The Science of Stamping

It’s hard to believe that I only got my first pedicure about five or six years ago, because it feels like I’ve been obsessed with nails and nail polish and nail art for a lot longer than that. (By the way, pedicures are EVIL, because once you get one, unpedicured feet start looking like the worst things in the world, even though they seemed perfectly fine before.) I wasn’t so much about the manicures, not because I didn’t like to do them, but because it seemed wasteful to spend so much money on something that wasn’t as difficult (feet are just gnarly and difficult to reach) and was actually a great activity for stress-relief.

So, once I started doing my own manicures (I call them manicures, but I never did any of the important stuff like cleaning, filing or cuticle removal, I just cut my nails and painted them), I started building up a collection of polishes. Now, I’m cheap, so rather than investing in two bottles of expensive polish, I would get ten smaller bottles of less high-profile brands, just so I would have more colours to experiment with. I was also, of course, always on the lookout for sales, and the nails section would be the first place I’d waltz off to everytime I entered a health and beauty store. Soon enough, I needed a proper, strong bag to hold my possessions:

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Then, as I started getting more regular with painting my nails, I started watching YouTube and Instagram videos of people who did nail art and got really, really interested. Nail art has progressed massively since I first got into it. Back then, it was mostly just dotting tools and chevron strips, which would result in designs like this:

But then stamping came into the picture, and boy, oh boy, was it game-changing. Stamping is amazing. There’s a whole science to it, and like all science, it requires plenty of experimentation and trial and error to sort out the kinks and get it right. Honestly, bless YouTube and the nail art community for all the enlightenment they provide to budding stampers, because without all those tutorial videos, I would be nowhere.

I thought I’d elaborate on nail stamping a bit here, mostly because I find it so fascinating, and I figured a few others who haven’t been exposed to it yet might too. This is all the junk I get out before I get started:

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This is my experimental setup, consisting of my nail polishes, remover, cotton swabs and my stamping kit, with stampers, scrapers, stamping plates and stamping polishes. Most of these things I bought very cheaply off various online stores, and they’ve been very worthwhile purchases.

These are the steps I follow:

1. Paint my nails. I use a base coat first to protect my nails from stains, then apply a maximum of two coats of polish. The good polishes are opaque on the first coat itself. Any more than two, and the nails take exponentially longer to dry, which means there’s a higher chance of them getting smudged or smooshed. (Hot tip: paint your nails during the day. I have had several nice coats of polish ruined by bedsheet imprints because of painting them an hour before bedtime.) For this post, I used Dabbler from Sally Hansen’s Xtreme Wear collection.

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2. Wait. This is the hardest part for me, because I’m always in a rush to move on to the more fun stamping stuff. But the base needs to dry fully so the stamping doesn’t smush it, so this is a good time for me to just put on a show on Netflix and while away some time. When I have the time, I wait a whole day before I stamp, but a couple of hours should usually be enough. (This is also the time when I feel the irresistible need to stick my hand in bags, operate delicate things and basically do everything but sit still.)

3. Time to stamp! For this, I need a stamping plate, a stamper, a scraper, stamping polish and latex. I use the mechanical pencil-like thing to pick up the cotton swabs doused in remover so I don’t have to get my hands on them and risk getting the polish off.

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Stamping polish is thicker than regular polish, so it applies opaquely and picks up designs well. A stamping plate and stamper work in the same way regular ink stampers and moulds do. I paint over my chosen design with the stamping polish, scrape off the excess, pick up the print on my stamper, and stamp it onto my nail. I paint a latex coat around my nails so I can peel off the excess paint after I’m done. (Big thanks to my cousin for helping film these videos!)

Then it’s lather, rinse, repeat for the other nails, a top coat over everything, and voila, all done! (Not pictured: the mess after the process is completed and the 374 times something or the other goes wrong.)

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Rain Rain

(Not all post titles can be clever, okay?)

It’s starting to rain here in Bangalore. Light to moderate showers in the past few days have brought some much-needed relief from the heat (and power cuts along with it, but we’ll focus on the good here), and I can already feel my mood lightening. I’m no stranger to rain. In fact, I’m not used to going this long without rain, or to the showers being as light as they have been so far. All through my life, bar a few years here and there, I’ve lived in cities where the rains have had character and been associated with specific feelings and emotions.

My early memories of rain are of the showers in Bombay. For a few years, I remember it starting to rain exactly on June 1st, as though the monsoons were following some sort of strict timetable. School also usually began on June 1st, which meant that for a long time, the back-to-school excitement of buying stationery, wrapping books in brown paper and tailoring new uniforms was associated with the smell of impending rain in the air. Of course, as lovely as those first showers felt – they were cleansing, in a way, both to the environment and to the mind – it was never as romantic actually being in them. There would be puddles, there would be sludge and slush on the roads. Umbrellas would be rendered pretty much useless because of the strong winds. Even though we were allowed to wear ‘rainy chappals’ to school (plastic sandals or shoes that could dry quickly after we trudged through ankle-deep water stagnating on the school grounds), it wasn’t fun squelching around and leaving wet prints everywhere. It would take time getting anywhere because the roads and the traffic would be worse than usual. At home, we couldn’t go out to play as much in the evenings, and after a while, the perpetual dampness would start to get annoying. Still, the rains were an essential part of Bombay life, even if they only lasted a few months. The city just wouldn’t have been the same without them.

When I moved to Singapore, I was expecting heat (what with it being so close to the equator), but not rain. In fact, I got plenty of both. Singapore is one of those “carry your umbrella all year long” kind of cities. It’s also the kind of city where a bright, sunny, clear-sky morning can turn into an overcast afternoon in a matter of hours, where it’s possible to need to switch on your lights at noon because it’s become so dark inside. Singapore, of course, was much more manageable in the rain – barely any sludge, good drainage system – but it was still nicer to be indoors when it started to pour. Sometimes it would rain so hard, you wouldn’t be able to see anything beyond 10 feet, let alone the horizon. Some of my favourite memories of the rain involve sitting in the living room of my 19th-floor house, drinking tea and doing my paint-by-numbers as the cool breeze blew in through the balcony and rattled all the windows.

Unfortunately, my offices have all been in windowless spaces, so unless it rained to or from work or when I was home, I would often miss out on the showers, only realising when I stepped out that it had actually poured that day. Sometimes, of course, it would rain so heavily we would hear the thunder indoors, and even that simple sound, minus any visuals, could put me in a more relaxed mood than I was before. There was a brief period of time when I was working from home when I got to both see the rain through my windows and hear the pitter-patter of rain form a sort of white-noise background to my work (even through my headphones), and it was positively heavenly.

I’m back to working in an indoor, windowless office now, and I don’t live on the 19th floor anymore, but I’m hopeful that I will still get to experience the romance of a lazy, rainy day here in Bangalore, complete with hot tea, pakodas and a good book. Come on, Bangalore, don’t let me down.

The Quinn Quandary

(If you watch Homeland and are not caught up with the latest season, be warned, here be spoilers.)

I wasn’t always the cool, level-headed, detached TV-watcher I am today. Back in my youth, I was part of the what is called “the fandom”, the many-headed beast that exists for every show and series, made up of fans that take characters and plotlines… well, too seriously. Most people, by the time they’ve watched a complete season of a show, have formed at least some sort of attachment to it. They have their favourite characters, the ones they don’t care about, the plotlines they enjoy and hope to see more of, and the ones they could just do without. Most people can also drop shows when they stop feeling invested or when the quality of the writing goes down. Fandoms are where that attachment is hugely intensified, made of people who not only have favourite characters and plotlines, but get genuinely angry or upset when they are not done justice.

Now, a big part of television is character deaths. Game of Thrones might have made it a big thing, but shows were killing off beloved characters long before anyone got attached to the Starks. These days, it’s a way to raise hype, to change a show dramatically and give it new direction, and it’s almost always accompanied by fandom drama. The leads on a show are usually safe (although even that is being challenged these days, RIP Ned), but every other character is fair game. Back when I was watching television hardcore (that adjective sounds extreme, but I swear it’s justified), I remember spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about whether my favourite characters were going to get killed off (somehow I never got attached to the leads) and preemptively getting angry about it if it seemed like a show was heading in that direction.

Back in my days of fandom, a favourite character getting killed off meant I was as good as done with the show. Looking back now, I think it reveals a little bit about how and why I watched the things I did. For every show I watched, I found a character I liked (I only allowed myself one favourite per show) and grew attached to the point that my continuing to watch the show was dependent not so much on the plot, but on how much of this character I got to see on a weekly basis. This, of course, meant that the minute this character was killed off, my interest in the show immediately plunged to zero and I had nothing left to stay invested in. This clashed directly with my being a completionist, which meant that I hated, hated, leaving a series unfinished. I would therefore hate-watch these shows to their bitter ends, angry at the writers for the direction they’d taken and angry at myself for not being able to just stop watching.

I’m a much more relaxed TV watcher now. I don’t watch nearly the volume I used to, and when I find my interest level dipping, I drop shows like hot potatoes, because I just don’t have the time or energy to watch something that doesn’t give me joy. That completionist streak is gone – it’s been a very long time since I followed a series through to its end. The shows I pick to watch these days also reflect my new, relaxed policy – they’re usually plot-heavy (so the interest sits not so much with a particular character as it does with an overarching story), with an ensemble of characters I either like equally or am ambivalent about in general, because the plot is much more interesting than any one of them in particular. Of course, I still have my favourites on a couple of shows, but the attachment is not so ride-or-die.

Or so I thought until – and here be the spoilers – they killed off one of my favourite characters on Homeland, Quinn, after putting him through the wringer for the entire season. In a way, I’m glad the torture is done – they were just piling the hurt on the poor guy. However, I feel my interest in the show has now dropped several notches, and that’s despite my really liking the lead, Carrie, and the actress who plays her. On the one hand, I hadn’t expected to feel emotional about Quinn’s death, but I do, and that makes me feel like my teenage self again. On the other hand, I feel obligated to continue watching on behalf of my grown-up self, who cares more about plot and storytelling than such juvenile things as the presence or absence of a particular (handsome) character (who had great, unresolved chemistry with my other favourite, SIGH). On the third hand, being a grown-up television watcher means I can drop a show whenever I want because life is too short to spend on things you don’t enjoy anymore.

My, oh, my, what a quandary. How ever will I get myself out of this quagmire?

Punstars and Pundits

About two years ago, tired of turning to Facebook every single time I was bored, and sick of scrolling listlessly through articles I didn’t want to read, I removed the Facebook app on my phone. I figured I could check the website if I needed to, and that not having it handy on my phone would curb the addiction somewhat. I was right. I stopped checking Facebook often, and subsequently, I stopped posting as well. I had underestimated how dependent I’d grown on being able to post photos directly from my mobile, so when I stopped using the app, I stopped putting up pictures, and soon everything else also declined. These days, I only use Facebook for the contacts, to be able to get in touch with people whose phone numbers I don’t have (and to allow people to get in touch with me for the same reason).

For the most part, I’m happy with the baggage I’ve shed. I don’t really miss Facebook. Instagram has filled the need for pictures quite nicely, and I get my (relevant) news from all over the internet anyway. The only thing I do miss is interacting with people in the comments section, that too in a very specific kind of post. For a brief period in 2014, my Facebook wall became the hub of what I now refer to as “pun battles”, where something innocuous I would post would attract the punstars and the pundits among my friends and unleash a slew of punny comments. Myself, Sayesha and a few more friends were regular features on these posts (every other comment would be one of us), but my favourite part was always when someone random would sashay in, make a single high-class pun and waltz out in style. I go back to these posts once in a while to give myself a little chuckle, but I figured putting some screenshots over here would make them much more accessible for the future. (Excuse the terrible editing – I wanted to blur out the names.)

It all started with an innocent link to a pun battle on Buzzfeed (article is over here if you want a laugh), but some of us were feeling competitive already:

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Almost a full year later, I made a momentous discovery at work:

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Soon after, I ate something suspect:

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Then this happened:

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The last pun battle happened a while ago (I guess you can only take Russian humour so far):

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I only have one thing to say: take me back to Punderland, please!

Of Options and Opportunities

How much of our life is defined by opportunities we get and how much by the options we choose? So many of the decisions of our youth tend to be out of our hands – where we live and grow, where we study, what we study, what we pursue as hobbies, who our friends are. And then we mature into adults and suddenly, every decision is ours to make, every option leading to its own consequence, every opportunity a chance to turn our lives one way or the other.

Sometimes I think about all the nodes in my life at which I’ve had to make a decision and wonder what it would be like if I’d chosen another option, pursued another opportunity. What if I’d stayed in India to study instead of going to Singapore? A part of me thinks I’d be less mature than I am now, having seen less of the world and done less by myself, but maybe living with my parents for longer would have given me more discipline and made my life more ordered. What if I’d gone to Singapore, but studied Arts instead of Science? I would have had a happier time in university, but what would my job prospects have been like? If I hadn’t ever taken up teaching, would I ever have been able to appreciate having a job I truly enjoyed? What would life be like now if I had decided to marry and/or have children earlier in life? What will come of my decision to give up my life in Singapore and come back to India?

In the end, I believe that all things happen for a reason. It’s cheesy, but it’s what gets me through life without worrying about what-ifs, without second-guessing every decision I make, without drowning in regret. Hindsight is always 20/20. It’s always going to be easy to look back and see a bad decision for what it is. But what’s also worth remembering is the fact that every good thing that’s happened in my life has also been because of the decisions I’ve taken. I’ve met awesome people, I’ve gone to wonderful places, I’ve done things I’ve enjoyed, all because my decisions took me down a certain path in life.

I have to give credit where it’s due – Lady Luck has mostly been on my side. Yes, there have been hurdles, but nothing I haven’t been able to overcome. I don’t think I can overstate how much luck and fate play a part in making sure things turn out the way we want them to. Sometimes, all the good decision-making in the world can’t change a bout of bad luck. And recognising that, in my opinion, plays a big role in helping us make peace with the hand life deals us.

So, all in all, I think I’m doing pretty well in terms of dealing with options. What I need to work on is recognising opportunities and seizing them. I tend to get complacent about life when things settle down, I take things for granted. I don’t like change (or rather, change that might yield negative results), so I err on the side of coasting along until a wave knocks me off course. I’m learning now to keep my eyes open, to not just look for stuff only when I absolutely have to, but to have my finger on the pulse for new opportunities, to not be afraid when it comes time to grab those opportunities and change my life, one way or another.

It’s a work in progress.

Netflix Netflux

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that everyone who enjoys TV and movies has welcomed the entry of Netflix as a worldwide, legal entertainment platform. The young ones will never know how difficult it was to watch international media before the days of paid streaming, but as a connoisseur of American and British television from a very young age, I remember having to jump through hoops to watch anything decent, back in the dark ages before the internet. Before streamable speeds were a thing, we had only the TV and local networks, which either didn’t air the stuff being shown overseas or aired them three or four seasons late. (This is probably why every Indian who grew up in the ’90s can quote Friends from memory, because it was one of the very few American shows that was played non-stop on local TV.) Then the internet blew up and illegal pirating started, and it hasn’t really stopped since then.

I think 90% of the people I know have watched something (if not most things) illegally online, myself included. I really can’t judge – in this day and age, it’s silly to expect people to wait years to watch something (especially when the internet has no geo-restrictions and is always rife with spoilers) or to be able to watch TV at a specific time on a specific day. The rise of video-on-demand and streaming services has shown that if people are given the opportunity to watch media legally, a lot of times, they will. Case in point: almost every person I know has a Netflix account now (or shares one with someone, thank goodness for their multi-person access option).

I love my Netflix account, but Netflixing in India is very different to Netflixing in Singapore. I’ve ranted about my data cap woes before, and Netflix is where that data cap pinches the most. Where I would happily stream hours of TV in a day (and I mean hours, they don’t call it binging for nothing), I’m forced to keep to more modest timings here. Where I could watch everything on a high-definition 40-inch TV screen, I’m now restricted to my tablet or my phone, which consume far less data than even my laptop. (And to think I once used to be a purist who couldn’t bear the thought of watching things on a small phone screen. How the mighty do fall.)

One of the good things Netflix introduced recently was the ability to download movies and episodes on portable devices like phones and tablets to watch later (without an internet connection). While I never required this option in Singapore, I planned to put it to full use here, taking advantage of the data war that’s been brewing in India since late last year. The details aren’t important, but the bottom line is that the local telcos have been falling over themselves trying to bait customers with free data. Having two SIM cards, each with varying amounts of free data in differing instalments with different deadlines, I played data gymnastics and made the most of it to download as many Netflix episodes as I could to watch… well, eventually. (I probably spend more time these days deciding what to watch than actually watching things, but that’s another post altogether.)

And so, over the span of two days, I downloaded some 40-50 episodes (literally full seasons of multiple TV series), very gung-ho about the fact that I’d somehow “cheated the system” and temporarily gotten ahead of my data woes. I celebrated too quickly – Uncle Murphy was due a visit, of course. When I next checked my Netflix account, every single thing I had downloaded had disappeared. I spent two days chasing up the problem with Netflix officials, one of whom cheerily asked me to “just re-download the episodes again”. If we had been video-chatting, and if looks could incinerate, that customer service representative would have been a smouldering pile of ash.

Now I’m back to square one, enjoying Netflix like no one should have to – on my phone, one measly episode a day. Still, I remember a time when I refused to go to a family gathering because I wanted to secretly watch a new episode of Roswell on TV (of course, I told my parents I had to study). When I think about those days, just the very idea of Netflix makes me grateful. Good things are relative.

Method to the Madness

It’s always interesting to me how different people approach blogging. I think the mark of a good blog is how effortless the writing seems. I remember, when I first started reading blogs, it seemed like churning out posts would be the easiest thing in the world. I mean, everyone has thoughts, and blogging is pretty much just putting that down in text form. Easy peasy, right?

When I first started blogging, it really was that simple. I had a lot of ideas, thoughts and opinions that I hadn’t really shared with a lot of people, and so it was always easy to think of something to write about. Back then, pretty much anything was “blog-worthy”, because I was working off an empty slate, and no one really knew much about me. My life in university gave me plenty of “adventures” to write about, and I had about 20 years of backstory to draw on for any deep, intellectual posts about life and growing up and such.

Then, as I emptied that first barrel of blog-worthy topics, and I began to feel the pinch of posting regularly, I started to look everything I did through blog-eyes. Was this worth posting about? Would people be interested in it? Was it funny enough to make a story out of? I started thinking a lot more about the mechanics of posting – it wasn’t just enough that I had a thought or an opinion or an event in mind, it had to “click” for me to be able to write about it. Some things were blog-worthy, most things were not. I would often whine, “But I have nothing to write about!”, when people around me, whose lives really weren’t that much more exciting than mine, were managing to churn out much more content than me.

Getting on board the A to Z challenge has really been a way to try and get out of this “click” mentality, and to write without getting too critical about the content. By and large, it has worked, because about 60% of what I’ve written in the four years of the challenge so far have been things I never would have considered “blog-worthy” before. (I’ve gotten desperate enough to write about gourds, for crying out loud.) Without the challenge, I wouldn’t even manage the 26 posts a year I do now.

From what I’ve seen of friends doing the challenge, everyone struggles with ideas, even the regular bloggers. The easiest way to go about it is to make a list of things you want to write about anyway, and then assign letters to them as needed. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work for me, since the whole purpose of the challenge is to get me to think of things to write about. It also helps to have a muse, like a child who does and says something new and different on a daily basis, but even that takes skill, to be able to take the everyday things and turn them into material worth reading about, and I’m not sure I have that skill. Many people pick a theme, which does make coming up with content easier, but since this is a personal blog about my life, I don’t like the idea of it getting too factual or repetitive.

There is no method to my madness (and, trust me, it is definitely madness come April every year). A lot of people write their posts in advance, but I just like the feeling of everyday panic and despair too much to do that. The mood varies every day. Some days, I know what I want to write about. Most days, I’m struggling to come up with ideas. About half the time, that struggle leads to a post I’m happy with. Other times, I write with the knowledge that future-me will not be as critical and that she’d rather have something to read than nothing at all.

On my most desperate days, I just have to write and hope that no one notices that I’ve essentially written about not having anything to write about.

Little Less Loquacious

I’m generally known as a chatty person – if I’m around people I know and like, there’s a good chance I’m talking my head off. I’ve gotten a little quieter through the years, but I don’t think I’ve lost the talkative habit fully yet. You can see it even in my writing, where what should be short, sweet posts turn into lengthy rambles. (I once contemplated having “Clueless Loves To Ramble” as a tag, but then I realised I’d be tagging pretty much every post with it, and it would serve no purpose whatsoever.) Even my job involves being wordy – I’m constantly on the lookout for fresh, new ways to say the same thing.

Which is why it’s very surprising and slightly alarming that lately, I’m becoming more and more like my mother, in that I’m starting to take after her distinctive style of communication. Let me elaborate. My mother is known for these kinds of conversations (I’ve translated from Tamil so it may have lost a bit of its style):

Mom: Please bring me that thing.

Me: What thing?

Mom: *snaps fingers* THAT thing.

Me: WHAT thing, Mom?

Mom: You know, that thing!

Me: No, I don’t know! What thing?

Mom: YOU KNOW, that! Tsk! Never mind, I’ll go get it myself.

Me: Wha..? USE YOUR WORDS, MOTHER.

Chances are very likely the word she was looking for was something as simple as ‘pen’. I used to find this inability to find the right words amusing, but I’m realising with a creeping horror that I’m becoming this person. I wouldn’t have realised if it weren’t for my cousin (who now lives with us) pointing it out to me. Many times have I started a conversation with her and then trailed off, resulting in her having to tell me through gritted teeth, “Finish your sentence!” Sometimes it’s because I can’t find the right word, other times it’s because I’ve forgotten what I was going to say midway through my sentence, and often, it’s a case of me having forgotten what I was going to say because I spent too long searching for the right word. And, you know, most of the time, people I’m speaking with can’t actually read my mind, so it must be frustrating to be on the receiving end of incomplete thoughts and fragmented sentences.

This is a worrisome trend for a healthy 30-year-old, and certainly for someone who deals with words for a living. I cannot afford to not be able to think of words. It’s not as much of a problem when I’m writing because I have time to mull things over, but my dreams of being a radio jockey are surely dashed now. I imagine radio audiences will not take kindly to long pauses while I hunt inside my brain for just the right word to use in a particular situation.

Anyway, allow me to express my feelings in a limerick (because this is an L post, after all, and I need to convince myself I’m the master of my own vocabulary):

Sometimes I leave my sentences to hang
Even though my cousin will surely harangue
I can’t find the right word
It’s really absurd
I’m just sick and tired of this whole…

*snaps fingers*

(“Finish your sentence!”)

Of Kith And Kin

I love having a brother. Older brothers can be a bit of a stereotype in TV and movies – they’re always overprotective, always a bit macho, and they say things like “You better not hurt her” to the incumbent boyfriend or husband. In truth, my relationship with my older brother is closer to what I have with my parents – absolute, unconditional trust that he will always have my back and that I can always, always count on him.

We do, however, have six years between us. I’m a girl and he’s a boy.  We never studied in the same school, and I spent all my teenage years by myself after he left for university in another country. All that put together, and I think it kind of makes sense that we never really became “friends”. We love each other, and we’ve been able to warm up to each other much, much more in recent years (the age gap becomes less and less divisive the older you get), but we’re still way too different to really be friends. If we weren’t related, I don’t know if we would make much of an effort to get to know each other. Because of that, I spent a lot of my teen years daydreaming about having a sister. Younger, older, it didn’t matter, I just wanted someone to talk to (my brother’s never been the chatty sort), to relate to, to get advice from (or to give it, even), to do girly things with.

I didn’t expect to get one at 18. (In retrospect, I should have expected it, but teenage girls don’t really think about their shy, introverted brothers getting married.) When I first met my (now) sister-in-law, some 12 years ago now,  I was immediately envious of her cool, chic haircut and her elegant style. I don’t remember all the details of those first few months, but I remember that she was warm, funny, introduced me to blogging, took me ice-skating, let me ramble and generally did all the things a good sister should do. I approved of her, of course, and let my brother know as much. She was a keeper.

Fast-forward a decade, and my relationship with her has only blossomed. People are sometimes surprised that we have such a solid bond, and I don’t know whether I should be offended (why is it a surprise that two non-related female family members get along well?) or agree with them about it being a bit of a minor miracle. Not in a “women can’t stand each other unless they’re related” way, but in a “how are we good friends when we don’t even have that much in common?” way. Because, honestly, if I really think about it, we’re very different people. We like the same broad things – books, music, writing, movies – but our tastes are polar opposites. Our personalities are not that similar, and our lifestyles are definitely on the extreme opposite ends of the spectrum (and not just because she’s a married woman and I’m single and ready to mingle fine as I am, thanks).

Still, we’ve managed to make it work. I say jokingly that we’ve spoken more in a decade than my brother and I have in three, but I think, more and more, that’s actually pretty accurate, especially if you include our ridiculous Whatsapp history. We’ve managed to bond over the most random things (book clubs, nail art, TV, online shopping) and found similarities in our love for the beach, picnics, Scrabble games, funny memes and new recipes (she makes, I eat). We’ve talked crap, we’ve talked philosophy. We’ve talked boy problems, work problems, people problems. We’ve laughed over badly-written matrimonial ads and made many, many (so many) terrible puns.

We’re friends, but like any good sibling, she’s also been an incredible source of inspiration. She’s dedicated, driven, organised and disciplined, qualities I’m always striving for in my own life. When we write our new year resolutions, I always wonder what she could possibly need to work on. She fires on all cylinders, she’s living proof that it can be done. At any point in time, she’s juggling a dozen balls, and doing it in a fabulous dress and kickass heels. She’s the complete package. In addition, she’s one half of the source of the smartest, funniest, most adorable little warrior princess I’ve ever met, the strongest glue any relationship could need.

She’s a wonderful sister-in-law, but more than that, she’s the sister I always wanted. I couldn’t have asked for better.

Happy birthday, BBG! 🙂

Joy Journal

Because it’s never a bad time to count the things that make you happy, here are some of the things giving me joy presently.

  • Blogging. Yes, I’m still constantly nervous about running out of ideas, but it’s so fun to write something new every day and to go around checking everyone’s blogs for new entries.
  • Work. I’ve moved on from training to writing audio description for a new Netflix series all by myself, which I’ve gotten some good feedback from the higher-ups for, so I’m pleased with how that’s going.
  • Reading. I’m managing about a book a month so far, which I’m happy about, even if I don’t have a book club to discuss with afterwards. (I’m currently reading Slaughterhouse Five, and plan to scour the internet for thinkpieces afterwards.) Also, looking at my to-read list on Goodreads gives me pre-emptive excitement for all the good books yet to come. So many books, so little time!
  • Flowers. I don’t know why I didn’t expect to find much roadside greenery in India, but Bangalore has been providing me with some gorgeous, colourful floral visuals that have been making my heart bloom.
  • Friends. I find it heartwarming that even though I’ve moved away from Singapore, so many of my friends have actively tried to keep in touch, either through Whatsapp groups or Skype chats. It’s nice to know that distance doesn’t break strong bonds. It’s also been nice getting to hang out with the people here – old friends with whom it barely feels like time has passed, and cousins with whom the friend/family line is blurred just the perfect amount.
  • My shows. You know, you’d think that watching movies and TV shows all day as part of my job would sour me on this a little, but nope. I still enjoy catching up with my fictional characters, and that feeling of anticipation for certain shows on certain days of the week, though not as strong as before, still makes me happy. Also, there’s so much good stuff coming out soon. We’re truly living in the golden age of television.
  • The radio. I’ve found a station here that I can listen to on the way to and back from work that plays both songs I know and a lot of older stuff that I wouldn’t normally listen to, so I’m really appreciating the new diversity in the music I’m listening to.
  • Household chores. I KNOW. I’m really enjoying taking care of the house while my parents are away, from putting the dishes back after they’re washed, to buying and restocking produce and groceries, to washing floor mats and changing bedcovers, to paying the bills. You know you’re getting old when you really get a kick out of doing mundane things. That said, though…
  • The thought of the parentals coming back this weekend. If you’re reading this, Mom and Dad, be warned – there will be hugs.

And since we’ve invoked Kurt Vonnegut in this post, I’ll leave you with a timely quote I found:

“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'”