Sunday, January 31, 2016

472, 471

Very good couple of days. Just finished reading 'Nocturnes' by Kazuo Ishiguro. I loved the stories -soft, gentle, tender, lilting...everything that one loves the author for.

Am reading 'Dying to be Me' by Anita Moorjani now. It's a real life account of a woman who had a near death experience and how she subsequently cured cancer. She talks about what she experienced when her soul had left her body.

Also watched some documentaries a pal had given me - it's on the theory that aliens may have visited the earth a long time ago. The evidence of their visitations is in the architecture in certain places across the world the literature, the art, and folklore. It's a series by History Channel and although I'm not a believer, I'm fascinated.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

473: The pani puri trail (Balewadi Faata to Kalyan Bhel...but only one side.)

Today my friend and I decided to try out every. single. pani-puri. stall on Baner road. Our version of the Baner road extended from Balewadi faata, near Salt restaurant, to the Aundh signal.

Here were the rules:

1.) We would try out every single stall - whether it was a makeshift, tiny thing wth no signboard at the curb or a stall with a board or part of shop or even a restaurant.

2.) We'd share a plate between the two of us.

3.) We'd have the whole pani-puri experience - including the sukha puri at the end.

It was so much fun! Of course we couldn't complete the whole Baner Road trail but from what we had, here's what I liked:

# 1: My pitch-perfect pani puri is made by the Ganesh Bhel guy. The boy who makes the pani puris is so considerate and polite! I think he gives it the edge over numbers two and three.

# 2: The stall outside Copper Chocs. It is supremely crowded but man, the guy is good! The puris are nice, big, and crisp, the imli water is spiced nicely and the sweet chutney is thick and lush.

# 3: Kalyan bhel is also good and it was our final stop. So, that's where we had our most expensive plate at thirty rupees. The guy making the puris was wearing gloves (if you're into that sort of thing) and their sweet water had the boondis nicely soaked in them.

Most of the places we went were serving chopped onions for us to use as toppings. This seems to be a new phenomenon because, you know, I have never had raw onions with pani puris. But it tasted good, all the same.

I love pani-puris. I love them. I want to be rich enough to hire some great modernist architect from Sweden to design me a house that looks like a pani-puri. The walls would be translucent golden, think fibre-glass, the punctured top would let in the sunshine, a jade pond with red mosaic flooring could be the green and red chutney, and yellow dandelion puffs all around to be reminiscent of boondi. Yes. That's my idea of success. When I can have a house shaped like my favorite food. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

480, 479, 478, 477, 476, 475, 474

A lot has happened.

I spent a lot of time with my sister-in-law and mom, which was sweet and fun. Caught the 'Ground Hog Day' at Lost the Plot - which is an open-air screening that happens at the Seasons Hotel in Aundh. It was lovely. (I'd definitely recommend catching a movie there. They have those cushy chairs and headphones and you can watch the film sipping wine or glugging beer or nibbling crumb-fried mushrooms. And maybe during a slow moment, you could look around and see an inky blue sky threaded with stars. A pretty cinematic dissonance there - at least for the first few times.

Also watched Joy which I loved immensely. Jennifer Lawrence is so,,,solid. In an odd way, she reminds me of Anthony Hopkins. Like if they just said 'Open the door', they'd say it in a way you'll replay in your death-bed because it would be momentous. I haven't seen any of her other films but this one I quite liked.

Speaking of good actresses, I liked Nimrit Kaur's performance in Airlift. Airlift was quite a movie. I mean, I didn't find it exceptional or anything but my father had visited Kuwait during the time Saddam had attacked it. When we'd visited him in Aquaba 2 months before, we'd seen tanks lining the streets. And there was evacuation of such a large number of people. All this happened not too long ago and I was obliquely involved. But because there was no internet or mobile phones or anything, you really just went with the collective flow. It was heartening to see the Indian flag flying at the end of the movie when the refugees are finally brought to Aman from where they board the flight to Bombay. Patriotism - that moment of pride when your country finally comes through for its people. Overall, I liked it.

Finished reading Em and the big Hoom by Jerry Pinto. Cried hard after that. Starting reading Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro. Sometimes tears flow soft when I am in the middle of one of those short stories.

I had some friends over. It was nice. We sat in the balcony, in the candle light, and had coffee. A couple of days later, a friend had us over too. The person I was dating was invited too. It was so massively uncomfortable for me to go that I couldn't skip, you know? Sometimes, you just decide to go and put yourself in a situation to see if it will break you and if it does, how much. So I went and spent a lot of time in the kitchen making coffee. But then, I think one softens when you see people operating from a basic sense of decency. The person I was dating was polite, my other friends were discreet and didn't bring up anything that I couldn't handle, and only friend I felt, repeatedly kept putting me on the spot. But I think it's all okay if you remember that people mean well.

I read out a passage from Nocturnes. I also got everyone to read out a passage from Shame by Salman Rushdie.

And that's why I love books so much. Books listen. When you read something and you are stirred, the words on the page listen. You may feel like you are the vessel that's taking all the words in but I think, there comes a point when the book hushes and pays attention to whatever story is pouring out of you as you read it.

I think that's why I believe in the goodness and salvation of the world. That even in a civilization that may be as doomed as ours, we are still capable of that.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

481

I'm currently working with a friend on an app. So today I worked on some content for that. It really felt good. I think the key for my well-being is that I need to do some directed, focused writing every day.

In other news, I hadn't paid the electricity bill so they've cut off he electriciy. They were supposed to restore the line by now but it hasn't happened yet.

Waiting.

Meanwhile, have invited a pal over for coffee. We'll have coffee at home by candle light. Should be fun.


This city has started feeling suffocating now. I think I'm not doing the one main thing that I quit the job for...and so many odd things and situations keep coming in the way.

Really. It's not enough getting time. What's equally important is to guard it.

Looks like I need to say 'No' a lot more to social engagements. There's no point in feeling exhausted despite not having to go to work.

(Woke up feeling so irritated.)

Wrote a LinkedIn article

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ground-rules-open-play-mukta-raut?published=t

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

482

It's been an interesting day so far and it's not yet over. So, I'll put in an addendum if something supremely exciting comes up.

But in the off-chance it doesn't, here's what I was up to:

1.) Had to go some place for a meeting with a potential client. The weather was really nice and crisp. I was waiting for a friend to pick me up from the curb and the golden sunlight just drenched the world and it was lovely.

2.) We had lunch at the Skye bar, at the ICC Towers, and the buschetta was very tasty. As was the Red Thai Curry and rice. Al fresco dining is always a pleasure in Pune and this one is located right on the terrace so that's good.

3.) I walked from SB Road to Aundh. While at Crossword, I caught up with a ex-colleague. It was a strange, difficult, awkward, and a real interaction. That was good.

4.) Last night, I'd painted a pair of cherries, a slice of watermelon, and a balloon. I think the cleaning lady threw away the painting of the balloon. But I clicked all these pictures so I'll put them up somewhere. They aren't great but I really liked them! I think I ought to be more careful with my work.

5.) I had the chocolate brownie at Moshe's at Crossword and overall, the quality there just seems to be deteriorating. Avoidable stuff.

6.) There may be a 'do' planned on the 27th. So invited a friend for that.

7.) Had pani puri at Ganesh Bhel on Baner Road. And this I absolutely recommend. The pani puris are not too bad themselves but the guy who makes them is so polite and thoughtful! He is the reason I go there. 

483

I hadn't slept all of last night and I was out the whole day. Got back home and just slept off so peacefully. Had to go to a friend's house for tea and call another friend for some work but both fell off by the wayside.

I had a really good day - spent the whole day outside, had lunch at Le Plaisir (the bistro at Prabhat Road), and then spent a good couple of hours at a park just watching the sun go down. Then I got home and slept. Just slept. Now I'm feeling so guilty.

I think now that I'm at home, my social life just got really busy. And while some days I like it, some days I don't. I haven't written as much as I would have liked but it's okay. Tomorrow is another day and I guess I'll just have to learn to manage my time better.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

484

There's something bothering me about the new security guard. He always picks a fight with me and today, I returned around 2 a.m. from my friend's place. He ran after my car and asked me if I knew about some bike parked illegally in the parking lot. I think he was just trying to make conversation. Not getting a good feeling about this. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

486, 485

Last evening, I visited a rather enchanting little hill in Kothrud. It was just so pretty, with tall and silent trees all around. I was particularly intrigued by this tall tree with a very smooth bark - the colour of cappuccino. It was so beautiful, I wanted to bring it back home. I finally see the appeal of bonsai. I'd love to have a complete cherry blossom or a neem or a banyan on my coffee table.

Today was also good. Met up with a friend who may be involving me in some freelance work. Let's see how that works out.

I am sleeping a lot nowadays. It's beautiful. I sleep in the mornings, though. Go to bed around 6 a.m. and then wake up around 1. Then eat and sleep some more and socialize in the evenings.

In other news, I painted something yesterday. Very rough but I'm happy. Watercolours. I love water colours. They are so soft and gentle and beautiful. Something in me dissolves when I see them and yesterday, although it made my back sore, I felt something get a little more free.

I would strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to feel a little more taken care of. I can't explain it but brush strokes make me feel cushioned.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

487: Food, cinema, and other assortments

Yesterday I saw a white flower and an orange flower on the same branch. The sun was setting and these two blooms nodding in the wind like happy siblings.

A pal and I went to CafĂ© Joshua in Aundh where I tried a hot chocolate called 'Nutty Affair'. It was made with Nutella and it was really hearty and nice. I'm not a fan of chocolate but I liked it a lot. My friend a slice of carrot cake which looked really tasty. You could see the generous gratings of carrots and smell the lovely cinnamon.

This morning I did yoga. It made me feel good and sore and disappointed at the same time. But no matter. I'm sure things will improve.

With another friend, I tried out Le Plaisir on Prabhat Road. Relished the pasta there and she recommended an expresso panacotta that was creamy and soothing. Oh, and a special mention to the cappuccino I had there. It was King. It reigned the meal. It reigned my mind. That coffee ought to have its own conversation.

We also got some more coffee at Peter Donuts on Bhandarkar Road. It's big and all but I didn't like it too much as a spot to actually go and work there. I definitely prefer the one at Aundh. There's a lot more light there and I follow the sun.

Things got a little difficult with a friend in the evening and I'm beginning to get a little hassled with the unpredictability of human relationships. I mean, things can change so quickly. You know, sometimes you go wanting the approval of your friends (even though it may be freely given, which is why the friendship exists.). Then somewhere, life situations happen and you may find yourself in the awkward position where your approval may be sought. I'm finding this more and more - at times with people at work, at times with relatives, and at times with friends. What they seek or expect from me...or why they feel I may even have anything to give them, I'm not very sure about. Harsh words get exchanged, they will play in the mind until very carefully and consciously, one forgives and does not take it personally. But well, I guess such things will happen. You just have to breathe through it. And maybe remind yourself to be kind and strong. Kind enough to let things go. And strong enough to let the friend go, if necessary. And of course, wise enough to know whether it is necessary or not.

Much later in the evening, another friend and I went to a movie, 'The Danish Girl'. It's a moving story of a painter in Denmark who is also married to an artist. One day, the wife asks this painter to try on the clothes of a ballerina who was modelling for her. The man obliges. Except that when he tries on the stockings and the shoes, something awakens within him and he's drawn to the life of being a woman. The couple moves to Paris. The man's immersion in the experience of being a woman becomes more pronounced and worrisome. Therapy is sought. Therapy doesn't work. There's anger, doubt, confusion. The marriage survives all this. The wife stands by him and ultimately, the man undergoes the operation to become a woman. With this wife on his side.

The painter dies in the end. But it is such an uplifting story. It's poignant and moving and those stunning vistas of Denmark, Paris, and artist studios strewn with large, opulent canvases.

In the end, there remains whatever you began with. And maybe it always begins with love and beauty.

That's the hope.
 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

489, 488

Has anyone out there benefited from having a life coach? At times I wonder if I should have one. I think what comes in the way is...a certain kind of scepticism. How does one become a life coach? At what point does one decide that I can tell someone what to do to help themselves?

In any case, if anyone has engaged a life coach, let me know please?



 

Monday, January 11, 2016

490: Story of the wick and related observations

Sometimes, the spotlight shifts. Of course, it doesn't shift so sharply that you stop noticing the dance of the flames or the fierce, strong glow of the light. You also remain enchanted by the theatre of shadows that this flickering, capricious child of he candle plays out on the wall. You are only human, so you will notice that and celebrate that and admire that and wistfully want more of that in your life.
But then, sometimes the spotlight will shift and ...you will notice something else.

Something smaller, darker, more commonplace, and regular and homely...which may not seem to do too much - not ignite a passion or awaken art...it will not do much more than simply hold the fire, so that it can do its thing.

Bajirao Mastani left me wondering about Kashibai. What was in it for her? Just...why? And...how? What for?

I liked the film and it's a testament to how unfulfilling lives can get when no one is drinking coffee. Oh ya...for all that big budget and plush themes, why doesn't Bansali show anyone eating a meal in his movies? No wonder they all suffer the fate they do.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

491

1. Had a great lunch. My cook, I think, makes the tastiest daal and a dish with diced cauliflower and lots of onions (shallow-fried with a little bit of turmeric, chilli powder and a hint of curd.)

2. Went to meet a group of friends - the first this year. We've planned to meet up more often so let's see how that goes.

3. Expecting my brother and his wife tonight s was cleaning up a little bit.

4. Had a great walk from Aundh to my place. The hills looked pink in the evening.

 

492: Cabby-talk, some books loaned, and Wazir

I woke up with a sore knee this morning but it got better as the day wore on. Here's what else happened:

1. I went to Phoenix with a friend. It was good fun. Although we didn't find anything nice in Zara. I mean they were nice but nothing new. Forever 21 though had some good stuff.

2. We were cabbing it back to Baner after our trip and the cabbie started talking to us about past life regression. It was a little strange but also natural.

3. Met up with another pal later that night. She loaned me 'Em and the Big Hoom' by Jerry Pinto and 'Temple of My Familiar' by Alice Walker. Very excited to start reading them.

4. Went to watch 'Wazir' with her and her husband. I really liked it. Some strong performances and I'm surprised by how good the music is! It's only now that I am somehow seeing that Amitabh Bachchan is quite a special man. I am liking him more now than earlier.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Thursday, January 07, 2016

493

A good day today. My cook makes aloo-gobhi really well. All spicy and slightly crisp and coated with enough masala that it makes a great accompaniment to steamed rice.

I also had coffee and sandwich with a pal at Peter Donuts. It was fun! If you are looking for a vegetarian option there, the basil and tomato sandwich is a better bet than their signature 'Peter Sandwich'. I wanted to try their mushroom sandwich but they were out of stock with that.

Had a good walk to Aundh. Saw a man do a Warli painting on a wall. It looked really pretty.

Talked to a pal in Bangalore and maybe next month I'll plan a trip. Or maybe later this month.

494: Gifted

This year I have decided to use all the gifts that I have received over the years. I don't mean that metaphorically even. I mean actual tangible gifts that people in their sweet generosity have given me. This means all those clothes and make-up, the free e-books that they shared in hundreds, satchets of Arabic spices, etc.

So, here's what I have started on:

1. A body wash from Body Shop. It's white musk and so heady that I just swathe myself in that and after a bath, slip into cosy, cotton sheets and sleep the afternoon away. (An afternoon nap makes being out of work really worthwhile.)

2. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. It's a movie on Milkha Singh, the Indian athelete. Directed by Rakesh Mehra and starring Farhan Akhtar. I love that film. I love the song, 'Bhaag Milkha'. This song plays in the background as Milkha skips with weights tied to his ankles. He just keeps skipping as the camera moves all around him. And with every arc of the camera you can see Milkha Singh's body get transformed. I loved that film. This man had to leave home during partition and you can tell that he carries with him a deep sense of displacement. He joins the army and runs for the army. Does well. Carries his ghosts with him. And as skilled as he is, he can't outrun them. Finally, he runs in Pakistan. Interesting that a man who wanted to escape so much chose running as his path. Also interesting that he finally makes peace with his past in one of his final races in Pakistan. (Or at least that's what they show in the movie.) That's where he got the moniker 'The Flying Sikh' and maybe felt accepted in Pakistan, the home he ran from and couldn't g back to. There, he may have crossed a true 'finish line'.

3. A very beautiful watch my mother gifted me. It's a brand called Fossil and I love that name. After all, time is a fossilized concept. I love it. It's got dark grey strap and a huge dial that's got a rose gold hue. Usually I don't like to wear watches but this one I'm really liking.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

495

1. Went to a pub, Funky Kona today. Caught up with a pal who gifted me a lovely black and silver scarf.

2. An ex-boss fro Bombay called up. It was so good just catching up!

3. Had really nice pani-puris near the Someshwar temple.

4. I've been whipping up strawberries and cream very often. So that's been tasty!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

496

It was a beautiful day today.

I took a long, leisurely walk to office where I had to sign some final documents. On the way, I saw this stunning tree that seemed to have a floral cloudburst on the top of it. There were garnet-coloured flowers and flowers that looked like spittles of fire and flowers that were a magical purple and pink mix. This chaos of gemmed beauty rose high above to nudge a perfect, even blue sky.

On the way, I took a detour via a stunning, shaded avenue. An elderly gentleman was passing by carrying bread and eggs wrapped in brown paper. I smiled at him. He looked at me and was hesitant. I'd almost passed him when he shouted out, "Do you know me?"

I said, "No. I just smiled...just like that."

He looked really happy. He said, "Thank you! That's sweet. Happy New Year."

I remember our conversation verbatim. Will put it in a play.

Who would have thought that before that day I had an accident with a water tanker.

No harm done. And the day looked up!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

497

Looks like I'll spend January arranging my clothes.

My tomato plant seems to be rather moody. While I was away, I'd asked my cook to water the plants, which she did. But although the mint bush thrives and the Indian rose blooms, the tomato plant has shrivelled up. I hope it responds to me now.

Anyway, wrote something on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/necessity-talking-someone-you-do-agree-mukta-raut?published=t

 

Friday, January 01, 2016

508, 507, 506, 505, 504, 503, 502, 501, 500, 499, 498

1. My last day at work was beautiful. They gifted me a gorgeous hamper with some really good coffee and gingerbread men and plum cake. I also got coupons that I used to buy books and movies.

2. My brother got married in Bhubaneshwar and it was lovely! Cousins are just so much fun! I wore bight yellow stilletoes and danced a night away! Superb it was.

3. After a really long time, I wore jewellery and a sari and I quite liked myself in them.

4. I've become rather heavy now and I'm fine with it. Of course, I will work on it eventually but I've come to appreciate it a lot. Last year, there was a period when I was just so sad and anxious and scared. I think I put on a whole lot of weight then - to maybe protect myself from myself. The weight did help. I somehow did feel more cushioned and more, somehow, sweet.

5. The year ended with me leaving Bhubaneshwar with dumping my yellow heels in the hotel's waste paper basket. With those shoes, I definitely made a statement but I don't have it in me to continue the conversation. Barefeet dances are the way forward.

6. I have a feeling this will be a great New Year for all of us. I sense that we'll all get braver.

May your 2016 ROAR!