Monday, November 23, 2015

Disjointed thoughts on music and literature and childhood

I have been thinking often lately of how childhood homes and families are, and how much they can affect your interests, your education, your vocation. I am interested in literature and music but always had to learn on my own, with little encouragement from my parents who weren’t very interested in either (though my sister was a voracious reader herself and I often borrowed (sometimes stealthily) the books she brought home.

Well, a bit unfair to say my mother wasn’t encouraging — she determinedly carted me or accompanied me to dance lessons and music lessons. But there was little music in our home. My father used to yell at us when we put on the tape recorder. Apparently, use would ‘spoil’ it. For a few years, I practised my singing regularly but somewhat half-heartedly. My parents seemed to tolerate this rather than derive any pleasure from this. Not because they thought I was a bad singer, because they did encourage me to perform in public. It was the societal reward that encouraged them, the idea that someone might praise their daughter (and them for being cool parents), not any love of music or even pleasure in seeing their child working on something.  

Monday, November 09, 2015

Vacation Pictures: Assam and Arunachal Pradesh

Hello, people. Hope you're enjoying a short Diwali week (if you are in India).

The Guy and I visited my mother in Assam last month, and drove down to Bhalukpong on the Arunachal Pradesh border. It was amazing (and quite cheap).

Here have some photos.

The drive itself was lovely. We left late because I wasn't well in the morning, and were afraid we wouldn't reach by sundown. We made it just at dusk, after driving for a while under orange clouds in a blue sky.

We were pleasantly surprised at how pretty the place was.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Karz = Hamlet

I have been rereading Hamlet and reading some criticism of it, and I am planning to watch a screening of the new performance starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

And this made me realize that the movie Karz (this Wikipedia entry is hilarious, btw) is a sort of retelling of Hamlet, or at least draws on the play.

Hear me out. It has a murdered 'king' (he didn't seem to rule anything but his widow styles herself Rani Sahiba) -- whose partner betrays and murders him because she is working for his father's old business partner (so sort of his uncle? not brother, but definitely usurper of his estate?). (Fine, Gertrude doesn't murder Hamlet Senior, but bear with me here.) She and erstwhile biz pard then usurp the estate.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A rainbow after rain

One easy thing my brain (what's known as a 'jerkbrain' in Awkward Army circles) reverts to is telling me when I am depressed is that no one loves or likes me. (After ten years of being with him, even my depressed brain can't tell me that the Guy doesn't love me, so he's usually excluded from this and it becomes no one else loves me.)

It's my birthday next week, and the Guy told me a couple of weeks ago that he wanted to celebrate on Saturday evening (which was yesterday). Sure, I said, and asked him what we would do. He said he had planned something and I was to be dressed and ready to go out at six p.m.

So I was. I assumed we would go out somewhere for drinks and dinner. The doorbell rang as I was getting ready, and I heard voices - a woman talking to the Guy. I waited for a while (I am notoriously introverted and anti-social and had no wish to meet who I assumed was our landlady or a nosy neighbor, though I felt slight qualms at leaving the Guy to face her alone).

When the Guy finally opened the door... it was two of my friends, one whom I hadn't seen in years and another a new friend. I was getting a surprise party.

Even then I had no idea of the extent of the surprise. But as we sat and talked inside, and enjoyed the lovely weather with the breeze flowing in through the open window, the doorbell rang several more times. The Guy, in the meanwhile, brought in dish after dish of food, all of which he had made himself. Apart from the cake -- which was ordered specially: gluten free, dairy free cake is so rare that I now have cake only a couple of times a year.

And even apart from all the effort the Guy went to -- I was so pleased that friends, and friends I don't see often! -- participated in this conspiracy to make me happy. And somehow, our friends, who were all strangers to each other, got along famously and there was lots of laughter and inappropriate jokes.

And just now, I read this: on the 'weaponization of positivity' in Harry Potter:
As a profoundly depressed person, i often feel myself scrounging for happy memories and clutching them close; i find myself grasping for laughter in the dark.
And the next time I'm depressed, these are memories I will turn to. 

Wednesday, September 02, 2015


Funny thing about depression -- it's difficult to recognize it until you are out of it. (Or rather, until I'm out of it. It goes without saying that everything I describe here is about how I felt, and others may have very different experiences.)

I have been depressed for the last couple of years. Shutting down my startup and letting go of the dreams. Moving to Bombay -- I love Bombay, but this meant leaving the flat we'd lived in for five years, which had been home to me unlike any other place I'd ever lived in. It meant leaving behind most of the few friends I had, and moving to a place where I had none, and as an introvert, making new friends, especially new friends outside of work, is a difficult, terrifying thing. And since both the Guy and I were in grief, mourning what we had lost, we couldn't lean on each other for help.

Several times in the last few years, I thought, oh I'm not depressed anymore. But I still didn't feel quite normal, quite happy, for extended periods. It wasn't until last week that I finally felt, for the first time in weeks, genuinely optimistic.
And I know I'll still have difficult days, and the sinking feeling in my stomach will return, but I'm hoping it will be only occasional, and not something I have to live with all the time.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Fun Reads

Hello, people. Sharing a few tweets with interesting stuff I've read recently. If you're having a slow day at work, you can catch up ;)

This was beautiful and speaks right to my love yet disapproval of friends.


Best joke ever. Wait, is that a joke?

Till a few years ago, I thought casteism had all but died. I'm ashamed of my privilege.

I can never get tired of reading about Harry Potter, though I begin to think I'll have to write my own thing on how awful Ron is.

I don't have ADHD, but...

On the whole Amazon employee abuse controversy:

And because I can't let you go feeling happier, read something sad (and that made me feel like that might have been me if I hadn't ditched my abuser in time):

Monday, August 24, 2015

I'm Alive!

Hello, people. I've missed you.

So here's a few things that happened in the last couple of months:

  • I lost my phone and find myself still, after more than a month, a bit lost without it. I loved that phone! (It was the original Moto G, for those who are interested.) I'm using the Guy's old phone now and it's mostly okay. The Guy's been offering to buy me another and I've been resisting (I'm due for a birthday present next month!) but I'm sure I'll cave in in a couple of months. 
  • Which is why I've been a bit cut off from friends too. Message me on Facebook or comment here if you've tried getting in touch with me, will you?
  • On the other hand, I started music classes, which is amazing. It is in fact all the things! I had forgotten how much I enjoy music. I'm learning to play the keyboard, and the school is awesome and my teacher is really sweet and I'm even making friends in class, which makes me feel young again. 
  • And then I got the flu. I was ill for nearly two weeks, and had a bit of a swine flu scare -- one terrible weekend while I waited for my test results. I'm well again now. 
  • One indirect result of losing my phone is I can't use my credit card online (because it would send the OTP to the old number) and so the Guy and I are a bit cash strapped this month. (Some of our wild shopping when we visited his parents may have something to do with it too.)
  • Oh yeah, we visited the Guy's parents in Gujarat. I hadn't been for years, partly because my relationship with my in-laws can get a little tense sometimes, but more because the Guy or I seemed to be unwell every time we planned a trip there and we (or I) had to cancel, and also because with my food issues (did I tell you guys I can't have gluten or dairy? Try finding Gujarati food without either!) I was afraid it would be difficult. But I'm so glad I went. My mom-in-law was amazingly kind, carefully cooking at least one rice dish separately for me and making sure most of the regular food didn't have anything I couldn't eat. And we went shopping together and the sister-in-laws took us to dinner at a palace and we all had a lovely time.
How have you been?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Why I Love Mumbai's Taxis

So there was a taxi strike last Monday -- taxis were protesting the presence of Uber and other such 'aggregators'. I was surprised at the vitriol I saw on Twitter (hah), and threw in some tweets of my own, on why I'm firmly on the side of the taxis. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

How to tell you are in a PD James novel

Part 2 of this. 

You are a priest or a man in authority over children, and you have been convicted for abusing children. Everyone in the novel sympathizes with you (except, of course, the cold unfeeling person whom everyone dislikes).

You are not racist (so you think, and the author believes you) but you think anti-racism goes too far.  You are willing to stand up against political correctness, and everyone in the novel admires your bravery.

You are a woman who is good at her job. You are, of course, in love with your boss — or you are not, but want to marry him anyway.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

How to tell when you are in an Alexander McCall Smith novel

  1. Nothing very much happens, and it happens very slowly.
  2. You have long discussions (with yourself or with others) about intricate ethical dilemmas. You resolve the ones about simple matters, like colonialism and racism, fairly quickly and to your satisfaction. But it is much more difficult to decide on matters like whether you should spy on your boyfriend to make sure he’s not cheating on you, even though you have no reason to believe that he is.
  3. You are the most ethical person you know. Everyone is always telling you how ethical you are — after all, you spy on your boyfriend and sometimes complete strangers, all for their own good.
  4. If you don’t live in Scotland, you live in Botswana. Nothing very much happens here either.
  5. You are rich, but not one of the vulgar rich. You live comfortably but not luxuriously (by your standards) and you donate generously to charity and to people around you. You do not expect your generous “gifts” to be met with anything but grateful acceptance, even if they have to change their plans to accommodate them. 
  6. Everyone is lovely and polite, except for upwardly mobile, pushy women and men. They are the worst. (And pushy mothers are the absolute worst.)
  7. You are very interested in classical music, poetry, literature, and art, and of course (see #5), you have the money and time to indulge your tastes. 
  8. You are an intellectual person and not shallow at all — but the biggest reason you like your boyfriend is because he is so pretty.
  9. You are a very open-minded person. You are just a little concerned about other people’s promiscuous ways and frivolous pastimes. You are also perfectly okay with lower class people, you’re just surprised when someone in your circle wants to marry one.
  10. Even though your mother died when you were a child and you live in the twenty-first century, you are surprised at the idea that she may have had sex, and maybe even with someone other than your father.
  11. Everything always ends well. Anything unpleasant only happens to other people.