If I had to do 2020 over

Wordless appreciation post for these two humans, that have stayed by my side, even when I didn’t ask for or express that I needed it.With whom I have unknowingly, unintentionally journeyed (literally and metaphorically) and grown (literally and metaphorically) in so many ways this year.

It was a year that pulled me away from all humans. Physically, of course. But also mentally and emotionally. I have withdrawn more than I saw it coming. My only other support, my parents who are otherwise just next door, and who I unwittingly lean on, are now in another state. My inner circle has dwindled down to just these two.

Even with all the utter rubbish 2020 brought our way, I’m super grateful these two were my constants — punching bag and body pillow, alike.

(What, year end thoughts coming already?!)

Soft

Sometimes when we make the choice to venture into the unknown—to break the old spells & quit dancing the old dances—we find distressing mental experiences waiting for us there. Fear, grief, shame and rage. All waiting to twirl their tendrils tightly back around our hearts. Hearts that have just freshly been cracked open, still raw from the experience of letting the hurt down.

Much of my personal journey has been in again and again meeting the experience — past and present — that trigger the same old responses of clamming shut, building that wall and shortly swiftly back to that solid heart that will not breathe free. The work has been in learning how to go soft. How to be soft. In showing myself again and again that it’s possible, safe, that I am not weak for choosing it, that I can do it. that in fact, I need it.

And because I have been at it for literally years now, I can recognise and I have a full body experience of moments where I feel thawed completely. Where my heart blooms open and life bursts forth, coursing through my veins, uplifting me.

This was one such moment. Lying in the sun in the driveway at home, one sunny afternoon after days of grey, grim, rainy weather. “Eating sunshine” with my blood women. My mother pacing about digesting her lunch, my sister catching the warmth on her face. Someone said something utterly ridiculous and it was funny, but not that funny and it set me off. I went I to a tizzy and a loop of endless giggles that rushed out thru my lungs, pushing my ribs apart. Coming out in gusts that made me shake and lose my breath.

long after the moment had passed I was still laughing, breathless, with tears running down my face. It felt for a moment like I wasn’t laughing anymore but that it was the laughter that had taken over.

I felt alive. Soft.

I recently came across a French word that struck me as delicate and beautiful. Not just in what it means but in the way it sounds and the form it takes — letters standing up tall but with a softness that shows a give. Touch it and it’ll bend, almost.

S’épanouir

It means “to bloom”.

And this moment here is a moment of épanouissement that I will remember fondly for some time to come.

Because, je m’épanouis.

Enough (and then some)

That old familiar wordlessness has returned. I’m beginning to see that it coincides with times when internal processes take over and/or a deep sense of contentment has arrived.

The past eight days has been a mix of both. What words I had, I directed to my family with whom I share this space. And it was enough.

It’s been hard to put in words the mix of feelings that have brimmed over for me. But if I were to be honest, I haven’t even tried. I’ve just been going with it.

Everything has felt just enough lately.

Find a way to be adrift and uncertain, pray your surroundings are beautiful, and hope that someone emerges who offers you some fruit.

— Helen Rosner

I’m getting so used to this cycle of things coming together and falling apart as a part of the very process of life itself. There is less alarm when things go askew, but there is great joy in the moments when they come together. Being with and experiencing my family this past month has been like that. Something came together, even as we coexist in our uniquely different ways, each with our idiosyncratic best sides that get served up only when we are with each other. To have room that allows for that, I realise, is a blessing.

I’m learning that the uncertain times, many times, precede the times when things come together. And so I take it when it comes around. I am grateful, and accepting of it all.

One year ago: Fries before guys
Two years ago: Say, say, say, hey, hey, now, baby
Four years ago: I had to talk about Coke Studio, just a little bit

Making gardens

This past Sunday, right after my weekly thorough home cleaning, my sister and I cooked a giant brunch that we ate lazily with my parents. We followed it up with coffee, carrot cake and pain au chocolat. Then, when my parents retired for naps, my sister and I got down to dirty business.

Just like the old days. When Sunday lunches were had together, lazily, in that post weekly-oil-massage-and-bath haze. And as soon as my parents would turn in for a nap my sister and I would begin some serious afternoon play. In the garden, mostly getting our hands in the mud, mixing it up with all kinds of nasty stuff (I remember atta and talcum powder, amongst other things) making concoctions and serving it up to imaginary guests at our imaginary restaurant or home or whatever else.

Except this past weekend, we embarked on some overdue repotting of some of my large houseplants that had long outgrown the pots they were in. Same, same, but different. All these years later, getting our hands in the mud is still our idea of fun and play.

The alocasia has been sprouting leaves furiously and consistently for over a year now, but I noticed some weeks ago that the leaves were beginning to get a tad smaller than usual. I’ve had a larger pot ready for it since December last year, so it was about time. The fiddle leaf fig, that I’ve named Salma, is doing well, but I read up about FLF health and it turns out they require well drained, loose soil, and infrequent but predictable watering patterns, in order to sprout those large waxy, shiny leaves we love. For some reason the nursery gave it to me with some compacted, hard-packed soil that I was convinced wasn’t working.

So we made a session of it. Mixing compost mix, cocopeat and garden soil with neem chunks and what not. Transferring things from one pot to another, uprooting my plants — which seriously gave me so much anxiety — and repotting them. And while we were at it, I also managed to separate some Alocasia babies that had sprouted by the sides of the main plant, and got two more plants out of it!

The propagation got it’s weekly bath in the kitchen sink, all the various receptacles got a thorough wash, and the cuttings were placed back in delicately. Next week they will find home in the earth, far, far away from this ledge the’ve been perched on for months now where I have been rooting them for my father.

***

There’s a definite increase in the number of butterflies and bugs and bees that visit the balconies of late. The other day a massive Monarch butterfly flew into my living room, wandered around for a bit, flitting from one plant to the next, even though none of them are flowering plants, settling on my armchair for a few seconds and left. And then, last week out of nowhere, we had a swarm of dragonflies passing through. They hung around for a good three days, but I noticed that at night, groups of them would cling to my pink bougainvillea, hanging upside down, asleep.

The garden is doing its thing, me thinks.

It feels like sigs of life are cropping up around me everywhere.

(I’m sorry this has turned into a full-on commentary about plants at large, and is probably not what you signed up for. But it is what it is. For now. Oh well.)

One year ago: It was all yellow
Four years ago: Empty

Things worth remembering (part 1)

The last two weeks were an emotional landslide, to say the least. I constantly felt the undertow tugging at me, dragging me down and asking me to slip and slide and go under. I was torn between giving in to it and letting to, or flapping my arms around to stay afloat. I did bits of both — neither with very much success.

At some point last week, things began to turn ever so slowly. Then the weekend came and I noticed an observable, significant shift. Yesterday, I felt anew again. I’m getting better at witnessing the natural (and maybe necessary?) ebbs and flow in my emotional energy. I also see how, often, the movement is aligned with either the moon, or some planetary movement that’s on the cards. I just notice, there’s nothing to be done. But it helps be lighter and easier when the shifts and slips and slides come, as they do. And it helps mark the moments when things aren’t spiralling and feeling well isn’t so entirely out of my grasp. Moments when I can breathe deeply and fill myself with life-giving air. When I can smile softly, subtly. When I can stretch myself and take up space fiercely. When I can enjoy life’s little gifts, however minute. I like remembering those moments.

Cooking and allied kitchen/domestic activities have taken me through the last three months of uncertainty. Giving me that window of groundedness and familiarity — predictability — in a time where things are anything but predictable. And after consistently leaning on this habit for over three months, my hectic schedules the last two weeks meant planning, shopping for, cooking and consuming wholesome meals was the first thing to fall to the side. This was the first proper meal I cooked after cleaning out my fridge last week. Mixed veggie stir fry in oyster sauce with broken red matta rice.

Been stalking these critters twice a day, everyday, for the last 10 days or so ever since I spotted them. Watching their every move ever since, as they are fast growing out of the gutter where they were birthed. Also exercising massive amounts of self-control to keep from giving in to my own achy heart that wants to take the dusty brown one in, and also VC’s incessant chatter about this spotting of puppies is the last in a string of “signs” that we should get one.

A surprise Sunday morning video call with the nugget/rosogulla/dumpling/firecracker of a new niece. It’s all kinds of surreal, yet somehow acceptable, that I have barely any smidgen of an ongoing relationship with so many of my cousins, but one of them has a baby this cute and suddenly I want to video call them?

The “new normal” featuring a live Kunal Kamra show via Zoom. It was more like hanging out in a room with a comedian and a bunch of random people, listening to the comedian talk about a realllllyyy random collection of things and being funny some times, and less like a live show I’d catch on stage. But it was interesting, and I stayed up later than usual for it, and I laughed a lot.

Three years ago: What coming home feels like: Bangalore sky porn
Four years ago: Kursi ki peti

Birthday gratitude

It could have been a less than ordinary birthday. It could have. Given the lockdown and the slim supplies and an empty bar and what not.

But many special, not ordinary things happened.

I woke up to the remnants of a nights light rain. My adenium that I’d given up on six months ago burst forth to life, with not one but two bright death-defyingly pink flowers.

My mother was first to wish me.

My grandmother wished me by telling me she remembered my birth story vividly because she was the only one waiting outside the labour ward. She told me how they brought me out, still bloody and slimy, pink and wet, and in the twelve steps it took to get to the waiting area I’d managed to shove the entirety of my fist snugly in my mouth, vigorously sucking. Making wildly loud noises, both eyes looking deceptively placid. Apparently.

VC wished me every time he approached me. Approximately 36 times, I think.

We ate Maggi for lunch and I took a longer than long nap.

I woke up to a telephone call from an aunt who called to wish me, who I ended up speaking to for over 45 minutes about everything from getting older to why I am glad I didn’t have babies to the state of our country.

Another aunt wished me with a memory of my 1st birthday. A raucous affair in my grandparents home in Bombay, by the end of which I had abandoned all other kids, apparently. Stripped down to my diapers. And with a random string of colourful beads that had found their way around my neck, too long for me, bobbing around my baby belly.

My dearest Niyu cooked me this massive storm. And planned this epic, dreamy garden themed sundowner party of three. It was perfect, and unlike anything I’d have possibly had if it weren’t for the lockdown.

It began at 5.30 and ended close to midnight. There was some gourmet level finger food all made by her singlehandedly at home, fresh fruit and cheese, drinks form my dad’s bar hahahaha, sunlight fading, this overgrown garden that hasn’t been touched by the gardener in over a month, drawing games!, music and what not.

Dinner was a sumptuous Asian style cold noodle dish with shrimp and a side of kung pao meatballs.

I did the smartest thing I could have and Swiggy’d a salted caramel chocolate cake to myself, for myself. Yes, I do this a lot. I’ve done it before too — sort my own birthday cake out.

It was truly, easily one of the nicest birthdays I have ever had. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Niyu has an excellent track record of throwing great dinners like this, in general. But she has a particularly great track record with throwing me surprise birthday dinners. Which I have only ever reciprocated once — on her 18th. Such an ingrate, but what can I say? I’m incredibly lucky?

I came home thinking of how I have ended up with VC and Niyu on so many birthdays now. And they’re easily amongst the most memorable birthdays for me.

This is how much VC hates being in pictures, he ensures he’s invisible.

One year ago: Gratitude
Two years ago: The beer I had for breakfast
Four years ago: At sea

It’s amma’s birthday

04/01/2020

Happy birthday, ammsss! Here’s to many more years of sheepish giggles, fierce conversations and weird faces in the sunlight hahahaha.

I don’t say it aloud, because I’m only just discovering it and because I don’t want to jinx it, but you’re a pretty darn good role-model and an excellent prototype for what is to come for me as I grow. In your life and the way you have lived it, I see shining milestones and subtle inflections, clues for how I can navigate those same waters myself, all these years on.

And even though I will always be your child, I am enjoying growing up, being my woman to your woman.

24/04/2020

One year ago: On belonging
Two years ago: Just a stirring in my soul
Three years ago: More books (and a mini Bangalore update)
Four years ago: Mean things I want to say aloud, but can’t

Too much

Today I feel implicitly like my I am too much for people around me. I see how the newness in me makes everybody back off. My opinions are too loud, my views are too angry, my state of mind is too discontent, my emotions too negative, my questions too unnecessary, my presence too much. Everything — just too fucking much.

I have been a certain version of myself for so long now and as I feel that person — that always put-together, more or less agreeable, mostly pleasant and cheerful, always awkwardly goofy person — receding to the background, I’m not entirely sure my little world is ready for what’s showing up.

What’s showing up is a lot of intense emotion right now. And aside from myself, it is being met by deafening silence — absolute crickets — or being brushed aside with mirth and laughter.

I notice, in the tacit expressions of frustration and disdain, that this discomfort is from the other. I see how every effort to explain myself is taken as an invitation for confrontation. It isn’t. And I couldn’t be arsed to further explain that. An older me would have panicked and twisted myself into knots trying to make myself more palatable. Or do my bit in making swallowing the bitter pill being presented a touch better, so to speak.

This new side of me that I am still groping at, in the dark and discovering piece by piece slowly, doesn’t give a fuck.

It is scarily freeing. And I feel afraid of just how much I can push the world away.

As much as I feel filled out and in my space and potency, in the steady and consistent stepping back of people, I also feel a hollowing ache. Bracing for a lot more loneliness in the months to come.

One year ago: Separate, yet connected
Two years ago: Where is the love

Bombay meri jaan

So. Bombay. It was surreal, fascinating, exciting, new. And a little saddening all at once. Yes, there was the work. Some exploration of the city, for possible future ventures there. Some one-on-one sessions, some powerful tarot sessions that moved me, and hopefully moved clients too.

And a visit to a restaurant I have been tracking and wanting to visit ever since it opened, almost four years ago (I think?). And there was vada pav.

And there was hanging with my cousin in a way that I haven’t ever had before.

And there was the happy coincidence of catching the memorial days of my great-grandfather as well as grandfather’s death, which takes on a whole other significance when you’re in the business of doing work around families and family dynamics.

It was fun. And it brought up a host of feelings from a host of different experiences. I’m still processing all that happened over the four days that I spent there. But it is hard to ignore, like with most other experiences lately, the fact that my way of seeing things has changed dramatically. It’s not sudden or new. It’s been a slow turnaround, but when I encounter certain experiences after a long time — such as being back in the company of my family in Bombay after so many years — the difference is accentuated.

For the first entire day there I kept wondering what’s different, what’s changed. Until I realised nothing much has in that world. Things are as well as they can be. And they’re largely the same as they have always been. It’s my eyes, my ways of seeing, my perceptions, my radar and intuition, that has changed.

The sense of a change was once again, not without that tinge of sadness. Sadness for the very distinct feeling of having left something very fundamental about how I used to relate and be a part of this family behind. As much as there is joy and liberation in working through old patterns, healing old trauma and moving on, there is always (repeated) grief about letting it all go. And being around my family, spending time in my grand parents home, reliving old times, brought it all up for me.

Internally, I felt very distant. Like I am in a faraway land, looking at that world from a distance. Intellectually, emotionally too, and in terms of where my life is headed, it just seems such a different world from the one I had stepped into there. It was oddly freeing, because I experienced so clearly some of the old bondages no longer holding me down. But it was also disorienting because I saw so clearly what had changed. And that process is never without a hint of guilt and shame, for somehow “caring less”. Once again, I had a visceral experience of this duality. And how the two poles most certainly can co-exist.

One year ago: Weekend highs and lows
Two years ago: May your feet always be swift
Four years ago: Blush

Recharged

I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year, really.

It’s been a week since I left home, and it feels like a lifetime has passed in my mind, during this time.

Feeling at home so deep in my bones, in my place, with a solid sense of belonging, is a truly unparalleled experience.

There have been worlds of thoughts marinading and being very slowly processed in my mind.

Thoughts about the power of truth snd conviction.

Thoughts about being impossibly heartfully connected, even as I find healthy separation.

Thoughts about how months of cultivating a healthy container seems to be giving rage a new kind of outlet.

Thoughts about an all new adult kind of definition of settlement.

I hope to unpack this slowly for myself over the next few days.

Thank you to this corner of Wayanad we now call home. Thank you for filling me up on ways I don’t yet have words for. But I will get there. For now, I’m Back on home turf, recharged and raring to go.

Two years ago: Here I go again (on my own)
Three years ago: 2016
Four years ago: In-bloom

To Mysore and

…back to the wild.

In four vignettes.

8 am at home.

11 am on the road.

1 pm at Mysore Railway Station.

4 pm en route back home.

Mandatory picture of parental unit, as seen in my adulthood, on a road trip rushing through just-planted paddy fields in that golden 4 o clock sunlight.

It’s a bit overwhelming, that I get to enjoy this peace and quiet, right here in my life without having to getaway or make space for it in anyway. I do have to physically get away to get here, but that suddenly my life is somehow fashioned so this is possible, and possible often kind of amazes me. Even now.

What a privilege and a blessing it is.

One year ago: Inhale. Exhale.
Two years ago: What is life
Four years ago: Reminders and notes to self.

Back to earth

This past year, I have felt drawn back to the earth in so many different ways. It has come up over and over in conversations, hidden desires, thoughts and dreams I’ve nourished privately and some that I’ve acted upon to bring into my life, in the events that have panned out and also the way in which I have strangely been on the move all year long.

Whether it’s the desire to finally really tangibly act on using less plastic, or the sudden life-altering need to grow a garden — I now see the source for both developments is the same. A need to find literal, real earth for my energies that were being directed into dropping new roots and finding new ground beneath my feet.

I realised today, happily, that this year I spent more than the average time I spend at the beach. Somehow, I listened and heeded the curiosity to see the hills for the first time in my life. And I’ve nurtured a year long desire to go back to the forests, harking back to the numerous family jungle safari trips we have made in my childhood. And right on cue, as with every other desire to earth myself, the means have opened up and happened. I’m ending the year amidst ancient trees, foggy, misty mornings and I’ve spotted two snakes, a baby crocodile and at least a dozen adorable pond turtles right in our backyard in my fathers home.

This year has given me a newfound respect for the planet, not just through these surprise desires but also through umpteen opportunity to pursue them.

I feel a deep reverence and a sense of being my own size when I’m out amidst nature. I think that is what essentially grounds me.

One year ago: Expand your mind, take a look behind
Three years ago: All the books I read this year

Ammama vs me

I had a regular Sunday yesterday, which, going by the last ten days was no different from any other day. I spent it in what is fast becoming the race to run out of content to consume online. But. There was one surprise event, that was easily the highlight of the day weekend. Actually, the entire week.

Ammama has just upgraded her old phone to a smart one some months ago and has started to use Whatsapp. Yesterday, she video-called me!

Ammama: What’s happening in Goa?

Me: Nothing much, I’m just…er…chilling.

I say the above sheepishly, because chilling idly for er, what – two weeks now? is kind of demonised in my family. Ammama would not be pleased and would have definitely frowned at me, if she had fully registered the extent to which chilling meant doing nothing.

First of all, look at her. Hair combed, bindi in place, in crisp clothes at 11 m on a Sunday morning, while I was clearly still in night clothes, still lazing about in bed.

I awaited the minor lecture about why I wasn’t up and about as yet and further questioning about “work” to come at me. But she totally sidestepped my reply and proceeded to unconsciously throw shade by telling allllll that she has been up to. Not just on that day, but the entire week. It included every little happening from what was cooked for dinner last night (vegetarian and non vegetarian menus in full detail, even though she’s vegetarian), what she ate and enjoyed, to where she went, whose boring company she had to endure at which unnecessary social gathering, what’s happening to various members of my extended family and who is up to what shenanigans.

And then she told me she was recovering from a bad sore throat and had fever until two days ago.

Man, way to make a lazyass girl who has done nothing for 14 days straight feel bad.

Nah, I kid. I was just thrilled and it literally gave me life listening to her ramble on and on excitedly, giving me all the scoop in such excruciating detail. To have that much zest for life at 84 is what I’ll aim for, and if I get to even half as much energy, I’ll be happy. But, truth be told, the prospect (going by current states of sloth) isn’t looking very promising bahahaha…

***

Speaking of sloth, it took about two weeks of not doing much by way of really making progress on packing up for the move, to finally getting going. And completely true to form, we’ve managed to get everything going on the last two days before we leave. I sorted out and tended to my plants a couple of days ago, finally emptied out the fridge today, took all our perishables over to D to use, figured out what else we’re taking and how much space it would need. Then, finally the movers arrived, and the pest control blokes promised to come tomorrow. It only took three calls to each of them and waiting over four days.

The good news is I get to take all my plants back home with me, and I’m over the moon at the thought. The bad news is there’s a suspected return of the cyclone, which might set us behind by a few days again.

This trip, like no other, has tested my capacity to throw well-laid plans to wind and see what happens. I have so far fared extremely well, if I may say so myself. But this last bit seems to really be testing me to the max.

One year ago: Ain’t it good to know, you’ve got a friend?
Two years ago: Hotel hangover
Three years ago: Invitation

A little bit of this, and a little bit of that

If there’s one thing the incessant rain has ensured, it’s a quiet Diwali. I don’t remember Goa being too big on noisy fireworks to begin with. In all my years here, I haven’t ever faced the sort of noise levels that I did, and one continues to face, in cities like Bangalore. But this wet, wet, wet Diwali ensured that even the little that usually happens, probably didn’t. We didn’t hear a peep, or see any signs of festivity up until yesterday morning. City centres, away from us, probably had their fair share of Narkasur shenanigans with the whole hog. No rain will ever really dampen that spirit, I suspect. But it was a nice quiet weekend for us.

I’m constantly underestimating the niceness of people around us. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t expect it, that I am surprised so often. Our neighbours came over bright and early on Saturday morning, looking bright eyed and bushy tailed, all freshly bathed and in crisp new clothes, wit three boxes in hand. One with hot, homemade gulab jamuns, and two others with some traditional poha-based sweets they apparently make here in Goa.

VC and dragged himself out of bed to get the door when they came a knocking, and then dragged me out — braless, teeth unbrushed and still in our night clothes — to come wish them and say thanks. Late in the morning, THE SUN CAME OUT, FINALLY. And it was really interesting to see how it instantly gave me life. I sprang into action, setting the house back in order like I usually do immediately after I arrive here. A day or sun also meant I could finally get out into the hitherto out-of-bounds terrace and tend to our plants that are now in varying stages of flourish. It’s super fascinating to see how they’ve grown, some literally since babyhood from nearly a year ago, and others from different heights and stages of fullness. We got out and shopped for groceries, brought ourselves mithai — the only thing we did to mark Diwali here at home — and ate a home-cooked meal of dal.

Finally it felt like Diwali by yesterday evening as we drove over to D and UTs, Goa was lit up, and we got to an absolutely resplendent home that was aglow with lights. Another night of cards, food and cheer ensued.

The kind of night that’s gentle and easy, but so fun, things got a bit blurry. For humans and doggies alike.

***

As of today the skies have officially cleared, the neighbours all have their Diwali lights strung out finally. The sun is doing its October magic. The street dogs around are making themselves heard again. The pao wala is zipping by twice a day, after not making an appearance ever since we’ve arrived.

The house isn’t in a state of being taken over by soggy, musty laundry, perpetually wet bathroom has had some respite and the kitchen is inviting again. Life as I know it here has resumed. And it has been particularly chill, easy, with flow, than ever before.

I was telling S this morning, that for me, the realisation that I must really slow down has been such a central part of this transition. Even after slowing down so much over the past many months, there seems to be more to do. Getting away from normal life in Bangalore seems to really enable that for me. I’m not surprised at the timely getaways now. And I am getting better at noticing what’s being asked of me — to be with the slowness and the now all the time — and allowing myself to take the liberty.

***

I have been sitting with some latent fear that’s constantly making its presence felt, in the subtlest way. It’s strange to be witnessing it, without it having a grip on me. I began writing about it one week ago, and I am aware I have avoided going back to the draft to finish it ever since. I’m watching even as the desire to articulate my thoughts comes up and goes even before I can act. I’m observing how I’m not sure if this is also a part of slowing down and letting go of the need for perfectly pickled, framed, articulate insights — I really don’t need them as much as I used to — or if it’s some sort of avoidance and denial. I’m interested in holding this space for things to just come up and flow out in their own time, when it’s right, while my need to rush in and do something about it abates by leaps and bounds.

Gratitude for S today, and the numerous chats we’ve been having constantly. It has been such a relief to have someone on the same journey as me, doing the same learning, traversing such a similar path, that they get exactly what I am on about when I share and express myself. God knows this has been much needed companionship during this time when I have felt even more distance from most of my closest friends simply because beyond a point I can’t explain what I am going through in a coherent way. Except with someone who has shared that experience closely, and journeyed with me.

***

Two years ago: More Goa postcards: Yellow
Three years ago: Soloism

Diwali

It’s that time of year. And I can say that because every year since leaving Goa, I’ve found myself back in Goa in time for Diwali. Playing cards. That’s three consecutive years now.

Interestingly, while Diwali was the one time of the year that invoked the desire to be around family and do family things, in all the years that we lived here. And while I tried to drum up the enthusiasm to cook something and do something between the two of us, I always felt the lack of a larger family to celebrate with. So it’s super ironic to me that every year since moving back, for the last three Diwalis, I’ve left family behind in Bangalore to come here. And somehow I’ve always had a welcoming bunch of people to celebrate with. Also interesting to note that it’s always at D’s home. I wonder if this has become something of a tradition without us even knowing it. Some Diwalis ago, I wrote about yearning for tradition but also wanting to make it relevant and my own, and look what’s happened.

I’m losing sorely today. But making up for it in sangria and small bites.

I’m grateful for festivities that begin early. For homes away from home. For friends that turn into family quite effortlessly.

That’ll be all.

One year ago: You and me, we come from different worlds