre of our hearts.

We wait for it, desperately, so it can come and complete us. Almost like we’re so bloody imperfect, incomplete and unfinished without that piece out of that notion of love. That kind of love, all neatly packed and tied up in a bow. Complete with the TLC, tender kisses, sweet nothings and everything in between.

Could it be that in our quest for finding that true love, we make ourselves unavailable to the everyday doses of love that actually come our way? In forms wholly different from the perfect, stereotyped version we desperately seek?

I’ve had love straight up box me in the face recently. And no it wasn’t a man. It wasn’t even the hugsband. It wasn’t even the kind of romantic love we expect when we talk of being swept off our feet or being made to feel weak in the knees. And yet, it was a kind of love that brought the fuzzies back into my heart. A flutter in my stomach. A fiery rekindling of the I’d-do-anything-for-you feeling we guard so tightly, saving it only for our parents and significant others.

Love has reached me in sudden, unexpected ways recently. In long, heart-felt emails that just hit the spot, and go right to the crux of the burden I’m trying to free myself of. Surprise whatsapp messages from friends across continents who seem to make timely book recommendations. In freaky telepathic connections that make me wonder about ESP. In kind, understanding words free of judgement and without the weight of being high handed.

On Friday night I had an utter and complete meltdown and it drove me to do something I haven’t done since my angst-ridden teenage years. Grab my keys, storm out of the house and get out for some fresh air. But mostly it was just a coming together of a lot of truth that had gathered like a dark cloud over my head. I tried hard to paint a layer of sunshine over it, but really, clouds of that kind only ever gather to make you see something you really really need to see. So when several storm warnings were not heeded, the cloud burst. Leaving me in a puddle of tears, misplaced emotions and wanting to push everything and everyone away so they didn’t have to see me that way.

It’s funny how at that exact moment is actually when the truest of true loves in your life are the only ones who stick their necks out for you. The husband let me cool off, gently asked if we should go get dinner and talk about it. But I didn’t want to. I was having a hard enough time processing it by myself, discussing it was not easy. So he let me be, as I drank my soup between snot-filled sniffles and heavy gasps of air. He sent me an email spelling out what he thought I was dealing with, and what I ought to do. And he didn’t bring it up until noon the next day, when I was willing and needed to talk it out.

I got another email, a godsend, from S. What was possibly experience talking, but somehow had just all the right things I needed to hear. That it was okay to break out of the mould I’ve somehow put myself into. The burden of the impossibly high standards I sometimes hold myself to. That it is okay to lean, and that they will always be there to hold me. That the fear and guilt I am feeling are very, very real. That every little ounce of anguish I am feeling is valid. And needs no justification no matter what my life is like on the outside.

It took half a day of conversing with S&S and VC to realise I struggling to reach within, reach deeper and dig out the answers that lie there. I am afraid to let go of the ropes that have held me up this last year. I’m afraid of slipping back. But it took VC to put it bluntly, and realistically — “improvement, takes time. The fact is that you won’t ever be back right where you started, because no matter what, you’re better today than you were a year ago.” — for me to let it go. A little.

Then, one evening I had a flashback to the conversations I had with Mommygolightly. About work and passion, about earning the bucks versus scratching a creative itch and whether there is ever a healthy balance between the two. So I sat down and wrote her a letter. Something made me want to reach out. And I’m glad I did, because as I learned later that night, I was not the only one in need of getting in touch.

My mother reads my posts on her ipad and because she probably hasn’t figured out how to comment yet, sends me emails with her thoughts on some posts that touch her. Somehow, without my even sharing exactly what was going on in my mind (because I simply couldn’t bring myself to articulate it) sent me an email saying this — “according to our spiritual thought and growth, it takes just ONE moment to realise the truth. One has the choice to ignore and go on in fear and make no changes, or open yourself up and allow change to happen ;)”

On Sunday morning I got a call from N, who called to just check in on me. I hadn’t expressly shared how I was feeling with too many people, but to have someone pick up on the vibe, take the trouble to call me and ask if I wanted to talk was more than I needed at that point, and my heart wells up with love every time I think about just how surrounded by positivity I am. If I choose to see it that way.

Many times I convince myself that when it really counts, people have an immaculate ability to abandon you. But time and again, I am being shown that people are always going to be around and willing to help, if you let them into your life enough. And that, is a two-way street. You have to take a few steps and welcome love into your life.

I guess this is the benefit of being grown up enough to choose the relationships in your life. You get to pick the ones that nourish you, fill you up with love when you’re feeling depleted, smack you when you need a good kick in the backside, tell you bluntly that it’s okay to crumble and fall, and grab a margarita and clink glasses when the going is good.

This is the upside of friendships in adulthood. You’re no longer just going with the flow and tolerating people because it’s the popular choice, or because you’re afraid of being alone, or because you just don’t know better. You’re no longer ashamed to show your weaker sides to those you want to count on. You realise that your husband, you mother, your father, are your friends too. As much as you realise that you are capable of feeling blinding, all consuming love for your friends. You’re suddenly willing to drop everything and check flight ticket fares to go be with a friend in need. As much as you’re willing to fly your sister down for some TLC.

I’ve had many of those moments of impossible to believe love, in what can be summed up as an altogether ridiculous and shitty month. And I am eternally grateful.

You realise that friendship is about counting on the moments of love that catch you by surprise. And if you’re lucky, and you open yourself up to it wide enough, those moments come in abundance. Sweeping you off your feet when you need an upper. Crushing you in body-smashing virtual hugs. A dense dose of sense, when you need it the most. And unending love, scattered in moments that you will stumble upon unexpectedly.

hope

Allowing love to creep up on you in the ways it wants to, rather than waiting for it to land up in a form you’ve pre-empted, is to allow serendipity to enter your life. It is to allow lessons in empathy, optimism, and a web of warmth to cocoon you so you never really fall. Merely stumble, before you bounce back again.

Day 22: Saaru-Anna

22 Jan

It’s a gloomy 7 o clock-daylight-turning-to-night moment, as we drive into the basement of our building in Bangalore. And that single moment held a world of pain like a tightly wrapped fist. It was the end of a long and arduous 24-hour journey, one that we tediously took every year from Bangalore to Bombay, and back. But more importantly, it marked the end of another glorious summer vacation, before we return for a fresh term. It was the end of a year, as we would measure it in school. It was the end of the endless cuddles with our grandparents, of afternoon naps dotted with a medley of fully made up stories that never seemed to end, of snuggling into ammama’s saree and sniffing up the dusty remnants of her make-up routine – a gentle blend of Pond’s talcum powder and Lakme compact. Of waking up to the drone of ajju’s tanpura on riaz mornings, of having them pamper the living daylights out of us with completely homemade meals with simplistic delights like mutter-paneer and fried fish. Of languorous afternoons spent playing in hushed whispers, or curled up in ajju’s reading chair, nose stuck in a book, quietly sweaty under a too-slow fan, while ammama and ajju rested in the same room.

Those memories are inked in my mind, indelible like a precious tattoo that will never fade away. And thinking of that moment, the painful transition between the summer that was and the cold, empty home that lay waiting for us, uninhabited for a month now, still makes me wince a little. I remember it to be the earliest instance of truly experiencing being unhappy, low, despondent. One of times in my life when I registered what feeling sad was actually like.

We’d drag our tired bodies up the elevator, with our many suitcases in tow, with the heaviness of nostalgia for a time still fresh in our minds, trailing behind like a cranky child throwing a tantrum. But we’d walk through the main door, and suddenly the pall of gloom would lift. My mother would excitedly talk about dinner that she was going to cook. That magical concoction that was known to make everything better — saaru-anna. Potent, peppery, hot saaru (a kind of lentil-based rasam) that was comfort for an aching body and happy-food for the mind, as much as it was solace in a dinner plate for the soul. Served over a small mound of piping hot white rice. With a pool of ghee that you had to mop up and mix together quickly before it melted away and trickled all over your plate.

It’s the kind of meal that needs little else. Wholesome, complete, hits all the right spots, every time. Pungent, tangy, warm, like a hug in a dinnerplate – to use an over-used cliche. But there would sometimes also be a simple sabji, hastily thrown together with the simplest of vegetables laced with a generic, bare-basic tadka, tossed together with a hiss and a sizzle, with crispy cracking curry leaves and the essential soft freshly grated coconut crumbled over it.

Peace.

Slurp. Peace.

Slurp again.

And some more peace. Again .

The memories of expecting that plate of saaru-anna are as strong in my mind today, ensuring my heart lights up, as much as the memory of driving in at sunset makes me wince. Memories like this have a strangely comforting way of reminding us of so much in just a minute moment. A slice of time, that splices together so many events, feelings and the consequent flood of other memories that is inevitably triggered as a result.

If memories of that moment of the end of the holiday drag with it the memories of the many enjoyable summer vacations my grandparents gave us, the plate of saaru-anna will forever bring me closer to home. Will forever indicate an uplifting time to come. It was the perfect antidote to the drudgery of having to deal with post-summer-vacation blues.

It is no longer just a plate of humble homemade food. It is the promise of comfort. A powerful peg that I hang on to even to this day. Something about carb-loading on white rice has ever since remained my only association of comfort food. While some reach for a bag of chips, a decadent slice of chocolate or a stiff drink, to feel better all I ever really need is a plate of saaru anna. Comfort food is such a over-done, over-used, cliche term to bandy about these days. And yet, it is the only thing that can make sense of a meaningless kind of day. The only thing that can filter out the positive thoughts from a web of negative ones that has momentarily taken over your mind. Its the only way to settle the system, feel at peace, and regain balance.

It’s what I still turn to. It’s what I make when I return from travels and have to cook us a meal. When I’m tired and need a healthy upper in the form of a plate full of food. When I am blank and have no idea what to cook for lunch or dinner. When I am having a bad day and I need to get my mind off it.

Like today.

 And yet again, I turned to saaru-anna (rasamrice), with a simple palya (sabzi). And I went the extra length to fry up some happala (papads). And the finishing kiss of that essential dollop of ghee. It was certainly one of those deserved soul food. Except today, it was my mind that needed it more than my body did.

Day 1: Onwards and upwards, it is

1 Jan

In case you haven’t already noticed (if you’re still hanging around holding your breath waiting for a new post on this blog, and if you aren’t I don’t blame you, my track record has been abysmal the last 12 months) posting frequency has dwindled to a pitiful trickle around here. It actually started midway through 2014, when I began to lose interest in writing about the minutiae, and what suddenly felt like inconsequential details, about my life. I don’t mean to look down upon that kind of blogging, heck I did it for so many years, but I have just lost the inclination to keep sharing and reading that kind of blog. I realised it when noticed that I hadn’t done a round up of 2014 last year, and today I noticed I have a draft dating back to 1st January 2014. A sputtering beginning of a post about what I was apparently looking forward to in 2015, that I started 365 days ago. It was last edited on 2nd January 2015 and still lies unfinished. Obviously. As has been the general state of most things blog related this year.

Ironically, the post begins with a story about how a friend said to me on the first day of 2015 that she predicts it will be a momentous year. Given the rather wretched 2014 I had had, I laughed it off and gave her a dose of cynicism. My way of telling her I wasn’t expecting much, if the previous 12 months were anything to go by.

But, I couldn’t have been more wrong. So. Much Has. Happened. It will forever be remembered as the year (the first one since I quit my full time job in 2012) I went from working from home, writing to earn some pocket money to becoming what many women around the world call a Full Time Freelancer. The year I went back to earning a living, upping the ante for myself and supporting our lives significantly.

It will be the year I went through the most emotional churn in terms of my approach to relationships, drawing boundaries, learning to read people’s behaviour and not taking bullshit just because someone I was unable to confront was handing it to me. This made a huge difference personally and professionally.

It’s always going to be the year I struggled less with keeping up unnecessary relationships for the sake of it. I’m far from where I want to be – the unburdened, subtle, impossibly light and free being I think I once was – but I’ve made progress with this one, this year, more than ever before.

It is the year I had a ridiculously high number of girlfriend-centric trips. In Goa and outside. Which also made me realise I am suddenly the person who went from being the only girl in a gang of boys to suddenly being surrounded by only women. All the people I now call my friends are mostly women now – all in their 30s or over. And this has been life-changing. It has been liberating in ways I didn’t imagine the company of women could be. I am truly grateful for this.

It is the year VC and I took a few big leaps in terms of dropping roots. Oddly enough, it was the year we realised it was necessary to drop roots in order to fly a little bit more.

It will always be the year I did things like go whale watching and be surrounded by a boat full of puke-y Chinese tourists, eat a different cuisine every day of a short trip to Singapore, became more than mildly obsessed with Korean Dramas (subtitles, zindabad!), bought myself dancing shoes, joined a dance classes to learn how to Jive, Salsa and Samba, and finally mastered doing side splits (both sides!) and got impossibly close to doing a full box split.

I’ve had a fulfilling, enjoyable and abundant year in many ways. But I’ve also paid the price for being that busy, in many other ways. And yet, I’m unable to get myself to do a real recap of 2015, in the detailed way that I have in the past. Also, the goals I have for 2016 are too few and suddenly, too personal to talk about. This is a new development for me: not wanting to write and share, to declare, to make a statement, to put it out there. And this is something I will always remember about 2015.

It is the year something shifted within me. The year I decided what I wanted and truly put my nose to the grindstone, got down to it without a fuss. For the first time ever, I minimised the complains. There was tremendous fatigue, the expected dose of difficulties, requisite collisions with people and odd situations, and a palpable frustration that came from having to let many of the other aspects of my life slip, but only those close to me knew about it, when I chose to give it enough importance to talk about it.

As for the things I’ve had to sacrifice: I started the year wanting to read 52 books before the end, but stopped at 3. Three – a new low even for me. I completely lost my grip on the steady and dedicated efforts I was making towards craft, with my writing. My daily writing rituals and practice came to a grinding halt. I traveled so much, worked so much but didn’t catalogue any of it. I had a host of experiences, made so many new perceptions, altered so many old ones but didn’t write any of it down to remind myself. Heck, this blog tells the tale best. For the first time in forever, I neglected this blog – the space I’ve held almost sacred. I made no promises to come back any time soon. But, I had decided I wanted to talk less and do more, and this was a natural consequence of it. So maybe it shouldn’t surprise me that despite everything and the fair share of disappointments, troubles, impossibly high highs and low lows I faced, I ended 2015 feeling positive and satisfied.

So I’m just going to say 2016 is going to be about regaining some of that balance. Realign the focus, tweak it for what lies ahead and what we’ve chosen to make our goals for the next 12 months.

I’ve been on the brink of a next-is-what? for months now and I finally feel like things are reaching some kind of crescendo. It’s been a bit like climbing steadily up a slope, gaining momentum to get to a pinnacle of sorts. I cannot wait to get to the top so I can have a good view of the horizon and what lies over the edge. And onwards and upwards from there.

Have a good one, you guys. Whatever you wish for in the new year, I hope it’s momentous. Just like 2015 was for me. Unexpectedly eventful, bitter-sweet, but nicely done.

Irony repeats itself

15 Dec

I’ve said it before. And I will say it again – because this is a constant recurring theme in my life.

The trouble with being fiercely independent, largely sorted, mostly happy and drama-free, is that you fail to ask for help in ways that can be understood.

I see people around me who seem to be constantly surrounded by safety nets of concern, help always at hand and just emotional support and strength to make up for the moments when they’re lacking it themselves.

And then I see people like me. And VC. In many ways, giving comes most naturally to us – whether it is emotionally, physically, monetarily. Whether it is empathy, concern, grief. Or just plain and simple support to another, when he/she needs it.

Time and time again, we lose track of just how much we am giving. Forgetting that we too, as individuals, need to be a key recipients of our own love, concern, strength and support.

December has been a taxing month. It’s only the 15th, and I’m feeling weightless and like I’m floating along in an abyss. I’ve felt a gamut of extreme emotions – from overwhelming fear and worry, to debilitating relief, to pain and confusion, to wild eruptions of joy and laughter. And somehow it’s left me very, very drained.

Last week, I felt an inexplicable paralysis. I didn’t know where it was coming from or what caused it. But I was just unable to move, do much, or even talk to anybody about it. I managed to get my work done, but it was a struggle to finish on time, meet my deadlines and just stay afloat. And even in between all of that there were highs so high, I didn’t know what to do with the energy or where to direct it.

For days now, I’ve carried around this bundle of nerves in my stomach. This feeling of wanting to take a break. Just cutting back from it all and going into a shell. But December didn’t allow it. Work reached a pinnacle like there is no tomorrow, dear friends were marooned, others went through there own mini trials and tribulations, my family too had a fair share of mini upheavals – and I wanted to be there for all those situations. Predictably, spreading myself super thin. The trouble with being away adds to it because you can only mentally spread yourself *so* thin and no more. It is frustrating to always offer help and support over a telephone, and that has added to the confused state of mind.

I’ve wanted to take a break, but I just can’t seem to catch one. On Sunday evening, I had a remarkably insightful conversation with a stranger that reaffirmed this thought, crystallised it in my mind and made me realise its *okay* to feel this way. That it is not selfish to want it. And not selfish to go through with it. It’s ironic how we surround ourselves with people we love, family who is always just a phone call (or thought) away, friends with whom we share a camaraderie of the highest degree with, and yet there are moments in your life that only a stranger can fix.