Quiet

Yoda Press Bookstore, 2012

He is listening to songs by the band ‘When Chai met toast’, on a loop. I adore his childlike glee at sprinkled Tamil lyrics in a Hindi song.

In the early morning hours, drifting in and out of sleep, I dreamt of narrow lanes, blurry silhouettes of people rushing past, dark corridors, slate blue and dark green shop fronts illuminated by the diffuse haze of yellow lights. I remember being happy.

Throughout the day I tried to recall if it was a random image conjured by my mind or a real memory. If yes, then from where and when? Finally it came to me. Hauz Khas, Delhi. Dusk. Autumn evening. 2012. A solo trip. Walking through the busy lanes. Eating butter garlic prawns at a restaurant after walking six flights of rickety stairs. I remember hearing a strange, high-pitched bird cry, and was told it was a peacock from the adjacent forest. Later, chanced upon the Yoda Press bookstore and it was lit up with soft yellow lights. Browsed for hours. Sat cross-legged on the floor, taking my own time to decide, adding to the book pile. Roamed in the dark corridor studded with paintings and photographs. It was an unfamiliar vibe, a new feeling, very different from the small town I grew up in. More strolling around with a bag full of books. Ate gelato. I enjoyed that ordinary evening of roaming around alone. And this memory jumped to surface today, eight years later!

It is so important to be comfortable being on your own. And I am grateful that I finally do. I relish going to the movies alone every once in a while, and also eating alone at a restaurant , bookstore browsing, visiting museums and galleries, reading for hours , or going for a walk alone. Not just a refreshing break of solitude in a world that just can’t keep quiet, but also being able to do things at my own pace and be in the moment without worrying about making conversation.

At a lab I worked in very briefly, I was horrified at the thought of eating lunch together with a huge group, EVERY SINGLE DAY! At the risk of appearing rude (and I definitely must have appeared so) , I used to return to my room, eat my lunch alone, read for a few minutes while making coffee, and revel in the solitude! This need of mine becomes difficult to explain to those who thrive in being around others. I love being around people too, but I treasure my solitude equally. So much that I sometimes dream of solitude! 🙂

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