Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Where we react to that episode of that TV show

I just watched that episode of Grey's Anatomy. The one from a few weeks ago, the one that everyone who knows the show exists knew about within minutes of it happening, because this is not a fandom that is able to contain its spoilers.

I've been catching up on this season of the show over the past ten days or so, and have had a lot of thoughts that I wanted to blog about once I was done with the season. But now that I've gotten through this episode, I need to react to this episode in isolation, separate from the rest of it.

There's always that one episode of Grey's Anatomy that gets to me every season, and makes me beak down and bawl like an idiot. In its 11th season, this one was it. The last ten minutes of the episode were it.

The episode reminded me of this conversation.

The episode reminded me of a moment that took place in college. I was presenting in class. What I was presenting on, I can't remember. But I remember the room we were in, and where I was standing. I remember my professor telling us about her father, and how she had to take the decision to end his suffering, because her mother couldn't. I remember standing, facing my classmates, and watching each and everyone of them sobbing at my professor's matter of fact narration. I remember wondering why I wasn't sobbing. I remember my professor rolling her eyes and turning to me, saying "chalo, at least you're still the sensible one. Let's carry on now." I remember beginning my presentation, and having to stop because my voice broke. I remember taking a deep breath and starting again, only to break down completely. I remember turning around to face the wall, taking long and deep breaths and trying to get it together. I remember turning back, mouthing sorry to my professor as she looked at me exasperatedly, and continuing with my presentation.

I remember thinking if just the thought of having to take such a decision could shatter me like this, how had my professor survived it. And I remember thinking I wanted to be like her when I grew up.

The episode reminded me of a decision my family took two summers ago. I remember us spending weeks, trying to put off the inevitable. I remember us looking at each other, knowing we had to, but looking for reasons not to. I remember each of us, one by one, finally saying yes. I remember my brother asking for three days. I remember spending those three days, trying to pile in every moment we possibly could. I remember wondering once or twice why we were were prolonging the agony. I remember taking her for a walk with my brother. I remember coming back from the walk and seeing her refuse to enter the house. I remember her lying down in our driveway, and refusing to move from there, as if she knew what was about to happen. I remember the vet arriving, and all of us sitting around her while he did what he had to do. I remember the scream I let out when it happened.

And anyone who tells me I can't, or shouldn't, compare that memory with the loss of losing a parent, a spouse, or a child, can go fly a kite.

This damn show. It just gets to you, man.

That is all.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pieces of me

I have these nights, occasionally, when I don't get sleep all night. They used to happen only when I went home to India and was jetlagged - I always had that one night of staying up. But over the last year or so, they've happened a few times for no discernible reason.

It happened again last Sunday. I'd been lazy all weekend, and done close to nothing productive. I needed to get up early on Monday because I had folks coming to look at something in the apartment before I left for work, and I had an event to go to Monday evening that I knew I'd be coming back from fairly late. And there I was Sunday night, trying to sleep, but more alert and awake than I had been all weekend.

Someone asked me, when I told them about this, if it was because I was stressed about something. I don't think so, was my response. There's nothing I can think of that's stressing me out at the moment, and if there was something in my subconscious, chances are my should would have informed me by beginning to ache. So, I don't think so.

*************

I don't know when I turned into this movies-based-on-comic books fangirl. I've never read a comic book in my life, but I now watch every single Marvel or DC based TV show that is currently on air (except Gotham, because that show bored the heck out of me). And I just read the first review of the Avengers movie that is releasing next week, and it's got me so ridiculously excited that I need to tell the world about it. When did this happen to me?

(On thinking about it a little more, I think we can all agree to blame the brother for this. Pretty sure it all started when he dragged to watch The Dark Knight.)

*************

I have a Bangladeshi coworker who sits one cube over. A mutual friend introduced us soon after we both moved into our current department, with the words "just wanted to you both to know of each other, in case you were planning to say things in Bengali hoping no one else would understand." Very kind of him, I have to say.

So, this coworker. Conversations with her are quite straightforward and fun, and she has a fairly matter of fact way of talking. So it entertains me no end that occasionally, I'll hear her on the phone, talking in Bengali, either to her husband or parents or some other relatives, and the sheer whininess that creeps into her tone is simply amazing. It's in our blood, you guys.

*************

Along with priority and my own name at the end of an email, I think we can add occasionally to the list of words I can never spell correctly on the first go. I've spelt it incorrectly every single time in this post (which also tells me I use it fairly often).

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Halka Aunty style

One of the nicest things about the company I work for is that, for the most part, they really don't care how you dress. We moved to a casual dress code a while back, and so as long as you're not meeting customers or external partners (or y'know, working in Finance), it's jeans and a sweatshirt every single day if you want.

And since it's a company with a very internationally diverse employee base, which includes a large number of Indians - especially, and this is fact, on the floors IT sits on - I could honestly wear a salwar kameez every day if I wanted to. I've done it occasionally over the past year or so, especially on festivals and such, and it's nice to be able to do that.

So this morning, after getting dressed and ready to leave for work fairly early for a change, I started running over the things I need to do, and realized I need to call the grandmother for nobo borsho - the Bengali New Year - as well as the parents, and probably send the brother a text that he should call them as well (which, now that I think of it, I didn't end up doing). And in all that mental processing, I decided what the heck, let's wear Indian today. And so I pulled out the new white kurta and orange dupatta I had bought a few weeks ago (along with green leggings, in the hope of wearing this outfit for one of the World Cup matches), and wore them with my black jeans. And it struck me, all over again, how much I miss wearing salwar kameezes and dupattas. My fabulous dupattas, mostly.

And since this blog seems to be big on random memories and anecdotes lately, here's one that came to me today. The dupatta I chose to wear today is one of those silky ones that keep slipping off. However, the kurta has embroidery similar to Lucknow-i chikankari, so I decided to wear the dupatta long, over just one shoulder, because that was keeping it in place. And it reminded me of a friend my mother had, back when I was a kid. This lady - Alka Aunty - always wore her dupattas over one shoulder. She was the only lady I knew who wore them that way, and it fascinated me, probably because she was the only one who wore them that way in Chandigarh as far as I could tell. And so when I pretended to dress up, I would wear them the same way, and say I was wearing them "Halka Aunty style" - because apparently at the age of 5, I couldn't say her name properly.

She moved away years ago, and I have no idea where she is today. But it was fun today, wearing a dupatta "Halka Aunty style".

Thursday, April 09, 2015

The odd flashback

A gazillion or so years ago, when I was still in college, I was walking from home to the neighbourhood market - in all likelihood, to visit the lending library run by the sweetest old man ever, who lent all books for 5 rupees for the first day, and 1 rupee for every subsequent day. Unless you were borrowing a Mills & Boon, in which case it was a flat 2 rupees per day.

Anyway, so I was walking. I got a lot of walking done during the years I visited his shops. But this particular walk has always stayed with me because I was walking past the park (which just proves how long ago this is, because that park was taken away from the kids who used to play there to be turned into a hospital or something because it was a legal mandate but then they abandoned the construction halfway through, so now this half-built hospital just sits there, empty, and someday they're going to make a movie where someone comes to visit their past and this hospital will be where they go first because they used to play cricket there or something and I really should stop digressing so much back to the walk), and suddenly I could hear rain falling. Which was weird, because it was bright and sunny and slightly humid and I definitely didn't have an umbrella but I wasn't wet either. But I could hear the rain fall. And then I walked two steps forward and found myself feeling the drizzle. I took one step back and it was dry. I walked forward again, and could feel the rain again.

I was reminded of this moment earlier today, on my drive to work. It's been windy and cloudy for the last few days, with stormclouds threatening to burst but never quite getting there. And this morning was no different as I drove. But then I turned right, and then got on the expressway a minute later, and suddenly my car was bathed in sunlight.

It was a nice moment.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

In retrospect

I made myself write a sort of monthly update at the end of February, but somehow the past few months have been such a blur that maybe it's a good idea to think about them as a whole. I'm trying to figure out why I've been on the go so constantly, because it's not like I haven't had my down time. But it has sort of felt like I'm hurtling down a tunnel, towards something I'm not sure how I feel about.

Well, when you put it that way...

Work, for the past several months, has involved a massive project. And the end is in sight. But the end being in sight means things are crazy, stressful, and all sorts of things. When I came into this role last year, I was told by my predecessor one of the most important things for me to do would be managing upwards. And that's been the most useful piece of advice I got from her. My boss tends to... freak out. Which in many ways is a good thing, because I'm the same, but having to calm her down meant I stayed calm. The thing is, that approach worked till about mid-February, when things got so crazy that I wasn't staying calm anymore. So over the past couple of weeks, I've had her looking at me asking "so, are you okay?" and telling me to calm down.

When I was in school, exam time meant I used to invariably, without fail, get stress pains in my shoulder. In later years, that pain showing was my way of finding out I'm stressed about something. There would be big days - job interview, important project milestones - when I would think I'm fine, and then the pain would start and I would think, "there we go". For the past eight weeks, that pain has been in my shoulders pretty much constantly. At times it's also felt like there's a sledgehammer floating over my head, about to fall at any moment. More recently, the subconscious has gone from just a shoulder pain to just really weird dreams.

So given the work situation, the personal front has taken a bit of a backseat. Moving, having the father here, falling sick, and the big trip - they all happened just as work was getting crazy. So once I got back, there hasn't been much time for anything other than work. I've had to force myself to handle things on the home front, be social, or even maintain any kind of online presence. I have to remind myself to look at twitter, tumblr, or even feedly these days. Which makes me a lot more productive at work, but leaves me feeling a little... lost sometimes. I haven't even kept up with the latest movies or music from Bollywood, which as anyone who knows me will tell you is just wrong. But when you're on a 16 hour flight listening to a Bollywood channel where you can't recognize any song other than Punjabi Wedding Song, you know you've been missing out on things.

A friend got engaged a week ago, and as I spoke to him to find out details, and to other mutual friends to figure out if/how we're attending his wedding, I realised I hadn't spoken to any of them since the beginning of the year. And that's ridiculous even by my standards.

And then there's been the World Cup. Given the time differences, I haven't kept up with it as much as I would have liked. Night have been spent dozing on my couch with the TV on, jerking awake every time the decibels went up because a wicket had fallen. And when this is happening in parallel with the aforementioned work project, it all makes for a very exhausted body.

So just last week, I've had two nights of less than two hours of sleep due to cricket heartbreak, two nights of less than four hours of sleep because of friends texting stories just as you're trying to fall sleep, waking up periodically through the night because colleagues who are working through the night are sending updates and you need to know, dammit, and calls scheduled for really early in the morning.

Amidst all of this, there was one other thing. I turned 30 a few weeks ago. I was utterly depressed about this milestone, didn't want to do anything to celebrate, but didn't want to be lame and sit at home either, so it was a relief when a friend decided to organize a dinner on my behalf. Not one person - friend, colleague, relative - let me forget all day just how old I was turning, but it was touching to see how many people bothered to remind me, I suppose. And of course, once you actually get past the milestone, nothing really changes.

So yes, the days have been about work, and the nights have been about cricket, and everything else has fallen by the wayside. But all of that has finally come to a close this weekend. So it's time to pick up the threads of my life, talk to friends more, start taking care of myself a little more, start taking care of my apartment a little more, maybe even tweet a little more.

Let's see how much of that actually happens.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Where my subconscious starts acting up

There have been weird dreams lately.

Two nights ago, when I had only 90 minutes to sleep between the heartbreaking end of a match, and y'know, work, I dreamt nonstop about the call I had to get on half an hour after waking up, and how everything on the call was going wrong and it was all my fault.

Which is weird because though things have been stressful at work lately, I thought I've become the sort of person who leaves work at work. Once I'm home, I'm not really thinking about it. Clearly my subconscious believes otherwise.

Then last night. Slept relatively earlyish, although not as early as I would have liked to. I knew I had calls starting super early this morning, but I also knew colleagues were working through the night and sending status updates, so I kept waking up and reading emails. So again, clearly not as switched off as I like to think.

But in between those periods of being awake, the dreams. But first, a side bar. I've been getting used to the new apartment, and one of the things to get used to is that there is an attached garage for my car, and a door to enter the apartment through the garage - one of the main reasons I was sold on this apartment, to be honest. Now because of this garage door, the main entrance to the apartment is hardly ever used. It took me three days to realize a package had been left outside my front door, because I never checked. And then the other day, I came home and knew I had to leave again in 15 minutes, so I parked outside the garage and tried to enter through the front door. Only to realize that my paranoia of keeping both locks on the door locked ever since getting robbed some years ago meant I couldn't open the door from outside. So I went in through the garage, and then left ten minutes later through the front door. Only when I came back two hours later, and this time parked in the garage and therefore tried to enter through the garage door, I couldn't, because paranoia meant I had double locked the garage door this time.

I would like take a moment here to publicly apologize to the mother for rolling my eyes every time she talked about how many doors she has keep track of and make sure are locked in her house, since I clearly can't manage even two. Which does not mean I won't roll my eyes in the future.

End side bar.

So the dreams last night. I dreamt I was leaving the apartment through the front door, and as I was locking up, some woman who I didn't recognize but who in the dream seemed to be some sort of nemesis of mine bumped into me and we had... words. When I come back some hours later, I enter my apartment to find every piece of furniture I own has been stolen, and I'm left with nothing. So the conclusion is she stole my key when we had our altercation and so I go to the police station which is nothing like any police station I've ever seen because it's so pretty and for some reason this nemesis of mine is already there and we have words again, and then suddenly, there is time travel and I'm back at the exact moment I was locking my apartment door that morning. Cut to later when I'm telling someone how this time, I knew she was waiting to bump into me and steal my key so I made sure that didn't happen (how, I have no idea). Cut to that evening when I come home and everything is in its place so yay time travel.

And then I woke up because the father was calling to make sure I was up for the first of my early morning calls.

So... the important question here is - is the past tense of dream dreamt? Or dreamed?



Friday, March 06, 2015

Where I add to the noise without saying anything at all

For everyone who is outraged that the video has been banned, I'd like to ask you: who's really watching the video? and gaining/learning anything from it?

For everyone who is outraged that the video was made and is being viewed, and creating a furore because things are so much worse elsewhere, I'd like to direct you what some people like to call the Sainath fallacy.

And for the record, no, I haven't watched it, I haven't read much about it, because I can't. I would if I could. But as I've said before, I can't anymore. I am so exhausted from the perpetual outrage and the never ending latest atrocity and the continual latest example of complete and utter misogyny that I just can't.

And I don't know what the solution is. All I know is I don't see one, at all.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Where we force ourselves to end the writer's block

I suppose I should take solace in the fact that I stuck to my two-posts-a-month plan for at least a year. I suppose the streak was bound to end sometime. I could offer the excuse that it's been a crazy, hectic month, and I haven't known if I've been sitting or standing half the time for the past few weeks, but since I'm the only one interested in those excuses, how does it matter?

It was a bit of a doozy of a month, though. I moved apartments - well, technically, on January 31, but it's never just the actual day of moving, is it? It's the week of packing that precedes the move, and the weeks of unpacking that comes after. Luckily, I was very strategic about my moving plans - I made the father come stay with me and do it all. He landed three days before moving day to find I hadn't even started packing, and left three weeks later. Based on those three weeks, I can report that it is just nice to have a parent around to take care of you when you're sick, no matter how old you get (more on getting old later), and I'm pretty sure he now has seen more of the DFW metroplex thanks to all his gallivanting with a college friend who happens to live in the area.

I would also like to report that contrary to the impression the previous paragraph may have given, I am a wonderful daughter who really doesn't get enough credit for doing things like actually getting through an entire dinner with said college friend of the father without once informing him how utterly obnoxious an individual he is.

I write really long sentences.

Moving on. The highlight of February, though, was the weekend after the father left. Actually, let's face it, it's probably the highlight of the year because I'm not sure how anything is supposed to top going to Australia to see India play South Africa in the World Cup and have them actually win the way they did. The trip was something I'd been talking about doing for years, had been met by skepticism by all near and dear ones, made actual, concrete plans for almost nine months ago, and the fact that it all actually worked out is something I'm still finding a little hard to believe.

In other news, my phone is slowly but steadily seeing all its organs fail. No, really, I don't know how else to describe it. Six months ago, the camera stopped working. I mean, I'm in Chicago, clicking photos of the mother, and one second she takes a really nice photo of me; the next, the camera just fails. Then, a month ago, it stopped playing any music files. So how I'm supposed to listen to any Bollywood music, I dunno - especially since no matter how many times I clear my Saavn queue, that darn playlist I made the mistake of listening to two years ago keeps popping back up. So yeah, I might need to replace my phone soon, but I've promised myself a tablet as a birthday gift this year, so munnies will go to that, and I'm being all indecisive about things.

Speaking of. Birthdays. Sigh. The big 3-O is nearly here. Can we have February last forever please? Let this month just... not end.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Of recipes and memories

My mother has a bookshelf in her kitchen that has a number of cookbooks on it. Most of them are bought, but among them is a blue diary**, with yellow pages that are falling apart, holding a number of loose sheets of paper shoved in within its pages.

This diary has my Thamma's handwriting all over it. I'm not sure how my mother, the youngest bahu, ended up with it, but for most of my childhood, I remember that being the go-to book that would be spread open in the kitchen any time my mother was making carrot cake, or baked vegetables, or one of several other recipes.

I don't remember seeing it being used all that often in recent years - partially, I suspect, because I paid less attention, but also I suppose because some of those recipes have probably been used often enough to make referring to the actual recipe unnecessary.

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a good cook. I like the idea of cooking, and do it from time to time. But it doesn't come instinctively to me, and that frustrates me. When someone rattles off a recipe on the phone to me, it's pointless because I won't remember any of it. And when anyone tells me to add something "andaaze se", it makes me want to tear my hair out. I need to see a recipe to make anything, and I need to be told exactly how much to put in of every single item I'm adding.

I own one cookbook, and I have a number of recipes saved in my email or my browser favorites. But a few weekends ago, I found an unused notebook I had bought impulsively a couple of years ago (hello, cute puppy on cover of diary. come home with me, yes?), and never used more than two pages of. One of those pages was a to-do list, and the other page was a recipe. And just like that, without really thinking it through, I found myself spending the next hour painstakingly writing down the recipes for the ten or fifteen recipes I use on a regular basis, along with a few that I want to try at some point.

This notebook is now sitting in my kitchen, and has been referred to twice or thrice in the past few weeks. I'm hoping it gets used more often, and that it gets added to more often, and that eventually, I won't really need to refer to it that often, but that it will still sit there, waiting to be opened up and looked at.



** Update: The mother has emailed me to point out that I have my diaries all mixed up. Apparently the one with Thamma's cake recipes is a brown leather bound diary, while the blue one is something she herself used to save and scribble recipes in, and was originally given to her by her father-in-law so she could learn to read and write Bengali.

I was a kid, okay. But the point is the same, really.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

On Broadchurch

If you haven't watched the show Broadchurch, and intend to at some point (and I highly recommend you do because it is amazing), this post may not be for you (also don't search for the show online - at all). Because I spent about six hours yesterday watching all eight episodes at one go, and I'm trying to decide why and how I figured out who the killer was. So even if I don't name the killer outright in this post, the way I try to analyze this might, as they say, give the game up.

So, here's the thing. I'm the person who turns to the last page of a mystery book to see who the killer is - once I form a suspicion of my own, that is. I can't help it, that's who I've been since I started reading Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark in my early teens, and I do it till today.

So yesterday, when I started watching Broadchurch, I think it was in the third or fourth episode when a very friendly and nice scene made me wonder. And then  I obviously did a search on the show, while watching, without really intending to find out if I was write. And as it turned out, one of the first results that popped up explicitly stated - as a synopsis in the results page itself - that the second season of the show will be about said character's trial. So a, I was right! B, don't do a search for the show if you've got this far in this post and still want to watch the show, 'kay?

So what I'm trying to figure out is why I thought it was this person. Was it simply because this person, by this point in the series, was honestly the least likely person? And reading and groaning over Agatha Christie as a teenager invariably makes me suspect the least likely person? Or was it the fact that one of the lead cops on the case kept showing her trust in the people she knew, the community she lived in, and the other lead cop kept telling her not to be so certain? And the person I suspected was, after all, the person she would have been most certain about?

And then - this is the truly spoilery part - there's the part where she looks at another woman, who has suffered a different tragedy, and judges her for not knowing. "How could you not know?", she asked. That line was bound to come back to haunt her, wasn't it? By the time that scene took place, even I hadn't already decided and found out who the killer was, the scene was set up, my first thought would have been, "well, aren't you going to regret saying those words."

I think. Would it have been? Would I have seen the point of that scene as clearly if I hadn't peeked ahead? I can't decide, and that's what's bothering me.

I really need to stop peeking ahead when I'm reading/watching mysteries.

Also, for those of you have who have watched the show, is there any point to watching Gracepoint? Because I still don't understand why they remade it the way they did. And I'm wondering I should spend another six hours (or longer since I hear they added a couple of episodes) to see the point of the remake. No, right? Tell me I shouldn't spend that kind of time. Please?