I saw my first snow in Seoul in the December of 2013. I was with K on his business trip and we’d snuck in an extra couple of days and made the most of every evening together while I’d wander off in the day. I remember the moment I first felt the snow because I felt it before I saw it, incredibly light flakes almost mistaken for a drizzle as we stepped out of Myeong-dong station. I remember wanting to scream and no voice escaping me. And soon, we were in a flurry and I remember every encounter with snow after that as if it were yesterday. And yet, every new experience with it, fills me with a renewed sense of wonder and lightness. There is something about – it makes the day bright with its pale bluish white blanket on everything and the world seems light even as you prod through it. Unlike my first experience with snow, I don’t remember when I got into instagram but over time, it has given me such an incredibly lovely community. I feel really pleased that I know so many of you through a little detail in your life and a conversation in my inbox. Today, I woke up to snow and love and caution from the community on my account being compromised and I cannot tell you how special it all has made me feel. None of you needed to do any of what you did, is what I realize. I have reported accounts in the past and never thought much about it, but today as each of you told me that you did, cautioning me what not to do, it filled me with such joy. And I had snow to celebrate it all.
I am wearing this lovely easy-breezy saree that my perima gifted me. I do have very generous perimas and chittis who have spoilt me silly and I don’t want that to change ever. The transition to being given sarees from salwar materials as cloth gifts happened in college when I started having events to wear them to and I really enjoyed that phase a lot – you know how you wait to be an adult to enjoy certain perks ? This saree had my heart the minute I saw those dainty parrots in green, blue and silver. I decided to pair this blouse just so I could wear this lovely glass jewellery set I got from Murano from our X’mas trip to Italy in 2015. When we were in Venice, K and I visited some glassmaking centres and watched some beautiful glassware being made. Those colours, the craftsmanship blew us away every time the glass was blown! We could not carry back anything heavy and I spotted some glass jewellery in one of the boutiques attached to the glassmaking centre. It was quite pricey and I was not sure if I wanted it so after dilly dallying, we left without buying it. We had walked about a kilometre from the place when I could take it no more and K who very calmly professed he had seen this coming, told me to hurry along and get it before they closed. I ran. I really did. I will never forget that evening as I ran across a couple of small bridges and my absolutely pathetic sense of direction left me in peace for that one moment. When I went back, the owner was almost getting ready to close and he smiled at me and said, “Ah, there you are! I knew you would come back darling.” I could not say a word or smile. I just picked this up, mumbled a thank you and walked back with the nervous energy and excitement that had not left me and K was sitting on the steps across the bridge waiting. It is in these moments I have felt acute elation and I am aware I can never quite put them in words. Will you believe it if I tell you I have never worn this jewellery ever as I kept waiting for an ultra special occasion? But today? After a lot of what we have been through, today is the surest and most special occasion to celebrate, after all.
I am wearing another of ma’s sarees that I flicked the moment my perima gave it to her when I was in university. It is so soft and slides off weightless. I know we have a lot of mix and match saree blouses now that really look stunning but I have a soft spot for blouse pieces that come as part of the saree. If you swipe, you can see the blouse that came with this and I got this stitched right away. It has been a while since I wore this so I was surprised the blouse still fits me. My perima had gotten some work done on it as well and as I took some pictures in our dining hall by the window, a million lights danced on the wall and it took me a few seconds to recognize that the sequins were dancing in the sunlight. K took some lovely pictures today but I am saving them for another day and sharing these timed selfies for today. For a while now, I have been thinking of a grey saree but somehow it never materialized but here is what I have realized – your saree will find you. They come to you in all forms and from all kinds of people, but they will find you when their time comes. And then they find their way to another.
I have a few green sarees and it was a bit of a battle between choosing my Nalli Silks saree from my wedding and a beautiful Godavari cotton and this. This is the first saree K and I bought together in Singapore for a puja. And it tickles me as I realise it is the last saree we bought together. I have bought sarees for myself after that but never with K. I think this is a good reminder to change that. So anyway, we picked this up in one of the shops in Little India. I had zero knowledge of sarees and weaves and K was just there because well, I had dragged him along though he did help me pick one. This has patchwork border and pallu and drapes so so easily. I have come to realise that draping takes 2 minutes or maybe 2 mins 50 seconds but getting a picture of yourself by yourself that does not just show your face takes eternity and I really had to squeeze it in my lunch hour as my tummy groaned for attention and it was quite gloomy outside. I wore my first necklace that my chitti gave me when I was in 3rd grade, it has stayed with me since and perhaps one can tell its age but for me, it will always be evergreen and the pun is not lost on me. Hope you are enjoying your Navratri, dearest people 🙂
There is something about fall that makes me do these captures almost every year now. As someone with intense olfaction and an undiagnosed synaesthesia, my senses are heightened when I see the leaves that seem to spread a golden carpet in our garden everywhere. The aromatic apparitions are coupled by strong emotions of course but that has not been seasonal. I try to keep track of what triggers what and where the cycle begins (?) but it is a complex web. Some of these are pure associations of a yesterday and I can discern those in a sniff. Like the pumpkin body butter that takes me to the streets of Auckland, the hand cream that takes me on a trip to Shropshire and a particularly green road that housed a teeny Dominos. There was a time I would buy a small perfume for every trip I made but eventually stopped. I realised the place brings with it, its own sensorial mirage and it is more lasting than anything money can buy. But this Kama Ayurveda oil surprised me – it takes me to the wire basket that my grandfather would carry, with several many paraphernalia all neatly arranged. He was an Ayurvedic doctor but the bag smelt of a mix of incense, old papers, freshly laundered garment and perhaps an uncture? But when I think of the bag, this is the smell I smell. And it oddly is also the smell I associate when I think of an afternoon when we made kohl at home with hibiscus. It smelt nothing of bringadi but that is also perhaps why it is a mirage. They bring me an overwhelming sense of comfort, despite what may seem like a sensorial overload. Something I have been going back to and will write about is also this beautiful book by Charlie Mackesy that I first saw on @namrathakumar29 feed. It is filled with the comfort and warmth that I can only describe through some of the above smells. I rarely write about this because it is hard to describe abstraction. So I dig into my Lara bar (stories I will tell you another time!) and watch the fleeting shower of leaves from my window.
Normalcy or normality is anything but that. It is truly something that I most strongly enjoy, crave for and pray for. Perfectly normal, routine days made of exceptionally special mundane acts. It is what I miss most when something abrupt strikes. It is what I am most nostalgic about. Sure, that thrilling day trip on that vacation 4 years ago is a grand memory to revisit and maybe even long for once in a while. But most often what my heart truly wants is all those everyday acts I do and did, that I no longer can. In these moments, I have found my way of making life feel grand. It is a tricky circle of realization – being or the fear of being deprived of something or someone tells you exactly what you love most. And a seemingly ordinary today is the grand memory trip of a further tomorrow.
I truly miss those days when I would look forward to coming back from a trip or excitedly go through an experience all the while rejoicing in the fact that I can write about it, reflect on it and read what another reader may have to say. Somewhere along the line, PhD happened and there was a lot of writing, reflections and critiques happening in the academic world, I met new people, learnt new stuff about the world and myself, travelled way more than I imagined and loved every single bit of it and my previous blog that I was decently consistent with, became forgotten. I always sought that enticing pocket of time where I could sit down and write to my heart’s content and express myself in the best way possible through words. That, my friends, clearly did not work. The thing is – I just had to do it without thinking too much into making it the best. Somewhere along, the boundaries between writing to express for myself and writing to express to the world became blurred and it is an everyday act of unlearning for. I often struggled struggle to find a balance between making a perfect start and just starting. It baffles me because I can be so impulsive at times and yet there are instances when this spontaneity alludes me and when a false sense of seeking perfection engulfs me. If anything, living through this pandemic, as privileged as it may be, has taught me to “just do it”. The start needs to be made.
Somewhere along, Instagram came along offering the chance to share bite sized reflections and some sneak peaks to moments. They may not capture the entire picture (ha!) but still, it felt good to immediately jot down my thoughts as and when I desired and share a moment as and when I wanted and of what I chose to. But my utter disregard for this space causes a niggling feeling every time I think of it. It isn’t that I have not much to say. Au contraire I have lots to say but I am also aware that writing down sometimes means teasing this jumble of thoughts and lending clarity to them, an act that requires patience and also time. In a way, this sort of commitment has kept me off too, I feel. It takes some dedication to listen to your thoughts, separate them, organise them and lend words to them. The more I think of this, the more I feel this is a basic act of survival and to me, happiness as well. And so it is, that I make another start with renewed vigour.
With this space, I wanted to document thoughts, travels and tit-bits as I manoeuvred through life. I hope to do that more in the days to come. All those travels are not going to write themselves, will they?