I stepped out yesterday on my own for the first time after Covid.
It was unusually humid in Bangalore – the air sticky with the damp of possible rain, but the sun shining through it.
As I drove into the Metro parking station, my mind went back to Feb – the last time I had been here. I hadn’t known then that my life would shift, coalesce, and spin into myriad different directions. Then, I had gone to Church Street to buy books. Now, I was out for a ‘meeting.’ The first physical, face-to-face meeting this year.
I was nervous about meeting people, most of whom would be unmasked, I knew. Being nervous about a meeting was a first for me in my professional life, and I was struggling being with this new, un-confident me.
The afternoon train wasn’t crowded. But everything seemed louder, more crowded in my vision – my senses on alert, trying to find a ‘safe’ spot to sit. Which, in this case, meant as far away from anyone as possible. I didn’t read as I usually do. My book lay unattended in my bag.
I just sat there, listening to the announcements, the sound of the train, the whoosh of the doors, and random conversations. It felt strange, exotic – this mélange of sounds. They reminded me of being in an international airport – one of my favorite places to be – the rush of people going here and there – a time that was beautifully untouched by a messy virus.
I emerged to a Bangalore swamped by rain; roads turned into rivers. I stood there, drenched, trying to flag an autorickshaw.
Rickshaw after rickshaw ignored me. Traffic piled up. Finally, just when I was about to give up, one did stop. He had no idea how to reach the BBMP office on Miller’s Road. Neither did I, my internal GPS having been misplaced after Covid. I gave him my phone, and he used it while I gazed out at a world I had missed.
Gushing water. Broken pavements. Screeching vehicles. I took it all in. The rain splashed onto the seat. I held my bag close to me, glancing at the phone, wondering if I would be late for the meeting.
When I finally reached, I was a dripping mess. The meter said Rs 35. I handed over a Rs 100 note to the rickshaw driver. “Wait, Madam, I will give you the change,” he said. “Keep it,” I said. He stared at me. It was three times the fare.
But as I stood there, about to enter the office, I smiled at this journey of the last 1 hour. I smiled because it was symbolic of my journey of the last 6 months: I had left in the sun, lost myself in the middle, stepped out to chaos, embraced a darkened sky, and found help along the way to finally reach here.
Suddenly, the meeting didn’t matter. My new lack of confidence didn’t matter. Because I got here. Despite everything.
And that’s what matters in the end, doesn’t it? This picture is perhaps the perfect reminder of what life is right now: a play of light and dark, and while the dark might seem longer these days, there’s light.
Not a feel-good post. Just a this-is-life-right-now post.
May you find light today. May you embrace your life with all its odd, misshapen corners, and celebrate that we are here today. It’s enough.