Sizzling hot. Oof!

Scorching. Sweltering. Sizzling. Stifling.

That's exactly what the weather report here reads like for this week. Yesterday was my first experience of the heat of the Australian summer. Despite it being only 41 degrees -- I am from India, seen much worse, ahem -- the sun seems to sear through the skin. I could feel my scalp burning and my skin turning from the hue of milk chocolate to dark cooking chocolate in a mere five minutes. In Delhi, the heat radiates off everything... in Melbourne it does not radiate because everything starts melting way before that.

In 2008, I had pretty much managed to skip the Delhi summer. April-May 2008 had seen Partner and me travelling to the beautiful Leh-Ladakh (-->) and then to Kuala Lumpur for Partner's (<--) cousin's a wedding with a short, five-day stint in Melbourne. While KL had been pleasant, Melbourne had its winter then. Subsequently, once we moved here in July 2008, I had altogether managed to skip the Delhi summer. The last year also saw Melbourne having a freak summer where instead of it warming up in December, most of that month and January fluctuated between pleasant and wearing sweaters ('jumpers' here). Now apparently the state of Victoria is suffering a heat wave, the likes of which haven't been since 1908. At least 20 localities lost power supply, newspapers suggested that people without airconditioners move to shopping malls (er, with sleeping bags?!) and people walking on the roads seemed to be steaming, me included.

Funny that power cuts, heat waves, no water and no airconditioner was pretty much the way of life for me for a long while.

In June 2002, after three months of sleeping under the office table at the India Today Group Online office -- didn't have a house and was young and fool-hardy enough to think I could live like a nomad -- I had rented a one room hole in Lajpat Nagar. This hole was bang in the centre of Gupta Market, best known for salwar-kameez materials and mannequins. At night when I'd come back from work, the streets would be deserted. The only inhabitants were stray dogs hiding under cars and behind dustbins and hundreds and hundreds of naked mannequins -- stripped off their glittering finery for the night -- lining up the street that housed my hole. It was one of the most bizarre experiences. I would return from covering a fashion show or some party to be greeted by naked plastic men and women, staring dead ahead, oblivious of me or the dogs.

The hole was on the first floor. To get up to it you had to cross huge mounds of plastic wrapping, discarded cloth strips from the many local tailoring shops, dog poo hidden like land mines amongst the piles and paan (betel leaves) stains on every bit of vacant wall that wasn't already covered with posters of paan-chewing local politicians. Sometimes the paan was spat out on the politicians' faces, it really didn't make a difference though. Their sinister smiles and hollow promises seemed to overpower even the stains...

Adjacent to my hole were seven other holes, three on each side. Each of those holes had families of at least six living inside. All holes were basically one room. I didn't have anything other than a rucksack with my clothes, a Rs 300 moulding mattress and Papa's old Philips tape recorder. At any given time, you could hear at least three different channels from the neighbouring holes. It usually meant listening to a medley of Sa Re Ga Ma ( the antakshari show, Anu Kapoor used to anchor it back then), Hindi news channel with cheap ads Aaj Tak (remember PP Jewellers?) and some obscure soap opera at the same time. The only other sounds were those of husbands shouting for food, babies crying and old people coughing.

And I would lie there in the sweltering heat with only a ceiling fan. Rather a tired ceiling fan that was bored of circulating the stifling, non-existent breeze and refused to move at anything faster than the speed of 1. I earned a mere Rs 8000 then (without taxes) and was paying Rs 3,500 for rent. Before going to bed, I'd pour two mugs of water on me -- a borrowed bucket of water, there was none in the taps, landlord said it wasn't part of the deal -- and then lie under the tired fan. I could only sleep till my sweat-mingled-with-water dried off.

I didn't cook back then... had only saucepan and a plate and no money for anything else. Also the fact that the 'terrace' had bats hanging from the awning and the kitchen was on the terrace wasn't much encouragement. There was a charpai/ charpoy (literally 'four legs', a basic cot with criss-crossing hemp ropes) that I used as a walk-in almirah. Hah, it rested on its sides and my clothes hung on it... I was buying drinking water and the kitchen was full of empty bottles. When Ma came visiting and opened the kitchen door, 250 empty bottles of water had tumbled out. Ma had just sat down and started crying. I had still refused monetary help. The stupid resilience and even stupider pride of being 21-years-old...

Then and now. Friends had laughed at me when I had marvelled at the amazing shower heads in the Kuala Lumpur hotel room. But kya kare, I was amazed. (smiles) Either I am getting soft now or I'm getting old because I have borne much worse, without any or much lesser complaint.

Now I wonder if the basics of life -- considered a right here, how different from Delhi -- available at the push of a button provide enough impetus to start all over again. I have uprooted myself, but will I be able to re-establish myself?


India: Slums, dogs and millionaires

Happy Republic Day.

One of the first things I remember about describing India -- it was a grade three/four essay on “describe your country” -- was “India is a diverse nation.” To a seven-year-old me, “diverse” really didn’t mean much. The first real awareness about any patriotic identity I had was that we -Indians - “hated” Pakistan, rather the Pakistani cricket team.

Over the years there have been many things I have realised about my country. We are in the top 10 list of most corrupt nations and would soon become world leaders in terms of population. Recently I learnt that we have more honours students than the entire population of Australia. And that Indians doctors and IT guys are wanted the world over. I could go on…

What is India? “Everything” is the word that best describes it.

Structured chaos, patience for long traffic jams, slums with the best TV channels and early morning lining-up for water. Praying to cows and killing of female foetuses. Gods with many arms and beggar kids with none. Rising divorce rates in cities and a reluctance to put parents in old-age homes. World-class chefs and mothers who still make awesome, detailed home-cooked food. In Amitabh Bachchan, the star of the millennium (BBC says so) and every state and every district with it’s own distinct dance form and music. We might suck at global sport but you can’t beat us at mind games…

Pizzas with paneer on them and the world’s best bloody street food. Metal head chicks who still get henna on their hands for weddings. And weddings! The many different kinds of Indian weddings are a study by themself. A blooming real estate industry and shitting in the open. Politicians with criminal records and yet a surprisingly, surviving democracy. I would love to challenge any other country to take even a quarter of the population we have and try and make something worthwhile from it. They will fail.

It gets difficult though, when people here ask questions about India: some honestly curious, some mistakenly superior. My father keeps telling me to not get into arguments and let people think what they might. Well, we shall see.

What is India? The list can go on… She is different things to different people.

So I asked friends and my ‘network’ to contribute a photograph: something they think denotes or represents India. But then, as contributor George Koshy pointed out, can any single picture really capture India? You decide, or not...

Captions provided by photographers where not specified
<-- 1. Good Morning India: pic by Shashwat Nagpal, 28, freelance photographer, Creative Director with a multinational IT consulting firm.
"I took this picture in Benaras/Varanasi. To me, it reflects the spiritual face of India... showing the faith in our culture and customs and how people make living through it too."

2. Years of Raniket: pic by Shefali Sewak, 28, lawyer -->
"I've been going to Ranikhet every year since I was about 8-years-old. It really is my 'home away from home', except that unlike Delhi, it is spiritually unsoiled. Every time I'm in Ranikhet, I see and feel things that touch me to the core. This is strange because I don't usually get moved easily.My last visit in October 2008 was no different. There's this one picture which I took of an old woman. She had typical Kumaoni features, and her face was wrinkled with years of Ranikhet. But gorgeous as her face was, I found this photograph more intriguing."

<-- 3. Varanasi tradition: pic by Ben Tregear, 28, freelance photographer currently living in India
I met Ben at a terrace party, smoking pot and strumming Bob Dylan or someone else on the guitar...

4. Die Swimmer Die (Pong Lake Watersports sign board, Kangra, Himachal): pic by Colin Fernandes, author (Viva Santiago!), contemplator, lad-mag features editor -->

<-- 5. Mishti khabe?: Pic by Michael Oberhardt, 29, senior geologist, currently living in India
"It was taken in a small village called Rajdih in September last year. It is about 7 hours drive north of Kolkata in Jharkhannd state. We were drilling nearby and I decided to stop at all the little villages to hand out some sweets to the kids (and parents)."

6. Sushil and I: pic by Rajaraman Ganesan, 47, former sports editor, current consultant --->
This picture shows "the down to earth nature of an Olympic medal winner..."

7. Family portrait: pic by Jesse Rapczak, 28, video game developer, living in India

"This is a portrait of a family that lives near my office in Noida. They run a small corner shop and usually sleep on the street. After I took the photo I realized they probably did not have a family portrait as a keepsake, so I printed several copies and took it back to them. We didn't speak the same language, but I'll never forget the joy I saw in their eyes and how grateful they were as a result of this simple gesture."

There are more contributions, just that I'm running out of time.. will come and upload those later. For those interested in contributing as well: email me ONE photograph --that YOU have taken -- that represents India or what you think of India. Hope a lot of you will participate! Email contributions to foxytanya@gmail.com WITH:
1. your photo contribution: perhaps a caption or two about where/when you took it and what it means
2. your name, age (optional) and what you do for a living/ otherwise
3. a link to your website/blog so people can check out more of your pictures
You DON'T have to be a professional photographer; anyone can send in a contribution--- if you know people who might want to contribute...please forward this note to them.
PS: Saw Slumdog Millionnaire last night... a post on that later.


When your mouth smells like cat piss...

... you should try and not breathe into the pillow. The odours off your own mouth can be really noxious.

The previous post was written under the influence of machine-gun-tequila shots. That is the variety when the shot glass is really big and you don't even stop to suck lime in between the shots and have all four one after the other...

The result is that you go from perfectly sober (was about to 'perfectly sane', but it was far from that last night!) to whoa-keyboard-keys-are-jumping-out-at-me in a matter of seven minutes. And in THAT state we went out...

There must have been something about my body language last night because suddenly eyes were noticing me... I was not 'behaving' drunk but I definitely had my I'll-burn-you-baby hat on. The waiters at the Vietnamese joint were smiling more...despite me having taken a couple of bites out of someone else's order. The bouncers at the club while ignoring the other chicks were quite 'flirtily protective' and of course my tattoo has always been used as an opening line by guys. Not just that, when smoking outside the pub, I had random conversations with slightly-better-of-the-lot guys and was dastardly rude to the muppets who were like "So you've been here long?" And I'd said, "No only at special times..this is a special time..." To which he asked, "What time is that?" And I smugly responded, "Time for you to shut up."

It was a very stupid comeback, but it worked. Because while that guy had been snubbed, there were a couple of cute ones on the side who liked it and laughed. Men can be such predators. When they see a lay, they are only too happy to mock one of their own kind. But it's okay. Women can be worse. We are only too happy to grab on and play anyone against anyone as long as our ego is pleased.

Ach. By the end of the night, there was a huge fight. I think I was flirting last night. "It's all in your eyes and shoulders," is what Partner says. Well, what can I say?? Perhaps I did flirt...

Flirting for me has never been a way of getting attention... it's been more of a way of tuning others and watching them perform exactly the way I want them to. I needed that feeling last night. In these six-seven months, I think somewhere has been a burgeoning feeling of losing control. So I ended up... Hmm.

Yes, I am in a relationship...but I think guys and girls both flirt to get some sort of I-still-have-it-in-me validation. So I've been home all this while; cooking, washing, gardening, reading cook books (for fuck's sake) and I was even about to be invited to a Tupperware party (shit). And all the kids at the restaurant I was working at are young -- 19-24 -- and there I was, 30. Thinking babies.

I went out with them one night and there was nothing in common -- They were so, free! -- and I was like a chaperone with them. ME! CHAPERONE! That's when I knew I was losing it.

Oh lord. Bas. Let's just say I really need a coffee right now. Last night was a close shave. Had I been single, I knew I would have had whoever eating out of my hands... or what/wherever else. Partner noticed too. We had a mega fight. :( Thankfully both were drunk enough to pass out after a bit. Now I'm about to eat eggs and am watching 80s videos on TV. We both woke up contemplating the pattern on the ceiling. And with huge headaches.

So that's that. It's a happy ending for the interim. But then he's turning 30 too...

PS: Of the 14 dogs, four were pups. The bungalow we lived in was huge, with big front lawns and back gardens as well. One morning we woke up and found the dogs dead. Some in the front lawn, some near the gate... only the four pups who lived inside the house lived. The robbers thought we had a lot of money and had poisoned all the dogs. Rigor mortis had already set in.

Is f*****g drunk....

...and will probably regret this tomorrow. But then, what's life without some regrets, eh? I have been so controlled, so fucking politically correct, so "good girl" that its giving me a solid case of identity crisis. I am not used to keeping my mouth shut...or having conversations inside my head, which is pretty much what I have been doing.

I can be SUCH an arsehole. People who matter, I ignore and others.... well, I behave like one of those silly dogs that will wag their tail and be friendly with everyone. the hungry for affection sorts.

Once, when passing through this colony -- my regular route -- I saw this pomeranian that was tied to the balcony railing with a rope. Not much area to move, not much to do anything. That bloody dog used to bark --- that irritating pomeranian bark -- at everyone. I used to think that dog was really nasty. Then one day -- and on more days frequently -- I saw the dog's owner belt it. Really belt it. The dog wouldn't yowl, it would just whimper while the belt -- and sometimes a slipper or a boot -- made its fur come out in tufts.

At other times, I saw the same owner really hug and pet the dog. The dog would have its tail between its legs while his master stroked him. The dog was always expecting another beating. Even when his master was cooing to him.

Sometimes, I hate feeling like that pomeranian. Some of us, you know, it's better for some of us to realise that we are meant to be pomeranians. Not labradors that are supposed to be the most people-friendly dogs. I think I am a pomeranian.

Did I ever tell you that at one point in my history I had 14 dogs in my house? Majority pomeranians. Hah. Should have known then, but what to do? I was a mere 6-yeard-old then... Papa was posted in Agra then. On Prithviraj road.
The street was known for robberies. The burglars thought that people who had dogs were rich...they were using dogs to protect their riches.

haha. My mother had me and a new born baby...and a plaster on her right leg. Osteomalitis. Her bone marrow dried on the right leg shin, that piece of bone was removed. Poor Ma. And 14 dogs to look after... Papa didn't help. Someday I shall ask him about it...

Now....my parents have NOT told me about uit.....but Ma has heart problems. My bro told me...my parents think i dont know... hah. They always try to 'protect' me... whatn good has it done Ma-Pa? when did you eever succeed in that???

So now they are waiting for further ECG tests...all the while assuring me that everyything is all right. Oh. I am NOT a fucking child. Thankfully, Papa knows that I use "fuck" a lot.

Haha. He was quite disappointed when he had discovered my new, improved vocabulary.

Ok Never mind. it's now getting progferssively harder to speell. so ishall desist.

we shall end with quote of the day: "If you leave your dog for a man, it nwill always come back to bite you."



A cupful of orgasms

(check out the pink dumbells!)
My thighs have been deliciously aching for the last two days. A delicious thigh ache is usually caused either by really raunchy sex the previous night or by a new exercise regime. In my case it’s the exercise that’s the culprit; been doing some serious cardio-crunches-and-what-not for the last two days.

From weighing 37kgs in May 2008, I am now a healthy 48kgs. Only that most of the ‘health’ is accumulating around my thighs and belly. Boobs too. I have had enough of not fitting into jeans I bought some months back or my bikini bra strap snapping off because I am too heavy to be, er, ‘encupped‘. Ok, I am lying. I don’t mind the bikini bra not fitting as long as it’s the cups I’ve outgrown and not because my back is too broad for the strap (it isn’t, am still a svelte 24 inches baby!).

Knowing that I am more of a self-help kind of person - not into joining fitness clubs etc - I have bought myself a DVD and have been sweating it out with the trainers on it. Partner has been killing himself laughing and at his most-irritating, keeps imitating the way the trainers sound on the DVD. But never-you-mind, I will have the last laugh once I am in the shape I want to be in - Partner says he quite likes the way I am, what would he know? His main concern is that I would ‘shrink’ in some strategic areas (you know…). Hrmph.

The exercising apart, the Christmas season-going-into-new-year has been full of heavy socialising. Since I hardly know people here, most socialising involves meeting up with Partner’s school and college (‘uni’ here) friends. All the hello-hello with people has lead to some interesting observations and conversations. A lot of the talking-noting centres around sex -- not just me, others talk of it too, grin -- and how things are different in India and Australia.

While ‘picking up’ -- having sex with people you don’t know before you sleep with them (often not even after that) -- is common in both India and Oz, there are some significant differences. For one, unlike India where even people who have threesomes every night will pretend they don’t do it; folks are more open about things here. They don’t get into ethical and moral dilemmas about random-sex-with-strangers (or about sex for that matter, an Indian speciality I say).

Having said that please don’t assume that Australians are cool about random sex. Just like India, majority of the population here is conservative and looks down upon pre-marital sex. Virginity is considered a virtue too; though increasingly difficult to come by!

Another significant difference vis-à-vis sex is the complete ignoring of condoms or condom ads.

Going by the ads on the tele, ‘shock therapy’ seems to be the most-preferred advertising tool. From drink-driving to road safety to health issues and workplace safety, advertisements use shock to relay their message. If it can be said with a smashed head, they’d do it.

The society is also health obsessed… from ‘green TV’ ads (stupid, stupid ad by ABC with TV sets sitting on a jungle floor…what was the point?) to numerous ads on the latest tablet in the market. Yet, there is not a single ad that I have seen that promotes condoms. Given the openness about sex, given that the drinking age is 18 and is celebrated, given that the youth is allowed far more licentiousness than in India -- the in-your-face-variety, not the we-do-but-don’t-accept thing -- one would expect condoms and SAFE SEX to be a priority. Going by the ads, it’s not.

I asked the people I have been meeting about this complete lack of condom ads. The response -- by this doctor chick -- was that since the percentage of AIDS/HIV has gone down, condoms are not a priority. Yet the doctor also mentioned that STIs and STDs -- especially gonorrhoea -- are on the rise. Another girl mentioned, hesitantly, that it perhaps has to do with Catholic beliefs. The “children are god’s gift” kind of beliefs.

While I respect religious beliefs that promote having children… what religion promotes STIs? Or children who will be left to fend for themselves because the father doesn’t want them? Or maybe because the mother wasn’t ready? I don’t understand… isn’t safe, responsible sex supposed to be one of the stipulations of a developed nation/society?

One big commonality between Australians and Indians is the way both people get tight-lipped and judgemental about… Pornography. The research subject for my first term paper was user-generated pornography. The kind that has ‘regular’ people -- as against porn stars -- shooting videos of themselves and putting it up on the Internet for free. I remember it was my friend Pirate who had gleefully shared that link with me…

From snide comments to sniggers and oh-she-talks-porn looks from certain high-and-mighty classmates; I was amused by the reaction that my choice of subject elicited. But chalo, the silver lining is that developed country or a developing one, some things bother all of us. Yet… erotic magazines are displayed alongside The Age on news stands, Channel 9 advertises sex phone lines, primetime television shows have ample tits to save spending on lad-mags (read porn) and adult centres and strip bars are on the same street as the biggest shopping mall… Confused or couldn’t-care-less?

My research on user-generated pornography ‘taught’ me quite a few things… Like busting the self-created myth that I cannot be shocked. DUDE! Some of the things had my eyeballs jump out of my sockets and roll about on my keyboard. Other things though were quite, er, illuminating.

Like adding new words to my vocabulary… ‘hebephilic’ and ‘teleiophilic’; they don’t refer to archaeology. Or that there are machines for sex. No, it doesn't mean a man who goes on, and on and on. Neither does it mean vibrators. More like, er, ‘sexborgs‘! Or (still) disbelieving that women can rape men. And realising that the female orgasm is NOT a myth. There are cupfuls to prove it’s true. Or how menopause and old age does not prevent raunchy sex. Really, it doesn’t… but you don’t want to check it out! Or really understanding what exactly a she-male means (and looks like!) and er, the operational aspects.

Or realising that I will never use the phrase, "I am strapping it on" or for that matter never be able to eat 'cream pie' with a straight face. Or more educational observations like the fact that India might consume a lot of porn, but it is waaaaay behind in production qualities. Or that there is a brand of feminism called "raunch feminism". And how the most hard-core stuff does not use condoms. Real life imitating fantasy? What do you think?

Did you know? 89 % of world pornography is produced by the US.
On that note...watch this, my favourite condom ad:


Just like that.

<-- Ideal day: baking gingerbread men and assorted cookies. They happily contribute to me piling the pounds as Partner is not too fond of sweets. I am eating too many, faaaar too many sweet things. It starts with two-and-a-half-teaspoons sugar in my coffee. In winter was drinking at least four cuppas a day...you do the math. AND to think diabetes is in my blood. Hmmm.

A perfect Sunday: at Torquay, riding down to the beach. We bought bicycles and have been riding around a bit. Melbourne has an interesting cycling culture and no, unlike India, where usually the 'underpriviledged' cycle to work etc, here it's a fitness thing. Most roads and localities have well-paved bicycle tracks and everyone rides with helmets. Implementing something like this in Delhi would SO help with the pollution. Two weeks back, cycled 30 kilometres from home to the St. Kilda beach and back. Have NOT exercised my legs that much in recent history! Felt bloody good. Yes, the guy with the book is Partner.

<--- An evening out: watching the Black Keys perform at the Palais theatre. Audi acoustics sucked, the Keys were bloody great. Melbourne is something of a music capital here and has frequent gigs by biggies. This was my first one with established artistes and saw Gomez and Black Keys perform. Missed out on Prodigy who performed for the Big Day Out music fest. There WILL be a next time...

Recent shopping: during a random drive, a garden gnome from a Heidelberg nursery and 'sticky' frogs; and a cactus pot that says, "I'm a prick." --->

<--- Recent excitement: watching potted green capsicum turn red in my 'garden'. And very soon, I swear I shall murder. Mynahs from India -- the birds we see and go two-for-joy etc -- are killing my saplings. Hate the shits.

Motherhood: growing my first cherry tomatoes!!! Woohoo! (can you see them? li'l green things) -->

<--- Melbourne: looks golden and majestic when the sun sets...this is a noon shot. Despite the fact that Victoria (the state Melbourne's in) is having something of a freak summer, i.e. it's cold instead of a blistering 40-plus; I am enjoying my time here.

That apart, I'm quite excited about Barak Obama signing in as the US president and would be up bright and early -- 6.30 am Australia time -- to watch him being sworn in. I have never had great faith (or any at all) in politicians but Obama... he inspires. And he makes me think: Will we ever have anyone remotely like him in India? Recently, read an interesting news bit on Ibnlive.com that corporate India -- Mittal and Ambani -- find Narendra Modi as the most viable candidate for PM. At least it's not Mayawati. Yet, I don't if that's something to rejoice about.

Politics aside and on the personal front, all girls I know from my school days have a baby. Or are pregnant. Or are planning babies. Or are getting married and will soon plan babies. All I know is I turn 30 in May. Sigh. Met up with Partner's cousin-wife-and-two-kids yesterday. Such gorgeous little girls! Had a brilliant hour playing with the girls in the park, catching them as they slithered down slides and didn't complain about the heat as I pushed 4-year-old Bridget on the swing. A very simple thing, but it's just a very happy feeling as you push a kid on the swing and the kid turns her head around, looks at you and gives you a grin of sheer pleasure. SIGH.

Attended a wedding on Saturday (17 Jan) and had a hard time not bawling as the bride and groom took their vows. When you see tv serials and movies that are based more and more on adultery, threesomes, single life and divorces... It's heartening to have people still want to commit to each other. I will have to invest in a waterproof mascara as there are three more weddings in the near future and I don't want to make an idiot of myself crying there.

AND. Grrrr. Went for a facial after six months -- in Delhi it was once a month -- and the bloody salon woman suggested I use anti-wrinkle, anti-ageing under-eye cream. :( Not to mention that sales girls in lingerie stores now suggest holding-up bras and waist-clinchers for "maturing" women. It's a cruel world I tell you...

Have a writers' workshop -- uni mates -- this afternoon but haven't written anything worthwhile to show them. Hopefully though, they should inspire me...
What's up with everyone else?


18 again with more wrinkles

nursing home full of senior citizens
with eyebrow piercings
- from 'Moving Melbourne through art', read on the walls of a Connex train.

I ate so much mango last night that my stomach still hurts. These days, I can best be described as well-fed. If I am not eating, I am reading and sometimes, doing them together. In the last four months, I've gone through four authors and 36 books. Primarily science-fiction-fantasy and yet not the books/authors that would put me in the voracious-reader-list. I have been reading, eating, gardening, cooking and housekeeping too much to write.

Happy new year to all. "Another year gone by." That sentence can be both jubilant and weary. The last year was a bizarre trip for me. At times uncomfortable, at others exhilarating. A whole lot of new things, sorely missing some old ones.

Another year gone by. I turn 30 in May. It's like turning 18 all over again, more wrinkles though. I would be of legal age to officially have skin-firming facials. Or to have missed the bus with respect to what-have-you-done-with-your life. It's also when it bothers me to not have a precise answer to the question.

A new year, the same old me. Or is it? There are changes. For the better and for the worse. I wear bright red nailpolish. I don't mind if my thighs jiggle a bit. I sincerely bless the girls who help wit bra-fittings. I am also far more conscious of my belly. I am (getting) addicted to chocolates. I am truly enjoying cuddling and think I am getting better at... (grin) I am gardening earnestly.

In Delhi, it was buying saplings from nurseries and watching them grow. Now I am also growing from seeds. It's extremely satisfying. Most plants are new to me here and some are really pretty. Like this tiny-leafed succulent variety called stonecrop. Yet I was very happy to discover a 'money plant' (pothos, devil's ivy) in a Bunnings garden section.

While the new is exciting, the familiar is missed. After joking about haldi (turmeric) in all Indian food - from pizza to chowmein - now I am missing the lack of it. Like I realised this Christmas that I wish I had done some things differently. This was my first 'family' Christmas. I wish in the last 10 years living alone in Delhi, I had made more of an effort to spend Diwali or Durga pujo with my parents. In my attempts at proving that I was self-sufficient (didn't need anyone?), I simply isolated myself. Hmm. So we shall fix things.

While I am in Melbourne, if I have to recreate the things I took for granted, I shall. While I wait for Holi, I will learn how to make laddoos and find out about rangoli colours. Along with the other books read, I am also getting into cook books. Mallu (fish) curry with appams, Moroccan lamb with chapatis, moussaka with garlic bread and rice vermicelli with crispy-fried pork in sweet and sour curry have been on menu recently. I am loving it!

Books I have read in the last 60 days:

Sara Douglass (12 books including the Axis and Wayfarer Redemption trilogies, Troy Game four-book series and two of Darkglass Mountain);
Stephen Donaldson (7, Thomas Covenant Ist Trilogy, Thomas Covenant IInd Trilogy and Runes of Time);
Terry Brooks (16, Sword Of Shannara trilogy, Heritage of Shannara four-book series, Word and the Void trilogy, High Druid of Shanna and Genesis of Shanna trilogies) and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

Looking forward to a year of regular posts!
PS: All pics are from my home, quality sucks a bit, it's from the phone.
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