Tryst with biryani

I should be hiding away. That’s what my instincts are screaming. Instead, here I am, baring my soul out to the world that does not even care.

Anyway, I’m going to say it. Coming out now.

I.

Am.

A.

… FOODIE.

Yes. I am. And I know I’ve said this before but this time, I’ve truly enjoyed the food more than the company and connected with the food on an emotional level that had me almost weeping with relief. Maybe it was PMS (I’m having it real bad since the last few months) but I almost died when my food came home.

Last Sunday, we had ordered Fiery Chicken Wings and some kebab types for evening snack and dinner from Hotel Empire because there was an RCB match, I think. I loved it so much that I wanted it again the next day.

But, family rules. Vegetarian Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays. Wednesday i went with Amma to Mysore and it was quite the trip. More on that soon. (I hope!) So I couldn’t eat then because I had no company and I only came back on Saturday. Sunday, I finally, FINALLY got to order food. I was having a really moody day (like for the past few weeks) so Akka let me order food. When she had that food from Empire, she couldn’t handle so much spice so she ended up upsetting her stomach. So, that restaurant was ruled out. There was a safe option, Biryani Mane, and since Akka enjoys biryani more than I do, I ordered it.

And of course our package had to get lost. It took us an extra hour for the food to come because it was replaced. After spending all my phone currency and waiting till 4, our food finally came. It was so heavenly that my mouth waters just at the thought of it.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with biryani. I like the Grilled Chicken Biryani at Hotel Empire and the normal Chicken Biryani at Nandhini Deluxe and the Bamboo Biryani at Rustic Stove. Others don’t have the slight taste of masala. They are usually overloaded with masala so much so that it blocks out all other senses. I don’t like that. I’ve never actually liked any homemade biryani because of this reason. But the biryani at Biryani Mane is just heavenly. The rice is perfect, the chicken is perfect and for the first time, I’ve had it with the curd salad (raitha, pachiDi, mosaru bajji, take your pick) under the influence of Akka and I just died with the foodgasm in my mouth. I took three small helpings for myself, surprising Akka. I couldn’t care how much I was eating. I knew I just had to eat.

For some reason, I’d never liked eating biryani with curd so much. I’d always eaten it with the gravy of the accompanied side dish (I always needed one) and what we’d ordered was a dry dish. No gravy. There was extra gravy in the parcel but I just decided to eat with the curd. Best. Decision. Ever.

The previous hour, I was so hungry that I was almost about to commit a murder. I went to the fish shop nearby (a shop where they sell fish dishes and fresh, raw fish; the shop is built in the shape of a fish) and got myself Anjal fish. It has two pieces and he’d deep fried it. It didn’t take me long to finish it. I was so satisfied when I’d finished it. All that was left was to wait for the biryani.

I was afraid that my appetite would be ruined if I had the fish but no such thing happened. I ate more than I normally would because it was just so good.

No pictures, unfortunately because I was too busy eating.

 

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The calming office

Attempting Bryn Donovan’s 100 Prompts to write about yourself, again, because I can’t seem to sit and write a nice blog post about anything because at this point, everything seems worthless. This is prompt number 47, picked at random.

 Describe an experience at a doctor’s office, dentist’s or at the hospital.

Touch wood, I’ve been very lucky health-wise. Apart from this one time when I was barely a year old and suffered with fever so high that I needed to be hospitalized, I was never in the hospital. I don’t worry about my health too much because if you don’t have a terminal illness, I don’t think it’s worth fretting about. Every time anybody in the family has a slight ailment, or a little health issue, like cold, or a rash or something, we went our Homeopath in Ashoka Pillar, in Jayanagar. It was always a delight to go to the doctor here because his house/office was a very calming place to be.

Outside is a small garden and a swing set. There are potted plants all around house, on the widow sills. There is also a small cement pond, in a very curly shape that still fascinates me. Inside the waiting room, it is all red oxide floors that seem to remain cool and neutral no matter what the weather was outside. It could be snowing out there and the inside would still be cozy enough to walk without socks and slippers on.

The waiting room is part of the main office that’s been divided by those floor-to-ceiling plastic walls that are also quite sound-proof. The chairs in the waiting room are wood or cane with ancient pillows that are rock hard but not uncomfortable because you’re never seated for so long. Inside the doctor’s office, it feels like you’ve been transported to the 50’s. There’s a large, dark brown, solid wooden desk that feels so ancient because you can feel its power. You can feel how old and strong and powerful that desk is. It feels stable and reassuring and steady, like the person you trust most with your life. Pair that with a high-backed, equally strong and dark wooden chair, I bet there’s no other dynamic duo.

The walls are bare and pale green. Behind the chair, high up, is a poster, from a calendar, maybe, from 1996, of a bronze Buddha. Like the chair and the desk, it also feels powerful but equally calming. God knows how long I’ve stared at that face. There’s a usual cupboard and a couple of plastic chairs for the patients and a weighing machine. We’ve never met another weighing machine as accurate and trusted as this one. Even if we had previously only checked our weight a few days ago, there’s something reassuring about that weighing machine.

Our doctor himself looks ancient. We’ve been going to him since I was born, and he’s only gotten skinnier and more haggard looking and paler. His stutter has definitely improved. When he asks questions, he never passes judgement. Some doctors are too judgy. When you say you’ve eaten this-and-this, they look at you like, Why? Don’t you know how dangerous that is for your health? You’ll not live long if you keep eating like this. But he never looks like that. He just asks more questions and then he disappears to another room, and gets us medicine. The medicine is usually white and sweet. They don’t taste like medicine and because we say “the quality of his hands are great”, our illnesses don’t come back for a year. When I had severe cough, thanks to allergy and small dust particles about 3 years ago, he gave me medicine that had me up and going in less than a week. My strength came back and I felt like myself again. Or before that, when I was in 6th standard and had sever acne all over my face and back thanks to puberty, his medicine drove it away and I’ve not had it since.

I wonder if he gives medicine for mental health issues. Because I’m sure he’ll help a lot of people with his calming office itself.

Weekend Coffee Share #20

Yikes. This is the first Weekend Coffee Share of 2018. And the first in two months. Wow. And, it’s not even the weekend. It’s a Monday night here in Bengaluru. God Bless me.

I have so much to say that i don’t know if I can. Anyway. I will start from Monday, the 26th of February.

I was busy packing and thinking what I should and shouldn’t take. Where was I going? I was going to Mumbai! In my head, I still call it Bombay because I feel Bombay more than Mumbai. But that’s just me. I’m a little sentimental about cities like that. But nothing very eventful happened. I straightened my hair. Filled my phone with audiobooks and ebooks fit for travelling. Packed. I was more excited about the next day.

On the 27th of February, I traveled, for the first time, in a flight. I was going with my dad, and we took a cab to the airport, even though there were buses going there all the time. For some reason, Pappa insisted we go early and I hurried with him. Turns out, he wanted to get there early so I could get a window seat! He put on his best charming tone, saying how this is my first plane ride, she was utterly charmed and got me a window seat! I was thrilled. This was going to be epic.

Epic it was. It was only a little less than 2 hours, the whole plane ride, and in the midst of eating plane lunch (no pun intended) and my heart jerking and my stomach feeling hollow a few times during the landing, mostly I was memerized by how beautiful the sky looked. I suppose when one gets used to plane rides, this isn’t anything new but for me, this was just brilliant. I decided that I wanted to paint it, but I know for a fact that I will not come close to it. Ever.

After we landed in Bombay at around 2 in the afternoon, we hailed a taxi straight to our room. Upon reaching the building, I thought, “where in this hellhole is our hotel?” It was a really old and dingy building, with a set of forked stairs, and it seemed that one building alone had 3 hotels! The interiors were really nice though. Later that evening, Pappa took me to the Siddhi Vinayak Temple, where we bought sweets and two small idols of the God, and then we went to the Gateway of India. We sat there till the sun went down and it got late enough to get back to our room.

The Taj Hotel was magnificent. We walked around it, and discovered a street shopping area that I have (hopefully) filed away for the future. There was something just so amazing about that street and the area.

I had my interview on the 28th. I had to report at the University at 8 in the morning, so I was up by 5:45. After a bath, while eating breakfast, I decided to watch TV. Partly to calm my nerves, partly to unearth treasures that came in the form of old forgotten cartoons. And I was not disappointed. I watched half an our of Dexter’s Laboratory in complete bliss.

Then it was time to go.

Both my interviews and the pre-interview tests were, thankfully, scheduled on the same day. The interview timings just stretched on and on. I thought I’d be done by 2 in the afternoon or so, but nope. It dragged on till 5. After I came out, Pappa asked me what we should do next. We decided there was no point in going back to the hotel because then we’d have to go out again for dinner. So we went to the beach, finally.

The Chowpatty beach, which one can see along the Marine Drive is where we went. On one side, where there are food stalls, the stall owners don’t have chairs and tables. Instead, they’ve spread plastic mats on the sand for all of us to sit and eat on the ground. I loved this. Too bad I didn’t take a picture of this.

I was with Pappa and he’s not the best company to eat roadside food with and even I didn’t have much of an appetite so we just walked along the beach, waiting for the sun to set.

All along the marine Drive, there are huge slabs/benches people to either face the sea or the traffic. I preferred both, which was sad because I sat facing the sea and then once in a while, I turned to watch the traffic. My neck hurt. After it got dark, we crossed the road looking for a taxi when we saw an aquarium. We went inside to see if it was open and Pappa asked me, “Do you want to go in?” I shrugged. “Might as well. We’re here anyway, right?”

Tickets were Rs 60 per adult and after the visit to the aquarium, Pappa said “This was worth 60 Rupees,” because it definitely was. More on this later.

We went back to our hotel room, washed up, lay in bed for a little while before going out to dinner. We went to a bar and restaurant where the manager was a Kannadiga! I was thrilled. We ate fish and chicken and it was nice food. We had a bus to catch the next day, so we called it a night and went to sleep.

Our bus was 2 in the afternoon, which wasn’t very clearly mentioned, so we ended up waiting from noon for a bus that was at 2. I had taken an anti-nauseating tablet, so I pretty much slept waiting for the bus. The sleeper bus reminded me of Harry Potter’s Knight Bus. It was a fascinating ride. We reached Bengaluru the next morning.

Saturday was eventful because Amma, Akka and I decided to check out new places to eat that had cropped up in our area. We spent the entire evening hopping from one place to another, buying enough ice cream to stock up the fridge and we were so full that we skipped dinner. Sunday afternoon was my highlight because Akka and I started watching She Was pretty! We’re only four episodes deep, but she loves it so far. I’m glad. I didn’t know what I’d do if she didn’t like my favourite show.

Monday evening, I met Poorvi for a belated birthday party and we spent the entire evening walking around Jayanagar and eating and did a little shopping too. it was fun. I skipped dinner again because I was so full.

I’ve had a great week.

I hope to write more detailed (and well-crafted) posts on Bombay soon! Especially on taxis and the people I met there and how the city was in general. Wish me luck!

How was your week? Anything important that happened in your life while I was away? Do tell!

Black Coffee

I’ve always wondered why and how people drank black coffee. Normal, filter coffee with no sugar itself is unbearable to drink, and on top of that, how would people drink pure black coffee?!

I was at IIHS (Indian Institute for Human Settlements) today for this three-day writing workshop called City Scripts, and after I’d had lunch (a box of yummy carrot sandwiches that I finally got to eat all by myself!) I decided to have coffee because I hadn’t had it all day. I took a mug, and filled it about 1/4th under the mug, and looked around for milk.

I looked for five minutes, but with no luck. I finally noticed that the tap next to the hot water tap was labelled hot milk. Phew. I placed my mug under the tap and twisted it.

Nothing. Not one drop of milk and the only evidence that there was even milk in it before was the fact that the plate below the tap had remnants of milk, forming stains, slowly. I didn’t want to throw away that beautiful, fresh dicoction, and I didn’t know if i could drink it by myself. I remember once Pappa telling me that we South Indians have to mix some hot water with the dicoction to drink it because it’s way too strong. I just added two spoons of sugar, and took a sip.

At first, my thought was, “Why is it sour?”

I expected it to be bitter, and it was, a little bit, like a background taste, but it was more sweet and sour. I kept taking larger sips each time and I’d soon finished it. There was little sugar left at the bottom, so totally not guilty for wasting anything.

I’m back!

I am back after my deliberate, 2-week hiatus.

I was actually thinking of skipping today and starting fresh from Monday, but then I stood outside our balcony, the summer breeze making its way to us, stirring up all the dried leaves off the ground, the clear sky which was this perfect shade of ultramarine blue that I loved, and I thought to myself, “Why push? Just do it!”

When I decided to take a break, I thought I’ll spend the whole time moping about how I am itching to write and blog and tell you all what was happening (nothing was happening) but I didn’t feel it. I was just calm and quite honestly, blogging had become a little stressful. I’m glad that I took this break because I can now clearly see (or so I think) that even if I stop blogging, no one would miss it. And that’s okay. But I would. I would miss blogging and connecting with the people all over the world and reading fascinating stories that would bring a smile on my face and think, “Wow. This is so amazing.” I would miss this learning process. After all, isn’t that what life is all about?

A lot of things did happen while I was away. I got shortlisted for an interview for the University that I applied for and the interview date is on the 28th. I’ll be going to Mumbai for the interview and I’m so pumped because it’s the first time I’ll be going there! I will definitely put up a post of the travels. Wish me luck for my interview!

I’ve been paining a bit. I’ve been Bullet Journalling a LOT. You can see the pictures on my Instagram feed on the right. I’ts been a sort of a healing process because even though I don’t know where I stand with my art —  media, theme, subject, anything— I like it here because of the uncertainty. That means my options are endless.

I’ve gotten back to writing letters to people again. I sort of had this block; I don’t know what to term it, but I did not feel like writing to anybody, make postcards or even write Postcrossing cards. I felt… weird. Was I bored? Not at all, no. I think I’d drained out all my energy for that particular part of my life.

I’ve been watching a lot of K-drama. A. LOT. In my two weeks hiatus alone, I’ve watched 2 K-drama. Which is quite a number for me because I cannot commit to the shows all that much. But I’ve loved them. I began watching this Taiwanese drama today, so hopefully, I’ll take it slow and watch one or two episodes a day because otherwise, I’ll have to take a hiatus on everything in life.

I began exercising! I’m using the Nike Training Club App that my friend Indu suggested and it’s only my 4th day of working out but I feel so much better. I’m not as sore as I was yesterday — I could barely sit or stand without grunting— and I’m glad because I have places to go tomorrow!

I —finally— submitted an essay for the Barbra Naidu essay competition that Meta always holds. For three years, I’ve been wanting to submit an essay and I’d decided that not matter what, I would submit an essay this year. The theme was “Friending/Unfriending” and honestly, there couldn’t have been a better topic for me to be motivated to write about. And even though I’d been planning on writing since the end of January, I only got around to finish it a day before the submission day. I guess deadlines motivate me more than the will to finish!

Meta this year went without a bang for me because I couldn’t attend it at all. I’m a little sad, but I guess it was meant to be.

I’m sad that I haven’t watched more than two films at home so far this year. I gotta get back in my film-watching zone and reading zone. My year in reading started off great but now I’m in a slump. But again, that’s okay. I’ve learnt that I’m allowed to be and it will help regain my love for reading and watching films.

I’m glad I took the break. But I’m ecstatic to be back.

Sam and Pari

Happy birthday, Sam!

When they say “opposites attract”, they don’t just mean it for people who are romantically involved with each other. It also holds good for “soul-sisters” which is just exactly what Sam and I are. Where I am all too-sweet and smiley most of the times to most people, Sam is sassy and sarcastic and real to everyone; she will tell you exactly how you made her feel without fear; I love and admire and also maybe a little bit jealous of this the most.

The day of the orientation is a strange day for all Environmental Science students, with all the students’ faces, eyes wide, lips unmoving, screaming one emotion: what is happening? Prabhakar sir conducts a small “ice-breaker” for us to get to know each other to get through the day. The seniors also talk with us and give us snacks, which is one of the many traditions of the department. After the general introduction — names, where we were from and what we hoped to become— there were two things that we all do in that ice-breaker session: one – stand in two concentric circles, place one of your hands on top of the person’s standing in front of you, look into their eyes, and talk.

Two – A skit. Sir told us two stories. One was about the eagle and the chickens and the other about the caterpillars who went on pilgrimage. And only half of those stories were told. We were supposed to complete it and enact it with no dialogues, as a team with a bunch of people we just met.

It was an awkward situation for all of us. I didn’t know anybody, nobody knew me, so I just slunk into a group which later, I remembered, was with Smriti, Indu, Passang and Sam and someone else— probably Jyothi.

We chose the caterpillar story and somehow, we did it. After the “act”, my seat was gone and I ended up sitting next to this long-haired girl that I hadn’t come across in the concentric circle introduction, but was in the skit group with me. She looked at me with huge eyes, put her hand to her chest and said, “Hi, I’m Samudyatha,” slowly and carefully, so I could get her name the first time — as I understood later. I smiled at her; her accent seemed like mine, laced with Kannada and I knew we’d fit. Everybody else I had talked to all day had accents that seemed different to me; more alien, more high-standard, more spontaneous, more…English-y and I kept thinking, maybe I’m the only one here. And my confidence levels were not too high that day.

Her number was the first that I put on my brand new Nokia 525 that day. I spelled her name right on the first try and her name, till date, doesn’t have “SJC” next to it. It’s not like I’d find another Samudyatha in my life. And definitely no one like her.

Sam and I have lots of mental lists: the “ugh” list, the “how-do-you-know-them” list, the “what-is-she-wearing-and-why-even” list and the famous “hate” list. Up until third year, I would point to someone and say, “I hate that person.” She would laugh and ask why. I would say that I don’t know; or I couldn’t remember. Sometimes, she would agree. Other times, I would agree with her choice of person of hatred, usually someone extraordinarily obnoxious. But if we were asked to write a list, we wouldn’t be able to. I don’t even know half the people’s names and I can’t remember the half that I do know. But if I ever face them again, on the planet or on my screen, my heart would just know.

Orange is her favourite colour, black coming a close second. She and Indu are favourite-colour buddies. They usually go on about how they don’t get clothes of their favourite colour when I try to slink into my desk and go unnoticed. This was true and untrue for me: I don’t like pink but I own a good amount of pink clothes, but I love blue and white, and clothes in these colours aren’t very hard to find and I make it a point not to buy them. Sam wore an orange and black short top over black pants for her first birthday in college. Hers was the first birthday we ever celebrated, complete with a small black forest cake from our omnipresent Surya bakery, and a tiny blue card that I made, with a black and orange cake at one corner. What a coincidence.

The second time I’d ever performed slam poetry was during Pratibha of 2016. The theme was “The World Through Your Eyes”, and I’d written about Bangalore, of course, and I’d written my poem in class a few minutes before and I’d shown it to her. She loved it. Stage fright isn’t all that new to me but when I did freeze up, just two lines into my poem, I looked at Sam sitting right in front of me, two rows deep, with Prince, Arun, Smriti and DJ; a familiar, reassuring face. But it was more than that; she prompted me my own poem, when the only copy was in my hands. Determined not to disappoint her, I gathered myself quickly, and performed without anymore frights.

During second year, our zoology practical labs were very easy. We studied the same things in theory also. It isn’t anything new; it happens all three years, but this particular year was different. Three hour labs were stretched to the point where all of us were asleep by 4. Including the teacher. We decided to take utmost advantage of it: Sam began learning photography. Prince used to carry his camera a lot back then, because of some or the other frequent events; either he was asked to cover it or he simply brought it on a whim. On Wednesday afternoons, during lab time, after our half hour lecture on the topic, and another half hour for our records, we were forced to stay at least till 3:30. Prince goes over the basics and she clicks whatever she fancies. Sometimes, I model for her. When I had received my first ever physical book for reviewing, I had taken it to college — to take pictures of it, of course — and she took it with me holding it, all smiles, my hair coming undone with that flimsy clip that I was wearing but not caring anyway. She still uses that picture for my caller id on her phone.

One particular Friday during February in our third year was very nasty for her. She’d come only in the second period and when I looked at her face, something was wrong. I felt like we had reached that level where we could gauge each other’s moods with just one look.

In zoology classes, the most unfortunate thing of us sitting in the first bench happened all the time, from the first year till the last. One day, sometime in the second year, Sam, Prince, DJ and I snagged the last bench in one of the “strict” (read as: fake-intimidating and spiteful) teacher’s class. When he didn’t find us in the first bench, he called us front, with a disapproving look on his face. Sam and I hated it. We couldn’t take another class but somehow, we had to survive the rest of the year and the next year. We bunked that teacher’s class the next week. Sometimes, even the goody good ones need a breather. Sam hardly ever bunked classes, but she never missed an opportunity. She and I bunked the same teacher’s class in third year; just that class, which we hardly ever did. Prince and DJ refused; being boys, they couldn’t afford to fall 0.1 % on their attendance. She just rolls her eyes and we walk down towards the quadrangle, to our adda.

After a few initial shocks, she has gotten used to mine and Indu’s bouts of fangirling. At some point, after I was introduced to Colleen Hoover by Indu and fallen in love with her books, it was Sam’s turn. She fell irrevocably in love with CoHo’s books and writing, especially the book Confess. Soon, she also joined our little “fangirling” sessions wherever Colleen Hoover was involved.

Whenever I’m stuck drawing, in my record or in any of the Christmas cards that I make every year, she draws them for me, without a second thought. She point-blank refuses to draw for Darshan, even when he flashes his “charming” smile. She was the first person that I thought of when the idea of keeping an arts and crafts stall during Nirvaan first, then later Meta. She and I made the perfect team: we shared ideas and did some of the crafts not-so-secretly in class.

Besides sharing love and passion towards saving the environment, there was a mutual love and penchant for the arts and crafts and cribbing about people and boring classes. Third year Tuesdays were the worst. After a whole morning of classes, without breaks, we had our dissertation lab right after lunch. That lab was all thinking and not much working because in the initial days, our group hadn’t gone sampling yet and all we had to do was sit and read up or get long lectures by Prabs about how we’re lagging behind.

She’s my tea-coffee partner; my advisory; I can burn food for her and she’d still eat it happily because I made it for her. She’s the one I go to when I’m really happy or really sad. There’s an open honesty about her that makes you want to trust her. The first month I met her, I barely knew her, but deep in my bones, I was right: she is more than a friend or a best friend even. She’s a sister to me.

This is the first year since the last three years that we haven’t celebrated her birthday together. She has this smartness to her, like a sniffer dog or a metal detector; she knows when we’re hiding something. It isn’t easy, the hiding, since we’re almost always together, but we make it work. One of my biggest dreams is to give her the perfect birthday, and I hope I can do that when we’re not studying together.

Time-off

Lately, whenever I sit down to paint or write, feeling all motivated and pumped, the feeling is quickly dampened by one huge negative thought: why am I doing this?

And more than the question itself being negative, the answers are. I am not good enough at painting. I don’t make good enough art. I don’t write well enough. I feel totally and utterly useless and worthless.

I know we all have these phases. I have them quite often and I’ve put those “episodes” of creative block up here on my blog. But this time, it feels worse.

Every time I sit down to paint, I look up for some inspiration, I think that I shouldn’t make art anymore because I will never get there. I will never inspire people through my art and I think, where will I end up? Even if I keep practising to get better, what is the use of all of this? Why am I moving forward? What’s pushing me?

I don’t know. I honestly have no clue. I’d lined up a few ideas for my blog posts here and I can’t type beyond the first few words. I’m falling behind in so many things it feels like my life is going backwards.

There was an episode of Jules and James where Jules had a sort of a creative block. James suggested that they do things apart from their passions; James had to avoid painting and Jules had to cease from writing or reading for a week. And I thought, huh. Will this actually work?

Time to test it.

As soon as I reach 300 posts, or February (whichever is the earliest) I will cease from blogging. On all three blogs. Poetry, books and life. Every time I get the urge to put up a post, I will write it down by hand and wait for at least two weeks to pass. I will also try to avoid social media, especially Pinterest, because as much as I love it, it also drives me crazy.

I will do what I do best: watch films, shows, paint my heart out, not worry about having pretty and expensive watercolours, not worry about my mediocre art skills and read. Maybe write also, but we’ll see.

Winters in Bangalore

I know and understand that ‘Winter’ is cold season and I shouldn’t be complaining, but I’m just noticing how the weather is since I’m at home most of the time, for the first time ever.

Winters in Bangalore are annoying. They’re more than just annoying; they are irksome and maddening to the extreme. They crack your lips and your fingertips and toe tips feel cold all the time and your skin itches if you haven’t moisturized it and if you have sensitive teeth you can’t drink normal water. All through it, the sun keeps smiling and shining.

When I was in school, during PT periods, we always used to play in the sun. If we were in the assembly in the ground, we were glad that we were high school; our lines were way in the back so we got the maximum sun, standing there in the mornings with our thick blazers on, was really nice. We dreaded to back to our classrooms and sitting on the cold metal benches and desks.

Fast-forward to Joseph’s. Every 7-minute break was spent in trying to use the bathroom or find an area to bask in the sun. We hesitated to eat out in the quadrangle under the Banyan tree because it was cold, but we did it anyway. We huddled close together and ate with our teeth chattering.

Another thing that’s weird about the winter: blinding sunlight at 8:AM.

And come January and February, the temperature will increase but your skin will keep feeling chid-chida. Crackling. Ugh.

 

The tattoo that I have

This is prompt number 97 from Bryn Donovan’s list of prompts and ideas for writing about yourself. I’m picking random numbers, and I’m lucky I got this because I’ve been waiting to tell this story since the day it happened.

Yes, I have a tattoo. The story of how I got it is quite patience-testing.

For quite a long time, Akka and I (in the end, along with Amma) had been pestering Pappa to agree for us to get tattoos. I didn’t see the big deal. The only scare or concern was the lead content and the needles. I know they use fresh needles every single time, and well, the lead levels in my blood might have increased, but there is joy in getting a tattoo done. It’s like branding yourself and saying “This is who I am”, or maybe reminding yourself to live your life. Either way, it is quite fascinating.

Pappa finally said yes, late in June, probably. Then began the search for the designs. I knew what to get and I had choices to pick from. It was either a Totoro, or the Sun, or the Sun and the Moon together. So, after looking for designs of the Sun and the Moon and being fed up, because I wasn’t satisfied with any of them, I requested Vaishnavi to ketch me some designs. She was so happy to do it, that she by next week, she had sent me three designs of varying simplicity. And each one of them was so pretty! The simplest one was a design with the Sun at the centre, and the phases of the moon on either side of its rays, and I could put it as a bracelet or an anklet. I decided to get that one done, on my right upper arm. So, it was decided for me. And even though Akka said, “It’s not very unique; you should get the other one,” I stuck to what I wanted and went with her to this tattoo parlor in Indiranagar.

Akka was going to get the words “Carpe Diem” on her arm. Where on her arm, she wasn’t sure. I thought “Carpe Diem” was a common enough word, but I didn’t dare say that out loud. She talked her designs over with her friend and finalized the font and all, and decided she wanted a tiny flower with it. Her visualization was actually pretty. But when we went there, everything changed.

For one, this place where we went, which was really famous, looked really cool with its metal decorations and all, but inside, it felt like an orgy. People kept walking in and out, tattoo in their heads, tattoo on their bodies. It was a stifling 10 minutes while we were waiting for a friend’s friend (one of the many tattoo artists) to come out. Akka prodded me first, and then I showed him my design. He said, “This design will not come in the size you want. Is that okay?” I frowned. I mean, Pappa agreed only if we got small(-ish) tattoos, and the size he showed? Way too big. I said, “Never mind,” and he moved on to Akka.

When she said, “I want to get a tattoo of Carpe Diem,” he simply nodded, and went towards the computer. He sat down and asked her to select a font from that list. She already had picked one out, but of course, Murphy’s law came into the picture. He didn’t have it. She chose the closest one, and without further ado, he printed it, tore it, and stenciled it on the side of her wrist, below her little finger. And he led her towards an empty bench and began tattooing.

The only good thing to come out of that was the price discount.

That day, my spirits had died down. I decided I didn’t want a tattoo. For now, at least. But Akka insisted that we get it done for me, too. So we searched for places near Jayanagar when Akka remembered that there was a new one right outside the complex. We hitched an auto and went to Jayanagar.

This was a small place, with just one small room. A guy was just finishing up another guy’s tattoo and was doing one of those “wiping-foam-to-reveal-tattoo” videos. There was another guy sitting on a sofa nearby. When we walked in, he greeted us and led us to the lone computer across the door we just walked through. I showed him my design, and he said, “This will be too big. Is that okay?”

I groaned. But Akka had decided that we weren’t going to go home without both of us getting tattoos. She’s sentimental that way.

So I told him that I wanted the Sun and the Moon, and he Googled designs. I already did that and which was why I had customized designs!

I picked one, and he printed it out, created a stencil, and put it on my arm. The guy was perfectly chatty with me, and I was glad because it distracted me. I was prepared to ask to talk to him, but thankfully, he saved me from that embarrassment. It took him 15 minutes, and on a scale of 1-10 of pain (with 10 being the highest), it was around 3 for me. I got it on the fleshy inside of my left forearm, so it was only noticeable.

As I begin working, I will definitely get myself all the tattoos that I want because once isn’t nearly enough. I want a few more Suns and Moons, and I want a quote or two, and I definitely want a watercolour one, and a Totoro one. Maybe every year, on July 15th, to commemorate the anniversary of my first tattoo, I will get one more on my body. I anyway cannot donate blood, so why not?

 

3:45 PM Tea Time

I have been wanting to write this for weeks. Here it is, finally.

After the first week of classes in Rajajinagar (some 15 kilometers away from home) I’d found my routine and rhythm. I leave my house at 2:45 PM sharp (a few minutes early couldn’t hurt), walk to the Metro train station some half a kilometer from my home, take the 2:57 PM train, get off at Mahakavi Kuvempu Road at around 3:30 PM, walk out of the station, take a left, and the first right. Straight up that road, on the last right, in the corner was a normal chats center and a dosa camp. They didn’t look like anything special. You can see them all over the city. But something did catch my eye, otherwise, I wouldn’t have been writing.

By the end of that first week, I’d found side roads and less crowded roads with better footpaths to walk on. That’s when I’d found this place. The words “flavoured tea” caught my eye. I’d been experimenting tea for a while now. Sometimes I like black tea with a huge squeeze of half a lemon and honey. Sometimes, I like the tea that I make with cinnamon, sometimes elaichi. But I like tea, and most times, I don’t even drink it. I prefer coffee over it because there is something about filtered coffee that can never be replaced.

So, when I found this flavoured tea stall, I was, naturally, intrigued. They had a list of flavours, and that day, I decided to drink all of them. Because once you try one, you had to know how the others tasted, right?

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I came back the next day. I took off my headphones while I was approaching the place, and was mentally deciding what to try. I wanted to try rose. That was decided.

Walking up to the man standing at the counter (which is really the Kwality Wall’s dabba), I smiled my small smile reserved for first encounters and asked for the flavoured tea. The man was about Pappa’s age, and he asked me what kind of tea I wanted. I said I wanted the rose one, and he asked the boy making tea at the stall. To my disappointment, it was over, and the man said he had ordered some, and they haven’t come yet. So, I had to pick another one. Which to choose?

Chocolate was, is, and will always be my first option, but I didn’t feel like it. I decided to go with mango flavour because honestly, that sounded a little revolting. The guy began preparing the tea, while the man at the counter and I began the small talk. I hate small talk, but we soon evolved from there because I was getting comfortable there. The mango tea was excellent, and after I was done, I was smiling really huge and I left for class. I had 15 minutes to walk, so I walked in my normal speed, and still got there before the teacher.

I didn’t have the class that entire week. So for the next two weeks after, I went there almost every day. And I am proud to say that I’ve tried almost all the flavours on that menu. Mango and chocolate flavours were really good, and my personal favourite was orange. I had it twice. Bourbon and peach and mixed fruit (not on the menu) were pretty okay. What I disliked most was strawberry. If I thought mango flavoured tea sounded revolting, strawberry flavoured tea was actually revolting. Never again.

That man had also told me about the famous “Dahi Puri” and “Pav Bhaji” that they serve there. I could never have it because I didn’t go back the same way I came. On the last day of class at Rajajinagar (class in Jayanagar was going to start soon), I went there after class that evening and ate the dahi puri. It filled my stomach so much that I could barely walk to the metro station. But it was indeed one of the finest dahi puri I’ve ever had. I have yet to eat the Pav Bhaji, but I will, one of these days.

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The puris were filled to the maximum capacity with potatoes, and so much more, and there were two layers of the green, spicy chutney and the sweet tamarind-and-jaggery sauce. It was like an explosion of flavours in my mouth, even if I had to cut the puris in half just so I could fit them in my mouth. I also loved the fact that they julienned carrots and beetroots (which is personally don’t like) and they actually added flavour.

Will definitely go back to eat the pav bhaji. Here is the link for the whereabouts of the place.