As I look at the last post on my blog, I notice that it has been five weeks since the last one. In this age of documenting as you are doing, it is remiss of me to not capture the moments as they slip through my fingers, whether it is with words or through photographs. Yet, there are times when you just have to be in the moment.
November has been one such month when there seemed to be days at a stretch where all I could do was flow with whatever was happening within and around me.
The festival of lights arrives each year in the final quarter and this year it was later than usual. Yet it felt like I just took a breath after Navratri ended before Deepavali preparations had to begin. Perhaps it had to do with the presence of elders in the family and my motivation to venture into making some homemade goodies for the season, instead of buying it from the store.
It was so satisfying to make savory murukkus and a multitude of sweets with some recipes that were time-tested (and deployed by my enthusiastic mother-in-law) and some that were sourced from Youtube. All turned out to be equally delicious and satisfied the difficult to please palate of a variety of guests.
Unlike previous years when I received homemade delicacies from neighbors and friends but handed out store-bought stuff, this time I felt pleased to offer the things made in my own kitchen. There is genuine pleasure in spending time creating things that can be appreciated by others, regardless of whether you get to see them enjoying the items.
While I cleaned and decorated my house, cooked and hosted two big parties that included food and drinks and sparklers, I also had a forward-looking agenda beyond the festival. It was my long-awaited trip to South Africa.
Time to fly
For months, two of my girlfriends and I had been plotting and planning and fine-tuning our itinerary for this trip. Our last major international trip had been to Morocco exactly five years ago. The pandemic had kept us from another long travel to an exotic place for too long and finally it was time to get away.
But even the best laid plans sometimes give you major moments of anxiety.
The flights had been booked, the accommodations had been reserved and the day-to-day itinerary had been finalized. All we needed was the visa. Ten days before the outbound flight from our respective cities, the most important document to enter the country was still up in the air.
We are all seasoned travelers. Knowing how to plan, where to get the info and making it all work, was our superpower. Yet, this time, relying on the e-visa system didn’t work out for us. The followups didn’t yield any results.
Finally the South Africa high commision in Singapore informed me on the phone that the e-visa system had been ‘having issues’. It was necessary to go in person to the embassy/consulate in the respective country for securing a tourist visa.
In a last-minute frenzy, we switched directions and applied for visas using various means – two friends in different cities in India and me, right here in Singapore. Until about 72 hours prior to the flight we were not sure if the three of us would meet in Cape Town as planned. Fortunately, the travel gods were kind and the paperwork came through in the nick of time.
What is meant to be
After a few anxious days, we finally made it. Our trip came through as planned and that’s something I will writeup in a different post. But the lesson from all the excitement of the last few weeks is that life sometimes turns into a churning river where you need to focus all your attention to the task at hand. Whether that includes raging waves, unexpected turns or uninvited complications, your energy has to be directed towards the necessary and immediate action.
From planning and executing Deepavali parties to getting the trip on the road, I had no bandwidth to sit down and write a blog post. I do miss my regular life that includes reading and writing and meeting people and doing all the things I do in and out of my home. But if I didn’t have these breaks from the routine, there wouldn’t be much to write about. No food for thought or introspection.
How have the last few weeks been for you?