Thursday, December 27, 2012

Weverb12 #16 replicate [CREATE]

What were you inspired to create/make this year based on something else? (i.e. a pin from pinterest, recipe from a friend, etc.)

As always, when it comes to creating, for me it's food. I did not, actually, create anything very exciting this year. In 2011 I created a piña colada cake that I'm very proud of, and some other things too. This year my cooking has just been low key, so what I created would probably be MinCat's foolproof south Indian tasting, nutritionally balanced thingy.

It sprung from a trend that's been growing ever stronger this year--a craving for south Indian flavours. My main problem with making south Indian food is that it's heavily rice based, and also involves making three things at a time, which takes up so much time and so many vessels! And then I didn't have gas for four months, so I really couldn't cook full on meals. One day I was going to make one of my standard one-dish europeanish meals of lentil stew, when the craving overpowered me and I tipped two tablespoons of Puliogare mix into the cooker with the lentils and veggies. And holy mother of god! I HAD REACHED NIRVANA! Then I ate only that for a few weeks, before settling back into normal food again.

It's funny, this south Indian nationalism trend I've been having this year. I just like hanging out with Tamilians more--I connect faster with them. I want to eat dosai and idli every day. I'm always thinking of ways to make chutney. I don't want to cook anything north Indian anymore, not even MATAR PANEER! I occasionally make pasta or Spanish omelets, sometimes shakshuka, but that's it. It's all south Indian food. I wonder why.

Weverb12 #15 quote [GROW]

What inspirational quote would you associate with this past year for you?

Sadly, I don't do quotes. I have never been able to even put one up on my pinboard etc, like people do in offices. I can do funny quotes. I love funny quotes. Or beautiful ones. I keep changing my email signature to have a different quote when I find one. My two favourites from 2012 are:

"Great discoveries, whether of silk or of gravity, are always windfalls. They happen to people loafing under trees." --Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex)

"'You know how we make a Scotch and water in this home?'
'No, sir,' Gus said.
'We pour Scotch into a glass and then call to mind thoughts of water, and then we mix the actual Scotch with the abstracted idea of water.'"

--John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)

**Edit: The Bride helpfully pointed out that I do do quotes if I have them at the ends of emails, so I should clarify that I meant I don't do inspirational quotes.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Weverb12 #14 walk [LIVE]

Describe the path to a favorite place of yours to walk in 2012. What’s meaningful about the place or the journey?

(Cheap thrills, I have caught up with The Bride!)
(Dammit. She's got ahead of me. Sevres me right for being lazy.)

Okay I don't walk much anymore. C'est tragique but what to do. I have no reason to walk, no path to tread, nothing. Which has a lot to do with living in India, which is not a country that makes you feel good about urban walking. Even Delhi, which has pavements and trees and winter. I used to walk to the bus, till I got Tomatín, but that was barely a walk, since it involved dodging through corridors inside the complex and then walking down the road for two minutes.

I shall talk about my favourite places of 2012 instead. In no particular order.

My own balcony, especially in the winter. I used to sit here all morning on weekends, chatting with MW and listening to him on the radio. It's sunny, it's private, but it's also out in the world enough for me to hear people talking and get dive bombed by nervous birds.

The roof at work. It's only one floor up and where people go to take surreptitious calls, smoke, and sometimes drink after 6pm. It's criscrossed with a mad network of metal rails upon which sit out large collection of generators; there's are heaven knows how many a/cs ejaculating out there; there's a small tin-roofed shed with a collection of miscellaneous crap, and, most recently, a graveyard of perfectly good chairs that were replaced with posh ergonomic ones (interestingly enough, not in my department). It also has a transmission tower upon which perch flocks of kites, crows and pigeons, in that pecking (hee) order. In the monsoon you can see the clouds hanging low and grim over the lush green park downstairs. Then when the wind blows hard I worry that the tin roof is going to blow right off! In the summer you wince and try and find a tiny spot of shade. But in the winter! It gets sun all day, and there's nothing I like more than sitting there and reading manuscripts. Sometimes when works is really painful, like it has been recently, I take a book up there as a reward for sticking it out through a bad patch, and sun myself and read.

The faded red couch in MW's house. Though I haven't been there in ages, for a long time that couch to me was my safe hidey hole. I'd go over, park myself in my corner and just sort of retreat into safety. Conversation would ebb and flow--I could join or not--and I'd always go home feeling better about life.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weverb12 #13 associate [LISTEN]

What blog/book/article spoke to you the most in 2012?*

Okay, this is the perfect opportunity to open myself to a slew of outrage, but also talk about something I've been meaning to post about for a while.

Now I am a subscriber to the theory that the more recent something is more likely it's impact on you remains strong--that's why the end can ruin a movie or a book for example, so I'm going to say that when I think of books I've read I can only remember the ones I've read very recently. I know I read two Junot Diazes; I read Middlesex, which was utterly brilliant; I read Song of Achilles; I read truckloads of chicklitt that spoke to me, and even some non-fiction. But I don't really remember them actually speaking to me, saying Yo MinCat, ever thought about this?

The one book I read this year that actually did that to me and, mind you, I read it in May, was Fifty Shades of Grey. (Cue outrage.)

There was just something compelling about that book, much like Twilight, which might come from the fact of the subject matter being, once again, obsessive possessive love, and my never having felt it. I do think that with FSG however it was more than that. I definitely have my problems with both books on an intellectual level, but I also have problems with people who object to FSG on an intellectual level while refusing to engage with it on a emotional level or an instinctual level, because at the end of the day that's the level at which it is written. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'm fairly open about sex and sexuality, and am willing to try anything once, at least hypothetically. But BDSM is something that has always just freaked me out, even the thought of it. So when I read this book, it was with much skepticism, because really, BDSM? But then, suddenly, I found myself thinking WOAH this is HOT. Suddenly I found myself reading what was in the head of this girl who thought exactly the same way as me--what is wrong with a guy that he needs to debase me, abuse me, to get off? And then, once she gives in and likes it--what is wrong with ME that *I* am getting off on being debased and abused? And, by extension, I was thinking what is wrong with me that I'm turned on by this whole thing?

The book actually makes you stop and let go of prejudice for a minute and accept that sometimes you need to recalibrate 'normal' to understand yourself, and you really shouldn't be so hard on yourself. Of course the rest of the trilogy goes on to completely destroy this whole openminded thing cos after all, Christian is into BDSM cos he's been abused, cos it's not normal etc., which is just sad, because FSG is such a great gateway book. And it really did make me think a lot, about sexuality, about boundaries, about trust, about control, and all these thing in my own life. (Okay, I also had a crush on that incredibly in-charge man, who just takes over your life--I wouldn't mind one of those for a while!**)

Which brings me to, if a book can make you think about these things, how can you dismiss it out of hand just because it's 'a bad book'? I'm not for one second saying the writing is good--it's dreadfully cheesy; I swear I wanted to SHOOT THAT FUCKING INNER GODDESS! But many so-called good books have terrible writing too--they just err in the direction of being obscure. One notable example from this year is From the Ruins of Empire by Pankaj Mishra--impossible to read, but a fascinating subject.

It does all come down to what an individual wants from a book, and what the intelligentsia wants to think it can guide them to. It comes down to thinking that oh the poor dears, they don't know better, let us guide them. Who died and made you president? People read what they want. Yes, the reason the Fifty Shades trilogy (and the Bared to You trilogy) does so well is mainly because people want socially sanctioned porn. Yes the writing is execrable--but it's pornographic Twilight fan fiction! Twilight itself is hardly well written. And, in defence of FSG, Anastasia has way more balls than Bella! She stands up for herself; she wants a life beyond Christian and she demands it. She doesn't jump off cliffs so she can hallucinate hearing his voice. Sheesh.

Yes, it makes me sad that Amish Tripathi sells the way he does in India, but, on the bright side, it means people are reading. It means some day people may read a Sidin Vadakut instead of a Chetan Bhagat and slowly, step by step they might come to the point where they are reading Amitav Ghosh. But this ladder itself is built from my own preferences--why must they read Ghosh at all? I myself spend an inordinate amount of time NOT reading literary fiction--I even dismiss the genre derisively most of the time. So if I can read what I myself call trash, why do I shake my head and tut tut when other people want to read it? This obsessive need to pass judgement on what is and isn't acceptable is very scary sometimes.

Okay now I will stop because this is turning into rant on publishing, which really merits its own post.

*Is it just me or is there some repetition happening here?
**That's a whole other post on feminism and my own life...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Weverb12 #12 toss [GROW]

2012 was the last time for ________________

Things like this terrify me. It feels like, if I say it is the last time for something, then the universe will come and taunt me by making it happen again.

I'd like to say it's the last time for immensely painful and unexplained abandonment--but I said that about 2011 too.

I'd like to say it's the last time for unrequited love, but c'mon who are we kidding?

The last time for DoorMinCat? I hope so.

The last time for unhealthy lifestyle? I doubt it.

No, I can't come up with a thing. Which is sad in some way because it makes me wonder, does that mean I'm clinging to everything?

Weverb12 #11 spend/save [LIVE]

Are you richer or poorer this year, compared to last year?

Ooo this one is a toughie again. I am richer, in that my pay went up dramatically mid year when I was promoted, and in that my financial manager (a.k.a. Bank of Appa) is always fiddling with my savings and making them bigger. I'm also not really spending my savings each month anymore, so yay!

However, I haven't started saving again, like I used to when I made decent amounts of money. I have also started spending up to what I make, instead of even saving a little bit. And my rent, ah my rent, has become huge.

I'm richer in corny ways though--I have found some family here; I know myself better; I got a cat.

Weverb12 #10 lose [HOPE]

Did you have to say goodbye to a person, or even a cherished object, this year? Take a moment to celebrate the memory.

This year I have not lost anyone to death, thankfully. Last year I lost one of my best friends to what I don't know, but that pain is still here to stab me once in a while. I haven't lost any cherished objects either, so I guess it hasn't been that bad a day eh? I did lose another friend though, once again inexplicably.

He wasn't someone I'd known for a long time. He swept into my life off the internet, and he was just the right person I needed to meet then. I could say ANYTHING to him, and we talked about the strangest stuff. HE opened my eyes to many things, and was definitely instrumental in my coming to terms with myself and understanding several things about myself. He also introduced me to MW, and though he himself is remote and essentially robotic, did make an effort to understand my need to emotionally respond to things.

We had a vacancy and he was perfect, so I coaxed him into applying for the job. They loved him; he got it; and now he's in love with it. It was SO AWESOME in the beginning, having him here. He moved into Delhi from Gurgaon--interestingly I found him his house indirectly, and then he asked me to help him set it up and teach him to cook. We spent a month where I was in his house almost every alternate day. And how we talked.

I was in the middle of the dip of my double-dip depression, and though it made no sense to him, he took a lot of trouble to try and understand it. (He was prone to saying annoying stuff like, but you have no REASON to be sad! Snap out of it! Be happy! But everyone does that.) There was a car ride after a day spent at MW's, when I'd been super quiet and they'd put up little bits to cheer me up and coax me out of it, but it didn't work and suddenly on the way back the tears came. I drove most of the way back from Gurgaon with tears running down my face. And when we got to his place, he turned around, reached over and wiped them off my cheek, saying 'Don't cry. Please.' It was the sweetest thing he'd ever done, and generally pretty sweet for a robotic boys, or even boys in general. Yes, he was a dear friend.

And then I went to Colombia. He was one of two friends who tried to call and say happy birthday, but didn't get through. But we emailed. And then I came back, and things were different. They have only gone downhill since. I tried to ask him if something had happened to make him withdraw so dramatically, if everything was okay, but he only evaded my attempts. And then I decided that it was time to give up—I couldn’t keep being the doormat being all friendly with someone who was making it more than clear they didn’t see me as a friend anymore. But, like the Dragon, I have no idea why. I’m sure I’ll get over it, but that will always nag me.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Weverb12 #9 triumph [CREATE]

How were you challenged by a project or goal this year? What did you learn from it?

Oooh my. This is a toughie.

I think this year I had the same project I've had every year for the past ten or so--lose weight. AndI really really REALLY sucked at it. That's not to say I'm usually good at it, but if I can find zumba, or dance class, this combined with cooking keeps me fairly decent. But it has been a year of so much sadness, apathy, despair--I spent it eating comfort food, drinking copious amounts of whiskey, and needing a pep talk to toss back the sheet in the morning. I even think sometimes that I have given up--champa has won this war.

I was challenged by my own lack of motivation, some of which comes from  mindfucks, some from laziness and some from the fact that I worked so damn hard to accept my body--I'll be damned if I reject it now. But mostly, my big obstacle was my misery (I'm trying not to use the D word here), my loneliness and neediness, all of which just made me give up hope so comprehensively that I just did nothing--I was most positive when I was sunk in apathy.

I regret to say that I have not won against this challenge. I have reached a point where the very thought of going up against it has me whimpering in terror and sucking up potato chips through an IV. And I have learnt this year that no matter how much you want to do something, sometimes you just can't. You can try all you want; you can seek every for of motivation that exists; you can psych yourself and other people can coax, nag, cajole, bribe, threaten to withhold sex--but sometimes you just can't do anything about it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Weverb12 #8 respond [LISTEN]

Do you actively listen to your inner voice/conscience? Describe a time this year you heard and responded to it.

A-HA! This is interesting. As I said over on her post, my inner voice essentially boils down to The Bride. Much like her, I tend to have a constant conversation/debate going on, and the actual times I end up ignoring an instinct or inner voice are the ones where I'm telling myself to calm down and wait and see the other side, walk a mile in the other person's shoes, etc, before I do or say things. This is a consequence of Doormat Disease, which I have manifested horrifically this year.

However, the past month has seen me definitely breaking out of the cycle, to the consternation and discomfort of many males in my life who are used to DoorMinCat as it were. And one instance where I actually did listen to a voice of overwhelming hurt and outrage and actually articulated it, I felt so much better, and it turned out to be super good for that particular relationship. So hurrah!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Weverb12 #7 enliven [GROW]

Was there a book or article that inspired you to make a change in your life this year? What was the source and what did you change?

I'm so boring.
Or is that lazy?
Though, there has been enough on The Good Men Project and in various other places on relationships, feminism and polyamory that have made me tweak many things about my ways of thinking. Also Savage Love.

Weverb12 #6 cook [LIVE]

What was your best recipe/dish of the year? Share it!

Oh YAY! This one really is the one that hooked me on the challenge. So, though my food blog is essentially dead--more because I never get around to taking pictures or quantifying recipes, which leads to being lazy about posting--I have been cooking a LOT. I have invented recipes and adapted recipes, found a new favourite chocolate cake and, my biggest achievement in the kitchen, become a good maker of south Indian food. In fact, with the copious demands from the Poo and Kutti, I am toying with calling myself the Idlimaker of Alaknanda. Hee. So without further ado, I present to you the idli/dosai and chutney.

For the idli/dosai maavu:
1 cup white urad
1 cup boiled rice/idli rava (if you don't have, use normal rice)
little less than 1 cup raw rice
1/4 cup/handful yellow moong
1 tbsp methi seeds

Soak for 6-8 hours at least the urad in lots of water in one bowl, and the rest in lots of water in another one. Now grind them in a mixie that has steel jars, as follows. Use as little water as possible at the beginning. The urad happens in one shot, and the rice in two. You will have to stick figners in there and feel the texture. The urad is done when it's super smooth and gooey. In fact if you can keep the water to a minimum you will find it won't stick to the sides of the micie or to a spoon, and that you can use for vadai. It is even more important that the rice be ground dry as much as possible first, because once there's water in it, it won't become a paste very easily. This part of the maavu can be s little grainy--no problem. Mix the two up in a large bowl--the mixture shouldn't come to much more than half the bowl. Cover and leave in a warm place overnight to ferment. This can be tricky in the summer cos it'll get really sour, and in the winter, cos it won't rise. For the former, try and keep an eye on it and for the latter, if you have an oven, turn it on for 5 minutes at lowest setting, turn it off and bung the maavu in. Another thing that works for me is to keep it in the sun, but that involves being there to keep an eye on it. Salt to taste after fermentation.

To make idlis, keep it thick--just about pourable. For dosais, you need more water, definitely pouring consistency. This is sadly one place where you have to experiment and find your mojo.

For the green chutney of death:
Half a medium coconut, grated or chopped small
About the same amount of pottu kadalai (This is basically roasted chana dal, so you can actually just roast some chana dal with a little oil at home as a substitute)
One bunch of coriander leaves
2-3 green chillies, de-seeded (this is actually up to you, make it as hot as you like, or not)
A small piece of tamarind, say the area of the top segment of your index finger (see what I mean about quantifying?)
Half a small onion
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
2-3 dried red chillies
10-12 Curry leaves
a pinch of asafoetida (hing/peringayam) (well a shake, cos it comes in those little bottles here)
Salt to taste

If the coconut is chopped not grated, whizz it in the mixie till it looks grated. Add the kadalai and whizz till they are nicely ground up. No water just yet! Toss in everything up to the onion and whizz some more. Now you can add water in small amounts till the chutney is as chutneyfied as you like it. (I like it smooth, Amma likes it chunky.) Now heat the oil in a really small pan, or, if you have it, a tadka pan. When it's hot, toss in mustard. When the seeds start to pop, toss in urad. Once it starts to brown, toss in chillies and hing. Once chillies are looking cooked, and before anything burns, toss in the curry leaves and add the tadka to the chutney. Voila!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Weverb12 #5 fellowship [HOPE]

What community has engaged you most this year and what did it you get out of your participation?

I don't think there has been a community that engaged me at all this year, in fact the biggest hole in my life this year been the lack of community. There was briefly the community of MW CB and their friends, but that didn't last very long. There was the community of people I work with, but that petered out too. I guess the closest thing to community I have engaged with this year has been Spanish people! My Flamenca and her friends have been open and welcoming and as a result, my Spanish has improved, I have a dinner party group and I go to endless concerts and have much fun.

The Bride, when she visited said to me that I have this ability to collect people. I don't know if this is an ability or a disability myself, but I will say this--at the end of 2012, I know I have six dear friends I see on a fairly regular basis, and nearly all of them can be mixed about in various conversations. This thought gives me great comfort, even if, on a night like last night, the closest I can in conscience get to any of them is on the phone. But Kutti will be back soon, and I can always take Lithium up on his offer to drive all the way over cos I need company.

In sum, I guess the community that engaged me the most this year is the one I left behind in Hyderabad in 2010, and the ghostly one I've been hoping will grow to comfort me for that loss.

Weverb12 #4 experiment [GROW]

What did you do in 2012 that you had never done before? Will you do it again?

I did many things this year that I'd never done before--only some of them are SFW hee.

I made a list of things I wanted to do before I turned thirty, and of course haven't done most of it. But notably, I DID go to Colombia, and it was just such an amazing experience that I definitely want to do it again.

In February, I went to the Andamans, and ended up snorkelling. I fell in LOVE with it. I am DEFINITELY doing that again, and maybe even making it to scuba this year.

I worked on a book literally from the moment of the idea seeding, till the day we signed it and it officially became my book. (I'm still working on it.) That was AWESOME! I can't begin to describe the bubbling of sheer delight that happens every time I turn my thoughts to that causal conversation: 'So, MW, have you ever written anything?' And there it all began. I mean it had moments of trauma and whatnot, but I definitely think that the single best thing I've done before I turned thirty-one will have been that book. And I might just have found something akin to career and purpose.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Weverb12 #3 stay [LISTEN]

How did you stay in the moment this year?

Hmm. My friends and well-wisher will tell you that if there is something I'm very bad at, it is living in the now and here. Staying in the moment is something I am not really capable of without tremendous conscious effort. I am either expecting the past to repeat itself or projecting the wondrous different future. So I guess, the only way I stayed in the moment this year was by taking deep breaths and shouting in my head: NO. NO! ENJOY THIS NOW! DO NOT LOOK AHEAD OR BEHIND. NOWNOWNOW!

And ingesting copious amounts of alcohol.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Weverb12 #2 watch [LIVE]

What movie did you see this year that you would recommend to a friend?

See, now I'm just beginning to think this entire thingummy is against me.  For starters, I don't watch a lot of movies. the ones I do, I do just for me--because they have Katherine Heigl, Farhan Akhtar or Will Ferrell in them, because they are animated, because they're the new James Bond, or Amit Trivedi has scored the music. What I want from a movie is also very me specific. I'm very hard and very soft on movies at the same time: I am more than happy to suspend disbelief, but you better make me end the film feeling hopeful and happy. (Now does that list up there of the kinds of movies I watch make sense?)

Now this makes me very reluctant to recommend movies to people. Mostly people recoil in horror and say you want me to watch WHAT??? I also generally hide my movie-watching in the furtive space of Saturday mornings on my couch, or solo 10am shows in theatres. (Yeah, I love watching movies alone!) Of course, I also can't really remember what movies I actually watched this year...Vicky Donor comes to mind, as does The Avengers.

I think it would have to be The Avengers. (Don't gloat Lithium.) It's a super movie--very funny, no small thanks to RDJ, much eye candy, again no small thanks to RDJ, and despite the sadness and the bad things that happen, it ends well. Though it should have been called Iron Man 3 feat. The Hulk. I'd say go see it, simply because it will make you laugh, it might make you cry, it will make you holler at the screen and walk around for days after spewing bits of dialogue and chuckling to yourself. And I always think there's nothing to be lost in believing in superheroes...even in thy mother's drapes.

Weverb12 #1 compose [CREATE]

Everyone's doing it! So I shall leap upon the bandwagon with gay abandon. Let's see how many I will do. Heh.

So here's the first one, and quite the impossiblest one for me.

Write a haiku for 2012 (bonus: write one for 2013)

I am many things, but creative is not one of them. I used to write poetry, especially of the sad and depressed variety, back in college when I was deeply impressed by the Shelleyan sonnet and that other fellow, Sidney something...Sir Philip Sidney? But I have only written one haiku in my life, and it was cowritten with Scoo, on the subject of our dog Haiku and her nightly howling.

Anyway, here is my highly self-indulgent attempt.

Old battles hard fought
Routed demons buried deep
The dead rise again

Friday, November 16, 2012

Things that go bump in the dark

There is, in my life at the moment, a boy who we shall call Boytoy, partly because he could fit that definition, but mostly cos it'll piss him off when he sees it. Boytoy is, as the name implies, younger than me, and he is also, as the name implies, sleeping with me. Things being how they are, I am, at the moment, one of his harem, while he is all of mine. The reason he is not merely a boytoy is because the role he plays is more like that of friend, cuddler, midnight-panic-callee, things-around-the-house-fixer, driver-of-mother-to-the-airport and general all-round knight in shining armour. I also sometimes call him my fake boyfriend, because he kind of fulfils the role but actually is not. This is all a bit too line-blurry, but I am ignoring that because hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The reactions to his presence in my life have been varied. Some people say yay good for you. Some people say no! You're blocking out the possibility of a real boyfriend! Some people say you're going to get horribly hurt because you're going to fall for him (he was in this camp at the beginning). Honestly, I don't know. To the first I say thank you, to the second, but at least I have something--I'm tired of having nothing, and to the third, well no one ever escaped emotional pain by planning to avoid it now did they?

The funny thing is, while I DO love him very much, and I can't imagine my life without him, I also know that I will never want to be with him. We are fundamentally very different in ways that would destroy a relationship, but don't matter here. Which makes him a safe bet in many ways. Now, I know and understand all of this, but, of course, the rational-emotional disconnect means that I do sometimes get hurt, even though the hurt seems to be more my reacting to him than him doing anything, except on one memorable occasion. 

The other day I was thinking about why, whenever he talks to me about one of the other women in his life, especially when he says things like I want to date her, my instant reaction is one of extreme hurt and dismay, and all I can think is, but why won't you date ME? I don't want to date him, but I need him to want to date me? That's not fair. But why does it happen? I can't possibly be such a dog in the manger. 

The first explanation that came up in my head was that his not wanting to date me is simply a confirmation that I'm not good enough, which is of course the deep root of all my issues--I'm not good enough for ANYONE to want to be with me. And it's true, it does feed that particular monster, because, clearly, knowing me and being attracted to me and enjoying my company and all that still doesn't add up to wanting to be with me. But then it struck me--it doesn't add up for me either. I mean, I know him, I love his company  we're clearly compatible, and I still don't want to be with him. There must BE an X-factor. What is it? I'm damned if I know! All I know is I've only ever come close to getting it once in my life, and maybe I threw it away. Maybe I did something great for both of us--only time will tell.

Then, today, it occurred to me that, as my life is right now, I don't really have the resources to 'put myself out there' (and by resources I don't mean money in case anyone was wondering). I simply don't have the energy or optimism left to meet new people and believe in them, to nurture new relationships and maybe someday have someone else I can call with a midnight panic attack, or lie in bed and cuddle on a Sunday afternoon. I don't even have the slightest inclination to go find hookups--I want to stay right here in my cocoon thank you very much. And on some fundamental level I have given up on the couples life, on the whole let us build a life together. I've built a life on my own and it's actually pretty fucking amazing. It's not the life I wanted for myself, but it has fabulous things that the life I wanted would never have had. But it also means that I can't be irrevocably sure that I will have certain things that are small but contribute hugely to my own wellbeing. And at this point, I get them from Boytoy. And if he then embarks on a real relationship, all his protestations that things won't change aside, I will have to learn to live without them again. 

And that is something that just makes me gibber.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


The other day, I came into work and my boss, who has this endearing and sometimes (to other people, cos I love it) habit of randomly starting conversations as she walks in by addressing a general question to the floor, asked us: 'Could you be friends with someone who supported the BJP?'

Both she and another senior colleague proceeded to discuss how they couldn't imagine it, and the very support of the BJP made them both shrink in horror from someone, simply because of the communal import of the BJP. But when I thought about it, I realized that there are so many people who think the BJP stands for other things, or that the other things it stands for outweigh the drama of the militant Hindu politics it also espouses. I know many people who believe the Modi style of governance means better and faster development for the country, and the nastiness of his religious politics is balanced by the genuine improvement in quality of life that he brings.

With the US elections on and twitter exhorting Indians to worry about Modi, I began to think about it. Normally hilarious Sidin had this up on the subject of voting in the next elections and man it really hit home. What can I do? Yes I want to participate in the democracy. Yes, I have loudly told people, if you didn't vote then you gave up your right to comment on the government. But I think, as the day creeps closer, that I might just have to face the fact that my only choice will be to withdraw from participation. Because what can I do?

I remember, in 2004, I voted independent, because I refused to vote for the BJP or for Sonia Gandhi. Thrilled by Manmohan's appointment, I vociferously argued with BJP supporters in the 2009 elections, and happily voted Congress, while entertaining all the people who stood in line with Amma and me for an hour. And when UPA2 came back better than ever, I thought YES!!! SHOW THEM!!! This country is not about privileged urban residents who the newschannels tap. It's not about rich businessmen who don't pay taxes. The country votes right. When they're pissed off, they kick the government out, and when they are happy, the keep them around. Because the Congress did help the majority of India, voiceless, faceless, power, health and sanitationless rural India. And now they were back stronger than ever, and they wouldn't need to kowtow to ridiculous coalition demands.

And then they gave Mamata Banerjee the Railways.
And then they proceeded to freeze themselves into a ridiculous farcical tableau of ineffectiveness, for no fathomable reason. Whenever they reacted, it was too late. Scam after scam has surfaced, and they seem to stand there and whimper. And let us not speak of the abomination that is Anna Hazare. This does not mean that other governments have not been corrupt--I think it is a tragic reality of Indian politics (that might owe its origins to several thing and someday I might write a thesis about that) that all governments are and will be corrupt. And the so-called aam admi, who bribes to get out of challans and uses black money and evades taxes cannot stand in judgement of this. It is horrible and sad and it should change, but until it does can we please try and continue to function?

Of course the Opposition has hardly been stellar. The BJP has it's strengths; possibly even ideas that can dramatically alter the nation, but as long as our Parliamentary system operates on a I-lost-so-I-will-shout-and-sulk-and-throw-tantrums-so-you-will-fail policy, we're screwed. This will happen regardless of who is in power, and therefore nothing will ever happen.

I am reaching a level of disgust with our democracy that amazes me, since I have always been such a supporter of it. And I genuinely don't know what I will do come next year when I have to vote.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Things I love about my life Part 1: My flat

I have always had this thing about playing house. Seriously. The hours of thought and worry that would go into decorating my room, choosing bedsheets, etc as a kid simply astound me now. When in hostel, I really wanted one of those embroidered wall hangings. But then I realized they were too expensive. I was sad, until I had a brainwave--I would buy the affordable cushion covers, stick them to chart paper and voila! I think one of those is still hanging somewhere in my parents' house (a.k.a. The place everything I own eventually ends up).

It's no surprise then that when I moved out on my own I was thrilled to bits about setting up house. The first time I did it in New York, I inherited lots of furniture, and had a very kind aunt who bought my these gorgeous red glass plates (I still dream about them). It's the only time in my life I have ever owned wine glasses. No, wait, I own a pair of very delicate pale blue ginormous balloon glasses that I'm terrified to use and are--yup, you guessed it--in my parents' house. Anyway, those wine glasses were mismatched and weird, but I had em! Now people come to my house and sniff at the fact that everything I give them will be given in white plastic glasses. Nice ones haan, but nonetheless. What can I say, yars of experience! We had gorgeous blue glasses in college, and they all died. And there were my Spanish cow glasses in Hyderabad--yup all gone now too. So Dragon and I bought twelve white plastic glasses, which were divided up in the divorce, so I have six. This annoyed Lithium so much that he went and bought me a set of whiskey glasses. Aw.

Wait, where was I?
Yes, moving out.
So then I came back after my first semester, for Appa's 60th birthday, and while I was here I went to Fab India, did some converting to dollars and went NUTS. I schlepped it all back to NY and then had to go to IKEA to get curtain rods, and then flirt with the maintenance guy to have em put up. Eventually though, I had my gorgeous curtains and I lived very happily until the day I had to pack and realized they wouldn't fit. I called my friends and, nearly sobbing, said, raid the house. Whatever you like that's Indian, take it. It makes me happy though to think that bits of my NY life live on.

Then I moved back, and set up house with Mungi. We went MAD. We bought a steel pressure cooker (still using it baybeh) and Amma spluttered, BUT WHY DO YOU NEED ONE IN STEEL??? We waited and waited and bough the most perfect cane dining table to fit in our tiny living-cum-dining room, and the perfect squishy, fabric covered sofa-cum-bed. We didn't really buy much else. When our house broke up, I just bought her out, and then when OOF moved out, BBot and Disco Dancer took the couch while my parents found room for the dining table.

When I moved to Delhi, I didn't bring too much. Except a carton of mugs and glasses. Yeah, I have this thing for mugs. Especially interesting ones or sentimental ones. There's the half of the pair Mungi bought when we moved in. There's the ones The Scientist got me from Our Name is Mud before I left. There's the St. Stephen's one and the NYU one. There are the ones various friends and juniors have given me over the years in college. Then there are my Mexican glass glasses, and my Pier 1 martini glasses, and the aforementioned wineglasses. I brought some--some remain at home for morning chai when I'm visiting. But that's all I brought of all my house stuff. And my life since I moved here has been SO shaky and unstable that I was terrified (not to mention too poor) to acquire anything. (Expect, yup, mugs. Especially cos work has the most GORGEOUS merchandise!)

The flat that The Dragon and I had was pretty great. It was big and airy and fairly well connected, with lots of light. Except my bedroom. Which had no windows. And except that we couldn't ever keep our windows open or lounge on the balcony because it was right on the first floor over the main Munirka village road, which meant it was constantly reverberating with dust and noise. And yes, because of the mill downstairs, this went on all night. I'm not complaining though, we had a gigantic kitchen WITH A FAN and tons of furniture Dragon's parents donated, and I was very happy until you know the shit hit the fan.

So then I moved again. I was desperate, with my budget and terror of living alone, because I couldn't find a decent place that had light and air and a reasonable person and was located in  nice area. Suddenly and miraculously I found my current place, and the Psycho showed no symptoms at the time, so I moved in. I put my lamps in the living room. The horror. She moved them into hidden corners. I put my vase on the sideboard. I found it inside my room when I came home. I got it. It was HER house and I was a visitor. Never mind that her decor consisted of shiny plastic streamers hanging from a cord across the wall, and a scattering of what appeared to be stuffed dead sparrows that gave me and everyone regular heart attacks. The sheets were vaguely coloured with wild floral patterns and mismatched. The piles of cushions were not for using because I was sternly adjured to PUT THEM BACK HOW THEY WERE if I ever used them. The dining table was 'rustic' and badly painted and had an uneven surface and was too high. I could go on.

And then she moved out. After some serious panic about what I was going to do, my parents stepped in and did their thing and I calmed down. Then I realised I had to acquire furniture for a large two-bedroom DDA flat. And a fridge. And a gas connection. (We shall never speak of that gas connection again. KILL KILL KILL.) I totted it all up and figured it would just be cheaper for the parents to send me some of my stuff theyw ere storing than to buy everything again, especially since I was fairly sure I wasn't going to be moving out of Delhi anytime soon. And so it came about that my dining table came back to me, and my father's bachelor bed that used to be in our balcony came with it, along with random furniture and crockery and a motley crew of table linen that my parents saw fit to send. In fact my mother even threw in an open and half used roll of cling wrap. Yes, seriously. Then I ran about for a while and acquired curtains and chik and so on.

And now, finally, my house looks the way it should.

Mind you, it's a royal pain in my ass. The plumbing regularly airlocks between 7 and 730 a.m. so while there's water when I get up, the minute I put on the geyser to shower bam, byebye. Sometimes I can fix it, sometimes, like today, I have to give up and call the plumber when I get home. Half the windows don't open or don't close or their panes threaten to fall out. The drains are all badly closed and I did have a rat for a while. There's no lift. If I come home after ten, I don't know where or if I'll get parking. The water comes between 6 and 7 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m.. Far from perfect.

But I love it not just because of my sense of ownership. It has a huge airy balcony. The giant living room has a wall of windows looking out onto said balcony. The dining room has wall to wall windows too, and now they have curtains and chik they are great in the summer too. It's on the second floor so It doesn't get too hot, and it gets much sun so it doesn't get too cool. It's roomy. There can be three people there and each feel like they have personal space and privacy. It's big enough for me to have big parties, and my neighbours are sweethearts (touch wood) who don't object to large groups of people nattering on the balcony late at night, or beer in disposable glasses crashing into their gardens. It really has become a proper house.

Well, okay there is an empty bedroom in which repose the litterbox, the food bowls, a carton and miscellaneous cushion and cloth entities for GJams. I don't have nearly enough shelf space for anything, forget about books. And my balcony is a wreck. But it is still the most home I have ever had in many ways, and so completely my own that I find that I am SO comfortable living on my own after all that I don't know what I'm going to do in June when the lease runs out...

Friday, October 26, 2012

In which I thought of an awesome title but forgot it

EDIT: this was begun some days ago, so the timelines might get wonky halfway through.

Yesterday, when I was having the perfect Sunday evening involving me and a friend curled up on the couch watching a movie with G-Jams stalking about and then finding a spot where he could be in contact with both of us to settle down and watch for a bit before falling asleep, I had a click moment--which is how I define the moment when you actually realize something you've been building up to for a while. The while here was about a year, and the what was, of course, boys and girls and relationships and expectations.

So, in Up in the Air, which is the movie we were watching, there is a point where Natalie (Anna Kendrick, the young woman) has just been dumped by text message. She and Alex (delectable Vera Farmiga) talk about men and what they want from the men they hope to date. Gods bless teh interwebs cos I googled and the whole transcript turned up!

Natalie: I thought I'd be engaged by now. I thought by 23, I'd be married, maybe have a kid, corner office by day, entertaining at night. I was supposed to be driving a Grand Cherokee by now.  
Alex: Well, life can underwhelm you that way.  
Natalie: Where did you think you'd be by now?  
Alex: It doesn't work that way. At a certain point, you stop with the deadlines. It can be a little counter-productive.  
Natalie: I don't want to say anything that is anti-feminist. I really appreciate everything that your generation did for me.  
Alex: It was our pleasure.  
Natalie: Sometimes it feels like, no matter how much success I have, it's not gonna matter until I find the right guy. I could have made it work. He really fit the bill, you know. White collar, 6'1, college grad, loves dogs, likes funny movies, brown hair, kind eyes, works in finance but is outdoorsy. I always imagined he'd have a single syllable name like Matt or John or Dave. In a perfect world, he drives a 4-Runner and the only thing he loves more than me is his golden lab. And a nice smile. What about you?  
Alex: You know, honestly by the time you're 34, all the physical requirements just go out the window. You secretly pray that he'll be taller than you, not an asshole would be nice. Just someone who enjoys my company, comes from a good family. You don't think about that when you're younger. Someone who wants kids. Healthy enough to play with his kids. Please let him earn more money than I do, you might not understand that now but believe me, you will one day. Otherwise that's a recipe for disaster. And hopefully, some hair on his head. I mean, that's not even a deal breaker these days. A nice smile. Yeah, a nice smile just might do it.  
Natalie: Wow. That was depressing.I should just start dating women  
Alex: Tried it.We're no picnic either
So apart from the all kinds of awesome of delivery and deadpan wisecracks, I found myself nodding frantically at everything Alex said. "You secretly hope that he'll be taller than you, not an asshole would be nice." "Healthy enough to play with his kids." "Please let him earn more money than I do." (This is not really an issue for me with my income!)

Of course this made me think back to all the man ideas I have built in my life. I remember in high school a then dear friend and I made lists, involving 6 feet tall and green eyes that we then exchanged and promised to show up at each other's weddings to check off the checklist. Then one went off to college and whatnot and realized one was falling in love with bizarre boys, like OOF, who were most nondescript on paper and had nothing to do with the men one dreamed of. So I recalibrated. I went for things like, has to get how my brain works in this weird way--ref the monkey ballet, which I never finished sorry. Reads books, likes the same music, is, you know, 'cool'. Well time passed and that went out the window. BSW was balding, the next guy barely spoke English and was hardly cultured, though a lovely man--but in his case I wasn't in love with him so maybe he doesn't count. All sorts and shapes and sized came and went in my life.

Then we came to BBot. He GOT me. Like I GOT him. Like no one ever had for either of us--though in my case my family did GET me like that. He was not 'hot', but I had never been worried about that--the first things to go from the list were indeed 6ft tall and green eyes =D But that brain. So intelligent. SO. FUCKING. INTELLIGENT. I was in love with his brain. Everything about him gave my brain a hard-on. And he was funny. So funny. All the time with him was great. But you know, emotionally, it didn't work. We didn't communicate the same way; our insecurities fed off each other. He didn't need me enough.

Then there was the Architect. Who needed me so much I distinctly remember at one point thinking OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD GET IT OFF MY ARM and having to resist the urge to flail the arm he was clinging to to dislodge him. So then I recalibrated again. Intelligent and curious, I said. Someone who isn't intimidated by my brain and could also handle how social I am.

And now, I'll settle for someone who's interested.

I find myself giving my friends and cousins aged 24-28 advice that goes like this: Take a long hard look at him and make up your mind because now is the time it can happen. You won't meet the perfect guy. Some people might, but they're exceptions. And if you are so set on the perfect match, goals, tastes, families, expectations, etc--you might find yourself waiting forever. So prepare for that. Otherwise one morning you'll wake up like me, thirty and with a vast desert of no-hopers your only way forward.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mind your language

No, this isn't a Grammar Nazi's response to this.

So, I am active on Couchsurfing. I love the site, and I've really met some amazing people through it. I've also had lots of fun from it. Since I started hosting in Delhi, I've met and hung out with about four or five fun people and hosted three Colombian guys, one of whom integrated so well into my life I was tempted to keep him. forEVAR. The next surfer I expect to host is Chinese.

Now, with my profile, I usually get requests from southern Europeans and Latin Americans. So I was surprised to see this Chinese guy write, but he seemed normal and once he figured out his dates I said ok, I'll host you. He asked me if I have Whatsapp so we could keep in touch, and then began to text me. It's actually super convenient when people have it because then no international texts or calls are necessary. Anyway, we chatted desultorily about what he was expecting to do, etc. I was impressed by his English, he was surprised I know where canton is, and so on.

Then last night, he texted to say: I am preparing some gifts for you. do you have some special likes?
It is actually quite normal I have discovered, for surfers to get their hosts a present. It's a very sweet gesture but I don't really expect it and it embarrasses me mildly. So I said no, you don't have to. He said no, I want to. I said okay, I like fans and I LOVE green jasmine tea. He said: Sure. i will bring that for you. I said: Awww. Thank you. And then things began to get a little creepy.

Him: feeling excited to meet me?
Me (slightly disturbed): Haha it should be fun :)
Him: did you meet any Chinese guy before?
Me (alarm bells begin to ring): Nope
Him: now you have the chance
Me (completely nonplussed at this point): Haha
Him: I could accompany you for drinks haha
Me (freaked out): Well that depends. Okay, I gotta go.

So here's the thing. With SuperSurfer, that's exactly what we did. We lay around my house drinking desultorily and having insane conversations. I consumed an impressive amount of alcohol with him. But there was no creepy. With the other two guys also I went drinking. Going drinking is my usual proposition! Sometimes I take them to Flamenca's concerts. So what he proposed wasn't unnatural in the least. Why did it ring all my alarm bells?

I was talking to (of course) The Bride about it this morning and I realized that maybe it has something to do with language. As someone with a highly developed sense and use of language, I tend to associate certain traits with various levels of facility with language. I try and consciously not do that, and make an effort with people to bridge language gaps, but undeniably, sharing a language just elevates the experience. Of all the Spanish speakers I know, only the truly bilingual SuperSurfer managed to connect with my friends the way the rest connect with me. So when someone who does not the ease I expect from a certain kind of interaction, I am a little reserved. The kicker here, though, is that he sounds EXACTLY like an I-want-to-make-fraandship type. And that's just plain scary.

Again, I wonder if it's really fair even to those types. I mean, the Hag used to date this Spanish professor friend of mine and when they broke up she said that it was because it was impossible to have a conversation with him beyond a point because it was hard to take someone seriously when they sound autistic in your language. to which I replied, but he has no problem with language! We talk all the time! (See where this is going?) And she fixed me with a stare and said drily, yes, you two talk in Spanish. So maybe the IWMF types are superbly intellectual and articulate in their own languages but sound like douches in English?

When I think of Flamenca too, who is such an insanely mad person that most of the mad friends should love her, they can barely relate to her because they won't make the effort needed to bridge that gap, and she's trapped with her personality all piebald and peeling in this language that is not hers. And mind you, she's a tour guide so her English is decent. It's just not as good as her Spanish. And, again, as I often find with Spanish, it's frustrating to keep trying to articulate something when you are accustomed to seamless articulation in your own language and you keep having to use not the best word and you just know you could SAY IT BETTER. So I'd say you definitely don't shine at your best in a foreign language (even if it is one of the eighteen official languages of your country...).

But then how much does this actually end up colouring things? Should I just slam the door closed and say bye bye to Chinese guy? That's what I'd do to okc guys or random desi guys I meet who are like that. Or to Latinos I've met who are like that in Spanish--by which I meant giving me creepy vibes, like the desk clerk at Tayrona who wouldn't let go of my hand and said oh hod how can your boyfriend allow someone as beautiful as you to leave his sight, and Indian women are so sensual and so on. Or should I give the guy a chance--it's only one night and I can release the killer G-Jams on him. Do you think that if he is essentially creepy it will come through regardless of language, while interesting or not might not?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Well, I was wrong

And I sit here, fighting for control, trying to gulp air and chanting my mantra manically.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

In which I am an international woman of mystery (and crepe bandage)

The night after the concert was the night the Spanish embassy threw it's annual yay we are Spanish party. Flamenca, her husband and I  decided to go, though slightly weak from the previous night's festivities. All my plans of getting all dress UP were trashed because all I could wear were my very grotty turquoise blue Old Navy canvas shoes, since they fit over the crepe bandage. Yup, that sprain wasn't nearly ad unimportant as I thought it was. So I put on some linen pants and random black top, and minimal makeup and giant earrings and off we went. Flamenca was also not feeling like dressing up, so she was in jeans and a top, and her husband was in a nice fab India shirt and jeans.

All these sartorial choices were questioned when we got there and saw the long line of people waiting to get in all in suits and ties and dresses and high heels and saris. Feeling rather shabby we joined the line and realized that it was there because of some name checking that was happening. Now, we had been reliably informed that normally all you had to do was turn up with your passport/national ID, and you and your 'accompanying person' would get it. But this year, for some reason, they went all batshit security mad, and everyone had to be on a list and have an email or a card, etc. We also realized that by 'accompanying person' they meant partner. Flamenca promptly declared that I was her husband's wife and we twiddled our thumbs as we inched closer and closer to the woman in ill-fitting sari who was checking. Flamenca told her that we were on the list but hadn't received the email. She, obviously, didn't find us on the list, and then directed us to talk to another woman, who was in a rather better fitting lehenga choli. We milled about waiting for her to see us, and then someone else we know came up and said I don't have email either. At which point we decided to just walk in. And we did!

As we rounded the corner (the embassy is in this EXQUISITE brit era house like the one that my friend Chica used to live in cos his dad was in the IFS) and ran smack into another line. Wondering what this was, we shuffled along making desultory conversation, with the Spaniards exclaiming that this was excessive and embarrassing  I was asked if I was Colombian. Actually I was asked this often that night and I always said yes =D But then I had to say no, cos you know lies and all. Anyway, it turned out that the line was to shake hands with the ambassador, his wife and two more men. It was hilarious.

Eventually released into the huge garden, we fell like wolves upon the Spanish wine and the bits of tortilla, which I was eventually informed were for TASTING ONLY. The wine was exquisite, as always, but the food was terrible. It was mediocre Punjabi food. Ugh.

We knew a lot of people at that party, so we flitted about saying hello and whatnot. I ran into an old professor, who has not changed a bit--I shall say no more to be diplomatic. But the main problem with that party was that it was too damn European! Seriously. All stiff-necked and snooty. Eventually we created a sidebar next to the pool (!!), with Flamenca and Mr Flamenca, their bassist and his wife, me, and a couple that Flamenca inadvertently set up by making them dance at a concert. The Syrian bassist, who looks for some reason like he's from the secret police, would walk to the bar and say give us a bottle of red and they'd just meekly hand it over. At one point we started getting them in twos! This miniparty was, of course, much fun, with all us hippies having random conversations such as the use of the subjunctive in English etc. That one was sparked by the bassist asking me how long I'd been in India. If I had a dollar...

At one point, the DJ started to play Señorita. And it is hysterical the way nearly half the party just surged onto the dance floor and began to boogie like mad doing fake flamenco. Really. I couldn't dance for laughing. Then they played chammak challo, which sparked even more hysteria. Then they switched to Spanish music.

The rest of the details of that night escape me, but there were some really bizarre highlights. Flamenca is doing some work with a couple of businessmen, one in his late forties and one in his late sixties. She calls the latter Mick Jagger because she says he's very youthful in this unnerving way. I dismissed her out of hand, saying there's no way a sixty-year-old could be hot. And then I met him. Holy Mary mother of Jesus! It is just wrong that a man his age should be that attractive. It didn't help that he was all superbly dressed and horrible chivalrous and flirty.

Then there is this particular gay man who used to be very thick with us, but got bitchier and bitchier and we decided to ignore him. He was there, and then very drunkenly wanted to bond with both of us. At the end of the night, he was standing at the table with Flamenca, me and the businessmen, and he began to tell us how he wanted to get home really fast because HE WAS GOING TO HAVE SEX WITH HIS HUSBAND! 'MY HUSBAND HAS SUCH A HUGE COCK AND I LOVE HAVING SEX WITH HIM BIM BAM BOOM!' We were in shock. Then he said 'MY HUSBAND HAS GIANT BALLS FILLED WITH SEMEN.' This was too much for us and we had to run away and giggle frantically.

And then there was the mad auto ride at 2am, all the way back here and the frantic devouring of dosias made form idle batter before collapsing in bed, to wake up the next morning and make strange cat videos with G-Jams. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Could I be flakier?

I shan't even claim to promise to try and be good about posting, not even to myself. It's embarrassing now.

MinCat now has her very own Kitteh! His name is G-Jams, short for Greebo Jameson, since I am, after all, Nanny Ogg, and I do, most certainly, love Jamesons. He is nearly 8 weeks old, and quite the firecracker! I think he's going to be a vocal cat. *bangs head on desk* He's incredibly loud for something as tiny as he is, and like to express his love by leaping upon exposed flesh, canines and claws at the ready. *wince* But he purrs a lot, and is warm and soft and fuzzy and he loves me. And I love him.

In other news, I went shoe shopping for the first time since April 2011, when I went to DSW in Union Square to buy a pair of boots. I've been hearing about how Shahpur Jat is awesome and all so I finally dragged my lazy ass there and bought a lovely pair of comfortable wedge heels. And then promptly wore them to concert last night, where I was official photographer for band frontlined by my beloved Flamenca (flamenco-singing Spanish friend), and in a moment of excitement re-entering the restaurant from the balcony, didn't see a tiny step and promptly fell over and sprained my ankle. Sigh. Lithium, who was present with a harem in tow, was most solicitous and, when I stood up and apologized to the woman whose hair I'd pulled in a desperate attempt to hold onto something, muttering, 'I didn't see that damn step', he proceeded to walk me down the stairs to the stage chanting step, step, step at every step. Smartypants. *mutters darkly*

When Flamenca and I were chattering away eagerly as we returned from the shops, a bald guy in hipster glasses who was blowing his nose uttered an emphatic 'Españolas!' to us, and we, two ridiculously gregarious people (Flamenca having just befriended someone who works across from me in the three minutes it took me to come down the stairs), were so lost in our conversation that we chorused 'sí' and returned to dissecting the character of whatever unfortunate soul was the subject of our conversation. A twinge of guilt made me look back and I saw him standing there, in a sea of motley traffic, his forlorn eyes framed by his hipster glasses, still blowing his nose.

The thing is, I am always collecting people. In fact, the Bride, when she was here last week with the express purpose of making it the best week of 2012, told me that that's what I do--collect people. By which she said she means that wherever I go, I manage to find interesting people. I think her visit came at a time of planetary alignment, because when I look back at the last two years I cannot believe I have good friends in Delhi. But then, I realized I do. And I also realize that putting people together is what I love.

Disco Dancer used to protest feebly, especially since he espouses the silo method of friend having--each group is each group and they CAN NEVER MIX OR THE WORLD WILL END--but I have always thrown motley collections of people together and ignored them while they sorted themselves out. And they usually do. Being hypergregarious I also know lots of people and a little bit about each of them--enough to say oh you both studied physics! or oh you both go hiking! or oh you both hate football! Which is really all one needs to start things. The cramp in my style this past year has been CB and MW and their ridiculously judgemental reactions to people. Whatever happens in the first five minutes will set the tone for ever. I'm always trying to explain that they lose out on really amazing people by refusing to consider revising first opinions--forget about revising, they will refuse to even meet someone who hasn't made a favourable first impression. And since they were my main friends and I was snivelling pathetic mess, I lived in terror of not having them around, and thus tamped down on that side of me. Then again, it's very easy to blame someone--I was depressed and lonely, so maybe that's all it was. Either way, I now have G-Jams!

The other things that make me giggle when I think of last night were the following. Flamenca has an Indian Spanish-speaking tour guide friend who is from Jaipur and dark and rajputly handsome. Like really my kinda hot, though I'm not entirely convinced by the gold earrings. Anyway, we have met once and he was apparently struck by me, and has been asking for a re-meeting. So he was there last night, and his eyes lit up when he saw me, and once they noticed the cut of my dress he began to address my chest. Lol. To his credit, it is an arresting sight when on display, and he managed to regain control in ten minutes or so. But then he began to hit on me. Which is nice, only why can't desi boys be subtle? He stroked my arm and said, 'Your skin is so soft.' I simply did not know what to say. What CAN you say to that? I made a joke about sweating so much and ran away.

Flamenca also has a Spanish friend, whom we shall call Spanish Builder, who she set me up with a couple of weeks ago. It certainly went well, only he never replied to my text saying I got home, and didn't call me when back from business trip as promised. He was also there last night, and after the concert was done we were standing about chatting and I asked him about his trip, and he said yeah it was all right. And then he said, I got your message but I was half drunk, half hungover and trying to get my flight and it was all so confused...I'm sorry I didn't reply. I laughed and said, no it's fine. (This is where I should have said that's all very well but why didn't you call EH?) And then he said, 'But I had such a lovely time.' Again, something very sweet--but what am I supposed to say to it? Two weeks later? If you had such a lovely time, pick up the phone and call me and we can do it again! It didn't help that Lithium was trying to be wingman and winking broadly and giving me a thumbs up from across the bar. *eyeroll*

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Don't Buy the Cow if You Ain't Tried the Milk

So I was having a chat with a another friend int he same boat as me: over thirty, single and giving up hope of meeting a single over-thirty guy who isn't single for a good reason.* She has found one, and of course he has his issues--wildly insecure etc, etc. They've been dating two months, and she tells me, woefully, that the sex is And you know what I thought? I though to myself, hooo boy, there's the best reason ever to not be coy and 'wait for the xth date'.

I get a lot of flak for my whole go-with-the-flow approach to sex and dating--if I had a dollar for every time someone has sternly told me 'MinCat, if you want to make this work, you have to NOT SLEEP WITH HIM. TILL THE 5TH DATE!' (Or whateverth date.) I'd have enough money to visit the Light of my Life every year. Apparently, if you sleep with a guy fast, he doesn't respect you. He is no longer interested in getting to know you. You won't have a chance to get him to emotionally bond with you before you give him what is, of course, his ultimate goal, and then he'll leave cos he has it. Or he won't value this precious gift you've given him.

No, really.
All this might hold true for when you're twenty-five, or sleeping with a twenty-five-year-old, but really, I've found they have very little bearing on things at the point I'm at.

For starters, I have, by this time, had enough sex to know I like it, it's important, and it's highly unlikely I'll be happy in a relationship that involves mediocre sex. This might have something to do with having been single so long and in the market, playing that field etc, etc, but whatever the cause, it is a fact. Yes I will dump someone if the sex is bad. So I'd much rather know right off, instead of waiting till *I* am emotionally bonded with the guy and won't be able to walk away.

Second, since sex is so much fun, if you go one one date with someone boring, you can still get away from the experience with some good sex under your belt, as it were. And, believe me, when you get to where I am, you go on a lot of first dates with boring guys. And since you don't have a nice steady partner squirelled away, it's nice to get laid once in a while.

Third, if this guy is a child enough to think that all you're good for is sex, how exactly is withholding it going to do anything more reinforce a really stupid power equation? Because yes, I do think that using sex to manipulate someone, or as a weapon, is a terrible thing. It's one thing to not be able to engage with a partner sexually because you have problems, but to actually say yes I'd like to but I won't until you do what I want is really fucked up. (har har, see what I did there?)

Fourth, sex is not some precious gift that I will only bestow on the knight who deserves it. That's rubbish. Are you telling me that women don't enjoy sex? That we only do it cos men like it and that's how we hold them in thrall? All I gotta say is, honey, if that's your life, go find some other man to sleep with--you've got a lemon. Women can, do and should enjoy sex. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being like that, and there is nothing wrong with having sex with a guy because you enjoy it and you want to, right now, even though it's only the second date.

Fifth, men are not sex-craving automatons! Plenty of men want relationships--okay, maybe not at thirty, but then those guys often want friendship with sex on the side, cuddling, dinner, etc. Men also want women in their lives they can have sex with but can also go have dinner with. It's complete bullshit to stick them in that hole where all they want is sex. Of course, there are guys who do disrespect a woman for putting out, or really do only want one thing, but look at it this way, at least you're not emotionally invested when he walks away! (See #1 above.) Would you want to be with that kind of guy in the first place? Take the sex and leave!

All this aside, I do really think that we seem obsessed with playing this dating game by some severely twisted rules. We spend hours pretending to feel what we don't, and then are upset when people don't get how we really feel. We put tons of effort into going after what we don't want, because it's not kosher to want what we want. There's so much shit going on and it simply complicates life so much that it can so easily ruin one of the best things life has to offer--sex! So, yeah, Don't tie yourself into knots about the number of hours you have spent in socially-dictated acceptable situation with someone. If you want to jump him, jump him. Just use condoms.

*Really, they all are. Some have been screwed over by some girl and can't get past it. Some have mommy issues. Some don't want commitment. Some are just strange. Some are super picky. None of these is good or bad, they just are. 

On Dan Savage this morning:
Yes, Dan, thereare still plenty of straight guys out there who are put off by women who go "too fast," and oral sex on the first date is typically perceived as too fast. It's part of a misogynist mind-set, IMHO, that says women who are too sexually assertive are not "relationship material." Or maybe it's some ancient male fear of the insatiable nympho who will drain his male power by overwhelming him sexually. Or, more generously, maybe these men think going too fast just speaks to poor judgment (although straight men rarely apply that logic to themselves). Whatever the cause, I've experienced it myself, and I found the solution to be to date more sex-positive feminist men who take responsibility for their half of the pacing. I've found that feminist men actually appreciate women who are sexually assertive, while many non-feminist men are happy to accept the attentions of sexually assertive women while at the same time harboring contempt for us.

Friday, September 14, 2012

In the Immortal Words of Mick Jagger...

For someone who has only heard about three songs by the Rolling Stones, and has always thought Mr J is repulsive rather than attractive, it is rather ironic that he has become my guru. Well, maybe not my guru so much as his song has become my mantra.

Because, you see, you CAN'T always get what you want.

So the thing is, you know how people always walk around under the belief that, while bad things happen, they don't happen to me? It may not be a conscious belief--in fact it rarely is--but on some level, while we know bad things do happen, we think we will escape, even if they happen to the ones we love the most. 'There but for the grace of God...'

A corollary of this seems to be the equally strong belief that we get what we want, as long as we are patient or proactive, depending on the school of thought. 

But very little observation will quickly reveal that neither of these is true! People often get shafted by the universe, and very many kind and deserving people just never get what they want. Sometimes you get something else and realize it is, also in the immortal words of Mr J, it's what you need. Sometimes you realize you didn't really want it after all, whether you get it or not. But enough times, you want it and you don't get it, no matter what you do. 

And yet, somehow, we seem incapable of actually accepting this fact. 

Someone has to be in that group. Maybe one of those someones is me. And before there is a chorus of of course nots, let me say that this is not an emotional melodramatic statement. It's just a statement. And just as we will never know we won't get what we want, we never know we will either. The problem only comes in when our belief is pushing us in the direction of thinking yes it will happen, because then we are always in a state of pre-excitement, which just means we get disappointed too much. And then, when we think we won't get it, we are in a state of pre-disappointment, and that's really hard to deal with too. The important thing I guess is to just accept that sometimes people just don't get what they deserve. Accepting that I think has really helped me turn the corner on the horror of the past six months. I might actually be emerging from the hole for reals this time ladies and gents--two weeks meltdown free...touch wood =)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Yeh Sheher Meri Jaan

I was in college when the Euphoria sensation hit. I had moved to Delhi for the first time, and I was in love. It had more to do with college than anything else, because Delhi was horrible to women back then (believe me worse than it is now). They had this one song on the album Dhoom, that later was co-opted into the Commonwealth Games I think, and it went like this:

Yeh sheher meri jaan
Iska naam hai meri peehechaan
Dilli hai meri jaan

(this city is my life, it's name is my identity, delhi is my life)

I loved that song, not just because it was nice, but because I FELT IT. Never in my life had I felt like I fitted with people my age who weren't related to me. Never had I felt like I belonged, like I was happy.(The next time I was to feel like that was with New York, and then again, in 2009, with Hyderabad.) So the song became like an anthem for me.This is largely why, when I decided it was time to move, that I decided on Delhi.

Lots of shit went down in the three years I was in college, with the worst of it hitting bang in the middle of my final exams for the second year. One of my most vivid memories of third year, when I was living in a different place is of going back home for our housewarming in August, about a month after college started that year. I had landed back in Delhi the previous night; my uncle had had me picked up and I'd spent the night in their house. I was going to leave for college in the morning, and my parents called. And I stood in the pantry, on the phone, sobbing my heart out, because there was at that point nothing I wanted to do less than be back in Delhi.

This weekend I went home after eight months. I hadn't realized how long it had been until I thought about it, and it struck me. And I was deliriously happy to be home, to see my bewdas. I went on my first ever road trip, and had a truckload of fun. I lounged about in my ebony recliner in the verandah and read manuscripts. I demanded various foods for various meals and feasted on them. I could have burst with well-being, and I was so ready to come back and tackle all the shit that I have to tackle in Delhi.

I was worried how I'd deal with leaving, but then I ran into a dear friend at the airport and we flew together, which was lovely. I cried a bit when we took off, because on some visceral level I felt like I was leaving safety behind (yes, I have realized I don't feel safe in Delhi, I don't feel like anyone would notice much or care unless something dramatic happened to me, that there's no one to take the wheel once in a while and steer this exceedingly convoluted course*). But I was expecting this and it passed and I proceeded to yak and giggle and generally have a good flight. But then, once the pilot announced we were beginning our descent, this WEIGHT began to descend. I swear to God, I have been breaking out in hives. And I found myself nearly gibbering with the need to TURN THE PLANE AROUND AND GO BACK HOME.

And then I got home to find more shit to deal with and I wanted nothing more than to just curl up in bed and cry for my mommy, an impulse I admirably resisted. But it made me flash back to nearly exactly ten years ago. And it made me think about how, perhaps, the way there is just this constant insidious resistance to my settling down in Delhi, maybe it means I should just leave. Maybe it means that in a year I should talk to my boss and ask if I can be moved back to south India somewhere, where I can run home on weekends and find the strength to hold myself together.

*This is not true of course, I do have friends here, Glare and Lithium, and they do most certainly care, and would most certainly help me with the little things if I asked for it. But is it justified to make someone disrupt their life and commute large distances just because you're sick of trying to get your gas and stove up and running, and every morning you find one more small yet vital thing that needs to be fixed or dealt with, and you're totally capable of dealing with it, but you're just so fucking tired and it's been like this for three months?

Monday, July 30, 2012


Soledad in Spanish is a lovely word, because it encompasses solitude and loneliness. I've always felt that the relationship between the two is most interesting.

Last afternoon, I drove 25km to MW's house, because I haven't seen him in ages and I was hoping to man up and have a chat with him. He was writing, and I was curled up on a sofa, reading this book, for about three hours. At that point, another friend dropped in and we had a quiet chat, which eventually got MW out of his writing frenzy and he joined in. After friend left, MW went back to work, but also began to talk and then we spent the next couple of hours sporadically talking and sitting about quietly. Then he looked up from his laptop and said: 'I hope you didn't get bored.'
I laughed and said, no of course not. 'Why are you treating me like a guest?'
No, he replied, I just don't understand how you could come all the way here and sit and read a book. I'd never do that--I'd stay home and read it!

Which is when I had to explain to him that sitting in companiable silence with another person, each of us doing our own thing, is exactly what is missing in my life. Amma always found it bizarre that Dragon and I would travel vast distances to sit in the same room and read different books. But to me that is the epitome of not being alone. It means that your life is settled enough that you don't need to be in the frenzied active active  space of social interaction. It reminds me hours spent in a friends house in Hyderabad on weekends, reading a book while everyone watched TV or slept. It reminds me of family vacations where everyone takes communal naps. It symbolises the happiest safest least critical or judgemental place there is.

Which brings me to how funny it is how different people are in their interpretations of solitude and loneliness.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Just Keep Swimming

So new and improved post-trip mid-fog MinCat is trying to make some changes.

Don't be such a doormat.
Well, today I tried. There was an incident with MW recently that upset me a lot. In true DoormaCat style I didn't say anything much about it, not even along the lines of my own much vaunted must-articulate-for-acknowledgement theory of making peace with life and people. It wasn't a really big deal, and a lot of my own hurt was a result of the fog, but I needed much prodding from The Bride and Glare to say anything at all--mainly because ever since the Dragon I've been terrified people will always walk away. I did eventually talk about it, but not really in a serious stand up for myself way, or what you did really hurt me way, but I did manage to actually say it upset me when the upsetness was not the point of the conversation.

Do something about the weight
SERIOUSLY!!! Not doing too well with that so far...but tomorrow (hopefully) it all begins.

This one I've been doing okay with. I am (of course) trying to write a book, and to revive the blog, which is why this rather pointless I-brushed-my-teeth-this-morning kind of post. Here's hoping some discipline will come in.

Bring back the mojo
Which has already been accomplished, whether because of rain, hormones, alcohol or my dear friend I have not seen in ages, around whom surreal things happen I don't know.

Find an interest outside of work
I'm hoping to work on an unusual project, which will also get me some moolah so yay to that. If it doesn't come through I'll go back to dancing or something. One of my friends, whom we shall refer to as Mentor, told me that my problem was that all I do is work, talk about work, think about work, and then hang out with people. He does have a point. But the question is, what? Photography has officially died. Dancing requires a partner and spending money I don't have. I could try and volunteer teach or something. Hmmm...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Rational-Emotional Disconnect

You know how sometimes someone does something that hurts you (like a friend who you haven't seen in a month comes to your birthday party and then wants to leave soon after, and isn't particularly nice to you, and then calls you about making a plan to do something nice for someone else's birthday) but then you know, rationally, that it's not a big deal (being nice is not their thing, it's not actually your birthday, and said person has warned you several time that they are thoughtless, and you know they are in a tantrum mood and therefore what to expect from them). At this point, you are upset. But you also know that saying something will get you branded as irrational.

Then there's this scenario, where someone does something that irritates or annoys you intensely (your parents are stressing out about someone you're seeing), and while you know they mean it for the best (you have had a series of bad relationships, said person is insolvent or from a vastly different background). Again, you are upset, and again you know that people will keep throwing logic at you.

I was thinking about this once, well okay I was thinking about how often I am upset but I can't get past it because I can't do or say anything because I am a rational person, an 'adult' and I like to think I can and do behave in a rational manner. This often leaves me feeling very frustrated. So, when Dragon picked BBot, I had this whole thing where I was choking in misery, and when I was talking to Disco Dancer about it he really upset me because he insisted on saying, well, she is an adult, she made a choice, you can't dictate how long it takes someone to attach to someone, or blame them for who they choose. Which were all very valid points, point, moreover, that I kept making to myself. Then why did it make me cry?

It occurred to me that everyone operates on two parallel levels--the rational level and the emotional level. As we get older we tend to start privielging the rational level over the emotional one (to wit, you can't stamp your foot and demand that you be important to someone--you are or you're not. But it still hurts like the BLAZES.). So then we discard, nay ignore, the emotional response, because the rational one is the one that will give us the right behaviour in the end.

The problem is, there has to be a balance, and unless the rational and emotional level are both acknowledged and dealt with, you can't really get past the hurt completely--you become harder, cynical, whatever. And, while it is true that most of the time the rational level is right, this does not mean that the emotional response doesn't exist. (We tend to flagellate ourselves for even having an emotional response usually.) So when you're dating, and a person behaves a certain way, you beat yourself up saying, see? You KNEW they'be a jerk. Then why did you have to be stupid and get attached? Now deal with this shit and move on.

I call this the Rational Emotional Disconnect, and it is the single most debilitating problem I have with all the things I do in my life. Until I can align the two levels and their responses I find that I simply can't get past things that happen to me.

For the longest time I thought the RED was only one way--you have an emotional response and you suppress it. But then it struck me, that often, once you're in a relationship with someone, you start to privilege the emotional over the rational. If you love me you should know better. You know, some days it's not that your partner doesn't love you, it's that they're having a shitty day, or they're tired, or stressed, or you didn't communicate your upsetness. So the rational response has to be heard too before anything can be done.

I've started to try and do this thing now where, when I'm upset, I sit down and think it all through, all the emotional stuff and the rational stuff. I say it to myself, or to a friend (read, The Bride), and then, once I've exorcised the reaction as it were, I can stand back and figure out which was what response and which one is the better one to use in this situation. And let's not assume the rational one is always best--sometimes an emotional response is what the other person needs from you--but then we all train ourselves to deny emotional responses so much that we can't bring them out, which then makes the other person feel bad and suppress theirs and the endless cycle of people are so cold begins.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Like Lau Love

So, while discussing Mr Darcy*, MinCat's latest I-think-I'm-in-love-with-him, with The Bride, I came up with this theory of love. It all began when I went to an event involving a friend I have had one very unexpected and positively delightful drunken encounter with--an encounter never referred to again, which is a bit sad.

Now, despite the strong feelings I have for Mr Darcy, I am never quite sure what they are. Sometimes I look at him and it reduces me to that post. Sometimes I want to smack him. Sometimes I think that he is so different from me, it could never work, and yet this is exactly what I love about him--we are complementary. Sometimes I think it is not that I want him, but I want to be the kind of girl that a guy like him wants. The only thing I know about him is that he makes absolutely no sense to me: I can never tell if he's serious or not, if he means what he's saying or is messing with me, and this drives me nuts--making me sometimes want him and sometimes hate him. Is it the mystery that I want to solve, not the guy I want to be with? Etc.

In all the conversations I have with The Bride on the subject of Mr Darcy, I refer to my feelings for him as the lau feelings, right from when I first realised I was in denial of said feelings. (They are the bane of my life at the moment.) Anyway, cut to said event, where I found myself finding excuses to fondly and adoringly pat that friend, and stand close to him, and sniff him. All the body language of flirting was present and accounted for. And I found that I was feeling decidedly more warm and dewy eyed than I ever do around Mr Darcy. Which made me think that I can't possibly be in love with Mr Darcy then, because when I'm in love, I don't get warm melty pit of the stomach feelings for other guys.

I proudly announced this to The Bride this morning, saying that it can't be love, it must be lau, and she promptly asked me if there was a difference between lau and love anyway? And that's when I realised that I have a beautifully graded and (then) badly articulated theory of liking and love. It goes like this: (take me by the tongue and I'll know

It all begins with like. (This works for any relationship by the way; it's my overall theory of love.) You meet someone, and you find a spark. Something about them. Sometimes it's mental chemistry, sometimes it's physical, sometimes it's a joke, or a shared interest, sometimes it's boredom--there is something. You explore it and you are surprised and happy because there is a spark. You meet again/spend more time together, and you realise it's more than a spark; it's a connection. Yay! The more time you spend together, the more connected you feel. Super! You find out things about them you like, and things you don't. As time goes by, you like them more and more, and the things you don't like fade away--they're totally worth tolerating because they come with the good stuff.

That's when you reach the extrapolation point. This is the point at which you realise that things are so awesome. You start to think, wow this is like fifty percent of this person and it's such a great connection! What would it be like if it were seventy percent? Or eighty? Or even a hundred? Then you begin to extrapolate what this person is like, what you and this person together would be like, how your relationship might be. You are now officially at the lau stage. This is where you introduce the friend as soul sibling, cosmically connected, most amazing person you know, brother from another mother, etc. This is where you think, I'm falling for this person. This could actually be it. This could be the person it all works with!

Time passes. You get to know them more. You find out more and more and like what you find out less and less. The joy of the connection starts the wear off and the annoying things come back to niggle. And then you reach the tipping point. One of several things happens:
1. You realise that the person, or the relationship, doesn't match the extrapolation, and you don't like it. So it doesn't turn into love, and fades back to like.
2. You realise the person matches the extrapolation, but your projection of what you wanted was not right, and you don't want this, so it fades back to like.
3. You realise the annoying things annoy you way more than the liking, and it changes to dislike or indifference.
4. You realise that the extrapolation doesn't match, but you like what you're getting anyway and it turns into love.
5. You realise that the extrapolation does match, and it turns into love.

 So the difference is essentially that lau is more like infatuation, and can turn into love, but not always. And once it has turned into love, it can turn back into like or even move to dislike. However, I think three things are important here:
1. The longer you are in love, the harder it is for it to switch without a catastrophic changing event (kinda like the law of conservation of momentum). Eventually you reach a place where it doesn't matter what turns up, you love the person. The kind of love can change. With BBot, for example, it went from sexual-romantic love to platonic love, but I still love him deeply.
2. The speed of conversion is often proportional to the time knowing each other, but, especially in the like to lau to love part, the time doesn't necessarily have any bearing of how fast the conversion occurs.
3. (This one is especially for me) Until you accept you love someone, it remains lau. So, until I consciously accept I love someone, it can't be love as love should be, and will not be able to give me all I want from love. Even if I really love Mr Darcy, at this point it won't have the positive effects that love would normally have on me, because I am unwilling or unable to accept it and embrace it consciously.

Phew, that turned into a bhashan!

 *This is how that nickname came about:
Me: to be honest i think the most annoying and attractive thing about is that he makes absolutely no sense to me
The Bride: does he stand next to bookcases looking aloof?
Me: hhahahahaha YES!!!! thats it he has a new nickname mr darcy
TB: hehe sounds dangerous you know how my mr. darcy story ended
Me: hahahahahaha well i dont think i would object to mr darcy calling me love of his life and proposing marriage
im just saying
but thats it exactly
he infuriates me with his aloofness and his distance and his non neediness goddammit
TB: haha
me: and his goddamn intelligence and his ability to use it
and his bloody fucking interest in things he doesnt know
and his curiosity
and worst of all his appreciation of these things in me
the intelligence and curiosity
iiiiii got it baaaaaad