Like half the country and their mom burdening the rural health care system here, I am in Goa. It’s been pissing down so much more than I anticipated (or would have liked). And I’m wishing for some sunshine so I can at least get to the beach and sit (socially distant) in the sun. It took us a full day to get the home back to normal from typically Goan monsoon mildew. This morning I thrilled in visiting the neighbourhood supermarket I love and stocking up. We’re already having our first home-cooked meal. Home, so quick. It’s a small joy I’m super duper glad for.
This whole self-isolation things is beginning to feel quite like school all over again. Specifically, when I was in group projects but was always the one that did the work and shared the credit. Or the time someone on our school bus was dumping their lunch on the floor of the bus every single day and the whole bus was detained because nobody owned up, so I ” volunteered to” to shorten detention for everyone. Or that time in Sri Lanka when we misguidedly went whale watching and were given clear instructions about staying in our respective sides of the boat but everyone clean forgot when the first whale was spotted and I thought I could singlehandedly balance the tipping over of the boat by staying on my side (and missing out on seeing the damn whale!) because everyone else had clearly forgotten. This is how it feels. Staying in, against all odds, feeling all the emotional highs and lows that come with it, only to see outside it’s a party like Covid has left the building.
I don’t get it. Is it positive thinking and optimism that these folks have? Or is it blind stupidity and denial about the shitshow we are in the midst of?
Anyhow, every time that I have mustered the courage to venture out a bit, and break the isolation, something has happened that makes me get right back indoors. It’s kind of amazing.
First it was the containment zone in our neighbourhood. Then the case right in our building. Then, last weekend I was mildly under the weather and I convinced myself that it was the virus, so I hunkered down and lay low only to have it all pass in 3 days – phew. And now, we’re back in total lockdown.
In between these phases, we have somehow managed to get ourselves the new sofas, replace some essentials in the kitchen, and I got new sneakers too, and some new plants for the house. I’m glad we did, because life indoors is better for it.
I can’t say we have been totally isolated, or totally out of touch with the outdoors. There have been consistent grocery runs and shopping for fruit and veg. But for the first three months we were hyper good about staying in. Even after “unlocking” we were limiting outings, stockpiling errands and waiting for them to accumulate before getting out. We haven’t met any of our friends, except having D over a few weeks ago, and then we went plant shopping last week. But it has been 90% isolation, I’d say. I have lost track of the days, but cumulatively I think they’re touching the day 130ish mark or so. Which just feels like oh so much.
The year had just started when we got locked in, and somehow we’re past the mid-way mark of 2020. I still have moments of awe and shock when I think about the enormity of this situation.
Since we’re back in lockdown, I am enjoying the silence again. The traffic disappearing makes such a difference. But right before all this happened my sister snuck away to my folks in Kerala, and so our party of three has whittled down to two. This is a number and a space that is both terribly isolating as well as snug and cozy, if you know what I mean.
The energy certainly shifted when July began. I feel it all round. Work has been picking up steam, I am enjoying the home and doing things at home again — cooking, working out, gardening — plus there is the rain. Those frightfully beautiful misty mornings, all-day rainy days that I know many don’t enjoy. But I can’t get enough of them.
Today was one of those days. I knew from the moment I woke up that it was going to be raining all day, and I felt immediately like I wanted to just potter about my home, and not do much else. I had myself a full on domestic morning. Cooked a full lunch of stuffed baingan, rasam and rice and assorted fried things to go with. Cleaned out the fridge, re-stocked the veggies that had just been delivered. Dusted and set furniture right again. Laundry. Watering the indoor plants. Otherwise dull stuff, but somehow satisfying in these strange times. What can I say, staying in is bringing out this extra nesty person in me.
Even after all these months, I can’t decide if I love or hate this. If I’m sick of it or very used to it. Mostly, I oscillate between these two extremes. Very little in my immediate environment or life like it used to be feels like it will return to “normal” whenever that may be. On the one hand, I am thriving in the moment and everything it has brought for me, and to that extent I’m so present and all here; but I am also away a lot, you know? In my head. Dreaming of something beyond, the larger picture, a different life, after. Late night chats with these two, in their faraway worlds and homes, has kept me going.
There are currently fewer things that really, and I mean reallllly, hit the spot for me than
- a day with no plans
- cooking an utterly barebones meal
- and sticking my hands in mud first thing in the morning
Today, I hit the jackpot, because even without intending or planning to, I waltzed through all three things, spontaneously today.
It certainly helps that it is a gorgeous morning here, with dappled light, a steady drizzle, with the promise of more rain. So gorgeous that it inspired me to indulge in that rare occurrence –breakfast. And chai on top of it.
And then I began sorting through my plants. Repotting some stuff, putting some babies that I’d propagated too long ago into soil, cutting and pruning some, and snipping off a large bunch of new babies, and making a giant mess in the bargain. I didn’t realise it, but three hours just passed by this way.
Thankful for the gifts my little balcony keeps giving. Literal and metaphorical today, because I was moved to tears seeing the root growth on a wee spider baby plant that I have ignored for longer than I intended to.
I’ve been easily moved and emotional lately. But the comfort with the emotions welling over isn’t always uniform. Sometimes there is extreme ease, and sometimes I feel taken by surprise and quickly begin to analyze where it may be coming from. Invariably, I conclude that it doesn’t matter. What matters is to feel it out, one way or another. I know that writing is one way for me to feel, but I have been trying to choose less fixed, cognitive, obvious and “presentable” ways to feel in recent times. Watercolours, watching the rain, gardening, sitting in silence. And I wonder if this has made it easier still, for the emotions to flow, without reason. Filterless and free.
Life goes easy on me today.
One year ago: Pause
Two years ago: You’ll be a good listener, you’ll be honest, you’ll be brave
Three years ago: What coming home feels like: light and life
Four years ago: June
Can’t get over, or enough of, the brilliant weather we’ve had this past week. Consistently moody skies, pleasantly refreshing drizzles in the day and nourishing downpours by evening.
I’ve taken it easy this week thanks to getting my period, but also the fact that it occurred happily right when the weather got so good. I’ve wanted to do nothing but stay in, so I took the readymade excuse that was offered up on a platter.
I had a mini catch-up session for my course, mid-week, but my mind was entirely elsewhere this time around. Amongst the rain laden clouds. The glistening wet streets. The cool air, beyond. In thoughts of picnicking somewhere outside Bangalore. With being in the hills elsewhere. Amongst this random dream of a cottage with a farm where I’m growing my own veggies.
That’s the only spot of work I managed to get myself to do. Readings have been going on, and they don’t tax me or demand a lot out of me at the pace at which I’m operating currently. So it doesn’t even classify as work. There are a few plans or side projects I have that I could get going with — logically this is the right time — but I haven’t been able. I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait like this for the right moment but it feels like the only thing I can do right now. I can seem to only push myself this much. Going against the grain and pushing through in the name of “getting shit done” just because an empty spot of time opened up is not only hard, it feels impossible now.
Today after cleaning chores, though, I shuffled things around at home. In anticipation of our new living room furniture that’s arriving soon. We decided to break the rule and not get a set, or a couch, but two single armchairs instead, in the hope that it opens up our cozy, tiny living room up. I bathed my plants and moved them around. I took the babies that have been inside outside, and brought some new babies inside.
The whole time it drizzled. And I cleaned while listening to Continuum, which threw it all the way back to to yonks ago, to a time in the years when I had just started to drive in Bangalore. When listening to my best music, driving around in the rain, with no plan or agenda, was a legit thing to do. Most times, I didn’t even need company.
This whole album is GOLD. And perfect for the rain. And is loaded with all the feels. It was a serious trip today that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I can’t believe another week has just whizzed by. I feel like I’ve been horizontal for the most part. I can’t complain, but I am just in shock at the pace at which time seems to be moving, even with deliberately doing so little. And just like that another weekend rolls along. The days are certainly blurring, weekday/weekend, nothing seems to matter anymore and I’m just floating through the continuum.
It’s been gloomy all day. Spend the day under a blanket kind of weather. And that’s just what I did. Getting out only briefly to help VC make lunch. He made us steaks with a creamy wine and mushroom sauce today, with sauteed garlicky beans on the side.
I’m happy for days like this, somehow. And I said to VC, how different this whole time might have been if he or I or both of us had full time jobs that took us outside.id have definitely missed this opportunity for nesting in the way that we have.
Something about the luxury of that has meant cocooning some more. And it has been very good for us.
It’s been a confusing day. A day that has shown me very intensely that many times the price to pay for absolutely honesty and authenticity is loneliness.
Because people show me time and time again how they cannot value and hold it.
How they cannot handle it.
How they absolutely will compensate by bringing in their projections.
How easy it is for me to feel like the problematic one.
How quickly I feel responsible.
And how all of this can drag me back to my old narratives in a jiffy.
I’m fuckenn sick of people’s projections.
One year ago: Meeting myself
Two years ago: Serendipity, do you believe that this makes sense?
Woke up to a classic grey Bangalore morning, and a daytime drizzle that I have been praying for for weeks now. And it’s taken me from living in shorts for eight straight weeks to a full-sleeved teeshirt and jeans this morning. I have missed this weather so much.
This comes on the back of four days of torrential evening downpours. Insane winds, heavy, heavy rain that wreaked havoc in my neighbourhood. Amongst several others, we lost a gigantic rain-tree (I think) that was easily over 50 years old. A tree that the home I grew up in overlooked, a tree that I have seen every single day of my life the last 25 years in that home. A tree that has grown and grown right before our eyes, housing so many dozens of birds and squirrels and what have you. It’s survived being struck by lightning some years ago, but the storm a few days ago knocked it right off from the roots, sending this colossal epic life-giving green lunch on my block crashing down.
The storms have been so bad, flinging our windows open, bringing glassware crashing down, upturning my pots and badgering my plants. It’s been destructive as hell. In keeping with the general energy around the planet at this time, I would say. This virus, the genocide it’s brought on, the definite economic slowdown that’s creeping up, a cyclone, storms, avalanches in some parts of the country, a heatwave in others, and now locusts. I keep wondering when we’ll catch a break. It’s like we just can’t.
I’ve been feeling melancholic all week. And as it has been the last three months or so, the words have been hard to come by. They’re there, swimming around in my brain. But I have almost no inclination to pickle them and prune them and put down in articulate terms what I am feeling at the moment.
I have gotten far too comfortable with feeling the feelings, rather than trying to necessarily understand or break them down. It might seem counterintuitive to say so, but this has been a freeing shift.
And so this morning, when I woke up to the greyness that immediately spurred a hot shower and a full-sleeved tee, I felt a resonance. The skies are melancholic. The air is wet. There’s that faint aroma of rain hanging in the air like an unkept promise. And there’s no sunlight to be seen right now.
I’ve been feeling intensely lonely lately too. More than usual. More than I have even during the lockdown. It’s not loneliness that’s a longing for company, but something else. Something I am not quite sure of, but am feeling very intensely anyway.
And so this morning, when I woke up to this greyness, I felt very unwilling to get up and get going. Last night I had a plan for this morning. Workout, chores, veggie shopping, lunch by myself. Instead I have just been in bed for much longer than planned, canned the workout and chores, had a hot shower, and gotten right back into bed.
I am okay with this.
My tuck jumps have gotten steadily better. I’ve gone from not being able to do more than 2-3 at a stretch in February, to being able to do a slippy cheat version for 30 seconds (cheating was the only way to endure the interval) on my birthday, to today doing them really bloody well for the entire interval.
I felt seriously stoked. Working out within the physical restrictions of a 4x5ish space in my living room at home has upped my game. Who’dathunk?
Vc had a light work day and so we spent it together relaxing, just doing our own thing. It is a seriously underrated luxury.
I cooked lunch today as opposed to eating leftovers from dinner the previous night, which is usually the strategy. Sindhi kadhi, methi aloo and some crispies on the side — perfect for the threatening-to-pour-any-minute-now day that it was.
Then it came down finally. It poured the fuck out at sunset and things have cooled off considerably.
I went the whole hog and made Biryani today. Friday onions, a separate meat curry cooked in coconut milk, half cooked basmati rice. Layered and cooked on the dum. It was divine and I even took a picture, which I looked at much later, only to discover it’s a perfect depiction of how good the biryani smelt and looked because I was clearly in too much of a rush to dig in.
It’s day for of incessant rain and I didn’t think I’d ever complain about it, but here we are. I’ve frikking had enough.
I haven’t seen the sun since we got in on Monday. We haven’t started on any of the errands we need to. In fact our departure hangs in mid air because VC plans to ride his bike back to Bangalore and we can’t even plan to leave until the rain subsides. I haven’t resumed running like I wanted to. I haven’t been able to take this opportunity to get back to my food plan in earnest, and my smoothie lunches. Because, power cuts. Many, many power cuts.
It seems like yet another intervention making my best laid plans go to waste. Literally washing away all my good intentions. But my grip on it is much looser than before so going with the flow has been easier. It’s a wonder, for example, that it’s taken four days before I got to the point of having had absolutely enough of this rain.
I have spent a major part of my time relaxing here. But the lack of sun light and fresh air (because the rain has been so unimaginably heavy all our windows are shut all the time) is finally, finally getting to me. I woke up this morning feeling borderline depressive. Gloomy, down in the dumps, imagining plates of the best food that absolutely nobody will bring to me, with just bread and eggs in the fridge.
This morning we have had no power since 8 am. And finally when it got too much to bear we left the house. Unshowered, just rolled out of bed, changed and left to find the nearest place that will give us beers.
And so here we are. Staying indoors was really beginning to mess with my mind.
I’m taking this as an intervention and trying to accept with grace how little control over my plans, I have. I’m happy to be outdoors. It’s green as fuck, and the temperatures are low, borderline cold, thankfully. I’m going to try and make the most of it while I can.
Incidentally, today is exactly one year since VC and I packed up one person’s worth of living stuff and drove across to Goa separately. Full circle, today. Gratitude for this journey and all that is has unwittingly brought to us.
By now I know that this extended rain isn’t an occurrence isolated to the coasts alone. It’s been raining all over large parts of India, from what I have read and heard. But what I’ve experienced in Goa in just the two days since coming back is phenomenal. I don’t remember it being this heavy even earlier this year in peak monsoon.
This feels like July or August once again, but it is just so much more…relentless. Powerful, unstoppable, aggressive, almost.
Yesterday we had some respite in snatches. But at some point when we were busy playing taash last night, it began to come down again. Loudly and continuously, with no signs of slowing down. It continued well into the night and even as I drove home in the rain closer to 1 am and we got into bed, it didn’t seem like it was going to pause anytime soon. I woke up to the same rain, same intensity, same darkness at about 9 am. And it has just gone on and on and on like that all day long. I am not even exaggerating. I slowed down a wee bit, just a tad, in the afternoon and just as I heaved a sigh of relief it came clamouring down again at about 6 pm, and it’s the same story all over again. It looks and feels a bit like there is some endless source where this is coming from, and it is nowhere near done.
It’s been 20 days since I got any exercise at all. I mean any exercise. I haven’t moved a limb. First it was the holiday, then the hectic week at class. And so I came to Goa prepared to at least resume running again. Outdoors, I thought. Since there’s so many places to go here. But I guess the weather has other plans. So instead of moving again, I’ve spend a majority of my time here in bed. Between the darkness thanks to the nonexistent sunlight, the great sleep vibes this house has, rising late and generally letting myself go this month, I’m writing October off as a dud. A rest month.
Something about being here with absolutely no need to wake up “on time” always brings out the lazy in me. It’s been interesting to see how I can let it be. So far, I’ve slipped into some form of routine here too, but nope I haven’t even tried this time around. The help doesn’t ring the doorbell in the morning, there’s no gym to get to, VC doesn’t even stir because he has no work to get to, and I have absolutely no demands of me. So I have gotten more sleep than I imagined I could these past three nights and two days.
I’ve even been slow to get started on the errands we need to tick off before we pack up and move cities yet again. I’ve been late to write a post everyday. I have two drafts I want to get down to fleshing out, but they remain as they are — half-written. I have an essay submission to make and tonights the absolute deadline, but it’s in bits and pieces and I’m dragging my feet on tying up the loose ends like I have all the time in the world.
The weather seems to have changed our plans, and for a change I’m going with it. Coincidentally, my body has also needed the rest. A week of class means a lot more to process physically, and that had exhausted me way more than I realised. So I suppose it’s natural that the minute I put myself in a no-demands environment, it’s claiming the rest and sleep in needs.
Even as I’m a bit peeved by how goddamned wet it is, I’m grateful for the break. For the sleep. For the rest. For the contemplation and clarity that has come because of it.
Hello from Goa where, absurdly enough, we arrived in the midst of a full blown cyclonic weather change. It’s pouring bonkers cats and dogs. And the forecast for the restof the week isn’t looking very promising. I’m usually a big fan of the rain but this time, I wanted some sunshine. We’ve got work to do, I came prepared to go to the beach, and unlike all my other trips this year, this one is going on be shorter.
Anyhow it was an almost treacherous drive all the way home, with the setting sun, super overcast dark skies and the rain just angrily lashing down. So I did what I do in the rain in Goa. I listened to Coke Studio. All the way home. And felt a super duper longing for life in Goa like it used to be in the years between 2011-2013.
The first thing I did as soon as I walked into the house was check on our plants. They’re THRIVING! The second thing I registered was how I always feel so delighted and at ease to have a home here. There’s quite nothing like it — coming home, from home. And like VC mentioned when I shared this with him, there’s something special about this one — our first home together — that makes it fit.
The rest of the week promises to be interesting.
Gratitude for the luxury of flying that just transports me quite literally from one place to another. Even with all the challenges flying has these days, it’s a luxury and a privilege I don’t take lightly.
Today, a lot happened and I had three different things I wanted to write about. But somehow the day just got ahead of me — errands in the a.m., Netflix and chill in the afternoon and then a long-ass marathon 4 hour study/practice session with D & S. (I’ve gotten so much reading — for the course — and practice in this week, I feel pleased) And then I stepped out for an early dinner with my dad, and came right back to Netflix some more.
Something is happening here. As life seems to be opening up and moving, that old familiar quiet seems to be coming back again.
Perhaps it’s also the weather — grey, dull and constantly rainy. It brings a lethargy with it. Today I even skipped going to the gym. It’s making doing things a tad difficult, encouraging me to stay under the covers in bed, reading or Netflixing, for large parts of the day.
Take, another song to fill in for today’s post. Something I have on repeat a lotttt. Because, this weather.
I guess I’m writing off today as a wash-out, a dud, in terms of writing here.
One year ago: July
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: kinship, quietude and becoming
It’s been a glorious rainy, Bangalore monsoon day. Probably not the best day for it, but I spent the entire day out. And it was good, after a weekend of excessive solitude.
I’m getting more comfortable taking the slightly long route to take the metro wherever possible. Especially on a rainy day like today when I got ghosted by two consecutive Ubers, who had collectively kept me waiting 25 minutes. There’s a sense of liberation in not having to depend on another human being to get anywhere. Though I noticed, to my utter delight today, that all the trains I took were being driven (is that what you do with a train? drive it? suddenly I’m not sure) were women.
It was nice to be out and I realised how much I crave invigorating company and conversations that make me tick. A rare spot of daytime drinking to start the week was not a bad idea either hahaha. S has a way and we have a way together. It was a good idea to start the week this way.
Completely satiated, mind and body, I stepped out to of the restaurant, to get back home, only to find profuse rain. That typical feathery, persistent as hell Bangalore rain that comes down like a gossamer veil that feels like it’s not too much, but stand outdoors and you’ll feel it envelope you completely.
There’s potentially a lot to say today, but I’m just not in the mood for it. I feel strangely quiet and content. So, that’ll be all.
I don’t know if it’s the rush of the days since I got back from Goa or the intense experience I’ve had in class this past weekend, but I feel like it’s been forever since I returned. Goa seems like a distant memory because of how in the motion and flow of things I’ve slipped into here, so quickly. It’s like being settled snug in the thick my life here again. It’s new but it’s also a bit like a distortion of time in my mind’s eye. I can’t seem to tell recent from past.
It usually takes me a few days to slip into the way of life here, when I return from travel. Just the getting out of one routine and settling into another, in the different way that life happens here, takes time.
Similarly, it takes a few days of excessive sleep and fighting exhaustion before I can return to some state of normalcy after a module of study at class.
This time it has been different. I went straight to class quite effortlessly taking cabs and metros and autos, the very next day after I returned. Given how difficult, intensely challenging and emotional this last module has been I was prepared to spend a few days flat in bed.
But it has not happened.
On Saturday when class ended, D, S and I went out to grab a bite and catch up outside of class, to decompress from all that had happened for us. Later, when we split after a few hours I went to meet S and get her views on what was going on with me. It was all kinds of energising, rather than draining which is my usual feeling at the end of three days of intense personal work.
On Sunday, I even managed to wake up early and meet D for a walk at Cubbon Park — our first in months. And yesterday I hit the gym again. It’s been about 20 days of no exercise thanks to the travelling back and forth, a misstimed period and generally feeling so emotionally wrought all I wanted to do was not move and eat all the sugar. That phase has clearly passed because I have been itching to resume ever since I returned. I anticipated my body would need some coaxing before it begins to co-operate, simply because it’s been a while.
But this has not happened. I have bounced back. To regular programming, in the gentlest most surprising way. It happened rather effortlessly.
This morning I realised, my breath that was short and tight, is now deep and full. Yesterday my neck was achy and felt like it needed constant support, to it feels extended and upright, my posture relaxed but strong. My body feels supple, but firm.
There is certainly something about coming home. A sense of slipping back into the flow. With all the up and down to Goa and back these last eight months, this time around I returned wanting to stay put for a while. I was beginning to feel like a plastic bag in the wind, and my body was craving some stability.
Stability in this city? An older me might have laughed hard. And possibly chided me so much and kept me from dropping roots and finding the stability I need. But something special seems to have happened.
As I drove to two different corners of Bangalore on Sunday, through pouring rain and mad traffic, I felt that deep sense of having found a home. The city is snarling, it’s falling apart in more ways than I care to count, it’s madenning with the constant rush and the sheer unbelievable number of assholes out on the streets. The trees are disappearing, temperatures are rising. Nothing is reliable, rules don’t exist and anarchy rules loose, people are aggressive, undependable and empathy is mostly dead.
And yet, in that moment I felt completely at ease and at home. Bangalore with its afternoon showers, orange light and rare spots with full tree cover.
This is certainly new.
One year ago: There’s glitter on the floor after the party
It’s my last day in Goa, for this trip and probably the last for this monsoon. We’ve received a storm alert with unprecedented rains expected over the next 24 hours. It means I will miss the last gush of the rain, but worse, I’ll probably have a really turbulent flight back home tomorrow.
It was meant to be a day spent at home, spent packing and sorting things out in the kitchen. On past trips, somehow this last few days has always been hurried and the last day especially so, scrambling to get all the last minute things done in time. I usually empty out the kitchen of most perishables that I bring in when I’m here, that VC doesn’t use often enough, and instead stock it up with dry stuff that has a longer shelf life that he can use on his own time. I sometimes set a whole bunch of meat in an assortment of marinades in small portions and freeze it all up for him to use over the next week to ten days, and I’ve been making a large batch of upma mix that he can use cook in small quantities to when he wants something quick and homely. This usually keeps him going for at least ten odd days, which is better than going back to restaurant take out from the instant I’ve left the building.
It doesn’t seem like a lot by itself, but with the grocery runs and the prep, it’s more than just a simple list of things. I’ve been hassled cramming it all in the last 24 hours the last few trips, so this time around I gave myself two days to do it all. And I finished ahead of time.
So this morning, I traded the plan to stay in with stepping out to spend a couple of hours at a cafe not far from home.
Reading some more while the rain kept pounding down, babbling toddlers running amok, strange hostile dogs eyeing my croissant and averting my eye from far too many people I know. It seems even in distant corners of Goa, driving to the edges of villages to find tucked away cafes for retreat, I’ll somehow find people I know from another lifetime in Goa. Three out of four occupied tables had people I know in some degree of familiarity and I’m wondering what all of this means to me in my last day here.
I’ve packed away my stuff, leaving behind the staples as I usually do, for my next trip here. But if my hunch is to be believed it’s not going to be for some time now, and when I come back it’ll probably be to pack and take the half of my life and heart that resides here, to complete this half-life existence I’ve been living away from here.
Life has a strange way of making sense in retrospect and from where I am, looking back, the last year or so has been such a ride. I feel lucky for this brush with the best of both worlds and a chance to settle so many unfinished memories and rest so much that was left unsaid and unaddressed in the time and the way that I left Goa in 2017.
Life really does give one second chances. It just takes a certain openness to seeing and taking them that can make all the difference, as I have experienced this past couple of years.
One year ago: Dont worry about, don’t speak of doubt