Bombay meri jaan

So. Bombay. It was surreal, fascinating, exciting, new. And a little saddening all at once. Yes, there was the work. Some exploration of the city, for possible future ventures there. Some one-on-one sessions, some powerful tarot sessions that moved me, and hopefully moved clients too.

And a visit to a restaurant I have been tracking and wanting to visit ever since it opened, almost four years ago (I think?). And there was vada pav.

And there was hanging with my cousin in a way that I haven’t ever had before.

And there was the happy coincidence of catching the memorial days of my great-grandfather as well as grandfather’s death, which takes on a whole other significance when you’re in the business of doing work around families and family dynamics.

It was fun. And it brought up a host of feelings from a host of different experiences. I’m still processing all that happened over the four days that I spent there. But it is hard to ignore, like with most other experiences lately, the fact that my way of seeing things has changed dramatically. It’s not sudden or new. It’s been a slow turnaround, but when I encounter certain experiences after a long time — such as being back in the company of my family in Bombay after so many years — the difference is accentuated.

For the first entire day there I kept wondering what’s different, what’s changed. Until I realised nothing much has in that world. Things are as well as they can be. And they’re largely the same as they have always been. It’s my eyes, my ways of seeing, my perceptions, my radar and intuition, that has changed.

The sense of a change was once again, not without that tinge of sadness. Sadness for the very distinct feeling of having left something very fundamental about how I used to relate and be a part of this family behind. As much as there is joy and liberation in working through old patterns, healing old trauma and moving on, there is always (repeated) grief about letting it all go. And being around my family, spending time in my grand parents home, reliving old times, brought it all up for me.

Internally, I felt very distant. Like I am in a faraway land, looking at that world from a distance. Intellectually, emotionally too, and in terms of where my life is headed, it just seems such a different world from the one I had stepped into there. It was oddly freeing, because I experienced so clearly some of the old bondages no longer holding me down. But it was also disorienting because I saw so clearly what had changed. And that process is never without a hint of guilt and shame, for somehow “caring less”. Once again, I had a visceral experience of this duality. And how the two poles most certainly can co-exist.

One year ago: Weekend highs and lows
Two years ago: May your feet always be swift
Four years ago: Blush

Maximum city

Back in my grandparents home after close to five years. This city, and this home, always fascinates me. Everything always feels so large, loud and in your face here. The rules of engagement always so different from everything I am familiar with. It is just the right amount of unease and asks for some stretch while also kindling a really old part of my brain that has memories of so many fun holidays and trips made here.

Human memory is such a fascinating thing, a muscle almost.

One year ago: Mini thoughts make incremental change
Two years ago: January
Four years ago: On creative happiness

Coke love

Something about flights and travel brings back Coke Studio to me in a big, big way. Every single time.

Did another massive on-repeat listen of my Season 12 favourites all the way to Bombay, thinking fondly of this warm evening we had at home in December. I actually physically hurt with a longing for how much I miss this music-filled, perpetual-food-coma, period in my life from the Goa years that was super-charged on a bonhomie I am yet to experience since then.

Listening tot he entire playlist made me super nostalgic, as usual. Enough to want to check ticket prices to Berlin for another reunion. Hahaha.

PS: Also, I’m running out of descriptive titles for this repetitive Coke-Studio-Love kind of post

One year ago: Glowing within, growing within 
Two years ago: What you seek is seeking you 
Three years ago: Busy times apparently

Ways of seeing

The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We’re know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet there knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.

— John Berger, Ways of Seeing

I’m really enjoying the newness of this ease in the not knowing, in seeing and noticing the relation between what is and what I know, and that which may never be “settled” in the way my mind might desire.

I don’t quite have the words for what has altered, but something has shifted within me yet again. Altering the way I am seeing things around me, just a wee bit again.

Ending the first week of the new year in yet another home away from home, in such deep levels of peace, has been everything.

One year ago: Boombox updates
Two years ago: Going by the book (and all that I read in 2017)
Four years ago: Love letters

To Mysore and

…back to the wild.

In four vignettes.

8 am at home.

11 am on the road.

1 pm at Mysore Railway Station.

4 pm en route back home.

Mandatory picture of parental unit, as seen in my adulthood, on a road trip rushing through just-planted paddy fields in that golden 4 o clock sunlight.

It’s a bit overwhelming, that I get to enjoy this peace and quiet, right here in my life without having to getaway or make space for it in anyway. I do have to physically get away to get here, but that suddenly my life is somehow fashioned so this is possible, and possible often kind of amazes me. Even now.

What a privilege and a blessing it is.

One year ago: Inhale. Exhale.
Two years ago: What is life
Four years ago: Reminders and notes to self.

Curtain call

 

New Year’s Eve has been something of a non event for years now. But this year we may have dropped even lower. And something tells me I could get used to the go-nowhere, do-nothing new year’s eve of this kind.

Snapshots from yesterday’s evening walk through the village, VC stopping for pictures and my father stopping to say hello to every single person we met.

We walked all along the river side for a good one hour, VC changing his mind and turning back halfway through.

Happy to be closing the year spending theseast few days (and the next few) in simpler ways and a slower pace.

We’ve had splendid sunsets for two days now. I hope today is spectacular too.

2020, I’m ready for you.

One year ago: December
Two years ago: Crossing over
Three years ago: December

Back to earth

This past year, I have felt drawn back to the earth in so many different ways. It has come up over and over in conversations, hidden desires, thoughts and dreams I’ve nourished privately and some that I’ve acted upon to bring into my life, in the events that have panned out and also the way in which I have strangely been on the move all year long.

Whether it’s the desire to finally really tangibly act on using less plastic, or the sudden life-altering need to grow a garden — I now see the source for both developments is the same. A need to find literal, real earth for my energies that were being directed into dropping new roots and finding new ground beneath my feet.

I realised today, happily, that this year I spent more than the average time I spend at the beach. Somehow, I listened and heeded the curiosity to see the hills for the first time in my life. And I’ve nurtured a year long desire to go back to the forests, harking back to the numerous family jungle safari trips we have made in my childhood. And right on cue, as with every other desire to earth myself, the means have opened up and happened. I’m ending the year amidst ancient trees, foggy, misty mornings and I’ve spotted two snakes, a baby crocodile and at least a dozen adorable pond turtles right in our backyard in my fathers home.

This year has given me a newfound respect for the planet, not just through these surprise desires but also through umpteen opportunity to pursue them.

I feel a deep reverence and a sense of being my own size when I’m out amidst nature. I think that is what essentially grounds me.

One year ago: Expand your mind, take a look behind
Three years ago: All the books I read this year

Friendship fires

 

Two nights of feeding a fire to keep it going long enough for us to stay snug and warm, talking intimately and candidly huddled around it, listening to the best music is what it took to end a year of massive friendship lessons on a positive and love-filled note.

There was warmth in the silences. Life in the conversation. Fuel in the feelings shared. I am mildly changed by the three days I have spent away in the company of VC and S.

Something fundamental has shifted as far as my perspectives on adult friendships go. And after months of not knowing what, this trip away illuminated that something for me.

I’m just sitting in the afterglow of it.

I’ll say this again. I’m grateful for those who left, almost as much as I am grateful for those who remained.

One year ago: Lay down all your thoughts
Two years ago: Morning song

Simple

Hike in the A.M.

Look closely, touch and feel the little details.

Hike in the P.M.

Breathe in the soft light.

Rinse, repeat.

Few things more grounding and levelling than being surrounded by nature. Waking up to sunlight breaking to birdsong, walking about the trails dotted with all things bright and beautiful all creatures great and small, napping amidst the ruccous of cicadas, waking up to walkabout the softly setting sunlight that winds all things down within.

Happy to be on this break with VC and S. That’s yet another city and state that we managed to catch up in, another set of memories. Same old fun. Rinse, repeat.

One year ago: Let the water lead us home
Three years ago: Home is where the yellow roses are

Away and around

Ever so grateful for the vast expanses of this country that offer sights, smells and sounds so removed from what one gets used to, day in and out.

Three years ago: Cutting the fat

Into the wide open

We left a blisteringly hot and sunshiney Goa yesterday, and have entered overcast, grey sky weather in Karnataka today. It stormed all night with scary thunder and lightning. But it means a more comfortable drive today. For VC more than me, who is happier riding when the sun is playing hide and seek.

Today, I’m grateful for the way in which VC and I can see eye to eye and make good travel buddies. It makes even tedious journeys like this one a touch more fun.

One year ago: While the world plays for our pleasure
Three years ago: Midweek blues

Drive

Our car will be ten in the new year. And while she’s begun to look her age, thanks to nine years and nine monsoons in Goa, she still runs like a very young girl off to chase a dream at the slightest opportunity.

Many little niggling things have been acting up. The AC has been on its last legs for about a year now. The headlamps were horribly foggy until I scrubbed them with baking soda yesterday. The speakers have been in various stages of disconnection for a long while now but kat year the music system itself came unhinged and stopped working. All it’s good for is charging a phone. So this drive hasn’t been easy. The heat is a lot more intense than I expected, the air is dry as hell. There’s no music to be had so I’m using a portable speaker because I’m all alone (with two suitcases riding shotgun in the front seat) and I could do with some entertainment.

Also, this blasted curse of development just won’t let things be. Forget setting dysfunctional things right, they’re hell bent on fixing things that ain’t broke. So the perfectly decent highway between Goa and Bangalore that made for a comfortable 10 hour journey just one year ago has shot up to a painful 14 hours. The road is pretty flawless, silky smooth, but the endless diversions every few hundred metres has made it painful. Getting on and off the rough service roads, throwing up clouds of dust and dry air as we bump down terrible stretched of dangerous half-built roads, means one can’t even enjoy and maximize the good bits for what they’re worth.

As such, we as a country deserve nothing good. No amount of “development” will ever be good enough and worth it because you can’t get on a “world-class” highway long enough before a tractor lazily ambles across without warning, or a two wheeler shoots at you on the wrong side of the wrong side of the road just to avoid going the long route to make a U-turn. We’re the pits.

So it hasn’t been a fun drive. And yet, I’ve enjoyed driving. If that makes any sense at all. Because my car, my gosh, she is still so fine. And perhaps the only advantage of having a choc full car loaded up to the brim is that the weight in the tail of the car means I can take all the bumps easily. I accelerate and the car complies, no fear of people or things flying around in the back of the car. There’s grip and grounding.

Anyhow, leg one of this arduous journey is done.

***

Today and glad and super grateful for my parents who absolutely insisted (not that I needed any coaxing and convincing at all, but still) I learn to drive as soon as I turned 18. It has made making movement in my life so much more significant.

One year ago: What do you need to make your wild heart beat?
Three years ago: Holiday mornings

Like hitting reset

It’s really been a satisfying week away (VC puts it aptly here): quiet, contained, overwhelmed by the nature I’ve seen (this was my first time in the hills in the north), peaceful, unhurried, easy, slow. All the many cups of great adrak chai (tea in the south of India isn’t a patch on the north!), the many, many meals of paranthas, the forest walks, the babbling river, the astonishingly good apples fresh off the trees, being constantly watched by the mountains, the smiling faces and pink cheeks. And yet, there’s so many little, little things that have happened that remain with me and that I am slowly processing. Some experiences, some moments, an epiphany or two, some special moments (like being given gifts by hosts of both our airbnbs), some coincidences, some conversations, the two books I read, driving for a majority of our return journey witnessing the changing light and landscape.

I feel so full. And I’m ready.

The hills have been unexpectedly special and I would be lying if I said these seemingly empty and slow few days haven’t touched me in a deep way. I feel somewhat changed from this past week alone. Maybe I will get down to talking about why and how in the days to come.

I feel a new lightness and freedom as I go into a penultimate session of class for this year, with an all new level of unpreparedness. Letting go of something old, another layer of control and perfection, and testing something new out for myself. It has been freeing so far, and the fear I anticipated would kick in, hasn’t as yet. As serendipity would have it, I will be the first to present tomorrow, in just twelve hours after returning from holiday where I’ve been deliberately cut off from all forms of prep. In a way it means I can finish on my own terms, before I even allow anyone elses presentation to affect me with standards that aren’t mine, but it also means I have little time to warm up.

I’ve hit reset, I think.

I’m going headlong into this. Blind like I should. Open like a child. Small like a fresh bud. With no desire to perform or outcomes to live up to. And it is an absolute first for me.

***

Grateful for access to therapy today. For N, for how safe and accessible she has made this journey. For how therapy is down the road and a short walk away from me. For the ability to have a session over skype. For the gentle and judgement-free space that it has been.

There are some days, when I look back, wayyyyy back, and I realise how far I’ve come. So far, I almost feel like a different person. Today is one such day and I realise I couldn’t have done it without therapy and learning.

Three years ago: New eyes

Where love and wonder meet

Grateful for the (travel)partner I have in VC. As interested in the world as I am, but in a wholly different way, with a very different outlook and eye with which he sees things. Eager but rooted, curious and childlike, he is the steady to my floaty and the sense to my whimsy.

It’s only in recent times that I’ve discovered the need and place for both and the deeper need to find a balance. And I’m only just learning to make space for the two to coexist.

In VC, and in being and journeying with VC I have learned where (and how) love and wonder can meet. I have learned of the spaces between us, the give and take, the push and pull. And how love ebbs and flows inbetween, not in the evenness and the plateaus. This is a feeling I have sensed and known for many years now but have resisted, holding on tightly to my very limited knowledge and sense of self that sought comfort in sameness.

It’s only now, as I have loosened my grip on myself, and I’m learning to live a little, am I able to see the unbound joys of flowing where life and love take me. And I’ve only just found the words to articulate this old, old feeling that has always bubbled just beneath the surface, guiding me on silently, even when I wasn’t ready to pay it any heed.

Three year ago: Silver linings

Mornings

The new season of Coke Studio is here and I’ve watched the first (and the only) BTS video they’ve released half a dozen times already. It has Atif Aslam speaking some super refined Urdu (that makes me weak in the knees and gives me major heart-eyes) about knowing and feeling grace in the ways in which it shows up in nature.

The immensity of the universe and the ways in which the magic is seen, unseen, known and unknown, including all that we can understand and have a knowing about, and all that is beyond our limited comprehension, all that is tangible and everything beyond that is nebulous and intangible. Sometimes just thinking about this immensity is overwhelmingly joyful, almost intoxicating.

Mornings here in Manali have had me really feeling that.

As I heard him speak, I immediately felt a resonance with that inexplicable sense of quiet awe and contentment that I’ve been sitting with every morning as I draw the curtains open to undisturbed views of these mountains towering over us, kissed by the rising Sun.

I’ve been sunbathing hard for the short window that I can. Sitting in the balcony khaoing as much dhoop as possible because the sunlight in the mountains is different. It’s bright and harsh but so gentle on the feel. But most of all it’s been invoking that sense of awe and smallness in me. There is a constant distant hum of the Beas rushing by endlessly, punctuated by the occasional thud of an apple falling from a tree in the orchard. The birds singing, the doggie on property frolicking chasing fruit flies, a low rumble of traffic whizzing by, someone doing their laundry on a nearby washing stone, the smell of morning tea brewing, a smoky fire kindled in the vicinity.

It’s been peaceful.

It’s felt like grace. And sometimes, especially in the morning light, divinity.

***

One year ago: They’ll be making sure you stay amused
Three years ago: When the going is crazy