glass of wine, chocolate ice cream, yellow lights. 

i miss my home. :(



Close to the top of the list of things that piss me off:

People who romanticise poverty. 

I understand it's difficult to find poetry in things; I understand the need to find expression in what you believe is most indigenous. It might speak to you in multiple ways; you might see it as beautiful imagery. You might write it as beautiful imagery. But there is no romance in poverty. There are only people struggling for their dignity while they make their ends meet. Write about them, please. But don't project your romance onto their lives. 



what if i'm just being stubborn? if there's value in what they're saying? am i missing out on something i might regret not knowing? am i going to go my whole life carrying this feeling?

i really don't want to watch game of thrones.

ps. in other news, i like being alone in good hotel rooms that have star world at 9PM. i hate being alone in hotel rooms otherwise. also, muzaffarpur has the worst hotel(s) in the country. muzaffarpur, however, has a baskin robbins. i've never eaten so much ice cream in my life. 



all of us turn into creepy internet stalkers at 2AM.

but if you need help, i'm pretty good at it. 


fall in love in cities by the sea

old loves
kiss me softly
on my nose, like a
duck on my chin;
nibble my ear a little
to the left while i
dream about
popcorn, the sea
and winter rain.



i think a promise
slipped out of my bag
yesterday. i can't seem
to remember which or
where but i know
i'm just not feeling
it weighing down
on me.



saw my first ever dancing peacock today in baria, gujarat.



who'll stop the rain

the thing about happiness nobody tells you about is this: when you're happy, the things that you used to cling to for life, don't matter so much anymore.

not television, not books, not frantically being the first to read everything the internet has to offer, not music, not alcohol, not the right shade of lipstick. it doesn't bother me so much that i haven't read a book from start to finish in weeks. i haven't read july's issue of so many magazines, and july's almost over. i haven't listened to three weeks of podcasts, but it doesn't irk me. i haven't eaten red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, and i've been craving it since mid-june. (i haven't even zomato'ed it more than twice.) 

i'll tell you what matters though. deodorant that works. orange juice in the morning. the right music in the shower. pedicures. the right berth on a train. sleep. and crappy movies, always. 

obviously happiness and loneliness are compatible too, and that's a good thing also. 


grown up

i hate growing up.


(ps. grown ups just don't have fun on their birthdays, is it? bah.)



this is all very exciting, blog.

i have a new job! i have a place to stay! i paid rent! and will prospectively pay bills!

adult, i.

*excited, but soonly broke*

(yeah yeah i have to read and write and meet deadlines and generally spend quality time inside my head. and not at work. i get it. i'll do it soon in my cool new apartment with nice showers)

(or not, because i'm traveling for the rest of my foreseeable future. but what are trains for if not for writing!)



i've been cheery and high all day. like you know the annoying kind of cheery, that you just want to slap?

yeah. me.

and it reached a peak just now: i discovered that an author i love and i have *several* mutual friends on facebook. OMIGODCANTHISWORLDGETANYSMALLER.

(don't answer that with a rant about political economy or i might hit you.)


guide to loneliness and back

peaberry plantation mix,
song on my iPod,
metro card,

the smell of home
the sound of urban
nothings and

the guide to loneliness
and back
is a secret nobody



a shimmer, a glimpse
a word for the sea

a thing you want to say
to me.

petrichor/ coffee/
japanese/ cherry/ blossom

a hum a whisper a murmur
of things you will not say
to me. 

(only things within
parantheses, of course
like characters in comic books
will you?)



the magic trick: making the real, illusionary.

because we are so blinded by it, so deeply taken in, so sold, that we only see from within. whatever is outside, whatever is incongruous, whatever is not a part of this performance is really not real at all. we have no vocabulary for it; we render it voiceless by our limited imagination.

and we perpetuate it. we teach unbelief; we teach unbelief as belief. because, after all, cities can only rise from the ashes of those that burn. we watch the smoke rise from a distance, and we think of the possibilities that it can offer. we dream the limited dreams that are sold to us in packaged boxes, we live the limited lives that are offered to us in advertisements.

we look for magic only in places we think there should be: our unicorns are always white, living in rainbows of every colour. we are so involved in looking for the magic trick, we don't realize that the magic is outside the performance.

and we forget. we are so happy with our illusions, our mirrors, our box-sized dreams, that we forget there is magic at all.


mango yoghurt

breakfast is really the only food i need.

obviously i don't mean i only eat in the morning (morning, what is that?) - i mean i can live on muesli, fruit and yoghurt. or eggs and toast. or both.

oh wait, were you expecting deeper insights?

that doesn't happen to happy people, apparently. :D

(you can let me know when this happiness starts to annoy you. i'll go back to being grumps. promise.)



being happy is pretty awesome. i recommend.


new story in reading hour

I have a new story out in print, you guys!

You can buy it here - http://www.readinghour.in/

Or preview it here:

(Or, of course, I can send you a copy if you write to me.)


making mountains

I am losing myself in a wind.

I was gathered in a heap
(like a mountain)
with apparent seamlessness
(like garbage is gathered)
And when the wind came
(the wind always comes)
It took me away from me
(the edges first always)
But I am flapping my arms
(gathering always gathering)
I know it's not working
(paper boats in a rain pool)
because my edges are frayed and

I am losing myself in a wind.


april is the cruellest month

Everything is falling apart: but everything else is falling into place. 
If I ask the right questions: what are the right answers?
A romantic's desire: at the end of this, there will be sleep.

Not a dreamless alcoholic's respite; not restless nightmares.
Sleep, and dreaming. 




"All your life - all your love, all your hate, all your memory, all your pain - it was all the same thing. It was all the same dream. It was a dream that you had inside a locked room.

A dream about being a person.

And like a lot of dreams, there's a monster at the end of it."

-Rustin Cohle, True Detective.

(Also, is that a little tribute to Sandman, with the man in the gas mask immediately after this quote? So much joy!)


a paler shade of grey

Another story about a story.

It passes from hand to hand in secret.

Those who have heard it are distinguishable instantly: they seem to be shrouded in darkness somehow, as if they see a little less of every colour. When they pass it on, they won't know it, but they're sharing a bit of themselves.

The story itself grows. From each person, it takes its weight until there is too much of it. It hides inside allusions and leaves traces nobody can recognize.

A day will come when everybody knows the story but nobody will tell it.

Everything will be in paler shades, but you won't be able to say why.


(If paintings add layers and photographs peel them, what do stories do?)



"But Tanay, why did you paint over all your pretty fishes?"

"It's time for them to go extinct."


a god in every stone

by Kamila Shamsie
I don't have the time to write something longer, but I have to note these down or I'll forget.

1. The anticipation of love: The whole book is full of it. It is always standing around at the edges, teasing you, testing you, seeing if you'll fall for it. I did, convincingly, every time. I fell for every character meant for love, whether or not anyone in the book actually did. I fell for Qayyum Gul (with his hands behind his head alone on a berth in a train; one eyed Qayyum, sure yet so very unsure of himself.) And I kept hoping she would too. I kept looking for it - Now it will happen, oh, now she will recognize him, wait this is the moment. A moment. I can't say if I loved the book for the anticipation of love, or for the love there actually is.

2. Reading Shamsie is like reading a non-fantasy Guy Gavriel Kay. It feels like you're really reading a book on history in story form. It's well-researched and a terrific pleasure. Makes you want to read up on little things. (May be I'm drawing this comparison because I've been reading Kay like a beast. But if you read Kay and Shamsie in succession, I dare you not to make it too). I loved her account of wartime Britain for its little details, the politics, the opinions. I loved how Vivian grows through the book: I love her idea of service to a nation in wartime, and how it changes as she becomes her own person. I love the tension in the book when the man from the government comes to meet her. You know she can't be that silly, you want her to not be that silly. When she is, you're immediately heart-broken. You know what is coming, it's an inevitability. But you hope because she hopes.

3. I really really want to go to Turkey.

4. My southern school education somehow missed out on the immediacy and intimacy of the history of partition, and I think this is true of many of my South Indian friends. A lot of North Indian friends of mine have a romantic notion of Pakistan - they have roots there (a grandparent who left, lands, families, that sort of thing). To me, it has always been a different culture, a different people. When I found out that they have a Punjab too, somehow Pakistani butter chicken became something I had to try. (I was 11. Not much has changed). So when I read Pakistani writers, I read them as I would read any other writer. Suddenly little unexpected things pop out at me and I think aha, there's something I didn't expect you to be like. With Mohammed Hanif's Alice Bhatti, I kept thinking that way about caste. About how I understood its perpetuation without really thinking about it as different/Pakistani. 

It happened with Shamsie too, but not in the same way: With her, it was about the cultural references. The train stations, the quaint streets, the clubs. (In my head, they look like old Hyderabad, and I can say with some certainty that the clubs are the same everywhere. I've been to Gymkhanas all over the country, and if they haven't changed between Hyderabad, Bangalore, Calcutta and Delhi, I doubt they're largely different or the sandwiches are much better in Pakistan).



in breaking,
my heart



why are afternoon naps so damn addictive?



"Oh, please. It's not like you don't do any illegal things."

"Well, underage drinking. But I don't do that anymore."



A box of old pieces of paper. I have no idea why I saved them.

A letter I wrote to my grandfather when I first moved away. "I wonder if my language is different because I am writing to you" I wrote. "I don't know how formal I must be since I have never written an actual letter before." A few sentences before I read that, I think the same thing. I am surprised I don't remember either writing the letter or thinking that thought. I can't even remember where I wrote it; whether I posted it or handed it to him when I saw him. Did I write it so that I could find it later? Was this something I did so that I could be nostalgic about it later? I can't remember.

A notebook. There are less notes in it and more conversations with friends in class. "Lunch after?" "This is boring." "Do you have balance on your phone?" These seem to be staple conversations I had then. Most of the conversations are one-sided. I imagine that my friends' books are full of these as well. In some places, there are other people's handwriting. Loopy, clear and beautiful. A chicken scrawl. Large, child-like lettering. Long, skinny lettering. I know exactly who these people are. I miss them.

A postcard from a friend in a foreign country. She loves me and she misses me and she hopes she could have made this trip with me instead. I remember calling her when she was on this trip. She was washing her socks and underwear. "I ran out! I didn't want to buy new ones!" I laughed at her. What a thing to be doing in Barcelona - wash your socks! Significantly, I washed my socks on my holiday to Barcelona too. This postcard makes me want to call her.

A note a lover passed to me in class. In Hindi, it says "Don't call me dirty, Sitay!" I remember this day. My whole class took about a hundred photographs, and then went out for lunch after. I remember trying not to giggle when I got the note. I remember our professor admonishing us with a stare. I remember not caring. I remember sneaking into the toilet in the break to kiss. I remember laughing because our mouths tasted of too much bad coffee. When did I save the note, though?


day 21

Sunning in Bundelkhand!


vday 5

(alt title: day 20)

happiness is a corporate scam.  (there, i said it.)

i don't mean to make vikram seth's poetry a yearly tradition, but this felt like this year's theme.

here's to loving differently.

Through Love's Great Power 
by Vikram Seth 

Through love’s great power to be made whole
In mind and body, heart and soul –
Through freedom to find joy, or be
By dint of joy itself set free
In love and in companionhood:
This is the true and natural good.

To undo justice, and to seek
To quash the rights that guard the weak –
To sneer at love, and wrench apart
The bonds of body, mind and heart
With specious reason and no rhyme:
This is the true unnatural crime.


(find older v-day posts here: 2013, 2012, 2011 and my favorite, 2007. :) )


day 19

today was an accept-your-hair-the-way-it-is day.

(which translates into: shower/shampoo, auto, no comb, no scrunchie, sun, air-conditioning, auto, frizzzzzzzz-ugz.)

not sure if it made me happy, but it didn't make me sad.


loves me (not)

the anticipation
of a kiss.

(i might leave
lipstick stains
on the insides of your
white, collared shirts)

you leave me breathless.

(like i've climbed
four flights of stairs
just to hear
you laugh)

let's do something
stupid together
so i can write



day 18

ComicCon Delhi tried very hard to make me very very grumpy and irritable.

I'm glad to say it failed, and I am a happy beaming child.

Say hello to my signed copy of Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. :)


day 17

List of Things That Made Me Grumpy Today

1. Dear Delhi (cold and grey), did you really have to be this way?

2. Photocopying is so fucking expensive at Teen Murti. (Also, Book I Wanted, may be you could be available for download?)

3. Getting my already-wet-from-my-shower hair wet in the rain.

4. Not getting any writing done.

List of Things That Made Me Happy Today

1. One Whole Bar of Hershey's Milk Chocolate.

I feel like this happiness project is getting on my nerves. I'm going to be normal and grumpy for a while, okay?


day 16

Postcard Love! :)



why do we love,
may i ask you?

poetry leaves more
inside than full,

wounds that can never
really be healed:
that will never

why do we love,
i ask you,

and what of us
who don't?


day 15

Party time!

(Sometimes I amuse myself by being full of shit. This was not one of those parties.)


day 14


(because there isn't
anything as fun
as making someone


day 13

6000 words. 30 hours.


Please note the extremely pretty Lucknow home I am currently a resident of.
(And the pretty furniture is genuinely old!)


day 12

Lucknow is an endless kabab. Can we all please just stop talking about food?

(Since I didn't take pictures of that amazing bunch of kababs and that pretty not-so-great biryani, here's a picture of the sunny spot I made my workplace yesterday.)


day 11

there's a shop in my office. i bought the indigo.

how does the universe expect me to have any savings at this rate? bah.


day 10

Just reached Lucknow.

I guess what they say about the food is true. I just got kababs in a bun for lunch! And are they awesome or what.

(Plus, can I emphasize the joy there is in not having to wear a jacket at 3 in the afternoon? I mean, I love Delhi in the winter and all that, but can it please stop raining?)

(Okay so I broke the healthy food rule, but Kababs in a Bun!!)


day 9

Tatkal tickets on IRCTC!

Let's throw a party, everybody!



day 8

Yesterday was another of those sit-outside-and-work days, so that's what I did! This is the canteen at Teen Murti, where I got a corner table all to myself. (I would have taken more pictures of the place but there were so many people with the same work-outside idea, that I couldn't). 

(Today is all rainy and grumpy again. Bleh).


day 7

Book sales make me happy. (The Landmark Sale is EPIC, by the way. At least it was last year in Chennai. This year is just meh. Still bought lots of stuff, make no mistake. But not as epic as last year.)

Long evenings with people I love make me happier.

Strawberry frozen yogurt makes me happiest?



six months ago
i worked up the courage
to ask a stranger
i had a crush on
out to dinner.

it was going to be
anything but smooth.

"hi," i was going to say
"this might sound silly,
but would you like
to have dinner
with me?"

may be it was
my indian upbringing
or just plain
bad luck,
but i didn't see him that day.
or the next.

i ran into him
again yesterday,
he smiled at me
as if i was an old, old

i frowned as if
i did not know him,
and walked away. 


day 6

As I get older, I find myself more and more reluctant to stay over in someone's house. I have this need for privacy when I sleep, not necessarily because I need my own space or anything, but because I'm constantly paranoid about what I might do in my sleep. I am told I snore, and I know I make funny throaty noises. I also think I say stuff in my sleep, and this might be extremely embarrassing. More than anything though, I have a lot of scary dreams so I tend to wake up a lot during the night. Sometimes, I need to take a walk or listen to music before I can go back to sleep.

My favorite thing about sleepovers is waking up in someone else's house. There is a kind of intimacy that comes with sharing morning routines, reading the newspaper, making tea/coffee, generally staring at a toothbrush. Especially if it's someone I'm generally close to, I love the comfort of the waking up in their homes and making tea or toast for myself. 

So that's my happy thing for Day 6. 

I woke up late on a foggy Saturday morning, sat in someone else's living room, sang a lot and shared a newspaper. 

May be this is why morning people like mornings. :)


day 5

Delhi is asking me not to bother with happiness today.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

*Retreats into Blanket*

Edit: Later:


day 4

  • fun conversations with new people about music in the sixties.
  • friendly shopkeepers who returned the wallet i forgot in their store.
  • writing with bullet points.
things i can't photograph also make me happy. :)


day 3

Happiness is bath products.

Most people (who read this blog) know this about me (because I have made them carry moisturizers and body mists and shower gels and soaps and loofahs and foot scrubs and other bathing paraphernalia across continents). So when I got a whole set of Body Shop things as a New Year's Gift, I was absolutely delighted.

Used the first of those today. :)

Moringa is not the best smell ever (possibly on my list of least favorite), but that's what I smell of today.

In other news, I haven't been able to write. I don't know why. It has been months. (I also mean writing for my PhD). So I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks (hopefully this will be enough) reading as much as I can.

day 2

Delhi threw up a surprise sunny day yesterday, and like any good Delhi people, we spent it sitting on terraces and around monuments. (It's foggy again this morning, and lots of peacocks are strutting around my hostel, but my phone camera isn't good enough for any of them.)

Pongal Lunch at Andhra Bhavan, where the waiters lectured us about "Sona Masoori rice from Andhra brought in Lorry" and hit on everything that speaks Telugu (me). 

Tea at Blue Door Cafe, on the terrace. There's also an art gallery with a sun roof on the floor below, but I forgot to take pictures.

Isa Khan's Tomb, post-restoration. So it might look like paint, but it's actually lime (processed in the same way they did in the 16th century - we are assured it will fade soon, but where's the charm if it doesn't), intricate Jaali work and salvaged tiles. Also, please notice the sun! (That's what made me happiest, obviously.)


new blog project, day 1

So I love this 100 Happy Days thing, but I hate Facebook (and hashtags, need I remind anyone). So I'm doing this on my blog instead.

There's going to be pictures (obz) and cheating. But there's also going to be some genuine attempts at writing and being happy. So please look forward to regular pictures of "um there may not be anything else today so here's a picture of the peacocks and nilgai outside my hostel." 

Day 1 is hot ginger tea in the winter and first book of the year! :)



winter makes everyday feel like a sunday.

bath, anyone?