Monday, December 15, 2014

More woes.

This is the transcript of a call that happened between my father and me on a Monday morning in June 2014, and as is usual with my passport and visa related woes, I'm going to wait a while before I actually publish it.

Father: Hello?
Me: Father!
Father: Ye...ah?
Me: It is official, I am jinxed.
Father: Now what happened?
Me: My I-797 came in, and the I-94 at the bottom says I'm a citizen of Nigeria*. And I waited to talk to the lawyer before calling you and he says to let it be till I get my license renewed and then send it back to him to get it corrected because it'll take several weeks for the correct one to come and I have only a month before my license expires and WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING TO ME?
Father: *muffled laughter*
Me: This is NOT funny.
Father: *sniggering* I know it's not funny.
Me: Just once I would like all passport and visa related processes to go through smoothly without giving me a panic attack. JUST ONCE.
Father: Well you have several years ahead to achieve this.
Me: Do I? Do I really? This has happened every time, all my life.
Father: Well that's not true. It's only been happening in this century. Nothing happened in the last century.
Me: Is that supposed to comfort me?
Father: I'm just saying.

I would like to point out that my father continued to snicker through the entirety of this conversation.

Gah.

* For those not in the know, I was born in Nigeria, but I hold Indian citizenship. Makes filling official forms that ask for country of birth followed by country of citizenship a lot of fun.

** I showed this post to the father five minutes before hitting Publish, and he chuckled all through it. At one point he claimed he hadn't said any of this, but when I retorted I had typed this minutes after the call ended so that I wouldn't forget any of it, he went back to saying all of the above is factual. He would also like me to clarify the reason I'm an Indian citizen is that I was born in Nigeria but of Indian parentage. Apparently that wasn't too clear above. Uff.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Of retrievers and their focus

There's a video that's sorta gone viral over the last couple of days that had me cracking up the first time I saw it.



That dog knows what he wants, he does. And he reminds me of another dog, another golden retriever, who was just as single minded and focused about what she wanted.

One of my fondest memories of Kyra is this one evening when we had gone out, and got really late coming back. Kyra hadn't been given her evening meal because we weren't home to take her for her walk, so we had called to say we were five minutes away and that she could be fed. We walked in the door to see my poor ravenous princess furiously gobbling her meal, but at the same time, so thrilled to hear us walk in that her tail was literally (yes, I used it, go away) spinning with joy as she ate. But only when she finished eating did she turn around to come jump at us. She had her priorities, she did.

My princess wasn't quite aware of the fact that she was supposed to be a retriever, you know. When you threw something for her to, well, retrieve, she would run like crazy after it, pick it up, and then sit down to chew on her new treasure. So over the years, we came up with a new game. We used two toys, and when she would pick up one and sit down with it, we'd promptly throw the other. And Kyra would drop her first toy and run and pick up the second, at which point we'd throw the first toy again. Rinse. Repeat. But boy, was she focused on whichever toy she was running after.

The brother will tell you the princess was one of the most emotionally intelligent dogs to ever walk this planet. All I have to say is, there are retrievers, and there was, well, our retriever. The best dog in the world.

Certain members of my family may also point out that my use of the word "we" in this post is somewhat misleading. I will have you know I ventured into the outdoors at least once a year with her, thank you very much. Sometimes even more often. So there.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

No matter how old you get...

Yesterday, a friend asked if I wanted to go out for lunch, and then made fun of me when I said I couldn't because I had brought ma ke haath ka dal chawal from home, and had to eat it.

When I was in college, I took French classes on the weekend, and one of my classmates at the time was a woman at least 15 years older to me. She was divorced, a mother of two, and used to travel every weekend from a city that was at least three hours away by bus, if not more.

And every weekend, when we would go to the cafeteria or to the nearby market for lunch, she would refuse to buy anything because her mother had packed her lunch, and she couldn't return home without finishing whatever had been packed for her.

And we would laugh at how someone her age, who was seemingly so strong and in charge of every other aspect of her life, was so terrified of her mother.

And yet here I am, close to a decade later, sitting at my desk at work, and eating fruit - which I absolutely despise - because my mother is visiting, and has taken to packing me fruit as an evening snack because she's convinced (and partially correct) that my eating habits when she's not around are absolutely horrifying. And I can't return home without finishing whatever has been packed for me.

No matter how old you get, your mommy packs food for you, you eat.

Also, no matter how old you get, being woken up by your mommy with a cup of tea in the morning is the most amazing feeling in the world.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Diwali in Amreeka

Or at least, things you hear when trying to celebrate Diwali at the workplace in Amreeka.

On the kurta with jeans look I sported at work on Chhoti Diwali:
Colleague: That's an interesting combination of Indian and Western. Is that, umm, approved of in India?
Me: This is how I dressed pretty much every day in college.
Colleague: Really? Good for you!

On the kaju barfi I took to work, because I'm nice like that:
Whoa! What is that pretty silver thing on top? Isn't that, like, dangerous?

On the damn "omg photo of India from space on Diwali!!!" post that makes the rounds on Facebook every. single. year.:
Colleague 1: I love that photo! Why is it fake?
Colleague 2: Are you sure it's not real? I mean, you do have 1 billion people. It's possible!
Me: I'm pretty sure India doesn't even have enough electricity for that photo to be real.
Colleague 1: But it's always the Indians who post that photo.
Me: Yes, well, some Indians are idiots.

On the gorgeous Fab India dupatta I wore, gifted to me by S:
I'm beginning to realise your claims about your extensive and wonderful dupatta collection are not false.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Momentary rhapsodies

Dear world,

I would like to take a moment to rhapsodize over my new pairs of trousers. Because they're just that amazing.

They're stretchy and comfortable and fit perfectly (and in fact feel a little loose despite being my size so that makes me feel even better) and they were so cheap in the outlet mall I found them in that I bought two pairs - one black, one maroon. And I've owned them less than two days but I feel like I could alternate between the two of them for the rest of my life and be happy because they're just that amazing.

I heart Ann Taylor.

That's all folks.

Toodles.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Where I swear a lot because I don't know what else to say

A few weeks ago, a friend said he didn't want to go see Mardaani because he was tired of women's issues being rammed at him all the time. He's sure it's a serious problem, but you know, he feels like everyone's talking about it all the time. And he's so tired of hearing about it. Or words to that effect.

And I stared at him speechlessly.

A few days after that conversation, Jon Stewart did a piece on racism and the situation on Ferguson. And in that segment, he said a line which I wish I had said to my friend and which I'm going to appropriate and repeat everytime someone tells me how tired they are of hearing about women's issues.
"You're tired of hearing about it?... Imagine how fucking exhausting it is *living* it."
Let's recap the things that have happened since then, yes?

Last week, Deepika Padukone chose to speak up when the most despicable newspaper in India tweeted a video solely for the reason that her cleavage was visible in it. Said newspaper chose to sink to new depths of despicability and take offense to her speaking up because you know, if you pose for photo shoots that happen to show your cleavage, why the fuck would you object when we post photos that do the same even if those photos were taken without your knowledge or consent and then focus on them rather than anything else. Which is an argument someone on twitter tried with me too, and to which I say fuck that shit. Because no. As several other people** have pointed out, there's a very small jump from that argument to you asked to be raped because you dressed, behaved, spoke, drank, whatever the fuck else, the way you did. And as I very eloquently responded on twitter, just... no.

Then, just a few days ago, Emma Watson made an incredibly brilliant and true speech at the UN headquarters. Which got shared all over Facebook by women proudly proclaiming how they don't consider themselves feminists in the modern sense of the word but they totally agree with this speech. Like, I don't even know what the fuck that means.

But then, the next day, I saw posts on Facebook about threats that were sent the actress' way because of her speech. I haven't read the details, because I don't want to, but really? Really?

And then today, less than an hour back, the straw that broke the camel's back and brought about this post, I saw this article.

What the fuck? No really, tell me. What the fuck kind of world are we living in where anyone - anyone - thinks this is okay, funny, witty, acceptable, true?

Fuck this shit.

_____________________________


**I haven't read too many of those articles, because I can't, anymore, but I did read this piece by Deepanjana Pal, and it might be worth your time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sorry, not sorry.

I don't, in general, get too influenced by articles I read or videos I watch. Well, that's not true. I do, but not when the article or video is clearly intent on influencing you. "36 things successful people do" and "6 animals you must hug to be a happy person" won't do much for me. Sneaky and subtle works better on me.

In the last month or two, however, there have been two pieces that made an impact on me.

One was this article I read on how a password changed the author's life. Apparently, every time he changed his password, he chose a tiny (or no so tiny) goal, and keying in that password every day helped him internalize those goals and his life went from meh to whoa. Which, if you think about it, is a pretty simply yet profound way to achieve your goals. The biggest obstacle for me achieving my goals is that I really don't internalize them. I think, dude I should do that, and then forget all about it.

So I decided to try this trick. I have to change my password every few months at work, and as it happened, I had to change it soon after I read this article. So I chose a password that would remind me of something I wanted to do everyday.

In the six weeks since I've had this password, I haven't done this activity once. Not. once.

Here's the thing. It's my password at work. I never use it once I get home, and that's where I should be doing this activity. I could change all my personal passwords to something similar, but... meh.

So no, this hasn't worked so well for me.

The other piece that had an impact on me was this video Pantene came out with a while back on how women tend to say sorry for everything. I saw it, and shrugged, and went about my day. And then an hour later, I was sending someone an email asking them to clarify what they meant, and started it with "I'm sorry, but...". And I caught myself, and deleted that part of the email, and went about my day. A while later, I was emailing someone with a request for more data, and I started it with "I'm sorry, but..." And I had to again make myself delete that line from the email.

And I've caught myself doing it over and over again, the last time being an email I sent just 15 minutes back. I'm not sure why i do it. I don't know if it's my gender, my cultural context, my personality, or what. Saying women do this seems too easy an explanation, but maybe it's true. But I had never realized I do it so often till I saw this video. And I'm trying to stop.

So unlike a blog post I wrote a month or so back, I'm not ending this one with "sorry, you guys".

Because why should I be?


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Where we live up to this blog's name

A.k.a., thoughts that meander, a.k.a., thoughts I've wanted to tweet, but didn't, because they were too long/awkward/I forgot.

The more places I go, the more people I meet (or, you know, observe/eavesdrop on), the more I agree with Miss Marple. Human nature really is the same everywhere.

If you're livetweeting how much fun you're having, I feel like you're doing it wrong.

David and Madras Cafe are both albums I will never pull up to listen to by themselves, but I will also never delete because I love their songs when they pop up on shuffle.

Do y'all ever look into the rearview mirror while driving and suddenly see no cars at all and wonder if an abyss opened up and swallowed all the cars that were there minutes ago?

I hope I never lose the thrill I always get when I look out of the window of an airplane. I hope I never get that jaded with air travel. I hope that when I'm 60, a six-year-old sits next to me and asks if she can have my window seat, and just as I did at 24, I look at her and say no. Because I love window seats.

There seems to be a very high correlation between someone moving to Amreeka (or anywhere phoren, really) and the number of photos they post on FB going up dramatically. Did I do that too?

Meeting people I went to high school with is weird. I don't know why I do it. (Except the two of you who read this thing. I heart you two.)

People watching is so much fun. It's a little more fun when it's South Asian people, because I (usually) have more context to what they're doing and saying, but honestly it's fun no matter who I'm watching (because see thought #1 above).

There are some parts of your life you can't share with anyone. Do y'all have those? Not even with your closest friends. Because sharing them accurately means sharing a whole load of context and history, all of which is not always yours to share. And not sharing them accurately means you just get a whole lot of eye rolls. And the one, maybe two, people you could share them accurately with have either heard it too many times, or are caught between a rock and a hard place, and in either case, can't really help.

There were more, but I forgot.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

On my obsession with earrings

A friend recently told me she's never seen me wear the same pair of earrings twice. This seemed strange to me at first, because I have certain favourites that I repeat all the time, but also entirely possible once I thought about it, because I do have a needlessly enormous collection of earrings.

My mother claims she's never seen me without earrings - when I was born, they took me away to bathe me etc., but before bringing me back, they brought a tray of earrings that my mother was expected to choose a pair from in her groggy state, pierced my less than an hour old ears, and so the first time I was ever put in my mother's arms, I was wearing earrings.

Earrings were a source of great trauma during my childhood, because I had an allergy where if I wore certain kind of metals, my ears would get ghaav - and I have no idea how to say that in English - and start bleeding, etc. A lot of Betnovate and Soframycin has been applied to my ears over the years. My ears have also been pierced several times over the ears, because the ghaav would cause the holes to close and we would have to get them repierced. This is probably why when, during the high school and college years, all my friends were getting their second and third piercings, I was shaking my head and saying "never again".

My fascination for earrings began just before high school ended, though. My mother and I were going through her saris and jewelry to decide what I would wear to my school farewell, when she suddenly pulled out a box full of old dangling earrings (including Exhibit A - to the right here) that I had never seen before, and asked if I'd like to wear any of them.

Umm, yes? Hell yes.

I learned that this was her collection from her college days - bought from a certain shop in New Market Kolkata with whatever money she had left over from the tuitions she used to give. But finding those earrings meant I started my college years with a gorgeous collection, one that would only grow over the years. Dilli Haat, Silofer in GK-I, sundry trips to Jaipur, gifts from friends once my penchant was noticed - all these became sources of earrings.

My collection's rather eclectic too - I have the danglers with stones, in almost every colour so I can be matching-matching with whatever clothes I wear, the silver balis that go with everything else, and the smaller, supposedly more professional ones that I wear maybe once a month. I have short danglers, long danglers, medium danglers. The medium ones, in case you were wondering, are the most fun to wear because of the way they, well, dangle when you're shaking your head to music - and certain songs make this more fun than others (Beera from Raavan, for example).

Five years after my fascination for earrings started, Mamma and I went to Kolkata to celebrate my being done with grad school. On that trip, finally, she was able to locate the shop she used to buy her earrings from all those years ago. I walked out of that first visit to that shop flat broke - all my savings from the tuitions I gave during college were gone. And ever since, I've never gone to Kolkata without a visit to New Market and at least two new pairs of earrings.

Then, last year, when I was in London, my aunt, who used to be my mother's chief shopping partner, saw the earrings I wear and decided to give me her entire collection. She doesn't wear them anymore and was trying to downsize her house, my cousin has no interest in them, and they were too damn gorgeous for me to even pretend to be polite and say no. So my collection exploded again. And since I've found certain stores in Amreeka where the earrings are usually both gorgeous and somewhat affordable and extremely hard to resist, it only keeps growing.

Over the years, my earrings collection was distributed between chocolate boxes and pouches, categorized by colour, size, type, and how much I liked them (or didn't). When I left for Amreeka, the one packing exercise I took most seriously was deciding which earrings to bring with me and which to leave behind (I think I left 4-5 pairs, none of which I'd ever actually worn), and how to organize them.

Then, earlier this year, I finally caved and bought a earring organizing thingummy (Exhibit B - to the left here), only to realize when it arrived that it would accommodate only about half my collection. A second one was subsequently bought and put to use,and so now not only is my entire collection sorted beautifully, but I also have space for more.

Except that my friend's comments were followed by my new boss telling me this morning how I wear such different and lovely earrings. Which makes me think maybe I should cut down the buying any more part.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Of women, outrage, and the news

There is nothing wrong with creating ads that show empowered women. The problem is the people making these ads aren't capable of thinking an issue all the way through, and therefore you end up with a hash that shows how far women have come professionally, and at the same time manage to do an excellent job of showing how far they still have to go personally.

If I had any faith in Airtel's (a brand whose ads I have often loved in the past, incidentally) ability to be ironical and/or sarcastic, I'd actually be impressed with the ad in question.

There is nothing wrong with outrage. Outrage is good, and often deserved. Ads like the one in question do deserve to be called out, because unless you do, the fact that women still have a long way to go won't drummed into the heads of people who, quite simply, don't get it. The problem is when you have people on a website having the freedom to outrage about anything and everything, the value of their outrage gets diluted. And becomes something to mock rather than take seriously.

There is, in my view, something wrong with the world when "news" sites seem to think it is mandatory to write articles based on what's trending on Twitter. Having said that, if you are going to do it, do it properly. If you're going to write an article about how Twitter outraged about an ad, and collate tweets about said outrage, let those tweets be actual outrage. Don't just pull together the "top tweets" on the topic, which is usually just the comic writers on twitter being funny and therefore getting the most retweets.

There's a difference between "top tweets" and actual outrage, Scroll.

For those still wondering (and/or living under a rock), this is the article in question. And this is the ad in question.


I seem to be on a blogging roll this month. Sorry, you guys.