Wednesday, March 14, 2018

3 billboards outside Ebbing , Missouri - Martin McDonagh

Really liked this one!

A woman, fed up with the police inaction over her daughters rape and murder, decides to put up an open challenge to them on 3 billboards. Name and shame style. It does indeed jolt the sleepy town up, with battle lines getting drawn - and the fun part- redrawn.

The superb performances help the movie tremendously, but for me the best part was the constantly shifting equations - between the characters, not to mention the viewer sympathies/perspectives. Just when you think you have slotted someone as honest, vicious, righteous, lazy, whatever.. something else turns up, and you have to rethink. Reminded me of another movie which had done exactly that - Chameleon. I think that always appeals to me, because I find simple black and white characterisations simplistic, not to mention problematic. Just because Ram was a great 'king', doesn't make him great in everything. Coming back to the movie, the ending was awesome as well!

Meanwhile, slowly trying to get back to one of my old loves - movies. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018


I wish there was some way out of this unrelenting exhaustion. This utter inability to get back to any form of physical activity. 

I wish my adrenals or thyroid or whatever it is that is screwed up,  would fix itself. I wish the chronic fatigue or the adrenal fatigue or whatever has been biting at my heels for decades, and has finally latched on firmly on the throat, would just cease and desist and leave. 

I wish I had the energy to search for the kind of doctors who could help. Not even sure if they even exist, leave alone if I can afford them. 

Feel so utterly tired. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

The long dark night of the soul, sometimes it gets an intermission, unexpected, joyful, unbelievable. Sometimes its lovely to stop all the thinking , analysing, and just be. It is what it is. I am who I am today. 

In small proportions we just beauties see
and in short measures, life may perfect be. 

The measures are smaller now, but still beautiful. 

Monday, February 05, 2018

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Life Skills

What are life skills ? I suppose the answer would differ by person and context. For me, I think as a very first, some means to take care of ones body and mind, is a life skill. Doing calculus, trigonometry, abstract Shakepearean plays, or wishy washy economics theories certainly don't seem to count as life skills if you ask me.

There are some things that I wish we had all been taught in lieu of the aforementioned useless skills ( which I enjoyed, but thats not the point). Things like basic cooking, nutrition. Basic house keeping. Basic financial planning. Basic physical exercise. Basic meditation. Basic psychology. And lastly , conversation and communication. Last few years, while I have been ruing my unemployment and grappling with other crazy stuff , I have tried to improve my 'life skills'. More prescriptive than preventive, but something is better than nothing.

Started attending a course on listening and self awareness this week, and its quite fascinating to see what kind of approach should actually go into listening, and how little I actually practice it. Was reminded of this TED talk which a friend had shared, and which really needs to be put into practice more often.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Some days the beautiful, hard-to-get, priceless gold choker necklace, just seems like a millstone around your neck. Like a dead weight pulling you down when you can barely pull your own weight. Doesn't help that you are not a jewellery person anyway.

Worse that you aren't even supposed to complain, vent, share, because its all your mistake. 'You should have thought of that before buying it!' 'Such people don't deserve the necklace!' are angry retorts always thrown about in so called necklace owner support groups.

I don't think there is a single day when I don't regret my decision. Gorgeous though it it..

Saturday, November 04, 2017

The shifting goalpost of 'normal childhood'.

We grew up doing a lot of 'normal' things. Playing in the streets. Walking to school and back.  Running small grocery errands. Making stuff ( crafts, dresses, charts).  Learning to skate on our own, sans helmet( and falling! ). Competing in races/debates/fancy dresses, and not getting a 'consolation' prize. Larking about on festivals like holi and diwali, getting scolded for misdoings, by parents, and sometimes even byestanders. Structured dance/music/sports classes were rare, and mixed age gangs of kids fighting over what to play and when and how, and rewriting games rules, was the norm.

Was everything idyllic and perfect? Of course not. But those remain my standards for normal. The only thing I regret was the lack of education about 'danger' in various forms, not a protection from it.

Last few years, I realised things seemed to have changed, on almost all counts. There seemed to be a lot of over protection and molly coddling of children that  I couldn't understand . Wait till you have your own, I was told. Then once I did, I realised I still hadn't changed, but by todays strange standards, I was an anomaly. To make it worse I wasn't trying to fit in either.

I am still hoping that by age 6-7 the kid will be able to run to the neighbourhood store. I also realise that all 8-9 year olds around don't go anywhere on their own. Their parents do their craft homework, probably because they pick scissors and cutting blades too late, and seldom in free play. They need helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, and brakes to learn skating in a corridor where the maximum length to skate is perhaps 7-8 metres. They are likely to learn advanced tennis and karate before they learn to skip rope.  That a neighbour has completely shunned me after his kid and mine collided while running ( happily), and his kid almost broke his nose.

I think it will be an uphill battle for me in urban India, and its almost a lost battle in the parts of the US that I stayed in. But would like to fight it nevertheless.

Then I came across this article about the fragile generation that we are raising, and found myself nodding so much that I thought my head would fall off !

Quoting some sentences where the danger of head-falling-off-due-to-intense-nodding was immense:

-There's the fear that everything children see, do, eat, hear, and lick could hurt them.

-adults who believe it's good for young people to run some errands or play kickball down the street have to think twice about letting them, because busybodies, cops, and social workers are primed to equate "unsupervised" with "neglected and in danger."

-The crime rate in America is back down to what it was in 1963, which means that most of today's parents grew up playing outside when it was more dangerous than it is today.  ( Not sure about the rates in india, but really its not so much the numbers but the perception...

-Nine kids were kidnapped and murdered by strangers in 2011, while 1,140 died in vehicles that same year. 

- Boulder Public Library in Colorado recently forbade anyone under 12 to enter without an adult, because "children may encounter hazards such as stairs, elevators, doors, furniture, electrical equipment, or other library patrons." Ah, yes, kids and library furniture. Always a lethal combo. ( Oh please let this one be plagiarised from onion and not real life! Oh wait.. )

A police chief in New Albany, Ohio, went on record saying kids shouldn't be outside on their own till age 16, 

-Play is training for adulthood.

-Prepare your child for the path, not the path for your child. 

Thursday, November 02, 2017

2 murders and botch up.

Finished the book Aarushi. ( Avirook Sen). It was an okish read.

Among the gazillions of murders and crazy stuff that happens in the world, the double murder was just another statistic I would say. Usually I wouldn't have paid too much attention to it.

But what had always mystified  me was that in some ways it turned normal 'miscarriage' of justice on its head. The rich get away, and the poor are usually trapped. I usually gloat when things get reversed.  But this time was different. I was more than willing to believe all the lurid details. But the total , complete, utter absence of evidence of any damn sort, and the persistent framing of the parents in spite of all their money, influence, lack of evidence was strange and surprising, to say the least. Specially since the other parties who should have been under suspicion were poor and powerless.

The book did fulfil that part of my curiosity, and basically it boiled down to how broken the system really is (  the police, cbi, and the courts). And more importantly,  how far people can go to make things fit their own world view. Finally that was what it was about, the people who mattered, had a certain mindset and viewpoint, about social norms, attitudes, behaviour patterns. How and when someone should cry, go to pieces, what constitutes acceptable working relationships, school friendships, when to write an email.. little things like that. Once the police and cbi and the judge made up their minds, based on these little things ( which incidentally had nothing to do with the murder) , it didn't matter what the evidence said. They basically rewrote ALL of the evidence. After they were done with their bungling, no one could ever be convicted, or rather no one should ever be convicted.  Not even the servants.

A movie worth mulling over -  12 angry men, ( even its hindi remake was decent for a change).

The case and its botch up was one part. The other, was that most people I knew had made up their minds that the parents did it. This was again somewhat surprising for me, since it needed people to assume a lot of lurid stuff while simultaneously ignoring evidence. Again, I personally have no difficulty believing that parents can kill their progeny, even middle class parents. No difficulty believing that spouse swapping is probably quite likely to be happening in certain circles. No difficulty believing that there must be sexually active 14 years olds out there somewhere. What defies common sense is that there was no evidence, not even a whiff of suspicion, of any of that happening here. NONE. I mean if you extend the meaning of 'boy friend' to mean someone going all the way, then please, you have no idea of the delhi high school scene. And from there if you make a leap of faith to think that someone would be sleeping with a middle aged, avuncular, mostly invisible domestic help, well again you have no idea of the average high school girl. Even assuming this girl and her parents, to be an exception, outliers, surely there has to be something, anything, to base your character assasination on? So that is something new that I learnt. No, there doesn't need to be anything. You can give a dog a bad name, just like that, and everyone will believe it.

Of course since then we have seen other even more unbelievable stuff happen, ( presidential elections come to mind). People will believe any damn thing they want, and manipulation of the narrative will be the norm, rather than the exception.

Why am I writing so much about this one case? I guess it had frightened me a lot back then.  Mostly because this was not about someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time, ( the 2 murdered people ). That happens all the time. No, for me this always about the cost of being a little 'different' ( the parents).

Anyway, in some ways I have made my peace , or maybe age has mellowed me. At one time I was apoplectic and frightened about how crappy this was. Now I guess it doesn't raise much emotion. Some disappointment.. and mostly just a sigh.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Among the numerous changes I have been attempting to make to my lifestyle in the last few years, a recent addition has been home composting.. or to put it a tad more accurately - attempts at home composting. The garbage we generate had always made me uneasy for as long as I can remember. With diapers and no job, I had more time to squirm at the amount of stuff we were trashing every day, although at that time I didn't have enough energy to switch to cloth diapers.  However I did get around to organising the dry recyclable waste better and trying to compost the kitchen waste.

After failing, failing and failing yet again, I can only say that I probably bring my cooking 'skills' to the table,  or rather to the composting bucket. As anyone who has eaten my cooking will vouch for, the end product seldom turns out how it is meant to. Ergo, the waste is not becoming the lovely powdery sweet smelling compost.  The balcony though is playing host to a variety of smells and life forms that really should be in a horror movie and not in the compost bin.

But what I lack in instinct and heart, I do bring in analysing and measuring. So I have slowly been making all the mistakes possible, ticking off every new mistake, and then finally learning from them.

The last lot of anaerobic bokashi compost was closer to compost , than to failure. The Large scary worms ( now carcasses) notwithstanding. But overall rather unimpressed with it, the documentation with the brand I got left a lot to be desired. Needed a lot of trial and error and baby - sitting. But if at first you don't succeed....

The khamba aerobic compost has had more success, although that is also now riddled with fruit flies.  It helped that the neighbour, who got the khamba has had lot of previous experience and has been helping with it.

Some lessons learnt
1. Managing the moisture is very important. Too wet ( and thats the most common rookie mistake) and it will soon get worms. Too dry ( happens less often, but sometimes does) and it won't compost.

2. Adding an optimum amount of cocopeat/dry leaves/sand is important. the food scraps have to be balanced with that.

3. Stirring and airing for the aerobic ( khamba) composting, and keeping airtight for the anaerobic/ bokashi composting is needed for the different microorganisms to do their job.

4. Cutting scraps into smaller pieces is very helpful, specially when you are just starting out. Makes it easier to stir, given the microbes more surface area, mixes better with the browns. Once you are a pro, and have lots of pots going, and have got the knack of the other stuff like ratios/moisture etc, you can relax a bit.

5. Adding the microorganisms either via commercial powder/old compost/cowdung/fermenting batter/buttermilk etc will really speed up the process.

6. Flies/ worms often indicate that one of the above is off. And once they come, its hard work to clear them out before you start the next lot. Be prepared for lots of work !

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Hadn't thought about these in a while.. but the posts triggered the memories . They still hurt, I can actually feel myself flinch, shrink, back off.. even at just the thought. 

How bad were the DTC buses? How bad was just walking down the road? It was so routine, and so common, and so trivially called 'harassment'. But what does that actually entail? That weekly at least once something harrowing would happen, leaving you in tears, angry frustrated, scared. Someone would follow you home. Someone would keep rubbing their dick against your back, or shoulder, throughout the journey. Someone would grab your boob. Someone would stare at you , their eyes boring right into your bone. Someone would sing lewd songs. Someone would ask for your rate, or better still just ask you to give a fuck. Someone would throw stones at you. yes literally. Someone would pull down their clothes and expose themselves. Over a decade, such stuff happened hundreds of times. In the anonymity of crowds. To everyone. Every damn week, sometimes everyday. 

But it wasn't the anonymous 'eve teasing' that left the deepest scars. No those are reserved for other instances. 

Like the time a neighbourhood uncle, nearing retirement, cornered an 11 year old in a lift and grabbed and kissed her. The stubble felt like needles.   

Like the question, can a 5 year old give consent? Does a 5 year old know what is being consented to ? 

Whats the worst part? So many women I know, shake their head knowingly about books like 'bitter chocolate', about the uncle from 'monsoon wedding', about safe short words like 'abuse', 'assault'. So many of them have said, over the decades, 'metoo' . No one wants the details. Me neither. I want to forget my own details, leave alone asking someone for theirs. Its scary how many of them I've met. 

So why am I publicly listing details today. Because I am tired of the safe short words. As if 'eve teasing' in a bus is just someone singing a love lorn song at your wistfully. It not. Because I want to shake people I love by the shoulders and say - listen. Goddammit, this is happening under your noses, how can you not see? 

Time has scabbed over the incidents. Maybe geography or age or my own armour have helped prevent much shit happening last few years. But the raw open wound is the one that bleeds every time I hear the incredulous ' wow how could it be so bad? how could x have got away for so long ? '

replace x with the flavor of the day - harvey, tarun, arunabh, travis, phaneesh, babas, bla bla

ps - please spare me the #notallmen. I know that not all men, in fact probably a majority of men, don't go around being physically abusive. I understand the 80/20 rule.  What I don't know , is what do you call a person who can't see what is happening right in front of them. 

This is a call to get glasses as a very first step.