music, movies, travel, food, drinks and ideas

Mortal Kombat

“Presenting, Mortal Combat by IGIT!”

As soon as the announcement was made, we ran to the stage, the nine of us and began our dance performance in my college festival. We wore bell-bottomed black pants, with black spaghettis and a satin off-shoulder tank-top. The tank-top was in various colours – blue, green, red. My team had practised and had worked hard for months, choreographed the show together and we had also designed our own costumes. Oh, I was so thrilled about the entire show.

It was a minute after we started our performance that I felt something snap. Soon I realised that my bra hook had given away. Four on the right, four on the left; I was in the center of the group. My friends in the audience clapped for me, even as I was horrified about my clothing. I had to decide, in that split second, to walk off the stage or to go on. I wanted to live that performance; after all, there were eight others who would be hurt if I walked out. I continued and in the next few seconds, I could feel something slipping off my chest. “Oh my god, I am wearing a strapless bra!” But there was nothing more to do, we just had a minute or so to perform. I kept at it, ignored the slipping modesty and finished my part as a team player. As I walked out of the stage, I was glad that it was over.

“Here, It was lying on the stage!”

Tears rolled down my eyes, as a fellow dancer handed over my inner wear. My friends from the audience came to meet me backstage.

“What happened?”

“You didn’t look like you were into your dancing,”

“Yeah! Your face was off and no smile too,”

“It was a great performance though. Are you alright?”

People flooded me with questions while I tried hard to control my reaction. “Maybe no one noticed.” I thought. “I should not make it apparent on everybody”. My best friend cheered and hugged me tight.

“Girl, what happened?”

She whispered in my ears and I pulled her to a side. Then, I told her about my wardrobe malfunction and showed her the bra.


“Why are you laughing?” I said.

“That’s funny but don’t worry, none of us noticed anything.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes girl. We just missed your usual energy on stage!”

I held her so tight and let out my tears of relief on her shoulders. Just then, everyone in my team jumped. We had won the competition.

Winter is coming

I melted in my shoes, my head started to burn and my clothes began to feel too tight. It was an October day and I stepped out for an appointment. I wore a skirt, a top, stockings and a shrug. I took off the shrug within seconds after I had stepped out and let my body be ventilated. My eyes squeezed while I tried to look around. Everything looked bright and in flames. My feet slipped in the footwear as I walked, I was trapped in them. I got into the bus and as I looked outside, I decided to wear flip-flops, spaghetti straps and shorts to survive through the warm winters of San Francisco.

His Sweet Smell

‘The Musk’ is the flavor that I bought for him, years ago. And he had been using it ever since because it’s one of those things that made me hover around him a bit longer than usual. When we began to live together, his body odour used to bother me. Well, doesn’t it bother everyone? In fact, my own body odour ticked me off. So, there were a lot of experiments I did to find the best flavor for him, and ‘The Musk’ was forever.

However, a few months later, he went away for a couple of weeks. I missed him, oh so bad. I couldn’t wait for him to be home. The morning he was to return, I woke up early and kept the house ready to welcome him. I miscalculated the time and went away to buy grocery and meanwhile he reached home. As soon as I heard about his arrival, I sped up my walk.

I ran, and as I opened the door, the wind brought along with it the sweet smell of him. I felt safe, happy, fulfilled. And no, it wasn’t ‘The Musk’. It was the good old body odour.

Fur Elise

The heart knows what it wants

the mind remembers what it needs to

The fingers know where to go

when I wake up, walk out

sit on the bench, close my eyes

stretch out my arms, and play Fur Elise.


I am with 5 of the most important people in my life; one is my life partner, one – my sister and three of them are friends who set the foundation for all valuable friendships. All of these people are companions, and in that way they are similar but that’s where the similarities end.

G, my partner, is crazy yet extremely wise. He dislikes and doesn’t value short-sighted decisions, is paranoid enough to scare you of the simplest things and despite all this, leads an adventurous life. H, my sister, is a child-like responsible adult, who loves to take care of others to the level of spoiling them and can’t stand people who worry a lot. V, my friend, is an entrepreneur and a child-man who acts naive but understands everything – a bit phony in his outlook but truthful to even his darkest self. J, is joyful, experimental, conversational and enjoys being proper and A, is a mature, thoughtful man who finds it uneasy to explore out of his comfort zone but nevertheless does it.

Years ago, the 5 of us(No G – he came into my life later) used to meet every evening, and discuss life, politics, relationships in twilight. Our individual existence was a response to our everyday exchange of thoughts together. The sense of completeness was so gratifying that sometimes we didn’t feel the need to have anyone else around. However, I noticed the impact of our ‘move together, think together, act optimal’ group-ism, once I moved cities.

I value my integrity and consider it as the single greatest factor that enhances my interaction with my surroundings. In the years that went by without the ‘Hum Paanch(We, the five)’ gang around, I realised that the effect of group-movement can be positive or negative, based on how clear the individual outlooks are. To explain this, I would pick an example. Once, I received a job-offer from another company in another city. I had apprehensions about money, career and most of all, moving cities just 2 months after I had relocated. I was finding it difficult to reject the offer.

“Just call them up and tell that your father’s health isn’t doing great.”

This was the conclusion of our group discussion. I agreed but when the time came to say this, I was shivering since I principally dislike ‘excuses’ and ‘lies’. Eventually, I was able to convince myself that ‘family problems’ isn’t untrue and I was able to handle the situation without getting into specifics. However, at the far end of this drama, I walked out of the company I was working for, in the most outrageous yet honest display of ethics and values. It taught me an important lesson that even when I am tactful, I can’t convince myself of a lie, ever. My future decisions were better – peaceful, honest and the best. I let my heart speak louder than the brainstorming sessions the group had.

Years have passed and I haven’t had the chance to share my life, the same way, with these friends. And I don’t expect that anymore. They have visited me several times, have helped me through some important tasks and were also among my wedding hosts. Every time we met, I was amazed by how easily we were back to where we left.

However, this time, I sense a strange lack of connection. The synergy that we shared seems to have faded away. When I listen for five people, I hear myself and instead of 4 other people, I see one and sometimes, a maximum of two people. When I look for the voice of the five of us together, I still hear one or two individual voices. There is no sound of ‘Hum Paanch’, anymore.


Air & Water

Trees, plants, fruits, flowers, rain, sand – I love my planet and the environment that it provides for all of us to thrive in. As a traveler, my wish to connect with nature gets reaffirmed quite often. I remember that as a city-dweller, most of my childhood was spent dreaming of a backyard with a garden, from where I could pluck cilantro/coriander to garnish my curries with. We always lived in flats or apartments. A few years ago, however, my parents moved to a ground floor flat which had a big backyard. Finally, my mother was able to grow tomatoes, eggplant (brinjal/aubergine), bitter-gourd, chillies, coriander, curry leaves and plantains too! The dream had come true; but I no longer lived in the same city.

Over the next few years, whenever I made a visit, which was maybe once a year, I would spend sometime in her backyard. Sometimes, the meals she cooked had vegetables harvested in her garden, and for me, that detail would add more flavor to the food. I even imagined to find a house for my parents with a bigger farm-area than the rooms. Eventually, we had to settle for a flat-like retirement house for them. Not a problem, I thought; I could build that house for myself.

As one can see, more than the house, I thought about the garden or the farmland. Apart from some science projects, I hadn’t grown anything all through my life, until last year. In the summer of 2013, I decided to try my hands at growing some herbs. Along with a friend of mine, I visited a nursery and picked as many as 5 herbs, 3 flowering plants and one indoor plant.

Curry leaves and BasilCradleChrysanthemumsMiniatureMarigoldRed kidney beansFrench beans

I called them my children and thought that I would treat the growing experience as a rehearsal to become a mother someday. I watered them, kept them in the required places and cared for them. Then, one day, I traveled and I left my plants at a friend’s house.

When I returned, they looked better than how I had left them. I was quite happy about that. I learned that the conditions at my house were not as great as at my friend’s. Over the next few weeks, I watched the health of the tiny plants deteriorate. Partly because it was too complicated to leave the plants at someone’s house and bring them back, every time I traveled. So, I started to leave them in their places and attended to them whenever I was home. Ultimately and unfortunately, all of them withered and died. Even though I was quite sad, I saw the end coming long before it did. After over 4 months, all that was left were blue, red, yellow, white, empty planters. As sad as it sounds, it was a cemetery.

A few weeks ago, I found the energy to try the process once again in our new house (we moved countries and live in a small flat now). I have limited space and most of it is indoors. There is a lot of sunlight and the house is well-ventilated. On top of that, I have a number of painted bottles that I want to use. To understand the possibilities, I did some research. I discovered hydroponic (or air plants) plants and as the name suggests, these plants grow in water. The information on the internet was abundant but confusing. So, I decided to just visit a nursery.

Incidentally, I walked into the largest plant&flower market in my city. There were more shops than I imagined but there was almost nothing for me. At last, I was directed to a guy who had some options.

“So, I am looking for plants that I can grow in water.”

“I don’t have much but you can take Anthurium and Lilies.”

I looked at the plants and was very happy to see how they looked – beautiful but nicely rooted in their soils.

“But will they grow in water?

“Yeah, yeah.”

“So, I just need to take them out of these planters and put them in my container?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“For how long will they grow?”

“Oh, forever”

“Wow!” I thought. I bought two plants but they had multiple roots. When I got home, I carefully removed them from their soils and put them in my various water planters, and this is a glimpse of how they looked. I covered 7 bottles, by transplanting the two potted flower plants and separating the roots.

wpid-wp-1409284414829.jpeg wpid-wp-1409284410239.jpeg wpid-wp-1409284403888.jpeg










It’s been over 10 days and yesterday, I had to dry, cut and remove most of the Lilies, since they withered quickly. I changed the water couple of times but only the Anthuriums ‘look’ alright.

A pointless(I should’ve done this before bringing them home) research provided me some insight into the sad state of these flowers in my house :


1- If the flowers are already planted in soil, transplanting them in water is a bad idea. This is because the roots are adapted to a different medium.

2- Since there is no drainage, the roots are always wet and this infect the roots.

3 – Lillies thrive in shade and my window sills have light throughout the day.

I am feeling worse than before, especially because I uprooted perfectly healthy plants and killed them in my experiment.

Despite this, I am eager to keep ‘live’ plants in my house that can thrive in the conditions I have and the kind of medium I want to use. So, if you are reading this post and you know anything about water/air growing plants, please let me know.

One of the things I found out is that I can grow hyacinths and tulips in a vase using their bulbs. But since they are seasonal, I’ll have to wait. I would love to know if anyone has other creative ways to help me grow plants in my bottle-vases.

Meanwhile, I am growing some Basil, Jalapenos and Ginger from seeds!




Kitchen towels can wipe worries too

I picked the wrong time to run that day. It was just 2 hours before I had to leave for a class. But the problem with my decisions is that I can’t override any of them. So, G and I got ready at 1pm to do a short(2.5 mile) run along the bay.

It was a scorching, hot day; and I hadn’t carried any water. I felt quite bad during the run but I pulled through and by the time we got home, it was 2pm. I had to leave at 2.45pm. I rushed to take shower, because, in the series of stressful plans that I had made for the day, one of them was to make lunch. The item on the menu was ‘Paneer Paratha’.

For those of you who don’t know what it takes to prepare paneer paratha, please check out this delicious recipe on Cucumbertown.

Now that you understand that this tight-timed recipe takes 15 minutes, you might understand why I my pitiful plan was ambitious too. I was out of the shower at 2:30pm. Hurriedly, I started to prepare the stuffing, kneaded the dough and kept the pan on the stove to heat up as well. Within 7 minutes, I had prepared the stuffing and the dough. I had to make 5 decent parathas in 8 minutes. When I was at the 3rd bread piece, I started to panic. G, my partner, came around and hugged me while I cooked. He knew I was stressed and despite his attempts to comfort me, I continued to struggle and meet my own expectations. I asked him to pack my lunch-box with 2 parathas with some yoghurt on top, so that I could eat on the way. He did as required and also asked me to just roll the other parathas and go. He said he would manage the cooking part.

At 2:48pm, I was packed and rushed out of the house. Just then, G handed me over a huge piece of kitchen-towel.

“What’s that for?” I said.

“Oh, you have yoghurt in the box” He said.

I didn’t understand what he meant; so,I just put the towel in my bag and went on my way. I managed to catch my bus but since I was hungry and stressed, I didn’t feel any better. I opened my box and the smell of the parathas with yoghurt filled my senses. At the same time, I felt awkward about the smell reaching the other passengers. In my starved mode, I took a couple of bites but closed the box to avoid further embarrassment. The yoghurt was all over my hand and around the box. I had to keep the box in the bag and wanted to not spoil the bag with the spills. That’s when I realised why G gave me the towel.

I wiped my hands and the box with it, and a huge smile cleaned my face.

When I reached the institute, I had exactly 2 minutes left to eat the rest of the food. I stuffed my face with the food and once again, the yoghurt was all over my face, hands etc.. I had preserved the towel and in the last few seconds, I wiped myself clean of all the spills with the paper and with the love of someone who never fails to show that he cares.

Yeah, it was just a kitchen-towel; but when I am reminded of my angel watching over me in my hour of need, I feel lucky to have found him.

Why Bus No. 12 is worth the wait

Every Friday, I wait for 10 minutes at the bus stop for a bus that takes me to my Piano class. Although the bus timings are precise, it’s always a bit too early or a tad late. When I see it approaching, the half-a-minute spent watching it break and move from the last stop, is also my moment of hope.

I board the bus, say hello to the driver and look for an optimum spot to sit in. Sometimes I like to stand. What happens in the next 20 minutes is neither predictable nor is it ever the same. There are conversations all around; most of the time between two people but many times people ramble to themselves. That’s San Francisco anyway, with its fulfilled dreams and the broken ones. The most interesting conversations are the ones between me and the quiet person. Studying the body language, exchanging smiles and occasionally a vocal gesture. Once, an old lady sitting next to me told me about how sick she was and that she was going to the hospital. She hoped to find her test results clear. I told her that I was going to attend my class and before she got off the bus, we both wished each other good-luck. Brief yet a surreal, pleasant connection.

It’s for these novel, uncertain interactions that I choose public transport almost always. Of course, with a work-from-home format, I have the luxury of my own schedule. But I am particular about efficient time management too. So, when I add up the wait time, the travel time and the time spent planning every bus/train trip, I spend more time getting to my class, than the class itself. However, my efficiency formula uses experience as an important factor too. And the net result of every bus or train trip is far higher than a cab ride.

Sometimes, I enjoy cab rides too. Like when I get to know the car driver better, hear stories or just share a joke. To some extent, that’s like taking an empty bus with a chatty driver.

That way, every choice, decision and experience in my life is evaluated by the number of stories I collect.




My 5 seconds of shame

It was the day before my wedding. There was an evening gathering of all friends and family. There was music, dance and everything that makes for a great pre-wedding party. It was all perfectly planned too. My sister and my uncle had put months of effort to make our wedding, a memorable one. The color of the fabric for the chair, the curtains, the size of the stage and to top it all, when my sister asked what I planned to wear for the party, I didn’t know that blue & gold would become the theme for the evening.

The tailor couldn’t deliver my dress on time and I saw the finished product the night before the wedding. There were some issues with it, mostly perceptive; such as the neckline was too low and the fitting was too tight and the skirt, even though technically long enough, appeared short. We got the neckline fixed overnight; I thought it was ready for the party.

It took a while to get ready and my makeup artiste took almost 2 hours to prepare my face. My partner and his family had arrived and everybody waited for the bride. As soon as my makeup woman gave me a go, I walked down my dressing room, straight to the hall. I looked at my partner first, he smiled and gave me an interesting look – it was the one of approval.

I turned to look at my dad and I read an untamed anger that was growing in him. I wasn’t sure what he was thinking but as I tried to talk to another guest, my father stepped in.

“What the hell are you wearing?”

“Put that dupatta on you.”

I was shocked, speechless and then noticed that most of the family crowd appeared negative.

The only reason I had agreed to a traditional wedding was to keep my parents and family happy. And at that moment, they were the only ones who were upset.

That short skirt, tight blouse and that fixed neckline – as much as I don’t care about appearances, a wardrobe malfunction failed me, when nothing else could.


Shave it off. Or not.

20 inches long, dark, thick yet shiny; my hair was beautiful. It grew for years, even though I chopped and trimmed once in a while. It’s hair, I let it grow. But what about hair in other parts of the body? I am talking about armpits, legs, hands and sometimes on our faces too. Why do we shave that all off? There was so much confusion in my head (along with hair) around why people treated the same entity so differently. And then I realised that it wasn’t the hair; it was the fact that I am a woman.

Other than the biological details, the image of a woman usually involves long hair and clean-shaven legs (if she is in her shorts). The image of a man, on the other hand, can have hair of varying lengths or no hair at all. What’s more fascinating is that while women make expensive visits to beauty salons every month, men could spend a lifetime showing off their body hair.

I’ll leave the body-hair for a later discussion.

So, I couldn’t stand this hypocritical attitude of the society towards ‘human hair’, and one day in 2011, got my head shaved. Yes, just like that.

For a girl in India, it was bound to create a furor; I was mentally prepared for that. What I had forgotten to consider was that if long hair symbolised I was a woman, no hair meant my husband/father had died. Oops! They were all alive, and most supportive of my new avatar too.

After wedding, women put flowers on their hair, and you went and shaved your head off! Do not talk to me!”

That was my mother who disowned me for exactly one week, once again. Most of the outrage, I was able to manage pretty well. However, what hurt me the most was that one of my uncles went too far and decided that the family support will weaken & fade away one day, because of what I did to ‘my’ hair.


Why does the woman carry the weight of symbols, signs and representation? Why doesn’t a man change his name after marriage? Why doesn’t he wear the ‘mangalsutra’ (a chain that Indian women wear after marriage)? Why doesn’t he put flowers on his hair? And why doesn’t the family deny him support when he decides to shave his head? (In fact, my husband has very long hair!)

This was the first time I shaved my head and it was one of the most liberating experiences of my life.

The second time, however, I decided to donate my hair and raise funds for Childhood Cancer Research. Interestingly, this time, my family wanted to contribute. Yes, I added meaning to an action; but how I wish, some societies freed women of the responsibility of every trivial activity.

Also, I am waiting for a day when I can wear whatever I want without wondering about my legs being unshaven.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers