Day 243: After all is said and done, you’ll believe god is a woman

How quickly things change. From, spotless iridescent blue skies, to grey and watery, with noisy thunderstorms determined to wash the world out.

Bangalore rains are quite alright*. They’re quite alright.

(*I’m just glad I’m indoors and not battling traffic.)

Two years ago: Day 243: Internet things

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Day 226: They paved paradise

We’re off to Goa tomorrow. Again. It’s my second time, and VC’s third time in under a month. I cannot complain.

In the meantime, I’m making the most of sweater weather by swapping my usual chai/coffee, beer/wine preference with a fiery pepper rasam instead. It’s 11:30 am and I’m on my second glass.

Look at those billowing grey clouds will ya? How is anyone supposed to get any work done around here?

Huge mixed emotions and heart-tugging feelings for Bangalore have been simmering in my heart, in case it wasn’t evident in yesterdays post (which was also yesterdays newsletter!) And then I woke up to this heartbreaking (but completely spot on) article that paints a horribly accurate picture of the dystopia this city is fast hurtling towards. I am constantly baffled and amazed and very. very exasperated by how more people don’t see it. Or maybe they do and don’t quite know what to do about it. I don’t notice enough exasperation around me. What I see is a numbness and acceptance, which breaks my heart a little bit more.

I’m thankful for the frequent breaks I’ve managed. I’m thankful for the opportunities to recharge batteries every time the city drains them. I’m glad I have the life that doesn’t depend on a gruelling commute like so many millions of people have to go through. I’m glad we can weigh out our options. I’m so grateful for how we’re happy with less. And I’m eternally grateful for the choices we can and have made, which often seem like we’re stepping back, settling for less and choosing oddly, but in the end they’re the only ones that seem to sit right with who we are.

Day 225: Heavy mottled love

It took a rainy, blissfully just-the-right-kind-of-cold week and a fair bit of commuting in the rain last week, to realise that Bangalore rain is amongst the top things I love about this city and living here. Yes, I’m often stuck in traffic when it starts to rain (yes it annoys the shit out of me that stupid traffic jams are a given, an obvious consequence to even the slightest shower, while the city helplessly succumbs to this giant mess) even while I’m quietly snug in a cab or car, plastered to the window. Beneath the irritation though, is a quiet love for this snarling mess of a city that even with its gazillion imperfections has somewhat had an impact on me these past 18 months. So when I think back to the time I have enjoyed here, I’ll remember the rain fondly. Especially the moments spent stuck in traffic watching the patterns trickle down the window, drenching me in an inescapable melancholy for a city that’s dying faster than it can deal with. I feel soaked with a grief for this city I used to, and once again do, call home. For how it has morphed into this colossal wreckage. But I will also remember that it is often in the rain that has inspired me — whether those soft epiphanies that come like the drizzle and neatly punctuate this self-discovery, or the gushing waves of the unquenchable need to write things down — words, sentences, thoughts, all of it. I’ll remember how I frantically pull my phone out and note it all down. Thoughts on the world outside that threatens to swallow us whole, and the solid centre of peace I’ve found within. Within myself. Even as the chaos comes in great amounts when a downpour hits Bangalore, I have found moments of stillness right in there. Stuck to a window, watching the city be washed over by an evening shower. I’m glad for this time. For the lilt of this mad city and how it has shown me that there is joy, even in the unlikeliest, most ugly spaces. Most often that joy is within me. And so I snap pictures hungrily. Because it is the only way for me to remember. Remember what it has been like to be hungry for happiness, and so utterly committed to a journey I cannot put down in words. A journey I have nothing to show for. Nothing but my irrevocable joy of course, at having found my way back home to myself once again.

Two years ago: Day 225: Ele day

Day 213: If it is written in the stars, then it can be read

With the promise of more Goa days dangling ahead of me like the proverbial carrot-on-a-stick, the idea that lures me the most, strangely enough, is of cycling again. Cycling in the rain, to be precise. I read this post yesterday and felt especially nostalgic, the pangs of a time gone by never to return, yanking the soft spots in my mind.

My time in Bangalore has been so full and otherwise occupied, I haven’t actively had the space to mourn the lack of cycling in my life. I haven’t really missed it. I don’t. Until I am in Goa of course. And the empty roads flanked by paddy fields fills my chest up with the kind of openness and calm that I know I am missing even when I don’t realise it.

VC has actually attempted to cycle around in Bangalore. He’s far more determined than J am to give it a go every now and then, despite every attempt fizzling out sooner than later. I, on the other hand, haven’t even assembled my bike back together since it was taken apart to be transported here. In retrospect, I feel I should have left it back, so I could use it whenever I visit.

But even before I dismantled it to pack and move, I hadn’t been on a ride in a long time. It’s been nearly two years, collectively. The very last time I was in the saddle was the 100km ride I completed in October, 2016.

Incidentally, that was also during the last of the rains for the year, making way for October’s punishing heat, a little bit of an excuse of winter where temperatures dip just enough to make it hard to rise early and get out, and then summer again. During which time I moved. So yeah, I’m really suddenly thinking wistfully, of the times we’d take off on weekend mornings. Managing to wake up earlier than normal, riding off in the dark, with some music and a few 100 rupees between us. That’s all it took. And the levels of satisfaction were exponentially high.

The promise of Goa days loom large and right up there, at the top of the list of things I miss and can’t wait to go back to, is riding my bike. Preferably in the rain.

***

Meanwhile, in Bangalore too, we’re enjoying the best kind of Bangalore weather. Grey, sunless, sometimes-raining, great-to-be-outdoors kind of weather that is making me reach for my shawl and book at midday.

Day 207: Weather changes moods

Here it is, everything to eye-hurtingly green. A shimmery freshness in the air. All colours fluid. Every edge blurry. Everything is awash, and sprouting new life. Reaching out through the cracks and crevices, bursting forth to life. And around every corner, along every pock-marked laterite wall, every overgrown gutter I see signs. Reminders to not just bloom where I can, when I can. But a reminder to try and thrive. In every little, seemingly insignificant way that I can.

Goa in the monsoon is a surprise, a fresh delight every single year. Everything is breathtakingly new, yet comfortingly familiar. Like being born again, an all new avatar, in a same old place.

Like new breath, in an old, snug and very accustomed body.

Two years ago: Day 207: Gym rant

Day 197: Under my umbrella

Hello from rainy Goa, which has all my heart. Two years ago: Day 197: That’s all

Day 195: Lost and found and turned around

Meanwhile, it’s pissing down in Bangalore too. It’s so good to be feeling a chill in July. To wear full-sleeved clothes. Two layers, even. Full pants. Closed shoes. Scarves and neck things. Just some of the things I love about being here, and pretty sure they’ll be the same things I miss when I eventually leave.

Some months ago, in a reading D did for me, she said to take this time to really enjoy the good things I love about this city, without holding back. I realise it comes down to the weather, the abundance of food to try and the freedom to loiter about on my own. So, to be sitting snug in a coffee shop with free wifi, without feeling like I’m waiting to be shunted out for just ordering a single black coffee and staying for three hours. To read, work, people watch at least a couple of times a week feels like a fitting way to do it.

And while I’m waxing eloquent about the weather, here’s a rainy day song — a throwback track (and an entire forgotten album) that I rediscovered thanks to driving around in the rain in my dad’s car. His music is evergreen.

Two years ago: Day 195: 100TinderTales Reveals Dating Apps Give Indian Women The Upper Hand

Day 194: Long as I remember the rain been coming down

I’m glad for all the long drives in the rain. I could very well have been moping for Goa, which is currently getting battered with a heavy monsoon, and I could have been very, very sad for missing it. But I had this instead. And Wayanad got a record high amount of rain and insane gale winds this past week. There were furious flash floods, sinkholes in some parts and much destruction. I have returned feeling very cut down to size, and insignificant in the larger scheme of things — the canvas that has us planning big plans, when really all we need to do is go with the flow.

I’m grateful for the chance to go tripping with my father. It’s been years since it was just us, and as anticipated, it was quiet, but fun and gave me plenty to make new connections, think about and create memories from.I am a lot more like my father than I have cared to notice. In him, I see my own underlying zest to live life in a way that seems questionable by conventional standards. I know now that it is from him that I get the spark of willingness to take chances. To take as many chances as I can, whenever I can, if an idea or a desire presents itself. I share with him my absolute inability to understand or even care to understand numbers. He is every bit as eccentric, slightly compulsive and just a dot obsessive about the little details, as I am. He enjoys his food and drink to the level where they are not mere occurrences in any given day, but defining points that can guide which way the day goes.I am grateful for this gene pool.

I am grateful for this opportunity to spend time with him and see up close the sheer scale of this project he’s embarked on. I had a sense, and never doubted his determination to see it through, but to be there in Wayanad with him, seeing how far his home has come, brick by painful brick, enduring months of frustrating oddballs that continue to blindsight him with alarming regularity.Oddly enough, this was a reminder for me to realign my own focus. To go after some of the things I think about wishfully, but brandish without lending them much serious thought because I am also sometimes easily distracted by the pressure to be rational, to make things make sense to everyone around, when really the only person it needs to make sense to is me. To take those chances more often, to put everything on the line for the wildest, most impossible sounding dreams.Driving out into the forest brought, at a silvery 4 o clock, the sunlight a gentle angle casting mellow shadows, while leaves danced around tricking us into believing something moved just beyond the thicket, evoked a huge sense of nostalgia in me. My mind raced back to so many of the long drives we’ve made as a family, and I realised that some of my earliest writing that came from just the very basic need to put down in words what I was feeling, came from these road trips. There was that one short piece I wrote at age 10 or 11, about a pink sunset that engulfed us as we drove straight into it. And the other piece about feeling my heart collapse under the weight of emotions a Bryan Adams song had stirred in me loud and clear. Another one about feeling tiny and weightless under a canopy of banyan trees that leaned over to join hands across the street. I suppose one can say these were some of the milestone moments that set me off to go on to write about every goddamned thing.

I’m grateful for the ability to write.

I’m grateful for snacks. Rainy day snacks. Banana fritters, amongst other things.I’m grateful for this sense of openness that I have felt brewing. Life has opened up. I feel opened up. There is a sense of vastness in everything — from the opportunities I am exploring, to the inner ability to change my mind — and I really, truly feel like a small dot in an ocean, with the world as my oyster. It is empowering and humbling all at once.

I’m grateful for amma who is the glue that keeps us together, even when she is not around. I’m grateful for Niyu who has surprisingly become a source for as much food for my body as my soul. I am grateful for VC who is, just there, solid, all the damn time. And for how he, even at his polar opposite best, is the partner I need. Even when I don’t realise it. Even when I realise it, and don’t acknowledge it.

I am grateful today for my family for everything that they do intentionally and unintentionally for me, with me.

Two years ago: Day 194: Pedalling again

Day 193: You ain’t been blue, till you’ve had that mood indigo

I’ve been mostly off the grid, phone gone quiet only to wake up when we drive between towns where suddenly my network throbs back to life very briefly. I post quickly, when I can and allow the silence to take over for the rest.

My dad and I have been mostly staying in companionable silence, chatting some, listening to music, driving around and getting some things done when we can. I’ve finished a book in two days, cooked a couple of meals and spent most of my time just chilling. And while some work is piling up waiting for me to return, I don’t feel rushed to.We’ve had yet another utterly washed out day that rendered us house-bound and caused my father much worry because it’s another day without work done on site. But, who can complain with a view like this. And rainy day spoils that include sugary tea and a local doughnut like delicacy that is crusty crisp on the outside, dense and mildly sweet on the inside. Crack it open to let curls of steam escape from the innards of banana melded dough speckled with cumin. Dunk a piece in the tea and eat quickly, while it’s still hot. For all that we city bred people wax on about the slow life, turning it into a hashtaggable lofty concept that is so out of our natural rhythm that it is worth aspiring for, all it takes is a visit to a village. A real village, not ensconced in a resort in a village or any such manicured vehicle of experiencing this short term. A visit to a village is all it takes to get a view into what it means for people to live off the land, in sync with the forces that be, going with the flow, living small and being just so happy. Here, there are no plans to be made because nature is making them for us all the time. We have been forced to simply surrender and go with it.

I’m all kinds of humbled and am going away with a renewed sense of awe and a reminder of the taste of just how much more smallness I have yet to bring back into my life and being. It’s time to go back.

Two years ago: Day 193: Like Nike, but better

Day 192: Slowly drifting, wave after wave

My third day here and the rain is going strong. It’s been this way for the last ten days I’m told. Oddly, I feel at home like this might as well be Goa. But, it’s just the precursor before I actually head to Goa next week.

One year ago: What coming home feels like: Sunday lunch edition

Day 191: What about sunrise, what about rain?

Plastered at the edge of a car window to post this, just seen. The river is brimming over. Everything bears a silky film of lush wetness. All around the fields are eye-poppingly green. The pepper is lush, tapioca thriving, the ginger is perky and fresh.

If life had just one, single colour, green would be it. Green, so green. This must be what abundance looks like.

One year ago: Books-shooks

Day 187: Did you fall from a shooting star?

The weather let up just a wee bit today. Muggy cloudy days have meant the temperatures have been steadily rising. The stillness in the air has been stifling. But today, the clouds broke a bit. And we had overcast skies, the gentlest drizzle and cool wind. Perfect for a brunch date specifically to have deep fried carbs that turned into a gossip sesh over way too many cups of chai. That is all.

Two years ago: Day 187: June

Day 165: After the tears have washed your eyes

A couple of dry-ish days with temperatures creeping into the late twenties, is all it took to have me say, “It could rain a little now, right?”

Almost as if in response, it started again yesterday. With cloudy skies, giving in and scantily showering down on us.

It’s been almost a month since we have stopped using the AC and the weather has been immaculate. Splendid enough to make me say the L(ove) word.

Amidst all my Bangalore rants, there is this redeeming factor. The rain. And I have to give credit where it’s due. I love Bangalore when it rains.

This is the weather for coffee shops. For books. For naps. For slow dreaming. For anything that doesn’t involve being stuck in a vehicle navigating through the city. It’s the weather for staying indoors and eating pav bhaji, if you will. It’s the weather for thick hot chocolate. For soup dinners. And even if just momentarily, for most everything in this city to feel bearable.

Two years ago: Day 165: About yesterday

Day 162: Only happy when it rains

Today, I just didn’t feel like writing. I have six drafts in the works. And I have so much to say about my course last week. But I’m just settling into it, letting it seep in slowly.

Today I caught up with some reading instead.

It’s been going so slow of late. Today I guzzled what was actually a delightful book, but one I was labouring over for no reason but that I needed time, time, time. I took the time today. Over ginger and lemon tea. With this amazing hill station weather out, that we have going.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll write out that long pending book post sitting in my drafts.

Two years ago: Day 162: New Tricks

Back to base

Every now and then
when I feel the need to pause
I’m so glad there’s home.

Same time, last year: Day 263: All you need is less – projects