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Monday, December 31, 2012

"Truth, please don't pay me much attention"

I love bloggy too much.

2012 has been a smashing year. I've been brave, happy, in love and at peace (mostly). Its true what they say, you know...  blogging, and poetry and the book gently wilted away because I was either sleeping or talking or playing Tetris with DF.

I'm coming back here because I love bloggy too much. (I know, I already said that!) I also love the idea of whining about laundry, and about bellinis, and bad drafting and gender stereotypes and recent science fiction and the weather.

DF says a grudging hello, and is asking that I come set up Monopoly and I'm going to go, but remember that I'm back.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A week in my own

Everyone says to me: "But you're _from_ here! How can there be a culture shock? You're _from_ _here_!"

And then I sigh wearily (verily, I sigh) and try to change the issue. To a select few (two) I moan in deep detail about how I miss pavements (sidewalks) and queues. I miss buying cheap alcohol. I miss daily cupcake routines. I miss the folks, oh, I miss them so much. +44 calls make me _so_ happy. I miss the email chains that begin on a bored Monday morning - about Sanskrit poems, about Rumi, about burritos for lunch from the van, or Ram Guha's speech at LSE, or the chammak challo trainee's very short skirt. 

I said in my leaving email that I was sad to be leaving, but it was not nearly the truth. What I should have said, is that 2010 to 2012 made me a whole happy person. A very nice cheery mildly crazy happy person.  I really liked who I had become (whom?) and for the first time in a long time, I was so comfortable and happy that I didn't want to leave, as such.

Coming to Delhi is a forceful acknowledgment of Ubuntu-ness. It is a lot less about the I and a lot more about the we. In the sense that India can be a we. It has now been eight days and while I am not struggling, uncomfortable, or unhappy, I am thoughtful more than I was. Crazy less than I was.

I guess I used up all of the craziness in deciding to make the move.
I asked for an adventure, an intellectual powerhouse of an office, and a stable relationship time, and GODAMMIT I think I have it all.


 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Things to be grateful about

I won't lie to you, the past week has not been a very pleasant one. Every new discovery of a socio-political theory that seems to make sense wipes away, completely, current world view and leaves it with a more nuanced and gritty picture. At some point you need to take stock and stop, because there is too much information fatigue, too much passion fatigue, too much anger fatigue. Being a news junkie is heartbreaking some weeks, and this has been one of them.

I want to make a list of things to be grateful for before I go to sleep, and because I want to keep it real, it will likely be a short one.

1) Belief in utter awesomeness of self.
2) Choice of picking battles to fight.
3) Opportunities.
4) Sweets.

Monsoon grey

I'm sitting down with some paints and a sheet of blank paper. My current living room is a study in understated 90's elegance. Well, for a shell of an apartment, at least.

The floors are pale cream mosaic, the good kind. The walls are cream too, and the lighting is ornate. Furniture is sturdy and well made, some kind of sheeny expensive wood. There is no art on the walls, save a painting of cranes in the marshes - a blue and white soothing still life.

Amidst the mildy incongruous modern touches like a flat screen television, a space-agey heating device and an extravagantly crafted glass bowl centerpiece, there is a lamp that I have grown to love. A fishing pole meets the hunchback alien probe kind of lamp, strangely grounded in a hunk of marble.

On days like this, where the skies are monsoon grey, and the pool is limpid and quiet, and the fairy lights across the green areas are switched off, I pull one of the heavy chairs towards the lamp by the window, drag the side table so I can plonk my feet on it, and I feel a quiet happiness.


I wish you were here so you could be a part of this fleeting monsoon grey joy day. But wherever you are, I hope you are happy.

***
I don't really listen to much Coke Studio, but this one, which G has sent to me, is an excellent mid-afternoon rainy day song.

Sonu Kakkar and Vishal Dadlani - Coke Studio, Season 2, Episode 1: Madari

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Yar no more

I'm watching Star Trek: TNG and Yar just died! While I was a little shocked, I expected this, as I had already read plot synopses.  What I particularly liked was how simple and effective (and true-like) her death was.

This really isn't a morbid post, merely an observation.

Hello, is it me you're looking for?

Righto.

1) Firstly, I'm really sorry if you have me on Google Reader (why, why would you do that when this header and bloggy design are so pretty?) and I've 'published' about 131 posts today and you missed out on the important news-bloggy stories out there.

Anyway, calm down. I, even I, am not that prolific. They're re-posts (as you already know).

2) Secondly, I know I went away, but I couldn't write on my new secret blog on wordpress. It was a short-lived affair but I am back to my current and usual true love - blogspot bloggy.
(Also, I like tinkering around here better). Also, I heard you missed me. I missed me. So I had to come back by popular demand. Sigh - fandom.


3) Thirdly, like, have you been reading the news? What an AWFUL world we seem to live in. There's been way too much abuse and grief and sadness on the news for my liking. Only the Higgsteria made up for it. And Aung San Suu Kyi. And Santorum withdrawing (horrid man obssessed with vaginas and foetuses and uteruses). America - don't become the Knife of Never Letting Go.
(shudder)

4) Fourthly, I have been reading a lot. Feed by MT Anderson was brutal and honest in a way that little else I've read recently. Except Charles Stross's science fiction which I liked and then immediately unliked and you'll see why.

5) Fifthly, I have had a lot of time to think. Serious think. Like, I read Saturn's Children and I was like wtf is it with female sex robots and why tf do sci-fi writers write semi-porno-sadistic-abuse crap about them? (See below). I mean, is it because you won't be respectable if you write about semi-porno-sadistic abuse crap of male sex robots?  Why dude, why? And The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. Why talk about their perfect breasts and mango smooth skin and perpetuate body imagery that is patently illogical. WTF is mango smooth skin? And these books are insanely famous. Promethues, Hugo, Locus, Nebula - you name it they've been nominated.
This is not fiction. This is Cosmo + Fifty Shades of Grey.

And lets not even get into gaming and quizzing.

From Wiki, a little intro:

"Emiko is a Japanese-designed windup girl (a humanoid GM organism, used as a slave, and programmed to seek a master and obey him; windups call themselves "New People") abandoned by her Japanese master. As such, she is illegal in Thailand. Raleigh, a sex club owner, gives her some measure of safety by bribing the police to let her live, but at the price of forcing her to work in his club, where she is routinely abused and sexually humiliated." - The Windup Girl


 6) Sixthly, the internet is a wonderful place because there are so many important ways to say what you can about the issues that anger you. Like, you can ready about the Bechdel Test and then say: I will legally only own copies of stuff that passes the Bechdel Test. And you can tell people about it on-the-line :). How wonderful a place is the internet. Also I am now a wiki editor. And a news junkie; seriously, I've read SO much news in the past few months. I've also completely STOPPED buying hard copy books. Ok, if I go on in this rein, this blogpost will not end.

7) Seventhly, I have not been shoe-shopping at all. I have disavowed the excessive materialism which characterised my life for the past couple of years. I like my simple (non shoe-shopping life now). I thought I should tell you this, in case you thought I was buying every pair of flat happy open-toed shoes I could find here

8) Eightly, I am in Singapore - did you already know this? I can never go back to living in a non-sun non-swimming pool place anymore. There is also less Asian vegetarian food in Singapore than in London (also less cupcakes - sigh) so I have been cooking more and I am an excellent chef. Really truly. I am on a new crazy eating and exercise plan though so I haven't eaten a cupcake in about four months. I didn't even eat one when I found out about my new job - though I skipped the gym for 8 days in celebration.

9) Ninthly, I am going to need to make new friends because I will be moving to Delhi.
(Sad face * 453867)

10) Tenthly, hey, hello, gentle reader!!!! Are you well?

Distance, love and 437 emails


Sometimes that's all you need.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Who me? Busy?

Soul balm for Monday morning: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/

Note especially when he says:
“More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.”

And then he says what I believed all along, instead of the lies that this world fed me:

““The goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play. That’s why we have to destroy the present politico-economic system.” This may sound like the pronouncement of some bong-smoking anarchist, but it was actually Arthur C. Clarke, who found time between scuba diving and pinball games to write “Childhood’s End” and think up communications satellites. My old colleague Ted Rall recently wrote a column proposing that we divorce income from work and give each citizen a guaranteed paycheck, which sounds like the kind of lunatic notion that’ll be considered a basic human right in about a century, like abolition, universal suffrage and eight-hour workdays. The Puritans turned work into a virtue, evidently forgetting that God invented it as a punishment.”

*BEAMS*

There's been a lot of criticism and analysis of this post, but its a definite goodread.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Girls rule the world so shut up already

Maybe it’s the spate of dystopicky novels I’ve been reading, or the validly sci-fi ones which tend towards dystopic otherworld, or maybe it’s just Rick Santorum, I don’t know which – but everyone has an opinion about what women can or can’t do. I wouldn’t care much for talk like this, you know, the whole, you can’t kill people, you can’t nuke Palestine, you can’t move the Jews to Mexico (as Sheldon suggested) or the whole, yes you can, can, can can, side of things. Mostly I am plodding along in my own shell.

Very hypocritical, I know, but that’s what I do. I make mental adjustments to my ‘how to rule the world manual’ and then move along (and since I don’t even blog regularly anymore, I can’t even rage about it on bloggy!)

Except. Except. This week. This week. Its making me reiterate heavily, and splutter more than I have in months. And it made me angry. Yeah, that’s a big deal. I’ve been on this whole nothing, not even you Rush Limbaugh, can make me angry phase.

It’s been a beautiful few months – stop spoiling it by telling the world what you think women can and can’t do. Go fix your own life.

Monday, June 04, 2012

When one is mildly sick

(note to self)
Do NOT attempt to make microwave cookies. Such a thing does not exist.
(what a waste of a perfectly good Saturday Night.)

Friday, June 01, 2012

Many things have happened

Many things have happened:
For one, there isn’t a general one size fits all truth out there. So to those of whom I said, I’ll see you in the real world (because you know, the truth, you know is, like, out there, you know, like) – uhm, I didn’t find it, and I didn’t meet you in the real world.  Talk about spectacular let-downs.
Weirdly enough,  though I didn’t go looking for a specific truth, but a more well-defined, all rounded,  all encompassing- why am I on this planet-how do I save my soul and do I believe in rock and roll- type truth, I only learned a few important specific life truths. I did not learn any general truths.  I tend to reiterate a lot these days.
Truths from a half-year of travelling, city-hopping and non-blogging:
1) There will always be creepy crawly stuff in the water.  Swim/snorkel anyway.  If possible, do not read Matterhorn, it will make you forever incapable of training yourself to face leech ridden environments.
2) Smile at immigration officials.
3)  Ask and you will receive. 

***
Many things have happened:

Mostly good, very few not good. It has generally been an excellent of times.  Given such general all-round pleased-with-life-ness, I have made yet ANOTHER big decision.

And it is this: I guess I wanted something more fun.

This, this now and here, it doesn’t feel right. There’s always this sense of deprivation, no?
I want to roam streets if I feel like it at 3 pm. I want to be non-corporate. I don’t want to do timesheets. I want to read with the luxury of a lot of time. I want to make and drink a lot of tea. I want to wear orange clothes to work, shut down my computer at 6:00 pm and go out and learn a language or swim or bake or read a judgment or write!  If it rains, I want to go out and splash. I want to be wrapped up completely in my thoughts. 
I want to think.
I want to not sit at a computer all day. I want to be a veryusefulperson. I want to create and contribute.  I’d really like to set a goal and achieve it on my own. A big huge difficult goal. Not atention to detail – that is NOT my goal. NO NO NO NO NO.
I want to wake up and feel like there is a very definite reason why I am doing what I do. If I don’ t have that reason, I want to stop doing it – just like that – poof.  
***
Many things have happened:

Making the decision to quit is surprisingly easy. Making a decision to walk away from some parts of your life, a windy city, a few impossibly good and close friends, a darling flatmate, cupcakes, artisanal coffee, possibilities of grey winter coats with a just-right neck flap, boots, very short clothes and yellow fluffy cardigans, the freedom that comes with a tube pass, a life of unexpected discovery and minor adultifying inconveniences; walking away from all of this is not easy, but it is not impossible either.  So I have decided to walk away.
Walking away from someone else is also not impossible but nearly not as pleasant and bittersweet or fluffy. So I have not. I have walked back in.
The next few months, I will upheave myself all over again. (Again, dammit, again). I will move cities and phone numbers and archive parts of my wardrobe and fill it with transient fabrics once again. Before that, I will have to travel some more, shop in abandon, jump continents, embrace jet-lag, say good-byes, plan and attend a wedding, say hello to agents and landlords, and start all over. I don’t wear a watch anymore. I wear hats and dance with myself in my apartment. I have a new laptop (Macky). I’ve decided I love swimming. I’m in doubtful love. My life is organised to within an inch and I have perfected the smile of mild condescension. I want to scream with happiness. I listen to Caro Emerald and Mogwai and Groove Armada. Othertimes, I’m probably SNSD’s biggest Indian fan.

Some afternoons, I begin to write cover letters and update a resume and this song comes on and I purr.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The truth is out there

So, I'll see you in the real world, yes?  :)

Yes. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Socks shall be holy, Souls shall be healed

Somedays Poemhunter really outdoes itself.

The Place Where Socks Go

There's a place where socks go
when the washing is done
and the driers have dried
and the spinners have spun
and it's past eight o'clock
and there's no one about
and the launderette's locked—
then the odd socks come out.
There is hosiery here
of each pattern and hue—
some plain, striped or spotted,
some black, red or blue—
some wom only once,
some so old they have formed
to exactly the shape
of the foot they once warmed—
some were brought back from Sock Shops
in airports in France,
some were hideous presents
from matronly aunts—
but in all their variety
one thing is shared:
to the place where socks go
they will not go pre-paired.
Then the odd socks remaining
are placed in the chest
(They must turn up sometime
now where was that vest...?)
and new socks come at Christmas
and birthdays bring more
and the old lie, alone,
at the back of the drawer.
And maybe, one evening
when memory is low,
they too slip away
to the place where socks go
and in silent reunion,
each one with its pair,
they join in the dance
with the other things there—
the letters unanswered,
the calls not returned,
the promises broken,
the lessons not learned,
the lost afternoons,
the appointments unmade,
the best of intentions,
the debts never paid,
and the friends not kept up
and the others let down—
in the ragbag of conscience
they waltz sadly round,
beyond the respite
of the washing machine,
no amount of detergent
can now get them clean
till that day when all laundry
is washed white as snow,
and everyone's tumbled
and soft soap must go,
when nothing is hidden
but all is revealed
and socks shall be holy
and souls shall be healed.

Godfrey Rust

Monday, January 23, 2012

Directions

Its been a long time since I've read a witty, thoughtful quote that did not originate on Twitter. Thanks Shruthi  - for pointing this one out.

***

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there." Rumi.


***
I want to add, "Bring cookies."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Roses?

A transactional lawyer's ode:

Markups are red
Outlook is blue
I am busy
So are you.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Moustache tales.

Appa is growing his moustache again!

I'd like to believe that my father is the most good-looking, charming person in our family (until I), and the moustache (which I've never seen him without) only added to his charm and general sense of wholesomeness. I could never imagine appa without a moustache, and I didn't know how attached he was to it, till he sat my cousin down, when he started to grow facial hair, to advise him on the merits of having a moustache. :)

And then October 2009 happened and Appa had to shave his moustache. Later, every few weeks I would say to him, "So, are you going to re-grow the moustache?"
It takes the attention off of the bald-head I reasoned, it makes you look evil if you don't have one, I insisted and your face looks angrier, I told him, without the moustache.

He refused stubbornly, every single time. And I let it go after about eight months or so. We have moved to griping about weightier issues.

Today, I saw him on skype after two weeks, and he'd re-grown his moustache. There really isn't a story to spin here, an elegant recorded moment of bereavement humour or even a note of poignant shock for three seconds when I opened that video call window.

I'm just very very happy.

As hard as it has been for me to [.] my mother, it has been infinitely more difficult for my dad to have [.] her. Our struggles in dealing with the events of Oct 2009 are similar, but our contexts are vastly different. I cry when an email from her email id shows up in gmail search results, but he finds old love letters from when they were engaged while spring cleaning. My cupboard in London is thankfully memory-free, but he shares his cupboard space with a set of shelves that used to hold blouses and matching saree petticoats, but now hold bed linen and spare towels. I carry around in my jewellery box a ring that my mother bought for me once, but its well hidden and mostly obscured by crap from Oasis and Topshop. My dad though, glances at the dressing table at home everyday, which still holds a half-empty bottle of perfume (the maid sweetly picking it up, cleaning the table, and placing it in the same place as she has been instructed to do). The mirror has a bindi she stuck on it the last time she was able to walk to the bathroom and shower by herself, but in London, I have no sticker bindis in the shape she used to favour.

And so we struggle, in everyday bits and pieces and we have been getting better, but there are days when I have felt that only I was getting better and my dad, in that house, in that city, in that bedroom and that kitchen, was never able to move on as I have.

Today I am just happy.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Coin flip

In a few months I shall perhaps be seconded from London to another city. However, I shall not be alone, for the office usually has around eight of us go to 'aforementioned another city'. There are detailed information guides for the secondment made available, which dictate all manner of suitable office practice, provide cultural information, urge insurance advice, send us examples of filled-in immigration forms and collate frequently asked questions, and even unvoiced but definitely prevalent thoughts. Generally speaking, I feel like we are in capable hands.

In the matter of apartment choosing however, we are left to our own devices.

Residential accommodation includes the following: 1) A two-bed apartment; 2) A three bed apartment (Apt A); and 3) A three bed apartment (Apt B).

Amongst  the eight of us, we have exchanged 53 pleasant emails , decided who will be flatmates with whom, drawn up two tables (don't you love outlook?), and exchanged polite preferences. While the choice of the flatmates was not contentious (being split along gender lines:  to avoid a girl having to put up with the smell of testosterone, red meat and questionable personal hygiene), and neither was the occupancy of the two bed flat, the remaining two sets of three voiced a preference for Apt A over Apt B.

After further discussion, I was pleased to receive this email from a future flatmate, where she exhibited prodigious drafting skills by stating: From what I can see on Google Maps– both flats seem to be relatively near to each other and the office, but in the interests of fairness (so both groups won't have any regrets) and the avoidance of any possible future conflict (though this is probably very unlikely), I think we should flip a coin and see who fate favours.


Sadly, we did not flip a coin to decide who will flip THE coin, but  the careful solving of social problems through a randomly generated win-loss paradigm makes me very happy.

***
On the train from a Buddhist temple to Angel, I learnt about the origins of Bose-Einstein statistics, from Sroyon also in the context of coin-flipping, though his explanation (precisely stated) and the little paragraph on Wikipedia left me slightly more puzzled than it should have.  I shall aim to understand it better someday.

***
I always thought coins had the exact same 'phrase of major importance' inscribed on them and even on their edges), but it appears they do not, atleast, not in the United Kingdom. I made this discovery in the previous six month seat, where the whole group would enthusiastically contribute two pounds to the lottery pool for the Euromillions lottery draw. Evidently, we did not win (for there may have been a hint of this news on bloggy here).  We were not even mildly successful. In fact, we were not successful at all. Still, every two weeks we persevered. (And occasionally we wondered what we would each do if we won 50 million (split between thirty or so people, after taxes, it was a paltry sum of (approximately) 1.2 million and some change per person).

Anyway, the Wikipedia page about the one pound coin occupied me for a rather pleasant half-hour that day and it suddenly came to mind today as I have been thinking about coins.

I shall go home and see if I have a one-pound coin that resembles the description below (so I can hold on to it as my own personal measure of inflation):

2010: Coat of Arms of Belfast
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2010, starting below, IRB directly under the bust.
Reverse: Circular Coat of Arms of Belfast, BELFAST above at top, ONE and POUND around each side of the Shield. Small Coats of Arms of the other 3 capital cities of the UK in the intended set along bottom (left to right; Edinburgh, London, Cardiff)
Edge inscription: PRO TANTO QUID RETRIBUAMUS ("For so much, what shall we give in return?" – the Latin motto of Belfast). 

***
As on 22 December 2011 : a pack containing 14 pieces of sugar-free chewing gum. Or a half-pint of milk and some peanut candy. Or, 158 pieces of the (fighter of flatulence and director of digestion), Hajmola Chulbuli Imli candy (from India).