Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Days 13, 14, and 15 of 14,600

I am going to write a quick post here because I am in the middle of work and I have to get started on something. I had lots of ideas that I wanted to write about. I will pick one for now.

I have been freelancing for a while now. And sometimes, I work with experienced freelancers. Some of these people I have worked with in the past. In fact, some were my seniors. They trained me. And now, when I see their work, I can't imagine that I ever thought they were stellar. The work is stodgy, jaded, routine, with no application of anything fresh. It is very disappointing and disturbing. But it has led me to consider my own work.

Now, I don't know. To me, in the field that I work in, a person is good is you cannot guess what his or her last two or three projects or assignments were. But when I see the work of a few of my friends or really experienced people, you can totally tell what their last few assignments were - what kind of domain they had worked in. The styles are the same. You can predict where the gaps will be, etc.

I think about how this is such a bullet to dodge - to have a signature, yet not feel stale or stereotypical. Sometimes, I notice that creeping into my work too. Of course, as an outsider, it is always easier to detect that in other people.

Of course, experience is very valuable. But it helps if you can use the experience to do the routine things quickly and free up your mind and heart to think of something new, something fresh, something else, and hopefully something better.

I wonder how I can avoid this pitfall. So far, I have some thoughts that I will write about.

Five things I have enjoyed:
1. The rice and veggie strips bowl at KFC. They have improved radically!
2. I jog in the complex close to midnight. There is one spot where the air is very, very fragrant. I can't spot any flowers around. But the scent is heavy. Intrigue!
3. There is a poha dish that my friend taught me - you mix it with curd, little milk, very little salt, chilli powder if you fancy, and a peanut-chilli-coconut powder (or pudi - as it is called here.) No need to cook it. Very tasty and a very quick snack.
4. There is a fruit beer (some malt) in Pizza Hut. Quite nice - not too sweet and refreshing. It gets really dry here and the throat actually gets parched. That's a good, fresh drink to have, even if it is aerated.
5. Shark Tank. I. love. it

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Days 11 and 12 of 14,600

So we have already entered double-digits. Double digits are easy to enter into and longer to stay at.

Yesterday was a good day - in as much all days are good.

I had been wanting to go to a Japanese store called Usupso. I love stationery and then, I love Japanese stationery! I love it! In Bombay and Delhi, I usually shopped at Muji - I love that place. I really like the creamy paper and the wood-brown palate they have. They are expensive, though.

I had also adored the Hobonichi stationery when I had seen them at an airport somewhere but I can't order it online. Yesterday, a pal told me to check it out on Ali Baba, which I will.

So we went to Usupso yesterday. It's in Jayanagar and that is SUCH  a pretty place. You can walk and there are these huge tall trees. The trees in this city are something else.

We ate in a place called Nandini. We had a vegetarian thali and it was so yummy! The hot rice, ghee and rasam - awesome it was. Eating rice after the Navratri fast was heaven! Also, what I loved about the place was that I saw a bunch of guys eating rice and sambhar with their hands and also chugging beer out of those beer glasses. It felt so homely. I love a place like that - where you really can eat the way you do at home.

Took a bunch of photos and they are up on my Instagram page.

Anyway, life is good. Some parts are not yet figured out but that's okay.

On that note, trust everyone had a beautiful Dassera.

Over the years, different aspects of Dassera have appealed to me. But today, it's this: The asura attacked. He gets killed. Durga kills the asura. And on the ninth day, she is gone too. There is comfort to be derived from that.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Days 9 and 10 of 14,600

It has been raining for a few days now. It's cold. Last night I was late at the co-working space. There was no cab or auto available for a good forty minutes. But I waited and came home finally. I felt good with the work I finished yesterday.

Today I slept for the most part but my mother had sent over two items of clothing. There's a thin, right red top from Chumbak. It has very pretty, colorful and embroidered cuffs. The other piece is a lovely military green jacket with a hood and a waist tie-up detail. Again, the cuffs are interesting - black and white stripes.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend and she said that she would not hesitate to date a married man because she owes nothing to the man's wife or the marriage itself. The man has taken the vow and it is his responsibility to honour it. I somehow don't agree. I would not go out with a married man and I also think that if a partner has started looking out, that marriage is very vulnerable. It may be saved if it did not have the weight and the complexity of a whole, big thing of a third person being involved. Sure, I am not married to the guy or that woman. But surely, I become complicit if something goes wrong?

I have a lot of friends, it turns out, who are okay with dating married men. This had somehow never occurred to me before. But I suppose it is what it is. The same values that may be difficult to take in a partner are perfectly okay to accept in a friend. Is that, maybe, a certain kind of hypocrisy? Maybe.

Anyway, I have only this much to write today. Have to start working now.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Day 8 of 14,600

I just finished writing a storyboard and am quite pleased with it. I also just signed up for a seat in a co-working space. That was good.

Today is Shoshti and there is a lovely Durga Ma idol in the building complex.

I have doodled a few things and they are up on my Instagram account.

This girl at the co-working space - one of the admin people - was wearing a really nice top. It was a kind of a jersey material. Bluish-gunmetal shade with lace epaulettes. Very distinctive.

I didn't get a lot of clothes when I came to Bangalore and although I am pretty much sorted, I still wanted a pair of denims. I ordered for a Newport pair from Flipkart. Just wearing it now. It's okay. Nothing fantastic but I suppose it can be styled to look better.

Am having coffee now. Tasty coffee.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Day 5 of 14,600 days

I am working out of a collaborative working space now. Well, working is a funky term for what I'm doing here. But here I am in any case. I have a call at 8:30 p.m. and where I stay is a little busy with a lot of people in the house. It's fun, on the whole but working steadfastly becomes a little difficult. Actually, I had to work on one other assignment before my call but I don't really feel like working. I feel like typing. I came late today for this free trial at the co-working space so I don't think I can come and work here over the weekend. That is a bummer because I really needed to work over the weekend. Never mind, if that doesn't happen, I will probably go to a cafe near my house.

Today I made a spicy curry-soup with sprouts, corn, soya nuggets and potatoes and another basic jeera aalu. My friend is a very good cook as are the other people who stay at home. But they work etc. so they usually eat out. Last week or so, I have been making something or the other at home - using millet and potatoes mostly, no onion or garlic - the general stuff that I make when I am by myself. So it was a little surprising that my friend's daughter likes my food. Actually, I think, in the whole world only my father thinks I am a good cook - mainly because I cook very, very simply. So, the fact that I got someone else to like the food is also nice. I do think I have improved.

Anyway. That is that. It is almost time for my work call so I will go now.

Day 4 of 14,600 days

I will make this quick.

1. Worked through the night yesterday and slept at around 5 a..m.

2. Got good feedback on my work.

3. Went with my friend to Meenakshi mall. I had fries and Pepsi at Tacobell.

4. Talked with Ma. She seemed happy. Always good.

5. As part of the fast, there is this thing that I found (I used to eat that in Pune) - Barnyard millet. It's called Samak rice or variyaacha tendul in Marathi (I hope I am pronouncing it correctly). Actually, I find it very tasty. I eat it even when I am not fasting. You soak it in water for 10 minutes. Then you wash it really well. You take ghee and add the general tadka of jeera and chillies. If you eat onions, then you can add that as well. Today I also added soya chunks, salt, mirchi powder, haldi and boiled potatoes. Tossed it about. Added some more water and pressure cooked it on high flame for  whistles.

6. When I used to eat this on non-fast days, I would add capsicum, spring onions, regular onions, beans and some soya sauce and make a Chinese version out of this. It was really tasty. A low-fat alternative to rice, if you're looking and it's gluten-free. Of course, I belong to the school of thought that believes that rice is not fattening. In fact, a steady staple of rice, daal and ghee is necessary for weight loss. It has happened with me - long before I came to know that Rujuta Dwivekar had said the same thing in her book.

7. Weather was good.

8. Checked out this store in Meenakshi mall- Sapna. It's a LARGE, LARGE , LARGE stationery and book store. Shweta Nanda's book is out and I want to read it. Paradise Towers.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Day 3 of 14,600

Karavaan is an excellent film. I loved it! Dulquer Salmaan is so very good!

There is a scene where Irrfan Khan (is that how his name is spelt? Too lazy to google) is watching a bunch of people smoke, drink and splash around in the pool. He's a conservative guy and he's overall very disappointed with humanity as he sees them do things that he would never do. He's talking to a musician (for the wedding) and he asks (loosely translated), "I don't know what sadness these people are experiencing that they need so much to feel a little joy!" The way he says it is gold!

Sometimes I feel the same way when I see people so enthusiastic about going to new places, travelling, etc. What do they so desperately want to escape from? I don't know. Maybe same reason why I want to go and live in different cities - almost like starting from scratch but with no real guarantee of a return. Maybe that's why I never really fancied travel so much. It feels like a cop out. You want to get away - go and live there. Scout for a house. Argue with the rick guys. Haggle with the local help. And do it so that you can be part of them. Not coast around, have pina coladas and come back.

I guess travel for me is like skirting around commitment to living. Actually, in a way, any form of distraction where you are not fully in the present moment (for me it's Netflix, coffee, or general roaming around streets) is not being committed to living. LIVING. (in capital letters.)

Hmm. Wow! That is quite judgmental.

Moving on to something that is not judgmental - a new dish that my friend prepared for me.

For Navaratri, I am on this fast where I do not eat grains. There is this thing that my friend made called cauliflower rice. She grated the cauliflower so that they were really tiny (the usual consequence of grating, I suppose - I was thrilled to see it, though) and then soaked them in salted water. Then she rinsed them. Heated some ghee in a pan and sauteed them with salt, pepper, and then garnished with curry leaves. I loved it. Now, I am not really a purist so I don't even know if cauliflowers are allowed. But it's a very super dish and if you're looking for an alternative to rice, this is great. If you are really particular about the calorific aspect of it, then you can skip the sautee in ghee or butter and simply steam it and eat. Of course, if you don't like the smell of cauliflower, it's an issue. I happen to love it.

Some very interesting dishes are being cooked here. Will write about them some other day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Day 2 of 14,600 days

On the 8th of August, there was an Amavasya puja at the Kali temple in Electronic City. It is actually quite close to where I stay but the roads are tough and it gets dark and deserted fairly quickly. The first time I had gone there, it was around 6 p.m. But there is a stretch in the road that feels like outer space. The land gets barren and dusty with red earth. There is construction going on in places but I never really saw anyone in the building. It felt like this empty futuristic world where buildings are just making themselves. 

But then you come across this thicket and tangle of large bushes, large trees and small dirt roads. The temple is inside one of these lanes but it's hard to tell which one. 

The temple itself is in a pink building that looks like the pink of a mithai-box. There's warli painting as you enter and there's a cool, narrow corridor. Then there are these small alcoves inside which you have different deities. Kali herself is very fierce-looking. The face is different from what I have seen in Ram Krishna Mission - where her face is rounded and almost smiling with her tongue stuck out. Here, her face is more gaunt and her eyes more strict.  I don't remember very clearly but I think she is very similar to the Kali I had seen in a temple in Cuttack.

I love Kali temples because not many people go there. You can sit and even read a book there in peace. You aren't rushed or asked to explain herself. The priest, however, was surprised to see me the first time I'd gone there. He told me about the pooja on the 8th.

It was really late when I started from home - nearly 9:30. I haven't really gone out of Electronic City that late at night. I go running at 11 p.m. but I go inside the complex where I stay. Or I go to a cafe or the grocery store nearby. So, heading out that late made me a little nervous. Also, it had rained a lot that day There were huge potholes filled with water, roads were almost broken, and as I neared the temple, the paths were really muddy. The cabby asked me if he could stop outside on the main-ish road (there is no main road close to the temple). I got out and it was cold, marshy, and this sounds strange but the darkness was sort of blazing. I can't explain - it was not the kind of darkness that you can't see in. It was the darkness that could blind you. I could hear frogs, night insects, and the low growl of an angry dog nearby. There was a strong wind. The building of the temple seemed dark. It seemed to be closed. The cabbie was so sweet - he offered to wait in the lane with his headlights on so I could go up to the building and check. 

I went to the gate and a man peered out. He told me that I had come to the wrong building - the temple was in the next lane. (I had made the same mistake the first time I'd come. GPS is pretty faulty in that neighbourhood, I feel.) The idea of trudging up and down the lane with the marshy ground and leaping frogs and growling dogs seemed a bit too much. But the cabbie was really nice and he dropped me to the next building.

And the next building seemed to have erupted wih colours, music, people, food and light. It was a beautiful puja - quite different from what I've seen in Bombay. There was the priest and his son. There were lots of days it and there was this huge brass plate with a hundred black wicks. Lots of hibiscus and rose garlands for Kali and lots of roses and rajnigandha for Durga and lots of marigold and leaves for the Shiva. There were quite a few kids running around and beating the drums. It was so hard to imagine that this place was so noisy but you wouldn't know it all from even a lae away - until you came real close to the temple. 

I think you really need to enter the darkness fully to get a sense of the joy that it holds.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

DAY 1 OF 14,600 DAYS

I am writing am writing a blog post after really long. I remember that when I was in Pune last, I had started a countdown indicating how many days I had to stay there before I moved out of there. I left Pune before the countdown ended.

Since then, I have stayed in Noida and worked in Noida and moved back to Bombay and am having a tiny stay in Bangalore. I don't quite know how many days I will be here but I sense that something interesting is right around the bend.

I think that I may reasonably be living for 14,600 days more. I have no way of being sure and I have no way to say that I am wrong.

So...here it is. I begin again.


Friday, June 01, 2018


Here is what I want to do. Finish everything, wrap everything up, and disappear.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

One more day

For a very irrational reason, I was angry on my mum for getting cancer and for not getting better. She is not healing. It is very worrisome. I can't do anything to take her pain away and people I am working with are getting way too demanding. I want to breathe slowly and steadily and take each moment as it comes.

I was so angry that I started writing in my diary. I was doing it after really very very long. I was supposed to complete this diary by the end of last year and burn it. But I didn't. I still have lots of pages to write in. Is that how abysmal my life is? That I cannot even fill out a day at a time?

Well, it had started feeling abysmal but I wrote so hard that the scratches on the paper ripped the pages a little. The pressure of my hand imprinted the words on pages some two or three pages below the page I was writing on. My fury burned. I know it sounds dramatic now as I write it. But it really was fury. It burned me up.

Now I am a little calmer. I am a little soothed down.

Tomorrow, my beautiful people, it will be good.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

First Impressions: Split by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan

It's close to midnight now. The sun has set and it's a relief. I've had two heavy meals in the day and can feel the bloat turn into something more dense around m midriff. That's nota good thing. Since I like to sip on something when I'm writing, I've opened a bottle of RAW's Aloe Vera lemonade. I had expected it to taste synthetic. But it's actually good. The agave, ginger, and rock salt make it refreshing.

What does any of this have to do with the review of the book? Nothing much. And that is my observation of the book itself. It's well-written but a lot of what is well-written, I think, wasn't necessary.

Anyway, on with my take.

Noor Khan Rai is a 16-17 year old girl whose mum, a Muslim, left her and har father to be with a childhood lover. At school, Noor is part of a chic circle of girls - called the 'Group'. A routine day involved school, hanging out with the girls, coming home and doing homework, a scheduled conference call with the girls, chat with her parents, music, and going off to bed.

This was the routine until her mother left. One day, Noor comes home to find that her grandmother, dad's mother, has moved in to take care of her. The grandmother is critical of Noor's mum and Muslims in general.

Noor is sad, adrift, and not everything is good with the Group. The head of the group, a tall, beautiful, glowing girl called Armaana is getting nastier and bitchier by the day. One of Noor's closest girl-friends, Natasha, is beginning to act distant. Noor now needs to attend a group counselling session after school  for kids of families that have been broken. This session is first called TOD (I forgot the acronym now) and is later called 'Split'.

There are some really moving parts in the story - when Noor gets a letter from her mother, when she sees past the nasty exterior of one of the girls to see how her family may have broken her spirit, the communion she has with her friends. The parts that shine are Noor's engagement with her life and her navigation of he friendships. Where the narrative feels brittle is when the men come in - especially Ishaan, her love interest.

She's a Delhi girl and he's a Bombay boy and let thoughts of cliches not cross your mind. But they do - the Natual ice-cream parlour, the yearning for the sea, etc. etc. That is where I felt a lot of stuff was unnecessary. I wish the story had delved a little more in the psyche of the mother-daughter relationship. What did each one think?

At times, Noor wonders if there were signs that her mother was giving off before she decided to leave. There were huge fights but she couldn't be sure. That's when I felt protective of Noor. Who hasn't retraced the steps to a crisis to see if it could have been avoided? Especially situations where you have been let down by one you love.

But such instances are few. We see a lot of description of Noor's room, her group's parties, the loo stalls of the school, the kinds of lip gloss girls wear, and how deep and measured and totally fictional Noor's boyfriend is. I mean, it's not like men aren't that way but the fact that a 17 year old is that way was a bit much or me.

The book begins with the author's dedication, "To my mum, who stayed." It ends with Noor's character writing to her mother that ater she has fallen in love with Ishaan, she understands why her mother made the decsion she did.

Somewhere, between the first page and the last, I feel it must have been a brave story to write.

Monday, May 07, 2018


It has a very specific taste - sickly, burnt, bloody, raw and rotten meaty. I am feeling it so sharply now that I feel that my heart will either burst or stop. My eye has started twitching very badly and I am moving my leg very vigorously.

It is so easy to believe that this thing - this very thing that is causing me to breathe shallow and shake my leg dangerously fast, and cram so many biscuits in my mouth - it is easy to believe that this thing will create diseases in the body. It stays on sickly and thick on yoru skin and underneath your skin and there is no way out. It feels like I am in a quicksand.

Anyway, this is it, I suppose. We are done. I will just upload some things and go to bed.

It was not a happy day. At least it ends this way.

Tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

First Impressions: Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

I  read the book in the hospital while waiting for the nurse to finish dressing my mother's wounds. I read the book in the stupor between reaching home late at night, finishing an assignment and client call before beginning another stint at work. 

So, I didn't just like the book. I am grateful for it.

Love warrior is the memoir of a woman who describes herself as 'a recovering everything.' She became bulimic when she was ten years old and slowly got addicted to alcohol in her teen years. She would have a lot of casual sex but never enjoyed it. The first time she got pregnant, she had an abortion. The day she had her abortion, she gave permission to her boyfriend to go and party with his friends. He had asked if she was sure. She had said yes. He had left.

The next time she had found out that she was pregnant, she was on the bathroom floor, tired of letting down everyone time and again. She describes the pregnancy test as an invitation to real life. The test was a sign that someone up there had considered her to be worthy of being a mother despite being so messed up. Despite that. And because of that too.

Her boyfriend at the time, Craig, and the father of the child then proposes to her. They marry. She sets up a domestic life - the solid evidence of this wholesomeness is that they bring out fancy salad dowls when guests come over.

Then one day, Craig shares some porn with her. They'd been having sparse sex before that. She watches porn and feels aroused. Then she has sex with him. There's guilt, shame, despise.

She asks him to get it out of the house for good.

Then, during therapy, she finds out that he has been unfaithful to her. She breaks. She protects her three children by asking Craig to move out. She takes up yoga. 

Then one day she comes across a TV show where a couple is deciding to move out of a house they have spent a lot of money on renovations. Turns out that none of the renovations have worked because the house is wired all wrong. Rectifying the wiring would be a long and tedious process. Not to mention hugely expensive. The wife wants to move out and cut losses. The husband tells her that at least now they know what is wrong. They can fix it. They will know for a fact when it is fixed. What's the guarantee that the next house they move into will not have faulty wiring? What if they continue to hang pretty pictures on walls that hide monstrous wiring?

Glennon wonders whether she has faulty wiring herself. She wonders whether she needs to fix it first before moving on? So she decides to stay on in the marriage and explore if there can be some grace to be had within that.

This book is an enquiry into the earlier question. And the book is a solace. For one thing, Glennon can articulate a sense of emptiness with very kind purpose. There is a portion where she is racked with shame. Her parents send her to the church for an intervention. She is scared of the priest. But before that, when she is waiting for the priest to show up, she spends a little time before a picture of Mother Mary holding baby Jesus. She feels a kind of acceptance that starts her off on a scary journey of finding peace. (So, when she gets pregnant the second time around, she sees it as a sign of approval by Mother Mary.)

And I was particularly moved by the way she has described her husband's adultery. There is a part where she asks why her own flaws - such as silent resentment, withdrawal from sex, a quiet, persistent rejection of her husband - should not be considered as important as her husband's flaw of using his body to satisfy a need. How is one thing more of a sin than another?

Earlier, I used to wonder why women whould stay with men who strayed. My initial assumption was that women remain in relationships they don't like because they are used to it, they are scared of the future, etc. This book is a nuanced perspective of a different mindset. Sometimes women may choose to stay with a partner who strays because they decide to tackle it with strength. They want to fix their own wiring and understand what it would take to forgive their partner and the situation.

It is moving that the book begins with the wedding day of a very pregnant Doyle. She thinks of the same thing the very first time her husband tells her that he has been unfaithful. That memory fills her with hatred. Finally, it is this very same memory that fills her with tenderness and love - so much so that she finally gets to the point where she forgives her husband.

Like I'd written earlier - when my mum was being operated, when she slept while ate cup noodles, when my father dozed off in hospital chairs because he was tired - I used to keep wondering that this tenuous, fragile life - what's it all about?

To feel, to fail, to forgive - maybe that's what.

So for this, Glennon Doyle Melton, thank you.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

one day passes

Mummy underwent a surgery. I am now sleeping in my mother's room and I am missing her a lot. Strangely it is not the big things that undo me - not that my heart is feeling heavy...

just feelin too slow to write.