Months 2, 3 & 4: A Recap
(This was meant to be published a while ago but I had not gotten around to doing it so this is going to be a quick recap of my life over the past three months — in two parts)
It has been a couple of months and I figured that maybe for the sake of data (to figure out how I spend my time), I should write down how my last three months were spent. This is of course going to be a retrospective and therefore slightly inaccurate but it will do.
We left for Bangalore within a week after coming back from the literature festival in Jaipur. What was supposed to be a week in Bangalore turned out to be more than two. There was a lot planned with visits to the doctors, attending a wedding and meeting friends. We had also planned to cycle back to Chennai through Thiruvanamalai.
I met friends who I had not seen in over six months and my pulmonologist who I had not seen for even longer than that. We also spent every morning at the Ayurvedic clinic where we got an hour long oil massage, a steam and then some medicinal ghee up our butts. It was a slightly traumatic experience to begin with but I coped. Other than that, we attended a friend’s wedding, a friend’s birthday party and had a pizza making gathering with friends, burrata and bocconcini. It was also the first time in over eight months, I got to live alone with my partner for more than two days. With all the traveling, there has been very little alone time and I enjoyed having that time alone with him to read books and chat.
We had also decided that we would cycle back from Bangalore to Chennai through Thiruvanamalai and stay a couple of days in Thiruvannamalai to assess if it was a viable for us to make it our base for a few months of the year. A route was mapped through Krishnagiri and Melmaruvathur and we found places to stay at all these stops, bought panniers and filled up our water bottles. On the first ride out which started at 6 AM, everything seemed dandy except for the part where we had no sunscreen and when we reached Krishnagiri (100 kms in) in the afternoon, any part of our body that was slightly exposed was burnt, red and peeling. We canceled the rest of this well planned trip, sent our bicycles to a godown in Chennai and took buses to Thiruvannamalai and then to Chennai. Thiruvannamalai was hot and the city was crowded. It was a hard trip to make especially with the sunburns and I was really glad to be back at my parents with இளநீர் and air conditioning.
As soon as we got home, my partner left to attend a 20-Day Vipassana course with really no time to heal and I stayed in Chennai and recuperated for five more days and then left again to Jaipur to attend my 10 day course. My diet, sleep schedule, exercise schedule and meditation schedule had fallen off so I was looking forward to getting some of that back on track at the end of 10 days.
I attended my fourth 10-day Vipassana Course in Dhamma Thali in Jaipur. It is situated quite close to the city but it feels very remote and the view of the mountains are there everyday with a backdrop of the the pagoda. There were hundreds of peafowl roosting every evening on the trees and even more monkeys being agents of chaos on every tree at the center. My 10-days at the center were made up of me attempting not to be distracted by the sheer number of birds there: there were different kinds of swallows, treepies, sunbirds, bee eaters, coucals, doves, lapwings, wagtails, starlings, barbets, parakeets, and more. I imagine this centre is very very distracting for a birder. This was also the largest course I had been a part of, with about 125 women.
The course ended a day before Holi and I got to spend Holi and a few more days in Jaipur with new friends, it was a bit intense attempting to celebrate after the course ended and we quickly went from celebrating to hiding and waiting for the celebrations to pass. During the coming days, I managed to go for a few runs and hold on to some semblance of a schedule before it all fell apart. Four days later, I made my way to Gujarat to wait and pick up my partner up from his 20-day course in Kutch and we spent a couple of days in the village of Mandavi before we made our way to Sikkim.
We the spent around a month in Sikkim, the first few days in Gangtok, figuring out our bearings at a lovely little bookshop+cafe+airbnb (Rachna books) and then headed to Samdong (west of Gangtok), where we spent the rest of our month. Samdong is a beautiful little village with terraced farms and small colorful houses. We stayed in one of those houses with the aunt and uncle of a friend. Our temporary home had a bedroom, a makeshift kitchen, and a bathroom outside. Our host family gave us fresh milk and ghee (from their cows) and broccoli, beans, and potatoes from their garden.
We quickly got ourselves into a routine, every morning, consisted of waking up at 5:00 AM, heading to the monastery close by to meditate, making ourselves multiple cups of tea to enjoy with breakfast, which we in turn enjoyed with books, sunrise, and a kitten. After breakfast we would shower and head to Dhamma Sineru for the day. We came back home around 7 PM and cooked dinner, which we often ate by candle light due to Sikkim’s frequent power cuts.
We got to spend a lot of time at Dhamma Sineru and watch the working of a centre, which was very interesting. We volunteered for the 10-day course taught by the regional teacher, a headstrong 92 year old woman — probably the most impressive person I have met to date. As soon as the course ended we made our way back to Chennai, where we are currently and will remain for two weeks before heading to Ireland and then to Canada.
Gully boy (Dir: Zoya Akhtar)
Kumbalangi nights (Dir: Fahadh Fassil)
Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race — Reni Eddo Lodge
Factfulness — Hans Rosling
The Genetics of Health — Sharad. P. Paul
My struggle (Part 1 & 2) -Karl Ove Knausguard
Parable of the Sower — Octavia Butler
Gene Machine: The race to decipher the secrets of the ribosome — Venki Ramakrishnan
Sikkim: Requiem for a Himalayan kingdom — Andrew Duff
Invisible Libraries — Lawrence Liang (etc..)
For the benefit of many: Talks and answers to questions from Vipassana Students — S.N.Goenka