the 150-foot-journey

Oops, again I have disappeared. But this time, for good reason.

Like Christopher Columbus, I’ve arrived to a new land. Fortunately, having lived and explored India for quite some time, I did not make the same mistake he did.

Boston is no India.
But it is another lovely lovely place.IMG_1578

The feeling that keeps arising to the surface of my eyes, of my skin, of my mind would be soft. Yes, Boston seems like a soft place.

When I’ve related this to people, they usually immediately disagree. “Boston? You think Boston fans are nice?” Or “Really? But aren’t you from California?”

If I had a penny every time someone remarked, “Just you wait for the cold season…” then I could probably buy myself a vegan ice cream cone from FoMu, an amazing place I discovered last week.IMG_1577

We all have different interpretations that, in my opinion, are derived from the particular window we chose to peep through. Perhaps what we are reading, what we choose to pay attention to, and what we have experienced before in life, change the focus of our looking-glass.

I am currently studying the kleshas or afflictions that Patanjali writes about in his yoga sutras (196 terse aphorisms that explain yoga). These afflictions are what take us off the path of yoga, into what I imagine to be a ditch-like quicksand, or a spinning cycle of misery. The kleshas are responsible for our pain and suffering. They are:

avidya – ignorance,
asmita – ego,
raga – attachment,
dvesha – aversion,
and abhinivesha – fear of death.

As I dive into each one, I find it fascinating and almost comforting to know that our pain can be traced to just these five sources. The simplicity gives me hope that one day, I can live without these afflictions. That day is not today. I am DEFINITELY affected by these in my day-to-day life, like all of us human beings who suffer. But perhaps the awareness takes the heat off slightly, or helps me to catch myself from falling further into the trap…maybe. (Patanjali also gives the recipe to free ourselves from these kleshas, and if you want to know more about that, then write me an email.)

Another reason, for my perceived “softness” of Boston could be the fact that I have moved on my own four times now, to drastically different places. I expect chaos, I don’t expect things to immediately fall into place, and I know I will be a lost puppy in a new world for a while.

What’s more, I now understand when it’s time to rest, which is something HUGE for me. I give credit to India for this. The importance of pausing to regenerate and rejuvenate before moving onwards has been so successful in keeping me calm during this transition. Before, I was always running and running and trying to solve everything in vain.

IT ALSO HELPS to know how to cook a wholesome, homemade meal. That really does make me feel at home, where ever I may be. (Again, thanks India.)

So without further ado, here is my take, in this moment, of my first impressions of this new city, this new life, of this “softness.”FullSizeRender(2)

I’ve moved to Brookline, a bustling part of town filled with youthfulness. In my neighborhood, there are lots of adorable mini people, meaning chubby cheeked toddlers with bright eyes and shiny hair. There are lots of glowing, pregnant mothers pushing strollers. I often pass by young doctors and nurses in scrubs who work at the nearby medical centers. Lots of families. AND beautiful dogs! Big fluffy golden retrievers and chocolate labs bounding down from doorsteps that remind me of Luke. My kind of people.

Checkers at the store double bag my groceries before I can even blink. Sometimes the double-bag is not even necessary. Now, I am all about bringing my own bag, as much as possible. BUT, the elimination of guilt when I do forget my bag, or when I actually do need a spare paper bag is the most relieving thing; it is more rewarding than I had imagined. (Just goes to show how guilt eats us alive, even in the smallest scenarios.)

And, did I mention? I live 150 feet from Trader Joes. Yes. That is, 150 Sonia steps away to one of my favorite destinations, so who knows how many feet it really is? For me, this is a big, big win. I can go there twice a day, just to study the new products on the Fearless Flyer to my heart’s content. (Yup, I am a weird one.) And at this Trader Joes, instead of sampling coffee, they sample wine.

On first impression, I sense that the people are…real. I walk into the fish market and I meet the fisherman. His salty skin is wrinkled and he looks old, maybe a bit tired. But when he speaks, his faint voice peppered with New England reveals that fish is his life and his life is lived in fish. He can tell me about each one that he is caught, and I imagine that after his day’s work, when he returns to his family, he lives a simple, contented life.

On the other hand, the owner of the Jewish deli across the street, hollering at everyone to hurry up and order his knishes and the pickles and the pastrami and the corned beef in his thick Bostonian accent.  It is just quite exciting to stand in there watching him. Sure, maybe he’s rough around the edges, but genuine. I appreciate that in many places wherever you go, you meet the entrepreneur, the main man, selling his wares. In a way, it is like India.FullSizeRender(1)

And what has caused me pain? What has wakened my kleshas? Oh plenty.

Moving. In general, this is always tough. Heavy lifting is not my forte and for the first two weeks, I had deep blue bruises on the tops of my knees and on my forearms. But thankfully, now they have healed, and I can finally go outside without people wondering which staircase I tripped down.

The transportation system here…not a fan. Which means that very soon, I must learn to navigate a bike through traffic.

Working as a carpenter. I’ve had to learn how to use anchors to screw into dry wall. I made a few extra holes here and there, which are now discreetly covered by other objects. You would never even know that my dresser is built backwards either. Oh, the novel I could write with my carpentry secrets! I now understand why a carpenters hands are rough and blistered. After a solid three weeks of giving it a try, I don’t think I am “the man for the job” per say.

The old-ness. At first, my aged apartment building was quite a shock. I’ve made peace with the fact that it just will never look quite clean and new, because it is, well, old! But very quickly, it is growing on me and I’m actually starting to enjoy the comforting, antiquated vibe. Once I adopt a few plants, my place will really be perfect.FullSizeRender_1

I’ve hardly set foot into the city, and I am curious to re-read this post in six months or so, to see what has changed in my looking-glass. Things are going great.

That is all for now. Classes start tomorrow.
I hope you all come to visit soon!

Much love,
More later,

SONIA

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