Sometimes, life experiences process slowly culminating in epiphanies that alter behaviors or outlook on life. Here’s what occurred to me last night at the peak of an anxiety attack

a)      People are imperfect and capable of disappointing. And that is not unnatural.

b)      No one person or thing is worth sacrificing good health or peace of mind over. This one probably seems more like a ‘duh’ realization but for someone who has been programmed to be pleasant all the time and obsess over perfection, this one’s a biggie.

c)       Displaying emotion (warmth, anger, sadness) takes effort. One should decide what qualities people need to demonstrate to earn the right to evoke those emotions.  The idiot who crashes into you in traffic and accuses you doesn’t require to know the emotion in your head. He needs to see your no-bullshit side. Don’t bother wasting effort on people who won’t do the same for you.

d)      Those who take others for granted need a reality check.

e)      The act of ‘understanding’ is very different from the act of putting up with unfairness.


Random Mid-week Blah Blah

I’m sure the title of this post makes you, my beloved reader, want to dive right in and read. But sarcasm aside, this post really is random because that is precisely how the thoughts are flowing in my head right now.

So to start with what got me wanting to write tonight, I just finished watching an episode from Anthony Bourdain’s show called No Reservations. I love the guy. He doesn’t pretend to be perfect and he doesn’t give a shit if you turn up your nose at him. It makes the whole show much more genuine and likeable. But one of the things I absolutely and completely think the world of him for – he is one ‘firang’ (meaning foreign) chef who doesn’t describe India as “smelly” or “colourful”. That cliche, ladies and gentlemen, makes me see red. Seriously, after years of “exploring mystic beauty of India” all that the writers of travel/food shows got from that is that it smells funny and there are a lot of colours in there??Talk about keen observation.
I can give you multiple examples of this horridly overused and done-to-death cliche. Case in point, Floyd’s India. Sheesh. The man obviously couldn’t physically tolerate India, its heat and its people. So why bother perspiring excessively on international television, loudly exhaling all the time and finally describing the place as hot and smelly??Nothing but 30 minutes of irritation (ads included!).

Mr.Bourdain on the other hand is more tolerant of variations be it in culture, weather or food. To me, that is how a travel/food show host ideally should be – curious. In this particular episode, he describes India as a “fever dream”…impressive,poetic even. And so goddamned refreshing!Mr. Bourdain, I salute thee!

The episodes of No Reservation covering Kerala and Kolkata particularly make me feel fudgy inside. Why? Because I’m a Malayalee who was born and partially raised in Kolkata. Tadaa! I’m a true (and consequently weird) child of double-communism (or so it would seem!). The visuals of Kerala are alternatively familiar and intriguing. Having lived away from Kerala and visited very sporadically, I can never really boast of having known the place very well. Even when we visited Dad’s family, we were pretty much confined to certain streets of Kannur. The only vivid and clear memories I have of Kerala in my mind are of the Rajarajeshwara temple and my father’s ancestral house in Taliparamba.

When it comes to Kolkata, however, memories and mental images are aplenty. A tram lazily chugging past a road filled with hawkers’ stalls on either side. The sudden, fierce showers of Baisakh. Floating paper boats with my brother in floods that ensued. The strongest memories are that of my grandparents (worthy of a separate post), the Lake Market marketplace and the street food.

The marketplace at Lake Market area was nothing but a large space for street vendors to sell vegetables, fruits, flowers, fish, meat, eggs and all other kinds of produce. Imagine street after street of marketplace lined on both sides with produce and vendors calling out to you as you pass by, inviting you to come and take a look and make your purchase. Combine that image with many other potential customers, like yourself, peering into large wicker baskets or carefully examining vegetables spread out on a jute sack. This, along with sounds of loud persistent haggling, completes the idea what the marketplace looked and felt like in the golden sunlit Kolkata mornings.

My grandfather and I would walk hand-in-hand through the entire market, looking for all the things Ammamma had asked us to buy. We were regulars and most vendors knew us and thought we were a cute sight together. The entire marketplace experience, with the myriad sights and sounds, was magic to me every single day. The memory of it is still magical but never to be revisited. The market and my beloved grandfather are no more.

As for street food, I really can’t find words to describe how much I miss it! I think after Amma’s cooking, if there has been any particular food I have yearned for, it has to be the pani puris of Kolkata (locally called puchka). Not the sterile table with servers in hairnets and gloves kind of situation. The hawkers were sweaty, grimy and dirty from a long day’s hard work but those unhygienic hands made some of the best tasting food I’ve ever eaten. Apart from puchkas, there were jhaal muris (spiced puffed rice), churmur (crumbled pani puri type thing), googni (chickpeas in spicy gravy), aloo chop (dynamite fried potato stuff) and so on and so forth. Just mentioning their names has got me salivating like crazy! I often promise the husband that we’ll take a trip together just to explore the city and eat street food. I would definitely want my (imaginary for now) kids to as well!

Ah well, my nostalgia is rather endless but my brain wants me to shut the hell up and go to sleep. So with much appreciation for Tony Bourdain and a big hug to the readers who have survived this post, I bid thee goodnight.

House Arrest

The long and crazy semester finally got to me or rather to my digestive system. Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the third round of stomach infection in 18 months. This time around I don’t even have the horrendous mess food to blame it on. So while most of the class is off spending a well -deserved break at home during the study leave, yours truly is busy spending time zonked out in bed waking up only for meals and meds.

Today’s the fifth consecutive day I’ve spent holed up in our little apartment.I must say hibernation has never appealed less to me than it does at this point.A few movies, lots of idling online and a little reading and you’ll be just bursting to step outside and get some fresh air.

I was watching Finding Forrester last night (for the zillionth time) and strangely every time I watch it, some different dialogue jumps out and makes a whole lotta sense.Like for instance when Forrester tells Jamal that the absolute best moment is when you finish the first draft of your book and you read it by yourself before the rest of the world decides to tear it down and critically analyse every single word you’ve written and decipher your life through that.Forrester then says that he decided right then that one book was enough.

That dialogue, though simple enough, provides a key to the character’s behaviour and also probably what crosses a writer’s mind some time or the other. It definitely does seem like what’s been stopping me from blogging all this while.It’s more the thought of what will the readers think after reading this and what will they conclude about me.Because the truth is people try to read between the lines even when there is nothing complex about it.Its kinda stupid but true.Infact some lazy ones use friends’ personal blogs to keep up with whats going on in their lives. Quicker than an email or an instant msg,they’ll tell you.

It’s strange that readers’ opinions should matter so much to me here in Manipal than when I was back home.Stranger still because this place has the shallowest opinions/friendships/relationships I have ever seen.It should be called BratVille instead of Manipal.Its as if everything about the place is one big ad to mostly those who want to bring out their worst in themselves.

“Want to be an alcoholic/druggie/psycho/useless good-for-nothing?Come to Manipal!”

Anyway I’ve lost my train of thought, thanks to intermittent FarmVille-ing and Cafe World-ing.Here’s to more frequent blogging (hopefully!)

Random stream of consciousness

Its been ages since I’ve blogged. Even the start of a new blog apparently wasn’t inspiring enough.But frustration is a good enough inspiration for right now.Also more than anything else I just want to get this blog started 🙂

What do you do when you’re in what seems like a permanent state of disconnect?You don’t know the people around you well enough and the ones that do (or did) are too far away to reach out to. It’s  quite a task to explain everything to have the person on the other end of the phone so she/he can relate to what you’re saying. All that’s left is the disconnect.And where do you go from there?Pretend like nothing’s wrong?Or go on super-aggressive fix-it mode?Are you supposed to feel bad about it or accept it with a pinch of salt and keep going on anyway?

What does one do when its very apparent that the people you know are going to make their exits because life in all its sadistic humour is going to bring plenty of opportunities to say goodbye?Do you go through each day preparing to bid farewell or just block it out of your mind?

All the mess aside I think Roomie and I are getting better at ridding the house of insects.Colour, shape, size no bar. We’ve developed an efficient whack-and-spray system. I whack, she sprays (or vice versa). Maybe we should get into contract insect killing business…

Workload keeps piling up.Few feeble attempts and a lot of puffing later, I’m still pretty much where I started.

There’s been major wallowing in the past of late.Minus all the teenage angst of course.The obsessive coffee shop hopping is deeply missed as much is the music and reading.Most often the music and Tamas.

Insomnia apparently is contagious

Amy Lee has a brilliant voice.Absolutely brilliant.The guitaring sounds wonderful in Broken.

The last thing people need when they’re bursting to talk to someone is to be pinged on gtalk by someone who is biologically incapable of listening and has to go on and on about some random mundane details.

The thesis material just sits on my hard drive everyday like an old neglected memento collecting dust.

Weekend rolling around means time again to do the laundry, spruce up the “crib”, catch up on assignments, cook…existence cannot get yuckier than that.And this post cannot get more uninspired 🙂