The Annual Re-cap

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?

- Got fired.
- Got served with a legal notice.
- Twice.
(At this point I'd like to state I got re-hired and never went to court either because, you know, sometimes things don't become as bad as they could.)
- Held something that was dying. Man, what a cheerful year this has been.
- Admitted to hospital, hooked up to IV drips, the whole lot.
- Moved in with a boyfriend which didn't work too well obviously because I've moved out.
- Went about two months without drinking.
- Had to actively attempt to put on weight. It was surreal.
- Did not have a single stupid drunk embarrassing incident occur. That's right, baby. 365 days. No drunken regrets.
Oh god, the day I typed this, I did stupid drunk embarrassing things and I am dying now. I WAS SO CLOSE. SO FFING CLOSE. 
- Something work-related I don't want to mention in case it doesn't go through.
- Turned into someone that I am almost okay living with.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year's resolution was to severely limit my drinking, if I recall correctly, which I do, because I just checked. I managed to a certain extent. 
This year:
1. Continue attempting to be someone I can live with.
2. Use sunscreen because I am turning 25 and I don't want wrinkles and I'm not going to quit smoking anytime soon. 
3. Start rolling cigarettes instead of buying them.
4. Control my temper.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


4. Did anyone close to you die?


5. What countries did you visit?


6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

Organisational skills. (Although these I have lacked pretty much my whole life, not just in 2015.)

7. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory and why?

You know what? I've been through a lot this year. Many dates will be etched upon my memory, hopefully they will not remain.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Probably the way I dealt with it. Sort of. Sometimes. 

9. What was your biggest failure?

I'm not sure.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Oh yes. Already - mostly - documented. 

11. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My uncle because the realisation of how hard he works to take care of my grandparents has really hit me this year.
And Jahnavi because it's been an Annus horribilis for her, I think, and she's come out on top.

12. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

An ex-boyfriend from a couple of years ago. (Men suck.)
And someone else I don't want to name. 

13. Where did most of your money go?

Alcohol. Autos. Cigarettes. (WILL THIS EVER CHANGE?)
Oh, and food. And rent. And phone bills.
Oh god, now I'm depressed. 

14. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Mawii's visit in February.
That's about it.
So thanks, Mozo.

15. What song will always remind you of 2015?

I don't think I will know until next year. 

16. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

Maybe both, maybe neither. Let's put it this way: if I was happier last year, it's still not something I want to go back to.

17. What do you wish you'd done more of?


18. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Nothing. HA!
Actually wait. Maybe I wish I'd done less of nothing.

19. How will you be spending Christmas?

Christmas has come and gone. I was in Calcutta and I spent it with my mother. And it was good. 

20. Did you fall in love in 2015?


21. How many one night stands?


As Jahnavi puts it, the men around here are all subhumans.

22. What was your favourite TV programme?
The Newsroom.
And Frasier, I went through a Frasier phase after years. 
Oh, and Master Chef. 

23. What was the best book you read?

A Fine Balance, perhaps.
There's another one but I don't remember the name.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?



25. What did you want and get?

Many, many things. 

26. What did you want and not get?

Emotional certainty? 

27. What was your favourite film of this year?

I don't knows.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 24. The same celebration as every year except this time - I wasn't excited. I didn't want to turn 24 because the next step is going to be 25 and that step is TWO DAYS AWAY OMG. 
I really like saying OMG. 

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Nothing, I guess. It's been a difficult year, but I'm glad that I lived it.

30. What kept you sane?


31. Who was the worst new person you met?

No one!

32. Who was the best new person you met?


33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learnt in 2015.

You can get through anything, anything at all. All you need is temerity and/or denial.

34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.



I have never longed for and dreaded something equally in parts at the same time, ever in my life; and at the same time not cared.

So many emotions, and no emotion, all wrapped up in one fucked up bundle.

If I can handle this with grace, I swear I will not dread turning twenty-five; I will feel that I can, and that I have, coped. And that will make all the difference. 


I Am Not Well (Part 4).

I've already mentioned how my mother, who'd been ready to rush to my side for days, ended up booking the wrong flight ticket. Anyway, she re-scheduled for the next day. And a couple of hours before she was due to land, I got a call.


I sighed a deep sigh and waited for her to continue.



(She did manage getting on the next flight, and landed up in the evening. My father called soon after, and asked where she was. "She got here half an hour ago," I said. "She's been getting there half an hour ago for two days now," he said. Haha. Ha.)

Going back to that morning. I was alone because S. had to go to work and all my friends were at work and my aunt and uncle were at work. The hospital had a rule - patients cannot be left unattended by their attendant for more than an hour. I spent half the day alone.

"It's because everyone else has work," I told myself miserably, as I lay on my bed, staring at the ceiling.

"I am loved, I am loved, I am loved," I told myself valiantly, as I lay on my bed, listening to the chatter and laughter of the six people who were visiting the old lady sharing my room.

Man, my life is a tragedy.

And then, at lunchtime, when I was dozing with the curtains around me, I suddenly heard a lot of commotion happening. The curtains were drawn, but I could hear the door banging, and nurses rushing in and out, and raised voices.

Oh god, I thought. The old lady's dead. Or dying.

I desperately wanted to peer through the curtains to see what was happening, but it felt like a nasty and intrusive thing to do, and also, I was convinced that I would see something horrifying. So I just lay there, biting my lip, thinking about this lady's life coming to an end, just feet away from me. At least she was surrounded by the people she loved.

Except it turned out that she'd been discharged and was leaving to go home. She cheerily waved goodbye to me as she wheeled out and said, "Maybe you will go home! God willing."

The indignity of it all.

I told myself that she didn't mean it the way it sounded, i.e. I think it's touch and go, but I hope you make it out alive.


After she left, I had the room to myself which was rather nice. They'd taken me off the drip that day, thank goodness, so I was able to walk around properly. But there wasn't really anywhere to walk, so I just stood at the window.

It was an interesting view. There were no buildings blocking my view. The window looked down on the main road, and across it, was a school. The grounds were empty just then, but a minute or two later, a file of nursery students were led out by their teacher. The children couldn't have been more than four. She lined them up and then, to my delight, they underwent that classic Indian punishment: holding ears and bending up and down. I counted how many times they did it - fifty. And they say today's children get no exercise.

As I stood there, watching them, feeling devoutly glad that my school days are long gone, all the other students started filtering out, milling around the grounds, and on the pavement outside.

The beauty of Home Time.

I could see groups of girls and boys standing around, mostly separately. The younger ones were screeching and running up and down the pavement. I don't know why. Children baffle me. One particular girl - she looked about fourteen - caught my eye because she was pacing a stretch of pavement on her own. And then this boy passed her, and she stopped. I couldn't see the expression on her face obviously, but I think she had a crush on him because as he walked by, she stood still, staring at him as he walked away.

Or maybe she was just staring at something else, but I like my interpretation. It made me fondly (time being a great healer) recall my own youth, and the time I'd spend standing on the pavement just outside school, looking longingly across the road at Farhad Anklesaria.

He already knew my face from the CCFC because I used to stalk him (and not very subtly), which is why, when he saw me standing across the road for the first time and realised I was in La Martiniere too, an expression of horror crossed his face, and he moved away very quickly.

Oh, the power I have over men.

Anyway, so I was standing there, comfortably back in the past, when something towards on my left on the window still - which was broad enough to climb out on instead of terrorists or a fire except you couldn't open the windows so you'd die anyway - caught my eye.

It was a dead kite.

I feel like throwing up just thinking about it. I couldn't see the entire bird, thank god for small mercies, but its back - all the limp brown feathers...

...sorry, I can't continue.

When it comes to birds, okay, life, but birds have a significant role to play, I just can't catch a break. And I know it was probably harder on the kite, being dead and all, but whatever.

I didn't go back to the window again.

Min, Bilal, and Sexy Lion came to visit me that evening which was nice; it made me feel I had friends. They all commented on how shit I was looking, which was not so nice. And then they went away. Come to think of it, maybe there's something to be said for having no friends.

And then my mother turned up. I required gentleness and comfort, but naturally she freaked out (loudly, as is her wont) about my appearance.

Which was quite awful, to be fair.

My skin had gone all patchy, I had the rash (although it had cleared up a bit), and I'd lost two kilos in two days except, at the same time, I was all bloated. My hair was in the shape of a triangle, which it usually is, unless I take the trouble to blow-dry it, which I don't, but it was even more triangular than usual. Seriously. And given that my face was bloated and rounder than usual, baring an alarming resemblance to a circle, I looked like a geometry problem.

That's the thing about being sick. It's so much better you have that pale, ethereal, ready-for-the-angels look. Easier to deal with somehow. I will never be ready for the angels. They'd probably take one look at me and fly away.

Did my mother settle down after that, by my bedside, stroking my hair or asking whether I wanted something hot to drink?


She started nosing around the bathroom. Now the bathroom was okay and all, it was large, sun-lit, and clean. But come on. It was a bathroom. But she droned on and on and on and on about the excellent location of the shower, and the convenience of the toilet, and the wonderfulness of this and the impressiveness of that. I guess it's just one of those things she does that is, and always will be, incomprehensible to me. Like the way she randomly opens my underwear drawer in Calcutta and sniffs it. Even when I'm in Bangalore.

Anyway, she went back to stay at my aunt and uncle's that night (my father having correctly pointed out that she would demand more attention from the nurses than myself) so S. was my attendant instead. Some attendant. He ate disgusting McDonald's burgers that made the room smell, watched television, and passed out. Aren't I lucky to always be surrounded by such kind, compassionate people.

I was bored and couldn't sleep, so I called the nurse and asked for the magic pill (even though I didn't need it) and in seconds, I was asleep.

More about the day that followed later. I'm afraid this is getting tedious, and I'm forgetting a lot of the things that happened (which, let's face it, is probably a good thing), but you know. Finishing what I started and all that jazz.

To Be Continued. 


I Am Not Well (Part 3).

Okay, so given how much time has passed, I should really be calling this, I Was Not Well, but too late now. Oh...well.

Right, so I packed my stuff for hospital. Here is a reference in case you too ever need to be rushed off.

1. Pyjamas which I didn't need because they gave me a terrible prickly hospital gown - more on that later.
So actually, come to think of it, a pair of pyjamas is something you won't need to pack.

2. A book that I'd been attempting to read for three and a half years, but couldn't, because I don't understand half the words, and because, by the time I get to the next page, I forget what I've just read. It's Ayesha Jalal's Partisans of Allah.
Anyway, I suppose this is another lesson on what-not-to-pack. If you haven't read it in three years, three days in hospital won't cut it.

3. A bag of mixed berries. Because it was the only food in the house apart from two day Chinese leftovers (predictable). I also got people to smuggle food in. This is the only thing I did right.

4. ....

Okay, so I travel light.

Anyway, my aunt and uncle took me back to Vikram Hospital. By this time, I felt like a regular visitor. It was almost comforting. Or so I told myself valiantly, as I pictured days spent in a hospital bed stretching endlessly out before; my lone companion, a sick, elderly person who would die in the night. (Speaking of which...)

They hooked me up to an IV again in Emergency, but just as I was drifting up, a nurse came up to me and made me move to a side-room. Because apparently my situation wasn't as urgent as the person I was making way for. (It wasn't, but the nurse didn't have to make it so clear.)

And then I had to pee in a cup.

So the story around this is hilarious, so utterly hilarious, but given the subject matter, I think I shall, for once, give this one a miss.

Man, you're so missing out though.

And then finally, after hours of my aunt and uncle running around getting the admission procedure done, while I dozed happily, I was wheeled up to my room.

"I don't need a wheel chair," I said incredulously when they brought it to me. "I can walk."

"But you have to, Ma'am,"

"No, no. Not necessary."

"It's procedure, Ma'am."

I begged. I actually begged. I couldn't imagine anything more humiliating than being wheeled through waiting rooms, with my hair defying gravity and my glasses hanging off my face, which was bright red and peeling off, and I was clutching my bag with a bag of berries sticking out of it, but I didn't have to imagine it, because I was lucky (haha) enough to pass a mirror on my way out.

"I don't need IV drips, I need plastic surgery," I said out loud, but as usual, I was ignored.

So I get to the room, Room 306, and I had the bed by the door. It wasn't bad, actually, it was rather nice. There was a big window at the far end that let in a lot of light. We were relatively high up, so there were no windows blocking the sky. The floors were wooden. And each bed had curtains that left enough space to make a little private room.

The other bed, at the far end of the room, was occupied by an old lady.


But she had her daughter with her throughout, and during the 24 hours she was there, people kept dropping in to visit her, which was comforting somehow.

I think it's because, a few months ago, I went to visit a friend of S,'s called Pog. Pog had been admitted to Fortis, a hospital close by and incidentally one of my clients, and he shared his room with an old man. An old lady, presumably his wife, was his attendant. No one visited them. She had to sleep on that uncomfortable bed. She sort of sat there, next to him, and you kind of got the impression they were both alone in the world. It was the sort of thing that just gives you a little ache, you know?


I got into bed (my aunt and uncle were still getting all the tedious stuff done), and I played with remote control a bit. Up, down, up down. I then took a moment to appreciate the rare and blessed feeling of clean sheets, but I was disturbed by a nurse who came in with the dreaded pyjamas.

Funnily enough, they weren't too bad. It wasn't a tunic, it was in two pieces, and it didn't leave your butt hanging out, and it was pink. The pink was unexpectedly cheerful.

Then, predictably, the IV and the sleep.

I haven't mentioned my mother yet, but she'd been quite busy. She'd intended to come down that day, that evening, but later in the afternoon, I got a frantic phone call.


"Hi," I said apprehensively, because I'm always apprehensive when she talks in capital letters.




I ask you, what can you say to that?


A part of me momentarily wished that she had made the realisation when she got to the airport, but I dismissed the thought as an unworthy one.

"There there," I said to her. "I'll see you tomorrow. Don't worry."


I had a theory on how it could have happened, more than one in fact, but I chose not to share them with her.

S. stayed the night - all hospital rooms have little side beds for 'attendents'. The night was horrible. I was itching all over, it was agony, and the medicine they gave me wasn't helping either. And now we come to the old lady - my god, that woman could snore. I have come across snorers before - my grandmother and my father were experts at the art - but this was like...I can't think of a parallel, but at some point, I was very close to tears, because the night seemed to have paused. I didn't see how the snoring and the itching would ever go away, I felt as if I was trapped in that situation forever, that maybe I'd died and this was my hell, and my punishment, for all the selfish things I've done and all the mean things I've said to people.

But then I called one of the night nurses, and she gave me a beautiful little pill (that I'd demand more than once, more on that later), and all of a sudden, poof, I'd shut down for the night.

To be continued.


I Am Not Well (Part 2).

Thursday, July 30. So on Thursday, my temperature started coming down a bit.

Ah, the road to recovery, I thought.

I can go back to office on Monday, I thought.

Tra la la la la, I thought. Before passing out and sleeping most of the day.

My mother called at some point and told me that she was going to come back to Bangalore. I saw red.


"Did they take a malaria test?"

"Yes, of course they did,"

"What did it say?"


"The report?"

And then I went through the report and realised that they'd only taken a platelet count - and asked me to return on Friday because platelets can take a while to drop.

"But she told me everything was negative. So I assumed that she took the dengue and malaria tests."

My mother didn't even shout at me. She understood that a) I've never been to a hospital under such circumstances, i.e. alone and b) that I was half-delirious most of the time and c) I am generally useless although less useless than I used to be.

But I assured her I didn't need her to come back because S. (who was away on a shoot) was coming home that evening.

Friday, July 30. Relatively boring day. Slept. Went to hospital. Got blood tests done. Blood pressure scarily low, but the tests were all negative. Went home. Yawn. Except for when I went to sleep - this agonising itching started around midnight - everywhere. I couldn't get to sleep till 3 in the morning. The itching on my face was particularly bad - forget scratching, I wanted to rip the skin off my face. But my skin was clear, there were no rashes. I spent an hour crawling around my bed, inspecting it for bedbugs or fleas - but nothing. An irritating mystery.

Saturday, July 31. In hindsight, I should have just started documenting everything from this point onward. But oh well.

So apart from the usual tiredness and fever, everything seemed normal until 10 PM when I went for my bed-time bath. I noticed a red rash covering my arms. And then I noticed, to my growing horror, that it was all over my body, including MY FACE.

I am very particular about my complexion. I follow a Set Skin Care Routine. Exfoliation every alternate day, a cleanser twice daily, followed by toner, followed by moisturiser, followed by vain attempts to get rid of the dark circles under my eyes. So you can imagine what this rash - and dryness, my nose and parts of my face had started peeling - did to my soul. I also had a huge pimple on my cheek, just to add some icing to the cake, I guess.

I yelled for S.


I would like to say he came running, but he moved at an infuriating slow pace and informed me it wasn't measles.

"Measles are like little red pimples," he said. "This is just a rash,"


"Do you want to go to hospital?"

Remember how I told you I loathe hospitals more than anything, and do my best to avoid them?

Not this time. Not when it comes to my skin.


So at 10.30, we went off to this hospital down the road from where I live. I solemnly vow never to go there again. We got to Emergency and the 'doctor' looked at my rash and confirmed it wasn't measles; it was an allergy or maybe a result of the viral fever.

And then he got a nurse to stick an injection into me.

There was a brief tussle for a moment - I thought she wanted to inject my bottom, and I refused to let her touch me, protesting that my bottom was sacred. But she finally managed to communicate that she was going to stick it into my hip, so that was okay.

The 'doctor' seemed supremely unconcerned. He had an ugly face, which is forgivable, But it had an ugly smirk on it. That is not forgivable, especially given the circumstances. And he didn't check the inside of my mouth or my eyes and more importantly -


That's right! No lab coat! Just an ugly brown shirt and ugly brown pants (that suitably matched the aforementioned ugly face and ugly smirk) and I distrusted him from the start.

I called my mother to tell her what had happened, and I told her (and S.) that there was no proof that jackass was a doctor, he could have been a Man Who Sits At A Desk, but as usual, no one listened to me.

Neither the injection nor the pills he prescribed helped me at all. That night, my fever went up to 103 degrees. I drifted in and out of sleep, shivering despite the four blankets I'd piled on top of me. And then, at 3 am, when the world was dark and quiet, I woke up because my face felt funny.

Sort of like when you're drinking water and you put too much in your mouth, and so it spills out, trickling down your chin, and your neck.

I put a hand to my chin, and I looked at my fingers in the moonlight. They were covered in blood. It was blood.

I'd only been awake for a few seconds, and I wasn't thinking properly, so in that moment - just a split second - with my body burning up and blood pouring out of my mouth, I thought, maybe, that I might die. I don't know how to explain it without sounding like an idiot. It was such a fleeting feeling. And my only thought was about something I regret; something I have been regretting for a long, long time, something that I broke and cannot fix.

On the bright side, I can't do anything about it, not even if I end up on my deathbed. I don't know whether that's depressing or comforting.

Anyway, like I said, it was a thought that passed as soon as it came, and I stumbled to the bathroom where a very gory sight met my eyes.

The entire lining of my top gum, the entire semi-circle, was bleeding more heavily than it's ever bled before. In the front, where it was pouring down my chin like a waterfall. At the back, where it was filling my mouth like a monsoon pool.

And if you think reading about it is disgusting, imagine what seeing it was like.

Luckily, we actually had a medicinal mouthwash in the house - not a regular one. So I coollied with it three or four times and the blood started receding, and it finally went - only my gums were redder and more raw than usual.

S. looked scared, which was gratifying, and he kept checking my nose for blood. According to him, it's a sign of high blood pressure, and I think he would have rushed me to the hospital if it had been bleeding. But it wasn't.

Everything seemed okay for the moment, and I didn't really want to call my mother up at 3 in the morning, so I went back to sleep.

I told her about it the next morning, and before I knew it, my aunt and uncle (who live down the road) spoke to some doctors who recommended I go to the hospital. They all agreed that it sounded a viral infection, albeit a really nasty one, and that 48 hours of supervision would, perhaps, be a good idea.

I nearly objected - I have never stayed overnight in a hospital before, let alone two nights (except when I was born which doesn't, obviously, count) - but then I caught sight of myself in the mirror. The rash had gotten even worse.

"I'll be ready in fifteen minutes," I told my aunt.

And then I started packing my things.

To be continued. 


I Am Not Well (Part 1).

There are sometimes advantages to being sick. Not when you have a cold, mind you (there can be no advantage to snot flowing out of the caves that were once your nostrils), but maybe a mild fever that lasts a couple of days. You can lie in bed for hours on end, with nothing but sleep and books to keep you company, and ask people to bring you cups of tea and they can't even tell you to get it yourself because that would make them Selfish and Inconsiderate and Unfeeling. Ha ha. 

But what I've been through the past week, my god, I've been through the very depths of hell and I swear that for once I'm not exaggerating. 

Tuesday, July 28. My mother had been in town and she was leaving that morning. She was on her way home after a month-long trip to Amrika and Engerland. She turned 56 on the 25th, by the way, and when I made fun of her age, she asked me to compare our lives to see who had the better one.

She doesn't usually get the better of me, but when she does - ouch. 

Anyway, so I spent the previous night at my aunt's, so I could have a Last Breakfast with Mum before she left, and I woke up that morning in agony. Terrible pains in my chest, the back of my knees, my wrists. I bent down to pick up something I'd dropped at one point, and the pain was unbelievable. 

"Something's wrong," I told her.

"Nothing's wrong. You just slept awkwardly."

"But I've never had this sort of pain before,"

My mother's explanation?

"You slept awkwardly in a position you've never slept in before,"

"Never slept in before? In twenty-four years?"


I let it go. Sometimes, with my mother, you have to let things go. There's no other way.

Anyway, I kissed her goodbye, and hugged her tight, and then left for work with a slight lump in my throat. Because the world is a strange place and I am more fond of her than anything else in it. 


I was feeling awful by the time I got to work and by noon, I was burning up with fever. So I finished off the bits and pieces of work I had to do, and went home at lunch-time. 

I don't know how I got home and I don't remember the next 24 hours either. I just sort of lay there, drifting in and out of sleep. I do remember having to go to the shop to get water because my Aquaguard isn't working and I haven't gotten around to fixing it, and I remember that it was a very painful excursion. It's just a 2 minute walk, but I had to stop and rest, and when I got home, my fingers couldn't hold the packet the water was in, and the bottles fell on the floor, and rolled around, and I spent another painful 2 minutes attempting to pick them up.

Oh, the tragedies I have lived through. The sufferings I have been through. The traumas I have - 

Okay, getting back to the point, otherwise no one's going to believe I'm not exaggerating. 

Wednesday, July 29. I woke up feeling worse. I knew I needed to get blood tests done because the joint pain was getting unbearable, and the fever was disturbingly high, but I hate hospitals. I spent much of Wednesday morning googling doctors who do home-visits instead.

There are none anymore. Which is really terribly sad. 

My mother called. 

"I think you should go to the hospital for tests," she said.

"I can't go to the hospital on my own," I said irritably. 

"Chini can take you. Suja spoke to her and she says that Chini's brother works in a hospital close by. She thinks you need a blood test."

Chini is the lady who comes to help out at my aunt and uncle's house every morning. She makes very good coffee and I adore her - not just because of the coffee. 

"Well, see if she can arrange for someone to come to the house. That would be good. Because I cannot go to the hospital." And then a bellow to make my point - "I CAN'T EVEN WALK PROPERLY." 

"Okay, okay, I'll call you back." 

I was settled in bed when the doorbell rang and Chini walked into the house. I hadn't been expecting her. 

"What are you doing here?" I said in surprise.

"Come, we'll go to the hospital."

"No, no," I protested. "I don't need to, Chini. I'll get someone to come to the house. It's absolutely fine. I'm completely okay,"

"No, let's go, it's close by." 

I made a last feeble protest. "My legs hurt."

"I'll get an auto for you and we'll go together."

There are some people who, without the slightest hint of authority, in the sweetest, most matter-of-fact tones, Get Their Own Way. Chini is obviously one of those people and I am no match for her.

I found myself quietly putting my jeans on and hobbling out the door. 

We got to the hospital, it's close by, on Miller's Road and ironically it's called Vikram Hospital (I didn't find it amusing, but all my friends did) and Chini introduced me to her brother who is on the nursing staff. They took me to the Emergency Department and I climbed gratefully into a bed. 

The first thing they did was attach me to a drip. It was exciting at first because I've never been attached to a drip before, but it stopped being exciting very soon, and after they took my pulse rate (I could hear it beeping away on those machines which was slightly scary) and my blood pressure and stuck a bunch of needles in me, I fell asleep. 

Chini was a star. I had to stay there for 2 to 3 hours, so I told her she ought to go home instead of hanging around, but she refused to. She got all the paper-work done and paid the bills while I drifted in and out of an uneasy sleep. I didn't have to lift a finger; she was, to put it simply, amazing. 

The tests were apparently clear (I thought I'd been tested for malaria and stuff but more on that later) and the doctors thought it was viral fever. So they gave me some tablets and sent me home. 

Chini dropped me right to my door, I assured her that there was plenty of food in the house and that I'd be fine. And then I staggered to bed and fell asleep again.

A small side note on dinner that night. I was too tired to make a sandwich so I called this Chinese restaurant near my house. I don't usually order from them, they're on the expensive side and I don't like their food as much as Delicacy which in my opinion is the best Chinese restaurant in Bangalore, but I was craving soup and Thai Green Curry. So I ordered that. 

The soup and curry came and ten minutes later, I realised there was no rice with it. I burst into tears. Pathetic, I know. And then I got angry and I called the restaurant and they told me I had to order the rice separately (a small steamed rice, by the way, was 150 bucks).


(Later, mulling over this matter, I realised that this is India, and maybe green curry and chow mein is not unheard of.)


At this point, I started crying again over the phone (my fever was at a fever-pitch) and I must have scared the poor man at the end because he said he'd send across rice for free. 

Now my temper is explosive, but it never lasts for long, so five minutes later, I called the restaurant back. 

"Listen," I said. "I'm sorry for speaking so rudely. I lost my temper. I still think it's a little unfair - you should mention that there's no rice with it, because most restaurants send rice, but I shouldn't have spoken to you that way. Please send the rice, but I'll pay for it."

"No, Ma'am," the poor man at the other end of the line said, probably cursing his job. "We'll send it for free." 

"No, sir. I insist on paying for it. I'll give the delivery boy the money."

"No, Ma'am," said he. "It's absolutely okay. Please just take the rice."

"Well, thank you very much," I said, after another minute of arguing with him. "It's very kind of you and I'm so sorry about shouting the way I did. It's really...so kind...I..." And then I started blubbering again. 

"We'll send it immediately, Ma'am," he said in alarm. "No problem, don't mention it."

The power a crying woman has over men is truly one of life's greatest mysteries. 

To be continued. 


For you. Today, and everyday.


Ceci n'est pas une egg.
It is fifty thousand words that can't be written.
Fifty thousand thoughts that just won't die.


How to be a domestic goddess. Or a domestic fraud.

I start a new job on Monday. And I managed getting a huge raise which means, for the first time in my life, I am completely financially independent. To me this translates as follows - I can pay my rent and still drink beer in pubs. Shady pubs, but I like shady pubs - they're infinitely more interesting than the other kind - so that's okay.

It's difficult not to be emotional about this (i.e. being independent, not pubs), because since graduating college, my ultimate goal has been to not leech money off my mother for rent. To stand on my own two feet. To walk the Path alone. (Don't ask me which path, I have no clue, but there has to be a frigging path somewhere.) To stand tall. (I also mean literally because though 5'3" seems short to most people, they are uninformed and do not realise I am above average height worldwide thanks to India and, of course, China.) To swim without sinking. To -

Etc. etc.

But seriously. This has been really important to me and it's one of the biggest things I've managed to accomplish in a long while, though, of course, it's an accomplishment nearly everyone...er...accomplishes.

Don't get me wrong. I'll still be making peanuts, but a few more peanuts than previously.

Anyway. Where was I?

Oh right. I start a new job on Monday. Back to the working life. Back to unforgiving deadlines and re-writing a single paragraph multiple times and spending three hours on producing a headline that isn't shit. (I'm not kidding, to get a headline that isn't shit, you sometimes have to write more than a hundred. And you usually go back to the second one you wrote but that's neither here nor there.)  Back to returning home post-midnight, to having three days to come up with a pitch that will convince an important company to use your agency to sell it, and then a campaign to actually sell it. Back to banging my head against my desk, not having time to eat lunch, and being irritable and stressed nearly all the time.


Because you know what the alternative has been?

Being - egad - domestic. That means: making beds, keeping the house relatively tidy, and calling the guy from Onida to service my washing machine. Which isn't difficult. On the contrary, it's extremely easy, but it's also tedious. And quite frankly, I'd rather battle a shark (I've written a guide on how to do it anyway). At least it won't be boring - if I live to tell the tale which, let's face it, I probably won't. (Although it's a pretty kick-ass guide.)

But I've had to do it. The domestic stuff, I mean. Because even I realise, inconsiderate and selfish and lazy as I am, that it's completely unfair for S. to come home to a complete mess after a long day at work (which mostly comprises, I suspect, playing some infernal tank game he's discovered) when I've been sitting at home doing nothing.

We have a lady who comes in to help four times a week. But the thing about Vijaylakshmi is that she insists on making me dosas because she thinks I need to be fatter (she has a horror of collarbones) and then she runs off without cleaning the bathrooms or dusting the shelves. And how can you ask someone to clean bathrooms and dust shelves after they've made you dosas? I can't.

But once I start work, I won't be around to eat the dosas, so maybe she'll have to clean the bathrooms.

Ha ha, Vijaylakshmi, ha ha.

(I'm grasping at straws here.)

So I've been over-hauling the house at least once a week and doing some light tidying up everyday.

But Viji's taken her kids to Chennai for four days, which means I have to step up the ante. Especially when it comes to cleaning floors - thanks to the rain, a bunch of insects have made our home theirs and they are inconsiderate enough to die everywhere, at the same time ensuring their corpses are carefully positioned for human feet to tread upon.

 And even though I hate cleaning, when I do decide to do it, I am pretty thorough.

Okay, sometimes I take short-cuts.

And so this guide has a two-fold purpose: to aid those who wish to clean thoroughly and, more importantly, to aid those who wish to make it seem that they've cleaned thoroughly.

1. On dusting 

The thorough way to do it, henceforth known as You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

Remove all objects from surface. Wipe surface with a wet and soapy cloth. Then wipe damp surface with a dry cloth. Repeat on the removed objects. Then put them back.

For ceilings, use that long ceiling cleaner thing every ten days. Cover any furniture that dust may land on. Alternatively, just brush off the dust from the furniture before attacking everything with a jharu. 

The quick way to do it, henceforth known as the Last Resort

Keep objects where they are. Use wet and soapy cloth to clean all the spaces around objects. Move cloth briefly over objects themselves. Put faith in the air or whatever to dry the bits that have been cleaned.

Ignore ceiling. And never look up.

2. On dishes

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

Rinse dish thoroughly. Then clean with dish-cleaning liquid or whatever it's called. Rinse again. Check for any bits that are still stuck to the dish. Repeat process with focus on the bits. Wipe with dry cloth until the dish is dry. Then place dish on shelf or in cabinet/drawer.

The Last Resort

Rinse. Use liquid. Check for bits if you are on the fussy side which I am. Do not check for bits if you are lazier than I am. (Improbable, but not impossible.) Leave on sideboard or whatever and let the blessed air or whatever do the drying. Use dish from its place on the sideboard. This also leaves cabinets empty for more important things - your cat's bed, for instance.

3. On sweeping floors

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

Switch fan off. Remove carpets. You may air them which you probably will if you're following this method - do it before you start sweeping. Sweep floor with a jharu. Pay close attention to corners and under-sofas. Use a dustpan to gather the dirt. Throw dirt in waste-paper basket.

There will always be a bit of remaining dirt that will refuse to be swept on the dustpan. Sweep it out the door. If door has a slight ledge to it, use a flick of the wrist (or a low tennis backhand sweep if you're feeling energetic) to send dirt flying out. The amount should be minuscule if you've done your job properly so calm yourself; it doesn't matter.

Then fill a bucket with soapy water. Use mop to clean the floor. It is extremely important to make sure that there are no dustballs or hairballs left, otherwise they just stick to the floor. Which is disgusting.

Re-fill bucket after cleaning every room otherwise you'll be using dirty water which defeats the point of this exercise.

Leave fan on high. And make sure your feet are clean otherwise you have to repeat the entire process which is just depressing.

The Last Resort

Switch fan off. Ignore corners and under-sofas and carpets for now. Once dust has accumulated, sweep it into corners, under the sofas, and under the carpets. No one will know.

Mopping is optional.

4. Laundry

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

If you have a washing machine, use it. If you are insane, fill your time with other things - cleaning the machine on the outside, for instance.

If you do not have a machine, fill a bucket with soapy water. Energetically dip clothes in the water several times. Then scrub clothes with a scrubbing brush (or use one part of the garment to scrub the other part, this helps with stains). Then rinse clothes until all the suds are gone. Then hang them up to dry.

The Last Resort

If you have a washing machine, use it.

If you do not have a machine, just rinse with water and hang out to dry. There shouldn't be any smell. If there is, just spray deodorant on the offending garment.

5. Making beds

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

Strip down all sheets and bundle into laundry (if you've been using them for more than a week). Take out new sheets, give them a vigorous airing, and use them to make the bed. Tuck them into the corners, smooth the wrinkles. Repeat this entire process with the pillows and their covers. Air the bed cover (according to Mawii, it's unhygienic not to have a bed cover) and cover the bed, making sure that it doesn't drag on the floors and covers all the bits underneath and hangs evenly on all sides of the bed.

The Last Resort

Make an attempt to smooth existing sheets down. Throw bed cover haphazardly on bed. If anything offends the eye at first glance, throw a bunch of cushions over it.

If you haven't changed your sheets in a while, and don't intend to for a while longer, place a clean t-shirt on your pillow before going to sleep. This ensures that the dirt and oil on your pillow doesn't seep into your face and resurrect the acne of your teenage years.

6. Folding clothes

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

According to my mother, there is a particular formula to folding clothes. First you do this, then you do that, blah blah blah. She has shared this formula with me many times - I have also observed Mawii doing something similar - but there are limits to my patience so if you want to know, email me at trishdutt@gmail.com and I'll put you in touch with one of them.

The Last Resort

Just sort of fold your shirt or whatever so it looks reasonably folded, like a sort of square shape. Or, you could do what I do, and just toss your stuff in a cupboard and let it pile up. If you reach a stage where everything falls out the minute you open the cupboard door, a little re-stuffing will do the trick.

7. Ironing

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

Adjust iron to the setting required for your garment. A cotton garment has a different setting from a silk garment. Lay garment out, sleeves unfolded. Iron front. Iron sleeves. Pay close attention to the edges. Flip garment and iron the back. Flip again and iron the front. If you are as incompetent as I am, you will probably have to do this several times. Fold whichever way you wish to fold.

The Last Resort

Do not purchase clothes that need ironing. If you must, find a dhobi. If you are particularly daring, attempt to start a non-ironed clothing movement. Interestingly enough, using a hairdryer can also be pretty effective.

Friend once claimed that he used his laptop to remove creases from his clothes. You may try this but if you saw Friend, you wouldn't.

8. Bathroom

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

Put on yellow gloves (they're always yellow for some reason) and attack drain first. Pour the relevant liquid/cleanser down the drain. Don't ask me which one to use. I'm not promoting products, mostly because I don't pay attention to them - I usually just use whatever liquid thingy I have lying around. Then pour water down. Foam may rise, but it usually goes away, so that's okay.

Use your gloves to scoop up any muck.


Then pour that cleaning thing made for toilets. Harpic. HARPIC! See, I know Harpic. Leave there for at least twenty minutes while you do the rest of the bathroom.

Mop floor. (Using a jharu is unnecessary.)

Clean sink, pay close attention to taps.

Then use toilet brush to scrub the inside of the toilet. Then flush.

The Last Resort

Ignore drain. Dump harpic in toilet and let it stay there until the next time you flush. Pour soapy water over sink and all over the floor. Leave bathroom and only return when it's relatively dry.

This brings me to the end of my guide. Perhaps there are more things I haven't covered, but quite frankly, I've been covering the bed (with a bed cover, I hope you're happy, Mawii) everyday for the past three weeks and I'm done.

I sincerely hope the content of this post has been illuminating.

And if it has been repugnant - in the sense, made you shudder increasingly as you picture the effort required to keep a house clean - I sincerely hope you feel a new appreciation for your job.

P.S. The best thing to do, really, is to find a Mawii. Although a Mawii - like all good things - is very difficult to find.


The Art of Leisure.

I've lost it.

 The art of leisure obviously.

Because of reasons I won't get into (not right now, I'll talk about it in a few months - it's a story that is full of hilarity with a small dose of horror) I don't have a job.

Hell yeah, I thought on Monday. This is glorious. I can do whatever I want.

Brilliant, I thought on Tuesday. I'm going to sit and home and revel in doing nothing.

I need to be productive, I thought on Wednesday. I will start writing A Book and I will clean the house from top to bottom (which just goes to show how desperate I was for something to do.)

Today I will grocery shop, I said to myself on Thursday. And I will continue to write My Book. I spent the entire day watching Downton Abbey but I actually did write.

Unfortunately, I also had a panic attack. I didn't realise it was a panic attack because I was relaxed and watching Downton Abbey. Suddenly, I noticed that there was a small, sharp pain with every beat my heart took.

I sent my brother a message on Skype. He told me to go to an ER. Then I messaged Mawii. She said the same thing.

"I'll go in the evening if it isn't better," I said.

"You might be dead by then."

I really should have been more careful when choosing my friends.

The pain changed then. It was just my chest, or my heart, that was paining continuously - not with each beat. My left arm started feeling heavy and then these sharp pains started cropping up. First on my shoulder blades, then to the left side of my chest.

I called my mother. She told me to call Dr. Vatsa.

So I called Dr. Vatsa, described the symptoms, and was informed it was a panic attack.

"A panic attack?" I said incredulously. "But I wasn't feeling panic when the pain started. I'm only feeling it now."

"It's quite common to not feel panic before an attack starts. It feels like a heart attack and then you start panicking and then the pain gets worse and the panic gets worse and - are your palms sweaty?"

I looked at my palms and informed her they were.

"There you go. It's a panic attack. Don't worry. It just manifests as a heart attack sometimes."


And then my mother called again and told me to do these breathing exercises she always rambles on about - ever since she started yoga - and unfortunately, they helped. There'll be no shutting her up after this.

It took a couple of hours and lots of 'emptying my mind' and it went away.

Dr. Vatsa told me that it was because I had nothing to do.

"I love having nothing to do," I said incredulously. "I thrive on it."

"No, you miss work."

So then my sense of self got completely fucked, obviously.

On Friday, I greeted the morning with determination. I was going to continue writing The Book. Five chapters already and the rest outlined. I got to seven chapters before collapsing on the sofa with beer and moaning occasionally.

I tried reading, I didn't feel like reading.

I tried watching tv shows, nada.

So I just lay there and felt sorry for myself. I was going to have friends over, but I was still too busy feeling sorry for myself, so I cancelled and continued to revel in self-pity, staring blankly at a wall, occasionally sipping on flat beer.

And then I ate a lot of junk food and I went to sleep. (I've been doing nothing except eat the past ten days. Three weeks ago people were telling me I was looking skinny. Now I am being described as 'healthy'. This is not helping the misery.)

Today is Saturday and I am being rebellious and listening to Sunday Morning. I usually only play that on Sundays because it fits the appropriateness of things but to hell with that. I am also giving up on My Book because I was usually stoned when I re-read it and therefore laughed hysterically and thought I'd finally found something worth working on.

But I just read it for the first time when sober and it's so boring I want to gauge my eyes out.

So now, I will stop wasting time, and send my portfolio out, get a damn job, and go back to working life.

Being on holiday somewhere else is different from being on holiday at home. I thought I would love having nothing to do, but I hate it. Even my usual leisure activities no longer hold pleasure.

It's kind of like when someone wants to have sex with you, really wants to, and makes it obvious. And even if you're sex-starved and know you can tap them anytime you want, you won't.

It's sad because I always thought I could perfect the art of leisure given the opportunity. But I can't. I don't like having nothing to do when I actually have nothing to do. I only like having nothing to do when I have something to do and I'm not doing it.

I am deeply disturbed because this week has made me realise that I am not who I thought I was and I will have to re-examine my life perspective completely. I have spent fucking twenty-four years already examining it.

Trust me, it was not fun.

Most people thrive on happiness and joy.

I thrive on misery and self-pity and self-delusion.

So there's a silver lining then.



RSS's Mohun Bhagat calls for change, says Indian culture is being abandoned 

Raj Thapar, TNN| Mar 10, 2015, 11.14 AM IST

NEW DELHI: In an occurrence that is becoming increasingly frequent throughout the country, 25 year old Manpreet Kaur reached home after work without any untoward incident despite leaving at 7 pm. 
RSS representative Mohun Bhagat called it "disgraceful." "Indian culture is being abandoned." He went on to clarify. 
Kaur, who works in PR, walked 15 minutes to catch a bus which arrived on time. The only occupants were driver Nikhil Sawney (36), conductor Ravi Singh (23) and 11 unidentified male passengers.
Apart from Singh collecting Kaur's fare, not a single occupant of the bus acknowledged her for the duration of the 1 hour journey. 
After alighting, Kaur walked through the narrow alleyway to reach the 2 bedroom flat where she lives alone. Kaur reports that though she passed several local men playing teen patti and drinking in the alley, they did not glance her way even once. 
"Honestly, I am hardly surprised by this now," commented Kaur. "I even frequent Chinese restaurants without feeling unsafe." 
In the past month, at least 3 women have come forward to report similar incidents.
"I was wearing denim shorts and walking along a crowded pavement," says 19 year old Tanisha. "My bottom was not pinched by a single man."
According to 30 year old Riti, she was drinking at a nightclub till 2 am and waiting to be picked up by her boyfriend on the pavement outside. "The only man who approached me offered to stand with me until my boyfriend arrived." she claimed. 
Last week, a Delhi MP stated that women being out on the roads after 7 pm was completely normal. He was contradicted by only 80 ministers.
"The way things are going, we will no longer be able to blame women for men's misdeeds," said a local Delhi constable who wished to be unidentified. He added: "We will have to turn our attention to atheists and non-vegetarians." 
DT News Service

Copy from a spec ad I did at work, I wanted to update this blog, but I didn't feel like writing. 


The most fascinating thing I've discovered this week.

Kim Kardashian apparently pees into her spandex.

And this is not a shallow piece of gossip - it actually requires a hell of a lot of mental processing.

Think about it, people.

Kim Kardashian pees into her spandex and, not stopping there, also chooses to share this information with the world.


And they say social media doesn't bring us all closer together.


Three little kittens lost their mittens.

So I have two cats. They started out as S.'s cats but they're most definitely mine now - ours, I mean. Their names are Zorba and Eustacia. S. named them after some obscure literary characters. Maybe not obscure, Zorba is from Zorba the Greek. I can't remember Eustacia's origins. I think it's because his last cats were called Booze and Snooze. He wanted to move up the ladder a bit.

But this is not about my two cats, this is about their offspring.

Unfortunately, as they grew older, for a couple of weeks, Zorba (who pretty much spends his life eating, sleeping and crying) decided to start bonking Eustacia. I didn't interfere obviously, but it's deeply disturbing. Because I knew them as kittens, as kitten brother and sister, and I guess it's sort of like seeing your children becoming teenagers and having incestuous sex all over the house with no regard for propriety.


The result of this was Eustacia got pregnant.

Two weeks ago, S. and I were sitting in our room talking about something, and all of a sudden, I heard this sound.

"I bet Zorba's stuck in your cupboard again," I said.

But then I realised that there were multiple meows in there. And for three seconds, the universe came to a stand-still while I struggled to cope with the fact that my cat had given birth to kittens in my closet.

Well, S.'s closet. (Thank god.)

I opened the door - I was terrified in case I'd see a stillborn, or blood - but I saw three little clumps of fur. I cautiously poked them one at a time. They moved. I breathed.

And then I became hysterical. (The joyful kind of hysterical.)

We didn't move them. After a couple of days, Eustacia moved them to the top shelf of the cupboard.

I can't even begin to describe how tiny they were. Too tiny to even pick up. We left them to their mother.

But I would rush to the cupboard every morning as soon as I woke up. And every evening when I came back from work. And every couple of hours whenever I was at home. The first thing I'd do was to check that all three were there (all the same colour, all sleeping in a pile, difficult to tell.) Then I'd check to see if they were all breathing. Occasionally I would poke them to make sure. And then, reassured, I'd stand there, beaming like an idiot.

And this was despite the fact that they were boring as hell, mind you. They weren't even particularly cute. They looked like blind and ugly lab rats that turned orange in an unfortunate experiment. Which I actually found quite endearing but I was clear-sighted enough to realise it was one of those delusional parent things. (You know - how most parents think their kids are beautiful despite all evidence to the contrary.)

And throughout, I was terrified they'd die. Because, as I have repeatedly mentioned over the years, I am extremely morbid.

And then, about ten days after they were born, their eyes started to open. Beady little black eyes. One lagged behind a little - it looked like a squinting pirate for a couple of days. That was funny.

I couldn't really tell them apart. But during the first week, one of them kept giving me heart attacks, because it would refuse to stay still unlike its sleeping siblings. I spent most of my time worrying that it would fall out of the cupboard. But I didn't want to move it either. So I piled some of S.'s shirts on the floor as a makeshift cushion. And I piled the rest to make a sort of fortress at the edge of the shelf.

"Have you seen the way you dress?" I said, in response to his feeble complaints. "Like it matters."

Later, when they were over two weeks old, we moved them to a carton on the floor of our room, after cushioning it with, er, cushions.

That's when I noticed that one of them had an abnormally large head - although, to be fair, he was larger in general. Just like his father. (Who, I might add, remained blissfully unaware of the existence of his progeny.)

Were the restless one and the big-headed one the same? I didn't know. But soon, it wouldn't matter.

Exactly a week ago, I went out with Jenny and some of the Indiranagar gang. S. and I met up around 10 and came home together.

As soon as I entered the house, I noticed that kitten noises were coming from behind the UPS in our living room.

"Eustacia must have moved them." I said, rushing towards it.

Two of the kittens were huddled together. One of them was lying on its back.

I have had many nightmares come to life. Here was another one.

I didn't touch it. I just glanced at it and started screaming and rushed into the bedroom. While I was curled on the edge of my bed, sobbing and shrieking, completely hysterical, all self-control abandoned, S. came in and, attempting to snatch some hopeless hope, I said, "is it definitely dead?"

It was. We thought that it had drunk acid from the UPS - it had been leaking some a couple of weeks previously.

I brought the other two into our bedroom and kept them on our bed, kneeling on the floor, with my arms around them, as if that would somehow help them to live forever, to never die.

We buried Kitten 1 the next morning.


The next day was Friday. I rushed home after work to check on the remaining two, but even though I was obviously nervous, I'd be lying if I said I was expecting anything to have happened.

I went to the carton - and there was the nightmare again. One kitten was okay, the smaller one. The other was on its side, not moving. I tilted the box and the smaller kitten tumbled gently towards a corner of it, looking up at me reproachfully. The other didn't look up. It didn't move.

I didn't have a phone. S. was at work. I couldn't afford to be hysterical. So I rushed to the computer and messaged him on gchat but he wasn't online. Neither was my mum. So I Skyped Zaev and gave him S.'s number. S. came online five minutes later and said he'd come home as soon as possible.

I rushed back to the carton to take the last kitten out. And I realised Kitten 2 wasn't dead.

Just dying.

And there was nothing I could do.

I've never watched a person or animal die before. I picked Kitten 3 up and held it against me. With the other hand I just softly stroked Kitten 2, and talked to it. It died a gentle death.

Hysteria was starting to set in by now. I noticed the remaining kitten had fleas and I went online and everyone was saying fleas can kill kittens. So I washed it as best as I could in the sink (it protested vehemently) and put it in another carton and sat in the kitchen talking to it inanely.

I also started singing to it. Mostly because my voice is so terrible, I was hoping if Death was hanging around nearby, it would flee in disgust.

S. came home bringing syringes and milk; he guessed that Eustacia, because she's so young, had probably stopped lactating. We called a vet who snorted at the flea story and said that yes, the mother had stopped lactating. He told us how to go about feeding the kitten.

We buried Kitten 2 that night, the same day as its sibling.

There is a coconut tree near our courtyard and coconuts often fall in the corner where S. was digging. I was torn between sadness and an unreasonable fear that a coconut would fall on S.'s head and kill him.

Sadness and the ridiculous intertwined as always.


I spent the next three days feeding the third kitten. It was not afraid of voicing its displeasure when milk went up its nose. We'd get a few ml down and then it would wriggle away and go exploring - on a pillow, extensive territory for it - and occasionally roll on to the floor before being picked up and subjected to more milk.

Despite all the warnings that came my way, I began to feel I could save it. In my more optimistic moments, I fondly pictured my kitten and I, taking naps on the sofa together, sitting around in the courtyard (away from the bloody coconuts), being best buds. I let myself hope.

On the third day, I noticed it was weaker. It became more passive, it didn't object to the milk, if I put it down for a minute after feeding it, it would fall asleep instantly. S. didn't think it was a bad sign. It was resting, its heart beat was steady, its mouth was turning pink. But for me the fear returned.

I went late to work on Monday after a feeding session. S. stayed back for an afternoon feeding session and then went to his office.

One of us needed to go check on it early evening, but I was too scared to. I'd found the other kittens, I didn't want to take a chance with this one. So S. borrowed a colleague's bike and went home.

He messaged me an hour later, telling me it was dead.

He had to work late and I couldn't stand to be in the house alone so I went to my brother's after work and stayed there until S. and I could go home together.

We buried the kitten, the last one, the next morning. And I cried least for the one I loved the most.

I'd even given it a name, that Friday night, when I sat cradling it in the kitchen.

I called it Muhammad Ali.

Big fat help that was.

But to be honest, I like to think that it was appropriate. Because Muhammad Ali was the smallest and the weakest. And it fought. Really fought. Maybe not death - I don't know what fighting death entails. But definitely that damn syringe. We even had to switch to a smaller one. And Muhammad Ali lived for three extra days. Lived long enough to lick my chin. Long enough for S. and I to glimpse the beginnings of an individual personality.

And then Muhammad Ali retired, that's all.


Beef pickle.

The thing about this year is it has been a happy one. Which isn't saying much, considering we're just a little over a month into it, and there's always room for disaster.

But every day, every ordinary day, reminds me what a good place I'm in. (Touchwood - I have a fear of being fey.)

But I believe in the occasional happiness rocket. You find one, you recognise it for what it is, you tie yourself to it. And off you go. Whirling and spinning to a place that only allows you to visit now and then. It's a place that looks like five beers down - but more. Much more.

It turns you into a blithering idiot. It impairs your ability to function. And it makes you want to scream. To turn cartwheels. (Metaphorically in my case.) To run around telling everyone that their lives suck compared to yours.

I just got my first happiness rocket of the year.

Because Mawii's coming to Bangalore next month.

Mawii. Is. Coming. To. Bangalore. Next. Month.


What is a Mawii? It's difficult to define, but here's an example.

She posted the (confirmed) news on FB. One of my comments was going to be, BRING ME BEEF PICKLE.

But I didn't end up posting it.

Later, while we were FB chatting (in caps), she said: I'M GOING TO BRING YOU BEEF PICKLE.

That is what a Mawii is.

I hope you have a Mawii in your life. Because good beef pickle is pretty hard to find.


"I'm doing my makeup."

There is one characteristic my mother has that universally pisses off my family (or entertains, it depends on their mood).

And that is her inability to be on time. For anything.

When my grandfather was still alive, he'd be her alarm. Every time she had to catch a flight.

The poor man didn't even live with us, but he'd still set his alarm religiously for 5 AM (depended on the flight of course, but in my memory, it was always 5 AM). And he'd call her.

"Mimi, Mimila. It's time to wake up."

I'd hear her groan.

"Come on, Mimi. You can do it."

A few scuffling sounds. Another little groan.

And then, finally - "Okay, Daddy. I'm up."

You almost wanted to give her an award.

And then half an hour later, another phone call.

"Mimila. It's time to leave now. Have you finished packing?"

"Yes, yes, Daddy. Nearly done." A blatant lie. She was still doing her makeup. She's always doing her makeup. And she hadn't finished packing either.

And then we'd leave half an hour late, and make the flight by the skin of our teeth.

The reason I never missed catching a single plane as a child was because of my grandfather.


When her friends come to pick her up for a night out, they usually resign themselves to a long wait.

When I was still living in Calcutta, her friend Nandini would take it upon herself to call me.

"Trishaaaaa. Trishaaaaa."

"Hi, Auntie Nandini."

"Tell your mother I'm leaving."

"Yes, Auntie Nandini. She's already in the shower, Auntie Nandini."

"Okayyyyy. I can't come up, okayyyy? Tell her I can't come up. The car can't be kept waiting. Tell her to come down in twenty minutes."

"Yes, Auntie Nandini."

I don't know why she even bothered. We both knew how it would end. Auntie Nandini would end up coming upstairs after all, and having a glass of whisky or wine, before my mother emerged from her lair.

"Sorry, sorry, sorry. I was doing my makeup."

The more optimistic of her friends, the ones who don't know her quite as well as Auntie Nandini, choose to sit in the car downstairs. They think it'll take her only five minutes to join them.

The poor fools.


As our visit to London drew to an end last month, she spent a lot of her time nagging me to pack, to be on time.

"We have to leave at nine in the morning." She said, over and over again. "Don't be late, finish all your packing on time. Your uncle is driving us to the airport. You know what he's like."

Yes, Mama, I do know what he's like. I've seen him practically have an aneurysm because you're late every time we have to go somewhere with him.

(During the holiday, she was supposed to go to an exhibition with my uncle and two aunts. She wasn't ready, so my aunts carried on. She left with my grumbling uncle. I left the house about twenty minutes later - I was heading out to meet a friend - and bumped into my mother and uncle at the station. My uncle did not look happy.

"I thought you left ages ago."

"We missed the last train. Because of your mother."

"Don't be such a stick in the mud," my mother said shrilly. "The exhibition isn't going anywhere."

Ironically, it did. It got too late so they ended up drinking tea in Covent Garden. My mother also managed to get some shopping done. She was the only one who returned from that expedition in a good mood.)

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yeah, she was nagging me to pack.

Now this may surprise you, but I can be a little fiendish on occasion. My mother's packing had started two days previously. This is one of the great mysteries of life. She spends at least two days sorting things out and packing, and she still can't finish on time.

So on our last night, when everyone was sitting around watching television, I went up to my room and did my packing. Didn't take me long. Admittedly because, unlike my mother, I don't fold things. I just crumple them in a ball and throw them into the suitcase. And then I went down.

"Trisha," she snapped, as soon as I entered the room. "It's nearly ten pm. Go pack."

"I've finished," I said. "Just need to put the toiletries in - I'll do that after my shower tomorrow."

The look on her face was gratifying. It was exactly what I was aiming for.

Because, after two days of 'packing, she still had to wake up at the ungodly hour of five am, while I slept on blissfully.

I woke up at eight, showered, put the last bits and pieces in, and merrily sat around for an hour, drinking coffee and chatting with the family.

We left when we were supposed to leave. I won't lie. I was disappointed - the last time we were in London, I'd spent a memorable hour listening to my uncle bang on my mother's door, shouting that planes don't grow on trees, while she yelled back the words we all know by heart.


But this time, like I said, she was ready. Just before the car rolled out of the gate, she turned to me and said, "Did you take your medicine?"

I cursed under my breath. Ran out of the car, my aunt and cousins were still at the door. Looked for the medicine on the dining table. Ran back to the car, checked my rucksack. Wasn't there. Ran back to the dining table - eventually found it under the newspapers.

As we finally pulled out of the driveway, my uncle started lecturing me. You need to be more responsible, you need to be more prepared, you need to be more punctual, etc.

My mother was sitting in front, but I could still see the small, satisfied smile on her face. And the triumph that draped itself across every line of her body.