Mandatory Decade Rewind.

If I got a rupee for every time I said “oh my god, it seems like yesterday was 2013. 2020 vara pogudhaa!, I still wouldn’t be able to buy a kilo of onions. But onions aside, am I the only one who thinks we are undermining the speed of time (not like using physics and all but you know what I mean)?

2012

Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me that yesterday was 12/12/2012 and I was one among the five-hundred students in the AFAC Playground practicing our drills for the Air Force School Annual Sports Day while waiting for a meteor to hit us and watch the world to end? I would believe it without second thoughts. BECAUSE IT DOES FEEL LIKE I WAS IN 10TH STANDARD ONLY YESTERDAY. However, I’m still bummed about the fact that the world didn’t end. I bid an extra special goodbye to my parents that day when I left for school, kissed my tennis racquets and on top of that, I was extra jubilant that I won’t have to give my 10th board exams!

At school, few girls of some class huddled in an impenetrable group as they usually do and discuss First World Problems like which boy likes which girl, why they should no more give their maths copy to their class guys every morning to copy down the homework before assembly and devising subtle mechanisms that’ll help them rat out copycats during a class test to the teacher among other pressing issues. Anyways, among such throbbing problems – that day, they were discussing about which parts of Coimbatore would be pulverized to granules first when the meteor hit.

“Hey, my sister was telling okay that Town Hall will be demolished first. You know why ah it’s because pin-code wise town hall is 01.”

“Ae, that is so stupid-u. My mother said whole India will be gone like in that 2012 movie itself. That’s why that movie name is 2012. Today, it will happen like exactly what happens there in that movie. My mother and all won’t say lies.”

“You all are wasting your time. I know a way not to die. When it is 2pm, sky and all will go dark that means, the end is near. Correct-ah­ at that time if you cross your fingers in right hand (because obviously left hand means bad) then those with their fingers crossed won’t die.”

Apart from all this, there were a few students saying that it was an alien invasion (clearly die-hard fans of American Sci-Fi movies). But I was just carefree, happy that I’d be dead by the time the day ends. The only thing I was a bit sorry about the world ending was that I wouldn’t be able to look (read creepily stare) at my crush anymore.

Spoiler alert (to my 15 year old self): You don’t die and your crush isn’t as great as you think he is.

WHAT A BUMMER. Sooooo, I lamentably drudged through the next few months and somehow wrote and finished the boards. it feels like y-e-s-t-e-r-d-a-y.

2014

So one day, I came home from school and my mom says, ‘you have a parcel from London.’ I was beyond excited that the neural system from my head to mouth forgot how to function. ‘Wahwahyuwhatiswahwah’ (read whaaaaaaaaat is this ohmygod ohmygod where is itttttt?!!! aaaaaaah). As you would’ve expected, my parents opened the parcel already, dished out the contents (with more excitement that me, by the looks of it) and laid out the stuff on the dining table. Because, that’s just Tamil parents for you. Even if I get a card, advertisement pamphlets mailed by LIC/HDFC/HSBC, my parents will be there to open it before I even know that there was a letter mailed to me. Because curiosity is a characteristic my parents possess in excess and in addition, a knack to disguise the curiosity as ‘concern’. I should take notes from them.

So, to 2014. I was a hormone-driven, hardcore One Direction fan (thank God, it was fleeting, lasted just for like 3 weeks or something). Most of that time, I diligently spent on making Instagram photo edits on my iPod touch, lyrics posts and joining One Direction fandoms on Tumblr and Instagram. And I had joined Goodreads – courtesy of a friend from the One Direction fandom who said that there was a book (Finding Harry Styles*) which was going to be given away for free to one lucky winner on Goodreads. With full conviction of winning, I entered the contest only to see that the giveaway was purely for US addresses. Okay, worry not. How about ordering on Amazon? Just 1000 rupees. My mother would skin me alive. Again, what a bummer.

But I am very motivated person, you see. Motivated when it comes to anything that doesn’t involve academics. Hence, after a nice, hot water bath and evening tea with Marie biscuits, I obediently sat down on my table, with a streak of vibhoothi** across my forehead and started writing an e-mail to the author of Finding Harry Styles. The e-mail was supposed to be long – conveying my loyalty to the One Direction fandom, my undying love for Harry Styles, how I would love to read about them from an author like him. But I wrote just a paragraph stating that I would love to read his book about Harry Styles but I don’t have enough money to buy the book and that’d he be doing so much punyam if he could give me one for free. I think he saw through my shameless desperation and also he was very kind, he replied saying he’d love to send a copy and asked for my address. Voila!

The parcel.
The book.

Spolier alert (to my 17 year old self): That book is not about One Direction AT ALL. Not a WORD. And your mom calls every single person in the extended family and tells them about how an author sent you a book from London!

* – Harry Styles was a member of One Direction. Cute guy.

** – sacred ash (smeared on ones forehead for religious beliefs)

2015

My parents and I were on the train, on the way back home from Central University of Tamil Nadu (where I would eventually go to do my undergrad) after the counseling. The course was integrated and extended for 5 years and on the day of my counseling, former President of India, Dr. Kalam passed away. My parents – happy and dopamine-drugged from the prospects of me getting into a Central University were conversing in the train and eventually after talking about literally everything (owing the absence of the Hindu newspaper), they stumbled upon Dr. Kalam’s death. And my mom said this (logically, of course):

‘If you think and see, maybe Dr. Kalam died because now that Janani got into CUTN, he can rest peacefully. Correct-ah when Janani finishes her course, it will 2020 and India will be a superpower then, she can takeover as RBI-Governor and all. Perumale! Just the thought gives me the flutters! Can’t wait for 2020 already!’

Spoiler alert (to my 18 year old self):

~ no nails pulled 😦 ~

I’ve lost count of the year. In fact, this includes multiple.

12 years old Janani: attracted to glittery notebook labels, wants to marry Steven Gerrard, has no aim/ambition/goal in life whatsoever, hoards mechanical pencils where the pencil’s crest had to be thrust from its backside, hates eating vegetables and could do better in biology if she tried (by Rajeshwari ma’am in my report card).

I was in 7th standard. All that I cared about was playing during lunch break, going back home and playing with my area friends all over again. But one evening I was made to stay back from playing basketball, since my dad’s colleague’s family had come over for dinner and their daughter was pursuing her bachelors in economics in Delhi University. I hadn’t heard the term ‘economics’ until then. Even if I had heard, I hadn’t paid enough attention for it to be laid in my memory. But ‘economics’, eco-no-mics sounded so fancy. I thought it was about trees and ecosystem and microphones. Ohmygod so interesting! Moreover, my dad’s colleague’s daughter was easily likable and pleasantly entertaining – asking me about books, what I like to watch on TV, my classmates. So, I remember thinking if I do economics as well, I’m sure I’ll be fun like her. There. That’s incisively how I decided I’d pursue Economics.

People (read nosy relatives) ask (mockingly, of course) what I plan to do with my wonderful life, I always said I am going to study economics.

‘And what are you gonna plan to do with one economics degree?.

‘I will do logistics.’ (I meant to say statistics but due to fate, memory lapse, low concentration, focus and playfulness I kept saying logistics for the next two years till I had probability in 9th class maths and it was too late by then because my paati started telling people Janani logistics panna pora.)  Anyways, realizing economics is not about trees and ecosystem and microphones was a relief as I was flunking biology by then. And I found credit, GDP, consumption-investment interesting (not like nerd-level interesting but it didn’t make me cry when I studied it).

In some ways I think it was a (reverse?) psychology of some sorts that made me like economics, repeatedly saying I’m gonna study economics whenever any elder approached, just to leave me alone, I actually ended up liking economics and look, I’m getting a masters in the same 8 years later!

No spoiler alert for this one. Oh wait, I did end up almost choosing the science stream in 11th because I enjoyed physics as well but during admission, a couple of nice teachers said ‘studying 3 subjects you don’t like for 1 subject you like’ >>>> ‘studying 1 subject you like with 3 new subjects. So you possibly can’t do miserably’.

‘I took the road less traveled and it made all the difference.’

Anyways, 2009-2019 was challenging on SO many fronts. Board exams were the least difficult of all. So much hype about those exams for what only I don’t know. And then there was – moving out to university, learning to on live fruits and corn flakes and Maggi for most of the time, getting studies done, and the best part is making friends with so many amazing, quirky people (mostly in the last five years). When I started writing out this post, I thought I should write about all the significant incidents of my life from 2009-19 but as my memory would have it, I couldn’t actually remember more than a few. My old self would’ve discarded this post and be like ‘I shouldn’t post this, it’s not complete. What would people think?’ but now I’m more of a ‘Who cares?!!! You’ve got one life. Don’t think twice, it’s alright.’ In 2009, I was this kid who ran away looking at spinach on the plate and now I’m this woman who buys broccoli at pazhamudhir nilayam to make salad for dinner. The changes, they’re so subtle that you never notice it. But you look back at the decade and I can bet, it’d make you go WOAH! I hope your WOAH! is nothing short of incredible! Happy New Year, you guys!

Nuggets

Yes. It’s been a long LONG time. I know. If you’re still checking up on this blog, THANK YOU SO MUCH. You have no idea how much it means to me 🙂

Also, I seriously don’t know where this post is going.  

  • It’s okay to not be cool. The world right now, is in a constant, never-ending game of who is cooler. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, hell even WhatsApp – anywhere you go it’s a game of ‘cool’. Don’t be dumb like me and participate in that game. It is not worth it (expert advice from 6-8 years of experience). If your hair is falling faster than my grades, if you have all the problems (knee pain, back pain, all the pain that MOOV can cure) then chances are you’re a part of Who’s Cooler. Rise above, comrades. Learn to pick the battles you fight. Meditate every day, increase your brainpower and find cancer’s cure. Now that’s cool.
  • Next: get our ‘climate change’ right. You don’t have to be Greta Thunberg ok. Just be yourself, remind yourself that we have a sixth sense – common sense, a sense that animals don’t have. So you can pick up the trash – and pick up your 6th std EVS book and learn to differentiate between degradable and non-degradable and dispose the trash as per the categories and RECYCLE, you can carpool, you don’t have to use the elevator and escalator – so the next time you go to Brookfields ask the security where the emergency exit is and use those stairs. You might ask – ­would you be doing that, Janani? Haha no, man. I don’t even like Brookfields. Malls are mind-viruses. They coax you to buy the stuff you don’t need with the money you don’t have. Anyways – here is an excellent website https://skepticalscience.com/ – for further education on Climate Change.
  • Don’t eat junk food. I know I sound like your mother but please don’t. This doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself or not eat sugar, not eat salt, not eat this and that. What I’m trying to imply is – take care of your body. Take care of your health. Your body is literally, figuratively, metaphysically – the only thing that constantly tries to do the best for you. Constantly.  The one job that every single atom in your body has is – to keep you alive and kicking. Return the favor and take care of your atoms. EAT THAT PAVAKKAI RIGHT NOW, I SAY.
  • Ok ok ok GUYS. You need to know what is happening in the economy ok. Switch to any news channel or turn to a page in any newspaper you might see words like – economic slowdown, rEcEsSiOn – I know what they mean (because basically I am an economics graduate) but what if you’re a neurosurgeon, or a space-orbiter repair-mechanic or a kindergarten school teacher – you wouldn’t know what these things are. So there are few really nice, handsome guys from IIM-A who run finception (story-like posts) and finshots (2-min reads to go with your morning coffee) for people like you and me to understand them in simple terms and make sense of money and the economy. Please please please please read them so if you lose your job in the next few years – you’ll at least know why.
  • Which brings me to Financial Independency. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to work till I’m bokka-vaai (toothless) and till when my grandkids are in their 20s, I want to retire in a ripe old age of 40. You read that right. But how?!!! Is it even possible?! Yes. It’s possible. Three things you should keep in mind for that are – 1. SAVE. 2. SAVE. 3. SAVE for a few years. But don’t put them in fixed deposits. Come on guys, it’s time you stopped trusting them banks. Put your money in (fancy words ahead) – equities, mutual funds, option derivatives. I’m new to this party too so I’m still on a learning path about the (fancy words ahead) but there are tons of resources on Google. Do your research and save your money. Learn how to pay less taxes. The 40 year old you will thank you later. And if you’re already 40+; age is just a number, aunty/uncle.  

Vera enna.

  • Oh yeah. General philosophy. I’ve been reading up on stoicism lately (for about a year and a half) and it has brought tremendous changes to my perceptions and thought processes. I don’t get angry when my mom serves an extra spoon of Maggi to my brother, I don’t get offended when I’m hungry as a horse and people cut in an already long line during lunch at the mess, or I don’t breakdown when I cannot give my best (*coughs*). So, please read about stoicism when you get time. It’s a vaccination to all the materialism induced mind-diseases. Also, learn to be kind – first to yourself and then to others. It’s very very very important that you’re kind to yourself. And don’t ever do something to impress someone else, or for status, or for money. Do something only if you want to do it for yourself. I hope you do lots and lots of amazing things for yourself! Time is running.

Ok then. I will see you all later. Cheers 🙂

Ps – leaving a favorite Stoic quote of mine

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Madras Chronicles Pt.1 : Don’t take the MTC

It is my fourth month in Chennai and I hope that it deems me fit to write about Chennai or rather the incidents I’ve encountered here. I write as I sit with my t-shirt stuck to the skin from this heat. It is no wonder that Chennai is synonymous to heat with blatantly three kinds of weather: hot, hotter, hottest. You take a shower, return to the room only to find that “before-shower” and “after-shower” makes no difference apart from some aspects like odor, this that which emphatically is short lived. Which also explains why my friend has a ledge full of Axe, Nivea Deodorants and nameless other stuff with Boro Plus squirreled away at the back because, um, prestige. But dear friend, the Boro Plus is precisely why everyone around you has not sporadically swiveled down to unconsciousness. Thanks, boro.

This brings to me to my first MTC ride. Despite sage words of grown-up advice from my mother (who lived in Chennai for 9 years; that gave her a million reasons to appreciate Coimbatore and a million more to counsel me not travel by MTC) and a-good-for-nothing Harey Baaprey (a close friend of mine who underwent innocuous incineration from, yes you’re right, Chennai heat for the past 18 years). The one-lined advice she gave me when I moved here was: Most places you go will be air-conditioned but don’t take the MTC. She is a big fan of Kamal Haasan explains why she talks like that, no? No correlation only. So, given the sudden spurts of daredeviltry that is secreted (which I am pretty sure is more than my melatonin secretion), I decided to take 21G to Tambaram that is apparently 20 kms from my place.

A tiny little voice whispered, okay not like tiny little voice but more like Mani Rathnam movie normal voice that said: “hey, this is not Coimbatore, you better take an Uber or maybe even the local train.” But:

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The bus was flooding, as I knew it would be but believed otherwise. I didn’t have to find a place to stand but the crowd crusaded me to my rightful one-foot property to hang on. And hang on, you have to otherwise you’ll be that Vadivelu who took flight from the centre of bus bursting through the glass for that one sudden break. Mind you, the buses here move forward on sudden breaks and expletives. The conductor sat in his single-seat asking everyone from all the extremities of the bus to pass on money for the ticket while hollering from his throne “ thallu ma, munnadi po, munnadi po ma” (Bad translation 1: move, lady. Go forward*2)

“yov, ticket eduthiya nee? Enga pora? Enna change illaya? Naan enna inga bank-ah vechikinna unkaandhirken?” (Bad translation 2: That man over there, did you buy the ticket yet? Where are you going? Don’t you have change? Do you think I’m sitting here running a bank?) He motioned his hands and squiggled his eyebrows weirdly at me. What was he doing? So the lady standing next to me said: “he is asking you where you’re going and to get the ticket.”

Oh. Sign language for conductors.

I said Tambaram West and passed on my 50 rupee note. It came back with a 27 rupee ticket and a 20 rupee note for the balance. 3 rupees gone.

The lady standing next to me, with a yellow cloth bag who unquestionably forgot her Boro Plus that day said, “ipdi dhan indha **** sambaadhikudhunga, bus vechirkadhu idhu, change konduvara vendiyadhu dhane. Namma uyira vaanga vendiyadhu.” (Bad translation 3: This is how these **** earn money by taking our balances. They are the ones running the bus, they should know to bring enough change. Taking our lives instead.) Meanwhile, her sans-Boro Plus existence was taking my life. I turned the other way and asked a middle-aged man how many stops until Tambaram, he replied with a scoff (clearly indicating that I have to suffer this heat while standing and that too next to that lady) that the ETA was at least an hour.

Some buses in Coimbatore used to play songs that you could you listen to as the sweet, cold breeze swept across the face. But nothing in these MTCs. Just external forces making an instrumental piece of its own with the horns, the metro rail whizzing above, an occasional drone of the airplanes and the conductor chirping in for a loud rap now and then. In a way, that is better I guess. Just imagine Kalayana Vayasu playing and the conductor yelling for tickets in the background

“Nekku ippo kalayana vayasu dhan vandhuduthu di-

-Ada thallu ma, vandhu maadu maadri

Meet pannava, illa wait pannava-

-Change illa. Guindy, Gunidy. Erangu

Ava Munnala Nikiran / Ava Kannala Sokkuran
Naan Thannala Sikkuren / Pinnala Suthuren
Unnala Savuren” (basically me in the Chennai heat but whatever)

You get what I am trying to put out here no?

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

2000 years later, one punyavaan told me he’d be getting down in a couple of stops but I can shift into his seat since he’d be getting up then. After a deep sigh from standing too much, I sat and wiped off the grease from holding to the support poles too hard and too long then I took out my bottle to have a sip of water. Who knew that’d be the last time I’d see my water bottle? A new boarder asked me if they could have a sip too and someone else behind them and someone else behind them and someone else… And in two minutes as we reached Meenambakam, I lost sight of my bottle. I told the conductor who came strutting after his respite that I’d misplaced my bottle in this bus.

He said “enna oorukku pudhusa?” and left. (Bad translation 4: New to this place?)  —— (1)

Writing a letter to whomever the current CM of Tamil Nadu is, to implement a “Principles of Logic” class. Where is the logic in (1)? Why does what I ask and what they answer not correlate? Is it just me who cannot make out what they reply to me or is it them who cannot make out what I am saying to them? #WorldProblems.

After what seemed like a long ride through hell (weather-wise), I got down at Tambaram with a vow to never take an MTC again.

I called my aunt and said “I’ve reached Tambaram, what now?”

Aunt: Okay, now take 51T and 3 stops from there you’ll reach home.

Me: Please send uncle.

I’m not a fan of “1984”

“I’ve been writing a four-part article for Field Newspaper Syndicate at
the beginning of each year for several years now and in 1980, mindful of 
the approach of the year 1984, FNS asked me to write a thorough critique of
George Orwell’s novel 1984.
   I was reluctant. I remembered almost nothing of the book and said so –
but Denison Demac, the lovely young woman who is my contact at FNS, simply
sent me a copy of it and said, ‘Read it.’
   So I read it and found myself absolutely astonished at what I read. I
wondered how many people who talked about the novel so glibly had ever read
it; or if they had, whether they remembered it at all.
   I felt I would have to write the critique if only to set people straight.
(I’m sorry; I love setting people straight.)”

– Issac Asimov

You are on your way to Somewhere Street and you see a group of people looking up, without a thought you look up too. This is the herd instinct. Like Rolf Dobelli says “individuals feel they are behaving correctly when they act the same as other people. In other words, when more people follow a certain idea, the better (truer) we deem the idea to be.”

This classic dystopian allegory, i.e 1984 – a novelette of neoteric domination of helots that blew almost everyone’s mind manifesting prognostication of the Future did not appeal to me. I am sorry, I did not like 1984. It is a bad novel but rather a great essay – a description based on his perception of the totalitarian movement of the 1930s (maybe a take on Mao, Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler), their propaganda of control of the media, censorship, re-writing the past, secret informants, plain denial of facts to suit ideology and mass murder and all that lay in there.  There are numerable NY Times, the Guardian etcetera articles entailing a 1984 world in the 21st century. In the world of 1984, the technology was suppressed, maybe deliberately even. Apart from the telescreens and cameras mainly for the surveillance of the citizens, the technological doldrums is evident. The book is shelved under Sci-Fi but it’s more of a socio-political commentary which took on demagogues masquerading as national saviours, which is probably why Issac Asimov disapproved of the book.

Basically the book firstly shows how a Government (the Party) exploits the citizens through brutal, evil means of exerting power, stringent rules calling for total commitment/devotion to the Party and the Big Brother (their authoritarian symbol), second – the past is continuously redacted so as to look favourable to the Party which leaves no concrete “past” as such. Thirdly the truth is distorted, altogether leaving zilch veritable data on people’s lifestyle, the government regimes and so on for the people of 1984 to compare their machinelike, time-tabled robotic lives to something else.

And then the language – they alter that too. The language of the 1984 dystopian world is Newsspeak where the words English language are clipped and glued as per the Big Brother’s wishes to favour the Party and limn the language so as to support their maxims like doublethink, thought-crime to mention two. The world (which is sufficiently divided into three parts) – Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia are constantly in war with each other. The people of Oceania – where there is the authoritarian, despotic rule have a decree which states that if you act or even think against the vices of the Party, you will be taken to the Ministry of Love (contradictory to its verbatim) where they are imprisoned and made to undergo brutish punishments, starvation and mental torture until they are made to believe the principles of the Party and truly revere and love the Big Brother wherein then they are “set free”.

(Okay, George. If you say so.)

Now coming to this dunce of a heroine – Julia, who’s hands down the dumbest love interest in a book I’ve come across after Bella from Twilight (duh). She’s supposedly very attractive, captivating and hot as hell. Well, maybe that explains why she’s dumb. (Just a hypothesis, no need to get all worked up.) Anyways she is very active in clubs like Junior Anti Sex League, pure in propagandizing slogans, games, community hikes and processions of the Party in the hope that she doesn’t get killed off being a thought-criminal (a Newsspeak word for thinking against the Party) because deep inside her heart she wants to be free – wild and running in a meadow chasing butterflies than wearing a blue overall every single day of her life and write plots of fiction that promotes the Party. That’s all. She couldn’t care less about the tyrannical regime or anything along the lines of politics, that she falls asleep immediately in absolutely whatever position she is in when Winston tries to educate her about the government, politics, Big Brother, how they should revolt against the Party when they know they’ll eventually be thrown in Ministry of Love before they even spell the word ‘revolution’. So they just connivingly sleep together now and then in the first floor of a house owned by a poor prole (Newsspeak for proletariat) and talk about the civilized barbaric regime with the “politics” of it averted of course, because – Julia would fall asleep.

(yes, you can stand in the corner and roll your eyes.)

Spoiler alert / fun fact: The Julia character was purportedly based on a childhood friend (Jacintha Buddicom) of George Orwell (the author) whom he fell in love with eventually but Jacintha vehemently disapproved of him and stopped any contact with him altogether in the future. Why? Because an adolescent Orwell forced himself upon her one holiday and made her a victim of sexual abuse. And illogically, Orwell starts hating her which drives him to create Julia whom Winston denounces when they are locked up in the Ministry of Love and subjects her to ruthless punishments. Quelle surprise.

I don’t want to spoil of the little that’s left for you and review the shit out of this book beyond repair: but 1984 has a very predictable, lousy ending. I’m sorry if this is one of your favorite books and if you cried at “under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me.” or shivered at “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength” and if you are a firm believer of the “21st century heading to 1984” theory. Nonetheless (despite rock-bottom probability, at least according to me) if the theory turns out favouring of that cognitive content then we’re royally done for, aren’t we?

 

The Good Luck of Right Now!

The Good Luck of Right NowThe Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautiful book!
This epistolatory novel, another witty one from the author of Silver Linings Playbook charms you with its raw emotions, disarrays of people dealing with mental issues, their lives and so on. The protagonist, Bartholomew Neil (fatherless, introvert, jobless and aged over forty), recently loses his mother to brain cancer, finds coping with life harder than usual. His mom, during her last days, binge-watches Pretty Woman and ends up dedicating her every fibre of last days to Richard Gere, she keeps up with his happenings, follows him up and eventually ends up calling Bartholomew -Richard.

Owing to this, as a respite, Bartholomew starts writing letters to Richard Gere elaborating his daily life as it happens. The story spans further into an amusing tale when his priest Father McNamee (recently defrocked from his priesthood) moves into his apartment as Wendy, his grief counselor lies her way into getting Bartholomew indulge in group-therapy session where he befriends Max, a man equally aged as Bartholomew, who takes counseling grieving over his dead cat Alice and on an average Max’s four-worded sentence would contain two expletives. Previously, though inadvertently Bartholomew falls in love with a girl he sees regularly at the library whom, he later comes to know as Max’s sister.

The Good Luck of Right Now proceeds further as letters to Richard Gere on the adventures sometimes cheerless, embarked by the four; Bartholomew, Father McNamee, Max and Elizabeth (library girl/ the Girlibrarian). And in this book of Jung, Buddhism, synchronicity and Richard Gere, the author Matthew Quick tries to slip in philosophy, the harmonious working of our world the-yin-and-yang, and so much more.

Bottomline: Wouldn’t read it again but it was worth the time I spent reading it the first time.

Favorite quote from the book: “The universe hiccups, and we poor fools try to figure out why.”

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the Girl at the Lion d’Or

The Girl at the Lion d'OrThe Girl at the Lion d’Or by Sebastian Faulks

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The first Faulks’ book that I read was Engleby, it took my breath away. Many critiqued it quite negatively but I loved it for personal reasons.

The Girl at the Lion D’or, set in 1930s France narrates the story of young Anne and her rendezvous with love and adultery. The story is poignant, very picturesque (of course, French countryside in all its glory) and kind of fast-paced, but I’m not complaining. There are few, all very relatable characters and the storyline also has other things in its mind apart from romance like the repercussions of the World War and little tales from Anne and flashbacks from Charles Hartmann (the male-lead).

It starts with Anne moving from Paris to Janvilliers, with the prospect of a job at the Lion d’Or where she befriends Mattlin, the adequate villain of this novel who’s friend is Charles Hartmann, Anne falls in love with. The gimmick being; Hartmann is married. The story revolves around the dark past of Anne, Hartmann’s doomed marriage, the assorted lives of those working in Lion d’Or and so on.

Faulks, despite bringing his characters to life and leading the plot gracefully, misses something that wouldn’t make me reread it.

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A commentary on psyche and suffering

“Why, at such a time as this, I ought to snap my fingers at aestheticism and all the rest of it; and yet, I am all at once as particular as a dog looking for a corner?”

After a series of relentless obstacles from a severe fit of cold ripening to a fever, to vacationing in hill-stations and conning the science of “making perfectly round dosas and chappatis” so I don’t bring ignominy to my family as I step into another (insert face-palm gif raised to infinity) I ended up finishing Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment with a pang of bittersweetness; bitter for it is always devastating to end a splendid book and sweet (kind of) for an edifying ending.

To write that this book is good or even excellent would be an understatement. Crime and Punishment is glorious. It is not your Mills&Boons for a light read on a park bench, for a short flight and it’s definitely not worth for skimming and flitting. You have got to soak it all in- well, you will- because Dostoyevsky’s narration of the mental constitution just has so much to offer, the composition is impeccable-looking like something that was conjured by a spell- it makes you think how we live our lives, what makes us human, perceptions of despotism, poverty, the mind of all, nihilism and a civilization to mention a few.

The fascinating thing about this is that Dostoyevsky traverses his whole psychoanalysis in a book, as the scrutiny of a man who commits a murder and how he is, in turn, punished for it. Despite a lot of characters all sounding similar with a syllable or two for distinction- Dmitri Prokofych Razumikhin, Porfiry Petrovich, Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin- Dostoyevsky takes the reader deep into the character’s mind, like it is similar to a commentary on the psyche of the mind and suffering and why we suffer like we do.

“Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart.”

 

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Brownie points if you got this.

Even though Crime and Punishment is a minefield of remarkable quotes, I chose this below and the one at the beginning:

“When choosing between the river and confession, why had he preferred the latter? Was the desire to live so difficult to conquer?”

 

 

History Happened While You Were Hungover

A lizard from the far-future at one point observes, “all time was one instant, all space one point.”

Apart from scrambling for the dictionary more than often, this book has got me hooked! You might wonder how I like nearly every other book that I read; the thing is I really find it ill of me to not like books/certain plots for various reasons. There are some books though that I’ve had a hard time getting through, halted halfway which I don’t write about. So if I write about a book, it means I really like it and it has etched an impact on me some way or the other or I plainly enjoy reading a novel for the pure pleasure of it.

Now, enough of that explanatory overture (yep, yours truly has been listening to a lot of classical music lately). So I’m reading a book right now, by Ned Beauman – The Teleportation Accident and whilst I was on page 69 (as the odds would have it), a fanged unorthodox idea sunk its teeth into my brain; why not review the book as I read it and post it all together … chronologically?!

And that’s what I did and I apologize for that in advance.

May 2, 2018

Dear diary

My day was bad. The chapatti I had for dinner did something to my tummy and it looks like I may have to lease the lavatory on a one-day contract.

Where were we? Oh, yes; The Teleportation Accident. The plot of this book still seems unclear even though I’m on page 69! Beauman has spilt his tea all over the place. I am quite not able to pin down a genre on this book. It’s not an erotica for sure but there are more than required compositions of carnal festivities for 69 pages, it is set in 1931 and dwells deeply about Berlin but that doesn’t make this historical fiction does it, the satire is prolific but I wouldn’t go as far as shelving this under Humor and it definitely is not noir – all the lights are on.

Maybe I should get past 69. So you might wonder what got me “hooked” when the mere genre-ascertaining has been disarray for me; the vignettes, kids the vivid vignettes. Allow me the pleasure of showcasing some for you –

On being inebriated Beauman writes: It transformed him into an emotional equivalent of one of those strange Peruvian frogs with transparent skin exposing their jumpy little hearts.

On Adele Hitler’s (whom we’re yet to confirm if she is related to the Hitler) eyes: Most tender eyes that Loeser had ever seen but also the most astonishingly baroque, with each iris showing a spray of gold around the pupil like the corona around the eclipse with a dappled band of blue and green, within an outline of grey as distinct as a pencil mark and then beyond that an expanse of moist white that did not betray even the faintest red vein but sheltered at its inner corner a perfect tear duct like a tiny pink sapphire.

Update: She is not related to the Hitler.

On escalators: Never in your life will you have seen so many apparently healthy adults queuing up for the privilege of standing still.

On how the rich laugh: Nearby he heard one of those startling explosions of communal laughter that are distributed at random intervals through parties like moisture pockets in a fireplace log.

These are just a few. Now you see why I want to keep going despite the dubiety.

May 3, 2018

To put it concisely, the plot has moved from the Weimar Republic to Paris and the protagonist has switched from the German named Egon Loeser to Herbert Wolf Scramsfield, an American in Paris. I’m on the 92nd page and the plot… well, it escalated quickly. We’re in Paris, in 1934 now.

But back to the start for a bit.

In 1931, Loeser, who works at a theatre, sets a stage for a play on Lavicini (a carpenter, a set designer himself and Loeser’s apotheosis, paragon… call it what you want, he adored that guy and has done a lot of research on him). As a tribute to Lavicini, Loeser and his three other friends plan to bring out a play in a tiny Berlin theatre. That play is based on an incident wherein 1679, Lavicini builds a machine called Extraordinary Mechanism for the Almost Instantaneous Transport of Persons from Place to Place, in simple terms: a Teleportation Device. This device on its attempt at Theatre des Encornets in Paris collapses, killing 25 members of the audience and the set designer Adriano Lavicini, the machine is immediately condemned and also believed that it was possessed by some devil and thought to have had infernal features. It has so much history, darting through time carelessly but Beauman has a way through his words that makes this rapid time-travel from past to present, present to past, future to past through the present and the Section – C Grammar of the 4th standard English paper fair to middling.

But on the contrary, I think Beauman riffled through a dictionary, held a random page, closed his eyes, placed his index finger on some word and just spliced the word to the sentence he was writing. Or his vocabulary is just exemplary. The surreal plot swivels here and there aimlessly, there are so many open-ended patches but I’d read the book just for the motley of idiosyncratic, incredibly graphic phrases. The book is just so quotable that my book is almost indecipherable with all that pencil markings! And the cover is even better.

May 7, 2018

Dang it! I’m done with 76% of the book. SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED. No more in Paris either. It’s Los Angeles, baby!

(Weimar Republic (Germany) > Paris, France > LA, USA)

Gosh. There are too many characters to keep up with and then there’s the physics of time and space, all the science behind time traveling, the technical know-how of the Teleportation Device, mechanics and the engineering of set-building, infidelity of the bourgeois’ relationships, literary realism, past, present and future happening all at once. And our anti-hero protagonist is beyond knee deep in being in love with Adele Hister (now Hister from Hitler, to avoid people from misinterpreting that she’s somehow related to Hitler) and devoted rerererere-reading Midnight At The Nursing Academy, that he misses out on important, slightly-of-consequence Nazis dictatorship, the Holocaust and basically the World Wars – politics and world affairs in general mainly because he’s hungover most of the time and partly due to him shunning Politics away.

ARGH. HOW DO I EVEN BOIL THIS BOOK DOWN TO A REVIEW?

Note:  Given the kind of a lazy person with way too many aiyo-amma suspirations I am, I have duly neglected my promise of chronologically reviewing this book.

May 13, 2018

Not sure if I am done with the book or if the book did me.

The ending was worth sticking to a plot that went bonkers the word it made sense it to me. It was all worth it. It was all worth it. It was all worth it.

Zeitgeisterbahnhofe (four endings)

The book comes down to four equally mind-bending endings. I am still blown away by the raw brilliance of how neither of the four endings came together like how I thought this book would gird up to the finale.

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shook

*Conditions Apply

That sale was one of a kind. It was plastered all over the front page of the Hindu for over a week which made it hard to not take note of it.

Sell what you don’t want, and we’ll pay you the current-MRP of that! Big Bazaar’s Big Sale!

I don’t know what kind of a “sale” that was; none has seen one like that.

People couldn’t believe their eyes. All that the Race Course walkers, the herbal soup/kadalai sellers, the daily visitors of Sharadambal kovil, all that anyone in the vicinity of Race Course could talk about were the Big Sale. Personally, it didn’t have much effect on me, my mom or my dad, we never spoke of it. The fever did not get to us. Yet.

The main reason Big Bazaar executed this brainwave of an idea was that they were opening a new branch of their outlet in Race Course and this was their best way promoting it, at least it seemed like it. The sale was on a Sunday. And Sundays are when I wake after ten a.m. have brunch, catch a KTV movie at noon and then a mudhal-muraiyaaga-super hit-thirai kaatchi on Sun TV at 6pm while having some idlis or dosas for dinner and hit the sack dreading Monday and its blues.

But that Sunday, I woke up to all sorts of cacophony and clamour, the clock on the wall facing my bed said 7:30 a.m. What on earth is everyone doing at such an hour, that too on a Sunday?

“Wake up, wake up, wake up Janani.”

Amma kept talking as an attempt to rouse me as she sifted through my cupboards and then the shelves and I was still on my bed groaning and yawning and trying to make small talk but my un-brushed mouth reeked that even my dad in the next room said “first brush your teeth then you can grace us with your wisdom.”

“Do you want these books anymore? This Famous Five, Nancy Drew indha picture books la.”, amma asked holding up a copy and dusting it simultaneously.

“Don’t even touch them amma. You know that I don’t give away my books, why are you even asking.” I replied, by then I was hanging awkwardly from the sides of the bed and looking at my mom upside down. It took me an eternity to get out of the bed, as always despite my mom’s ceaseless efforts of switching the fan off, pulling my blankets off, opening up the curtains and pulling me by my arms.

Nothing got me out of bed but this did; “Inga paaru I am going to tell just once more, to get up and get ready or else…” said my mom. I have been in this situation so many times in my life up to now but I still have no idea what comes after “or else…” I know better than to ask what comes after it.

***

“Okay, so now I’m ready. Where are you going?”

“What did you just ask?”

It was a second later that I realized that I blurted out the question that you are not even supposed to blurt out. It is considered a bad omen to ask a person where he is going, for those who don’t know. We take superstitions seriously, very seriously. So I modified the question a bit and asked, “From where will we be coming back?” soon enough to not get amma hot about it.

“Big Bazaar.”

“What why? I thought we weren’t going to that thing.”

“We are now. Go take those stuff,” she said pointing to a huge pile of old cups and plates “and put them in those cartons and bring the gunny bags from the garage.” I saw dad and my brother taping up stacks of newspapers worth of at least six months’ quantity. “Akka, I dumped some of your old stuff in that box over there. Paathu sollu.” said my brother. It was fine I guess. I didn’t even bother to look. I was still groggy in my head and brain wasn’t completely ON. I needed coffee.

“Jananiiiii, where are those gunny bags???”

I took them to amma and asked “why are you giving away so much stuff? I like that blow-up chair. It’s there in the box,” I said pointing to a box.

“You will say this now and two days later, andha chair engeyo irukum nee engeyo irupa. It’s better we sell it now while this exchange sale thing is still there. It is only for today theriyuma? We better make use of it. Every in this neighbourhood is going to it. Why should we alone not go?”

Ohhhhhhhh. Okay, so this is why we are going.

“Keeping up with Zeitgeist, eh!”

In a matter of few minutes the car flooded with scarcely taped cartons and jute bags and gunny sacks. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if passersby mistook us for a family that was shifting places. In a while, we reached BB. To this day, I’ve never seen Big Bazaar as crowded as that day. The whole population of Race Course was there, with their scraps of every kind you could think of; clothes, electronics, barely broken decors, furniture etcetera, etcetera. People brought old dabba TVs and refrigerators on autos and all. So much for Race Course being posh and rich. And man, how much trash did people even have!!

Moreover, everyone who wanted swap this garbage for money had to buy a form, fill out the details and there was a kilometre wide queue for that. While dad looked into that, we unloaded the stuff from dicky, from under our seats, from on our laps and had a cup of tea and samosa each as we watched our neighbours unload even more than ours from their car. The place had never been livelier. People were about to get rid of all the junk and get money in return!!!! Yaaaay! Uncles and Aunties have never been happier.

do you think they’d exchange gold and all? I’ve been wanting to exchange this ring for a while…Big Bazaar la gold iruka enna?”

 “paaah, finally giving away these thousand Vikatans for some good rate. That paper-kaaran said he’ll not accept more than 5 rupees per copy, Big Bazaar will get for at least 15 rupees, I know. Enna oru deal!”

 “Big Bazaar na Big Bazaar dhaan ya!”

 “With the return money, apdiye we can buy provisions here itself and go. Semma idea no?” said one uncle and his aunty rolled her eyes beneath the soda-buddi and replied “first exchange this and come, then we’ll see about that. Kumaran Thangamaligai la some offer, I want to buy one ring, maybe we can buy that. That Kamala bought one last week. Hmph.”

***

It was more than an hour, the new BB food court was bustling as it was time for breakfast. Even though most of them who’d come to BB for this offer, lived in the proximity of less than a kilometre, they ate here despite the extravagant pricing. One vadai for 55 bucks.

Yov.

Convert 55 rupees to dollars and buy a vadai in New York, it wouldn’t cost as much as BB. But no one wanted to lose their spot in the queue, so it was a good day for BB food court.

Few minutes into “exchanging”, there was a commotion. An Iyer uncle was furious and raging. After all, he was the first one line. Apparently, he’d come in at 6am to exchange his BPL black and white television set and his wire-knit 60s lounge chair with a gunny sack of not such prominent items. Iyer uncle was given a pink sheet of low-quality paper and a bunch of light-blue sheets. He read it and threw up his hands in frustration, walked towards the counter and called “I want to see the manager!” A person wearing a black BB t-shirt and a BB cap led that uncle to the side of the building and pointed something to him.

“Janani, go see what is there and come.”

I guess the curiosity was mutual, apart from all holding places in the queue, the crowded headed towards that side of the building where hung a huge billboard with the terms and conditions in Time New Roman size 48.

 

*IN EXCHANGE FOR YOUR VALUED GOODS, YOU WILL BE PROVIDED WITH COUPONS THAT CAN BE EXCHANGED FOR YOUR PURCHASE EVERYTIME YOU BUY FOR MORE THAN 1000/- ONLY AT BIG BAZAAR!

 $$ ONCE IN A LIFETIME DEAL $$

 

*offer valid for a year

 Wait. WHAT?

Being the dumb, 14-year old I was. I ran down to my parents and said, “I think you have to buy something for 1000/- today and only then they’d take our stuff. And apparently, they’ll give us coupons also aama.” My dad looked ridiculed like what is this girl even saying. He made me stand in the line with amma and went to check it for himself. On returning, he said “which part of that billboard text didn’t you understand, Janani?” and my parents looked at me like they wanted a refund for all the money spent on my education.

Amma: So what is even written over there?

Dad: They’ll give us coupons now it seems for all our stuff. Then with those coupons, we can buy things from BB only when we’ve already bought for 1000 rupees.

Amma: I knew something was fishy. How will they give money for a broken TV, button-less radio, torn t-shirts and all! We should’ve known. What shall we do now?

Dad: What else. Exchange for coupons only. I can’t unpack all this back at home once again.

Basically, every other family that ransacked their garbage and loaded stuff that had even the slightest crack came to the same conclusion. The 55 rupees vadai didn’t leave us with enough energy to even tolerate the then baking sun let alone reset-up the trash once again. Most people stayed back, with their what-do-with-the-exchange-money-plans turned to tacky light-blue coupons of different denominations. Eventually, our turn came, dad was quetching his strong disapproval to the employees who could do nothing but say you can always use the coupons, sir. Furthermore, we had already posted the terms and conditions, sir.

Like hell you did. Where? At a dark alley towards the side of your building. You should’ve published this on the Hindu front-page, we’d have at least got a good Sunday morning sleep.

My brother, amma and I were done shifting the junk which they weighed duly and gave us a quite hefty sheaf of coupons for 20,000 rupees.

Thank you for participating in this bonanza exchange offer, sir. Can you give us your mobile number so we can send you SMS’ on upcoming offers in the future? The employee said.

And I don’t think my family and I have ever glared at anyone that furiously and the car ride back home was expectedly silent. We stepped in after a weird morning to a spic-and-span dwelling. “Well, at the house is clean and ridden of the piled rubbish.” said amma. “At the cost of 20,000 bucks”, replied dad.

***

Among the junk-pile that BB confiscated was my phone. It came free with BSNL broadband connection.  It was a beaten-up one with silver buttons that clicked and clacked so bloody loudly. I could’ve recorded a tune out of it every time I typed a sentence but it had its own cons. Past sleep time, if I texted or typed out something on the phone, my mom in the next room would know.

“Keep the phone down and sleep, Janani.”

And there went my first phone for a 100 rupees blue coupon that we eventually substituted for the original Monopoly currency that we misplaced.

 

#VirtueMoir

I’ve tried to keep the gifs non-NSFW 😛

It’s been exactly a month since I fell down the #VirtueMoir rabbit hole and I’ve never been happier. It all started with PyeongChang Winter Olympics’ ice dancing performance by Maia and Alex Shibs, it was Recommended by YouTube to me. To my complete surprise, given that, that was the first time I saw an ice dance program, the music was Coldplay’s Paradise and it was love at first sight! I never knew that ice dancers danced to popular songs. Hell! I didn’t know there was an event called ice dancing. Wasn’t ice dancing and ice skating the same? I was wrong. Ice dancing is so much much much more beautiful than skating.

After an hour of watching the Shib Sibs, I realized that I’d watched over fifteen videos of the Shibs interviews, off-rink games, their vlogs and saved a few HD wallpapers of them doing dance routines. I was goddamn hooked to it. When I was done with almost 50% of their total videos on YouTube, I was notified that the upload-er had uploaded two more ice dancing Olympic performances. One was from France and the other by Canada. France had more views so I clicked on that and again, I was mind-blown. No kidding. Theymanoeuvredd on ice like swans, so graceful and peaceful. Oh, and the music was Beethoven’s Moonlight.

*hyperventilates internally at the thought of that video*

And now Canada. This happens to be the best thing that YouTube has ever notified me and the same time it also happens to be the absolute, exquisite slow ice dancing death of me. I have reached that point where I’ve tried to flip and shrivel like Virtue-Moir at the Roxaaaaaaaane bit and spiralled down into a fall and almost twisted my leg. Watch the video, get addicted to it, give me company and try to twist your leg too!

TESSA VIRTUE AND SCOTT MOIR, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?

Four million people, FOUR MILLION PEOPLE live-streamed this performance, making this the most streamed Olympic event only after their own Canadian ice hockey team, it makes so much sense because Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir is what Ed Sheeran sang about in Perfect, they are what He Is We ft. Owl City’s All About Us lyrics mean, Virtue-Moir performance to Moulin Rouge is the answer to life and it’s meaning. It’s not 42. You were wrong, Douglas Adams. You were wrong.

This performance bewitched me, like it did to the rest of the world and Ellen DeGeneres. I have lost count of the number of times I watched this. The last time I shipped two people this hard was Trisha and Vijay in Ghilli when I was eleven. Anyways, I was convinced that Virtue and Moir were married or were dating, at least. They harmonized like Switzerland and beauty. I’m sorry for that shitty example. How about … they went together like yin and yang. There, that’s better.

But NO. Yin and Yang are not dating, guys. So … they’re married? Haha, I thought so too. But again, NO.

Apparently, they are platonic business partners and best friends.

Now look at the platonic business partners and best friends below and tell me what you see.

tenor
*now kiss*

Figure Skating - PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, Gangneung, Korea - 20 Feb 2018
Virtue-Moir, congrats on the gold though.

I literally reacted like this, like the rest of the world, probably like you right now.

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But then I had to invalidate my instincts and guts that they were not actually together. So I dissected their interviews, TED talk, their off-rink game shows, Twitter thread of gifs showing the totally “business-platonic-partners” just doing their own thaaaang.

Listen, they finish off each other’s sentence, they keeping looking into each other’s eyes, Scott says Tessa’s hair smells like strawberry and her eyes are gorgeous green, Tessa knows the hangry and jealous-Scott faces, they met when they were 7 and 9 each and have been best of friends since. Together for 21 years now and you are playing “platonic blah blah blah” card, Virtue-Moir? Nuh-uh. Nope. And there’s so much much much more!

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*ahem ahem*

*rolls my eyes until the eyeballs fall off the sockets*

They even have a TV show on them called Tessa and Scott! Ugh, come on. Stopping playing games with my heart and potentially my future because I honestly spend a wholesome 3-4 hours on #VirtueMoir every single day.

Just look at these, guys.

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ummmmmm erm guys, tone down the PDA pls?

tessa-scott-gifs-tessa-virtue-and-scott-moir-22675468-500-281
stare-down contest while dancing on ice. #nice

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oh scott

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Get married. It feels like your parents actually saw “joshiyam” and put you together when you were young. So much “porutham”.

Now tell me my instincts were wrong.