Take A Walk

Yep, the title of this post bears resemblance to the Passion Pit song. I’m sensing a theme with my writing in the sense that I tend to get into the rhythm of things whenever the story I’m writing about has a connection to music. Maybe it’s the rhythm of the song, the memory of the song, or even something as simple as the fact that this song is now playing on loop while I write this blog entry. Whatever it is, it works, and today, I’m grateful for it.

The thing I’ve been most disappointed by as a result of not writing regularly is how there’s no physical record of how I’ve spent each day in the last month. I love that about writing – about documenting. It helps me remember each day distinctly. I know I’ve been productive, there’s been a lot happening: spring cleaning, house repairs, a lot of thinking, and a fair amount of learning at the end of each day. It’s unfortunate not all of it was succesfully documented. Nonetheless, it’s integral that I look forward to all the things I will get to document soon.

Over the last two months, something I missed was the freedom of walking to places. I enjoy walking. When we visited New York, and when I took a trip through Netherlands and Germany, I was amazed by the amount I ended up learning about the city and the feel/vibe of the place by walking along the footpath and following a map till I reached my destination. I equally enjoyed exploring places with just the informational booklet and maybe an audio-guide with me, instead of tour guides showing me around. It just felt more organic, like my interaction with the environment I was surrounded by was not limited by how much another individual was willing to part with. So over the last two months, I’ve just missed the freedom of vast expanses I could explore – even paths I’ve tread on before.

Earlier this week, I had the first opportunity to step out. To do chores, no less, but step outside of my community by foot – to explore my neighbourhood once more, while taking the necessary precautions of course. I’ve never walked this stretch before in my life. Usually, I walk bits and pieces of the entire stretch – to get to a bus stop, or even go to the bakery outside the complex with my friends when they’re all around. I stepped out of the house to do bank work, and it was on that walk that I thought about how much the neighbourhood had changed since we first moved in. 

It’s getting closer and closer to 12 years since we relocated from Dubai to Bangalore, and something I’ve been quite vocal about is how protected I’ve been inside my gated community. When we first moved here, the place I live in pretty much had nothing surrounding it. The closest proper grocery shop was about 7 kilometers away, and you had to plan really carefully while stepping out so you finished all your work before getting back, just because of how inconvenient it was. The walk I took showed me the reality of today. Literally anything I could imagine or ever need was within the walking distance: from necessities like electrical supplies and staples (for which there are multiple vendors) to luxuries like bakery goods and fast food. I could walk and get everything I wanted.

I generally use my time in Bangalore to bring to  my parents’ attention that I wish I could drive our old Toyota Liva. I miss that car dearly. In the current circumstances with the coronavirus and the lack of public transport especially, I think the ease of access with a vehicle to move around (I could do with a scooter too!) was something I’ve brought up a couple of times, much to my parents’ dismay. It’s all a big joke – I’m very pleased they disposed of the car when they did, we had no immediate, urgent use for it. The thing I realized on the walk though, is that if we did indeed have a vehicle with us, I’d never take a walk like that.

It’s been a whole week since I took that walk, and a week since I started writing this blogpost. It’s the first post I left in my drafts for far too long, but actually completed, instead of trashing because it lost it’s relevance in my life. Since last Monday, I’ve taken these long walks every evening.

I love these walks. They get me out of the house, and they give me one hour to listen to an audiobook in peace, catch up on phone calls, and finish a bunch of other things I’d feel like procrastinating if I was in the house. Obviously there’s the fresh air and all that good stuff too.

The one thing I have mixed feelings about is that I’m becoming a pakka Bangalorean again. Three months can change you so much. Given the trope, I’ve generally resisted talking about Bangalore weather with people, even though I do boast about how wonderful it is on occassion. My roommate from college loves Bangalore weather far too much because of what his other friends have told him about it. Now, I can’t stop talking about it. I begin conversations with my parents every evening telling them how wonderful it is right now, how pleasant, how airy. My friend from Gurgaon tells me he’s suffering in some 40 degree heat, and I’m so grateful I escaped from Ahmedabad’s summer because here, the weather is the perfect representation of the Goldilocks principle. It isn’t too bright nor too gloomy. It isn’t too hot nor too cold. It’s bloody breezy, but it isn’t raining. 

It’s just right. 

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.