an old memory came back to me last night.

we are sitting in the triangle. the flooring is made of mismatched shahbad tiles - grey and gold. we play a hopping game. we hop across the room - one end to the other - making sure we only jump on the gold-tinted stones. it gets tricky around the middle of the room. the gold-tinted tile is under an elaborate stick-on muggu on the floor. it is a matter of much debate - are we allowed to land on those stones or not? 

what did we call it? noranti? warranty? 

the rest of the house is red oxide flooring. the grandfather's room has large square patterns on the floor. it's not fun to play on those floors. outside, though, that's a different matter. the flooring outside is made of unpolished shahbad stones. for a large part of my childhood, half the stones outside were broken on one side of the front yard. we played another game on it, i can't remember what it was. when it was repaired, i remember being heartbroken. i don't know why. 

each window had a different grill pattern - do you remember them? i can't. i was sure i would. the dining room had a square grill? or was it the one with the rectangles? and the faux-study room on the first floor, next to ranga chitappa's room? i can't remember the grill on that either. 



someone inside my head is screaming. i don't know what she's saying, but she's constantly screaming. i've tried everything to calm her down. i'm swimming, i'm listening to music - but she doesn't let me do anything. she doesn't let me read (she screams too loudly to concentrate), she doesn't let me work (she screams oh my so much), she screams she screams she screams i don't know what she says but she screams so much my head hurts. how do i clear my head?


swimming, day 1

i started swimming again this morning after a year and a quarter.
my shoulders feel like someone jumped up and down all over them.
and my feet hurt. i didn't think that could happen?

(on the other hand, 1 km. 27 mins. woot.)



"the real reason i don't drink is because i think i'll be stuck in a state of inebriation and won't ever escape."



first world problems

back in a world with working phones and broadband internet and facebook and twitter and toilets and tv and skype and gchat and email (frikkin email!) and uninterrupted whatsapp after 4 days and i missed everything but nobody misses ME.


(also, i'm in a city for exactly 1 day in 2 weeks, and it's a city with no alcohol. can we all please ban ahmedabad from being a city?)



I’ve never received a letter
(hand-written, on aerogramme paper
with a stamp, quirky handwriting
a chat with the postman
delayed news from last week
or the month before. paper flying
across states or countries or continents
smelling of oregano or jeera or sambar
of home or a yearning for home.
ink blots made by leaking pens where
you stop to think.)

I have no nostalgia of my
own; only borrowed from my grandmother
or her siblings sent fifty years go
in a sack full of letters
(apprehensions about marriages to someone
i only know as my cousins’ grandfather;
or the weight of gold in a bangle
i know was stolen twenty years ago
by someone who took it to “polish it.”
references to polishing copper pots i
have never seen used; and excitement about
televisions they bought in foreign countries)
we found when we were
clearing out the attic of our
70 year old home.


punjabi song on the radio

i want a cryptic way to
tell you that i
miss you today. i want a way for you
to know that a sentence
i read triggered
emotions that taste like whiskey,
cigarettes, the smell of raat ki rani
in October (an foreboding of winter,
cocoa, blankets and naphthalene balls).

i want to ask you if that isn’t
poetry in general?
anecdotes hidden between words,
jokes only i laugh at. 
breaks and poetic
time that only make sense
if you’re listening to the song
you asked me to listen to



late valentine's day post 2015

"You're like a witness. You're the one who goes to the museum and looks at the paintings. I mean the paintings are there and you're in the museum too, near and far away at the same time. I'm a painting. Rocamadour is a painting. Etienne is a painting, this room is a painting. You think that you're in this room, but you're not. You're looking at the room, you're not in the room." 

From Hopscotch, Julio Cortazar. 

In the same book, he also says - (keeping track of time was difficult for Oliveira, happy, ergo futureless.) 

This valentine's day (like every other one on this blog) I wonder if this encapsulates my (non) love life. 

"happy, ergo futureless." 


Older V Day posts - 2014201320122011 and my favorite, 2007. :) 


guest post: brotherly love

My crazy irreverent brother just hacked into my blogger account and wrote an unsolicited post for my blog. I decided to let it be because it's hilarious even though I hate him. Remind me never to give him my laptop again.

i gave my laptop
to my brother
for his laptop was in the laptop-shop.

my brother in his wisdom
only proceeded to write
for my blog.

from what i know of my brother,
he is a brother like no other.
not that i've experienced other such buggers,
but i've known  cousin-brothers
and they're much worse than this sucker.

what you do need to know about my brother
isn't that he is younger and more useful
than his blog-writing, scandal-watching sister
but that he doesn't stop eating when he's full.

he may be right about a few things
but he's wrong about the dieting fling.
the world hates fat beer-drinks
and i can't stand the hate.


My sister thinks I'm the best. But how does it matter what my sister thinks if she is dieting all the time, right? However, I think her dieting won't help her beer belly if she continues drinking. Perhaps, she should shed the beer for something like white rum. (though i'm sure she has explored more healthy options like whiskey) Maybe my sister should write a story about a fat dietician battling a McDonald's burger problem which stems from the dieticians love for the ambience at McDonald's. Or maybe, she should write a story about that fat guy in the metro who refuses to wake up from his fake slumber.

Most definitely, my sister should write a story about a size zero girl who's in love with a woman whose eyes are red, as if she always has conjunctivitis, whose legs are fat, which makes people think her mother cross-bred with an elephant but whose nose is as pretty as Deepika Padukone's before she started snotting. This story about them should involve constant dates at Andhra Bhavan, Saravana Bhavan, (midnight buffet at) Pickles and lots of cheese. They should eat the same things, drink the same water, live in the same house but feel different about their bodies. One day, the not-so-thin-woman should disappear to make the size zero feel like she's a tourist in Goa without alcohol. She should descend into a deep, dark depression which makes her lose her 'shape'. This size zero woman should meet the fat woman who is now a really thin kashmiri separatist. That meeting drives her to suicide.

That's what my sister should do about her size. write about it. not change it. it isn't really that unhealthy to be fat anymore. I don't see why you shouldn't be fat, then. 



writing is 90% staring.


of course bukowski offers these words of wisdom:

"if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
don't do it."



i'm watching you

in other (fairly personal) news, i've put on a lot of weight in the past 4 months. i'm guessing this is because - 

i haven't been working out (or even pretending to), 
i've been eating like a crazy person (i travel 3 weeks a month - i only get cheap hotel food and samosas where i go), 
i stress-eat. a lot. and i stress-sleep. a lot.
i drink 6 - 8 espressos a day (1 batch of filter coffee at the very least), 
and i eat out a lot even when i'm not travelling. 

please notice how this list does not say i've been drinking. it's because i haven't been. and if i have, it's been negligible. 

so i've taken the plunge, (un)fortunately, and i'm now on a diet and exercise regime starting now. now while the exercise thing is do-able (it is!), the diet thing is really scary. i'm only putting this on my blog, because apparently (a wise friend told me this afternoon) - food is an addiction. you can't go cold turkey, but you have to try. and to beat any addiction, you need support. and i, my dear readers, have to beat two addictions - caffeine and food. (well, a third - if you count sleep.) at some point today, i googled it - and caffeine withdrawal makes you hungry. so i'm going to be hungry and have a headache and not be able to eat more food than normal human beings. (that vlcc tummy trim package is looking so attractive to me at the moment). 

anyway, since only about 2 1/2 people read this blog, i'm going to spam you guys with ohmygodineedcoffee or ohmygodiwantdessert posts now and again. 

cool. ok.

rain rain go away

our house was on a hill, near a valley.

when it rained, we could see the clouds climb up the hill. we would play a game with them: we would  run up the valley, trying to race the clouds.

of course, we would always lose - and end up wet.


(i've been meaning to blog this for a while. when i heard it, i was in a forested area with no internet/phone. it was raining - we were cold, wet and clutching to our tea cups for as much warmth as they could give us.)


love ka matter hai

didi, us gaon me hum nahi ja sakte hai. Pura bandh hai Saraiyya. Pura force aaya hua hai DSP ke saath.

Acha, kyun?

Love ka matter hai didi. Ek muslim aur hindu vo kargaye. Love.

Ladki hindu ki ladka?

Ladka hindu tha didi. Muslim log unko gaad diye. Kaat ke. Phir hindu log unke ghar jaladiye. Paanch chhe ghar.

(ajitpur village. saraiyya block. muzaffarpur district. bihar.)


carrot cake and cigarettes

i'm in gaya, bihar. 

on the way to the village i had to visit today, our car got stopped by some men who wanted us to give them a donation (chanda) for some pooja. 

except, he stopped our car, pulled out the keys and said "haramzaada chanda do." my colleague in the back was smoking a cigarette. they grabbed at her and tried to make her give them all her cigarettes. i said i didn't understand why they had to be so rude - they said "tum nahi samjhoge." 

we were a car full of women who looked like we were from the city (except for the driver). they didn't let us go till we had paid them 500 rupees for their "pooja". they very nearly punctured our tyres. 

this exchange was 3 minutes long, at the very best. 

i am troubled. i know why, except i don't know if it's fair to attribute something like this to something like that so very flippantly. 

tomorrow, i've told to driver to take the more populated route. that's the way we survive in this country, right? we take solace in crowds. we maintain two feet distance from them (lest we get molested), but we stay in them anyway. 

anyway, my driver's response. "aise mere saath kabhi nahi hua hai. aap teen saal pehle aate na, to aise naxal log milte. tab to paise kya, zindagi ka sawaal hota. aaj kal vo sab nahi hota hai." (this hasn't happened to me before, but if you had come three years ago we would have been attacked by naxalites. you would have feared for your life then, not money.)

ps. at the end of the day, i ate very good carrot cake. 


it is not i

angulimala, my cousin says,

i squint my eyes at him - i can't recall the story but i remember the image from amar chitra katha quite vividly. a bare-chested man with a necklace made of thumbs. dark, like all the asuras in the series.

my cousin continues - it's a story about a dacoit in the hills. angulimala is an orphan forced into dacoitry by circumstance. so infamous, even the sound of his name makes one shiver. he would take everything you had - and then cut off your finger to keep count. 

one day, he sees a man in the forest. he shouts out at him - stop! i am angulimala. he chases the man but never catches up to him. he runs and runs and after a while, he tires. he stops running and calls out - do you not fear me? why don't you stop?

the man turns around. angulimala immediately sees that this man fears nothing. not even death. "it is not i who is moving," he says. (this man, of course, turns out to be the buddha).

what a thing to say. none of us understand what that means. not when we were nine. not today.

but it clearly works on angulimala - this cryptic statement from a man he couldn't catch up to. he gives up dacoitry, takes up beggary and lives in the city. until one day a woman recognizes him as the man who killed her husband. she shouts - a crowd gathers and throws stones at him. angulimala remains smiling and silent through this.

when buddha finally shows up, he collapses in his arms. "i seek refuge in you," he says, and dies.

after a quiet moment, my cousin tells me - it's an intense story when you're 9. i say - it's an intense story even now.


(i stayed in bed all day today. it was cold and raining and anywhere outside a blanket was hostile. but i've a story nevertheless. thank you sharan. :) )



he's a hard-nosed, street-wise, brilliant motherfucker.

you know it's true.

a minister calls him this morning. "i'm contesting for elections from your area," she says. that's a bloody problem, he tells me. a dharm sankat. i'm campaigning for the other guys.

"send me some kids to do it then," she tells him.

it's not like i can give birth to them he tells me. where will i send them from.

he makes some calls in front of me. then he calls her. "i'll send you about a hundred tomorrow" he says.

he packs up and makes to leave. "come eat gol gappe with me," he says.

how can i refuse.  


a story a day project

HELLO new blog project.

i'm going to write one real story i hear everyday. something someone tells me within a 24 hour bracket, preferably. but if i'm really not in a conversation mood - may be something i read. i'm a horrible listener - but the point of the project is really to think about how we make conversation and what i take away from them.

and to hoard stories. always that.


they went to japan in 2002. this was back when everything digital was new. they stayed in the fanciest hotel there - there was a 42 inch flat screen tv in the bathroom. the toilet seats were heated, and the faucets had pressure controls. but the star of that trip was really the 50 year old chivas regal whiskey they were giving out as awards. which they couldn't accept - because they were winning the award, among other things, for their work against alcoholism. ha.


"we have all kinds of meat on fridays, she said. it's not for you if you are scared. wild boar, deer, porcupine, we cook interesting things with my grandmother's recipe - and no shortcuts. we even grind our masalas by hand."

"porcupine?! really? i've never heard of porcupine being eaten. what does it taste like?"

"pork, without the fat. they run around in the wild no? so there's only meat. no fat. and i cook it well."

:| rosang, green park extension market. not for the fainthearted. 




2014 was a year of difficult choices and personal losses, but a year i found my footing in again. it was a year in which i stopped working out, stopped reading, stopped writing fiction, but got a job, saw the country in ways i hadn't done before, established myself professionally (somewhat), made new friends, reconciled with older friends. i know the next year isn't going to be easy for me - but i have love and happiness, and isn't that all that matters?


work rant

I would write a whole paper about how tiring writing is, if only it wasn't so damn counterproductive.