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

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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.

***

Gratitude today for all the people we’ve stayed with on this trip. The shy, quiet but very respectful and hospitable hosts we’ve had. And for the warmth and generosity we’ve encountered everywhere.

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

Meditate

Been devouring Devotions and I can’t help but think this was the right time and the perfect place to lose myself to the full force of Mary Oliver like it engulfs you in this book.

On Meditating, Sort Of

Some days I fall asleep, or land in that
even better place — half asleep — where the world,
spring, summer, autumn, winter —
flies through my mind in its
hardy ascent and its uncompromising descent.

So I just lie like that, while distance and time
reveal their true attitudes: they never
heard of me, and never will, or ever need to.

Of course I wake up finally
thinking, how wonderful to be who I am,
made out of earth and water,
my own thoughts, my own fingerprints —
all that glorious, temporary stuff.

The more I learn about mindfulness through my own experience, the more I want to discard everything that it’s become in its modern Internet-ivised form and the less I want to rely on anything at all that I’ve read about it online.

The more I experience this zeroing in to the present, no matter where I am and what I’m doing, the more I value my own keenness to discover and deepen it for myself, in my own way.

Mary Oliver has a gentle, unaffected way of putting the loftiest ideas in words so simple, the melt into your skin and slip through the pores reaching that spot only you have ever gone to before.

***

Yesterday while VC climbed over rocks and streams to get to a vantage point to take his evening picture, I found a rock for myself. And then I just sat and stared at the river for nearly a whole hour. It was easy to just do nothing, watch a bulbul dip in and out of the icy water, listening to the continuous roar of the water as it gushed over the rocks stopping for nothing, and watching the glistening surface of the water change as the sunlight changed. But it was also really hard to resist pulling my phone out to snap pictures to instantly share with my family and some friends. It’s just so easy to slip out of the moment like that. And it took some effort and deliberation to come back. And just breathe.

Gratitude for words, silence, breath and presence today.

One year ago: September
Two years ago: Things change
Three years ago: Shifting gears

Cold but happy

It’s the strangest thing, but I — with absolutely no threshold to bear cold weather — have been more than okay on this trip. My pitiable capacity to brave cold weather has kept me from going anywhere in the North of India. For ten years we’ve nursed plans to go to Ladakh but I literally chicken out every time they materialise.

I don’t know what actually pushed me to do this. But obviously something has changed. BecauseI’m usually the one with absolutely no threshold. Even with multiple layers on it takes some braving on my part to get out in a cold place and see the sights and enjoy myself. The experiences I’ve had so far, as amazing in their own way as they have been, have always been tinged with some level of misery from the cold. This time around, I came well prepared with the right clothes. Lots of options and layers and many manners of warmies have been involved in keeping me comfortable. And yet, I don’t think it’s just that.

Within me, I feel an easing up and a settling in that’s making a difference. I feel this has a lot to do with my state of mind, and this utterly new place I am in where everything is easy and nothing feels like a burden.

Especially on holiday, I’m finding space to take in everything slowly, to be present and to be in the here and now in its fullest. Even if that means braving a 7-degree morning. I don’t know if it makes sense but I think this is about an inner alignment of some sort. Maybe I’m wildly wrong in making this direct connection but in a long, slightly convoluted way, I’ve been noticing how much more at ease I have been on this holiday, than most others. All the usual suspects like the bitter cold (with crazy winds and rain to boot yesterday), unplanned lazy days, last minute cancellations of our agenda, sleeping in beyond sunset have not phased me the way they usually do.

Driving up here was a long and arduous trek in a new, unfamiliar car. We left Chandigarh at 4.30 am on day 1 of my period. I was also fasting as per usual. I was uncomfortable, yes. But nothing life-changing. It was the strangest sense of ease. There were no loos for miles and the lone toilet stop we made had me holding my breath and gagging by the time I was done. There were some roadblocks and the journey that was originally expected to take 8.5 hours took nearly 12. But we made it. And I was largely alright. This is not who I used to be.

In another strange reversal of roles, VC is the one struggling a bit in the cold. Despite his thermals and three layers over, he’s visibly uncomfortable. Whereas I’m in two layers and actually, enjoying the chill, I’m almost afraid to admit.

We were thinking back to Brugge one year ago and how we arrived on a rainy, bitterly cold morning, stranded on a bus terminus with nowhere to go. I was distraught to say the least and I couldn’t wait to get indoors.

This trip, just one year on has been drastically different. I feel easy going and a bit unstoppable, like little can get in my way. I think I might just be ready for that Ladakh trip after all.

***

Gratitude today for my body, it’s resilience and adaptability. And how much of that’s stretch it just takes on and manages without my knowing.

One year ago: Wandering through life will love come home to you
Three years ago: Escape

Come rain or shine

In an interesting role reversal, VC has been pottering about busily since we arrived while I have mostly been lying flat in bed under the blankets that are as thick as mini mattresses, reading.

VC had three alarms on last night. One for 12.30 am to check if the skies were clear enough to shoot the stars. Another at 5 am to check the light. And finally at 6 am when he woke up to actually shoot. Since then he has been in and out of our room, doing this and that, connecting cameras, switching lenses, setting up tripods and shooting, then back in again to transfer pictures, drink some chai, then out again to shoot some more, back again to eat breakfast. And I’ve just been horizontal and unperturbed, observing his restless excited energy.

It used to be quite the opposite. When we’d visit a new place I’d be the one wanting to get out and about, exploring, eating out and walking around while he’d want to lie around lazily.

I am enjoying the turn of events.

This is the view from my bed. Why would I want to leave?

We’ve woken up to rain this morning, which also means we’ll have to slightly improvise and things may not go to the plan we had. I’m strangely okay with that.

To be surrounded by silver tipped, shiny edged snow sprinkled peaks that stand so tall is as humbling and perspective altering as walking into the great wide ocean. While I’ve done that easily a thousand times before, this is the first time I’m within what feels like touching reach of snow capped peaks of this size and stature.

Since I arrived here last evening I’ve been feeling the age of these ranges around me. There is something extremely old, a sense of wisdom and so many things known that I have been feeling like I am sinking into.

***

I’m grateful for the sun today. For the light, the warmth and for the capacity to fuel life itself. I don’t stop to think about this everyday but since coming here it hit me just what a force the sun actually is and how much it matters.

One year ago: Try to remember the good times
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: revisiting old haunts II

Out and about

I had this teacher in highschool who I could never decide if I liked or not. She taught me history, which I enjoyed, but she was also mighty old-school British in her ways. Telling us to sit with our legs crossed and to be polite and demure.

She constantly chided me about having my head in the clouds, asking me to come back to Earth and pay attention. What she means was stop daydreaming, stop being imaginative, stop thinking for yourself. I know she had an impact on me back then.

Anyhow, all this to say, seeing this sight soon after the sun rose, after driving around in the dark for two hours, felt like I’d woken up with my head in the clouds.

En route Chandigarh to Manali, we’re driving ourselves through valleys flanked by blue mountains and emerald rivers gushing by. This is my first time in the hills. I’m excited.

***

Grateful that despite it all, this is a country that’s safe enough and allows me the freedom to get around and explore.

One year ago: It’s dark and I think that I would give anything for you to shine down on me

On ordinariness

S posts a spontaneously clicked picture of us on her Instagram yesterday and the strangest thing happened. A couple of people I used to know from Instagram days, people who stopped engaging with me for no apparent reason one fine day, reached out to her in response.

It’s nice to see Revati, they said.

*insert Revati’s confused face*

I’d dismiss it as pointless pleasantries. But it gets curiouser. S being polite S informs them that I’m doing good. And pat comes the reply, Good to know.

Eh?

Why? How? What good could it possibly be for people who didn’t want to know how I was when we could have been in touch, to know I’m good? This, from someone who blatantly ghosted me when I reached out to them upon moving to Bangalore. All because I pulled a story they sat on for months without explanation, to run it with another more willing publication.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. It tends to happen when VC puts up the occasional picture of me too. Random people — who either ghosted me like above,  or people who were never too warm to begin with, or people I was useful for back in the day — I am absolutely no longer in touch with extend extra warm, over familiar pleasantries.

I’ve always brushed it off as what people like to do online. Show each other just how much they know each other. It’s the oddest thing and I do think it’s peaked.

Does it have to do with social media visibility alone, I wonder? I mean I’m not even around there, so there can’t be too much currency in knowing me anymore. But I can’t be sure. More disconcerting though, is the extreme curiosity about why I got offline. And the conviction that it must have been compelled by something terrible. A life crisis, some colossal fuck up, something to hide from the world since everything is online and documented now.

***

So yesterday I wondered if the pleasantries and the Good to know I’m doing alright is probably a response to the default understanding that something terrible must have happened for me to get offline.

I don’t know when we get to this point where getting offline has come to signal something catastrophic.

This is just a single example of S posting a picture online. I cannot count the number of times I have either bumped into someone I used to know online, or I’ve heard from someone tangentially inquiring if everything is alright with me since I am no longer on social media.

All this conjecture might have made some tiny bit of sense if I were someone of importance or consequence. I’m not, because most people didn’t realised when I disappeared off social media until much long after. And why should anyone care, I always wondered. There was no explicit, single, large reason that compelled my departure. It was many things I really couldn’t explain. I also always assume I am completely inconsequential and ordinary being just like a million other people out there, so nobody would really notice, or wonder.

But, clearly I am mistaken?

Yesterday I got to thinking what must they think could have happened in the time I’ve been away? And then I realised this curiosity has absolutely nothing to do with what I think is my ordinary existence, or any of my measures of ordinariness. It’s the sheer idea that I am offline that’s extraordinary.

Which is meta level amusing and interesting for me, because offline, it has become my sole purpose and business to try and be ordinary. To just be good enough, even if I fail most of the time. To be alright on my own. TO do nothing exemplary. And whatever it is I choose to do or not do, to be okay bumbling on on my own, without showing it off or needing a universe of voyeurs to tell me how good I am. That I’m quite alright. Or great even. To the point where everything basic, every little mundane accomplishment warps and begins to seem unnecessarily larger than life and extraordinary.

Yesterday, thinking about the irony of how social media was the basis of so many of the connections I held and kept some years ago, I felt a pang of sadness about this person who clearly doesn’t want to have anything to do with me in real life, but felt the need to feign familiarity with me anyway. It’s a level of fake I have worked hard to slowly peel away from my life.

As usual, and once again, I received affirmation that something I did two years ago was only laying the path for where I am at now, and important work I am only getting to the crux of now. I didn’t know it then, but getting off social media two years ago was only laying the foundation for learning to be imperfect and all kinds of ordinary. Of allowing myself to be alright, even on my own. And two years on, I feel like I am only just getting started.

***

Writing this from my hotel room in Chandigarh where we arrived early this evening. We’re driving out to the hills early tomorrow morning, so I should finish posting this and turn in.

I am grateful for travel, for the expansive length and breadth of this country that is anything but ordinary, and that I have barely scratched the surface of. And for the ability to take off, pick up and go, largely unencumbered.

Two years ago: A good life is a life of goodness
Three years ago: A picture

Wander

It’s been many, many days of the good homebound life. Lots of home-based things, so much so that even the odd urge to go out midday hasn’t seen itself to fruition. In a week, it’ll be a month of this. I am quite loving it. Falling into a good routine of exercise, cooking, and going the extra mile in the kitchen on many days, nesting and resting, basically, has been very timely and very good for me this past month.

You can tell things have been so slow, and so good, when you find the time to make slow-rise pesto rolls. Of two kinds.

But that’s about to change. Four days to see this face.

And eight days to go off on vacation. We haven’t taken one in a while now. Benaras feels like it was yonks ago. And since it was a quick getaway, not the kind of leisurely holiday we try and have at least a couple of times a year, I’m not even counting it as a “vacation”.

Our last one was exactly at this time last year, in Europe. I was reading through the entire set of posts from them a couple of nights ago and even though I had a longing for that time and place and the friendship and camaraderie, I realised that over the course of this year, I have frankly not felt the need for a holiday like this.

What with the umpteen trips to Goa which, even though like going back home, have been like multiple excellent holidays. They really satisfied what little itch to roam that I have had.

These two fools video called me completely by surprise last weekend, totally turning my otherwise mellow day around, making me so very happy. They reminded me of the plans we’d made last year, sitting around S’s dinette on our last day in Paris. Vague plans to meet again this summer, in a new country with some talk of me staying on in Paris for a month after. But when summer came, I didn’t move on those plans at all. For an assortment of logistical and practical reasons, but mostly because more than anything else , life has been so challenging and satisfying that I’ve been feeling so full. It has minimised the need for escape, the need for more discovery and excitement from it.

If anything, I have felt the need to stay a while, and contain it. Things have been so slow, and so good.

VC is probably the one that needed the holiday this year, but somehow between everything that was going on and just trying to keep it together — him at work, and me with life — the year has just passed us by.

But, this time last year after that whirlwind of a holiday in Europe, we embarked on a whirlwind of a time in October, which ended with VC moving cities and beginning a new life in November. Serendipitously, we’re going to be going through the same motions this year too. Going from vacation to a busy October — wrapping up his life in Goa and moving back to Bangalore — and beginning yet another chapter in November. Full circle and all that.

However, there is a decided and noticeable difference in my being and in the way I am feeling, with the prospect of another relocation (with zero planning so far) looming large. This slowness has changed my internal rhythm and pace to such a great degree. There seems to be little rush, and utmost confidence and peace in taking things slow and one day at a time.

If this is what slowing down to grow up is, I’ll take it, thankyouverymuch. And I’m pretty sure it’s going to trickle into how we wander and travel too. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

Three years ago: For every down, there is an up

The rain

Hi, from Goa, where I have arrived to not enough rain. But only just enough to inspire some Vada pav cravings as soon as I landed.

Right from the airport, I headed off to VCs office to catch up with him and head home together. Today was one of those ultra efficient days with everything operating ahead of time, from the moment I left home in Bangalore. So I got there much earlier than anticipated. In order to kl some time, I dragged my suitcase and two handbags down, two streets away, in the drizzle to Cafe Aram because the settings were just right.

The gentlest drizzle, a sniffle in my nose, a I peaceful journey, and lunch six hours ago. I ducked into the buzzing tea room. Fond memories of my last cuppa chai had there the day before welved from Goa wafting back to my mind.

The tables are snug, a little too snug for comfort. And of course one also sits where there’s place, sharing humble eating space with just about anybody. Often, this results in staring into other people’s plates as one waits for food to arrive, from no apparent reason except that, it’s there, so close.

Few things kindle nostalgia and fondness, a sense of home, as speedily as food. So as soon as my vada pav and chai had arrived and I took a bite of it, immediately I felt at home. Despite the fact that I looked visibly like an outsider. With just the way I look, and strolley in tow.

There is something about a tea room at 6 pm on the heart of Panjim. The vibe just brings you back to ground reality.

It was such a good way to begin. To come back home.

Outside, the rain began to fall harder and noisily.

One year ago: I choose to be happy
Two years ago: I need to sit with the quiet, I know that much

Three years ago: The rain, the rain

Warm

This time, in Wayanad, I had the privilege of meeting with so many people my father has befriended over the last two years that he has pretty much lived there. Through smatterings of Malayalam, conversing in animated gesticulations and a lot of telepathy, he has managed to make friends. It helps that the people of the village he lives in are just so warm, open and hospitable. Ive been hearing about this, about them, for months now, but nothing prepared me for just how warm they could be, until I saw it myself this past weekend.

In the way that my father was waving, stopping to say hello, exchanging nods of familiarity and warmth with just about everyone, wherever we roamed along the long stretch of road that the home sits on. In the way that so many of those people, when they realised my mother and I were visiting, absolutely jumped at suggesting the idea of having us over, many insisted, and a couple were successful in convincing us. What followed was an overwhelming hospitality that I have not seen in a while. Literal strangers with whom I can actually barely converse (We don’t speak the same language) but who have a strange affinity for my father, this man building an impossible/unbelievable looking home in their neighbourhood, opened their homes out to us, laid their dining tables out with the best home-cooked food and snacks and just had us, hook line and sinker.

So we met, ate and dined with, got taken on house tours of new and ancient houses alike, ate home-grown fruit, learned about ancient bonsai and home-grown plants, and even got sent home with doggie bags of giant home-grown papayas, bunches of bananas, and seriously the very best pazhampori I have eaten in a very, very long time.

So now you know what added to my heart-full feels. (Belly was very full too, teehee)

It got me thinking about how this warmth, this wearing my ones heart on ones sleeve, being un-fearful, outgoing and just so open to experience and connection can dramatically change the quality of an interaction. It has the capacity to cross barriers of language, culture, socio-economic strata and bring people together in a bond of pure love. It’s something we definitely lose in big cities, where the hustle to just get ahead, the insular nature of life, the pressure to make meaning and tangible value of all interactions takes away something very tender and soft about connecting with a human being for just that — connecting, alone. It also makes us fearful, competitive, cagey. And in the process we’re definitely poorer for it.

Some part of my mind was cracked open by this experience, this brush with strangers who felt nothing like it, this thought post interacting with them. And I hope it sinks deeper and cracks my heart open too.

One year ago: Take a minute, I’ve been sitting here, wondering
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: seeking solitude

Simple

To Wayanad and back home this evening. So, some more Wayanad things:

It rained, but not nearly as much as it should be, or as much as I’d have liked to have experienced.

My heart is full. And still.

The home is coming together beautifully. And my heart fills with: 1) joy to think of how painstakingly and lovingly and with how much grit and determination my father has worked tirelessly, uprooting his entire life in Bangalore, to make this happen. For him, and for us. 2) humility and overwhelming gratitude to think of the number of hands and brains of complete strangers, blood, sweat and tears that have gone into building this home.

Walking into the house for the first time on this trip, looking around, watching masons splashing on cement on a bare wall, I had a moment where I really, fully registered how a home, a building, no matter how big or small, is still a handmade thing. A piece of art. A building together and making a sheer figment of someone’s imagination come true. It kind of blew my mind to think of the scale at which, brick by brick, things come together. How today, three years on from when we went as a family to break the ground and begin work on this piece of land nobody thought could be useful for anything, there now stands this magnificent home. A home, I think is amongst, if not the best, my dad’s finest creative work.

It’s taken many hands, many heads, many weeks and months of tireless confluence of energies, lots of hiccups and pitfalls, but to finally see it in it’s near-finished form, made me very, very happy.

I’ve seen this piece of land so many times before, and we’ve obsessed over the view through all stages of the making of this home, again and again and again, we’ve imagined it, hyped it, dreamed of it, built it up in our heads — but this was the first time it took my breath away like it did. Maybe it was because it’s the first time I was in a room, surrounded by walls, a super high ceiling, with this view in front of me created a different sense of space — of belonging — that it hit me the way it did.

We stayed on site on site, this time around in the parts of the home that are complete. It was such a thrill to be totally out of network coverage, so I mostly forgot about my phone. Pitch black darkness and just the sound of crickets after sundown makes for a kind of desolate and off-the-grid like I don’t witness otherwise. Simple, home-cooked meals eaten so early we were all in bed by 8.30 pm on all nights, in utter silence and total darkness all around, was topped by waking up to the rain-dappled morning sunlight. Forest sounds, birdsong, watching turtles frolicking in a pond — it’s a bit surreal to think this is what morning is like in a corner of the peninsula not too far from home.

The kindle did its thing and I finished two books in two days. That’s what happens when the day expands, time stands still and the world is forgotten. It’s nice to think I now have access to a spot thats not a “holiday” spot and experience this degree of remote now.

It was also nice to be with amma and anna, away and in peace, just us. This hasn’t happened in years, and to think this sort of unplanned trip gave me this opportunity to just be, unconsciously cocooned, is heartwarming. I enjoyed it thoroughly, we shared a room, cooked and ate our meals together, drove all around the little village, listened to music and drove all the way back to Bangalore together today. Things were absurdly simple. And easy.

So yeah, my heart is full. And still.

One year ago: Nobody really likes us, except us
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: Bangalore sky-porn

Three years ago: Begin

Away

En route to Kerala for a bit, and I just realised I will be practically off the grid. YAYYY.

Happy for the opportunity to catch some good monsoon rain seeing as how Bangalore has disappointed sorely in this department. Except Bangalore is a promptly showing some promise of rain the next few days, starting today. Just as I’ve left town.

I’ve left my laptop behind and carried just my kindle in the hope that the reading habit may be…rekindled. Get it? Hahaha.

It’s not like I need a break seeing as how life itself has become a nice big holiday of late. Even so I’m glad for the break before I come back and head straight to class again.

See you on the other side.

One year ago: Soaked mornings
Three years ago: When autumn comes, it doesn’t ask