Friday, December 30, 2011

The year that was: 2011 in 40 questions

I know, I know, I'm lazy. But I've lost the will to write this year. Blogging and tweeting, both, have become things I need to really really push myself to do, which sucks. Memes just make it easier.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Watched the brother graduate from college. Left home. Started driving. Started B-school. Organized a Diwali party. Ropes courses. Cooked for 50 people. Where does the list end?

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I'd said I would look out of the window every morning and check the weather before getting dressed. I've done that maybe twice this year.
So no, not making any resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?

The one great-aunt who didn't lament that she may not be alive by the time I return passed away. Which is ironic and horrible and guilt-inducingly relieving all put together on levels I cannot even describe.

5. What places did you visit?
Mumbai and Nasik. Kolkata, for work. Mumbai again. Boston, London and Edinburgh. Kolkata again. And then I just packed my bags and moved a world away to the US.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
A bit of a social life. Not because I want it, but because I've realized I really shouldn't stay as holed up at home as I do all the time.

7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
March 25 - When the dream came true.
May 21 - The brother graduated from college.
19 July - I left home.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Apart from the aforementioned dream coming true, you mean? Learning to drive in phoren. 
Also the story got published in the Chicken Soup book. Seeing my name in print was more fun than I'd expected.

9. What was your biggest failure?

The lack of social life, as described above. No really, I can't be this much of a hermit. I'm in school for Pete's sake.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, actually. How weird.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I'd say my car, but it's turned out to be a lemon, so I can't. My lovely purple jacket, maybe?

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I dunno.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and/or depressed?
Every single politician in India.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Hahahahahahahahahahaha. The lemon. School. Life.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Getting into b-school bhai. What else happened this year? oh the brother graduated too....

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
I dunno.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
A bit of both, truth be told. Overall, probably happier.

18. Thinner or fatter?
Wayyyyyyyyyyy thinner. WOOHOO. I don't like the food in phoren. So there.

19. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Met people. Spoken to people. Networked for the job search. Sigh.

20. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Procrastination. Spend money.

21. How will you be spending Christmas?
Had friends over for lunch, with the mother cooking. Went and saw Tintin in the evening. :)

22. Did you fall in love in 2011?
No yaa :(

23. How many one-night stands?

Tch. Like I'd tell you if I'd had any.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Castle. Community. Rediscovered and fell in love with Grey's Anatomy and White Collar again. Also quite liking Once Upon a Time.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Duh. I wouldn't be me if I didn't find new people to waste negative energy on.

26. What was the best book you read?
Zilch. Literally. I read nothing this year.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Amit Trivedi. I finally listened to Udaan on NYE 2010, and spent the first six months overdosing on his music. LOVE.

28. What did you want and get?
How many times to repeat man? B-SCHOOL. It's all this year's been about.

29. What did you want and not get?
I wanted to write more this year, and meet my friends more. Neither happened as much as I'd liked it to have.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
Dhobi Ghat. Delhi Belly. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Deathly Hallows 2. Didn't see much else.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Hee. Turned 26. Day was spent at work. Mum had the gal pals come over in the evening for a "crazy shoe" theme party. Turns out I was the only one who didn't take the theme seriously.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Be able to apparate between B-school and home all the time.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
I got a little more girly, truth be told. Dresses and skirts have entered my wardrobe. Maybe a little less tomboyishness is happening soon.

34. What kept you sane?
Family. GReader. Twitter.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
No one, this year. I've been very out of touch with all that.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
What didn't? Set of nincompoops running the country, and bunch of morons trying to take over the running of the country.

37. Who did you miss?
Everyone back home yaa :(

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Some people at B-school haven't been too bad :)

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Life's impossible without the people who know you best.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Yeh kaha aa gaye hum...?!
You know what I realized while doing this? The first seven months of the year are a blank to me. So much happened, and I had to think really really hard to include any of it in this post. It's like life before B-school never existed. This sucks.
A better annual flashback post is warranted. And is going to be a lot tougher than usual.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas musings

We watched Mausam yesterday afternoon. I loved the first hour; it reminded me of movies from the 90s, when the hero would lead his suitably secular gang of friends (with the token fat guy always there to be made fun of), creating a ruckus as they roamed around town, then with the heroine making an appearance and stealing his heart away, and so on.

And then the movie went downhill. I liked the idea of the movie. Communication really wasn't that easy before we all got mobiles and access to the internet, but geez these people were stupid. I mean, why would you leave a letter for the man you love with a woman who loved him at one time, rather than Gulzari, who knows your family and his? Have you not heard what Congreve said about a woman scorn'd?

It was both interesting and overdone, the links to events in India and the world. Ayodhya, 1992. Mumbai, 1993. Kargil, 1999. Gujarat, 2002. I didn't see why 9/11 had to be brought in; that was both forced and unnecessary. The rest... well, they could have been done better.

What annoyed me most about the movie was the way it looked like it had been produced in the 90s too. Movies look very different today; the scene where Shahid Kapoor's plane is on fire looked like a poorly animated comic movie. Why?

And much as I like Shahid Kapoor, he disappointed me. He was fine as the happy-go-lucky village boy, but the grim, almost-angry Air Force pilot left a lot to be desired. I'm not sure if he was trying to channel Rajesh Khanna or Shah Rukh Khan, but he didn't do a very competent job of it. And Sonam Kapoor - well, I've realised she does a reasonable job if she has nothing more to do than alternating being cheerful and sad, and she did a very adequate job of both in this movie.

What struck me about this movie was how it kept bringing up incidents over the past almost two decades, incidents that never touched me when they happened, that happened in cities far away from me, and yet impacted the way I see religion and politics. How many times this country's burned, all in the name of religion, and for what?


I went for a Christmas Eve service yesterday evening. I've gone for several in the past, in India; this was my first in the US. Not so different, truth be told. I loved it just as much. The same things appealed to me, and the same things turned me off.

What I always love about church services is how simple they make it for people to understand what they're telling us. I'm agnostic, technically, but the rituals of Durga Puja have always drawn me; every year, I go and give Anjali, and every year I'm frustrated that I have no idea what exactly we're saying or praying for when we repeat those mantras. And it's not just about English vs. Sanskrit; not enough priests in Hinduism make the effort to explain what the mantras mean, which I feel is sad. Church services on the other hand - at least, the ones I've been to - take what's in the Bible and interpret it for the followers in a way that can be understood and made a part of their lives.

What I don't like about church services is how they always say that the simplest way to go to heaven is simply to accept God as a part of your life. That it doesn't matter how much you sin; if you make the Saviour a part of your life, you will receive salvation. When the pastor said this yesterday, the first image I had in my head was of a fat Indian man praying in the morning and then going and either receiving or giving a bribe. Big deal, he's accepted God in his life, innit?

Maybe I'm oversimplifying what I heard, but it just seems like they're saying once you've accepted Jesus as your Saviour, a lot of the responsibility for being good is off your shoulders. You know what I like best about Hinduism? The fact that every single one of our gods is flawed. All of them. They all did something that made them imperfect, more human. And they all regretted it, and tried to make up for their sins. They owned up. And while I may not know, or even like, much about various religions, I like that about the one I was born into.


I really shouldn't blog about religion. It makes me ramble more nonsense than usual. Or during cricket matches. No one's going to read this.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Moments of cheerfulness

Amidst all the madness, it doesn't take much to put me in a more cheerful frame of mind.

Having brunch on Saturday with a friend, before attacking the dozen-odd cover letters to be written over the weekend.

Finding a second hand first edition copy of a US hardcover version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Meeting the guy who runs the Indian store, and getting a free banana simply because. Making Maggi for dinner.

Waking up Sunday morning to an absolutely gorgeous video about Calcutta.

Getting to wear jeans and t-shirt to school after weeks of non-stop corporate presentations and office hours.

Receiving a Whastapp message from the BFF, reminding me of a note I had scribbled for her before leaving India, which she saw five months later on a visit home.

Having a late morning class, which meant I could watch Jon Stewart while having chai and toast for breakfast.

Nope, it doesn't take much to make me feel cheerful. What takes an effort is sustaining that feeling.