Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The mandatory year-end post

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
Pierced my nose. Had a new roommate. Travelled alone to a new city. Made significant plans.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Do not remember last year's resolutions, but will not be bogged down by forgetfulness - no sir. Will make new ones. Will try to remember them.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No (Thank God, fingers crossed)

5. What countries did you visit?
None [But places visited within the country include Jaipur, Chandigarh (for my first real Punjabi wedding!), Shimla, Benares, Manali, Ahmedabad, and Bikaner. Writing down this list makes me see the most obvious North Indian bias in it. Ugh.]

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
Money; Forthrightness; Discipline

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory?
10 February

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Successfully changing my job, making new friends, learning to live amicably with new roommate

9. What was your biggest failure?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing significant. (Am I jinxing everything by saying this? I guess I am. Ah well.)

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Shoe rack (Look at how homely I have become! Shoerack! SHOERACK!)

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
A's, for being spineless (I wasn't depressed, just appalled); S'

14. Where did most of your money go?
Food and books and plane tickets

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Pujo! And the January wedding!

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2013?
Laila o laila (Coke studio); Pata Pata (Miriam Makeba)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a. Happier or sadder? Happier
b. Thinner or fatter? Dunno
c. Richer or poorer? Richer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Saving up

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Seeking approval

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent Christmas ingesting copious amounts of wine and meat with some very good company. So it was all good. :)

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
Maa, I think

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?
Not any new loves, no

23. How many one night stands in this last year?

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Doctor Who; Mad Men; Koffee with Karan

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

26. What was the best book(s) you read?
Gone Girl; Joseph Anton

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Miriam Makeba; Papon; The Decemberists

28. What did you want and get?
The new/old job

29. What did you want and not get?
A trip abroad

30. What were your favourite films of this year?
Fukrey; Lootera; Toy Story 2 and 3; Utsab

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
25. There was impromptu small party at midnight. Then I spent the whole day watching Doctor Who and eating pasta. Went out in the evening for makke ki roti and sarso ka saag with S. My first vegetarian birthday, but I managed!

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
I tried harder than I did in 2012

34. What kept you sane?
S and books and Doctor Who

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Neil Gaiman; David Tennant; Benedict Cumberbatch

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Delhi assembly elections; The hanging of Afzal Guru; Mandela's death; Pussy Riot; Supreme Court's fuckshit ruling to not scrap Section 377

37. Who did you miss?
My old self

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Gunjan; Deepti ( I had met them in late 2012, but really became friends in 2013)

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
I get by with a little help from my friends. :)

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
Ganja nahi hawa hai, dawaa hai/ Galey ka manjan, aankhon ka niranjan hai... :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I found this randomly today. I had apparently written it at the end of 2010 (which was...holy fucking shit...THREE years ago), and not hit "publish" for some unfathomable reason. Look at how fresh faced I seem! How naive! How young! How vulnerable! How utterly twenty two! (To put things in perspective, the tiny apartment has long been discarded, Wimpy's has long been out of business, I have quit Heartless MNC and joined back again six months later, secret Saptami movie date has long acquired a terrifying life of its own, L has long since moved out, and I have long ceased to be twenty effing two.) Ah youth, you fleeting bastard.

In January!

I jumped around in joy a little. Didn’t take my French exams and felt horrible about it for months afterwards. Joined the Editing and Publishing course.

In February!

I turned twenty two. Had a song written and composed about me. Went to the epic Shantiniketan trip with friends.

In March!

I played some holi and drank some bhang. Took some exams. Heartless MNC called and said I might just probably maybe almost have a job with them. Or not.

In April!

I got addicted to Dexter. Injured my foot. Finished my Editing and Publishing course. Got a job with said Heartless MNC. Couldn’t jump around in joy because of said foot.

In May!

I took my final sem exams at JUDE. Attended the farewell for my batch. Wore and saree and took some long coveted photos. Went for the epic part 2 trip to Barkul with friends.

In June!

I moved to a new city. Started living with a couple of Punjabi ladies as a paying guest. Scrunched up my face at having only vegetarian food for meals every day. Discovered Karim’s. Discovered Wenger’s. Missed Kolkata like a phantom limb.

In July!

The city started feeling familiar. Made friends with colleagues. Started liking my job. Got used to the vegetarian food. Continued to miss Kolkata.

In August!

I started looking for houses. Was disappointed at the complete lack of suitable place to move into. Took a trip to Manali. Inhaled some questionable substance, ate some awesome food and listened to the Beas as it flowed by. Started counting days to Pujo.

In September!

House hunting continued with a vengeance. Extreme depression followed when one realized that it wasn’t working out. Spent all my money shopping for people back in Kolkata. Discovered Wimpy’s, Nizam’s, Keventer’s. Got addicted to Lost. Missed Kolkata a bit more.

In October!

Went back to Kolkata for pujo. Saw the little pandals as my plane landed in the city and almost died from happiness. Hung out with friends. Was perpetually high. Went on a secret movie date on Saptami (which would turn out to be significant later on, but I didn’t know it then.) Went to Benares for Lokkhipujo. Surprised my parents twice in one month.

In November!

Found a house! Found a house! Found a house! A tiny two roomed apartment over a garbage dump, without any sunlight and a closet for a kitchen. But what do I care? I found a house! Found a house! Found a house!

In December!

Shifted to new house. L decided to move to Delhi. Therefore, three people ended up living in a tiny space. Figured that we would probably need to look at bigger apartments soon. Learnt to cook a little. Got absolutely smashed on new year’s eve. With the sudden clarity of thought that only a lot of narcotics can give you, realized that it wasn’t such a bad year after all.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I understand that this blog is...for most purposes...gathering dust in a long forgotten corner of the internet. But then, I never really wrote for an audience. Not even in the college heydays of ellipses-filled, vague, megalomaniac blogposts.

However, even in its moth-eaten state, the blog is part of the great big INTERNET...full of other people...and maybe, just MAYBE...the chance that other people may stumble across this will shame me into finishing my to-do lists.

Therefore, here goes:

1. Dust the shelf. Dust the shelves. Dust the book. Dust the books.
2. Change bedsheets!
3. Collect the kameez from the darzi!
4. Make the annual trip to Sarojini and stock up on winterwear.
5. Rearrange shoe rack.
6. Pay credit card bill.
7. Pay gas bill.
8. Get the broken window pane repaired.
9. Cook something...anything. (Maybe dessert?)
10. Seriously think about that exercise regimen. Do not wait till every joint starts creaking.

Hmmmm...sometimes I astound myself with my wild, partying lifestyle.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Drinking Thums Up and watching Mad Men on a chilly Delhi evening, there's nothing in this WORLD I want more than to put some words out there.

I want to write. I want to write so bad that it's an empty ache in my throat that I carry around all day. But words are not formed of empty aches. Words need patience. And blood. And the sweat of the brow. And everytime, EVERYTIME, a little part of your soul. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I'm going home tomorrow.

I haven't been this delirious with joy in a very long time.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Manali (With four of S' pictures, just so that I remember)

Manali is just as I remember it from three years back. The old man with his huge rainbow umbrella and chocolate pancakes has disappeared from the next door cafe. And Sunshine, wouldn't you know it, has a new coat of paint. But apart from that, everything is the same. The puddles are shiny. The clouds are in my mouth. The Deodar trees are watchful.

It's a little disconcerting at first, this realization of a time warp. The same cobble stone path greets us, and the dahlias are a ferocious pink. The tiny dogs wag their tails adoringly and gulp down entire packets of Monaco. The black one frowns at me the entire time. The brown one doesn't care.

We drink tea and walk slowly up to the Hidimba temple. The six hundred year-old wooden temple of the rakshasi, the outcast, the eternal sacrificial lamb. Eight bloody sacrifices she demands every Dussehra, the sombre signboard tells me. About time, I think. Despite my Monaco-feeding habits, I'm not an animal lover then, am I?

We walk aimlessly down to the nature park and almost lose our way among the trees and the noisy river. I look down at the Beas, and spy young boys precariously perched on the rocks, trying to fish. It's absurd, how beautiful everything looks. It's like I'm in a film, I think. It's like a painting, I think. I'm SUCH a cliche, I think.

At Chopsticks on Mall road, where I demolish one whole fried trout, we meet old Neil McDonald from Scotland. He offers us his table as he sits looking out of the restaurant window and nursing a beer. He has been in India since 2006, and he walks with a stick. He lives up on the mountains, and his best friends are his thirteen-year old neighbours. "India! Such nice people! So many religions!," he says. I feel a pang of jealousy. Stupid, effing office with a stupid effing salary. Why can't I live up on the mountains and nurse my beer on Friday afternoons in Manali?

When we come back to Sunshine, the rains have already started. The mountains are almost invisible with the downpour and the guest house dog is curled up in a corner. I drink tea and read Steinbeck on the porch, and occasionally stare back at the stern Deodar in the property.

I am a cliche and I have an effing job, and I can't live up on the Manali mountains and the black dog doesn't like me. But at that moment, on that day, I have the mountains under my feet, in my mouth, in my eyes, and in my heart.

And I don't think I give a damn.

Friday, July 26, 2013

After a long and hard internal discourse while staring out of the office window for the major part yesterday, I have arrived at the following life-changing conclusions.

I have decided that I shall save money and spend it exclusively to:

a) Travel
b) Buy books
c) Eat out

This probably means that I will never:

a) Own a house
b) Own a car
c) Own any Apple product
d) Own any snazzy phone
e) Buy a ticket for a leisurely cruise down the Nile or stay in a Five Star hotel in Paris (Because my idea of travelling is mainly backpacking and living in youth hostels, even when I'm fifty.)

I think my life will be pretty awesome.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


High school uniforms for girls are blue checked tunics over white shirts. Once a week, there's a change, when we wear white shirts with our house emblems over dark blue divided skirts, and try to do different yoga postures in the sweltering PT room over Shaila sweets. There is a sheetala mandir right across the road, and the clanging of the bells sometimes interrupts the mild mannered Gour sir. But he persists. And so do we.

Once a week, during afternoons, I am taken to learn Bharatanatyam at a famous South Calcutta dance school. The heartbreak and the disillusionment will come later. But that year, I love it. I am taught the first few elementary items and given a brown and cream salwar kameez.

My dancing days are interrupted. Chequered. Halted by the demands of daily life. I have learnt dancing since I was four. First at CLT. Then, during my one-year Benares stay, from Hombal jee, BHU's beloved Bharatanatyam guru. After I am whisked back again, I am sent to learn Odessey, and I love it, excel in it almost, before that stops because the classes shift far away. And now there's this. This crazy, once-a-week Bharatanatyam, and learning the mudras by heart, and feeling the familiar lurch in the heart when the teacher beats the stick on the wooden platform and goes "Thaiiya, thaiii; Thaiiya, thaiii".

I have a terrible ear infection. And after long hours of gritting my teeth,  break down and cry in the middle of a school day, and let go of my grown up girl (my high school student grown up girl) badge for a long while. I am nine years old and I can't hear and can't think and can't do ANYTHING for the excruciating pain in my ears. My mother comes to pick me up from school then. Smelling of her classes and of home. I cling to her, and cry some more and refuse to let go even at the doctor's chamber. Maybe, I think, this is how I'm going to die. Not on the stage, as I have thought of a million times. Not doing something adventurous Nancy Drew or Frank Hardy. But here, in my mother's arms, in the midst of a wave of blinding pain.

But of course, that doesn't happen.

(Edited to add: The idea of writing a few paragraphs about each year of my childhood, partly because I revel in nostalgia and partly because I would like to remember things when I'm seventy and senile, is taken from this blog. I love this blog, not least because a few years ago this lady quit work and backpacked through Asia for six months.)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Now that I am free, now that I have resigned and am lying flat on my bed and staring at the ceiling, now that contentment is seeping from every pore, I find myself remembering the last six months with an air of resigned good humour. That, however, is wrong. It is a deadly trap. A dulling of the outrage with time. If I encourage it, I think...nay...I know that I run the risk of ending up back in a steel and glass corporate powerhouse, feeling helpless as Excel sheets slowly suck my lifeblood away. Therefore, for the future me - for the me I am sure is still lurking underneath there somewhere - is a list of reasons why I should never ever in my life again attempt working for gigantic MNCs in Delhi that have nothing to do with publishing. The few good friends I made in the last few months are really not worth all this.

1. Timesheets. No. I mean, no. EVerytime I had to fill one up in the last few months, detailing how exactly I had spent every minute of every day in my office, describing in painstaking detail how I stared at Excel Sheet number 346 from 3:45pm to 4:13 pm, the voice inside my head started shrieking, and did not stop till I got home.

2. Long commutes. Very good on paper. Awful in real life. Even if one has the luxury of an AC car to oneself.

3. Yo yo honey singh. It is like this. Every new person I met in the last few months was a fan of this man. They sung their songs in the washroom, they hummed along with him while working, they listened to him intently on the one hour drive back home - flipping radio channels impatiently until they located a honey singh song. I attended an out-of-station wedding of a dear colleague/friend and these were the only songs the wedding guests were dancing to. I attended an office party in Jaipur, and everyone around me was swaying to punjabi rap. It was my very own version of patriarchal, North Indian nightmare...and I couldn't get out of it. There is only so much that Beatles on the headhone can do, if the air all around is saturated with everything yo yo.

4. Corporate lingo. No, I will not revert back to you. Neither shall I streamline the deliverables by EOD. I shan't touch base with you to verbalise anything, and I shall especially not ideate while you do knowledge transfer about cross-utilization. I might throw my laptop at you for process optimization though.

5. No language stuff. I have realized that if I can't write, rewrite and play around with words, I die a little bit inside. Let's just say that there were a lot of deaths in the last few months.

6. No book stuff. I was asked whether Salman Rushdie is a cricketer, whether Chetan Bhagat is English literature's pinnacle and whether wasting one's chidlhood reading storybooks lessened one's earning potential as an adult.

7. Shiny clothes. I cannot in any which way think of a time when I shall voluntarily dress up everyday to go to work. A clean shirt, a pair of jeans and combed hair I can manage. Perfect make up and stilettos and pencil skirts, I can't. And when it is obvious that my unstraightened hair and Sarojini nagar top is directly affecting how my work is being evaluated, I have to physically restrain myself from wearing shorts and a ganjee to work the next day.

I shall add more as and when I can. However, for the time being, remember these, future self. Remember these and shudder.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Watch this space.

This blog is not dead. Like the proverbial Arnold Schwarzenegger, it'll be back. As soon as I dropkick my current soul-crushing corporate existence into oblivion.

This place has too many memories to lose out to a heartless glass-n-steel multinational behemoth.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


The jungle gym is, by far, the coolest thing in my school. It is red and a little rusty and sometimes, totally off-limits. But every day, particularly during recess, I perch myself on the topmost rung and gaze around like an indulgent queen, and refuse to get down.

Our classroom is at the end of a corridor, right besides the staircase. I sit near the window, and like the proverbial scatterbrained character in any book, I like to look out. Sometimes I spy some lady hanging out her washing across the street, and mutter "chhotto meye roddure day begni ronger saree..." to myself. My friends think I'm crazy.

One day, Bhaswati miss, my scary Class Four teacher, decides to read to us. It is a hot day. The shades are drawn against the Calcutta summer, and the sun makes strange patterns on the floor. The ceiling fan whirrs above. Somewhere in the distance, a Roddiwala cries his trade cry. Miss perches herself on the teacher's desk, turns her beady eyes to the class, clears her throat and turns the first page. "Darrell Rivers looked at herself in the mirror..." she starts.

After that day, the jungle gym is abandoned. Because I discover Enid Blyton, and my life, as I know it, changes for ever.