Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Exciting nooz!

Shameless plugging here, I have an article published in an actual magazine!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mailed em!

Ladies! Yes, all four of you. I mailed your post card yesterday =)
I am astounded at how expensive it is to mail postcards! hee.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Kiddies in public

I love me the kiddies. People who know the Person Behind the Kitteh know that I have longed for years to have children, and that my brain short circuits around my niece and nephew. I love all kiddies, needing no genetic bond to adore and worship them. But mother of god why are they so badly brought up these days?

This article got me off my butt to post.

I have to say, I agree with the man. For you lazy people, it's about a restaurant that says leave if your kids misbehave. Notice it doesn't ban kids; it doesn't say no kids on planes or modes of transport; it just says if you don't teach your child to behave in public then keep it at home. I heartily agree.

When I was growing up, if I ever brushed against a grownup in the pool, I'd splutter and beg forgiveness for interrupting their swim. When I went on trips, I was never ever allowed to put my shoes on the berth or scream IWANTIWANTIWANT to my parents. If we went to a movie and I got scared or upset, one parent would swiftly extricate me from the cinema and we wouldn't go back inside. It was a high honour to go out to eat and my french fries would disappear if I behaved badly. Oh I did throw tantrums, but in the car on the way home.

Which is why, today, when a kid pours water on my head on the train, or has a screaming tantrum in a restaurant because he wants dessert NOW, and howls through a movie, I want to SMACK the parents and be like, yo! I get it! It sucks BALLS that you can't go out and have a nice fun life for now, and you totally DO need to get out. It terrible that you have no kindly friends and or relative who will/can babysit. But you knew all this, and you had the baby. And you know, good for you. And you brought the kid out, awesome. I love kids. But dude, if your kid doesn't recognize the You're in trouble voice, then you should take him/her home for some training. Really. Cos if you can't/won't do it, I'm gonna have to.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Snailr Project (or I am quite stupid)

So there's this blogger. Heaven knows how or why I found her blog, but thank the google demons for it. Her name is Anna Pickard, she's English and lives in San Francisco, and introduced me to Nightlife at the California Academy of Sciences, and it is my one greatest regret that I never had the courage to say umcanwemeetforadrinkmaybeheeI'mnotacreepystalkerIswear!

Why? This, for one. And this for another. That actually caused some extremely painful problems for my consultant friends stuck in boring meetings.

Anyway, I did manage to establish email contact with her, and when she launched this Snailr Project of course I was begging for a postcard. I mean snail mail AND trains!!! It has been a lifelong ambition of mine to take trains across the USA. Then I got one! A postcard, not a train. Or an ambition. I leapt and whirled about the house with joy, and Appa said er why do strange women you meet online keep sending you postcards? I searched and searched and SEARCHED for a scanner...and never found one. Guilt mounted, because well other people were posting their cards! Then last night I realised, I could just um take a photo of it...

That, in case you were wondering, is the front. And this is the back.

If you click you will definitely be able to read it. Also, Anna, I LOVE how you wrote my name! And your handwriting.

It's postcard number 4, and got here pretty darn quick! For those of you who can't/won't click,the text is this:
We have our first lunch on the train! In a formal, outdated routine, we're directed to make a Reservation as the dining steward passes through the train. At the appointed hour we go to the dining car and are seated opposite complete strangers. They don't introduce themselves by name, so we don't either. They're, we think, in their mid-70s, originally from New Jersey, now Southern California. She's short, and short of temper, and short-sighted. And short with the waitress. He is gentle, and determined. He has Alzheimer's/ At one point we all spend 10 minutes trying to help him find the words "Christmas tree."

Anna, I love you even more now that you hyphenate short-sighted.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Frantically putting the finishing touches to my Spanish course I'm proofreading and the like. This means I notice that of the two verbs "to be" in Spanish, it is ser (permanent/intrinsic) that is used for bachelor and spinster hood, while estar (temporary, transient) is used to say married.

Of course this might be because the words married, divorced and separated are all participles and estar is used with participles, but it's more fun to wonder if this reflects an attitude to life. Heh.

One liner. Okay, two sentencer.

I just love how, when Appa signs off an email responding to me on the family emailing list he signs it Appa/(his name).

I also love how, when he used to write us letters when he lived in Indonesia, he would sign them "Rgds" or "Affly."

Monday, September 06, 2010

Ack ack ack fat rant alert

So looking for stuff online I bumped into this. The photos are lovely. Really they are. But what bothers me about it is these women are supposed to be overweight. REALLY??? Okay one of them could classify as plump, but if any of them is larger than a size 12 I'll fall over laughing.

What is the matter with us?

Saturday, September 04, 2010


Where I did my MA, there's a reason I used to call it the pisspot. A miniscule institute perched on the edge of the university, with a total of maybe 200 students in its MA, MPhil and PhD programs. People crammed three to a room in the hostels, teachers who did whatever they wanted and called it a course, without actually you know planning it or having any external evaluation of it, or looking at how to make a holistic program out of the business.

I remember in my first month, we had a strike! how exciting it was. We all lined up with posters in front of the admin building, we shouted slogans and giggled a lot and gasp ditched class. There wasn't room in the hostels, food in the mess or electricity.

Seven years later I go back. It now offers undergraduate courses and has been converted into a university proper. A central university with funding and everything. Now there are over 1000 students crammed into that same campus. The hostels have been "rebuilt" and "expanded," but people are now living three to a room. The lines are an hour long and there's no food at the end of the line. The students had a strike, almost a regular event now, and the acting vice chancellor refused to meet them. Well I hear he tried to wriggle out of a meeting he had agreed to. So they gheraoed him. And the professors in their indignant fury had a meeting. Shall we expel them? This disrespect for the dignity of their professors is unacceptable.

To you I say sir, or madam, what about the dignity of the student? What happened to the dignity of the human being? According to Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services...
 Is your dignity as a professor more important than your responsibility, as a professor and a part of civil society, to uphold the UDHR? Is your dignity as a professor more important than your duty as a professor to wish to impart and nurture knowledge, to which end your students should have managed to get a good night's sleep, take a shower, and put some food in their tummies before they get to class?

It makes me sick.

So much is so wrong with the way we look at education in this country (and the rest of the world, but right now my life is involved very deeply in this country and education), and that spills over into everything else. I'm not even touching the subject of school education. That's a whole parallel universe of worms.

Literacy is defined as being able to read and write your own name. Then guess what, I'm literate in every language that uses the Roman script.

Qualifying to teach a language at the university level means you can spout a lot of facts about the literature written in that language. You don't have to know the meaning of the word "predicate" but you can pass the NET exam and teach English in a university. Because, you know, being able to write a critical essay on Chaucer is immensely important to teaching modern English for daily usage to non speakers.

The point of going to college is to get the degree that is currently in fashion, not to actually learn to think. Because B.Tech or MBA on your CV will get you that BPO job where you work nights and make money.

Learning a language is a waste of time - putting one in the syllabus at your institute is merely a nod in the direction of the "trends" in favour of communication and international relations. So you can't be expected to actually pay for it. And the more people you can cram into a class the better, surely a student doesn't need more than three minutes of teach attention in a week! Also, why on earth would you need to know what a demonstrative pronoun is? It's not like you need to know the difference between subtraction and division to get an equation right.

Nobody cares. There are so many of us. Everyone wants an education. Everyone kills themselves saving up so their kids can go to engineering college. Those kids come out and they can't engineer anything to save their lives. But hey, they have the stamp. And they are the perfect little drones to perform all the pointless repetitive tasks that the outsourcing industry needs to get done. Should one of them wake up and rebel, out it goes, there's a hundred more dying to take its spot. That's exactly how we look at higher education. Never mind there's a hundred more where that one came from.

I want to scream at them. STOP IT. DON'T pin your life to this. Don't do it. Do not rush headlong into that furrow and dig yourself into it so deep you die there.

I, who am a vociferous and venom-spitting critic of "cultural studies;" I who woke up one morning in the middle of my MA litt and said FUCK woman, could you BE doing something more worthless; I sit here today and I think, well, it may be self serving and annoying; it may be a bubble, and it may lead to nothing much, but at least the humanities teach you to think. The humanities are the only discipline in India where you can look at your professor in your first year and say, no, I disagree, and be fairly confident you're not going to be failed. And they are the only place where you have a hope of being taught to life you head up, look around and go hmmm lemme try going the way the teacher said not to. (I'm talking about first year Bachelor's degree here.)

Ok I don't know where I was going with this anymore. Heh. I got distracted by an I-used-to-be-fat article, and of course three more posts mushroomed in my head. Here's hoping they see the light of day.

You never believe it’ll happen to you until it does.

Growing up, I never thought I’d be one of those girls. You know, with parents that wait up for them, and don’t let them out. With parents who make snide remarks that consistently undermine them. You know, with parents who don’t let them go out with their friends, parents who gently and persistently erode their lives until they don’t know if they're living in reality or a soap opera. One of those girls who’s always lying to her parents about where she is, who she’s with. One of those girls that will make her friends cousin pretend to be someone he isn’t so that her father will be a normal human being.

But apparently, I am one of those girls. “Oh! You’re going out carousing again” “Ha ha ha you’ll be up all night and lazy lie abed you’re going to sleep till 8.” Carousing – do you even know what that word means Amma? Do you? Because if that’s what you think you raised your daughter to do, then well you might as well a madam in a brothel no? And lazy lie abed? When is the last time a twenty-eight year old woke up at 730 because you would want her not – not because she slept early. Not because she had to be at work. Not because of anything. Except the fact that it makes a difference to YOU. You who can’t appreciate one damn thing about her. You who spend all you energy and time and insinuation telling her she’s not good enough, she’s failed. You who are hypocritical enough to say, be whoever you want to be, just the whoever we want you to be.

And me? I’m lying down taking the kind of behavior I’d be furious of my friends put up with, my mother and father would be furious of my friends put up with, my mother and father would give their own friends hell for for inflicting on their children. Can I support myself? Yes. Do I have savings? Yes. Do I have to live in your house? No. Do I have to live by your rules? No. Do I choose to? Yes. Why? Because, whatever it is, I am the child that is HERE. I may not ever have done anything the way you wanted, I might be the eternal disappointment, and if I’m not you sure do a helluva good job convincing me otherwise, but I’m HERE. I’m HERE. Under your roof. You can SEE every drink I have, every friend I see. You know what time I wake up. No, I'm not doing you any favours. But hey guess what, neither are you.

But because it’s not in your language, you cannot see the work I do. You cannot see the value I can bring to lives. No, not just in terms of my work. You cannot see the people who are GLAD that I’m their lives, the people who say I DON’T CARE HOW FARFETCHED IT IS, YOU ARE FUCKING AWESOME YOU WILL DO IT SO WELL. And when you are forced to see them, you can dismiss them because they’re your stupid child’s stupid friends. And she really did fuck up with one friend so of course she has no judgment.

Why do I care? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because you always told me I could do anything I could be anyone. That there are no rules about how someone should be or should act. That if I fulfill my responsibilities to other people, what I do otherwise is all mine. That being social is GOOD. That having conversations and interactions is GOOD. That I'm actually BEING a responsible contributing adult. Maybe you need to have a failure child. Maybe you need to see what it's like to have that.

I just wish I could turn it off. Like I have so blithely told people in the past, parents are your past. However much you love them, they are your past. You are your own future. But when it's you, your parents, the people whom you think gave you that feeling that you are superwoman you can do's not that easy to walk away. And god KNOWS I have tried. Emails. Conversations. Being the adult. Adapting to them. Now I'm done. You're the grown ups, right? Especially if I'm the fuckedup child.

Sometimes I just want to be the kid you know. That one. The one they love. The one they believe in. The one that they support.

Not the one they always question. Not the one they always doubt. Not the one who's always defending herself at the age of twenty-eight for doing things her older sister did at the age of FIFTEEN. The one whose presence is acknowledged and appreciated. The one who gets an "Aw you woke up early to spend time with me" not a "Good afternoon its 8am you lazy bum."

But I think I have FINALLY accepted that I'll never be that child. That child already exists. They don't need another one. Thank god I have a decent relationship with that child who can do no wrong, despite all the history.  I'll never be good enough. Ah what a cliche. Now to grow a pair and accept it.

So you know what Amma and Appa? I love you. I respect you. I drive kilometers every week to spend time with you. I lose hours of sleep every day to conform to how you think I should be. And you cannot even begin to acknowledge it. Well now, you're getting her. That rebellious fractious obnoxious child. That one who doesn't care what you say. That one who does what she wants and parties like a crazy person. That one who wakes up at 3pm and makes unreasonable demands. Cos fuck, if I'm paying the price I might as well enjoy the product no?

I'm done being a grown up only to be treated like a child. Let's see how you like actually getting what you think you've got.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Rereading the old blog

A lot. Don't ask. I find all these interesting things I want to return to, 6 years later. Y'all might remember the thirteen post I put up a while ago. I've tried to write those posts often, but well, hasn't happened. But the rereading at least pushed me to think about these things again!

So, thirteen songs against which I had no defences, back in 2005.

Thirteen songs I have no defences against. When I hear them I have no hope of not being whipped across the temporal-spatial continuum. For future ref, none of these lists is comprehensive or static. Just the first 13 in each category.

  1. Always – Bon Jovi. I associate it with a time in my life and the people who populated it, and it yanks me back there with a physical painful jerk. Yeah now it makes me snigger. And exaggeratedly sing along, with actions. 
  2. Trouble – Coldplay. I could be walking on the road in the blazing noon sun, but in my head I’m in a cold, dark, and empty place of peace. Now it feels more like sorrow than peace.
  3. Lightning Crashes – Live. I’m sitting on the floor of the lil room in Misha’s house, its dark and Chica is playing the guitar over the noise of the cooler. You know, I don't think I've heard it in forever. Maybe cos Chica, who played it, is gone and wants no part of my life, and OOF, who sang it is gone and I want no part of his life. It's a nice enough song though...
  4. Love me for a Reason – Boyzone. [Stop sniggering you lot! Like Mr. Sumner sez, don’t judge me, you could be me in another life, another set of circumstances.] I’m in the backseat of the car, being driven home from French class, just going round the Public Gardens roundabout. It’s dark and the a/c is on cold. This memory seems to have been completely wiped. Thought I guess I should play it first eh. 
  5. Every Rose has its Thorn – Poison. In Scoo’s altima, cruising down the 5 in the carpool lane and belting out the lyrics at 90mph. Yup, still got this one. I guess family stays forever eh.
  6. Pal – KK. On the steps of the shops opposite Mata Gulab Devi College Girls’ Hostel, like a buncha shady characters, Ships in her orange white and black shawl, me in my black shawl, on a Delhi November evening. Ahhh released this one too. In fact I find the song a bit whiny these days.
  7. Horse with no Name – America. On the floor of Aleya’s drawing room, nicely tipsy, watching Debayan and Chica do their synchronized head-bob with tongues sticking out. This one also stays...
  8. Jhanjariya – I have NO clue. This one time my cousin Ajay visited and proceeded to launch into it when someone demanded a fast number. Also erased, maybe cos said cousin doth not inspire the fondest feelings these days...
  9. Baar Baar dekho – Rafi (?). Waltzing round the living room – aged about 9 I think – with my sister and my cousin, playing the “guitar” on badminton rackets. Nope don't have this anymore either.
  10. Hero – Enrique Iglesias. Crooning along with Adit while trying to control hysterical giggles. This one stays.
  11. Yaron – KK. At Bhongir. Chillin. Ohhh yeah this one's gone too. Woo.
  12. Cotton-eyed Joe – Who knows??? Standing in the door of my sister’s bedroom in Marredpally, and watching my adorable 1 and a half year old (?) nieces boogie. Hee. Now I imagine Her Ladyship of Wogglesworth boogie-ing to it.
  13. Twist and Shout – The Beatles. Room in HMI guest house in Manali, asking my sister and cousin [who is wearing a green jacket, you remember tad?] wot on EARTH that guy was saying. Got this one too.
I toyed with writing a list of songs that move me now, but yeah it ain't the same. Though Angel by DMB makes me purr cos (puke buckets ready ladies), it's my BBot's ringtone. i.e. what plays when he calls me ;)

Thursday, August 05, 2010


Last night, and this morning, I sat next to BBot and watched him nearly rip his hair out in sheer frustration and boredom, because he was "on a call" with self-important idiots in the US, had nothing to say, has nothing to gain from listening, and yet had to spend hours glued to the phone. I said, "Hah, welcome to my life in corporate whoredom." At that moment I realized that I am now free. And whatever the worries that plague me right now about the choices I have made, or the viability of the path I have chosen, or my own ability to be different and stand by never going back to the Brothel, or any equivalent, I know that I made the right choice.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Snail mail

Recently I received a much abused post card whose ink had mostly been washed off by I hope the monsoon rains. It was from Broom, and was a part of one of her month resolutions to mail a postcard every day.

While cleaning out the endless crannies in my room. I found a huge stack of postcards I bought on various trips, mostly to Europe, in the vain hope that I would gaze upon them fondly when on my couch I lie in vacant or in pensive mood. Hah. Fat chance. Forgot they blooming exist!

So, anyone wants a postcard in the mail? Subjects are:

  1. Flamenco
  2. Spain (Salamanca, Valencia, and random posters of bullfights and flamenco peformances, and two demanding equal rights and the right to smoke in the workplace.)
  3. The Beatles
  4. One funny one about the characteristics of people in the EU
  5. Prints of various Turner, Goya and obscure impressionist paintings
  6. Print of Blake's "Newton"
If you want one, email me with postal address and preference, if any.

P.S. Editing to add something of which Mungi's comment reminded me. My grandmother has always sent us inlands, I have one for almost every week I was in college. She even used to send aerograms to my sister in the oosa. Now she writes em out on bits of paper and resident grandchild emails it. However, she caused no small sensation on the small island of Bar Harbor when the Poo was a recipient of a REAL letter from a REAL person with a REAL intention.

Monday, August 02, 2010


Everyone has their slight tinge of OCD, right? Whether it's someone wanting everything done their way, or needing minions all the time, or not being able to step on cracks or washing hands and never eating food that's fallen you get my drift. This evening, as I refolded all the clothes the maid had folded, including the towels, whose only crime was that they were inside out as it were, and I could see the label tucked into the hem, I thought I should make a list of mine.


  1. Folding things just right. Shirts and top half things in thirds, evenly, so that they are as small as possible, and then doubled or trebled depending on length. Pants folded with the butt on the outside and the crotch pulled out as far as possible, and then reshaped to fit regular shape. It takes me about 10 minutes to fold a salwar, and I'm usually scared of patialas. Square/rectangular things with corners and edges matching up perfectly, and if they're warped, then the outside must not show anything uneven!
  2. Getting every last faint feeling of dirt or oil off the vessels on the outside and bottom as well as the inside. 
  3. Putting off lights and fans and switches when I'm not using them. OR someone else has temporarily left the room.
  4. Noting down page numbers of books left open facedown, and then closing them with a muttered curse for person who left them so.
  5. On a related note, smoothing out all dog-ears in a book before I read it.
  6. Needing everything in a system. Even if I think up the system after 95% of chaos has been included, I will spend hours fixing it and then halfway through come up with something new and start over. To wit, the music debacle.
  7. Things must be angled. Appa and I have clashed over this many times, because in his universe things must be perfectly aligned and at right angles. Good thing my room is a hexagon!
  8. Rinsing dishes out before leaving them in the sink, and preferably soaking them also.
  9. Homogeneity in my mouthfuls - every mouthful must have the same proportion of all components. One reason why I love one dish meals, and eating with my hands.
  10. Spotless counter before bed. Wiped down with cleaner and all. And scrubbing the sink after doing the dishes to get the lil bits of food stuck to the sides off.
  11. How my chai is made first thing in the morning: Measure 3/4ths of a large mug of water, pour into pan, put on fire, add milk to just the right colour, put in one spoon of Society tea leaves, and leave on sim till it comes to a boil. Turn up till it almost boils over and off and pour out onto sugar that was put into the wet mug and has half dissolved already. Edit: The Mungi is the only person to ever have managed to make it just right. For which we love her. And that's why we managed to survive a year living together ;)
Not OCD:
  1. Eating off the floor. Really, if it's not sticky and wet and I dropped it, I'll pick it right up and eat it. This one gives BBot the heebie jeebies.
  2. Daily baths. TMI people? Hee. You want this blog to revive it won't be pretty ;) As long as it averages out to about 365 a year it's all good.
  3. Making my bed. I got into the habit while in college of hopping out of bed and making it immediately, and changing the sheets every week like clockwork. Not so much anymore. If I DO make it though, it has to be perfect...with a king bedspread on a double bed, lengthwise, and the top tucked under the pillows and the extra hanging off equally on every side, and NOTHING touching the floor. While off the bed the spread spends all its life in a bundle on the floor, but details...
People who know me in real life, any contributions?

PS: I'm dedicating this one to BBot, who, over the past year, quietly and uncomplainingly adopted 3, 4 and 8, and panders to 11 by letting me make my own chai, and 2 by letting me wash the dishes. Though maybe some of that has to do with my needing chai long before he's awake, and him disliking my standing behind him muttering as he does the dishes and then not surreptitiously feeling all of them and redoing them...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Traffic, the talking continues

Responding to The Bride's comment, I realised I might as well write a new post.

Bribes, here is my problem: the point of fines is to punish people for contravening a social contract, and act as a deterrent from making those violations. By this definition, yes it doesn't matter.

I'm letting my objection to violating said social contract stay out of this.

The other thing with fines is, they are a source of income, along with taxes, which many people evade in India. Those fines end up paying for flyovers, repairing potholes, building pavements, buying buses, etc. Granted, with corruption etc possibly half that money reaches its destination, if not less. Again, set aside the problems with corruption and suchlike. To have the kind of infrastructure one wants from a city, to have an MTR, you need the fines to go to the government, because the more that goes in, the more that eventually makes it way to the destination.

That's why I always pay fines.

They went through this period where they were writing down the license numbers of cars who ran traffic lights, parked illegally etc. But of course we were all bothered by this because frankly what's to stop someone from just making up a number or randomly picking numbers to have a quota filled? Camera surveillance is the best option there. But cameras are expensive to install at traffic intersections etc, and don't work for parking violations and so on. They did install a few here and there, but they hit upon the simple yet brilliant solution of giving the cops digital cameras. So one is now treated to the sight of a policeman slowly walking down the street in a measured way, taking a photograph of every car that's violating parking regulations. Some time later said person will receive a complicated legal letter that allows him/her, among other things, the option of compounding the offence* by paying the fine. Hilarious, no? But effective.

They also have them at major intersections with a lot of violations in a particular direction. By them I mean the skinny cop with his trusty digital camera, taking pictures of people running lights, etc. I've often wondered if I could just take a few myself of people driving the wrong way, making illegal u-turns on the flyovers, etc., and submit them. The next step maybe? Perhaps if Chandrababu Naidu was around with his e-obsession.

One thing that worries Appa occasionally is how, if you promptly pay the fine, you seem to get more. Of course they have photographic evidence of the violation, but there are about 5 people committing it at the same time as you, so do they send you the ticket because they know you'll pay? While I agree that if you've committed a violation you should indeed pay, the trouble is that half the time it's extremely difficult to know you're committing one. Many of the major traffic lights in our side of town are off most of the time, with a policeman directing traffic. Often there's one directing even when the light IS on, and if the cop is waving you through to run the light, can they then ticket you for it? There are lots of these weird lights on T-junctions, where the people going along the top of the T shouldn't have to stop, but the light will be red, and if you DO stop a cop will furiously wave you which of those lights are supposed to be obeyed and which aren't?


*Yup, compounding. I did a few double takes myself, and though wait they DON'T want me to pay? But BBot explained to me that there's a complicated and clearly archaic nomenclature in place that defines offences are compoundable and non-compoundable, where compoundable offences can be adjudicated by the police inspector/superintendent and can be settled by pootling down to the station and paying your fine. Non-compoundable ones have to go to court.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Traffic. No, really, this is RIDICULOUS!

This morning, driving to work at a more normal hour than my usual 1pm, I found myself stuck in traffic. Insane traffic. I travelled all of half a kilometre in 40 minutes. Really. Mind you, this wasn't technically rush hour, it was past rush hour - 1030am. Granted, it rained and everything falls apart when it rains, but for heaven's sake! All that road widening and we're still stuck in traffic as bad as it was when they were building the flyovers...

Anyway, there I was, sitting in standing traffic, unable to read my book, and cursed with racing the engine since Roxy's new trick is to protest stop and go traffic by dying if left in neutral after about half an hour. Once I finished swearing in six languages, I began to think of solutions.

The first one that came to mind was the good old, odd numbers on M, W, F and evens on T, T, S. anyone on Sunday. That's a little hard to implement, as is anything in Hyderabad, because well who's going to catch the people breaking the rule and fine them and not let them get away with a bribe? These solutions only work in internally panopticonised* worlds, and India is definitely not one of them.

Then I remembered those glorious two days when the call centre cabs were on strike. The roads were empty. I tried desultorily to google information on this, but I couldn't find any (BBot, DiscoDancer, volunteering?) so I'm going to say one third to half of the four wheelers on the roads in Hyderabad are owned by companies who provide transport to the multinationals who have their BPOS in the city, and spend their days transporting copious quantities of call centre workers to and from various points. These guys are hellions, and commit on average one traffic violation every ten minutes. How about if we averaged that to about two an hour and totted up the amount of money the city should be getting in fines, and imposed it as a tax on either the companies who run the cabs, or the ones who use them?

Half of that money could go STRAIGHT into upping the salaries of traffic policemen. That would give them some incentive to not accept bribes. One quarter could go into snipers who shoot tranquilizer darts at every two wheeler that commits a violation. Said driver will wake up bound and gagged somewhere on the outskirts of the city. Ok, ok, I'm kidding. Though I think we could also apply the average violation tax to two wheelers and autos... So, one quarter could go into infrastructure - drains, maintaining the roads, building pavements etc. The rest should go into building an overhead light rail metro.

Eventually, buses should become free, and taxes on other vehicles should be enough to run the public transport system.

Of course, eventually, global warming will end, as will war.

Till such time, I think I'm going to telecommute.

P.S. I forgot, if they banned municipal vehicles and staff on the arterial roads between 6am and 11pm it would help a lot. The pyschokiller garbage trucks are terrible, the street cleaning trucks are terrifying and nothing is scarier than making a turn to have to screech to a halt cos there's a little old lady in a visibility "vest" wielding hr broom.

*I actually think this is fascinating. I alway thought the idea came from Foucault, but I think I might be mistaken. However, I think that this Panopticon has been so neatly internalised in Western society that one would never dream of doing something wrong even if there were no witnesses, because we each have our personal prison supervisor in our heads. This is also why, of course, the honour system works, and cheaters have so much to win.


Two news items in today's Hindu have provoked much argh, though one more than the other.

I caught sight of an article putting Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan in the same boat as being intrinsic to Indian culture. Now, I'm not arguing with the importance of film to pop culture in India (and surely they refer to pop cultura, not that I'm dissing pop culture either), but even to such a cricket non-enthusiast as me the idea of putting them on the same platform is a titch ridiculous. I can't stand SRK, but putting that aside, the man has some talent and a REALLY good sales pitch. He knows how to read the audience and give them exactly what they want. And let's not forget the PR. Sachin, on the other hand, is mindbogglingly talented and has honed that talent to such blistering skill that it leaves me fair gasping - and I don't even LIKE cricket! Subject them, I say, to the radio test. If we had no TV and only radio, would SRK be as much as a celebrity as he is? Would Sachin?


The second item was a heartbreaking piece on the planned and apparently now confirmed reintroduction of cheetahs into central India. The horror.

Now, any sort of environmental conservation effort should be viewed optimistically, because we are a country with limited resources and far more pressing demands, like poverty and education and so on. However, it pays to turn the occasional jaundiced eye on our efforts. There was the wonderful idea of reforesting Karnataka with eucalyptus, which isn't native, doesn't really provide much protection from erosion, and drains the groundwater so much that remaining native vegetation dies. That was stopped, mercifully.

The latest brilliant idea is this cheetah one. I'll leave the dissection of Mr. Jairam Ramesh's masterful articulation of WHY this needs to be done for later. Has it not occurred to anyone anywhere that reintroducing a powerful predator that was on the decline for several years before it finally gave up the ghost into regions that have now evolved without it might upset things a bit?

Secondly, why the North African cheetah? If you're going to spend Rs. 300 crore on a project, how about investing in some breeding pairs and trying to do something in captivity before introducing a similar yes distinct subspecies into the wild? Or maybe even do it parallel? Existing wildlife sanctuaries in India struggle terribly with poaching, and less dramatically, the spilling over of humans and livestock into sanctuary areas and of protected species into buffer areas. Why not use that Rs. 300 crore to rehabilitate people and establish a more enduring system of reserves? From what I can tell, Kanha is one of the few that succeeds and even they see some serious trouble with poachers.
(Feel free to yell at me if I'm talking through my hat.)

And now, of course, we come to the gem that emerges from the sainted lips of His Pompousness Mr. Ramesh:

“It is important to bring cheetah back to our country. This is perhaps the only mammal whose name has been derived from Sanskrit language. It comes from the word chitraku which means spots. The way tiger restores forest ecosystem, snow leopard restores mountain ecosystem, Gangetic dolphin restores waters in the rivers, the cheetah will restore grasslands of the country.”

I'm not going into the epileptic fit that grammar induced in me, and am going to lay the blame, probably rightly, at The Hindu's door. But really? We must bring the chetah back because it's name comes from Sanskrit? REALLY? THAT'S what we should base our conservation efforts on?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

L is for the Way you Look at Me

Ah supersize me. I have realised I need a pretty girl to attract men who will then be exposed to stunning by my stunning personality.

Written a long long time ago, back in 2006 I think, I never finished this post. But I still think it's true. BBot, before you freak out, I'm not on the lookout =)

But. I've noticed that, whether male or female, if one is not conventionally attractive, it helps to have a hot friend who attracts tons of attention and then you can get the leftovers. Only, it doesn't work for girls. By which I mean that if I end up in a conversation with a non-hot boy whose hot friend got my attention, then I'm quite likely to forget the hot friend if we connect. Never seen it happen that way to a guy.

I LOVE the transparent idea

in bloggers new templates, but I don't appreciate being forced to use their images. For now I had to choose between two. This is option one, and highly appropriate too. What say?

Edit: Yay, fixed it! Apparently all you need to do is go into your dashboard, scroll to the bottom and select blogger in draft under tools. You can keep the draft dashboard by checking the box on top once it reloads. Then, in the Template Designer, you can upload a photo. The size requirements are complicated, so go to Imgur and upload and resize as ye wish. Download the resized photo and then delete it from imgur.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Could it be that air travel in the US got a titch better?

Pardon any racism I seem to emanate, it's not intentional.

Boarding my flight to Duffai, I noticed that somehow security chec doesn't suck so much anymore. Maybe it's cos we've gotten SO good at the stack belongings, pop out computer, remove belt and shoes, display liquids and shuffle in an insanely slow line. Maybe cos the TSA is nicer. No, wait, hear me out.

The TSA has changed so much! From being formidable and downright hostile white people we have come to the point where Sergio, the nice latino man who checked our passports today, and knows how to say hi, how are you in many languages, who chatted blithely with me, the Indian family in front of me, and smiled at every single person who passed him. He even told me to take care and have a good flight – and sounded like he meant it! It's funny to see the very large proportion of TSA employees who are now black, hispanic, or somehow people of colour – and by extension generally nicer, younger and far friendlier than in the past.

Cruising at 30,000 feet

and this is all I do.  An attempt to restart this blog. Bride, you want to send me tons of tags?

It's official. MinCat is a Bollywood whorejunkie. I'm sitting in a plane en route to Dubai and I'm wondering why the FUCK I didn't get around to watching Wake Up Sid while it was in theatres. Granted, I didn't know Konkona was in it, but even her stellar acting aside (oh man, I was just blown away in that scene when she's dripping form the water he's thrown all over her and he hugs her), it's such a fabulous movie. 

Perhaps it my adoration has something to do with it being shortened for a plane; or perhaps something to do with being an aspiring photographer, and being reminded heavily of college in Delhi (boasting alert, where I did work on a play with Konkona who was my senior and a total sweetie); or maybe I was just insanely amused by how immensely obnoxious Rahul Khanna's character is, having met several people who patronise other people for their tastes – whatever the cause I feel like I'm watching a movie tailor-made for me. I laughed. I swore. I giggled. I sniffled. I even cried a bit – though that might have more to do with leaving the beloved niece than the movie itself. Granted, there's no way she could afford that flat or to furnish it without a job; and hahah let's not even approach the seamless ease with which she jobs was found and passed on to him; but I think many people I know could identify with that life. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I have never had a movie-watching experience that simple incorporated me into itself so comprehensively. I worry that nothing else will satisfy on this flight now.

Edit: no, nothing did.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Yes abandonment has happened

Or, as we'd say in my family, the blog has been ABONDENED.* But The Bride has shaken me out my stupor to put up this list.

First off, in terms of the larger aspects of stereotyping and questioning it, and speaking for a gender etc goes, The Bride and Broom have said it all for me, and I' too lazy to rearticulate what has already been done so well, so go read my disclaimers on their blogs before you ruffle any feathers.

My manly traits:

  1. Loud slapping laugh and filthy disgusting mind. Always making dirty jokes and sniggering at double entendres.
  2. I burp, I fart: I have bodily processes and I'm proud of it.
  3. Always carry my own stuff - luggage, shopping, whatever.
  4. Open doors for girls; put my arm along the back of the seat; drop them at their doors when it's late; generally look out for them.
  5. I can drink. A lot. I have yet to meet the man who can out drink me. 
  6. *If* I carry a child and give birth to it, I want it to have my surname - much along the lines of The Bride. But, since I plan to adopt it shouldn't be an issue.
  7. I swear like a truck driver. A Haryanvi truck driver. Though often enough it's in Spanish.
  8. I'm very loud and er physically expressive. I will smack and punch and shove etc.
  9. I hate shopping. This might have something to do with how difficult it is to find clothes that work for me, but even in Target and Old Navy, I like to come in with a purpose, and get out in 30 minutes or less.
My womanly traits:
  1. I LOVELOVELOVE to cook. Yeah I know, whoda thought it what with the food blog and all.
  2. I LOVELOVELOVE to keep house. Set it up, decorate, tidy, clean, grocery shop, etc.
  3. I LOVE kids. And mostly, they love me. As my father puts it, MinCat holds a strange fascination for those who are below the height of a dining table.
  4. I love romcoms. Seriously, if it's not Bollywood, animated, a romcom or in Spanish, I won't watch it.
  5. I'm very touchy-feely. This is extension of 8 of course, only in this direction it's girly. Hey don't ask me, I don't make the rules!
  6. Porn bores me. Really. It's not gross, or anything more than yawn inducing.
  7. I have always wanted to marry and have kids and run a house. I don't think I am incomplete without it, any more or less than someone who wants to be an astronaut but isn't is incomplete. I have considered running a guest house or bed and breakfast.
  8. I'm terribly social. I get along with everyone and have lovely pointless Stepford conversations.
  9. I'm always mothering people and worrying about them and trying to fix their lives.
  10. I love dressing up. It's just hard to find the right clothes sometimes. hee.

*This is reference to all the dilapidated railway buildings one sees, with the word abandoned stencilled on them. except it was often abondoned. or abondened. 

Friday, April 30, 2010

Mah Momma is teh BESTEST

Today is the day my mother retires from 22 years of service at one central government institute. I don't know how many years she was at the one before that, and consequently how many years she's been with the central government in total. Anyway, as the only family representative in town I've been going to her various farewell parties. Sitting there, and listening to all the uncles and aunties talk about her, how long they've known her, the things she's done, etc, I almost burst with pride.

To begin, how many of us can even assimilate the idea of working with the SAME people for twenty-two years? The mind boggles. We congratulate ourselves for surviving 22 months. Or at least, I do. The sense of community and camaraderie that comes from working with the same people for that long is something else. For me, removed by one degree from these people, my memory of the past 22 years is peppered with stories about them - melting solder on one uncle's desk, drawing trees on someone else's blackboard, begging for computer paper to scribble on from a third, and so on. I remember antakshari sessions, and practising Hindi, being quiet because Amma's boss was in his room, going to flag hoisting at least once a year, demanding egg biryani from the canteen, going to Numaish with Amma's friends, and heaven know what else. For Amma, who's gone on field trips running into multiple months with these people, and has spent a significant part of every day of her life all these years with them, it must be something else entirely.

What I take away most though, is just how special a person Amma is. On the basis of science, and marking sites and setting instruments all over rural India, she has reached out to people of every imaginable type and forged these strong bonds of friendship that have reached out and embraced us as well. Her first boss was saying last night, that he remembers the first time she went to the field, they were nervous, because she was the first woman to do this kind of work (a fact she's always forgotten to mention), and the first night she didn't turn up at camp they were panicking so much. She turned up at 9, indignant at the questioning of where she was, and dismissed all the worrying and fears. She then went on to take care of all of them in the field he said. One story he told is, for me, representative of who my mother is. In the wilds of Gujarat, in her flannel shirt and jeans, burnt black by the sun, at a time when letters and occasionally telegrams were the only way to communicate, and they took their sweet time getting there, she's sitting in a jeep, with all the drivers, helping them write letters home.

That's my mother: comfortable with anyone, always reaching out to people who are generally at the fringes, careless of appearance and stereotypes. She has the largest, most generous heart of anyone I know, and its door is always open. She's blunt, brutally tactless, very far from emotional or gooey, but the immense strength of her affection will show itself in the letters she'll help you write, or the wife she'll take to hospital. I have never known anyone quite like her, who gets along effortlessly with anyone, from anywhere, in any language, of any age, and at any time. She has that rare and valuable ability to put people at ease instantly, and inspire loyalty and admiration that know no bounds. Half my own friends have adopted her - and come to visit for HER birthday. She is ready to take anything on, and her interests and abilities are so varied that I get a little tired out just thinking of them! She refuses to entertain the idea that women are weaker or less than men, and in a decidedly non-feminist, non ideological way. I cannot remember a time that we have waited for my dad, or not done something because there was no male presence. It was only later when in college I encountered feminism that I realised that Amma is that rare thing, a non-feminist feminist! She believes that anyone can do anything, if they want to hard enough. And she planted that belief in ourselves in both me and my sister - something for which I am so grateful.

Today, I sit here and think about this brave, intelligent, hilarious, generous woman, without whose presence my life would be so very boring and dull; to whom I have to talk at least once a day, if not three times when I don't live at home; without visiting whom I'm grumpy all week; for whom I'll wake up at 6am and blearily exercise; and I am very grateful to have been blessed with her as my mother. I think that if I can ever be half the person she is, my life will have been well spent.

I love you Amma, way to go!

Monday, March 29, 2010


Well. I was sick and then travelling so needed small book, and while sick started on Banker's Ramayana, so the Mahabharata's been on the back burner. However, tonight will resume.

Book Reviews: Guns, Germs and Steel

I quite like Jared Diamond; I'm fascinated by evolution and evolutionary history; and when I started this book in a friend's house in Delhi, I almost wept when I had to put it down.

Cut to last week, when I finally resumed the book. The first part, where he talks of food production and its connection to development, is fascinating, especially when he first introduces it. He does a great job, taking small steps and leading the reader every step of the way. I loved how he explained the development of writing, the development of disease and it's connection with animal domestication. I was tickled by the chapter names.

But then he goes and explains everything again. In the same chapter. And then once more for good luck. And ends with a summary at the end of the chapter. I felt like I was meant to be a retarded 15 year old. Which is not a nice feeling when I'm reading an interesting non-fiction book.

Ashamedly I must admit I didn't finish it. Yesterday, in the afternoon, something snapped. I AM NOT A RETARDED FIFTEEN YEAR OLD I screamed as I slammed it down on the table. I get your point Mr. Diamond, I do. All seventy-five times you made it. Also, the Andamans are part of India.

On Reading

Following on The Bride.

I have often wondered if this reading thing wasn't entirely a good thing. Now I know this isn't true of everyone, but I for one find myself severely restricted when it comes to film, because I like to read so much. For one thing, something in me rebels by not having the freedom to imagine things - watching a movie is so passive. When I read a book I can imagine all sorts of back story, and paint in the leaves on the trees, and the creases on someone's face. Take a very recent example, when I watched Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. I read and LOVED the whole series, and was horrified and repulsed by what Hollywood did to it. Granted, the oversimplification of the story and the complete removal of any complexity to characters or psychology was expected, as was the massive edit - the movie is essentially about 50 pages of the book. But what I hated MOST of all was how they dressed the gods. And how Poseidon looked, and Grover. Essentially, having spent so many years tapping into the internal magic of my imagination, I resent having that freedom taken away from me in movies. And this is a hundred times worse when it's a serious film, or something brutal about life etc.

Ok digression over.

I always have a book on me. Usually, when I travel, i carry one book per day, and get very upset if I don't meet my targets. I even lugged the hard cover edition of Wolf Hall all over Delhi in December, because I wanted to finish it! The Mungi was not pleased. In Goa, I refused to get into the water because I needed to finish Empire of the Moguls. I twitch as i walk past Landmark, and have never yet been able to leave a book store with one book. I even eat lunch alone a few times a week so I can catch up on my reading. I wish I took public transport because then I could read; and absolutely ADORE train journeys for all the reading I can get done.

I wonder why the reading doesn't feel like it's spilled over into writing though...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Green Revolushun

This morning, reader greeted me with this post form The Bride. Of course I had to do my own!

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on the context, I don't live in HK, so I can't do the calculation thingy. My workplace has one of those though and I usually come out in the 90s of the percent green footprint. (Wow that makes no sense.)

The things I do that I think make a difference:

  1. I never open a tap on full, unless I'm filling a bucket in a hurry. I'm pyschotically anal about no drips - my maid will be happy to testify about how many times in the two hours we share the house in the mornings I will summon her to close the leaky tap properly. I have even asked her, don't you have a water shortage where you live, where do you think it all begins! Big houses who waste water! It still makes me twitch to see how people do the dishes in the US, with about half a bucket per mug. *shudder* This probably has a lot to do with acute water shortages as a kid, which meant summer baths were in half a bucket of water, which you then used to flush the loo. 
  2. Point#1 probably links to why I rarely take more than 10 minutes in the shower, if that much. Am proud to say I can still clean self, this includes two washes and one conditioning rinse when I wash my shoulder-blade length hair, in one bucket.
  3. I'm crazy annoying about putting off lights and fans. Poor BBot has received irate texts messages about there not being a switch elf who will turn the fan off after he leaves. NF has the habit of leaving lights and fans on, and now whenever I wake up in the middle of the night I do a little circuit of the house. Yeah, really.
  4. I used to take public transport when I lived in NY, where it was efficient, reliable, and useful! I also walked a lot. Unfortunately this has not translated to my life in India - but I do drive a diesel car with no emissions that gives me 18-20 kilometres to the litre of diesel, so I'm not doing too badly. I also insist on not taking more cars than necessary - cos most of my friends live in the same area, when we go out together sometimes we end up with a car per person almost and I can't handle that. Course this means I spend a lot of time steaming gently cos I'm always 10 min early, and BBot is always 10 min late, but it's still worth it.
  5. I wish we could recycle where I live. We have some sort of recycling service where my parents live though, and my mum is very big on the little-dustbin-for-vegetable-waste-to-put-in-the-compost-pit, so there's that. I also re-use most plastic take out containers, and use plastic bags from the grocery store for the garbage bins. We also use old wine bottles for water in our house, and I always carry a water bottle, thereby not having to buy bottles/use paper cups.
  6. I have a one-tissue-per-meal rule. Seriously. Very rarely does one really need more than one tissue per meal, and sometimes when I see people use 5 at a time just dotting the corner of most of them lightly, I start to twitch. I also use sponges and cloth towels, not paper towels, and if its absolutely necessary to use paper - old newspapers. (There's one way the internet will never kill them!)
  7. Switch off plugs when they're not being used, especially if they're plugged into chargers.
  8. Am vegetarian, so yay! Hee.
  9. Print on both sides. Am fiendish about this, and have actually been seen going fuckfuckfuckfuckFUCK when I hit print without checking the settings. Luckily we have a shredder right next to the printer, and the shreds are recycled so I feel a titch better. I also bring paper waste from home and stick it in there.
  10. Am lucky that I hate yellow light and love white light, so left to myself all lights would be energy saving. 
  11. I never wash clothes hot, even when I lived in the US! I did use a dryer though, boo. But here in India, where there's ample room for clotheslines, and lots of heat and dry air, I don't.
Things I could do more:
  1. Carry my mug when I got to get coffee!
  2. Carry bags to the supermarket - though I do recycle the bags, I think they're less biodegradable than garbage bags, so it might be better to just buy garbage bags and carry cloth to the store.
  3. Fly less. There was a time when I loved trains so much, and was so broke I never took planes. But now, especially since I end up going places that are more than 14 hours by train, and become impossible to do on weekends, and have acquired frequent flyer miles to give me free flights, I can't remember the last time I took a train. Bad MinCat.
Anything else?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Blogshetra: Away we go

The Bride and I decided to read the Mahabharata, together and in different countries. She's done this before, only that time she chose Joyce's Ulysses. *shudder*

We're also probably going to end up reading different translations, given the fact that here in desh I have access to whatever I want. Mine is Kamala Subramaniam's, and she (The Bride, not Kamala) is still deciding.

So last night, after dragging all and sundry to Landmark to acquire said book, and acquiring about 6 more in the process, I settled into bed to begin reading.

First off, I'm always nervous with translated books, especially if they are originally in a language very far removed from Latin, Greek and the Germanic languages that are the foundation of English. It really does become about interpretation, and then I often wonder how the original is. I found, for example, that W. S. Merwin's translation of Neruda's "Tonight I can write the saddest lines" is quite bad, because he Englishises the structure so much that I feel that much of the charm of the original is lost, since a lot of it lies in the inversions of word order etc. This problem is a million times worse with Indian languages, so I was very happy to see, when I began reading last night, that KS manages to keep the complicated structures and cadences of what I imagine is a chanting, sonorous, oral tradition alive. It may seem a bit...strange, because the sentences are often abrupt, and there is very little active voice, and way too many words - but that's just how I think it would be in Sanskrit. Of course, my Outer Stickler is dying to rewrite the translation for an audience more familiar with traditional English...but I can keep her in check.

The story began very simply, and very much in the way my Grandma's used to when we were children, and I slipped into it immediately. It also ran very quickly, and after Bheeshma spent several years several times over to raise various princes and marry them off and do everything but 'spill his seed' to further the dynasty, I have reached the point where he has successfully married Dritharashtra and Pandu off to Gandhari and Kunti respectively.

I expect tonight's session to be a titch more exciting, and definitely enter into those parts of the story I am familiar with (I had no clue who Devavrata was until the word Bheeshma appeared. Also, it annoys me that I don't know the meanings of these words and names - any ideas where I can find out online?)

P.S. Will post extract for Bride to read and put her out of her misery of not knowing what it reads like in this translation.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I'm trying REALLY hard

In an attempt to start writing again, here is TIME's Top 100 novels of all time from 2005, which I shall now assess and see how I measure up to it. Then I'm making a list of the books I'm going to try and read in 2005, and then maybe write about them. Though why I must choose to do this while I live in HYDERABAD, forget about India, I dunno.

Also, The Bride and I are co-reading The Mahabharata, like she did Joyce! WooOOt!

  1. The Adventures of Augie March: Saul Bellow nope, might want to
  2. All the King's Men: Robert Penn Warren nope
  3. American Pastoral: Philip Roth nope, but I read another one by him, sort of what if Lindbergh had become President, and it was frankly, boring.
  4. An American Tragedy: Theodore Dreiser never even heard of this one
  5. Animal Farm: George Orwell but of course
  6. Appointment in Samarra: John O'Hara nope
  7. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret: Judy Blume many many, MANY times
  8. The Assistant: Bernard Malamud nope, no clue who he is
  9. At Swim-Two-Birds: Flann O'Brien ditto
  10. Atonement: Ian McEwan the trailer of the movie bored me so much I shudder to think of watching the movie let alone reading the book!
  11. Beloved: Toni Morrison in college, and I LOVED it. SO MUCH. What a genius writer.
  12. The Berlin Stories: Christopher Isherwood nope
  13. The Big Sleep: Raymond Chandler I think I read one of his novels once, but was too young. Stick this on the list.
  14. The Blind Assassin: Margaret Atwood I have either read this or it has sat on my shelf for ages taunting me. I think it should go on the list either way! Had her poetry in college, and loved it; also read Cat's Eye, I think, and A Handmaid's Tale.
  15. Blood Meridian: Cormac McCarthy *shudder* I feel like I've read something by him... (yes I am hopeless at remembering authors' names) Sounds a bit bloodthirsty for me, but maybe it can go on a waiting list.
  16. Brideshead Revisited: Evelyn Waugh Always wanted to read her because of glancing references in Wodehouse. On the list she goes.
  17. The Bridge of San Luis Rey: Thornton Wilder See, just for San Luis Rey, I'll try reading it.
  18. Call It Sleep: Henry Roth nope
  19. Catch-22: Joseph Heller Yes, but can't quite see the brouhaha. Did read it in one sitting though, so must have something.
  20. The Catcher in the Rye: J.D. Salinger Yes, and man was it boring. Sorry. I think I was too old, plus I don't really identify with self-destructive irresponsible types... yes yes high horse.
  21. A Clockwork Orange: Anthony Burgess *shuddershudderpuke* Never made it through the movie or the book. Quite happy to never try again thank you.
  22. The Confessions of Nat Turner: William Styron whoooo?
  23. The Corrections: Jonathan Franzen whaaaa?
  24. The Crying of Lot 49: Thomas Pynchon I feel like this guy is famous for a butterfly thing. Or not, his wikipedia page reveals that I am unlikely to like him. "Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. (born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist based in New York City and noted for his dense and complex works of fiction."
  25. A Dance to the Music of Time: Anthony Powell nope
  26. The Day of the Locust: Nathanael West nope
  27. Death Comes for the Archbishop: Willa Cather nope (why have I not heard of any of these people???)
  28. A Death in the Family: James Agee nope
  29. The Death of the Heart: Elizabeth Bowen nope
  30. Deliverance: James Dickey nope
  31. Dog Soldiers: Robert Stone nope
  32. Falconer: John Cheever nope, but I did read a lovely short story in college. Now if only I could remember what it was.... heh. On the list.
  33. The French Lieutenant's Woman: John Fowles Somehow I've never liked the objectification inherent in that title...still, waiting list.
  34. The Golden Notebook: Doris Lessing nope, and totally want to.
  35. Go Tell it on the Mountain: James Baldwin a baldwin brother?
  36. Gone With the Wind: Margaret Mitchell Many times. Much adore. Takes a twist of the kaleidoscope to see the good in it, and not dismiss it as "romance". I was blown away by the tapestry she weaves around the story, of the South, the Civil War etc.
  37. The Grapes of Wrath: John Steinbeck nice. depressing as hell. but brilliant read that paints a beautiful picture.
  38. Gravity's Rainbow: Thomas Pynchon see above
  39. The Great Gatsby: F. Scott Fitzgerald read it in college and was most bemused. I don't think I ever got the poignance of it, just seemed a bit like Wodehouse, only in America, not as funny and rather more risque. 
  40. A Handful of Dust: Evelyn Waugh see prev
  41. The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter: Carson McCullers say whaaa? Also, I'm torn between wanting to read it cos a Boy wrote it and choking on giggles because a Boy wrote it. Waiting list methinks.
  42. The Heart of the Matter: Graham Greene Ah Graham Greene. I read the one about the Catholic priest on the run in Mexico. Something and something. Or is that the Faulkner theme?
  43. Herzog: Saul Bellow hrfxt
  44. Housekeeping: Marilynne Robinson Again, it tempts me, but I think it's probably about some deep crisis in suburbia, not chicklitt. Waiting list
  45. A House for Mr. Biswas: V.S. Naipaul See, I tried to read Among the Believers and it was horrible. Naipaul just seems like such a whiny, patronising bitch. Really. I think my horror has a lot to do with early exposure to some non-fiction of his.
  46. I, Claudius: Robert Graves LOVE LOVE LOVE. Anything by the man. In fact, I think it's time I re-read this one and it's sequel. On the list to goes!
  47. Infinite Jest: David Foster Wallace Something about that title makes me wary... Waiting list
  48. Invisible Man: Ralph Ellison nope
  49. Light in August: William Faulkner nope
  50. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe: C.S. Lewis like 50 times? Much prefer the Voyage of the Dawn Treader myself.
  51. Lolita: Vladimir Nabokov meh. Really overrated, either for scandal or for anything else. The one Nabokov I really liked was called Laughter in the Dark
  52. Lord of the Flies: William Golding Never read it. Always had it on the list. 
  53. The Lord of the Rings: J.R.R. Tolkien 13 times I think. Give me The Hobbit any day.
  54. Loving: Henry Green whaa
  55. Lucky Jim: Kingsley Amis Lord. I've always heard this name, and then Martin Amis of course, and I think I've read him being scholarly about something in my Literature I want to read him? Votes anyone?
  56. The Man Who Loved Children: Christina Stead Ooooo sounds interesting. On the list, if I can get hold of it.
  57. Midnight's Children: Salman Rushdie done. Meh. Well, actually lovely book. but then I read a few more and realised that Mr. Rushdie, much like Sr. Márqeuz has one book to be re-written many times...
  58. Money: Martin Amis see above.
  59. The Moviegoer: Walker Percy I like the name of the book, and the name of the author even more! Shall try and read if I can get my hands on it.
  60. Mrs. Dalloway: Virginia Woolf Ugh. Yes, I've read it. Self-obsess much anyone? I do, however, want to read and/or see The Hours.
  61. Naked Lunch: William Burroughs Hee. Deffy want to read.
  62. Native Son: Richard Wright no way.
  63. Neuromancer: William Gibson Not read, want to read - on the list
  64. Never Let Me Go: Kazuo Ishiguro Have tried to read many times...but fall asleep. Shall try one more time.
  65. 1984: George Orwell read, and liked very much. Funny, I prefer dystopias to utopias.
  66. On the Road: Jack Kerouac never read, allus wanted to. On the list.
  67. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Ken Kesey Have started many times. Will put on waiting list. Maybe.
  68. The Painted Bird: Jerzy Kosinski nope
  69. Pale Fire: Vladimir Nabokov not really, unless Acrosticus vehemently recommends.
  70. A Passage to India: E.M. Forster Lordy...Maybe next year. I think this year is heavy enough with the Mahabharata and Ramachandra Guha's history of modern India.
  71. Play It As It Lays: Joan Didion nope
  72. Portnoy's Complaint: Philip Roth NO
  73. Possession: A.S. Byatt NOOOO
  74. The Power and the Glory: Graham Greene Oooo! That's the one! Not bad, I think I might want to re-read it with my more recent appreciation of the history of Mexico.
  75. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: Muriel Spark no
  76. Rabbit, Run: John Updike nope. Read a short story, possiby a book of them, and quite liked it. Also like title. So on the list.
  77. Ragtime: E.L. Doctorow not read, but I LOVE the name and the title. If-I-Can-Get-It list.
  78. The Recognitions: William Gaddis never heard of it
  79. Red Harvest: Dashiell Hammett He sounds familiar, but. nope.
  80. Revolutionary Road: Richard Yates Lemme make it through the movie awake first...
  81. The Sheltering Sky: Paul Bowles Nope.
  82. Slaughterhouse-Five: Kurt Vonnegut YESYESYES! Ah I ADORE this man, shall read Cat's Cradle as replacement.
  83. Snow Crash: Neal Stephenson no
  84. The Sot-Weed Factor: John Barth no
  85. The Sound and the Fury: William Faulkner o lordy, no!
  86. The Sportswriter: Richard Ford nope
  87. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold: John le Carre never read him, though my dad has em all. Shall stick in on the list for lighter reading.
  88. The Sun Also Rises: Ernest Hemingway Have read Farewell to arms, and the Old Man and the Sea. Toss it on the list.
  89. Their Eyes Were Watching God: Zora Neale Hurston Er...don't know how to react. Votes either way anyone?
  90. Things Fall Apart: Chinua Achebe Yes indeedy, and the other three in the series, plus other ones by him. Quite liked it.
  91. To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee Lovely lovely lovely, of course. I'm probably the only girl I know who didn't want to be Scout. Though I might name my next puppy that.
  92. To the Lighthouse: Virginia Woolf *brrrrr* no.
  93. Tropic of Cancer: Henry Miller nope
  94. Ubik: Philip K. Dick Been dying to read him, but am open to other recommendations by him.
  95. Under the Net: Iris Murdoch My parents had one of her books, The Sea The Sea, and it always seemed so strange and scary and yet boring. Waiting list.
  96. Under the Volcano: Malcolm Lowry Wikipedia leads me to think that's a yes. If I can find it.
  97. Watchmen: Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons Eeeeeep no. I've tried. And even seen and quite disliked the movie.
  98. White Noise: Don DeLillo Haven't read, putting on waiting list
  99. White Teeth: Zadie Smith *SHUDDERRRRRRRRRRRR* nevermore. I actually finished it cos The Roommate loved it so much. But. No. Never. Again.
  100. Wide Sargasso Sea: Jean Rhys Awwww read in college alongside Jane Eyre. In fact, fairly sure I did a seminar on it or something. Quite lovely.

Monday, January 25, 2010

In which we are bitten by the Zen

Yes, quite the oxymoron. It refers, however, to the new Zennity that has pervaded my life. I'm at a loss to explain how the switch flipped, but I simply can't be bothered to get upset about things anymore - quite the reversal from flipping out over every tiny thing.

Essentially, after a fraught month of not enjoying my time with BBot much because I was angry with him for being perpetually late (by a minimum of thirty minutes, which, added to my minimum of ten minutes early for everything, makes it forty), not answering the phone, stealing my laptop charger without telling me and making me feel like in his estimation whatever I was doing that might have been lost if the laptop crashed was worthless, or doing small but infinitely annoying things that matter to me, I took a deep breath one day and decided it just wasn't worth it. Granted, the annoyance can sometimes be very real, like missing the beginning of a movie, or leaving someone waiting for you all alone for an hour, but the solutions are simple - plan for the lateness! If the punctuality is that important, retain control of your travel arrangements. If the crisis is so bad, call your mum! Or the Dragon. Because you cannot control another person, nor can you control most events, which makes it far more important for relationships and blood pressure to just deal with what happens instead of ranting about how it should have been.

Now this seems to be sound relationship advice, and I must say it has had a wonderfully idyllifying effect on my relationship. I find, however, that it's also spilled over into other things!

There was a serious snafu with the key to my house, which meant that I was locked out on arrival and stranded without access to work clothes or work laptop, and the New Flatmate (NF) was off on a trip. I stood there and began to fume - what the fuck! I've told him a million times he should check to see the spare is outside before locking up! I also asked him a million times to get the key copied so the maid and I will BOTH have keys! After adjusting to his routine I was the one who'd have to find a locksmith, miss half a day of work, have the house broken into and a new lock put in, and deal with the building (my name's not on the lease) if they asked quesitons, and worse still, deal with the Horrid Brownnosing Boss (HBB).

But then, I suddenly took a deep breath and realised, I could get a loaner laptop, and I was planning to sleep at the parents anyway. I could go to work for this one day, and since the next day before the return of NF is a holiday, I'd be fine. So I didn't yell at NF on the phone, I did sleep well, I did have a relaxed morning, and here I am at work, type-typing away, with no tooth fragments in my mouth from the gnashing, and no stress migraine.

But the Rents were upset, telling me that

[a] it was irresponsible of me to not have copied the damn key myself (true, but then it is hard to do on a weekday with the schedule of store hours and my work timings; and weekends just vanish), and

[b] I was being a pushover and letting myself be taken advantage of AGAIN! (referring to their interpretation of the whole sordid OOF epsiode) since *I* am the rent-paying tenant and the maid is secondary to me!

I do see their point, and I wonder if I am being too Zen.

On the whole though, I think it's quite worth it ;)


Minor they might be, to the template. Book list updated - if you like the idea, tell me and hopefully I'll remember to update it more!
Am also hoping it reminds me to read. Heh.

Also added link to Photography website - please visit, leave me comments and PIMP IT! =D

Blogroll duly updated to feature the best of reader.

All this and more in the




Sunday, January 17, 2010

Unnerving question

"So, are you in love?" asked the sweet little Brazilian boy.

The boy was surfing our couch, and I had just muttered something about BBot, who was not there. The question took me aback. I stuttered and said I know I love him, but I hadn't really thought about it that way. Which led to the other disturbing question, "Are you happy?" More on that another time.

Once I began to think of it, I began to wonder: what does it mean to be "in love"? Can't stay away from each other? Call and text all the time? Can't keep hands off each other? Never fight? Physically joined together at all times? Nauseate everyone around you? Fight, but can't bear to not make up immediately? Have huge disagreements, of a fundamental nature, and cry and shout and snarl and positively dislike the other person, but be incapable of conceiving being apart or giving them up or finding someone else?