Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bhaiyadada

( What I wrote for him)

How can one even begin to sum up twenty two years in a few short paragraphs? For twenty two years, I have had the privilege of sharing my life with a man I lovingly called Bhaiyadada. One of my earliest memories of him would be during the sweltering summer months, when I would come home from kindergarten and sure enough, there would be a mango ice lolly waiting for me in the refrigerator. Unlike other grandfathers, Bhaiyadada never bought the lollies- he made them himself, storing the mangoes in a specific way and ensuring that his grandkids got to savour the most delicious ice lollies that he had almost magically concocted. Ice lollies apart, he was also a fabulous cook and my siblings and I will remember many a Sunday afternoon when he cooked his famous chicken rezala with rice.

With his saucy wit and sharp sense of humour, he would often regale me with stories about football matches during his time in Murshidabad and during his college days. While being extremely critical and analytical about misdemeanours, he was always someone who was kind to animals and birds, to trees and to those in need. He always told me to fight for what I believed in, even if it meant going against the wishes of everyone else. He told me about how oppressed he felt as a young boy, having to wear formal clothes in order to attend classes with his tutors, something that he found so disdainful that later on in life he would only be seen in his Panjabi and pajama and sometimes, his trademark lungi.


Bhaiyadada was a man of great resilience. Even while his eyesight weakened, I remember him insisting that he come to the Boimela with me. Even though I was apprehensive at first, his characteristic stubbornness won me over and I remember walking through the dusty Maidan with him as he slowed down, gasping for breath. Everytime I asked him if he wanted to go back, he would reply, “Aami ekdom theek acchi.” After the book fair haul, I remember reading some of the books aloud to him.

His sharp mind and his thirst for knowledge never really disappeared. Even in his last days, my grandmother would read him passage after passage from his (and sometimes her) favourite books.

He touched many peoples’ lives, and often very silently. In this very difficult time and in a faraway land, the one thing that makes me strong is his sparkling smile and the twinkle in his eye when he would said, “Ekdin jokhon aami thakbo na, tokhon aami norok theke toke dekhte pabo.”

Friday, November 25, 2011

Article in Tehelka

Since I often write about my (sometimes nonexistent) love life and do it rather uninhibitedly and don't censor myself, I thought I'd share this piece. It's been published by Tehelka and was quite difficult to write, especially because it involved shedding light on some intricate details of my life. I was very pained during the process of writing it, having just lost my grandfather to cancer and was not speaking to the person I have alluded to in this piece. Things have normalised since- well, as normal as grief and death can ever be. I promised myself however that no matter what I go through in life, I will always try to make sense of it by writing down my thoughts. Many times, it will simply be my subjective hurt view, but I will continue to write about the happy things and sad. 

The picture you see in the main piece is ironically exactly how I felt when I walked across the streets of London alone. I hope I continue to speak about my life in the hope that some kindred spirit will have felt what I have and some other people can also relate to it.

This is also my first byline under Rhea Roy

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Updates

The best friend-whom I've been best friends with since I was three and lived not even a block away from- now has an unlimited India calling card. When skype conks, that is what we resort to. Earlier, when I was in the U.K and she was in Kolkata, I had a similar strategy. Bitching on an ISD call just seems sort of wrong, somehow. But does that stop us?

In other news, please pick up the December issue of Tehelka. I have a piece there. I also have pieces in a couple of anthologies (one of them being a really great literary anthology that I'm really proud of!) which I will write about when published.

Submitting my dissertation in two days. More blogging soon!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cambridge

After reading Julie's  blog where she asks her roommate about a specific city, I decided to ask Rudrani, my travelling companion on that trip (and many future trips to come) and friend extraordinare what her memories of Cambridge were. Here's what she had to say :
I have always prided myself on never missing a single train, or bus for that matter. I mean those on long distance journeys, of course. The only time I would have broken that prized record, I ended up stalling a National Express coach along with Reeti. This trip was a culmination of quite a few days of planning and a few minutes of extra snoozing almost cost us this expedition. I still remember me frantically begging the coach driver to wait just for a couple of seconds as Reeti sped behind me at Flash-like speed to make it. The other passengers looked on in amused indifference. We plonked ourselves onto the seats, huffing and puffing.
In a couple of hours we landed in sunny Cambridge and pottered around the town. The place had a quaint, old-world charm. I remember the both of us walking down the length of Cambridge and then remarking how small the place was. I guess we had become used to the bewildering labyrinth that was London. One enduring image is that of us strolling by the Cam river and basking in the late autumn sunshine.
Having been suitably chastised by our earlier encounter with Time, we decided to make it back to the coach station well in time. After all, tempting Fate all over again after a heavy meal of Thai curry followed by hot chocolate seemed quite impossible.

(This feels like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Stay tuned, I will write my version soon.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sweetness

 Everyone close to me knows my aversion for and complete fear of math. However, the nicest thing said to me today was this : You have me, Shreya and X to help you do math, what is your problem? 
All three are math whizzes But X, do you understand what's happening? Everyone's rooting for you man! :) ( And you already have some Very Important People on your side i.e me)
Which is a good thing really. I miss you and I can't wait to see you.  You screw up big time and on a regular basis, you're the zaniest  and most random person I've ever known.
Also, I hate it when you ask me to look up wikipedia when you know you're supposed to give me the tour of a place! But your general idiocy aside you're not too bad, actually . You for one will never question my love for Rahul Dravid.
Keep adding to that word doc. We really do need to go on that world tour when we're 30. And no plonking people in the Atlantic Ocean, please. 



Monday, November 14, 2011

Taking a chance

It takes great courage to do something that one is fearful of.  I don't think I rank high on the list of courageous people.Sometimes it takes someone close to you to tell you to take that leap. To do what you've always wanted to do. They don't assure you that you will not fall, but they do remind you that not taking your chances will make you deeply regret consequences. All of us have childhood dreams that we often shove aside, thinking that it's too impossible, beyond us to achieve. Beginning January 2012, I will try living that dream. It seems to me like an impossible dream now, but I will always wonder "what-if", if I don't do something about it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Blog!

My friend The soliloquist once described me as being "cheesier than a cheeseburger". This was way back in my first year at college and I vehemently denied her claims. However, turns out that she was right and I often have a ton of things to say that I don't say on this blog. I always have a ton of things to say, but that's beside the point really. So please check out my new blog The Story of Strange Things and follow me there, please! Thank you :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

My blog finally looks how I want it to look. Same design, only more jhinchaak and as they say, with more razzmatazz.


Heard Joseph Stiglitz speak today. He only validated what we've all been thinking so far- 'lack of bank regulations and the wrong politics' can ruin a country. ( side note- I hardly ever speak about my own politics on this blog, and I am beginning to think that this is very irresponsible  of me. I  don't usually say anything in blogspace, because right wing rhetoric really pisses me off and I can't relate to it at all.It also makes me hate the person propounding it and instead of trying to put forth a reasoned argument, I lose my temper and scream and shout. That isn't a good excuse not to write, though. I promise to be far more vocal in the months to come.) However, the good news according to Stiglitz is that India, which is a service oriented country  will do better during the recession thanks to our services (think IT sector) and our banks being regulated. That said, the inequalities and injustices in India are far worse than say the United States. The first step is to try and bridge the divide between the haves and the have nots.

Updates

Also, I'm splitting my byline. All frivolous articles and stories I write for fun and other exciting thingummies ( did you know I can make toys and like to write about them sometimes?) will be published under Rhea Roy. My academic and journalistic stuff will be under Reeti Roy, as usual.

I am on the final edits of my dissertation and working on a couple of interesting projects. What have you guys been upto?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Excerpts from an actual letter, to a friend

Thought of sharing this with those who might be interested in studying in the U.K and on a more general level, applies to anyone living away from home for the first time.
Being in London has been exceptionally difficult. Not because of the students, not because of my university, not because of the women and men in pearl green woolover sweaters, suede suits or sharp jackets, but the people I see every day on the streets (more on that later). I live near Russell Square, in a place called Cartwright Gardens, which is a half hour walk from the University. The halls are mostly made up of undergrads and even though they are a lot of fun, they have a lot more time than we do, during term time. The postgrads are very isolated individuals- our schedules are all different and we hardly ever see each other so fostering friendships becomes near impossible. We all know each other, but it’s mostly light-hearted conversation (which is good too), but not as much interaction as I might have liked.

R and some other Masters students in the U.K. tell me that this typifies the British education system and, in many ways, is the reflection of the ethos that encompasses it.
What has made me even more confused after coming here is that I don’t even know what my primary identity should be- journalist, academic, policy analyst, human rights worker and for all these years, I was so sure that I wanted to be a journalist first and everything else later. The International Press certainly needs more people with a holistic understanding of the media and people who can think incisively but also synthesize all that information. I feel like a misfit both amongst journalists and academics. For the former, I am too intellectual and for the latter, I am much too pragmatic. It’s a role that I’ve really enjoyed so far and not had to choose from.
As completely geeky as this sounds, I enjoy intellectual rigor immensely and going to classes, listening to lectures about the environment, public health, history, geography, anthropology, the environment, as well as public policy has been nothing short of an enriching experience. Even though I feel like I should be working from next year, I know I want to go back and be a research scholar. The rigorous practice of actually writing ethnography will drive me insane, but it’ll do two very important things for me- know how to do rigorous research and defend it, write and impress an academic audience. It will also give me more credibility to work in International Organisations and being a specialist always helps. Also, I don’t feel like I’m completely done with school.
The thing is, one of my childhood dreams has been to go to _ journalism school and I don’t know how I will factor both of them in. Fun fact: did you know that a PhD in the U.K takes three years but most people fund their own PhDs. That’s a complete no-go for me, and unless I get funded, I’d probably have to. I guess I’d probably want my primary job to be that of a researcher and public policy analyst and that would free up some time for writing. I don’t think I can not write. On really dark days, playing with words is all I really know.
Working with X is actually one of the redeeming features of the week. Every day, I see ordinary people -people like you and I-wearing tattered clothes, with paint on their faces and pencils tucked behind their ears, sweating it out. There’s this boy I see every day, he’s about eighteen and if given a choice, he’d probably want to go to college as well. He often stops me on the street and asks me about what I study and I think he’s quite a bright spark- and then I think about all the people back home, who should get an education and are not, it makes me very sad. And the lack of humanity is also very disconcerting. I hope I don’t grow into one of those people who shuts everything out and never does anything constructive by way of ensuring that kids are educated and well looked after. And working with children of refugees actually makes one understand how destitute these kids really are, unsheltered, unprotected, not knowing what tomorrow holds for them. Some children have never known their own homes, being carried from one shelter to another; they come from countries like Ghana, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, The Ivory Coast.
Many of their parents have been intellectuals in their own country, they have spoken out against dictatorial regimes, they have condemned massacres, some of them will be executed as soon as they set foot on their home soil again. Most of these people are Asylum Seekers i.e. those who have not even been granted Refugee Status. Some are condemned because of their homosexuality and others, because of their religion.
As I write this, two people outside my window are stacking up multicoloured books and strewing flowers on the pavement. Thank you for making me actually write this- it helped me put things into perspective.


Lalala!


I woke up feeling like this. Not smug, not happy but horrendously impish. And then proceeded to get on with my day. This picture was taken in my room in London, and with the inbuilt camera of my computer. The background is a dupatta that I hung on the wall of my room so that it would look cheery and I wouldn't feel too sad or lonely in the cold. I have already talked about how last year was not the easiest for me, but I am slowly discovering that there are all kinds of things that I feel excited about and am beginning to learn. Especially things that one can create-jewellery, bags, cartoons, handmade notebooks. My new blog, the story of strange things will document that, and travels, and all the interesting things I read. I would want this blog to be simply about what's going on in my life and have a separate one that is more funky and fun. Also, I haven't cheated on my blog even once. I have remained utterly faithful. I am not a serial blogcheater. Repeat after me, I am NOT a serial blogcheater.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dealing with low self esteem/ bad body image

(Thank you to my friends Homer and Anumita  who thought I should absolutely write about this. Here it is)

An ex-boyfriend once commented on how fat and unattractive I was. Luckily for me, he is the only boyfriend to have ever said something so nasty and insensitive, but I am pretty certain that he is not the only person out there who has treated his partner badly. There are all forms of abuse and this is definitely one form. I would say that I am a fairly confident person and I do not usually take peoples' snide remarks to heart. But I want to know from other women (if they are willing to disclose, of course), have they experienced more hurt when the insults have come from someone who they have dated/ been with?

This wasn't all. My writing was torn down and I was called names. Toxic relationships are awful and the worst part is not being able to get out of them. Mine lasted for almost one and a half years and once I was out of it, I could feel the breeze on my face, stare at the blue sky and appreciate all the things I used to appreciate. I didn't know that this could suck the life out of me. I am prone to depression in any case (and I don't mean it in a casual sense. I have had problems with it before) and this did not make things better for me.

I Know I felt terrible about my body and myself and in trying to deal with it, I did two things. a. I wrote detailed letters to my best friend who handled me with kid gloves at the time and b. I took pictures of myself every single day. On some days, I looked nice, some days I thought I looked not so nice, but I made peace with who I was. And who I am. And what I looked like.This idea wasn't entirely original. My aunt once told me that one of the Gender Studies majors at one of the universities she teaches in once did a project on girls' bodies where she asked individuals to take pictures of themselves for a period of three months and submit them anonymously. The idea behind the project was to ensure that all sorts of bodies, shapes and sizes are appreciated.

However, I did deal with it and I have lots and lots of pictures of myself ( I hate taking pictures but I took one picture everyday for the entire year) and if anyone wants me to put them up, I will.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thank you

A journalist that I respect very much-Mridu Khullar Relph- and I started chatting when I chanced upon her blog and wrote her an email telling her about my work as a journalist who had just started out. We struck up a  friendship and Mridu went out of her way to advise and help me. What it made me realise though is that sometimes, all you need to do is reach out and politely ask for help. 
There are a lot of people in the world who are really interested in your work and wish to help you further your goals. Two other people who have been instrumental in furthering my writing goals are Julie Schwietert Collazo and David Miller. Julie ran the Matador Change website and I had first pitched an article to her about Social Entrepreneurs in India. Slowly, we began exchanging emails and discussing everything from Arundhati Roy to the "Day of the Dead". David has painstakingly edited my travel narratives and once gave me a very important piece of advice about my writing-he said to me "don't front" i.e write in as authentic a manner as possible.
Another person I must mention here is the lovely Alyssa Martino. Alyssa and I are writing buddies and often check in on each other specifically in terms of our work- often editing each others' works and pushing each other. Rudrani and I also run our works by each other before we actually submit something. 
The other day, while I was working on my dissertation I realised that I needed to understand the concept of boredom far more intricately than I know, for now. I had heard about an urban ethnographer with an interest in space and place, and knew that he may have insights that I might be able to use in my own dissertation. He wrote back within three days with a complete list of citations and other people that he had worked closely with,that I might want to contact. 
From last year, I have also been receiving emails almost every other day about how to get published or how to apply for specific scholarships. I reply to every single email without fail, even if I feel like I am stretched for time because I know  the thousands of people who were once unknown to me, but who have become great friends and have helped me in the past and continue to help me, support me, give me invaluable advice and act as mentors. Many of my closest friends have volunteered to read drafts of things I write, comment on them, critique them and correct typos for me- all because they wanted to ensure that I can put forth my best work. All my professors have been ever-ready to speak to me and give me advice about academic concerns whenever I have been confused in terms of what my next step should be. 
Literary work, journalistic writing and academia can often be isolating processes. It's great to have the help and support of your mentors and peers. This post is just to let all of you know what a huge part you have played and continue to play in my growth as a writer and as a person.

:)


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yay yay yay!

After scouring the internets the Entire day, I can tell you the name of the book. Shabinay Nibedan  (Ananda Publishers)which rougly translates as "respectfully submitted". In the process of looking for the book, I finished reading Ektu Ushnotar Jonyo and Shukher Kacche. (If anyone wants PDFs, let me know. I'd be happy to send them across)

I finally know which book my literary antecedent belongs to :D

Monday, October 17, 2011

Forests

I have never been to a forest in my entire life. I don't exactly know why that is, and I've always envied my friends whose parents/ relatives have worked for the forestry department. My own great-uncle, who we lovingly call Cchordada, spent a great many years in the forests. My parents have thousands of stories to tell about their days in different forests of the country   but after my siblings and I were born, we have never ever visited one or even gone close to one.

One of the things that I want to do in the almost immediate future is to go to one of the forests in India ( recommendations, please!)

Part 2 of this story is even more interesting. I was named after a character in a book that was published in serialised form in Desh Patrika. The story was written by Buddhadeb Guha, a Chartered accountant who is also a very well-known author in Bengal. The woman in the story, the protagonist was  called Reeti Roy and she was a really stubborn woman with a bit of a feminist streak who visits a forest for the first time in her life. There she meets a handsome forest officer called Rajarshi ( Alas, I know NO Rajarshis- the one I know is like my uncle!) who is a fabulous cook, listens to the greatest music on earth, is slightly sarcastic and is a bit of a poet. She leaves something behind in the forest bungalow and from then onwards begins an exchange of letters.

The entire book is written in epistolary form. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the book. If any of you happen to have read it, please let me know. I want to re-read it. Anyway, I identified with the girl very much and the man i.e Rajarshi wrote very nice letters. That would be Such an excellent way to be chased! Subtle and discreet, but very effective, nevertheless :P


 Baba, who decided to name me after the character, gave the book to me on my 16th birthday. I was a little bit scared to read the book, lest I really dislike it. But turns out- I loved it. Well, if I find out the name of the book, I shall buy it from Flipkart and read it again. I distinctly remember that there were vivid descriptions of the forest in the book. I don't know why, but I'm dying to visit a forest and see Elephants with huge tusks. They are called tuskers, I think.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Published Essay

For those who wanted to read my  Essay for Chicken Soup, here it is :


http://the-magic-ink-stand.blogspot.com/p/published-essay.html

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Remembering

A large chunk of my dissertation has to do with memory and how people and societies remember.  So I have been grappling with these concepts a lot, lately.My elder brother's best friend came over today and we were discussing incidents and events and we realised that we remembered the same events rather differently. This made me think about all the people I have shared spaces with-some of whom I don't see anymore, some of whom I am not in touch with and I wonder if they remember things the same way I do. Chances are, they don't.

For instance, some of the things that were said were absolutely revelatory and even amusing. Maybe we should all write/ share our own versions of stories and discuss it with our friends and family to see who remembers what, and how. It could be interesting.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I watched a rather horrid film the other day. It is called A Little Bit of Heaven. Even though I was really really put off from the second scene itself, I watched the entire film. The reason for this can be attributed to one man and one man alone- Gael Garcia Bernal. What I don't understand is this- why a man as articulate, as intelligent ( and let me not even BEGIN on how beautiful the man is- and not in a plasticky hollywoody Tom-cruise Brad-Pitt way,  both of whom by the way I do not find the least bit attractive) do films like Letters to Juliet and A little bit of heaven?*
The fact that he has done films like Amores Perros, The Motorcycle Diaries, Y Tu Mama Tambien and Babel, has made it so much easier for me to ogle him and like him and actually WATCH and appreciate the films. And now this! Senor Bernal, the fact that you're in it will make me watch the worst films. So please pick your roles carefully, so I don't have to go through the torture of having to watch horrendous films like A Little Bit of Heaven again.


* I am not going on a tirade against chick flicks. But there *is* such a thing called good films and bad films.



Monday, October 10, 2011

Streamline or diversify?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately- is it better to streamline and write only about very specific things or to have a wider repertoire and a larger, more diverse body of work?For instance, I've grown up reading Chicken Soup books and Tinkle and Amar Chitra Kathas and enjoyed them immensely, but I'm possibly fonder of a Kazuo Ishiguro or a Paul Harding. Should my aim then be to restrict myself,try and write only for certain kinds of publications ( out of fear that I might be slotted?) or simply write for anything that does not offend my own sensibilities?These thoughts led to me sharing my concerns with a couple of friends who thought I should diversify.

My aim is to produce writing that not just appeals to me and to a specific audience, but also writing that has mass appeal. And I don't want to try and compromise on a niche piece i.e try writing it in a way so as to have it appeal to a non-specialist reader. I mean, I can live with my pluralism but will people reading my writing get confused? Am I going to appear to be someone with no real focus?


What do you think- streamline or diversify? What are your reasons for each?**


** I have decided to write about anything I feel like (writing about).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

QUOTE OF THE MILLENIUM

When I suggested to Ma that she should do another degree, since she loves studying


Ma : Tumi MFA koro, ami tahole CFA korbo.


My parents are rockstars. Really.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Home is where the heart is, etcetera

 Everybody knows everybody. Six degrees of separation and the person is your brother's friend, friend's brother, brother's friend's sister, friend's cat's owner's son, and the worst part is, chances are, everybody knows everybody. As a 'burgeoning anthropologist',I have many things to say about this, but we shall reserve my judgments for now and continue with the whining till I successfully manage to cheese everyone off.
It's all well and good when it resembles the first part of the Ekta Kapoor  saas bahu saga- which, come to think of it now, feels like it was shot in the stone age. Much has happened while I was away and Ms Kapoor has graduated to "happening" things like Ragini MMS, and Dirty Picture. But We Digress Here.
The point I am trying to make here, and this is a Very Serious Point- one that should not be taken lightly at all- is the fact that EVERYBODY KNOWS EVERY FREAKING BODY. We all know how that goes, with all the infighting and the ridiculously fragile egos which are frankly more amusing than irritating or annoying.   A very imaginative "what's up? how's life" when the only real thought in your head is that you would really just like to clobber the person on the head, thank you verymuch. Or hear interesting stories about criminals who 'earmarked' their victims by cutting their heads off and playing football with them. Or about a straight-laced boy who made pie charts and bar graphs to track his income and expenditure- who decided that all of this wasn't worth it and that Macchu Picchu was the answer. Or maybe a penthouse in The Caribbean. Or Angola. (While you're reading this, to me a favour and donate to my penthouse in the Caribbean fund. Go on, do it. Don't waste time).
Anyway, like I was saying in the beginning ,everyone knows everyone.The sexy aunties and the parar dadas, the goodboys, the badgirls, the hep and the coolios, the amazing phuchkawalla who cheats us everytime without fail and we have to pay up irrespective of everything. 
And what happens at the end of the day? At the end of the day, You get a  lime green T-shirt from your father which says, "Get a natural High...climb trees." 
You can only imagine what a stressful day it has been. Thums up, and only thums up can save the world.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

My sister has always maintained that I am really filmy. And very recently, a few hours of my life resembled an excellently made chick flick. I have to write it all down before I forget.

Updates

First publication in a book- That, after a year of not writing anything at all. I'm still working on my dissertation but it's been too long and I do not wish to sever ties with  something I really enjoy doing. Obviously a lot more relaxed than before, but my head is brimming with ideas and I am absolutely raring to go. Over the last year, I have learnt so much and it is time to implement all the learning and also experiment, play with words and language and ideas, and see where it takes me. I've also decided to start painting again- not writing, painting, playing a musical instrument makes me fidgety and irritable and an all-round  jumpy person.

I also met a very inspiring person- I'm not sure if said entity is aware and maybe I should tell them at some point, but in some ways the last year has been a pretty low year for me in many ways. I hope I can come out of the entire experience stronger and better. I think I also have enough distance from it to acknowledge that I succumbed to lack of  self belief . 

All of this said, I must thank my support system. You know who you are- especially the one person who went through a whole lot of it with me. You should know that no matter what we go through in life, the ups and the downs, the one third thing really helped ( lame, I know) and you were really there for me when I needed you. In fact, were it not for you I don't know how I would have found the strength within myself to brush myself and stand back up. I know I've been extremely difficult in every possible way and you've been like a rock. Thanks for being my friend  despite everything else. That's what I truly cherish.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

From If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda

"Well, now
If little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you
Little by little
If suddenly you forget me
Do not look for me
For I shall already have forgotten you

If you think it long and mad the wind of banners that passes through my life
And you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots
Remember
That on that day, at that hour, I shall lift my arms
And my roots will set off to seek another land" **



**I wish I'd gotten a better translation.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I will..

1. Get a Phd and teach! 
2. Have 500 published credits by the time I'm 25.
3. Live on all five continents  by the time I am 35.
4. Write A book. Maybe the only book I ever write, but write it. Before I say Bye Bye.
At the moment, all seem so daunting that I decided to post them publicly so I cannot back out.
I'm also tired of not doing things out of fear. Fear cripples me, and I am always second guessing and not trusting myself to do things. And I don't just mean work. I mean life in general.
It affects everything- my work, my personal relationships and I turn into this whiney, clingy thing. The one thing that I used to be proud of was my determination and even that wavered last year. However, the really good thing that came out of it is that I  finally feel like I am enough. I don't need to do things to prove a point.
5. Travel travel travel. Need taka :(
6.  Eventually, be a journalist on the lines of Nick Kristof. Have real impact and try and write about international issues and issues that plague India, specifically. 
7. Have my own travel show about cultures

Bhakk!

I had a very very crappy start to the day
I thought of this phrase today : Idle worship . Its meaning would be useless exalting of an ordinary human being to the status of the extraordinary.
And then I found a Facebook game with the same name.
Love is just a four letter word etcetera.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

:(

I woke up thinking of this person and this and this person today and I suddenly had the urge to sit and drink endless cups of coffee with you and giggle about inane things again.


Ah well, October isn't far away and on my wishlist is many many kababs and lots of things to do during the pujo and a trip to Ladakh.



Sunday, July 17, 2011

Please god, please let these two months be over so I can have my life back?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Funny? Not so funny?

Maybe I should stop grinning like a maniac! I woke up this morning to find that one of my chief sources of traffic is I teeth whitening dot com. In other news, I did not fail my exams. I have done surprisingly well. Here's hoping that the dissertation goes well too.

It's brilliant weather in London and I have been roaming the streets and getting to know the place more than I have in the last few months. I could get used to living here I suppose, but probably not forever. There are so many countries and continents I want to live in. I hope I get to live on all five continents in my life and travel and properly see as many places as I can.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Two people I've known since I was a child passed away recently.  Both of these people were only a couple of years older than I am now. Their deaths have really made me examine the way I live my life and the things that are important to me. We really only get one shot to be the best version of ourselves and as my best friend put it today, it's important to remember not to treat it as a birthright, but acknowledge that it is a privilege and do the best we can before our time is up.

I hope I can live the remainder of my life with as much honesty, integrity and courage as I can muster.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

This day

Unauthorized persons prohibited beyond this point, it says in white and red. The regular. The sign of a man, walking away into the distance.

The red tiles have leafy green patches, peering discreetly, almost apologetic by their sudden appearance. Upwards and onwards, onwards and upwards, they seem to whisper.

The sky is electric blue and the full moon stares menacingly at the North Sea Fish restaurant. I wonder how many people are eating fresh fish for dinner.

This is the day I will remember for the piercing incongruence, the day I fought to salvage the little scabs that were left of what Auden would have called a crooked heart. I wonder if he's smiling wryly somewhere, having described the human condition in a way no one else can.

This is also the day I will remember as the day I thought that  life runs in loops and circles, vulnerability enmeshed with resilience.This is the day I will remember for being the day that I was remorseful and joyous.

The vertical buildings form arcs above my head. The clouds stand still, some hovering around in a grandfatherly fashion, ever ready to whisper to their little ones, "Don't worry. everything will be alright."

Dimly lit window panes betray faces fraught with pain. From the corner of my eye, I see brick red roofs, years and years old looking freshly painted by a young artist's  tactile enthusiasm.

As I sit on the portico, I cut  a diminutive figure against the love, blood and sweat of the ancients as my paper thin heart gets crushed without the slightest blink.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Three down, one more exam to go. I've been reading about group rights in Cape cod and Malagasy funerary rites, development projects of NGOs across the world, actors and agents in the public and private sectors. I don't think I'll do very well in the exams, but I can't say I've learnt absolutely nothing. If anything, the course itself has been quite fulfilling and I've read and known about a ton of things I couldn't have known otherwise. It's been so taxing that I definitely need to work for a few years after this and get out of university for a while, but I can see more academics in the future.

I haven't written anything in a while, but I have been doing other interesting work, something I hope to build on and do more of while I write up my dissertation. My much needed hiatus from writing is also over. I figured that the extra practice will help when I'm writing my dissertation anyway. 

After the exams, I'll travel a bit and I have a few mundane things lined up as well, which as of now, are too boring to talk about. 

I'm very thankful that I finally have the courage to love someone and not fight it, which is usually what I do and then just date someone I don't really want to.


I'm also happy that it is someone I've trusted, respected and done crazy things with for more than one third of my life. I want to say thank you for being so patient.

After a few months of excruciating loneliness here and getting to know the place better, I think I've come out of the experience much stronger and more peaceful and self confident.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Happy Birthday!


Happy Birthday, Raka.  I can't believe you turned 20. From concocting tall tales about giant icies to locking someone up in the toilet, you've come a long way. Have a great year and chew lots of you know what :P

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I know all the creative ways to make Maggi now. Does that count as achievement?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Swinging between worlds is not something you  can do too well. Ideas, shapes, dreams can sometimes only ever remain that. During other times, especially during spring, one can discover and dissuade, dissect and dissolve. Sometimes the right answers are still not the right answers and the wrong answers don't seem to be making any sense either. Having had ideal scenarios playing out the man with the pot of gold who couldn't sleep at night because he thought he'd lose it becomes strangely ironic, even moronic. Then you go to sleep in bed feeling like a kaleidoscope, a bit disturbed and more often than not, heart-wrenchingly numb. 

Tired out from the day's struggle  you shut out the rest of the world, you read poetry on a stand, you hear things, you see things, you feel. You feel till you can't feel anymore and tell yourself oh god, please let this stop.And then it does, but you don't want it to, because stopping would mean the end. And the end would mean a fresh beginning. And then you'd have to grapple with the realities all over again. And then it would be a pattern. A cyclical pattern that you would break and evolve from, break and evolve from. And then you wouldn't think you were the proverbial phoenix anymore, just a shattered soul somewhere along the dusty streets of anywhere and everything would seem the same. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I have the best family and friends in the whole world

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Peaceworks Reports

...finally uploaded!


I did some  Identity, Gender and Human Rights reporting for Peaceworks while I was working with The Seagull Foundation For The Arts on a different project. The pieces are now available online and here are the links.
Identity Session at the Akshar School
Human Rights Session 1 and 2, Akshar School

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

See you after the exams!

I deactivated my facebook account today ( only temporarily, will be back). In the meanwhile, feel free to send me emails and I'll answer them as soon as I'm done. I spend way too much time on YouTube and on streaming sites watching Big Bang Theory, Castle and whatnot. I've suddenly realised that my exams are coming up and if I don't study, I will flunk. This is not a subject I have any prior knowledge of and unlike Eng Lit, I can't wing it in the social sciences.

So a temporary bye bye to all of you and please pray for me! *Shudder*

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I did something today that I never imagined that I'd have the guts to do. Everyday, I surprise myself.



Sometimes, I think that the only thing that matters is human connection.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I have a humongous crush on someone but I don't feel like acting on it. I only feel like giggling. Heeheeheehee!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Evil Sundays look good when Sachin scores a century! :D

Not so much when there's a TIE in a world cup match.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I have always disliked definitions

I have always disliked definitions. I understand the need for them and I have read enough theorists to be utterly convinced by now of its needs. But I've always thought of definitions as social constructs, defined only to be  challenged and questioned. When I was younger, I would often stare out of the window and think of words and objects and why they mean what they mean. Growing up, I'd always imagined that I'd be a linguist of some sort. I also wanted to be someone who spent hours at the library, looking up archives and someone who spent months and months in a foreign land, discovering its intricacies. I once blithely told my mother that I wanted to be an artist, a singer and a writer. And a good person.

As I grew older, the categories felt trite and I was also gripped by the fear of not making it. It didn't help when I was asked questions like, That's all great, but what about a 'real' job? I stopped thinking about my dreams, and my ambitions and the fact that the point hadn't been to make it in the first place. I've always believed that any creative work should be given a chance and then, once it's out there in the universe, it's for people to accept or reject it. The piece could be self-gratifying,dreamlike- anything at all that a person wants to create, because I think as individuals and societies constantly in flux and interacting with one another, there is so much to learn, so much to share and so very much to create.

I began to try to focus on certain things and exclude others. The entire process somewhat got me the desired results, but made me question everything I was doing even more. 

I will get a 'real' job, but I'm not giving up on my dreams. I have to decided to actively work towards them as well.


 I don't see why I can't do everything that I want to do. At times it will be difficult and trying, but I'd rather live exactly the way I want to.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spooked!

As a child, I was terrified at the thought of having to sleep alone.

My father, in his attempt to put us all to sleep by midnight, had created a rather horrific version of Wee Willie Winkie. Unlike the lovely, blonde-haired blue eyed Wee Willie Winkie  in children's books, Baba had created this power-hungry manipulative monster, who would put little children in white sacks and then tie the mouth of the sack with rope.
That wouldn't be all. They would all be ducked in icy-cold water.


Right outside our house at the time was a mistir dokan* which sold, apart from the usual sandesh and Rosogolla, sorbhaja, cchanar jilipi and their own rather innovative sweetmeats. In restrospect, I think it was a father-son venture and since it was just the two of them workingly zealously to keep the shop alive, they would clean their utensils up until three in the morning and would fry things till midnight. Since the shops were within earshot, I would hear the unmistakeable sound of sizzling oil and ask my mother questions. Ma would be too tired to speak.


My father, undaunted by my barrage of questions, would answer instead of her, "Jomraj baje lokder koraye bhajje". The thought of the lord of the underworld ( I was too young to know about the financers of Bollywood films) actually frying bad people was also an extremely scary thought, but the combination of the two ensured that I could not sleep at night. My poor father thought that this was an effective strategy of putting his daughter to sleep. Little did he know that I was creating newer monsters in my head with each passing day, giving them colours, characteristics and telling myself that they were part of this large group that I might have to fight off, one day.

So, while everyone slept, I lay awake, sometimes listening to the frying sounds and at other times, looking at the large jamrul tree outside the window and noticing a frightened squirrel scarper past, hoping no one had noticed it. 

I don't remember ever owning a barbie doll, and even if I did, I think my parents insisted on not getting me any when I was a little girl. Instead, my brother had a monkey and I had a tiger which I named B.B.D Bag, after the buses I saw on the roads everyday. B.B.D Bag is- I am happy to say- still alive, although he has been missing a ear for almost thirteen years now.

Coming back to the question of being mortified of sleeping in the first place, I woke up this morning to a blustering wind outside my windowpane. In my paranoia, I actually thought that someone was knocking on the window with alarming alacrity.

In my dream-induced state, I felt like there were bears and werewolves outside my window, and instead of a happy thought ( them doing a moonlit dance, them having a party), I dreamt that they wanted to eat me.

I awoke with a start, drank some water and listened to Owl City's Fireflies on loop. Then I went back to garner some undisturbed sleep .

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What's on in my head

Dissertation Topic  Laundry  Volunteer Training 
Human Rights Essay on Violence Against Women and Social Suffering  
Ishiguro, T.S Eliot and Paul Muldoon
Literature Review
Work on Asylum Seekers. I love Colin Firth so much. Great looking, likes Claude Levi-Strauss and stopped voting labour because of their immigration policies.
BLOODY BUREAUCRACY

Need to fill in forms for accommodation.
Dealing with children
 maps and journeys- pointing them out on maps. 
DON'T FORCE YOUR LEFT-HANDED KIDS TO WRITE WITH THEIR RIGHT HANDS. THEY MIGHT JUST STAMMER. WATCH KING'S SPEECH CAREFULLY.
Really impressed with an artist who uses oil tanks to create art.
Stress, nervousness, feelings of inadequacy
Thai Curry? Jerk Chicken?





Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Love Letter

Well, what can I say? Egypt is free and there's certainly hope for all of us still, as individuals and as communities to make a difference. 

When I spoke to both of you, the one thing that struck me was the disappointment in your voice and tone. There's hope still, and I know it is difficult to deal with living breathing relics of the past. People, places, associations, even non-associations dent the way we see and perceive the world. But it's all too easy to give it up, think that there is no more use and become cynical. You two are amongst the brightest, most beautiful and the kindest women that I know. Don't let these incidents change that. With your creativity, passion, ambition and zest for life, you can have anything...and I mean anything that you want.

I know that both these incidents have shaken you and crushed you, but I also believe in you and I know that you'll laugh this off one day and understand how this does not even fit into the larger picture. Being hurt is never pleasant, but  most importantly, know that there are thousands of other people in the world, who love you, who respect you, and who would go to the ends of the earth for you. 


I know I definitely would.






Thursday, February 10, 2011

Haircut!




                                                                
                                                    

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This is my new favourite website :


http://www.gapingvoid.com/


and I absolutely love this :



Monday, February 7, 2011

Help!!!

To do this week :

Today- Write 2 essays-3,000 words each for tutorial. And while we're at it, finish CV. Clean room, wash dishes and other assorted things.

Tomorrow-Write at least 500 words for discussion on the Anthropology of Religion. Read for Seminars.

Wednesday- attend tutorials and 3 rep meetings.

Thursday- class from ten to five. Speak to advisors about dissertation

And this is a typical week.

If I finish this course and then come back and do a Phd at some point in my life, know that I have such burning enthusiasm that I can't be contained. Or that I have exhausted all my other options.


 Otherwise, it's not happening.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Literary Delights- Books I'm Reading Now

July's People : Nadine Gordimer

 Revolutionary Road : Richard Yates
The Kalahari Typing School For Men : Alexander Mccall Smith
 Rumpole and the Golden Thread : John Mortimer
 Rain-Charm for The Duchy : Ted Hughes

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Year Resolutions 2011

I realised that I listed some things in my 2010 resolution that could not happen well, in 2010. So I might list them here again, but they are few and far between. These are in random order and not in order of importance.

1. Read a 100 books this year ( a paltry 26 last year. This has to improve)
2. Watch only a 100 films ( 300+ last year. I think I watched a movie a day)
3.Join a gym ( joined) exercise, swim, lose weight and regain stamina.
4. Read 50 ethnographies, fiction notwithstanding.
5. Read the JRAI and the Guardian everyday.
6. Go for more exhibitions at the Tate
7. Watch at least 6 operas and 6 plays
8. Volunteer with a human rights organisation ( volunteering from next week)
9. Apply for some funding for a project I feel strongly about.
10.Get an internship and then a job.
11. Travel to at least two new countries in Europe, hopefully work in one!
12.Get a distinction.
13. Write the best possible dissertation and hand it in on time.
14. Learn time management.
15. Read up and learn intensively about the following arenas- politics, gender, human rights, education and healthcare. ( Technically, the last two are also human rights, but I mean it more in the policy sense).
16. Get to know and converse with really, fun smart and exciting people who are not necessarily involved in my academic programme.
17. Volunteer with the Globe if time permits.
18.Look for jobs in development, market research, human rights organisations and in the public sector. Be proactive about it.
19.Try more new cuisines ( Tried lebanese, mexican, nigerian, japanese so far)
20. Learn more about the underground music scene. Go to more clubs.
21.Finish reading Ishiguro's novel ( When I finish this one, I shall have read all his published works till date).
22. Watch the Apu Trilogy.
23. Learn to cook 3 cuisines, super-well!
24. Write at least 5 essays for myself and 5 for publication.
25.Learn to be more diplomatic ( getting there!)
26. Not own any more moleskines.
27. Admit to myself that when I am down and out, I enjoy formula fiction, cheesy nachos and chicken wings.
28. Stop having inflammatory conversations with people who say things like "women should just do housework." Just smile and walk away. Or not smile. Basically, not waste my time.
29.Have at least four academic writing samples that I can be proud of.
30. Go to Dharamsala if I can go home this year.
31.Make time for the Butterfly Project.
32. Not miss deadlines for things that I am in interested in.
33. Write fabulous essays by the end of the year.
34. Write a book review for a very well-respected women's magazine ( Insert name if published).
35.Keep writing on this blog, and write about the book I read/ things I did and films I watched.
36. Go to more places by tube. It's amazing!
37.Write more letters to Baba and Ma, to siblings and to friends.
38. Not react immediately. Hear people out. Sometimes, they are much less provocative than they appear to be.
39. Own more pretty earrings!
40. Believe in my abilities
41. Meet at least four people who really inspire me- if not meet, at least write them super-sweet and not stalkerish letters about why they inspire me. Unfortunately, I can't write to Dravid. That would turn out to be stalkerish no matter how hard I try.
42. Learn to walk in high heels without tripping over.
43. Wear dresses in summer.
44.Clean my room more often. Hopefully, have a bigger room. 
45. Write at least three pieces a month.
46. Send out my writing more often.
46. Find out what "North Face"is.
47.Run the Half marathon.
48.Stay off alcohol, mostly. Apart from wine.And occasionally beer.
49.Learn how to write a CV. 
50. Read all the books bought from Skoob.
51. Learn how to use the kindle.
52. Get better at reading maps.
53. Not be afraid to make a complete ass of myself. 
54.  When in doubt, ask the most silly questions, even if they are extremely silly.
55. Ask someone how to put the accent on top of French names in Microsoft Word.
56.Respond to more emails.
57. Organise more pub nights.
58. Get to know my classmates better.
59. Learn the subtle and not-so-subtle art of networking. Network with the genuine intention of getting to know people.
59. Submit essays to publications in the UK. 
60. Write more short stories.
61. Really understand how things fit in within the anthropological discipline by the time I graduate.
62. Smile more.
63. Be able to laugh at myself.
64... and not too much at others.
65. Watch more Leonardo Dicaprio and Johnny Depp films.
66. Learn more about the work of Noam Chomsky.
67. Read up more on political philosophy.
68. Always look neat.
69. Get at least 10 published credits this year, all of which is good work.
70. Go to the library more often.
71. Read to little children.
72. Help someone with painting.
73. Go on a road-trip
74. Go scuba diving and rappelling again.
75. Teach a class.
76. Visit a prison.
77. Wake up as soon as the alarm rings.
78.Volunteer to teach in a village school ( May happen in 2012)
79. Be more organised.
80. Learn to let go of people and forgive them if they've hurt me.
81. Forgive myself.
82.Lie in bed and listen to the rain.
83. See the London skyline on a moonlit night.
84. Try to not be fatalistic.
85. Be more open to new ideas.
86. Start learning a new language by the end of the year.
87.Go to more places of worship.
89. Go into a synagogue.
90. Witness more demonstrations. This time, maybe even cover it.
91. Learn more swear words in different languages.
92.Add more countries to the places I want to travel when I turn thirty list ( 15 so far).
93. Get a job that allows me to have time to write.
94. Get a job in the first place.
95.Join a choir.
96.  Make friends with people from my grandfather's generation.
97.  Take good care of health; eat right.
98. Push for excellence; not create boundaries.
99. Try to be a better person.
100. Get flowers to brighten up my room