J is for John Mayer’s music

A friend rightly said, “Mayer will always be that teenage love one never gets over”.

I had taken a break from his music until he released the first two installments of his recent album – ‘The Search For Everything’.

Okay, I adore his music. He’s a fantastic guitarist, a fine singer-songwriter, and sure, his good looks are a bonus too. Though his themes center largely around love and heartbreak – an instant crowd-pleaser (and fodder for mediocrity) –  he has managed to carve a niche for himself in a competitive industry.

The Internet is abundant with articles about his achievements, his infamous link-ups and relationships. I am not here to elaborate on that. Mayer, the Casanova, is also an incredible musician. His music has saved me from many a rough patch. It  inspires me to challenge my guitar skills. When I think of Mayer, the words that come to my head are ‘passion’ and ‘dedication’. The image of a thirteen year old boy earnestly practicing scales on his beloved Fender Strat, makes me happy.

Mayer’s songs are powerful mood-changers with melancholic to sunny undertones.  Often, I find myself quoting his lyrics because they resonate with me. Here are my favourites –

A song that gets me through my anxious phases

I worry, I weigh three times my body
I worry, I throw my fear around
But this morning there’s a calm I can’t explain
The rock candy’s melted, only diamonds now remain

Clarity (link to my previous post)

A song to boost my confidence when I feel dejected

Down to the wire
I wanted water, but I’ll walk through the fire
If this is what it takes to take me even higher
Then I’ll come through, like I do
When the world keeps testing me, testing me, testing me

-Vultures

A song that nails what discontentment feels like,

I’m not alone
I wish I was
‘Cause then I’d know I was down because I couldn’t find a friend around
To love me like they do right now

-Something’s Missing

A song that voices my fear of growing up and outliving my parents

So scared of getting older
I’m only good at being young
So I play the numbers game
To find a way to say that life has just begun

-Stop this train

And finally, this one’s been on loop for the longest time. There’s a difference between falling in love with the idea of a person, and that with the person himself.

Who do you love?
Me or the thought of me?
Me or the thought of me?

-I don’t trust myself (with loving you)

This list isn’t exhaustive by any means.

There is no way I’ll tire of his music. Nope.

J is for John Mayer’s music

My theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge is ‘The A to Z of some my favourite things’. Stay tuned for more posts, this April!

I is for Imagining scenarios for songs

This one’s an all time favorite.

I am a daydreamer. A significant portion of my day is usually reserved for this activity. Moreover, I tend to indulge in it better if there’s a song to complement it.

I usually keep my stock of favourite songs, up to date. My play-lists are flexible, designed to suit a location, a journey, my state of mind, or even the weather at times. Of course, each song caters to my crazy imagination..

Usually, I conjure a scenario in my head that fits the context of the song. The scenes I visualize are usually far-fetched, almost Bollywood-esque. Often, it’s do with the song lyrics.  Sometimes, I envision myself performing before a large, receptive audience.

For instance, Ray Charles and Clapton bring out the blues in me and bam! I’m on  stage, belting out a punchy guitar lick.

Often, it’s about sitting before Mayer, while he sings about slow dancing with me in a burning room. Sigh.

When I heard Adele’s “Someone Like You” for the first time, I was reduced to tears. I imagined being dumped by an incredibly good looking guy, passionate, yet someone cruel enough to forget me and live a happily with another woman.

On the other hand, when I listen to “Phir le aaya dil” composed by Pritam,  or  ‘Fidelity‘ by Regina Spektor, I imagine falling in love once again, initially resisting the idea, but then giving in.

Here are some of my favorite songs and the scenes that play in my head when I hear them –

Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai” – I’m in grad-school, knee-deep in coursework,  dissatisfied and stressed out. I have no social life, and I’m roughing it out. I down cups of caffeine to keep myself going. For the sake of this song, I’m the quintessential introvert (yes, you can laugh), sometimes reminiscing about a defunct relationship.

Kala Chashma” – I’m dancing to the song and giving Katrina Kaif a run for her money.

“Dil Chahta Hai” – I am with my best friends in Goa, watching the sunset from the Chapora Fort.  (ok, I’ve literally ripped off a scene from the movie).

“Adventure of a Lifetime” by Coldplay – This usually reminds me of my vacation in London. I imagine bumping into Chris Martin and his pet chimpanzee on the streets (he obviously doesn’t own one for real!)  A weird adventure, indeed.

“Alone in Kyoto” by Air – A relaxing, beautiful instrumental that transports me to the sea. I imagine I’m floating, facing the sky and observing the clouds as they adopt strange shapes.

The list is endless. But I’ll conclude with an absolute favourite –

Clarity by John Mayer – I’m by myself, possibly by the seaside, basking in the sun, feeling lighter than usual. For once, I’m comfortable in my own skin. Soon, I see my dog – a fluffy golden retriever – bounding towards me in excitement.

And I will wait to find if this will last forever.. 

I is for Imagining scenarios for songs

My theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge is ‘The A to Z of some my favourite things’. Stay tuned for more posts, this April!

P.S: I am running slightly late. Post for the letter ‘J’ should be up by tonight!

H is for Hotels

My fascination for hotels began in my childhood. As per my dictionary, hotels meant restaurants as well. A vacation with family meant staying in hotels. A dinner with family also meant going to a hotel. My definitions are of course, much better now.

I must admit that my tastes were pretty expensive, thanks to my dad and grandfather who spoilt me rotten.  It’s only when I began to go on trips with my friends, did I lower my expectations.

However, a part of me still relishes the luxury when the opportunity presents itself.

It’s about the air conditioned rooms, and about sinking contentedly into plush beds with blankets that pull you close in a warm embrace.

It’s about checking the bathroom excitedly to make sure there’s a bathtub, and soaking  in bubble water baths for hours together.

It’s about scribbling notes on the pad near the phone and calling for room service for the heck of it.

It’s about them sumptuous breakfasts. I frigging love breakfast buffets. I probably don’t eat as much at home.

It’s about playing carrom with my parents, or splashing around in the swimming pool.

It’s also about the individuals who work hard to ensure our stay is pleasant and comfortable. Thank you, you guys deserve all the credit.

I forgot to mention one thing. It’s about sharing the experience with your close ones.  I’m pretty sure business and corporate visits are way different than the one I’m talking about.

Come to think of it, a hotel room would have been boring without my sister to share it with. Had I been on a solo trip, I wouldn’t have really bothered about the pool or the lounge. Had it not been for my friends, I’d be cooped up in my room, probably dozing off before the television.

As strange as it sounds, back in the day my parents used to occasionally escape with me to a resort on a weekend.

George Bernard Shaw says

The great advantage of a hotel is that it is a refuge from home life.

H is for Hotels

My theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge is ‘The A to Z of some my favourite things’. Stay tuned for more posts, this April!

G is for Guitar

For those who don’t get the reference, my blog has been named after one of my most favourite things. My prized possession. My beautiful acoustic guitar.

I was drawn to this instrument after having watched a friend play Greenday’s ‘Time of Your Life’. I recall admiring his guitar, running my fingers on its steel strings and wishing I could play it as well as he did. That year, I learnt to play a bunch of chords, ‘Zombie’ by The Cranberries, and ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ by Greenday. It was choppy playing for the most part, but it made me ridiculously happy. Soon after, I expressed a strong desire to seek formal training. My mother, who seemed to have been vague with her response, dispelled all my doubts by gifting me a new guitar on my sixteenth birthday.

My taste in music spans many genres, but I am a lover of acoustic rock, folk-pop, blues and jazz. Besides that, my interests also lie in Indian classical music and fusion-rock.

Ironically, my blog posts have little to do with music. There’s a quote that comes to my mind, which is perhaps quite apt in this context –

To stand up on a stage alone with an acoustic guitar requires bravery bordering on heroism. Bordering on insanity.
– Richard Thompson

When my guitar sings, I hear the undisguised euphony of its strings. Every string is an entity by itself, the sounds of which are unprocessed, raw, yet sensitive to touch and flaws.

Around the time I began my blog, I deemed my competence in writing to be next to nil. I was fresh out of junior college, having spent two years in the company of friends with the gift of eloquence.  I was nervous about having to reveal a part of myself to a virtual audience (a part of which comprised my friends and family).  It was akin to going on stage with my guitar and trusting myself to not screw up.

So here I am, six years later, musing over my transformation from an under-confident teenager to a somewhat confident twenty-something adult. I owe it to my guitar for saving me from bouts of low self-esteem. My guitar playing has improved significantly from what it was back then, though I’d rather describe myself as a hobbyist and not a guitarist.

Learning to play this instrument has not been a cakewalk. I recall the struggle to hold a barre chord. There were times when the disappointment of failing to get a simple song right, would overtake the initial excitement. Nevertheless, the joy and satisfaction I felt on succeeding was always palpable. Of course, this holds true till date.

They say patience is a virtue and not a skill. I assumed I didn’t possess it until I picked up a guitar. Turns out that my patience had been dormant.

G is for Guitar

My theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge is ‘The A to Z of some my favourite things’. Stay tuned for more posts, this April!

F is for Filter Coffee

The letter ‘C’ should have ideally been for coffee but that seemed to be too generic. Sure, I do love coffee in all its forms but filter coffee holds a special place in my life.

I have had a love affair with this drink from as long as I can remember. When I was young, my grandmother would bribe me with coffee in order to get some lactose into my system.  Of course, it’s also by virtue of my Tambrahm-ness. A South-Indian household is incomplete without the ubiquitous, heady aroma of filter coffee, or kaapi (as we call it) that ushers you in. It’s the smell that takes me down memory lane – back to my grandparents place, solving Math sums with my grandfather, my attention focused on his slurps rather than my book, and  4 AM weddings.

What makes kaapi different from its counterparts?

The ingredients are minimal – freshly brewed decoction,  boiling milk, and sugar (which is optional). Of course, you have to ensure that you buy the coffee powder from a reliable store (South-Indian preferably, because the retailers are fool proof and  ‘know their shit’). Choosing the right mix can be tricky and it depends on one’s tastes. The perfect blend of roasted and ground coffee beans keeps you craving for more, and turns the likes of me into caffeine addicts.

Here’s the apparatus for creating some magic.

Using a filter has its benefits, be it on Instagram or for brewing coffee – one enhances your selfie while the other awakens your taste buds.

The Internet has no dearth of filter coffee recipes. But don’t forget to

  • take a long whiff of the roasted powder. That’s right. That’s the smell of heaven.
  • appreciate the grains of freshly ground coffee. Hold some in your palm. Watch them slip between your fingers and be hypnotized.
  • make sure the coffee is frothy when served. Coffee without froth is vapid and dull, and will certainly worsen your Monday mornings.
  • serve it in a steel tumbler and davara (Tamil equivalent of a saucer)
  • not add tons of sugar and dilute its flavour . That’s not kaapi. That’s diabetes.
  • savour every sip till the last drop and allow the caffeine to reinvigorate you.

Once you’re hooked to Kaapi, there’s no going back. Punctuate your mornings, afternoons or evenings, summers, monsoons and winters with this elixir. It’s the perfect ice-breaker. The ideal conversation-starter.

F is for Filter Coffee

My theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge is ‘The A to Z of some my favourite things’. Stay tuned for more posts, this April!

E is for Enthusiasm

My mother says I was an enthusiastic kid.  I loved holidays or family-outings, and enjoyed involving myself in the planning process. Of course, that hasn’t really changed over the years.

When it comes to my interests and favourite things, I tend to exhibit and incorporate a lot of fervour. However, it doesn’t necessarily last for long. Sometimes it is easily extinguished by the lack of inspiration. At times, it could be my mood. Sometimes, the lack of participation from others (in a group activity) can douse it.

But there are ways to rekindle it. There are triggers.

My blog had been dormant for the past one year. This was owing to a lot of reasons, one of them being self-criticism. I was convinced that my writing skills had become jaded. I couldn’t look at my blog without feeling a twinge of disappointment, and of nostalgia for those nights devoted to filling up a virtual white box with words. The drafts folder became a dumping ground for partially worded memories, miserable attempts at humour, lackluster paragraphs about anxiety and apologies for having subjected this blog to neglect.

Last month, I found myself reading one of my favourite blogs after ages. I recall reading her posts from the blogging challenge of 2015.  The lucidity of her words infused me with warmth and her writing reflected her enthusiasm. I felt a spark. April was near. I knew I wanted to do this.

Choosing to write about my favourite things has reinforced my passion and motivation to resume an exercise that I had once begun (back in the summer of 2011) as an attempt to journal my thoughts. I know I bring out the best in me when I am zealous. It has always worked for me.

I love that about myself.

I like being in the company of enthusiastic people. My sister and I tend to produce tremendous music when we pool in our creative juices. I’d say we owe that to our enthusiasm. Our zest helps us in our quest for inspiration. Wow, that almost sounded lyrical.

I’d like to end by saying that moderation is the key to everything. (I just suddenly turned that around right?) Over-enthusiasm can be aggravating. But I’ll save that for another post. There’s a term for individuals who cross the limit – enthu cutlets. Go on, google it.

E is for Enthusiasm

My theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge is ‘The A to Z of some my favourite things’. Stay tuned for more posts, this April!

D is for Dogs

For those who know me or know of me, this one’s a no-brainer.

Let me trace back to the early signs of my obsession. My mother has refreshed my memory on many points, of course.

I was five. My grandmother was an ardent follower of Hindi (and Tamil) soaps, out of which ‘Tara’ was one I used to enjoy watching as well. At this point, you must be wondering how on earth did a five-year-old kid comprehend a TV show about a woman protagonist and her complex relationships. Be rest assured that I was least interested in Tara’s doings. It was her pet Pomeranian that had me captivated.

My attention span was directly proportional to the number of scenes involving her dog. My fascination for this fluffy, beady-eyed breed, naturally escalated as time went by. Soon enough, not a morning went by without me having begged my parents to get me a fluffy white dog. My persistence, having reached its peak, finally yielded some results.

They got me a soft toy that resembled a Pomeranian.  That’s right.

*sad background music*

In hindsight, I think they did the most sensible thing that two young parents could have done to pacify their annoying, petulant child. Once I realised that Pomi (that was the most innovative name I could think of), was mute and not real, I began accepting him for who he was. He became the love of my life. The apple of my eye.

Five years later, we visited my granduncle in Bangalore. By then, Pomi had lived a full life and I had to let him go, sadly, owing to my allergies to his fur. That’s when I was introduced to Raja, a majestic German Shepherd, whom I had only seen in photographs. Raja’s bark was ten times worse than his bite. I had presumptuously assumed that he would greet me in a composed manner.  Having a huge dog welcoming me with jumps and barks was intimidating, to say the least. Nevertheless, our friendship blossomed over the next few days and I overcame my fear. When it was time to leave, I couldn’t help but feel sad.

Unfortunately, I never got a chance to meet Raja after that.  Within a few years, post a long battle with arthritis, Raja departed to Rainbow Bridge. I remember staring at his pictures, with a lump in my throat.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,

and we don’t now and never did lie to each other.

So now he’s gone and I buried him,

and that’s all there is to it.

Pablo Neruda

Since then, I have made several canine friends in different parts of the city and elsewhere. It’s funny how I always encounter one wherever I go, the university,  at work, a local coffee-shop, and in some cases even when I’m on vacation.  My locality is full of strays or Indies as I prefer to call them. I am that lucky girl who gets to learn music with a dog beside her for company. My Instagram feed overflows with puppy videos. My friends have names, each with a personality unique to him or her.

I recall a time when I hatched a plan with my friends to adopt a puppy and share him amongst us. Of course, that never materialized. Being a dog-lover in a house full of non-lovers (not haters) is not easy.  It is true that owning a dog comes with its share of big responsibilities. That being said, it doesn’t stop me from fantasizing about having a house full of dogs in the future.

I can go and on because I believe these creatures deserve more love, warmth, words, and kindness than they actually receive. Before I conclude, I have a few questions for my fellow dog-lovers out there.

What is it that makes you melt when you see your canine friend?

Is it the floppy ears?

Is it her soft brown eyes that have the power to absorb all traces of anxiety and depression? Or is it his velvety muzzle that is just so…umm…cute?

It could also be the paws that leave traces of rain, mud and the excitement of having a explored something new.

D is for Dogs

My theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge is ‘The A to Z of some my favourite things’. Stay tuned for more posts, this April!

C is for Chips 

As a kid, I had strict restrictions imposed on my consumption of junk food, thanks to my grandfather. This obviously meant that the menu for my snack box (for school) was usually devoid of Maggi (an Indian brand of noodles), samosas or cake, or wafers, or chips. Biscuits were considered occasionally. I was the kid with upma, poha, or sandwiches in her box, which meant my peers hardly hankered for it. The latter didn’t make me feel better as good food guaranteed traction and popularity back then. Talk about the beginnings of peer pressure.

I used to eye swaying packets of ‘Peppy’ and ‘Uncle Chipps’ hanging at the entrance of grocery stores. For the uninitiated, these are popular Indian brands of potato chips. The only times I would get my hands on them was when I stepped out with my mother. My mother and I share the same love for junk food. The only few times my grandfather would relent was if I scored well in academics, or when I injured myself while playing and began bawling. Ice-cream was a bonus in such circumstances.

Things have, however, changed since then. Buying a packet of chips is no big deal now. My mother is of the opinion that I am eat chips voraciously to make up for their absence in my childhood. It is true for the most part.

Chips have never failed me. They have been my loyal companions during times of stress. The burst of serotonin on popping the first one into my mouth is extraordinary. Crunching on chips is such a pleasant exercise that I find myself indulging in it at least once a week. I recall reading an article about them titled ‘We Hear the Crisp and Taste the Crunch’. Brilliant use of words. Of course, you must think I am quite obsessed to be reading such stuff. Who knows, I am already an addict.

Who would have thought that the mere combination of potatoes (or any other starchy vegetable), salt and oil would create such magic?

C is for Chips

My theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge is ‘The A to Z of some my favourite things’. Stay tuned for more posts, this April!

B is for Beaches

Whenever I feel stressed out of my mind, I try to rewind to the times I spent at a beach.

Our weekend getaway to the coastal town of Diveagar –

We had to walk down a narrow path that led to the beach, from the hotel. It was love at first sight. I couldn’t help but point excitedly at the sea, the way I used to as a kid. Pale sand stretched besides the waves, for miles. I remember grabbing a fistful and watching it slip gracefully between my fingers. I remember stepping into the cool, salty water and squealing in delight as the waves kissed my tired feet at intervals.

A whirlwind trip to Goa almost five years ago –

The year had taken a toll on my family and I. Upon losing my grandparents, we decided to fly to Goa in lieu of celebrating Diwali. It may seem insensitive but we had mourned enough to realize that we needed a break. I knew my grandmother would have loved a vacation. My grandfather would have enjoyed a morning stroll by the beach.

I remember wading knee deep into the sea water and letting the waves splash onto me. I felt my gloom being washed away.  I realized that the sea never holds onto the sand. It lingers by the shore for a bit, savours a few moments and lets go.

A beach is not just about the sea.

It is about long early morning strolls beneath a mauve sky, a gentle breeze erasing the creases on your forehead.

It is about marvelling at the horizon lit orange by the setting sun (I wish life came with background music for a moment like this).

It is about digging your feet into the sand and relishing the sensation.

It is about building castles, akin to the ones that exist in your head.

It is about the air laced with salt and the odour of freshly caught fish.

It is about the feeling of never wanting to leave.

B is for beaches

My theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge is ‘The A to Z of some my favourite things’. Stay tuned for more posts, this April!

A is for Airplanes

It’s 1 A.M.

A woman’s voice rings out loud from the speakers and jolts me out of my nap. My mother hastens me to collect my bags and to keep my boarding pass handy. My father has already begun heading towards a queue lined up near the departure gate. I look at my sister, who seems equally groggy.

As I join my father, I see the shadowy outline of a gigantic aircraft beyond the glass doors. Lights twinkle in the distance. I sense some excitement creeping in. I pull out my smartphone from my pocket to type out a new WhatsApp status. Yes, the world must know that we are about to begin our vacation.

Boarding passes stamped at the gate, we step outside and make our way towards the enormous yet elegant structure. I am amused at my naivety for having underestimated its sheer size and architecture. As we climb up the airstair, I feel my anticipation peaking. Two beautiful women, greet us at the entrance. “Welcome aboard!” they say. I suppress an illogical urge to say  “You too!” and step inside.

We find our seats. I have a small tiff with my sister over who gets to sit by the window. I let her win on realizing that the dark sky is bound to get monotonous. I put on my seat-belt, fiddle with the buttons on the mini screen before me. I am not one for watching the television, but watching movies whilst flying is a different ball-game altogether.

Soon after, a gush of security instructions follows. It is but obvious that the passengers aboard are oblivious to the former. A possibility of technical failure due to turbulence is something no one wishes to acknowledge. I try to pay attention, but in vain.

Within minutes, the aircraft begins to lumber towards the runaway. It’s almost time for my favourite bit. “Cabin crew, please be seated for takeoff” mutters a voice through the speakers. I look outside towards a broad stretch of road, and silently bid the airport goodbye.

The plane shudders, instantly gathering immense speed. My mother shuts her eyes and waits for it to pass. I, on the other hand, feel rejuvenated by the sudden rush of adrenaline.

The prelude to new memories. My favourite bit before jumping headlong into new adventures.

A is for airplanes.

My theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge is ‘The A to Z of some my favourite things’. Stay tuned for more posts, this April!