Day 361: Spinning the wheel

2016 seems cock sure and determined not to go out quietly. As if the blows we received this year weren’t enough, today we lost another gem. I woke up to the terrible trending news, and in my head I ran through the whole gamut of GM memories. From ogling him in his itty bitty denim cut offs to heartbreak when we realised he was gay, to rediscovering the full depth and breadth of his repertoire in my late teens, to having some songs associated with some of my best people. Oddly, I spent a whole day listening to GM last month, binging on his entire Vevo channel.

It’s been a year of unprecedented loss, but if I didn’t write the typical social media outpouring of grief or an eulogy for most people this year — not Bowie, not Prince, not Muhammad Ali, not Glenn Frey, not Doris Roberts, not Zaha Hadid, not Harper Lee (I remembered Leonard Cohen, though) — it was because I just couldn’t keep up with the frequency anymore. Most times, words seemed futile.

Today, I feel no different.

So, I’m going to sleep listening to some of my all time favourite George Michael tracks.

 

 

Go well, GM.

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Day 340: Happy high

I began the weekend by posting this picture on Instagram because I missed the blue skies, the sunburns skin, the green waves and the unencumbered time to read.

mis

Here’s why. December was to begin with the announcement of the winners of the fellowship I’d applied for. I didn’t win it, un case you’re asking. To be honest, my confidence flagged when I got news that the media house received 5k applications from across the globe. An email I received on 1st December confirmed that I had in fact not won it. What I did get instead, was my domestic help taking off for two months. I haven’t cooked a meal in over 6 months. And neither VC nor I have had to do much by way of heavy lifting around the house in terms of regular chores. The help is just one of those efficient people who has become so used to the way my house functions, and takes ownership of everything she does, often going above and beyond her responsibilities, picking up even when I have slipped or forgotten something. To say my world was falling apart a week bit, would be accurate. Luckily, she found me a substitute. Just to do the cleaning though, so I’m still going to have to cook us our meals. Having two hot cooked meals appear at meal time, without even having to do much thinking has been a luxury and I’m not looking forward to planning meals, stocking up veggies and culling out time from my mornings to cook, dammit. Second, substitute help comes at 6. On. The Dot. It’s been five days, and she’s never been a minute early or late. But, it’s literally still dark out when she arrives. And I’m usually very asleep at 6 am. So to alleviate my paranoia of sleeping through her arrival, my alarm rings at 5 am and I snooze it for an entire hour, neither really sleeping, nor waking up, making it an altogether restless, useless hour in bed, before I wake up when she rings the doorbell on the dot of 6. It’s hard to be complain or grudge her punctuality. I cannot complain. But I was drowsy for the first few hours of every morning last week, which made me miss my morning workouts. I made up for it by going to the evening slot instead, but it’s not the same and I’m just not a fan of so much change in routine at once. Urgh.

You know what else I got? The morning of December 1st began with a battle with a lizard that had entered the study, so when I opened the balcony doors for some morning breeze, it scampered out from behind the curtains, running behind my cupboard, dangerously close to the bed in the room. For someone who’d get paralysed at the sight of a lizard, only to recover long enough to jump on the closest piece of furniture, descending only once the creature had been dealt with by someone, I’ve come a long way. I still shriek. I still get a little stunned. But I am able to gather myself and deal with it on my own – with the help of insecticide to make them drowsy and a long broom to probe and poke them out of the room. Double urgh.

Anyway, last week was not very productive. PMS plus PTS (what I call post therapy syndrome) had rendered me a bit dazed. So I decided to take the weekend seriously. What I did was stay in bed and not leave for practically the entire weekend. I finished one and a half books, ravenously reading and getting out from under the covers only to eat.

All of Saturday, VC was at my service, bringing me beer, food and anything else I demanded, to bed. He even sent me an sms saying “at your service” – giggle. On Sunday, I kind of returned the favour. He’s developed what is now looking like tendonitis on his left wrist which has been acting up every now and then. It flared up early yesterday morning, rendering his left arm pretty useless. Which meant, I was doing the delivery. Aside from that, I stayed in bed reading, while he watched Black Mirror.

In the evening though, I dragged myself out. Cooked some chicken 65, and planned to have dosas and chutney for dinner. R came over with beer, chips and dip, and rasmalai (!), and we watched YJHD together, which I thoroughly enjoyed for some reason. I turned in early, diving right back into my book again before passing out close to midnight, a little frantic about waking up in time for my very timely house help.

This morning, I was up on time, with this song stuck in my head. So after the maid had gone, I turned it on and turned it up. At 7.30 am.

The rest of my day has been ati fantastic. A sudden spurt of productivity has meant I finished three stories I was struggling to make progress with last week. I responded to some enquiries. I even felt empowered enough to take a bit of a ballsy (for me) professional decision that I hope is going to pay off.

Somewhere in between I cooked lunch, picked and dropped off the injured husband, and watched an episode of my current shitty TV guilty pleasure and did some admin stuff I have been avoiding.

I wish there were a day to bottle the good juju from days like this. So I can take sips of it on days when the haze of the sads descends and makes me feel and behave totally useless.

 

Day 298: Weekend snippets

“Are you feeling lonely?” my mother in law asked me on the phone the other night.

“Not at all,” I said, disappointing her.

I wasn’t lying. I do enjoy my me-time and space. The next day, Saturday at noon, I found myself still in bed and a whole book finished. I had intended to get out, shower and head to the market to replenish veggies approximately two hours earlier. Funnily, I wasn’t kicking myself about it. At about 3 that afternoon, I called VC to say hi, and he hadn’t eaten lunch. At about 8 that night, he was still napping. His afternoon nap. And I wasn’t kicking him about it either.

Whenever VC travels, especially over extended periods, my routine goes out of whack. It’s not logical, really. There’s no apparent reason. If anything, it should actually be the time things go completely to plan, my plan, because there’s no additional variables at play. And yet, it becomes the time I let go and all my schedules relax. It’s the time I stretch food cooked once across three meals, watching back to back movies, enjoy a single drink every night, take off for a drive at all kinds of odd hours, spend inordinate amounts of time in bed reading and the like.

It always happens when he is away, and this time too, bang on cue, there I was, schedule unravelling. Except, I wasn’t het up about it, nor was I berating myself about letting things slip.

I told you something has shifted. And I’m taking this too as a sign for some unlearning, and relearning that needs to happen.

This trip of VC’s has been perfectly timed, with work petering out, the overwhelming emotional few weeks also tapering down to normal again, and the need for space and time by myself coming to the fore. Despite being alone for the most part of everyday, and looking forward to evenings with VC on a daily basis, time apart like this is always welcome. I know VC is enjoying it too, because he gets to lunch at 3 pm and nap till 8 pm. Without someone to remind him about the schedule he had no part to play in formulating. Heh.

*****

I finished two books this past weekend, and over today.

In Other Words, by Jhumpa Lahiri, intrigued me completely with it’s premise. It’s a love story, an ode to a language. It is an expression of love for Lahiri’s second language – Italian. A series of short, but beautifully lyrical snippets, that I later learned were journal entries, she gives her love for the language so many different shapes and forms — each one so meaty, voluptuous and full of grain, that you can reach out and feel it. Many times I caught myself completely relating to the descriptions of love, the kind of relationships that she likens her affair with the language to, and I drifted away from the reality that it was all an ode to a language, because it takes on the form of people, of things, of places and moments, which are all somehow typical objects of love. One just never expects a language to take up so much headspace. And Lahiri does a brilliant job of bringing that love to life. It’s originally written in Italian, and translated to English. But so, so, beautifully so.

Would You Like Some Bread With That Book, by Veena Venugopal. I’ve admired Veena Venugopal’s journalistic work for so long now, that I was surprised I didn’t know she had written a book already. Actually, she’s written three, and I had no idea. So I had to remedy it quickly. On L‘s suggestion, I started with this one. It’s a book about books, quite simply. That it is a collection of essays extremely witty essays makes it even nicer to read. It’s a book for book lovers, and you’ll find yourself in more than one essay as the collection covers a lot of very relatable feelings and situations. From the nostalgia of old bookstores, the smell of yellowed pages of treasured books, seminal stories from the coming-of-age-time of our lives, inevitable literary snobbery, traversing the world of pulp and trash, and just the unbridled joy that is loving a book, which she so simply and beautifully calls “simply a relationship between the writer and the reader. It is the reader’s privilege to make of the words what she will….The book I have read is mine alone.”

I absolutely devoured it in a little under a day. It helped that that day was today, with just a few emails demanding my attention, so I could lie around and dip into the book, guiltlessly. All that was missing was some bread

*****

Work took me to this really lovely homestay. Not my first time at Arco Iris, I’ve even written about it here before, it’s already a favourite. So I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to write about them, or to visit again.

1

This time I took D along with me. It was a quiet time of wonderful company and conversation. We nearly finished an entire bottle of wine between the two of us.The food was stellar, and I got to try the upstairs Indigo room for the first time. When my friends begin to stifle yawns at near 10-pm, doing their best to stretch bedtime as much as they can, I know I’ve picked them well. The best part, though, was that I got to visit the incredibly fascinating 450-year old Menezes Braganza House in Chandor. I wouldn’t have gone by myself, and the last time VC and I dropped by, I only got a hurried walkthrough, because it was closed and we were in a rush. This time though, we got to wander around at leisure, with the great-grandson give us a tour.

2

It’s the kind of home with rooms that droop under the immense weight of their legacy. Where the walls chip away to reveal whispers of conversations it’s held secretly close for generations. Where the air echoes with whispers of century-old stories. Being in a treasure trove like that gave me goose bumps, and I was glad I finally had the opportunity to visit.

3

*****

I came back last evening and R and I caught Jack Reacher, to tick off the only missing thing in my weekend agenda — a substandard movie. Actually it wasn’t all bad because it fit the Tom Cruise-mission-impossible brief to the T, and I should have gone expecting just that. It was entertaining, so I’ll be fair and give it that.

The highlight of the evening though was the dinner of idli and vada, to assuage an unsatiated hunger that breakfast at Arco had set off. Yep, idlis for breakfast and idlis for dinner. I’m that kind of South Indian. It was topped only be R’s incredibly entertaining and hilarious real-life anecdotes that always make me laugh.

*****

I rediscovered Vijay Iyer at Arco Iris, as D and I sat in the porch outside, post dinner, chatting, while the strains of this track I’d never heard before began to echo inside the long living room. Something about late-night melodies played at the right time just hit the spot immediately, and I had to shazam this one. Needless to say, it’s been on loop ever since.

So, what did you do this weekend?

Day 295: In with the new

Things are shifting. Slowly, but surely, they are. Within, without. Inside out. Squelchy and yeeuurgh, to shiny new, bright. Hot, even. Like so.

From three weeks ago:

fillower

To, this, today:

I feel it in my bones. Everything is suddenly super light, unburdened and very fresh and bright. It’s funny and uncanny how it almost always reflects in my immediate surroundings. My desk is cleaner, my calendar light, my work done on time.

After what feels like aeons, I’m home alone again, with VC out on a super long work trip. This hasn’t happened in a long, long time. I’m having those slow days again, coinciding with work winding down in prep for my holiday. The review gig means I’m out of the house a lot. Today I even woke up, and got dressed in going-out-clothes and went to work like a normal person. (Things are shifting, I told ya!) It felt strangely nice to have somewhere to be, that wasn’t the next room. And it was awfully nice to have a chance to be presentably dressed. The weekend has me going away to another review, with a girlfriend and a bottle of seco. I could get used to this, you know?

Today, I’m just happy. I’m winding down with an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, dal-rice and lemony onions, and then my book. This one, if you’re wondering.

Happy song I discovered today:

Day 293: Stuff

Over the last few weeks I’ve been unable to write full, comprehensible posts. I’ve had so much to say. About women and safety, about why I’m learning self defence, about Priyanka Chopra’s utterly vapid Refinery29 interview, about her obnoxious choice of teeshirt for the cover of CNT, about her “beneath the surface” interview (I don’t know why she’s on my radar so much, and I’ve to remind myself to stop clicking on any link that has her name on it because it always makes me raaaage), about my renewed reaffirmed feelings for the girlfriends in my life, and thoughts about those I have let go of, therapy and some surprising facts that it has unearthed. So it has not for the lack of having things to say, but the funk I’ve been in. My brain has felt like it had stalled, performing on half battery for a bit now. But I realise in retrospect that it was probably just the natural course of things, of conserving energy, words, emotions, given that I had so little to spare and what little I did, I wanted to turn inwards, rather than dissipate. Anyway, long story short – it was hard to communicate, write, share. So much remains to be talked about, and maybe I will get to it. In the meantime, here, smatterings of things I’ve thought about journalling, but didn’t get down to.

*****

After absolute years, I’ve felt the need to escape my life. That theory about creating a life you don’t need to escape? Well, after many years of floating along painlessly, I’ve felt the simmering need to change things up again. Escape it for a bit. And I’m taking this as a sign that my life needs change. I’m starting by escaping temporarily. Early next month, I’m off to Bangalore again. This time en route to my holiday. S and I are running off for a week of girlfriend time. It all happened so fast and so unexpectedly. We were planning a trip to Gujarat, and I don’t actually know at what exact point it happened, but destinations changed and tickets were booked faster than I could say maybe-we-should-go-to. It started off being the four of us, and then one of us dropped out, then another, leaving just S and I. Much sad is happening at severely diminished numbers, but c’est la vie. Since our tickets were non refundable, we’re going, in the hope that the other two will be there in spirit. Spirit, heh, get it? Because we will have to drink and eat their share, I suppose. It only seems fair to represent them at the very least, no?

I’m mildly hysterical with excitement now that we are all finally booked, all hotel reservations done and ready to go. It only sank in once I saw all the confirmation emails. We’re going off to an island. We, well I have no plans, except to bum around on the beach, while S plans go diving. We then return to the big city, because it’s the kind of holiday VC and I would never take together. I needed to do it with girlfriends in tow, where the plan is to eat and drink some more. Just that, nothing else. If the past few holidays with the girls are anything to go by I have a fair idea of the shenanigans that will transpire. I realised somewhere in the midst of booking this trip that all my holidays/breaks this year, in and out of Goa, have been with the girls. VC and I haven’t even remotely entertained the idea of taking a break together. Okay, correction, I have entertained the idea, but not acted on it. I don’t think it has even occurred to VC. But that’s okay. Next year, big travel awaits us. (Fuck, did I just say next year?) We’re in that final leg of the year where everything is winding down and some part of me is already looking forward to wrapping up 2016 and moving on.

*****

Holiday aside, I’m looking forward to being home, even if it is just for a couple of days on either side of my holiday. I’m still that baby that wants to go back home to mommy when I’m having a rough time. I just want to tune out from regular programming for a bit, and be looked after. Is there any place other than home for that? I think not. The lack of a laptop means I won’t be taking my work with me. Pure unadulterated home time. I cannot wait.

*****

Speaking of leaving work behind. Something strange happened on the weekend. I worked. I had a sudden burst of inspiration and sat down to finish some stuff that wasn’t even immediately due or anything. I finished a lot of stuff ahead of time. And I realised I’d finished most of my big commitments for the month. With one fun on-going gig to keep me sufficiently occupied for the rest of the month before I go away on my break. Somewhere, in the midst of just trying to stay afloat these past few weeks, I didn’t realise it, but I’d gathered a lot of steam with my work. There’s a clue in there, about work and play and how much of it I need, want and am willing to give myself, that I am looking at. Because it was so good to be in that kind of flow again. The flow that has eluded me for some time now.

*****

My communication woes with editors in India continue. I used to be convinced it was something I was doing wrong, but I’ve been analysing and introspecting on a few utterly bizarre situations with mind boggling communication that I’ve experienced in the last few months, and I’m that close to putting it down to just our Indianness. Too many people at our disposal, we have no value for personal interaction, for giving someone the time of your day, for reaching out just a little bit beyond your call and duty, for preserving personal connections, for being humble. There’s nothing to lose, I realise, one writer moves on, there’s so many more in line. Perhaps editors have nothing to lose? I’m just wagering a guess here. The funny thing is some of these communication trails have been open for almost two months now, and remain unattended. And I’m waiting to see how far this will go before someone gives me a clear answer on each of these.

As an experiment, I haven’t pitched any fresh work with Indian publications in about 6 weeks now. For a while, based on the stark contrasts I find between the work ethic and general level of professional communication styles I find between Indian and Non Indian publications, I’ve feel like this is just the space that we have a lot of learning and growing up to do. And I’m talking about everything here – response time to emails, the tone in which emails are written, the urgency to get work done and out there, the alacrity with which payments are made, a sense of responsibility in fixing a wrong when there is a problem, a complete lack of power play – everything seems to happen with a lot more purpose overseas. People give a shit. I know this sounds like a generalisation, and maybe it is. I am aware that freelancers like me working overseas have their fair share of woes and a lot of them echo the kind of problems we face here, but in my experience so far, which has been fairly wide and varied, I have observed this.

So I’m testing it out with this experiment. Unfortunately, so far, my worst assumptions are coming true. And it is all kinds of disappointing.

*****

This week I had a massive flash from the past and traversed a lot of music from the good old days. Yesterday I went down the Seal-Guns N Roses-Bon Jovi-Def Leppard-Aerosmith trail and when I landed here, I got stuck. Good and proper.

Day 288: New eyes

If there’s one message that’s coming at me again and again these past few weeks, it is the need for patience. It’s an old theme that keeps coming back to me, but even more so of late. Sometimes a live project helps, to literally slow things down, bringing you within arms length of the guileless nature of waiting and watching.  It is a lesson in control, as much as it is in learning the natural rhythm of things, in picking up only when the moment is ripe. At the start of this year, I swam through a bout of waiting. It was like sitting in a cauldron of constantly bubbling, hot liquid. And it left me all sorts of undone. This time though, it’s lifting me up, one step at a time. Painfully slowly, but it has been oh so liberating. Because it has opened my eyes to all that I have ignored, compromised and lost, to impatience. In hastening everything up, in constantly rushing through time, I’ve forgotten to notice the little things — that which is unsaid, often not immediately apparent.

I’m glad for the fresh pair of eyes that has helped me see things anew. I’m happy there’s another perspective, diametrically different from my own broody, angsty one. But most of all, I’m immensely hopeful because I finally see the light. That’s all.

So here, take. Happy song for today:

Day 279: Sticky trash

You know what gets me through annoying days? Terrible music, that’s what. It’s what I turn on when I’m having trouble powering through and getting through my work, or don’t want to think about how I’m being ghosted, or I have to sift through my ideas and make a plan to get going, or when I’m just plain overwhelmed. Through much of September, it was this utterly terrible, but immensely sticky, addictive trashy pop that got me ahead.

Turn it on, tune out, power on. I think it works.

Try listening to this once and not humming it for the rest of the day week.

This one always makes me want to get up and jig. And I do.

Pretty sure this isn’t going to get old for a long time to come.

I had no idea who these Chainsmokers fellows were, a month ago. Now I have a whole playlist.

Try getting rid of these tunes form your head now.

SorryNotSorry.

Day 273: I had to talk about Coke Studio, just a little bit

So it came to my notice that I have let this entire monsoon pass without a single Coke Studio post. Baffling because this is the time of year that I miss, relive and enjoy my annual CS-Pak binge. As it happens, it is also the time of year when a shiny, new season is unveiled. This time, said new season had come and gone. And that should tell you how little it mattered to me. How it made close to no impact, and didn’t send me into raptures of love for the show, as it usually does.

I could go into miles and miles of analysis about why it didn’t work for me, as I have so many times now with various folks who share my ardent love for the show. We’ve dissected it to shreds, given our VTs and watched as the current season plummeted to irrevocable lows. But I’m going to spare you the analysis, because it’s a personal opinion and I know not everyone needs feel the same way. Long story short, I found this season lacking in clarity of thought. With a new director for every song, way too much instrumentation and the so-so production quality that Strings can deliver, there was just way too much happening this year. Every song felt loud, mish-mashed, noisy and not a single track stood out with a distinct character or a unique sound of its own – which is what I clung on to as the shows forte, for so many years now.

Yet, even in the noise, these tracks stood out for me. They’re not fantastic by any stretch of imagination. They don’t match up to the legendary level that some CS-Pak tracks from the past have achieved. I know this for a fact because none of these have consumed me in the day-long-loop fix that I usually find myself in with every season. Still, these are the only songs I enjoyed. And I think it’s only fair to share the love. However little it may be.

Best track of the season, as far as I’m concerned.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Unplugged version of a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan classic. It was hard not to like this one. Despite the fact that I think the starlet here is completely unnecessary and doesn’t have a patch on the bucket-fulls of personality RFAK brings to this track.

Because, Javed Bashir. I don’t need much else. I managed to even get to a point of listening to it while blocking out the abomination that is Ali Azmat.

For old favourites Sanam Marvi, Saieen Zahoor and parts of one of my most favourite folk songs.

Go, Enjoy?

*****

Some of you lovelies may have received my newsletter today. If you have any reactions to share, I’d deeply appreciate hearing from you.

For those of you who didn’t, and want to subscribe, go here, check out the archives if you want, and if you like what you see kindlydotheneedful,yourssincerely,thanks.

Day 265: Today, on the internet

I have been filled with incredible amounts of self-doubt and anxiety about the flurry of ideas I sent out last week. Partly because of the waiting, the silence, and the inevitable rejections that come. They always come. Of late, I have been consciously working on not taking it personally. It means constantly reminding myself that a rejection doesn’t necessarily always mean the idea sucks, or that the timing was wrong or that I am a terrible writer and shouldn’t be doing this at all.

This morning I opened one of my favourite sites, Indexed, and saw this. And it was like resetting the dials back to zero – the angst vanished, instantly.

There’s no shame in admitting that all I’m really doing is practicing, improvising, learning from trial and error and just getting by from one day to the next.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-10-11-10-pm

I totally didn’t intend to post more links so soon, but I’ve been reading such a lot of fun, amazing, thought-provoking, commendable writing stuff off late, I didn’t want to put off sharing today’s finds with you.

I watched Pink last night, and enjoyed it for the powerful, relevant, important points it makes. And for bringing the issues it does front and centre of mainstream cinema. I have to call it that because it was clear why Amitabh Bacchan was needed to pull it off. Even as it was adequately disturbing and thought provoking in an extremely visceral way, I couldn’t shake off the irony of having a story about the struggles of three regular, everyday women being overshadowed by a larger than life male icon to deliver a socially charged message. I wonder if a film like it would receive the response it got if it was missing a mainstream star like Mr Bacchan?

About the movie, but on a different note, I thought this piece about the film’s triumph, was a telling.

I haven’t read a single news item about Brangelina splitting up, but I am a sucker for Buzzfeed pieces, and I’m so glad I picked this profile from the river of clickbaity posts that usually suck up a questionable amount of any given day.

This post, one of the last things I read tonight, on travel, culture and assimilation. And a realisation about the lack of magic in it all. Sigh.

And because everybody needs a good earworm before bedtime, or to start the day, depending on where you’re reading this from:

Day 257: Down and up again

August saw a force-stop as far as work is concerned. But I didn’t realise how incredibly hectic it was with people visiting, until the last of my guests left on Saturday. I’ve pretty much been in the company of someone or the other since the end of July. And just the thought makes me feel so claustrophobic and peopled-out. To be surrounded by this kind of camaraderie is  immensely enjoyable while it lasts, and I push through into a sort of overdrive in the moment. I was making plans, always raring to go out exploring or for a meal or drink and the like. But in true introvert-style, it’s only when the last guest has left, the chairs have been put back in their place, the linen washed and put away, the glasses wiped clean and stored, and the the silence comes crashing in, does the fatigue kick in.

I slept for 15 out of 24 hours on Sunday.

Susan Cain talks about this in her book, Quiet, and if I hadn’t read it early this year I’d have thought I was ill and popped a pill or something. Engaging with people, no matter how enjoyable or stimulating, is far more taxing and demanding on intrverts/ambiverts than it is on extroverts. Obviously, it demands a lot more expulsion of energy and leaves us a lot more fatigued at the end of it. So it wasn’t just the alcohol, heavy food and late nights talking. I was really, literally people-d out.

Reading the book definitely helped accept this as a natural by-product of needing a fixed amount of down time to recharge batteries every now and then. So instead of fighting it and forcing myself to push on and get going with life, I allowed myself to relax. I spent the waking hours of Sunday reading, we ate leftovers for lunch and went out to eat a greasy dinner of Indian Chinese.

It was so needed. One day of sloth was all it took. Who’d have thought? Because after spending a good part of last week dragging my feet to slip out of that “holiday” mode, even though I promised myself I would resume work at the start of September, I snapped right into it yesterday. And I surprised myself.

Catching up on emails, and my work feeds on facebook, my brain was on fire. Ideas snapped out faster than I could keep up with them and I had to reign it in, breathe, put pen to paper and jot things down before they escaped me.

I pitched a total of 11 publications in 2 days. The most productive I have been in a long time. Some of those pitches had multiple ideas. This is not to brag because it’s entirely possible that absolutely none of them will convert and be commissioned in the form I imagine. But I’m just happy to get going for now. Of course there’s the part where every Indian editor I’ve pitched has seen my emails multiple times but hasn’t responded, all my American editors were likely asleep when I emailed them so those emails remain unopened. And I’m stuck here refreshing my inbox every 45 seconds. Oh, the joys of the freelancer life!

Since I’m starting with a clean slate, there’s going to be some waiting, I know. But, if I hear back from even a third of the number of people I pitch this week (there will be more emails sent out tomorrow and day after!), I will be okay.

I spent a significant time updating my collections sheet that I haven’t looked at all month, today. For the first time this year, I have zero outstandings. I can’t explain how good that feels.

I then sorted out my saved links, compiled all the bits and bobs of ideas floating in various places into my pitch list. colour coded the rejections and planned out my next wave of pitches too.

I’m inexplicably pumped today. You know how you feel it in your bones somedays? Even with a full day of work, and a long night ahead, you feel like you will get through it feeling okay?

That.

In other news, I’m mildly in shock that I received a surprising 34 subscriptions to my newsletter. I’ve got a ton of new music I am waiting to dig into. I’m reading a super fun book that I’m looking to finish tonight, and already have my next book lined up. I changed things around with my workout routine, once again, and it seems to have kicked my metabolism back in shape slightly. I almost couldn’t believe it when I closed this mornings kickboxing class with 5000+ steps and 1000+ calories clocked.

And all that done, I felt like I could sneak in a run in the evening. But I decided against it. I have a double whammy workout tomorrow – morning and evening sessions – and I must conserve energy.

That said, I’m feeling extra energetic, overall.

If this is the high that I can be sure to get every time I hit rock bottom, and then take time out to recuperate, I’m going to do this more often.

If committing to a holiday, with the unwritten promise to myself to work my ass off retrospectively, can somehow turn the switch and spark this level of earnest productivity, I may be on to something.

If this is the amount of energy sleeping for 15/24 hours can generate, I might consider calling Sunday, Sleepday.

Here, share some of my energy? I have enough to go around a couple of times.

And then some.

Day 210: 2016 monsoon earworms

As I began to write this, I titled it Day 2010. You know, 207, 208, 209, 2010. I’m losing my head, I really am. I realised yesterday that my music listening really spikes in the monsoon. It’s definitely a result of an overall chirpy mood. Good weather makes everything better, and makes for awesome ambience, all the damned time. All every day needs is its own sound track, which I have been providing very willingly, right from the very first year here.

Every monsoon ends up having it’s anthem – that one track that gets used and abused, on loop, for weeks on end. It’s the one track that gets forever labelled with the monsoon it is assigned to, and will then forever be categorised with that year for all of time to come.

I quickly scrolled through the The Rain tag and realised just how many posts are accompanied by rain music. Every monsoon even has it’s own mammoth music post that usually features a lot of Coke StudioThis song always makes a comeback in this season.  And all the music listening makes me very, very nostalgic. As it did even as recently as yesterday. But mostly it’s an odd unconnected mix of lots of music that is inspired around this time of year. Sometimes it’s Bollywood-y. sometime’s it’s an ode to our annual dose of Coke Studio.

This year, it’s been a random assorted bunch of stuff but there have been some frequent, oft-repeated tracks that are going to always be associated with the Monsoon of 2016.

Like Moon Child, which is just perfect for the rain and gets played a minimum of three times a day, no matter what else I may listen to.

And then there’s been a strange Shakthisree comeback thanks to listening to a lot of Indian inde music that R digs out and shares with me from time to time. Have you watched this movie? Just listening to this song I don’t understand, makes me want to watch it.

I can’t remember when or where I first heard this song, but I had it shazamed and ready to listen to when I got home, and it promptly came back to me on one particularly rainy day. And then it has stuck.

Have you heard the wonder that is Nicholson? This song in particular? You may have seen it on my instagram.

This song from Waiting has been getting a daily play.

And my interest in this old Coldplay song was rekindled.

Okay, that’s all, I think. Enjoy maadi. And if you want more music, look here.

Day 209: Smoke and ashes, email trails and matters of the heart

In a strange and unexpected twist of events today, I suddenly found myself rummaging through old emails dating back to the very beginning of my gmail account. It’s just about 8 years ago, but frankly every time this happens, it feels like I’m going back to the start of time. It’s just an unnecessary trip to take, quite honestly. Because it stirs feelings I’ve pushed away, instances I’ve chosen to filter out and it brings to the surface a mixture of nostalgic tinged with wistful longing for a different time that is so long gone there is absolutely no trace of it to cling on to. Except when you go looking for it, in gmail accounts and folders in your hotmail account that bear questionable names. One folder in particular, called “lau” – ayyo, yes, really. That folder always leaves me happy-sad. Happy for the good times and innocence, sad for the naivety and the struggle that I was rather oblivious to back then, but I see so crystal clear now. Right there in my inbox, I traced my way down the entire life cycle of one of the major relationships in my life, right to the end where it crashed and burned leaving a trail of smoke and ashes, that still lingers even till today, evidently.

How else do you explain what I was doing in the inbox of an email account I don’t even use anymore. Why are these emails still there? Why do I still know this password? Why are some memories so vivid and some others catch me by surprise when I read about them? So many questions.

Next stop, transitioning from hotmail to gmail, of course, I was neck deep in emails from 8 years ago. Chats with friends who helped me keep my sanity intact, during my years hopping from one ad agency to the next, like it was going out of style. There were chats of serious advice, of hatching plans to escape the world, rants about work, rants about Bangalore and being a single girl finding her way to work, rants about boys, rants about my then angst ridden rebellious relationship with my parents, a lot of rants basically. But I had some good people in my life, from the looks of it. Solid folks who stuck it out with me, heard me out, entertained my constant complains, kept me afloat, and shared a shit ton of good music with me. Through good times, bad times, melancholic times, moody times – there were so many youtube links and mp3s shared in email attachments.

I landed on this one chat in particular, where this song was shared:

This is such a bloody good song. And suddenly I went right back to that day. It was a long evening working, at what was probably my third or fourth job. I had been complaining to this boy who was once a very good friend, about the auto ride to work and how I was tired of being ripped off every single day just getting to work. I was also complaining about a relationship that was dwindling but refused to die a silent death. And I spoke of the existence of another boy who I never expected to be interested in, but suddenly had been eating up large chunks of my attention (I’m talking about VC, of course). I complained about being unable to deal with it all. I complained about not wanting anything to do with any of them. I claimed I wanted a no strings, happy, fun fling (hah, as if I was capable of it!). Here was a boy being the best friend a girl could have – and I mean this in an entirely platonic way. Saying all the right things, being there and listening patiently when she was complaining, sending her lovely music that was hugely appropriate for the moment, touching all the right chords and basically being a little too awesome to be true. So awesome that for some reason, I, in what now seems like a very stupid move, casually quoted a line from this song I was obsessing over at the time.

And we should be together

I suffixed it with “dammit!” and I slipped it into an email, quite unthinkingly. It was just a dramatic line from the song, and I didn’t think much of nonchalantly, flicking it away like a just-lit match glowering and sizzling as it cuts through the air, going out with a hiss. Leaving only smoke and ashes, baby.

What followed, and what I saw in a string of emails, was a confused exchange between me and said boy. Mostly him picking up on a sign he probably saw, that I had inadvertently led him to believe was there. And in the midst of it all, was this song, embedded in an email. This was before the days of ripping any damned youtube song I want, using third party sites that turn videos to mp3s. Finding music meant looking for a torrent and using a peer to peer file sharing software to download it. It meant only finding stuff that was popular and that would be easily accessible on people’s shareable file systems. It meant not finding slightly less popular Tracy Chapman tracks with as much ease as say the latest club track. And yet, there I was, quoting this amazing song to this lovely boy, and asking him to find me the song.

Find it for me, he did.

*****

Today this unexpected, but altogether pleasant trip was triggered by the most unlikely chain of events that started here, with the discovery of this song that came out early this morning:

Just a regular catchy Hindi movie song that’s a massive throwback to only like one of the most favourite jig-worthy tracks from my late teenage years. No big deal.

So of course, I may have played the song way too many times for my own good, as I am known to do very, very often.  Except this time, I may have somehow pakaoed myself by the continuous loop. Now that is a first even for me.

One thing led to another, and before I knew it I was going down a slippery slope. Sukhbir, Bally Sagoo, Stereo Nation and everything in between, including the likes of dil le gayi kudi gujarat ki and laung gawacha and oh god I don’t even want to tell you what else.

And then, I don’t know why, but suddenly I was in my email account, looking at old emails and feeling too many feels for a Wednesday evening, triggered by an avalanche of music that traversed Punjabi pop and ended with Tracy Chapman.

And here I am listening to it for only the 56th time since I saw the email. Yep, it’s on loop. I don’t know how this happened. Sometimes I don’t understand how my brain works. But I know how this will go. The song will play on loop, till my light and my heat have all been spent, leaving only smoke and ashes. Only smoke and ashes, baby.

Please send help, I’m drowning in a pool of my own feels and I’ve forgotten how to swim.

Day 204: Homebody

As much as this is great weather to be out (because it’s not impossibly hot as it can be at other times of the year in Goa) I’ve realised this is also the perfect weather to stay in. The rain makes for an excellent view, a rather welcome constant background noise and everything is just so cool and pleasant. Today, I didn’t even need the fan on. One week of raining, and I’m officially cold.

If you’re the sort of person who can spend long periods of time with yourself, and rarely hate being alone, and almost never get tired or bored of being by yourself, working from home is the best arrangement you could ask for. I sometimes go for days, sometimes more than a week, without stepping out to meet people. I am able to keep the socialising and getting out and about to a minimum because I’ve realised it works for me and so I choose to have it that way. And it’s much easier to do because I don’t have an office to get to every day. A visit to gym less than a 2-minute drive away is about as far as I go on any given day. And if I were to be honest and admit how I really feel about it, I’d have to say I’d find my time at the gym infinitely nicer if I didn’t have to engage with people. I allow my errands to pile up so I have to get out once to run through them every ten days or so. I stockpile my groceries and veggies, limiting visits to the market to the minimum. When it comes to socialising, it helps that there are very few people who would try and come over or have me go over. So I do, when I’m up for it. In recent time I’ve gotten very good at being honest in turning down invitations when I’m not feeling like it. For the most part I’ve designed a life that is greatly suited to being alone. And I’m not sure if it’s now just a matter of habit but I really it. Waking up with nowhere to go, but having a whole day to do as I please is always a lovely feeling.

Recently I ran rattled off my typical routine to someone who was visibly stunned that I don’t need to get out for something or the other every day. I really don’t. Not even for fresh air.

Two days ago, I realised it had been over a week since I had stepped out. A visit to the doctor and the path lab don’t count. It was the first day I was able to get out of bed and not feel drained of energy. So I drove over to one of my favourite cafes all the way in Assagaon. With a notebook for company. Over many Americanos and a delicious Haianese stir-fried chicken over brown rice, I got a fair bit of writing and thinking done. It rained the whole time, and from the window where I sat, I saw a peacock perched on a large raintree outside the cafe. Then I packed up some brownies for later, and drove back home. The rain had tempted me to step out. Like I said, this is great weather to be out and about. But I was quick to come back home.

Why did I suddenly think about all this? Well, today, I went back to the gym after ten days away and it was nice. I came home and spent the rest of the day working, which is a vast improvement from the week gone by. It’s Friday and I could have been out with friends this evening, but in a completely predictable turn of events (for me), I chose to stay in and work on unfinished things. I’ve been a hectic socialiser in the past. I’ve had bouts of it up until recently too. But despite it all the inner loner always rises to the surface and wins. Goa did this to me, you know? Goa with its splendid outdoors, lust-worthy monsoony weather, beautiful places all within drivable distances from me, did this to me.

What can I say, Goa silenced the frenetic pseudo-socialiser in me, and unearthed this homebody who’s in no mood to go away any time soon.

*shruggy guy*

*****

Current rain-induced stay-at-home mood:

Day 202: I’ll be fine, sipping wine, taking time slow

Being laid up the last few days with not much else to do (until S introduced me to couchtuner and I discovered I could watch Arrested Development on it, that is heh.) put me in a great place to sit and think about a certain meltdown that occurred last week that I am increasingly beginning to feel aggravated my illness. It turned a regular viral fever into a monster fever. Addled my brain and set my mind off on a tailspin that did me more harm than than the illness did.

It boils down to the restlessness I keep talking about. I’ve felt it since late last year, and it has ebbed and flowed at various points. Sometimes I have felt like I may be on to something, and that I’ve silenced the constant nagging feeling with the rhythm and cacophony of my daily life, and other times when the silence creeps back, it is back to square one. Mostly it’s this feeling like everything that I’m doing is merely a run up to the next thing, and that next thing is around the corner. But I’m not quite there yet. I feel like I’m still coasting along in the vast grey of transition. Like I haven’t quite peaked. Like the best is yet to come. Like I’m waiting for that opportune moment, for that one experience that will kick it out the park for me.

This restlessness has been festering within me for so long now, I’ve become almost accustomed to it. With every step forward, I feel the goalposts move further up, the demands growing. Every moment that lights up with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, comes with the reminder of how much remains to be done. So many things to write about, so many dream publications left to strike off my bucket list, so many places to visit, so many books to read, so many experiences left to be had. And here I am, waiting for my turn in the sun is yet to come around. Yes, there is a sense of waiting. As if I am on pause, and everything I am doing is but a run up to the real deal of some sort.

I know, I know, it’s probably no different from the way just about every one of us feels. The more we do, the more there is to aspire for. And if I were to be really honest, this feeling is kind of unfounded. Because there is plenty to be glad for at the moment. I live in one of the most wonderful states in India. I’m married to possibly the most supportive and understanding man I’ve met, who makes our life here possible in more ways than one. I have the privilege and luxury to work out of home, on my terms, doing the kind of work I want to do. I’ve been lucky to have a comfortable well-kept life without the demands of being the bread-winner so I can scale my work up the way I want. I have the capacity to travel as and when I want to. I’m blessed with an able body, access to healthy food and a metabolism that lets me indulge and exercise to the extremes that I do. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to choose this life, free of most of the encumbrances that people at my life-stage and age usually have to deal with. Our parents are able and healthy and don’t yet need us, we have no children or other major responsibilities. I have the support and love of my family, some of the most wonderful friends I’ve had in all my life. It’s a great time to be alive. And yet, here I am longing for the page to turn. It’s like my reality and the wants of my heart are often at loggerheads.

If I were to be really honest, and by honest, I mean if I were to think straight, unclouded by emotion and that reckless, endless desire for the what next, and look at things very objectively, I’d realise, as I so often do, that it is in fact a bloody good time to be alive. And sure, this may very well be the “run up for what is to come.” But it doesn’t take away from the fact that this right here, is life, in the now.

It’s in the rhythms of my daily routine. In the tiny little insignificant acts that dot each new day. In the waking of every dawn and fading of every sunset, punctuated by successes big and small; some moments of despair and disappointment; a rollercoaster learning curve; every pay check; in the weekends spent home; in the wholesome meals in my plate; in every milestone conversation with VC that is worth remembering for a lifetime; in every giggle fit; every epiphany and seminal moment of change. This is it. Life is happening, it’s unfolding right now as I sit around waiting for it to…well, happen.

This is not a new lesson or learning. These are things I have arrived at time and again. Lessons in patience, in waiting, in growing a little, and in learning to be brave and audacious. In reminding myself of all of this, time and time again. Because evidently, I forget.

It took a a week of forced silence and rest to remind myself again. When my blood work turned out completely clear, and in fact showed stellar numbers proving that physically there was no reason I had to be sick so soon again, I knew that perhaps this was just a necessary pause. To refocus and pay attention, rethink and remind myself yet again. To quit waiting. To be present because this is life. It is happening right now. And it is enough.

*****

Current mood:

Day 181: Holiday vibes

So much conversation!

I left a drenched, rain-soaked Goa, running on a severely inadequate amount of sleep. But I was so excited to finally be off, I couldn’t catch a nap on my early morning flight either. I was met at the airport by two bright and smiley faces, because R and S came to fetch me in time for breakfast. All traces of fatigue and sleepiness vanished as soon as the chattering began, of course. Needless to say, we began to gab from the moment go. I don’t think there was a doubt about how much we would talk, and we lived up to our own prediction of non stop chatter.

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So much food!

The other prediction we made was that food and everything food-related would score high in guiding the way the itinerary would pan out. Between the three of us, we knew the food was a large part of the reason we decided to venture into the Chettinadu region, and literally everything else was great-to-have, but incidental. We were right on that count too. We sought out all the food we had been hyper-ventilating about in the run up to the holiday. This was particularly endearing and satisfying for me because I’ve been feeling incredibly homesick for South Indian food of late. Goan food is great, but I’ve grown a little bored of it of late. Contrary to popular belief, Goa isn’t a superb destination for a variety of cuisines that deliver on quality, and I have really felt the lack of it in recent times.

We hit Saravana Bhavan as soon as I landed and I didn’t drink a single cup of chai until the very last day. And the food, oh the food in Chettinadu region, omg, deserves a post of its own. But I will probably never get down to writing it. So let me sum it up: lunch on day 1 was a banana leaf affair with 25+ things to eat, including some really unique things like a traditional black rice pudding, some highly local assorted curries with no generic or overlapping flavours, fish and chicken. Dinner on both days was a sit-down, set-menu deal with not as many dishes as at lunch, but fulfilling none the less because it also featured really obscure (from where I come from) flavours and preparations with such distinct character and textures. We didn’t repeat a single dish across the three days we were there. Breakfasts were so special, and I ate some steamed and fried sweet and savoury dumpling type things that were totally new to me. So yummy I gave the dosas a miss! On day 2 we went to a local mess for lunch. The kind that only accommodates about 5-6 tables that you sometimes share with strangers, eating off banana leaves that are placed after you swish away a multitude of flies. The meal included mountains of rice served by these smiley women with hairnets on, who served us like they were serving us in their homes, not taking no for an answer. Accompanying the rice was a huge array of curries that we could pick from, and were then brought to us in small single servings. The curries on offer included chicken, prawns, fish, mutton, liver, paya, talae or “head meat”, bheja, crab, and fried fish on the side. Everything we ate was awesome and it was so hard to pick a favourite.

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R and her husband E cooked us some amazing food in their home. A fabulous mutton curry and coconut milk rice one day, and a layered beef biryani with fried prawns that E kept ready for us the night we drove back to Madras. Multiple cups of amazing filter coffee punctuated the entire trip of course.

So much fun.

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Every evening S and I took a dip in the hotel pool, after sunset when we’d returned from our wandering. And we couldn’t help but realise that none of us had felt the need for alcohol. Except for the first day at R’s, I didn’t have a single drink during the entire course of the trip. I just didn’t need anything for additional mellowing. We went to sleep early-ish every night, sleeping in, in our comfy extra luxurious beds and waking up to filter coffee and a day out.

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We met some wonderfully hospitable people at the hotel. The kind that makes a trip memorable and extra special. Conversations that go beyond the hello-where-are-you-from, bonding with inspiring people who make you question your thinking and realign your perspective a little, leaving you with a fair bit to think about even as you drive out waving goodbye.IMG_5519

There was a lot of wandering in markets. In Karaikudi we walked endlessly through the veggie market, antique gully, two Chettinad cotton saree-weaving units and an Athangudi tile-making unit. On the last morning we also took a short cycle ride through the village we stayed in, much to the amusement of people going about their regular Sunday morning.

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Back in Madras we visited Mylapore, where I bought a saree and ogled mogra and other local market wares. Topped it up with a South Indian thali meal at Saravana Bhavan and shopping for fried things, masalas and filter coffee powder to bring back to Goa.

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Much fun was had all round. And now that I have put much of it down here, I know why my heart (and belly!) felt so full.

Here, happy song to capture the mood:

Day 159: What I watched

It all started when S declared that she had suddenly discovered the impossibly yummy thing that is Nivin Pauly. Odd, I thought, because even I know who that is. I had looked him up after N had told me about Bangalore Days when she visited earlier. A long discussion of some 200+ comments ensued, with all her friends pitching in with their exclamations about all the things Nivin makes them feel, the many movies he plays different roles in, and what sequence on ought to watch them in. I believe someone even said, start with an appetiser, then move on to the main course and dessert. This went on all day, and returned to the thread to see what the latest contribution was, just so I could draw up a list of movies to watch. Maybe watching Sairat triggered some interest in regional films, I don’t know. At one point someone tagged someone who knows Nivin, even. Because, one degree of separation. Then someone demanded that Nivin himself be tagged on the thread because he really needed to see this wave of mass-appreciation. It was all very entertaining, because most of it was in capital letters, which somehow really amplified my urgency to dive in to the world of Nivin Pauly. Through his movies of course. Along the way, a whole lot of other movie names were dropped too, and I was also introduced to other specimen. And so the list grew. I decided to try and watch a few of these movies, with curiosity-piquing names like Ustaad Hotel and Action Hero Biju. Realising very quickly that a recently copied chunk of movies had Bangalore Days and OK Kanmani, I began the binge.

Bangalore Days was immensely enjoyable. I don’t have any context of Malayalam cinema, but this seemed like (to put it very badly, for the lack of a better way to describe it) it could be a Hindi movie in a different language. It had the slickness of one of a multiplex blockbuster. A light-hearted and frothy storyline, with all the right elements to appeal to a decidedly young audience – young actors, that familiar restlessness, a little unreasonable rage all mixed together with the multiple love stories, and of course, a happy ending. What’s not to like? The ensemble cast of mostly very good looking young boys and girls made it even easier on the eyes.

That it was made largely in Bangalore, with enough references to many things about the city (Cafe Thulp, tuning into the morning show on FM, eating in darshinis, young people tinkering with automobiles convinced that they’re changing the world, if you must know) made me very nostalgic. But it’s also filmed in that pleasant, warmly-lit, vignette-y fashion which was quite a visual delight. The central theme was love and marriage, predictably, but each of the three central characters present a different approach to it, which was pretty neat.

Nivin Pauly, as well endowed as he is in the good looks department, wasn’t my favourite. He plays a very sweet character – an almost geeky boy settling into a big city – but I proved to myself yet again that it’s the angry, restless, bad boys I always gravitate towards. Like Dulquer Salmaan who plays a bike racer and modifier, aspiring to get back on the track after facing a ban. But Fahadh Faasil was probably the hottest of the lot, especially in his biker-boy avatar, if I were to judge them by their looks alone. The women were good looking too. I have always thought Nitya Menen is girl-crush-worthy. But the other two – Nazriya Nazim and Parvathy – were spunky, and held their own. And the best part – they can all act. Well.

Curiosity sufficiently aroused, I quickly picked Mani Ratnam’s OK Kanmani next (available on Netflix, for those of you who haven’t seen it and may want to), because it has Dulquer Salmaan and Nitya Menen in the lead. Immediately, the movie is so gorgeously shot, with that classic Mani Ratnam treatment, with almost every scene beautifully framed, with delicious colours, classy, earthy sets and an immensely good looking lead couple engaging in the song and dance of falling in love. In Bombay, of course.

It takes off on a very progressive tangent, with the couple choosing living-in with each other, over marriage. It has all the signs of being a movie that will make a statement about marriage not being the only end of the road for a couple in love, but tragically makes a detour about half way through, take a rather preachy and predictable route. The main love plot (Dulquer-Nitya) is juxtaposed not-so-subtly with the older couple (Prakash Raj-Leela Samson), to enumerate the many virtues of marriage, – supposedly stability, confirmed companionship, someone to care for you when you’re old and ill. Sweet as the picturisation is, I just found it a little preachy and overbearing.

I suppose every big movie doesn’t have to make a statement and come out like it is challenging a norm, but it is not too much to expect it from Mani Ratnam, right? Especially when the first half of the movie sets a refreshingly less predictable tone. Nitya’s character is bold, unafraid to express her sexuality and she plays an active role in calling the shots in the relationship. She takes Dulquer into her hostel, is as vocal about wanting sex as she is about denouncing marriage as an institution, makes it abundantly clear that her career gets first preference when compared to her future in Bombay or her interest in her partner. She stands up to Dulquer’s interfering family, as much as she does to her own mother. Not typical qualities you see in the way mainstream female leads are characterised. And somehow all that is for naught, when the story makes a turn for the staid path of orrey the lou-u, quite inexplicably. That progression is depicted through a series of very random and childish-seeming disagreements between the two, which put me off for a bit. But you know, despite it all they’re both really  great actors, shared electric chemistry and AR Rahman’s wizardry added an extra dose of magic and I breezed through the movie and enjoyed it. I was just a touch disappointed with the very expected end, in which the couple neatly (and quite literally) ties all the loose ends together. In a knot. Of marriage.

The obvious next step was to search for all the other films, many of which I realised are fairly recent and thanks to my terrible Internet searching skillz, very hard to find. So, I had to opt for something older. And so I watched Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya, at long last. I enjoyed about 20 minutes of it before the immense stalkerish feels began to get to me and I wondered how films like this become superhits to begin with. How many girls like me can actually identify with this kind of coerced love, I wondered. Silly me. I quickly reminded myself that one thing VC always tells me – I’m not the target audience. Which is somehow even scarier, because it means there is a large audience that unquestioningly watch and patronise films like this.

Again, the stellar music took me through the movie, and the ending was refreshing in that it wasn’t a predictable happy ending. But OH MY GOD, in getting there, I experienced frequent moments of rolling my eyes to a parallel universe and back. The girl has NO say in the matter for a good 3/4th of the movie, when the dude is just on her case the whole time. From the moment he sets eyes on her he decides it’s love and that he must marry her. The rest of the movie is spent in him going to all kinds of ridiculous lengths to show her how much he loves her and that they need to be together because it’s what he thinks is the purpose of his life, and anything less is not fair goddamit (there are actual dialogues along these lines). The whole time she is meek and coy and doing a very bad job of telling him to back the eff off. Twice, her family threatens to get her married off, again without her consent in the matter, when they find her talking to this Hindu boy (she’s Christian). Then, all of a sudden, about 75% of the film thru, she decides she wants to be with him and will wait for him. Except then she gets whiny and drags him our of an important work assignment, only to tell him she’s calling the whole thing off. Ouff, if it weren’t for ARR’s music, I probably wouldn’t have sat through it. But it’s good I did because, silver lining, the dude is forced to move on and channel all the hurt and angst into a creative pursuit. He makes a movie. A love story. Where a boy sees a girl and decides he wants to marry her. But she won’t have it. And so he has to chase her around the world trying to convince her why she should be with him. And..well, you get the drift. The good part is, in the end, they amicably decide to go their separate ways, which came as a surprise because I totally expected them to end up together.

“Guy looks at girl and bam, she’s his pondatti,” N tells me, is a pretty common extension of this unrealistic and frankly just twisted approach to lau-u, from the movies to real life. I’ve seen it in some measure too, with an ex-colleague who had no concept of consent and became so unhinged and removed from reality chasing his one love (a girl from a significantly more well to do family, and a higher caste, I think), that it ended in the girl being forced to marry someone (probably with no say in the matter) all so her parents could make sure she wouldn’t end up with my ex colleague. Unfortunate, on every count, but mostly just so twisted.

Okay happy things. Like music.

Maybe my distaste comes from watching a movie long after it’s time. Like when I watched DDLJ some 15 years too late, and it made my skin crawl so bad, that I didn’t even get through it. But I do enjoy a lot of the recent crop of Hindi movies. So I’m moving on from the regressive older lot of regional films, to more recent ones. Or so I’m telling myself. Mostly, I’m just finding ways to get through the list that came very highly recommended on S’d fb list. Since they all feature Nivin Pauly and Dulquer Salmaan, I am told.

So, I’m going to go on a binge very soon. But can someone tell me how Dulquer is pronounced? I feel like I should know, considering I’ve spent a questionable amount of time the last three days ogling him.

Day 158: No words today

I watched a questionable number of Malayalam and Tamil movies over the weekend, inspired by a very giggly, hormone-driven discussion about the collective jaw-dropping beauty of Nivin pauly, Dulquer Salmaan and Fahadh Faasil on S’s fb, that I eavesdropped on and diligently noted down names of movies from. I had a bunch of observations to make, apart from the fact that it’s a crying shame I’ve ignored Malayalam and Tamil cinema so far.

(pssst: those of you who regularly watch Malayalam and Tamil movies, do you know where I can download them?)

But I’m shutting shop after a super productive and mentally exhausting Monday. And I have no words left for today. My productivity has suddenly seen a spike in the last 10 days or so. I’ve been trying some new tricks and whadya know, so far they seem to be working. The downside is even though I have a lot to say, I’m exhausted and all out of words. Today, at least. So I will try and come back to the post tomorrow.

For now, listen to what I listened to, on loop today.

Day 150: Ten

If I were to think of existential angst as a journey that needs discovering, then I’d have to think of every little moment of self discovery as an important milestone. Every crossroad, an opportunity to choose from multiple opportunities to seek a new meaning, love, happiness, contentment. I’ve been down this path before, sometimes finding myself in familiar, comfortable terrain – clear blue skies, lacy white clouds, spring nip in the air, plum weather to be out there doing the discovering. Sometimes I’m lost, tumbling down unfamiliar places, racing through, trying to grab a hold of whatever I can manage to.

Through it all, only one thing has remained constant. Every time I or someone else asked me what it is I see myself doing, how I want to proceed, what else I’d spend my life indulging in – the answer has always been the same. Writing.

And if there’s one space that is testament to my claim, it is this blog. Ten whole years of writing this blog, to be precise.

When I decided to write a post a day at the start of this year, I didn’t realise it was my tenth year. I knew I’d ignored this space for far too long last year. I felt disconnected from what makes me, me. And I missed having the time to ramble on about whatever the hell I wanted to. When I realised that it was in fact the tenth year, I felt it was serendipitous that I chose this year to dedicate some of my time to this again. 

Apparently, it is my WordPress-anniversary today, or so my stats tell me. Five whole years since I moved to here. I remember contemplating it long and hard, for many weeks before I made the shift. Partly because there’s something grown-up-pants-y about WordPress, or at least I thought so and told myself moving to WordPress made my blog more serious hyuk! The truth, at the time, was probably nothing more than the fact that I am such a creature of habit and a sucker for ease of use, which blogger had aplenty before it went bonkers on me.

This month, I complete ten whole years of blogging. I don’t have a date, I’ve never marked it out and so it came and went silently. When WordPress reminded me that it’s my fifth anniversary blogging in here, I was reminded again. And today is day 150. Nice and round, kind of inching towards the halfway mark, it seemed like a fitting day to reminisce.

I’ve gone full circle, ticking off every level of involvement and attachment towards this blog in the years gone by. It’s seen me go through my cranky, whiny, entitled, bratty twenty-something college-goer years to the highs and lows of my first job, the angsty loves of my life, my tremendously painful years looking for work that satisfied me, my marriage, moving to Goa, and all the years spent here, which I think is fit to make so many mini chapters on its own.

Through it all, only one thing has remained constant. Every time I or someone else asked me what it is I see myself doing, how I want to proceed, what else I’d spend my life indulging in – the answer has always been the same. Writing. And if there’s one space that is testament to my claim, it is this blog. A decade of writing this blog. 

I’ve used this space as a place to rant, to express myself, to flex my writing muscle, to experiment, to gamble. I’ve even gone from dismissing it as extra curricular non serious stuff to realising that this format I’ve been fkpracticinfor a decade has potential, if I choose to see it that way. 

I know now that this blog has played a big role in realising that there’s literally nothing else I’d rather be doing. This is where it began. I know no better, I have no other special skills, I don’t want to do anything else. This is me, this is what I do. And what I’ll probably keep doing till the end of time, no matter what else catches my fancy along the way. Like King said, in what is still my best book on writing,

Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.

On that note, here’s a happy song for today, go tekkit <3

This year, more than ever before, I realised with astounding clarity, that I’m nowhere near done. Even though there are days when it feels like I’ve hit a wall, I’m all out of juice, I’m far from done. This writing business, it hasn’t run out. And I’m not done drinking. 

Day 144: Monday, this week

There was a time I collated cool things I saw on the Interwebz. Now I do it on fb, and since I’m filling in on missed time, I’m cheating/taking the easy way out and dropping a bunch of cool things I saw/posted/enjoyed off facebook last week. Here goes (in no particular order).

Boss-lady MIA talking about recycling everything.

 

Boss-lady Amy Tan talking about strength.

Carrie talking about what I interpreted the struggle through self-doubt, shame, guilt and all the feels, in rising again.

This spot-on article about the downward spiral of social-media-influencer led marketing.

Influencers are going to start disappearing. Brands are going to start realizing the amount of followers you have doesn’t mean shit. Just because photos look good and have 200,000 followers means nothing. You can’t rely on content creators all day long. For the influencers, their entire business is about relationships and friendships. Someone was at Vice, so uses their friend to do photography. Someone knows someone else at Instagram so gets featured on the trending page. We live and die by these platforms today. Rest in peace, influencers. Long live the next thing.

I’ve felt this was inevitable, and in many ways the hunch is what made me stay firmly away from steering my blog and the food blog in the direction most Indian blogs and food blogs are going. And going by previously followed patterns and how we’re always two steps behind the west, I’m guessing this bubble will burst here too. Soonly.

Obama was in Vietnam. And this happened <3

I’ve been at the receiving end of wayyyyy too much unwanted, unexpected and totally unsavoury male attention. I’ve talked about it to the moon and back with S and S and it seems I’ll need to learn to literally and physically master this.

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Last week, after what seems like an absolute age, Coldplay came out with a track I actually, really liked.