Things about VC that I never want to forget #14

24 Apr

Things about VC that I never want to forget #14
VC is the strangest foodie I know

Back in the day when VC was trying to get to know me, rather than trying to get in my pants, we spent enormous amounts of time at various coffee shops talking a lot of rubbish. Some times when I think back, certain conversation pop back at me, and I wonder what in God’s name made me go ahead and stick around. Heh. Like the time he asked me my star-sign.

“Taurean,” I said.

“Oh, so you’re a foodie,” came his nonchalant response. So smooth. And unplanned. (Not.)

Wha?

Apparently Linda Goodman told him so, he was not afraid to tell me.

And I remember thinking fuck, I’m with a boy who reads (and believes) Linda effing Goodman. Help.

Of course my shock was compounded by the fact that 1) back then, I was not half the foodie I am now 2) he didn’t know if I was really a foodie, so what was he trying to get at?! (the answer is obvious now, but I was playing hard to get then, remember?) 3) maybe he was just trying to put his cards out and check for compatibility. Because he is quite the foodie. Back then, it was defined as loves to go out and eat greasy, rich food. Today, he lives it in a more finetuned form. As in he loves a good meal, revels in trying new delicacies and enjoys experimenting in the kitchen.

Food — whether we’re eating it, talking about it or wishing for it — is one of the big loves we share together. Despite the stark, fundamental differences in our tastes, we manage to get wide-eyed with wonder about trying out a creepy sounding new thing, or get equally excited about scoping out a hole in the wall in a new place we’re visiting, or find the same amount of joy in a Sunday spent cooking. Even as he curls his nose away from dal every time I make it, and doesn’t believe in eating some curd every day (like I do, of course!) we manage to see eye to eye on some, if not all, things.

So yes, he is quite the foodie, but sometimes I just think he is a misguided foodie. He likes to think his tastes are totally normal. He likes to think they’re a little refined, for my liking, but entirely acceptable in his mind. I just think his tastes are random, don’t follow a pattern and are downright over-the-top.

You ask the man a simple question, “Rice or rotis for lunch?” and it’s perfectly normal to have him respond with a request for smoked salmon or something equally outrageous and totally not available in my kitchen on a random Monday morning.

VC-foodie

He loves the Kannadiga rasam/saaru I make, but loathes a simple dal. Even though the difference is just the addition of rasam powder and tamarind. He loves paneer in gravy form, but scramble it in a burjee and he wont touch it with a bargepole. How does that work? I don’t know how, but you get the drift.

He is mighty grateful for the fact that the wife he married five years ago, who claimed she couldn’t even boil a pot of water, now willingly cooks and delivers him hot lunch day after day, a habit he is quite happy to have cultivated. He claims it makes him feel healthy to eat home-cooked food, and since what goes in the box is up to me, he has come to expect a fair share of salad, sabji, some baked goodies and all those things my mommy told me were good for me, that VC grew up without ever tasting — like a daily dose of curd, random raw veggies, sprouts every now and then, South Indian tiffin masquerading as a meal, etc.

Predictably, a hot lunch delivered at the office attracts more eyeballs than VC anticipated. With most people longing for home-cooked meals, its hard to dig in to a box of piping hot ghar ka khana, even if the box isn’t yours. So many weeks of sharing, and feeling slightly less than full at the end of it, he came up to me one evening with a very sincere request.

“Can you make something that tastes really sexy, but that looks like shit so people wont dig in every time I open my box?”

Yes, with that delectable visual image of a brief to work with, I quickly dashed into the kitchen, rustled up something super fast, and emerged with a delicious meal for my husband to enjoy all by himself.

I’m lying. I couldn’t do it. He probably got nothing for lunch that day.

The other strange thing about VC is his fixed ideas about tastes and food. He has a strong aversion to overpowering spices and aromatics. For someone who loves (and I lean lurrrrves!) Asian food, I couldn’t wrap my head around his hatred for ginger and garlic. I tried not telling him how much of it is probably in his Thai curry, lest he give it up altogether.

vc-foodie2

You know Murphy’s law about the thing you hate most always ending up in your plate? VC is always the one to get the lone pod of cardamom, the single clove or cinnamon stick that I try and discretely disguise in my pulao or biryani. It’s like the damn spices seek him out!

So recently, when he was cooking me some fried fish and was grating away happily with a little piece of ginger, and making the marinade smell insanely yummy, I raised my eyebrows and asked, “Wow VC, you do know that’s ginger, right?”

To which he sheepishly responded, with a hint of a grin, “I think you should sit down for this one.”

But before the look of worry to sweep over my face completely, he finished his sentence, “I am beginning to really like the flavour of ginger.”

He was right, I should have sat down for that one, because the surprise mixed with joy was too much to handle. Because it meant there was yet another thing I didn’t need to sneak in and hide in my cooking anymore.

When there’s usual non-fancy grub VC has a small appetite. I end up eating more than him on most days. He doesn’t do seconds unless it’s something super-duper awesome he has to give in to gluttony. I have always admired his restraint when it comes to rice. He always stops at one helping, while I go back for seconds and then a wee third to mop up with curd. Then I realised he just didnt care too much for rice. But there is the odd time he can turn into a belter, and I am usually equally amazed at the demonic levels of gluttony that suddenly get unlocked. So amazed that I worry when I see him walking around post-meal, with a troubled look on his face, unable to hold his belly up.

One such time, he decided to give up and rushed off to lie down in order to feel better. He couldn’t bear waiting five-ten whole minutes for the food to slide down his gullet and low enough into his digestive tract to feel like it had settled. I rushed in to tell him not to lie flat so soon after eating, and a pained VC begged, ” But I’m SO full. Too full to stand. Can’t I walk for two minutes instead of standing for ten minutes? It should speed it up no?”

Er, try telling that to the egg curry and rice you belted at breakneck speed and maybe it will comply.

So much to poke fun at, fawn over and cherish amongst all the other nonsense and wisdom that comes out of his mouth. Around here I behave like the enlightened foodie. The one that has it all right, just waiting to expound the whys and hows of taste and flavour to VC. Sometimes, he takes it seriously. Sometimes he surprises me. For someone who couldn’t go one week without eating out, who’s confused taste-buds and skewed foodie upbringing have been such a source of entertainment for me, for someone who didn’t think he could enjoy ghar ka khaana and only turned to it because there was little option, he really surprises me.

An unplanned experiment saw us eating at home for three months, with an average of one restaurant meal a month, at the start of this year. I didn’t realise just how much time had passed this way, until VC said to me one day, “I don’t think I like eating in restaurants as much anymore. It’s just always nicer at home.”

That, is the sound of victory for a home-cook who is always trying to get better and beat the foodie demons out of the kitchen.

vc-foodie3

So yes, it might have all started seven years ago with questions about star signs and possible foodie-ness. Yes, Linda Goodman might have some part to play in all of this. Yes he’s a funny foodie, the strangest one I know. He’s got a twisted sense of taste. Yes, I make so much fun of it all. But he’s quite alright, this chap, you know?

****

Apart from his love for food, VC has an uncanny love for work, all things Apple and, umm, me! There’s more shenanigans in the stack I like to call Things About VC I Never Want to Forget!

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Life’s a beach

23 Apr

Much as it might seem like I am the cool girl, living the peachy-beachy life, with a visit to the sea-side every day, glorious sunset watching, beer drinking and a myriad other hipster beachy things to punctuate my days, the truth is I don’t take advantage of the outdoors in Goa nearly as much as I should. Living here is different from holidaying here, and I suppose it is normal for life to take over. It makes sense for things to fall into their natural framework and that doesn’t usually include a daily beach jaunt. Thank God for that, because I’d never get any work done, if I had the opportunity (and the willingness) to lounge on a deck chair seven days a week. I suspect I might also get a little bored of it, at some point.

Life isn’t really a beach all the time, even though I sometimes say it is. So it is extremely refreshing when friends come to town, because its a ready-made excuse to get out and be tourists on home-ground. I have come to loathe doing the really touristy stuff that I once did every trip down to Goa, so it is even more refreshing to have like-minded friends visit us, even more so when they were once Goa-immigrants themselves. So when Shashank came a visiting, I had no idea what the week held.

As usual nobody had any concrete plans, things would be freewheeling and I decided to go on vacation too. A staycation of sorts. Turned off regular life and work, and took off doing all the simple things that our lives in Goa once included. Lunching at old haunts, indulging in one too many intoxicants, getting sinful stoner-special desserts just like the old days, listening to good old music and basically doing all the things we used to, when he lived here not so long ago. It was a week of pretending like nothing had changed, so we lounged around, watched a good share of movies, cooked, cycled around and then even took off for two days to the beach farthest away from us.

There was pretty much something new to do every day, and it just kept getting better. Each day progressively killed it in terms of fun and memorability — something that’s so hard to do with just about anybody. So for one week, at just the time I needed it, I did get a shot at the peachy-beachy life, with a visit to the sea-side every day, glorious sunset watching, beer drinking and a myriad other hipster beachy things to punctuate it. And it was the best kind of break I could have had, without having to travel too far, without having to constantly do things and be social.

It’s easy when your friends believe in the same kind of things to make a break, a good break.

Spotted at a cash counter in a shack. And yes, the No-Smoking sign was missing.

Spotted at a cash counter in a shack. And yes, the No-Smoking sign was missing.

It was impossible to skip the Anand Bar rice plate. Even though prices have increased and this thali is now Rs 90 (as opposed to 60 bucks about a year ago), it is still 100% value for money, with 100% flavour and seriously packs a punch in terms of satisfaction. There was also a Maaza on the side. Election day was a dry day, and we were quite happy to go, er, dry.

Picture courtesy: Shashank

Satisfaction in a plate, is this. Picture courtesy: Shashank

We took off to an unnamed beach around mid-week, which is to say we didn’t know exactly where we were headed. Just rove out as far north as we could get away from pesky tourists, and as close as civilization still permits shacks, restaurants and life to persist. Not that we needed much, and thankfully the season seems to be pulling the curtains down earlier this year.

Bang in the middle of the afternoon we found ourselves on a sweeping wide stretch of empty beach. At times like that I don’t even need conversation.

Empty, empty beach.

Empty, empty beach.

The weather had miraculously turned pleasant for a couple of days, so even though it was sunny, there was a light breeze, a couple of beach beds and beers in our hands. Perfect to just do your own thing, so I finished a book and took a looooong nap.

Have I mentioned how much I love the Kindle app?

Have I mentioned how much I love the Kindle app?

I woke up in time to catch just enough time to sneak in a long swim, before the sun set. Since it was a couple of days after the biggest full moon I have seen in a while, the sea was mad-rough and not really swim-able, but this time of the year the water is just that perfectly tepid temperature which is just so right to loll about and gather sand in places sand must never go.

It didn’t help that the 600-rupee hut we rented had no bathroom door. Just a curtain separating the room from the bathroom. Wow how fancy, we thought. Inside though, the bathroom had a geyser and hot water. There’s always room for surprise in Goa.

April skies have this peculiar way of staying grey and muggy, hot and dull for the most part, and when you’re least expecting, it can go from lifeless to this in five minutes flat.

This happened at sunset.

Watching the sun go down, of course.

Watching the sun go down, of course.

Dinner was had at a quaint little Italian restaurant, that I highly recommended, but unfortunately fell short of even my own expectations. But little things some times make up for minor disappointments. Like this heart-shaped chilli-chocolate in the spiced chocolate-fondant that I had for dessert.

Gotto love that.

Gotto love that.

It was small, spicy, chocolate-y and made my dinner worth it.

Food is usually a big part of our gatherings. I’ve said it before, I was at my fattest, unhealthiest best when I was around these boys I’d eat, drink and indulge like one of them, forgetting that my metabolism was slowing down while they were in the prime of their youth. Of course a lot has changed since then, but it was nice to regress a little bit, to indulge and to not feel so hopelessly unhealthy about it.

Instagram junkies.

Instagram junkies.

Massive, late breakfasts were only made better when Niko (who owned the breakfast place) agreed to whip a scoop of homemade gelato into a shake for each of us. Salted butter caramel for me and Old Monk and raisin for Shashank. With eggs, bacon, caramelised onion and random bhajans blaring from the temple next door, brunch was…interesting, to say the least.

A fair share of movies were watched on days when the heat caught up and we’d retreat quite indoors unconsciously, lounging around. I watched The Armstrong Lie (which piqued my interest in the hugsband’s newest hobby), re-watched Gangs of Wasseypur, something else I can’t remember now and of course the customary Coke Studio video watch, as always.

Aside from catching all our favourite meals (not leaving out one Thai dinner, that fish thali, one Goan breakfast of bun-bhaji and a visit to the chorice-pao adda) we also cooked at home a bit. Beef biryani was attempted.

Biryani nights.

Biryani nights.

And conquered.

It was beyond delicious and far exceeded my expectations. My first time buying and cooking beef, I wasn’t sure of cooking time, consistency or tenderness. SInce I was also winging a version of a new recipe, a mishmash of a few things I found online, I was doubly unsure. But in the end it worked out fabulously and I’m going to be repeating this one many times.

With the gym on holiday and the intake going up so much, you’d be surprised to know we also sneaked in some exercise. I lounged around most days, while Shashank managed to diligently go for a run every evening. One day I gave in to temptation and joined him on a cycle ride. My first.

A consequence of watching the Lance Armstrong movie and having an extra cycle.

A consequence of watching the Lance Armstrong movie and having an extra cycle.

But definitely not the last. I think I’ve been bitten by the bug and I see what makes VC wake up at 6 am every morning and take off the way he does (even on weekends!) while I snore away till past 7 am.

Even though we got so much done in a week, it didn’t feel hectic. It was peaceful and easy, just the way it should be between friends. There was ample conversation with enough space and silence (I’m getting really old with my love for silence), and there was good food and drink, there was chatter and laughter — too much of it, and there was random roaming around town in a way that doesn’t happen very often when you live here.

That is how a surprise holiday happened. A good break ensued. And a good time was had.

I’m at a time in my life where my circle of kinship shrinks every week, with fewer people seeming interesting, and even fewer people to share things in common with, it’s not everyday that a holiday of this kind ends up being fun. I have friends visiting Goa very often, and I only really have a complete blast with approximately 1% of them. Distance. Has a lot to do with it. The relationships you keep over distances, often shock you with how much people change in real life. The surprise is jarring when you meet again, and sometimes it can be downright unbearable, up close and personal.

It could be that we’re all constantly evolving, and the people we are online, on whatsapp, and in our interactions are not really who we are at any given point in time. So when distances suddenly collapse and you’re face to face with the person you’ve so far been madly text-frands with, chances are you might be rudely shocked by how awkward the apparent differences are. My need for space, silence, solitude invariably gets in the way. Where friends want constant conversation, frenetic activity (like it is online, your usual medium of communication), I invariably want to cut back once my threshold of togetherness has been crossed. Where friends want to go roaming to the beach, I want to just kick back with a beer and a book, just anywhere. You get the drift?

Distance is quite the game-changer these days. Absence makes all the difference. And yet some times there are friends you don’t necessarily have to be in touch with every day, and yet you know that if opportunity arises and you happen to meet again, you will have a chilled out and good time. It seems there’s room to be surprised. Because it was good to hang out with a friend who is similar in most ways. Someone I out-talked, for a change :P someone who is okay just chilling out alone, or doing things without necessarily making a big-ass plan or dragging along the entire community. Such a contrast to similar situation I had in February, which turned out to be borderline-traumatic and resulted in yet another fall out with an old friend.

Lots of maniacal laughter and fun later, as I wind down and try and get out of the staycation state of mind, I look back at the week and feel that happy buzz of rekindled joy, re-fuelled memories and the promise of more to come.

Edited to add: It’s ironic that the last time I made a Goan getaway like this was almost the same time, last year. With the same folks. I guess that’s a tick mark for my my annual Goa exploration.

What I’m reading

22 Apr

Time spent on the interwebz is a constantly fluctuating thing with me. There are weeks of unplanned abstinence, with getting online reserved only for uploading/sending off work stuff, while life goes on offline. I think the internet woes of the past six months weaned me off a fair bit. It’s hard to stay online when there’s a cake that needs baking, a garden that’s waiting to be watered, and a workout to rush off to. Travels and visiting friends tend to take you out of the house and into the world. All told, I haven’t been reading too much online these days. I access feedly on my iPad, and one fine day I noticed I have been serially marking most blogs on my bursting-at-the-seams list “read” quite thoughtlessly. Just ticking them off without reading them, save for a handful that I  click through to. I don’t know when I had accumulated 180+ blogs, even though I seemed so disinterested in following up on most of them. That’s a hoarder for you.

So I did what any borderline obsessive-compulsive person would do. I sat down and sorted out my reading list. I filtered all my blogs down. In true OCD fashion, my feedly has categories and sub-categories. Amongst my favourite sections, I noticed I had more mommy blogs than food blogs — haha! I wasn’t reading 80% of both sections, so I stripped it all down to just the ones I hungrily hop over to and visit, the ones I wait for days on end to find a shiny new update. I’m now down to a dozen+ food blogs and 2 mommy blogs. I realised I’m not so much into fancy writing when it comes to personal blogs, much like I’m not into glitzy over-styled food photography when it comes to food blogs. Simple makes me happy. Simple makes me go back for more.

Suddenly feedly felt light and sparse, and I asked around for reccos. New, interesting stuff I could add in, because I think a big reason for mass-ticking everything read was because I have outgrown most of the blogs I had accumulated. I do not revel in reading about the minutiae of peoples lives as much, the only food blogs that make me long to go back are those that have honest stories to go with the recipes and food rather than just a super styled picture of what was made for dinner on any given day. Mommy blogs that were once fascinating and simple have now become tiresome and many, sanctimonious. News and current affairs don’t seem to go beyond the elections.

Boring, overall. But here’s a few new finds that I have enjoyed over the past few months. The few blogs I added discreetly, and the few websites I don’t gloss over but actually go look, read, mull-over and share. This is what I’ve been reading:

Peppercorns in my Pocket: This is Pia’s wonderful world of nostalgia, food, stories from the life of her Chotto-ma. It comes with a lot of simple, honest writing, a generous pinch of good books, heart-warming food and some gorgeous pictures. Also, she’s from the world of advertising, like me, and I think that drew me in in some part.

A Brown Table: Quite simply, this is a food and photo journal. There’s usually a story for every post, but it is short, simple, to the point and the recipe and pictures do most of the talking. I admire those who can chisel away at their blogs on a daily basis, without letting things go stale or sound pretentious — and Nik is one of them. Also SO frequently updated, with a lot of do-able stuff. AND he has an adorable dog!

Enzo the Baker: I was fascinated by this blog that was apparently started by two people when they lived in separate cities. I thought it was a wonderful idea, because food really does shrink distances and shorten time for me. This is a fairly new find off the Homegrown list that I was also featured on, but one that I quickly added onto feedly knowing well that I would always go back for more. Gorgeous simple pictures, home-cooked food and bakes — totally up my alley.

Ashish Shakya: You probably already read and guffaw at this blog, because Ashish’s columns are really widely circulated on every social network around. The thing that always makes me want to click and read every update is that he is as OTT as he is relevant. If there were ever something that combined the two, Ashish’s blog is it. Ridiculous happenings in our country, meets popular culture meets film and TV updates, meets politics, meets a hilarious commentary on the life and times of our society. After years of reading him whenever I stumbled on a link shared by someone, I decided it was time to add him in.

Newslaundry: If like every other Indian, you’re sick and tired of the news churned out on TV and in the papers, Newslaundry is a good place to go take a break. In their own words, its a website where the world of news turns a mirror on itself. Where sabki dhulai happens as you watch it. Whether its an interview with idiots like Subramanian Swamy or a refreshing take on why the election isn’t a total wash-out — I’ve found a lot of interesting, entertaining and eye-opening content on this website. Also, plenty videos on the section called TeeVee — which is such a good medium for news.

The Ladies Finger: A new women’s magazine that’s equal parts light-hearted and fun as well as thoughtful, issue-based and sincere. Their about page had me hooked with the words: Pop Culture. Health. Sex. Fun. Music. Books. Cinema. We do vaanthi. We like kranti. We write what we want to read.
Also, cool name no?!

That’s not all I’m reading though. In the last few weeks I have finished High Fidelity, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and am now reading The Gifts of Imperfection. All loved, all devoured and must be written about as soon as I can get myself out of this holiday hangover.

Which holiday hangover?

This one.

hangover

Link love

16 Apr

Oh, hey!

If you’re still here reading, thanks for sticking around and bearing with my repeated disappearances. I have an open tab next door with a half-written post, my thoughts on Bangalore, writing in peace and the summer since. A post I began typing out a week ago, but ever since I got back I’ve been on vacation mode. My editor went absconding, a friend arrived on the weekend and I have spent my days being a semi-tourist in my own city. In addition to stripping my reader down to the bare minimum and switching almost wholly to reading on the ipad, I opened up my laptop after a week today — a luxury I am planning to make a habit.

But I came back to share a couple of links. Before I wrote that post about feeling a little miffed at constantly being questioned about the working of my reproductive system, hormones and my views on what I plan to do with it all, I felt incredibly alone. I hadn’t met too many women who expressed that babies are not really a priority in their lives, and everywhere I looked, nobody really shared or understood why I was so annoyed every time someone mocked, joked or made a fuss about the lack of babies in my life.

Reading a Thought Catalogue article about something similar, made me feel less alone, and writing my own post even more so. But when Women’s Web decided to post it on their website, and I heard from so many women via comments on the blog and on facebook, on their page my own — I feel less isolated in feeling this way.

There is a different kind of joy in connecting with strangers over very personal feelings, no?

And while we’re on the topic of media loving and sharing, Hungry and Excited and Haathi were featured on here on Homegrown. Aside from some glaring, inexcusable errors (and the fact that there seems to be zilch “writing” involved on the part of the writer who wrote the piece), I was happy to be featured amongst some of the people I have read and admired.

Read, chew, share.

And meanwhile, here’s a few things I’ve been busy with.

beach1

beach2

theatre2

theatre1

mango1

I’ll be back.
xoxx

Internet finds

2 Apr

I’ve been home for a little over 4 days now. With 5 more to go, this has been one of the longest trips I’ve made away from Goa. Apart from copious amounts of home-cooked food, filter coffee, lots of movies watched sandwiched between my parents and getting a decent amount of writing done, I am guzzling in the Internet.

I’m not sure if just having a faster connection makes these things pop out at me, or it was just a case of good timing, but I have seen a fair amount of interesting Internet-ty stuff that I thought I should share them here.

The reason I’m sitting here in Bangalore to get some writing done is because I have been struggling with getting into the habit of making time for myself. Some how the things that don’t have a deadline, are not for anyone else but me, and that don’t have any immediate outcome always seem to get pushed out of sight and out of mind. I have been trying hard to cultivate the habit of putting away some time to chisel away at these easy-to-forget goals, a little at a time on a daily basis. This article says there is a science to fixing a habit. Also pretty doable, I see myself trying some of it out.

Jamie Oliver has always been my number one kitchen inspiration, more for his free-spirit attitude to life which comes out loud and clear not just in the way his food looks and tastes, but the way he cooks it. This video cracked me up. I knew he was always a bit of an eccentric nutter, but I didn’t think he could sing and pull off a music video. About fish stew. ’nuff said.

Every trip to Bangalore opens my eyes to a kind of frenzied consumption that I am still somewhat protected from, living in Goa. Our first “mall” opened 2 years ago, and it is a joke considering how far malls and organised centres of consumption have come in most other cities. While I do sometimes miss the conveniences, I have realised in recent times that the lack of it has forced me to work my life around it. This article on wealth addiction really scared me, because I realise there are so many people I know who suffer from it in varying degrees. Maybe “addiction” is a strong word to use, but the constant frenzy to amass wealth and buy stuff is overwhelming, when I visit home and invariably walk into a mall (which I do, no matter how hard I try and avoid it, because it seems there is no other place for people to just meet and hang out anymore).

I think moving to New Orleans has fueled something in that corner of Joy The Baker’s mind, where her fabuloulsy tongue-in-cheek writing comes from. She has been on a roll lately and I’ve shared a couple of things on the H&E page already, so sharing this one here. Fool’s Day meets general mockery of the oh-so-serious world of food blogging right here in this chuckle-worthy post that I loved. There’s nothing like laughing at yourself, when you’re trying so hard to get it right, that you’ve forgotten why you began!

VC and I have been really taking up the ante with home-cooking, and have cut down eating out to almost once or twice a month, which is a long way from our days of eating out a minimum of two times a week. For more reasons than just health, cooking at home has started to make sense and is becoming my go-to in the most unimaginable situations. So this video that makes a simple point about how cooking at home is not just good for you but can change your life, really hit home.

Related to that is this article on how cooking food could very well save the world. Michael Pollan is known for his radical views, but it’s hard to refute the things he says when it is backed up by logic and empirical data about the history of food and how we have been made to consume it.

This series of watercolour illustrations bring to life several kinds of women. I’m pretty sure you will see yourself in multiple pages, as I did myself. Took me back to this post by DewDropDream.

And because I’m always bookmarking delicious finds this Danish Braid with Jam and this loaf of Chocolate Bread are begging to be made as soon as I am back in my kitchen.

But until then, I’m off to get some more work done.

Things about VC that I never want to forget #13

29 Mar

Things about VC that I never want to forget #13
VC lives to work. And works to live.

If you’ve read this blog long enough you’ll know that the love of my life is this creature I call VC. AKA the hugsband around here. If you’ve read this blog long enough, you’ll probably also know that the love of his life, is his work.

There are some kinds of people who are driven by a passion to steer their careers in precisely the direction they want to. They know right from the start where they want to be, and they get on with it without wasting any time. VC is one of them. Then there are people like me. We start off wanting one thing and then we change our minds every six months or so. Along the way, we are distracted by books, boys, beaches, baking and the like. And six years down the line we might even decide we’ve had enough, chuck it all and stay at home to explore this world of books, boys, beaches and baking — because well, we still can’t decide what exactly we want from life. Career-wise at least.

Clearly VC isn’t anything like me. Because he lives, breathes and dreams work. Calling him a workaholic is an injustice. Even though I’ve done it before, mocked him for being that way, and even cribbed more often that I’m willing to admit, the truth is he is one of the most passionate people I know.

There aren’t too many others I know who take their work as seriously as VC does. Often forgetting his home, his wife, his family in Bangalore and losing himself to an excel sheet, a campaign, a meeting or whatever it is at hand, VC is all-in, once he commits himself to something. I have always kept work separate from life, never been able to mix the two. So this is something to admire with wide eyed wonder. For VC, work is life. And while I have given him a lot of grief about it in the past, I have grown to accept and now even respect this about him. Because I realise, from my experience as well as that of others around me that it takes a special kind of commitment to be that dedicated and motivated to something outside of yourself.

Most of my inclinations and passions are very rooted in me and my needs. Selfishly so, they are all about me, my satisfaction, my fulfillment, my betterment. And this is probably why I have always considered my work as just something that facilitates the other things in life that give me satisfaction and fulfillment, but never as the thing that can give me that satisfaction. It has never been, and probably will never be, my raison d’etre. For VC, his passion for his work, the commitment he brings to it and the drive he manages to dig out from unknown depths is what makes him who he is.

When he is at work, he is 100% absorbed. I don’t remember the last time I saw him have a bad day that caused him to be less involved or distracted or uninterested. None of the excuses I made so often, having an off day, not feeling all-there and the like, seem to exist in his mind and vocabulary.

He walks and he talks work. Which is why, when I ask him on a Monday what he’d like for lunch in the next few days to follow he says to me, without batting an eyelid, “How about I email you a menu?”

Another time, he bought a new pair of pants that needed altering, he asked me, “Where can I get these edited?”

He even sleeps and dreams work, because there was that one time he woke me up in the middle of the night still half-asleep, nudged me, pointed to my blanket and said, “Can I get a copy of that please?” A story he was also pretty amused about.

Clearly, I should be used to it by now, but imagine my shock when in the midst of a particularly unpleasantly stressful time at work I asked him to spare an hour or two at home to help me crack a few ideas, and he suggested we go out on a date. Over dinner, on scraps of tissue paper, he scrawled out elaborate diagrams and explained the 5-step creative process to help me crack ideas on my own. Our meal was punctuated by pop-questions, hypothetical situations that I had to then work my way around, and mock business problems that I was to have a crack at. Yes, that was his idea of a date.

*eyeroll*

Mostly this is fodder for me to make fun of him. But then there comes a day like today, when he returns home beaming. It’s been 6-8 weeks of non stop brain work. Work that leaves him with few hours and even fewer words to spare. At the end of the day he usually either just goes straight to bed, or chugs a few beers, eats in silence and then goes to bed. So when he comes home smiling, voluntarily shares news from work, I know it is good. I know he’s happy. I know he’s satisfied, and that his head and heart are in the right place.

I realise in that moment that asking VC to work less, is like asking him to live less.

The news is fabulous. So we high-five, I give him a hug.

And then I make him a big fat chocolate cake.

vc

Because some times, even the boy who quietly works his butt off so I don’t have to, and the boy who does it all never expecting anything in return, also deserves some cake.

****

It’s past dinner and his eyes glued to the television as he chomps away at his slice of cake. I’m thinking about my trip away, and I say in passing, “You’re going to be so busy over the next few days, you won’t even know if I’m gone. You’re probably not even going to miss me.”

I’m not expecting a response. And yet, I get one.

“I might miss you. A little.”

****

For always having a solution, working it out and moving forward, VC is the best team-mate and business partner I could have chosen. And there’s more where this story came from.

Girls. And boys.

28 Mar

As much as I was confused by season 2, I have fallen right back in love with Girls over the course of season 3. I resented the neat, picture-perfect way in which season 2 ended, especially with Adam running halfway across town to be Hannah’s Knight in Shining Armour. But season 3 brought back the crazy, the imperfection and the humour in it all. If you watched and loved the first two seasons, this one takes everything up a couple of notches. (And they still get their music right.)

Right form the start I have loved the level of detail, the nuances in each individual character. Even the secondary, but recurrent figures like Laird, the junkie who lives downstairs and Caroline, Adam’s crazy sister have such prominent facets to their personalities. It is especially interesting to see how the distinct edges of each character, down to their eccentricities, their habits and entire beings is not without a place in the overall story line, into which each of them fit perfectly. If Hannah dresses oddly, it is for a reason. If Laird has a perpetually leaky nose, it is for a reason. If Caroline has unkempt eyebrows, that too is not without reason.

Hannah is pretty much a big fuck-you to every single gender norm foisted upon any feminine character on TV ever. There’s little that’s really feminine or typically girly, about her, as one would normally expect from the protagonist of a show called Girls. She’s deliberately imperfect, dresses awkwardly, is self-centred, is not coy and sweet. There’s little Hannah really cares about, apart from herself. And yet carries it all off with a confidence that’s rare to find on TV.

Marnie on the other hand is physically everything Hannah is not. She’s near-perfect with her delicate features, always well-turned-out sense of style, perfect make up and hair. She’s positively sexy, and even I thought so when the show started out. She is as close to perfect as it gets as far as girls are meant to be. But man, I have not loathed a television character as much as I loathe her. Is there anyone out there who likes her? I know a couple of guys who do, but I’m not going to bother asking why.

This season had me really feeling a mix of negativity and pity towards Hannah and Marnie. Shoshanna is the ditz, but I love how headstrong she is. Jessa is made to look like the wayward, free-spirit, and somehow is always the one to drop these simple truths that have completely missed the other girls. Despite the dark and troubling undertones of their respective stories, Shoshanna and Jessa are uplifting and make me laugh out loud.

Seemingly socially dysfunctional, Adam is probably more centred than any of the Girls. He’s in your face, and almost always in a way that’s not pleasant, and I can’t help but stay and listen and like him a little. Ray is brutally honest, and I love that despite his insecurities he doesn’t lose that quality.

I am a big fan of writing that has a purpose and specific intention, because I believe that when things are done to design, and done with intention, they communicate that emotion, that thought perfectly. It’s probably why many mainstream Hindi films annoy me, or not all books by newbie writers stick with me, or trashy pop isn’t memorable. This is not to devalue the place of mainstream cinema, easy reading or pop music, but it definitely says a lot that every episode of Girls I watch, gets archived into my hard disk (much like I did with SATC when I went on a download-and-watch-the-whole-season binge 5 years ago) and every episode of Grey’s Anatomy that I continue to subject myself to is deleted the instant the episode ends. Sometimes even before it really ends.

My grandfather would say this about music — that it didn’t matter what language it was in, if the music was played/sung/performed with genuine emotion or purpose, there is no way it doesn’t communicate it or touch a chord in the audience. He believed it to be true of all forms of art.

This season I found the growing antsy vibe between Hannah and Marnie irritating, sometimes even insufferable. I almost feel like the show needed to grow out of just being a Hannah-Marnie Magnet. To be honest, as the show progresses it’s the boys that are growing on me. Ironic, I thought, that in a show titled Girls, it’s the boys I am rooting for. The finale made me realise that this too perhaps, is by design.

 

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