Zip Zap Zoom

Aaaaand I’m done!

Okay, I have this post left, but after that I’m done. Phew!

April does seem to have zoomed by this year. It usually feels a lot longer, especially because I spend so much time thinking about and nagging people for topics, but this year was mercifully not as painful, even though I did no sort of advance preparation. Like I said before, I think the move gave me more to write about than usual, so I’ll need something big to happen in my life before next April, please.

You know, I wonder what’s better – doing this sort of concentrated posting once a year or trying to do 26 posts spread throughout the year. The latter seems more manageable right now, but I know myself, and there’s a good chance I won’t come back here until next year (if that). In case I do, though, and you’d like to stay posted (pun intended), please follow the blog so you can get notified when I post and don’t have to keep checking the blog for new content.

A big thank you to my fellow bloggers for the company and the inspiration. Thank you to my friends and family who put up with this nonsense on a yearly basis, and thank you to the readers for reading, commenting and being encouraging! No matter how much I tell myself that I blog for myself (specifically, for future me to read and cringe at), it’s always nice to have that little bit of external validation.

I think I’ve managed to keep up with friends’ blogs over the month, but I haven’t ventured out at all. (The official challenge blog didn’t have a sign-up list this time, so there wasn’t one easy place to go and find everyone else participating.) What with work, freelance, reading and writing, that might just be too many words at the moment for me. I think I’ll go back and read other blogs in what I’m coming to call “the off-season”.

So, cheerio and hope to see you guys here again… well, sometime! 🙂

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Yin Yoga

I’ve been doing yoga since I was quite young. Wait, that makes me sound too disciplined. I’ve been doing yoga on and off since I was quite young. When I was in school, I was part of a dance troupe, and we once performed “snake dance”. It involved wearing a shiny costume with a snake hood and writhing and wriggling on stage to snake-charmer music. It sounds silly, but it was actually a pretty decent display of flexibility – a lot of our poses are things you’ll see in advanced yoga, just done at a faster pace and in group formation. I was pretty good at it, if I say so myself. I was never particularly thin, even as a young girl, but I was fit and I was very flexible.

I’m still quite flexible, but not nearly as fit, which is why I’m trying to put yoga back into my regular routine. What I like about yoga is that size doesn’t matter. I find that running and other aerobic exercises depend a lot on size – if you’re larger, it’s harder to do them, and the possibility of injury is greater. Yoga also provides a lot of modifications, so people can choose what they’re comfortable with based on their degree of flexibility and strength. It’s this strength part that I like most about yoga. I’ve been doing it every alternate day for the past few months and I realise that I can sweat as much as I do with aerobic exercise, but that I feel a lot stronger as opposed to drained. I once started a 55-minute session of yoga on YouTube thinking I was going to sweat it out, before realising that it was yin yoga, which involves sitting in one posture for up to five minutes at a time. I almost switched to another video, because I thought it wouldn’t be enough of a workout, but curiosity kept me going and it turned out to be pretty energising, even though there wasn’t a lot of movement.

I’ve mentioned that I don’t much like travelling in Bangalore when I don’t need to, so for now, I’m sticking to YouTube videos and doing the sessions at home since I already have a decent amount of experience to not need supervision. On some level, I find it amusing that I, an Indian woman, am taking yoga instructions from mostly white ladies, but even if I do chuckle at their pronunciations of the different asanas, I can’t deny that they’ve all been good teachers. Most of them are patient and understanding (yes, this shows even through a computer screen) and make yoga a holistic experience, rather than just sticking to poses. Often, there are breathing and meditation exercises included in these sessions, and there’s an emphasis on slowly getting better and stronger in all ways rather than pushing yourself to exhaustion.

I recently saw a video of some 90-year-old woman doing advanced yoga, and it was quite inspiring. I’m also slowly trying to get rid of the mentality of size and weight being related to fitness, focusing on the latter and hoping the former will follow suit. And I don’t know if yoga is helping me lose weight, but it’s definitely helping me feel fitter, and I think that’s what matters right now.

Xie Xie

If you’re a religious person, thanksgiving comes along with the rest of the package. Not the holiday, just the act of giving thanks, of being grateful. Prayers, trips to a chosen place of worship, rituals and offerings, they all have an element of gratitude woven into them. That’s not to say that everyone doing it is actually truly grateful, but at least they go through the motions. For the not-so-religious people like me, it becomes necessary to take a more conscious approach to gratitude, to actively say thanks once in a while. Not jut for all the material things in life (which do matter a lot), but for all the things I sometimes take for granted, the things that happened out of my control that I can’t take credit for, all the bits and bobs that have led me to where I am. These things strike most when I come across someone who doesn’t have one or more of these things, and I realise how much better off I am. We tell people, “Be happy, someone is worse off than you.” This really doesn’t apply to everyone, but it does to me, because I have so much to be thankful for:

For loving parents, truly caring siblings and a niece who I love and who loves me. (I often forget how very crucial and totally out of our hands this is – you don’t get to choose family.)

For growing up comfortably without major upheavals.

For having functional use of my body and brain.

For being lucky enough to finish my education fuss-free.and work

For being and work steadily and keep my mind occupied in productive activity.

For being able to make ends meet.

For having the financial support to take risks.

For the luxury of time and money to pursue interests and hobbies.

For the freedom to pursue my dreams and goals and to chart my own path in life.

For not being forced into the idea of marriage and children.

For having the capacity to think and make rational, reasonable decisions.

For the good fortune of not falling prey to problems like depression or addiction.

For the good people in my life (friends, teachers, colleagues), and for being lucky enough to get rid of the bad influences.

I know it’s become a huge joke now and we make fun of millennials for doing it, sometimes you just have to say it and mean it as sincerely as possible (which I do) – I truly am (hashtag) blessed.

Wistful Wonderment

When I made the big decision to move countries in pursuit of a new job, a lot of my thoughts and worries were related to adjusting to living in India, as opposed to leaving Singapore. My feelings on the Singapore side of things were basically around the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to hang out with my brother, sis-in-law and niece on a regular basis anymore. I knew they were upset about this too, because the sis-in-law said, “Go, have fun. Just, you know, be back in a year.”

Subconsciously, that must have stuck in my head as I made final preparations to leave, because I did everything as though I was going away on extended vacation rather than moving away. I had to move out of my house, of course, but I left almost everything else in a suspended state, convinced that I would eventually be returning in a year. It’s been almost three months since I left (a quarter of a year! đŸ˜±) and now, actually living here and working here, it’s really hard for me to tell whether I’ll be able to stick to that deadline of one year. I have no idea how things will shake out in the coming months.

I think in the hurry of packing up a life’s worth of things and leaving, I didn’t get a chance to fully say goodbye to Singapore. Rather, I did say goodbye, but it was quick and rushed, with no thought as to all the things I was going to be leaving. When people asked me during the last few weeks whether there was anything special I wanted to do or anywhere specific I wanted to go, I couldn’t think of anything because I hadn’t had a chance to miss anything yet. And then when I got here, there was so much to be done (from setting up bank accounts and getting government ID cards done to setting up a house and finding my feet at work) that I didn’t have the time or the mental headspace to think too much about anything else.

Now, though, I’m slowly starting to remember all the things I miss. The people are a given, not just my family, but my small group of friends, who always made the time to meet up (despite most of them having much busier schedules) and do things together. Different friends satisfied different needs (one to go cafe hopping with, one to do nail art with, one to exchange book recs with, one to watch movies with, one to drink wine with), and together, they made for a very holistic friendship experience.

This post is for the other stuff I miss, or as the sis-in-law puts it, “NON-LIVING THINGS.” I’ll leave out the obvious things like cleanliness, public transport, general orderliness, efficiency and safety, and focus on things that are more specific to me. In no specific order:

  • Food. I know, I know. For all intents and purposes, I get tons more options in India than I did in Singapore – practically everything here has a vegetarian option. I think what I miss is the variety, and the easy access to different kinds of cuisines. Yes, there are lots of places here that serve world cuisines, but it usually takes a bit of travelling to get to anywhere good, and there’s just not that many restaurants to choose from for any particular cuisine. Whereas in Singapore, to borrow from a Tamil saying, if you trip and fall, you’ll land on a restaurant. Food is everywhere. Also, in the last two or three years, vegetarian food has started getting really popular. I mean, McDonald’s put its first ever vegetarian burger on the menu after a full decade of me being there. When my mom visited me last year, we made a list of vegetarian-only places and couldn’t even tick all of them off the list by the time she left a few months later. All that just makes me sadder that I had to leave just when vegetarianism was really catching on.
  • Groceries. Vegetable shopping is so much easier when things are neatly packaged and weighed and not loose and caked in dirt. Also, even the basic supermarket would have gourmet ingredients for my more ambitious cooking adventures, whereas here, if I want herbs or a special type of cheese, I have to either order it online or travel to find a place selling it. (We’ve established how much I don’t like to travel here.)
  • The internet. I’ve elaborated on this already.  Suffice to say, I miss not having to think about numbers so much.
  • Movies. I used to watch an average of two movies per month in the cinema back in Singapore. On Tuesdays, you could get cheap tickets for $6.5, and plenty of popcorn and drinks for $4. Also, getting to a screening would be easy, because there would be a cinema in almost every mall, and malls were scattered around the small city so plentifully that you’d land on one if you – repeat it with me – tripped and fell. I get to watch TV and movies as part of my job now, so this isn’t so much of an issue, but I miss making movie dates with friends, just as an excuse to meet them often.
  • The library. Good God, do I miss the library. Singapore has about 30 public ones (another one of those “trip and fall” places), and all of them are large, air-conditioned, neatly maintained and well-stocked (and in some cases, damn stylish). For $10, I had a lifetime membership, which gave me access to more books than I could borrow at a time. Many a day have I spent in the library, perfectly content to sit in a corner, reading or working, nipping out for a quick lunch or a coffee. Good times.
  • The beach. For me, the beach, especially when thought of in relation to Singapore, means a whole lot more than just sand and water. For me, it includes picnics with the family, long walks with the housemate and even longer bicycle rides to the airport or to the city. It is associated with sunrises and sunsets and ocean breezes, a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of normal life.
  • Sidewalks. How sad is it that this can be something one can miss?! You can walk everywhere in Singapore. If not for the weather, I probably would actually have walked everywhere. Here, the sidewalk is more like “the side of the road”, and I have to be constantly on the lookout for open ditches, garbage, mud, spit, poop, and of course, cows.

Singapore is essentially Western life in an Asian context, which, when you think about it, really is the best of both worlds. I miss you, home away from home! (It’s too early for nostalgia, no? </3)

Viral Video

The viral video is a huge concept these days. It’s not enough for a video to be good, it has to catch everybody’s attention (which it usually does this with some sort of click-baity title). And then the video has to be shared by everyone and their mother on every social media platform until the whole world has seen it and is talking about it. Of course, all this buzz lasts for about two days, and then it’s on to the next big thing, because that’s how short our attention span has become.

When I first got into the whole internet/YouTube thing in university, the whole viral video concept was totally different. I don’t remember hearing the term “viral video” until much, much later. Back then, instead of immensely popular generic videos, it was more common for groups of people to bond over the most obscure videos hidden in the corners of the internet. These videos would become huge inside jokes, and would get quoted on the regular between friends, while people who hadn’t seen it would have no context with which to decipher seemingly random conversations. Humour was a big part of what made these videos work (as is the case now with most viral videos), but the more common through thread was just plain, sheer randomness.

Like this video of “acapella horses” that I will never forget the tune for  (that I only just realised is supposed to be a game):

Or this animation of the end of the world as narrated by an angry French man:

Or this song about cows that tells a whole story of rebellion:

Or this dude doing the most enthusiastic lip syncing to a song pretty much everyone made up the lyrics to:

Or this video set to John Williams soundtracks that taught me everything I needed to know about Star Wars until I actually watched Star Wars much, much later:

And so, so, so many more. This may be the old person in me talking, but I just can’t imagine that kids these days can have those sorts of experiences, not with the volume of stuff being produced on a daily basis. I mean, there’s just SO MUCH to see now, I wonder how much really has lasting power.

Uniquely (Uter)Us

“Give me ideas for a ‘U’ post!” I wailed to the sister-in-law over Whatsapp yesterday. This wailing normally starts much earlier in the month, but I think moving to India has given me quite a bit of ammunition this year in terms of having new things to talk about. Now that we’re in the homestretch, though, my brain is completely fried, so I turned to Sayesha for help.

Dependable as she is, Sayesha threw a whole bunch of ‘U’ words at me, most of which I rejected because I’d either already written about them or couldn’t think of anything to write for them. And then, because we’re us and we can’t resist an opportunity to get ridiculous, this conversation unfolded:

Sayesha: Uterus!

Me: What about uteruses?! “I have one, I don’t plan to use it, kthxbye.”

Sayesha: Nice brief post. Egg-cellent idea, in fact.

Me: Ova-t an idea!

Sayesha: Womb-an, go for it.

Me: God-h will smite me.

[Sayesha: 😂 We are punning in hindia now.

Me: It happuns only in hindia!]

Sayesha: Don’t say things on the sper(m) of the moment hor.

Me: If I don’t say anything, we will be left with pregnant pauses in our conversation. The soil of our conversation needs fertilising.

Sayesha: Use your fertile imagination.

Me: I knew you’d go for the same word!

[Our ‘fertile/fertilisation’ pun happened at the same time, because our brains work the same way.]

Sayesha: đŸ˜±đŸ˜€ Blast(ocyte) it!

Me: I’m going to get gas(trulation) from all this uterus talk.

Sayesha: Embryo-ce the truth.

Me: Are you planting the seeds for my next post? Ovule make me think of a new topic altogether?

Sayesha: You are s-o-vary talented, you can do it. I’ll cheer you on – for she’s a jolly good fallo(pian tube).

Me: The penis mightier than the sword. Wait… was that a double entendre?

Sayesha: 😂 Yes-trogen.

Me: God, this feels like a test(osterone), doesn’t it? If I pull this off, it will be a mighty foet(us).

[Long silence as both of us rack our brains to try and remember 12th standard Biology.]

Me: [giving up and aiming low] Balls!

Sayesha: Hi men!

Me: 😂😂😂 There aren’t any men here. Are you sure you’re taking the same test(icles) as me?

Sayesha: That’s just your folli(cle).

Me: If I reproduce this conversation word for word, do you think I’ll pass the test? I’m hoping to get a (pla)centa.

Sayesha: In the words of the Japanese, u-ter-us!

Me: 😂😂😂😂😂😂

Sayesha: It’s a tough period in your life.

Me: It’s the lack of men(struation), I’m sure. Okay, zygote to go, dinner time! Thanks for the post!

Remember when I wondered why we are friends despite being very different people? The answer is obviously what we both have in common – uteruses and a love for puns.

Okay, okay, we’re ready for our pun-ishment now.

Traffic Terror

About 20 years ago, mentioning Bangalore would have elicited a response to the tune of, “Oh, the weather is lovely there.” Today, you’re much more likely to hear, “God, I hear the traffic is terrible.” It’s a sad reality that the Bangalore of today is very, very far from the one I remember fondly from when I used to visit my grandparents during school vacations, and one of the things that makes it so vastly different is the crazy, crazy increase in the number of people living and working here, and consequently, the traffic.

I’ve been lucky. When I first decided to move to Bangalore, I did so with the knowledge that I would be avoiding most traffic problems due to a very early morning shift at work, and a pick-up and drop-off service. If I had been made to deal with arranging my own transport during regular peak hours, I wouldn’t even have attended the job interview. I admit, my decade-long stint in Singapore made me complacent in many ways. Public transport could take you pretty much anywhere you wanted to, across the length and breadth of the city, and even though I didn’t live particularly close to the metro, the bus connectivity near my place was excellent. It never took me more than an hour to get to most places.

What I’m realising here is that an hour is not that short a time when it comes to travel. It probably felt that way because public transport was comfortable in Singapore – you were always in an air-conditioned vehicle, travelling on smooth roads. An hour in an air-conditioned car here, on the other hand, can feel like an eternity, because when you’re not bumping over terrible roads, you’re staying still in one place. I underestimated the rage that can build in a person sitting in an unmoving vehicle. That gentle (or not so gentle) rocking motion of movement is a stress-reliever, not dissimilar to the swinging of a hammock. Take that out, and you suddenly become hyper-aware of the fact that you’re sitting in a small metal box, surrounded by other shrieking small metal boxes, and claustrophobia comes a-calling.

That said, though, because of the aforementioned work timings and my general lack of getting out for anything other than work, traffic isn’t what bothers me the most here. No, it’s just the simple fact of being in a passenger seat with a local driver, whether that’s in my work cab or an Uber or an auto. You see, the local driver here drives with an over-reliance on brakes that frightens me to my core. The first day I was in Bangalore for my interview, within five minutes of getting into my Uber, I was about 80% sure that I was going to die in a horrible crash, just because the guy was driving at speeds that shouldn’t have been possible on those roads. I didn’t die, obviously, but reliably, the driver mowed over a dude on a bike about 100 metres from my destination. I hurriedly got out and walked the rest of the way while he got pulled over by traffic cops (who, I swear, materialised out of nowhere). As I was walking to my destination, another dude swerved too fast into the lane and went skidding along with his bike, inches from where I was on the sidewalk. (I say “sidewalk”, I mean “side of the road”.) Luckily, neither incident caused any major injuries, but you can imagine why all the stories about Bangalore and traffic had suddenly taken a very personal turn for me.

If I thought travelling in a personal vehicle to and from work during off-peak hours would be less terrifying, I thought wrong. The way we get picked up, I get the middle seat in a large jeep and, along with the discomfort, a clear view out the front windshield. For the first few weeks, my hands would be perpetually clutching the headrest of the two seats in front, and I would flinch and react to every vehicle that came too close, every vehicle that we got too close to, every turn taken too fast, every cow narrowly avoided, every pedestrian who leisurely crossed the road as if he was a cow and had divine luck on his side. True Bangaloreans do not worry about such inconsequential things as mortality, so neither the pedestrians nor the rest of my colleagues in the car bat an eye, leaving me to look like I’m just overreacting to mundane things.

So, I guess if you’re living in Bangalore, the question is this – would you rather lose your mind in bumper-to-bumper traffic, but be happy about your chances of survival because, well, you’re not really moving enough to crash into anything, or travel at daredevil speeds on free, empty roads, risking life and limb, but be happy you got to your destination quickly (if at all)?

What a terrible conundrum.

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?