Saturday, December 28, 2013

Where we do a quick recap of 2013

I didn't do this last year, and it left me feeling a little incomplete all year. So I think this just needs to become an annual tradition for myself. Ergo, drumroll...

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
Shared a two-bedroom flat with five other people in London for two months. Graduated - by which I mean had a proper commencement ceremony, because y'know, two degrees from Delhi University had none of that.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No, and no.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
A close friend from business school had a son a couple of months back.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What places did you visit?

Gallivanted all over England for the first two months of the year. Then Asheville, New Jersey, New York, Chicago, San Francisco. Not bad at all, methinks. Even though I know I had the opportunity to do a lot more.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
Will power.

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The weekend of 12th May - graduation weekend.
16th July - see #4.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Graduation? Surviving those two months of close quarters in London? There's a theme to this post this year...

9. What was your biggest failure?
Becoming a hermit again, once I moved to Dallas.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Hah. Yes - burnt my arm quite badly in March, followed by sundry other incidents. Also the car accident mentioned here led to terrible back ache for several weeks, as well as my first ever experience of being hopped up on painkillers. Not something I would like to repeat, thankyouverymuch.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I bought a LOT of stuff this year, but I don't know if any of it qualifies for this.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My brother. Because (and don't tell him I said this) when things have happened this year that have made me feel hopeless about what women have to deal with, his responses to all of those situations have made me feel hopeful that there are good, decent men out there.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and/or depressed?

On the personal front, no one, thankfully. In the public domain, where do I even begin?

14. Where did most of your money go?
Hahahahahahahahaha. New gaddi. Furniture for my apartment. Clothes I felt I needed, but may not have really. Those damn romance novels that keep having Kindle sales. Sheesh. I've been awful this year.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
London. Graduation. Going home this summer.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
This. I was listening to my Amit Trivedi playlist one day, and I realized this line from it is how the house felt after 16th July:
Sab kuch wahi hai, par kuchh kami hai 
Teri aahatein nahin hai

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
Bit of both. It's been a good year, overall. But there's a sadness that won't go away. I'm grieving for my princess, still. And I don't know when I'll stop. And I'm not sure part of me wants to stop.

18. Thinner or fatter?
It's gone up and down, this year, but overall, a leetle bit fatter, I think.

19. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Socialized. Travelled.

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

Been a hermit. Played Candy crush saga?

21. How will you be spending Christmas?

I went to New Jersey, and spent five days up to Christmas with my friend and her family. No matter what the years ahead hold, this will always be one of my favorite Christmas memories ever.

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?

23. How many one-night stands?
Gazillion, don'tcha know?

24. What was your favourite TV programme?

Once Upon a Time and TBBT remained favorites. Discovered and fell in love with Arrow. Did a West Wing marathon of all seven seasons over three months this summer, and have revisited it again recently. My to-watch list keeps growing longer, but I keep going back to The West Wing. That show, man. That show.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
For once, no. If you had asked me this in February or March, certain flatmates might have gotten named. In the nine months since, I have gotten to a point where I now think fondly of them as mere irritations.

26. What was the best book you read?
I actually did read some books this year. I developed a love-hate relationship with the Game of Thrones series, and read a few other books. Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth was probably my favorite of the year, despite her refusal to give me happy endings.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I mostly stuck to Amit Trivedi this year. But Papon and he both put together some fabulous episodes on Coke Studio. And of course Pinjra.

28. What did you want and get?
A lot more time with family than I had expected at the beginning of the year.

29. What did you want and not get?
For Kyra to get better.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
I didn't see too many, really. Kai Po Che was good, as was the second Hobbit movie (at least, better than the first). I also lurved Saving Mr Banks.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Ah, that was a good weekend, that was. I turned 28 in London, and celebrations lasted three days. A dinner with the godfather and his family, a ride on the London Eye as a gift to myself, attending a drag show in a gay bar in Vauxhall where I enjoyed the British humour a lot more than my friend who wanted to be at said show, an evening spent drinking a lot more than I usually allow myself to drink, followed by dancing that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't had said drinks, and finally dinner on the day itself with flatmates and another friend.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Holding myself back less, I think.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
I now own more dresses than tops or blouses for work, which, as anyone who knows me would tell you, is just weird.

34. What kept you sane?
Holing myself up and shutting out the world. Which is also what I feel I should have done less of, but wuttodo.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Major girl crush has been developed on Jennifer Lawrence, I must admit.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Does the Tarun Tejpal incident count as a political issue? It's what I got most worked up about, at any rate.

37. Who did you miss?
By this point in life, family goes without saying, but Kyra, mostly.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
I dunno.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
It takes very little to make me happy. It's making that happiness last that I struggle with.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Nothing comes to mind right now. Is there anything that talks about a gazillion life changes in just a few months?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Where I ramble about religion

The term "against our culture" puzzles me.

I'm not the most religious person around, but I grew up reading every single Amar Chitra Katha comic I could lay my hands on (including one memorable Delhi Book Fair where I spent my entire allowance on all the ACK comics at the first stall, and got them bound into three volumes), as well as C. Rajagopalachari's versions of Ramayana and Mahabharata, so I feel like I know something about the stories of Hindu mythology, if nothing else.

And the thing that always struck me about our mythology is how flawed our Gods are. You look at everything Indra did, sometimes for nothing other than pride. Krishna, Shiva, Rama - they've all done things that not everyone would say was the right thing to do. Sometimes they regretted and/or atoned for their actions, sometimes they didn't. But I feel like our Gods were a lot more tolerant than anyone gives them credit for.

I've also been to a few churches and attended a few sermons in my life - probably understood them a lot better than any puja I might have gone for too. And a common thread I've always heard in them is that it doesn't matter what you've done in your life, as long as you believe in God and accept Him in your life, you will be accepted by him into Heaven. Which always feels like a bit of a cop out to me, but also convinces me that if there is a God out there, or a gazillion of them, he/they is/are a lot more accepting and human than us mere mortals.

I've heard the phrase "against Indian culture" being countered by examples of sculptures and writings from ancient times. But for those who use religion as an argument to not accept something about a person, you need to go back and remember how accepting your religion really is.

Because our gods were flawed. And heck of a lot more tolerant than those who claim to follow them.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Where I change my opinion about a Harry Potter movie

When I watched the first Deathly Hallows movie, three years ago, one of the things that bothered me the most about it was the scene where Harry and Hermione start dancing. It seemed random, pointless, out of character for both of them, and forced in there just to appease all the H/H shippers out there.

But over my last couple of watches of the movie (and I go back to these movies fairly often), I've grown fonder and fonder of this scene. It comes at a point in the movie when both of them are feeling down - for similar yet different reasons - and Harry just wants to cheer Hermione up a little. And I like how Hermione starts out grudgingly - almost rolling her eyes - then gets into the mood, but then loses her smile at the end. And they both go back to brooding in their own corners.

I was also reminded the last couple of times I wacthed this scene that at the end of the day, these two are 17 years old at this point. And just needed to act foolish for a while. Which is something I think I forgot at times during the last two movies.

That is all. Just wanted to share. Carry on then.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Of the week that was

Let's just talk about the week we've had, okay? Professionally, this was the week I finally seemed to be finding my groove after three months on the job. I knew what I was doing (sort of), I was telling people what I needed, I was navigating fragile egos better, I was getting "that's an excellent suggestion" type responses, and I finally got my own cube. Awesome, right?

On the life front, however, I can't remember the last time a week was so consistently disastrous. I am prone to disaster, yes - this is a known fact. But it's rarely been this prolonged.

So, to recap:

Monday - well, to be fair, Monday was fine. I mean, I fasted for Bhai Phonta. And I raced through an entire episode of Candy Crush saga in 24 hours. So that was awesome. And the evening involved a lovely, hilarious, emotional, and utterly cute session with the family involve phonta giving and cake cutting.

Tuesday - At lunch time I realized my wallet was nowhere to be found in my purse. Which was disconcerting to say the least, because if it was missing, it had been missing for well over a day since I hadn't used it at all the previous day (thanks to the aforementioned fast). After a "don't be stupid" from a colleague, I figured it might be in the other bag I had carried with me when I went shopping on Sunday so decided to wait till the evening before I panicked. In the evening, I got to my car and checked the other bag and discovered it was empty. On the way home, I called the store I had been in last on Sunday, only to be told they didn't have it either. I got home, emptied out my purse again, hunted all over the apartment, and then officially panicked. I figured I'd go down to the bank with my check book and withdraw some cash, so I'd have something with me. I picked up what I thought was my empty purse, thought it felt way too heavy to be empty, and finally looked into the middle zip pocket that I never use, and there it was.

Wednesday - My debit card got declined at the grocery store. I kid you not. I was using the self-checkout kiosk, and I still don't know if I really entered the wrong PIN five times in a row, or the machine was just stoopid, but the bottomline is I had to walk back home, get my other card (the grocery store is literally attached to my apartment building, so I usually walk down with a bag, my debit card, and my loyalty card for the store), and then go back to get everything.

Thursday - The day I truly topped myself. I woke up late, and therefore was running late already, when I realized I couldn't find my glasses. After spending a good 10 minutes hunting for them all over, I decided what the heck, I'll manage without them for a day, and decided to leave. just as I locked my door and started walking to the garage, I happened to glance down and there they were, just hangin' from the collar of my shirt. And if that wasn't enough, I went out to dinner with colleagues, found a fabulous parking spot right in front of the restaurant, locked my car and walked in, only to be called back by another customer who was leaving and noticed that while I had locked my car, I hadn't actually shut my door.

Friday - Today. Slept through my alarm, again, yet managed to hear an incoming text from a friend. Was driving to work, stopped at a light, only be suddenly thoroughly jolted because the lady in the car behind me didn't stop. My back hurts, my car is hurt, and I am so utterly thankful that this week is over. Now let's just keep our fingers crossed that nothing happens between now and the time I get home.

See y'all.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Of flaws that exist

For reasons I'm not entirely sure of, I would like to make a list of things I am truly awful at. If anyone feels I have missed out on anything, you may inform me thusly and I shall add (if I agree). Except the mother. You are not allowed to add anything.

Any points any readers disagree with are also most welcome.
  • Pouring liquids from one mug to another without spilling.
  • Saying no to people.
  • Being nice to the mother.
  • Detecting the BFF's sarcasm (which is just weird, I know).
  • Cutting vegetables in shapes that seem non-weird.
  • Boiling potatoes and eggs.
  • Anything that involves being domesticated, really.
  • Demonstrating any sort of will power when it comes to exercise and weight management.
  • Displaying facial expressions that don't give away the fact that I think you're an asshat.
  • Power Point.
  • Being social.
  • Getting over grudges. Also developing grudges over things that shouldn't matter.
  • Applying nail polish smoothly. And then sitting still long enough for it to not smudge.
What else?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The morning drive

There's something about watching a flock of birds, as they fly in perfect synchronization (assuming that is the right word), that makes the world seem a little more beautiful.

I was driving to work this morning, which by no means is ever my favorite thing to do, and as always, had to stop at a red light for about two minutes. And just as I stopped, a flock of birds rose up from the wires they were perched on, and flew as one, in circles over the intersection, repeatedly for the next minute or so. Then, they split into two groups, with one continuing as they were, and the other changing direction to fly in circles the other way. This flying in the face of each other by the two groups carried on for another minute or so, till the light turned green for me, and they, as one group again, turned direction to fly towards the wire they had flown up from to settle down again and watch the world go by. And watch me drive off with a little smile on my face.

It was a nice couple of minutes.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Of names and reactions

The parents have always been Mamma and Baba. When relatives protested with things like "Ma is more respectful" or "Mamma sounds like Mama*", they were firmly, but politely, informed that this is what they preferred her to be called. I had other names for them from time to time - Mother & Father, Mommy & Dad, Mumsie & Babs, the mother and the father in all online references - and these are still used from time to time, usually when I'm trying to, but failing to, cajole them into something. But Mamma and Baba will always endure.

A few years ago, I started called her Ma. There were two reasons for this. One, I'm called Ra by loved ones. So when there would be a plaintive "Raaaaa" yelled from some corner of the house, bellowing back "hain, Maaaaaa?" rhymed and therefore seemed like a lot of fun. Two, and more importantly, she hated it. I mean, hated it. It made her feel old, it seems. The quickest way to irritate her was to call her Ma. I was always astonished she didn't get whiplash from the speed with which she would turn to glare at you with a look Medusa would envy.

It started out as fun, but somewhere along the way, it became natural to call her that. There's a sweetness to the word Ma that just felt... right. Unfortunately, she didn't - and doesn't - see it the same way. And it wasn't till when I was home this summer, and happened to call her Ma in the middle of a conversation. Both the parents grimaced, and when I rolled my eyes, it was the father who suddenly commented, "when you're used to hearing something for so many years, it hurts our ears to suddenly hear something else." Which drove home the point a lot better than their glares and grimaces over the past few years had.

So I'm trying to get unused to calling her Ma. It's not as easy as it should be, for some reason, but I'm trying. I would like to point out, however, that calling my mother Ma instead of Mamma is darn sight better than their son calling his elder sister Duddo instead of Didi**.

*maternal uncle in Hindi and Bengali, for the uninitiated
** elder sister in Hindi and Bengali, also for the uninitiated

Thursday, August 22, 2013

My lovely purple sweatshirt

Friends from home sometimes comment on my photos these days saying it's nice to see me in colour. There used to be a time when barring my Fab India dupattas, my wardrobe consisted almost entirely of white, blue, and beige. Maybe some black. This apparently has changed.

The first indication of this changing was in March 2009, when I impulsively bought this beautiful velvet-like purple sweatshirt from a random shop in Barcelona. It was a beautiful sweatshirt, perfect for nip-in-the-air-but-not-really-cold weather, and I loved it so. Unfortunately, by the time I got back to saddi Dilli summer was approaching so I put away my lovely new sweatshirt to wear when it more sense to.

That November was the first time I did the whole Great Delhi Walk to raise money for a cause. Since I had to leave really early in the morning, and the nip in the air was quite noticeable, I took out my lovely new sweatshirt to wear on the bus ride. I then gave it to a friend to keep in her car, who gave it to another friend for some reason, and since everyone dispersed very quickly after the run, my sweatshirt went away with her.

A year passed before I met my friend again, and I finally got my sweatshirt back when I went to pick up stuff for the next year's Great Delhi Walk. I wore my lovely purple sweatshirt almost constantly after that; it went me with on every trip I took, and I loved it so.

But then the sweatshirt started fraying (also I started putting on weight but whatevs), and it needed fixing. I got the tear fixed once, and then when I moved to Amreeka two years ago, I brought it with me. But then when the mother came to visit, we noticed it had torn a bit again, so she said she'll take it back to fix it. And she did.

And then I brought it back with me when I visited home, and it lasted fine till this summer. It had torn again by the time the family landed up for graduation, and this time even the zip wasn't working, so the mother said she would take it back with her again. At this point, my summer trip back home wasn't supposed to happen so I was sad about being without my lovely purple sweatshirt but I was brave and said okay.

And then my joining date for work got delayed by a month and I had no money in my bank account to do fun travel like all my classmates, and so we decided I would go home because who knows when I'll get chhutti after this. And when I got home and saw my lovely purple sweatshirt, I saw the tailor had taken out the entire zip and replaced it with a black cloth and zip.


So now my lovely purple sweatshirt is ruined and I left it behind at home because I refuse to wear it with an ugly black strip down the center, and when I think over my years with it I feel it is a bit jinxed and I feel very sad.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Picking a date

Pick a date, the brother says. Just pick a damn date, and I'll agree to it.

Pick a date, I said a week ago. Don't keep telling me we have to take a decision and we have to fix a date. Just do it.

Pick a date, the mother says. I need to know what we're thinking.

We need to pick a date, the father says.

Tuesday morning. The very last time my foot was used as a pillow.
We were all agreed we needed to pick a date. But no one would do it. How do you? How do you say this is the day we say goodbye to our golden retriever, the dog who's been part of our family for eleven years?

I was a month short of 17, the brother 12, when she came to us. Since then, every family decision has included her. We should go for the movie at this time, because we can give her evening meal and take a her for a walk before going. I can't spend the night with friends because she'll be all alone; come to Gurgaon so I can come back and feed her. Let's drive to Kasauli/Jaipur and find a hotel that allows dogs so she can come with us. Tell the boarding facility her likes and dislikes so she doesn't miss home. The boarding facility gave her too much chicken, and now she won't eat ghar ka khana, so now what do we do? Make the brother talk to her on the phone so she won't vomit again because he left.

In keeping with all the family discussions and decisions she provoked over the last 11 years, this one, the biggest of them all, was also done as a family. And so it was decided that yesterday was the day Kyra, my darling princess, would leave us to go to whatever doggy heaven there is out there.

The day after my last post, Kyra stopped eating altogether, and had to be put on daily drip. We cancelled our tickets to Kolkata, and for the next ten days, my only excursions from the house were to her clinic and back. Her blood was tested every few days, and the results were terrifying to say the least. At least twice we went through evenings convinced this was her last day with us, mentally preparing ourselves, only to find out the idiot was improving. In the words of her vet of ten years, she is - was - a miracle dog.

But even though some - all - of us desperately wanted to believe that these improvements meant a new lease of life for her, it was also clear that not only was this just borrowed time, but she would also be completely dependent on drip and medicines for sustenance and food. And so, after intense debate, and a great deal of tears being shed, the decision was taken on Saturday. And Tuesday - yesterday - was set as the date.

We spent her last few days with us the way she liked it best, sitting with her, taking her for drives and walks, taking lots of photos - although she was no longer as enthusiastic about modelling as she to used to be, and just being with her as a family. The brother and I took to sleeping on the floor on the parents' room at night; she managed to climb onto our mattresses a few times.

There were moments when I got incredibly frustrated by the waiting; we had taken the decision, why prolong the agony? But in the end, it was worth it, because we gave her some of her best days. When she went, on Tuesday evening, she was surrounded by all four of us, the way she loved it to be, but hadn't got enough of in the past few years.

We spent a large part of the evening reminiscing, of the good times and the more painful times. We smiled and laughed while talking of her antics, we cried - all four of us cried. Her doctor called late at night to ask how we were doing, and to remind us it had been the right decision. We knew that, but I suppose we - I - did need to be reminded, because the guilt that we may have let go too early is there, no matter how much you rationalize it.

The mother said something a few days ago that I keep going back to. Normally, when the brother and I visit home, we're off doing our own things. Going out, meeting friends, holing up in our own rooms busy with out laptops and phones. This time, this visit, we spent almost all our time in the lobby, with her, with the family. Kyra brought this family together all her life. In her last days, she did that more than ever before.

Go in peace, my lovely. May you get lots of gummy bears, chicken, photo shoots, and belly rubbing wherever you are. The house feels very empty without you.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

An update on the princess

Some years ago, a former colleague asked me how old the princess was. On being told 6 or 7, she had asked "isn't it time for her to die then?"

First of all, No. Second of all, who the hell says something like that?

When I came home this past winter, the princess, now 11, looked and behaved much older. A part of me was aware and terrified that I may not ever see her again. And then, halfway through my sojourn in London, a call came from the parents telling me she had fallen terribly ill, had been taken off all forms of protein because of renal failure, and worst of all, may not make it more than a month.

To receive a call like that, to get news like that, no matter how mentally prepared you think you are, when you're a continent away from everyone you love, is the worst feeling possible.

Anyway. The princess is a tough cookie, and her vet has got through renal failure once before. And so she pulled through. There was serious concern whether my family would be able to leave her behind to come be with me for my graduation, with the father insisting he would stay back if need be, and me saying I wanted him there and that the brother should stay back if someone had to. The brother had no issues with this plan - at least, none that he vocalized. The mother was a little offended no one asked her to stay back or come, and insisted that she would be coming no matter what, which confused me a little - I mean, why would we ask her if she was coming or staying if we all knew she would be coming no matter what? Eventually of course, she recovered enough to be put into a boarding facility and the family did come to me after all.

AnyWAY. I arrived in Delhi this past Tuesday morning, after the worst 24 hours of travel, and there she was, at the airport to pick me up. She looked good, because the place she was put in really took good care of her grooming. On the other hand, it was very quickly apparent to me that her abilities to see and hear are not as good as they used to be. She's extremely picky about her khana, hasn't barked once since I've been home (not even when a friend came to visit), but has snapped at the brother a couple of times.

We took her to our vet this morning, and we got him to check her hearing. He says it's lessened yes, but isn't completely gone. Which I suppose is a blessing of sorts.

I don't quite know what's going to happen with her. But for now, I'm making the most of her presence in my life.

I was speaking to a family friend yesterday morning, who asked me if Kyra was excited that I'm home. I was explaining how she's aged and doesn't show much excitement about anything anymore, and got this is response:
"Well, you know, she's more used to your brother coming and going frequently these days and that probably excites her more. She probably doesn't care about your coming all that much anymore."
Who the hell says something like that?

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Of ants, souls, and stories that stick

When I was a kid, we lived across from a park, and often walked through when returning home from friends' houses, or the market. There were a lot of ant hills in this park, and I don't quite remember what prompted this, but my mother once told me that these ant hills are the homes of ants, and if you knock any of them over, even by mistake, those ants will hunt you down, and destroy your house. I don't think my mother was quite as graphic as this, and I have never bothered to find out if this is a true fact, but even today, some 20+ years later, I choose not to step on any ant hills should I see one, thank you very much.

When my brother was a kid (and I therefore a somewhat older and wiser kid), we visited the Kali Mandir in C R Park (and while looking up its exact name, I discovered it has a Wikipedia page all of its own). The brother and I were bored while the parents did their chatting-with-God thing, so I told the brother that the stones which have names written on them (dedicated by families of people who have died) have the souls of said deceased individuals trapped inside them. And therefore, while we need to walk all around the temple while waiting for the parents, we need to make sure we don't step on any stone that has a name on it. And so we did.

Some ten-odd years later, with the brother now a teenager, we visited Kali Mandir again. A lot more stones had been dedicated by now, resulting in hardly any blank stones left. I watched my brother stand in one spot and try to figure out how to go anywhere in the temple complex without stepping on the souls of some poor departed-from-this-world individual.

Whenever I go home next, I want to drag him there and see what he does at the age of 23.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A cat experiment

Of the many, many things I miss about home, the princess is one of the most... missable? missed? You get the drift.

So lately, I've been contemplating getting a pet. Because much as I love living alone, sometimes you want to have someone go crazy with happiness when you come home, and dogs are so good at that - especially when they know you're going to feed them. But then I figured getting a dog isn't the most practical option, because crazy as B-school has been, once I start working, I won't be home all day anyway, and it's not fair to a dog to leave them locked up alone in an apartment for hours on end.

So then I started thinking about getting a cat. I'm told they're fairly independent, and actually like being left alone all day. But I wasn't sure if I was a cat person. So when my friend asked me to cat-sit his, well, cat for a week while he was out of town, I decided to use this time to see if I could live with a cat.

In a nutshell, no. I mean, I love this cat. Because you know, he's my friend's cat and you have to love your friends' children no matter what. But he's so... strange. He would be waiting for me at the front door every day, which okay, is a lot like the princess who I swear can hear you coming home from three lanes away. But then, this cat would roll on the floor and come run against your leg, but if you start petting him, walked away.

And well, okay, I talked to him like I talk to the princess, and I may have had to remind myself to do so in English and not in Bengali. But even when it was in English, all I got was a disdainful look of "please, can we not be so chatty?"

No, I'm really not a cat person. Maybe I should get a goldfish.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Of something that changed

She was one of the first bloggers I started following when I discovered the world of blogs and Google Reader some, what, seven odd years ago? When I joined twitter a couple of years later, she was one of the first people I looked for and started following there as well.

She was - is - a few years older than me, and since I was still a student at the time, was fascinating to me as a single, working woman. She was independent, and confident, and sassy, and open about her life and relationships in a way I never saw myself being. She wrote beautifully, and I often found things on her blog that I had been thinking about only a few days previously, articulated and thought through in a way that seemed so perfect.

I never reached out to her in any way, beyond perhaps the odd comment on her blog, or a random exchange of tweets. But her thoughts, her writing - they continued to be favorites for a long time.

And then at some point, that changed. I started finding her posts a tad too much. There was bitterness creeping into them, her brand of feminism was becoming a bit too rigid for me, her standards were becoming a bit too high for them. Her accounts of relationships made me feel glad about my continued singlehood, her seemingly increased bitterness made me realise the mother might be right about me ending up a bitter and lonely spinster. She seemed to expect too much from the people around her, and was becoming a bit too caustic for my liking.

I'm not sure if this was true, or if it had always been there and I had just mellowed off-late. But at some point in the last month, I unfollowed her on Twitter. And it was easier than I expected. I still follow her blog, but I'm not how long that will last either.

I'm not sure what prompted a whole post about her. But it feels a little like a relationship - albeit one-sided - that suddenly changed and then soured. And it feels a bit sad.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

A walking-talking disaster

I'm not quite sure what's going on, but I feel it needs sharing with the world at large. In the three weeks that I have been back in Amreeka, I have:

  • burned my right arm fairly badly by reaching over my electric kettle to grab a tea bag just as it was letting out ridiculously hot steam. So I now have a ugly patch right in my line of vision.
  • burned my left arm slightly by touching my hot non-stick pan by mistake (No Mother, I did not tell you about this because it was not very major. Teensy, really.).
  • had my right foot stomped on by some twit at a party Friday night, so that now every time I wear my rubber Bata-lookalike slippers, it hurts.
  • cut my finger this afternoon while carting trays of samosas to our school's Holi celebration. That foil was sharp, man - so much so that five hours later, the bleeding still hasn't stopped.
  • jerked my knee minutes later and bent it a bit awkwardly. Now this, granted, happens to me quite often enough, but coming as soon after as it did, was a bit nerve-wracking.
  • UPDATE: I have just discovered that being thrown into a pool of mud this afternoon has led to some big fat scratches on the right elbow, which have now started hurting. I am never playing Holi again.
A previous period on non-stop accidents has been documented here. Maybe this is something that I am meant to go through every time I move to the US.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nuggets from here and there

I'm in my last semester at business school (wow, time flies), and taking two classes this semester, both of which vary between being fascinating and putting-you-to-sleep boring, all within the space of two hours.

The professor in my first class today showed this video, from Louis CK's appearance on Conan O'Brien's show a few years ago. The entire conversation is funny, but the segment between 2:15 and 6:05, which we saw in class, is brilliant. Watch:

"Everything is amazing and nobody is happy" by Meowbay

True, isn't it? We take technology and all offers us so much for granted, we forget that when we were born, or even as growing up, we didn't have any of this. @_GoneNative wrote this post a while back that had a line I absolutely fallen in love with and shared here:
"My generation has had to say a lot of goodbyes in quick succession to the things we built our lives around. I have a feeling the next lot will find it easier to use & throw."
That's true, in a way, but also so sad.

And then, in my second class today, we were talking about price discrimination, for possibly the gazillionth time since school began (and I still suck at it. go figure.), and our professor shared this passage, which I think is the most beautiful description of price discrimination that I have seen in a very long time.
It is not because of the few thousand francs which would have to be spent to put a roof over the third-class carriage or to upholster the third-class seats that some company or other has open carriages with wooden benches… What the company is trying to do is prevent the passengers who can pay the second-class fare from traveling third class; it hits the poor, not because it wants to hurt them, but to frighten the rich… And it is again for the same reason that the companies, having proved almost cruel to the third-class passengers and mean to the second-class ones, become lavish in dealing with first-class customers. Having refused the poor what is necessary, they give the rich what is superfluous.
 ~ Jules Dupuit (1849), On Tolls and Transport
It's a good day, when your classes make you see or hear something that strikes a chord, that makes you think, that makes you want to share it with everyone else.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Conversations with friends

Sometimes you go for extended periods of not meeting or talking with someone and forget how entertaining conversations with them always were. Take my friend who I met this evening, for instance. I met her after a gazillion years, after two months of being in the came city, three days before I have to leave, and spent the entire three hours giggling helplessly. A sample of the numerous anecdotes she shared about her life teaching the most entertaining students in the world:

My friend: So if you do this presentation, I'll give you points towards your final grade.
Friend's student: Do we get extra points if we're smart during the presentation?
My friend: You get points if you're smart at any time during the class. {I assume at this point, her internal thinking was a big fat DUH.}
Friend's student: Really? So if we dress up well for class, you give us extra points?
I'm not too sure how my friend finally clarified that she and her student were clearly talking about two different meanings of the word smart; I was too busy cackling with laughter by this point.

Then there is the gal pal who got married a little over a month ago. Forget about the lack of consideration shown in getting married at a time when it was just not possible for me to be there (resulting in these kind of incidents: this, followed by this), but she has now decided that this is the year that I absolutely MUST find a boy of my own and get married. And this is why:

Her: 28 is our year
       I have declared it
Me: Yes Ma'am
Her: 2013
       it’s ours
      2017 is baby year
      you have no time
Me: good God
      you don't want a baby before that?
Her: well a lil planning never hurt
      well ok so if u have so will I
      we need to coordinate
Me: hehe
      you can go ahead it is okay
Her: so our kids can marry each other
Me: haan so have a boy
Her: I’m giving you 4 yrs
      no more
Me: so I can have a girl a few years later na
      she will need an older guy
Her: true that
      I’m on it
And then there are friends I haven't seen in three months and miss simply because they say the most random things which you're not sure you should be commiserating for or laughing at. Such as this:
I don't ever need to worry about wrinkles and stuff because I take after my grandmother. She had the most perfect and flawless skin. Except for the part about the skin cancer, that is.
Is it any wonder I am friends with these people?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What do you say?

Among the many social situations that make me uncomfortable, one of the worst is when someone I know, especially someone I care about, loses someone they love.

Because what do you say? What do you say that adequately conveys how deeply sorry you are for their loss, but doesn't sound like it's about you? Because that's my concern - that when someone loses someone they love, I put myself in their shoes, and feel sorry because I imagine how I would feel if I had lost someone I love. It brings alive my fears of losing the people I love. All of which makes my condolences just sound trite and selfish.

When I was 16, a classmate lost her father. A little over a year ago,my godfather lost his father. And I was at as much of a loss for words as I remembered being at 16. I asked on twitter, that fountain of support and suggestions, and got some responses. All very valid responses, but none of them made it any easier to send that email or make that phone call.

Then a fortnight ago, a professor at school who I am fairly close to lost his mother. And I started wondering again. What do you say?

I sent him an email, since I'm not in the US right now. And he replied too. But I was still left feeling that the email I sent was utterly trite and pointless.

And all of this is still about me. It's my discomfort with not knowing what to say, my inability to convey how I feel. Maybe it doesn't seem trite. Maybe it does mean something to the person I'm writing to. But I never quite know that.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A very belated "ooh it's a new year" post

Well, if blogging more regularly was to have been a goal for 2013, we can just forget all about it, can't we? If it makes things any better, this one is only 26 (well, technically 27) days late, as opposed to last year's annual recap being an entire 31 days late. Although maybe I should have just done the 40 questions deal and be done with it.

Oh well, this post's been in the works for a while, so let's see how it turns out.

For the first time in a while, I'm writing my annual year-in-retrospect post knowing - sort of - what the year ahead holds for me, and where I'll be - vaguely - this time, next year.

2012 was... strange. It had parts that sucked, it had parts that were awesome, it had parts that were utterly stressful just like 2011 but which were manageable because other stresses from 2011 went away. I seem to have lost a few very precious people, formed friendships that have helped me survive the year, and learned more about myself in the process.

A large part of the year involved a fairly irritating job search. As mentioned several times previously, I suck at the whole networking nonsense that is a necessary evil in B-schools in the Yoo Ess. Ergo, getting a job I wanted was traumatic and tough. Add to that a fairly awful living situation, a friend circle that I had more fallen into than chosen, and getting used to the whole being away from everything that is loved and familiar, my first few months at B-school - and the last few months of 2011 - had been... difficult.

2012 changed that. Like I said in last year's annual flashback post, the mother's visit over winter break bought my two worlds together, and in a way reminded me of who I am, why I had chosen to move half a world away, and what was important to me.

It was easier, after that, to hang out with the people I liked and wanted to get to know better, rather than people I seemed to have fallen in with. To take the decision to make the most of a fairly horrendous living situation for the rest of my first year, but to look at living alone for the next year.

My apartment got robbed, in February. My poor luck with international travel isn't restricted to Europe, it seems. I visited India for two weeks on a school consulting project trip in March with a group of my classmates, and got to see the country very differently. Just two days at home is woefully short, though. I got an internship - eventually. It wasn't what I would have liked, ideally, or what I  thought I wanted to do full-time, but it was something I knew would give me valuable experience and help me make up my mind about a full-time role, and so I took it.

I think I truly began to enjoy school and life in the US once that internship was secured. That last term of six weeks - I had classes I was enjoying, I didn't have to network any more, I no longer gave a rat's ass about pretending to be someone I wasn't for people I didn't give two hoots about, and I had a whole month at home coming up. I found friends I cared about, and who cared about me, who offered help when I needed it the most, and who were just... incredible.

May. I came home. I spent nearly four weeks in India, packed in quite a bit of travel and eating and reading and watching TV shows, met up with people I loved, and discovered some people didn't want to meet me. A fabulous family holiday in gorgeous Kasauli.

And then Chicago. For three months. And less than a week into my time there, one of those it-can-only-happen-to-me type incidents happened, involving my passport, a very by-the-book HR person (no wonder people don't like HR), an extremely helpful Indian consulate, and a lot of trauma and drama. I kid you not. Maybe some day a blog post all about this incident will happen.

The summer was a lot of fun, teaching me a lot, about the work I don't want to do, the things I don't do well professionally, and the kind of people you can trust. Also what a good thing it is that I am a mix of utterly stingy and impulsively extravagant.

And then I came back to school. School this year was definitely about why I had come here. The job search stress was there, yes, but it was better this year because I put to good use the one big thing I learned during my internship - it's okay to ask for help, it's okay to reach out to people - and as a result did a better job of the whole networking thing.

I was a lot more social this year - even if it was with the same people mostly. That totally counts, despite what certain friends (and readers of this blog) might say. I got my freaking driving license. I first got wait-listed for going on exchange, and then managed to get signed up for London. I learned to live alone - which is SO perfect for an introvert like me, but SO terrible for trying to be more social.

I gained back all the weight I had lost when I first got to the US, and then some. I substantially improved my tolerance for alcohol. I bought a new laptop. I started wearing dresses, and even make-up. I went to Puerto Rico with friends over fall break and had the most fabulous time doing nothing but eat, drink, and lie on the beach. I got a freaking job, one I actually wanted.

I was home for the last two weeks in December (although more passport issues made that questionable for a while), and then two weeks into the new year. The new year was brought in like old times - at home with the parents, squabbling over what to watch on TV, with some chips and coke, and gummy bears for the princess. And for the first time since moving away from home, I left without knowing when I would be back.

Some relationships were renewed and strengthened, some ties of friendship loosened. Some loved ones died, some grew old and fragile. Friends got engaged. The princess began to feel her age.

I grew comfortable with myself this year, but impatient with my life. I gave up on some people who used to be very important to me, but refused to continue to entertain those who meant nothing to me. I made attempts to be more social - even hosting my first Diwali get-together ever - but stuck to staying in when I really wanted to.

All in all, it was a good year, 2012 was. And 2013 holds good things. Two months in London, two months back in school before graduation, a summer of who-knows-what, and then back to the working world.

Yes, good things lie ahead. Mostly. I think.