Thursday, March 12, 2015

I'm not 27, I'm just 9, three times over

The customary budday post turned 7 this year! I'm breaking the tradition since I'm coming up with this *after* the birthday. Let's face it, I'm old. I've now crossed over to the dark side of the 20s, so before I get more melancholic, I'm going to treat this post as an ego-massage therapy to my "Post 25 traumatic stress disorder".

About seven years ago, I'd have never imagined I'd be where I am today - so I'm going to make this delightfully narcissistic and talk about 27 milestones (some significant, some completely random) in the past 27 years. (I promise that each is only a line long. Or thereabouts.) 

1. Keeping a blog - even if that means writing only one self-obsessed birthday post a year, such as this one. 

2. Working in a software company - Yup, when you can't beat 'em, join 'em! After years of being mean towards the techies who've infiltrated my dear old city, I became one of them - ah the joy of discovering Mac! (And I now know that Github and Heroku aren't ancient east Asian civilizations)

3. Quitting work in a software company - It's easy to get carried away with the bright and shiny life of Macs, but it takes a little more courage to leave it behind and follow the heart. I'm trying that now, so let's see where that takes me

4. Acting in a play - And turning up in the front page of the supplement newspaper! And I had absolutely no stage fright (well, mostly because they made me take my glasses off and I could've been acting in front of a group of flamingos and I wouldn't know) 

5. Travelling to Africa - Why does this matter? Because I had to get a yellow fever shot for the visa - and if you've seen me around needles then you know this is a big deal. Not to mention a solo international plane ride *shudder* 

6. Driving in three cities of the country - Seven years ago, I was too chicken to drive in my own road. And now, the people around me are too chicken to come in my way. Hah. (Or so I'd like to think)

7. Going on an all girls international backpacking trip - Buongiorno Italia! An unforgettable experience of living life on a shoestring budget, without knowing what the next day brings for you 

8. Learning the art of video editing and subtitling - You never know where a skill might come handy, even if you've picked it up in recording studios that inhabit the dusty lanes of Kollywood 

9. Cooking 3 edible meals a day - While it's not gourmet variety, I've come a long distance from trying to fry bread in a microwave. And when all fails, 3 minute mug cakes FTW! 

10. Chasing a criminal and reporting him to the police - The world needs more people to stand up and fight the bullies, even if that means you live a few days in fear of vindication

11. Learning Zumba - Ok, so it lasted two days and I have the grace of a drunken panda, but it's definitely something I want to try out again! 

12. Training for a marathon - ...that I haven't yet run, but just the training process has inflated my ego enough to act like I'm a pro already

13. Growing out of superstitions - Well, most superstitions...unless I see that mail van on the road *zips lips*

14. Firing a machine gun - A real, alive and kickin machine gun! In a shooting range! With real bullets! *So* cathartic. Imma build myself a range in the house for particularly long traffic-ridden days

15. Accidentally propositioning two German men - Hey, vanakkam and wanna come sound the same. Yes, they do

16. Getting chased by a turkey - Nasty, nasty birds

17. Walking into a murder scene with the killer standing behind - Yes, this happened and no, it wasn't for real. I'm sure if I'd seen the film crew and camera I would have reacted in a more dignified manner. Screaming and running out like a headless chicken *may* not have been the best solution

18. Prank calling an eve teaser - Well, he did leave his number and asked us to call him, maybe? Next time, I'll etch the number in a public loo and write call 4 a gud tym

19. Chasing a train - And catching it in the nick of time. And doing this way before Jab We Met made it cool

20. Swallowing my grandpa's diabetes medication, a naphthalene ball and some shrink wrap - All at various points in my life, but the diabetes shenanigan was when I was 3, and it resulted in a diet of sugar syrup and Cadbury's chocolates for 10 hours to ensure I didn't slip into a coma. What a bundle of joy I might have been to the parents ;)

21. By-hearting the lyrics to random Hindi/Bhojpuri/Kannada/Tamil/Telugu/Malayalam songs -  Because that's what one must do to accrue a multicultural personality while growing up

22. Becoming a tea connoisseur - from cherry to hibiscus, I'm now a fan of teas made from fruits, flowers, leaves and bark. According to my folks, I may as well just drink a garden

23. Undergoing a technology cleanse - The reason for my late blogpost? I've stayed away from a laptop for the longest time, coming back only when I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown due to the lack of a proper keyboard on that imbecile of a phone

24. Writing poetry - From the slapstick birthday poems to more serious ones, there's probably a reason why my friends call me VaishKavi (and yes you guys, you'll get your last year's poems soon)

25. Getting nearly blown into the Niagara river during a snowstorm - Because you know, what better time to visit the Niagara Falls than during a polar vortex?

26. Making the best group of friends ever - From legendary birthday celebrations to surprise bachelorette parties - these guys have played a huge role in what I am today (and in a lot of the aforementioned shenanigans) - so if you're yawning through most of these because you know them already, then you're in this group :)

27. Getting married - Probably the biggest coup to have pulled off against my brain (that still believes I'm 23). You know you're in the right place when marriage doesn't make you feel like you're old and dull. 27 is, after all, just a number. :)

So far, so good! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Birthday Alphabet

I've broken the tradition. I've finally forgotten how to count and I can no longer start this post with the lines...26 days to go before I turn 26. Hm. Perhaps that's a good thing, and I can start a new tradition of successfully masking my age from now on.

*Quickly removes the year of birth from Facebook settings* 

Back to business. My annual budday post (annual in the literal sense, since the last post I wrote was my last year's budday post) will be in alphabet, the only concept I could associate 26 with. Here are 26 things are on my mind as I begin slipping to the older side of twenties. 

So not-so-young boys and girls, let's begin our A - B - C. 

A for Alarm Clocks, which aren't needed anymore...because I find myself waking up with the roosters. Despite having a wild night of reading a book and sleeping at ten. Yeesh. 

B for Bottoms up - that delightful tender coconut water straight out of the natural bottle. I know what you were thinking and no, it's not that.  

C for Cycling - which I need to start very soon, to counterbalance the calorie overload from cupcakes.

D for Doodling - a habit that's disappeared entirely, after my 100-page-single-line-ruled books have been taken over by a certain gentleman named Mac. 

E for Eengliss that we would destroy on purpose. Now my poor grammar jokes are not appreciated. Lolz, only. 

F for FTW - an abbreviation I've never used appropriately. Growing up, FTW! (right?) 

G for Gossip, giggling, goofing off and getting an endless supply of vitamin D from Garuda mall (you know who you are so get back soon!) 

H for Hashtags, because I have no idea why people use these but I find them #incrediblyamusing. And just for kicks, I'm just going to sprinkle a few here, quite randomly.

I for Iss sheher mein sab Kannada se zyaada Hindi bolte hain. I want to go back to 6th std where I used to hold my kannada textbook upside down and pretend I understood everything. #learnkannadayoushamelesspeople

J for Junk food - which used to symbolise cavities when I was ten...and now symbolises early onset diabetes and myocardial infarction. 

K for Kelsa (work, for the non-kannada folk) - a word that's changed so drastically this decade, from school kelsa to assignment kelsa to no kelsa and now actual kelsa kelsa. 

*******really tempted to cheat here and go L for Lemenopee? ******* ;) 

L for Loooong drives (ok, so it's only 6 kms but feels like an era has gone by) - these drives teach me to build character, personality, patience, perseverance, observe the world and manage anger effectively. 

M for Monies - which comes very obediently to the bank every month...deluding me into believing I can totally buy an island off the Caribbean in a few years from now. 

N for Ninajji - a phrase that's not befitting a 26-year-old-to-be at all. But I still giggle if someone uses it. 26 is old aa? Thoo, ninajji. :D 

O for Orange feet - you know who you both are, so this is for us, our whackiness, our long lasting friendship and years of hilarious whatsapp conversations  (of who married who, when, where, why and most importantly, what was the food?)

P for Phoren land - which I've now seen, experienced and liked...but saare jahaan se achcha; Hindustan hamaara.

Q for Quixotic Witter needs to be revived! (if you're wondering what Quixotic Witter is...scroll up and read my blog's title. Yup, it's changed. And now needs some love so you can spend the rest of the day being utterly unproductive and reading up ALL about my life) :P

R for Rekindle that habit of reading! Seriously, all I read these days are restaurant reviews on Friday's supplement paper. Appalling, for a worldly-wise-26-year-old-to-be.

S for Shishters of mine, scattered all over the world. We may grow old and wrinkly, but we'll always give them young 'uns a run for their monies. Glove you all. #iheartyouall

T for Tan-tana-tan-tan-tan-tara, chalti hai kya nau se baraah - an ode to reviving the watch sidey movies and laugh your pants off tradition.

U for Uff, this post is so long I need to start winding up. #endcomingsoon

W for Whatte wonderphul 25 years it's been. I'll keep ploughing through the rest with the same amount of excitement. :) #feelingsuperduperexcited

V for Valentine's Day, a day when all people drowning in louue go out to exclaim it. And here I am, writing my budday post diligently. Some things never change.

X for Xanthippe, because I want to end this post with a vague, unheard (but erudite) sounding word. Also, it beautifully describes me (rude, ill tempered woman) when I'm around autos/auto drivers/auto-anything. #complicatedlatinwords,FTW!

Y for Yo Yo Honey Singh, which I will criticize, rant and diss for the rest of my life...but will never be able to resist singing his songs when I'm alone in the car (aaj blue hai paani paani paani paani, anyone?) 

Z for Ze End! Happy-budday-to-me! :) 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Silvered Quarter


My birthday hits the silver jubilee this year. I’ve always associated silver jubilees with college buildings, aunty-uncle anniversaries, steel cupboards and vintage cars. I suddenly feel like these things are my contemporaries. 

But as they (they = clich├ęd facebook posts that I usually snort at) say: Growing old is inevitable, growing up is not. I'll continue the tradition of my eccentric birthday posts.

It's twenty five days for me to turn twenty five and here are the top twenty five things I simply *must* do in my twenty fifth year. 

25. Eat more custard apple. Did you know I tasted this marvellous fruit for the first time only a few months ago? Now that I've emerged from the blackhole of weirdness, it's time I ate it more often.

24. Outgrow my Cadbury's dairy milk wrapper collecting habit.

23. Feed a squirrel. I've always been squeamish about going near squirrels...a swish of their tails can make me scoot faster than you can say 'squirrel'. 

22. Figure out why and how people use mascara. And eyelash curling thingamajigs. 

21. Use my geometry box compass and poke the next biker who hits the side view mirror of my car in a traffic jam. 

20. Treat at least one Monday of each month as a Friday, and wake up with the same amount of joy. 

19. Stand in the balcony at midnight and look at the stars. Without imagining that Ali Baba and his coterie of thieves are looking at me from down below (What? It's possible. Very possible).

18. Walk upto a random uncle/aunty and go "Kya aapke toothpaste mein namak hai?"

17. Read a book from the beginning and control the urge to find out whodunnit before hitting page 50. 

16. Re-read Harry Potter, Roald Dahl, P.G.Wodehouse, Enid Blyton and R.K.Narayan to rediscover the magic of books from childhood. 

15. Go on a coastal train journey, with strangers for company and drink kullad chai from the platform of a desolate station. 

14. Go on a flight that's longer than 2 hours, and contain panic attacks to a minimum of 4 (the current number shall not be disclosed, but I think 4's a reasonable start, thanksverymuch). 

13. Get over the superstitious 13 quirk. 

12. Watch a movie in a theatre without shedding a single tear (as unlikely as it may seem). 

11. Learn enough Tamil to understand the lyrics of at least 2 A.R.Rahman songs, without singing them wrong and making a fool of myself (there's a song where I was convinced the singer wanted his ladylove to clone his heart and eat them both).

10. Dance in stilettos. 

9. Start treating babies as babies...and not uhm..child psychology practical subjects on whom neo-natal reflexes can be tested. 

8. Stay up an entire night and watch old sitcoms, with cheese maggi as my companion

7. Ride a bike. And a macho-type bike at that. 

6. Cook an edible meal that doesn't consist of bread-butter-jam or cheese maggi. Or last night's rasam rice. Or curd rice. Or just chips and pickle. 

5. Use my diary to write profound, worldly experiences...not stinky rants about people I'm irked with. 

4. Go for a long early morning dewdrop sprinkled walk at least twice a month, waking up before the sun and watching the city come alive. 

3. Stop seeing Facebook newsfeed every morning and panicking about how two more people have posted engagement pictures...and I'm headed for the Oh no, I'll turn 77 and live in Florence with all my cats life. 

2. Talk less, talk less and talk less. 

1. Treat turning twenty five as vibrant, not archaic. I'll be crossing a quarter of my life (here's where my overenthusiastic optimism chimes in and tells me I'll live to a ripe old age of 100, despite my potato-chip lifestyle)...and it's been a fabulous journey so far. 

A silver strand or two ain't so bad after all. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Shattering the passivity

I've always been a massive propagator of the ignoring atrocities movement. If someone were to call out "Hey baaayebee" at me, I ignore and walk. If a random man waves at me from a car, I look at him as if he were invisible and move on. My theory in life has been that these men are not worthy of my attention, effort, resources or cognitive reasoning and hence, I ignore. 

A small, but significant incident has shattered the passivity within me and proven if my society needs to change, I need to be the one to start doing it. 

My friend and I were followed by a man in his car today. The distance was barely a kilometer, the locality was one of the fanciest in the city and it was a scorching and crowded afternoon. hate the fact that I need to justify the wheres/whats/whys of the incident, because I know questions like Was it late in the evening? Were you out in a secluded area? Were you both girls? Was it a shady locality? crop up every time someone mentions a story like this (and I know, everyone has a story like this). 

We could have ignored it. We would have ignored it, had it not been for the fact that today, the country is finally waking up to fight against such antics. Keeping the arrogance of not wanting to deal with such men aside, we reported it. We got the man thrown out of the restaurant and ensured that his car details were submitted to the nearest police station. 

How is this helping change anything? We have lengthy discussions about changing 'mindsets' and teaching our children to respect women and inculcate equality in society. I'm sorry, but my children (and those of my generation) are not going to begin respecting women for at least another fifteen years. If we are going to start bringing about change in mindsets starting with our children, we are going to skip an entire generation. A generation of rapes, abuse, domestic violence and honour killings. All because we think we can only bring about the change in our own families....which haven't even come into existence yet. 

If I want a safer society, I need to build it myself. Today's eve-teaser is tomorrow's rapist. Stopping him by stepping up and taking action might prevent many other girls from being followed in the future. I used to think that acting against eve-teasing can get me into trouble, giving me sleepless nights. On the contrary, today I'll sleep peacefully, knowing that I've done my bit, albeit a small one, in trying to change my own society. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Witter on Winter

Winter's back in season! Over the years, I've come to realise that winter brings out the chirpy side in me  (because, you know, that chirpiness isn't evident the rest of the year at all). I love writing about winters nearly as much as I love writing my annual birthday posts...even more so because winter indicates that the birthday is only a season away!

There's just some magic in the air when you wake up and feel the icy floor with your toes. The magic spreads to the car, as you wipe off the thin frosty icing from its windows. The magic envelops a seemingly boring street, making it look mystical in a dull haze. The magic follows you to work, as the dysfunctional central air conditioning keeps resetting itself to below 20 degrees, ensuring that the bright sweater you wore is completely justified indoors as well. The magic stays with you at lunch, when a sudden gust of cold wind suddenly gives you a hug. The magic follows you home, cooling you down just before you divulge your knowledge of  bilingual profanity at the megalomanic drivers on the road. The magic  drags your eyes upward, to stare at the inky blue sky and the little shimmery stars sprinkled around the luminous moon. The magic finally tucks you into the warm huddle of blankets, reassuring you that it will be around the next day as well. 

Overkill with the magic bit, eh? I guess some things are better expressed through poetry. 

Okaaay, so winter can't be all about happiness and delirium now, can it? There is the bane of the chill - my sporadic exercise regimes. It takes a soul of iron to wake up every morning and try to do at least some form of physical activity (apparently, climbing two flights of stairs is not counted as physical activity anymore. My mother refuses to reason with me on that subject now.) 

And then there is my new nemesis. A cat that starts its own version of Salman Khan item songs in a particularly harsh meow baritone at 5 every morning. To make matters worse, the cat sends out its little coterie of kittens to play peek-a-boo under my car...giving me little heart attacks before taking it out. 

And when I've decided to settle down for the night, I see his (why am I so sure the cat's male? Because I don't really know if female cats have a name...so I figured I'll stick to the obvious. Also, boys are snot.  I cannot emphasise that enough.) silhouette at the window, sitting majestically like a sphinx and waiting for the clock to turn five so he can begin his grammy eliciting recital. 

But lets stick to the happy bits of winter, shall we? The steaming mug of cocoa with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles...the anticipation of a delicious Christmas and the promise of an exciting new year (That is, of course, if the Mayans are proven wrong and we don't end up perishing before we can say apocalypse.)

So yes, Winter's here and it's here to stay (for several months, by the looks of the dysfunctional A/C at work). I am one Santa's pants away from bursting into a carol about how awesome this season is, so this would probably be a good time to stop typing. 




Sunday, October 7, 2012

Malladaptive Behaviour

A hundred posts and you would think I've finally been cured of the cheesy title syndrome. But then again, what's the point of writing a blogpost if you can't give a Margherita pizza an inferiority complex with a cheesy title?

So yes, if you haven't guessed already, this post is about malls. And how they've completely ruined the simple childhood thrill of going to a local market, turning us into a malladaptive lot.

When I was a kid (not too long ago, as I'd like to believe, thanksverymuch)...I used to hate going to the market. My parents would make a weekly customary trip to Sarojini Nagar to buy vegetables, and I hated going there because the vendors would all call me baby. I hated the squishy tomatoes that rolled off a pile and aided the formation of a red carpet on the muddy floor. I hated the green leafy vegetables glinting beneath a swinging 100 watt bulb from a lopsided roof. I hated the mounds of fresh paneer that smelled like cows when you went near them. I would fake stomach aches, pretend to get lost  in the milieu of crazy-vegetable-fanatics...I even tried getting accidentally locked inside the car so my parents would leave me there while shopping...but all to no avail. Except the ice cream cone that was my bribe to come to the market, I found every second of every trip an ordeal.

And so, when malls entered the country (not unlike the locusts entering Africa in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart), I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Now my parents could shop for vegetables in a fancy store while I could peruse books on the same floor. All was well with this new air-conditioned world and I bid Sarojini Nagar a fervent farewell.

Several years later, when Forum opened up in Bangalore, I was the enthu-cutlet who did a recce of all the half-opened shops. The McDonald's, that HUGE food court....the clothing stores...the multilevel bookstore...I could've died and gone to mall-heaven.

My affair with the malls continued through college, as I wandered from store to store in huge buildings, took many a movie in multiplexes, had every food stall cognitively mapped out and knew exactly where I could buy what. I had turned into the quintessential mall-rat.

Let's cut this love saga short and fast forward to today. I visited this swanky mall that should ideally be my paradise. I stepped into the grand facade, looking at everything awestruck, like a kid (or me, even) in a candy store. Every store had a name that was spelt in one way, but pronounced in another. Shimmering fabric was enveloped in glass cubicles, daring you to come closer to see if it was for real. Shoes were glinting under lights that could have lit an entire village for two months...heck, the cost of one pair of those shoes could educate children from an entire village for two months.

I thought I'd be enthralled at visiting such a place...it was, after all, the king of malls. But I cringed at the sight of frozen, diced vegetables looking sanitised enough to be wheeled into an operation theatre. Instead, I found myself searching for the rustic thatched stalls selling fresh vegetables. I heard the murmur of Burberry-Chanel-Jimmy Choo  around me...but yearned to listen to aloooooo-gobieeeeee-matarmatarmatarmatar. I lost myself amidst the suavely dressed people walking from store to store as if they owned diamond mines...and wished for that corner of my mother's dupatta that I used to wrap around my pinky, while manoeuvring in a chaotic crowd.

I found myself wishing I could go back in time to when I'd begin my stomach-ache faking...tell the seven year old (ok, so maybe it was a long time ago) to take in every sight and sound, that it wouldn't last very long. I'd tell myself to watch that tomato roll off the pile in perfect rhythm to the cacophony around. I'd convince myself that being called a baby as a kid is far better off than being called a babe as an adult...umm...maybe I'm pushing it with this one.

From Gandhi Bazaar to Sarojini Nagar, markets have this charm of bringing back childhood memories like nothing else. Today, as I drive out of the mall on that spirally multi-level parking thingy, I can't help but wonder if there will be a day when I'll look back at that mall with the same nostalgia I have for a market.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sau Far, Sau Good

Five years, four cities, three phoren lands and two degrees later, my blog has finally done a Sachin Tendulkar on the web with this - the 100th post. Again, like Sachin Tendulkar, it took many many attempts to get the post online. As an idealistic rookie in 2007, I was certain that I'd be typing my 100th post that very year. (But then again, I was also certain I would become a geo-political journalist and write my way to a Pulitzer Prize back then.) So today, I'm glad it's taken all of five years to get here. Believe me, you would not have wanted to read a hundred posts on how my life was trippin' back in 2007.

In five years, so many things have changed.

My carrier (as those well-meaning aunties and uncles who intercept you on the way to the dining area in a phamily phunction call it) has taken a blind U-turn...eerily resembling my driving...to land up on a new and interesting road.

My parents have taken an equally blind U-turn and gone from Oh god, she's only nineteen! We don't want her to elope with some rockstar dude with facial piercings and indecipherable tattoos! to a contrasting Oh god, she's twenty four! Why can't she just find someone to marry instead of making us search? 

And then again, so many things haven't  changed.

I continue to make friends who are completely ok with giggling like a gaggle of geese (do geese giggle? It just sounded nicely alliterative, though.) They (the friends, not the geese) have been part of some wild adventures (in des and pardes) and continue to inspire the crazy in me.

I still obsess about chick-lit, weird television soaps, certain shirtless gentlemen, MO of serial killers and psychopaths of the creepiest severity.

So, What?

So, yes...these five years have truly been a roller-coaster ride. Beginning in Bangalore, going through Hyderabad all the way up to Delhi, peaking in Germany and Italy...nosediving into Chennai and ending back where it all started. The people, the memories, the adventures, the heartaches, the exhilaration of new beginnings has made this ride completely worth it.

But the ride's only completed one turn...like all roller-coaster maniacs, no one can sit on a ride just one time around...you simply have to re-strap, take another deep breath and get started on the adventure all over again...