Thursday, December 31, 2009

Taking Stock and turning 21

I've been tagged by various friends at various points of time (on facebook and on the blog), to do a kind of round up of the successes and failures of 2009. This is not the exact tag, because I feel like I have too much to say.

First up, apologies for being away far too long. In my defence, I have been sick. The sickness has escalated to a point where I have completely lost my voice. I haven't been able to speak almost at all for the last two weeks. This has made me think about the importance of my vocal chords- and I've been thinking about this for a while- I'm going to learn sign language in 2010. Since I'm very negative, let's begin with the failures :) However, it has been a very good year.
1. Not completing Italian course.
2. Not sustaining music lessons (as I had pledged to do earlier this year.)
3. Not being as forgiving as I'd like to have been.
4. Related to #3 : not controlling bad temper.
5. Being too sick too often (that isn't my fault, but I could've eaten less icecream given that I know I have pharyngitis.)
6. Not going out enough.
7. Not presenting an academic paper. 
1. Being a good daughter, sister, grand kid, niece and friend. Lots of scope for improvement but still, one of the biggest successes of the year.
2. Filing my own taxes (although I'm still below taxable income).
3. Being published in most of the places I wanted to be published in- The Statesman, Trans World Features, Ultraviolet, Matador Change, Matador Goods, Femina and Fotoflock.
4. Winning and conducting Quizzes.
5. Winning a coveted Scholarship to a Travel Writing Programme that I badly wanted to  be a part of (and not chickening out even though I badly wanted to throw up.)
6. Working with Julie and Aditya, inspiring editors who honed my skills and helped me understand what kind of a journalist I want to be.
7. Studying as hard as I had wanted to and reading lots.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Harish Iyer is running the Mumbai Marathon

My friend Harish is running the Mumbai Marathon in order to fight against Child Sexual abuse. Harish himself has been abused as a child.

This has been copypasted from an email. Do spread the word through twitter, facebook or your own blogs

"I was seven years old when it started. I was at a relative's home. As always, he wanted to give me a bath. He soaped me to a rich lather and suddenly started playing with my penis. I didn't know how to react, but didn't mind it. I think it felt nice, though weird. He asked me to do the same to him and I obliged."

– Harish Iyer, adult survivor of child sexual abuse.

Children easily trust adults and do not understand that such behaviour is not alright. ARPAN, an NGO in Mumbai teaches children differences between safe and unsafe touches and that it’s not alright for someone to touch, look at or talk about private body parts except to keep them clean and healthy. Arpan has taught over a 1000 children, skills to protect themselves from sexual abuse and need your support to reach out to thousands of more children, including yours.

Harish is running for ARPAN in the Mumbai Marathon on 17th January, 2010 to support Arpan's work on preventing child sexual abuse and healing it’s ill effects.

Help him raise funds for ARPAN.

Funds collected so far – Rs. 21,100/- Target amount – Rs. 1,01,000/-

Donate now.

To pay online click here.

(if you are tweeting the link you could use the url )

To pay via cheque, please send cheque in the name of ‘United Way of Mumbai’ to


Unit 24, 2nd flr, 105, Apollo Street, Mumbai Samachar Marg, Mumbai – 23.

To know more about ARPAN visit

Winter means...

Warm clothes, warm food ( the spicier the better) and warm hugs from a warm person ( the cuddlier the better). I usually hate winter but comforting hugs are all it takes to make my day :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

How my morning began today.

Read This

I was just preparing to drink my first cup of morning tea, when I chanced upon this ridiculous article in The Telegraph today. The article talks about how Emergency Contraceptive Pills are being used by young girls indiscriminately. Here's how the article begins-

Shreya Pal, 25, doesn’t think twice before popping an emergency contraceptive pill. “Well, I really can’t be bothered about side effects when there is an emergency.” And how often do such emergencies arise? At most about twice a week, she reveals after much prodding.

I believe that this article is a veiled way of  articulating that there should be impositions and censures on  women's right to choose. By making the ECP a prescriptive drug, governments will subject women to go through the humiliation of having to go to gynaecologists who often condescendingly moralise instead of just doing their jobs. Also, the article is skewed, one sided and biased. Not once does it mention the social pressures that women have to go through, not once does it talk about the fact that the introduction of such a law will mean that many responsible individuals have to now subject themselves to agonising scrutiny and be denied their right to choose.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What is wrong with me?

Rahul Dravid is batting and I'm not even watching the match :(

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Procrastinating...yet again!

Today is the big day I've been waiting for...somehow or the other, I will need to crank out 4,000 words for a term paper and then get down to editing it. Did I mention do you that I have exactly five 1,000 word bylined articles to write within this month? Add a termpaper, two big tests, essays that need to be revised, essays that need to be written and what kind of an image to you get in your head? Someone swamped with work and absolutely no time to breathe? Someone who is probably drinking gallons and gallons of coffee? Someone who is really moving their ass and actually getting down to it?

Now, I really, really admire people who actually do work when it's necessary, but here's what I did today. Woke up in the morning, lounged around, had a meaningful conversation with grandmother about cataract operations, had a whimsical conversation with father about cigars and Caipirinha, had a quiet conversation with dog, because well, the dog just couldn't be bothered to move out of my way. Then I lounged around for a bit longer and decided that it would be the moment- the defining moment when I'd just write. And that didn't happen. Ate an abnormally large breakfast and then read some blogs and began to follow some organisations I admire on twitter. I even struck up a conversation with one of them and hope to interview and take a look at the kind of work they do next month. Except, poor Wilkie Collins remained largely unignored.

Sheer Stupidity

How many of you do this? or am I the only one who is this daft?

Thought 1 in my head : Wilkie Collins is a capricorn. Loktar class acche.

Thought 2 in my head : Susan Sontag is a capricorn. Mohilar class acche.

Thought 3 in my head :What did T.S Eliot say about Wilkie Collins? That he was one of the first novelists who wrote about detective fiction. I thought that was tantamount to this incident :

Thought 3 leading to shady anecdote :

I was in a swanky bookstore and a friend of mine had wanted me to take a look at the amazingly nice covers of that particular publication. I was admiring the the design of the book, when I chanced upon a blurb which read " An amazingly good read - Famous author." And to think that people are actually paid to write blurbs.

Thought 4 : No icecream in the fridge. Broke till december 10 ( when I'll get paid and feel relatively rich for a couple of weeks.) Desperately look for money. Whine to boyfriend about having no icecream in the fridge.

Read more blogs. Read the wikipedia entry on The Moonstone. Actually finish reading half the book. Go to sleep. Chide myself for being loser and escapist. Go to sleep anyway.

Awoken by a loud sharp knock. The boyfriend has icecream :D Eat sloppily and sleepily. The boyfriend leaves. Thanks to meaningful discussion, I now have a thesis statement for my paper. Eureka!

Ma asks what I'd like for dinner. The mother and the father have a wedding invitation. I say, in my characteristically vague way, good food. I love pleasant surprises, this shouldn't be too hard.

Contented, I finally get down to work. Promise to myself that I will not check mail. Check mail anyway. Discover that there are twenty five mails that I need to respond to. They will all be tended to, but later. One mail says that my piece has been accepted for publication. Feel relieved. Remind myself of the things to do. Decide to read and end up reading Tinkle. And now I'm blogging.

What have you been doing?  Procrastinating, working, having fun or doing all three?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Don't Ask Women to Shut Up! Just Don't!

Reinstated by stereotypes of course, the "popular" notion of feminists equals manhaters.  Members of the Boys Club laugh at their sick in-jokes and that's fine, apparently and it really would be fine if everyone were joking about it and some people didn't actually believe it

Some members of the Freemasons Hall in Calcutta recently told me that they are a very inclusive club. I'm not exactly sure about where they learnt their English, but last time I checked inclusive meant including everything. Now I think, clubs by their very nature are elitist (DUH!), but the Freemasons Hall proudly struts their stuff and when asked to come up with a defence say, "but this is a tradition". WTF? Last Time I checked, burning women was also considered a tradition. Next time someone asks me to shut up because I'm too angry and I'm raving and ranting, I will say:

 1. Stop Stereotyping. NOW.  I'm sorry people I will say some really OBVIOUS things right now but I'm tired and irritated with all the lame comments that have been coming my way, so bear with me.

First, some people believe that they are feminists. Stop pandering to stereotypes and assigning characteristics to people randomly based on whether the person is a feminist or not a feminist. If you want to be respected, respect another person's opinion as well. Secondly, there are many women who don't consider themselves feminists and are fighting away for women's rights. If you're an ostrich and think that nothing's wrong, think again. I had written a post about women's bodies earlier this year and this guy who didn't have the guts to actually use his own name retorted by saying that I was trying to deny men the pleasure of fetishism by ranting about how women are objectified. Now I had said nothing of the sort, just stated that you cannot simply perceive a woman to be merely an object. I don't even know why I was wasting my time arguing with this guy, but turns out he was a complete jackass and I don't even feel angry. I just feel sorry about how ignorant he is.

2. Stop Stigmatising

Just Read this:

Here is an excerpt from the article above:

"Though the trial court had convicted the accused Munshi and another person for the rape of a 17-year old woman, the high court acquitted the accused persons on the ground that victim was promiscuous in her sexual behaviour and had already lost her virginity."

The Trial Court actually let those jerks go because the girl was not a virgin. How is that even relevant? Also, what's the big deal about the virginity anyway? This just disgusts me- somehow, if you're not a virgin, you're loose and you've lost your virginity anyway, so what do you care? Of course, it is of no consequence whatsoever that it is your body and you can do whatever the hell you want with it. Another brilliant myth is the "deflowering myth". As anyone who is informed enough knows, a girl doesn't necessarily bleed when she has sex for the first time. A domestic help I once interviewed told me that her husband left her for another woman because she didn't bleed on their first night. Now the hymen can be ruptured for many reasons :

 a. many women are born without the hymen
b. some tear it if they're heavily into sports
c. what the fuck does all of this matter anyway?

With reference to C, this is where I am wrong. Because you see, it matters. Recent studies have shown that women are opting for hymen restructuring or  inserting the blood of a goat's pouch just to evade the stigma. Simple solution? stop stigmatising.

3. Get your facts straight

Do some research and speak to reliable sources. Sometimes, the media can be horrifically misleading. Look up what women's organisations are saying and do some finding out for yourself. And next time you make a snap judgement, think twice.

As you may have already noticed, I have focussed on a bunch of negatives. But lots of people out there are really doing good work. I recently interviewed a woman who was working for rights for artisans. Google is your friend. Read about what people are doing and try and think about what you can do to help. And please don't ask women to shut up. Please.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Danger of a single story- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I've often been surrounded by people who launch into polemics at the drop of a hat. Not putting anyone else down, but I find that disturbing, not to mention downright irritating. The video I'm posting here, therefore, turned out to be quite refreshing. Adichie talks about how we are so quick to stereotype and make value judgements instead of trying to think of things in a balanced, rational fashion. Adichie calls herself a "happy feminist"  and celebrates women's achievements and pushes for women's rights the world over. I'm reading her brilliant novel Half of A Yellow Sun now. I'm adding her to my List of People I Admire The Most.

Watch the video here :

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I love my new blog template. It's neat and uncluttered. In meatspace ( at least the speck that I inhabit), there is no physical space at all. my bed is strewn with all kinds of books, three brand new cds, a pendrive,two bottles of perfume that I got for bhai phonta- both very citrusy smells, I might add- I absolutely adore citrus smells, but that's not the point, here see, I'm rambling again- Rudyard Kipling's Kim, A book on Columbia's J-School, The Other Hand, a beautiful bag that ma got me from Cambodia, a notebook with a cat screaming its lungs out saying Anybody Home? Talking about cats, I've come to adore this tiny black and white kitten that I caught stealing milk from the kitchen. I had to shelter it from my over-boisterous dog who was intent on pouncing on it and scratching its eyes out :(

Out of pure sloth, I end this post abruptly :/

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Who's read The Other Hand?

Has anyone read Chris Cleave's The Other Hand? Get in touch, I'm dying to discuss the book :D

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Today's my day off and I get to read, have a looong rejuvenating bath and then trot off to meet a fantastic person  :D Yay!

My dad went shopping yesterday and found a peasant blouse that he thought would look great on me. I absolutely love the blouse and I'm going to be all dressed up for the fancy dinner tonight :) I had considered working on my applications today, but  decided that I needed to catch up on my reading and reply to tons of emails from friends and family.

Tomorrow, we wrap up our Macbeth project and the big presentation is on Tuesday.

I've met all pending deadlines and today's a reason to celebrate. It's back to the grind from Monday. I've also decided that I will take one day of the week off, no matter how much there is to do.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Of exploitative contracts and my thoughts on them

I'm not an experienced writer yet, but the one thing that I do know is that I will never sign an indemnification clause. A very well-respected publication (regular readers of this blog will be aware of the nitty-gritties) chose two of my stories for publication. After promising a paltry sum of Rs 500 for each story, (and this is a huge publishing house, mind you), the publishers decided that it was in their best interests to make their contributors sign an indemnification clause.

And guess what, most people did. They went ahead and signed the contract.Here's why I think that this was possible:

1. Most people were first time writers and absolutely dying to see their name in print.
2. Most were unable to comprehend the deftly worded legal jargon.
3. Some people signed the contract without reading it- The contract wanted all rights and wanted the contributors to sign the indemnification clause

Here's why I didn't sign

1. For almost a year, the editors held on to my story without any word on it. When several writers wrote to them asking for an explanation, they were rude and treated the writers like they were doing the writers a favour by publishing them.

2. The Publication wanted all rights and wanted to translate my story into several Indian languages (unfortunately I know only two and would have no way of verifying if plagiarism occured during translation)

3. The high-handed I'm big you're small, I'm right you're wrong attitude. I'm not their slave. As a writer, I am a service provider- as a publisher they are my clients. I am selling them a product. If they can't treat me like an equal, I can't be bothered to work with them either. ( I think this kind of behaviour is absolutely unacceptable and writers are exploited because they allow themselves to be exploited.)

4. I respect my own work and will never give up all rights on it. (unless I can buy a villa in South Sicily with all the money they give me.)

5. I hate contracts that are non-negotiable (Just because I'm not Madonna, don't expect me to put up with your dumb and absolutely lame reasons.)

6. They asked me to rewrite my story from beginning to end. I might consider doing so if my editor is constructive, not to mention intelligent and helps me make my story more nuanced. But I will absolutely not rewrite just because an editor thinks that having an eight word vocabulary is cool. Oh and I don't like editors who write Pls chnge, I thght ths is gd idea in an email. If you expect me to be professional, please be professional yourself.

I wrote this post not because I wanted to rant, but because I wanted to warn everyone about indemnification clauses. Read up on it before signing that contract.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Bright, Fish Shaped Candle...

I'm not too fond of presents the way some people are but what really touched me last week was a bright fish shaped candle. I was upto my neck in work ( I'm not complaining about it- the work is fabulous and the clip makes it worth it for me), but the more I worked, the more the fish-shaped candle seem to stare at me. There were firecrackers outside and the neighbourhood kids seemed to be having a whale of a time. And then, the bright-fished shaped candle was lit and it stayed right there on my desk- as unintrusive and peaceful as the person who thought of me when the lone, fish shaped candle waited for its turn to be home.

Because Home is everything to an exile :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

And Life is Good

So I've been working on a presentation and writing paragraph after paragraph and surprisingly, I'm thrilled to bits. I don't mind at all. We're working on a group presentation on the Cultural Adaptations of Macbeth with a focus on Asia and we're having a lot of fun digging up little known facts and putting together an audio-visual presentation.

I am also working on a writing assignment that I can't talk about- I'm SUPER excited about it and if it turns out the way I want it to, I'll link it here, on my blog. I'll be interviewing an incredible person tomorrow and I can't wait for tomorrow to begin. Also, I really love my editors. I've worked with some particularly nasty ones and I'm glad that the ones that I work with now are not only wonderful editors, but wonderful and sensitive human beings as well.

Last Diwali I wasn't in town and last to last Diwali I spent at home, sulking and carrying on an ISD conversation that I had no wish to be a part of. I'm so glad that this time it's all going to be different. Happy Diwali everyone. Light a candle for the special people in your lives :)

** Edits- This one's turning out to be a really crappy one too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The need for a Blog Post.

The need to blog today stems from the fact that this blog has been dormant for quite sometime. Earlier, I was the proud owner of a sleek journal where I'd pen fragments and thoughts. And then, a poem I'd once written mysteriously appeared on some else's blog and that too, AFTER I had trusted the person and showed her my creative endeavour. That's when I decided to start my own blog and put up poetry there. Saptarshi (who is a friend now, but who I didn't know at all back then) was one of the first people to comment on that blog - aptly named An Ordeal By Innocence. The blog housed poetry that turns my ears red from embarrassment everytime I think of them. But looking back, it served its purpose and proved cathartic to an emotional, angst-ridden teenager.

That blog, despite all its bad writing taught me to let go - of things that had lost their meaning, of friends who had become strangers, of relationships that hurt more than healed. Slowly I learnt that it was more important to be sensitive than sensational, to be intuitive than intelligent. I learnt that I admire people who are actively involved in addressing problems and coming up with solutions for them. And finally and most importantly, I learnt that it was possible to be happy even when everything was seemingly wrong.

While this might seem trivial, writing taught me to fight my own demons. Later that year, I went on a trip to the mountain and overcame my fear of heights by rappelling down the mountain. It wasn't a big deal but it was a Herculean task for me and I did it nevertheless. That was step two.

Today is Blog Action Day* (Yea, I didn't know that myself. Google told me) and millions of people around the world are talking about how they think they can contribute to the world. It's taken me almost three years to know exactly what I want to do, where I fit in and how I can help and while I'm not going to talk at length about anything specific, I do know that nurturing positivity can be by doing anything - it might be trying to teach a child how to build a fire, it might be learning to fly kites, it might be trying to fight poverty. What can You do to facilitate positivity the world over? It's worth thinking about.

* The Theme this year is Climate Change

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Frailty, thy name is Procrastination

I am procrastinating on:

1. Revising an article that has been in my inbox for a month now.

2. Reading Marcel Mauss's The Gift

3. Listing Story ideas and filing clips.

And you?

A Letter

Dear God,

I know I'm an agnostic and all of that. But please, please help me get what I want? If you do, you'll know that there's one extra person on your team.



Monday, May 18, 2009


A single drop of tear glistened on the rose-once beautiful and now dead and wilted, for no water could revive it.It was time to relinguish all thoughts of it, once and for all, before the afternoon gathered up all its dust and took the rose with it- on a secret journey, so secret that even the gods had no inkling.


The afternoons stretch out like long, meandering roads while the thunderstorms crash outside. Where I live, the roads are easily flooded. I often come home after an examination to see a stray muri-thonga floating in the water while a banana peel floats in the muddy water outside- the only remnant of someone's possible breakfast. My grandparents tell me that I am lucky. I have never had to witness the kind of storms that they have had to. My father, in turn, recounts an amusing story where he and his pesky cousins had to find a boat from somewhere and negotiate the waters. Someone even found fish in the water. Not the rotten, thrownaway kind. Real live fish.

There is something very comforting about fresh bursts of rain and jagged thunderstorms though. For one, the ferocity is appealing. For another the deep blue-grey clouds in the sky seem to be dancing to their own eerie tune. I once looked up at the sky and could have sworn that the clouds looked like an elephant and a giraffe. A friend of mine said that she had seen a heart-shaped cloud during her visit to the hills. There is so much beauty in the ferocity.

I look forward to being by myself during the evenings- reading, listening to music. I remember being taught the Meghmalhar and being told how Tansen brought on the rains with his music. I look forward to music lessons in summer. And many, many fun-filled evenings that remind me of my first days at university- when I discovered the tangy flavour of lebu-cha and learnt to wade my way through the rains. The rains always have a story to tell :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Veryinteresting Tuesday morning.

I woke up at exactly 5.45 a.m today. I don't use a watch, but my cellphone is of immense help ( I like this one better, especially after the rickety old phone that I inherited would make wheezing sounds every other day till it could take no more and refused to work one day. But that's another story.) So I got dressed and went for a walk. I needed to buy the Statesman and so I walked towards Kwality and stood there. Enter verypatronising uncle. (VPU)

VPU-Ekhono newspaper ashe ni. Tumi jao na, ghure esho. Hnata shasther pokkhe bhalo. Park-e hnato, jao.
ME- ( resolutely)- Na. aami dariye thakte chai
VPU- (after five minutes) : Tumi ki koro?
ME- aami engreji pori.
VPU- Oh accha (very dismissively). Amar bondhur meye bideshe engreji porecche. Oboshyo amar meye Sociology porecche. Tarpor Ashutosh Mukherjee'r barita acche na? okhane Business Management-er Diploma korecche. M.B.A na kintu, Management- er Diploma. ( Yes, I think my powers of comprehension are fairly developed)
ME ( flashing a polite smile that I only reserve for strangers)-: Accha Accha.
VPU- Kothay poro tumi? City College?
ME- na, Jadavpur Biswabidyalay.
VPU- Okhane Comparative Literature porano hoy tai na?
ME- hna
VPU- Okhane Moonmoon Sen porecchen. Moonmoon Sen ke janoto? Abhinetri.
ME- hna jaani ( And my impression of you is progressively worsening. Moonmoon Sen-er moton nyaka mohila aami jibone khoob kom dekhecchi)

In the meantime, two other narratives are gradually developing.

The magazine seller (MS) is engaged in a dialogue with a man(M) who has a very thick Bihari accent. It seems like he is pretty familiar with the area and speaks good bangla.
MS: Janen toh, shob manusher-i chahida acche. chahidar kono shesh nei. Kintu aamake dekhoon. Amar bari chai na, gari chai na, kicchui chai na. Aami khoob shadharon manush. Amar konoi lobh nei.
M: (picks up a magazine and hands him a tenner): Ei nin.
MS: (sternly): Eta ponero taka daam, Dosh taka dile hobe?
Suddenly a man wearing a lungi (LM) walks towards VPU. They're quite obviously old friends.

VPU: Tomar meye kemon acche?
ML: Aar bolo na bhai, or ja chakri! aathta train dhorte hoy oke. Oh aamake aar or ma-ke bolcchilo ( I've noticed how some men always put themselves first. *cringe*) je oh aar chakri korte parcche na. Aami oke eto ador`e boro korecchi....(breaks off)
VPU- (looking at me): Tumi bosho.
ME- nana theekache, aapni boshun.
ML- Accha pore kotha hobe.

In the meanwhile, the flowerseller (F) is negotiating with the local pujari. (P)
F: ei je, char ana holeo aamake taka debe. Noyeto bouni hobe na.
P: Roj keno korish tui, egulo toh shob bhogoban-er jonno (*yawn*- I just wish people would stop saying that. Anyway, Freedom of Expression, I suppose)
F: (Handing him a bunch of roses and hibiscuses): Ei nao.
The pujari smiles and goes back to the temple.
In the meanwhile, the newspaper seller arrives ( Thank heavens!)
MS: (taking a Statesman from him): Ei nao
ME- Thank you.
VPU- Headlines poro. Headlines pora bhalo.
ME- haan porbo. Amar lekhata dekhar por.
And then I walked off, happy to be free at last :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday...Bloody Sunday.

1."The more people I meet...the more I love my dog"
2. I prefer watching mindless television as opposed to listening to people's bullshit.
3. 8th Day has published their own version of
Elephants Will Remember and have called it " Those Elephants". I am most displeased with their editing. I think I shall stop sending my writing to 8th Day.
4. I don't want any more altercations. Too drained out.
5. I have a test to study for *sigh*

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Another exam tomorrow. And therefore, the wilful urge to write. Can I just say that I hate it when people move away? Detachment. Yes, that's the word. That's probably something I shall never learn to be. Detached. And that's the one thing that has really plagued me. After a series of personal struggles, I was left shattered and disillusioned. In restrospect, I don't really mind. But I'm hoping I don't have to go through the same things over and over again. If only life were a little simpler and I didn't spend all my time living in a bubble.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thank You

...And then, there were no pretensions. And no declarations. And time stood still. And while all the world was watching, I knew. I knew I was home. Because home is everything to an exile.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Maybe, just maybe it's time for the rains again :)