The weather

24 Oct

Yesterday, I just learned, was the hottest day we’ve had in the last decade. It sure felt like it. My kickboxing class has moved outdoors and yesterday when I couldn’t hold a plank because my forearms kept slipping, I realised my arms and legs too were pouring sweat form every pore. I walked out at the end of class looking and feeling like someone had emptied a couple of buckets of water over me.

I like tropical weather because I’m not very good with cooler climes at all. So this weather is much more suited to my natural state of equilibrium. Except I’m increasingly realising that somewhere the balance is tipping. With every summer getting hotter than before I’m beginning to wonder just how much worse this can get. This year we’ve really felt the effects of stripped green-cover, vast areas of mushrooming construction and the temperatures this year have already broken several records.

Despite having faced five Goan summers and five hot Octobers, my memory for this kind of oppressive heat seems short. Summer comes and goes, and by October I am suffering all over again, like by body and mind has no memory of the summer just gone by, so it can accustom itself to it, to some measure. When October ends and the temperatures drop ever so gently, I behave like I’m being graced by winter, and it makes me forget the wretched climes we’ve just waved away. By summer, my memory is wiped clean, and the misery begins all over again.

October heat is a special variety of heat. It always feels like the most intense, hotly hot and painfully strong rays of the sun are saved up for this time of year. The light and heat doesn’t slant down on us gently baking us to a crisp, so much as hit us directly, straight down, which makes it feel like you’re in an overheated oven at all time. Burning to a crisp, faster than you know. Afternoon light hurts the eyes, staying out in the sun is physically painful, and most days end in exhaustion from not really doing much at all but just sitting in the heat.

As the day grows older, our house gets impossibly hotter. The oven that is my home (top floor, high ceiling, west facing — all the worst things) was hot enough to bake a something nice if I had just set it on my dining table long enough. It’s not too bad until noon, but after that it begins to get physically uncomfortable to stay indoors and I have been cooking up reasons to get out in the evenings, only to come back in time to slip into the artificially cooled interiors of my bedroom.

I’ve become slightly obsessed with tracking the weather. Because its been so erratic and unpredictable, for one. And also because I totally feel overpowered by it, here in Goa. Doing outdoorsy things means checking how hot its going to be. Picking a dinner place means thinking extra hard for a place that’s good for dinner and is air-conditioned. Going out to work in a cafe means planning it at a time of day when I’m not going to spend my time fighting exhaustion from just being outdoors.

Yesterday really did feel like the hottest day in a while, and despite not having any plans, we set out for dinner in another attempt to escape the heat that was getting impossible to bear. Over dinner I told VC that I’d really like to pick a place that has a real winter, for our next move.

He nearly choked on his thai chicken.

I’m the joker who goes to Delhi in October and worries about not having enough warm clothes. A few visits there in the months approaching winter, I found myself bundled in layers and layers of clothes, and still feeling miserable when I have to take my pants off and sit on a cold pot, for example. Or I have to brush my teeth before I go to bed. Or like when I was at a winter wedding, dressed in all my finery, only to cover it all up in a thick brown shawl. We’ve put off a trip to Leh for years on end now because I wonder if I will be that odd case that will go all the way and just not be able to do anything because even the slightest dip in temperatures has a debilitating effect on me. Living in a hot tropical beach town doesn’t help. It’s weaned me off even the pleasant Bangalore winter, and last year when I visited home in December, I roamed about my house in a sweater and socks.

But like I said that inner equilibrium seems to have tipped. Something has shifted, and I am tired of feeling constantly sweaty and exhausted from just not doing much. So much energy is spent in just tiding through the day, I can’t imagine what I’d do if I had a job that was physically strenuous. This year I clutched on to the delayed and weaker-than-usual monsoon we had, and I realise I love the break from the heat. When August ends and the heat starts spiking again, I begin to dread October. It’s a generally unproductive time, everything around me seems parched and everybody unfiromly has the same complain on their lips — want this month to be over already!

In all these years in Goa, the heat hasn’t affected me so deeply as it did this year. I see pictures of autumn leaves, signs of cooler weather, thick sweaters, woolen caps and food blogs about pumpkin soup and the like and my heart aches for some cooler weather. Like I told VC last night, being subjected to hot weather 10 months of the year is pretty life-altering. I own no winter clothes. I barely ever wear jeans. I love soup, but cannot get myself to cook and consume it often enough. We think and re-think holidays depending on how similar or different the weather will be compared to home. We give up on so many little things we want to do on an every day basis, with a casual oh, it’s too hot for that today.

It’s clear I hate this time of year even more than summer. It really does feel like the collective intnsity of four months of summer is sort of squished into this single month. I hate it with a vengeance. There’s just one thing I love about October in Goa. And it’s the October skies.

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Four out of five days put up a spectacular show. Sunsets are distractingly gorgeous and unnaturally bright and beautiful. It’s like natures way of fooling you into thinking there’s something beautiful about the day gone by. I’ve fallen for this only too many times.

I’d really like the next place we live in to be one that has a good variety of weather. A solid few months of cooler weather would be such a welcome change. I want to be able to bundle myself up in sweaters, drink soup and take walks without sweating. October skies would only just be a welcome bonus.

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On traditions old and new

22 Oct

The Diwali spirit kicked-in at the very last minute. As usual. Almost like an after-thought, after getting a mild attack of FOMO. As usual. I go through the same cycle of emotions and actions, year on year. Supposed indifference, a lot of nostalgia, a little homesickness, wildly swings into full blown meh-ness, and then suddenly I pick myself out of the inertia and go into overdrive. Lights get put up haphazardly. The house is tidied up. Something sweet gets made. We eat some good food. And every year as we take down the lights and I put away the diyas, I tell myself I should do better the following year.

I would like to think I have it in me to plan ahead, check my lights beforehand and not put them and realise two out of four strings are not working. I’d like to have the house stocked with the typical savoury and sweet stuff, and not resort to a last minute quick-fix dessert that somehow always comes to the rescue of slackers like me. I’d love to have the house done up the way my own home used to be when we were growing up — LOTS of diyas, soaked in water overnight, filled with oil, graced with a wick and lit for three days, strings of orange marigold decking corners of the house — and doing everything we’ve associated with the traditions of Diwali like waking up really early to have an oil massage and a hot bath, wearing freshly bought clothes and getting together to celebrate with neighbours, friends and family — which was mostly an experiment in organised and legitimate indulgence.

Every year around this time, I become acutely aware of how my life is so devoid of these little traditions. Yes, I invariably do string up the fairy lights, light the customary diyas and make something sweet, but it is never with the sort of organised pomp and panache that my parents would manage to bring into our homes at Diwali. Weeks in advance we’d begin talking about Diwali. My mother would make laddoos, tukde (namak paare), and we’d buy boxes of Kaju Katli along with a few boxes of fireworks (while I was still young enough to still want to light them). Diwali clothes were a treat we looked forward to. Trudging off to Commercial Street, which would get its Diwali on days before the actual festival. The big stores of then would turn up the festivities, bring on the sales and we’d buy a new set each, to be worn on day 1 post that traditional massage and hot water bath!

I have distinct memories of wearing those new clothes and invariably getting oil on them, from the enthusiasm and excitement to participate in lighting the many diyas. Eventually by the end of the night I’d also have a few holes on them from misguided sparks flying around. Most years I also had a blistered finger or two, as a painful reminder of firework excitement gone wrong. There would invariably be a family Diwali get-together somewhere, and we’d go over with sweets and savoury stuff and do the exchange. Something about giving from your plate and taking back goodies from another home is so Diwali!

And then there was a whole bunch of new traditions when I got married. VC’s family has a Diwali lunch the weekend before, where extended family gets together, we potluck and a few rounds of cards and other games got played. Of course there would be much drinking and stuffing of face and a merry time to be had by all.

When we moved to Goa, I didn’t give any of this much thought. Something about doing things your own way makes certain traditions pale in comparison to others. I took the house, the kitchen and the daily rituals like chai time far more seriously than I did putting in an altar or saying a prayer every day. Festivals came and went, and brought with them a twinge of nostalgia and remorse for not “keeping up” the traditions my folks and family have worked so hard to bring to life, so enthusiastically, year after year.

This year too, I was largely uninterested. I also have lost track of the days whizzing by and didn’t realise till last weekend that Diwali was literally right around the corner. Two days ago, I pulled the lights out and considered doing the house up but gave up before I had even started. The hugsband and I went out to dinner last night, our first meal out together in a long time. Heck we don’t even eat together at home so much anymore — with his crazy schedules and my extreme dedication to not missing an episode of That Show Which Must Not Be Named, I tend to come back form the gym ravenous, eat dinner, and watch TV in peace while he ambles home closer to 9.30-10 pm. This has been the story of our lives the past few weeks.

It’s hard to make and keep traditions in a house of two, with one person being an absentee house-body for the most part. Actually scratch that, its easy to make a mindless tradition. But to keep to it, in a meaningful way is hard. And I realise that’s probably what made it fun for my folks. Having a larger family to do things with, setting benchmarks for us, and having an extended social circle to share the festivities with. The truth is, VC and I are isolated form family to begin with. The family we’ve built here is dwindling. I can count on one hand, the number of people I’d choose to celebrate Diwali with, and even they have their own families and things to tend to.

I realised last night that traditions need to mean something to you, in order to keep them going. Maybe I don’t have an affinity to the rituals and maybe I wont be lighting a lamp in an altar any time soon, but I do have fond memories of the togetherness that Diwali brought. The hobnobbing of a larger circle of people we belonged to. And in ever-changing times, I’d like to retain some memory of it at least. Nothing’s quite the same back home to, I don’t imagine my parents still celebrate with as much gusto as they did when we we’re around, but we try and keep up with the time don’t we?

We don’t have traditional traditions, and maybe that’s what puts me in a funk around this time of year. But I realised that maybe this reluctance that makes way for last-minute excitement is my tradition. After all, it has unfolded the exact same way every year for the last five Diwalis.

So maybe I should stop fighting it. Maybe I should stop feeling a little bad like I usually do. And maybe I should focus on doing it our way.

We turn the lights on, we spark the diyas, we get a good meal together — either home cooked, or some place nice like we did last night. And if we’re experiencing particularly busy times like VC currently is, we make time for it, mark it on our calendars and we call it a date.

After all Goa does it’s own style of Diwali with such aplomb. It has introduced me to some of its traditions, like the building of the Narkasuras that sprout every few metres. With frightning scale, accuracy and creativity, painstakingly built over weeks only to be burned to a crisp on the night of Narakachaturdasi.

Naraka

It’s hard to stay sad when there is cheer around you. So yesterday I went out and bought me some flowers.

Flowers

I came home and made a batch of super addictive, super yummy, and most importantly — super quick, laddoos from N’s blog.

Laddoos

And then I strung up the lights and we went out to dinner.

Light

On our way back home, the Narakasura parties were in full swing. People were parading the streets, loud music and dance everywhere. We inched through the rare sight that is a traffic jam in this part of town, and I watched the effigies in all their splendour.

I realise we might not always succeed in keep up old traditions. Some times just a flickering memory that throbs to life once every year is nicer. It makes me cherish the times gone by, savour the lingering memories and think of what lies ahead. And most of all, it eventually makes us make our own traditions. Even if I get my act together just 24 hours beforehand.

Nothing makes me realise how far away from home I am, like Diwali does. And yet it is Diwali that also draws me closer to home. The one I left behind, and the one I piece together day after day.

And this too shall pass

20 Oct

Some weirdness continues. Someone read the last post and asked me if maybe I needed to take a pregnancy test. It had me laughing out loud, all by myself. Apparently clumsiness, forgetfulness and over-emotional behaviour = possibly pregnant? Maybe so, but what about the power cuts and the cow in my backyard? And the encounter with the weird dude in the coffee shop? Never mind. Don’t answer that, I already know the answer.

On Friday, I finally managed to get myself on a much-overdue and what is turning out to be a jinxed conference call. Once we managed to sync our respective busy schedules and found an hour to spare at a time that was suitable to all the parties involved, I finally got google hangouts to work (yay!) after something like six months. Things were looking up as far as the call was concerned, and yet, somehow¬† once we were actually dialed in, it took over twenty minutes to just get the call going and have all four members on-board, seamlessly stay on the call being subjected to randomly freezing in an unfortunate position, and eventually dying out on the others who spend more time saying “hello? hello? are you there? can you hear us?” than actually discuss the agenda. Thankfully we all found humor in the situation and decided to proceed with just three people present, in the interest of finishing what we started two months ago! Clearly, its just not a good time for communication and technology, especially if you’re expecting it to aid you in any fashion.

The power has been playing hokey almost every day. The record being four cuts over six hours, a few days ago. I’m beginning to suspect this is scheduled load-shedding that they forgot to schedule. And also conveniently forgot to inform us about. The area around my home is under litigation, which when sorted will make way for a tech park, I’m told. How and when these future tech parks will function when we don’t even go 24 hours without a drop in power, is beyond me.

In an attempt to escape the power-cut induced extreme heat at home, I decided to go out in search of the closest air-conditioned place that would let me sit around for a while. I discovered my car was unlocked, which meant it had been that way all night, for over twelve house. It’s a good thing I don’t hear of too much robbery or breaking-in around these parts. And it’s doubly good that VC wasn’t around when I discovered this.

Broken communication, undependable technology and general forgetfulness aside, the sluggish month that it has turned out to be, continues just as usual. I realise that at the heart of it, this is what has set my system out of whack. After over eighteen months of having a full, full (unplanned) schedule and so many different things always fighting for my time, is weird to not have too many demands to look into. After months of having some work or the other serendipitously land in my lap, it is weird to have to ask for it 9 our of ten times not receive a response. After months of having a hectic social life that I had the privilege of cutting back from, it is weird that the slow life, not by choice, is the default setting. All said and done, it is weird when everything changes so suddenly all at once. Work, life, home, mood-swings, emotions, etc.

Things have slowed down to the point of almost-mundane around here, and while I have spent a large part of this time silently worrying about when the next big opportunity will come my way, or what I ought to be doing to make it happen sooner than later, I realised not everything has been dismal around here. The house is in better shape than it has ever been. My kitchen has never been so well-stocked and actively used. I’m cooking two fresh meals everyday and I’m not bored as yet. My training has definitely benefited from the eating at home, eating well and over-all the husband and I feel much more energetic and healthy. After a lot of fighting inertia, I’m working on an almost-forgotten project again. It’s shaping up well too.

The realisation came like a flash on Friday evening, and almost immediately I began to feel the cloud clear. Maybe this is the retrograde waning? If you’re a skeptic and don’t believe in the ways of the planets, maybe this is just the universe telling me to deal with a little boredom for a change, than to just displace it on to another activity. Maybe this was a much-needed, necessary slowing down to the point of being at my wits end. Maybe this was just a silent call for me to turn to my own inner boss? To quit silencing the voice inside and look for a boss outside to guide me, give me work and pay me for it?

Maybe I just had to see what it was like to really have nothing happening for a while, so I could find new things and ways to be productive. Maybe this was what it takes to make sure I don’t take the bursts of life for granted. Maybe this too shall pass.

Weird days and a bizarre coffee incident

16 Oct

The past few weeks have seen a series of bizarre happenings unfold. Seemingly insignificant, but strange all the same. The last straw on the camel’s back happened to be an unforeseen incident last evening, where I got blatantly hit on by a twenty-something kid. Took me a while to process what was actually happening, and only when he offered to pay for the coffee I was drinking, did I realise I was being propositioned. Not the every day kind of bizarre event, let me assure you.

It started with loads of emails going unanswered. Is it just me or are people just serially not responding to emails and keeping to their commitments? I know its not unnatural for the odd email to get lost in cyber-space or in the hoards of gigabytes of communication people receive, but for 8 out of 10 important work emails I’ve sent in the past few weeks to go unanswered strikes me as odd. Especially when I’m told “I’ll get back to you by tonight,” or “We need to get this done in the next 4 days,” only to faced with complete silence after that.

Wouldn’t you find it weird to emerge from a nights sleep, having woken up in a pool of your own sweat and be greeted by this?

Sunrise

My sticky neck and semi-drenched pillow tell a tale very different form this deceptive misty-mountain-top kind of picture outside my window. This is downright weird for this time of year. Drawing the curtains open makes it feel like I’m in the midst of a super cool hill station, with the clouds floating right through the lane in front of me. But the weather has been anything but cool. Muggy, hot, sweaty and just downright horrible.

By mid-day my eyes are burning and the days are getting shorter, night descending sooner. A few months ago I was marveling at the last streaks of dusk lingering on till about 7.30 pm, and these days it begins to set just past 6.15ish. And in typical October style, it puts up quite a show. Kind of like this.

Sunset

Totally in contrast to the dull and misty beginnings of the very same day. Weird, much?

A told me how he was overcome with a rage that just refused to pass, a few days ago. Despite having good reason, the inability to control or get over an extreme emotion has been happening to me too often this month. I first thought it was PMS, but that doesn’t last for over two weeks. I’ve been feeling overly emotional about the strangest things that I don’t usually stop to give too much thought to. I mentioned it briefly here, but I only realised it when I was talking to A. This over-sensitivity, the dwelling on something for much longer than I need to, and giving certain emotions more importance than is actually required, feeling touchy and sulky — this has been happening a lot. I dismissed it as a funk that would pass if I didn’t bother fighting it too hard, but it’s lingering on. I’ve been extremely anti social, withdrawing from people, unable and uninterested in sustaining conversations, been mostly off my phone, screening calls even! This is not me.

I have also had a bout of unexplained unusual clumsiness and forgetfulness. Small accidents around the house — I slipped down the stairs twice in one week, left my phone in my car for an entire day and diddn’t miss it, burnt my fingers making phulkas the other day, nearly walked out of my house without the key one day, and the next — and this one is the shocker — came back from dinner alone one night, unlocked the door, walked in and shut the door behind. Leaving the housekey int he keyhole. Outside the house. All night. This is very unlike me.

I’ve also experienced an absurdly high number of breakdowns around the house. We had all-day power cuts two days in a row, which botched up a day of mammoth orders and baking for me. I had four orders and was only able to deliver one. Last week, the power company decided to schedule their daily load-shedding at 9.30 pm — the most convenient and expected time of day to be without power, no? So one of those nights, sick of the heat and darkness I left home to go get dinner. When I returned, I came home to a cow standing in my backyard, happily, lazily chomping away at the overgrown grass and weeds. That should have been the last straw in the series of truly bizarre events happening to me.

I had the backyard cleaned up, and we have made a concerted effort to start keeping a a garden there. I thought I’d wished the weirdness away. Until yesterday.

I had an appointment last evening, in town and had a good one hour to kill between the appointment ending and my kickboxing class. I didn’t fancy driving all the way home only to come back to town in 4o-mins or so. So I picked a cafe I don’t usually go to, bought myself a hot coffee and sat under a tree reading.

Coffee

I was marveling at the fact that for a change someone at a cafe had got my instructions to make the coffee “really hot” right. I’m so used to asking for it and always being disappointed at the first sip, that I rushed to taste this cup and scalded my tongue pretty badly. I also got a barrage of text messages and nearly dropped my ipad all int he span of 10 seconds, when this twenty-something dude sneaks over and slips into the seat next to me.

He opens with, “I’m not here to creep you out.”

I try not to react, but everything about my face probably revealed that I was very creeped out.

I was speechless for what felt like forever, waiting for this dude to explain himself, especially since he sincerely told me he wasn’t out to creep me out. Then what exactly did he want to do?

I was running over a few kickboxing moves in my head, and trying to scan the nearest escape route, without actually looking around, when he said, “I’m having a business meeting over there,” pointing to a table of four men seated with laptops open etc, at the far end of the cafe, “and I have just been so distracted, I had to come over to say hi.”

He offers his hand, and it takes me a couple of seconds to realise I’m meant to do the same. But I’m suddenly not sure why I must reciprocate, orrrrr whattheeffisgoingon basically.

He introduced himself, quickly giving me his name, his work/business, told me he hangs out at said cafe a lot and even went on to tell me he hasn’t seen me around.

(What kind of men sit around waiting to notice women and classify them as regulars and those they don’t see around too often??)

Probably expecting me to return the favour and wondering why I’m not offering any information, the conversation was fast dying. With me fidgeting and wondering how to tell him to bugger off! I quickly blurt something about not hanging out there often and only stopping over because I’m about to rush off for another engagement.

Silence.

“Can I buy you this coffee?”

I don’t know if I should be aghast or offended, but I manage to tell him I’m perfectly capable and have bought myself the coffee already. At that point, he gave me a rushed, “Okay, it was nice talking to you. See you around,” followed it up with a repeat of the unconvincing “Didn’t mean to creep you out.” I might have believed him if he didn’t give it the crowning glory, “but I was just so distracted, I wanted to come talk to you.”

I came away with mixed feelings. Has it been so long since I have been so blatantly hit on, that I have forgotten what it looks like? Am I just that out of the loop? Is this normal? Tell me single peeps, is this what men do these days?

Should I feel mildly flattered that I don’t have the “married look” people often point out. Or should I be worried that I give off the vibe that I can be cornered into a conversation that opens with the blatant admission of non-creepiness?

My mind raced back to this one evening many, many moons ago. It was a typically rainy Bangalore day and U and I were at the Barista where Hard Rock Cafe Bangalore now stands. We sat sipping our hot chocolates, by big french windows that overlooked Koshys, when we spotted this total dish of a man lighting up a cigarette outside Koshys. At 17, totally reckless and stupid, and not thinking about most rational considerations, it took U under a minute to muster the confidence to hook her pointer finger and beckon him, with her come hither eyes. He looked up and right at us, and I waved a big fat cutesy wave at him. U and I ooked at each other, giggled profusely as we were known to, and when we looked back up he has stubbed his cigarette out, making his way across the street to come greet us with the biggest grin slapped across his face.It didn’t end there — we exchanged numbers and managed to meet him a couple of times when we’d sneaked out and gone partying, before we realised the creepiness of the whole situation.

I’ve been chatted up several times at bars and drinking places, whether I was with men, women, a group of friends or even just a one other person. But that was then. This is now. And even for me, this was just super weird.

Just when I was about to leave it up to a weird amalgamation and concentration of all things strange headed my way, I happened to realise we’re smack in the middle of the Mercury Retrograde.

So yeah, it’s not me. It’s the freaking planets.

What you have is enough

13 Oct

It was a week that delicately straddled a lot and nothing at all, in a precarious balance. A lot, because I was busy for the first half, chasing a deadline. Chasing it, because I’m the eternal procrastinator. I don’t function unless I’m under pressure. And if the situation doesn’t present any packaged pressure, I’ve just proved to myself yet again, that I have the ability to work myself into a corner and press myself down with a self-made kind of pressure. The good thing is, it yields fabulous results. I’m happy with what I churned out after 3 days of playing hookey. After many slow weeks, it suddenly felt like I had a lot going on.

The long-drawn procrastination, sporadic frantic bursts of writing for the assignment and eventually the scramble to get it done and done well, and the general routine that surrounds it all, was punctuated with moments of nothing at all. Even though I cooked, I worked out, I read, I caught up on some long-pending errands (I’m getting my garden going, finally!) and got lots of odds and ends done, I’ve had far too many moments of empty contemplation than I cared to have. Hollow pondering — cloudy, unnecessary trails of thoughts. Travelling down paths I have left behind, but obviously not far enough to never turn around and backtrack a bit. Empty and completely unrequired because it’s like revisiting old fragments of myself that I have shed — incidents I tell myself I have forgotten, have grown out of and moved on from. But they lurk not far behind, ghostly reminders of a time that will never be the same again, situations that won’t ever be fixed, relationships that can’t be mended, decisions that I don’t want to undo, choices I have made that I sometimes question in a circular fashion. So it is futile. I don’t like to sit around in a cloud of gloom, in shallow contemplation, pondering over things that are not likely to do much more than bring me down. So in that sense, its empty time. And there was a lot of this, nothingness.

I’ve questioned the hows and whys of many aspects of my current life a little too much these past few weeks. I’ve over-analyzed and re-thought many twists and turns that have brought me to where I am. Work-wise, people-wise, choice-wise, I’ve wondered and wondered and thought and re-thought things much more than I should. And much more than I normally do. And then I read this in a post by a friend.

Learn to trust that what you have is enough

Written in a totally different context though it was, it made sense. It was just what I needed to see, right then. I’m not as zen as the words sound like they should be, but it’s good to have a simple reminder smack you in the face when you need it the most. And just like that, the army of little voices in my head, asking me a dozen questions per minute, died down a bit. The silence returned for a while. Just long enough to catch up on the music. And thankfully, there was a lot of good, new music last week.

Episode 3 of Coke Studio Pakistan, Season 3 had one gem which turned into a complete earworm for a couple of days. It’s a radically different track for Abida, this one. And she admits it with such unbridled joy if you watch the Behind The Scenes video.

I watched Haider during the week, right after the mad scramble to meet the deadline. As soon as I was ready to submit the story, I attached it to an email, hit send, shut my laptop and left. Thankfully, I made it two minutes before show-time, and it was well worth the dash. I enjoyed Haider. Enough to watch it a second time. I’m not going to pretend to over-analyze why I did, but I think the sound-design and music were definitely among the top reasons why the movie was enjoyable. I discovered this new rendition of a Mehdi Hasan classic.

8Tracks sometimes throws up some pleasant surprises. I never quite got hooked to the website/App for its obvious anti-ocd kinks. But S pointed me to a playlist that began with this track, which I then youtube-d and stuck to for a good long while. I am hugely tempted to use it in a foodeo now.

The radio played this track an obscene number of times this week. Makes me believe The Madden Brothers have done something right (wrong?) to suddenly be in the news again. But this song came on almost every time I got into my car, and its that kind of horribly sticky fun song that stays in your head and on your lips, even when you don’t want it to. I went around saying “done, done, done, done, done – we are done!” for a good part of the week. And then I watched this sweet video, and it changed the mood of the song completely.

Luckily, it was a fabulous week of music discovery. To fill the pauses that could linger into moments of futile contemplation. To make the cloud of gloom clear a bit and scatter the forgotten fragments, leaving them behind a little longer. Yep, I’m done now. Done overthinking and analyzing.

What I have is enough.

Things about VC that I never want to forget #15

9 Oct

Things about VC that I never want to forget #15
Pulling off pink with style

One of my earliest memories of the husband, from back when we first met, is one of him walking into work in a pink buttoned-down shirt, crisp grey pants, and being met with a loud sighs and collective swooning on the part of all the men in the room. It was an edit-meet of sorts, if I remember right. A room full of people and immediately VC was at the receiving end of several taunting winks, eyebrows raised in part-mockery part-curiosity, and all the manly-men feeling insecure on the part of men at large, that good lord, here was a man, dressed in pink!

***

To this day, his wardrobe is incomplete without a couple of shirts in shades of pink/magenta. Most recently, he bought a rather bright pink, even by his standards. An almost cotton-candy coloured shirt and even my eyes popped a little when he returned from his annual office-clothes-shopping-jaunt and pulled it out of his shopping bag.

***

Earlier this year, we attended a wedding and I went to one of the functions in a bright-as-heck pink churidar and matching dupatta. I love hot pink, but I don’t usually go very matchy-matchy with any of my clothes. Along with the jewelry, shoes, a little make up, I had transformed into something very far from my usual self. VC looked at me with a look of surprise and shock, not saying much. But the face said it all — this was a definite departure from the norm as he knows it.

***

A few days ago I opened up a new pack of toothbrushes. It was one of those twin-packs meant for couples/families. Predictably, one toothbrush was blue, another magenta *eyeroll*. I really didn’t care which one I’d end up with, even though I hate being lumped with the pink option in anything because of this kind of forced stereotyping. I held the pack out to VC distractedly, while simultaneously going about some chores. He picked one rather thoughtlessly and went away.

A while later, when I decided to actually look, I saw that I was left with the blue one.

It took me right back to that day in the office, when he walked into the room in a pink shirt like he owned it. The same indifference. The same irreverence and thoughtlessness towards what the men in the room thought.

pinkismyfavouritecolour

I don’t know if it is the sort of natural confidence that makes VC look like he can pull off almost any attire like he means it, or the fact that he can pull of most things that makes him confident. But what I remember distinctly from that day, is the nonchalance. The effortless dont-give-a-damn-what-any-of-you-think attitude that he carried.

I suspect it had little to do with the colour of his shirt.

****

This is part 15 of the series I like to call Things About VC I Never Want To Forget. And if you’re curious to see parts 1-14, there’s more where this came from.

Book case

6 Oct

I’ve barely bought any new books this year. It was one of my resolutions, to try and finish reading the books I’ve hoarded, that line my shelves and weigh down in my hard disk, before I indulge myself some more. At some point last year VC and I looked worriedly at the books we’ve accumulated, pouring out of the book case and decided we had to draw the line. It was really easy to stick to this resolution this year. Mainly because I’ve barely done any major reading. Large chunks of weeks and months passed by with such busy-ness that I didn’t even think about or miss opening a book. But I finally gave in and broke the promise a week ago. And then I broke it again. And again. Three times in one week.

When the cloud over my head didn’t look like it was going to clear, I needed a quick distraction that would consume me. Something to pick me out of it physically and transport me to a different time and place. It felt like the perfect weekend to curl up with nothing more than a book for company. VC has been out on work pretty much non-stop the past 10 days and in an impulsive moment I caved and bought a book. One that has come much recommended, several times over. For no particular reason, I had put buying it off for later, and when I finally hit purchase last weekend I couldn’t have picked a better time.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Rebecca Miller
S and R have really sold this book to me and had been on my list forever. R’s reccos usually suit me very well and I’ve noticed we rarely end up having very differing views on books, so when she mentioned it yet again, I thought the time had come, even though it wasn’t top on my list. The book quickly consumed me, with a mystery that unfolds early in the story, which then ties in beautifully with the story of a character who is at first painted to look like the perfect trophy wife for an all too perfect successful man. But much to my delight, and this is what made the book slightly unputdownable, Pippa’s is gently etched out to reveal the multi-faceted, colourful human being she was and somewhere deep down, still is.

If you’ve ever had the feeling like your personality has undergone so much change you sometimes cannot recognise the person you were a decade ago, or you go through the many versions of yourself that you once were to trace just how much you’ve changed, if you look back with a happy-sad sense of nostalgia about just how much your wild side has tamed itself, look at the stupid things you did with a sense of irony, and thank your stars for the way things turned out eventually, you’ll relate to the story. The incidents might vary, but the feelings fleshed out in the book were all too familiar. And while the story goes backwards and forwards it does so without being unwieldy like non-linear plots sometimes tend to be. The storytelling is gentle and takes you in very easily, which explains why I finished the book in under two days. Reading it late into the night, while waiting at the gym for class to begin, in the car at parking lots and pretty much everywhere I went. Kindle FTW, I say.

Wild, Cheryl Strayed
I really wanted to read this book for the simple premise it set: a journey from lost to found, since I’m a sucker for stories of triumph, of overcoming personal tragedies and emerging stronger not just mentally, but physically too. This seemed right up my alley. However, when I started reading, I was a little challenged by the unfamiliarity of the subject. Hiking itself, and the terrain in USA that the story is based in. I didn’t know very much about the Pacific Crest Trail she talked so much about, and the idea of a woman hiking cross country all alone itself was more than a little alien. The beginning reads a little indulgently, with the story going into excruciating details about the trauma in Cheryl’s life that leads to it completely falling apart. I realised later, why this was necessary because this story too goes backwards and forwards, narrating pieces from Cheryl’s backstory, along side her journey along the PCT.

I loved the book. For the story she tells, for the sheer willpower she portrays in embarking and completing this journey on her own — I really began to feel for her like I would a real person, and cheered her on every time I felt her morale fading. For the bravery and grit that goes into taking up a challenge like this — the book made me acutely aware of how I have never faced the kind of trauma Cheryl has, in my own life, so for her to be able to get through it all was commendable and kind of special. There are points where she endures such extreme physical hardships — face to face with bears, rattle snakes, foxes, ice, snow, sleet, stubbed toes, blistered soles, chafed hips — it took the weight of her journey up so many notches. For the vivid detail in which she unwraps her journey, it completely drew me in. I got so engrossed in the book I stopped doing much else for those two days. VC actually asked me if I planned to stop reading at all, at one point. The story traces a predictable path eventually finishing in triumph, but the journey itself tells a story of every incredible high and low, the terror, the pain, the immeasurable ecstasy, the pleasure of winning, the satisfaction of overcoming yourself. It was an absolute joy, this book. I’m glad I finished it in the nick of time, because the movie starring Reese Witherspoon comes out in December this year.

Have to stop to say that at the centre of both Pippa Lee and Wild, is the ghost of the mother-daughter relationship. And I think this is probably why I enjoyed them both even more. Both these books made me think of and miss my mother loads. I’ve had the up and down, wildly colourful growing up years both books portray, and inevitably that means coming to loggerheads with your mother. My mother was never the purist who expected us to do things the “right” way and looked down on the “wrong”. But as I’ve realised in the last decade of my life, no matter how liberal and outgoing an upbringing you have had, its hard to escape giving your mother the bad-cop label. The good part is, you realise this sooner or later and when you do, you rediscover an all new relationship with your mother. One of equals, of friends, of confidantes and you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!

Confessionally Yours, Jhoomur Bose
I picked this book without too much thought. It showed up on Amazon’s reccos based on what I was looking for, I assume, even though I don’t see any sameness, now that I have read (and not enjoyed) this book. The title itself left me asking, is confessionally a word? If so, should there be a comma after confessionally? If not, what does the title mean? Either I’m too stupid for the book, or the book was titled in a haphazard way, because even after finishing it, I still don’t have a clue about what was so confessional about the book. And I have no idea who the “you” in yours is. No idea. This is a plane-ride read, and I made the mistake of buying it on Amazon, right at the start of a weekend. But having done that, I didn’t want to abandon it. Since it was a fluffly, rather mindless read, it was easy to stick and finish it, but it really left me wondering what that was all about.

I could say I think it is about Polly Sharma’s sorry little life. At work — a media house where she is a junior journalist of some sort, being pushed around by one and all. At home — at the receiving end of a frigid, arranged marriage; and a pesky trouble-making mother in law. That should give you an indication of how rife with cliches the story is. But I am really not sure if this is all the book was about, because there are a lot of exaggerated side plots, the connection to the blogger Polly is investigating for a story, the house help and her abortion issues, the risque (and unreal) lifestyles of people at the media house, the husbands ex-lover — too much happened, and it didn’t lead to a logical end. I couldn’t be mad at myself either, because I picked the book without giving it much thought. Thankfully it was a breezy read, and I finished it in under a day and moved on to better things in life. Like Kitchen Confidential. Small mercies big, bad books sometimes present.

I’m now reading Kitchen Confidential which is a delight as it was the last time I read it. But just so much better. I realised I’ve forgotten so many fabulous bits of the book. possibly because I wasn’t big on food when I last read it. I probably just read it like I would any other memoir. But this time around, I find myself stopping to chuckle, to gasp at the names, the brands, the books, the instances he quotes. I seem to be getting through it a lot faster than the last time too. After the brainlessness of the last book, this is such a refreshingly real and entertaining read.

read

Turns out, fabulous things happen when I stay offline. Its been a week of limited screen time. I didn’t plan it that way. It’s just that work showed up, I decided to read, it was a peaceful week and I ended up staying offline a lot. For someone who reads very slowly, requiring hours of uninterrupted reading in order to finish anything, I finished these books in record time. I devoured them hungrily, purchasing the next one almost as soon as I’d shut the cover on the previous one. It helped that a large part of the week was spent alone. And a majority of it horizontally with iPad in hand. I want to say good things happen when I’m not looking at a screen, btu that would be a lie. Times like this, I love reading off a screen. The book/s reach you in seconds. You don’t have to worry about stashing/lugging them around. You can read in bed even under the covers and still turn pages easily. You can read in the dark, which is possibly the best thing to happen to me because one of my biggest peeves is getting out of bed to turn out the light when I’m done reading. Oh and also, you don’t need to think about making a new book case.

Okay, unintended sales pitch done.

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