Archive for February, 2016
Back in 2012 when the topic of moving out of the city, our home – a place that both K and I were extremely fond of – came about, the decision was kind of already made for us. There were several factors to consider, both positive and negative, but out of all those the main reason to leave was the visa situation. K’s job was moving and there was no way he could elect to stay back. Had he done that, he would’ve lost his job and by inference his work visa. So, like I said, the outcome was pretty clear even before we could sit down and discuss in length – we had to move.
And move we did.
We welcomed the new phase of life with open hearts, albeit a little reluctant in the beginning. We had our close friends just a stone’s throw away. We spent countless days and nights with them sharing meals, playing board games, discussing all sorts of topics under the sun, traveling together – all that fun stuff. We bought a home big enough to host a dozen people; so we sponsored visas, invited our family from India and had a blast when during their visit. We celebrated Holi and Diwali one of the years with a large gathering of friends.
All in all, things were going fine, but there was always that nagging feeling somewhere hiding deep in the shadows of our minds about how everything could be even better. And every now and then we kept revisiting the idea of someday returning to the one place where both of us felt at Home. Visa situation had changed, and slowly, but surely, the light at the end of the tunnel got brighter and brighter.
Late in 2014, K came home one evening with the news that there might a prospect of moving to a new position within the company and it would require transferring to exactly where we wanted to be. Without any second thoughts both of us agreed that it would be a great break. He liked the new job role, and both of us fancied what it brought with it in terms of relocation. He pursued it rigorously while we waited patiently for it to finally take shape.
We spent hours together deliberating whether it made sense to leave behind all that we’d built together in the past three years. We wrote down pros and cons, debating whether one evidently won over the other. The key point that made us sway from side to side was the enormous financial hit that we had to take with the move (the cost of living being the main culprit; it would be much higher here, but neither of us would got any sort of increment to compensate for that. Bummer, huh?). In the end, though, all things considered, we unequivocally decided that we had to do what our hearts desired without bringing money into the equation. Money might come and go, but opportunity like this might not knock on our doors again. Hence, the fact that we would both be immensely happier in every which way if we shifted made our decision for us.
Consequently, almost a year later, in October of 2015, we found ourselves back in Boston. And there has been looking back ever since.
This city has always been (and will forever be) Home to me. And now that I’m back here, I have a feeling I’m going to embrace it closer to my heart than ever, never wanting to even consider the thought of moving elsewhere.
To be able to wake up at a decent hour so as to not rush in the mornings is a boon in itself. I haven’t done that in years. For me mornings typically entail only of going from a half-sleepy state to an I’m-running-late-I-have-to-hurry state within half hour of opening my eyes. I’ve wanted to change this time and again, and make it a custom of relishing the whole waking up and starting a whole new day experience. I kept putting that task off to the proverbial ‘tomorrow’, however, to get those few extra minutes of sleep bestowed upon my nightly slumber accomplishment slate that sometimes ran into the double digit hours.
You see, it’s not that I am incapable of doing that for whatever reason; it’s merely that I am extremely lazy. Even this morning I woke up at 430. Yes, that early – without forcing myself, without any alarms, without anyone trying their best to get me out of bed, without any pressing work to be completed – I opened my eyes and felt fresh as a daisy even before the sun kissed the city’s skyline. It happens, rarely. Nonetheless, it was futile because I ended up spending the next few hours in bed tossing and turning contemplating how to best utilize the extra hours. And, before I knew it, there went the said extra hours bidding me goodbye. Frustrated with myself for neither dozing off nor spending the time wisely, I went back to sleep after I spotted sun’s magical rays win its sweet quarrel with the window shades. Heights of laziness, no?
What I want, though, is to be able to wake up at a reasonable hour, maybe make my breakfast, maybe meditate a bit, maybe spend a little time reading to get my mind into a calm state, maybe just sit by the window and watch the rain or snow fall, maybe do some low intensity exercise, maybe listen to some soft music, maybe this, maybe that – basically do whatever my whims are at that particular instant before I earmark the last half hour for showering and priming. I’ve realized when I do this I am much less cranky than if I were to madly go about getting ready robotically.
And to head towards that path, I think I have taken the first baby step.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to assimilate some of the above mentioned acts to my otherwise mundane morning routine. The caveat here is that I get out of bed at my regular hour, not a minute early, and do all that I fancy before heading into work. Of course that means I end up at the office later than most people. Thankfully, work hours are flexible enough and I login in the mornings, along with fulfilling my other impromptu wishes, to finish up anything that may require immediate attention.
While this takes me one step closer to my goal, I don’t want to set the tone this way.
Next, I want to slightly tweak this pattern to accommodate an early-to-rise practice. I want to be active an hour or two before my current schedule and go around doing whatever I’ve been doing the last few weeks. Is this too much to ask? Why does my heart fervently desire it while my mind/body puts up a fierce battle every morning as if it’s starved of sleep? How much time before this gratuitous scuffle settles? Hopefully, not long…
Page after page you turn the stained corners to delve deeper and deeper into the world that the book is gradually unfolding for you. It’s delightful, to say the least. It’s all that you’d hoped it would be, and some more. The people, the places, the situations – everything so colorful, so intense. The more you read, the more you want to read. The words, each and every one of them, woven so ingeniously into a story genuinely resonate with you. It puts you in an intense meditative state every time you immerse yourself into it.
But suddenly, something changes…
You stop abruptly, forgetting the story, the characters, as if somebody, out of the blue, questioned you about the dwindling appearance of the book in your hand. And you wonder why it doesn’t look minty fresh as it probably should.
Memories of the past dance in your mind’s eye as you take upon yourself the endeavor to pursue the story behind the story.
You remember – not a day or a specific date – but a vague picture of yourself walking out of a bookstore in your beloved city with this treasure in hand. There were other ones too, you recall, but this one… this one was somehow special. Because while the others calmly gathered around in your bag patiently waiting their turn to be dotingly picked up to be read (days, months or even years from now, who knows when), this one was an instant winner.
You remember opening the book so you could get started with reading this new found piece of word art during your commute home. As the train chugged along, you daringly dove into a sea of newness. You were blissfully unaware at that moment in time though about other plans that the universe was putting in place for you. After only a few pages in the train stopped and you closed the book.
You remember walking home that evening with this book in hand. The sky was pouring down, yet somehow, you seemed to have lacked the sense to put the book in a safer place. Perhaps under your jacket; perhaps in your bag. In hindsight, you are able to come up with ample ideas as to what you could’ve done, but back then idiocy had prevailed. Hence, every page, every corner got drenched in the rain.
You remember reaching home and religiously trying to dry the pages back to life. After spending a lot of time near the heater and after soaking in the afternoon sun sitting by the window for days in row, the book was somewhat fine. Alas, by then, though, you’d moved on to the next one only to put this on some seemingly invisible shelf of the over flowing bookshelf.
And it had been forgotten for years to come, until one day you finally set your eye on it.
Now, along with the story behind the written words, every page, every corner of this book has a story of its own to tell. Of the handful of minutes that it triumphed over the others by being chosen first. Of the once in lifetime experience of lashing clouds. Of being drenched. Of being stained. Of, finally, being rediscovered and relished, after years. Of being remembered as the pregnant book.
If I were honest with myself, I would happily declare that running isn’t one of my favorite activities. It’s tedious even at its best. So, it came as a huge shock last week when it seemed like it was drizzling out and I still got ready to go for a run. K repeatedly requested that I not go if it was raining. He was sick, and he was concerned I would be more prone to catching the bug if I got dripping wet in the cold conditions that prevailed outside. I assured him that I would come back up in case it was pouring down hard. What better pretext to skipping the jog than nature being the roadblock? Even as I was putting my shoes on, you see, I was playing out an excuse to return within five minutes of heading out with a solid justification.
My plan, however, went off track.
When the first drops of rain hit me as I stepped out, I knew I was going to embark on a journey that was so unusual for me. For years, I have seen people out for a jog in the rain or cold and I’ve wondered what kind of perseverance they must possess to make them do such a thing. And that evening, even if it were just for those few meager minutes, I was one of them. It wasn’t going to be an everyday thing, I knew that. It was a solitary event, I could feel that. But, for then, that was enough to keep me going.
I ran in the cold. I ran in the rain. I ran as the chilly air of my beloved city caressed my already red cheeks. I ran as the spongy shoes let in the water from the puddles that I futilely jumped over. I ran enough to make my body feel hot even in that frigid weather. I ran enough to feel invigorated for days to come. I ran even when the songs stopped playing on my iPod. I ran even when I ran out of things to carry on monologues in my mind.
I ran and I ran and I ran.
Upon the beginning of yet another week the snow falls, soft yet heavy. The weather seems resolute to beat my Monday blues. Everywhere, everything is sheathed in white, leaving me to experience a deep sense of calm in this morning hour of hustle and bustle. I can sit still on this windowsill all day long with some hot cocoa to sip on every once in a while and a book to distract me when the dazzle of the flurries becomes too bright to watch devotedly. Nevertheless it’s Monday, and duty calls.
As I head out, I am instantaneously made aware of the fact that I am not going to be spared of the fervor of the stormy sky. The glittering of the light flakes caught on my dark ensemble creates a new style that I’m happy to flaunt as I tread the familiar streets. I take the first few steps vigilantly, looking down and avoiding the patches of black ice so artfully hidden here and there or the puddles of slush stagnant in disarray.
Suddenly a huge block of snow falls a few feet in front of me as the wind forces it down from its resting place (was it one of the tree branches or was it from the top of one of the edifices nearby?) and addles me for a brief moment. And that flash in time is enough to erase my conscious restraint on my strides. I move, now, more freely.
I can’t see, but I can feel a thin layer of white covering my hair. The little flurries melt, and the tiny droplets trickle down my hair reaching my scalp or the back of my neck or, tingling me as they go. I wonder if my grey hair is visible anymore or if the snow has masked all of it successfully. Who needs hair dye to hide the grey when you can parade a head full of sparkles this way?
The walk, however long, doesn’t seem so. As I enter the office building, I vow to go to the nearest window every hour or so to marvel at the falling snow and sigh in pure contentment. But the day passes and my next glimpse of the splendor is only when I step out in the evening. The biting cold air hits my face as I open the door and dash into the road.
And off I go to live and write another chapter of love with my beloved snow.