I remember that first night most vividly. A cold, Delhi winter's night, so foggy we could hardly see our feet, and it was beginning to drizzle ever so slightly. You had offered to drop me home in your car. Even though we had been meeting everyday and making the most perfunctory conversation, arguing in class and supplementing each other's questions, we were strangers to each other. I knew but your name, and if I have to be completely honest, I really don't know much else even now. I remember you were a bit nervous about what music I'd like. Did you really think I was the type who'd say "bollywood ke gaane," because you could scarcely hide your surprise when I sang along to 'Elephant Gun'.

That was when things were good. When we would have mundane conversations over coffee or beer about what imagery we lend to some songs, or what stories we thought they were telling us. That was when things were romantic. When we went to a monument every Saturday for history walk, but made up histories of our own about the maid and the guard and spoke about the couples under the trees. That was also when things were steamy, with adrak chai and pakodas, and ice cream that never melted.

When Delhi started getting hot, you started going cold. You'd leave class before I could even say hi, you'd spend all our time together in silence, you wouldn't respond to my messages, you would take my calls but hardly listen to what I was saying, hang up without saying a single thing. I knew everything about you (I knew that listening to the Beatles makes you think in cartoons, I knew that pink strawberry icecream reminds you of elephants, I knew that you didn't like reading Pratchett because he puts too much effort into being funny, and that you love Rahman enough to listen to his music even in a strange language like Tamil) and you, me. But I wasn't close enough to tell you that I was angry, I wasn't friend enough to be mean to you, I wasn't sure enough to tell you I love you.

When summer reached its peak, we were strangers again. You'd smile at me in the corridors, and I'd nod back, and that's all the warmth we could manage for each other, in that incredible heat. And that's what we remained, strangers who had perhaps shared a song and a conversation.


(dramatic pause)

i yearn day and night for but that one taste, that one whiff your smell. i see you in my day dreams, under a light that seems to make more shadows than anything else, most peculiarly found only in chinese restaurants. i know it's inexplicable, but that is how i know you - warm, and best loved with eyes closed. i can almost touch you with my fingers, feel you in my mouth, melting slowly. starting with a crunch, ending in chocolatey goodness, i want you, banana waffle.


i also yearn for biryani and haleem this ramzan. the taste of it has everything to do with the lights and sounds and the bustle of the night, the life that hyderabad suddenly acquires in these few weeks while waiting to see the moon. in old delhi, there is a peculiar charm that only old delhi can have, but it's not as pretty as hyderabad is, and a goat's foot, however well-cooked, no offense, is not the same as haleem.


considering the general mood of my posts in the recent past (sombre, bordering morbid), i have decided to keep much of it to myself. i plan not to update this blog for a while. this might mean anything between two days and several months. for my sake and yours (but for mine, mostly) i hope this passes soon.

(of course, there still is my other blog which i will update for as long as reading something makes me want to write about it.)


love stories

There is a story about a girl called Lily in Daniyal Mueenuddin's collection of short stories 'In Other Rooms, Other Wonders.' As I read it, I wanted that. I wanted to fall in love like she did, I wanted that life, chaotic and wild between moments of solitude. I felt like, in many ways, I was her, seeking to leave my adolescent past behind me, hoping somehow that I'd find someone who could see me for all of that, but more than anything, help me see myself. And through the story, now familiar with the way he writes I kept thinking I want to stop here - I want to stop here -I want to stop here but I kept reading. I read till they lived happily, and then it all came tumbling down.

Often, it seems to me, that you don't fall in love with a person, you fall in love with the way they make you feel. You make me happy, you make me comfortable, you make me cry, you make me horny, you make me laugh in public places at the most inappropriate things, you make me feel secure, you make me want to wake up in the morning, you make me want to get out of bed, you make me want to stay in bed with you. You don't fall in love with a person, you fall in love with their image in your head. That's what you were to me, a piece of fiction - a feeling, a perception, a trick of the light. And when it comes crashing down, it's only you you have to blame.

That poem of Rumi's I read only recently makes different sense now though -

The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere
They're in each other all along.



because i really like the word but haven't written anything that i can use it in.


look at how she listens, she says nothing of what she thinks

the most annoying thing about heartache is that suddenly a whole lot of music just becomes unavailable. (it's very, very difficult to find music that isn't about love or heartbreak, even more difficult to find music that is happy and doesn't suddenly remind you of what you're trying hard to avoid, even more difficult to listen to that music you used to love when you loved.)

she just goes stumbling through her memories
staring out onto grey street.
she thinks hey! how did i come to this?
i dreamed myself a thousand times around the world
but i can't get out of this place.
there's an emptiness inside her
and she'd do anything to fill it in
but all the colours mix together
to grey
and it breaks her heart.


i'm aware that this is the second time i've chosen to put up the lyrics from this song, but i really really wanted to.


being an adult is a miserable affair fucked up.


when everything comes falling straight down, when everything you've stood on is falling apart, when what one takes for granted is no longer there. what do you do when you find yourself so utterly, helplessly alone? when we've had more time away than together, it may be awkward for a day or a week, you may not know the gossip in my life, i may not call for months and months, i might not see you for a year perhaps. but i've got to ask all the questions like i've asked before, i've got to say that i don't know what to say, we've got to make the small talk, if we want to avoid the elephant in the room. when i can still say 'i love you' and be around someone when i need to be, and i know that that's all that matters, really. because that's all that there really is. love and strength.

and a prayer.



change lives.

hairdressers, not so much.


speaking of hair. a conversation with s.

"i like your eyes."

"i like your hair."

"so superficial you are! eyes have depth etc."

"i think stories come out of people's hair. the more tangled up your hair is, the more stories there are."

"but what if i go bald in two years?"

er. oops?


(actually, lots of people around me worry about receding hairlines. makes me feel old.)


in memoriam

My mother once told me an old story about Ravana's ghost.

There is hardly anyone in all of mythology who inspires as much terror and awe as does he. Ravana of the ten heads, lord of Lanka - isn't it strange that a man, nay Rakshasa, who spent a thousand years in penance should fall for a woman so fiercely and uncontrollably, that he would deploy his most mighty army and employ the most bright minds to find her and take her? While Rama killed his person, vanquishing all the evil he stood for and putting a less threatening Rakshasa on the throne, Ravana's ghost stayed.

It wandered the earth for centuries, doing what all ghosts do - remembering. It saw people, rich and poor, happy and sad, lonely and loved, gathering all of what one gains with death and loses with life. In its own memories that spanned hundreds of years, the ghost of Ravana searched for what it needed. Through the prosperity of Lanka, the love of Mandodhari, the sex of his concubines, the loyalty of his brothers, the revelry of the night and the peace of the mind, he recalled what it meant to be himself. The rush of the war, the edge in strategy, the thrill of victory, in these he wallowed, guilty for having lost.

In all of its travails, one day it came upon a little girl and her doll. This girl, it seemed, could not only see it, but was willing to talk to it, and treated it like a playmate. Abashed and amused, the ghost of Ravana the terrible, the destroyer of worlds, the abductor of Sita agreed to sit down for tea with a child and her doll. In the cup the child offered was an aroma of jasmine, in the air was the smell of eucalyptus and that was when it came rushing back to him. During this time, for as long as it took to finish a cup of tea, the ghost of Ravana did what all mortals do. It remembered what it meant to be alive. And in that moment, with but a memory of a smell, Ravana died, leaving no ghost behind.

That is the story of Ravana's ghost, and that is the story of death.


in a book i'm reading is this: 'for s, on the eve of seeing raavana's ghost. love m.' i don't know how you meant it, but this is how i saw it. :)


on the subject of marriage

For the family I grew up with, tea is sacred. One of the first lesson any kid learns in the house is How To Make Tea. It has to be the right leaf, acquired at the right factory in Darjeeling. The best kinds are from the parliament canteen (which only MPs can actually buy from), or Non Such tea (which is packaged in a beautiful wooden box), but for regular ten-cups-a-day purposes, we prefer Lipton. It's a simple recipe, but we're pretentious and puritan about it. One-and-a-half-spoons-per-cup; one-for-the-kettle; brewed till you can just about see the bottom of the cup; one-drop-of-milk; these are tea-mantras I learnt by my ripe old age of 10. The blacker, the better, the sugarless, the yummier.

Now, as you can imagine, very few people in India actually like tea that's made up of mostly hot water. This includes much of my maternal family. Recently, when I was asked to make tea for my grandmother, she gave me a very, very disappointed look and said:

"Inda tea-ey seriya panna theriyaade. Maamiyar aathele enna panna poriyo!"
("When you can't even make tea properly, what will you do in your mother-in-law's house!")

I suppose that closes the subject of marriage entirely.



"to absent friends, lost loves, old gods and the seasons of mists."

-season of mists. neil gaiman.