Life in General

Sew Cruel

I’ve been trying to teach myself how to sew for a few months now. This desire to operate a sewing machine didn’t stem from any designer aspirations as much as it did from the frustration of having busted seams on the sleeves of once favourite tops and altering tight/loose clothes into better fitting ones as opposed to giving them away to smaller/larger friends and relatives.

I can now hem neatly, and a lot of my older clothes are more wearable now thanks to my alterations. 
A week ago, I got started on my most ambitious project yet, to stitch a basic saree blouse. I’d taken the measurements from a blouse I had already owned and things were going swimmingly until I had to measure out the sleeves. I ironed my alavu blouse’s sleeve to get the perfect measurement and lo – the iron box had left a large gaping hole in the silk sleeve because I hadn’t the basic sense to reduce the temperature on the iron while switching fabrics from cotton to silk. 
It took my eyes a good two minutes to adjust to the horror which was this crooked hole marring my otherwise beautiful, floral printed silk blouse. I thought about crying, almost did and nearly gave my new hobby up altogether. Then, in what felt like a Tim Gunn inspired trance, I removed the sleeves completely, and carefully hemmed the edges, making the half sleeve blouse, a sleeveless one. The final, altered product looked as good as the original, if not better, and I don’t think any project that I had undertaken thus far in my life had given me the amount of satisfaction that this sleeve operation did. In my obvious excitement, I texted my sister photos of the blouse with the hole, and what it looked like when it was fixed. 
It feels brilliant to know how to sew, I told her. Isn’t it the most useful thing in the world? I can teach you, you know. Basic hems and stitches to fix holes and stuff in case something like this happens to you too.  
Oh that won’t be necessary, she told me silkily. I know how to use an iron. 

March Update

So the reason I’ve been completely absent from this space stems from a combination of guilt, and the absolute lack of ideas for content meant for the blog. The latter gives way to the former I suppose. It’s going to be close to a year since I posted anything original here as well, and that makes me feel bittersweet. Once upon a time, that was the dream – to be published so regularly that you didn’t have time for the blog. The thing about dreams, though, is the moment you get catch hold of one, or at least think you’ve caught hold of one, it changes inside the very hands you’ve trapped it in.

When I was around twenty (or was it twenty one?), I’d made this 25 things to do before 25 list. Looking back now, at the ripe old age of twenty seven, the list is plain silly, and at times reeks of desperation (one of the items on the list was “don’t be a virgin”). Here’s the thing though – with the exception of seeing New York City, I’ve ticked all the boxes, and in some cases I’ve done better than that list ever thought I would. This will tell you two things – the first being that twenty (one) year old me had zero creativity. The second, is that there really is no reason for me to sound as agitated as I do right now, after all, I’d scaled the mountain that I set my sights on when I was younger, did I not?

As it turns out, the mountain is a pedestrian platform and I’m actually a centipede.

Anyway, back to the blog – instead of reposting stuff that I’ve been writing for The Hindu, I’ve decided that instead, I will just go back to sharing mundanities from my life, like how sometime the last week when a director of a major sitcom told me that my review of his show was “nice”. Just Aaron Korsh guys, you know, the director of Suits, no big deal.

You can read the review he’s talking about, here

The Right Thing

Recently, I was faced with the rather unpleasant task of “doing the right thing”. It involved making a difficult phone call to someone I respected greatly and telling her that, contrary to everything that I had told her since that moment, I was no different from every other selfish, opportunistic ladder-climber she had encountered thus far. 
As an avid avoider of confrontation, this phone call not only took me a while to make, but also had me making several other phone calls to friends and family, seeking advice on what to do, and whether my idea of changing my name to Maria-Abdul Sivagnanam and starting a new life in Rameswaram was a good alternative solution. It so happened that despite the inherent genius in the Maria-Abdul idea, everyone I had asked told me to make the phone call as soon as I could. One of them went on to say “Don’t worry, it’ll be just like pulling out a bandaid, and it’ll be over before you know it.” 
This was comforting to me, because I’m a clumsy girl, and I’ve pulled a fair number of band aids out over the years. There is a slight twinge of pain, yes, but if I worked quickly, even that slight discomfort could be avoided. I went to the extent of hoping that it would be like one of those waterproof band aids which quietly slip off by themselves. 

I made the phone call half an hour later and by the end of it, the only thing that was on my mind was why “like taking a wax strip off” wasn’t a mainstream phrase yet, because that was what the entire experience felt like – excruciatingly painful, and although I knew that it was for the best and things would become smooth real soon, all I felt after I done was raw, stung, sensitive, and just really, really red. 

Me, everyday. 

A Short Post

Confession: The first thing I thought of when I opened the “Post” page to talk about my birthday, was to write a “26 Things You Learn When You’re 26” listicle – it’s become a bit of a disease. Anyway, I started this post out thinking I’ll dole out age based advice, but I’m not going to because there’s enough on this blog already.

I know you don’t particularly care to know, but I insist on informing you that I am doing well. Job’s going well, I’ve been getting some nice writing assignments, I’m yet to give up on anything good this year, I’ve been giving some time for hobbies, and of course, I’m still getting sly tweeted about, which as we all know, is one of the greatest barometers of success in 2015.

I’m working on a pretty exciting project right now, which I’ll tell you guys about, soon-ish. Also, if you’re one of the grand total of five people who enjoy The Daily Dinosaur, great news! It’s up and running again. I hope you’re having a good weekend!

2014 in Review

Another year is upon us! As it is with every new year that sneaks upon us every December, I hate it already. I was very sure that 2014 would be crappy, but looking back, it wasn’t as crappy as I had initially expected it to be. Here is a personal roundup –

1. I used a planner for the whole year – I’ve been buying a planner every year the last five years but 2014 was the first year where I actually used it to plan my day as opposed to my usual ritual of writing one sentence and then using it for bookshelf beautification. I think the key to like, really making the most of your planner is by using it purely on a day to day basis. Don’t waste time on filling out birthdays in the “Months” section because it’s 2014, and we’ve all got facebook for that.

2. I learned to be more ambitious…and more open to failure – Failure and me, we’re like those two people who aren’t really friends, but have like 3571 mutual friends and keep commenting and annoying each other on our common friend’s wall posts. We don’t know each other, but we know each other, you know what I mean – the dude is always lurking. This year, I finally sent out that friend request. I started a lot of projects this year, some were great, some were O-K and some, I don’t even know what I was thinking. But all of them, I started with the knowledge that it was TOTALLY OK if it bombed. That really gave me the freedom to go all out and enjoy myself doing those projects and yes, I didn’t do as well as I would’ve liked, but I had fun, I learned a little more about myself and it’s all so much better when failure is a friend. I do not, however, recommend this “friending failure” approach where academics and exams are concerned.


3. I made an effort – So 2014 wasn’t really the greatest year where my friendships were concerned. I had always been lazy in that department, but this year a few things happened where I really was affected to the point where I had to totally rethink the way I created my friendships, and how I maintained them. I started from scratch again, did some spring cleaning for the old, neglected ones, and went out and actively built new ones. I honestly am happier now for the effort that I made. Looking back, I’d like to think of the stuff that went down the drain as the hair that you lose when you shower – it wasn’t strong enough to begin with, and I know that you’re attached to your hair and all, but it’ll be gross if you go try pick it up and put it back, and it’s just hair anyway, it’ll grow back newer, and maybe even better. Analogy mairaatam irundhaalum feeling-a please purinjukonga*.


4. Marriage can be awesome if you’re lucky – I think this is the year where I really felt like damn, so this is what it feels like to be married. Marriage is awesome though. I mean, we are polar opposites, my husband and I, and yet we are having plenty of fun. What annoys me though, is when people expect me to wax eloquent of Arranged Marriage. Every time I/we maintain that I/we got lucky (which I/we did), people get really disappointed, like those old Chinese Men with the long mustaches in the Martial Arts movies because I/we failed to defend Arranged Marriage’s honour. “But you two had an arranged marriage” they say, “and you two are happy!” We are. We really are. But we also know that Marriage (arranged or otherwise) is kind of like jumping into the sea from the Titanic. Sometimes you get the lifeboat manned by an experienced boatman, sometimes, you’re left in the freezing water with someone who’s on a wooden plank that’s big enough for the both of you and yet won’t let you on it while holding on to your hand and claiming to love you all the same.

I’m full of analogies today.

5. I READ MORE BOOKS – I read 20 books this year out of the 24 I had aimed, and that, for me, was the least crappy thing about 2014.


So that was my year. How was yours? Awesome? Crappy? Non-crappy? Just Ok? Here’s hoping 2015 is better 🙂

HAPPYY NEW YEARRRR 

* – Sorry, but I can’t translate this. 

13 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 13

There appears to be a tag on the rounds – thirteen pieces of wisdom that you wish your 13 year old self knew. No one has asked me to do the tag, which is probably why I’m so eager to type it out this wonderfully busy Monday afternoon. Before I begin though, two major observations – One, I was 13 twelve years ago. Two, I was 13 TWELVE YEARS AGO. I’m pretty sure there’s Scotch my age that is being sold with a “vintage” label.

Sad face.

Anyway, here goes:

1. Eat healthy. I know that eating junk food the way you did was nothing short of an art, but I have to tell you that 19 year old you had a really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY hard time losing the weight you accumulated with your specific diet of top ramen noodles, cheese on everything and potato chips. A thumb rule: 3 Pringles are ok. 3 tubes of Pringles in one go while watching the Johnny Bravo marathon aren’t.

2. Don’t judge people. This is something you’ve recently begun to do, miss. Just because someone is ‘X’ never implies that they are also ‘Y’. Everyone has a story, and everyone knows something you don’t. The quicker you stop doing this, the less annoying you will be when you grow up.

3. Make strong friendships. This is the age when real friendships are forged. It’s good to have “lots of friends” but it is so much more important to forge close friendships – especially of the female kind – invite your friends home, go to their places, don’t bunk birthday parties because you were feeling lazy, and spend half an hour after school talking about nothing. When you grow up, they will become the people to whom you can send TR Speaking English videos without the fear of being physically abused.

4. Read. Read everything. You have a great reading habit. Don’t get lost in the literary quicksand that is fluffy young adult. Read the classics. Read Shakespeare. Read Russian writing. Read poetry. It all seems overwhelming now, but I promise you’ll get it. Put The Princess Diaries down. Please.

5. Get Good Marks. Sorry to sound like Amma, but really – if you can get 80 by not studying and watching Cartoon Network all day, imagine HOW MUCH MORE you’ll get if you actually studied. You can be a topper! You’re smart enough! Why are you not listening to me? Fine, don’t listen to me. They’re your marks. YOUR LIFE. Do whatever. I am not paying for your college. *slams door*

6. Play A Sport: Even if you suck at it (which I know you do). Nothing comes automatically, but sport gives you an hour to take the day off, and indulge in something for fun. It gives you team mates, new friends, a different social circle, and makes you an interesting person. Note: Competitive Eating is NOT a sport.

7. Work on Your Writing: So I found something you wrote recently, and while the writing itself was beyond awful, I will tell you that it had a lot of potential. You can be really good if you work on what you have. You will lose a lot of writing competitions in school despite being the English teacher suck-up simply because you were too lazy. Read more. Write even more. Work, work, work. (If you had worked hard, I wouldn’t be writing crap in this blog now. I’d have been writing crap in newspaper columns. Sigh)

8. Get back to Paatu Class/ Dance Class: But don’t get back to both. One is enough. Get back to dance class. Or Paatu class. But get back.

9. STOP BUYING TURTLENECK T-SHIRTS OHMYGOD. Seriously.


10. Don’t Be Embarrassed By Yourself:  Ya. You’re chubby. People make fun of you. But guess what, people will make fun of you even after you’ve dropped the 25 extra kg and got yourself a nice haircut because people, they suck. Don’t listen to them. You’re pretty cool. Except when you’re being whiny and annoying because then you’re totally not cool.

11. Geography isn’t as difficult as you thought it was: You’d know too, if you actually read it instead of sleeping in class and trying to mug the lesson at 5 AM on the day of your exam.


12. Be More Careful With Your Stuff: I still don’t get how you managed to lose your pens on an everyday basis.


13. Boys Your Age Are Stupid: If you must absolutely have a crush on someone, pick an older boy – in fact there is a really cute boy with the most incredible brown eyes and half a pair of dimples about 4 batches senior to you in Vidya Mandir. Keep an eye on him but for heaven’s sake don’t creep him out the way you creep other guys out THIS IS IMPORTANT OKAY.

Red Eye

Two days ago, I took the last flight out of Ahmedabad back home. It’s scheduled to depart at around nine in the evening, reach Chennai half hour before midnight, and is sometimes delayed but always rickety. Taking the last flight is never the most convenient thing to do, but I am the kind of weirdo homebody who has this permanent urge to get back, even if bone tired, to my room and my bed with too many pillows (mine).

This time on the flight, there was a group of particularly loud men sitting in the two rows in front of me. Gathering from the snippets of their conversation that I (and every other passenger) was forced to hear, it seemed like for a majority of the group, it was their first flight and naturally, they were all visibly excited. The excitement though, after some time, got out a little out of hand – in the midst of the hooting and laughter, they stood up and started posing for pictures during the security brief, making comments about “including the background”.

While I am not one to be bothered by loudness or hooting or any behaviour that is not visibly offensive/involves physical contact, this was the first time that I’d seen picture taking that involved including the background and I got uncomfortable since I was, along with a few other women, part of the background. Thankfully, the steward noticed what was going on and came swiftly to handle the situation. She made the man take his phone out, enter his security code, said a lot of things in shuddh hindi about flight policy, and deleted the pictures off his phone. My discomfort soon became aggravation as I noticed that these men had the widest grin on their faces while they were being chided, and that when she left, they broke into laughter again, like it was all a big joke.

I felt terrible for the flight attendant, and what she had to go through, but she looked unfazed – she proceeded to busy herself about things, ever the picture of calm and even came back to ask them, with a warm smile, if they were interested in purchasing a sandwich or maybe juice, as if these engaging in these skirmishes was routine, as if they already knew something like this was going to happen when they set out to work this morning, as if an incident like this had already happened during the course of the day and it was now getting boring to deal with guys like this, as if it was part of their job.

I don’t think I’d ever been happier, or more grateful to be an accountant.

Problems of Plenty

It feels like I’ve been having too many hobbies of late – I should probably blame Pinterest with its very many shiny photos that have successfully fooled me into thinking that I have it in myself to be a great baker/gardener/morning person/diet and fitness expert/healthy eater/writer/circus clown. While I am enjoying doing all the new things that I’m doing, I’ve been finding it very hard to focus on a hobby. I learn something, I get down to doing it a couple of times, and then I jump on to the next. Occasionally I phase between hobbies, but I just get so bored so quickly.

The area where boredom strikes me the most (apart from work), is in my exercise routine. This year, I completed a grand 10 months out of my annual gym membership, which is something of a personal best for me. The last few years I’ve been working out, I enroll for a monthly membership first, see if I like the place and my routine, decide that I like the place and the routine, pay annual membership, go for around 3 months before I decide that it’s dull and then repeat the process the next year. In between memberships, I signed up for a Yoga class and loved it (although I only attended like a week of the month that I paid for…minor detail), and as fate would have it, they closed that branch of their studio that year and I went back to donating to the gyms of the city.

This year I took on a whole 10 months of whining and panting on the treadmill (and assorted torture devices) before I gave up again. For the first couple of weeks after quitting, I decided that I didn’t need the gym at all, and tried doing iPhone app based workouts for a bit, only to realize that I just didn’t have the willpower to do anything other than nap on the exercise mat. After that, my fitness routine got restricted to bookmarking pilates videos on youtube.

Two days ago though, I surprised myself by signing up for a very early Zumba class. You see, despite my mastery over the complex dance routine that is The Penguin (walk walk flap, walk walk flap walk flap walk flap walk walk….way tougher than it reads, let me tell you), I’d always had inhibitions where dance workouts were concerned. I don’t know if it was because of my personal nightmares of all the waddling I did in the Bharatanatyam classes I took as a kid, or the effect of watching Punnagai Mannan one too many times.

Anyway, I’m now two Zumba classes old and I’m happy to report that I’m quite enjoying it. I’m looking forward to the classes, they are fun, my instructor is a lovely person, and the way that it’s going, I think I can see myself being regular, having fun with exercise, and not getting bored. And because I’m having fun with exercise, I can even see myself getting an annual membership. And because I am having fun AND getting an annual membership, I most definitely see myself quitting after 3 months.

So, How's Married Life?

If I had a rupee every time I was asked how married life was, I’d have had a dollar in my hand right now. Initially, I tried answering this question with sincerity, but it turns out “Married life a? But it’s only been 3 days” is not an answer that is popular with the masses, so these days when asked the question on text, I offer my standard reply of “Oh it’s great. I’m having a really good time!” followed by numerous smiley faces. Being interrogated about your “married life” during socializing I’ve found, is more of a challenge because unlike text messaging, it is difficult to ignore the assorted follow-up questions that tail my standard smile-and-“it’s good!”-answer (Standard smile because if I were to show exactly how happy I am being married, most people would think I’m on a pretty potent blend of recreational drugs).

Say Crack Again.

The questions are more or less typical depending on the person asking it – unmarried acquaintances and friends want to know everything about my new domestic setup, older couples want to know if I am “having fun” (after which they say “Enjoy this time, you will not get it again” the same way one would to a prisoner on death row), and grandmothers want to know about the goings-on in my bedroom.

A couple of days ago though, I was asked if I’ve learned anything. I have actually: To begin with –

I Am Not A Domestic Goddess (Also the title of my upcoming Romance Novel)

The eight months or so that I was engaged, my father gave me a free hand at office to take time off whenever I wanted to. I suppose it was wise on his part to leave me alone because:

a. I am counter-productive to his practice as is, and

b. having a distracted me around would’ve made his office like one of those sitcoms where there’s this strict boss but everything goes wrong for him and the audience finds it hilarious and keeps laughing except it’s not a sitcom and there’s no audience and he might lose all his clients and we might be too broke to have the wedding and OHMYGOD LET ME OUT OF THIS NIGHTMARE.

So when I wasn’t in the middle of wedding shopping or wedding running-behind-the-tailor or wedding hanging-out-with-fiance, Amma said I should take the time to learn a few things about “running a household” and “taking charge of the kitchen” or she wouldn’t be able to step out in society without being referred to as The Mother Of The Daughter in Law Who Can’t Cook Haha and then be scarred with that reputation forever. I was quite enthusiastic of course – I had been watching a lot of Nigella and surely Domestic Goddess-ness couldn’t be that hard (especially considering the number of cupcake bakers on Facebook); and so I decided to take the time to learn new things. Unfortunately, all I learned was how to mercilessly burn three pans while endeavouring to master a brownie recipe and leaving a permanent stain on my mother’s new frying pan trying to make Aloo Methi. While I’d like to think of these things as tangible memories that I’ve left behind for my mother so that she can recall fond memories of my presence in that kitchen and then cry some happy tears, my sister tells me that the moistness in my mother’s eyes are not from bittersweet happiness, but relief.

Whatever.

A day or two after the husband and I came back from our honeymoon, I decided the time had come for me to exhibit my skill in the kitchen. Unfortunately, before I could as much as light the stove, I tripped over the metal door stopper and scraped a lot of skin on my foot resulting in a fair bit of bleeding (I held on to my trademark ladylike composure though, I doubt anyone could’ve hopped, skipped or squealed with the grace that I did) and I had to be taken to the hospital by my mother-in-law for a proper dressing and a really nasty tetanus shot. 

Amma dropped by the next day, and my mother-in-law gently patted my head and told her about how I was a poor thing who had to unnecessarily experience pain and go to the hospital, all because I had wanted to cook something. “Imagine what would’ve happened” said Amma thoughtfully, “if she had actually cooked”

[More lessons on married life shall be posted here as and when they are learned]

Like A Telephone

In March this year, my parents announced that they were going to start looking for a “suitable boy” for me. I wasn’t particularly surprised, but I did try, initially, to give them the “I’ll find a boy myself” dialogue, which was met with my parents roaring with laughter, after which I stopped trying to give them that, because who was I kidding anyway – I wasn’t capable of finding my own phone most of the time, so suffice to say that finding “suitable” boys wasn’t really a part of my skill set. 
Fast forward many, many tantrums (me) and abnormal blood pressure levels (my parents) to today, I am engaged. I KNOW, RIGHT?! It’s been a little more than a month since I’ve been engaged. I waited this long for it to sink in, but it still hasn’t.  Maybe it was a little too much on my part to assume that there was going to be this great change which involved the skies parting and a holy game show voice from the heavens announcing that my life was to change forever. Life is still the same, but a little different, kind of like consecutive Harris Jayaraj songs.  
A lot of people to whom I broke the news to are really happy that I am getting married at the age of twenty four, which I find pretty interesting because to be honest, I had been secretly preparing myself for the “You’re getting married NOW? But you’re only as old as a baby-foetus!” speeches.  So when people tell me I’ve made the right decision by deciding to wed now, it sounds great, like I’ve put a great deal of thought into it, outlined pros and cons in some important looking notepad (with flowcharts!) and everything, but truth be told the primary reason I decided to get married now is because I wanted to look nice (while I still could) in the wedding photographs. Like, priorities.

Speaking of weddings, I would be lying through my teeth, gums even, if I said I had no idea about how I wanted my wedding to be before all this really happened. I had a vague idea, ok no, I had a good idea, ok fine, I had been planning the entire ceremony in my head the last couple of years, including invites, a wedding food menu, three alternate colour schemes for the decor, what I’d wear, everything. Well, almost everything – I hadn’t thought about this one minor detail concerning who the boy I’d actually marry would be. Insignificant stuff. 
So naturally, at the start, I was pretty protective of my very own fairy tale wedding that I had conjured in my head (and in my Pinterest account), and when people started giving me suggestions about what to do, I’d give them the same reaction that most people would when you ask them to surgically alter their baby’s face. But soon I realized how much WORK all of this was and that if I was to get into everything, I’d be well on my way to getting permanent residence in the asylum at Kilpauk. It was at that moment, that my inner organizational genius awoke and I realized, that the key to planning a successful wedding is efficiency, a resolve of steel and advanced organizational skill. Once I attained this moment of enlightenment, I most efficiently dumped as many responsibilities as I could on my mother before she could realize what was happening.  
Yes, I might not get to choose my invites, I might not get to choose my wedding food menu, I might not get to choose the décor, and I might not get to choose most of what is going to happen around me those two days, but I’m not too worried about it. After all, I got to choose the boy.