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.

Those selfish waves


Where there was a beach last week, there is none today. The waves are almost up to the rocky embankment that was likely built to keep the lapping suds at bay.

Isn’t the ocean so fascinating? Of how the waves are so relentless in its pursuit of chasing each other to the sands. At times its haste is so much that it climbs over the one in front of it, not worrying about hurting its friend. For they are all waves. They merge into each other. Becoming one. Rushing to the shores.

That is the only goal. Meet the sands.

The journey or the destination.

They’ve clearly made the choice.

And in their rushed journey, they’ve found one another.

The journey or the destination?

There is no clear answer.

Sometimes, on days like today, when the sea is overflowing upon itself, they reach for the rocks.

Teasing us with a threat… a threat that maybe one day, it will clamber over the rocks. And consume us.

The journey or the destination.

Those selfish waves.

The constant threat.

Thamara Noolinal

Movie: Mullavalliyum tenmavum 
Song : Tamara noolinal 
Music: Ouseppachan 
Beat: 3/4
Dm              C 
tamara noolinal melleyem meniyil 
Dm Am 
thottu viliku… 
Dm C 
thazhittu poottumen nenjile vaathilili 
Am.   Dm 
mutti viliyku….      

Am                 Dm 
ente maarodu chernnoru pattu moolu    
Am             F 
mani viralinai talamidu       
G F   Am Dm 
melle melleyenne neeyuraku  (tamara..)  

veyilettu vaadunna poovu pole 
aa kattiladum  kadambu pole 
oru kadal pole nin kaladiyil 
C(1)      Am        Dm           
tira nura kai kalum neetti nilkum 
A(2)              D 
ennittum ennittum ente nee ente 
G(1)         A        Dm 
nerukayiloru mutham tannilla?     
Dm Am C F 
Aaa aaa aaa aa  
Dm            Dm 
aarira rarira ro araro  aarira rarira ro 
(tamara..)  tara tarara….. 
tirameleyadunna tingal pole 
teerathulavum nilavu pole 
naru mazha pole nin poonchimizhil 
C         Am        Dm 
oru cheru muthamai kathu nilpu 
A                 D 
ennittum ennittum enthe neeyinnente 
G              A           Dm 
pular veyilinu pookal tanilla?  

The Music Room

I quickened my pace, adjusting the straps of the tote on my shoulder, the snow underfoot making a quiet shushing sound with each step that didn’t do much to reduce the deafening quietness of the snowday. If I maintained this pace, I will reach the bottom of the stairs just as the train pulled into the platform above. By the time I make it up the 2 flights of stairs, the last of the passengers will be shuffling into the car and I will be able to join them. I can see the platform up ahead in the distance, people huddled in groups in front of imaginary doors, ready to rush in as soon as the train pulled in.

The snow weighing down the branches of the evergreens around me would have been beautiful if I cared. I bend my head down wanting to block out the snow that was blowing into my face.

I was nearing the house, but I didn’t hear any music coming from the house. I looked up at the window, but the window was closed shut. A part of me felt betrayed. I wondered what had happened to the old lady that I imagined lived there.

I first noticed the house 5 months ago when I first moved into town and started walking down this path for my daily commute into the city. I was about 20 feet from the house when I started hearing bits of രവീന്ദ്രൻ മാഷ്’s (Ravindran Master’s) melody drifting to my ears. I closed my eyes for a second as a chill ran through my body. My eyes traveled involuntarily to the top right room of the house and I noticed that the only window in the room was cracked open an inch.

This became a daily routine for me, and I started looking forward to the 30 seconds where I got to imagine a glimpse into the life a fellow മലയാളി (Malayalee). On certain days, if the music coming from the house was unfamiliar, I would make a note of whatever words I could distinguish, and try and identify the song online once I got to work. It was a game that I played with myself to take away from the monotony that was my life.

As the days wore on, and as Summer turned to Fall, crisping up the outside air, the walls of the music room began to get invisible in my head. I could see an older woman laying in bed next to the window, wanting to get a breath of the fresh air outside. There must be a lot of dry heat in her room. I pictured myself walking up to the door and knocking on the door and introducing myself. She would invite me in for a cup of tea and we would talk about life in Kerala, sipping on the milky sugary tea, and agree on how the newgen movies that the youngsters were making these days could never compare to the classic 90s.

Today was the first day that there was no music coming from the house. I chided myself for not having found a weekend to knock on the door and say hi. On an impulse, I started walking at an angle away from the station platform and towards the house with the music room. I hesitated at the door, trying to come up with a good reason for why I was ringing their doorbell at 7:18 in the morning. I rang the bell. No response. I waited 30 seconds and knocked on the door again. I heard a patter of soft footsteps running towards the door, and saw a wet nose pressed against the sidelight of the door. It was a corgi, his tail wagging 5mph. I heard a different set of footsteps, and the door was opened by a man of about 33 with a 2 day scruff on his face. His hair looked like he had been running his fingers through it, and there was a cowlick on the right side of his head.

“Hello” he said.

“Hi… ” I replied

He waited patiently, waiting for me to say more. His eyes looked red.

“I uh… this might sound weird, but I pass by your house everyday on my way to work each morning… and I hear music coming from the upstairs window”

I saw his face cloud over, and I backed up a couple of steps not wanting to be the latest victim of kidnapping.

“I meant to come by and introduce myself several times, but somehow that never happened. I noticed there was no music today… and I guess curiosity got the best of me” I said convinced that he must think I’m a wacko. I saw his red eyes watering a bit. Were there allergies triggered by snow?

“That was my grandmother… she passed away last Friday night”

I smacked myself for my lack of finesse.

“I’m terribly sorry. It wasn’t my intention to barge in like this. Especially when you are grieving. I’m sorry for your loss” I turned around to leave, hearing the chugchugging of the train in the distance, and knowing full well that I will not be catching my usual train that day.

“Wait. Do you want to come in for a cup of tea? It’s been terribly quiet in the house and I would love some company” he said weakly.

“I would love that” I replied pulling the phone out of my coat pocket to email my manager that I will be taking a PTO that day.


all the little stories that went unwritten until now