Wednesday, June 24, 2015


I have it.

I feel like I've floundered for so long now, just thinking and being and doing and failing. Well, *I* call it failing, and quiet-time-ing, though really, its just being as 'on' as I'm used to being.

I feel like I found something I could do for longer than a year. For the rest of my life even. I'm happy.

It would be perfect if it rained today. But I'll take what Delhi throws at me (cloudy, breezy, almost monsoony)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I love choice

Sometimes we make choices that seem like they're holding us back, but actually, they liberate us in ways we cannot even imagine.

I am making one such choice today - and while its a bit grandiose to claim that I'm going to be liberated because of this choice in ways I cannot even imagine, I *am* going many steps forward with this little step.

Goodbye tyranny, hello you bittersweet independence.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Woh hai ki woh hai nahin?

I hate this day. Every year for around 7 years now, I have hated it, and I think to myself each year, it will get better, but it doesn't much, and it doesn't in the way I want it to.
My mother is dead. I bring myself to say it out loud, a few times a year. Mostly, I think it. These words have so much power, and saying it out forces me to confront the brutal finality of the her non-existence, in the world where words are spoken out loud. 

In the world where words are thought, one can still play the half-half game. Where smells are sounds, and where sighs are pointy, and laughter skittles across the landscape in hops and jumps, much like tears, except one tastes kind of like musk-melon juice, and the other taste of unripe sapotas, and you can't tell which is which if you've had too much to drink; In this world - woh hai, ki woh hai nahin?
Woh hai, I think, essence, memory, smell but nahin, really, I say. 

It happens in the most unexpected of ways; I dig for some sarees to photograph, and see an old synthetic bright red bandhini print saree, one that my mother used to wear to work, looking so wonderfully sharp and competent, then relegated it to only be worn around the house when a nightie wouldn't do, when bras and visitors thrust social conventions you can't ignore.

It is a simple and nonthreatening saree, unlike her wedding sarees that I wish she had seen me wear. Unlike my wedding sarees I wish she had helped me pick. Unlike my dad's gifts of kanjivarams and mysore silks to her, which I used to covet, and which make me feel like a traitor to her memory. Unlike her bengal cottons, some of which have starch from 2008, which I cannot bring myself to wash. Unlike her Garden Vareli lovelies from Bombay of the 90s. Unlike her 2009 Deepavali silk-cotton, green and beige with small zari border saree, that she bought a few weeks before she died - blousepiece attached, bill-attached, un-falled, un-piccoed, un-petticoated, un-worn. 

This saree is unlike those, so I bravely pick it up, not cautious, not fearful, not having girded my loins for impending suckerpunches. The folds break loose and cascade around my fingers. I grapple with the camera in one hand and try to scoop up the fabric running riot with the other, I fail. It falls in a shapeless mess to the floor, and I reach into it, looking for a crease, an edge, something to anchor it, so I can yank it back into the folds, when my fingers fumble over a knot.

I sit down, cross-legged. I abandon the camera gently to one side, I don't drop it.  See, that's one thing that seven years teaches you.

My left hand is still nestled in the saree, it caresses the knot, and the other slowly parts the folds. There it lies, a few inches thick, at the beginning of the saree where it should be tucked into the waist. A knot. A lump. Irony, irony, irony screams a voice in my head, and suddenly, musk-melon or sapota, I can't tell anymore.
My mother, amma, probably learnt to knot the beginning of her saree from my grandmother, avva. Presumably she didn't do this to the silks, but the cottons, the nylons, the nylexs, the polyesters, the polkas, the flowers, the jaaneman-jaaneman choti-si-baat- type sarees - those she did. So that when she picked them up, in a hurry, and they slipped from her fingers, and it fell in a shapeless mess to the floor, and she reached into it, looking for a crease, an edge, something to anchor it, so she can yank it back into the folds, her fingers would fumble over a knot.
I breathe deeply, 1-2-3-4-5 in, and 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8- out. The third deep breath rattles, its noisy as I inhale and a small little snotbubble forms as I exhale. I am a snotty crier - there now you know. There is nobody at home, and the phone is a little far away. There are no distractions, no reinforcements. I must face this alone.

For this moment, it is just me, and my sorrow, and the weight of all of my unfulfilled expectations.

Almost like when it is just me and my ugly envy, when I see my husband talk on the phone to his mother, "Amma, send kandhi podi for me", he says, and his mother, who loves us so much she is trying to be my mother too, sends some Aavin therattu paal along, just for me, only for me. I try to eat it, it tastes like pity, to my proud and injured self. I feel guilty.

Almost like when it is just me and my shameful jealousy, when my periamma goes to the US for my sister-in-law's 'delivery', and takes care of my niece, and all I can think is "I'll never have this." I feel guilty. I buy my niece extra mamra badam and pattupavadai material to make up for my selfishness.

Almost like when it is just me, and my vicious anger, when I go to Lajpat Nagar Central Market to find a blouse for a particularly unusual silver-green-pale-blue saree, and I can't, and its hard, and there are so many colours, and all around me, aunties and their daughters are discussing lehenga kalis and border designs and corset blouses.  "Die!" I think, "Die, die, die all of you die. JUST DIE. JUST DIE NOW RIGHT HERE." I feel guilty. I hastily leave the market, never try finding a matching blouse. "Had to pee so left market, will pick up your leggings later :)" I text a friend innocuously. I scream at a rash driver, snap at a beggar, speak sharply to a client. 

It is just me, and my weariness, when May approaches, when my inbox, and timeline, and Facebook feed fill up with pictures of everyone I love, and their family. There, my cousin and my aunt, here, a good friend and her child, a bestie who's pregnant, and a brother-in-law, with his mother. I feel guilty.

Actually, I tell myself, its my cousin whose dad is a jerk, and my aunt who has suffered so much, it is a good friend who has had to work so hard to support her family, and her child, it is my bestie who is pregnant after a miscarriage some years ago, and a brother-in-law who's going through a shitty separation.

How many evils to wish upon the world, and how much more guilt to carry.
Life sucks for everybody baba, I tell myself, and you have so much to be happy about. But I am greedy, and I am small and petty, and I want all of the happiness I can have and more, and sometimes, on days like today, it doesn't matter how much love I have, I want to bossily yell at my amma for knotting all the sarees - "Why ma, can't you atleast remove the knot when you send me your sarees!?", and  "Why ma, do you always stick your stupid bindis on the mirror", or "Why ma, do you still use Fair & Lovely", or "Why ma, you don't think I should wait to have a baby". 

I can imagine what she's say. "Pah, don't make such a big deal over the knot. Its good to keep it.", "You do what you want in your _own_house", "I don't know kuttima, habit probably, but I should stop, you're right" and "Don't wait, don't wait like I did". 

In the sapota-muskmelon world, she'll say this with intonations, cadence and a sneeze maybe (Gokul Santol talcum powder). But I can't really make her say it to me in the world where words are spoken.

 Wo hai ki woh hai nahin?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hug me


I'm having a crisis of confidence.  I'm trying to put up a brave face, and in fact, right now, I am on my two and a third mojito, trying to be calm, and measured and brave - and not give in to weeping, but its not easy. And sometimes, a good cry is really worth its weight in tea and sugar.

But mojitos, and nachos are all I have. Yes, its the middle of the day but since I am Founder/ CEO whatever title title, I can decide to work out of a innocently named "Market Cafe" where they have many plugpoints and oneplusone drinks at 3 in the afternoon.

Also, I have listened to Glee's Halo / Walking on Sunshine on LOOP for over two days now, and  I have all the adrenalin I need, I swear, but no answers, no hugs, and no solutions.

I have an email from ten years ago that I go back to when I'm sad. It contains many gems, including the now famous line: "If one is offered chocolate, one must always take it, unless its five star, which is yucky"

How do you think I find this email? By searching for "five star yucky", of course.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Darn you Feminism

I read a wonderful article the other day in (where else?) the Guardian, about the ways in which Feminism can make your life difficult. Actually, there's just one way - IT RIPS THE CAULK OF INDIFFERENCE FROM YOUR EYES and forever makes you a soldier (problematic) / rebel (somewhat better) who is looking to stop men taking away your power and help other women keep their power even if it means you give up a little agency (AGENCY) and the rights to join a burlesque performance and shake your boobies out at someone for money. Or not. You've got to figure it out.
Also, its not just about women, is it?

My life - well, I can't recall when, but I've always had this uneasy feeling that things are just a _teeny_ weeny_ bit more difficult for me, as a woman. I'm not even going to go down the caste-privilege rabbithole because that's just .. no, I can't. True-feminist identification - well that happened somewhere in law school, when I finally acquired the language to articulate the silent oppression that hits you everyday like a thousand paper cuts. PATRIARCHY. AGENCY (love the word). POWER DYNAMICS. SYSTEMIC EXCLUSION.

I can never say what I want to say as well as Emer in the G, but some specific things that really make me feminist-weary in a sad, oh there goes my childhood sort of way.

1) I can't swear without feeling guilty.

2) I can't watch 99% of India movies without immediately having an annoying voice in my head go "Male gaze, male gaze, male gaze", "sexist, sexist", "ok, I can't even watch this anymore, I'm going to stew and snap at DF in just a moment".

3) I get very annoyed when porn sites have a specific "For women" category! But I can't explain why - I have limited power-language-awareness.

4) When I encounter the pronoun 'he' that deigns to speak for all humans in legal language, I have a strong urge to scream.

5) I am forever asking myself if GoT is feminist or not. Four hours yesterday and an hour this morning spent on this probing question, to somehow validate my choices, and nowhere close to an answer.

6) My maid has just come, and she has brought her daughter to work. I give up - its much too complicated now to address the problematics in this situation, I on my laptop, my maid in the kitchen, and her daughter waiting in our living room (who should BE in school and usually is). I've tried to tell her sternly I will let my maid go if she doesn't send her daughter to school - forbidden the child from working in our house, and instead handing her the tv remote, but who am I to act as saviour? Argh.

Ok, this is an uninspiring list for a blog that claims to love lists, but I am rebuilding my DO EVERYTHING personality that has been in a LAZY IS AWESOME phase for over a year now. Forgive.


In other news - I think I may finally be leaving Delhi - praise the lord.

In other news - I think this summer is going to be brutal - it hit 40 C yesterday - argh.

In other news, I'm going to do sit-ups and crunches today, I have an app even. Yay?

In other news - I think I'm done with all the work I have but more comes along in large piles disguised as responsibility and effort. I don't get it. This world sucks.

Friday, February 27, 2015


Today I had a client sign an engagement letter, officially hiring me to be their lawyer/advisor.


<3 you world!

If this isn't a gold star kind of day, I don't know what is!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Being a friend to myself

I had to take out a Demand Draft today, and predictably, I asked DF "So what's the procedure to take out a DD? Have you ever taken one out?" "Nope, I don't know, but I guess you go to the bank and figure it out?", he said, rather unhelpfully. I guess the last time I used a DD was to pay for my NALSAR entrance exam application form, and mommy dearest took care of that!

Anyway, I went to my bank in Bhogal, and figured it out. #win

ALSO, I went to the dentist PREEMPTIVELY which is a big big big step for me, - I feel like I'm ready to be an adult - especially because I will have to work like an adult to pay for all the miseries my earlier dentist caused me. :X
(Pro-tip - ALWAYS go to the best dentist you can, and ALWAYS get second opinions!)

I also made a banofee pie - the dulce le leche came from a Nestle condensed milk tin and a pressure cooker. 

I feel like something has changed. Like there's something in the air (literally, and figuratively, if you live in Delhi, but whatev), something changing.

Could it be as simple as a winter blues thingy clearing up? Because I haven't been as excited in a long time - and more importantly...