All posts by bavitha

Venado Caves – Costa Rica (11-13-2019)

About to plunge into the bowels of the earth.

The 1 hour 15 minute, drive from Arenal to the Venado Caves was one of the better decisions I made during my Costa Rica trip in 2019.

When I got to the caves, I was literally the only tourist there. After a while, couple of other folks joined me, which made the experience slightly less creepy.

It blows my mind that the system of underground caves is privately owned. I’m also in awe of the first human that decided to go down that hole that I have my legs in, and decide that it was big enough for a human to pass through.

I highly recommend this mostly over looked destination that’s slightly different from your regular mountains/beaches vibe. It’s a whole different dimension. If you’re claustrophobic, you probably wouldn’t enjoy this.

The creepiest story the guide told us while we were underground was when he was down there with some tourists back in the 90s, and an earthquake happened above ground. He said they never felt anything down there… I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if the cave entrance caved in during that earthquake.

#costarica #venadacaves #arenal #lafortuna #costaricawaterfalls #costaricatraveldestination

Watching the Downfall

Ever watched the downfall? Knowing exactly how to prevent it. Yet feeling so helpless.


Watching the downfall

Seeing you slip away
Unable to do anything
Seeing the path to destruction
Knowing where this gonna end

Yet not knowing how to help
Trying to hold on to the moment
And feeling it slip between your fingers
Knowing that the end is nearing

Coming at me like a fast train
One that’s being driven by your crazy mind
Watching on in helplessness
My heart shrinking in on itself

You will be gone soon and I know it
Preparing myself for something
that seems preventable, yet only I know
If there was a way, I’d have done it


I love going through my scribble book. Most of the writings are driven by a muse. And often times when I go back and read it months later, I don’t remember what prompted the writing. But I’m always caught by a certain pun or a certain play of words.

In this particular one, what stood out to me were the lines:

“Preparing myself for something
that seems so preventable, yet only I know
If there was a way, I’d have done it”.

It feels very raw to me.

There is a bit of defensiveness there. Especially the bit that says “that seems so preventable”.

“Seems” indicates the subject (me?) is concerned what others might think, but wants to tell her side of the story.

It also sounds like the subject knew the situation was preventable. Saw the situation approaching like a fast train. Knew exactly how to prevent it. And yet. Couldn’t. Even though from the outside it seemed like the subject could totally have prevented it.

How many times have we not judged someone with the question “how could you have not prevented it?? Your situation was so preventable. That was a dumb move on your end”.

Truth is, no one goes into a situation thinking “Alright. I’m going to make a dumb decision today”.

Absolutely not. Whatever decision the person made, they made it wanting the best outcome. They made that decision using their best judgment, using whatever input parameters they had in order to make that decision (the engineer in me talking).

And nobody, absolutely nobody, has the right to judge that decision, if you’re not using those exact same input parameters (it’s like a good unit test. Keep the input parameters the same and you get the same outcome every single time).

Yet often times we are too quick to judge. “If it were me I’d have done it differently”.

Pause for a second. Again, truth is, it wasn’t you or your decision to make. This means, the input parameters are different.

Pause. Pause before you score how someone else handled a particular situation. Because… they worked around their parameters. And whatever decision was made, made sense for them; for the time. And that is the right decision. No matter what.

I would even take it a step further and say – don’t be afraid to make that decision thinking it might be the wrong decision. If you think it is the right decision, move right on ahead. You are working with your input parameters. And only you have the right to decide whether it is right or wrong for you.

And if you’re worried that a future version of you might not agree with the decision your current version made, well…. guess what? We are changing every day. I don’t think you will ever get 100% agreement from ALL future versions of yourself.

So go on. If you think it’s right. It’s right for you today.

Alright. I’m done.

Girl on the Train (Hindi)

When a movie is set in foreign land, but the makers pretend like the movie is set in India, you have movies like The Girl on the Train.

  • If someone made a movie about Kannur, but most of the lead cast sounded like they’re from Trissur, with a couple of token Kannur folks in the background, I’d be pretty annoyed. Similarly, this movie is set in London, yet two people sounded like they could potentially be local in the entire movie. They should have set this movie in, idk, Mumbai, if they wanted to rely on the commuter train centerpiece.
  • Um… is there such a thing as doctor patient confidentiality? Or is it the norm for the psychiatrist to automatically hand over recordings of private sessions to cops when the patient goes missing?
  • I’m really glad they wove in a couple of Hindi songs into the movie. Or I wouldn’t have known it was a Bollywood movie.
  • What is up with the cops?
    • The way they question the suspects seem to violate all rights
    • Cops randomly going up to people and smacking them in the face is hilarious
    • What’s also hilarious is how the cops search bags with no warrant

How do these movies even get made? Maybe they’re just like “oh maybe no one will notice”. I hope if I ever write a script that’s this ridiculous, I have at least a couple of friends who would stop me before I spent millions making the movie.

The Wallpaper

Sometimes I wonder
If I even remember
What life was like
Before it started

When the waves start crashing,
I hear the whispers, loud and clear
And you think it matters?
How I claim I’ve tamed the beast?

I probably think it matters
How I think I’ve tamed the beast
Yet have I really though?
Sounds like I’ve learned to coexist

Coexist, what a bumper sticker of a word

Coexist, like that flowery ol’ wallpaper
That’s plastered across every room of your life
Pretending to add some faded color
To an otherwise monochromatic life

Until the day you notice that tear
Oh you know the rip I’m talking about
You notice it one day
Until that’s all you see everyday

So Much Empty Land

I went to look at land upstate today. Land upstate is cheap. So cheap. And I’m comparing it to a) Manhattan standards, closely followed by b) Indian standards.

Manhattan real estate is muchos dollars. No surprise there. And Indian real estate is similarly so (at least in places I’d be interested in).

And then there is land upstate ??‍♀️

Sure land is cheap upstate. But the downside is that you also don’t get cellphone service up there. Especially deep in the mountains. So if you were to buy land up there, you would need to do a ton of work to get the land acquainted with the present day world (utilities, water, septic etc).

So this property that I was looking at – I wanted to see the stream that’s on the property, so I hiked the short slope down to the stream that looked more like a brook. I’m sure the “brook” comes out in full force when the mountains unleash the floodgates.

I’m well acquainted with the flash floods that can result from a sudden summer downpour in these mountains, having been caught off-guard while on a 6 mile/1200 ft elevation hike last year (joy).

The realtor had left before I decided to make my way down the slope. I realized once I got down to the stream that there was no cellphone service in the area. I kinda knew there LIKELY was no service, but it wasn’t until I got down that I realized, even though I wasn’t far from the road, and there was another house maybe .2 miles away, had I slipped and hurt myself, it probably would have been a bad situation. I don’t think my voice would have carried over to the neighboring house if I yelled.

As I listened to the soft and calming gush of water, blending in with the rustle of the wind in the trees, I wondered if maybe I should have come out here with a friend. I quickly dismissed the idea. I’m not sure who I’d have brought along with me. Or to be more precise, I can’t think of anyone who’d be into driving around all day looking at borderline inhospitable land.

As much as people give me credit for being an extrovert, and as much as I love to plan group events, and play an organizer role in several groups, I actually spend quite a bit of time by myself, mostly exploring ideas that formulate in my head.

This particular expedition is based on a muse that’s been running wild in my head for over a year now. I’m giving it time for it to settle, while I continue on with my research. I’d rather not get into the details of said muse, because like most muses, there is a chance this might shrivel and die.

But going back to all the empty land though…. so much empty land. And yet, in certain parts of the world, people live on top of each other because they’re constrained by the boundaries specified by their countries, when all they probably want is a bit of land to live on. I realize I might have oversimplified the economics of it all.

Yet I dream of a utopia where there are no boundaries. Where human beings are human beings. Free to roam. Free to spread and stretch out all over the world. The entire world. Free of religion. Where the only religion is empathy.

How do you unwind?

Le everyone: you should get an audio interface

It’s not that I don’t have an interface. It’s just that it’s hard for me to sit at a desk and record, especially after a long day at work, where I’m sitting at a desk the whole day.

When I get off work, I like to physically separate myself from the location where I spend most of my day. I believe this is especially important in the remote work life world where the walk from your office to your home is literally five steps.

Don’t get me wrong. I truly love my job, and wouldn’t have it any other way, but I also believe it’s important to unplug. If not, you risk burning out. I’ve been close to getting there in the past, especially during certain phases in my career where working crazy hours was glorified.

You are only worth half your true worth, if you’re not happy and fully mentally present. The only way you can do that is by giving yourself space to unwind and take care of yourself, whatever your outlet might me. This way when you come back to work, you are fully present and giving it your all.

As for me, I unwind by texting my friends while singing and strumming on the guitar, while playing netflix/prime in the background, while making instagram stories of all of this multi tasking – 5 steps away from my home office.

This is one of the reasons most of my recordings are raw and unedited and made with a cellphone. There really is not much thought behind my videos, or at least most of them. This is also a bit of how I live my life. If an exciting thought comes to me, I will act on it. If I’m strumming something that sounds ok to me, I prop up my cellphone and hit record and then upload.

Today I unpacked a bunch of my recording gear, and set up a separate corner of my living room where it will be easier for me to record audio, without having to sit at my puter desk. Somehow this corner doesn’t feel very office-y, even though there is a computer involved.

I also realize I haven’t had a recording corner in 3 years almost to the day. How time has flown by. I am excited to see if anything will come of this.

Extreme Confidence vs Preparation

My eyes landed on the bright red packaging. The letters “PM” in white screamed out at me.

Yes I know. PM. It’s meant to be taken in the PM. I’m gonna be knocked out if I take this during the day. But if I’m running a fever during the day, would I not be knocked out anyway?

It’s what I call “the Benadryl logic”. My allergies go away when I take Benadryl. Because I don’t notice the allergies when I’m knocked out.

“I should probably get it”. I told myself.

But… I know I have some Tylenol extra strength somewhere at home. There I go having an internal conversation with myself all over again. It bothered the extreme organizer in me that I hadn’t completely unpacked since my last move, and I didn’t know exactly where my Tylenol bottle was stored anymore.

It was likely sitting nestled in a box aptly labeled something along the lines of “vanity drawers, jewelry, and medicine”. My love for documention, and extreme and verbose naming, doesn’t contain itself to my work life, but rather, it spills over into all areas of my life.

“What good is Tylenol if you can’t find it when you’re running a fever?” I huffed to myself.

“I’m going to really regret not grabbing this Tylenol when I’m laying in bed tomorrow, staring at the ceiling, running a fever, too dead to move, let alone try and search for that old bottle of Tylenol in some neatly labeled moving box stored safely in the corner of a never used closet.

I continued to muse as I deftly bypassed the Tylenol PM package, and grabbed the generic brand sitting next to it, packaged in the exact bright red box, minus the word “Tylenol”. I scanned the package making sure I read the word “Acetaminophen” on the it before shuffling up the aisle so that I would be in line of vision of the pharmacist.

“Bavitha, we’re ready for you” I heard, as I neared the end of the aisle. I grabbed a bottle of Melotonin as I made my way over to the voice that called out to me.

“Right or left arm?” said the owner of the voice once I was seated in the black vinyl chair hidden behind a privacy screen.

“Left” I replied.

I was disappointed that she cupped her hand around the needle as it punctured my skin. I’ve always had a fascination for watching the needle go in, whether it is for a blood draw, or for a shot.

“Since this is your second shot, wait 10 minutes to make sure you don’t have any kind of reaction before you leave” she said.

I was familiar with the routine since I’d gotten my first dose at the same Walgreens 3 weeks ago. I walked over to the set of black vinyl chairs without the cover of the privacy screen in front of it, knowing that there won’t be any kind of reaction.

As I lay in bed right now, with that non Tylenol bottle still in its red packaging sitting safely on my nightstand, right next to my newly purchased bottle of Melotonin, which I’d never tried before, I am dead certain I’m not gonna be sick tomorrow.

Extrme confidence shouldn’t deter you from preparation. Words to live by for sure.

*Currently taking bets on whether I will or won’t get sick tomorrow.

Listen to your body

I started running 15 years ago because I hated my body. I was overweight and sluggish, and basically had 0 internal confidence, even though I did a great job of exuding major external confidence (which I realize is an important life skill).

I kept up my running for the next 15 years (passively, but consistently) because it became a drug for me. Slowly, running started becoming less about my body, and more about who I was within the body. I wasn’t doing it anymore because I felt “fat”. I was running because I started having that need in me to workout, without which I felt sluggish and incomplete. Being active became a part of my identity that I truly enjoyed.

At the expense of sounding hippie (is that PC?), I’m gonna say this – when I run, I get in touch with my true self. I’m not a long distance runner by any means, at least not anymore. I realize that’s a subjective statement. Sometimes all I do is a mile or two, especially lately. But the amount of clarity those two miles give me is hard to express.

When I injured my neck in 2014, it crushed me when I realized running was causing me pain, and I would have to give it up. At this point, we will not go into the details of the metal spiral that not being able to be active send me into, but to give you an idea of the struggle, and how it affected my work, workouts and all aspects of my life, here are a couple of excerpts from my journal from the time.

23rd Feb, 2016

My day started by catching the 6:38am train to Penn. I was back home at 7pm. I was in pain all day. Right arm feels awkward. I was dejected. Reading unsuccessful stories of ACDF surgery while on the train made me sad.

I'm happy to be alive! And functional!
29th Mar, 2017

My hands, which ones moved without a second thought feels heavy as I type to maintain my erstwhile 89 wpm momentum. My breath catches in my throat as I pretend not to notice. I will my hands to move. Letter after letter I type. Work feels like a chore now, I think as I readjust my body so that

Suffice to say it affected relationships. Yet sometimes I wonder if perhaps my injuries were caused by the stress from said relationships. These are unanswered questions. The body works the way it does. The best you can do is respect it. And listen to it.

During this time, I substituted running with walking, which over the years turned into what some might call “endurance hiking”, but what folks who actually do endurance hiking might call “a walk in the park”. Again. Subjective.

Please do not make the mistake of crediting me and thinking that my hiking was engineered by yours truly in any way in order to fix my injuries. I did not hike thinking that it will help me with my injuries one day.

I hiked because I needed a release; I wanted to feel exhausted at the end of it so that I would have no time to think. Or perhaps I did engineer it after all. I might have engineered it so that there would be no thoughts at the end of a long exhausting hike!

Long story short, over the course of the years, with the help of said endurance hiking, peppered with the constant background chime of well intentioned people saying I should lay in bed and be inactive for the remainder of my life, I slowly strengthened my neck enough to where I got back to running longer than a mile.

I remember doing a 6 mile run in 2019 and feeling surprised that my neck didn’t feel quite as janky as I would have expected it to feel*.

Now that I’ve hyped up running so much, let’s switch gears a bit. Running hasn’t been doing it for me lately. I’ve been feeling a bit like I’m in a rut. Sure, I still enjoy my occasional runs, but somehow I feel like I’m missing something.

One of the changes I made in order to fix this is to incorporate more weights into my workouts, thanks to my awesome coach. Even though I’m not completely new to lifting, whatever I used to do was extremely limited. Strenght training was more of a supplement to my running, vs now I’m kinda actually focused on it.

Right off the bat, the biggest difference I’ve been noticing (don’t laugh) is that when you’re out on a run, you literally have to get back home. This means you either walk home, which would take longer, or you run home, which is quicker. This means it’s harder to quit when you’re out on a run! The issue with more “home/gym” based workouts is that… you can quit whenever you want! Because… the couch is right there… It’s a mental shift I’m still getting used to.

Another big difference is that running keeps getting better the longer you go. The first half mile is blah, but it only gets better from there! Whereas with strength training, I’m finding that I’m more enthused during the earlier parts of my workout where I feel rawwwrrrr, but as I keep doing additional sets, my enthusiasm wanes.

So right now I’m working on making the last few sets as enjoyable as the final mile. Got tips?

As for the point of this blog – well I’ve been feeling a bit stressed lately. I didn’t realize I was stressed, but my neck has been bothering me. Sure, it could be the herniated discs. But I know my body enough to know that I must be stressed. And I started thinking about what truly helps me relieve stress. And I realize I haven’t been running as much. Maybe I should listen to my body.

*My neck is still janky most of the time and it’s a constant battle between me and my neck, and I have my off days, especially on days where im subconsciously stressed, like today, but I make sure I always win in the end.


Dusk reminds me of being at Thana. When I say Thana, it only means one thing. It means being at my aunt’s house on the Thana main road. Yes, that house with the peacocks.

When my mom needed to run errands during the day, and there were no baby sitters around, we’d be dropped off at Thana. It was always fun being dropped off at Thana especially when my nephews, who were around my age, were home on break.

Of all the dusks of my childhood, the only mental snapshot I took was while sitting on that black vinyl couch by the floor to ceiling window with the black grills in front of the side verandah. The sound of bus horns peppered the evening noises of the mosque prayers and commuters rushing home.

My nephews weren’t home on break that day. I don’t think my brother was there either. I was dropped off by myself. All I remember is sitting on that couch, probably with a book nestled in my hands. Books were my closest friends as a child.

And somewhere mid reading, just like that, I must have taken that mental snapshot that has stayed with me all these years. That is what dusk is to me. It’s the Thana bus horns honking away.

That is where I got transported as I stare at the sun shining a bright orange, as I sit high above the clouds in this dimly lit cabin. I’m not transported to an image of a sunset. I’m transported to a time and place when I experienced a sunset where all my relevant senses were satiated.

Raw & Real

I tried to think of what picture to use for this post. And I couldn’t pick. I finally picked the pic of the old Tavera.

Day 2 of landing in India, back in December, I told Joby I was in India for 3 months. Joby said “Bavitha, I give you 3 weeks”. I ended up extending my trip to 4 months.

Day 4 in India when the cab we hired got ceased by the loan sharks and we got stranded on the side of the highway on the way to Shimoga

So going back to this pic. This is a pic I took last week of the old Tavera that I drive every time I visit Kannur. There is something about going from an EV (electric vehicle) to driving a 15 year old stick shift. You feel like you’re part of the machine. You coax and you nudge the beast so that it feels comfortable with the speed you’re going at.

That is how India felt to me. India felt raw and real. You have to reason with it, coax it, and over time you find its rhythm and you settle into the pace that’s comfortable for the both of you.

India taught me how to be vulnerable again. It taught me that it was ok to let my guard down. It taught me that I don’t have to have my shit together all the time. I’m thankful for Alex, one of my few good friends, for being my sounding board, even though at the beginning of the trip I told her not to check in on me everyday because “I needed some space”.

Even though being in new cities by myself is not new to me, being in a different city each week has tested me at various points. I’ve felt emotional highs and lows that I haven’t experienced in a really long while. Managing a full time job while doing this wasn’t something I talked much about on insta, but yes, I have a job. It’s been challenging balancing it, but so well worth it.

I’m thankful for all the people that came into my life these past few months. 4 months ago I didn’t really have good friends that still lived in India. Now I’m leaving with some lasting friendships, and even some rekindled friendships from my childhood. 

And how can I forget to thank all my insta friends? The reason I was posting so many stories was because my entire trip was driven by my small, but lovely group of insta friends who helped orchestrate all my last minute flight bookings and expeditions. From giving me places to check out in each of the cities I was in, to even telling me what cities to go to next. You trolled me, humored me, laughed at my jokes that normally only I laugh at, and some of you ended up becoming really good friends ❤. Thank you.

No I’m not crying. These are not tears. I’m just cutting some onions over here.

Ok, Oscar speech over.

But wait. I forgot to thank my mom and dad. Yes. Thank u, Amma and Acha. Every time someone asked me “does your parents know you’re travelling alone?”, and trust me, I’ve been asked this way more times than I care to count, it made me realize that the life I’d been living since I was 18, where I was given the right to make decisions about my life, and make my own mistakes, is not the norm for majority of the women (and perhaps men too) in India.

The initial outrage that I’d felt when asked this question, has over time turned to understanding of where the question came from. Empathy. I have more of that now. It was hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that the way I carried myself perhaps wasn’t the norm, and that perhaps I didn’t match up to the expectations that society might have for someone that fits my apparent stereotype.

So thank you mom and dad for being progressive AF 20 years ago. You both are way ahead of your time.