Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Not just me, 'kay?

The day after I posted my little story about business ventures I used to think would be an excellent idea, I woke up to an email from S saying "Ermm I love you but you know you're weird no?" So obviously I need to share more things that continue to validate this sentiment.

One of the more embarrassing things I don't like to admit to people is that in the five years I've lived in Amreeka, I can't always tell, at first glance, if a person is South Asian or Hispanic. I'll see someone, think they're one of the two, and then when they start speaking realise they're the other.


I was once at a restaurant, with a friend who also happens to be from Delhi. There was a family at a nearby table, and when they left, I asked my friend where he thought they were from. He couldn't tell either. So it's not just me.

AnyWAY. So last week, I was on a flight for a quick overnight work trip. I had the window seat, and an elderly Indian couple came and took the seats next to me. I knew they were Indian, because, well, they were speaking to each other in Hindi. I didn't converse with them through the first three-fourths of the flight - the lady next to me slept through most of it, and the only interaction I had with her husband who in the aisle seat was showing him wordlessly how to open the tray table when I noticed he was struggling with it.

Then, as we began to approach the descent to New York, the lady - who had woken up by this point - said something, and I thought she was talking to me, so I took off my earphones and turned to her. Turns out she wasn't actually talking to me but just commenting on how pretty the view of NYC from the window was, but in all of this confusion, she decided to start chatting with me.

And there went the rest of my flight.
Where are you from?
But originally?
Wait, you are Indian?!?
Arre, we thought you are Spanish! We would have chatted with you throughout the flight if we had known!
Erm, okay then.

So anyway, it's not just me, 'kay?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Where we share a few anecdotes about this whole demonetization thing

I was rushing to an offsite meeting, when a news alert popped up on my phone, saying Modiji was about to give a live news conference. I texted the family, in case they wanted to watch. I walked into the meeting room, put my stuff down, and since we were still waiting for one or two people, figured I'll go get myself a cup of tea. As I was walking out of the room, another news alert popped up on my phone, making me gasp out loud, and making everyone in the room to turn and stare at me questioningly. Turned out, Modiji had just announced all 500 and 1000 rupee notes were illegal tender, effective in three hours.

The parents were staying with me in Amreeka at the time. They landed back in Delhi a week after the sky fell on all our heads, and decided they should try and exchange some money at the airport, because who knew what the situation outside would be. When I called them, some 4-5 hours later, thinking they'd be home by then, they were still waiting in queues, because of the four currency exchange counters at Delhi's International Arrivals area, one was open. But what infuriated the father the most? This counter, that was operated by a public sector bank, was giving an exchange rate 10% worse than what the exchange rate actually was.

I landed in Delhi a few days later. Now, I have been a huge fan of credit cards since I started my first job, and realised that using a credit card meant I could a, earn some interest by leaving money in my bank account till it was time to pay my card bill (because Indian banks actually give you some interest), and b, I could earn reward points for all card purchases. So for me, using my credit card wherever I possibly could was a no-brainer for the one week I spent in India. And my parents are also in the incredibly privileged position of being able to decide whether they want to go to Mother Dairy and pay cash, or to the grocery store in the market and pay a little more for milk and vegetables, but be able to pay by card. But that doesn't work everywhere. You still need cash to deal with the autowallas, or the electrician repairing your iron, or the sweets shop you've been having pani puri at for decades.

And there was, quite simply, no cash.

Our neighbourhood market has branches of three different banks, and ATMs of at least another half dozen. On any given day, only one bank would have cash available in their branch and/or ATM. And you knew which one had by cash by seeing the mile long queue that would be outside. We went everyday to check, and only one day did the father manage to withdraw some cash - and only because on that particular day, the bank that had cash had opened a separate senior citizens' line, and he now qualifies for those.

If a bank didn't have cash, they also had no clue when they would have cash. They didn't know when they would receive any.

My parents and I were fortunate enough to be able to choose to use other forms of payment to a large extent. My grandmother? Not so much. She lives alone in Kolkata, and I was able to go see her for a day this time. She hasn't used a bank account in decades, and is almost entirely dependent on the cash her children give her. And so her entire savings suddenly turned worthless, till one of her children could come and swap it out for her. The woman who takes care of her is in an even worse position - she has no bank account, no ID proof to open a bank account, and therefore she has no clue what to do now.

Look, I think it's fairly obvious to anyone who knows me at all, or y'know, reads any of my rants, that I am not, have never been, and never will be a fan of Modiji or the party he belongs to. I was devastated in 2014 when he became PM, but there was also a part of me that wanted to be proven wrong about him, that he would be good for India. Simply because being right wouldn't help anyone, would it now?

When this demonetization thingummy was first announced, I thought it might be a good thing. Black money and corruption is a serious issue in India, and if this was the best way to tackle things, I was all for it. But in the weeks since, talking to people, reading various viewpoints, and quite simply, seeing how this has been implemented is leaving me completely disinclined to believe this will do any long-term good.

I can understand trying to keep this policy shift a secret till you're ready to go, so the people you're after could genuinely be taken unaware. And I'm not going to get into whether certain business houses were kept in the loop in the weeks leading up to this, because meh. But how do you not realise just how cash you would need to replace for the the average person trying to lead their lives? And plan for it accordingly? And when you realise you haven't planned things out correctly, is it really that hard to come out and admit you messed up? Instead, we have a PM who refuses to come to Parliament to listen to the Opposition, a Finance Minister who keeps repeating this is how we'll go after black money, and an RBI governor who basically came out and said something to the effect that only dishonest people were facing trouble in this new world. Yes, because every single person in Gurgaon who had no cash because the damn banks have no cash is dishonest. Thanks, you guys.

What's been equally exasperating is the way things keep shifting on you. First they said they'd accept old notes at government run hospitals and petrol pumps till December 15, then they said this only applied to the 500-rupee notes, not the 1000-rupee notes. Then on December 1, they announced this would be only till December 2, not the 15th.

What a complete shit show.

I am told things are marginally better in the week since I came back from India, but not completely. I honestly don't know how long this shortage of cash is going to continue; I do think anyone who thinks it's a matter of weeks, rather than months, is being overly optimistic.

But I would be happy to be wrong about this.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

On audio cassettes and lipsticks

I'm going to say something that I've never admitted to anyone, and I need you to not laugh at this. Seriously.

So when I was a kid, I used to listen to most of my music through audio cassettes, like most Indian kids did in the 90s did. Only, I'd keep dropping them - much like I do with my phone these days - and breaking the cassette covers. SO I used to think that it would be an excellent idea to grow up and start a company that made spare covers for audio cassettes.*

I said don't laugh.

AnyWAY. Can someone do something like this for lipsticks? Various brands, but Revlon in particular? My lipstick covers keep breaking (I can't figure out how), and then I can't carry them in my jeans pockets.


*I also considered jute bags at one point. No idea why. Probably the more lasting idea though.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


I would like to focus my energies today to talk about the one thing that has made utterly sad in the past few week or so - my makeup.

I have had a very serious and weird outbreak of acne in the past few weeks. Not the one or two pimples I get on a regular basis, but enough to practically cover my face. To the point where even my usually fairly unobservant brother made a comment about it when he saw me a few days ago. So I had to figure out what on earth was going on, and eventually realized it was because I changed the foundation I use recently.

One of my favourite brands of makeup - and one of only two or three brands I am willing to spend more than what drugstore brands would cost me - is Bobbi Brown. I was introduced to their products five years ago by my friend S, and use multiple products by them now (by which I mean two - eyeliner and hydrating cream -  because I use exactly three products every morning).

So, anyway, last year I was introduced to Maybelline's foundation stick, which was excellent because liquid foundation is not a friend to me or my clothes. And then a few months ago, I discovered Bobbi Brown has also introduced a line of foundation sticks. This was exciting, but also draining on the wallet, so I waited a while before I actually picked it up and started using it. And, as it now strikes me, promptly started getting a whole lot of pimples.

I switched back to Maybelline this weekend, and my face is already clearing up, so seemingly that was the issue. But this makes me sad, because now I have Bobbi Brown foundation sticks that I have paid good money for and can't use. And friends who have my skin tone live too far away for me to distribute.

So, yeah, this is what is making me sad currently. Nothing else. Definitely not any other events in the past 48 hours. Nope.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Work conversations

"Finance is just raping me these days."

"Don't use that word like that."

"But that's literally how bad it is."

"No, I object to that word being used in that context."

"Huh. Okay."

Thursday, September 22, 2016

On feeding and being fed by friends

On the rare occasions I invite friends over for a meal at home, I tend to make sure it's planned in a way that I'll have time to cook before they arrive. If not, then I just order takeout, and I'm very clear that I'm ordering in. And I'm guessing I do this because growing up, having people over for a meal meant my mother would spend pretty much all day in the kitchen, cooking close to a dozen dishes - that's just how things were done, now matter how much we rolled our eyes and said we don't need so many dishes. But everything was always ready, just to be heated before serving, prior to people beginning to arrive. At the most it would be the luchis or the rotis that would need to be made, and if anything had to be baked or something.

I don't offer as many options when I host - because let's face it, my cooking capabilities are fairly limited, and why put both myself and my friends through so much unnecessary trauma? But still, I do try and have things ready before friends arrive.

Which is why I feel pretty puzzled when I'm invited to someone's place for dinner, and I arrive to find that they have every intention of cooking while I'm there. And this is usually fine if what we're doing is barbecue or something, where I guess the cookout is supposed to be part of the experience or whatever (although I will never understand people in this country who on the one hand complain about the heat, and then decide hot days are best spent outside by the pool - never in the pool, but just lying by the pool). But I feel completely lost when this is done by desi people, for Indian food, which, let's face it, typically takes quite a bit of time to prepare.

I think this is also partially because a lot of Indians tend to eat late, which again was not something that happened at home growing up - we usually ate by 7 or 8 pm latest. So if I have folks coming over at, say, 7 if it's a weeknight, I'll assume that they'll show up by 8 because Indians are annoying that way. So I'll have appetizers ready when they show up, and move to dinner by let's say 9.

Compare that with a friend I visited the other day. We got to her place at 6, on a Saturday evening. I hadn't eaten all day, because I had woken up really late, and then run around trying to get errands done before getting to her place. So when her husband heard that he brought out the samosas and namkeen pretty quickly, by 6.30ish (mainly because he knew I wouldn't drink till I had eaten something). Then around 8, he made some pizzas and served those. Which was great, and I felt pretty full, so I made them bring out the sweets I had brought from one of my recent trips. But then around 9.30 or 10, he suddenly started making pasta for us, which was apparently the main course of the evening.

And this has happened every time I've visited them, or other friends too. There's be snacks, followed by a mini-meal which feels to me like a main meal, and then suddenly there's a second main meal. And the second meal is usually made while we're there.

Which maybe is a nice and informal way to do it, but still always feels a little bizarre to me.

So am I the only person completely bewildered by all of this? I was talking to S, who feels the same way as me, and we were trying to figure out if we're just anomalies in this respect. Is this a generational thing, and we just happen to do things the same way as our mothers did, a Bengali thing (she's as probashi as I am, except maybe a little better at being bangali than I am), or just something else entirely?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2 AM ramblings

I am having one of my periodic nights of insomnia, so bear with my ramblings, 'kay?

When I was in school (like, school school, not college school, or grad school school), exam time meant my shoulder would hurt. Without fail. And this continued through college and grad school. Pain in my shoulder then started popping up anytime I had an admissions or job interview. And once I started working, whenever the job got particularly stressful. Often times, the pain would start before I even consciously realised I was stressed.

Over the years, this pain has faithfully waited in the shadows, turning up whenever I've been stressed about something, usually job-related, and very often before I even realise I'm stressing. There will be things going on, and I will think I'm dealing with them just fine, and suddenly I'll feel a sharp stabbing pain in either my shoulder or my elbow that'll make me think, huh, maybe I'm not dealing with it so well after all.

There is a part of me that sometimes wonders if my first job has set me up for disappointment in anything I do for the rest of my life.

There were a lot of problems with my first job - learning to work with somewhat eccentric people, extremely annoying coworkers who, well, annoyed me, no career growth prospects (because where do you go in a 15 person company?). But I loved what I did. I was passionate about it. And I was bloody good at it. And my bosses put more value in the "depth" a person had, more than anything else. And they were incredibly, incredibly supportive of my plans for myself.

They pushed me to start planning to go for my MBA, rather than just dreaming about it. They gave me the time off I needed, the support and experience I needed, and resources I needed. They prodded at me till I got to the next phase of my life, irrespective of what that meant for the firm.

And I think that's what spoiled me. In future phases of my life, I've seen less and less emphasis on depth, and more on showmanship. I see less of helping each other progress, and more of how does this benefit me.

And I think that's why I've been feeling sharp jabs of pain in my elbow when starting the drive to work for the past several weeks.

I once asked them what they meant by depth. And I left that conversation feeling like I didn't understand what they meant any more than I had at the beginning of that conversation. But in the years since, I think I've come to understand what they meant.

I don't think they ever watched The West Wing, but I think they'd agree with Sam Seaborn here.
AINSLEY: [turning to look at him] Does it concern you that the smartest Presidents have been the worst?
SAM: I don't grant your premise, but...
AINSLEY: John Quincy Adams was so full of himself, he could hardly build a coalition around having eggs for breakfast. How many grand theories of international relations did Wilson come up with that were dead on the arrival in Congress?
SAM: I don't care.
SAM: Because before I look for anything, I look for a mind at work. Nobody's saying the President needs to have a tenured chair in semiotics, but you have to have...
SAM: Gravitas.
AINSLEY: [leaning forward] And how do you measure that?
SAM: You don't, but we know it when we see it, and Republicans tend to mock it when they do. You think I'm wrong?
AINSLEY: I do not.
SAM: No you don't, and the way I know you don't is I saw you say so on television. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Of the week that was, #2

My week in recap:

  • Found out a very dear friend is getting a divorce.
  • Went on a work trip to New York which included having to watch a baseball game, excellent kathi rolls, and a couple of completely pointless meetings. 
  • Lost a ring, which my mother had "lent" me a few years ago and I had never returned, somewhere in New York. I still don't know how it went missing, because unlike other jewelry I own and lose from time to time, I never take this ring off unless I'm at home. And it wasn't loose for me, so I don't see how it could have just slipped off my finger. The hotel tells me they haven't found it, and I haven't seen in it the bags I took, so there we are.
  • Got back to the office on Thursday to deal with a crapfest that had been threatening to hit us for weeks and finally did. I spent the last two days dealing with nothing but said crapfest, and anticipate continuing to do so for the next several days, if not weeks.
  • And then Friday ended with an email coming in that has given me a sliver of hope for something I had completely given up hope for, but I suspect I shouldn't really raise my hopes anyway because I think this is being done just for the sake of appearances.
On that vague note, I should now go and try to see if I can figure out why my washing machine is leaking every time I run it. Because putting it off for weeks means I really have no clean clothes left.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

On planes, passports, and such

There was a conversation on my twitter timeline this morning that I wanted to reply to, but my reply wasn't fitting into one tweet, and then I got distracted by this silly thing called work. And then by the time I remembered I felt I should just bring it here.

A plane from India to Dubai crashlanded at the Dubai airport yesterday. And once it was established that all the passengers and crew were safe, beyond some injuries (although a firefighter died), most of the conversation online turned to the behavior of the passengers online during the evacuation process.

Every time you board a flight, and they take you through the safety procedures (which, let's face it, most people don't pay attention to, because "that's never going to happen to me"), one of the things they tell you is in case of an evacuation, leave all your belongings behind. In the case of this flight, there seems to be video evidence that these passengers didn't listen to that particular of advice.

And the internet (especially some of the travel bloggers I follow) went crazy with all kinds of "omg look at these selfish morons" comments.

And I get it, I do. When you're in that life or death situation, every moment counts, and every moment spent looking for things you absolutely cannot leave behind adds to the danger of the situation.

But. Let's take a moment to look at the other side of things, yes? This was an international flight, and I would assume the passengers (a majority of whom were Indian) were therefore a mix of business travellers, tourists, and migrants - people who were leaving their home country to work in another country. And when you're in those groups, on an international flight, going to a country that is not your own, you belongings matter. Right, I mean, they always matter, but when you're travelling or living outside your country, your documents and your passport matter more than ever. Because they're all you have that can let you go anywhere. Everything else - money, phone, clothes, electronics, gifts - can be replaced. More easily by some than others, depending on your financial situation. But your documents? Renewing or replacing them in ordinary circumstances is a nightmare. Can you imagine having to do them when you have nothing to prove who you are and that you have the right to be there?

I remember reading, when the Brussels airport was attacked a few months ago, about the Indian passengers who were stranded there when the airport was shut down. Jet Airways used to fly a fifth freedom flight through Brussels at the time, so most of these Indians didn't have a visa for Belgium. So they had to be kept in one of the hangars at the airport till alternate travel arrangements could be figured out, because they didn't have the right to leave the airport. And this is when they had their documents with them.

It's been six years since I was robbed in Italy, and had to spend a week borrowing money from coworkers each time I wanted to buy even a bottle of water. But every time I think back to that episode now, I thank all the serendipity that helped me not lose my passport at the time.

A couple of years ago, the fire alarm went off in my apartment building at 2 am on a Saturday morning, and we all had to evacuate. I grabbed my phone, which was next to my pillow, and my keys, which hung next to the entrance door. I can't remember if I had grabbed my wallet or not. But I remember standing on the road outside, shivering, and wishing I had grabbed a sweatshirt. And My passport. More than anything, I wished I had grabbed my passport, because if that darn building had burned to the ground, where would I be? It didn't, because the alarm turned out be nothing more than a bunch of drunk twits thinking they were hilarious, but I still wish I had grabbed my passport that night.

And I didn't have a hundred other passengers behind me to consider that night. So to the universe who doesn't read this blog, I say this: give the folks who were on that plane a break, will ya? They're dealing with enough trauma without needing the internet to dump on them too.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Where I ramble about fairy tales

There was this fairy tale I read as a kid - one of Hans Anderson's, I think? - called The Princess and The Pea. Basically this prince wanted to get married, but obvs, he could only marry a princess. So when a woman showed up at the castle because she was stranded or whatever and claimed to be a princess (which is something that made zero sense on so many levels, you guys), and the prince had the whole love at first sight deal happen, the queen panicked and said we must make sure she's actually a princess. Because naturally this was all before you could just Google someone.

Anyway, so what the queen did was, she had a room prepared for the alleged princess (can alleged be used as an adjective? it feels weird.) and had this bed with a dozen mattresses or something (and which had to be climbed with a ladder, for Pete's sake), and had a pea placed under all those mattresses. Her logic was that if this woman was truly a princess, she would be used to the best of comforts, and wouldn't be able to sleep because she would feel the pea. If she wasn't a princess, she'd be like, say,  me, and be able to sleep anywhere, anytime (including a DTC bus in Delhi once. True story.)

So the next morning, this princess comes down to breakfast, and is asked how she slept. And unlike most people who are put up as unexpected guests in the home of someone you've never met in your life, and therefore are grateful for the hospitality and would lie politely, she went on about how she couldn't sleep a wink because there was something under her mattress.

And so the queen was satisfied, the prince asked the princess to marry him, she apparently said yes, and happily ever after etc. was achieved.

There are SO many problems with this story on SO many levels, you guys.

Anyway. The reason I thought of this story recently is a skirt I bought some years ago, and which I finally fit into again. Every time I wear it to work, I forget that it has this hook at the back, right in the centre. So when I wear and get in the car to drive to work, it presses against my back and hurts. :(

And then I think of how such an innocuous, tiny little thing can cause such discomfort. Like a stoopid pea.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Moods and music

If you hit play on Track 6 of the Indian Ocean CD that is perpetually in my car's music system as you leave my apartment in the morning, and head to the work place, if you time it just right - and not get stuck behind idiot Texas drivers - you'll reach the highway just around the tenth minute mark. And there is no greater pleasure than zooming down a Texas highway with the remaining three minutes of Charkha coming out of the speakers. And then just as you get off the highway, the track ends and Tandanu comes on, and that does me very nicely for the remaining ten minutes of my commute.

It's unusual for me to be this impacted by a track like this. For me, it's usually the words of a song that I pay more attention to. And it's the words that usually determine which song will suit what mood I'm in.

Certain songs suit certain moods. Certain songs bring on certain moods. Charkha is what I play in the car when I need to just listen, and not think about anything. 

When I'm homesick, and wondering why I live half a world away from friends and family, there's a verse in Kabira that jumps out at me:
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

How's this selfishness of yours,
that you don't take the sun, nor take the shade..
How's this selfishness of yours,
that your feet don't stay anywhere..
You've tried being your own god,
and crossed all seven seas,
Still, there is a draught within your heart,
Why is it so..

When I do go back home for visits, and there's no pitter patter of paws on the floors, or no wagging tail coming to greet me, it still feels weird. And this song comes to mind, because of one line:
Sab kuchh wahi hai, par kuchh kami hai
Teri aahatein nahin hain

everything is the same, but something is missing..
the sound of your footsteps isn't there..
Extremely corny, I know, but ¯\(ツ)/¯

But the easiest choices are when I'm stressed, and need something to smash it out of me. And again, are completely unrelated to the lyrics. When I was in high school, it used to be Celine Dion belting out Power of love. Over the past few years, it's been two songs from Amit Trivedi's Season 2 episode of Coke Studio - Bari Bari and Badri Badariyan.

I heard these two songs for the first time around the time I was moving to London for two months, in early 2013. And halfway through my stay there, I had got a call telling me the princess may not be with us much longer. I started listening to these two songs on loop around then, and even now, three years later, they're what I turn to when I want to get away from the world.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

On old people

I had a very weird weekend. Old people are weird, you guys. And not just because of Brexit. Or the conversations from a couple of months ago.

I was out for dinner with a friend Saturday evening, and suddenly a doddering old man, who had been sitting at the table across from us with his entire family, stopped by as he was leaving, to say to me, "you have the prettiest eyes I've ever seen!"

I responded with an "aww, that's so sweet of you!" as his daughter (or daughter-in-law, maybe?) visibly cringed with mortification as she waited to help him out of the restaurant. And four days later I still can't decide if it was actually sweet, amusing, plain creepy, or all of the above.

And then Sunday morning I was on a flight, doing what I usually do on flights, playing Candy Crush on my tablet. And I was playing it for a fairly long time, because I had managed to unlock infinite lives for a two hour period. The old man sitting next to me woke up from his nap, and started watching me play. After ten minutes of watching, he finally decided to ask me about the game. He asked why I play it, how I play it, how long I've been playing it, and what's the point of playing it at all. And if the fact that I've been playing it for three years means I have a lot of time. And couldn't I find any better games to play?

He then, a propos of nothing, asked if I believed in ESP. "Sometimes," I said. "Ok, let's play a game to see if it's real." "Umm, okay?" He then proceeded to ask me a series of ridiculous math questions, and ended by asking me to name the first vegetable I could think of. He was genuinely disappointed when I said peas, because apparently 80% of people say carrots.

I don't even.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

On democracy

A conversation at lunch, a few weeks ago. Three Indians, one American.

Indian #1: What are you people doing? Trump actually became the nominee!

American: Yeah, I don't know what people are doing!

Indian #1: You need to get it together.

American: I have it together. Politically, that is. My personal life is a bit of a mess. My point is, I'm voting the other way!

Indian #2: But, there has to be some safeguard, right? Don't you people have some safeguards? To prevent such a crazy person actually winning?

American: You would think.

Indian #2: I mean, what if a mass murderer decided to suddenly run for President? Would you let him?

Indians #1 and #3 turn to Indian #2.

Indian #3: You do realize...

Indian #2: Yeah, I just realized what I said. Okay, never mind.
Indian #3: Because this is democracy.


Here's my thing, okay? When general elections in India happened in 2014, I was vocally, and consistently, against the BJP. We all knew they would be coming to power, and Modi would end up Prime Minister, but a part of me held out hope that it wouldn't happen, and wanted to bash my head against the wall when it did.

But my thing? Is this. I could see why people supported the BJP, and voted them to power. Because the alternative sucked. I didn't agree with it, because even though the alternatives sucked, I didn't think voting the BJP to power was a good idea. Two years later, my opinion hasn't changed much. I still don't see a viable alternative, but I still don't see the BJP as a good idea. But I see why others do, or did.

They seemed less corrupt. They talked of "achhe din" and all the progress they would bring. The social side of them, which is the scary as hell side of them, was ignored for the idea of all the economic development that people thought would come. And since social stands are more important to me than economic stands, very obviously I was in the minority (not that I was able to vote, but still).

So here's my thing. I don't get the Presidential election campaign going on in the US right now. I haven't got it for the past year. I don't see how, or why, the Republican primaries have gone the way they did. I don't see how this country can choose the Presidential candidate they have.

Again, in my view, if you are a Republican, your choices were, granted, all horryifying to me. But not to you, surely? So the fact that Trump is the candidate they went with, out of the 11 options (or more?) they started out with, is something I am not able to fathom. At all.

I'm so very terrified for November.

Monday, June 13, 2016

On how the news hits you

One of the continuing arguments I have with my mother is that she refuses to stop worrying about her children. When the brother and I travel, and now the sister-in-law too, she wants to know when we take off and we land. I'm very sure she has news alerts set up for whatever city or country we're in at any given time, because she usually finds out about any shooting or tornado warning or any possible type of calamity within, I don't know, a 1000 miles of me before I do.

Case in point, this Sunday morning. I received a text asking how bad the shooting in Orlando was. I had no idea, because between getting up late, realizing I had to wash my hair, and rushing out of the apartment to meet people on time, I hadn't really glanced at the news, twitter, or Facebook. But just as I typed that text back, saying I hadn't seen the news yet, I caught sight of a TV screen playing CNN. And stopped dead in my tracks.

I could go on and on about how the news these days makes me feel sick to my stomach. The Stanford rape case, the Orlando shooting, the US Presidential elections - none of it is pretty. And I can't blame my mother for worrying about me when I've written in the past about going crazy with irrational worry when anything happens back in India.

A few weeks ago, after yet another exasperatingly frantic call asking about my safety, I had snapped at her, "do you realize, if something had happened to me, calling or texting me would be useless, because I wouldn't exactly be able to respond if I was dead?" After a second of pin drop silence, I was witheringly told never to say anything like that ever again. The fact that I was already feeling the pangs of guilt for having snapped didn't count.

This afternoon, one of the tweets making the rounds about the Orlando massacre that hit a little too close to home was this screen grab of someone's post:

"as investigators are inside the nightclub, where many of the bodies are still where they fell, they have to tune out the nightmarish sound of all of the deceased phones' ringing constantly as loved ones try to reach them."

Shudder, indeed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

On Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War has been watched. Thoughts are tumbling around my head. So, y'know, post. Hopefully largely spoiler-free, but y'know, insert mandatory warning here.

  • How perfectly cool is Black Panther? I mean, how perfectly cool is he?
  • How utterly adorable is Spidey? I've never been a Spiderman fan. I've seen only one of the gazillion Spidey movies that seem to have come out over the past decade or so, and was bored. But this Spidey - I think I will end up watching his return.
  • I mean, the minute they showed Bucky and that car, we knew who was in it, right?
  • MARTIN FREEMAN! How did I not know Martin Freeman was in this movie?
  • Is it a Marvel rule that when you introduce a new female character into a movie, she must have just a couple of random scenes that could be played by anyone, and then have it grow in the next movie? Natasha Romanoff seemed to feel that way in Iron Man 2 before the rest of the movies, and then Sharon Carter felt that way in Winter Soldier, but progressed to maybe five meaningful scenes in Civil War.
  • Is that why Marisa Tomei played Aunt May? Because she'll have a bigger role when Spidey returns? Because otherwise I cannot comprehend why Marisa Tomei played Aunt May.
  • Speaking of Sharon Carter, that kiss was totally forced, right? And we're sick of couples taking a moment to FINALLY realize they want to kiss just as they have to head off to battles and time is of the essence, right? But Sam and Bucky were totes adorbs in that scene, right?
  • Also, speaking of Sharon Carter, Peggy Carter! :( BRING THAT SHOW BACK FOR SEASON 3.
  • Chatty superheroes are the best superheroes. Give me wise-cracking Ant-Man and Spidey to watch all day long.
  • Vision is very... blah.
  • Did anyone else think the big cave like place they went to in Russia looked a lot like the prison in Guardians of the Galaxy?
  • This was a long movie. And had too many people. Lots of fun, and I loved all the people, but there were moments when yet another dude popped back up on screen and I'd think, oh yeah, we needed to get back to him too.
  • Can we go back to Martin Freeman and ask why he was there? I'm assuming he's going to pop back in for subsequent movies? This needs to be read up on.
  • And now for my favorite thing about the movie. I tend to whine, very often, that a lot of movies will introduce kick ass women, only to have them end up getting rescued due to some scenario or the other when it's crunch time. And so, I found it completely entertaining that during the main fight scene between all the superheroes, it was Wanda who kept roaming around and saving the various dudes. Although if someone can explain how she seemingly changed outfits from the scene in the garage to when the fight started, I'd be grateful.
This was such a fun movie.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

On weekends

I tend to whine that I end up having overly social weekends because I'm terrible at saying no to people. And I always tell myself I need to get better at saying no.

Turns out, if I'm asked to give up my Sunday to watch an SRK movie, I'm perfectly capable of saying no. No matter how great the reviews may have been.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

"You have smartphone, no?"

I was at the doctor's office a few weeks ago, sitting in the waiting area, and watching in fascination whatever home improvement related reality show they had on that day.

The gentleman next to me, who was at least 60, if not older, suddenly turned to me and said, "you're not very good at this waiting thing, are you? Don't you know you're supposed to be on your phone?"

I went for an Indian play this past weekend. The gentleman next to me, not that much older perhaps, but least a decade older than me, struck up a conversation with the opening words, so did you grow up around here? No? What visa are you on?

And having established that I was in fact on a visa, he told me all about the immigration reform advocacy group he is a part of. "You have smartphone, no? Open Facebook - I will tell you what to type and you can find our page."

I always rue the fact that too many of my relatives from the older generation know a little too much technology for my liking - not enough to be completely self-sufficient, but just enough to be dangerous. But what is with random strangers telling me how to use technology, yaar?

Thursday, April 07, 2016

On making wishes

Once upon a time, I was told that if you're passing under a bridge while a train is going over it, you could make a wish and it would come true. So on my way to college, when I would pass through Chanakyapuri and go through this underpass that occasionally had trains going over it, I would make a wish.

A decade later, I can't remember if any of those wishes actually ever came true. But what is there in trying?

I now live and work near an airport. And sometimes, I pass through the airport on my evening commutes (well, the service road of the airport - I'm too stingy to pay $2 every time I want to take a faster route). When you take this route, it also means you're driving under the runways of the airport, and every so often, driving under them while a Boeing 737 is taxiing on the runway.

So when I'm not wondering what would happen if the runway just collapsed with me under it and the airplane over it, I make a quick wish. Because why should planes not be given the same wish-granting opportunities as trains?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

March musings

The parents left to go back home yesterday, after visiting me for a month.

That first evening alone, walking into an empty apartment, always feels the weirdest. And the hardest, even though you've spent a month rolling your eyes, complaining you can't find anything in your kitchen, and generally wanting just 30 seconds of me-time.

I'm never going to be able to live with anyone again, ever.


Does it feel, after a point, that your parents kind of turn into your kids?

I mean, don't get me wrong, I was pampered for a month, being woken up with a cup of tea every morning, having oil applied to my hair, etc. But when you find yourself exasperatedly glancing back while driving home in the evening, and hear yourself saying "don't eat any more chips, you won't be able to have dinner otherwise!" it kind of makes you wonder when the tables turned.


Just once I would like to be able to complain out loud that the mother is turning into the grandmother without the father or brother promptly pointing out, very helpfully, that I am turning into the mother.


A couple of years ago, I wrote about, among other things, how I love flying, and love looking out of the window of an airplane. A month ago, I sent the father a link to an article I came across linking a certain medicine given to patients of epilepsy with birth defects when those patients become parents.

I sent the article to the father because I had epilepsy, as a child. And was on medication from the age of 8 to the age of 13. And while my medication was changed several times over the years, I faintly remembered being on the aforementioned medicine for some time at least.

I received a note from the father after I sent him this article, which said, among other things, the following:
I was in an airport. Hong Kong. Returning from a PRC trip - my first. And I got the news that the doc has finally stopped the medication. Glad I had a window seat. And always love flying out of that airport..... One of those positive memories... there are some things always, to be thankful for....

I was going through old posts, trying to find the one where I talked about my love of window seats, and found an older post, from four years ago. Where talk about the things I don't like about flying.

And given my current life, and the fact that I travel by myself every other weekend these days, I find that post so very ironic on so many levels.

Oh, if we knew then what we know now...

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Thoughts on Neerja, and a gazillion other things

I've liked Sonam Kapoor since her first appearance on Koffee with Karan; that episode, incidentally, is also when I started warming up to Deepika Padukone. I've continued liking what Sonam Kapoor has been up to in the years since. Don't get me wrong - I don't think she can act. I was horrified when I heard she might be playing the lead role in the movie adaptation of one of Anuja Chauhan's books, although on further thinking about, she'll probably do justice to the sheer silliness Chauhan's heroines tend to display.

But I like her because, among other things, she refuses to let her inability to act well limit her options. She continues to do the kind of movies I want to go and see. It's a different matter that I don't see most of them, because I'm very lame when it comes to movie watching, but that's not the point. She does movies that, on the whole, have female characters and story lines I feel I can approve of. Most of the time. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo notwithstanding.

I read an article a year or so ago comparing her with Sonakshi Sinha. The latter did Lootera early in her career, and was lauded for her acting ability, but seems to be quite content being the eye candy in Akshay Kumar or Ajay Devgan movies ever since. And then there's Sonam, who insists on playing characters with agency, even if she can't play them that well. And even if she has to produce them herself to get them made.

What's not to admire about that?


Which brings me to her latest movie - Neerja. As is happening with most Hindi movies and me these days, I had no clue this movie had released, what it was about, or who was in it, till a friend asked if I wanted to go. I couldn't, that day, but I looked up the music, and fell in love with two songs. Then I looked up reviews, and decided I wanted to see it, even though I usually avoid movies with dismal endings or really anything requiring thought.

But I wound up going to see it anyway. And sat on the edge of my seat throughout. For someone who usually covers her eyes at the slightest scary or gory scene (yes, shoo), I don't think I blinked even once while watching the movie. And of course, towards the end, when Neerja's mother places the birthday gift, I started crying and didn't stop till the end credits started rolling.

The movie was extraordinarily well made, and Sonam Kapoor was surprisingly good in it. As were every other actor and actress in the movie.

On a more personal note, the movie was also utterly terrifying for someone who travels as much as I do, and for the reasons I do. And I'm not at all surprised the mother didn't like the movie - her imagination must be going crazy ever since she saw it.

It also struck me as interesting that having watched the movie in Amreeka, I got subtitles. So when the hijackers spoke among themselves in Arabic (at least, I assume it was Arabic, since they were supposed to be Palestinian?), I knew what they were saying. Folks I've spoken to who watched the movie back in India did not get subtitles, and so had no clue what those conversations were about.


Since I mentioned Deepika Padukone, I have to say, her movie choices are no less approval worthy - at least the ones I've watched. I've watched Piku and Finding Fanny in the past year or two, and not only were those movies excellent, but she was excellent in them.

Also in both movies she says "mad or what?!" exactly how I say it and it makes me very sad I can't find a gif of her saying this phrase.

The day we went to watch Piku, my friends and I had an intense discussion just before the movie on why she was playing a Bengali woman, and not an actual Bengali woman. (I will point out I did not have a problem with this; my non-Bengali friends were the ones questioning this.) And it struck us that the current generation of actresses in Bollywood has no Bengali women left. I mean, yes, Rani Mukherjee and Konona Sen Sharma are kinda still around, but you know what I mean.

This makes me a bit sad.

I will however say Deepika Padukone made an excellent Bengali woman.


This post was supposed to be about just Neerja, but as usual, it got me thinking about other things.

Who are the other actresses in Bollywood doing relatively sensible movies? Kangana Ranaut, obvs. Anushka Sharma and Parineeti Chopra to a large extent I think. Alia Bhatt manages to do fairly decent roles too, and is a really good actress. Huma Qureshi, I think, is a name I keep hearing, but I haven't seen enough of her movies. Is that it? Priyanka Chopra seems to have been appearing in fewer movies, and in any case is being lauded by NRIs on Whatsapp for Quantico.

I feel like I don't even know who else are in the current crop of actresses in Bollywood. When did this happen to me?


When I say characters with agency, I don't necessarily mean serious movies, y'know. One of Sonam's other movies that I quite enjoyed was Khoobsurat. Not as much as the original Khoobsurat, because obviously no one compares to Hrishikesh Mukherjee, but enjoyable nonetheless. But how unabashedly unapologetic was Sonam's character in the movie? Right till the end. I totes approve.


Switching gears just a little, if the Marvel Cinematic Universe could just get it into its head that we don't need to constantly see a story arc where a woman finds out she can never have babies, I would be totally approving of Agent Carter's second season.  Because it gave me the almost all the things I've been wanting from a show - it had kickass women, it had men who didn't have a problem with kickass women, it even had one man who starts out being a chauvinistic idiot, and then grows as a character. It had women being friends, and it had one of the most beautiful platonic friendships between a man and a woman I can remember seeing portrayed. Also it helps that the pair I was shipping seems to have ended up together. Bring it back for a third season, I say to TPTB.


This post has been in the works for a week or so, so it really wasn't planned as a Women's Day thing - especially since the construct of Women's Day does nothing more than infuriate me these days, because all it does is remind me how things just don't change. So the timing of this post finally being ready is purely coincidental. But as I glanced through other posts in the labels applied to this one, apparently I have been prone to writing in a similar vein around this time of year. What is there.

Monday, February 29, 2016

On Fuller House

I used to be a huge Full House fan when the show ran on Zee in the 90s, so when they announced a revival last I was tremendously excited. The new season dropped on Netflix, so obviously I've spent the weekend watching all of it. And I have thoughts. Tiny little thoughts, which needed venting.

*insert mandatory spoiler alert here, for those who haven't watched it yet, and plan to*

  • The show is bad. There is no other way to say it. I really, really wanted to like it, and it's not terrible. It's just... not great.
  • It's like they had ideas for a number of scenes, and wanted to insert them in somehow, and wrote scripts that made sure these scenes were inserted in somehow. But the thread running through a lot of those scenes don't always make sense. 
  • I was not a fan of the acting. The kids were cute, and the former kids were stilted (except Kimmy Gibbler who was pretty amazing, as always), and the former grown ups who flitted in and out were trying too hard.
  • I don't know how much of the show would click with people who didn't watch the original show. There were so many inside jokes, not just about the characters in the past, but also about the cast, that I had to keep looking up to check if they were talking about what I thought they were talking about.
  • I am so sick of the trope where a woman who is single and living the good life has to find out she can't have children. 
  • I kinda saw DJ's choice in the finale coming a mile away. 
  • Having said that, #teamsteve, always.
For nostalgia's sake, if they come out with subsequent seasons, I will probably continue to watch this show. But maybe, just maybe, they shouldn't?

And this makes me very, very nervous about the Gilmore Girls revival.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

On sports I know nothing about, and employee morale

I'm the first to admit I know nothing about any sport that is not cricket - and there too, interest has dwindled over time. If it wasn't for Google Now's helpful alerts that we're losing another match to Australia or Sri Lanka, I wouldn't even know we're playing any more.

So usually, when I see any headlines or tweets that appear to be related to sports, I ignore them, apart from the occasional wondering which sport they're talking about. But there's one type of sports-related headline/tweet that tends to make me think a little more.

I saw a tweet just now that some team is open to trading one or more of its players - and I think the players were named, but I'm not sure. I also think the sport in question was basketball, but again, I'm not sure. Let's just say there a lot of words that I did not recognize in that tweet.

AnyWAY. The thing I always wonder is, what do announcements like this do for player morale? To have the world know the team you play for is willing to let you go so that it can find someone who might do better than you? I mean, I'm sure very often the players are willing to be traded as well, and I'm sure there's plenty of money involved to make them happy-ish about the trade, but... still. Doesn't it create some kind of awkwardness and/or tension among players?

Can you imagine this happening in any other type of job? To come into work and see a company-wide or department-wide email from your manager saying they're perfectly happy to be rid of you if another manager offers them someone better from their team in exchange? (This may or may not be something I have occasional nightmares about.) As someone who worked in HR in a previous lifetime, I'm not sure I would recommend this.

It just... makes me wonder. Y'know?

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Of a slightly haphazard timeline

I pulled out a pair of trousers to wear to work this morning, and couldn't, because it's two sizes too big for me, and I don't have the right kind of belt to wear with it.

Two weeks ago, I wore a pair of green trousers I had bought on a whim three years ago, and not worn in two years, because it now fits.

Two weeks before that, I checked my weight in the morning, and saw that for the first time in more than almost three years, my weight was finally - finally - in the normal BMI range.

Over the past six months, I've lost more than twenty pounds - or ten kgs. I'm still at the edge of what would be a normal BMI range for me though, especially since I'm a short, short person. I have to lose another ten pounds, or just under 5 kgs, to be what is the ideal weight for me.

I wish I could tell you this is a story of great determination that they can make an Oscar-winning movie about. It's really not.

For years, the family's been trying to nudge me towards a more healthy lifestyle - be it in terms of what I eat, how active I am, or anything. I resisted all efforts, because pooh, your family will always think you're fat, especially since they're the kind of people who never put on weight no matter how much they eat, and think anyone who weighs more than them (which is 75% of the world) is overweight. And since most of my friends are the super supportive kind of people who always tell me I'm fine, obviously I chose to believe the folks who were saying what I wanted to hear.

Didn't really matter what my weighing scales, my clothes, or blood tests were saying.

A year ago, when the brother announced (formally) he was getting married, I vaguely promised myself I'd lose weight by the wedding. Ten months ago, when the wedding timeline moved up by a year or so, I thought of the promise and told myself I should do something about it. Seven months ago, when I went home and bought most of my outfits for the wedding in two days, I told our utterly unreliable darzi that he'd hopefully have to alter everything in two days when I came back for the wedding.

So when I came back to the US, I talked to a couple of friends, and we kinda sorta got going on getting me to lose weight. I started going for walks at lunch a couple of times a week. I didn't really change anything else in my life, but told myself this was a good first step.

Then, six months ago, I finally found a doctor to go to in the area, and get a routine checkup done. She asked me to get blood tests done, and when the results came back, I was told have diabetes. Borderline, but there it is.

The family reacted in fairly predictable ways: the father started looking up links and sending them to me as reading material, the mother wanted to know what she could do, and started forwarding whatsapp forwards on how to deal with diabetes that I would delete without reading (anything that comes via Whatsapp and is longer than my screen, I'm not reading), and the brother said, and I quote, "Oh? Well, maybe this will make you take your health more seriously." I could feel the love, you guys.

And it kinda, sorta did. A friend and I joined the gym at work. And when I say we joined a gym, I mean we'd go twice a week, I'd put on a show on Hulu on my tablet, and I'd walk on the treadmill for the 45 minutes it would take me to watch the show.

So between the walking at lunch, the walking on the treadmill, and the medication I was put on, I began to lose weight. A lot of it. And even when all this walking pretty much came to a stop three months ago because things got a little crazy all round, I still continued to lose something like half a pound a week because that medicine I'm on is a magical medicine.

As a result, when I showed up for the wedding six weeks ago, I was looking pretty awesome. And I did have to run around getting half my outfits altered. So I suppose you could say that I kept my promise to lose weight by the wedding.

Since coming back, I haven't gone for any walks, and I've been to the gym twice. My diet never really changed, and it continues to be the same. But I've still lost another two pounds, although it seems to be holding steady there. So if I want to lose those last ten pounds, effort will be required. And the diet definitely needs to be brought under control (Sidebar: Parents, I am eating fine, I just need to start measuring, don't start commenting or whatsapping me as soon as you read this. Shuye poro. End sidebar.).

I'm to see my doctor again next month, and get a blood test done too, so we'll see where we actually are healthwise. And weightwise, well, I guess I'll see where we are there as well.

(I just re-read this entire post, and this is the worst constructed timeline possible. Uff.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

To be fair - or not

One of the many, many pieces of drama that made my brother's wedding last month SO MUCH FUN was the fact that the airline I flew home on forgot to put my suitcase on the plane. Which meant my outfit for the sangeet and a large chunk of my makeup was not in the same continent as me for a good 48 hours after I landed.

Which was fine, because I never panic over such things, and I did have a week to scream at the airline before the day of the sangeet. What I needed urgently, however, was makeup. Because even though the sangeet was almost a week away, I had another friend getting married the day after I landed, and a gazillion mini-events that every Indian wedding seems to require.

Now the thing with makeup is that I started using a lot of it only last year.

I tried foundation years ago, when I was much younger. But a, I'm terrible with liquid foundation because I end up spilling it all over, and b, I always felt like a clown whenever I tried putting it, so I stopped very soon. For years, my only make up was eyeliner, mayyybe blush on the rare occasion I was feeling brave, and on even rarer occasions, some lipstick.

Then last year, a friend introduced me to Maybelline's roll on version of foundation, which was relatively easy to apply, and their darkest shade didn't make me feel like such a clown. So I started using this, and felt very proud of myself.

So when I found myself without makeup in India, I headed NewU to see if they had anything similar. And this brings us to why I am writing this post*.

So the roll on type of foundations don't seem to have reached India yet, so I thought, fine, I will be brave and try regular liquid foundation, and hope none of the clothes I do have with me get ruined. But then, when I asked for their darkest shade, I discovered Maybelline has exactly three shades available in India, the darkest of which won't work for me or, to be quite honest, half the women I know in India. And this was true of every brand I asked to see. And when I came close to losing it and asking how they expect me to use these shades because, hello, look at me, a very helpful sales assistant had the bright idea of offering me - wait for it - fairness serum by Garnier. Apparently if you apply fairness serum before a lighter shade of foundation, it works just fine.

To which I said:

Seriously? Seriously? Introduce three ridiculous shades in a market, which won't work for half the women in said market, and then promote "fairness freakin' serum"?!

How have the people outraging over the continuing existence of Fair & Lovely and similar products not started outraging about this yet?!

Screw you, make up companies.

* Oh, like we all didn’t know it takes me ages to get to the point. My thoughts meander, people.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The year that was: 2015

2015 was an... interesting year. That's the only word I can think of to describe it.

But to start with, y'know the thing(s) I wasn't allowed to talk about last year? Well, it was pretty much the dominating thing this year, and will get referenced several times in this post, so let's get it out of the way - MY BABY BROTHER GOT MARRIED.

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
Among several other things... Get a speeding ticket. Watch India play a World Cup match. Oh, and watch my baby brother get married.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I had some intentions, and listed them out on the sicrit blog that only three people have access to. I did a progress check in July, and was at 50% or so. I think it may have gone up to 55% by the end of the year.
For 2016, there are more intentions, yes. Why intentions, you ask? Because of the very wisdomous Jennifer Crusie, who said on her blog:
Another year’s end, another year beginning, another refusal to make resolutions because I can’t plan for the weekend, let alone a whole year. Instead, I have intentions. I intend to do this stuff. If I don’t do it, hey, I changed my mind.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No, but ask me in another month, and that answer will have changed.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
We hadn't stayed as close as I would have liked, but two days before my brother's wedding, I found out someone I went to grad school with had succumbed to her battle with breast cancer.

5. What places did you visit?
SJD. SYD/MEL. RAP. RIC/PHF. SFO. DEL. ABQ/SAF. BNA. MIA. LHR. RDU. LAX. FSD. NYC. DEL again. At least four of those trips were for work, but still, not bad, wot?

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
Gumption. Patience.

7. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
February 22. December 25.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Paid off my student loan. Lost 20 pounds.

9. What was your biggest failure?
My lack of patience.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Kinda, sorta. More on this later.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Years ago, I promised myself I would buy this one really extravagant thing once I paid off my student loan. That. Also, after years of dithering, I finally gifted myself a tablet for my birthday. That, too.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I really don't know how to answer this.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and/or depressed?
Oh, where to start...

14. Where did most of your money go?
The aforementioned student loan, the aforementioned extravagant thing, the aforementioned tablet, and a gazillion things I could tell you were bought for the wedding, but probably would have been bought anyway.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The World Cup trip. The brother's wedding.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
Galla goodiyan.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
A bit of both.

18. Thinner or fatter?

19. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Read books that are not by Nora Roberts. Watched TV shows that are not The West Wing.

20. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Watched TV, overall.

21. How will you be spending Christmas?
Watched the brother get married :)

22. Did you fall in love in 2015?

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
I loved Catastrophe.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Er, hmmm.

26. What was the best book you read?
I really didn't read enough to answer this. It was a bad year of reading, even by my standards.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I rediscovered Indian Ocean. Also, the soundtrack for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has been on loop in my car for several months now.

28. What did you want and get?
Paying off the student loan.

29. What did you want and not get?
Figuring out where I want to live in the long term.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
See, this is why I need a site that I can use to track movies I've watched. I use Goodreads for books, and Sidereel for TV shows, but I have no way of keeping track of the movies I watch, and so I just forget.
I think we'll go with Piku for now. It's the one movie I remember loving, at any rate. Ant-Man was a lot more fun than I expected it to be, too.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 30, my friend organized dinner, and I got drunk. And since I planned to get drunk, and I very, very rarely let myself get drunk, I think we can declare it a fairly successful evening.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Still hoping for that ability to apparate or use a portkey, y'all...

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
I got pretty good with make up. And I discovered leggings, which are the best thing ever.

34. What kept you sane?
I'm not sure anything was able to...

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I may or may not have developed a bit of a crush on the new Canadian Prime Minister...

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Oh, you do not want to get me started on this. I still hate the BJP with the very core of my being, and the Republican candidates for the 2016 election is driving me crazy.

37. Who did you miss?
All my loved ones.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
People I met before 2015 became a lot dearer in 2015. Does that count?

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
I really need to work on my facial expressions being... well, less expressive.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I'm tempted to go with the same song as last year, but that's forcing it a bit, so I'm going to say none that comes to mind for now.