Serial

The past few days I haven’t been doing much because of Serial – the crime thriller podcast that has taken over my life. I love radio dramas. Audiobooks, I hate but radio dramas are my thing. I noticed the Internet obsessing over it but I brushed it off as some new-age, hipster-ish vortex that I did want to be sucked in to. But a few weeks in and I couldn’t contain my curiosity any longer. And, OHMYGOD its the best decision I’ve made all year.

Serial follows the real life murder of Hae Min Lee, a high school girl. Adnan Syed, her ex boyfriend was convicted for her murder. Sarah Koeing (the narrator) explores the possibility that maybe Adnan is innocent, maybe someone else killed Hae or maybe Adnan is just an A-class sociopath.

I love Sarah Koenig. Her voice, the way she narrates the story, the question she asks without coming across as harsh is just.. everything. I managed to listen to all the episodes (there are nine so far) in 48 hours. It helped that I was working on something that required 10% of my concentration and I was free to donate the rest of my energy to Serial.

I was obsessed with the story. I perused Twitter looking at reviews, trolled websites that listed the possible theories and then.. it hit me. This was someone’s real life I found interesting. Hae’s family live this reality every day, Adnan is strongly pursuing his innocence and I.. was on Twitter reading theories and memes, scanning articles that displayed web-like pictorials trying to find the missing link (but lets just agree that “Mail.. Krimp?”, is probably the best thing that’s been said on the internet).

 Sometimes these stories are cloaked in so much sensationalism that we forget they are real life. Sarah Koenig delves deep in to the narration and she repeats off and on that she isn’t a detective. So maybe its okay for us to have our opinions about the “characters” but its equally important that we remember they are real people and not take the show out of context.

That being said, I am so psyched for December 6th. Like, I’m literally crossing the dates off on my calendar.

Cappuccino Tales

A few days back I was running late in the morning and decided to forego my customary cup of tea. BIG MISTAKE. I suffered a killer headache the entire day. I couldn’t wait to get to my bed and lay there forever.

This headache got me craving the smooth cappuccinos I used to drink on the daily when we visited Rome. We stayed in a tiny, charming hotel near Piazza Navona. The area was surrounded by Italian coffee shops, situated away from the touristy areas. There was this one small shop that was part grocery/part cafe where the barista made the most perfect cups of cappuccino for 1.25 euros. Most places in Europe charge extra for a “sit-down” cup of coffee. But if you stand at the bar, its considerably lesser. Every morning we’d walk down to this cafe to get our shot for the morning and bask in that caffeine glory.

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This coffee was on my mind throughout the week. I HAD to get a similar cup in to my system. So I dragged Jay to Chromatic Coffee in . And I finally had my luscious cappuccino, Although it wasn’t close to the Italian counterpart,  it did the job it was meant for.

I create my own, personal brand of excitement

Late last year when I visited Madras I was unable to stuff everything I wanted to in my suitcase. Hello, baggage restrictions, I hate you. Added to this, my tailor stitched my clothes in time so I left with a promise from my mother that she would send the remaining items through courier? Post? I don’t know whats the difference, but through one of them.

A few weeks later she messaged me saying she had sent the package. I was to expect it in three days – Monday, and I was super thrilled. Monday, Tuesday… Thursday and my package still had not arrived. I panicked (of course) and tracked my package online only to see that tracking showed that someone named ‘Fred’ had received and signed for it!

Immediately, my mind (I have an over active imagination) went wild. I had visions of Fred- a thirty something, portly, brown haired American wearing my precious salwars prancing around his home, amused at how “exotic” he looked. I was palpitating while I called customer service. A nice lady calmed me down and helped me through the process, promising me that they would “investigate” and retrieve my package. I just prayed that Fred would return my clothes without any arm pit stains on them.

A week went by and I got a message saying there was an issue with the address but I should expect my package soon. Again, I decided to track it online and saw that ‘Vega’ had received and signed for it! Vega that Russian lady with the bad dye job! She had her scrawny fingers around my clothes. I had to call customer service again and tell them that no, I’m not Vega; no, I don’t know anyone called Vega and yes, I’m sure she isn’t my neighbor. Are you 100% sure? I live in an apartment complex where humans barely acknowledge the presence of each other. I’ve seen my neighbor walk the dog a few times and I still don’t know whether she/he is a man or a woman (the neighbor, not the dog), so yes, I am sure they didn’t take my package.

So, after further “investigation” I got my package, three weeks after it was sent.

No, Fred din’t leave any pit stains. He must have used clinical strength deodorant.

Stories

My workload for this semester is pretty hectic. A few months back all I used to do was watch terrible TV shows. But now, I do not have time for such things (sob). One of the projects we are doing requires us to interview patients with a terminal or chronic disease. So yesterday at 9 AM I found myself chatting with a fifty year old man – M who has been HIV+ for twenty one years.

We spoke about our project and about different support groups for people with HIV for a good hour. Slowly he started opening up and telling us his story. As he told us his story of how he found out about the infection, how seemingly dark his days seemed, how he came out of that depression, decided to take matters in his hands and help the HIV community, my life and my problems felt so pointless.

He talked a lot about forgiveness and letting go. All I could do was list the times I’ve been hurt and brood on it. He said the more you keep that hurt in your heart, the heavier your journey becomes. If you want to feel light, just say I forgive, wish the person the best and let go.

Next to M, my problems seemed so fickle. I am such a procrastinator. Every time I’m given a task I sit on it for a while before I get to it. I don’t know why I do that but I just do. M said he never leaves anything for the next day, because he never knows if he will get to live it. And then I realized the only difference between M and me is that although we are both going to die eventually, he knows that his time is, possibly, closer than mine. Shouldn’t I live the same way then? I am alive today but I don’t know what my tomorrow brings so why do I keep putting things away? This whole interview might have been for a school project but it made me look deeper in to my life.

I love listening to peoples stories. Because once I hear something as heartbreaking as this, I realize that my story is just a tiny speck in this universe. People go through so much, and most of the things I take for granted are of extreme importance in their lives. This helps me reevaluate mine and see things from a better perspective.

And maybe this passing of knowledge is one of the purposes of life.

Why I’ve been MIA..

It has been over a month since I signed in to WordPress. Things have been hectic and I’ve been traveliing quite a bit. When I did manage to find the time I watched a lot of Downton Abbey. And by a lot I mean A LOT. Also, I though it was Downtown Abbey. Jay was like wow Downtown Abbey like Downtown New York ah? And I was like yeah, thats how they roll. Turns out, that wasn’t how they roll.

I also read and watched Gone Girl. OHMYGOD what a mental story that was! But I loved it.

I took a short trip back to Madras and I got to witness Madras rains after two years. It was blissful. I love rain. It makes me feel so snuggly and so serene and so.. happy. There is nothing like a powercut due to heavy rains, and no food in the house – yeah, I’ve experienced that too. We are facing an extreme drought here in California. It has rained only about six, seven times in the two years I’ve been here.

Whilst in Madras I frequented Saravana Bhavan as much as I could. I have some sad news to report back my fellow Saravana Bhavan lovers, THEY HAVE REDUCED THE SIZE OF THE VADAI!!! Pre this horror when you order one plate vadai you will get : one nice big fluffy, crispy, oil drenched vadai+ chutney + sambar. Now, in the hellish present if you order one plate vadai you will get : four tiny lemon sized vadais + chutney + sambar. Safe to say, I was adequately baffled too. When I first saw the plate I was equal parts surprised and angry, (and a little scared thinking about the future). The waiter said, “Customers ellam complain pannurange madam, aanna management kekemaatikraange.

Over the past few years I have lived through many changes – getting married, moving away from home, living with a boy, seeing little cousins grow up, but this disaster revolving around the vadai is the most painful. I don’t know how I’m going to get through this. And what if I go back to Saravaan Bhavan after a year? I don’t even want to imagine the state of future vadais, its the stuff of nightmares.

So for now I leave you with this – the one decent item left in Saravana Bhavan : sambar vadai (which also has two tiny vadais).

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Why I Write

[The wonderful Deepa tagged me to do the ‘Why I Write’ blog hop. Me being me, had to procrastinate and let the idea fester in my mind before I could start. So here it is. I tag the Zinal Bhadra, Egeedee, Surya Bhattacharya and PeeVee.]

 

Why do I write?

I write to keep my sanity. Very often I find myself tethering along the edge between normal and crazy. And writing, helps me achieve that balance.

I write to make sense of the world, of the things in my head. Writing helps me see things in a new perspective.

I write because I learnt not to judge people by their face-value. Every person has a story.

I write because there are so many characters in my head. Every person I meet I try to fit them in my hypothetical novel that I have started and stopped numerous times in my head.

I write to lessen my burden.

I write because growing up I felt like I never had a voice.

I write to ease my anxiety.

I write to relive and preserve beautiful moments because that is what makes a person rich. Not wealth.

I write to feel less lonely.

I write because sometimes reality is too monotonous.

I write because I can’t help it. It is a fluid motion and I can’t stop it.

This blog isn’t my only outlet. I have a personal journal where I scribble away. Once I take a step back and look at what I’ve written, I see things in a whole new light.

Over the years writing had become my savior. As an angsty teenager I used to furiously writing in my Nightingale diary. I remember hiding it in places where nobody could find it. Writing has been the only constant in my life, when there were days where I felt I couldn’t talk with anybody I turned to my diary. I was that weirdo who started out with ‘Dear Diary..’ because my diary wasn’t a non living thing, she was my friend. My non judgmental, welcoming friend, who was always interested in what I had to say.

I write because writing is my solace, it is my comfort, my joy and my safe place.

 

Shakespeare & Company, Paris

Shakespeare & Company was one of the places in my bucket list that I’d been wanting to visit. While planning our itinerary for Paris I immediately charted out a decent block of time for this book store. On our second day after a visit to Notre Dame, which by the way is stunning, we walked across the bridge to Shakespeare & Co.

The bookstore was originally established in 1919 by Sylvia Beach and is now housed in a gorgeous 17th century building. The ground floor is packed with books from the floor to the ceiling. The musty smell of old books and the warmth makes the place feel like home. The upstairs area is basically a huge library with old, worn out chairs and beds where the hopeful writers and artists are welcome to live. This book store was at one point of time home to the greats – Hemingway and Fitzgerald. There are smatterings of writings on the walls and pictures of Orhan Pamuk, Truman Capote, etc pinned on to doors.

I cannot describe the bohemian nature, but I can show you in pictures :

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IMG_8444I wanted to purchase a book here as a souvenir. And what better book to choose than Madame Bovary, one of my all time favorites, written by Gustave Flaubert. A Parisian book in Paris, it was apt.

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I don’t need to say I love you in those exact words.

I don’t need to prove my loyalty.

No grand gestures or writings in the sky.

You are in me as I am in you, and nothing can separate us.

I don’t need to say I love you, but I want to.

I love you, with every fiber of my life, from the bottom of my heart, I love you.

Happy birthday, Madras. You beautiful thing, you.

Immigration Officer : “Sir, you aren’t supposed to enter here. Can I help you?”

Man with Jamaican accent : “Yes, I’m looking for my baby.”

Immigration Officer : “Your baby??”

Man : “Yes. My fiancé. She’s waiting in the line.”

 

Best conversation I’ve ever heard.