All posts by AdiC

Writing is the passion... Thoughts arise, words flow and the excitement never subsides!

Calcutta Calling!

Oh, Calcutta. You beauty.

The moment I stepped out of the airplane, the air came down on me warm and heavy! My body knew it was in Calcutta before my brain could even decode the neural transmissions. I can feel dampness in my breath. My hair feels sticky all over. And my jeans feel like they’ve shrunk two sizes. Time to tie my hair in a bun. Calcutta, here I come!

As I walk down the too familiar lanes of the neighbourhood I was brought up in, I see known faces, known shops, the same muri seller, fruit vendor, cobbler, security guards and even beggars. I smile at them, some smile back, some don’t. Some remember me, throw a greeting, others don’t, wondering if the heat is playing with their mind. Even the graffiti on the wall seems the same! A wave of nostalgia washes over me again, yet again. I say yet again because every six months that I head back to town, I realise how little it has changed and how the comfort of knowing the place makes me feel happy and sheltered.

The more I look around, draw comparatives, recall memories of times spent in the nooks and crannies of the city, the more I realise nothing’s changed. Nothing’s changed and yet something has. The city has moved on without me yet it remains the same. I can smell the sweat, hear the shouts of the boudi in the bus, see the kids taking a shower under water tanker tap, feel the camaraderie only this city exudes. And yet I too have changed. The nostalgia washes over as waves but I know that I will swim through these too. Home still feels home but I don’t rush to read through my scrapbooks or run my hand over the trophies I’d won.

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Maybe, like the city, I too, am growing. Older and wiser, each day.

Graciously Yours!

Open Up The Spaces.

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There I was, sitting on the topmost stair of the spectators’ gallery of a playground, writing, when a soccer ball landed with a thud right on my foot. I was taken by surprise and flooded with a flurry of apologies. I wasn’t hurt, no. But I roused concern among the boys. But why only the boys? Because there were no other girls around.

Why do men have a monopoly over open spaces? Why, if you look at the massive green stretches of open spaces in our cities and possibly even towns, do you find scores and scores of men playing all sorts of sports but no women? Why are we women still found standing by the entrance watching them play from afar, waiting for the men to return to us? Why can’t we swing the bat hard? Why can’t we kick a soccer ball away? Why can’t we dribble in sweat and exhilarate with ten others at a game played well? Why can’t we grab and hold in kabaddi? Why are we at the edges? Why are we scared of injuring ourselves?

Why do I see girls play badminton? Or cycle? Or skip? Or just choose to go for a walk? Why not put them together in teams too? Why not teach them to be a leader, a team player, bond with each other over match strategies and get that competitive spirit going? Why not teach our women to pull up other women and not push them down? Why not familiarize them with the touch of men so that they know the difference between the touch of love and lust? Why don’t our brothers teach us to toughen up? Why are our cuts and bruises scolded for and theirs disregarded? Well, that actually shows women are more careful about first aid, but you get the point, right?

What are we so scared of?

That our women will get hurt? Or they might disagree to sit inside homes any longer?

That our women will bring the team down? Or that they’ll become strong enough to form their own teams?

That they might overexert? Or that they will learn to embrace their bodies as they are?

What in the world are we afraid of?
Are we more fearful of our insecure men?
Or are we fearful of making our women secure?

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The author is well aware of the countless women who have made a superlative mark in the world of professional sports and is in no way trying to belittle the spectacular magnitude of their efforts. The author is well aware of women who are pushing all limits exceedingly well and breaking glass barriers every day. This post is not intended for those women. Instead, it is intended to bring out the other ladies, young and old, strong and weak, into the open so that they find out for themselves what wonders their graceful, lithe bodies can do, if only they allowed it to!

Graciously Yours!

The Cycling Chronicles.

What do I have in common with Lance Armstrong? Greg LeMond? Peter Sagan? Nothing at all. Except that they are some of the best cyclists humankind has known and I might probably be one of the worst. Or let me just be modest and say, humankind might see me as a person who’s awkwardly seated, desperate to un-hunch her shoulders, clearly locking her elbows and panting on inclines but cycling nonetheless!

I have only known how to cycle for about a dozen months now. It’s a shocker to most people and yes, I am still trying to respond to “What were you really doing as a child then?!”.

Of recent, I have finally gathered the courage to cycle on the main roads, albeit at light traffic hours, but it should still count – considering I’m collecting enough anecdotes to write a post about!

  • My usual morning workout includes cycling a couple of kms before I hit the gym – the snag being that the road is almost at a 20-degree incline and it is ‘oh-so-not-easy’! The burn in my thighs and the shortness of breath kill, while I dissuade myself from staring back at passers-by who would have probably walked past faster, and also because India (we have people everywhere, all the time). One of those days when I was barely wheezing past the stretch of incline, my speed faltered, a couple of vehicles overtook, distracted me and bam! Turbulence hit, brakes were applied but I still went and rammed into a garbage truck picking up its trash. Wait. Don’t jump to dirty conclusions! The truck was okay. The cycle was okay. I was okay. And no garbage fell on anyone, anywhere. I swear. Otherwise, there would have been a selfie, for sure! One doesn’t experience a lot many selfie worthy embarrassing moments in life.

 

  • Guess what happened one of those days when I parked my cycle below the gym and was happily sweating it out upstairs? Someone ran off with one of the handle grips on my cycle. Or they might have sauntered off at a leisurely pace. I will never know. What I will remember are the scratches and cuts my right hand faced that morning while cycling back due to the absence of said pilfered item. How much could have a handle grip cost them? Or was that funny for them? Haha. Not funny.
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And just like that – vandalism enters my life.
  • My cycle seems to be a pet peeve for many around. The other day someone left an empty plastic water bottle in the basket. I ignored it thinking one of the building staff might have left it there by mistake. The next day a bouquet of dried out roses were stashed there. Of course, people have asked me if it was left there for me by a “secret admirer”. But what if they were left behind by the person who stole my handle grip and then he stole this bouquet from someone’s trash and thinks dried roses can be apologetic enough? The world works in mysterious ways.
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Roses and no note? I want my note! You can take the roses away.
  • We all strive to look cool once in a while. I thought my Bluetooth earphones might do the trick for me. I put them on one morning, but they didn’t last a minute in my ears. Thanks to the uneven and pothole-riddled roads of Bangalore, the earphones kept dropping out and became more of a distracting menace than a cool kids’ gizmo! So cool of you Bangalore city, so cool. Attention on the road is more important than looking cool. I get it! Thanks.

See you around. Cycling, hopefully.

Graciously Yours!

P.S.: Also, thank you A, for literally running with me all those weeks, helping me get a hang of figure eights and u-turns and, simply, cycling.

Them.

While I sleep, the world around me is awake. Not today though. I am awake too. But only in the body, not in the mind. But then was I ever?

These people, the ones out here – they know something I don’t. They look at me and exchange glances. They stare me down. I look away. But for how long? And where? They are everywhere. They point towards me when I don’t look. I can feel it. Or is it my imagination? They pause while I walk by. I walk faster. Rushing along, not sure where I am headed. The road is straight, lined with concrete on both sides. Trees grow from within the concrete. The people – they’re all moving in the opposite direction. Only I walk towards the horizon, the horizon where the Sun didn’t rise from.

They don’t look at me. They stare through me and yet their gaze is piercing.  I look away too fast. I can’t read their eyes. Is it pity at my ignorance? Anger that I don’t bother? Or is it angst at how I am spending my life? Caution that I want to join their tribe? Or are they curious? Do they not see me as one of them?

I know I am different from them. My necessities are luxuries for them. They might have lesser than me but their smiles reach their eyes. They build a life while I simply redecorate. I have all that I want and more than I could ask for. What do I do with these though? Why are we really living? Or is it death that we await?

Graciously Yours!

Moo Points?

My week started on a bad note – regular household issues – oh yes, we bachelors have those too. No maid, cook screwed up the food quantities, delayed to work, no transport, traffic and oh, the heat! So coming up, are a lot of moo points. Take it or leave it, but do read it!

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As I strode purposefully towards the main road, following my Mom’s advice to calm down, cars and bikes zipping past me, a cab honking at me for taking up road space (well, the footpath could give me a sprain, they’re that bad), I saw a cow ambling at 10 am in the morning, barely moving enough to place one foot ahead of the other, ten seconds at a time.

Cars conveniently circled around her and went their way, not even bothering to honk. Why me then? Why was I expected to be on the footpath when this cow could do whatever she liked? Why did I have to chide myself for being late for office at 10 in the morning when this cow could just loiter around, literally doing nothing!

“Eat more meat.” “Focus on your calcium intake.” “What about carbs?” “And when will you take those multivitamins?” So much talk about food and food preparation. If she’s hungry, she doesn’t even have to go to the kitchen to whip up something or Swiggy food! She can just regurgitate food ingested earlier and chew it again! Not that I want my ingested food back in my mouth, urgh, but just sayin’!

She can be white. She can be black. She can be brown. Or even a mix of all three. And she’ll still be loved for who she is. Why? Why do I have to then worry about being tanned? Why can’t I just be I loved for who I am?

Oh and here in a country where Hinduism is largely significant, she even gets protection for just being who she is – a female. Talk about harming a cow and behold the furore that will persist. While we two-legged women carry around pepper sprays even in broad daylight – for the exact same reason – because we’re females.

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And that’s how I ended up with an existential crisis conferred upon me by a lone cow, walking at her own pace in the middle of a road, refusing to make way for the world rushing around.

The heat fried my brains, I guess.

Still,

Graciously Yours!

Pakistan vs Terrorism.

For the longest time in my living memory, people around me, including me, have referred to Pakistan as the terrorist state, the country which perpetrates terror. But in my heart, call me naive, foolish or whatever you may, all Pakistanis weren’t terrorists, all elements related to Pakistan did not get synced with terrorism. Yes, Atif Aslam has a beautiful voice! Sana Munir is a budding author. Shahid Afridi never grows old. Fawad Khan is a looker. Oh, that blue-eyed tea seller! And so many others who have tried to establish a name for themselves but happened to have been born in Pakistan.

My heart says there are countless Pakistani citizens who condemn what the Army and Government are choosing to ignore. They condemn the nefarious terrorist activities being conducted in their country but are as helpless as we are in the face of uncontrolled elements in our own country of living. There is absolutely no excuse for all of those people who, irrespective of their caste, religion, country, gender, and colour, encourage activities which will consume lives and spread unprecedented, uncontrolled fear in the hearts of innocents. Be it a Hindu or a Muslim, an Indian or a Pakistani – if you support terrorism, you ought to be wiped out. No God has allowed us to take lives, you say. But no God allowed you either, we say. There isn’t much difference between the angel and the devil, wars have no rules – it’s the side that matters.

News of the threats to Karachi Bakery, a name that I have associated with the city of Hyderabad since I was old enough to pronounce it, really scared me. The elements of extremism are prevalent in India too and they’ve only just started showing up their painful rear. For a bakery that has for years been feeding people, has thrived on popularity and their ability to churn out the sweetest of biscuits shouldn’t have to prove their patriotism or their citizenship just because their founders happened to hail from a country in Pakistan. Similarly, no other person should be singled out to prove their loyalty to India, based on their religion, place of birth or pre-1947 place of living.

Pakistan and India have a shared history which either of us cannot deny or erase. People who’ve been to the other side of the border have professed of the hospitality and love they’ve received by the common man. There are common man counterparts there too who are sick of false promises, inflation, job insecurity, the daily drudgery of life. If a war broke out, it would not only cripple them, as already seen by the Karachi Stock Exchange crash, it would also hit India hard. In the bleak global economy, India is optimistic. Let us try and remain that way. Our war, as iterated numerous times by the Government and the Defence Forces is not against Pakistan. Our war is against terror, which happens to be an unwelcome guest in the neighbourhood.

 

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A proud moment at the Wagah-Attari border ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony.

Graciously Yours!

 

 

Boots.

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She trudged along the gravelled path,

Far from home, lost in the rush of the world,

Her boots worn, her back stooped,

The winds, cold and brazen, cut across,

The skin on her face drooped.

 

Her eyes stung with tears,

That refused to fall out,

She shut them close,

Wanting to push the world out.

 

Alone and desolate, she bawled,

Her cries ringing, echoing in her own ears,

Her thoughts drowning out what little sound was left,

Over clicking boots and howling winds,

She didn’t hear the answers to her calls of help!

Help may not always come in the shape you desired but it will be there, in the most unexpected circumstances, from the most unexpected people. Never cease to believe that you’re cared for, loved by and the pride of someone among the 7 billion of us and counting!

Let those boots take you to places but never forget what coming back home is like. Home, after all, is where the heart is. ❤

Graciously Yours!

 

 

My happy place.

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The Internet, as we all know it, can be a vicious place to be. If you still don’t know it, well, you haven’t explored enough. Right from seeking gratification to fake news, keeping up with TikTok videos and the latest record-breaking egg, medical remedies to tips on how to build your own rocket, you will find it all. It’s brought the world closer together but it’s also taken us apart.

I am sure each of you has had days where you just want to keep the phone aside and not look at what the internet had to offer. The deluge of information can be overwhelming and a detox work sometimes but then you get hit by FOMO! In all of this confusion, what do you really do with those twiddling thumbs?

I try to detox every once in a while but I am left with my own thoughts which do not really help because they’re, if I may say so, contaminated by social media. Everything seems so peachy and perfect on social media that I start questioning the daily rigours I face in life. For once I’d like to know the challenges people face, the scars that are healing, the pain hidden behind those smiles. I’d like to know the people for who they are and not for what they want to project.

So how do you find a happy place on the World Wide Web? One that assures that it will take care of you, it will not let you down, bring a smile on your face. I found mine! Pinterest. And I cannot swear by it enough. It’s helped me through two heartbreaks, endless writer’s blocks, restless hours of melancholy, dried spells of humour, DIY craft spurts and hell, even when I wanted to drool over the hotness we can never seem to find in our daily lives. No one’s competing for attention there, no one’s trying to up the ante further, no one’s liking or commenting and if they are, I am blissfully unaware. All you find are pictures people have pinned on to their boards, private or public, and the algorithms do the rest based on your search keywords.

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Pinterest to me represents the true collaboration of how far one’s choices and ideas can go if one only has the intent of not seeking validation but instead sharing it because they wanted to. I love the quotes, life stories and confessions that you find up there! They restore my faith in humanity. Pinterest makes me come to terms with the fact that whatever be my life story, someone else is also living the same story somewhere out there, if not worse.

In a world of seven billion people, I may be unique but I am not alone!

Graciously Yours!

P.S.: This is not a sponsored post, though I wish they did sponsor me! If only. *Sigh*

Constant Vigilance.

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Cobra. Bodyguard. Impower. Bullet. What are these, you wonder? Brand names of pepper spray. Why do I know, you ask? Because New Years’ Eve happened.

Unlike so many others in Bangalore, I wrapped up work at 5 PM on NYE to head home! Yes, I wanted to stay indoors while the rest of city revelled out in ten degrees of chill. If finding commute on regular days is a pain, that evening was exceptionally terrible. It took me ten minutes of futile attempts at booking an Uber and three refusals, before an auto driver agreed to drop me home, by the meter. Anyone who’s travelled in Bangalore knows ‘by the meter’ is a blessing. But was I to know what would follow? In the guise of a request for smaller notes to buy gasoline, he borrowed 2000 bucks from me, skipped the gas stations and took a wrong turn. On my insistence to return the money back, he stopped at the beginning of a flyover, turned around to scare me with stories of a fresh murder he’d committed and threatened to put a knife through me. I, obviously, didn’t want to see him brandish a knife, so a couple of futile attempts later I got off the auto, lest he drive away with me. Oh, he wasn’t crazy; he was crazy drunk. I saw him speed away with my money, but more importantly, my composure and the peace of my family and friends. At the end of three hours, I’d found my strength again, a helpful auto driver and with my friends in tow, filed a complaint with the police.

They say PTSD is diagnosed after a month of the symptoms, which generally show up around 3 months after the tragedy. But what is the diagnosis for the deviant thoughts that strike me every time I step into an auto now? What about the anxiety that rushes through me when the auto driver takes a shorter, new route? What about my friends now who keep asking me if I’ve reached home, while I am still stuck in Bangalore traffic? What would I have done if the man had taken out a knife? You’d say ‘don’t overthink’. I try not to. But when I look out of the auto to distract myself, I catch myself reading auto license plate numbers, searching for the one I’d unfortunately ridden in. When I look inside the auto, I furtively glance at the driver in the rear view mirror. When they argue about the fare now, I prefer to get down midway. When I give them a bigger note, I worry if they’ll return the change. This happened in broad daylight – would I have survived an attempt at night? I have seldom felt more vulnerable in Bangalore but that day in the usually crowded metropolis I found no person to walk up to. There were barely any cars on the roads, people were scattered around on a five-point crossing and there was no traffic police guard. Post my written complaint, I expected the police to immediately start a search to nab a drunk driver – after all, I did have his license plate details on camera. But I can’t tell them how to do their job, right? Would the driver have done this if a man sat in the back seat? Would a pepper spray have helped me? Could I have punched him in the face and gotten my money back? What if the driver hadn’t stopped the auto at my insistence? Should I have sat there and argued or cowered at his macho attempts to scare me?

I am not maligning all auto drivers. But nor do I plan to forgive and forget what happened. What I wonder is what had I done wrong? How do I ensure that I don’t get into another such situation? How do you ensure constant vigilance?

Oh, also. Happy New Year! ❤

Graciously Yours!

Cooking up a storm!

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I am 26. I am single. I am a female. In India, that’s enough to set people rattling off about marriage and family planning. In my case, more advice follows about learning to do tasks that suit a woman in the house than one in office. To name a few – cooking, stitching, birthing, being graceful, looking pretty, being an ideal daughter-in-law, the ideal wife, the presentable new addition to the family. These were my bones of contention with a man who would have almost cut me off at the knees, stopping just in time as he rightly realised the bloodbath that would follow. Needless to say, I didn’t take it well. Oh yes, I didn’t take his abstaining well! And I console myself thinking many others wouldn’t have either. Love has mysterious ways of revealing the real you. What do I do to ward off the very things we parted ways over? Do those exact things to prove myself capable, to perfect myself, to console myself that he didn’t fight hard enough for me.

So I cooked the other evening. There were reasons, of course, which had nothing to do with proving to myself that I could cook. Or so I tell myself. I was procrastinating working on my manuscript, at some level of my subconscious. The mood to write just wasn’t right! So cooking. Also because the cook hadn’t turned up. And my flatmate couldn’t be fed take-away with a running body temperature of 102 degrees! So you ask what is the big deal about cooking? Well, there isn’t. At least in my mind. Except, people around me (read: relatives, the ones who call me twice a year – on my birthday and on their birthday to remind me that I’d forgotten about them. Well, I didn’t forget you. I chose not to remember you.) think it is a vital sign of being a good wife. And here I thought I should prepare to commit myself to a partner, whole and soul. I don’t particularly enjoy cooking. Maybe because most of my favourite dishes are best eaten raw! Salads, sprouts, fruits, milkshakes, sandwiches! But like everything else, I like to do it well, whenever I do cook. And lo behold! I cooked the main course for three people with stunning ease and a record time of 40 minutes. Of course, I’m only talking about rice, lentils and a curry, but hello? It was stomach filling, soul-fulfilling and lip-smacking – with a serving of ghee added to it. To all those skeptics and cynics, why do you keep cooking up a storm?

When the time comes, life teaches you everything. Or it perishes you. Why do you have to keep pushing people into a box, trying to fit them into standards, forcing them to keep up with how the world was fifty years ago when you were our age? Why is it still expected of women to be the ones running the house and holding together the fort, while encashing cheques at the month end? What is the man bringing to the table except for the money? Pray, tell me, if it was just about the money, then as a woman with financial stability and an understanding of financial management, why do I really need you men? Maybe a little consideration? Maybe join me as I flunk ‘Cooking 102’? Maybe let’s have a good laugh over how easy calculating ROI is compared to roasting the wheat flour just brown enough to not burn it for the halwa? Maybe let me sit around and watch you churn a chocolate banana milkshake for me? It’s about wanting to run the house with my partner, rather than for him. And if he isn’t ready for it? Well, then he needs to haul his ass from the couch and come stand by my side like a man.

Oh also. I can stitch a button on as good as I can your lips!

Graciously Yours!