To new Mondays like these

I’m home.

And so just like that we are cohabiting again. Which means we have to both adjust to the rhythms and routines of living with one other human being around us. The added detail this time is that VC is probably going to be working out of home for the foreseeable future.

It’s exciting as hell, because everything is suddenly different, shiny and new and I love all the extra time we get together thanks to the fluidity that comes with having complete control over our schedules. But it’s also been a touch unsettling, as much as it was unsettling when VC moved away. Because it means getting through a bunch of suitcases once again, finding space for all our expanded belongings again. And until that happens, especially over the weekend, the home felt a bit like an obstacle course. I’ve noticed that this tends to happen very quickly when VC is around — things never find their way back to where they belong, they hang around, scattered and misplaced — and our tiny home begins to feel cluttered very quickly. But I’m also observing how this time I am less perturbed. Aware, and observant of the mess, but more realistically accepting, not annoyed as yet. Also allowing for ease, time and space before we get to unpacking fully.

It means that I have to temper my excitement of having VC around a lot more. It curbing allllllll the random things I want to say to him over the course f the day, because unlike me, he can’t compartmentalise his brain and chat while working. So I have to save it up for break time.

It means I have someone to outsource the chasing away of stray lizards that makes it into the home, rather than brave the horrendous task myself.

It means replacing the long-drawn facetime calls of the last year with actual facetime, everyday. More togetherness, more conversation.

It means twice the laundry, twice the cooking, twice the planning, yes.

It means realising once again that it’s possible to feel wistful and nostalgic about the time I had living by myself, simultaneously as I feel an overwhelming excitement about the days to come. The two can coexist. Like with most other dualities, I find myself no longer trying to choose and pick a side. Accepting one doesn’t make the opposing force less true.

It means spontaneous Monday afternoon jaunts to eat things we randomly crave, without having to plan or schedule them. Like we did today, with the intention to eat a really good burger — our last real binge and the end of the holiday life before we get back to regular programming and eating healthy, home food again — which turned into us eating really good steaks at an old Bangalore favourite. It did not disappoint.

It gave me special thrills to take an auto back and forth, to walk down the streets of CBD together on a typically Bangalore November afternoon with a slight nip in the air, a distinct breeze with the sun shining down too.

For now, I’m definitely home.

***

Gratitude today for the twists and turns of the last year. And like VC said to me yesterday, ever so grateful for whatever it is outside of us that has shaped and enabled the way in which our relationship has evolved and brought us to where we are today.

One year ago: And yesterday becomes tomorrow
Three years ago: Slow down, clown

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Into the wide open

We left a blisteringly hot and sunshiney Goa yesterday, and have entered overcast, grey sky weather in Karnataka today. It stormed all night with scary thunder and lightning. But it means a more comfortable drive today. For VC more than me, who is happier riding when the sun is playing hide and seek.

Today, I’m grateful for the way in which VC and I can see eye to eye and make good travel buddies. It makes even tedious journeys like this one a touch more fun.

One year ago: While the world plays for our pleasure
Three years ago: Midweek blues

Drive

Our car will be ten in the new year. And while she’s begun to look her age, thanks to nine years and nine monsoons in Goa, she still runs like a very young girl off to chase a dream at the slightest opportunity.

Many little niggling things have been acting up. The AC has been on its last legs for about a year now. The headlamps were horribly foggy until I scrubbed them with baking soda yesterday. The speakers have been in various stages of disconnection for a long while now but kat year the music system itself came unhinged and stopped working. All it’s good for is charging a phone. So this drive hasn’t been easy. The heat is a lot more intense than I expected, the air is dry as hell. There’s no music to be had so I’m using a portable speaker because I’m all alone (with two suitcases riding shotgun in the front seat) and I could do with some entertainment.

Also, this blasted curse of development just won’t let things be. Forget setting dysfunctional things right, they’re hell bent on fixing things that ain’t broke. So the perfectly decent highway between Goa and Bangalore that made for a comfortable 10 hour journey just one year ago has shot up to a painful 14 hours. The road is pretty flawless, silky smooth, but the endless diversions every few hundred metres has made it painful. Getting on and off the rough service roads, throwing up clouds of dust and dry air as we bump down terrible stretched of dangerous half-built roads, means one can’t even enjoy and maximize the good bits for what they’re worth.

As such, we as a country deserve nothing good. No amount of “development” will ever be good enough and worth it because you can’t get on a “world-class” highway long enough before a tractor lazily ambles across without warning, or a two wheeler shoots at you on the wrong side of the wrong side of the road just to avoid going the long route to make a U-turn. We’re the pits.

So it hasn’t been a fun drive. And yet, I’ve enjoyed driving. If that makes any sense at all. Because my car, my gosh, she is still so fine. And perhaps the only advantage of having a choc full car loaded up to the brim is that the weight in the tail of the car means I can take all the bumps easily. I accelerate and the car complies, no fear of people or things flying around in the back of the car. There’s grip and grounding.

Anyhow, leg one of this arduous journey is done.

***

Today and glad and super grateful for my parents who absolutely insisted (not that I needed any coaxing and convincing at all, but still) I learn to drive as soon as I turned 18. It has made making movement in my life so much more significant.

One year ago: What do you need to make your wild heart beat?
Three years ago: Holiday mornings

I’m eaassyyyy

Today was the first high-energy, productive, moving-around and-getting-shit-done kind of day we have had in over a month. It’s ridiculous, really. Considering we were to leave this morning, and yet even until late yesterday evening — with under 12 hours from proposed departure time — VC and I hadn’t begun actually packing up. I really don’t know what we were waiting for, except that neither of us seemed to be in a rush to get a move on.

Instead I went off early in the morning to spend a couple of hours with D, while VC got some work done. Then we met up at lunch — we managed to squeeze in another Thai meal like it needed to be done more than packing needed to be begun  — before we came home in time to catch the pest control fellows and packers who came two hours later than anticipated. Which meant more waiting around and more time being spent not packing.

We had a list of such random errands to finish, and odds and ends to tie up around the house before we leave. We came with every intention to get it done in a systematic way. In fact before we arrived VC had even said to me I’m going to start doing one thing everyday and tick it all off. But somehow, despite that, in what is now unsurprising, typical fashion we only got around to lining it up somewhere at the end of last week. And it took till yesterday for things to actually happen. In the mean time we traipsed about town, played a lot of taash, met up with friends, went out by ourselves, spent two days in Morjim, loafed around to escape power-cuts at home, and also spent an inordinate amount of time chilling at home.

So anyway you get the gist, yeah?

Finally, when the pest control fellows had done their thing and left, and the packers had packed and moved my plants back and forth around the house yesterday, it was past 8 pm. VC and I were left looking at cockroach carnage around a mud-streaked upside-down house to clean up. When I realised that neither of us was in the mood to do that or even begin packing VC’s stuff, and instead were had chosen to sit back in bed with our noses in our respective laptops, I just took a call.

Let’s leave on Thursday, I said.

And just like that VC agreed.

Then we laughed, and I said to VC, maybe it’s just time to embrace the fact that this is who we are — last minute people. Maybe this isn’t going to change. But I realised this is always how VC has been. He packs his suitcase before an early morning flight, even earlier in the morning, between waking up and leaving home. I’m the one that this is a whole new world for. This is not at all who I used to be — leaving everything to the very last minute, not panicking at all, changing plans on the fly, postponing departures at the nth hour, being okay with sudden change of plans.

I should’ve guessed this was where we were headed when we spent over 2 weeks in a state of ease and relaxation, when we could very well have easily and painlessly managed to finish all our tasks well ahead of time. Instead we somehow got them all done in the last 24 hours. It is fascinating me no end that there is suddenly such an allowance for this, in measures I have not known were possible. Even writing a post like this some months ago would have come with a sense of relief, tinged with regret at how last minute everything has been. But I feel none. I do not regret how much fun I’ve had, how much sleep I caught up on, how much we have eased up and relaxed over the last two weeks, and how much we have enjoyed this home and this unique time where neither of us had much else to do but be in each other’s company, in Goa. it felt serendipitous and I’m glad we just had the ability to go with it.

Anyhow, this morning, something kicked in. We woke up and swung straight into action and had an almost steroid-induced bout of work. We packed up in hyper-efficient manner, turned the house complete upside down, cleaned it out thoroughly, and readied it for it’s next interim occupant. So efficient were we, that we even had time to have a lazy lunch and catch a two hour nap. In the evening, because we had so much time to spare and nowhere to be, we even loaded up the car with all the many bags and boxes, so tomorrow we have to all but wake up, get ready and drive out.

It felt like a fitting day of movement and clearing, to be up and about like this, of productivity, after weeks of slowness. And I almost cannot believe how this has all worked out, but somewhere in all of this there has been a turning point in our beings, and a lesson for me going forward.

***

I’m leaving Goa feeling grateful that we found someone to take the house (even if for a short while) so it will be lived in and looked after until we visit next.

One year ago: It’s a lazy afternoon
Three years ago: Okay bye

Moving on

If I had ten bucks for every time someone confusedly asked me So what’s the plan, really? or some variant of that with regard to this moving back and forth between Goa and Bangalore life, I’d be able to buy myself a ticket to take yet another flight to Goa, I think. It’s been confusing as hell, I believe. Even now, a whole year later, I find I’m still explaining that I’m in Bangalore and VC has been in Goa, and sometimes I’m even explaining why we have this arrangement. Officially, I suppose what seems to everyone to be a precarious balance has ended. VC and I will now be in the same city. And if you really had to make me pick a side, it is Bangalore, for now.

But I guess it’s official now. Because our plants left for Bangalore today. The packers were a bit amused to see that the plants were literally all we’re shipping back to Bangalore. And judging by VC’s stance and expression, what he’s thinking is probably This is one of the stupidest things I’ve done in a while.

But that it how it is. The rest of the house remains, and I believe it is a not-so-subconscious attempt to keep the back door open, so we may keep coming back. Even with all my readiness to move on, the growing sense of an ending with this chapter, a feeling of having somewhat grown up to stepping into an all new phase in love and in life, I just can’t get myself to believe fully in my bones that we’re moving (yet again) on from Goa. I’ve been wondering if maybe this is one of the side-effects of having a home here? It makes a place never too far off? And this easy access is always just a flight or a day’s drive away. But today, after I spent a couple of hours this morning hanging with D, I realised it’s more than just the home. It’s connection and belonging that goes beyond physical limits. When I left Goa in 2017, it came with a lot of ties broken off with people here. I left feeling quite orphaned by the place, with little sense of belonging to salvage. And even though most of those people aren’t in my life today, others are. Others with whom I have significant, growing, constantly evolving relationships that seem to surpass time and distance in a way that was difficult for me to do even just two years ago.

I guess what I’m saying is Goa — even with all it’s befuddling changes that break my heart on a daily basis — will always be home in some form. It is after all, the place that gave me space to drop roots, sprout wings and fly in what was easily the most formative decade of my life thus far. It’s where I made friends with folks who have significantly impacted and shaped this very important phase of my life. And there is a sense of belonging in that, more than in the physical idea of Goa as a place. A part of me does feel like it belongs here.

What I’m also trying to say is, this feels like yet another short-term good-bye, and not at all like the heart-wrenching goodbye from moving lock stock and barrel, like it felt in 2017. This feels like a see-you-very-soon rather than an alvida!

***

Gratitude today for all the restful days I’ve had in Goa. It has rested something deeper within me, in a way that I couldn’t have done in my own home, smack in the middle of my regular life in Bangalore.

One year ago: The rest is up to you, you make the call

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

For Kashmir

Two weeks of Rohail Hyatt being back in the freshest season of Coke Studio Pakistan, and there’s already so many reasons to get back and be hooked.

  1. Rohail is back producing it
  2. Zeb is back
  3. Atif Aslam looks and sounds like he’s grown up
  4. The season features Fareed Ayaz, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Sanam Marvi
  5. It’s already sounding like it’s full of the old, peaceful vibe of the old CS Pak days
  6. It’s raining
  7. Did I mention Rohail Hyatt is back?

I’d lost interest in the show once he exited his position as producer because he brought in a certain perfect aesthetic that no producer ever after managed to even come close to matching up to. And there have been oh-sooo-many producers and directors after him, not a single one could level up. In all the many seasons after his moving on, there have been so many misses more than hits that I’d gotten used to cherry picking the good tracks I could weed out of the trash and consoling myself about having to make do, when what I wanted was a whole seasons worth of music to fill to my hearts content.

Eventually, I skipped the last three seasons because the experimentation just got too much for me. To poppy, too noisy, too loud, too out there, just not tight, just not together, just not melodious even after a point. There’s a space for experimentation and fusion, but it can’t come at the cost of pure melody and aesthetic. It can’t replace music with noise, and unfortunately the last two seasons have been just that for me — noise.

Until this year suddenly my attention was piqued all over again because I heart Rohail Hyatt was back. I’ve been hooked, good and proper, since the premier three weeks ago. Atif Aslam has had a growth spurt, he’s singing well, he’s making sense. The general set isn’t OTT. The overall music production quality is sane and soulful again. The collaborations have been coming out of musicality first, and everything else next. There is a general sense of respect for the music, primarily, that is so palpable in every track so far. And I’ve only had a meh reaction to one out of seven tracks so far. That’s a bloody good conversion rate compared to the last few seasons.

I’ve been properly addicted, tuning into the BTS previews that release on Wednesday, and getting hyped like crazy in the run up to Fridays, when the episodes release. On Friday, there’s a dramatic countdown that happens on the video as it premiers live across the globe. And it has been such a rush to witness the release of these tracks along with other fellow junkies all shouting Rohail for president! and other versions of this in the comments as the song is slowly being released. S and I have been tripping cross continents, hyping each other and getting psyched in anticipation, on cue every single week.

I already have a season favourite.

The BTS, if it’s possible, is actually as good as the song. This is a song by Kashmiri poet Habba Khatoon who was called the Nightingale of Kashmir. In this she laments her beloved who has gone missing, for not returning to her, and keeping her waiting. It’s a comment on conflict and loss of life and love.

And I cried when I watched it. See for yourself, if you’d like. It’s worth it.

They couldn’t have timed this better even if they tried. And Zeb’s bright, twinkly eyes, the perfection in voice, and her heartfelt attempt to embody the spirit of Habba Khatoon, and her despair in missing a loved one, just did something for me that day.

The day the song released, the comments section was a celebration of love. There were loud comments harking freeKashmir! literally in thousands. Watching that, sensing the hope and optimism in those words really did something for me. Of course, I cried some more.

In the words of Zeb herself, “If we put aside what is right and wrong, the truth remains that in places where there is trouble, our loved ones are sometimes separated from us. This idea of missing someone when you don’t know where they are, it’s so relevant to places that have turmoil and that has been the experience of Kashmiri people now for centuries.” And it really hit me then, for centuries we have only heard stories of conflict, politicised stories that benefit nobody but those in power. Especially now, more than ever before, I’m suddenly curious to know more — what of the culture of the people there? What do they sing? What do they read? What do they eat? What are their celebrations like? What is it like beyond the face of turmoil and anguish that’s presented to us? Especially at a time when Kashmir is in a state of a blackout, I ask myself again and again, who will tell their stories?

It is so easy to get caught up in the right and the wrong, in the political angles. They’ll always exist, of course. And to choose one or the other will always put us in places at opposite ends of the spectrum. But what we’ve lost in all of this is basic humanity, a sense of basic rights, and this is something I’ve been sitting with silently (seeing as how this is not something I can discuss out loud, in person anywhere in my immediate surroundings) ever since the abrogation.

Thankfully, there are some people at work. This video needs to be seen.

[Trigger Warning: Violence and Bloodshed in the video below]

Is it possible to look at the humanity? At Kashmir in the context of conflict and it’s effects on people? Is it possible to put the justifications and political ideologies to the side at all?

I don’t know. And not knowing makes me very, very sad.

***

I’m grateful for music today. For poetry and the power to express such deep emotions through words in ways that can cross generations, centuries and touch hearts long after they were first penned. I’m grateful for artists like Rohail Hyatt and the entire Coke Studio Pakistan team. I can’t believe I’m going to say it but I’m thankful for Coke, else I don’t think I’d have accessed this goldmine of music ever.

I’m grateful to live in times of peace in my part of the world. For stability. For love and life as I know it.

One year ago: October
Three years ago: Diwali 2016

Food for my soul

It’s now been almost an entire month of no exercise, and even though I had grand plans to get back to eating normally (after the Manali holiday), here in Goa, that was not to be either. I tried, and realised very quickly that between extended Diwali shenanigans, meeting friends over meals, going to the beach, and general state of relaxation that has ensued, it wasn’t a sensible idea to force eating “right”. So I gave in and went with the flow instead.

There has been a lot of beer, a lot of alcohol, a lotttt of sugar (unbelievable amounts in fact, in comparison to how much I’ve cut it out of my diet), a lot of eating at odd times, ordering in, eating out and a lot more meat than I have been used to lately.

It’s always fun for a short while. I realise eyes and my brain that dream up the food I want to eat, enjoy it far more than my tummy does these days. Nearly a year f consciously eating better, eating cleaner and generally listening to my system has made it quite…not sensitive, but balanced, in a way that it is quick to protest when the balance goes off kilter.

I’m ready to hit reset and go right back to eating two meals a day, cutting table sugar out completely and eating home-cooked food again. But there’s still some days to go before I can do that. Tonight, the temptation of a new joint that’s doing momos and street-style North-Eastern fare has lured me out to dinner again. Then there’s the weekend before we leave on Monday or Tuesday.

So today, I gave my tummy a break from all the indulgence with the comfort food that I most crave when I hit periods like this. Those chips have become a staple in my meals here — see what I mean by off kilter?

I recently told D that I have discovered the easiest trick to sustain any kind of food plan and make it stick and work is to allow for moderation. I find that I do that by including semi-frequent indulgences and the occasional falling off the bandwagon. That said, this has been a good year for fitness, for pushing boundaries physically, for getting closer in touch with my body, for health, for food, for finding balance and for wellness.

Gratitude today for all the ways in which opportunities aligned for me to focus on my health this year. Whether it was finding means to sustain my regimen through all the travel, reconnecting with a trainer whose methods really worked for me (over distances even), finding a sense of balance with myself that encouraged me to keep going, discovering joy in running, living within walking distance of the gym, walking on Sunday mornings pretty consistently for nearly a year now — I feel like this year I really found my groove with fitness and didn’t have to really effort much. Things fell into place, they happened, and I just moved through it with minimal difficulty and very little mental doing. It helped save all my focus for actually working out instead.

One year ago: These days are better than that
Two years ago: More Goa postcards: Walking through Mapusa market
Three years ago: Light and life

Seaside blues

What you didn’t see in yesterday’s pictures, and what I missed to reflect on, given that I wrote the post in my post sea-swim bliss, was how strewn with trash and how awfully filthy the sea was. Thanks to the combined effects of the sea being in full churn, from ten days of cyclonic, stormy weather — many red alert days — and a full moon, there was trash just everywhere.

Not ideal, but one anticipates this sort of filth on the beaches more popular amongst tourists. When we moved here nearly ten years ago, local friends would tell us to go beyond Anjuna — which was something of a cut-off point — to find quiet, cleaner beaches. That imaginary point slowly moved up to Vagator. Few years down it went even further up north to Ashwem. I remember one summer, perhaps it was 2014 or 2015, we went up to Ashwem expecting to find some peace and quiet, and found literal busloads and hoards of picnicking tourists trashing the beach. For two years after, we went all the way up to Arambol whenever we needed a beach day. I was really shocked and deeply saddened yesterday, to find Morjim in much the same state.

It’s not just the filth on the beach. Something about the vibe up north has changed. The approach to the beaches, the streets, the stores and outlets, the quick and disturbingly unplanned way in which buildings and settlements are cropping up — everything feels different. And of course this means more people, more trash, more noise, more desensitisation towards the place around us.

I watched it with my own eyes when I accompanied VC down the beach where he wanted to take some sunset pictures. Morjim felt like Miramar, and if it wasn’t for the stunning sunset, I might have come back really sad. I was so tired of dodging piles of shit and rubbish. And VC was already clicking his tongue thinking about how much filth he’d have to clone out of his pictures. He said this on Instagram too, recently.

I know Goa’s garbage problem has almost touched the point of no return. And I feel a sense of helplessness when I think about where that will take us from here on. The load on the land isn’t reducing any time, systems don’t seem to be at all keeping up with where things stand today, or prepping for the future, and it just makes me wonder with worry about where this will end. And if there’s a way in which it will end even remotely prettily?

***

That aside, it was a wonderful getaway. The fact that somehow, I have spent the last three Diwalis — every one, since leaving Goa — not just back in Goa, but in close proximity to and in the company of D and UT, dawned on me earlier today. In another day it might have felt like a chance coincidence, but three consecutive years is a bit much to ignore. On our first trip back here since moving, at the same time of year, we came to Morjim to spend a day and a night. And it was only the first of oh so many, many trips back to Goa where we stayed with them for extended periods of time, ending in a whole month spent with them, babysitting the puppies, while we got our flat ready for VC’s move last year. I know I’ve always said this about sharing space with them, and having a sense of home here. But I think it is as much about a sense of home in them as people, as it is about having a space to come to.

Given the number of friendship lessons the past few years has thrown my way, the difficult realisations, the betrayal, the disappointments, the pleasant turns and coincidences, I am grateful for (and I don’t think I flip this around on it’s head to see the other side often enough) all the people who have remained.

We had a really chill 24 hours. Slowness, sessions for gabbing, silences, swimming, saltwater, squids, sleep — lots of sleep. VC and I might have gone away for a day somewhere on our own before we left, but we ended up staying only because it’s easy in the company of D and UT. Plans melt, have tos get bent, must dos are forgotten. I’m glad we made the trip away. It felt like a satisfying send off from Goa, for now, before we begin packing.

One year ago: Quiet movements where I can find

The sun. The sea.

The sun comes out. And we make it to the beach. A swim in the sea, a dip in the pool, a stunning #nofilterneeded sunset.

I’ve been thinking a lot about money lately. Specifically in context of earning my own again, and chasing some of the experiences I want. It’s easy, when one does that, to lose sight of the experiences one has, that one is in the midst of, the luxuries one already affords, all that is accessible and a privilege. Not to say, of course, that one must aspire for or dream of having more, but the luxury of coming from a holiday on the hills to a week of some more relaxation in a home in Goa, and being able to take off and check in to a resort for a night to be closer to the sea, hit me today. And while I set my eyes on future goals and targets, I want to also acknowledge all that’s in my present. I’m grateful for today. For the sunset. For the sea.

One year ago: The wild unknown

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

I’ve had enough

It’s day for of incessant rain and I didn’t think I’d ever complain about it, but here we are. I’ve frikking had enough.

I haven’t seen the sun since we got in on Monday. We haven’t started on any of the errands we need to. In fact our departure hangs in mid air because VC plans to ride his bike back to Bangalore and we can’t even plan to leave until the rain subsides. I haven’t resumed running like I wanted to. I haven’t been able to take this opportunity to get back to my food plan in earnest, and my smoothie lunches. Because, power cuts. Many, many power cuts.

It seems like yet another intervention making my best laid plans go to waste. Literally washing away all my good intentions. But my grip on it is much looser than before so going with the flow has been easier. It’s a wonder, for example, that it’s taken four days before I got to the point of having had absolutely enough of this rain.

I have spent a major part of my time relaxing here. But the lack of sun light and fresh air (because the rain has been so unimaginably heavy all our windows are shut all the time) is finally, finally getting to me. I woke up this morning feeling borderline depressive. Gloomy, down in the dumps, imagining plates of the best food that absolutely nobody will bring to me, with just bread and eggs in the fridge.

This morning we have had no power since 8 am. And finally when it got too much to bear we left the house. Unshowered, just rolled out of bed, changed and left to find the nearest place that will give us beers.

And so here we are. Staying indoors was really beginning to mess with my mind.

I’m taking this as an intervention and trying to accept with grace how little control over my plans, I have. I’m happy to be outdoors. It’s green as fuck, and the temperatures are low, borderline cold, thankfully. I’m going to try and make the most of it while I can.

Incidentally, today is exactly one year since VC and I packed up one person’s worth of living stuff and drove across to Goa separately. Full circle, today. Gratitude for this journey and all that is has unwittingly brought to us.

One year ago: Getaway, you know it’s now or never
Two years ago: Postcards from Pondicherry
Three years ago: Book quandary

Moarrr rain = a lazy week

By now I know that this extended rain isn’t an occurrence isolated to the coasts alone. It’s been raining all over large parts of India, from what I have read and heard. But what I’ve experienced in Goa in just the two days since coming back is phenomenal. I don’t remember it being this heavy even earlier this year in peak monsoon.

This feels like July or August once again, but it is just so much more…relentless. Powerful, unstoppable, aggressive, almost.

Yesterday we had some respite in snatches. But at some point when we were busy playing taash last night, it began to come down again. Loudly and continuously, with no signs of slowing down. It continued well into the night and even as I drove home in the rain closer to 1 am and we got into bed, it didn’t seem like it was going to pause anytime soon. I woke up to the same rain, same intensity, same darkness at about 9 am. And it has just gone on and on and on like that all day long. I am not even exaggerating. I slowed down a wee bit, just a tad, in the afternoon and just as I heaved a sigh of relief it came clamouring down again at about 6 pm, and it’s the same story all over again. It looks and feels a bit like there is some endless source where this is coming from, and it is nowhere near done.

It’s been 20 days since I got any exercise at all. I mean any exercise. I haven’t moved a limb. First it was the holiday, then the hectic week at class. And so I came to Goa prepared to at least resume running again. Outdoors, I thought. Since there’s so many places to go here. But I guess the weather has other plans. So instead of moving again, I’ve spend a majority of my time here in bed. Between the darkness thanks to the nonexistent sunlight, the great sleep vibes this house has, rising late and generally letting myself go this month, I’m writing October off as a dud. A rest month.

Something about being here with absolutely no need to wake up “on time” always brings out the lazy in me. It’s been interesting to see how I can let it be. So far, I’ve slipped into some form of routine here too, but nope I haven’t even tried this time around. The help doesn’t ring the doorbell in the morning, there’s no gym to get to, VC doesn’t even stir because he has no work to get to, and I have absolutely no demands of me. So I have gotten more sleep than I imagined I could these past three nights and two days.

I’ve even been slow to get started on the errands we need to tick off before we pack up and move cities yet again. I’ve been late to write a post everyday. I have two drafts I want to get down to fleshing out, but they remain as they are — half-written. I have an essay submission to make and tonights the absolute deadline, but it’s in bits and pieces and I’m dragging my feet on tying up the loose ends like I have all the time in the world.

The weather seems to have changed our plans, and for a change I’m going with it. Coincidentally, my body has also needed the rest. A week of class means a lot more to process physically, and that had exhausted me way more than I realised. So I suppose it’s natural that the minute I put myself in a no-demands environment, it’s claiming the rest and sleep in needs.

***

Even as I’m a bit peeved by how goddamned wet it is, I’m grateful for the break. For the sleep. For the rest. For the contemplation and clarity that has come because of it.

One year ago: We’re never done
Two years ago: On going solo
Three years ago: Weekend snippets

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

Flying the nest

Thankfully, today’s rain wasn’t as severe as the full ass storm we landed into yesterday.

***

For a while now, I’ve been feeling a sense of a separation, of individuation, from various things in my life. It showed up primarily, in a big and apparent way in class. But I am slowly also seeing it in other aspects of my life too. With people, with experiences, with friends, with a phase. It’s a sense of feeding myself, fulfilling my needs in a self-regulated manner, and being able to move on cleanly.

To my shock, today I felt the same about Goa. I have, for too long now, carried the feeling that my time here was always tainted with a sense of struggle and having to try so hard at everything. To find work, to meet good people, to make friends, to feel fulfilled in a whole way. And those fundamental needs, as long as I’ve been looking to fulfill them outwardly, ways felt unmet. No matter how hard I tried.

The more I a work towards integrating and filling myself up, the more I’m finding resources for a majority of my needs within myself. Either that, or the wherewithal to get what I need from elsewhere. There is a significant movement from that childlike, primal, fundamental needy way in which I have needed things — from people and places — and the way in which I experience these same needs now.

Something within my is filled up. And it has made that bitterness, that feeling of being wronged all the time, of having gotten a wrong deal, so much lesser. None of this is to discount the shitty things that have happened, but the charge they have carried has significantly reduced.

All my trips here this past have been strangely bittersweet, an odd flux between feeling between two worlds. Settled and ready to fly. This time, aided by the sense of closure that has come from VCs decision to return to Bangalore, I feel palpably like this chapter is done. And it is a relief to be moving on without that need to run, getaway, leave behind, erase and sever all that Goa has been — which is what I did the last time around.

***

Gratitude for the cradle life has created for me for all these years, as I navigated and understood what it means to grow into an adult and be there for myself. Gratitude for the situations life has thrown at me this year, to show me how ready and capable I am of flying the nest. Gratitude for life’s little coincidences in leading the way.

One year ago: They say you were always enough