Things my friends have taught me.

Min: Happiness

"You can be happy, Trisha. You can be very happy." 

"Great. How?"

"Change your personality. Hypnotism's popular these days."

Man Whore Friend: Acceptance

"You're stupid." 

"Excuse me?"

"Don't worry, men like stupid girls. You'll have no trouble getting laid."

Mawii: Karma

"Shit. We should stop bitching about her. Karma, y'know." 


"On the other hand, our bitching about her could be her karma. Yes, I think it most definitely is."

[The bitching continues, but our hearts are lighter].

Akshay: Beauty.

"Let's go. Don't bother with the makeup. It's not going to make you prettier." 

Friend: Work Ethic

"Don't be a fucker. Write your assignment. Do something with your life." 

"You're right. Have you finished yours?"


"When is it due?"

"Two days ago." 

Jayatri: Nature

"Is that a toad or a frog, Jayatri?"

"Why are you asking me, you freak? Do I look like I know about toads and frogs?"

"You studied Biology."

"Oh yeah... it's a frog."

"Are you making that up?" 



"You know, Shourjo was right. There are too many toads and frogs in this world. They should start dissecting them again." 

Jahnavi: Alcohol

"Drinking is vile." 

Two days later. 

"I'm dfunk." 

Sharma: Standards

"But she's so ugly. She's not even nice. And you don't even like her."

"Listen, standards aren't important." 

"You always say how they're important." 

"This was a special case."


"I was drunk and desperate. Standards don't matter when you're drunk and desperate." 

Ketki: Feminism 

"I know I'm supposed to be a feminist, Trisha, but all I want is to be married by the time I'm twenty three and live in a little cottage with a garden and a really hot gardener." 

A.O: Achievement.

"I just retched into a snowdrift. Score!" 

Varun: How Not To Discriminate

"I like boobies. Small boobies, big boobies, it don't matter. Boobies are nice!" 

Tanu: Faith.

"I want us to win this world cup so bad, Tanu. I'm actually praying for Tendulkar to stay on."

"Who do you think God is, man?"

My Mother (who isn't strictly a friend, but whatever): Obedience.

"If you don't do what I say, I'll freeze your bank account." 


The Boil and the Band-aid

Friend, who also lives in Calcutta, called the other day because Friend wanted to drink (and meet me, he claimed, although I think it was mostly about the drinking.)

I was feeling ever so slightly Smurfish so I hemmed and hawed and suggested meeting another day.

Friend made the mistake of informing me that he had a horrific boil on his nose and suddenly, the idea of meeting him for a drink didn’t seem too bad. It would give me something to laugh about, and I needed a laugh that day.

We decided to go to Oly. He reached before I did and called to say he was waiting for me outside.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I saw the boil before I saw him.

It was a big boil. A little smaller than a coin. It was on his nose, covering most of his nose. Another little boil was growing higher up on the other side of his nose but it was hidden by this particular boil. Which was, in case I haven’t been emphatic enough, huge. The surrounding area of Friend’s face had turned red, but the boil itself was yellow and looked as if it was about to burst.

Friend tried to pretend he had a sense of humour by telling me that it would burst all over me but I knew that he was just trying to comfort himself, just trying to convince me that he was above caring about boils because people who contemplate the meaning of life as often as Friend does (or claims to do) do not care about boils.
But oh, how he cared. I know he cared.

Friend was also drunk because he’d met another friend before meeting me. He described the bar he went to as we waited for our drinks – red light, he said, so dark you can’t see the face of the person sitting across the table from you. An uncharitable thought came into my mind here, but I did not voice it. I merely thought it was quite convenient that Friend had chosen a dark, shady bar to sit and drink in. Unfortunately, Oly, while shady, is not dark. The bright tube-lights cast a harsh glare on Friend’s boil.

“Why are you being so naka?” said Friend. “Why aren’t you talking?”

I wasn’t talking because I was too busy delighting over his boil. I knew it was karma. Friend is always making fun of my remarkably pig-like nose, and boasting about how “at least ten people” have told him his own nose is attractive. Which is a lie. Friend’s nose, while not as hideous as my own, is nowhere close to being attractive. It is hooked, so hooked that if he dipped it in a pond he would probably catch a fish with it. But anyway. This was karma because while I refrain from making fun of Friend’s nose on a daily basis, he does not extend the same courtesy to me. And now the boil (with another one on the way) had taken over his nose. Serves Friend right.

We talked about other things apart from noses and boils (we briefly touched upon carbuncles), because Friend is a delightful person to talk to. However, Friend did not want to go home drunk and he was already drunk, and I didn’t want to be drunk, so after the first drink, we decided not to have anymore.

But where to go?

“We could go back to my house,” I suggested.

Friend seemed hesitant.

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t want your mother to see my boil,” said Friend softly.

“That’s alright. She’s out.” This was true. My mother was indeed out. She was at the club exercising. My mother exercises for two reasons: one is so she doesn’t die of heart disease, and the other is so she can drink her two (so she claims, but it’s actually at least four) glasses of whiskey every night and fasten her jeans the next morning as well.


“She won’t be back till ten,” I reassured him. This, unfortunately, was a lie.

Friend knew it. Friend doesn’t always know what I lie about, but he does know that I lie a lot, so he treats practically everything I say as a lie unless I have proof to back up what I’m saying, or unless I’m saying something flattering about him. Which isn’t often, but he’s awfully quick to believe me when I do.

“Trisha. You’re lying, you’re lying.”

“Of course not,” but I couldn’t stop the corners of my mouth from turning up at the thought of Friend parading around in front of my mother with his boil.

“Listen,” I said finally, after ten minutes of to-and-fro conversation, “we’ll pick up some band-aids on the way. You can put the band-aid over your nose and if you do see her – I keep telling you she’s not at home – and she asks what happened, you can tell her you got hit by a football.”

Friend’s boil infested face brightened visibly. Even the boil seemed to glow more.

After walking up and down Park Street looking for a taxi to take us to Ballygunge, we found one. On the way, we stopped at a pharmacy.

“You go,” said Friend. “You’re closer to the pavement.”

“Don’t want to buy the band-aids yourself because you’re afraid they’ll instantly know why you want them?” I asked, and the look on Friend’s face told me I was right.

So I went and bought the band-aids.

Then as the taxi continued on its way, I carefully taped one over Friend’s boil. Loose enough to cover it, but not so tight that it would pin the boil down and cause it to ooze.

Yuck. The things I do for Friend.

Friend looked at himself admiringly in the mirror. “I could easily say it’s a football injury,”

“Sure,” I said.

We got back to my place. Mother wasn’t home. Then Mother called to say she was on her way back with my uncle.

We were going upstairs just as they entered. My mother smiled at Friend, didn’t notice the band-aid. Friend didn’t recognise my uncle because he’s been taken over by a ginger handlebar moustache.

“Who was that?” He asked me when we were sitting outside.

“My uncle,” I said.

“THAT was your uncle?”

“Moustache,” I said.

We sat there for a bit. Friend ever so slightly uncomfortable. I didn’t blame him. Not only did he have a band-aid on top of a boil, but the last time he was over, Pud Kaka joined us for a beer and at one point made me turn the light on so he could “see this fellow’s face”. Luckily for Friend, Pud Kaka didn’t raise any objections to the face. Although, I thought, watching Friend sulk under the moonlight with band-aid stretched across his nose and a suspicious bump underneath the band-aid, Friend might not get so lucky this time round. 

“You’re going to laugh about this with your mother after I leave, aren’t you?” said Friend suspiciously.

“Of course not,” I said unconvincingly.

“You’re a fucker. You’re also going to write a blog post about this and make fun of me, aren’t you?”

This, I couldn’t deny.

“I’ll write something. I’ll write a guest post.”

“Alright,” I said.

Friend left soon after, refusing to say goodbye to my mother and my uncle, because he was ashamed of his face.

Later on, over dinner, I told my mother about Friend’s boil. I told it with gusto. We sniggered with gusto as well.

(Sorry, Friend, but you knew I would).

Friend, who is demanding his own say in this, has written his version of events which I am posting below. He has referred to me throughout as porkypig but this is only to make himself look better. Friend has used elaborate language (don’t let it fool you because Friend is a fucker) to hide the simple moral behind this story: When you have an ugly boil on your nose, listen to your grandmother (Friend did not) and stay at home.

The Boil and the Band-aid: Friend’s Side of the Story.
red swells. a sea trapped within a volcano, swarming with ghost warriors. dead cries traverse the molten space, rebounding off the closed top, anticipating the beginning of a furious, heroic, horrific outpouring. 

the eye roams and settles on the boil. the nose might not universally gratify nasal-aesthetes, but the boil exudes monstrous charm, proudly displaying its viscous viciousness, its crimson charisma. the nose belongs to a callous hound, seemingly impervious to the grotesque import of noseboils, but receptive to porkypigs (and their mothers). a strange situation arises: callous hound imperfectly imagines how facial aberrations might offend mothers of porkypigs, and for the first time, ponders about the postmodern totem. callous hound is also prosaic and silly, and thus commits a significant crime: he calls the boil a boil. 

new cries, new pain. anguish expelled in a furious frenzy: a tiny opening. redhole. spurt. 

the decision to confront mother must entail shrouding, if not suppression, of the thing-that-repulses. meanings crumble as callous hound imagines his salvation. beauty turns into a silly monolith inside his head, unsophisticated and unvarying. callous hound remains steadfast in his desire to conceal terrible beauty. porkypig easily slips into the role of shallow-accomplice and maliciously plants an idea in his head. time speeds up. passing-lights, horn-blares, pharmacy-pause, band-aid. 

anguish reaches a crescendo, and then silence. beauty breathes still, indignantly perhaps, into the uninspiring heart of adhesive bandage. 

(note#1: porkypig is a strange creature. her intentions are never clear. she assumes contradictory guises to hoodwink insecure souls, gently feeding poison balm to indecisive callous hounds. something needs to be done about her, but who-knows-what. 

note #2: the volcano shall erupt, irrespective of how socially insecure callous hounds handle themselves (and their noseboils)

note #3: mother's eye roamed across the bandage and responded with ordinary, fleeting warmth. callous hound struck salvation.)


The green green grass of Home.

I’ve been home for a day and a half and I’m already going crazy. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to complain unfairly. There is air-conditioning and wonderful food (and real coffee) and the most comfortable bed in the world with clean sheets that smell of sleep, and I am incredibly glad to be back in this decrepit old city – always less decrepit, somehow, when viewed from my terrace at sunset, with the streaked sky and the occasional crooked tree trying (and failing) to look impressive and the shadows of eagles flying in circles around the green dome of a mosque.

But I’m telling you, I’m going insane.

It’s no one’s fault really. The really important ones, like Minnie and Jahnavi and Akshay and Ishani, aren’t here, and the rest are so used to their ways, it’s difficult to call someone up at noon demanding to be entertained. They’re all asleep. Unfortunately, they’re all asleep two hours later as well. Strange that I’m finding this problematic, but I’ve been filled with some insane sort of energy the past couple of days, and I can’t sleep for more than seven hours. The rest of the time I want to do something, but not on my own, not right now, I’m tired of being a hermit, and there’s no one to do it with.

I did go to a dinner party last night, expecting to spend most of the night standing in a corner glaring at people like I usually do, but I had a good time. I talked to people. A lot of people I thought were stupid, weren’t stupid at all. But there were a couple who remained confirmed in their stupidity (can it be true? Am I quoting Dryden? I think so) so I wasn’t completely disillusioned. 

It’s also a little difficult getting used to my mother again. Yeah yeah, she can be wonderful and unfortunately I think I might love her more than I love, or have ever loved, anyone but she’s also not quite right in the head. Sometimes.

Take this morning for instance:

Mother: Wake up.

Me: Uhhhh.

Mother: Are you hungover? 

Me: Uhhhh. 

Mother: Have you been smoking again?

Me: Uhhhh.

Mother: What do you want for breakfast?

Me: Uhhhh.

Mother: Do you want breakfast?

An eye opens. Then the other eye. Images of Real Coffee and muesli with bananas and a piece of toast slathered with crunchy peanut butter (Skippy’s only please) chase sleep away.

Mother: She hasn’t made your bed right!

Me: Huh?

Mother: See? The sheet you’ve got covering yourself should actually be the other way around.

Me: Are you serious?

Mother: Yes. It should be the other way. I’ll tell Brihoshpoti about it.

[She did tell Brihoshpoti about it].

Me: Mama…

Mother: *Wandering around my room peering at things*Yes?

Me: It’s a sheet.

Mother: Trisha, I don’t want you smoking in your room. Your room reeks of smoke.

Me: *forgetting temporarily about the sheet like she intended* You’re always telling me not to be deceitful. Isn’t it better than locking myself up in the bathroom and smoking furtively out the window?

Mother: It’s healthier.

Me: Huh?

Mother: It’s healthier because if you smoke in the bathroom you’re not sleeping in your own smoke.

Me: Alright.

Mother: And you need to quit anyway. It’s a filthy habit. I can’t believe you started smoking. When you were little you were so anti-smoking. You’d lecture your father on how bad cigarettes were.

(I didn’t tell her that the last time I saw my dad, I was countering cigarettes with him. In our defence, we both decided it was the best way to curb smoking). 

Me: *Realising that at moments like this there’s only one thing to say* Uhhhhh.

Later, (while writing this) I asked her why the sheet bothered her so much.

Mother: It bothers me because when it’s upside down, it looks faded and it hurts the eye. Your room hurts the eye. And don’t you dare make fun of me on your blog because I know your father reads it and the last thing I want is him calling me up and cackling with delight at my expense.

I smiled very sweetly at her.


Hindi Exam: Round Two.

Unsurprisingly, I failed my Hindi exam last year. Failed spectacularly in fact, with an admirable eight out of fifty. Despite Masterji (who fell sick after a few weeks, don't worry - he's still alive), I had a sinking feeling I was going to fail this year as well.

Was confident at first. I mean, I went to Masterji. I had Notes. I'd also touched his feet (receiving blessings for both my exam as well as to catch a man). I also had a dream in which I passed Hindi. (Friend was in the dream. Friend, who needs a pass if he wants to graduate with his honours degree, failed.)

The day before the Hindi exam, I started feeling a bit helpless. My notes were of no help because I couldn't understand what they were on about. The difference between boli and bhasha, the different kinds of bhasha, etc etc. It was terrible. I vaguely knew what they were about, but I knew I wouldn't be able to reproduce it accurately on paper. Nonetheless, I soldiered on.

Grammar. Opposites. Vilom. Huge improvement: last year I didn't know what vilom meant. Not to mention synonyms. Friend and I quizzed each other on the phone. I can say this now the exam's over but I really didn't think Friend would pass. Friend was worse than I was. He'd spent the past year smirking over how he was going to pass Hindi, but I think hearing about my dream shattered him.

Anyway. This isn't about the preparation (or lack thereof). This is about the exam.

Went into the exam hall with that old familiar feeling: the one where you know you're going to fail, there's nothing you can do, it's out of your hands, it's always been out of your hands, and you just want the next two hours to go by quickly.

The first question. No clue what it meant. But I identified a word: bhogoal and realised it was Geography (oh Manjudi, it turns out you have your uses even now). So then I wrote about the geographical distribution of Hindi. This is what I wrote: Bharat mein 65% loag hindi meh baath kartha hai. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Dilli, etc. There were a few more states but I didn't know how to spell them.

The second question. The difference between boli and bhasha. Masterji's notes, I thought. Yes! The trouble was even though I vaguely knew what the notes said, I didn't know how to put it down in correct Hindi. So I drew a neat little column, wrote boli on one side, bhasha on the other, and put in a few key words that I remembered. Like, one of them is what you learn at school. The other is the stuff you speak at home. One has vyakaran. The other does not.

Grammar was awesome. I think I might get six marks there. I knew all the synonyms and I knew one viloam and I could identify the nouns and verbs and pronouns. Then we came to the proverbs. The proverbs were a problem. I decided to avoid problems and turned to the next question which are kind of like proverbs and you have to make a sentence using them.

Masterji has warned me about these.

"You will never be able to answer. Your Hindi is too poor," He'd said, shaking his head sadly. "But I will teach you a method." And he did.

'"[Proverb like phrase] ka arth kya hai, Masterji?" Larka Guru ko bola.' Haha. I'm a genius. Except I have a sneaking suspicion that the examiner will be unable to overlook the grammatical errors in that sentence to give me a mark for it, but still. Every little thing counts.

Then was a short essay on mobile phones. I wrote about how they came in many different colours and how there were many different kinds and how "accha nahi hai" for little children today to go about using them. Bloody show offs.

Then there was a letter. Drastic improvement from last year because I actually knew the format this time, thanks to Masterji. Unfortunately, I couldn't make out what the hell I was supposed to say in the letter. But instead of putting little dashes in its body like last year, I merely transfered the question to the body. At best, the examiner will see a few key words and not realise anything. At worst, well...at least I had words there. Words with correct spelling even (since they'd been filched from the question paper).

With great relief, I turned to the last question. An essay.

Mera Priya S-s-s-something.

It started with S and the word looked vaguely familiar. Could it be Subject? Were they asking me to write about my favourite subject? I wasn't sure, but figured I might as well. Kept the essay loose just in case there was a chance that it meant something else.

So I wrote about English and books and authors, and I mentioned I didn't have a favourite author, but went on to write about several (those whose names I could spell). Added a nice little tidbit about VS Naipaul being a misogynist (Naipool bola lekhika accha karke likh nahi sakta hai. Yeh bahooth kharaap baath hai) in case the examiner liked current affairs. Also talked about how I read in English and Bengali (the latter: a lie. I added it in case they thought I was too Anglicised) but not in Hindi. Fervently hoped the examiner would take pity on a poor Bengali, used to language that flows like honey, being forced by Delhi University to sit for a useless exam that is based on a language which is only any good for swearing in.

At the end, I was going to write: Please take pity on me' at the bottom of the page, but there wasn't time. I'd been writing slowly hoping to impress the examiner with my neat handwriting.

That's alright though. I'll write it when I'm back there in the same room next year. I could be optimistic and say that I'll pass this year, but though lying to myself is something I've taken pains to master over the years, even I can't stretch the truth that far.

On the bright side (I believe in bright sides), I'm pleased to note that I didn't take any naukars to sea this time round.


I'm going to fail my Hindi exam. Again.