Any way the wind blows

Doesn’t really matter to me (but it did).

My house is situated right across from the sewage treatment plant (STP) that is located within my community. As a result, I grew up with a foul stench emerging and wafting into my kitchen premises, or into my bedroom – the two rooms that faced the STP directly. To avoid that, we often shut windows earlier than normal, or just didn’t open up some windows – these big ones in our hall, for example. I refused to open two windows that faced the STP out of the fear that the smell would just diminish all my senses. It was actually horrendous. My father tried encouraging me to do this quite a few times, because of the cross-ventilation it offered when the other windows were opened up as well. I did not think the risk was worth the reward.

In fact, this STP business became a community-wide issue when I was younger. My mother was involved in a lot of the community politics, but basically, the STP issue, and any decisions made on the STP directly affected residents that resided in our row, particularly 4-5 houses, but benefited the entire community without impacting their living environment as much [because people consider their living environment to be limited to the things next to their house, and not as far away]. A lot of financial and egotistical challenges later, things ended up getting better because the community pulled through and under some able guidance and direction, ended up implementing a solution that helped us all live better lives.

As a result, the stench is pretty non-existent these days. From time to time, I get a whiff of the old sewage smell and I think that not much has changed in my life. Other times though, I’m more appreciative that my kitchen windows can now be left open and I can actually smell the food that I’m cooking, as opposed to the food that’s been processed first by a human body and then by a plant. I even opened up the hall windows a couple of times.

However, in an extremely selfish sense, I refused to take any chances with my bedroom. Till this morning, that is. There was a lovely breeze blowing all through this area today, and I could hear the breeze hitting the windows in other rooms. Its rare that we have warm, sunny days with this level of breeze. Usually breezy days are typical non-sunny days in this city. This felt like summer though, so I really did want to try the cross-ventilation stuff my father had told me about.

I took the plunge and opened up one of the windows that faced the STP, because I was not confident enough to try out two.

Throughout the day, I have had the most wonderful breeze in my room. In comic strips, breeze behind individuals or objects is represented through these wispy, curled lines to represent a natural force that moves them around. I felt those wispy lines behind me as  I walked around the house today. That, with the added positive of a lack of smell, has made me grateful to the wind-powers today.

I do wish Bangalore had more wind-power plants though. Today would have been a good electricity day. Another set of reflections though, is how temporary all this wind, and smell, and such is. They were a fixture of my childhood – I used to get so angry about some decisions the community took, and the kind of odour that pored into my home and confounded me daily. I look back today and whenever I think about opening windows, I can only think about the smell and the correlated, consequential anger. Nothing else. Wind moves around though, and emotions do too. I no longer breathe the same air I breathed ten years ago.

So any way the wind blows, shouldn’t really matter to me.

Reflections on 21

And the world’s got me dizzy again / You think after 22 years I’d be used to the spin / And it only feels worse when I stay in one place / So I’m always pacing around and walking away

–  Bright Eyes, “Land Locked Blues”

Today was my 22nd birthday. I’m blessed to have this life and I’m incredibly grateful for all the affection I received today. From my parents, to my family, who were kind enough to ferry me across the city so I would not spend the day without familiar company, to the friends who wished me – I’m just very grateful for all of it. This is my third consecutive birthday in Bengaluru, the city in which I’ve spent the most amount of time in my life. It’s also my first birthday in three years without a guest appearance being made by Taco Bell.

I’m heading into a new year of my life today, so I thought it was apt to look at some reflections on my 21st year, and to write some thoughts down for the things I want to ensure I begin to imbibe in the upcoming year.

This past one year has been incredibly tumultuous for me. I achieved a childhood dream I had held onto for a while, but then went on to commit a mistake I didn’t believe I would ever commit – and had to rebuild from there. It’s been a difficult journey since.

The past two months gave me the opportunity to think about what I want year 22 to look like. A while ago on this blog, I spoke about how I didn’t like waiting around for a special day to reflect and hit a reset button, or to start something that I was interested in starting in. At the same time, however, I’m incredibly cognizant of the kind of heightened significance I attach to maybe doing these reflective things on particular days of the year. My birthday is one of them. It’s nice to hit pause and genuinely appreciate everything the world gave me last year, everything I am today, and everything I am able to enjoy.

So what do I want from year 22?

I want to be more mindful of everything I do, and everything that happens around me. I want to wake up each day feeling nothing but gratitude. Not stressed, or worried about exams, or upcoming deadlines – just immense gratitude in my heart for everything. I’d like to make gratitude and mindfulness the two central pillars around which I live my life. I’m not an ungrateful person, but I’d like to increase how much I prioritize looking for the thing to be grateful for. I’d like for it to be second-nature to me, so while I experience sways in emotions and in circumstances, I’m always centered around this.

The last call I made tonight was to someone extremely important to me. The last time we had met each other in person, I was only 16 years old. He couldn’t believe I was 22, and to be fair, I can’t quite believe it either. I’ll grow into it in a week.