Fire In My Plate

Red chillies

“There is something wrong with this chicken curry,” declared my brother-in-law.

I glanced up from my plate with some difficulty. My ears, you see, were burning. And I am pretty sure there was smoke emerging from my nose.


“I said there’s something wrong. It doesn’t taste quite right.”

R and I were at his parents’, and my brother-in-law, who is utterly fond of cooking, had prepared a delicious chicken curry for us. He had paired it with fluffy rice. The curry tasted amazing, and I, tired out after the long drive from the airport, ate large mouthfuls before the problem became apparent. At R’s place, they always serve us food on the same plate: a gesture thought to promote love. I gave R a sideways glance; he was gulping down glass after glass of chilled water.

“I have got it!” my brother-in-law clapped his hands in a Eureka moment.

“What is it?” I asked weakly. Continue reading


Evil Eye: How to Protect Yourself

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to offend anyone’s faiths or rituals. The belief in the evil eye is a subjective choice, and the “tips” to ward it off are intended purely in jest.

Evil eye

It is almost laughingly easy to “catch” the evil eye. Babies can catch it as soon as they emerge from the hospital which makes the kajal necessary even if the paediatrician advises against it. Pregnant women can pick it up any time, especially once their bump becomes evident, which is why they must remain confined to the house and avoid contact with the outside world. Vehicles can get affected unless you put up lemons and chillies in the front or some of those fancy, new-age gadgets imported from China. Heck, even homes—never mind how sturdily built with earthquake protection—can catch the evil eye, necessitating pujas and havans with generous dakshina to the priests conducting them.

So, how can you protect yourself from the evil eye? Here are the suggestions I have received over time and seen in action in my immediate and extended community. Feel free to try them out—at your own risk. Continue reading

Dealing With Loss

Beautiful evening

It has been five years since I lost my mother to breast cancer. I have never accepted this publicly on this blog, keeping her alive in imagined conversations and shared moments that will never again be. But she doesn’t linger anywhere—not in her bedroom back in Delhi, not in the photo albums of my birthdays, not in her old clothes that I have clung on to and insist on wearing now and then. She lingers only in my memories, in a big room in my heart that she owns for the rest of my life. And while I will never let go of her, I have come to realise over time: it is essential to deal with loss. Continue reading

Cat Logic – 5 Life Lessons I’ve Learnt from My Kitties

Outdoor cats

I have always had cats around at home. When I was a baby, the two house-cats would sit by my crib and watch me sleep. Mom tells me, “They would look at you as if you were the strangest thing they had ever seen, but also the most enchanting.”

Over the years, I have played with kitties, fed them, petted them, and mourned their passing when the inevitable came. I find that the company of a cat brings an unparalleled sense of comfort—there is something indescribably reassuring about a purring cat on your lap, his eyes heavy with sleep, oblivious to the stillness of the day.

Do you own a cat? Let me share five life lessons my cats have taught me over time. If I occasionally flounder at any, they loudly mew their disapproval and proceed to explain things all over again.

1. It is perfectly okay to ask for love. In fact, it is essential.

When someone is busy, try purring and gently touching their arms or legs. When someone is too busy, go and sit on top of their head or in their lap, hiding the obnoxious laptop, mobile phone or book they are reading. You deserve to be fondled, patted, cherished…loved. Continue reading

Bong Girls Be Like

“How come your eyes are so small? You can hardly see them behind your glasses. Don’t Bengali girls have big, beautiful eyes?”

Well, I must be a fake Bengali. I have small eyes; my hair is cut in a long bob; and I don’t eat much fish (tsk, tsk).

Since school, I have been inundated with stereotypes about Bengali girls. They are supposed to be excellent at music and dance, elegantly moving to tune and making the birds hush in revered silence when they open their mouths. My music teacher in school thought I had a pleasant singing voice and she endeavoured to get me to take music seriously. I did; I still enjoy singing in the shower. Once, during auditions for an annual school function back in Grade 3, the dance teacher pointedly asked me to “try out for the march-past rehearsals instead”. I cried for a whole hour. Continue reading

Acceptance – #AToZChallenge

Right from the cradle—actually, from the birth canal—we are constantly pushed. There is the push to meet developmental milestones, to be the healthiest baby around, the chirpiest toddler, the brightest student. We grow up, but the push never really lets up. For those of us who grew up amid considerable jostling, it can be hard to fathom when this push ceases being external. We internalise this drive; we beat ourselves up for missed goals, unmet deadlines, and un-kept promises.

Life needn’t be so hard.

This first day of April, as I begin the #AToZChallenge—the first time I am taking it up—I want to remind myself and anyone reading this that it is okay not to achieve certain things. Sometimes, one must accept instead.



So, this April, while I endeavour to eat healthily, I will accept that there will be days when I partake of ice-cream, fried deliciousness and one zero-nutrition snack after the other. I will attempt to reach out to people who care for me and those I hold dear. But I will willingly accept my occasional need for a cocoon into which no one may enter. Every day, I will try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, but I won’t kill myself with guilt if I watch that Netflix series till past midnight or lie in till noon once in a while. Some dirty dishes can linger in the sink for a few hours; they won’t perish and neither will I. Continue reading

Brutal By Uday Satpathy: Book Review

Brutal[Thriller | No. of pages: 325 | Price: 200 INR /-]

These are murderous times. Criminals run amok after killing hordes of people, often without the strong “vengeance” so advertised by 80’s Hindi cinema. Music is murdered every day; civil rights are murdered every minute. Little wonder then, that murder mysteries continue to fascinate readers across ages. What is a good murder mystery? One that comprises a strong plot, well etched-out characters, and a satisfying resolution. Uday Satpathy, in his debut novel with West Land Publishers and Bloody Good Book, makes a genuine attempt at a fast-paced, intriguing thriller. His frequent obsession with “brutality” and its manifestation, however, becomes his undoing.

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Coke and Margarita


I was drunk with questions after my large glass of Coke at the multiplex yesterday. Drunk without having been served a margarita, that is. One of my perennial concerns is the curious price of the glass, which I fail to arrive at even after factoring in all costs. The second pertains to audience attitude in the theatre. This is scary because it leaves me feeling depressed, out of place and at odds with the world.

What, for instance, can explain the presence of several babbling, very young children during the screening of Shonali Bose’s “Margarita with a Straw” Continue reading

Lemon Girl by Jyoti Arora: Book Review

Lemon Girl

Notwithstanding the candlelit marches and party manifestos, life for a woman in India seems to be on an unceasing downward spiral. If the papers report occasional incidents of kindness and warmth, the ever so frequent reports of crime against women put much of it to dust. Taking a cue from the pitiful present, Jyoti Arora (author of “Dream’s Sake”) pens down a tale of acceptance and transformation. Primarily told through the eyes of a strong female protagonist, Lemon Girl succeeds in being immensely topical and insightful. However, it trips somewhere along the path and falls short of living up to the scope it had presented.

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Four Months on the Dose

Yes, I have been on tablets. In the singular, actually. The nifty device has come in handy for several maladies of my existence.

In the first month, when Dell very thoughtfully initiated the Blogger Review program, I found the tablet does a terrific job of Tuning out Noise. Loaded with music, movies and other A/V delights, I found the noise of the Delhi Metro fading into the background.

Continue reading