Highway to Hell and Back

I always seem to have convenient excuses for not writing. So before I get on to it, let me list the great things that have happened to me over the past month.

1. I got a new phone – the elusive MI3.

An Indian company, Flipkart, bought up limited stock and then created around it some of sort of virtual Black Friday sort of scheme where the phones would only be on sale on Tuesdays, at 2pm and if you didn’t register and didn’t click ‘buy’ at the opportune moment, all the phones would be sold out in 2.5 seconds. A colleague of mine was one of the lucky guys who bought the phone. When we were all out for a team dinner, I jokingly said that the next time the sale was on, he should buy me one. Next thing I know, I’m the proud owner of the fanciest phone that has graced my inner circle. What do I do first? I get on Instagram (something I vowed I would never do!). But now I have a WordPress app as well so I can do small posts when they come to me. Too ambitious?

2.  I got a huge pay hike!

Explains why I could afford that phone in the first place! This also means I have to grow up and deal with the dreaded income tax department.

3. The boy is moving HERE!

He said I should allow him to experience my culture and my city the way I immersed myself in his. Don’t tell him I said this but something about that was so romantic, I couldn’t say no. Every other decision we make after this, we will do together and that is what truly excites me. Apart from the obvious societal annoyances of – “how can you live together pre marriage” and “oh he’s a white boy, let me charge him a billion rupees for something that costs 10”, of course!

Now on to the big news of how I got hit by a drunk driver on my way back from work. I ride a moped and this jackass took a U-turn on a huge road without any indication that he was about to turn. I saw him coming from the corner of my eye and so I swerved to avoid him therefore surviving and un-survivable accident. But my bike was completely totalled.

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I think what annoyed me most about it was that I had to pick myself up. Then the guy walks up to me, steals my keys and threatens to hit me. He didn’t expect that I knew the language and would lash out back at him. He threatened to take me to the cops (pointing in the opposite direction of where the station was). I told him my station was in the other direction and that we should go immediately. He changed the topic and said I was on the phone while riding. He smelt like cheap liquor.

There were a tonne of auto drivers on the road who snatched the keys back from him and told me to drive away as fast as I could. I didn’t want to leave but in that state, I did. The minute I got home, I told my parents and brother (who were at home for once). We wrote down our complaint, drove to the station, filed an FIR. It was the eve of our Independence Day and despite it being busy, the cops were really helpful.

Anyway, long story short they caught the car (the driver is absconding) and they have paid in part to fix my bike. I will spare you photos of my injury but everything is okay now and my bike runs smoothly and looks better than it has ever looked before.

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In other news, the Ganesha (Elephant God) festival has been going on in full swing. Loads of statues lighting up the whole place, happy people dancing – festival season in India is always such a treat. I went to a friends house and while standing on his 5th floor balcony, saw a Ganesha Statue rising in the dark as if to bless his devotees. It was a surreal experience.

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And if you haven’t made plans to visit Bangalore yet, here’s a good reason – it looks SO pretty in the rain!

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Hope you have all been well!

Reality Vs Writing Goals

I promise my absence isn’t due to my procrastination. Here is a list of excuses reasons why my writing has been benched.

1. My baby sister is pregnant (due in October). She came to visit us for a month in India during her 6th-7th month which, of course, was the harbinger of a tsunami of nightmares and worries. I wouldn’t even let her climb up to our first floor room because NO. Just, no!

2. I visited my boyfriend in England and also attended the wedding of his little brother. Weddings make me nervous. Especially big weddings with fancy cars and a bride and groom that look like they could be on the cover of a top fashion magazine. Fortunately, I survived without making too big a fool of myself and the alcohol stocks weren’t overly diminished. There was a side effect though – words ran away from me.

Ben and Mwila
Proof of the Magazine Cover Claim. Source? Stolen off their Facebook!

3. I had the most perfect holiday in the world. My phone didn’t work and I visited some of the most gorgeous places in the coast. For our anniversary, he rented a little cabin that was just so romantic, I started crying and he thought he had broken me. Aah good times!

Glamping
I learnt I don’t deal very well with romance!

4. Despite the fact that he lives with this view – I will take a moment to show you this view so you can feel my pain –

Millington
Damn you perfection! Damn to hell!

– the world has a rule that if you live in the 3rd world, it’s going to be near impossible to be with your boyfriend. I just don’t have the right passport. I imagined I would do a 2nd Masters degree in England but their asking rate £20,000 (not a typo).  That’s  £13, 000 for the course and  £7000 you have to show in your bank account so the government knows you can manage on your own. I applied for about a billion scholarships which all went to more worthwhile students of theatre or well, engineering!  So what is the actual price of living in England, you may ask? One year in England = 20 grand + a student loan at 15% interest per annum + a debt you have to pay for the rest of your working life. Bravo!

5. Gutted but not yet close enough to giving up (These silly youth people and their nonsense resilience!), we decided that we would try somewhere neutral. Maybe teach English in Asia somewhere. Thailand, China, Vietnam. The possibilities were endless. So we started making plans only to find that my passport can’t find me a teaching job because “Asians don’t want other Asians teaching their kids!”. Even if I did have the right qualifications and years of English teaching experience in India and Tanzania, a high school drop out who says should of instead of should’ve gets the job. It isn’t fair but that’s how the world works right now.

Not to fret dear folk, I’m not one to give up that easily (Pssst, anyone hiring a writer in Bangkok? I’m good. I promise!).  I noticed a trend in my writing – apparently all my life’s troubles happen around the time of monsoon – July – September and then I suddenly find my words again! I feel it starting to come back again. I have this amazing story about a haunted bar and time travel and sword play. I’m hoping the words will sniff out the nectar in that story and stick.

Until next time, big hugs!

The Odd Even Dilemma

I wouldn’t exactly say I’m a walking talking Indian stereotype. I am 27, unmarried and have a white boyfriend. However, I live with my parents, work in an IT job and love cricket. Whenever I have travelled in India or abroad, there’s always been a good long soul searching session to figure out how Indian I am. The verdict, maybe a 2.5 out of 10.

Streets of India

I truly felt the guilt of not knowing enough about my culture when I was in France as a teen and had to conduct a 2 hour workshop on India. I drew a blank and my peers took over. I had spent so much of my youth trying to get out of the country that I forgot to take a look around.

Shame on me!

I spent the next few years growing to love the quirks that make India who she is. All communities in India are usually divided by language they speak, geography next. The language you do speak is usually an indication of the culture you grow up in. Despite how we are typecast, India is not of homogenous language and culture. We don’t all speak ‘Indish’ or ‘Hindu’. Those are not even languages. It wasn’t till I was at a work lunch that I realised people identify which community/religion you belong to by your surname.

ROTFLMAO

Of course. I don’t have a surname.

And while most situations go like this –

“What are you?”

“What do you mean?”

“You know, Kannadiga, Tamilian, Malyali …”

“Erm, I don’t know”

“What language do you speak at home?”

“English”

“So you’re Anglo-Indian?”

“No. I don’t have a single British ancestor”

“What is your mother?”

“Erm, I don’t know”

“What did she speak at home?”

“Kannada”

“So she’s a Kannadiga? So that means you are a Kannadiga”

“No, she just grew up in Karnataka so they learnt to speak in the local language”

The conversation gets really, really confusing after that. If I were to sum up, we are a non-traditional family. Mum’s parents were from two different communities and spoke two different languages. But, they both grew up in the same state and so the local language of Kannada was their go to language. It’s the same with my parents. Their common denominator in terms of communication is English. So what does that make me? A cultural melting pot of South India with a hint of Malaysia? Or just plain old confused?

My despair at being a terrible Indian has gotten less intense after I started dating an Englishman. I notice everyday how some of our conversations start with me saying “In my culture …” and then I wax ad nauseum about things I’ve been told not to do (or do 3 times a day) because that’s the Indian way.

 The latest in this string of conversations was about the Indian gift giving etiquette. I am visiting the UK this month and I was starting to make lists of presents to take for everyone to the sound of the boy’s great confusion. Apparently, I’m a weirdo for wanting to buy everyone presents because the gifting culture among the youngsters has a motto – ‘meh!’

However, we have very specific rules here. Everyone we meet after ages gets a present. If this everyone stays in your city or country, it’s usually a box of sweets or dried fruit. If it’s someone abroad, it would be something that screams India. If you are just returning from a trip abroad, EVERYONE gets chocolates. Even your colleagues whose name you don’t know.

Raj Kootrapalli Gif

We have this odd rule about gifting in evens. If you don’t want to invoke a butterfly effect type disaster, you have to make sure to gift in pairs. You can’t take just one cushion or throw, it has to be two. I think that this comes from a wish that you won’t ever be alone and that you will always have someone to share it with. So gifting in even numbers is a blessing of sorts. This rule does not apply to money, if that’s what your preferred present is. At weddings, birthdays and any big event, we always add a Rs. 1 coin to make it an odd number. So you would gift Rs. 1001 instead of the boring old Rs. 1000. There is a feeling that odd numbers in finances are lucky and will lead to your wallet being quickly filled up till you reach the next 100 and then another 100.

All this to say that I’m really confused – my Indianess dictates that I buy presents. I am in no doubt though that I am going to viewed as a total weirdo. So just in case, I’m looking up YouTube videos so I can blend in the rest of the time.

Oooh look. Already found one about pub lunches!

Shameless Self Promotion

I haven’t written “properly” on here  in a while on account of life being what it is – but I have been getting an unbelievable amount of views and comments that has nudged me to make this post. Allow me this one indulgence?

In case you’ve missed it, my top 5 posts (ever) are –

You are a Bangalorean If – A comment on the little things that a Bangalorean would indulge in.

Ode to my 29 Teeth – A horror story about how in the great battle of life, 32 teeth soldiers went marching in and only 29 made it back alive.

I am a Weirdo – A post that, if you’re being honest, needs no elaborate introduction.

This is for you, Rami – A eulogy for a mentor, a friend and confidante.

What it means to be East African – A list of things that struck me when I was volunteering in Tanzania.

Not to say I have given up on writing. I haven’t. I have been popping out Guest Posts like a machine, a machine I tell you. This is just to nudge you in the right direction and tell you that I have created a new page called Digital Footprints that lists all the places I do manage to write in.

Just know that I’m not ignoring you. I will try to write at least one post a day. Promise.

Hope you are well.

We Might Fall

The Sunrise This Morning in Bangalore
The Sunrise This Morning in Bangalore

Let’s go on an adventure. There are clouds to be jumped on, warm golden rays to be stolen, wings on whose back we can steal a ride.

We could drown in the crow’s feet that your laughter creates. You could twirl me around till we’re so giddy, it makes the world a breathtaking shade of magic. We could walk the journey of some obscure person and throw popped corn at each other while the black mirrors fill up with “must watch” moving pictures. We can tick off lists of movies, of books, of places to eat, sights to see, things that make us feel alive and full of purpose.

We could run around carelessly, tripping as we try to catch the sunshine in your hair and the sparkle in your eyes. We could don ourselves in explorer gear and go hunting for giggles – your giggles – that make me light headed and make me float off the ground.

We could go looking for the moon and have it tell us stories by the fireside. We could even accidentally run into the biggest adventure of them all –

We might fall.