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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January is badass

Yeah, yeah, I know ... long time. Happy New Year and all that too.

I suppose I should have recounted Things That Mattered and Events of Importance in the Last Decade and maybe made some sort of resolution(s) but the truth is, I couldn't be bothered. I was living it up you see, which should say all there is to say on the matters above. Although I suppose if I had to say something, this would be it ... allowing for minor differences in our lives, that is. I still say though, like my heroine Anne did, "It's much nicer to think pleasant thoughts and keep them to yourself."

There is a squirrel. Not a real squirrel, mind you. A squirrel on a page, prominently displayed, visible at all times. A little red squirrel with a great bushy tail and spiky tufts behind the ears, surrounded by snow and standing in an attitude of duelling in a snowball fight to the death.

Squirrel had to be named. I have a tendency to think of creatures as 'he' by default. And so came the suggestions. Thor would be apt, or rather ... comically apt. Various Gods of Snow were called upon.

But then, the squirrel started to look more like a she. The sort of she who would go around generally being terrifying and calling people 'punk'. A bit like Thalia in Percy Jackson's tales.

And she was named January.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Dear Ma,

You know how sometimes you think I don't make enough effort to cook and eat?

So yesterday, I thought I'd make that mint rice thingy for dinner and headed grocery shopping. But they'd run out of Coriander. 'No biggie' I figured and thought I'd make pasta instead (no, not quite the phodni-pasta. I'm looking at you, Catty. And you, Celestialrays). But they were out of Mozarella. And coriander, still.

So then I figured, what the heck, I'll make that corn upma you make sometimes. Nice and filling and I can bring it to lunch as well if I make enough. Plus, I could have the corn frozen for use later. But they had no corn.

Still not quite giving up, I thought I'd try my luck at the store nearer home. They didn't have this stuff either. Especially the corn. They ALWAYS have corn. How can they not have corn?! But they didn't. I could see the nicely lettered sign there but the shelf was empty. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Ptooey.

This was the point at which I gave up* and bought a preservatives-and-bad-stuf-rich pizza and headed home.

So you see, 'The universe is conspiring against me' isn't really a lame excuse for not cooking.

I'm just saying.

* I was too tired from all that gallivanting to think of another quick recipe.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Social fail

On the best of days, FB has the tendency to annoy me.

Zadie Smith's critique of the movie/site/phenomenon in general sums up my fears/loathing rather perfectly. Which then begs the question, why am I still on it? The people I really want to speak to/really want to speak to me, know how to get in touch. So why am I still there, trying to be as inconspicuous and private as I can while the world around me opens up and spills details that are really silly, wholly private or some combination of the two? It isn't entirely that of course. There are those people who make good use of the platform and once in a while, you discover things that are good. But we're talking one crystal pure drop of sense in a vast ocean of murky idiocy here. And no, it doesn't make being there worth it. I'm there because it's the sensible thing to do. I'm on there because being there means the unknown becomes that teeny bit known, less danger of being caught unawares deer-in-the-headlights-fashion. Sure, this sounds like this thing is something really sinister and I'm simply waiting for it to jump out and bite me. But you may blame my cautiousness on my Capricornian traits. Thank you.

My problem on something that isn't the best of days is just how gauche this whole thing has become. How regular social norms can easily be ignored because, hey, this is such a fantastic mix of the virtual and the real. For example, the way people 'add' you. Say it's someone you've bumped into in recent times, it's probably okay to assume they'd remember you and therefore add them.* But if it's someone you haven't seen in a while, do you simply assume they'd remember you, because, oh, you've got these many common friends and so it's okay? What's wrong with sending a little note saying hello, introducing yourself or something? In the real world, this'd be the equivalent of going up to someone after years and without any niceties, standing next to them and pretending to the whole world that you know each other very well.

 Let's not even go into how most often none of these people will deign to leave so much as a 'hello, how're you?' after having added you. So, why exactly are you adding me, again? Presumably you want to gawk at my photos and the posts on my wall and arrive at some wholly insubstantial conclusion of my life which will make you feel very smug for about two seconds till you forget my existence. Until the next time my mug pops up in your feed and then it's time for a rinse and repeat. And what if one of you has proceeded to block the other person fro viewing the things that make up their life on FB? Doesn't the exercise prove futile then? It's just another notch on the post of your friends list and honestly, does anyone care how many people there are on this list anymore?

I get the point. A lot of people want to 'stay in touch. Just in case.' ... does it really ever get to that though?

Talking of social graces, is it suddenly okay for people to simply pretend nothing ever happened when they've been the cause of much pain earlier? Someone who bullied you in school simply adding you up seemingly having forgotten what havoc they wreaked then? Or is it some form of 'growing up' where you forgive and forget and not hold grudges? If this was a real reunion there'd be fireworks. A scene perhaps. But it still wouldn't be perfectly hunky-dory if the former bully simply walked up to you and started talking as if you'd been friends all along. I'm not sure about this actually. Sometimes these things work out. You discover this brute isn't such a brute anymore, they apologise (maybe) and you part cordially thence, if not as friends.

It's just, with the spread of the social phenomenon that is FB, there are more and more grey areas to navigate now than there were before. Sure, some generation ahead will have it all figured out ... but in the mean time, there are those who have to routinely deal with the PITAs that these grey areas are.

 I do have one positive thing to say about FB though. It makes for a fantastic Halloween costume!

* Which brings me to another point. Why is it that a lot of people seem to think it's okay to add you up because they have met you ONCE. Immediately after they meet you that too. For all you know, that's the only time you will meet them. Where then is the point of this 'relationship' where you see the occasional update, blandly wish them on their birthday, wedding, anniversary, birth of a child and maybe leave the occasional message that goes 'hey, wassup, how're you?' which is then responded to with a blander 'good, nothing much. you?'

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shake Me, Break Me

Dude, what's WITH all the limp handshakes?!

I'm going to go on a sexist tangent here in saying I don't seem to meet women with strong, confident handshakes. And it bugs me to no end! What's this, some hangover from Patriarchy-decree days, women are not really supposed to shake hands but merely grasp an offered hand limply and demurely?

Here's the funny thing. Most of these women are the strong-minded, independent, smart variety ... and it puzzles me to no end why they'd compromise on a thing like a handshake. Especially when they know the connotation. Allow me to point out that I have also met men who have limp handshakes.

I've had a firm grip sorta handshake right since I was old enough to know what you could say with a handshake. It's been remarked on numerous times. 'Gosh, you've got a really firm grip!'. Always the tone of surprise. And almost always from men. One chap had a grip that could break rocks and he turned around to tell me he thought mine was really firm, as if he couldn't quite believe it ... while I was trying to surreptitiously stretch my fingers and stop them throbbing.

Why shouldn't I? Hell, why shouldn't anyone? A woman especially. It's no longer enough to smile and say hello when you meet someone, especially in a professional capacity. A handshake puts a completely different spin on things.

Socially, things may be slightly different. I don't usually resort to a handshake. Hugs are reserved only for those who actually mean something to me. And while shaking hands isn't mandatory, I do think it's important to reciprocate well when proferred someone's hand.

I know, I know ... a handshake is a rather minor and petty thing to judge someone upon, but I cannot help it. I may have a very good time with whoever it is, and while I won't let my first impressions ruin things ... a limp handshake still makes me go 'ee-yuck!' mentally.

Thing is, it's quite easy to fake a firm grip, as it was pointed out to me. I'm not saying one should. I'm saying, the first few times you have to remind yourself to but it soon turns into a habit ... so what's so bad about adopting something that is ultimately a good thing?

Ah and my ruminations have been prompted by Parul's point about shaking hands. That and all the limp jelly-fish-and-eels handshakes I've encountered over the years.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Lost in ...

Was watching Lost in Austen y'day (infuriatingly, a mini-series that ended with just four episodes, like other fantastic British TV shows, as Amrita rightly pointed out. Although IMDB says it is being revived in 2011, yet again proving Amrita's point) ... I haven't finished the series but I did cheat and look up the synopsis on Wiki ... because when it comes to watching something, I want to know it's worth my time (not unlike Amrita!). I might've been put off but I shall finish the series because I found it highly entertaining. I digress however.

My original point was, what would I pick if I had to get lost in a book.

Not To Kill A Mocking-Bird. Can't say I'd enjoy sleepy rural America in times less liberal.

Probably not a Georgette Heyer even if her heroines are spunky and fiesty (and really, WHAT are the chances I'd end up a heroine?) ... it's still a society where women don't have much to do beyond looking pretty and marrying. I'd be bored out of my mind, so no. And um, no, I do not want to be incarnated as a man in one of those novels.

Not Enid Blyton ... unless I was going to food or a piece of scenery, thangyuverymuj.

Maybe Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series or something similar. A chance to be brave and fight gigantic forces ... but what if I found I wasn't upto that? Oh the shame! So, err ... maybe not.

A Thursday Next novel? Erm, chances that I'd be Erased for being a Pagerunner are high ... so, thanks but I'll pass.

I WOULD however pick a Tom Holt novel. His characters are ALL entertaining, even when they're being wicked and bad. Actually, I think that settles it. I would want to be Tom Holt's Blonde Bombshell.

what do you think you'd pick?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Change Changes Things

I've almost always been the youngest in any household I've lived in ... so it comes as a bit of a surprise to realise that I'm the oldest in the house now. Second oldest at the moment, actually, but soon I really will be the oldest and that realisation does some funny things.

It's amazing how protective you can feel about someone younger, even if you don't really know them. The youngest of us is a teenager and even though everyone else is in the early-twenties range at best a year or two older (except old old me that is ... but I take comfort from the fact the house is far older than I am) ... said teenager brings out maternal/paternal/elder sibling feelings in all of us as if a switch were turned on. She gets ribbed endlessly about where she's been and should we be on the phone to her folks and who was out on a date with ... and maybe the child is a bit confused but she takes it in good spirit. I just heard her singing ... loud, clear, in that mixture of innocence, hope and attitude only teenagers can affect. I thought it was beautiful.

The first time I met Teen was a few days ago, after about two weeks of wondering where the mysterious new housemate was and why she wasn't living in the house yet. I'd know she was that young but the fact wasn't really brought home to me until we came across each other face-to-face. Let me tell you something. I think I play it very cool, I take my time around people and don't go about giving anyone faltu ka bhav ... and when you're like that, it's easy to start thinking of yourself as being cold and aloof and a total snob. Until you see a pair of eyes that look partly eager and partly unsure while their owner says a bright 'Hi!' and uncertainly extends a pair of arms towards you, not knowing if a hug is forthcoming or not. And in that moment, this cold, aloof snob that is you, will put all that to one side, excuse herself from the phone and hold out for a hug, for all you're worth. You see this young almost-child and something changes, something that makes you want to envelop this waif and at least for that moment, give them the reassurance that it's going to be okay, that nothing is as scary as it seems ... something that makes it all okay for YOU, the crappy day, the horrid weather, just about everything that could be wrong, all that. In that one moment, even if only for that one moment.

I've lived with a teenager before so I know it isn't all sunshine and rainbows. I know they can be surly, messy, rude and noisy. Heck, I was a horrid teen too. And I'm not saying this one's different. She's going to be her share of all that but the important thing is to let her grow into the person she will be. Lead by example, but not intend to. And not expect to be followed just because.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, suddenly becoming the oldest person around makes you think what it's all about. And you realise:

  • It's about not pulling rank just because you're older. None of the 'I'm older so I know better' crap. You don't. You don't know what the other person is going through and just because they're younger doesn't mean their experiences are lesser. 
  • It's about being understanding. And respect. About a zillon things. About habits and quirks and wants and needs. Like bearing in mind that the things you do sometimes have to have the child-friendly factor to it. Like realising that it must be really tough for a lone boy to be living amid a bunch of hormonal, emotional, confusing, moody, pmsing-by-turns women. And more importantly, vocalising the fact that you appreciate said boy's ... patience. And no, don't let the fact that you can bully him as if he were your own younger brother influence any of this ;) 
  • It's appreciating the little big things. Like dozing off on a housemate's shoulder and being comforted by the fact that a cool soft hand gently strokes your hair.
  • Like realising just how lucky you are to be living in a house that's full of people who have the time of the day for you. 
  • Like realising that actually, you're not that old after all. So maybe take a chill pill. Plans can wait. Life will go on. But this evening, when your amaretto spiked hot chocolate was pinched by giggling housemates as you watched a movie, while being stared down by a trying-to-scary-with-the-painted-joker-face-but-still-only-succeeding-in-being-cute boy for being noisy, the evening that involved affectionately shaking your heads collectively at said boy and much ribbing about 'gold-diggers' ... this, will always let you be 20-something, no matter how many years go by. You can't get cynical about it you see.
  • Like realising, actually, being oldest doesn't mean SHIT.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Missives II

To the world and my circle of acquaintances at large, on FB.
 T. M. I. Really.

To the scumbag-dick ex of a friend.
 You slut! That's right, slut. You don't get to be called 'player' just because you're a guy. Slut. I'd have loved to tell you to your face that you weren't right for my friend at all, not worthy of her one bit, boring and stuck up as you were. And I would have too, if I weren't keeping mum for her sake. You evidently don't deserve such niceties ... so watch your step. I'm hoping I run into you, and when I do, I'm going to kick you in the nuts and announce to the world that you're a walking std. Whether that's true or not ... although given your proclivities ... the chances are ... I'll leave you to puzzle your tiny brain over that. Oh and I hope you end up marrying someone who's going to cuckold you and humiliate you but never ever give you a way out. I hope you die cold and lonely and miserable. I wish you eternal misery forever after. And if you're 'skills' extend to being able to read, look up 'just desserts.' Because that's what you've got coming to you ... and in all probability, the waitress would have spit in it. Not just because you tried to hit on her while she went about her work but because she saw your behaviour way before you got started with her. Karma ... she's a right bitch and get used to that because you're going to end up as her bitch.

To the salespeople I seem to keep running into.
 If you're going to turn up your nose at me because I want something replaced rather than buying something new, you're going to add a big fat zero the the till. And if I say 'I'll think it over', that isn't your cue to sass me. YOU are the one who needs to meet a target, think your attitude over.

To the guy manning the till.
 The correct response to my "I don't need a bag, thank you" is NOT "The bag's free, yeah?". Some of us try to do our bit for the environment.

To shoemakers the world over.
 You think 'heels' mean something resembling a goddam tower at the end of my feet? Have you ANY idea how hard it is to walk around in those? Do you actually test your products on normal, real women? The ones who have jobs and families and have to walk in these things? This is a conspiracy, I'm onto you. It's just another way or controlling womankind. In parlance you'd actually understand, "Walk in someone's shoes ...". Although in this case they'd be your own.

To Lindt.
 You're doing something very wrong. How is it that I can NEVER find my favourite chocolate in stock?

To me.
 Your twenties are slipping past, time to play catch-up and do all the wild things you'll never regret.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Book Babble

Taking this up from Chinkurli:

  1. Favorite childhood book? And I'm stuck already. Do I choose from Enid Blyton, Anne of Green Gables or Little Women? Decisions decisions ...
  2. What are you reading right now? Have Spacesuit Will Travel by Robert A. Henlein. Also, To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
  3. Bad book habit? Being determined to finish a book even if it's absolutely terrible. Although I suppose not being willing to lend books could also count as bad book habit.
  4. Do you have an e-reader? Nope. Shall probably wait and watch to see how the technology develops before I buy one.
  5. Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once? Usually one book at a time.
  6. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? Nup. My reading habit has gotten a little relaxed over the years though.
  7. Least favorite book you read this year (so far)? William Walker's First Year of Marriage
  8. Favorite book you’ve read this year? Tough one. I think I shall pick Tom Holt, but it's a toss between Blonde Bombshell and Snow White and the Seven Samurai. 
  9. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? Have I a comfort zone?
  10. What is your reading comfort zone? Dunno!
  11. Can you read on the bus? Sure ... helps that the bus drivers here are rather steady drivers so reading isn't the bumpy ride it could be.
  12. Favorite place to read? I don't know if I have one ... but I'd love to have a reading chair ... a comfortably cushioned rocking chair or one of these
  13. What is your policy on book lending? Hee hee, I don't lend. I did give away a book or two this year though, and they were Tom Holt's. 
  14. Do you ever dog-ear books? Certainly not! My books are in pristine condition, unless I've bought dog-eared copies.
  15. Do you ever write in the margins of your books? Heck, no!.
  16. Not even with text books? What, like a decade ago? I might have done so in school but I stopped that a very long time ago.
  17. What is your favorite language to read in? Angrezi? I read Kannada but really slowly ... would be nice to read in another language, a few more in fact. I wish I could read all the books in the world that were ever written.
  18. What makes you love a book? I don't know, I just do.
  19. What will inspire you to recommend a book? Someone's reading habits perhaps and preferences.  
  20. Favorite genre? Alternate-reality, sci-fi, Regency era related, Young Adult fiction . I cannot pick a favourite.
  21. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?) .
  22. Favorite biography? Haven't really read one ... although I will pick Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman as my favourite autobiography.
  23. Have you ever read a self-help book? Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers. Should probably read it again. Also The Ultimate Gift.
  24. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)? I don't think I did ...
  25. Favorite reading snack? :D Biscuits, farsaan, toast, chips ... any snacky stuff
  26. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience. The Da Vinci Code.
  27. How often do you agree with critics about a book? I don't keep with with reviews really ... or rely on them. Very occasionally though, Amazon's readers' reviews are really helpful.
  28. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews? Well, if it sucks, it sucks. 
  29. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose? Japanese. And Urdu perhaps.
  30. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read? The Tale of Genji and Satanic Verses.
  31. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin? Atlas Shrugged.
  32. Favorite Poet? I don't read much poetry but I loved Kiplings' If and Shakespeare's Seven Ages.
  33. Favorite fictional character? Stuck again. Jack and Aliena from The Pillars of the Earth; Scout, Jem, Atticus, Boo, Miss Maudie Atkinson from To Kill a Mockingbird; Anne, Mathew, Mrs. Lynde and Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables; Leslie and Ms Edmunds from Bridge to Terabithia; Judy from Daddy-Long-Legs; Thursday's father from the Thursday Next series; Freddie and Kitty from Cotillion; Phoebe Marlow from Sylvester; Alexia from Soulless; Poseidon from the Percy Jackson series ... this won't finish. 
  34. Favorite fictional villain? Kevin from We Need to Talk about Kevin.
  35. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation? Whatever I'm reading then. 
  36. The longest I’ve gone without reading – A month? 
  37. Name a book that you could/would not finish- Tale of Genji and Satanic Verses.
  38. What distracts you easily when you’re reading? Nothing. Except the book itself not enagaging me at some point.
  39. Favorite film adaptation of a novel? Bridge to Terabithia. Stardust.
  40. Most disappointing film adaptation? Percy Jackson! Maybe Baby based on Inconceivable. Anne of Green Gables. 
  41. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time? Out here I devote a certain amount every month for buying books ... back home, I might've spent close to a 1000 one time, years ago though.
  42. How often do you skim a book before reading it? Usually just the once, before I buy it.
  43. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through? If I'm not in the mood for whatever genre it is.
  44. Do you like to keep your books organized? On a shelf. I really would love that chair!
  45. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them? I keep them all. Although I think I really should get rid of William Walker's First Year of Marriage.
  46. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding? The Tale of Genji
  47. Name a book that made you angry- Ooooh!!! Ashok Banker's King of Ayodhya. It made me want to scream 'ayogya!' at all the characters!
  48. A book you didn’t expect to like but did? And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer. Also, surprise surprise, Percy Jackson.
  49. A book that you expected to like but didn’t? King of Ayodhya.
  50. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading? Reading itself is guilt-free pleasure!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

By the water-cooler

Is a tub of mini choco-chip muffins, on the table.

And that's my entry to Parul's contest. Okay, so I'm trying to bribe, but at least I'm being honest and over-the-table about it. :P

Monday, October 25, 2010

Let's play

Ever notice how quirky some of the word verification terms are? We're going to make a game out of them. I've enabled word verification in my comments, your job is to either explain what the word you're given might mean or use it in a sentence. Go wild!

(And if you're thinking this is boring, let me direct you here.)

Go on then, spread some silliness!

Edited to add: Okay now I feel like the kid who had a lonely childhood, he/she had only two imaginary friends and they only played with each other.

Edit to the edit: Okay so I'm not a lonely child after all ... but blogger's refusing to let people comment if WV is on, so ... we no play! :( Gah. If you're still interested ... if you find a funny WV on someone else's blog and feel like mentioning it here, please do.