Day 318: I have tried in my way to be free

Things that haven’t changed (and probably never will):

  1. Last minute panic. Despite weeks of planning, spreadsheets and lists, and being in Goa for three weeks now, the bulk of all the work to be done with setting VC up in our new home happened in the last three days. And since this was largely due to reasons out of our control, there was no option to even be frustrated about it. With nobody to point fingers at and nobody’s door to place the blame on, we’ve had no choice but to go with the flow. Right up to the very last minute. Which means I have to leave home at 8.30 tonight to make my flight back home, but at 4.30 I’m in the house (which now, in addition to the other work going on here, has a hole where the main door lock used to be) waiting for work to get done.
  2. New beginnings in a new home with the same old tradition of getting locked out. So, for three weeks now as I’ve been slowly getting things in order, we’ve waltzed in and out of this flat with ease. Today we finished some major bits and D and I lit a little lamp and laid out a few cards to honour and invoke new beginnings and good luck, and just we wrapped up and locked the door, it has refused to open again. It took my (very new) neighbour to valiantly climb out of his balcony adjacent to mine, teeter on the edge and climb into my home and enter through a thankfully unlocked balcony door, before he could open it from the inside and let me in. My parents have had this utterly strange phenomenon where almost every home they’ve moved into, they’ve been locked out of at an auspicious moment. I guess I’ve continued that tradition perfectly and I’d like to think of it as good luck. Phew.
  3. It’s still horrifically difficult finding a handyman or handy-people to do odd jobs here in Goa. It’s largely why everything has come down to the wire in the last three days. Goa is Goa is Goa, I suppose.
  4. While it has been largely easy to swallow the hiccups and resign myself to the slowness of this situation, I think the stress of these last few months has finally started to show on me. And as usual, the first thing to be shot to shit as a result of internalised stress, is my skin. Its so apparent this time around, with my face looking and feeling really, really crappy. Oh well, back to square one and getting things back in order once I’m back.
  5. We’re far from done, and the house is still so bare but as usual, just the sight of curtains and dappled light makes everything feel homely. Immediately.

Things that have changed:

  1. VC has surprised me by being the worked up, easily hassled and frustrated one of the two of us this time around. Every time that we’ve been in a situation like this in the past, with life up in the air and very little control on what’s going on, I am usually the first one to cave. This time around we’ve reversed roles and I’m pleasantly surprised.
  2. I’m excited to be nesting again. But this is the first time we’re doing in a home of our own. The energy has been so different this time around. I’ve always thought I’m the sort who likes to daydream about homely spaces, and be in love with the idea of a lovely home, more than I actually have the will to act on it. Every time that I have felt a burst of inspiration to do anything around the home, it fades immediately after bare minimum is achieved. Perhaps this is because none of those spaces ever felt fully like my own. I’m noticing how much free-er we are able to be with decisions and spending money on the things we want to believe we deserve now that this home is for keeps. I’ve watched amazed as we’ve taken swift decisions and extended ourselves in uncharacteristic ways, with all things to do with the home, these past few weeks. There’s been a lovely sense of permanence about this that is so new and enjoyable. I’m almost envious that VC is the one who gets to enjoy this new space all on his own before I ever will!
  3. Maybe it’s for the same reason that I’ve also felt far more connected with this home. And it’s the newness of it all that spurred me to do this. I’ve never been one for rituals. Especially if the house warming sort. But something has shifted in recent time, making me create rituals of my own. Little acts of faith, grounding and sincerity that probably have no place in religion, but mean something far more to me than my supposed religion ever will. And so I lit a lamp, and gathered these cards in the name of prosperity and celebrating new beginnings and sent out a wish to the universe to bless us as we do this. This song and dance of nesting that we’ve done so many times before. And yet this time it seems so very different.
  4. After largely being emotionally in tune for the most part of the last many many months, I’ve been front a bit frayed these past few weeks. A sense of loose ends, everything up in the air, an unsettling front of everything around me building up to something but having absolunk idea what, and the stresses and strains of thisove have left me quite beside myself. I have felt disconnected and it’s shown on more than one occasion. All of which was revealed in this card reading for today. I long for some time to root myself again and the coming weekend promises just that.
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Day 298: Getaway, you know it’s now or never

The last time I drove long distance mostly by myself, was when the boys cycled to Wayanad and I tagged along in the “support car” with all their supplies. Today, I drove halfway to Goa mostly by myself. I say mostly because I was in the car, all alone, but I was driving alongside (not literally) VC who is riding his bike to Goa.

With a car stuffed to the gills, and a bike strapped to the back, it really felt like a fugitive-on-the–run kind of scene this morning as we set off. And yet, it just doesn’t feel like goodbye. It’s the strangest, strangest mixed-up, turnaround of emotions that I just did not anticipate.

Few things make me feel like my father’s daughter like long drives and road-trips do. Today, all by myself, I felt it even more so. Maybe it’s so deep in me, this ease to get on the road and get going, we’ve done this so much growing up that I don’t give it much thought. I just agreed when VC asked if we could split the driving. 24 hours ago though, I was suddenly not so hot on the idea. A massive resistance to pack and get going came over me. I put it down to everything — PMS, the very full moon and even just the strangeness that has been this entire month. But it was too late to back out anyway.

So here we are. Thankfully, I had a really good drive. It was punishingly hot and dry, there was an inordinate amount of traffic getting out of Bangalore, but even so, once the road opened out and my playlists kicked in, I felt like I had slipped out of the funk and into a new energy.

Skimming the road, keeping an eye on VC either in front of me or like a dot in my rearview mirror, I enjoyed my music and solitude, the frequent chai breaks, the oranges I ate peeling them with one hand. It was a long and exhausting drive today. Strange, considering it’s only half the journey, and we usually do the whole 670 kms in one shot. I’m super glad we decided to break our journey, and so I get to post this from the comforts of my hotel room, where I am under the covers as I munch on pakodas and chugging a Coke, waiting for room service to arrive.

Driving alone means you usually have just your thoughts for company. And I had plenty today. Music-related thoughts, Bangalore thoughts, and thoughts about the twists and turns life has made this past year. Maybe some of them will make their way into subsequent posts. Maybe, maybe.

I’m determined to slow down the hectic energy that has consumed me in October, reminding myself to just keep flowing, just keep flowing. If today — it took us twice as long as it usually does to finish this leg of the journey — is anything to go by, things are on track to slowing down for sure.

One year ago: Postcards form Pondicherry
Two years ago: Day 298: Weekend snippets

Day 297: We’re never done

Distracting ourselves from this unsettled limbo like feeling that’s gripped me all day.

You could call this a Bangalore-style goodbye of sorts, I suppose.

One year ago: On going solo

Day 284: September

Heaven, let your light shine down

I’ve thought long and hard about how I can sum up September. I’ve written, re-written and written again, this post collating all that happened in the month, and yet the right way to put it together has eluded me. Continues to elude me. It’s odd because so much happened in September. I was busy, the days were long, I was out and about, and then I went away on what can easily be called one of the best holidays of the last decade for me. Somehow, I’ve been lost for words.

This morning, I realised that perhaps it’s okay. That perhaps I must post this anyway, without neatly tying everything up with a bow. September was over-stimulating. September was snappy and brisk. And yet, September has left me silent. September has made me sit down and be still again.

For far too long now I have been seeking this stillness within. The sort of stillness that steadies me even in the midst of bustling action. Suddenly I realise, September was all about that kind of stillness deep within. Stillness that anchors, steadiness that fills a space. Somewhere, unbeknownst to me, that steadiness has crept in making space for a quiet assuredness that makes it possible to rest without my fingers fidgeting to hold something, to flow from one thing to the next without always knowing how or what or why, to be busy on the outside and calm within all at once, and to let go of the answers knowing that I can sit still with the questions swimming within.

Uncertainty, quietude, surrender, unsettling — there has never been a time in my life that I have enjoyed any of this. And somehow, here I am today doing exactly that. So here goes.

***

I had a shit ton of work last month, and the added pressure of finishing it all before I went away. And in classic fashion, I procrastinated a helluva lot before I eventually got it done.

Despite that, there’s been that stillness I mentioned. Peaceful, easy days with emotions running high, thoughts astir.
I feel a deep sense of contentment for where I am right now and all that life has brought for me, especially this past year.
I pondered about inclusion and what it means to evolve and think back wistfully, to older versions of myself.
On distraction and my relationship with screens.
Thoughts on social media, as a result of unrestricted screen-time I had.
Writing every single day this year has been not just exceedingly joyful, but also beneficial.
I’ve also found a new dimension of friendship that fuels me.

HAPPY days of love in September included the Supreme Court decriminalizing homosexuality in India. And our tenth wedding anniversary.

I spent a large chunk of the month in Europe and I posted every single day. Sometimes with words, sometimes without.
Enroute: Day 0
Paris: Day 1: Hello Paris, day 2: walking about, day 3: more aimless wandering, day 4: in love with the city of love
Brugges: Day 5: rainy welcome, day 6: all is forgiven, day 7: lessons in uncertainty
Amsterdam: Day 8: sensory overload, day 9: catching sunrise and sunset, day 10: last day reflections

Gratitude, as always.
For choosing the slow, flexible life that supports my inner being.
For the abundance that has come my way in recent times.
For love: in strong friendship that has grown unexpectedly, for family that comes through against all odds.
For friendship across continents, timezones and life spaces.

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***

One month ago: Day 246: August
Two months ago: Day 219: July
Three months ago: Day 184: June

Four months ago: Day 152: May
Five months ago: Day 134: April
Six months ago: Day 92: March
Seven months ago: Day 60: February
Eight months ago: Day 32: January

One year ago: Things change
Two years ago: Day 284: Escape

Day 274: Snap back to reality, oh there goes gravity

Reporting from the comforts of my home. With over twelve hours of sleep under my belt, three cups of filter coffee, an entire meal with dal and veggies included cooked by me, two loads of laundry done and the extreme luxury of a bum-spray in the loo. I am truly home now.

It was a whirlwind of a trip, to be honest. Not our usual laid-back, unwind kind of beach holiday. We’ve clocked some crazy kilometres on our feet, seen every sunrise and sunset, and used every mode of public transport available in these cities (ferries included!) over these past 12 days. Such a far, far cry from our usual beach holidays. It wasn’t just the walking that I’ve mentioned so many times before. There was something very different about the energy on this holiday — the keenness to get out and explore, to see things, to push ourselves rather than settle for the usual wind down, find a spot on the beach/on an island and not move till the end of the holiday.

It’s also the holiday we pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones. Took buses instead of flights. Chose hostels instead of hotels. Did things I thought I was done doing — sharing a room and loo with complete strangers. But it all worked out, and I’m a bit chuffed at how it did. This has clearly been a time for discovering unexpected things about ourselves. Yet again.

As a result, it’s also been a bit emotional. I’ve had a world of feelings surface. From overwhelming excitement, incredible wonder at little things I observed about city life and people in Europe, to touch of regret about how little of it we see back home, a realisation that I have quite a bit of harboured shame about being Indian, and a rekindled urge to live overseas. Some more regret about not having chased that dream sooner too. And a heart burst open with the realisation that it’s not too late to do it over now.

However, the overarching emotion has been a lot of love and gratitude. And nothing sealed this more for me, than coming home after a 12 hours (with over 24 hours of no sleep), when I could have been very crabby and cranky, but I returned happy and content. Not all holidays end this way, you know.

There’s always the usual blues I feel even just coming back from Goa. But to have a full heart and to actually look forward to being home again, said a lot about how fulfilling the holiday has been. I feel like I had the best time I could have possibly had. I got a lot from this holiday — expected and unexpected. And it was just so satisfying.

We ended up staying with S in Paris for one night. It wasn’t even remotely part of our plan. And then J flew in from Hamburg to surprise us. And suddenly our time in Paris changed dramatically, unexpectedly becoming a reunion that stoked a warm fire of forgotten memories as we conversed endlessly, laughed and gossiped. There was also so much wandering wherever our feet wanted to take us, picnicking in parks, lounging on street corners, eating wherever and whenever we pleased, some pub hopping and LOTS of wine.

I had a moment when I realised that I’ve known these boys for almost a decade now. There are few people I think of reconnecting with the way I do with these fellows. In the years since they left Goa, and we did too, we’ve all gone wildly different ways. They’re not people I actively stay in touch with. No social media means I have to make the effort, and I haven’t been very good at all with that these past few years. I might send the occasional text, J relentlessly sends me postcards from his travels, but that’s about it. We’re not clued in on the little ins and outs of each other’s lives anymore like we used to be. But it always happily surprises me when time and time again we manage to snatch chances to catch up. It’s nearly not as frequent as we’d like it to be. But we do manage it, and when we do, time rolls back and slips effortlessly right back to the way things used to be. Distances diminish, boundaries collapse, timezones melt down and we’re the same four bodies drinking and eating and listening to good music and having a laugh all over again. In fact, this was the fourth continent that I have caught up with S in. Over our third bottle of wine and an elaborate snack plate at S’s on our last evening there, I actually told them this — there’s not a lot of people I have the liberty and good fortune of doing this with, but with them I know it will always go back to being easy like we know it, and that’s what makes me want to do it again and again.

I ponder over friendship a lot. I have a lot of different kinds of it in my life at the moment — a whole varied assortment of friends — but even so I am a bit raw about recent experiences in this respect. And this realisation — of what we have with J and S — was soothing like balm. That afternoon, I might have healed a long sore wound and filled up a little emptiness in me.

VC is easily my best travel mate for a range of reasons, but mostly because of his keen sense of curiosity and ability to go all out to get what he wants. It means if he sets his mind on something — a spot for his evening shot, or a particular cuisine we feel like eating, or finding the most uncommercial things to do — he will go all out to make it happen. This compliments my low-key, go-with-the-flow attitude completely.

The rest of the trip had VC going a bit batshit with the photography. You can see his pictures from the trip on his Instagram page. All the aimless wandering certainly helped, and if it weren’t for him and his obsessive commitment to getting all the good pictures, I might not have explored these cities the way I did with him. Ever so grateful for that. Ticking off museums and sights wasn’t on our agenda, so we just took every day as it came, deciding in the morning what we felt like doing, which direction we wanted to wander in, with no real fixed agenda.

It was my second time in Brugges too, so things felt a bit familiar up until them. Amsterdam, on the other hand, was a whole other story. A massive cultural onslaught that smacked me in the face. I thoroughly enjoyed, for obvious reasons bahaha, even though it felt like an odd mix of Bombay and Goa at times which disoriented me in the beginning.

Of course, I’ve left a piece of my heart each in Paris, Brugges and Amsterdam. But I am also feeling so content. I’m so full of love for the experiences, gratitude for how everything worked out despite minimal planning, and I am most thankful for how much the holiday has triggered in my mind, pushing me to get out of my head, and the amount of fodder it’s given me to move ahead from here on.

Two years ago: Day 274: For every down, there is an up

Day 250: Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof

I’ve had such a delightful week. Despite the heavy stress of procrastination-led deadline-fuckery. Despite having dragged out some quick work, all week long. Despite feeling overwhelmed from it all. Despite starting the week with the emptiness that comes from amma being in the US, anna being back in Wayanad and Niyu being all the way in her new home.

It was weird. And even though I started the week disoriented and a bit out of rhythm, it was still a simple, delightful week by the end of it. Because of the small things. Like a fully-stocked fridge that gave me options! That hasn’t happened in a while. And because I didn’t wake up and have anywhere to run off to, and had to actually fend for myself, I ended up cooking all meals at home, lunch and dinner. It was oddly settling, and I realised maybe it is time to find my own rhythm about my own home again. Maybe that’s what has been unsettling on the domestic front.

This week, VC worked from home almost entirely, save for one day. This is so new for him, and it warms my heart to see him less restless, less fidgety when not at work, more relaxed and allowing himself the time to decompress for no reason at all, smack in the middle of a work week. I believe this luxury of being self-employed is something he hasn’t allowed himself to exploit, and by extension I have missed taking these liberties with him too. So it was utterly lovely to spend the entire week together. We’ve been waking up later than usual, having a slow and easy pace to the day. Once ready for the day, we’ve been dragging out dining table to the centre of the living room where we sit and work together, separately chugging away at our respective assignments. As we inch towards a time when we’re going to live apart very, very soon, I find myself really enjoying and making the most of the quietness of being together.

I often chide VC about not having done this sooner, and not nearly enough. But better late than never, I guess. It was so nice to have him around and be homebodies together. This is the kind of cohabiting I have missed. This week was all it

There was also the day spent entirely in bed, binge-watching youtube, which was perfect and couldn’t have come at a more necessary time. I’m glad I just stopped reasoning and took that break.

I took myself to Third Wave more times than I am willing to admit. It’s a nice sufficiently quiet coffee shop with outstanding coffee, charming service and I love that they don’t care if I hang around reading or working for hours on end. I’m really making the most of this luxury of having places so close to home where I can go away without a reason, spend a few hours with myself and return.

The self-reflective assignments I had due for class? I also finished them. And you know what? When I eventually got down to writing them 12 hours before the end of submission day, I got so engrossed, so drawn in. I had such a blast chipping away at them, I had a moment where I seriously kicked myself for pushing it to the very end.

I’m ending the week content. And I find myself going back to the little things that have made it so. Simple food. Quiet togetherness. Self-reflection. Deadlines met. Work done.

This was a good week. This was a goooood week.

Two years ago: Day 250: Finding my people

Day 247: Not invited but I’m glad I made it

August was such a whirlwind of a month. Even though it was busy in a good way, so much happened, much fun was had, the last week or so, I’ve been feeling tired and like I’m running to keep up. More than the actual state of being busy than usual itself, I feel overwhelmed by the dread of slipping back to an old pattern where I would bite off much more than I could chew and then struggle to keep pace.

Today, just four days into this month, one day into this week, I woke up with a huge sense of lethargy. At the back of my mind a to-do list was unfolding, on loop.

It took a minute of stepping back, a cup of tea and a chat with VC, some cards he picked for me, some I did for me, some for him. And I had an adequate reminder to focus, but slow down.

I don’t know why having a lot to do automatically makes me think I have to do it all fast. I so easily forget this basic little truth. It’s not the growing to-do list I should fear (because times like this will come often) but reminding myself that slow and steady has always worked better for me. The pattern I fear isn’t in the quantum of things to be done, but in how I approach the quality of the getting it done. It’s the sense of flow and mindful every day living that I want to conserve and protect.

At times like this, I’m grateful for this flexible, freelance life. I often joke about how I don’t just freelance with work, but I freelance at life itself. I enjoy, and take advantage of, the ability to straddle work and play, so, so much. I have indulged this so often, for myself. But today, when our morning tea extended into an hour-long conversation and the luxury of pulling cards and chatting about them, that VC decided to stay home from work, I felt grateful that VC has had this opportunity too. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: it’s the little, seemingly insignificant things like this that have made a huge impact on our lives and the quality of our relationship this past year.

I say seemingly insignificant because when we chose this life, made the decision to go solo and move to Bangalore, the luxury of working from home was not at all a top priority or a deciding criteria. But it has been a happy by-product. And it’s always the by-products that make me realise how even conscious decision-making, unconsciously brings the best life forward.

***

And because I just re-discovered this on carpool karaoke (what a fabulous episode this was!), today, I’m also happily suffering this ear-worm. Also where the title for this post comes from.

Day 233: I want to thank you for giving me the best days of my life

Gratitude for last week.

For Guru Purnima and for always having the opportunity to be with the music. No matter where I go, how far I wander, the music follows. Or a part of me remains. I’m not sure which. But there is the music.

For the sweet spot of busy-busyness that VC has hit. It’s keeping him on his toes, challenged and excited in a way that has fired him up like I haven’t seen in all these months in Bangalore.

For rainy evenings spent in silence at Koshys. For Bangalore weather. I’m really making the most of this before my time on Bangalore is up.

For the drive to Goa. Any roadtrip is fun with VC. And this was no different.

For Goa. For the weather. For the dogs. For friends. For this other side of life that is so new and filled with joy.

For all the chill. For the conversation. For the tarot insights. For the home-cooked food. For the downtime. For the books. For kinship. For home away from home.

Day 185: One foot in front of the other, babe

This past weekend, we had S and R over for dinner. Niyu came over too and VC and I made pizzas from scratch — homemade whole wheat thin crusts, a slow-cooked tomato sauce, some freshly ground pesto, butter garlic prawns and assorted veg to go on top. Niyu made a cracker of a watermelon and feta salad too. Everything came together so beautifully. Earlier in the day I was overwhelmed. I only began cooking at 3 and had a moment of wanting to throw the towel in because I had bitten off much more than I could chew. Not really — this was actually a simple meal to put together once I broke it down — it’s just been so long since I entertained like this and cooked for more than just VC and me, I had cold feet.

I’m grateful for Niyu. And for the help she always pitches in. I can almost always shut my eyes and leave the salad and/or other components to her and she will not just deliver, but go beyond and wow us.

I’m grateful for the time we spent with R, S and H. It’s nice that we have a space outside of their home, which somehow seems to bring out entirely different sides to them. Everybody loosens up, there is much laughter and chatter, and perhaps the absence of all kinds of policing means everyone lets their guard down.

I’m SO grateful for the new mattress we bought. I’m so glad VC finally just pushed through and took the decision without waiting for me to deliberate or analyse if it was time yet. Our old mattress arrangement (because it wasn’t even a real solid double mattress) goes all the way back to our broke days when we moved to Goa and couldn’t imagine spending double digit thousands on home things. And so we managed. And we managed and we managed for closing in on nine years. I’d probably have managed some more because it was one of those things that hasn’t caused an obvious problem yet. But it’s only in its absence, with the benefit of a far superior alternative that Im realising what we have been missing out on. It’s no wonder that I’ve been having amazing sleep of late.

I’m grateful for CARBS. Oh so so so grateful for them. They have been giving me life these past few weeks. From months of branding them evil, to slowly accepting them again, little by little, I’m now almost fully back to eating carbs as and when I please. And it is so liberating to be eating freely again, without demonizing parts of my food, the meal itself, parts of my body, or myself.

I’m grateful for leftovers. I really, really am.

I’m grateful for the affirmation that I’ve been on. I hadn’t realised it, but what seemed like a surprise set of occurrences in the past few days, was actually directly linked to what I have been affirming to myself everyday.

I’m grateful for the card reading VC obliged me with on Sunday. It was spot on as usual. And of course it featured an elephant. As usual.
And I’m extremely grateful for how he is encouraging me on to go my way. I’ll take a sign when I see one, and I’ll grab it with both hands if VC encourages me to.

I’m grateful for conversations with S this past week, that have been knocking it out of the park as far as getting deep in there and digging in with both hands goes. We met for brunch, with the intention to spend some time painting. Instead, we gabbed and gabbed. While stuffing our faces.
No shying away, no mincing words, no pussyfooting. I love that we can prop each other up and keep each other going in this way.

I’m grateful for this little lesson. It was so needed, and so perfectly timed. And I’m grateful for the little bit of progress I realised I have made.

I’m grateful for some of the things I’ve slowly cultivated this past year that I am only now seeing blooming ever so quietly in ways that are impacting my everyday life: gratitude for the little and big things alike, self-love and opening my heart out a little bit more than what feels comfortable and comes naturally, and a little bit more patience to let things slow down as they must. (This realisation too is an outcome of several conversations I’ve had with S this past week.)

Day 173: Nobody really likes us, except us

I’m closing this week feeling a lot of gratitude for work. Specifically the assignment that came at me completely by surprise. The one I felt inclined to take on, totally surprising myself. And the one that has kept me strapped to my chair for the better part of this week.

It’s been a while since I had an assignment so large and demanding, and a deadline so tight. I was a bit wary about how that might feel given it’s been an age since I’ve had full days of work at my desk. But maybe this was just what I needed to shake off the dust, oil the rusty parts of my writing game and get it going again.

Better still, I just may have hit upon a sweet spot of the kind of work I could potentially find myself doing. Something for the long run. Considering all the reasons why I’ve slowed down with my feature writing, I’ve been wondering where to take my writing next. And the nature of this assignment gave me a few clues.

This week, I’m also deeply grateful for the friendship in my life. Even as I’m sitting with a sense of impending loss in this space, this week more than usual, I noticed that despite it all, kinship always reaches me. And it has started to reach me with a sincere, genuinely deep kind of quality that I was missing all along, and craving of late.

In these moments, I realise we’re no longer just simply hanging out or talking (that is great too. I’ve just been craving a little something more). We’re talking about things that matter. Things that someone cared to listen to when I mentioned, packed it away in a corner of their minds and thought about it and me again when the time was right. And cared enough to reconnect over it. We’ve connected.

I realise that I’m connecting with individuals in a manner very different from the one I have known this far. Not too many times before in my life have mere encounters like coffee or breakfast or living room conversations done this weird thing where they quite literally fills my heart up. I don’t know how else to explain it. But the quality of interactions has been physically satisfying, and this fullness is what I’ve been craving but didn’t have the words for. This is a lot for someone whose entire relationship with friendship has hitherto been very-very-connected-(if I were to consider social media etc.)-but-somehow-just-not-satisfied.

VC and I have been having so much more conversation of late. I don’t know what, specifically, has changed to be honest. The logistics of our life are the same — meaning we still have only as much face time as we used to before. But something has moved. We find ourselves choosing to spend time together, actually talking and connecting and sharing, more than before. It is most unlikely of VC, but we ended up going out for coffee twice this week. TWICE. I’m still letting that sink in because the last time he did this, for a lark and of his own volition was when he was pursuing me eleven whole years ago. It’s ridiculous to even admit this, but even as I consider VC my best friend, I’ve always put him in an entirely separate category to the rest of my friends. You know what they say about roaming the world seeking what’s already under your nose? This is a classic example of that. And now is a good time to make a change.

A has been sending me screenshots of inspiration from Instagram (since I’m not on it and can’t see it myself) — snapshots of artists’ creative process, an invitation to a writing retreat in Italy, snippets of food writing — persistently egging me on to get down to revisiting my abandoned food memoir. This is an ongoing conversation we seem to be having and it’s oddly heartwarming to think someone has more faith in my ability to finish this book, than I do.

S and I made it to breakfast at 8 am this week. We picked breakfast in the hope of finishing up quickly and make it back home with more than half the day to spare for regular programming. But we ended up chatting for three hours — deep, heartfelt conversations about everything from friendship and loss, to what it means to “uncouple.” All plans to have a productive day would have been dashed, if not for my very demanding assignment. But, I was happy for the few hours off because it really lifted my day and filled me up.

I’ve been mostly in over my head thinking a world of things. I am also in a space where I want to share some of it with people in a similar headspace. Often it just feels like a lot of effort to “talk” on text. Which makes my niche of people really small, I know. I guess it’s why I’ve been happy to have the opportunity to catch up with the few with whom I have the luxury, because then we can spread ourselves out and really connect, and talk. I’ve been dying to bounce some of these thoughts off in person. I should have reached out earlier, but I didn’t, for whatever reason. And N and I have both been in a similar quandary I suppose — to text (because every time we text it can go on for a while!)? or to contain it some more? But in spectacularly predictable fashion, she reached out to me today and brought up the. exact. same. things. that I’ve been thinking about. And we ended up having a long chat that funnily eased up a lot of wrinkles in my brain.

I really, really missed coming home from class and rehashing the days learning with K and D, like we do when they’re down for their learning. Almost as if someone was listening in on my feelings, D called me to catch up on what happened. Neither of us is the talk-on-the-phone sort. I know this for sure. In person we can yak on for hours on end, but on the phone? Never mind. And yet, there are moments where this happens. We chatted for upwards of 40 minutes last week and it was just the conversation I needed to decompress from all that I had experienced at class.

This is the quality of connection I am talking about. Connecting with someone at a level where we’re willing to push our own boundaries and make some space, it’s a rare and wonderful gift that I am so grateful for.

I told N today that there’s something magical about stopping the wait for something (anything!) to happen like it’s a destination that just refuses to arrive. Every time that I have done it, dropped the feeling of struggling to make something happen (whether work, or overtures of friendship, or the smallest and biggest desires), I realise how much of it is already happening in my life. This week, I realised it’s also happening with friendship.

I’m also grateful for this extended mango season. A gave me some stunning mangoes from her ancestral farm. And our local fruit delivery peeps are still stocking some amazing fruit. VC has been cheating on his attempts to go keto, so bad.

If you’ve been reading for a while, and know anything about me at all, you’ll know that where there’s gratitude there’s also food, no? Niyu cooked us a smashing ramen meal earlier this week. Spicy, packed with flavour and soul-satisfying for a rainy night.

And while we’re thinking about food, this throwback from Thailand. For no reason at all except that it was yummayy.

One year ago: Just breathe
Two years ago: Day 173: Soaked mornings

Day 169: Home where my love lies waiting

It’s been over a year since we moved into this home. And yet, so much remains to be done. I’ve alway shad a constantly WIP home, and I realised very early on that I like the idea of a certain kind of home, far more than I like the effort it takes to get me there. So, the wish list is never really ever fully met, the note titled “Home Stuff” on my phone, where I jot down things I’d like to make, buy, add, build for the house grows faster than I can keep up with it, and periodically I got through spots of frustration when I look around and suddenly think, “SHIT! I never made xyz”, “I *still* haven’t got down to putting abc up”, or “Soon, very soon I’ll finish that DIY project I started in 2012”, or some such.

At the moment too, things are basic, almost minimalist, replete with a fair bit of of half-done stuff, unattended corners and the like. There’s so much we could be doing, but we haven’t managed to just do it. It niggles at the back of my brain from time to time, and when a sudden burst of inspiration strikes, I manage to kill a few things off the list.

But this past weekend, and maybe this is entirely the effects of the weekend talking and not some newfound zen, I felt a deep contentment with my home. A sense of feeling rooted, warm and comforted.

It was drizzling ever so delicately, while the sun still shone pretty bright — Fox’s Wedding style. Inside, it was grey enough to turn the lights on. And everything just felt yellow, happy and…enough.

I realised tat even though it feels incomplete and unfinished, our home does reflect a lot of VC and me. Specifically, our fuss-free way of being. Where we’ll start off with gusto, lose steam and intellectualise the spiralling energy by asking “How much is too much?” or “When will it be enough?”, having realised that what we have is rather full of life, it does the job and it feels good.

And I want to remember the moment, because I felt it so deeply and internally.

Two years ago: Day 169: Work things that make me chuckle

Day 166: Come on, keep me where the light is

Today, in gratitude.

Yoga. I’m closing in on a full month and every day I surprise myself a little more with how much this is feeling right. To just be there, focus on starting and finishing every class, without an eye on the clock (like I used to be at the gym) or watching any kind of number led validation, or watching for “results” or anything else. This is definitely one of the better choices I’ve made this year, after signing up for the course I’m doing.

A week of rain. It’s been such a good week. Finished a long-drawn-out book thanks to the good weather.

Surprise walks about town. I really love central Bangalore — there, I said it. And I’m trying to make the most of it when I am out and about. It helps that there have been plenty trips that side. Between breakfast dates, class and general gallivanting. I took this picture when D and I went to Blossoms last week. Church Street is spanking new and shiny, but it thrilled me to see nothing’s going to keep the hand carts out. This one, laden with summer fruit — lychees, stat fruit, jamoons, ice apples and the like — just seemed like a perfect goodbye to the season.

Koshy’s. One of the few things that I really love about Bangalore. I’m glad I live close enough so I can duck out when I please. This past week I actually found myself there more often than I planned.

Breakfasts out. Quite unknowingly I’ve managed to keep up the get-breakfast weekly habit I wanted for myself. I met M last week and A this week. And already have plans for next week. I didn’t plan for this to necessarily be an outing with company — in fact, I was quite looking forward to a table for one because I just assumed it would be me all by myself — but I’m so grateful for how it’s turning out.

My folks who came back to town over the weekend. Amma, Niyu and I went out for a spot of shopping. We also managed to catch a weekday lunch at Nagarjuna — the four of us — together which is such a rarity. It was fun, rainy out and despite the traffic and the waiting, I am grateful for the time.

The heightened, energy-spike in my aha-moments this past week. Once when I picked up on some seriously bad energy one evening and just couldn’t settle until I had dug deeper and broken it down to get to the bottom of what exactly was bothering me. And second, all day long after meeting A and chatting about the things that we did — it sparked off a whole lot of thoughts for me. I love a conversation that has an impact so hard it lingers long after.

The ease in my conversations with VC. It’s beginning to feel like every time I feel we’ve unlocked a new level in our relationship, there’s something deeper to get to. I am only realising now how much this has been about presenting myself wholeheartedly and authentically to him. He has always been around for me, I’ve had to see it in the way that I do now, and grab my share of it and dive in. This has been an empowering and freeing experience. We’re better together. And I’m equal parts grateful for where we are and excited for where we seem to be going.

Two back-to-back weekends of coursework. As exhausted and mentally depleted as it makes me feel, the heady high of coming out with new insights, new learning is so addictive. I’m grateful for the safety of the circle we’ve created where I am able to fall apart, as well as participate in holding others up with equal ease. It is a privilege and a gift, and by no means a coincidence. I am eternally grateful for this is fast turning into the very reason for spending 2018 in Bangalore.

This gratitude habit itself. Six months in, I know just how much it has impacted the way I am able to operate out of a mostly positive headspace. One, my bank balance has never been this low and yet somehow I’m spending (literally and figuratively) with an ease I’ve never had. It hasn’t stopped me from grabbing the experiences I’ve wanted to. Two, despite the unsettledness of May, I got through it with minimal flare ups. Not because I was bottling it in, but because I’ve been better at recognising and acknowledging what is a blip vs what is an actual shitty experience and dropping shit and moving on with alacrity.

Three, the serendipitous way in which an assignment landed in my inbox. From an unexpected, unlikely source, it ended up being a foray into an area of work I’ve been toying with the idea of exploring. I didn’t know how to get an in. And suddenly there it was.

Four, there is a newfound comfort and balance in experiencing solitude (which sometines subtly slips into loneliness) as well as meeting new people and widening my circle, alike. It’s an inner ease that is taking me through it all — it feels like a strengthening of my core — making me stand comfortably alone when I find myself alone as well as open my heart (I actively volunteered to be in a study group, ffs) to new connections, new groups, when they present themselves.

This palpable abundance in my life — in experiences, people, travel, things too — I feel it every single day. And I’m so aware how it isn’t an outcome of the pursuit of this as stuff as much as it is about finding myself in this intangible bubble of positivity that I actually don’t have the words to express. It transcends physical happenings.

This is probably the first time in my life that I am actively watching myself change, and the fear of the uncertainty and of what I am shedding and leaving behind, is absolutely nil. I’m grateful for that. What an exciting time this is to be able to watch all the pieces of this puzzle as they are slowly falling into place.

Two years ago: Day 166: Just keep swimming

Day 153: Life has a funny way of helping you out

Little moments that have stuck with me this past week:

  • Coming home to fresh flowers on the plants that have come back from the dead thanks to the incessant rain the week we were away, really made my heart sing
  • When the last of the sandy, stodgy, musty holiday laundry pile-up was hung out to dry, and I took a deep breath because everything smelt flowery like detergent
  • When my yoga teacher said (out to the entire class) “You don’t have to go all the way. Just go only as far as you can right now” and I felt like it was just meant only for me
  • When an ex-client from yonks ago messaged me, opening with “I read your article in Arre and loved it!” and it made me smile inside
  • Every time that VC has thrown his head back and laughed a wholesome, belly laugh that lights up his eyes, it has made me giggle
  • When I opened the fridge (that I had emptied and cleared out a couple of hours before) felt deeply satisfied at how minimalist it looked
  • The unexpected glee at feeling 15 again, when we were at The Permit Room, this song came on

  • The peace of the only afternoon I had all by my lonesome at home, and VC returned to find me sitting in exactly the same place in exactly the same position I was in when he left me three hours before

Two years ago: Day 153: Period story and writing lessons

Day 149: It don’t look like I’ll ever stop my wandering

I’m feeling a bit blank this week. I thought it was the post-holiday fatigue, and a touch of jetlag. But it’s been two days and with the sleepiness and lethargy showing no signs of abating, I’m beginning to wonder if there’s something more to it. As such this entire month has had me repeating my refrain: I’m feeling unsettled. Save for the two trips away, that has been the general feeling I’ve carried around.

Travel always unanchors just a bit. Something about letting go of the regular routine and relaxing means I tend to take a while to slip back to normalcy. But this is my third consecutive time going away and returning, to realise that I still don’t feel that I’m-coming-home feeling when I return to Bangalore. That feeling usually aids the return to normalcy. I feel it only once I’m within the safe space of my home or my parents home. But landing at the airport still leaves me feeling like I’m in transit, and like I have to hop on to a flight to get to Goa or someplace else.

Bangalore still feels like a pitstop. This really bothers me. I’ve been trying to do an assortment of little things to help settle in. Part of it is because I feel I owe it to myself — so much has gone into moving lock, stock and barrel, I feel let down to think that 365 days later, I’m still not quite…well, at home in that truest, deep-down sort of way.

But today, when I woke up in a funk and forced myself to try and potter about the house, settle things, cook a little (it’s domestic stuff that usually helps me find my ground again), that I had a small realisation. It’s when I beat myself up over trying to feel at home, that I end up feeling unsettled.

I thought I was dealing with this transition better than ever before. I am, but just not quite as well as I imagined, perhaps. I’m allowed an off-day in this respect too, I suppose. Maybe I need to stop fighting the unsettledness. Let it be. Let it pass.

It’s funny, when I lived in Goa I had a distinct feeling of belonging there. Despite my bouts of homesickness. I had come to a place of feeling at home in two places, of feeling at home as a state of mind. And  everything, I placed so much of this feeling of home on the places I lived in, on the things that make up the idea of home in my head.

Now, that I am back in the original home city, one year on and still pretty rootless, and increasingly feeling less inclined to settle, I’m questioning the idea of home itself. When I think about where home might be as a place, I draw a blank.

Metaphorically, though, I have been feeling plenty at home in my own space, in my body, in my mind and within myself. And maybe this is where the two ideas collide. I’m trying to fit myself into the idea of home as a place, and settle in the old way I knew how. When in reality an alternate kind of homeliness is brewing.

Maybe what I should do is let it go, and count on the beginnings of that new idea of feeling at home. Allow it to blossom. Really lean in to the idea of being that nomad I’ve been feeling like all month, fully dream the dreams (and realise some of them) of vagabondage and see what happens.

***

Contrary to what any of us expected the hugsband didn’t take a single video on our holiday. Something happened and he decided to focus on the photography for a change. He has been taking some smashing photographs instead, a whole load of them. Determinedly waking up at 5 am to catch the sunrise, and scouting all day for the best vantage points for the sunset, he has had such a full and satisfying holiday. It helped that the first island we were on faced west and the second faced east, and every sunrise and sunset was a completely different colour, like Goa playing with paint. Head over to his Instagram to see a whole host of holiday postcards.

Day 141: We keep this love in a photograph

Things about VC that I never want to forget #18
VC gets full credit for really showing me what unconditional love looks like

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

For more Things About VC I Never Want To Forget, there’s more where this came from.