Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I have new curtains as part of my long-forgotten reorganisation drive. Dull gold with blue-green vines. I think they go with my walls. I like them. Panda likes them too. He comes barrelling through them several times a day, pointy nose first. I keep them parted for as long as I can though, in order to catch stray rays of sunshine. 

It's getting a little bit colder each day. This morning when Panda woke me up, he had to wait impatiently as I rooted in my cupboard for a sweater. It's his fault really. Sensible dogs wait for the sun to come out before they demand walks.

I miss the sun. It slipped away from right under our noses, and now it's gone all the way to the Southern Hemisphere. The rays it sends from the Indian Ocean really aren't the same thing. 

Panda was sitting in a stray ray of light from the window yesterday. It illuminated his chin and his white whiskers, turning them golden, like he'd guiltily swallowed sunshine.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

He ate it up

Sometimes, reader, I worry if I'm spoiling my dog. He hasn't been eating, this past week. The vet says this often happens to dogs during mating season and that we aren't to worry. It's hard not to worry though, if your dog is visibly losing weight, doesn't drink milk, refuses all his treats and isn't tempted by even his favourite illicit cream-filled biscuits. Besides, I missed having him sitting at the kitchen door sniffing eagerly while I baked.

We tried everything. Liver stimulant tonics, exercise, the silent treatment, several attempts of me sticking my face into his bowl and pretending to eat its contents with audible relish. What finally worked was rice flour balls. On the day before yesterday, Patti was teaching me how to make kuzhakattais (which will show up in a blog post on Poppadom shortly) and we had a little leftover rice flour, which we rolled into balls to steam and season later. Panda sat up and took notice when I walked past holding a bowlful of kuzhakattais, so on an impulse I took out a ball and rolled it across the floor. Panda chased after it and ate it up. Overjoyed, we rolled ball after ball at him and he ate them all up.

Since then, egged on by Patti, I've been cooking freshly ground rice flour daily, kneading the resultant dough, rolling it into balls and steaming them. Then, once they cool sufficiently, I lob one at Panda's head, he runs after it, and then crawls under the bed to eat it. We this over and over again, till he loses interest. Luckily, his memory is very short, so we repeat performances several times a day. It has to be the most roundabout way of feeding a dog.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Last week, a girl committed suicide at the metro station I board the train from. I read about it in the papers the morning after she did it. When I went that day to catch my train I saw a small area of the pavement cordoned off by yellow tape and tried unsuccessfully to avoid looking at the dark red stain in the middle.

I tried to be nicer to the metro staff that day. When I stood waiting for my train, I stood at the point from which she must’ve jumped. The red stain was directly below. I thought of how she must’ve clambered over the railing and let go, taking care to fall head first. I pitied her, because to my thinking, suicide is a terrible way to waste a life and I couldn’t even imagine what horror in her existence drove her to it. I also resented her, for making me think about her at all. She was gone and yet we, who never knew her when she lived, we were now thinking of her. The people who were walking below when she landed before them. The paramedics who must’ve tried to revive her. The policemen who she’d left with yet another unsolved case and a great deal of paperwork. The metro guard who was now standing at the end of the platform and trying to be inconspicuous, but eyeing me warily. All of us asking “Why?” but wearily resigned to never knowing the answer.

The stain and the tape were there for a week, and I tried unsuccessfully to avoid looking at them each time I walked past. Today they were finally gone, the pavement was scrubbed clean, and people were walking over the spot, talking, hurrying, intent upon getting to wherever they were going. I circled around it, looking away, as I walked home. I looked at the pavement below my feet instead, and each pan stain on the concrete looked like a spatter of blood. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I am Nithya, hear me roar

I'm very chuffed, reader. I fell to cleaning up my computer and I'm finding this organisation drive rather addictive. I've already created folders for all my docs (me!) and discarded any number of puzzlingly-titled notepad entries (some of them were downright cryptic). I've updated my software and even organised my thousands of Panda and food photos, updated my food blog, and finally started using Google Calendar. Now, I have SMS alerts coming to me every half-hour, worded with escalating levels of urgency depending upon how unlikely I am to do my scheduled tasks. I know you, reader, already do this and you're chuckling kindly at my excitement. I can't help it. I'm very hopeful right now that even someone as shatter-brained as me will eventually claw her way to the top of things, and maybe even hold on there for a little while.

Wish me luck reader.

Friday, August 24, 2012

I love ya tomorrow, you're always a day away

All my life I've been more or less harum-scarum, reader, and as I think back, it's rarely served me well. I push deadlines as far as they will go and then proceed to ignore them. I'm clean, but I've never been accused of being tidy. I write like I do everything else: haphazardly. I'm always pleasantly surprised when things fall into place despite me, and that's always nice, but that really doesn't cut it any more does it?

I want to be one of those people who has all her bills filed away in a drawer, and doesn't have to rescue her bank statement from being chewed up by the dog because it was lying on the floor and fair game. I want to use post-it notes for annotations while reading instead of for doodling on when I'm on the phone. The sort of person who, yes, plans her activities on Google Calendar every month and then sets daily reminders and actually follows them. I suppose I should start by flipping my wall calendar which still thinks it's March. It's all just... exhausting to think of.

Still, think of it I will. Tomorrow. We shall begin tomorrow, reader. It takes three weeks to form a habit, so just you see. By the fourteenth of September, I shall be a new, frighteningly efficient woman. I'll even buy those multicoloured highlighters and arrange them in my stationery drawer. Colour coded. First, I'll clear out a drawer for stationery.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On a day like today

Do you also have days, reader, when you feel like you're sleepwalking? I think about atmospheric pressure in times like these; how all of us carry a column of air that extends all the way into space, on our shoulders. Our blood exerts outward pressure to balance the weight of the atmosphere, which is what keeps us from getting crushed under that enormous force, like a sapling under a tank.
On some days, doesn't it feel like your blood just gives up? I think of blood vessels bursting in little red pops, under that tremendous onslaught of pressure. I can't see them, but the image is vivid in my mind. My spine is all I have to hold me up and it isn't doing a very good job. Gravity drags me down and the air above smothers me. All I want to do is lie down, curled up in a ball, and let the forces do their worst.
It's easy to be happy, most days. It's on days like today that it's so much harder, and -I tell myself- a true test of character. It's for days like today that I began writing this blog, at a time when every day felt like today. So, I'm not going to think about atmospheric pressure any more. I'm going to sit on my chair with a straight spine, sip my coffee, and talk to you.
In the office today, I sat next to a glass window that stretched from floor to roof. I could see people and cars below, but hear no sound except the fan above me and the clickety-clack of computer keys from all the cubicles around. The light outside was gray and foreboding, yet with that peculiar clarity that only the rains bring. Even sunshine is never this clear. Nearby objects are brighter, colours stand out more, and everything far away and therefore not worth considering is blurred out by the fog. It brought a sense of immediacy that I found I needed. Who cares if the future and the past are foggy and unclear? We have the present, and it is full of puddles, umbrellas, and bright-eyed dogs. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ah reader, today is going to be a good day. Even if all my original plans for the day have been derailed by a rather nasty sore throat, at least my voice has changed to pleasantly croaky instead of its usual borderline shrill. I amuse myself to no end by croaking at the dog. He can't understand why the creature before him looks like me but doesn't talk like me, and after jumping up at me and barking in my face, he gives up on the mystery and chases his tail till he's dizzy. Then I laugh wheezily, which sets him off all over again. We're easily amused in these parts.
I gave up on my plan of going on a long run and stayed in to play with the dog instead. Playing with him these days is quite a production, because he will not stop trying to dig up the lawn. He's also embarrassingly disobedient, which means each time I catch him trying to dig up the lawn, I can't command him to stop. I have to run at him and chase him away, which he of of course thinks is tremendous fun, so we do it over and over again till I break the cycle by offering him a biscuit. It's a lowering thought that even with my dog, the only way I can command obedience is through bribery.
Still, once I lure him in with the biscuit, I catch hold of his collar. I'm polite and wait for him to finish chewing. He shows me no such courtesy. Once he's done eating his biscuit, he promptly rolls over and kicks up at me, trying everything he can to make me let go. I get covered in grass and dog hair and streaks of mud, but I hold on doggedly till I can drag him, still kicking, to the verandah, where I reattach his leash and march him off for a bath.
Most other dogs I've bathed have stood miserable and still while I played the water over them. Panda protests, vociferously. I need to watch him carefully and steer clear of his teeth. He also rears up on his hind legs and waves his forepaws about, which I have learnt through experience, can do quite a bit of damage. Still, eventually, I manage to get him bathed, dried and powdered and back indoors. Now he's collapsed under the bed with all the consciousness of a job well done, and I am collapsed on my chair, sweaty, dishevelled, mud-streaked and triumphant.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

It rained today. One moment it was sunny and I was blithely walking out of the metro station, the next moment, I was dashing for cover under the metro rail, fumbling frantically for my umbrella. I don't like this umbrella; indeed it has all the elements I dislike most in umbrellas. It's one of those really compact ones with two bends in the spokes, which make it blow inside-out at the slightest gust of wind. It's also sparkly, purple, has a stubby little handle and has a translucent lace inset bordered by sequins. I like my umbrellas long, with curvy handles and coloured in all the hues of a rainbow. The sort that if you spin fast enough, will look white. The sort that you could use to pretend you were a combination of Captain Hook and Mister Fantastic. The sort you could use as a prop when tap dancing on the pavement. I've never had one of those. My umbrellas have either been boring and black, or inappropriately purple.
Still, an umbrella is an umbrella and I was one of the few people exiting the metro station who'd had the foresight to pack one. I dug mine out, opened it with a bit of a flourish and stepped out jauntily on the road. Then, a passing car raced through a puddle and splashed me from head to toe. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ah reader, I want to bake cookies today. The sort of cookies that inflate in the oven like balloons and then fall back down upon themselves as if pricked by a pin. I also want to go running and not stop till I'm panting and my legs hurt and I'm tired. I want to play on my poor, neglected veena till my fingers blister and I finally learn how to make music. I want to tease the dog till he rolls onto his back and kicks out at me petulantly. I want to learn...
"Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, 
and cabbages and kings, 
and why the sea is boiling hot, 
and if pigs have wings." 

Life just now is terribly interesting, reader. In this next week, I plan on doing all those things, and more. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I watched the raindrops turn to silver, caught in his hair

Two nights ago, appa and I set out after dinner, upon a quest for ice cream. It had rained that evening and there were two lines of street lamps: those that glowed redly in the sky and the winking ones reflected in the puddles on the road. We took the dog with us, who is afraid of the dark. He dragged us from lamp to lamp, eager to reach and loth to leave. We had to cross the road and the traffic light seemed never to change. Car after car zipped past as we stared at the red light that screamed "Stop" across the night, and we obeyed. Finally, our patience was rewarded and the light turned green, and we crossed, dragging the reluctant dog with us.
I bought the ice cream from an old man who was just closing up his cart for the night. Butterscotch cones, that we took back to share with amma who was waiting at home. We walked faster this time; the ice cream was melting. A large, rather ghoulish stray dog chased us for a while, his barks quite distinct from the sound of the traffic. Panda kept looking back nervously and urging us to go faster.
We came home and peeled the paper off our melting cones and nibbled them while the dog panted at our feet. That night, I dreamt of butterscotch ice cream cone milkshakes.

Butterscotch ice cream cone milkshake
Take one butterscotch ice cream filled cone, the sort with tiny little butterscotch crisps on top of it. Peel off the paper and lick the ice cream that comes off along with it. Dump the cone into a blender, and follow it with a cupful of milk, two tablespoons of cream, and a squirt of butterscotch sauce. Pulse until the cone has disintegrated and everything looks thick and reluctant and unnaturally yellow. Pour into a tall glass and drink with your feet inserted under a panting dog.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Reader, I must be the most contrary of creatures. For weeks now, I've been looking up at clear blue skies and wishing it would rain. It finally did and I find myself longing for sunshine again. I find my moods curiously affected by the weather and this rain makes me ever so blue. I'm tired of pretending a cheerfulness I don't feel, so I've decided to give myself one evening to wallow. I'll begin by ranting here, move on to watching Dara O'Briain and laughing loudly when he decimates his front row, and perhaps end the night chatting with P, who can be counted upon to encourage my whims. 
If the mood so moves me, I shall perhaps address a few cutting remarks to the dog, who will pretend not to care.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I can tell the weather from the way Panda's fur feels under my fingers. His fur is cool today, light and soft. It will rain tonight.
In the summer, his fur feels hot and sticky. Each time I pet him a few black hairs come away as their owner wriggles in irritation. In winter, his fur is oily and sticks to his skin.
A dog's fur is warm and you can feel his skin move under your fingers as he breathes. It smells of the earth and the rain, and some days of heedless romps in the garbage heap. It is a little dusty. You might have to wash your hands afterwards. And then there's always the danger that he will turn and gravely lick your arm till it tickles and you beg him to stop.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I packed all my possessions into cardboard boxes today. And then, I baked brownies.
We're shifting houses tomorrow. I like the new house. It has a fig tree and a lawn for Panda to play in. I've already picked out the back room for myself. When I look out the window, I can see the tree and then a high, rather intimidating compound wall.  
I don't have much to pack. Clothes, books, a yoga mat and a map. I've never cared to spread myself out. Not have I ever hung picture frames. I don't think I get attached very easily to places or homes. Or maybe the heat is just making me listless.
My brownies turned out lovely, although baking them in the afternoon heat wasn't fun. The butter and chocolate melted as I touched them, leaving greasy streaks on my hands, that Panda licked intently later. The brownies baked up deep brown and chocolatey, with thin, crackly skins. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's hot and dry and dusty outside. I'm indoors today though, and the curtains are drawn. I've foregone the bright sunlight for artificial blue light. Panda spent all morning panting up at me with his tongue out. Now he's asleep under my bed. All I can see of him is a curling black tail with a feathery white tip.
He'll wake up soon and half-heartedly beg me for a walk. I'll half-heartedly comply and we'll trudge miserably on the tar road outside as the heat from the earth rises to our faces.
Still, I really can't complain. The exam I was preparing for is over, for better or for worse. I've spent two days shopping, and didn't once feel the heat while I was out. I have two more precious days of freedom and I'm going to waste them gleefully. I don't have a plan for my dissipation. N and I used to discuss how we would commit acts of calculated irresponsibility. We did it too. But uncalculated irresponsibility is a first for me and oh, so freeing.
I suppose my reckoning will come, but right now, I'm too hot to care. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happiness, Joe says, is a wild red flower   
                      plucked from a river of lava   

and held aloft on a tightrope   
                      strung between two scrawny trees   
above a canyon   

                      in a manic-depressive windstorm.

Don’t drop it, Don’t drop it, Don’t drop it—,   

And when you do, you will keep looking for it   
everywhere, for years,   
while right behind you,   
the footprints you are leaving   

will look like notes   
                                          of a crazy song.

From How It Adds Up, by Tony Hoagland

I shouldn't be here, reader. I should be studying right now, desperately. I have an exam I need to give on Sunday, and a lot depends on how well I do in it. I've driven myself half mad this past month trying to absorb as much as I can. I've nearly turned cross-eyed from reading so much, and I find myself daydreaming far more than is seemly. My mind does not take well to being cooped up. The happiest moment of my day is when I go for a run in the evening, and for a little while action is a substitute for thought. Almost all the time though, I feel terribly restless. I scold myself to no avail. It's silly really. When I'm busy and swept up in action, I crave time for thought, and now when I seem to have all the time in the world, I waste it. 
Ah well, enough about me. I just needed to scold myself publicly, to invoke what little shame I hope I still possess. The whole point of this post really was to share with you the poetry of Tony Hoagland who I've recently discovered and can not stop reading. I wish I could write like that. I know wishes are futile, but it's still wonderful to know that I at least share space on this earth with people who can write like that. People who think up these incredible, heartbreakingly lovely, cunningly wrought things and are generous enough to share them with the rest of us. 
It's a comforting thought, reader. Inspiration is really never too far away.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

It's half past nine on Sunday morning and the air outside is still and heavy. We had a sweaty night with one annoying little mosquito buzzing near my ear throughout. For once, I woke up before the dog. He looked as surprised as I felt. We stumbled outside at six and it was already bright and sunny.
When we came back, I sipped my coffee as Panda careened madly about on the grass. That first sip of coffee, fresh from the filter... it's my favourite part of the day. I take a sip and taste the warm, bitter liquid, then I swallow and feel the caffeine spreading through my veins. Almost immediately, the dog seems funny, the sunlight feels pleasant, the newspaper interesting.
Now I'm settled down to work, with the dog flopped at my feet. He's wrapped himself around the legs of my chair which makes getting up a highly delicate activity. I like to pretend I'm chained to my desk and that I have to stay here and work till he gets up. No distractions. Except of course, to come here and tell you about it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

To This May

They know so much more now about
the heart we are told but the world
still seems to come one at a time
one day one year one season and here
it is spring once more with its birds
nesting in the holes in the walls
its morning finding the first time
its light pretending not to move
always beginning as it goes 

-W. S. Merwin

The weather is almost cruelly lovely today. It's drizzling, ever so lightly, and there's a delicious light wind blowing. I went out into the garden earlier in the morning with my newspaper and the dog. I'd planned on reading the paper, but I mostly just used it to swat the dog as I chased him around the lawn. Panda ran before me in huge panting circles, pausing only to drink from the outdoor tap. He loves this weather.

After we came indoors he spent a long time sitting before the French windows looking outside at the drizzle. His paws kept slipping on the tiled floor till he gave up and lay down. Now he's lying on his back, his paws in the air, mouth open, eyes buttoned shut. I've never seen anyone look more content.

Weather like this makes me very restless. I want to grab Panda, bury my nose in his fur, and dance him around the room. I want to run outdoors and go where the day takes me. I want to look at trees and marvel at the shades of green the raindrops bring out. I want the raindrops to catch in my hair, turning each strand silvery. I want to bake loaves of bread and smell the mixing scents of yeast and rain. 

Instead, I sit here under a fluorescent light and read about the Forty Second Amendment to the Constitution.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Summer storm

I'd been feeling restless all day, but I couldn't figure out why. At around 4 pm -when I got up to make myself yet another cup of coffee- I looked outside. The light had changed from bright yellow to sepia and the trees rustled ominously. I whistled for Panda and we sat outside, watching leaves blow across the lawn.

I love the sheer power of a summer storm. There is a terrifying energy in the rumble of thunder, the rush of wind, the dancing dust that stings my skin. I kept a soothing hand on Panda's neck as he watched with me, bright-eyed and rapt. In an instant it was as dark as night. The afternoon sun was hidden by the hurrying clouds. Panda whined, sensing something strange was going on.

We sat and watched as the rain came down and the smell of the earth rose from below our feet.

Afterward, I went for a run. The fat, stinging raindrops soaked me to my skin.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

T came over last night. I cooked. Spaghetti in a roasted tomato sauce, and garlic bread. I read of this really cool trick in an article by the food stylist of Julie and Julia. You toast your buttered bread in the oven till it's browned and hard. Then you rub a raw garlic clove over it. The bread acts like a grater and the stuff smells divine. Toast, butter and garlic. Sigh.

We watched Say Anything and kept pausing the movie to talk instead. It's nice to believe they would have lived happily ever after, no reader? I like movies like these, because you know that no matter how miserable the people in them are, in the end it will all get better.

Panda -who is rather mercurial with visitors- was safely locked up with a rubber bone and a bowlful of bread and milk. He does not like being locked up and he grumbled all night. He also chewed up a pillowcase, but I suppose he felt entitled.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Reader, I did something stupid. And I'd been doing so well... This just goes to show, it never ever pays to get smug. Smug I was, and self-congratulatory, all far too soon. No, no, I don't mean to tell you what I did. I don't want to be read a scold. I'll just promise it won't happen again, OK?
It is morning now. The light from my window is harsh and intrusive, but golden. Let us begin again then, as we mean to go on. Just, first, I need to detach the surprisingly strong little dog who's chewing on my sleeve.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I feel surrounded by words; I swim in a sea of them. They leap out at me from pages of books, from the lips of people, from my memories. I see them wherever I go and I both hate and love them. They say so little, and never do what I wish they would. I wish I could bend them to my will. I would use them to change people's minds, but they are stubborn and never do what I ask. They are beautiful too, when they fall just the right way. They tease me by flowing from my fingertips some days. And then, just like that, they're gone. There are so many things I wish I could say, if only I could find the words for them.

That's another reason why I love dogs. Communicating with them is so simple. Sit. Eat. Fetch. One-word sentences, terse and to the point. When did language become such a barrier? How did it become so complicated to use? Now I weigh each word I utter. I preface the harsh ones with gentle ones, hide the truth in subtleties, hide my hurt behind funning, and talk in half-meanings, half-sentences, half-ideas. I use them and I hate them and I love them. I long for silence, but they dance in my head anyway, teasing me, taunting me. They are how I think. To not think in words would be to not think at all. I don't remember sights or images or colours, only words. I swim in them and I sink in them. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

I woke up grumpy today, and was determined to feel sorry for myself. I told everyone polite enough to listen of how late I'd slept and of how inconsiderate they were being by not tiptoeing around me. When they got tired of listening, I figured I'd come here and tell you. For you, reader, can't make a polite escape. Unless, well, you click away...
I also said some rather cutting things to the dog because his cheerfulness was offensive. One giant mugful of coffee later, my world view's markedly less jaundiced. Panda was wonderfully forgiving, probably because he didn't hear me threaten that I'd have him sent someplace where they eat annoying dogs. He's lying under my chair right now, his chin resting on my toes. We're both content not to move.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's almost 4 am and I'm feeling mighty smug, reader. I've been working steadily all night, pausing only twice. Once to make myself a sandwich and a cup of coffee, and once again an hour ago, to watch Beyonce singing that girls would run the world. Don't look at me like that. It was three in the morning and I needed reminding.

I'm sitting at the dining table today, and I like that I have space to spread myself out. The table is strewn with all my paraphernalia. There are books and pens, the laptop, headphones, iPod, empty coffee mug, plate with breadcrumbs... all proof of the hard work I've been doing. Panda has been checking in on me every couple of hours. He ambles up, his nails clicking against the tiles, and nudges my elbow with his nose. I scratch behind his ears and then, satisfied, he goes back to bed.

I like working in the night. It turns so dark that it is hard to remember that morning will come. If there was no clock ticking away in the corner of my screen, I could come to believe the night would last forever.

I should imitate the dog and go to sleep, only I don't feel like it just yet. I feel wide awake and the world outside is already turning grey. I feel a restless energy which I impute to vast amounts of caffeine. The sun will rise soon, and then I'll go to bed. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

It is another of those long nights, reader. All my companions have long since gone to bed. The dog is curled up at my feet, his paws twitching in a dream. I can hear crickets chirping outside my window and the more distant sound of cars racing up and down the highway outside. They never stop, although they are quite frequently chased by sirens.

I'm awake and I will be awake all night, driven by a curious sense of urgency. I seem to have let a great deal slip away, these past few weeks, and now I am determined to make up for lost time. I don't have any deadline tonight except the one I've imposed on myself. That makes me feel very grown up.

This being a master of my own destiny stuff is scary, but I think I could learn to like it. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I got my hair cut short today, reader. Not as short as I'd threatened, but still short enough that it swishes from side to side as I walk and so loose tendrils tickle my ears.
I've wanted to get my hair pixie short for a while now, but that desire was warring with my affection for the hair I've grown so painstakingly, so I compromised and settled for a bob. I like it. And the whole experience was so fun, with S beside me for moral support. We gossiped and the hairstylist went snip-snip and in no time, I looked totally different. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Twenty four

Two hours and twenty eight minutes left reader, before I turn twenty four. It's high time I wrote one of those reflective posts, no? It's become a habit of mine, one that extends to New Year's Eve, festivals, anniversaries, and often just Monday, to stop and take stock of my life and write a moody piece about it. 

The house is silent just now. Panda is sitting beside me, staring suspiciously at the heater. I can see the reflection of its red coil in his eyes. It's cold, but bearably so, I suppose. This winter must've toughened me.

Twenty four, reader. It doesn't feel awfully significant. Next year now, you'll catch me panicking about turning the first corner. This year I'm remarkably resigned, and secretly rather proud of my resignation. 

A year older and finally a little wiser, I think. I learnt some rather painful but valuable lessons this year. I made a lot of decisions that I really hope are the right ones. For the first time in a long time, I find I'm at peace with myself. It's a flimsy peace, but I've learned not to question it too much. It shall get fortified slowly. 

That's a lesson that was particularly hard. Patience. For a long time, I felt like I was sitting around waiting for my life to happen. Then I realised I had to seize the reins, and make it happen for myself. So I tried that and got upset over and over again. I carried on with more guts than gumption, but it finally occurred to me to stop and figure out what I was doing wrong. This driving stuff is hard. But I have faith that with time, I'll get better at it. 

And right there is another lesson. Acceptance. I used to scoff at faith. I had very little patience with the devout and the unquestioning. But sometimes, I learnt, you need to hold on to something, be it something as ephemeral as a belief. Things will get better. You will figure out the answers. This life stuff does get easier. What choice did I have but to believe? And I found that by simply choosing to believe, I felt better and worked harder. It's totally self-fulfilling. 

It is a very wonderful world, isn't it reader? There is so much to see and admire, so much to laugh at and wonder over. I'm thinking right now of the story a very dear friend related to me about Wen, the Eternally Surprised. 

 “Wen considered the nature of time and understood that the universe is, instant by instant, re-created anew. Therefore, he understood, there is, in truth, no Past, only a memory of the Past. Blink your eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, he said, the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.” - Terry Pratchett, in Thief of Time. 

Words to live by. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I'm cold today reader, and I can't seem to warm up. I'm sitting with a heater on my side and feeling a little like Two-face. One side of my face is hot and my skin is reddening, while the other is numb. I switch the heater from side to side, every half hour, and I suppose I should be grateful that half of me is warm.
The winter has been long this year. There were foggy days when I couldn't see more than ten feet ahead, and cold nights when only conversation kept me warm.
I'm so tired of winter. I wish spring would come. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Today's been a long day. I'm tired but I can't seem to fall asleep just yet, so I thought I would write to you. I tried for a while but for the life of me, I couldn't think of anything cheerful to say. So instead, I went through my old drafts and dug this out. I wrote the piece below sometime in November last year, I think, but never posted it, I'm not quite sure why. Still, better late than never.

Today, I feel... caramelly. You know, like a pot of boiling caramel. The surface of it is still, with just a lazy bubble here and there, that swells slowly and bursts in slow motion and then you smell butter and sugar. But there's so much going on below, and if a chance spatter catches your arm, it stings godawfully.
I boiled and stirred, poured, chilled and cut, and quickly fell into a rhythm. These little suckers are addictive, especially if like me, you enjoy the feeling of your teeth gummed together, even down to that moment of panic when you wonder if they'll ever get unstuck. Of course, eventually they do, and the caramel is gone, just leaving a faint memory of butter. And then you have to do it all over again, because it can't have been as good as you remember, can it? Can it?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

It's just me and the dog tonight. Salad for dinner. A tangle of greens enlivened with roasted peanuts and bright, pucker-inducing lime juice.
The dog prefers bread and milk. What does he know.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Goodness, reader. I just re-read that last post and realised, I'm getting awfully dramatic, aren't I? I must check the tendency. I thought up that outrunning my demons line as I ran and it cheered me up to no end.

Another thing that's been cheering me up lately is this pot of pansies, next to the main gate of the colony. I pass them every evening on my walk/run. They're big. The biggest pansies I've ever seen, coloured a brash yellow with deep purple hearts. And there are more of them every day. 
Today, I loaded two albums of Sara Bareilles' onto my iPod, pulled on my running shoes, and called for a very very excited dog. The shadows were lengthening when we set out, and the evening was chilly and lonesome. Because I run with a very distracted dog, I usually run in fits and spurts. We set off in a mad churn of legs and paws and then suddenly grind to a halt when Panda smells something interesting. It works for us.
Today though, I was impatient with his stops and leisurely sniffings. I dragged him along grimly till he finally caught on and matched me, bound for stride.
We ran round and round in mile-long circles, as dusk turned into night and the streetlamps came on. And I learned that if you run fast enough, you can outrun your demons, for a little while. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'm thinking of a summer day last year, when my cousin, N, was here on a visit. N is the least talkative of my cousins. Usually, she just smiles while I chatter on, slightly hysterically.
It was a Sunday morning and we were headed to the Adventure Island. The Island is an amusement park way up in the north of Delhi. N loves rollercoasters. I wanted to prove that I was brave. We marched out to the metro station at nine in the morning, draped in cotton scarves, hatted and sunscreened up. We reached the island by ten, and were almost the first ones there. N was excited and it was infectious.
We'd worked out a plan of attack so we could go on as many rides as possible before it was time to return home at five. We picked a ride called the Tornado first, which was a giant spinning roundabout to which chairs were attached with metal chains. You sat in a chain and as the Tornado spun, your chair would shoot outwards and turn, so you were sitting almost parallel to the ground and screaming your head off. I certainly did. N was laughing.
We went on ride after ride, and on each I screwed my eyes tighter shut and squealed louder. I was slightly green when N led me excitedly to the rocking boat. The boat didn't just rock, it also rose about thirty feet high and then spun round and round several times, turning you upside down. I told N to go on without me and stood on the side, trying to control my weirdly churning insides. The boat operator was particularly sadistic, and laughed up at me while he left them hanging upside down, thirty feet in the air. N got off afterwards and told me she wanted to go again.
I joined the line with her. I'd made a promise to myself a few years ago to always try everything once, and to never allow myself to have regrets. I know what it's like to play something over and over in my head, and wish I'd been braver, done something different. I didn't want to regret my cowardice later, over getting on the ride. So I climbed on beside N, held on to my seat's arms tightly and closed my eyes. I forced them open briefly while we were hanging upside down, just so I wouldn't regret not looking later too, and then closed them tightly again.
I stumbled off that ride, insides churning wildly and was later, quietly, miserably sick. I thought about it today, and I realised that I don't remember the sickness or even how it felt to hang upside down, thirty feet above the ground, with the blood rushing to my head. All I remember is my pride. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The most important thing in the world

Appa and I were talking today, about the telecommunications industry, the 2G spectrum scam, the economics of the whole thing and about culpability. Big, important, very cool sounding stuff. He was doing most of the talking, because I know very little. I was listening intently. And beside us, a little dog was getting very very impatient. 
He began by chasing his own tail round and round and round, till he was a black and white blur. I did my best not to watch him and focus on appa instead. 
When he tired of that game, he trotted up to us and barked, shrill little barks. Even without a language, he communicates very well. I pushed him away. Optical fibres were being discussed. Then Panda escalated. He jumped up on me and began scraping at my arm. He does not respond well to being ignored. I finally caved and took him out. 
We stood outside in a patch of winter sunshine, with sparrows hopping about around us. It was then that I realised why it is that I love this little dog so much. He puts things into perspective, no? His demands are peremptory and insistent, and always make me laugh, so comical is his seriousness. The rest of the world could wait, while Panda chased the sparrows. 

Friday, February 3, 2012


I'm afraid I am become such a cliche, reader. You and I are the opposite of fair-weather friends, no? I come here exactly when I need comfort or simply, unburdening. I write to you in half-sentences and subtext and leave here quite pleased at my own cleverness. I don't know if anyone out there is listening, and it really doesn't matter. I talk anyway.

This blog, I realised today, has become exactly what I intended. A place that makes me happy, and maybe makes some of you happy too? When I read through my older posts, after I'm done cringing at the syntax errors, I remember those sharp stabs of joy I used to feel. They're more muted now, when they're from memory, but they exist. Nostalgia doesn't always make you sad. It can bring joy too.

The past few days have been... hard. So I turn to this white place which is my little corner of the interweb, and I talk to you. I also listen to an awful lot of Leona Lewis, luxuriate in the romance of the sadness I feel, and laugh a little at how silly I'm acting.

Laughter is good. I laughed till my sides ached today, at Panda. He was really excited about our evening walk, and reared up on his hind legs as is his wont, to paw me and urge me to tie my shoelaces faster. Today, his leg slipped and he fell on the floor, hard. He bounced right back up, don't worry, and I'm still chuckling when I think of the expression on his face. He's such a happy dog, and some of that inevitably rubs off on me.

You're probably going to see quite a lot of me in the next few days. I plan on going back to my old format of remembering the things that make me happy each day. And I'll do my best to ensure that not all of them involve Panda.

Until tomorrow then.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I'm writing this from Coimbatore. I'm here for the best of all reasons. A wedding. This time it was my cousin, J. I've been here four days now, dressed in sarees and high heels, with jasmine buds in my hair. I met relatives I never knew I had, some who I vaguely remember, and an increasing number of familiar faces.

On the evening of the reception, when I sat down for a little while to give my sadly abused toes some rest, a little girl sat opposite me. She picked the petals off a daisy and blew them in my face.

I've gossiped with my grandmother and aunt, acted as wingman for J till his best friend showed up, sung till my throat turned hoarse. I've smiled at people whose names I no longer remember and promised to visit them, someday. Promises we both know I won't keep. I've soothed hurt feelings, cleaned and packed, carried messages and baggage, talked and listened. Listened more than talked. I've also not slept very much.

The wedding vows they took were basically a dignified pinky-swearing, to be best friends for the rest of their lives. I liked that. I stood and watched J get married in a shower of rice grains and rose petals. The music got very loud for a second, everyone was standing in a tremendous crush, and then it was over.

I'm alone now for a little while, after being surrounded by people for three days. I'm not smiling because it hurts my face. People keep coming in every once in awhile to talk. We've formed tenuous bonds, working together for a common cause. I've done this before, more times than I can count. Each time, a few more bonds last. Here, after all, we are already bound by blood. I feel very rich to have so many people who care about me.

I leave here tomorrow, back to my old life, but slightly changed. Change is good. It is sameness that is frightening. I think we need occasions like these, so we give pause and reconsider our own lives, but also so we realise it isn't always about us. For a little while, we celebrate the lives of the people we care about.

I stop typing every once in awhile to look at my henna-stained fingers. I'm very tired, but I think, at peace. Tomorrow is another day.