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Random Happenings From Home

I am just back from a week-long visit to my hometown, to the husband’s town, to grandparent’s town and back. It’s a mixed bag of emotions to be in the home region, which includes a couple of different places in southern Maharashtra. The excitement and anticipation turns into actual fun and enjoyment and gluttony, then transitions into gathering stuff to bring back, and then ends with a sad, depressed state of mind that wont quit until a few days after being back to the daily grind.

But every visit is worth noting down for different observations and events, which range from mundane to peculiar to hilarious.

Granny’s place

We started our holiday with a visit to the grandparents. This was our first visit as a couple after 4 years of being married. It feels nice to tick this off the list. As usual, the granny dear went overboard with the food preparations, which explains why the food coma lasted a day and a half. Could have lasted even longer, but had to force ourselves out of it to go into another one with mom’s food. The grandma is quite the story teller, and had she been a keen writer, would have fit into the creme de la creme of the writers that represent magic-realism. It’s a pity that my snooty, urban self saw this too late while pretending to be uber cool and talking authoritatively about Garcia Marquez and simultaneously dissing home-grown stories for being too illogical. My loss, really. Anyway, this time, I forced my sense of logic to get lost and coaxed granny to tell us her stories. She regaled us with insanely interesting stories of sexcapades and intrigues from her childhood. Bless her. Ladies and gentlemen, please meet my grandma who asked me what birth control we used…

Home

Home was essentially relegating self to a 25 ft radius, showering once in three days, and repeating the cycle of eating and sleeping. Mom was already sent a combined list of what the little sis and I wanted to eat the most. But the number of days we had were far fewer than the number of dishes we wanted to eat. So we simply had to eat back-to-back lunches on a couple of days. That should explain the stomach cramps and nausea I have had since returning.

Husband and the sister’s husband were around on our last day home. The evening was spent playing poker, drinking whisky, forcing the mother into drinking some old wine because she simply wouldn’t drink anything else. It was quite an adventure to smoke with the mother present in the house. But I must admit, this has become some sort of a ritual. Like an old lady, I was fast asleep at 12, but the husband and brother-in-law apparently chatted till 2.

Neutral Ground

There’s a hill station close to both the husband’s and my hometown. That’s an invariable part of our itinerary every time we go home. We spent two days here: The parents, we sisters with our husbands and my husband’s family. The rains had turned the little town/village into a green paradise. We could see clouds floating about and wind making music while passing through the wise banyan trees. All this while downing endless cups of chai.

I also made an exception to my otherwise vegetarian lifestyle and had some steaming hot mutton rassa here. We also initiated the parents into dumb charades. The moms got the game immediately, but the dads sort of ruined it for all. We also celebrated dad’s birthday here with the carrot cake that the sis and her husband baked back home with a lot of difficulty: Forgetting to preheat the oven, the electricity going off after baking for 10 minutes, shifting the cake to a cooker to prevent it from going flat, re-shifting it to the cold oven after the electricity was back, forgetting the timer and letting the cake stay in the oven for a minute longer than desirable. The end result was incredible against all odds though, so no one’s complaining.

Also, this little place has an insanely beautiful, but slightly eerie characteristic to it. Like a sense of foreboding, especially in the evenings. It’s not very densely populated, and gets rather quiet at night and there are barely any streetlights. The place where we stay is a massive bungalow with huge and disconnected rooms. We generally take a walk at night for a cigarette, because, well mothers. And everything ALWAYS looks slightly creepy, dramatically so, almost. Straight out of a Ramsay movie. Exaggerated wind sound, darkness everywhere with a cat meowing somewhere in the distance, the odd, sole street light flickering, fog everywhere, such that the person (from your own group) walking just a little in front of you might seem like an apparition. You get the drift…Add to that the history of several such trips with aunts with a crazy love for horror movies and who totally target the nieces. On one such occasion, one of the three favorite aunts was walking ahead and asked in a deep, creepy voice, “What if I turn around, and my feet haven’t turned with me?” All my logic and rationality go for a toss when the ambiance is such. And this is exactly what I remember on a similar night like that, about 7-8 years later. So with this background, we start walking into the dark, slightly away from the bungalow. We aren’t very far. No one from there can see us, but we can still see the bungalow. And then we pass by a car randomly parked in the middle of nowhere. Trust me, on a dark, rainy night, nobody with non-evil intentions would park their car there. Anyway, I HAD to look inside, and I see a cat inside the lone car. It’s sitting right behind the back glass where people usually keep pillows and random soft toys and stuff. I tell it to the sis, the husband and the bro-in-law. They dismiss me for being too paranoid and humor me by saying we wont go very far. So we go just a few steps ahead. I barely enjoy the cigarette because my heart is pounding. And then we start walking back. We pass the car again, and this time we all see the cat move its neck. Now, I almost run. The others act chilled out, because frankly, neither of us believes in spirits and ghastly cats and stuff. But still. And that’s that.

Husband’s home turf

On the last day before the vacation ends, we head back to the husband’s town, which is hardly 25 kms from the neutral destination above. Surprisingly, parents agree to stay back until early evening. So we all have lunch together, sleep, wake up, I bawl my eyes out to see the parents leave, they console me, I am consoled and we say our good byes.

Then father-in-law opens a bottle of whisky he had specially waited to open for us. Unfortunately, my stomach had already started acting up so I missed out on that part. I otherwise really enjoy drinking with him because he is a very seasoned journalist from the region and usually has tons of interesting stories to tell. He told us of the time he interviewed Indira Gandhi when he was all of 25. Man! I still tied my shoe laces the wrong way when I was that age. Anyway, the fun stories start coming out one after the other and the husband convinces him to make those into this next book project.

Then we watch news for a while. Local news back home is also way more interesting and unique. I especially enjoy the news of the deer that does the “Pandharichi VariPandharichi Vari” every year.  I instantly become a fan of the deer as well as the story, knowing fully well that it certainly didn’t go out of devotion. I tried to rationalize it by saying that perhaps it met a lovely person who fed it the first time, so it followed the person. And perhaps goes every year to look for that person. But who knows, may be I am foolishly rationalizing, where it actually IS a devotee 😉

And thus ends my week at home and around and here I am back to the daily grind. But I am not complaining because I have stories to tell.

 

The Period Drama

I just got out of a major period scare, and the relief is so great that it inspired me to write a blog post after a gap of more than a year.

So here’s what happened. The last week of May is fairly eventful for us. Starting with my birthday an then our marriage anniversary a week later. Since my birthday fell on week day this year, I didn’t have much planned, but I did plan a beautiful weekend getaway for us the following week.

 

Unfortunately, my period was delayed by three days on the day of my birthday. Now, this is no biggie for a normal person. But for a hopelessly paranoid person, coupled with a hypochondria that won’t quit, it translates to frequent trips to the loo and detailed investigation and reading for probable signs of an oncoming period. Also, it doesn’t help that you’re period is super regular, so 3 days delay is already something out of ordinary. Couple that with backtracking your sexual activity and realizing that it happened during your most fertile period. Add to that endless google research on contraception failure. It didn’t help that people said that this was the sign of turning 30, neither did the personal stories of how women saw a positive result on the pregnancy test after 3-4 negative ones. With this background, I decided to put my birthday celebration off until the weekend getaway.

Unfortunately, the day we left for Wayanad, it still hadn’t showed up, and it was delayed by 7 days by then. Even 4 pregnancy tests with negative readings weren’t enough to calm my nerves though. So in my classic style, I decided to read up about options for termination in case of the odd chance that I might be pregnant. For those uninitiated on this blog, the husband and I have made the decision to remain childfree. Anyway, somehow, I had this strong suspicion that it would be super difficult to find a gynecologist who basically did their job without judging you or giving you any unsolicited, “moral” advice. So I found the Ladies Finger’s crowd sourced list of good doctors, but I still didn’t get all the information I needed. I was also indulging in a lot of self-torture my reading up what all might be wrong with you if your period is delayed. Turns out, it can be connected to the most basic, silly even, reasons as well as to the really scary one like adrenal cancer. Being a hypochondriac, my mind started going into a downward spiral of all that could be wrong with me. May I add that all the breathtaking beauty of Wayanad was lost on me because of what I kept imagining? I even took a pregnancy test with me and took it in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep. That was the fifth negative test by the way, taken on the 8th day of my missed period. I kept getting a lot of pre-period symptoms like heavy and painful breasts, bloated tummy, and all such pleasing sensations. But I was unfortunate to come across an article which listed these same symptoms as applicable for a positive pregnancy as well. You get the drift.

Next, I have borderline hypothyroidism, but my doctor put me off meds since August as I didn’t have any symptoms. I parallel also started wondering if some spike in thyroid was causing this. Which added to my depression, because apart from being a hypochondriac, I am also extremely skeptical of taking any medicine, especially anything that requires a lifetime of dependence on it. On some level I also secretly started hoping that I would be pregnant to rule out thyroid. At one point, the husband was super confused about what my main concern was, so I broke it down for him as follows, which essentially was a bunch of “what if’s”: 1. What if I am pregnant and I need to terminate it? | 2. Termination would require taking hormonal pills, which I am extremely skeptical of taking, what would the side effects be? 3. If at all I was pregnant, would I find a doc who would prescribe the pill without being judgmental and giving free advice that I wouldn’t pay for? | 4. Would I have to take some time off work when I don’t have many leaves remaining? | 5. If not pregnant, what else could it be? What sort of imbalance could have caused it? | 6. Do I need to get my thyroid reevaluated? | 7. Would this be a recurring thing or a one off instance? | 7. Was I sky rocketing into hormonal imbalance as soon as I turned 30? | 8. What if I never get my period again?  (yes, stupid, but every time I have even the slightest of problem, I tend to imagine that it would be permanent…There was a time when I didn’t feel very sexual and I believed to a depressing degree that I had lost my libido permanently) | 9. What if the pregnancy test is repeatedly false negative? | 10. What if no doctor is willing to prescribe MTP?

 

I could go on endlessly, but you get the drift. I did briefly feel sorry for the husband to have to deal with the nut job that he was tied to for the rest of our lives (hopefully). But then, what I lack in rationale and sense, I more than make up for it with my self-deprecating humor and spot-on mimicry. Ask the husband. I sang an uncanny version of Dhinchak Pooja’s ,”Selfie maine leli aaj” for him. So we’re good. We returned from the anniversary weekend on Monday and I went out AGAIN to get another pregnancy test from a different brand. I decided to not take it right away and wait till the 10th day to check. By some miracle, I actually forgot to take the test. But I still didn’t have my period. Finally, I fixed an appointment with the doctor on Thursday, which would be the 12th day of the missed period. I even considered taking the day off to wallow in grief case the doctor asked me to take a blood test to rule our pregnancy all together. I am extremely scared of blood work. The plan had another test factored in just a day before the doctor’s visit was due. But somehow, as soon as I woke up, I had to pee really badly and couldn’t really wait to get the test with me inside the loo. So I just let it go and decided to take it on the morning of the doctor’s appointment, which was today. Thankfully, I got my period yesterday. A good 11 days after the due late. I have never been so excited to bleed, and can’t thank my body enough for sparing me another day of the vicious cycle of thinking, over-analyzing and irritating the shit out of all the loved ones that care to listen.

That’s that about the period drama. So, how have you been?

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?

 

Story

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.

 

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! 😀 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.