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

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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.

 

Manic dancing, a little trashy pop and a dedication

26 Mar

I realised its time to re-evaluate things, when I returned from an extra Zumba class, soaked to the bone in sweat, only to meet my neighbour who looked at me curiously.

“Went swimming, is it?” she asked, trying hard to sound polite but unable to mask her disgust.

Sheepishly, I had to let her know that it’s possible I might be swimming. Just in my own sweat. Quickly unlocking the door and rushing in, I raced up the stairs still very high on endorphins. The thing with getting a happy hormone buzz post 7 pm is that I am wound up and wired to go! When the rest of the world is winding down, getting ready for dinner and other calm activities, I feel like I could go out and for a run. I find the only way to get rid of the high, is to dance it off.

I’m the kind of freak that comes back from an hour-long dance lesson, only to dance some more. I fished out one of my latest favourites, played it on loop. Three times did the trick.

Part of the reason I can’t mellow down immediately after a class is because I get back into my car to drive home, and stuff like this plays on the radio, almost immediately

and this

and, gawd I’m so sorry to be sharing it, but this

After a while, listening to this play in the background so often, I find myself singing along, word for word and I stopĀ  in my tracks and wonder, wait when did that happen?!

Today though, I heard a song I’d never heard before. It is trashy as hell. But it made me smile. VC if you’re reading, you have to spare three and a half minutes, grab your earphones and listen to this one. You’ll know why.

Passing notes

25 Mar

To she-who-cannot-be-named-on-the-blog (yet),

Please know that when you say overLOOK, it actually means the opposite of overSEE, which is the word you were looking for. Because its hard to be as happy as you made the edits seem, when someone was “overlooking all the details so you could have a good time.”

Could it also be that you, much like all of us, don’t know have the rules of the apostrophe down pat? Maybe you too have to say the little rhyme in tour head every time you encounter an apostrophe. And maybe you too are often still confused. I give you the benefit if doubt most times. But it’s hard to overlook (see what I did there?) it when you’re counting “6 different cafe’s”

You put in a tremendous amount of effort to develop a list of words we can no longer use. I appreciate the help. It really makes my life very easy, when I have to go through a three page document to cross-check every document for any sneaky banned words that might have slipped in there. It makes my life so much easier when the list is rife with sarcastic and condescending (not to mention unnecessary and sometimes also politically incorrect) explanations about why a word is not acceptable, rather than just list them so I can rhn through them quickly. It doesn’t at all seem like you drew up the list on a whim because you’re bored of seeing us use simple, direct and understandable language. I suppose its easier to call something verdant than just say its green.

Also, I wonder when you will realise that not every question is a personal attack aimed at you. That some times I’m really just asking a question. Because I’m not afraid to let you know that there are some things I don’t know that maybe you have the answers for. But I guess that’s easier to do when you genuinely believe there’s always something new to learn and always another (some times, better) way to say the same thing.

Of course these are just some minor quibbles of recent times. They are but a few things to laugh about. Many months from now, if I feel a tinge of regret at my decision, let these be tiny reminders of why I did today, what I should have done a long time ago.

With a sigh of relief and much needed liberation,
Me

What is normal?

24 Mar

It happens several times a year, but is usually at it’s worst when one financial year ends and another begins. The hugsband loses himself at work. And by loses himself, I mean completely. Long hours, unhealthy meals eaten at work and a phone line that’s permanently engaged are just the tip of the iceberg. In the off chance that I get through to him to ask if he has eaten anything, or if he’d like me to bring him some food, I get the predictable monosyllabic response, that sounds something like “mmrbrkj”. The rest of the “conversation” is mostly telegraphic answers quickly followed up with the usual “Okay-I’ve-gotto-go-bye!”

And that is how it’s been for a little over a month now. The days are blending one into another. I often can’t tell weekends apart from weekdays. I’m mostly pottering about the house doing my work, cooking for one (which suits me just fine given the oppressive heat), taking off on my own and just going about my business. It also means music plays as loud as I please, food shows are watched on loop and several movies and books are being hungrily finished off in bed. Along with cake. The cake I make for two, but usually end up finishing all on my own. I cannot complain. The single life has never thrived as much.

Things have been working on clockwork, and I’ve realise what an utter creature of habit I am. I like things to function with some kind of order about them, a loose routine within which to amble. And I realised that it is mostly possible to enforce this on myself, and therefore much easier to have this ordered existence when I am on my own. When the weekend rolls along, having the hugsband out of the way means I can do gloriously mundane things like change the sheets, dust the fans, clear up neglected corners — without having him turn into a sneezy mess as he usually does. I have re-discovered the inexplicable love for mindless domestic activity and the unexpected happiness they sometimes bring. This is the good part about not having to do them on my own, all the time. I am so very grateful for the help I have, and the fact that I can turn essential everyday tasks into the occasional fun thing to do, because I have someone to do it for me when I am not looking.

I am always telling the hugsband how its only weekends that seem to turn the home upside down. Visit my house at the end of a weekend when we’ve both been home, and you’ll know what I mean. Things are usually in a state of visible disarray — just the way VC likes them to be. We’ve come a long way from the days of socks and tees lazily chucked on the bedroom floor and newspapers left open for sheets to fly about, but we’re still working around things like the dining table becoming the blackhole for everything that has a place but he is too lazy to go find. And so I have been taking full advantage of this extended time of absence on VC’s part and the luxury of not constantly picking up and putting things back. It really means that things just stay organised, as opposed to me constantly trying to set right, everything that’s not. And him trying to keep up with me. Or at least pretending to.

But the Ides of (February and)March have hit us bad. Not only is VC facing the full force of it at work, but I am dealing with my fair share of pains in the posterior. Add to it the heat. It really ought to be officially declared the month to do absolutely nothing. Because everything about it seems to be designed to make you want to slow down, slump over and not move. I have been restricting going out to the very least, cooking one pot things to minimise kitchen time, spending a bulk of my time poring over my work, going at it with astonishing alacrity, in order to get it done and out of the way before my trip. It makes entire days collapse into large chunks of time. Before I know it the day is done, and that distinct rumble in my stomach usually announces that it’s dinner time so I should probably move away from the desk.

Saturday presented a rare but large enough skirmish between the hugsband and I, over a totally forgettable event, but which was basically my trigger. See, as much as I love being alone, I hate being the only one to take charge — which is usually the case. Because when work takes over VC’s mind, everything else slips to the dark, forgotten recesses. He fancies himself to be busier than the prime minister of India, almost like the rest of us are mostly just twiddling our thumbs and whiling away time. In addition to managing the home, cooking meals and my work, I was disgruntled about having to manage the installation of a new wifi connection, at the hands of service men who operate in a country that refuses to take women seriously. I was pissed off about being the one to remind him day after day to call the aunt and offer his condolences. I hate that I’ve had to remind him to finish some bank errands for over four weeks now (they’re still not done, btw). You get the drift.

So while the squabble was unnecessary, my gripe wasn’t. I can sympathise with an unusually high workload, and I do by being supportive in ways that I can. But I usually have no sympathy for the side of him that takes me for granted because his brain has turned into a sieve from which everything apart from his work slips away. Off the back of that tiff, and after spending several weeks alone, mostly indoors, I finally made plans for the weekend. I decided I would go catch an early Sunday morning show to watch Queen a second time, and then take my letter writing and current unputdownable book to the beach, where I would probably spend the day, only to return to cook dinner. For one, as per the usual. It was a simple plan. But one that held so much promise. And after the tiff, it was a plan that was going to make a statement: the single life is becoming the norm around here.

Sunday rolled along, I woke up with the mother of all cramps. Months of feeling great and like I have finally fought the monsters out of my system have been dashed, because I was relegated to bed. My big plan for a Sunday Spent in Solitude remained just that — a plan. I might have made the mistake of building it up a little too much in my head and invariably reality falls way short of the anticipated results. Because when Sunday came along, the hugsband decided to stay home.

What kind of man who has set a pattern of not being around for the most part suddenly decides to change his mind on just the day I was looking forward to being alone?! If I weren’t writhing in pain, I might have been pissed off. But it’s hard to stay mad when you are served tea, in bed. When breakfast, several rounds of hot-water-bottles and back rubs are administered, in bed. When the entire morning passes you by, in bed. When you rise and shine, in time for beer and banter. When you end up chatting and catching up more than you have over the last many weeks. When lunch is an indulgent biryani followed by overly sweet malai-sandwiches. When the afternoon makes you crawl back into the comforts of a long, long nap at 18 degrees celsius. When at the end of all of that, you end up watching the movie you wanted to all along.

It was a day unlike any other in the recent past. It was quiet, rejuvenating and peaceful. With adequate conversation and silence. Enough time to rest and recoup.

sunday

It was as easy to slip back into normalcy, as it was to get used to being alone. And even though the Sunday was nothing like the life I’ve been living and loving, it was like things going back to normal again, and I loved it.

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