Monday, December 30, 2013

The belated budday post

I have decided to embrace 26.
I got introduced to disco funk this year and it changed my life.
Disco music lyrics are profound if you really listen to them.
I dislike people who dramatize issues.
Just say it like it is, dammit!

There are Boys. And there are Men. And then there is Boysz II Men. 
What impresses in a guy is boldness and clarity of thought.
I've realised that those two are closely interlinked.
Some men can really pull off beards.

There are too many people prying into other people's lives on social media. 
I'm one of them. 
I prefer American spelling to British when it comes to z's but I can't stand color. 
Not using punctuation makes me feel like an editorial rebel oh the joy

I want to grow lots of plants.
I talk to the plants I currently have.
I want to have a pet cow.
I want to memorize the Chicago Manual of Style.
I just cannot get myself to kill a mosquito; I will hide under the sheets but I just cannot kill it with my bare hands.
This year I met someone who influenced, revamped and almost completely changed my way of thinking. That counts for something...
I've got a checklist of trains I need to take.
I like going to places alone.
I like walking alone on busy streets. 

I admire people who can make quick and firm decisions.
I admire people who can stick to a decision, even if I think the decision is wrong.
I am constantly surprised at how bitchy women can be, especially groups of women.
When I'm extremely suspicious about something, there usually is reason to be. 
I trust my instinct.

Many things in life are about the right timing.
If you really want to do something, and you have the means to do it, do it now.

A few worthwhile pieces of advice I heard this year:
You don't have to tell everybody everything -- during a game of Never Have I Ever, when I got a little too excited.
Don't bring your emotional baggage from one relationship into another -- when I did.
Just listen to music and be happy -- friend's advice on dealing with a bad day.
Don't curse the hand that feeds you -- overheard a rain-drenched parking lot boy saying this to another rain-drenched parking lot boy when he swore at his job.
Don't give up without a fight -- much-needed support from a dear friend over email. 

I carry everything when I travel.
I live on lists.
People say things all the time - you chose whether you let it affect you. 
I've learnt to be picky about the things I worry about. 
I think I'm becoming meaner with age.
If only I became leaner as well.
Me? Defensive?
Don't get married until you want to get married to the person you want to get married to.
Dream big. 
Look after yourself.
Laugh a lot. When the wind changes, at least your face will be stuck looking happy.

The Western Ghats remain my favourite destination.
Put things in writing.
I'm simply awful at remembering faces. I invited the office electrician to my cubicle to 'have a chat' thinking he was my typesetter. He still looks at me expectantly every time I run into him on the stairs.
I can't sit still.
Media has power.
I like big groups of people.
I love home parties.
I hate being called a cute comics girl.
I'm not 'cute' and I'm not 'bubbly'. I'm a brooding artist. So there. 

My favourite movie of all time is still Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
Checked shirts make me happy.
I once went to a mall with a friend who picked clothes that fit me perfectly - and I bought all of them a size bigger, much to her despair.
I love going to the gym. It's a mental workout. 
I want to draw and write for the rest of my life.
Sleep is a solution.
Our driver is investing all his resources into educating his son who wants to be an engineer. It is both heart-warming and heart-rending to see.
We can be oblivious to sacrifices that our parents make (as Indian kids especially). 
I'm always surprised to find that there is still an ABBA song I don't know in spite of having devotedly listened to them for most of my childhood.
I want to do up a house from scratch one day

Life is short - give and live whole-heartedly. 
Eat those apples, take your vitamins and be healthy. 
I have learnt to forgive and let go, one of the hardest lessons I learnt this year. 
Okay, I'm still learning. 

I found my way around on two wheels this year. 
Four wheels happening soon. 
I would like to learn an Indian classical instrument.
I'm adamant. 
I dislike watching movies most of the time unless it's a movie I pick.
That meaning of that dislikable word, prioritize, makes a lot of sense. 
I have trouble doing pedicures - I feel like apologising every time someone touches my feet. 
Showers, hot or cold, bring rationale to me.
No matter how much you edit, there will always be that teeny thing you missed out.
I love to sing.
I'm switching to drinking only wine.
Girl friends are irreplaceable.
Oranges are my favourite fruit.
Being single can be exhilarating.
Being in love can be steadying.
I am incredibly grateful for the people around me.
I am touched by all the love. It's overwhelming.
I sound like MJ now.

I dislike living alone.
I've been told I'm a difficult person to live with.
I'm a walky talky bunch of contradictions and I think that gets on everybody's nerves. 
26 is going to be amazing.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Never allow yourself to be bullied and never take crap from people. Because if you do, they will continue to bully you and give you crap.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


It is when I listen to George Benson while cutting tomatoes, frying onions and learning how to fold tortillas from a YouTube video in an empty house that I feel like I am in a space where nobody can touch me.

After three days of PMSing and feeling hopeful, sad, relieved and heartbroken all at the same time I spent a blissful Sunday evening cooking. 

I usually have three ways of dealing with stress - taking a shower, walking and cleaning. Showering works particularly when I'm angry - I feel the water running down from my hair to my toes takes away stored thoughts and emotions and preps me to start afresh. Toss in a strong, violent shower gel and that'll keep me going for weeks. 

Walking, of course, is a form of meditation in itself. There are few things I like more than the mindless movement of my legs, one after another, in a continuous, lulling motion. In Vellore, my walks were my manna - my secret escapades into paddy fields and places undiscovered. I walked in rubber chappals and old clothes that had were torn and dotted with holes from thorn bushes I'd inadvertently walk into. In a city, I do the city thing - walk briskly in big shoes with my ipod plugged into my ears with the volume on ridiculous levels. Inside the joggers' park, there are usually too many people walking in a limited space -- too  many calves in a blur in front of me -- some salwar-clad, some plump, some hairy, some toned and muscular. Too many ambling groups of people blocking the path, so I have to clear my throat loudly so that they move and give me space to proceed. So I find it easier to walk outside the park, where I encounter the daily dogs and uncles and aunties, with an exchange of friendly waves and nods spreading the much-needed morning warmth. 

And then sometimes I clean. Re-arranging books, scrubbing the carpet, washing clothes, all with loud music on makes me feel like I'm ridding the world of some of its sins. I clean with a vengeance. I clean like the PM's coming to visit. I iron my shirts keeping symmetry in mind. Oh cleaning is something I do rarely, but when I do it, I go all out.  And so at least once in ten days I put my mind, body and soul into bringing law and order into my otherwise chaotic universe. What a joy it can be.

Cooking is the new activity I've taken to recently. Today, after a particularly irritating day and a terrible backache, I walked to Ratnadeep (a store where I can spend hours and hours picking veggies and breads). After spending a considerable amount of time looking celery sticks, different brands of canned corn, hunting for extra black kohl (so I can step into my goth look next week), and wondering what Jockey undies are doing next to the utensils section, I walked out in a daze. At home, I arranged my ingredients in the kitchen with a sort of reverence, plugged in George Benson with the volume on neighbours-are-gonna-call levels, and set about spraying my pan with olive oil and sauteing my veggies. I dumped - no, I placed the tortillas on a microwave plate and meanwhile, looked at a hundred videos of how to fold tortillas. Having got it right the first time, I took photos of the second time and sent it to various people expectantly. Maybe I overdid it and sent too many pics because nobody replied. 

But who cares? I cooked. I de-stressed. I Grooved to Georgie. It was an evening bloody well spent. And now to tuck into the tortilla-frankie-burrito-creations with mother and watch Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani on TV.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


​When you really want someplace else, here is shoved right into your face. ​

Thursday, October 17, 2013


I've known some songs forever and ever but I've never bothered to listen to their lyrics properly. Once in a while, the words of a song will suddenly make themselves heard. Here are some lyrics that spoke to me of late.

1. Oo, loneliness will blind you
In between the wrong and the right 

-One of these nights, Eagles 

I always sang it as: 

Oo, loneliness will find you
In between the wrong and the right 

which I think makes more sense to me. I think both hold true.

2. More wisdom.

I guess every form of refuge has its price

 -Lyin' eyes, Eagles

3. This one has to be the one I worked hardest at "by-hearting" and singing along with when I was in school. And only now I realise what they're saying. Super funky lyrics. The rest of the song is pretty awesome too.

...And I am taken to a place where
Your crystal mind and
Magenta feelings take up shelter
In the base of my spine... 

-I want you, Savage Garden 

4. The next one is bloody corny, yet so romantic. One of their best songs. 

I am the man
who loves you inside and out
backwards and forwards with
my heart hanging out

-Love you inside out, Bee Gees

5. Kickass song, and what an intro.

Oh what a feeling I get when Im with you
You take my heart into everything you do  

- Bad love, Eric Clapton 
6. A reminder, no matter how cliched, we all need. Probably one of the catchiest, best sing-along choruses ever.

So tonight gotta leave that nine to five upon the shelf
And just enjoy yourself
Groove, let the madness in the music get to you
Life ain't so bad at all

- Off the wall, MJ

7. A reminder of a different kind.

We're looooooost in the middle of a hopeless world

-Children of the Moon, Alan Parsons Project

8. I like how disco music has quite brilliant lyrics if only you stop to listen to it. 

Now you've got yours
What about me? 

-What about me, Chic

To keep in touch
All you need is love and music
To keep you satisfied please use it

-We got music, Incognito 

It's really all in the way they're sung. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

a childhood made of dreams

I don't know where my parents procured the Magic Toothbrush from, but it remains, to this day, the single most fascinating thing I have ever seen in my life. My brother and I woke up one day to find that we had just willed the 'changing colour' toothbrush to jump straight out of the TV ad into our hands. We carefully filled a mug full of hot water and dipped the brushes in it, waiting in anticipation. And sure enough, the purple toothbrush turned into a blush of pink and my brother's red into a happy yellow. (Ei my colour is better!, I told him triumphantly.)

And so every morning we spent a considerable amount of time dipping the toothbrushes in hot water, waiting for them to change colour, and watching them gradually fade back to their original colours while we brushed. In the household's morning madness of only-one-hour-running-water, dubbas to be packed and tiffins to be carried, the event of brushing our teeth suddenly assumed prime importance. 


We were fortunate enough to live just across the street from Walden, one of Hyderabad's best-loved bookstores, and next to Prime Time,' the dashing-car place'. And of course, we were fortunate enough to have parents who walked us across that street. Baker's Inn was a stone's throw away, and soon, Pizza Inn, one of Hyderabad's first pizza outlets came up behind it. There's a secret underground passage between the two, my brother told me, in hushed tones. Only I know about it. I'll take you some day. He never did.

I worshipped my brother for many years of my childhood. He was So Cool. He taught me to blow Big Babol bubblinggum bubbles. He read to me every night the abridged version of Count of Monte Cristo (which, for the longest time, I called CountayMontay Cristo). He took me on bike rides. He was Star Swimmer in Secunderabad Club, another place which adopted us when we were kids. He could do Scary Folded Eyelids. He taught me to play book cricket and 'house, hut, palace'. He got home tamarind seeds from his school, and I rubbed them against each other all day, trying to make a fire. He taught me swear words (unintentionally). But his Hero status ended abruptly, when, one night, I was woken up by a ghostly, ghastly apparition hovering over me, moving its pseudopodia-like arms about furiously. BOOOOOO, it rumbled at me menacingly. AAAAAAHHH!!, I screamed. When my parents pulled the bedsheet off his face, I went to bed furious, resolving to be a better judge of character in future.

And then there was the Curious Case of the Cupboard Cricket.  A Godrej almirah stood like a morose sentinel in the room that my brother and I shared. Every night it would emit a series of shrill chirps, following which Anna would give it a bang, and the noise would stop. After five minutes, it would start again. What is this cricket? I asked my mom. She said it was a harmless insect. I rummaged about at the back of the cupboard one day trying to find it. I had (thankfully) never seen a cricket before. (The sight of crickets today makes me jump like I'm one of their own.) I didn't find the insect, but I found an old giant pop-up birthday card instead.


Pop-up cards were something. So were yo-yos. So were my dad's beautiful letterhead papers that he carefully brought for me from various hotels that he stayed in. And then there were my mom's cakes. And Diwali sweets. And Holi pitchkaris. And notebook labels with cartoons on them. Balloons from Tank Bund were a special treat. And Lucky Dips.  And cups I would fill with soap water and blow bubbles out of with a straw (I later graduated, with the help of the maid, to blowing rin soap bubbles right off my hand). Santa came to Walden every Christmas. The annual house-washing event was also looked forward to with enthusiasm because the soapy floor favoured skating adventures. 

Summers were spent in my grandparents' place in Gujarat, where my cousins and I grew up eating mangoes, getting into neighbourhood fights, adopting street cows and generally having a notoriously gala time. We slept on the terrace on rajais, after having had puri-Shrikhand and having listened to my uncle's bedtime stories under the night sky. My grandfather was a great storyteller too - tales of the Trojan horse, anecdotes from the Mahabharat, quotes from Wodehouse, his own experiences as a teacher. In Chennai, another uncle, a sailor, told me stories of his travels, of ships and whales and tornados, and I waited patiently for an octopus to show up in them. A older cousin once came home and taught us to make boats of paper and camphor and float them in our bath buckets.

School was an altogether strange and surreal world. Maria placed cracker (balsam) seeds on her tongue, upon which they exploded. She could also walk on her hands. It was my dream to excel in similar feats. There were skeletons in the lab (that came alive at night with glowing red eyes) and crocodiles in the drain. There was piano class, where you could open up a piano to see the hammers hitting the strings. SUPW taught us to make jumping frogs out of paper. There was groupism and tree-climbing and ice-cream uncle and there were fights and tears and iodine knees. There were competitions and choir practice and dramatics (where I appointed myself as pianist for fear of being made an inanimate object).

Out of school hours, I was made, like many other kids, to learn Bharatnatyam and Carnatic music. When I hit a couple of notes on the Casio, my parents enrolled me for piano lessons. I made a get-well-soon card for my brother with a pig's face on it - and this, taken to be the sign of a budding artist - prompted my parents to send me to a variety of art and craft classes. And so I learnt to stitch odd-looking soft toys, paint on glass, mould pots and flowers from POP, pencil-sketch, carve sola wood, make gift boxes, write calligraphy, and what not. Happy with the fruits of their encouragement, my parents tried badminton and tennis on me but soon discovered that I was a lazy lump of lard. I did enjoy periodically poking the touch-me-nots growing by the court, though.


We also travelled quite a bit, during which the family transformed into a bunch of jokers. My dad worried about shower pressure in hotels. My mother worried about wild animals and about my brother, who went Too Close to Edges. I gambolled along gaily. In Hyderabad, we went annually to the P C Sorcar magic show and to my favourite childhood haunt, the Birla Science Museum and Planetarium. Trips to Softy Den and Pick N Move spelt Heaven.

Looking back, I feel that in more ways than many, exposure just landed on my plate. The simplest of simple things made a difference. Sometimes, my mother would deliver the love in the form of two dots and a smile of ketchup on a round uttappam. My parents, brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbours, teachers at school, teachers at various hobby classes, school friends, hobby-class friends, parents of friends, maids, drivers, watchmen, other apartment inhabitants, grocery shop uncles - everyone played an exclusive role in gifting me a glorious, magical, happy childhood. A childhood that is tangible when I rub two tamarind seeds against each other and press them on my palm, feeling the sweet, familiar thrill of their warmth.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

finding my tongue

When I was a kid, music was my thing. When someone asked me what my hobby was, I said "playing the piano". When asked what I liked to do in my free time I said "I play the piano". I was the kid who bunked sports to go sit at rusty pianos in a musty, dark room. I was subsequently punished for bunking throwball. I knelt on a tar field, tears streaming down my face, not because of humiliation, but because I wanted to go back and continue playing. I was never a performer. I managed to pass a few Trinity grades, but I disliked being asked to play for an audience. I was happy when I was alone with a piano, both of us isolated, cocooned warmly by the knowledge that nobody would come by for a long time.

That was a good fifteen years ago.

Things are the same today. I have never been a band person. I'm still not much of a performer though I like having someone to sing. I'm a pathetic jammer. But now, I don't find the contentment I used to. Playing music has become less of a vent and more of a bother. I think it's because I understand more now. Had I not started listening to Keith Jarret or Chick Corea, I would've been a happier person as a musician. I would've strung a bunch of chords together and been content. But now, I know what I want something to sound like, and I can't get that sound out of my system. And I want to spare myself from my own audience.

It is frustrating to be able to understand something and be unable to reproduce it. It also frustrating that what you once thought you were a natural at suddenly seems alien. I hate having to make an effort to play music. Just be free, they say.  Let go. At which point I let my fingers wander over the notes aimlessly, modulating, dying into meaninglessness.

Translating abstract into words, verse and sentences is different. I get a kick out of writing exactly what's in my head. It satisfies, encourages, absorbs, relieves. I don't have a role model to follow. I just sit down and talk. I see a picture in my head and I can repaint it exactly the same way without using visuals. I feel a feeling and I can recreate that feeling - or at least, the memory of it. I don't have to try to be good, or try to be interesting. I don't write for a reader. I don't have to try. The ease of expression is liberating.

Writing is my thing.