Oh Brother.

When I was eighteen, during the summer after I finished school, I spent about ten days in Bali - I had an aunt and uncle living there then, and my cousin was visiting at the same time.

This is him by the way:

My mother thought he was gay for a long time, but he isn't. I wish he was. His nauseating interactions with his girlfriend are all over my facebook page (this is the mildest form):

Anyway, now that I've made fun of that, back to Bali.

We were at the beach one morning, and my cousin - let's call him Hippopiggiepippo (HPP) and he will know why - was, for once, in the sea with me. He'd been avoiding it strenuously, because he was worried about getting a tan which, incidentally, during that time, was probably my only sole purpose in life.

I was a little further out, floating on my back, enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face, when suddenly he started yelling. Really yelling, really loudly.

"What's wrong?" I asked, swimming towards him.

He didn't answer, he just kept yelling, and the tone of his voice got higher and higher, until it changed to a steady piercing shriek.

"My foot! My foot! Something's happened to my foot!"

"Jeez," I said disgustedly, once we'd ascertained it wasn't bleeding. "You probably stepped on a shell or something."


"Man up,"

He threw me a look of contempt and hobbled off somewhere. Superbly unconcerned, I lay myself out on a deck chair, sipping on a mojito, watching the steaming sand and gleaming sea in front of me.

Suddenly an Indonesian woman came up to me.

"You are Trisha?"

"Yes," I said, rolling my eyes, knowing what this was about.

"Come, come with me." She seemed agitated.

As I followed her, very reluctantly, I thought to myself what a twerp HPP was. One little bruise on his foot, and he'd raised a hue and cry (and what a cry).

She led me, as I expected, to the beach hospital. It was a single room, roughly made of sweet smelling bamboo and wood, with palm fronds framing the entrance. My cousin was on a cot, groaning, and he was surrounded by a bunch of women. One of them, to my surprise, was hitting his foot with a stone.

"Er," I said, by way of greeting.

They looked up at me and started pointing frantically to him and then his foot and then to the sea. The trouble was they didn't know any English, and though HPP knows a bit of Indonesian, he couldn't understand what they were saying. Not that he was bothering to listen to them.

"EEEAAAAAHHHHHH!" He yelled, as the lady who was hitting his foot banged on it particularly viciously. I was tempted to ask them to let me give it a go: it would give her a rest, and it would give me great pleasure and satisfaction, but I restrained myself.

Eventually they stopped.

"Can you figure out what they're saying?" I asked him.

He whimpered.

One word seemed to be repeated more often than the others: ulaar.

"I think whatever it was is an ulaar," he said to me. "I don't know what that is."

"Maybe it's a jellyfish?"

After he deigned to remove himself from the cot, we thanked the ladies and went home.

"Why are you back so early?" said my aunt, when she saw us.

"Something's wrong with your son's foot," I said grumpily. "He made me come home."

"What is it?"

"They said at the beach that it's an ulaar, whatever that is."

The two of us decided to check an Indonesian - English dictionary.

"Ulaar, ulaar, ulaar," we muttered, flipping the pages.

Sea snake, it said.

"Oh shit," we said.

The End.

PS: HPP was alright in the end. My aunt whisked him away to the hospital and he spent the night having the poison drained out of his foot. Incidentally, we have reason to believe that he was bitten by a sea urchin and a snake at the same time.

Also, three months later, while in the sea, he got bitten by a snake (or was it a sea urchin?) again.

I know, right? Even I was rendered speechless.


Someone's unfurled a stubbled carpet across the room.
Precise hands, laying it just so. The angle has to be right,
you know. And carefully, mundane objects need to be placed
on it: three feet between the lighter and the lamp;
A dead pressed flower laid, ripped of thorns,
By the same invisible hands.

Place your scrubbed foot on this spot here,
That I might see its sole; but the right amount
of skin, dear, the right amount of skin.
The curtains, blue and white, twitch them carelessly aside,
That half a cup of sunlight might creep in.

Over a pint of bottled beer, accurately iced,
The naming of a car, and fingers: fast,
furious, fabulous, heated, glorious
Putting things in their place.
And for two thirds of a moment, laughter
on a face.


Specially written for Nain's study break.

So Nain, I was kind of wondering what to write about, on account of how I never have anything (meaningful) to write about - at least not here. But I'm bored, and I know you're bored, and soon we shall part ways, and I don't know when we're going to see each other again.

Keeping this in mind, as well as that old adage about the uncertainty of life, blah blah blah, here is a list of things I would like you to keep in mind for the rest of your life. I would tell you this in person, but we both know you never listen to my (admittedly unwanted) advice, and you rarely have the courtesy to even pretend, so if I happen to die in a plane crash sometime soon, or if we have some kind of terrible fight and never talk to each other again, I want you to know that I care enough about you (and am bored enough at the moment) to leave this: a semi permanent record of things you should know in order to survive this pit that people called life we mostly just roll around in.

I. How to survive a shark attack.

There are approximately 370 types of sharks in this world. Most of them aren't dangerous. Some of the sharks that are dangerous include: great white sharks, bull sharks, tiger sharks, and hammerheads, to name a few.

Interestingly enough, even though the great white is the most maligned of the lot (I believe this is for two reasons: Jaws and its sequels, and because they are common off the coast of California. Incidentally, I suppose both reasons could be condensed to one reason: Americans are hysterical). However, they're not really as aggressive as say, the bull shark (more on them later). The trouble with great whites is this: you know how animals have particular senses that are strong? For example, eagles have excellent eyesight, and snakes use a special apparatus called Jacobson's organ to smell? Well, the thing about great whites is that they explore things using their teeth. Or to put it slightly differently: if they don't know what something is, they will bite it. Unfortunately sometimes this something can be a human being. Great whites aren't naturally inclined to eat humans, so often, after having a little nibble, they will swim away. The trouble is that a little nibble is often enough to leave said human headless or limbless; basically either maimed for life, or dead.

Bull sharks on the other hand, are a lot more aggressive. They aren't bothered by brackish and freshwater, and even move inland through rivers. And they will pretty much bite you because they feel like it, and they won't stop after a bite either. Anyway, I'm digressing as usual: I want to teach you how to survive a shark attack, so if you're ever floating on your back off the Australian coast, and suddenly see a grey fin, you'll know what to do. (I am leaving out obvious things like, "sharks sometimes follow boats. If you are on a boat and a shark is following you, do not enter the water.")

1) It's probably not a wise idea to venture into known shark infested waters if you're bleeding - even if it's from a small cut. Great whites, for instance, can detect a single drop of blood in one hundred litres of water, and can sense small amounts of blood from five kilometres away.

2) If you see a shark while in the water, get out quickly and quietly, using the breaststroke. Shouting, splashing, or kicking wildly, might cause the shark to think you're a wounded animal and it'll move in for the kill and then goodbye Nain.

3) If you are attacked: a) try to punch or poke the shark in the eyes, or gills. These are its most sensitive areas. Keep on hitting it no matter what; it might decide to go look for easier prey. b) If there are rocks in the water, try to keep your back to one. This means the shark can only attack you from the front, leaving you free to follow step a. c) Avoid swimming after dusk. Though sharks will attack in the day, they're more active in the evening. d) Never wear a watch or jewellery in the water. They glitter like fish scales. You don't want the shark to think you're a fish. e) Don't swim where people are fishing. Dead fish and bait may attract sharks. And finally, f) If you are diving or surfing, don't lie on the surface of the water. From below, you may look like a turtle or a seal, or other shark prey. Here's a visual example:

II. How to avoid becoming a target for a serial killer.

Living in Gurgaon, you're probably aware of the usual safety standards. However, there are other measures you can take, such as reading newspapers, especially if you're anxious to avoid becoming the victim of a serial killer. Everyone knows the story of Jack the Ripper, and other murderers who capitalised on his crimes (think Woody Allen's Scoop), and alright, probably if you were a prostitute in 19th century London, there would be very little you could do to alter your position. But if you were a sensible prostitute, and aware of the murders, you'd also probably take certain precautions such as hanging out with fellow prostitutes instead of standing around alone. Come to think of it that might be a problem because of the competition, and you wouldn't be able to afford competition, so...

Okay, that's not a good example. But I hope you kind of get what I mean because I can't think of any examples right now except stupid ones like avoiding orange cars if you hear about a serial killer who probably has an orange car, which will never happen in real life.

Something about cars though: if someone in a car stops and asks you for directions, make sure you stand far away from the car itself. If you go too close, it might give them a chance to stab you, or drag you in, and rape and mutilate you. Of course, they could still shoot you with a gun, but the chances of this are highly unlikely, and anyway, if you do see a gun being pointed at you, just dive as soon as you hear the noise and keep your arms over your head, since it is unlikely they will attempt to fire a second shot, and will most probably drive away. (My father told me this one).

Also, it takes the brain three seconds to react to something like a gun shot, or anything traumatising/shocking, so you might want to keep that in mind, and even use it to your advantage if battling with a potential rapist.

III. How to avoid unnecessary fights with your boyfriend.

When you're really pissed off, and in that stage where you don't feel like communicating maturely, and you might say something you'll regret (especially if you're drunk and in Nasty Nain mode), then just switch your phone off and make a voodoo doll of him and burn it. Catharsis, man, catharsis. Here's a video to show you how:

(Note: I have not watched it just in case it's a cursed voodoo youtube video but don't let my cowardice stop you).

IV. How to deal with wasps in the bathroom.

I don't know if you suffer this problem at home, I doubt you do, but I have in the PG, and it might come in handy in the future. Now, the trouble with wasps in the bathroom is that you're essentially defenceless. It's difficult to run away if you're sitting on the pot about to do, er, what people usually do while sitting on the pot. Trick is to keep a can of Hit with you. So you can just sit there, at ease, on your throne, doing your thing, and if you see that nasty yellow bugger heading straight for you, just pick up the can, press the little white cap thing, and pffft.

V. How to handle Mawii when she's very, very drunk.

I'm not going to be in Delhi this year, and you two are, so I thought this might help. Now Drunk Mawii passes through several stages. You're familiar with the first two: she gets loud, and she starts dancing. You're better equipped than I am to handle the dancing, and the loudness, well, there's nothing anyone can do about that. But those are just the initial stages: there are more. She sometimes gets paranoid and so, you cannot leave her. If you do, she will become hysterical and think you're getting raped somewhere, and will probably have a heart attack (chances of this will increase as she gets older especially if she doesn't quit smoking). It is important that you stay by her, constantly reassuring her of your presence. She also becomes very obnoxious and makes socially inappropriate comments which is why it's also important to keep her away from sensitive people. If the situation is really bad, and you need to control her, do it with a joint: a joint is to a drunk Mawii what a Scooby snack is to Scooby Doo, and what the boatman is to the dead in Hades' Underworld. Finally, the best way to deal with Mawii when she is absolutely plastered, is to just get even more plastered than she is (or pretend to) because her natural sense of responsibility will kick in, and she will attempt to look after you, sobering down in the process.

VI. How to deal with feeling alone, unloved, and very close to going to the garden and sadly popping worms in your mouth.

You can't always depend on friends, unfortunately. There are going to be times when you call them up, feeling absolutely terrible, and they're going to be sympathetic, but busy, and they'll have to get back to you later. There are going to be times you aren't even going to feel like talking to anyone, not even people you love best. According to me, there are four ways to cope: 1) Get very, very drunk, and play dark wrist splitting music really loudly, and secretly revel in your misery. 2) Sleep it off. Either the world will look a lot brighter once you've had a good nap, but if it doesn't (sometimes it takes a while), you can just hide under the covers for a few days and no one will judge you. 3) Ignore the feeling and hope it will go away. 4) Identify your problem, the cause for your depression (there is always a cause even if you don't want to admit it) and tackle it logically, taking a step back from your emotions as it were. This is the one I recommend, because it's the only one that really works in the long run, although, between you and me, the first option is the most fun.

VII. How to lie convincingly

We are often told that lies are "bad". This is not necessarily true. Lies are told for a reason: they help you avoid unnecessary drama, they get you out of trouble, they often save other people from hurt, and they save a lot of time. There is one golden rule to telling a lie: always remember the lie you have told. People usually get caught because they lie about something, and then forget about it, and then it pops up in a conversation with the person they lied to, and then the inevitable "...so you lied to me?" follows. Liars must have good memories. This is non-negotiable.

Lying convincingly is an art form, and it must be perfected. A half lie is the same as a half truth, which is neither here nor there. You want something that is definite, something that is wholesome, something that is pure and unadulterated. Your first step is to make it possible for yourself to believe your own lie: note the word "possible". Your lie therefore has to be truthful in some ways, especially when it concerns your own character.

For instance, once (this is, naturally, a hypothetical situation, Dad) I was sixteen years old and had a love bite on my neck. My mother did not approve of love bites back then (I don't think she approves of them now but I don't remember the last time I had one, which is another indication of the dull dreariness that is my - never mind).

"WHAT'S THAT ON YOUR NECK?" She screeched at me one day.

A lesser person would have said, a mosquito. That is ridiculous, everyone knows the difference between a love bite and a mosquito bite, and I did not make the mistake of underestimating her intelligence (another important point to keep in mind: do not underestimate your opponent's intelligence...and yes, the person you're lying to is an opponent. Don't be deceived on that score).

"Oh, Jahnavi and I were really bored yesterday, and we were reading a Cosmo article on love bites, so we tried it out on each other."

My mother gaped at me.

However, she bought the lie. Why did she believe it? Because she is familiar with my personality, and with my friend Jahnavi's personality, and with the fact that we often read Cosmo, and she believes us capable of performing such an act. Also, she was unaware of the fact that I sneaked my boyfriend into the house the previous afternoon, but that's not the point.

The point is this: while my mother undoubtedly questioned my santity, she has been questioning it for years. It was nothing new. So while it probably didn't improve her opinion of me, it saved me from a long and tedious lecture on how I was "too young to be flaunting my sexuality".

So in order to make your life a lot less stressful than it is, learn to lie, and to lie well. A quick recap: always remember your lies, make sure your lies are characteristic of your personality, and since you're lying anyway, make it good.

Let me end this post here, on the subject of lies, by revealing a lie: I did not write this post for your study break. I wrote it to give myself one.

But you will also know that it is not an artistic lie, and that I am capable of much better, and so are you. 


Annual Documentation of Pre Exam Trauma.

I am depressed.

I am depressed because I printed out a copy of my syllabus last night, and I pinned it on the bulletin board in front of my desk, and then next to it, I attached a copy of the exam time table. My instinctive reaction was not to be depressed; it was to have a hysterical breakdown. 

I locked myself up in the bathroom with half a cigarette (I'm trying to ration 'em) and stuck my head out of the window and tried breathing exercises which didn't help because I was smoking, and so instead, I just blubbered. And then Aditya called, and I started screaming at him, and he passed the phone on to Vikram who's had more experience with my screaming, and after repeatedly being told that I was an undiscovered genius, and all I needed to do was calm down in order to tap into the pool of genius buried deep (deep, deep, deep) within me somewhere, I managed to drag my body with its battered soul out of the bathroom.

I stopped blubbering, I made myself some chamomile tea because it said on the box that it relaxes and de-stresses you. I also lugged two big bottles of water to my room, after recalling an article I read a few weeks ago about how it is easier to absorb information if you're well hydrated. 

So I studied late into the night. And I studied all day today. 

The hysteria has gone, and I wish it would come back, because though unproductive, at least it provided me with a small quotient of unnecessary drama. I'm quite fond of unnecessary drama as long as it happens in private, and not in public with scary women attacking me in bars which is another story that I will never be able to tell here, which is a pity.

Anyway, I got Mawii to deactivate my facebook account, and I've switched my phone off, and the only face I've seen all day is my mother's (she's being very sympathetic: making me coffee at nights, and hugging me a lot. She hasn't screamed at me in twenty three hours which must be some kind of record). 

After the exams, many, many glorious things await me, and with a bit of luck, life should be absolutely wonderful, and I won't be depressed at all; I'll be too busy prancing around revelling in the marvelousness that is my life for the rest of 2012. So what the hell. I might as well just sink myself comfortably in misery for the time being; spend some quality time with it before saying goodbye.

Here is a photo of my study area which has been put up for two purposes: 1) to demonstrate the suitable gloom of my surroundings (I cannot study in a happy, bright, and positive environment) and 2) because I like putting photos on my blog now. It makes it look more colourful although this photo is not.  

PS My mother, upon seeing this photograph, felt it was necessary for me to qualify that the bottle of Absolut Vodka on my desk contains water, not vodka. She does not read this blog, but was understandably worried about what its readership (hello there, Anonymous!) would think of her parenting skills. 


Truth is rare and it is strong and it is a cliche, and when it exists, in its most purest possible form, it needs to be preserved. And sometimes, the only way to preserve it, is to end what created it. Not with loud voices, or recrimination, or regret, but like fire on earth: consuming itself to survive.