10 Aug

Yesterday was a very good one-the self was in its prime. Still, creative, aware, receptive. The weight of the previous week lifted. And late at night, I was suddenly struck by my choice of words a couple of posts ago-‘open wound’.

I wonder if the times I feel like an open wound, the self is just going through a process of necessary purging, before beginning its next cycle of spiritual learning/growth. An opportunity for crap to literally come to the surface, and leave the system.I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a week long spiritual retreat offered annually by my spiritual organisation commenced last night. Online, for the first time and free of cost, also for the first time, given the exigencies of the year.

I am speculating ofcourse, but perhaps there is an analogous experience here somewhere. I remember the time I was undertaking the third level of Pranic Healing training- Pranic Psychotherapy.  We were told that receiving a psychotherapy session can leave you feeling really exhausted. As an exercise, we performed it on ourselves, and it really was draining. At other times, during my meditations, especially after some intense meditations, I’ve felt a similar exhaustion. A ‘clean’ kind of exhaustion. I remember it too, after my initiation. I have read other people writing of similar experiences.

The process of expelling crap can be various degrees of painful and debilitating. But it’s almost always a prelude to growth. It is rarely an endless purgatory, unless one adamantly refuses to proceed/move ahead.

What is true of the microcosm of the body is also true of the macrocosm of the world. A useful thing to remember, while processing this tumultuous year.

 

8 Aug

What a way to close off the week.

Some tragedies feel personal and the Air India Express crash of last night is one of them :(.

A friend of mine put up a shitty facebook post effectively speculatively blaming older, unfit aircrafts of Air India Express for the crash. What was the basis of the speculation? A few Air India Express flights he’s taken in which the interiors were shabby and/or malfunctioning and his fatass as ‘uncomfortable’ midair.

Big fucking deal if your TV isn’t working on a 3 hour flight. Interior decor is not the same as aircraft maintenance. (Sure, you’re within your rights to ask for refunds, file cases if the interiors aren’t up to the mark. But to conflate that with an aircraft’s airworthiness is ignorant at best and entitled assholeish at worst.) And public sector airlines including Air India and its subsidiaries generally have the best records for aircraft safety simply because their staff can refuse to fly if even the smallest thing is out of order. This is not possible on private airlines. I therefore usually want to punch people who diss Air India because of shabby interiors and ‘aunty’ Air Hostesses. I feel very strongly about public sector companies.

Even as I process the crash, I find myself being grateful for small mercies that were actually miraculous and not so small. Because of the 1) landslide tragedy at Munnar earlier in the day, disaster relief teams were already present in the vicinity and were immediately able to deploy at the airport. The rescue operation would otherwise have taken much, much longer than the 1.5 hour-ish it ultimately took to get everyone out of the wreckage.

And 2) the rains that caused the accident, also ensured the broken aircraft didn’t catch afire. The Mangalore crash from some years ago only had 8 survivors precisely because the aircraft caught on fire after falling off the runway.

 

 

 

7 Aug

This week has bordered on agonising. I’ve felt like an open wound (lolz, dramaqueen much?) But where a month ago I might have taken the time to tend to myself-sweep and mop the floors, cook food, read wonderful things, watch shows that fill me with the happies, and most importantly, give my mind all the time it needs to interiorize and find the joy again- this time around, I can’t. My mind is crowded with the pressures of dissertation writing, fundraising and freelance committments. Consequently, I’ve been useless this week. The brain refuses to work, so I’ve been dragging a freelance deadline all week and got no thesis work done.

But it’s also been a shit week out in the world. Beirut-poor Beirut. The brick laying at Ayodhya, made to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the abrogation of article 370, and Kashmir. Oh, Kashmir. The pandemic is bad-but I feel no pain greater than when I see the diversity and inclusivity of India being systematically dismantled by the present dispensation. Hindu majoritarianism breaks my heart. My heart hurts for the political prisoners being picked up every day, even now, and being slapped with the draconian UAPA. Many of them are friends of friends. I fear soon it will be friends.

It takes greater effort in times like this to remember the Divine hand, present still. It takes more effort to doggedly keep my sight trained on what remains true, always.

 

31 Jul

Today the sky was aggressively blue and white, and my heart soared with every glimpse of the changing palette, as the wind nudged along the clouds through the day. I might just have spammed a friend with too many photos of the same :P.

***

Last year I decided on a policy for all future birthdays of mine. I would prepare ahead and plan the joys of the day myself, rather than waiting for someone to guess what would make the day special for me. I’ve loved birthdays excessively since childhood, not just mine, but those of all loved ones, friends and family. I’ve always made a special effort for birthdays, trying to make the day special for the loved one. I’ve not always got that back though, and I don’t mean this in a woe-is-me way. It used to upset me when I was younger if people forgot or didn’t make an effort. I never craved a big gesture, just a small but sincere and thoughtful acknowledgement of the day.  Otherwise, my sentiments would get hurt.

Over the years, the forgetting part stopped bothering me, because the older I grew, the easier it became to see which friendships were genuine and soul-deep, and it became easier to rest in the security of those friendships. I didn’t have to search hard for acknowledgement of the value of the friendship; they came sprinkled throughout the year in gestures small and big.

It was harder to let go of the expectation from family, though. My rational, intelligent mind knows my family loves me. Like my friends, perhaps even more than my friends, I’ve seen acts and services of love throughout the year, all my life. They are freely given, without expectation of even acknowledgement. I’ve grown up knowing I can take those acts for granted (I don’t, but that’s what they expect me to do). And yet, I still always found myself waiting for and watching for an extra acknowledgement on my birthdays, a mirroring of my own attitude to birthdays, from them. Something that went beyond ready-made cards and gifts, because those always came. Strange, huh? I wonder if that has something to do with the complexity of the family relationship-where as a child you are entirely dependent on them to set the tone.

So last year I decided that I would set the tone for my birthdays. I would think ahead and plan exactly all the things that would be meaningful to me and that would make the day special for me, the exact kind of celebration that would meet my expectations. I decided I would free all loved ones from said expectations, leaving them free to celebrate the day in whichever way they wanted to, and leaving me free to receive that celebration with a joyful and full heart, unbruised by hurt sentiments.

And so, even though I debated hard about whether I should actually go through with the plan this year, given the pandemic and the terrible economic suffering I see all around me, I went ahead and pre-bought myself a gift. I also plan to order in some decadent cakes (I can make some, but a ready-made treat feels more celebratory, *shrug*). The money I spent/will spend would definitely serve someone’s needs better than my wants, but I have made peace with the fact that this is where I am on my emotional evolution/journey right now. A place where a material ‘want’ is actually an emotional need. I have little doubt that once I meet this need, I will eventually move on, naturally shedding it on the way. But for now, this is where I am, and it is ok.

I usually also celebrate by visiting a YSS ashram/centre (depending on where I am, and which is more geographically accessible) for a nice, long birthday meditation/hanging out in the ‘presence’ of the Gurus. Additionally, this year I had hoped to take myself on a short ‘vacation trip’. (‘Vacation’ for me means long bus journeys into unfamiliar parts of my own city too, so I don’t necessarily mean a conventional trip. Not that I can afford a conventional overnight trip anywhere, what with being PhD-broke :’-D) Neither of those things will be possible this year, so perhaps it is additionally ok to mark the day with food and a delicious gift.

***

The fundraiser is doing really well. It has exceeded my expectations, and I can finally rest knowing I will be able to deliver on my commitment. People, many of them strangers, have been incredibly kind. This experience has forever changed me and will always influence my own attitude to future fundraisers I see floating around. If they can trust so freely, so can I, always and forever.

 

28 Jul

It’s been over two weeks of a uniformly grey sky. A little bit of rain, yes, but not continuous deluges. Poor Bihar and Assam get to suffer those. Here, just the grey skies with nary a well-defined cloud in sight. Without my compulsive-photo taking of these months, I would find it hard to recall the bright blue skies and fast moving, many shaped cottony clouds of the weeks and weeks before.

***

I have briefly, temporarily?, found that caffeine alternative I was looking for. I now wake up to a spicey, herbal tea with honey. It’s the cinnamon that does it for me. I do still imbibe a cuppa coffee with breakfast (or as breakfast, I should say, given the omplete disarray my cooking and cleaning has fallen into), but I find it well-tamed and suitably elevated with a dollop of  pure, non-mass market cane jaggery.

Do I sound like a snooty upperclass ass when I say non-mass market? Well, I don’t mean to. I like supporting small farmers, and indigenous diversity, but I will buy the grossest commercial crap from small shopkeepers  because I like to support them too. However, in lockdown times my access to such small shopkeepers is limited and no way am I paying big corporate for crap gur and fake honey.

***

I don’t have time to be writing in here but here I am anyway *shrug*

17 Jul

Last night I dreamt I went to Mother Dairy again*.

I bought three ice-cream sandwiches, and two chocolate cones.

The shopkeeper showed me their new ice-cream cake range. There was a nutty brownie base, with layers of chocolate truffle filling alternating with ice-cream.

That was a really luscious cake. I said ‘maybe next time’.

There were also snickers bars.

I think my subconscious mind is doing me a nudge-nudge wink-wink.

 

 

 

*Ha! Lit ref ftw!

16 Jul

I lucked out on supervisor karma. There are mild to severe horror stories around me, in real life and online, of the various ways in which grad students have had to battle theirs. The only thing I’ve had to battle (so far) is myself and the research and writing. And I know that’s unusual and I’m grateful.

One of my supervisors called up to check on me this week, after radio silence from my end for three months (I hadn’t anything to update him with). He didn’t guilt me about work at all. On the contrary, he inquired about my well being (pandemic and all) and he sounded relaxed and was very encouraging. He still believes I can do it. Who am I to disagree then, eh?

I’ve had one question that has routinely announced itself over the PhD journey. An internal query-why? What role is the PhD playing in my life? How am I meant to think of it? Is its sole importance the fact that it allowed for self growth and spiritual growth? I’ve wished to work in cooperation with the Divine Will on this, but I’ve not known beyond doubt what that was. I’ve never been able to ‘pray’ about the PhD, ever, because I haven’t cared enough about it. Or maybe what I mean is, I’ve never desired the degree itself enough to be able to convert it into a heartfelt prayer.  It’s the other things about the journey, including the learnings, that I’ve cared about.

And that’s been the focus of recent prayers/internal conversations-wanting to be shown how I must perceive it, whether it is the divine will that I push myself on, towards completion. My supervisor’s surprise phone call, coupled by another person’s call on the same day, using the exact same language (about the role of the degree in my future life, irrespective of where I end up professionally) tends to make me think the answer has come. So push on I must, making July a transition month, where I practice the rhythms of working on the dissertation, freelance bits and fundraising, simultaneously.

12 Jul

Lessons from the past week:

  • Sitting on the floor to work trumps chairs and tables, and beds. The back appreciates it, and one ends up getting up and walking around (albeit to fetch things, and not explicitly for exercise) very frequently.

 

  • That said, monotony can hit anywhere, so an occasional stint with terrible posture options on the bed/table is permitted.

 

  • Coffee has been needed more frequently this week because of actual deadlines for paid work that actually needed to be submitted. A daily coffee is still untenable, so we’re at alternate days. I’m going to need to find ways around the caffeine fix.

 

  • Pleasure-work deadlines are pleasurable, but they do wreck the easy rhythm of the day that I need for optimal functioning. The balancing act was shit this week- one day of PhD work and rest of the time was all freelance work. There was less time and space for good meditations too, and none for healing.

 

  • There is a way out, that I might need to seriously consider. It involves less think time on my part, and is being encouraged right now in favour of speed. Might involve less creative satisfaction, but would give me time to use that creative energy for other pieces that I might wish to write, for fun.

 

  • And reminder to self: the feeling of failure/not being where I want to be is an opportunity. And not in a neo-lib instagram meme way either: it is discomfort that indicates the areas that need work. Discomfort announces arrival of invitation to work on the self. And the measure is far kinder and more generous than any worldly one. You get ‘marks’ for doing the rough work, in a manner of speaking.
8 Jul

We are now at a stage in the fundraiser where the donations from neighbours are drying up. There appeared to be no way forward but to resort to crowdfunding to firstly appeal to my personal circles and secondly make it easier for the willing, kind friends to donate.

Even then I hesitated mid-way into the setting up of the campaign on a crowdfunding website, unsure of what I was getting myself into legally and bureaucratically. However, yesterday while panic-snoozing all morning and afternoon, I got a call from someone from the crowdfunding website who wanted to help me get it live. I took that as a sign and encouragement from the universe to go ahead.

I still don’t know what I’ve got myself into and whether this will cause problems for me in the future, but I trust and go ahead. Because it has already received the kind generosity of friends and friends’ friends. I was most touched when a stranger-friend from instagram got in touch with me and gave a generous donation. We don’t know each other; we are merely fellow dissertators who did an instagram dissertation challenge together last year. And yet, she reached out. The kindred spirits that lie scattered around the world! So many dear stranger-friends we might not even have met as yet! This too is as much a reality as the shitty peoplez of the planet.

Depending on how much of my goal we meet in the fundraiser campaign, I’ll decide on whether or not to deploy one last idea up mine sleeve- a neighbourhood fundraiser sale on facebook, with people donating food, books, arts and crafts, anything that might be worthy of being bought. After that I’m calling it. It would not be reasonable to expend any more time or energy on it, given that my freelance work has begunned up, and I’m pushing on with my thesis chapters.

30 Jun

I wish WordPress would stop warning me that ‘The new WordPress editor is coming”. Yes yes I know, and since there is nothing I can do to stop the coming, the least you can do, WordPress, is let me enjoy the last few days of this existing editor in peace, ok? Why do you tech guys have so much time on your hands that you need to go around fixing things that don’t need fixing, eh? Go fight for digital privacy or something.

The wonderful writing gig is back, hooray. And my fridge is filled with enough homecooked food to last me for atleast a couple of weeks. And getting de-virused on the kitchen floor are groceries and fruits and veg for the next month.  I’m grateful.

Onward to July!