Anubha Bhonsle talks about what taking a break did for her

Last updated 5 Dec 2015 . 3 min read

What has been the best part of my fellowship so far, my time away from a structured job, a matrix-ed way of life, a charter of things, a stream of places to get to? I think about it often. Everything I perceived as ‘things that define me’ have turned topsy turvy.

1. I take pictures one day. I write the next. I read about ethnography one day and feminism the other.

2. I learn and learn more about the crisis of our times, the refugee crisis for instance. I participate in virtual reading groups discussing Hannah Arendt’s work, more recently the Human Condition.

3. I go to libraries and gasp at small discoveries that have obviously been made before.

4. I cook my food. I walk to places. I clean my space.

5. I have made friendships that will sustain.

6. I hug more.

7. I listen more and speak less. I am more patient when people hop with their ideas and it’s articulation. I can now recognize the moments when I am about to ‘lose it’ more clearly. Once I recognize them I can delay them.

8. I can recognize what breathing better means. I run and walk now, without the pressure of New Year Resolutions. I understand the intimate intersection between running and relaxing and running and writing.

9. I have few clothes, fewer shoes and my wardrobe is a shadow of what I once used to own.

10. I look at myself carefully in the mirror. I am beginning to feel proud of the freckles on my cheek and the lines around my eyes. I can think of the possibility of aging gracefully. I haven’t weighed myself in months and recognize the changes my body is showing. I have accepted my hair is a strain of straight with curves and bounces.

11. I often think about ‘what I can learn next?’

12. I have an irrational exuberance.


Among my many interests, coffee, music, the play of lights on a rainy day.

13. I have accepted that it is fine to be interested in many things, to have creative pursuits that begin from reading about writers, to studying memory and justice, learning the finer mechanics of a good cup of coffee or the perfect piece of bread, collecting recipes, filling notebooks with cuttings and quotes and ideas that range from privacy to wine. It is fine. One can have an eclectic mix in one’s head.

14. I like watching trees and have come to the conclusion that the sun has a profound impact on how I feel.

Anubha Bhonsle is a Fulbright Humphrey Fellow, her book "Mother, Where's My Country?" releases Jan, 2016.

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