Slightly disoriented

Song of the post: Nee thoreda, Lucia.

I woke up slightly early today and I’m looking around my room and the window and feeling the slightly-chilly-slightly-humid-breeze and staring at the ceiling and unable to actually remember what part of the world is real and what part is unreal.

My second semester is almost ending, and like last semester, we have field work. This time, it’s in a rural area of the country and we got back a few days ago for Holi (popularly known as the festival of colours; not really a fan of this festival) which happens to be today, and we will be leaving again tomorrow.

While our stay at the rural fieldwork feels close to a vacation spot (sharing rooms with friends, spending quiet evenings working in the living room, simple but tasty home food and what not), the actual fieldwork itself is beyond anything that I’ve ever imagined. I don’t think I can say much more than that but while we were travelling from the railway station back to the campus, everything seemed so unreal. All the quiet dryness of the village just instantly got replaced with buildings and vehicles and traffic. The sky that was a mesmerizing inky dark blue with an open packet of silver glitter on the loose turned a dark, murky blue with the moon outshining everything. I can still hear some birds outside my room in the campus but it’s not the same. So many facilities and yet there’s no much unhappiness in each of us actually getting to use them.

I’m leaving again tomorrow for less than a week and everything just feels incredibly surreal.

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Summer is here

Song of the post: Air by WINNER.

After so much sweating and complaining and complaining about sweating, I’m sort of glad that summer is here.

I’m also sort of sad. With summer coming in, it signifies the end of an academic year, which means a lot of good-byes. Sensibly, I didn’t become close friends with any of the seniors this time because that stuff hurts. Been there, done that. But it still feels sad. All the regulars that I see in the dining hall will soon be replaced with newbies and by the time I become familiar with them, I’ll be the one leaving.

It was a little sad today eating in the DH. Funny, because I actually ate with a bunch of people. It was sad because the DH was really quiet. When I came, it was such a lively place. Football matches were going on and I could hear shouts and yells all the way to my room. I see people packing up and waiting for cabs for perhaps the last time ever on campus.

It’s also very nostalgic because this was exactly around the time I had visited the campus for my interviews and I had thought, this would not be a bad place to study. One year in, I will stand by my words. It’s not a bad place to study.

I began writing this late Saturday night and it has transitioned into Sunday and even though I have an exam in about 13 hours (yes, we’re pressed for time so we had to compromise and write exams on Sunday), I took a walk in campus to take a break from taking so many breaks watching a K-drama or scrolling through Instagram, from making pointless notes. There’s only so many times that you can scroll though it in one night and not get sick of it. And the midnight was so much more beautiful than the night after dinner. The clouds have begun appearing and it’s just magic, I tell you.

The fan has been on in my room since afternoon and the room smells…weird. Like it always had before during the humid seasons but now that I notice that it’s back, it will take some time getting used to.

Moon diaries

Just like the Sun and the Stars and the Clouds and the Wind, the Moon was also an important part of my upbringing. Unlike the Sun, one can stare at the Moon for however long you want and never feel bored and tired or strain your eyes and you can never get enough.

I am the youngest in my house, which means, ever since I could talk and walk on my own, I was sent out to buy the small grocery stuff that was essentially needed at that moment: like a packet of curd, or a few lemons. And after a few years, I volunteered to go, almost always, because there was something very liberating to walk about on your own during the darker parts of the day, even if it was just to the next street. It also meant that I could talk to all my friends without the weird stares of my family.

And then there was the Moon. I always considered the Moon as a ‘she’, and I don’t know why. Maybe because of the sheer radiance that reminds me of a woman’s soul? Maybe because except for the Hindu Mythologies, all the others consider her a lady? Or maybe because of the way she looks over us at night that is somewhat motherly? It could be all these things. It is probably none of these things.

But, ‘she’ is not always a ‘she’.

The Moon is unforgettable on its fullest day. On its fullest day, it looks majestic, like a warrior, without its usual silver radiance, which is replaced by a slight golden-ish hue. On its fullest day, it looks closer and bigger, and you feel your arms involuntarily trying to reach out and grab it. You are automatically gravitated towards it.

On its fullest day, it is whoever it wants to be.

The Moon can be a She and the Moon can be a He. The Moon can be neither, or the Moon can be both.

It just depends on your mood, and mine. The Moon, as observed by scientists, shows the same face every fortnight, to all of us. I wonder how humans would be if that was replicated. I think that’s just one of the reasons why I fail to capture her through my phone lens. It just never does justice.

This is one of those documents from the folder “still working”. I just thought I’d share it here because I was sort of feeling like this was just perfect.

Cheating on used-to-be-favourites

There’s a reason why favourites are dangerous. At one point in your life, you think, “Oh my gosh, this is the best things ever. I will remember it for all my life and be a part of it!” and as some time passes by, you discover something else, not necessarily new and shiny, but new to you and the old thing lay forgotten. And the worst part is, you don’t even want to feel bad about it. You just think, “Huh, I’ve just grown up.”

Is that what happened? Do we just grow up when we switch or change favourites? That band that you liked as a child is suddenly the last thing on your mind even when they release a new album. Those pens that you found accidentally in a shop, those which were the best things in your life at that moment, is at the bottom of your pouch.

I came about writing this post to talk about how I have not been going to my regular restaurant for coffee because I found a better one, just a two minutes’ walk away. They serve coffee in steel glasses with cups and it is frothy and once, one of waiters even got us extra dicoction in a little cup that Mishel and I went crazy over.

The first time I came here, the only thing I was fussy about was not being able to get decent filter coffee. Which shouldn’t have even been my concern because, seriously, Pappa has drilled it in my head to “be a Roman when in Rome.” I refused to eat dosas for first two whole months when I was here. Eventually I gave in, but I tried so hard to resist. I gave in for coffee pretty much on the day I was here.

This first restaurant was right next to the hotel where Pappa and I were staying last June, when he was here to drop me off. It had light purple furniture and I found it to be so adorable. I still do. It is also warm and nice. The first waiter that we ever got was a Kannadiga, like me. And it felt safe to go there by myself and it felt nice to make small talk with that waiter. Later I discovered many others were Kannadigas too, and it become a place of frequent visit, at least to speak to someone in flesh in Kannada. (Because the only people that I do talk to in Kannada on campus in one guy and Maya the dog.)

But then, one day, DH’s lunch menu had the dreaded kadhi. Kadhi is this dish that they make out of curd (or yogurt) and the one thing that I hate about food is turning something like curd, which is neither savoury, nor sweet, and put over a stove and make it into something that it’s not. I do not like it one bit. So, we bailed, and Mishel suggested this one new place that she had tried earlier and together with Arohi, we decided to go.

That first time, it didn’t have that great of an impact with me. Because we went during lunch time proper, we couldn’t get dosas. We had to eat proper lunch thali instead. The first time, it didn’t feel like much. I just ate all of it (there’s usually a lot and as much as I like food, I’m a poor eater) and went to class unhappily with an extremely happily full tummy. Several wait-staff were Kannadigas and I just lost it. Even many of the “seemingly” regulars also spoke Kannada and I was just in the perfect time at the perfect place.

The second time, however, we were 5 of us. Along with Mishel and Arohi (my constant companions here in Mumbai) there were Harshal and Avro with me. I spoke to the waiters in Kannada and also ordered. The waiters could also speak Tamil, and Mishel made good use of it. The others were just dumb-founded and I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it.

The second time, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The food was so so homely that I was this close to pitching a tent right outside so I could live off their food. I was this close to hiring them to make our DH food. I was this close to crying because it was so amazing and I was so overcome with emotion because it felt like I was eating maduve oota (wedding food). It was better than that. I inhaled that food.

After all this, two small moulds of rice. (Picture credits: Arohi)

And after that, we’ve been there multiple times. I’ve lost count. If it has been a long day, we just hitch an auto go there. Mishel, Arohi and I exchange looks after a mentally exhausting day. Sometimes even during. “Mani’s?” “Mani’s.” Maybe “Mani’s” will be our always. (Cringe cringe)

It’s the only coffee that can cure us of our exhausting day and I haven’t been to the other restaurant since. I feel bad but what can I do? I go where the coffee is better.

Picture credits: Arohi

Blocked ears

I have written about my ears being blocked a long time ago but this time, it’s for a less of an embarrassing reason. This time, my ears are blocked from the inside (obviously not my doing) because I’m sick. I have a cold and had terrible fever all day yesterday and slept for so long I missed my 9AM class today. Which was good because now all I have to deal with is the terrible cold and cough, and of course, the wonderfully clear and supple skin that sleep and excessive sweating can only leave.

I just got back from home yesterday morning. As soon as the bus started and the A/C was on, I began sneezing. Uh-oh, here comes the sneezing. I sneezed all through the bus ride. For 18 hours. I first thought, “Ugh, why did my allergies have to act up now?” I experience dust allergies at the worst possible times. It’s a talent that I never wanted. I was shivering and my nose was running and all of my hankies were in my duffel bag in the trunk of the bus and I didn’t have hot water and to say I was a complete mess is an understatement. I came back to my room at around 7 in the morning and I changed and slept. Then I had to wake up and go to my 11 AM class.

I have no clue what event is happening but this is just too pretty.

February is in full swing. I’ve always loved this month because all the trees just realized that the Sun is actually warm now and began sprouting their leaves. I think my favourite ever reason why I love February is the way Bangalore looks at this time of the year. All the pink and yellow flowering trees (I should really find out what their names are. As a biology student, it’s a shame I don’t know.) are in just beginning to bloom . The sky fully and wholly co-operates with the trees, even more than usual. It’s always February. I’ve never seen a more colourful season.

Another reason why February is amazing is that Meta (posts here and here) happens around this time of the year. Even though I was in the city last year, I didn’t go. And now that I’m away, I’m seeing all these posts on Instagram and I’m missing it so much. I miss the fun, all the contests, actually writing, all the fun and entertaining but educational talks, Arul Mani taking over the mic, the entire English department in the best type of chaos, talking to people you never thought you’d talk to, making friends with people you just saw in passing and thought, “No way I can be friends with those people; I’m too uncool for that” (but in reality, they’re all actually really great people); feeling like a part of the crowd even when you know you’re not. I miss all of that.

There was a literary fest in my college/university (I don’t what “deemed” university means) but it didn’t create a single ounce of curiosity in me except for the session where I kind of knew the artist. I also liked the book fair but that’s just about it. It seemed like it was happening far away from me and I felt very detached. I didn’t go volunteering, nor did I participate in any contests. Now that I think about it, I can’t even remember if there were any contests that I even remotely wanted to attend.

Now that I am back, there is a mound of work that I have to do and it is safe to say that I am so terrified of all of it that I actually chose to write this blog post. Go figure.

Maybe it’s because of my blocked ears, but as I walking to class yesterday morning, it was beautifully, pleasantly, eerily quiet. I didn’t see a lot of people around, and the mood was so mellow and the sunlight was streaming through the branches of the tree which had little little leaves and the sunshine was warm and the air was breezy and it was just perfect. I wanted to bottle up the entire moment and keep it safe inside my wardrobe for whenever I feel down.

(Also, speaking of blooming trees, I do not have a single picture of trees in bloom in Bengaluru. I have a favourite tree also, but I didn’t even go near that tree, sadly. Perhaps next time.)

Mid-semester tradition

Winter is almost over here in Mumbai. I’m a little sad but more than a lot happy because of the current weather we’re experiencing here. It’s not cold but it’s not the usual humid-heavy-air weather either. Lots of actual, warm sunshine, no humidity, no need of sweaters or fans and lots of warm breeze. The daylight hours are increasing slowly and the sky is becoming paler and there are clouds some days that are like white wisps and smudges of leftover acrylic paint. It’s perfect and I love how it’s going to slowly ease into the typical Mumbai weather.

I’m taking my mid-semester break and going home for a week. I leave tomorrow night and I’m so excited. There’s so much food I want to eat and so many people that I need to meet. I even made a list of all the food that I want to eat way back in the beginning of January. I keep adding to that list now and then and now I’m just at that phase where I’m wondering if I’ll get to eat all of them. I’m so glad to go because being in my room is suffocating. I need out and I don’t mean the “out” that I take weekly. I need complete out as in “never to return again” out. I hope that’ll be the case next semester. I’m ready for the change. So ready.

Bangalore this time of the year is my least favourite. My skin is going to crack, my hair is going to fall, I will be dehydrated and I will sweat and stink if I step out. I will have to be buried under blankets all times of the day and going to the bathroom will be a pain. But what I’m mostly looking forward to is have a cup of strong, extra-expensive filter coffee outside the airport (which I’m going to make a tradition of) and see the city when it’s pretending to sleep.

That feeling is back!

Last Friday was magical. It was just one of those days where I was transported back to that glass-room we sat in for a while in 6th standard. And that day I realized what was common among all those I felt like it. It’s very early to feel that way–it’s the first week of January only!– but then again, I didn’t think I was going to feel that way here in Mumbai.

It was maths. Most of the times I’ve felt like that, that sweet, sweet nostalgia, warm and cozy with the smell of summer in the air, it’s usually when I’m sitting in class and I’m solving a maths problem. When I was in my 6th standard, I remember getting a long list of problems to solve in class and I was on top of it. I was doing it one by one and simultaneously helping my other classmates who couldn’t get the answers right. I was so competent back then.

The previous few times that I did get to solve problems I was so behind. Always. Even I did do it very carefully and think I got the answer, I am always wrong. But I just laugh and correct myself and learn. And I take a few moments and sit back and breathe in the slightly-humid-and-warm-but-no-hint-of-rain-air and think, it’s okay. It’s calm and peaceful and there would be nowhere else I’d rather be.

Gratitude 2018

Gratitude 2018

There were a set of prompts that were set up by the Counselling Centre at College for a year-end review and as I normally don’t remember much (even with really nice bullet journals) of the year that went past, I thought it would be a good idea to write up a post on all the things that I was very grateful for because what better way to feed the fire that is homesickness that is eating you up on New Year’s eve, right?

  1. What made me smile today? The fact that I have people that I love back home that just understands me and is willing to do anything for me.
  2. What is the one thing that you love about yourself? Ugh, hard one. But okay. My mental and emotional strength. It was put to test in the second half of this year and I made it. Alive and with few scratches here and there and even a few deep gashes, but alive.
  3. What accomplishments in life has brought you most the most happiness? The fact that I’m getting better at art is probably my highlight. But I would also say that my moving away from home is something that I’m proud of. It doesn’t make me necessarily happy, but I’m still proud of it.
  4. What is different today than a year ago that you are grateful for? The place. The change of place, although it makes me sad, is definitely something that I am grateful for.
  5. What do you like about the current season? The trees are very beautiful this time of the year.
  6. What is something beautiful that you saw today? I would love to say the beautiful flower crowned pictures of my favourite K-pop stars.
  7. What made you laugh today? Memes about Shadowhunter chronicles. Some were just hilarious. I was sitting and drinking coffee in the dining hall and laughing like a maniac.
  8. What is the one thing that was hard to do but you did it anyway? Moving away from Akka. It was, and still is, the hardest thing to do because I always suspected her to leave first. But it was me. Also, letting go of my pride and asking for help when I actually do need it.
  9. What is something you are good at? Um, avoiding people with whom you make eye contact. I just mastered the skill. I was always pretty good at it but now I can actually teach it.
  10. What gift did you love receiving this year? The box from my family. It had an extremely cute polar bear pillow, soan papdi, banana chips from one of my favourite bakeries, and many other things.
  11. What is something you love in nature? The blue sky. Always.
  12. What was the best thing that happened today? Nothing that great happened. Yet. Not today, at least.
  13. What kindness did someone give today? During breakfast, there was this tiny little kitty roaming about. Cats aren’t as fond of me as dogs are so this one was the same. But afternoon, during lunch, I saw someone feeding it bits of roti and that little furball actually ate it so that made me happy.
  14. What do you like about where you live? I can be anyone that I want.
  15. What do you like about one or more of your friends? Okay, this requires a whole new post in itself, so reserving that for later .
  16. What is a challenge that has strengthened you? Again, moving. It has prepared me mentally for a proper adult life that I wouldn’t have gotten if I had stayed at home.
  17. What is a special memory from childhood? This is too hard. My memory sucks and you know it.
  18. What do you like about your course? I like the fact that I joined in the illusion that I was going to save the world but after coming here, even though it seems hopeless, you just fight for it because you cannot do anything else.
  19. What personal beliefs are you grateful for? I’m glad that I believed in the fact that I could make it this far. I believed that I would make good friends but little did I know that I would come to love them as much as I would.
  20. What freedoms are you grateful for? The freedom to be myself and to express personal things, should I wish for it. I like that. Not that I was tied up in Bengaluru, but it was different there. I also like that fact that I can go back to my room at any time I want and nobody questions me.

Well. This was not-quite-over-whelming-not-quite-under-whelming but this is what I can give in 20 minutes. Make that 24.

Happy New Year Guys!

Ugh, I have to say that a 100 times tomorrow. I wish I could sleep the entire day and not meet anyone.

Nausicaa: Of The Valley of the Wind

After more than a couple of years of me beginning to watch and fangirl over the films of Studio Ghibli, I finally, finally watched this masterpiece. It was such an unexpected film. I had no idea I’d like it this much because I never got past the first 15 minutes or so before. And then I realized this was exactly what happened with The Wind Rises and because I noticed the pattern, I decided to break it.

At the beginning of the film, there’s a music piece that is played. It’s there throughout the film but it is most prominent at the beginning. And whenever I’d heard it on the YouTube live radio I always drift off or melt or just feel like transporting to a magical land where I’m one of those nameless passers-by who just like to be a part of the overall story. Not in Nausicaa, of course. I’d probably die in the film halfway through. I love that song so so much.

And then there’s the story line. It is set after a millennium after the earth was overrun by the “Fire Giants”. We follow Nausicaa, the Princess and a wind rider of a small kingdom, into her adventurous life. She’s very sweet and kind, and she loves animals. Even though there are parts of the earth that are toxic to humans, she ventures into there and she just calms this huge scary “Ohm” insect. She knows tricks and techniques to calm the insects and any animal for that matter. She’s bold and beautiful and I just love her. She’s very strong and what I love about the film is that there is so love interest. Like, there’s a boy from another kingdom but it is never explicitly pursued. She just does her own thing (however dangerous) to save her people and the doom her kingdom is coming to because of invaders.

The leader of these invaders is also a woman. She’s beautiful and scary and just perfect. I love how she pursues her intent, no matter how dangerous for her, no matter how impractical, no matter how implausible. She makes sure people listens to her and makes sure she gets it done. She’s powerful and her subordinate was such a prick that I wanted to run her little knife in her books through his throat.

Like always, it had one of the most brilliant story lines, people who were once thought of rivals helping our protagonist, finding out shocking truths, and her essentially having a relatively non-sad ending. I actually was not very pleased with the ending, but I was still glad for it.

And I am glad that this film exists. This one, Mononoke Hime, Spirited Away (and more) are all films that show gender has nothing to do with being strong or brave or righteous or saving the world and the people you love. I loved it. I’m grateful for Studio Ghibli for just existing.

Weekend Coffee Share #21

This will be the second and last Weekend Coffee Share of 2018. What even.

I’m trying hard not to dwell on that bit.

What was I even doing all this time? Every weekend that I got? I was probably desperately trying to cram something in. I would’ve woken up at 11 or something, skipped breakfast, skipped bathing, go straight on to working on something or the other.

Or I would’ve been up all night watching videos of my favourite K-pop groups. You know, priorities.

Here’s a picture of the night sky and the trees and the moon that I’ve been obsessively taking pictures of.

I don’t even know where to begin. There’s so much to say because there’s so much I did and so much that has happened. But I think a good place to start will be that one Sunday where I spent the entire day all by myself. I was later joined by my friend Harshal in the evening but until then, from noon till dusk, it was just me and my thoughts.

Me and my well-loved sneakers in the train. Nobody was there when I took this picture.

For a lot of people, it might sound scary. ” ‘Me and my thoughts’- such a scary duo.” But not for me. It was such a wonderful day. I left my room at around 11 in the morning, after getting ready nicely (I even put on a dress!) and I had decided to go to the art museums. I had no clue whom they were showing at either of them (there are two big ones in Mumbai, NGMA and Jehangir Art Gallery) but I just went. I took a local train, all by myself and I was so proud, even if I didn’t have to change trains or anything. I didn’t freak out because of the crowd or the way people looked at me (and kept looking at me) nor did I stammer when I asked for the ticket. I put on my ear buds, held my head high and just walked towards my destination or sat in the train looking out the window. I wasn’t oblivious to the world around me and I did not miss my stop (it was the last one anyway).

It was a very bright and sunny afternoon and my plan for the entire day was to visit the two art museums. But then when I was having lunch I kept thinking, where was this famous bookstore that I’d been hearing about? I looked it up and it was 300 meters from where I was eating. I ate my lunch, which was a plate of Pani Puri and a pair of Vades and a cup of filter coffee (yes, I somehow managed to find a south Indian restaurant there and it was quite good), and then headed to the bookstore. The ever friendly Google Maps took me via routes that I would’ve missed had I taken a kaali-peeli directly to the bookstore. All the small roads were filled with designer shops and cafes and less glamorous stationery stores and street food stalls. Some places were a bit shady but it was fine once I got to the main road (even if I nearly died from the onslaught of the traffic, multiple times).

The bookstore was very pretty. It had painted glass windows(?) and while the variety of international books was a little disappointing and underwhelming, I loved the number of books they had of Indian authors. And they had an entire floor (it was like a balcony, but still) full of Penguin published classics of every single edition ever in print. It was very beautiful. They were well organized and it could’ve just sat there and stared at them all. I sort of did, actually.

I didn’t want to buy anything because I was on a budget, but come on. “Pari went to a bookstore and returned empty handed” is such a bad joke. I bought “The Nine-Chambered Hearts” by Janice Pariat. She’s an Indian author and I’d read her book “Seahorse” and fell in love with her writing so I had to buy this one. It also sounds like the kind of story I live to read.

Later that evening, I met Harshal at Crawford Market. Crawford Market in Mumbai is the one place where you can get absolutely anything. Anything. I initially went for some stationery and I didn’t even know if I was buying anything but I ended up buying so much that I had to borrow from Harshal to buy the last few items I had my eyes on. We had dinner at this place where the butter chicken was just amazing. I’ve had butter chicken in all sorts of places but this one was exceptional. And then we took a train back home. We ended up getting lost when we were getting out of the station near our campus. How pathetic. We walked through shady gulleys with and without people which meandered itself to another side of the station. Go figure. I got home at 12 that night.

I actually wanted to write a more coherent, better account of that day but I think I like this one better.

Here’s another picture of the Sun and the sky and trees that I took while we were hurrying to eat lunch outside because DH food was terrible and nobody wanted to eat there.

That was last month.

By now, my semester is in full swing and last week was just so hectic. And it will only get more hectic. I’ve been putting off my readings and I know one day I will have to read all of them but I haven’t been able to get myself to finish them all. I am trying though. I just need to try harder.

All of November and December, I’ve been in a sort of a rut. I found a post about the imposter syndrome and I think that’s what’s happening to me. I was, for the longest time, even at home, did not find joy in making art. I kept asking myself, why bother? Why are you even doing this? It was just making me more miserable. So I pressed pause on it. I still haven’t completely recovered from it because I still hesitate to pick up my paint brush but somehow managed to make presents for my secret Santa book swap and a friend’s birthday card. It didn’t make me happy, not exactly, but it felt nice painting something decent after a long time. I still draw and paint in my bullet journal but it feels different because this is for me. I didn’t even post many of the pictures even if they came out so well and I was so proud of them because the entire picture didn’t fit into the Instagram “proportions”. Whatever.

Oh. Now I see it.

So, this has been my life so far. New Year is a week away and thinking about the New Year makes me shudder. It’s the first time I’ll be celebrating New Year’s away from home and while I will not be partying like most people, I’d still like to be with people I actually enjoy being with. I hope it happens. I also have no goals or resolutions whatsoever again this year. I just hope to get through this semester with my head on my shoulders and brain intact inside my skull. That’s all I want from 2019.

How has your life been? What are you looking forward to most in the New Year? Tell me, tell me, tell me!