Friday, October 28, 2011

The Fireman

Sitar music is on. Mingled with guitar, I think. Dunno how come, but I’m grateful for it. The guitar bits sound like the beginning of Spanish Caravan. Spanish guitar, I think. Just finished reading Fahrenheit 451. Didn’t feel like doing anything after that. Just lay still, curled up on my couch (it’s brown leather and I’ve draped my black winter coat over it, so that it forms a sort of pillow for me, which is where I can rest my head, curled into a 4). I’m in Starbucks again, of course. The Asian girl close by has a virulent pink playboy bunny cellphone. It strikes me as odd and a little jarring. I’ve licked the whipped cream off my pumpkin spice latte (no spilling this time, no sticky sweet warm mess), crunched up the usual butter tart. There was a boy next to me for a while there, some banter. He had a small-ish beard that leaned towards ginger. Seeing him, I understand what it means to be young looking. Behind that beard, is the face of a small gentle boy. Perhaps the kind who liked to watch pigeons. Or shoot them- what do I know after all. I sometimes wonder if books swallow me up. I was reading ‘The Night bookmobile’ last night. Ma and I were discussing the dark side of reading. She didn’t think there was one, and was surprised that I did. She looks at books as a type of escapism. I said that books could consume you if you weren’t careful. Set your standards so high that you became unable to accept an ordinary life. Mundane everyday things start to bore you. Or on the flipside, you could start to notice the beauty in the small things. Get caught up in observing and reflecting, instead of doing- leading to a sort’ve stasis.  I know that at times I’ve been so overwhelmed by the sheer brilliance of a piece of writing, that I found that I couldn’t write anymore.  Sometimes I’m afraid that I’m composing the perfect life in my head, setting impossibly high standards- and that’s the danger I guess of really good art. Books, and music, and film, and oh, everything! They can inflame you, inspire you, spur you to strive for the very best. But if you don’t succeed, if your life is less than exciting, if at last you examine your life and it simply does not compare- then what? Then you’d be left with this sense of futility and failure, and most intolerable of all- sheer monotony. What do you have to look forward to? Fear can be crippling, if you let it.
Here’s another thought- too much stimulus. Reading, listening, watching, always rushing, rushing, rushing- doesn't leave you the scope to think.
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way ti was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching. The lawn cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime”
“Stuff your eyes with wonder’, he said, ‘live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that’, he said, ‘shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass’”
-Granger, Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Just one of those days again when nothing seems enough. Sitting on a couch by the window of a starbucks, I watch life go by. Straight asian couples, gay couples who stick their tongues out at me and wish me good day on leaving- very politely, a large gaggle of middle aged women, the baristas. Pumpkin spice lattes and multigrain bagels with herb and garlic spread (Philadelphia, mind you. I always secret the 2nd sachet home). Everything rushes by in a blur. The music washes over me, creating a comfortable cocoon amidst vague snatches of the conversations around me. I read another book yesterday- The Poisonwood Bible. Surprisingly good, actually. So, I sit here in my orange beret, my mother’s oversized zebra-print kurta and black leggings. I balance my laptop on my legs which are crossed up on the sofa. My dusty boots lie abandoned somewhere by the table legs. The table top carries a discarded white paper bag, my green cell phone and a copy of ‘Wonder Boys’. I haven’t read it yet. I planned to, but I felt unusually responsible and decided to finish my work instead. They’re out of butter tarts again- Starbucks has the perfect crumbly kind, tiny little tarts, not too sweet or overly crammed with honey that gushes out when you bite into it. I haven’t been to the gym in three days- another uncomfortable thought. Push it away, push it away. The playlists they have here is wonderful- they played the beatles yesterday, alternating with the smiths. Today it’s mellow stuff I haven’t heard before, but reminds me vaguely of artists I would know. One half of the gay couple asked me if I wanted a drink and I instantly developed a crush on him (this was before they were kissing and sticking their tongues out at me). Mylo Xyloto’s out. I love my spot- it’s directly in front of the black granite fireplace. Another couple has come and occupied the sofas to my left. It’s actually a cozy circle of four sofas- the Caucasian couple to my left, me, and a middle aged bespectacled redhead on my right (she’s on msn. Why on earth is she at a coffee-shop on msn on a Sunday?). The boy is dressed in a shiny black leather jacket and jeans. The girl stroking his thigh (not in a gross way) wears a blonde ponytail, a red Indian looking scarf-thing and a black sweater. I’m no longer afraid of solitude- in fact quite the opposite; yesterday, I opted to stay home in a comfy sweater and finish reading ‘The Poisonwood Bible’ while eating take-out chaapli kabab, instead of going out clubbing with an old high-school semi-friend and his friends.  We both stayed up till 3am. Sometimes I feel like my youth is passing me by (at only 19, whatajoke right?). But no, really. When I was 13, I was terrified that I’d spend my life alone. It’s not a very pleasant prospect even now. The girl has her hand against the boy’s cheek. He smiles up at her. Crow’s feet. They both laugh. Some female artist singing an indie-type song is on in the background. Now they both get up to leave. So does the middle-aged woman. Island. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What happens when a (almost) 20 year old has to live in the same room as her mum, in a big city

1. Ma: Ami bolechi na? I don’t like this nightclub byapar. Go at 9.
Me:  I asked Mohit already. He said that the dj only plays mixed tapes and the club is totally empty. No one’s there, and it’s true. Anyway, I’m 20, I earn, I do the dishes-
Ma: No you don’t.
Me: *ignoring her* AND I’m a 19 year old in a big city. OF COURSE I have to go clubbing at least once.
MA: I don’t even know who you’re going with
Me: You DO KNOW! Mohit!
Ma: Uff, I don’t KNOW him.
Me: Yes, you do. You’ve known him for five YEARS!
Ma: Yes. I never liked him. Kemon ekta mota ghyabla moton. Retest ditey eshechilo.
Me: You just saw him the one time! I can’t believe you’re being so superficial as to judge someone by their physical appearance! ALL the boys gave a retest for their preboards . Except Tony.
Ma: Na, I don’t like Mohit.
Me: You don’t even KNOW him!

2. Ma: You have to wash the dishes
Me: Ya, just give me two minutes
Ma: Na ekhon maajo na. Do what you have to do after that
Me: Arre, it’s just 2 minutes!
Ma: End e amakei maajte hobey
Me: Uff MA! Can you not just sit on the bed, relax? Just chill! You don’t always have to be doing stuff. You don’t always have to be standing!
Ma: Yes. Go wash the dishes, then I’ll sit
Me: No, you won’t. You’ll do other stuff. You’ll NEVER sit. You’ll ALWAYS be standing!
Ma: *pause* Shotti I tai. (It’s true)
3. Me: Yeah, Ma. Clearly, that is good parenting.
Ma: Don’t tell me about good parenting. Bolchi na, nightclub e jete hobey na
Me: Saying no to everything I want to do does not equal good parenting

Me: *looking at pimple in the mirror* I think I should put toothpaste on it.
Ma: What? Toothpaste? Why?!
Me: The internet said so and the internet know everything.
Ma: Kono din shunini. (Never heard it before). The only thing toothpaste is good for is burns. Soothing effect hoy.
Me: Na, bloody soothing effect hoy na!How would you even know?
Ma:*wisely* Haan, that is how you got through that plane flight.
Me: No, the bloody friggin 'soothing effect' isn't how I got through it. I got through it because I slept a lot and silently imagined burning you all slowly, in my head.

Ma: *rooting through books beside the fireplace?*: Kichu porar moto aache? (Is there anything worthy of reading?
*picks up 'Mist in The Mirror' Eta ki?
Me: It's a horror story. It's good.
Ma: *with incredulity* Horror Story?!!
Me: What?! It's a legitimate genre of fiction!

Aaaand this one’s been said before, but it’s so good, I have to say it again.

4. Me (while watching Koffee with Karan episode featuring Madhuri Dixit ): Ma, who are Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor?
Ma: *very confidently* Madhuri Dixit er meye (M.D’s daughters)

5. *while watching me type this- I've begged off washing the dishes while I type this before I forget*
Ma: Ekhono tor du minute shesh holo na? (Are your 2 minutes not up yet?)
Me: Haan, ek second
Ma: Ekhon ek second!
Me: You can see it when I'm done
Ma: I don't want to see it, I want you to do the dishes.
Me: What is with the all consuming obsession with dishes?!

Monday, October 10, 2011


(excellent, creamy and just the right kind of filling)
(better than i expected)
TURKEY GRAVY (much better than any other gravy i've had this side of the atlantic)
GARLIC MASHED POTATO (not bad- okay types)
FRESH VEGETABLES (fresh. carrots. beans. etc)
(with whipped cream. lovely especially the crust. too sweet at the end, but otherwise delish)
$ 21.99 per Person
PEARTREE RESTAURANT (at 507 Parliament Street, Cabbagetown)

Me and Mum for dinner. So this Thanksgiving, I guess I'm very thankful for good food. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

- Steve Jobs, RIP.