My Sleep(y) Resolution

Tomorrow, I will wake up before the sun.

I will make myself a cup of steaming, fragrant coffee and drink it sitting on the balcony, listening to the early risers among the birds. I will let my mind fill with beautiful thoughts about the dawn clouds, a little blue, a little white, just like human existence. I will have a whole hour or two to myself before I need to delve into the sweaty, rushed world of making breakfast, getting ready for work, and hoping I could instead lounge in my armchair, reading the eager book sitting on my bedside table.

I will set my alarm to go off at 5:30 A.M. That will give me 15 minutes of snooze time before I have to leave the bed. They might say snoozing is bad for you, that you should leave the bed as soon as the alarm goes off, that snoozing messes up your sleep cycle. But can all those warnings stand a chance against the sweet bliss that is 15 extra minutes of morning sleep? No, I need those blessed 15 extra minutes of shutting the world out, of letting my eyes return to the secure confines of slumber.

I will go to bed nice and early. In preparation for getting up early the next morning for my two precious hours of peace. I shift about in bed for a while, trying to tune out thoughts about irritating people at work and focusing on how the night would somehow, magically, erase the newest blemishes on my face. (When will they disappear, by the way?) My nightclothes feel a wee bit stuffy. My throat feels a little dry. Is that a moth on the wall? No, the door did not creak. Go to sleep.

My alarm goes off at 5:30 A.M., the punctuality freak. My eyes spark open. It is silent in the room, but for R’s gentle snoring. The birds aren’t up yet, refusing to sing a fake welcome song for the horror that is Monday. I remember I need to boil milk for that cup of coffee, not just heat the leftover milk from yesterday. (There isn’t any.) What was that dream that made me flinch all night? Something with people arguing about anti-blemish creams. Ooh, will the blemishes have disappeared yet? Dare I look?

Yawn. Perhaps I will shut my eyes for only five more minutes. And then, without delay, I will begin my new regimen of waking up before up the sun and relishing the delicious quiet.

Only five more minutes of shut-eye before the intoxication of freshly-ground coffee beans…

Kaww kaww kawwww!

The cuckoos have departed by the time I rise; the delusional crows are practising their song. The sun has long woken up. By the looks of it, he has also showered and put on his shiniest, flashiest garb.

7:30 A.M. Drat it, drat it!

This morning, instant coffee and the unsettling please-don’t-let-me-be-late thoughts will have to suffice.

But tomorrow will be a new day.

Tomorrow, I will wake up before the sun. Of course, I will.


Why I Don’t Talk More: Ready Reckoner For Everyone Who Plagues Introverts

IntrovertIt is becoming increasingly difficult to feel quiet. To cherish and celebrate quiet. Everywhere I look, the world is getting noisier, and an acceptance of the fact that some people might like to keep to themselves is thinning every second. Continue reading

I Love, Hence I’m Insecure

I had read in a psychology journal long ago that the insecure at heart also tend to be defensive. When we lack conviction in something – a project, our beliefs – we compensate by being extra stubborn at standing up for it. Around me, increasingly, I see this in action every day. 

R went last week to get our Aadhaar cards linked with our new phone numbers. He was told there’s apparently a “drawing of lots” that happens, with only 20 people getting through at a time. It was the only day-off in the week that R could get this done, and turns out, it all depended on luck. When he spoke about the incident to some acquaintances, he was given the full dope about how “India was a large country with millions of people, and things took time”. India’s “large population” was also the reason we didn’t have better traffic management, better waste disposal practices, and better-behaved people.

India was a great country, and everyone’s heart was full of goodness, but the abuse, pushing and groping you encountered in public transport or the streets was because of “population”. Or, “geography”. Or “people like you who leave the country and then don’t come back”.

Calvin and Hobbes

Today, it is only “traitors” who criticise their country. A true patriot lauds his country, rapes and all, even if that means trampling on the feet of all other “Western countries devoid of any culture”. People who date in high-school are uncouth and animal-like, but rapists who assuage their animal lust on babies are extremely civil. Continue reading

The Shocking Red Soup

The other evening, I took home a Chicken Hot and Sour Soup. I have been suffering from a bad cold and cough lately, and Chicken Soup is extremely comforting. Mom would make it for me once, along with all the other hot foods in her collection – khichdi and kadha. I was thinking about her as I unpacked the soup and got ready to slurp. The soup was hot – and I don’t just mean the temperature – and it was delicious. But when I went to rinse my mouth later, a shock awaited me. My lips and tongue looked bloodshot. Continue reading

The Gawkers

Koregaon Park, Pune

I wonder he didn’t fall off his bike. He had stopped it an abrupt motion, and his pillion rider was also falling over in excitement. It didn’t matter that the two of them had on civil clothes and were riding an expensive-looking bike. It was not beneath them to gawk at the foreign girl walking on the pavement – shamelessly, if you please.

The two guys ran their eyes all over her, and, as she hurried past them, burst into guffaws and would-be cool jokes. They had met a foreigner that morning, thank you very much. A foreigner wearing jeans and a tee and carrying a bag of vegetables was naturally a bizarre sight, because, hey, Indian girls don’t do that! Continue reading

A Spitting Image

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Spitting habit in India

I love my country, they say. Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. I will beat up anyone who criticises this country. And then, they spit. They make the streets of this country they love one big, dirty spittoon.

They spit while walking on the pavement; they spit while driving their car. They spit near the neighbour’s gate, never mind how they completed all their ablutions two minutes back at home. The roads are littered with disgusting, gooey spit, right outside a flashy shopping mall or a fine dining restaurant. There is spit lining the walls of a public monument – some of it is even paan-coloured. You walk two minutes in any direction, and your shoes are sure to encounter someone’s spit. Actually, forget the walking, you can be showered by spit even if you are peacefully riding your bike. The spitters don’t see who’s ahead of/behind them. Continue reading

Of Snow and Doggy Wisdom

Snow from the window

It is snowing outside.

I remember when I was small and used to think snow was thermocol – that lightweight thing D and her mom used for school projects. But now I am older and wiser, and know that snow is that cold but beautiful thing that paints the world white. It also makes people want to stay indoors, cover their feet in fleece blankets, and drink hot cocoa. Continue reading

The Wind in the Willows

Oberlaa Park

I always loved secret little places as a child. An alleyway going down to somewhere I had never been before. The dark cupboard in the terrace room that anyone hardly opened. The makeshift tent I made in my playroom with umbrellas and dupattas.

Part of my fascination with secret little places was Enid Blyton, in whose stories the kids always found some sort of secret passage in the most unexpected ways. I stayed on the alert whenever we went out, hoping to tap some floorboards or panels or walls and find a secret passageway emerge. Continue reading

Let’s Order Indian Today

The eight years or so that R and I have been together, trying out new foods has been a thing. Both of us enjoy trying out new cuisines, new ways of preparing traditional dishes, and cooking with spices we haven’t tried before. Before we got married, exotic restaurants – European, Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese – would be our date-night idea. And we spent as much time analysing the menu, or maybe more, as we did looking into each other’s eyes. We ate out at a lot of Indian-food restaurants too – from Bengali to Gujarati to Maharashtrian and others. Ever since, though we don’t eat out as often, we keep experimenting on our travels.

Indian food here in Vienna is very curious. Continue reading

Little Red Chillies

Red chilly plants in Vienna

I recently saw these adorable little fruits hanging in a bunch from their mother plant, their colour a brighter red than my new winter cap. From a distance – chillies or berries or cranberries. They fluttered a bit in the wind and felt soft to touch. I stood and stared at the plant for several minutes, my thoughts going back to a restaurant called ‘Cheetal’ on the Delhi-Haridwar highway. Continue reading