A Stranger’s Houseparty


I haven’t written anything new through October. It wasn’t a bad month though. Far from it. The rains petered out and I think I dealt with my least favorite season a lot more gracefully than I usually do. I know it often seems like I’m endlessly complaining. But only I know, within me, there is less being shaken up and torn asunder by life’s events.

A couple of interesting things happened.

I went cycling, twice, both on events that I saw advertised on Facebook. This wasn’t fashionable, professional adventuring or even glossy tourism. It was quite simply, going around places I’ve known my whole life, on cycles. The first trip was in South Bombay, through Colaba, Marine Drive and Nariman Point. The next week took us through Bandra’s winding lanes and slopes – oh, slopes! I never realised Bandra is such an up-and-down suburb. It was quite lovely. I took to cycling the same way I took to swimming, even after years and in a way that I’ve never quite taken to gymming. I was thrilled at my own body memory, my fingers moderating speed, my body angling for turns before my mind even considered it. And finally, I realised, just like swimming, this is an activity that allows you to be completely alone even in a crowd. You can cycle through a road full of people who don’t think like you do. You can share a swimming pool with other human bodies that are violent, petty, angry, sad. And in the water (or on a pair of wheels), gravity treats you the same. You have your own tiny universe of one in the midst of these million others. This is my favorite revelation of 2016.

And finally this accidental click. I haven't cycled in about 20 years, save one time in Goa in the early 2000s. Cycling really is well, cycling. You never forget. I found myself skating along, my thumb pressing the bell at turns and my left hand gently nudging the brake, working with my feet to slow down rather than stopping violently. It is also such a wonderful way to see the city. We covered a lot more ground than on foot. In addition, while it's a group activity, you're also in your own little cocoon, your cycle and you. The closest I've come to this is swimming, my favorite physical activity. Maybe it's time I buy myself a bicycle. bike #ride #rideout #helmet #cycle #bikelife #streetbike #bicycle #bicycling #cruisin #cruising #cycling #cyclist #cyclists #citysights #mumbai #SoBo #southbombay #Bikeurious #travelmastergogo #latergram #oldbombay #oldbombaycharm

A post shared by Ramya Pandyan (@ideasmithy) on

The second thing to happen, was my phone conking out this past Friday, just before the big Diwali weekend. To my own surprise, I didn’t panic, get angry or really well, even think about it. Four days passed before I even thought to initiate repairs, find a replacement or tell people around. It was a kind of automatic silence vow that just happened on its own. Was it a coincidence that Diwali didn’t seem as loud and scary as it usually does? I had an allergy attack late Sunday night but I went to sleep and then it was all okay.

Something is definitely happening. I’m slowing down, calming down. It’s not that I don’t feel as intensely anymore. It’s just each time an emotion surges, another part of me seems to look on and say, “Hmm, okay. Too tiring. Not worth it. It’ll be gone in an hour or two.” Is that a good thing? I know it’s certainly more convenient to the world around. But you know something? I don’t think I care that much about the world around me anymore.

There are people I care about, of course. But somehow mixed into my caring, I can suddenly see boundaries. I can see their limitations, I can see how my caring is conditional. And it seems to make more sense to not do, say or express certain things because these would be attempts to change something that cannot be changed (like people’s innate nature).

I am lonesome. It’s not a gnawing, desperate hunger, though. It’s that sense of walking through a roomful of friendly strangers who are not it. I don’t even know what it is. Maybe it’s a person or a place. Maybe it’s several people. Maybe it’s a job. I know the situation I am in is not immediately hostile. It’s not threatening as much as it’s annoying occasionally. And even those annoyances don’t feel worth getting upset over. I’m in the wrong room but it’s not a horrible place to be. Yeah. That’s where I’m at now.

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Image via Jakob Owens/Unsplash

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

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