Wednesday, December 31, 2014

And so another year went by

Duuuuudes. Another year, wot? Where and how do these just flash by? Wasn't it just the other day I was telling you guys how this is going to be annual tradition for myself - these end of the year summary things? Well, here it is...

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
Did a solo travel weekend. Started a group blog.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Does it count as new year's resolutions if you made them sometime in February? I made a public declaration - or as public as this blog is, anyway - that I would blog at least twice a month, and by Jove I did. Gimme a prize, someone. I also kinda, sorta promised myself I would travel at least once a month this year, which I kinda, sorta did - see #5 below.
The plan for 2015 is to stick to these two. There was also a third thing I wanted to resolve to do, but I can't remember what it was, so I'm guessing it was super important.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No one close, no.

5. What places did you visit?
Ooh, I'm going to like answering this one. Let's do it by month, 'kay?
January: Los Angeles.
February: Nada, but a friend visited one weekend, so I'm counting that.
March: Went to India for two weeks, where I was mainly home in Delhi/Gurgaon, but also managed to sneak in two days in Kolkata to see the grandmother.
April: Three back to back weekends of travel happened here - New York, San Francisco, and my one-year school reunion. Eventful month, this was.
May: Nada again, but if you average out my travel in the first four months, no biggie, right?
June: New Jersey, for a friend's wedding.
July: San Francisco again, over the 4th of July weekend.
August: One quick day trip to Austin, and then DC over the Labor Day weekend, which yes, counts as August because I came back on the Sunday.
September: A recruiting trip back to the school.
October: One overnight work trip to Chicago, and then two weekend trips with the mother - New York, and Chicago.
November: I am totally going to count the fact that I left the States on November 29, and spent the 30th in London.
December: Two weeks in Delhi/Gurgaon for my visa stamping nonsense, and managed to finally - finally, I say - make the long-planned weekend trip to Amritsar.
Not bad, wot? 2015 - let's try and build up cities I haven't been to before, 'kay?

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
Again, will power. Specifically, the will power to stop watching TV and get in some, you know, exercise or something.

7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Hmmm, I dunno about this one. Things happened - things I will not forget, and episodes that really are etched in the memory. But I don't think there's a specific date for any of the really important stuff.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I changed roles at the job, and it was all due to my ability to be more social and network and stuff. Go, me!

9. What was your biggest failure?
To get fitter, I think.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Hah. You bet. The trip to school in April was accompanied by ridiculous amount of pain. I stabbed my hand in August while trying to open a box from Amazon, and then just this past weekend, I had the most spectacular and most elegant fall you've ever seen in a taco shop in Texas. Ow.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My Christmas tree. It's so pretty, y'all.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I don't know. It's depressing to realise that this is the question that stumps me the most.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and/or depressed?
Other than almost every politician, you mean?

14. Where did most of your money go?
Paying off my student loan.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Something(s) I'm not allowed to talk about on my blog. Hee.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
I don't think there's any one song, to be honest.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
Pretty much the same, really. It's been a pretty even-keeled year.

18. Thinner or fatter?
Ugh. Way fatter.

19. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Been more active. Cooked. Read.

20. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Hmmm. Spent money, maybe? I suppose I should say watched TV.

21. How will you be spending Christmas?
Spent it cleaning my apartment so that a friend arriving for the weekend the next day wouldn't faint with horror, and then went out for dinner.

22. Did you fall in love in 2014?

23. How many one-night stands?
Too many to count.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Between January and March, I did a marathon watch of every television show Aaron Sorkin wrote. The man's a sexist and an asshat, but I will say, his shows are good.
The list of current TV shows continues to grow longer - so it's probably a blessing that the comedies I fall in love with every year inevitably get cancelled.
I was very skeptical of John Oliver taking for The Daily Show over the summer, but I am so, so glad he did, because he was brilliant. And ever since Last Week Tonight started, he has slowly but steadily started replacing Jon Stewart as the love of my life as well.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Nope. Well, certain colleagues are a pain in the ass, but otherwise, no.

26. What was the best book you read?
Er... See #19. However, I did thoroughly enjoy both the Robert Galbraith books.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I don't think I discovered anyone/anything new this year.

28. What did you want and get?
Professionally, I wanted to change roles, and that worked out. Personally, I got a lot of family and friends-back-home time this year, but it's never really enough, is it?
I wanted to write this year, and I did. I wanted to travel this year, and I did. So yay me.

29. What did you want and not get?
Nothing comes to mind. The thing about 2014 is it was very... even keeled, compared to previous years. No major life changing moments, and so not much to regret.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
I loved Finding Fanny. The Captain America movie was awesome, and I loved how much fun Agents of Shield became after the movie came out (because let's face it, it was mind-numbingly boring before that).
I didn't particularly love the final Hobbit movie, but I'm so glad that it released a week early in India and that I was able to see it with the father and brother, rather than friends I have to drag with me who then have no idea what's going on.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was home. Parents brought out cake and gifts at midnight, S came over for lunch, then I met the gal pals for supper, and finally had a late night second dinner with the parents. There was also drama, which made it simultaneously the worst birthday I've ever had, as well as one of the best. And that's all you need to know about it.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The ability to apparate. Or use a portkey. I'm not fussy.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Do you promise not to laugh? I got more comfortable with using make up this year. That was my big fashion concept in 2014, seriously. Heretofore, all I used was eyeliner. I now own foundation, and primer, and blush, and whatnot. I'm still not sure I use all of them correctly, but I no longer feel I'm looking like a freak, and no one has taken me aside to say I'm looking like a clown, so I'm calling this one a success.

34. What kept you sane?
Loved ones. Who also drove me insane, but whatevs.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
John Oliver.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Elections, man, elections. This has been a crappy, crappy year for me politically.

37. Who did you miss?
Loved ones.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
My current friend circle is mostly people I either met/got to know towards the end of 2013, or early 2014. So them, I suppose.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
I have friends. I can ask for help if I need it.
I thought I'd gotten better at this, but when a friend yelled at me for not asking him to take me to Urgent Care when I stabbed my hand, I realised maybe I'm still not that good at it yet.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Kaisee teri khudgarzee, Na dhoop chune na chhaanv
Kaisee teri khudgarzee, Kisi thaur tike na paanv

Ban liyaa apnaa paighambar, Tar liyaa tu saat samandar
Phir bhee sookhaa mann ke andar, Kyoon reh gaya

Friday, December 26, 2014

Deep thoughts

I was talking with my friend D earlier this evening about travel plans in 2015, and we were throwing out ideas for destinations, when of course I started whining about how I would have to apply for multiple visas to visit half of these.

D: See, this is why you need to stay in the US long enough to get American citizenship. Then you won't need to worry about things like visas. 'Murica!
Me: Or, you know, I could get married to someone with American citizenship. Wouldn't that work too?
D: Hmmm. I wonder if they changed the law that same sex marriages now qualify you for these things too.
Me: A, wouldn't help me. B, would depend on the state, no?
D: You should still look into this.
Me: Why, are you offering?
D: Oh phish, no. I'd never be able to pull off a lie like that. I can do tiny white lies, not big ones like this.

Five minutes later:
D: See, now I feel like I'm on vacation. I'm able to come up with deep thoughts like this.
Me: You know this conversation is going on my blog, right?

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.


* 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.


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.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The deal with my life

Every night, before going to bed, I look around my apartment, and think: I need to get my act together. Well, truth be told, I phrase it in a slightly more colourful manner, but my mother reads this blog.
Every morning, before leaving for work, I glance around again, and think: wow, I really need to get my act together.
Every evening, I get back home, go for a swim (okay, this may not happen *every* evening), come back, take a shower, and then watch TV for the next few hours.
Rinse. Repeat.

I turn 30 in some months, y'know? And much like a few years ago, when I was hitting another milestone-y age, I'm getting into panic mode. 30 just seems so... old.

When I bring up my anxiety around turning 30, people rush to assure me now it's not that bad, how I'm not that old, how plenty of people meet their life partners well into their 30s, how I can have kids all the way upto 40.


Who cares about all that? Getting married and having kids have nothing to do with my panic around the big 3-O. My bigger concern is why I don't have my act together. Shouldn't I be more... capable at taking care of myself by now? Shouldn't my apartment look less hurricane-struck, and the food I cook taste less bland? I'm never going to have one of those straight-out-of-a-coffee-book homes, but shouldn't I at least not have piles of documents and envelopes and bills on every uncovered surface in the place?

So what is the deal with my life? Because, really, I need to get my act together.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Where I try not to judge you, but do anyway

I have a feeling this post is going to come out as utterly obnoxious and condescending and judgmental and all sorts of things, and I'm going try to articulate my thoughts in a way that isn't, but you have been warned anyway. And now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, let's try to articulate those thoughts.

I'm not - I'd like to believe - one of those people who put up posts or photos of everything that's happening to me on Facebook; that's what Twitter and Instagram are for, for me. My posts, more often than not, are about things that irritate me, or articles I find and read and think are interesting, or, as someone pointed out recently, when it rains. What can I say, I love baarish.

It's not that I don't post photos either on Facebook - I posted photos from a friend's wedding less than a month ago. And I do take a lot of photos with the intention of posting them, especially when I travel, but the whole process of uploading them into an album is so tedious that I usually end up not doing it.

But. I got a haircut yesterday. And I posted "before" and "after" photos on Facebook. And in the twelve-ish hours between posting them and starting to write this post, they've become one of my most "liked" posts on FB. Possibly only after my graduation photo from last year, and I think it has now beaten the post about my parents' 30th anniversary.

And it makes me wonder, is this what people want to see? What I look like before and after I chop off ten inches of hair to send to Locks of Love? So all the articles about women and politics and puppies that I post, which get a couple of "likes" (if any) - people just roll their eyes and scroll past them? Even the puppies?

Don't get me wrong, I'm as compulsive a liker as anyone. I like posts - all the time. But I feel (hope) I do balance out the cute baby photos and the articles, because hello, they mean something.

And it's not like I need validation or a gazillion likes to continue posting. I see it on others' posts too - the obnoxious ones whining about the whims of vegan friends, or the ones humble-bragging about how blessed they are to have a free weekend after working SO hard all week that their client gushed with praise will get a lot more response than some of the really brilliant articles that get shared by others.

And at the risk of sounding utterly judgmental, as you were warned, it makes me feel like Louis CK has a point when he calls us the crappiest generation ever.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Parental conversations

Conversations with and about my parents over the past few months.

The mother: Why are you coming now if I can visit you in a few months?
Me: Umm, you do realize you're not the only reason I like to come to India?
*offended silence*
Me: There are other people and places in my life, you know...
The mother: I got it after the first line, you know.


Me: So I renewed my lease for a year.
The mother: But... what if you finally meet someone?
The father: One of them can always sublease or something.


Me: It's really sad how awful my Hindi and Bengali is. Even the brother speaks better Hindi than me now.
The father: All of that may be true, but you have the best understanding of lyrics to Bollywood songs out of anyone in this family.

I felt so proud and validated.


The brother: What are you getting Baba for his birthday?
Me: He sent me his usual email of what he wants.
The brother: I didn't get this. What was on it? Was it for everyone?
Me: No, I get one every time I visit home. Things to work on - my health, my temperament, my ambition, the way I talk to people...
The brother: Oh. Are you doing any of that yet?


The father: You've been silent these past few days.
Me: Umm no, I Skyped with your wife almost every night.
The father: Oh. I wasn't informed.
[less than an hour later]
The mother: You can call your father, but not reply to my whatsapp message?

Competition nahi hain, bhai.


The father: So my eye surgery's on the 14th...
Me: Oh good, you finally got around to scheduling it.
The father: Yeah... but I need to talk to the doctor if it makes sense.
Me: If what makes sense?
The father: If I should have eye surgery after I've been up all night watching the World Cup final.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


An overheard conversation.

A conversation that made you smile. A conversation that made you furious. A conversation that made you wonder.

Something you saw on the drive to work. A movie you saw. An article you read.

A tweet. A Facebook post. A song on the radio.

Memories. Hopes. Questions you want to ask. Questions you want to answer.

Things you want to say. Things you have to say.

What makes you think? What makes you write?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Somewhere along the way

I'm "working from home" today, because my car needed to go to the shop, and the shop I like to take it to opens on the weekends only if the owner feels like it. I respect that level of whimsy in a business owner, even if it makes things a little inconvenient for me.

In reality, I'm sitting in a coffee shop which has free wifi and will refill my mug with hot water for free if I'm willing to reuse the tea bag they gave me - in fact he suggested I do that when I went to buy another cup of tea. I'm being surprisingly productive too - I'm usually utterly unproductive when I work from home, but I've churned out a pretty decent amount of work in the last couple of hours.

The coffee shop's keeping fairly busy. There are the college students sitting and reading, working, looking up Google Maps et al., the business meetings between serious and worried looking folks, and a couple of people who look like they're replying to very important emails. And amidst all of us, there's a table at the other end of the shop with three women and a baby. The baby's been passed from woman to woman since I've been here, and so I'm not entirely sure who the mother is - nuggets of conversations overheard seem to suggest one of them definitely is. Their conversation has flowed almost incessantly, and ranged from excited squeals to sympathetic murmurs, from advice based on recent holiday experiences to complaints about a boss and a tricky job situation. I'm not sure how old the three of them are - I would have assumed older than me, at one point, but I'm beginning to realize I'm growing older, so maybe not.

And it's making me miss my girls more than usual. My gal pals, as I call them, and which they objected to when they found this out some months back - they claimed they're more the "saheli" type. Which in all fairness, is probably true.

I've known them for more than a decade at this point, my girls. We went to college together, and spent three years giggling and snacking and pretending to study together. And there was drama - of course there was drama. And most of that drama was put aside, eventually. Because not getting over it wasn't worth what we would lose if we didn't. Some were closer to me then, some are closer now. Some didn't seem that close but were the ones who reached out when I needed someone to reach out. There were others who were part of us too, but disappeared along the way, for reasons that were delved into way more often that we should have. I had different equations with each of them, and each of those equations have changed over the years. But the four of them will always top any list I make of loved ones.

I hardly speak to them anymore, my girls. The occasional whatsapp message, sure. But I never talk to them. I've never been good at just picking up the phone and calling up someone because I felt like it; I suppose it goes back to the kind of person I am. And somewhere along the way, they stopped calling too. I used to send them articles I came across and found interesting; I never got too many responses, so somewhere along the way, I stopped.

We used to have the most hilarious email chains going on once upon a time; I spent hours trying to muffle my laughter at work once upon a time. The replies used to be fast and furious, till you didn't know who was replying to what. One girl would never respond for days, then appear with a one-liner once in a while, and vanish again. Those stopped too, somewhere along the way.

Three of them are in the same city, all four of them in the same continent. Some of them were on a different continent for a while when I was still home, and came back around the time I was getting ready to leave. Three of them got married in the past, what, 18 months? I missed all three weddings, and it broke my heart not to be there to see these girls, these girls I've loved for so long now, marry the men they've chosen to love. It made me question those life choices all over again, every single time.

Just before I left home, three years ago, I came across this article and sent it to them. And every time I miss them more than usual, I pull it up and read it again. Today's one of those days.

Because I hardly talk to them anymore, my girls. It shouldn't be so hard, you know. In this day and age, between gtalk and whatsapp and Skype and Google Voice and whatnot, it shouldn't be this hard. Even when I'm in town, meeting them seems harder than it should be. Everyone's busy, everyone has lives, everyone has things to do, whether it's getting on with life, planning for a wedding, or trying to cram every possible thing on the list into two weeks of vacation. But it sometimes feels like it's harder than it should be.

But there are priorities, and there are egos, I suppose, and there are histories, some of which are easier to get past than others. I suppose. So I hardly talk to my girls anymore. And I miss them. And I never tell them that I miss them.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Thoughts I had while watching Maleficent

This is by no means meant to become a thing I do every time I watch a movie, but the thoughts are there, and begging to come out, so what else am I supposed to do I ask?

Again, this may or may not be spoiler-y, so tread with caution if you intend to watch the movie and haven't yet.

  • Can we just begin by stating outright how utterly distracting Angelina Jolie's cheekbones were? I've read about them, and seen the trailers, but I didn't realize just how prominent they had been made till the movie started in 3D.
  • Can we also talk about how ridiculous, horrible and incomprehensible the characters of the three fairies were? They switched sides (purportedly with the idea of keeping peace) and showed up at the christening even though they presumably knew the history between Stefan and Maleficent. They tried to stop Maleficent from coming near the baby - which, okay, was understandable in the grand scheme of things, but was just so contradictory to the way we saw them interact with young Maleficent in the beginning of the movie. They were terrible caretakers of Aurora - and not just in terms of being incompetent without magic, but just plain and simple uncaring. And how do they not catch on to the fact the very person you're trying to keep Aurora away from is hanging around in the woods near you, if not IN your cottage, almost constantly? Not to mention having absolutely no idea of where Aurora would be for what I assume were hours on end. And finally pushing a random dude you've never before seen in your life onto a sleeping girl because he said he's a prince. Excellent job, ladies, you're exactly who I'm leaving my kids with.
  • And then there are the men in the movie. One pleasant Prince Philip, who in his 2.5 scenes showed he had more brains than those three fairies ("but we've only really met once!"). One delightful sometimes-raven-sometimes-man-sometimes-whatever-creature-Maleficent-chooses whose name I couldn't quite get (Diablo? Diaval?) who also seemed to be playing the part of Maleficent's conscience in some ways. And two moronic chauvinistic kings. One who needed the magic world destroyed because that was supposed to be his "legacy" and also needed one of his knights to go do what he couldn't so he could appoint said knight as his successor and son-in-law (because y'know, he only had a daughter and God forbid she succeeds him). And one ambitious twit who broke a heart (and more) to become king, treated his wife like dirt, met his daughter after 16 years and far from even hugging her, promptly ordered for her to be locked up (and no, it wasn't out of concern as far as I could tell), and generally was batshit crazy. But then I suppose the movie needed him to be a twit for the story to exist.
  • All this aside, I actually did like the movie. The middle section, in particular, where the "fairy godmother" is playing pranks on the three twits was utterly enjoyable. 
  • Elle Fanning was fine and all, but the baby they got to play her was totes adorbs. Also, I was reading somewhere that the kid who plays Aurora as a toddler was the only one of Angelina Jolie's children who didn't get terrified seeing her mother in that get-up. Made me giggle all through that scene.
  • The twist towards the end was utterly predictable. Especially if you've seen Frozen or even Snow White and the Huntsman (which, by the way, has a producer in common with Maleficent, as I discovered from Wikipedia), you'll see it coming from a mile away.
  • The nods to the more classic Disney movie about the Sleeping Beauty were a lot of fun - the raven, the dragon, the birthday cake - all tiny, but fun common threads.
  • It occurred to me, as I was watching the movie, that I've never actually watched a movie with Angelina Jolie in it before this one. Unless... do Kung Fu Panda movies count? 
  • And finally, this: I've read reviews of the movie where what Stefan does to Maleficent is compared to rape. I don't know. What he did was despicable, and traumatic, and unspeakably terrible, but what he did was also him taking the easy way out because he couldn't make himself kill her. And rape is... not that. And I'm not saying anything more on this beyond I really don't know what I think of that comparison.
That is all, folks. Good night.

(Unless I think of something I forgot to mention. Oh wait, I just did. Let me go add that above.)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Of conversations that come out of the blue

We had maybe two conversations all through business school, she and I. Our social circles were completely different, our lifestyles were completely different, and the only thing we probably had in common was that we both kept our distance from the "desi crowd" - her, a tad more than me.

We both ended up getting jobs in the same city, but since her job involves travel, and her personal life involves navigating a long-distance relationship, the first time we met after graduation was at the one-year reunion last month. Where we hugged and promised to get together if we were ever in Dallas at the same time. Because isn't that what you do?

But then she texted me earlier this week asking if I was free for dinner, and I shrugged and figured why not (even though can I just say that my food budget according to has been absolutely haywire this month, and I don't know where all this money has gone. End sidebar.) And ended up having an interesting evening, simply because it was - at least on my part - such an honest conversation.

We talked about the choices we've made - professionally, socially, personally. We talked of turning 30 - three months ago for her, a little more than a year from now for me. We talked of our families, parental expectations, what we look for in relationships, and knowing who we are. We talked of moving to the US from India - eight and three years ago, respectively. We talked of why we chose to distance ourselves from people we should have bonded with over a shared identity. And we talked of what it was like to make friends, meet people, form relationships, at this age, in a new city where you know practically no one. And by the time we parted, I felt like I understood her and her choices a little better.

Her name, when it would come up in conversations with the desi crowd, would always be met with eye rolls and sniggers, because she hung out with a very different crowd, and made no efforts to socialize with them. And I would listen and wonder if I was talked about similarly when I wasn't around (I'm pretty sure I was).

I had dinner with a couple of classmates and their wives last night. Over dosa and rasam, I mentioned meeting her earlier in the week. And listened to the same sniggering comments being made. And sighed on the inside.

She said something to me, just before we went our separate ways... something that made me smile and wonder. We had talked of meeting people and forming relationships, and I had, as I am wont to do, whined about being perennially single. And then the conversation turned to choices in life, and I mentioned something I had written about just over three years ago - about how I've never really gone after things, I've always let life happen to me. And she smiled and said, well then, maybe you need to sit back and just wait for this to happen too.

I wonder.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Where I whine about Google being... well, Google

WTF Google?

I've always liked you. Your search was cool, your products were cool, your company seemed fun. You kept coming out with new sites that seemed more exciting than they probably were because you made them so exclusive. Wave, Buzz, even Google Plus. I actually have long Gtalk chats archived somewhere with friends about how we could get invites to these sites. I ignored, and continue to ignore, all the rumblings about privacy issues and data concerns and whatnot, and just liked the stuff you had.

Case in point: despite knowing Wordpress is probably way better than Blogger, I've stuck to you all these years, haven't I?

But then you became this know-it-all that started taking away the sites and features I actually liked and kept pushing other, annoying features and sites at me.

You took away the likes and the sharing features on Google Reader, you shut down Wave (which, to be fair, I can't blame you for; not enough people saw what fun it could be), you even took away Buzz, which let me share articles with people without having to go anywhere. You started pushing Google Plus everywhere you could, linking it to Youtube (although thankfully, at least there you let me choose and switch between my blogging name and real name. DON'T CHANGE THAT.), trying to get people to share articles there rather than on GReader (fat chance, I say), and even trying to trick me into linking it to my Blogger account. You wanted me to log into Chrome - I still have no idea what that really means - but were okay with me ignoring you over this.

The biggest blow to my heart was when you shut down GReader. I've moved on, I've found another home to keep my gazillion feeds in, even though its not as perfect as GReader was. But there's a part of me that will never forgive you for breaking my heart the way you did over this.

And now, you've messed up Gtalk. Gtalk has been my window to the world for so long. I love how it archived everything within Gmail; for someone who loves to search for and read specific old email conversations, it made finding chats to reminisce over so convenient. If I occasionally had wistful thoughts about the more fun emoticons that MSN Messenger had, I ignored them to focus on how easily accessible Gtalk was and how I could stay invisible and still talk to everyone I wanted to talk to.

But then you brought in Hangouts. For a long time, I managed to ignore the existence of said hangouts. I still used Gtalk from within Gmail, and if the way archived chats looked changed a bit, I wasn't overly bothered. I bought an Android phone, and it let me download Gtalk, so I was happy. It kept asking me to update Gtalk to Hangouts, and for more than a year, I managed to ignore it. Then last week, ignoring the voice in my head advising me against it, I went ahead and did a software update on my phone. Which led to various issues on my phone, chief of which was the appearance of auto correct and the disappearance of my dictionary (both of which I managed to fix eventually, thankfully), and the switch from Gtalk to Hangout.

And today I discover that if I have Hangout on my phone, I can't go into invisible mode - not just on the phone, but even in Gmail on a browser, because I get a nonsensical message saying I'm logged in on a device that doesn't allow invisibility.

So I ask, Google, WTF?

Here's what makes me really curious about you, Google. How exactly do you come up with such bullshitty decisions? Do you do focus groups, or tests, or whatever, and pilot these ideas? Or is it just random dudes sitting in what I hear are really cool cafeterias thinking, how can we totally change things that are working just fine, and make everyone who uses this miserable.

Because most of the people I talk to or follow on social media do have similar opinions - good or bad - to the ones I've expressed here. But then most of the people I talk to or follow on social media also weren't very keen on the BJP winning the elections in India, so what do I know. I clearly don't follow very representative people.

Here's the thing. I know you won't give me back the things you've taken away from me; I once spent an entire networking event with your company complaining to a recruiter about you guys had ruined GReader, and he kept nodding and admitting he thought you guys had messed up there, but that didn't help me, did it?

But seriously, can you just stop? Stop screwing with the products I love so much, and just let me use them.

Just. Stop. Change for the sake of change is just stupid, okay?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Of the month that was

There are times when so many things happen in such a short span that when you look back you wonder what the universe was even thinking. April was one of those months. Lovely, lovely things happened, but utterly annoying things also happened. And I wouldn't normally dedicate a whole post to such happenings, but my reminder for the second post of April has been going off every time I open my home laptop and who knew if you hit snooze often enough you come to the end of the month without that post getting written?

April involved travel - I was out three weekends in a row, and while they were all for nice reasons, things kept happening while I was traveling that interfered with fully enjoying said travel. On the other hand, I've gotten pretty darn good at packing lightly for a weekend. Also ability to be impulsive is improving.

The godfather visited Amreeka, and I got to see him this time, unlike the last time when stoopid ice storms cancelled all flights to and from Dallas. A friend got married, a friend got a job, a friend got evicted. The first elections back home I wasn't able to vote in, and a part of me was kinda relieved I didn't have to make that choice.

The mother decided she wanted to come visit me in May, so I first freaked out, then started planning Mother's Day. But then the father's eyes started acting up, and we said let's wait and see. Then, when I called them from San Francisco ten days ago (which in itself is rare, because I usually don't call them when I'm travelling) I was informed that all the meds he was on led to him collapsing, he had been rushed to the ER and was in hospital, and that the brother was flying down to Delhi. Okay then. As the friend I was staying with described it, "I came out of the room and she was crying on the phone, and then when I came out again she was yelling at her mother, so I knew it couldn't be too serious."

Tell me, it's perfectly normal for parents to take smiling photos of themselves in hospital rooms and send them to a daughter who's on the other side of the world, yes?

Anyway, he got better, and discharged within a day, but clearly the mother's trip is off. So I can put off that much-needed apartment cleaning even further.

I went back to school, for our one-year reunion, and I can't begin to describe to you how good it was to be back and see everyone. I have very mixed feelings in retrospect about my decision to go to business school, and the two years I spent there, but this weekend brought out everything I loved about those two years. So much happiness.

Unfortunately, on the Thursday of reunion weekend, I managed to sprain my back while lifting my suitcase, and the next 48 hours were excruciatingly painful. By Saturday I was better, because I had found just the right mix of ibuprofen, bengay, and heating patches that would help me get through the night, but then on Sunday I managed to slip and fall in the shower, and banged my elbow, and bruised myself in multiple spots, and basically gave myself another week of excruciating pain which is not helped in any way by the mother whatsapping every twelve hours asking "Hw nw?"

There are also multiple news items related to the brother that make me all squeee. I'm not allowed to talk about them in public but they make me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside because good things lie ahead. FINGERS ARE CROSSED OKAY?

Oh and I think I got the H1B visa lottery but I'm not entirely sure because the email and website confuses me so I'm just going to take the word of my friends and colleagues and assume I got it.

So yeah, that was April. I liked you, but I also kinda didn't. I'm glad you're over.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Of books and their readers

I don't often post comments on other blogs (which is no reason for you not to. ahem.), but a twitter friend (is that the correct term?) recently wrote this lovely piece, and I was prompted to. And I did, and while writing it I thought I wanted to come back to what I was writing and do a longer piece of my own on this topic at some point, but the comment seems to have disappeared altogether and I'm not quite sure what happened, so I suppose the longer piece about this is coming sooner than expected.

I'm not much of a reader, truth be told. I used to be. When I was 16, I had a lovely three months of nothing to do and spent them reading all the more traditional classics that my library had. Soon after, however, I discovered Mills & Boons and how they didn't require any thinking. And that was the end of that. While I have now moved on from them to a select few romance authors I like to think are better, the number of really good books in any other genre I've read in the years since is a pitifully short list. And then of course, the internetz happened, and so much of my reading is just online these days - blogs, articles, and whatnot.

However, even though I don't read that much, I love books. I always have, so even though I have the Kindle app on my phone full of a whole bunch of nonsensical no-thinking-required type of books, there are times when you really do want to just curl up with a book in your hands. But more than that, it's old books, books owned by others before me, books handed down to me by others, books that have a history behind them that I love most.

Which is probably why most of the books I own are from Daryaganj, or College Street, or lending libraries that were selling off their stock, from the second-hand bookshop in the airport I flew in and out of for the two years of business school, or now from Half-Price Books. Very often they've been books I'd already read, bought simply because they're favourites I like to go back to frequently.

And all of this brings me to the point I had in mind when I started this post, of reading old books, and the notes in them. I'm not one to make notes in books while reading them. Well, except for textbooks, and they don't count as far as I'm concerned anyway. The only times I have made a note in a book if there was a line that jumped out me, but that's been rare too - I was, in my teens, far more likely to carefully copy it down in a notebook full of quotes I used to maintain; these days, though, I'm more likely to post it on tumblr or goodreads!

But the notes I love, and my favourite part of owning or even browsing through pre-owned books, is the inscriptions in them. Who owned them, where and when they were bought, who gifted them to whom, and why - I love glancing into books and seeing those notes that give these books a history. Running my fingers over those names or notes always makes me wonder, and smile.

Whenever I buy a book - new or old - the first thing I do is scribble my name, the date, and where I bought it on the first page. When someone gifts me a book - new or old - I hound them till they scribble a little note inside. It's how I've got the best letters from my family, truth be told. And I do the same if I'm gifting a book to someone.

Who knows, twenty or fifty years down the line, someone will pick up a Chalet School or Georgette Heyer book somewhere, and see my name scribbled in there, and wonder. And maybe smile?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Goin' home

I went home for two weeks.

I landed at the airport, and stood outside waiting for my parents to pick me up. A car pulled up, with an older couple in the front, a dog at the back, clearly waiting for their offspring. It wasn't for me. Their son showed up and got into the car; they drove off, and my parents pulled up. For the first time since I left home, and came back to visit, the back seat was empty.

We reached home, and there was silence in the house. Excited voices chattering over each other, yes, but silence otherwise. No paws pattering (or slipping, as I used to perennially worry) on the marble floors. No deep sighs of exasperation when I got into arguments with the mother, or the brother when he showed up a week later.

I celebrated my birthday at home this year, and my parents brought out a cake and the camera and gifts at midnight. And my mother took a piece of cake and dropped it to the floor, in memory of the four-legged idiot who would go berserk on hearing the words "happy birthday" and would salivate and palpitate any time a cake was baked or cut at home, and would be the first one to be fed every time. And I looked the other way and pretended I didn't see.

We went out, and no one bothered closing the kitchen door to prevent someone from sneaking in. I did, out of habit. We came back home, and no one jumped off the sofa guiltily, or came pattering up with a wagging tail to greet me. I went down to the basement, to the father's office, and there was no one sprawled on the stairs, blocking my way. The brother went for a run every morning, but there was no one sighing patiently as he and I argued over whose turn it was to take her out.

Two days before leaving, I was sent to get the laundry, and I passed the father's white board, where he's put up post cards and magnets sent to him by his kids over the years. And next to them, was the release form he signed for her cremation, when she left us nine months ago. And I read it, and broke down. And bawled.

And I came back upstairs and my phone was playing music, and this song came on, and the silence in the house grew louder.

I went home for two weeks, and Kyra wasn't there to greet me, or sleep with her head on my feet, or eat my birthday cake, beg for food with those guilt-inducing eyes of hers, or make me go for a walk at least once a day. And the house felt so damn silent.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Of broken eggs and deleted posts

Sometimes you go to Whole Foods and accidentally drop a crate of eggs. And you pick up the crate and stand wondering what to do with it, and while you're standing there with yolk dripping on your fingers, a woman who's been glaring at you ever since it happened stops a Whole Foods employee and points him your way. And you keep apologizing, but he just laughs you off saying he drops eggs several times more than you do, and you don't feel so bad. And then you see the woman who was glaring at you look disappointed that you didn't have to burn in hell for what you did and you feel even better. And then you come home and type out a long FB update about the incident and the woman who wanted to see you pay for your sins but delete it without posting because you realize you have an overactive imagination and no one really cares.

And then you open Blogger and post it there instead because what is a blog for if not your overactive imagination that no one cares about.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Thoughts I had while watching Highway

I think these are by and large in the sequence I had them, but some might not be, plus I'm pretty sure I've forgotten some.

I'm fairly certain this is pretty spoiler-free, but tread with caution?
  • Oh good the UTV dance. I still miss the fingers doing the rangoli thungummy though.
  • This Window Seat Films sketch is the cutest thingummy for a production house I've seen in a long time.
  • I've clearly spent too much time in Amreeka, because the opening montage in the movie is from the viewpoint of the driver's seat, and is absolutely gorgeous, yet all I could think was: that's... not the right side of the road.
  • Wow that fiance's a pansy. (Sidebar: you would think there would be a better video of that beautiful line available on YouTube. I am disappoint.)
  • Ugh creepy guy pretending to be nice and helpful ugh.
  • It's a good thing this movie has subtitles. Being from Gurgaon obviously hasn't done much for my Haryanvi comprehension skills.
  • Alia Bhatt has gorgeous hair. 
  • Ugh creepy guy ugh.
  • I'm very sure that scene was filmed on the main road near my home.
  • A review I read a few days ago talked about Veera - Alia's character - having a "secret from her past". I was bang on with my guess as to what that secret would be. 
  • The jump from being terrified of your kidnapper to confiding your biggest secret to him to dancing in the wind seemed too abrupt.
  • Can I bash the heads of these two idiots sitting in front of me? Maybe that'll get them to stop talking.
  • Where does the second kidnapper (Adooda? was that his name?) keep disappearing?
  • Excellent casting, I have to say. Adooda and Tonk, especially.
  • That dance scene - love how the entire hall erupted in laughter when the bhangra started.
  • India's quite beautiful, no?
  • On the other hand, the progression of emotions shown by Mahabir - Randeep Hooda's character - seemed far more natural.
  • I can't remember another movie where I watched actors cry so realistically. 
  • Okay I might need to stop my friend from punching these two idiots. But seriously, shut up. It's not your living room.
  • I'm not quite sure what's going on right now with this QSQT-like living in the mountains scenario. I like movies to have an identifiable end goal, and I'm not seeing one right now.
  • I'm not sure why I don't love Randeep Hooda. The man is gorgeous, can act, and does interesting movies. What exactly is it about him that doesn't stick?
  • Holy crap, I did not see that coming.
  • Wait, the movie's not over? What could they possibly do after that?
  • Ah okay, I see where this is going.
  • Huh. Okay, I can live with this ending. Not overly dramatic, and largely believable. 
I have to say, after watching Hasee toh Phasee two weeks ago, and now this movie, the question begs to be asked: was Student of the Year really the only option Siddharth Malhotra and Alia Bhatt had for their debut? They deserved so much better. Both can act, which I had suspected when I saw SOTY, but am convinced of after their subsequent movies.

Well done, Imitiaz Ali. I am inclined to forgive the hash that was Love Aaj Kal. I still don't plan to watch Rockstar, however.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Of (some) things that make me homesick

I was listening to this song on the drive to work this morning, and once again found myself thinking that the opening lines of this song always make me a little more homesick, as well as a little questioning of my life choices.

And then I got to work, pulled up Feedly for my morning browsing of new posts, and the first one that popped up was this.

Sometimes the universe conspires to make you miss everything you hold dear a little more.

Friday, February 07, 2014

A note on Dilli and its people

I've realized no matter which part of the world I'm in, no matter how vaguely or how well I know someone, it's the folks - mainly guys, interestingly - from Delhi who will end an evening with the words "let me when you get home so I know you've reached safely."

It's not everyone from Delhi. It's not only in the evenings. Most of all, it's not only folks from Delhi, I know. But it stands out to me because in general, I don't get along with folks from Delhi much - despite having grown up there. And therefore don't hang out with them all that frequently since leaving home. But when I do, I almost always hear this. More than I do from people from other parts of the country or even world.

And I'm choosing not to rationalize it in any way - city characteristics, gender, personalities, falana dimka. It's something I've observed, and find interesting.

That is all.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Where we set goals for this blog

I've been flip-flopping about what to do with this blog for a while now. Struggling to write the annual recap I like to do made me realize just how hard it's become for me to write off late, and I've been wondering if it's worth the effort.

I came very close to shutting down this blog last week, mainly because I was (am) furious with someone who allegedly knows me very well, yet doesn't grasp how important it is to me to keep this blog private from extended family and acquaintances. Having calmed down somewhat, I realized I can't. This blog has been a part of me for too long. It's been a medium for me to vent, to express, to share - and I'm not letting anyone take that away from me.

When I browse through this blog's archives, I find myself liking what I've written in the last two or three years more than what I wrote in the early years. So while my frequency has decreased, the fact I've been writing mostly when I've been overly worked up or emotional about something has helped, I think. At the same time, it isn't very nice to realize I can only write something I won't disapprove of later when I'm either angry or sad.

So here's the thing. I'm going to set myself reminders to blog a minimum of twice a month. It could be anything - a meme, a few quick thoughts on whatever TV show I'm currently doing a marathon watch of, what I lost that particular week. But I'm going to write. And if between those two mandated posts I get worked up about something else and decide to type out a furious rant, well then, that's just a bonus. But I'm going to write.

And if there's no one reading those posts other than the one mother and one friend who are subscribed to this blog by email - well, that's no different from the current situation, so what's there.

That is all. I will go set reminders now. Toodles.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Passport woes

My annual flashback for 2013 is still pending, but recent events have fueled bitter tweets on my twitter timeline, which in turn prompted me to write this post that I really wanted to write almost two years ago, but thought it wiser to wait.

Some of you might remember a fleeting reference to a it-can-only-happen-to-me type incident from my annual flashback last year. This, dear reader, is the long-promised post about it.

This story truly begins in 2004 when I applied for a passport renewal in good old Dilli. In those days, children, Indian passports were still handwritten, and had none of these fancy bar-scannable stuff. So of course, when my new passport was issued on March 1st, 2004, the person filling it out glanced at his calendar, and put down 29th February 2009 as the expiration date.

Quick, who sees the problem with this? Wait, wait, it gets better.

Since we had applied for the renewal through the tatkaal process, it was issued only for five years. After the "verification process", which involved a drunk cop showing up at home at 10 PM and my  mum having to go ask our neighbours to write out and sign utterly useless letters, we then applied to have the passport extended to a ten-year validity, where again, yes, again, the fellow writing down the new expiry date on the next page glanced at the first page and put down 29th February 2014 as the expiry date.

Now, if you haven't gathered the problem by now, allow me to elaborate. 2004 was a leap year. 2009 wasn't; neither is 2014. So neither of those years have a 29th February. You savvy?

So anyway, when we realized this, we contemplated trying to get it fixed, but by that point any energy or motivation to go back to the passport office in Bikaji Cama Place had left us, so we decided to let it be till it became an issue. This, my friends, is the story of how it became an issue.

Honestly, for eight years, it wasn't an issue. I got multiple Schengen visas issued - from at least four different countries, visited the UK, China, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia, and got two-two US visas issued. And never had a problem. Till two years ago.

After eight years of people from all over the world looking at the date there, applying the brains the Good Lord gave them, and using 28 February as the actual date of expiry, one bright lady decided that to do so would be perjury. And so four days into my internship in Chicago in the summer of 2012, I received a call from HR saying I was being let go till I could sort this out.

And so I did what any strong, collected, independent woman in my situation would do - called my father even though it was past midnight in India. Who in turn called every friend in the US he could think of, and also found me the phone number of the Indian consulate in Chicago.

After much hesitation, and also getting advice from sundry people who were really not much help, I finally called the consulate, where one old Uncle picked up the phone. And heard my situation and promptly handed me over to another Uncle. Who had the bright idea that since my home address in the US was in North Carolina, I should go to DC and apply for a new passport. Which, I mean, hello, I had already researched and discovered that it would be too expensive, take too long, and may not even work since I had more than a year before my passport expired.

So I went into whining mode. 
"But Sir, I'm a student and they've asked me to leave my job so how am I supposed to go to DC and get a new passport?"
"Hmmm. Achha, why don't you come to the consulate tomorrow morning and we will see what we can do."
So at 8 AM the next morning, I was at the Indian Consulate in Chicago. Where I got a ticket and waited for my turn, and when I finally approached the counter and explained my situation, got a big grin and:
"Oh, so you're the one who called yesterday! Wait, wait, give us your passport and we will call you in 15 minutes."

So I waited 15 minutes till one Aunty called me and gave me my passport where they had essentially written on the first blank page they found that the correct expiry date was 28th February 2014, and stamped it, and made a note near previous expiry date to look at other page. Very complicated, and yet so simple.

After thanking them profusely, I called HR to ask if this would work, got a yes, and went shopping on Michigan Avenue, where I splurged on a lovely red dress from Nordstrom and sent my family a long emotional email.

And the first thing I did when I got back to school after the summer was find out if I could renew my passport even if more than a year of validity was left (yes, since the passport wasn't bar-scannable), and sent off my application to DC. Who promptly sent it back since I had forgotten to sign one measly form on one measly page. But then sent me a new passport eventually after I resent everything correctly.

So there you go. Eight years of no one but one airport security guy asking me about a wrong date, one woman who blows up the wrong date into epic proportions, and an Indian consulate who were incredibly sweet and helpful to me at least.

Honestly, I think I need a label for all passport-related incidents posted about on this blog. This is at least the third or fourth such post.