Three-Quarterly Review

While everyone in the accounts departments sits heavy on numbers and does a stock-taking quarter-by-quarter of the year that was, it occurs to me to do the same with my life. Except this is a three-quarterly review. Of my 29th year.

I’ll be 30 this July and it’s an odd thing but instead of feeling 29, I’ve been feeling ‘one away from 30′. It’s like the way numbers are counted in Hindi where 19, 29 and so on are one less than the nearest 10-multiple. Okay forget that, yes, it is the big Three-O looming up ahead. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a big deal (yes, even if I know theoretically it shouldn’t be, life begins at 30 yada yada…). I’m human after all and there’s so much swirling in my head, I’m not waiting till July to write about it. And thus begins the 30 diaries – a special set of features on the experience of hitting 30.

So what has been happening these last three quarters of my one-away-from-30 year? Plenty.

Love life: A non-boyfriend and a non-relationship. The customary one-in-a-few years check in on someone that went off well. Ask no questions and hear no lies. A few crushes-that-go-nowhere. A pang.

Travel: I visited two new countries. My first visit to Europe (well I’ve been to London but that was on work and I had no sight-seeing or fun) and my first time on a cruise as well. I didn’t write enough of about it. Frown.

Career: I changed jobs. Well, technically I’m still with the same company but in a completely different role, practically a 180 degree turn. Do I like it? I’m still trying to figure it out. I don’t hate it. Yet.

Media: I got featured in the press a few times. Only once accurately. These journos, what to tell ya… :-D

Death: I’ve attended two funerals, both within a fortnight of each other. One, my best friend’s father who succumbed after a long and difficult struggle. The other, a wonderful and dear colleague whom I still miss.

Interests: My favorite bookstore was shut for 4 months on account of a fire. I received books and only books as birthday gifts. A book-voucher as a gift from a reader. And another as a V-day gift. :-)

I’ve written and written and written. (Yet another) group-blog. I didn’t contribute to the Kala Ghoda Gazette this year despite attending the festival.

Every now and then I remember that I used to paint. And promise myself that I’ll take it up again. Still waiting.

Last night I dreamt that I went on stage to sing. That was after facing numerous hurdles like the compere scheduling me without telling me, a new compere not letting me on stage, the orchestra packing up (wherein I begged and begged the restaurant musicians to back me up and they did), another guy sabotaging my audience by paying them off, a semi-drunk wandering up on stage and ruining my song by singing off-key. Oddly I ended the song with my back to the audience but they gave me a loud encore. Wherin I woke up. So another reminder. I used to sing too. And I used to sing well, not just in the bathroom. Ah, the lives that we let go of with the choices we make!

Health: Twice in seven months, I had major health scares – arthritis and spondilitis. Both of them turned out to be indicative of calcium deficiency caused by a Vitamin D deficit. I didn’t know whether to laugh or frown when the final prognosis was,

Worry less and get out in the sun more often!

Ironic that very morning I remarked that,

I’ve turned into one of those horrible people who feels guilty about taking a day off from work, even if it is sick leave.

Ironic turns to miraculous when I remember that a decade ago I dropped a year from college, without remorse or second thought. When did I turn into super-efficient whizkid? This isn’t me, this so isn’t who I am.

Home

I’m usually a real home-bird. That will surprise a lot of people who know me because I spend so little time in my house. But that’s a place with four walls. The fact is that I have a strong attachment to places, especially those with memories. I relate to places almost the way I do, with people. Leaving a place feels like a part of me is getting torn away, much like parting with a loved one. And being in a new place, much like meeting a new person, fills me with a mixture of apprehension and excitement. Apprehension since the new experience is so different from the ones I’m used to. Excitement over the very same thing. And oh, actually a new place (and a new person) always remind me of why I love home so much (or the people in my life). Travelling has always been a learning experience and one that ends with the exuberant feeling of “I’m home!!!!”.

I travelled to London this week. It is my first trip out of the continent. And for a long time now, I’ve looked forward to visiting the land of Enid Blyton, the Beatles, P G Wodehouse, Harry Potter and Bridget Jones. The first thing I felt when I walked out of Heathrow was the cold, crisp air on my face (bundled up as I was everywhere else). And then the thought that I finally understood the meaning of ‘cold, crisp air’.

I got a lot of work done, met a lot of people from different countries. It was interesting. But something was missing. What? The apprehension. And the excitement. I wasn’t a bit nervous as I usually am with new people. I didn’t develop stage-fright even as I made a presentation to a panel of the top management. And would you believe it….I was dressed in an orange pullover and jeans in a roomful of suits and business skirts. It wasn’t intentional but situational…but I can’t believe how easily I breezed through it, unflinchingly. I did fret a bit about it to my friend, but really I was more worried about the fact that I wasn’t worried. Isn’t that odd now? Either I cared a helluva lot for what I was going to say (too much to worry about other things) or I didn’t care a damn about anything. I still can’t decide.

And oddly enough, when I touched down at Mumbai airport, walking down to customs, I realised there was something missing. Passport…check. Baggage tag…check. Backpack, purse, mobile phone….all in place. Ah.

I didn’t feel excited about being home.

I wasn’t sad about being home. I wasn’t happy. I just didn’t feel a thing. No more “I’m home!!!!” feeling. And then it occurred to me….I don’t feel like I’m home. I actually squinted out into the sunshine to check that I had, indeed gotten onto the right flight to the right place. Everything looked right. But it doesn’t feel like home.

I don’t know what or where home is anymore. All this is, now is a place with most of my memories and people I love. But home is a feeling, not a place. One I haven’t had in a long while.

I fly far and I fly wide
But I always come back home

This time, I flew out
But I haven’t come home
Because I don’t remember what home looks like or feels like

Could I maybe come back to the place I took off from
And find you waiting there
And perhaps find that home is indeed,
where the people who make you happy, are?

Will you be the home I come back to?

Also cross-posted on IFSHA.

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