Monday, May 31, 2021

I just found out

That the solar plexus is not the belly button. Yes I am 36. Yes it's been wayyyy more than 21 days of lockdown.

I will be beginning work from office for the first time since end January, starting tomorrow. Fuck me. 

My mental health is in the tank. Family friends everywhere in India have had covid. Older people have their vaccines, mostly. Many known people have passed away but many more have recovered touchwood. 

I have started meditating (and the world hasn't imploded, in a manner of speaking on the other hand...) using headspace whose clever marketing ploy included two series on meditation and winding down for sleep on Netflix. 

I have read naught but Drarry slash since March. Some of it is excellent. Some of it is enjoyable trash. Some if it execrable. 

Another one of my cats seems to have a chronic condition now, and like when Marm was first diagnosed with CKD, I'm unable to come to terms with it. 

And the usual: my back hurts, I compulsively eat, I'm too anxious to watch new films/series, I've put on weight, I don't sleep well, Kalonji still attacking Kaju, I'm compulsively rewatching Kim's Convenience, WILTY, Bridget Jones and Notting Hill to seek comfort. 

Mood: slightly flue-ey with a generous heaping of headache and procrastination

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Day 21

of self isolation. Avec cats. With avec. Ados. Very French.*

A little over a year since I posted here and the world has changed. Life is a melange of online meetings, missed deadlines, sanitising door knobs and catfood containers delivered at doorstep. Only cats continue like always: asleep during the day. Gratified, certainly to have the opportunity to often disrupt goings-on by walking over laptop and getting belly scratches. And awake at night and upto no good. Between constant rage, anxiety, panic attacks, exhaustion, joint pain and overeating (with a side of bloating) there's no time. Even in this time of supposedly a surfeit of time.
It's nice to see faces of friends and family. Zoom dysfunction notwithstanding.
I grow older, with cats and belly fat. Cheered on by friends who always remain geographically separated. Everything has changed for the world. The country partitioned starkly into haves and have nots. Somethings--like cat purrs and the smell of ghee on hot rice--remain unchanged. I hope this government (these governments) goes (go) and we all find peace before we crash and burn out, extinguishing this beautiful blue planet.** 

*smartarses this is a Pterry ref. I don't think avocados come from France.
** too much Cixin Liu

Sunday, March 24, 2019

I Dream About

Gelato. Or at least I did yesterday. I dreamt about this tiny gelato place in a corner of Galle Fort. They would do lots of local fruits (jackfruit, tamarind, mangosteen) as well as traditional stuff like passionfruit sorbetto, salted caramel, pistachio etc.

The combination of mangosteen (sour and fragrant from the bright green specks of lime zest) and tamarind (salty-sweet, coconuty thanks to use of coconut milk) was the best. Lick one side and quickly slurp up the other side melting under the hot tropical sun.

Ice creams are such an incredible experience (when good: let's not talk about coconut and pandan onna stick from the night markets here). Ye gods of gelato, cant ca have a few good shops here making fresh mangosteen and passionfruit magick?

Monday, February 25, 2019

For an ex lover. Coz Valentine's Day (when a 19 yo blew himself up in the valley)

In my more lucid moments I could speak eloquently, or write on how "politics" and "anger" are really the products of empathy, love**. Distorted by the world we live in. I could tell you (if you asked) that there's such strength, the wellspring of life force, amidst the tears and blood and shrapnel in Kashmir, in the bulldozed olive groves of Palestine, the black flags waving in the winds of Nandigram.

I remember the waving flags, most of all. And the fear etched in the lines of women's faces. My god, I thought at 21 (or 22), this is what a civil war looks like. Of course, this was before boomerang and instagram and easy ownership of smartphones, otherwise that flutter would have been captured in one more meaningless social media inventory.

Nowadays, (I am) too distracted in between hashtagging Olivia Colman and Modi's latest publicity stunt and then always, werkwerkwerk, tugging at the corners of my sleep.

I no longer find enough time for outrage and instead move between peaks and troughs of exhaustion.

You wouldn't understand for (you) life is one big fiesta of alcohol and gushing fountains of laughter.* The kind set off by (your) "woke" witty self-aware jokes. That black salute, for instance. N-word please. Listening to Kendrick Lamarr and Donald Glover doesn't take away your Nair baniya roots. You were born into respectability and privilege (caste, class, gender, location, sexuality...), scion groomed to take over, rich enough (despite all your protestations), scores of safety nets dangling visibly (to all but you) under your hairy arse. Of course, you keep underscoring that money doesn't matter.

Solvency makes it easier to be generous. Youth too. Ask me. Once I spent two months sleeping on the floor of my tiny overheated Delhi barsati because I thought a mattress was a sinful indulgence. I had rescued a cat, you see. I had to borrow to buy a fridge to keep her fish fresh (unrotten, I mean). I have always found it much easier to be generous to non-humans.

While you're playing the nicest guy and earning kudos for not sexually harassing anyone, do you remember that time you asked me to kill myself for earning so little?

Nowadays you swim swiftly through shimmering spools of water, flanked by less angry, more svelte female forms. Is it crazier (than I used to be) that I'm jealous? I haven't quite caught up with your long strides into moving on.

But I suppose it's fair to say, my initial assessment of you was spot on: you always were a massive idiot. And this time I won't be second guessing myself.

**In my lucid moments I'm clearly KlichéGrrrl

*Tempered occasionally by a post or two condemning the arrest of an activist or the situation in Kashmir, sandwiched between oodles of corgi memes. Incidentally, that's the queen's favourite breed. What does she feel about such enthusiastic plebian takeover I wonder

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

On Packing

Gawd, how I hate packing. In fact I hate it so much I haven't started though I am leaving today (it being post midnight now). I am sitting with a black cat lapwarmer wasting time and trying to bottle up the packing + travel related anxiety.

I wish I were a genie folding and unfolding everything and myself to dazzle that bumpkin Aladdin. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Procrastination(ia), Melancholia and Nostalgia

I have a boatload of work. So obviously I am watching cat videos and scrolling through Facebook. That's how I came upon a Scroll article on what to watch out for (literally) at the Kolkata Film Festival. And reading through lists that included restored classics like Pather Panchali and Bicycle thief as well as latest offerings by Panahi and a bunch of really interesting international cinema (not familiar with other names, puncturing the Bengali ego which can no longer "name-drop"), made me long for home. Now I shall wax eloquent about growing up and bygone eras.

The winter in Chiang Mai with crisp sunshine and blue skies is almost identical to the one in Calcutta. Except Calcutta early morning would be misty and the days more balmy. And Chiang Mai is driving me mad with the smell of chhatim--in winter. In Calcutta that would be post/monsoon (unless this is really climate change and everything is changing their timelines).

The first ever film festival I went to was when I was 16. I watched two films sitting on the isle steps at Nandan. No Man's Land and Figli/Hijos. I did not know cinema could be like that, that stories could be told this way. My tender mind, to say the least, was blown. I was there with my father who felt I should learn about good cinema. It was evening, after his work and my school.

The next time I returned I was armed with a schedule and had managed to wrangle a guest pass. This was early college days so I hadn't quite switched to my silver jewellery-cotton kurta Jadavpur chic yet. But an acquaintance I met had apparently described my jeans and t-shirt clad avatar as 'dopka'. Anyway, I felt very adult, travelling in the metro and getting off at Rabindra Sadan early morning, marking myself as one of the festival goers. I think there was an Almodovar retrospective that year but ignorant me didn't watch any of his films. I believe this was the year I saw Machuca (loved it). I loved Les Choristes (ki mainstream, tch). The opening film was Mar Adentro.

Since then I have attended film festivals in Delhi and Den Haag (missed the Rotterdam International Film Festival, alas, alack!) Goa and Guyana (I've never been to Guyana but needed something with G). And honestly, last few times Kolkata's pretenshista aantels have really pissed me off. But it still remains a festival where you don't get berated for not standing up to the blasted national anthem. That is something. And Kolkata winter>>>>Delhi/Goa/Dutch winters any day. But even when I go back I will never be the 19 year old with my jhola and my guest pass, watching international films for the first time, on my own.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Bad back is worse, again. By most estimations it is because I have newly acquired a scooter and am riding it. While the orthopaedic laughed when I asked if I could ever ride scooters ever, never, and consoled me with "You are young and strong" (pppfffffft), I, anxiety girl* and drama queen, am convinced that this beauteous (and polluting) mobility-machine will soon be lost to me forever.

So this is an ode to mobility. Scooters metaphorically saved my life during the 2 years I spent in Goa (while endangering lives, livestock and wildlife routinely around the northern part of the state). I was lonely, sad :( and very unsure of my capabilities: being able to master the humble non-geared scooter, albeit one where I couldn't actually reach the road v well while being seated, gave me undue faith in my (non-existent) capabilities. Two particularly favourite stretches of the roads in North Goa were silken smooth, where I could driver faster, faster, fly. Sometimes I would wear my oversized military green raincoat, just for effect, as it would flap like a giant bat, or an ugly cape, behind me as I raced all the buoys on the street.

That's one thing I don't have in Chiang Mai: this competition. There are way more women driving on the streets (yes, even more than in Goa) and men don;' go out of their way to chase you down and nearly make you crash if you overtake them. Once I was abused by this male Goan scooter driver in the narrow lanes near Anjuna, because I had persistently overtaken him (real reason) and I was singling loudly while driving. Oh I love singing while I drive. It's the most amazing thing to do, imo, especially when you have 30 kilometres drive between home and quiz club on a Sunday afternoon while the highway is almost all empty.

Comparatively, the roads of Chiang Mai, are worse (unless you are talking about roads inside Goan villages which are often crappiest and full of wandering herds of cows) (I don't drive on the highways here: those are scary, never have I seen a car go at less than 120 kmph unless impeded by traffic), there are many more cars, traffic snarls, etc. And I only drive between work and home during rush hours in the morning and evening. Conversely, it now enables me to do a lot of heavy shopping and spend too much money on groceries. Eating out is largely cheaper than cooking for one person, especially if said person keeps buying cheese and avocados.

But in a city where the only mode of public transport available to me is the uber expensive grabs and sometimes the roed dang, it will be a disaster to not be able to ride. The city has recently introduced a bus services, here's to hoping it reaches near my house sometime soon.

Update: still riding!

*able to jump to the worst conclusion in a single leap