Why I don’t follow news

I did not follow the JNU news for a long time, because I have almost entirely stopped consuming any news. First, I feel very depressed after reading it and tend to focus only on the negatives; second, I don’t like how news is covered sensationalizing all the negative and hardly ever covering the good things happening on a smaller level (although, it’s very possible that I tend to only read the negative and completely bypass the positive).

Being a JNUite myself, I couldn’t refrain from wanting to know what’s happening for too long. And like I anticipated, I was filled with depressing thoughts and fear of what might happen. I still have friends staying in the campus. Let’s face it, we’ve got a problem if students are categorically singled out and charged with something as serious as sedition.Celebrating Afzal Guru as a hero is stupid, but picking up a student who wasn’t around just because he is not from ABVP is stupider. Add to the circus the lack of proof of whether the event actually even happened in JNU. First FTII, now JNU. It’s a massive problem when the state tries to interfere with education system and vilifies students. We should all be worried of this trend.

The bigger problem for me is the complete lack of dialogue and discussion. People are calling each other commies, congies, bhaktards and what not. It’s almost scary to try to fit any opposing opinions in such blanket categories. And the negative news mongering leads people to use words such as these for slandering without even knowing what they actually mean. Are you calling anyone holding a liberal view a communist? Or should you call the saffron brigade anti-national for wanting to send Indian citizens to Pakistan for expressing an opinion different from their ow? I am from JNU and I love it, but I am  against the somewhat rampant “parasite culture” on campus where some students stay on campus forever enjoying the benefits meant for students without really studying or adding anything to the research repository. Will I be termed as a Bhaktard then now that I am against one aspect of the “commie” campus life? See? The problem with blanket categorizing?

I saw Shahela Rashid’s speech yesterday and was filled with pride to see students from my alma mater hold such ideals and express them fearlessly. I was almost envious of such conviction and courage. I have strong opinions, but not strong enough to yank me out of a comfortable life I have built and have always been in favor of for myself. And then I read the hateful comments, so vicious as if people were trying to beat her up with words. I don’t understand how one could read such sane and logical words as anti-national. And then I regretted having read the news at all, because that hatred filled me with fear. You cannot have a dialogue if the other person is not willing to listen and learn. If for the other person, just knowing that you have a different opinion is enough to want to kill you. If the other person is so pro-violence that all they need is to use words that ignite public fury and make people want to kill each other. I mean what can you say if your frame of reference for everything is Pakistan. Any dissent and your answer is, “Go to Pakistan. You want freedom, there you won’t even be able to talk”. What if people just don’t want development and only want to compare with what is worse and be content with the status quo.

I fear that people will want to hit me if I even tell them I am from JNU. Apparently, we are a weird democracy. Or may be a democracy transitioning into something else. Because if you disagree or use your constitutional right of freedom of expression, you should get the hell out.

Yesterday, husband and I were having a very interesting chat. He is an  optimist. And I have started seeing sense in his point of view because ultimately, what’s most important to me on a personal level is peace of mind. He believes we people have more in common than not and on a macro level, the situation is generally not as bad as we think it is. I am beginning to see his point. I don’t need to know people’s views on politics and religion to get on with my day-to-day life. It’s not even a factor. In fact, I’d rather not know them at all. I get along really well with our domestic help, our security guard, our istriwallah, the neighbor. And what connects us is not our political differences but something far more simple: as people living together in society and our common interest in mundane things like how fresh the fish is today, or what was that yelling coming from the neighbor’s house. May be it’s not so bad after all. Otherwise, wouldn’t it have been impossible to communicate? And surprisingly, we communicate well enough, sometimes, even without a common language.

Social media has made it really easy for us to just yell out because there’s a platform. You are not required to dig deeper, understand points of view, cross-check, analyze. Reporting negative news is easy. Just take pictures and tell things exactly as you “see” them. It’s a vicious circle. The news we are fed is based entirely on TRPs and then Facebook makes it convenient to add to the madness without taking any serious effort on our part. Because it’s news right? How can it be wrong? That’s the thing though; reporting has come down to capturing what you see without any analysis. It is sad that the good and simple things happening in JNU were never reported. But you see, they are not interesting enough. Good doesn’t hold an appeal. But violence, anger, hatred, fires, rapes sell fast.

I feel inadequate sometimes when I have no clue about what people are discussing, thanks to not reading the news. But I am beginning to wonder if it is indeed good for me to revel in my ignorance. What are your thoughts people. Do you feel helpless and scared and disappointed on consuming news? Have you ever felt like staying away from news? Or do you engage in periodic news fasts?



I like to hear stories. I didn’t value them when my grandma used to weave a magical world just with her words and make the story telling into a proper dramatic performance. But now, I want to be told a story every night. I ask the husband to tell me a story, but he isn’t very keen. So yesterday I asked him to play a game where we each tell one line, and the other builds up another line over it to form a story.

Of course, the first 10 mins were spent in joking about it. He said, “There was a little boy in a house.” I asked, “What’s his name?” Husband then scolded me for asking a question and said, “His name is Sandeep. The end.”😦 We started the whole exercise again and came up with this.

There was a little boy. He was 6 years old. It was summer holidays and he was bored and lonely. His house was on the other side of the river bank, while the rest of the village was on this side. He wanted to go to the village to pluck mangoes. He liked to steal mangoes from a tree in particular house. He waited at the river bank for the boatman to take him to the village. But the boatman wouldn’t agree because he was really young and didn’t have enough coins. The little boy then saw his older brother and his friends playing a few meters away. He asked the brother to take him to the other side. The older brother was really annoyed as he didn’t want his little brother to show up and embarrass him when he was pretending to be so cool with his friends. But the little brother just kept standing there, hoping for the older brother to give in.

The older brother and his friends finally decided to take the younger brother across. So they all set out in the next boat. Within 5 minutes they left the little brother at the other side. It took the little boy a few minutes to realize that although his brother had helped him cross, he was actually left at a spot a few kilometers away from the actual village. The older brother had taken his revenge.

The little boy was confused and wanted to cry when something shiny on a tree a few meters away caught his eye. He walked towards the tree all excited. But as he reached the tree, he realized that the shiny object was much higher up than he thought. So the little boy started climbing the tree. His knees and arms were getting scratched as he wasn’t used to climbing a tree, and his little feet couldn’t get a good grip. Finally, after half an hour he managed to reach where the object was. He saw that it was a smooth piece of stone that shone when the sunlight reflected on it. But he saw that a bird was actually holding the stone. The bird kept staring at the boy curiously for a few seconds before flying off. Disappointed, the boy surveyed his surroundings from the top and spotted a pile of similar stones a few yards away.

He climbed down the tree and started walking towards the shiny pile. His disappointment only increased when he realized that the pile was actually pieces of broken glass that shone due to the sun. He was about to walk towards the village disappointed, when he spotted a stone. A stone very similar to what the bird had. Only a part of it was visible above the earth but the rest of it was hidden deep under. The boy tried to scrape off the mud, but the stone didn’t move. He then picked up sharp stone and tried again, but no luck. The bird had been watching the little boy from the top. In fact, he had been hovering over the boat and had seen how sad and lonely the boy felt. The bird flew down and helped the boy dig the area around the stone with his beak. The little boy finally got the stone. He petted the bird with love and happy, trotted off to the village to pluck mangoes.

As he neared his favorite house, he started feeling a little scared. The owner of the house was a mean, old man who was known to thrash anyone caught stealing mangoes with a long thin cane. But the mangoes in his house were just the best. And they looked so inviting and plump. The boy was also hungry with all the tree climbing and walking. He picked up a stone and aimed at the ripe, golden mango nearest to him. Unfortunately, the stone hit the window and made a loud noise. The mean man, as if waiting for an opportunity to thrash someone, came out with his cane. He looked huge and was red with anger. The little boy froze in place as he saw the mean man nearing him. He was in tears as the man approached him with the cane. And then the man just passed him by and started yelling, looking for the culprit. He kept circling around the boy, calling out names and running around frustrated.

That’s when the boy realized that the shiny stone made him invisible. Happy, he walked back to the river bank and took the boat all alone. He just had to climb in. He could come back for the mango tomorrow.


Hope from 2016

Like I said earlier, I am not making any resolutions this year. But there are a couple of things I have in mind that I hope to work towards and achieve. Calling something a resolution gives it an inflexible quality in my head, and it’s this sort of inflexibility that I am hoping to eliminate from my life this year.

So, here are a few things I want to achieve, and the only reason to pen them down is to have a list I can go back to in case I forget.

  1. Get into the scientific study of nutrition and health. I love all things diet and nutrition: reading about it, cooking holistically, trying different grains and millets, veggies, oils, salts, what have you…, understanding various eating philosophies, understanding what food does and doesn’t do to our bodies. I read about everything related to eating well and living a wellness-inspired lifestyle, that I might as well look for some distance courses to boost up my mere interest.
  2. Eliminate a constant feeling of insecurity and anxiety. I really hope to grow on a personal level into a balanced and well rounded person. A part of that would include living in the moment and not stressing about what the future outcome of a current undesirable situation might be. I have plenty of inspiration at hand to look up to. Dad, sis and husband are classic examples. Mum is also a deeply content person who doesn’t get affected by things like status anxiety.
  3. Focus more on fitness. I already do regular exercise,  but I want to strive towards having a more active lifestyle rather than just doing bursts of intense physical activity 4-5 times a week.
  4. Read more and diversity reading topics. I mostly read fiction and that too of a specific kind. This year I want to diversify that and pick up books without prejudice and judgment.
  5. Find ways to connect with people. I pretty much constantly oscillate between feelings of superiority and inferiority complexes, which compromises my ability to be friends with people who are not like me. Which brings me to the next point.
  6. Be accepting of people who are not exactly like me. I realized that as much as I like to think I am not judgmental, I am bitterly so in case of people who are not what I deem rational and progressive. While I think that rationality and progressiveness is what all societies should consistently drive towards, it’s really wrong to discard people who don’t fit the bill. Because let’s face it, I am a result of my social setup and conditioning which by a stroke of unbelievable good luck was the best one could get. So, while I can’t force myself to like people or agree with their views, I can definitely make an attempt to be civil and calm when I deal with them. Which brings me to the next point again.
  7. Listen more, speak less. Need I say anymore?
  8. Work towards de-addicting from all kinds of social media and compulsive dependence on the internet. Again, this brings to my next point.
  9. Cultivate more patience. I have never been an example of calm demeanor and patience. But the internet and easy availability of just about anything has made me more impatient. I noticed that the moment I find myself in the middle of a conversation that is either boring or related to subjects I don’t care about, I start scrolling the net for interesting stuff to read. This easy access and flipping from one activity to another definitely adds up in making your patience takes a back seat.
  10. Work on relationships. I used to think that I don’t like people and prefer to be on my own all the time. This is partly true. But it’s not that I don’t like people in general, just that I like very specific kind of people. I am consciously going to work on fostering relations I care about and make an attempt to reach out to people, even if that doesn’t come naturally to me. It doesn’t even have to be new people. Just people I love dearly but take for granted…like my grandparents.
  11. Not overthink stuff. I have decided to give less fucks about stuff that doesn’t really matter. I have a tendency to over analyze every little detail about stuff and then end up feeling guilty about it for hours. I am going to develop a rational attitude towards not dwelling on things in the past that have already happened and can’t be changed, but will focus more on not repeating the same mistakes or errors in judgment again.
  12. Accept reality and things that are beyond my control. I have always had problems accepting the status quo and stressing myself crazy asking why and how. But since it’s easier to accept the situation to deal with it better, I am going to develop a coping mechanism to deal with unpleasant truths and realities that I can do very little to change, or for which I have no inclination to spend enough time to bring about any change.

There. I have made a list of what I think is important, no essential, to be a better version of myself. Here’s hoping that I find the positivity to inculcate this and make micro-level changes in myself.

Dear readers, is there anything you hope to change in yourself or in your life this year? What are you looking forward to?



2015: A Year That Was

I have decided to take stock of the year to someday look back and try to re-live key moments of a year. I have written New Years resolutions post before, but given that I have never been able to keep up with them, putting it out in the world is just a reminder of my lack of self discipline. So no more resolutions, just plain simple record of things achieved, lost, memories created and some such.

So here goes, the good and the bad, in no particular order.

  1. Bhutan trip without a doubt was the best thing that happened this year. I came back refreshed with a strong resolve to visit this beautiful places many many times over.
  2. The recurring pain in my back and the left-side of my body worsened and I spent days in a foul mood. This has been going on with me for the last several years and the orthopedic doctor has rubbished my doubts about some serious problem by saying that I needed to just relax my mind. I did realize though that my pain worsens when I am worried and anxious.
  3. Watched Mad Men, along with a several other series, but this just stayed with me.
  4. Changed jobs (again), with the prospect of a better salary, but so far that has been a bit of a disappointment. Hoping for a better 2016 job-wise.
  5. Attended zumba and yoga classes fairly religiously and I do feel like my body has become more toned.
  6. Made fettuccine pasta at home. I don’t know why this is such a big deal to me. But making fresh pasta had been sort of a dream and I never thought the experience would be so rewarding for the process that was fairly simple. Plus it makes me proud that I did it without a pasta machine.
  7. Started a new tradition of donating some money to various causes every time I have a new job. I might think of setting aside a modest annual budget for this every year.
  8. Surprisingly, made 4 new friends at two different jobs (that’s a personal record) and decided to make an effort towards my friendships.
  9. Got more active in the blogosphere and formed some valuable relationships. Blogging sisters, are you listening? You know who you are.
  10. Booked a flat. All happened suddenly and not sure how I feel about it yet, given that husband and I aren’t particularly happy in our jobs to have signed up for such a big commitment. But I have decided not to sweat stuff till the stuff ACTUALLY happens.
  11. Finally learnt the basic jive steps from husband’s friend. I love jive but don’t have a partner. So finally took advantage of a party we hosted to learn and from what I am told, I picked it up fabulously. Only, I feel more hopeless now that I have tasted the fun but have no way to keep continuing. The husband has two left feet and zero interest, and going by the cold shoulder I had given this friend of his the first time he we met, I don’t see why he would want to oblige. Damn! I really need to learn to hide my true feelings and develop somewhat of a poker face. ugghhh!

Anyway, that’s all I remember. So what’s happening in your lives? Any resolutions for 2016? Any regrets for 2015?

The autowalla who made my day

If you have been living in Bangalore for a while, you know what a nightmarish experience dealing with autowallahs can be.  I blame many of them for my frustration, anger, and angst. And for a while, this was my daily dose of the negative for the day. Firstly, they refuse to go pretty much anywhere at all; secondly, they dare to charge such a ridiculous amount that you end up laughing at the absurdity of the expectation; thirdly, if at all you do agree to pay the lower end of the ridiculous scale they might charge, you are still not guaranteed a comfortable and safe ride. Most of the autowallahs I have travelled with have been rash, have pretty much harassed women on streets my braking only within an inch of woman’s scooter, have honked non-stop on empty patches, have coughed and spat on the road, have played loud music, have given me the creepy stare through the rearview mirror, and I can keep going.

So you can imagine my excitement when I met an autowallah who not only didn’t scare me, but later made me regret not having asked his name and told him that he was an awesome human being.

I generally take the shuttle to and from office, but once a week or so, I return home earlier in an auto. It can be quite an ordeal given that it takes a minimum of an hour to reach home. I always factor in outright denial to go, extra charges, tricky seat, etc.

Last week, it was different. The awesome autowallah in question agreed to go where I wanted to without a question or whining. He started the meter as soon as I got in. He had no loud music, he didn’t think that his life and prestige depended on almost killing several people on the road. He was incredibly calm and poised. He did not race or honk. He did not overtake any vehicle. He let most vehicles pass by amiably. We then stopped at a signal where he stepped out, walked to a nearby tree, and then lit a cigarette. He had the decency to not smoke all over my face. Next, he gave some change to a beggar at the next signal. When we had almost reached my home, he asked me if I would mind if he stopped for a coffee because some bakery nearby apparently served the best coffee. I asked him to go ahead. He insisted that I have some. I politely refused and asked him to go for it. He still insisted some more and got me a cup. That too, free!!! I then told him that the coffee was awesome, which it truly was. I then reached home 5 mins later. The meter showed Rs. 187. A little less than it normally does. I handed him a 200. He actually tried to return exactly Rs. 13, which I of course refused. I generally do pay a Rs. 10 extra. I wanted to pay some more for the coffee, but I thought that would be an insult to his generous spirit.

Seriously, I think I’ll be cherishing this memory for ever, because believe me, this NEVER happens. I have met morons whom I have already agreed to pay Rs. 20 extra, and have yet thought it perfectly fine to not return the additional 7-8 rupees in change. One gentleman kept staring at me when the meter showed 32, I handed 60, and he thought I didn’t want the additional 8. I actually told him I was waiting for the change. The nerve!

Plus the man looked a bit like Anurag Kashyap with a plump face and slightly greying beard and hair. That look itself makes me feel safe like I am in the company of some warm-hearted mama (mother’s brother). I’m sure it’s just all in my head, but still, this time, it proved my belief right.😀

Five Questions

Update: Please also add 5 movies you can watch over and over again. I’d really like to hear about that.

I started my day by reading this post written by the Bride and immediately commented all excited about the P Tracker app that I use religiously. She then tagged me in case I wanted to pick the 5 questions up. I really liked the questions and totally want to answer them.

One beauty product you would recommend to your girlfriends

I have become a fan of Soultree products recently because they are totally natural and organic whenever possible. So I have to say Soultree lipstick and kajal.

I sometimes use Maybelline Superstay 24 which delivers what it promises. The color does stay (even with all the eating and drinking) till you scrub it off with oil. It’s slightly matte and makes it seem like it’s your actual lip color. In fact, when I was travelling in Spain, an Argentinian woman asked me if that was my original lip color. Yeah, brick red! :D In retrospect, I should’ve told her that it was indeed my actual color.😀

Okay, I have already listed three, but I must add Maybelline gel liner. It’s perfect, I can draw a fine and dark line with it, and I love the pot it comes in.

I don’t know if perfumes come under beauty products. On most days I go without any product on my face, but hardly ever without a perfume. I absolutely love fragrances, and my favorite is Escada Sexy Graffiti. It’s fruity and clean, exactly what I like.

Three books everyone must read

Like Bride mentioned in her post, I don’t think I feel very strongly about what people should read, because you know we all like different kinda things. So I’m going to tweak the question to three books I absolutely love.

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude: Without a doubt the best book I have ever read.
  • The Good Earth Trilogy: I love Pearl Buck’s writing. I love the descriptions of the farmer’s life in China, the strong female characters, and an underlying sense of melancholy you feel while reading it.
  • Of Human Bondage: I love Somerset Maugham’s writing and had particularly liked this one. Again, I think I feel connected to a certain sense of melancholy and tend to like books that create that experience.

These are the top three for me, but I cannot not mention some others that have moved be deeply and have had a lasting impact.

  • The Adventures of Dennis (Viktor Dragunsky): I firmly believe that all children MUST read this book.
  • Little Women (the Marathi translation): I liked the translation more than the original. It had an exceedingly sweet quality.
  • Dustar ha ghaat (a marathi book by Gauri Deshpande)
  • Moon and the Sixpence (Somerset Maugham)
  • Catcher in the Rye, Kosla, and Norwegian Wood, all of which evoked varying degrees of similar emotions.

Favourite online shopping site

I used to work for one of the biggest (may be the biggest actually) online retailer, and was known to be so much into online shopping since before it became so common in India, that I was asked to write a whitepaper on the online shopping scene in India and my favorites. Most of the sites I listed don’t exist anymore.

I do most of my shopping online, groceries included. But the most reliable site that I frequent has to be Amazon. Anytime I want anything, I first visit Amazon and then move towards Myntra, pepperfry, bigbasket etc. depending on the kind of stuff I am looking for.

There used to be this amazing site called Urbantouch. They sent all their products in super-elegant black cardboard boxes. I still use those for my jewelry and cosmetics. I think it was bought out by Myntra.

Favourite phone app

Definitely P Tracker followed by instagram (for snooping around. I’m not too active myself), and wordathon (word game, when I am alone and bored).

One dish you are really good at making and its recipe

Since cooking is my first love and passion, there are simply way too many (i don’t know if I am good at making these, but I certainly like making them)

In no particular order:

Guacamole, Pho, Thai Chicken noodle soup, Hyderabadi dum biryani, Many kinds of whole wheat breads, angoor malai, tzatziki, all veggie thoran, chocolate mousse cake, Kolhapuri tamda rassa.

A quick Guacamole recipe follows:

  • One avocado scooped out
  • Juice of half a big lime
  • 1 clove garlic (grated)
  • 1/4 small onion finely chopped
  • 1/4 tomato finely chopped
  • 1 chili finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • coriander (optional)

Just mash the avocado with a work, add all the ingredients, and mix well.

I would further like to tag GMSA, and aditi to answer these same questions since they are really fun.





Not Giving a f%$#

You’d think that not giving a f%&# about unimportant people and events would be an easy thing, especially with the phrase itself sounding so breezy and effortless. But believe me, it’s harder than it would seem.

I would give anything to be able to have that attitude. The effortless and cool existence. Unaffected, untouched by the mediocrity and ignorance around you. But no. It’s dam hard. Harder than most of the things I try to achieve in my life. I seriously envy people who are so comfortable in their own skin that what others would say doesn’t deter them at all. In fact, I often even admire fools who have the confidence of putting their foolishness out there without the fear of being judged. In a way, it’s rather charming to see someone so ignorant that they don’t even realize their ignorance. And I am not saying this sarcastically. Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if people who actually know what they are saying had this sort of confidence?

I feel extremely limited by by disability to not give a f%&#. So yes, I give way too many of them. I am bothered by a stupid statement made by a neighbor, by the ignorance of a colleague, and some such. I take logic so much for granted that anything less has my temper flying around uncontrollably (only in my head though), which makes my head so freaking heavy. Regular readers may have observed how my posts increasingly touch upon my frustrations with the mundane life, that it’s not even funny anymore. I may even go see a shrink sometime to help me deal with this. But I am a bit skeptical because I know how those sessions go. Eventually, it comes down to making changes within yourself, the inability of which itself is my problem.

I read a really cool article this morning about learning to not give a f%$#. Can you believe I actually googled, “learning not to give a f%$#”? Husband couldn’t stop laughing when he heard this. He thought that’s where my problem was. If only I found other things to be interested in like Sports in his case. Sighhh!!