I’m Going Back to Malory Towers

I recently discovered this captivating blog by Meenakshi, on an afternoon when some train of thought led me to a Google search for Darrell Rivers. The Head Girl of Malory Towers, my favourite boarding school of all time lovingly built by Enid Blyton. Meenakshi wrote beautifully from Gwendoline’s perspective, one of the (un)popular girls in the school, and her writing had me completely hooked.

Where have those innocent, carefree days gone when acing it in a subject, becoming School Captain, and catching your crush’s eye was the most joyful prospect of life? In our rush to grow up – or maybe we didn’t have enough choice – so many early pleasures of life have been strewn along the way, never to be reclaimed.

In Malory Towers, passions ran high when you “stole” someone’s best friend and sat next to them in class.

Waiting at the school gate at Half-Term, expecting your parents’ car to drive in any minute, was one of the highlights of the year.

The annual school function – plays and pantomimes – were huge on involvement and emotion.

Talking about your future ambitions with your friends, brushing away one career option for another, as if all of them lay in wait for you, their breath bated.

Not caring about facial acne, or caring too much.

Going on school picnics in casual wear and showing off your stylish, outdoorsy clothes to friends.

Being the “popular girls” or the ones who wanted to be, as if that was all that mattered.

I have spent countless afternoons lost in the world of Malory Towers, studying for exams with Darrell and Sally, going riding with Bill and Clarissa, playing the fool with Alicia and Betty, disappearing into my shell like Emily, being scatterbrained like Irene. I cried for a whole hour when the last book ended, feeling every bit of the bittersweet emotions that the girls felt upon graduating from school. I was completely silly and entirely happy all at once.

Lately, nostalgia gets a stronghold over me like never before. It lures me in with the prospect of reliving old joys, but by the time I come out, I have no idea where life is headed. It won’t do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, advised Dumbledore, and for the most part, I am cognizant of that. In fact, many of my former dreams have frayed and disappeared and not been replaced by fresh ones.

But sometimes, losing myself in an old world, forgetting the present as if intoxicated, and reconstructing fictional people and places like they were ever real, is the best dream I have. It is a dream I can make true if I put in just a little effort.

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Ministry Shares Tips To Cope With Depression, and I’m Fuming

In my professional capacity as Editor, I have worked with a fair number of writers: in-house, freelancers, agencies. I have fought over word counts, especially with the last two on that list. Some writers send in desperately forced 500-word-pieces to meet their targets; at least 200 words are mere fluff. In the health and wellness space, there are two “fluff” pointers that I’ve seen many writers champion.

  1. Get enough sleep
  2. Eat fresh vegetables and fruits

Ah, the miracles of rest and fresh produce. There isn’t much that they cannot cure, it seems, from stomach problems and skin conditions to quarrels with your husband and coming to terms with the loss of your pet.

Thanks to recent communication from the Indian Ministry of Health, I’ve discovered yet another superpower these two goodies have: curing depression.

Yes!

Here’s how it works: If you are depressed or going through a “period of low mood”, don’t fret. Don’t listen to all those know-it-alls who recommend you talk to a loved one or a therapist. Don’t give it any more importance than you would to a sad evening when you’re upset because you ran out of cookies.

All you need to do is sleep for eight hours and eat fruits.

Check out, if you haven’t already, this insightful poster the Ministry recently shared on its Twitter handle.

Continue reading

Rain & Me: Old Friends Who Have Fallen Apart

Rain

There was a time, many moons ago, when I used to love the monsoon. My heart skipped a beat when it rained and my MP3 player hummed monsoonal tunes. I’d sit by the window as the rain washed the dust off my garden plants and watch everything enliven. I’d ask Granny to make onion pakoras, dip them in ketchup, and munch them with great delight.

Years have now passed since that time. Continue reading

Trust Me, This Little Habit is Truly Life-Changing

It’s unlike me to propagate life-changing advice. I usually turn up my nose at anyone who does, for come on, everyone has a life that is diametrically different from yours, unique in a manner unknowable by a generic life-coach.

But then, I am not a life-coach. I am only someone who has recently picked up a habit and is all aglow with its miraculous power.

Here it is: Continue reading

My Saturday Discovery: A Jar of Joy

It was Saturday evening – the kind of beautiful when Sunday evening’s pit-of-doom feeling is far, far away. Why, there was glorious Saturday night to live, followed by the Sunday morning quiet and drinking coffee while listening to the wind. (For me, the pit-of-doom usually sets in after 6 p.m. on Sundays.)

“Let’s have an ice-cream,” I said to R.

“Can we also have cheesecake?”

R is fixated upon cheesecakes lately, ever since we got back from Vienna. He has fallen so head over heels in love with cheesecake that even chicken has started feeling envious.

“Okay, let’s go out and explore our options.”

What is marriage if not a little bit of me, a little bit of you, I reasoned. On Saturday evenings, I am all zen-like. Nothing can touch me. I am as pleased as a hummingbird who has discovered a tree-full of fruits and is chirping away like a deranged creature.

We saw ice-cream parlours. We saw bakeries with cheesecake. We saw hipster ice-cream parlours that sold cheese-flavoured softies.

And then we found this.

Frozen Bottle

This delightful, decadent jar of ice-cream, cake and fresh mango all whipped up together. This slice of bliss hiding in Lane No. 6 of Koregaon Park though I hear they have more branches across Pune. It’s deliciousness come alive in a jar.

I have always loved experimenting with food and eateries. While some experiments succeed, others fail majestically. The latter tempt R to stick to a safety net when we eat out and give me curious glances as I make my order. But Saturday evenings like these? They reinforce R’s faith in me and my choices. Good for you, you cute-little-mango-icecream-cake thingamajig!

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. 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