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En Route to Bhaderwah. The river Chenab

It has been more than three months since I have written a month note. I have not really felt up to it. But i guess I need to commit to memory at least some of the things that have happened over this year.

I am in Canada now and going to go into a two week quarantine self meditation retreat. I have not seen much of Canada other than the various airports and the AirBnB I plan to hunker down in. But the last five months were spent in Jammu.

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Us masked at airports

The weather in Jammu for the entire time I was incommunicado went from monsoon to winter. As I was leaving it was getting much colder and the songbirds were out. The river basin had also gotten really busy. There were goats, horses, peacocks, eagles, and the usual suspects - dogs, monkeys, cows hanging around. I guess this signaled winter. It almost looked like those dioramas you make as a kid of zoos and villages. …

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  • This month was the month of my birthday. It felt a bit like childhood, we ate cake, crisps, and pop through the day. Steven bought me a DSLR and I have been trying to take some photos with it. Some of them are below. They are not very good. If anyone has any easy tutorials, please do send them on.
  • I also went from being the owner of one set of IEMs to now having three devices for sound: a Bluetooth earphone for my running experience (Steven's pressie) and one shower compatible speaker for my showering experience (mum’s pressie). …

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Egon Schiele’s “The Family,” 1918 Belvedere Museum

There is a purpose to inertia

The safest place to be is in limbo

Is it okay that I am moving

when the world stays still…

It is time for my month note and while things have happened over the month, the things that have happened over the last week have smudged any memory from the rest of the month and all I am left with are some blurred shapes.

I keep trying to think about how I felt last month, but my senses are dulled, I cant really tell…I don’t know if this is my body coping with loss. My uncle passed away this week. It happened very quickly in about 10 days, One day he was complaining about slight vertigo and the next he is gone. Until this happened, while I was taking the necessary precaution and keeping track of the progression of the disease in different Indian states, I don’t think I fully understood it— viscerally. Just like our youth is filled with this feeling of immortality, I did not actually think this would affect my monkey-sphere. But now I am irrationally scared and paranoid for all the older and more vulnerable members of my family, and for the city they live in. I feel guilty that I can’t be with them. I wish I could take them away from there. He was my fathers older brother and he died alone when so many people wanted to be around him. My sister had to take care of everything, being the only young and fit, person in the area. It hurt me that she went through that alone. Someone told me that this disease and this year would creation of generation of people with PTSD, all the survivors who have loved and who have to stand helplessly on the sidelines while losing people, they cannot see ever again. I am tired and I am scared. …

“ देख देख देख तू यहाँ वहाँ ना फेंक …

देख देख देख तू यहाँ वहाँ ना फेंक …

देख फैले गी बीमारी होगा सबका बुरा हाल …

तो का करें भैया ?

गाड़ी वाला आया । घर से कचरा निकाल …”

Shyam Bairagi

All my life I have had a terse relationship with making rotis. My mother rarely made rotis and when she did, the rotis always tasted more healthy than necessary — so, for a long time even eating them was not a part of my life (this of course changed when Manjit da Dhaba became a recurring actor). Roti making seemed alien to me and it felt like too much effort. …

“Every evening I hear the bells

Like a baton being passed along the mountain-side

I keep waiting everyday

an arpeggio”

I never realized how much I took food for granted. Of all the things I thought would affect me during the lock-down — food was not high on the list. But it turns out I really really enjoy eating! I need to come to terms with the special place food has in my heart — other than than the literal butter that is clogging up my arteries.

I had to come to terms with the fact that I ate out a lot, the occasional plate of momos or pani puris or chicken 65 or Gobi Manchurian on my way back from somewhere, or cream buns or samosas or egg puffs — add up. …

“I sit at the edge of the earth watching it go viral. Wondering when it will be safe to go buy cake next.”

The month of march was mostly Panic. But i will try not to concentrate on that. I do not feel like talking or writing, so this is going to be short-er.

Before the country went into a complete lock-down with 4 hours of notice, I managed to walk 80 km around Dharamkot, Bhagsu, McLeod Ganj and Naddi in the month of march. I saw many mountain goats and a couple of waterfalls.

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“We just about landed in Dharamkot

with a swagger like Truman Capote

less than two steps we had taken

when we heard a great wheeze-in

and now all i can get out is a croak”

It has been a while since I have written anything. There has been one storm after another passing through, and one of those was an actual storm. Well, more like torrential rains that lasted almost the entire month of February.

Early in February, we packed our bags and took a few flights (this was before flight taking became dangerous) and one cab to get to a village near Upper Dharamkot. From there it was a steep walk uphill with our luggage and then a shorter walk through a stepped mustard field, a cow shed, and a narrow walkway among other things and we finally got to our place of stay. …

…and the question of access to information

The budget or the annual financial statement, in accordance with Article 112 of the Indian constitution requires the union government to present to the parliament a statement of receipts and expenditure pertaining to three kinds of assessments:

  • Estimates of receipts and expenditure for the following year,
  • Revised estimates for the current year, and
  • The actual receipts and expenditure for the previous financial year.

The budget documents are prepared by the budget division of the Department of Economic Affairs with extensive negotiations and consultations with different ministries and stakeholders. The document is frozen after approval from the Prime Minister. …

Just like the budget speech this year I will be covering up a lot of empty space with verses. Flexing my haiku muscles.

meandering thoughts
how literature listens
to the octothorpe

I spent this month in three cities: 10 days in Chennai, Bangalore, and Jaipur. All of it was tiring in different ways and this of course also meant I was living out of a suitcase — quite an unhealthy life, with no exercise and mostly food outside. …

This past month has gone by fast and completely shaken up any semblance of a daily healthy routine I might have kept. One thing I have learnt, if my routine is disturbed, it takes a long time to get it back.

We reached Nagpur; cold and green with an impressive metro in construction just in time for the Vipassana Course. We were greeted everywhere with huge aggressive saffron banners of Shiv Sena plastered all over.

The course began and, since there were not enough female servers, I volunteered to serve. I had never before been surrounded by so much Hindi and Marathi. Around me were strong Marathi women who worked very hard and five pattis (grandmas) in the kitchen making more than a thousand rotis a day. I got to help with the roti making on occasion which was a huge treat! On the eighth day, as always, animals start appearing around the center and in Dhamma Naga this meant that I was greeted by a cobra. …


Preethi Govindarajan

Puttering with data science. Thoughts are mostly derivative.

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