Reflections from a Train Window

After another couple of months being MIA, I’m sitting here at the ant cafe in Bangalore, desperately trying to feel like a writer again before I start my residency at Sangam House tomorrow. It has been a strange few weeks, the kind that disappear on you without a trace, since I finished my last round of workshops in the beginning of October. I was traveling for a few weeks, and sick for the rest, and then hosting one of my closest friends on a 10 day layover in Delhi on her way to Afghanistan. Somewhere in the middle, I was facilitating research writing and reflective writing workshops, tutoring, and doing research towards a dream consultancy project that I will begin in January. All wonderful stuff (except the being sick!), but all time consuming enough for me not to find enough time for the blog, or for writing in general. So I opted to take the train rather than fly into Bangalore. Over the 36 hours, I slept a lot and read a lot. I also stared out of the window a lot (and I have to say, as ways to spend a day go, staring out of windows is grossly underrated!). Somewhere in the middle of all that, i started returning to a space inside me that is quieter than the hecticness of the last few months, and I reached Bangalore equally exhausted and refreshed.

I spent the day today at the home of my oldest friend; after a quick morning chat and breakfast, he left for work, and I slept in, ate lunch, slept some more -- pretty much until I got out here to read and write. Every time I meet friends like him, I am struck with joy and gratitude at the effortlessness of these old friendships... at the way in which we can make each other’s homes our own, at the fact that time away doesn’t matter.

While staring out of the train window, I was thinking similarly about another friend from long ago. Over 12-13 years of our friendship, he’s grown into more and more of a close friend, and on that train ride, as I recalled a joke another friend made recently about this friendship, I grew suddenly, intensely grateful. Somehow, who knows how, over more than a decade of not living in the same city or, for the most part, even in the same country, we have become such solid presences in each other’s life. Somehow our love for each other has grown absolute and dependable in such a way that I don’t know who I am without that friendship.

The more I think about one person in my life in all these ways, the more people come to mind who are just as special in different ways. And the more my heart fills with appreciation for all of them.

Here’s the funny thing: this year is the first year in the last decade when I haven’t been aware of the date for Thanksgiving in the USA. I used to have a mish-mash of holiday calendars from around the world that I commemorated because those individual rituals and moments with friends had come to mean something to me that went beyond their historical of cultural significance... this has been the first year that Thanksgiving slipped off that calendar (partly because of the craziness, but mostly because I guess that part of my life has slipped off my immediate radar). And yet, this year is the one where I organically slipped into a sense of deep gratitude at approximately the same time that my friends across the world were carving their Turkeys or Tofurkeys and saying their prayers of gratitude. Maybe that part of my life has only slipped off my conscious radar.

So, going into the 3 intense weeks or writers’ residency to come, I’m grateful. For this opportunity to become the writer I haven’t yet been able to be. And more than that, for a beautiful, strong, and loving community that I know is mine regardless of the writer, or anything else, that I am.