It is pouring outside. Rain, thunder, and rain-related Instagram posts- a deluge of everything. Naturally, any form of internet in my house has decided to take a day off, ala rain check.
I woke up early today; whatever early means for a relatively work-free Sunday. (You're going to have to read about my day for this post to make any sense, sorry!) For once, I woke up early (8:45 is early, deal with it), and did not have the urge to roll over and go back to sleep. Wide awake and in a little bit of shock, I took a bath and got dressed, with no earthly idea what to do with all these extra morning hours. I spent some time talking to the people who wake my brain up further, and then decided that I needed to get out of the house. It is, of course, the season that makes Bombay what it is, or so I've been told.
Packing the essentials (wallet, umbrella, Kindle), I set off to the nearest train station. For more on these, refer to the previous post on this blog, thank you very much. Cloud-cast, rainy days demand that I visit town. That's the fancy name for South Bombay. From Churchgate station, a nice little walk brought me to the Chatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly known as the much-easier to pronounce and spell- the Prince of Wales museum. Now, I'm usually not a museum person unless the exhibits are about fields that I understand. But I was told that "doing a museum alone" is a must do, you know, in this whole living-life thing. So here I was, doing this rather vast museum, alone. I spent the better part of two and a half hours walking around one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, staring at statues and coins and gorgeous sarees and guns and porcelain and paintings and most importantly, annoyingly loud children. Safe to say, there were a lot of things I didn't understand, and a lot of things I found endlessly fascinating. After I left the museum, the area around it, soaked in the rains, was too beautiful to let go of that easily. I spent the next hour walking around Fort, Kala Ghoda and Marine Drive. Monsoons really do turn Mumbai into Mum-bae (yes, yes, apologies about using that ghastly word, but it fits). Once the drizzle turned into a torrent, I alighted the train again and came to my regular chai-cafe, Chaayos, pulling out my Kindle.
As I sit here, clutching my kulhad of ajwain wali chai for warmth since I'm now rather rain-soaked; , my observation turns from the objects in the museum to the patrons of Chaayos, who, very much like me, have braved it in the rain to come get a good cup of chai and Wifi. As the comforting flavour of ajwain takes over, I'm typing away furiously to get this post out.
Why did you have to read about my day so far, you annoyingly ask? Is this just a story that I'd rather have told my mum? (Yes Netri, this is the one from your blog. People, go read her posts!) Do I just want to flaunt Bombay? Why why why?
Short answer? Because I can.
Long story? Here goes.
This is the point of the post, really. I can, and I want to. This may sound endlessly narcissistic, thus quite familiar to the people who know me, but besides that, because I needed to say it. There is a lot of joy and pride in being able to wake up late on a Sunday or wake up early on a Sunday and deciding to go explore your city. Pride, not because you wake up early, but pride, because you've made a life where you can. The experience, just half a day from my increasingly manic, ancient life of 23 years, is something that I needed to share. We spend most of our growing years studying and rote-learning and doing all kinds of things that are "right" but not half as much fun. Those few hours that we get by ourselves, it is high time we seized them. Not every free weekend is about partying with friends or binge watching Friends tucked into a blanket with ice-cream and chips. Both are great, but sometimes, just sometimes, it is important to step out, and take a train ride by yourself. Walk through a museum by yourself. Sit at a cafe savouring chai, or coffee, or a single malt, by yourself. Walk through a dubious neighbourhood with a bottle of pepper spray clutched in your palm by yourself, once. Go on a date with yourself, if nothing else, then do it because you won't have to share your food. Sit at a seashore with a book or your music and drown out the rest of the world. Watch a movie by yourself. Go to a concert by yourself. Do all of this, and more.
Not just because you can, but because you need to. Your people, real and fictional, are essential, but so are you. To some, this may sound outrageous, and two years ago, it sounded outrageous to me as well. Back when I lived at home in Ahmedabad, I never felt the need to do this. It felt unnecessary, and frankly a little scary and two tons of awkward. One day, you too will move to a different city, and eventually be forced to do this at least once. (I blame you Falak Choksi, but also, thank you). Do it before you're forced to, because there is a lot of fun in discovering how comfortable you are with just yourself, or conversely, how much you drain your phone battery because you can't be bothered to just sit alone and do nothing. Either way, it is fun. And because in a couple of hours, you'll again be forced to start packing up, trying to remember if you need to pick up sabzi or poha or salt, or head to a different shop because you need to pick up condoms or sanitary napkins or pay your electricity bill. Or you'll have an office mail to write, a research paper to proof read, an episode to check, or another appointment to keep. In a few hours, all the bloody responsibilities of reality will take over, and that little date with yourself will help settle you, just as much as the hug of a friend or the touch of a partner.
Give yourself a breather, see how long you can sit by yourself. People are amazing, but so are you.
P.S: I know the brackets are annoying, but what can I say, when I'm talking to myself, I tend to have second voices force their way through, hence I cage them in parenthesis.
P.P.S: Chaayos isn't a sponsor for this post, I swear, but it has been home to a lot of my dates with myself, and is worth a try, if you're in any of the cities where it operates. There, happy, Chaayos? Now you can pay me in chai, if you're reading this.