The BEST Valentines EVER!

This is going to be a bit different and A rated compared to my others posts. So brace yourselves  and if you’re in the mood for a story about my first trip overseas, read my guest blog over at 1001 Scribbles (where my friend Ana Silva posts some amazing travel stories and photos.) You might spot the inside of a UFO somewhere.

So it is Valentine’s Day today and we have to put up with posts that make us want to slit our wrists. This is normal. But with the turn of the century, we have new levels of craziness we have to deal with. And when I say crazy, I mean downright BIZARRE! And of all things weird, this TWIHARD nonsense just takes the cake. I mean, seriously, just take a look at the awkward places in which they put Robert Pattinson’s face and all the peculiar Twilight gifts you can buy your vampire crazy girlfriend or boyfriend.

1) Edward Cullen Tattoo

Nothing says “I love you” like a permanent tattoo – especially one that sparkles. Come on, you can’t get more thoughtful than this.

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2) Panties Galore

The best thing about the Valentine excuse is that you can give your better half a gift that you can enjoy – yoga pants and lingerie and … well, you know what I mean. And for your Twilight crazy beau, I present you Edward Cullen on your crotch – Patti-Panties!

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3) Come Alive at Night

If things get a bit frisky after your sexy panty walk, make sure to have these handy. Cover your stump before you hump, cloak the joker before you poke her – You get the drift.

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4) Literary Love

For those intellectual types who want their lover to read more, make sure to buy them one of those classically tragic love stories – The Wuthering Heights. Not because it’s a brilliant book, but because it’s Bella and Edward Cullen’s most favourite literary piece. And if that doesn’t please them, paint a giant Edward sized shadow on the wall for those nights when you feel like being watched over. Not creepy at all!

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KILL ME NOW!
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5) Take Matters Into Your Own Hands

For those who’re planning to spend Valentine’s alone, remember, you don’t have to. This piece of art has a deathly pale flesh tone that sparkles in the sunlight and retains cold temperature. The description said “Toss it in the fridge for that authentic experience”

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Yes, yes. You can all thank me later!

KIDDING! Meanwhile, while I was considering making a giant ‘I hate Valentines Day’ banner to hang up on our terrace, I came across these totally geeky cards that used lame puns and some clever computer references that you know I LOVE!

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Awww, YAY for Binary Love! 🙂
Yes, yes we do!
Yes, yes we do!

And then there were these words that you would NEVER say in person but with those cute cartoons, how can you resist?

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Right back atcha, Jack Skellington
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I’d take a hammer to you too, sweetie!
He loves me. He really, REALLY loves me!
He loves me. He really, REALLY loves me!

And for those spamming meme sites with Forever Alone posts, here’s a piece of advice from the Great Interwebs!

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And my most favourite one – I’m pretty sure my brother secretly wrote this!

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To all of you who’ve put up with my shenanigans (I wanted some excuse to use that word. Okay?), Happy V-Day.

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LOVE YOU GUYS! ❤

Don’t over-think it bro!

I had never been to a holiday for the sake of a holiday till I was 24. This shouldn’t be surprising considering I’m born to self-realised Social Activists/AidWorkers who can never really draw the line between work and anything else and it would be hypocritical of me to complain because in this field, work is life. And I’m pretty much the same. Still, any holiday we took as children would be combined with a work detour. When we went to the beach, we also made a side visit to the fishing villages that were struck by tornados or a giant tsunami. If we went away elsewhere, there would be villages with a flood situation, with food scarcity and with sheep I could kidnap.

For every essay we had to submit on Shakespeare and the Skeletal System, we had a summer of adventure to look forward to, so much so that the idea of just getting away to do nothing seems preposterous even after all these years. I went backpacking across Europe to end up volunteering in a small village in France. I went to Africa to see the place but ended up working for 7 straight months – even in places where I went to take a break. You know where this is going right? Classic movie sequence of epiphany that hits because of something a stranger observes that you hadn’t even realized before? Yeah, that.

That was my first holiday, and like all firsts, you remember it fondly. I went to Zanzibar thinking I’d spend one day looking around and the evening at the beach and the next day, volunteering at a Madarasa. I ended up staying a week and doing nothing but sipping gin cocktails, making friends with a cat that was older than the island and taking in sunrises and sunsets on the Indian Ocean. I had quite a bit of unlearning and letting go to do.

Stone Town – Zanzibar

Earlier this year when I realised I could go away again, I picked a place because my grandmother, who I’ve come to know only through the stories I’ve been told, was born there and came away to India by a treacherous ship journey that took months and months. I learnt that she used to be royalty in Malaysia and when they came to India, they lost everything. And she had her adventures- she was the first of her family to study in a British School when they opened up the schools to Indians (It was the same school my sister and I studied in) She fell in love and married an orphan boy and lived a life she never thought she could/would.

When I booked my tickets and got my visa, people asked me why I was going – I had a massive Sméagol fit.

2 weeks on a holiday doing nothing but exploring? Not going near a volunteer project or a social cause? Not on any freelance travel writing project? An empty itinerary/list of things to do? Just going with the flow? And then I was finally able to say it.

I’m going for me.

The other side of goodbye

Either I only truly get attached to people who stay or … well, what else can it be?  Like a web, I’ve built a solid foundation from which I jump from place to place knowing that even when I fall, I can drag myself back because of that strand that binds me to my architectural masterpiece.

This, this is home. A place that you carry with you when you go looking for adventure in strange lands, a place where you can make friendships with people you never would have otherwise interacted with. A place in your being that reminds you that you can go where you may because when you come back, things will always be the same. People will be here. Waiting.

I’m not always here – on this side of a goodbye. The last two times I was, it was a blur of pain and tears and some dark place I never wanted to visit again. There’s no Doctor to rescue you in his blue machine. There are no smiling faces of children in exotic lands that’ll carry you through it. Just you and the them size hole throbbing inside you since they left. That and the urge to set fire to the airport and the harbour and the front door – just so that there is no place left for anyone to say goodbye.

 

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You.

I miss having a boy to call my friend.

I blame you.

If you hadn’t captured my imagination like you promised you would, perhaps on lonely nights such as these, I would just curl up, read a book and fall asleep. But my hair itches for your fingers to run through them. My ears miss your mouth singing it messages of how everything would be okay. My eyes yearn for the twinkle that would light up in the corner of its dark recesses. My nose longs for the musky scent of you. My mouth misses the little gurgles that escaped it every so often when you tripped on purpose. My hands ache for what once it held close.

I blame you.

The Neon Diary

Its hard to pin down a memory when there is so much of nothing to do that you just don’t have time. You know what I mean? And sure, I did say I’d write a memory a day but sometimes I just stare at the moleskine diary and wish it would fill itself up. Or just … disappear. I even started getting panic attacks and the insomnia came on full force – what am I going to write? what am I going to say.

Performance anxiety. We meet again.

But then, because of that stress to make each day memorable, I’m starting to notice the little things. Like how my grandmother sometimes giggles in her sleep, how my dad listens to the carpenters at 5 in the morning and dances around the house in a bid to get to work (which is a room 5 feet from his bedroom by the way). And then there’s my mum with her “Close the curtains, the neighbours are watching” warning everytime dad tries to hug or kiss her and my dear brother making a brownie with cornflour and how out of breath my sister is when she calls at odd hours of the day (she lives in England) while walking to some place of importance.

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I’ve realized how my life is a series of check marks on a massive things to do list. Have you smiled at a stranger today? Have you done something totally eccentric and dangerous? Have you said something clever on facebook? Have you left everything just to start all over again somewhere else? It has been a series of challenges but things are not always as exciting or as fast paced. In between Europe and Africa, I have had my share of doing absolutely nothing but dragging myself around the house in my PJs.

And that’s when you know you’re avoiding the “What next” question – which I’m an expert at. It’s been 7 months. But then all these things catch up with you and suddenly I’m in the “lets review” section of my lesson plan.

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1) Africa changed me. I’m too afraid of losing my shit in the Social Sector to even put a whole-hearted effort into finding another job there. Its too emotionally draining and I’m still recovering or scarred or wounded badly. Either way, in India, the NGO work leaves you jaded.

2) Taking care of grammie sometimes has the same effect on me. I’m hoping that I can shift to the creative side – make something, write something, read something or teach something.  Just to get some balance, you know? Something that cuts me off emotionally but still thrills me like only creating something can.

3) I can’t imagine not working with children, even if only on a voluntary basis.

4) Early and special education has suddenly been grabbing my attention. That and mental health. Maybe it’s both take care of grammie and those infants at Africa that’s done this to me but the idea is blu tacked in my subconscious.

5) Sometimes I think I should give up everything and just be a kindergarten teacher who travels the world and writes in her free time- it’d be like those Disney movies – a very interesting turn of events but highly unlikely?

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Is it a sign that I’m growing up when I let go of my lists in that moment when my nephew comes up to me with a huge smile on his face and tells me how he’s the captain of his football team? We made noodle soup together and put on cartoon network and giggled ourselves silly when this came on and he said, “Anju, it’s a sign”

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Dear Neon,

I want a turtle. Now, please go away.

Love,
A.