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.
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.
The pomelos (चकोतरा), apples, Bengal Quince (बेल) and Indian pears (Nakh) were in season (most of these, I was eating for the first time) and we bought a new coffee grinder and a full coffee making set-up just in time to leave the country.
I have been feeling constantly overwhelmed and largely un-tethered. I have not done anything in almost two months outside of work. Largely, because the pandemic is a strange thing. It feels as though your life is on hold even when it really is not. It is difficult to make plans and even harder to follow through with them. Work seems to be the only constant and there were days (maybe weeks) during these few months when I did nothing other than that. My life’s rather simple routine of breakfasts and meditations and exercise completely unwound itself until there was nothing except me on the bed in front of a laptop. There is a strange existential angst that comes with this as I sit in the same 7 feet of space that I have spent 99% of my last two weeks in. A strange tension/tightness that begins around my throat until the base of my neck and I cant seem to move.
Anyhoo, I am going to a shrink now to ease this feeling. She says I need to regain some control in life, even if it is just for five minutes everyday.
Taking back a degree of control, however small makes it easier and this works as a nice little feedback mechanism until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, until of course they fall apart again. And you rinse and repeat.
Activities that help with above mentioned control are as follows:
a) Sitting out on the balcony in the mornings with my coffee looking over the now familiar sight of the the river Tawi. I seem to only read fictional books these days.
b) Listening to LeVar Burton read short stories by Octavia Butler and N.K. Jemisin (and other writers) while i make supper.
c) Embroidering something mindlessly
There was this video by CGPgray called spaceship you where the analogy is that you in the lockdown is like you on a spaceship and to retain some humanity, you split these different areas for different activities in your life and it feels like over the past few months, all the lines I put in place to separate out the different parts of my life keep disappearing until there is just this one big big blob and it gets hard to pries any of it apart. I feel a little swallowed up. And then things change, slowly control returns. This has been repeating over and over again with varying frequencies and outcomes. I guess my aim to be gentle with myself when I do falter and dust myself off and get back in the game.
To that end I have put down all things of note that have taken place over the last two months:
- We visited Badharwah with Pop and her family in the beginning of August. It is situated in the foothills of the himalayas. We spent a large part of that holiday in the car but it was a beautiful, sleepy, hill city.
- We worked toward and won the Presidential Hackathon organized by the government of Taiwan and OCP. We created an index that tracks the health procurement practices for different districts. That was quite a hectic few weeks but rather rewarding in retrospect.
- I had a slightly traumatic experience while running on the highway in Jammu where some random man in a vehicle tried feebly to grab me and then some other men during this same run kept cat calling from their vehicles. Needless to say, my running did not need any more encouragement to go on a long hiatus.
- I tasted Kaladi, a fatty cheese from Jammu that is usually toasted and eaten with bread as a Kaladi Kulcha.
- I ate a few kinds of Kashmiri breads and biscuits
- We celebrated a few festivals with Pop and her family including Canadian Thanksgiving.
Books Read these Past Few Months
The Fifth Season (Broken Earth #1) — N.K. Jemisin
Blood Child — Octavia Butler
A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) — V. E Schwab
Conversations with friends — Sally Rooney
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue — V. E. Schwab
Pachinko — Min Jin Lee
The Three Body Problem(Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1) — Cixin Liu
Indica: A deep natural history of the subcontinent — Pranay Lal
The Roundhouse — Louise Erdich
The Death of Vivek Oji — Akawaeke Emezi
Transcendent Kingdom — Yaa Gyasi
My Sister the Serial Killer — Oyinkan Braithwait
Vicious — V.E Schwab
Normal People — Sally Rooney
Bashai Tudu — Maheshwata Devi
Imago — Octavia Butler
Reinventing Organizations :Illustrated — Frederic Laloux