Netflix is bae

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Something in the Rain

This Korean series on Netflix has my heart. I was all mush and jelly while watching the lead characters. It is the story about Jin-ah and Joon-hee. She is a 35 year old supervisor of the franchises of a coffee chain living with her parents and dating a creep. He is the 22 year old brother of her best friend who works at a gaming company and has returned from the USA after 3 years. They banter. There is chemistry and they fall in love. The build up to their affair is the sweetest thing ever. From being aware of each other’s physical presence to holding hands to their first kiss, it is the kind of foreplay we feel only once in a lifetime. Korean society is very similar to India. So, the age is a factor in the resistance from their family and friends. But the bigger issue is that Joon-hee is from a broken home and Jin-ah’s mother wants her to settle down with someone well connected.

I would highly recommend this series if you are in the mood for something romantic and slow. Sure, the series isn’t perfect but I would ignore everything for more than 16 hours of Joon-hee’s perfect face and smile.

Sacred Games

I was supposed to finish reading the book before the series started but at 900 pages, the book is slow and very detailed. I haven’t progressed beyond the 100th page and was torn between finishing it first or binge watching the series. I wondered how the writers (hats off to Varun Grover) managed to compress 900 pages into 8 episodes of 1 season. So glad it ends at a cliffhanger and I can finish reading the book before the next season.

Of course the series is brilliant. After all, Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane are the directors and producers. It wasn’t going to be anything less than perfect. When something is very, very good, the internet goes into an overdrive finding faults. Here is some of the criticism that has come it’s way:

  • A marathi actor should have been cast instead of Nawazuddin. Can these people please go fuck themselves? Enough with the regionalism. Nawazuddin is perfect and deserves all the accolades coming his way. Who would have thought a dark, ugly actor would get such prominent roles in Bollywood and pull in the crowds? And he has sex scenes. I am just so happy he gets (half) naked onscreen and has sex with so many women.
  • Nawazuddin is only doing gangster roles. Well, what is he supposed to do if nobody is offering him a lead romantic role? By the way, I would watch that movie. He is perfect, ok? Stop criticising him.
  • Radhika Apte is the go-to actress for Netflix and playing the same kind of roles. I love her. I think she is hot and a brilliant actress. She is one of those women I could sit and stare at while she talks non stop. She can do no wrong in my eyes. I loved her in the series. She blends into her character so well that you almost wish she stood out. All you haters, please leave. Just leave. Now.
  • Why didn’t they cast a transgender in Kukoo’s role? I get it. Representation matters and this was a big opportunity for the producers to have sent the right message to the industry. It would have given them good PR for free. But then the argument that only Marathi actors should be cast in Marathi roles stands. Where does it end? Where do you draw the line? Does this mean that a white, straight person can only play roles written for white, straight people? Kubra Sait was brilliant in the role and looked the part. And it was brave of her to play this part. Let’s not take that away from her.
  • The female characters were given a raw deal in the series. This criticism I do agree with. Maybe the book only has males as lead characters and the women are insignificant but the book was published 11 years back. Maybe Vikram Chandra would have added stronger and more central female characters in today’s times. The series wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test (a test which asks if two women in the soap/movie/book talk to each other about anything apart from men). Hopefully, they rectify this in season 2. After the disastrous segment by Anurag Kashyap in Lust Stories, he owes us better female representation in this one.

I can finally go back to reading after ignoring the 3 books am reading currently.


Compartmentalising people

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“Hey, I didn’t know you had a sister or a brother”

“Well, they don’t know you exist either so I guess it’s all even”

On a serious note, I get this ALL THE TIME. “You never talk about your family”. To be fair, I don’t talk about most people in my life. My close friends in Mumbai do not know about the existence about my closest friend in USA and vice versa.

When I was in Bangalore over the weekend, a close friend messaged “What are you doing there on a weekend?” I realised that I have never told him about my close friend who I meet in Bangalore every year. Sure, I hadn’t travelled to the city in 2 years and we weren’t that close earlier so the topic never came up.

I wouldn’t call it compartmentalisation. It is like all these people live in different dimensions and unless their lives are going to intersect, there is no reason for one to know the other person exists. Like, my parents know my friends from school but I can’t just tell them who my friends are now. They would want to know the back story – how we met, where is this person from, what is his/her caste, who are they married to, their jobs etc etc etc. It is easier to pretend I don’t have any friends. Also, maybe I should start by getting KC to meet them first and then other people can be introduced. What say?

Maybe I started doing this when I had to keep my life with KC separate from my life with my parents. And then it spilled into every other sphere. Or maybe this is how it is once you get older. Your flashbacks don’t go back more than 5 years and even then the origin of a conflict has to be in those 5 years.

I met an acquaintance in Bangalore I had a conflict with 11 years back. Thanks to social media we could put the differences aside and find other things in common, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise in real life. The only person I discussed this with was someone who was aware about the context. Telling KC would mean giving him the long backstory which wasn’t even relevant anymore.

Every story of your life isn’t interesting to every person in your life. You have to pick and choose and only introduce them to what fits for them. What they are going to be understanding about. Issues in marriage are only discussed with married friends. Single friends won’t get it. Issues with kids should be discussed with those who have kids. Career problems should be discussed with those who work for a living. Etc etc etc.

Is this manipulation? I don’t know. That isn’t the intention. It isn’t lying or whitewashing either. There is only so much time we spend with our friends having a conversation. There isn’t enough time to tell them everything. And hanging out doesn’t equal having a conversation. They are two very, very different ways of spending time with people. I prefer hanging out alone but love one-on-one conversations with people.


Training in the summers

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Summers have ended so this post does not add any value for this year. But if you are like me, you have already started planning for next year.

The half marathon season starts in autumn, in the month of October. Till September, the high humidity levels make the weather quite unpleasant. Specially in places like Delhi NCR where rainfall is lower than other parts of the country.

If you plan to run a half marathon, the training starts before June. If you are beginner, the earlier you start the better it is. The summer months are crucial training months. And as a runner in India, you have to get accustomed to all weather conditions. After all, how many good weather months do we have in a year?

When I moved to Mumbai 2 years back during the monsoons, I asked runners on Twitter if they run during monsoons. In Mumbai the monsoons last for 4 months and the rains are incessant. It never stops raining. Not for a minute. What do runners do? They run, of course. Without or without rain ponchos. But definitely with a plastic cover for their phones.

I started my training regime after a break of few months (due illness and injury) at a pace of 8 mins/km. Though I wasn’t trying to go faster and all runs were less than 10 km, the pace went up to 7.5 mins/km. When the good weather rolls around, a slight push will take me to 7 mins/km and even faster.

If I would have waited for good weather to start training, the effort required to get to this pace would be double.

But weather isn’t a priority for regular runners. If I move to a country where it snows, I will figure out a way to run during winters. It will be hard but if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.

Fuck easy.

The only run I regret is the one I didn’t get out of bed for.


Mann’s evil cookies

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I am not a big cookies fan. Like, cookies aren’t a food item you could bribe me with. I don’t even walk down the biscuits aisle in a store. On Sunday, Mann handed me a birthday gift – blue cheese cookies “inspired” from Nigella Lawson’s book that I gifted her. This was O Henry’s ‘The Gift of Magi’ in reverse.

(Mann modified the recipe because that is what an expert baker she is now).

I looked at the box of the cookies and gleefully told her am off sugar, while pouring extra condensed milk into my cold brew coffee at Perch. She rolled her eyes, made a snappy comment about the amount of sugar in condensed milk and told me the cookies are made of blue cheese. “Meh”, I thought. They are just cookies.

I came home and bit into one out of politeness and all the happy memories of my childhood came flashing by. I like cheese. I really, really like cheese. The best breakfast buffets are one which serve different kinds of cheese. I would hoard Amul cheese cubes as a kid and eat them over the course of days and weeks. That is how (pesudo) Gujju I am. The cookies touched a raw pulse and I realised I had to ration them out and test my adult will power. They were too many to binge eat in one day and could end up ruining my daily nutrition for days together.

2 nights back I asked KC to bring me 1 cookie. “Bring only 1 cookie. Not more. Just one. I don’t trust myself around the box. The box is quite pretty too, which means I have to return it”. KC brought the whole box to me and I binged on 3 of them. The box had to be physically pushed away to resist them. Normally, I can eat a bite of something delicious and not be tempted by more. I am all for eating whatever you want in small portions. But there is something very evil about these cookies. They are like the apple Eve ate. The first bite is all it takes to ruin your life. As long as I can resist that first bite, I am good.

So far, it has been 48 hours since I was tempted to consume the cookie. If I get to the weekend with similar control, I shall be allowed to treat myself to one cookie. Of course, someone will have to physically restrain me from consuming the 2nd and the 3rd. I am not even ashamed to admit that I could possibly eat them till I puke.

I am afraid to shag these days because the only porn in my mind will be these cookies. Are there any cookies de-addiction centres? Please share contacts.

All this drama for a box of cookies. Everyday am surprised when I come home and my partner hasn’t packed his bags and moved out of the house and my life.


Nostalgia

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  • For the early morning rides to Peddar road, spotting the sunrise on the freeway
  • For being just another faceless person in the crowd
  • The raindrops banging against my windowpane. No worries about how I will get home.
  • The chai at Mee Maratha, a 10 mins respite from the drudgery
  • Wine and late night chats with best friend. The darkness inside mingling with the darkness outside her window.
  • A lonely dinner at LPQ
  • Empty gyms and friendly faces
  • Long drives to and from work, too used to traffic to even raise an eyebrow
  • Local train rides to Sobo to catch a play at NCPA
  • Late night hangouts at Worli sea face. Something magical about the sea trapped against the city. Just like all of us.
  • Friendly faces at home, a balm for a lonely day
  • Offsites with awesome people. Goa… Madh island… Gir… Karjat…
  • Meeting bestie in Jabalpur. Long drives in Ahmedabad. Morning runs at Baroda/Bhopal. Lonely hotels. Reliving memories in Rajkot. Twitter friend in Indore.
  • Chai and gossip breaks near office
  • Always, always, always having a friend within a few miles

Zoomcar

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Despite all the negative reviews online, we decided to try Zoomcar on our recent trip from Bangalore to Coorg because some friends recommended it. I was very impressed. The booking process was hassle free and without any manual intervention.

This is how it works:

  • Go to the website or app and pick the car. You have to book basis the number of km, which includes the price of fuel. Depending on the car, the prices vary. The prices are lower than what I would have paid to a local vendor for a cab with a driver or to Ola/Uber. I hate hiring drivers for long drives. Hotels don’t have a room for the drivers to stay in so they end up sleeping in cars and may not even be able to manage food. I feel guilty because of my privilege and avoid hiring cabs as much as possible. Plus, I love driving.
  • Upload your license. The pic on my license is not very clear and Zoomcar rejected it. I gave them my passport copy and that worked.
  • I went to the address to pick up the car. You have the option of getting it delivered but there are extra charges and the number of cars are limited. The drop off point is same as the pick up point and I wish there was an option to drop it off next to the airport. So much more convenient.
  • When I reached the basement of Garuda Mall where there is a pick up and drop off point for Zoomcar, I had to open the app and check the exterior of the car. This is important so you don’t get charged later for scratches on the car.
  • Once I ticked it off, the car unlocked through the app. The starting km reflect on the app and are automatically updated.
  • The keys and documents were in the dashboard. Off we went.
  • On our return, the same process was followed. I was charged extra for 1 hour’s delay in dropping it off. I had the option of extending the booking but forgot to do it. There were additional charges for the extra km too.
  • I uploaded the fuel bill on the app and got the refund within 2 days which was a pleasant surprise. No follow up!!!
  • All in all, we paid around 9k for 480-500 km of travel and kept the car for 3-4 days.

Zoomcar also has the option of dropping the car off at another location. Like, you could drive from Bangalore to Mangalore and drop off the car at Mangalore.

This isn’t a sponsored post. Innovative businesses which identify latent needs interest me. The number of times I wanted to drive from Mumbai to Goa but didn’t have a car. We had even planned to drive from Gurgaon to Mumbai if KC moved to the city. It didn’t make sense to drive the car from Gurgaon to Mumbai and back when I shifted back.

I am definitely going to use their services again.

 


An Ode

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Lilly passed away last evening. Everyone who knew her is in shock. She was an ex colleague and I don’t remember having a conversation with her after 2010. By the time I moved to the Head Office in Mumbai, she had moved to Paris and when she moved back I had already quit the organisation. But everyone who knew her, even as an acquaintance, is speechless.

The words that come to my mind when I think about Lilly are happy, always smiling, beautiful grey eyes, sweet, pretty, exuberant and someone who brightened up any room she walked into.

I don’t remember the first time I met Lilly. But by the time she joined the branch office in Mumbai in Saki Vihar, I already knew her. We went on 1 or 2 lunches along with the RSM. I complimented her purple nail paint and she told me it was from Inglot and a gift. Until then, I hadn’t bought a purple nail paint or walked into an Inglot store. But after that, I did. She had organised a cricket screening in office on a Saturday during the World cup which I managed to bunk.

She was someone who was happy to be alive. Which is why the news of her last stage cancer and passing away at such a young age comes as a shock to all of us.

This also puts into perspective all those people who are unhappy with their lives and don’t treasure what they have. Including me.

There is one life. Only one. And it can end any day. Nobody would choose a painful death over a painful life. It is worse when the choice is between death and a beautiful life you are happy with. We don’t get to choose.

I hope Lilly’s parents, her husband and 8 month old baby find the strength through this.


You are officially old…

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… when…

  1. People don’t call you at midnight because they know you treasure 8 hours of sleep at night and are rarely up at such ungodly hours
  2. You use the discount coupons brands sent you as a gift to buy much needed underwear. And throw in something slutty and racy too because there is no dress code for bras and chaddis. Yet.
  3. It has been another year of saving time and energy not having to reply to birthday wishes from inconsequential people by removing the date from facebook.
  4. The only people who called on birthday are those who call every year and bookmarked the date on their calendar before social media. Thanks to my birthday I get to speak to my favourite people on the phone once in a year.
  5. You woke up with regret, dread, disappointment and existential crisis gnawing at your soul. Not at the years gone by but for what is coming next. At still being alive on this planet.
  6. You decided it is time to update CV.
  7. When partner asks you what you want for birthday, you can’t think of anything money can buy. He does all the household chores without complaining to make you happy.
  8. You order a small piece of pastry instead of a whole cake to celebrate. I guess this is what growing up means. Being more boring than usual.

The June Trip 

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June and Diwali are when we take major trips in the year. Smaller trips dot the rest of the year. And we avoid long weekends because every place is overcrowded. Instead we enjoy the empty city by exploring it. I mean, the point of a vacation is to avoid people so why travel when everyone else is going to? One trip a year is for Goa. 

This year I have been stressed and overworked and in no mood to plan a trip. There was a part of me that contemplated skipping the tradition this year. It isn’t like KC is going to care. We can always make up for it next year. It is just a birthday. Maybe postpone the trip to August. 

Another part of me was horrified. Would work get in the way of tradition? Would I go to office on my birthday? Gasp The horror. It isn’t like things will fall apart if I take a few days off. Ok, maybe they will. But then if someone is indispensable, something is truly wrong with the organization’s structure. Are the stakes higher this year? Sure. Will they be higher next year? Most probably, yes. 

Who do I want to be as a professional? 

Overworked, underpaid, over stressed with no time for vacations and extra curricular interests? 

OR

Overworked, underpaid, over stressed but finds time for vacations and extra curricular interests?

We debated on the locations. It was too late to book an international trip. I can go to Himachal any time. It would be raining in Kerala so we wouldn’t be able to explore it. North East required too much planning. It was too late to book a safari at Bandhavgarh or Kaziranga or other national parks. Goa was backup incase nothing else worked out. Treks were out unless I wanted to get divorced. We zeroed in on Coorg. It has been on my wish list since Manipal days. It also coincided with my work trip to Bangalore. 

Finding a good place to stay was the biggest challenge. Most places in Coorg are freaking expensive and above our budget. Most of them were booked out. Basis recommendations from friends on fb, Tamara sounded very inviting. (Thank you AC for the suggestion). 

I managed to get a great deal on Makemytrip and our trip fell into place. Please note that MMT offers different rates to different people. When KC tried to make the booking he was getting charged an additional 5k/night (= 15k additional for the trip). A few hundred rupees are fine but a few thousand rupees are humongous. I am cost conscious and make all my bookings in advance while KC books everything at the last minute. He has probably been getting charged higher for all online bookings and his shopping. This means all hotel bookings in the future have to be done by me. Being organised only has downfalls. 

This was the most hastily planned, last minute trip. Till 24 hours before the trip, we had no idea how we were going to travel from Bangalore to Coorg. Take a local cab? Ola outstation? Zoomcar?

Somehow everything fell into place and we are enjoying the rains of Coorg. 

I am going to be back at work relaxed, refreshed and looking forward to the slavery. Because it pays my bills for awesome vacations. Not a bad payoff. Now I have to remember that for 8 hours every weekday. 


Couch to 10 km

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It has been 6 months since I ran a 10 km. Don’t ask me why. There was no plan to run a 10 km today. In fact, all the circumstances were against the run. 

I slept at midnight.

There was no way I would wake up at 6 am.

I hadn’t decided which route to run on. 

My plans with runner friends were tentative. Since am not a flaky person I make plans only if am going to turn up. 

There was no question of running a 10 km when I went to bed last night. All I knew was that I was getting a workout in, either at the gym or on the road. 

After an uneasy sleep filled with work related nightmares I woke up at 6.30 am. Hanging in the purgatory between sleep and wakefulness is the worst state of mind. Rising early is a habit and going back to sleep was out of the question. I brushed my teeth and opened the window. The cool breeze melted away any leftover sleep. With the weather on my side, I laced on therunning shoes. It was too late to drive to Delhi. The plan was to run around Galleria. Maybe 2 loops which would be 8 km. Or maybe stop after an hour, at 7.5 km. The recent 4 km was a struggle so 8 km seemed impossible. 

As much I feared the long distance, missing the run and the resultant bad mood was my bigger fear. I missed one crucial point, that I genuinely like running and being outdoors. Nothing gives me greater happiness than spreading a Sunday morning sweating on the open roads or in a park. 

At 2 km, I changed theroute and headed towards Leisure Valley. Why stop at 8 km? Why not just get a 10 km done? An additional 16 mins wouldn’t kill me. 2 loops inside Leisure Valley took me to 6 km and I decided to head back towards home which was 2.5 km away. 

This is why I prefer straight routes over loops. You just run away from home for 5 km and the 10 km will become mandatory. Better yet, don’t carry any money and you will be forced to run, walk or crawl back home. Unfortunately, in Gurgaon nothing is that far away. Delhi is less than 5 km from where I stay. Oooh, it has been years since Gurgaon to Delhi rote has been explored. Must try it soon. 

I completed 10 km so comfortably that am wondering why I was so afraid. 

So many barriers are in our mind. During the climbing class yesterday, I was stuck halfway towards the top. My mind said “Can’t do it. Too hard. Not fit enough. Come back in a few weeks” but I didn’t let go because it was class 3. I couldn’t pretend to be a beginner and let go without at least trying. If I wasn’t letting go, the only option was to move up. That doesn’t work in the corporate world where it is better to let go instead of being stuck somewhere. Please don’t apply any of the fitness advice to your jobs. Am not responsible for the consequences. 

Anyway, I moved up the wall till my hands were too sore to hold on, which was near the top. Fitness is less about the body and more about your mind. I ran a 10 km after 6 months not because my body felt up to it but because my mind convinced my body that it could be done and it should stop being a chicken. Every morning that I trained myself to get out of bed early morning on weekends is what helped me today. 

I’d rather be the person who can and does run 10 km every Sunday morning than someone who woke up hungover or one who spent Saturday night on meaningless late night conversation. Our time on this planet is limited and every minute is a choice on how we decide to spend it.