The Fourth Decade

Last weekend I stepped into my fourth decade. 40. Leaving behind more than a decade of closet claustrophobia and years of trying to please people and trying to be cool. So, this birthday, I decided it is time to go back home. Home that is Patna. A cozy apartment on Boring Road, with people I would take a bullet for. Home, where I didn’t drink even a drop of alcohol, yet my happy quotient was so high, I would struggle to put it in words. Ma Baba’s love language of food was omnipresent. Dada Boudi were there for a surprise visit. P made a card that sits as a reminder of warmth on my desk. And Kooby drew rainbows which I am yet to get my hands on. Loved ones from far called in with ready over-the-hill and age-is-just-a-number jokes. And Nishu, who has seen my evolution from kindergarten to now was in the middle of it all, with the largest (and poshest) cake I have cut in a while. 🙂 Every time I tell Ma that it is high time she moved to Calcutta from Patna, her usual answer is Patna is home. And I have often given a rebuttal that home is where your people are. I truly believe that but last weekend, I felt a little bit of what she feels. In the old photos on the walls and the tea time at the dinner table, there was something tangibly home-like. Something that’s hard to let go of.

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Bali with the Shomes

I woke up at 8.30 am on a Sunday morning, threw my Kindle and laptop in my yellow-turning-brown backpack and started walking. If you know me, you know how sacred I think my Sunday mornings are. It must be a bit of a piss-off to see this determined march to coffee every Sunday. Thankfully, love makes it look like an endearing habit. 🙂 As I stepped out of the Airbnb, shouted out a quick bye to the parents and started walking in the quaint streets of Seminyak. I have been told I am a creature of familiarity and my walk for the past few days has led me to this coffee shop called Pison Coffee. Perfect coffee and the pies always sell out! What’s not to like?

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Coffee in Hampstead

My eighth day in London. I am sitting in this quaint little coffee shop called Ginger & White, whose claim to fame is an appearance in Somebody Feed Phil. And the claim to fame is well deserved, going by the coffee I am sipping on. Reading this book called American Marriage, and as is true for all relationships on paper or in person, it ain’t easy. A story about a wrongfully incarcerated man and his wife. Over a long (and the best kind of) dinner with Aaki, we were talking about why do we seek relationships in the first place. Wasn’t being single easy? Well I guess it was. But then you remember the meals you cooked, and there was no one to tell you that it lacked a bit of salt but was the best chicken ever. You remember the times when you laughed at a line you are reading in your book, and it was just you grinning at your book. You remember that you have a preferred side of bed now, and the warmth on the other side is the best thing you wake up to. You laugh. At inside jokes, at the most mundane things, at my unkempt hair and her stories. You laugh till your belly aches. Till life feels light. Till growing older feels like a fun thing to do. So, I guess, yes being single was damn easy. It was happy too. But someone very wise once said that when you find someone who makes you laugh, that’s a keeper.

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London Summer

It’s the summer solstice day. It’s a day full of light. The beginning of summer. The yoga teacher asked me to think about all the love and joy in my life. And that’s how I started my morning. In a warm, cozy bed in a quaint hostel in Camden. It is also International Yoga day and no, that’s not why I was doing yoga today. This London trip has quickly become a food tour, and I figured that doing something healthy in the morning might at least make my (health) conscience feel better.

Utopia – A coffee shop in a book shop

I finally picked up Gun Island today. A book by Amitav Ghosh; a gift from a loved one. I am sitting in my usual spot – the bar stools overlooking the trees in Bahrisons Book/coffee shop. There is something extremely alluring about a coffee shop that smells of books and freshly roasted coffee beans. Even Ma associates this place with me and my Sundays. So, here I am. Sitting on a high chair, holding on to my cortado and looking outside at a giant Neem tree (I think). Winter seems to have overstayed its welcome in the city. Grey clouds coupled with the pandemic have made its way into our moods. Few pages into the book, and I have already started referencing the dictionary a little too often. Typical Amitav Ghosh. The backdrop of Calcutta and Ballygunge Place in the story makes me smile. Places that have become close to my heart. It is beautiful how a city can just be a city, till you make memories there with a loved one. Then, the city and everything that comes with it becomes a fragment of that person and all the time spent with them. The places may become hazy, but the warmth never leaves.

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Of Love and Other Sane Things

It is a rainy Monday morning in Calcutta. The will to work is really poor. It has been more than two months of being holed up in Dada’s apartment, as India’s 2.0 version of Covid rages on. Isolation has blended weekdays into weekends, and my view of the world is through a balcony which faces a small walking space. I sip on coffee as I watch people getting in their steps. I get my steps in too, by circling this small living space. Any curious onlookers would have given up by now, on my sanity and their boredom. We have normalized everything by now. The isolation, the inability to meet our loved ones, the lack of life that was. Everything, except death of a loved one. Everything, except maybe facing our own mortality. Fear has found a place in our collective hearts. And we are sanitizing our way through every human contact.

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It is 9 degrees C in Patna right now. I have forgotten what wintery mornings feel like here. Can’t blame my memory. It has been 20 years since I left home. Twenty years since Baba and I dropped Ma to school, on our way to the train station. And Ma couldn’t turn around to say bye, because it was all too hard. Kids leaving the nest can never be easy, no matter how big a brat the said child has been. Ever since, my presence in Patna has been guest-like. Luxuriating in the presence of top notch food and zero chores for those measly 10 days a year.

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Covid Diaries (contd.)

It is a clear, crisp day in LA. Summer is (almost) out of the door. Yes, you will say it is always summer in LA. But, it isn’t. If it is not 70 degrees, it is not summer. I have become a hipster nomad, which is an actual term coined by Airbnb folks for people who live in Airbnbs. Essentially, I have become the opposite of parent talk for ‘you need to settle down‘. Predictably, I love it. In spite of the fact that this year is batshit crazy and every time you think it can’t get worse, it does.

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