This is a labour of love. Plants. Books. Accumulated. Nurtured.
How do you adapt to a place? Warm up to it? Find something strange and make it familiar?
When I shifted to this city in South India, I was very apprehensive about the language, the people, new workplace, setting up a home. And also the food.
While we looked for a job and a home during our first trip here, we checked into an Airbnb where the lunch menu featured a curry called ‘Gutti vankaya’. I ordered it with my trademark ‘please don’t put dhaniya in it’. I loved it! It was cooked by a Bengali cook, yet the taste of this traditional and simple Andhra dish was unaltered. I loved the brinjals stuffed with a flavourful paste of peanuts, imli and masalas.
And I found a favourite vegetarian dish in this strange (to me) city famous for biryanis! It was what I cooked when I moved into a new home. And once every week since then!
I am always fidgeting with new outlets of creativity;be it sketching, blogging, DIY projects, and as of now, amateur photography. With my phone camera! Trying to make my own interpretation of the twenty six photo prompts put out by the ‘photo shelter’ team in a very informative handbook format. I intend to complete it in the month of August.
The first prompt is ‘self portrait’.
How do I see myself? I rarely look into a mirror. I grew up not being comfortable with what I saw. And this negative self image of my physical self affected my interactions with other people and how I made decisions. Never speaking up much, lurking in the shadows, not confident, constant ‘impostor syndrome’. It was bad.
I wish I could tell that being loved unconditionally by a good man changed how I saw myself. But it didn’t. At least, not entirely. It happened on its own. In my thirties, I have started to loosen up a bit. What I wear,what I want in life, how I want to do stuff, how I see myself, are no longer being governed by how I feel others might perceive and judge.
I am doing things I enjoy, unskilled but enthusiastic. I went on my first solo trip. I still get affected at times by what random people say, but I am speaking up. Less bound by societal rules, and more of conveying what I feel. I have ruined few relationships this way. But I care less about pleasing everyone now. I am curating the things and people I want in my life. Saying no more often. Caring less about things that didn’t excite me but felt were ‘essential’ to be ‘successful’.
I am still not the person I would want myself to be-less impulsive, more carefree, less angry, more calm, accept my body better, take care of it better. But I don’t fret about it. It will happen. Someday. It is all a journey.
So, here is my self – portrait. My blurry self. Without the glasses. Flawed yet a more soft hazy acceptance nowadays. There is also my desk. Paints and brushes, books, study material, travel mementoes, art, old letters-stuff I treasure – populate it. This is how I see myself right this moment.