Fuck vulnerability; Just Downward Dog

I start my new year with a mild sense of trepidation, but also with hope that this one will be better than the previous. 2015 was a big year in many ways – I finally chose to follow my happiness and that meant not compromising on what I believed I wanted, forcing myself out of my familiar, into a world of superunknowns. It’s been a whirlwind few months, forcing me to now look at life without my rose-tinted glasses.

Part of “growing up” is attempting to learn from my experiences. Some leave you completely breathless and some leave you debilitated, with no will to go on. Love can do both to you as I’ve learnt. The heady feeling of falling in love, the vortex of colours, the perpetual song in your heart, spring in your step, eyes always shining and happy, waking up to infinite possibility with the person you believe is your whole world, and everything else falls away… friends, family, work, work outs… your love shines blindingly bright, like a newly formed star.

But suddenly your love is a supernova, with irrational fights and jealousy and one or both ‘falling out of love’. Words are cruel things, and you may think that it is the worst thing you’d ever hear, but soon, you’ll be thankful for being told the truth.

However, what’s said can’t be un-said, and I’ve learnt to say only what I really mean. Saying things to cause hurt intentionally is probably the worst thing you could do to someone whose world is fast falling into the deepest trench in the ocean.

When you’re in the plunging depths of misery and despair of a breakup, when all life seems to get sucked out of you, and all your dreams and plans have combusted and are spiraling into what’s now a growing black hole, know that you will eventually be ok, and you will be able to pick yourself up and move on, even though it may not seem like it at
that point in time. But knowing all this when you’re in that energy-depleting darkness makes no difference. You just have to breathe and let time crash into your emotions and wash them away.

Which brings me to Time. Time doesn’t seem to wait for anyone or anything. For a person in love, Time seems to race by waaaayyy too quickly, and you wish the moments you spend together could be shot in a single frame movie that you could watch again and again when you’re
apart.

In contrast, Time slows down to the lumbering crawl of an Apatosaurus when you break up, the black and white film replaying happy-sad scenes through an ancient projector with grainy and hiccupping images keeping time to your unstoppable river of tears.

Eventually though, tears dry out, rage fades and forgiveness and acceptance sets in. And whatever has helped you get to this stage of Zen – bitching with your girlfriends, alcohol, punishing work outs, a too-full social calendar, travel, lots of mindless sex, all of the above in unequal measure, will help re-set that clock and Time will move back to cocoon you and set you down into its normal ebb and flow. This is the part that can’t be rushed, unfortunately. And no matter how much you want to get out of this bubble you seem to be trapped in, you won’t be able to, until one day, just like that, it’s all gone. You’ll wake up from this really long, repetitive dream, shake the stardust off your mantle, make yourself a really big, tall cup of black coffee and be ready to take on a whole new world of experiences.

And so…
– I’ve discovered I have patterns.
– I’ve learnt that I love unconditionally, and sometimes obsessively.
– Loving comes with accepting. I’m learning to not confuse it with compromising constantly.
– I’ve accepted that I can’t make everyone happy.
– I’m coming to realize that sometimes, letting it go and just exhaling helps things along massively.
– Sometimes, doing nothing is the best thing you can do.
– Winning an argument = not winning anything at all.
– I’m trying to worry less about things not in my control.
– Kindness and love really is the answer to everything.

And finally, learning from my dogs that life really is simple – you
bark, you whine, you eat, you poo, you anticipate, you play, you
workout (BALL!), and you never stop loving. Here’s to a super Zen 2016,
where all of us find what we are looking for.

Crystal-ball gazing – letter from an old crone

Growing older has it’s pluses I suppose, and for the most part, I love being in this “older” skin. I know more, I do more, I make all my decisons and live with them (with or without regret), and I like knowing I’m the masterchef, equipped with everything I need to make my perfect pastry. Sometimes I wish my 22-year old self had half the courage I have now, to make the choices that come so easily to me today. So here’s my list of (tongue-in-cheek) things I wish I could go back in time to tell my younger self, about our future.

  1. Salads are delicious. You just need to find the right kind of low-fat dressing. Even better, eat your salad naked! (A salad minus dressing, not “be naked while eating your salad”).
  2. Your life will revolve around placeholders in your Google calendar to manage personal events and happenings. Really.
  3. Your love for cats will be replaced with a fervent passion for dogs and you won’t be afraid to throw yourself in the middle of a dogfight, stick your forearm into an aggressive beast’s mouth and save your tiny dog who may have started the fight (but obviously you won’t admit that to the owner of the Big Bad Dog).
  4. Kicking an addiction is easier than it looks, and being off Facebook for a WHOLE ENTIRE financial quarter will not kill you, it will just give you more time to answer work-related emails, contemplate life, the universe and everything, walk your dogs… and dream this list up. HAHAH!
  5. Everyone’s life will revolve around the “Internet” and being connected. Oh and Cats will take over the Internet.
  6. Being in love, falling in love, heartbreak, separation, love, lust, crazy love fever… all of it is the same. You’ll still be a romantic at heart, but the practicality of life will chip away at you and make you a robot with computable emotions (fast forward 20 years I’m sure emotions will be accessible via a convenient app).
  7. Food will still not interest you much, which is just as well, as you’ll have stage one TMJ and your face will hurt when chewing. Now, FFS, STOP CRACKING OPEN NUTS WITH YOUR MOLARS!
  8. Shoes will still be your weakness. Word of advise – Pick three expensive shoes that fit well and won’t chafe, over eight pairs of fancy, but cheap shoes at a sale.
  9. You will slowly slide down the slippery slope of being a brand whore.
  10. You will forget how to play the keyboard and read music. Yes. Shocking! This will upset you greatly for a little while.
  11. You will be able to bike 35km in 1.15hours, swim in the big boys pool and tread water (sort of), and do yoga in your sleep! You will be fit.
  12. A yoga retreat will be your ultimate solo getaway and you’ll enjoy it immensely.
  13. Ten years hence, a driving license will still be nowhere on the horizon…
  14. You’ll have a life coach because you’ll need a life coach.
  15. Cooking and baking will be “normal” parts of your unhurried weekends.
  16. You’ll live for the post-workout pain.
  17. Some memories can’t be erased no matter how hard you try, so best let that reel play itself out, and move on.
  18. Partying is passé and drinking on weeknights is out of the question. Revelation – abstinence is the best hangover remedy.
  19. Family is, was, and will be, EVERYTHING.
  20. Being all Zen will eventually come naturally to you.
  21. All good things come to an end. You’ll be strong enough to pull the plug and walk away.
  22. “Chance”, “fate” and “luck” don’t exist.
  23. Travel will not happen. You’re tied to an anchor.
  24. One plural word – Tattoos.😀

Chapter Twelve: “Everything Has An End.”

Growing older, you can’t help but collect life experiences that make you feel like you know stuff. You’re older, and with age comes wisdom they say. Sometimes though, even though you ‘know’ stuff, you can’t stop some things from barreling into you and running you over. Often, it feels like an out of body experience, and you know exactly what to say and what to do to make it stop, or change the course of things, but you’re caught in the current and the best you can hope to do is just trust you won’t sink while you free fall backwards in slow-motion.

The seconds seem to slow… and every inhalation takes forever. You blink, but you’re still falling endlessly as everything rushes by.

Giving in is the only way out, but you’ll never know if you’ll ever rebuild the stuff you’re losing and you have no choice. This is it. Once you’ve accepted the reality of your situation, time goes back to being normal and your free-fall ends.

You sink. You inhale. You gag. You sink again and fight the current.

It hasn’t really been that long. Your trauma lasted about 70 seconds till survival instinct kicked in and ensured you’d live to fight another day. But now, you’ll always be wary of the soothing voice calling to you, and will always hate the water. Always. You walk away with the hope that you’re stronger, and will have more control the next time round… If you allow a next time.

“Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.” – Nietzsche

Chapter One: Love at Third Sight

I’m a city girl, we’ve established that. I love Bombay for it’s gritty, messy, polluted self, the same way I love Hong Kong for it’s teeming masses, organized chaos, dirty alleys with beautiful graffiti and the amazing food and nightlife. The ten blissful days spent living as a native in HK over Christmas one year had me convinced I would move here someday, despite the matchbox-sized houses, grey Decembers, and endless uphill walks. So imagine my surprise when at the end of my trip to Tokyo in the biting cold, I realized I was in love again!

Japan, and specifically the Fuji Rock Festival, coupled with the lure of climbing Mt Fuji has always been on my bucket list, so other than bad timing, I wasn’t too fussed about having to go to Tokyo in the dead of winter. While I didn’t anticipate how cold it would be, I most certainly wasn’t prepared for the extremely grey landscape with sorry-looking naked trees, early evenings and the air of desolation and silence in the area of town we lived in. It was so bleak, that the walk home on those first two evenings made me feel like I was in a Charles Dickens’ novel! Sticking around in the sunshine helped, but the place takes on a different tone the minute the sun sashays behind a thick curtain of mountains and clouds – a gorgeous sight we were lucky to witness from our vantage point at the hot springs at Hakone.

A day trip to Kamakura on the third day was the best part of this excursion. The little seaside village was picture perfect. It had a quaint little train ferrying people through the station, many winding roads dotted with beautiful houses and gardens with hyacinth bulbs, among other flowers, and tiny, unpretentious cafes so warm and welcoming, I wanted to just stay there forever. The sun was up and it helped thaw my frozen nose, while casting a perfect yellow-orange tinged light on the people milling around me, something no instagram filter can replicate.

A man in the back of a van made us thick, perfectly brewed coffee as black as death, and I met lovely little dogs in my quest for an elusive hairdryer. Every time I close my eyes and think about that day walking about the tiny town, I remember what it felt like to be at peace, being wrapped in that warm embrace, face tilted to the sun, listening to the sound of the waves, standing still and just letting it all wash over me. I’ve bottled this feeling – this is my happy place, and I wish I could share it. I think I fell in love in Kamakura… I think I fell in love with Kamakura, and by extension, with Tokyo that day.

Kotokuin Great Buddha of Kamakura

Kotokuin Great Buddha of Kamakura

Hakone Sulphur and Hot Springs

Hakone Sulphur and Hot Springs

Fuji in the distance

Fuji in the distance

Japanese Dragons 2

Japanese dragons – I’m torn between my love for the Chinese and Japanese dragons

Sensoji Asakusa

Sensoji Asakusa – magnificent especially at night

Hama-rikyu Gardens

Hama-rikyu Gardens – home to the largest Japanese black pine in the city. A surprisingly calm spot in the middle of a bustling city.

Tokyo Imperial Palace East Gardens

Tokyo Imperial Palace East Gardens.

Art

Art on my first night out that ended in drunken karaoke:)

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market

Snow! More like tightly packed dirty ice, but yay! Another first!

Snow! More like tightly packed dirty ice, but yay! Another first!

Aokigahara - the Suicide Forest or Sea of Trees: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aokigahara

Aokigahara – the Suicide Forest or Sea of Trees: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aokigahara

Art. Shibuya.

Art. Shibuya.

The many varieties of coffee, brewed instantly by a machine in a proper cup with a lid and all!

The many varieties of coffee, brewed instantly by a machine in a proper cup with a lid and all!

Man with the perfect coffee, Kamakura

Man with the perfect coffee, Kamakura

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine

Chapter Three: The Gecko

When I decided to go to Bali to do a week of eat-sleep-yoga, the only bugs I imagined I would have to combat were mosquitoes. Preparing for this was easy – carry two packs of mosquito patches instead of one. I was mistaken. I blame my ignorance on the fact that I’ve lived in a big city for too long now, and I’d forgotten how terrified I was as a child, walking into supersized cobwebs on my way to school. Suffice to say that bugs scare me.

My days progressed as amicably as one would expect in the sleepy little commune, until I was woken up in the wee hours one morning, by what I thought was a rather strange sounding bird. Before I go on though, I must tell you about this gorgeous place that I lived in – surrounded by rice fields, beautiful churches, and long, endlessly meandering roads that always lead to the beach, this little house was picture perfect! It had its own little pool (as most villas in Bali do), and my room being the cheapest, was at the top of the chalet, and reminded me of my Barsati house in Bangalore.

Living on the roof was great for the most part – I could have my morning cup of coffee (or leftover wine) sat outside on the large terrace, watching the buffalo meander by, tracing darting lizards with my eyes, while the sun came up. I often found myself wishing I had an air gun, poisoned darts, or a bow-and arrow (yeah right!) to shoot them – the lizards, not the buffalo!

The downside of living right on the top floor was having to climb up and down supersized stairs, that I’m positive were constructed for a person with decidedly longer legs than mine, or a giant. Maybe that’s the host’s way of making sure guests are dead sober when they get home – attempt to climb medieval stairs and fall to death, or drown in pool while trying to find said stairs. If we were lucky, (which we roof-dwellers were for the most part), we got away with bruised shins and elbows.

As you can tell, the stairs displeased me and I was very conscious of taking a tumble and twisting my pretty neck if I misjudged how high or low I placed each step. The actual roof, I’ve forgotten to mention, was made of straw, and picked up every tiny sound, right from the rain to what I assume was the scrabbling of lizards, rushing about to kick-start their nightly feasting and festivities by the lone light-bulb that served as their moth-catching disco-ball. *Shudders. *

Being familiar with the tut-tutting of the white-rabitted lizards whose call sounded just like their relatives’ in Singapore, I disregarded that high-pitched disyllabic morning wake up call and attributed it to what I assumed would be an exotic bird outside my window, which I was now very keen to spot. I dashed into the bathroom to do what one does in the bathroom and froze on my throne as I paused from consuming my headlines on twitter, as I looked up in the direction of the water heater. Staring back at me with large glassy unblinking eyes was a triangular face as large as the cork in my wine bottle, with mottled green and muddy brown skin.

I don’t know how long we stared into each other’s eyes, but I think time stood still. If you’d been there, you might have mistaken us for star-crossed lovers in a hyperlapse video, but I assure you, it felt like I just peeked at Medusa and was experiencing the effects of turning into a fixture. The creature spoke… it was the same “EhhhHH-Uhhhhsound that I thought belonged to an exotic bird, which broke Medusa’s spell and propelled me towards the door while letting out a blood-curdling scream in response to what in hindsight may have been his way of saying hello.

The cleaner, the caretaker and my neighbours were nonchalant about the presence of this unwanted squatter, and couldn’t fathom why I couldn’t use the bathroom and kept requesting to move to another room. I ended up sleeping with one eye open, showering in the yoga school and risked the treacherous climb up and down the murderous stairs to use the loo by the pool, but refused to enter my bathroom for the remainder of my stay. The gecko made me miss civilization.

Fucking gecko.

P1020531 A storm Asian Wedding shoot Rice P1020740P1020674_2

Time, you old gypsy man!

It’s been an interesting and liberating experience being off of social sites all week, focusing on yoga, phone on silent or switched off. It was hard on the first day, but once I realized that the only email I received were mostly EDMs I signed up for, I stopped checking. People don’t email anymore. Long, descriptive thoughts of the then and now are almost as alien as a hand-written note. It’s tragic that the most email I now send is work-related and Facebook (FB) seems to have evolved to be the default way of communicating with everyone, no matter how close or alienated I am to/from the person.

Social media, not SOC!

On one recent night fueled by Rum & Coke, watching the last embers of the BBQ fizzle off in the rain, a childhood buddy mentioned that the worst thing about FB is the default “Happy Birthday” messages that flood your wall on the day, from people you either don’t know too well or wouldn’t really care to have around if you threw a party to celebrate. Realizing the truth in that statement, most of us around that fire turned a lot of our information, including our birthdates, private. It was an experience that has me convinced I’m one step closer to deleting my account for good, by starting to wean myself off this addictive online train of adulation/ attention. After all, my “friends list” is as interested in my irate tirade about puppy mills as I am about their new addition to their family #justsaying.

Older, fitter, wiser.

This week, I grew older. My closest friends and family called on the day and the day after, and in the week, as they remembered; I really do feel blessed to have so many people who care about me. I loved that all the celebrating (in true Indian fashion), centered on food – there was brunch with the puppies and a surprise with my Indian-Italian family, home cooked-dinner with another friend in the evening, while another buddy brought me Suji Ka Halwa, thoughtfully keeping in mind my jaw and inability to chew😉 I baked and I cooked again in the week for more friends who stopped by bearing presents and books and MORE food!

photo 1 photo 2While I didn’t get to do the one thing I really wanted to (get on that plane to Timbuktu), my family, adopted family, friends and my yoga buddies more than made up for it with their presence, motivation, lots of work outs, movies and believe it or not – encouragement to get back to being creative with Crochet!

One of my yoga masters quoted the Buddha in one of our meditation classes – “The mind is everything. What you think you become”. And I agree. Our fate truly lies in our own hands. I’m going to remind myself of this every single day of this year and hope that I evolve to be a better person, while working towards de-cluttering my online presence and focusing on making that fabled trip to Timbuktu a reality.

photo 1

Happiness is… a room overflowing with flowers

photo 2photo 3(Crocheted Christmas presents for friends traveling to cold climes:) 1 – Bonny Beret and 2 – Cuddle Cowl)