Sharing Music

When I was younger, I watched a lot of these shows that weren’t animated. Lizzie McGuire, Hannah Montana, That’s So Raven, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and several others (Boy Meets World, Naturally, Sadie – the list is really endless). These shows had several on-point cultural references for the times, things I can only truly appreciate now looking back at those references. They were also my first window to life in North American high schools, and ended up becoming the kind of things I imagined my “high school life” would be – even though this was not remotely true. For starters, kids in those shows never studied for anything. There was no academic conversation whatsoever. How inaccurate, and deeply deceiving.

However, one of the most common tropes surrounded the manner in which high school romances, and romances in general developed in those shows. While the chit-chat and the romantic tension was built up carefully, there was always the exchange of music. Most frequently, this took place through a cassette or a CD. A mixtape of music conveyed so much in these shows.  They were tools to tell someone how you feel about them, to tell someone the kind of music they reminded you about, or to share with them music that you found fascinating – to move the romantic tension along.

Even a book I read recently, Eleanor & Park, continued that trope. The protagonists clearly had a romantic relationship ongoing, and Park made a mixtape of music he enjoyed to share with Eleanor, to create a fresh point of conversation with her.

To my mind then, mixtapes and music offered up the perfect way to show someone you cared about them. The identity that music possessed was so intertwined with this idea of appreciation for me – because it was physically impossible to think about sworn enemies exchanging a mixtape before war to convey how much they detested each other.

Today I had the opportunity to receive music recommendations from a friend, and give music recommendations to another friend. While this wasn’t romantic by any stretch of the imagination, all I experienced today was the joy that coincides and is so well-contained when you share music with someone. Long may this continue.

Science, Actually | Where The Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing,
by Delia Owens
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons (2019)
Rating: *****

Introduction

My book picks this year have been eclectic, but that’s the kind of spread that brings me the most amount of joy in my reading. Over the last few years there’s been a surge in the volume of historical fiction being read. I tried putting the genre aside for a while, but there’s something wonderful about being able to travel through time and live in a distinct period and learn about the culture that prevailed: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Delia Owens’ debut novel shows us just about all of it, and is going to rank high on my year-end list for sure.

Plot 

The main storyline takes us through the life of Kya Clark, between 1952 and 1970 (ages 6 through 25) as she grows up alone in a shack in the wet wilderness of North Carolina, having been abandoned by everyone in her family. We understand early on that Kya is a survivor, foraging and teaching herself skills to participate in a limited manner in the community, to get her essential supplies among other things. To the townspeople though, Kya is labelled as “the Marsh Girl”, uneducated, poor, and living alone and disconnected from the rest of civilized society. Owens introduces the centerpiece of the book: Kya is on trial for the murder of Chase Andrews, a rich town kid who is/was her love interest. Around the trial, Owens threads us along on a date-jumbled journey to understand the harsh reality of Kya’s life, and the reality that the public understands.

Nature 

This is a very vivid book. One of the things I learned after completing it was that Delia Owens is an American wildlife scientist. This shines through in her writing, which in some portions is so intricate – while describing foliage, or describing the kind of fish that Kya manages to get her hands on. Owens is skilfully able to tread this fine line between painting a perfect picture through her words, without her descriptions becoming excessive. That balance stems from the fact that Kya is gifted in her own understanding of wildlife and nature, allowing for nature to feature as a character, almost, upon which both Kya, and the furtherance of the book’s plot and narrative rests.

Kya’s reference points all stem from her surrounding environment, a fact that mirrors reality. Nature clearly plays a role in our upbringing (cue the nature versus nurture debate), and Kya is no different. This use of nature though, in making it the focal point of Kya’s life, allows for her depiction as a feral being, Mowgli-esque. Her isolation enables her to understand human interactions with nature far better than others, and her relationship with the environment is fundamental to her identity. Owens’ exposition of this relationship, by including wordy descriptions of the environment while critical scenes are taking place: abandonment, return, and love, made me feel that Kya had a personal relationship with nature that was left unexplored, and as all good books do – it left me wondering what was left unsaid about that relationship, and where it could go next.

Class 

Historical fiction leans on conflict and division very frequently, and this book is no different, relying on the class divide to allow for the development of the trial, and the tension in that trial even more. Kya is supported by a minority of the population, and her exclusion from the rest of the public speaks to her background and economic class. However, something I found interesting is that for a book set in 1950’s North Carolina, there was little direct mention of race – a choice that I found curious. Where race is introduced, it didn’t necessarily play a large factor in the book’s plot development – a creative choice I respect. The substitution with economic class allows for a less-traditional exploration of the divide in North Carolina at the time, and one I admired.

Conclusion

This was understandably one of the bestsellers last year. I’d sit and read it again in a heartbeat. Would recommend highly.

Irregularity

I sat down to write this after dinner, which is when it struck me that I hadn’t posted a blogpost for five whole days. I didn’t even realize it had been that long. After putting off writing on the 26th, I kept telling myself I’d write one the next day, and the day after, and so on, till this evening. Time flies by, and while this blog has meant several things to me, it’s always been a record of time going by. It was bitter to realize I hadn’t recorded time for the last five days.

I’ve been enjoying all this time we’ve been given to be at home. University didn’t figure out an online teaching/learning system to implement for us, so I don’t have classes to attend, which means I’ve genuinely got all 24 hours to myself. I thought I had a routine nailed down, one that included all this writing and researching I’ve wanted to do. I still think I do have a reasonable routine set up for myself, but the consistency part is probably going to take a lot more effort.

One of the things I wanted to do on the blog this year was to ensure that my pieces were more topical. Rather than providing a snapshot of my day, I hoped to pick out a singular theme each day and write longer essays about them. As you may be able to tell, today’s theme is irregularity.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he explains the 10,000 Hour Rule. That rule [which has since been slightly debunked by studies], states that enough practice can make a master of anyone. The 10,000 hour mark was used as a yardstick. Practice anything for 10,000 hours, and you can perfect it. Of course, the regular caveats, of practicing in a certain method appropriate to your craft apply. Now, the 10,000 hour rule finds itself in various forms in our everyday lives. There are adages about how habits only ever build up over time, and how it is, only with repetition that things feel, well, natural.

I’ve never liked that. My concern stems out of my sheer impatience. I hate having to wait to see tangible results, and being slow and steady with things has never been a trait I possessed. Early memories of this come from UCMAS classes. UCMAS, for the uninitiated, is an abacus program. Learning the abacus improves the speed and accuracy at which you perform basic mathematical operations. I attended those classes for a year (or two – my memory is foggy). Once I learned the basic operations through a few months, my patience began to grow thin. The UCMAS Foundation essentially made us do repetitions and variations of exercises, so the abacus technique really drilled into our heads. After a month of repetition on a particular level, I felt that I had gotten the hang of it. I was applying it reasonably well in class, to good results, but I was very bored of continuing to repeat through the levels. I became cranky, did homework irregularly, using a calculator, when available to complete some incomplete sums – almost feeling a sense of complacency with the skill. I quit UCMAS after that. My parents realized it wasn’t for me. At least, that was the easy way to put it.

I’m irregular with things that require diligent practice too. My piano has been a start/stop endeavour that I’ve recounted the tale of quite often. However, it isn’t exclusively owing to my disillusionment with what I was being taught. It was also because I found it boring to practice the same thing over and over again. Rather, I told myself I found it boring. I knew, and have known for a while, that I’ve wanted to learn the violin, and it felt like I was spending all this time learning the wrong instrument. It felt unnatural. My drive fell, and as my effort dipped, so did all the work I had put in for several years. By 12th, I could play things I heard, because I picked up a new skill with my free time, but my classical training basically deteriorated far enough, that I had to pretty much start from scratch to develop the feeling in my fingers for the piano keys. It’s going to take a while.

These two examples are from different times in my life, although they illustrate the general premise that I’ve had to ultimately let go of things because I’ve been irregular with them. I don’t know what, or how good I would’ve become at Math (I love Math) if I had continued with the abacus, or, where I’d be today had I never stopped my piano lessons. I don’t have regrets today, because I try to live without them, but I find it intriguing that this pattern of irregularity stands out.

A distinct memory of getting into some sense of regularity and habit stems from childhood again. I had this awful habit of biting my nails, which my dad honestly worked hard to get out of me. While my memory of the process is hazy, I do know it took quite a long time. Since then though, I’ve had these neatly trimmed nails because we replaced the biting habit with this cyclical habit of allowing my nails to grow to a particular length, and cutting them immediately after they pass that threshold. It’s almost like an invisible marker line, where I know exactly when I’m due for a cut. Often, thanks to routine and regular repetition, I can tell 3-4 days out that they’ll begin to irritate me in a few days.

Another distinct memory comes from board examinations, where studying irregularly would have cost me in academic results at the time. In Grades 10, 11 and 12, I cannot honestly remember one month where I wasn’t studying seriously for a test or an exam of some kind. While today, with my friends, I often wonder why I took them as seriously as I did (I could have afforded a bit of a break), I do know that I settled into habit then. Especially around the study holidays, when I was the captain of my own ship, the master of my own fate.

On both these occasions, I could see some tangible metric or consequence to a lack of regularity or repetition. For me, it feels like its easier to build routine or habit when there’s a result-oriented process in place. It’s almost tougher to build something into the day-to-day purely because it brings me happiness, or something of the sort.

My workaround has conveniently been to work-in some tangible goals into everything I’m doing, including those hobbies I genuinely just want to enjoy without much pressure. At the moment, it doesn’t feel like it’s adding pressure to any of these activities, but I guess I should let go of some of that.

Build routine for the sake of it, because it’s important.

You know what made me think about all of this? Cleaning the house on the day-to-day. There’s no real result to doing every day, except a cleaner environment to live in – and that’s something the hostel has sort of taught me to be a little more lax about, so to speak. However, a lack of cleaning routine leads to the kind of irregularity that leads to random mess being in places it ought not to be. That’s something I’d like to avoid, and maybe all the trash I throw out is a large metaphor for all the bad, irregular habits I’m shedding.

Or maybe all of this is a thought experiment that will never see the light of day. Only time will tell.

Quarantine of Solace

The title is an excellent James Bond reference that I am hopeful everybody who reads this blog will be able to recognize.

Today was Ugadi, the New Year festival for some South Indian states. As such, my aunt and uncle seemed rather disappointed that I was unable to join them for the festivities – however limited they might be, owing to the present circumstances. I must admit, I was sad too. Being with family on special events like today would’ve meant some celebratory food – like sweet dishes, or something to relish and keep the day in my memory. In preparation though, my chikamma had sent me a payasa recipe, and I was very keen to try it out. Alas, this morning I forgot that I wanted to make payasa, and I ate corn flakes for breakfast, exhausting my milk supply.

I have vowed to make myself some payasa when I secure milk next – to celebrate the festival.

Not all was lost though. I had Shrikhand at home and ate that after my bath to ring in the new year.

This morning a friend of mine told me that a New Year tradition she had followed in her household was to practice, on New Years’ Day, everything you hoped the year would bring. I took this to heart, and one of the things I want this year to bring – for me, is the ability to let go of materialistic substances. Things that I no longer have use for, I would rather give to people who will be able to make use and take care of them. Thus, this afternoon, after motivating myself by reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I set away on the adventure of a lifetime: figuring out what books I would donate whenever I could donate next.

My books have always been a large source of joy for me. Before leaving to University, I had amassed a fair number of books for my library. I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder when it comes to books, and despite my reservations about re-reading books, I’m okay with it when it’s a hard copy. My childhood dream was to have a library of books available to me so I could set something up for the community I stayed in, so people could walk in and read, and walk out with borrowed books. Without any membership fees, just to encourage reading. I read so much as a child. My mum used to hide my books from me during exams – by placing them at a height I could not reach, so I would focus on my studies.

At University though, I’ve moved onto reading ebooks. I was genuinely inspired by the KonMari method and wanted to see if it would be effective.

So I held my first book up. No bodily response.

Then I held up Harry Potter. Immediate bodily response.

That’s when I figured out what sparking joy felt like. That’s bought me solace today. Long may my cleaning spree go. Hopefully, the excesses in my life disappear.

Rhythm

I love Formula One. I’ve been following the sport for a while, perhaps, 2008/09, when the Force India entry was announced. However, I have memories of watching the sport from even further back. The old Star Sports used to telecast races, and over my summer vacations, where it was difficult to get me away from the television set (only my grandfather could), I’ve watched several replays of races and Schumacher and Alonso wins. It’s why I can connect with the sound of the old Formula One engines. A large part of my childhood desire to become an automobile engineer stemmed from Formula One. In fact, my paternal grandmother has the earliest car design I did. I drew a sketchy McLaren F1 (SLR) with a Sky Blue finish (basically colouring in with sky blue).

What I admire about Formula One drivers among several things is that I’ve noticed them talk about driving as a matter of rhythm – of settling into a rhythm with a particular circuit and your own car. Athletes talk about this often, in several different ways, referring to this as a “zone” they enter, or something of the sort. Drivers talk about this in terms of how they ensure they’re consistently hitting their racing lines – especially in wet weather conditions. Building that rhythm means you end up settling into a groove where you keep track of movements and observe them so closely that you’re hitting your marks every single time.

I attended Athletics training for a few months in April-May 2014. Me, an athlete. My mother forced me to go because I needed to stay in shape (I quit quickly) and we knew the coach. That was the first time I learned about rhythm – while running. He pushed us to “lift off” at certain points on the run, and we had to go flat out, essentially training our body to select gears at different points on a run.

Today, I ran around solo on the field inside my gated community. Running in circles gets really repetitive after a while, but the thing I was trying to do today, was to see if I could hit the same spots on the field every time I came around – every lap I did. To be like a Formula One racer, except with my feet. Like a racing line I had to follow.

It took a few laps of conscious effort, which soon descended into subconscious effort. My run tracker seemed to take notice because I couldn’t differentiate between laps on the run – they overlapped.

I settled into a rhythm while running today, through some external help. Long may it continue.

Metamorphosis

I killed a cockroach today.

I was picking up some books I had to study – right off the surface of my desk, when I saw a dark brown colour, contrasting against the pale wood of the tabletop. I moved toward it, and it moved away. Instantly, I was aware that this dark brown thing was alive, and I rushed down to the ground floor bathroom to collect my Hit! spray, while saying a silent prayer that the insect, whatever it was, remained in place till I got back. I climbed back up, 2 steps at a time, and got back to my room, back in position, spray in front of my body, only to see that it was a cockroach. I sprayed violently, furiously, dousing all my books in Hit! spray (which has the loveliest lemon scent). The cockroach was unnerved, it moved into the spray, moved around, and continued, well, living. Unaffected by all my spraying. I looked at my Hit! spray’s label. It said for flies and mosquitoes only.

I was flabbergasted. My only weapon was useless. I tracked the cockroach’s movements, as it fluttered around and elected to open up its wings, almost tauntingly. My eyes darted with its every move. The cockroach moved to the floor, and I instantly jumped back, worried it would come at me.

I’ve been wearing the same chappals in my house for the past 8 years. These heavy, brown, orthopaedic chappals, which were meant to (and did successfully) aid my flat foot. I moved one foot up, slowly, and brought down my full weight onto the cockroach, which was heading for my beloved piano. I was sure I had crushed it, and raised my foot. The cockroach scurried away, seeking refuge in a small gap between my piano and my desk. I took off the chappal. It was in my hand, and I jabbed at the cockroach a couple of times, ensuring I had taken away its ability to move.

Satisfied, I sat down on my beanbag. This was the most barbaric, aggressive, violent person I had been, and I texted my parents to relay all this information to them, to speak to them to clear my frustration.

One hour passed. I was calmer now. Drinking a lot of water had helped.

I went to charge my phone, right by my piano. I saw the cockroach continuing to writhe away. I got my dustpan, picked it up, and tossed the cockroach away to the curb.

Sitting on my beanbag now, all I’m thinking about is why I tried to kill it so. What was it about this little brown creature that induced so much anger in me, and why?

As I’ve said several times on this blog, I visited India every summer break to stay with my grandparents growing up. I have several fond memories of all of those trips. However, no matter how much I try, I cannot dislocate the position that cockroaches have occupied in my memory. They were everywhere in my grandparents’ house. In the kitchen, in the halls, in the bedrooms, in the bathrooms. I felt unsafe, intruded upon, hurt. At night, I felt fear – that one of those things would scurry up my legs, with their little feet, or, walk up my body and perch themselves on my nose, their home for the night.

 Seeing that cockroach, the first cockroach I’ve seen in a while (because, despite poor hygiene, the washrooms at University have a rather small, young population of roaches, so you see them infrequently) took me back to that place all over again. Largely because it had entered the place I slept, my room. All I could think about for those few minutes was this little thing deciding to co-exist in the same space as I, and rage soared through my blood.

Looking back now, all of this is rather foolish, and I do feel a sense of guilt for killing the insect. I wish I had the prudence and patience to trap it and let it out of my home.

I will wake up tomorrow more humane, more peaceful.

That is my metamorphosis.

Wordy Self-Portraits | Min Kamp, by Karl Ove Knausgård

Introduction

The fourth book in this series received 4-stars, but other than that, I gave the remaining five books 5-stars (on a scale of 5). Now that ratings are out of the way, let’s get cracking.

Narrative non-fiction is the kind of non-fiction that feels the easiest to read because it never feels like you’re studying – which is often a feeling even the best-written non-fiction books give me. Autobiographies and biographical writing is generally therefore the least tedious real-life material to consume. As a natural consequence, I’m pretty big on the genre. Discovering that Knausgaard (and I will request you to bear with the spelling through this piece) existed was therefore pretty astounding. I read the first book in the series through December, and committed to it at the beginning of the year – embarking on a journey of too many pages.

The Title

If you read the title – I’m sure you’re going to think about Adolf Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf. Now, there’s this inquisition about whether or Knausgaard is an anti-semite for utilizing a title so similar to Hitler’s work for his own. The books however, rarely delve into political expression, using humour in some portions to poke shots at how politically correct Swedish individuals are. Discussion about the title only stems in the last book, however, that is, as Knausgaard has admitted, an afterthought, and delves more into Hitler than any justification about the title itself. There is no definitive answer for why Knausgaard chose the title, other than the fact that it appealed to him. It has, however, sparked off  a large debate about what associations to Hitler are permissible (and was printed in Germany under a different title).

Slow, Methodical Writing

Naturally, if someone is able to write six books about various happenings in their lives, they ought to be able to write well. Knausgaard definitely done that, however, this is not a light read. This is largely because it’s almost as if Knausgaard opens the only door guarding his mind and lets slip any veils that exist between his mind and ours. Things are extremely detailed. At various times, he slips into a comprehensive, minute account of the most minor, inconsequential actions. This is especially true of physical activities that form a part of his daily routine, like washing dishes, or setting tables.

While that may not appeal to everyone, I found that across the first two books, which deal with the death of his father and his marriage, this minute detailing helps to portray how solitary the struggle that Knausgaard faces is. This isn’t something he shares with anybody – his grief, his joy, they’re all emotions he experiences alone, and thus, it’s almost as though he experiences them more fully.

Existentialism

Across all six books, there’s a definitive quest for a sense of purpose. This is prominent in books two and three, which he writes after about four or five years of the first one, and the money is running out. What I appreciated was how much he engages with these thoughts of existentialism and a quest for purpose, and how often he oscillates between trying to find that purpose and assuaging himself that life doesn’t need to have fixed purpose at every point of time. There are segments where Knausgaard admits to the writing being forced, out of the need to feel purposeful. That resonated with me because I was trying to figure out how I felt about my hobbies at the time: things I did purely for the joy of doing them – and how seriously I wanted to pursue those passions.

Conclusions 

As you can tell, I didn’t ponder over the book too much. I enjoyed it because it felt like the kind of writing I wish to pursue on my own blog. I’d recommend reading it, because everyone’s life has moments we can relate to as human beings, experiences so fundamental that they feel shared. Knausgaard’s life is no different, and you will find atleast one page (of the many) that you feel connected to. That alone makes the journey worthwhile.

Janta Curfew

In essence, the Government requested us, very kindly, to stay at home for the day. That wasn’t new, given that most people were at home anyway. Aside from that was the instruction to ensure that you give support staff the day off as well (so they can stay at home too), and then the request to applaud healthcare workers and staff at 5pm.

This novel coronavirus situation is the first time I’ve seen a pandemic of this kind. I was relatively younger when the SARS and Swine Flu outbreaks occurred, and was not directly impacted by Ebola because it was so concentrated. This is the first time I think we’ve felt the brunt of something that could directly affect all of us, and I think it’s why we’re all collectively trying to stay as informed as possible about everything taking place. Information breeds a sense of security, and a sense of power over the unpredictable. It carries with it a sense of safety as well: that having the information we have, and staying as informed as possible will help us take better individual and collective decisions that will lead to the most positive outcome: containment and reduction in the spread of this virus across the globe.

I’m no different. I’m sitting at home reading as much as I can about this, particularly on the regulatory side. Looking at the responses States have been taking – individually and collectively has been fascinating. Some States have clearly placed people at the forefront of all their considerations in their decision-making, while others place things ancillary to people themselves – things that rely on human labour (like economies) at the forefront. India’s response so far was puzzling – and it continues to be puzzling to me for several reasons. It feels like everyone’s taking it one day at a time, and I feel like a more thorough analysis is only possible in hindsight.

However, today, following the Prime Minister’s address a couple of days back, was the first time we heard the Center issue this kind of public clarion call for individual action. I have my reservations about this whole one-day curfew business, given the weight of scientific evidence suggesting the need for a longer curfew – and I have my reservations about why financial stimuli and aid to the largest extent possible has not been granted to State Governments, aside from other policy reservations as well. What this entire exercise told me about though, was the cult of personality that the Prime Minister is able to ride on at present.

We may be critical of several things, but it felt like hearing the Prime Minister’s message and phrasing brought some peace to individuals who were panicking, and led to some unity in voice and collective direction to stay at home – forcing smarter decision making by some people who continued to go out at all times. Aside from that, I saw a lot of videos of applause, and people genuinely took to it. If I was applauded, I know I would’ve been motivated to continue putting in the effort into anything I was being applauded for, so I understood how this would impact the psyche of most medical professionals.

I don’t support the ruling party – I ought to make that clear. There are multiple reasons for that. What I do hope for though, is that decisive action is taken over the next few days. It is clear that the Prime Minister enjoys the support of a majority portion of our nation – people will trust what he says, so I’m curious to see what his next words are – and what is called for.

In that hope, however, I remember that there is a lot that the Prime Minister has not thrown his words behind, and remain cautious about the things to come.

Amorphous (Time)

This period of isolation is not excellent, but necessary. One of the consequences I’ve observed is that I wake up feeling like the day is only a continuation of the previous day – that it isn’t fresh or new, and that the 8 hours I’ve slept has passed by as if it’s just been a nap and nothing more. That’s helped me try to build a routine because I’m terrified that I won’t realize how much time is going by just like this, and I remind myself each morning when I bathe that I’m stepping into a fresh day, which will bring a new set of challenges with it, things I’ll have to tackle on my own.

I think yesterday and today showed me that I could definitely have some variation in my life despite the times. Yesterday, right on cue, because it rained, this city was beautiful. I spent a large part of the evening thinking about how long it had been since I had seen a summer rain here – and it’s definitely been more than 5 years, because I’ve not been here in March since 2015. For sure. The rain is not something I enjoy at all, but it brings back memories of what my days used to be like as a child studying for boards or pre-boards when these sudden rains hit us – and I love that feeling, because I’m sitting in the same chair, with a similar orientation, just studying different things now. Some things don’t change though, and right on cue, just as the rain began, my terrace clogged up – which meant stepping out and cleaning that in the rain, which is always enjoyable. I actually didn’t mind that so much – but it definitely drove home the fact that I would remember 20 March 2020 as yet another day that I cleaned my terrace.

Today, though, I fought off ants. Which is not an amusing story and is still something I’m disgruntled by, so I shall save it for another time.

Leisure Time

I’ve spent a large portion of the past three months revelling in the glory of having fewer classes to attend than a majority of my University’s population, and fewer responsibilities than I previously held. All of that meant a large amount of free time pretty much after 12 each day. My winter was spent figuring out how I’d spend all this free time, and for the most part, I’ve been able to stick to doing whatever I had aimed to do with all this extra time I had been granted – a large goal of which was to chill a little by focusing on my other hobbies.

Coming back home and not having online classes to attend has essentially stripped me of three hours of moving around physically that I would ordinarily have partaken in. And thus, I am left with these swathes of free time. My day is essentially my canvas, and I appear to be left in the sweet position of being the artist. My conundrum is that I’m rather poor with paints – they make me feel very fidgety and if given a chance, I would throw paint across my canvas, the entire thing, and call the outcome art. Which naturally means that the extra time bothered me slightly.

I’m ever so grateful however that I’m in a position where I need to figure out meals, so cooking is occupying some of that free time. The other thing I’m extremely thankful for is that I rediscovered the reading bug a couple of years ago. That, coupled with YouTube, and some FIFA and piano – and everything else thrown into the picture has seen the day go by in a jiffy, and I have reached the end feeling rather tired and ready to be tucked into bed.

Tomorrow, I will do more household chores – and fill all this leisure time with everything I have put off for years together (and conveniently blamed Law School for).

Gated

The onslaught of COVID-19 has seen us evacuate the University premises and find safe havens elsewhere. After considering some options, as I had to, I have returned to my childhood home. Today’s my first full day back, and with my new routine and the task of managing household affairs, I feel like a regular neighbourhood Uncle. Minus the job to go to, I can, in my present state imagine a life like this.

Wake up early, go for a run, meditate, bathe, read the newspaper, eat breakfast, do some work, cook & eat lunch, get household chores completed, get to more work, cook & eat dinner, spend time reading, and sleep.

And repeat.

Today, on my run, all I could think about was how much I feel like I’ve taken the gated community I live in for granted. Growing up at least. I loved living here. Never complained about it or anything, but it feels like I took the amenities and facilities I was provided, and the comfort that I lived in for a ride. My friends visited me in my compound in May 2019, and a distinct thought they all relayed to me was that I lived in a resort of some kind. I’ve always maintained that the locality I live in is distinct and atypical of the rest of the city. You would be forgiven for forgetting you were in this city. It smells different. The people are different, the roads are different. The rules are different here. Within the gated community I stay in, things take on an even more absurd shape and colour. Squabbles are more petty than anywhere else I’ve ever seen in my life, and egos run high within a small community trying to get by.

It’s essentially a microcosm of any society, so to speak. I guess it just takes on a different sheen in this part of town.

However, the other part the run showed me was the protection this gated community offered. It was my safe place. It always had been. I had come back here on terrible days at school and let those terrible days subside. I had allowed good days to get better. I had used the community as a crutch on innumerable occasions, especially over the past five years at University.

Now with this COVID-19, this gated community offers no unessential human interaction, but a supply of groceries whenever you need it.

It’s the perfect isolation zone.

Think Week

As you may have noticed if you follow the blog, there were no posts for the past week. This isn’t because I ran out of things to share. Quite the opposite, given that the last week saw several happenings in my life. I decided not to write for a week to take some time to think, to read & relax, and put all these thoughts I was having about several things into some form. I’m waiting for some decisions that affect how I spend the better part of my 2020-21, which was causing me to build up several nerves, and I didn’t really feel like pouring my energy into writing in the time period. Given that writing is a part of every single evening, not having to type up blog posts or share everything going through my head was a big break from routine, a break that had a spillover effect on other parts of my routine too. That’s allowed me to reflect and shake up a couple of things I was displeased with, and prioritize things I was comfortable with and would like to focus more time on – things I’m very grateful for.

This think week felt a lot like a quarterly review, essentially.

Things around me are changing fairly rapidly, what with COVID-19 and coronavirus requiring everyone’s attention and concern, and a slew of misinformation that needs to be waded through to figure out how best to be safe. Classes have been suspended for two weeks, and it looks likely that our living quarters and mess facilities will also be shutting down soon. I’m likely to figure out things one day at a time. Since this is our last semester, several decisions being made are being questioned by me on the basis of emotion alone, but I’ve got to keep logic front and center here. It’s pretty worrying how unprepared we are as a global community for something of this scale.