Friday, January 22, 2016

Of Reviews and Goals... and a Tag!

Happy New Year! 

It’s that time of the year when our gaze turns inwards, backwards and forwards all at the same time. Basically, it’s when we all go a little cock-eyed. I did too.

2015 is gone. Long live 2015. Or not. Really. 2015 was not a very memorable year for me. It was as if I spent the year in limbo. Professionally, I did’t start anything new, I didn’t finish anything that I had previously started, and no milestones were achieved. Intangible progress was made, yes, but only the kind that will be visible, if at all, in 2016. And there does not seem to be anything concrete to point to and say - ‘I did that in 2015’. Personally too it was a quiet year and nothing major happened in or to my family. Everybody started and ended the year in good health and spirits and for that I am grateful. 

I guess my 2015 was the sort of year most people have regularly. Just a quiet year of settled life with strong health and relationships and the sort of plodding work where you begin the digging to lay the foundations of a future career, and there is nothing wrong with a year like that. It’s just that my life has been in such constant flux for the past seven years that I haven’t even had the chance to begin and end a year in the same house or even in the same city in all that time. So, to suddenly settle down in one place (and one house!) for that long has come to seem abnormal to me. Hah!

But there is much to look forward to in 2016. Professionally, I hope to begin (and finish) pouring the concrete for the foundation of a career and that may mean a move. So it remains to be seen whether January 2017 will see me in the same house that January 2016 saw me in. In the blog space, I have resolved (yes - that dreaded word) to do a better job of reviving this space and write at least a post a week. I have also set myself the challenge of reading 48 books this year at the rough pace of a book a week and if nothing else, that should give the ‘currently reading’ and ‘recently read’ section of a the site a regular workout. So keep tuned. 

I have also decided to be more social in the blog world and as a result, find myself with a self-imposed obligation to accept a blog tag. Prithvi tagged me and apparently the rules of the tag require that I exhibit a logo, state 7 random facts about myself and tag others. Now, while I am very thankful to Prithvi for trying so hard to coax me out of this shell, I think I will cheat a little. I will state the 7 random facts but will not display the logo or tag anyone else. Ok? So here goes…

7 random facts about me:

  1. I am not as indecisive as my blog avatar may lead people to believe, though in recent times my indecision has, worryingly, increased.
  2. But I do procrastinate. A lot. 
  3. I am quite excited about the 48 books challenge. Given the flux my life has been in, I haven’t had a chance to read as many books in one year in a very long time. 
  4. I haven’t read more than a couple of fiction books per year in a very very long time. I hope to change that this year and make at least 24 of my 48 books fiction.
  5. I have recently discovered the world of podcasts and I am hooked! Hooked I say, hooked! ‘Reading Lives’ and Book Riot’s ‘The Podcast’ are my new absolute favourites and have been largely responsible for me resolving to plunge back into the world of fiction in a major way. I also love- ‘Limetown’. Oh my my my - what a show. I can't wait for season 2.
  6. One day I hope to become a professional writer. I can’t believe I said that out loud. 
  7. I also paint. Sometimes.

That’s it for now, but I have a few book reviews coming up - so stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Onset of Winter: Canada Edition

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the hap…happiest season of all.”

You would expect that to be the soundtrack in my head this time of year, especially since I gushingly declared my love for winter a few years ago. “I love winter” , I said, “the colder it is - the more I like it”, I said, “winter is my favourite season”, I said. 

Well, I’m now facing the prospect of my fourth winter in a country that has one of the harshest winters in the inhabited world. Maybe I should reevaluate. 

Now, it is true that Montreal is by no means the coldest city in Canada and of my three winters here, I have spent one in balmy British Columbia. To give you an inkling of how balmy, consider this: so proud are the people in BC of their mild winters that even the universities there label their January to May term - the "Spring" term - while the rest of the country doesn’t even begin to see the snow abating until early May. They go from the "fall" term to the "spring" term and completely bypass winter - both literally and figuratively. So, by all accounts I have had it easy so far. 

But I’ve still seen middle of the day lows of -35C (with wind chill), I know now that a clear sunny day in winter is bitingly cold while an overcast day is actually bearable, I know now why freezing rain is so dangerous, I have experienced the breathlessness that comes with doing something so simple as walking 750 meters against the wind on an exposed street with freezing wind blowing in your face and I know what it feels like to have your toes and fingers frozen so completely that they hurt and continue to tingle for long after they’ve been warmed. Infact, it sometimes hurts more while warming up than when it was cold. 

After living through Montreal winters, I know enough to know that the balmy -1 to -3C that it usually was in my part of BC was actually ‘Canadian spring’. So the question remains - do I still love winter?

Yes, I do. I still do. Really. And let me show you why:

1. A strange calm seems to envelop the city and makes everything more beautiful

View of Montreal from across the frozen St. Lawrence river
The steps leading down from Mont-Royal - Montreal's central park.
2. Even the view outside your window defies you to be blasé about it

3. And the countryside is just magical.

A horse drawn carriage used by traditional cabana sucrès - sugar shacks - to collect maple sap

This is actually inside a protected park where animals choose to live but may come and go as they please. Deer do not roam the streets of Montreal. Yet.

 How can I not love this season that turns everything into this pretty, frozen wonderland.

Now excuse me while I go crank up the heat.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Blog 2.0

Yesterday I decided to revive my blog. I had been toying around with the idea of reviving this space for sometime now and the blog has not been very far from my thoughts for very long. But even though I have never been a regular or prolific blogger, it still surprised me to log in and find that I had actually let this space drift for five years!

Five years is a long time and apart from bringing home the realisation that I am quite definitively marching out of a phase of my life where I may be called 'young',  it got me thinking about what I have been up to all this while. I have become a graduate student - twice over and got married. Each year, as if on clockwork, I have moved cities, countries and continents and with each move have embarked upon a new, exciting phase of life. So I suppose, unsurprisingly, blogging has fallen by the wayside though I do wish I had kept blogging as it would have been an interesting window into a period of much change and excitement. But now that for the first time in five years I have the prospect of stability, it feels like a good time to come back to this space.

But the next question was whether to revive this blog or to start a new one. After all, presumably I have changed in these five years and a changed outlook requires a changed blog address. No? Well, not necessarily.

Though it is tempting to wipe the slate clean and start afresh, I do wish to retain my blogging focus on.. well... 'Poetry, Books and Other Things'. Also, I think it might be fun to take a look back after a while of coming back to blogging to see if I really have changed much and having a single space in which to make the comparison seems easier. But most importantly, retaining this space feels like coming back to an old friend and there is some comfort in that. I don't want to make a new friend just because I have lost touch a little bit. I just want to pick up the strings of an old friendship, say hello, know that I am welcome and pick up from where we'd left off.

So, shall we...

Monday, July 26, 2010

On Poetry

As regards poetry, I have always believed,
That I could’nt write, but could well read,
For to write words that would rhyme,
Was as alien to me as dance or mime.

Then I chanced upon Ogden Nash,
He, with his rhymes, nouns n verbs all mish mash,
And yet there always was a fine poem,
Child, adult or beast, it had some’fin for all of ‘em.

Here at last was simple poetry,
That had done so well. Yippee!!
So did that mean, there was a chance?
For poetry even from me, a simple dunce?

But then, I began to wonder,
If I hadn’t made a blunder,
What if, and not vise-verse,
But ‘Ogden Nash’ had made the verse?

And then, for me there was no hope,
And all I could do was sit and mope.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Wombat

The wombat lives across the seas,
Among the far Antipodes.
He may exist on nuts and berries,
Or then again, on missionaries;
His distant habitat precludes
Conclusive knowledge of his moods,
But I would not engage the wombat
In any form of mortal combat.

-- Ogden Nash

For the uninitiated, Wombat means, "Waste of Money, Brains and Time". This poem reminds me of this post I read recently. :)


I was just revisiting my blog today.. you know, getting familiar with what I should already have been familiar with. And I discovered this old post of mine. Made me sigh to think that there used to be a time when I used to have readers…:) The post also made me want to make some changes to my blog.. try out the new ‘template designer’ by blogger and generally play around with my blog. So I have spent a pleasant hour and a half painstakingly customising a template and just when it was about perfect, changing it into this off-the-shelf minimalistic version. Somehow I think I like this better now. I have also updated my ‘currently reading’ and ‘recently read’ columns, and have trimmed my blogroll too. Hah!! I have also removed a few redundant features and have basically cleaned out my blog. So, please, oh please dear imaginary reader mine, do stroll around this new version of my blog, and murmur appreciatively to yourself…

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Five years of college – fun, frolic and friends. One year of work – office, Mumbai madness and friends. Notice the commonality? After college, life changed sure…but some aspects were still reassuringly the same. Everyday, I had the luxury of being able to come back home to the same faces I had grown to know so well and love over the past so many years. It was like coming home to family. There was stability in that change. Then suddenly, I quit and moved out, and life has changed again. Only this time more definitely, finally and irrevocably. Of course, new places remain to be seen, new experiences to be had and additional friends to be made. But before I run off to begin the rest of my life, I thought I’d take a while to recall the best moments of this last one year. A countdown of sorts of the 5 most enduring memories of my year at Mumbai:

Domestic Life: Though hostel was communal, we had the luxury of single rooms and thus, the ability to shut out the world at will. So I had always wondered whether five years of life like that had spoiled me completely and rendered me incapable of sharing living quarters. That question was definitely answered when Bombay real estate prices being the way they were meant that three of us had to share a two bedroom flat. Sharing a house, setting it up, putting ‘systems’ in place which would work ‘automatically’ without daily mental and physical effort on our part, and maintaining them with all their myriad problems proved surprisingly difficult and also just as much fun. So living with the family is my Mumbai Memory # 5.

Mumbai monsoons: Last year, we din’t experience the Mumbai monsoons so much outside as we did inside. So coming home one rainy Saturday, (coincidentally, in the very day we had gotten our flat registered) to find our flat flooded, then spending the next hour/hour and a half trying to rid ourselves of the inch deep water all around, and then laughing over all the hassle, makes up my Mumbai Memory #4.

Tea and Toast: Well, the point of my Mumbai sojourn was to join the Banyan Tree Community, and I did spend a lot of time there. So inevitably one of my memories is of the BTC. For a while, a colleague and I had this ritual of ‘early morning’ tea at the office. We would begin our day with a walk to the pantry to get ourselves some tea and then chat with all fellow first years on our way back. Unfortunately, we both soon got too busy to spend even those first fifteen minutes fooling around and the tradition ended. But right about then, my cubie mate introduced me and a bunch of us to the heaven that was Zunka-Bhakar’s cheese toast. And suddenly we had ourselves a brand new morning ritual. So everyday, whoever amongst us got into office first, would order us these white bread, dripping with cheese and butter, wholly unhealthy but sinfully tasty cheese toasts. Even blue blooded founding partners and health conscious equity partners were in on the secret and though they berated us daily and told us how we would all die within the next week for what we were doing to our bodies, their hearts too were in those cheese toasts. So the perfect beginning to so many of my BTC mornings is my Mumbai Memory #3.

House: The medical series. My roommate introduced me to it and from the first episode on, I was hooked! So much so that for a while even in office, I would catch myself thinking of the last case we saw and wonder how the inimitable, irritating, yet wonderful Dr. House would deal with the newest conspiracy against him in the hospital! Those were still the times when all of us would get back home in time for dinner and thus we would have the time for atleast one episode before we closed shop for the night. I watched just the one season – the first one and loved every moment of it – as much the company as the series itself. Then, as usual, we got too busy for Dr. House and this tradition ended. This is however one series, which in my mind is linked inextricably with the company I had while watching it. Without that company, am pretty sure will never again watch the remainder of the series. So watching House with my roommate is my Mumbai Memory #2.

Friday Movies: But my best Mumbai memory is of the Friday Movie Routine. No so much the movies themselves as the process of planning for it. Nearly every single week, we would come up with a shortlist of movies that were to be released / currently running that we wanted to watch. Then would begin the debate about which one to actually watch. Diligent research of newspaper, internet, speculative and word of mouth reviews for almost each film and spirited debate would precede the actual decision. Then would come the ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘with who all’ questions and research on what option would best take into account all permutations and combinations. Were we going to include others or was it just to be a ‘family affair’? And ofcourse wither dinner? Had we informed Anita before hand? Would we be wasting good dinner at home or was the home cooked dinner of the expendable kind? Many such complex questions later, we would actually land at the movie (usually PVR, Phoenix, night show). This tradition continued till the very end. Despite office pressures (at worst the movie plan would get shifted to Saturday), through the rush of LLM applications, and all other myriad household chores. Thus, for being the one thing that we looked forward to almost every week, for being the one thing all of us would always make time for, and for being so very much fun (both in the planning and in the execution), the Friday Movie Ritual is my Mumbai Memory #1.

Honourable mentions: Bun maska, Kulfi, and the five mins of nightly chatting sessions we used to have after the TV was switched off and the computers shut down, just before we headed to our respective beds, did not make the top five, but they definitely deserve an honourable mention. I enjoyed them as much as my top five and will miss them just as much.