To the Young Women and Men of Delhi: Thinking about Rape from India Gate

Agreeing with this on most points.

KAFILA - 10 years of a common journey

Dear young women and men of Delhi,

Thank you for the courage and the honour you have brought to Rajpath, the most dishonorable street in our city. You changed Delhi yesterday, and you are changing it today. Your presence, of all twelve thousand of you, yesterday, on Rajpath, that street that climbs down from the presidential palace on Raisina Hill to India Gate, getting soiled by the excreta of the tanks and missiles on Republic Day each year, was for me a kind of purificatory ritual. It made a claim to the central vista of ‘Lutyen’s Delhi’ as a space for democratic assertion in contravention of the completely draconian, elitist and undemocratic prohibitory orders that make the heart of this republic, a zone of the death, not the life and sustenance, of democracy.

From now onwards, consider the heart of Delhi to be a space that belongs, first of all…

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Tuni bulb evening

So I’ll always be a little bit crazy just like you’ll always be a little bit dog-eared. It’s an unlikely meeting of sorts but stranger things have happened. This coming year I vow not to wallow in unproductiveness, and I vow to do things, and say things, and feel things without feeling ashamed about them. I’ve been making progress this year, mostly as a sort of fuck it, what-the-hell response to any shred of embarrassment or cringing that happens. It’s yielded mostly good results, but this coming year I’m going to stop feeling less valid. Whatever is not a reasonable response to life, your face is not a reasonable response to life, but I’m glad it exists. Just taking a breather and putting my hat on at an angle and setting forth without a care, with a “we’ll see”, and genuinely not thinking about it anymore has never been my style. I mean it’s been my style in general with adventuring and things, but life’s too goddamn important, y’know? Only this is life too, all the adventuring and whynot and it all wraps up together, not neat but all lumpy.

What I’m saying is, there’s a new year coming. It’s going to be full of new people, and new places, and new feelings and discoveries. I’m a little scared, to be honest. I’m a little less rootless than you said. I’ve always been a wanderin’ but I’ve always been searching for somewhere to – what I’m saying is I’ve been sinking my roots into people. You’re wrong, y’know; the tendrils slowly creeping around your ankles say so.

I read a cummings the other day, and I spoke to someone from the past the other day. It was all just a little strange, just a little familiar, just a little life.

Look, here is what I’m grateful for: a song, the memory of an eye, shots of milk and airmail-borne-understanding. The best things are not always the most obvious.

What I’m saying is, I’ll probably always be a little bit confused, but I’m a little less confused this year, and one of the things is gratitude. I found a piece of writing the other day from earlier this year and it was bursting to the seams with urgency and realness but I couldn’t remember this thing I’d written about. I looked beneath my collarbone, and there it was, a black dot, but I’d thought that was you. Perhaps I’d confused you and me, perhaps I’d dipped too far in and made a mess and couldn’t separate anymore. Bits of you trailing out and seeping in and making new colours.

I read an old email the other day. It wasn’t from you, it was another you at another time, and another me, only half-present. I was worshipped then, but the words ‘love of my life’ do not roll off the tongue easy. They sound untrue and make one uncomfortable. Life isn’t fair, and it moves on, and has a laugh. Look, I’m laughing. Look, I’m here. Look you’re here too. I hope you’ve come to stay.

The Alphabet Tag

A is for annie hall, apple pie, amsterdam, adda, Abba, Azad Hind

B is for brishti, binuni, bichana, breakfast, bhaja(deem,alu,phoolkopi,begun), begunbhaja, Beatles, bangali, bhaath, bhaat, bokuni, Buckley(Jeff), blog, biology, beer, Bukowski

C is for cool, christmas, chocolate, Cohen, climbing, caramelized, crazywoman, Calcutta, chhaath, chingri maach, Cyprus, chicken noodle soup, chop, cheese, codbel, chaa, coffee

D is for diplodoccus, dhop, deem, doodh, dollars, Dylan(Bob), dolna, dhaba

E is for emptiness, ennui, empathy, exaggeration, elephantiasis, egg sixtyfive, email

F is for fortune, foolish, firang, Friday, familiarity, fondness, facebook, Feist

G is for gossip, girl, Goodnight, golmorich, gobet, golpo, gaan, gol-mukh, ‘Grace’, GeorgeHarrison, guava, goja, Greece

H is for hobo, hirak raja’r desh’e, halaal, harami, ‘Heroin’, hello, ‘Hallelujah’, halud, happiness, Hungary

I is for ipecac, India, imbue, ilish maach

J is for joke, jam, julep, jealousy, JustinBua, J.J Cale, jerk, Japan, juice

K is for kangaroo, koala-toque, kutta, “kitne aadmi the?”, khichuri, khopa

L is for Lennon, ludo, life, lyangto, london, lighter, love, letter

M is for Ma, madhu, mishti, moon, Murakami, morbid, mixee, mud, madness, mantra, mutton-biryani

N is for nandan, natak, nightie, Neelu, nordoma, New York, Neruda

O is for orange, oxford, octopus, Orwell(George), onion

P is for Plath(Slyvia), Pink Floyd, pujo, phonecall, Paris, P.G Wodehouse, pictures, peanut butter

Q is for Queen

R is for Riddhi, Rebecca, Rome, run.

S is for ships, sails, sorcery, summer, saturday, science, Schenectady, sale, sex, Sunderbans

T is for Tinkle, toonibulb, time, telescope, Terry Pratchett, Toronto, trains.

U is for ulu, uluberiya

V is for Velvet Underground, vintage

W is for Waits(Tom), Wasseypur, Woody Allen, Wes Anderson

X is for (e)x.

Y is for Yeti, Yemen.

Z is for Zazou.

Annual end of year reflection-2012

1What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
2012’s been a helluva year for new things. I’ll try to list as many as I can remember.
-had someone i knew very well die an untimely, unnatural death
– smoked up
-drunken mistake number 1,2,3,4,50
-learned how to grind (yesreally)
-went on a pubcrawl
-been kissed multiple times by multiple women
-been in the middle of a terrible split, come out of it relatively unscathed
-bagged an internship at harvard; come jan, i will be moving to boston and the states for the very first time
– lost all faith and confidence in myself and completely broken down
– stayed over at a proper sleepover party (thankyou sambit and rupsha!)
– made the first move(ish)
– bust casting- got top half naked with a bunch of unknown women, sat in a circle and cooperatively made casts of our breasts
– read asimov, watched Monty Python, listened to tom waits- yes these are significant enough to be listed here
– gotten into the blues (thankyou neelu)
– made a lot of new friends with much confidence, without swallowing my tongue or letting my usual- well previous awkwardness rob me of my ability to speak
– explored cal on foot, thoroughly
– behaved like a completely irrational sap, bid goodbye to my ego
– written exams without driving myself into blind panic about them
– cooked, started cooking properly- i made soup guys! chicken noodle soup from scratch!
– lost a whole ton of weight, gone on a proper running routine, done that whole thing where you wake up at 5:30 am to go for a morning run before you start your day
– gone on a proper diet for like 2 months- it worked too; then i became happy and lazy
– wanted to do things i hadn’t wanted to before, and liked em
–  visited sodpur (lol?)
– gotten my first vacation in three years (existential fear factor, yes)
– long distance
– worked at an ngo with the children of sex-workers
– gotten into a scuffle with er..metro police?
– been awarded a scholarship
-gotten three job offers- one at a major toronto hospital, two at harvard (yes i’m gloating)
– watched Dylan and Knopfler live. I can’t say enough about this so I won’t say anything at all.
– had a lot of epiphanies
– started the process of coming to terms with the fact that I’m not a terrible person. self-love, self-love, self-love.
– torn a ligament, passed out, called 911, been taken to emergency in an ambulance
– got stung by a wasp
-started a secretblog, and a shared musicblog
-started liking beer
-did a photoshoot
2. Did you keep your new years resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Well, I did lose weight (and then gained most of it back), and eat healthy and cook lots (and then start eating trash again), and become focused on my academics. So I guess sort’ve? My new resolution is to stick to my resolutions.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not that I know of.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yeah. Not emotionally I guess, but physically? And mentally.
5. What countries did you visit?
Canada, India. Same as last year.
6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Published papers, a significant involvement in research I love, a 4.2. More: kindness,  balance, travelling, concerts, writing, self-love.
Wishful thinking: My voice back, my boyfriend in the same place. This was the 2012 list:
Inner peace. Better grades. Significant involvement in a cause I’m committed to, an extracurricular I love. The right significant other? Better hair. More compassion and thoughtfulness. Patience. Better time management. A fitter and healthier body. The ability to see a good story through the initial few chapters to the very end. The start of a long term research involvement. The opposite of my usual inertia and ennui. Confidence.
7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory and why?
– Feb 14th- the night R.B died and I balanced a stupid plate of dal on my hand
– April 23rd- the night I landed in Calcutta, seeing Trisha, Adi, and Piu at the airport and finally believing that I was back home
– July 17th- cuz N finally reached the end of his rational thought process
– August 7th- cuz it was a new birthday to put on the list of donotforget. And it was a nice time
– Sep 11th- cuz I dreaded it for so long, and then it came and I left
– November 14th- because I watched Dylan and Knopfler live and it was indescribable
– October 26th- cuz rankings came out and I went out with a bang, just like I wanted
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
– Doing major amounts of growing up
– Surviving Winter term long enough to drag my arse home where thankfully summer happened
– Bagging three job offers
– Getting on Dean’s Honour Roll, and excellent standing
– Keeping my promise to myself to write all of my exams this term
– Somehow managing not to screw up hobo and crazy thus far
– Not indulging in self sabotage long enough to let myself fall in love
9. What was your biggest failure?
Oh. I got so distracted and happy that I failed my non-credit PD course. And forgot to contact that prof for research. Ohwell.
Losing my temper too often at my family. Falling off course with the diet and eating healthy and running.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I tore a ligament right before finals week. And I got a nasty bout of flu during reading week. And I got stung by a wasp.
11. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Mine for going after the things I wanted and getting allofem =D
Squg for being dignified and a lady in a very old world sense of the term. For being a bundle of goodness and joy.
Neelu for dealing with all my crazy.
Piu for unconditional support, and for finding her way and getting her act together. Trisha for being the fiercely loyal and kickass person she is.
Emily for being the wonderful generous person she is.
12. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Er. I don’t want to say.
13. Where did most of your money go?
Eating out =( I gave Burger King, Mozy’s and Tim Horton’s LOTS of steady business.
14. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Going home for the summer. Neelu. The job I got offered at Princess Margaret. Harvard and Boston. Sambit’s farewell. New Light. The Dylan-Knopfler concert.
15. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Sweet thing- The Waterboys/Van Morrison. So far away, What it is- Knopfler. Bird on a wire- Bonamassa’s cover of Cohen. So long Marianne- Cohen. Gun street girl, Hold on- Waits.  Waits in general. I want you, You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go, All along the watchtower, Like a rolling stone- Dylan. Womaniya, Moora. Sittin’ on top of the world. Heroin- VU. Pine moon- Feist. Bloom- The Paper Kites. I saw her standing there, Someday(heh)- the Beatles. Wagon wheel- Old Crow Medicine Show. Drift away- Dobie gray. Lover you should’ve come over- Buckley.
16. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?’
Last year this time I was in Toronto, it was a very nice time, and I was quite happy. This year I’m alone in ghost town for the next two weeks. Overall however, 2012 has been unbelievable, in terms of the incredible things it has brought me. So happier, I guess. And very, very grateful.
17. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Spending more time with the grandparents, brother. Reading. Making out. Running. Cooking.
18. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Eating junk, brooding over things, procrastinating, taking out my temper on my fam cuz it was easy
19. How will you be spending Christmas?
I will try to find a church to haunt. I will bring back spiced eggnog and a shawarma. I will watch a movie and read Lord of the Rings and go to bed.
20. Did you fall in love in 2012?
H, L and S.
21. How many one night stands?
None.
22. What was your favourite TV programme?
I don’t watch TV. Gilmore Girls, I guess. And Criminal Minds.
23. What was the best book you read?
Good Omens, I think. It was a lifesaver on the plane back. I just started LOTR so anticipation. Kafka on the Shore. The Great Indian Novel.  Animal Farm.
24. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Oh man. 2012’s been a brilliant year as far as musical discoveries are concerned. A large part of this has to do with Neelu. All the blues stuff. Right now I’m really loving John Hammond and JJ Cale. In general, my absolute new favourite is Tom Waits. Listened to a lot of Cohen and Dylan for extensive periods of time. Knopfler in a big way, and Knopfler himself is responsible for this 😀
The Velvet Underground whom I absolutely loved. I listened to lots of the Beatles as usual. Tallest Man on Earth. Jefferson Airplane. Bonamassa. The Grateful Dead, whom I still have to listen to a lot more of. Jeff Buckley!
25. What did you want and get?
Love.
Happiness.
A good GPA and job offers and Harvard.
26. What did you want and not get?
Nothing. I got everything I wanted.
27. What was your favourite film of this year?
In theatre? Gangs of Wasseypur.
I fell in love with Woody Allen, Annie Hall in particular- those lobsters kill me. Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian.
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
It’s coming up on the 30th. I’m alone in ghost town right now. I’ll wake up, talk to people, eat something, read something, watch something. Might go to Symposium and buy myself cake. Byas.
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Nothing. I got everything I wanted, and more. Well, being able to go home for the winter would have been nice, but that’s just greediness. And having N closer would’ve been great, but that’s more greediness.
30. What kept you sane?
Ma, Trisha, Piu, Tony, Anushka, Upi, Shalmi, Neelu, Emily.
31. Who was the worst new person you met?
Stupid new bitch roommate.
32. Who was the best new person you met?
Upasana whom I’d technically met before but I really got to know her this year. Sattam. Amrusha. Pratiti. Shibansu. Tanuka (whom I technically haven’t met yet). Neelu.
33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learnt in 2012.
Only worry about one thing at a time. Take life one moment at a time.
If you want something, go after it. Stop being passive. Go out and grab what you want.
All that self-love bullshit isn’t bullshit.
Making soup is easy.
I have an infinite capacity to surprise myself.
34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Hey, it’s me, I’m dynamite
And I don’t know why

You really got a hold on me

I’m so consistently grateful for you, you’d be slightly freaked out if you knew. Everyday I’m grateful for you. You’re one of the best things 2012 threw up, maybe the best thing, my biased heart says. I write love letters these days. I’m a sap these days. I’m so very chill these days, so very chill for me. I rely on you these days. But baby, if you bring a squirrel home, you’re welcome to keep it company outside.

But listen, in this story I have a guitar, yes, a guitar. I sling it over my shoulder and I have red hennaed hair. I have a gypsy skirt and we wander over hills, your hand tracing circles on mine. You look ahead and notice water, you point it out and we camp out for the night. But no, listen, in this story I call you ‘love’ and I still mean it- not in that casual way I fling out to people like Emily from class and the guy who emailed me his notes. But listen, in this story you never died. And there never were any guns. In this story I went to a shrink and they helped me come to terms with everything and calmed down my neuroses. In that other story I never had any problems to begin with. In this story you kissed me and your lips tasted of smoke, not carbonated water and sugar. In that other story we ran away and they never found us; we created a Moonrise Kingdom of our own. In my story there are no guns.