April: The bad and the good C

I wake up without an alarm at 7:30am to a beautiful April morning with pleasant weather. April has always been one of my favourite months in New Zealand. April is about pristine blue skies, wearing shades of red, clicking pictures at The Domain, bidding farewell to beaches, resuming the use of my thermos coffee mug after months, listening to Sid Sriram’s songs on loop, and the list goes on.

However, the first few days of the month are mired in gloom – a prescient warning from the last week of March. The tension brewing between my partner and I reaches a crescendo and almost makes me lose my voice. Cruel words are thrown around carelessly – no, I will not elaborate – but the damage is done. I tell him I need space. We don’t speak for over a day which is a lot given we converse everyday without fail. This simple act of self-preservation is enough to elicit an apology and the self-accountability he owes me. We continue to tread on unstable ground over subsequent weeks, but he seems to realize that I won’t put up with him lashing out at me.

Meanwhile, H and I say goodbye to daylight savings which automatically translates to waking up “early” and decent mealtimes. It means familiar sunsets at 6pm that I am accustomed to. But April weather keeps us bamboozled by oscillating between migraine-inducing hot afternoons to breezy evenings. We also begin to experiment with HelloFresh: a service that delivers a set of meal-kits spanning a week at our doorstep. Not only are their recipes refreshingly different, but also delicious enough to have us temporarily suspend our takeaway habits.

As for consuming content, my sister and I watch a film adaptation of Sachin Kundelkar’s Cobalt Blue on Netflix, which disappoints us deeply given its one of our favourite books. Soon after, I end up returning a borrowed copy of The Sapiens (by Yuval Noah Harari) to the library after having struggled to keep a reading schedule. I purchase a Kindle version with hopes that I’ll eventually catch up.

Teaching gains momentum; I diligently make up for lost research hours by working over the weekend. As I skim through the material provided for the quantitative biology labs, I find myself getting genuinely fascinated with the subject. Moreover, I begin proof-reading another manuscript from the research group I was previously a part of only to get frustrated with typos and a general lack of referencing. Overall, I realize that I thrive when my schedule is packed, despite bad weather and period cramps.

Easter arrives and brings with it a much deserved respite from work. H and I take a ferry to Waiheke Island where we beach hop. Unfortunately we end up not indulging in the one thing the island is renowned for – wine. Most vineyards are either completely booked or closed due to staff shortage. Nonetheless, we have a great day and click tons of pics. To top this, we successfully manage to tick some items off our Easter itinerary – a fun photo-shoot at The Domain and a live in-home recording session.

Two days later I wake up with an alarming tickle in my throat. And that’s when our April mood transitions into something that we least expect. The tickle snowballs into a dry cough, spells of mild fever, exhaustion and body ache over the next day. I suspect it’s The Dreaded C but the RAT kit says otherwise. Needless to say, H’s health takes a downturn along with mine. I jot down my symptoms to keep track of my health and promptly inform Healthline. Following another night of disturbed sleep with chills and high fever, I finally test positive for Covid with H following me hot on the heels.

We are thankful for each other’s company and for friends who deliver groceries and medicines at our doorstep. We gradually recover over the next eight to ten days. There are two noticeable side-effects of the virus, one being repulsion to coffee – which turns out to be temporary, thankfully – and an aversion to Instagram. Over the course of my illness, I consume a lot of garbage content on the interwebz that is for the most part, pointless Bollywood gossip from one of my favourite subreddits. One of my guilty pleasures involves following up on Indian celeb gossip. I watch Tanmay Bhat’s silly vlogs and reaction videos on YouTube. I binge on old episodes from Koffee with Karan to distract myself. H and I binge on a zombie apocalypse centered K-drama – All Of Us Are Dead. Memes keep me going through my sickness and I’m ever so grateful to them for lightening up my otherwise bleak days.

On the day our isolation period is over – which almost coincides with the end of this eventful month – we wake up to exciting news: SPCA has an adult cat up for fostering. The pleasant timing of the opportunity makes us take up their offer to bring home a gorgeous black beauty named Hannah. We are besotted by her. She’s everything you would want your cat to be – cuddly, sweet and absolutely adorable!

And so the good C brings April to a close.

O is for Order

This post is a glimpse into the life of a control freak that’s me.

My dad loves tidying up the house to the extent of aggravating other members in his vicinity. The bed has to be immaculate, our cupboards uncluttered and the floor spotless. The word ‘filthy’ does not exist in his dictionary. My mother, unlike my dad, isn’t a stickler for cleanliness, but staunchly believes in orderliness. I have probably inherited both their traits; not only do I keep my room spic and span, but I’m also big on check-lists.

I’m quite particular when it comes to organizing my own stuff, right from my clothes and socks to my music play-lists and personal directories in my laptop. I cannot tolerate disarray or chaos. The satisfaction that sweeps over me after I clear up my study is unlike any other. I may hoard stuff, but I do know when to get rid of junk. Likewise, I don’t hold back when I’m in my best friend’s messy bedroom. That’s probably crossing the line, but okay, whatever. Talk about clutter sharpening one’s reflexes.

“Clutter is symptomatic of delayed decision making.”

– Cynthia Kyriazis

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give my indecisiveness 6.  I deducted four points for my decent organizing capabilities that help me keep the former at bay.

I am also a lover of symmetry. These may seem like symptoms of OCD to you, but I can assure you I’m okay, you guys. I enjoy arranging items in order, my favorite being crayons and color pencils. The resulting color gradient is indeed quite gratifying! Besides this, I like sorting cutlery into sets. There’s nothing more pleasing than a table well-laid out with delicate glass bowls partnered with their corresponding plates. Sigh.

I have often wondered why I gravitate towards order and perfect proportions. Why does a photograph with good composition appeal to me so much? Why do I love henna designs with symmetrical motifs? Why am I always so hooked to well-arranged music?

The following quote probably attempts to answer my questions –

“I discovered that my obsession for having each thing in the right place, each subject at the right time, each word in the right style, was not the well-deserved reward of an ordered mind, but just the opposite: a complete system of pretense invented by me to hide the disorder of my nature.”

– Gabriel García Márquez

O is for Order

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!

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!

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!

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!

Blogging from A-Z challenge theme reveal

I gave this is a lot of thought. Should I? Should I not? Will I leave it incomplete like last time (two years ago to be precise). The only time I did manage to finish it, was the first time I took part in it.

What is it? What am I talking about?

Yes, yes. Blogging from A-Z challenge! *drum roll*

The name is pretty self-explanatory but for those who want details, here goes – I’ll be writing something new each day, starting April 1 excluding Sundays (the fourth Sunday being included, however) till the month ends. Day 1  is for  “A”,  Day2 for “B” and so on . It is exciting for the most part, though a writer’s block may not be surprising for those (like me), who don’t have their posts planned in advance.

A theme is not mandatory, but I love themes and they help me channel my thoughts better. So without further ado, let me reveal what I have in my mind for this year’s challenge –

thmrevel

The A-Z of some of my favourite things. 

It may not be the most original or unique theme, but it’s something I have been wanting to explore for a long, long time. Why? Because, the onset of adulthood has me enveloped in gloom and anxiety. Those who STILL read this almost dormant blog of mine, would know the kind of things I have written about over the past two years or so.

The negativity needs to end. My blog needs to reawaken.

*dramatic pause*

Jokes apart, I need to up my time management skills and be in touch with my writing skills. And importantly, I gotta to learn to love myself a little more. I want to make myself happy. This could probably be that opportunity to reacquaint myself with the things I love. These things can range from food, items, personal belongings, words, actions, or even stuff that isn’t necessarily tangible.

For all those kind readers who gave my blog a chance way back in 2012, thank you. For those who are new to my virtual space here’s a link  to what I wrote – https://akprowling.wordpress.com/category/sounds-of-the-soul/

The countdown begins!!