Some updates!

I know, I know…’s been ages since I last posted and it has been driving me insane! I have so much to share, so many stories to tell, and several updates to give. This post is going to be brief and I want to share, with my readers, what I have been up to.

I am still living in a dream, wondering if this experience of moving back to Mumbai is real. It will almost be a year since our move and I am still in awe of how fast time has passed me by. Living in Mumbai is like doing a full marathon! I feel like I am constantly on the go and there isn’t a minute to spare.

House renovations: On that front, we are in the last leg of the renovations, although a deadline to move back into the house gets pushed forward by 15 days, every time we inform the contractor our plans to move in. He convinces us with a true but irritating song and dance by saying, “Since you are planing on moving on the 30th of July, another 10-15 days extra is not going to kill you.” Like hell it’s not going to kill us. Who is paying the rent for our temporary space? Not him! On another note, our new place is coming up really nicely and we are very pleased with the work done so far. Just working on the painting and wham!, life will be 50% more merry than it currently is.

Private practice: Also in awe about this and how well it is taking shape. Indeed, there is a distinct need for psychotherapy, as practiced and taught in the West, in Mumbai. I am discovering that more people are open to the idea of having a space to really explore and reflect on themselves. I also enjoy the work I do, and some days, the only thing I look forward to is working with my clients. There are times when they give me a modicum of sanity, especially on days when I feel like a chicken with its head cut off!

Weather: As always, it is schizophrenic. We are supposed to be in the monsoon season, but there are barely any rains. It is scary to think that 2 months have passed us by and our rains have been scant, at best. There is a big hue and cry, and rightly so, about the possibility of a water shortage in Mumbai if this trend continues. Every morning I wake up, the skies are overcast, as if threatening a huge pour, and by the end of the day, there are hardly any showers and dense amounts of humidity.

So that’s a wrap folks! Life in Mumbai, is like life in the fast lane. Between the house renovations, dealing with the heat, managing my practice and trying to have a life, I am surprised I am still writing this post! God save me!


Harrowing Mumbai!

I know I haven’t blogged in over a month and I have come to realize that blogging is like a drug for me….the more I blog, the less irritated I am about life in Mumbai. I haven’t been blogging for several reasons: my private practice has been really going strong, the house renovations are still going on, I continue to be physically drained from the heat of Mumbai, I was away in China for about 2 weeks, and I am still trying to figure out life on Mumbai’s terms! It’s tough.

I was on the plane from Shanghai to Mumbai, and I noticed the deep sadness that sat pretty around me, as if I were enveloped in it. I felt a lot of resistance getting on that Cathay Pacific airplane from Shanghai, feeling the heaviness and disappointment of returning to Mumbai. Strangely enough, I felt no hesitancy or anxiety about getting on the plane for Shanghai (I was presenting at a conference and teaching in China on the topic of Humanistic-Existential Psychology). But as I look back, I can understand why. In Shanghai, I reconnected with some of my very dear Humanistic Psychology colleagues from the USA, colleagues that I had a deep bond with for many years. When I landed in Shanghai and saw those beautiful faces, I realized how much I missed those connections and friendships. I felt like I was at home, instantly getting comfortable with my American counterparts, basking in their love and affection for me. Not once did I think of Mumbai nor did I find myself counting the days for my return. I found myself just taking one day at a time, soaking in the familiarity, trust, and friendship that I continued to receive from my colleagues. It was magic!

And right enough, I landed in Mumbai and stepped out of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (Mumbai) and found myself in 30 degrees Celsius weather, with 55% humidity, and tons of people swarming around me. I knew I was back in Mumbai, for sure! It took me about 3 days to re-settle into life in Mumbai after being away for only 10 days. For anyone who has not been to China, it is a clean, organized, and beautiful country! I traveled in China and also spent time in Shanghai and was terribly impressed by the cultural richness and diversity that this city boasted. It definitely surpasses Mumbai in its pollution levels though, but other than that, it was like I was in Asia’s very own Manhattan! Of course, I have to give it to the Mumbaikers that their English-speaking skills are way much better. In fact, English barely exists in China, even in Shanghai! It was really hard communicating with a lot of the inhabitants of Shanghai, especially at local shops and restaurants.

After my trip to China, I went for a weekend stint to Della Adventures in Lonavala. This is a fantastic adventure park/ resort and I highly recommend it. I noticed that as I was driving back to Mumbai, I was feeling down in the dumps again. I find that every time I return to Mumbai, it is a difficult experience. It’s happened every single time: my return from Delhi, Goa, Bangalore, China, and now Lonavala (barely a 2 hour ride from Mumbai). I notice a change in my mind and body, where my physical energy drops and I feel psychically drained, as if I walked one hundred miles in the grueling heat and dirt of a mighty desert.

There is a certain numbness and restlessness that I feel – it’s a strange combination, because on some days, I am plain irritated, and on other days I am indifferent and callous in my attitude towards people and things. There is an edginess I seem to experience in my daily affairs, as I navigate through and negotiate life in Mumbai. I am hoping that the edginess will gradually wear off and be replaced with more gentleness and kindness; gentleness and kindness toward my self and my new surroundings.

Mumbai is killing me big time!!!

I know it’s been ages since I last blogged, and as usual, I missed it. Blogging is my vent; a therapeutic release that that helps me put things into perspective through my sharing and reflections. However, I realize that I have been silent for several weeks, and believe you me, I have some very good reasons for doing so.

First off, the sheer exhaustion that I deal with everyday from just the excruciatingly humid weather is enough to kill one’s spirit! My god, there has to be a limit to the levels of humidity that dominate the Mumbai skies. I officially take a minimum of 2 showers a day, most days 3. The heat is relentless and this is only the month of April. Rumor has it that May is going to be a furnace, decimating every living and non-living being that dares to be out in the sun.

I don’t think I can say enough about the extent of suffering that I undergo each and everyday. Because my house is getting renovated, the rental place I live in only has an air conditioner in the bedroom – the living room is a sauna for all means and purposes. Life really is funny – In San Francisco, I used to pay $20 to use a sauna at a spa, because it was so cold in SF, that you would really need to work hard to sweat it out during your day-to-day activities. In Mumbai, the sauna is available 24/7, whether you want it or not! When I wake up in the morning and get out of my air-conditioned bedroom, I get out fully knowing that I will be stepping into my very own sauna. Life sure is greener on the other side!

I was reading the weather forecast today: “28 degrees Celsius, feels like 34.” And yes, please do not forget to add the 279% humidity!!!!!

Second, the house renovations have also been taking a lot out of me. It’s been one roller coaster ride trying to work with the contractor, the architects, and the society members, whilst also trying to maintain one’s sanity and mental status quo. Doing anything in India, especially a big project, requires a certain level of patience, diplomacy, aggressiveness, and shrewdness, in order to get your job done. Oh, and did I mention patience???? Yes, living in Mumbai demands a heck of a lot of patience and forbearance…and, for someone who lacks patience in general, it is beginning to dawn on me, more and more, that Mumbai will either make me or break me. I don’t know what will become of me, but I know something will.

All this is still unreal to me, very unreal to me. I want to crawl out of my skin and into a hole in the ground and hide from all this change; take refuge from the earth where I will be invisible to the millions of people that fill the streets and alleys, the many pockets and crevices of Mumbai. It’s been 7.5 months since we landed here and I just cannot believe how time has passed me by. Talking of the millions of people in Mumbai, my aunt who is visiting from Goa, brought her maid along as well. This was the maid’s first trip to Mumbai, and she was so scared when she went out on the streets with my aunt to do some veggie shopping – she was horrified, overwhelmed and fearful of the millions of people that swarmed the streets of Mumbai. I found it rather amusing that she felt this way, but then when I think about it, it cannot be any more amusing than my first reactions to Mumbai when I landed on the balmy night of September 5th, 2011. Like the maid, I too was horrified, overwhelmed and fearful of the many things, places, peoples, and situations I was to encounter. At least the maid gets to go back to Goa….I am staying.

Fearful for my Life!!!

It’s all over! The winter is all over! It’s dead! Last Sunday was the final day of “winter”, if you can even call it that. Ever since Monday, it has been all down hill. I am already feeling the dampness on my skin whenever I get out or even if I am at home without the air conditioner. Today was the first day that I had to turn the AC on at 5 pm, because the house was so warm! I have not turned the AC on in almost 3 months because it has been so pleasant. But that bubble has burst and I am dreading, almost scared, of the heat to come.

When I used to live in Mumbai in the late 90s, I lived through some of the worst summers of my life. So I know what is ahead of me. I know that when I wake up in the morning and walk out of my air-conditioned bedroom, the rest of the house will be warm and heavy, like a dense cloud of humidity drifted in through the night, sitting pretty in the house, waiting to consume me as soon I open my eyes.

When I walk out of the house, I know that I will be drenched with sweat; cascades of sweat gushing down my back and face, making me curse my fate and my decision to live in Mumbai. I know it, I can get a whiff of what is to come and I know that I will have to face a very harsh summer, after a long, long time. I will have to endure the warm nights, the sultry afternoons, the way my hands and feet bloat, the 100 heat boils that create a blanket over my hands, and the irritation and frustration that I often feel when I have to live in this extreme weather.

Yes, I am fearful for my life because I know how the Mumbai heat has affected me in the past, and I know how difficult it has been for me, because I hate the heat. I just hate it. Put me in an igloo and I will take that anytime. But not the heat in Mumbai. Because this heat is no simple heat… is a combination of humidity and air pollution all wrapped up. I really hope that this weather – 35 degrees Celsius/ 93 degrees Fahrenheit (in February!!!!) – will temper down and this is just a short spell of weather madness. But really, who am I kidding?