Day 142: Ground control to Major Tom

Postcard from Thailand 1.

I’m getting a big old dose of salt water therapy today.

Transmission may be patchy for the next week or so.

Adios.

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Day 141: We keep this love in a photograph

There are times in my life, when smack right in between being surrounded by people, having so much activity going on, loving the highs and silently tiding through the lows, putting on a big smile on my face — I feel incredibly lonely.

Sometimes I’m lonely because of the beliefs I hold. The beliefs that are getting deeper, well-formed and articulate, with every experience I have. My opinion on the world. My socio-political stance. The resulting choices I make on an every day level — from choosing lesser plastic to taking a shared cab to feeling — are a reflection of the values I have and the beliefs they have birthed. And the thing with having my beliefs grow louder in my head is also realising which of your people have similar beliefs, and why. And feeling warm and fuzzy in that sense of togetherness and a shared conviction. It also means sometimes realising the beliefs of people on the polar opposite end of the spectrum, which is a far less happy-making feeling. And when it comes down to political views about our country today, add to it the feeling of being in the minority of people who feel deeply about many things the large majority couldn’t give a rat’s ass about and that despair and loneliness, a palpable helpless and worry that we’re all just fucked at the hands (and unthinking brains) of a bunch of low IQ savages rises very, very quickly to the surface.

This is the price I have to pay for having a firm set of my own beliefs.

Many time the loneliness is because the journey of self-awareness is by nature a very personal one. And not a lot of it makes for easy sharing or cheery conversation. Much of it is in fact best done silently, in private. That isolation invariably draws lines where none existed before. Lines separating me from people I once held close, between me and the places I love, things I indulged in. Lines that rein it in and draw me inward. None of this comes from a place of really wanting to be a touch-me-not in isolation, but simply that the full benefit of the journey is best experiences in private.

That too, is the price I have to pay for being so highly invested in my self-development.

Some days I become so acutely aware of how lonely and quiet it gets now that I am offline so much. Absolutely no social network, 10 hours off whatsapp every night, lesser and lesser time spent online during the day — my world and the world around seem to be constantly moving inwards and out in waves. The means to access and stay in touch with everything is fleeting. Some days I manage it better than others. But many days I don’t even really try.

Dealing with this strange kind of loneliness — suspended in a web of togetherness — is the price I pay for getting off the grid and seeking human interaction more than any other form of interaction.

There’s a lot of other ways in which this loneliness, the price I pay for being irrevocably committed to being my own person, rises to the surface. But, I have realised that every single time that I find myself cut away from the various groups and factions I dip in and out of, every time that I find myself despairing about being alone in the way I feel, the choices I make and the things I go on and on about (that often feels like nobody gets it), I have a place to come home to. And that sense of home and belonging, that instantly dispels the loneliness, giving me a safety and security, the space to be me in all my imperfection, is VC.

VC is my person. My home. My end-point, no matter how far or away I may stray.

This past weekend particularly, I realised that VC is the only person (aside from my parents — they deserve a salutation and a whole post to themselves) who really takes me as I am. A motley mess of still-developing beliefs, weird and inconsistent patterns, a constant work in progress, a far-from-perfect person.

VC loves me, just the way I am, at any point of time. He has loved me at my worst, as much as he has loved me at my best. He has loved me through the sweeping changes in between. He has loved me because of who I am, and he loves me despite it all. He loves. And he loves and he loves.

With VC, when I pay attention and allow the inner voices in my head to shut up, I always feel like I am enough, just the way I am. With all my unfinished business, the jagged edges, the yet-to-be-smoothed patches, the contradictions and the unexpected flare-ups.

This past weekend I realised that much of the progress I have made these past few years in getting closer to myself, knowing myself and being my own person, is because no matter what happens — how much I rock the boat, how far I wander, or how much I stir the hornet’s nest, I can always come home. To him.

It is a lot to be thankful for, this solid rock to fall back on. And it is such a powerful feeling to know, and really know in the way that I have felt it this past weekend, a good ten years into our marriage, that I am loved. And I am soooo enough. Just the way I am, inside and out. To understand suddenly what it means to never really be alone.

And so today, I just want to give thanks and really feel the gratitude I am, for the crazy-ass twist-and-turn life that brought us together, and the ways in which we have grown these last ten years. And for the place we are in today.

That is all.

Two years ago: Day 141: Malleswaram market things

Day 138: Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day

On staying present in my emotional reality*

I’m sitting here pondering about time again. How it has this uncanny, tricky, devious way of slowing down just so, just when I need it, and picking up pace, just as is needed. Never really in my control, but always making me conscious and aware of that delicate way in which it passes, just skimming by, barely touching.

This month is panning out with a seesaw of days that rush by, leaving me breathless, my mind whizzing, but with a fair number of days that have begun with something strange and new for me — sloth, and an inability to get up and get going. This is completely new ground for me. And entirely alien feeling, this one, of not being a morning person. I’m a bit flummoxed at what is at play here.

Part of it could be residual effects of the workshop in Goa — something major has shifted, though I’m not exactly sure what!) and some changes are afoot, bubbling beneath the surface. I can feel it, and it’s giving me the butterflies in my stomach in anticipation, except I know not for what I wait, or what is to come.

Outwardly, it is playing out a bit like ennui, only on the days time hangs, when the slowness of it all becomes obvious. Meanwhile the churn continues just below the surface, out of sight. But it isn’t quite ennui in that there is no dissatisfaction at the heart of it. In fact there is that anticipation growing under cover, like a pupa sheltering what’s inside it from the world. It feels like what will emerge will be entirely new, unexpected, bright and exciting, in a way that the present state (pupa!) refuses to reveal.

Inwardly, there is a feeling of unsettledness. Something is astir. Call it a silent churn, the gentlest movement that is causing no major upheaval. Yet, is apparent in that slow whirring, low-hum, shape-shifting sort of way.

I’m taking it one day at a time. Observing the little changes — noticing which ones make me smile, which ones leave me a bit off-centre and grappling with finding my space again. I’ve been having broken sleep, which has also contributed to waking up not feeling entirely rested. There has also been a lot of thoughts buzzing, resulting in conversations and reading. But my mind refuses to be held by much. Not much work has happened, or much reading. I’m being awfully forgetful and scattered on some days. And all of it is feeling like this isn not quite me. Much of this has surfaced post-Goa. So, I am just letting it pass.

I think I am dealing with these times of transition much better than ever before. I am learning to have the patience, to dial in to the subtle shifts that happen in quiet moments that usually go unnoticed. I feel more persistent about tiding the low, as much as I do about riding the highs. And I feel overall more excited about what is to come, even as these moments of being present sometimes leave me exhausted.

More and more I’m finding not just the benefit, to use a staid, dull and clinical word, in staying, but also the joy in the process of staying.

Stay until the end, and there will inevitably be a beginning. Stay to begin a new, and lead myself to the inevitable end. Rinse, repeat. It is becoming the only way for me to be in the present, for as many moments as possible. How else can I know, watch, see, and feel? How else can I live through this?

“One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done…” She was always asking, “what’s next?” [laughs]  But as soon as we’re expecting the next moment to give us what this one is missing, life becomes this game of next, and what’s the final destination? It’s death.*

This is where the dance of time comes in to play. In every little moment throbbing to life right before my eyes. Time, grabbing my hand and taking me along some times, dulling me into a lull some times, caressing me gently as it brushes by, or turning things into a tizzy as it rushes by.

I stay. Because I’ve learned that everything reveals itself much better, much clearer and much fuller, when I stay.

*If you’re interested, Maria Popova has some incredibly touching, thought-provoking thoughts on staying present and grounded “in one’s emotional reality”, that have spoken to me in times when the loud and often harsh voices that dictate the shoulds and musts often out-shout the far quieter voice that struggles to make itself heard. And in times like this, when my capacity to stay is being stretched to the max.

Two years ago: Day 138: Flame of the forest

Day 136: Waiting here to find the sign, that I should take it slow

One of the expected side effects of growing self-awareness is how clear my own bullshit becomes, and despite a struggle how much quicker I am to call bullshit on some of my behaviour, patterns and tendencies.

But nobody told me it was going to also become easier to notice other peoples’ bullshit just as easily too. It often lands me in a quandary, especially with friends whom I feel I owe honesty. Do I speak up? How much should I say? And how do I say this without sounding self-important and risking trivialising the issue?

I am also realising that mostly, this self-awareness is a privilege and a gift. One that I must handle with care. I’m learning every day, to separate noticing bullshit from spilling over into judge-y tendencies that tend to go into building entire stories in my head. I slip up sometimes, but I’m getting better at noticing it when it happens, and nipping it in the bud.

On the flip side, it doesn’t make the awareness go away. For eg: when a good friend is being a jerk, or being silly, or maybe just floundering in a way that you can help fix, it’s hard not to notice. And so often, I find myself having witness a peculiar behaviour, and sometime siting with the knowledge of where it may be coming from. But more and more, I keep myself from jumping to provide an opinion or solution. I’m trying to exercise restraint more often than not, because every body has their own journey of self-realisation to make.

In a seemingly insignificant conversation this week, I noticed two things:

  • My absolute refusal to get dragged into drama that is fundamentally not mine, or drama where none is needed, has peaked.
  • Instead of flapping out polite, rational, “correct” responses, I actively take some time out to think about what is happening and how it is making me feel, before I respond.
  • Consequently, my responses are clearer. Firm, but articulate. Calling bullshit, but kindly.

I patted myself on my back for my proportionate and precise responses that keep the drama at bay, and the conversation short. N said something yesterday that really resonated with me: it’s a step up to be able to talk about things that I’d otherwise just stew about in private, allowing it to cripple and cramp me along the way. It’s nice to keep working out the kinks. And sometimes seeing proof that whatever’s at work, is working.

Day 135: I’ve been keeping all the letters that I wrote to you

What coming home feels like: When your home and your heart are in two places 

I’m grateful for Goa.

Specifically, for the love for stillness that it kindled in me. If there’s one thing my trip to Goa last week affirmed with a resounding yes, it is that I love, need and thrive when I have the space and quiet for stillness. Without it, my life and everything I strive for today, would not be the same.

For introducing me to the people it did. It’s a small place, Goa. During my years there, the rather motley combination of the organisation I worked for briefly, and the career choice I made later on, plus the fact that I was one of the very few known bloggers from Goa at the time, and my fitness and related life choices, I met a wide range of people and very soon, I realised the pools and circles had intersected. I had reached a place where I couldn’t go anywhere without meeting at least one person I knew/knew of. While this invoked a sense of familiarity at first, it also grew stifling in the later years. When it was time to leave too, it was the desperate need for freshness in people, new connections that definitely spurred the need to move on. I didn’t leave on an altogether positive note, in this respect. But going back one year later made me realise that I’m so fortunate to still know and hold deep bonds with some of the friends I made there. People I can stay with, people I can call on, people I will go the distance to rekindle some of the experiences I have shared with them. People who will gladly have me over and back in their lives. It is particularly telling to note who this set of people includes, today.

For the immediate sense of freedom I always feel so palpably. It was all kinds of liberating to be able to drive out in a car without tints, in short shorts and a tank top at mid-day and have zero pairs of eyes curiously looking at us. I say shorts and tank top because it’s what I had on on that first day when I drove out to drop Niyu off and run some errands, but really it isn’t about the clothes. I was always aware of this luxury of anonymity when I lived in Goa, but being in Bangalore for a year and see-sawing between trying to be myself and blend in with as few raised eyebrows (even when fully, modestly clothes and adequately covered up *eyeroll*) as possible has made the luxury even more special.

For the wide open spaces. The green hubs. The views.

For the market freshness.

For the breakfasts.

I am really enjoying being in this wonderful sweet spot with adequate time and distance between us, and giving myself the permission to enjoy Goa anew. Maybe it is the contrast between where I am now (mentally and emotionally) that makes it possible to be a little balanced and measured than I was when I moved. Maybe I just needed to look away to clear out all that clouded my opinions, in order to appreciate Goa for what it was. Maybe I needed a shift from the over-familiarity and the comfort of a cubby-hole I had gotten myself in. Maybe it is just that I needed a year out to recharge my batteries.

I’m grateful for Goa. And it will always have a large part of my heart.

Day 134: April

Last month in worries-vanish-within-my-dream

April came and went in an absolute flash, perfectly blending a few busy days where I had no time to do much else but keep swimming, a whole lot of time with family, and a very liberal dose of Goa-tinged nostalgia. It is almost like my subconscious steers me in the direction I need to move, without my ever realising or noticing it. In March I felt a bit run down and tired from not having enough time to myself. And almost in response, April gave me a lot of that.

April had so much family time — mostly down time spent at home, with them, or reading and catching up on TV. My grandmother came down for her annual summer trip and this year, more than ever before I got to spend time with her. This year, more than ever before we have actually engaged, chit-chatting as she spirals down her rabbit hole of memories.

I marvel at what it must be like to be in her 80s, in 2018, having experienced the sea change the world has seen in just one lifetime. Changes not only in the world around, but closer home, amongst her family, her children and grand children. Life today, is nothing like it used to be when she was younger. It isn’t even bear a remote sliver of likeness to what it must have been like when she was younger — having witnessed the Independence movement, the onset of liberalisation and the boom that followed. If I live to be 80 or more, I wish for at least half the agility, quiet calm and wisdom she has to watch peacefully as things change.

Time spent chatting with her also spiralled a lot of contemplation for me. And I’m thankful for the little break from hectic work and assignments to allow the churn to throw things up like it did.

Last month, in severe contemplation:

  1. I realised it is impossible to seek happiness alone, without a host of other feelings.
  2. Priorities, and the busy-trap
  3. Musing about punctuality (or the lack of it), passive aggression online, and cats
  4. On the necessary autumns of our lives
  5. Some more thoughts about my body and how it has changed as much as how I feel about it has changed
  6. A visit to LifeStyle and more thoughts about accepting our different bodies happened
  7. Self-improvement is usually two steps forward and one step back
  8. Self-improvement, change and how it sometimes affects relationships
  9. On the meaning of ambition, success, productivity and finding myself outside of it

Last month, in what happened:

  1. I read two books about marriage
  2. Unexpected catching-up with long-lost friends
  3. I finished 100 days of posting this year, on exactly the same day that I moved to Bangalore last year
  4. Some overt self-love lets itself shine through
  5. Work took over our home for a week

Last month, in indecision:

  1. I realised my Bangalore honeymoon is officially over, and this city is getting to me
  2. Consequently, I spent a whole week home-sick for Goa, and contemplated thoughts on living well and how much the city around matters

Last month, in gratitude:

  1. Because everything is never as it seems
  2. Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
  3. I got mad, mad love
  4. All the small things
  5. Just a stirring in my soul

One month ago: Day 92: March
Two months ago: Day 60: February
One month ago: Day 32: January

Two years ago: Day 134: Things about VC I never want to forget #16

Day 131: Please don’t go

Postcard from Goa 7.

MAJOR GOA WITHDRAWALS IN PROGRESS.

I promise to stop this pcture posting standing in for actual writing now. And let normal programming resume on Monday.

(I think.)

Two years ago: Day 131: Summer evenings

Day 130: Simple things

Postcard from Goa 8.

Aaaand. It’s done.

I suppose this ought to feel really good, but the darn thing took so much longer than anticipated, and had so many untoward delays, and the waiting has taken forever, that neither VC nor I knew what to feel when we were handed the key.

I’m grateful for everything that’s gone into making this possible. Mostly for VC, because on my own, left to my own antics, I’m not sure I’d get down to doing anything to own a little place of my own.

Now, to let that sink in a bit.

Two years ago: Day 130: April

Day 129: What are they talking about, on the weekends?

Postcards from Goa 6.

All things considered, all said and done, there’s something so deeply compelling about how much I slow down in Goa. I know these are pictures of not the average “everyday occurences”, and not indicative of regular day to day life in Goa, but I’ve observed how much my being slows down, slips into an ease of pace that requires no rush.

I’m grateful for the chance for a year away to come back and appreciate all that I had grown to ignore towards the end of my last stint in Goa.

Second chances are rather life changing. I highly recommend them.

Day 128: Sweet dreams are made of these

Postcards from Goa 5.

Duffer dogs are the sweetest dogs. Today’s pictures and this one from a few days ago, feature three of the sweetest, most human puppies I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Two years ago: Day 128: Retrograde rant

Day 127: Another day, just breathe

Postcard from Goa 4.

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

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

Day 124: I’ve been saving this time

Postcard from Goa.

For the fourth time now, coming back to Goa has made me feel like I never left. It’s a comforting, welcoming feeling to know I can belong and yet have the distance I sought last year.

In the coming week, we will hopefully be tying up the loose ends on the home we now have here and much of this idea of feeling at home in two cities, both places, will probably begin to feel like reality rather than pipe-dreams.

It’s very serendipitous for me to note that I came back here to do two very crucial pieces of work (as far as moving forward in life goes) — finalise our home and do a two day workshop for the course I’m doing — on the very same date that I traveled to pack up my Goa life last year.

This feels like Im settling open ends and making new beginnings. And sometimes that comes with a second coming too, I suppose. As with much of my life, I’m welcoming and accepting the place for second chances and looking back at things if they present themselves, without letting old feelings and aversions cloud my judgement.

Basking in a spot of sunshine, I realise that this could very well have been a time to reminisce all that could have been, and instead it’s about all that is. And that shift is such a gift.

Two years ago: Day 124: Kangana Ranaut’s crash-course in honesty, feminism and empathy