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.

One year ago: Silver linings

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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

Alone time

I’m learning what it means to take time. To make time for myself. These are things I’ve been slowly easing into. And I’ve watched my comfort levels with doing this go up and down, observing where I am comfortable doing it and when I am not. It’s all so telling.

Beyond the obvious lessons in putting myself first and boundaries, I’m suddenly seeing how this goes right back to a deeper process of individuation and growing closer to the needs of an inner self that doesn’t always have a loud, expressive voice to say what she wants.

This is the first time that despite having VC visiting, a rather full weekend and the usualy overriding temptation to abandon everything and be with him, I got out willingly, easily, and made it to the workshop I’d signed up for weeks ago. Instead of rushing home, I went over to Koshy’s and had lunch by myself, after.

I’ve been doing this solo thing for literally years now. Long before solitude and activities for one were cool hashtaggable millennial concepts, I’d watched movies and had meals alone in Bangalore and really enjoyed it, when I was merely 22-23 years old. In Goa, being self-employed and largely deprived of my kind of friends, doing things by myself really became a way of life without much thought or choice even. But this feels different. Of a deliberate choosing, not coming from rebellion, minus any guilt, not as a fall out of some rejection or another. But from a place of a deep and simple need that has shown up, asking to be seen.

The gifts of solitude, whether in an indulgent, luxurious getaway of some kind or simply enjoyed eating rasam-rice out if a bowl in bed — you do you and choose what you will — are seriously underrated. And somewhat lost, and just diluted in what has become the predominant narrative around self-care these days. It isn’t about buying stuff and experiences and consuming more to feed the capitalist machine that’s profiting from our angst and collective efforts to discover ourselves.

Ultimately it isn’t about the meals and drinks consumed alone, or the spa dates or tubs of ice cream. Even as I started there, unknowingly, it has only now become about feeling enough in my own company. Of feeling safe, held and sufficient. Of feeling steady, still and solid in and of myself.

As someone who lamented the lure of loneliness that always lurks in my life, this feels different. This feels new.

On my way to Koshy’s, zipping through traffic on MG Road, thinking these thoughts, I was gobsmacked my a bright blue butterfly that flew right through the auto I was riding! In through one side, fluttered around attacking my face, and out through the other, all while we were scramming through moving traffic in the middle of the city!

If that isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is. This feels like all new growth. And this too is new.

***

Happy and grateful to be in a good streak, physically. Waking up early, feeling energetic, feeling the urge to use my body for more than just getting around, challenging and stretching myself outside the limits I am comfortable with. I said to D this morning, that something has clicked into place for me as far as understanding exercise and what it does for my body goes. And he put it perfectly by saying maybe I have pivoted. Haha.

I think it’s true, though. And it’s what I am grateful for that shift in understanding, because this time around it seems to have come from deep within. Not motivated by only fitness performance alone, or only aesthetics alone. There has been minimal deprivation, plenty nourishment in a mind-body kind of way.

This time around it feels like the outcome of a deeper connection with myself. I’m grateful for this.

Three years ago: Too many words, so here’s a copy out

All heart

23 kilometres run this week.

An important, excellent therapy session.

A morning dipping my toes into authentic movement and expressive arts to explore what’s held in the body.

Ten hours of extremely satisfying practice and study with S and V.

A day spent with S.

VC is home.

An afternoon at Koshy’s by myself, writing letters.

It’s left me feeling fresh and pulpy perfect as a greener than green slice of avocado. Light as a balloon ready to set off floating aimlessly into the clueless sky. Open like a just bloomed sunflower chasing the sun obediently.

Happy, like me.

***

Happy and so grateful for the metro today. I know I’ve said this a lot lately, and S joked saying I should be the poster child for the Bangalore Metro, but it has been a truly life-changing shift for me. To go from thoughtlessly jumping into a cab, to now always making sure I have fifteen minutes extra to make it to the Metro, more often than not, has altered a lot for me these past few months.

One year ago: It’s just another ordinary miracle
Three years ago: Sticky trash

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

It was all yellow

Even though VC made a trip to Bangalore to be with me on our anniversary, it was the most mundane, regular day we could have had.

My favourite kind of day, really. The kind I am sorely missing having more of with him, and the kind I am desperately looking forward to having more of when he returns for good.

There were yellow flowers. Of course. (Like so, and so, and so, and so.) We began the day super early, for a Sunday, at Cubbon Park. D and I, for the customary walk, and VC roaming around with his camera and pocket tripod, taking pictures. This was followed by breakfast at Airlines, post which we got back home and back into bed. to stay there for the rest of the day. I’m not even kidding, slightly.

We lazed around, chatting, watching Netflix, doing our own thing, I may have even doxed off a couple of times. We only got out of bed to fix ourselves some lunch, and eventually only at 7 pm, when we couldn’t push showering and leaving the house any later. We had dinner reservations at a hip new Chinese bar house in town that I have been dying to try. I couldn’t decide if lure was Chinese food or the cocktail menu. Maybe it was both.

Yellow seemed to be the colour of the day, really. And it gave me a lot of joy to wear a newly made blouse, in a really old saree of amma’s to dinner.

Dinner itself was a strange 50-50 combination of amazing and underwhelming. The cocktails we had were outstanding (I had a plum G&T which was OMG), one appetiser and the noodles we got were exceptionally good, but two things — one main and the dessert — were strictly meh. We giggled about how that was even possible. But I want to go back for a second shot, to assess things better. And have some more cocktails. They were to die for.

Aside from stepping out with VC and having more beer than I normally do on any given week, the rest of last week — Tuesday onwards — went by in a blur of mostly trying to fight the bug and only succeeding in keeping it beneath the surface till it fully took over on Thursday. So I cancelled the rest of the week fully, in favour of staying in bed.

On Sunday morning, I took myself out to a talk on What next for Kashmir. I feel a greater sense of keenness in understanding my world and what is shaping it, a desire to listen to more narratives than the mostly unidimensional ones of my very privileged world, and a greater responsibility in how I engage with my world. It was a tremendous talk that has stayed with me and left me with thoughts circling my brain even today.

Since I was feeling almost 80% better, and since the talk was all the way in town, I carried a book along with a plan to take myself out for a solo lunch somewhere, while I read. I had no plan or specific place in mind. But I bumped into S at the talk and was so happy to spontaneously have company over lunch. As usual we ate well, a shrimp roll for me and a pulled pork sandwich for her, as usual we yakked nine to the dozen, and as always I came home charged, energised and inspired.

There’s something about getting out to play, at play in my life. Slowly the pieces are coming together and things I have been making meek, small attempts at for months finally seem to be finding some direction and purpose.

I feel a greater sense of allowance, for and of myself. Quite unknowingly, I am giving myself permission to do things, to move in certain ways, to make choices, to present myself in a certain way, to allow space for expansion, in ways that I hesitated to, or didn’t think I was worth, or believed I wasn’t ready for, or waited for “good reason” for until now. Whether by way of indulging in a good meal, several mid-week beer, an extra kilometre on the treadmill, that new book spontaneously bought, a tailored dress, or whether it is to listen to my body when it’s asking for rest, spending three full days in bed if necessary without fretting, doing nothing for no apparent reason, pursuing the smallest things simply because I feel like. This is very new for me.

I genuinely feel my life blossoming because of it. This past weekend I realised this in full measure. My body hasn’t taken ill in this way in over a year, but in giving it rest as soon as it needed it and not resenting the illness like it was something to fix, I watched how I bounced back miraculously, and in record time. There is without a doubt a certain fullness I am feeling in my life, a genuine expansion and a blooming in full measure. There is so much to live and give and my cup, it runneth over. Over and over again.

One year ago: One breath leads to another
Two years ago: Grow
Three years ago: Empty

Stay and stay a while

It’s VC departure day and I’ve been exceptionally gloomy about it this time around. It’s a combination of PMS, I think, plus really being at the end of my tether with the in-between life, and really wanting to get a move on. It’s compounded by the fact that my mother left two nights ago, and with VC gone today, my sister and father leaving on the weekend too, I’m feeling preemptively morose.

You have so many people to hang out with! said VC when I complained to him last night.

And yes, while that’s indeed true, it’s just…not the same, you know?

It’s one thing finding company, no matter how enthralling, but quite another thing entirely sharing my very life and spaces with people I love. Which is the kind of intimacy I was ruing.

***

We drove out this morning, my dad, VC and I, ostensibly to catch a quick brunch before VC headed off to the airport. But driving out turned into driving all the way to the airport, and a quick brunch turned into leisurely beers (many for them, a single one for me) and a quick bite. I decided to test my throat (that is feeling much better) today with that beer, and I feel oddly better.

VC was thrilled to be headed back to his peace and quiet life, with the weekend just a day away, and the end of his notice period now in sight.

I’m happy to let him go, temporarily (especially because this is the first time in forever that I’m seeing VC cut back and really focus on the fun) but this gnawing feeling of wanting to be together again keeps tugging at me from within. I’m just sitting tight and biding time, knowing that it is in fact just a matter of time before the nature and quality of my life the past week becomes the new normal.

The most obvious antidote to these blues would have been to hop on the same flight with VC and go to Goa, seeing as how I have no commitments for another week at least. But I’m just not feeling drawn to being there somehow. There’s just so much momentum that’s drummed up with things here, with the simultaneous internal slowing down, and the surprising new ability to just lie in waiting for things to unfold as they should, without efforting any of it.

I feel like the call is to wait, not rush off.

Here, now, is where it’s at and I’m staying grounded to that hunch.

Meanwhile, it’s life in passing. Slow motion. Daily, normal, mundane and joyful to tide over the intense missings.

One year ago: I want the truth to be said
Two years ago: Finding life again

Three years ago: Lines and dreams

Monday funday

VCs been home since Friday and he was to leave today. But happily enough, a fortuitous work plan emerged that had him extend his stay by three days. At this point it really feels like the universe is pushing to really make this home base again.

Anyhow, extra time is always a good thing. So we took off to catch up on some errands and snuck in a lunch out about town together too.

I could get used to Mondays that begin like this.

One year ago: Every inch of sky’s got a star
Three years ago: Disjointed, incomplete thoughts

Eleven

There was a moment some time ago, in a conversation (with someone whose opinion I hold very close) about the wonders of living apart from one’s significant other, when I was asked if the need for space and distance meant that maybe I’d left my marriage in some manner during this past year of living apart.

The question really stumped me, hitting me like a misguided pellet right between my eyes.

The thing is, I have been generally so absorbed with discovering myself and been so involved in all my own personal pursuits, that the thought hadn’t occurred to me. The decision not to uproot my life here and follow VC to Goa last year had come very naturally. At a time when I had come to realise that this part of my journey was important for me, it was also increasingly clear I needed the space and solitude I could only get in a somewhat “unpartnered” state. So when the opportunity to live apart found its way to us, we’d both said yes.

So to be asked if maybe this had caused me to leave actually made me stop in my tracks. I had to really think hard if that was true. Even in some measure.

I pondered about whether there is such a thing as too much space. Whether growth in such separate (and immensely impactful) ways might have each of us blindly hurtling towards an inevitable future apart rather than together? I pondered the difference between growing together and growing apart and which of the two I have witnessed. Was it one over the other? If so, which one?

It’s hard to pick, honestly. Because it has been a little bit of both. At different times. The time apart has enforced in equal parts some essential separations as well as some important intimacy.

I thought about whether this steadfast individual focus on myself, with minimal obligations to my marriage had possibly triggered a solitary life that there’s no coming back from. It took me a few days of quiet discomfort and much silence to accept that a lot of all of this is true, in varying measures, at various points of time this past year. And yet, in some very fundamental way, it isn’t entirely true.

So much of getting to know myself has been about digging out a pure sense of self by peeling back the layers and making space for the authentic self that lies deep within. And it has been impossible to do this without looking at myself in the context of every one of my relationships. This has brought with it a fair bit of push and pull, changing dynamics, uncertainty, loss and disappointment. Many relationships haven’t weathered this turbulent time, and yet some others have. Many haven’t lasted the test of seeing the whole, true me as I am discovering myself and learning to step forward in a that new way.

Except, for VC. Who has consistently been the only one standing by me. When the fog has lifted after a particularly uncertain phase, when I’ve been slowly walking through the nebulous parts, and come forth in all my unsettled glory, I have always found him right there. Seeing me just as I am.

This past year, the journey to knowing my true self has been a lot about really seeing who I am, and allowing that version of myself to be seen too. I have only very recently realised that this is an impossible space to navigate unless one has a sense of safety, kindness and compassion. Both from within as well as from the most important relationships one holds.

And in that sense, I have time and time again come to realise that this is my safe space. More than enabling the physical reality of this life, my relationship with VC has held emotional space for me to journey on. To take chances, to flirt with uncertainty, to push boundaries, to make new ones. Even when things have been somewhat fluid and shaky ground, I have always felt confident that there’ll be a way for us to find togetherness. Despite everything that emerged for me and for him. All the changes that we have been pushed into, and pushed ourselves into, and all that it has demanded of our relationship.

I only realised recently that this is a sense of safety and of coming home.
Of acceptance, of peace.

Of having the unfettered support of someone sees me, with an open heart.

Of being seen with complete kindness and love.

Like feeling deep in my bones, this belief:

I see who you are today,⁣
I cannot wait to see who⁣
you become tomorrow.

And so today, eleven years since we got married, nearly thirteen years of knowing him, I feel a renewed sense of love and gratitude for what I have with VC.

Eleven years ago, on this day, we took a pretty naive leap of faith into the wide open uncertainty of a future together. From where I sit today, I feel a sense of tenderness and love for the young people we were. So in love, so happy, so confident at the prospect of a life together, without having even the slightest inkling about what life would bring or how it would mould us, separately and together. And what an exciting, challenging, fun ride it would be. Or if we would weather all the change that would come our way as a result of it.

It’s the kind of leap of faith only the very young can take, I think. Because all I really felt in that moment at that time, was blind faith and a deep gut feeling. Faith that whatever life would bring, it would be better to do it together.

And it’s exactly that same feeling I rediscovered this past year. The space to face anything, safe in the knowledge that whatever life brings, it will be better to do it together.

It’s what has allowed me the wings and the springboard to fly from cradle, knowing fully well that when I return, I will land right back into the lap of safety, peace and complete acceptance.

***

So at the ripe old age of eleven I’m going to make a sickly sweet public display of affection usually only characteristic of young love.

To appreciate all that my marriage has brought to my life this past year. I’m grateful that when the need for space arose, we were both able to see it and take a chance quite effortlessly. To have two homes, in two such varied places, offering me the best of both the coupled and uncoupled life to shuttle between, to find a new normal, is a privilege I am present to, and grateful for, every single day.

The ways in which it has shaped we have moved, grown and evolved individually, and how we have re-shaped ourselves as a unit, has been special.

Mostly I want to to appreciate the gentle, kind and loving man that VC is. He gives me much to aspire for in this regard, and I’m only now getting to a place where I can see him for who he is. As he is, without that desperate burning desire for more, for something different.

The way in which he sees me. The way in which I felt seen this past year.

It’s taken a long time, but this year, I want to remember that I have learnt this from him — the ability to be grateful for and to wholeheartedly love what I have, as it is, exactly as it is.

So to answer the question I began with; no, the choice to live apart hasn’t been a leaving of my marriage in any manner. It has been instead, a stepping stone to coming home again.

One year ago: It’s just the nearness of you (ten)
Two years ago: Nine
Three years ago: Eight

***

Past anniversaries: ten, nineeightsevensixfivefourthreetwoone.

Love actually

When you know, you just know. Ever so slowly, with just as much intensity creeping up on me as it did when I realised I needed to live on my own, I have realised that this time is done. Everything that it could have served at this point in my life, has been nearly done. And I am so ready to go back to living with VC. I am ready to share space and togetherness again.

I guess you could say the realisation crept up on me when I began to miss him more intensely than normal. It began about a month ago when I returned from Goa. The number of calls I make on any given day have outnumbered the number of calls he makes to me (and the fact that he had taken to calling me more than twice a day was in itself a pleasant shocker). But I think the real clincher that something fundamental had changed was when I started nesting again. It’s almost like the dead impulse to do anything remotely domestic has been kindled again, and I am homing. Like a bloody pigeon. Readying this home once again to the familiar, warm and life-filled place it was before VC moved.

For no apparent reason, I took down curtains to launder, cleaned out storage spaces and carried out a massive deep cleaning operation of my fridge and kitchen a few weeks ago. In the process, I realised how disconnected I have been from all things domestic around here. Partly because living on my own has required less involvement on the home front. Things have functioned on auto pilot, with just me taking care of me. Amma and I eat most of our meals together, prepared by her so my kitchen has been barely functional the last 3-4 months. Things have been proper and in shape, but with a perceivable lack of life. The sort of thing that fills homes as an outcome of when people being connected, bringing energy and breathing life into mere spaces. This takes active living, and since I was mostly just coming home to sleep for the greater part of the last many months, there’s been a growing sense of lifelessness about my home.

Suddenly something turned. I’m spending more and more time here, feeling homely and cosy. Imagining meals I want to cook, dreaming of all the places my plants will go when they’re transported from Goa. And there’s groceries in my kitchen, vegetables and curd and bread and eggs in my fridge. The curtains are clean, the cupboards slowly being made dust-free. A whole lot of old clothes and shoes have been discarded/donated. You know, mundanities.

I’ve even spent some mornings cooking elaborate meals that I felt inspired to make. I braved the daunting 6-hour recipe making ulavacharu out of half a kilo of horsegram because all this staying in, in this weather demands all things zesty and earthy in my plate. I also made half a kilo of popped makhanas to snack on. I mean healthy snack preps? Is there a bigger sign that I’m well and truly home?

The home is functioning again, basically. And then this morning, I emptied out VC’s cupboard that I had appropriated and spilled myself and my belongings over into last year when he moved to Goa. So I suppose, it’s official now. I’m done living alone.

The distance has been especially painful this week, since he left early Monday morning, and I am already counting days to our next trip already. The good thing is, I managed to convince him to make two trips to visit me here in Bangalore during this time I cannot leave the city. He was convinced, very easily. And he acted on proposed plans, very quickly.  Last weekend was one of those trips and it was a joyful, quiet, contained weekend for me.

Even with the excessive (by my new standards) being outdoors, it was a weekend spent just being. Whether out or at home (and we did consciously spend a fair bit of much-needed time by ourselves at home) it really brought home the fact that this is something we sorely missed doing in the initial months when we moved here from Goa, over two years ago.

I realise now, in retrospect, that 2017 Revati and the headspace she was in when we moved — initially out of desperation and then driven by a compulsion to make it work — swiftly slipped into get-it-done mode. This made me completely inward-looking and disconnected from all else. What parts of me remained were drawn and invested in being with my family. Which left VC to deal with his family as best as he could, or be alone. Even when we were together, I see now how disconnected we were. Emotionally, more than anything else.

I’ve been feeling those gaps closing in the past many months. But something about his trip here really hit home. There was a visible comfort in being here — in this city — that was missing in 2017. An ease and presence. A deliberate relaxation from not trying hard to make it work, and the consequent lack of guilt from sometimes failing at that. A comfort and acceptance of things, and just going with the flow.

This past weekend, we did things we haven’t done here in a long time. Chose to be home. Ate home cooked meals, making rotis and chopping onions together. Also ordered our favourite desserts to eat in bed while we Netflixed, separately. You know, life as it used to be. We also took ourselves out on a proper date — drinks at HRC followed by Kunal Kamra who made us laugh so hard our faces hurt and we came home buzzed and unable to sleep.

I got a special kick in showing VC all the things I newly love about the city. We walked a lot, took the metro into town on the night of Kunal’s show, walking some more to get places. It felt like I was taking a tourist about town and we giggled at the idea. We hit some of our favourite spots in the city, and I realised this is such a pleasant change — VC willing to get out and about and do things in the city. We spent time talking about what the next few months hold for us — me urging him to take things slow, for a change, and him egging me on to push myself, for a change. And I couldn’t help but think, how far we’ve come.

I’d be lying if I downplayed the fact that I am severely excited about VC’s return. In some odd ways it feels like we’ve hit reboot on our relationship. Without knowing it needed work, it somehow got worked on. And the results are only visible now in the palpable freshness that’s in place of the comfortable staidness that I suppose kicks in after you’ve been married for ten years. As I count down the days to living together again, I feel excited like I used to be 12 years ago when we’d plan to hang out and I’d count down the hours to when we’d meet, and he’d show up with the childlike enthusiasm, but the kind of grown-up love he was never too afraid to show. I sense that old VC returning, and this feels like a homecoming in more ways than one.

When it’s time, it’s time. And when you know, you just know.

One year ago: I want to thank you for giving me the best days of my life

Slowly

Rainy Bangalore days abound. It’s been just the right amount of rain for my liking, restricted to early mornings and late nights. Which means it’s been enough to bring temperatures down for the most part, while not causing too much mayhem during the day. I’ve been out and about a fair bit. Walking is so easy when the weather is this good.

 

It’s just the best weather for chai, croissants, evening masala dosas, the odd bonda and the like. And this is the glorious window of Bangalore weather I remember loving from my years growing up here. I’ve written endless paeans in praise of the monsoon and all the associated moods — ranging from contemplative to moody to downright hungry and sometimes nostalgic and romantic — when Iw as growing up. This morning, I woke up to rain and almost didn’t make it to the gym because, well, BLANKET. But go I did, because someone’s got to work out all that monsoon-induced binging. It was just so beautiful outside — post morning shower when everything is fresh and wet, dull gold light, greens are greener, streets are empty and it gave me a burst of enthusiasm that getting out was a good idea. No matter that I spent literally the rest of the day, until 4 pm, back in bed doing some work, reading some.

It’s also been a high action four-day long weekend and with VC in town we were up and about even more than I normally am, so I cancelled today in favour to returning to my normal pace again. Given how slow things have gotten for me, the past four days have felt borderline frenetic and even though I desperately, achingly missed VC immediately after he left at 4 am today, I was happy for the day off to come back to normal again.

Things have been slow with me, and the four days of rushing about really put a spoke in my flow. So it’s nice to be listening in to this degree. It’s nice to have weather that fits. It’s nice to stay in, slowly.

One year ago: What good is it to live, with nothing left to give
Three years ago: Manifesting a dream

AWOL

Talk about distortion of time! I have gone about today assuming its Saturday, which is why I missed posting. I’m also preoccupied with a visiting VC, with whom there is much to catch up on. This is VC’s first casual visit, since he moved, without any specific reason. And as is usually the case, we get totally engrossed spending time with family. I’ve already skipped going to the gym today, our meals have been excessive and late, and in just 48 hours it feels like my regular routine is completely out of whack.

So I guess this missed post is in line with that scheme of things. We have the weekend to ourselves, though. Watching Kunal Kamra (again! woohoo!) is on the agenda, amongst other things. So, when I emerge again I’ll have to give this a shot on Monday, I suppose. OOPS.

One year ago: Stay and stay a while
Three years ago: Into the blue

All my worries seemed so far away

I drove a total of 109 kms yesterday. Which is not to say I went anywhere really far away. Just the usual routes dropping and picking VC up, with the visit to the cafe and a couple of drives to my sister’s place and back, and an evening spent at the concluding showing of art work for her children’s monsoon workshop.

Driving around in the rain gives me seriously unfounded levels of joy, so a day that involved that much peacefuk driving, while the rain lashed down, was kind of a given.

But it was also a fine lesson in the art of letting well laid plans crumble away haplessly while life emerges as it should, and simply going with it.

I was a tad stressed about finishing packing and winding up ahead of time, and the only purpose that slight stress served was to ensure I finished it so well ahead of time, that I had a day that suddenly opened up the way it did.

I had been feeling a bit like even though Niyu, VC and I have spent nearly the whole month together, with the stresses of the health emergency, the travelling back and forth to Bangalore and back, and VC and Niyu coming down with the flu back to back, we didn’t really spend too much time together, doing the things we would otherwise do. The last four weeks have been tenuous, and the stressful energy has petered into every step we have taken, weighing us down and making me feel like a shrunken version of myself, almost. I haven’t had the will to do much. And even though my head has felt the longing, my heart hasn’t responded. I know it’s been the same for VC and perhaps Niyu too.

So it was great that I got a surprise day like yesterday, when coincidentally, the rain came down as hard as it did, but something in the air around us lifted. My spirits perked up, I felt energetic and willing to venture out and off we went. Brunch was had at the cafe, followed by a spot of lazing at home in the afternoon before we took off for Niyus showing which was a delight for me to witness.

I don’t often get to see my sister at work, at close quarters, but when I do, like I did yesterday it always overwhelms me to see how much she’s put together for herself, how far she’s brought this little homegrown venture full of heart, from where she began and how much the work she does means and touches the hearts of little children. Yesterday was one such day. The setting, in what was easily a 100+ year old Portuguese villa unfancily maintained with sparse furniture and plenty of skylight, was just perfect. I helped her set up the showing and we waited for the kids to arrive with their folks.

Once that was done the plan was to head home and cook some dinner and eat in peace, together. But we let that plan slide and be dashed too, to make space for the spontaneous rain-induced urge to eat gopi-manjuree. And so we went to an old favourite neighbourhood dive, sat under a tin roof that rattled relentlessly under the incessant rain, nursing whiskey-paanis and gobi munchurian.

In the midst of all of that, we chatted and gossipped and I broke into a laughing fit like I haven’t in weeks now. In fact I don’t remember the last time I laughed that hard — a big, loud, rolling, full-bellied laugh that came from the depths of my being and shook me to the very tips of my fingers. And while Niyu admitted that it was in that moment that she realised she was fit over her illness, it was in that moment that I realised my own heaviness had lifted in some measure.

I really needed that kind of loosely spooling, unplanned day to go with the wind (or the rain) just as I pleased. I really needed this cocoon with VC and Niyu. I really needed to get out.

I’m not sure if it’s some kind of cruel irony or just a strange kind of perfection that my last day in Goa was the best day I’ve had all month. Whatever it is, I’ll take it. With both arms.

One year ago: My moves are slow but soon they’ll know

Support

In case you haven’t gathered already, whether I’ve explicitly stated it or not, it’s been a heavy couple of weeks weeks. Not to say it’s been outright down and out. We have made it through with our fair share of laughs. I was in Goa for the most part, amply bolstered by VC and my sister, being around whom, I realised just softens all the hard knocks for me. You know, there are some folks who make any situation better? I think VC and Niyu are those folks for me. So much so that it wasn’t until VC left to come be with his folks, Niyu went back to her routine, and I had a day all to myself that the full impact of just how heavy and overwhelming everything really was, caught up with me.

It’s been pouring buckets in Goa, the kind of weather I love. And I was all in to sit back and enjoy it. But the day VC left for Bangalore, I had a realisation that for now, he is the only remaining connect I feel with the place, the only reason I can get myself to spend any time in Goa at all. Without him around, even the rain, the solitude, the freedom felt a bit insipid and pointless. Because as soon as he left, I was all Okay what am I doing here ya very nice rain amazing weather beautiful lush green nice nice but can I just be with him thanks?

And so, it was also easier to follow and spontaneously book myself a ticket to come back to Bangalore a few days after.

Once here, felt ably supported to just do what I came here to do — to dive right in and be there for VCs family, sans distractions, because amma provided all meals — everything from hot rasam and rice, aloo buns to snack on, idli-vadas from our favourite breakfast spot — even though she is down with the flu herself. It meant I didn’t have to think about stocking up, cooking or managing anything at home, especially given that VC was recovering from the flu at home.

I managed to also squeeze in meeting with S for breakfast. It was meant to be quick and breezy, but it became a relaxed, drawn-out catch up because a turn of events allowed it.

I’m realising the importance to lean on my own resources and to take care of myself, so I can be there for others. The idea of giving from a full cup and all that. To recognise and acknowledge my support system, even if to myself. All the things — people, my routine and habits, comfort foods — that help me stay afloat, whether the going gets tough or not. I’m realising that I am less shy to ask for support when I need it, and a bit unabashed in stepping forward to take it when it is offered.

Recent developments with a friend, have really made me aware that sometimes the silence of waiting (for support, for help, for attention, for love) can be so detrimental. To the self, to a relationship, and to the other at the receiving end of it. I used to embrace silence — sometimes because I felt ashamed asking for help, or I felt indebted to step up and take help when it was offered, or I was hurt and offended that it hadn’t come anyway without my asking, or I just plain wanted the other to figure it out themselves. But all that ambiguity creates absolutely nothing but a lack of clarity about the truth. And quite honestly, sometimes it stemmed from my fear of stepping up and asking for it when I needed it — my fear of showing up as I am. Very often, in fact more often than not, it is my ego that keeps me from showing when I need support or what I feel the desire to connect.

In some ways, slowly being comfortable with myself, including all my imperfections and pleasant and unpleasant aspects, I cluding those that I once thought were “weak” or “shameful” in good times and in bad, has meant being able to take in all the love and support that I have, in a more fuller and wholesome way. And being comfortable with asking for it when I need it.

I really feel the difference that this has made to my life, during this time that was heavy and could have otherwise being very confusing, isolating and lonely. What a relief it is to know I can lean, and lean fully, on those who are there for me without having to be asked, and who don’t assume that I will come around when I need it. And what a pleasant surprise to realise that in the event that I need something extra — breakfast with a friend just for a few hours of normal talk, for example — I can ask for it unabashedly with confidence and without feeling lesser or shameful about it.

One year ago: Under my umbrella