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
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
The monsoon has hit Goa with all its might and fury and my social media feeds are filled with envy-making pictures, videos and words that are doing nothing to make me feel better for being so far, far away from the best time to be in Goa.
Last year I had an inkling it was to be my ultimate monsoon living in Goa and even though part of me felt like I was inching closer to the reality of it, a larger part of me wanted to remain blissfully unaware. And in denial.
My facebook memories have been brutal in throwing up images and blog posts from all of last year and monsoon nostalgia has taken over me considerably this week.
I miss Goa terribly. I’m hopelessly and inconsolably homesick for Goa.
But. There have been small joys. Silver linings, if you will. Moments of pure surprise or happiness. Everyday realities that have grown on me unconsciously. Until suddenly I woke up to see the light.
After living in west-facing homes for literally all my life, I’m now on the other end of the spectrum. Enjoying 6 am wake ups thanks to the burst of light that no curtains can keep out, loving how the entire home is always bathed in a soft, gentle yellow, and low-key obsessing over watching day-long shadows as they morph on the hour. The sunlight is doing wonders for the plants we got and I’ve gone over six weeks without killing anything.
Daily surprises happen with fair consistency. I’ve got to start looking and acknowledging them more often.
Same time, last year: Day 187: June
So it came to my notice that I have let this entire monsoon pass without a single Coke Studio post. Baffling because this is the time of year that I miss, relive and enjoy my annual CS-Pak binge. As it happens, it is also the time of year when a shiny, new season is unveiled. This time, said new season had come and gone. And that should tell you how little it mattered to me. How it made close to no impact, and didn’t send me into raptures of love for the show, as it usually does.
I could go into miles and miles of analysis about why it didn’t work for me, as I have so many times now with various folks who share my ardent love for the show. We’ve dissected it to shreds, given our VTs and watched as the current season plummeted to irrevocable lows. But I’m going to spare you the analysis, because it’s a personal opinion and I know not everyone needs feel the same way. Long story short, I found this season lacking in clarity of thought. With a new director for every song, way too much instrumentation and the so-so production quality that Strings can deliver, there was just way too much happening this year. Every song felt loud, mish-mashed, noisy and not a single track stood out with a distinct character or a unique sound of its own – which is what I clung on to as the shows forte, for so many years now.
Yet, even in the noise, these tracks stood out for me. They’re not fantastic by any stretch of imagination. They don’t match up to the legendary level that some CS-Pak tracks from the past have achieved. I know this for a fact because none of these have consumed me in the day-long-loop fix that I usually find myself in with every season. Still, these are the only songs I enjoyed. And I think it’s only fair to share the love. However little it may be.
Best track of the season, as far as I’m concerned.
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Unplugged version of a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan classic. It was hard not to like this one. Despite the fact that I think the starlet here is completely unnecessary and doesn’t have a patch on the bucket-fulls of personality RFAK brings to this track.
Because, Javed Bashir. I don’t need much else. I managed to even get to a point of listening to it while blocking out the abomination that is Ali Azmat.
For old favourites Sanam Marvi, Saieen Zahoor and parts of one of my most favourite folk songs.
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It’s a drippy, rained-all-night kind of Friday morning. 8.30 am and I have the lights on in my room. I’ve just finished reading the last book that had me so engrossed I’ve been waking up, turning over and grabbing my kindle to read a few pages even before I get out of bed or brush my teeth.
This book: This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage, Ann Patchett
A book of essays about a huge range of experiences and topics from across Patchett’s life, this book was first recommended to me by B, when I met her in Singapore last year. I have fond memories of a couple of hours I spent with her in her chatting about life, writing, reading and books, over home style chai and pakodas, while intermittently chatting with the incredibly cute Bobo. I snapped a picture of the cover of her book, and made a mental note to get to it at some point. Of course that point, of reading in earnest again, only came earlier this year.
So, about the book: it’s an incredibly diverse collection of essays about such a range of things that the writer in me, who hopes to be able to someday write an essay about any dang thing in the universe, is in serious awe. Entirely a work of non-fiction, this is a collection of her essays from over the years contributing to an array of magazines like The Atlantic, New York Times, Gourmet, Vogue. They cover everything from making a life in writing, to choosing to remain child-free, heartwarming essays about her relationship with her father, a particularly moving one about caring for her grandmother, her complicated first marriage, eventual divorce and her how she made marriage work the second time around. Some of the essays were hyper focused to a context so American, that I read them without really getting a feel for it. But 80% of the book was a sheer delight.
I found her essays about writing particularly relatable. And reassuring. Patchett is considered one of the seminal writers of essays in the ilk as Rebecca Solnit and Joan Didion, so I’m glad I could read this to start off on exploring her other writing.
Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris
Some books need the right time place and pace of reading. Clearly this was one of them for me. I’d picked it up about two years ago, read only about 20% of it before abandoning it entirely. I just couldn’t sink my teeth into it, for some reason. Which was odd because I’d really loved Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim.
Anyhow, when I finished reading The Bell Jar and was contemplating my next read, I found this already on my Kindle and decided to give it a second go. This time around I breezed thru it and enjoyed large parts of the book. Mainly because I’ve realised I enjoy this brand of wry, almost sardonic humour. I don’t do humour, and I know how hard it is to get it right, so when I chance upon writing that is simple and funny, it makes me very happy.
This is a very simple memoir of humourous anecdotes that — and this is the bit about Sedaris’ style that I enjoy — display his ability to turn inane, everyday observations and events into fully fleshed-out anecdotes. The events are relatable, even though he masks his cynicism with humour that’s witty, yet wry and almost acrid and may only sometimes make you LOL, but that you will otherwise just breeze through with a chuckle here and grin there. Again, the context is American, so it takes a little familiarity to really get it. This, I suspect, is why I didn’t enjoy it so much the first time.
It’s not a book that’s going to deeply impact you, or stay with you and linger in the back of your mind for a long time to come. It’s a fun, quick read and that’s another one struck off this list that I’m still aiming to work through.
Bernadette is an oddball. She’s a woman with too many loud opinions about everything, wild unconventional ideas about life and her work (she’s an architect), and has what could be naively considered a strange relationship with her husband and daughter. She goes against the grain in every set up — professional, social, familial — and this is what makes her loveable. And then she goes missing.
The mystery that then unfolds as her daughter and husband take an epic journey to the end of the earth (literally!) in search of her is quirky, funny, yet moving. In searching for her, they’re somehow also searching for themselves, and the relationships between them. Between the mystery and the emotional bits, this one was hard to put down.
It helps that it is written entirely as an epistolary narrative and is cleverly put as the story unfolds through letters, emails, blog posts, magazine articles and flashbacks. The writing is simple, but satirical and very relatable. I later found out that Semple has a career in TV too, writing for shows like Arrested Development and SNL – so no surprise why I enjoyed it so much.
We are in what I call the dregs of the monsoon. The time of year that makes me ache for a way to extend time. Prolong it, pickle it and stash it away in a bottle for a rainy day. And I mean that entirely metaphorically because a “rainy” day that needs a monsoon fix would actually have to be a day completely devoid of rain. Like the kind we are heading into. I know this because I’m seeing the telltale signs of the waning monsoon that make me yearn to, like I said, find a way to preserve this goodness for good.
The downturn begins to show in the slightest, most subtle ways. An extra ten minutes of daylight before the sun goes down. The sun fearlessly shines through the cloud cover that struggles to hold it’s ground. People are ‘forgetting’ to carry their umbrellas. Some are even trading them in for sun glasses. The crispness of clean air gone, humidity makes a comeback, weighing down on everything. The light turns from a dull grey to tinged with blue, sometimes yellow. Long strokes painting the views in hues of post monsoon glow.
I find myself unwilling to let it go. Longing for the sounding if water tumbling outside. The lull of a day heavy and dripping with a week’s worth of rain. The sea a marbled vat of shades of brown and red, churning on furiously. The newness of baby leaves giving way to the confidence of growth. The pristine, clean air hazy once again with specks of dust and grime.
I realise the monsoon is more than just the sum total of the years precipitation. It’s a bit of a production. With us grabbing it as a legitimate excuse for the extended hours of sleep, deep fried snacks, weekends staying in, kickstarting that lost reading habit, taking longer afternoon naps dead to the world, pulling out the stops in creatively reimagining your laundry situation — it is about so much more than just the rain.
It’s that time of year again — the monsoon is ending, the rain is leaving. And I’m trying to hang on to it while it’s still throwing some scraps this way. I want to make the most of going riding in the rain, wearing my rubber slippers all the time and everywhere, eating a warm snack at 4 pm with my chai, using my oven to grill meat and veggies again. It’s like a much needed time of restoration and regeneration. As much as the monsoon forces you to slow down, stay cooped up and recuperate, it is a time for the energy to gather itself, bubbling beneath the surface. Come September-October, the sunshine life will kick in again.
We’re already getting our share of brisk days, with a steady feathery drizzle, cotton candy clouds and eye0popping greens all around that beg you to get out just a little and begin to get used to it again.
Who can resist a the-monsoon-is-ending kind of day like this?
Somehow, this year I have skipped the entire phase of frustration with the monsoon that typically follows the initial days when I’m in raptures about how amazingly beautiful everything is. I usually go from revelling in picturesque views, accompanied by monsoon-perfect soundtracks that usually always make me super nostalgic, to working my way out of an insurmountable pile of undried laundry that just wont relent. But, somehow it’s August and the rain has suddenly slowed down to less than a trickle already. The temperatures are rising again. But there is clean, dry laundry and I realised I have skipped that rigmarole entirely, moving swiftly to complaining about how the best of the monsoon has gone by all too soon.
It was meant to be a good monsoon this year. They even issued warnings about its possible severity. It did lash down for the first two months. It lashed down so long, so hard and so incessantly that all of June and July have gone by in a blur of rain. I don’t know how they’ve just zipped by. When I left for Bangalore last week, it was pouring like there’s no tomorrow. I had to endure some tremendously unsettling turbulence on my flight out and back in, but I returned to bright, oppressively sunshiny weather. The laundry is drying to a crisp in under 24 hours. The doors and windows are remaining open all day. We’re back to using the air conditioning. I even dug my sunglasses out of hiding. Needless to say, I have not been happy about this super speedy sequence of events.
I wondered if it was over. I felt a tad sad too. I complained loudly to anyone willing to listen. And just when I was writing it off as the close of monsoon 2016, it began to come down in little spurts again yesterday. Reluctant, uncooperative bursts of mini showers just enough to bring the temperatures down a notch, and to tease me into believing there is more to come.
I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, that a piddly shower or two is all it takes to make me happy. A brief sprinkling, like a parting shot is all it takes to induce a full blown monsoon-induced sloth. Yesterday, I woke up way earlier than usual (for a Sunday morning), stirred by the patter of rain outside. Of course wake up is a bit of a stretch, because I literally only got out of bed to make myself a cup of tea and reheat a paratha, both of which were taken right back into bed. I got right back under the covers and stuck my nose tight back into my book. For the next four hours or so. The next thing I knew, it was noon and there was lunch to be
It takes very little to change the mood around here. I am so easily distracted. I am so easily pleased. The slightest smidgen of cozy comfort returning to my cocoon makes me feel so content, that sometimes I wonder if it’s the situation that makes a moment perfect or a moment that can make a situation perfect.
Stripped of all the fluff
Torn down to the core
We always want to roam free.
If there’s one word I had to pick, to describe the month of July, it would have to be tired. I wasn’t just tired, tired became me. I may not have shown it, but at various points I felt physically, mentally, emotionally depleted and wrung out.
When I fell pretty badly ill and even the doctor couldn’t figure out why, I boiled it down to the fact that I may have overworked myself. Just a tad. There was a fair bit of writing that happened, but I may have over committed and reached out for more than I can grab at one go. But there was a lot of fun work too. I wrote this piece on Indu’s 100TinderTales project and this piece on my favourite, homegrown chocolate brands. I cracked one new pub, instead of two like I originally aimed for, but I’m not complaining because a lot of this month was wasted, so I’m discounting a lot of the time. By wasted, I mean time was spent “at work” but not quite working.
It’s been a slow month because of it. Several days were spent at my desk, in front of the computer, struggling to just follow through. I made every deadline dangerously in the nick of time, which causes a lot of stress and is really not the way I like to work all the time. My attempts to fight the sloth that seemed to come over me in waves, included driving away to places far from home in the hope that a change of scene may get the creative juices flowing, plenty of snacks and drinks which I can now feel settled around my belly, looking up writing tools like this crazy drastic but much-needed one right here, and trying everything short of strapping myself to my chair to get my work done in time, I’ve accepted that I’ve hit a major productivity slump. The weather has been amazing, and that hasn’t helped at all. Right from the start of the month I’ve been wanting to stay cooped indoors. It began with a serious extended holiday hangover, coupled with the effort to make myself work even though every cell in my body was revolting, which resulted in a lot of navel gazing about solitude and the unlikely, unexpected way in which I realised I’ve become a thorough homebody and realised I may actually be more of an introvert that I am willing to accept. Add to that the forced week off from all activity, and the most gorgeous rainy weeks, and you realise why it has been such a slow, sluggish month.
It isn’t the kind of slow that made me irritable or has left me unhappy in any way. If anything, I’ve felt like it was a natural course of required slowing down that I always find being enforced in my life when I am not looking, but when I need it the most.
I’ve been relaxing over the weekends by cycling again. The rain notwithstanding. And as with every monsoon, this year too I have been listening to a lot of music. I don’t know if it’s entirely the weathers doing, but I have been overly emotional. Feeling things I don’t really need to feel. Weeping over things I shouldn’t have to. Ranting about minor annoyances. And just feeling very, very wrung out.
The slowness, it just doesn’t seem to leave me. It brings to the surface the restlessness that I thought I had channeled into my work. But somewhere that seems to have gone a bit tits-up, and it calls for a little revision. So I’ve kind of allowed myself to go with the flow. It was a high-emotion month, with low-energy — which results in a lot of heart not keeping up with the head, head not cooperating with the heart. I’ve wanted to do a lot more, but have been unable to get moving. This is possibly the natural order of things, there has to be a low, so we get a chance to rebuild momentum to take things up again. So I’m hoping that this too shall pass.
I’ve started August in the same uninspired mode, finishing up some work from last month that has trickled into this week, thanks to the lethargy. At the end of this week I’m off to Bangalore, and Kerala and hope to be back mid-month, when I will hopefully take stock of things and begin again. If I were to listen to my gut, this is going to be a month of taking it slow again.
It’s hard to think that the same monsoon that’s wreaking havoc in the North East of India has been an essential source, of solace in the west and down south, and closer home, complete and utter joy. If it isn’t already abundantly clear, I’m revelling in the monsoon this year. More than usual. It’s been one of the nicest I have experienced in all my years here. — perpetually damp laundry notwithstanding.
When I began cycling this year, I thought I’d hit upon this absolutely magical thing because it somehow altered the very way in which I experienced my surroundings, my neighbourhood, the streets I’ve been driving around for only the last 6.5 years, and my immediate surroundings in general. Being out in the open like that, using your own physical effort to push yourself forward up climbs, down slopes, speeding down straights, feeling the wind, the sun, the heat, the rain on your body, taking in the smells, observing the sights closer to the ground — millipedes calmly meandering on, dead frogs, just-finished bottled of alcohol from a late-night road-side drinking binge — mountains of trash in the vicinity that you somehow never noticed before, the quirks of lazy passersby, all of this really changes how you take in what you see and feel around you, how you engage with it, and what it comes to mean to you.
When I began cycling this year, I knew it was easily one of the best things I have done in a while, but I had no idea what was to come. Cycling is all well and awesome, but cycling in the Goan monsoon, now that is really something worth writing home about. It’s taken me father and deeper into parts of Goa I haven’t experiences up close. And it’s rekindled a deep my love for Goa that has been somewhat going through a flux the past 8-10 months now.
We cycled to the jetty at Ribandar and took the boat to visit two islands close to Panjim this past weekend, Diwar on Saturday and Chorao yesterday. I’ve been to these islands many, many times before. And yet doing it on a bike, going far, going beyond and being exposed in a way that only a bike can, really made it feel like a unique, first time experience.
There’s something immensely simple and beautiful about how life just doesn’t stop in Goa, no matter how heavy the rain is. Dogs take the ferry up and down, people get their rain pants on, get on their scooters, take the ferry and get to work on time, going about their routines like oh, it’s just some rain, nbd, as the feathery drizzle turns to a storm that lashes down on us all in no time at all.
We’re closing in on 7 years in Goa, and with every ride I realise just how much is still left to see and experience. It’s the kind of unbridled beauty that leaves you not wanting to take any pictures because you would just do no justice.
American Beauty moments abound, echoing the emotion laden in every word of that monologue at the end of the movie where Kevin Spacey is lying in a pool of his own blood, thinking, “…it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life… You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… you will someday.”
Except, I’m not dying. And it’s me, I take a lot of pictures at all time. And I did this past weekend too. Not too many, but just enough, before it all got too overwhelmingly beautiful and I couldn’t do it anymore. So this picture-heavy post borrows heavily from VC and R.
The average weekend ride lasts about 4 hours. There is always a breakfast stop, sometimes a second chai stop, and lots of halts to stop and take the sights in. But, I swear, the happiness from every ride lasts far longer. It remains for days, long after we’ve returned, washed the gunk off our bikes and settled into a lazy weekend mode, and even slipped back into a regular work week.
There is chit-chat and conversations. VC always gets his ass taken for being the studious, serious cyclist that he is, with pressing, pertinent advice for us. But there is also peace and quiet. And once the giggles and banter dies down, we just sit in silence, until someone suggests that it’s time to head back.
As I mull over the restlessness about what I’m doing and where my life is headed, thoughts of what-next and where-to-from-here gnaw at me from time to time. And let’s be honest, sometimes the answers and options that look exciting do point outside of Goa. I nurse these thoughts from time to time. And then I go cycling, sometimes it is on a rainy as hell Sunday morning, and I find my heart quietly brimming with an overwhelming joy that makes me believe I’m crazy to think I ever want to leave.
As I began to write this, I titled it Day 2010. You know, 207, 208, 209, 2010. I’m losing my head, I really am. I realised yesterday that my music listening really spikes in the monsoon. It’s definitely a result of an overall chirpy mood. Good weather makes everything better, and makes for awesome ambience, all the damned time. All every day needs is its own sound track, which I have been providing very willingly, right from the very first year here.
Every monsoon ends up having it’s anthem – that one track that gets used and abused, on loop, for weeks on end. It’s the one track that gets forever labelled with the monsoon it is assigned to, and will then forever be categorised with that year for all of time to come.
I quickly scrolled through the The Rain tag and realised just how many posts are accompanied by rain music. Every monsoon even has it’s own mammoth music post that usually features a lot of Coke Studio. This song always makes a comeback in this season. And all the music listening makes me very, very nostalgic. As it did even as recently as yesterday. But mostly it’s an odd unconnected mix of lots of music that is inspired around this time of year. Sometimes it’s Bollywood-y. sometime’s it’s an ode to our annual dose of Coke Studio.
This year, it’s been a random assorted bunch of stuff but there have been some frequent, oft-repeated tracks that are going to always be associated with the Monsoon of 2016.
Like Moon Child, which is just perfect for the rain and gets played a minimum of three times a day, no matter what else I may listen to.
And then there’s been a strange Shakthisree comeback thanks to listening to a lot of Indian inde music that R digs out and shares with me from time to time. Have you watched this movie? Just listening to this song I don’t understand, makes me want to watch it.
I can’t remember when or where I first heard this song, but I had it shazamed and ready to listen to when I got home, and it promptly came back to me on one particularly rainy day. And then it has stuck.
Have you heard the wonder that is Nicholson? This song in particular? You may have seen it on my instagram.
This song from Waiting has been getting a daily play.
And my interest in this old Coldplay song was rekindled.
Okay, that’s all, I think. Enjoy maadi. And if you want more music, look here.
As much as this is great weather to be out (because it’s not impossibly hot as it can be at other times of the year in Goa) I’ve realised this is also the perfect weather to stay in. The rain makes for an excellent view, a rather welcome constant background noise and everything is just so cool and pleasant. Today, I didn’t even need the fan on. One week of raining, and I’m officially cold.
If you’re the sort of person who can spend long periods of time with yourself, and rarely hate being alone, and almost never get tired or bored of being by yourself, working from home is the best arrangement you could ask for. I sometimes go for days, sometimes more than a week, without stepping out to meet people. I am able to keep the socialising and getting out and about to a minimum because I’ve realised it works for me and so I choose to have it that way. And it’s much easier to do because I don’t have an office to get to every day. A visit to gym less than a 2-minute drive away is about as far as I go on any given day. And if I were to be honest and admit how I really feel about it, I’d have to say I’d find my time at the gym infinitely nicer if I didn’t have to engage with people. I allow my errands to pile up so I have to get out once to run through them every ten days or so. I stockpile my groceries and veggies, limiting visits to the market to the minimum. When it comes to socialising, it helps that there are very few people who would try and come over or have me go over. So I do, when I’m up for it. In recent time I’ve gotten very good at being honest in turning down invitations when I’m not feeling like it. For the most part I’ve designed a life that is greatly suited to being alone. And I’m not sure if it’s now just a matter of habit but I really it. Waking up with nowhere to go, but having a whole day to do as I please is always a lovely feeling.
Recently I ran rattled off my typical routine to someone who was visibly stunned that I don’t need to get out for something or the other every day. I really don’t. Not even for fresh air.
Two days ago, I realised it had been over a week since I had stepped out. A visit to the doctor and the path lab don’t count. It was the first day I was able to get out of bed and not feel drained of energy. So I drove over to one of my favourite cafes all the way in Assagaon. With a notebook for company. Over many Americanos and a delicious Haianese stir-fried chicken over brown rice, I got a fair bit of writing and thinking done. It rained the whole time, and from the window where I sat, I saw a peacock perched on a large raintree outside the cafe. Then I packed up some brownies for later, and drove back home. The rain had tempted me to step out. Like I said, this is great weather to be out and about. But I was quick to come back home.
Why did I suddenly think about all this? Well, today, I went back to the gym after ten days away and it was nice. I came home and spent the rest of the day working, which is a vast improvement from the week gone by. It’s Friday and I could have been out with friends this evening, but in a completely predictable turn of events (for me), I chose to stay in and work on unfinished things. I’ve been a hectic socialiser in the past. I’ve had bouts of it up until recently too. But despite it all the inner loner always rises to the surface and wins. Goa did this to me, you know? Goa with its splendid outdoors, lust-worthy monsoony weather, beautiful places all within drivable distances from me, did this to me.
What can I say, Goa silenced the frenetic pseudo-socialiser in me, and unearthed this homebody who’s in no mood to go away any time soon.
Current rain-induced stay-at-home mood:
As I stirred this morning, at an hour far later than the usual, I realised that the romance of waking up to the rain at this time of year will probably never get old. I could hear the constant rush of rain outside. I peeked out through a crack in the curtain behind my head and I was right. It was coming down in sheets. as it has every day, for the last week now. And like it has for at least least four similar bouts since the start of this monsoon. And like it has for the last seven monsoons I’ve witnessed. And every year the intrigue is fresh, the enchantment persists, the fascination gets stronger. It kicked in with full force early this month and on cue, it’s brought the daily undeniable urge to stay in bed longer, that can only be faced with the thought of a steaming up of tea that lures me out. Mornings are the best time. Everything is crisp, everything is lush and freshly birthed. Gleaming new baby leaves, brave buds bursting forth.
We’re in the midst of another rainy bout of continuous squelchy days. Waking up to get going has been really difficult. I haven’t been to the gym in a week and this morning I realised that starting the day with exercise really sets the ball rolling and without it, I feel a bit anchor-less. Added to that, I’m still a little low on energy from the illness, and waking up is fuzzy. But the promise of chai makes it better. That, and kitchen views of wild flowers that bloom and get going overnight. Where they can, when they can.
No, this isn’t the cycling post I promised I’d write to explain why I started cycling in addition to everything else. But it is a post about how I got off the bandwagon and may have just been kicked back on it again.
My initial gust of enthusiasm melted away in the unforgiving summer we had this year. I hadn’t (still haven’t) stopped kickboxing and cycling 3-4 mornings a week before I hit the gym was becoming hard to sustain. The sun would be out by 7 and dehydration is a real fear. So I decided to resume when the weather turned for the better.
There was also the minor detail about being chased by a pack of street dogs one day, that had me so panic-stricken I managed to get a good mind-block about venturing out too far, too fast and on my own.
Then the weather changed early last month, and VC resumed cycling with gusto. Relentlessly waking up, trying everyday to wake me up and get me to go with him too. But rainy, grey mornings are for snuggling under the covers, not for getting out in the rain, pedalling against the wind.
But VC carried on, and sometime last week he did this.
And it has sufficiently kicked me back on track (mostly from envy) because I realised suddenly that there is still so much of Goa left to see. This is easily the best time of year to do it. And to do it on a cycle is pretty damned special.
It’s been predicted that this year will have a lot of rain. Surplus they’re calling it. Considering we’ve had a deficit for two consecutive years now, this should be good news. But some sources say, for more than one reason, this may very well be the harshest monsoon we’ve experienced in 22 years. And that worries me. Wildly swinging from the extremes of deficit, two harsh summers, two summer droughts in many parts of the country, and then this kind of rain – something doesn’t fit.
It has been raining for the last three weeks or so. We had a couple of days of heavy downpour when it began at the start of June, and the second very intense wave hit last week. The day I left for Madras, VC tells me the sun was out for all of three hours before it began to pour. And then it. just. didn’t. stop.
Meanwhile videos of the Mayor falling into a creek brimming with excess water and assorted crap (literally) while he took his new de-weeder out for a spin, emerged. Whatsapp jokes about the woes of this kind of incessant rain (that only a fellow west-coaster will relate to) have started doing the rounds.
The evening I arrived from Madras I hit a beach side restaurant in my excitement to see this kind of heavy rain after absolute ages. Thick layers of dark clouds hung around ominously. VC called it a scene out of GoT. I ordered a Rum and Coke, even though I neither love rum nor drink coke anymore, only because the weather just demanded a warm drink. The wind made the protective plastic sheets billow inwards violently. It was beautifully noisy, howling winds, waves crashing and VC and I could barely converse. All plans for a romantic rainy sea side date dashed because we were both cold, and there was no hope of catching up over the storm clamouring just beyond the wall of the restaurant. So we returned home.
I came back from Madras to a home that smelled like wet dogs were trapped in there. I had a fair bit of laundry to be done, but the house was already strewn with half dried laundry in varying stages of musty dryness.
The doors and windows shut tight, with a sheet of rain outside blocking the otherwise uninterrupted view of the building right across the street from me, I had to turn the lights on in the day time. I needed a blanket in the afternoon. I discovered three leaks in my roof. And then I saw a snake yesterday, right outside my gate.
Barely a month into the monsoon, I’ve ticked off most monsoon things already. It’s officially that time of year. This is what 7 days of continuous rain feels like – fluid, mushy and shape-shifting.
This kind of rain makes it impossible to do much except stay put and wait for it to pass. But I’m not complaining. This year, we need the rain.
Rainy days ring in reflection. Perfect for when the weight of all that you carry in your heart, and the burden of heavy clouds on your shoulders bear down on you, pregnant with fettered incomplete thoughts. Shapeless words trickle, drops darting out too soon, before you can think them through. Truth crackles to life, searing through the sky with a mighty rumble in the sky, rudely interrupting a sluggish stupor. The sky get a wash. Momentarily, the view clears up. Just a little bit. It should be a time to ring in the new. A chance to paint a new picture. But things remain diffused, puddles of the present persist. Dragged out, taking their time to in a lethargic spell, caught between what is, and what could be – washed down. Wet, but unburdened.
It’s a fine line that divides solitude and loneliness. They’re almost two sides of the coin. If you’re not the kind of person who sees hectic people-centric activities as the obvious opposite to solitude, that is. It’s not often that you find the company of people with whom you can enjoy it all – solitude, loneliness, and some happy people-time, when you so wish. The past few weekends have defined a very desirable kind of solitude that I had missed for a while. Solitude, even in the presence of company. Weekends have been lazy and home-bound. They’ve been quiet. They’ve been aimless. Simple. And yet, they’ve done the job of weekending perfectly.
VC has been around and I think we’ve both made deliberate attempts to veg-out, which has resulted in ample lazing around and unwinding, either binging on a book, movies, or youtube, like I did the past two days.
Maybe it’s a sign of how streamlines work is getting, but I am unable to even open up anything work-related, even in the rare case I feel extra efficient and like I want to get a head-start. The last two weeks have seen such a surge in productivity, and I’ve gotten so much done that I am a) too wired-out to think of work on the weekend and b) left with none of those little scraps of work that once inevitably were left for the weekend.
So, there has been time to watch questionable amount of TV. To go slow on a book, read the same one all day. To binge. There have been leisurely visits to the market. Extra long afternoon naps; indulgent, home-cooked meals. Impromptu dessert runs.
Sometimes an evening walk or drink by the sea. Early dinner so we can get right back into bed and finishing watching whatever it is we each were.
I don’t have this luxury of just peacefully co-existing with too many people. the comfort of not having to fill the silence, the moments and everything in between with conversation and activities. To just be in the same room, each left to our own devices (heh, pun totally intended!).
But yesterday, we bothered to step out. And go beyond our usual, convenient spot. It’s a spot I find myself going back to at least once every monsoon.
The plan was to go out and get a drink, possibly even dinner after the sun went down. But a combination of laziness, and a rumbly tummy for VC made us wind up back home. Back into my night clothes, in bed, watching Netflix, waiting for my Chinese take out to arrive. We often talk of companionship only in terms of getting along with each other, doing things together, being a team. Such an emphasis on the doing, and not enough on the not doing. The passive, fuss-free, empty moments deserve so much more importance. It is a true luxury to realise peaceful coexistence/
Into the deep blue
Depths of a short memory
Throbbing back to life.
I tried a few new tricks this week. Actually, it’s been in the works for a few weeks now, but things really fell into place only on Monday this week,
Mostly it involved ways to focus better on work, intensify efforts in an efficient way so that I get more from less time spent staring at my computer. And. I’m afraid to admit. It seems to work. (How long I keep it up is another matter, heh.)
I’m closing the week with a surprising amount of new gigs generated, some in progress, and I even made time to visit a “food forest”, bring home some sticky buns, rush back in time to catch margaritas at happy hour with these two whom I haven’t met in what feels like months.
It was pouring cats and dogs outside, the sun was still out, we had a window seat and it the margaritas were perfect. I instinctively felt like snapping a picture.
It feels like a win on multiple counts.
I’ve been feeling terribly asocial of late. And I feel like a cloud is lifting off of me.
I’ve berated myself and my lack of efficiency for months now.
I’ve really, really struggled with how to up the ante in terms of doing more work in a given month.
It’s been on my mind and occupied a lot of my mental bandwidth for the last many weeks. I’ve tried to implement a lot of habits with little success. Until 2 weeks ago when I started turning my data off during work hours, muted whatsapp completely and made myself a timetable for work hours. In just one week of sticking to it, I feel like I may be onto something here. How long this lasts remains to be seen.